Saturday, May 29, 2010

Maelee's Day is here...

It's here.

The day we bury our daughter. It's going to be such a bittersweet day. So many good friends and family coming to help us honor Maelee. We have two klenex boxes ready. It will be good but oh so hard.

And then tomorrow will come. And we'll still be missing her.

We got here just fine, thanks for praying for the connection. It was very hard stepping off the plane... we just assumed we would never be traveling "just us" again. And getting to Grandma and Grandpa Kasowski's was also so very hard. I was so looking forward to introducing Maelee to them, to Buffalo, to our wonderful families.

Thanks for praying and loving us through this.

Love,

Maelee's Mommy and Daddy

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Maelee Day

Just a couple things to mention for those of you joining us for Maelee's Day on Saturday.

1) Maelee's burial service will be at 11:00 a.m. It will probably be about 30 minutes. You are welcome to bring your kids to the cemetery if you want. If you'd rather them not be at the cemetery, we are also trying to get a few people to volunteer to take care of the kids at the elementary school park or at the community center during the service. If you want to volunteer to do that, please let us know. We also have a coloring project for all the kids - Maelee's name printed on pink paper that they can color (we'll add them to her scrapbook).

2) I'm guessing everyone knows how to get to Buffalo. Directions to the cemetery are really easy too... there's one main street in Buffalo. (I think it's actually called Main Street.) The cemetery is on the far east end of town off main street.

3) The reception will follow at the Buffalo Community Center. That's also on main street. We will have plenty of food so come hungry.

4) Greg would like to get some basketball going about 2 p.m. for whoever is interested. If we have a lot of people, then maybe we can play football instead. So, those who want to play, bring some basketball/football shoes and shorts. The weather is looking to be pretty nice and warm.

5) Again, feel free to wear whatever you'd like. Greg's wearing jeans. I'm wearing a dress.

6) We don't have a sound system so it may be a bit hard to hear everything. We've printed the scriptures and the song lyrics so hopefully that will help.

7) You are welcome to hang out as long as you want in Buffalo with us. We are really looking forward to seeing all of you who are coming. For our "guest book" everyone gets to sign a piece of fabric that will be made into a quilt eventually.

8) With area code (803), call Heather 394.0918 or Greg 394.1636 if you have questions.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Digging the hole

(I'm gonna be the king of drama right now, so stick with me if you want.)

I've been dreading it all week. It's been on my mind at work. I've sat awake at night thinking about it. I don't want to do it. I don't want to do it. I don't want to do it. I don't want to do it, but I think I should. I'm going to dig Maelee's grave. That's some heavy stuff.

I'm doing it because I want to have some sort of connection with the grieving people of the past. Old-fashioned tough guys who worked with their hands all day. Bearded stoic guys who never cried because they'd seen so much heartache in their life already ... and this was just another earthly cross to bear. They'd go out on the backside of their 100-acre property with their wife, six kids and dog. The man of the house would dig the hole and put a wooden cross at the head of the grave.

I'm doing it because I hope it might release me from the constant anger and frustration of dealing with loss. It feels therapeutic to cut rocks with a saw, curl some barbells and dig holes with a shovel. I think it might've been a little easier for men in the olden days because they didn't have to go sit in a cubicle after losing their daughter. They could go ax some wood, till some soil, or put up some barbed wire fence.

I'm doing it because it costs $50 for the funeral gravedigger to do it. My dad, my grandpa, my brothers and I are going to do it. We're going to get my grandpa's spade. We're going to walk down the street to the cemetery.

My grandpa knows the specifics for how deep it needs to be. I doubt it's six feet deep. She was just an infant.

I'll be the first to break the earth. I'm going to jab that shovel in the ground. It's black, healthy Red River soil, so it's not going to be like digging into clay.

The tough part is not going to be digging the hole. The tough part is going to be filling it. We're going to have to put Maelee's remains in the hole and throw the dirt on top of it. We're going to throw some more on top. Then we're going to pat it down and put up the gravestone.

Another chapter closed in this sad, sad story. But the story never ends. Maelee will never be forgotten.

-Greg

Poem.

Come now
Live in us.
Let us stay in You,
Since if we be all in You,
We cannot be far from one another
Though some may be in heaven
and some upon the earth.

- George Macdonald

Monday, May 24, 2010

More info for Maelee's Day.

A few things about Maelee's Day on Saturday that I want to mention:

1. If you are coming, wear whatever you'd like, whatever you think Maelee would like. I have yet to go shopping for me, but I think I'm going to try find a pink dress. Or one with flowers.

2. If you know of a good photographer (or if you are a good photographer), let me know. I really want some sweet images of the burial and gathering, some creative shots to add to our very small but precious collection. I'll have my camera... but will not be able to take photos.

3. If you are coming and you are a good singer, be prepared to sing nice and loud and help Greg lead. And if you are a crappy singer (like me and my sister and my dad and a few others I'm sure)... you can definitely still sing. Even loud if you want.

And on another note: please pray Greg and I don't miss our connecting flight in Chicago on Friday... we only have a 48 minute layover. And we obviously really need to make it to Fargo on Friday. I emailed United trying to be proactive (making sure we could get on a later flight), but haven't heard anything yet.

Maelee's Name Book!

I've been wanting to get a slideshow of these images for awhile now... and I don't have it quite figured out. You can click the image below and it should get you to the web album. OR you can see the slideshow on the right-hand side of the blog. There are 78 images, so if you really want to see them all you'll have to stay awhile. I spent a few hours in Photoshop today, it was great therapy to tweak images of M's name. A deep, heartfelt thank you to everyone that has sent us an image for Maelee's book.

I'll be making the book sometime this summer so feel free to add to her collection. We truly LOVE to see her name in any and every way.



-Maelee's Mommy

Friday, May 21, 2010

Maelee's Empty Room.

Maelee would have loved her room.

She would know her mommy loves brown because there is pink and brown everywhere. She would know about birds because her sheets and blankets have little birdies on them. She would know toys (like the super fun puppets from the China crew) go in the big brown basket. She would know the train from cousin Ali goes on the floor in front of the basket. She would know her curtains were made by Grammy and her walls were painted oh-so-cute by Grandpa Lloyd. She would know she is loved because of all the adorable outfits she was given. She would know that her daddy had to be the one to put all the diapers up in the way high closet... and that mommy was the one that couldn't pass up a good deal on diapers. She would have known we were so ready for her.






-Heather

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Maelee's Day.

We posted awhile back about the service we are having on May 29th in Buffalo, ND to honor Maelee. Well from here on out we are calling it "Maelee's Day."

Again, we invite those of you near to join us. We will be meeting at the cemetery in Buffalo at 11:00am. We are working on a little service for that. Afterward we will meet at the community center for a reception with good food. In case of rain, we will still have a short service at the cemetery but move to the community center for the rest of it.

Later that afternoon if weather permits, the Maelee Memorial Basketball Tournament will be held. You are welcome to participate. (Maelee's daddy is obviously the brains behind this event).

We'll be in ND from the 28th to the 6th. We hope to see those of you up north then. And we hope those of you down here will water our flowers:)

-Heather

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Complaining.

We've heard a lot of comments that would have never phased us before Maelee died. But now... well, it's like we have this automatic filter in our brains and we catch things. Especially people complaining about their kids.

Please, please, please don't complain about your kids. I know it's tempting when they are unruly and you're tired or crabby or running on little sleep. But remember us. Remember Maelee. Remember that you have a living, breathing miracle that is your child.

So don't complain that you are stuck at home with your kids or that they are driving you crazy or that they are limiting you from the life you want. Don't yell at them. Don't be short with them. Don't get annoyed. Don't chose pointless crap over being with them. Love them like the little miracles they are.

And if you are pregnant, don't negatively complain about all the crappy symptoms you are dealing with and just be grateful you get to be pregnant. You get the opportunity to carry that baby and love them. So many women wish they could be pregnant and/or have a baby and you get to. Be grateful. Be humbled.

6 weeks ago Maelee was born and even though she didn't take a breath, she taught Greg and I to never, ever take any possible future children for granted. We hope only thankfulness wells up in our souls and never complaints. Being a parent is a gift.

If you need to complain about something, go to the DMV (see below post).

-Heather

Rant.

45 Miles.

That's how many miles I drove today getting Gramps (our new-to-us car) registered (using our old car's plate and registration), title transferred (from ND) and vehicle tax paid. This involved:

1. Filling out and printing a form online and calling the DMV to verify what to do with it (Answer given: "go to any DMV office, turn in form, pay $10"... easy peasy, right?).

2. Drove to the DMV office surprisingly close to our house. Told I can't do title transfer there. Must drive to full service DMV office in Ballentine.

3. Drove to Ballentine. Short wait time. Gave title, paid $25. Told I have to pay the vehicle tax at the county Treasurer's Office, get receipt and bring it back to any DMV.

4. Drove to downtown Columbia to Treasurer's Office. Had to park far away in metered spot. Walked to office, read sign directing me to the Auditor. Got tax due bill there. Walked to Treasurer's Office, paid $252.65 vehicle tax, got the "golden ticket" receipt.

5. Drove back to first DMV office near us. Waited a looong time to give them receipt. Paid $24. Received new decal. New title will be mailed to us.

45 miles, 2+ hours, 8 government employees, and $301.65 later I can finally check this off our list of things to do (a HUGE accomplishment for me who has spent most of the last 6 weeks on the couch).

Seriously South Carolina - does this really need to be so difficult and inefficient?

-Heather (thanks for letting me rant)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Just Us.

Starting last August, Greg and I began bracing ourselves for baby's April arrival knowing our lives were going to change completely. We knew we couldn't just do whatever we wanted when we wanted. Our schedule was going to change. Our plans were going to change. Our everyday lives were going to change.

I guess some of that happened... but not how we were expecting it to. We went on many dates during the past months, knowing we wouldn't have unrestricted time for that. We tried enjoying the moments with just us, living it up, knowing it was going to change. All these expectations of what our family was going to be, getting ready to be a family of three, imagining what our lives would look like...

And now...

It's just us. Just Greg and Heather. Again. We weren't planning on it being just us ever again. So all that we've thought since last August is gone. We have to readjust our thinking all over again... back to just us.

Don't get me wrong, we love each other and we love being best friends. If I had to pick anyone to be with, it's Greg. But our lives do not feel complete with just us. Maelee is not here with us and we do not feel whole.

It's been a hard past few days trying to get back to just us. Please keep praying.

-Heather

Friday, May 14, 2010

Maelee's Cousins.

We know Maelee would have been a beautiful little red-headed girl. We know this because it's in the genes. Her cousins are downright adorable and she would have LOVED each one of them. Things we will miss for her: looking up to all her big cousins, going on planes to visit them, photo shoots, playing house with Lilliana, making fun stuff out of play dough with Ali, running around the house with blanket-capes on with Isaiah and Marian, hugging John, obeying Ali as she bosses her around, eating cereal with the China crew, wearing Lilliana's hand-me-downs, hearing all the cousins laughing and playing together. We ache that our nieces and nephews will never know our Maelee.

Here are her cousins (click image to see bigger) - so you can see and agree with us that Maelee would have been a CUTIE!
Ali (Alison Linn Lippert) is my sister's daughter and will be 4 in July. She lives in Minnesota and looks a lot like I did when I was little (sort of chunky but oh-so-cute). Her parents gave her a stuffed bear around the time Maelee died and a few nights ago she said to my sister "Here Mom, you can sleep with the bear that reminds me of Maelee."

Lilli (Lilliana Winter Kasowski) is Greg's brother Chris' daughter. She'll be 3 in September and lives in Utah. She has the personality of her Uncle Greg and looks like a cuter, female version of Greg when he was a kid. You couldn't get a sweeter little girl and since she loves babies, Lilliana would have loved on Maelee nonstop.

Marian Lynn Kasowski is Greg's brother Matt and his wife Jill's daughter. She'll be 3 in August and is named after the wonderful and amazing Grandma Marian Kasowski. She is a hilarious girl, always on the go and all Greg has to do to laugh is think of her, diaper only, strutting around with Lilliana's stroller at Christmas.

John Timothy Kasowski is Matt and Jill's son. He'll be one in June. Everyone that meets Johners is amazed at his sweet, content personality. He's such a good boy, rarely cries, and smiles often. He's a solid, big little guy. And he would have been less than a year older than Maelee, so we know they would have been close.

Isaiah Dale Kasowski is Matt and Jill's first son. He turned 4 in March. He loves his Uncle Greg's crazy made up stories of Darth Vader eating turkey for breakfast. He loves to battle with swords and talk about Star Wars or Batman or Buzz Lightyear... he would have been a wealth of knowledge for Maelee.


When we are in Buffalo, there is a tree being planted at Grandma and Grandpa Kasowski's house in Maelee's honor from all of her cousins. We'll be sure to take a photo of the tree (and Ali and Lilli representing for all the cousins).

Thanks, family, for sending us these images... we will treasure them always.

We love you Lilliana, Marian, John, Isaiah, Ali and baby Lippert-to-come!

-Auntie Heather and Uncle Greg

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Un-Answers.

We learned awhile back about possible causes for Maelee's death. I didn't want to post about it but for some reason I think I should. Feel free to skip this medical mumbo-jumbo. Here goes.

While I was delivering Maelee, I got an infection and ended up with a fever of 104 that finally broke a few hours after delivery. Maelee's autopsy (incredibly hard to read) states she died of an infection. However, our doctor said that is not the case and she thinks the coroner just found the infection that I got during delivery. Since Maelee was already gone two days before I got that infection and because I wasn't sick at all during pregnancy, that makes sense. But it does suck that our autopsy didn't come back with a nice, clean-cut answer.

Our doctor believes that a blood clot was the cause. They did a lot of blood work on me and found out that I have Factor V Leiden blood clotting disorder. This means that my blood can clot easier than normal. Unexplained pregnancy loss is linked with Factor V. My sister found out days before I did that she has the same thing, one copy of this genetic disorder. Besides pregnancy those that have it need to be more careful during plane rides, long periods of inactivity, etc. The test for Factor V has only been around for six years. It costs a lot otherwise they would probably test all pregnant people (frustrating, I know).

They put you on blood thinners to counteract the disorder during pregnancy. My sister, who is pregnant and due October 12th, has to give herself a shot everyday and that's what I'll have to do if I ever get pregnant. Right now, I'm taking a baby aspirin since I have a higher chance of clotting for six+ weeks after pregnancy (which freaks Greg out and causes him to make sure I'm breathing in the middle of the night).

At 34 weeks when I was in the hospital for three days with possible preeclampsia, they found out I had thrombocytopenia (low platelets). I thought there may be a connection with this blood stuff but it is completely unrelated to the Factor V. Platelets prevent your blood from clotting... and Factor V disorder means your blood is prone to clot. Go figure. To prevent me from developing preeclampsia they put be on bed rest. In retrospect, that could have been the worst thing because the inactivity could have caused the blood clot. But we don't dwell on that. We did everything we were told with Maelee's best interest...

BUT, even with this knowledge, Maelee's autopsy does not say there was a blood clot, everything checked out normal in her cardiovascular system. And all other tests on Maelee and I came out normal. Confusing, eh?

It sucks anyway you look at it. Even if we knew every answer, every why and how, it still wouldn't bring Maelee back. Thankfully our peace isn't found in any answers... it's found in knowing that one day, one glorious day thanks to Jesus, we will see Maelee again.

I am very determined, however, that for future pregnancies we will be incredibly proactive and will hopefully find a doctor with a good knowledge of blood clotting disorders. If anyone knows of a good ob/gyn in Columbia/Lexington, pass on the info. My sister has a wonderful doctor in MN that specializes in blood disorders and who has been very proactive with my sister's crazy difficult pregnancy and even helpful to me. Her doctor was the one that told her I needed to be on baby aspirin because of the increased risk of clotting after pregnancy. Too bad I can't fly up to MN for appointments.

We know that even if we get to bring home a healthy baby someday (oh Lord let it be so!!!) that Maelee will still always be a part of our family. Father Tony said the day of Maelee's funeral that Maelee will never be replaced. This was very wise - we can't think any future children would be a replacement for her. She isn't replaceable. She's still a part of us. A part that we miss dearly.

-Heather

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Simple decisions

Making simple decisions comes very difficult for us. Here’s a typical example of when we were away this weekend.

Me: “You hungry?”

H: “Sure. You?”

Me: “Yeah. What’re you feeling like?”

H: “Umm … I don’t know. You?”

Me: “Uh … I don’t know either. You?”

H: “I don’t know. I just want you to make a decision. I have a hard time deciding.”

Me: “OK, yeah, I’ll make a choice. What’d you feel like?”

And the cycle continues, until we finally get so hungry that we just choose the place nearest to our mouths.

[Happy] Mother's Day

Heather got a card from Maelee today. It looked suspiciously like my handwriting though. She said she wished she could’ve wished Heather a happy mother’s day. She said she wished she could’ve said “I love you” at least once.

We spent last night in Asheville, eating at some touristy restaurant downtown and then walking and driving around town. That place really is a clash of cultures … hippie artsy meets down-home Southern. Case in point: racy paintings on the restaurant wall clashed with the waitress asking if Heather wanted fried okra as a side dish.

The house we stayed in was old. Eighty-seven years to be exact. Every floor board creaked in that place. Even when you sat on the toilet, it set off a chain reaction where I heard a moaning board from the middle of the house.

This morning we took a drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway. If you’ve never heard of it, to me it seems like a scenic route through the Appalachians that leads nowhere, except to more scenic views. We stopped off at some overlooks and waterfalls. Maelee was on our mind all day. Here’s some pictures. We forgot the camera, so these are from Heather's phone.


Saturday, May 8, 2010

Overdue.

I had an overdue library book. It was due at the library on Thursday and I realized it on Friday. This is a big deal because I NEVER have overdue anything. Either does Greg. Maybe it's because we're cheap or just rule-followers, I'm not sure.

Regardless, it was another reminder that we are not as we once were. Both of us are typically very detailed and on the ball. Lately neither of us can remember anything or make decisions. Add that on top of the fact that neither of us are particularly motivated to get anything done... well, it's a bad combo.

That to say, I have a long list of wonderful emails to return to you, friends. Please know that I'm not purposefully ignoring you! I will respond soon! I don't want anyone to think we are ungrateful for the love, support and prayers for us. Each comment, note, call, gift, message is precious to us and deserves a response. And now that I'm all alone with no family around to keep me company while Greg is at work, I will spend more time responding to you all.

We are off to a B&B near Asheville that Greg found this morning (two people that aren't motivated and can't make decisions trying to make travel plans = not easy). We plan to just be together, enjoy being out of Columbia, talk about our daughter and our love for her.

-Heather

Thursday, May 6, 2010

One Month.

It's been one month since this photo was taken of Daddy and Maelee's hands. I know Maelee would have adored her daddy.

We only have a handful of photos from the photographer and we'll get more soon. We'll post a few... when we're ready.

Greg has been writing songs for Maelee. Maybe we'll post some with guitar and singing eventually. Here's the lyrics for one to commemorate one month.

Perfect Peace

Pink is on my mind
Think about you all the time
Pink is on my mind
Life goes on, but you stopped time

Perfect peace
And closed tight eyes

Out of the womb

There were no cries


Pink is all I see
When I wake and when I sleep
Pink is all I see
Know my love in this deep grief

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Retreat.

After we drop my mom off at the airport on Saturday morning, we want to get out of town. We are hoping to go somewhere a few hours from here, stay the night and spend Sunday together relaxing, missing Maelee together, dealing with this first Mother's Day.

If we were up north, we could go to this amazing lodge in Wisconsin where bereaved parents can stay for $25/night. We could retreat at a place that's sole purpose is to help with the loss of your child (Faith's Lodge - www.faithslodge.org). I think someone should build one in the mountains in N.C..

So I have to find a place for us to stay, hopefully a quaint bed & breakfast. But what do I say when I call for a reservation? "Excuse me but can you tell me if there will be any babies around or any mother's day celebrations going on or any cute little red-headed girls?". I know I'll have to deal with these things but... not this weekend please.

So for an update on how we are doing... We are both feeling quite inadequate, full of questions, unmotivated and unfocused, trying to be honest, wondering how to grieve well and to love God through this. We really do want our faith to be proved genuine through this trial... oh that we wouldn't waste this.
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:6-9)
-Heather

Monday, May 3, 2010

Name Book Pic.

Thanks to all those that have sent us photos for Maelee's Name Book. Keep them coming please! They are like therapy for us. I will post a slideshow once we get more.

Here is one Greg's co-worker did that we love. We are not pet people but this is adorable!

I asked Kristin and found out there are four dogs here, one for each letter in Maelee's name: Emily wore the "e", Annie wore the "a", Lily wore the "l" and Bosco wore the "M" since he's the male. Cute, eh?

Sidenote: if you want to do something for Maelee's book but are feeling intimidated, don't be (the dog montage was done by a graphic designer for pete's sake). We love to see Maelee's name regardless. And we can always crop and edit in photoshop for the final book if needed!

Milanos.

I love Milano cookies. Those yummy cookies with chocolate sandwiched in them - delicate and delicious. Since they are expensive, I rarely bought them. When they were in our pantry, I would have to put limits on myself so I wouldn't eat them all in one sitting. "Only two Milanos per day" I'd say (not so much because they aren't healthy but more so they would last longer). And I would have to tell Greg my limits so I wouldn't cheat. He would see me eating one and playfully ask "How many is that for you today?" Needless to say, that Pepperridge Farm package of goodness didn't last long in our house.

Yet we've had a package of Milanos in our house for over three weeks, just sitting on top of the microwave. I don't think I've had a single one.

I have no appetite. Even when I hear my stomach growling and know I should eat, nothing sounds good. Even foods that I absolutely love have no appeal. If it wasn't prepared and sitting in front of me, I probably wouldn't eat much at all. And let me tell you, I really loved to eat... especially during my pregnancy. I gained 10 pounds in one month.

I know I probably should be grateful that my grief isn't causing the other extreme. I'm not binge eating constantly. That wouldn't be good for losing my pregnancy weight. But the fact is, I just don't care about food. About a lot of things.

Our house just isn't as it should be. Maelee is not taking a nap in her beautiful crib right now. Greg is not coming home after a long day to TWO excited red-heads. Grammy is not here visiting her new granddaughter. And I'm not scarfing down the Milanos in the kitchen.

-Heather

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Suffering.

I had expected our date last night to be hard. I thought we wouldn't be able to have normal conversation at a restaurant. But, thanks be to God, we had a nice, solid time together. We had wonderful conversation reflecting on the past five years, remembering our first years together in our ghetto apartment and really ghetto rental house in Grand Forks. It was good to be reminded of the memories we've made. It was good to reminisce.

Sometimes I think we've had too much suffering in our fives years. Moving to S.C. away from family, then the ectopic pregnancy in 2008 (yes, Maelee isn't our first child in heaven), my great job at CIU being cut, then Maelee... and it's easy, so easy to feel like we deserve something better, an easier life, only good things, only prosperity. And that's when I realize, well heck, that's the prosperity gospel... only believing in Jesus because we will get health and wealth. That's dumb. There's suffering all over the Bible of followers of Jesus. Hard, tough, deep suffering. I'm not at the point where I'm embracing this suffering or having a good attitude about it, and I'm surely never going to seek out suffering, but I do recognize that suffering is a part of life in this sinful world. Why we have been chosen for this, I don't know (it's surely not because we are strong enough for this, we aren't).

So we've suffered and we are suffering one of the hardest things people have to suffer. Every day without Maelee is downright painful. BUT regardless of our deepest pains, God is still good. I won't get into the theology of why I believe that (I certainly don't feel it all the time right now) but if I'm going to think about the bad stuff in our lives, I would be unfair not to mention the good... like getting to experience a whole new culture and new set of friends in S.C., Greg getting a job at BlueCross that provides and allows him to go to school (and that he still has his job), having amazing family, getting to hold our daughter for a few unforgettable hours. We've suffered yet we've been blessed.

Now if I can only remember that during the really, really dark moments.

-Heather