Tuesday, May 24, 2016

A Walk Down Memory Lane Part 6

A tough year of marriage had ended on a positive note. But we knew we might still have a tough year ahead of us!  I was quite naive to believe that our adoption process would be simple and easy.  I was naive to believe that I would be able to handle the waiting well.  While I had struggled to be patient in the year previous, the hardest part of our journey to parenthood was still ahead of us.  

I was determined to finish the paperwork and home study process as fast as humanly possible.  I was determined to get on the wait list in record time!  If it wasn't for just one darn delay in the fact that my fingerprints would not go through the system and kept coming back unreadable!  It took 3 times to get our state to accept my prints and every time, we lost weeks of time in the process. In my heart I understood it would all work out in the exact time necessary to match us with our child, but in that moment it was making me very angry! 

Fortunately we had a fun vacation to distract me from the process! We headed off to Disneyland with my family for a little vacation away. Hopefully the last one before we would have a baby joining us!  I continued to fall more and more in love with my husband as we were growing closer together through the wait to become parents. This time was not easy on either one of us but a new passion was growing in our hearts and bringing us even closer together in the process!  

The fall was a very busy time in the adoption process as we tried to pull all the paperwork together, but we still tried to enjoy the time we had left as a family of two. Yes, I was quite distracted with wanting our baby home, but we still had fun times as a couple to enjoy together. We knew our lives and our marriage were about to be changed considerably and while we longed to finally be parents, we took advantage of the time we had just the two of us! 

And finally, come late October we were paperwork ready! It took a lot of waiting for the components to come together and that was frustrating as it felt like one more aspect of becoming parents that was completely out of our control, The paper chase was finally over and the official wait to meet our child was ahead of us!  

 We received our very first wait list numbers and ironically the waiting just became harder and harder the closer we got. The timeline we were told to expect was 1-3 months before our match. This would end up being a bit more optimistic than it should have been. As someone who had already waited years to get my husband to agree to start our family and then a year of trying to get pregnant with no success, and then 6 months in the adoption process, I was completely over waiting! 

I will forever be grateful to our families for how they helped us out and were there for us. It's silly to think back on now, but while Peter and I were 100% into adopting, I expected there to be some level of disappointment or time needed for our families to come on board with the idea. We understood the typical announcement would be a pregnancy announcement, not an adoption announcement. But our families were right there with us through the whole process and were falling in love with our baby half a world away right along side us! 

As the new year approached, I was just thrilled to know I was going to become a mom sometime in 2010!  As our wait passed the 2 month mark, I still expected the call to be coming soon. You'd think by now I would have guarded my heart a little bit better, but I was so eager to be a mommy that I wasn't exactly thinking through things logically. 

And the wait did indeed continue and continue.  Referrals were steady but things were moving slower than we anticipated.  The wait passed 3 months, then 4 months, then 5 months. 

We tried to enjoy the moments, we really did.  We spent lots of time praying for our baby.  We did the usual tasks of preparing a room and arguing over baby name suggestions.  I couldn't wait to know the age and gender so I could finally go shop!  It was a very exciting time in our lives as we finally got to prepare a room for the little one who would soon be joining our home. We couldn't wait to get the call telling us all about this little person as we wondered about when we would be traveling to get him or her! 

And then the wait passed 6 months. I was getting REALLY tired of waiting to become a mother by this point in time.  I knew it would happen and I knew that there was a reason for the wait but those facts did not make the wait any easier.  I was completely frustrated with the fact that my phone just would not ring with news for me. It is so silly, but so true and I know other adoptive mom's get it too! Having experienced pregnancy and adoption a few times, that open ended wait of adoption is just really, really hard to deal with! 

Then the wait was over!  And that was the most amazing day of my life and words couldn't even describe how it felt after waiting so long to be a mom! Years of longing ended in that single moment! My prayers had been answered with a few simple words on the other end of the phone "I have a baby boy I would like to talk to you about."  That was a moment I will never, ever forget. I couldn't hold back the tears!  He finally had a name, he finally had a birth date, and as I raced home as fast as possible to check my email, I saw the most beautiful little face I had ever seen. All those years of waiting and I was finally a mommy!  It was love at first sight and I loved him in a way I had never ever loved another person! In a matter of seconds we had become parents! 

Then we got to fill out the best kind of paperwork.  Paperwork saying YES, we wanted him to be our son! We wanted to get that turned around as fast as possible because there were policy changes happening that would require us to travel twice and the idea of meeting him and then having to leave him was far too much for my heart to handle! 

As joyful as we were on that day, the waiting just got harder. Now that we had seen his face and he was a REAL person, knowing he was in an orphanage and not with us was really difficult. There were many sleepless nights as I sat in his nursery rocking chair praying over him and wishing him home. The updates were basically non existent as we waited for our court date and I just longed to know anything about what was happening in his world. Fortunately there were a few families traveling over that got us pictures during this phase of the wait. 

 As our court date drew near, I did something I had been waiting a long time to do! Another dream of mine from the beginning of our marriage was coming true.  I was able to quit my job in anticipation of getting to be a stay at home mom!  The hard work in our early years of marriage had paid off.  We worked hard together to get Peter through college and build his career and now he was able to sustain us and allow me to pursue my dream of staying home and caring for our babies!

Yes, I said babies.  In late June something started to feel a bit "off" for me.  I had just quit my job a few weeks earlier, a job that forced me to get up at 4:30 every morning.  Now I had the ability to sleep as late as I wanted until Malachi came home, and yet I was more exhausted than I had ever felt before. I should also preface this to say that as part of our adoption agreement we had to agree to avoid pregnancy, so the idea of being pregnant was not even on our radar.   Taking a pregnancy test and seeing a negative had become quite routine for me, so I don't even know why, but I decided to take one anyway. By this point I was so used to taking them and seeing one line that I didn't even worry about checking them right away. So imagine my complete surprise when I took a test, sat it on the counter for hours, only to walk back by it and see two lines!  I had never seen THAT before!

After taking a few more tests, I couldn't wipe the smile off my face!  I was pregnant! We were going to have two babies! It was unbelievable but so, so wonderful! All my dreams were coming true at the same time!  Life could not have been any better!  I was so blessed! 

Unfortunately while we were overwhelmed with joy, the days were still hard. There was nothing more that we wanted than to have our son in our arms.Court was typically a smooth process, but for us it was a long process filled with many delays. After our 4th court date, I couldn't handle the bad news anymore. I broke down on the phone with our case worker. I just wanted my baby home!  I know they were doing everything they could over there to get our case cleared, but the delays were hard and they were for such silly things. A judge not being at court, power outages, an extra document that they never needed but wanted for our case.  It seemed ridiculous and the weeks of waiting just piled on! 

Finally the news came!  We had passed court and he was officially and legally our son, our first baby Keyser! I could let out my first sigh of relief in this entire process.  We would be traveling in about a month to bring him home!  That month was kind of a blur for me as I was miserably sick with morning sickness, to the point where I could hardly function.  As travel got closer and closer, I was really worried about how I would handle traveling for 32 hours with morning sickness!  

We took the opportunity we had to go away for a few days for a little "baby moon".  We celebrated Peter's birthday and our 4th anniversary all in one!  The trip is still kind of a blur being in my first trimester state and scrambling to prepare to go get our baby boy!  For some reason the only memories I have of this trip were drinking a lot of slushies from Dairy Queen to keep the sickness at bay. 

Before we left for Ethiopia, introductions to the littlest member of the family needed to be made.  Even though the pregnancy symptoms were very apparent, I was terrified that something would be wrong with the pregnancy.  I was so relieved to see a beautiful, tiny little heart beating away on that ultrasound machine! It felt like everything I ever wanted in life was coming true. I had an incredible, hard working and loving husband who was about to become a daddy! I was going to be a stay at home mom, my dream of adopting was coming true, and my dream of a sweet baby growing inside of me was coming true too. After a few tough years, we were on the mountain top and life couldn't have been any better! 

I got an official due date of March 4th and some tips from my doctor on how to handle the travel with the do's and the don'ts of taking care of myself and our little one in a 3rd world country. Things were about to get really interesting! 

The end of that year of marriage could not have ended on a better note!  On our 4th anniversary we were celebrating all of the good in our lives. Our marriage was going wonderful, we had weathered the storms and the waiting of the last couple years.  I had a precious life growing inside of me  and in just a few short days we would be traveling around the world together to meet our baby boy for the first time.  I knew the next year would be amazing! I didn't know how badly I would need my husband to be my rock and help me in the year ahead, but just as steadily as ever I knew he'd be there for me no matter what! 

Monday, May 23, 2016

New Orleans Part 4

Then it was our last day in the city. I was able to do one of my favorite things - sleep in, while Peter went off to his last morning of his conference. Around lunchtime we took off to explore the city a little.  I had found one of the top restaurants in town and we decided to check it out, only to unfortunately end up quite disappointed. But we got in our exercise hiking over there! Then we hiked back the other way and explored the touristy part of NOLA. 

We eventually got pretty worn out from walking so we headed back to the room to chill out for the evening before we had to head home the next morning. Our evening was quite thrilling as some pretty big storms hit the region. 

After we were finally able to get to sleep in the evening, we got up and had one last breakfast of beignets!  Seriously, when the hotel you are staying in has their own Cafe Du Monde right under it, you may eat a lot more beignets than you ever should!  And I can say with certainty as we tried a few different shops, Cade Du Monde for the win if you're in NOLA! 

It was fun to get to see a different part of the country than I have been in before. Seeing New Orleans was on my bucket list and I'm glad that I got to see it. I don't have any overwhelming desire to return.  It's just not our style of city.  It was great to catch up with Megan and see where's she's living. I got to cross 3 more states off my list of states I've visited and of course any opportunity I can have to get away with my husband I will take advantage of.  So overall it was a fun trip to see someplace new! 

Sunday, May 22, 2016

New Orleans Part 3

After another night in Mississippi, it was time for me to head back towards Louisiana.  But before I rejoined my husband in New Orleans, we still had a bit more exploring to do.  Now through our journey's I was still yet to find a city that I really liked.  But as we drove to Baton Rouge that day, it seemed like it could be a decent city, although LSU might be the reason it was so beautiful and I liked it so much. 

We took a little bit of time to explore the LSU campus, met a nice security guard and chatted with a few other staff members when we met Mike the Tiger! I did appreciate how nice and kind the people seemed everywhere we visited! 

Mike the Tiger's home! 

Eli's bunny outside the stadium 

And after searching and searching the enclosure we finally found Mr Mike sleeping in a corner. One of the staff passing by told us that he had spent the week at a vet and had just returned that morning, so I guess we were lucky to get to see him. 

Then it was time to head back towards New Orleans, with a stop at Nottoway Plantation on the way. 

The Plantation was very impressive but the history of it all just still made me kind of cringe. Especially as the tour tried to put a very white spin on the the history of slavery, that really kind of bothered me. But I guess it was kind of fun to see the history of how the rich lived back in the day. 

And then we took the back woods country to New Orleans.  We passed oil refinery after oil refinery. We were definitely in the midst of blue collar America here, from the homes to the obvious places of employment. But it was a cool part of the country that I certainly would have never expected to see.  

And then I was returned safely to my wonderful husband who was wrapping up his work conference by this point in the week so we could have a little bit of time just the two of us before heading home!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

New Orleans Part 2

We slept in a bit the next morning and then had to make a decision on our day. As I quickly learned, the weather down there is completely unpredictable.  In general, I think we had a perfect week of weather for our trip. It wasn't too hot as it was pretty overcast, the humidity was relatively low (at least for this part of the county) and there was usually a breeze with temps in the low 80's that just kept things generally comfortable. 

I had really wanted to go go Pensacola and play on a nice beach. The forecast for Pensacola was looking a bit iffy but we decided since that was the plan to just head out there and see what happens. This ended up being a very good decision as Mississippi became a total mess and we wouldn't have even been able to leave the house if we had stayed there. They had severe thunder storms, tornado warnings and flash flood warnings all day.  While by the time we drove through Alabama and got to Pensacola, the forecast for Pensacola was great and we were able to have a very pleasant day on the beach! 

Of course our day had to start off at Waffle House where we were served way more food than we could ever eat, but the price is so cheap that you order it anyway! Yes, I know it's not the best food but seriously, is is a must stop once per trip when in the south.  

Then it was off on the couple hour drive to Pensacola.  Pensacola will forever be a special city to me so it was fun to get to go there and revisit some old memories.  We also had plenty to talk about on the drive as Megan and I hadn't seen each other since Christmas. 

The weather was overcast but that made the beach perfect!  It was still warm but had a pleasant breeze and I still ended up sunburned.  We just had a fun time walking the beach and putting our feed in the amazingly soft sand and warm ocean water! 

Of course the critters had to come with us too!

It was a really wonderful day and as most of our other trips to Florida haven't been my favorite, it was nice to finally have a glimpse of the Florida that everyone loves. It was really beautiful and I can understand why the pan handle is such a popular vacation spot!  

Then we drove the long drive back to Mississippi for the night. Fortunately by the time we rolled back into town close to 8:00, the storms had all passed and we had another pleasant night!