Topping Twins

Topping Twins

Friday, April 28, 2017

Perfectly Perfect

So I'm going to let you in on a little secret, Nick and I are super OCD. For those of you that know us, you're probably laughing, saying, yeahhhhh we know that! No joke! 

When Nick and I learned of Hudson's limb difference last fall, it totally rocked our world. The news completely came out of left field and we definitely were not expecting anything but a completely healthy pregnancy and healthy children. Our 16 week ultrasound would confirm our hopes and just a short three weeks later we would be thrown for a loop. 


That's what the next 18 weeks would consist of. Lots and lots of worry. 

What if something else was wrong?

Could they be wrong with Baby B's diagnosis?

So many questions, thoughts and feelings swarmed our minds from the time Hudson was diagnosed until he was born. 

I can't even begin to tell you just how bad my anxiety was the remainder of my pregnancy. And I would be lying if I didn't say I felt robbed of my pregnancy. I really enjoy being pregnant. Being our final pregnancy, I wanted to enjoy every single second. Every move, kick, sleepless night. I wanted it ALL. I definitely did my best to enjoy it, but I was downright exhausted and this pregnancy definitely took a toll on me emotionally. I've always wanted to be a twin momma, and I constantly worried that this opportunity was going to be taken from me. Again. 

January 24th was seriously a day that I know God and Peyton sat on each side of me, as we brought two beautiful Angels on Earth, into this world. At that instant, I knew that everything, and I mean everything, would be okay. Seeing Hayden and Hudson, I was overcome with emotion and found myself speechless. They were simply perfect. 

Perfectly perfect. 

All of the worry, tears and sleepless nights -- they were completely worth it. Because guess what, it's JUST AN ARM!! Nick and I have been through SO much worse. And, despite our OCD tendencies and longing for perfection, Hudson has given us a knew perspective and definition of perfection. 

Hudson has been diagnosed with right below elbow amputation or R UE congenital limb.

What does this mean? Hudson's right arm simply stopped forming a little past his elbow. He has five small fingers that will remain small. He has both bones that would typically grow in your arm, but they do not have the growth plate to make them grow. His upper arm is the same length as it is on his left side. This is not something that is hereditary. To our knowledge, we have no limb differences in either of our families. And, this is not amniotic banding. It cannot be explained why Hudson's arm formed the way it did. A fluke. 

And that's basically it. He will grow up simply knowing no different. And I have no doubt whatsoever that he will thrive and do amazing things. 

Are Nick and I worried about what other's will think/say about Hudson's arm? Simple answer. Yes. Of course we are. The world can be cruel and unfair. But life is unfair sometimes, and it's how we react to situations that matter most. If we all saw the world through the eyes of a child, I think there would be a lot less hurt and judgement. Hudson was over a month old before Kaylee even noticed his arm. ONE month people!! She's 4.5! And anyone that knows Kaylee, knows you don't get anything past her. One day, Kaylee came up to me and said, 'hey mom -- look at Hudson's arm! Why isn't my arm like that?' Nick and I explained to her that Hudson has a lucky arm and she quickly chimed in 
'well yeah, because God makes us different. We don't want to be the same or we'd all be boring.' Goodness I love that girl. 

We will continue to take Hudson to Children's Mercy for evaluation and physical and occupational therapy. He has the option of being fitted for a prosthetic at six months old. Nick and I aren't sure what our thoughts are on prosthetics and we are letting Hudson and prayer guide us to our decision.

The next chapter of our story has opened and I'm excited to take you all with us on our journey.


Hello there! It's been quite a while. A lot has happened over the past 13 weeks. The twins made their arrival and haven't missed a beat since then! Our family is truly complete, and we couldn't be more thankful or blessed to be living the life that we truly love.

January 24, 2017, Hayden Lane and Hudson Jay made their grand appearance via c-section. This is the first time that my OB has actually been able to deliver any of our children! The moment that Kaylee and Preston met their baby brothers is something that Nick and I will remember forever. Pure joy, excitement and happiness from them both and they couldn't have been any cuter hugging and kissing their brothers, welcoming them with open arms into our family.

Hayden Lane Topping
6 lbs. 9 oz. | 21 inches long

Hudson Jay Topping
5 lbs 12 oz. |19.75 inches long

We have settled in pretty nicely as a family of 6+ and it's hard to image life before the twins. We've managed to establish a pretty great routine and have lots of helping hands from our little helpers, Kaylee and Preston. Hayden and Hudson adore their older brother and sister and often greet them with smiles and coos. By eightish weeks old, they were sleeping through the night and developed a great napping schedule. 

Thank you for all of the kind words, well wishes, meals, gifts and so much more the past several months. We are forever thankful, grateful and blessed to have such amazing family and friends. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

God will carry you

Prayer really works. Plain and simple.

3.5 weeks ago when we found out that one of the twins was missing his right arm, simply put, Nick and I were devastated. But, the troops rallied, dropped to their knees and began once again, praying for our family.

We are blessed.

We felt every prayer, read every note, and have appreciated every card, meal and gesture made towards us. Our hearts are truly full. Full of love, full of faith, and full of peace. Your prayers surrounded us in warmth and comforted us when we needed it the most.

The past few weeks have been a bit of a roller coaster. It may seem silly. We are just talking about an arm. However, worry can be toxic and really hurts our hearts at times.

Last week, we were finally able to get to Children's Mercy for a four-hour sonogram and consult with the team there. Let me just say this - Children's Mercy is amazing. And Alicia, our sonogram technician is phenomenal. We had her when we went there with Preston and Peyton and she seriously is just the best. Anyways--- the sonogram was very long. For a momma that is struggling with severe sciatic nerve pain, it was a little uncomfortable, but it's par for the course. The boys were literally spinning in circles while the sonogram was happening. Just to paint a picture --- Baby A, when we started the sono, was on my right side, head down. By the end of the sonogram, he was breach, still on my right side. Baby B, started out transverse to the right of Baby A. By the end, he was laying sideways across my stomach under my rib cage.

All of that being said, my point is, that these boys were giving our sonogram tech a run for her money. In the midst of scanning Baby B--- I thought I could see what would be his right arm. You read that right. Baby B looked like he had a right arm

! Trying not to be rude, I asked the sono tech if that was what I was seeing and she nonchalantly said yes and continued to scan. Then, it was like a light clicked on and she paused and said, wait--- which arm were you concerned about? I responded, saying we thought he didn't have a right arm. So - she changed gears and began to focus on that arm. We discovered that Baby B does have a fully developing upper right arm. His lower arm (the radius and ulna bones) are both there, however, they are measuring short. Think of about a third of your forearm. The sono tech was also able to see five finger bones. Yes--- you read that right too. Now, these bones are probably more fist like than anything, but this is SO much better than we had initially thought.

Baby A's sono went pretty well too. They found an echogenic focus on the left ventricle of his heart; however, there are no other indicators/signs for us to be concerned about that at this point. They will continue to monitor this over the coming weeks.

After the sonogram, we met with the team; a neonatologist, occupational therapist and geneticist. They all provided the same information, basically saying that we won't know if there is anything else wrong with Baby B until he is born. They also provided information on what to expect once Baby B is here, how he will naturally adjust, etc. (There are several syndromes that can come with a limb deficiency, however, we are not going to think about any of those until they can actually evaluate him upon arrival).

Late last week, we met with both our pediatrician and my OB. Let me also say how much I love my OB. Nick and I walked out of his office completely different people. We felt so at peace and confident with the future. (again- prayers are so powerful) I'm not sure if it's because we've been seeing him for seven years or just his presentation of information. He just had a way of making us feel empowered and at peace.

We are officially scheduled for a c-section delivery on January 24th. We will deliver at Shawnee Mission Medical Center.

At the end of the day, it IS just an arm. We are going to be one very happy family of six + 1 very special angel who just so happens to keep reminding us to keep the faith. Throughout all of this, we've cried, screamed and laughed until we cried. What we've discovered is just how important our faith is. And also, just how important we are to each other.

Hebrews 4:16
"Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in the time of need."

Thank you all for showing us grace and providing us the strength we need to continue our journey.

Our story isn't over yet.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

My journey hasn't been easy, but I'm still...

"My journey hasn't been easy, but I'm still... standing, laughing, forgiving, loving, learning & living. I'm perfectly imperfect."

We all have a plan in life. One, that, although I would love to have control over, I do not. Simply put, God's plan is much greater than I could imagine. And, unfortunately, it is something that I cannot just pull my magic eight ball out to see what my future entails.

The thing is, when they talk about mother's intuition, there really is some truth to that. You see, I can distinctly remember having a conversation with my mom several months ago saying that I really wanted to write a book. Share our story, so that others out there going through something similar could use my writing as an outlet for coping. I ended the conversation saying, that I want to write it, but my story wasn't complete yet. I just felt like there was more.

When I found out we were expecting twins again, I knew this was my "more" to the story. I couldn't help but think we were getting a second chance to raise twins.

The saying "God doesn't give you more than you can handle," is really a saying I'm getting tired of these days though.

Yesterday, I woke up ready to conquer the world. I read a few blogs before starting my day and even shared a post about everyone going through struggles and how we handle them. That afternoon, we went to Shawnee Mission Medical Center for our 20-week sonogram and high-risk appointment. We weren't being labeled as high risk, for any other reason, other than the fact that we were expecting twins again, and with our history, my OB wanted to play it safe. I'm good with safe. I'm good with a plan.

About half-way into our sonogram, Nick sent me a text. "I'm nervous",  is all it said.

On pins and needles and an hour and 45 minutes of scanning later, the sonographer informed us that she needed to talk to Dr. Wickstrom, our specialist. Nick and I knew immediately that something was indeed wrong. Panic was setting in. I knew there was a reason I hadn't slept the night before. Tossing and turning, but not really sure why.

Dr. Wickstrom informed us that Baby A was perfectly healthy. Brain and heart look great. Growing right on track and a very active baby boy.

Baby B's (another sweet baby boy) heart and brain looked good (I actually had to call to confirm this after the fact - everything is such a blur), and he was measuring right on track. However, it appears that his right arm did not form the way it should have. If I stood here and told you that I held my head up high and remained strong when we were given this news, I would be lying. I was a complete wreck. I couldn't contain my tears, or my emotions. I literally felt like I was in a crazy dream. Someone pinch me so I could just wake up from this nightmare.

There is really no explanation for why this happened. And no explanation for how either.

We are automatically being referred to the team at Children's Mercy. We will meet with an orthopedic surgeon and a whole team of doctors there to discuss Baby B and his future. We understand that he will have surgeries in his future. We just do not know when or how often or any details really, right now. We hope to know more in the coming weeks once we have made our visit to CM.

Now, this by no means will impact if Baby B will survive or not. He WILL survive. Does this mean that he will live a different life than his twin brother? Not if I have a say. He might have to adjust how he does things, but with technology and strong-willed parents, he WILL persevere.

Despite being heartbroken that we are once again, faced with hardship, I am confident that we will look back on this moment in time and it will be a small memory compared to what the future holds for Baby B. This is a trying time in our lives and is truly a test of our faith, our marriage, and everything in between. It's only been almost two years since Peyton passed away-- something that may seem like "just an arm" has stirred up emotions we didn't know existed.

Please pray for strength for our family. Pray that we remain each other's rock and that we continue to lean on our faith to pull us through. Going through something like this is not easy. It plain sucks, and we find ourselves questioning what the purpose of all of this is. Pray for us today, but tomorrow, pray for our son. Pray for his future and that this is all we are dealing with.

"it's not the disability that defines you; it's how you deal with the challenges the disability presents you with." - Jim Abbott

Sunday, June 19, 2016

"...we have not stopped praying for you..."

Can you believe that in just a few short months Preston will celebrate his 2nd birthday?! On this Father's Day, I find myself overwhelmed with the happiest of emotions and longing even more for Peyton to be here. 

Also on this day, Nick, Kaylee, Preston and I drop to our knees in thankfulness and full of prayer. 
I'll cut right to the chase. :) Preston is pretty excited to announce that he is going to be a BIG brother!!

But, our story doesn't stop there. Our rainbow baby, is something I have dreamt about for so long now. Anyone that knows me, knows that I have always wanted a big family. When you ask me how many kids I want, I jokingly have always said, "I'd have ten kids if Nick would let me." All kidding aside, I knew that I wanted a bigger family, and so did Nick. On May 24th, we found out we were expecting. A crazy, happy day! We could hardly believe our eyes. So much so, that we took NINE tests to confirm we were right. 

On June 17th, we headed to our OB, Dr. Lynch for our first sonogram and appointment. Of course, I was super excited, and nervous. I had told Nick, he should be prepared, I was convinced we were having twins, and Nick of course told me I was crazy and we were on our way. 

Into the sono we went and within seconds.... there it was. 

The sonographer didn't even have to say it, Nick and I both knew instantly. TWINS.

Tears, lots of laughter and smiles and a little freaking out were in the moments immediately following. Shock and pure excitement too. Dr. Lynch was certainly surprised. He even stated that in the 30 years he's been practicing medicine, he has never had a couple conceive twins naturally, twice, much less back to back. Little did he know that I have TWO family members that have (My dad's mom had two sets of identical twins back to back and my mom's grandmother had two sets too!). And here we are, carrying on the tradition. 

I can't begin to tell you how happy, excited, nervous and scared we are. I cannot wait for the day that we are holding our sweet babies in our arms. I am confident that these babies will both be coming home with us. And I know that our family will be complete when we do. In the coming months, continue to pray for us. Pray for strength and pray for healthy babies. 

Welcome to our next chapter. One that I know we will truly enjoy and live to the fullest. 

"Pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for You." -- First Thessalonians 5:17-18

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

In the arms of an angel - one year later

Exactly one year ago today, we laid our son to rest.

And I'm here to tell you, we survived. I feel like we should all applaud, pat ourselves on the back, or if Kaylee had her way, we would all shout HOORAY! We did it! We actually made it through a year that I was absolutely terrified of facing.

I'll never forget the day that I sat in my hospital bed begging my doctor not to dismiss me from the hospital. Tears rolled down my cheeks, as I explained to her how scared I was to go home. Now, while most people may find this to seem a little silly, it to me, is not. Going home meant that what seemed like my worst nightmare, was indeed reality. Going home, meant that I was going to have to stand in front of family and friends as we buried my son. No pinching necessary, this was real life.

Despite my angst, after five days in the hospital, we went home. And you know what? I went to sleep in tears that night. It sucked. And the next day, Nick and I went out to buy an outfit for our son to be buried in. At the time, it seemed so surreal. What we should have been doing was picking out an outfit to baptize Peyton in. But, instead, that was not the case. The funny thing is--- I had actually ordered an outfit for Peyton a few months prior, but it just didn't seem like the "right" one. So--- in my sense of crazy, Nick and I went on the adventure looking for the perfect outfit. Seems like such a small detail, but it was a detail that I knew that we would forever remember.

I want you all to know that the pain does not go away. It doesn't. There isn't a single day, or a single second, for that matter, that I don't think about my son. I sometimes wake up in the middle of the night, sweating, terrified that I have forgotten what Peyton looked like, what color was his hair? His eyes? What did he weigh again? For those that know me, you know that my memory is typically really good. I can tell you what nearly every classmate from kindergarten's birthday is. I just remember. It's a funny thing what grief can do to your mind. You forget. And then, you remember again. Sometimes--- it's just a matter of getting through the fog.

Although the pain does not go away, you do learn how to manage it. You smile, because, despite having been through something I would have never dreamt I would have to go through, there is still happiness to be had. 

I've learned more in the past year about myself, my marriage and my family than I have in a long time. We've made so many memories. When I think back on the year that has passed, I sit here smiling. Because, we lived life to the absolute fullest. No regrets. At the end of the day, Peyton's death taught me to do that. It taught me to be a better listener, more patient and to enjoy the little moments just as much as the big ones.

Nick and I are so blessed for the lives that we do have. We have an amazing family and our friends are the best. And, we have two beautiful children that we get to spend our lives with here on Earth and one beautiful, handsome angel that I will be forever grateful for.

This past weekend, we celebrated Preston's 1st birthday. We concluded his birthday with a balloon release to Heaven in remembrance of Peyton. I know that Peyton was there with us that day. The sun was so bright, but if you look carefully, you can see a "white" balloon. Except, we only had blue and orange balloons.

Peyton continues to remind us daily that he is with us. It's the most peaceful feeling. Honestly--- I wake up most days with a smile on my face because I just "know" that he's here. It's kind of crazy, because I know the kids and Nick feel it too. Kaylee will randomly start talking about Peyton. And Preston, he's drawn to his twin brother.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for everyone's kindness over the past year. This may have been an unexpected journey, but behind every storm, there is a rainbow. It is through the strength of others that we are able to focus on the rainbow and remember the storm.

"And once the storm is over, you won't remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won't even be sure whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won't be the same person who walked in. That's what this storm's all about."

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

How many children do you have?

As we approach the ten month mark since the birth of the twins, I am in awe of how much time has passed already. It seems surreal that this is the life we are living and just how quickly time is flying.

I absolutely hate the saying "everything happens for a reason". This saying is very impersonal and is gut-wrenching to a lot of people. Especially, those whom have lost a loved one. Although I absolutely despise this saying, I have often found myself looking for the "reason" of why Nick and I were dealt the hand we were given. It's amazing the people you meet because of it. Over the past ten months, Nick and I have met some wonderful people, that, unfortunately share in our experience with their own heartache.

I've come to the conclusion that although I still cannot explain the reason that we lost our son, or the reason why God felt that He needed Peyton, I can tell you that I am pulled in the direction of giving back. AND, in the direction of helping other grieving parents in any way that I possibly can.

One of the absolute toughest questions to answer, I've found, is "how many children do you have?" The struggle is real. How do I answer this question? On one hand, I LOVE hearing the sound of Peyton's name, and I do like to tell his story. I have immense guilt if I don't tell his story. I don't for one second ever want his life, his existence, to be diminished. On the other hand, I don't want to make the person asking the question uncomfortable. And, to be perfectly honest, some days, I just don't have the energy to want to talk about everything that Nick and I have been through over the past year and a half.

Someone I met through a support group that Nick and I joined through Children's Mercy gave me some great advice. Some advice that I have found very helpful and thought I would share.

Give as much information as the person asking the question asks for.

For example:
Q: "How many children do you have?"
A: "I have three children."

Q: "Boys? Girls?"
A: "I have a daughter and 2 sons."

Q: "What are their names?"
A: "Kaylee, Preston and Peyton"

Q: "What are their ages?"
A: "Kaylee is 3 and Preston and Peyton are twins. Preston is almost ten months and unfortunately, Peyton is in Heaven now." Some days, I go into Peyton's story and other days, I leave it at that. It totally depends on the person I'm talking to and the mood I'm in.

I am telling you all this, not to make you feel sorry for me. Not to draw attention. I am hoping that if someone out there is going through this same struggle this helps them. It's honestly, my most dreaded question and I am hoping that I can help others.