Sunday, August 23, 2009

Coping

Back when we first decided to start this blog, the idea was that we could keep it for family and friends in order to keep people informed about what’s happening without having to repeat ourselves to every individual we know. We knew that we would be busy, both during the pregnancy and afterwards with three babies, so we figured a blog would let us accomplish the huge task of staying in touch with people but in a fraction of the time. We thought we would have enough happening to fill a couple posts every week.

Sometime around the middle of the spring, we realized we had more readers than just the few expected family and friends. I guess it was the drama of all the hospital visits, surgeries, and scary moments that drew people in. Around that time, Brooke started sending me links to various multiples blogs, which I read with great interest (especially The Hughes Triplets blog, which I poured over every day during our pregnancy and am still fascinated by). But I started to notice that the difference between those blogs and ours was that we were getting comments from total strangers. I know that’s such a silly thing, but in the world of blogs, getting a comment is very exciting (trust me: I kept a poetry blog for the better part of a year and if I got one comment for every ten posts I was beyond thrilled).

Brooke and I have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support that we’ve gotten from readers of this blog. We really didn’t know that our little family’s story had spread across the country and even abroad (Germany? Australia? Really???). I honestly don’t know why so many people care. Let’s face it: we live in a cruel world where every day we see that most people just don’t give a damn about anyone but themselves. But this blog seems to be an example of just the opposite. People care. People care about complete strangers that they’ve never met and never will meet. That you’ve chosen to become a part of our story is something Brooke and I will be grateful for for the rest of our lives. We’ll never be able to repay the kindness we’ve been shown, so instead we will do our best to make sure our children feel all of the love that you have all shown to us.

On that note, we are trying our best to make arrangements for a fitting farewell to our beautiful little Annaleigh. We’re going to have a small, private funeral for her on Wednesday. We both feel that something private is more appropriate for her, and we don’t think that we can emotionally handle a large crowd right now. But we also want her to feel the love that has been given to her from all of you, and so we are going to be printing out every single one of the comments from the last few posts to place with her in her tiny pink and white casket. We want her to take that love with her to wherever she has gone to.

We’re asking that anyone who feels so inclined to make a donation to the St. Peter’s charity. Anyone who has been following our story since before the babies were born knows that we 100% credit the doctors and nurses at St. Peters University Hospital for saving their lives. When Brooke was 21 weeks pregnant, we were about to lose all three babies but they operated and were able to give them another four weeks, without which they would have all been lost. And when they were born 15 weeks early, the staff in the St. Peters NICU saved their lives again. The nurses cared for Annaleigh (and continue to care for Lily and Charlie) as though she were their own child. They cried right with us in her final moments. And Dr. Hiatt and his staff of nurse practitioners (especially Jodi, Diane, and Marilyn) have made sure that anything and everything is done that can be done for our children, and they do it with patience and love and never make us feel like just another family. Our babies and so many others are given nothing but the best possible care by all these people. If you are so inclined, you can make a donation in honor of our beautiful Annaleigh to:

St. Peter’s Foundation
For the NICU
254 Easton Avenue
New Brunswick, NJ 08901

We spent a lot of time at the NICU today, finding comfort being with Lily and Charlie and among the doctors and nurses who knew Annaleigh best. Being there is really what we need right now, and both Lily and Charlie seemed to know that. We held both multiple times today and they were great for us. Both are gaining weight and eating a ton. Charlie has been consistently getting his oxygen from the nasal cannula and doing quite well on it. Lily goes on the cannula when she comes out for visits and is much happier without the bulky CPAP tubes. She’s also started enjoying the pacifier a great deal. She’s even taken to holding it herself, which is just about the cutest thing to see ever.

We find peace when we’re with Charlie and Lily and we know that they will be our comfort in the rough days ahead. We aren’t sure how well we cope during the trying tasks we’ve got in front of us (viewing burial plots, seeing an obituary, etc.) so forgive us if we don’t post an update every night. But stay with us, because Charlie and Lily will need your love and support to help them grow big and strong so they can make their sister proud.


Lily's "Daddy Loves Me" outfit. Oh, how true that is.


Lily is loving the pacifier lately, especially when she gets to enjoy it while her mommy is holding her.


Brooke had absolutely no idea that Lily was looking at her when I was taking this picture. It was very cute.


Charlie is just loving life right now with his nasal cannula. He was never quite comfy on the CPAP or BiPAP because the tubes were so big and were irritating his tiny nose. This is much more to his liking.


Charlie is up to 28 ml of fortified breast milk for his feedings. That's almost an ounce, which will be a big milestone for him.

133 comments:

Our life is a bowl of Barry's said...

I'm a new reader, finding your blog through another that I read. It's hard finding wonderful new faces, often times during the most impossible times of their lives. I pray you find peace and happiness as Lily and Charlie grow. I'm sure you will see Annaleigh in their sweet faces everyday...a beautiful reminder of her. I pray God gives you strength when you feel you have no more.

J said...

Hi Joe and Brooke,
That is such a wonderful idea to do with the comments. I continue to be amazed at your strength and will continue to pray for your entire family. Little Annaleigh was a precious gift from God and now she is home. Take care, and thank you for continuing to allow us to follow your story. As you know, we have come to love them all.

Amy said...

This is "Macchiatto" from the Multiples board. Thank you for taking the time to update us in the midst of all you are dealing with. You as a family really have won our hearts and you are truly on our minds and in our hearts and prayers. That is a beautiful idea of putting the comments in with Annaleigh; as you said, she truly is loved. Sending lots of love and prayers.

JFa (Jessica) said...

I am from the TTTC board and I cannot tell you how many people have been praying for your family. I can't even imagine how hard it was for you to update the blog....we were all watching our computer screens and hoping for a miracle. I just wanted to let you know that your family is in all our hearts and if there is anything we can do please do not hesitate to ask.

Logan's Mom said...

I just started reading your blog a few days ago, clicking through the links on the side of someone else's page. Your family is so obviously filled by God's grace, and I am humbled to read about your struggles and your love for your children. I cannot even imagine your grief, but I am praying that God continues to bring you joy in Charlie and Lily, and in your memories of Annaleigh. Thank you for sharing your journey. I'm humbled by your strength, and I hope to read your blog for a long time to come.

Kiane said...

All of your family is truly loved and thought of all the time. I think it is a beautiful idea to put the comments in with Annaleigh. Thank you for taking the time to update us. I will continue to keep all of you in my heart, thoughts & prayers.

Kiane (kianew from SAIF)

The Madeira Triplets said...

Your spirit and strength are amazing, and awe-inspiring. To read this beautiful post leaves me without words. Thank you so much for sharing your lives, struggles, hopes and dreams. Your posts over the last few days have inspired us to remember what really matters--and to enjoy every moment. And to hug our trio every chance we can. Annaleigh was blessed to have you both as parents, just as Charlie and Lily are--and just as you are blessed to have them. She is still very much alive in your love for each other and your love for Charlie and Lily. You all will remain in our thoughts and prayers.

Little Wonders said...

Reading the Multiples boards and many other blogs that talked about your story, I know that people all across the country (and the world) have literally been shedding tears for your beautiful Annaleigh, yet also saluting you for your courage and strength in the midst of this unspeakable trial. She will never be forgotten.

Julie (St. Louis) said...

I've been following your blog as well and would like to tell you both that you and my family are in my thoughts.

This spring my nephew was born at 25 weeks and survived for three months before he passed. It's a rough road, but I hope that you may find comfort in each other, your family, and in your little fighters.

Anonymous said...

You and your beautiful family are truely an inspiration. I am praying for you and know that Annaleigh, Charlie and Lily are loved. Stay strong and know that hundreds of people are praying for you right now.

Tearlessdreams said...

Hi joe and brooke and baby lilly and charlie. My name is keisha and im from georgia and i've been following your blogg since the babies were born. my son was born at 35w ten days before your triplets were born and so i follow your story and tell him about how strong your babies are and that soon they will be big and tubby like he is, im really sorry about the loss of annaleigh but i belive she is happy where she is, i lost my first son zander a year ago and they are probly playing together as i type this. zander was born at 24w and only lived an hour and a few minutes before god took him to heaven . . and like joe said our babies were just too beautiful for this world. Well i wish you comfort in this difficult time, and i can not tell you life will get easier, but it will become less painful as time passes and you remember the happy times more than the sad. . . Well although i dont know you guys or your children in person, i do care for all five of you every much, and hope god blesses you and your children so you never have to feel this heartache again. Much love. . .

Keisha

meepitonparade said...

Hi Brooke and Joe, this is Meepit from the Nest. I just love you guys. The strength of your awesome family has just completely overwhelmed my husband and me in the past few months. Lily and Charlie and you two have our hearts and our prayers. I am so touched and deeply honored that Annaleigh will be with our comments. She will also be always in my heart.

As JFa said in her earlier comment, if there is ANYTHING we can do, please let us know.

Lanie said...

You family continues to amaze me with your strength, and the beautiful way in which you express yourself.

My DH has heard about you (especially this weekend), and today my ILs heard about you and your journey.

We all continue to send our prayers for your healing with Annaleigh's passing.

Sending much love! (Lanielove from the nest and multiples board)

biomaj5 said...

Hello,

I saw the link to your blog the other night on the nest, and I stayed up for most of the night reading from the beginning. I can't seem to put into words what I'm feeling; your family is amazing and beautiful and a miracle. Your strength now is truly inspirational.

Anonymous said...

I found your blog through some other multiple blogs I follow and my heart is breaking right here with you. Beautiful little Annaleigh was loved here on earth and will continue to be loved while she is in heaven looking over not only her wonderful brother and sister but her parents, family, and everyone else that loved her in her far too short time on this earth. She is with God now and I hope you are able to find some comfort knowing she is not in pain and being taken care of by her Creator. He had his plans for little Annaleigh and maybe He just needed her with Him in heaven more than we needed her on earth with us.

Stay strong for both of you and your other children who need your love. You have friends and loved ones who carry heavy hearts just like you both are.

Rachael said...

Joe and Brooke, you continue to amaze me with your strength and your courage. I cannot imagine what it takes to keep updating all of us. I continue to hold your family in my heart and I am sure that Annaleigh is settling into being a Guardian Angel for Charlie and Lily. She will never be forgotten by any of us.
~Rachael from tttc

brannyboilsover said...

You two are so strong. My heart is with your family.

Erin said...

As you mentioned it's a cruel world. I think the reason you're blog has so many followers is because the true goodness between you two, shines through. I first "met" Brooke through WC board. And, I have to say, she was the VERY FIRST stranger on there I ever prayed for. I think I prayed for her when I was still just a lurker. I remember it was the picture of you two crouching down posing with a dog on her "siggy". I just remember thinking I could see something so genuine in her smile.

My heart goes out to you all. I'll continue to pray for your family for peace, comfort, and health. I am so sorry for your loss.

Kitty Cat said...

Joe and Brooke, I am so amazed by you two. You have been in my thoughts and in my heart all weekend. Because of your story and your beautiful baby girl, I have appreciated my babies that much more and held them that much tighter these last few days. We are praying for your beautiful family!

Lily is too gorgeous, and Charlie looks fantastic. I know they have an angel watching over them, helping them get strong.

Cat (KittyCatRollerMom from Multiple Mamas)

Anonymous said...

Keep thriving my sweet precious angels. Annaleigh is watching over you. Be strong together.

All My Love, Auntie :)
xooxooxxo

Amber said...

Brooke and Joe, We are just heartbroken for you. You both have been so strong during this difficult time. We are sending you all our love and prayers.

Amber- The Hughes Triplets

Valerie said...

Thank you for updating your readers at this time.

Thank you for sharing the pictures of Lily and Charlie and your family's story.

Keeping you & and your little angel in my prayers.
~Valerie (gymrat)

ALin said...

I've been reading your blog for weeks now and was heartbroken this morning.

My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family during this difficult time.

Annie and Jason said...

I've also learned the power of care from strangers...touches a place in your heart that no one can reach.
Thank you for your posts. You remind all of us how precious and fragile life is. Your daughter will live in our hearts and watch over all our babies as they grow. Charlie and Lily will grow to feel her love. Much love and prayer with all of you.

Annie (Sweater)

Amy said...

We enjoy your updates, and look forward to them, but definitely understand that they're not at the very top of your priority list right now.

You've got a lot to take care of right now, and your babies need you.

Annaleigh will be sure to enjoy all the love you're going to send with her.

Way to go Charlie and Lily, keep up the good work so you can soon be home with Mommy and Daddy.

Anonymous said...

I have followed your blog since several weeks before the babies were born. I loved the excitement and love that you and Brooke shared. I'm not one to comment because I would normally just say the things 10 other readers have said :). But, I just wanted to reaffirm what you said in this post. Strangers care. Strangers love. I have a 6 month old son so I at least have some idea of what your going through. I understand that kind of love. But though I know Annaleigh is in a better place, it doesn't change the fact that I (not having ever met your family) have to ask God to help me with this grief. I've been sobbing with you with empathy. Your children are very loved. I apologize if this ramble sounds awkward or strange, it's just hard to put such emotion into words. Thinking of you often.

Momma said...

I think what I need to say is...thank you...thank you for sharing this beautiful story of love and strength. You are too kind to allow all of us a glimpse into your private world.

Annaleigh was blessed and continues to be blessed with a love that knows no bounds. I wish I had comforting words, but really are they necessary? She was adored and loved by the two most amazing parents I can imagine and for that there are no words.

Continue to slay your dragons Charlie and Lily!

*hugs*
Copzy/Sarah

Anonymous said...

Hi Joe and Brooke,

I found your site from another site that I read a few months ago.
Follow it but, never updated.

I am so sorry for the loss of ^Annaleigh^. Keeping you in my prayers during this rough time.

The way Charlie is going he might be home before you know it.

Judy Caton
Boston, MA

The Home Cook said...

You guys are amazingly strong. I know it doesn't always feel that way, but you are. I'm so happy to see Charlie and Lily doing well and giving you comfort as you grieve.

So much love to you both. Virtual ((HUGS)) will have to do until I see you on Wed.

Anonymous said...

Brooke and Joe,

Your story and your strength to get through everything that you have been has been inspirational to so many people. I honestly believe that all of these thoughts and prayers WILL help you get through this awful time. Your beautiful baby girl was very loved and will always be remembered. She has served to remind so many that time is precious and that nothing should be taken for granted. Your friends are here to support you, Charlie, and Lily, along with your families. Do not hesitate to call on us. God bless you, Annaleigh. Heaven has another angel.

Cheryl

Jill said...

I don't usually post comments, but I have really been touched by your blog and your unconditional love and support of your wife and children. You are a beautiful family that deserves great happiness, and I am so very sorry for the great loss you have experienced. Annaleigh is an angel watching over you and Brook and Charlie and Lily. I hope that you can find peace and find comfort in their smiles and development.

Amanda said...

We are so heartbroken for you but am glad that Charlie and Lily bring you so much comfort at this, no doubt, VERY difficult time.

To all of you, including Annaleigh who must be the sweetest angel in Heaven:
May the Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.

Mrs D said...

I am in constant awe of your stength. My thoughts and prayers go out to your family and your sweet Annaleigh.

Maggie said...

I was introduced to your blog through a photographer's forum when someone posted asking for prayers for your family.

I'm currently following the blog of another family of multiples - sextuplets. They too have suffered the loss of little ones too soon.

The thing that really strikes me about both of your families is the love for the Father, the belief that your little ones are truly blessed and will be waiting for you and watching over you, and the Holy Love both families radiate.

My prayers go out to your entire family as you say good-bye to little Annaleigh. And prayers go up for continued progress and strength for Charlie and Lily.

Tonya Lynn said...

Joe and Brooke-

The two of you have such an amazing strength! I pray for peace of your family.

As one of the 'strangers' I sit at my work desk weeping over the loss of your precious Annaleigh. Its pretty amazing to see in this day and age that perfect strangers can come together and support one another in a time of need, even if it is only through words trying to comfort.

In sharing your experience of the pregnancy, birth, and begining life of your beautiful children you have given hope. Your attitude and heart show so clearly through your writing.

Even as Annaleigh is with the Lord she will be always watching over her Brother and Sister.

Y'all are amazing individuals and God has great things planned for your family!!! Thank you for being such an inspiration to others!

Anonymous said...

You are such amazing parents. Your littles ones are so beautiful. I won't begin to pretend I know what you are going through. No one truly does. I think it's marvelous that you two have dusted yourselves off & are back at the hospital taking care of Charlie & Lily. I think it's a beautiful idea to print out the prayers & comments that people posted for Annaleigh. I feel so honored that my words will be with Annaleigh for eternity.

I am a preemie mom to a 29 weeker who teetered on the edge of life & death for her first month of life. She has been in the NICU for 12.5 weeks so far & will hopefully be home soon. Even after experiencing all that pain, it is truly nothing compared to what you 3 have gone through. Keep it up & hang in there! There are thousands of people praying for you guys!

Rache, The Bump Preemie Board

Kenley said...

Praying that you find peace and comfort during this difficult time. I wish that there was something that I could say or do to help, but since I can't, please just know that even though I am a stranger, your beautiful family is in my thoughts and prayers. Your family's story is so touching, and your babies are very lucky to have wonderful parents like you.

I tried to put the badge in memory of Annaleigh on my thebump.com TTTC board siggy, and I'm so computer illiterate I couldn't figure out how to do it! Since it won't be in my siggy, I just wanted to say here that I will always remember your beautiful, loved daughter.

And congratulations to Charlie on doing well with the nasal cannula! He's adorable. =)

jennie said...

Annaleigh is still loved and she will continue to be loved and cared for. When thinking of her and healing try not to ask the question "why?" as you will likely find no suitable answer. Of course the best place for her was to be snuggled in your arms. You know the answers to the "when" and "how" that you can now explain as well as any doctors. As you heal, may you find solace in answering and thinking of the "who" as you know your beautiful daughter better than anyone else. Keep those memories of her alive for yourself and her siblings, and for the people who will now be caring for her. She is with Kevin. It is not her parents but it sounds like Kevin passed too early to be able to be a parent and judging by his close friendship with two people as strong and caring as you, he would have made a good one; and he will be to your beautiful gift. Stay strong and take care of yourself and your babies.

Jen said...

Brooke and Joe,
You two have touched my life and that of my family. I shared your story with my parents who has shared it with their church. Weekly prayers are offered for your family. The love that you two have shown for each other over the years and shared in this blog has been a tool for me and Jim to be lead by (with your patience love and kindness).

Belle has even been touched by your love and your children and say with Blessing god watch over lilly charlie and annaliegh my new friends.

Hugs
and Love always
Jen (L&L)

Anonymous said...

Lily and Charlie are getting so big... and they get cuter by the day. No wonder Charlie didn't like all the tubes... they were hiding his very handsome face!

You two continue to amaze me with your strength... I know Annaleigh is looking down at you and her brother and sister and she is so proud of all of you! Your angel will be with you always.

Jennifer said...

Hi Joe & Brooke. My name is Jennifer, and I "know" Brooke from her cooking blog, and the WC board. I have been following your story since the beginning, and I just want you to know how truly incredible I think that you both are. I wasn't able to get to a computer over the weekend, but you guys were on my mind and I said many prayers over the last few days. I learned about Annaleigh this morning, and I've just been sitting at my desk in tears. She was such a beautiful girl, and I know how much she was loved and will be missed. Please know that your family will remain in my prayers, especially over the next few days. I don't know if you realize this, but your love for each other, and for your children is truly inspiring to everyone around you. I know that you are hugging Charlie & Lily a little bit tighter today, but just know that they now have a guardian angel watching over them. Take care of yourselves and each other.

Lindsi said...

Thank you for sharing such deep and true emotions. Thank you for sharing the photos of Lily and Charlie too...they are JUST as beautiful as Annaleigh...
You will continue to be in my thoughts and prayers
Lindsi (SNL0605)

Jaymi said...

Your strength in the face of such adversity is amazing. I've been thinking of your family a lot the past few days. So glad to see Lily and Charlie are doing so well. They're very lucky to have such wonderful parents.

mrsolsenk12 said...

Brooke and Joe,
This is mrsolsenk12 from SAIF. As you know, we have all cried with you these last few days and peole have been not as willing to post what they say as "silly posts" on the board in honor of Annaleigh. I have "known" brooke since the TTTC days and have been following you since your BFP announcement. If I lived closer to you, I would come and give you a big hug and cry with you. I think it is wonderful that you are taking the comments and giving them to Annaleigh. It shows how much she was loved and how many peoples lives she touched in her short life. I understand about your blog but I will still be here for you all as well as Charlie and Lily.
mrsolsenk12 and Hayden

Anonymous said...

Continuing to pray for you and your beautiful family - both here and beyond. May Charlie and Lily make their sister proud and may she send them strength, joy and health from a more beautiful place.

Colleen said...

Thank you to YOU both for sharing your story with all of us. It must take so much strength to come and post, especially over the last few days, but you have done it so that we all can follow along and be there as much as we can with you.

Charlie looks like such a big boy in the pics today! And I love the ones of Brooke and Lily.

Anonymous said...

Brooke and Joe,

I'm just another stranger who loves your children! I know you are amazed by how much people care about you and your kids, but I am amazed at how much your story has touched my life. I pray for Charlie, Lily, and Annaleigh every night and I cried so hard when I found out that Annaleigh had passed. Your strength is truly amazing. I know it must be comforting to know that so many people in this world are pulling for Charlie and Lily. I just wanted you to know that there is one more out there.
-Courtney

Bec said...

Brooke and Joe,
I'm thinking about you every minute of the day. Annaleigh was so lucky to have you as parents and to receive so much love and kindness from so many people. I'm glad to see you smiling in your photos with Charlie and Lily. Those beautiful babies will help you get through this.

Doug H. said...

That is an amazing picture of Lily looking at Brooke. It is adorable.

Charlie is getting so big. He is going to be quite the ladies man.

Our thoughts and prayers are with you guys and the beautiful Annaleigh. She will always be loved.

If you need anything please don't hesitate to ask.

Love,
Doug and Christina

Anonymous said...

i think that is a wonderful idea to place all this love with Annaleigh.. she has been loved by so, so many, and will always continue to be loved. Charlie and Lily look amazing, and the fact that Lily holds her own pacifier puts a huge smile on my face! all my love to you two, and all of my prayers for the babies,
nikki joy <3

Bridget said...

I told my husband several times this weekend, "I don't know why I'm so upset...I don't even know them." A tragedy of this magnitude effects everyone who hears of it, but having followed the story through your blog, I guess I feel so much more connected. And I know that leaving a comment on a blog is such a small thing in the scheme of the situation, but if comments might provide even the most insignificant of comforts, well then...that's something.

I don't think it's the drama of a scary pregnancy and a premature birth that draws your readers. It's the strength you both show. And I'm sure you don't feel strong and you're just doing what you have to do to get by, but you face the challenges together and with love. For that, I admire you, and that is why I found myself involved in your story.

Staci said...

Brooke and Joe,
You continue to amaze me with your strength. I am so sorry for your loss. Our rabbi always begins the Mourner's Kaddish prayer with this: May the memory of the righteous always be for a blessing.
Love,
Staci

Jade said...

Brooke adn Joe,
I am one of the strangers that you are speaking of. I "met" Brooke through What's Cooking and have followed her story. I prayed many times for all the treatments to work and am praying now for Lily and Charlie as well as both of you in this difficult time. You are in my thoughts and prayers. Again, I am so sorry for your loss.

Cynthia said...

My heartfelt sympathies to Joe, Brooke, Lily and Charlie. May you find the love of family and friends a comfort in these coming days. Annaleigh was blessed with two wonderful, loving parents, and a sister and brother who love her too. The Home Cook's mom

The Lewin Family said...

I wanted to make sure that Annaleigh got our message to take with her, too. You are such a special little girl and have a big responsibility being an angel to watch over Charlie and Lily and we know you're gonna be great at it! Amelia and Juliet will make sure that they have lots of people to play with and they will never forget you. Tucker will get extra tugs so he doesn't forget either! Much love and peace to you, sweet princesses.

Courtney & Pete said...

The smiles on your faces in the pictures with Lily & Charlie are, in a word, amazing. You are all an inspiration.

Love to you all,
Courtney & Pete

Sarah said...

Joe,
Reading this blog - in tears - I am reminded of Lowell's "The First Snowfall" and I know that each time you kiss Lily or Charlie - you kiss Annaleigh. I hope that you find patience and healing. I am thinking of you and Brooke and the babies always.
-Sarah
TTTC
SAIF
Multiples
FR*SD

fresh365 said...

Your strength is so inspiring. I am so sorry for the pain your are experiencing. Please know, you are in my prayers.

Lori said...

You seem to be an amazing couple, with incredible strength and faith. You are truly an inspiration to so many people, I'm sure. I will continue to pray for you and your family.

I'm so happy that Charlie and Lily seem to be doing so well. I'm sure they will make their sister very proud!

Abbie said...

My prayers are with you. I think it is really sweet you are printing out the comments to put them with Annaleigh.

Anonymous said...

Another WCer here. I just wanted to say that your blog is such an inspiration, even when things get tough - and this is surely the toughest thing any parent can experience. You two and the babies are a reminder that with love and optimism, a family can make it through anything. A family founded on love is truly so strong. May all of you find peace in this challenging time.

Tracey said...

My family's prayers are with you. Your strength and faith is so strong and that will help you in the coming weeks.

May god bless Charlie and Lily. Annaleigh will guard over them from the heavens.

Sending love and peace to Annaleigh in heaven.

Anonymous said...

I am really sorry for your loss. Annaleigh was very lucky to have such wonderful parents. I am sure that your love will keep her with you forever.
Stay strong!

Michele and FTHS said...

Joe and Brooke, you two are an amazing team. Keep strong, Lily and Charlie. You have your guardian angel Annaleigh, watching over you. Thank you, Joe and Brooke. I am honored.

Liz said...

My heart goes out to you, Annaleigh will be keeping watch over your family forever now, thoughts and prayers goes out for your entire family!

Raina (TTTC nestie Hopkintonbride) said...

Thank you for letting us into such a private/emotional moment in your lives. My thoughts and prayers are with you and beautiful Annaleigh. I wish you peace and comfort during this difficult time. God Bless.

lovestoeat said...

My prayers and thoughts are with you. God bless

Anonymous said...

My love and support is with you and your beautiful babies. Lily and Charlie are so lucky to have such strong, resilient parents, and Annaleigh undoubtably knew how much she was, and continues to be loved. I can't even describe how much I look up to the two of you.

All my love,
Jenny (the Good)

Lindsay said...

I'm not going anywhere! I am going to be here cheering on Charlie and Lily every single day.

Stacey said...

I found your blog through the nest. I wanted to say that my support is with you and I am praying for you and the babies during this time. Your strength is inspiring.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful Annaleigh,

you are truly loved by your family and by very many strangers, including myself. I loved seeing your pictures, and seeing your growth throughout the 8 weeks of your too short life. May all the angels that I have known, who are now in Heaven, take you under their wings, in comfort.

I cried (and still cry) thinking of you and your exceptional family and regret that you didn't get enough time with them; but their is some comfort in knowing you will see them again!

I wish you all peace in this difficult time.

E from Cananda

Minnie said...

Sending you prayers for peace and comfort in what is no doubt a miserable time.

cejer said...

Your babies are looking bigger in each photo! I am a complete stranger that cannot wait to see posts of your babies growing ... you story is an encouragement to others:) God bless your family ...

Kate said...

Continued strength and prayers to your family as you keep on going for Charlie and Lily. They have amazing parents and a very special angel sister, plus all these "strangers" rooting for them.
GRK

Anonymous said...

All of your babies are beautiful :) Your wife looks lovely, and Lily and Charlie look like they are getting stronger :) God bless you and all of us.

Sonya said...

Sending all my thoughts and prayers to your beautiful family. There are no words to express my heartache for you all...just know that your precious Annaleigh is being carried in the hearts of hundreds!

Anonymous said...

Your family is in my thoughts and prayers. There are no words for the admiration I have for all of you. God Bless.

Dawn BB said...

I am so very sorry this has happened. This really breaks my heart. I pray for your family every night. I will keep praying and please know that I'm thinking of you and wish you much strength.

Brandi D. said...

This was a beautiful post. I think people care because some of us have walked in your steps. My son was born 13-weeks premature. We were in the NICU for 137 days. This was probably the hardest thing I've had to so. My son is now 3 and he's beautiful. I would love to give ya'll support as it was given to me.
I continue to pray for your family. The next few days and weeks will probably be the hardest. I hope you are able to find comfort.

Brandi
Nashville, TN

Christine, Jason and Baby said...

I was just recently introduced to your blog through another blog I read. I was very saddened by sweet Annaleigh having to leave this world, but I never said anything. Today, I got on my BBC board and was introduced to your blog again so therefore, I feel I need to introduce myself and tell you both that I am praying for your entire family. I am so glad that Annaleigh is no longer suffering and that she is in heaven. I pray that GOD will give Charlie and Lily lots of strength to grow up big and strong. May God Bless you and your family.

Simple said...

May your higher power comfort you in sorrow & bless Annaleigh in heaven. Your family is an inspiration & a blessing.

Anonymous said...

Joe and Brooke,

Please accept my heartfelt sympathies on the loss of Annaleigh. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

You probably wouldn't remember me, but I attended the same undergraduate university as the both of you. (Joe, I think you were my RA one year). I remember seeing the both of you together around campus, and it was obvious even then how strong your love was. Please know that everyone who reads this is behind you and cares.

Wendy said...

The babies are looking beautiful. We'll be making a donation to the charity you requested as well as March of Dimes.

You were wondering why there has been such an outpouring of support from strangers. I think that no matter where we live or what we do with our own lives, the loss of any life, especially one so new, affects us all. We so desperately want to see life thrive and grow, and when it's threatened or lost, people want to help. There are billions of us on this planet. Yet one tiny lost life leaves an unfulfillable hole in our fabric.

My son was a preemie and while he did okay in the long run, we watched another family experience what you're going through. It's just awful, and we're praying for you.

Stephanie said...

Brooke & Joe, the strength you both have is simply amazing. I can't imagine what you are going through at this time. But just know that Annaleigh will be with you forever in your hearts and in her brother & sister.

Stephanie said...

Your strength is truly amazing. You are inspirational. You have such a positive outlook and it is this outlook that will get you though this time. Lily and Charlie look wonderful- thank you for the update.

Anonymous said...

First, let me say how sorry I am for your loss. I cannot immagine what you are going through. Thank you for sharing your life here. Your storry gives a glimse of reality how difficult life can be but also gives hope to so many that go through what you go through.
You are blessed with beautiful babies that will give you strength to go on in the days/weeks ahead. And your beautiful angel will look over your family.
You are all in my prayers.

Melissa said...

I have been following your blog and telling others about your family. So I was very saddened to hear the news of Annaleigh's passing. My heart goes out to your family. May you have more comforting days ahead.

"Those we have held in our arms for a little while, we hold in our hearts forever".

Anonymous said...

Joe and Brooke,
I am one of the many "strangers" who have followed your blog over the past several months. Thank you for sharing your story of beautfiul Annaleigh, Lily and Charlie. My prayers and thoughts have been with you and your family quite some time. I was heartbroken when I read the news Saturday evening.
I pray that God gives and your family the strength and love to get through the rough days ahead and that you will find comfort in knowing that your lovely little angel is watching over all of you. You are a wonderful and loving couple and may God Bless you and take care of you all.

beesknees said...

I found out about your story through The Nest, and have been following along. I also shared your blog with family and friends because I thought your story is so amazing. You are all an inspiration! I am so saddened to hear about your loss. My heart goes out to you. Lots of thoughts and prayers.

RobinLA said...

I just came on the Nest today after being off all weekend and learned of your loss. I've been following Brooke's story and am so so sorry. Annaleigh was a very special little lady and will be forever remembered in all our hearts. My thoughts and prayers are with you all!
Xoxo

Colleen said...

i feel so sad to hear about annaleigh. i have been touched to hear your story. i hope you feel some comfort to know that you will be with her again. thank you so much for letting me into you lives just a bit. i was born at 27 1/2 weeks thirty one years ago. i love to hear stories of those that are going through the same trials. you are all an inspiration. sending you love. you will be in my prayers and thoughts.

Anonymous said...

I've been reading your blogs since Brooke was pregnant but this is the first time I'm posting anything on it. I am Carolyn Brown's sister, Sharon, and am a friend of Pam's and Katie Wilson. I would first like to extended my deepest sympathy to you and your family. Annaleigh is now a little Angel looking over her brother and sister and the both of you. The love and strength that you show to each other and the babies is incredible! The blogs that you both write is amazing...like a novel that you don't want to put down. When I heard the news of Annaleigh I got goosebumps and felt real heartfelt sympathy for all of you...I'm one of the people you don't know, but gosh, I feel like I know all of you and feel like a part of your world in your blogs. I know that you know so many people LOVE you all and I'd like to extend the same LOVE to all. My entire family reads your blogs now and we are deeply saddened, but at the same time have high hopes for Lily and Charlie and the day the babies come home with you. God bless you all and you're always in my thoughts and prayers.
Sharon Principato

Amy said...

I'm a nestie on the cooking board and have followed your story since you were in your early pregnancy. I'm so saddened to hear about Annaleigh, but she is definitely an angel in heaven watching over your family now. You all are in my prayers and thoughts right now as you are trying to cope in such a sad time. God bless you all!

-Amy

Lorza said...

I have been a lurker...

I am glad that you have found such wonderful support out here in the blogsphere- it doesn't take away your pain, but it helps in some way. I am so sorry for your loss. I will say prayer for you.

PS- Thank you for mentioning the nurses and doctors. I am a nurse- and for a while working in a neonatal ICU. We definately do care- I have had physical heartache when I was with one of "my babies" and the parents during the end. I STILL follow a website from a baby I cared for in 2005. I remember with startling clarity their sweet little faces. I will never forget- and I pray for their families often.

Rest assured, that years from now your nurses will remember. Annaleigh has touched many lives- in person and over the internet.

Anonymous said...

I started following your blog a few days ago through the Nest, and I just wanted to tell you that I am in awe of your family. Brooke and Joe, you are a couple to be admired for your strength, faith, love, and compassion. As for your beautiful children...Annaleigh touched so many lives in her short life. I am praying that God continues to help Charlie and Lily flourish. God bless you.

One Crazy Mommy said...

How do you become an official follower of this blog? I can not find the follow button.

Your babies are absolutely beautiful, so sorry to hear about the lose of sweet Annaleigh!

Anonymous said...

I am a relatively new reader of this powerful blog and just wanted to let you know we are thinking about you all out here in the middle of Kansas! A few friends of mine who are also blog followers and I plan to do a little balloon release for Annaleigh. So hopefully she'll catch some of them up in Heaven!

Emily said...

I found your blog as a link from a friend of a friend. I find myself often thinking about your family and all the complex emotions you're going through. I too love comments, so instead of secretly blog-stalking you I'm coming out and sending you love from Maryland.

Lily and Charlie are looking big and strong. I have no doubt that they will do their sister proud!

Lindsay said...

I was out of town and didn't have internet access, so I'm just catching up on my Google reader now. I'm truly hearbroken to read about your precious little Annaleigh. I have no words to express how very sorry I am. I will be keeping you and Charlie and Lily close in my thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.

Anonymous said...

There is an old Eskimo legend that says perhaps those stars in the sky are not just stars in the sky, but rather openings where our loved ones shine down on us to let us know they are happy.
Be at peace

Jo Ann at FTHS said...

Joe, you are so right. There is often the perception (thanks to the media)that the world is a cruel place filled with self-centered people. Your blog and the wonderful people people at St. Peter's have proven that this negative image is a lie. From faraway places and at all hours of the day and night, people are sending their love and thoughts and prayers to you and the babies; I am convinced that through this, you and Brooke are receiving renewed strength, generous grace, and real courage to move forward in the most trying of times. We are here because of you, and we are here for you--even when you aren't consciously thinking about it. It is a blessing, like a warm, swaddling blanket that wraps around you on a cold day, and I hope it brings you both some measure of comfort.

Anonymous said...

Another stranger here, indescribably touched by your story. Brooke and Joe, I think it's important to know how loved you, Charlie, Lily, and sweet, precious Annaleigh all are. In a time where no words will suffice, I hope you can at least take some comfort in this tremendous outpouring of love and prayers.

Anonymous said...

I only discovered your blog on Friday, through thebump.com. I spent the weekend pouring over every entry, and I feel privledged to witness your family's experience. My heart broke when I read of Annaleigh's illness, and then her passing. I am absolutely struck with the grace your family is handling this terrible situation. You are in my thoughts, and will be for a very long time. I hope the rest of your journey is a peaceful, happy, and healthy one.

Anonymous said...

I'm from the TTTC board and have been reading your blog since the beginning. It's one of the first things I check in the morning when I get to work. Being infertile myself your story has given me hope that miracles do happen. I was a lurker way back when Brooke announced she was having triplets and feeling so excited for you two. I just wanted to say how touched I am by your story and so saddened of the oh-so sudden loss of sweet Annaleigh, she truly was such a beautiful baby and so lucky to have such awesome parents. Stay strong for each other and your other two cuties, I cannot imagine what you must be going through!!
(bear, tttc)

Mom2Be said...

This has brought me to tears again. I feel like I've "known" Brooke for a couple of years from when I first joined the WC board. That is so touching about the comments...I'm beyond gratified that you want us to be a part of Annaleigh. I'm surprised you two have been updating as often as you have been...I greatly admire your strength and perseverance. My heart goes out to you two and my thoughts and prayers remain with you, especially on Wednesday. (hugs)

Anonymous said...

Guys, you know that I know nothing about babies, let alone multiples. But I have enjoyed being a part of your lives by reading this blog. It's amazing how, even though we are spread out all over the place, we can still come together through blogs, facebook, etc. It's very comforting to know we're all just a click away.

If there is anything that you need, even just a phone call, please don't hesitate to contact me.

Lucky for Lily and Charlie, they will have a beautiful guardian angel to watch over them all their lives. And two of the best parents in the world.

Thinking about you,

Terry Lynn

Valerie said...

Brooke and Joe-
The strength you two have amazes me daily. I'm continuing to pray for your beautiful family daily and check the blog many times a day for updates. I think it is a beautiful idea for the comments in Annaleigh's casket. I will continue to follow your story and pray for you two to find peace of the next couple of days. I am so sorry that you two are going through this. If my husband and I have half the love for our future children as you have showed Charlie, Lily and Annaleigh we will be blessed.

Melissa said...

I am so sorry for the loss of your beautiful Annaleigh. I will continue praying for Charlie and Lily. You guys are amazing for the strength you show.

sunflowerramos said...

My thoughts and prayers are with you.
I know my mom (who passed away in April) is taking care of Annaleigh right now in heaven.

Jen said...

Found your blog through another blog- don't ever think for a second that people don't care about your precious children. I'll continue to lift your family up in prayer-you are all so strong, even in those moments when it feels like that's that last thing you are. God will be so present for you in your pain- He will take you from breath to breath,second to second, minute to minute. May you all feel just how much you are loved and cared for- by all of us far, and those near to you as well.

Anonymous said...

Sweet Annaleigh,

In your short time here, you have affected more lives than most people do in decades of living.

You have helped us to open our hearts to unconditional love, to care about others and to allow ourselves to feel loss. We have prayed and found comfort in our faith. And we openly share our feelings and prayers with others- something that we might not have done before you came into our lives.

You already know what amazing parents you have, but know that their love for you, Lily, Charlie and each other has been an inspiration to the rest of the world. Without you, Lily and Charlie, we never would have gotten to know how amazing they are, so thank you for showing us how great they are. I think we are all better people for being given the priviledge of getting to know you and your family.

Your light will continue to shine in the hearts of all whose lives you touched.

Anonymous said...

God Bless your family. Annaleigh was a lucky little girl that experienced more love than some children do in their lifetimes. I am confident she had a wonderful, although short life. I was so moved by your blog and the love your family shares, I forwarded this blog to my mom who has never seen it. She told me she had tears running down her face as she read your story.

Anonymous said...

I found your blog through the nest and I wanted to say that I am praying for your beautiful family. May you find love and comfort in knowing that your little girl has hundreds of people talking, sharing and caring.

Kim in South Carolina said...

Joe and Brooke,

I don't know you, but I was directed to your log via a friend who has triplets. I am praying that sweet Lily and Charlie grow stronger, gain weight, go home and live long, happy lives. Rest in Peace, beautiful Annaleigh. Even a stranger knows that your mommy and daddy love you very much.

Kim in South Carolina

Kaitlyn said...

I'm still just at a loss for words I really do not know what to think right now. All my thoughts, prayers, and love is with all of you. You are amazing people and you have truely changed my life. I am amazed by your courage and strenght. You are wonderful! I'm so glad you find comfort in holding you babies and they bring you both some peace during this awful time. I have been hugging my little girl much tighter now. I will continue to read your blog and love your children. Grow big and strong babies!!!

The Paro Family said...

My heart breaks for your sweet family and what you are going through right now. You are right, Annaleigh is loved greatly. My husband told me that he loved that name and would like to name our daughter Annaleigh when/if we have one. Thoughts & prayers your way. Snuggle Lily and Charlie even tighter and I know you will tell them all about their sweet sister. I hope that memories of your brief time with her will comfort you at this very difficult time. (((hugs))) to you both.

Barbara said...

I am so sorry for your loss. Words just cannot express. This week-end I was in NY with my daughter Rachel. She was taking pictures of several "nesties" - you were in all their thoughts and prayers too.

Suzie said...

I found this blog about a week ago on another blog and spent a few hours reading through all the posts. Stay strong and know that Charlie and Lily will always know that they have a beautiful sister - Annaleigh.

Suzie from California

Anonymous said...

Im so sorry you are going through these tough times, loosing a child is the worst thing someone can go through. It is very hard to loose a child and not be able to grieve because you have 2 more children to care for in the NICU. You will be in my prayers so that you receive comfort and strength for the months to come, and for the many years ahead w/o your beautiful Annaleigh.
I lost two of my 26 wk triplets, one of them to NEC when she was 15 days old. I cried with you when you wrote about her condition and her prognosis, Im so sorry you had to go through this.
Nothing I can say can may you feel better, but I know that my prayers will help you get strength during these difficult times, which is the only thing I can offer. Big (((hugs))))

Anonymous said...

joe and brooke,

i am grateful to you for reminding me what a gift that family is and how we should not be taking anything in life for granted. your strength continues to amaze and inspire me. i know that your family will be one of strength and survival at all times and wish you the best. you will be in my thoughts and prayers and i look forward to following your blogs!!

Kristina said...

I am a fellow SAIFer and I have been following your blog ever since the babies were born, but I have never commented. I wanted you both to know that you and your family have been in my constant thoughts and prayers ever since I heard the terrible news of your precious Annaleigh. I am amazed by the courage and strength that you two have shown as parents. My baby girl will be born later this week, and I hope to be even half the parent you are. I am so happy that Charlie and Lily can bring you comfort in your time of need. (((HUGE HUGS))) to your family, and I will continue to pray for you all.

Kristy (nestie kristinamh6)

Anonymous said...

i care because I am a mom of twin girls and a labor and delivery nurse at st. peters. I have been hearing about your story thru friends and family. One of my twins was in the NICU at SPUH and I can tell you they took wonderful care of her, I know for a fact your children are in the best hands possible. Please know your entire family are in my thoughts and prayers:)

Anonymous said...

Joe and Brooke -
Its Ralston03 from the TC website. Having kept a blog myself when our trio was born at a fragile 28 weeks, I can understand the roller coaster that is life with micro-preemies in the NICU. And even though our son Noah had NEC that required surgery at 6 weeks, I can only begin to imagine the empty hole in your hearts that has been created by Annaleigh's passing.
Although we've never met, I'm fascinated by your honesty here, by your beautiful, expressive words and the love its clear you have for your precious and adorable children. You are showing strength and courage as a couple, which is so critical at this time, and will build a foundation for your future as some of the most amazing parents this world has.
As for Annaleigh, God has one of his most beautiful little angels now - I believe that Lily and Charlie will have a life-long guardian angel, and it sounds like she has good company where she is now looking down on you all, and a lovely, quiet place to rest here on earth too. :-)

We wish you peace, strength and comfort in the days ahead, and nothing but continued good health and happiness for Lily and Charlie.


Amy Ralston

Jennifer said...

People care! I have been following your blog for a while and I shed many tears for your loss. I don't know you, but I'm a NICU parent and a Mommy of a NEC surviver so I understand how suddenly things can happen. Nobody is ever the same after this experience, but you and your husband and babies are so strong, keep hanging in there.

Margot said...

Joe and Brooke thanks for continuing to update us. Annaleigh could not have asked for better parents. So was so loved, and is now a little angel loving her brother and sister. I pray that you find peace in Charlie and Lilly. Love, Margot (Mango)

Katie said...

I've been following your blog for a few months and have really enjoyed getting to know you and seeing pictures of the adorable kids.
My heart and prayers go out to your family during this difficult time.

May said...

Brooke and Joe, you guys are truly amazing. I'm also so glad you guys have decided to share your story with the world and and will continue to do so. You're all an inspiration to a lot of people, and so was Annaleigh in her short time. Like a couple others have said on here, I hug my kids a little tighter now and think about Annaleigh when I do. We're still thinking and praying for you guys and Charlie and Lily. I'm in awe of your strength and look up to you guys for that.
(mayfirstbride from the knot)

Stephanie said...

That is such a wonderful thing to do, to give Annaleigh all of the comments people have left for you and for her. She is loved so so very much.

I love the pictures of Charlie and Lily, her sucking on that paci is so darn cute! I love their little tiny clothes too, they look so adorable...I like Charlie's Fred Flinstone outfit best. ;)

Still sending all of my love and support for all of you, holding you close in thought and prayer.

Anonymous said...

brooke, joe, liily and charlie
words cannot express...we know that annaleigh will always watch over her brother ad sister...you are in our prayers...
mike fths

Anonymous said...

May God comfort and keep your family. Annaleigh is one of his angels now, and will always be watching over your family. God Bless you.

Laura said...

I just wanted to let your family know you have been in my constant thoughts and prayers. I am from the Nest and have not been on the WC board in a long time, but Brooke was one of the first nesties that I came to look for on the boards in my early days. I am so deeply saddened for you and my heart aches for the pain you are feeling. Although you can't hold your beautiful baby in your arms, she is in the arms of Jesus who will keep her safe until you see her again. Many hugs and prayers for you both and those precious babies.
(Lalabee0425)

Laura said...

Joe and Brooke- Your strength and courage is truly inspirational. You both are truly amazing parents and your beautiful children are blessed to have you both. I am truly inspired each and every time I read your blogs and look at the role model you both are to everyone reading these blogs. God Bless you both to continue to be such wonderful role models and great parents to these beautiful babies and your guardian angel.

Anonymous said...

You guys have no clue who I am, but Brooke's mom shared your lives with me through your blog. I am so, so sorry that you lost your Annaleigh! I will keep you all in my prayers!

Theresa
Mobile, Alabama