Monthly Archives: February 2012

What’s Next?

I am supposed to be training for a half marathon that I signed up to run at the end of April.  My training has obviously gotten sidetracked over the past few weeks, so I’m contemplating when I need to get back at it (sooner rather than later).  Since I’m a few weeks into the training plan, I have several “long” runs that are coming up.  When I trained for a half in the fall of 2010, my course that I ran on my longer runs took me past the White Chapel Cemetery in Gladstone.  This cemetery is about a mile from our house.  It’s a cemetery I’ve passed by probably hundreds of times not only on my runs, but when I go to Price Chopper, Hobby Lobby or when I head over to Liberty for the many reasons I go there (shopping, friends, etc.).  Any time I’ve passed by this cemetery and I’ve seen people visiting a grave, I think to myself that I feel bad for them, but then I go about my day much as anyone would.  On Friday, February 24th, we buried our sweet little angel Carter at White Chapel Cemetery.  We’ve suddenly become those people that I used to feel bad for.  Jeff and I went to visit Carter on Sunday and as we stood at his grave, probably 20 cars went by.  I was uncomfortable because I hoped so badly that the people in those cars weren’t feeling bad for us like I did with all those people before.  The cemetery has a section called the “Little Angels” section that they have reserved specifically for children.  For some reason, it comforts me to know that our little angel is surrounded by several other little angels right beside the pond in the cemetery.  I am so thankful that we live so close and we can go visit him whenever we want.  I know we probably won’t always live so close (at least I hope we move to another house at some point in our lives), so we will visit him as often as we can and I will try not to worry about all of those cars driving by.

Saturday was the Celebration of Life service for Carter.  Jeff and I were humbled by the amount of people that came out to support us and our families.  People we hadn’t seen in years came by to offer their condolences.  There are no words to express how much it meant to us to see each and every one of you that were able to attend.  And to those that weren’t able to attend, but kept us in your thoughts that morning, we thank you as well.  Carter’s pediatrician, his doctor from Children’s Mercy and even one of the nurses that helped to deliver him all stopped by for either the visitation or the service.  I was amazed that the labor and delivery nurse remembered his delivery, but as you’ll read in a minute, it’s no wonder how she remembered our sweet Carter.  :o)

We asked Jeff’s sister to write a Celebration of Life “eulogy” of sorts that Pastor Seth read during the service.  With her permission, I’ve included that as part of this entry.  It was fantastic, getting lots of laughs and probably a few tears from those present.

proud mommy and daddy

“September 30, 2011- Text from the expecting Daddy….

2:12 p.m. – “She just did some test pushes. They are going to get the room ready here soon. So we are moving right along.”

2:48 p.m. – “Everything going down now…”

4:13 p.m. – “Carter Benjamin is here, 10lbs 12oz 23 inches. Everyone is good.”

That is how I was introduced to our wonderful nephew, Carter Benjamin. After reading the text in the waiting room of North Kansas City Hospital, I had to pick my jaw up off the floor. My Mom and Dad of course wanted to know why my reaction was the way it was. I told them everything was good and that I would let Jeff tell them the particulars, knowing he wouldn’t want to miss the look on their faces once he informed them that Darcy just gave birth to a toddler. Of course, Mom and Dad delivered a reaction we were hoping for. Sympathy instantly went to Darcy and I knew she was thankful for the epidural!

Following that momentous day, our lives became richer and richer. We got to marvel at the wonder of a newborn’s Mohawk. (Bill was jealous!!!) We even laughed at the fact that Carter’s weight shortly after his birth was quickly approaching his twin cousins who were 1 ½ years older than him. Finally, the family got to watch Jeff and Darcy’s life change. They too joined the army of parents who let loose and became, dare I say, gooey. (How could you not with a smile like Carter’s and those beautiful sparkling blue eyes.)

Carter’s cousins were also enjoying the change to our family. Lucas constantly wanted to know what “Carter B.”, as we liked to call him, was doing. Lily was always very concerned when Carter lost his pacifier. And as for Jack, he was ready to play whatever game Carter was playing, even if Carter wasn’t looking for a playmate.

One of the last fond memories Bill and I have of Carter is that of Super Bowl evening. Carter B. and his daddy were sitting on the couch and Carter was “yelling” at the TV, just as I have watched my brother do for so many years. I thought, poor Darcy, she is going to have to go somewhere else to watch the KU games when Carter gets older if she plans on being able to hear any of the game. After that, I got to have a good cuddle with Carter and sing some of our favorite songs together. I cherish being able to have that moment, especially since it would be my last with our Carter B.

To Carter B… Our lives have been enriched by having you a part of them, though it was too short.   Yet in those four months, you have given us memories for a lifetime.   As we carry those memories with us we will be forever grateful to you for always brightening any day. We will love you forever and always.”

Oh, sweet Carter B.  We are so thankful to have been able to spend 4 ½ amazing months together and be as gooey as we could.  I’ve heard from so many people over the past few weeks that they are hugging their babies more often.  I’m so glad to hear that because I think we all get caught up in all the silly stuff in life and don’t take the time to focus on what’s really important.  I’m just as guilty as anyone of this.  What is important is the time you spend on your relationships with friends and family.  I hope that as the weeks go on and we get farther removed from this, that people continue to give their babies (no matter how old they are) an extra squeeze and smooch each day and that they will tell their babies they love them.  One thing I’m so confident of is the fact that I know Carter knew he was loved by us.  Jeff and I probably told him 20 times a day how much we loved him.  He probably got that many smooches from us too (maybe more) every day.  I liked to call Carter my little love bug.  Oh, how I miss my little love bug…

I’ll leave you with this poem that we found and used in the bulletin for Carter’s Celebration of Life service.  It pretty much sums up all of my feelings.  Thank you again to everyone for your continued prayers and support as we move into the next phase of our lives.  We will forever be thankful.

There is a special Angel in Heaven

that is part of me.

It is not where I wanted him

but where God wanted him to be.

He was here but just a moment

like a night time shooting star.

And though he is in Heaven

he isn’t very far.

He touched the heart of many

like only an Angel can do.

So I send this special message

to the Heaven up above.

Please take care of my Angel

and send him all my love.

Author Unknown

Much love—

Darcy & Jeff

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Obituary

This is the obituary that will run in the KC Star on Friday.

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CARTER BENJAMIN LUCAS – Carter Lucas, 4 months, passed away February 18, 2012 surrounded by family.  Born September 30, 2011 in North Kansas City, MO to Jeff and Darcy Lucas.  Carter laughed and smiled and brought joy and happiness to everyone that he came into contact with.  Survivors include his parents of Gladstone, MO, maternal grandparents, Ben and Nancy Tice of Morrowville, KS; paternal grandparents, Wayne and Nancy Lucas of Gladstone, MO; and many aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends.  A Celebration of Life service will be held at 11 am Saturday, February 25, 2012 at Northminster Presbyterian Church.  The family will receive friends from 10-11 am Saturday at the church.  In lieu of flowers, donations can be made directly to the family (Jeff and Darcy Lucas, 3603 NE Apple Tree Ln, Gladstone, MO  64119) or to Children’s Mercy Hospital (Children’s Mercy Hospital, Attn: Resource Development, 2401 Gillham Road, KC, MO 64108 or online).  All donations made in Carter’s name to Children’s Mercy Hospital will go directly to the PICU unless otherwise designated.

Celebration of Life

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep

We continue to be amazed by the support everyone is providing us. Thank you to everyone for the food, visits, texts, emails, phone calls, etc.

We will have a Celebration of Life service for our sweet, little angel on Saturday, February 25, at Northminster Presbyterian Church, 1441 NE Englewood Rd., Kansas City, MO.  We will greet visitors from 10-11, then the service will start at 11:00.

Carter’s obituary will run in the KC Star on Friday.

A New Angel

Happy, sweet boy in his jumparoo

This has been the most difficult week of our lives. Jeff and I were so hopeful for Carter’s recovery. The MRI on Thursday showed significant brain damage. This was news we were expecting but definitely weren’t ready to hear. I had that feeling in my gut. Mother’s intuition if you will. From the moment I woke up that morning, then listened to the doctors morning report as they were doing rounds, I just knew. I knew that when we met with the doctor that afternoon they were going to tell us the news we feared most…that Carter’s brain had too much damage to lead a healthy and productive life. The parts of the brain that allow Carter to breathe on his own, to swallow and gag, and to perform many other functions, are severely damaged and won’t heal.
We had Carter baptized Friday morning. This was something we had discussed several times, and intended to have done this summer. Pastor Seth from Northminster (where we were married) was very kind to come to the hospital and do this for us. The hospital provided us with a baptismal gown and the Christian Church in Morrowville sent a prayer shawl that we covered Carter with. It was a touching moment for us.
Hug your babies tight and close as often as you can. You never know when your lives might change in an instant. Carter’s nurse let us hold him Friday night. It was the best moment I’ve had all week. I missed holding him in my arms. Jeff and I both gave him more kisses than we could count.
In the days after Carter was born two tragedies occurred. One of my former students passed away and baby Lisa disappeared. One morning as I took a bath shortly after we came home from the hospital, I sobbed because of Drew’s passing because I felt so awful for his parents to have to experience that loss when I was just getting to experience such joy with our little Carter. I hoped to never experience such a loss. Baby Lisa disappeared just 5 days after Carter was born and her parents live only 10 minutes or so from where we live. I got many sleepless nights for a couple weeks because I was so afraid someone was going to take our baby Carter. Every time I would hear a creak in the house or a leaf rustle during the night, I would get up to check on him just to make sure he was still there. I couldn’t imagine how they must have been feeling. Now I know.
We can’t begin to express how much we appreciate the kind words, thoughts and prayers over the past week. We are in awe of our friends and family for all of the compassion you have showed us this week, and will show us in the weeks to come. We are about to embark on one very difficult journey. We are having a difficult time understanding “why”. Maybe some day an answer will come to us, but right now, we just can’t grasp it. Four months just wasn’t long enough. Pastor Seth made me feel more at peace when he reminded us that all Carter ever got to experience was love and joy. He never had to experience any of this crappy stuff in life. He is loved by so many. The security guards, doctors and nurses at CMH all witnessed the love so many have for Jeff, Carter and I. It makes us feel lucky to have so many people that will be here to support us in the coming weeks and months (and years).
Carter’s journey was a short one here on earth, but he will forever be our little angel up there in heaven. Carter Benjamin (or Carter B. as he was affectionately called by his cousins) passed away on Saturday evening. He will forever be in our hearts. Please pray for Jeff and I as we embark on this next chapter of our life.

Thursday, February 16, 2012 8:56 PM, CST

The MRI results today were not encouraging.  We appreciate all of the support everyone has given us, but we need some time as a family to process the information the doctors gave us today.  Over the next few days, we are only going to allow immediate family members to visit the hospital as we take time to process.

Thanks for all of the prayers and continued support.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012 9:30 PM, CST

The last picture I ever took of Carter on 2/6/12.

Jeff and I are so overwhelmed by the outpouring of support by our family, friends, co-workers and complete strangers during this incredibly difficult time.  We are trying to take it one day at a time and be patient with our little Carter (although it’s very difficult). It’s hard to believe that just a week ago, my biggest worry was keeping Carter from scratching himself up all over his face and keeping his dry, bumpy skin moisturized. I must admit that when I look at posts on Facebook and people are complaining about this, that or the other, I want to say “want to come switch places with me for a day?”  Funny thing is, I was that person a week ago. I am in a constant state of worry at this point. You know that sinking feeling you get in your stomach when you’re nervous about something?  I’ve been walking around with that feeling since that day.

Jeff and I have been trying to stay strong for each other, but we have our moments where we just have to break down and ask “why?”.  It just doesn’t make sense. It isn’t fair. Why OUR baby? Our baby Carter is perfect. He’s a little big, but he’s perfect. :o) He’s happy.  He doesn’t fuss a bunch (unless he’s hungry and we all know he loves to eat). He’s a good sleeper. He smiles a lot.  He giggles when mommy tickles him under his neck or counts his ribs and when daddy bounces him on his knee.  He’s perfect.  I miss his smiles.  I miss being able to hold him.  I miss being able to tickle him.  I miss his cries.  I miss him waking me up in the middle of the night. I miss his laughs as he jumps up and down in his jump-a-roo. I miss it all so much.  We pray that Carter will be able to do all these things again.

The doctors and nurses here at CMH are amazing.  They transitioned Carter over to a team of doctors that will care for him on a long term basis.  This gives us comfort to know that they will all be “in the know” about his situation. There are many unknowns at this point.  They don’t know how long he wasn’t breathing, so they don’t really know the extent of brain damage at this point.  They are encouraged by the fact that all of Carter’s other organs are working.  He is even peeing and pooping like he should be.  When Jeff and I were in this morning, his nurse was changing his poopy diaper and I couldn’t have been more excited to see it!  Strange?  Some might say yes, but it was something “normal” for me to see.

The doctors are planning to do an MRI on Carter tomorrow (Thursday).  This may, or may not, give us more insight into the parts of Carter’s brain that were damaged when he went without oxygen.  One of the difficult things for us as his parents, is the fact that are so many unknowns.  We want our Carter back, but at this point, the doctors can’t tell us what Carter will be capable of.  All they do know is that we are in for a long wait.  A wait to see how Carter’s brain and body will heal.  This waiting game really sucks.

Today, the doctors did an echocardiogram (I don’t know how to spell it…and don’t feel like looking it up).  They are trying to figure out if he had a heart problem that caused this to happen.  We will update as we get more information.  As of this evening, the echo was inconclusive and they intend to take a closer look with the MRI tomorrow.

Please continue to pray for Carter as well as Jeff, myself and our families.  We are trying to stay positive and hopeful.  The outpouring of support from everyone is what is keeping us going right now.  There aren’t enough words to express how thankful we are for all of the food, magazines, crossword puzzles, prayers and visits.

I promise to not make all of these journal entries this long.  I thought the first one should be long.  :o)

How we got here

February 9, 2012, is where our story begins. I had just left for Nashville for a girl’s weekend that morning and Jeff took that Thursday and Friday off so he could pick up Carter at his regular time from day care. I arrived in Nashville at 8:30.  At about 11:30, I got a phone call from Jeff explaining to me that I needed to get home as soon as possible. He explained that Carter was at day care and his day care provider (Cathy) went to check on him to wake him up to feed him. She noticed something was off because he was white as a sheet. She realized he wasn’t breathing and immediately started CPR and pounding on his chest. Before paramedics arrived, her daughter (an ER nurse) and an ER doctor that she works with, showed up to help.  Paramedics transferred Carter to NKC Hospital then to Children’s Mercy Hospital where Carter remains at this time.  I was able to get on the first flight back to KC from Nashville, and arrived at the hospital by 5:30 that day.  That was the longest 6 hours of my life and I can only imagine what it was like for Jeff.
 
So our journey begins…