I can't believe it was a year ago when my entire life changed.
This picture was taken the day Mercydez was born. Isn't she adorable?!!!
Taken a few weeks ago: Since the day she was born Mercydez has had a lot of expression. We always laugh when we get pictures of her crying! She's so adorable with her squinty eyes!!! My sweeeeetttiiiiiieeeeeeeeee!
Time seems to have flown by. I was talking with Ashley and we're in agreement. This year has been so hard yet so rewarding, so bitter and so sweet, so terrifying and so phenomenal. How grateful we are to have Mercydez in our lives. She has been nothing short of a miracle. We are so blessed to have her.
I remember the first time I saw my precious Mercydez. She was so beautiful. I cried my eyes out. In fact, I was crying so hard the nurse asked if I okay! I smiled and said I was okay, that I was the twin sister of the mother, and that Mercydez is the most beautiful baby I'd ever seen (at this point Nic took it upon himself to tell the nurse I was his second wife. She thought he was serious. It was hilarious!). I just wanted to hold her and love her from the very first instant...but being that she was in the NICU I could only look at my baby. It was always hard seeing her hooked up to machines...all the wires, tubes, and tape. But that didn't stop Mercydez from looking as cute as ever and showing her personality. Nic and Ashley felt so strongly about naming their baby Mercydez. They felt, and still do, that the mercy of a loving Heavenly Father had everything to do with their little girl. So they decided to name her Mercydez, intentionally putting the word "mercy" in her name.
And here we are, a year later. Mercydez is home with us, no longer in the NICU. She has been home longer than she was in the hospital...which is comforting to her family. She has endured so much and taught us so much. She is a miracle, through and through.
I remember the day she came home, it was May 1st. My brothers and Nic's brothers rode motorcycles up to the hospital to pick her up, while Nic and Ashley took their SUV. The boys escorted and surrounded the SUV all the way home. I don't know if any one remembers how cold it was on May 1st, but it was freezing. The boys were nearly suffering from hypothermia when they arrived. But they didn't complain! They were proud and honored. We had all the cousins, grandparents, uncles, aunts...EVERYONE at home waiting for the great arrival! We knew they were almost home when we could hear the motorcycles down the street. It was one of the most powerful things I have ever witnessed. This little girl, protectively surrounded by her uncles. She is so loved. She is so wanted. She is so needed. As soon as they pulled into the drive way I just cried and cried. We ALL had been waiting for this day for months.
Nic and Ash decided to take a family vacation in June. Trav and I, of course, followed. We all headed down to St. George to enjoy a play at Tuacahn (sp?) and the warm weather. It was a blast because we almost everyone from the Gourley side (Ashley's family) and quite a few from the Haws side that joined in on the fun. Nic, Mercydez's amazing father, decided to ride his motorcylce down...and of course all his brothers/brothers-in-law had to ride their motorcycles as well. It was so cute because Nic would constantly drive up to the car and peek through the window to make sure Mercydez was doing okay. Ashley would frequently ride on the motorcycle with Nic, so I had the great opportunity to sit with and take care of my sweet niece. We stayed down in St. George for about 5 days, if I remember correctly. We all had a good time swimming, playing games, riding bikes, taking walks - and it was even better that our little baby was with us.
Mercydez and Daddy cuddling and napping together. The love within this family is phenomenal.
In July we had the biggest and best 6 month birthday party a 6 month old could ask for! Nic and Ash went above and beyond! We went to a place called Jump On It - or something like that - and had the ENTIRE family there (I'd have to say there were between 50 to 75 people total)! It was so fun to play games, eat pizza, cake & ice cream, open presents, and cuddle with the one we were celebrating, Mercydez! And she looked so cute in her princess outfit - tutu and all! What a great 6 month celebration Nic and Ash put on for their little miracle. A good time was had by all.
Here's the six month old princess, tutu and all!!! You can't read her shirt but it says, "The Princess Has Arrived". Well said.
We have had nothing but adventures. Many know that Mercydez came down with Pnuemonia (sp?) in August at the Haws family reunion. The reunion was up in the mountains by Snowbird. I remember the night Ash called and told me Mercydez was sick and that they were taking her to the ER at Primary's. I laid in bed and cried and cried. I made phone calls to about everyone I knew and asked them to pray. Doctors wanted to admit Mercydez, but Nic and Ash wouldn't have it. They are determined to give the best care (better than hospitals because their care involves love) and to keep her home. They want her to be comfortable and surrounded by love every moment of her life. Many were shocked because Nic and Ash refused to have her admitted to the hospital. I, for one, was not. I was grateful. Nic and Ash have a lot of power on their side. They are very aware of their daughter and are determined to do what's TRULY best for her...even if it's what's hardest for them. I have admired that about them from day one. They are incredible parents and would NEVER do anything to hurt their little girl. Anyone who knows them knows this is true.
The Haws Family: Reunion 2008
Fundraising Yard Sale For Mercydez Haws, August 2008
Many people came out and supported our efforts to raise money to help assist with the care and costs of taking care of Mercydez. We had many people donate items to be sold, donations of time (whether it was planning, setting up, or at the yard sale), and many donated money. This is a picture of a wonderful friend of Mercydez's. Her name is Rachel. Rachel's mommy is a woman named Christy. Christy was the one who came up with the idea of the yard sale and headed it up. Racheal has a little sister named Heidi. The two of them decided to donate what they had in their piggy bank. The most tender thing is that the money they were saving was for their first trip to disney land. What a sacrifice. This was a very emotional day for everyone involved...many tears were shed. Thank you again to all who helped in one way or another.
September we all participated in a walk for heart disease awareness. It was a lot of fun to get together with many other families who have had loved ones with similar life styles as Nic, Ash, and Mercydez. It was really great to have family and friends there to support and walk for such a miracle baby and her parents.
All the family walking for Heart Disease Awareness. My in-laws came and supported too! It was a beautiful day for a walk!!!
Mercydez was set and ready to walk for awareness too. Isn't she adorable in her cute sunglasses?!
In October Mercydez came down with something. Things were so bad we thought it may be her time to return to Heavenly Father. Again, Nic and Ash stepped up and did what they felt would be best for their precious child. They held her, loved her, talked with her, sang to her, read to her. They bore testimony about eternal families and how they KNOW they will be together forever. I've said it once and I'll say it again, Nic and Ash are incredibly strong and determined. Although that was one of the hardest and longest weeks of my life I have to say it was also one of the sweetest. We had family and friends at our home all day and into the late hours of the night. Mercydez was loved more passionately and graciously than ever before. Many who have issues with the Gospel, bore testimony about families, eternal life, revelation, and the power behind love. Priorities were re-aligned. Expressions of love and support were expressed verbally as well as physically. Everyone came together and it was all because of this tiny little girl. I can't help but be grateful for what Mercydez has done to our families. She is so strong. She is so powerful. And while I hated that week in October - I can't help but express my gratitude for what came because of it. I firmly believe MERCYDEZ KNOWS WHAT SHE'S DOING. Even though to us she seems not to be, I believe she is aware. She is one of the noble ones.
Mercydez also got her first tooth this month! Yay Mercydez!!!
Three Generations: Ahma, Mommy, & Mercydez enjoying some Halloween festivities at Gardner Village (before she got sick).
Thankfully Mercydez was doing better by halloween so Nic and Ash threw Mercydez her first halloween party. We played games, ate lots of candy, and had a darn good time! And of course Mercydez looked so cute in her costume!
Come Thanksgiving we had moved in with my parents (where Nic, Ash, and Mercydez go Trav and I follow). We were able to enjoy a beautiful Thanksgiving meal with family and friends. Mercydez had on a gorgeous little dress with a black velvet top and a redish-gold skirt that Ahma and Papa bought her. She looked so stunning. Everyone commented on our cute little baby! I must say she looked absolutely gorgeous!
Christmas brought on a new tradition. Nic and Ash decided to sleep under the glowing Christmas tree with Mercydez on Christmas Eve. It was so cute to see them cuddled up together as an eternal family. So much love surrounds them. The three of them are so incredible. They deserve one another.
Mercydez and Santa, Christmas 2008
Christmas day we opened presents and I have to say! Nic and Ash spoiled Mercydez...but I also must say SHE DESERVED IT! Santa also knew that Mercydez deserved to be spoiled because he sure went big! It was a wonderful day spent with family. Mercydez was the icing on the cake to the whole holiday season!
And we can't forget New Years! Nic and Ash threw a New Years/Birthday party for Mercydez. We, again, had a full house. Family and friends came to play and celebrate! Mercydez got a little tired - okay she was exhausted from all the goings-on! But it was a great night! We danced and played until about 2:00am!
Daddy, Chad, Uncle Trav, and Uncle Luke dancing the night away (dancing to The Three Amigos, "My Little Butter Cup")
Aunt Crystal made this three layer cake for Mercydez. It took her hours and hours. Believe it or not, this is the first time she's ever made a cake like this! It was as good as it is beautiful!
Anyways, we couldn't hold back today! We had to have another party for our girl! We were able to have an informal birthday party! We went bowling at fatcats and had ice cream at Sub Zero (if you haven't been I highly recommend you go! It knocks coldstone out of the water!). It was so fun to spend time with family and friends and celebrate such a perfect little girl...yet again!!! Although Mercydez cried nearly the whole time we were bowling (Mercydez is a home-body) we still enjoyed celebrating! What a deserving little angel.
Even though it seems we hold onto the most terrifying moments, as you can see there have been MANY wonderful, sweet moments this past year. Although death is inevitable, no matter who you are or how old you may be, love is stronger than death. I am a believer in the saying, "Better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all". I can't imagine not having the people in my life that I have been blessed to have. How grateful I am for Mercydez. I love her so much.
So now I'm going to post a few more pictures from the past year. I told you..once I get started on how much I love and adore Mercydez I have a hard time stopping. :) But I'm sure you understand! Isn't she just perfectly adorable?!!?!?!?!?!
I have never questioned or doubted the love Nic and Ashley have for their baby girl. I can equally say I have never questioned or doubted the love their little girl has for her Daddy and Mommy. The above pictures were taken within the first month of Mercydez' life. Aren't they beautiful?!
Uncle Travis sharing some kisses with Mercydez. This was taken shortly after her heart surgery, within the first two months of her life.
"Eyes are the window to the soul". Mercydez has beautiful eyes.
Her tiny hand in her Daddy's hand. So small yet so strong.
I love this little girl with all my heart and soul.
Happy first birthday Sweeeeeeetieeeeee!!
3 weeks ago