Tobin's Story:

On Tuesday, June 15, 2010 I received a phone call from my OB's office. The doctor explained that there were some concerns they had with my ultrasounds. They were seeing "red flags" that indicated there could be something wrong with our baby. We were then scheduled to meet with a specialist that Friday. The next couple of days felt like the longest days of my life. Friday morning we first met with a genetic counselor. She went over what they were seeing in my previous ultrasounds and what they would be looking for in the ultrasound I would have after we talked with her. Basically there were two things that they were looking for: Down Syndrome or Trisomy 18. She went over what each of those meant and answered the questions we had. We then went in for the ultrasound with the specialist. The specialist came in and explained what they were seeing in the ultrasound: 2 vessel umbilical chord, cysts on the brain, extra amniotic fluid, clenched fists, a cleft lip and clubbed feet. As he went over each thing my heart broke and I wept. When the ultrasound was finished we met with the specialist in his office and he shared with us that he believed our baby had Trisomy 18 which meant that our baby was incompatible with life. He gave us the option to terminate the pregnancy. There was no way we were going to do that. We loved this sweet baby and wanted to show him that love and make the most of his life whatever that may be. We scheduled an amniocentesis test for Friday, August 20th. This would confirm if he had Trisomy 18 as well as confirm the gender of our baby. The specialist prayed with us before we left.

I remember thinking August seemed so far away, but when August 20th came it seemed so quick. I was extremely nervous about the test, but it went rather quick and smoothly. On Monday, August 23rd (Dave's Birthday) we received the preliminary results of the amniocentesis. They did in fact find 3 of the 18th chromosome. Our baby had Trisomy 18. They also shared with us that we were having a baby boy. Dave and I held each other and wept. How could this be?!? After officially hearing the news Dave and I decided we needed to come up with a name for our son. We wanted it to have special meaning. It took us about a week to decided his name: Tobin Kendall. Tobin meaning "God is Good" and Kendall being Dave's grandfather's name and his father's middle name. We truly believed and continue to believe that God Is Good and wanted others to know that.

On Monday, September 6 after a few days of not feeling any movement from Tobin, Dave and I went in to the hospital for a non-stress test. I prayed so hard that God would allow us to hear Tobin's heartbeat. The nurse continued to move the Doppler around on my belly searching for his heartbeat. She explained to us that she wasn't confident enough to tell us that the heartbeat she was hearing was mine or his and so she would call our doctor to have an ultrasound done. Our doctor came and did the ultrasound. After a few minutes of scanning he showed us where Tobin's heart was and explained that there was no heartbeat...Tobin had passed. We decided to be induced the next day. Tobin arrived Wednesday, September 8, 2010 at 4:06am. He was 2lbs 1oz and 12.5inches long. He was so beautiful and I cherish every moment we had with him.

Friday, September 13, 2013

I Remember...

In March I had the opportunity to attend a Bereavement Conference for Helen Devos Children's Hospital at Calvin College with two of my dear friends from church.  The speaker was Robert Zucker, a grief counselor and inspirational speaker on loss and grief.  Along with Robert Zucker, there was a panel of parents, all vulnerable and sharing their losses and their grief.  Towards the end of the conference, Robert had us all participate in a writing exercise that he does in his grief counseling.  We were given a set amount of time to write and then we shared with the people at our table.

As we just grieved the loss of Tobin and celebrated his 3 year heaven birth date, I wanted to share with you what I wrote:

I remember when I found out I was expecting our 2nd child.
I remember the excitement.
I remember the heart stopping phone call.
I remeber the nervous feeling as the ultrasound technician rolled the video over the warm goo on my belly.
I remember seeing your precious profile with your clenched fists up by your face and laughing that you were ready to fight.
I remember the joy and sorrow felt with every kick.
I remember choosing your beautiful name, Tobin.
I remember the deep dark silence.
I remember the pain in my left side.
I remember your tiny nose, your 9 fingers, your soft dark hair, your beautiful cleft lip, your precious tiny clubbed feet.
I remember your smell.
I remember your soft skin.
I remember your cold body that no matter how many blankets I wrapped around you, you wouldn't get warm.
I remember the innocence of your sister holding you.
I remember the blood stained blankets and clothes.
I remember them taking you away.
I remember screaming in agony.
I remember walking out of the Baby Center with empty arms.
I remember watching your Daddy carry your box with tears streaming down his cheeks.
I remember the emptiness.
I remember the darkness.
I remember the hope.

No matter how many years go by, I will always vividly remember Tobin's story.  I look forward to that beautiful day when we will be reunited again...

Monday, August 13, 2012

Strength and Beauty

I have a dear friend who I am so thankful for.  She is an AMAZING woman with such great STRENGTH and BEAUTY.  We were introduced when I found out about my precious Tobin.  I wish it was under different circumstances that our friendship blossomed, but I am ever so BLESSED to call her friend.  I want to share her with you because she is a part of our story.  Her name is Heather...

Heather is the mother of 4 beautiful children, McKenzie, Carter, Alexis and Bailey.  Alexis and Bailey are twins and were born on February 20, 2009...just a month before our Michaela.  If you looked at these beautiful girls at birth you would never know the immense pain and suffering that one of these beautiful little girls would experience for the next 18 months.

Just shortly after birth Bailey suffered seizures that caused an extensive amount of damage to her brain.  Matt and Heather did not know at the time what their journey would hold with Bailey, but they faithfully trusted in God's goodness.  I did not meet Heather at this time, but God was already preparing us for each other.  Here I was praying for this precious family in the background not knowing that God would bring us together through grief and sorrow towards the end of Bailey's life.  I met Heather in June 2010 when I found out that our sweet Tobin was "incompatible with life".  Even though Heather was experiencing such immense grief in her own life she came to me offering me comfort and a friendship.

2 Years ago, on August 13, 2010, Bailey Hope went from the arms of her loving Mother and Father straight into the arms of Jesus.  She is pain free and experiencing joy beyond what we can ever even imagine!  I did not know at the time that God was using this experience to help prepare me for the pain I would experience the next month.  I remember weeping and literally screaming in my car after Bailey's visitation.  Praying for God to spare me from this grief and pain.  Little did I know that a month later we would experience such great loss.

Heather and I have a bond of friendship that is different from many of my other friendships.  She knows and understands the grief and pain that I experience daily.  I am so thankful for this friend I have where words are not always necessary but a simple glance can say so much more.  Where a phone call is accepted anytime about anything.  I love her dearly and daily thank God for bringing her into my life.

Please pray for my friend Heather and her sweet family as today marks the 2 year anniversary of Bailey being joined with Jesus.  A day of joy and sorrow for the Mekkes family.  Joy that Bailey no longer has any pain...sorrow as they miss their sweet girl.

If you want to read more on this sweet family, here is their blog:

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Big Sister

Two years ago we announced we were expecting our 2nd baby!  Dave and I were so shocked and thrilled! Michaela's 1st birthday was just a few weeks away and I was in the midst of planning her big celebration...feeling sick and tired. I went out with my dear friend Sarah and bought a BIG SISTER shirt for Michaela so that she could wear it to announce our exciting news to family and friends. Looking back at the pictures we took, I can't believe what a baby Michaela still was.  We didn't know at that time what pain would come with the joy we were feeling.

I am in the midst of planning Michaela's 3rd birthday party and memories and thoughts find a way to flood my mind.  We are so excited and thankful for the 3 precious years we have had our sweet Michaela.  She is so much fun and brings so much joy and laughter to our home.  She loves being a big sister to both Tobin and Aidan!  She is a great big sister! 

There are several times that Michaela will hug Dave and I and say, "I love you Daddy!  I love you too Mommy!  I love Aidan too!  And I love Tobin!"  I know people think that she is too young to remember Tobin but we have made him known in our home as an important part of our family.  Michaela knows where Tobin is with Jesus and that he has no more owies!  The other day we drove past a cemetery...not where Tobin is buried, but Michaela shouts, "Mom look!  That's where Tobin is!"  He is in her thoughts daily too!

Not a day goes by that we don't miss our precious Tobin.  There have been some family, friends and friends of friends who have experienced the loss of children...each one a different situation from our own, but the pain is the same and is still there.  In knowing the pain and grief that comes with losing a child, I find myself investing in their grief.  It breaks my heart to see others experience the loss of a child.  When Michaela and I pray during the day we have several families that we pray for who have experienced the same heartache we have experienced.  There have been lots of tears shed and a lot of questioning as to WHY?!?  We just continue to cling to the promises of our Heavenly Father and trust in His plan.  We know that God is Good!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A Change of Clothes

I never saw Tobin after we held him at the hospital.  He was gently taken from my arms by my dear friend where he was brought to the funeral home to prepare for burial (I could not have given Tobin into the arms of anyone else with a peace that he was being loved and cared for as though he were family).  We went to make arrangements for his burial and memorial service the next day.  We chose a coffin, decided on the wording for the newspaper, made arrangements to meet with the place he would be buried, met with Pastor, chose a verse for the pamphlet, and figured out what else needed to be done for the funeral.  It was a whirlwind of a day...Exhausting!

I had brought clothes to put Tobin in so that we could have some pictures of him in different outfits, but when I held him for the first time I quickly realized that his frail, fragile body would not be able to withstand outfit changes and the preemie clothes were far too big to fit him.  One of the outfits that my Mom gave Tobin said, "Thank Heaven for Little Boys".  They specifically went out and exchanged it for a preemie size when we found out he was gone and was coming a 8 weeks early.  I was so disappointed that we wouldn't get to put it on him.  

Tobin is buried in that outfit.  I never got to see it on him.

Do I wish that I would have seen Tobin before he was buried?!?  I don't know.  The time we had at the hospital with him was far too short, but as time passed his body became more fragile and frail, so the memory we have of him is not so harshly tainted by the deterioration of his earthly body.

Today, I pulled that exact same outfit out of the drawer to put on Aidan.  As I began putting Aidan's chubby arms and legs into the outfit I couldn't help but cry.  These were mixed tears...tears of sorrow and grief for my Tobin and tears of joy that I have this beautiful healthy chubby little boy to dress.  There are so many days that I long and ache to hold Tobin, to dress him, to kiss him, to cuddle him, to see what color his eyes are and to hear his sweet cry!  I have learned to cherish every change of clothes (which happens a lot with Aidan as he is a spitter), every kiss, every cuddle, every big brown eyed stare and every cry (even at 2am).

Who would have thought that a simple change of clothes could mean so much...

Monday, December 12, 2011

2011 Blessings

It is hard to believe that another year has come and gone!  We certainly have enjoyed seeing God's goodness throughout this past year and I wanted to share with you just a few of the blessings we have seen this year.

My father-in-law's shop has struggled to survive the last 2 years, which has been a financial struggle for most of our family as so many of the workers are family.  This year they had more jobs in one month than they did for the last 2 years!  What a blessing!  They currently are extremely swamped with work and have been working round the clock.  It has been so wonderful to see the shop start to grow again, but difficult for our family when Daddy and Grandpa aren't around to play with because they have to work.  But we are so thankful that they are hard workers and have seen God blessing them for their efforts.

Dave enjoys painting and drawing and has really been working hard to enhance his art business.  In the last two years I have seen his talent develop and he has really been able to do so much more with his sports art.  I have seen God blessing him and he has had so many people inquire and commission him for paintings or charcoal drawings.  It is so wonderful to see him getting to do what he loves to do as well as making some extra money on the side.

In September we had the blessing of being able to take our first family vacation.  We were blessed with the gift of a trip to Myrtle Beach.  It was exactly what we needed.  It was time for us to relax together before Aidan's arrival.  We also had time to spend with extended family.  It was nice to be able to just be together Dave, Michaela and I without the stress of anything or any obligations.  It was a beautiful time to reflect on all the blessings we had received since we lost our sweet Tobin.

On November 3, 2011 we were blessed with the birth of our sweet son Aidan Kendall Courson.  It went better than I had prayed for his delivery to go.  It was my desire to have him in November because Tobin was due in October.  I really hoped for November 3rd because it is my Father-in-law's birthday and I wanted to go in on my own.  All three of those things were answered but it went better than I expected.  The delivery process was beautiful.  It was an emotional time for me.  There were tears of joy and tears of grieving the loss of Tobin.  It was a bitter sweet moment.  Holding him in my arms was the best feeling in the world!

 When Michaela met Aidan for the first time she was so excited and she has been a wonderful Big Sister!  She loves her baby brother.  In preparation for his arrival we kept telling her we were going to get to bring Aidan home soon and we would ask her what she was going to do with him.  One day her and I were rocking in the rocking chair and I asked her if she was excited for Aidan to come and if she was excited we were going to bring him home.  She looked up at me with her beautiful brown eyes smiled and said, "Yes!  I wish we would have brought Tobin home.  Why we not bring Tobin home?"  She completely caught me off guard and I of course began to cry, held her close and said,  "me too baby I wish we could have brought him home too".

Aidan has added so much joy to our family!  We have been enjoying his little cries in the middle of the night, his smiles when he hears Michaela's voice, his chest move up and down as we watch him peacefully sleep and listening to his tiny snore.  We have really enjoyed seeing how all three of our babies look so much alike. 

As the Christmas Season has been fast approaching, Michaela and I have each day been reading parts of Jesus' Birth and talking about the importance that it is.  Jesus is the greatest gift we have received.  He is the reason we have the hope we have and the reason we can look forward to the day when there will be no more pain and no more tears and we can hold our sweet Tobin again.

Thank you for your thoughts and prayers for our family.  We have appreciated everyone sharing in our joy of the birth of Aidan and God's constant goodness.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The 7 most precious hours of my life.

The 7 most precious hours of my life occurred one year ago when I delivered my sweet angel baby Tobin at 4:06am on September 8, 2011.
In so many ways it seems crazy to me that it has been a year since we said goodbye to our sweet Tobin and in other ways it seems crazy that it has only been a year.
This weekend (Labor Day)/week marked the one year anniversary of when I felt like my whole world came crashing and life as I knew it became a huge whirlwind...a blurr.  
As I was riding in the car with Dave and Michaela on Labor Day, haunting memories raced through my mind.  I remembered our "long" ride back from Ludington last year and debating whether or not we should go to the hospital because I hadn't felt Tobin move.  I remember praying so hard for just one kick and even trying to convince myself that I may have felt something.
As tears streamed down my face while we were riding and these thoughts were filling my mind, I was reminded of God's Goodness to us as I felt my sweet Aidan kick and move around inside of me.  What a blessing it has been to carry him and to feel each tiny movement.  It hasn't been an easy pregnancy for me as each appointment/milestone in my pregnancy has been a reminder of just a year ago, but I am so thankful for baby Aidan and that he is growing healthy and strong.
I was reminded not too long ago by a dear friend Heather and her husband Matt, who lost their precious daughter Bailey a month before we lost our Tobin, of God's Goodness and Faithfulness.
Although I never got to hear Tobin's first cry, look into his eyes for the first time, hear his first laugh, see his first smile, watch him take his first steps, take his first bite of real food, say his first words and so many more "firsts" that you look forward to as a parent, Tobin has been able to experience the best kind of firsts!  He is the first in our family to experience pure joy and to sit at Jesus' feet!  What a beautiful picture they painted for me!
I miss Tobin daily and don't understand why he was taken from us so soon, but I cling to the promises of our Lord and Savior that we will once again get to hold and see our precious Tobin.  I look forward to that day when I will get to experience the beautiful firsts in Heaven with him and once again hold him in my arms.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Memories of a Year Ago and Adding New Memories

The last couple months have brought a lot of mixed emotions for me.  May started out with Mother's Day landing on the 8 month anniversary or our sweet Tobin being in the arms of Jesus.  It was an emotional day for me as it is a tradition to have a baby dedication on Mother's Day at my parent's church.  I remembered what joy Dave and I had as we made the commitment to raise Michaela to love and serve the Lord and I reflected on how while I was carrying Tobin we prayed that whatever amount of time the Lord gave us with him that his life would be one that would reflect and honor or Savior.  Towards the end of May I was reminded of certain milestones during my pregnancy with Tobin.  The end of May was my first ultrasound I had with Tobin.  At the time of the ultrasound we weren't aware that anything was wrong, but 2 weeks later in June we had another ultrasound because they couldn't get everything they needed in the first still unaware that there were any problems.  They very next day my whole world came crashing down.  I received the phone call that changed my life forever and has changed the way I look at ultrasounds and pregnancies.  There were so many appointments and times of unknowing that as those dates reoccur this year I am reminded at how crazy my life was last year at this time.  

My experiences with Tobin have made me more cautious and reserved with our third pregnancy. 
I have been both nervous and anxious for my 20 week ultrasound, which happened to be this morning.  In the past our families have been present at the ultrasounds, but I really wanted it to be just Dave and I this time as I knew it would be an emotional time for us.  It was a bitter sweet moment.  The technician was wonderful.  She told us everything she was looking at and why and as our precious baby was being projected on the wall in front of us I was scanning and looking for any of the indicators we saw with Tobin.  We saw our baby's little hands open and waving to us (this was exciting as Tobin's fists were clenched...a sign of Trisomy 18).  I watched the due date measurements as she measured our baby's head, arms, and legs and they were right on (this was exciting as Tobin measured 2 or 3 weeks smaller on these things).  The technician looked at us and said, "I don't see anything that concerns me, your baby looks perfect!"  We were so happy to hear those words! 

We also found out that we are having another little BOY! :)  Michaela and Dave both guessed right...I had a feeling it was a girl, but there was no question about it!  Michaela can continue to be Daddy's Little Girl!  So we are pleased to announce we are expecting Aidan Alan Courson to enter this world the beginning of November.

We appreciate continued prayer as we anticipate Aidan's safe arrival as well as we continue to miss and grieve our precious little Tobin.  We have been trusting in God's PERFECT plan for our lives and although we don't understand why he took our Tobin so quickly from us we are so thankful that we have the HOPE we will once again see him in Heaven.