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.
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...