The first balloon ever released...

The first balloon ever released...

Sunday, July 27, 2014


I'm sitting here watching my baby girl Zoe play so happily and I can't help but be so grateful for her. Unlike McKenna who was so thoroughly planned, Zoe was a TOTAL SURPRISE. The honest truth is I cried when I found out I was pregnant with Zoe. It wasn't that I didn't want more children because I love kids and want a big family. It was just the timing that scared me. We had tried so desperately to get pregnant with McKenna, it took over a year of hard work and money to find out that I "have the estrogen levels of an old lady" as my doctor so gently broke the news to me of why we were having such a difficult time.

With Zoe I was fully protected, extra careful, pregnancy no where on my mind and BAM there she was catching both my husband and I completely off guard. I didn't even know how to tell people because at first I was not excited, I was terrified. I was only in my 2nd trimester of medical school, we were not planning on having another child till I graduated (which is 10th trimester = 3 years later). McKenna was only 1. I had just lost all the baby weight, got my hormones back in sync, stopped breastfeeding, just to find out that I was about to start over again and on top of all of that... we were about to be outnumbered. We were about to have 3 KIDS versus 2 PARENTS at the age of 24!!! I was freaking out!

My pregnancy FLEW BY! I guess because I was in school full time and this was my 3rd child I already knew the routine. We ended up buying our first home (which is the same one we are living in now). We moved in and the following week I went into labor. It was the quickest delivery of my life. I remember at one point when I told the doctor I could feel her coming I looked at my husband and asked "Am I dreaming?" We had only been at the hospital 3 hours and an hour of that was just getting registered, all my family had just arrived at the hospital when the doctor said to leave so he could see how far along I was. 30 minutes and 3 pushes later she was out! Once again Zoe had surprised us all. The moment she was born all the worries, doubts and fears left just like I knew they would. She fit in perfectly with our perfect little family. Dominic was happy to have another sister even though he was secretly hoping the whole time she would end up being a boy and I would have to pull McKenna off of Zoe to stop her from smothering her with kisses.

Of Course getting the routine down in the beginning with 3 kids was difficult. I still had to go back to school, Zach still had work, Dominic started kindergarten, and McKenna was in daycare. With a lot of late nights and sleeping in most of my classes we figured it out and then I couldn't even remember what life was like to just have 2 kids. Lucky for me Zoe is the most easy going baby of all. She is always happy, always smiling, always in a good mood. While I was taking care of sassy McKenna, Zoe would wait patiently for me to wait on her. While I was negotiating chores and homework with Dominic, Zoe would still patiently wait her turn. It's like she knew she was the 3rd child and mommy had her hands full. I would keep her up a little later then the other 2 so we could have a little quiet time together and catch up on all the snuggling we missed out on for the day.

As time went on I forgot about all the questions I had asked God during that pregnancy, "why now? Can't you see how hard this is going to be?" "I want to be a good mom so I need more time!" "Couldn't you have waited just a little bit longer?" Never again did those questions enter my mind, even though they were never answered I didn't worry about it. I figured she needed to be here and couldn't wait a minute longer so she came as fast as she could. It wasn't until McKenna passed away that I remembered those questions which seemed to match the same questions I was asking about McKenna "Why now? Can't you see how hard this is going to be" "I want to be a good mom so I need more time!" "Couldn't you have waited just a little bit longer?" It was then that I realized why Zoe came when she did, God knew I couldn't handle McKenna's death without her.

If Zoe wasn't there I would have had a 3 bedroom home for only 1 child (Dominic). I would have a little girls room with no little girl in it. I would have had a bright pink room that would probably have stayed there forever. It would have haunted me, tease me, and be a constant reminder of how miserable I am.  I wouldn't have ANY daughters. I wouldn't have anyone to play with her dolls, grow into her clothes, sleep in her bed, I probably would have made her room like a museum that no one was allowed to go in or touch and then finally one day just give it all away out of hopes of moving on, but I didn't have to do any of that. Zoe makes it all bearable.

She allows McKenna to live on through her, she plays with her toys instead of them sitting there like statues. She sleeps in her bed and listens to me sing just like McKenna use too. She lets me dress her up in her big sisters bows and one day some of her clothes (some outfits though I will probably never be able to see on another blonde hair, blue eyed girl). Although personality wise they are nothing alike, it does make the burden easier to bare knowing that at least I have one baby girl left here with me, Dominic still has a little sister, my husband still has a daughter. Yes, McKenna will still be all of those things to us, but it does soften the blow to see Zoe's smiling face reminding us how blessed we were to have our Kenna Bear in this home and until we can see her again she will live in the smile of her younger sister.

I am so grateful that sometimes God does not listen to me. My mourning would have taken a turn for the worse had it been just my little man and husband. Of course I adore my son but Zoe helps fill the gap that is always present in our home. She can never fully replace it but having her here at this time in our lives is exactly where she needed to be and I think she knew that. I think that's why she came so quick, why she couldn't wait a minute longer, why the Lord sent as fast as He did. He knew that we were about to face a heavy burden, one that no parent should ever have to experience so he gave us our happy easy going Zoe to smooth out the pain and help us to keep breathing, to give us purpose in living, to wear pink.

I know that Dominic will always look out for her and treasure her as his little sister just like he did McKenna. I know he too is grateful that at least we have Zoe and glad that she is not a little brother after all. The Lord always has a plan, He knows what we need before we do. He knew this 2 1/2 years ago before it even happened and He knew we could not handle this trial without help. He knows our pain and suffering. We are given hard trials but even in our darkest hour we are never truly alone.

Thank God for my children, I love them all so much. I ache knowing that Zoe will have no memories of her older sister, in fact she will probably see herself as the first born daughter. That is a hard concept to swallow. McKenna would have been the most amazing sister, she adored Zoe and Dominic with all of her tiny heart. She had a love inside of her that not many others could show the way she did. She loved and loved and loved some more. She often cuddled with Zoe and Dominic. Forced them to hug and kiss her, laughed at their silly ways, followed them wherever they went, held them when they cried and always kissed them goodnight. I know she is watching over them closely in heaven still being Zoe's big sister and Dominic's little one. Oh how I wish she was still here.

I know that with time God will answer the same questions as He did with Zoe. One day I will understand the "why?" behind all of this pain but for now I will be grateful for what He has given me. He gave me hope in my darkest hour, He gave me 2 daughters, a son, a husband, and a home for all of our memories to be remembered in forever. How can I be angry when I have been given so much? I can't be and I won't be, for now I will just remember that there is a purpose behind all things. There is a plan, there is hope, there is love and someday there will be peace.

This is a video of when Zoe was born, McKenna looks so young here to me but you can still see how excited she is. I love every second of this video. I have watched it many many times.

This is just a few seconds after the first video. My favorite part is right when it starts she is saying "shhh" to Zoe because she had been crying. Then you can hear Dominic complaining that "she pushed me away like she is a real guard" because McKenna wanted to hold her and Dominic was hogging the baby so she started to push him off the chair and pull Zoe towards herself.  
Like I said, McKenna was sassy but she is the best big sister Zoe will ever have. 
(P.S. excuse how crazy Kenna looks, she was always a mess no matter how you cleaned her up, this a very typical look for her...bow missing... shoe missing... "bright eyed and bushy tailed". I miss it so much!) 

Here is a photo shoot we did with Zoe when she was about 6 months with a friend of mine
(Although she is almost a year now she looks exactly the same except with more teeth)

The kids hanging out with each other. 

The garage sale was a success! We raised $700 for the Guzman family. We ended up donating it to this family instead because the Stay family said they had reached their goal and requested that we showed someone else the same type of charity so we found 
Stephanie Guzman. 

She is a 15 year old girl whose whole family was also killed and her being the sole survivor of a drunk driver hitting their car here in Houston. We were actually able to meet some family/friends of the Guzman family and they said that she is still in the hospital under very critical condition. She is still unaware of what has happened to her family. 

She was just recently released out of the "coma ward", she cannot speak because she is being fed through a tracheal tube. She can only communicate through blinking. She has several broken vertebra's and needs skin graphs because she was badly burned in the crash. They said she EASILY has a YEAR left of hard rehab/therapy.
It was so hard not to burst into tears infront of this women. I only lost my little McKenna, I can't imagine how horrible it would be to loose your whole family and have to fight for your health at the same time. I mean she is only 15, by the time she is 16 she will hopefully have a full recovery just to start all over again by trying to figure out to be a normal teenager without her loved ones near by.
I am so happy that we reached out to this family. I hope that I can continue to help as she faces many dark days before her.
Thank you for thinking of others, thank you for taking time to consider this family and their pain, thank you for choosing to serve and help Heavenly Father's children.
I know her family is happy with Kenna Bear close by and waiting for us all to be together again. 
Please continue to serve this family as we move on with our daily lives. Your kindness had made a difference and will continue to make a positive difference in her life.


  1. This is beautiful. I love the way you express yourself. The videos are difficult to watch. They are so precious. It is difficult not to have McKenna here lighting up our lives. So thankful that you and Zach shared her with us. I still pray for McKenna. I still long to hold her in my arms. Clark and I pray for your family. Each one is special. Zoe brings joy to all of us. Thank you for sharing her. Clark and I love you, Zach, Steely and Zoe. We too will see her again. Love ya, Memaw and Pepaw

  2. I know I am always talking about your writing but I do not have the words to express how they move and touch and inspire me. I am always just left sitting with tears, smile, heartache and comfort at the same time. The beautifully hard to watch. That smile, love, quick movements and yet so gentle. Dominic and McKenna just LOVE Zoe and look like they would crawl inside if allowed. They are both protective of her, like a tag team. The love and bond are already there, you can see it in the video. Kenna is so lively and adorable and just so cool! She is so smart and fun. Everyone, just loved being with her. I think it is so stinking cute she has one shoe off.....she always was busy, she had things to explore and people to chat with! I love you and Zach in this video, so tender, accepting and holding each other close! You all are amazing!

  3. Shannon, I recently stumbled on a blog of a mama who lost her two year old girl the same day you lost McKenna. The first post on her blog is really similar to your post about Zoe, it's about her little girl Olive. I bet you can relate.