God Said No.

God Said No.

In February, my husband and I opened our hearts and home as we chose to be parents to three little girls. Even though I did not carry them in my womb, I loved them deeply and I was their mom. Adopting 8-month-old triplets changed my entire world. Then, after three months of being their mom, I found myself begging God not take one of them away from me. And on May 28th, God said no. We did everything we could to try and save her. We prayed harder than we have ever prayed before and we petitioned God and doctors to help our baby. Before Ruthie’s kidneys failed, I spent the night patting her chest to try and clear her lungs. Then around 2am, I called Konrad to tell him that he needed to get to the hospital as soon as possible. She was fading. Up to that point, we told doctors to keep working on her and always try and resuscitate her, but they had nothing left to do for her medically. I could not bear the thought of Ruthie going to heaven without me holding her, so we implemented DNR, so she could spend her last moments in our embrace. Konrad was so kind and let them put her in my arms. I held her for what only seemed like minutes, but according to everyone else, was a few hours. Konrad held our other two girls- Ruthie’s triplet sisters, who would never get the chance to know her and see for themselves how truly amazing she was. We wept, thanked God for her life, and told her how much we loved her. Lord, I just hope she knew how much we loved her.

Then, around 6am, Ruthie took her last breath and her heart beat for the last time. She was gone. God said no.

I truly do not understand how we made it through those next few days. I was in shock walking out of the hospital for the last time- without my daughter. Two weeks before, I was planning on a glorious exit from that hospital bringing Ruthie home. God had another plan and gave her a glorious exit to her eternal home. I was sick with grief and needed to leave immediately before I started vomiting everywhere. I came home and slipped in bed and prayed for God to take me, too. Again, God said no.

I endured the pain as we planned our first child’s funeral. Just a few short months prior, I didn’t even know Ruthie. Now, I did not know if I could bear life without her. I was not able to express my feelings or how deep my sorrow was to anyone because I thought I would die under the full weight of my sadness. There were times that I questioned God’s choice to take her, but I never turned away from His love. In fact, I felt His love stronger than I’ve ever felt before. I sought God’s presence, like a scared child seeks her father for comfort. He was there and He was with me.

Everyone mourns differently, which is okay. God promises to be with all of us. Since losing Ruthie, I evaluated my faith. Could I continue to believe in a God that took my baby? Moreover, could I trust a God that let other babies live and mine die? Having met some great godly people who have also experienced the same kind of loss, it seems common for us to have some moments of self-pity wondering why it was our baby.

I truly believe that God could have healed Ruthie, but He didn’t. He said no.

There’s a mantra that I love to say that helps me through dark times. The saying came from a man at the church I used to attend when I lived in South Carolina. He was a staff member and had been diagnosed with cancer. So many people prayed for God to heal him, and this man’s response was, “Sometimes God says ‘Yes’ and sometimes God says ‘No’ but either way, God is still God and God is still good. To God be the glory.” We all prayed earnestly and fervently for him, but he passed away shortly after. His was not one of those miraculous goose-bump-giving stories of earthly healing that is shared on Facebook thousands of times, and neither is ours.

Does that mean God still loves me?

Yes. He loves me. And He also loves Ruthie more than I ever could. I rest in the fact that God always has a plan and His plan is good. There were times that I wondered, “Maybe if I would have had more faith, then God would have saved her,” but I know that’s not true. I know that ultimately, He would accomplish His purpose.  According to Romans 8:28, “We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” I found rest and peace in this promise.

I also find comfort in Romans 5:1-5:

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

God brought these three little girls to us, knowing one of their lives was about to come to an end and He carried us through. He also walked with me through the darkest of days- the days that I cried myself to sleep, the days I feared leaving the house, and the days that I wanted to leave this world altogether. He is still walking with me as I continue to mourn the loss of my child. I continue to struggle and even still sometimes ask Him, “Why Ruthie?”

But I rest in God’s promises. I know He has a plan and I find my joy in Him.

We appreciate your prayers, and know that whatever struggle or trial you are in the midst of, God goes before you and He will sustain you.

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A New Fight

A New Fight

I am sure you all are tired of hearing from me by now, so I enlisted the help of one of my very best friends to write about her experience by my side when Ruthie took a bad turn at her new hospital two days after being transferred. Thank you Keris for pouring your heart into this….

My heart was brimming with excitement as we piled into the car.  After all this time we were finally going to meet sweet little Ruthie Mae! How can you love someone so much without ever having met her face to face? The only comparable feeling is the excitement I feel right before meeting a baby niece or nephew for the very first time.  The difference was that this time, instead of nine months of anticipation, we were going off of years of anxious prayers and waiting!  I still remember my utter shock and amazement when Jessica called me with the news that they had possibly been matched to a birth mom.  I really tried to be a good friend and let her tell me all of the details, but in my excitement I kept interrupting with questions. She had not yet mentioned whether her baby was a boy or girl, and so I remember trying to be gender neutral with my pronoun as I asked questions such as “How old are they?”  I’ll never forget the humor in her answer.  She said,  “Well, ’they’ are about eight months old. ‘they‘  being the operative word here.” All of a sudden it clicked. I practically shouted, “Is it twins or triplets?”  I honestly cried tears of joy for about twenty minutes after that.  What an incredible answer to prayers!
I tried to convey my excitement to my husband as we started out of the driveway. There’s just something so special about meeting one of your very best friend’s kids.  During Ruthie’s stay at Greenville Memorial Hospital we joined the group of waiting room warriors and prayerfully anticipated the day her health would improve and the transfer request would be approved.  Now, that she was finally on the mend, and after having met Piper Ann and Lydia Grace in the previous weeks I couldn’t wait to have my first encounter with Ruthie. I had even already affectionately nicknamed her Kanga-Ruthie.  My husband Jacob, ever the realist, reminded me of my earlier conversation with Jessica.  “You know she said that Ruthie is having an up-and-down kind of day. Just keep that in mind.” I’m not naïve, just exceptionally hopeful, sometimes to a fault. I knew that Ruthie had just narrowly survived an infection and that her lungs had clamped at a simple diaper change. I knew she was fragile, but I had complete faith that she was on her way to a full recovery.
I glanced toward the backseat and caught a glimpse of my four-month-old son. I tried to put myself in Jessica and Konrad’s shoes.  As a new mother myself, I simply could not imagine the anxiety they felt a few weeks ago when their pure joy at finally becoming new parents quickly turned to panic and apprehension at the sight of their new daughter, the very answer to their prayers, fading before their eyes.  I snapped back to reality when I got a call from Konrad who informed me that he was leaving the hospital to go pick up Piper and Lydia.  He gave us directions to Ruthie’s room and said he’d be back as soon as possible.
When we arrived at the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Mission Hospital I left Jacob and our little son at the waiting room.  All of a sudden I was alone and a little nervous.  In my opinion, hospitals always tend to be intimidating, but there is a solemnness about the children’s wing that requires a certain amount of reverence.  I saw Ruthie’s room number as soon as the nurse’s station opened the doors.  The clear sliding glass door was wide open and nurses were filtering in and out.  Uneasiness crept over me. It was very obvious that something was happening in that little room.  A nurse confronted me as I approached.  “Are you the friend?” she asked me.
“Pardon?” I asked, my eyes focused on the room ahead.
“Are you the mom’s friend? Her husband just had to leave to get their other children.” She clarified.
“Oh. Yeah.  That’s me.” I said.
“Good. She could really use a friend right now.” I nodded and kept walking wondering what possibly could have happened in the few minutes since Konrad and I had spoken.
As I neared the room, Jessica was the one I saw first.  Her arms were folded across her chest and her eyes were focused on the bed a few feet away.  She looked absolutely exhausted and heartsick. When I saw Ruthie I understood why.  She was surrounded by nurses and had wires in every possible direction.  There were multiple machines beeping and charting her pulse, oxygen, and who knows what else.  She was visibly uncomfortable with all of the commotion.  Jessica leaned in to me and explained, “They’ve had to bag her twice today.”
“Oh,” I somehow managed to say.  I knew that wasn’t good news and I was struggling with what to say. How was it even possible for her condition to worsen so quickly? Just two days ago the doctors were mentioning the possibility of her going home soon. We stood in silence until the chaos in front of us started to clear.  Jessica began to explain the downturn of events as I awkwardly handed her the bag of Wendys I had been carrying.  She pointed to a machine and said that Ruthie’s oxygen level needed to be at 100.  The machine was fluctuating between an 89 and 88.
As Ruthie began to stabilize a doctor walked in.  He briefly introduced himself and then immediately began his assessment of Ruthie.  He examined her head, checked the machines, and spoke with the nurses.  He was very relaxed and seemed nice enough, but I could not understand him at all.  Not only was he using technical words that just weren’t in my lexicon, but also he mumbled every single syllable.  Jessica attentively listened and answered each of his questions.  In that moment I really admired her.  Since the moment she found out about Ruthie and her special health conditions, Jessica had adamantly researched everything she could find out about all things pulmonary.  She understood the technical jargon the doctor was haphazardly tossing about.  He explained that he was afraid part of Ruthie’s digestive system might not be adequately developed which could be causing her even more problems.  She would need to have tests done as soon as possible.
During the examination, Ruthie became increasingly frustrated.  She did not like the constant prodding and she began to fight the life-giving machines providing her with oxygen.  The nurse recommended a paralytic.  The doctor agreed and they discussed it with Jessica. He said goodbye and left.  Ruthie’s flailing arms expressed her discomfort but they were abruptly settled at her side as soon as the paralytic was introduced.  I was amazed at how quickly it all happened.  Now that all the machines were quiet and Ruthie was not fighting the oxygen the nurses took leave.  It was just the three of us.  In the craziness of everything I had yet to get a good look at sweet Ruthie.  Cautiously I approached her bed; terrified that even breathing on her would cause another event.  I took her in.  Sweet little KangaRuthie.  She had the chubbiest cheeks! Oh but the tiniest little hands and feet.   She looked so peaceful, so perfect.  I glanced at Jessica and saw how proud she was of her daughter.  She spoke gently to her and tried to assuage the fear Ruthie was probably feeling.
The time had come to prepare Ruthie for transport so she could have the tests done. We left the room to let the nurses do their job and on our way out we retrieved Jacob from the waiting room. Konrad and Melissa (Jessica’s mom) were nearing our floor and needed to be filled in on the events of tonight.  I left the PICU area feeling extremely heavy-hearted. After witnessing such an insane course of events I was genuinely worried for my friends.  Not just for Ruthie, Lord knows I worried about her, but I was sincerely concerned for Jessica and Konrad.  How could they keep this pace? They were understandably exhausted, but also broken in a way.  Of course not physically broken, but there is something so debilitating about watching your baby go through a trial so painful and be so helpless to change the situation.  It would be enough to break anyone’s spirit.  What an incredibly tough way to start the already-difficult journey of parenthood!
I was mulling this over when I saw Konrad and burst into laughter!  He had Lydia Grace strapped to the carrier on his chest, Piper Ann on his hip, and the diaper bag strapped to his back. Piper and Lydia’s feet were dangling and they were giggling loudly at the funny way he would bounce them.  When the girls saw Jessica they both smiled and continued to laugh at their silly daddy.  I watched the new little family play together for a second.  It was comforting to see Lydia Grace was adjusting so well.  We waited in the hallway to see Ruthie off as she went to have the tests done.  The goodbye was sweet.  After everything that has happened since then, I will always remember that in the midst of such heartache, love remained.
It certainly was not the way I had imagined I would meet little KangaRuthie.  Despite the circumstances, I left the hospital knowing that with a lot of prayers, the medical team at Mission, and with parents like Jessica and Konrad who would advocate for her, Ruthie Mae stood a fighting chance.

Carolina, You Keep Calling Me Home

Carolina, You Keep Calling Me Home

Meanwhile, on the home front, we had two girls at home that still needed attention. Being preemies, they had a lot of catching up to do. We felt like we were on the phone everyday, trying to work out their insurance and set up all of their doctors appointments and therapies. I truly don’t know how we had the energy to do all of this, but the only way I can explain it, is that you do these things for your kids. I didn’t even think about it because I knew its what my girls needed.

Piper had a great transition into our home. She continued to be very content and seemed to already see us as her parents. Lydia had a much harder time. The first couple of nights, she cried until she threw up, with nothing comforting her. It probably didn’t help that her first two teeth broke through the second day she lived with us. Her third tooth is in the process of breaking through right now, so we know for sure that some of the discomfort she faced was because of her poor teeth. (Side note: If her biological grandmother is reading this, we didn’t mention this rough transition because we didn’t want to worry you.)

As Ruthie’s health started to improve, we fell into a routine. Each day, Konrad would go to work, while I stayed at home with Piper and Lydia. Then, when he arrived, one of us would take off to the hospital in South Carolina. This hour-long drive was exhausting, but so worth it. Every Sunday, we brought the girls to the hospital and one of us sat in the waiting room with them, while the other parent got to visit with Ruthie. It was so nice for both of us to see her on Sundays. By this point, she was allowed limited visitors, so my mother went down almost daily to go visit her, too. Everyone was so in love with Ruthie.

While Ruthie still seemed very sleepy all the time, she started breathing more and more on her own. She was not requiring near as much oxygen as she did weeks before. Now that we had custody and she seemed to be healthier, the time came to discuss transferring her to a hospital much closer to home. Everyone thought this was a great idea. From the medical perspective, her nurses thought it would be great that her new physicians could get to know her and her care while she was still inpatient before they started seeing her in their offices. Also, she would transfer to a pediatric intensive care unit (PICU), with doctors that were used to taking care of babies her age. From our perspective, we would get to see her more often and for longer periods of time, especially if her sisters got to visit, as well. Many times on the way home from visiting Ruthie, we would play “Carolina” by Eric Church (a native North Carolinian) and long for Ruthie to be in her new home. We were so excited that she could finally make this transfer. Everything was working out. Her insurance approved the transfer, the hospitals approved the transfer, and everyone seemed to be excited for Ruthie’s new chapter in her life.

I drove to the hospital first thing on a Tuesday morning. Ruthie’s room was packed up and she was laying in her bed sleeping. Nurses and therapists came by and said their “goodbyes” and I even teared up as this season in the NICU was finally coming to an end. These people had been her family for nearly a year, but we needed her to come home to her new family. She started waking up when they strapped her in the stretcher and she didn’t seem too happy about it. When they finished, I went to my car and began my last drive from Greenville Memorial Hospital. I was so excited to have Ruthie in the land of apple picking, great barbeque, and the Duke Blue Devils.

When I arrived at the new hospital, I rushed to the PICU to see my girl. She handled the transport well and her respiratory therapist gave us hugs as she headed back to South Carolina. Ruthie’s new doctor came in to get acquainted with us. She said, “Now, why exactly are you here?” I was a little taken aback by the question, but she went on to clarify that Ruthie was doing so well that she should not be in the hospital much longer. When I informed them that I already had training in trach care, they informed me  that Ruthie was almost ready to head home.

As you can imagine, mommy and daddy were about as happy as we could possibly be having heard the doctor’s prognosis. I remember calling Konrad and telling him that the doctors were going to “get to know” Ruthie and then she should be home anytime now. The social worker came in almost panicking because we didn’t have any home care lined up yet. She frantically started getting our nursing services and equipment ready for our house.

That night, we brought the girls to visit their sister and we loved every single second of being together as a family. (By the way, we are thankful for the nurses that allowed the girls to visit and let us have that precious time.) The 27-minute drive to the hospital felt so short, and we we felt so refreshed. Now, the transport was a little exhausting, so we let Ruthie sleep all day. I noticed before she left the hospital in Greenville that she had her oxygen turned up quite a bit. I asked the nurse if that was just in preparation for the transport, but she said “No” and that Ruthie was just requiring a little more oxygen that day.  There’s a chance that she was showing signs of sickness. However, no one seemed to be alarmed, so we let miss Ruthie rest and recover when she got to her new room. 

We were so excited for our new life as we were one step closer to having her home. Things were starting to work out!  

 

Safe in My Arms

Safe in My Arms

Our world changed when we walked into the hospital room to visit our sick baby. Up until that point, we thought Ruthie would be home any week now, as she continued to make improvements. The last thing we wanted was a major setback, which would keep her in the hospital even longer, as if eight months wasn’t already long enough. Our daughter had never been in the sunshine, smelled fresh air, or spent the night with her mommy and daddy. Instead, she stayed inside, breathed off a ventilator, and her constant companions were her nurses. On top of all this, she was about to enter the fight of her life against an infection. The infection came in through her trach site, which is an open wound with a foreign object sticking through. The very same thing that was keeping her alive, was also letting an infection wage war through her body. We spent time with her as doctors did tests to figure out how bad things were looking. We left the hospital that night and drove to our friend’s home with Piper in tow, worried about Ruthie’s condition. We carried with us the joy of having Piper as a new part of our family, and the heartache of having a very sick child. (It is important to note here that parents are not allowed to sleep in this NICU, which is why we left the hospital.)

Over the next few days, we spent every waking moment at the hospital. On a Monday morning, we were getting Piper ready for the day, and we got a phone call. It was the head nurse. She said, “You need to get to the hospital right now.”

I was frozen in fear.

“What’s going on? Is Ruthie okay?”

She replied, “You just need to get here now.”

We rushed out the door and were at the hospital within a few minutes. When we arrived, a nurse came out to the waiting room and watched Piper as we went back to speak with the doctor. During a diaper change, Ruthie’s heart rate started dropping and dropped down very low…twice. They had to use the crash cart on her and the doctor’s almost had to call and ask if we wanted them to continue treatment. Thankfully, they got her back, but her body was having a very hard time fighting this infection. Just changing her diaper proved her fragility. Unfortunately, they were worried that she may crash again, considering she had already done it twice in the course of the morning. It was the first time that a doctor asked us what we wanted to do if they couldn’t bring her back.

I was a total wreck. When the doctor asked us to start thinking about DNR (Do Not Resuscitate), I looked at Konrad, shrugged my shoulders because I truly had no idea what to say, and let the tears flow.  At that point, I had never felt so much pain in my entire life. The doctor wanted us to be prepared to make a decision whether to save our daughter’s life, even though it could cause some serious permanent damage, or let her go and enjoy the last moments with her. I was not ready to make that decision. I was going to let Ruthie fight, because that’s what Ruthie does best.

Over the course of the next two weeks, the doctors put Ruthie under paralysis so her body could just focus on healing. She started beating the infection, but her lungs were in such bad shape that a lot of extra pressure was being put on her heart. She was on 100% oxygen, but her lungs were so weak, they weren’t absorbing all of it. The entire time we sat by her bedside, we looked at a monitor, hoping her lungs could absorb the oxygen going into her body. Her lungs needed to start working better, or it was a grim outlook.

Did I mention that we also got cleared for the girls to leave the state and we could finally go home? About a week into Ruthie’s sickness, the attorney called to let us know that we could return home, and that both states had cleared the adoption. We now faced a tough decision. Should we go home, taking Lydia with us, and make the long commute everyday? Or should we stay at our host home, which would mean Lydia would need to continue to reside with her biological grandmother until Ruthie was out of the woods? We were exhausted, and the thought of sleeping in our own bed with two of our babies under the same roof, just seemed like the best thing for us. We had a peace about returning home.

We drove up the mountain from South Carolina to North Carolina that night tired and worried. Friends met as at our home with groceries and hugs as we got the girls settled in for their first night in their new home. What was supposed to be the most joyous homecoming we will see on this earth, was overshadowed by the sadness that a piece of our family was still missing.

We made the trip up and down the mountain everyday to be with our baby. The nursing staff was kind enough to let one of us stay in an empty hospital room some nights, just in case we needed to rush to Ruthie’s side. The day came when she beat the infection, but it still didn’t seem like her lungs were absorbing oxygen. She was still paralyzed. We hadn’t held her in a couple of weeks and we ached to connect with our baby. The doctors decided to lift the paralysis to see if that could help her condition improve. We waited by her side, hoping that her heart wouldn’t crash like it did days before because she was so sensitive. Everyone was on edge as she started to wiggle. Once the medicine started wearing off, she started getting really agitated. You could tell the doctor was a little nervous, as she was trying to calm Ruthie down.

Then came the best moment of my entire life. I watched my daughter squirm as she was uncomfortable and likely very scared (you would probably be scared, too if you were on this medicine). I could not sit there and watch her get so worked up that her lungs clamped down and her heart rate dropped. I had to do something.

“Can I hold her to make her calm down?” I asked the doctor.

You could tell the doctor thought I was onto something here. They hurried and got her cords gathered up (I think she had 15 cords attached to her at this point) and sat her in my lap. Ruthie immediately calmed down and went back to sleep. Meanwhile, I was the happiest mama on the face of the planet.

My baby knew she was safe in my arms.

Like I said earlier, Ruthie knew how to fight. She beat that infection and she came back to us. We could all tell that she was still very weak, but she started to make improvements like we’ve never seen before. She came back stronger in some ways, but she used every ounce of reserve her little body had. We were just happy we were able to spend time with her again, looking into those sweet eyes.

So, we continued to make the trip from North Carolina daily and we started counting down the days until we could have all three girls home, and most importantly, together.

The Big Day

The Big Day

We are picking our story back up and I believe we were about to meet Baby #3. This baby was an absolute mystery to us. She spent the shortest amount of time in the NICU (ONLY three months). We knew she lived with an aunt, that she was the best eater out of all the girls, and she shared the same sack with Ruthie in the womb. That’s really all. The attorney wanted to accompany us to meet Baby #3 at the aunt’s home. We were fine with this because it made the introductions a little easier. We knocked on the door and there she was, sitting happily in her aunt’s arms- our little Piper. She had on a pink helmet and a pink polka dot sleeper. She looked completely different than Lydia, and just like Ruthie. We sat in amazement as we held her. Since Ruthie and Lydia looked so different, it was so fun to see, what we have assumed to be, Ruthie’s identical. I think this was the moment where it really sunk in that we were adopting multiples, as opposed to just siblings. We got to feed her and we chatted with her aunt. Then, I learned the hard way that she had acid reflux. I was lucky enough to receive some projectile vomiting that day. Konrad then got a turn to hold her so I could clean my shirt off. That was in March and I still haven’t fully gotten that smell out.

At this point in our journey, we were pretty used to meeting our new children, but this was still special. Miss Piper was sweet and very laid-back. To this day, she is very relaxed, which can be frustrating during physical and occupational therapy. But she is also happy and kind, with the cutest little giggle you’ve ever heard.

It was March 4th and we had officially met all of our girls. We still didn’t have custody, so we spent all of our time at the hospital taking care of Ruthie. It was such a sweet time for us because we could just focus on Ruthie’s care. We really wanted to learn every possible thing we could about her so that when she came home, we would be ready. We knew that when we brought her sisters home, we would not be able to be with Ruthie all day every day. We gave her cuddles, gave her baths, and had a baby shower. My parents got to meet Ruthie on March 20th, and we took Lydia and Piper to the park on March 21st, where they met my sister and all of their cousins.

Then, we got THE call on March 25th. Piper’s aunt and her family said their goodbyes to the sweet baby and were ready for us to pick her up. We were walking out of the hospital from seeing Ruthie and headed right over to pick her up. We were still waiting for this thing called ICPC, which is a clearance for the girls to the leave the state and come back to our home state of North Carolina. Since they had not received ICPC yet, we knew we needed to find quick lodging. There was a sweet couple that offered to let us stay with them, but it was a Wednesday night, the couple was at church, and we only had about an hour before we needed to get somewhere for the night. We were going to spend our first night as around-the-clock caregivers in a hotel. Now, if you are familiar with adoption at all, you know that this is the case with many adoptions, especially if they are out of state.

I was panicking a little. I didn’t really have anything packed, but we did have all the supplies from Piper’s aunt. We stayed in a hotel halfway between our home state and the hospital because Konrad still had to go to work the next day. Our first night as a family was so incredibly sweet. You know those stories where a family has their first child and he or she is an angel baby who sleeps all night and never fusses, and then they have baby #2 and he or she is the complete opposite? Well, that was us. Piper got picked up by these two strangers who then took her to a hotel, plopped her in a bed, and expected her to go to sleep. That’s a pretty tall order, but she didn’t skip a beat. She went to sleep with no issues and loved cuddling with us. She woke up the next morning all smiles! We spent the next day getting settled at our host home and bonding with our sweet girl. Piper was happy all of the time, except when she was ready for a nap, but hey lets face it, we are all pretty grumpy when we are tired. It took all day for us to adjust to our new setting so we didn’t get to see Ruthie until that afternoon. My family drove down and watched Piper in the waiting room of the NICU while we went back to visit Ruthie. I was so excited to see her. We felt like the pieces of our family were finally starting to fall into place. We went through the pain of infertility and took this huge leap of faith with adoption, and then said “yes” to parenting triplets. Finally, things were perfect. We bounced into Ruthie’s room and the nurse met us at the door.

She looked at us and said, “I’m assuming the doctor called you.”

We hadn’t heard from the doctor that day, but we immediately knew what was happening- our baby was sick.

Introducing Princess Lydia

Introducing Princess Lydia

The attorney called to let us know that the girls’ biological grandparents would let us come to their home to meet Baby #2. On March 3rd, we got to meet our sweet Lydia. Heading to the grandparents’ home that day, once again, we were nervous wrecks. Its a very odd feeling when you are about to meet your child for the first time, especially when they have already bonded with someone else. Of course we wondered, “Is she going to like us? What if she doesn’t? How are her grandparents going to respond to us?” Most people have years to prepare for their second child, and we just had a couple of weeks. I remember hearing my friend say once, “I don’t know if I can have a second child because I don’t know if there’s any way I can love another child the way I love my first.” Honestly, I thought that was completely ridiculous when she expressed those feelings. I think I even laughed. But here I was, driving an hour to another state wondering the very same thing. Ruthie had already captured our hearts and we loved her so much that there were moments that I thought my heart may explode! We spent everyday with her leading up to this meeting and already developed a strong bond. How on earth was another person going to fit into this perfect little family of mommy, daddy, and Ruthie?

As we pulled into the driveway, I felt like my heart might explode for a completely different reason, because it was beating so fast. I remember everything about that moment. I remember how many cars were parked in the driveway and the sign on the door telling visitors to “Knock Gently, Baby Sleeping.” Our whole lives were about to change…AGAIN.

Now, let me pause here to give you a little background information on Miss Lydia. We knew almost everything there was to know about this little girl before we even met her. To say that she was loved by everyone she came into contact with, would be quite the understatement. Everyone at the hospital, including nurses, therapists, and doctors all talked about this amazing baby. While she was in the hospital, nurses would go visit her just to see her smile. Apparently, she had a way of making everyone feel special. While spending time with Ruthie, we ran into their biological grandparents, the same ones who had temporary custody of Lydia, and we could tell that they were wrapped around her finger. They gushed about her and loved taking care of every little need she had.

To be honest, all the build-up on Lydia was a little intimidating. We felt like we were going into the presence of royalty (a feeling that she probably always wants us to remember). As mere peasants to Lydia’s greatness, we harped on her door and were ushered into her throne room (living room). And there she was. Fourteen pounds of pure cuteness and spunk. She was surrounded by her nurse that helped her during the day, one of her NICU nurses that came to visit, and both grandparents. See what I mean? The kid had a following. As with all of our children, we did not lay eyes on her and immediately feel bonded, but we did immediately feel love. She was gorgeous, even though she looked nothing like Ruthie. She had a strong resemblance to the grandparents she lived with, which I am sure fostered their love for her. We sat beside her and played. She seemed to really like us. We helped put her down for a nap and chatted with everyone about her daily care. She required some care because she had a feeding tube at the time. At this point, feeding tubes were normal because Ruthie also had one, so it was just a matter of adjusting to the pump that we were supposed to use at home, which was different than the one in the hospital.

We didn’t visit with Lydia long, but our doubts about how much we could love her were immediately erased. She was so different than her sister, and that was okay. We knew after meeting her for an hour that she would keep our lives very interesting, and she has. We had two polar opposite girls, and we loved everything about them.

Our story, like most adoption stories, is very unique with our relationship to the birth family. You see, most people assume that biological families are full of deadbeats who don’t like kids. Our bio family is the opposite. Sure, the girls’ biological parents were not perfect, but hey, neither am I and neither are you. But, they accepted the fact that they could not take care of these girls and they lovingly placed them for adoption. They had a great family who supported the adoption. This entire family knew that the best thing for these girls was a “normal” life with loving and stable parents. Most importantly, they wanted the girls to be together. We love our birth family- including our birth parents. Many of you have asked about these people, wondering about the kind of people they are. From the ones that I have met, they are great, godly folks. They gave us something that we would not have otherwise- a family. We have three daughters because of them. Our story goes on because of these people. And now we get to meet Baby #3.

An Open Letter to My Husband on Father’s Day

Hi Sweetheart,

Over these past few months, my love grew for you as I saw you become a loving, caring father who got so much joy from spending time with your three little girls. I will always remember the day I sat on the couch next to you and told you that we were getting the opportunity to adopt triplet girls. Most men would probably shake in their shoes at the thought of raising three girls, but not you.  Sure, there were times that you got nervous thinking of the huge responsibility, but all that nervousness came from a place of love, as you wanted to provide the best life possible for them. You are truly a remarkable man.

Now my heart breaks for you as you head into Father’s Day. This was supposed to be a very exciting day for you- your very first Father’s Day! While you still have so much to celebrate, I know you are sad. Our sweet Ruthie meant so much to you. And she loved you dearly. The first time you held her, she fell asleep in your arms, which is not something she did often. She immediately felt comfortable with you and I know she felt your love. Whenever we came to visit, she could be in a deep sleep, but when you started talking to the nurse, she would wake right up, knowing that you were there just for her. Over the next few weeks and months, I saw you transform into her best caregiver. Seriously, nothing seemed to scare you. You gave Ruthie her first bath and you were the first one to change her trach. If Ruthie needed something done, you volunteered.

At her funeral, I loved when our pastor said, “Anytime you asked Konrad, Ruthie was always coming home next week!” I thought that was a beautiful picture of your love for her. You always believed in her and most importantly, you wanted and longed for her to come home to us. You were truly her biggest fan. You constantly took photos and videos of her because you took so much pride in the fact that she was your daughter. You never saw Ruthie’s needs as burdens, but only as a chance to poor out your love on her. You had so many hopes and dreams for her because you had so much faith that she was going to pull through.

However, she did not pull through. While you did not get to teach her to drive, help her with homework, walk her down the aisle, or see her grow into an amazing woman, you did get to do the most important thing. You gave her a family. You held her hand when she needed it most. You adored our baby. Ruthie brought her sisters to us and I know you will honor her every single day by being the best daddy you can to them.

There’s also one big thing that I have never thanked you for. In fact, we have never discussed this, but I don’t want you to think that this act of kindness was lost on me for one second. Konrad, thank you for letting me be the one to hold Ruthie in her last hours. When her organs started failing, we knew that we wanted her parents to be the ones holding her as she left this world. You never, for one second, hesitated to let the nurses put her in my arms. That was the best gift you have ever given me. I am so grateful.

I truly marvel at your integrity and character every single day- and that really is no exaggeration. I can look at the fruits of the Holy Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23 and see how each of those characteristics are embedded in you. You are a great, godly man. Thank you for always being willing to pursue the heart of God. He has molded you into a wonderful person and we feel so blessed that we get to experience life with you.

I love you. Your girls love you. Happy Father’s Day.