Sunday, December 27, 2009

Remembering and Celebrating

Read this on the mooney's blog, and had to "borrow" it, as it really does reflect our hearts as well.

"This year we remember the One
sent to earth as a child as we ourselves:
Remember one. Enjoy one. Anticipate one."

 Christina (with baby #3 - Elizabeth Hope in tummy),
Wrigley, Travis - 2.5years old, Mitch

Sunday, November 29, 2009


"The experience of loss does not have to be the defining moment of our lives. Instead, the defining moment can be our response to the loss. It is not what happens to us that matters so much as what happens in us. It's about the grace that can transform us in the midst of sorrow. and joy not after the darkness, but even in the midst of it."

I read this late last night as i browsed some blogs and sites on mothers of infant loss.  This was prob. on the book jacket of some grief book, forgive me for not knowing exactly which one.  but this spoke directly to my heart and convicted me to the point that i felt i must post it.  I had a friend tell me back in august that no one thing should define us, responding to me feeling like all i was in that moment was a mom of loss.  That first year of loss was defining.  It was/is a process and there were days i felt like i couldn't burden one more person with my grief. And then there were days where i felt a great witness, for His glory, as i celebrated the life God let me carry.  Then i read this quote and it brought it all home for me....

The experience of the loss isn't what defined me/us.  It happened to us..and it's the beginning of a new journey...but it's how I'm living her life and death now.  And how I'm responding to it.  That could mean that I live it with joy even in the darkness, or it's in the moments where we really struggle to see the light.  Either way, if we LET Him, His grace WILL transform us.  We have a free will in all of this.  We have to decide to glorify God even in the darkness.  We don't go to church for ourselves. We go to church to show our God how grateful we are that HE IS GOD.  full stop.  For me, it's about how grateful i am that i am NOT God.  I am able to surrender this pain at the foot of His cross, knowing that i place it in very capable hands.  God continues to show me over and over again that He's got my back.  It may not be in my time line.  And in certain situations where i long for answers, it may not even be in this LIFE time..but I will know as i am known.  and that's enough for me.

About a week ago, we had a playdate at a friend's house.  This friend brought me into their already existing circle of friends/playgroup of boys and they all welcomed me, warts and all i always say.  With our first year of loss finally behind us, i felt more like my old self and more like the friend i wanted to be to others.  (in that first year,i felt like i couldn't be anything but someone who sucked all the air out of a room when i was sad or needed to cry. I felt like i COULDN'T be a friend.)  but they kept me around anyways.  At the playdate, we took a picture of all the kiddos.  and each one was with their little brother or sister (we've all since had 2 babies, which is totally awesome! and two of us are cooking our 3rd).  When the picture was emailed around later that day, my first thought was how fun it was to see each of them growing into the little men (and woman) they will become.  Then i saw that travis was sitting without his little sister.  And just that fact that it wasn't my FIRST thought is progress in itself.  As i let it sink it that it was ok to notice it, and that it was ok to mention it to close family, i really just asked God to bring His peace into my heart because He was going to fill that space of missing.  He would have to be ENOUGH for me until i get to see her again. 

The next morning, I received two gifts from Him, reminding me and in a way, rewarding me for trusting in Him and letting Him be enough.  (it's something i've struggled with all my spiritual life)  The first gift came from THIS BLOG, Jamie - mom to Asher and my boy Jude + #3.  She took the time to recognize that travis is a big brother too, even tho Cana was not pictured.  This small gift of remembering our girl was a HUGE offering to me.  And in that moment, i saw God use her to remind me that what matters to me matters to Him.  A few moments later, an email popped in from Patsi/Bethany and it said "So very cute of all the boys, but so sad that Cana is not there with Travis...."  and again, God is telling me He will put it on the hearts of those who love me and He will use them to remind me over and over again that He is near.  I am just so grateful to those who took me in, while in the midst of the grief, and have walked with me as i journey out of the darkness, learning to walk in the joy and celebration of life again.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

An email Prayer Request

Fr. David Noble (LEFT-glasses) and Fr. Bruce Noble (RIGHT)

Hello friends and family
i call on you once again to join me in prayer for Fr. David Noble and brother Bruce (see email below).  Fr. David, if you remember from our journey with Cana, was the priest on hand for her baptism last Oct. 8 at Texas Children's.  We had never met, and when i told him our daughter's name, he stopped in his tracks, then sharing that he had been very involved in marriage encounter and that the sat. night experience during the weekend retreats are called "Cana."  He then stayed 4 hours past his schedule to baptize her and then sat with us in the cafeteria and prayed with us and over us, sharing in our story and even sharing a bit about theology of the body.  It was just as God had ordained so now i ask you all, as I ask our daughter to intercede for God's perfect will to be done, ultimately healing Fr. David in whichever way God plans.  For strength and for beauty in the suffering to be seen as a witness to all.

peace of Christ,

Dear All,
You may not be aware but Fr. Bruce Noble recently attended a Marriage Encounter weekend. He and his identical twin, Fr. David Noble, were Marriage Encounter priest years ago and presented over 1000 weekends on 5 continents! Fr. Bruce has recently discerned to become a presenting priest again and just attended his Deeper weekend.
Much to our shock and sadness, his brother, Fr. David very recently was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer with colon & kidney involvement. He is slated to go to MD Anderson tomorrow to start therapy. After the Deeper Weekend, a week ago, both Fr. Bruce & David flew to Tampa for a retreat /conference in regard to the Anglican entrance into the Catholic church. While there, David got ill and was taken to the hospital where they performed emergency colon surgery. He now has an ostomy bag. Everything is happening very fast and they are greatly in need of prayer. They are still in Tampa and are hoping to get home today or tomorrow and go straight to MDA. Fr. Bruce sounded upbeat this morning when I talked to him.
Our hearts and prayers go out to Fr. David and Fr. Bruce, who have a very special relationship, living and working together, serving the God's people in marriage and hospital ministries all their lives. Let us pray that God may, in His great mercy and love, heal Fr. David.
Storm the heavens with prayer!
Please pass this to all your parish prayer groups and all you know.

Monday, November 16, 2009

I promise, I'm still here.  Just to give you the quick run down of the latest happenings:

•   Halloween was fun!  Here's our lil spider man.  He also got a haircut that day, his first professional faux and let me just say, he rocked it out!  He was so impressed with himself, first admiring the do' and then...almost holding back the look of "dang! I look goood!"  It was a pretty hilarious sight.

•   We are 16 weeks (+ a few) along with our #3 and we'll find out what we're having on Dec. 2!  So excited!  A bit to share on how the last ultrasound went but more how i felt during it. Baby is healthy and super active.  Every once in a while, i think i feel a flutter.  I just have to wait to see if it's just gas. :)

•  Travis and I enjoy our time together a little bit more now that the first trimester is over.  I have my energy back and we take more walks.  Of course, the 70 degree weather helps a bit.  We talk a lot more and it's a joy to see him "work it out" as he forms the sentences and chooses just the right words.

•  I am preparing for CRAFT SHOW #2, St. Anthony of Padua in the woodlands, tx, DEC. 4/5, 09. I am uber pumped and as i fill orders (thank you Lord for your provision in orders and in this gift), i am trying to also build up more inventory for the show.  Mostly, i'm excited to be in the woodlands and at one of my home parishes, as this is where Mitch and I got married and where i met my dear friends Courtney and Cameron.  Looking forward to lots of familiar faces.  And i'd love to see a few new faces too!  (i.e. buy! buy! buy!)

•  Mitch and I are enjoying the little boy we are watching grow up and we anticipate with little anxiety the day travis will meet his new little.  Because travis was so young when his little sister Cana was born, he really won't have the memory of her in my belly or out.  But with this new life, i love that he is so involved and questioning and concerned and thinking of new things to ask:

"is there a baby in there?
"baby not ready yet. too small. 
baby needs to grow and grow and grow."
"where's yer belly button?  that's how baby eats."
"Is there a lot of water in there?"
"Can i take the baby to the park for a walk?  On the slide?  
I'll share my toys."
" sleeping."

And my personal favorite:
"mommy needs rest."

Monday, October 26, 2009

As time goes by...

As time goes by, i find that i've thought more and more about the days after Cana's bday and resurrection day.  What helped to focus so much on that time was my dear friend Nikki was sharing her journey as they prepared for and gave birth to their baby girl Johanna.  Sweet girl lived for 63 minutes and i'm humbled to be walking with them as they journey forward in grief and celebration, sorrow and joy.  I found my heart longs to be received as i reach out to walk with others on the same road we are on.  It offers healing to not only my heart but theirs, i pray.  It's my joy to carry the cross as others have shown us and walked with us.  And it gives me comfort in my own pain, to know God can use us even in our brokenness,..if we LET Him.  And that is when the joy returns.  What a God we serve that gives us a taste of His grace and glory as we encourage the body of Christ, even when it's not so easy.  It's never easy to approach suffering.  But the gifts He gives us..the strength in the's all Him.  I'm so proud of this family.  Something i feel we need to hear often during this time.  To give our bodies so completely to the Lord, and to have the life that grew within have to hand that life back to the Lord, as He has asked...may seem impossible.  But God makes all things new!  And we get to witness that in faith...our girls have been made new.  Nikki, i am so proud of you.  I am so humbled to call you friend.  I hope you can heal as we walk together....United in Christ.

Saturday, October 10, 2009


The past few days have been filled with more grace than I could have imagined.  And while it's true what they say, the lead up and anticipation of the 1 year anniversary of the death of your child is worse than the day/s itself....i can only imagine how much harder these past few days would have been without all your prayers.  We truly felt covered by all of you.  I personally feel DIFFERENT today.  I actually felt different as we drove away from the gravesite.  It was like  "ok. we got thru that year.  It's time to look ahead now."  That one year anniversary was just a huge black cloud..a black hole, if you will, which seemed to just suck the life and joy out of my days.  I really do FEEL like i can walk a little lighter.  I thank you all for carrying this burden and sorrow these last few days.  I felt every single prayer, and every offering.  I know the body of Christ spent some time at the gates of Heaven for us this week.

Oct. 8 - we went to The Aquarium Restaurant for lunch.

 After lunch, we picked up cupcakes for cana's bday.  And at 432pm, we sang happy birthday and let travis blow out the candle.

 For dinner, we ordered Italiano's and shared some time with family at home.  Elizabeth included, of course.  Cause she's family.

Oct. 9 - I slept in, then mitch took a nap.  We all woke up late from naps to rush around trying to get out of the house in the pouring rain, to be at the gravesite around 415/430 but I decided to have some spectacular morning sickness as we were getting ready...slowed us down to make our arrival there about 5pm.  (sorry jamie!)  We picked up some flowers, brought the cupcakes, towels, and some umbrellas.  On the way there, the sun poked thru and God reminded us of His promise and covenant with a very quick and beautiful rainbow.  Ah..that's just like God to do that!  We really wanted to create the celebration mood and i think we did!  My adopted parents, Jeanne & Duane, even came out in the rain.  And, of course, Elizabeth, my crutch, was there too.  She brought Cana some daisy's.

 Then we came home and enjoyed some Arroz con Pollo, ala Grandma, and just vegged, enjoyed the time together, and honestly...felt a renewed joy...esp. since the first real cold front of the year rolled thru.  Mitch and I opened the windows, watched some "HOUSE" and shared how neat it was that God gave us some nice cool weather on her resurrection day anniversary.  He said "you know...i wait 365 days for this moment..and He gives it to us tonight."  Timing.

Today, Oct. 10, was the MEND "walk to remember."  We took travis and shared a quick walk, a really neat sharing by Nancy Guthrie, some praise and worship...and then they call your child's name/s and you are allowed to place the personalized ornament on a tree.  Then we all head out to the parking lot for the balloon release.  *we had coached travis on this all day....because he's deathly afraid of losing his "other" balloons (free balloons at the grocery store, etc) as we walk to the car, so i told him we were ALL going to let them go..up up up to Heaven, to celebrate Cana's bday.  At first, he was pretty panicked, then I think he got it, and we really enjoyed watching him experience this.  It was overwhelming to see them all.  Pink for girls, Blue for boys, and white for miscarriages.  Heartbreaking.  But so beautiful to know all our babies are dancing with Jesus.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Cana Lynn Milbrandt - the final hours

As soon as Fr. Bill Young arrived (previous pastor -St. Thomas More, current at St. Vincent De Paul - houston, tx), Mitch and I took him in to meet our girl.  Fr. Bill blessed her first.  And as we surrounded her nicu box, Fr. Bill held her feet, and studied her stats.  He asked for all the details, which we spared none and we shared why we'd called him there, since she had already been baptized.  We did as we knew to wise counsel.  We knew in our hearts what God was asking of us..but we also needed the reassurance of someone wiser than us.  I just remember Fr. Bill saying..."this is not what God wants for her life.  This is not what He wants for YOUR life.  You can let her go.  You can feel no guilt about the right thing here.  The technology is here to prolong her life, but what kind of life will that be.  no...she can go home now. "  Mitch let out a sob. I turned to him, pulled myself to his side.  It was like he had been holding his breath the whole time, and as Fr. released us from our burdens of feeling like we were giving up on her, not fighting for her hard enough, Mitch could finally breathe.  I saw the pain of what was to come as well as the relief of not having to watch her suffer any longer..all in that moment. 
*mitch's baby sister, Melissa, died on his 14th birthday, of Leukemia.  She was 12.  I know the memory of her life and the memories that he missed getting with her was wrapped up in this pain.  God gave the milbrandt family a little joy back when our first boy, Travis, was born ON Mitch's birthday, and Melissa's resurrection day, 19 years later.

We walked Fr. Bill out and met all those still waiting to say their goodbyes to us.  We hugged everyone, told them we'd update them as the night went on.  It was around 4pm, as best i can recall.  My mom, mitch and i walked down, got some chickfila, and headed to our room to talk about the plan for the coming hours.  Mitch made sure i was settled in the room and then told me he was going down to spend some time with Cana alone.  I hadn't realized it, but up until that point, mitch still hadn't had ANY time alone with his daughter.  That broke my heart.  He left me with my mom, we ate. I asked her if she could understand, we needed to do this..just mitch and I.  We didn't want other family in the room with us. We needed to let her go..together. just the two of us.  She understood completely. Said she'd had a full hour alone with her, told her goodbye.  I was grateful she was so supportive of our decision.  I called my dad, and he was getting ready to head back out to see us. I told him no.  He breathed a sigh of relief.  My dad hates funerals, and hated that we had to have the memory of letting her go and all that would mean for us...and what it would look like. but he didn't want the memory himself.  I free'd him of it.  Told him I'd call him later with updates.

Around 620, i headed down to NICU.  I walked my mom to the elevator, and walked myself, alone to do the inevitable.  I remember time slowing down. I remember all the noise evaporating.  I remember everything i saw, clearer, and at the same time, i remember nothing but the carpet beneath my feet.  Alone in the hallway, my heart spoke to God's.  I felt peace, i felt anxiety. I felt relief, i felt...fear.  I felt alone. I felt His presence.  I felt weak. I felt like i was floating the entire way there.  I felt like I had cement cinder blocks around my ankles.  I felt everything. But i felt nothing. 

"God...i do NOT want to do this. I miss the "burden" of not wanting to go work out. I miss the burden of not wanting to get up early in mornings. I missed what i thought was the hard stuff in life.  But this...this was unfathomable. To have to turn off a machine and watch my child, my baby, who not 2 days prior was safely within my belly, to watch her breathe her last breath.  How was i going to DO THIS?  I don't WANT this memory, Lord."  Never before was i more in line with Christ and His cross.  Never was it clearer to me, that i was suffering WITH Christ.  I was right in the garden.  I was sweating blood. I was begging God...if it be your will Lord, PLEASE let this cup pass before me. I CAN’T do this.....and He said "not without me, you can't."

I got to NICU, and held Mitch's hand and they began the process of moving us to the private room. it took a while, about 20 minutes.  By now, it was around 6:50pm, just before shift change.  Our nurse amber, took me to a room as they were getting Cana ready to be moved, and let me pick out a gown she could wear, that had been donated to NICU, so we could have the memory of seeing her in a dress.  So we could take pictures of her.  Also, while we were gone, they did a cast, a mold of her hands a feet.  She still had some of the white casting clay on her hands, under her nails.  They took us into the private room, and we turned off as many machines as we could without hurting her...we left her oxygen on as long as possible.  We dressed her in the dress and took pictures. I've held back on posting those...and haven't shown hardly anyone in the family because to me, the Trisomy was fully noticable and she didn't look the same as the day before.  Also, because i wasn't able to breastfeed her, the jaundice was really taking hold and she was very yellow.  I don't see much of the life in her as i'd seen previously.  So it's hard for me to look at these.  But i wanted to assure you, all the pics you see here, every pic ever taken of her, she was alive in them all.  And for that, i'm so grateful.

Amber asked us if we wanted her to stay.  We didn't want to make her..she had a family of her own.   Looking back, i wish we had let her stay.  Since we opted for comfort care, they gave her some meds, and ....this is the hardest part,....this is when we feel she really left us.  It all happened so fast.  Mitch held her first, i took some pics.  We were just talking to her, kissing her, praying the Our Father, and the Hail Mary.  We had asked them to turn off the heart monitor so we didn't have to hear it flat line.  They had it on outside the room.  Amber left, we thought.  About 5 minutes later, she came in...and said "it's happening faster than we'd imagined.  She's going...."  Mitch and I broke..."please...give her to me."  Without a flinch, she was in my arms...

"cana. we love you. we love you so much. you. are. perfect.  I'm sorry you didn't get to meet your big brother.  pray for him. pray for all of us.  You run to Jesus, baby girl. you RUN to Him.  You don't have to stay here.  We love you enough to send you home.  I'm so glad you get to go. I'm so glad you stayed with us so long.   I'm so grateful we got to meet you.  You are so beautiful.  You are so beautiful. "

I kept my fingers on her chest. I couldn't see it moving up and down, she wasn't breathing.  but i could feel her heartbeat....every so often.  After a while, she took one last gasp....and the heart beats stopped.  It was around 740pm.  A nurse came in, and apologized for interrupting.  He said he needed to check her, that they were no longer getting a heart beat on the monitor.  He put a stethescope on her and confirmed it was just more like "electrical firing" than beating.  She was gone.  He stood there for what felt like a full minute, just awkwardly waiting for...we don't know i asked him "are you calling it? i need to know the official time."  He said yes.  It was 745. 

We stayed with her for a bit.  Sometimes i wish we'd stayed longer. Sometimes i am assured we stayed just the right amount.  But we both felt holding her now was just...too hard.  She was gone.  God's mercy was present.  God gave us everything we'd asked for.  A full term pregnancy, a live and natural birth, great doctors, a baptism, wise counsel, an end to her suffering, a peace that we loved her right back to His arms.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Cana Lynn Milbrandt - Oct. 9, 2008 pt 1

I was awakened at 6:40 am to a visit from the attending OB.  You know, that fun "Oh you want to stick your hand into my uterus to make sure it's not smooshy" check up.  She comes in, rather abruptly, and as she does the vitals, she asks "is your baby in the nursery?"  "no. nicu."  She says nothing.  I have my very first experience with the "what say."  That's what i call them now.  The thought of "what do i tell her to not make her uncomfortable. what do i say right now?"  Then she says "I like your crucifix.  I thank her and then do the typical chris + 6:40 am thing.  "Are you Catholic?" I ask.  She nods.  "me too." I say.  (DUH!)  then i proceed to laugh at myself for a moment.
I fall back asleep for about and hour before breakfast comes in. I can't eat..much. We get up and slowly get ready to head down to NICU because they are doing rounds at 9 and we need to be there to hear what they are seeing, thinking, diagnosing.  I hate that i didn't sleep in NICU with her. I hate more that she didn't sleep in my bed with me.

 I remember there was this whole process of having to call first, talk to the nurse at our/her station, find out if there was any updates before we head down.  I still have the little piece of paper that mitch wrote the number down on.  It's interesting how we (humans) work.  Not having her here..means this tiny piece of paper is like gold to us.

We got down to NICU in time to see/hear the team talking about her.  About 6 interns/docs standing around her unit, speaking softly in terms we don't understand.  "mumble mumble MITRAL VALVE...mumble mumble VSD...mumble mumble TRISOMY 18."  Wait..that one we know!  We had both just been staring at our girl in her box, just feet away, but we were unable to get to her.   When we heard "looking like Trisomy 18, we'll know more in 24 hours." It was like we could each feel each others heart drop into our stomachs.  He looked into my eyes...and whispered..."wasn't expecting to hear that again." It was like we were running a marathon, and someone had put out trip wire.  We fell flat on our faces.   As soon as they dispersed, I ran to her side.  We talked for a moment, Cana and I. She was sleeping. I told her i missed her, was sorry i didn't stay with her longer in the night.  I held her hand.  Touched her feet, her head, her ears. She looked different in the morning.  As soon as they said T18, i could see it so clearly. Up until then, i just saw tiny features and crooked ears.  That was a rough moment.

We met the new nurse, Amber.

We left to get something in our stomachs, some coffee and a bagel.  We sent out a text with what we'd heard, and then offered that visitors were not welcome until further notice.  We ate outside of NICU and then headed back in.  Around the corner from NICU was the milk station. I wondered if I'd be able to pump and i wondered if I'd need to.  I had that thought 15 times in those 2 days we were there.  When we got to our girl, a Dr. Ivory and another nurse asked us to meet.  They had the results from Cana's heart echo from the night before.  We sat in a tiny office within the NICU.  Dr. Ivory started out by drawing a heart, and how it was supposed to work. I smiled. He noticed. I stopped him and pulled out the drawing/write up that Dr. Arne had given us in July at my first echo.  (I remember Dr. Ivory was very relieved.  He said later that that meeting with us could have been so much harder on HIM and he was proud of us and proud to know us and told us we were very brave and that if it was he and his wife having to go thru this, he thought they would live it the same way.  It felt so good to know the dr. who is overseeing your daughters a Christian.  We could see he was touched by our faith.  It strengthened us to know God would use us in this.)  As we looked at the paper together, Dr. Ivory confirmed everything Dr. Arne had drawn.  I had made it my mission to understand the workings of each abnormality as best i could and it seemed to help let go, to see that we'd given her every chance. There was no mention of T18 at this meeting.  The genetic testing would take awhile.

We stopped back by the computers on the way out, Dr. Ivory showed us Cana's echo, confirming what we'd seen back in July.  I asked Dr. Ivory if he knew/met the Cantrell's.  Charlie and Ali's Cate had been there just a few months before, but in the cardiac picu.  (i think.)  Dr. Ivory lit up.  He said "Cate!" I smiled.  Charlie and Ali's strength was before us as was their brokenness.  In their sacrifice and surrender, they taught us so much.  Dr. Ivory mentioned their blog, asked how they were. It was strengthening to have a connection to the Cantrell's thru Dr. Ivory. 

After this meeting, we stayed with Cana at her station in NICU.  I asked if I could hold her and Amber (our nurse) had to help because of all the stuff hooked up to our girl.  Mostly it was the line from her belly cord and the oxygen. I sat in a chair and held her for almost an hour, Mitch stood and watched as he only wanted that time to be mine.  I've never shared the video below.  it's one of my favorites, minus my singing. :)  It's the song i sing (or hum) to travis every night at bedtime.  I realized during pregnancy that when i would rock travis at night, it would probably be the only time i would have both travis and cana "on my lap" together.  So i couldn't think of anything else to do when i rocked her for the first...and last time.  Her oxygen levels would drop a lot during this time...because i would try to hold her closer or i would feel I was moving too much and the o2 would come out of her nose.  I panicked a lot, just trying to enjoy her but i was worried i was hurting her (suffocating).  She would cry out when the o2 would drop.

After that hour, we left NICU and found our friend Kelly.We took her in to meet Cana.  We didn't stay long.  During this time, I asked Mitch to text a few and let them know it was ok to come out to meet her.  Kelly came back to our room with us for a bit to rest and then my mom came out.  We filled her in and went back to NICU and we met Dr. Nelson.  He asked us to meet with him and Dr. Ivory about what our next move would be. So mom went in to see her granddaughter and we went to a meeting room outside of NICU. 
It's this meeting that i can hardly remember...i have huge holes in my story at this point.  I'll just share what i can recall.  We sat across from Dr. Ivory, Dr. Nelson and what i believe was like an HR person.  It was a big meeting table.  There was a phone, a big white dry erase board.  Not much else.  They told us their specialist was 99% sure it was T18.  But that the testing would take a few days.  There was no surgery that would save her.  They would do whatever we wanted. The technology was available to us but we already knew we wouldn't be putting her thru any.  We asked if we should wait for the genetic testing to come back before we made any decisions.  They said no.  They knew.  We asked what would happen next.  With comfort care, they said it was up to us when to turn everything off. They would give us a private room to have our time with her and I asked how long we would have with her after the machines turned off.  Dr. Nelson said prob. a few hours.  Maybe 3, but there was no way to know for sure.  I asked if she'd have any pain.  He said with comfort care, they would make sure she didn't.  (this meeting was much longer than i explain it here, but like i said, there is a lot i can't remember.)  Mitch and I asked for some time to talk about what we wanted.  They left us in the room. All i could think was "oh crap..people are coming up here to meet her.  We need OUR time with her.  We have to call everyone and tell them not to come out." I felt so bad.  We decided that whoever was there already, we would take them in to meet her...and we would call Fr. Bill Young, seeking wise counsel, to make sure we weren't giving up on her.  That just because the technology was available to us, didn't make it God's will for her, for us.  I went out to see who was there, and mitch called Fr. Bill and called those we thought may be coming out.  I walked out to see Patsi, Bethany and Derek and Elizabeth.  Patsi and Bethany are dear friends (mother/daughter), Derek is Cana's Godfather, and Elizabeth is my best friend.  My mom was still with Cana.
*mom told me later that Dr. Nelson went in, and told my mom that she must have done something right with me, because my faith was admirable.  Praise God.

We brought Patsi, Bethany, Derek and Elizabeth in to meet her and bless her if they wanted.  We explained what we would have to do.  Asked them to understand we would have to ask them to go so we could have our time with her.  Fr. Bill arrived within 20 minutes and we went in to see her. 

*i will post this today and leave the remainder of our journey WITH Cana for tomorrow..or later.  if you are still with us, thank you. I know this is a long story/read.  I'm honored if you are following along.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

I'll try..tomorrow.

Before I try to post my promised (and i'm sure much anticipated) :)Oct. 9th - Cana's Resurrection Day retelling....i just wanted to let you know
I'm doing...better.  I am still offering up my sad moments in faith and for Cana's little bro/sis in my tummy.  And for all unborn babies..and especially all moms with fatal diagnosis pregnancies. 

But today, i share that today is PRO-LIFE sunday in my faith and Oct. is Respect Life month.  I LOVE that my Cana was born in October.  I love that i have my entire faith community listening to homilies and gospel readings on how we recognize life IS life from conception to natural death.  For us, that gap was too close for comfort.  The conception to natural death for Cana was less than 10 months.  It was just 37 weeks.  But what an amazing 37 weeks.  It was hard not to think just all about her today.  And as I stood outside for just an hour at 230 this afternoon with about (wow, i'm terrible at judging crowds...and distances, just an fyi)...i'd say about 75?...well, as we stood and heard mostly honks of encouragement and just a couple reminders of the enemy, i would say i felt overjoyed to stand there, knowing what i know today..knowing i gave her every chance to live.  That she gives me my purpose to live every pregnancy just the same way. Knowing I wouldn't trade her Heaven for my missing...Knowing my merciful Lord and His hand in my life.  and on my heart. and in my sorrow. 

We are hoping to celebrate both her earthly birthday and her resurrection day differently.  We are hoping to create memories that will bring us we watch travis enJOY his little sister's first birthdays.

enduring the cross. embracing it as best i can today.  And i remember always...suffering  + obedience = glory.

Monday, September 28, 2009

hurting. angry. scared. alone. frustrated. abandoned.......faithful.

As I type all the title of this post, i feel each and every one of those words...well, ALMOST all those words.  With my entire being. My whole entire body feels the effects of being hurt, angry, scared, alone, frustrated. abandoned.  But i don't necessarily FEEL faithful.  I want to feel faithful. I just don't when i feel all those other things.  I'm begging God to show me the truth in my brokenness.  Today is a hard day.  Again.

I know being pregnant again brings not just the hormonal ride of my life, but add to it the grief and the timing of being less than 2 weeks away from the 1st year anniversary of holding our baby girl as she breathed her last..and i'm just lost in this. 

I also know that I am still responsible for my emotions and my responses to others, whether they get it or not.  I cannot expect the world to stop spinning and just run to my aid as we prepare for that 1 year mark.  But even tho i can't expect it...i want it. I want it so badly.

But while i feel all those things...while i feel so completely alone in this journey...even if its just for a day, an hour, a moment...I KNOW that God is still God. I KNOW that HIS will is perfect.   I don't even know how to pray another way now. I don't want what I want. I recognize that if I can't even figure out if what i'm feeling is rational....then how the heck can i know what is best for me.  I am trusting that all of this emotion is part of a greater good. A witness.  A willingness to be open to life.....again.  A sacrifice in giving up my body again, so that life may grow within me..and asking God to bring me healing as i surrender to His will. 

I pray that even in my pain, you will see the faithfulness of God to me.  Just because He asked me to carry a life i couldn't "keep here," doesn't mean He isn't faithful and merciful and perfect.  Even in the broken babies, God is still so good to us.

Please remember us and remember our Cana and the wedding feast she is celebrating with her bridegroom every moment of eternity....on Oct. 8/9.

John 2:11

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Cana Lynn Milbrandt : Her Birthday - Oct. 8, 2008 pt2

Mitch had traveled to NICU with Cana and the team and i stayed in the room for about an hour to recover before they moved me to my room on the mommy floor.  My dad, terri, and my little sister allissa were in the room, and my grandma and my mom stayed too.  After a few, the hospital chaplain came in.  We had requested our parish priest to come to baptize her, but he had too many meetings.  So the chaplain was requested and it was about 5 pm when he came in.  Cana was born at 432pm, i forgot to mention that!  Fr. David Noble was a twin australian priest!  He is adorable!  He had been the TCH chaplain for almost 20 years if i remember correctly.  It was so neat because Cana's godmother - my sister, was IN it made me feel better to hear that accent.  Just a nice touch, Lord.  When i told him our daughter's name, he paused..."you mean, as in the wedding at Cana?"  "yes, father."  "oh, i will never forget that.  What a beautiful name."  He explained that when he did marriage encounter weekends, the saturday night is called "Cana." It's a renewing night for the married couples of those retreats.  I have a whole talk on why we named her Cana, but it goes pretty know i'll save that for another time too.

Fr. asked me if i wanted him to wait to baptize her till i could get there..i said no. I didn't want any time wasted.  He explained that he had actually waited for us to deliver and he was suppose to leave at 4.  So it was approaching 530 and it was time.  He prayed with me, We video'd it.  For diana, my sister in australia.  He left for NICU, to find Mitch and Cana.  The rest of my family left for NICU with him and my mom and grandma stayed with me.  It felt like hours till they got me to my room.  They had to wheel me..but i could's so humbling to be wheeled around.  So after we checked into the room, the nurse there had to release me so I wasn't so patient to get her in there to have the niceties and then get me on my way!  I told my mom if she didn't wheel me any faster, i was going to jump out and wheel myself.  We were a short walkway to NICU.  about 4 minutes.

When we got there, my whole family was at Cana's side.  Along with the priest...even tho it was already 645 and he was overdue to go home.  He stayed for us.  I jumped out of the wheelchair and got to cana's side. I called her name.  She opened her eyes to the sound of my the sound of me saying her name.  (video below)  it's one of my favorite moments with her. That sounds so funny...because i didn't know how limited our moments would be at this moment in time.  I just treasure her looking up at me....

We baptized her and my whole family got to stay in the room/unit.  In NICU, it has to be so sterile, and after this moment, we were only allowed 1 visitor at a looking back, it was so kind of our nurses to allow this.  But i think they knew.

Around 745, we finished her baptism, and we were asked to leave NICU.  They had to start a line in her belly button.  Because she was so tiny (found out then that she was 4 pounds, 16" long), that it was better to keep the umbilical cord long on her belly because the line was better there, than starting her on an iv and poking at her all the time.  This was painless.  But it was a sterile procedure. we all were asked to leave.  We took it as a chance to get momma some food.  I know it seems so strange to want to eat at a time like that...but at the same time, i think human nature longs for something NORMAL because seeing your newly born baby in some sick box is just too horrible to conceive. 

After travis was born, all i wanted was a burger and fries.  I'm all about burger and fries it was.  Mitch wheeled me down to the cafe, and we grabbed a bite. It felt weird to eat.  We were waiting for our friends Courtney and Jeremy to come up to meet her.  They were the only one's we wanted that first night.   As we were finishing up, we looked over and saw Fr. David at another table.  He was eating. I felt so badly that we ran into him because he looked so tired, like he just wanted to go home.  But he was happy to see us, came over to sit with us, asked us how we came up with Cana...and prayed over us.  He was wonderful.  As he was praying over us, court and jer walked up.  I love that they came in to find us being prayed over.  Court and J are a strong Catholic couple and it's one of the things that unifies our friendship.  It's how court and i met church..serving together, in LIFETEEN.

Fr. David finally went home.  And we took court and J to meet her.  We couldn't wait to show her off.  They weren't done getting the line started in Cana so we had to wait another 45 minutes outside of NICU.  We enjoyed that time with our friends.  It was so encouraging to have them there with us.  It was around 10 pm when we were able to introduce our daughter to them.  They both got to bless her with some purified, sterile blessed water.

We spent some time kissing on her.  We found out from her night nurse Amanda, that Cana had already had her heart echo and we had to wait until morning for the doctors to look and determine what came next.  But Amanda said "but you can see that she is syndromic, right?"  it seemed a funny thing to say...all we saw was tiny tiny tiny feet, pink cheeks, black hair, and the cutest little crooked ears.  It wasn't until the morning that we heard "trisomy 18" again.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Cana Lynn Milbrandt : Her Birthday - Oct. 8, 2008.

Even tho we just found out we are expecting again, all i seem to think about is Cana.  I don't say this with any real surprise in my heart. I mean, the last life i carried was her. But it still surprises me, these highs and lows.  I still wonder how much people think about me. I still wonder if I'm walking the road the way God intended me to.  I still know that i know that i know...that i would never trade where she is for my need to hold her.  "Lord, if you were to give me the power for that one word to bring her back, i would not speak it."  (i'm paraphrasing, does that lay it all out for me!)  I am grateful for the gift of faith that God has given me..i've never struggled with knowing the Lord and knowing that I need a savior.  I often forget to thank Him for that gift, tho.  I forget that it IS easier for me than for some.  I need to remember this when I begin to question the journey of others...i need to offer the grace and compassion that God has extended to me.  Lord, help me to grow..and may I always be closer to you today than i was yesterday.

Cana was induced on Wed. Oct, 8th, 2008.  We were told to get to St. Luke's Medical Center in Houston around 530am by the hospital when we "signed up" a few days before.  We were told by the OB that was scheduled to deliver me (i had to have a new dr. for this deliver because of the conditions unknown), that i didn't have to be there till 9.  Well, we are SO not morning people so 9 it was.  More like 915 but whatevs...

We checked in and Anna, my great friend who worked in Texas Children's just a walkway connected to St.Luke's, met us at the check in counter.  She works in the PICU heart unit. We got to the room we would deliver Cana in. I was already 3.5cm dilated and fully effaced.  Same as with travis.  I was already almost 1/2 way there.  Because it had only been 15 months since i'd delivered travis, i could (and still can) remember every single detail (and contraction) of his birth.  But he was almost 9 pounds.   they told me we'd be lucky if cana was close to 5 pounds.

Around 10 am, they started my pitocin.  I remember just eating ice, listening to some old school rap on my mp3 and asking Mitch if he was texting, who he was hearing from, if our priest had called yet, had diana called yet (from australia-my sister was gone for a year doing mission work).

I found out that the OB who was going to deliver cana was NOT going to be delivering her.  I had some "new guy."  Dr. Ivey was great but i had never had a guy doc and wasn't all about sharing my "biz" with some stranger..esp. in this situation. But he was great.  A little....shall we touch with his feminine side, but just lovely.  We talked about our birth plan  - as long as we could go natural, that was what we wanted.  He said as long as Cana's heart didnt' show any distress, we could. But many many babies with heart abnormalities die in the birth canal.  We still felt this was God's mercy and if we could keep me from being cut open so that i could get to NICU fast, that was how it would go down.  Ultimately, we trusted the docs could hear God too and if they said cut, we cut.  But our prayer was to push her on out, God's way.

Around 330, dr. Ivey came in and said that he was going to break my water at 4.  I was only at 6.5 or 7 and really needed to progress.  Like clockwork, at 4, he broke it.  And water was EVERYWHERE!  Mitch jumped back, dr. ivey shouted to "get another one"..meaning that pad that is supposed to soak up....the nurse was scrambling,,i was apologizing.  I felt like i was peeing all over the place.  And as it all gushed out, i felt Cana kick me harder than ever!  Maybe it was a punch but i felt her just kind of go "what the?????!"  Dr. Ivey looks at me very sternly and says, "i'm just going to pull up a chair and do some work over here.  She is going to be here fast. "  I kind of laughed.  He was dead serious. He pulled up a chair, did some paper work...and within 20 seconds, the contractions started. I mean..i hadn't felt hardly a thing all day,..then all of a sudden, it all came flooding back to me.  Oh, yes..i REMEMBER THIS!  Craaaap!

I didnt' drop any f-bombs.  I only dropped one with travis.  :)  I was listening to Matt Maher on my mp3 player.  Your grace is enough.  As it is in Heaven.  I rejoice.
I just focused on those words...i rejoice. i rejoice. i rejoice in you. in you. in you.  I rejoice in you.

I have found that i absolutely love remembering every detail of cana's birthday and birth story. I also know that i love laughing about the little things that are completely embarassing but totally worth sharing.  See, i delivered travis in what my nurse sarah called "knee chest" position.  Don't let that fool you..i call it "ass up." I delivered travis on my hands and knees. It was awesome and i don't remember hardly any pain in that..but it was humiliating!  With Cana, i had the standard...feet in stirrups.  And i remember thinking "i don't know how to do this..." but it was actually fine.  Except for this part.....
My dr. told me to focus on my which i replied "DUH!!!"  But i hadn't been doing a very good job....and he just reminded me not to push yet.  Then mitch decided to repeat that every 5 seconds!  I told him i wasn't and as soon as the words escaped my lips, i said "oh God..i have to push RIGHT NOW."  Mitch shouted "DON'T" and dr. Ivey turned around, saw my face, and checked and said "GO!"  and i did. I pushed once...and farted.  Then, instead of just laughing or just letting it flee from my mind, not me..I decided the BEST thing to do would be to ANNOUNCE to everyone in the room (just the 2 nurses, mitch, my dr. and the nicu team) that i had indeed ...just farted.  My dr. said "GO!" and a push later, she came flying out.  The dr. had to tell me to stop pushing.

She wasn't breathing.  The plan was that i would get to hold her first.  But because she wasn't breathing on her own, they held her tiny purple body up to show me, and then snatched her to the nicu team and out the door.

Mitch and i cried. I said "i can't believe she's already out of me.  I can't believe it was so easy. I'm all done already."  Dr. Ivey sewed my one stitch, and I told Mitch i was fine, to go out to the hallway to see her and see what is happening.  It was about 20 seconds since i delivered her. I needed him to be with her.  They wheeled her in in a tiny box, hooked up to tubes and i reached in and held her hand and said hello to my cana.  She was so tiny! I couldn't really see her face.  But she knew i was there. I told her i'd see her in a few moments.  It was 2.5 hours later when i finally got to her side in NICU.

Just before they took her, mitch handed me the camera.  He told me he took video of her. 

she is just so perfect. 

Thursday, September 10, 2009

New Blog Open for Biz!

is open for business!  Took me a little while to figure out what i wanted to do as far as a site, but i think that's where i'll park it for a bit.  I have paypal set up so any orders emailed will receive a paypal email for payment so you aren't wondering how some stranger is going to take your money.

I have asked God to take this where His will's more about a hobby that we can pay bills with rather than my desire to be on the cover of TIME magazine.  It's more about God giving me something to find purpose in again, after stepping down from youth ministry for the first time in 10 years.

I am going to get back to my Cana's story this week.  I have lots to share.  And we are in countdown mode...less than a month to go till her sweet 1st birthday....and resurrection day.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Crochet Away

About a month ago, my amazing Grandma Mary (Lola) taught me how to crochet. Apparently, after years of watching her, God used my hands in such a way that I took to it very quickly. I have found that crocheting is therapy for my heart and soul. It has allowed my mind to focus so intently on the hook, yarn, pattern..that God can then work on my heart and the things i struggle with. It's also so fun to see how they turn out and pray for the little one's who will one day wear them. I don't know how far i'll take this, but we are enjoying it so far. If you are local, one of the baby consignment shops is selling them for me...i call it a 'market test' to see how they will do. At the very least, we'll make a bit to pay for christmas.

They are selling for $15. Or 2 for $25.

or if you bring me 4 orders (just tell them to reference you), i'll give you 1 free!