Monday, December 10, 2012

9 Mo Update

Hard to believe our little girl is 9-months old.  Seems like just yesterday we were taking that long awaited walk to the delivery room to bring our girls into this big ole world. Time certainly has flown by.  Memories have been made, and blessings (beyond our wildest imagination) have been bestowed upon us. 

 Today, Alexis, had her 9 month appointment.  She weighted in at 18.4lbs and is 26 1/4" long.  She's still a little under what they call "normal" on the growth chart for height, but so is her Mommy! (LOL).  She is at 50.1% on the weight chart - and overall the doctor was extremely pleased! And so are we! We could not ask for a better baby!  She is so good!

She's still a drool-bucket but no teeth.  Everyone tells us that the longer it takes the better it is -- means she'll have strong teeth!




Saturday, we took her to see Santa! That was so amazing! I've waited my whole life (it seems) to make these memories. The greatest part of the trip was that my parents were here to see us and was able to join in on the memory making as well.  I am so blessed that my parents are still here with us.  Losing my father-in-law has only made me appreciate them even more!

We also had her 9-month pictures taken a week ago.  Talk about fun! Of course, anyone that knows me, knows I've never been "camera-shy" and it's evident my daughter isn't going to be either! (smile)

As you can see, life here at "The Daughhetee's" is full of "life"! Although we still mourn the loss of a great man (my father-in-law) we have so much to be thankful for.  I've said it before and I'll say it again, some say you rarely get a second chance in life, I think that's "hog-wash"....every day I am blessed to wake I call it a second-chance! I hope you'll remember that and look at each day as a new beginning.  Don't take anything or anyone for granted because one day it could be too late to "try again."

"For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him." (John 3:17)

Blessings,
Ryan, Candye, Alexis & Bridgette (RIP)

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Summer to Fall Update




My goodness ... where does the time go? I cannot believe my last blog was June.  SO much has happened since then - I don't even know where to start.  Every day brings something new and exciting! In all the years I longed to be a Mother, I could have never imagined just how absolutely amazing this journey would be for me and my husband, our family and friends, and even those of you who have followed us from afar.  During these last few months we had her dedicated, celebrated a 1/2 birthday (thanks, Heidi! for the idea), visited the pumpkin patch, heard her make noises that we swear are words, and simply spent endless hours just watching her in shear amazement and awe.  Not only is she beautiful, but she is such a happy baby, and so full of life.

I'll start with the most important, in my opinion, her dedication, July 8, 2012. She was actually 4 months old exactly on this day.  This day was beyond unbelievably beautiful.  We had so many family and friends her to celebrate this joyous day with us. Ryan and I shopped and shopped for the perfect outfit and we thought we would never find it, let alone agree on what it really should be.  One minute we were thinking extremely formal and dressy, then we'd look around and decide to just go with a little Sunday church dress, we even contemplated a cameo outfit (lol).  Yes, we are true country-folks! (ha)  But when we seen this dress, we both teared up and knew it was the one.  As we left for the church that morning, I cried.  I had only dreamed of this day for years, and I honestly had gotten to a point where I really thought it simply was not in the cards for me to be a Mommy.  Oh was I so glad that was not the case.  As we got ready to take that walk to the front of the church, I told my husband, "the next time we will be walking down the church isle with our precious baby will be the day we give her away to be married."  Of course, yes, we both cried again! I am so thankful I am married to a real man that is not afraid to show his emotions.  And a Godly man that wants to do the right thing and raise our daughter in church together.  Nothing compares to a man that will pray with you. 
We were so blessed to have so many family and friends make a special trip, some from many, many miles away, to share in this experience with us and to be part of our journey. 
 
In August, she got to experience such a beautiful wedding and celebrate the day my baby sister & sweet niece married an amazing man, Todd! Not only was the weather perfect, but so was every other aspect of the day. I am so happy for my sister and niece and we gained a wonderful brother that day. 
 
In September, we celebrated her 1/2 birthday (6 months)! (Thanks, Heidi for the idea)!  What can I say...she was treated with the very best cake ever from her G'pa Rick & G'ma Vicki (and sissy Amy).  The memories made that night definitely started a tradition! She found a new love and it's called "sweets"!! She made us laugh so hard.  She was a little skeptical at first...but when she got that first taste of that yummy icing -- well, lets just say she "raked it in!"  We took Bridgette her cupcaket too... I'm pretty sure her cake in Heaven was simply amazing too!!
 
 October brought not only the beginning of my favorite season, Fall, but Walter's Pumpkin Patch, and even more memories.  We had so much fun! It's so amazing as we watch her experience things for the first time, it's as if it's the first time for us as well.  Seeing life through her eyes has certainly opened ours.  Funny how our priorities have changed.  I remember when we started the IVF process, it felt as if some (almost) tried to discourage us. One because they said we had been married so long (18 years), with just the two of us, that it would be hard to inject a baby into the mix, and how that it could cause problems. And two, because we both were so active with hunting and horses that we would have to stop all of that. It was just the opposite.  If anything, it has brought us even closer and we have simply chosen to make her our priority not the hobbies.  We do laugh about what used to be a priority has shifted.  Not because we cannot make her a part of our hobbies, but because now we find ourselves just wanting to bask in her presence; and even find it hard to leave long enough to go to work.  If we could find a way to support our family and never have to leave her we would in a heartbeat.  However, I have a feeling that in a few years she would probably ask us to "go to work."  (haha)
 
Needless to say her first few months of life, is just an example of many more "firsts" for all of us. I am so looking forward to not only the holidays, but every day, as it brings a new memory for our journey.  This is definitely more than I could have ever imagined and I have a great imagination.  I am forever grateful for this wonderful bundle of joy God has entrusted in our care.  Although my hear aches because Bridgette is not here to experience these things with us, I know God knew best and I know she's watching over us from above.  He knew what we could handle and I am slowly learning to simply trust in Him and not second-guess it anymore. 
I promise to try and update more frequently and not one big blog every few months! :-)
Remember, no matter what your storm, there is sunshine and rainbows that soon follow!  Don't give up hope and remember, keep your eyes on Jesus, and He will never let you down!
 
"I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him." (1 Samuel 1:27)
 
Blessings,
Ryan, Candye, Alexis (& Bridgette, RIP)

Sunday, October 28, 2012

GOD WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU

>
> If you never watch or read anything else I ever send you, I pray this video reaches all of my family, friends, and contacts I may never know. I needed this today more than ever and I'm certain someone else does too ! Thank you, Lord, for all of my unanswered prayers, delays, false starts and anything else I may not understand!!
>
> Link:
> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PAxuGpO8uWU&sns=em
>
God Bless,
Ryan, Candye, Alexis (& Bridgette, RIP)
>

Monday, June 25, 2012

Footprints on her heart....

I just love this picture. And to think... one day her feet will be as big as mine....it's already unbelievable how fast she's growing... even harder to imagine us sharing shoes one day. :)

I took this picture because it hit me this weekend; I really need to be careful which paths I take today knowing one day she may want to walk in my footprints.... that's a lot of pressure!

The question I asked myself this weekend is tied to what could become one of my biggest fears if I am not careful, "what will the impacts of my footprints today be on my daughter's heart and life in the future.... " Will she see the kind of person she will strive to grow up to be? I certainly hope so. I want to be a role-model for her. I want to be the one she can share all of her dreams, fears, tears, and laughter with, and so much more...

I have always tried to be a good example for my nieces/nephews; however, they do not live with me day in/day out, so I have never felt this kind of pressure, knowing that every day my daughter is going to be watching my every move, what I say, how I react, etc....... it certainly makes one stop and really think about the person they are.  That's exactly what I've done the last couple of days... reflected on the person I am today.  I can certainly admit I may not have always done the right things in my past, but thank God that's why they call it "the past".  All I can do is ask for forgiveness and strive not to make the same mistakes again.  I wish everyone was that way.  Unfortunately, I know we all know a few people who can't seem to let go of the past nor admit when they're wrong and it makes it so hard to move forward.  I'm sure, if you're honest, each one of you reading this have done or said something you wish you wouldn't have and that you could take it back.  I recall my Grandma Story once told me, "be careful what you say, because words spoken can never be taken back".  Boy, isn't that the truth.  Same way with your actions - once you do it you can't undo it. I've learned over the last decade that actions speak louder than words.  They can also hurt more than words.  Sometimes it's what's not said that speaks volumes.  Why is that so hard for some to understand?
 
Which is why not only do I have to be careful of my own footprints, but also whom I expose my daughter to.  I know I may not always be able to shelter her from the storms, but I can certainly make sure she has the right equipment to protect herself when I'm not around.  With everything I do for her now and with her, I remind myself that Her foundation today will be what she will stand on tomorrow
 
Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. (Proverbs 22:6)
 
I've always tried to live by the "Golden-Rule" (do unto others as you would have them do unto you); and although I'm human and have fallen short from time to time, I can honestly say I'm proud of who I am and what I stand for.  We are proudly teaching our daughter to put God first in her life.  We want that to be her foundation that she makes all of her decisions on and where she draws her strength from. 
 
Whereas there is a laundry list of things I want to teach her, two other things that are of the utmost importance for me is, 1) to not hold a grudge 2) forgive quickly.  I personally know wounds can leave you with lasting feelings of anger and bitterness; and in the end if you don't forgive and move on, ultimately you are the one that sacrifices the most.  I want to teach Alexis that forgiveness is a noble thing.  I certainly do not want her to be a door-mat, nor arrogant, but I want her to learn that forgiveness is for her own peace of mind and not others.  I once had a very special person tell me that "forgiveness doesn’t mean you deny the other person’s responsibility for hurting you, nor forget the act, and it doesn’t minimize or justify the wrong, but you can forgive the person without excusing the act. It simply means that you do not carry the burden and ultimately carry a grudge over it".  Those can become heavy fast.  I believe that's pretty sound advice to pass on.  I know it has allowed me to rise above those who have hurt me; and it's also made me sadly realize that sometimes you have to simply cut ties and let go of those "anchors" in order to not sink with them, because some people simply cannot let go and forgive.
 
It's funny.... I often start these blogs with one intention in mind but never knowing how they will end.  I just let me heart do the typing and today is evidence of that.... I guess in the end my hope is that they'll make sense & hopefully help you along the way too... (big smile).
 
Until next time.... please continue to pray for us....and we'll continue to keep you updated as we continue our amazing journey.
 
Blessings,
Candye~

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Family Update 06-21-2012

Daddy in waiting....
It's been quiet a journey to-date and it just keeps getting better! We laughed yesterday as I took pictures to document our recent journey.... mainly because we joked that Ryan's motto from here on out will more than likely be... "Waiting On A Woman"... considering that he now has a daughter too!  Poor guy.... :)) 
First, I have to share the picture of Ryan & Alexis from Father's Day.  Clearly this is another "first" that we got to experience in this new journey. I  certainly consider myself blessed beyond measure to have these two in my life!
Daddy & Alexis, 6-17-12
Now onto our update... and a Praise Report. 
Yesterday we were faced with what we're going to call "a slight bump" in our journey.  It started a few weeks back when a dear friend of mine brought it to our attention that Alexis had a semi-flat spot on the right side of her head.  When we went in for a checkup with our family doctor we pointed it out.

Our doctor wanted to confirm the sutures were not closing prematurely.  Something I did not know is an infant's skull is made up of six separate cranial bones (the frontal bone, the occipital bone, two parietal bones, and two temporal bones). These bones are held together by strong, fibrous, elastic tissues called cranial sutures. The sutures and fontanelles are needed for the infant's brain growth and development.  So you can see where the need to address this sooner rather than later was critical.  
Morning Feeding
CT Scan
As a precautionary measure she had to undergo a CT Scan yesterday. Of course, the first place we turned to was our God.  Then our family, friends, and church family began praying for her. On Sunday night (before her procedure) we had her prayed for at our church. I wish you could have seen all of the "little hands" (kids) that came up and prayed for her. It was such a beautiful and amazing moment. If you don't believe in the miracle of prayers, you should; especially when they are prayed with the unwavering faith of a child.

At first they told us they would (more than likely) sedate her to avoid too much exposure to the radiation. Turns out it was not needed and our baby girl simply ate a full bottle and slept through the whole thing.  I cannot lie, I was concerned.  Deep down I trusted & believed that God was in control, but I also admit that I was scared.  I hate to admit it, and I do not want to give the devil credit, but I was worried.  However, I am elated to report that we received results this morning and they are "normal".  Actually, the report stated there were NO ABNORMALITIES.  I joked with my sister this morning that on the bright side - it is now officially documented that Alexis is normal... despite how she turns out in the future, we can honestly say that she was normal at least at some point in her life (lol). 
Dress-up in Mommy's pearls
Precious!
Afterwards, we went home to change clothes so we could go run errands and make some long awaited visits to some really special people. We got a little side-tracked and started playing dress-up, which was SO much fun! But got back on-track quick so Daddy wasn't "waiting" on us yet again. :)

For a couple of months we had been meaning to go see Dr. Tjaden (IVF doctor) and his staff which helped make our dreams a reality.   
Alexis, Dr. Tjaden & Megan (RN)
We dropped off some stuff at the NICU department, stopped to see Dr. Wolfe, and then headed over to see Dr. Tjaden and team. They were so excited to meet her. This group of people will definitely remain in our lives forever!  I have been telling Alexis that she's going to grow up to be a doctor, just like Dr. Tjaden.  We have been patients of Dr. Tjaden's for over 15 years and it's simply hard not to develop relationships after that long.  We just love them all.

Remember a few blogs ago when we had to make that trip to Texas for a very sad, but special funeral; & Alexis decided to "burp" at the most inopportune time (just as they started playing Taps)?  Well, we now have yet another embarrassing moment in time... just as Dr. Tjaden was holding her, loving her & coo'ing over her... she decides to not burp....but yep, you guessed it... she looked up at him with those big, beautiful, blue eyes, smiled that infamous gorgeous smile, and then passed gas... not once but twice!! God bless her little digestive tract it's all working just fine.  I'm sure when she's all grown up - reading these, she'll so appreciate that I took it upon myself to share these "incidents" with everyone! One thing is for sure - there is never a dull moment with her! :))

Last, but certainly not least or any less important on the adventures yesterday, we stopped by to see our sweet Bridgette and take her a new wind-chime.  I admit I cried thinking how I so wish we could have been introducing her to the IVF team yesterday too, but I know it simply wasn't in the bigger plan.  
One thing I have learned throughout my years in this journey we all call "life," is that - you simply don't always get to choose the outcome to every situation.  But, if you are steadfast in your Faith, then I am convinced that every trial you overcome will become yet another testimony for you to share with someone else who may need encouraging.

Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. (James 1:12)
And, if we will just trust in Him, it is scriptural that He gives us the strength to face our challenges ...

He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God, who has called you into fellowship with His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful. (1 Corinthians 1:8-9)

As always, thank you so much for following our story and mostly for keeping us in your prayers.  Until next time... never under-estimate the power of prayer!

And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith (Matthew 21:22)
Blessings,
Candye~

Friday, June 8, 2012

3 Months Today....

 Seems there's so much that has happened since my last blog in just a little over a week ago.... I keep saying I am going to try and blog more... guess we'll see how that goes... :)

I have been in a state of "reflection" lately - just a true reflection of my life for the last 19+ years... some things I'm proud of and some things...oh not so much! But aren't we all that way?  I know you all are just like me, there are some things you have said or done that you wish you could take a huge eraser to; and other times you wish you would have had a Big Chief tablet and crayons to make the message a little more loud & clear for some! (lol)  Even through all of it, I think I'm most fond of my mistakes.  Not because they high-light my weaknesses or they show my ignorance, but because they have made me who I am today and pushed me to become the person I am...of which, I have to admit, I am quiet fond of!  I do love me! I know some of you are probably rolling your eyes, and that's okay, but I'll tell you like my mom used to tell me - "keep on and your face will stick that way"... (gosh I can't wait to use some of those lines on my daughter) haha! Seriously, I do love who I am today and am so thankful for all God has graced me with.  I have more than riches can buy.

I was going through pictures on my phone today and even seen some from pre-Alexis days; (which really made me laugh) and they only enhanced the "thinking train".  Pre-Alexis, we had several people warn us that having a baby would change our lives and the freedom we were so accustomed to would certainly end.  Whereas we appreciated the insight (from their perspective and always love the advise...and oh have we received a lot of advice...lol) but in our experience that's so far from the truth.  I will not disagree that she has definitely changed our lives (but for the better).  However, our "freedom" has not been changed it's simply been altered.  Now our adventures are accompanied with one extra little set of feet and an angel watching over us. I'd say that's an awesome change and gladly take it any day!  It's true, Alexis goes everywhere with us; and agreed, at this age it's a little hard for her to voice her opinion...but let's just say she doesn't seem to "throw a fit" and enjoys our life-style.  (I reserve the right to make a change to this in approximately 5 - 7 years)

In just three months, she has taken two trips to Texas; one at just over 4 weeks and the other at 6 weeks old.  She goes to all of the barrel races with me...and to top it off, we even took her to the river (over the Memorial Day weekend) when she was only 11 weeks old - (see picture with Maddison - her river buddy).  This is where we discovered her love for the outdoors; she was at such peace down there and not fussy at all! Yes, this is also where we were called "brave AND crazy".... (ha)

My point is, whoever tells you that a baby changes your life, know that that is true. There are changes such as: sleepless nights (not that we would know because our little darling sleeps 5 - 6 hours a night); you pack everything except the kitchen sink when you go anywhere (even just to the store).  But, from someone who has experience now, if you forget something, and trust me... You Will Forget, (oh, say the nipples to the bottles) you will be creative and that motherly instinct will kick in finding yourself utilizing whatever you have to in order to ensure your baby isn't hungry (like a medicine dropper).  (big smile) 

Looking back, it is so funny how I was so worried that I would not be a good Mom...or that I would not posses those "motherly instincts"; when in reality, if I do say so myself, I think I have done alright.  She is never hungry, wet or dirty for long, and she has more love (and clothes) than she can imagine & I haven't left her anywhere..... I'd say that's at least a pretty good start. (smile)

She is growing like a weed and just continues to amaze us.  She is SO full of personality.  At our last doctor's visit she weighed 10 lbs 2 ozs, 22 inches long... it's hard to imagine that she was once 4 lbs 3 ozs and only 17 inches long.  I cannot believe that today she is 3 months old (officially at 4:19 pm).  She is changing every day and it is amazing how her personality is really starting to show.  She's getting so animated and really cooo'ing a lot more now.  I can not wait until she starts talking (I also reserve the right to make a modification to this statement in approximately 2-3 years) (big smile)


As I mentioned earlier - I have been reflecting on a lot of things lately, for various reasons, but mostly in just awe & amazement at how far we've come from where we were just 11 short years ago, when we were given the devastating news that we would probably never be parents.  This was a surgery I had to have because we were losing (yet another) baby.  I can still remember coming out of that surgery like it was yesterday (actually was November 2001).  I also remember how I cried and how I thought there was truly no purpose for my life.  I honestly could not imagine what I had done that was so bad that I would not get to be a mom.  I thought God must have surely hated me.  Although I could not see it then, that we were being set up for an amazing journey later in life, I could see that there was a tough road ahead of me and I had some choices to make.  Did I always make the right choices?  No (and this is where the big eraser was really needed).  Sure, I questioned why we had to endure so many losses and even more recently had to endure the costs of IVF only to lose yet another one... but I feel like God gently reminds me that He DID give me what I asked for... and that was ONE (1) Child!!  So who am I to question God?  Yes, I'm human and I have a lot of questions, but in the end I truly only want to focus on the positive and what is in the here and now, because I know all too well how fast life can be taken from you, without a notice.  I don't want to spend my time questioning the past, instead I chose to enjoy the present that has been bestowed upon me.  You see, in my heart, I believe that our past (including our failures) only sets us up for success.  In my case, it's in being good parents to Alexis and raising her in a loving home.... I really don't know if I could have said that would have been the case 10 years ago....only God knows, but the good thing is: I'm finally okay with leaving it in His hands & letting go. 

Today we are celebrating the 3 month birthday and beautiful life of our baby girl, Alexis.  I was just telling my husband last night, how unreal it feels (yet ironic) that we are celebrating Alexis turning 3 months old; when historically we never made it past three months in the womb with a child. So to say that this is a monumental marker in history for us is an understatement; and it means probably more to us that anyone could possibly imagine until (or unless) you have walked in our shoes.

Throughout our journey over the last 18 months, I have also gained a lot of wonderful new friends, who have been such an inspiration to me.  One of them posted the following scripture on my facebook wall just yesterday.  Not only was it touching, but it was so fitting with the reflection I had been going through.  It feels as if it made my reflection-time complete.  "Who can be compared with the Lord our God, who is enthroned on high? He stoops to look down on heaven and on earth. He lifts the poor from the dust and the needy from the garbage dump. He sets them among princes, even the princes of his own people! He gives the childless woman a family, making her a happy mother. Praise the Lord! (Psalm 113:5-9)

(Thank you, Javonni... you'll never know how touching this scripture was for me...)
Guess overall, I said all of that to say this, never give up hope and never forget that we serve a mighty God who can make the unthinkable & impossible - Possible! There are two nail scared hands/feet and a pierced side that have made my today possible, and given me this life, so that I could have the opportunity to be a Mother to my girls (and all the babies that have gone on before us).  So forever I will cherish the fact that God did find favor on this childless woman, despite my many flaws, and seen fit to give me a perfect daughter and loving husband so that I could have my family. 
 
It's true...all good things come to those who wait! 
 
Happy 3 Month Birthday, Alexis!  Mommy loves you VERY much!!
 
Blessings,
Candye~
 
P.S. Sorry this blog was so looonnnnggg... oh well, it just makes writing my book easier.... LOL!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Good Night Video.... (5/31/12)

She is amazing!!





After we said our prayers she zonked for the night... she was 12 weeks old yesterday - unbelievable how fast she is growing!!



Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Grief & Guilt

Grief & Guilt...why are they always tied together like peanut butter and jelly?  It seems like you always hear people expressing so much guilt over losing loved ones and yet the reality is - we could not change the past even if we wanted to.  The truth is, it's hard to remember that when you're in the midst of your "trial &/or loss" and I am no exception. Of course, I think mine is just a little different, in that my guilt is in wondering if it would have been different if we would have only implanted one embryo verses two? Would we have been in the same situation burying a child, or would we just have our little Alexis and living life as it is now?  The other side of my guilt is, I'm trying really hard not to have so much guilt over not going to Bridgette's grave in the last two months.  It just seems that I have really struggled with making that trip.  I think about her and going every day (and I wanted to go) but then I simply found other things to do.  Guess this means, I have to remind myself that I too cannot change anything... it is what it is and in order to get past this hard time in our lives I just continue to remind myself that it could have been so much worse.  I am forever grateful for our little Alexis, but at the same time I am so protective that I have to remember she is a gift from God, and trust that He will keep her safe from harm. 

I finally made that trip and went today to visit the graves (we have more than one buried in this cemetery).  I was literally nauseated because there were weeds growing through the flowers on Bridgette's grave.  As I sat and wept, trying to pull weeds in my dress clothes, I felt such a gentle breeze surge through my body.  It was as if she was right there with me.  I paused and found myself soaking in the breeze.  I know that may sounds silly to most, but I think it was a gentle reminder that she's always so close to me, and forever in my heart, even though she's not in my arms. I want to think it was her way of acknowledging that I was there.  Reality is, we live in a windy state and honestly I know some that read this will think I'm crazy and say it was just the wind; and maybe that's correct, but for me I'll simply continue to think it was her & the good Lord sending me a breeze of peace. (smile)

As I sat there this morning, I was reminded of a Bible verse, "Blessed are they that mourn; for they shall be comforted" (Matthew 5:4).  I feel this verse is a reminder that God is with me, comforting me and that it is okay for me to still mourn.  I do not know what, or if, there is an acceptable time period for grief.  I would beg to question whether or not you could put a time frame on how long you are to mourn the loss of a child, or any loved one?  I do know (from experience) that it gets easier as the days go by.  I believe everyone is different; but I most definitely believe that everyone must grieve their losses or they will end up bitter and angry. I know that for a fact because I was that way several years ago after about the 7th loss we experienced.  Honestly, none of them were easy, but, [by far] this was the hardest one for me. This will also cause so many problems between you and your spouse if you're not careful... I know it did for me and my husband years ago and sometimes, even to this day, we are so different in the way that we grieve, that if we let it, it could cause hardship between us.  Of course, the devil sees this as a weak link in our life and tries to use it against us; but we have to make the decision to not allow him to penetrate our marriage and stay strong in our faith and press-on.... trust me when I say - some days are harder than others... and I'm sure it's not easy living with me....(big smile)

Although you cannot change the past, no matter how bad you want to, or wish you could; you can change your today and every day thereafter.  It starts with a conscious choice and decision and I am trying to make the very best of every day.  I know I'm making mistakes because I'm human; but I am so thankful for the chance to make a mistake as a Mom and not just "wishing" for a baby like years before....

A couple of scriptures that have helped me during this time are: "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”  (Rev 21:4)

[and]

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. (Psalm 147:3)

Regardless of what you're going through I just hope that you will find the strength to turn to God and let Him help you through it - I know He is the only thing that is seeing me through this difficult time.

Blessings,
Candye~


Thursday, May 24, 2012

My First Mother's Day (A little late)




MOM is a word I've longed to be called for almost 15 years and finally this Mother's Day it happened.  I was officially recognized as a Mom at church Sunday.  It was the most amazing feeling in the world. 

My hubby went on a hunting trip for a couple of days and returned on Saturday to leave me and my sweet girl, Alexis to spend some quality time together.  As you can imagine, I spent most of my days mesmerized by her existence and mere beauty.  I spend a lot of time just watching her sleep or watching those big blue eyes bouncing back and forth looking around.

I have some big shoes to fill when it comes to being a Mother.  I hope I'm 1/2 the Mother my Mom has been to me... she's never changing and her love is never ending, no matter what I did wrong! I want to teach Alexis all the things my Mom taught me and am still learning from her... that is one thing I can honestly say -  being a mom is never-ending but it's so worth it!! Where I once was empty I am now full and where I once had a hole it is now closed.  I carry a different absence from the loss of Bridgette and I'll always love and miss her but I am forever grateful for Alexis. 

Today I returned to work for 1/2 days.  WOW that was hard to walk out the door knowing I was not taking my baby girl with me - but luckily we have an amazing nanny (Ashley) who made the day SO MUCH easier.  I honestly don't think Alexis missed me - she went from my arms to snuggling right up in Ashley's arms... it was evident that Ashley is the right pick to watch and nurture our baby girl! Just one more thing I am so thankful to the good Lord for!!

(May 24, 2012)
WOW, I just realized that I never finished this post... which is so surprising since it was such an amazing day I've waited forever for!! Soooo... I'll simply finish it now & just add a little extra... (big smile)


Ryan and I were just talking Tuesday about how different our lives are now from just a year ago.  Although we have been through a lot of hurt, we cannot explain how wonderful it is to have so much joy at the same time.  All of the hurt does not compare to all of the joy we are receiving, and the fullness we have by God's great gift of being Alexis' parents.  Don't get me wrong, it doesn't take away the pain, but it certainly makes every day bearable when our little girl looks up at me with those big beautiful blue eyes and smiles.  I'll admit, these last couple of weeks have been hard for me and I've shed a quiet-a-few tears thinking/missing our Bridgette; but I also know without a shadow of a doubt she's in God's arms and watching over all of us. 

We feel like our story is meant to touch someone - and even if we never find out how, who, or even why, we will continue to trust God's plan and share until he directs me in a differently.  I trust that He has convicted my heart to continue to write and expose the vulnerable side of our lives with so many strangers for a reason.  So, who am I to question Him when He has been faithful to me and given me exactly what I asked for... "one child".   

"We prayed for this child and the Lord has granted us what we asked of Him" (1 Samuel 1:27)


There is a song that has really hit home of late..... Tears are a language God understands....
God sees the tears of a brokenhearted soul
He sees your tears and hears them when they fall
God weeps along with man and He takes him by the hand
Tears are a language God understands.

When grief has left you low it causes tears to flow
When things have not turned out the way that you had planned
But God won't forget you His promises are true
And tears are a language God understands.


Although I have days when I cry I also know that it will get better with time.  I share that because I want you to know that whatever your pain, whatever your burden, just know that there is a God who holds the bigger picture and knows just how much you can and cannot handle; and He will NEVER give you more than He can see you through!! You just have to trust in Him.



Cast your burden on the Lord, and he shall sustain you: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved (Psalm 55:22)

Blessings,
Candye~

Forgiveness


I woke up thinking this morning about how it's sad that we live in such a selfish world when we serve such a unselfish God... if only we could strive to be more like him think of how better our days would be... no more strife between families, friends and in the world period... I may not "forget" what someone has done to me but I definitely will "forgive" them. Life is too short to carry around anything except the positives - plus, now I have to be a good example for a very special little girl; and that changes everything!


I don't forgive because I'm weak - but I forgive because I'm strong enough to know that everyone makes mistakes.
Today's Verse: If you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even "sinners" do that. (Luke 6:33)

Blessings,
Ryan, Candye & Alexis (& Bridgette, RIP 1/4/2012)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Alexis' 2 Mo Appointment

Dear Family & Friends,


I promise you, there is not a day that goes by that I am not in amazement at Ms. Alexis.  She has amazed me since the day she was born.  But, she amazed everyone, including doctors, from the day she was born.  She has always been so tentative and animated with her smiles and facial expressions.  As you can see, she was making a face that was priceless - especially to consider that I was talking to her about her upcoming appointment where she would be getting shots.  I swear she understands me.  I know she probably doesn't but she certainly has me fooled already... (LOL).
Today we had to go in for her 2 month appointment & we scheduled her 4 month appointment before we left.  Just in awe at how fast time flies.

She weighed in at 8lbs 8ozs and is 20 1/2" long.  She is officially on the growth chart for weight but not quiet there for the height yet.  Of course, we're not too worried about it, because in our eyes she is absolutely perfect and shows continued growth.

“From the fullness of grace we have received one blessing after another” - John 1:16


As you can see, Her and Daddy were having a fine time while we were waiting on the doctor to come in... (see picture on the left)

After the appointment, she was pouting, not very happy about the three (3) shots she got.. I admit it, I do believe I cried harder than she did!  Daddy was our hero (as always)... he came in to rescue both of us and wipe our tears... so grateful for a strong man in our life. 
 

And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4)


As you can tell, she is by far not lacking any love and attention.  She is truly the apple of our eye and has become my "snuggle bug".  She and I have spent the last few weeks bonding and I am sad that I have to return to work - but it's for the best for all of us.. especially her; otherwise she will grow up poor... (haha).

I'm sure you haven't noticed or anything.... but I try to take a lot of pictures.  I'm trying to capture as much as I can; and documenting these days for her (and for us).  I spend a lot of time just staring at her (and yes, I still cry when I look at her); and I cannot believe she is really here.  I have waited forever for this little angel and she has no clue how she has made our life complete.  From just a thought/dream to now a reality - our dreams have come true & she is proof that miracles do happen & prayers are answered - all you need is a little faith and lots of determination and perseverance. 

I'm sure you can only imagine that this Mother's Day is going to be so special for me.  I will actually be acknowledged as a Mother - where all the years before, even though in my heart I knew I was a Mother - it wasn't acknowledged because we had no living children.  This year I can proudly say I am a Mother.  Even if I never receive a gift it will not matter because I was given the greatest gift ever when these girls were born on March 8th, 2012; and for that I am full and satisfied.  Thank you, Lord, for hearing my cries and answering my prayers... thank you for these gifts you have bestowed upon me. 

Until next time, please continue to keep us in your prayers. 

“We prayed for this child and the Lord has granted us what we asked of Him.” – I Samuel 1:27


Blessings,
Ryan, Candye, Alexis (& Bridgette, RIP 1/4/12)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Unplanned Blessings


I just logged into my blogger and it apparently has undergone a make-over; one that will take a little time to adjust to - but it's like facebook - I cannot see complaining since it's a free service I utilize. :)

I cannot believe it is May already.  It seems like just yesterday we were celebrating the new year???  I also cannot believe my baby girl is almost 2 months old.  Time is really flying by. 

Well, Alexis & I took our first trip alone... yep, all alone.  We traveled over 400 miles just the two of us and I will admit I was as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs (lol).. however, I don't believe she was the least bit nervous (ha).  She really did very well, considering.  We did stop a lot more frequently than I expected, but I think a lot of that was just for peace of mind for me. It was worth it though to see the look on my families face.. they were definitely surprised. 

Although this was an unplanned (surprise) trip - God knew I would be there and he planted us there for a reason.  We went to visit with my sister's fiance's father (who is in a nursing home).  It was an awesome visit but we had a little surprise ourselves.  While there a lady (resident of the home) came in to say hello.  She is a very young lady (early 40's with down-syndrome).  She seen the baby and just lit up with the most beautiful smile I have ever seen on anyone.  She asked if someone would take a picture of her and the baby.  Of course we said yes. (Picture on left) 

She sat on the bed beside me and that is when it all unfolded....
She held the baby and there was a glow about them both... she was so happy and Alexis was so content! Then I faintly heard her saying something to Alexis - being the nosey person I am - I leaned over to listen.  That's when tears began to flow down my cheeks.  She was praying over Alexis but it wasn't just any prayer - her exact words were "Lord Jesus you know the Mommy waited on this baby for a very long time and so you have to keep her safe and protect her all the days of her life"... tell me God doesn't work in mysterious ways.  He used a complete stranger to send me comfort.  You see, I had never met this person before - she did not know me or my story. I am still in awe.  As most know, my biggest fear had/has been that we would lose Alexis too (since we've lost Bridgette); so yes, I am very protective (as would any parents who have experienced the losses we have).  But this prayer was a comfort to my soul and a conformation that it's all in His plan and hands. The ironic thing is, she probably has no clue that God used her and was such a blessing to me. 

My message to you is to simply remember that everything is in His plan and everything happens according to that plan, not ours.  I know we do not always understand why things happen, and a lot of times we blame it on "misfortune" or "bad luck," but I firmly believe that during our most difficult times is when God is trying to reach us and out of every test comes a Testimony!! Something great is about to happen!!

“From the fullness of grace we have received one blessing after another” - John 1:16


Blessings,
Ryan, Candye & Alexis (& Bridgette, RIP 1/4/12)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

6 Weeks.....



Dear Family & Friends,


I think I've used this phrase more in the last 15 months than I ever have in my life.... but it's true! "It's hard to imagine".... but our baby girl is 6-weeks old today. It seems like just yesterday we were bringing her home from NICU. Technically, she should only be 4 days old, considering their due date originally was April 15th. She is growing by leaps and bounds and there is not a day that goes by that she does not amaze me; nor is there a day that I do not think of her sister [Bridgette].


It's so funny how my priorities have changed since having her. I used to be consumed with work and horses and now all I want to do is sit and watch her breath and cooo and smile and grow... she does things that just make me laugh and then I cry (with joy) in disbelief that I am finally a mother and that God has blessed us with such an amazing little girl. She is more than I could have ever dreamed or imagined.


It's true... Faith is believing even when the eyes cannot see and the ears cannot hear. I also am so glad that God is faithful even when we aren't... He promised me a baby and He delivered even when I turned away and went astray from living for Him - He never deserted me. I will forever be indebted to our Lord for Alexis & Bridgette. They have made me complete... I no longer have an emptiness or a hole - I can honestly say that I have been blessed beyond measure and I am complete!! So when you think you cannot go on and that He has forgotten about your prayers - re-read my blogs and know that it's all in His time (not ours) and even though that is the hardest thing to comprehend and imagine (trust me, I know) it is so worth the wait!


And He said, My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest (Exodus 33:14)


(outfit courtesy of Flip Flops & Lip Gloss, Debi Hutchinson)


Blessings,

Ryan, Candye, Alexis (& Bridgette, RIP 1/4/12)

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Never Give Up.....


Dear Family & Friends,


Who knew life could be so wonderful!! All these years I just thought my life was grand; little did I know the best was yet to come.....


Alexis brings us more joy and fulfillment than I could ever fathom or even try to describe using the English language. It just is not possible. She is such a blessing and amazing!


Since my last blog, we have had many "firsts"..... first church service, wedding, funeral, birthday party, road trip & evading a flurry of tornado's... she's been quiet the busy little girl. But the best of all... the first most embarrassing moment. Yes, that's right..... I said embarrassing. We were at a funeral and she belched so loud it would have startled any bugler! I wanted to hide. Instead, I simply ran off & prayed I wouldn't trip....to make matters worse, she didn't do it just once, but twice. :(


That leads me to the purpose for today's blog. "Never Give Up"


I almost gave up hope that I would ever be a Mom. I honestly thought it was time to hang up the dream, face (what I thought was my reality), and channel my energy elsewhere. Although you could not believe this now, but God bless my husband, he simply was not a man that was driven or hung up on having children to complete our lives & marriage. Simply put, he was very content and I was not. I had pretty much given up trying to convince him to spend our money on the expensive procedure of IVF (In vitro Fertilization).....but I had not given up on praying. Then out of the clear blues I came home from work one day and he advised me that he had called and scheduled an appointment with our fertility specialist. I was honestly in shock. Just goes to prove that he really does listen to me... (albeit the hearing is selective....lol). This process started almost 15 months ago and you know the rest of the story.... so never give up because anything is possible. Regardless of the obstacles in your path - if it's meant to be it will be. All you need is a lot of faith, courage and perseverance and you can accomplish anything you set your mind to! Life is short... don't have regrets.... even cherish the embarrassing moments... they're priceless and make your story complete.


Some days I am still in awe and feel like I'm living a dream; then it hits me that this really is my life and it's wonderful beyond imagination. The other day Alexis & I ventured out to the grocery store and by the time I was on the paper towel isle tears flowed down my cheeks as I gazed at her. I had several people (including grown men) stopping me to catch a glimpse of her and comment on how little but beautiful she is. I know that may sound silly - but when you've gone through what we have it simply makes you appreciate every second... even the little compliments or the embarrassing moments.


Here's a little treat.... a picture from a month ago when we were in NICU still & the other one from yesterday. This little bear given to her by her cousin (AKA: Sissy, CJ) helps gage her growth.



"Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer" (Romans 12:12)

Blessings,

Ryan, Candye, Alexis (& Bridgette RIP 1/4/12)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Family Update - April 3, 2012


Dear Family & Friends,

It's hard to believe that our little girl is 26 days old. We had our weekly weigh in appointment today and she has gained and is now at 5lbs 11ozs (up from 5lbs 4ozs from 5 days ago). We are steadily increasing our gain and that is really important right now.

It's so hard to believe we have gone from the picture on the left to the picture below.... talk about a miracle from our God!! And, trust me, we take nothing for granted any more. This journey has taught my husband & I many things but mostly it has taught us the true value of life and what it means to live and trust in God completely. For that alone I am grateful. I find myself simply not asking for anything but merely thanking him for our many blessings.



I pray that if you get nothing else from our blog and journey updates, I hope that you will simply learn to trust in the Lord with all your heart; and know that He knows our today and tomorrow and it is already planned out. We need to learn to live in the moment and cherish life as it is and make the absolute best of it without passing judgement or blame. Life is short and there is no guarantee of tomorrow (or the next minute for that matter); so live for the day and love those who matter the most in your life! Have no regrets!

Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! (Isaiah 30:18)

As always, we will continue to keep you updated and all we ask is that you please continue to keep us in your prayers.

Blessings,
Ryan, Candye, Alexis (& Bridgette RIP 1/4/12)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Family Update - March 29, 2012




Dear Family & Friends,

Today proved to be yet another amazing day! Actually, this has been quiet an amazing week. We have had so many "firsts" and often I have to just sit and cry as I think about how blessed we are and that this is reality not just a dream anymore.

As reported earlier in the week, Alexis was released to come home from NICU Sunday (3/25) and yesterday (3/28) she had her first set of professional photo's taken, then today (3/29) she had her first doctor's appointment today with our family doctor. He was in awe and so excited to meet her for the first time. She received a great check up and has grown tremendously. She now weighs 5lbs 4ozs and has grown a 3/4' in length (now 18 1/4"). She is still in the lower 5th percentile on the growth charts but with gains like this she will not be there long.

These photo's are from her session yesterday. I know I'm a proud Mommy, but I have to say, she made a beautiful model and was so easy to work with. She has the best personality already!

These photo's were taken by Amy Shepherd Photography - if you need pictures taken I highly recommend her. She is amazing to work with and is awesome with babies!! She was kind and gentle with our little angel and has a tremendous amount of patience. I am excited to see what the rest of the pictures look like.


I would love to report that every day gets easier since we buried our precious Bridgette, but that would be a lie. I have faith that it will get easier, but right now I am still dealing with such raw emotions as this is only day 12 since we laid her to rest and it simply seems like it was just yesterday. I just keep reminding myself "....the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh, Blessed be the name of the Lord" (Job 1:21). But I am also reminded that the Lord blessed Job beyond measure because he stayed faithful to Him - "As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job's perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy." (James 5:11) I believe that everything happens for a reason and I strongly believe that because we have stayed faithful (even through the trials & losses) that is why God has blessed us with such a bundle of joy - Alexis Elaine. When we met with the doctor today (for Alexis' follow-up appointment) there was an intern present with him, it was touching to see our doctor give the student an overview of our history. You could hear the passion as he told our story....it left me in awe to just listen. I think because I am the one that is always "telling" the story so to hear it replayed back was touching.
I firmly believe that our little Alexis is going to touch many people's lives. I've said it before... but I really think it's time to start writing that book... now if only I could get that financial break-through so I could be a stay-at-home mom and writer it would certainly make it easier....(big smiles)!

As always, we will continue to keep you updated and all we ask is that you simply keep us in your prayers.

"With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26

Blessings,
Ryan, Candye, Alexis (& Bridgette 1/4/12)

Monday, March 26, 2012

New Chapter - Family Update 26March2012






Dear Family & Friends.....




And so the story continues.....


There's so much to document since our last blog. Ironically, today was originally the day we were scheduled to have the c-section; instead this is the first full day we have spent with our little girl in our home. Just amazing and still in awe - it's hard to believe even though we can see her. We were released from NICU Sunday (3/25/12), which marked a full day of "firsts" for our family. Our little girl took her first elevator ride yesterday, she took her first car ride in Daddy's truck, and we brought our little Princess home to start our new family and life together.


As you can tell, she had no problems sleeping her first night at home. She is sleeping in the same bassinet that her Daddy slept in as a baby - which I think is so neat. (Thanks Grammy for keeping it for all of these years). We feel so blessed because she is such a happy baby and only fusses or cries when she has the typical baby issues (a dirty/wet diaper or is hungry); otherwise she is so good and smiles or sleeps the rest of the time.


Due to the fact that she was born so early (34 weeks, 4 days) the doctor has advised us that it is in her best interest to not have visitors for a while. They recommend at least waiting until she would have been 39 weeks gestation; which is in two weeks. We are going to adhere to that timeline as we feel it is in the best interest of our little girl. When we look at her it is so hard to believe that she is technically supposed to still be in my belly (well, actually was supposed to be delivered today) because she looks so full-term. (I say that not because I know what full-term is supposed to look like, but because that's what the doctor's all said). Still, she is perfect in our eyes.


I had a post-delivery appointment today and as I waited in the room to see my OB/GYN I reflected on the last time I was there. It was such a scary day - one that will forever be embedded in my memory. It was funny how I could overhear our doctor telling the lady in the next room that she would go to weekly appointments starting next week. It just brought back a flood of emotions knowing that it seemed like just yesterday she was telling me the same thing. I often wonder why we had to deliver so early and go through all we've been through; but just as the thoughts entered my mind - they escaped just as fast as I was comforted by the facts that the early delivery brought us many new friends from the hospital and relationships we will forever cherish, and blessings beyond measure; even with the burial of our precious Bridgette.


In a nutshell, I can tell you - this is just the beginning and the best is yet to come....


You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. (John 15:16)


As always, we'll continue to keep you updated, and all we ask is that you please continue to keep us in your prayers.


Blessings,

Ryan, Candye, Alexis (& Bridgette, RIP 1/4/12)