Monthly Archives: December 2012

Our first week as a family of four.

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We began the week with remembering our family as one of five.

The service was beautifully worshipful.

The girls were sweetly helpful. Big sisters. Taking care of their little brother’s special space.  And making him the most heartfelt and special of gifts to send to Heaven on the strings of 31 balloons. Each one representing a week of his precious life.

All this as we felt our family and closest friends circling around us with their arms, their prayers, and their hope. For us. In our God.

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As we then looked forward to the birth of yet another baby boy in the coming days, we kept quietly to ourselves. Injecting as much happiness and joy into our girls’ lives as we could while we desperately craved some of our own. I learned something (again). It’s hard to think about Jesus and not feel joy.

We started the day with our Happy Birthday Jesus party. As we ate a breakfast given in love by a church friend. We ate a piece of joy that day. We continued with a bit of gifts. Celebrating the gift given to us. And were greeted with the most beautiful thankful hugs from our sweet girls. I don’t know how many other kids give “great big thank-you hugs” for pajamas. We drew pictures of heaven. And we tried delivering a piece of heaven. To a dear lady friend who was in the hospital from a very harsh gift – leukemia. Our four caroling voices certainly wouldn’t be called heavenly, but our hearts felt closer to Jesus and our Kyle.  It wasn’t quite the grandiose plans we had had in mind for our Christmas project this year. But it was just what I needed.

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For those interested (and you, my praying friends, are certainly all invited), Kyle’s Memorial Service will be held on Saturday, January 5th, at 2PM. The location is Morningside Baptist Church.  We want this service to be a testimony of our son’s short life, but really of the amazing things God has done through it all. (And I promise, it will be incredible when you see what your prayers, gifts, and encouragement have done.) We won’t be wearing black. We’ll be in baby blue.

We have set up a memorial fund, in partnership with Compassion International, to help pregnant women and infants whose lives are at risk because of poverty and treatable illnesses in South America.  This fund will be used to support these women and babies by providing clean drinking water, basic prenatal and postnatal care and education, and basic food supplies to make breastfeeding their new infants possible, where infant formula is not an option. They will also hear of the love of Jesus. The love that made our little Kyle’s life possible. The love that’s making their little one’s life possible.

In lieu of flowers at the service, we are requesting that donations be made to the Kyle Rackley Memorial Fund. These donations can be made in a number of ways

* Through our special secure Memorial Fund Fundraiser link.  – Where you can also see how others’ generosity are going to further the cause of Christ. It’s exciting for us – when exciting is hard to come by. Come take a look.

* Through Paypal – send a personal gift to kylerackleymemorialfund@gmail.com.

* Through the mail at

The Kyle Rackley Memorial Fund
c/o Greenville Federal Credit Union
1501 Wade Hampton Blvd.
Greenville, SC 29609

* Keep up with where the money is going through Kyle’s special Memorial Facebook page.

Again, thank you for your grace. Your gifts of prayer, love, support – you all honored my son and brought joy to my heart more than you’ll ever know.

When Christmas isn’t bright.

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When bad things happen…when tragedy strikes – whether expected, like in our case, or not, like in the case of those dear children in Connecticut…how do we do Christmas? Sometimes I wonder how I’m going to just breathe. Much less rehang those tiny baby shoes on the tree after bringing them home from the hospital. The only difference to them being that now they have an imprint of Kyle’s tiny feet on the bottom of them.

They’re still empty.

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I see evidence of tragedies everywhere now.

An ICU room with a dear wife, mother, grandmother. Who doesn’t realize she’s missing her husband’s funeral because she’s still unconscious from the same accident.

An IV needle that will be administering the third dose of chemo to a dear husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather on Christmas Day in a cold hospital room for his two newly diagnosed inoperable brain tumors.

Smashed windows and hearts of a neighbor – who now has no Christmas gifts for her children. After she worked so desperately hard to provide them with just something happy.

Another mother’s agony in a different state whose sweet baby boy was born into heaven just a few days after mine. And the thoughts in her mind are, “I wonder if the cemetery will do a burial on Christmas Day?”

My filled-already freezer shelf of expressed breastmilk – because there’s no baby to drink it.

My heart hurts even more deeply. Because I know what the world is supposed to be. Perfect, pure, sinless, without pain. And one day it will be. But now it’s not.

And many of these people aren’t even thinking what onlookers are – “I can’t believe this is happening right at Christmas.” As if Christmas is really heavy on our minds. Or if our tragedy had happened at a different time of year, it would have been easier somehow. For many of us, it’s going to be another day to just breathe. To just put our feet on the floor and greet the day. To just try to see something, anything. Because the days seem so dark, black, empty.

I’ve noticed something though in my short lifetime.

The smallest of lights are the brightest in the darkest of rooms.

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You just have to look for them. They are there. They are always there.

Flickering. The gentle tears of shared grief from a caring nurse. “I promise I’ll be more professional the next time I come in.”

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Flashing. The light in my overflowing fridge (and countertops, and pantry, and freezer) from food gifts of friends who want to meet our deepest need, but can’t. So they provide for another one. I see it everytime I open that door.

Glistening. The shining tears of the cemetery representative. Not the one assigned to us. But another one. Who lost two of her own in the same way we lost Kyle. And asked if she could come to the service. Just to be a support. And her gloves. On that cold day when we laid Kyle to rest. “You take them today. I have pockets.”

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Glowing. The handmade blankets, hats, cloth diapers – all given in love by friends, and even strangers. They make my heart warm. Many of them readers, followers, prayer warriors who didn’t even sign a name.

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Sparkling. The little eyes on my two girls now. When they say, “Kyle is having fun in heaven today, Mommy, isn’t he?” I look so deeply into those diamonds now.

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Shimmering. The soft touch of my sweet friend and doula who never seemed to stop the foot rubs during my long hours of labor. And her unwavering massage on the back of my neck as I passed my baby from my arms, to the ones of the funeral home stranger.

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Dazzling. The glory my God is getting from my sweet baby boy’s life. Through his Memorial Fund – that will already because of so many people’s generosity, support a Child Survival Center for 11 1/2 months. Longer than my son was on this earth. I can’t imagine how many lives that will save – physically and eternally.

Through his graveside service – where every woman in attendance had lost a little baby – or babies – sometime during a pregnancy. We felt healing together.

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Through the stories that keep coming in from all over the place of people being introduced to Christ because of my little boy’s story. And those being re-introduced.

This dazzling light keeps me from being able to see clearly or act normally because there’s so much of it. Or maybe perhaps it is helping me to see more clearly than I ever have.

Twinkling. The sweet thoughts of what my baby is doing afar off today. Feeling love without fear of pain. Glorying in God’s pure light with untainted motives. Dancing. Without my having to hold him.

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Glimmering. It’s almost time to celebrate the coming of the baby boy that made the way for my baby boy to be where he is now. It’s hard for me to think about at times. But it’s sometimes faintly good for me to think about too. That baby boy was born to die, too.

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My friend, look for the lights. They are there. And honestly, there are many more of them at Christmas than at any time of the year.

The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

- John 1

A beautiful birth to heaven from a labor of love.

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So, the question is, are we still celebrating?

Honestly, the last several days have been full of the deepest grief and pain we have ever experienced.

But, it has also been full of some of the most beautiful moments we have ever been allowed to be a part of. This post is small piece of those beautifully painful moments.

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There’s something about raw emotions. Where I live now, we don’t see many of them. Except maybe from my kids when the cookies are gone. Again.

But for some reason, the idea of being open and honest with pain and grief aren’t always witnessed or expressed. Not that this is necessarily wrong or bad. But sometimes it can give the false idea of someone being “okay” with something that they aren’t really okay with. In fact, they can be so desperately in pain in the innermost parts of their soul, and trying to suppress it only seems to make it worse. So in no particular order are my moments, Because way too many can relate. And so many of you want to try.

In the moments before he was born, my husband told a joke. In between contractions. In that small moment of time where there is no pain. But he didn’t finish until the tightening began again. I couldn’t laugh. I couldn’t smile. But I gave him a wink. Apparently I attained “my-wife-is-my-hero” status again with that wink. I love making that man happy.

In the other moments before he was born, when the morphine I had taken to enjoy a little visit with my girls a few hours earlier was no longer working and had worn off, and yet, I was still saying no to the epidural, my pain level was intense, but I wanted it. I craved it. It was yet another memory I’d have of my sweet son in my body. And I knew it wouldn’t be long before he arrived. I wanted to deeply feel every moment. But I still kept the anesthesiologist in the room outside my bathroom door.

I delivered Kyle myself. In a tub of warm water. It wasn’t my plan. Well, actually it was my original plan way back when I got that first pregnancy test. Twelve months ago. Being pregnant for almost fourteen months gives you lots of time to think about what you want in a birth experience. And what I had was more beautiful than I could have imagined. I delivered him after 13 hours of laboring. Only 2 of those hours being so intense that I had to focus on breathing and relaxing and letting my body slowly bring my baby closer to my arms. He was born only a few contractions after my water broke. And I grabbed him myself. The doctor knew I was ok. He stood outside the room. It was me, my doula, and my husband. And my little boy. He was in my hands against my chest and I’ll never forget the feeling of his tiny head in my hands pressed close into my bosom. He was warm and when I finally opened my eyes, all I could see was his head full of dark black hair. Just like his sisters’. But I already knew it would be there. I had seen it two weeks ago.

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There were no sounds. No one said a word. No one gasped. No one breathed. I didn’t even hear the clicks of my sister’s camera.

The only sound was my sobs. And perhaps a few tears from my support team.

My sweet boy never uttered a sound.

After several moments of pure silent bliss bouncing between complete happiness and painful despair, the doctor said, “I really need to make sure you’re ok. Let’s get you out of this tub and on the bed for a second.” I don’t remember much about that moment, except for the nurse laying down towels for me as I walked across the wooden floor. I carried my son. My husband was scared for me. But I wasn’t. I was so close to heaven. In fact the little body I was holding was just filled with a soul that had left for heaven not 36 hours before. I felt like I was on the front porch of heaven peering in the windows.

Natural birth is such a beautiful thing. Most beautiful in that as soon as the baby is delivered, the pain is completely gone. That makes the moment so much more perfect.

My body recovered without too much trouble. My doctor expressed his sincere condolences and said, “you take as much time as you need.”

It was a long time before I peeled back the blankets to see his tiny little face. His little eyes had opened. They were black as night. His little mouth was open – look down at the “O” key on your computer keyboard. That’s the size and shape it was. His tiny nose was so small I can’t compare it to anything more than perhaps the size of a little black bean. But it was perfect. His tiny fingers were everything i could have imagined. And those fingernails. Almost fully grown. And long. His fingers were beautifully long. He didn’t get that from me.

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I slept with my sweet boy for an entire night. There was more blanket to hold than him. But the warmed blankets kept his tiny body from getting cold. And my tears and kisses kept his uncovered face from getting cold too quickly. But it still grew cold too quickly.

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We played his music. Almost non stop. We spoke words to him. And at times we didn’t. I held his body that would have never been able to dance or walk or crawl. It only kicked. And I thought about him dancing and walking and crawling in heaven. At that very moment.

My sister took many of these beautiful photos. As painful as it was, she labored in love, to give me something money could never pay for.

I had another beautiful friend who labored over many footprints and handprints and clay molds of his tiny hands and feet for me to hold forever.

I held him again and just breathed. Happy moments to remember with my son.

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Not more than 16 hours after my son arrived, I watched a stranger walk into my room. With one of my tender nurses. “The funeral home people have arrived.” She said as she let him in the room. I thought I’d have to sign papers. I’d have more time. But, no. Everything had already been taken care of. I passed my baby quietly to my husband who handed him to that gentle stranger.

When you’re giving your child his last kiss, where do you place it?

Do you watch him leave or don’t you?

Not more than 19 hours after my son was born was I being wheeled out of the hospital. Hands left painfully empty. That’s the second time I’ve been there. The first time though, I had a second chance to leave the hospital with full arms. Her name is Chloe.

Not more than 32 hours after Kyle was born, was I walking into a funeral home to sign release papers. I got to hold him again. He looked like an angel. It’s so difficult to see your son’s name at the top of a death certificate. Or the little blue and red flags waving in the rain and the wind marking your son’s spot. Generously given in love by another grieving mother. So that my son could be her son’s friend. Forever. Now we both feel a sense of comfort.

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He had so many gifts. He was laid in his sweet little white casket on a fluffy white pillow surrounded by a tiny blue blanket. In a tiny blue and green crocheted hat – another labor of love from a stranger. In a beautiful white gown. Like what he’s wearing now. That gown was a love labor from a sweet friend – who stayed by my side from the minute I arrived at the hospital until just a few hours before I left. It was perfectly white. She stitched it with the tiniest blue and white smocking – and a robin’s egg blue ribbon on the sleeves. He wore the tiniest blue cloth diaper. The small safety pin was almost too big for it. And he only needed one pin. Yet another labor of love given by a stranger. I’d like to think diapers aren’t in heaven. It just messes up my idea of heaven. But if they are, they probably look like the one he has on now.

I saw him today. Just to make sure he was ok. To make sure his gown was straight. And his hat was on right. It’s so tiny. But it’s still too big. I didn’t want him to look like a smurf! So I went to see him. And I cried. It was the last time on earth I could be his mother.

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I held him. I held his hand until it was warmed again. It was so cold. He’d been on ice overnight. We danced. I danced with my little boy. In the chapel. While the soft music played.

I prayed over him. With his dad. For a long time. Even though my God knew everything about my son before He arrived, I felt the need to tell God everything I knew about my son. And I did.

I kissed him one last time. On that tiny little nose.

And I walked out with my husband after we read a few passages from the little Bible on a side table in the chapel.

Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
I have no good apart from you.”

I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me.

I have set the Lord always before me,

because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.

Therefore my heart is glad.

I blew my son a kiss goodbye.

And I walked out the door.

And I’m ok. Only because of God’s grace.

Tomorrow, I will bury my son in a quiet service filled with balloons, guitar music, lullabies, and my family. And I know that I will be ok. Because at this point, I know nothing else except to set the Lord before me, to keep him at my right hand. Because I wouldn’t survive being shaken.

So, am I celebrating? No. But, am I joyful. Tearfully, yes. And as scared as I was about my reaction to the events I knew were coming in my near future, my God did not fail me.

And He won’t fail you.

- Psalm 16

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And while tomorrow is a private service to mourn our loss, our open service to express our joy in the beautiful gift we were given is coming after the holidays. We will keep everyone updated.

We have also had many requests for those who would like to express their condolences in a tangible way. If this is something you are interested in, we have set up a memorial fund in our son’s honor. I’ll explain more about it in a later post, but for now, the info can be found here.

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Update from Kim’s Husband: Holding Pattern

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Hi! I’m Kim’s husband. Blogging duties have been delegated to me until further notice. :-)

The good news is that Kim is doing quite well. In fact, I would say she’s doing remarkable. Kim doesn’t brag on herself in this space; but since I’m writing, I’m more than happy to make up for it!

I can’t imagine someone possibly handling this situation better than Kim. She’s brave, composed, and filled with hope. Obviously, there’s been a lot of pain. At several points today, she and I had shared moments of grief — some would call those moments “good cries.” One moment while walking around, a newborn’s cry was heard in the hallway. Kim wasn’t ready for that. It was a hard few moments.

At other times, we have been blessed with much grace — and a peace that passes all understanding. God has used many things to help bring this about — most notably our doula, Jaala, her sister Jen (who’s a nurse at a neighboring hospital but has joined us in this journey) and Kim’s sister Rebecca, a wedding photographer by trade who came in to photograph the delivery. These three have encouraged and strengthened Kim throughout this long day.

Granny brought the girls in for a short visit. It reinvigorated Kim.

Granny brought the girls in for a short visit. It reinvigorated Kim.

The not-as-good news is the labor is not progressing very well. Kim and I arrived at the hospital at 6 a.m., and at the time of this writing, Kim has barely dilated further. The doctors have given her one more dose of cyotec (which will max her daily dosage out) and are hoping that’ll do the trick. Otherwise, we’ll have to try to stay comfortable through the night and give it another go tomorrow morning. One unforeseen blessing for Kim is the offering of morphine — something not available to mothers delivering live babies. This has helped ease the pain of 12 hours of contractions.

We can’t thank you enough for all of your encouragement and support. Kim reads every comment, sees every like, and praises the Lord for her dear friends — some known, some unknown. You’ll likely never know the extent of your encouragement to her soul, and the strength that it gives her. So from the bottom of her husband’s heart: Thank you.

CCR

Peace.

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Kyle Nathaniel Rackley: born into heaven on 12/17/2012 and into our arms (hopefully) tomorrow.

It’s what our sweet Kyle, “Gift from God”, has now.

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It’s what we have been graciously given.

Then it was time to test out the heartbeat. It worked perfectly. For ten glorious seconds, she could hear her brother's heartbeat. Anytime she wants.

Even with the delivery we’re facing in the morning.

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And it’s what we’re so very thankful for now.

Celebrating Week 31.

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Celebrating Week 31.

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I had such a different post planned for today. But just as I was thinking I could get comfortable for the next few weeks, my faith and heart are being shaken again.

How far along? 31 weeks, 4 days.

Total weight gain/loss: + 26 lbs
Maternity clothes? I bought a new sweater this week. But I’ll admit, I haven’t taken the tags off.
Sleep: MUCH better. I’m so thankful for antibiotics.
Best moment this week: Swallowing with no pain. And seeing my sister who drove up from Georgia just to hang out for a weekend. And Chloe’s Christmas recital. And seeing the Keith and Kristyn Getty concert – it was just as powerful and worshipful as last year. And just what Chris and I needed.

Movement: Not in the last 24 hours. I’m extremely nervous about this honestly.

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Food cravings: Not really.

Anything making you queasy or sick: Nope. I’m definitely feeling much much better. Thanks to all the friends and family who generously and graciously helped out so much.

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Have you started to show yet: Yep – but I’m kinda glad I’m still small enough that strangers aren’t always asking questions.

Gender Predictions: Man Child.

Labor Signs: Nope.
Belly Button in or out? IN
Wedding rings on or off? Still on the “big” hand.
Happy or Moody most of the time: Nervous.
Weekly Wisdom: Grieving parents couldn’t care less about gun rights and abortion stats.

Milestones: 1 pound, 5 ounces. Same as last week.

Exercise: Nope, but I’m not really on bedrest anymore from being sick. I’m so thankful for healing!

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Weekly Prayer Request: The last time I saw Kyle was a few days ago. My favorite ultrasound technician girls (J & V! :), were not available. So I had another one I’ve only seen a couple of times. As nice as she was, I was only given about 4 minutes or so to see Kyle. And since I only saw his face for a few brief seconds (the other minutes were spent on his heart and the placenta/umbilical cord blood flow), no photos. (All of these photos are from previous ultrasounds.) In her defense, I think they were really busy that day. I don’t think she knew my full situation. And I think I’ve been royally blessed spoiled with my hour+ scans every week with J and V, along with the 3D images that J manages to make look like a professionally photoshopped photo that’s worthy of the latest baby magazine!

They also seem to have a hard time getting a measurement on Kyle. I can’t blame them, though – the normal markers they use to determine their best estimate of a baby’s weight and size are definitely either nonexistent in our baby or they’re in a strange place. Basically this amounts to our recording the same measurement that we had last week.

So, while I’m trying not to put too much stock in their measurement – my doctor did. So, this means that in nine days, no measurable growth was recorded. His heart rate being in the 140′s was good. We didn’t get any ideas at all of his movement – just because of the length of the ultrasound. But the lack of growth was gravely concerning to my doctor. To the point that he put me on high alert for preeclampsia setting in.

While all of the preeclampsia signs seem to be nonexistent at this point, I haven’t felt Kyle move in almost 24 hours now. And I’m struggling.

Thinking that perhaps that one quick moment that I saw his face Thursday was indeed my last. That those 2.5 seconds I heard his heartbeat were the last sounds I’ll hear from him. That perhaps he won’t have his first Christmas after all.

I’m thinking that while I have sincerely appreciated every moment of life we’ve been given from God, I’m just not ready for it to be done yet.

You hear, that, little guy?

I’m not ready. Sure the plans are in place now. The hospitals are informed. The doctors are ready. (Even though this week, my delivering doctor is actually in NYC.) Your basket of gifts is packed and ready. Your ornament is on the tree.

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Your Christmas gifts have been picked out. I guess I can show them a little early.

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It was the highlight of our week a few weeks back. After our advent meditating that night, we spent an hour or so picking out a gift for you. Well, for some other kids. Other kids who won’t have the blessings that you have. And you’re not even here yet. They are. And they’re healthy. Until they drink the only water available to them. Or until they catch malaria because they don’t have mosquito nets. Or until they are born and their mothers don’t know how to take care of them. Because their own mothers could barely keep them alive when they were growing up. And while we can’t fix you, we can help them.

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So, partnering with Compassion International, we picked out a few gifts. For you. And for them.

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Kami just wanted to give them food. So, beans and rice it is. For a malnourished child.

Then she decided to go ahead and make them a meal.

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Chloe did not surprise and picked out a playground. She wanted the boys and girls to have a playground like she has at all her parks around town. She saw the kids in Uganda and how much they loved theirs.

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One day, I hope to travel on a Compassion International trip to personally help some of these expecting mothers. To touch their sweet babies and to give them the few things that could help save their baby’s life. Some education about nutrition, some food, some love. I can’t save you. But I can help save them.

Without you, I wouldn’t have this intense desire to save a baby’s life.

Maybe because of you, one day, I can.

I love you sweet boy. And while I hope I’ll have a few more letters to write to you publicly like this, I’m aware it could be one of the last.

I’ll see you tomorrow. Until then, know that I love you, and I always will.

XOXO,

Mom