Our Catherine has two sisters, Madeline and Hannah. Madeline is older than Catherine. Hannah is younger. Madeline has vivid memories of Catherine. At this point, Hannah is still too young to understand that she even has another sister despite the fact she replies with “yeah” when we talk about Catherine. (Maybe on some level she really does know about her sweet sister in heaven though.)

Madeline and Hannah’s experiences with their sister, Catherine, are drastically different. Madeline is a major part of Catherine’s story. Someday we will explain to Madeline what an important role she played throughout my pregnancy with Catherine from the “ignorance is bliss” first half of the pregnancy to the growth ultrasound which completely devastated our world to the day Catherine was born and passed an hour later. Madeline gave us purpose. Madeline kept us smiling. Madeline gave the best hugs when we were sad. Madeline reassured us that we were capable of being good, attentive parents despite our broken hearts. Madeline did all of this at just a year old. Madeline was a key player during Catherine’s journey. We needed her as much as she needed us. 

Even though Hannah never met Catherine here on earth, Hannah’s position in the family is no less important. As our rainbow baby, Hannah gives hope. You can feel it in her outgoing, silly, headstrong personality. She is determined to insure her role is not overlooked and greatly appreciated. She brings quite a smile to all of our faces. She, too, gives some really spectacular hugs! And Hannah is only a year old.

Madeline was 22nd months and 5 days old on the day Catherine was born and passed. Over the last month, as Hannah has been approaching this exact age, I’m shocked at how much younger Hannah seems to me compared to Madeline at the same age. Maybe it’s because Hannah is my baby and I wish I could keep her little as long as possible. Or maybe it’s because Madeline was forced to grow up a little quicker due to the grief and sadness she witnessed at such a tender age.

Regardless of the reasons, today Hannah is 22 months and 5 days old. Today is September 22nd. Today is the 5th anniversary of my growth ultrasound with Catherine alerting us to all of the doctor’s worries for our baby girl. Five years ago today our unexpected and devastating journey with Catherine began. I vividly remember on this exact date 5 years ago rocking in the living room, crying while staring into space, rubbing my belly feeling physically sick from my broken heart. I remember wishing I was months if not years removed from that very moment so the intensity of the physical ache was softened. So all of our questions were answered. So our baby’s story had played out. So all of our worries were no more. The burden felt so so heavy that night. It felt impossible to deal with and yet deep down I knew I could. I just didn’t know how yet. I had a lot to process that night. 

This is a sad anniversary for us. Having said that, I can’t help but notice the incredible connection between Hannah’s age today on this anniversary and Madeline’s age on Catherine’s birthday. It’s these connections, these realizations, these subtle nods that give me hope. They give me comfort. They give me reassurance. And now that I am five years removed from that very night, I notice that the pain is still there. It has softened. Our questions were answered. Catherine’s journey was short but her positive impact on this world continues every day through Catherine Cares. We did find joy again especially in our little girls. But I think often about that mom rocking in her living room on the night she learned her unborn baby is not well. I want to hug her and remind her she is strong. She is capable. It won’t always be easy, but she can do this. And she is most certainly not alone. 

As 2014 neared completion, our life was very challenging. We were preparing for the arrival, and expected death, of our daughter, Catherine. We were also planning Catherine’s funeral and buying our family burial plot while trying to keep our spirits for our toddler, Madeline. On the positive side, we came up with the idea of Catherine Cares, filed the necessary paperwork with local and federal governments, and built the initial website. We went public with Catherine Cares on 12/20/14, not knowing Catherine would arrive seven weeks early just 10 days later on 12/30/14.

The immediate support for Catherine Cares was profound, but it was also somewhat shocking as we heard from many friends who suddenly felt empowered to share their own stories. We naively had no idea so many people chose to keep things private.

A few months after we launched, in early 2015, we were given numerous learning opportunities. While support for Catherine Cares continued to grow, some harsh realities were also presented. Specifically, the need to separate our role as Catherine’s parents from running Catherine Cares. This separation was very difficult for the first couple of months after laying Catherine to rest. Has this realization not occurred, our growth and support would’ve stalled and we would’ve never made it to today. Thanks to those who assisted us with this realization.

Families soon began receiving our services through our hospital partnerships within the St. Louis area. Hospitals and families saw value in our services and we quickly spread throughout the midwest. This led us to begin designing and creating new services to assist families. The core of which was our heartbeat bears service.

We delivered our first heartbeat bears to hospitals in early February 2017. Many of our generous St. Louis business supporters such as Ryan Kelley and some of the insideSTL team were there for the initial delivery at various St. Louis hospitals. It was a special day.

Explosive growth followed as hospitals and families throughout the United States and Europe saw the value and impact of our heartbeat bears. This growth required us to focus our energy on being able to maintain and support our current hospital partnerships as well as the numerous new partnerships forming. We pivoted to create numerous programs such as Bucks for Bears as a result, but the growth also meant our existing website design started to no longer fit our needs.

Later that year, on 11/17/17, our family welcomed our third daughter, Hannah, to the world. By now, families from all over were reaching out because they felt empowered to share their stories. Stories of infertility, miscarriage, loss, or a life-threatening diagnoses. We knew they needed a platform to share their stories so we added the empowering families functionality.

While we kept adding to the website to accommodate the new services, programs, and functionality, the website didn’t speak to anyone. Families, restaurant owners, hospitals, businesses, and others would often visit our site, but it had become very disjointed. Our brand and reputation began to suffer from our poor web representation.

Which brings us to today as we launch our new re-designed website which includes additional functionality for website visitors and hospital partners. With the help of Spry Digital, a St. Louis based nationwide company who specializes in positioning companies for success in the digital world, Catherine Cares is now able to effectively speak to our audiences, add additional services, better align with our donors and show visitors the incredible impact we provide to hospitals and families.

We invite you to browse through the website and provide your feedback. If you choose to make a gift or reach out to sign-up for a program or event, we’d be very grateful. But, your feedback on the new site is of the utmost importance. We encourage and welcome all feedback.

Finally, we know we have much left to do. We’re just scratching the surface on the impact we make on families. We have every intention of continuing to do more. Thanks so much for your continued support.

P.S. Be on the lookout as we will soon announce additional ways Catherine Cares will be uplifting even more families!

Catherine Marie Turley

Homily given during her Mass of the Resurrection

January 5, 2015

Sometimes in life we just wonder why? Life on this earth can be so wonderful and beautiful at times. And sometimes it can be so painful, so heart wrenching, so full of tears. And we wonder why? We wonder why does it have to be this way? We just don’t understand.

But we are a people of faith, and, though we may not understand sometimes what life brings us, we do hope in a God who loves us and who does know what he is about. As St. Paul said to us in our Second Reading: “At present we know partially. At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but one day we shall see Him face to face and then we shall know fully as we are fully known by Him.”

This helps. Well… maybe just a little.

As we come to celebrate Mass today and we look around, we are very well aware that it is Christmas. It’s the season where we see the Holy Family in the stable, we hear their story and we hear Isaiah the prophet announce to us:              “For unto us a child is born, a Son is given. His name is Emmanuel, which means–God with us.”

This God who we come before and put our faith in and, whom we sometimes just don’t understand, but who we trust knows what He is about, announces: I am with you – I am with you Lauren – Wayne – Madeline. I am with all of you.

He tells us this–by the birth of a child, His Son, Emmanuel—God with us. And now during this Season of Christmas: “For unto us a child has been born, a daughter has been given. Her name is Catherine Marie, which means—pure.” …pure gift, pure love. And then the prophet Jeremiah gently speaks to her and to all of us—“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you—Catherine.”

Catherine you say, “Ah, Lord GOD!” “I do not know how to speak. I am too young!” But the Lord answered and said, Do not say, “I am too young.” “To whomever I send you, you shall go; whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid, for I am with you to deliver you.”

This God who confuses us at times, we find chooses prophets to speak for Him in this world of ours, like Isaiah, like Jeremiah.

He chooses prophets to serve Him so that He can announce good news to all those in our world. So that He can give hope to the hopeless, comfort to those in sorrow/anguish, so He can bring liberty to those who are held captive- by whatever it may be that is holding His loved ones down. And what we all are quickly beginning to see is that He has chosen Catherine to be one of his prophets today.

Lauren and Wayne in your time of heartache and great testing and sadness, to no surprise of any of us who know you, you two remained opened and you wondered what more might there be in the coming birth of your daughter, Catherine. Was Catherine’s life and story only to be one of sadness? Was there more than this to her precious, little life? In the midst of your grief and with so many questions you came to discover how Catherine’s life was being given as a gift not only for you but for untold and unknown many others in the future ahead.

As you asked yourself these questions, you received little signs, small confirmations, small little insights, which slowly and gradually began to get connected for you, which told you of how Catherine is to be an instrument for God. The two of you in faith while beautifully walking together, as husband and wife, as mom and dad of Madeline and Catherine, you listened for God to speak and you heard him and continue to hear him. For you know—‘God is with you’.

Not that this–or much of any of it makes sense—nor does it take away your sadness—nor somehow makes this ‘all okay’–but as I read what you Wayne had written in your blog on your daughter’s website: “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.” i.e. as you chose her name; as you discussed the question, the color plum.

Through Catherine– as God’s chosen prophet– He is empowered and able to show and announce His presence and His care to so many more now.

The word, ‘to care’, means to ‘lament with’, ‘to suffer with’.   To lament with another person, to share in another’s sufferings, to share in another person’s pain– brings healing. It doesn’t fix it–but it brings comfort, it brings healing into another’s life. This is something Lauren you said on Catherine’s website that your daughter helped you learn even before she had been born. And, as you said there following … “I have a feeling this is one of many life lessons we will learn throughout our journey with Catherine.” So very true.–there are probably many more things to come that your daughter’s life will give you insight to answers to some of the mysteries of this life.

Because Catherine cares many will now find hope in their hopelessness comfort in their anguish, and find some liberty in the heart-ache that they have as she and you and others lament with them.

Jesus says to you and all of us- “Let the children come to me; do not prevent them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” As difficult as this is– you bring your daughter to Him. As God has given her to you as your daughter, you know she was and is His daughter first. He has asked you to walk her to the doorway of His kingdom and this you have both done and are so graciously doing. In your love and in your faith you had her baptized with holy water from our very own font of St. Peter. She is His daughter and His prophet-pure who is ready to be at Home with Him.

And just as Catherine is God’s daughter, whom He loves and cares for, so too are you, Lauren, His daughter and you, Wayne, His son whom He loves and…. He hurts for you.

God sent us His Son so that we all would know He, God is with us. But, He did even more to tell us His love for us. He took on the Cross and He suffered and died for us—there above me,          above the altar. This is so important for us to know, and to remember, and to see…That even when it’s Christmas…He still remains on that Cross—above the altar, because even when it’s Christmas sometimes we don’t feel the joy and we feel pain and loss and sadness. He loves you Lauren and Wayne and just as you might explain to a child how much God loves us by looking at the cross– God loves and hurts for you at this time………t h i s  m u c h….His arms wide open.

I would say that more than ever you are now closer to God, though it may not feel like it. The reason I say this is because you now share a daughter with Him who is closer to Him than anyone else in your life is. And that is your personal pure, heavenly gift. She is your advocate, she is your own personal Saint—freed from sin and born to eternal life. And as you walked her to the doorway we rejoice to know that by God’s grace and mercy one day she may greet you at that doorway and welcome both of you Home.

So we lift Catherine Marie up with our prayers before this altar today— this altar where the bread and wine is transformed into the Body and Blood of His Son, Jesus and we trust and pray that as we lift her up she is transformed into her heavenly life and we ask God to continue to transform all of us in His love and mercy and through the prayers now of His dear, pure, Catherine who cares.

Catherine Marie Turley Testimony given by her father Wayne Turley

What a whirlwind 2014, became for us. From the joy and stress of adding to our family, to the shock of finding out our baby wasn’t healthy, to the reality we wouldn’t bring our baby home, to determining her name, to establishing her legacy, to her passing.

We experienced many emotions during that time. Sadness, anger, pain, rage, grief, agony, misery, and heartache are some of the negative feelings. But there have been other more powerful emotions. Emotions such as gratitude, amusement, inspiration, awe, and most importantly, love.

Love. From the moment we shared Catherine’s many issues with friends and family we received an abundance of love. It’s the only thing Catherine ever knew. While it’s unfortunate she’s not with us and we’ll never be able to see her smile, crawl, walk, play with Madeline, do her hair, dance with her, play catch with her, watch her graduate, or walk her down the aisle, we’ll always be comforted by knowing the one thing she felt while here. Love. How fortunate she is.

Catherine’s name means innocent or pure. Her name perfectly defines her. When she was born, she was cold, awfully tiny, and very weak. But she was peaceful, innocent, pure, and loved. Many doctors and nurses worked with her immediately after birth giving her oxygen, warmth, and other exceptional care, but her issues were too significant for her to live very long. A Chaplin baptized her with holy water from St. Peters shortly after birth. Once baptized, it was time to wrap her up and put her where she belonged, in her mother’s arms. Lauren and I both got to hold her before she went home. We later said our goodbyes, told her we loved her, and said “until we meet again” to our baby girl. We consider these influential and positive memories of a terrible and exhausting day.

Another memory was recalling an email from Fr. Mike. It was an email he sent us shortly after we found out Catherine had so many issues. I believe it’s appropriate to share. His email read:

“Before she became your daughter she was first and remains always God’s daughter. Rest assured she will be okay for our true life and destiny ahead. Her journey in getting there, for reasons only her Father can know, will be much shorter in length of time than either of ours; but, it is her journey and her pathway in getting there. You have been chosen to carry her to the doorway of our eternal home. She will go before you. You will bid her farewell. You will say goodbye. But remember that doorway. One day by the will and mercy of God you will walk through that door and she will be there to say hello and welcome you home. Remember she is God’s daughter. He knows her and will welcome her.”

Fr. Mike, we’ll never be able to properly thank you for your message. It’s one we needed to hear and one we’ll never forget. We also thank the many people who have helped us and prayed for us throughout this time and who continue to do so, but there’s one person who deserves a special thanks. Lauren, thank you for the strength, smiles, and the extraordinary inspiration you’ve been to our family.

While Catherine is no longer with us, she’s not alone. She’s surrounded by many friends and family members who have gone before us. Some who went before us went as newborns or infants themselves; some were friends who were far too young. Uncles, great grandparents, and a grandmother all went before Catherine. I’m certain they were all eager to welcome Catherine, but I strongly believe my mom quickly received her, embraced her, and is spending significant time with her granddaughter.

We’re all given gifts throughout our lives. When our time comes, we should be able to explain what we’ve accomplished with our gifts. While Catherine’s time with us was brief, she possessed, and gave Lauren and me many gifts. Some of her gifts are those of selflessness, helping others, and unconditional love. Catherine’s gifts will be eternal through her legacy which is our non-profit organization Catherine Cares. Through Catherine Cares she’ll assist families whose children receive devastating diagnoses. She’ll pass along to others what defines her. Innocence, purity, and love.

Another 4 weeks have passed. Man, they go by quickly. Time for another appointment with our doctor, Laura. I wasn’t quite as emotional at this appointment. I was feeling pretty good about myself since I have cried through every other appointment to this point.

This started as a typical appointment- how are you feeling? How are both of you doing emotionally? What questions do you have? We also shared with Laura the progress we have made on the Catherine Cares front. It was a nice conversation.

Towards the end of the appointment, Laura informed us I was far enough along to start scheduling appointments every 2 weeks. Ugh. The first sign this pregnancy is coming to an end. I was so excited for this point in the pregnancy while pregnant with Madeline. Yet another reason this pregnancy is just so different.

Laura also suggested we needed to take care of 3 things by the end of December: Have a plan in place for Madeline’s care when I go into labor, pre-register with the hospital, and pack a hospital bag. That’s a dose of reality I wasn’t ready for.

Tears flowed.

With Catherine’s syndrome, it is possible I will go into pre-term labor. In two weeks at my next appointment, I am scheduled for an ultrasound. It is sometimes possible for the doctors to see signs of preterm labor in ultrasounds. We will see if I am showing any signs at that time.

We hugged and parted ways.

We will be back in two weeks.

It is December and we are getting closer and closer to Catherine’s due date. There were two things I wanted for Catherine’s arrival—a little comfortable outfit and a small hat for her precious head. I have been searching numerous stores for a comfortable outfit. I could not find anything I liked. And many of them seemed much too big for the little baby we were expecting. If Catherine goes to term, we were told she will be approximately four pounds. Madeline was 6 lbs 8 oz and she looked like a peanut. I could not picture a 4-pound baby. What I do know is newborn clothes looked much too big for such a little one.

I also wanted a hat. Madeline’s doctor’s office received a generous donation of handmade infant hats. My niece received one after she was born 11 months ago and it was perfect. I knew I wanted Catherine to have one. Madeline happened to need a booster shot so this was my chance to ask for a sweet little hat.

The nurse administering Madeline’s shot was new and didn’t know about the hat donations. I explained why I was asking. After hearing Catherine’s story, she was on a mission to locate the stash of hats. There were two more hats left—a blue one and a yellow one. I chose the yellow one. It was precious. As small as the hat was, I wondered if it would be too big for Catherine. I won’t know until we meet face to face.

This was the first item I collected for Catherine’s arrival. The reality of what was coming was starting to set in.

I cried the entire drive home.

Thanksgiving is probably my most favorite holiday. I enjoy how the entire holiday is focused on family, friends, and food rather than gifts. Wayne and I have hosted a Thanksgiving lunch for the Turley clan for the past 4 years. We really enjoy hosting. Some thought we were crazy for taking that on again this year with everything we have going on with Catherine. But we appreciated the distraction and the chance to feel normal this holiday.

This Thanksgiving was going to be extra special as this was when we planned to share our Catherine Cares idea with our families. We believed this would be a neat way to kick off the holiday season- sharing some joyful news rather than focusing on all of the sadness.


After we finished lunch, we asked the Turley clan to come into the living room. We created a little Powerpoint presentation (we love Powerpoint presentations) with our beautiful Catherine Cares logo (created by our friends, Ken and Julia at Spry Digital) as well as a few notes describing our idea. This was displayed on our television. I almost made it through our presentation without shedding a tear… almost. When we finished, you could have heard a pin drop. The family was speechless. There were a few tears. Eventually, Steve broke the silence, “This is really great guys.” He gave me a big hug.  The rest of the family followed suit.

Later that evening, my mom, dad, and sister came over for a visit. Our Bommarito Thanksgiving was on Friday this year. We were going to wait to share our Catherine Cares idea with the entire family on Friday, but based on the Turley clan’s reaction we couldn’t wait. Their reaction was the same- tears and joy.

Knowing our families were completely supportive and thrilled to see us channeling our grief in a positive way made this Thanksgiving extra special.

It was nice to bring our families some joy to what promises to be a rather emotional holiday season.

Now that Catherine has a name, we can focus on her legacy. Wayne and I have a strong desire to do something to help others and create a legacy for our Catherine.

When the news of Catherine’s diagnosis was fresh, friends and family provided meals for us. We would get a phone call asking if we were home so a meal could be dropped off or an Edible Arrangements bouquet would show up at the front door. We were extremely appreciative of these generous acts of kindness. I do not care to go to the grocery store when my life is cruising along in an acceptable manner. But when my life is in shambles, going to the grocery store feels like running two marathons on the same day without training. These meals meant the world to us.

As we reflected on the first few weeks of this journey, we were trying to figure out a way to take what we had learned and experienced and find a way to help others embarking on their own journey with a child who is ill.

What if we could provide meals for families when they first learn their child’s diagnosis?

Obviously, we can’t physically prepare meals for everyone whose child receives a devastating diagnosis. But we can provide gift cards. That might just work.

What should we call this program?

“Catherine Cares” crossed my mind the day we named Catherine. Later that same day, Wayne and I were washing the cars. At one point he walked passed me and said, “Catherine Cares.” My jaw dropped. “That is the exact name I was thinking,” I replied. We both smiled. We knew we were on to something.

Before we got too far in the planning process for establishing Catherine Cares, we wanted to run this idea passed our doctor. At our next appointment in early November we asked Laura if families would appreciate gift cards to restaurants when they learn their child is sick. She said there is a huge need for this. In fact she was excited at the potential. She confirmed, to the best of her knowledge, nothing exists like this for families. Then we shared the name: Catherine Cares. She didn’t reply right away. The name gave her the chills. She loved it. Laura was 100% on board.

We wanted to run our Catherine Cares plan passed Karen, our Fetal Care Team nurse coordinator, as well. What will Karen think since we are still in the middle of our own journey?

We called it- Karen loved the idea, but she was obviously worried we were trying to take on too much since the hardest part of our story had yet to occur.

We reassured Karen that Wayne and I will be open and honest with each other. We will speak up if we need an emotional break from Catherine Cares and the other one will respect that need.

We also explained to Karen how we needed this. We needed to be productive and focused on something positive. This was our outlet for our grief. We could not sit by and wait with our grief any longer. We had not been able to control anything about this situation. But what we could control was how we chose to handle this situation. Catherine Cares was our choice. Catherine Cares is more than just a nonprofit to us. It is our daughter’s legacy and we are determined to make it a powerful one. Catherine Cares is family.

Karen could see she wasn’t going to change our minds. We appreciate her love and concern as well as her support.

Now it was time to get to work. There are too many families facing a similar journey. They need to know they are not alone.

I feel Catherine every day now. Since she is not as big as her gestational age suggests, it has taken longer for me to feel her more regularly. She pushes against my stomach with her feet or her head or her back for long stretches of time. These little daily jabs, kicks, and head butts are absolutely wonderful feelings to experience. They are little love taps from our baby. It makes me feel even more connected to her than we already are. I find myself talking to Catherine more. I noticed I engage Madeline in conversations about her little sister more regularly. Madeline started kissing my belly and saying, “Hi Baby,” which is music to our ears. Wayne is able to feel and see Catherine’s movements. Our family of four is bonding and connecting on a new level like we would with a typical pregnancy and it feels really great.

One day it hit me, “I finally get it!”

Karen, our Fetal Care Team nurse coordinator, has been saying from the beginning of this journey that she wants us to enjoy this pregnancy. I have been privately frustrated by these remarks. Why would she say that when she knows what the end of this pregnancy means?

But I FINALLY understand what Karen has been saying to us. Now that I can feel Catherine’s movements more regularly I AM enjoying this pregnancy. As a family, we are celebrating and bonding with Catherine. We have no idea how long Catherine will be with us. We have to cherish every little moment with her. And we are. She is not a diagnosis. She is our daughter. She is Madeline’s little sister. We are a family of four.

Thank you, Karen, for encouraging us to enjoy this time with Catherine. It feels good to find the joy in this time together for we do not know how long it will last.

After our initial conversation with Maggie at Mercy, Lauren and I had some decisions to make.  Would we bury our daughter or cremate her?  I hadn’t given any of the options much thought, but Lauren was pretty firm that we would bury her. I was fine with that.

I called a funeral home in the St. Louis area so I could get an idea of what would happen and who we needed to talk to.  The funeral home was very helpful and let me know we would need to select a burial site and a church.

I called a potential burial site location whose first question was if we would want our daughter buried with us.  I said yes and then the follow-up question was to ask where our burial spots were.

Given we are in our mid to late 30’s, I had not thought much about our mortality much less made plans.  The burial site person then discussed the various options for our burial locations, pricing, payment options, etc.  He turned our discussion into a sales pitch using statements like “I’m sure the cost may seem high, but you need to remember we’re paying for operational costs such as lawn maintenance not just for your life, but for eternity.”  I wasn’t pleased with his approach in handling the situation at all.  I said thanks for your time and he told me he’d follow-up with me in a week or so to “close the deal”.  I told him it wouldn’t be necessary and that I’d call him if I needed any additional information.

I found myself angry the rest of the day and week at the thought Lauren and I wouldn’t just be planning our daughter’s funeral, but we would also be planning a portion of our own as part of this.

As the phone calls to various places increased, I became numb to their approach and tactics hiding my anger, but secretly sulking through all of them.  I also didn’t want to distract Lauren with a lot of these decisions. I made various phone calls and gathered the information so when the time came to make decisions I could just give her the answers based on the research I had done.  As the mother, I know Lauren is going through a lot more physically so I felt it was the least I could do and an important task for me to carry out.

Over the next couple of weeks, I gathered the appropriate information and we finalized the primary logistics.  It was a tremendous relief to have those decisions made.

I like Halloween, but I don’t go crazy over it. Ten years of teaching 13 & 14 year olds on Halloween candy sugar highs tend to drain one’s enthusiasm for the holiday. I will say it is much more fun having a small human to dress up in cute costumes though.

For some reason, which I couldn’t explain at the time, I was extremely excited for this Halloween. I bought Madeline’s costume many weeks before Halloween (the extent of my sewing abilities is to replace buttons, barely). I was proud to be prepared even with everything else going on in our lives. We had a great day planned with lots to do and many people to visit. I was really excited about it.

MJT cupcake

Our Madeline was the cutest cupcake you ever did see- we can say that because she is our kid and this is our blog. Madeline was in great spirits. Wayne and I were smiling. Today was going to be a really nice day.

Madeline and I, along with my sister and Madeline’s cousins the construction worker and a mini-Richard Simmons, surprised Aunt Amy at work. Madeline and I visited Daddy at work in costume, of course. After her nap, we had dinner at my parents. We “trick-or-treated” at one location- our parish rectory. And lastly, we visited Wayne’s cousin Tracy and her husband Steve. It was a jammed packed day and I enjoyed every minute of it.

Upon reflection, I realized why I was overly excited about Halloween this year: I was craving a normal day full of fun events to distract my mind from the life altering situation we find ourselves in. Every day since Catherine’s 20-week ultrasound, I have replayed the events of that appointment as well as the diagnosis phone call 10 days later. After replaying those events, my mind tries to “plan” the numerous scenarios we could face with Catherine’s arrival.

Will Catherine survive the pregnancy?

Will Catherine survive labor?

Will Catherine be live born?

How long will we get with Catherine?

Will I go into pre-term labor?

Will I be strong enough to have a VBAC?

Will Madeline and Catherine meet?

How will Wayne and I handle the emotions of that day?

And the list of questions goes on and on in my mind- every day and every night. It is overwhelming and a heavy burden to carry. I’m not good at relinquishing control. In this situation, I cannot control a thing. I know everything is in God’s hands. I know God will be and has been with us every step of the way. So when my mind so easily goes down the dark path of questions, I try to remember to stop and pray to settle my thoughts. When I do this, it is amazing how I find peace… until I let my mind wonder, again. But I will take any relief I can get.

Today’s fun Halloween plans were a much needed break from my own thoughts and worries. I can worry, again, tomorrow.