Tuesday, October 30, 2007

What Makes a Mother?

I read this poem online and it gave me a great sense of peace... God is the Ultimate Father and He is with our children, whether they are here with us, or in Heaven with Him.

Thought of you and closed my eyes
And prayed to God today.
I asked what makes a Mother,
And I know I heard him say...

"A Mother has a baby."
This we know is true.
"But God, can you be a Mother
When your baby's not with you?"

"Yes, you can," He replied,
With confidence in His voice.
"I give many women babies
When they leave is not their choice.

Some I send for a lifetime,
And others for just a day.
And some I send to feel your womb
But there's no need to stay."

"I just don't understand this, God
I want my baby here!"
He took a breath and cleared His throat
And then I saw a tear.

"I wish I could show you
What your child is doing today.
If you could see your baby smile
With other children and say,

'We go to earth to learn our lessons
Of love and life and fear.
My Mommy loved me oh so much
I got to come straight here.

I feel so lucky to have a Mom
Who had so much love for me.
I learned my lesson very quickly;
My mommy set me free.

I miss my Mommy oh so much
But I visit her each day.
When she goes to sleep at night
On her pillow's where I lay.

I stroke her hair and kiss her cheek
And whisper in her ear.
Mommy don't be sad today
I'm your baby and I am here.'

So you see my dear sweet one
Your child is okay.
Your baby is here in My arms
And this is where he'll stay.

He'll wait for you with Me now
Until your time is through.
And on the day that you come home
He'll be at the gates for you.

So now you see what makes a Mother,
It's the feeling in your heart.
It's the love you had so much of
Right from the very start."

Saturday, October 27, 2007

A Joyful Time

These last few weeks have been busy as we all traveled up to Nebraska on the 20th to watch the Huskers... unfortunately, we got to see them get killed by Texas A&M, another team that even Aggie fans would agree is not under the greatest leadership these days. We went to the pumpkin patch for several hours with my parents, sisters and their families to actually pick the pumpkins off the vine, and not just pick one up from a pile on the ground(like here in Houston). We were able to go shopping, go out to lunch, just enjoy our time... Bottom line, we were able to spend time with family and enjoy being away from home for a little bit since there aren't any travels in my near future. It's strange as I actually think about not being able to travel for Christmas... until I really stop to consider it all, it's almost like I can "forget" about everything else that is going on.

It's not that I want to forget... but maybe sometimes I do. Maybe sometimes I just want this to be a normal pregnancy. To be expecting a "normal" baby. I mean, so many people don't find out about a diagnosis like Trisomy 18 until after they give birth, and here we are a little bit more than 1/2 way along and instead of looking forward specifically to the due date, I feel like I'm trying to pull on each day to give me a little more time with this child that I'm so scared to lose. Now don't get me wrong, it's not that I wish for a second that we didn't actually know... It's just that sometimes I wonder what it would be like if I didn't... I wonder how different I would act and if in some way I'm now holding back loving Maddox because I don't want to get "too close". And what exactly does "too close" mean? Especially when you are referring to a child that you are carrying inside of you, that you have loved infinitely from the day the pregnancy test showed positive... to a child that you have named and already promised to the Lord? I'm feeling so mixed right now.

Mixed? Mixed it is. I can say that I am so overjoyed that tomorrow is Deacon's 2nd birthday. I can say that I can't believe my sweet little boy who talks up a storm, who loves any type of truck or train, and loves to say "no" just to get a reaction has actually been with us for 2 whole years. It's like my mom said... in some ways it seems like so long ago, and yet it seems like just yesterday when I held him in my arms for the very first time. What a precious, amazing gift... a child. I agree with our pastor, Dr. Young, when he says that there is no higher calling than to be a parent, to be a mom. And so I guess that is why I'm "mixed"... this overwhelming love and the calling I feel to be a mom... I love Deacon and cherish him so much, so why then don't I get to keep my Maddox too?

I know that our Father has spoken to us already through this time of grieving and somehow I feel like all I keep hearing is that Maddox will have already accomplished so much in his short life. So then here is the ultimate question~ is that something I keep telling myself because I want so desperately for it to be true, to know that his life has been validated and has meaning, OR is that really the Lord telling me that it is all in His hands and He did indeed create him exactly as the child he is? I don't feel like I have a choice- for my sanity I HAVE to believe that type of reassurance, those kinds of answers, that kind of peace is only from our Father... Which then means, all of this is worth it! The doubts, the questions, the uncertainty... the life of my second son, and the life Jesus Christ gave for him.

What does that mean for me then? Through all of this, it is a conscious decision to be "joyful always"- to know that even when I'm crying and when I'm asking why my baby, even when I wonder if I really would consider a second amnio "just to be sure they didn't get it wrong", and even when I worry about Deacon and his safety- I KNOW that I must make that choice to be joyful. I KNOW that I need to be constantly seeking the Lord's face. So that is my prayer... to be seeking after Him. To be joyful when my attitude says otherwise, and to be loving to my family. I couldn't love anyone more than them... my 3 boys!


"Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." Hebrews 11:1

Thursday, October 18, 2007

21 Weeks Along

After a little mix-up at the doctor's office this morning, we finally got to go back and see our little guy on ultrasound. It was wonderful... Maddox was incredibly active and we were able to watch him wave to us as he moved that tiny little hand around. Thankfully our doctor told us that he didn't fall much behind in size or weight in the two weeks since we've been there (since the beginning he has measured small and is currently about 2 weeks behind in measurements), and that he is up to 10 oz. We're so thankful for the times we get to see him, to know that he is growing, and to treasure those pictures of him. And yet, as Dusty mentioned, it's very sobering to look at what a miracle he is and still comprehend all that our little person has to overcome. To me, I think of the moments that lie ahead and realize with some amount of certainty that we won't get much time with him here on earth.

As I look at Maddox and realize that fact, I understand better that each of our days are numbered too... I wonder how differently I would act towards others, say my husband, my parents, or strangers, if those set number of days were clearly posted on some "role call" that would allow me to determine my attitude. All I have for Maddox is love... And then it hit me tonight as I talked to a friend, a very new friend that has recently lost her son as well, that we are to extend grace to everyone we meet, everyone we come in contact with. I am to extend grace to those strangers in the grocery store who make well-meaning comments that break my heart... I'm to extend grace to the nurse who doesn't look at my file and says, "oh you're having another boy... how fun for your older son to have a playmate"... I'm to extend grace to those acquaintances that "know", but don't know what to say... I mean, why should anyone else know what to say or do, when so many times I myself don't. ~All I have realized in a few short hours today is that I can't allow anyone to change my attitude about this... so I hear something that doesn't sit well, or makes me irritated, or seems hurtful or careless... that doesn't change where we were yesterday, and where we are today, and it certainly shouldn't change my attitude to make me less confident in the direction that the Lord is taking us in the future.

As I mentioned before, I desperately wish that no one would have to walk this road after us... and yet, I know that isn't reality. However, what is reality is others having walked this road before me, just as I will go before others, and them having the ability to minister to my heart and share things that only they could. After talking for a few hours with two incredible girls who have recently lost their precious babies, I am filled with a new sense of hope for the future and what God has in store for us. Don't think for a second that I'm saying either one said it was easy. As you can imagine, they both said with definity that it was the hardest thing they have ever, or will ever go through... And yet, they made it. They aren't out of the woods of the grieving, and the wounds of loss are still very fresh, but they are HERE! They are speaking to me on the other side of the pain I now feel and the grief and heartache I forsee in the near future. They are both able, capable, functioning mothers that absolutely love the Lord and know that in all of this, one day we will all see our children again. For these mommies, I am SO THANKFUL!

It seems so perfect with what I read and re-read yesterday in the book of Daniel... the part about Nebuchadnezzar being enraged that Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego wouldn't serve or worship the images of gold that he had created. He threated to throw them into a blazing furnace if they didn't immediately bow down and they replied to him "...O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will resuce us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up." (Daniel 3:16-18) That spoke to me so powerfully as I read it, and then I thought of it tonight when I talked with one of the girls. We both made the decision to carry our babies, regardless of medical prognosis or possible outcomes, and to trust in our God, regardless of what the world views of those decisions. I see us, the families that are walking through these kinds of losses, as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, standing up for something that many don't understand, and walking through the fire. We trust that the Lord is going to protect us in the blazing fire that we are being thrown in to and I trust that He can heal Maddox. However, even if He doesn't choose to heal my baby here on earth, we are still standing up for what we believe, He WILL protect us from the fire and He will honor that choice eternally.

Thank you to my two dear new friends who have shared so openly about your decisions, your pain and your suffering, but also about your hope! I can't thank you enough!

"Faith is being sure of what we hope fore and certain of what we do not see." Hebrews 11:1

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Beginning of the Road

As I sit here, I'm surprised that I ever decided to give this a try. A wonderful friend suggested that this "blogging" thing might be a great way to keep everyone updated on our journey to meeting Maddox, and the more I think about it, the more I know she is right! I am so thankful for each of you reading this and joining us on this path to meet our sweet little boy. I am so thankful for the friends that surround us, our families that love us unconditionally, and most importantly, those of you praying for us as we walk this road. I never imagined that we would be here, but the Lord did. He knew the path He laid out before us, and has somehow given us the strength to walk this winding, rocky, unmarked trail, still allowing us to be confident in His grace, His mercy, and His Son. "For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you." Jeremiah 29:11, 12

So how are we... really? you wonder. We are good. We are blessed. We have an almost 2 year-old if that says anything! Deacon has kept us busy with how active he is... He loves to play ball (any kind), play with trains, trucks and anything that has wheels. He loves wrestling with Daddy, reading books, playing outside and talking, talking, talking!! He has been truly wonderful these past 3 weeks with all the chaos and has really helped me to keep my mind focused on the here and now. We have so many things to be thankful for, regardless of the circumstances, and he is at the top of our list!

Of course our little Maddox is there at the top of the list too, right along side his big brother. I am 20 weeks along and he has been moving around a lot lately, ensuring us that he is doing just fine and that there is no need to worry. ~Well what do you say about worry, fear, anxiety, stress... all these things that now come into play. To be honest, I never seemed to fully grasp what real worry was until I was pregnant and now have a child. And I guess that's how it started... It's so strange to be sitting at a doctor's office assuming everything is "normal" and have them tell you that something is very wrong with your child. What do you mean wrong? He's perfect to us, and to the God that created him, and yet according to earthly, living standards, something isn't quite perfect. His head shape and spinal column indicate spina bifida, there is fluid already pooling in his brain, he has a heart defect, and the list seems to go on... His prognosis isn't good, 90% of babies with his condition don't make it to term, he will be considered a long-term survivor of this thing called Trisomy 18 if he makes it to his first birthday... And all of a sudden, in an instant, life is completely different.

Life is different in so many good ways- I'm thankful for each beautiful day with my family, thankful for Deacon's special bedtime routine, thankful for feeling Maddox move and seeing him on ultrasound every two weeks, thankful for Dusty being such a wonderful husband, father and provider for our family, thankful for feeling good, thankful for the people the Lord has put in our path... we are SO thankful. And yet life is different in so many other ways- I'm sad for the losses that I see in our future, sad for decisions we have to make that no parents should ever have to, sad for myself that I won't get to decorate a room, or nurse my child, or celebrate his major milestones, sad for seeing all the beautiful things in Deacon that I won't get to see in Maddox, and just plain sad that I don't get to bring home a healthy, happy baby when it seems like everyone else gets to.

Why is this our journey to walk? How does this fit in with my plan for how life was supposed to go? I don't think that I will ever fully understand those questions, and about a billion more... but I DO KNOW with full confidence that this is ours to walk, they are not my plans, and it IS from the Lord. He has entrusted us with this life to love and protect... and then eventually give back to Him. I am mentally preparing for that... but can you ever be prepared to let your own child go? Would Mary have said to the angel Gabriel "I am the Lord's servant... May it be to me as you have said" if she would have known all that Jesus was going to suffer in his death? It must have been terribly painful to watch, something that shook her to the core... and yet her son saved the world. She understood that although she was entrusted with this child, ultimately, he belonged to the Father, and he would eventually return to Him. Her son died so that mine, my Maddox, will live eternally. What an amazing gift!

...I know that many have walked this road before us, and sadly many will walk it after us, but we are so confident in the Lord and the purpose in all of this. God knew the exact child he was creating for us and He never makes mistakes. When I read Psalm 139, I can't help but think of this sweet boy we are expecting: "For you created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."

Although this is the most difficult thing we have done in our lives, and it's just beginning, it seems to be something that is changing us, hopefully to make us more like Christ. We thank you for your prayers and ask specifically for wisdom in decisions that lie ahead, peace in the here-and-now, and confidence that we will walk this road faithfully. We pray that Deacon will constantly feel love, even when we are down, and that the time we spend with him will be very special. We pray that Maddox will continue to thrive and we will enjoy each moment that we get with him to the fullest.

"Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." Hebrews 11:1


September 30, 2007

Family and Friends-

We are writing to you for several reasons, mostly to update you on the progress of our pregnancy with our sweet boy, Maddox Donald, and to specifically ask for your prayers for our family at this time.

On Wednesday, September 26th, we went to our doctor’s appointment for what we assumed was a normal 18 week ultrasound… basically there to confirm that we were having our second little boy. Thankfully we were at a maternal/fetal medicine office due to some early complications that we were having with the pregnancy. Everything seemed normal and the ultrasound tech printed off several pictures of our little boy (confirmed!) saying how sweet his little feet looked in a split screen picture. Our physician came in several minutes later and began looking at many different positions of Maddox. We didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary until he mentioned Maddox’s head shape and that he was going to move us to another room for the “higher-tech” machine. We were both worried, but Dusty assured me that the Lord knew what he was doing and not to jump to any conclusions.

After a long ultrasound, an immediate meeting with a genetic counselor, an amniocentesis, and two days of waiting for preliminary results, Maddox has been definitively diagnosed with a chromosome disorder known as Trisomy 18 (www.trisomy18.org). This condition can cause many other problems, some which presented on our ultrasound, the more serious including Spina Bifida Myelomeningocele, and a heart condition. Needless to say, his prognosis from our medical team is not good and they are unsure of whether he will make it to term. Of course we are heartbroken at this shocking news, and yet so thankful for God’s grace, mercy and presence at the same time.

We feel very strongly that the Lord is in control and He is the only one who can give life and decide when to take it back. Each day will be a new day as we continue with this pregnancy, wait anxiously to meet Maddox, and see what God has in store for our family. We thank you for your love and covet your regular prayers, especially for Deacon. We appreciate your respect for our need for a certain amount of privacy regarding our precious boy, but also our desire to continue daily life as “normal” as possible. We share this information with you to let you know of our deepest struggles and to make you aware of this condition we previously knew nothing about. We will update you as it is needed.

Thank you so much for loving our family! We are so thankful for those that have already surrounded us with their love, prayers and friendship.

God’s richest blessings,
Dusty, Kenzie and Deacon Stanfield

“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; Do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8

“Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.” Psalm 55:22
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