Thursday, July 23, 2009

One Year...

Dear Friends,

One year. Tomorrow, it will have been one year since baby mac was here on earth with us. A year.

Hard to believe.

So many details are present in my mind... the drawing of the dove on the doorway of Claire's hospital room... the moment their minister arrived... the dual feelings of relief and agony that we felt when the doctor said it was time for Claire to start pushing... waiting in the hallway, knowing mac was here... holding him for the first time... seeing him be baptized, surrounded by family... the smiles that Claire & Jeff had for him, their son, despite the sadness... the white wicker bassinet that the nurse used to carry his body from the room... the stillness of a hospital room filled with grief... the sunshine that entered the room when Lydie came for a visit later that afternoon. What a day. One year ago.

There have been a number of times that I have considered taking the blog down... it certainly served the purpose for our family- to communicate with all of you in an efficient way on & around July 24, 2008.

However, it seems like every time I think seriously about taking down the blog, I hear from someone who urges me not to do it. Someone who directed a friend or family member to the blog, someone who had experienced an infant loss themselves, someone who was pregnant with a baby who was not expected to survive. I know from our own experience that it was so helpful to read about what other people had experienced in the birth & loss of their own children. It helped Claire & Jeff, to know a little more about what to expect on that day.

So, for now, the blog remains.

Our memories of baby mac remain, larger than life at times. All the cliches seem to be true... time is healing, the memories are sweeter with the passing of the months- less painful. The pictures from Elizabeth Smith, which are up in our homes, and all around Claire & Jeff's house, are truly a godsend. Many of you supported Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep in mac's honor, and as time goes by, it becomes even more important to support this organization. Memories, especially during stressful & emotional times, are fuzzy. Elizabeth's pictures are the only tangible things that we can hang on to, gorgeous reminders of a beautiful baby boy who was cherished for every moment of his time here on earth.

Claire & Jeff are amazing... their strength continues to amaze me. They would be embarrassed to hear me say it, but I am so proud of who they are, and who they continue to be, in the wake of the loss of their son. They remain positive, faithful, joyful people. They are not bitter, not angry. They appreciate their blessings, and serve as a reminder to us all that we have choices every day... we can choose to wallow, to drown in our sorrows. Or, we can choose to find light in both expected & unexpected places.

One year ago tomorrow, Claire & Jeff welcomed their second child into this world, knowing that his time here would be short. They did everything they could to prepare for the worst day of their lives, and were able to celebrate the blessings of that amazing 'birth day'. Baby Mac's short life & story touched thousands of lives, changing all of us for the better. Hug your children, appreciate your blessings, slow down, tell someone you love them.

Stillbirth & infant loss are something that I hear more about all the time. Agonizing, horrific experiences are affecting too many families. We continue to be grateful to the organizations that support families in these times of need... both Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep & the Northside Perinatal Office played a huge part in the Barnett's experience. If you would like to honor baby mac's birthday, it would be such a blessing for you to support one of these amazing organizations.

As always, thank you for your continued support. I know you are still praying, and we cannot express enough how grateful we are for that. So many of you have recognized mac's birthday already, and it touches Claire & Jeff so much. To know that their child mattered so much, that he is still on people's minds & in their hearts, that people remember him... thank you.

We love you, baby mac.

love kathie

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Four Weeks

Four weeks ago today, sweet baby mac was here with us.

It certainly doesn't seem like four weeks ago. In fact, in some ways it seems like another lifetime. When I think about the intense emotions we were all having four weeks before baby mac was here, how we were grieving, stressed, worried, anxious... it is hard to believe that four weeks after the day of his birth and death, we are all in a much better place. God is good.

Grief & sadness are so much easier to bear than grief, anxiety & uncertainty. Now there is peace.

We celebrated Lydie's birthday last weekend, and Jeff's parents, brother & niece and nephew were able to come into town for the festivities. I was especially happy for them to be here, since the last time they were here, they left amid such sadness. This time, they were able to see with their own eyes that Claire & Jeff are doing remarkably well. The tears are, at this point, few and far between.

Claire shared with me the other day that "it isn’t as if when Mac was born all of our burdens disappeared, but the hardest of those, the uncertainty burden, did. In its place is a burden of grief, and those definitely don’t equal one another. In my opinion, the grief burden is much easier to bear. Jeff also said something last night that I think is so true—he said when we were talking about how we can’t believe we had to go through all of it... our baby was born & died... that he didn’t feel negatively impacted by the entire experience at all. I totally agree with him—I feel like, if anything, we were positively impacted by all of it. That doesn’t mean that it wasn’t hard (and sometimes unbearable), but I truly think we are all better off for having gone through it, from beginning to end."

Wow. Four weeks later, and they are talking about the positives.

I know, without a doubt, that baby mac's time here with us... and I am including all his time here, from Claire's pregnancy until he was born & died... has changed me. Some changes are small, others are bigger. But I am changed for the good, and I hope that everyone reading this, and everyone who shared this experience with us, is changed as well.

Claire & Jeff are so thankful for baby mac, and the time they got to spend with him, and they are also filled with hope for the future- the future in general, and the future for their family. Lydie still doesn't "understand" (do any of us, though?!) but she walks around the house pointing to all of the beautiful pictures of "baby mac". She knows that he is her brother, and he is in Heaven. For her it is pretty simple- that is all there is to know :)

As always, a million thanks. Thank you for choosing to walk this journey with our family, for your continued kind words, notes, and prayers. We will never be able to adequately express our appreciation to you all. Just know that we are thankful for all of you being a part of our lives.

Claire wanted me to end this post on a 'light' note... by sharing some of the funny moments we have experienced in the midst of the sadness. These are as much for us to remember, as to share with you all :)

When we got to the beach after mac died, we were on the elevator... my four year old, Thomas, says, after tapping on Claire's tummy (keep in mind, she had delivered a baby four days prior)...

"Aunt Claire, your baby isn't in your tummy anymore, right?"

Claire said "That's right... you remember, baby mac is in Heaven now"

Thomas says, after a moment's thought, as he taps her tummy again...

"So, why is it still a little bit fat right there?"

Wow... out of the mouths of babes... Claire and I were doing everything in our power not to laugh out loud, but have had many laugh-out-loud moments about it since.

Another funny one, although it wasn't too funny at the time- at the time, I was sincerely questioning my judgement as a mother...

The funeral home had called me to let me know that baby mac's ashes were ready to be picked up. As it is summer, I had both my boys with me, and didn't think much about taking them along. On the way, I prepared them that this was a funeral home, where people come to make arrangements after someone dies. We needed to be quiet and respectful, and be on our best behavior.

The nice lady at the desk went to retrieve the remains, and returned down the hall, carrying a white box. As she got closer, we could see the sticker on the side of the box that read "remains of baby mac leland barnett".

JD, my six year old, leans in to me and asks in a stage whisper... "Mommy... is baby mac in that box?"

The funeral home lady's eyes got as big as saucers, incredulous- I am sure- that I had not done a better job of explaining things to my children :)

As I said, it wasn't too funny at the time (imagine the conversation we had in the car on the way to the Barnetts after that), but we all still laugh about JD's innocence & surprise!

One last 'funny'...

A week ago, while Claire & Jeff were working in the yard, Claire dropped a sharp garden tool on her foot. Apparently, it was pretty dramatic- my dad took off his shirt to wrap around her foot to stop the bleeding, and Jeff carried her up to the house in a wheelbarrow (that visual is funny enough alone, isn't it?)

Anyway, they decided she might need some stitches, and went to the local urgent care place. In the process of gathering information, the doctor learned, in short order that: Claire had had a baby three weeks prior... they were trying to stay "busy" working in the yard... she was not breastfeeding... and she was going back to work the next day. Claire said she & Jeff just couldn't "go there" about mac, and how he had died, right then, but when they left, they realized that the doctor must have thought they were the worst parents on the planet!

Laughter is healing, for sure :)

love kathie

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

home again

"I sought the Lord, and He answered me;
He delivered me from all my fears"
Psalm 34:4

Looking back on baby Mac's short time here with us, I can see things a little more clearly... of course, I know, hindsight and all of that. But what I know is that there were a couple of things we were all very anxious about leading up to Mac's birth. Claire & Jeff, especially, were anxious that Mac not suffer. We worried about whether his time here would be frantic, or chaotic. We agonized over how the day was going to go, how it was ever going to be 'ok' to say goodbye to him.

We asked that you all pray for these things and we prayed for these things, mostly for peace for our family, for comfort for baby Mac, and for calm in the delivery room. What is amazing to me now is that the entire day of his birth and death passed without me giving a thought to any of these things... because God took care of it. There was tremendous sadness, ongoing grief, and pain. But all of the anxieties and worries that we had were never really relevant. Amazing, isn't it?

I think we all have times where we have gotten as far as we are going to get on our own, and realize we aren't going any further alone. When we let God take over, we can go on. Claire & Jeff clearly made that choice, to have faith that God was with them that day and every day.
I am posting a picture that I took of Claire, Jeff & Lydie at the beach last week. What a week it was, of beautiful weather, lazy days and time with family. I don't think any of us would deny that we were burying our heads in the sand a bit, that we left to get away from the reality of life without Mac. But the reward was that we bought ourselves some time where we could get past the initial raw grief. What I want you to see in the picture of the Barnetts is their smiles, the light in their eyes, the joy that they were able to take in Lydie while we were away.

So many people have shared with me their admiration of how Claire & Jeff have handled the loss of Mac, and I too have been impressed with their grace, strength and perspective. They had a choice, from the beginning of all this. They could have chosen to wallow in their grief, to be angry, and to let the sadness consume them. But clearly that is not the path they have chosen. They are rejoicing in their time with baby Mac, grateful for the peace we all had that blessed day, and hopeful for the future.

Claire has said to me a number of times since this all began in April that she hoped that she wouldn't be defined by this. She didn't want to be the girl that people saw and said "there is the girl whose baby boy died". After watching them the last couple of weeks, I have to say that I hope the opposite for them... I hope that they are defined by this time, that people will say "there is the family who lost their baby boy soon after he was born. See how they rejoiced in the blessing of him. And look at how they have continued to hold their heads high and celebrate the blessings that God holds for them."

Jeff went back to work on Monday, and Claire will as well next week. As I have said before, life goes on and we all take time each day to remember Mac, to think about his precious face and to see the incredible impact that he made on so many people in such a very short time. It seems like everywhere I go, people share with me how they were touched by Mac's story, inspired by his brief life, and how they have changed in their daily lives because of him. Many moms have shared that they hold their own children a little closer each night, thanks to the reminder that our children are only ours for a little while- blessings on loan from God.
We continue to be so grateful for your prayers, and would ask that you continue to pray for Claire, Jeff and Lydie. The missing of Mac is hard, and sometimes creeps up on them when they least expect it. I imagine that will be the case for quite a while. Tomorrow, it will be two weeks since Mac was here with us. Thank you for walking this road with us, for your kind words and hugs when we see you, and for remembering Mac.

"Do not be anxious about anything,
but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
present your requests to God.
And the peace of God,
which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus"
Philippians 4:6-7

love kathie
p.s. happy birthday Lydie-we will be celebrating her 2nd birthday tomorrow!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Hi Friends,

Sorry for the recent lack of updates...Thanks to the incredible generosity of our dear family friends the Sextons, we are having a healing and restful week at the beach. The Sextons offered us the use of their beautiful home near Seaside FL this past weekend. Monday morning, Claire, Jeff, and I piled the kids into the car and drove down. We have a beautiful screened porch overlooking the Gulf, the perfect pool for the children, and gorgeous white sandy beaches which had Lydie exclaiming, "Snow!"

After Jeff's parents returned to Dallas on Saturday, the Barnett house was feeling a little too quiet. Claire and Jeff were not emotionally or physically ready to get back into their regular routines this week, but at the same time a week spent just hanging around the house was not what they needed. We are so grateful to be here, the children are having a fantastic time and the water truly is theraputic.

We'll return by this weekend. I'll let everyone know when we're back.

We continue to be profoundly grateful for the well wishes, notes, messages, flowers, and all of the special things people have know who you are. Please keep up the prayers, I think Claire and Jeff's re-entry to "reality" might be difficult. We talk about Baby Mac alot, and they are so thankful for the special time they got to spend with him last Thursday. Short of a miracle and his complete healing, they could not have asked for the day to go any better.

love Kathie

Saturday, July 26, 2008

A note from Claire and Jeff


I am not quite sure where to start this post--I guess the best way to do it is to say that there is no way that I can even attempt to be as eloquent as Kathie has been throughout her postings here, so I am not even going to try. Jeff and I felt like it was very important for us to post here ourselves so that we can thank all of the people that have helped us so much through this journey, including thanking all of you who have kept up with us this week through this amazing blog Kathie created.

We continue to grieve so deeply for Mac, but at the same time we also continue to celebrate the beautiful experience welcoming him into the world on Thursday, and also letting him go. My dad said tonight that he couldn't have scripted Thursday any better, and we couldn't agree more. We are the proud parents of a beautiful baby boy whose memory we will always cherish, and we are so glad we were able to meet him and spend the limited time we had holding and loving on him. We know he touched so many people in his short life, and are comforted by that.

While this journey has been incredibly difficult, we have focused on the silver linings we've seen. We are thankful for so many things--our marriage has never been stronger, and our families never closer. We have reconnected with old friends and made new ones. We've held Lydie a little closer each night, and I think have become better parents. Life is a little sweeter because of Mac, and we are thankful for that. Most importantly, we would not change a thing about the last 9 months and having Mac in our lives.

And how can we properly thank Kathie for all that she has done for us? She has been our rock through these incredibly difficult times, from the first dark day in April when our worlds were turned upside down, through my stay in the hospital in May, and in helping us prepare for Mac's birth and his death. When I just didn't feel up to talking to anyone, she would talk for me. When I had unimaginable phone calls to make, like to the funeral home last week, she made them for me. When we needed an ear to listen or a shoulder to cry on, she was there, most of the time holding back her own emotions in order to be strong for us. When I told her I was looking for a blanket to wrap Mac in when he was born, she gave me the blanket she had already bought for him the week before. When we needed our space after Mac was born, she made sure it was given to us. When we needed to tell the nurses that we were ready for them to take Mac's body, she told them for us. When I didn't know what we would do with Mac's ashes, she gave us the sugar bowl, which is just perfect. She did all of these things, and so many more, because she loves me and Jeff, and especially because she loves Mac.

She has so accurately described our emotions and our experiences in the email updates that she sent since I first was in the hospital in May and in her amazing posts on the blog. She has brought so many of you into our lives, and we have felt your thoughts and prayers. They have lifted us up these last few months, and they will continue to do so. She has shown me what true, unconditional love is, and I have never been more grateful to have her as my sister, and I'll never be able to thank her for all that she has done. So, Kath, the best I can say is thank you.

And, finally, thank you to all of you for all you have done for us--we have been humbled by all of the love of friends and strangers alike, shown through prayers, notes, calls, meals, offers to babysit (or Bella-sit!). I would love to thank everyone by name, but that would make an already-too-long blog entry a lot longer. Suffice it to say that we are lucky people!

Thank you for being a part of our lives, and for loving baby Mac with us.

Much love,

Claire and Jeff

Saturday Morning

If you have a moment, we would love for you to see a few other pictures that Elizabeth Smith has posted on her blog. Go to and click on 'view blog'.

Things are peaceful here at Claire & Jeff's. I actually slept here last night, as I couldn't bear to be in my house alone again, and I am so glad I did. Jeff is making pancakes now (or as Lydie calls them cacakes) and it just feels right here. Doug and my boys arrive home this afternoon, and I will be so, so happy to have them home.

Yesterday, when we went to sign the paperwork at the funeral home, Claire chose to stay in the car... she had given birth about 20 hours prior, and was still in her pajamas. So, Jeff and I went in and met with a wonderful woman, and wrapped everything up. At the end she said... "is the mother here? I need her to sign some of these legal papers" I said "actually, she is in the car..." thinking I would get a strange reaction from her. But, she didn't even bat an eye... she said "OK then, let's go!" and the three of us marched out to the car with the paperwork and a clipboard so that Claire could sign. What a blessing for us, that she was so accomodating, and somehow managed to act like it was the most normal thing in the world. Afterwards, Claire shared with us that she now knows what it is like, as a dog, to be left in a hot car! We all had a good laugh from the whole experience.

There is still a lot of grieving going on, but we are having more moments of thankfulness, awareness of our blessings, and joy for the everlasting peace Baby Mac is having in Heaven. As we have all said many times, he is the lucky one... he got his reward, and we are the ones left behind with our sadness. The missing of him is intense and the only 'silver lining' is the beautiful pictures that Elizabeth took, which truly captured the memories for us.

Thank you all for your calls, emails. comments here on the blog, cards, flowers, donations, and meals. We are so touched by everything you all have done, and continue to be humbled by the love and support you have shown us.

love kathie

Friday, July 25, 2008


Hi Friends,

Claire and Jeff came home this morning. They are so glad to be here! All four grandparents have taken Lydie on an outing to the toy store to choose some gifts for her 2nd birthday, which is coming up. We sent them in Doug's truck, as I am sure they will bring home a truckload of goodies!

Claire, Jeff and I are going on one errand to complete the paperwork for the cremation. They are ready to get that over with. Last week while my family was at Tybee, a dear family friend who is an artist helped us with a special creation... the boys, doug and I and our friend JoJo (as my boys call her) painted a container for Baby Mac's ashes. It is actually a sugar bowl with a lid, and that is what we are all calling it... the sugar bowl. It is baby blue, with some sweet clouds on the top and pretty grasses on the bottom. All of our fingerprints are on the bottom as well and it says "we love you, baby mac".

Claire & Jeff slept very well last night and are feeling much better, both physically and emotionally, this morning.

Things are seeming a bit surreal today, after all that happened yesterday. Everyone is looking around at each other, wondering what to do next... the reality is that Lydie needs to be cared for, they need to eat, and the dog needs to be walked. Life, and all of its normalcies, are going to be good therapy for them in the coming days.

It is good to be home.

Thanks for the prayers.

love kathie