Sunday, September 11, 2011

My life is forever changed...

Calling this a life changing event would be an understatement. Life is full of disappointment but in most instances you have choices. Before Gabby, I've had things in my life, like everyone, that broke my heart. But in the end, everything worked out. And often times worked out for the better. I've been blessed by heartbreak many, many times.

I will never understand loosing Gabby. The pain I feel will never go away. And I don't want the pain to go away. If the pain went away, that could only mean that I was forgetting. And I will never forget my daughter. My love for her will grow even stronger. Material things here on earth will never seem very important. There are two things that are truly important. People and God. Are there things I want in life for the three of us?...Yes. Is it the most important thing to focus on?...No.

While good things will come from our tragedy, it doesn't help my heart. I just want her back period. All the good things that will come from this could have come without loosing Gabby. It is so frustrating because we have no choices. We can't go get her back. We didn't do anything that caused this. There is nothing we can do to change this.

I miss her so much....

  • I miss her unlimited hugs and kiss days

  • I miss her asking you to sit beside her cause she didn't like being alone

  • I miss her smile that lit up a room

  • I miss her laugh

  • I miss her voice including her whines

  • I miss her playing and fighting with Tucker

  • I miss her playing "rag doll" after bath time

  • I miss her saying "Pretend that..."

  • I miss her saying "ticket please" to enter the playroom

  • I miss her hiding the remote under the pillow

  • I miss her throwing her arms up and saying "Huggy"

  • I miss her art lessons...I will never improve my skills now!

  • I miss the gifts she made for us

  • I miss piggy back rides

  • I miss carrying her around even if my back hurt

  • I miss her sitting on my lap

  • I miss tea parties, working puzzles, playing with dolls/littlest pets, reading with her

  • I miss cooking with her

  • I miss taking her to Church, reading the Bible with her, and night time prayers

  • I miss taking her to tumbling, ballgames, school events

  • I miss seeing her play with her friends...she was loved by so many little girls

  • I miss her telling me "I will love you forever and ever Mommy"

I just miss her

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Gabby at Age Zero

Christmas in February

Mother's Day 2004

First Family Vacation Myrtle Beach

See her cute little fangs!

Gabby at Age Zero!

I find myself having a hard time remembering every detail about our sweet angel Gabby. Shane says it because I am trying to remember every detail all at once. It is almost like I am seeing her as multiple people at different ages. So I thought I would try to jot down memories of Gabby at each age. According to Gabby, if you hadn't turned one yet, you were zero. She would often say "when I was zero...." which I thought was so cute. Tucker does it now also. I was so blessed by the past 8 years. I hope those 8 years can last me the rest of my life. I do believe she really was an angel from the start.

Here are some of the many memories and highlights of Gabby's life at age Zero!

During the first 8 months of Gabby's life, she lived in Guatemala with her foster family. Gabby was born June 4, 2003. We received the phone call from our agency on June 6th at 6:07pm. For the first 4.5 months, we received pictures, videos, sent care packages, shopped, met other adoptive parents online through our agency's message boards. It was an exciting time but also a scary time. Adoptions from Guatemala had been halted since before Gabby was born. Court battles were going on to determine whether PGN (like the Attorney General in Guatemala that approves all adoptions) could halt and even disallow adoptions or not. When we got the call the Gabby was born, we jumped in and immediately accepted our referral of our beautiful daughter knowing she may never come home. Then September 2003, the courts ruled....what the PGN was doing was unconstitutional....and babies started coming Home! At that point, we decided...we must go visit Gabby.

So on October 23, 2003, we boarded the plane for Guatemala. I remember praying...if the plane must crash, please don't crash on the flight to Guatemala but on the flight back home. If I can just see my baby girl I will be the happiest person in the world. Thankfully we arrived in Guatemala safely. In the photo album I made for her, here is what I said..."I can not put into words our feeings that day. You were absolutely perfect! So sweet, so happy. All our dreams were finally coming true. You are the most beautiful baby we have ever seen. We were worried you would be scared since you had never seen us before and we spoke English with a southern accent that even those who speak English can't understand. But you weren't scared at all. You showed no signs of nervousness. In fact, about two minutes after our foster mom left you with us, you were fast asleep in Daddy's arms....I will never forget my first bottle as a mommy. You loved your formula and liked it warm. After the bottle, you fell asleep on me. I didn't want this moment to end." It was a wonderful trip. We were able to visit Gabby for 3 full days. Leaving her was one of the hardest things ever I had ever least that is what I thought then. Now I know life does get so much harder.

After returning home, we focused on getting ready for Gabby's homecoming. And in January 2004, we received word that Gabby was coming home. We again boarded the plane on January 31st. Again...Gabby was perfect in every way. She was so happy and we loved her more than life itself. She had grown so much in 3 months. Things I remember most was that she loved to be held, loved to smile, liked blowing rasberries, loved to chatter, liked to swing through the air and absolutely loved to hold onto your finger and rock back and forth. And her favorite show was Spanish.

On February 6, 2004, we arrive home at Tri-Cities Airport. We had so many friends there to greet us. It had to be the happiest day of my life. It was no long me and Shane but we finally had a family. And Gabby wasn't just part of our family...she was our family. She ruled the house. One thing our social worker worried with adoptive families is that they spoil their kids too much and we were no exception. What Gabby wanted...Gabby got.

In Guatemala, babies are normally bundled in multiple layers of clothing. And the lowest it ever gets is "all the way down to 50 degrees" according to our Guatemalan tour guide. So it was a shock to her system to see snowed very soon after we got home. We kept our live Christmas tree up until she got home. It actually moved from room to room as we were building on a play room and putting down hard wood floors. But by the time she was home, the room was done and the not so fresh Christmas tree was in place and ready to us to take pictures...we didn't turn on the light though in fear we would have to call the fire department.

Things that I remember most about Gabby at Age Zero:

  • She liked to love on people

  • She learned how to do the cutest piggy noise which Daddy was never able to do himself

  • She didn't crawl the normal way...she did a "crabby crawl". She would sit and use her hands to pull herself forward and around the room.

  • She love the Jumperoo and would jump until she was sweating

  • She loved being held

  • Her name actually fit her at this age...she loved to jabber, blow kisses, blow rasberries

  • If you said "lay your little head down" Gabby would would lay on the floor with her bottom in the air and her face on the floor

  • If we said "no" to Gabby, it would hurt her feeling so bad. She would start bawling

  • Your first trip was to Myrtle Beach just before you turned one. She loved the sand, the pool, and we had one memorable moment at the Captain's Plank Restaurant :)

Oh how I wish I could go back and give you a bottle again. Gabby, you were the sweetest little baby. How I wish so much I could go back to 2003 and do it all again. Most things I would leave exactly the same. I would just do a little more of everything that was good...and a little less sweating the small stuff...I love you with all by heart Gabby and I will miss you each and every day of my life. You were the answer to so many prayers. I cried and longed to have a baby just like you and I am so thankful to call you my daughter You truly blessed our lives each and every day.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Where I find comfort...

Although comfort and peace comes and goes, I felt that I should write it down so that when it "goes" I can read this to help me remember again. So many have let us borrow and bought books for us. I have started reading several. As I read, I keep trying to figure out why this happened. Although I never will be able to understand, I do have a greater picture of life on earth as well as eternity. I understand way more deeply the Bible and its teaching than ever before. Before I was reading about others struggles and I am reflecting it on my own tragedy. Before parts of the Bible didn't make sense to me....I never understood how I could read a few verses and not get much from it but a preacher could preach for days on those same verses.

We get so caught up in the day to day activities. And if we are not busy with that, we are busy trying to "plan" our future. While all those need to be done and you do need to have plans, I feel that we, as a society, spend way too much time worrying about things that don't really matter...including myself. I know you have heard this a million times....but until something like what I have experienced happens to you, it might never sink in. You might agree with it but you never intend to change your ways. You still keep running from one thing to the next. Planning holidays, vacations, parties, etc. But now my thoughts have shifted. I am now much more concerned about eternity as you can understand why. I have much more faith (at times) in God and Jesus Christ than ever before. I have much more understanding of what he did for us...and the love he has and the sacrifices that were made....for all of us. I understand the pain from the death of a child. I don't understand the pain from the death of a child who never sinned, who was 100% pure, who died a horribly painful death, and who could have stopped it from happening but didn't. But God knows.

Some may wonder how I can continue to have faith and belief in God. I still have faith that God is good and has a plan for our lives. I have never lived by life totally for God....I had my own plans and often didn't include God in directing that path. But from now on, I will ask him every step of the way....where ever he leads I will follow. All I can say is, I do believe. There are those who believe that we were created out of nothing with no higher power. I know that this can't be because we have souls, we feel pain deeply. A soul and feelings could not possibly been created from thin air or from dirt without a higher power breathing life into us. It's just not possible. God not only gave us life but also provided us a way to have everlasting life with him....without pain, sin or suffering if we just believe. I believe that God gave us the most precious thing to us...his perfect son, Jesus Christ. And then not only did he give him to us, he allowed sinful humans who he created to brutally murder him. Did he do that because he was just mean...No. He did it for me and for you. This truly was the ultimate sacrifice. There is nothing else that could match I finally understand why. And even though Jesus said "why hath thou forsaken me", he would do it again. He knew he had to for us. And from what I understand this statement from Jesus was for our was to let us know that the Old Testament prophecy had been fulfilled (Psalms 22:1). But I also feel that is was to make us know that it is OK to question God. But in the end, we have to trust him that he has a plan for us.

I have also been asked how I can share so openly with my feelings. I guess I am use to it, just not quite this public :) I have so many friends who I have made during our stuggle to have a child and during the adoption process. Those who knew exactly what I was going through. So I am very use to pouring my heart out to people including those who I have never met but cherish their friendship deeply. It truly is part of my healing process.

I do have many struggles with Why God allowed this to happen to my daughter and to our family. But I must is all I got. Without faith in God, I have nothing. Life has no meaning. So I must trust Him! I love Gabby Goo with all my heart and I will just have to wait to see her again one day. Until then, I must make sure Tucker and Shane have the best life possible....and one day we will all be together again.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

I wanna go back....

I sit here with my beautiful son Tucker with tears running down my face. Why can't I just be thankful for what I got? My every thought is consumed by Gabby, what she looked like, things she said, funny stories, her smile that could light up a room...I just want her back. I want to go back when it was the four of us. Things weren't perfect but as close as you can get. I know bad things happen everyday but this is just not fair! I know what you are going to say "no one said life was fair". But right now, I just want her back. Take everything I own and leave me with Shane, Gabby, and Tucker, and I will never complain again.

Our journey to have a baby began in 1999. Everyone grows up taking fertility as a given...well its not. I know people who have planned what month they want their child to be born and boom it happens. For some of us, it's not that easy. So after three surgeries for endometriosis and three in vitro fertilizations...we decided to adopt. This turned out to be the best decision of our lives. What a blessing our kids have been to us....we adore them. So many people say "what a great thing you did for these two childen. They are so blessed to have you". My response is always..."No what we did was pretty selfish....we wanted a family and we are the ones that are blessed."

I know I sound bitter over infertility but I am not. As soon as Gabby was placed in our arms, all the pain went away. Over the years, I actually began to treat infertility as a blessing. I had the most wonderful two kids on the planet in my wish more people could experience what I have....and see what a blessing we have been given!

So, why did it last only 8 years? No one will ever be able to answer this for least not hear on earth. I long every second of every day to see her again...hear her voice...give her the biggest hug and kiss...I miss her so much.

I love Tucker dearly also and I have a wonderful husband....why can't that be enough?....I have right now what some people never have. Plus I had 8 years of wonderful with Gabby...something that some never have. So why is that not enough?

So many have great my faith is...I wish it was. I have to work everyday to make it stronger and stronger. Because without faith...I have no hope.

I cling to these verses in hopes that the past 8 years was a mere taste of what life in eternity will be I long for that day. Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know I have plans for you" declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you, and not harm you, plans to give you hope, and a future."

The picture above was the last family picture that was taken. It was from Gabby's 8th birthday June 4, 2011.

Friday, August 26, 2011

The day no one wants to experience

July 18, 2011.....It started out as an ordinary summer day. Shane and I were headed out to work and our children, Gabby (age 8) and Tucker (age 5) were going to the zoo with their grandparents. Gabby was suppose to go to tumbling camp that week but when Nannie asked to take both kids to the zoo and then a sleepover, we thought "what a great plan." This would had been the first time Tucker got to spend the night at Nannie's and Poppy's and he was so excited. It was something he had been wanting for a long time. Nannie knew there was only two weeks left of summer break and she felt time seemed to be slipping away before school began. It was also mine and Shane's 13th wedding anniversary and so we thought we could go out to eat to celebrate that evening.

Nannie and Poppy came to pick up the kids around 7:35am. The zoo is about an hour and a half away in Knoxville, Tennessee. My work was unusually busy and I needed to get out of the house and to work on time. But for some reason, I didn't seem in a hurry at all the last minute requests. First, Gabby had a rock in her tennis shoe, so instead of trying to shake it out for her (figuring I wouldn't get it all and she would notice), I went and got her another pair for her to wear and I put them on her feet. Then, Nannie said she didn't bring a camera. I told her she could borrow mine...but then I told Gabby "Maybe you would like to bring yours" (Gabby had a pink camera we bought for her a year ago hoping she would love taking pictures as much as Shane and I do). She quickly said yes. I then changed the batteries out because I wasn't sure if they were still good. I looked at the time knowing I needed to leave and then took everything out to my car that I needed for work. I was going to come back in to say goodbye when Nannie opened the door and said "Wait they want to give you a hug and kiss goodbye". I gave them a hug and kiss them both but for the life of me I can't remember what I said. I am sure I said "Have a good time" and I hope I said "I love you". I didn't see the car leave our driveway. I had ran back inside to shut all the doors, make sure the dogs had water, etc. When I got outside, the car was already driving off. Shane said that they rolled down the window and was waving goodbye and saying "I love you". Oh how I wish now I wasn't in such a hurry and would have heard these words too.

We both went to work. I remember I didn't go to lunch because there was so much going on at work but I thought "well, we will have a nice dinner for our anniversary tonight". Shane had been at work but out of the office all day in meetings and I hadn't spoken to him. I was late leaving work when my phone rang. It was after 5pm. I thought it was Shane asking where I was. It was Shane but his voices sounded odd. He asked "has anyone talked with you?" I said no. He said "Mom, Dad and the kids were in a horrible wreck. Dad called me and told me it was really, really bad but he thought everyone was going to be OK" He said they had been air lifted but wasn't sure if they were headed to Johnson City or Knoxville and to meet him at the Johnson City ER. I was in a panic but kept clinging to his words "...everyone is going to be OK..."

When we got to the ER, Gabby and Tucker had already arrived via helicopter. They wouldn't let us see either one of them and our panic began to grow. It didn't help my nerves when a chaplin showed up very quickly in the waiting room. After what seemed an eternity, they let us back to Tucker. He was talking and although cut up, he looked great in my eyes. His ear was bandaged but they told us it was purely cosmetic. They wanted to get him to surgery that night to repair it. I breathed a sigh of relief seeing him but was very worried about Gabby. Someone came to say that one of us could go to Gabby and so Shane went leaving me with Tucker. I kept asking everyone I saw what was going on with Gabby. I was then told the cat scan revealed that her brain had been injured. I kept asking over and over "what does that mean?" but no one would give me a good answer. Someone finally came and told me they could take me to Gabby who was up in PICU. About 4 individuals escorted me to PICU. When I got there, the room was full of doctors, nurses, advocates, chaplins, and Shane. I will never forget seeing Gabby. She was hooked up to all kinds of machines and she wasn't conscious. Her face was swollen but physically she didn't have many cuts or scrapes on her. The doctors said they wanted to place a devise on her head that would allow them to monitor the pressure on her brain. They also wanted to try and reduce the swelling with medicines. They said her injury was inoperable and also a stint couldn't be used. They wanted to do a test in the morning to see how much blood flow is going to her brain. They left us with these words that still ring in my head "....She is a very sick little girl....she couldn't be any worst...."

We spent the evening going back and forth between Gabby and Tucker, crying, praying, worrying. Although we knew we needed to have faith everything could turn out OK, it was hard for me forget what the doctors said. And then they kept saying it several times that evening..."she couldn't be any sicker." I wanted to scream at them but I didn't. I know they were trying to tell us the truth but I didn't want to hear what they had to say. After they inserted the monitor, we notice Gabby's toes and hands moving (slightly) every once in a while. We thought this was a good sign because before she wasn't responding to any "pain" therapy at all. But the monitor they inserted was not showing the numbers they wanted. They wanted it to get down to "20" but everytime I looked at was in the 50s or 60s. Tucker was in the room beside Gabby. He slept most of the evening. They held off on surgery for him because of his lung. They were concerned his lung would collapse during surgery but thought he would be good in a few days to have surgery.

Morning finally came and they took Gabby down to radiology for her test. While we had hope, it was deminishing. At least for me it was. The doctor's didn't arrive to talk to us about the test until 1pm. They told us that the test revealed no blood flow to Gabby's brain. As I am typing this still I don't want to believe it. How could this happen? From the first day we found out our daughter was born, Gabby was the perfect child for us. I do believe I love her more than I could a biological child. She was and is perfect and lacked all my character flaws. She bonded with us from the very first moment we saw her...falling asleep in her Daddy's arms. I love her more than life itself. She is beautiful, sweet, kind, and always had a beautiful smile on her face. She use to whisper in my ear "I will love you forever and ever Mommy", I do hope she knew just how much I loved her and will always love her. She was my world and now I am left with a huge hole in my heart that will never be repaired. Although Tucker prays "God, please help Mommy's broken heart" I know it will never be fixed.

The picture above was taken July 17th. Shane had taken the kids out to pick the tomatoes off the vine. As you can tell, we spend the entire day in our pajamas...playing, watching TV, working puzzles, and living an ordinary life....with extraordinary kids.