Friday, December 5, 2014

Hope Boxes

Families who experience infant loss while their child is in the NICU, whether the parents have been discharged or not, receive one of our hand decorated boxes.  These boxes are filled with an assortment of items for both body and soul, including lotion, lip balm, coffee, tea, mug, journal, Bible, and One Year Book of Hope.

At first glance, these items seem a little random.  So I thought I might elaborate on how we arrived at these contents.  After Reagan was born, I was mailed a Hope Box from Hope Mommies which contained many of these same items.  We've added some and changed others, but that was the most helpful and encouraging packages I received.  One of the moments I remember with the most clarity after Reagan was born was sitting in the backyard next to the flower garden we planted for her, sipping my tea, and reading about Heaven.  It brought me so much peace to know where she was and that she was cared for.  We had a passage in Isaiah engraved on her urn, Isaiah 65:17-23.  We were comforted in knowing our Lord had suffered loss and grieved with us.  Without this Hope, we had nothing.  Thus, we have included a Bible.  Nancy Guthrie wrote the One Year Book of Hope after losing not just one but two children to a genetic disease.  She is open and honest in sharing her pain, hurt, and frustrations with each child's death, but also the Hope she has in Christ.  After Reagan was born, I began journaling on paper again (which I hadn't done since maybe middle school??).  There were moments we chose to keep private, letters we wrote to Reagan which were not meant to be read by anyone else.  And the monogrammable journals provided in our boxes and do just that for these families.

The items that seem a little less obvious are those intended to be more for pampering.  Here's the thing, after you lose a child, you don't want to do anything.  You don't care if you eat or drink.  You don't care if you shower.  It becomes very easy to retreat into yourself.  These small items can help.  Lips still get chapped, particularly after a hospital stay (drier air, perhaps?)  Sleeping become difficult, and lavender aromatherapy lotion won't fix that, but it may give a moment of slight relaxation.  Drinking some coffee first thing in the morning to get you out of bed or drinking Sleepytime tea at night to help you rest may be just the thing that is needed.

There is nothing profoundly special about what we put in each box.  They are simply the items we have found most useful, items that brought us the most peace.  Returning to life without your child is incredibly painful and difficult, and if these boxes can help any one family, show them a moment of peace, give them a Hope for the future, then our mission has been accomplished.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

December updates

I cannot believe it has already been 6 weeks since we launched.  Time flies.  I have been keeping busy with getting everything put together for the hospital but have done poorly at updating here.  So, the last 6 weeks in review:

Our flower delivery is now be running smoothly, with all nurse managers on board and an easier way to streamline the process to prevent overlooking patients or duplicate orders.  Handmade cards with donated Shutterfly paper are ready to go in the gift shop, delivered with each flower order.  We have been told that 1-2 stillbirths occur EACH week, meaning up to 8-9 flowers/cards will be used each month.  I still cannot believe the statistic is that high and yet is so rarely discussed.  This means the annual cost of flower delivery alone is potentially over $3000 at one single hospital.  We hope to expand into CMC in the coming months/year which will more than double that cost.

Twelve hope boxes are decorated, stuffed, and about ready to go.  We have a handful in the NICU already.  These boxes go directly to families who experience an infant loss while their child is in the NICU.  We had to swap out some materials so they could be given to families of all demographics, so these boxes now cost right at $50 each to make.  Families who experienced stillbirth and contact us are welcome to have a box shipped to them at no cost.  At this point, though, these families receive a separate box while hospitalized from a different organization.  Though our boxes do not contain any of the same materials, we had no interest in stepping on toes or trying to push this other organization out of labor and delivery.  The NICU families, however, were not being served.  Now they are, and from this point forward any families experiencing loss should have a beautiful box to take home.

Finally, just last week we received approval from the nurse managers and VP of women's services to have a cuddle cot placed.  This means we just need to raise the funds (just over $4000) and we can order one for Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center.  It's a daunting task.  But I know how special it would have been to have had something for Reagan, to keep her longer, to keep her near us.  You would do anything for those precious minutes you have with your child.  We pray this will help some families get to spend more time with their loved ones.

Our current needs are: cards.  If you have a talent for decorating or at least have nice handwriting, please contact us at and we can coordinate getting you supplies to make cards.  Again, we will be making enough cards for 2 each week, so 104 every year.  Secondly, giving.  Please prayerfully considering giving to support our cause.  We would love to have some families sign up to give 1 bouquet of flowers each month ($30).  This will ensure we do not reach a point where families cannot receive a gift due to lack of funds.  We also are looking to purchase the Cuddle Cot as soon as possible and need to raise an additional $4000 for that, above and beyond the funds needed for flower delivery, cards, and boxes.  Please visit to make a donation.  And finally, though this is first and foremost, we need your prayers.  We cannot do this on our own.  We are reaching these families during the darkest of times and only God can provide true healing.

Thank you all for your love and support over these 6 weeks!


Friday, October 31, 2014

Reagan's Story: 2nd birthday


Happy birthday my love!  You are turning two today - two!  It sounds so big to me, especially as I look at your younger brothers.  And the time has just passed in a blur.  But, forever in my mind, always easy for me to picture, is your precious little face.  Exactly as you looked 2 years ago.

The day you were born was difficult to say the least, full of uncertainty and pain.  But, oh the joy.  I remember distinctly my heart doing this little flutter when I first laid eyes on you.  I still remember those eyelashes, those peaceful eyes, and of course the pouty lips.  We often think you would have looked so much like Dean.  I can picture your smile, your blonde curly hair bouncing as you run through heaven.  I am so sad I am not there to celebrate with you today, but I know you are having an absolute blast.  I can't wait to see what birthdays are like in heaven - what kind of wonderful gifts you receive, what you get to learn and experience, and how special it must be to get hugs and kisses from your Heavenly Father.  You are one lucky little girl!

Knowing that, knowing how vibrant and full your life is, makes things so much easier for us.  Though I would still chose things differently, I know with confidence your life was meant for eternity.  And that brings me immeasurable peace.  So, the four of us are celebrating your birthday as much as we can down here.  We're visiting the last happy place you went - Blowing Rock.  We absolutely love it and are glad we are not house bound this year.  We have purple balloons (of course) to send up to you.  Mommy made you the most delicious strawberry cupcakes (with super yummy buttercream frosting, from scratch!).  Your brothers even made you cards and did the coloring all by themselves.  They're very special, and we'll put them in your memory box for safe keeping.  We'll watch the videos of you dancing away tonight.  And though it always makes us cry, it reminds us of how happy you were.  It reminds us you have only known love and there was no suffering in your life.

We are so incredibly proud to be your parents, to know how much your life has touched others.  We are so thankful God is using you and your precious time here on earth to change others, to change us most of all.  We love you so very much, Reagan.  So much.  Not a day goes by that we don't miss you, and we can't wait to see you again!

Happy second birthday, Rea Rea!!  Mommy and Daddy love you always!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Reagan's Story: 1st Birthday

Happy Birthday sweet Reagan!  I cannot believe it has been a year since we welcomed you into this world and laid eyes on you for the first time.  You brought us so much joy in those brief moments!  And when I think back, I remember it like it was yesterday.  The labor pains are all a blur, but I remember how it felt to feel you kick for the first time, to see the joy on Daddy’s face when he felt it too.  I remember what it was like to hold you for the first time, to see your precious face.  And I remember what I felt when we laid you in that basket and said goodbye to you.  And my heart continues to break.  Time does not make this easier.  I don’t think anything ever will.  But today, on your birthday, I want to remember the good times. 

The first time I felt your little flutter kicks we were on the way home from church.  I was having a hard day, not feeling very well, and I think you knew that.  And so you kicked as hard as you could.  I didn’t feel you move again for a little while, but then I started feeling the butterflies more and more often.  And Daddy finally felt them right before a Clemson game. 

You loved your Tigers!  We took you to 2 games and you helped the Tigers win in each of them.  Every time you would get to kicking away at my bladder, the Tigers scored.  Four out of four times!  What a huge fan you were!  We like to think you continue to watch the games from Heaven and cheer them on.  And we are saving your special Clemson onesies for your future younger sisters so they can have something from you.

The day you were born was such a bittersweet day.  Part of me didn’t want to believe it was true, I wanted to keep you inside of me and pray constantly God would bring you back.  I made the doctors do a 3rd ultrasound just to be sure.  And labor took so long, but I knew it was the last I would ever feel of you and I didn’t want it to end.  But then it did, and I delivered you at 11:16 PM after the hardest day of my life.  And you were just perfect.  Absolutely perfect.  You were the most beautiful girl I had ever seen.  You looked just like us!  I am still in shock when I look at my baby pictures just how much you looked like me.  And it makes me smile.  You had the most delicate, little features – eyes, cheekbones, chin – with the biggest pouty lips and longest eyelashes.  So special.  We fell in love with you in an instant, more than before.  Seeing you just locked us in for life.  I will always cherish our time together.

This past year has been so difficult.  We continue to grieve what we are missing with you, though we know we will be together again.  We welcomed your younger brothers into the world on June 29 this year.  They were also little, but look huge compared to you.  When I look at your footprints next to theirs, there is no comparison!  They have such big boy feet!  We are all home now after a long hospital stay.  I know you have been praying for them and looking out for them, such a good big sister.  We love having them home, but sometimes it is a painful reminder of what we didn’t get to do with you.  And when everyone was excited for our family to be together again, we felt the emptiness of you not being here.  Because we still don’t feel like our whole family is together again.  But one day we will be again!

Not a day goes by that we don’t think of you.  And we talk of you often, tell Warren and Dean all about you.  We want them to grow up knowing they have a big sister.  To always know that October 31 is YOUR day.  And I want to celebrate your birthday each year.  To try to think of the positives, to be happy for you and not sad for us.  I want it to be spent planting flowers for you in your garden, visiting the last happy place you went in the mountains, setting loose purple balloons, and watching your video.  We want to celebrate your life and all the joy your brought into ours.  So today, on your very first birthday, that is exactly what we are doing.  We love you so much baby girl!

Happy one year birthday Rea Rea!  Mommy and Daddy love you so much!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Reagan's Story: Heaven

Every once in a while I have these moments of peace.  Mostly I alternate between rage (how in the world could God do this to us?) and being numb.  I continue to struggle with the why.  And trying to figure out what lesson God is teaching me through this.  And why could He not have taught me that lesson in another way? A less painful one?  One when my daughter did not have to die?  One in which I was not surrounded by pregnant women constantly?  One that did not cause this suffocating grief?  But He did not chose to do things that way, and yet again I am left trying to surrender the illusion of control.  Because let's be honest, I've never really been in control.  And this proves it.  If I was in control, she would be happy and kicking around in my belly.  I would now be in my 3rd trimester - complaining of being fat, waddling around the office at work, fighting swollen legs and hemorrhoids and heart burn.

I'm getting off topic, happens so quickly now.  Just takes a second to get sucked back into my sorrows, when I started writing this today so I could share my peace.  Okay, let's try this again.  Every once in a while I have these moments of peace.  Today it came after reading more on heaven.  My new favorite pastime (one in which I can find joy while not feeling guilty for not thinking constant of Reagan) is sitting outside in the sunshine with my tea right next to Reagan's garden.  That sort of makes me sound like I've turned into an old woman...  But today, I was reading a book on heaven.  I've struggled to get through this book with all the complicated theology and references.  So today, I skipped ahead.  And read the fun part - about relationships and society and family and everything we will experience.  And it just makes me so happy to catch glimpses of what Reagan might be doing up there.

Today, I found it reassuring that I will know my daughter when I get to heaven.  I have always had this fear that heaven would feel somewhat lonely - I would be worshiping the Lord so I would not really miss anything while there and would be content and filled with joy.  But it just seemed a little empty to me.  And the more I read and study, scripture paints a very different picture.  Relationships will continue in heaven as they did on Earth, just minus sin.  No more bitterness or petty fights, no back talking or lying, no deceit or gossip.  Reagan will never have to deal with that.  And the God given gifts we have on Earth will continue in heaven.  Not just things like "faith" or "prayer" or "hospitality" (though I'm sure those will as well) but musical talents, dancing, acting, etc.  We will return to the way we were originally created before the fall, worshiping God through all actions.  Not just singing hymns or reading the Bible (though, again, I'm sure we will do that)  And so, very soon I will get to see Reagan dancing her heart away in the streets of heaven.  And she will never trip, lose her balance, or be off beat.  She will be perfect at it, just the way God created her.  And when I get to heaven, I will know her.  We will pick up our relationship where we left off.  And we'll dance together.  And then she will dance with her Daddy (who won't even step on her feet!)  And it will be the sweetest reunion.

Not only will we be reunited with Reagan, but we will get the opportunity to know her twin we lost before we even found out gender.  I always thought we had one of each, so until I know differently, it is a boy.  A little boy I like to think of as Samuel.  Who has sandy brown hair, chubby cheeks, and runs through the field of purple flowers holding his sister's hand and laughing. (cause, remember, in heaven they get along.  no fighting!)  We will learn what he enjoys doing, what his talents are, and how God is using him for His glory.  I have 2 children waiting for me.  And their waiting is filled with joy and wonder and awe with the Lord.  No pain on their behalf, just mine.  And mine is temporary.  Until we are reunited again...

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Reagan's Story: One Month

(From 11/30/12)

I cannot believe it has already been 1 month.  One month since I held my precious Reagan in my arms for the last tie.  Time has not really made it any easier.  Sometimes I am so completely overwhelmed with how much I miss her that I can hardly breathe.  I now know true pain and heartbreak.  I will always miss my sweet baby girl and know nothing will ever take her place.

The past month has been an emotional roller coaster.  At times I have collapsed on the ground, sobbing and missing my Reagan so bad.  My heart literally aches and there is a huge weight pushing down on me, suffocating me.  At times the grief is unbearable and I would how I could ever go on.  I had that yesterday.  I thought of how I should be putting the "1 month" sticker on her chest, posing her with stuffed animals, and posting in on Facebook.  But I never will.  We have pictures with her in my belly and from the hospital, and that is all.  I will never get a new picture, unless there are cameras in heaven?

At other times, I have felt incredible peace.  A peace I know can only come from above.  I realize Reagan is in a much better place.  She is not suffering, not even a little right now.  She will never know pain or heartache, will never be lonely or unloved.  She will never have tears running down her tiny, little face.  Right now, she is perfect.  She is healthy.  And she is loved.  She will never know anything different.  We prayed for God to keep her safe, and He has.  Just not in the way I expected.

Reagan has touched so many lives here on Earth.  In nearly 28 years, I have done very little.  And in 21 weeks, she has already had a greater impact on the world.  That is such a blessing for me, to know her life counted.  Of course it counted for us, as she has brought us so much joy.  But it also brings me peace to know her life has helped others.  Makes me a proud Mommy.

One month ago, I said goodbye to my precious little one.  I looked into her eyes for the first and last time.  I rocked her and sang her a lullaby for the first and last time.  I told her I loved her for the last time.  I still remember exactly how it felt to hand her over to the funeral home - like my insides were shattering, like my heart had stopped beating, like I was dying inside.  I felt that again when we picked up her urn and baby blanket, when I looked at her memory book at a family wedding, shortly before her memorial, and at Thanksgiving.  And I'm sure I will feel that way again.  Each time I thought I might die of grief, sadness, loneliness.  And each time God has carried me through.  I am now one month closer to seeing my Reagan again and spending eternity with her.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Reagan's Story: Memorial

(From 11/28/2012)

4 weeks ago today we welcomed into the world our beautiful baby girl.  She was already gone, but we were able to hold and love her for a brief time.  She was taken away the following day.  Last week we had her memorial service.  I wrote the following words, which I spoke during her service, during those times when I was feeling God's grace and peace around me.  It was the best way I knew to honor her.

"These past 3 weeks have been difficult and heartbreaking.  There have been times we have been crushed with grief, wondering how we could ever go on.  There have been times when God has comforted us and given us a peace that surpasses all understanding.  We have struggled with understanding why – why would we have to struggle so much with infertility?  Why would God allow us to get pregnant, only to take her away so early? Why would I have to go through hours of painful labor for a child we knew we would never take care of?  I have experienced every emotion possible.  And I still have no answers.  But I do know I am forever grateful for the hours we had with Reagan. 

I found out I was pregnant on July 3, 2012.  I laid eyes on her for the first time on July 18.  She looked like a blob.  A blob with a steady heartbeat.  And we fell in love.  Over the next several months, we watched as our blob developed into a beautiful little girl.   Each ultrasound brought us so much joy; I could have watched her for hours.  I still remember the first time we saw her dancing in my belly, bobbing her head side to side and kicking her legs.  At only 9 weeks she had so much energy!  Each time we saw Reagan after that, she was always dancing.  So very happy.

I felt her kick for the first time at 15 weeks.  Tiny little butterflies in my stomach.  It was such a wonderful feeling.  And she kept getting stronger.  Andrew was able to feel her a few weeks later – and his face just lit up, so proud of his little girl.  It was such a blessing for me to be able to watch him get so excited, knowing he would be such a wonderful father.  And so we started dreaming of our future together – picked out purple for her nursery color and started painting color samples, registered for a ridiculous amount of stuff, bought and received an assortment of adorable pink and ruffled tiny clothes.  We dreamed of Barbie dolls and tea parties, dress up and dance recitals, skinned knees and butterfly kisses.

And then, something happened.  And God decided to take her home.  Reagan was born on October 31, 2012.  She weighted only 7 ounces.  And she was perfect

We got to spend some time with her before we said goodbye.  As we are sitting in the hospital holding Reagan, I am overwhelmed with how much I love her already.  When you are dating someone, you almost have to earn their love.  When you are married, you chose to love each other.  But when you have a child, it just happens.  Here is our beautiful daughter who has done nothing to earn our love – she was expensive, made me sick every second of the day for 14 weeks, made me tired, made my whole body swell, and caused us countless hours of worry and stress.  And yet, we love her so completely. 

It brought me so much joy to hold her and study her face, her tiny, little face.  She had the most delicate features.  She has Andrew’s eyes and long eyelashes – closed and peaceful.  She had my lips and chin, and we decided in that instant she would have been an amazing pouter.  She was a perfect blend of each of us.

When I first heard I was going to have to go through labor to deliver her, I thought it was some sort of cruel joke.  Surely there must be an easier way.  But it gave us those precious hours with her.  And I wouldn’t change that for anything in the world.  It gave me a chance to see my baby girl, to hold her.  I will forever cherish that time together.

Jeremiah 29:11: For I know the plans for you, Declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future.

God is in control.  And right now, it is his plan that we walk this very difficult road.  That we learn to rely on Him for strength and healing.  It was his plan that I struggled with infertility.  And it was his plan that I got pregnant and delivered her very early.  And even though I cannot see it now, his plan is good.  His plan is not to harm me.  His plan is to give me a hope and a future.  I don’t know why this happened to us, and I don’t think I ever will this side of heaven.  But I don’t have to, because God does. 

On the other hand, this was God’s perfect plan for Reagan.  His plan for her was also to give her a hope and a future, not to harm her.  Even when it’s not the way I would have chosen.  From the moment He knit her together, this has been his plan.  It is not my plan – my plan involved her here with me.  But my plan is selfish and revolves around me and what I want.  And I know deep in my heart that this was absolutely what was best for Reagan.  As a parent, you have to think about your child’s needs before your own.  And even though it breaks my heart, I know she is happier in heaven with Jesus than she would ever have been here on Earth. 

Isaiah 57:1-2 says "The righteous pass away; the Godly often die before their time. And no one seems to understand that God is protecting them from the evil to come. For the Godly who die will rest in peace"

Our daughter knows 2 things: the love of her parents and the love of Christ.  She never had to experience the pain and heartbreak of this world.  She will never have a moment where she feels left out and lonely, never have to worry about not fitting in or go through the awkward middle school years, never have tears running down her tiny little face.  What a blessing, for a parent to know their child will only know joy.  She will know the fruit of the spirit.  She is worshiping her Savior who loves her even more than we do.  And until we can join her, she is taking care of her twin brother or sister.

2 Peter 3:8 states With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. If I take this literally, and we live another 60 years, it will seem to Reagan as if we are joining her in just 41 minutes and 40 seconds.  Hardly any time at all for her.  Still a long time for us, but I just love the thought of her not having to be in heaven without her parents for a long time.  Less than 1 hour.  And then we’ll be there with her, loving her perfectly and worshiping our creator.

We get a picture of heaven from Isaiah 65.  “"See, I will create new heavens and a new earth.  The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.  But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy. I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more.  Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his years; the one who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere child; the one who fails to reach a hundred will be considered accursed. They will build houses and dwell in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit. No longer will they build houses and others live in them, or plant and others eat.  For as the days of a tree, so will be the days of my people; my chosen ones will long enjoy the work of their hands. They will not labor in vain, nor will they bear children doomed to misfortune; for they will be a people blessed by the Lord, they and their descendants with them.” 

And so I can cling to this as a promise from God, of what our future will be like once He returns.  Although I won’t get to see Reagan grow up on this Earth, I will be with her for eternity…an eternity filled with joy and wonder, with Christ.  There will be no weeping or crying.  Infants will not die.  And I will be reunited with the daughter I lost when she was just too young.  We will get to see her laugh and smile.  We’ll watch her dancing on streets of gold.  And as we walk through the pearly gates into heaven, she can run to us with her tiny feet and embrace us for the first time."

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Reagan's Story: Broken

I wrote the following words a week after Reagan was born.  As her birthday approaches at the end of this week, we plan to share pieces of her story each day.

It has been one week…one week since the hardest and most devastating day of our lives.  We learned last week that we had lost our precious baby girl.  On Wednesday morning I was taken to the hospital and labor was induced.  Just over 16 hours later, I gave birth to our beautiful daughter.  Reagan Catherine Savant was born at 11:16 PM on October 31, 2012.  She was the most beautiful little girl I have ever seen.  She was just perfect, only too small to make it in this world.  For some reason, God decided to take her home early.  And we are left behind, heartbroken.

This week has been by far the most challenging of my life.  I have struggled with understanding why – why would we have to struggle so much with infertility? Why would God allow us to get pregnant, only to take her away so early?  Why would I have to go through hours and hours of painful labor for a child we knew we could never take care of?  And why do we have to be surrounded by so many pregnant women with a constant reminder of what we have lost?  I have experienced every emotion possible.  And I still have no answers.  But I do know I am forever grateful for the hours we had with Reagan.

Reagan would have been a petite little thing.  She was born weighing only 7 ounces.  But her delicate little features were just perfect (and the doctor said so too, so I’m not just being a mom)  We were able to hold her and spend some time with her before we had to say goodbye.  During that time, I tried to memorize her little face.  It still makes me smile when I close my eyes and picture her.  She had tiny blonde eyebrows, her daddy’s long black eyelashes, and her mommy’s lips and chin.  I never understood how people could say of an infant “oh they look just like so-and-so” but now I do.  She was a perfect blend of us.  Her feet were only about an inch long, but already had all the texture and skin folds you would expect an adult to have.  Meme said she could just imagine those tiny feet running in heaven, which makes me very happy to think about. 

Our time together was so brief, but we tried to think of all the things we would have wanted to do with her.  So we sat and rocked her, read her a story (Brown Bear), sang her a lullaby and Jesus Loves Me, and read to her from the Bible.  She brought us so much joy, even knowing she wasn't really there with us.

But coming home without her has been heartbreaking.  The house seems so lonely, so empty, without her.  We have been loved by our neighbors and friends, but nothing really takes the pain away.  I keep trying to think of some way to bring her back, and it can’t be done.  How do I move forward from here?  And do I even want to??  I just don’t know what to do anymore.

But I can take peace in knowing she is in heaven waiting for us to come join her.  And she never had to live a day knowing the pain and suffering of this earth.  She knows Jesus, and He can give her the hugs we can’t until we are reunited.  So we had engraved on her urn Isaiah 65:17-23, a beautiful reminder of what I have to look forward to and what Reagan is already enjoying.  

"See, I will create new heavens and a new earth.  The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.  But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy. I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more.  Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his years; the one who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere child; the one who fails to reach a hundred will be considered accursed. They will build houses and dwell in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit. No longer will they build houses and others live in them, or plant and others eat.  For as the days of a tree, so will be the days of my people; my chosen ones will long enjoy the work of their hands.  They will not labor in vain, nor will they bear children doomed to misfortune; for they will be a people blessed by the Lord, they and their descendants with them.  

We have been working to try to preserve our memories of her and honor her short life.  We have created a memory book which, so far, we have read through every night.  We also have decided to try our had at flowers and have a container garden on the back deck filled with purple flowers…the color we started painting in her room.  And so I have spent the last afternoon before I return to work sitting outside, drinking tea, looking at Reagan’s garden, and reading a book about Heaven.  And in this particular moment, I feel God’s peace and comfort wrapped around me.  So for everyone who has been praying for us, thank you.  Your prayers are felt at the times when we are overcome with grief and anguish. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014


Our flowers have been delivered twice now.  Twice, in just a week.  I'm not entirely sure how to feel about that.  While I love that these families were given a small gift, that things are running smoothly with Reagan's Garden, that what we sought to create is happening, I'm deeply grieved.  When Reagan was born, I didn't know a single sole who had experienced stillbirth.  I have met only a handful of women since then.

I am so grateful God worked to get things put together so quickly so we could serve these two families, whoever they are and whatever their situation.  But, the statistics are heartbreaking.  At Presby Main (aka Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center), our flowers would be delivered an average of two times each week.  Sometimes three.  I don't even know what to write about that.  I am just broken for these families, remembering all to well how we felt ourselves.  The gut wrenching pain, the confusion and hurt, the disbelief, the anger.  All swirled together in one jumbled moment of despair.  And then, at the end, as you hold your child you love so much, as you share this bond so deeply profound, there is a sense of joy.  That is what we seek to celebrate.  We want to provide encouragement through the hours of labor, the pain of knowing you will never care for this little one.  But also to celebrate the joy and love you feel holding your child with something tangible and beautiful.  I pray we have already been accomplishing that, before I knew it was even happening.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


I am completely overcome and in awe of how much support we have.  Though I haven't connected with as many families experiencing loss as I expected (or really know how to find them...) we have received a TON of community support, people willing to help out, and almost all in the past 24 hours.

Putting together these comfort boxes for the NICU is daunting.  The purpose of them is to care for the body, comfort the soul.  It includes an assortment of items I received after Reagan's birth that were either nice items for me to indulge with - a nice smelling aromatherapy lotion, sleepy tea I could sip while overlooking our newly planted garden - and books that brought comfort and healing to my soul.  But it adds up quicker than I would have expected.  So, we started looking for some tangible donations.  Here's what we've got:

Again, Shutterfly donated the first round of our printed material, including cards that are delivered with flowers and cards for the boxes.  We are still doing hand decorated cards, but using Shutterfly gets us a much higher quality paper and allows us to put the beautiful drawing my talented mother (aka Kathy Ferguson) did with the website info on the back of each card.

George at Dilworth Espresso graciously donated the beginning of our coffee needs so these families receive a wonderful, aromatic coffee with local support.

Forest Hill church just donated a case of Bibles for us!  This will get us through quite a few boxes and allow us to share the Gospel with families when they are hurting the most.

Bekkie La Vine (With Love Photography) and Kelly Smallman (Kelly Smallman Photography) agreed to donate photography services as a give away for donors.  I am so excited and love both of these women for their photography work and desire to give back to the community!

God has graciously put so many people in our path to help us in this journey.  Two years ago I didn't know a single local photographer, didn't have really any community contacts that weren't related to physical therapy.  And you sure wouldn't have caught me asking people for donations.  God has completely thrown me outside of my comfort zone, and I pray he will us that to help bring peace to others!



Monday, October 20, 2014

Week 1

We are nearing the end of our very first week, and God has been so good!  Here's a brief update:

We've met with the nurses and gift shop to coordinate how we can deliver flowers to families in labor and delivery while maintaining HIPAA compliance and have it all worked out!  None of this would be possible without the caring spirit of those nurses I got to know so well during our prolonged hospitalization.  A HUGE thank you to all the Novant L&D and Special Maternity nurses for being so willing to take the time out of their busy schedules to put this into action.

We struggled with how to reach the families in the NICU as flower deliver is not possible.  The initial plan was to leave our contact information and hope they'd reach out to us so we could mail a box to them.  HIPAA was created with the best of intentions, but it sure makes things harder to reach out to patients!  But the NICU staff and social worker have graciously said we can keep our boxes there!  This means, after a child has passed away, they will go home with a box containing a Bible, One Year Book of Hope, scripture cards, and several other gifts including lotion, lip balm, tea, coffee, a mug, and Randy Alcorn's booklet Heaven.  We are so excited to have another amazing set of nurses to help on that end!

The start of some scripture cards providing encouragement and placed inside each NICU box

This beautiful drawing will be printed on the back of all our material - LOVE!

So now begins the process of finding the best pricing, finding local businesses to donate some of these items or offer them at a reduced price.  Already, we have to thank Shutterfly for donating some printed cards.  I am excited to get those ordered and finished to be delivered to the gift shop within a week.

So, again, I ask for your help.  If you know of anyone in the Charlotte area who has experienced infant loss, recently or several years ago, we'd love to get connected with them!  There is no time limit on grief, and many families would like the opportunity to share their story, learn how to heal, and help others along the way.  Refer them to or our Facebook page for those who have experienced loss.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day

Today is national Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day.  Two years ago, it was simply October 15.  I never knew there was such a day to remember babies gone too soon.  I would have thought most people wouldn't either.  But here's the thing, 1 in 4 pregnancies don't make it.  ONE in FOUR.  That is such a huge number that I think most of us have been touched in some way or another by loss.  Often these are early miscarriages, which for some reason most people don't talk about.  Maybe it's easier to hide the pain?  Maybe it's awkward to mention the miscarriage before you've told anyone about the pregnancy.  Our whole world knew we were doing IVF beforehand and I had countless people messaging me to find out if we were pregnant before we even knew ourselves so I never got to keep pregnancy a secret.  (Though I realize we are not at all the norm!)  For all our friends who have gone through miscarriage, I am so sorry.  I'm sorry you lost a child too.  I'm heartbroken you did not get to fulfill the dreams you had for your child from the moment you learned of his/her existence.  And I'm sorry you did not get an opportunity to hold them.  I would have once thought that would have been easier, to lose a child earlier in the pregnancy.  I now know that it is just different. 

  Today, on October 15, we remember Reagan and our time with her, those precious hours we got to spend holding her.  We are honoring her memory today by launching Reagan's Garden to help provide support to other families who have experienced similar loss.  We'll be participating in the balloon release tonight, along with thousands of others across the country.  What a beautiful way to remember those we have lost.  We each will get a purple balloon and let it fly.  But this year, we'll also release a blue balloon for Reagan's twin and her cousin, who are playing in heaven with her now.  Their lives were so incredibly brief, but no less significant.  They don't get a birthday to celebrate.  We have no memories to recall.  But today, we honor them too.

The national balloon release occurs at 7PM, no matter your time zone.  This helps to create a continuous wave of balloons released across the country.  However, because it's nearly dark here at that time and our boys are typically in bed, we'll be releasing at 6PM.  We'd love for any and all to join us!  If you do, please send me and email or post the picture to Reagan's Garden FB page.  I'd love to put a collection together!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


Welcome to Reagan's Garden!  We are so excited to officially launch our non profit with the goal of supporting families in the greater Charlotte, NC area who have experienced infant loss.  Over the next week or so, I'll be pulling over posts from our personal blog to share our story of Reagan's life, her birth, her memorial service, and how God carried us through it all.  But first, here's a little more about Reagan's Garden, why we exist, and what we hope to do.

Andrew and I have talked about how we can support families experiencing infant loss and increase awareness of stillbirth and prematurity once we were thrust into both of these situations.  We felt extremely isolated and confused in both situations in two very different ways.  Since leaving the NICU, we have learned of several support options available to families during their NICU stay and a few other amazing projects being launched now.  However, infant loss support is still sorely lacking.  After talking with several people and spending much time in prayer, we are moving forward with the launch of Reagan's Garden.  We are have been so blessed by Reagan's short life and how God has used that to mold and shape us into different people.  We are excited to see where God will take this and our desire to support families in Charlotte experiencing infant loss.  The "about us" appears below, but check out our website here!

When a woman delivers a healthy child, she receives flowers and balloons.  Ribbons announcing name and weight are placed on the door.  Balloons are hung on the mailbox.  And a never ending, revolving door of visitors arrive bringing food, flowers, and congratulations.  But when your child is born not breathing, when your child will only live a few minutes to a few hours, there is silence.  No one knows how to respond, whether to call or not, what to say.  It is for this very reason we started Reagan’s Garden.

Reagan’s Garden is a non-profit fund through Novant Health Foundaition that provides tangible support to families in the Charlotte, NC region who will not be bringing their child home.  The child may be born not breathing, may pass away during or immediately after delivery, or may pass away in the NICU.  Each family is sent beautiful flowers and a handmade card.  It’s not much, it does not take away their grief, but it provides encouragement and a beautiful reminder that their baby is just that…their child.  Our daughter, Reagan Catherine, was stillborn in October 2012.  It was the hardest and most difficult thing we ever experienced, a pain no one understands unless they have been there too.  And yet, holding your child, you are still filled with a love, you still want to celebrate their life, however brief.  Reagan’s Garden hopes to encourage parents in labor and recovery to do just that, to take in every second you have with your child.  It is our mission to ensure each mother, no matter their circumstances or support network, receives a bouquet and card for their hospital room, a tiny but tangible gift to remind them their child matters and should be celebrated.

Infants born prematurely or with complications face a potentially extensive NICU time.  For us, this ended after 3 months with 2 baby boys at home.  Not everyone has experience and not everyone will be bringing their child home.  Reagan’s Garden also seeks to send these families flowers and a decorated box providing encouragement and Biblical hope.

Infant loss is devastating, but we were not made to go through this journey alone. Reagan’s Garden hopes to hold regular support dinners in Charlotte to unite parents with a network of people to talk with.  These informal gatherings will provide a safe place for parents to talk about their children with those who have walked a similar journey, celebrating the moments we had with our children, and grieving all we will miss.  Our goal is that no one would feel alone or isolated after loss.