Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Our road to a full quiver

It's been almost 8 months since our little boy passed away. As a mommy, there is a part of my heart that wants to crawl in bed and dwell in those precious 56 DAYS that we shared and yet I know I can't do that. I am wife to Trayc, a mom to Tanner and Tayden, a daughter, a granddaughter, a sister, a Aunt, a friend, a 6th grade girls' Sunday School Outreach leader, a Middle School church choir helper and a mentor to a precious 6th grade girl that came into my life a year ago.

As a family we have slowly made our way through this grieving process. Never rushing, never expecting too much from each other, never doing more than we thought we could emotionally handle and basically taking it one day at a time. Don't get me wrong, we are still grieving but in such a different way. We miss our little boy so much, his presence in our home is felt every day but the pain is not what it was 8 months ago. We have had to consciously make a decision, every day, that although we miss our little boy, we have to move forward and that is exactly what we have attempted to do the past few months.

I would like to share with you, where we have been and then share the exciting news of where we are:

Trayc and I grew up together at church. We attend a large church and there were over 300 in our youth group, we knew of each other but didn't hang around together. It wasn't until we had both graduated from high school and attended Middle School camp as counselors in August 1987 that we actually met. It was love at first sight for both of us. I was taken by his sweet charm and personality but mostly by his love for the Lord as it was so obvious. We hung around together, in a group of friends, at church until our first date on October 19, 1987. We dated for 3 years and 1 week. During those years of dating we both lived at home. On the weekends we would stay on the phone for hours (like 4, 5 and 6 hrs!) talking about being married, having our own home and having a big family. Trayc wanted 4 kids, I wanted 6 kids - 3 boys, 3 girls (can you guess what my favorite TV show was? Yes, the Brady Bunch).

I had some female problems in my early 20's. I went to the doctor and ended up having numerous tests which then required a few surgeries. The doctor revealed the results of the surgeries and then said "Unfortunately, you will never be able to have children". I will never forget that day! I left devastated. I was so upset, not only by the results but with the doctor's attitude, he was very matter of fact and gave me no kind of hope. I decided to change doctors hoping for a better response. I knew the results wouldn't change but I was just looking for some kind of direction, some kind of hope, just anything that could possibly allow me to get pregnant and be a mommy.

Trayc and I were looking at rings and talking about getting married so I had to be honest with him, I had to tell him that we would never be able to have children, our own flesh and blood. Being the wonderful guy he was, he calmly and confidently said, "Honey, it's okay we'll just adopt". He was so sweet. I appreciated his attitude, he loved me for me not the children I could or could not give him. Inside though, my heart was broken. Every hope, every dream of having a family of our own and being a mommy was gone, gone before I even said "I do".

Trayc and I were married on October 26, 1990. We knew the chances were highly unlikely that we'd get pregnant but we still tried month after month, year after year for 4 long years. I changed doctors 8 times. A friend suggested that I go to her doctor because he was a sweet Christian man. I scheduled the appt. but honestly went with no expectations. What a difference that appt. made. The doctor said there was hope as there were several kinds of infertility medications available - none of which were ever offered by the other 8 doctors. I began taking fertility medications immediately. The doctor tried every kind and with every combination possible for 6 months but I still wasn't pregnant. The doctor did not want to waste any more time on medications so he referred us to an infertility specialist.

We were excited about an appointment with the top infertility specialist in town. Again Trayc and I went to that appt. with no expectations! We sat there stunned as the doctor began telling us successful stories(most of which were multiple births) and he read statistics with the majority of women getting pregnant within 2-3 months through invitro. For the first time ever, we had a doctor say "Your case is very common, you shouldn't have any problem getting pregnant with invitro." WOW!!!!! Finally we had hope. We heard that there was a chance we could get pregnant, we could actually have a baby and hold our own flesh and blood. After 4 years of trying, 9 doctors, 1 infertility specialist, $25,000 (thanks to Trayc's mom and grandma), 2 invitro procedures, many tears and lots of prayers - we were pregnant. Tanner Alexander was born July 19, 1996. Our first miracle baby!

We attempted 9 more years to get pregnant on our own without any success. Trayc and I decided to make an appt. with the same infertility specialist again. We didn't have any more money but we knew the invitro procedure worked for Tanner and we were really hoping it would not cost as much if we went straight to the same process. That would have been great, however, we were now 9 years older (37) and our bodies had changed. They could do the same process but there would be a few more processes, which meant more money! We left the doctor's office that day resolving in our own minds that we were so thankful for the life of our son, Tanner, and we would pursue adoption down the road. Every day Tanner would ask why we didn't have a house full of kids, that he didn't want to be an only child and that he wanted lots of brothers and sisters. A few days later, Trayc woke up in the middle of the night and said, "I just thought of a way we could get the money, we could see how much equity we have in our home". The next day he rushed to the bank and we had enough. We refinanced, we got the money, went to the doctor with a check in hand and began the blood work and paperwork. On July 28th, 4 days before we were supposed to begin invitro process our doctor said that I needed to take a pregnancy test just to make sure we were not pregnant. I laughed and said, "Seriously, I really don't need to take one, I've never been pregnant on my own in 15 years. " Guess what? I was pregnant. Tayden Abbott was born March 27, 2006. Our second miracle baby!

Trayc and I decided that since we got pregnant with Tayden on our own, no medication, no invitro procedures and we were 40, we'd try again because we really wanted Tayden to have a brother/sister close in age. So we tried, 1 time on Tayden's 1st birthday and guess what? Again, we were pregnant. Tristan Asher was born December 3, 2007. Our third miracle baby!

The Lord has blessed Trayc and I with the greatest desires of our hearts, our own flesh and blood. But, as you know the hopes and dreams for our third 3rd miracle baby were not all we had hoped they would be. Our lives were shattered on August 15th as we sat in the high-risk doctor's office and heard the news that our precious little boy would be born with a very rare (1:6000) genetic disorder called Trisomy 18 which is considered "incompatible with life".

After the shock and devastation of the news wore off, Trayc and I started talking about our future, not just with Tristan, but about our desire for more children. Here we were, married for 18 years, both 40 years old, 2 boys which are 10 years apart and a baby that, barred a miracle, would not be with us very long. In September 2007 we began talking about adoption again, just as we had back when we were dating and over the course of our 18 yrs of marriage. Trayc and I talked about adoption quite often until Tristan was born on December 3, 2007. We stopped talking about it because we were still hoping and praying for a miracle. The Lord was still able to place His hand on our little boy and remove this disorder if He chose to. We also did not want to give up the hope that if our little boy was born with Trisomy 18 that he could be the long-time survivor, after all there are still miracle babies out there living with full Trisomy 18. I so desired to spend the rest of my life, 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week taking care of my little boy and would have done it, if given the chance! We now know the Lord's plan was for Tristan to live for 56 DAYS and I have to trust that He knows better than me. Was Tristan still our third miracle baby? Absolutely and in so many ways. He was conceived without medication, we only tried once, he made it to full-term, he was born alive, he made it to our home, we shared Tristan's 1st Christmas and best of all --- we prayed for 1 day and the Lord blessed us with 56 DAYS.

Our desire for more children is greater than it's ever been. Our minds are open, our hearts and open and our home is open. We believe the Lord has brought adoption back to both of our hearts. In March, I mentioned to Trayc that I would like to start considering adoption again but that I didn't want to say anything to anyone or make a decision either way until we both felt like the Lord was clearly leading us in that direction and not that we were just trying to fill the void we were feeling from Tristan's loss. So, I made my very first call to a friend in our church that had just adopted 2 little girls, sisters. My friend was so sweet. We talked for 2 hours, she explained their process, how precious their girls were, how they had adjusted, that they were a perfect fit in their family and that their other 3 girls instantly accepted them. It was so good for me to talk to her because honestly, I did not know anyone that has ever been adopted or adopted a baby/child. This was as new to me as Tristan's T-18 diagnosis and again I found myself researching the Internet for answers. However, it was wonderful to actually know someone who had just been through this process. My sweet friend gave me the names/numbers of people within the foster care system that helped them through the process so after we hung up I began making numerous phone calls. We were told it could take 6-9 months to get through the process. We began the process on April 9th, received our Adoption license on June 26th and our Foster-to-Adopt license on July 9th - both processes completed in 3 months.

We would like to adopt 2 sisters (between the ages of 3-8 yrs old). As everyone knows, I want little girls soooo bad. I long to go to ballet lessons, have pretend tea parties, play with Barbies, play dress up, have Disney princess' stuff everywhere, buy fancy dresses for church, brush long hair and learn how to put in hair bows. Just typing these words literally brings tears of excitement rolling down my face.

Our family is filled with excitement and anticipation as we wait for our little girls! And Tanner, well let's just say that he is ecstatic!!!! Oh how this brings joy to our hearts. The moment Tristan passed away he was crying so hard and begging "Mommy, please please have another baby or let's adopt please! I want a whole house full of brothers and sisters!" As I held Tristan in one arm, I held Tanner's face in the other and said, "Look at me Tanner, mommy promises we will not end on Tristan okay? We will have more children." My heart was not only breaking for the loss of Tristan but for Tanner. Tanner's little heart went through so much this past year and he was in, by far, the most difficult moment he will probably ever face in his life - his baby brother had just taken his last breath. Trayc and I have made him a huge part of this process. It has been sweet hearing him pray every day for our girls and ask every time the phone rings "Mommy, was that a call about some girls?".

Would you please join us today in praying for our future children, the ones the Lord will bring home to us? We do not know who they are or when they will come but He does and His timing is always perfect. We are specifically praying that the Lord would protect them, guard their little minds and hearts until they walk through the door of our home. We are praying for them daily just as we did for all 3 of our boys.

A very special THANK YOU to the following people that helped us through this process: Tamara B., Sandra S., Linda A., Eileen C., Dennis M., FSS employees, JG, Melissa B., Gidgett G., Michelle Mc., the 10 couples we met at CFC, Jami T., my and Trayc's family members' that have prayed/supported/encouraged us, and my sweet Internet friends that walked the Trisomy 18 road with me and are now walking this road with me.

Psalm 127:3-5

3 Behold, children are a
heritage from the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is
His reward.

4 Like arrows in the hand of
a warrior,
So are the children of one's

5 Happy is the man who has
his quiver full of them;
They shall not be ashamed,
But shall speak with their
enemies in the gate.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

9 months ago.....

9 months ago today my sweet little boy was born. Knowing all of the "statistics" for Trisomy 18 babies, we assumed we would only have a few minutes or a few hours. We had already begged the doctors to get me from the operating room to my regular room as quick as possible. When we entered the room it was filled with 25 family members, photographer and her assistant from the Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep organization, ready to take pictures, and one of our pastors was there ready to perform the baby dedication service. This service was very important to us because we had dedicated Tanner and Tayden at birth AND because Tristan truly was our miracle gift from the Lord, we felt it appropriate that we dedicate his life to the One who created him.

I have been so blessed to have such a sweet and very thoughtful step-mom, she thinks of those little things that mean so much. She surprised us with buying Tristan a beautiful, hand sewn, dedication outfit from a little quaint baby store in Nashville, TN. It was absolutely beautiful! We were going to dress Tristan in it, however because he had to be resuscitated 4 times in the delivery room we thought it would be best to let him save his energy and rest so we laid the outfit over him. Doesn't my little boy look precious here?

This picture has become very special to me because every morning when I turn on the computer Tayden climbs up in the chair, leans over the desktop, points to THIS picture (which is part of a collage of Tristan's pictures on our screen saver) and says "Baby" and "Baby hat". He smiles, laughs, climbs down and runs down the stairs to go eat breakfast.

It is so sweet to watch him do this and yet it brings bittersweet tears EVERY morning. I have seen Tayden grow up so much in the last 9 months. He is communicating and talking more and seems to be identifying with who Tristan is, alot more than when he was here in December and January. Oh how I wish Tayden was able to have his little brother here to love him, kiss him, talk to him and eventually play. Whenever I look in Tayden's room and see him sitting in the floor playing with Tanner, my mind envisions what it would have been like having all 3 of them playing. Although I will forever miss having my 3 boys grow-up together, I did have 56 DAYS with all 3 of my boys together. We were able to make so many memories during that time. One of my favorite pictures of my 3 boys together is this one from Christmas morning, our 1st Christmas with Tristan.

Days like today are hard. I have come to realize that there will always be days like the 3rd (the day he was born) and the 27th (the day that he passed away) that will forever be etched in my mind. I'm really missing my little boy today!!!!

Special prayer request: Kenzie & baby Faith

On the way home from church tonight I received a text from Kenzie. After a doctor's appt. today, she was admitted into the hospital because she was dilated and in preterm labor at 26 weeks. Kenzie and Dusty are expecting their precious little girl, Faith Clare Stanfield, in December. Right now they are attempting to stop the contractions with magnesium sulfate for at least the next 48 hours and then Kenzie will be on bedrest.

I am sure Kenzie is scared, as any mother would be, and yet I also know that Kenzie's faith and trust in our Lord has never wavered. What a testimony she has been through Maddox's sweet life and through this pregnancy with Faith Clare. Kenzie has become one of my dearest friends this past year. We've laughed together, cried together and prayed together while on this Trisomy 18 journey so it's really hard to be here in Florida when I want to be there in Texas beside her, holding her hand and praying with her. But what I can do is pray for her from a distance. I come here tonight with a heavy heart for my precious friend.

Please pray for Kenzie, baby Faith, her husband Dusty and their son Deacon tonight and in the days ahead. Kenzie's blog is located on the side of my lists under Trisomy 18 journeys, Maddox Donald Stanfield. Please visit their blog and let them know you are praying for them.

Kenzie used this verse for Faith Clare on June 7th: "I have prayed for this child and the Lord has granted me what I asked of Him." 1 Samuel 1:27