Friday, August 12, 2011

Hard Knocks and Hope

The past few weeks have been really rough!  We've had a series of hard knocks.  First, we had a plumbing bill to the tune of $1800.  The following week, we had to put Shylah, our German Shepherd down.  (That whole episode was very tragic and stressful situation.)  We put her down on a Monday, that Friday I had a miscarriage.  I was 8.5 weeks pregnant when I lost the baby.  Right after that, our family all came down with the flu.  It was the worst sickness we've had in a long time.  While I was sick, I destroyed my phone by putting it in the washer.  So yeah, the past few weeks have been rough.

Nonetheless, God is faithful.  He is our hope and help in trouble.  When you get knocked down so low, there is only one way that you can look and that is up.  Sometimes that is what it takes to get us hard headed, independent people to turn our focus back to God.  I have to admit that I did go through a "woe is me" stage but now I'm trying to get back up and focus on seeking God's will.

September and October are going to be very difficult months for us emotionally.  September 19 was Sierra's birthday and October 17 is when she entered the gates of heaven.  A friend and I are working on putting together something special to do on Sierra's birthday.  More details will follow....

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

What's up now?

Despite the pain, life has been very busy.  Buck is now a certified therapy dog.  Now we just have to find a place to visit!  Our goal is to visit children in the hospital, but we won't be able to do that until after the children's hospital moves in October.  We would also love to visit children in a special needs class, but it is summer vacation right now.  We are trying to find a nursing home to visit until we can do either of those.

Also, I'm not sure how feasible this is, but I would LOVE to train service dogs for special needs children.  I'm going to be doing research and trying to find out how to go about that.

Ruby is growing like a weed and getting into tons of mischief.  She brightens our days and keeps life interesting.

Hello Blog

I know that I've neglected this blog lately.  It's not because we are doing great and completely healed.  The pain is still so real.  The past week was particularly difficult.  I'm not sure why.  We miss Sierra so much.  Ruby has been talking a lot about "Sissy" lately.  She's been saying, "Sissy?  Bye." and "Sissy? Know?" as she's saying it, she'll hold out her little hands like she does when she's looking for something.  Another thing she said was, "Sissy, I lo lu" (I love you.)  It is sweet and heartbreaking all in one.

Independence Day is coming up next week.  It was always one of my favorite holidays.  This year I'm dreading it.  I don't have my precious angel baby to dress up in red, white, and blue.  Sometimes, I wish we could just skip holidays.  Sometimes I wonder how it is possible to celebrate when we are in so much pain.  Yet life must go on.  Not for our sake, but for Ruby's.  We want her to experience all the joys of childhood.  

I think sometimes people see us out and about and think that we've healed and are no longer suffering.  What they don't see are...

....the tears shed in the quiet of night
....the pain of seeing the matching dresses that Sierra and Ruby were supposed to wear the day Sierra went to heaven.
....the shattered dreams of having Sierra get a wish granted from "Make a Wish"
....the daily items that were Sierra's that she will never use again
....the "we should have..." thoughts
....the little girl who will never see her "Sissy" again on this earth
....the pain of seeing other special needs children and knowing that I can't hug my own special needs child

The list goes on and on just as does the pain.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Forever In Our Hearts

Forever In Our Hearts
Author: Unknown

God looked around His garden
And He found an empty place.
He then looked down upon
This earth and saw your tired face.
He put His arms around you
And lifted you to rest.
God's garden must be beautiful,
He always takes the best.
He knew that you were in pain.
He knew that you would never
Get well on earth again.
So He closed your weary eyelids
And whispered, "Peace Be Thine."
He then took you up to Heaven with
Hands gentle and so kind.
It broke our hearts to lose you,
But you did not go alone.
For part of us went with you
The day God called you Home.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Finding A New "Normal"

Today Jason went back to work. It's been 3 weeks since our little angel baby left us. Now we are forced to return to the routines of life as we try to find a new "normal." That is easier said than done when it feels like our hearts and lives have been torn apart. Life will never be the same again, but through God's grace, we will persevere.

As we were sitting in the FL airport crying our eyes out as we waited for our flight home, a lady came over and tried to offer some words of comfort. She had lost her adult daughter 2 years earlier. She said, "When I get up in the morning, I say, 'I'm just going to do the best I can today.'" That's how it is with us right now. We are living one day at a time. I think of the hymn Great is Thy Faithfulness that says, "...strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow..." We haven't reached the "bright hope for tomorrow" stage yet but I know it will come. God is truly faithful.

I never really realized how much time I spent with Sierra. Yet, despite the many hours we spent caring for Sierra and her special needs, she was NEVER a burden to us. Caring for her was pure joy, and we got so much back in return. There was not one single time when we got frustrated or impatient with her. How many 3 year olds can you say that about? (I can't say the same for Ruby and she is only 10 months old!) She was truly a remarkable little girl. In the coming days, I'm going to dedicate a post to writing about all the lives she touched.

One of the things that I want to do with some of my free time is to begin training Buck to be a pet therapy dog so that we can visit children in the hospital. Last week, we had a consultation with a dog trainer and we put a down payment on a training package. Hopefully Buck and I can begin that in the next month or two. I know I've mentioned doing this, and now I want to give a little explanation as to why I want to do this.

Buck and Sierra loved each other. Buck was so good with her. He loved cuddling up to her and was so gentle. A few days after we arrived home (without Sierra), Buck started sniffing around Sierra's playmat. Then he went running around the house frantically looking for her. He seemed to realize that she was gone and became very sad. It will be wonderful when he can make other children happy and show the same love towards them that he did towards Sierra.

Another reason we want to do this is because the community did SO MUCH for us when we were doing fundraising for Sierra. We feel that this is a small way that we can give back to the community. Sort of a "thank-you" for all the help they gave us.

In a way, I think it will be part of the healing process for me. I never would have thought that I would want to go back into the hospital with all the memories that we have of hospitals. I feel like this is something that I can do for God and for Sierra. I know how scary it can be to have a child in the hospital and how touching it is when someone does something nice for your child. If Buck can make a few children happy then it will be worth it. Maybe God will allow me to bring a bit of comfort to the parents as well. I'll be sure to keep everyone updated on our progress with the dog training.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sunshine in the Rain

Through this horrible storm, we have seen bursts of sunshine as God orchestras all the details and reminds us of His loving care. My mother asked for me to write them out because she wanted to send an email about it. I think I'm going to just list them out in bullet form.

*The ER that we took Sierra to was very good. All of the people were VERY nice and showed lots of compassion. They were caressing Sierra as they worked on her. It was a much different ER experience than we've ever had before.

*The people in the ER also allowed us to have Ruby in the room with Sierra. We only had her in there with us for a few minutes and then passed her off to her grandparents who were in the waiting room. But it was special that we had a few last minutes together as a family.

*Sierra went to be with Jesus while we were vacationing in Florida. She passed away on a Sunday morning. We were supposed to come home on Tuesday. After she left us, we felt an urgency to get home ASAP. Jason called up Jet Blue and asked if there was any way they could change our tickets. They were AMAZING! They were on the phone with Jason for an hour and the lady worked really hard. She was able to get us a nonstop flight coming home that afternoon. On top of that, she waived $1500 worth of fees.

*Since everything happened in FL, that meant that we had funeral home fees for the funeral home there, plus transportation, plus the funeral home here. We didn't have life insurance on Sierra. Some friends very kindly offered to transport her body for us to cut down on expenses. We decided it was probably best just to have the funeral homes make arrangements to fly her body back. We used a funeral home in FL that is owned by someone Jason's uncle knows. He gave us a discount. Some friends called us and said they wanted to help out. They generously paid for the expenses of the funeral home in FL as well as the transportation costs.

*Three groups of people have taken up a collection for us (church, work, online friends) and many people have sent gifts. The money will be used to pay for the headstone, get Sierra's name engraved on the memorial wall at Morgan's Wonderland, and make a memorial garden for Sierra at our land.

*Jason's parents (who were also vacationing in FL at the time) were flying in for the funeral. They were flying into Dallas. We had so much going on that it would have been difficult for us to pick them up. Jason called up a friend and asked him to pick them up. That friend was already planning on driving from Dallas to Temple that day.

*We decided to sell the hyperbaric chamber to help pay for the funeral expenses. I posted a Facebook status about it. Several of my friends reposted my status to try to help us. Within several hours, someone had bought it.

*Some dear friends put together a book with pictures of Sierra and many sweet notes. It is so beautiful!

*When we were making funeral arrangements, we stopped by a cemetery that someone said used to have free plots for children. It turned out that they no longer had free plots for children. The man there was very flippant and we didn't like him. We weren't thinking clearly at the time and probably would have went ahead with that cemetery if our pastor had not been with us. He said, "This doesn't feel right. Why don't you keep looking?" So we went home. We started talking about it and decided that we really wanted to find a little cemetery out in the country.

We had recently purchased land just outside of Troy. Our plans were to build there and get Sierra out to the country. We did a quick Google search for cemeteries in Troy. There were three listed. None of them had contact information. The funeral home didn't have any information either. Jason and our pastor began making calls to try to find contact information. About three different people gave them the name of a lady who runs the newspaper in Troy. We tried calling her, but her phone went to fax. We decided to stop by. We were greeted by a very nice lady who seemed to know everyone. (The town has a population of 1,600.) She had the contact information we needed.

Out of the three cemeteries, the one that stood out to us in name was Shiloh Cemetery. One of them was right by the highway and the other one didn't really interest us. We drove out to Shiloh Cemetery and it was just perfect. It was only about 5 miles from our land. It was a peaceful little cemetery out in the country. The last person buried there was 26 years ago.
We called the lady in charge of the cemetery. She said that we could pick out any spot we liked. There was no charge, but we could make a donation if we wanted (which we will be doing.) Oh and Shiloh means, "Gift from God," which describes Sierra perfectly.

*It was cold and rainy on the morning of the burial. The sky was overcast and dreary. We arrived at the cemetery early and were wondering if the light rain was going to turn into a downpour. Once the service began, the rain stopped. Not only did the rain stop, but about 3 times during the service, the sun broke through the clouds. It was such a beautiful sight! I liked to think of it as Sierra smiling down on us.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Two Weeks

Tomorrow it will be two weeks since our little angel left us. Oh how my heart aches. I miss her so much. :'-( Our family is incomplete without her. My days feel empty. Yes, I have a lot more free time now, but I would give up all of my free time to have her back in my arms.

Every little thing reminds me of my sweet little girl. As I walk down the baby isle to pick up diapers for Ruby, my mind says, "Do I need diapers for Sierra?" "Am I almost out of suppositories for Sierra or do I need to buy more." "I wonder if Sierra could drink out of that sippy cup." "There are some cute bows that would look good in Sierra's hair." On and on it goes. Then reality comes crashing down.

Modeling Mothering

Rosetta does most of the writing here, but I wanted to jump in to talk about mothering.

Rosetta had modeled mothering for the last several years.  Of Sierra's 3 years and 28 days of life, Rosetta spent 3 years and 27 days with her.  The one day she didn't, our other daughter Ruby was born so she was a little busy.  But its not so much about the number of days spent, its about what she did during those days.

When Sierra was in NICU, the doctors put a feeding tube in her stomach because they said she would never be able to eat normally.  Rosetta found a special kind of bottle called a Haberman that assisted kids with with sucking reflexes to learn to suck.  Within two months, the tube was out.

This does not mean that feeding Sierra was easy.  She eventually learned to suck well enough to go to a regular baby bottle and then to a sippy cup, but feedings typically took at least half an hour, many times longer.  On top of that, Sierra typically couldn't go to the bathroom on her own, so Rosetta spent significant time each day helping her make this happen.

On top of all that, there were endless therapies and appointments.  It started out with taking her to a chiropractor in Austin twice a week.  Eventually we switched to a chiropractor in Temple, but then found a good massage therapist in Austin that she started taking her to.  This involved significant drive time, not to mention the various local therapies that she took her to, or had therapists come to the house for.  Most of the time any time Rosetta got to herself was after midnight, if she got it at all!

Sierra's cues were very subtle.  Many times I wouldn't even pick up on them.  But Rosetta did, even if it was the middle of the night and she was asleep.  Rosetta was so tuned in that if anything was amiss she would wake right up and tend to Sierra.

Sierra could not have had a more caring mother who dedicated her life to her daughter and giving her every opportunity.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Continuing Her Legacy

I have decided to continue this blog. I will use it to write down memories of Sierra or share my grief as I miss my precious little girl. The entries will be very raw and real. Some of them will be happy memories and others will be filled with the pain and hurt of losing my baby.

If my SN friends do not want to continue reading my blog I completely understand! I know that when Sierra was still here it was very difficult for me to read about SN children that had passed away. During that time, I wanted to focus on her life and not think about the possibility of her leaving. Now that she is gone, I still want to primarily focus on her life.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Sierra Rose Fedelem September 19, 2007 - October 17, 2010

Sierra Rose Fedelem
September 19, 2007 - October 17, 2010


Sierra Rose Fedelem was our precious daughter.  She was not breathing at birth, almost died, and sustained significant brain damage which the doctors stated would prevent her from ever walking, talking or seeing.  We chose to not give up and tried many mainstream and alternative therapies.  She took us places we never would have gone and taught us things we never would have known.  We are grateful for the time we had with her.  She went to be with Jesus suddenly on October 17, 2010.

Everyone is welcome to attend:
Graveside service: Saturday at 11 am, Shiloh Cemetery, Troy, TX (Google Map: )

Memorial Service: Sunday at 4 pm, Grace Community Church, Waco, TX (Google Map: )

She flew up to Heaven on the wings of angels
By the clouds and stars and passed where no one sees
And she walks with Jesus and her loved ones waiting
And I know she's smiling saying
Don't worry 'bout me

Alan Jackson, Sissy's Song