Friday, November 30, 2012

Abbie's Memorial Service

Our family is incredibly blessed, overwhelmed, and made speechless, by the outpouring of love, support, and generosity that has come during our time of loss and healing. I will dedicate a separate post to that later, after we have fully processed (and are organized enough to give proper gratitude for) all the amazing gestures, kindnesses, and gifts that have come our family's way.

This post is dedicated to share the details of the memorial service we have planned for Abbie. Any and all are welcome to attend, as we would like to give each one of you a hug to thank you for your thoughts, prayers, and kindness.

Her obituary is posted here.

We chose to hold an open memorial service for her, so that many who have been touched by her short life, can come and celebrate the eternal promise we have in Jesus, that she will live forever with Him in heaven and that we will be united with her again one day. Mother and father will get to hold daughter, and two sisters and a brother will be able to hug, hold hands, and play ring around the rosie until they collapse in giggles on the ground! I envision Abbie as being a blondie like our other two kids, and I can't wait to see all that blond sunshiny hair falling around the girls' faces as they laugh and lie down in the green grass to catch their breath!

Details are as follows:

Saturday, December 8th
Hosanna! Lutheran Church, 9600 163rd St. West, Lakeville, MN.
12:30pm - Public visitation
1:30pm - Service
2:30 pm - Light luncheon

The mission of the March of Dimes is near and dear to our family's heart, as Abbie was our second child born prematurely. Therefore, in lieu of flowers, we have opened a memorial account for Abbie at Merrill Lynch. Donations can be brought to the service or mailed to our home at 4639 Tamie Ave, Eagan, MN 55123.  We intend to use a sizable portion of this account for a donation to the March of Dimes ( The research this wonderful organization does is critical to reduce the incidence of prematurity worldwide. We still have a long journey ahead to work toward stronger, healthier babies!

Blessings to each of you - know that God's light and grace are shining down on you from above, with sweet Abbie in his arms.

With all our love and gratitude,
The Christenson Family

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Isabel and Josiah meeting Abbie

On Monday, after Abbie went to be with Jesus, the kind staff of the NICU told us that we could spend as much time with her that day as we wanted to, and we could even do so in my hospital room so the time would be more comfortable. So they brought her up to us in a beautiful white basket, and she spent the day in my room. We both held her a lot of the time, and were able to extend our time with the physical body of our precious girl, even though we knew that her spirit and soul were even at that moment looking down on us from above, where she was resting and rocking in the arms of our Savior.

A Child Life Specialist from the NICU came up to visit with us as well, to provide support, advice, and recommendations on how to best share the loss of a baby with the other children in the home. We talked a lot about Isabel and Josiah and where they each are developmentally. She provided us with some recommendations on what language to use and also provided us with some really helpful children's books that are written specifically to help siblings deal with the loss of a new baby who they were expecting to come home and live with them.  After reviewing all the information she provided, Luke and I talked privately and decided ultimately, especially for Isabel, that it would be good to have them come and meet baby Abbie in person, to be able to see her, touch her, hold her, and have that physical memory and photographs to help them continue to process this loss as they grow. 

Our wonderful nanny, Kalli, brought the kids up to the hospital in the evening, and left them with us for awhile so we could have some private time as a family of five. We knew Josiah's attention span would be shorter, so Kalli stayed at the hospital and took him back from us after a little bit, so we could spend some additional time with Isabel explaning the events of the day to her at her level and answer any questions that she might have. This extra time was really helpful to have with our firstborn daughter and her curious spirit.

Isabel's was thrilled to learn that she had a baby sister (she had been convinced from day one that the baby was a girl!), and then when we explained that Abbie was just too little and sick and that she wouldn't be coming home with us and instead went to live with Jesus right away, Isabel crumbled into a solid few minutes of sobbing (which made my tears flow also). We gently assured her that Abbie was in a better place, and we would see her again one day when we are all in heaven. This seemed to help her. Isabel has a very vivid picture of heaven in her mind, and talks about it often. She is convinced it will be filled with all the things a little girl would love...princesses, mermaids, Barbies, etc. So I told her that when we are all there someday, she will get to show Abbie everything and they can play together as sisters. I look forward to seeing that day, when Isabel gets to be a big sister to Abbie the way she has been dreaming of doing for the past 5 months since we have known a new baby was coming.

Isabel wanted to see all of Abbie's body parts (her arms, her feet, her tummy, her back, her bottom) - almost as if she wanted to make sure she was a real baby and not a very lifelike doll. This reinforced our decision to have her meet Abbie physically, because we would not have been able to answer these types of questions had Abbie not been there with us.  At the end of our visit, Isabel held Abbie and sat beside me in the bed while I read her the book Something Happened, which is a children's book written for families who have experienced the loss of a baby.  The words in this book were very soothing to my heart, Luke's heart, and hopefully Isabel's heart as well. When Luke took the kids home for bed that evening, he once again read this book separately to each of them, helping them to each understand about their baby sister in their own unique way.  We have been told by many that children grieve over weeks and months just like adults, so we will continue to help each of our children process our loss for as long as they need us to.

As a friend reminded me last night during our time of prayer, I am now, and always will be, a mother of three children. We will honor Abigaile's memory by continuing to teach our children about the love we have for her, as they grow older and we experience all the joy that there is to come in watching the two of them grow and live their lives. Isabel, Josiah, and Abbie have all been true blessings to us, and we are proud and humbled to have been chosen to be their parents. For God to have entrusted these precious ones to us for a time, when He loves them even more than we can understand or fathom, is truly an amazing thing.

Love and blessings,
The Christenson Family

Monday, November 26, 2012

November Baby

Last night at 12:27am we welcomed into the world, very unexpectedly, a precious, perfect little miracle who we named Abigaile Grace. Abigaile for "The Father's Joy" and "Grace" for the grace of God. She was born at 23 weeks, 1 day of gestation, just barely considered viable and the age that the wonderful doctors and nurses of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit here at Children's Hospital St. Paul would do everything in their power to keep her alive at such a delicate age. She came out kicking her legs (Luke gave me the play-by-play since he could peek over the curtain during my C-section), and for the next many hours, they worked on stabilizing her, via breathing tubes, chest tubes, IV's, and all sorts of other things I can go into more detail on later. I got to see her for the first time at 4:00am. Beautiful!

At 9:00am or so, we got an urgent call from the NICU team to come down right away because they were doing CPR on Abbie. 5 minutes before that, I would have told you it would take me a good half hour to get out of my bed. Give a worried, loving mama that kind of call, and you have never seen a post-C-section woman move so fast in all your life. I was in the wheelchair in less than 2 minutes, and we headed down to see our daughter. When we arrived, the neonatologist told us they had been attempting CPR for upwards of 5 minutes and Abbie was not responding. Even if they were able to resuscitate her at this time, the risk of permanent brain damage were very, very high, and she told us she thought this was Abbie's way of saying her organs were just too little to survive outside of mama's womb.  Her recommendation was to stop the resuscitation attempts, and we consented.

Immediately now we got to hold our precious little girl. We spent two hours with her before she ended up going off into the arms of Jesus. We sang to her, talked to her, told her how much we loved her, and Luke even gave her a sponge bath. She was one loved baby in those short couple of hours. She has been, and is even now, The Father's Joy, and she is rocking in the arms of her Heavenly Father where we will see her again one day. And, we like to think that Jesus will also give her lots of time to be rocked and loved on by Grandpa Dave, who preceded her journey to heaven by 5 1/2 years. He hasn't gotten to hold a grandbaby yet, and he loves babies, so now he will help care for her until we meet again one day!

Our family sincerely appreciates all your prayers, love, and support, and we will provide more detail on this blog over the next days and weeks, to fill in the missing information from this initial post and to answer any questions.

Love and blessings,
Kristy and Luke Christenson