Shabby Blog Background

Friday, January 30, 2009

I'm Losing My Mind

OK - I told you all in my last post that I was worn out from Lily being so sick this week.

Now I think I'm just losing my mind.

Exhibit A:

Chris brought home some beautiful flowers for me. I put them in a vase. Without water. ("Oh, is that why they're drooping?")

Exhibit B:

I turned on the electric mixer to mix mashed potatoes tonight. Without boiling them first.

I will not be sad to see this week go. Thank goodness tomorrow is Saturday and Chris will be here. I think I need to sleep in and concentrate on getting my sanity back. :)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Worn Out

What a week. I haven't been this physically, emotionally and mentally exhausted since Lily was a baby and I was getting up with her every few hours during the night, while taking care of her and our 18-month-old daughter, Ann Catherine, during the day.

Lily was diagnosed with pneumonia on Monday. She was so sick and felt absolutely terrible. Thankfully, she wasn't hospitalized but she still felt so bad. It absolutely broke my heart. She would just lay in my arms without moving. She ran a fever until Tuesday night and just wanted to be held.

From Sunday morning until Tuesday night, I held Lily almost every waking moment of the day. If I wasn't holding her, she was two seconds behind me. If I walked into another room, I would hear her calling, "Mommy, where are you?"

You moms know how it is. When children are sick, they want their mommies. I love that. I love that I can help make my kids feel better. But, I hadn't realized how exhausting that constant care can be. I'm not complaining. I love, love, love being a mommy. There is nothing I would rather do. But, let's face it. It's a tough job sometimes.

Tuesday night, after I tucked in both of my girls, I walked into the great room and told Chris, "I'm going to bed." I walked straight to our bedroom, crawled into bed and went to sleep. I haven't felt that tired in a long time.

Moms specialize in "giving" to others. That's our job as mommies. We make sure everyone else's needs are met before we meet our own. By Tuesday night, I felt like I had given so much that I didn't have anything left to give. All I could do was lay down and rest. And pray.

During this time, I realized how neglected Ann Catherine was feeling. So during the moments that I wasn't caring for Lily, I went out of my way to care for Ann Catherine and make her feel special. When you have just one child, you can give him or her all of your attention. When you have two, it's so much harder. Chris came home a little early Tuesday night so I could take Ann Catherine to gymnastics. She, so badly, needed some time alone with her mommy.

Lily is feeling better now. In fact, I snapped this picture of them watching television together this morning. Her fever finally broke yesterday and she is starting to act like Lily again. And best of all, we are all starting to get sleep again. I'm so glad!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Angels on Earth

When I give my testimony, I talk about my belief in angels. I believe in the celestial beings that are around us all of the time. But, I also believe in angels on Earth. These are just ordinary people who God uses to touch us at a time when we need it most.

During our journey through Melissa's death and Ann Catherine's NICU experience, we met many of these angels on Earth. They were people who God put in our path at very specific times to get us through that tragedy.

Susan was one of those people. She was one of the charge nurses on the Labor and Delivery floor at Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children and she was there on April 15th, 2005, when I was admitted with complications that put Melissa's life at risk. It was a Friday, and the following week Susan had surgery and took 7 weeks of leave. I only met her that one day, but she did so much to put my mind at ease on what was one of the most terrifying days of my life.

Her first day back at work was June 1st, 2005. She arrived early because she had been gone for so long. As she checked the computer, she saw that Melissa was in trouble. I had a prolapsed cord and it was an emergency situation.

She ran to our room and saw that I was already surrounded by nurses. It was a chaotic scene in my room and those nurses were frantically working to prep me for surgery. Melissa was in dire straights and they knew the doctor had to deliver both of my babies immediately to give them a chance to live.

Susan calmly explained to me what was happening to Melissa. I knew it was bad, and I had known for seven weeks that there was a possibility something bad would happen, but I was still in shock. I remember I kept thinking, "I'm only 26 weeks. This is way too early." I have never been so fearful in my entire life.

As Susan explained the situation to me, I nodded my head. I knew it was bad and I felt that my world was crumbling around me.

Then, she did the most amazing thing.

She grabbed the doppler that nurses use to listen to a baby's heartbeat. She put that doppler on top of Ann Catherine and she said, "But, do you hear that Amy? That's baby 'B.' (I hadn't named my girls yet. Ann Catherine was "B" and Melissa was "A.") That's her heartbeat, Amy. She's alive and she sounds good."

Ann Catherine was alive. I could actually hear her heart beating and I knew that she was alive.

But, Susan didn't stop there. She kept that doppler on top of Ann Catherine and rode the ENTIRE way to the OR on top of me, and kept saying to me, "Do you hear that, Amy? That's baby 'B.' She sounds good."

She kept saying that to me over and over - even as I was in the OR being prepped for my emergency c-section. Because of Susan, the last thing I heard before they put me under for my surgery was Ann Catherine's heartbeat. Even though I knew Melissa was in trouble, I also knew that Ann Catherine had a good chance. It was the only shred of hope that I had.

What a gift she gave me.

I have shared that story with hundreds of people as I have told my testimony, but I had never told Susan. I sent her a thank you note after the girls were born, but I don't know that I truly conveyed what she did for me.

Until this weekend.

I was at a church retreat at Lake Guntersville State Park Friday night. I came thisclose to not going because Ann Catherine was sick. But, when Chris came home from work Friday he encouraged me to go.

I'm so glad I did.

I had just finished dinner in the restaurant at the lodge, and was chatting with my friends. All of a sudden, a lady walked up to me and said, "Amy George." I looked at her and then she said her name.

It was Susan.

We talked about my girls, and life in general. And then I told her that I was so glad to see her because I needed to tell her something.

I told her about the hope she gave me that morning. I told her about the amazing gift she gave me when she rode on top of me, allowing me to hear Ann Catherine's heartbeat. I told her how she was everything a nurse should be.

She had tears streaming down her face. I don't think she had ever realized what that meant to me. In her mind, she was just doing her job. To me, it was so much more.

As we hugged and said goodbye, she thanked me for sharing with her and said it had made "my day, my week, my year." I told her that I was so glad I could let her know and again, I thanked her for what she did for me on that terrifying morning three and a half years ago.

What if I hadn't gone Friday night? I would have missed the opportunity to see Susan and share with her. And, seriously, what are the odds that I would be at the Lake Guntersville State Park lodge on a Friday night? I know that God put that entire chain of events in motion.

She's, by far, not the only angel on Earth who ministered to us during that time. But, I think she was the only one who wasn't aware of the impact she made on our lives.

I'm so glad she knows now.

Friday, January 23, 2009

I Need a Hug!

This has been a challenging week in our household.

Lily has been especially cranky and whiney. For me, the hardest part of staying home with them is when Lily is this way. She demands to be held all of the time and can be downright ornery, as we like to say in the South. When she's in that kind of mood, she tends to be a little snappy and it just hurts Ann Catherine's feelings so bad. Ann Catherine has such a tender heart, and it just upsets her when Lily isn't nice to her.

So, you can imagine my delight today when I saw this! I was washing dishes this morning and I heard Lily say, "Hi, Sissy!" I looked and they were in the recliner and Lily had thrown her arms around Ann Catherine and was just squeezing her. They were both giggling! I grabbed my camera and snapped a picture.

What makes it even more special is that Ann Catherine is sick with a cold today, and Lily has been so good. That hug just made Ann Catherine's day!

And mine :)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Dreaded "B" Word

Ann Catherine said the "B" word. She's only three-years-old. How can she know it?

Yep, she said it all right.


We were driving down the road the other day and she said, "Mommy, Travis is my boyfriend." Now, here's the funny part: "Travis" is Travis Kauffeldt, her favorite player for the Huntsville Havoc. (Yes, I see the irony of my little girl saying a hockey player is her boyfriend :) But, at that moment, the name didn't really matter. She could have said Pope Benedict was her boyfriend for all I cared. The point was, the said the "b" word.

"Your what?" I asked. Surely I hadn't heard her right.

"My boyfriend," she said matter-of-factly.

"Ann Catherine, do you know what a boyfriend is?" I asked.

"No," she answered.

Well, thank goodness. At least she's not sure what it means yet.

I told Chris later that night. "What???" he said and looked at me like I had three heads. "There's no way," he said, just like any father who realizes his daughter is growing up. When she told him the same thing later that night, he had this look on his face like "you have got to be kidding me."

Ever since our daughters were born, we've heard it a million times: Enjoy every day because they grow up too quickly. When they are babies or toddlers and life is so crazy, you think "yeah, right."

But now I realize how true it is. I realize that Ann Catherine has moved from being a toddler to being a little girl. If I had it up to me, I would bottle this all up and keep her in this sweet stage forever.

I can't, though. Growing up is a part of life. And that precious little girl who thinks you and her daddy are the coolest people in the world soon begins to realize that other people are pretty cool, too. Even boys.

That's okay. She still says her daddy is her prince. As long as she never forgets that, Chris and I will be okay.

Monday, January 19, 2009

53,000 Reasons to Love Havoc Fans!!

Well, what can I say? Huntsville Havoc fans once again showed how huge their hearts are!

We raised more than $53,000 at Saturday night's game!! I am so humbled by this. We knew we were in a "down economy" this year and I honestly didn't think we would raise that kind of money. But, it just goes to show how Havoc fans have embraced Melissa's Fund. In just three years, this special night has raised more than $172,000. I think that's just amazing.

The jersey auction was fabulous. Chris' jersey went for $4,000! (The picture above is Chris holding his jersey at the auction.) We also auctioned off the blue and pink sticks that the players used during warm-ups. The players were so supportive of what we were doing. As I thanked them all after the game, they talked about what a great night it was and how much they enjoyed it.

For those of you who are wondering, yes, Chris made it through his shift! It was like old times watching him skate. (That's him in the middle taking the face-off.) The coolest part was when they called out his name during the starting line-up. It has been a while since I've heard the announcer bellow "Number 17, Chris George!!" Ann Catherine got to drop the puck and, this year, Lily went on the ice with us (you can't see her in the photo. She and Chris are standing behind the Havoc player).

The most touching part was when they retired Chris' jersey. When they unfurled it from the rafters with the lights out in the arena and a spotlight on the jersey, I got goosebumps. Chris, Ann Catherine, Lily and I were standing on the ice when they retired it, and I was so glad our girls got to be a part of it. And I was so glad that they got to see their daddy skate (although in typical 3-year-old fashion, Ann Catherine informed me during warm-ups that she wanted to go and get more Dippin' Dots. Needless to say, I made her wait :))

Thanks to all of you who made it such a special night for us. And a special thank you to Keith and Becky Jeffries, Kevin Walker and Ashley Balch with the Huntsville Havoc for making it happen. Chris and I are incredibly touched and humbled by how the community has continued to support Melissa's Fund. The true winners are those precious babies in our NICU who will receive more life-saving technology because of generous Huntsville Havoc fans.

What a great night it was! And what a celebration of Melissa's life. Even in her death, I can still find so many reasons to smile. Saturday night was one of the reasons why. Watching that auction, I was reminded that her life - and death - was not in vain.

One little girl who lived such a short time has accomplished so much. Thank you Havoc fans for helping us keep her legacy alive.

Friday, January 16, 2009

For Your Viewing Pleasure

NewsChannel 19 has given us some great coverage for tomorrow night's Melissa George Night at the Huntsville Havoc game!

Before I show you the videos, let me tell you the neatest thing. This year, instead of warming up with pink hockey sticks (which we auction off during the game), the Havoc decided to spray paint the sticks pink and blue. Chris told me today that each player is personally painting their own stick and adding certain designs. For instance, Travis Kauffeldt wrote "MG #17" on his in memory of Melissa. When Chris called and told me that today, I just cried. I'm telling you, those hockey players are such great guys. Tough guys with huge hearts. I just love them.

Now, onto the stories. Sports anchor John Pearson did a great feature story on Chris. It's pretty funny.

Also, Chris and I were up bright and early this morning. We joined Robert Reeves at the Von Braun Center to do some live interviews for the morning show (as in 5 a.m. early!). I'm posting three of them.

As we left our house at 4:45 a.m. it was ten degrees outside! It was warmer on the ice inside the VBC than it was outside. Crazy!

Chris and I recorded these live shots on our DVR and then watched them when we got home. For those of you who don't know TV talk, a "super" is the name they put under someone who is being interviewed. It's usually your name, and a line that explains who you are. For my super, they put "Amy George/Melissa's Mother." I was speechless when I saw that. I am always described as Ann Catherine and Lily's mother, but rarely Melissa's mother. It was just so special to me to see that on TV. Yes, I am Melissa's mother and so incredibly proud of that. They supered Chris as "Melissa's Father." It meant so much to both of us to see that on TV.

We hope you can join us tomorrow night. And don't forget, the first 1,000 fans who bring an item for the NICU will receive a Chris George bobblehead. Those items can be blankets, preemie clothes, hats, socks and disposable cameras. We hope to see you there!!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Article about Chris and Jersey Auction

Pro Hockey News wrote a great article about the Havoc jersey auction! They called Chris last night to interview him and I just wanted to share. I think Chris gave some wonderful quotes about Melissa and what the hockey community means to us. I am just so proud of him. I know that Melissa is too!

To read it, click here.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A Fraternity of Families

Chris and I went to the funeral home tonight. Remember the sweet baby boy named Reed who I recently blogged about? He passed away Sunday night. Chris and I went to his visitation so we could support Tina and Jonathan and pay our sympathies to this courageous little boy and his family.

I won't share private words we shared with his parents, but I can tell you that it was a tough night. I embraced Tina and we hugged each other and cried. I knew what she was feeling and I just hurt so badly for her. I remember that gut-wrenching pain you experience after your child dies. Only those who have lost a child can truly understand it.

Chris and I both cried as we left, and I told him that it just doesn't get any easier. When I get close to a mom in our NICU and they lose their child, it just brings back so many memories for me. It makes you realize that the pain of losing a child never truly goes away. The pain may lessen over time, but it never leaves.

A part of that makes me sad. There is this really hard and sad part of my life that I realize will be with me as long as I live. But, what I have to remember is that the good times will always outweigh the bad. God has blessed my family beyond measure. The joy that Chris, Ann Catherine and Lily Baker bring into my life is more than I could have ever hoped for. I am so grateful to God for putting them in my life.

I often say that those of us who have lost children are part of a fraternity. It's a fraternity that we never would have chosen to join, but we are members none the less. It's a tightly-knit brotherhood and sisterhood and we share a bond that no one else can understand.

Please keep Tina and Jonathan in your prayers as they prepare to do what no one should have to do: bury their child. They have an amazing faith, but what lies ahead will still be hard. Please say a prayer for them.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Chris is Coming Out of Retirement!

Sort of.

As many of you know, my husband, Chris, played hockey for the Huntsville Channelcats from 1996-2001. In fact, that's how we met! Once he retired, the Channelcats also retired his jersey and it hangs in the VBC Arena today.

This Saturday night, Chris is coming out of retirement - briefly.

Let me explain. This Saturday is Melissa George Night at the Huntsville Havoc game. The Havoc have done this the past two years. In 2007, the players wore pink jerseys and raised $54,000 for the Melissa George Neonatal Memorial Fund. In fact, here's a picture of Chris and Lily from the first auction. I loved those pink jerseys! Lily was just two months old when we had this auction. My how time flies!

Last year, they wore baby blue jerseys and raised $65,000. Ann Catherine got to drop the puck with Chris and could not have been happier! As you can imagine, it's such a special night for our family.

This year, they are wearing pink and blue striped jerseys (they look fabulous!!) and will, once again, auction those jerseys off after the game to raise money for Melissa's Fund.

Now, back to Chris skating. The Havoc owner, Keith Jeffries, came up with the idea for Chris to skate a shift at the beginning of the game. Then, they'll be able to also retire his jersey as a Havoc player.

Keith told me first and asked me to talk to Chris about it. When I told Chris, he said "What?" and just looked at me like I was crazy. After he thought about it for a while, he said, "I would never do this if it weren't for Melissa's Fund."

So, he agreed to do it. He has been practicing skating. We joke that we wish we had learned about this last year so he could have started working out :) It's only one shift, but still, it's been a while!

So, if you can, come out to the Havoc game at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday. To learn more about the game or to purchase tickets, click here.

If you don't have hundreds of dollars to spend bidding on a jersey, there's another way you can help. The first 1,000 fans who bring a NEW item for the NICU (blankets, premature clothing, socks, hats, disposable camera) will get a bobblehead of Chris. Here's a picture.

It's pretty funny, but strangely enough, it does kind of look like him. Ann Catherine saw it for the first time and immediately said, "Daddy, that's you!"

If you have kids, bring them to the game, too! My girls absolutely LOVE going to the Havoc games. So, come out and have a great time with your family. More than all of the fun, you'll know you are helping God's tiniest miracles.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Dance With Me

A couple of months ago, I got a call from one of Ann Catherine's NICU nurses. She asked me if I would contact a mother in our NICU whose baby was born at 23 weeks gestation.

I called her and we had a great conversation. I shared our story with her and her faith in God was immediately evident. We have stayed in touch and we have corresponded through her Caring Bridge web page.

Her posts are so amazing - so full of faith and hope. When your child is sick, it's easy to lose faith and question why God is allowing this to happen. But, Tina's faith has been so steadfast and she has been an incredible inspiration to me. One of her recent posts really made me think.

Her son Reed had had a tough day in the NICU. Tina was basically saying that if you have healthy children, you should be so grateful. She went on to say that if they are crying in the middle of the night, be so grateful.

Later that night, I was sitting on the sofa relaxing. The girls and I had had a crazy day and I just wanted to rest. They were both playing and wearing dress-up clothes.

Ann Catherine walked to the sofa, tugged at my hand and said, "Dance with me, Mommy."

My first thought was, "Honey, Mommy is so tired. Please just let me rest."

Then I thought of Tina's post on her Caring Bridge site and I thought of how she would give anything to be able to hold her son, Reed, and dance.

"Okay, baby, I'll dance with you," I said. And then Lily, dressed in her Cinderella gown, walked over to Chris, grabbed his hand and said, "Get up, Daddy."

And there we were, the four of us dancing in our living room. I am so thankful I didn't let that moment - that opportunity - pass by.

Life is so crazy and I am so guilty of telling my kids, "In just a minute," when they ask me to play or read a book to them. Aren't we all? But, Tina's post reminded me that life is so short and uncertain.

What really matters? Resting on the sofa? Or dancing with your child?

I challenge you all to dance instead. I know life is hurried and crazy, and with kids it's just downright tiring sometimes.

But, remember: there are so many mommies and daddies in hospitals right now. They are sitting next to their child's bedside and wishing they could dance with them. Or just simply hold them.

May we all, myself included, remember to cherish the special moments we have with our children. And may we always remember what a gift they truly are.

On that note, please say a prayer for Reed - and for all of the babies who are in our NICU. Each situation is unique and they all could use your prayers.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Being "Held"

I blog quite often about the death of my daughter, Melissa.

I can't help it. It is THE defining moment in my life. I often say, there are two Amys. There's the Amy before June 1st, 2005 - the day she died. And there is the Amy after that day.

Melissa's death changed me completely. It made me who I am today. It changed my perspective on life, and it strengthened my relationship with God. Her death made me realize what's truly important in life. It made me realize that a "bad day" is not spilling coffee on your outfit, running late for a meeting or getting stuck in traffic.

In church Sunday, we were singing a song and as we sang our music minister challenged us to think of a time when God had saved us from despair or pain and how he had turned it around.

I immediately thought of Melissa and I can't even put into words what I felt inside of me. I thought of how He saved us after she died.

Let me be honest with you. When my daughter died, I felt a pain like I had never felt before. The best way I know to describe it is just this giant, empty void. One of my friends came to see me after she died and she told me later that I just looked dead inside. My eyes were completely lifeless. I felt as if my joy had been stolen. I remember actually thinking that I didn't know if I would ever smile or laugh again. I remember laying in bed and wondering how in the world I was going to put one foot in front of the other. It was absolutely gut-wrenching.

I often think of the song "Held" by Natalie Grant. The beginning of the song is about a child dying and it is so hard for me to hear sometimes. But, the song goes on to say,

This is what it means to be held
How it feels, when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive
This is what it is to be loved and to know
That the promise was when everything fell
We'd be held

I love that part that says "and you survive." I did survive the worst thing that could ever happen to a mother. Some people go through the death of a child and don't "survive." By survive, I don't mean live. Yes, they may continue to live. But they have no joy. Their marriage fails and they lose friendships because they can't come out of their grief. I am so grateful that Chris and I "survived."

I didn't survive it because Amy is this wonderful person with such a strong faith. Believe me, there were days when literally getting out of bed was all I could do.

I survived it - Chris and I survived it - because of God. We survived because he wrapped his loving arms around us and held us. That song is right. The promise is, "When everything fell we'd be held."

Chris and I were held. We were held by a God who had a plan for our lives. He allowed our daughter's life and death to bring glory to him. He carried us every step of the way. On the days when I cried out to him, on the days when I told him it didn't make any sense to me, on the days when I begged him to just make it stop hurting, he held us.

I thought of that as we sang Sunday. I am so thankful for a loving God who holds us - during the good times and the bad. I am so thankful for a God who never leaves us. And I am grateful that through this journey, he has allowed me and Chris to realize his love and his grace.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Jerry and the Girls

There are three questions I am frequently asked by people who used to watch me on the news:

1. How are the girls?
2. Do you miss being on TV?
3. Do you keep in touch with Jerry?

As most of you know, they are talking about Jerry Hayes, my former co-anchor at WHNT. The answer to that question is yes. Jerry is one of my dearest friends. I often tell people that when you anchor with someone, you have to develop such a trust and a bond with them. Viewers can tell when anchors genuinely like each other. When we worked together, Jerry and I always got a kick out of telling people he was my "TV husband." Seriously, there were days that I spent more time with him than I did my own husband! And speaking of Chris, he and Jerry are very close, too. Jerry was there for us when we lost Melissa, and he was one of the first people I told that I was pregnant with Lily. That man can keep a secret like no one! We didn't start telling people we were pregnant with Lily until I was 6 months pregnant, so when people at Channel 19 started murmuring because it was obvious I was gaining weight, Jerry would just say, "I have no idea." I loved him for that!

The other night, Jerry came to see us and he brought the girls the cutest Christmas presents: matching kid-sized Alabama chairs! He wanted them to have them in time for the Sugar Bowl. Of course, the girls were thrilled to see him and they love their new chairs.

I snapped these cute pictures, but I especially love the ones of Jerry and Lily. When he picked her up, she just started babbling and went on, and on, and on. We don't know what she told him, but Jerry was taking it all in!

By the way, Happy 2009 to everyone! Here's to a wonderful and healthy new year!