Friday, August 10, 2012

My Name is ANDREA

My name is Andrea.... and I was going to have a baby, but I had an angel instead.

I think my husband would agree when I tell you that I am married to my soul mate. If there was ever any question about this in either of our minds, it has been banished to the land of non-existence by the experiences we have had over the last 5 or 6 months.

We were married 5 years ago after dating for about a year. I was working as a singer/songwriter in Los Angeles and my hubby just happened to be the hunky quarterback at UCLA. A match made in Heaven, I promise.

We were lucky enough to become pregnant with our first little guy, Cash James, about 8 months after we got married. Even though I  had been pretty much a "career woman" up until that point, the adjustment to mommy-hood was easy and natural for me. I have always pictured myself having a herd of little rug rats running around.

When Cash was about 1, I had an interesting experience where I had visualized a little rosy-cheeked blonde toddler girl playing with Cash in his crib. I couldn't get the image out of my mind and for some reason decided to take a pregnancy test, even though we had not been "trying" and my monthly visitor was not yet late. We were ecstatic to find out that we were pregnant again! I was certain it was going to be a girl.

Unfortunately, I was never able to know for sure because I miscarried around 8 weeks. It was by far the most horrific experience of my life up until that point. I was already so attached to that little jelly bean.

I went on to miscarry two more times over the next two years. All the while hoping I would eventually get that little blonde sweetheart I had seen so vividly. Just when we had almost lost all hope and were ready to schedule an appointment with a fertility clinic, I got pregnant again. This time we took every precaution possible, including supplementing hormones to help my body sustain the pregnancy. Those crazy hormones made me more sick then I had ever been with my son, but I really didn't care as long as my baby was growing healthy and strong inside me. And at that point it was.

At 14 weeks we found out what we already knew, it was a girl! We could not have been more excited. My husband maybe not as excited as myself, considering the shopping started shortly after. Time seemed to fly by quickly until about 24 weeks when we learned something we did NOT already know about our little princess. She was not well. Her kidneys did not seem to be functioning on their own and as a result I had lost all amniotic fluid. I was encouraged to end the pregnancy due to the risk of her compressing her cord inside and the wear and tear my body would receive from carrying her with no fluid. That was not an option for me. I would carry her until she had a better chance of survival on the outside.

The next several weeks were filled with appointments, crying, appointments, googling kidney diseases, crying, and more appointments. I was angry at myself and my body because I felt like I had done this to her. A part of me wanted an exact diagnosis and the other part wanted the doctors to stay puzzled because it left more room for hope. Hope that my little girl would come out and live. But, I was told at every appointment, that the chances of that happening were slim to none.

All the negativity was making it hard to stay healthy physically and emotionally. I decided that in order to give my baby girl a fighting chance at life, I NEEDED to be healthy myself. Rather then dwell on all the things that could possibly go wrong, I chose to put my focus on being grateful. I was grateful for everyday that I got to carry her. I was grateful for every little kick and wiggle I felt her GIVE. Because that's what she was doing. She was GIVING me the reassurance I needed to make it through another day.

I gave birth to Clara Michele at 36 weeks by c-section on May 25, 2012.

She was 7 lbs. I'm proud of that because I worked hard to get her that big before letting her out :-) At first she shocked us all because her appearance was nothing like what the doctors had warned me about. They had said she would have many physical problems but I swear to you she was one of the most beautiful babies I had ever seen. Rosy cheeks and silky blonde hair. Just like I had known all along.

It wasn't long before we knew that she would only be with us a short time, though. She had to be hooked up to every machine possible and her little body was just hanging on by a thread. We gathered all the family members who had been so anxiously awaiting Clara's arrival and were able to hold her and enjoy her during the last few hours of her life. We dressed her, changed her, sang to her and told her how much we loved her. I know it sounds crazy but I knew the instant she passed. It was during her 14th hour of life. There was a definite change in the room as soon as she went from being our beautiful baby to being our sweet little angel. I can still feel her with me today.

It has been two long months since the day Clara became our angel. We have learned from the autopsy results that my husband and myself BOTH happen to carry a rare gene for a disease called Auto Recessive Polycystic Kidney Disease. And we just HAPPENED to marry each other. Each one of our children have about a 25% chance of being born just like Clara. There are procedures that can now be done to screen for this disease while doing InVitro Fertilization. There are also procedures being developed to help save babies that are born just like Clara. 

My daughter has given me an amazing gift. If you're like me and you believe that there are spirits in heaven waiting to come down and receive a physical body as someone's child, then you understand why I am so grateful to Clara Michele for sacrificing herself so that her brothers and/or sisters will have a better chance at a healthy body.

I still have hard days when I miss her so much that I can't even stand to think about it. But most days, I choose to focus on the way her short little life has changed myself, and everyone around me, for the better. I am now joining with one of the National Foundations for Polycystic Kidney Disease, to raise money by writing a few songs that will be downloadable with a donation in support of making the procedures I mentioned earlier more readily available to families like us. Families who wanted to have a baby, but got an angel instead.

**Remember that the purpose of this series is to open our hearts, to interact, to uplift, to support and to GROW. Andrea will be reading your comments so, you may comment directly to her. Also, if you'd like to keep in touch and download her songs when they become available, Andrea has a BLOG you can follow. She has so much talent! 

P.S. I am overwhelmed at just how much this series has filled my heart these last few months. You women inspire me... there is so much love...  both in those participating and those commenting. I hope you all feel it, too. 

I love you all... so very, very much.


  1. Andrea, thank you for sharing your story. I'm so so so deeply touched. Clara Michelle is truly an angel, and so are you for giving her the chance to become one. I admire your courage and strength!

  2. Andrea, thank you for this post, I'm crying tears of admiration for your strength in sharing this so soon. You have a beautiful family and a beautiful spirit. Please keep us posted about when and where we can find your songs!

  3. You have such a beautiful family Andrea! Thank you for sharing your tender story. Clara Michelle is such a fighter and will always be with you. Someday you will be with her again! What a sweet reunion it will be for you. :)

  4. Amazing story amazing woman amazing family. Live you Andrea! Love you Jace!

    Cassidy Legg

  5. What a beautiful tribute. You are an angel for lifting us up and sharing your story of faith and courage. Thank you

  6. Such a beautiful story, Andrea! I love how positive and uplifting you have been through this time. You and your family continue to be in our nightly prayers. What an amazing mama that sweet angel has.

  7. Thank you for sharing your beautiful story. You are incredible woman.

  8. Andrea is such a wonderful example of finding something bad then turning it around to make something good! She is yet another amazing woman you have highlighted Jacy. Thank you for sharing such uplifting stories and lives with the world. Ever since I heard about Clara I have tried to have more joy in the small moments with my children and being more grateful. You are both great examples to me!

  9. I feel your pain dear Andrea because I too have been on this same road that you are on and I
    know how very hard this journey is for you and your little family. Please remember that TIME
    will HEAL your broken heart and things will become a bit easier each and everyday!

    "I know I'll see the sun shine bright
    upon my baby's face...
    When I finally get to heaven,
    all my pain will be erased.

    We'll soar the skies together,
    as angels two by two.
    We'll have a sweet reunion,
    this mother's dream come true."


  10. Andrea- you absolutely amaze me.

  11. Your attitude through all if this is truly inspiring. It amazes me. Clara is the most beautiful angel!

  12. Tears. I'm so sorry for your loss but grateful for your willingness to share.

    Maybe one of these years you can do the Running with Angels 5K. My friend is the one who started it. She has two angels and has touched a lot of lives with this race. (they don't yet have the 2012 photos, etc. up, but this has been an annual event for years. I helped with it in the early years and was really moved ... it's a special race.)

  13. Such a touching story and so inspirational. Thank you for sharing your optimism in times of trouble and your love as a mother. It brought tears to my eyes.

  14. I know your joy and pain of having an angel. Our little girl lived for 26 hours. I had the opposite and had too much fluid and had to get drained. Just from my experience, it will get harder before it gets easier, but it will get easier. My thoughts go out to you and your family.

  15. Your story reminds me of one of my favorite sayings.........."MOst people only dream of Angels...I held one in my arms" beautiful baby, you are such a strong woman....

  16. You are one strong woman to be able to carry your angel until 36 weeks and then have to say goodbye. She is lucky to have such a wonderful mother. She'll be waiting for you in heaven, I'm sure. What a precious little angel. Thank you for sharing your story and helping all of us mothers to be more grateful for our precious little ones.

  17. What a beautiful way to look at her life.

  18. I think you should Google, Blessed by Brenna. Wonderful blog!


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