What is taking so long? When you’re going through an adoption, you get that a lot. From your friends & family. And from your own brain. It doesn’t help that you have already waited so long to become parents. And you might keep telling yourself, “Well, I’ve waited this long.”
These have been the shortest 4 months of my life. I feel like we blinked, and Jase is now more of a baby boy. He is beautiful, and already shown us so much of his personality.
But, until today, we still didn’t even have custody. Today we FINALLY got to tell the judge we wanted him to be ours forever. Finally got to change his first name from “Baby Boy” to Jason. Jase. The Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) called him that, and it made my heart smile.
COVID-19 obviously threw a wrench in things. Custody should have been done 2ish months after he was born. But, here we are.
Here’s the order of how things have happened for us.
Social Worker came to do initial visit
Jase was born (WOOT! WOOT!)
Natural/birth mother signed consent for Power of Attorney
We took him home when he was released from the hospital
Calls from the attorneys
Fast forward to a home study visit (most anxious day of my life)
Now we wait. We will find out in the next couple days when our finalization hearing is. AKA Gotcha Day! What a party that will be! And we’ll have a few social worker visits between now and that big day.
But, again. We wait. We’ve been doing that for 7 ½ years. So, what’s a few more months!
Jase is ours. Which he has been since the moment our BM said he could be.
This grubby faced boy is now a Hillman, and will be forever. He will be taken on so many adventures, and have to deal with us being his parents.
Parents that sat in their living room instead of court today. Ones that raised their right hand and promised to take care of him. Be responsible for him. Educate. Love. Care for. I couldn’t help but get choked up during the whole “hearing.” I use the “” because, legit….I was still in my night gown. Not exactly the outfit I’d envisioned the first time we sat in the attorney’s office, being given the play by play.
Today is another good day. A weight has been lifted. Just like that we are solely responsible for this tiny wonder. Jase really is a miracle. His GAL agreed. The judge said Jason, Jr was lucky to have us. And we were pretty lucky to have him. I happen to agree.
One more step, buddy. Just one more step.
Mother’s Day. It’s the notorious day that seemed to elude me for so long. I have always loved it, because I LOVE spoiling my Mom and Gram.
Yet, like it is for so many of you, it has been incredibly bittersweet. Once that positive pregnancy test happens, you change. And when you are no longer pregnant. Sometimes you lose a bit of positivity with it.
But, this year. I got to join the club. I got to wonder what surprises my husband would have for me. He knew how much I’d looked forward to this weekend.
I got cards. From him, the baby, and our pup. And the most precious red balloon. I hear of Mamas getting diamonds. And each of us deserve that. But, I’m just not a jewelry girl. The baby giggles and fancy charcuterie board from my favorite caterer did me just fine.
I won’t begin to claim I am anywhere close to having this mama thing figured out. Don’t really think it is something you ever do master. You just do the best you can with each phase that comes along.
But here is what I have got, on this Mother’s Day…in no particular order.
Happy Mother’s Day to those whose children are here…and aren’t. I see you.
work'Twas the day before our walk-through, when all through the house
Not an edge existed, where bleach or cleaner had not been doused;
The blankets were folded and placed on the couch with care,
In hopes that a signed home study soon would be there;
The baby was babbling and not sleeping in his bed;
While visions of worst-case scenarios ran in Mom’s head;
And Dad in his senses, knew it would be fine,
And reassured Mom with a glass of wine.
When down in the basement there arose such a clatter,
Dad sprang from his seat to see what was the matter.
On downstairs he flew like a flash,
Tore open the door and down the stairs he dashed.
Two boxes laid in the floor no longer in their row,
A quick pick up they were back in stow,
Cinco de Mayo in quarantine made this day different this year,
People are talking about Corona, and not the beer.
Target got us a Fire extinguisher, and other things from a long list,
Lot of hard work and elbow grease, makes them know they have this.
More rapid than eagles this date came,
And Mom has whistled, cursed, and Dad has shouted, just the same
"Now, vacuum! now, dust! Now scrub and shine!
On, Comet! bye, clothes piles! Move that to the bathroom that’s mine!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! No more clutter at all!"
One more look at the forms to file.
Yes, being overprepared is just their style.
Things will go just as planned.
They’ve done everything to take care of their little man.
The social worker will see all the proof.
The stress will disappear in a poof.
As you eat your tacos and drink those margaritas with all your might,
Chips and salsa get dipped, and enjoy every bite.
“Happy Cinco Mayo to all, and say a prayer for us tonight!”
I have been given a lot of flack these past few weeks. 90% of the revenue from my business comes from photo shoots. And that isn't deemed essential. So. I got an extended maternity leave, if you will. Had a client call me selfish since her schedule is incredibly hard to juggle. Said this was the perfect time to do family portraits. It was literally my job, and I needed to do it.
Not anymore. It's hard being a Mom and trying to run a business. It's hard being a Mom, period. I wear a lot of hats. My job is to raise this incredible human. My JOB is to keep him safe. It is literally my calling to be this boy's mother. My career is another story.
Safe. That's a tough one. You want to let them experience life. Spread their wings. Yes, even at 3 months old. As I have said before, we should be going on weekly zoo trips. But, instead we're having living room dance parties, and doing endless tummy time that he can't decide if he likes.
Jason took his two-week paternity leave right when this pandemic went nuts. It was one of those God moments as this was planned back in December.
When it was time for him to go back, it created a new breed of stress for each of us. Plans were put in place in our home.
As the company is planning to get the entire staff back in the building over the next few weeks, it brought a new twinge of anxiety. My husband is considered “essential,” so working from home has not been an option.
Then I hear of these plans. Disposable masks to be kept at every entrance. Touchless hand sanitizer spread throughout the building. Just to name a few. Then I get a text with the picture of the washable company branded mask dropped off at my husband’s desk. All employees will eventually have two. No, it’s not perfect. I’m not sure they could come up with a perfect plan.
Since moving to STL, Jason has had his share of HORRIBLE bosses. That happened to be employed by even worse companies. Yesterday his boss asked how we were doing since my business is deemed “unessential.” What a breath of fresh air.
I’m so incredibly grateful my son gets to witness the best of both worlds. Seeing success on the entrepreneur and corporate side of things. And, in turn, witness a company who takes care of him, while taking care of his fantastic, hard working Daddy. And a Mom who balances, the best she can, a career and her #1 job.
Jase will witness responsible parents who have made sure these masks are just as fun as we are. He might not remember. But, there will be stories. And a picture of these masks by our keys.
You literally arrived right before all Hell broke loose in the world. We had plans for your spring. You live in the best city in America. And we don’t get to take you to experience any of it right now.
What do you need to know? Let’s see. Someone in China ate a bat. Yes. A bat. And it gave them COVID-19. Some call it the Corona Virus. Others call it things I won’t repeat because they are racist and unkind. You will literally be in so much trouble if you ever say any of them.
This virus is incredibly contagious. This means a shelter-in-place order has been put into effect across most of our country (and if it hasn’t, it should be). Dad’s birthday was a few weeks ago, and I didn’t get to throw him the party he would have, undoubtedly, complained about. We sang to him over Zoom. Literally none of your aunts or uncles could come over. Bizarre. I know.
However, there is so much I could actually tell you. At 3 months old, you don’t seem to understand a lot we tell you. Most of the things I'd tell you are what folks call "first world problems." Because, at the end of the day, thousands of people are literally dying.
I’d love for you to understand we are doing our best to keep you safe. I would tell you that we are loving this time with you. Time that is uninterrupted. That we can literally tell people to stay away. We get you completely to ourselves.
At the same time, I would want you to know this time is heartbreaking. We don’t get to take you to the zoo. To the aquarium. To see your grandparents. Grandma and JuJu are dying to see you. They ask about you all the time. You have aunts and uncles you have yet to meet. All have to settle for the pictures and videos we send.
There are things I have dreamed about for you since before you were created. Your first Opening Day of baseball. I knew we’d have this picture of you with Fredbird. Have our family picture with the field behind us. Not this year. Baseball was put on hold. Easter Sunday with all the things. But, the closest we got was this bunny outfit from Ms. Barb. The world is literally on pause in so many ways.
Yet, we put your room together. Organized your home. We've gotten to get all the things we planned to do in that 4.5 weeks we didn't get before you were born. We are working with you on things to help you flourish.
Your Dad is considered “essential” to more than just us! He still has to go to work every day. I literally am not allowed to do in person business! He immediately has to change clothes, scrub his hands, and face when he gets home before he even hugs us.
I want you to know despite all of this, the world is not a scary place. There are people who have lost their minds, lost their loved ones, but we will all be ok. Baseball will be back. The zoo visits will happen. You and I will, once again, take long walks around Target.
Until then, I will keep you to myself. Take too many photos of you. Wear masks when Dad & I go out. Listen to the medical professionals, and wait til the world is safe again.
And, in case you didn't know...you're loved. So much. By so many.
Love you big,
Ready for Part III?
If you’re not up to date, Part I is here.
I’ve weighed about posting this. Really gone back and forth. But, I realized I had to. We live in a world that isn’t always adoption friendly. And there are places that that can’t be a thing. Yet, here we are.
Around 1am things changed quickly.
Just a few things going forward, I will refer to our birth mother as H and birth father as M.
H has a history of high blood pressure. However, the nurses didn’t seem to listen or care. There was a medicine she had said she couldn’t have.
Shortly after we arrived, the epidural had fully kicked in. Except H seemed fuzzy. She kept telling the nurses she was ready to go. It was time to push. The nurse ignored her, and said the doctor could determine that when he came in. This drove me bonkers. Our child was her 5th. H was no stranger to pregnancy and birth. Around this time, my husband found a waiting room. He was not comfortable seeing H in such an intimate way.
At one point a nurse came in and said H needed to sit up. H didn’t want to, because she said it was uncomfortable.
The nurse said to her, “Your comfort is not my priority. It’s for that baby we are going to get out of you soon. You may not care about that baby, but I do.”
I was shocked, but let it go. The baby was in distress, so they got H to sit up. The next thing I know the room flooded with medical professionals. H was asked who would stay. Her mother and myself would be by her side, and everyone else was to get out of the way.
H’s mother rubbed her back. I kept rubbing her hand. Telling her what a Rockstar she was. First push. It was the doctor’s birthday. He’d never delivered a baby on his day. I couldn’t wrap my brain around how cool this was. 2nd push, and there was a baby head, then shoulders.
They brought the baby up to me, clamped the cord, and handed me the scissors. Cord cut. They flipped our sweet baby around, and my jaw dropped.
My bestie and I yelled in unison, “That’s not a girl.”
The nurse announced, “IT’S A BOY!”
H was at a loss and kept apologizing. “Is that ok?” Hell. YES. It. Was.
From there, if you haven’t read the birth story, you can do so here.
Fast forward to after Jase being measured, and such. 90% of the medical professionals were gone. It was crazy for me that they were there for the baby.
H’s monitors went crazy out of nowhere. I was with the pediatrician checking out our son, and look over. H had hemorrhaged. She was having a seizure. I learned quickly a nurse tried giving her that medicine she said she couldn’t have. I about lost my mind. H coded. She was dying. Thankfully, they got her back.
She coded all because they didn’t listen to her. They treated her like a drug seeking patient. Nobody comes to the hospital looking for blood pressure medicine. And nobody starts saying they can’t have a blood pressure medicine, because they don’t “prefer” it. I was furious.
Shortly after, H was back and talking. She was going to be fine. They put her on magnesium because of the seizure. The side effect of this is I knew she was going to feel like complete garbage. After birthing a baby. Lovely. This also meant we were saying on the L&D floor longer so they could observe her a little longer.
My bestie and I left to go get some food around 3am. When we got back, H was asleep in bed with the baby. We learned quickly she couldn’t be left alone. What she thought was “no big deal,” actually was.
I spent the next few hours snuggling, changing, and feeding this precious boy. Lots of interaction with a particular nurse. As awful as she was to H, she was amazing to me. She made sure the name WE gave him was on most things, instead of simply Baby Boy. She continued to be rough with H, and I did my best to stay calm.
After our next trip to go get a snack, bestie and I came back to an empty room. We learned H and the baby had been moved to another. We packed up our stuff, and moved along.
We get settled in the new room, and a baby nurse comes to visit. Bestie recognized her IMMEDIATELY from the previous birth experience H had.
“Hey, mama! How are you doing today? Let’s get this baby out of the bassinet and in your arms. Get that oxytocin flowing.” I realized she was not speaking to me.
H informed her I was the adoptive mother. The nurse said boldly, “I don’t care who she is. You need to hold your baby.”
The look on H’s face almost broke me. The baby nurse put my son in her arms. The attending nurse read the room and shortly took the baby back, and gave him to me. H went back to sleep.
I went over to the baby nurse and said, “I hate to be a bother, but can I have one of the big plastic hospital water cups?”
“No. Only the Moms get those.” This felt like someone punched me in the gut.
Shortly after, the same attending nurse came back and we learned the doctor was prescribing her a smaller dose of the trouble medicine from earlier. If bestie and I hadn’t been there to advocate for H, I am not sure she would be here. We argued with that nurse and told her DO NOT administer that medicine. She went and got the doctor and told him what had happened before. Told of H’s history of high blood pressure. He chose a different medicine. We learned that the L&D didn’t properly communicate what had happened on her chart.
H had been very annoyed that M had left, and was nowhere to be found. He had said he’d be back in about an hour. It had been 4. H wanted a fan, because of the magnesium, she just couldn’t get cool. The nurses couldn’t care less. Bestie went and got H a cold wash cloth. When she went to hand it to her, she found a needle in H’s bed. It was the kind that should have easily been put in the hazard’s disposal upon the completion of the medicine administering. Clearly it had been dropped. We’re not talking a syringe. It was the IV needle type. That was my last straw. Why were they treating H with so little empathy and care?
Throughout the day, H had continually said she was going to leave as soon as M got back. That would be a problem for us, as the attorneys had not worked out paperwork, and gotten any signatures. I started texting to get an update. Our attorney had court all day, so we would be assigned to another. I called our social worker, and told her everything that was going on. Apparently, the hospital social worker had been scheduled to stop by HOURS before. That clearly hadn’t happened. The new attorney called and got an update. Since H was threatening to leave we might have to change our plan a bit. We had to get documents signed before she left that hospital.
Jason called to check in. He’d be leaving work soon, and would go home first and let Riley out. He wanted to see if bestie and I needed him to bring anything to the hospital.
This was hard on H. She had been blowing up M’s phone to try and find out where he was. Nothing. He wasn’t responding. But, here was my husband who was making sure his wife AND her friend were taken care of. I could see it.
When the pediatrician came to check out Jase, we learned he was having some breathing issues. Something that was common for premies, but still concerning.
When they told H they wanted to move him to the nursery to keep him under observation, H lost her mind.
She looked me dead square in the eye and said, “I have no idea what your problem is, but he breathes just fine when I hold him.”
The nurses and doctor looked lost.
I ignored H and said, “Doc, didn’t you say you needed to run XYZ tests? Can we get those going, and see if his breathing gets better?”
As they took him away, I followed the attending nurse, “We’re moments away from having power of attorney. Please do not bring him back to the room, if you can keep from it.”
I immediately got on the phone, and got our social worker to the hospital to the get the power of attorney signed. She said she’d be there within the hour.
I start to head into the room, and I walk up on the nurse’s station. There were a few talking, but I could only see the faces of one. It was the baby nurse who was so pleasant earlier.
“I don’t get girls like H. They just find rich white ladies to throw their babies away to. She’s going to regret this for the rest of her life.” Baby nurse.
I was frozen. Then I started feeling heat go up the back of my neck. Did I just hear her correctly?
I find myself back in the room. H was still threatening to leave. I looked at bestie, and she realized I needed a break. It was almost 5pm, I was hungry, frustrated, and had gotten about an hour of sleep in the last 36 hours. What had been the happiest day of my life was becoming the most challenging.
Jason got to the hospital with a bag of supplies. Camera. Phone charger. Slippers.
I asked bestie if she’d stay and wait for the social worker. Jason and I went to the cafeteria to catch up on the day.
When we got back our social worker was there, she learned what she was walking into. Bestie’s hubby and our godfather showed up, so we took him to the nursery to meet Jase. This was around shift change, so we didn’t have to deal with that baby nurse anymore. I told bestie what was said. She said they had similar issues with her after the birth of H’s last boy our friends adopted.
We met our social worker in the lobby of the floor, and signed the Power of Attorney paperwork. H no longer had a say in what the medical team did or didn’t do with our son. He was staying in the nursery until we left. We were able to say that if she were to visit him, it had to be in the nursery. Shortly after, M came with his niece and told Jase goodbye. He thanked me for making sure he’d have a great life.
After his godparents met our son, we left for the night.
Fast forward to the next day. I walked into a pediatrician who told me that Jase’s tests weren’t fully back. That was a lie she made because she claimed to be “unaware” of the power of attorney change. I would learn later that it had been handed to her specifically to be put in his file. So, not only was it a lie, it was a big one. Not the way I wanted to start the day.
I met with the hospital social worker shortly after arriving. She explained how things would go. Said they wouldn’t keep the baby away from H, but she said she had no problem making sure he had to stay in the nursery since he would be on oxygen anyway. She updated me on all the tests that had been run on him. A few things were less than ideal, but he was going to be fine. I filled her in on what had happened over the last 36 hours he’d been alive. She said I needed to tell the nurse supervisor of both floors. That she had heard of multiple violations in the short time I spoke.
One of my favorite nurses of our stay happened to be assigned to the Moms that day. Julie was in the nursery doing charts. She asked me if I wanted a cup for some water, because I was losing my voice with how dry it was. Needless to say, that hit me in a weird spot. I told her what I’d be told the day before.
“You are his mother.” When I got back from meeting with the social worker, the water cup was by my purse.
They liked being known as an adoption friendly hospital. And she understood why I didn’t see that. But, she was going to keep her eye on us.
The same baby nurse was working that day and had been assigned to us. I noticed Jase had an incredibly red tushy. I knew our friends’ son had issues with Desitin, and that is what the hospital used. I asked that they bring me something else to use. The baby nurse disregarded my request. I also asked when he’d be getting a bath, and she said that since he wasn’t breast feeding, he needed to wait.
Jase was eating like a champ. He was not breathing like one. But, he was smart. He didn’t like the oxygen tubes, and he kept figuring out how to wiggle them out of his nose. The rest of the babies each got small pieces of tape holding down their tubes, but not our boy. They had to tape it completely down to his face.
Fast forward to the next day. I got to meet with the nurse supervisor. She was livid about everything going on. I was told I wouldn’t have to deal with that baby nurse anymore. We were assigned to my favorite nurse Julie. I told her about the Desitin. She threw away the bottle in his drawer.
Our boy was in the hospital for almost 6 days. We experienced the good, bad, and the ugly. Experienced some things that no natural birth parents would.
Nurses who treated us like visitors. Nurses who doted on us. Those that treated us like we were doing something magical. Those that treated us like we stole something.
That original baby nurse decided she wouldn’t anything but Desitin on him. He had a fiery diaper rash by day 3. We left to grab dinner, and when we came back, I could hear him screaming as I came down the hall. When we got in the nursery, the original baby nurse was sitting at a computer, and said, “Oh, perfect timing, MAMA. Your SON needs to be changed.” Why wasn’t he already getting changed when she knew he had the rash?
We had nurses that were tough. Boston was told to give our boy his car seat test. She told me she wouldn’t. When she saw my disappointment, she exclaimed why. If he didn’t pass, he probably wouldn’t go home for at least two more days. If we waited another day, he’d probably go home the next day. Patience. Its all I needed.
Another nurse was incredibly kind. There was a night Jase was the only baby besides one getting their car seat test. Our night nurse spent hours with us. Showing my husband how to feed, swaddle, and change our son. She had 30 years experience being a nurse. A few days before she had heard me talk about our son not getting a bath. I came back the next day to him bathed.
The world needs angels among us like these ladies.
H went home on Friday. I never imagined it would be hard getting upstairs to see our son. Security guards kept referring to her as “the mother.” It was like a kick to the gut every single time.
When birth mothers come in and say they have an adoption as part of their birth plan, nobody should call them any maternal word. It is hard on their mental health. It is confusing. And if the adoptive mom is there, it’s just harder. There has to be a way to make a note in the system, so it’s clear to everyone who interacts with both.
The last day in the hospital, we got to security. We showed our name tags. She said, “the mother had gone home.” She needed to make a phone call. She called about the wrong child, and they told her that the baby had moved to the NICU. I about lost my mind. He had been fine when I left the night before. Finally, a security guard that had been incredibly kind to us all week, recognized us. She told the other guard to let us go. When we got upstairs, he was halfway through his car seat test. He had had a GREAT night. He just had to get through the next two hours, and he would be leaving. We had been told the only reason he’d have to go to the NICU is if he stopped breathing.
In a matter of 5 minutes, we had been jerked around regarding his wellbeing. Over the course of 5 days we were lied to by an attending pediatrician, nurses, and security guards. We were made to feel less than as parents. Our boy’s care was subpar by those because of it. And we had witnessed our birth mother be treated less than. That just isn’t ok.
I learned a lot of lessons through all of this. It was my first experience fighting for the wellbeing of my son. It was confirmed I had it in me. Simple kindness to nurses goes a LONG way. And sometimes that kindness looks like fresh from the oven cookies from your caterer friend. Another is that hospitals need to just do better in how they treat adoptive parents.
I have not told the name of the hospital we were at on purpose. If you’re a hospital administrator, social worker, etc, and you’re curious that this about your location, you can contact me directly. I am happy to come to your location to help consult on anything plan of a training session.
This experience solidified the need for this blog. The need for someone in this area to advocate for fellow adoptive parents. For me to just be an ally. Ear to listen. So here I am. A mom ready to help.
Welcome back. If you’re joining me for the first time, I recommend you do not start with this blog. If anything read this first, and then come back here.
It’s Jan 7th, I’ve just settled in to watch a show before I hit the hay. I can literally feel my body relaxing. Jason has been asleep for over an hour. I pick up my phone, because I see it blinking.
I have a text.
“I’m at the hospital. Its time.” A quick call to our birth mother. She wasn’t due until February. What do you mean, “it’s time?”
“Girl, have you been checked out?”
“I’m putting on my shoes. See you soon.”
“JASON!! IT’S TIME. WE’RE HAVING A BABY.”
I heard Jason get out of bed, come running, and he’s barely dressed. “Whaaat do you mean? She’s due February. Its January. Not February.” He’s rubbing his face the whole time. He had apparently taken his melatonin and it had kicked in.
I fill him in. Tell him a good start was to find pants. I was present minded enough to grab the “God is Faithful” sweatshirt I had purchased just for this day, and slipped it on. I had not packed our hospital bag. I had no snacks. I didn’t have a phone charger. I had a purse and my phone. And a heart that was beaming. I would meet my daughter soon.
I called my bestie as soon as Bluetooth connected in my car. No answer. Sent a text, “911. Need you to answer.”
“We’re about to go to bed. What’s up?”
“Birth mother is 7cm. I’m on my way to the hospital. She’s already there.”
“I will be right behind you.”
“Want me to scoop you up?”
And that’s what I did. My perfectly put together bestie was standing outside her home about 5 minutes later with a bag of necessities. And a Mac charger that worked with my phone.
Within moments of being on the road, she said to me, “It is perfectly fine for you to break the speed limit. If you want to be there when she’s born, you’re going to need to pick it up.”
And once I pulled into the parking spot at the hospital she said, “I’m going to need you to never drive like that again. Thank you for not killing us.”
Our birth mother texted me just after 10. We were settled in just before 10:45pm. Lots of moaning. Nurses who weren’t really listening to her. Introductions to our birth mother’s family. An agreement I would be by our birth mother’s side during delivery. Tons of medical staff swarmed the room. Jason found his way to a waiting room.
Barely two pushes.
12:10am, Jan 8th, 2020, a 6lb 11oz, 19-inch wonder came into the world. I was a mother. The cord was clamped, and I was handed the scissors. They flipped this beautiful baby around. My jaw dropped.
“That’s not a girl,” was said in unison by a Mom and a Godmother.
Then the nurse announced, “IT’S A BOY!” And the room cheered.
Our birth mother looked at me and said, “Well, shit. I’m so sorry. Holy cow another boy.”
I was a boy Mom. My phone rang, as my cousin was calling me back. Bestie told her that she really needed to go, and take some pictures of me with my son. My cousin said, “Son!?”
My son. I had a son. His first APGAR score was an 8. Second was a 9. Only pediatrician’s kids get 10s. He was screaming. He was pink. Jason Robert Jr was perfect. My husband had gotten his Junior.
Oh, crap. My husband. I realized he was still in the waiting room. A member of the birth mother’s family came back in the room, and said she had gone to find Jason, but was not successful. I called, and said, “Where are you? Meet me at the end of the hall.”
I saw this handsome man I had shared 10 ½ years of marriage with. Struggled for 7 of them to become parents. He had the most concerned look on his face.
“Is she here?! How is she? Is everything ok?”
“She is not here,” I paused. “Would you like to come meet your son?” I think we hugged, but I can’t answer that truthfully.
“My son? It’s a boy?” He got the same look on his face he did the moment I walked down the aisle. The same tears streamed down his cheeks. We were parents.
The next hour or so was a whirlwind. Jase was weighed, poked, and prodded. We finally got to feed him. The birth mother’s mom and little sister told him bye. That was not a moment I expected to witness, and a part of my heart was forever shattered. Jason finally got to hold his son. His godmother got to hold him, and whisper sweet nothings. When the nurses asked if we wanted to do skin to skin, our birth mother did it first for a few short minutes, and then told them to let me do it. I ripped my shirt off quicker than a hussy at homecoming. That was the most magical moment of my life. I tried to call my Mom over and over, but she was dead asleep. My grandparents answered the phone, and got to learn they had a great-grandson.
I still can’t believe how that night seemed to sparkle. How perfect it was in those moments. The surge of love I had for this baby. Baby boy. My son. There are no words.
Jason left and went home to catch a nap, because he had a very important meeting the next day. So, just as his Dad did, he went to work the day his son was born. We had decided he wouldn’t take paternity leave until Jase was home.
Around 1am things changed quickly.
Have you ever Googled yourself? Unless you are the kind of smart that has mastered SEO (search engine optimization…aka how Google communicates with you), you have done something national spotlight worthy, or whatnot, you have to include a few things to find YOU. I throw in St. Louis, and there I am.
Last night as I clicked through my Google list, I stumbled upon a podcast that I did back in July of 2018. Pre-plague that demands quarantine. Pre-business explosion (in a good way). But, most importantly…. definitely pre-mamahood. I joined Meg Collier to talk about something we, as women, are not supposed to talk about: Infertility.
You can listen to that here. Or…just keep reading.
When I met my hubby, we realized we had a very similar “life plan.” It would include lots of adventures. Cardinal’s baseball. St. Louis, that is. So much jamming at concerts would be done.
Once engaged, we were advised to create two lists that have created balance in our marriage.
1. Categorize all the house chores into the following “hate, tolerate, enjoy.”
2. Create a “pre-kids” bucket list.
Well, our preferred workloads matched perfectly. Jason is particular about laundry and how the dishwasher is loaded. I want the bathrooms kept a certain way. Boom. Easy peasy. Just to name a few.
The bucket list was fun. We started celebrating Opening Day shortly after getting married. Traveled all over the country, and drank around the world at Epcot. Danced with Larry the Cable Guy in the French Quarter, and it appeared on his show later. Some planned and so many unexpected memories made.
Then the last thing on the list was booked: Hawaii. As we prepared for the trip, I scheduled my annual gyno appointment. Informed her we were ready. We wanted to try and be parents. Lots of blood work, tests, and such later, everything looked great. Then my pap smear results came back. And I got a phone call.
“Alison, I hate to break this to you. You’re going to have to pack condoms for Hawaii. You cannot get pregnant yet. You’re going to have to have surgery when you get back.”
I signed documents saying that if crap hit the fan during surgery they could give me a hysterectomy. I was 27. And signing papers. THOSE papers. I was devastated.
Jason was my super-hero. He was so supportive through it all. Worried. But, positive through it all. The best nurse after surgery. Always reminding me we were meant to be parents. It would all work out.
Hawaii was fantastic. Surgery was the opposite. But, I came out on the other side ok.
Yet, I was still not getting pregnant. And my TN doctor couldn’t figure out why. Eventually, my MO one didn’t either. I felt broken.
In retrospect, I don’t understand why. One would not…well, should not…ever make a diabetic feel less than because their body cannot produce insulin. My body couldn’t seem to make a baby. This is literally no different. Well, except for society.
A few weeks after surgery I accompanied my youth kids to Texas for the National Youth Gathering. I overdid it one day, and threw up my first Whataburger experience. That night we had a devotion with the kids, and I broke down. I told them where I was. I was real and raw. We were talking about Jeremiah 29:11.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” This became my meditation verse, and it eventually was hung in our home in St. Louis. I had it one a ring. Purpose was chosen as my Word of the Year.
I told these kids that they had been told that if they had sex, they would get pregnant. And that could very well be true. And they should guard themselves. But, I had learned that that wasn’t always true. And I felt broken. Felt less than as a wife. As a woman. However, this verse touched me in a spot deep in my soul.
“For I know the plans I have for you to be parents, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you as parents and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future with a child.” This is what I heard. And what I would continually to pray for the next years.
We tried Clomid. Doc warned me about the “witchy bitchy” it might cause. Then, we found ourselves still living in a hotel, because our house in TN hadn’t been sold. The night I asked to use my hubby’s phone to look up something, he offered to do it for me, and I grabbed my keys and screamed at him for not letting me use the phone. He asked where I was going. I told him to Google it. I was done as soon as I was on the other side of the door. I needed a heating pad, and knew a Target was close. Jason just wanted to help. I left, got what I needed plus a Milky Way, and called my Mom sobbing. I had lost it, and knew it.
A few months later we agreed that we would adopt if pregnancy wasn’t successful naturally. No more drugs. No IVF. It wasn’t for us. And there were kids who needed good homes that might be great for us. And we would try daily to be good for them.
Then life continued to happen. Jason got settled into his new job in St. Louis. Miscarriage. We were loving being in our “happy place.” Promotions. Company restructures. Miscarriage. Unemployment. Great jobs. Horrible bosses. Pretty great ones. Bad apartments. Miscarriage. An ok house.
We made some decisions towards the beginning of 2017. In this process, we had countless negative pregnancy tests that shocked me. Despite the disappointment, we were going to change what we could. We would work for great bosses, once we found them. This meant I left corporate America in 2018. We were going to live in a home that would suffice for 5 years. And we were going to be intentional with whom we surrounded ourselves with. AKA we would solidify our tribe.
If you follow me on any form of social media or talk to me in real life, you will hear about our tribe. We are so incredibly blessed to have the crew we do. Every single one knew we wanted to be parents. Badly. And that it would happen as soon as God spoke it was time. Our hearts were aching in the “wait.” And they were hurting right along with us. They knew it was meant to be, and they were ready to love on the newest member of the tribe. It was a regular conversation. Not in an “oh woe is me” way. Simply, in a way that was always full of hope and anticipation.
One cannot have too many friends like this. And we are blessed with more than most.
Then something happened. We woke up one day and realized how great life really was. We were content. We liked our home. Renting is something we stayed with, because trying to sell a house for 3 years was intense and exhausting. Work was going so well for both of us. Jason loves his bosses and team. My business has been flourishing. And our tribe. Love them.
Life was good. It included lots of adventures. Cardinal’s baseball. St. Louis, that is. So much jamming at concerts.
Then it happened. I received a text October 2019. Dear friends had finalized the adoption of their precious son the month before. And their birth mother was pregnant again. I was spending the day at one of my best friend’s house. We were both going to focus on work, have a PB&J day, and just relax. This text blew that out of the water. So many scenarios were played out. Worst- and best-case scenarios. She had been there every step of the way for the other adoption. But, there was a baby. For us. Something in my soul just knew this was it.
Here’s one thing that threw me off. She said she was having a girl. A girl!?!? Jason wanted a Junior. I knew I was meant to be a “boy mom.” Sheesh. God had a funny sense of humor.
I will never forget going home that day to Jason. Told him that I had something we needed to talk about.
I sat in Riley, our rescue pup’s, chair directly across from him.
“What if we didn’t use any of your bonus this year on that Punta Cana trip?”
“You want to go back to Hawaii instead?”
“What if it was used on adoption fees for a…. ‘baby’?”
Side note--If you have ever watched the OG Gilmore Girls. There’s an episode where Lorelai talks to Luke about having a baby. And she says “baby” in a certain tone with extra syllables. I mimicked it.
Jason immediately had tears in his eyes. And he had a look of befuddled excitement, too. I told him our friends’ birth mother was pregnant again. And she had contacted them. Our info would be given to her.
This really could be it. However, we couldn’t get excited about this just yet. We couldn’t tell anyone. This would be something we would pray about together.
Then nothing. We literally heard nothing. I texted our friend. She’d heard nothing. Radio silence from the birth mother. I was a basket case.
Then, out of the blue, the birth mother texted our friend, wondering if she found her a couple. We had a date scheduled for lunch: Nov 13th. This very pregnant, beautiful brunette came out and got in the car. Conversation came easily. But, her vibe just wasn’t clear.
At the end our friend looked at the birth mother and bluntly said, “So what do you think? I have a few more couples I can talk to.”
Nope. She loved us. I stayed calm in that moment. That was nothing but Jesus. We dropped her off, and she fully got inside with the door shut. I screamed. My friend and I gushed together.
Two days later we had our annual Friendsgiving with our Tribe. The anticipation we had was intense. We announced to our crew we were having a baby. Tears. Screams. Cheers. More tears. SO many hugs. This was the moment so many had hoped for over the years.
Over the next few weeks our birth mother sent me ultrasounds. We announced to our families at Thanksgiving. The anticipation was so overwhelming. I thought I’d burst.
Then I went on my girlfriends’ trip for two weeks. Upon my return, I would have 6 weeks until the due date. Plenty of time.
During the trip, I saw a mom group having tea with their babies. It was the first time I saw something like this without getting a pit in my stomach. I bought teal moccasins at the Christmas Market. My girlfriends’ and I saw cute Mommy and me outfits. It just brought me a thrill. I would get to do this soon. The girls and I returned home to our people ready for the days to follow.
Jason and I celebrated Christmas and New Year’s. We were so excited. Our girl would be here in a month. Feb 3rd was our due date, and it would happen in a blink. A name was picked, a plan for her room was made, and threats against purchasing baby things were continuously sent out to our Tribe.
Then Jan 4th found us. We went to the Garden Glow with our girl’s Godparents. We decided this would be an annual tradition. We talked of the things our girl would love about it.
Jan 7th, I had just emailed off a session. I had shot a wedding a weekish before. These were the last “pre-baby” things I needed to finish for work. Jason had been Mayor of Sleepytown for about an hour. I was thinking about heading to bed. I grabbed some OJ, and turned on a show. My phone buzzed.
“I’m at the hospital. Its time.” A quick call to our birth mother. She wasn’t due until February. What do you mean, “it’s time?”
“Girl, have you been checked out?”
“I’m putting on my shoes. See you soon.”
“JASON!! IT’S TIME. WE’RE HAVING A BABY.”
Life as I know it changed Jan 8th. I'll get to that story another day.
I have a habit of being transparent. Almost a little too much so. I think it comes from being taught that your trials will give you the tools to help someone else one day.
And here we are.
After some conversation with my girl Hayley, the Sociable Celiac, I bought this domain 6 days before Jase was born thinking one day I might be a resource. But, then parenthood happened, and I let the idea go. However, when half a dozen folks reach out to you in a month asking adoption questions, you can't ignore that. God is good about smacking me in the face sometimes.
So what can you expect from this blog? Please, don't let it be much. But, I'm going to post about things I learn in our adoption journey. Both from the legal, social worker, hospital, and so many more sides. Things Jase likes in the product world...or at least his parents do Barely filtered lessons I learn along the way being a #BoyMom. And pictures. A whole heck of a lot of pictures. I am a photographer, as you know. (And if you don't....click on that "BEEN THERE PHOTOGRAPHY" tab above and waste some time on the interwebs.
Thanks for stopping by. Please connect with me over on Facebook and Instagram
Jason Squared's best girl. Jesus freak. Dog mom. Auntie. Screaming loud for STL Cards and Battle Hawks, Nashville Predators, Kentucky Wildcats. Dancing hard at concerts. Just a girl living out loud. On purpose.