He proposed to me on Christmas Eve in 2003 and we married on November 24th 2004. 3 months into our marriage, we stood together in the bathroom of our first apartment, staring at a positive pregnancy test. Excited, young and completely clueless. At 16 weeks we found out we were expecting a perfectly healthy and super active little boy. The entire pregnancy was easy and I was gullible and life was easy and I had no reason to think it would ever be any different.
Asher entered our lives on December 15th 2005 and I was instantly hooked on motherhood. He stole my heart the second I laid eyes on his little face. That day marked the beginning of so much for me. I knew right then as I held his little hand in mine, that I was made to be a mom.
When he was just over a year old we were surprised but happy to find out I was pregnant again. Between Asher keeping me busy and never thinking twice about having a healthy pregnancy, I barely remember those first 20 weeks. I do remember someone asking me once if I had felt the baby yet. I remember thinking I had but not much. I shrugged it off and figured it was still early.
I met Brandon in 2002 when I was just 19 years old. I remember feeling like he just appeared out of no where. Both of us headed into two totally opposite directions and then one day, when he came to our house to pick up his little brother, our paths collided.
He stepped into my kitchen where I was standing and as soon as I looked up at him in his hat and flannel shirt, hair flipping out around the sides, I just had this feeling in my gut and I knew. He was the one.
Sounds a little cliché but I guess when God’s timing and perfect plan interrupts your life the way it did mine and everything seems to suddenly make sense, it kinda feels a little that way. Like it’s just all too good to be true. He loved the Lord, he loved his mom, he could sing and he looked darn cute in a hat.
We sat at dinner one night, not long after we met, noise and people surrounding us when he looked right at me and asked “how many kids do you want one day?”
Without hesitating I answered him… “Four.”
I can still see the way he leaned into me as I answered.
“Me too” he said. I had no idea how much those few sentences and that night, that conversation, would stick in my heart for the next 11 years.
We went in for our anatomy scan at 20 weeks to find out what we were having. My mom and sisters came along with Brandon and I. We were all secretly hoping for a girl. I remember sitting in the waiting room, drinking a diet dr. pepper hoping to get the baby moving so we could get a good look. I didn’t feel any movement but still having no clue that anything could be wrong, I figured it was just early.
I laid down on the table feeling excited and impatient. The lights turned off with only the glare from the ultrasound machine to light up the room and then all I heard was quiet. The loudest quiet. And my doctor said “Something isn’t right. I’m so sorry Laura, but the baby doesn’t have a heart beat.”
I thought for sure he was making a mistake. Like maybe if he just kept looking, he would find it. It just wasn’t possible. It wasn’t real. ‘Just keep looking I thought.’
But then the lights turned on and he reached for my hand to help me sit up. I didn’t want to take his hand, or sit up. Because sitting up made it real.
Our baby had no heartbeat.
Our baby wasn’t alive.
I delivered a tiny baby girl that day in May of 2007. Right before I gave the last push, I felt a flood of strength and the words “I can do this” came out of my mouth in a voice that didn’t feel like my own. And my doctor said back to me “yes you can.”
He handed our first baby girl to me wrapped in a blanket and I held her as close as I could. Time seemed to stop in those moments.
People will tell you they’ve had an out of body experience…this was mine. It didn’t feel real, almost like I was watching it all happen from across the room. I truly believe God’s grace covered me and shielded me from the pain of it all. I don’t remember very many details but I remember my parents and Brandon’s parents standing around the bed as we each held her and said goodbye and prayed over our little girl.
We named her Grace. It was the only name for her.
She was GRACE.
Grace Ann Caddell.
We found out later that she had passed away at 18 weeks. The abnormalities she had were not genetic but rather by chance and should have ended in an early miscarriage. But our Grace kept on and I will never take for granted the gift of holding her here on earth even if just for a moment.
We scheduled a delivery date for two days later, the soonest they could fit me in. I went home and got in my bath and I cried. I’m not sure for how long but I don’t remember when I stopped. My mom called at one point to talk about a funeral service and where we could burry the baby. I stared at the ceiling as the words sunk in. A funeral service. I hadn’t even thought about it. Not only would I have to deliver my baby, but then we’d have to burry him or her too. It felt like too much for one person to have to bare and I wasn’t sure how I would be able to.
The morning of the induction I sat up in my bed not wanting to get out. I remember thinking if I tried to stand I might fall down to my knees. I could literally visualize it happening. I held my hands wide open with every bit of strength I could, begging for grace and for strength to face this day. I knew I couldn’t do it on my own. I knew I had a choice to make right then. That I could face the day with my head help up, not on my own, but with God’s strength and grace. Or, I could crumble right there to the ground and never get back up.
So I got up.
In my moment of weakness, in my moment of desperate need, God met me. And He never left. Even in the midst of my heartache, the significance of that moment, and that choice felt heavy yet incredibly freeing.
We buried her on some family land in Seguin, Texas that was named after Brandon’s grandparents as ‘Sunset Hill.’ There’s a swing at the top in the perfect spot to watch the sun go down. There have been days where I’ve felt closer to heaven and when I look up into the sky as the sun begins to set, it’s painted in the prettiest shades of pink, and I know…my sweet girl is there.
I prayed for another little girl. We waited until our doctor gave us the ok and then we tried again. Early on we found out we were expecting twins. I remember running into my parents house with the ultrasound picture in hand of our two tiny babies. I thought for sure this was it. A double blessing. An end to the loss and the heartache. But not long after, we found out we had lost one of the twins.
I look back at this time and I know it’s here where my faith began to stretch and grow. It took everything in me to fight for peace and faith that we would deliver a healthy little girl. Every day was a battle that I felt like I was losing.
My perfect and easy world had been shattered the day we lost Grace. Something I never thought would happen to me did and I couldn’t shake the fear of it happening again.
When she was just 10 months old, we were surprised to find out I was pregnant again. This was much more of a surprise because I was still nursing and naively had no idea the chance of getting pregnant was a possibility yet.
I had taken the kids to the grocery store with me and felt myself being a little more irritable than usual and also really needing a frozen pizza. So I figured I would pick up a pregnancy test while I was there but thought for sure it would be negative.
We got home and I sat Bella down near by and went into the bathroom to take the test. As it slowly turned positive I tried to process how I felt. I looked at Bella in all her chunky baby self and I felt a mix of shock and disbelief, but happiness too.
I remember sitting on the bottom step of our staircase and calling Brandon. Fighting back tears I told him…we were pregnant again.
At 10 weeks I started bleeding and went to the doctor. We found a small tear where the placenta attaches to the uterine wall, but the baby was ok. My doctor believed that the tear would heal but not to be alarmed if I had more bleeding. At nearly 12 weeks, I left to run errands and buy supplies for Bella’s 1st birthday party. Not long after I left, I felt a gush, so I turned around to come home and as I stepped out of the car an even bigger gush of blood came.
Brandon rushed me to the doctor and again it was the same thing. The tear just hadn’t healed but the baby was ok. This was how it went for pretty much the entire pregnancy. It was like an emotional roller coaster that I didn’t want to be on.
We were sent to see a specialist and at each visit, there was our baby growing, moving and kicking. I thought for sure it was a boy to be fighting so hard. But the tear wasn’t healing and I was losing fluid as well. Fluid the baby would need more and more as it grew. But I wasn’t giving up. I was going to fight as hard as I could for this baby.
At 15 weeks, the day after Thanksgiving of 2007, I was consumed with it. I couldn’t fight the thoughts that were invading my head and I just had to get to a hospital to see that our baby was ok. Brandon was out of town on a hunting trip, so my mom and sisters took me to an emergency room. The nurses wheeled me on a bed into a big dark room where an ultrasound machine was set up. I just remember feeling so much fear and I prepared myself to hear the words that would break my heart again.
But instead, the sound of a strong heartbeat filled the room. A flood of tears rushed out of me before I could control them. The ultrasound tech continued to look and we found out that day that we were expecting a perfect and healthy little girl, just like we prayed for.
Isabella Grace was born on May 16th 2008. I will never forget the relief and love I felt for her when they laid her on my chest. She was one of the most beautiful little girls I’d ever seen. I often think that the personality, sass, love, affection and wit that this little girl has is enough to fill two little girls.
She is our double blessing.
It was humbling. I slowly began to realize that I couldn’t do this all on my own. I couldn’t be everything to everyone.
Eventually they released me to strict bed rest at home for a couple of days with the plan to come back and stay for as long as I could keep the baby growing. The goal was to get me to 24 weeks. The point of “viability” they called it. I will never forget that word.
I sat on the sofa one evening as Brandon got the kids ready for bed. I told him I really wanted to rock Bella to sleep and asked if I could just walk up the stairs, sit down in her rocking chair and then he could hand her to me. This was our special time together and I missed it so much. She would cuddle up close to me and I would sing and pray over her. I just wanted to be able to do it again before leaving for the hospital.
That night, August 3rd, is one that has marked me for life. Changed me beyond any other. As I sat in Bella’s room and rocked her, I began to pray. But this prayer was different than all the other late night prayers. I was tired of fighting. My heart, my body, my mind begged for mercy.
I was ready to give it all up to the Lord. Release it all. I told Him I couldn’t do it any more. I prayed for His will. I prayed for Him to take all of this from me. To take on this fight for me because I couldn’t fight any more.
In those same moments I felt such relief and tears and emotions come over me. It was overwhelming and uncontrollable. Tears that I hadn’t let come before, finally came and didn’t stop for a long time.
I laid Bella down in her bed, slowly walked down stairs and I got into bed.
Within an hour or so I could feel something was different, I couldn’t figure out what it was but something had changed and happened in my body. I sat up in my bed and called the on call doctor who knew a little of my history and told me to just stay in bed but if anything else happened, to come in to the ER. Right when I hung up the phone, I sat up in my bed and as I slid my legs to the side of my bed to stand up, blood started coming and didn’t stop. I walked into the bathroom and stood in the shower as blood kept coming. With tears, I looked at Brandon and said “I’m so scared babe.”
Something I hadn’t let myself feel or admit.
I was scared.
My brother in law came to stay at the house with Asher and Bella and Brandon and I rushed to the hospital. We called our family members as we sped down the highway and we called ahead to the hospital so they would have a wheelchair at the entrance for me. I remember seeing the incredibly sweet nurse standing there smiling with the wheelchair as we pulled up. I remember thinking, “poor girl, she has no clue” and then as I opened the door, her face went from smiling to panic. She rushed me as fast as she could to triage.
A handful of nurses worked all around me as they tried hard to stop the bleeding, all while the sound of the baby’s heartbeat played loud for the whole room to hear. I was in so much pain but I just kept listening to that sound. It was so strong, despite all the chaos that was happening. Our baby was still fighting as people all around us fought to save both our lives. Brandon stood above me at my head, crying and praying over me.
I will never forget one nurse who grabbed my hand, looked me in the eye and said “Do you hear that? That’s your baby’s heartbeat. I want you to just keep listening to it. Everything is going to be ok.” She had such strength in her eyes.
I never saw her again and still wonder to this day if she may have been an angel.
At one point the pain began to take over. Between that and the utter feeling of just being so done and tired, I gave myself over to what was happening. Not really knowing what that was. I mentally checked out.
That’s the hope I hold on to. The truth that I hold close to my heart. That knowledge has carried me through the darkest of days.
We let ourselves heal for a bit after we lost Faith, and then one day I knew I was ready again. I knew despite all the heartache, I wasn’t done yet.
We found out early on that we were expecting twins again. I carried both babies until 14 weeks when we found out one had passed away. We believed it was a boy and we named him Jett Samuel.
I honestly can’t explain much more of this part of our story. Why I would be blessed with twins twice, only to lose one, twice. But I’ve stopped questioning. Stopped trying to figure it all out and stopped thinking I know the why’s or how comes. I just don’t. And truthfully I probably never will until I reach heaven one day. And I’m ok with that. I have peace knowing I don’t have all the answers and Praise Jesus I don’t need to have them.
Mia Glory was born on November 29th, 2010 and since that day she has been the baby of the family. Spoiled rotten and loved even more. She’s spunky and opinionated and hard headed and boy does that girl love her momma. She’s been a momma’s girl since the day we laid eyes on each other.
I had every bit of hope that everything would be ok with this baby. That we would have our ending to this baby story of ours. But that wasn’t to be. We lost the baby in December of 2013 at just 8 weeks. This time was hard because the kids were old enough to know what was happening and to feel the loss of their brother/sister right along side us. I will never forget what Bella said when we told her….”but mom I prayed for the baby, I prayed it would be ok and it would live”…A hard lesson for a 5 year old to learn, but one I am thankful for myself.
We named that sweet baby Rone Robert after Brandon’s two grandpa’s in heaven.
I don’t believe in the well known saying that God gives and takes away. I don’t believe God takes. I don’t believe He does things to us to teach us a lesson or to make us grow. I believe we live in a fallen world with sin and hurt and heartache and loss. I believe God grieves right along side us when we hurt. I believe He’s a loving, gracious God who wants nothing more than to give, and to give some more. And I believe one day, we will live out the reality of that in heaven.
Earth is simply not our home.
None of our losses have been related or shared the same cause. There isn’t one reason that we could pin point, or point to and say “that’s why.” It all just happened. Maybe that knowledge wouldn’t be enough for some, but for myself it is. I’ve settled it in my heart to never understanding it, at least not on this side of heaven. There’s a peace and freedom in that release that I wouldn’t trade for anything else.
I had a conversation with someone a few months after we lost the baby. I let her know we still wanted and believed we had a fourth baby coming one day. She looked at me and said "Gosh, I think if I were you I would just give up. I'd just be content. I'd just...Stop."
It felt like someone sucker punched me in the stomach right at that moment. All these thoughts swarmed through my mind. Does she really think that? Do other people think that? Should I stop? Should I give up? Do people think I'm not content?? Why don't I just stop? Why don't I give up?
I still had my race to run and after talking with Brandon, and my parents and my doctor, I decided I would still run in it. I decided I wouldn’t let fear rob me of something I had worked so hard for, and with the baby being ok, I felt a peace about it. My doctor warned that there may be some bleeding due to the running but that was to be expected.
I finished the race. Not at my best, but I finished. And that was what was important to me. It was significant to me to cross the finish line that day and have my kids and Brandon there at the end.
Not long after she was born, I looked down at her and I got this feeling like I had seen her before. Like I knew her before. And as I watched her sleeping peacefully, I knew…She looked just like her sister Faith.
We waited a while until we were ready to have our fourth baby.
In the Fall of 2013, 3 years after having Mia, we finally felt ready. I had taken a lot of time to focus on myself and this body and letting it rest and heal. God also did a lot in my heart as I reflected on all we had walked through over these years. I started two businesses and had been training for and was just about to run in my second half marathon. The time just felt right.
We thought we’d wait until I finished my race and then really start trying, but instead we got pregnant right away. Just before I ran in my half marathon that I worked my booty off for, I began to spot. It was hard not to let my mind go back to where it had been before. I felt like I had come so far and that the strength I had gained over these years could over power it all, but it didn’t. The spotting turned out to be another tear. A place where the placenta didn’t attach strong enough, but there was hope that it would heal.
Right about that very moment Mia came running up to me and wrapped herself around my leg. I looked down at her, blinking tears away as quickly as I could and she just looked right back up at me and smiled. That girl. I just look at her and the love she has for me is intense. It's like a little peak straight into heaven. A reminder.
And then all those ugly thoughts of doubt and fear...They stopped right then.
"This is why."
What if I had allowed fear to stop me so many years ago. What if I had just stopped?
I know the gains far out weigh the losses. And so I didn’t just stop.
In June of 2014 I quietly walked into our bathroom as the rest of the house slept, and I took a pregnancy test. It slowly began to show positive and right then, a flood of peace washed over me. I didn’t feel the need to run over to Brandon and wake him up in a rush of words and excitement and panic as is my usual way ;)
Instead I walked upstairs with that little test, sat in my chair that was in a quiet corner of my office and I prayed.
I wanted to release every ounce of control from the very beginning. Knowing there wasn’t one thing, I could do or not do, to change what happened in the next few weeks and months. I grabbed hold to hope and the peace that it offered that morning like never before and I never let go.
We found out in September of 2014 that our last and fourth baby would be a boy. That early morning of peace and prayer and hope, marked the days that followed in my pregnancy. On February 27th 2015 our Judah Charles was born. He is full of joy and keeps us laughing every single day. His name means to praise and not one day has gone by that we don’t praise Jesus for our little bear.
The ending of our journey for children, reminds me a lot of our beginning when I was pregnant with Asher. The girl who had no clue what true heartbreak and loss was, now knows it well. But she also knows grace, faith, and hope in a deep, real and tangible way. She’s held them in her arms and looked in their faces and listened to their heartbeats.
I look back on those two young kids sitting in a noisy restaurant talking about wanting 4 kids. Did they have a clue what would come? Not at all. Would they trade the experiences for anything else in this world? Believe it or not, no.
The heartbreak, and the tears and the anger and the frustration and the confusion…all of it has been one sheet of paper on top of another from a precious story to be shared. Lessons learned. Valuable ones, that are deep. That change a person. That give them a testimony to be shared. That maybe change other people too. And that, in the end is what this life on earth is all about.
I prayed hard every night. I stopped watching television and read books instead. I listened to worship music as I fell asleep. I blocked out people who I thought would bring doubt or negativity. But mostly I blocked out people. I didn’t think I needed them. I thought that this was my fight. I read a book one night on spiritual warfare and decided I wasn’t doing enough. Wasn’t praying enough. I woke myself up in the early early morning hours to pray even more. I only slept on my left side and I drank as much water as I possibly could. I didn’t let myself cry because crying would mean defeat and weakness and giving up.
I was exhausted.
Each visit to the specialist told us the same thing. The baby was growing, but I was still losing fluid and we were reaching the critical point of lung development.
One day around 22 weeks, the gushes came again and we rushed to the emergency room. I was admitted to the hospital for bed rest for a couple of days. The kids came to see me one day and I remember reaching out for Bella to come sit with me in bed. She was only just a couple months over a year. But she wouldn’t come. In fact she seemed mad at me. Mad that mom was in a hospital bed and not home to take care of her. When she needed her shoe tied, she walked over to Brandon instead of me and it broke my heart right in two.
They walked out of the room and I cried. It all just felt so unfair. I felt like I was missing out on being home with my kids. Robbed of precious time with them. I wanted to be the one at home with them, taking care of them, cleaning the house, cooking dinner…I became angry and frustrated along with being completely exhausted. My heart was at home, being a mom and wife. But physically my body was in a hospital room being monitored continuously and not even able to get up on my own to use the restroom.
Until the on call doctor came in to tell us they’d have to go in to get the baby in order for the bleeding to stop. I couldn’t register completely what that meant. Later we found out that I had completely ruptured and was hemorrhaging. At this point is was no longer just about the baby’s life, but mine too.
They began to wheel me into the operating room and I turned to look at Brandon. I will never forget his face. I wanted to reach over to him and tell him everything would be ok. My heart hurt for him. I wanted to keep fighting for him…for the baby, but I couldn’t. I physically couldn’t.
As all the medications began to take over and I began to fade, I just remember the whole room was white from the floor to the ceiling. I’m not sure if that was reality but it was what I saw. Bright lights and a lot of white.
And then a white sheet draped in front of my face and the bright lights dimmed. I shut my eyes in relief. It wasn’t up to me any more to keep this baby alive.
When I opened them again, my mom was standing close to me, telling me I had had a baby girl but that she didn’t make it. I can still hear the words.
I was just 23 weeks. She was too little. She tried to take a breath, but her very next one was in the arms of Jesus.
They handed her to me and I held her close. Her tiny little cold nose next to my cheek. I wanted to soak her in. Remember every part of her. I unwrapped her from her blanket to see every little part of her. She was precious and perfect and tiny.
That tiny little girl held out with her mom for as long as she could.
My little fighter.
My Faith Marie.
We buried her along side her sister on Sunset Hill. A black wrought iron fence surrounds them, but I have rarely gone to see them there. I look for them when I watch a sunrise or sunset instead. Because I know up there, in that beauty that goes even beyond my sight or own imagination…they are there. They wait for me in heaven and one day they will run to me and know me as mom.