By Leigh Ann Kelley, the winner of the “8 Weeks to Your Awesome Self” Giveaway
It was four in the morning, I was nursing our baby and checking my email, and I had to read the email twice. It said, “You are Awesome;” it’s not every day we get to hear those words. I was excited to find out that I had won the “8 weeks to an Awesome You” contest, and a little nervous! I’m looking forward to this journey and the time to do something positive and healthy for me and ultimately my family. I thought I would start by sharing a little about myself, it’s actually really hard to sum up the past year in one blog so here is the condensed version.
Last summer, after battling infertility, my husband and I were excited to learn we were pregnant with twins. At the time we also had a 4 year old son, Jackson, and 3 year old daughter, Lauren. At the 20 week ultrasound we learned that one of the baby’s had a heart defect and a possibility of Down Syndrome. Going into the ultrasound we were not planning on finding out the sex of the babies and I considered the ultrasound to be a routine procedure, I’ll never look at one the same way again. We ended up finding out we were having two girls and we named them Amanda and Megan. I continued to be monitored and was unexpectedly put on bed rest in the hospital at 31 weeks, on December 1. The Christmas holiday season is not a good time to be in the hospital, with 9 weeks to go and two small kids at home.
In November, we suffered significant water damage to our house. A good portion of the house was unusable and contractors were in and out. My husband did an awesome job of juggling work, two kids in preschool, a house turned upside down and a hormonal, depressed wife on bedrest-he is the best! I also have some great friends who helped with lunches, watching the kids, sending me magazines, even picking out the new carpet for our house.
On December 14th, my water broke and the babies were born. Having two kids at home and two in the NICU required a lot of planning and driving back and forth but I was glad to be home over Christmas with our older children. Amanda came home on Christmas Eve, she was tiny but so cute! Then I had the mommy guilt because Megan was alone in the hospital. We visited her daily, she had some setbacks but was continuing to improve. I saw her on Saturday, she only had a feeding tube, was starting to take bottles and looked great. The next morning I woke to my phone ringing and a doctor calling to tell us that they thought Megan had contracted necrotizing enterocolitis.
My husband visited with her in the am and the doctors were taking her to surgery to see how bad her case was. I was not prepared for what would happen next. We loaded up the other kids, went to Discovery Place Kids and were going to stop by the hospital on our way home. When we got back to the hospital, they took us into a room alone and told us that too much of Megan’s intestine were involved and that she was very sick. I think they were trying to prepare us but weren’t giving all the info at once. Finally I asked what the chance of survival was and I was told that she was going to die, probably over the next couple of days. Because of the surgery she was on pain medications and we couldn’t hold her. I could only sit there, holding her hand, rubbing her head and telling her how much we loved her. Our kids had only seen her in pictures because children aren’t allowed in the NICU. We brought them up in the morning and even though she was on a ventilator, they were able to hold her and meet her. She passed away in our arms on Monday morning, January 3rd.
At first the emotions were so raw and I was in a state of shock and denial. I remember thinking I would cry every day for the rest of my life. I am coming to terms with the fact that Megan is gone but will never be forgotten. Having our other kids is a blessing but some days they ask really hard questions about heaven and what Megan is doing. As the twins first birthday approaches Lauren asks me how we are going to get Megan her presents and Jackson wants God to “let Megan come down for just one day to play.” Death is such a hard concept to understand, especially for kids.
I have had much more free time this year than I was anticipating. I had prepared myself for taking care of twins, one that had Down Syndrome and would require heart surgery around six months of age. To go from that to one healthy baby has also been a challenging adjustment.
The “eight weeks to an awesome you” opportunity has occurred at such a great time for me, especially as we are approaching the one year mark. I no longer cry every day but I think about Megan daily and how much we miss her. I am focusing on the concept of “moving forward but never forgetting.”
Stay tuned for updates on how I am doing with the exercise and nutrition aspects of the program!
This story is amazing. Enjoy this special time. Your story is incredible. I know you miss Meghan and I’m so sorry for your loss. I bet she is friends with my sweet Lily in heaven!
Thank you, Leigh Ann, for sharing your very personal story. You are amazing and I am enjoying every minute of working with you! You are so strong and getting stronger in so many ways every day!
Leigh Anne, thank you for sharing your story and your heart. I cannot wait to meet you!
Love you, girl! Great job!
Great job, Leigh Ann! I am so proud of you!
Leigh Ann, i have tears in my eyes and my heart is so touched. As your “aunty” and i trust friend, i have watched you walk bravely and quietly through this journey. You and Jason have been quite the pillar of strength from the outside looking in. God is so good to bless you with something as “The Awesome You” in a season that you can be blessed to be lifted up and encouraged. And your are awesome….you go girl. Enjoy! Thank you for sharing your most difficult story. I am sure many will be blessed by your sharing.
So much love to you, Leigh Ann! You are awesome.