Tuesday, September 11, 2012

“Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.” - Albert Einstein

I can't believe how long it has been since being on Dougies blog. So much has happened since then; Dougie is now a big brother to Charlotte Brookins Collins, she was born on Friday January 13th and we were able to bring her home on Dougies 1st birthday which was very special. Things with Charlotte have been incredible; she is the most wonderful little girl, so happy all the time and so very smart it amazes me. We talk to her about her big brother in heaven all the time, and I am so glad I started this blog when I did so that when she is old enough she will be able to read it and see what a hero Doug was. I've been home with Charlee, watching her grow every single day is a true blessing, and I think had I not experienced Dougies journey I would take something’s for granted. I've also started a few little projects to raise awareness for CDH, they are works in progress and I will post about that at a later date. October 14th is CHOC hospitals annual CHOC walk in the park, and I have started a team to walk in memory of Dougie to raise money for CHOC hospital, which did so much for our family during Dougies stay and to also raise awareness for CDH. I’m asking friends and family to sponsor me, so that I can hit my fund raising goal of $2,500. My donation will help CHOC keep its commitment to treat every child. By making a gift of $5, $15, $50 or whatever you can afford, you are making a difference in the life of a child like Dougie. Please click on the donate button on the left side of the page, every little bit helps! Thank you for supporting me and such a wonderful cause!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

There are things we don't want to happen, but have to accept. Things we don't want to know, but have to learn. And people we can't live without but have to let go.

Happy 6 month birthday little man!

First I want to apologize for not writing sooner. I started this blog to tell Dougie’s incredible story and after he passed away I guess you could say I lost my inspiration to write. But not only that, this entire blog has been written with a positive attitude. Even when things were looking really bad I kept positive, I think mostly for my own sanity and in a way I thought my positive energy would rub off on our son. If I felt scared he would feel scared so instead I kept a smile on my face and I hope he felt that. And because of my ‘keep positive’ attitude I have been adamant about writing. I find myself not being so positive anymore, and didn’t want that to ruin this blog. But I am here to write about Doug’s journey and ours as well. It wouldn’t be fare to other mothers in my situation who may come across this story to not know the truth. So I am writing now to let you all know how things have been since Dougie’s passing.

I am not going to lie, it sucks. It sucks but we’re getting through it. It seems as though everyone has moved on with their lives; as they should. But Brad and I are stuck in this sort of limbo, where the good days are OK... and the bad day’s well... let’s just say they are really bad. When we first got Dougie’s diagnosis and heard 50/50 chance of survival all I kept thinking was I cannot survive if my baby doesn’t survive, automatically my mind went to that negative place and then quickly snapped myself out of it because “something like that could NEVER happen to me”. Well something like that has happened to me, and yet here I am. To be honest some day’s I don’t get out of bed, I just try to sleep until that day is over. Other day’s I don’t want to talk to or see anyone I prefer to be by myself and alone with my scattered thoughts while I sit in what would have been his nursery. And there are those few days I wake up in a good mood, and actually accomplish things. It is just so hard to live in a world where Douglas Brookins Collins isn’t.

Each milestone that would be, is gut wrenching. I imagine what he would be doing today on his 6 month birthday maybe we would have taken him to the park or the beach. I think about what I would have dressed him in on the 4th of July, or how he would be dressed on Halloween (we had decided on superman while he was in the hospital). I wonder how he would like splashing in the pool at his grandparents, and I think about all the things we are missing out on as a family. Every night I say to him “Today would have been great, if you were here”.

I do have some good news to share with you... Douglas is going to be a big angel brother! Brad and I are expecting. I think I was afraid when we found out, that people may judge us getting pregnant so soon after losing our first son. But for those few weeks we had our little man I got a glimpse of motherhood, and I believe I was made for this. So I wait for the day our new baby will grace us, and it feels great to have something to look forward to again. This pregnancy has been quite a bit different than before. I am very cautious, and refuse to get ahead of myself this time. We of all people know, life is not guaranteed. So I am holding my breath until I have baby in my arms and at our home.

Since Douglas has passed, several more babies have been diagnosed and lost their fight with CDH and we are no closer to finding the cause. If you have a facebook account I ask that you please vote EVERY day for our cherubs http://www.vivint.com/givesbackproject/charity/3 it takes only 30 seconds and will make a change if we win. Please share Dougies story in any way you can, and spread awareness the more people that know about CDH the closer we will get to finding the cause and maybe one day be able to prevent it.

God bless our little man,

Thursday, March 17, 2011


My heart is filled with anguish for all the things we didn't get to do... never getting to hear his laugh or cry, never being able to lay in bed with him and Brad, morning walks by the lake, celebrating Doug's 1st birthday, 1st word or 1st step, laying him down in the crib I painted in the room that is filled with his clothes, toys, pictures and books. But, I am also filled with gratitude, for the handful of times I was able to change his diaper, having story time each night, watching Brad and Dougie listen to music, when he opened his eyes and stared into mine and the dozens of times his little hand wrapped around my finger and squeezed. I suppose I will spend the rest of my life trying to balance out the heartbreak of losing him, but also treasuring the precious six and a half weeks we had with him. And I know I will spend the rest of my life missing him, his sweet eyes that saw right into
your soul when he glanced at you, the calm and peaceful look to him after he had a massage from mommy or while he listened to music with daddy, and his smell.... his perfect scent that was so wonderful it's impossible to describe. I pray I will never forget.
Brad and I are constantly being commended for our strength, everyone tells us how they would never be able to go through what we've been through and survive, and people ask how we are able to function, because if it were them, they wouldn't be able to. And to be honest, I don't know how we are functioning; most days feel like a blur to me, we are keeping busy enough to get through each day then on to the next; Because - what choice to we have? If we don't have the strength, we have to find the strength for our son.
Don't get me wrong, I could lay in bed all day let the tears get the best of me and have each day drag on and on. But what good would that do? It won't get me to see Dougie any sooner, it won't bring him back, it won't heal my heartache, and I have never been one to feel sorry for myself or whither in self pity - so I will take one day at a time. It is what it is and we have to accept it and get through it, for him. 
Brad and I would like to thank everyone who was able to make it to Dougie's Services, I cannot express how amazed we were with the amount of people who came to celebrate Doug's short and beautiful life. 250 chairs surrounded the room and yet there were still dozens of people standing. In the front and center of the room was Dougie's casket.... custom made for our little man. We couldn't have asked for a better pastor to speak for Douglas, Pastor Sam did a beautiful job and made everyone feel comfortable. Thank you to Jess for speaking, I know how hard it was for her and we appreciate her kind words and also putting together a play list for the ceremony. Thanks to my mom who, although loved the podium a little too much, kept it lighthearted and made everyone laugh their tears away. I am soo grateful that Dougie's favorite nurses Jamie, Charlene and Kristen were able to make it to the services and speak of their experience in the NICU with our
little man. Other than Brad and myself they knew him the best and loved him so so much. I think everyone in the room was blown away by Katelyn and Jake's performance of Dougie's favorite song 'Godspeed Little Man', it was one of the most beautiful things I'd ever heard and I am sure most people would agree with me. Kevin made a wonderful video montage with pics of Doug, and video we had from our days in the NICU, I will treasure that forever.
A million thank yous to Dougie's Grandpa's, Grandma's, Uncle's, and Aunt's for completely taking over and planning this beautiful day for us. Because of you Brad and I were able to relax, We appreciate it so so much.
Thanks to Santora's for hosting an amazing fundraiser for us. Brad and I are so grateful for everyone's generous donations, wonderful words of comfort, all of the beautiful flowers and gifts we've received. To those of you who have tried mailing things to our house I apologize if they were sent back to you, since Brad and I were not home for a few months the mailbox was full, so the post office sent all of our mail back to sender. Our address is still:

36 Calle Bella
Rancho Santa Margarita, CA 92688

God Bless Our Little Man,

Brad and Mere
ANNOUNCEMENT: A wonderful friend, Stephanie Bongartz, has organized a Silent Auction Fundraiser to help Mere & Brad as they adjust to the world outside CHOC NICU and a life without their son.  It will take place on Sunday, March 27 at 2PM at the Mission Viejo Elks Lodge.  This is also meant to be an afternoon of fun and a chance for Mere & Brad to share their memories of Dougie with the people they love and who have come to mean so much to them.  Everyone is welcome!
For more information, please contact:

Monday, March 7, 2011

An Angel in the book of life wrote down my baby's birth. And whispered as she closed the book "too beautiful for earth"

He fought an incredible fight, but our amazing and beautiful Dougie passed away on Thursday March 3rd around 11:00AM. At only 6 weeks and 3 days of being here on Earth we had to make the hardest decision in the world and give him up to God. I was able to hold my baby for the first time as he passed away in my arms. I will always remember the last breath he took right there in my arms and the feeling of emptiness in my heart thereafter. Brad and I sat and held him for hours as our family and friends came to say goodbye, then we were able to give him a bath and get him dressed. It was tragic knowing we will not be able to bring him home with us, to meet his Doggies, see his nursery that is filled with toys, clothes and books; but it was also relieving to know he is no longer in pain, no longer fighting to live, no more surgeries, no more drugs, just at peace. He is now able to be the happy baby he should have been.

I lay here in bed, on what would have been Dougie's 7th week birthday. The questions have started to slow down in my head, why him, why us, why now, why was he put through all he was put through only to be taken from us. I'm slowly coming to terms with the fact that we will never have those answers. But because I realize that, it in no way means I have accepted what has happened. I am still angry, heartbroken, and lost. It will be a long time before I'm able to accept what's happened. As you can read from all of my previous blog post's I did not expect that we were going to get the outcome that we did. But we did. So now I have to find the strength to move on.

Brad and I continue to be so touched and in awe of the support we have gotten from all our friends and family as well as complete strangers. We are beginning to realize what Dougie's purpose was. We know he has touched so many of you and brought faith and belief in what is bigger than us, and he brought awareness to CDH.

Services will be Held on Wednesday March 9th at 11:00AM at Saddleback Church (1 Saddleback Parkway, Lake Forest) in the Plaza building.

We ask any of you that have followed Dougie's Journey, and anyone that Dougie had touched to please feel free to join us in celebrating this amazing little man and his incredible life, although it was a mere 6 and a half weeks we have so very much to be thankful for.

God Bless Our Little Man, God Bless Our Beautiful Angel,
Mere and Brad

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Faith consists of believing when it is beyond the power of reason to believe - Volitare

Dougie is really in need of prayer right now. Today has been one of the bad day's... His pulminary hyper tension (PPHN) is causing him to D SAT(which means his oxygen saturation levels are in the 60s when they should be in the high 90s)... they've had to severly sedate him almost all day to help him relax. Docs are doing everything they can, and exhausting every resource possible to help his PPHN. They are even begining a new medication that has only been used on 2 other babies in hopes that it will get his PPHN under control. Right now Brad and I are holding on to every shread of hope and faith that he will overcome this and get better. I have prayed all day today, begged the Lord to give him strength, give him our strength and help him pull through this and I have faith that he will. We have told Dougie all about his Doggies, Patsy and June, his beautiful nursery filled with toys he has yet to see and play with, all the football and baseball games we have to go to, and all of the hundreds of people that love him and are praying for him. Keeping positive is all I can do, he is in Gods hands and I believe.

God Bless our amazingly beautiful little man.

Mere and Brad

Monday, February 28, 2011

Happy 6 Weeks Baby

We started our morning off by getting a call from Nurse Mandy. Doug had an xray done and it showed there was an air build up in his chest, so they'd have to go in and put another chest tube to drain it out. Brad and I got over here just as they were finishing up with Dougies 7th surgery. The doctors don't seem to be too concerned about it since xrays showed it just just due do positioning. Other than that no major changes... we are excited to start Dougies feeds again tomorrow, he's been off for a couple of weeks due to a new med they tried to help with his access fluid, but they want to start his feeds again because nutritionally he is getting the bare minimum. I pray he takes to it well, and it helps move things in the right direction. That's all I have for now, just a little update and a big happy 6 week Birthday to the Dougster. Thank you all for spreading the word, love and prayers for Douglas.

God Bless Our Little Man,

Brad and Mere

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Our Days

Having been here for 6 weeks now, Brad and I have developed a new sense of normal. Which, for all our friends and families isn't normal at all, but for us and the families surrounding us here at CHOC and The Ronald McDonald House it's all we now know.

We start our morning at Mc D's House, second floor room 5. Down to the kitchen for some coffee and a bite before were out the door to CHOC to see our little man. As we pass the hutch that is on our way out, our hearts break for the white rose that is sometimes there to recognize a family who has just lost their child. Sometimes we get caught up in our own misfortunes that we forget, we're all on the same boat, each family here is traveling a journey all their own, none more significant than the other.

Once were out the door and in the car, a quick 5 minute drive to CHOC (I am so thankful we are able to stay at Ronald McDonald house be this close to our son). Parked and on the shuttle, Brad and I start getting excited and nervous to see Dougie. Hop off the shuttle, and head for the front desk to check in. Most days the recpetionist greets us by name and gives us our badges before we have to ask. Up the elevators to the second floor, we arrive at room #202. You'd spot Dougies room from a mile away, he has planes, trains, and automobiles all clinged on his door.
Now our hearts start to race as we enter into our babies room, because we never know what we will find when walking into that room. A room packed with ventilators, oxygen tanks, monitors, tubes, meds and the most important thing in the room, our baby. Some days we find him bright eyed and bushy tailed, just wiggling around soaking up the sun while his nurse does her cares. Other days, the bad days, we walk in to find him crying with foam like cecretions so bad his lips have stuck together, eyes so swollen he cant even open them, and depending on his nurse that day, no one in sight.

But because of the rose we saw on our way out the door, and all the sick children we've seen while making our way to room 202, we are reminded of how truly blessed we are. Things could always be worse. But mainly we are reminded that, along with all the other families here, we are in all pain and we are all suffering and hurting for our children, because when your children hurt, you hurt.

The days slowly creep by here at CHOC... each day previous feels like a week ago. But we manage to pass the time taking pics of our little man, doing his daily massages, baby arobics listening to music to calm the Dougster, Hank Williams jr., and Dwight Yokam seem to do the trick every time. These past couple of weeks it has been pretty entertaining watching Brad play Aunt Terry and PaPa Tony in Scrabble on his phone. The comedy that comes from the melt downs or gloating after a win or a loss is priceless, so thank you both for keeping us entertained.

We've become very close to Dougies associate nurses, Charlene, Kristen, Mandy and Jamie. It is amazing the comfort I feel when they are taking care of our little man. Its never easy to leave our son, but when he is in their care we feel assured that he is in the best hands. Its so wonderful to see the love and compassion they have for Doug. Its the little things like when they take hold of his hand to comfort him when he is upset that fill my heart with joy. We are so incredibly thankful for them!

I wasnt having the best day yesterday. Doug has continued to put on weight, he is still swollen and there are still no answers as to why. Everyone tells us this is a long process, we'll be here for a while; and I am prepared for that, I have prepared for and accepted our long journey of peeks and valleys. Its the unknown that drives me nuts... its been a few weeks since this swelling started, granted some days its better, and somedays its worse. But still, almost a month has passed and we dont know why he hasnt lost this fluid. So I've been a little frustrated. Then Grampa Glenn and Grammy Steph came to visit (Steph got to change Dougies diaper!), then we went to dinner... I wasnt talking much, my patience was shot and I just wanted the day/weekend to be over so we can have our favorite nurses back. Once we got to dinner our waitress noticed the CHOC badge on Glenn, she asked if we were at a confrence there and Brad told her our baby boy is there. Then she looked at me and asked if I was Mere, I said yes and she said "I know your baby! I've heard his story and me and my family pray for him everyday, he will be fine I just know it" as she took my hand and reached across the table to give me a hug I just about lost it. Turns out she is the Aunt of my Brother in-law Ben and heard about Dougie through Ben's mom. I knew it was a sign from God, I was struggling and he sent her to assure me he hears our prayers (he should, he is getting a ton) and although nothing is changing at this moment I know he is working on it!

In the mean time, God Bless our Little Man, and God Bless everyone of you who is following Dougies Journey and praying that he get well soon. Words can not express how greatful we are for your prayers and support.

Love to all,

Mere and Brad