Saturday, March 28, 2015

We Have Our Own Angel Now

My husband and I spent several months praying for a third baby. We have always wanted a big family :) On New Years day 2015 we found out that God had answered our prayer. It was the perfect way to start the new year and we were beyond thrilled to see a little plus sign on the home pregnancy test! My pregnancy with our third little miracle was similar in many ways to my previous pregnancies but, just like the first two, had its own special nuances. My emotional state through the first three months was unpredictable to say the least. I was sad a lot (which I had been through my pregnancy with Violet as well) and I had very vivid nightmares about losing our baby, losing my girls and even losing my husband. I spent quite a bit of time trying to pray away the awful images of my nightmares. Phil and I were so thankful to be able to get pregnant and talked through what our future with three kids would look like. Would we finally get our little boy or would we be blessed with another beautiful little girl? We had our first doctors appointment on January 29th. Phil went with me and we were able to have a sonogram to confirm the pregnancy and see our third little one. There was a strong heartbeat and everything looked perfect. I was 8 weeks pregnant and praising God for this new life. I went back in at 12 weeks for a routine checkup and had all my blood work done. Our baby's heart rate was strong at 146bmp and the waistband of my favorite jeans was getting pretty tight :) All of my blood work came back great and I made the appointment for our 16 week checkup as well as our 18 week sonogram appointment (boy or girl?!). We were planning to announce our pregnancy officially after we found out the gender and I already knew just how we would do it. The anticipation was killing me! I was so looking forward to sharing our news with everyone, especially since my belly was becoming noticeable and I didn't want people thinking I was eating a dozen donuts for breakfast each morning ;) (Mmmm, donuts...). On March 26th, a Thursday morning while the girls where at school, I laid in room #8 of my doctors office while nurse Daphne (a precious woman) ran the Doppler over my baby bump. I waited impatiently for that beautiful "whooshing" sound that is music to a Mommy's ears but that sound never came. Nurse Daphne searched for a good three to four minutes while I made some awkward jokes to lighten the mood, certain that my baby was just being stubborn (as my children have been known to be). She turned off the Doppler and declared that I was going to get a sonogram and wouldn't that be fun! I hadn't planned on seeing our little miracle for another two weeks, at the gender reveal appointment, so I was totally on board with this idea. I tried to swallow down the sick feeling that was working its way up my throat. She wheeled in their portable sonogram machine and went right to it. There it was! My sweet little baby, perfectly formed and looking just like I knew it would. My heart began pounding faster as Nurse Daphne turned the machine away from my view and frowned at the images on the screen. She announced that she didn't like this sonogram machine anyways and informed me that we where going to travel down the hall to use "a better one" that she liked more. Then she said it. "But I don't see a heartbeat." What? No. That can't be right. I believe my exact words to her where "Shut up". I fell back on the table with my hands thrown over my face and there, in exam room #8, my nightmare became reality. I didn't cry, I just clutched my jacket to my chest (it's always cold in the doctors office, you know) and blindly followed nurse Daphne to the end of what seemed like an impossibly long hallway. Pregnant women were being escorted into rooms, other nurses where making eye contact with each other as they scooted around me and nurse Daphne was asking about the availability of another sonogram machine because she didn't know how to work the one that was available. I just stood at the end of the hallway. Scared. Numb. And the melody "even so come, Lord Jesus come" played over and over in my head. Nurse Daphne decided to give the available machine a try so I loosened my grip on my jacket, laid it across a chair and awkwardly climbed up on the exam table. As she dimmed the lights I remember her asking me if I had anyone here with me. No, of course I didn't! This was just supposed to be a boring checkup! I shook my head and nurse Daphne spent the next 10 minutes trying desperately to figure out the sonogram machine. She kept apologizing and I just kept assuring her that it was okay, which it wasn't. Nothing about this was okay. Every second that passed was more terrifying than the last. I started talking to God, asking him to let me keep this baby if it was at all possible. Nurse Daphne left the room. Then she came back in. Then she left again. I just laid there. "Even so come, Lord Jesus come" was on repeat in my brain. Poor nurse Daphne finally got the machine to work and I saw our sweet littlest one appear on the screen in front of me but our little miracle wasn't moving. No heartbeat. Our baby was dead. Another doctor that I didn't know came in to confirm what I already knew and that is when my heart shattered and the tears came. I've never known a hurt like that before. Dr. No Name started talking about how things like this just happen and assured me that it was nothing that I did or didn't do. Then they left me in the room. Just me and my dead baby. I spent the next few minutes on the floor of that room letting all of my hurt and fear spill out. After I was able to pull myself together enough to talk, I called Phil (who was in a meeting half an hour away) and told him that there was no heartbeat and that he needed to come to the hospital. Once Phil arrived at the hospital we made a plan to come back and meet with my normal OBGYN to discuss what comes next. I was told that based on how far along I was in my pregnancy that I would likely be put into labor and would deliver our baby. We went home and the first thing I did was take down my pregnancy calendar. I showered and we went to pick the girls up at school. The first thing Lilah (our precious four year old) asked me when I got to her classroom was "how's our baby?" since she knew I was having a checkup that morning. I started crying and took her into the hallway where I told her that our baby went to heaven. I held her while we both cried. On our way down the stairs we talked about how our baby was with her sweet cousin Rhett now and she told me that it was nice that they had each other to play with. We met my father-in-law at the hospital where he took the girls and Phil and I headed back in to meet with my doctor. They did another sonogram (this time nurse Daphne got to use the machine she liked) so Phil could see our perfectly formed, perfectly still baby. After discussing all of our options (there weren't many) we decided that I would have a D&E (dilation and evacuation) since it looked like our little angel stopped growing at about 14 or 15 weeks. I was thankful for this option, even if it made me want to throw up, because it meant that I wouldn't have to labor overnight. I was admitted into the hospital around 3:30pm and they started the IVs and blood work. They put me under general anesthesia at 6:45, the procedure was done and I was wheeled back into recovery at 8:15. Phil and I where able to go home that night. We requested that our tiny angel baby be set apart from the medical waste (since that is typically what they do after a procedure like that) so that we could have it cremated. Phil and I will be picking our baby up from the funeral home on Monday morning. At this time two days ago my world crashed around me and since then God has been piecing it back together. I am thankful for the time that I got to carry our baby and I treasure the fact that I will hold him or her one day. My heart is broken and I spend a lot of time with tears in my eyes but God is good. He was good on Thursday, He is good today, and He will be good tomorrow. Thank you for taking the time to read our story. I know that I am not alone in this and that many of you reading this have suffered the loss of a child. I love each of you and I pray that your heart is filled with the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:18 says "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us" and all I can say is AMEN!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

THIS SEASON {is sending me to my knees}

Scripture says "For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under Heaven...a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing;" (Ecclesiastes 3:1 & 5). I am waist deep in (what feels like) quick sand and the harder I try the deeper I sink. This post is about my season of mothering my three year old daughter. It is about trying so desperately to keep my body, my mind and ,most importantly my heart, calm so that I can attempt to change/mold the heart of my daughter. To embrace or not to embrace- this has been my question recently. You see, my Lilah has the vocabulary of 5-7 year old and the attitude of a preteen. She is witty and sarcastic. She is kind and thoughtful. She is up one second and (deep) down the next. I know that it is likely that every 3 year old (girl especially) has been the epitome of bipolar and that none of what I am saying comes as any surprise. But here is my dilemma- When do I snuggle her to calm her nervous breakdowns and when do I send her to her room to calm herself down? When do I pick her up (after "Mommy, pick me up. Put sister down" has been repeated 36 times in a row without a single breath) and when do I tell her to use the two good legs that God gave her? When do I play along with the dramatic falling on the ground and "hurting" herself and when do I tell her that I am sorry she fell and she needs to get up and shake it off? I don't believe there are answers to these questions, if I am being honest, because every day with her is different and every day she is pushing new boundaries. I have never spent more time in prayer (even when we were afraid we were going to lose our tiny Lilah early in my pregnancy) than I do these days. I am thankful that this season is sending me plummeting into scripture and prayer. I know that there is (going to be) a light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. I know all of these things because I have complete faith that God is going to pull us all through and that as long as I am sprinting towards Christ I will not ruin my child and send her into a life of despair and longing. {she might get some of her drama from her mama...} So, to you parents of toddlers and those that don't have children, pray with me that the Collins family can make it to Lilah's 4th birthday in some semblance of a whole. I love you all. Thank you for loving us through this season, it may be my only sanity on any given day.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

363 Days Remain

We have already hopped into day two of 2014 and I can tell it is going to race by even more quickly than 2013. I don't have much that I wanted to share today, I simply wanted to write. So many people like to look back on their year and reminisce about the happenings, some joyful, some sad, some terrifying and others just "happened". I am no different :) In 2013 we welcomed our second daughter, Violet Joy, into the world. She is just plain fantastic! We also celebrated my Nana's 70th birthday and watched, waited and prayed as she battled through radiation treatment for cancer. I am so beyond thankful to start this new year with her by our side! Phil made some big strides in his career this past year and I am so proud of how hard he works, how seriously he takes his job and how much he enjoys it. Not many people find the kind of fulfillment in their job that he has found. I am grateful that the Lord has also blessed me with a job that I love. Teaching is not something I would have ever ventured after as a younger person but it is exactly where I am meant to be. I have enjoyed growing my vocal studio and watching my "kids" development into beautiful singers and people. Lilah Ann turned three this year and did some serious growing up in the last few months of 2013. It is amazing to watch her learn, grow (physically and emotionally) and contribute to our family dynamic. She is a firecracker and leaves me exhausted at the end of most days. She has such a pretty heart. She is learning to love our Savior, to make choices according to His teaching (through Phil and me), to love without conditions and to give/share (which can be super hard at 3 years old!). I am such a proud Mom, of both of my girls. We are looking very forward to 2014 and where God's path for us is going to lead. I admit that I am trying to prepare my mind for grief, for heartbreak, for awful things that may or may not happen (I often fall into this trap and let my mind get carried away with things that I cannot change) BUT I am making a conscious decision to let God prepare my HEART to override my foolish mind. Happy New Year, friends. We love you, thank you for loving us!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Slow down already!

First, a potty training update: Boom, Done! Lilah has been using the big girl potty for quite a while now and very rarely does she have an accident (like in the middle of the chick-fil-a play place *face palm*). Second, we are officially a family of 4 and I cannot believe how insanely blessed we are to have Violet Joy! It feels like she has always been here and yet time seems to have flown by. She is 2 and a half months old and is a sheer delight. Lilah is completely in love with her. It makes me tear up when I hear Lilah talking to her little sister with such sweet words and such genuine adoration. I know that they will bicker and fight one day but my mommy heart is full to bursting when I watch them together :) Violet is a great little eater and is pushing 12 pounds. She is super strong and we are constantly shaking our heads at how fast she is growing. When she smiles her entire face lights up and her eyes are something else! I LOVE her eyes. Phil is, rightfully so, smitten and enjoying his girls. Lilah adores her daddy and thinks that he hung the moon and stars :) I love sitting back and watching my family, so full of energy and love. I go to bed every night thanking the Lord for each of them and praying that He gives me one more day to love them. I can't fathom why He has given me such abundant grace but I will spend my days trying my best to show Him to my daughters. Well, that's all the update I have for now. All is good at the Collins' home!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Potty Training {so far}

Lilah Ann has understood the concept of using the "big girl potty" for a while now but I have been scared to take the plunge. I have NO IDEA what I am doing. I read a few articles, looked over some online tips, & stopped by half priced books in search of the perfect 'How-To' guide. I have since come to realize that I know my kid the best and we are just going to have to figure this thing out together! Our potty training journey actually began about 6 months ago when Lilah was 18 months old. I had a long weekend off of teaching and thought that we could just knock it out and get it over with. As a few of my Facebook status readers may recall it was a complete disaster. Lilah would joyfully sit on the potty and then get right up, take a few steps, and make a mess of my carpet... tile... nearby blankets... you get the point. We called it quits after two days. Lilah was frustrated and so was I, it just wasn't going to happen and there was no use trying to fight it. I realized at that point that she would be the one to decide when she was ready, not Mommy. So, this past Friday (the Friday after Christmas) I asked her if she wanted to use the big girl potty and she told me she did! I was terrified. We took the plunge together and it was a GREAT day! She loves her Dora panties and I was very cooperative when I asked her to take a break from playing to spend a couple of minutes on the potty. She only had one accident all day and lucky for me it was an easy clean up. *Side note- the best part of it for me was spending the entire day giving her my undivided attention and also, when she had her accident she let me know by saying "Ewwww! Gross Mommy, Gross!"* The most difficult part has been the inconsistency due to our foster children. Lilah does best when I let her run around with no bottoms on at all (just a long shirt or nightgown) and I am very uncomfortable doing that with a little boy in the house. Since "Doug" and "Kate" have been home a lot during the holidays we have had to take long breaks but she is still showing an interest and talks about it all the time. Any time she asks, we take a trip to the potty and whether she goes or not we let her know how proud we are that she used her words to tell us. I would love to have her exclusively using the potty by the time Violet Joy is born (due date March 18th) and I feel like that it totally doable if we continue on the path we are currently on. Any other mommas have a skiddish toddler when it came to going "poo-poo" in the potty?? It seems to terrify her so we aren't pushing it. I am so very proud of my big girl! She's just growing up too fast :)

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Two months have passed...

Part of me can't believe that we have been raising three children for over two months and then the other part of me completely believes it and feels like it's been two years! "Kate" & "Doug" came to our home on October 14th, it was an early and adrenaline filled Sunday morning at the Collins home. We had no idea what was in store for us as parents... or as people. Both children, who are now 19 and 7 months old, have been a challenge at times but "Doug" wins by a landslide in the difficult child category. Phil and I spent a good majority of the first month tag teaming him because he would push one of us too far and the other would need to step in. After the first month Phil really took over with "Doug" and I became "Kate"'s primary caregiver. I had (and have had) a much easier time with "Kate". Both kids have some delays because of the atmosphere that they came to us from. "Doug" is right on track with his motor skills and plays like little boys do but is about a year behind in his cognitive development. "Kate" has made the biggest improvements since coming to us and is hardly behind at all anymore, both with her motor skills and her cognitive skills. Our hearts hurt for both children because we know that none of this is their fault. Phil and I have come to learn a lot more about ourselves, about our marriage, our relationships with the Lord (both as individuals and as a couple) since becoming foster parents to these two babies. We have been pushed to our limits, grown together into an unbreakable team, sought out the Lord and fallen on our faces before Him begging for mercy and grace, and our perspective on life has radically changed. I am so thankful that after days of questioning God and asking Him to reveal Himself to us through this journey, He has. His plan was perfect from the beginning. There are still plenty of tag team moments and night where we just look at each other with defeat in our eyes but the Lords grace is new EVERY morning and we are more aware of that now than we ever could have been before. I am so grateful for my own daughter and her sweet little sister on the way. I would not have been capable of this kind of gratefulness had we not been through this process. God is good all the time and all the time God is so good.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Answered Prayer!

To those who read this... thank you in advance for your willingness to open your hearts to what we are going through and thank you also for your understanding and shared joy! To begin, we found out that we were pregnant with our second little miracle in early July. At that time we were still in the stages of completing our foster parent training. We let Buckner know that we were pregnant during our home study interviews and that the baby was due to arrive around the beginning of March. They were very supportive just as they had been when we told them in our initial interviews that we planned on continuing to grow our family as well as foster. They assured us that we could say "no" at any time and that we could also give a 30 day notice (which is typical of 99% of foster care agencies) if the placement was needing a change. When Phil and I said "yes" to two foster babies, a month ago yesterday, we were under the impression that the same assurance we were given initially was going to hold strong and that we would have the freedom and understanding to take whatever steps necessary for our family in regards to the foster children. We had no preconceived ideas about how long we would have the kids and at the time we knew that there was a good chance that the kids would be reunited with their mother before our Violet was due. That does not look to be the case anymore and although they have family in the area that they are from, those family members are not fit to care for the children based on state standards. After a not so successful case study in our home this past Friday (thats a whole other story...) I was extremely disheartened to tell Phil that it was looking like we would not be able to enjoy being just a family of 4 for a while and that we were not going to be granted our request for displacement by late February (just before Violet is due to arrive). We spent a very long 5 days praying harder than we ever have, and asking our close friends and family to be praying with us, that these two babies be placed with a family (if not their own) that would love them and have the time to devote to them once our second little girl gets here. **The thought of having a 2 year old, a 22 month old, a 10 month old and a newborn is more than this momma can handle. I never pretended to be superwoman/supermom** ON WEDNESDAY WE GOT AN INCREDIBLE PHONE CALL from our Buckner case worker assuring us that the situation had been discussed and that the supervisor agreed that the children should be displaced before our daughter is born!!!! I was sitting in the middle of an Early Childhood Intervention assessment with "Doug & Kate" when I listened to the voicemail and I had no shame when I started to cry. Phil and I have gone through some severe guilt in deciding that this is what is best for our family but at the end of the day it truly IS what is best for our family. We want to enjoy our sweet second baby and we want Lilah to enjoy her new baby sister. Violet will only be tiny for such a very short time, as we well know, and we don't feel that "Doug & Kate" would benefit from being a part of our family during that time. Our attention is going to be focused on our girls, as it should be. We are so thankful for Gods perfect plan and we are also thankful to see a light at the end of the tunnel. This has been the most difficult thing that we have ever done in our lives and we are grateful for all we have learned. Again, thank you for your open heart when you read this and thank you for supporting our family :)