Orchestrating Time

Infertility will always be a scar on my heart. it is a part of who I am. With that, I feel like there’s a secret club (a club that is not by choice, definitely not be request, and most definitely not be desire) of men and women who deeply understand what it’s like to have the word infertility attached to your dreams at one point or another.

With the scar that infertility left on my heart came a deep realization and understanding of the complex concept of timing—particularly God’s timing. Whether you believe in a higher power or not, sometimes things just are not in your control, no matter how hard you try to perfectly coordinate them to be. A painful stab to your heart when you so badly want that timing to align with your expectations, and it doesn’t happen the way you thought it would.

When I think back to how everything played out and how perfectly timed each small piece (here too!) of our story was strategically put into place—only being able to connect those dots now as we look back—I am forever grateful for the pain and scars that infertility has caused because it has also brought us the most incredible sense of understanding, peace, joy, and love.

I sit here on this Thursday morning drinking a hot cup of coffee, pre-morning chaos, I think back to the very moment we decided we were ready to grow our family and it is still not lost on me all of the mornings I woke up to find out our dreams were crushed once again. Every morning I woke up wondering when I would hear “Mama…” called out in a sweet voice, waiting patiently to cuddle (but really who are we kidding, they want food.) I am forever grateful for our story because those lows, that deep pain, led me right here drinking my hot cup of coffee, feeling peace. In a few moments, I will hear that sweet sound calling from one of the bedrooms and I fear that my heart might actually explode from feeling so full.

If you are wondering what you did to deserve the waiting, the pain, the unknown…I hope our story (including this…) brings you hope. You have done absolutely nothing to deserve the pain you are going through, you deserve more. God is working hard to orchestrate each piece of your beautiful story, whatever that may be. But that’s the exciting, beautiful part of this life, you never know what surprises your future holds…realizing some day as you look back and see that those surprises weren’t really surprises at all, they were orchestrated perfectly and intently for you.

#BeTheChange

My son has soft, dark brown skin. Tightly curled, coarse black hair. A handsome, dimpled smile. Defined arms with a broad frame. He lives to make people laugh. He’s a lover and gives big, intentional hugs. He has beautiful deep brown eyes. Innocent, beautiful deep brown eyes that some day will be tainted from society’s ignorance.

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I haven’t had a chance to blog in quite some time but my heart and stomach have felt unsettled and sick for the past week and it’s time, as our children’s biggest advocate, that I speak up.

I want to start and say that this has nothing to do with police brutality. Nor does it have to do with arguing the meaning of hashtags. It’s not meant to be in protest. It’s also not meant to cause more division. Aria will also face these same challenges, but today I focus on Myles.

The first step in solving a problem is to admit you have a problem in the first place. There’s no better time than now for us in America to admit we have a racial problem in our society.

I encourage everyone to take the time to read this article for some first hand experience on what it’s like to be black in America, specifically the Midwest. First hand experience from an educated, law-abiding black man. Read >>

What makes me sick to my stomach is that our children have already experienced, mostly innocent, yet just as damaging, stereotypical comments at the ripe age of one. I pray the world changes before they are old enough to comprehend and take to heart the ignorance of the world and people around them.

I do not want our family to be seen by colorblind eyes. I love Aria and Myles’ brown skin, I love it when little kids see us at the park and refer to them as our brown babies. They are brown. Black. And African American. It’s a feature of who they are and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I actually jump up and down inside when children have pointed out this fact before, until I see the horrified, embarrassed look on the parents’ faces and my heart sinks. That look tells their children, and mine, that the color of someone’s skin matters.

Some day, Myles is going to be a grown black man. Probably a fairly strong and tall black man and most likely look older than he is. And my fear is that he will be seen differently held under ignorance, stereotypes, and prejudices.

Now’s the time society has to admit we have a problem and face this reality. It’s not a perfect world, but it’s also not impossible to change people’s prejudices if we focus on the problem at hand instead of clouding it with division, blame, more hate, denial, and excuses.

Want to make a difference in this divided world? Want to really ensure all lives are equal?

Remember your children, my children, they are watching and learning from us. All children see skin color as just that, skin color. Somewhere along the way, their views shift—we as adults and parents can change that.

Join me to shed the discrimination, stereotypes, and ignorance that exists in all of us and stop passing on these prejudices. Work to change the ones that you’ve been tainted with, even the innocent ones, and think before you speak or act. 

#bethechange

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5 Months Going On 12

Aria and Myles are just over 5 months old and are growing like crazy! I miss my itty babies but each phase has been more and more fun as their personalities burst at the seams…as well as their clothes. At their 4 month appointment, Myles was 20 pounds and Aria was only one pound behind. They are both super long also and we outgrow footie pajamas faster than we can get to the store to buy more!

Aria has her first tooth and rolled over last week from her back to her belly. She loves the act of rolling but isn’t a fan of getting stuck on her belly. She has a smile that makes her eyes sparkle and has suddenly busted out some creepy, yet hilarious, zombie growls. She can sit up on her own fairly well but does enjoy a good game of ‘throw myself back as someone catches me, every.single.time, and giggle.” She is a great sleeper and we’ve noticed she likes to grab a lock of her hair while she sleeps.

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Myles surprisingly doesn’t have any teeth popped through yet but his perfectly mapped out, defined under the gums, teeth appear to be ready at any moment! He rolled from his back to his belly last week and I’m sure before we can believe it, he’ll be crawling. Myles’ gummy smile and his right eyebrow that he raises at us quite often, tell me he’s going to have such a vibrant, hilarious sense of humor. He loves to run in place and if his sister is close to him – he’ll grab a hold of her, her toy, her hair, her clothes, or her hand. This kid loves to eat and especially loves his rice cereal and so far peas and sweet potatoes.

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Baby #3 is also doing great! Growing right on track and had his/her first photos taken last week. We are excited, still a bit shocked and nervous, but now that I’m feeling lots of movements and starting to show, it’s becoming less of a dream and more of a reality. Our 3 musketeers are going to have so much fun someday!

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David and I are doing really good. I’ve recently started a new job that has been going really well and David turned 30 last weekend! And we could still go on for days about how thankful and blessed we are. My heart is so full that most days I still can’t believe our lives.

Two More Feet

“Call to me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” – Jeremiah 33:3

In December of 2011, David and I dreamed of starting our family. Months and months went by without success, our dreams becoming more and more crushed under the weight of disappointment, feelings of failure, sadness, and anger. Months became years. Dreams became tests, hormones, monitoring, many unsuccessful artificial inseminations, surgery, and more disappointment. I started to become really angry and bitter, at God, at myself, at the world around me.

I hated living in that angry, bitter state and I constantly tried to stay above water without drowning in it. I turned to prayer. Shortly after, our prayers started changing as adoption was placed right in front of us and provided peace and hope in our hearts again. The timing of Aria and Myles’ adoption story is beyond coincidence as we got the call from our social worker to move forward with our home-study process around the same time the twins were conceived, without any of us knowing His plan at that time, we moved forward and the pieces of our heart were starting to be put back together.

As we went quickly through our home study process, we were an approved waiting family in early February 2015. We got the most amazing call of our lives on April 2nd – the call that there were boy/girl twins and we were chosen to be their parents! Never in my life did I imagine any of this to happen, especially the timing of all of it as we look back and connect the dots that were perfectly aligned and orchestrated.

Our hearts were healed the moment we held Aria and Myles. The years’ worth of pain, waiting, and disappointments made perfect sense the moment I looked into our son and daughter’s beautiful brown eyes and stroked their perfect head full of silky brown hair. They were worth every tear, every prayer cried out, every moment struggled; I would do it 10 times over again for this outcome.

They were God’s plan for us. All of this time, He knew what He had in store and it was much bigger, much mightier than we ever could have dreamed of.

Around the time the twins turned one month old, still in awe of the amazing life we were given only a few short weeks before, distracted by the fullness of love we had in our hearts – I realized my cycle was late.

I quickly felt sick to my stomach. There was no way, was there?

Our family was completed with Aria and Myles; on cloud 9 in love with them, and still trying to overcome the overnight surprise of twins…I mentioned my calendar to David and as we both stared at each other in scared denial, we laughed a little – we aren’t ‘those’ people that this happens to…

After a weekend full of trying to explain the delayed cycle to myself, I packed up our 4 week old twins for a Target run to buy a box of pregnancy tests. I can only imagine what the cashier was thinking in her head…

I went home, got the twins fed, and couldn’t hold out any longer. I needed reassurance that I was indeed off in my calculations due to lack of sleep, I took the test.

A plus sign showed up immediately.

At that moment, I realized that even still, we are not in control of our lives and the past month should have proven that to me enough but that moment, that moment I realized how little we have to do with our futures. We waited and prayed to be parents for 3.5 years and in one month we went from 0 to 3. God’s plan was still unfolding right before our very eyes.

I called David to see if he could come home early from work that Monday afternoon. He could tell something happened as I was freaking out slightly (which may be an understatement, I was scared to death…). When I told him the test was positive, he laughed. I think at that moment, that’s all we could do. God not only gave us our April Fool’s babies, but he’s definitely proven his sense of humor now. 🙂

My doctor had me come in a few times over the next few weeks for repeated bloodwork and two early ultrasounds. It all became reality as we saw our little surprise miracle tie-breaker on the screen, heart flickering and wiggling around.

To say we feel blessed is an understatement. I can honestly say that God touched our lives and I will forever be thankful for the struggle and the joy that followed – all 3 of them! He has gifted us the opportunity to experience parenthood both through adoption and biology and both are truly miracles to us! These three babies of ours were perfectly created as a part of this plan for our lives to intertwine at these very moments.

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Baby #3 is due early January 2016. Aria and Myles will be just over 9 months old. It will always be a party at our house and we are still amazed at the events that have unfolded in the last 3 months of our lives.

For my friends still in-waiting…I pray for you weekly. I pray that our story brings you hope, peace, and strength when your patience is running thin. God is pulling for you too, His plan is still in progress as he orchestrates your future to be perfect and great and mightier than you could have ever imagined.

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}