June 30, 2013

We Have Puffy Eyes and Heavy Hearts…BUT We Also Have HOPE.

The last few days, as expected, have been an emotional roller coaster for us and we know that he has been for many of you as well.  We wanted to share some of our special, merciful experiences that have occurred over the last few days.

Lady Hiva and I, as we have done many times in the past, closed the door to the house, turned off the phones and re-grouped. To be honest, Lady Hiva and I both greet the world with puffy eyes and heavy hearts...but no matter how hard it is right now, we know the Savior loves us and we can make it through this together. We miss Aleki fiercely. Our home seems empty without him. We never know when the grief of sadness will hit.  There are moments when we both break down and cry—when the neighbor boy brought back Aleki’s little sock that must have fallen off at their house or when we hear another baby’s cry for someone to hold them.  Despite all the hurt of loss, we have faced challenges before and we know that if we remain close to the Lord and close to each other that we will heal.

Grieving loss is an interesting aspect of life. We all experience it in different ways. Lady and I, over the years, have been through it and watched our family members go through it. Feelings of anger, frustrations, sadness, fear, and doubt all clamor for our attention. However, we have also learned that when we focus on our relationship with those we love and our relationship with our loving Heavenly Father, we will receive strength, love, mercy, and joy.

Just as we have in the past, we have felt an outpouring of love and support during this heartbreaking time. All of your prayers, messages, and words of kindness have buoyed us up. We thank you all for that.

This experience leads us to want to ask the question WHY? Some of the same questions many of you have voiced to us: Why after years of trying to have children do we have another taken away? Why is life so hard? The list could go on and on.  But we have also learned, with past challenges, that those questions are fruitless and dangerous. Instead, our focus is praying for strength to overcome and to understand the positive.

We know that we have a loving Heavenly Father. He loves each of us as his children. He knows our strengths, our struggles, our fears and our talents. We know when we need help, and He sends it. This week that help has come us in the form of your letters, calls, text and encouragement. It has also come from Heather and her friend Crystal driving all the way here to spend a day with us—we were able to laugh and remember life is beautiful even during dark times. We have also felt that love as members of our ward have left notes at our door or come to just give hugs and let us sob on their shoulders.

We know that families can be together forever! There is NOTHING on this earth that can take that away from us. We know that all of our children who have returned to our heavenly home will be there waiting for us to join them.

We also know, as hard as it may seem, that agency—the ability to choose—is an eternal principle in this life. Heavenly Father will never take it away. We often wonder why bad things happen to good people or what we did to deserve this or that…that is entirely the wrong way to look at it. Just as we know Heavenly Father loves us individually, we know he wants us all to learn and grow. The way we learn that is by making choices and living with those consequences.

Yes, when we see a child go astray, or abuse, or a myriad of other problems in life we wish we could take the agency away from someone who is hurting themselves and possibly others. But we can’t. What we can do is pray to understand that Heavenly Father loves us all and wants us to succeed. He will send the help we need to overcome and heal.

For example, Aleki came into our lives through a series of choices. And, similarly, he left when his birth mother made a choice to raise him herself. With all the things Lady Hiva and I have learned and stated above, we know that Heavenly Father loves Aleki’s birth mother just as he loves Lady Hiva and I. He would never take away her ability to choose. But He doesn’t just leave us empty and alone.

Lady Hiva and I know that Heavenly Father loved us enough to send His Son, Jesus Christ, to earth to overcome our pains, our sorrows, our trials and sins. It is through Him that we feel love and understanding. It is through that knowledge we receive peace amid heartache.

We may not be able to raise Aleki as we want to, but we still want to have children someday.  We are thankful for Tau’aho that Lady is still carrying, and he will be a unique joy of his own--just like Aleki was a joy to us—but he will not a replacement. We know there will be moments of tears and sorrow. But we also know the future is bright and we are continually blessed.

June 28, 2013

Goodbye Once More, This Time to Aleki

Today, Aleki joined his five siblings and left us after only a short stay in our family. It is hard to write this post, but so many of you have been so loving, supportive and kind we wanted to make sure that you all knew.

In Virginia, a birth mother has 10 days after giving birth to change her mind about placing her baby for adoption. For Aleki that date was today. Last night, about 2100h we received a call from the social worker that said the birth mother had changed her mind and that they would have to come pick up Aleki today at noon.

I cannot begin to tell you the rush of emotions that heaped on Lady Hiva and I. It felt like some sort of horrible nightmare. Deep down I hoped and prayed she would change her mind—again. She hadn’t even wanted to see him after he was born and now she was taking him back.

We spent the few precious hours we had left with Aleki, loving him, reading to him and taking turns holding him. We read him books, something that he loves, kissed his cheeks and told him how much we will miss him.

It was the all too familiar feeling of knowing you were losing your baby and you couldn’t do anything about it. All you can do is love the moments that you have. Since Aleki came to our family, there was a peaceful reverence in our home, last night that reverence shifted to a sad solemnness.

We stayed up holding him, unwilling to miss any time together. When we finally did sleep we put him in our bed with us and Lady curled up on one side and I curled up on the other.

Today we watched the dreadful clock as it crept to show noon. We gave Aleki one last bath and put on a fresh set of clothes.  Then we sat as a family, as close as we could get, and we read stories and sang and waited.

Kissing him one last time as the social worker took him was hard. Watching him walk out the door was even harder. We spent the next few hours filling our once again baby-less home with tears and memories.

We don’t know what the future holds. Nor do we know why this occurred. Hopefully we will understand some day. For now, we will mourn the loss of Aleki and look forward to Tau’aho’s arrival. Hopefully we will take our track record from 0 for 6 to 1 for 7 next month.

--We love you, Aleki. We will miss holding you close enough to smell your fresh skin and listening to you gurgle and coo as you sleep. We will miss your wiggly fingers and toes and how mad you would get when we changed your diaper. Most of all, we will miss the joy you brought into our home during the time we were lucky to be called your parents. Like your siblings, you have a special place in our hearts and we will pray for you each day, our little Sweetheart--

June 25, 2013

Little Experiences that Warm the Heart

Today was a good day. I say this for several reasons: first Aleki is one week old today! YAY! Second is that Lady Hiva is still pregnant with Tau’aho and both seem to be doing well.

Aleki has become the center of our world over the past several days. You may say, “Of course he is, he is a newborn and they demand plenty of attention.” And if you did, you would be right. However, having waited SO long to have a little person in our home, we welcome all of those demands. As I said before, Aleki is a week old! And he still looks and feels healthy. So we may be new at this, but we must be doing alright to some extent.

Plenty of people comment about “welcome to having a new born and (fill in the blank)” some say ‘dirty diapers’ others say ‘no sleep’ etc. We smile and say, “Yes, thank you.” In the past week, we have been up all hours of the night. We have taken naps when Aleki was sleeping so that we were on the same schedule. We have changed countless diapers. Aleki has decided to pee on both of us at different times while his diaper was off! (The first time that happened was to Lady Hiva at 0230 in the morning. I woke up to both of them screaming—she out of shock and trying to get it covered and he because he HATES to be naked. Haha!)

There is not a moment that Aleki does not have one of us in his face telling him a story or kissing his tiny little cheeks. The poor guy didn’t know what he got himself into. Watching him sleep so peacefully brings a smile of joy to my face--every time. I miss him when I am at work and cannot wait to hold his little hands as I read a story to him.

Actually, it truly warms my heart (I know that is a trite phrase, but it is true) to watch Lady Hiva be a mother. I love to hear the love in her voice as she talked to Aleki and tells him all about her day. To see the kindness in her eyes and the smile on her face as she holds him is special. She has waited a long time for this and I am so happy a loving Heavenly Father has sent Aleki to us.

Aleki is quite the popular guy. We have a steady stream of people coming to say hello and to hold him. We have a new plate of cookies every day! Woohoo! So if you like cookies, have a baby…hehe. We even had one family come over to sing him to sleep. We even had some friends sneak into the building and decorate our door.  Everyday we have packages arrive from around the world with notes of love and encouragement. Their words mean so much to us. What an awesome support group. We are truly blessed.

That same support group has prayed for 8 months for Lady and Tau’aho. And it is working! People that known our story or read WHITE LILIES IN AUTUMN have been so good to us. Lady had an appointment today and there are still no signs of labor! YAY. We even scheduled her C-section. It is amazing to think that every week we are so thankful we made it through and here we are at the end and will possibly make it to week 40. We never thought we would make it this far, nor did we think we would have two babies for that matter. A testimony that prayer works.

A fun fact is that as of right now, Tau’aho and Aleki weigh only a few ounces different! We had to give Aleki a pep-talk to eat “lots” so he can grow big and strong…otherwise his little brother will look like a giant next to him.

So here is to celebrating being still pregnant and having a healthy one week old!

June 21, 2013

#1of2: An Enormous Amount of LOVE For Such A Little Guy

#1 of  2 babies that will join our home  in the next few weeks has arrived!

Aleki William Bradshaw

We had 10 days from the time that we found out about baby Aleki to the day he was born. It was a busy ten days too! We spent hours and hours in stores and online researching strollers for twins, bottles, baby carriers, etc.

The whole idea of having him come to our family was a bit surreal. We were going to have baby! Well, two babies!

Family and friends continued to show an outpouring of love. They offered excitement, gifts and plenty of advice. Lady Hiva and I  were able to use what things were given to us and supplemented them with a few things to have a make-shift nursery. We were finally ready for him to arrive!

And then we waited. And prayed. And waited some more.

He was born on Tuesday and we were able to go see him on Wednesday. We cannot describe the feelings and love that we both felt as we stood there and watched our little son being prepared by the nurses for the evening.

He had his little “Stats Chart” above his head and I leaned in closer to see if my eyes were failing because I thought it said that he was 5lbs 9oz! That couldn’t be correct. That is so small he was a full term baby. But sure enough, even with my head close to the chart it still said 5 and a half pounds! CRAZY! In my family an average baby is 7-8lbs. For Lady Hiva’s family it is a bit more. As proof, Lady Hiva’s cousin gave birth yesterday to a baby that was double and some the weight of Aleki!
Being introduced to Aleki for the first time...this was a very tearful moment

We had to leave him overnight and come back to get him the next morning. It was hard to leave…but it gave us a chance to go through Vaitafe’s cloths that he was never able to wear so we could find some preemie outfits! 5 pounds! Our baby is a little doll.
Wearing Vaitafe's preemie outfit that Vaitafe was never able to use

Yesterday the time for discharging him from the hospital couldn’t come any faster. We were both so excited. We made it to the hospital and spent the next hour with the nurses learning how to be parents to a newborn. We had some very engaging conversations about us having a newborn but Lady is still pregnant…haha.

When the nurse asked us which one was going to change the diaper, Lady didn’t even hesitate “Dad!” HAHA…OK, sounds good.

Mommy holding him for the first time...

On our way home
Madre and Kell were here for a day with Heather’s kids. It was so fun to have them come over for the rest of the day and see Aleki. They were SO excited. Each one of them wanted to have turns holding Aleki. The practiced his name over and over until they had it committed to memory. They were also thrilled about the fact that Lady Hiva is still pregnant and that Tau’aho will be Aleki’s baby brother.

Grandma gets to hold her newest grandchild--although he will only hold that title until his brother comes

Grandpa too

One of the things that Heather, Lady and I all said at different times is how much Aleki looks like Vaitafe. If you look at our photos with Vaitafe you could think they were the same baby. In fact, someone found an old photo on Facebook of Vaitafe and “liked” it so about 50 more people did too! HAHA…if they would read the comments they would see that it was a 3 year old photo…some of them still didn’t know about Aleki and assume that Lady gave birth. It is funny to see their reaction when they find out.

Lady Hiva and I went to bed full of love and thankfulness. Neither of us wanted to be too far from Aleki. He truly has our love. We are grateful we have been blessed with the chance to welcome him to our family even as crazy as having him come at the same time as Tau’aho. We cannot wait to have them together.

Here are some long awaited photos that I promised you all. But don’t worry, I think Lady Hiva and I may be those parents who post photo after photo of their baby because it is the cutest baby in the world so there will be more to come.