Tuesday, February 17, 2015

hello? Is this thing on?

Freeland pointed out to me the other night that my last update on this little space was in November.

ALSO** The noonday spring line is live today!!! Its beautiful. I'll share more about it soon. You can see it here if you want. www.brookeackley.noondaycollection.com****

Well, a lot has happened since November. Thats crazy.

I have about 15 minutes until the babe wakes up so I will write my little heart out until then. Who knows how many times I'll be interrupted in those 15 minutes by other little ones asking for a snack, more milk, a different snack etc.

(full disclosure - this ended up taking 3 days to actually finish posting and its not even long or thought provoking.)

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Im uploading pictures for my own sake that I want to post and have on here (first day of school .. remember that? Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas .. our family pictures) Freeland is half way through his 3rd year and well on his way to his 4th year of residency. Ive been on 2 trips to different conferences and my sweet pop also passed away so I took an unexpected trip to Texas in the middle of that to celebrate his life with family too. Freeland is in Kenya again right now working with Cure and visiting Naomi's Village and our friends there. Thats what I can think of at the moment.

I miss this little space though and writing all the things the Lord is doing and what we are learning and just sharing our little lives on here so hopefully I can get back to it.


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For now I will update you on how things are with the lil nugget.

She is 5 months old now. She will be 6 months old on the 29th. WHAT THE WHAT?

She has THE BEST smile. I mean it lights up a room. Im so tired of not showing you her face because its just the most precious little face ever and I cant wait for you to see it. She smiles a lot and loves her brothers and sister so much. She laughs the most with them. She is definitely attached to us and Im so thankful for that. She kinda freaks out if anyone else holds her for too long and Im not near. (momma's girl) I'll take it and just praise the Lord for it.

We spend a lot of the day holding her and entertaining her. She is in the middle of tons of physical therapy and early intervention is coming to our house to work with her weekly too. So far she is a little fighter and meeting a handful of her milestones but we want to work hard to make sure it stays that way and the gap doesnt get even larger - if she is capable of hitting those milestones at least. If not then we'll go from there. We still do lots of weight checks to make sure she is gaining weight and growing like she should. I tried to start her on some food to give her even more calories but she may not be ready just yet. We do let her play with a spoon and occasionally taste things because its what they recommend we do for her. I'll try food again soon.

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She has good days and bad days. Im so thankful for her good days. They help me to see little glimpses of life being normal again. Normal, meaning where Im not exhausted from a newborn-ish baby and sleep deprived. Ive accepted that our life will never actually be 'normal' again.

Things got better at 4.5 months and then she got sick or something and she had a handful of really hard weeks/nights but I think we are on the upswing again. (im writing that so I can remember.. it does get better!)

This week happens to be a great week so thats why I feel like Im able to write all this. She actually put herself to sleep 3 times this week! I could do jumping jacks and cartwheels all over our house from that. Its amazing how much simpler that makes my day feel. It may never happen again but I will celebrate the fact that it did actually happen and she was able to do it!

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Her OT (occupational therapist) keeps reminding me to seriously celebrate the victories she has because they really are HUGE considering all she has experienced. It is a blessing having someone in my house pointing out the things she does that are worth celebrating because I can easily forget and see the things she isnt doing or worry about all the "what ifs". I joked with my friends and with the OT, Sue, that all moms need someone like her to come to their house weekly because she literally just sits and tells me what a great job Im doing. For example, when lil nugget was tired and I picked her up to swaddle her and get her to bed (a very normal thing to do that nobody would think twice about. I mean we would all just do that without thinking about it right - pick up a fussy baby?) she went on and on about how wonderful that was that I know her cues and can easily comfort her. All the sudden something I would never think twice of - Im like "yeah, you're stinkin right! This is amazing. Im like actually a good mom and know what to do! And she is SO comforted right now" ha. Its ridiculous. I could write so many sweet and silly things she has cheered me on for. But having someone cheering you on for an hour every week somehow makes a difference and I think every mom needs a Sue in their life. (and it makes me wonder - what is she normally seeing if she is praising me for knowing normal things to do)


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Where it stands (technically, I guess, if youre trying to understand what is actually happening) is that we are still her foster parents. Her birth family still has legal custody of her (meaning she is not legally in the custody of the state which is why we are foster parents) We will remain foster parents until the state seems fit for her to either return to her family or until the state legally removes her family's custody of her. At that time she would then legally be in custody of the state and able to be adopted.

There have been more than a handful of court dates and a ton going on, of course. But at the same time, as you can see,  nothing is happening or changing. It just takes time. That doesnt bother me at all. I have a peace about the process happening and I dont feel anxious about any of that.

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(photo by River James.. He is really proud of this one! :)

Since the beginning we have done weekly visitations with her birth mom. They have been just fine. By the grace of God that hasnt been hard. I dont mind them and I truly see it as a gift that she comes every week and that I have the chance to know her some. Things are starting to get complicated in this area but the Lord is still so faithful and I have a peace that he is guiding this whole process.

I could probably write a million thoughts here but I digress.

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I really want to share so much and I feel like the Lord has given me a desire to share a lot of it but I also want to pray about it because this really isnt our story to share. Its hers. I can get over all my own fears of being misunderstood and all that but Im more cautious because once I put it out there - its out there and how does that affect her? Im constantly thinking "what if she finds this and reads it one day? What will it feel like to her to read these words"? So Im still praying about it all. I do feel a peace about sharing what we have learned through all this and I cant wait to have the time to sit down and share that.

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This has been the hardest and the best thing we have done to date. (emotionally and mentally its hard. Physically its just whatever it is.) I never imagined how hard it would be and what it would feel like. If you had told me I probably would have said no to it all. Because I dont love doing hard things. Except I love her so I wouldnt have said no. She is worth it. The Lord is worth it. And we are just in a season of laying down our lives, growing in discipline and obedience and faith and its been humbling and wonderful.

Okay its 9:40 at night and I can still hear Wylder yelling "Cocka doodle doooooooo" in the bedroom and River saying "please shut your mouth" so I should probably go take care of that situation.

Hopefully I'll post again before her 1st birthday! (just kidding.. I really hope to post again this week)

and because Im sure my family wants to see here are some pictures of all the bigs:

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Rivers first homework assignment ever - he was so excited!

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wylder got new glasses.

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Friday, November 21, 2014

the first day with our new addition ..

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Phew, here we are, almost 3 months in with our new little peanut.

There is so much to update, so much to remember, so much to share, so much I dont feel like I can share.. and so on. The transition to 4 has been just fine but my "free time" is out the window and gone so its a lot harder to find the time to sit down and write all this out. At least while we are deep in newborn-hood ... once she sleeps longer than 30 minutes during the day I know it will be better.

But I finally have a moment to sit down at the computer so I thought I would update our little blog. This has actually taken weeks sitting here and there to write.

Thank you to those of you who have prayed, reached out, celebrated, listened, interceded, called, texted, sent cards, sent meals and loved us so well in so many different ways. We've needed it. I love running in to people and them begging to see her picture and wanting to hear all about her. It thrills me to know she is adored all over!

I feel like there is a fine line of what Im "allowed" to share and what I can not share. Im not sure I know where or what the line is. But I do feel deeply convicted to respect her birth mom as I share details. I also feel deeply convicted that her, our foster-daughter's, story isnt completely ours to share. Its her story to share. (it PAINS me to type out foster daughter.. that is not what she is to us.. so I wont ever say that again. Just so you know. Regardless of what happens.. right now she is our daughter in this house. She is a sister to 3 siblings. I dont say that with a dramatic undertone, I promise. I just wanted to throw it out there.)

So, here is some of the story. Forgive me if I share too much or dont share enough.

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(blurry because someone else took it - but it works)

We got a phone call on Wednesday afternoon, September 3rd, letting us know there was a baby who had been born and needed a home. A girl? A boy? I had no idea - just a baby is all I knew. Freeland was at work. I got the phone call from our resource manager first. She thought I had already received the news so she was calling to check how I felt. I had no idea what she was talking about because I actually had not received a phone call. So it was a little anti-climatic in that sense.

I immediately called Freeland and told him to keep his phone by him at work because we'd be getting a call and I had no idea when.

Around 5:00 I received a phone call from the case worker with more information. I sat in the backyard while all the kids played and got some details on what the history was and what we could expect and I was able to ask questions as well. In hindsight - it was basically a 10th of the story. But, I told the case worker yes - before I talked to Freeland.. knowing Freeland would say yes too.

And he did.

We sent out texts to family letting them know "ITS A GIRL" and within the next 24 hours we would have a little girl in our home once again.

And then we waited. I immediately wanted run to the hospital to get her. I mean I already said yes - why couldn't I be there? The thought of a little innocent baby spending another night in the hospital alone without a parent by her bedside was a lot. (not to worry, I later learned she was never alone at the hospital! Which made me cry big alligator tears of joy too. Also, her birth mother was there with her as well and even when the birth mom was discharged from the hospital she did come to see her) The baby wouldnt be discharged from the hospital until the next day and they had to get the legal work done for us to be able to come and be there with her. At least, thats my understanding of why we had to wait?

The way I felt after receiving the phone call and knowing a baby would be placed in our house was definitely not how I expected.  Of course I was thrilled and couldn't wait to see her and have her with us. We were ready and excited! But it also just felt heavy. The minute I was on the phone with the case worker hearing the details and knowing what we were doing .. I just felt the weight of it all. The reality that our celebrating was at the expense of another mothers pain was a lot.  Of course, I knew this going in to it. As a foster parent this is how it would look. A child is being taken from a home and from parents and being put in to yours. They arent asking to have their child removed. Yes, you could say their decisions led to this and analyze it a hundred different ways but it doesnt change that its still painful for everyone involved. So even though I knew this going in to it .. living it out feels so much more messy and complex. I found myself so excited one minute and so grieved the next.

The conclusion that Ive come to so far is that our response and our feelings are just a realistic response.  Adoption and foster care feel really glorified when its far off and something we're dreaming about and reading about but the reality of it doesnt "feel" as glorified. Its a person you are dealing with. Its heartbreaking and there are a lot of unknowns and even though its been WONDERFUL (seriously) that doesnt mean it hasnt been without an ache too.

okay.. moving on.

So, on Thursday morning I dropped River off at school and ran around town like a mad woman/hot mess grabbing diapers, formula, preemie clothes, bottles etc. It was so so fun. It helped a ton for me to wrap my head around all of it. I loved spending the morning gathering things for her and praying and calling people to let them know. The funny thing is I always thought we'd be placed with a little boy. I never imagined an infant girl! It was such a surprise. I loved spending those hours wondering what she looked like and what her little personality would be like.

Freeland had the afternoon off (even though he was on call.. raise those hands up yall .. that was the Lord. He actually never once got paged the entire night either) so he got home and we pulled out the swing and all the baby items and got them set up in her room. It was a sweet time of expectation and the kids were precious.

We watched the clock like crazy waiting until it was time for us to go. Finally it arrived and we make our way to the hospital! (actually we still left early because - we're impatient) We took the kids over to my friend Te'sheba's house and then we headed to the hospital to meet our daughter. Wylder cried because he was so sad he couldn't come with us. Which I just love his sweet heart.

Freeland and I spent the drive praying together. Praying over the baby, praying over the birth mom and her family, praying over the case workers and our own family too. Its hard to describe what it felt like pulling in to the hospital and waiting for the case worker to come get us with no idea what was about to happen or how to prepare ourselves. Being a first time placement was strange. There was so much unknown for us. But there we were - waiting. Nervous, excited, grieving for her birth mom, it was somber and exciting all at the same time. The case worker came and found us and walked us up to her room.

All eyes were on us as we walked through the hallway (this may not have been true but its how it felt) Then we turned the corner and right across from the nurses station was her room. It was dark and there was this little itty itty bitty baby bundled up that I could barely see.

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She was in her little bed just sleeping. (which is hard to believe because she rarely did that again once we got home! ha) She was perfect and beautiful and peaceful and so so so adored by everyone there.

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Freeland & I sat trying to take it all in. I picked her up first and got to hold her. It was overwhelming and sweet. But at the same time there was a ton of information being thrown our way and papers that needed to be signed and staff coming in and out of the room. So while I wish I could say it was such a dreamy moment - it was just a really realistic moment of the fact that we were foster parents too. In hindsight I would have just asked for a moment to sit and see her and wait to do all the logistics after. Actually, if I had it my way, Id ask them to let me just stay at the hospital with her for 2-4 days bonding .. but we all know this already, right? I love the hospital! ;)

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After we got as much information as we could and signed all the paperwork and hugged the nurses and the social worker and the case workers and thanked them for all they had done and were doing and for adoring this sweet little girl and standing in the gap for her - we walked out.

Officially as a family of 6 for the first time.

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I got in the car and sat in the back with her because I just wanted to sit and stare at her. She was the tiniest thing I had ever seen. (she was about 4lbs and 15 ounces when she left the hospital which I know isnt THAT little in comparison really but to me it was so little).

On the way home we found out that our friends had ordered pizza for all the kids to celebrate and pray together so we headed back to the Olivers so the kids could meet their sister for the first time and so we could spend some time in prayer with friends.

There is a picture of all the kids (ours, the carlisles and the olivers) all standing at their window from inside the house trying to see her as we pulled up. I love it! Then they all ran out to greet her!

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We didnt make it home until almost 8:30 or 9:00 that night. And there we were putting 4 kids to bed.

It was crazy and its still all so surreal to me. Life didnt stop or slow down. That was the strangest part. Having a newborn in the home but your husband going back to work the next morning at 5:45 and still needing to get the other 3 kids up and out the door for school. Ha. I mean I just have to laugh at that. But the Lord has so graciously sustained us in the midst of a very busy season.

So there is the story of the first day with our little nugget. The kids are HEAD OVER HEELS in love with her. I keep saying that if anything - all of this was worth it just to see their love for her. Ive never seen River react this way to a baby and be so affectionate and enamored. Its so sweet. Wylder of course loves her deeply. That boy cant get enough of babies and he tells EVERYONE about her all the time. Chapel, oh my goodness, she was my biggest concern. You may not know, but Chapel was basically attached to my hip for the first 18 months of her life. Rarely even letting her dad hold her if I was in the room (if I was gone - no problem) and she even freaked out if her own brothers were sitting in my lap. What was she going to do with a new baby? As you can see in the pictures above she immediately took to her. I stood there in shock and couldnt believe my eyes. I was prepared to have to have Freeland hold the baby all night while I held Chapel. But its like from that day on Chapel has been fine. The first thing she wants to do each morning and after her nap is go kiss and hug baby sister (and say "its okay sister I got you") if anything she loves her a little too much and Im constantly supervising how much affection is shown. I still, 3 months later, cant believe how well all the kids transitioned to having another baby in the home. Dont worry, theyre already asking for another one too!

I hear a baby crying so thats all I got for now. Excuse the typos and rambling. I didnt have time to even pretend to check any of this. (as if Ive ever cared about grammar) Thank you again for always celebrating with us and letting us share our journey with you!