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Family photo from their first Christmas at home. Photo by Two Birds Photography.

Family photo from their first Christmas at home. Photo by Two Birds Photography.

See that picture to the right? That’s my family. Well, sort of.

On December 9th, 2011 after a month of hospital bed rest, I suffered from E Coli poisoning and went into labor. I was 27 weeks and 5 days along, and baby A’s water had already broken 19 days prior, leaving him unprotected. Baby A – Carter – was 2 lbs. 5 oz. and immediately placed on the highest forms of support. It would be a long NICU stay.

Baby B – and Baby C – were 2 lbs. 10 oz. and 2 lbs. 5 oz. respectively. That’s right – there were three!

Unfortunately, my husband and I lost Carter after 49 days of life. He was a fighter, and we’re very blessed to have been able to know him for those days. I often write and speak about loss, faith, and surviving tragedy; it’s part of why I am so honored to be Preemie Babies 101’s new lead blogger. My husband and I make it a point to find ways to honor Carter and his legacy while still focusing on our two survivors.

That’s why I was excited to hear from Hallie at Jewelry Keepsakes. Their site offers remembrance jewelry of all kinds – even for pets! I was particularly interested in their cremation pieces because I had wanted to have something special to remember Carter by that was just about him. I had given thought to getting a tattoo like my husband, (he designed a memory tattoo in honor of Carter) but chickened out. When I learned about cremation jewelry, I knew I’d get something one day.

My ring to symbolize Carter and filled with some of his ashes.

My ring to symbolize Carter and filled with some of his ashes. Professional photo by Lullaby Lane Photography.

I chose a ring because my survivors are two and still like to mess with hanging jewelry. The heart was perfect – I often see hearts in random places and they make me think of Carter. The kit came quickly in the mail and included the supplies needed to add Carter’s ashes inside the ring. It’s simple for the most part – you unscrew the screw that hides in the side of the ring, fill it 3/4 full (there’s quite a bit of area, actually), and then screw it back together. The hard part comes if you chose to do the final, recommended step of putting super glue on the screw to help secure it permanently. That took both my husband and I to do because everything is so small, and I don’t think we got it quite right, but you can’t really tell at all.

I absolutely love this ring and wear it all the time along with my wedding rings. Every time I do, I think of Carter. I’ve gotten amazing comments on it and the great thing is that no one even knows it’s a cremation ring unless I tell them.

It’s an unfortunate reality, but some preemies don’t make it home from the NICU. Hand to Hold offers many resources for parents of preemies, and this includes the bereaved parent. If you have lost a preemie, I urge you to check out our resources.  If your preemie is currently fighting in the NICU, we also offer parent mentors who are here to encourage you through this stressful time.  I’m so glad to be a part of Preemie Babies 101, and I hope to encourage, support, and even inspire you during my time here.

My survivors are now two and quite the handful! Baby B – Braden – was in the NICU for 111 days, and Baby C – Tenley – was there for 89. All three babies were born with E Coli sepsis poisoning and endured level 3 and 4 brain bleeds. Braden had NEC (ruptured bowel) at 7 days old and deals with slow stomach emptying and gag reflux issues, along with some sensory issues and a shunt as a result of the hydrocephalus and brain bleeds. He’s walking now, and he actually tests ahead of his age for cognitive skills! Tenley contracted meningitis during her NICU stay from contaminant exposure and has ongoing issues with her shunt, including cysts in her ventricles and seizures. This has set her back developmentally, but she’s doing very well and is expected to catch up. She also suffers from sensory issues, oral aversion and feeding issues, and GERD. Our journey hasn’t been easy – it’s filled with many appointments, therapies, ER visits due to shunt scares, and post-release surgeries. They are also slow to gain weight and both are on special high-calorie diets. I never thought I’d be counting calories in an effort to gain weight!

But we make it. We make it because we have Carter watching over us, and no matter how stressed I get, I try to remind myself that I’ve been through worse.

If you have experienced the loss of a child like I have (or know someone that has), I’d like to invite you to enter our giveaway. Jewelry Keepsakes and Preemie Babies 101 have partnered to bring one winner their choice of one of the offered designs below. Three of these pieces are cremation jewelry, although they do not have to be used in that manner, and one piece is a photo pendant that can be engraved with your choice of photo. You can learn more about each piece on their website.

The winner gets to choose their favorite!

The winner gets to choose their favorite!

Enter below for your chance to win (anyone can enter) and good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This page's content was last updated on Apr 5, 2018 @ 2:43 pm