Topping Twins

Topping Twins

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.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

A sign from Heaven lets us know our loved ones are near

"Perhaps they are not stars, but rather openings in Heaven where the love of our lost ones pours through and shines down upon us to let us know they are happy."
- Eskimo Proverb

It's crazy to think that it has been 7 months since the twins were born. 7 months. WOW. I feel like I blinked. Exactly 1 year ago this weekend is when we discovered that Peyton had little to no fluid. A lot of "milestones" lately.

Some of you know that I am training for a half marathon. My first, ever, half marathon. Let me clarify-- I am NOT a runner. I honestly, never have been. My twin brother, Adam, got those genes. However, when a friend of mine asked me if I'd be interested in running one in May, I thought, well-- it's now or never. It's always been one of those things on my bucket list that I'd like to do someday, but have just never actually committed to. Sure-- it sounds great in theory. I'm turning 30 in August, might as well do it before I really get old, right?!

Anyways, when I began training, I honestly didn't realize just how therapeutic running would be for me. I literally refer to it as my therapy. (A new pair of shoes and workout gear are a heck of a lot cheaper:)) But yesterday, was unique. Every time I go for a run, I get a little anxious inside, a little nervous and excited. Yesterday, I set out for my "long run" - 9 miles. When I started out-- the weather was simply beautiful--- 70 degrees, sunny and a light breeze. Sounds perfect. About 2 miles in, I totally got into my own head. You can't do this. You're going to have to call Nick to come pick you up. Ugh, my ankle. Ugh-- I think I have a headache. I was seriously talking myself out of what I had set out to do.

I hit my 4 mile mark and there it was. "Come on, you got this." Written with fresh chalk on the sidewalk. Man, okay--- I got this. Wait, no I don't. About 100 more feet down--- "chin up buttercup". 100 more feet, "I am SO proud of you."

To say I had goosebumps from head to toe is an understatement. It's like the messages were being written moments before I was passing each spot. These messages continued all the way to mile #8. Just to where I needed to make it home. It's like Peyton was talking to me. He was encouraging me to keep moving, to complete my goal. Afterall, he is one of the reasons I decided to do this.

During my runs, I take time talking to God and talking to Peyton. Imagining and dreaming of what life would be like if both of my boys, my twins, were here together. This is the time that I allow myself to truly "grieve", or rather, embrace the life that I am living.

It is my medicine. It is my therapy. It is my life. I am living the life that I love.

Although my heart hurts beyond words. I miss Peyton. I am sometimes brought to tears and other times brought to pure anger that Preston does not get to live the "twin" life that I do. But yet--- honestly, that sadness does not consume me. Instead, the happiness of both of my children, and husband does.

As we reach new milestones--- Preston crawling, moving from laying down to sitting up on his own, successfully taking a bottle (that's another story) -- these all bring smiles to my face. Kaylee sitting in church, crossing her legs, so excited that if she is "good", she gets to give Father a high five at the end. All of these moments are moments that I do not take for granted. Not for a second.

I encourage everyone to live the life you love. Stop and smell the roses, literally. Take time to notice when our lost loved ones are talking to you. Because when they do, it makes everything we're doing here on Earth, worth it.

"Smile... Heaven is watching."
- African Proverb

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Team player

Life is truly funny, you know? You go through most of your life feeling/thinking you're invincible. I don't know if it's the technology that exposes us to what REALLY is going on in our world, or if it's just our age. But, I can say, life is really tough sometimes.

I remember when we found out about Peyton's diagnosis. After a few months, Nick and I had accepted the path that God had chose for us. Don't get me wrong, we were truly hoping that the doctors were wrong and that this was all some sort of bad dream. But then, of course, reality hit, and the doctors were right. We were forced to truly accept our new path. I feel that we've done this with grace and level heads. And- we attribute this to our family and friends' support. Honestly--- it's not that we ever felt like we were being punished with the hand we were dealt, but I kind of felt like we were taking one for the team. Right or wrong, I can remember telling God, okay-- you took my baby, now just protect all my family and friends. I seriously believed that that meant there were no "it comes in 3's" or anything like that. One and done. My baby, that's it. Unfortunately, that hasn't been the case.

It's crazy the negotiating that we do with God when it comes to death. Isn't it bad enough that my child suffered and died? Does God really have to take any more children? UGH. My heart is of course broken and I know that this is all part of the process. But seriously?? Since September, we have lost a sister, had friends lose their babies to miscarriages, friends with children diagnosed with cancer, family losing their children, family in the hospitals... can we catch a break? Seriously.

And to be honest-- the saying "God only gives you what you can handle"...

What have Nick and I learned from all of this? When life throws you curve balls, you learn how to catch them, throw them back, and stand taller and stronger than you were the day before.

Often times, we find ourselves searching for our purpose in life. Through our life experiences; whether that's through friendships, career paths, losses--- these all help guide us to the direction that we're supposed to go. I know that Peyton would want us to make sure that we stayed true to the course and helped others that are struggling with loss in any way we can. Even if it just means telling others we are here.

So, I feel that it is fitting on this Ash Wednesday, to challenge each of you to set a goal for this Lenten season. Are you going to pray with your spouse, together, on a daily basis? I know I am. Are you going to enjoy the sun rising and setting everyday, allowing yourself to slow down and enjoy the life you're living? I know I am. Are you going to work to not take life for granted and live in the moment rather than focusing on the past or the future? I know I am.

When there are so many bad things happening in the world, even in our own back yard, it is SO easy to get caught up in that, as opposed to focusing on how we can make a positive impact on those around us, but more importantly on ourselves. It's so simple to get stuck in a rut and think that the world is crashing all around you. My daily devotion is to avoid the negative and focus on the positive. I pray that any of you that are facing your own trials can find peace and comfort.

With love,