Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Worst Day of my Life

I know it may seem strange for me to write about the details of the day that Callie died, but I do so for several reasons.  Justin and I both want to remember our last moments with her, what we said to her, and everything that happened, and the ways the Lord was working through our pain.  I also want this blog to be relatable and encouraging to anyone who may down the road go through this terrible nightmare of losing a child.  So here is the story about the worst day of my life....

It was July 4th, 2016 and everyone woke up happy and excited to have a fun family day together.  The plan was to go to our neighborhood 4th of July parade and party, and then go over to my parents house that afternoon to spend time with the family and eat some BBQ.  The first part of the day was perfect.  Justin pulled Cooper and Callie in the wagon and we walked the short little route in the neighborhood parade.

We talked to our neighbors, enjoying the fun morning all while Cooper and Callie were both enjoying their little ride in the wagon and taking in all the people.  After the parade, we stayed around the neighborhood clubhouse for the festivities.  We ate some food, got some snow cones, Justin pushed Callie in the swing and everyone was having a great time.  The kids especially loved the firetruck and getting sprayed by the water hose.  Callie also explored every area of the grounds while Justin was chasing her around and I was helping Cooper with the big water slide.  Callie had so much fun exploring, observing everything around her, playing at the park and enjoying yummy food.

watching the fire truck spray everyone 

After a little while, we headed back to our house.  I remember specially coming back home and the kids having so much fun together.  Cooper and Callie were running around, playing legos, and just playing together like they normally do. Callie was SO happy and joyful.

Running around with her brother playing legos

I wanted to get a picture of both kids together since they were dressed so cute for 4th of July but thought it would be better to wait until after Callie napped.  I did want to get some pictures of Callie since she looked so stinkin adorable that day.  And thankfully I was able to get the sweetest picture of her in her dress, that now most everyone has seen.  It was the last picture I took of her.  And she looked beautiful.

I then put her down for a nap.  She never cries when we put her down for a nap, and never even cries when she wakes up.  I did notice that she didn't sleep super long during this nap and I could tell she was a little more fussy than her normal self when she was waking up.  I went in to get her and when I picked her up, I noticed immediately that she was warm.  We checked her temperature and it was 101.  Poor baby had another fever.  It was a common thing for her nowadays, but the doctor was never concerned about her fevers so I tried not to be either.  We gave her some medicine and the fever went down.  Our plan was to go to my parents house after she woke up, but Justin offered to stay home with Callie, since he had some orientation work to work on (he just started a new job the week before).  He wanted Cooper to be able to still go and play with his cousin at my parents house.  His cousin was really looking forward to seeing Cooper, so it just didn't make sense for all 4 of us to stay home.  I agreed, and so Cooper and I left to go to my parents house about 30 minutes away.  That was the last time we saw her.

I wish I had some awesome story about how I went back in  and gave her an extra hug and kiss and told her I loved her 2 more times, but I don't.  Cooper and I actually snuck out quietly because I knew she would get upset if Cooper left to do something and she had to stay home.  So I didn't even really say bye.  I stress this because in a lot of the books I read, they have some magical moment with their child the last time they saw them.  I don't have that and it made me very angry.  Why does everyone else seem to have that and I literally didn't even say bye??  I stress that because it doesn't always happen like the movies and the true story of the books I read of the last time you saw your loved one alive.  It's just not realistic and I hope that brings some type of comfort to anyone else who doesn't have that last "magical moment" with their child.  I just look at all the wonderful moments and memories we had over the last month together, otherwise I would drive myself crazy with that.

I also want to point out that it is not normal for us to be separated like this.  It was very odd that we were even separated and Justin was with Callie and I was with Cooper.  Usually it's  the other way around and Justin takes Cooper somewhere, and I stay home with Callie.  But on this particular day, Justin was alone with Callie.  I  drove to my parents house and Cooper had a blast playing with his cousin.   Justin and I texted the entire afternoon.  He was giving me updates on Callie and I was telling him what Cooper and Peyton were doing.

 He sent me one last picture of Callie sitting in her pink chair, sucking her thumb, hair a mess, in her diaper watching jungle book.  It was the movie we played for her when she was sick.  It always calmed her right down.  Justin also texted me and said that Callie leaned into him and gave him a kiss and that it melted his heart.  I'm so glad he had that moment with her.  He checked her temperature again and she had no fever as it went down with the medicine.  I texted and told him to go ahead and put her down for another nap since she didn't really nap well earlier.  Callie was in a transition of going from 2 naps to 1 nap, so some days she would take 2 naps and some days she would take 1 nap.  I am a huge nap scheduler and since I'm with her 24/7, I know her best and knew she would need another short nap before dinner.  So Justin put her down for her nap.  I texted and asked if she went to sleep.  He looked at the monitor and said yes she is asleep.  And that was the last text from Justin that day.

Meanwhile, at my parents house, my brother and dad grilled some sausage and ribs and we ate a nice BBQ meal. I remember showing my parents the picture of Callie that I took of her and how cute she looked today and how I wish they could have seen her. I then packed up a ton of leftover food to bring dinner home to Justin and Callie.  We said goodbye to my family and Cooper and I were on our way back driving to our house.  All was right in the world...or so I thought...

I called Justin on the way to let him know we are coming home.  He didn't answer.  No big deal, that's normal he usually has his phone on silent.  A couple minutes later, he calls me back and immediately I knew something was terribly wrong.  This part of it all is very blurry for me, but all I remember is Justin telling me that Callie was not breathing and was unresponsive.  The paramedics were there at the house working on her.  I'm sure I asked him what happened and he told me he didn't know.  Justin later tells me (no idea when he told me or when I got all the information as it's all a blur now)  that he looked at the monitor and noticed that Callie's face was down in the crib and the way she was positioned was not normal.  He immediately went in there and picked her up, and she was not breathing and unresponsive.  He lays her down on the living room floor and starts CPR.  He called 911 on speaker all while giving his daughter CPR.  He knew deep down inside, that she was gone, but he knew he had to try.  He had to pray for some miracle, but it just wasn't looking good.

At this point, I'm in full on panic mode.  I'm a basket case and pretty much freaking out.  But I have to drive and I have my son in the car with me.  I called my parents and told them to pray.  I called one of my best friends and told her to pray.  I then call Justin for updates and all I ever got was "she's still the same, still unresponsive, still not breathing".  I ask Justin about 5 different times "Is she going to die??" and all he said was "I don't know".  Justin asks the paramedics if I should come to the house or go straight to the hospital and they said for me to go straight to the hospital.  I'm sure they didn't need hysterical mom coming through the door.  I then call my parents back to let them know what hospital they are taking Callie to.  I pray out loud as much as possible for God to spare Callie's life.  Since I was driving, I couldn't text anyone, but thank goodness for bluetooth, I could call people easily. I then think to myself that I need one person from church to know so they can pray.  So I start calling people, and NO ONE would answer their phone.  I used stop lights to look up other numbers, and again no answer.  Oh well, no one from church will know, God just wants me to pray.  It was the longest drive of my life.  I keep trying to call Justin for updates but his phone died.  The last I heard was that they were putting a tube in her to try to help her breath.  They worked on her at our house for a least an hour.

About 5 minutes from the hospital I decided to try to call our Pastor.  I was hesitant, because I didn't know for sure what was going on, but I did anyway.  He didn't answer at first but then he calls back a couple minutes later.  I explained to him that Callie is not breathing and unresponsive and say something like please just pray God would spare Callie's life.  He then asks what hospital we are at.  As I'm getting Cooper out of the car, my best friend calls me because she drove to my house after I called her.  She said the ambulance just left my house and they didn't have their lights on.  She also said she thinks everything will be fine.  I told her I don't know about that.  But I did start to feel more hopeful.  Maybe I was overreacting.  Maybe she will be fine.  She later texted and said that the ambulance did have their lights on after turning the street.

I walk into the ER and have to wait for Justin and Callie to arrive, and it was the longest wait of my life.   Thankfully my parents showed up quickly after that so they could help with Cooper.   I kept asking the lady at the desk if Callie had arrived yet.  I was so frustrated that Justin's phone had died so I had no idea what was going on.  I just kept praying and hoping.

Finally, Justin uses someones phone to call me and tell me that they are here and he comes and gets me.  He is with one of the paramedics and the paramedic tells me "Every doctor, nurse, and hospital worker is working on your daughter right now, they are doing everything they can do."  I walk by and I see about 20 people in there working on her very frantically.  Just like a scene from ER or Grey's anatomy,  I completely lose it when I see that, and they had to pull the curtain so that I would not disturb them.  He leads us to the small room with 2 chairs to sit down and just wait.  That was when I probably got more of the story from Justin.  I asked the paramedic if Callie was going to die and he just said I don't know.  Justin and I are crying out to God at the point, holding each other and praying.  Lord please save Callie, please don't take her from us.  I don't even remember what we were saying, we were just crying out to God.  Another paramedic comes in and says that the Doctor will come in soon to see us.  I ask her the same question I asked everyone..."is she going to die?"  and the answer was always "I don't know".  

Then at some point, and I'm not even sure how this happened, our Pastor walks through the doors and we were right there.  I think it even took him by surprise that he found us so quickly.  He never went into the waiting room like everyone else, he just walked right in, and we were literally right there.  We prayed, and cried, and not sure what else happened the minutes before the doctor talked to us.

The worst moment of our lives was about to happen.  The doctor walks in.  He calmly tells us that they have been working on Callie for 2 hours now.  They have done everything they can for her.  They are going to try one more time to resuscitate her and asked if we wanted to be in the room with her to hold her hand.  I knew what he was saying, but I needed to hear it.  I ask again "Is she going to die?"  And he said "Yes."  I then ask "So you're telling me that my daughter died???"  And then he simply says, "Yes."  I'm sure he said he was sorry but I don't remember anything else but that Yes.  We cry, our pastor hugs us and tells us how sorry he is.  And somehow we are able to stand up and walk into her room to see her.  It felt like 15-20 people in there with us.  Justin gets on one side, I get on the other and they try one more time to resuscitate her.  We just cried out to Callie and cried out to God.  I remember rubbing her hair and her head and saying "Callie, Mommy is here, please come back to us, Mommy is right here."  I remember crying out to God and begging him to please do a miracle.  I remember saying "what happened, what happened."  But it was mainly just crying and telling Callie that we loved her.  Then they stopped.  The doctor said something like  "is there anyone in this room who thinks there is anything  else we can do"  Silence.  I'm guessing that was when she was officially pronounced, though she was long gone before that.

At that moment, everything moved in slow motion and I went into shock.  I remember all these hands on my back, and I thought all my friends were in the room.  I turned around and it was all the medical staff who had been working on her.  They were crying, trying to comfort me, but I felt paralyzed.  Justin immediately went into deep, deep sorrow.  He was sobbing uncontrollably while I felt frozen.  Surely this is just a nightmare.  Surely I will wake up from this terrible horrible dream.  This can't be real life.  It just can't be true.  But I just kept looking at Callie and Justin and I knew deep down it was real life.  This was my real life.  My beloved daughter just died, how can I even go on??

I just stared at her, rubbed her hands, rubbed her hair and her cheeks.  We kissed her, hugged her, and then Justin asked if he could hold her.  The picture of my sweet husband holding Callie in his arms, sobbing uncontrollably is a picture I will never get out of my head.  My heart is broken in a million pieces.  Not just for myself, but also for him.  He lost his beloved daughter, he was crazy about her, and what's worse, he was there when she died and he saw it all.  For some reason the Lord spared Cooper and I from being there and seeing her and going through that traumatic experience.  But he didn't spare Justin from it and it broke my heart.   At one point, he started blaming himself and said that he should have gotten to her earlier.  I immediately said, "NO, do NOT do that. This is NOT your fault."  It was heart wrenching.

Being in shock,  I felt very nauseous and also completely dehydrated.  I kept asking for water and kept drinking water all night long, but nothing was quenching my thirst.  I had never felt so dehydrated and thirsty before.  After Justin held her, I held her as well.  It was a strange feeling holding her as it just wasn't her.  She was cold, lifeless, and it just wasn't her.  I loved rubbing her beautiful hair and holding her hands, but holding her was very hard for me.

We cried and stayed with her for awhile before I knew I needed to go tell my parents.  How am I supposed to tell them that their granddaughter just died?  How am I supposed to explain to Cooper that his sister and best friend won't be coming home?  The grief was just overwhelming.  I walk into the waiting room and see my parents and our good friends Christian and Trey who were already there waiting as well.  I just shake my head and mumbled under my breath that Callie died.  I fall into my dad's arms and just cry.  I then ask if they would like to come back and see her.  My dad comes back and my mom stays with Cooper.  The rest of the night was a huge blur.  We stayed with Callie as long as we could until they pretty much kicked us out of the room and we had to return to that small room next door.

At one point, I was told that the waiting room was filled with friends and church family.  I still don't know who all was there, but they were crying, praying and reading scripture.  Though we never really knew who all came, it was extremely encouraging to know that we were not alone in this.

Thankfully my parents, our pastor, my 2 best friends, and Justin's good friend were all back there with us.  We couldn't leave as they had a lot of questions for us and there was a lot more to be done.  It was the longest night ever and I just wanted to leave the hospital.  But no, we have to be interviewed separately by homicide detectives.  I was very angry about this.  I know this is normal protocol but really?  We just learned that our child died and we have to be investigated by homicide detectives?  I kept saying very directly "THIS WAS NOT A CRIME". but they didn't know that.  So here we are, the worst day of our life actually getting worse.  The detective actually told me that he has 3 kids of his own so he understands how I feel.  OH REALLY?  You understand what it's like to have your child die because you have children?  How dumb can you really be?  Justin was sweet and compliant, I was angry and rude.  I guess that's typical of us in stressful situations.

Finally after both being interviewed (and it was recorded, felt like a dateline episode), I went out and saw some of the people that were still there in the waiting room.  I don't know what time it was, but it was late at this point.  And finally they say that we can leave the hospital.  The detectives had to go to our house to "do their job" and we were not allowed back at our house until they were finished.  We decided to just drive back to my parents house to spend the night there with the clothes on our backs.  While we were getting Cooper in the car, Cooper said that Callie was with Jesus and that he was going to pray.  He folded his hands and started praying.

We drove the 30 minutes back to my parents house mostly crying and in silence.  I think it was close to 1:00am at this point. The only thing I remember from that drive is that Justin and I held hands and we said, "this will either break us, or bring us closer together.  We choose to have this bring us closer together.  This will NOT destroy us."  We just had to say it out loud.  I knew no matter how hard this horrible road of grief gets, we will make it.  We will thrive together.  For better or for worse, and this is by far the worst thing any marriage could experience.  We made a vow, and we will make it through this.

The entire week was a complete whirlwind.  I didn't sleep for 2 weeks.  Maybe a couple hours a night I would get during those 2 weeks.  It was awful since sleeping was the only thing to get your mind off of everything that happened.  And every morning I would wake up and remember the nightmare we were living.   I missed her immensely.  I wish I could say that the pain has gotten easier over the past 3 weeks but it hasn't.  It has gotten harder and reality has really sunk in.  The worst day of my life is in reality the worst everyday of my life.  It just keeps going, it keeps repeating itself everyday.  I know one day, the dark cloud will get a little lighter.  I know one day, I will not grieve as deeply as I do now.  Even so, she will never ever be forgotten.  The Lord has been near to us even through our deep grief and pain.  I still don't quite understand why the Lord has us walk through this deep trial that not many people have to walk through.  It doesn't seem fair at times, but I do trust Him.  I know He loves me and I know he is near.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Our Days are Numbered

"A person's days are determined; you have decreed the number of months and have set limits he cannot exceed." Job 14:5

Everyone wants to know what happened to Callie.  Though most people haven't directly asked me this question, I see it asked on social media, and I know people want to know.  And I get it, when a child passes away, I always want to know what happened?  It's a normal question.  I also believe people want to know details so they can somehow prevent it from happening to them.  But here is what I know now more than ever....we are not in control.  We can do every little thing right for our children, and be crazy overprotective.  You can wrap your house in bubble wrap and face your child backwards in the car until they are 5 years old.  You can have them eat all homemade organic food and never allow them to touch processed junk. You can never allow them to do anything remotely adventurous, you can helicopter them and drive yourself crazy never leaving their can be a very protective parent, but ultimately, we are not in control.  God is the author of life, he gives and he takes away.  He numbers all our days.  He knew before Callie was even conceived that she would only live for 18 months.  There was absolutely nothing we could do to change this.  Trust me, I have already driven myself crazy with the "what ifs", but it's just not beneficial and certainly not biblical.  Am I saying that somehow I could have saved her but God cannot?  Could God have saved my child?  Absolutely.  When we were in the hospital, crying out to God to spare Callie's life, could He have saved her?  YES, YES!  But he didn't.  It was His plan. We don't understand and it stinks, but we trust the Lord because we know he is good, loving, wise, and faithful.

This is what we know so far from a preliminary autopsy.  We know she did not suffocate, she did not have a stoke and they do not believe she had a seizure, though they couldn't rule it out.  There were some internal issues that did come up on the autopsy that I don't think is beneficial to go into detail.   They did say they are confident that we will know the cause in due time.  What I do know is that whatever it is, it has to be extremely rare.  I took her to the doctor 2 weeks before she passed away and the doctor was not concerned about her one bit.  She was also ALWAYS happy.  She slept well, she ate well, she was never in pain.  There is no way I would ever known that there could have been something wrong with her.  Even the day she passed away, she was SO happy.  I remember her running around the house with Cooper, playing legos and giggling like all our normal days.

In one of the books I'm reading about a Father who lost his 5 year old son, he was really struggling with guilt.  As parents, we are supposed to protect our children, so it is very natural to struggle with that guilt no matter how they died.  It is a struggle I have to fight daily.  One of his pastor friends told him, "you could have carried that child around on a feather pillow all day, and he still would have died that day."  God is SOVEREIGN and it has never brought me more comfort than now.  There was nothing we could have done.   I'm thankful that I serve a God who KNOWS our future, who determines it, and it's not in our control.  Our days are already numbered and I'm so thankful he doesn't tell us what day that is.  Some people think having a shocking and unexpected death like Callie's is worse than a slow, knowing it's coming death.  And though the shock is definitely worse with the unexpected, I'm so glad we didn't know ahead of time the day Callie would pass away.  We had such a fun few months before she died.  We went to the beach with Justin's family, we went to San Antonio resort and sea world with my family, we did a ton of fun things with our little family when Justin had a week off.  We will always have sweet happy memories to look back on, and for that I am thankful.  She had a full and fun life.  She was loved well by many, many people.

To sum up this random post, I am so thankful God is sovereign and HE has our days numbered.  I'm so thankful He is in control and not us.  I'm not saying at all to be negligent with your children, the Lord gave us wisdom and discernment for a reason.  But please don't fall into the lie that we are somehow in control.  And please do not be scared of Callie's Story.  I will most likely not share what we find out about the results of the autopsy.  It's not beneficial.  I will not be that mom who starts some type of advocate program of what to watch out for or look for signs for some rare virus/infection/disease in your children (again those are just guesses, we don't know what she had).
 I want Callie's story to be used to point people to Jesus, not to point people to fear.   That is my prayer and my desire.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Callie Grace Cummings

Deep down inside, I have always wanted a little girl.  Don't get me wrong, I am crazy about my little boy and the bond we have and absolutely love having a boy....but when we found out we were having a girl, I was so thrilled.  Cooper and Justin have such a special bond, they go off and do a lot of "boy" things together just the 2 of them, and I love it.  I was so looking forward to having some "girl" time with our Callie.  I was blessed with a wonderful pregnancy with Callie, no complications and fairly easy overall.  Then on December 17, 2014 we welcomed the most beautiful baby girl into the world.  Callie Grace was born at 3:46pm.  She was 7lb 13 oz, 20 in. Like a typical girl, her arrival came with some drama.  You can read more about the famous epidural (or lack thereof) and her birth story here.

Callie's trademark were her cheeks.  She had the cutest, sweetest, biggest cubby cheeks.  Every nurse, doctor, friend, or random person who came in our room would comment on her cheeks.  She was famous for them.  I love them.  Justin and I would joke that we couldn't see her chin.  Where was her chin??  Her cheeks just took over her face.

The cheeks did die down some over time, but thankfully not too much and they were just irresistible to kiss.  She had beautiful brown hair and big hazel eyes.  I kept thinking her eyes would change color, but they never did.  Some days they looked blue, some days they looked green or even brown.  They were so unique and beautiful.  She looked so different than Cooper.  Cooper is very white and got the Collier white gene as we say.  Callie didn't quite get her Daddy's olive completion, but she did get a good mix of Justin and I and she had beautiful skin.  To say we were smitten was an understatement.

We did have a difficult first 3 months with Callie.  She was colicky, had reflux and was pretty miserable, especially in the evening.  It was a hard season to go through, but sure enough right at 3 months of age, she turned into a different baby.  She was SO happy and easy going.  She loved life and she adored her big brother.  She loved being on her stomach and rolled over very early and kept rolling to get where she wanted to go.  She was honestly such an easy baby after those first 3 months. She was so independent from the earliest age and could really entertain herself.  When she started sitting up, I would place different toys around her and she would just play and play and I wouldn't hear a peep out of her.   She hardly cried unless she was tired. She was a great sleeper,  put herself to sleep on her own with zero training and started sleeping through the night at 6 months.  She ALWAYS woke up so happy and playful.

It was such a JOY to get her up every morning.  She slept with a lot of stuffed animals and especially loved her stuffed lamb that Mimi bought for her.  She would throw her stuffed animals out of her crib when she woke up from naps and in the morning.  Cooper always woke up earlier than Callie, and every morning he would BEG me to get Callie up.  I would always say no, we needed to wait until she woke up.  Once he heard the smallest peep out of her (she never cried, she would wake up "talking"), he would run in her room and say "good morning Callie" and they would both laugh and giggle.  Cooper also loved getting in her bed with her in the morning and they would just play and laugh.  They had a very special bond.  I could write a whole blog post about their special relationship.  They loved each other deeply.  Cooper, especially adored his sister.  He always wanted her around, he always wanted her to follow him, even though she was so independent and did her own thing.  They played really well together for the most part.  But when Callie had enough, she would let him know.  One time, they were both playing in Cooper's room and Cooper was tackling her (in his normal gentle way) as they were playing and she just had enough.  She went into her room and closed the door.  A couple minutes later I opened the door slightly to check on her and she was just sitting on the floor reading her books.  She just needed her space and her alone time :)

One of my big prayers for them that I prayed constantly was that they would be very close and best friends their entire lives.  It breaks my heart for Cooper that his best friend is no longer here.  It hurts to think that I will never see how close their relationship would be, how they would play together, fight together, and love on each other.  Cooper was VERY protective of his sister.  He looked out for her in public settings especially.  Just a few days before she died, a girl kept taking her cheerio cup away from Callie and put it in a place she couldn't reach.  Cooper would go get the cup and give it back to Callie.  After it continued to happen, Cooper got very upset and told her very sternly it was Callie's.  Another time, we were all at chicfila, and as we were about to leave, I went to throw some trash away before getting Callie and Cooper exclaimed "Mommy, CALLIE, CALLIE!!!"  Poor guy thought I would forget her.  I told him I would never forget his sister.   They would also hold hands often in the car.  He loved her, and he knew at a very young age his responsibility to be a big brother and what a privilege it was.

As Callie grew older, she became more feisty, fearless, independent and very opinionated. She knew exactly what she wanted and she had no problems letting you know.  She loved to shake her head no when she didn't want something, and she would clap when I would guess the right thing that she did want. We read to her before every nap and nighttime and she was very opinionated about what book she wanted to read.  I would pick out 2 or 3 (or 5 or books and she would push it away and shake her head no until I chose the one she wanted, and she then would sit quietly, listening to every word and help turn the pages.  She knew exactly what she wanted.  She also thought she was a big kid and wanted to keep up with her big brother.  She had no fear. She got very upset if she wasn't allowed to do some of the things he could do.  Our good friends went to the cemetery the day after the funeral with their kids who knew Callie.  They sang songs, drew pictures, and shared their favorite memory of Callie.  Their 4 year old son shared that he remembered Callie always wanting to play like a big girl at McDonalds.  I had to laugh because it's so true.  Callie did not want to miss out on all the fun the big kids were having.  I would find her halfway up climbing UP the tunnel slide and would have to crawl up the slide to get her out.  She definitely did not like me ruining her fun.

 The girl loved to eat and would pretty much eat anything we gave her.  Even from an early age, she never turned down food.  She was always heading to the fridge wanting a snack.  Before we ate a meal together she would fold her hands and say "pray, pray, pray" until we started praying.  She ate healthy and would eat well, but when she was done, she was DONE.  I was still working with her on not throwing food on the floor! Cooper never really did that, but this girl, she wanted to make a statement when she finished eating.  She also threw her water cup or milk sippy cup on the floor when she finished it.  Not just a little push on the floor...oh no, she would crank it back and literally throw it.  It was not funny at the time, but now we can look back and laugh...especially my parents who claim I did the exact same thing.

Callie was also very smart. She started saying words early on and knew a ton of words.  She "talked" and babbled a lot and understood everything we said.  She was observant, could read people, and always had the best facial expressions.  She can't hide her emotions and so many people told me that you knew exactly what Callie was thinking by her facial expressions.  She was shy at first, but would warm up pretty easily to new people and environments.  She was very adventurous and had no fear.  She would explore everywhere and wanted to go anywhere she wasn't "supposed" to go to.  I always said, when Callie is surrounded by 4 walls she is SO easy.  But get her in an open area with any type of exit and we would be chasing her around everywhere.  She wanted to explore the world.  She didn't care to stay close to mom or dad, but was so independent.  I had to watch her like a hawk especially compared to Cooper who will stay close by me.  Her first time at the beach, she wanted to go straight into the water and would if we would have let her.  She loved the water.  She found such joy playing in our water table outside, the baby pool, splash pads, water fountains...anything with water, she was there.  I changed her clothes often during the summer days since the kids wanted to go outside constantly to play in the water table and get soaking wet.

Callie was a very happy, joyful girl.  She had a zest for life and was friendly and sweet towards others. She made us smile everyday.  She laughed a lot and we called it her "hearty" laugh.  It was this deep, super cute laugh.  She would "dance" which would be her infamous twirl and would spin around in circles.  It was the cutest thing.  She also loved running up and down our long hallway from the front door to the back of the house.  I would comment "here comes Callie" and she would just run up and down "singing" in her little cute voice that moved up and down as she ran.  Cooper would sometimes join in with her as she would run.  She loved peppa pig like her big brother and it was the only show she would watch.  She would say "peppa, peppa" over and over again.  She also had a love for jungle book, which we still don't understand where it came from since she never watches movies.  The only thing I can think of is that it was Cooper's most favorite movie when I was pregnant with Callie and I wonder if she recognizes the sounds from the movie from the womb.  Whenever she was sick and needed a distraction, we would put on jungle book and it would calm her right down.  That movie will always hold a special place in our hearts.

Callie loved the outdoors and being outside like her brother.  She loved going for walks in the double stroller or the wagon and going to see the ducks.  She would always exclaim "duck, duck!!" when she would see the ducks.  She would go bring her shoes to me when she wanted to go outside to play.  There were times when she thought we were going in the garage to go for a walk, but we were actually getting in the car to go somewhere...well, she did NOT like that.  She wanted to get in her wagon or stroller, not get in the car.  I would have to tell Cooper to come in the car on her side so Callie would see that he is coming in the car with us.  She also loved the park and loved swinging.  We have a baby swing for her in our backyard and in the evenings I would push her in the swing while she watched her daddy and brother play baseball and football together.  She was so content just swinging and watching them.  She didn't want to get out when it was time to go in and take a bath.  She also loved her baths.  The kids would take a bath together every night and have a blast together splashing and playing with all the toys.

Callie loved her family.  She didn't really have a favorite person, as she loved each of us in her own way.  She did of course have a very special bond with her Daddy.  Everyday he would come home from work, I would announce "daddy's home!!" and Callie would squeal and laugh and run into his arms.  She wasn't as affectionate with us as Cooper is, but when she gave you hugs and kisses, it was special.  Justin texted me the day that she passed away before putting her down for a nap and said that she leaned in and gave him a kiss, which melted his heart.  She was a master of blowing kisses though.  Whenever we said goodnight to Callie she would blow kisses over and over again to everyone.  If we told her to tell someone bye bye, she would just blow them kisses instead.

Dancing with daddy

She loved wearing hats
I am so blessed to have known Callie for the 9 months I carried her, and the 18 months on this earth.  She is a special little girl, full of life and brought joy to everyone around her.   She is deeply loved and we miss her terribly.  I miss her laugh, her smile and hearing her call me "mama" over and over again.   Even on the day she passed away, she had such a fun day, smiling, laughing and spending time with her family.  We are grieving but we grieve with HOPE. We know we will see her again and she is with Jesus.  We love you sweet girl... a day does not go by that we won't think of you.  You are the most beautiful, loving, and sweetest little girl and it is a joy to call you daughter.  We will see you soon...

Thursday, July 14, 2016

A New Chapter

As most of you have heard by now, our beautiful girl, Callie Grace passed away suddenly on July 4th. It has been 10 days now since we lost her, and it has been by far the hardest and longest 10 days of my life.  It is only by the Grace of God that I am able to wake up every morning and put one foot in front of the other.  The pain of losing her is so deep and some days feel so dark that it can be hard to breathe.  But God is Faithful, His grace is sufficient.  The verse that I am clinging to at this time is Lamentations 3:19-25

"Remember my affliction and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall!  My soul continually remembers it and it bowed down within me.  But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope; The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  "The Lord is my portion," says my soul, "therefore I will hope in him." The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him."

Great is Thy Faithfulness is the song we sang to Callie every night and it was also one of the songs we sang at her funeral.  My heart is broken, but I know that God is good and He is faithful.  I know He has a greater purpose and I have absolutely no idea what He is doing.  I often wonder, Lord, why me?  Why us?  Why Cooper?  And I will never know why, but I trust and know there is purpose.  This is NOT meaningless.  God is using Callie's short life for a greater good I will not know this side of heaven. Joy is coming, God always keeps his promises, and we have hope.  The Lord will not forsake me, and He will give me a lifetime of grace.  This is not a trial that will go away in a few months, or a few years, this is a trial I will endure throughout my lifetime.  But His Grace is so great and I know He will give me the grace I need every minute, every hour, everyday, for the rest of my life.

I do not say all this to get a pat on the back, and for everyone to think how wonderful I am doing.  Because I'm not doing wonderful, I hurt deeply and I have been in dark places.  I even found myself just this morning dwelling in self pity listening to myself instead of preaching truth to myself.  So I needed to write.  I needed to continue to preach truth and scripture and listening to the truth of God's Word.

I try hard not to live in regret, but there are a lot of things I think about that I regret.  I regret not kissing her one last time.  I regret not fighting for her health more at the doctor when both my husband and I felt like something was wrong with her when she kept getting unexplained fevers.  I regret not soaking in every moment I had with her the weeks before she passed.  I also regret that I stopping blogging about her.  I blogged throughout Cooper's life, but I stopped at Callie's at 4 months old.  Why did I do that?  I know I was busy and had a lot going on with raising 2 small kids, but I so wish I would not have stopping blogging about her.  So this is one reason why I started this blog again.  This is for me, not for everyone else to read or to get likes or page views.  This is for me to process, to honor Callie, and maybe one day the Lord will use it to minister to someone who may go through this horrible tragedy.

Thank you for being on this journey with us, thank you for your constant prayers and love.  We grieve with Hope, knowing we will see her again.  While everyone's life is getting back to normal, we are trying to find our new normal here as a family of 3.  My next blog post will be all about Callie, about the amazing person the Lord created and how she was a true joy and delight to our family.  It is a true honor to be her Mom.

P.S. There is one thing I feel the need to get off my chest.  I have been through 2 miscarriages, and it was extremely painful...BUT it is absolutely not even close to the pain of losing a child.  Callie was a child, yes she was young, but she wasn't even an infant.  She was a child.  Please try not to compare the loss of my child to the loss of a miscarriage or stillborn.  This is not to say having a miscarriage or stillborn isn't painful, because it most definitely is very painful. But it's just not the same as losing a child.  I say this with love and not anger and with not one specific person in mind at all.  Just something that has continually come up that I feel l wanted to share.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Happy 3rd Birthday Cooper!

I can't believe my baby boy, my first born is now 3 years old!  Didn't he just look like this??

What can I say about Cooper?  He is a very sweet and compassionate kid.  He is extremely observant and has been that way since he was a newborn.  He will sit back and observe for awhile before he joins in sometimes.  He is very shy at first and needs about 5 minutes (sometimes longer) in any new situation that he is placed in before he starts to feel comfortable.  If you play with him on the floor for a few minutes, you have already won him over.  He is the type of kid that will have 3 very close friends that he will be loyal to than 20 acquaintances.  He has such a sweet and tender heart!  He can recognize when anyone is sad and will just stare at them with a very concerned look or try to comfort them if it's someone he knows well.  If someone gets hurts, he gets very concerned and will even talk about it days and days later.  He is also my snuggle bug!  He is incredibly affectionate and loves to hug, kiss and cuddle all the time.  He is a typical first born rule follower and is well behaved at school and with other people (though not always with me) :)  

Though he can be shy and quiet sometimes, he is also hilarious and so much fun at home and when he is comfortable.  Sometimes it makes me sad that other people don't get to see his true personality come out, but I so love how God created him.  He is ALL BOY and loves to be outside, running all around the house, climbing and jumping off things, playing guitar, and ALL sports.  He knows the Aggies and will say "Go Aggies, or Woohoo touchdown Aggies" anytime there is a football game on.  He also gets to watch some baseball with daddy on some evenings since Daddy loves watching the Astros.  He has an amazing arm and can throw any ball very hard.  He has also mastered hitting the ball off the tee.  His new favorite activity is playing football with Daddy in the backyard.  He will get the ball like he is about the hike it, all while shouting out some numbers and phases (that he learned from daddy), and then he takes off running with the ball trying to get away before Justin tackles him.  Though secretly he is dying to be tackled and giggles and giggles the whole time.  It's pretty much the cutest thing ever.  

He is also the SWEETEST big brother ever.  I don't know how he understands that he is her big brother and that he is supposed to look after her but he clearly takes this seriously (most of the time…haha).  He gets concerned if she rolls over, spits up, or does anything that could maybe bother her.  The other day we were at chicfila and as we were about to leave, I got up to throw away some trash while Callie was still in the high chair.  Cooper freaked out that I was going to leave Callie.  Sweet boy, I won't forget your sister, but thank you for looking out for her.  He also gives her sweet hugs and kisses all day, every day.  He LOVES playing with her and they are so cute in the bath tub together.  Of course, Cooper is still 3 years old and can still be a little rough sometimes.  He loves "playing" with her on the floor which includes tackling her.  He is usually fairly gentle, but Callie will definitely let him know that she has had enough!  Between daddy and big brother, I'm not sure any guy will be good enough to date her :)

To Celebrate and Remember Cooper at 3 years old, here are his current favorite things:

Favorite thing he is into:  DINOSAURS!  He is obsessed with Dinosaurs right now, hence the reason he is having a dinosaur birthday theme. 
Favorite Color:  Blue
Favorite Movie:  Jungle Book and Robin Hood.  He has gone through phases of loving Toy Story, Lion King and Frozen, but Jungle Book and Robin Hood remain his favorites
Favorite TV show:  PEPPA PIG.  
Best Friends:  Hudson and Maddie
Favorite Song:  How Great Thou Art.  This is the song we sing to him every night and he loves it
Favorite Snack:  Popsicles (a.k.a. "supples") and homemade smoothies
Favorite Food:  Pizza, and Tuna (yes he eats tuna almost everyday for lunch)
Favorite Drink:  Chocolate Milk
Favorite Resturant:  Chicfila
Favorite Stuffed Animal:  The red river hog that Justin bought him at the zoo that he picked out.  His name is Tiki
Favorite Toy:  Anything Dinosaur, Trains, and his Noah's Ark animals 
Favorite Book:  Jesus Storybook Bible, Steam Train Dream Train, When Dinosaur's say Goodnight
Favorite Activity:  Bouncing Bears and the Zoo

Happy Birthday Cooper, we are so thankful for you!!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Callie is 4 months old!

Okay, the blog has been a little sad lately with only monthly updates of Callie that I'm sure are boring to most people….but it's a great place for me to write everything down and to look back on it.  I might be able to start blogging more again now that I have my evenings back  (more on that below).
So here is what is going on with this precious one at 4 months!

We went in for her 4 month check up this week and she weighs 12lbs 13oz (22nd%ile) Height:  24.75'' (66%ile), Head: 15.98'' (52%ile).  The Doctor says she is growing right on tract though I have been somewhat worried about my milk supply keeping up with her…but she is one happy baby and she sure would tell me if she was hungry.

Eating:  I'm still exclusively breastfeeding her and it is going very well.  I'm finally at the point where it is actually easy now and I understand what everyone was talking about.  I still hate nursing in public as I'm not very good at doing it modestly so that is a little stressful sometimes.  I now even nurse her on one side at a time which is a big improvement and doesn't take near as long as before.  She nurses about 5 times during the day and usually once at night.  It's so nice to finally have a routine.  We will probably start some food this month so that will be fun!

Sleeping:  Praise the Lord, Callie is sleeping like a champ!!  She has turned into a completely different baby this month in regards to sleeping.  She used to FIGHT sleep so badly!  It was so bad that it would take literally hours for her to go down to sleep for the night.  Every.Single.Evening since Callie has been born, Justin and I would take turns holding her, walking around the house, shushing (if that is a word), and rocking her to get her to sleep.  The colic was just rough in the evenings and she cried so much.  She would usually finally fall asleep in our arms, but then once we put her down, she would wake up.  So we would go through about 3 of those cycles every night until finally she just gave up and would stay asleep around 11 or 12am.  The evenings were stressful and we weren't able to do anything!  But now…Oh.My.Goodness, it truly is a miracle that she goes to sleep completely on her own!  No rocking, no walking around…I just lay her in her crib awake, and she turns on her side, sucks her thumb and falls fast to sleep.  Every now and then she will cry for about 5 minutes, but that is nothing compared to where we were.  It's also a miracle that she is in her own crib and her room and doesn't need to be swaddled.  She never slept well unless she was in her rock and play and swaddled.  I was even doing research about how to wean your baby off swaddling.  This all pretty much happened on her own one evening and she hasn't turned back.  The other night, I put Callie down at 8, and Justin and I were able to watch a movie and relax the entire evening.  I kept saying "do you remember how awful our evenings used to be? I can't believe we can just relax and watch a movie together!"  It has made a world of difference to us, we can actually spend time together again and I can blog or do other stuff I need to get done…woohoo!

After I put her to bed at 8pm, she will usually wake up once at night to eat, around 4-5am but then go back to sleep.  She then sleeps until 8am, and sometimes later if she didn't nap well the day before.  I have her on a 2 hour schedule so she is awake for 2 hours and then naps for 2 hours (if I'm lucky). So if she wakes up at 8am, she will nap at 10am, 2pm and then a cat nap at 5:30pm.  Sometimes she will only nap 45 minutes and sometimes 2 hours depending on the day.  We are rarely home all day so then her naps end up being in the car or the stroller.

Milestones: Callie is a pro at rolling over. She can roll over from back to stomach and stomach to back but most of the time she rolls over on her stomach and just stays there.  She also started sucking her thumb this month, but mainly when she is sleepy and going to bed.  It's awesome that she can soothe her self to sleep.  She also moved into her own room and crib, and goes to sleep on her own.  She has just started to really interact with Cooper and notice him.  Cooper is always giving her hugs and kisses and now Callie will try to touch him and grab him, which Cooper isn't too thrilled about.

Trying to play with her stuffed lamb

Likes:  She pretty much likes everything right now.  Baths, going for walks, being outside, being around people, her daddy and brother.  I think she will be a people person because she seems to always do well around other people and out and about.  Good thing she is my 2nd child since we are out and about a lot more than if she was my 1st.

Looking back at Cooper's monthly updates, 4 months was also a very easy and fun age for him. I know once she is mobile, things will get more interesting, so I'm going to enjoy and soak in this sweet age.

Sweet girl sucking her thumb

Couldn't believe she fell asleep in the mamaroo!
We love you Callie Grace!  You are such a joy to us!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Callie is 3 Months Old!

We made it!  Callie is now 3 months old!

My baby girl is no longer a newborn anymore and has graduated to a baby!  Yippee!  The newborn stage was very rough for both of my kids and I have always said things gets SO much better at 3 months, and it has been so true for Callie.

The first 2 and a half months for us were very hard.  Going from 1 kid to 2 was hard enough, but on top of having a colicky/reflux baby made it much harder.  We tried everything to help Callie, but I think it was just something she had to grow out of.  I read that colic babies peak at 2 months and then gets much better by 3 months and that was exactly what happened.  The past 2 weeks, she has turned into a completely different baby.  She is content and happy and cries for normal reasons!  It has made a WORLD of difference for everyone that she is so much better.

She still has bad relux and she will swallow it which makes her choke and cough a lot.  It sounds pretty scary sometimes especially when she is in the car where I can't get to her.  Cooper would always spit it out so there was spit up everywhere.  Callie will still spit up, but not near as much as Cooper did since she swallows it.  She is on stronger relux medicine that she is able to get down easily so that has helped a lot.  I am ready for her reflux to get better!  Poor baby girl!

Eating:  Breastfeeding is going so much better and she is getting a lot faster lately.  She eats about every 3-4 hours now.  I used to have to nurse her just to calm her down when she was inconsolable, but I haven't had to do that for awhile.  She still will not take a bottle and I think I've given up on trying anymore.  I don't pump anymore since it's hard to find the time to do it, and every time I did it, she wouldn't take it so it would go to waste.  I am glad that I am able to exclusively breastfeed her though so I can't complain.

Sleeping:   A couple of weeks ago Callie went from waking up once at  night to waking up 2-3 times at night to eat.  I'm guessing it was a growth spurt and then this past week she actually slept 12 hour straight for the first time!  It was glorious!  She also caught her first cold from big brother and has turned into a cough and her voice is hoarse which is so sad to hear.  I think she might be tough like her brother because she hasn't been more fussy with the cold or sleeping bad.  She has fallen into somewhat of a schedule taking 3 naps a day, sometimes 4 if the naps are short or in the car/stroller.  She wakes up at different times in the morning, sometime 8am and sometimes if I feed her around 5 or 6 she will go back to sleep and sleep until 10am.  I still swaddle her and she sleeps in our room at night, and in her crib for naps.  After she gets past this cold,  I'm ready for her to move into her room at night.  Evenings can still be hard, especially putting her to bed for the night.  She can go down for naps fairly easily, but putting her to bed at night, she fights it so hard.  I really have no idea why she does this, but I'm sure she will get better at it.

Milestones: She has smiled real big this month which is so nice for this tired mama!  She also coos and "talks"  and it's so sweet.  She doesn't like tummy time and isn't close to rolling over like her big brother did at just 10 weeks.  Of course her biggest milestone is she is a content and happy baby now for the most part.  She is getting more and more fun each day!

Likes: Her favorite thing right now is her playmat.  She can lay on her back for a long time just batting at all the toys.  She also loves her baths and could stay in there forever it seems.  She is getting better at being in the car.  There were times that she would cry the entire time in car for 30 minutes straight which was hard.  She also likes being outside and going for walks in the stroller.  She of course loves her big brother and the feeling is definitely mutual.

Cooper wanted to get in on the picture taking of course!  He is the sweetest big brother, giving her kisses constantly and asking where she is all the time.  If she is on her play mat, Cooper will lay right next to her and put his arm around her.  I am so thankful for these 2! What a gift :)