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Life story
April 7, 2008
 
The picture isn't the best, but you can kind of see a second pink line. On April 7, 2008, we found out we were pregnant with Wiley. It was an exciting and anxious day. But mostly exciting. And hard to believe. Wiley was conceived on the Feast of the Annunciation and the birthday of his Great-great Auntie Cookie. We would later find out that his scheduled c-section date, his due date to us, would end up being the feast day of the Virgin of Guadalupe. I guess he was surrounded with significance in the eyes of the Catholic Church. Wiley's presence was determined almost two years after our wedding in May of 2006. He was our first child. Aside from the nervousness and anxiety, the first trimester was an easy one physically and emotionally. We just wanted to be through and into the "safe time" of the pregnancy.
May 21, 2008
 
Here is our first clear picture of Wiley. Well, it was clear to us. That is a baby shaped form. This was from just under 10 weeks gestation. At this point we had told our families, but no one else. He was still our little secret for the most part. Laura never really had morning sickness, but did have plenty of cravings. The strongest among them were french fries, Sour Patch Kids, and Honey Nut cheerios. Not too bad. By this time Madison had pretty much taken over all household duties. A doting father and husband, Laura was not allowed to do much but take care of herself and the baby. He was always very protective.
July 31, 2008
 
This is one of my favorite sonogram pictures of Wiley. This is from the 20 week anatomical scan. We found out that he was a boy that day, and found out that he was perfect in every way. We both really thought he was a girl, probably because we knew what we would name a girl, so it took a bit of adjusting to the fact that we were having a boy. Within hours though, I wondered how I ever could have wanted a girl. We were having a son. We had no idea what to name him, but I was so happy to be having a boy. By this time I could feel him moving, but not really kicking much. I could feel little ripples and wiggles. Madison couldn't feel them yet and was getting pretty impatient with it. This is right about the time that things started to feel more real for both of us. There really was a baby in there, he was ours, and he was a he.
October 7, 2008
 
This is Laura's belly at 30 weeks. This is the first picture of the belly, taken at Lani's birthday dinner at Fino. By this time Laura was on a pregnancy high despite the sciatica and pelvic pain. Wiley was really kicking by now. His favorite trick was to kick like crazy until the moment Madison put his hand on Laura's belly, and then he would freeze. Drove his father crazy. He was the same way with nurses though. Wherever they put their hand, a heartbeat monitor, anything, he would move quickly somewhere else. He like to play his little tricks. At this point we still had no name for the poor guy. We knew his middle name would be Joseph though, after Laura's grandfather. Madison had started reading to him almost every night too. It was after one of these reading sessions that Wiley finally let Madison feel him move around. I guess he just needed a little sweet-talking and coaxing.
November 1, 2008
 
Laura was about 33.5 weeks at this point. The baby shower was thrown by Laura's sister Lani and Laura's friend Jennifer, and was held at Jennifer's house. It was a co-ed shower with grown-up beverages and delicious food. The picture shows the spread and the incredible diaper cake that Lani and Jennifer made. There were also plain white onesies with fabric markers and iron-ons to decorate them. We got a ton of really awesome presents. There were about 25 friends and family there. The onesie decorating happened at the end of the shower and there were some very creative ones. We still have most of them but a few were so clearly for Wiley that we either gave them back to the person who made them as a keepsake, or brought them to his grave for various occasions. It was such a wonderful day and we were so lucky to be showered with gifts and love.
November 18, 2008
 
This is Wiley at 36 weeks. You can really see his face well. He was very active that day. By this time we were doing weekly NSTs and sonograms. He hated NSTs. They were stressful every time we did them. He would move regularly throughout them, but he liked to move away from the heart monitor when he moved, so his accelerations were hard to measure. They always lasted 30 minutes and we had to constantly move the monitor and play hide and seek. Except of course for the time that Grammy went. That day he was a perfect angel. 3 good accelerations in no time, in and out. One of his favorite tricks by this point was putting his entire body over on mom's right side so that he completely deformed her. This was not very comfortable. Another of his favorite tricks was shoving his feet up below mom's rib cage and pushing really hard. This was always kind of an Alien experience. Aunt Lani and Uncle Sean got to feel the feet though. It was a trick he'd do for anyone. He was a lot like his mom too. Asleep most of the day and up in the evening and most of the night. He had his tricks and his patterns.
November 24, 2008
 
This is the sonogram picture from the week Wiley died. We were doing weekly checks on him and he always passed with flying colors. This is the last picture of him alive. We were able to see him practicing breathing and saw him looking just perfect as always. Just three days later we would learn that he was dead. We will never know what happened in those three days.
November 27, 2008
 
This is easily the saddest picture we have ever seen. This is Thanksgiving day. In the evening this day, after Wiley would usually have started moving more, there was no movement. Wiley did not usually move much during the day, so it was evening before there was any hint of a problem. After doing a kick count, we called the doctor and were told to go to labor and delivery. Neither of us really thought there was anything wrong. He was always so healthy and nobody had even told us about stillbirth. We thought we were all clear. Obviously, the nurses at the hospital and then the doctor as well told us that there was no heartbeat. Wiley was dead. He was moving just the night before, and it was confirmed after the c-section that it looked like he had died just 24-36 hours before the surgery. We spent the night in the hospital that night and the surgery was the next morning. There are no words available yet to describe that night or the days that followed. Maybe someday.

November 28, 2008
 
This is a close-up I made of Wiley's face. The picture was taken the first and last time we ever got to hold him. There was nothing that could have prepared us for that day. It is difficult to write about, but I hope someday to be able to. As an outline, they brought him to us in the surgery room and Madison held him. We went back to the hospital room where my mom and Ed were waiting for us. Almost immediately, they brought Wiley into the room and the photographers were there too. It was overwhelming and the photographers were only able to take a few pictures before they were asked to stop. Looking back, I wish they had stayed and taken more pictures, but we didn't know how much they would mean to us. Wiley stayed with us for hours as we held him and stared at him. Looking back, I wish we had done more, but again, we didn't know. It was a day that changed us. We are forever heartbroken, but we also learned how much we could love a child. That day holds such mixed emotions for us.
December 11, 2008
 
We ultimately decided (after much struggle and debate, and for a number of reasons) to cremate Wiley's body. We were charged with finding an "urn" for his ashes. After about three trips to Clarksville buying boxes that didn't work for various reasons, we found exactly what we wanted. Something to be a symbol and something of beauty. We chose a box that was made from one piece of wood, but divided into two in the yin-yang shape. In one half of the yin-yang we placed Wiley's ashes for burial. The other half we kept. We decided to get jewelry that contains some of Wiley's ashes. Madison got a bracelet and Laura got a necklace. These turned out to be very comforting objects for us both. At night we put our jewelry with his ashes into the half of the yin-yang box that we kept. At night the yin-yang is whole and his ashes are in the half of the box that is ours. Somehow it all feels whole to us. Somehow this ritual feels right.
December 12, 2008
 
Wiley's ashes were buried on the day of his scheduled c-section, December 12th. This has always been our due date, and we were glad to be doing something for him on that date. As sad as it is, we were glad we wouldn't be just sitting around on that day. We had a graveside service at 2:00PM. Wiley is buried at Austin Memorial Park Cemetery in the infant/cremations section. We purchased three plots so that we can join him one day. Our families attended the funeral and came in from out of town to be there. We were not sure what to expect, but were comforted by such an outpouring of support from our family. Also in attendance were our friends Jennifer and Brendan, who organized a teddy bear drive among our in-town and out of town friends and Madison's coworkers. The teddy bears were surrounding the vault the day of the funeral and really did brighten things up. The bears were later donated to the Settlement Home. Laura's mother's priest performed the service. People were encouraged to put a small item of their choosing or a letter into the vault to be buried with Wiley's ashes. Everyone also put a yellow spray rose into the vault. Pictures from this day can be seen in the funeral gallery. We had people over after the funeral to have some food (generously donated to us) and see Wiley's room. It was a difficult day made better by the tremendous support of family and friends.
December 25, 2008
 
This diaper with toys in it began our tradition of bringing things to the grave. On Christmas eve we hung one of Wiley's cloth diapers with our stockings and Santa put toys in it. The next day we brought it all to the cemetery. As strange as it may seem, bringing things there makes us feel good. We go there twice a month on the 12th and the 28th and for holidays. As the plot evolves, we hope to start bringing things that will blend in with the design. For example, we are hoping to put a rock garden in over the plot and will maybe start bringing neat rocks or decorating small rocks to bring. In the meantime, we feel good bringing little things to his grave for his anniversaries and would-be birthdays.
January 1, 2009
 
Another of our little rituals that brings us peace and a sense of closeness with Wiley is lighting a candle for him. Every evening when it starts to get dark, we light a candle for Wiley. It is on a shelf in our living room just over our TV. We have used many different colors, but the ritual is the same. We burn the candle for about 3 hours every night. I'm not sure what meaning we attach to this ritual, but like everything else we do for him, it makes us feel good so we keep doing it. It is a visual representation, a source of energy, a sweet smell, and an action done with purpose and repetition in the name of our son.
May 9, 2009
 
In February Laura saw a sign for the March of Dimes March for Babies. We had both been talking about ways to honor Wiley and to help others. This seemed like a great opportunity to raise awareness and money for babies. It was a good cause and we raised just under $7,000 in the end. We were the number two team in Austin and had individual fundraisers in the top five. It was all thanks to our supporters. While we are glad we walked, in the future we will most likely focus our time and fundraising efforts toward organizations that deal more directly with stillbirth. We hope you will continue to support our efforts. Big things are in the works for future volunteerism. Stay posted...
November 28, 2009
 
This was a tough week for us. We had a lot planned to honor Wiley. We asked family and a few friends to let us know if they would be interested in donated money for books to donate to Seton hospital to give out to parents who lose babies to stillbirth or early infant death. You can see the book here: http://www.amazon.com/When-Hello-Means-Goodbye-Paul/dp/0961519703 With the help of our family and friends, generous as always, we were able to collect enough money to donate 175 English versions of the book and 25 in Spanish. We put labels on the back to indicate that they were donated in Wiley's name and delivered them to the hospital on 11/27/09, one year after our initial, sad visit to labor and delivery. The nurse who was there for our delivery and who helped us with Wiley was there to receive the donation. She was incredible and talked with us for a long time about that day. She remembered us well, and remembered how beautiful Wiley was. And by pure chance, our doctor from our pregnancy with Wiley was there. She was so glad to see us and was honored that we were donating the books to Seton. The Seton staff were very thankful and took pictures, who knows where we will end up. Many thanks to family and friends who donated. It was a great experience to go there and face it all and do something good for other families.

Because of the generosity of said family and friends, we raised so much money that we decided to spend some on some books to donate to our local library in Wiley's name. We bought 5 children's books that remind us of Wiley (including a copy of the one Daddy used to read to him all the time, the book that was actually buried with him) and 5 books for children on grief, some about losing siblings, and one about the baby that came before. Neat books, all of them. We donated these on the 25th and lo and behold, the woman who accepted our donation starting crying, letting us know that she lost twins 19 years ago and knows how hard it is. Unbelievable. You never know where you will find others who have been through it.

In addition, we gave family and friends the option of purchasing a tile to place at Wiley's grave, which underwent a great transformation thanks to the design plan of Madison and Laura and the hard work of Madison and Brendan. On 11/28/09 Madison and I went out to plant bulbs at the newly refurbished site. We planted 4 varieties of daffodils in each bed, in two rows on each side, and ranunculus down the center. The tiles were placed down the middle in between the bulb rows and on each side of the ranunculus. We ended up with 18 tiles that we placed with love for each of the people who lovingly chose them. We ran out of time but came out the next day to put big ol' amaryllis bulbs, one on either side of the headstone, and a single yellow hyacinth at the top of the plot. We are hopeful that this spring will find a bounty of bloomed bulbs. We must have done a nice job with the plot since once when we showed up, a neighbor was taking pictures of it to show her husband. We are certainly the envy of the infant/cremation section.

Pictures for all three of these tributes can be seen in the photo gallery under the heading "Anniversary Week." Many thanks again to our loving family and friends.
December 25, 2009
 
This Christmas, Grammy and Grandpa donated to the Austin Children's Shelter in memory of Wiley. There were many gifts to honor Wiley including frames for his hand and foot prints and markers, a scrapbook, and varnish to decorate rocks from the grave site from Danpaw and Patty, a memory box for Wiley's things from the hospital, an ornament, and a Christmas tree for the grave site from Grammy, and a beautiful new larger bench for the grave site from Nana (pictures to follow). Thank you to our family for remembering Wiley this Christmas.