Thursday, February 16, 2012


The love of a birth mother

On February 6th, Kirsten (Joey's birth mom) passed away in her sleep. I received a call from her husband that said she passed away and instantly my heart dropped. I called to talk to him and listened to him sob, asking why he had to fall asleep and not stay up to take care of her. She had been diagnosed with double pneumonia and bronchitis at the end of December. She was in and out of the hospital every few days. They kept giving her antibiotics and she kept saying she was getting better. We had seen her January 31st and spent the day with her and her husband at the park. It had been the 5th time she had seen Joey in the 2 months he had been on this earth. We told her that Robby had lost his job and we were looking at jobs outside the state of Arizona. She was heartbroken but knew that we would do what was necessary to take care of our family. She knew we would never just walk away from her and that we would visit often. I knew this was causing extra stress for her and I really didn't want that, but I didn't want to be dishonest with her either.

Kirsten and I texted almost daily. She wanted to know how our whole family was doing, not just Joey. She loved all of us too. We had made plans to meet her at Grace's gymnastics on Monday so she could see Joey and watch Grace show off. Robby had an interview in California that day and both of us were nervous to see if he would get a new job and we would have to relocate. I wake up that morning at 6 am and see the message from Leonard (Kirsten's husband). I immediately fell down, sobbing. It was such a shock. Robby couldn't postpone the interviews so we drove him to the airport and I barely made it home through the sobbing and hyperventilating.

Luckily I had a friend come stay with me and she helped me watch Grace and Joey and helped me not be a sobbing mess. Robby ended up staying 2 days and nights but came home with a job offer in Palo Alto, CA (just south of San Francisco). We had 3 days to pack before they wanted us to be there. Packing and grieving are hard to do at once.

Friday was Kirsten's funeral. I sang the song that was sung at both of her grandmother's funerals, "I Can Only Imagine." It was impossible to sing without tears streaming down as I saw her family, her daughter, and friends hurting along with me. She had not seen them for over 5 years and until the day she died, had no idea Joey existed. I was able to talk to them and let them hold Joey, but their pain is still too fresh to consider more contact at this time. I was able to meet Kirsten's birth daughter's mom (Joey is Kirsten's 3rd child) and we were able to exchange information so in the future we can have contact between our children.

I have been really struggling with Kirsten's passing. I lost my grandpa when I was 10 and my grandma last year but both of them had been old and sick so it was not a huge shock. I still wake up thinking all of this had just been a dream, but it's very much reality. Joey is getting very spoiled and hasn't been more than an arms length away from me. I see so much of her in him.

I know that we will see her again and I know the second I leave this life, she will be one of the first people I embrace. She blessed me with an amazing son. Joey will always know that his birth mom loved him. She placed him in our home. I was constantly in awe of her knowledge that he was meant for our home, but I think the spirit was prompting her to bring him to us. She will always be honored in our home. We will miss her terribly, but I know she is watching over us.

For now, we are settling into California and trying to find a home. We are beginning a new chapter in our lives and I'm trying to embrace that. I'm glad I have 2 incredible children to keep me busy, a sweet little doggy, and an amazing and supportive husband who is always there for me.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Joey's Birth story

Kirsten (Joey's birth mom) had been in the hospital for several weeks leading up to the birth. She had a hernia above her uterus, severe chronic back pain, and was having trouble keeping any food or liquids down. So she was in the hospital on an IV getting the pain medication and nutrients she needed. Even with several scares of what we thought was early labor, Kirsten managed to hold out.

At the end of November, Kirsten's doctor decided to schedule a c-section for when Kirsten hit 37 weeks. She didn't want her to go into labor or have her water break. So it was scheduled for December 4th. That day is super special to our family. Grace was sealed to us for eternity on that day a year prior. And I found out that my mom had actually been baptized into the LDS church on that day too. So we knew that day was going to be a very special one.

The day before, we took Grace out to dinner and enjoyed our last time as a family of 3. I had taken her a few days earlier to the zoo to celebrate her adoption and we had done a lot to spoil her in those last few weeks.

Sunday morning, the 4th, we woke up bright and early. Robby dropped me off at the hospital at 7 am so I could be there to listen to all the instructions and help get Kirsten ready. Her best friend, Shelly, came with us and was a huge support to Kirsten. Robby went and dropped Grace off and then came to meet us. The c-section was scheduled for 8:30 but that time came and passed. The OR was still being used so we had to wait. At 8:50, the OR was ready and they wheeled Kirsten back. She had wanted me in the room with her, but only 1 other person was allowed, and her husband, Leonard, filled that job. :)

Waiting outside for Joey to be born felt like some of the longest minutes of my life. I was able to sit with Robby, Shelly, and my friend Jessica who came to photograph the event. I could peek through the window and I caught a few glimpses of him and instantly I fell in love. They put him in a bassinet and wheeled him upstairs to the nursery. We were able to stay in the nursery with him the whole time. He had a lot of trouble breathing at first and I was terrified. His lungs had some liquid in them from being delivered by c-section so he had to be monitored very closely. He had a little trouble maintaining his temperature, so he was under a heat lamp. Then they added some oxygen near his face and he started doing much better. We tried for an hour to get him to cry so that he would work some of the gunk out of his lungs, but no success. He just wanted to sleep. :)

After his numbers were a little more stable, the nurses decided to give him a bath. I got to help a little, but the nurses in the nursery are much more about getting down to business than doddling around. After he was washed and dried and put into his clothes, Robby and I decided it was ok to leave him at that time for some lunch. We ran and grabbed some lunch and were back within an hour. It was too hard to be away from him.

When we got back, the nurses asked if I wanted to hold him. UMMMMM.... OF COURSE!!!!! The second he was placed in my arms, his breathing normalized and he just nuzzled in. He even wanted a binky to suck on. Robby got to hold him too and Joey continued to get better and better at breathing. The nurses told us he was probably hungry so I was able to give him his first bottle. He sucked that thing down so fast. After he was fed, he was released into our room. Robby and I were able to stay in a Nesting room in the hospital just a few doors down from the nursery. It was so nice to be able to have peace and quiet and bond with our new baby boy.

That night, we just sat and cuddled him and just enjoyed the peace and quiet. My mom came into town to help Grace and brought her over to meet Joey. Grace wasn't so sure about him at first, but she definitely warmed up more to him. She didn't like when I held him and was very clingy to me. She went home with my mom, and I cried. I didn't want her to go, but I didn't want to leave Joey. Already I could feel my heart growing in my love for 2 babies.

After she left, Robby and I kept Joey in our room until midnight and then he went back to the nursery. We got a good night's rest (as good as you can on a hospital bed or a recliner chair) and then went and got Joey the next morning bright and early. He spent all day with us. Kirsten was able to come visit us and see Joey. It was hard to see her heart break, but there is no denying how much she loves him.

After 2 nights, they decided it was ok to let Joey go home with us. Robby drove, my mom sat in the front, and I squished in between the two car seats. I was really happy to be there between my two little loves though. Grace held my hand the whole way and Joey slept.

We found out from our caseworker that Kirsten was going to sign on Saturday. We took Joey home on Tuesday. For 4 long days and nights, we hoped and prayed that Joey would be ours. It is incredible hard to feel yourself be so in love with this tiny person and then not know if they will be a part of your family. But Kirsten assured me daily that she wasn't going back on her decision so we just had to have faith. We prayed for Kirsten too that she would feel peace, and when we saw her Saturday, we could tell she did.

Saturday was incredible. Kirsten and her husband signed the papers relinquishing their rights and asked that we be in the room with them. They had smiles the whole time. We signed our papers and they took Joey to get some snuggles with him. We gathered in our caseworkers office with my mom, Grace, Kirsten, Leonard, our caseworker, the adoption manager and his wife, and two of Kirsten and Leonard's friends. The spirit was very strong and everyone was very emotional. Leonard read a letter they wrote to Joey and gave us a copy with a picture of Leonard giving Joey to me at the hospital. We gave Leonard his first set of LDS scriptures and gave Kirsten a picture of Joseph holding Jesus. We have a matching copy that is in Joey's room. We also gave her a Willow Tree angel that is signing Love. We love teaching Grace to sign and I know we will teach Joey too so that is why I chose it.

We were able to tell Kirsten and Leonard how grateful we are for them and for Joey. I watched Kirsten sob as we had to leave. That is the hardest thing about adoption. I watched her break her own heart for our son. She loves Joey so much, and wanted to give him more than she could provide.

I get a lot of questions about why they chose adoption and wanted to share a little of that part too. Kirsten met us in July, 14 weeks pregnant. She began talking with an old friend (Leonard) and they hit it off really well. Due to some bad circumstances with where she was living, she moved in with him. They quickly fell in love. She and Leonard were taking missionary discussions for the LDS church and were considering becoming baptized. The missionaries encouraged them to get married first, so October 1st, Kirsten and Leonard were married.

Leonard is not Joey's biological father, but in Arizona, the laws are that if the birth mother is married, the husband is the legal father. So Leonard had to sign relinquishment papers too. And he loves Joey. He supported Kirsten through the last 20 weeks of her pregnancy. He kept her fed, helped with her IVs, and stayed awake with her while she was in pain. So we call him Joey's birth father. We have not met Joey's biological father, but we may correspond with him in the future.

We love being a family of 4. There are definitely challenges (I write this sick with a cold/sore throat, Grace has a double ear infection, Joey is going through a growth spurt, and Robby is trying to find a new job), but I wouldn't trade this for anything. I am so grateful for the path that we have been led on. I'm grateful for all the trials that I've had that have made me stronger. I'm grateful for amazing birth parents and the sacrifices they make for their children. Even though a little over 3 years ago, we were told we wouldn't be able to get pregnant, we now have 2 amazing children. We are VERY blessed.