Topping Twins

Topping Twins

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Stage 1: Shock / Denial

Good grief.

Grief. Grieving. Grievance.

So many ways to say it. They all suck. Excuse my language, but really--- it sucks. I recently read an article about the five stages of grief. 5 stages! I remember learning about grief during health class when I was in high school. It should come as no surprise to me. But, as I read this article, I found myself angry and terrified. Angry at the thought that this "grieving" is going to take forever and terrified that it may take forever. I want to feel normal again.

It's been 8 weeks since Peyton's funeral and 9 since the twins were born. 9 weeks. I feel like I blinked. There's no way our lives were turned upside down 9 weeks ago. I don't even feel like it's been a week, how can it be 9? For the past 9 weeks I feel like I've been in a fog. Going through the motions-- doing what I need to do for my family. A tear here and there, but honestly--- I've been plain numb. I keep waiting for the other shoe to fall. When will I start "feeling" the loss of Peyton?

I've heard comments made from family and friends like -- I'm worried about Ashley. How's Ashley doing? The truth is, I'm fine. Honestly. But this all makes sense--- perhaps I'm stuck in the first stage of grief still -- 1. Shock and Denial. It's about as real as it gets.

This week, we took Preston in to Children's Mercy for an ultrasound on his hips. (They were checking for hip displasia due to his being born breech.) The planner that I am, I spent all day Sunday mentally preparing myself for making the trip back to CM. I kept thinking that I was going to have a mental breakdown or something. Well, we went made it there and back with zero tears. Zero feelings even. Numb. Being numb is exhausting.

Guilt is exhausting too. I find myself feeling lots of guilt. Mom guilt is terrible, but it's reached a whole new level. Anytime we're asked to do something or go somewhere, I instantly begin to feel guilt for leaving my children with anyone other than me. Guilt isn't something I had anticipated, much less realized how bad it was, until Nick asked me last week point blank, why do you feel so guilty? You need time for you, time for us. He's right-- I know he is, but it still doesn't take the guilt away.

Anyways-- as I continue in this state of "shock/denial", bare with me. I knew that this wasn't going to be easy and I know that there is a purpose to everything. But, today, I will snuggle Preston and Kaylee and hope that I can just skip straight to acceptance.

But through all of this, there are smiles and moments of reflection. It's amazing how much Peyton is with us on a daily basis. During the most stressful and happiest times, Peyton is here. Nick and I recently read an article that my aunt had posted about the signs that a lost loved one is with you. Whether it be Peyton visiting us in our dreams, feeling him through "electrical activity", symbolic message, movement of an item-- we know that our angel baby is with us every single day.

Nick and I began to realize this about a month ago when a picture that we had sitting on a shelf fell. It was a picture of Preston and Peyton from when they were in the hospital. The first time it happened, we didnt' think too much of it, but after the 3rd time, it got our attention. A few weeks ago, Nick, Preston and I went to Wichita for our friend, Pat's 30th birthday party. We dropped Kaylee off in Topeka with my mom and then headed to Wichita for the night. Throughout the trip, Nick and I talked a lot about Peyton, Christmas, etc. Multiple times, we would hear this "magical" sound. Nick and I would look at each other with looks of, did you hear that?. After about the 4th time, Nick said to me-- you know, I think Peyton is here. He's telling us he's here with that sound. The sound was coming from one of Kaylee's toys-- a frozen wand that makes "magical" sounds. However, that only happens if you push a button. Anyways--- Peyton was with us on our car ride and Nick and I couldn't help but smile. On Thanksgiving, I was talking to my mom-- I look up at a picture we had hanging of the twins and the picture had been moved. I literally looked at my mom and said he's here, he's with us.

So despite the fog that I've been in for the past 2 months, Peyton has helped me when I've needed it most. There isn't a second that goes by that I don't think about him, wonder what he's doing right now. There are a lot of angels in heaven holding him and we know he is in good hands.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Angel of God, my Guardian Dear...

It's hard to believe that it has been four weeks since we celebrated the life of Peyton. Honestly-- it feels kind of like a dream or a lifetime ago. When we say it out loud, it is plain crazy to think that nearly a month has flown by.

I'm writing today to honor Peyton. I remember the day like it was yesterday and honestly, it brings so many smiles and memories flooding back. I want you all to know how thankful Nick and I are for the gift that Peyton gave us. The gift of time. Something we will try our best to not take for granted. When this whole process began, Nick and I both begged and pleaded with God, to give us the gift of time to spend with Peyton. We wanted to meet our son. We can't begin to thank God enough for answering our prayer and gifting us time.

Don't get me wrong -- saying goodbye to Peyton is THE hardest thing that Nick and I have ever had to do. Period. The pain is there. However, with that pain, there is peace. Peace knowing that Peyton is not suffering. Peace knowing that Nick and I were empowered through our faith throughout this process. We have no regrets. Something that was our greatest fear. We didn't want to look back and play the, "We wish we would have.." game. Instead, we look back and talk about how great of a day the day was when we had to say "goodbye" to our son.

We wanted Peyton's day to be perfect. Something that brought happiness through the tears. From the music, to the readings, to pictures, to our outfits. Nick and I wanted the day to be something that we would be able to remember every detail. Picking out outfits for our family, although I was dreading, came together simply. As a family, we each wore a little blue and orange. Throughout our pregnancy-- those colors had become symbolic for us and we just knew they would be the perfect colors to wear in honor of our son.

October 7, 2014, 1 PM. Not a cloud in the sky. 75 degrees and sunny. A picture perfect day. I'm not kidding, it truly was the most beautiful day. Like Peyton was smiling from above, giving us the light we needed.

You see, first of all--- the world truly is a small place. Porter Funeral Home was absolutely the best choice for us. Not only did the owner end up being the uncle of one of my very good friends, but the facility really brought light and sunshine to what was a sad day. They provided us the service that we didn't even realize we needed and were beyond accommodating to meet our needs.

We began Peyton's service, meeting with family and friends. A special thank you to Kayla Stallbaumer, for the amazing pictures you captured of Peyton and our family. We were able to truly remember our son and have beautiful pictures displayed for everyone to see.

Although we hadn't planned to have an open casket, when we arrived at Porters, it was the right thing for us to do. Nick and I weren't ready to say goodbye and it brought us peace to be able to see him, touch him and give him kisses.

I wanted to make sure he was warm. The hospital had given us this beautiful small blue crocheted blanket that fit perfectly for Peyton. It brought me peace to see that he was perfectly wrapped in his blanket. He couldn't have looked more handsome.

We couldn't be more thankful for my cousin, Father Daniel (Danny) Schmitz for conducting Peyton's service. I've grown up with Danny my whole life, and couldn't have picked a more perfect person to help us celebrate Peyton. The homily was simply perfect. --- although Peyton was only here a short time, he truly experienced a lifetime of love. Each song and reading were carefully selected by Nick and I. Each of these songs are perfectly written to describe feelings that we have felt throughout this journey.

Strong Enough
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven;
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

Jesus Blesses the Children
And they were bringing even their babies to Him so taht He would touch them, but when the disciples saw it, they began rebuking them. But Jesus called for them, saying, "Permit the children to come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. "Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all."

Hold On (As I Hold You)

One More Day

Strength for the Journey

We ended Peyton's Service at Resurrection Catholic Cemetery. Peyton is buried underneath a beautiful tree in the children section of the cemetery. We prayed together as a family and released orange and blue balloons into the sky to celebrate Peyton. This is a tradition that we will continue on special days of remembrance for the rest of our lives.

We can't begin to thank everyone enough for their love and support.  There isn't a day that doesn't go by that we don't think or talk about Peyton. We thank everyone for thinking, praying and speaking of our son as well. It brings a smile to our face to hear his name. Although Peyton only spent moments in our arms, he will truly forever be in our hearts.

Sweet baby boy, mommy, daddy, Kaylee and Preston love you to infinity and back. We thank God every day for giving us the chance to meet you. Days are tough at times, but for the most part, they are filled with happiness and peace. We are forever blessed with the most beautiful angel.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The birth story of our boys

The day we had been anticipating for 9 months was finally here. We had made it to my own twin brother's wedding, which was simply the perfect day and surprisingly, the night before, Nick and I both managed to get some sleep before waking at 4:45 am to get ready for the big day. The day we would finally get to meet our boys! Truly soaking up every second, enjoying every move I felt from my boys. I knew this would be the feeling I would miss the most. The only time in my life that I would get to feel the flutter in my stomach -- something I never want to forget. All of our family, both Nick's and mine had stayed with us the night before so that we could all caravan to Children's Mercy together. There's nothing better than seeing your parents first thing in the morning, especially on such a special day.

Kaylee woke, bright eyed and full of life -- her first words when she woke were "good morning sunshine". Something I will never forget either. Funny how a 2-year old knows just what to say to her momma. Kaylee was SO excited for 9/29 too. The day she would get to meet her brothers!


We left for Children's Mercy as a family. Kaylee was excited that she was able to ride with mommy and daddy and new car seats in tow. When we arrived, we got checked in and had the opportunity to see everyone one last time before being taken back for my spinal block. 


Before I knew it, it was go time. At exactly 8:30 am, I was taken to the OR to begin my spinal. They told me that Nick would be able to come back within 15 minutes. At 8:58 am, Nick was brought to the OR. He sat next to me and held my hand. He wiped the tears off my face as I laid there waiting for our doctors to begin. It's such a weird experience. The doctors were totally making small talk-- talking about John Riggins and how they had stayed in Seneca a few years back. I was amazed how they really tried to make their conversation relatable to me and the time that they had taken to know where I was from, etc. 

At 9:07 am, Preston Edward Topping was born. Dr. Bennett held Preston up for me to see and then the nurses instantly took him to check him over. He was simply beautiful. 

At 9:08 am, Peyton Michael Topping was born. The nurses and Peyton's doctor took him instantly to the resuscitation room. We weren't able to see him because he needed to be evaluated immediately. 

I instantly turned to Nick and said, go. Go be with our boys. I was instantly terrified that if Nick wasn't with our boys, something would go wrong. So I laid there listening to both of my babies crying. Smiling, thankful that I could hear them only a few feet away. The anesthesiologist was amazing-- he gave me a play by play of what was going on and would tell me when Nick was coming my way. It felt like an eternity before anyone came over to me to tell me what was going on, but before I knew it, Nick was standing by my side with Preston. 

Introducing Preston Edward Topping
6 pounds 5 oz.
20 inches long
9:07 am

Nick was seriously a rockstar. Going from room to room to check on the boys and come back to me to let me know what was going on. I asked him how Peyton was doing. He said he didn't think it looked good. He was breathing, but he was in a lot of pain. After meeting Preston, Peyton's doctor came to me to explain what was going on. 

She explained that they had placed Peyton on a ventilator but that he was struggling to breathe much on his own . They were managing his pain and keeping him comfortable, but she wasn't sure how much time we had with him. She recommended that we do Peyton's Baptism in the operating room as opposed to the recovery room (which was our initial plan) because they weren't sure if he would make it between rooms. I looked at Nick and he looked at me and we both nodded in agreement. We knew that Peyton was telling us that it was all going to be okay, that we wouldn't have to make any difficult decisions. He was making them for us. 

Introducing Peyton Michael Nicholas Topping
3 pounds 14.5 oz
15.5 inches long
9:08 am

Within minutes, both my cousin, Father Daniel Schmitz, and our friend and photographer, Kayla, were in the room. Father Danny baptized and confirmed Peyton as Nick held Preston and I held Peyton's hand. 

After Peyton was  baptized and confirmed, the doctors said they felt they had Peyton stabilized while on the ventilator. They just weren't sure of how long. They said that we could keep him on the ventilator for as long as we wanted, or we could remove the tubes, etc. so that everyone could hold him. We decided to leave him on the ventilator and move everyone to the recovery room so that our families could meet the boys. 

I was instantly moved to the recovery room, Nick following me with Preston. I remember looking out to the waiting room, seeing my sister-in-law, Catie, wave at me. I took a deep breath, smiled, and told myself, everything's going to be okay. You know this. Within seconds, I was instantly surrounded my my family and best friend, Amber. A few minutes later, they brought Peyton into the room and placed him in my arms. For the next two hours, time literally seemed to stand still. It was like God was freezing time for us. Freezing time so we could enjoy every second. Soak up every second with our family. 

Kaylee meeting her brothers for the first time was simply priceless. She was beyond excited to see her brothers. Despite her mom laying in a hospital bed and her brother being hooked to all sorts of tubes, it didn't phase her. The love she expressed for her family cannot be put into words. It was simply precious, and something that Nick and i will forever cherish. 

At 12:00 pm, 9/29, our son, Peyton Michael Nicholas Topping, went to be with Jesus. The strongest little boy I have ever met. Much too strong for Earth. Peyton passed away peacefully in his daddy and mommy's arms, next to his twin brother Preston. Although his time was short, he had a lifetime of love. He taught us more about life than we could have ever thought imaginable. We are so beyond grateful to have been able to spend those nearly three hours with our family of five. 

Words cannot begin to express how thankful we are to have such a great support system. Thank you to everyone that has brought a meal, sent cards, gifts, facebook messages, texts, phone calls, etc. We cannot begin to tell you how much we appreciate them. 

Life is but a hello and goodbye, but love is until we meet again.

Monday, September 15, 2014

The date is set! 9/29/14

It's official! The twins' birth date has been set! 9/29/14. The boys are scheduled for a c-section delivery. It will be a GREAT day and the day that we start this next chapter. No matter the outcome, Nick, Kaylee and I are very excited to meet our boys.

We're as ready as we can be! The boys' room is complete and we've got our bags packed!

Here's a little glimpse of the boys' room. :)

We have continued our weekly appointments at Children's Mercy. We have just 2 appointments left! Last week, we were able to tour the labor and delivery area as well as the NICU. It was a little overwhelming to say the least, but we made it through. These appointments are a little exhausting, lasting 4 hours+ every time. The benefits of working from home, allowing Nick and I to bring our computers/phones to get some work done while we wait.

The twins are continuing to grow and move around like crazy. The Bio Physical Profile exams on Preston have come back great and both boys have passed their Non Stress Tests with flying colors. Last week, we did see a small amount of fluid around Peyton. Which was amazing in and of itself. God just keeps giving us little signs here and there to remind us that everything is going to be okay! The doctors were very clear not to get our hopes up, but once again, they couldn't explain where the fluid was coming from.

We've also been stocking up on lots of navy blue and orange for the boys. Daddy is bound and determined that these boys will be decked out in Broncos gear for the next 3 months! LOL. The picture below on the left is of onesies that my cousin Elizabeth made for the boys. The picture on the right is of the stock that Nick ordered. :)

Preston and Peyton - mom and dad and your big sister Kaylee are SO excited to meet you. Although this is a very scary time for all of us, we are also reminded of how great of a time in our life this is. No matter the outcome, we are ready to take the journey with the two of you. Know that we have loved you both since the time we found out we were expecting and not a second goes by that we don't think about both of you! I am sincerely going to miss carrying you both, feeling your every move every second of the day. These next two weeks will go very fast, and your dad and I are clinging to every one of those seconds to make them memorable for us all.

We love you to the moon and back!

Thank you to everyone for the continued prayers and support. This will probably be our last update until the twins are born. We couldn't have made it this far without each and every one of your prayers.

This is a song that Nick and I have loved since we very first started dating. It would never fail that this song would be played at church when we went together. I don't think I can find a song more fitting than this for us over the next two weeks.

Much love,
Nick, Ashley and Kaylee