Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Triplets turn 4!

On June 27th, 2003, the Hopkins family expanded by3! We were blessed to have Harrison, Grayson and Ashton all weighing in at over 5 pounds each. (I was certainly releaved to get them on the outside of my body!) Our family has certainly changed since Maxwell was our only child and we lived in a little tiny 2 bedroom house. We never imagined we would be the parents of triplets but are so glad God blessed us with these three wonderful boys four years ago today. Each of them is so unique and his own little person.

Harrison is the oldest and is most like Maxwell in his looks. He is brown-haired and eyed and has the fullest, most-kissable lips. He has the cutest laugh you have ever heard. Harrison's hero is Maxwell and he wants to do everything his big brother does. Harry is bossy and doesn't mind taking matters into his own hands when it comes to straightening out his brothers. He usually gets in the most trouble for hitting Ashton or Grayson when they disagree. Harrison is a loving child and likes to snuggle up with you for some one on one time when he needs it. He is very inquisitive and doesn't miss a thing when adults are talking.

Grayson is the "middle" triplet and the smallest of the three. Grayson is blonde-headed and has beautiful blue eyes. He is constantly making us laugh because he is either being super silly or very serious. Grayson is quite the individual and is the most independent of the three. He likes things just so and doesn't mind letting you know his likes and dislikes. He prefers playing by himself and loves to "fix" things. Nothing interests him more than figuring out how things work. He will sit for a long time and take the tires on and off his trucks. Grayson doesn't meet a stranger and asks lots of questions when he meets someone new.

Ashton is our "baby" and will tell you quickly that he is the "youngest tallest"! He is a big boy and loves being a little bigger than his brothers. Ashton is silly and likes to laugh. He is the most musical of the three and loves to sing. He has a gift for remembering the words to any song he hears and will request that you play his favorite tunes over and over. He has been dancing since he could barely stand up and likes music videos. Ashton should get a job in the entertainment industry someday since he is happiest when he has all the attention. He is also very conscious of what he wears and loves to change clothes and shoes throughout the day. Ashton likes to play ball and loves those Georgia Bulldogs.

As I think of our four children, I am reminded of how good God is and how blessed we are to be the parents of four healthy boys. We miss Madeline more than words can express and will always feel like a part of us is missing. The boys ask about her often. Harrison just asked me the other day when Madeline was going to come and live with us. Grayson and Ashton reminded him that she was living with Jesus and was in our hearts. I could not have said it better myself.

Monday, June 18, 2007

pictures of Madeline

We were fortunate enough to have a wonderful photographer present at Madeline's birth and he did a remarkable job capturing our time with her. He is a member of an organization called Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep and uses his talents as a ministry to others. I can not tell you how having these pictures is helping me to cope with losing Madeline. It is so good to be able to see her anytime I need to. Thank you Steve for being a part of our memories of our sweet Madeline Grace.

You may go to http://www.swsphoto.com/hopkins7373 and view these precious pictures of our daughter. There you can see why we loved her so much.

Mandy and Brian

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Happy Father's Day!

This Father's Day will no doubt be a hard one for Brian but he assures me that he has never felt more like a father than he does right now. We both are struggling with our grief and how to grieve with a house full of little boys. If I cry too much, it is upsetting to Maxwell and he cries too. Harrison, Grayson, and Ashton are full of questions and like to look at Madeline's pictures but they can not make much sense of her not being in my tummy anymore. They know Madeline is with Jesus but want to know how she got there so quickly. To say the least, it is a difficult time for this family but we are carrying on with our daily routines and will find a way for things to become a "new" normal. It will take time and prayer to mend our broken hearts.

I want to express what a wonderful father my sweet husband is. (He is going to wish I hadn't posted this I am sure but he never has been able to make me behave so here goes......) Brian is the most unselfish person I know and he loves me and his children unconditionally. There is no question where his priorities lay and anyone who knows Brian can attest to that. He is the kind of daddy that coaches baseball and loves every minute. He wipes noses and heinees and kisses boo-boos. He is a great entertainer and makes the children laugh with lots of tickles. He gets "beat up" on purpose when four little boys all wrestle him at one time. He is the kind of daddy who gives the best kisses in the world and will just about hurt you with his squeezes. He sings and dances and drives a real "Monster" truck. He traps wild hogs and lets the boys help him at the farm. He says prayers and doesn't forget anyone important. He laughs at silly jokes and silly boys and makes them each feel special. He works hard and always has lots of little shadows following. He drives a four-wheeler and always lets the boys ride. He fixes broken toys and broken hearts. He listens to stories and doesn't complain that he has heard them before. He watches cartoons even when something else is on that he would like to see. He races up the stairs to bed each night and always lets the kids win. He is a teeth-brusher and a bedtime enforcer. Brian is all of these things and so many more. He is at his best when he is being a daddy and it is always so fun to watch him with his children.

When I think of the last week and all the joy and pain it brought, I am reminded of how special Brian and Madeline were together. It was not me who bathed or dressed Madeline for the first and last time. It was her daddy. Brian was so insistent that Madeline be clean and he made sure everything was just perfect. I just watched in amazement as this tiny little girl changed her daddy's life forever. I had never known Brian to be more protective of any of our children. He carefully studied each tiny part of Madeline's body and made sure she was taken care of. He watched all of the monitors and could explain to me what each number meant.

Brian bonded with Madeline way before she was born. He never missed a chance to go with me to the doctor to see her on the sonogram. He always said that was the best way to start his day was by seeing Madeline on the sonogram screen. Most men would not have been able to bond with a baby that they knew might not live but not Brian. He always talked to Madeline while I was carrying her and even put my Ipod on my tummy to let her listen to music. He prayed unselfishly that God's will be done when all I could pray for was my own will. He was a good example of how to handle life when your world is falling apart. Brian loved Madeline from the beginning and he always will.

There is no question that Brian is a good father and that he deserves the best Father's Day any man could have. We love him so much!!!!


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Keeping Madeline's Memory Alive

Brian and I have talked and talked about ways to keep Madeline's memory alive and we have lots of great ideas. Some include helping other parents who find themselves in similar situations or giving to aid in genetic research. Our list of ideas goes on and on and we plan to really concentrate our efforts on this project very soon. Please pray that we are led to do the right thing that will benefit others the most.

If you would like to give, you may do so by making a donation to the Madeline Grace Fund at Exchange Bank in Milledgeville, GA. We appreciate your help in keeping Madeline's legacy alive!

Thank you,
Mandy and Brian

Lessons from Madeline

We feel so blessed that God chose us to be Madeline's parents. As much as we prayed for a miracle and wanted her to be "cured", God gave us a miracle in our daughter anyway. It was not what we had originally prayed for but it was a miracle indeed. He blessed us with a healthy pregnancy and allowed Madeline to grow and live inside of me for 37 weeks. God answered our prayer to meet Madeline alive at birth and get to spend some time with her. It was not as much as we wanted but it was such good quality time and we will never forget the joy we felt as we loved our little girl.

Madeline was a strong baby and we believe she fought to allow us the time to show her we loved her. Her little life could not have been an easy one but God gave her the strength to live each day. Madeline has changed the way we view life and the world. She has had a profound inpact on us and others as well. She taught us that life is so precious and God is indeed in control. We learned to value each day that we are given and be thankful for all the little things in life that we often take for granted. We learned that God really does listen to our hearts and really does answer prayers. Madeline has brought us closer to our families and closer to God and for that we are grateful. It is astounding that a tiny baby who lived only a short time could be loved so fiercely and teach us so much. We will never forget all the good that Madeline did in our lives.

Today will be a hard day as we lay our only daughter to rest. We know that her little spirit is in Heaven and there she is perfect. Brian just asked me last night what I thought Madeline was doing and we imagine that she is watching us and praying that we don't hurt. We miss her so much and long to hold her tiny body next to ours and kiss her all over. I would give anything to have just another moment with her but in heaven we can catch up on all our lost time. I am reminded often that this life here on earth is just a glimpse of our eternal life in Heaven. I have never been more excited about getting to heaven than I am now.


Sunday, June 10, 2007

Our Miracle!

As many of you know, Madeline was born on Thursday, June 7th 8:26 PM. At my doctor's appointment that day we realized Madeline's heart was under stress and my doctor decided we needed to deliver immediately. It was the scariest time of our lives but we just clung to the hope and prayer that we would get to meet Madeline alive.

Indeed, we did! She was born at 8:26 Thursday night and was just beautiful. Brian got to immediately be with her while I was recovering from surgery. He followed her into the NICUnit where they assessed Madeline and started her on oxygen and monitored her heart. She was doing very well and we were so thankful that Madeline even made two tiny little cries. I got to give her a quick kiss before they got her stabilized.

Brian stayed with Madeline while checking in on me and giving me reports of her condition. Everything was looking good and I finally got to see her around 11:00 that night. She was breathing on her own with a little oxygen in her nose and it was so amazing to finally meet this little life that I had known for so long. Madeline was just beautiful and looked so much like Harrison, with a head full of almost-black hair and the fullest lips you can imagine. She had the most perfect little feet and to be as tiny as she was (3 lbs 12.6 ounces and 15 3/4 inches) Her feet were long and skinny, just like her Daddy's.

Brian and I got to spend some really good time with Madeline until the wee hours of the morning. Brian gave her a good bath and we dressed her in a little gown and hat. She made the sweetest little noises but never cried or fussed. I think she really enjoyed her bath best. I then was able to hold her while she took her formula and she slept peacefully. It was so amazing to know that she was here and feel the incredible love we had for her. Some of my family and close friends got to visit Madeline in the NICUnit too. We were all prayful and ever so thankful that this baby we had prayed and hoped for was living and breathing. You could even see her little tiny heart as it beat inside her chest. What a relief it was for me to see each beat of her heart and the rise and fall of her chest.

By 8:00 the next morning, Madeline's little body was getting tired and her heartrate began to drop. Brian and I got to be with her at the very end of her beautiful, short life and spent the day holding and kissing her. We got to really study her and shared some more sweet time with our daughter. All of our family and some close friends were there as well as we said our goodbyes to Madeline. Maxwell even got to hold and love her too. It was the saddest experience of our lives and one we had prayed would not be too soon. We know that God was with us through it all and He had answered our prayers of getting to meet Madeline alive. He even gave us some special time with her that we will never forget.

Brian and I are trying to cope with this incredible loss and need your prayers so much. We knew the day would come when we might lose Madeline but were not prepared for it so suddenly since she was doing so well initially. She surprised a lot of people, even her doctors and nurses.

We are planning to have a graveside service on Wednesday evening at 7:30 at Heritage Memorial Park on Log Cabin Road. We chose this time because it is our favorite time of day. Thank you all for your prayers, calls, cards and emails. It has been comforting to have your support. We know that God will see us through our grief and heartbreak. We love Madeline with all of our hearts and miss her so much. I just wish I could kiss those full little lips one more time. But I'll have to wait to do that in heaven.


Wednesday, June 6, 2007

2 weeks away!

We are scheduled for delivery on June 20th, only 2 weeks away. I am getting increasingly anxious about all of the unknowns. I wake up all through the night and just pray when I am having trouble sleeping that Madeline will get through the delivery and we can have precious time with her. Please pray specifically for her heart, lungs, kidneys, and brain. All that we know for sure now is that she has a large VSD or hole in her heart but she could have other organ issues too. We will know more when she is born.

Brian recently wrote our birthplan for Madeline and it includes all of our wishes on her care at the time she is born. It was so hard for me to read it and try to relate it to our child. I never imagined that we would have to make these kind of decisions or think about such details as we are being faced with. It is just the hardest thing and is really heartbreaking for us but we are still believing that only God knows what lies ahead and we can only prepare ourselves and wait.

I woke up several mornings ago and imagined all of my family and friends in the waiting room as I delivered Madeline and just thought about how great it will be if everyone is praying for us during that time. I know that is what will get us through this. Thank you for your continued prayer and support.