Monday, December 24, 2012

A Message

Have you ever had one of THOSE days...that then turn into a week?  A month?  A year?  Well, I'm now on week three of feeling the brink of depression creeping into my soul.  There's nothing worse than being in "baby despair," except maybe when it comes at the same time as the holidays!  Ugh.  Walking around with carols streaming through every radio, dozens of presents to wrap, cards to address, and a fake smile plastered to my face feels absolutely preposterous this time of year because deep down I'm just struggling to breathe.  The emptiness of my arms, the look of an innocent child, brings nothing but tears in world where I feel all alone....

....and then something happened.  I found myself sitting in a pew two days before Christmas knowing full well that the birth of the Savior would be the mornings topic.  I was right, and yet so wrong.  The message was more about faith, hope, and the power of believing.  Believing that  the things your waiting for-come.  Believing so much that you thank the Lord before it even makes it way into your life.  Believing that what has been written about your situation-will come to pass.

This message of faith left me quietly sobbing, unable to stand, wishing I was anywhere but there.  Yet, I was also filled with this small spark of hope.  That God knew my pain, saw me, and helped orchestrate this message just for me.  My husband took my hand and quietly lead us in a prayer giving God 2013 and believing that He would make the impossible-possible.

Please click on the following link and press "listen" on the message, "How To Find Favor With God."

So dear friends, We would like to leave you with this message and hope you find it uplifting as you believe for 2013.  We wish you a Merry Christmas and a New Year filled to the brim with happiness as we, wait for baby!
~Kassie and Nick

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Another blow, Another Blessing, Another Story

This Story is from One of the Waiting For Baby Founders

Recently, I was dealt another blow in the infertile world of waiting for baby.  After checking into a pain I had on my left side and being diagnosed with an operable ovarian cyst, I thought, "No big deal.  this isn't going to harm anything."  Let's do it!  Besides, the ugly C word-as I call it-loomed over the whole situation which made me more eager to GET. IT. OUT!

Unfortunately, two days later the pain was unbearable and I  pretty much was shaking and sweating so bad that my lovely co-workers decided I needed to leave.  After making arrangements for someone to come get me, I was rushed to my doctor.  He poked and prodded the places I really wasn't ready for anyone to poke and prod, and decided that immediate surgery the next morning would be necessary.

The next morning, my wonderful and loving husband took extra care to drive slow and down roads without bumps.  He was super attentive and asked all the questions you'd think I would be asking.  Instead, I just laid there in warm blankets as they drew blood, hooked my up to more wires and monitors that seemed necessary, and thought about the ugly C word praying that I would not become another victim of it's ravaging.

What I didn't know was that there was another type of ravaging going on.  When the doctor went in to remove the cyst, he found a rotting fallopian tube with a dried blood clot, and an ovary spotted with endometriosis-a female health disorder that occurs when cells from the lining of the womb (uterus) grow in other areas of the body. This can lead to pain, irregular bleeding, and problems getting pregnant.  So, he removed both in the best interest of my health and future of becoming a mother.

When I started coming out of my drugged-up state of mind, they told me what they had found and what they removed.  Apparently I lost it.  I remember crying, but not enough for them to consider me a "risk."  This means I had to stay a little longer and have 3 people in the bathroom with me to pee.  I wasn't allowed to be alone.  Really? Do you think I want to be alone at this time???  My hubby was there and that was all I needed.  From what he has told me, he was pretty shaken by my reaction. Not knowing what to do, he just covered my upper body with his, held my head to his chest, and let me sob until I was finished.  This is why I love him and will forever be his "squirrel."

When I was finally able to go home, I slept a lot and cried a lot from the pain.  My house quickly filled up with flowers, balloons, cards, tissues, folding chairs, food, and people.  One after another, people came and delivered blessing after blessing.  Well wishes were extended and prayers were prayed for fast healing.  Several conversations took place over the phone and life kinda took on a new routine.  I did a lot of PR stuff, caught up on some reading, watched movies, ate a LOT of ice cream, and tried to be somewhat positive over the whole situation.  There WAS a reason for this right?  I mean, why now? Why ever?  Why did it have to be such a critical organ that's needed to get pregnant?  Why Me?

I'm ashamed to say I didn't pick up my Bible once during the week of "healing."  I couldn't even pray more than one word, "Why?"  And then an answer came in such a way that it left me pondering for a couple days.  Did I not realize the blessing in disguise this operation really was?  I mean, I had a decaying organ inside of me-Gross!  And another organ that wasn't even functioning to help the pregnancy process anyways so, what was I whining about???  I have an amazing husband whose gone nine years dealing with what I was just know feeling.  It's like having a built in counselor!  I'm surrounded by amazing women who've actually never had the opportunity to get pregnant or have had to say goodbye to their little lovies before ever setting eyes on them.  They are my infertility gurus and are available 24/7 to me.  I have a mentor that prayers for us daily and pleads on our behalf for a child, a wonderful family who does their best to love us through this process when their hurting just as much, and a Heavenly Father who hears me.  Who sees my pain.  Who knows how mad I am, Who knows how hard it is for me to go to Him because my faith is dwindling. 

And yet...He still loves me. He still wants what's best for me, for us.  He knows I'm human and forgives my human ways.  He knows what organs I need and don't need.  He knows the desire of our hearts.  He knows what time is best.  He is preparing a way. He's gently reminding us how many times we have seen Him answer our prayers before and given testimony over and over at the works He has done on our behalf.  Will He not do one more?  Will it not in the end be considered a blessing rather than the initial blow?  Will He not continue writing our story long after the hurt and pain are just a memory? Yes, He will, He is MY God!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Taking Time to Dance~Part 2

When times get hard, all hope seems lost, and all you want to do is cry...
 ...get up, play this song, and dance!  Home is wherever YOU make it.

Friday, December 14, 2012


We're hosting a give-a-way! 

Win a signed copy of Anna Monardo's book, 
The Courtyard of Dream

All you have to do is:
*Visit her website at
*Come back to this page and tell us the other book displayed besides Courtyard of dreams
*Winner will be notified Monday, Dec. 17th

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Memoir: The Joy Of Ex-Anna's Story

Memoir: The Joy of Ex

Divorce is the kiss of death for a relationship—or maybe not. Can a medical crisis heal the wounds of the past?

by Anna Monardo and shared with permission by MORE Magazine

Neither my ex (let’s call him X) nor I had really wanted a divorce. What we’d wanted was a baby. I believe we shared a frustrating sense that during our few years together we had not had a fair chance—almost as if we were teenagers whose love had been muddied by the adults. In fact, we were old enough to be the parents of teenagers (X was the father of three terrific adolescent boys), but we had conducted our relationship with the kind of abandon you’d never want your kids to indulge in: work tossed aside for three-hour phone calls in the middle of the day, urgent (overpriced) rendezvous travel, lots of anywhere-anytime lovemaking. We married five months after we met. The wedding happened four days after the proposal. It was a romantic binge, a spree.

To read more of Anna's story, please click on the following link: 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Birth Mother Trying To Connect With 49ers Starting QB

Birth mother still trying to connect with new 49ers starting QB Colin Kaepernick

Heidi Russo has watched her son from the stands, half of her desperately wanting to rise and wave her arms with excitement in hopes that Colin Kaepernick might finally recognize her. She dreams, after all these years, that there might finally be a connection with the young man she once gave up for adoption.
"Then the other half of me calms me down and I just sit there and cheer like the rest of the people," said Russo, a 44-year-old registered nurse who lives in a suburb of Denver and went to see Kaepernick play in-person for the first time in 2010 when his University of Nevada team played at Colorado State. "I kept looking at him, thinking our eyes might meet. He might finally see me. I kept thinking it happened, but he never came to see me after the game."
Colin Kaepernick during Sunday's game against the Rams. (AP)For all of Russo's joy in watching Kaepernick, who has made a dramatic rise to starting quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers, there is an obvious sense of regret that he hasn't been a regular part of her life.
"I watch him now and I see how happy he is and I'm thrilled for him," said Russo, who said "I have to respect" his decision not to meet.
Yet she holds on to hope. "You can see that everything he wants and everything he has worked for is coming together," she said. "That's something that any parent would be happy to see for their child."
Russo has a Twitter account in which her profile notes that she has "a very special place in my heart for Colin Kaepernick." She said Kaepernick, who through his agent declined to be interviewed for this story, has exchanged a few messages with her, but that most of her tweets over the years have gone unreturned. Kaepernick's adoptive parents, Rick and Teresa, have said in the past they are supportive of whatever he wants to do. At the same time, Colin, Rick and Teresa have always been uncomfortable with the term "adoptive" parents.
"His parents are truly wonderful people," said Denver Broncos tight end Virgil Green, a teammate and roommate of Kaepernick's at Nevada. "I've been out to dinner with them and you can see the job they did raising him. I think he would view it as almost treasonous to them to meet with his biological mother or father. They did such a great job giving him everything he needed to be successful in life."
Russo admits that Kaepernick might have had a harder time becoming successful if she had kept him.
"I know I couldn't have given Colin everything he needed growing up," Russo said. "But I ask myself a lot of the time, 'Would loving him have been enough?' "
Russo was single and pregnant with Colin at 18, and a mother by 19. Along the way, she made the difficult decision to give up her first son (she also has an 8-year-old son). There was nothing easy about it. Russo said she initially interviewed three sets of prospective parents who were interested in adopting Colin. None were good enough, least of all the couple that "wanted to put him in the theater and have him play piano," she said. "He wasn't going to be in the theater."
Like Kaepernick, Russo was an athlete. She's 6 feet tall and played volleyball, basketball and track in high school. She was strong-willed and independent. Through the first eight months of the pregnancy, Russo had decided to keep him. Then, a family friend who worked for the Lutheran Social Services in Wisconsin introduced her to the Kaepernicks, who Russo said had two children of their own already, but had lost two other children to heart defects.
Heidi Russo (Courtesy"I knew they were the right people immediately," said Russo, who was living in Milwaukee at the time. "The first thing Teresa did when she met me was give me a hug. They were such giving, wonderful people from the moment I met them."
That eased the situation, but didn't immediately solve it. Under Wisconsin law at the time, there is a six-week period between when a child is born and when he/she can officially be adopted. The child is supposed to go into foster care for that period. Russo would have none of that.
"I refused to have him in foster care, there was no way. I raised him for the first six weeks," she said. The attachment developed from those six weeks became a difficult bond for her to deal with, starting with the day she gave him up.
A day she can barely remember.
"I think your mind and your body do things to help you forget truly painful experiences like that," Russo said. "I remember going to the courthouse to sign all the papers, then we went somewhere else for the exchange. It might have been the Lutheran Social Services building, but I really can't remember. All I remember is that we had to be in separate rooms. [The adoption officials] came and got Colin from me and then took him to the Kaepernicks. That's the one thing I wish I had done differently. I wish I had given him directly to the Kaepernicks."
Over the next six to seven years, the situation got worse. At the time, the Kaepernicks and Russo's father lived in Fond du Lac, Wis., roughly 65 miles north of Milwaukee. When Russo would visit her father, she'd find herself looking for the Kaepernicks, hoping to see Colin.
Russo said Teresa Kaepernick would send letters and pictures, but that came to a halt.
"I would find myself waiting and waiting for the letters and the pictures, so much so that I wasn't moving on with my life," Russo said. "I was depressed and anxious." She said there were "many times" that she wanted to go get Colin back from the Kaepernicks.
"But that wasn't about doing what was best for him, it was about healing the wound I had. That wouldn't have been the right thing for him," she said.
Russo ended communication with the Kaepernicks when Colin was 6 or 7, but resumed her attempts to meet him when Kaepernick got to Nevada. Russo had a friend who went through a similar circumstance and the friend encouraged Russo to contact Kaepernick via the Internet. She found him on MySpace and finally wrote a message to him after roughly six weeks of thinking about what to say.
It took another six weeks or so to hear back from him.
"He had questions about his father and I tried to get answers for him," Russo said. "I found his father and called his house."
Russo said she left a message that was never returned.
On Aug. 26, she attended the 49ers' preseason game at Denver. She reunited with Rick and Teresa Kaepernick and introduced her younger son to them.
"It was like meeting old friends after 25 years," she said. "You couldn't ask for better people than Rick and Teresa, how they have loved him and taken care of him. As a parent, you never think that anyone could love your child as much as you do, but they have."
However, she didn't meet Colin.
"Until he tells me otherwise, I'll continue supporting him," said Russo, who watches or records every game Kaepernick plays. "It's very emotional for me to watch him, especially [when he played against New Orleans] and you could see how happy he was. I just hope and pray for him."
What if he never wants to meet?
"Yes, there's always that, but I just stay positive for him," Russo said. "That's what is important. That's what you're supposed to do as a parent."

Friday, November 30, 2012

November Ends, Forever Families begin!

As Waiting for Baby Stories helped celebrate Adoption Awareness Month,  we realized just how powerful telling YOUR story could be.  We read about Lindsay and Jeff, their struggle to begin their family, and the blessing of being matched with a little boy in Korea.  Please keep little Ari in your thoughts as well as his forever family as they anxiously await his arrival.

We then met Kelli and Luca who struggled as well to start a family, were blessed by the option of adopting a little cutie from Vietnam, and now find themselves overwhelmed at the fundraising aspect of adoption again as they try to grow their forever family.  You can continue to help this family bring Baby K home by visiting their gofundme site:

We watched as Ryan's birth mother turned an infertile couple into a family bursting with joy,  we learned the importance of adopting older children, and were given the opportunity to speak up on behalf of the thousands of families needing a tax credit for their forever families to be complete. Then lastly, we read about high school theatre teacher Amy's struggles and then the experience of a lifetime as her family of four grew over night to a family of seven by the act of adoption.

November may be ending and adoption may just lose a little sparkle in the limelight, but it remains to be an important part of our society, community, and world.  Please continue to fight for adoption rights, pray for families who are waiting to be matched or waiting for permission to hold their promised little ones, give towards these families when you have a little extra, and most of all, never take for granted your forever family.~Kassie

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Amy's Story~Part 5

Tuesday, January 12 dawned and progressed like any other day: afull day of school and teaching with the added stress of preparing for conferences.  Auditions for the musical had been successful; the cast was being finalized.  Life was normal.  By the time I returned home, all that had changed. 

A 7.0 earthquake occurred in Haiti.  Reports of the devastation began rolling in through the news.  No reports at all rolled in from Holt Fontana.  It was such a long night. 

Thomas and I headed to school without knowing anything.  I can remember the heart ache and worry so very clearly.  Both of us remembered so perfectly the ramshackle building where we signed court documents during our last visit.  The document was a spiral notebook with lists of signatures.  How could that ‘courthouse’ survive, let alone a stack of spiral notebooks?  What did this mean to our process?  But most importantly, how were the kids and the staff at the village?

By mid morning we received news that all children and staff at the village were safe and well.  Holt was trying to find out what this meant to the process.   The relief combine with the horror of the situation and the selfish feelings of worrying about our adoption were almost crippling as I struggled  through 6 hours of parent conferences.

We had 2 days of no word.  The yahoo adoption group was a massive list  of rapid fire question and answers.  People were headed to Haiti to wait in line at the consulate or attempting to get their kids out on their own.  Holt promised they were working on it and asked us to remain in the US and wait for an official process.  We contacted our senators and representatives.   We prayed.  A lot.

The first Friday after the quake NBC ran video footage of a military plane leaving Haiti with children bound for the Netherlands.  All children who were in process.  The Netherlands had decided that they would first get the children out and second figure out how to make them citizens.  The US had decided the opposite.  Too many unknowns, too many phases to be worked with, too much chaos.  Children should be left at the orphanages unless they were in danger.  Thomas and I were just ill.

No word from anyone the entire weekend.

By Tuesday progress had been made.  The US had decided that they would grant Humanitarian Parole to all children who met certain criteria.  It didn’t take long for us to realize that Via met the criterion and would be coming home.  The twins, we were sure, would never be allowed to leave early.  We had just been matched with them in November.

The criterion:  a signed and notarized contract of adoption, USCIS paperwork granting permission for the adopting family to bring an immigrant in to the country, proof that the parents had been to Haiti and met the child.
We were good on the contract.  It was the first thing we had done after being matched.  We had just traveled to Haiti in October.  That weird trip seemingly thrown in for no real reason?  Now that trip was a saving grace.  We had been to Haiti, our signatures were on file there (somewhere.)  We had photos with Via and proof we had been to the orphanage.  But the USCIS?  No way to fake that.  We had not been printed or even applied for the USCIS forms for the twins.  Heartbreak and elation.  Via was coming home, it was just a matter of time.  The twins were not and who knew what their time frame was now.

BUT WAIT—our dear social worker from Holt called me at school.  Had I looked at my USCIS forms?  No I said, I just knew I had them.  Look at them she insisted.  I dug them out (I had full files of the paper work at both home and school)  And there it was.  The answer to our prayers.  USCIS petition granted to adopt ‘ORPHANS.’  Plural.  When we applied for our USCIS paper work we were not matched with a child yet and we had said we were open to a sibling group.  We were approved for multiples.  Even though we had updated our prints and reapplied for the I600 3 times, twice specifically for Via, USCIS had never changed the forms.

Holt determined to use this loop hole to get the twins home. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Amy's Story~Part 4

Mom and Dad are looking at adoption websites!

Six years after my hysterectomy I was sitting at the dining room table on a snow day.  My mom was spending the day with us to avoid boredom on the farm.  Unbeknownst to anyone I had started collecting adoption agency material because I had decided it was time to get serious. 

So I brought the computer and the promotional DVD’s to the table and mom and I starting watch and reading.  I remember it so clearly.  Mary Beth wandered through to the kitchen for a snack.  A minute later she wandered back.  Seconds later we heard her squeal with delight, “Anna come on quick, Mom is at the table looking at adoption stuff!”    I had just finished telling my mom that we weren’t going to say anything to the girls till we knew more.  Ha.  We all crowded around the computer and watched the stories of successful adoption.

At the end of the research I learned two things:  I was impressed with Holt International and our girls were totally ready to adopt.  Thomas had been ready to adopt for quite some time.  It was me who needed time to prepare.  I often look back and feel I waited too long.  I should have been ready sooner.  BUT God’s time is perfect and therefore, I will attempt NOT to second guess.

In May of that year, 2005, we went to Holt to talk about the process.  I had no idea what country we would adopt from; I didn’t care.  I wanted a child.  Thomas had been on a mission trip with Duchesne students the previous summer to the Dominican Republic.  They visited the slum along the Haiti/DR border and he saw little children wandering nearly naked, begging for their next meal.  When the director asked what country we were interested in he replied, ‘Do you have a Haiti program?’ 

“Are you willing to jump in to a new program where there will be a lot of unknowns?”  Man, I should have known right then we were in it for the long, longest haul.  But I knew that Thomas felt strongly about this country and the need.  We jumped in.

Over the next year I gave birth to a mountain of paper work.  The dossier and all copies weighed over 5 pounds when I mailed it.  Then the waiting.  With nothing to do.  Just wait. 

On June 6th 2006 I ran home after the last day of school to get the house ready to celebrate my father’s birthday.  The next day was a faculty workshop and the following day we were leaving for a family vacation.  The phone rang as I walked in the door.  It was our social worker; they had a match for us.  Talk about agonizing!  Before I could talk to Thomas at all we had a house full of guests!  That night we talked about this little girl, Vialancia age 2 ½.  The paper work would come the next day.  We were not supposed to make any decisions until we went over the medical records with our physician.  I am pretty sure my heart decided the minute I heard her name.  On our way to South Dakota for vacation we told the girls and the decision was made.  She was ours.

Fast forward 2 years.  Waiting and waiting.  Sending packages and praying for our file to move on.  Heads of state changed.  The process changed.  Requirements were added.  It was unbelievable. Late Fall 2009 we got a call telling us we needed to make a trip to Haiti to sign papers in a Haitian court.  A new step, BUT we were going to meet our little girl. 

We flew to Port Au Prince the first week in October.  We were met at the airport by Mansour, the orphanage director.  The drive through the city was one I won’t forget.  I had never seen poverty like that. And remember this was pre earthquake. 
We pulled in to the village and were guided down a path between small bungalows.  At the last little house many children were gathered on the porch steps.  Mansour spoke in creole and a tiny little girl worked her way through the crowd.  I held out my hands and smiling she came forward and let me hold her.  I sat down and put her on my lap.  She gazed up at me smiling.  We visited for just a short time as it was the children’s bed time.  It was so hard to walk away.

That night in our own little bungalow at the Kaliko Hotel just down the hill from Holt Fontana I told Thomas I knew we were supposed to adopt from Haiti again.  He said he felt it too.  We decided right then we would pursue a second match as soon as we got home.

We spent a magical day with Via at the resort.  We swam and read books, and colored and at snacks.  We let her skip nap in order to be together more.  Taking her back to the village, knowing we would fly away the next morning was so very painful.  At least I knew where she was and how to picture her in my mind. Before leaving we visited the rest of the little village and more children.  One of the house moms was holding a darling little boy.  I asked if I could hold him and she passed him to me.  He fit on my hip and snuggled in so sweetly I didn’t want to hand him back.  Mansour laughed and told Thomas to watch out or I would be adding many Haitian children to the family.

We flew home feeling bitter sweet.  It was so hard to leave our little girl behind.  However we felt better knowing she was being so well cared for and that she was healthy and happy.  We were also energized with a plan.

Within 2 weeks time we had found a pair of twins on the waiting child website.  Nine months old and perfectly healthy, but no family had been matched with them.  Upon closer look we realized that the little boy was the baby I held while in Haiti. 
A new paper chase was started.  We applied through the waiting child program to be matched with the twins.

The Friday before Thanksgiving Thomas and I left school early and headed home for a conference call interview., It was our chance to express why we wanted the twins and Holt’s chance to decide if we were the right family.  I remember before the call came Thomas and I discussed if we could really do this.  Can two teachers with student loans and house payments and car payments etc really raise 5 kids?  We prayed about it.  In the end we decided that if Holt chose us we would assume that God had chosen us. There had been other families who had applied for the twins and Holt had turned them down.  We would trust that whatever was meant to be would happen and we would accept it.

Twenty minutes later the phone call was over and while it wasn’t official,  the lovely woman all but assured us that the twins were ours.  Wednesday before Thanksgiving the official word came.  We were going to be a family of 5!

So here was our best laid plan:  Via would most likely come home the fall of 2010.  The twins were 1 year old.  They would probably come home the fall of 2012.  They would be potty trained and go right to preschool at Brownell.  Perfect.
 But you know what they say about telling God your plan….

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Amy's Story~Part 3

Pain to Joy

The Holidays of 1997 were wrought with grief on many levels.  As my family tried to put together a Christmas season full of prayer and joy and tradition we found inspiration in Mary Beth.  She helped us all to find meaning in the season.
Healing after loss goes on much longer than the time needed to celebrate the holidays though.

So it was with real joy and need that we celebrated a positive pregnancy test late in January of 1998. From the start it was a different experience.  I was sick from 5p.m.- 12a.m. every day for weeks.  #2 seemed to know that I needed to work.  Mary Beth was at daycare now as Mom needed to work in order to stay on the farm.  Everything old was new again as we learned the new normal.

That summer was spent planning and preparing for our second child.  I felt good and was truly excited about the coming of this second miracle.  By the fall and the start of school I had been to the hospital in false labor 2 times.  Had my step father been alive I am sure I would not have gone in; he would have known.  Alas, I was on my own and made the trip.

When real labor arrived it was very early morning and still 3 weeks too soon.  But we loaded up and headed in anyway.  I labored without making much progress most of the morning.  Around noon the nurse and a resident came to tell me they were going to lunch and I was stable.  They would see me in a bit.

Yep, 15 minutes later I was ready to go.  There was no time to do all the usual prep of the room or bed or even ready a nursery bed.  #2 came hard and fast and it was really scary.  So much chaos.

Even now I remember the fear and mayhem I felt .  It was all fine in the end, but so unsettling when it happened.  And then, there she was, Anna Marie.  I think from the very beginning I knew Anna would be my last biological child.  There was a bond there with a different intensity.  Through the coming years I would hold on tighter and become more emotional with every  first and last she went through.

I was right of course, she was my last ‘stomach child.’  Yes, that is the phrase we use in our family. No, I didn’t come up with it.

Within two years I had a total hysterectomy and began hormone replacement therapy.  It felt a lot like the lupron days, but the pain was gone.  Our family of 4 moved forward and grew and loved.  Waiting for me to be ready for the next phase of family building.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Amy's Story~Part 2

'This is the worst day ever.'  'This is the worst day of my life.'  'That is the worst.'  It is not hyperbole to say that most, if not all of us, have said these kinds of phrases.  I am pretty sure that I mutter, 'This is the worst.' whenever I am in a hurry and the copy machine won't work.  Car trouble, late for work, kids screaming, dinner burned, angry parent phone call, bad lesson plan, no work out time, kid won't sleep...
'This is the worst day ever.'

I have claimed many 'worst days ever' as I struggle through life's normal little challenges.  But if I am honest I know I have had one worst day ever and I can pinpoint it exactly.  And truly, though there have been tough times since, nothing has come close.

It was the fall of 1997.  Child #1 turned 1.  My dear step father, whom I was raised to call 'Big Jack,' but was in every way a father to me, was in hospice care at the farm and he was dying of cancer.  Late October arrived and well, my period didn't.  Sure enough soon came the nausea, though not nearly like I had with #1.  For some reason Thomas and I didn't share the news with anyone.  A week or so into November we told my mother.  There was quiet celebrating, but again, we kept the news within the 3 of us.  

My mother had turned the small den into a hospital room.  It was a central location, handy for my mother and hospice personnel and also allowed my step father to hear the chatter and functions of the family.  While most of the time he slept, I know that being near us all was what he wanted.  We all took turns sitting in the room with him.  We read, prayed, did our school work or talked. Though this wonderful man spent his entire adult life caring for pregnant women, I never told him about my pregnancy.  I guess I never really felt he was up to processing that information.  It is a regret I carry with me.

Early on the morning of November 19th I descended the steps and found the light in the den was on already.  I was usually the first one up.  Then I remembered that my youngest brother had early basketball practice at 6a.m. So he was up and out by 5:30.  I found mom bedside and crying.  My step father's breathing was very slow with long pauses between breathes.  He was very still though his eyes did open to look at my mom.  They had been praying together.  My mom and I wrapped up together our arms around each other, our hands around his.  I kissed him and told him I loved him and said goodbye.  My mother whispered to me to please go get Kelly.

It took forever to cover the 6 miles to Fort Calhoun.  I walked to the gym and stood quietly in the doorway.  Kelly looked up and saw me and walked directly to the locker room.  We held hands as we ran back to the car.  Kelly cried quietly.  He had gone to the den to hug mom and say good bye to his dad before practice, but he didn't know it was the real good bye.  

Kelly ran to the den as soon as I got the car parked.  I left him and my mother alone.  Stephen and Guy had been called and they would be home soon.  But Dad was already gone.

It was about this time my cramps started.  By late morning the cramps were pretty painful and I was scared.  There was so much going on in the house and so much to do that I felt very overwhelmed.  The big sister in me needed to take charge, but physically I wasn't able.  I gathered my brothers and with the help of my mom and husband explained that I was pregnant but cramping and needed to stay quiet as much as I could.  

The next morning arrived and I was worse.  The house felt heavy with loss and awkwardness as we tried to plan and forecast for the next few days.  What would dad want?  What had he already specified?  What time was the mortuary appointment?  Things no one considers normal conversation.  While dressing for the mortuary appointment I started to bleed.  I found my mom crying in her bedroom and added to her woes.  She was able to pull herself together enough to give me advice, make the call to the Dr. and send Thomas and I on our way.  

A pregnancy test at the Dr. office confirmed that I was pregnant.  Nothing else looked good.  I was cramping, spotting heavily and my blood pressure was way too high for me.  They loaded me with all the preventative meds they could and sent me home to keep my feet up.  I missed all the planning and preparing work being done for the funeral.

We returned to a house full of step brothers and sisters in law and distant relatives.  Weird casseroles on the table.  Mary Beth entertaining them all, but heartbreakingly searching for Grampy.  I went straight to bed.  Within an hour the cramps worsened, then grew unbearable.  The bleeding started in earnest and I found myself on the bathroom floor praying for it to stop.  I could hear the commotion on the floor below.  My heartbroken mother playing hostess.  I should have been doing this work for her.

There is no way to write about the next steps of the process that isn't somewhat disturbing and intimately personal.  However, I feel compelled to share it, because it MUST be a common moment to women who have suffered similar events.  So here I go.

I remember a horrendous cramp and it felt for all the world like labor.  I was alone and so scared and I remember being so very cold.  I climbed on to the toilet because I could feel fluid, blood I was sure, and the toilet seemed the natural place.  There was an intense pain that doubled me over and enormous pressure pulsed through my mid section.  And then it was gone.  I fell to the floor I know that.  I also know that I did 2 things in rapid succession.  The first was to look back at the toilet to see a small mass there.  Nothing more than a golf ball sized round of tissue.  Nothing to indicate life or humanity, though I know that is exactly what it was.  The second thing is still a mystery to me, one that humbles me and fills me with shame and regret.  With what must have been shock and probably reflex, I reached up and flushed the toilet.  

By then Thomas had heard my collapse and run upstairs to find me.  I told him and we cried together.  Then I panicked.  I remember saying over and over, 'I flushed the baby.'  Thomas did his best to quiet me.  The Dr. was called.  Meds given. Again, with my mother's help,  I was put to bed and to sleep.  

The next days were trials of emotional and physical strength.  The rosary, funeral, luncheon.  The endless cards, flowers, family, friends parading in and out of the house, church, mortuary to share their love and prayers.  And only a few knew what I was carrying in my heart.  The man that would have been there to counsel and guide me through this natural, but heartbreaking event, was gone.

These days deserve to be called the worst.  These days are a fogged mess as I try to look back at them and writing about it, while difficult, really is therapeutic. 

But you don't have to bury a family member and have a miscarriage to make a miscarriage horrible. 
It is horrible all on its own.  There are things that people say:  something must not have been right, it wasn't meant to be, you can try again, you are lucky you were only a few weeks along.  

When you have gone through this, all these things are stupid.  They make you angry.
And if you know that infertility is a word you are fighting, then that miscarriage represents what you thought was a miraculous success.  You know how thoroughly your hopes have been dashed.  You feel that while yes, you can try again, you won't be pregnant with THAT baby again.  That baby is gone.  And you know that seems immature and you know the physiological things that the Drs. tell you are logical and true.  But hearts don't heal on logic.

Even as I write this I know some will finish it and think, 'Yes but...'  because the rest of my story is happy.  By January of 1998 I was pregnant with #2 and she arrived healthy and happy.  Two biological daughters when so many couples go through much more and never have that experience even once.  Please know that not a day goes by when I am not aware of just how blessed I am.

How to end this lengthy essay about loss?  We prayed and hoped and talked to each other.  We didn't turn away God or each other.  And while not all of us get an answer from God that is one we would choose, knowing that the lines of communication are open is enough to help healing begin.  What are the most important elements needed for healing after a loss?  For me, faith and my spouse.

Oddly enough I come back to those two things on many days, from those that seem to be the worst to those that are pretty darn good.  Thankfully, I am never without either.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Spread the Word...

Meet the VanWinkles. Lucas, Kelli, Corinne, and....soon to be announced!  This family is adopting for the second time and need our help to spread the word to raise funds.  Please consider helping this forever family grow by clicking on the following link to read more about their story:

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Amy's Story~Part 1

As I get older and learn to open up and share with people, I realize that the word that changed my life is pretty darn common.  Endometriosis.  So many women have heard that word in diagnosis and then heard the potential treatments and felt completely bereft.  I remember a period of relief as I came to grips with a real ‘thing’ causing my pain.  That felt good.  I wasn’t nuts; the pain was real and caused by something. Whew.

But, I distinctly remember sitting across the big old Dr. desk hearing the prognosis for my future as a mom.  Start having children now.  At least start trying.  Now. 

Super.  I wanted a big family.  I was 24.  Dating a great guy, but only for about three months.  How could I tell him that ummm, now was the time for me to have kids.  By the way, do you want kids?  It seemed overwhelming.

From that point of being overwhelmed I made the decision to try Lupron as  a treatment.  One shot a month, instant menopause.  No period, No endo.
I didn’t ask many questions.  I didn’t research or google or ask around.  I just stuck a hip out and said go. 

I was completely unprepared for the side effects.  Hot flashes and chills were the least of my problems, though they plagued me hourly.  My heart raced.  My weight dropped.  My hair fell out.  I was a nervous wreck, the anxiety almost crippling.

 The pretty great guy I was dating, well, he hung around through all the ups and downs and down furthers of Lupron.   When I had my second shot and the side effects got worse it was him that said enough was enough.  By this time I was a ‘hot mess’ but so in Love with this man.  He proposed.  I said yes.  We went to the priest, who went to the archdiocese and 5 weeks later we were married.  I cried as I called to cancel the appointment for the 3rd Lupron shot.

As I look back on that horrendous time in my life, I am struck by several things.  Primarily how amazing it is that God puts the right people together at the right time.  If anyone ever doubts that God has a plan I think the summer and fall of 1995 in my life are clear indicators that there is a reason for everything.  But I am also struck by the events that led me to such an invasive and difficult treatment.  Truly, I asked NO questions.  I didn’t do any leg work.  My step father, the man who raised me, was an OBGYN in Omaha for 40 years.  He told me to trust this Dr. Only after I began to struggle did I start looking in to Lupron and drugs like it to find out what was happening to my body.  I can’t believe that.  How could I have so blindly agreed to such a huge change:  menopause at age 25?

The thing is, I know that so many women have gone through this and worse in the pursuit of a family.  It challenges you physically, mentally and spiritually.  Don’t even mention financially,.  Holy Cow.  Yet couples choose these struggles all the time. 

I ask myself every now and again, If God knew what my family path was, why did he let me struggle so?  Nearly every step I took to put my little family unit together was a challenge.  Why? 

I met a beautiful woman on my first and only trip to Haiti.  She had been waiting to bring her son home for more than 2 years.  Just like us.  When we said good bye to our son/daughter she and I held hands and cried as we walked back to the hotel.  I said to her, Why?  If God is watching and he wants these children to have homes, why can’t he move this along?

She said to me, ‘Everything is God’s time.  And God’s time is perfect.’

I wish the faith to believe and live by that statement had come to me much earlier.  But I cling to it now and with perfect hind sight vision realize it is so true.

~Amy B.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Ryan's Story

The following story was forwarded to us from a dear friend who prays for us.  We wanted to share with you in hopes that you would be encouraged. Blessings~Nick and Kassie

Moments with You, Daily Connections for Couples
Open Arms
He makes the barren woman abide in the house as a joyful mother of children.
Psalm 113:9
Recently a young man named Ryan shared with me this very personal story:
When my sister was born, there were problems during my mom's pregnancy that made her unable to have more children. So my parents decided to pray for a miracle. They got down on their knees and prayed at the side of their bed every night for an entire year, but nothing happened. One year turned into two. Two quickly turned into three. Three turned into four. Four years of praying. Four years of hurting. Still, nothing happened.
Right about that time, there was a young couple in high school. They had been dating for a while, but the girl said, "This isn't the guy I want to marry, and if I'm not going to marry him, I don't want to keep dating him." So they broke up. But a short time later, she found out she was pregnant with his baby. She didn't know what to do--didn't know if she should tell her parents, didn't want them to be upset or mad or disappointed.
Finally, she just couldn't take it anymore. She broke down one night and told them. They didn't know what to do either. They already had four kids. One more mouth wasn't going to help things... . They started meeting with a counselor, looking at options, shedding a lot of tears, and trying to decide what to do.
But the Lord took my parents' inability to have more kids, and He took that young couple's high-school indiscretion, and He meshed them together. On August 31, 1970, my parents, Jim and Shirley, brought me home from an adoption center.
That's how I became a Dobson.
That's the power of prayer. That's the power of adoption. And that's the power of a family.
Infertility strikes so close to the heart, but talk about adoption is its redemptive response.
Ask God to increasingly make Christian families like yours available and open--havens of hope to millions of orphans. And if you know an infertile couple, please pray for them.