As this year comes to a close, I am reminded of all my blessings. 2007 was a difficult year for my family but we experienced many unforgettable moments that changed our lives. Thank you for sharing in this journey with us and for praying for our family. May you be richly blessed in this New Year.
Dear Friends and Family, As I reflect on the year 2007, I must say it was a year filled with emotion and love. For our family, it was a year of great joy and sorrow, one we will not ever forget and one that forever changed us in a way we never expected. Most of you know we learned we were expecting a baby last fall. What an unexpected surprise to say the least! (We thought our family was complete after the triplets were born.) After the shock set in, we really were excited that our baby would be a little girl. Even Maxwell was looking forward to a little sister in our house of boys. But January 2007 brought with it the heartbreak that our precious baby had a chromosomal disorder known as Trisomy 18. Tests revealed our daughter would not live long, if at all, and we prepared ourselves for the worst each day. My doctor was gracious enough to allow us to have as many ultrasounds as we wanted in order to see Madeline and get to enjoy her while she was safe in my body. Those days, peeking into her little world, kept us going and brought us such happiness just knowing she was doing okay at that moment. We prayed continuously and asked God for a miracle, to spare our child and heal her completely. Madeline, as we all know now, was quite a fighter. She continued to grow and thrive in the womb until her birth at 37 ½ weeks, when we finally got to meet her in person. June 27th was Madeline's birthday!!! She was a tiny 3 pounds, 12 ounces with a head full of black hair, looking lots like our Harry! Though her time here on earth was very short, those were the most joyous 12 hours of our lives. Madeline was able to breathe on her own and we got to hold and kiss her, bathe her, and try to fit in a lifetime of memories in a few short hours. Madeline left this world in our presence and we are comforted knowing she is in a much better place. Madeline taught us how to pray and that God really hears our prayers and answers them. We prayed for a miracle and got just that. Madeline Grace Hopkins was our miracle and we feel so blessed that God allowed us to be her parents. We have a huge investment in Heaven and look forward to the day when we get to see Madeline again. As for the rest of the family……….Maxwell has grown in so many ways during the last year. He will soon be nine years old and is a third grader with lots of friends. It is hard to believe that our “baby” is growing up so fast. Maxwell is a sweet boy with a very sensitive heart. It has been a blessing to see God working in his little life as we suffered through the loss of Madeline. He is my little “prayer warrior” and continues to ask God to watch over Madeline until we see her again. Maxwell loves school and is our creative child. Right now, Maxwell wants to be an artist or inventor when he grows up. He will sit and draw for hours at a time and loves to write stories as well. He even wrote and got his first book published this year. He has already planned all the other volumes he is going to write too. If you have not read his book, Animals, Animals, Animals (Volume 1) you have really missed out. It should be fun to see what his future holds. I know God has some great things in store for Maxwell! He is happiest when he is playing with his brothers or wrestling with Brian. Maxwell loves to read, sing, watch movies and be ‘in charge” of his little brothers. I think he is finally able to enjoy having so many brothers, although they do a great job aggravating him sometimes. Maxwell constantly keeps us laughing at all his funny little comments. One of my favorite sounds is to hear him really laugh when something is funny. Maxwell started a family tradition of telling one good and one bad thing that happened in our day as we all eat dinner together each night. He is very serious about this “share” time---typical Maxwell!!! Harrison, Grayson and Ashton turned 4 this summer and keep us very busy. They are quite the trio, filling our house with lots of noise. Harrison is the “oldest” and wants to be just like Maxwell. Harry loves trucks and anything you can ride on or race. Brian is sure he has a racecar driver in Harry! Harrison gives the best kisses and hugs and reminds us of Madeline with his dark hair and plump little lips. Grayson is our “middle” triplet and is pure mischief. He is always being silly and loves to keep trouble brewing between his brothers. Grayson has a twinkle in his eyes and the cutest little smile you have ever seen. He is very artistic and likes to draw and color. Ashton loves to say he is the “youngest, tallest” and is the most affectionate of our children. He loves shoes and clothes and would change every 30 minutes if we would let him. Ashton is our guitar-player and music lover. He remembers the words very quickly to all his favorite songs. The triplets are in Pre-K and are learning so much at school. We are amazed at all they are doing like writing their names and beginning to know sounds and letters. It seems like only yesterday that we were trying to figure out how to feed three hungry little ones at the same time and now they are big boys. Brian is the busiest man I know and manages to be a super daddy and husband in the process. I have learned so much from him in the last few months about trusting in God’s timing and purpose. I am so thankful to have him as my husband and friend. Brian stays busy with his used car lot, Sweet Water Auto, and a full-time job as an accountant for his uncle’s firm in Forsyth. He has plans to go back to school and take the CPA exam to get certified once tax season is over. This past summer he coached Maxwell’s baseball team and led them to a second place win for the season. Somehow he even finds time when he is not working to spend time with our boys and do all the fun things boys enjoying doing like hunting and riding four-wheelers. He is our hero and we love seeing him walk in the door at the end of each day. I am still teaching first grade at Midway for my 11th year. I am fortunate enough to work beside one of my dearest friends in the world each day. Jill and I keep each other motivated and laughing at all the funny things our students do and say. School is never dull when you work with 21 six year olds. Needless to say, I stay busy with the boys and can usually be found refereeing them as they play. I began a blog while I was expecting Madeline as a way to journal and I still use it to write sometimes. It has been neat “meeting” people from all over the country who have prayed for our family or who share similar experiences with us. Thank you all for your friendship and love and your constant prayer and support during this past year. 2007 held some of our best and worst times but with God’s grace, we look ahead with hope. We look forward to what the new year will bring and pray that each of you has a joyous holiday. God Bless. Mandy, Brian, and Boys
As I write this, another family I have met via the Internet and through blogging, has lost their precious baby girl to Trisomy 18. I am so saddened for them and ask that you pray for their family. You may go to their blog and read the details of Poppy Joy and her life at www.poppyjoy.blogspot.com
As I have thought of Poppy's family tonight and prayed for them, I have cried and remembered.....remembered holding Madeline that last moment before I had to give her away forever, the emptiness of a hospital room on a maternity floor with no baby to hold that first night, the sad look in the eyes of all the nurses who can't make it better, the grief counselor that can't really help you. The memories go on, all of them difficult. Each time I hear about some other family who loses a baby, my heart just breaks and it is like I relive losing Madeline all over again. My heart is heavy tonight and this sad news is painful for mothers like me who have been there. I wish I were able to do something for Poppy's family but all I can do is pray. Please join me in lifting them up right now.
I have been married for 10 years to my high school sweetheart and am the mother of 5 beautiful children...an 8 year old son and triplet boys who just turned 4. Madeline, our only daughter, went to be with Jesus on June 8, 2007. Madeline had Trisomy 18 and lived 12 precious hours. We miss her so much but know we will see her again in heaven.