Our Angel, Chelsey

I want to introduce you to a young woman who has such a significant part in our story and our family. Our angel, Chelsey.

I wish I could have met her when she was on this side of heaven.

I wish I could hug her and thank her for watching over us and helping God cross our paths at the most needed time.

Unfortunately, God needed her more.

Chelsey was 23 when she lost her battle to uterine and ovarian cancer last fall. A battle that takes more strength, courage, and bravery than I could imagine and one no one should ever have to face. My heart breaks knowing I will never get the chance to meet Chelsey. But I know she lives on because she’s still touching and blessing lives, including ours.

I’ve never witnessed the works of an angel until 2 weeks ago…

Chelsey had a strong passion for adoption, knowing she could never have a child biologically, she had a dream to help families adopt. A selfless dream that is now called Chelsey’s Dream Foundation.

When Chelsey passed last year, we were just starting our home study process. Adoption isn’t in the news much nor do you hear many stories in this area of adoption so being hyper-aware of adoption related things, I heard about Chelsey’s dream, her story, and her passing. My heart broke for her parents and loved ones. Soon after, Chelsey was still moving mountains as her family and the Chelsey’s Dream Foundation helped a family financially be able to adopt the son of their dreams. 

At the same time, David’s nephew’s fiancé, Mandy, was talking to her good friend, Michelle, who is Chelsey’s cousin and best friend about our process to adopt. After Mandy told me more about Chelsey, I decided to write Chelsey’s parents, Chuck and Carol, a letter about how much their daughter already touched our lives by spreading awareness and advocating for families hoping to adopt. Her dream of adoption was close to my heart as we ventured through our process and I felt a strong need to reach out to Chelsey’s parents who were in a very deep process of grieving. The letter took me weeks to write, much as this post has, because it’s really hard to put into words the kind of sympathy I feel for Chelsey’s parents with their loss and the kind of inspiration that Chelsey was to me, even without knowing her.

I sent the letter sometime in March. At the same time, Michelle, had added our names to the list of families the foundation was hoping to help someday.

April 2nd, hours after receiving the call of our dreams, as my mom, sister, and I shopped frantically for baby necessities, Mandy texted me and asked if it was ok to share our news with Michelle. Michelle then shared the news with Chuck.

A few days later, Chuck reached out to me that him and Carol wanted to meet me, David, and the twins sooner rather than later. All in the name of love, adoption, and one beautiful angel.

That Sunday is another one of those moments in my life that I will never forget. A moment that is so treasured that I can’t retell it without crying.

The day I witnessed an angel’s perfectly orchestrated work as she watched over her parents and our family, a stranger to her and them, and crossed our paths.

Chuck, Carol, Michelle and her husband, Cody, pulled up in front of our house, carrying a large box of diapers for the twins; and like we’ve known each other forever, we talked about our lives, families, the twins’ adoption, and Chelsey. At that moment, I knew how Chelsey grew up to be the woman that she was because her parents are two of the nicest, kindhearted people we’ve ever met and the strength Chelsey had was a result of her two amazing parents. 

I’ll forever hold onto the look on David’s face as we sat in our living room later that evening, Chuck and Carol loving on the twins, when Chuck began talking about Chelsey and her dream to help families as he gave David a card to open. Tears filled David’s eyes as I watched the heavy weight lifted from his shoulders as a check fell out of the heartfelt card (a card that is now in our son & daughter’s baby book, I can’t wait to tell them their whole story someday; about all of the love that brought us together as a family).

One thing I haven’t touched on much is that after I went to the hospital to meet the babies’ birth mom and the twins, I texted our social worker about how placement day fees would work out so I could have everything ready for the next day. She said she had some bad news and that unfortunately the costs would be much more, double, what we had anticipated. A cost that was already above our heads. We had done amazing at saving and fundraising – my Pampered Chef party, my freelancing, David’s officiating, the beautiful gifts mailed to us of generous donations, and my necklaces – but we weren’t close to what we needed for double the fees. Unfortunately, this weighed heavily on our hearts and minds during what was supposed to be such an amazing time of celebration. We were already in love with the twins and there was no turning back, as our families searched for ways to help us and we talked about loans, borrowing money, retirement savings, all while trying to prepare for twins in less than 24 hours…David was pale as a ghost when I met him at the hospital that day (and the days to follow) and a lot of that was because of his worry for how we were going to do this, practically and realistically.

That weight that was a very heavy burden on both of our shoulders, was lifted immediately when David opened that card. God and Chelsey were watching over us. There were so, so many tears, hugs, and a burning in my heart that I can’t put words to. Chelsey, Chuck, Carol, and Chelsey’s Dream Foundation were angels that came in and saved us from our worries – they changed our lives and became a part of our family the moment they walked through our front door.

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Chuck and Carol: I wish there was another phrase, rather than thank you, that would encompass the fullness in my heart I have for you both, Chelsey, and the Chelsey’s Dream Foundation. Thank you seems so overused and casual, what I want to express to you is far, far beyond those words. I think the world of your daughter for the battle she fought and the life she lived. She will always be an inspiration of strength, courage, and bravery in our family. Our twins will know her, always, as their angel.

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April Fools

April 1st was a sunny but extremely windy, normal, average day. I went to work and then met my friend, Sarah, and her son Jack to go for a walk afterwards with Bentley. I remember Sarah and I talking and Sarah asking about if we’ve heard any news on the adoption front. I remember feeling a lot of peace in the few weeks prior to this day and I’d said to multiple people, multiple times, including that day to Sarah, meaning it with all of my heart, how at peace I felt with the waiting. I was struggling February/March – but somewhere mid March, I found peace. Those few weeks anytime someone would ask how things were going or how we were doing – I said “I really feel at peace with it all, hopefully that’s a sign.”

It most definitely was.

Little did I know as I walked with Sarah that day, during that exact conversation and those exact words that came out of my mouth – our twins were across town, just a few hours after taking their first breaths.

That night, David left for St. Louis for a guys trip – they were going to a Blues vs Flames NHL game, a trip they planned for months, one that they were all very excited for.

Thursday was a typical day as well until about 1 in the afternoon. I had just gotten back to my desk at work when my cell phone rang – it was a local area code and I recognized the number (much like I know when the dentist is calling but not until I pick it up do I put two and two together…) this time, it was our social worker….a call that I hadn’t even had time to prepare myself for, a call that would forever change our lives, and a moment in my life I will never forget.

As I answered, our social worker (who is amazing by the way!) began with “Mallory, are you sitting down?” I said “Yes, is this good news or bad news?” (I was in complete denial it was actually ‘the call’ until days later when it all sank in and I realized I didn’t dream it, it was real). She continued on with the news that there was a baby boy born on April 1st (the day before) and he had a lot of hair, was 7 pounds, and a little more about the birth mom and him. She then threw in “there’s just one thing…” I immediately felt my heart sink a little. We were very open to all things but every parent wants their child to be healthy and I had a sinking feeling there was more…I will never forget how my heart felt at that moment….the moment when our social worker then said, “He comes with a beautiful, healthy baby sister – twins!”

Twins!? Twins!? Of course we were open to twins, I watched triplets through college (over 8 years ago!) and twins, nor triplets, scared me much – David on the other hand may have had other feelings…but twins, I never imagined that one actually happening! And a boy and girl? No, no, where’s the bad news? We had years of bad news…bad news always follows the good news…but there wasn’t any bad news. All grace-filled, God answering good news! Prayers answered and not by just one, but two that we prayed so hard for for so long.

Our social worker went on to say how amazing the birth mom was and how she just loved our profile book and wanted to meet us that afternoon. Mind you, this was again, 1 in the afternoon, my husband was 5 hours away, and not only did we just receive the call we had been waiting for, but they were already here, a day old, and ready to go home the next day, Good Friday.

I broke the news of David being out of town to our social worker. She told me to call him, tell him the news, and she would talk to the birth mom to see if that was ok with her if she couldn’t meet us both that afternoon.

I called David, he was at the Budweiser Brewery doing a tour with his friends and having a pretty good time! Anyone that knows David personally knows how well he takes care of his things – including his truck. I actually had the truck that day because they took my car on their road trip. I started out the same way our social worker did when she told me the news “David, are you sitting down?” (Mind you, I was in tears….) He said, “Why?! What’d you hit?” (I will always remember that and laugh!) I went on to tell him we were chosen to meet the birth mom of TWINS, and all of the details. After knowing David for well over 10 years, I could envision the blood draining from his face as I told my always very organized, planning ahead for everything and anything, husband that our lives were changing – and at an extreme speed!

We talked more, I cried, he was in a stunned silence, and after many times asking “Can we handle twins!?” We both knew this was our chance. Our leap of faith, our call to action, and our babies who had been anxiously anticipated. There was no going back! David’s last words were “I think I need to go have another beer…” Thankfully, the group of guys he was with kept him calm, excited, and distracted as we waited to hear more on what was to come.

I eagerly, emotionally, made some phone calls to family, explained the craziness going on in my office to my coworkers, ran into my HR department to give them a heads up, and waited for my social worker to contact me back.

I tried to finish a few things up at work and a few hours later, our social worker called me back. She said that the birth mom wanted to still meet me if I was ok with that.

About 45 minutes later, I was riding an elevator up to meet one of the most important people in my life, and the two children that would forever change me.

I can’t even describe how nervous I was. Think of the most important job interview you’ve ever experienced, multiply those nerves by about 1,000 and you can imagine how I felt. As soon as our social worker opened the hospital room door, my nerves were calmed by a beautiful woman who immediately made me feel at ease, comfortable, and like I was just visiting a friend who had a baby.

We talked a lot about David and I, her life and family, she asked questions about David (for one, how tall he was….our babies will likely outgrow me as their birth mom is very tall), and questions about our journey to adoption. The time flew so fast and most of the conversation is a blur. But I will always remember standing in that hospital room in awe of how incredibly strong the woman in front of me was, how extremely mature she was beyond her years, and how much of a blessing and hero she will always be in my life.

As we talked, she asked if I wanted to see and hold the babies. She called the nurse to bring them to the room and they wheeled them in. I couldn’t believe, still can’t, how much beautiful hair they have! I still had my walls up some to try to protect from getting too attached, fearful the bad news was still coming, but as I held them each while I was visiting, I felt a love that was very familiar, one that had been there my whole life and was just surfacing, waiting for that moment. There really was no turning back, they stole my heart and ran with it.

A short time later, our social worker and I left, saying temporary goodbyes and praying I’d still be seeing her tomorrow and that our biggest fear wouldn’t become the bad news I was cautiously preparing for.

I called David, told him all about our visit and the twins, and we began to figure out the next few hours as David and his seriously amazing, understanding friends shortened their trip and drove through the early hours of the morning to get him back in time to meet our twins’ birth mom and the babies the next day before they were all released from the hospital.

I drove right to my parent’s where my sister met us and my mom, sister, and I went to the store to get all the essentials we’d need. If things continued on, we would be taking them home the next morning and we only were prepared enough to have a crib (thanks for my coworker!!) that wasn’t put together and a dresser/changing table. Thankfully my mom and sister pretty much just threw stuff in the cart – diapers, car seats, wipes, etc – as I walked around trying to overcome the shock that our dreams were becoming a reality and in the most unimaginable way – twins! Twins!?

My two sister in laws came over later that night as I searched online for boy names, trying to calm my nerves, and get through what may have been the longest night of my life. I took a bath about 1 AM as David and I texted back and forth on what to name our precious baby boy. I have loved the name Aria for a long time…boys names are hard though!

After about 2 hours of sleep, I woke up, texted and called a few friends and got myself ready. David drove straight from St Louis to the hospital and we met in the parking lot as we tried to figure out how to install the carseats and nervously walked into the hospital. The ride up the elevator was similar but this time, David was experiencing what I had experienced the day before….as we tried to calm our nerves a bit, we were greeted by our social worker and some nurses and walked down to the room where the twins and their birth mom were.

She got to know David some and I gave her the little gift I had for her, we talked about the babies’ names as she filled out their birth certificates for us and we got to meet her two other children (they are just as adorable!!!). After some time talking and cuddling the babies, we gave her and her family some time with the twins as we waited in the hallway. My stomach felt sick for her…I can’t even imagine what was going through her head and heart in those moments.

After we said our goodbyes, emotions rushed over me and it hit me the amount of loss she just experienced and the loss our twins experienced and they didn’t even know it. The amount of love that she had for them to give them a life she felt was better than she could provide at that time and entrusted us to give them that, to love them and care for them. She gave us a gift, two, that I could never, in a million years, put words to how thankful we are because of her. One of my biggest hopes for our twins is that they know her, her strength and grace and selfless love she had for them, and that she will always be a part of our family.

The nurses came in shortly to go over baby care with us – which was awesome! It was nice to have a refresher course on all things baby and get lots of resources to get us through our first time at being parents. I did a TON of reading over the last few years about infertility and adoption, not once did I pick up a book about babies!

Later that afternoon, we left the hospital as a family of 4 (plus Bentley of course!). A family that we patiently waited and prayed for, but in less than 24 hours became true. David and I still laugh that when we brought them home and in the house, we sat their carseats in the living room and just stared at them for a short time as we thought to ourselves “Now what!?” – our journey was just beginning and we couldn’t imagine it any other way!

These past few weeks have been a whirlwind. At times I still have to pinch myself to see if this is real. We are so in love with these two little beings and the support surrounding our family has been incredible! Thank you to everyone for embracing this journey with us and for all that have let us borrow items or dropped of gifts and meals – we can’t thank you enough! Adoption is an amazing, amazing thing that doesn’t happen without a community and we have been shown that time and time again over these past few weeks!

Through our infertility years, I felt the best way to describe the pain I was feeling was that there was a hole in my heart that was empty. It was a hole that even when my heart felt joyful, was always there reminding myself I wasn’t complete yet – there was so much more room for love. Little did I know that the hole I felt so immensely, was a hole that was meant to be filled with double the blessings!

And our blessings didn’t stop there….

Introducing…

Our son…IMG_3631_editedMyles

and our daughter…IMG_3536_editedAria

We are so in love with these little ones! It’s been a whirlwind of a 2 weeks but we are so, so blessed! They were born on April 1st, 2015 – Myles was 7 pounds, 19.5 inches and Aria was 6 lbs 13 oz, 21 inches. They have the most gorgeous little features, tons of dark beautiful hair, and are doing amazing!

10848520_1038397342856514_6860814496661096146_o{Photo taken by Seymour Flash Photography}

Spring Favorites

I am a HUGE lover of ‘the in-between seasons’ like spring and fall. There is just something about the change and all of the great things ahead that those seasons bring to me, my life, and my mood. Spring is a season for me of renewal and refreshing. I’m not a huge lover of cleaning but always get the itch to clean, organize (David will laugh when he reads that part…he’s the organizer in our lives but a girl can dream!), and start things that have been on my list to do. I also love the days where the sun is warm and the breeze is cool. And don’t deny you, too, love walking through the isles at Target seeing all of the bright spring pastels! If Target doesn’t give you that feeling, open up a new tab for Pinterest and you’ll understand what I’m talking about. so.much.loveliness. Here are a few of my favorite things right now as we go into this wonderful time of the year!

  • THIS carrot cake recipe. I made it last year when I was trying a gluten free diet while healing from my endometriosis surgery. Though I am no longer following that, this is still a favorite of mine that I am looking forward to baking again for Easter this year. Everyone seemed to love it, including my Dad who is hard to please when it comes to sweets as he often says things are too sweet (is that possible!?). It’s a dessert that will give you a touch of sweetness without making you feel about to burst into a million pieces full. *The coconut whipped frosting is delicious!! IMG_20140420_132726
  • Young Living Essential Oils. I am digging into the crazy, slightly overwhelming, world of essential oils. Thanks to an amazing, seriously amazing, kindness and generosity of a friend/yoga teacher/inspirational woman in my life, I am now a distributor and have the premium starter kit. I am learning more every day and hoping to share some amazing benefits as I go along! (If you are interested in learning with me, email me at nestingheart@gmail.com) IMG_20150401_121939
  • Detox baths. I had a little bit of a skin irritation last week and my beautiful NP friend told me to try taking a baking soda/hot water bath 2 times a day. I also added Epsom salt as I always do to my baths – this was a habit when I was running a lot of miles each week to help my feet and knees to recover. I also added 5-10 drops of either lemon or lavender oil depending what time of the day it was. After about 3 days of this regimen my skin irritation is almost completely gone – these ingredients are considered a detox bath to rid the body of toxins, similar to a diet-cleanse. I have been feeling really good and will continue to have these a part of my life! It really is crazy all of the toxins we are exposed to on a daily basis so I think it’s great to do what we can do rid ourselves of it as often as we can. More info here and here.
  • I Am They. I love Spotify because I can discover all sorts of new music and bands. As I have probably said before, I love all kinds of different music and will often jump from Christian to Rap to Country to Rock…all over the place. I Am They is a Christian band but really reminds me of bands like Lady Antebellum and The Band Perry. They have a good sound to them and I am loving their song Amen. Check them out. IMG_20150401_100036
  • My very well-mannered puppy. Bentley has officially completed his 2 week training. He is doing amazing! We have to keep attention on continuing the new habits and manners at home so he knows we have high expectations of him still but I can’t say enough about our choice to put him through the training. The trainers were so awesome, we learned a lot, and Bentley’s smart little brain caught right on and he’s continuing to impress us. 10686631_10153713052946040_3696977594408107920_n I hope everyone has a fabulous Easter. Hopefully you will be busy enjoying some sunshine, family time, worship time, and a good egg hunt!