About Me

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I have the most wonderful Husband who has been my best friend since I was a sophomore in high school. So incredibly blessed to be his wife. God has given us three beautiful children. Nella Grace, Knox Michael, and Crew Matthew. God is good and I am thankful for all He has provided for us!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

My sweet momma

This is the blog post I have been waiting to write until, well I felt like I was ready.  I am really not sure if I am.  Really not sure if I am strong enough to attempt this, but my heart feels like it needs to. Like it needs to get these words out.  So here I go.  

This season of my life has been one of the toughest in my life.  One no one could have prepared me for or one I could have ever imagined would happen this early in my life.  This is how this storm started with this video.  My dad called and said my mom was not getting better with her cold and despite different attempts with antibiotics, she was just not progressing.  So he brought her to the hospital.  We made this video for her because I knew it would bring a smile to her face.  Dad sounded so calm on the phone and made me feel like it was just a step to getting her better and with some iv antibiotics she would heal and get better.  Never did I think this would be the last time I knew she heard me on the phone.  The last time...

This is my momma.  My sweet mom.  See my mom was my best friend, truly my hero.  The one I called when I needed to talk, a shoulder to cry on, get advice, someone to giggle with, someone to tell me it was okay, and someone that no matter what was going on would bring huge smiles to my face.  She was my comfort.  Always.  

She was the one who reminded me to be a giver, to love with all your heart, work hard, be honest, and never ever put yourself before others' needs.  She was a giver through and through.  My mom and I always had the best time together.  There were sure to be smiling, giggling, and silliness when we were together.  My momma was fun and playful.  

She was the best. (Its so hard to write this…WAS..I cannot stand using this word) The best momma I could have ever be given. She taught me so much about God, life, love, and what truly matters in life.  She valued her faith, simplicity, nature, people, and animals.  She was devoted momma always, but oh my did she love her grand babies.  They were her world.  What truly brought her joy was being with them.  Holding them, giggling with them, chasing them, snuggling them, and making them whatever they wanted in the kitchen.  She adored them.  The joy they brought her poured of her when they were present.  

This is my last picture of her holding our sweet Crew

The nightmare begins…
Matt and I were having Matt's family over for a dinner at our house.  Minutes before his family arrived, I got the call from my dad that she wasn't doing well at all and they were going to put her on a vent.  My heart sunk.  My momma.  The one that I think of as having super natural strength.  The one that never lets anything take her down.  I immediately prayed to God, be with her doctors, give her strength, let her heal.  But my mind said, she will be fine.  She always is.  She just needs more treatment.  I attempted to draw comfort from those words.  

About 10 minutes after Matt's family arrived, I got a call from my Aunt saying I needed go to Goshen because she wasn't doing well on the vent.  She said, you need to come.  She needs you.  Your dad needs you.  I remember hanging on those words, the tears welling up in my eyes, trying to process what it meant, what was happening, leaving my family, leaving my two week old son, how long will she be in the hospital, will she be okay?!?  The questions just raced around in my head and I found myself frozen.  I remember standing in my closet staring at my clothes not sure what to do…then I felt a wave of peace come over me…and heard "you are strong..pack your bag..It is what you need to do."  

I packed my bag in a fury not even sure what was in there.  My sister-in-law, Leslie,  offered to go with me, and I felt guilty pulling her away from her family.  I will be okay I remember thinking, but Matt insisted she go with me.  On the way up there, I remember thanking God for her being there because I felt so lost.  Not sure how to go about this, questioning what I was about to walk into.  I made a call to my best friends Natalie and Jess on the way up to start praying.  I just knew this was going to be a big storm.  I just didn't know how big until I arrived.  

On the way up there, I remember Leslie trying to reassure me and thinking yes she is strong.  Yes God is with her.  I remember hanging on those words, she is strong.  She will be okay.  I remember praying in the silence in the car.  Praying with all my might that maybe it wasn't as bad as it sounded. I tried to make sense of the words, she needs you.  How bad was this?!? Should Matt be here?!?!  

I remember driving up to the hospital and wanting to run to the door.  Wanting to hold my mom.  Wanting to hear she was fine now…false alarm.  My cousin Megan met me in the parking lot.  She held me really tight and when she let go, tears were rolling down her face.  I knew then…it was bad.  It was not good.  I wanted to turn around.  I wanted to run away. I wanted to wake up..this wasn't happening…I knew once I walked into the hospital…I was going to see her and it would become my reality.  

While signing in at the hospital, I met my cousin Ryan…He gave me one of those great hugs..the kind that you melt into…and I needed that.
We headed upstairs and I wanted to run off the elevator to my dad.  I wanted to hug him. As I walked into the waiting room, it was full of family and friends with tears in their eyes and heads hanging low.  Dad immediately grabbed my hand and walked me out of the room.  He started crying and just kept saying she is not good.  My heart dropped to my feet.  I wanted to be strong for my dad so I pushed my tears down inside me so they couldn't get out.  I prayed to Him be with us…as we walked into the room.  She was covered in tubes, sleeping peacefully on her back, and looking pale.  I wanted to hug her and hold her hand.  I was told I couldn't touch her…told to let her rest because if she sensed us it would cause her blood pressure to spike and affect her breathing. I looked up to see the doctor standing at the foot of the bed.  I heard him spit out words like she was on a high vent setting and wasn't improving, she has ARDS, she had pneumonia that has damaged her lungs, she needs the vent, now we wait to see if antibiotics work…it was overwhelming…I stood silent thinking this can't be…this truly cannot be…no God…why God…make her better…help us!  

We left her room and dad just held me and cried.  I pushed back my tears that were welling up inside me…I was determined to find my strength in Him and be there for my dad.  She would want that…

I came back to the waiting room for more hugging, tears, and comforting words (she is strong, you know she will be okay, I am so sorry hun, love you).  I called Matt and Jess.  My best friend Jess is a Critical Care unit nurse in Indy and deals with people like my mom's condition daily.  She gave me encouragement and comfort that the doctors were doing the right thing.  I felt peaceful that they were and hopeful that tomorrow things would improve.  

My brother and his wife, Sammy, arrived! I remember feeling thankful they were here.  We stayed late at the hospital and decided that in the morning, when we got an update from the doctor and hopefully see some improvement.  
Leslie and I went back to Matt's parents house and tried to sleep.  I couldn't sleep at all.  All I thought about was her laying there.  I kept thinking any minute she would be okay and this would be over.  In the quiet of Matt's old childhood bedroom, as I lay there and look up at the ceiling fan, I prayed and prayed.  I prayed until my heart was aching so much I had no more words.  I prayed and prayed until I finally drifted off to sleep.  I got up early the next morning and got some food to take to the hospital so my dad and family. I called my friend Jess and she told me what changes I should be seeing today if she was improving…I was anxious..anxious to be there…praying I would see those changes..

Getting to the hospital felt like it took an eternity, even thought it was only a 40 minute drive.   When I got there, Adam, Sammy, and my dad were already there.  We decided to go back and see her.  She was still on her back with the tubes all around her and she looked so pale.  She looked peaceful and I remember thinking maybe that is a good sign.  I texted Jess what was on the vent setting so she could see if was an improvement.  She immediately called me and rattled off questions to ask the doctor and made it sound like there was no progress.  She didn't regress, but she didn't improve.  She was questioning us transferring her to another hospital, one that would have more treatments available.  I talked it over with Bubb, Sammy, and dad.  We decided to meet with the doctor and have Jess on speaker phone to ask questions and be able to get her opinion of what is best for her.  
The doctor and Jess talked really fast and through out terms like ARDS, throwing antibiotics at her, no improvement, bi-vent, unable to transport, need transport soon, ECMO, pressure and peep settings.  I remember feeling like they were speaking a foreign language.  After we met with the doctor and talked with Jess, we decided she needed to be transported for her best chance of survival.  The original plan was to airlift her to IU methodist, but after an ice storm hit north east Indiana, we had to take her by land in an ambulance.  It seemed like transporting her took forever.  My dad and I finally got the go ahead that she was going.  We headed to Indy hoping to be there when she arrived.  I didn't want her to feel scared, even though I knew she wasn't awake.  I wanted to be there for her.  I wanted to be able to ease her mind when she arrived.  

Her family all headed down to Indy to meet us.  I was so thankful to have her family there.  To be surrounded by my aunts, uncles, grandma, cousins.  I needed them.  We needed them to keep us calm to remind us that she was in the best place, that she would do better here.  I was greeted by my best friend, Jess, in the waiting room and she told me they were checking her in and that she did wonderful during the travel.  It seemed like a whirlwind.  It seemed like a bad dream that just kept going despite my attempt to wake up.  I kept feeling like moving her, that this would fix it.  She would have more options for treatment.  She was going to be okay.  

Matt arrived and it was the first time I had the opportunity to hold him since I saw her.  It was the first time I could just cry and be held by him.  There is nothing like his hug.  I feel safe and for once I felt like I could release and really just cry.  He brushed the hair away from my face and smiled and gently whispered she will be okay.  I wanted to believe him with all my might.  I stood there holding my husband and thanking God for getting her there, for allowing the doctors to get started working on treatment right away, and for FAMILY so thankful for all of them.

We got the okay to head back and it felt SURREAL.  It felt like a movie and I was watching it..not living it. I felt like I moved in slow motion trying to take it all in but not able to really process it.  They asked to put her in a roto-prone bed.  Dad immediately signed the consent.  She was transferred into a bed that would rotate gently around and she would lay on her tummy to help her get more oxygen and hopefully move the fluid off her lungs.  The doctors continued to adjust her oxygen saturation levels and peep.  

I would soon be able to explain to you what all this meant.  And what seemed like a foreign language would become familiar.  We would soon learn every nurse, tech, and doctors name that spent time with her.  I would bring cookies for the staff and know other families going through similar situations.  It was amazing how my life would change.  

Here at this moment my life would be something I would NEVER dreamed it would be.  And while I enjoyed getting to know each nurse, tech, and doctor, I wanted to run away.  I wanted to go back to adjusting to being a mom of three.  I wanted to go back to just worrying about setting a schedule for three kids, keeping laundry going, having something for dinner, and just being home.  I wanted to go back to that.  I wanted this to stop.  I wanted it to be over.  I wanted to talk to her.  I wanted her to open her eyes.  I wanted to tell her about Crew, Knox, and Nella and see a huge smile on her face.  I wanted it!  I wanted it to happen.  I begged God.  I begged him.  I would soon know a new exhaustion along with my physical exhaustion.  I would soon become emotionally broken.  The next three weeks would become the worst three weeks of my life.  The weeks where I will FOREVER be changed.  Forever be different.  

My dad moved in with us for the next three weeks and family would pop in and out of our home.  I love being the hostess and tried with all my might to make people comfortable.  But to be honest it was hard.  I was trying to learn how to be a mom to three, trying to meet their needs, and now I was trying to keep the house clean, make meals for everyone, be sure that I was there for my kids, but also there for my family and mom.  My days consisted of being with my kids during the day, leaving when Matt got home from work, going to the hospital until 9 or 10, coming home eating dinner, doing laundry, cleaning, dream feeding a baby, waking in the middle of night and feeding sweet Crew, and doing it all over again everyday.  We watched her make a small steps forward and two steps back for 10 whole days.  She never really improved and then we got a blizzard.  Literally...

Dad and I got a call we needed to be there now.  She was coding!  I remember just white, snow everywhere, and us being the only people on the road.  It wasn't pretty and it was scary. I remember praying the whole way that we would make it. The hospital is about 20 minutes from our house.  It took over an hour.  We raced to the unit and heard words like she coded, she needs more treatment, she needs this to live.  Will you sign?  I remember thinking  God please let this be the answer.  We need her.  We need her so much.  You see she is our rock…our world…she is our everything.  Dad signed for ECMO treatment.  She immediately went into surgery to put the canula in.  This machine would act as her lung and remove blood and provide oxygenation and carbon dixode and then put it back into her body.  It would allow her to rest and really give her a chance for her lungs to heal.  We found out this happened from influenza type A and that the flu caused the pneumonia that has damaged her lungs.  We prayed the damage would be okay if her lungs could be at total rest.  

And while we had two weeks of ECMO,  I watched my mom make gains and for once we felt like she would be okay!  I remember total peace washing over me.  We started to talk about treatment after her lungs were able to function again and what her life would be like for the next year after this.  I remember thinking I don't care what has to happen and I was just so grateful she would be here.  I was so grateful to be able to have the opportunity to see her smile again.  I remember thanking God with all my might.  I fell to my knees praising him and his healing.  

And then just as that happened…she started to stall and really not make the progress.  I remember watching them increase and increase the amount of support ECMO was doing for her and watching the PEEP (pressure on the vent) start to rise.  I remember feeling like this was not a good sign, but Jess would remind me it will take time and to be patient.  That the lungs are sensitive and we just need to wait and give her time.  I prayed for my dad, our family, for her, hospital staff, I prayed that God would allow his amazing healing…I prayed with all of me.  I prayed in the quiet, in the car, in the shower, in line at the grocery store, while my kids played, I prayed until it was just silence because God knew my heart.  He knew what I wanted and I would hear him say I am here child.  I am here!  I knew he was here.  Even in the chaos of my life at that moment, there were moments when peace would completely wash over me. I had to trust what was happening.  It was in HIS hands.  It always is.  

And then there was the day…the day my world crashed….the day I prayed wouldn't come.  My dad left our house to go to the hospital early.  I didn't hear from him when he got there and I thought that was strange. I remember texting him and anticipating I would hear a text about her current stats and that she was the same or no change.  I wished that was his reply…no I get she needs a cat scan of her whole body…they have some concerns…I need you.  I called Matt frantically and he wasn't sure how quick he could get home, but he quickly rearranged his schedule and just left.  He came to be with the kids…I got there right after they took her back for the CAT scan.  I sent my friends a text to pray…she needed it…I just knew! 

Finally we saw they were wheeling her back to her room…being on ECMO it was a huge deal to get her to the CAT scan room.  So many people with her holding tubes, clearing the hallway…I remember dad saying it was a risk! We cried and prayed…and dad kept saying Janelle I really don't think this is good. I don't have a good feeling.  He just kept crying. We called family and told them to get here.  After what seemed like hours….the doctor came and got us…

We went back to her room and he put the scan pictures up on a screen.  I remember him saying 80% of her lungs are damaged.  The damage is not able to be fixed.  I remember him saying only 20% of her lungs are able to work.  That is why ECMO is not working…I remember hanging on every word and thinking any minute he would say, but we are going to try this…it never came.  He said well I say we give it three days, but her choices are to live like this forever on a vent, unconscious and treat the problems that will arise from being in a bed or let her go…NO NO NO you can't mean.  You can't mean this is it.  Please have another choice.  I was screaming this in my head.  I wanted to shake him and I just wanted to lay on the floor and get in the fetal position and bawl.  I wanted to throw a temper tantrum and have the doctor just give in ….have another treatment…have a miracle.I wanted God to bring a miracle.  He was the only one that could….I couldn't lose my mom…I just couldn't….but I knew in my heart she would never want to live the other life he was describing….no that was not an option…

When we left the room…dad and I just hung our heads, tears, and we were silent….we met bubb in the hall…I melted in his arms and bawled.  He didn't know what was said, but at the same time he knew.  

I attempted to make phone calls to family and try to explain….how do you tell someone their sister/daughter/friend is dying…I couldn't even say it myself…I called Matt bawling first.  I told him to get here.  I needed him. 

I wanted to soak in the next three days.   I wanted to soak up every single ounce of her.  I wanted to talk to her, sing to her, tell her how much I loved her, I wanted her to know.  I wanted her to know how scared I was to be without her…but want I really wanted was to hear her say goodbye.  I wanted to hear my momma say I was going to be okay…just one time I wanted to hear that sweet soft voice and cute giggle.  I wanted her big brown eyes to look at me and smile and say you are okay.  I love you Janelle.  I wanted it so bad.  

All of her family came and loved on her.  Told her goodbye, gave kisses, said I loved you.  I watched my uncles and aunts with tears rolling down their cheeks whisper into her ear and kiss her.  In the waiting room, we would tell stories about her life, how much fun she was, and I would learn even more about how special my momma was.  It was comforting…comforting to be surrounded by her family, hear those stories, and feel so loved.  Matt and I took turns being at the hospital.  Our kiddos went to many friends houses and Corey and Leslie's house.  I was so grateful.  Grateful that I had that support.  

And then on the 21st of January, we said our final goodbye to our momma and she went home to Jesus.  My heart shattered to the floor.  It was so broken.  The pain, the pain is fierce and I couldn't even stand.  I couldn't even get on my knees to cry out to Him….I didn't know what to do….didn't know how to take any steps out of the hospital….how to leave this place…how do this

One of the nurses handed my dad an imprint of her hand….he gave it to me…it was from jess….there were no words no words…just tears.  oh that gift, the gift of the reminder of her hand…every line every detail of her hand….that hand I knew would give me strength…remind me of her strength
I looked up to my best friend, Natalie rushing in…I grabbed onto and just sobbed sobbed and sobbed until I kept sobbing but there were no tears…we just held each other….

We left the hospital and my life became a whirlwind…one that I truly can't remember…it felt like I stood still and huge storm just passed over me….we went and picked up Crew from my friend Amanda…I was so grateful to hold that baby.  I needed that comfort.  I needed someone to snuggle with….then later matt went and picked up Nella and Knox from Leslie and Corey….grateful for the care they gave them….grateful for the fun my kids had that day.  

Later that night….Natalie and I went funeral shopping for my momma and I was grateful for Natalie…she kept me going…she kept me focused…she helped me move when I wanted to cry on the floor until a  puddle appeared…she loved on me something fierce and took care of my family…. every step of the way during the funeral my friends and family loved on me…they took care of me…they knew what I needed before I could say what I needed…it was texts, helping with funeral projects and baking cookies that were my mommas favorite to hand out, creating recipe cards of her favorite apple crisp recipe, taking care of childcare for my kids, sitting at the table and helping me assemble wildflower hearts on cards to honor her, helping with floral arrangements, doing my mommas hair and make-up, taking care of my dad, watching my sweet babies and I could go on and on….I am grateful for each one of you that stood in the gap for us, loved us, took care of us, and just was there, truly there

I don't know how you really move forward from this.  I don't know really know what I am supposed to do, but I do know God is with me.  I do know he is carrying me and showing me all the joy I have to be thankful for.  All the gifts still present in my life.  To be honest, I feel as though I am stuck in the sand of the ocean and I get to watch the whole world move forward and I want to scream at each person...how can you go about your daily lives while I am so broken here, ....don't you see me stuck here in the sand of the ocean while the waves lap over me almost drowning me each day...but then out the darkness I see this light and sometimes it is so small I have to squint to see it and sometimes it is bright and blinds me and that is Jesus and his love for me...it is little things he does to show me that he is here...he is with me...his grace he shows me in the most settle ways to help me feel his love...its in being able to rock my sweet baby to sleep, seeing lilacs in my backyard (one of her favs), listening to a favorite song on the radio, giggling over something silly my sweet little knox did, a deep hug from a friend, a phone call that made me smile, or hearing my sweet Nella talk about how she saw mamaw in her dreams.  

You see I could decide to dwell on the hurt, the pain, and be upset that she will not see my children grow and that I will not be able to hug her, tell her I love her and hear it back, or hear my mommas sweet laugh for the rest of my time on Earth.   BUT I will not choose to focus on that...I will choose to find joy in every single day even on the hardest days, I will find something to be joyful about.  I will find some sign of God’s grace.  

I have learned that life is unknown and only God knows our stories.  Only God knows what he has planned for us.  I have learned to value people and truly take time to love on your family and friends.  I have learned that little things don't truly matter.  I have learned that I am like my momma in a lot of ways and I am so incredibly proud of that.  I have her inside of me.  I have her in my heart.  It hurts, oh my does it hurt, but I am strong with God's love and I am strong because I am her daughter.  I will live this life choosing to make her proud and show the world who my momma was and what she stood for by who I am and what choices I make in my time on Earth.  I have learned it is okay to hurt, be angry, and just cry.  I have learned that I need GOD so much and because I couldn't even get out of bed without him. I have learned to choose joy everyday.  EVERY single day be grateful and joyful…every single day

I believe my little Crew looks a lot like her!  I love that reminder of her.  When he smiles…I see her

Thankful for Crew.  I will never be able to express to him how much being able to rock and snuggle him helped my heart.

Thankful for my children for they remind me of how joyous life is on hard days and remind me of Gods everlasting love for me!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

And then there were three...

Meet our sweet little Crew Matthew....

Born December 5th

Dear Sweet Crew, 

You, my sweet boy, are such an angel!  You were the gift I didn't know I would desperately need, the gift God gave us.  When we found out about you on April Fool's Day, Daddy and I thought God had a funny sense of humor and that he liked to keep us on our toes but God knew what joy you would bring to us, no to so many!  Upon finding out about you, the to-do list started and we knew lots of things had to change to prepare our lives for you.  And God helped us through each little item on the list and we would check them off.  I couldn't wait to meet you and I could wait to see your sweet face.  

See little one, you have always surprised us.  You surprised us by a quick delivery and didn't even let your mamaw and grammie make it into the room, but that is how God wanted it.   He wanted daddy and mommy to be the ones there when you arrived into the world.  You continue to surprise us with how aware you are, your huge smiles, and being the sweetest baby ever.  

Crew, you love guy, bring us more joy than I could ever describe.  You are the most content, loving little guy.  You love to be snuggled up close, have conversations, flash huge grins our way, and be sang too.  You adore your sister and your brother.  You love when they kiss you and smile so big when they talk to you.  You are what God knew we so desperately needed, but never dreamed we would have.  

See little guy, mommy and daddy soon after your birth, went through the hardest season of our lives.  We lost our dear mamaw and it breaks my heart to even type this.  It is something I wish I didn't have to tell you, something I wish wasn't our reality, but it is sweet one and God knew so desperately that I would need you.  He knew I would need this sweet angel to snuggle, rock, and sing too.  He knew!  He knew my heart would burst with joy with every smile you flash and that my tears would stop and that you would bring a smile to my face.  He just knew.  I am so incredibly grateful for you buddy and so thankful to Him for bringing me you, my angel boy.  I love you so much sweet boy!  More then I could ever put into words.  Thank you!  Thank you for being my easy going guy who smiles and reminds me every single day that Life is GOOD!  God is so good and with you three loves, mommy is going to be okay.  God knew I would need each one of you and I am so incredibly thankful for what He gives! 

WIth all my heart,