Click For Hope

Loss

I then heard the sound of firecrackers

Orphan, Clickforhope, Depression, Suicide, LossJasmine Lopez8 Comments
click for hope | chicago storyteller_1146.jpg

Sensitive Content. Please be advised.

Please share your story.: I was born and raised in Gary, Indiana. The third child of five siblings. My mother and father always helped others even though money was always a major issue due to both of them being addicted to crack cocaine.
I was 11 years old, asleep in my bed. One Monday morning, there was a knock on the door which woke me up at around 5:30am. I remember my father waking up to answer the door, it was someone he knew, which was a "buddy" who came over extremely early to get some money from the friend my parents allowed to live with us until he got on his feet. My dad let him in, the "buddy" went to the room where the friend was staying and demanded his money. The friend told the "buddy" he didn't have the money, but would get it to him as soon as he got it. Well of course the "buddy" wasn't happy and as I lay in bed I heard him say to my dad, "Let me take your television until he comes up with my money." My dad told him, "No, you can't take my TV, I don't have anything to do with this and it's time for you to leave, because my kids have to get up for school in a few minutes." I heard foot steps toward the door past my bedroom and I heard my father say to the "buddy" it was time to go. The door opens and I then heard the sound of firecrackers ( as a child this was the only logical explanation). I then heard my dad run close to my bedroom door and I heard even more firecrackers. I heard my mom calling my dad's name and she ran in my bedroom which was right next to where my dad was.  She came into my bedroom where she put her back against the door and pressed the heel of her foot against my bedroom door and told me not to get up from the bed. The "buddy" was shooting at her through the door. Then he quickly ran from the house, and heard loud screeching tires. Mom and I got up and went to the kitchen where my dad was laying on the floor in a pool of blood, he had been shot 9 times. We had to step over his body in order to get out of the house and ran to a neighbor's house to call 911 because we didn't have a home phone. Shortly after the call the coroners showed up and pronounced dad dead.

click for hope | chicago storyteller_1142.jpg


My mother took this very hard and started drinking just about everyday. She'd cry in the kitchen almost everyday finding a spot of dad's blood that was missed during the clean up process. I always tried to comfort her. About one year later, my mom came home from being in the streets and asked me to bring her a glass of water so that she could take her medicine. I was sitting in the living room at about 9pm struggling with my homework from school and looked at her and said "Ma, I'm trying to do my homework I don't understand it". She told me no not bring the water that she'd get it herself and she did. I sat and watched her take her medicine. The next morning my sister and I were getting ready for school and on our way out the door to walk to school, I turned to my sister and told her that I needed to ask mom for some money. Deep down I knew she didn't have any, but there was an urge just to go ask anyway. I did, and I patted my mom to wake up because she was still asleep. I then shook her, no response. I shook her even harder, no response. I then took my mom's right arm and placed it under her back and raised her in a sitting position. I immediately moved it, to realize my mom was dead. She had taken her medication the night before and died. She had taken her life. I backed up in the room and hit the wall behind me, and stared at her for a few minutes. I ran to tell my sister, who was still waiting outside for me, so we could walk to school. Again the coroner came to our house for a second time, and this time it was for my mom.

click for hope | chicago storyteller_1141.jpg

How has your story shaped who you are today?: My story has given me the strength to live life with purpose and courage. It has taught me that no matter what you have to walk through in life, you can make it. If I can make it anyone can! My motivations for graduating high school and college were growing up with little to nothing, this made me want "more" out of life. I currently work with Psychiatrists, helping children who are in the system with foster parents and are experiencing similar situations like I did as a child. Now life is tremendously better, I'm happy with a loving spouse and three wonderful boys of my own. My family and encouraging others are my ultimate motivations.

What compelled you to share your story with us?: I was compelled to share my story, because I realize that there may be other children who may be currently experiencing something similar, and I want them to know they are not alone.

click for hope | chicago storyteller_1143.jpg

What encouraging words would you give to someone who shares a similar story?: Don't give up on life because those who were suppose to nurture and protect you were taken away so soon. Your life is a gift and you can make it through this, I know it hurts, and I know you're angry but it will get better. Just take one day at a time. God is there and he'll never, ever leave or forsake you, I'm living proof.

A Time to Mourn

Cancer, Loss, Breast CancerJasmine Lopez1 Comment

I had the opportunity to meet Jennifer last September, and she was such a delight. Can you share a little more of who she was to you? What was her personality, motherhood, wifehood, etc. like?

It sounds cliche, but Jennifer was my everything. Jennifer and I have been together for my entire adult life. We met around our second week at U. of I. and started dating soon after. When we first met, I was a kid trying to reintroduce myself to the world. I was loud but timid, outgoing but private, passionate and unfocused. Jennifer was the complete opposite. She knew exactly what she wanted and had the drive to make it happen. As soon as I met Jennifer it became very apparent that she was exactly what I wanted out of life. Jennifer was this incredibly brilliant woman, who's intellect was only matched by her genuine compassion for others. More importantly, she understood and accepted me for who I was and who she knew I would become. In every practical sense, we grew into adults, side by side. We were both each others' biggest cheerleaders and critics. From teenager to adult, from marriage to motherhood, in every stage of life I saw something new in Jennifer that made me love her even more. As a wife, it was as if we were Co-CEO's of our family. It just felt right coming home and having her there to hug and kiss, talk about our days, and make future plans. As a mother, I'm not sure words can accurately describe the level of love, care, strength, and emotion that arose from Jennifer. The most important thing in her life was Deacon. She planned, scheduled, organized, and guided his life until she couldn't. But even at that point, the footprint that she left behind continues to make an impact on his development. If there is one thing I can say that people may not know about Jenny was that what people saw of her and in her was not an act. Jennifer was an incredibly multifaceted woman with strength, intelligence, beauty, and compassion but also experienced weakness, sadness, regret, and pain. She was human with all of the strengths and flaws that everyone experiences.
 

What were the final weeks like when she decided that she would no longer do treatment? 

They were mixed with some of the most complicated emotions that I've ever felt. It will be something I will treasure, something I will never forget. The best way that I can describe the final weeks would be to imagine a seemingly endless whirlwind of happiness, sadness, frustration, joy, angst, and gratefulness. We spent just about every moment, that I could fit in, by each other's side. Jennifer and I couldn't change the diagnosis. We couldn't cure cancer. We couldn't control the when, why, or how. We couldn't control the ways in which cancer rapidly spreading quickly changed her way of life. All we could do was make the best attempt at happiness. In many ways, things went back to normal, or a resemblance of normal. During the final weeks, Jenny still did homework for her PhD program. Deacon went to school. We watched TV, ordered out, we talked, we laughed, we cried. Family and a few friends visited. Jenny had quite a few girls nights. I won't sugar coat how utterly frustrating it was at times. But as we always did, I had her back and she had mine. One day I told her, that my body was hers, whatever she couldn't do, she had me. But at the same time, she kept me strong. One day, I was frustrated with everything, I couldn't get the day to go correctly. She didn't say much by this time, but unprompted, she looked at me and in her calm Jenny voice, she told me I was doing a good job. It was everything I needed to hear, and even with what she was going through, she still kept me from falling. So as heartbreaking as our final weeks were together, it was the most beautiful thing I've ever experienced. I could have lived in those weeks forever.
 

clickforhope | chicago story teller mourning_1035.jpg

What does "grieving" mean to you?

This is a hard question to answer. As strange as this sounds, I'm not sure I exactly know what grieving is. As one would expect, earlier on my grief came in the form of tears, sadness, and disbelief. But those moments don't really describe how I've felt over the past few months. The best way to describe what grieving means to me is the feeling of "being off". It's like I'm navigating through life trying to get my footing on shaky ground. I'm less consumed with sadness or depression, I'm not sure if my personality allows me to sit in those mental states for very long. Instead, what I'm left with is a feeling of void that I can't quite explain. So maybe it's less about what grief means to me and more about how my mind has chosen to deal with it. Either way, my hope is that the grieving process will get better as I find my balance again. Until then, I'll just keep pushing forward.

What's been your source of courage and strength during this season?

My wife and my son. The explicit promise that I made to my wife is that I would be okay, and the implicit promise that I made to my son is that I will always be there for him. I've never broken a promise to Jennifer, and I have no plans on starting now. Living with cancer is hard and my wife made the best attempt at life, the least I can do is match her will.

I noticed you started a Facebook Page in honor of Jennifer, can you share more with what you are hoping to do with it?

Jennifer was more than a woman with breast cancer. She had breast cancer for about three of the 33 years on Earth. Even when she was diagnosed, she went on being a mother, wife, friend, daughter, sibling, aunt, teacher, student, and scholar. Jennifer and I had so many conversations about her passions in life. My goal is to make sure that these things are never forgotten. That people remember her less by how she died, and more for how she lived. I'm going to use every medium I can possibly think of to push forward her memory and advance the causes that she was passionate about. I'm currently working on a few projects, including a website called LivedLovedHere.com, that will help me properly memorialize her legacy. Whether it takes me months, years, or the rest of my life, that is what I plan on doing. That brings me happiness.

What encouraging words would you give to someone who has recently lost a loved one to cancer?

Eventually, the pain slowly fades and what it's replaced with is beautiful memories. Jenny would always say, no one loses a battle to cancer. As if trying harder would have provided a different result. When it comes to cancer, it's not the ultimate outcome that defines success. Success is defined by who that person was, and how they lived; no different than anyone still blessed to be breathing right now. What helps me is that through the loneliness, I'm never really alone. For anyone who has recently lost anyone to cancer, know that you are not alone.

To read Jennifer's story click here: http://www.clickforhope.net/blog/2016/10/21/jennifers-story

A Story of Recovery & Redemption

Recovery, Abuse, Loss, ClickforhopeJasmine Lopez5 Comments
“God was healing SO much inside of me. Yet, at the end of the day, my gremlins came back. It got to the point where I felt like I was two different people. Erin, whose life had been turned upside down and completely wrecked by God’s love, and then the BAD Erin.”
— Erin

My story is one of recovery and redemption. As far back as I can remember, I always felt like I never fit. Never fit in with people. Never in control of my emotions. Something just wasn’t right. As a kid it was easy for me to “know” what was wrong. I grew up in a very abusive and alcoholic home. "Of course there is something wrong with me," I thought.  I was the weird kid with bruises that was always doing something bad.  I thought I was bad.

Everything came to a head when I was fourteen. I was a latchkey kid with way too much freedom so I found myself hanging with the wrong crowd and getting into trouble.  So much trouble that my mom sent me to Los Angeles for the summer to stay with my dad. A few weeks after that, she passed away. Her life was taken by another person. This SHATTERED my world. I was now living with a new family: my dad, step mom, older brother, half siblings, a four year old and a newborn. I had to start over with this huge gaping hole left inside of me.

From that moment until my late twenties, I spent my time running and changing. I called it being a “gypsy,” but now I see I was avoiding life. My gypsy ways eventually brought me to Chicago.  My life was spinning out of control as it had for years. I was a bartending party girl. I was out all night avoiding real life and slept all day until I had to work.  Then, a miracle happened: I met my husband.

clickforhope_erin-11.jpg

We met working together at a restaurant. Despite my obvious flaws, he saw something in me that I didn’t think existed. His family took me in open-armed. And, I found God. I kept up the partying ways in the relationship until after we were married when we found out that we were expecting. I thought, “This will fix me, slow me down.” And it did. For a little while. Then, life came flooding in.

There I was a wife! And a mom! Not only can I not control my life, but I have to raise another life? Keep her safe?  My daughter brought me so, so much joy. She taught me that I could love in a way I never knew existed. That was amazing, yes. But, this broken part of me still clung on.

We started going to church shortly after my daughter was born. My husband realized that I was suffering from postpartum depression and needed community. I absolutely loved it there! I found a small group of moms and we banded together. We did book studies and just lived life together. This is where my recovery started. Thinking things were on the mend, we had another little girl two years later. Deep down for me though, life was still teetering between “wonderful” and “terrifying.” I was really good at pretending it wasn’t until I couldn’t pretend anymore.

My depression eventually took over.  My husband worked really long hours so I was home alone quite often. I just couldn’t cope. So...I started relaxing again with wine after I put the kids to bed. It worked for a little while. I continued going to church and hanging out with my moms group. God was healing SO much inside of me. Yet, at the end of the day, my gremlins came back. It got to the point where I felt like I was two different people. Erin, whose life had been turned upside down and completely wrecked by God’s love, and then the BAD Erin. I didn’t let many people see the second one. No matter how hard I tried, the second Erin, the bad Erin, started getting stronger.

clickforhope_erin-16.jpg

I knew I was a good person, yet I couldn’t stop drinking. I started hiding how much I was drinking from my husband. My depression came back full force. I had to fight off the urge to hurt myself. I hated myself. I stopped showing up for life. There was a day where all I could do was sit on the couch with my hands in a fist so tight that the skin on my palms broke. I changed diapers and fed the kids but that was all I could do.

And so, I got to the point in February of last year that I started thinking my family would be better off without me. Those thoughts scared the living daylights out of me. I had to stop and close my eyes every few minutes to tell my brain to shut up. It got so loud in my head that on February 10th of last year, I started drinking in the morning. I was so sick from drinking the night before that I needed to level out. I could barely breathe. The thoughts of self harm were super powerful that day. It almost felt like a manic episode. I took one look at my kids and my husband and just knew.  It was time. I went to my husband and said that I needed to go to a twelve step meeting. This thought had been in the back of my head for years. I have many people in my family who are in recovery so I knew one day I would probably have to go too. So he threw me in a cold shower, looked up a local meeting and I took a cab.

Sounds pretty simple right? That night is when I finally surrendered to God. I just couldn’t go any further the way that I was going. That night saved my life. Through doing the work of my twelve step program, I have finally become the person God meant me to be. I wake up in the morning now with that sense of peace and God’s Grace that I never thought possible. I have mended relationships. I have become a better mom. I have found that I really do deserve to have a full and meaningful life. I have become wholehearted. I have met other moms who have struggled with the same things that I have in my program, and that made me realize alcoholism wasn’t the end of the world. It is a disease. I wasn’t BAD. I just suffered from an illness. What a relief that was!

I started shedding layers of pain and shame. I stand tall and get to show my daughters what it is like to be a woman of God and to live life with integrity. As I write this, my heart is so full it almost hurts. I am beyond grateful for my life. I am beyond grateful for the people who helped me get here. And if life is this amazing after only a year and five months, I can only imagine what it will be like for years to come.

When Cancer Comes Back

Cancer, Clickforhope, Depression, LossJasmine LopezComment
“I thought that the fight with cancer had ended, but now I have it again. This time it is in my stomach.”
— Ruth

I thought my life was going to be simple: get married, have kids, and live a happy life. Little did I know, life would be scary and complicated. In 2014, I would receive an unexpected cancer diagnosis.       

In 2010 when I first began having abdominal pain, I visited the doctor's office. I found out that I was pregnant with my daughter, Leilanie and that I had stones in my gallbladder. Doctors couldn't operate on me until my daughter was delivered. Due to complications with my gallbladder and the baby, my daughter had to be delivered prematurely.

In March 11, 2011, my daughter was delivered via C-section. Soon after Leilanie was born, I had a pregnancy complication known as “Preeclampsia.” I almost died, but (thank God) survived and was blessed with my beautiful and healthy little baby weighing three pounds and three ounces.

After having my daughter, my abdominal pain worsened. One month following this pain, doctors were finally able to operate on me for the gallbladder. After the surgery, my life was back to normal.  I would feel the pain here and there, but it was tolerable.  

In December of that year, the pain worsened, and by the time New Years came, I made my appointment to see the doctor again.  They weren't able to figure out the root of the problem even after numerous examinations and tests.  This time seeing the doctor was less stressful though because my boyfriend, Joe (now husband) was there by my side.

In February of 2014, I found out that I was pregnant again. I was so excited knowing that my daughter might have a baby brother or sister, but I was also scared since I was still dealing with the abdominal pain. I prayed for God to help me, to heal my pain, and for things to be okay with the baby. At the end of March, I started spotting.  There was nothing scarier in this world than knowing I could lose my baby. I prayed to God to let everything be okay. April came and sadness came right behind it, I lost the baby due to a miscarriage.

If that wasn't enough, I still felt abdominal pain. In May, I decided to go to Rush Hospital to see if they might be able to understand the problem. It started with going to the emergency room.  After several examinations and tests, doctors came to give the worst news of my life: the pain was due to cancer.

I couldn't believe it. I didn't know how to process it. I was in denial. I could remember desperately crying and asking God if this could be true. I don't remember how many times I asked Joe and my mother why all these things were happening to me. This became the beginning of a long process, where I needed to gather all the strength in the world.

clickforhope_ruth-3.jpg

I decided to go to Northwestern Hospital to get a second opinion on my diagnosis. The doctor at Northwestern confirmed that it was cancer, but they couldn't figure out what type it was. From May to November, my life was exams and needles. Finally, a doctor called and asked me to come in. It was three days before Thanksgiving and I found out I had stage three colon cancer. My heart dropped.

I was given chemo pills for about six weeks. Then they changed my chemo pill to a stronger one named Capecitabinr (Xeloda,) my mind was out of it. The doctor kept talking and I didn't even hear one word. Tears began streaming down my face. I could not believe I had cancer. The doctor called my name to get my attention. I replied back with,  “Am I going to be okay? I have a daughter and family.”

He replied, “You know we will do everything that we can. Colon cancer is the second highest form of cancer that kills people.” My heart was numb. 

I felt numb.

Treatment began soon after with IV infusion chemotherapy. I got really sick from time to time.  I had multiple X-rays, cat scans and numerous colonoscopies throughout the treatment as well.  As time passed, I had family, friends and many churches pray for me.  I have to say this was the hardest time of my life. I felt lost and lonely at times, even if family was near me.

In 2015, I fought like never before. One year later, I became a colon cancer survivor. I was extremely excited, blessed and honored to know God healed me. I held a party to celebrate. After all, I didn't know that this road was going to be so long.

One month after my survival party, I had to return for a doctor's appointment. I will never forget this day. I walked into the office and my nurse gave me a hug.  She asked how I was feeling. I said, “Great! I'm extremely happy that I'm done and don't have to return back.”   She just smiled and said, “We love you Ruth. You are a true fighter.”

I was placed in my room to wait for my doctor after that. I heard a knock and told the doctor to come in. My doctor entered followed by another doctor behind him and my nurse. I had a smile on my face that didn't last long.  “Well, Ruth we have an issue.  We found cancer in your stomach and must start you on chemotherapy once again. The X-rays we took show that it's next to your liver.” my doctor told me.

I felt stuck. I was pale as a ghost and started to sweat from all the nerves and anger building inside me.  I couldn't understand why this was happening to me.

I thought that the fight with cancer had ended, but now I have it again. This time it is in my stomach.

I couldn't understand. I stumbled on words as my brain just sort of shut down on me. All I could think of was my daughter and family. I didn't know what to say or think, so I lifted my head up and said, “Lord you got me right?!? Please don't abandon me; please heal me.”

I have to say that winning one cancer battle was such a joy; finding out I have it again has been a struggle.  Yet, I know that God healed me the first time and He will do it again. I have faith and I believe.

 "Never, never, never give up." This quote has been my encouragement. Waking up everyday and fighting cancer to become a survivor. I repeat these words and gather strength. with the help of God...I will succeed!    

I want to encourage others who are struggling with a sickness to keep fighting even if seems too hard. Know God is in control. You got this! Always have faith and pray at all times.  Always keep a positive attitude and know to never, never, never give up. 

He gives Beauty for Ashes

Loss, Widow, Single Parents, Single Mom, Clickforhope, Placental AbruptionJasmine Lopez3 Comments
"I have absolute trust in His sovereignty, wisdom and goodness. I've learned that the most epic adventures await where your feet no longer touch the bottom of the ocean floor." -Brandy

Please share your story:

I was raised in a Christian home, and have been around/involved in ministry my whole life. I thought I had things pretty well figured out as far as God and life were concerned, and felt like all of my service had somehow earned me a "Hardship Pass". Not that my earlier days were easy breezy (they involved family issues and divorce, lots of moving around, difficulty making friends, etc.), but I knew a lot of people that had it way worse than me.

In 2006, after 4 years of dating, I married my college sweetheart, Jonathan, or "JoNate". I was a new Labor & Delivery Nurse and he was in full-time ministry at a fairly large church. Within 3 months of being married, he was diagnosed (not to my full knowledge) with some pretty significant health issues. 2 years later, we moved away from family, friends, and secure jobs in TN, to follow the Lord's lead to Gainesville, FL. We were getting a fresh start, and it did wonders for our marriage! 6 weeks after we moved, I got pregnant with our first child (after trying for over a year!). At 20 wks I had a placental abruption and we lost our sweet baby girl.

To give a very brief overview of that year, in Feb 2009 we lost our baby, March had a lease purchase agreement fall through on one of our houses in TN and we had to deed back a lot we had purchased to build on in TN as well, April my husband was "demoted" due to changes in his new employer's plans...and totaled our second vehicle (which we’d had for 6 months:-I), July a week after paying off the last of $1000's in medical bills from my pregnancy complications, I got a kidney stone...incurring more medical bills. Then, in October, my husband's little sister, Jessica, was killed in a car accident-leaving behind her 21 y/o husband of six months, 2 y/o daughter and 3 wk old son.

During this "eventful" year, our marriage and ministry were thriving. We were leading a church "small group" with 25-35 people in our (apartment!) home each week...it was incredible! Each trial served to drive us closer to each other and to God. We were fasting together, praying together more frequently, seeking after the Lord...we were desperate! Shortly after Jessica died, I got pregnant again. This pregnancy was completely different and I delivered our healthy, beautiful baby girl, Madison, at 39 weeks! We were so in love! On Sunday, Aug 29th I posted on fb about how happy I was to finally be able to take Madison to church, and how good it was to hear my husband leading worship again..."I couldn't imagine life getting any better than this."

Six days later, Labor Day weekend, I woke up to find my husband unresponsive. He had passed away sometime early in the morning from what we later found out was a genetic heart condition. I was scheduled to return to work from maternity leave in another week, and instead found myself in a whirlwind of funeral arrangements and flooded with friends, family and phone calls.

The phone calls included one to the HR Dept at my job to find out how to activate the new life insurance policy that we had just placed 3 wks prior, after our daughter was born. I was so relieved that we had acted quickly on that. However, my relief very quickly turned into shock and panic when I found out that the insurance company's system had a glitch, and our policy increase was never fully processed...which left it at $5k...and covered 1/3 of the funeral costs. And here I was left with student loans, 2 mortgages on our rental properties in TN (which weren't bringing any profit), a hefty car payment on our 4 yr old car, rent, ridiculous Florida utilities and other monthly bills...with a newborn! My husband had handled 100% of our finances from day one, and I didn't know usernames and passwords for a single account. It took three months of sifting through statements and making phone calls to figure it all out.

I have so many stories of things that happened with the houses...from sitting empty for up to 9 months at a time, to trees falling on the roof, getting destroyed by tenants and having to be renovated-despite having a property manager that was supposed to be helping take care of them, the legal processes necessary because we didn't have a will, getting dropped from 2 insurance companies in 3 months while waiting on the legal process to be finalized, facing foreclosure a couple times for different reasons and the possibility of bankruptcy...so many crazy stories to tell! But each one is a crazy testament of God's faithfulness and provision!

Today, outside of the one remaining rental property, I stand debt-free, with great credit and I am scheduled to close on our beautiful new (to us:) home in Franklin, TN in August. This process started out of the blue and a full year sooner than I had hoped and planned...this is nothing short of miraculous!

It’s invigorating to accomplish feats with hard work and putting in all of your effort. But it’s all the more exciting, and humbling, to know that you had little to do with getting where you are! For every battle or trial I've faced, (and there have been many) I have been incredibly delivered and I am living proof that, “In all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

 

How has your story help shape you into who you are today?:

I've realized just how powerful God's strength and joy are in my utter lack of qualification and in my greatest weakness. I've discovered the safety that accompanies submission to God's plans for my life, even when I am so far beyond understanding. I have absolute trust in His sovereignty, wisdom and goodness. I've learned that the most epic adventures await where your feet no longer touch the bottom of the ocean floor.

What compelled you to share your story on our blog:

I have such a heart to encourage people facing loss, or going through seemingly impossible situations. I've watched the Lord do absolutely unbelievable things in my life, and I know that He's able to do it for others too! I just want to spread hope!!

What encouraging words would you give to someone who shares a similar story?:

Never give up...no matter how hopeless your situation seems. As long as there is breath in your lungs, God is willing and able to heal, redeem and restore. He delights in those who place their trust in Him. He gives beauty for ashes....

Photos by: Jazi Photo

Makeup by: Jacqueline Gamache

Emery Hope's Legacy

Clickforhope, Family, LossJasmine Lopez1 Comment
"They say losing a child changes you and I would say that's definitely true. I am not the same Skye I was and I don't think I ever will be. And I don't necessarily feel that the new me is a bad thing."-Skye

Please share your story: 

Where do I even begin?

My husband and I have three precious little girls - one is in heaven. We were pregnant with our second and I knew then I wanted another one, he wasn't convinced. It took 3 years to convince him to have our third.

I got pregnant with Emery fairly easily, just like I had both Makenzi and Addison. But somehow early in the pregnancy I knew something was not right. I immediately started having problems very early on. I made it to almost the halfway mark and was in and out of the hospital. There was always something wrong and they couldn't figure out what was going on. The doctors always diagnosed me with a threatened miscarriage and would send me home after a couple of nights in the hospital to just be on bed rest.

Finally around 23 weeks I started seeing a high risk specialist and he couldn't figure out what was wrong either, but could tell something was wrong by the look of the amniotic fluid. He wanted to just keep a close watch on me. I saw him on a Tuesday (after being released from another hospital) and by Friday I was in the hospital very sick. That weekend my water broke and he was going to do his best to keep me pregnant as long as he could. By Monday, we welcomed our sweet Emery Hope into this world at 24 weeks.

She was 1lb13oz and beautiful in our eyes. She was extremely premature. We were told we were in for a long ride in the NICU to be prepared.

Our long ride lasted 23 days. She fought so hard in my pregnancy that in her short time on this earth it was difficult. She had a major surgery because her intestines perforated and she just kept getting infections because of the intestinal perforation. It was all in her body and bless her sweet soul, she just couldn't recover from it.

They tried everything they could. We prayed so many times during my pregnancy we just felt certain God was going to pull her through this. He did but not on this side of glory.

On a Wednesday morning, they told us the words you never want to hear as a parent "it's time to hold her and unplug her." We had to make the decision to hold her while she was still alive (only by machines) or unplug her and then hold her. I had only been able to kind of hold her the night she was born, so I asked to please hold her while she was still alive so I could feel her heartbeat and feel her breaths (even if it was machines). My husband and I both held her. I held her all morning. When they first placed her in my arms, her stats went up higher than they had been in days. She knew she was in her Mama's arms. I was able to hold her until her last breath. The machines still weren't helping her and she was fading fast. I told my husband "please go tell them it's time. She needs to just go to heaven, so she can be at peace." He did and they unplugged my sweet girl. I had them remove her tape so I could see her beautiful face as she took her last breaths. She breathed two short breaths and smiled the sweetest smile. I know in that moment when she smiled at me she met Jesus. She was finally at peace and in no pain.

My pain had just begun. I had lost my baby. My baby girl. The baby I prayed for and prayed more for than I have ever prayed for in my life. I just wanted her to survive. I don't understand why God took her from me. I never will. I just know I never got mad at Him. I trusted His decision even if I didn't understand it. I wanted her here and I still want her here with me. I found Hope in the Lord through my Emery Hope. I know one day I will see her again and what a sweet, sweet day that will be.

It is still raw for me. Emery has only been with Jesus for 3.5 months. I long for the day I can see her again. My arms ache and my heart breaks in a way I've never felt before. But God has gotten me through my toughest days. I have never felt His presence in my life more than I do now. He comforts me just as He said He would.

I miss her so much I can't even put it into words! But I am so thankful for the promise the Lord gives us. I want to continue to share my Emery with the world, and bring people to Jesus.

How has your story help shape you into who you are today?:

Losing Emery Hope has brought us much closer as a family and brought us closer to the Lord. It makes us stronger and even when days are tough we have each other.

They say losing a child changes you and I would say that's definitely true. I am not the same Skye I was and I don't think I ever will be. And I don't necessarily feel that the new me is a bad thing. I realize how short life is, I love harder, I cling tighter to my husband and my girls, and I realize these precious girls God loaned me He can take back in the blink of an eye. It will forever be in me and I will forever miss Emery.

What compelled you to want to share your story with us today?:

I want to share my story to bring Hope to others that have lost children. I want them to find Hope in the Lord's promise. I want to share her story. I am proud of my sweet Emery Hope, even if I don't have her here to show I want to share her story and how she brought so many to their knees praying and that she continues to work miracles by me sharing her story. I want people to come to know Jesus.

What encouraging words would you give to someone who shares a similar story?:

I won't say it gets easier. In all honesty, it does not. I miss Emery more today than I did the day she went to be with the Lord. I find my strength in Him. I hope and pray that those who face losing a child like I did find Hope in HIM. I pray they go to Him for comfort and for strength. I know without Him I would be lost more so than I am now without Emery.

I would hope people that are facing a NICU roller coaster wouldn't look at our story as the final outcome. In some cases, babies pull through what Emery did fine. The NICU is an amazing place. It's not a place I loved being but I've never been around more caring and thoughtful people.

I pray that people don't feel their life is over when they lose a precious baby. It's hard and it's difficult. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think of her. But I have Hope in my Lord and I know that one day I will see her again! We will be reunited and I pray that if anyone does go through losing a child they find comfort in knowing that truth.

I continue to share my story and my journey on my personal blog - http://www.butterfliesandpinksunsets.com . I want our journey to be shared so people can get help and comfort through our journey.

Infertility | O'dell Family

Clickforhope, Infertility, Loss, Twins, PrematurityJasmine LopezComment
“What started as candlelit dinners and silly jokes gradually turned to month after month of growing anxiety and despair as that pink line never showed up.”
— Amanda O'dell

Please share your story:

I have always been a perfectionist. I lived my life by my spiral-bound agenda, checking off every minor accomplishment. So, when my husband and I decided we wanted to start a family, I meticulously learned more than I ever thought I would about human reproduction, and armed with that knowledge, I figured I'd be pregnant in no time. What started as candlelit dinners and silly jokes gradually turned to month after month of growing anxiety and despair as that pink line never showed up.

After a long and very difficult journey, including the loss of our only naturally conceived pregnancy, we finally got pregnant through IVF. I received the shock of my life, on April Fool's Day no less, when I found out that our single embryo had spontaneously split and we were now the proud parents of identical twins. I spent the next several weeks of my pregnancy again researching all the potential complications of this news, knowing that I was now considered particularly high risk. My spiral-bound notebook grew increasingly ink-stained.

Early on, the trouble started. Contractions at only 14 weeks. Bleeding at 16 weeks. By 22 weeks I had considerable contractions throughout the weekend. I saw my doctor the following Monday and was immediately admitted to the hospital. We could tell that something was seriously wrong, but no one was telling me much. Finally, the attending physician broke the news: I was in labor and there was not much they could do but give me a few kinds of drugs and hope the labor stopped. If the boys came now, they would not survive. The chances of holding off labor until they were big enough to make it were not great. We were admitted to the high-risk section of Labor and Delivery and left to hold our breath and wait. And wait. And wait. One doctor even told us that we should consider aborting them and "starting over" because "some women just can't carry twins." Those words cut into me like a knife. I had never been more scared in my life.

So I laid in a hospital bed crying, worrying, and despairing, knowing there was absolutely nothing anyone could do but let the seconds, minutes, hours tick by. My husband was by my side every single night. We waited for SIX WEEKS. I was only allowed to leave my bed once every few days to shower. The drugs I was on to hold off labor made me feel foggy and disconnected. I felt lost without my ability to know what was going to happen and if my babies would be alright. People kept telling me to take the time to read, catch up on movies, do crossword puzzles, anything to pass the time. I couldn't do anything. I was too paralyzed with anxiety to focus on anything but watch the clock.

Finally, I got up one morning to use the bathroom and my water broke. That meant delivery was, most likely, imminent. I had made it to 29 weeks, meaning the boys were viable but still quite small. A neonatologist from the NICU came to our room to explain to us what to expect when the boys were born...assuming they survived.

We waited some more, and I was not allowed to get up at all. Two more days past. I was laying in my bed when my husband left to get coffee...as he left, I sat up and felt something strange between my legs. It was Twin A's umbilical cord. A cord prolapse is a true obstetric emergency. I paged my nurse and was immediately rushed to an OR. There was no time to find my husband or discuss anything. In fact, the surgery was so fast that the anesthesia had not set in before they began the C-section; I felt everything as they sliced into my abdomen. I remember screaming and fading away. My husband was left outside the operating theatre during the C-section and had no idea what was happening or if we were alright.

The next thing I knew, I woke up feeling lots of pain, and my husband was next to me. Owen and Charlie were in the NICU. They were a good size for their age, but still small; each was about 3 pounds. Luckily they were quite healthy. I ended up staying in the hospital another week because I developed pneumonia (my lungs had become very weak from all the bedrest) and I came very close to being admitted to the ICU. Leaving the hospital without my baby boys was the most heart wrenching thing I have ever gone through.

For the next six weeks, we commuted between our house and the hospital every day to visit Owen and Charlie. We held them skin-to-skin, fed them, and bathed them, and returned home only to sleep. Even then, I was waking every three hours to pump my milk so I could bring it to the NICU for the boys' feeding tubes. I could barely walk during this time because my muscles had atrophied so terribly. It was a grueling, surreal time after everything else I'd already been through. Finally, when the boys were big enough to regulate their own body temperature and take feedings by bottle, they were able to come home.

Although the twins have been very healthy since then, we will have to monitor them carefully for the next several years to be sure they don't suffer any negative effects from their pre-maturity. They are still at risk for Cerebral Palsy, learning disabilities, vision problems, and a host of other issues. For a perfectionistic person like me, this experience was absolute hell on earth (I did everything RIGHT, so why did this happen to us?!), but I am so thankful every single day that my boys and I all survived.

How has your story shaped you into who you are today?:

The trauma my family and I went through as we struggled to grow from two to four has changed me forever. As someone who used to live and breath by a schedule and a daily agenda, I have learned that life can never truly be planned. The most important thing is to know how to be vulnerable and ask for help from your loved ones when all of your plans and expectations are destroyed. I have also learned that we women are such amazingly STRONG creatures. We grow human beings inside our bodies. We sometimes suffer through incredible stress and loss during this process, but somehow find it within ourselves to keep trying. And once we have our babies in our arms, we dig down deeper than we ever thought we could, through all those hours of crying fits and sleepless nights and feelings of failure and we give all we have to nourishing and cherishing those little ones. It is just awe-inspiring. I wish I could go back in time to my grandmothers, and my mom, and say "thank you...I get it now."

What compelled you to share your story?:

My story shows a side of pregnancy that, thankfully, is pretty rare. The majority of couples have no problems conceiving and are lucky enough to enjoy uneventful, healthy pregnancies. However, for those of us who struggle with infertility, pregnancy loss, or particularly difficult and scary pregnancies, just hearing the stories of others who have gone through it (and come out on the other side) can be comforting. On the other hand, I know that it took me a long time to stop feeling a degree of resentment towards all the carefree pregnant women I knew whose lives seemed so easy. Maybe my story can serve as a reminder that you never know what someone has been through, or how their story will end. And no matter what your circumstances (trying to conceive, biological mother, mother through adoption or other means, or happily childfree), I hope my story reminds women of the strength we all have within us, even when we don't believe its there.

What encouraging words would you give to someone who shares a similar story? : Please, please never give up hope that you will have a happy ending. It might take awhile, and you might go through a lot of pain and healing, but every single person I have met who has struggled with similar issues has eventually found their happiness. Some of them have successfully carried to term after many losses. Some of them have adopted. Some of them have chosen to embrace living childfree. All of them have battle scars, and all of them are strong, amazing women.