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January 25, 2011

A new beginning...

January 25, 2011

One thing that I've always loved to do is write.
When I was happy, I wrote. When I was sad, I wrote.
I think I used it in place of expressing my feelings because I didn't know where else to take them.

About 12 years ago, I stopped writing.

I wasn't exactly sure why. Then I realized that I didn't feel the need to have an outlet anymore, because I had found the one and only who knew my thoughts and feelings. I found the one and only who knew my heart before I put it on paper. I found the Lord!

As a 16 year old girl I was invited to Church and heard the Gospel preached in such a way that I knew I needed Him in my life! I didn't know I could just ask and be saved and have eternal life in Heaven with the Lord. I'm so thankful He made it that easy. On that beautiful August day, the love of my life (my boyfriend, now husband) led me to the love of my life.... The Lord.

I was forever changed and have never been the same since. I had a purpose in life never like before. I was now God's child. I'm so thankful for that.

I wasn't exactly sure what God had planned for me. I knew whatever it was, He would show the way. Rick (my precious Rick) and I got married in 2003. We were attending Crown College at the time and entering our Junior year. We had been dating for about 4 years and were so ready to be married. We wanted to be together always. The one thing you have to understand about Rick and I is this.... We are both the babies. We are both very passionate about everything we do in life. So, both of these things reflect in our relationship always. We have basically grown up together. We have been through it all, so to speak. We have loved and we have lived... We are definitely soul mates. God just knew I needed him. And that I needed Him. Oh where would I be without Rick.... Okay, back to what I was saying (I tend to ramble:)

We got married after two years of Bible college. Then continued on into our junior year. Being newlyweds, in another state and without family around, while attending college could definitely be tough at times. We definitely lived and loved and enjoyed it. We felt God had a great plan for us and we couldn't wait to see where we would be taken.

In December of 2004, we were blessed with a special gift. I was expecting a son. Oh what a joy it was. I have a history of Endometriosis and was told I probably would never have children. So, after much treatment and a couple of surgeries, my OB Dr. Vick advised us to try for a baby. We were young and still attending School but I thought, well, why not. To my surprise, I found out I was expecting! It was right around Thanksgiving. We really had a lot to be thankful for and by Christmas we had told our families. We told them over the phone because we couldn't even wait to go home. =) Sweet Noah Riley was born August the 19th of 2005. He came three months after I graduated college. We had moved home and bought our first house. Rick was working full time in the Church and my world was. Well, pretty much perfect. We had a new life, a new baby, and a new beginning. I was so blessed.

About a year and a half later, we had been encouraged by my new Dr. in Ohio, to try again if we were thinking of having another baby. We would have a sibling for Noah. I wasn't really sure about this yet. Noah seemed so little still but we tried again for fear that the Endometriosis could cause problems in conceiving again.

The Lord blessed us again. I thank the Lord for that. He blessed us with my sweet, sweet double portion. Elijah Braden was born on December 12th of 2007. What a joy! We had another baby to love and cherish, how wonderful. By this point I had decided my life's purpose. The one that I had left up to God was for me to be a mother. I couldn't think of a better occupation. So what if I didn't get an income. So what if I didn't have an amazing resume. I was a Mom. I was needed and there was no greater feeling to me. I went to school to teach. I teach these boys everyday. And most days, they teach me.


So, my story is pretty sweet so far. Right? Read on.... God had some other things in store for us.

Life was wonderful. We were living and loving life. I mean, we had the occasional problems with finances, loses and everyday life. We felt we were right where we needed to be. We were right in the middle of God's will which by the way is always the best place to be! I thought our family had been complete at this time. Rick wasn't really crazy about having more than 2 kids. Although, in my heart, I always wanted another baby. And I was hoping... It would be a girl.

So guess what? =) I found out I was expecting again right before Christmas in 2009. I took a test on Christmas eve and when we told our families and everyone said the same thing.... "Maybe this will be your girl!"... I had hoped they were right!

Unfortunately I never got to find out. When I was 11 weeks I went in for a routine checkup and during an ultrasound was told that there was no heartbeat. I already knew, I'd seen ultrasounds. I knew how big a baby that age should look and I knew I should be seeing that jumping bean move and that heartbeat fluttering. Rick was not with me at the time because I wasn't supposed to have an ultrasound. I was alone. Or so I thought. God was with me, holding my hand through the whole thing. I remember leaving the hospital heartbroken. Once you've experienced the joy of parenthood, you know how heartbreaking it is to suffer a miscarriage. It was like God was telling me He had something greater for me. And did he ever...

After my D&C. I left the hospital feeling empty. If you've ever had one, you know. It causes such pain, such loss and all you get to keep in return is a bill, a debt, nothing else. But I decided to start over, to use this trial in my life for God's Glory. I remember posting on facebook that God was still good. And I've used this experience in life over and over in my SS lessons and in my own testimony. I remember people saying to me I hope I can have that kind of strength and grace from God if I face something like this in my life. And honestly I thought... What can I go through that is harder than this? I thought this was my huge heartache in life that I would always carry with me. I didn't want to try again right away but I still wanted another baby. Even more now...

Rick and I took a Caribbean Cruise that following month and it was wonderful. Even more wonderful that it was completely paid for due to his hard work and dedication to his job. He had started working another job shortly after Eli was born for an amazing company. He is still with them today and I can't express to you how amazing of a job it is. They take such good care of him. We love it. After I returned from the Cruise it was Easter time and I remember telling Rick I felt like I was ready for another baby. He was very apprehensive. He had a hard time dealing with the miscarriage. I can't blame him. It was awful.

I waited a long time to tell everyone I was expecting again because of my late miscarriage prior to this pregnancy. I was about 11 weeks when we finally broke the news to most of our friends and family. There is something so fun about announcing a pregnancy. No mater how many you've had! And that was it! Our new beginning...

My pregnancy had been going amazing. I wasn't sick or tired. I felt great! I had talked my Dr. into doing and ultrasound earlier on and at 17 weeks.

With a room and I mean a room full of people, my dream came true. We were having a GIRL!!! A GIRL!!! I'm still so excited about this. Can you tell? Rick and I were thrilled. I felt unbelievably lucky. I felt like I was going to have the perfect little family. And the boys were so happy to getting a little sister and I was so happy to be getting a little girl...

The day I found out I was expecting this child I gave this baby to God. I usually dedicated them to God at their first Sunday at Church but not this time. She was His from the beginning. He gave her to me and I gave Her back to Him. I still wouldn't have had it any other way. She was His. I prayed for her up until delivery. I prayed God would use her in a mighty way. I prayed for her. I loved her. I wanted her. So very much.

I knew there was something special about her early on. I just had this peace. I had been praying throughout the pregnancy that God would show me that she would be okay. That she was safe. And let me tell you. Dr. appt after Dr. appt. God did just that. How? You may think? Well, he used the birds. My first appt. he brought to sight the most beautiful statue outside our hospital a little girl holding a bird up to heaven. I don't know what it was about it but I knew. She would be okay. And yes, I said she. I didn't tell many people but I knew she was a girl all along. On other appointments he sent little birds hopping in front of my car at stop signs. Flying above my car on the drive home. And even through a pair of earrings my mom had given me tucked in with a baby gift. It was so special. I never really gave a whole lot of thought to the birds until now. Every time I saw one. I smiled. Every time I heard them sing... I knew. She was going to be okay.

Madeline Grace.

That was going to be her name. Rick picked it and even though I had debated the spelling and other middle names. That was her beautiful name. I still love the way it sounds when I say it. My little Maddie Grace. I love her name.

Preparing for Maddie was amazing... I shopped and I decorated. And shopped some more. =)
What? A girl after 2 boys. You would've too. =)

Rick and I prepared the most beautiful nursery that I have ever seen. I still love the room. All this while enjoying the kicks and hiccups that she blessed me with on a daily basis. I was so in tune to her. At one of my appointments my Dr. told me that her heartbeat was beating exactly in beat with mine. It was amazing. I enjoyed carrying her. Every day, I loved it. She made me smile. Even when she kicked so hard it hurt, it just reminded me that this little girl had a lot to say! I knew she was going to do something amazing in life. And she did.

January 6, 2011
This was the day my life was changed forever. This was the day I met my sweet Madeline Grace.

She entered this world with a set of lungs. Man did she wail. And she had more hair than I've ever seen on a baby. She was beautiful.

First I asked if she really was a girl... she was. =) Then I remember repeating over and over again. "Is she really ours Rick, is she really ours?" Maybe that seems like a silly question to you, but she was almost too good to be true. She was beautiful and perfect in every way. Almost too perfect for this world. And she was tiny. So so tiny. After having 8 + lb boys that were both 22 inches in length. A 6 lb 12 oz girl who was 20 inches long, sure seemed tiny to me. By the way she was born 6 pm on 1/6. She liked 6's. She was also the 6th granddaughter on the Ross side. Cool huh?

Well it was official. She was here and we were in love, and so was everyone else. The moment they gave her to me I remember her looking right at me. Eyes wide open, and I know it sounds crazy but she smiled at me. She really smiled. I was her Mommy and she was my Maddie. Of course I placed a huge pink headband on her head and I just sat and held her... Everyone joked she was born with it. She might as well have been. She was snuggled up on my chest and I held her. Everyone was in and out of the room but honestly, I don't remember much of it. I felt like her and I were alone in the room for a while. I just looked at her. Her face. Her hair. Her eyes that were focused directly on mine. The way she kept puckering her lips and smacking them together. Her chubby cheeks that were almost impossible to stop kissing over and over again. She was flushed with the sweetness of new life. She was alive. She was here in my arms moving and living and breathing. I will never forget that moment. ever...

The boys came in to meet their new sister as I kept her warm under my gown. We took pictures of our new family. I was complete. Never in my life had I felt so complete. This was the moment I was waiting for...

My Doctor had told me during the delivery to just look around and soak up the moment. I did. I remember everything so vividly. The look on every ones faces. What they said about her. Watching them hold her. Her first bath. Watching her hair get washed. Everything. I didn't miss any of it. I was so present in that moment, thank God for that. She loved to have her hair brushed (so my daughter :) the nurse kept giggling because she was screaming through her whole bath until she started combing her hair. All that beautiful long hair. Rick got a chance to comb it too. I remember him telling me how she was just looking right at him. She couldn't keep her eyes off of him. And
I know why. She loved him with everything she was. And so do I.

She started fussing again while they were getting her all clean. Noah taking on the big brother role decided to go to her and calm her down. As I watched his sweet Aunt hold him up to her and watching him speak to her, she stopped again. He soothed her and made her stop crying. This totally made sense to me because my whole pregnancy he talked to her and kissed her. Over and over again. He loved her, even in my belly. I did too.

Once her bath was over she got to meet everyone. Her grandparents, and aunts and uncles. Friends and loved ones. She was lucky to be born into such a wonderful family. Everyone loved her so very much. I didn't mind giving her up for a little while but I was definitely ready to have her all to myself. =) So as our visitors left and Rick and I were moved into our postpartum room I was glad. We did it. We made it through the birth and now were a family again. I had the opportunity to feed her and just love on her. No interruptions. No distractions. Just us. Rick and I and our new little girl. We were so blessed and we talked about it over and over again. Our sweet Maddie Grace had already changed our lives!

That first night in hospital was great. We didn't sleep much and I was tired but neither Rick or I minded that she was keeping us up. Even with the lights off and all room being quiet, I could see her little eyes peering right up at me. Still continuing to take it all in. I fed her and changed her and just sat and held her. The nurses didn't bother us and we were just at peace. We laughed because they had asked us to track her diapers on a dry erase board. It seemed like every hour she had a dirty diaper. I had never seen anything like it in a newborn. She kept us busy. I loved every minute of it!!!

By morning, she was finally starting to get sleepy. Most likely because she had been up all night. =) The pediatrician came in to look at her and said she was perfect. She passed her hearing test and got her first shot. She was perfect. Everyone kept saying it over and over. The nurses, the doctors and the pediatrician. Rick and I already knew that but it was sweet that everyone one else thought so too. Finally the nurses and doctors were done with their checkups and we had decided to try to get some rest. Even though it was morning now, we still hadn't slept and so we shut the lights off and Madeline fell asleep. So did Rick. And I was almost there when all the sudden...(knock, knock) Someone was at the door. It was the hospital photographer.

Rick gave me the look like "get rid of her" we were so exhausted, but I just thought, well we should let her take pics. I explained to her that we hadn't slept yet and Maddie Grace was asleep but she was excited and informed me that newborn pictures are actually better when they are sleeping. So we went ahead.

I combed her hair and put her in the sweetest newborn outfit. It was white with tiny pink roses and it had a blankie and hat to match. It was the only newborn outfit I brought. We never imagined that she would be so little.

She was the perfect little poser. I watched as the photographer very carefully and gently moved her into little poses and snapped hundreds of pictures. She kept speaking to her in the softest voice and telling her she wished all the babies were as good as her... She went on and on about how beautiful she was and how she loved all her hair. I was proud. In that moment I thought, wow, my daughter has made me so proud already. It was special. She got to wear the adorable tutu I made her. It was so big on her, but we made it work. I'm so happy she got to wear it. I was so thankful at that point that I was having these pictures done. And I'm even more thankful now.
After she left, we decided to get ready for the day and we knew our visitors would start arriving shortly. Maddie Grace slept through it all... It was now her bedtime.=)

Even though it was now day. She got held, and sang too. She was showered with gifts and visitors all day long and Rick and I loved showing her off. What a blessing she was. It had been snowing and it seemed like it was just the perfect day. I held her and fed her and watch the snow fall. I remember having an overwhelming feeling of God's grace on my life. I just was so in love with life, with my husband, with my boys and with my daughter.

Later that evening we wanted to go home. We had been at the hospital for 2 nights now because we had gone in the night before the induction so they could administer the cervadil. And still having had no sleep we wanted our house and our beds. They said it would be okay as long as we waited for the doctor and pediatrician to okay it. By now our visitors had started to leave and we began to pack up. Madeline had so much stuff already. We couldn't even fit it all on the cart and Rick had to make two trips to the car. It was quite funny.

Finally, it was time. I watched the nurse cut off her security device and we joked about how long her fingernails were. The poor thing kept scratching herself but her little mittens were too big and kept falling off. I watched as Rick put her little tiny self into the car seat and bundled her up. I got into the wheelchair and Rick placed her car seat on my lap. The nurse wheeled us down to the dismissal area and joked with Rick the whole way about the squeaky cart. I had her take a picture of us and got a little sad thinking this was the last time I would take a baby home from the hospital. We thought we were done having children. We loaded Madeline up and we were off. Headed home with our new baby girl.

On the ride home I was a little worried. It had been snowing the last two days and the roads weren't that great. Maddie must have loved the snow, it always snowed from the time she was born. I kept thinking what it would be like to have her home and was wondering what we would do the next day. Oh if I would have known. We brought her inside and of course like the last day I was snapping pictures like crazy. Rick was used to it. He loved it. My dad was there shoveling off our sidewalk and he came in to see his little Maddie. She started to cry as soon as Rick set her down and he ran back to her in an instant to get her out. It was so precious. She already had him wrapped around her little finger and I was loving it! We were home. I talked with my dad for a few minutes before he left and we settled in for the night. It was around 10 pm by this point. We talked about how amazing her birth was and he shared with me that after so much loss of losing his parents and brother she had started to help fill that void. I agreed that she was making our family feel so whole. And that I had never felt so complete before. We both teared up and hugged goodbye. He gave Maddie one more kiss and then left.

Rick and I took our little girl downstairs for a little while to wind down and I rocked her in my new recliner. A place where I planned rocking her for the next year. Holding her close to me. Loving on her. Then a short while later we headed for bed. I had a bassinet set up upstairs for her to be in while she was sleeping and a little changing area to change her diapers. I fed her and hoped to get some sleep. She was wide awake at this point and I began to think I was never going to sleep again. =) Although, I didn't care and Rick and I were enjoying her. At one point he took her and I could hear him singing to her and soothing her. I was trying to get a few minutes of sleep but I didn't. I was enjoying listening to a precious moment between Maddie and Daddy. I had told him I wanted to wait until the next day to show her the room. I wanted it to be light out and I wanted to get pictures of her in there. Of course.=) Rick snuck her in there and gave her a sneak peek anyway. I thought that was cute.

And at one point in the night instead of sitting up in bed, I took her in her nursery to feed her. I got to rock her in her cute pink glider. What a moment. She still hadn't slept and the sun was starting to come up. I knew soon, she would be ready for bed. I was too. But I'm so thankful for that moment of watching the sunshine peek in on my daughters face. What love I felt in that moment. A little while later I got her to sleep finally. And what came next was something I will never forget. The most heartbreaking moment of my life. The moment that has changed me forever.

I looked down and saw that she didn't look quite right. I was holding her but her mouth was open. I touched her face and she didn't move. My sweet girl wasn't breathing. I yelled to Rick that something was wrong with Madeline. In an instant he laid her on the bed and started doing CPR. I took over on the floor as he called 911. I just kept thinking what was wrong with her. What was wrong. I thought I was in a nightmare. After getting off the phone, Rick took over again. He thought he heard her take a breath. I could hear the sirens coming and I ran to open the door. The medics ran upstairs to our room and took Madeline from Rick. We were screaming and crying. We were in a complete state of shock. What was happening and why??? The police officers told us to put on our shoes and go. Go where? I was so confused. They told us to go to the urgent care hospital because she was already on her way. I kept asking the same question over and over again. Is she gonna be okay? Is she okay? No one knew. No one could give me an answer.

The drive there was awful. It seemed like an eternity. We were so sleep deprived, so confused. We just didn't understand how in a moment, she wasn't breathing. In a moment all this had happened. When we arrived at the hospital I didn't know what to expect. We were crying and praying and begging God to let her be okay. They worked on her for a long time and we thought she is going to pull through. My pastor was there praying and we were watching as they tried to put life back into our little girl. But there was none. She was gone. My sweet girl was in the arms of Jesus. It was too short. It wasn't enough time. I didn't understand.

We left the hospital that day empty. Completely empty. The kind of empty you know you can't recover from. I remember my Dad and Rick carrying me to the car. I couldn't walk. I couldn't breathe.

In that moment I knew my life had changed forever. I would never be the same. God had a different plan than I had. He took Madeline home. He wanted her more. And the truth of the matter is, She was His to take. I gave her to Him. She was His...

I have poured out my heart here today. I have shared such intimate moments of my life that have made me who I am in this moment right now. I am weak but God is my strength. I am tired but God is giving me rest. I am nothing. He is everything. It is because of this moment in my life that I am writing this today. And I will be writing from this moment to come. I now have a story to tell. Madeline has a story to tell. This is why I'm writing again, for my daughter. It is for her and the honor of her life. It is so God can get the glory for everything I do. It is because He gave me a gift. A gift of grace.

My sweet Maddie's name means "God's gift." She has been God's gift of Grace on my life.

Will you read along? Will you pray? Will you listen to me pour out my heart here so I can heal? So I can show others what only God's grace can do.

That is why I am writing again. For my daughter. For my Lord...

59 comments:

  1. I can't express my feelings right now. I am sitting here bawling, and amazed that you could even type this. I have two little boys now just like you and remember those sweet moments when we first arrived home. It all seems inconceivable, but when you say "His" grace, it all clicks. Nothing I can say can ease your pain but then that is not my job but His. You are in my thoughts and know that you have shown Christ to me through your words.

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  2. Oh Natalie! I am so glad you started this blog! I truly believe it will help you heal. There is something therapeutic about writing.
    Being able to talk about her, share her story with us, and let your heart go through all the emotions, will be a great help to you.
    I can't tell you how heartbreaking it is to even read this. I couldn't even bear to hear the news that your sweet Maddie Grace had gone Home to Heaven. I fell on my knees and began to pray for you and Rick, and I've been praying ever since.
    Your testimony has been such an encouragement to me and to everyone who reads your posts. God is using you! He is using Rick, and He is using Madeline. I wish I was there to listen to you talk in person, but I'm thankful that I can "listen" to you here. Her life was not in vain. She will continue to be a vessel used of the Lord forever. She was His from the beginning, and she is still His now. God graced your lives with her, and although you hoped it would be for much longer, you are better for knowing her. She has helped make you who you are today, and who you will be tomorrow. I love you, and I'm so proud of you! Praying always <3

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  3. Your words are definitely a testimony of grace. May God continue to give you strength and use your family for His glory. My prayers are with you. I can't help but think about my own Madelyn "Maddie" that has such vigor and life. She even looked as a baby very much like your Maddie, with the head full of hair and beautiful round face.

    May we always remember our lives are not our own, but are for His glory! Maddie's life has and will continue to bring God glory and show His grace!

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  4. Thank you so much for sharing her precious story. What a beautiful gift you had to give back to the Lord. I remember being so thankful I had the perfect gift to give. Especially after he had given me the gift of salvation...not to mention my baby.

    Keep on keeping on and giving God the glory. I love that the devil is getting nothing out of this. He probably thought he could draw you away from God. Don't let Satan get you bitter.

    We are continuing to pray for you and your dear family!!!

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  5. I loved this. My heart is broken for you and Rick. lots of love and prayers.

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  6. Thank you for sharing with us. I am weeping for your loss. I will be praying for you and your precious family.

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  7. Natalie,
    I am so sorry for all that you and your sweet family have had to go through! You have shown me how to be strong in the Lord! I have cried many times thinking of you and your Maddie. I will continue to pray for you all!

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  8. Natalie,
    I continue to pray for you and Rick and your families. My heart aches and my eyes are filled with tears as I read this. There is something your father-in-law shared that has stuck in my head that has helped to understand how this could happen to anyone, especially wonderful people like you and that is "If God was good on Thursday, He can be good on Saturday."

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  9. I just thought of an old hymn we use to sing I am sure you have heard:
    For the God on the mountain is still God in the valley.
    When things go wrong, He'll make it right.
    And the God of the good times
    is still God in the bad times.
    The God of the day is still God in the night.

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  10. Nat...if I can type through my river of tears...you are so precious. As I read all this I could picture all the memories in my mind. I've been so blessed to know you & Rick. We are praying constantly for you & we know God will & is doing great things with your lives and testimony. Praise the Lord for His grace! Praise the Lord for his comfort. It is comforting to know that He is with you & was with you at every moment. Love you, sweet friend. Thank you for sharing...God is using your family to bring glory to the King of Kings.

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  11. Nat, Thank you for sharing your story, Maddie Grace's story, with us. You have done a beautiful job of telling us about her and although I never got to meet her I have fallen in love with your sweet girl as I've read about her and seen her pictures. She was a beautiful angel. I am praying for you as you find your new normal. I am praying God gives you strength you never knew existed as you walk this journey. I am praying that God will mend your broken heart. I am praying that you will continue to see Madeline's life used in ways you never even imagined. Love you girl.

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  12. Natalie, that was beautifully wrote... Thank you for sharing Maddie Grace's story!! God blessed you and your family and all of us with a precious angel! You are always in my thoughts and prayers, I pray God continues to strengthen you and your family.

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  13. Natalie,
    Though we don't know one another well, I feel like you have invited me into your life by opening up your heart for everyone to see. I kept up with your updates through out your pregnancy. They always brought a smile to my day. You are very blessed in life. I am so saddened by your loss of your daughter. Your story also brings me joy though because through you I have seen the light. You have proven that "faith" and "love" for God are all that really matter. No matter how tough it may be to get up in the morning and face another day with out being able to touch and see and smell your precious baby girl....know this: your story has shown me that God is good and God is great. You have truely touched my heart with your story and your love and strength in the Lord. If writing helps you to get through the day then please do it. I promise I won't mind it one bit! I continue to think of you daily and pray for you and your beautiful family. God Bless you Natalie!

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  14. Natalie,
    We don't know each other at all. But I know of you through Heidi :) I just wanted to say thank you for sharing with us your story. It really touched and blessed my heart. I m praying for your and your family. And that God may give you strength every day!!
    Your Sister in Christ, Wendi

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  15. Natalie, i was given your blog as an encouragement from a mutual friend. i am so sorry for your loss. unfortunately i understand your grief. i lost my baby 1.8.11 due to complications with turner's syndrome. i know that God is holding both of us in hands and take such sweet care of our little girls! please feel free to email me anytime if you need someone to talk to or just cry with. thank you for your openness during this journey. love through God's grace!

    aimee loeser
    asloeser@gmail.com
    www.alosplace.blogspot.com

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  16. Thank You for sharing your story! My prayer for you and your beautiful family is that you feel God's loving arms wrapped around you and walking with you in every single step you take!

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  17. Natalie- I am friends with Kelsey and Heidi---my husband and I were there for a year while he went to Seminary---they always would talk about you...
    I have prayed for you from when I heard- and I also told my mom's group to pray!! I am so so sorry and I will be praying for you!

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  18. thank you for sharing your pain as your healing begins. our family prayed for you all last night in our devotions, and i will keep you in my prayers as the days go on. i know God has his arms around you and rick and your boys.

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  19. I've been following your story via Heidi and want to let you know that I am praying for you and your family. I cannot imagine what you could be going thru and facing at this time, but I admire your faith and reliance on God. You're an inspiration to everyone hearing your story. I can't thank you enough for sharing this with us.

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  20. Just as Jessica said, your father-in-law's comment has stuck with me, too. It makes me think of the song that says that He's the God of the good times, He's still God in the bad times. He's the God of the mountain, He's still God in the valley. I'm still praying for your family!!

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  21. You don't know me but I came to hear of you from Tiffany Pearson Cox and Amy Sikorski. Your story was just amazing, I cannot imagine what ya'll are going through but your story of your daughter is just precious. God is going to use you and your daughter for His glory, I am sure of that. Prayers from Arkansas.

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  22. What a sweet, sad, and precious story. I've known Rick since he was a teen but you and I don't know each other that well. I have been praying for God to heal yours and Rick's hearts, as well as, the boys, and the rest of your family. In times like these you want so badly to help, or comfort, or hug, or say something, but your just at a loss. When something inexplicable happens, you just feel helpless to "say or do" just the right thing.
    I have never been through this kid of loss, but when going through the darkest valley, that I have ever known, a sweet preacher's wife said these words to me,.... "What a blessing that God trusted you with this." I honestly didn't know what to say to that. SHe went on though.... "God chose you to go through this because He trusted you to follow HIm, and lean on Him, and be a testimony of Him through it. Who knows, who might be watching, and who knows who will go through this next. And when they do, YOU will be able to comfort them with the love of Jesus, because you trusted Him and they saw it." I don't know if these words help you, Natalie, but I heard about Maddie's service, and the wonderful testimony you & RIck gave, and the two souls that were saved. IF GOD had not trusted YOU to be faithful to Him through this, those two souls might still be lost. I'm still praying for you and your family. Thank you for sharing this with the world, and for being a testimony of God's Grace.

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  23. Your story is an incredible picture of God's grace. Thank you for writing and opening up your lives. At a time where there are no words.... you have wrote and shared only what God can do. Only eternity will tell the lives you have touch through the beautiful life of your sweet Madaline Grace. Love you and praying for you. ~ Christal

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  24. You don't know me, but a friend of mine told me about you. My heart breaks as I read your story. You see, four years ago, the second of my twin sons went to Heaven. He was 10 weeks old. His little brother had already gone to Heaven 9 weeks earlier. I tell you this so that if you need someone to talk to, I am here for you. The pain of losing a child is so great and at times you just need someone who has been there. If you will accept this offer, I would love to help. I believe God let my husband and I go through this trial earlier in order to help those who will experience it later. Your sweet baby girl is so alive now. More alive than she was here on earth. This is such an amazing thing. I will pray for you daily. I promise. My email is: vsteinbach@hotmail.com and my phone# is (208) 871-3768. Please feel free to get a hold of me at ANYTIME. Whether it is now or two years from now.
    Love in Christ,
    Vickie Steinbach
    PS-This is under my husband's account, which is why it says Benjamin is the ID. Sorry!

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  25. Natalie,
    Oh, the grace of God. Thank you for allowing Him to work in your life in such an obvious way. How sweet that your family is touching the lives of so many...even people you don't even know. I have been praying for you and Rick and will continue to do so. May God grow even sweeter to you and you sense His closeness more each day.

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  26. What a testimony...i wept and rejoiced as i read it!

    Psalm 138:8 The LORD will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O LORD, endureth for ever:

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  27. Incredible testimony, I am in North Africa and praying for you in these next few months. Praying for continuing grace and peace for you and your family.

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  28. I am praying for you and your family. Thank you for sharing your families story what a testimony. I pray that God's continues to give you peace and comfort.

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  29. I am praying for your family- I do need to tell you about a wonderful group called Resolve through sharing. It s a group for those who has lost babies either while in utero or just after birth. Your local hospital will probably have a group and if not just look up Resolve through sharing in google and they will help you in finding the correct group for you. There is also a walk for remembering each October where we walk to remember our babies. G-d Bless you and your family

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  30. I am Jeri Lynn's niece, and my heart is weeping for your loss. I can identify with you, except my baby girl was stillborn; I carried her for 9 1/2 months. I still have grieving moments after
    35 years. But I know she is in the Lord's care and it was his plan. I know it is probably too early to say this and I don't know your age but I am sure you will want another child later. I had another little girl and she is now 33 yrs.old. I will pray for your healing, you and your husband and the rest of your family.
    God Bless You.
    Debbie T

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  31. Natalie,

    I am your sister-in-law Adrian's cousin, Patti...my heart goes out to you and your family in such a loss like this :-( Your strength and courage from this blog is overwhelming...you've made me want to re-evaluate my relationship with the Lord! Thank you so much for sharing this intimate story and I will continue to pray for you and your family - may God continue to bless you!

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  32. You don't know me, but I clicked a link to your blog on a friend's FB page. I cannot even express how much Madeline's story means to me. After a year, I am still healing from a loss.
    Thank you for sharing this.

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  33. I am praying for you and your family, for God to just put his arms around all of you. Many HUGS!

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  34. You Are an incredibly strong woman.. And I really look up to you with how you are handle everything.. I really hope your story helps a lot of people the way it is helping me.. Thank you for sharing.. I'm praying for you all.. And know she is being looked after by all the loved ones who gave gone before.. keep you head up and you heart towards Home..

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  35. In just a few days, my wife will be delivering our Esther Jayne. Your story of God's grace is powerful. I will pray for you and your family.

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  36. Thanks for sharing your heart! I just had my 4th child in November. A beautiful baby girl and right now my tears are flowing for you and Maddie Grace! I can only imagine your heartbreak! God is good and he will heal but never replace that love for her! Keep writing! My prayers are for you and your family! How wonderful Maddie is dancing with Jesus!

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  37. Natalie, thank you for pouring your heart out & sharing your story, you have been such a blessing & encouragement to me! Your sweet Madeline Grace has touched my life & so many others. My thoughts & prayers are continually with you, Rick, Noah & Eli.

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  38. Hi Natalie. I know you don't really know me, but I feel like I know you now that I've read your beautiful heart all over this page. <3 And like others have said, reading this and seeing those beautiful pictures of you and your daughter has truly blessed me.

    I know I've already told you this, but I wanted to post it here under your blog as well, Thank you for being courageous enough to share the deepest sorrow of your life with everyone. It takes a strong person to not only cope with what has happened to you, but to want to use it to help others. A very self-less and beautiful thing to do. ♥

    I couldn't help but think about you and Maddie all day today. I couldn't get you off of my mind. I feel such a sorrow in my heart for you, because we have so much in common and your loss struck a very deep cord that resonated in my own heart and life...

    Just know your testimony for the Lord and every picture and word you have shared--God has already used them in my own heart and life to speak to me and make me realize how precious life is and how much I have to be thankful for. I just had to tell you that her life, albeit 2 days, was not in vain and you telling her story is a blessing to us all.

    Love in Christ, Edythe ♥

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  39. Wow! Saw this posted from a friend on facebook. First I am so sorry for your loss but may you find comfort in knowing she is safe forever with the Lord. I myself am going through a huge loss. My husband left me and my three girls back in July. My baby turns one tomorrow. Although I don't always understand why these types of devistations occur. I do know now that God has a much bigger plan for our lives than we do. Keep your eyes on him. He will continue to give you your strength! You are awesome writer as well!

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  40. You do not know me. But, I wanted to make to tell you how brave you are. I have been reading your blog for a few days now. As weird as this sounds, when reading you blog its very calming. I have never felt the pain of lossing a child, but I am sure this is the hardest thing you have every done. And I want to thank you for sharing ur story with me. If it any help. I belong to a group called BabyandBump.com their are alot of moms on the site that have gone threw the same thing you have. And if you ever need an outlet or want to chat with familys that are going threw the same thing as you, please go and chat with them. They are a great group of ladies. I have shared you story with them, if you don't mind.

    Here is the link if you ever want to take a peak at it.
    http://www.babyandbump.com/stillbirths-neonatal-loss-sids/

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  41. There are no words, only prayers can comfort. You have mine. You have walked the path every woman fears, and many have experienced. Only our God has the answers and the comfort you need now and every day He gives you to be a testimony of His Amazing Grace.

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  42. Your story is so heartbreaking! I lost my baby boy, Jacob, almost 11 years ago. I remember God's grace was so real to me in the days and months that followed. It was bittersweet - sweet to feel the comfort of our Lord and Savior but the pain was so intense, so physical. I know the pain that you speak of when you wonder how you can even go on but God gives Grace. I still cry and miss my little boy sometimes but God is always there to love me and lift me up. May God give you the comfort that only HE can give.

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  43. Wow...I'm speechless! I'll be praying and following along...I'm so sorry for your loss....

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  44. You don't know me but I wanted you to know that I WILL PRAY! Thank you for sharing, I will hug my kids extra tight and think of you and your precious little girl. BTW I found your blog when I was reading this blog, http://kandjstaats.blogspot.com They lost their little Maddie and today is her funeral.

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  45. Natalie - What a beautiful blog! We lost our son, Jack, this past December. He was only four months old and I have been blogging (though not nearly as often or as beautifully as you) about our journey through life without him. I will keep you and your family in my prayers!! God bless you all! ~Annie Staebler, Delafield, WI

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  46. I am sobbing my way through this comment- I cannot- CANNOT imagine the pain you must have felt, and must still be feeling. I found your blog through your profile picture on my Lily's blog- I am just weeping. Please know that you have a new friend praying for up. I have not even read through your other posts, but I can already tell you are so amazing. Thank you for sharing your beautiful heart. oxoxPatti

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  47. Hello my name is Felicia.
    I found your blog from a comment you left on another blog.
    Every time I read a BLM (baby lost mom) story I say, "that is just heart breaking..the worst I've ever read." Then I read another and another...Its so heart breaking to see others suffer the same tragic story over and over. I too have lost. You can follow me @ tanaleedavis.blogspot.com
    Your story was powerful, one of deep sorrow and triumph in the mist of a storm. It moved me so, I relate to so many things you spoke of in your story. Others I cannot but you and I are apart of the same grief club, no one is worse than others...we all cry for the same thing. Our babies lost too early in life. I hope to follow your journey and help you in anyway possible.
    ~Felicia

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  49. I am sitting here crying. You are speaking exactly how I feel. I was on FB and saw this on a friend's page. God really doe's work in mysterious way's. I have been having a terrible time awaiting the two year anniversary of my son's passing. Jackson Philip Barnett 7~13~09. People say it will get better, it doesn't. It is worse, I miss him so much and do not understand why God took him. I had him at 6 mnth's. He was beautiful just like Maddie. You are an inspiration and have touched my heart. Maddie is a beautiful little angel. There was a reason I saw your blog, I will pray for you continuesly. I also have a son Haden who is a beautiful gift from God. But I am still in so much pain from losing my baby. They are in God's hand's, but I just don't understand. God bless you and your family alway's.

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  50. Hi,
    My Name is Rolline Hosea
    I come from a small country located in the south pacific ocean called Vanuatu.
    I am sitting crying for you loss.I do have a daughter, her name is Maella Jemelina. She was born on the 5th January 2010.Please know that you have a new friend praying for up.
    God really doe's work in mysterious way's...
    I pray that your love for each other will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in your knowledge and understanding...
    Hugs & Love from Rolline

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  51. Found your blog on another angel mommies blog. Your story is so sad and heartbreaking. I can't even imagine. Why did she stop breathing? (not trying to seem rude, just curious if there was a cause) she is such a beautiful baby. She has so much hair :) ienjoy reading all Of your testimonials. I have been lacking in the faith department lately and you have truly helped me. God bless your family

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  52. I don't know you either. Know God our father will heal you. I will pray for your family!

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  53. I know I'm coming to this blog post 17 months Jan 11, 2011 of SIDS. He was 16 weeks, 2 days old. We didn't get enough time here. But, praise God, we will have eternity to come. Thank you for your testimony and willingness to share. I'm so happy you have your 6 month old rainbow. Prayers for you today.

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  54. I am so amazed by the strength in you, that God has given you. Tears are streaming down my face, almost too hard to control. You know, this morning I woke up angry. I woke up angry and irritated that my daughter was crying and wouldn't fall back asleep. You see, she likes to do her own thing, and I get so frustrated, so easily, and this morning was no different. I started thinking I need to pray, I need to pray, but my irritation was so stong, I fed her, let her fall asleep, and set her down next to me,

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  55. As soon as I sat her down, she started to squirm again and get fussy. My irritation continued, and I was angry. I told myself that I needed to empathize with her because she is sick, and I am sick too. When I'm sick I want to be taken care of and given extra love, and that is what she needs. I decided to look up the words "empathizing with your baby" in google. I just felt like I needed something to calm me down. And that's when the link for your blog was the first option google pulled up. It had the words Gods gift of grace....I clicked on it, and read the story of Elijah crying for baby Maddie and wanting to go to heaven. I started crying.
    God led me straight to your story, because he knew what my heart needed.
    Our children are our gifts from God. Everyday is a challenge, but a blessing and love that God has given us.
    Thank you Natalie, for sharing your story. It is truly amazing the strength and love that runs through you, and I pray for your family and the blessings God has given you, and will continue to give you.

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  56. Wow, I just read your story for the first time today, found your site through a friend. Our stories are almost identical. I am so sorry for your loss.
    I had a baby girl June 11,2012, and she died at 2 days old, just stopped breathing.
    I still can't believe it, but I have Jesus and an amazing hubby. We loved her so much and it all is such a huge mystery to us. Thank you for sharing and for continuing on drawing closer to the Lord. I can see it is such a blessing to everyone reading!

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  57. Natalie,

    Oh my goodness. I sit here in New York, sobbing, speechless. I am so sorry for your great loss of your sweet little girl, Madeline. When I read your story, my heart stopped. I could not imagine what you went through, how you dealt with such a crisis. Then again, I do. God. He really is up there, isn't he? and boy, does he work his way into our hearts! I read most of the comments already posted and it seems like a lot of them are adult women, mothers, etcetera. You see, im not a mother, not a wife, not an adult woman. I am 15 years old. However, I am certainly not your typical sophomore in high school girl, im a nanny. Working only part time, I spend my evenings and weekends taking care of my dear Maxwell Douglas. Only three months have gone by and I can feel myself becoming more and more attached to this little boy. Reading your nightmare of a story makes me realize how much I love him. Im not even his mother, but I would give up my life for him if I had to. I really would. People have always talked about the "Mama Bear" instinct, and now that I have a little taste of what its like, I cannot even begin to fathom losing a child of your own. I already thank my Lord each night for four things: my loving family, my supportive friends, my wonderful boyfriend of two years,Daniel, and Maxwell(or 'Swell, as I call him); however, your story has really made me realize how lucky I am to be chosen to be apart of this little boy's life. Thank you so much for sharing your story, and may the grace of God our Lord be with you and yours always. Also, thank you for giving me the encouragement to thank God a little more frequently, remind my loved ones that I love them a little more, and to hug my Maxwell a little tighter each night. God Bless you and yours, Natalie.

    Love in Christ,

    Madeline Grace

    Ps. Im not joking about the name, this is the one I was born with! Now that im confirmed its Madeline Grace Aurelia. What a gorgeous name you chose for your little girl! ;)

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  58. PPS. I found another weird connection to myself and your story, I too suffer from Endometriosis. I was diagnosed in seventh grade and had a surgery in eighth. I probably wont be able to have children either, but I keep praying.

    God Bless. Maddie

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  59. God bless you and your beautiful family. I was touched by your story, that I just happened to stumble upon. May you continue to find God's grace everywhere you look.

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