Wednesday, August 6, 2014

7 years & 9 months

WOW!! Another month has come and gone!! We are quickly approaching that big ONE year home mark and I can hardly believe how time is flying by!!

We have so much to look forward to and yet we're trying to cling to every last bit of Summer that we can!


Some very big things have happened this last month, for starters...

Ivan got his activity chair!!

Sitting in it during speech therapy
Landon thinks it's pretty comfy too!!

This chair has improved our daily lives so much. Ivan sits in it at the table and it gives him the support to eat and drink without having to work so hard to support himself. His self feeding is improving a lot and he can now use an open mouth cup with very minimal spilling and no choking!!


We got a pool!!

Haha just a little cheapo one, but the kids just LOVE it, even our Landon who, until now, has been terrified of water.







This is his "really excited, I LOVE WATER" expression!!

Sometimes all 4 of us cram into it. If our neighbors didn't already think we're crazy, this has definitely confirmed it for them haha



Saturday in the Park

Our church puts on a free event called "Saturday in the Park" We have a BLAST!!

Pointing to the giant slide daddy and Ivan were going to go down.





Pretty excited about getting a balloon animal!!
Ivan ate at least 3 bags of popcorn (with a little help from Landon ;)!!



Did I mention Dunn Bros iced coffee is provided?!?
My joy boy!
My love bug



So I know after seeing all those pics, you all want to come check it out right??? Well for all you local peeps, come on out to Kiwanis park (S Washington & W Bowen) this Saturday (Aug 9th) from 11- 2 for an awesome time of family fun!! All activities, food and beverages are free, but we will be accepting donations of shampoo, body wash, and laundry detergent for "Carries Kids". If you can bring any of those items it would be a huge blessing to a family in need.

Hope to see you there!!

Ryan accepted a new job!!

Ryan has been wanting a change for quite a while now, but when we found out I was pregnant we knew that God was saying, "it's time guys!" Ryan began applying everywhere, even some jobs out of state, we were open to whatever God called us to. I'm thrilled to tell you that after a ton of application filling out, some job interviews, doors seeming to open and doors closing shut, Ryan was offered a job locally and after much prayer and some necessary changes being made, he accepted!! We are so happy that God is keeping us here for now!!

BIG NEWS!! Ivan Turned 7!!!








He always makes a disgusted face when unwrapping presents. I think it's a sensory thing.





<3 <3 <3

Ivan isn't a fan of cake so I made him cookies and cream popcorn instead.

Safe to say it was a hit with the whole fam, especially birthday boy :)


We had a such a great day, just hanging out together as a family and celebrating our oldest son's birthday and the fact that he's in our family now where his life is cherished and celebrated.

To be honest, there were moments on Aug 3rd where my heart was heavy and deep in thought. Most days I am able to just focus on the present and don't give much thought to life before Ivan, but on his birthday my heart couldn't help pondering the fact that we have missed out on many precious years of his life.

Ivan has had 6 birthday's pass without a birthday song, cuddles, presents, and special treats.

My baby has a past that I will never fully know and that is so hard for this mama's heart to handle.

With Landon's birthday's we take out the photo books. We reminisce the treasured memories and celebrate his growth and the change his little life has experienced.... I couldn't do that with Ivan... and that hurt.

I like to think that his life is just beginning and truly it is, when you consider that he wasn't really given the chance to "live" while he laid in a crib for 5 years by himself, but that doesn't change the fact that he did indeed suffer through those years.

My mind tried to imagine what his "birth"day might of been like. Was his birth mother full of excitement or dread when she realized her baby was coming early? Was she filled with joy when he was born? Did she look into his eyes for the first time with adoration or fear? My heart breaks inside when I think of the agonizing guilt, shame, and sadness she must of felt leaving the hospital without her child. Or maybe she delivered him somewhere else and then brought him to the hospital to abandon him.

My heart just aches for her...

A part of me hates that she holds pieces of his story that I never will.

More than anything, I just wish I could send her these pictures.

I wish she could see her child is not dead. He is alive, loved beyond measure, and thriving.

So it was a day mixed with some sorrow, but a whole lot of joy and celebration.

I will forever treasure the memories of seeing Ivan's face light up when he realized today we were celebrating him.

It was so obvious that he felt special and loved.

And we do love him, oh man, we love this boy to pieces!! I can't say enough about how he has blessed our lives and changed our family for the better. Although I hate that my baby has gone through so much without having a daddy and mama to protect him, I praise God that those days are OVER.

Another birthday will never go uncelebrated!!

Ivan got his wheels!!

The day after Ivan's birthday his wheelchair was delivered. He has had it for a couple days now and his pt is amazed by how quickly he's figuring it out. 

He still prefers crawling around which we encourage, but his wheelchair is opening up a new world for him. He's realizing when he's in it he can reach door knobs, book shelves, and see what is going on so much better. Today I had him help me make lunch and he was SO proud of himself. He wheels himself all over our apartment now (with minimal help when turning)!

First day with his new wheels!






Our precious Ivan Abraham, 7 YEARS OLD, home 9 months!!


The future is BRIGHT!!


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Dawson's story

6 weeks:

Enough time for life to be given and life to be taken away.

Only 3 weeks:

Enough time to dream a lifetime of dreams

enough time to completely fall in love with a child you will never hold this side of heaven.

Miscarriage: a word I prayed I would never encounter face to face and yet...

Here I am.

Just a couple days have passed since that word became a reality for our family,

since it ripped it's way into our life and stole something we cherished so intimately. 

I know this news is coming as such a shock to most of you, since very few people knew of the amazing little secret we were keeping.

So maybe I should start at the beginning of Dawson's story.

Our precious 3rd Maxwell babe had us on our toes from the very beginning.

Because I had been continually sick since returning from Ukraine we assumed I had picked up some kind of parasite (such a fun word, right?). I had tons of tests done, but they all came back negative. My doctor wasn't convinced though so she scheduled me for a colonoscopy. They couldn't get me in for a month and a half...

A month later,  I had begun cleansing and using Isagenix products and I was feeling like a new person. No more tummy issues, no more nausea and cramping. I was experiencing more energy than I'd had since having Landon.

I obviously didn't think the colonoscopy was necessary anymore, but it was already scheduled so I figured I should have it done just to make sure.

So I drank the nasty prep stuff, got up early the next morning, got the kids ready and Ryan and I headed to the hospital to get this thing over with.

Once at the hospital, the first thing they did was have me take a pregnancy test just as a precaution.

After I took it, the nurse brought Ryan and the boys back to be with me in the tiny pre-op room as we waited for the results. We waited for quite a while. Ryan and I began discussing if he should take the boys home since it was taking so long and they were getting restless cooped up in such a little room.

The nurse came in and told us she was going to call the lab to see why it was taking so long. We watched as she called, I heard her say my name... and then silence. She hung up the phone and started walking away from us. Ryan and I just looked at each other with the "oh man, how long is this going to take?" look.

After 10 more minutes the doctor came into our little room. I could tell right away something was up.

"Well, I'm not going to be able to do your colonoscopy today.... because you're pregnant."

Cue shock and silence

The doctor filled our silence by telling us about the results, and that he only gets to deliver this news about once a year, and asking me if I have an OBGYN that he could call for me.

I looked over at Ryan who was white as a ghost, but still trying to keep Landon from sprinting out of the room and Ivan from screaming and scooting out of his stroller.

Are you crazy Lord, another baby.... NOW??

I tried to smile because I knew this was great news, but I was in complete shock.

I went to the hospital that day fully prepared to go through a horrible procedure and spend the rest of the day laying on the couch eating ice cream, instead I left the hospital shortly after arriving..... pregnant.

Ryan and I got out to the vehicle, buckled the boys into their seats, got in and just stared at each other.

I kept saying

What?

What?!?

What?!?!

Each time my what's got a little louder and more passionate.

I couldn't believe it... a baby.

Eventually Ryan and I just laughed.

Once home we both crashed on the couch and began to process this incredible news.

Excitement began to take root in our hearts.

Landon's OT came over that day while Ivan was resting in mama and daddy's bed. Towards the end of her visit, Ivan woke up so I went and got him. I soon realized I had forgotten to take his glasses off and they were now broken.

I brought them out to Ryan who took them and began looking for ways to fix them. It soon became evident that a fix wasn't possible and we'd have to order him new ones.

The OT said she couldn't believe how calm we are and how we handle things like that.

After she left Ryan said, "wow, she thinks we're calm about broken glasses, just think if she knew we just found out we're going to have another baby!" We both laughed!!!

The next couple weeks were full of excitement. We found out our baby would be due the end of February 2015. I scheduled my first prenatal appointment. Ryan and I started talking about names. We told the boys that there was a baby in mama's tummy and we started looking through Landon's pregnancy journal. Ivan seemed to understand more than Landon although he kept saying there was a baby in his tummy too lol.

I started looking for the perfect "big brother" shirt for Landon and "biggest brother" shirt for Ivan on Etsy. We told a few people from work and a few close local friends our exciting news, and started dreaming up fun ways to share our secret with our families when we would see them in August. We picked out the Tula baby carrier we would order at Christmas time. Ryan made sure it wasn't anything too feminine because he enjoys wearing our babes as well.

We started making plans and changes for our future, knowing that our two bedroom apartment just wasn't going to cut it anymore for our growing family.

Ryan and I both felt that God was using this baby to bring an amazing hope and change into our lives.

I found myself much more excited about this pregnancy than my first. With Landon I had no idea what to expect, I didn't know what it meant to be a parent. The fact that a baby was growing inside of my body seemed weird the first time around, but this time it was just beautiful! I signed up for all the updates, looked up my baby's weekly development almost daily and counted down the days until another week had passed. I looked at the calendar every morning to remind myself how many days till my first appointment, dreamed of the moment I would hear this baby's heartbeat.

We dreamed of the possibility of a Maxwell girl babe.

And we dreamed of adding to our crazy brood with another amazing little boy. We already know we make stinkin ADORABLE little boys :)

We found ourselves wandering through the baby section of Target, looking at the little newborn clothes, and of course we strolled through all the tutus and hair bows.

We were both SO excited!

Ryan was quite different this pregnancy too. With Landon, he never really let himself get attached until he was born. This time, he would rub my belly and talk to the baby. I would catch him talking to the boys about the baby. When we looked at houses he would make sure that there was a room close to the master that we could use as the nursery.

My heart was melting.

I already felt blessed to have such amazing man as the daddy of my babies and now I was going to give another child the gift of the best daddy in the whole world.

We couldn't imagine our lives being any richer, but this baby was giving us such a hope. Our financial struggles and our daily hardships, didn't seem as big anymore. We knew our future was bright. God wouldn't have given us this baby if He didn't have an incredible plan for our lives.

3 weeks turned to 4, 4 turned to 5, and 5 turned into 6 weeks.

I was shocked that I was already beginning to notice a tiny baby bump. Ryan thought I was crazy. I knew it was probably just baby bloat, but I LOVED it all the same!



July 8th

I woke up feeling like a million bucks!! It was a beautiful sunny day. I was now 6 weeks pregnant! I felt so ambitious I decided to take the boys for a walk around the park. While I was walking I started to feel a little crampy, but didn't think much of it.

Later that day I noticed a very small amount of blood. I was a little concerned because the blood was bright red.

I went about our day though, after Ivan's therapy, I napped while the boys did. I woke up to find more blood. I still didn't really think it was anything since it wasn't very much blood, but I called my doctor and explained the situation. She had me go in to get blood drawn. So they could monitor my HCG levels and make sure the pregnancy was still progressing. I was told I wouldn't get the results back until the next morning, then they wanted me to go in again in two days (on wed.) for more bloodwork, I was told my HCG levels should have doubled by then. I would get all the results from the blood work on Thurs and would also have an ultra sound.

I didn't know how I would be able to wait that long to find out if my baby was still okay. That night I found myself sitting out on the balcony after putting the kids to bed. Ryan was at his small group. I held my belly, stared up at the moon, and prayed that God would keep my baby safe. I prayed that He would let us keep this baby. I sat out there for an hour... feeling so numb, scared, and helpless. A feeling all too familiar to me. I remember feeling the same way when we found out about Landon's heart when I was pregnant with him. But I looked back on Landon's story and found peace in knowing that God was in control then and He was in control now and writing out this baby's story as well. I know that His ways are often hard on my mama heart, but I wouldn't rewrite Landon's story in any way and through tears I told God I don't want to write this baby's story either. I trust Him, "but please don't take my baby Lord."

Ryan got home and found me sitting out on the balcony. We talked, we shared our fears, I cried, he prayed, and we went to bed knowing that everything was in God's hands.
I woke up the next morning, went right to the bathroom, to find a lot more blood than the day before. I crumbled to the bathroom floor and sobbed.

I didn't want this to be happening, but I couldn't do anything to stop it.

Ryan went to work.

I called the nurse as soon as they opened. She told me that my HCG levels looked really good (a grasp of hope). I asked her if there was another reason why I would be bleeding like this. She told me there could be one other reason. she said she was praying (her exact words) that it was just a subchorionic hemorrhage. Of course after I hung up with her I went and googled what a subchorionic hemorrhage is. I read story after story from women who have had them, had tons of bleeding and clotting, and yet still had full term pregnancies and healthy babies. 

I felt hope returning. 

This had to be what I have.

So I cancelled all our therapies and appointments for the rest of the week and put myself on bed rest since that is what most people who have SCH are recommended to do by their doctors.

The stories I was reading were encouraging. I put on The Sound of Music and cuddled on the couch with the boys, even sang along a little. 

I took a nap around 3 and when I woke up at 4 I felt like I had soaked through my shorts. I stood up and felt a gush of blood. I rushed to the bathroom in horror.

I realized I was soaking through pads in only a couple minutes and I was terrified. 

Up until this point we had kept our pregnancy a secret from our parents, but I couldn't do it anymore. I called my mom in a panic and through a fuzzy connection and sobs, got out the words, "Mom I'm six weeks pregnant and I'm bleeding a lot. I so scared I'm losing the baby." I asked her if I should go to the ER and she told me yes. She told me she would hang up with me and call Ryan's parents so they could all be praying. After calling my best friend and asking if she would watch the boys, I called Ryan and told him what was going on. He was already on his way home. 

I tried to get the boys ready, but I was having to go to the bathroom every couple minutes because of the bleeding. This was also when I started to notice clotting, which sunk my heart even more, but I reminded myself that others who have just had SCH had clotting and it wasn't anything to worry about.

We sat in silence all the way to the ER, just holding hands and praying in our hearts for this nightmare not to end the way we feared it would.

Once we got to the ER they brought us to a room and had me change into one of those awesome hospital gowns. At this point I was weak and dizzy from all the blood loss so Ryan helped me get undressed. When I saw a blood clot almost as big as my fist I thought I was going to pass out. I screamed and then began to sob again. Ryan comforted me and reminded me that some people that had SCH have passed much larger clots than that. Ryan had done researching of his own because he was also worried and feeling so helpless.

I tried to believe him, but I couldn't help wondering if I was witnessing my tiny baby leaving my body.

Soon a nice doctor came in and told us that they were going to draw my blood again to check my HCG levels and they should have the results within 45 min.

After they drew my blood, Ryan and I just waited. He called his parents and his dad prayed for us over speaker phone. Then he turned on HGTV and we just clung to each other and waited.

After over an hour, the doctor came back in and told us that my HCG levels were lower and that I was indeed having a miscarriage.

I just nodded my head as my body went numb and all hope I was holding onto went slipping through my fingers.

The rest of the night is kind of a blur.

Picking up the boys...

hugging and sobbing with my friend...

putting the boys to bed and trying to comfort Ivan that everything is okay. He was completely thrown off by us leaving him.

Sobbing, lots of sobbing...

I felt like my whole body was grieving the loss. At times my whole body would just shake. My face would twitch in uncontrollable ways  and the sobbing was almost physically painful.

Ryan and I just laying on our bed, staring up at the ceiling fan late that night, like two kids staring up at clouds trying to find something they can understand in the shapes, we talked and tried to make sense of this tragedy. We asked hard questions of God and questioned why just six weeks? I asked him how I could wake up that morning pregnant and be going to sleep that night not. 

I felt completely empty.

I felt robbed.

I was so angry at God.

I blamed myself because I took the boys for that walk. I convinced myself that I over did it and that's why I had the miscarriage. 

Ryan told me that wasn't true, but I told him I would rather it be my fault, because if it wasn't my fault than it was God's fault and I didn't know, in that moment, if I could still follow a God who would do something so cruel. We weren't trying to have another baby, this baby was God's gift to us, it brought us such hope. Why would God give us such a hope and then steal it away? 

That night Ryan and I sat on our couch both with our pints of Ben and Jerry's ice cream, hint of lime chips, and crackers (to help with the cramping and nausea) and watched 24 until late into the night. 

I was hesitant to go to sleep, in spite of my exhaustion, because I knew when I woke up the next morning I would realize this nightmare all over again.

And I did, I woke up the next morning and laid in bed for a long time. Processing, waking up to this new reality, and letting the tears flow down my cheeks and soak my pillow. Eventually I went to the bathroom, looked in the mirror to see a completely flat stomach staring back at me. I leaned over the sink and sobbed some more. 

And we've been riding the waves of grief ever since.

They come when I least expect them most of the time. I can be perfectly fine, just doing laundry, when all of a sudden I'll realize I can no longer dream of the tiny newborn clothes... boom. I'm a mess, I'm emptied all over again.

In the midst of the sorrow and devastating grief we have still celebrated. We have still laughed. We have caught ourselves being joyful at times, even silly with each other... and that's okay.

A couple days after the miscarriage, Ryan and I both felt it would be healing to name the baby. I know that may seem silly, since we never even got far enough to find out the sex of our baby, but to us.... 

this baby couldn't of been more real...

This baby couldn't of been more ours...

and this baby, couldn't have been more loved...

So we talked about it and decided this child would forever be remembered as 

Dawson Mikele Maxwell

Dawson, because I love the name and always thought it would be perfect for a girl or a boy. Mikele, because it means "God's gift" and to us that's exactly what this baby was.

Dawson was not just a fetus that couldn't survive, Dawson was our child. 

Dawson "is" our child, and although it hurts now, we cling to the truth that we will meet our precious baby in eternity someday.


Today marks a week since we lost our precious Dawson, in this life. I can honestly say, we're healing. I've since had days where I haven't cried at all, which is a huge improvement from sobbing all day long. The sadness is still there, but it is shadowed by hope. 

The first couple days after the miscarriage I felt hopeless, but since then, God has comforted our hearts, spoken truth into our souls, and healed our broken Spirits.

It is so true that we do not grieve like the world who has no hope (1 Thess. 4). Ryan and I both feel as though God is using our sweet Dawson to give us a more complete hope than we ever knew before. Yes, we longed to know Dawson in this life, but something remarkable took place in our hearts when we realized that God had used both of us to create a precious child, who is now walking in perfect glory. Ryan and I have both expressed to each other how since losing Dawson, in this life, Heaven seems even more real and closer somehow.

Dawson is our one child that we don't worry about. We will never have to watch Dawson suffer.  We will never even have to pray for him/her's salvation... Dawson is completely safe in the presence of our Lord and although my selfish heart still wishes Dawson was here to live this broken life with us, I have such a hope and peace in the deepest places of my heart, knowing that this life is just a speck on the canvas of eternity. 

We have moved past feeling robbed by God and can honestly say (most days) we feel so blessed that God would give us another child. God's ways are so much higher than our ways, and our minds cannot even grasp the "why's" behind some of His decisions, but we cling to the truth that our why's wont matter the moment we take our last breath and enter the presence of God almighty. My soul longs for that day more than ever now, knowing what I have waiting for me :)

 We wanted to do something as a family to celebrate our sweet baby's life so we planned a little memorial service.
All ready to paint their hand prints onto baby Dawson's balloon


Ivan reached over, grabbed Landon's hand and said "pray". They both said "thank you Jesus" and my mama's heart exploded. I guess Ivan could sense the sacredness of the moment.
Ryan prayed, thanking God for giving us Dawson, thanking Him for our family, and praying that our life would bring Him glory in the good, the hard, and the times when we just can't understand His ways.

Letting the balloon go


 My dearest Dawson,

Mama just wants you to know you are loved. Boy or girl, we loved every second we knew of you on this earth. Mama LOVED having you inside of me and sharing my life with you. You are a part of our story and our family Dawson and nothing could change that.

The first day mama found out you were hiding inside of me, I began making your pregnancy journal. I couldn't wait for your story to unfold and have the whole thing documented so I could cherish it forever. When I found out we lost you, I wanted to go home and delete the book I'd begun for you. The memories hurt, the pictures hurt, seeing my smile and remembering my joy, hurt.

But I soon realized that God doesn't give us the luxury of erasing the bits and pieces of our story that hurt. My soul was soon reminded of what it already knew, there is beauty in pain when we give it to the Healer. So that's what mama did, I told God I trust Him and I began to priase Him for your story, even though, to my earthly mind, it seemed much too short.

I want you to know that if we could do it again, we would choose our 6 weeks with you, knowing it would lead to this sorrow, than spend our life without ever knowing of you. This world may look at your life and say it was a waste, a mistake, a failure, but we know the truth. We know you were full of life, the moment you were conceived. We know God wrote out your story and made you a unique individual unlike anyone else this world has ever known. We know your life on this earth had a purpose, which is why mama is not ashamed to tell your story. Lastly, we know you're more alive today than you ever would of been breathing on this earth and for that we rejoice for you little one.

You will forever be missed, your story will always be told, and your memory will always be cherished.

Till we meet again my sweet child, we'll love you to Heaven and back,
Your mama






To those of you who have prayed for us this past week, we truly can't thank you enough. God has given us such an amazing band of close friends to support, encourage, and walk this road with our family. Your love and our friendship is priceless to us. Thank you to everyone who heard our news and reached out by bringing us meals, sending encouraging messages, and most of all praying for our hearts to heal. We love you all! Thank you for following our journey, the good, the bad, and the times when we just don't understand.

Love the Maxwells

"The Lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord." Job 1:21