Friday, July 22, 2016

Interview With a Ten Year Old

1. What is your favorite T.V. Show? Bonanza. (He's a funny kid.)
2. What did you have for breakfast? Raisin Bran
3. What is your middle name? John (Back when he was a toddler this was a funny question. Now that he's ten and his middle name doesn't change, it's kind of ridiculous.)
4. Favorite Food? Snow crab (Same as last year)
5. What food do you dislike? Avocado (Same as last year)
6. What is your favorite color? Brown and black. (Some things never change)
7. Favorite lunch? Top Ramen (Oh child, I'm ratted out forever. It's organic ramen made from vegetable noodles. With no added garbage or sodium. I'm lying. It's absolutely Maruchan. Which, by the way, is so much better than Nissan. I should know. I EAT IT TOO! #shamoftheperfect)
8. What is your favorite thing to do? Go deep sea fishing. (He's done it once. Apparently it made a BIG impression.)
9. If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation, where would it be? Uh...probably to Israel again.
10. Favorite sport? Football
11. When is your birthday? The 20th of July.
12. Are you a morning person or a night person? MORNING!
13. Pets? Two. Dog. Cat.
14. Any new and exciting news you'd like to share with us? I've got a new brother.
15. What do you want to be when you grow up? A Guy That Jumps Out of Helicopters in the Coast Guard. (See! I told you!)
16. What is your favorite candy? Him: Is ice cream a candy? Me: No. Him: Then probably a milk shake. Me: That's ice cream. Him: Oh. Then chocolate.
17. Where is the farthest place you've ever been from home? Israel
18. What is your favorite book? The Land of Stories series
19. What are you most proud of? Him: Being born. Me: BEING BORN? Him: Yeah. That's all I can think of. It's a pretty big accomplishment.
20. What is your favorite movie? The Hobbit Battle of the Five Armies.
21. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? The chicken.

And, for fun, I asked him the same questions that James Lipton asks at the end of Inside the Actor's Studio.

1. What is your favorite word? Probably supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. I say that word a lot. (Um. Alrighty.)
2. What is your least favorite word? The "F" word.
3. What turns you on? (I rephrased with, "What do you like?") Surfing
4. What turns you off? (I rephrased with, "What don't you like?") Getting hurt.
5. What sound or noise do you love? Bang! I like big bang type noises.
6. What sound or noise do you hate? Styrofoam creaking.(Same answer, four years running.)
7. What is your favorite curse word? Crap. I would say that all the time if I could.
8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Pastor
9. What profession would you not like to do? Cleaning out porta potties.
10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? (I omitted the "If Heaven exists" part)? Welcome.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

A Decade Old

Son One,

I can vividly remember splashing around in the spa one night after swim practice. I was 9. My friend was about to turn 10 and that seemed so old to me. Double digits. I remember thinking that once I was double digits, I'd never be anything else. Even then, I didn't have the highest of hopes that I'd live to see 100. I couldn't wait to be 10. It seemed so monumental. Somehow, I'm now speeding toward 35 and I have a son who is bidding farewell to those single digits. I think I'd have a panic attack if I didn't also have a six week old. But then, I think about the fact that when he is 10, you'll be in college.

My goodness, life goes fast.

I love you so much. I love the boy you are and the man you are becoming. You're a gentleman, a sweetheart, and a daredevil. You're funny and kind and polite. You love God, your family, sports, scouting, and the idea of traveling to far away places.

This year you played flag football, baseball, and ran track. You had a blast doing them all but you really got into baseball. It was your first year without the pitching machine so there was a huge learning curve. You improved and really enjoyed playing second base. In track, you set a new personal record in the 1600m. (7.21.02) And you had fun learning the plays in football and even scored some touchdowns!

In school you did very well. Your report cards were great and you were never in any trouble. The 3rd grade put on a program and I was so proud of how hard you worked. You were very upset that you didn't get a speaking part but you put so much time into practicing the songs and you did such a fantastic job. As Stanislavski said, "There are no small parts, only small actors." This year you really found a love for reading. You've always been a very good reader--and well ahead of grade level--but you didn't really enjoy silent reading on your own. One of the series you discovered is the The Land of Stories by Chris Colfer. You cannot put them down. They exceed 400 pages and you read the last one in just a couple of days. I'm so excited for where this love will lead you.

One book you claim to want to read is War and Peace. Your mind is a steel trap for historical facts. You know so much about wars--especially the Civil War--, tanks, battles, etc, etc, etc. You still say that you want to go into the Coast Guard and, with your military mind, I wouldn't doubt it. Among your favorite things are historical documentaries. Son, this is not from me. This is all your father.

What is from me is your developing love for theatre. This year, we got to go see the Newsies together and you really enjoyed it. You like to sing along to my Broadway cast albums and, recently, like the rest of the country, you've become obsessed with Hamilton. You've begged me to take you to see it and, kid, if anyone could get tickets, maybe I'd consider taking you. Until then, you'll just have to sing along with the cast.

What you don't get from either of us is your daredevlish nature. For your birthday, you're going to the pool because you're finally old enough to jump off the platforms. Of course, you've already jumped off the two lower platforms because I said you could as long as you didn't lie about your age. Since no one asked how old you were, I said, "Go for it!" on account of the fact that you'd jumped from higher places in Hawaii when you were five. Also, you've been water safe since you were three so I totally trust your swimming ability. But, you have yet to plummet from the highest platform, the 10 meter high dive. You have been talking about this for years and, today, you are going to attempt to leap off. My money's on you and your rock solid nerves. I guess this will be your first test in training for your future job as a Guy Who Jumps Out of Helicopters in the Coast Guard. Raising you is not for the faint of heart, Son.

I don't know why I was blessed with the opportunity to raise you. I know that I waited a long while and God gave me a really good one. You were so worth the wait. Your spunk, your heart of gold, the twinkle in your eye, and your infectious laugh are all mine to cherish. One thing I am clinging to is our cuddle time at night. I thought this would go away by the time you were 5 or 6. At 9, I was surprised that you still wanted me to climb into your bed each night to lay with you. Recently, you've been opting to put yourself to bed so that you can read more words. You have been asking less and less for me to crawl onto your top bunk to snuggle with you. When you do request it, there is a palpable shift. You wrap your arms around me, instead of the other way around. I'm starting to feel very I'll Love You Forever about our relationship.

I'm proud of you, Kid. I love watching you learn and grow. You're a terrific big brother--especially to Will. Seeing him in your arms melts my heart every time. But then again, you've been turning me to butter for an entire decade. Thanks for being mine. Thanks for making me laugh and smile and love fierce. You'll always be my guy.


Saturday, July 16, 2016

Kid 1, 2, 3

The difference between a first, second, and third time mom of a newborn is appalling. And I wasn't anything close to a stereotypical first time mom. But this poor kid. I guess we'll just have to wait and see how he turns out...

Kid 1: I will record your every milestone in this well kept baby book the moment it happens. First smile? Check. First steps? Check.

Kid 2: I will have every intention of recording your every milestone in this baby book but will, in fact, fail to record anything beyond the first few months. First smile? Check. First steps? Thank goodness it was Christmas Eve and they're recorded in my memory.

Kid 3: I should probably think about getting a baby book. First smile? Eh. It's too hard to tell the first real smile from the reflex smiles anyway. Let's just say, "Hooray! You couldn't smile and then...YOU COULD!" First steps? I totally have time to buy a baby book before that happens...

Kid 1: I am doing everything in my own power to get you sleeping through the night. After all, every mom knows that a well rested baby is a well adjusted baby. Nine weeks! BOOM!

Kid 2: We've got this sleeping through the night record in the bag! We're going to implement Kid 1 strategies AND IMPROVE ON THEM. It's an art form. I will reign supreme. Eight weeks! MIC DROP! Maybe I'll write a book outlining the important points of my technique.

Kid 3: I mean, as long as you're sleeping through the night by the time you go to kindergarten you'll be fine, right? You're certainly well off Bassham Family Record pace. No big deal.

Kid 1: I've created this quiet and peaceful environment where we snuggle together on the couch all afternoon. My single objective in life is to keep you alive. I will strive to do this in a peaceful and quiet environment that is both peaceful and quiet.

Kid 2: "Someone get the toddler before he kills himself! Wait! I'm the only adult here! Sorry, Baby, take a spin in your swing, your brother's about to scale the entertainment unit and leap off in an attempt to disprove gravity! Oh, you fell asleep. Enjoy your nap which you will take for approximately ten minutes before your two and a half year old brother wakes you up by running through the house screaming something about a goldfish cracker emergency."

Kid 3: You have a pack and play and a crib and a swing and a bouncer but there are too many hands in this house and you never get put down. When you do, it's for five minutes before the almost ten year old, seven year old, and all the neighbor boys come tearing through the house howling something about how the Battle of All Epic Ages is afoot. You wake up, scream, and display a bewildered look that says, "What the heck am I doing on my back? This is not okay. Where are all the people who hold me? Chop chop. Somebody pick me up before I realize I'm not royalty."

Kid 1: The yellow line on the newborn diaper has a dot of blue. Bust out a new one. This little love cannot be expected to float in his own waste.

Kid 2: The yellow line on the newborn diaper is half blue. Eh. He's okay. He's got another half a diaper to go.

Kid 3: The yellow line on the newborn diaper has darkened to a sort of blue/black color*. But, like, how squishy is it? I mean, it's probably not at max capacity yet.

Kid 1: Praise and worship. Exclusively. For the first year. Then mix in some educational juvenile songs.

Kid 2: Obnoxious kiddie songs the toddler requested. Ah well, he's learning about how wheels on buses go 'round and 'round.

Kid 3: Broadway show tunes haven't killed the older two. "I am not throwin' away my shot. I am not throwin' away my shot. You know I'm just like my country. I'm young, scrappy, and hungry and I'm not throwin' away my shot..."

Kid 1: Well, I have a newborn so I'm not sure I can commit to that...

Kid 2: I have a newborn and a toddler so it might take me a couple days to get to it...

Kid 3: What do you need me to do? I'll be right there.

Kid 1: Your pacifier fell on the ground. Ten second rule. (Like I said, I wasn't your typical first time mom.)

Kid 2: Your pacifier fell on the ground. Twenty second rule.

Kid 3: Your pacifier fell on the ground in the middle of the NICU and I picked it up and put it back in your mouth without even thinking about how there were nurses and social workers and adoption coordinators watching me and maybe that could have been a deal breaker.

To all my boys: I love you each more than life itself and I dedicate all that I am to raising you right. Each of your stories will be different because you are unique and because your birth order is unique. But I'm trying my hardest to keep you all alive and to show you that raising you is my joy and my passion. Kid 1, Kid 2, and Kid 3, you are my whole world--germy pacifiers and all.

*Please know I'm kidding. About the black in color part. Not about the squishy diaper part. Because that part is totally true.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Just a Quick Update

Just a quick update:

Somehow, Will is six weeks old already. And Garrett is five days shy of ten. Matthew is dancing around in the middle, coming up on almost seven and a half. You blink and they're all grown up. 

Will can already roll from his tummy to his back and does it consistently. Granted, his arms have to be just right but, if they're tucked under him, fo'get about it. He also weighs 8 lbs now so, you know, he's like the size of an average newborn.

We're sleep deprived but I'm trying to be so much better about that than I was with the big boys. With them it was like, I knew intellectually that one day they'd sleep but I was in the trenches of early motherhood and it felt hard to believe. They're so big now that I absolutely know it to be true.

They just don't look like this forever, is the thing.

This kid is spoiled and adored by his big brothers. They are both so good with him. Matthew is just thriving with another adopted person under the same roof. He's always eager to help--except with the throwing away of diapers.

When they hold him, I'm undone. There are so many answers to prayer living and breathing in this home. I'm so glad the three of them are mine.

Monday, July 4, 2016

The Big Boys Meet Their Baby

We decided to surprise the boys with my return. Since we didn't land until midnight, our friend, Christy, stayed with the boys while Troy came to pick us up. They slept right through until morning. Troy and I went to bed after 2:00 am and were up once with Will. Knowing that we'd be exhausted in the morning, Troy put a note on our door that said to knock before entering. Their knock, at about 7:15 am, woke us up from a sound sleep.

And that little fact is the only excuse I have for the following video. I look and sound like it was me who gave birth to this child. And I look like I had given said birth only moments before. In my bed. I do not look like an adoptive mom who has been parenting a newborn for a solid four nights.

Also, Garrett's lack of enthusiasm is hereditary. It comes from me. I neither hoot nor holler in joy. I am nearly incapable of showing emotion if anyone--especially a camera--is watching. But, like mine does, you can see his excitement build throughout the course of the video. It's also so precious to my soul the way he comes over and hugs me. It was as though he missed me so much, he just needed to sneak a hug in before he could process meeting his brother.

Matthew stayed home from school that day. Garrett chose to go in for a couple of hours but, for the most part, we spent the 10th hanging together as a family. They amaze me as big brothers. They are attentive and adorable. I always wanted my kids close together. I did not want an age gap.

But there is something so beautiful about the years between my big boys and their baby.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

The God of Miracles

Our attorney told me not to leave the hospital without the medical records.

This is why, when Will was being discharged from the hospital, I asked for his medical records approximately 500,000 times. Everyone kept looking at each other with blank stares, referring me to someone else or telling me where in the hospital to go to find these elusive records. Eventually, we were given an address to a building off site. I was assured by everyone that this was the place to go. It was agreed by everyone that his records wouldn't be there until the next day. I was told by anyone who was anyone to me at the hospital that day to call to get them the next day.

And that is why I left the hospital without Will's medical records. I just assumed that because I was taking with me a WAY to get the records, I was good. Especially because nurses and social workers and everyone involved agreed that that was my best course of action.

You know what happens when you assume.

The next morning, as soon as they were open, I called the records office. It was explained to me that I needed to send a written request and then it would definitely be the next day before I could have access to them. That would put me at Thursday for our ICPC to be completed, Friday (if I was really lucky) to clear California and sometime the next week we'd clear Utah and be able to bring Will home. The woman I spoke to mentioned something about getting them in person if I drove up there.

I hung up and spent the rest of the morning signing documents, scanning documents, sending emails, reading emails. Eventually I realized that, by lunchtime that day, we were only going to be waiting on the medical records. I'd worked my tired tail off. My mom had held my baby ALL morning so that I could finish everything. We were good to go and our lawyer could deliver the finished ICPC the next day, if only we had those medical records.

I called Troy. I told him that I was going to call the records office and beg them to expedite Will's records and get them to me that day. I asked him to pray that I would get a sympathetic ear on the other end of the phone. He told me that if I could drive up that afternoon and get them, to go for it.

I called back around 11:00. I explained the situation and that I'd been told that they would be ready the next day via email. I said that I knew I could pick them up in person but it was a two hour drive and was there any way that I might be able to get them emailed to me that day? Pretty please. (With a cherry and whipped cream and sprinkles and all kinds of good stuff on top?)

The woman on the phone sounded baffled. She wanted to know who I'd talked to. I couldn't remember the woman's name which was probably good for that woman because, apparently, I'd been told completely wrong. It would, in fact, take five to seven business days from the time they received my request and there was no possible way I could pick them up in person. FIVE TO SEVEN BUSINESS DAYS PLUS TIME TO PROCESS PAPERWORK IN CALIFORNIA AND UTAH MIGHT AS WELL HAVE PUT WILL AT HIS 12th BIRTHDAY BEFORE HE EVER MET HIS FAMILY.

(I'm prone to exaggeration.)

I am a by the book, letter of the law, just the facts, ma'am, kind of of individual. I'm not a rule breaker or a rule bender. The usual me would have said, "Thank you for your time. Please get those to me as soon as you can." and then I would have hunkered down at my parents' house for an extra week. But something snapped in my brain. I think it was the part of my brain that controls my heart. My heart couldn't handle being away from my big boys for that long. Or from Will's daddy. I started to cry.

I realized that I was desperate to get home to them. So desperate that I was willing to beg, plead and sob over it. I'm equal parts humiliated and impressed. "This is the absolute last piece I am waiting on," I cried. "My husband and children are in Utah and I am here with our new baby and these records are the only thing I am waiting for. Please. Is there anything you can do?"

She put me on hold.

I prayed that she would be able to help me. Several minutes later she came back on the phone and told me that they would be in my email by 5:00 that night. THAT WOULD MEAN THAT OUR ICPC WOULD BE DELIVERED THE NEXT DAY (WEDNESDAY) AND THERE WAS A SLIGHT POSSIBILITY IT WOULD CLEAR BOTH STATES BEFORE THE WEEKEND! I was now celebrating in hopeful anticipation of flying home on Saturday to see my family. She said, "God bless you. And God bless your baby."

"God bless YOU! Thank you so much!" I cried into the phone.

Those records were in my inbox before 1:00 pm.

Our entire adoption story is a miracle of God changing hearts. Even after Will was home with me, God changed hearts. He bent rules and expedited things that ordinarily wouldn't be expedited.

I picked Will up on June 6. Our ICPC was completed on June 7 and hand delivered on June 8. California has a reputation (at least in Utah) for taking a long time to clear. It cleared that same day. We cleared Utah on Thursday, June 9. I received a verbal okay from Utah around lunch time and I booked a flight home.

That night, we landed at midnight...

God is good.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Showing Will to My Boys

I brought Will home from the hospital to my parents' house in the San Diego area. The thing about adopting from another state is that you have to do a bunch of legal paperwork and the one state has to say, "Yep. It's alright with us if you take that kid outta here," and the other state has to say, "Sure thing. Go right ahead and bring that baby in." It took ten days for Matthew's clearance to go through. But our family was altogether so it really didn't matter a great big deal.

With Will though, I was desperate to get him home to his daddy and his big brothers. 

That night, Troy took the boys to their baseball tournament. My heart wanted to be with them so badly, to see them play their little hearts out in their games. But I was over the moon to be holding my newest little short stop (or lacrosse player or cooking whiz or cellist). My brother and sister in law came bearing gifts, namely, formula and a bouncer and some clothes--among other things. My mother-in-law came over to see her 12th grandchild (11th living). My dad got home from work and got to meet his newest grandson. 

It was almost 9:00 by the time the boys got home and I finally got to Skype with them.

Of course, I'd already updated Troy on all that was going on but the boys were in for a pretty big surprise. Will made a squeak almost immediately. One of the boys asked if it was Hannah (my niece). "Oh. Um. Yeah, Hannah's here," I told them and moved my tablet so they could see her. This ended up being a bit of a problem because, a few moments later, when I showed them Will, they were confused.

It was late.

They were tired.

We were Skyping.

All these things led to confusion. And they somehow thought that Will was Hannah. Even though I'd just shown them Hannah. And even though Hannah was nine months old. And even though Hannah is decidedly a girl.

Once we cleared everything up and explained that I was holding their new brother, Matthew did a happy dance in the middle of the kitchen floor. Garrett just sat quietly. He would later write in his school autobiography that he was, "in happy shock."

After I said goodbye to my kids and wished my husband Happy Birthday again, I realized how exhausted I was. I'd slept less than four hours the night before and had an incredibly exciting/emotional/crazy day. I knew that the next morning would be filled with paperwork on my end. Scanning documents. Providing signatures. Phone calls and emails to lawyers and the hospital. Reviewing documents. I couldn't wait to introduce Will to people but I knew all that paperwork had to come first or I'd never get home to the three people who were the most eager to meet him. I announced our boy on social media and then I pretty much died of exhaustion. Until my newborn alarm went off a few hours later.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Hey Kid: Eight

June 20 (Part Two)

Hey Kid,

On Saturday, when you were one day old but I didn't know it, I loaded up the van with everything I couldn't return. Every baby supply we'd been given. A swing. A bouncer. A baby bathtub. Toys. A swaddler. Dad spent the day turning the playroom turned Kate's room turned library turned your room into a game room. He installed a shelf in the closet and hooked up the boys video game system. I organized their games and pieces and moved the board games from the office into the new room. Your brothers loved it and, if we weren't going to be able to bring a baby home, we were happy to come up with something fun for the room. As Dad put the finishing touches on the room, I stared at the pictures I'd bought to hang on your wall, pictures of birds with the words Hope, Believe, Imagine, and Dream. "How did we end up here?" I wondered. I'd done all those things. I'd hoped, believed, imagined and dreamed and all I had left was a broken heart.

It wasn't that I didn't trust the Father, or that I was angry with what He'd decreed. I had actually reached a peace with the whole thing. I just knew I would always wonder where you were and how you were and what you were doing. I'd see you in every boy I passed on the street from now until forever. I struggled to process that piece of the baffling puzzle.

The next morning, on June 5, I transferred all the baby stuff that I'd loaded into the van into someone else's car--a woman at our church who is due in September. Save for a disassembled crib in our utility closet and a car seat and stroller that your Dad procrastinated on returning, we had no baby stuff left. We were done. This chapter of our lives had closed.

That afternoon, the boys were playing video games in their new game room. Dad and I were sitting on our bed together, talking about what the future would look like now. We were planning on going out for ice cream with our friends that night. At 3:56 pm, I received a text from our coordinator. You had been born on Friday. Your mom wanted us to come get you after all. I think I instantly started sobbing. I didn't know if it was real, if she was serious, if she would change her mind back, if I was dreaming.

I think I experienced every emotion known to man in a five minute span of time. I'd been ready for you for months. And then, suddenly, you were there and I wasn't ready for you. I had nothing here for you. I had only my own fear that it was all a dream I would wake up from.

The next 24 hours were insane, miraculous, terrifying, wonderful, emotional, heart wrenching, exhausting, and altogether quite impossible to describe. Your mom hadn't signed yet, so we decided that I would go alone. Dad would stay here with your brothers and we would hope for the best. We told them that I was going to "talk to a birth mom" and that "we'd see what happens" and we crossed our fingers and said a lot of prayers and I threw clothes into a suitcase. I tried not to get my hopes up. I knew the next day would pretty much be a coin toss. Would I end the day with three children or not? I tried not to fall in love with the idea of you all over again.

At 9:12 that night, I got this picture of you...

I suddenly couldn't believe I had to wait another minute to meet you and hold you. I loved you so much I wanted to get to California as fast as humanly possible. It was as though I had known you since always.

My flight left at 8:00 am on Monday morning. It was Dad's birthday. 

Grandma picked me up in San Diego and we drove to Riverside. With every turn of the wheels, I was closer to you. But so much was unknown. I wanted to hope but I was terrified. Denial seemed the easier choice. Or, in any case, the default setting. So much of me felt numb, a defense mechanism to use as a salve for the heart that had grieved long.

Your mom had been discharged the night before and the hospital you were born in didn't have a nursery, so you camped out in the NICU. As I entered the hospital, your mom was nearby, signing the paperwork to give you into my care. I scrubbed my hands and went in. You were so tiny--only 5 lbs 5 oz and 18.5 inches long--that when I picked you up it felt like the rest of you must have been in a different part of the NICU. It was as though I needed to find your pieces and assemble you. I held you and fed you and forgot to be numb and somewhere in the middle of that, I noticed our coordinator on the phone about 25 feet away.

My heart plummeted into my knees. What if she'd changed her mind again. What if I had held you and loved you and I was going to set you gently in your bassinet and walk away? Will, all you ever need to know is that if I had had to do that, a piece of my heart would have forever been with you and mine would never have beat the same way again. The coordinator hung up the phone and came toward me...

She was smiling.

Your mom signed.

Your dad signed.

They chose us for you.

We spent the next few hours saying painful goodbyes. Your mom and dad said goodbye. Your grandparents said goodbye, I promised them that, like your big brother, we would have open communication. We would celebrate your first family and they would never have to wonder where you were or what you were doing. Your life would not be a secret from them.

And then the hospital released you.

Into my home.

Into my heart.

For as long as I shall live.

It was, to be sure, the best birthday present your daddy has ever received. As we drove away, I sighed. There, in my mom's car, was the tiniest of bundles, a miracle so many eons in the making. And I would like to believe that your big sister was sitting on the knee of her Father as they watched the scene unfold. I would like to think that she smiled at Him, knowing, beyond the shadow of any doubt, that without first having her in my life, there never would have been you.

I don't know what the future holds. But I know that this family loves you huge. And I promise you, I will do my very best.

And they put you in my arms
And I realize in an instant
That I've known you all along
That I've wanted you forever
That I'll never do you wrong
And whatever this world comes to
And whatever comes our way
I will watch you, and protect you
I promise, kid, we'll be okay
We'll be okay
-If/Then Musical

I love you.


Saturday, June 25, 2016

Hey Kid: Seven

June 20

Hey Kid,

I never could have imagined so much time going by between letters. I never could have foreseen everything that would unfold between May 3 and June 6.

On May 25, your mom was scheduled to see a doctor. I was so hopeful that she would get an induction date so we would be able to prepare to travel to California to meet you. I waited, in excited anticipation, to hear something. She never checked in with the adoption coordinator that day. Our coordinator told me not to worry, It was normal for her to not check in, she was 100% committed to the adoption, and there were no red flags. Still, as that evening faded into night, I was sure. In those moments, I just knew she had changed her mind. And I began to grieve the loss of you. I had loved you for so long, I simply didn't know how a day would go by where I didn't think about you and wonder who you were and what you were becoming.

Thursday passed without word.

And then Friday.

I dreamed that you were gone from me forever. I woke up crying.

On Saturday, May 28, I took your brothers for a walk and it was then that I received confirmation. She had changed her mind. I was devastated. Your brothers knew nothing of what I was processing so I quietly reeled. I fought back the stinging tears. I praised God that He had placed it on our hearts not to tell them, so grateful that we were able to spare them shrapnel to the soul.

As that day continued, grief came and each stage fired through me. I landed--stuck in a swirling spiral of anger. I can't say who or what I was even angry with. Ultimately, I was just so furious that I had let myself hope. I had always said that I would never, ever fault a mother for choosing to parent. But that knowledge didn't stop the pain I felt from mourning another child gone or the anguish at knowing I'd lost both Kate and her brother.

That night I bagged up all the stuff I'd bought for you. Emotionally and financially, we were exhausted. I held your brothers a little tighter and decided that the past year and a half were just a lesson in being content with what I had. I told our coordinator we were finished. Adios. Farewell. Arrivederci. I asked for only one thing, a picture of you. I never got to see your sister's face. I was desperate to see yours.

On Tuesday, May 31, I spent the day returning clothes, sheets, and diapers. I fielded questions like, "Do you need a bigger size for your baby?" and, "Aren't you excited to have Gymboree store credit?" I cried alone in my car. It was miserable. I had loved you for so long. I had tried not to think of the future with you and had tried to guard my heart. It was still so hard to hand over all the things I thought you would wear, knowing that you would never actually be a part of this family.

The week dragged on. I cried and grieved and prayed and tried to move on. I thought about all the things I would get to do because I didn't have a newborn. Things like sleeping through the night. Everything I came up with was ridiculously superficial but I clung to them as a means to get me through each day. Silver linings, I called them. They weren't really silver linings but, in actuality, metallic paint slapped over a masterpiece I no longer had the privilege of looking at.

We told your brothers we were finished. It was time to stop waiting for a match. It was time to move on. They sobbed. Matthew clung to me in his bed, in the dark, and begged me to reconsider. "I'll do anything," he cried. "Please don't take our name out!"  I blurted that I'd take him to Disneyland instead. Please understand what a ridiculously awful consolation prize that was. Still, that was how I got the brothers to stop crying. Disneyland. "Am I tall enough to ride Indiana Jones?" the younger one asked through sorrowful hiccups. Don't take it personally. Someday you'll understand the pull that Disney has on a young boy.

On Friday, June 3, at 7:31 pm PST (8:31 Utah time), I chatted with friends at Dad's softball game. I remember the concrete bench beneath me and the sounds of your brothers' laughter. I remember the sun in my eyes as it set over the mountains. I remember that Dad's team lost, a lot to a little. I don't remember the details of your birth. I had no idea that, at that precise moment, in a hospital room in Riverside, CA, you had just come into the world...

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Hey Kid: Six

May 3

Hey Kid,

Will, I pray for you every time you are on my mind. It really kind of gives a whole new meaning to 1 Thessalonians 5:17. "...pray without ceasing." Because, little one, I think about you all the time. I'm trying to balance the fear, the excitement, and the contentment but it's really hard. I want to savor these moments that I have with your big brothers before you come screaming and kicking into the world. It's been just the four of us for seven years. That's a lot of years of falling into our patterns and our ways and you're going to be here before we know it. You're gonna mess/bless it all up. It's gonna be awesome.

I still worry every single day that your heart is going to beat its last before you ever get the opportunity to breathe. It sounds dramatic when I say that my arms are aching for you but it couldn't be a more realistic statement. I feel like I need you in my arms the way I need air. 

Six weeks. 8 million heartbeats. You're still 8 million heartbeats away. But every minute that passes by gets me one moment closer to you. I am longing to feel that heart beating under the weight of my own hand. Will, after the only time that I held your big sister, I wrote this about the experience: 

It was just my daughter and me. Suddenly I realized that my heart was thundering inside my chest as she rose and fell with my every breath. And when it pounded, for a moment, it was unclear whether it was hers or mine. 

My heart will beat for yours. You are safe in the arms of Jesus and so, here on earth, my heart will beat for both of us.

In that moment, mother's heart pounding while baby's holds still, I felt a peace wash over me. Suddenly I knew that I could grieve and dream, laugh and cry, stand still and run wild, all at the same time. I feel like God whispered into my soul that it is alright to hope. Good, even.

Will, you are that hope. I didn't know it then. I couldn't see the miraculous way God would orchestrate all of this. I couldn't see the way He would change my own desires. But here we are, wanting you as much as we've ever wanted anything.

When this card arrived in the mail, I couldn't get it opened fast enough. I didn't know what it would say or what would be inside, but I knew it was from your mama and I knew it held something of utmost importance.

Will, I think I knew, from the moment our facilitator told me you were alive more than five months ago, that whoever you were, whatever you were going to become, you were a part of this family. I tried to hold it all at a distance because of how scary it is. As though I would somehow be less devastated to lose you if I'd never held the idea of you close to my heart. But in all truthfulness, I considered you mine in those early minutes, pacing outside, listening and trying not to attach myself. Knowing, deep down, in a recess I couldn't even begin to explore, that in that one declaration of your existence, you were wound into and throughout my heart, occupying a place forever. In that instant, it was as though my heart knew. You're Kate's brother. You're already ours.

34 weeks of growing down, 6 weeks to go. I love you and I can't wait to feel your heart beating.


Monday, June 20, 2016

Hey Kid: Five

April 1

Hey Kid,

I have a spending problem. And, I mean, it's totally your fault. See, I've rediscovered a major discrepancy between baby boy clothes and baby girl clothes. Namely, baby girl clothes take up 75% of the floor while baby boy clothes are relegated to the corner and consist of trucks, dinosaurs and puppies. Don't get me wrong, you're totally going to wear some of the aforementioned, I just don't want you getting the idea that you can only be a trucker, a paleontologist or a veterinarian.You, my son, can be anything you want to be. So when I see something irrationally cute, something in a different career path than the above mentioned monopoly of three, I pick it up.  You, can be...a turtle farmer? can run a rehabilitation center for wounded foxes.

You can be a park ranger or trail guide or thrill seeker. (As long as your thrill of choice is unlikely to kill you because I'm not okay with that.)

You can be an animator (or you can keep me up at night being a complicated little dragon, whichever way you're interpreting this onesie is fine by me).

And you can definitely be the Little Brother.

You have outfits and sleepers and blankets and diapers and wipes and formula and bottles. See, like I said, I have a major spending problem. It's like I somehow think that the more I spend, the quicker you'll get here. It's ridiculous logic. In actuality what's happening is my bank account is shrinking as you're growing. But what am I supposed to do? Force you to go everywhere in just a diaper? Hardly.

You have your very own dot blanket.

This is important. Your oldest brother loved loves his all blue dot blanket so much that, years ago, we bought a backup because we were just sure we'd leave it in some hotel on a road trip and the world would end with his wailing. Matthew has a blue and white dot blanket that he loves (less than Garrett loves his but still) a lot. We'd bought Kate a pink dot blanket just before we found out that she'd gone straight to Heaven without having to first pass through earth. So I was adamant that you needed your very own dot blanket. I finally found this one. I did a happy dance in the store and I'm sure the person watching the security camera was very impressed with my jig.

We've got the lawyers and the social worker involved. We've done all of our background checks and, good news, we're not child abusers in this state or any other and neither of us has a record! You'll be in good hands, kiddo. We're meeting with our social worker soon to update our home study and then we'll be ready--legally. We're already ready in every other way.

Ten weeks. It still seems like forever. It's still more than 14 million fetal heartbeats. I still worry myself sick. I still find myself handing my fear over to the Lord on a daily basis. I pray that you are physically, emotionally, and mentally strong. I pray that you are developing exactly as you should. I pray that everything continues to go well. And...I hope.

When I sat in the private room at the funeral home and sobbed, alone, with your sister in my arms, I believe that God spoke to me. It is alright to grieve and hope. That simple sentence became the springboard for a conversation I had with your dad a few nights later. "If we ever have another daughter, I want to name her Hope." God had spoken something similar to him and we settled on it then and there, in the heartache and devastation of your sister's loss. Another daughter would be named Hope. 

We're not going to saddle you with that, kid. 

And every boy name that means "hope" is pretty much awful so we're not going to do that to you either. I realized that by giving us a name for a hypothetical daughter, God essentially equipped us to be able to move out of our grief and into a place of hope. It wasn't necessarily a name He was giving us, but the very virtue we needed to cling to as we waited to know about you. And the virtue we still clutch as we wait to hold you in our arms.

I could never have imagined this journey. From the moment, years ago, that I believe I heard the Lord tell me that I would have a daughter one day, to losing that daughter, to finding a son I never knew I was waiting for. My whole adult life has been about letting go of the plans I thought I had and submitting myself to the amazing plans God has for my life.

"Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven."

This is all about hope. Yes. Indeed. And it is about the Lord's will being done in our lives.

And that is why we are going to name you William. And call you Will.


*It should be noted that all of these outfits were returned during the week and a half that we thought we were not going to get to have the joy of raising Will. But Troy went back out and bought the fox outfit and my sister-in-law picked back up the turtle one. I really miss the Night Fury outfit.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Hey Kid: Four

March 2.

Hey Kid,

Today was a freak out day for me. Not outwardly. I managed to hold my crap together pretty well while I taught kindergarten and fought what I presume to be bronchitis. I must have done alright pretending I was okay because no one came up to me and said, "So, you must be keeping a big secret from the entire world right now because you're about to completely lose it." I'm handling my life just fine on the external, is what I'm saying. But inside I kinda lost my crap because I feel like I've known about you forever and it's only been 95 days.

And I have just over 100 to go. Also we're about to get our legal team involved. And probably our social worker. It just makes it all really real once all of those people are in place. It's not that I don't want you. It's that I do. I'm so afraid. Of everything. I'm afraid that each moment is your last heartbeat. Here's the thing. The fetal heart beats an average of 140 times per minute. If I multiply that times all the minutes until your due date, I get 20,361,600. Do you even understand that? (Of course you don't, you're a fetus.) But that means I am worried that just once out of over 20 million heartbeats, it might decide to stop.

I pray to God that He'll just keep orchestrating the miraculous and your heart will just go on working. Your brain will keep telling your heart to pump. Your body will keep working. If I could simply keep you alive by an act of my own will, you would live forever.

So I'm stressed. Incredibly.

But I'm excited, too. I've bought sleepers and onesies and a crib mattress pad and receiving blankets. I talk your Dad's ear off about names. I think we're narrowing it down and closing in. It might not even be Abednego Ruiz San Pedro Firefly. But then again, it might be. Your brothers are Garrett John and Matthew David Eric so it seems completely valid to bestow Abednego Ruiz San Pedro Firefly upon you because it totally flows with the others.

You're usually the very first thing I think about when I wake up. I wonder how I will ever wait another three and a third months to meet you. Every Sunday I check in with baby center and find out how big you are. Right now, you're the size of an average rutabaga. I'm not in the habit of purchasing rutabegas but it seems impossible that a baby the size of a vegetable root could ever live outside the womb. And yet, over 50% of babies born at 25 weeks gestation survive. Modern medicine is astounding.

The bottom line in all of this is that I can't wait for you. I mean, I will. Obviously. But I am ready for you to be here in my arms. Until then, I'll just keep posting things about how I'm freaking out. I love you, Kid. So much.


Thursday, June 16, 2016

Hey Kid: Three

Hey Kid,

Hey, Kid, we're so excited just to know you'll soon be here. Say, Kid, we're both delighted though that may not seem so clear. -If/Then

It's February 4 and, listen, it's not that a Broadway musical has played any sort of role in your creation or in your being here on this planet at all. Because it has not. But it has played a significant role in my ending up with you. Its themes of loss and moving on and choosing to live every day got me through some really miserable grief with your sister. Its themes of tracing paths left untaken and following twists and turns led me to you.

We're delighted and, well, terrified.

Because, as we know too well, it only takes a second for a baby's heart to stop beating forever. And really, kid, I need yours to keep going. I'm really attached to you already. But I'd be lying if I said that this was how I saw any of this playing out.

Cuz here's the thing...

No. I mean, literally. There's the thing. Your thing. I promise not to put anymore pictures of your penis on my blog. That's the one and only image of your thing that the world will ever see unless you grow up and make some really bad choices. And, yes, let's take a moment to discuss how impressive it is because you are only 21 and a half weeks, kid. MY. HEAVENS. I mean, there are ultrasound pictures where I'm like, "Yeah, okay, maybe I can kind of see that that's a wee wiener but, really, it looks like a blob of umbilical cord or something." But in this case I was like, "Yeah, no. THAT IS DEFINITELY a penis." It was as if you thought to yourself, I'm going to clarify this once and for all. I'm a boy. Take me or leave me.

I've been thinking about your sister for 14 months. Waiting for her. Losing her. Thinking God would bring us another daughter. Honestly, another "thing" wasn't even on my radar. But then, there was you. And we didn't know if you were a boy or a girl but we knew you were Kate's. Her brother? Her sister? Her sibling. Her blood. And blood is hardly an important factor in this family. None of my boys share a drop. But because we love her so much, we instantly loved the idea of you. Boy. Girl. Green alien from Mars. It just didn't matter. I knew I needed to hold you and love you and God would make you what you were. His timing. His will.

Do you understand that even though we never started off with this plan, God did? And I believe that He brought Kate to us because we would never ever have been in a place and space and time to get to you without her. That's some serious orchestration.

He knit you together in your mother's womb and would you take a look at how fabulous you are.

There you are. And I don't know your name. I haven't come up with it yet. I have ideas, most of which your father has vetoed. Listen, he'll tell you that I'm just as picky and stubborn as he is. In fact, he'll try to convince you that I'm even worse. But you heard it here first and this is my blog and I can tell it like it is. (Or revisionist history--whatever.)

So we're planning on surprising everyone. Or, at least, almost everyone. But we'll see how long we can keep the whole thing a secret. At the moment, your grandparents know about you. And that's it. So, with a lot of prayer and a little luck and a forever of waiting, this tiny hand will be holding my finger when this blog goes live in four months.

Until then, I plan to blog the heck out of my feelings. Because I'm scared to death. And I'm excited. And June feels like it's 100 years away, even though I know you'll be here before I know it and I won't be able to remember my life without you.

I know that God has hand picked me for you. I don't know why except to say that in my home and in my heart you can be loud. You can wrestle and pretend to be in battle. You can dig in the mud and run around naked and dance and howl at the moon. You can build forts and play football and be rough and tumble.You can laugh at poop jokes. You'll be safe to grow into a man here. It's all been done before. I'm sure you'll think of something that surprises me but I can't think of what that'll be.

So grow and thrive and I'll see you in four months. I can't wait until you're in my arms.


Saturday, June 11, 2016

Hey Kid: Two

Hey Kid,

It's January 27. So. I guess you could say I freaked out. Two and a half weeks ago, I found out that your mom left the place she was staying and moved into a place that we weren't terribly comfortable with. Infertility, contested adoption, adoption ending in stillbirth. This is my reality. I'm so ridiculously freaked out because THERE ARE  THINGS THAT HAVEN'T HAPPENED TO US YET. We've never had a mom decide to parent. We've never had one change her mind and choose someone else. We've never lost track of her halfway through. Not to mention, we could just repeat one of the things we've already done. THERE ARE LOADS OF THINGS THAT COULD HAPPEN AND I'M, APPARENTLY, INSANE.

If you're mine, kid, I'm sorry. Life has completely left me jaded. I promise I'll try to hide my paranoia from you.

So I freaked out and we backed out and I cried and I raged at God. (Really. Which was basically a first for me. Sure, I can handle all the above mentioned stress and still give God the glory but your mom relocating herself just about did me in. I didn't consult the Lord, I just stuffed earbuds in my ears and listened to Adele so that I couldn't hear Him if He tried to talk to me. It was quite the tantrum.) Then I decided to get out of bed and be happy with what He'd already blessed me with. My heart wants you, kid. It's just that my mind is in torment, counting all the terrible ways I could lose you.

But in that moment of making that one choice to back out, I realized how much I already love you. I was devastated. Well, devastated and pissed.

See, I was supposed to get to go with her to an ultrasound two weeks ago. But then she got upset with her living situation and moved and I was angry and backed out and so the ultrasound didn't happen. Last week, after two weeks of thinking we were out and you'd never be ours, we found out that the situation isn't as bad as we originally thought and your mom still wants it to be us. And we do too.

I'm just really scared. Because right now, I can't protect you. I can't do anything to keep you safe or, alive, even. I'm 100% out of control. You're just halfway there, is all. The size of a banana and not viable in the outside world. There's a lot of living for you to do before we could ever hold you. It scares me to death--frankly.

So we're praying right now. For peace from the Lord to move forward. If we move forward and lose you, it'll break our hearts. But if we don't move forward at all, I'll always wonder what if?

In two days, you're officially scheduled to be seen on an ultrasound. So here's the thing, please be healthy. Please be alright and then stay that way. We have a really long wait ahead of us but you don't know that. Just grow. And thrive. And be. And then maybe, if everything lines up just perfectly and our Lord chooses to bless me even though I don't deserve a bit of it, I'll get to meet you in four and a half months.

And you're an act of God's creation so I'm fine with all the doubt. -If/Then Musical

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Hey Kid: One

Hey Kid is a series of letters, written over the last five and a half months, to my baby. 

Hey Kid,

It's December 29 and I've known that you're alive for four and a half weeks. You're growing in the same place Kate was. Sharing the womb that her tiny heart took it's first and last beat inside of. It's been a month of wondering if you're a boy or a girl. A month of wondering just how terrified and stressed I'll be every day for the next five and a half months if we all say yes to this. Will your body quit inside of hers? Will she change her mind? Will your father sign?

Kid, your sister died. At 32 and a half weeks gestation her little body quit. So it's scary. Scary to feel like I love you already when my brain screams that I need to be afraid and that I need to not love you right now. But I do. Moving forward or not moving forward, I already love you. Even if you don't end up in my arms. Even if you aren't supposed to be mine. I love you.

I'm ahead of myself. So far ahead. The cart is so dang far in front of the horse that we're barreling down the road and the horse is being dragged behind, broken and bloody, because that's what I do. I hope, even when all logic says I'm insane. So I'm praying now that God will show me if I'm not supposed to feel this way. My heart is pulling me in one direction and I'm gonna need Him to intervene in a ridiculously big way if He doesn't want us to go that way.

I was distracted with teaching and Christmas and winter snow storms. But sometimes now I can't stop thinking about you and praying for you and begging God to make you strong. May strength be heaped upon you physically and mentally. May your home be one of safety and care. Regardless of whether or not you ever become my kid, I'm longing for only the very best things for you.

Hey, kid, everyone's waiting on you, kid. Everyone's wondering what you'll do, kid. It's true, kid. Me too, kid. -If/Then Musical