Waves of Grief

I think about my daughter every single day but I don’t cry every time I think about her anymore. I’m able to think about a fun memory and smile or think about how she would have responded to something if she were here and that usually makes me laugh. She was a stinker! She liked to tease people and she also liked to kick people (mostly me). Haha!

Yesterday was my birthday and one of those days where I cried because I miss her so much. I wanted all my kids with me for my birthday but it’s just not going to happen on this side of heaven. Nobody knows that I cried (until now). I try my hardest not to cry in front of other people anymore. When she first died I couldn’t control it but over the years I’ve learned how to contain it most of the time. There’s a hardening you have to go through after your child dies in order to keep living. For me, I zone out if others talk about something that could be a trigger for me. I can’t allow myself to go there all the time. It’s exhausting being the person who cries all the time and physically aches for the child you buried. I wish I wasn’t the mom who buried her child and that my complaints were only the typical mom complaints of being tired because the baby was up all night (I do have that as well though). I don’t want to be this person who is overwhelmed by things that wouldn’t have phased me before. So many people tell me I’m strong for going through what I have but I honestly feel weak most of the time. Some days I feel like I’ve got it together and I can tackle whatever the day throws at me but those days seem to be few and far between now.

Today was not a day that I felt like I could tackle anything. I didn’t get much sleep and Everett was extra needy first thing this morning. Our little man is also having a minor procedure which is probably what added to my stress and inability to control my frustrations. It wasn’t until the nurses came to take our tiny guy back for his procedure that it really hit me though…the last time I was here for my baby to have a surgery was the one Addy didn’t come home from the hospital after. It’s not that I didn’t know this but it hit me hard when they came to take him. I gave him squeezes and kisses and told him I love him then froze as the memory flashed through my mind. I got this sinking feeling in my stomach and my eyes started to burn as tears tried to start coming. The nurse must have noticed and reassured me for a second time that he is going to be fine and that they will take good care of him for me. I’ve never doubted that my babies wouldn’t be well cared for here. It’s the reason we still come even after Addy died here. I can’t imagine taking my babies anywhere else. I know our doctors care and do everything they can for all children, regardless of a diagnosis. Now I sit here alone waiting for him to come out so I can give him all the snuggles and love when he is done. Stupid covid.

Knowing God has a plan and loves him more than I ever can doesn’t take away all of my nervousness. But I do know if things go wrong (according to man) that my God will always be there helping me keep living his purpose for my life. And he is with our baby boy every step of the way. I look forward to the day when I can share his story and all he has overcome. As of now he should officially be our baby by summer (but things can always change) and I can share all the amazing miracles God has done for our tiny guy. I know God has big plans for our tiny fighter!

2nd Birthday

As birthdays approach I find myself feeling nervous. For Addy it was because we knew her time with us would be limited and we didn’t know if she would make it to her next birthday. We celebrated half birthdays for her as well as her actual birthday. We celebrated our baby girl’s birth 4 times and then she was gone. When we celebrated her second birthday I didn’t really think she would be gone before her third birthday. She was doing so well and gave us no reason to think she wouldn’t keep thriving. Yet only two months and eleven days later I held her as she took her last breaths on earth. It wasn’t supposed to be that way. I was supposed to take my baby girl home to keep celebrating more birthdays. I wasn’t supposed to have to bury my two year old. This wasn’t part of my plan. But God…He can turn any heartache and pain into something beautiful. That doesn’t mean the pain goes away but it does give purpose to the pain.

Tomorrow my Everett turns two and it leaves me with mixed feelings. I’m excited that he is getting bigger (I know, not the typical mom feeling) and I’m also nervous that he’s turning two. He will be the age Addy was when she died. Watching my baby boy grow up is so fun (and exhausting). It’s all I wanted for Addy-to watch her grow up. Nobody is guaranteed tomorrow but there’s something about this age. Will I have a child that lives past the age of two? Am I going to be extra nervous this whole year of his twos? Is there anything I should be doing to prevent him from dying too? Obviously these are irrational fears but that’s what happens when you live the unimaginable. It’s not that I live in constant fear but they definitely sneak in from time to time and I have to work to fight it back.

I haven’t found the answer for how to stop those fears from creeping in. I haven’t figured out how to not get nervous about what the future holds. I have found that calling it what it is and going to what I know is true has helped. I know God told us we would face struggles and pain in this world. I just wish sometimes it would let up. But since that isn’t going to happen it gives me more reason to live in anticipation of being with my savior where heartache and pain are no more.

Tomorrow I will do my best to focus on the day and my big boy growing up into the silliest, most fun-loving, dancing like no one is watching, strong-willed, best hugger, crazy, sweet guy. He’s going to do great things with all God has given him!


This year May came in like a wrecking ball, to say the least. Total mayhem. Not all bad and definitely not all good either. I brace myself for the emotional rollercoaster that comes with the month of May each year but nothing could have prepared me for what lie ahead this time.

Obviously this year has already been different in so many ways. Being shut in 24/7 during a pandemic is not something I ever imagined would happen. We have handled it as best we can. Teaching online with a one year old who wants constant attention was not the easiest but we managed and made it through! Online teaching isn’t even what created the mayhem this month though.

Everett woke up May 2nd a little grumpier than normal and didn’t want to eat his breakfast which is not like him at all. He loves to eat. I didn’t think much of it until 20 minutes later he had a disgusting diarrhea diaper. I figured his tummy must have been bothering him with getting that out and that was why he didn’t eat. I was FaceTiming my mom (a much more frequent thing now with not being able to see people) and he came to sit next to me on the couch. Next thing I know he starts vomiting. On my couch, then the floor. The next 11 days it was constant diarrhea (every 30-45 min most of those days) and vomiting for about 6 of them. Day one was a Saturday so I did teledoc and got zofran for him but then he started running a fever later that day and I called the on call nurse for his pediatrician. It was the same thing though, just try to keep him hydrated, give Tylenol and ibuprofen, and wait it out for now. He did not improve over the weekend so I took him to his dr Monday morning and they did a stool sample (that was fun to get-I was sent home with the tube to collect it in and brought it back to them). We got the results the next day…salmonella. I went through all the possible ways he could have gotten it with the dr but we have no clue where it came from. The only thing to do was keep him hydrated and wait for it to pass. The following day is when he decided to sleep all day and it was a battle to get fluids in him. He slept through the night and the next morning refused liquids and the small amount I got him to drink he vomited up. So, the one thing I really wanted to avoid happened…we were sent to the ER where he was admitted for dehydration. This was day 5 of salmonella, we were told it would pass in 4-7 days. He was supposed to be improving (or so we thought). The ER dr said he would likely have the diarrhea for 14 days and the fever that was coming and going would last another few days. Thankfully at that point the vomit was less frequent and the morning he was admitted ended up being his last vomit. He stayed one night and received IV fluids throughout the night. He woke up feeling much better and was ready to eat something. This was the first time since he was sick that he actually wanted to eat. My poor baby lost almost 3 lbs during this whole ordeal. We were sent home the next day once his intake was greater than his output. While sitting in that hospital room holding my miserable baby, I thought “of course this is happening in May.” Three years before we were in the same hospital for Addy (two weeks shy of three years, to be exact) except we didn’t come home with her. I have a serious love/hate relationship with that hospital. The new hospital policies made it even harder to be there. It was just the two of us. Daddy couldn’t come visit and I had to meet him at the entrance to get things from him. I’m so thankful it was only one night. Being there made me think of Addy’s last days here on earth often and I’m not sure I could have taken it much longer. He wasn’t all better when we left, but he could drink enough fluids and would take some bites of food. It was day 11 that there was a noticeable change. He wanted to play and he was eating more food. He still wanted to be held often and was very weak. Day 12 was a huge improvement and he was pretty much back to himself with eating and playing (still weak and getting his strength back). Salmonella is horrible! Since we don’t know how he got it, we don’t know how to prevent it from happening again. But, I’m upping my cleaning game and heating up all vegetables he eats in case it came from them somehow.

The day after Rett was back to himself we got a text that added to the mayhem. We were asked if we could take two emergency foster placements. A 2 month old boy and 2 yr old girl. They arrived around 11pm that night and our journey as foster parents officially started. Once all the case workers left I wondered what we were doing. Could we do this?? Three kids under 3 yrs?? The first couple days had me continuing to question our own sanity in saying yes. Sleepless nights with a baby up every few hours and a toddler waking up screaming, and Rett deciding to join them in waking up in the middle of the night too. We worked on sticking to a routine immediately to try and help them adjust. Baby is doing well with some moments of inconsolable crying but they are less frequent now. Big girl is sleeping better and not waking up screaming anymore (just once in the past three nights). Rett loves having a friend to play with and is always so excited to go in her room in the morning to get her up. They have their moments of fighting but they play well more than they fight. Routine and consistency has definitely been our lifesaver. And as crazy as it sounds in my head that we said yes to having three kids under the age of three in our house, it doesn’t actually feel so crazy anymore (except when everyone is having a meltdown from hunger or sleepiness haha). Just a few days after first writing this they left as soon as they arrived. They have been moved to another home. I pray they adjust well to their new home. I also pray for my baby’s heart as he misses them and doesn’t understand why they’re gone as quickly as they came.

One week after our foster babies’ arrival marked 3 years since I held my baby girl in my arms. I long for feeling her little arms around my neck again, hearing her laugh, holding her in my arms, and telling her how much I love her. I had more distractions this year leading up to her heaven anniversary, but the ache of missing her is still there. I miss getting her up in the morning, hooking her up to her feeding pump and then getting back in bed with her while we watch tv together. She was the best at relaxing in the morning and letting mommy take her time really waking up. I often imagine what she would be doing if she were still here. She would be starting kindergarten in the fall (or maybe not-with all this COVID craziness), she was on the typical growth charts when she died and I wonder if she would have stayed on it or if her growth would have slowed down some. I’m pretty positive that crazy hair would have just gotten crazier. She had the best hair! I don’t visit her grave very often. I know she’s not really there, but I do go for holidays to change out her flowers. We didn’t make it this year for her heaven anniversary but that doesn’t change how much I’m thinking about her and miss her. Mommy loves you forever Addalyn Grace! You would love all the chaos in our house right now if you were here!

The year 2020 will always be remembered for the mayhem that came in May. I have no idea what the future holds for our family but I do know that God does and He is in control. So we continue to move forward in faith doing the next thing He calls us to.

May is Not My Month

May is the hardest month of the year for me. Other months are hard too, for various reasons, but May is the one I’d prefer to skip over each year. I dread it as it approaches and I am so thankful each year that I survive it.

Mother’s Day and the anniversary of my Addy Grace running ahead to heaven both happen in May. The Sunday before Mother’s Day is Bereaved Mother’s Day too. The month of May just piles on the reminders that my baby girl isn’t here and adds to the heart ache.

Mother’s Day is one of the hardest times of the year since she left. This will be the third without her in my arms. I try not to focus on what I don’t have and be grateful for my son, but there’s no replacing a child. No matter how many children we raise I will always miss my baby girl, the one who first made me a mom. She introduced me to the joy and struggles of being a mom. She taught me the importance of slowing down and appreciating every moment with the ones I love. I don’t know what kind of mom I would be now without her showing me the ropes and throwing lots of curve balls my way.

THE hardest day for me is May 21st. The anniversary of when I rocked my baby to sleep as she awoke in heaven. I try to stay busy doing things in memory of her so that I can keep going. Because all I want to do on that day is curl up in bed and watch her favorite movie (Finding Dory), or her favorite show (Maya the Bee) and pretend she’s still here with me. Instead, I force myself out of bed and keep living. God isn’t finished with me yet and staying in bed all day isn’t going to make me feel any better.

May 21st brings back so many vivid pictures of her last night and morning in the hospital. Doctors and nurses swarming in and pumping her full of fluids, doing CPR to bring her back, falling on the hospital floor crying out for my baby to be saved, then sitting in a small room with my husband and close family as I realized God was healing my baby. It just wasn’t the way I wanted Him to. She had already been put under for intubation when I came back by her bedside to rock her to sleep one last time. I don’t know if she could hear me but all I could tell her was how sorry mommy was that she tried to “fix” her when she was perfect the way God made her. Every surgery was done to help improve her quality of life and give her the best chance at life. But, that didn’t matter anymore in that moment. In that moment I felt as if I failed my baby miserably and made the wrong choice. In that moment I wanted to go back to when we were at home playing and laughing. In that moment I felt as if God left me and no longer cared what happened to me or my baby. In that moment all I felt was pain and loneliness. Looking back now I see it differently than how I did in the moment. Looking back at that moment while I rocked my baby girl for the last time I now see God beside me, weeping with me. In my mind I can see Him holding me close telling me He knows it hurts and always will while I’m here on earth, but not to forget where she is and that when it’s my time to come home I will get to hold her again. He’s reminding me that He is always right beside me to pick me back up when I fall and that even though time won’t heal this pain, I will start to remember the good memories with her more than the painful ones.

While I have lots of good memories with my baby girl that I focus on, I still cry more in the month of May. I cry because it still hurts and I still miss her deeply. I also cry because even though it hurts now I know how this all ends. I will continue to do more of what she taught me, especially in the month of May, and enjoy all the time I can with those I love. Each year since she died I take a break from social media for the month. Partly so I won’t see the memories pop up of my posts leading up to and after her death. But the main reason, this year, is to refocus on what is important and not waste hours a day watching others live. If you’re curious what we’re up to, want to share with me what you’re up to, or want to get together once we’re free from this COVID-19 mess, you can text or message me. I’ll be out there trying to live my life to the fullest in memory of my Addy Grace.

Easter Number 3

Tomorrow is Easter (the third one without Addalyn here) and the reason I don’t grieve for my baby as those who have no hope grieve. Don’t get me wrong, I grieve my baby, I miss her like crazy and think about her every single day, but I know how this all ends. I know she is with Jesus. I know she is free from the pain of this world and is praising our savior. I know I will be reunited with her one day, when my time here is finished. Since she ran ahead to heaven I long for heaven, as I should have been all along. Something about her being there has made it more real to me.

Easter has become a more emotional time of year for me for many reasons. First and foremost it’s because of what Jesus did on that cross and His resurrection that gives me the hope I have and reassures me that I will see my baby girl again. Throughout the year I often think about how Jesus pleaded with God to let this cup pass from him if at all possible. He did not want to suffer and die if there was any other way. But, in the end He willingly accepted the will of God. I know the feeling of crying out to God pleading for the pain to stop. Begging for their to be another way for His plans to be fulfilled. I also understand the acceptance that follows and accompanies the pain. I have accepted His plans for my life and for Addy’s. It doesn’t mean I understand them but I’ve accepted and desire to follow His will. Another aspect I’ve thought on often is how much God loves His son and even though he knew how it all would end I imagine the pain was still great. The most frequent aspect of Easter that I think about is Mary’s perspective. As a mom who has watched her child die I often imagine her pain as she watched Jesus suffer and die. But, the whole point of this holiday and the reason we even call it “Good Friday” is because what follows. Death could not hold Him. My Savior conquered the grave! He is the reason I have hope and the reason I long for heaven.

There are few things I remember during the first few days after Addy died but I do remember knowing exactly what I wanted her to be buried in. She is wearing her Easter dress from her last Easter here on earth. I couldn’t think of anything more fitting than what she wore to celebrate our savior’s resurrection. As we enter into another Easter celebration I consider what Jesus did on the cross and how He defeated death, and I also think of my sweet girl entering heaven and the arms of Jesus. I picture her running to Him and when I arrive I imagine her being there excited to take my hand and lead me to Him. I don’t know what it will really be like but it’s how I like to envision it. And though I often fall short of being the person I try to be for God I hope he welcomes me with a “well done my good and faithful servant.”

Holiday Blues

I don’t know if you could really call it the blues…burying your child hurts so much more than just having the blues. The holidays brings it all up to the surface even more. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t miss my girl but when the holidays approach, it’s all about spending time with family and those you love and I don’t have my daughter, one of my loved ones, here with me. We skipped Christmas the first one without her and last year I decided I needed to drag everything out and decorate, as much as I didn’t want to. We knew we were still going to grow our family and future children deserve to have Christmas so I did it and embraced all holiday things as best I could. Getting the phone call about our son being born right before Christmas definitely made it more merry than it would have been. And I’m so glad I did decorate since it ended up being his first Christmas.

This is our third Christmas without Addalyn and it’s our second with Everett (although last year he was only two weeks old so he doesn’t remember a thing). I actually mustered up some excitement this year about Christmas. When you have a crazy guy running around the house eager to tear everything apart it’s nice to have a day when he’s actually allowed to tear some things. Ive been looking forward to watching him open presents. However, this Christmas is NOT living up to my expectations. I don’t know why I would be surprised or disappointed. So few things in life go as expected. Everett has a fever (again-he was sick over Thanksgiving as well) that won’t go away and is keeping us from spending time with family. He is also super cranky and yell-y about everything. He’s definitely put a damper on my “Christmas spirit.” Doesn’t he know we’re supposed to be JOLLY and not scream at, hit, or push our mom? He’s a mean baby when he’s sick.

This afternoon I actually thought about it…the first Christmas wasn’t what was expected either. Our savior came down to earth and was born in less than ideal circumstances. So, why do I feel so bummed about not getting to see my family (outside of the three of us) when we are at least in a comfortable home? We will have presents for Everett whether he feels like opening them or not, we will eat yummy food (Rett might not-he’s not eating very well), and the three of us will be together. I think the reason comes down to being human and feeling disappointment. It also isn’t really just about him being sick and missing family time but more so about Addy not being here at all. I miss her so desperately it still hurts, and my ideal plans would be her not having run ahead to heaven but rather being with us for Christmas, the four of us together.

I’m trying to move past feeling sorry for myself right now but it’s so hard. I’ve offered encouragement to some who are about to have their first Christmas without their child. I remember the first one and how numb and in agony you feel. Time does not heal this pain but it does eventually allow you to function as you learn how to keep living without your child and figure out what your heart can handle you doing. Eventually you get to a point where you can offer encouragement and advice to those just starting this journey. But when the holidays come around it gets harder again to get past the “unfairness” of it. I do hope everyone has a merry Christmas (to whatever degree you can) and I know I will enjoy time with my guys in the comfort of our home. But for right now the holiday blues have me down, longing for a hug from my baby girl. I can only imagine how amazing a celebration of Christmas must be in heaven. I wouldn’t dream of taking my baby girl back from the splendor and wholeness she is experiencing in heaven. Until I join her I will continue to try and be in good spirits for my family, who is still here. I don’t want Everett to look back on the holidays as he gets older and remember how cranky mommy always was. So, I’m working on being joyful through the disappointments and not making it worse for those who are around me.

Continuing Forward

One year ago today my world was changed once again. This time it was in an amazing way! When Addy ran ahead to heaven I didn’t know if I could ever love another child as much as I love her. After all, she took a piece of my heart with her. I knew we were being called to adopt but I didn’t know how I would feel once a child that didn’t grow in my womb was in my arms. One year ago today I got the answer to that question. As soon as I saw my son I knew he was mine and it didn’t matter that he grew in someone else’s tummy. All the fears of how I would feel raising “someone else’s child” melted away because he is my child.

The past year has been amazing and hard. I love watching my son grow and meet or exceed all milestones, but it also breaks my heart that I didn’t get to watch Addy do all the things he is doing. The holidays are better with him here but they are still so hard without my baby girl. I hate that all holidays will either be holidays we had Addy here or holidays with Rett here. We will never have holiday pictures (or any pictures for that matter) with both of my babies in them. Before this journey of child “loss” I never knew how much it isn’t one emotion over another. It doesn’t have to be grief or happiness, sadness or joy, mourning or rejoicing. They can exist simultaneously and most of the time they do now. Anytime I am excited or happy there’s always a feeling of sadness or grief that goes with it.

I hate how many times I hear people say that it’s nice to see me smiling again. I want to tell them I’m still sad too. I still miss my baby girl while I hold my baby boy. He didn’t take her place but he has kept me busy and helped me keep moving forward. I don’t cry as often because I don’t have time to sit still to cry. The tears flow when I stop moving and have time to think about what Addy would be doing if she were here. They flow when there’s a celebration she should be attending with us. And they flowed when we had to take Rett to the ER at the hospital where she died.

Life is hard and it’s magnified by the holidays. I want to be fully present for Rett to enjoy all the fun but I also want to hide in my closet and cry until it’s over. As thankful as I am for this day one year ago and getting to meet my son for the first time, my heart is still broken (another pair that always go together…thankful and broken). I am moving forward but I will never get over having to burry my baby girl. Addy took a piece of my heart with her and Rett added another piece to it.

Fear is a liar

I often wonder what kind of mom I’d be now if Addalyn was still here. If I had not experienced that horrible night when I held her for the last time on earth, would I have the same worries and fears that I have now? Would I have been the mom who puts a pulse-ox monitor on her healthy baby? Would I lie awake as often as I do just watching him sleep on the video monitor? Would I worry that every sickness will result in a hospital stay? I know every mom worries about her children. You worry about almost every decision you make for your child and wonder if it was the right one. Some may even share my more recent fear-is my son going to live until his first birthday? There’s no rational reason to think he wouldn’t, but after you burry a child, death becomes more of a reality.

I can reference the scripture that talks about not worrying or about having faith, but that doesn’t take all worries away. The Bible isn’t a magic pill that suddenly makes you not think about what could go wrong in life. Obviously, it’s not healthy to dwell on it, but you can’t always stop a thought from popping in your head and the instantaneous stomach ache that ensues.

I’ve learned over the past several years that faith doesn’t make life easy, the Bible doesn’t say struggles will vanish, and God doesn’t expect me to do everything perfectly. My faith helps me realize that no matter how many things go “wrong” in my life (according to me), God can redeem it and bring beauty from ashes. The Bible tells me I’m not alone. Others have gone before me and have suffered in similar and worse ways (need I mention Job?) and are an example of continuing to trust God through the worst parts. God doesn’t expect me to have all the answers and to know exactly how to control every thought that enters my mind. Instead, He’s by my side picking me up off the floor and redirecting me. I do need to recognize what causes me to go there in my mind and make changes to try and stop it, even though I won’t always be successful. For me, keeping it bottled up inside allows fear to have its grip on me. So instead of continuing to walk around with the fear of my son dying, I’m sharing my fear and I’m telling fear he is a liar. And since songs are my love language, I’ll end with part of the lyrics to “Fear is a Liar” by Zach Williams.

Fear, he is a liar
He will take your breath
Stop you in your steps
Fear he is a liar
He will rob your rest
Steal your happiness
Cast your fear in the fire
‘Cause fear he is a liar

If you need me, I’ll be busy on Pinterest planning my 8 month old’s first birthday party…it will be amazing, just like Addy’s parties always were!

Back to school

It’s that time of year again, when all the first day of school pictures start showing up in your news feed. All I think about each time I see them is how I should be getting ready to send Addalyn to her second year of preschool. I should be buying her new school clothes and supplies. I should be counting down the days left of summer with my baby girl until she goes back to school. Instead, we took her some new flowers and a new pin wheel to put on her grave.

This is one of those things in life that doesn’t get easier with time. You never get over outliving your child. I’ve learned to live with the pain and push it aside when I need to get things done, but it’s never gone. Time keeps going and so must I. Fewer days send me to the floor but I also haven’t figured out all the things that will send me there. I recently discovered her favorite show (Maya the Bee) is no longer on Netflix. I wanted that familiar sound and I couldn’t have it. That wasn’t one I was expecting to be so hard, but it was. Sometimes it can be the little things that hurt the most. I am so thankful for our baby boy and all of his noises that fill our house, but I still deeply miss her sounds that once filled it. I even miss the sound of her feeding pump (which if you are familiar with-you’d never think you’d miss that sound).

The day she left us here, our lives were forever changed. All the hopes and dreams we had for her went as quickly as she did. Life is so short and fragile. I pray I always remember how precious the time is that I have with everyone I love and never take it for granted.

This is my story

Music is my love language. The lyrics of certain songs speak to me and when I sing (although not well-in fact worse since one of my vocal cords became paralyzed), I’m not just singing meaningless words. Songs are so much more than just good music to listen to. My Story has become one of my favorites recently. Especially the line “oh to tell you my story is to tell of Him,” not that my story is some amazing story of everything going great or having what I always dreamed of. In fact my story is far from what I would have ever asked for or even wanted. But when I look back over the past several years I can see God’s hand at work even in the times when I couldn’t get up off the floor. This post is going to be a little longer than most, but this is the start of my story and what God has done and continues to do for me.

If I told you my story
You would hear Hope that wouldn’t let go
And if I told you my story
You would hear Love that never gave up
And if I told you my story
You would hear Life, but it wasn’t mine

If I should speak then let it be
Of the grace that is greater than all my sin
Of when justice was served and where mercy wins
Of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in
Oh to tell you my story is to tell of Him” My Story by Big Daddy Weave

On March 10, 2015 I gave birth to the most perfect baby girl, Addalyn Grace, weighing in at 4lbs 5oz and 18 inches long, unfortunately, the doctors didn’t see how perfectly God formed her. They pointed out every “flaw,” but all I saw was my beautiful girl. They sent us home on hospice when she was 3 days old with a diagnosis of Trisomy 18 and a prognosis of a month at the most. Our first night at home was terrifying, to say the least. I didn’t know how it was going to happen; if she would die slowly or if we would wake up to her lifeless body. The nurse that came out our first night helped save our girl. She told us to join Facebook groups and find other families to talk to who had children with Trisomy 18. The way the doctors were talking I didn’t even know there were other people out there with children living. Once I found other families and connected on Facebook I saw how much hope there was. I immediately began my quest to do everything I could to fight watching my baby girl die. I was surprised how many doctors would not even see her or consider surgery for her because they felt it wasn’t worth it since she would die anyway. Once we got an amazing team of doctors together and had her heart repaired at 6 months she began thriving and really growing. We enjoyed 26 months with our sweet girl and during that time I grew so much closer to God than I had ever been and I learned what unconditional love really is. I constantly prayed for my girl and leaned on the truth in scripture that told me God’s plans are not meant to harm me and that He is with me all the time. During her life we spent many nights in the hospital with respiratory illnesses that often landed her in the PICU for several days or longer. She had multiple surgeries, one to repair her heart, one for a g button and a cleft lip repair, another cleft lip repair, her tonsils removed, and the last was to repair her cleft palate. She did so well with all her surgeries, except the last one. Her doctors thought she would rock it as well, just like she always did. The day before her surgery I was praying for her and the upcoming surgery. I prayed “God, I know you love Addy more than I ever could and that you are good. I trust whatever plans you have for her and give her over to you. If for any reason I shouldn’t take her in for her surgery, please make it clear. Please help put my mind at ease and give me the wisdom to know what’s best for her. Amen”

Two days after her cleft palate repair our world started to turn upside down. I watched as the doctors swarmed her PICU room and started doing everything they could for her. I fell to the floor as I watched them do CPR on her and deep inside knew it was the beginning of the end of her time here with us. They asked if we wanted to try and do ECMO (a bypass for her heart and lungs), and of course we said yes, but she required CPR two more times before they could do it and started having internal bleeding. The bypass was no longer going to be able to do enough for her to stay with us, so through lots of tears we said they could stop.

They brought a rocking chair next to her bed side for me to hold her until she was gone from this world. I held her limp body apologizing over and over for trying too hard to “fix” her when she was perfect. I no longer had words for God other than “please,” hoping He would miraculously bring her back and that I would wake up from the nightmare I was living in. It had been three days since she had her surgery. The one she was supposed to rock and come home from. Little did I know her coming home wasn’t to our house. It was to her eternal home in heaven.

I struggled, as anyone does when their child dies. I wanted to be with her and didn’t care if I kept living or not. Anytime I started praying out of habit I would stop myself and tell God I would not pray to him. When I did pray it was angry prayers to start with. I would tell God He owed me and better not let anything bad happen again. I don’t recommend doing that. It’s funny how much anger can change your thinking. I had to go back to the word and remind myself of all the promises of God that I always knew to be true and just tell them to myself over and over. My prayers slowly improved.

A little back story…before Addy died we were planning to foster to adopt. We had done all the trainings and just needed the last step of a home study done. We were supposed to call when we got home from the hospital to set it up. Obviously, that was put on hold. We had a baby room all ready (we were going to take someone younger than Addy when fostering) and it was so hard walking by not only Addy’s empty room but the empty baby room as well. It can time that we needed to talk about what our next step was going to be. We contacted to fostering agency and let them know what happened and that we’d call when we were ready again. But I had a nagging feeling that I still wanted a baby. We decided to try fertility treatments (my husband is a carrier for Trisomy 18 and we didn’t want to risk another heart break of burying a child again), after multiple attempts we discovered it wasn’t going to be possible to conceive. We decided to wait a year and start the process of adoption without fostering. I was terrified at the thought of fostering a child and having to give them back and being left with an empty house again. We had amazing support from friends and family (and some strangers) in raising the funds needed. We did all the trainings and had our home study done. I was already dreading the question that everyone asked “how long will the wait be?” We had no idea how long it would be and I was a little scared we wouldn’t be picked. We made a photo book of our story and I didn’t know if having a child that died would feel like too much for someone dealing with their own issues to pick us.

It was 3 months after our home study was finalized that we received an email that a baby boy had been born and they asked if we wanted our photo book shown. Of course we said yes, but this was the second time we had received an email like this about a baby already born and we had no idea how many people were in front of us on the list to have theirs shown also. Our agency told us up front they always show books of those waiting the longest first. A day had passed since we said yes and I figured she had picked someone else, but the following day we received a call that the birth parents would like to meet us that day (that in itself is a long story too). We packed and got there as quick as we could. It felt like an eternity before we were even able to see him. We visited with the birth parents after they signed their rights away and told them the name we chose for him, which happened to be his birth dad’s dad’s name. I don’t think it was any coincidence, I also don’t think the name was even in our hands. We agreed on a name within a few hours which we couldn’t decide for Addy for a couple months. It was another reminder that God had a hand in it and we were meant to be his parents all along. We asked them what made them choose us and the birth mom said it was because Addy had died. She had seen our photo book and was trying to decide when her nurse told her that she had lost a child and adopted after and adopting helped her move forward in her grief. It was then she knew it had to be us.

After visiting for a couple hours we finally got to go up and meet our son. It was the strangest thing ever. To walk into a hospital not being pregnant and have a child. As soon as I saw him I was in love. It was as if I always knew him and he belonged with us. The love I felt for him as soon as I saw him felt no different than when I saw Addy for the first time. I wasn’t expecting to feel that way immediately. I honestly didn’t know what I expected. We got to bring him home the next day after all test results came back that he was heathy. His birth mom smoke and drank while pregnant but it currently isn’t having any effects on his health. We are prepared to do whatever he needs if anything comes up in the future.

Once we were home and settled in we started thinking through all the things that were more than coincidences and showed how he was meant to be in our family. He was conceived shortly after we were told a pregnancy wasn’t going to happen for us, and also right around what would have been Addalyn’s 3rd birthday. I was dreading another Christmas without Addy but decided I needed to decorate anyway (We skipped Christmas the first one without her) so that when we did have a child it wouldn’t be as hard to do again. He came home 9 days before Christmas and I didn’t have to do last minute decorations for his first Christmas. The name thing is the biggest one that’s hard to get past. It’s not like it’s a common name for us to have picked his birth grandfather’s name for his name. I can’t even count how many times I’ve been told he looks just like me or his dad. It’s funny since he has no genetics in common with us but I think he looks just like his dad too. And he loves to talk just like his daddy does.

We went a year and a half after Addalyn died before our son joined our family and during that time I didn’t think I’d ever feel joy again until heaven. I know our joy shouldn’t come from our circumstances, but it’s so hard not to be effected by what’s going on in your life. I asked God over and over to let me see something good that wouldn’t have happened if Addy was still here. I desperately wanted to see the beauty from the ashes. The song that constantly ran through my head during those days was “there may be pain in the night but joy comes in the morning.” I still won’t say she died for a reason, but I believe God is working on redeeming and bringing glory to His name through her death. I haven’t felt like I’ve done a great job giving God the glory for all he has done for me, but I owe him everything. During the times I was curled up on the floor crying he has been right there with me, when the tears flow and won’t stop he is catching them and records each one, he intercedes for me with groaning too deep for words when I cannot pray. He also has given me a crown of beauty for ashes and has allowed me to see goodness in the land of the living. I praise the Lord for giving me more time than was expected with Addalyn. I praise him for being with me and for his reckless love that never gave up on me. I praise him for my baby boy who has brought joy back into my life. And I praise him for my husband who is always there with me through all the ups and downs of life. God does not change, He is good whether I feel it or not. My story is a story about God’s redeeming love and so much more. I can’t wait to see what else he has in store for us.