Tuesday, November 30, 2010

{Learning To Be a Family}

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Last Friday we picked Angela up from her Foster home and began our four day visit with our little girl!  We really had the most amazing time spending time with each other and really learning to be a family.  Truth is, there really isn't much learning going on.  I'm really not exaggerating when I say it really feels like she has always been apart of our family.  She is so very sweet and has some major personality -- which again -- fits right in with my other cool kiddos.  

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It's kinda interesting because I was thinking back on our first visit with Angela.  I remember falling in love.  I remember thinking she was just so sweet, meek and quiet.  Well she certainly is sweet, but she is not very quiet. She is so funny.  Although she is mainly non-vocal, she loves to talk, much like a baby would when they find their voice.  She also likes to tell you when she is not happy with the a scream that turns her face bright red!  I love it, it's actually quite helpful as I've learned her dislikes rather fast.

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She loves to be rough housed -- the rougher and crazier the better.  She giggles and smiles when ever you simply take the time to engage her.  She can be a tough one to get to know -- you really have to look past her presentation and change your thinking a little bit.  Not being able to see the world around you really changes everything -- but once you think more how she might be thinking, it's really lots of fun!


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We spent the weekend decorating for Christmas, went to the mall and spoke with Santa for a bit - convinced Madison she is in deed on the good list (as she is very concerned about this) and hung out as a family.  Angela loves to go.  She loves the stimulation and the lights outside.  Adam and I were concerned at first when we started this process that we might get a child who is not as tolerant of our crazy lifestyle as our bio kids are -- no worries here.  God really picked out a perfect little girl for our family.  She really seems to thrive on activity. Buy Monday she was moving her arms more -- intentional hitting crinkle toys on the floor, talking way more and when Adam came home from work on Monday she about flew off the floor into her daddy's arms and talked -- it was priceless.

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Madison has been amazing.  I tired to take her out on a date to Starbucks on Saturday night and she turned me down.  She insisted that she has to stay with her sister -- this will wear off.  Madison loves having a little sister -- it's a very unique experience, which is kinda cool.  There is no replacing little Gavin -- this is just an amazing addition.

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The topper of our visit was at the YMCA yesterday.  Madison and I took Angela to the special needs class to get a little work out.  Another mother came up to me and asked if "these two girls" are mine. I proudly got to say yes.



That was totally awesome.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

His Grace...

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His grace leaves me speechless.  I look back over our families story and see time after time how God was working in tiny ways, directing our journey -- making us turn when we needed to turn and helping us to stop when it was time to say goodbye.  It's really both overwhelming and exciting to think how God's hand has been resting heavy on our family.  His Grace is truly amazing -- choosing Adam and I to care for the most amazing children, even though we are totally and completely inadequate to fully carry out His amazing plans.

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This year we have even more to be thankful for.  I wish God would give me the words to be able to express just how grateful we are.  The only picture that comes into my mind is just one of complete surrender -- this mommie laying flat on her face in complete awe and overwhelming greatfulness.  It's like when someone gives you the most amazing gift -- you want to kiss the very ground they walk on, it leaves you speechless.  I feel way more than speechless.  The gifts that I have been given is overwhelming.

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This time last year we were beginning to see God's plan unfold in the aftermath of the death of our little boy.  We always knew God had amazing things in store -- even in the depths of Gavin's suffering and in the deep pain that flowed after his death.  Little did we know that one year later we would be awaiting the placement of our amazing and sepcial little girl.


It's really crazy to think about.

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The fact that God really birthed her into this world just for us is an awesome thought.  He knew the perfect time for her to enter our world and knew her exact personality and how it would mesh with our family.  I've been noticing that Angela seems very comfortable with our voices -- I just wonder if all along God has allowed her to hear to sounds of her mommies voice deep in her heart.


I just wonder.

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Our family was perfectly designed.  Madison is simply amazing.  Even in her typical five year old world -- this beautiful essence flows from her that sets her apart.  Her love and concern -- her ability to cope and adjust is so cool.  I am so thankful for the husband God choose just for me.  A man who would love me for me and stand beside me in not only taking on new challenges but loving every second of it.

God is so good.  His grace is overwhelming.


Click here to read last year's Thanksgiving Post -- it's one of my favorites of all time.  We learned to many lessons in the midst of our deepest mourning.

Monday, November 22, 2010

{Introducing Our New Little Girl}



What an amazing week it has been. This time last week we were praying so hard that we would be chosen to be Angela's mommie and daddy -- and now we are counting the days until she comes home! We got to first meet out little girl for a short visit on Thursday of last week and it was just amazing.


We walked into her current home and my heart just melted as I saw her sitting in her chair. I had dreamed of the first time we met -- would she smile in my arms? Well -- she cried from the time I said hello and continued on for the first ten minutes or so. Love it! My girl is feisty and she lets the world know her needs!




Yesterday we went and picked her up for our first day as a family. It was crazy, wonderful, scary, full of laughs and filled with lots of learning! By the end of the day it felt like she has always been apart of our family -- like there was no mistake -- she was meant for our family!


Angela is two years old and has had a pretty rough start to life. She was born premature which left her with significant impairments. She is diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, spastic quad to be exact and also has cortical blindness. Cortical blindness is a tricky diagnosis because no one can really fully say what she can and cannot see. We noticed that we always looks to the light source -- but also always turns towards a voice or sound she finds interesting. She is a very happy little girl, in fact she smiled and giggled the entire day!




She loves to be engaged -- which makes sense when you consider that she can't really see the world around her -- you have to make the world come alive to her in creative ways. She loves all the typical toddler tickle games and when you are talking to her make sure you gently touch her so she knows that you are indeed talking to her.




We are so eager to bring her home. She seemed to comfortable with us and it's hard to take her back -- the only real way to know her and for her to know us is by just starting life. Having patience is not our specialty -- but we are trusting that God has the perfect timing for Angela to come home!   We have a tenative date of December 10th for her placement. We will have her for this coming weekend and then for the next unless we can convince them to let her come home. 

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Welcome to our sweet little girl -- you are already so very loved!



***Just a reminder that we are not allowed to ahow her face untill the adoption is finalized -- she's beautiful, take my word for it!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

{While You're Waiting}

So on Thursday we got to meet our new little girl.  The experience was just breath taking and she -- well is totally freakin' amazing!  We are going to spend the day with her on Sunday and then I plan on taking lots of photos to post and we'll share all about our new little on.

Adoption is tricky on the photog front because we just can't post full photos of her, due to the legal issues that surround us until her adoption is finalized.  But we have been given permision to get creative and share her photos in, well, creative ways.

While you wait for our amazing adoption update, go over to my photog blog and check all my new session previews.  It's been a busy year!


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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

{Dear Angela}

Dear sweet little girl -- You don't know me, but I'm your mommie.  I can't believe that tomorrow I will see you for the first time.  I have so many questions running through my mind.  I am overwhelmed with joy at the thought of you in my arms but at the same time mommie is so nervous and scared. 


I wonder so many things. What will you look like, what does your skin and hair feel like.  I long to know you in a way only a mommie can know her little girl.  I know it will take time, but mommie is so very ready to start this beautiful dance with you, my new child.  I think I'll let you lead for a bit.  I want to see how you move and flow and then eventually mommie and daddy will take the lead and help you move in the most amazing ways. 

I have dreamed of you for so long.  I want to look past all the labels that have been placed on you in your short life and see the potential deep inside your little spirit.  

You have an amazing family waiting anxiously for your arrival. We promise to listen to you -- give you time and grace to adjust to your new home.  Just know that mommie and daddy's arms are wide open ready to receive you in the most intimate way and give you the love and care you deserve -- and when you are ready we will begin the most amazing journey, a new chapter -- a crazy cool new dance.

Don't worry baby girl, you are coming home -- forever home, very soon. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

{So Faithful}

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Seriously -- I almost have no words to describe the happiness that is rushing though my heart and mind.  Today we were told that the little girl we have been hoping and praying for will indeed be our little girl!

Our entire day feels like a complete blur.  The intense feelings this morning almost had both Adam and I passed out on the floor.  Oh the pressure -- interviewing for your possible child.  The interview was so laid back and went so smoothly, but really folks -- interviewing for your child?!  Oh the intensity that accompanies such a meeting.

Needless to say once again God has showed himself so faithful to our family.  In the depth of our mourning the most beautiful thing has emerged and we are totally excited to watch it grow!

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Our little girl's name is Angela -- which still feels so surreal to even say. She is a beautiful child and we can't wait to meet our little girl! There is a bit of a process to actually get her home but we are ready for the crazy weeks ahead.  We really don't know when exactly she will be home.  We are praying so hard that she somes home to us sooner than later -- this could be the most difficult part for us.  The uncertianty really just continues -- and our trust that God has this all planned out really needs to follow.  Our first meeting will hopefully be this week and then we will go from there.

Oh goodness -- I can hardly wait.

Today I walked into her room and dreamed the most amazing things for her.  Despite her disabilities I just know she has an amazing life ahead of her -- as apart of our family and as a part of this world.  Like her big brother, I kinda have a feeling she has some amazing things to teach us all!

God is so very faithful!

Friday, November 12, 2010

{Anticipation}

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When I was pregnant with both Madison and Gavin I never really got to experience a lot of the things that new mommies to be often experience.  Madison was born at 34 weeks, but I had been on strict bed rest since around 24 weeks and never really got to experience all the fun stuff that comes along with carrying a baby inside your belly.  Then of course with Gavin I was on bed rest from around 20 weeks on and my water broke at 28 weeks leaving me sitting in a hospital bed for two weeks until he made his entrance.  I never had a baby shower, I never was able to fully enjoy the moments that come before the baby actually get here.

This time it's so different.

Even though I'm obviously not growing this little one in my body -- the thought of her is totally growing in my heart and soul.  I feel like, what I can assume mommies to be feel towards the end of their pregnancy.  When will it happen? -- what will the baby look like? -- what will it feel like, and so many other fun things.


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Adoption is amazing on so many levels.  I expect there to be challenges but so far it's all just really cool.  Even if this little girl currently trying to get isn't the one for us -- eventually we know it will happen.  I find myself wanting to prepare and get ready -- almost like that nesting phase.  The only difficult part it that we do need to step back a little.  Our excitement for this little girl is growing stronger everyday but we need to remember in the back our of minds that we may or may not be her mommie and daddy -- and we need to be ok with that.

We were told to have questions ready for our meeting on Tuesday with DHS and all the child's and agency's workers -- it's so awkward, because if I could I would make the meeting last all day!  I want to know everything about her.  Everything from her birth story to how she finds comfort.  What are her favorite sounds -- what makes her smile? 

Oh goodness -- the excitement is overwhelming!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

{Spring is Just About Here}

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A few day's after we lost our sweet little boy a few people gave Adam and I some music by Steven Curtis Chapman.  I have to admit this is not really my style music -- but his story was near to our hearts, as he too lost a child.  This music was birthed out of his mourning and processing the tragic loss of his daughter.  These songs helped me through some of my most intense moments after Gavin's death.


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There is one song on this album that paints the most beautiful picture of our life and particularly the season we are in right now.  I've posted a little on it before and you can go read that another time.  Anyway, the song talks about how death is like the season of winter  -- the ground is so hard and the air is brutal.  The song talks about how the tears of our grief are like seeds that we are sowing into the ground.


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In the back of our minds we know that winter will end -- but it can often feel so far away.  But little did we know that the seeds that we planted in the midst of our grief are beginning to grow.  Soon, despite the groans of our mourning we can start to hear the music of the birds -- the warmth of the sun begin to touch our souls.


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Then it happens -- new life breaks though.

November 8th holds some of the most painful memories we will probably ever have as a family -- but in the depths of our pain our season is changing.  The seeds that we once sowed are beginning to grow.  


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Yesterday on the one year anniversary of our little boy's death our family received our official approval that we are an adoptive family for whatever amazing child God already has chosen for us.  Signing the papers was so surreal on so many levels.  Our little boy gave us an amazing gift, both in his life but also in his death. I couldn't think of a more beautiful way to remember his death than ushering in the presence of new life.




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Simply breathtaking.

Needless to say we are so excited.  Although we kinda already felt like we were an approved family -- now it is official.  We have our interview for a little girl on the 16th -- we love this little girl so much and we are trusting that if this is the child God has for us, the interview will go smoothly and with ease.  We want to give this little girl an amazing life apart of our family -- and we are totally ready to receive her into our crazy amazing life.


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I have a feeling this is going to be an amazing season.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Day Our Little Boy Died

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I just can't believe it has been one year since we have touched our little boy.  In many ways it feels like it was just yesterday.  There are some memories like the feel of his hair and the puffiness of his hand that are so strong it feels he is right here with me -- and in other ways it feels like it was all in the distant past.

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The craziest thing about losing a child is that one year later the rest of the world has moved on, yet the love for our child is just as strong if not stronger than they day we left that hospital.  It's difficult. But on the other hand I look at our family and what we have become -- what we have overcome and I am left in awe.  

Death is a crazy thing.


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Many people look at our life and our families story and see so much pain -- they see a journey that many feel they could never walk.  It's kinda crazy but Adam and I look at our journey and our little boy and we see this amazing story unfolding -- a beautiful picture of what God is all about.  A story that tells of grace, trust, love, hope and even joy peeking though. 

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I look back over Gavin's death and it totally blows my mind how God orchestrated all the details -- everything he knew I as a mother needed -- everything Madison, Adam and Gavin needed, he provided it all in way or another.

Many people look at Gavin's death as an abrupt cold ending to a beautiful life -- we choose to see it as an amazing life perfectly planned, not ended short but rather finished right on time. I look at our last photos of our child and I see a sick little boy that was about to find freedom -- how can a mother not get excited about that.

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Yes -- the pain runs so deep, and it always will.  When I fully give God my pain and my grief, amazing things start to happen.  It's like my eyes begin to open a little wider, seeing the things are hidden under sorrow.  Seeing the promises He has fulfilled and embracing the restoration he has promised our family.  

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Today I not only celebrate our little boy's healing -- his end to his suffering, but also the healing of our family and the beautiful beginning of a new chapter.




November 8th, 2009 -- 8:00am




We are so tired.  Tired is probably not even a good enough word for the state we are in.  Watching our child suffering is unbearable.  Gavin spent most of the night with O2 levels in the low 60's to low 50's -- yet he is still trying to keep going.  His lungs are almost completely filed with fluid and his is swollen and grey.  We are having so much difficulty keeping him comfortable.  He is on lethal doses of narcotics and we also started with sedation medications -- but he is still building tolerance as the hours go by.  His CO2 levels are probably so high at this point that he really isn't cognitively intact anymore but it is very difficult to hear him cry out.

I sat with him for a few hours last night and rested by hand of his chest just praying that each breath would be his last -- that he would realize that he didn't need to fight anymore.  He could stop suffering. 

Today we are stopping all fluids is hopes it will help this process.  We are also seeing if we can begin Propofol to help him stay sedated and peaceful.

We can feel your prayers.  Through all of this Adam and I have a sense of peace -- knowing that the end will be a moment of joy and freedom for his tired body. 





Gavin passed away at 10:42pm snuggled up with Mommie and Daddy. 

Sunday, November 7, 2010

When He didn't Die -- This Time Last Year

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Nothing could have prepared us for what was going to happen after we removed the biPap.  We brought Madison in to say goodbye to her brother and then asked all our family to leave the room so Adam and I could just have one last quiet moment with our little boy.  The docs soon same in and removed the life support.  I cried the deepest of cries and took Gavin's swollen hand in mine and continually stroked the side of my face -- trying desperately to make a memory of his touch that would never leave my heart and mind.

Little did I know what was about to happen.

Gavin, after not breathing on his own for more than 48 hours decided it was time to breath.

I remember him breathing in and out and although his breath was very wet and shallow he was breathing -- enough to sustain life -- for now.

By this time last year we had been sitting at Gavin's bedside for almost 24 hours waiting and watching for his last breath.  These were some of the horrible memories I have as a mother.  Although Gavin was breathing it was not enough and he basically had a very slow drowning in his own fluids.  It was terrible.

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I remember after our family left for the night watching Gavin waking up and panicking for air -- he could not breath and there was nothing we could do for him other that pray he would find rest.  We were assured by the docs that while Gavin seemed to be alert at times there was no way his brain could possably be in tack enough to actually feel and realize what was going on.  His O2 saturation's were in the 70's for almost a day now and we would watch as this horrible cycle of thinking this was it -- holding him and crying -- and then soon realizing that we was still going.

The photos that I wanted to share are of a drawing that Madison made for Gavin.  These are precious memories of my two little ones -- Madison caring so deeply for her brother and trying to comfort him in his last days.  If you look closely in the one photo yu can see Madison wiping the drool off Gavin's little mouth. After we removed the biPap was said good bye later that night, Gavin was awake and I handed him this drawing from Madi.  He held on to that picture so tightly and held onto it for hours until I removed it after he fell back asleep.

We buried Gavin with Madison's drawing.

Despite the horrible last 52 hours of Gavin's life, enduring a slow death I will forever be grateful that God allowed his story to end this way.  Most of Gavin's life we were not able to hold him and cuddle.  For one reason, Gavin just didn't like to be held.  At any one time he could have six or seven tubes coming from different parts of his body -- he felt very safe and comfortable sitting in his wheelchair where all his tubed were supported.  After Gavin was off the biPap for awhile his O2 levels were so low that he was practically gone already.  Adam and I were both able to lay in bed with him, hold him, talk to him and cuddle -- an amazing gift that we could not have had, had things gone as planned.

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The support that we received from our family, friends and hospital staff was amazing.  Our family stayed by our sides and at a nearby hotel until eventually we told them they could go, as we didn't know how long his death would take.  After all -- we all had said goodbye.  Our social worker from duPont who is now a great friend stayed with us in the room for most of the 52 hours -- an amazing support to us and a great liaison between us and the hospital staff.  Next to out attending who was out of the country, she knew Gavin best.  

All these little things that happened -- amazing gifts that I thank God everyday for.



November 7th, 2009


Wow-- what a past 48 hours it has been.  Gavin is still fighting and we are just waiting for him to find peace.  Yesterday around 3pm we made the decision to remove Gavin from the biPap as it was just acting like a ventilator and he was not triggering his own breaths.

We all mourned and cried as we said our final goodbye.  The doctors waited in anticipation of the inevitable but that still, 8 hours later has not happened.  Gavin decided to breath on his own.  He is not breathing well and is only sating in the upper 70's right now and his lungs are filling with secretions.

This is not what we expected -- this is not what anyone expected.  His CO2 levels are rising which may give him a peacful death but also triggers his body to breath.  The doc said that when an individuals O2 is in the upper 70's they will see a cycle begin to occur.  The body is triggered to breath and the O2 goes up a bit and then falls back down -- that's where we are at.  It will not be until be is in the low 70's that his body will probably not be able to recover and then he will finally be at peace.

Adam and i are a mess.  Yesterday when we took him off the biPap we mourned the loss of our baby boy.  To have to watch him go through a slow death is almost unbearable.  It will happen and we know that but it is difficult for us to see him as we already kinda let him go.

Madison is having a very difficult time as well and is very confused.  My family came back to the hospital today and Madison did not want to come.  She didn't understand why she had to come back -- why we were still here, if Gavin was already in Heaven.  It's so hard. 

Please pray so hard Gavin can stop fighting and just finally find some peace.  He has fought so hard his entire life this is the only thing he knows how to do.  It is horrible watching him go through this.  We feel like we are having to watch him die twice.