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For the last several months I have been wearing a very special necklace that I picked out from JewelryKeepsakes.com.

I am not much of a jewelry person, so when I do wear something it is usually pretty special to me.

This particular necklace can also hold a small amount of personal remains of a loved one.

I have seen these before and honestly wasn’t sure how I felt about it.  But now that I have one I am very glad I own it.  It is my preferred piece of jewelry–It is stylish, well made, and nobody can tell what it holds inside.  Basically, it simply looks like a very pretty piece of jewelry.  Nobody knows it holds a small part of my son’s remains unless I tell them…and I don’t offer that information.
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The necklace came with a small funnel and toothpick to help the flow of ashes into the small opening.  I had no real issue with the process of filling the necklace.  If a larger piece of remain did not fit through the funnel I was able to push it out and try a different portion of ashes. The toothpick wasn’t extremely strong, though, and it did break.  That was the only issue I had with filling the necklace with some of Dekar’s remains.

The opening on the top of the necklace is closed with a little screw.  This shut tight since I was careful to not overfill.  Originally I did not use the adhesive product that was sent with the necklace. It seemed to me the screw was secure so I did not think it needed the extra adhesive. However, after wearing the necklace almost daily for a few weeks I found myself checking the necklace regularly, making sure the pendant was still in place!  I decided to buy some strong adhesive and securing the screw permanently. Once I secured the screw with some adhesive I feel more peaceful, knowing the pendant cannot accidentally come loose.

The chain itself is something I need to have fixed.  The clasp is very difficult to attach to the other end as the opening is quite small. I have contacted the company and was assured this can be fixed/replaced.  I just haven’t done it yet due to the craziness of life lately.

I really love this necklace and am so glad to own it. Even if I didn’t have some of Dekar’s remains in the necklace I believe it would be a favorite necklace because of the special picture of a mother cradling her child’s head.
As far as the service itself from JewelryKeepsakes.com, I couldn’t be more pleased.  The shipping was prompt and the communication was excellent.
(ETA after posting:  I just want to say that when I worked on this post it looked perfect as far as spacing, formatting, etc.  But once I published it the “perfect” look disappeared!  I don’t have the time or talent to figure out how to make my son’s memory blog look excellent all the time….but hopefully those who come here look beyond all of that stuff.  I just wanted to vent a bit because I find this VERY frustrating!) 
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October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day.

Today we remember the babies who were born asleep,

the babies whom we carried but never met,

the babies we have held but could not take home,

and the babies who made it home, but didn’t stay.

I will have a whole new family to join up in heaven!–Dekar and six (known) miscarried babies.

A candle will be lit at 7 pm in honor of them and all babies gone too soon.

Click on the picture to see Dekar's memorial.
Click on the picture to see Dekar’s memorial.

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“Waiting for Dekar to be born, in the O.R., Dr. Mann, Sue, and I were aware that he had Trisomy 18 and a hypoplastic left heart ventricle.  We knew this meant that he would probably not survive for very long, or possibly not even be born alive.  His parents, Marge and Cortney, had known for some time about Dekar’s condition, and had come up with a very carefully thought-out birth plan.  Our priority as the health care team was, upon delivery, to take care of Dekar’s immediate needs as quickly as possible so that Cortney and Marge could hold him and spend as much time with him as possible..  We all watched as Dr. Jeakle lifted Dekar out of Marge’s womb and cut the cord.  We listened for that first cry, which didn’t come.  Dr. Jeakle brought him to the warming island–he was so blue and barely breathing.  But I remember noticing how sweet he looked–tiny, with lots of dark hair. 

Many thoughts raced through my mind as I dried him off—He’s so tiny–He looks so perfect–PLEASE BREATHE.  Dr. Mann listened to his heart beat.  He tapped the heart rate out–at first around 100, but very quickly dropping to 70’s, then 60’s.  Dr Mann asked me to give him some positive pressure ventilation.  I gave him several breaths, while Dr. Mann continued to listen to his heart and tap out the rate, which continued to drop into the 50’s. 

At this point, Sue, Dr. Mann, and I all thought that Dekar was not going to make it.  So we quickly wrapped him up and took him over to meet his parents.    When Cortney held him and Marge started talking to him, is my first recollection of hearing him cry.  This is when it seemed to us that he started trying–fighting–once he was near Marge and Cortney.  We could see him become more vigorous with his parents.

At this point, Sue, Dr. Mann, and I felt conflicted.  Dekar probably could have stood to be suctioned, but his heart rate was still very low, and we were reluctant to take him away from his parents.  We were still thinking that it didn’t look like he would survive.  At that time, though, Marge thankfully asked if we thought he should be suctioned.  We quickly took him to the island, suctioned him, and listened to his heart rate, which was actually starting to rise.  He returned to his parents, where he continued to have more effective breathing efforts, and a little stronger cry.  By this time Dr. Mann got a heart rate between 130’s and 150’s, but Dekar’s color was still pretty blue.  We were able to give Dekar some supplemental oxygen by mask while he remained snuggled with Marge and Cortney during the completion of the surgery.  His color did improve, and his heart rate stayed in the 130’s to 140’s.  Dr. Mann, Sue, and I were becoming cautiously optimistic that this little guy would get to meet his siblings.

Once Marge’s surgery was completed, every one returned to her room.  Dekar was carried by Cortney.  He appeared at that point to be holding his own, without the supplemental oxygen. 

It was a real privilege and honor to be present while Dekar got to meet all his siblings.  He truly seemed to respond and be aware–there was so much love in the room for that little baby!  After a couple of hours, with Dekar continuing to hold his own, I was given the opportunity to weigh, measure, and bathe him.  His sister, Rachel was right by my side, watching everything I did.. 

I will always be grateful for the chance to meet Dekar and your whole family–and to be able to share in this special, yet difficult time in your lives. 

May God bless you all. 

Kathy D. RN”

For quite a while I have been looking for a Christmas ornament that really reminded me of Dekar.  Today, I found it.  I’ve been having some rough days and finding an ornament in memory of Dekar helped to lighten my mood and make my soul smile.  It isn’t really an “ornament”, but that’s okay. 

Here it is:

hope1

Although I miss Dekar like crazy I have the promise that I will see him again; I have HOPE because of Christ.  A little boy, joyfully displaying a HOPE balloon caught my attention, and I knew it was meant for me. 

“Hope is symbolized in Christian iconography by an anchor.  And what does an anchor do?  It keeps the ship on course when wind and waves rage against it.  But the anchor of hope is sunk in heaven, not on earth.”

~~Gregory Floyd,  A Grief Unveiled

(The above figurine can be found hereWillow Tree® by Susan Lordi –“Hope”, stock #26163)

After the diagnosis of Trisomy 18 and hypoplastic left heart, my head swirled.  I kept praying that God would heal Dekar.  But having experienced a child that went through cancer**, I knew full well that God sometimes has other plans and allows us to go through very difficult situations.  So, as I prayed for Dekar’s complete healing, I also prayed for guidance and direction to plan for the worst case scenario.   I started scribbling notes on what I should look into.  Below are items I researched and discussed, along with things I wish I had done or questions I wish I had asked.  I am also linking to the Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep forum where parents weigh in on this matter in more depth.

These are items that were on my mind at the time (or things I wished I would have done.)  The Birth Plan is the outcome of researching most of the items below. (This page will be updated as time goes on and my memory is refreshed.) Last updated June 18, 2009.

MY CARE:

  • What would be best for me?  Natural delivery or c-section?
  • If I chose c-section, what pain medication would allow me to be as alert as possible after Dekar’s arrival?  (Discuss with ob nurse and doctor.)  What pain medication will allow me to be the most mobile?
  • If I go into labor naturally, do I want pain medication?

DEKAR’S CARE:

  • What will give me the best chance of seeing Dekar alive–natural delivery or c-section?
  • If Dekar is able to eat, will he be able to breastfeed?  If not, what other options are available?  Will a nurse be able to teach me to tube feed him?  What is the hospital equipped for?
  • Can he have surgery to fix his heart? What outcome could I expect?

IF HE IS ABLE TO COME HOME:

  • Contact local hospice and talk to them.  What do I need to know?

IF DEKAR DIES:

  • How long can I hold him after his death? Does the hospital have a policy for deciding this time frame?
  • Does the funeral home have a time frame for picking him up?
  • When do I get his clothes returned from funeral home?  Will they be washed when they are returned? (We chose cremation, so his clothes were returned to us.  I suggest removing the clothes and reclothing at the hospital directly before sending the baby to funeral home.  Dekar’s clothes were returned smelling of the funeral home, and that made me sad.)
  • Cremation or burial?
  • What funeral home?  (Don’t assume the local one in town will be the best to serve your needs.  Meet with the funeral director personally.  Choose your funeral home as carefully as you would pick your doctor.)
  • Will you be able to view your child again if you choose cremation?  In other words, once the funeral home has him, is that the last time you be able to hold his earthly body?  Some funeral homes allow another viewing before the child is taken for the cremation, some don’t. 
  • If I choose cremation, how do we receive the ashes of our child? 

OTHER STUFF:

  • Can we camcorder the delivery in the operating room (c-section)? 
  • Pictures—have a couple cameras to use, along with plenty of batteries.  Buy extra disposables, just in case.
  • Is there a Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep photographer available?
  • Do I need to supply the material for the casting of his feet and hands?  (Kits available at Michael’s.  Buy a few since they don’t always turn out perfectly.  I did one of each hand and feet.)
  • What does hospital provide as far as making memories?
  • Finalize a birth plan.  Make several copies.  Have doctor read it at each visit as it is updated.
  • Make sure staff  knows how to spell and pronounce Dekar’s name.
  • Take a special blanket to hold Dekar in.

Even now, I still feel I covered everything as well as I could–however, I admit I have some regrets.  I don’t dwell on them.  I don’t beat myself up for them.  If they pop into my mind, I think about them, deal with the emotions that are tagged to them, and thank God that I really did do as well as I could at the time, given the circumstance.  If I let these regrets overtake me I would be miserable and bitterness would rule. I have to give myself grace.  Besides the hard diagnosis, I had a c-section and on pain control.  My thought process was not as sharp as it is on a “normal” day.  I was tired and trying to make the most of the whole situation.  Sigh.  All that said, here are my…..

THINGS I WISH I COULD GO BACK AND CHANGE:

  • Have an extra outfit to change Dekar into before he was taken off to funeral home.  When I got Dekar’s clothes back they didn’t smell like him any more–they had taken on the funeral home smell.  That made me sad.
  • I wish I had spent the whole night holding Dekar after his death–allowing the nurse to cool the baby at intervals as needed. 
  • I wish I had changed at least one of his diapers.
  • Clarify what “standard suctioning” is so that I knew we were on the same page with that instead of assuming we were.
  • Not allow the dr. to go do an exam on Dekar.  Looking back, there was simply no need for it. 
  • I wish I had taken off the hat that the nurse put on him and replaced it with the one I brought right away. 
  • I wish I had been prepared to know how Dekar’s ashes would be delivered.  Because we didn’t purchase an urn right away,  we received his remains in a thick plastic bag which was in a cardboard box.  I just wish I had known that beforehand.  I would have been more proactive about getting a permanent “resting place” for Dekar.

**My oldest son is almost sixteen years old and a cancer survivor.  He had hepatoblastoma with metastasis to the lungs.

Another version of the slideshow is here.  (You may need to download and/or accept ActiveX.)  It is the original and much cleaner/sharper looking. 

Thank you Danielle Felton  and Christine Barrack for giving of your time and talent.  Your sensitivity, kindness, and compassion will never be forgotten.

 

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