Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 recap

This year has gone by so quickly! I just want to take a minute to remember all the good things that happened in 2010:

My cousin, Amy, came to stay with us for 3 short months (Jan - Mar) to help out during the end of my pregnancy and then after Ryan was born

Ryan came screaming into the world on March 8th (and hasn't stopped since)!

My mom was able to be here for Ryan's birth

I turned 34 in March

Brandon's adoption was finalized in April!

We took our first road trip to Kentucky with both boys in May and they got to meet our awesome family at Patrick's family reunion

We celebrated Brandon's first gotcha day on July 10th

We took our first plane trip with both boys at the end of July to see my family in PA

Both boys saw the ocean/spent time on the beach in August in Ocean City, NJ

Brandon turned 2 in August

Patrick turned 32 in October

Brandon took 2nd place in his age division at our town's Halloween costume contest

Patrick flew to Pensacola on Oct 31st and then he and my mother-in-love made the long 2-day drive back here

My MIL moved half-way across the country to be closer to us and her grandsons (ok I know it's mostly the grandson's)!

We had a great Thanksgiving with the Elliott family (and the Elliott family's aunt/sister's family)

We flew back to PA with both boys at the beginning of Dec and the boys and I were able to spend 2 weeks with my family! (unfortunately Patrick had to fly home after only 3 days due to a death in the church).

Had an awesome Christmas with my MIL and the boys

Just had a great dinner and fellowship time with our friends, Val and Jim and my MIL to celebrate the New Year!

Whew, that seems like a lot in one year, but it was great! I cannot wait to see what God has in store for us in 2011, maybe another little blessing...we'll see!


Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

The boys are both sleeping, less than 2 hours until Christmas! It will be Brandon's 2nd Christmas with us and Ryan's 1st! I am excited to see B open all his presents tomorrow! Ryan will probably not get it too much but I'm sure all the paper and excitement will make him happy!

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU ALL!


Saturday, December 04, 2010

Check out my new pictures!

I am doing something for the first time. It's been 4 years since my baby girl died and I have never posted a full facial picture of her on my blog. Why? Well I guess I just wasn't ready to share her. I was also afraid someone would be shocked by her deformities and say something awful. So, please don't. She is my beautiful girl and I just wanted to share her with you.

Love,

Jen

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas

I LOVE Christmas!

I always dreamed of sending Christmas cards with my children's pictures on them. When I was pregnant with Maddie I couldn't wait to send our first photo card. The Christmas after she was born and died I didn't send out any Christmas cards because I was *supposed* to be sending a card with her beautiful picture on it and I couldn't, it just didn't feel *right*. (I actually didn't send any for the next 2 years either)

Last Christmas I finally got my wish and was so excited to send our first family photo Christmas card. I cannot wait to order our cards for this year with pictures of both of our boys!

Needless to say I was so excited when my blog-friend Adrienne posted on her blog that Shutterfly is giving 50 free cards away to bloggers! You can sign up here. They are such awesome cards, so many good ones to pick from, I am having a hard time narrowing it down! Look at all the cute holiday cards here!

I love their Christmas photo cards, they are so unique and different from the ones I was looking at in the stores, check them out here.

I also LOVE their custom wall calendars. Shh...don't tell anyone because they may be on Santa's list for the grandparents.

And, although we aren't having a big Christmas or New Year's Eve party, how cute are these holiday invitations?

There is so much more on their website so check it out!

I can't wait to decide and see the finished product! I'll let you know which ones I pick!

Monday, October 04, 2010

Fun pictures I've edited

I do not claim to be a professional but I have been having fun on picnik.com!

Enjoy my work!

Ryan hanging out at the shore - July 2010

Froggy Ryan (1 month old)

Mommy & Ryan at Women of Faith

Brandon's first glimpse of the ocean

Cowboy Brandon

Brandon's 2nd Birthday party (Elmo theme)

Brandon on his 2nd birthday

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sorry I've been quiet, here are some pictures!

I know I haven't been around much but I've been a little busy with 2 little boys!
Here are some pictures from our recent photo shoot!


















Thursday, August 12, 2010

Madelyn Rose

I just realized that I never told the full story of my first-born baby girl, Madelyn Rose. It all started in December of 2005 when I found out I was pregnant, we were going to be parents! We were beyond excited as were all our family and friends. This baby was going to be the 1st grandchild on both sides of our family and both our mom's were so ready to be grandmoms (well a Nonna and a Mimi but you get the picture).

My pregnancy was uneventful and I enjoyed every minute of it. We had an ultrasound early on to help confirm the due date and then 2 more at 13 and 16 weeks pregnant. Everything looked great so there was no reason to have another ultrasound. On August 8th we had dinner with good friends and I wasn't feeling well. I was so uncomfortable and went home and took a nice warm bath. I went to bed that night and was excited when I slept for 1.5 hours straight (by this point I was getting up every hour). When I stood up to walk to the bathroom my water broke. It was so loud that Patrick heard it! We went to enough of the birthing classes (yes, we dropped out after the first 2) to know that if my water breaks we just head to the hospital. I was only 37 weeks and 1 day along so we weren't really prepared and ran around throwing stuff into a bag! We arrived around 3:00am and immediately went up to L&D and got hooked up to all the monitors. The baby looked good and the contractions were coming along.

They weren't really painful so by 8:00am we started an IV of pitocin which increased my pain so much that by about 11 or so I was ready for the epidural! After that was placed things didn't really progress any quicker and I think I ended up stalling at 7cm dilated. Around 4 or 5 they did an ultrasound to find out why I wasn't progressing and that's when they first told us there was swelling in our baby's head. I started to freak out but my OB said that it could just be because the baby couldn't fit out and had been pressing on the bone for too long. He said we could continue for a while but he was pretty sure I needed a c-section. So, we decided to just go ahead with the surgery and within an hour I was being prepped and taking into the OR.

As soon as I was told I needed a c-section I started to panic a bit. I just wanted everything to be ok with my baby and was starting to worry that something was wrong. The surgery began and it all seemed normal. I have watched enough labor and delivery shows on TV to sort of know what to expect. All of a sudden a haunting silence came over the entire OR and someone said that she was born but nothing else. There was no cry, no words. Patrick stood up to see her and he was pushed back down. I'm not sure exactly what happened after that. I know I was just crying out "she's not crying, why isn't she crying?". Crying out over and over again. Patrick told me that eventually he was brought over to where she was and was told that she was very deformed. He told them he didn't care, she was his daughter and he wanted to see her now.

He left the OR and followed her to the NICU while I was mercifully sedated for the remainder of the surgery. I woke up in recovery with Patrick in front of me, crying and telling me that our daughter was very sick. I asked to see her and they told me I had to wait, that I could see her after I calmed down and my blood pressure was better. Um, no...there would be no waiting for anything so they wheeled me down to the NICU and I was able to see my precious Madelyn Rose. She was on a ventilator and her face was very deformed. Her eyes were protruding out of the sockets, she had swelling in her cheeks and the top of her head was very elongated but she was MINE. My beautiful, first-born, much loved, very desired baby girl. Born Aug 9, 2006 at 6:11pm: 7lbs, 13oz.

I'm not sure the exact order but, at some point they said they wanted to take her for a CAT scan of her brain. Before they took her away Patrick baptized her (he's a pastor) and prayed over her. They took her down for the test and we went to a room to wait. While we waited a few doctors came in including a geneticist to tell us their suspicions about her condition. He was fairly certain that Maddie had a very rare condition called Pfeiffers Syndrome Type II. He said that it happened when she was conceived and it was just a random thing, nothing I did or didn't do caused it. He also said that words that I pray I never have to hear again, her condition was "not compatible with life". Those words are the most haunting words a mother could ever hear about her child's condition.

After she came back from her CAT scan we were told that it showed very little brain tissue and her prognosis was grave. We decided to remove her breathing tube and just enjoy any time we could with her. She actually cried a little when the tube came out and that was the BEST sound I have ever heard. We took her back to our room about 9pm and just took in our baby girl. A photographer from Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep came a little before midnight and gave us the most amazing gift, pictures of our new family of 3.

There were many times during the night that Maddie would quit breathing and I would put my hand on her chest and rub her and call out her name. The nurses kept telling me to get some sleep but I didn't want to miss a minute of time with her still with us.

She survived the night and saw the sun come up on a new day. At some point during the night I actually started to think that maybe she would survive (remember I had been up for over 30 hours by this point so I was a bit delirious) and we would get to take her home. After shift change, my new nurse wanted me to take a sponge bath and had a NICU nurse come in to hold Maddie while I did so. It was during this time that Maddie stopped breathing for the last time. The nurse brought her over and said that she had taken her last breath about 10 seconds earlier and her heart was still beating. I took her and held her tightly. We got Patrick and he and I just held her and each other until she was gone. It was very peaceful.

I have so much guilt that I wasn't holding her when she took her last breath, even now 4 years later. I held her all night long and the 10 minutes I wasn't is when it happened. It still hurts so bad that I wasn't the one holding her at that moment. As I type these words I just can't believe how torn apart I still feel. I really hope that I can eventually move past it and forgive myself.

After that things really get blurry. They took her away to be cleaned up, get foot/hand prints as well as have blood and photos taken to document her condition in case the suspected diagnosis was proven wrong and they would need to figure something else out. After all that was done we were able to see her again.

I was in the hospital for 3 days and came home without my little girl. The funeral director actually came when we were ready to be discharged and he walked out with her one way while we walked out the other. On one hand it made me feel better that we were leaving at the same time but, on the other hand it completely stunk that she wasn't leaving the hospital with us.

The next few days were filled with lots of phone calls and lots of family flying into town, making arrangements for her memorial service and cremation and a lot of tears. The pastor from my home church in PA flew all the way out here for her service and he was a great source of comfort for me. Her memorial service was beautiful but it wasn't what I wanted. I wanted her, here, with me.

I had a lot of anger and was very bitter for a long time, I was supposed to have my baby with me, I was supposed to be a mother, she was supposed to LIVE. I had a perfect pregnancy, we were going to be great parents, what did I do wrong to deserve this? These were all the thoughts that ran through my head on a daily (sometimes hourly) basis. I have reconciled most of them at this point and although I wish she was here and miss her so much, I am in a much better place and finally able to talk about it without completely breaking down.

If you are still with me then thank you for listening to her story. I know I am missing many details but I hope I have remembered the important ones. I know I am not the best writer but I hope that I have honored her memory with my telling of her story.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

4 years

4 years ago today I held my baby girl as she quietly slipped from this world to the next.

I sit here snuggling with Ryan wondering about and missing her so much.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Happy 1st Gottcha Day Brandon!

Today is a BIG day for our family!

One year ago today Brandon was placed in our arms and we became a family of 3! I will never forget that day, it was one of the best days in my life. The anticipation, the joy, the love, the unknown all combined together was the most amazing, exhilarating feeling in the whole world.

It is so hard to believe that a year has gone by so fast! Brandon is doing so well, he loves to give us hugs an kisses. He is a sweet sensitive boy who, although he does naughty things, feels so bad after he does them. He LOVES his little brother and is so helpful with him. In the past few months Brandon has really started talking up a storm and some of the times we can actually understand him! He loves to sing and will find anything to make into a microphone and just sing away into it!

This day also makes me think about the family he left in Korea. His foster family took such great care of him and really prepared him to so readily accept and love us. We will forever be grateful to them and know how hard it was for them to say goodbye. We want to bring Brandon back to Korea to see them again one day. There is so much I want to say but it is late so I will just leave you with some pictures (which is why a lot of you are here anyway)! :)

B on the 4th of July













Singing into the "microphone"










His first pony ride at the zoo













He smiles all the time EXCEPT in pictures. But Aunt Janice was able to capture a smile!






One of little brother - Ryan @ 4 months old!







Monday, April 12, 2010

It's official!

We went to court today to finalize Brandon's adoption, he is LEGALLY ours! AND he is now a US citizen!









Thursday, April 01, 2010

Our family

Here are pictures from our recent photo shoot!