Friday, January 29, 2010

Five Months Ago Today

We said good bye to MJ. I can't believe it's been five months. My arms still ache for my son each and every day. I have posted a few photos here of MJ's short life. My son amazed every day of his life and has changed my entire being. I will never forget him and I will aim to honor every moment that he gave me for the rest of my life.

MJ and his Teddy!

The first time MJ opened his eyes to see us!

A picture of all of the machines hooked up to MJ, keeping him alive.
He is in the middle of the picture behind the teddy bears!

Holding my son for the first time, and saying goodbye all in the same moment.

Kisses from Daddy.

Monday, January 25, 2010


So after I posted my excitedness about being able to grow milkweed plants so I can attract butterfiles and think about my MJ, one of the plants stopped growing. We planted seeds in two indentical planters. Identical - just like my baby boys. I loved and cared for both of them, and the seeds began to grow in the dirt. Then both of them started to poke through the dirt and began the journey into a flower. But then one of the stopped growing, and has almost retracted back into the dirt. And the other one flourished. This morning, as I was trying to figure out what to do with the plant that has stopped growing, it really made me think. W0w - this is exactly how my babies entered this world. I loved and cared for both of them before they were born, and then when they were born one of the flourised and one of them was so, so sick. Did I do anything differenlty? No, I loved and cared for both of them just them same, so why is one sick and one healthy? So who am I talking about here - my babies or the flowers? I don't understand what I did to make one plant flourish and the other not - and it's the same with my babies. Why was MJ so sick, and Will so healthy? They were identical twins - MJ never should have neen born with CDH.

The symbolism here astounds me. Now I have to figure out what to do with the plant that is sick. I don't even know what I will do if it dies - it may already be. And if it does die, I don't think I will ever be able to throw it away or start fresh. It may always be there - an empty pot full of soil. Just like my MJ will always be with me - gone but never forgotten and always in my heart.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

MJ's Garden

One thing my husband and I really want to do for MJ is grow a garden for him. But we have a few obstacles in our way: we are in the middle of winter, and we are renting the house we live in right now, and we don't plan on living in Topeka, KS forever. But we still really want to do one. For several reasons - it will help us do grow and take care of something for MJ. Because we really should be helping him grow and taking care of him. Second - we want to plant milkweed plants because caterpillar's will only graze on milkweed plants. The reason we want to see caterpillars is because they grow into butterflies. Butterflies have a special meaning to us. The day of MJ's funeral we released 35 butterflies - one for each day that he lived. One of them landed on Will's (MJ's twin) cheek. We think it was MJ saying goodbye one last time to his twin brother.

We came up with a few ideas to help us grow this garden. We are going to plant everything in flower pots so when we move, we can take them with us. Problems solved! We started growing some plants now so when spring comes along, we will have a good base to attract some caterpillars. I have never been able to grow anything in the past, nor I have been able to keep grown plants alive, so I wasn't going to count on anything to grow, but I figured I would give it a shot. Well, yesterday I saw some sprouts coming up out of the flower pots! We are really excited about his because like I said, I have never been able to grow anything before. Now I just have to focus on keeping them growing and hopefully they will flourish. Here are a few pictures of the beginning of our garden!

The flower pots (with our fur babies Lola - dog and Charlie - cat)
Up close of the little sprouts!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Our First FIFTY Bags Delivered!!

Well yesterday was an amazing success! We delivered our first fifty bags two weeks ahead of our goal! Heather at Stormont-Vail Hospital in Topeka, KS (where we live) was so excited to receive the bags. She was like a kid in a candy shop when we showed her everything that was in the bags. We gave twenty to Stormont, ten girl and ten boy bags. She said she will let us know when they run low and hopefully that will give us enough time to restock all of our supplies and get some more bags out!

After we went to Stormont, we went to Children's Mercy, the hospital where MJ was at. This was pretty hard. We pulled up and again I started shaking and I could feel my anxiety going through the roof. But I knew that we were there for a good reason, so I calmed down a bit. We met one of the social workers in volunteer services and talked about the bags, they were also very excited to receive them. We talked about who would get them, being that they are a 65 bed NICU, they said it was going to be hard to determine who would get bags, as we only brought thirty bags to them. We determine that all CDH babies would get them, along with patients who would be there a month or longer. Hopefully we brought enough to sustain them for awhile. We are very happy with that, and it really felt great to deliver them. We then went up to the NICU and saw a few nurses that were MJ's. This was also hard, because it brought back so many memories, but I am glad that we did. The staff at Children's was just so amazing that I am glad that we are able to see them from time to time. They made such a huge impact on our life. They were amazed at how big Will was! We were able to bring Will into the NICU every day so they all got a bit attached to Will, as well. I don't think it's very often that they see a healthy baby, so I am sure it was a treat to them. Anyway, here a few pics of us getting ready and delivering them yesterday.

Us delivering the bags at Children's Mercy

My car loaded up with the bags!

Willie's way of loading up the car.

And my way - this is the wagon that was mine when I was a little girl and my Dad refurbished when I was pregnant with Will and MJ. It has a very special meaning to us!

One a side note, please, please pray for our friends who delivered their son, Xavier yesterday morning. He was born 14 weeks premature, and was transferred to Children's Mercy yesterday. They will be receiving the first gift bag that we donated to Children's Mercy!

We Did It!

Well we did, we delivered all fifty bags yesterday. I want to keep all of our pictures and tell how it went all in one post, which I will do later tonight. We got home yesterday and were tired and met some friends for dinner, so I wasn't able to post and upload pictures. But I wanted to let everyone know that we did it. So in the meantime, until later tonight, here is a fun game to play. And you will get to know me a little bit more.

99 things
Another fellow blogger, Lisa did this and thought I would join in the fun.Here are the rules: Bold the things you’ve done and post on your blog!

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightening storm
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishin
g49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been a passenger on a motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Kissed a stranger at midnight on New Year’s Eve
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Got a tattoo
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee

So until this evening, here's a little bit about me :)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

We Are Ready!

Well, we got the bags in on Friday afternoon, and we woke up today and decided to get them all filled and ready to go. We are both off of work on Monday, so we are going to deliver our FIRST FIFTY BAGS on Monday!! We are soo excited! It feels so good to finally have everything that we have been working on a reality. It's also very bittersweet. There were tears today. It's hard knowing that the reason we are doing this to keep our son's memory alive. We should be holding our son and kissing him and raising our boys together.

Today when we were upstairs filling the bags we left the TV on downstairs. We were chatting and talking and having fun filling the bags and then the song 'Amazing Grace' came on the TV and we both just stopped. 'Amazing Grace' was the first song we played at MJ's funeral. Then we both became real quiet; I know I was thinking of MJ and so was my husband. It's little things like that, that let us know that MJ is with us all the time. He sends us little signs and they fill my heart. I know it does the same for my husband. I posted a few pictures of us filling the bags, and here is the letter we are putting in each bag, as well.

Dear NICU Parent,

We would like to offer you a little comfort during your son or daughter’s stay in the NICU. The bag you have just been given has been donated in memory of our son, Michael Joseph Skaggs, who we called MJ. MJ was born on July 25, 2009 with a congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH), which occurs when the diaphragm does not fully form, allowing the stomach organs into the chest cavity, which severely hinders lung and heart development. MJ fought for his life for 35 amazing days before passing away in the arms of his mother on the evening of August 29, 2009. MJ’s 35 days were filled with ups and downs; smiles and tears, but most of all, he knew that he was loved. We spent all of his days, and many of his nights at the hospital and we know how trying having a baby in the NICU can be. After we lost MJ we searched and thought very hard of something to do to keep his memory alive. We stumbled across a website called Project Sweet Peas.

Project Sweet Peas seeks to provide a little touch of comfort for parents of children in the intensive care units. This project was started by a group of parents who have one thing in common; we have all experienced what it is like having a critically ill child in the NICU. Through our experience we came together for support and comfort. Now it is our turn to give back. Our goal is simple: To provide gift bags that give a touch of comfort to someone in need and let them know they are not alone. We knew this was the best way to keep MJ’s memory alive. So we called our local project, MJ’s Memories, because we want to honor every single memory that he gave us during his short life.

There are many items that you will find in your gift bag. They are meant to give you a smile and let you know that we have been there and know what you need, and what you may want.

There are toiletries in case you find yourself spending the night in the NICU, just like we did many times when we thought MJ was not going to make it. There is a hat to keep your baby’s head warm. There are booties to keep his or her feet warm. MJ was notorious for pulling out all of the tubes connected to him, so there are mittens to keep your baby from doing the same. There is blanket for the first time you are able to hold your son or daughter. There is a stuffed animal to keep by your baby’s isolate. We never wanted MJ to be alone, so he always had a bear or two with him. There is a picture frame so you can leave a picture of your family with your baby, so he or she knows that you are there, even when you are not. We also included a brag book, for you to fill with photos of your baby so when you are gone, you may have a photo of them with you at all times. There is camera to take those photos. The Chap Stick, hand sanitizer, and lotion are because we know the NICU is dry and sterile. Use the wooden plaques to decorate with your baby’s name, birth date, weight and height. Use the tissue when you cry, because we know that you will. Make molds of your baby’s feet, so you remember just how tiny he or she is right now. Read to your baby with the baby book to let him or her know just how much you love them. If you have a daughter there are hair bows for you to put in her hair. The surgical lubricant is so they stick to her head (when is dries it gets sticky). Use the journals to write downs things you may want to remember, or questions for your baby’s doctor. Use the Tylenol when the moments get stressful, because we know they will. The light bothered MJ tremendously and he always had to have his eyes covered, so there is a special baby eye mask in case your baby is the same way. Also included is a Lullaby CD that you may ask the nurse to play when you are not there.

Please know that we would like to provide a shoulder to cry on, or an ear so you may vent. We have been there; we know what you are going through. Don’t be shy to give us a call or, send us an email. That is also why we do this. We were given so much support during our time in the NICU, and we know that not everyone will have that same support. The only thing we ask is that you think of MJ. As is parents the only thing we can do for him now is to make sure that he is never forgotten.

With all of our Love,

Willie, Megan, Will, and our Angel MJ

Boy Bag with Project Sweet Peas Logo

Girl Bag with MJ's Memories Logo

All Fifty Bags!

Me working on filling bags

Willie working on filling bags

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Missing My MJ

Well I don't any new news for MJ's Memories, but I do miss my MJ very much. I love doing MJ's Memories and have really thrown myself into this project with the help of some amazing ladies at Project Sweet Peas. I don't think I would be able to get through each day without Project Sweet Peas and every there.

But I really wish that I didn't have to. I wish and I want and I ache every day to simply have my little boy back. That's all I want. I want to have him to love and hold and kiss and raise.

It seems as though we will definetly be able to deliver our first bags January 30. Which I am very excited about, but also a little nervous. It will be hard to go back to Children's Mercy. MJ spent his entire life there, minus the two days he spend at KU Medical Center. MJ died there. We have been back there twice, and each time was hard. The first time, I cried when we got there. The second time, I started shaking as we pulled up. January 30 will be the third time we go back. I am so happy that we have found something great to do in MJ's name, but it just isn't fair that we have to. I miss him. So much.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Everything's Bought!

Well, we went out yesterday and finished up buying everything! I am so excited about this. Our bags should ship out tomorrow from the company we ordered them from. We may just be able to fill the bags this weekend! That would be so exciting if we are able to do this. If we can, we may just deliver them sooner then we thought! We are both off of work a week from today, so that would be pretty exciting to be able to deliver the bags a week from today. It would mean a lot to be able to get them out so soon.

After purchasing all of the bags and items needed to fill the bags, we really can't believe how much we spent. When we add everything up that is in the bags, they probably cost about $30 per bag. We got a lot of amazing donations, but all that money still adds up pretty quickly! Thank goodness we had a great fundraiser and we are able to do this round of bags without a problem. It's the future bags that we are worried about. We are going to have to get creative and start thinking about new ways of fundraising for the future, so we are able to continue doing MJ's Memories. Willie and I decided that maybe our goal should be only four times a year, or every four months instead of three. I think we will be able to do it four times a year without a problem. That makes me very happy.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Ordered the Bags!

Well, we have finally got the bags ordered! I am very excited about this, as this was the biggest thing holding us up. They should be shipped on January 12, so we should get them in plenty of time to deliver our bags on January 30.

This has been a crazy busy time at work for me, I am a recruiter for a university and we have classes starting next week. So I haven't been able to fully focus on MJ's Memories, but I know that this weekend, Willie and I will be buying everything that we need to finish and fill the bags. We don't have too many things left to buy, which is really nice, so once we get the bags we should really be able to simply fill them and donate them! I am super excited about being able to do this.

Sometimes it seems like time if flying by, and then it seems like time is just taking forever, so we will see how long it actually takes. I just want to be able to have them all filled and ready to go!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

January 30 - Our Goal for our First Fifty Bags!

So this week we are finalizing a few things to get ready for our first donation! We are still trying to finalize ordering the bags that we are going to put all of our stuff in. It is a lot more work then I thought! I thought it would be as simple as saying we want these bags in this color, with this logo. Well, it's a lot more work. There is artwork to finalize, colors to finalize, and then these bag companies try to add on every little charge they can, so then I have to ask about each charge. So far I have been able to get $100 off, and a $50 coupon by asking about charges. But we are still not yet ready to order them. I think it has a lot to do with the New Year, because a lot of the companies close down between Christmas and New Year's. We are working with two different companies, trying to get the best price.

I have designed a logo for MJ's Memories, too. I really like it! I think it's so cute, and it just makes me think of MJ hanging out in Heaven, waiting for us to be with him.

Right now we are aiming for January 30 to be the day that we deliver our first round of bags. I spoke with Stormont Vail, in Topeka a few weeks ago, and they have quite a bit of NICU babies who are in there long term. Because of this, we decided that we are going to split the bags fifty/fifty between Stormont and Children's Mercy. Children's is where MJ was and they are in Kansas City. We are super excited about getting our first bags out.

We just need to buy a few more things and make sure that we have 50 of everything. We ordered disposable cameras last week, and I think we are going to order teddy bears this week. We have to count blankets, booties, caps, and mittens. But everything else, I know that we have at least fifty of. Hopefully the next few weeks goes smooth and we can reach our goal!