Friday, January 29, 2016

Hospital Stay with Chantzlyn

{If you missed Chantzlyn Hope's birthing story complete with pictures by the talented Micah of Double Knot Photography you can go back and read part one HERE and then read part two HERE  to catch up on the full story before you read the rest of the story. }

There is so, so, so much that I could write regarding our stay at the hospital with Chantzlyn Hope after she was born.  To say that it was an emotional roller coaster would be an understatement.  No matter what was said to prepare us for our adoption, it honestly didn't prepare our hearts.

There was so much that took place in just a short day and a half that I feel as though I could fill up an entire library of writing.... but I'd like to try to keep it short and not give a minute by minute play book.  Because honestly, it's hard to go back and relive some of the emotions because in some ways it's still so fresh and raw that I find myself sitting, typing, and just crying and pouring my heart out to the Lord again.

Let me first say that Jess and her family were so kind, and so gracious, and so gentle and so loving.  They truly are so precious.  The feelings that are hard are just hard because adoption takes your heart into uncharted territories where it's never been before.  And most of us were running on slim to no sleep at all which we all know sets our emotions stronger.

So, Chantzlyn and I had a long night the first night in the hospital.  She cluster fed ALL night long every 30 minutes.  There was a lot that went on that first night and early the next morning with the nursing staff and Jess that unfortunately helped played into an even more emotional day.  I don't want to go into all the details, but unfortunately the hospital stay wasn't all roses and sunshine and the devil tried to have his hand in on our situation.

Chantzlyn, Lantz and I finally made it back to Jess's room around 9:00am.  We all hung out together all day in Jess's room.  Jess had some friends come by, our family came back up to say hi again, Jess's case worker came up, and Jess's family hung out all day too.  It was another emotional day and again I think that with the way some things happened in the hospital that were out of our control and Jess's control- it made for an even more emotional and anxious time.

Because there was so much that went on with the hospital, I really didn't take many of my own pictures that day.  I was a little distracted.  I have a few of family and of us together-- my mom brought our "Choose Hope" shirts to Abilene with her so we put them on for the day. I also got a picture of Calvin holding Chantzlyn and few pictures of Jess with Chantzlyn that I thought turned out very pretty and captured their love.

The thing that sticks out most about the day was the night.  It was late and all the visitors had gone for the day and it was just Lantz, Jess, Chantzlyn and myself hanging out.  It was a beautiful time-- maybe one of my favorites in my lifetime.  Lantz went and got Ben & Jerry ice cream that we all passed around.  We laughed and joked with Jess about some things, but the best part of the night was getting to share the Gospel with Jess.  Getting to share what Jesus had done in our lives and how we had found salvation in Him and what He had done in our lives, was priceless.  We got to remind Jess of God's great love for her and how much HE longed for her to be with HIM and to find salvation in the waters of baptism.

This moment brings me to tears every time I think about it because it was a rare time where all 3 of us bared our hearts to one another... it was a time I truly felt the Holy Spirit's presence.  It was the thinest space between earth and the Kingdom of God that I have ever experienced.  Something happened that night for me, and I pray also that something happened that night for Jess. It is a time that I never want to forget and a moment that Lantz and I talk about all the time because it meant so much to us. Lantz refers to it as "thin space."  We long for more moments of "thin space" in our walk with God.

It was raw.  It was again... emotional.  It was beautiful.  I felt grateful that the Lord gifted us with that special time with just Jess.  It was a late night... one that I think each of us secretly didn't want to end.

And in the middle of all our talking my sweet friend Natalie kept texting me to check in on us.  She was so sweet and in my honesty I told her it was hard.... harder than I ever thought.  A few minutes later, she sent me a link.  Click HERE to see what she sent.

It was a YouTube video of Kristene DiMarco & Bethel Music.  You really should listen to it... it's beautiful.  I can't even listen to it to this day without tears streaming down my face.  It brings back every feeling in that hospital.  It is a song that I went onto listen to over and over and over in that hospital and even late at night while breastfeeding Chantzlyn weeks and months after leaving that place and that time.  It reminds me of when the Lord carried me.

The lyrics that say, "Through it all, through it all my eyes are on you..."and "Let go my soul and trust in HIM, the waves and wind still know His name,"  move me in ways that I can't explain.  I found comfort in those words and I still do because it reminds me of His promises found in scripture and how it's not about me at all, but about Him.

My friend has no idea the gift that she gave me in that moment of sending that song for me to listen to.  I will forever treasure it and her.  I'd like to have part of the lyrics put on a piece of jewelry soon.  I think it would be a good reminder for me to wear.  {I have my eye on one of these awesome custom cuffs by Farmgirl Paints.  Her work is gorgeous and I've been drooling over it all for awhile now.}

Lantz eventually said goodnight to us and Jess held Chantzlyn for a time while I tried to sleep.  I got up to feed her at different points and Jess and I both tried to get a little sleep in between Chantzlyn eating and stirring.

Morning came soon enough and it was another full emotional day just waiting to greet us. I think we all felt the lurking of the afternoon when Jess was supposed to sign her rights away.  As mentioned in a previous blog, I couldn't help but feel like the villain.  I could see how much she loved Chantzlyn and I just couldn't help but feel like the bad guy.  I kept feeling like I was taking this precious young ladies baby from her .... I kept having to push those thoughts out of my head and let the Lord remind me to be faithful to Him and remind me that this was the path of love that Jess chose.

I prayed so much the entire time we were in the hospital... I bared my heart to the Lord in ways that I never had before.  And as much as I loved Chantzlyn and as much as I knew I wanted her to be my daughter, I could never once muster the words, "Lord, please let Jess sign and not change her mind."  I couldn't do it.  I didn't want to "take" a baby from someone no matter how strong my love was.  My prayer was something like this:" Lord, you know my heart and our family, Lord you know Jess and her heart and what she needs, and Lord you know this sweet baby more than any of us know her.  Lord you know what is best for each one of us.  May your will be done and your name be known no matter what the outcome.  Please go before each of us.  God, show us your love by allowing what's best for each of us to happen.  Hold our hands through it all, and protect us all as a loving Father. Guide Jess into your presence and may she know You."   Over and over I prayed similar prayers for the Lord to guide each of us and hold us.  It was a time of vulnerability and faith when I knew the spirit needed to intercede on my part and needed to lead my thoughts to the Lord and to His Kingdom.

In some ways it felt like the longest day ever.  I wondered what the end of the day would hold for us. My heart ached in anticipation.

Jess's parents made their way back up to the hospital early that morning and we all just hung out together again. I snapped a few pictures of Chantzlyn and also one of Gail and her.

Jess bought Chantzlyn the most beautiful going home outfit {that I'll be saving for Chantzlyn to one day dress her own daughter in, Lord willing} and she soon got her dressed in it.  She wasn't a happy camper getting changed, but my goodness did she look so pretty in it!  I love that Jess picked this outfit for her.  I think it's so neat to have a special going home outfit and to be able to have it as a keepsake.  I LOVE that Chantzlyn will have this forever from the woman who chose to give her life and hope.

Jess's case worker came up to the hospital some time that afternoon and eventually Lantz and I were asked to leave the room so they could talk and do paperwork.  It was the time Jess was supposed to sign her rights away. We hugged her neck and cried and left Chantzlyn with her as we headed to our room to wait.

To wait and wait and wait.  We had no way of knowing what was said or what was taking place.  We just sat in our room and held each other and cried out to God in prayer.  I was so thankful to have Lantz to walk through everything with me.  He truly is my better half and my compass that helps keep pointing me to Jesus.  It felt as though we waited forever, but I really have no idea how long it took.

Eventually Jess's case worker came and told us that Jess signed her papers.  I think I feel apart in that moment and a flood of love rushed over me.  The case worker said that before we could go back to Jess's room to get Chantzlyn and say our goodbyes to Jess (or  our "see ya laters," because it wasn't going to be goodbye) that we too had to do a little paperwork.

After all of our papers were signed and filled out we all headed back to Jess's room.  We all hugged and cried and loved each other in that moment.  We also all circled up to pray together.  After the prayer we proceeded to cry more and hug more and then proceeded to say "goodbye."  Jess placed Chantzlyn in my arms and it was as if she had handed me the whole world.  My heart was more than full.

Jess was wheeled out of the hospital and we had to take Chantzlyn back to the nursery to do a final vital check before she could be released.  Lantz's mom and the girls came up to the hospital.  We thought it would just be a few minutes until we got to leave, but we ended up being at the hospital for another hour and a half because Chantzlyn needed to stay under the warmer because her body temperature had to be at 98.6 before they released her.  It was only .2 or .4 degrees under, but we had to wait for it to go back up.  While waiting I had good conversation with Jess's case worker and an intern.  Chantzlyn's temperature finally went up and they officially released her.

We got a picture of Lantz, Chantzlyn and myself and a picture of {almost} all of us-- Preslee was with Brenda because she couldn't last much longer inside at the hospital.  Then we got a few of Lantz buckling Chantzlyn in to leave the hospital and finally one of all SIX of us before we got into the van to go home.

We eventually were able to leave the hospital and it felt good to have all SIX of us together.

We loaded everyone up in our van and we were ready to head back home to McKinney.  We hadn't planned on getting on the road so late in the evening, but we were definitely all ready to get home.  It was a long drive with 4 girls, but it felt good to finally make it home with everyone in tow.

 {Stay tuned in to the blog for all of our fall & holiday adventures as a family}.  I'm hoping to catch this blog up to speed!}

Monday, January 25, 2016

Chantzlyn's Birth Story- Part 2

So..... if you didn't read Part 1 of this story, you really should go back and do that before diving right into the middle of this.  You can click HERE to go back to read Part 1 and see some gorgeous pictures taken by the talented Micah Schmidt of Double Knot Photography

After my sweet girl took my finger I was in heaven.  My heart melted right there and again all I wanted to do was scoop her up, and kiss her, and tell her how much I loved her and how I had waited for her and how I had prayed for her.  I can't even remember NOT crying... I think that's how much I cried! Ha!

Jess's dad soon came over to look at Chantzlyn too and he took me in his arms and I lost it.  It was an uncontrollable ugly cry.  All my emotions came to the surface and they blared themselves in the form of my tears.  I stayed nestled in his arms for a few seconds or minutes {who knows?!} until I gained control of myself again.

I couldn't take my eyes off of her.... she was so beautiful and so perfect. I totally forgot about Lantz and I'm sure his deep desire to meet his daughter.  All I could do was get lost in her....

The nurse kept plugging away getting all of her measurements.  So much yellow measuring tape!  Calvin and I stood close and watched all the details and I kept singing "Jesus Loves Me" to her over and over.  I gave Jess a recording of me singing "Jesus Love Me" while she was pregnant to play for Chantzlyn so that my voice might be a little familiar.  Through this, Gail stayed close to Jess's side.  Before Dr. Tadvick left the room he talked with Jess for a few minutes and then again prayed with her and for her.  Such a sweet, sweet man.  I pray the Lord continues to bless his practice and reign blessings on him & his family for the way that he shows God's love to his patients.  What an honorable Christian man!

I don't know if at some point I finally remembered Lantz or if someone suggested that I go get him, but I eventually pulled myself away from my sweet Chantzlyn and hurried down the hall to retrieve Lantz as quick as possible.  As we walked back in the room the nurse had just finished wrapping Chantzlyn up in a blanket and was handing her back to Jess as we came in.

Lantz got his first look at his daughter while she was snuggled up close to Jess. Jess & Chantzlyn  had another beautiful moment together.  So, so sweet, and you can see the love just radiating out of the pictures, but again it was a hard moment for me.  Thoughts of Jess doubting her decision flooded my mind and a love enveloping me that only wanted to hold my daughter.... and again the Lord being present and stilling my mind and heart and allowing me to just love in that moment and continue to be patient.

Lantz and I both were consumed with tears as we watched Jess pour her own tears over Chantzlyn.  I don't know what her thoughts were in that moment, but my heart ached for her and for what she was going through.  I could never imagine being in her shoes and I know that whatever emotion I was feeling I'm sure it paled in comparison to Jess's.   She was so brave and so strong and you could see the love oozing from her for this sweet and beautiful baby girl. She just kept saying over and over, "I love her so much... she's so beautiful."

In some ways through the adoption process you can't help but feel like the villain.... you feel your the bad guy "taking" someone else's baby away- like you are the one causing all the painn for the birth mother.  Those feelings were there the entire hospital stay-- on steroids.  It's hard, and I can honestly say that those feelings haven't really gone away-- they have lessened, but not diminished. As much as you are reminded that this is what Jess chose and she picked us... it's hard to not feel like you did something wrong- that you are the one that has caused all the pain and heart ache.  All I could do then and all I can do now is to pray for God to rid me of feelings that are from Satan and pray for healing, comfort, peace and love for Jess.

The nurse came back over and pulled Chantzlyn's cute little feet out of her blanket and put ink on them so we could get her official feet prints. So cute!

Soon after that Jess said something about, "Lantz I bet you are wanting to hold her!"  I think we both lit up with excitement, although I'd be lying if I said I wasn't slightly jealous because I had yet to hold that sweet girl of mine! Ha!  But... he had been super patient too and hadn't gotten to be present during the birthing, so I guess in some ways it was okay that he got to hold her before me.

And then finally, after Lantz had a few precious moments with our baby girl, my time came!  I got down to my tank top to be able to have a little skin to skin time with Chantzlyn, but more importantly to feed her.  I can't even tell you how amazing it was to be able to feed this sweet, sweet daughter of mine.... to know that I could give her something that would be life-giving to her. I was so thankful to have had that opportunity and to this day count it as such a blessing.  And let me tell you, this sweet girl wasted no time!  Out of all four of my girls this one latched on the BEST and knew exactly what to do.  I was a bit worried that since I had been feeding Preslee that my milk flow would be too much and I might drown her out a bit, but she did AMAZING!  She just sucked away and got exactly what she needed.

Soon after eating Jess's parents (who were super patient) finally got their chance to hold Chantzlyn.  It was so sweet to see each of them love on her and look at her with such excitement.  Gail held Chantzlyn first and then Calvin quickly followed.  He is totally a baby person, so I'm sure it was hard for him to wait that long to hold Chantzlyn too, and I'm kinda surprised Gail held her before him!

One of my fondest memories was Calvin holding Chantzlyn in his arms and then him asking for us to all come close to pray.  I'm so thankful for that time.  It was so beautiful... he prayed for Chantzlyn and Jess and for us.  He and Gail have been such an example of faith to us and there are so many ways that they live the Kingdom out in their lives.  Again, it is not my story to tell, but there is a beautiful story of love there, and if you are reading this than you should know how insanely special these people are and how serious they take the Gospel and how much they try to live in a Christ-like way.  They are beautiful people.

We all took turns holding Chantzlyn and soaking up her "newness." It was like pass the baby!  We all wanted just a few more special minutes with her.  Micah got a few "posed" pictures of us all with Chantzlyn as we each smiled so big-- all so happy she was finally here!

The nurse took her back to the warmer and did a fe more vitals and also did her little tiny feet prints again.  The nurse started wiping her down and give her a "bath" or a "spit bath" as we like to call it.  It was at this time (around 5:30) that Lantz and I disappeared to the lobby to go get Chantzlyn's big sisters who were each so anxious and excited to meet their new baby!

I love to look at the pictures of the girls checking out their sister for the first time!  The pictures say it all completely!  Kennedie is SO excited, Sawyer is scared, and Preslee really isn't sure what to think in the beginning! Ha!

While the girls were meeting their new baby sister, I could tell it was a hard moment for Jess.  I knew it must have been so hard for her to watch our family admire this beautiful new baby that she gave life too.  I didn't know what to do in the moment.  Lantz and I both cried as Jess's parents and nurse tried to comfort her and as we watched with our big girls Chantzlyn finishing up her bath.

Chantzlyn finished out her bath by getting her hair washed.  I love the pictures Micah got at that time, because my sweet baby is so bright-eyed and looking around at that time.  The girls loved watching her get her hair washed! And of course, after bath we had to find a bow for Miss Chantzlyn while she "sunned" under her warmer for a bit longer. At one point I couldn't take it anymore, because my heart hurt so bad, that I had to leave the girls and go over and just hold Jess.  I desperately wanted her to know how grateful we were, and how much we loved not only Chantzlyn, but also her.

The big sisters took in everything.  They hung on every word that each nurse said and didn't want to leave their baby sisters' side. Preslee even held Chantzlyn's hand while the nurse checked her heart beat.... and of course Sawyer wanted to make sure she got a hand hold in as well! Soon after Chantzlyn got all bundled back up we attempted our first family of SIX {crazy!} picture-- of which Preslee had no desire to partake in! Ha!

Right around 6:00 Lantz went back to the lobby to get the proud grandparents.  Our parents were so awesome to travel all the way to Abilene to help with the big girls and to be there for the birth of their next granddaughter.  The adoption journey is a long process and as much as it's worth it in every aspect, it is a hard journey.... and it was a path that we chose.  Our family didn't necessarily get to pick whether or not they wanted to go down that path, but they followed our lead and gave love all along the way.  We are so grateful for the way our family has supported our desire to adopt, and they truly have loved Chantzlyn just like their other grandchildren.  They have been amazing!

So, needless to say they were each excited to meet sweet Chantzlyn!  Mom even wore her green "Choose Hope" shirt too!  Lantz's mom had had a chance to meet Jess previously, but it was my parents first time to get to meet her.  It probably was a bit awkward for all of us, because there is not a script for this kind of thing... but again, the Lord went before each of us and He was gracious to us all in that moment.  I'm just so thankful for all the love that was present in that room.  We each were brought together by the Lord for us to love a sweet and precious little baby.

The grandmothers took turns holding their sweet new granddaughter and then of course big sisters wanted a chance to hold Chantzlyn.  Then my dad took his turn holding our sweet new baby girl and giving her some loving.   Soon after that, one of Calvin, Gail, and Jess's friends, Pam came up to say hi and meet Chantzlyn, so of course she had a turn holding her too.  And, then we all kind of passed her around-- each of giving her the love that we could in each moment.  Of course, during all this we tried as best we could to contain Preslee!

Around 6:00 Gail brought Brayden, Jess's son, up to meet Chantzlyn and to see his Mommy.  Calvin brought him to the room & he was so excited!  It was so fun for him to come up to the hospital and meet her!   And boy was he excited to see his Mommy! He was so sweet to share some of his hugs with Lantz, Brenda and me.  We had all met him before, so we were familiar faces to him.

I got to change her first poopy diaper and then while she was under the warmer again, Brayden snuck in a few kisses and then wanted to hold her!

At one point we actually were able to get a few pictures of the six of us that I love. Yay!

We got Jess a "push present" since after the birth of each of the other girls there was a push present involved.  We decided to go ahead and give that to her.  We wrote her a note and gave her a necklace from The Vintage Pearl {Love that place!  It's also where each of "push presents" were from.}.  We called the store and had them combine a few different pieces that they offered.  We wanted to give Jess something that would remind her of us and Chantzlyn and of God's faithfulness.  We picked an anchor to stand for "Hope"-- Hope in Jesus and of course Chantzlyn Hope.  We also had TVP add a coordinates charm to the necklace with the GPS coordinates of Abilene Christian Homes because that is where our stories all intersected.

I was also excited to get a bracelet with Chantzlyn's name on it to match the other girls.  It's also from The Vintage Pearl. I love the way that all four of them look together.  My plan is to wear them for a few years, and then put them in a safe place to give them each on a special birthday-- not sure what year yet.

Jess got Chantzlyn some really sweet little outfits and she wanted to put one on her.  I loved it and I thought that Chantzlyn just looked so precious in it!

Eventually all the grandparents left and took the big girls and at some point Gail took Brayden home.  We also said goodbye to our sweet birth photographer, Micah.  She was so wonderful and truly was a joy to be around.  She was amazing and stayed right by our sides all day long.  Again, you should check out her work at Double Knot Photography and pass her information onto anyone in the Abilene or West Texas area.  I really can't say enough great things about Micah and my prayer for her is that the Lord continues to shine His face upon her & bless her in her family, her photography, but most importantly that He would continue to use her in His Kingdom work.

It was a long but incredibly blessed day.  At around 8:00 they moved us into different rooms to free up the birthing room for other expectant moms.  They moved Jess to a recovery room and the hospital gave Lantz, me and Chantzlyn a room to stay in.  The hospital was pretty full and so they let us stay down in a room close to the nursery labeled "Lactation Room."  It had a non-hospital bed with non-hospital type bedding, a small table and a fold out couch. It had a bathroom and sink, but no shower.  Chantzlyn stayed the night with us that night since I was breastfeeding her.  And boy, was I feeding her.  Sweet girl didn't want to stop eating.  I was up with her all night as she cluster fed almost every 30 minutes.  Lantz crashed out on the fold out couch.

It truly was a whirlwind of a blessed kind of day.

Below are picture from the rest of the day.  If you missed Part One and the birthing pictures you can click HERE to go back to read & see those pictures.

Stay tuned for the rest of the story.....