writing

So I had a list of all the things I was going to catch up on and write about when I took a break waiting to gain more storage.  But I re-read that list and there wasn’t much on there that actually seemed important now.  So I crushed it in my hands and tossed it in the trash.  So with no prompts or lists of topics I am just going to write.

For a long time writing has been therapeutic for me.  I have so many documents in word and drafts in my e mails where I just free write to get things out of my head.  It is so funny to go back and read some of the things I have written and seeing where I was at that time in my life.  Then sometimes reading the things that I have written just takes me back to places I don’t really want to be again.

Over the past several years infertility has been my demon.  It is something that consumes a lot of my time and thoughts.  The what if’s roll though my head.  The why plays over and over in my mind and heart.  The insecurities are crystal clear in the writing.  The blame I placed/place on myself and God are there.  The frustration creeps back in.

Let me be very clear that while I am living and breathing infertility and it consumes so much of my life – it does not consume everything.  I have moments, days, weeks, and months even that I exist with this label and don’t bat an eye.  That I push it to the back of my mind the best I can and enjoy life without worrying what happens next, without feeling like I have to be an advocate, without feeling like I have to explain why we have no children or defend why we haven’t been chosen with the adoption, without feeling like everyone that glances at me has a look of pity for me.  Where the past and the future don’t taunt me.  So while infertility is my demon – I still have some freedom to hide from it.  But that is all I can really do is hide.  Eventually it finds me.  Eventually it allows those thoughts to flood back in and I become that infertile girl again, and she warps into this monster.

As I read back through and think about where I have been and where I am, I realize I am caught between despising who infertility has made me and being proud.  With Mother’s Day approaching I swing closer to the despising side.  I think about the years I have missed out on that holiday and how each year is breaks my heart a little more.  Yes I celebrate my mother and other women that have “mothered me” but with each year that passes my time feels further and further out of reach for me to actually get to be on the receiving end of Mother’s Day.  It hurts.  It makes me mad.  It frustrates me.  I hide on that day because I worry that the monster that infertility has created will do something or say something stupid or offensive to someone.  That my bitterness will be more evident and that I will hurt feelings and people will make me feel guilty because I don’t have a child, that make me feel selfish because I can’t just “get over it and be happy.”  In years past I avoid church and will this year as well.  Sad but oh so true.  I can’t do it.  I avoid facebook and other social media.  I do my best to avoid going out to eat.  I attempt not to communicate with people in public because strangers tell women “Happy Mother’s Day” even if you don’t have a child with you.  And sometimes people that know you don’t have a child will speak that phrase to you and makes you wonder why?  Why in the world would you say that to me knowing the road that I have traveled.  And those three words when spoken or texted to me cuts straight through my soul.  I don’t deserve them.  I am not worthy and those words are wasted on me.  I despise that part of me.  The part that hides from the world – that allows the bitterness to creep in and fears that I will forever be 1 in 8 and never get to experience what motherhood is.

So this year as we get closer to Mother’s Day I find myself surrounded by emotionally bad days, the monster that comes with those days breathes bitterness and disdain and hopelessness.  Not with everything in my life, but with everything infertility related.  That monster has crawled into my head and heart and set up a tent, built a little camp fire, sitting all smug in a chair roasting marshmallows.

 

8 days

**I wrote this in the days following Addy’s funeral, but until now didn’t feel like posting**

addy’s life was short.

there is no way around this subject.  her life was short.  8 days to be exact.

while you may not agree with the next several thoughts, you have to allow me to believe them because i do.  we don’t have to agree, but we can respect each other.

when addy was born the odds were not in her favor.  she was 12 weeks early, she had the PDA, she developed the infection, and she had the massive brain bleed.  if she only had any one of those things (instead of them all), this story may have played out differently – but we will never know and playing the what if game is pointless.  with all of those complications we believe there is mercy in her passing.  we obviously didn’t want that to happen and we wanted the outcome to be different, but we were constantly reminded that we are not in control.  death is some times the most compassionate thing that can happen to a person, and we believe that to be the case in this situation.

even though the birth mother changed her mind hours before addy’s death she wanted us to be at the funeral.  we got an e mail from our caseworker with the arrangements.  we knew we wanted to go to support the mother and her family, we wanted the agency to know that we really did care, and while addy was alive i spent a lot of time with her and wanted to say goodbye.  so for us we knew that we would go.  we wouldn’t attend the grave side service, but we would go to the funeral home.  since the birth mother hadn’t told a lot of people that she was giving the baby up for adoption we didn’t want to go to the grave side service where people talk to the people around them afterwards.  we didn’t want to just say we were “friends” because we didn’t want the follow up questions.  the safest thing to protect the mother and the best thing for us was to just go to the funeral service at the funeral home.  when we got there we signed in and found a seat.  shortly after we sat down the pregnancy counselor came over to us and we stood up and hugged her.  she slipped something in my hand and told me that the mother wanted us to have it.  it was a tiny knit hat that belonged to addy, they also gave us a card signed by the people that worked at the agency.  i gave her a card and a flash drive of the photos that i had taken of addy to give to the mother.  we spoke with our caseworker and gave her a hug.  a few minutes before the service started the birth mother came over and gave me a huge hug and the dad came over and shook our hands.

i don’t love funerals – besides the obvious that someone is dead, but because i don’t feel like funerals capture a persons life.  i have been to a few funerals that have made me feel closer to the deceased, but most of the time i feel like funerals paint a picture that isn’t an accurate image of that person or their life, or that they are so far off on who that person was to the people they have left behind.  i will say that this funeral was no different.  it was painful.  i mean no disrespect for addy, her family, or the preacher that performed the funeral, but it was the worst funeral i have ever been to.

to begin with, it was a funeral for an 8 day old baby.  it doesn’t matter that we were connected through the adoption process and that she was so close to being ours, it would have been horrible even if that wasn’t the case.  it honestly felt like a pre-memorial service for pat summit (she was eulogized more than addy was).  i liked coach pat as much as the next person, but the tiny little body up there wasn’t pat summitt, it was addy.  the other thing that stuck out to me so much as being terrible was that in talking about pat summitt the preacher continued to say that millions will remember pat, but no one will remember addy.  that her life meant nothing.  she was insignificant.

maybe we misunderstood the point of what the preacher was saying, but we both would have misunderstood the same way, because we were both very upset when we left the funeral.  during the funeral andy’s hand would grip mine a little tighter and i returned the gesture each time something didn’t sit right (at one point in time it was just a continuous squeeze).  we couldn’t  believe some of the things we heard, and granted at a time like this it is hard to know what to say, but I feel like other things could have been said.  i silently prayed that the preacher would step aside and ask if anyone wanted to come to the front and say a few words – because i would have gone.  i thought about the fact that most people didn’t know of the adoption plan and thought “i don’t care, addy deserves better than this.”  he never left the podium, and never gave me a chance to speak. so allow me to say what i feel like should have been said in the first place.

one thing that the preacher did say was this: “how do you eulogize 8 days?”  that is how he started his sermon and that grabbed me, so i will keep that.

how do you eulogize 8 days of life?

you shouldn’t have to.  it isn’t fair and it is hard for us to understand why things happened the way that they did.  we can sit here everyday and say it was all part of God’s timing, but that implies that God was ok that her life was cut short.  or the implication can be made that he planned on her life to be short for a “greater good” or to “teach” someone a lesson.  i have a hard time believing that some people are born to die to show other people something because that would imply that their life is expendable – that God doesn’t value their life as much as other lives.  i don’t believe that we are God’s pawns that he just kicks us off the chessboard whenever he feels like it.  i just don’t believe that.  i understand from a physical stand point why addy died.  i know that she was early and that she was very sick.  i understand that her chance of survival was slim with all of the complications – so her death wasn’t a complete shock to us.  what i don’t understand is the spiritual side.  i don’t know why we were chosen to be part of her 8 days.  my heart tells me that there is a reason, but i can’t figure it out – and possibly i will never know the reason – and i have come to believe that this is ok.

addy came into this world with a dramatic flair – butt first; however, that first breath of life was her own.  she was a 13.75 inch long, 2 pound 10 ounce miracle.  for weeks before her birth she was our miracle.  her short life was full of tubes, medicines, tests, needle sticks, glow lights, beeps, and monitors.  her cry was never louder than a kitten’s meow. she never found her voice and we will never know the depth of it.  she never got to sleep in a real bed, only knowing the warmth of the incubator.  she will never know the silence on a starry night gazing at the moon, she only knew the beeps, constant noise, and bright lights of the nicu.  despite never holding her, and never being able to be that close to her, i was able to pick up on her scent.  the “new baby smell” that everyone talks about.  when i left the hospital after she was born to go to the hotel, i fell asleep with my hands next to my face drinking the smell in.  the smell that i associated with dreams coming true, hope, and our miracle. the smell that a few days later, triggered the tears to fall as i leaned my head against the incubator praying that the doctors were wrong.

it is hard to imagine what kind of person she would have been.  in her short life you could catch glimpses of characteristics of who she might have been.  when she was uncomfortable or in pain she put her hands to her face covering her eyes.  when she was completely relaxed she would hold her ear or put her hands above her head.  her heart rate reacted to music showing that she enjoyed music.  she would have liked to have been snuggled because she always responded to touch.  she was quick to grab your finger and to latch on and squeeze.  but beyond these things we will never know addy as being beyond 8 days old.  we can imagine who she would have been, but because her beginning was brief and the ending came too soon we will have few thoughts of her growing and living beyond the incubator and the nicu.

she was surrounded by love before she took her first breath.  her birth mother loved her enough to do the adoption plan, andy and i loved her more than any words i can express, our families loved her, and friends loved her.  she was a little girl that was never at a loss for love or prayers.  they poured in for her.  the nurses and the doctors loved her too.  i walked in several times to see the nurses talking with her and telling her that she was beautiful.  she might have just been their patient, but the love in the nicu was palpable.  addy received more love in her short life than some people get in a life time and for that i am thankful.

while her life didn’t reach millions of people (maybe not even hundreds of people) she touched lives.  deeply.  the people that she leaves behind have felt her presence deep within our souls and we mourn the loss of sweet addy.

and while i still don’t understand the “purpose” in her life cut short and i don’t believe that God “caused” this to happen to teach us something i do believe that we can use terrible things – this death – to find beauty.  we can find beauty in the fact that she wasn’t alone and that she died being loved by many.  personally, i am holding onto the beauty that this experience has opened my eyes and proved that i can love a baby that isn’t biologically mine.  there is beauty that relationships were strengthened surrounding the birth and death of addy.  the beauty that God never left us throughout this entire process.

i will never believe that she was put here as a dispensable life.  for some unknown reason her life was an essential part of our story and of our lives.  there is a part of addy that will remain in my heart, and i hope in the hearts of others, forever.

how do you eulogize 8 days of life?

her life was short and and her death won’t affect millions of people.  her footprint might have been tiny, but in the 8 days she was alive she left a mark – her mark – an impact and love that was immense, beyond measure.

goodbye sweet addy, goodbye.

our little twitter-bird

I have started and deleted this post so many times I have lost count.  Nothing seemed right.  Nothing seemed to do it justice.  One time it would be too detailed and too much information for the reader and other times it was so vague that it didn’t feel right either.  So I will start this post again and see if I can find some middle ground.

When we were chosen by the birth mother at the end of May 2016.  We were told she was due in September, but that she always went early so to be ready by August 1.  We made our lists of things to do before we were to bring the baby home.  We bought furniture and had it delivered to the house while we were at Montreat.  We started to talk about paint colors for the nursery, and we started to discuss what we would need immediately vs what would be on our wish list for later.  We had a plan pretty much for each week until August 1st.

We were chosen (officially) on June 1, 2016.  We went to Montreat as planned and while we were there we got a call on June 14th that our birth mother was in the hospital and they were trying to decide if they were going to do strict bed rest of go on and induce and take the baby because both mom and baby were in danger.  We were told to be on stand by.  June 15th we got a call stating they were going to induce as mom was now 28 weeks and they couldn’t wait any longer.  They were planning on starting the process at 5:00 pm.  We decided Andy would stay at camp with the kids since he wasn’t going to be in the delivery room anyways.  I made my way to the hospital and we waited.  5:00 came and went and nothing was started.  It was around 9:00 that night that they actually got things started with the induction.

This is where I end up being way too detailed or not detailed enough.  I remember every second (mostly) and detail about the time I spent in room 10 of the labor and delivery floor.  It was an experience like no other and that words don’t completely capture the essence or the magnitude of the moments we spent together.  Exactly 2 weeks after we were chosen, two weeks and a day after we met this amazing woman we were tossed into a whirlwind experience.  We hadn’t had our next scheduled meeting because we thought there was time.  We hadn’t had time to completely process the extent of our relationship and how connected we were because we knew the other existed for only 2 weeks.  We thought there was time to get the furniture assembled in the nursery.  We thought there was time to meet the birth father.  We thought there was time, but what we didn’t have was time.  It was here and now and all of my plans and lists were null and void.

I write about the timeline of events that happened in June 2016 and am thrust right back into the calm before the storm and then the absolute chaos.  And while all of those elements are so important to Andy and I, they may not be as important to anyone else, and that is ok.  Maybe in the moment those details would have been important to other people beyond Andy and myself, but this far out from that date, I just don’t know.  It is hard sorting out what others might feel is important and what I think it is important for other people to hear.  I can describe in detail the induction process and when things stalled or progressed.  I can describe to you how truly amazing it was to listen to the heart beat on the monitor.  How in the quiet of the night it would slam into me with so much emotion I would escape to the bathroom to gather myself.  How the chairs were arranged in that room and each person had their spot, but when they rotated, where we all went and how often we moved around.  How we took shifts to make phone calls, get drinks, ice chips, and eventually something to eat.  How birth mom would wake up during the night and ask if her “baby mama” was still there.  Those details are there and etched in my brain.

What is important regardless of how much time passes is the beauty that encompassed room 10 and OR room 1.  Two families connected through adoption.  The birth family and the adopted family supporting each other, barely knowing each other.  We laughed together, we got choked up together, we sat in silence together.

The awkwardness I thought would be palpable wasn’t there.  The conversation flowed between procedures and contractions.  The smiles and tears were genuine.  The concern was real.  She apologized to me so many times for having to be induced and the magnitude of the situation didn’t elude me.  She was saying sorry to me and yet she was about to give me my hopes and dreams for so many years.  It didn’t seem quite right.  I thanked her over and over.  We held hands like old friends.

Around 2:15 in the morning of June 16th I found myself sitting alone in the cafeteria eating the first food I had in hours and reflecting on life.  A terrible piece of pizza and a luke warm cranberry juice was all that was available at that time of morning.  I sat in the booth staring off into space, tired from being awake and exhausted from trying to be supportive and remaining hopeful and calm.  We were not delusional to think this delivery at 28 weeks would be without complications.  I knew what we were up against.  Andy did too.  But we held onto the hope that things would be ok.  The heart rate was perfect and I held onto that thought.  For the first time in years I imagined our life as a family with a child.  I grabbed onto that hope that it was really happening to us.  I reached into the back of my mind where I stashed all of those thoughts and feelings and allowed them to resurface again.

Birth mom and most everyone else in the room fell asleep around 3.  Myself and another lady stayed awake until about 4:20.  We were awaken at 4:40 by total chaos.  Birth mom was rushed to the OR to deliver there (as a precaution).  I was told to wait by a door to see the baby as it went by the door on the way to the NICU.  The friend that was in the OR with the birth mom was texting the pregnancy counselor and the pregnancy counselor was sending me the information and I was sending the information to Andy.  It was a long line of cell phone communication.  My favorite was when I got the text that she was here.  Our little girl.  She was 2 pounds 10 ounces.  I got to see a video of them taking her to the incubator.  They stopped by the door and I could see her.  The NICU doctor was with her.  I hadn’t been able to speak with her earlier so she stepped through the door and answered some of my questions.  She said the good news was that they didn’t have to intubate right away that she was breathing on her own (she warned me that could change at any moment).  She wanted to go to the NICU with her and told me I would be able to come see her and find out more information after their first assessment.  I went back to room 10 and watched the sun rise.

The day our daughter was born I saw the beauty in the creation of not just her life, but in the world around me.  In my tired state I marveled over the colors dancing in the sky.  It didn’t matter that it was coming up over construction and dirty machinery.  It was the most beautiful sunrise I ever saw.

I waited for what seemed like hours and was finally able to go to the NICU and be with our girl.  I was educated on how to scrub in and went through the dragonfly covered door to her little incubator.  I will admit in full honesty that I was glad Andy wasn’t there for my first meeting with her.  Biological mothers get to have that bonding time for 9 months (or so) while the baby is growing in them.  I hadn’t had that and was so happy that we could have a few minutes to bond alone.  I know that is selfish, but hey at least I willingly admit that.  The nurse was amazing.  She walked me through everything about the NICU.  I knew what to expect in the coming hours and what to hope for with the first 72 hours (what we were told would be the biggest challenge).  We were guarded but so far everything was ok.  She had a PDA (hole in the heart) and they were starting to treat that.  She would have cranial US to check on bleeding on the brain.  I was able to open the little door on the incubator and she grasped my finger and in that instant, my heart.  I talked to her and sat in silence staring at her.  Taking in her tiny little fingers and toes.  Watching her chest rise and fall.  Listening to the beeps and looking at the machines she was hooked up to.

With stories from the NICU.  I have a hard time knowing what to share.  Things happened quickly some days and other days not so quickly.  The omission of the massive amounts of details of what went on in the dragonfly wing of the NICU isn’t due to be uncaring or flippant about all that happened.  But rather I still can’t grasp what to say about it.  I almost feel callous in not writing more.  Most days were similar to the days before.  I would get to the hospital and go see the birth mom (she remained hospitalized after birth due to complications), then I would go to the NICU and scrub in.  I found a chair and would roll over to the incubator.  I would normally be met by the nurse and updated on progress or set backs.  I would then climb in my chair and talk to our sweet girl.  I would hold her hand.  Stroke the side of her face.  Tickle her tiny little toes.  It was just amazing and the images still come so vividly to me.

After the first doses of medications she still had a PDA and they were going to try another dose of medicine before they considered surgery.  Her oxygen was still good.  She had some help from ventilator, but wasn’t intubated.  She passed her cranial US with no bleeding.  She was a rock star.  She did have some episodes of Brady’s (forget to breathe), but I was assured that was normal with NICU patients.

One day I was at the incubator and the birth mom came in and we stood on each side of her and semi held her up for a family photo.  It was a moment I will never forget.  We marveled over how tiny she was and how dark her hair was.  There was a silence among us and looks of understanding, appreciation, and love between us.  A relationship that was so new and yet very deep.

Andy coming to meet her before he went on his next trip made me almost weep.  He couldn’t believe how tiny she was.  I told him, but he said seeing it for himself was surreal.

She passed the 72 hour mark with very little complications (except the PDA).  All of her cranial US came back normal and her blood work was great.  She was doing wonderful on the ventilator, but still wasn’t intubated and was breathing on her own too.

Day four is where things changed.  I got to the hospital and the nurse said she seemed a bit off the night before and now.  They were waiting on lab reports to come back, but thought she had an infection.  She was fussy and not comfortable.  The nurse showed me how to tuck her arms and legs into my palm and hold her securely in the incubator.  That seemed to help calm her.  Otherwise she would flail her arms and legs and cry (he tiny cry sounded like a kitten).  I sat with her for hours holding her arms and legs in the palm of my hand so she would be comfortable.  You could see the distress on her face and in her actions.  You could see it in her vitals and on the monitors.  It broke my heart.  There was nothing I could do to really help.  Touch seemed to help and I just wish that I could have held her.  I was informed that if she continued to have problems they would intubate to help relieve some of the stress on her body.  I asked them to call and let me know if they did that.

Results came back and she did have an infection and they started antibiotics.  They did intubate.

Wednesday morning I got a call asking me to come to the hospital because the doctors wanted to meet with us.  They informed us that she had a massive brain bleed likely caused by the severe infection.  We were all devastated.  Andy drove over from camp to talk with me and the doctor and to visit with our sick little girl.  Things changed so quickly it was hard to breathe.

Friday morning 8 days after her birth I got a call that the birth mom changed her mind and wanted to back out of the adoption plan.  I feel like there were so many factors in that decision and we will never know the extent of why she changed her mind, but she did.  That was her choice to make and we respect that decision.  Her decision kept us from having to make the decision to continue with the adoption verses backing out with such a poor prognosis.  A decision that neither of us wanted to make.  After the call I climbed in bed and grabbed onto Otis and cried.  For 8 days I had a little girl that I loved so much.  For 8 days I was a mother, not legally or biologically, but I loved that sweet baby with everything I had.  She was mine and I was hers.  It was an experience that showed me without a shadow of a doubt that shared DNA didn’t mean love.

It is important, I think, to note that we had a name picked out for our child.  Ever since we did infertility treatments we had a name.  The birth mother had chosen a different name and we planned on changing that at finalization to the name we fell in love with.  While I was alone I called the baby the name we intended to change it to.  But while others were around I respected the birth mother and called her Addy.  Since the birth mother changed her mind we have taken to remembering our time with her as Addy.  That is who she will always be to us.  Addy our little twitter-bird.

We were notified on Monday by our adoption agency that hours after the birth mother changed her mind.  Just 8 days into her life, Addy passed away.

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when we met your mother

*****this post was written in 2016, but i never posted it because circumstances changed so quickly.  i debated not posting this but decided to post it now because this is still part of our story (part of that transparency).  our experience in june 2016 has had a profound impact on our lives.  while things did not turn our how we hoped or expected it has shaped who we are today and we still talk about it and want to post those experiences for others to have a glimpse*****

when you google the word that i never thought would be us this is what you find.

chosen: having been selected as the best or most appropriate.

i still can’t believe it.  we have been chosen by a birth mother.  now that we have had some time to process, i am able to give a little more information.  i would also like to take a moment to add that we are given very vague information and the birth mother is given very vague information about us (to protect both sides).  at our training meetings we were taught that the entire adoption process will be a part of our child’s story and we should always think about that whenever we are placed and give out information about the specific scenario.  with that bit of information – we encourage questions, but please know and understand that we will tell information as we think it is appropriate.  we may have more information than we are leading on – but we also may not have that information at all.  so don’t be surprised or offended if you ask a question and we either tell you we don’t know or that we aren’t going to disclose that information yet.  i promise it isn’t to be mean or rude.

i mentioned a phone call stating that the birth mother wanted to meet us.  when we called our case worker together after work she gave us some information about the mom and about the situation.  she also told us about the birth mother coming to the adoption agency.

i will break to rant (as usual and again).  we have been officially waiting for over a year.  we went to some of the first meetings and heard people talk about how they were placed quickly.  one story was of a couple that was placed 2 weeks after they were approved.  several stories were that they were placed within 3 months of approval.  so few people that we talked with stated that they waited over a year.  so once we hit that year mark and went beyond it, i was completely convinced that we would never be chosen.  that something was wrong with us and that this was not even meant to be.  it hasn’t always been pretty and when i am feeling especially low and like we would never be chosen i would email our case worker and ask if we had any feed back.  she would tell me that nothing was wrong with us.  that our profile book was being shown and that when it happened it would happen.  we had to just trust the system.  i would roll my eyes.  when we had our home study update we asked again in person about the feedback.  (with the profile books the birth mothers are asked to put them in order of who they like better – i am sure there is a more politically correct way to say that).  she told us that we were number 2 for a birth mother (their number one worked out so they didn’t need to go to number 2) but we were at least in a short stack!  that gave us a little hope.  but we heard once again that when it happened it happened.  and again i rolled my eyes and held my tongue.

it isn’t that i don’t believe in God’s timing because there is a part of that concept i can get behind, but if anyone else told me it would happen when it was right – or any of the other ways to remind me that God was in control i was going to just cry – and maybe throw something.  we felt like it was a cop out answer.  we wanted answers and we were getting generic, religious, pat on the hand responses.

::slams head against desk::

so back to the phone call.  i was holding my cell phone (on speaker) in the passenger seat and andy was in the driver’s seat and we were listening to this information and she told us this: the birth mother went to a friend who told her that they were going to our agency in the morning to talk about adoption and so she went on the website and started to look at profiles.  the next day she walked into the adoption agency and said that she knew who her family was.  she told them she wanted andy and alison.  they asked her if she wanted to see other profiles and she told them no.  they asked her if she wanted to actually see our profile book and she said yes.  she looked at it and said again that we were her family.  they asked if she was sure that she didn’t want to see other profile books and she turned them down.  she said she just knew.  both of us got chills.  (i will admit she loved the family farm and that andy looked goofy and fun).  but she wanted us.  she chose us.

when we met your mother…

we are still using the agency to do our communicating.  the plan was to meet at the agency at 4:00 to meet the birth mother.  we pulled into the parking lot at 3:28 and andy said we couldn’t go in yet.  (i agreed).  we sat in the car and talked a little bit and waited forever before we went inside.  i think i was contemplating throwing up in the bushes and asking what this meeting was going to be like.  andy was looking up a restaurant to see if they opened their new location.  i finally said we needed to go in because i needed to pee and it was time (3:37).  we went in told them we were there and waited in the waiting room.  we waited forever and imagined what this meeting would be like.  finally (3:44) our case worker came to get us.  we asked a few follow up questions before we met the mother and she said you ready?  we walked down the long hall.  my heart was beating out of my chest, my mouth was drying out, and my legs felt like jelly following her down the hall.  we got to the door and walked into a room full of people.  the birth mother was there (and her friend).  our case worker and her pregnancy counselor were there (as well as an intern that has been working with the birth mother).  the agency workers were at the heads of the table and the birth mother and her friend were sitting on one side and andy and i went to the other side.  he sat across from the birth mother and i took the place across from her friend.  we all were introduced (first names only).  we looked at each other with that curiosity and mortification of a really weird blind date.  i was very thankful for the agency workers because they helped us get the conversation going.

the birth mother asked (through her friend) why we wanted to be parents.  we answered and they nodded.  then we sat in silence for hours (maybe a minute).  they asked about the farm and we talked about the animals – and a spark lit up her eyes and the corners of her mouth tilted up and the shyness was drifting away and her full personality started to emerge.  i asked her favorite color – pink is the answer (any shade).  we talked about hobbies (she likes to be outside and loves horses) and playing instruments (she plays the piano – self taught).  she told us that she picked us online before she even walked into the agency out of thousands of other profiles.  i can’t remember the exact course of our conversation, but we talked.  we laughed together.  she got choked up.  i got choked up.  the magnitude of the situation didn’t escape us.

once it seemed like our first date was coming to a close we prayed and were told to take 24 hours and get back with our case worker (and her with her pregnancy counselor).  she basically said before we walked out of the room that she had made her decision.

andy and i went to dinner to celebrate getting to the next step.  i called our case worker and left a message for her to call me.  she called a little bit later and answered a few questions.  my biggest one being – how did she think it went.  she told me great!  i looked at andy across the table and shrugged – he nodded and i nodded and i told her we wanted to move forward.

after dinner we went to babies r us and walked around.  a place that made me cry hundreds of time over the past 6 years had me crying again – bittersweet tears.  the end of one journey and beginning of another journey.  it wasn’t that big of a shock that the theme we picked out years ago had been discontinued, but we did buy a bear to remember the day we meet our child’s mother.

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gone way too long

I am back, but I’m not really.  I am sure to most my absence hasn’t been noticed or even mattered.  And well that is what I expect.  I have always felt like I wrote and no one read.  And that was fine.  Writing has been a way for me to expose my soul and therapy.  I guess I always thought if others are able to join me on the journey of things in my life and either learn from my mistakes or have something I say resonate within themselves then it is worth it.

I feel like I owe an explanation or an apology for stringing everyone along in our infertility journey and the adoption experience (as well as other things going on in our life).  But as I sit to write it, everything just comes out as excuses.

I could tell you that I have several drafts in my post folder, but never posted them because I couldn’t attach photos (that is a problem that has been solved).  Who wants to read about a zoo trip and not see an animal in the post?  While that is very true that was just an excuse to not post things.

I could tell you that I have been so busy that I haven’t had time, but I am currently sitting here on a Friday night alone watching my beagle snore on the couch and reruns on T.V.  While I have been semi busy at times, to say I have been so busy I couldn’t post would be a blatant lie.

If I am being completely honest with you and with myself I was lost.  I lost so much.  I lost the words that normally came easily to me.  I was no longer able to explain how I felt and my experiences with the words that allowed people to be “with” me on the journey.  I felt like no words could describe what I wanted to say.  Everything was inadequate.  I needed a break to find my words.  To locate myself.

To say that I succeeded wouldn’t be completely accurate.  But I am working on it.  While I was happy to allow a window into our fertility struggles and adoption adventures things changed in June 2016 and that transparency just went away.  I think part of that was so that I could wrap my head around it myself.  I have come to a place where I can have the level of transparency that it deserves.

So here I am.  I am back, but not the same person that I was before.

 

in an instant

everything can change in an instant.

people often times compare the ups and downs in situations to being on a roller coaster.  going up and going down and back up.  the implication is there that emotions can follow those same paths.  in grief this happens -as we experienced the ups and downs of infertility.  during the adoption process we have also experienced ups and downs.

i would like to take a moment to rant about this analogy.  in my opinion if you are talking about the ups and downs of a roller coaster it can be implied that the emotions in question are going up and down and up and down rapidly.  like there is no time to be up and no time to be down, but rather more time to bounce back and forth like a ball attached to a wooden paddle with an elastic strap.  i don’t like the imagery that on a roller coaster of emotion you can’t be up or down for any extended period of time.  so go with me on this train of crazy.

instead imagine a huge boat in the middle of the vast ocean.  huge rolling waves (not the kind associated with tropical storms or danger) gently rocking the boat: up and down.  the boat gently goes up and the positive emotions creep in and you have time to feel them.  live them.  experience them.  and once you feel at  home with those emotions and all of the good the boat shifts and starts its way gently down the wave and the emotions roll in and you want to find the nearest trash can or flower bed and puke.  you have time to experience panic and it simmers and you ask “what if” and about the time you think you are going to lose it, the boat rocks back up.

we are no stranger to the boat.

we survive most days in an inconsistently consistent routine and remember that it is good to be boring.

lately my “boat” has been fairly steady.  not too sad about things and not giddy (but i am not normally that giddy unless i am lacking sleep).  everything has been steady and normal and we crave that.

but things can change in an instant and they did.

tuesday, 5/31/16, i was sitting at work and out of the corner of my eye i saw my phone flashing and it wasn’t a number that i recognized so i grabbed my phone, got up and answered it.  it was 2:46 pm.  it was our caseworker saying hello.  she asked if we had a good Memorial Day weekend and a good trip.  i told her that we did, and that is where the normal routine ended and the boat started to move.  she said i have a mother that wants to meet you.  i couldn’t talk.  my voice was gone and my heart felt like it was going to jump out of my chest.  it took me a few minutes to gather my words and put together a coherent sentence.  she wanted to know if we wanted to come to her office so that she could give us all the information and see if we wanted to move forward with the meeting.  i said of course and asked what time frame we were looking at.  she told me we would have to be in her office that afternoon because if we wanted to move forward, our meeting would be the next afternoon at 4:00.  since we are a little over an hour away from her office she told us that if there was a way for us to call her together she could give us the information over the phone.  i told her we would call between 5:00 and 5:15.  i called andy and told him the news and told him to be there on time so we could call her.  i went back inside work and went to my managers office and told her i needed off the next afternoon.  i looked at the clock a hundred times and 5:00 finally came.  i ran to the car and we found a good place to park and we called her.  she gave us all of the details that she could give us and while we were listening we kept looking at each other and smiling.  she told us to digest the information and call her back after we talked privately if we wanted to meet the birth mother.  we answered yes without a doubt we want to meet her, no need to think about it, we just knew.

in an instant we were tossed into the next step – territory that is new to us.  we have never been this far.

our wait was different.  instead of just waiting to hear anything – now we were waiting to meet a birth mother.  someone that picked us.

we went to bed, but i don’t think either of us got much sleep.  my boat rocked all night long.  rolling up with excitement of meeting a birth mother – potentially our birth mother. and then the boat rocked down.  fear of the unknown.  will she like us?  will everything be ok?  will we like her?  is this really happening?  can we get things done before the baby is due?  is everything really going to be ok?

somewhere before i drifted off into a worried sleep, the gentle wave lifted me back up.  the answer is yes.  this is happening and everything will be fine.  i breathe in and out and the world is ok again.

june 1st at 20 til 4:00 we walk into the room and we meet her.  (an encounter i will write about later).

june 2nd i get a text that says:

“she absolutely wants you guys to be the family for this baby.”

we were chosen!

at 10:11 am in that exact moment – my life was instantly changed for the better.

desparation then devastation

there is a time in my life where I need to realize some truths and accept them.  I am working on this – every day.  there is a long list and I don’t feel like this is the time to divulge that list in it’s entirety, but rather just glance at that list.

with the infertility journey and the adoption journey one of the truths that I have learned is that in the grand scheme of things I have no control.  I have no “real” say in my life.  yes I make decisions about what I am going to wear, what I am going to eat, what I am going to do, but this journey has opened my eyes that I can’t control everything, despite my best effort I just can’t.  I can make lists to control the happenings in my life (and the organization of my home), but in reality I don’t have control – just an illusion of control that I cling to with every breath.  if I had control I would have said “listen ovaries – you have one job – it is time to do it” and it would have worked.  if I had control I would have looked at my doctor and said “you have no option but to make this procedure succeed.”  but I don’t have control and I am learning – still – that there is nothing that I could have done differently or additionally to change the course of our journey.

this is where I feel like I should say “in reality we don’t have any control because God should be in control of our lives.”  whereas, yes I agree God should be the center of our lives and our decision making, this isn’t that type of post.

as stated in my last post we have been officially waiting for a year.  we have been passed over numerous times – for an entire year.  with that type of response or in this case lack there of,  I can’t help but think.  that thinking often leads me down a dark and narrow road full of doubt and sadness and longing.

a road that causes my imagination to run wild with “what ifs” and “what is.”

what if we are never placed?  what if I never get to be a mom and andy a dad?  what if I have robbed family of having the experience of us as parents?  what if andy will really one day regret not taking the “out” when he could?  what if he starts to resent me?  what if my life never feels complete?  what if that longing and desire never goes away?  what if I never get to experience all the things that fuel my fears?  what if I sink into misery and allow me not being a mother to destroy my soul?  what is so wrong with us that we haven’t been placed?  what is it that caused people to skip over our profiles?  what is the big picture and can I survive not having the control to understand right now?  what is the reason God gave me this desire to be a mother and paired that with bad ovaries?  what is the point – is there a point?  is this some sort of punishment from above?

that dark road is sometimes dotted with street lamps – glimpses of hope, answers, or things that get me back to the sunshine.  talking with other people that are waiting to be placed and hearing that they have the same fears – that I am truly not alone in some of those thoughts.  when andy tells me that he loves me and doesn’t resent me despite all the reasons that I have given him to feel the other way.  when I know someone looks at our profile and passes us by because they want a family that already has a child.  a beautiful sunset or sunrise over the mountains.  street lamps that brighten up my mind.

but sometimes the things on my road aren’t street lamps, but rather lanterns.  a little light that shines bright enough to tide me over.  not nearly as bright as the lamps, but still light enough to get me through.

these things usually show up right before I have a breakdown full of complete and total doubt and tears.  when I feel like I have come to the end of my road.  when i start to question why we are doing what we are doing.  when I am grasping at straws.  desperation for that normalcy and control.

desperation: a state of despair, typically one that results in rash or extreme behavior

synonyms: hopelessness, anguish, agony, distress

usually my desperation manifests in lists.  lots and lots of lists.  I clean things and organize things.  I constantly am trying to reorganize and make better.  trying to drown my thoughts with lists so that I can’t do anything but focus on what is in front of my face.  I write, take pictures, and create new projects around the house to occupy my mind.  it helps.  in the process of focusing on anything else, those doubts and sadness ebb away.  that longing is still there, but without the doubt it just turns back into “just waiting.”

once I realized that we had been waiting a year and that we had to update a bunch of our paperwork I started to feel overwhelmed and to be honest – sad and a little (ok a lot) mad.

**side “semi relevant” note**

there are times where I start to wonder if God is “doing” this to us because he thinks I would be a terrible mother.  or that other people think I would be a terrible mother so God is like “i agree.”  there was this time that I was with a group of people (and a young baby just a few months old) and everyone, except me, was being called away for just a moment.  the parents were trying to decide who would miss out and stay to give the baby the bottle.  I offered since I was not leaving and both of the parents looked at me like I was crazy.  like if God didn’t trust me with a baby, they weren’t going to either.  the parents exchanged looks and did let me feed their baby the bottle, but their looks and doubts just fueled that thought process.  it is possible that I was over sensitive to the situation and that I misread the looks and the hesitation, but in the moment those looks emphasized that God thought I would be a terrible mother and everyone agreed.

**end semi relevant side note**

so in my sad and a lot mad state I found myself thinking back to those events, of possibly not being trusted to give a baby a bottle, and to the thought process that God thinks  I would be a terrible mother.  my thoughts are fueled by fear of the unknown and once it takes root desperation sets in.  hopelessness overcomes rational thought and where my behavior isn’t always rash or extreme my thoughts tend to become that way.  I found myself on my dark narrow road, running.  running into the darkness looking for a street lamp to ease off the desperation.  I found a lantern.

at dinner saturday night dad told me that he was going back to the farm.  there was a calf down and he was going to have to bottle feed it.  I had been a hermit in my house working on various projects and told him I would be glad to go with him.  andy ended up getting home before we left to go to the farm and he joined in with us.  we loaded up our gear and headed into the muddy abyss.  the calf had gotten stuck in the mud and was weak but drank the bottle (and a little more).  dad made sure that it was in a nice bed of hay and warm and we left.

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sunday after church, dad, mom, and I gathered our gear and went back to check on the little calf.  as we drove up he was stretched out and his head was semi back  I leaned forward and said – “doesn’t look like good news,”  dad agreed.  as we got a tad closer he blinked.  I was ecstatic – he was alive.  we gave him another bottle and repositioned him to be more comfortable and in more warm hay.  dad decided that the little guy needed to be moved to the barn.  later sunday gene (live in farm hand/manager) was able to take the tractor and get the little calf to the barn; however, his mother was no longer interested in following her baby or the tractor to the barn.  it was left to us humans to nurse him back to health.  after youth on sunday andy and I headed to the farm to check on the little guy.  he was in the stall with his legs tucked under him and he was dry and warm in his bed of hay.  I sat on a bucket and fed him his bottle and he was my little “mud pie.”  cows normally moo but a little cow with pneumonia purrs like a little kitten.  he was given several shots to make him feel better.  I rubbed his fluffy little head and ears and told him that I loved him.  I put my hand under his chin and lifted his head up and made eye contact with him and told him to have a good night and that I would see him Monday.  dad sent me a message Monday morning that he drank his bottle and that he wanted to stand up but was still too weak.  he was still purring a little bit too.

I told andy that mud pie had to live.  he became my desperation.  I didn’t have a list this time, I had mud pie.  he had to live.  he was my way of proving to God and to the rest of the world that I can take care of a living thing.  that I could give a bottle and love.  that I could be passionate and that I could be the role of a mother.

Monday night after work I went to the farm and got there before my dad got back.  I went into the stall and mud pie was in a weird sling that dad and gene strung up to help insure that his legs were getting blood flow.  I grabbed my bucket and sat down in front of him and rubbed his head and said hello.  when I was rubbing his neck he leaned into my hand like a dog would do.  I told him about my day and he listened – he is after all a cow that couldn’t go anywhere even if he wanted to.  I noticed he wasn’t purring as much and was tap dancing with his front legs.  I informed him that he had to get better.  he had to at least try.  he mooed at me.  it was a moo filled with passion and anger and rebellion.  a moo that told me that he was a fighter.  after that I talked to him about my desperation and I rubbed his ears and he semi mooed in understanding.  dad showed up and we gave him his bottle and he drank most of it, but it was too early to let him out of the sling.  so we came back a few hours later and freed him and propped him up in his bed of hay.  I told him good night and we turned the light off bathing the stall in darkness.  my Tuesday morning update was about the same as the morning before.  Tuesday after work we went to check on him and dad said that he had been in his sling but was out for the night.  I walked into the stall and found little mud pie snuggled in his hay.  he tried to stand.  I tucked his feet under him and held his head up and talked to him while he drank his bottle.  we made eye contact and I told him how much I loved him and what a good and handsome boy he was.  we had to go to a meeting and I knew we wouldn’t be back Tuesday night so right before we left I went in and rubbed his head, told him good night and sweet dreams and walked away from my little mud pie.

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Wednesday morning I got my morning update.  the subject of the e mail was mud pie.  I opened my e mail and read “I am sorry!  We tried.”

devastation: severe and overwhelming shock or grief

I sat facing my computer and silent tears escaped the rims of my eyes rolled down my face.  I reminded myself to breathe and stared at the words.  mud pie was gone.  my lantern burned out.  my desperation morphed into devastation.  I was devastated that he was gone and that my attempts failed.  I couldn’t even do right by a cow.  I couldn’t save him.  my thoughts quickly went down the road that maybe God is right, maybe I am not fit to be a mother.

Wednesday night, with those thoughts circling in my head, I curled up in bed and cried.  my eyes filled with tears that rolled down my face and puddled on my pillow, followed by choking sobs.  a soul drenching cry.

I woke up Thursday morning with a throbbing headache – remnant of my tears from the night before.  as we drove to work I watched the clouds play on the tops of the mountains and with no other rational thought – other than it made me smile, I had found my street lamp and was finding my way back to the main road.

it was during this time of desperation that I realized a few things.  one is that I have no control.  I can cling to the illusion as much as I want, but it will always just be an illusion I create for my peace of mind.  another is that this process, from start until present, is just a constant ride of ups and downs: the waiting, the emotions of being rejected, the unknown, the way a person will walk by with a stroller and my heart almost leaps out of my chest, the looks of pity from other people, the hope that we will be the family that we always envisioned.  something that is difficult to explain and difficult for people to understand is that sometimes there are no words to make me feel better about this stressful time of just waiting and of the unknown.  that sometimes even the most rational comments and insight will not sound rational to me.  this time, my little mud pie, taught me that in my times of desperation, stick to the lists.

benched

growing up i was a bit of a tom boy.  i played outside a lot – my summers were spent playing in the creek or the woods behind our house.  we spent hours rolling around in the grass and playing hide and seek.  there were games of whiffle ball and kick ball.  i enjoyed it.  one year in P.E. i was the first to climb the rope and ring the bell.  but i hated running on command.  it was selective athleticism, at least i think it was.

in middle school i tried out for soccer and did great in the scrimmage game to test our skills and i didn’t mind running during the game or practice (as long as the ball was involved), but after we did that, the coach looked at us and said ok start running laps.  i laughed.  i quit.  i guess i wasn’t disciplined enough to care about running laps.  i didn’t see that as something to make me better at the game ( i get it, but not for me).  that ended my school sports team tryouts – did you know that you have to run laps with every sport?

in high school they implemented the mile run rule – finish under 16 minutes or fail.  one of the teachers told us it was because the first mile run of the year, a group of us walked it and took our sweet time because we were talking and laughing.  to encourage us to care more and talk less they made the rule.  we still talked but walked a tad faster and we all passed.

also i wasn’t always the most coordinated person.  in middle school during the football rotation i didn’t catch the football, but rather allowed it to bounce off my middle finger and bend it backwards.  i cried.  the teacher let me walk laps the rest of the football rotation because anytime the ball came my way i moved out of the way.  it hurt me once before – i learned my lesson, so i moved.  the teacher decided i would get more from walking laps and would be less of a tripping hazard for the other people actually playing football.

in high school during the hockey rotation, someone hit the “puck” under my feet and i fell.  bruised my backside and ego.  tripped and messed up my knee during the flag football rotation.  i got hit in the face with a ball during the ping pong rotation.  went under the hurdles during track – those things are scary.  i found excuses to sit out and just read, study, or talk to my friends.  i was fine not playing.  i was fine riding the bench.

also when i was in high school our church decided to have a co-ed softball team.  they asked me to play because we had a lack of females.  i told them i would come to practices and show up to the games so they didn’t have to forfeit (they had to have so many females present to play).  my only rule was that i wanted a position that i didn’t have to do anything.  they put me in right field.  i wore the uniform and the glove (usually on my head or on the ground at my feet).  i was safe most of the time, but there were a few people that could aim the ball – and they did right for me.  this softball team was before andy and i started dating and he played center field which also meant that when those people aimed the ball towards me he also played right field.  i knew enough to get out of the way and watch him play.  it was a great chance to flirt, because he was my hero (swoon).  once a ground ball came my way and i had the thought that i could handle that…as i bent down with my glove the ball hit a hole in the field and popped up and almost got me in the face. so it was determined that ground balls weren’t safe either.  i would bat – most of the time they told me to just stand there.  in all of our games i remember actually hitting the ball 4 times and i made it to first 1 time.  the other 3 i hit it right back to the pitcher and got out.

(two photos i will share only because it proves my point)

softball doing absolutely nothing and the second a football game (i don’t know why i was clapping – yay football maybe?  i don’t know…)

i was in elementary school and there was an allison b (with two L’s), an alicia, and myself (alison g).  we all looked similar and people would mix us up.  i remember one time when we were playing kickball at recess: there were two captains and with the first pick they said alison.  i was startled and started to walk forward and the kid laughed and was like not you, allison b.  i have a ton of memories watching them play kickball while i sat with other friends making flower necklaces (out of the white flower weeds), shooting the tops of other weeds at each other, and trying to whistle using an acorn lid or grass.

i make the above statements to say this.  i went to school with most of the same people from k-12th grade.  when it was time to pick teams – i wasn’t usually first.  i was usually picked towards the end.  if there was an odd number of people i got benched. there was no shame in being looked over when the teams were picked.  there was no shame in not getting picked.  there was no shame in being benched.  when it came to athletics i knew my place.

years later and i am not dealing with athletics but this adoption process.  i have mentioned that it is a weird process and i never thought that the adoption process would conjure up so many memories of me sitting on the bench all those years ago.  i never would have imagined that i would be walking to my mailbox, thinking about the adoption, and get a whiff of cut grass and honeysuckle and be transported back to that grassy hill in elementary school watching my classmates play kickball.  or be at work and hit my shin on the desk drawer and be taken back to a time of clumsiness and avoidance.  i have gone down memory lane of all the times i was looked over and not chosen.

we are up for a home study update.  which means that we have been officially waiting for a year.  since a year has come and gone we have to update certain forms and have another home visit.  since we have gotten to this time of officially waiting for a year i have been met with a lot of mixed emotion.  first, still very excited to see what is in store for us this year.  nervous about what will happen this next year and of the unknown.  sad that it has been a year already and we are still waiting.  our waiting feels a lot like being benched.

we do not get a call whenever someone looks at our profile, but sometimes i ask our case worker if anyone has viewed it.  she doesn’t give me specific numbers, but we communicate about it.  i will ask her how maybe birth mothers are about to pick and she gives me the numbers.  i know one time i asked and she did tell me that someone was looking at our profile in the next few days and so i held my breath for an entire week.  each time my phone rang i prayed it was the agency.  each time my e mail beeped, i hoped that it was an email to make my dreams come true.  but a week came and went and i couldn’t handle not knowing anymore.  i sent an email and asked if she made her decision and our case worker stated she had – that the mother wanted a family that already had siblings (adopted ones to be specific) because she grew up in a large family and wanted her child to have siblings that were adopted too, to have that in common.  i was sad, but i  understood.  we have met several people in our waiting families meetings and we know that several have been placed.  we also got an end of the year newsletter with statistics of how many people had been placed in our area for the entire year that we have been officially waiting.  the way i figure is we have been passed over 32 times (plus or minus some).

i find myself as an adult, years beyond my schooling days, and still i am being benched.  it isn’t like before where i was still part of the team, just not in the game.  it is like i am sitting on the bench watching people rush by to new adventures in their lives.  we updated our paperwork and are waiting for the home visit.  once that is completed we will still be officially waiting, hoping, praying, and dreaming that our time will come.  waiting is hard.  so while the world rushes around us and people continue on with their lives, we sit, back against the wall, my head on andy’s shoulder, fingers intertwined, benched.

catching up on 2015 adventures

we had snow again.  it was cold but beautiful!

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a lot of our kids were in the musical at the school – Oklahoma.  it was really cute and we have really talented youth!

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my grandmother got the presidents away at the college.  so we got to play hide and seek with her.  except we were hiding and she didn’t know.  we avoided her until the award was presented to her.

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jay and julian came stopped on their way through town.  (andy got a chest slap for old times sake)

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the silipigni’s came to visit.

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mom’s cats ashes and UT (the orange one) were cute like normal (they are getting older, but still just as fat and sweet as ever).

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we have been to chorus concerts, shopping trips, date nights and so much more that wasn’t captured with our cameras.

now that I am getting organized with my photos and thoughts I can say that hopefully this will be the last “catch up” post.  my goal is to keep it caught up (but I have said that before I know).

something I don’t have photos of that I am thrilled about and so very proud of is that andy has decided to go back to school.  that means that he is traveling on most weekends, but we will survive the next few years.  I have been able to catch up on reading and sewing so it has been ok – for now.  I am looking forward to his graduation gift – which I am already mentally planning – a cruise!  i really am so proud of him.

ruined birthday plans

my birthday was on a Saturday this year.  we had huge plans to work on our to-do list and get our house in order.  when we woke up that morning we decided to heck with that.  we went to the zoo.  we love the knoxville zoo.  it isn’t a huge zoo and it is currently being renovated in some areas, but it is a wonderful place.  it was a hot day, so a lot of the animals were just lazy.

prairie dog

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hogs (2 babies)

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elephants (they were the most active we have ever seen them.  one of them got in the water and was taking a bath)

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giraffe (we didn’t get to feed them this time)

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baboons

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lions

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elephants again (construction makes you walk by them again – this was the one taking a bath)

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red pandas

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birds (to look at the beaver there is a section closed in and these birds fly all around you.  very traumatic when they dive at your head).

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beaver

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turkey (told you it was hot.  it was standing in front of the fan).

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i got home that night and looked at my to-do list and realized that i didn’t cross anything off my list.  my birthday plans were ruined.  thank goodness!