David and Lara's Adventures

Our journey through life, infertility, and adoption

Saturday, October 28, 2017

“To live will be an awfully big adventure.” –Peter Pan

The dream started last year when David came home telling me about a podcast he listened to about a family that bought a boat in France and spent the year traveling through the canals. I thought “why do they get to have so much fun? I want to do that!” Then I found a book about a family that traveled the world for a year with small kids. Again, why can’t we do that? The final push came when David and I separately started listening to a book called, “You are a badass.” It’s as cool as it sounds. One section poses the question of what do you value in life? What do you enjoy? And how are you going to make it happen? So we started to think more strategically about how we could make it happen. We explored when it would be best for the kids. Next school year worked out to be the best. So, with our 10 seconds of courage one Sunday night, we composed an email to the HR person at the school to ask about a leave of absence. It was approved a week ago! I guess it’s official- WE ARE GOING TO TRAVEL AROUND THE WORLD FOR A YEAR! What. I can’t believe I can write that. And it’s possible it won’t actually be the whole world. Our sights are set on Europe. My sights are set on Italy. But I’ll take whatever I can get. Our goal is for David to teach at an international school for a year, and that would give us time (and money) to travel every chance we could get on weekends and school breaks. Of course, if we could make it work, not working and slow traveling around Europe sounds magical. We are still working out the details, obviously.

This does mean that we want to fire up our blog again! We want to keep a record of all we are doing and we’ve had several people ask if we would keep up with one so they could keep up with us.

We are excited. And terrified. And overwhelmed at all the possibilities. The courage to dream big will always pay off though. This, I think, will be the adventure of a lifetime.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The summer of awesomeness.

It has been awhile since we talked about our lives. I think having an infant may have something to do with having the ability to update more often...

Graydon continues to be our joy. Not that I am surprised. His smiles heal my heart and make me beam with pride. I am one lucky mama to be able to parent this boy. He is changing so much every day. I love watching him learn, and do new tricks. He is crazy close to rolling over, but it still might take awhile. Since, well, he has a lot of weight to roll with him. He loves to smile, talk loudly, and be just in a diaper. I fear we might have a very energetic child on our hands. It is a good thing we have been working out, so we can keep up with him.

This summer has been everything we have dreamt it would be. The three of us have traveled to and through so many states, and have showed our little boy off to almost all of our family. It melts my heart to see how quickly people fall for this guy. We showed Grady the mountains of North Carolina, while showing him off to our family, and spent time with grandparents and special friends in Ohio. We celebrated (with lots of family) a cousins first year of life, and said a special goodbye to my Dad. We visited a self proclaimed favorite aunt and uncle in Indiana, went to summer camp in Pennsylvania, a youth rally in Kentucky, a friends house in Arkansas, and visited cousins (and their parents) in Louisiana. Then we spent time with friends from Texas, and, finally, sent my little sister off to college. It was packed. It was beautiful. And it made us feel filled.

Now, onto another school year! 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Same <-> Different

Camp Judson has been a bright spot in our summer for many years now. (And many years before that for David) We were handed the director titles from two amazing people, and this year will make our 5th year. We love planning, dreaming, and participating in camp. This year will make it interesting with an infant, but I have a good feeling we will have LOTS of help.
We decided to post the theme on our blog because, well, it is public, and we wanted to get it out there. This year camp will be August 7-12. It is a little later, but still falls the first actual week of August. 
We often sit and reflect on our year when coming up with ideas for camp. Whether it is selfish or not, we like the theme to reflect the overtones of our year. This time, we struggled to find one that didn’t scare off the younger crowd. We are broken, and we are hurting.  We have had our darkest moments in the earliest parts of this season.
Then came April, and we watched the birth of our son. It was our “spring.” Where God makes all things new. God was able to take the broken parts of our hearts and start to make them whole again. He turned our mourning into dancing.
But that dancing doesn’t mean we are done mourning. We are just learning to dance in the rain. We are still allowing Jesus to pick up every hurting part of us and put them back together again.
Now for the reason for the theme. We chose it because with each change from our year, we kept saying everything is the same, yet everything is different. The world still looked exactly the same, yet we were in our dark corner, trying to just breathe.
We said goodbye suddenly to our close friend. This made everything different. We said goodbye to my dad, watching as he took his last breath. This made everything different. And we welcomed our son into the world. This made everything different.
Above all, we are reminded of a man that died on a tree many, many years ago. This made EVERYTHING different.
And yet, everything is still the same. God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. He was there in the woods when Jeremy’s heart failed, and he was there when we first breathed the word, cancer, in relation to my dad. He was there when our birthmom gave us our son. And He is here. Right here, right now.
We are praying this week will be a powerful one. We are continually healing, and we know that all of us find ourselves in very different places. Whether in a peak or a valley, we celebrate that He made everything different.

So, who wants to come? (Cue smile)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Second Call

April 2, 2011 (Told by David)

 5:20 a.m.  The alarm sounds.  Well, it’s actually the phone ringing, but it sounds strangely like a fog horn going off since we recently changed ur birthmother’s, ringtone to stand out from all other phone calls.  Being almost a week overdue, our hearts would stand still every time the phone rang the previous week.  It was her cousin on the phone telling us that G's birthmother was in active labor and that Graydon was going to be coming soon.  They had waited on calling us sooner because they didn’t want it to be a false alarm.  It took us only 20 minutes to get out the door.  We had prepared for this moment.  The base of the car seat had been sitting in the car for the last week and a half.  The diaper bag that housed Graydon’s first outfits had been sitting prepared in the kitchen next to our bag of clothes.  Showers, a quick walk up and down the street for Mya, and we were in the car at 5:40.  Could this really be happening?  This moment that we had been waiting for years to arrive had finally come.  We called parents and told them we were in route, and that we would keep them posted. 

6:30 am.  We arrived at the hospital and quickly found labor and delivery room 5.  This is where Graydon was going to enter the world.  G's birthmother’s aunt answered our knock on the door. She had recently had an epidural and welcomed us in.  Our relationship had grown over shared meals and emails the last few months, and made Graydon’s birthday feel very natural.  G's birthmother was tired as she had gotten to the hospital around 7 hours earlier and so after spending a few moments catching up with her (who was very much drugged at the time) we gave her much needed time to rest.  During this time we got to spend a lot of time getting to know G's birthmother’s aunt and cousin.  We were overwhelmed by the kindness both of them showed us, and the strong support they were offering her especially during this tough time.  We got to spend more time with G's birthmother and meet her doula who was there to help be a coach during Graydon’s birth.

10:30 am.  Though we grabbed the box of Life cereal before we left the house, we left the labor and delivery room to get a more substantial breakfast from the cafĂ© downstairs. 

This was in the cafe, right before we walked back to labor and delivery

11:00 am We got back and they told us she was fully dilated and ready to push within the hour.  This was really happening.  What do you say to a woman who is about to give birth to a child?  We realized we hadn’t prepared for this moment.  We chose, “good luck” and “you go girl” and gave her a final “we’ll be praying for you,” which seemed most appropriate.  We walked out the door, sat on a ledge across the hall from the delivery room and did just that.  We prayed for God to give her strength to finish this marathon of a day.  We prayed for a healthy boy and a healthy tummy mommy.  We prayed for the emotional rollercoaster that G's birthmother would be on and continues to be on. 

And then we played battleship on Lara’s phone.  David won.  However, Lara will say that she was winning until Opa texted for an update and we had to start over.

We got updates from a resident, “things are progressing really well.”  And a little later, “we have a head.”  How giddy were we at this moment?

12:49 pm.  Graydon arrives.  His cry is the most beautiful sound we’ve ever heard.  Lara and I look at each other and can hardly believe this dream has become a reality.  As we hear Graydon’s cries, our tears come.  The door opens and closes with nurses and doctors leaving.  We can see Graydon’s feet kicking while he’s getting cleaned up.  The resident returns to give us the stats:

“9 pounds and 21 inches”

Lara gets welcomed into the room to hold him.  G's birthmother wanted to first see Graydon in Lara’s chosen arms, before she held him.  Graydon’s eyes fixed on Lara, as she carried him over to meet his tummy mommy.  Lara retelling these moments to me was incredible. 

Knowing Lara was getting to meet him and see his face, and hold him was a little torturous as I continued to sit, now alone in the hallway.  Nurses popped their heads around the corner from the nurse’s station to offer “congratulations dad!”  Wow!  Being called a dad for the first time was awesome.  I was welcomed in to meet Graydon who was getting his first bottle from Lara.  What a beautiful sight.  We had to keep pinching ourselves.  We each (Lara, G's birthmother, and I) took our turns holding baby Graydon.  There is absolutely no other feeling that has come close to this.  Time passed as we stared at this beautiful boy, took pictures, and called eager grandparents, and texted others so that we could get on to loving this boy. 

Our first family photo

2:30 pm We are all moved to the regular rooms and we hear the lullaby playing over the speakers. Only this time, it is for us.

What followed after was a whirlwind of getting settled, grabbing dinner (which happened to be Little Ceaser’s pizza and breadsticks…we only had a little bit of time and we were so hungry…so, don’t judge our celebratory dinner), and spending time with our birthmom and  her family.

11:00 pm Graydon receives his first bath. His hair was so curly and we got to see his little body for the first time. We put on his first outfit, and, after a hearing test, we starting our first night together.

We traded off feeding and changing diapers every 3 hours, as well as trading hospital beds and pull out chairs. And after a few rounds of feeding, we awoke to our nurse telling us goodbye, since her shift was over, and we realized, we made it! We survived our first night of parenthood. And we did it with smiles on our faces. We loved every moment of waking up in the middle of the night to see Graydon’s little face waiting for us. Well, he was waiting for food, but we can pretend he was waiting for us.

April 3, 2011 (Told by Lara)

We got ourselves together and walked down the hallway to see G's birthmother again. We were excited to tell her how our night had gone and to see how she was recovering. We ate our breakfast along side her, and then, after a few hours, took our little boy back to our room so we could shower and all change to get ready to go home. I was able to talk to my family, since they had left on a cruise the night before and were out of cell phone signal by the time I was able to talk. Thankfully the cruise’s first stop was Key West!

And then the time came to say goodbye. It wasn’t nearly as emotional as I was prepared for it to be. We took pictures together and we talked about when we could see her again. As we hugged her goodbye, our parting words were expressions of gratitude we felt incapable of expressing. This woman gave us our dream, and she just was wheeled out the door empty handed. Our hearts break with her, at times. Our joy, is her sadness. What keeps coming up for her is that the hospital wasn’t goodbye. It was just the beginning of a new journey. We love open adoption!

As we walked Graydon back to our room, we watched as she was wheeled down the hallway. We had to change his clothes due to a wardrobe malfunction, (who knew you had to teach little boys to aim in the first days of life?) and we were okayed by the nurse to go. My perception of leaving was that we would have to be wheeled down the hallway by a nurse to a waiting car. So, imagine my surprise when the nurse cut off his ankle bracelet and said, “you are free to go.” I think I asked if we were allowed to just carry him in the carseat. I got a strange expression back, saying that as long as he had a car seat, we could just walk out. The nurse left, and David and I looked at each other thinking, “are they sure?”

The ride home was a rollercoaster. I shut my door, smiled for a picture, found directions home, and then reflected on the moment that had just occurred. Every door that was closed, every failed pregnancy test, every tear, and every piece of paper we filled out came flooding in. This was our moment, the one we waited for. The little boy sitting next to me was worth every second. It really is amazing how something so little can heal so many broken pieces.

Just a few Friday’s ago, we saw G's birthmom for the first time since the hospital. It catches me off guard how normal it feels to see her. She is a part of us. We met her for lunch, because she had her court date that morning. She has officially given us the right to parent Graydon. It feels good for that date to pass. We can now more officially call him our son. This day didn’t change anything in our hearts, but it was an important day. She commented on how big he had gotten and how old he looked. She held him almost the entire time. I wonder, if people heard our conversations, what they thought of us in the restaurant. We signed an openness agreement, and that was it. We will see her again soon. We still have to keep reminding ourselves that he is ours. Seeing Graydon’s cute face makes me smile, every time.

He is officially ours!

And the journey just keeps on going. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Ready and waiting...

We had dinner with G's birth mom last night, and really enjoyed another night of getting to know her. We seriously love that we know her. She painted something for the baby room and it is impressive! It has a jungle theme, with vibrant colors, and it all seems to match the room. I love it when things work out when you aren’t even planning them too! We will try to post a picture when we hang it up. It was done with crayon and water colors, and the texture is really neat. We ended up getting it out of the car before we had dinner, and David pulled up our car so it didn’t get rained on. We transferred it over, along with a few extra gifts, and G's birth mom and I walked into the restaurant together. She has put her arm around me as we chatted about the cute giraffe she bought Graydon, and walked away together. In that moment, everything felt right. David said he smiled as he saw us walking away. Two moms, both knowing each other because of one little boy. It is really amazing to watch our story play our right in front of us. While it was never the journey we expected, it is a ride we are embracing.

This Thursday marks a year exactly since I was sat down in a tiny room, with a urologist I just met, telling me the possibility of us having children together was impossible. I have reflected on that moment all week. Reliving some of the pain, still stunned that we are here, a year later in a very different place. We were different people when we walked into that urologist’s office. We walked out changed. Our path hit a dead end, and we were kneeling at the sign, not ready to stand up again.  And we didn’t stand up right away. We grieved. We held on to each other, and we did our best to heal. And we decided adoption would be the way to grow our family. I’m thankful for our choice. God took us out of the ashes, and made our path beautiful again.

Infertility is quite the beast. Maybe not compared to some things, but it is still a beast. It still affects me in ways I am not always prepared for. I feel very out of place in groups of women that talk about child birth. Not that I don’t mind the stories, but I can’t help feeling like I am the odd one out. It’s hard to hear pregnant women complain about their aches and pains...knowing I would trade anything to walk in their shoes. Mostly we still mourn the easiness that most experience when growing a family. Our journey takes a lot of money, time, and paperwork. Our “labor” just looks different, I guess. It happens every time we give up time together for David to tutor, so we can pay for our adoption without any debt, our countless hours filling out paperwork (which became my homework) and meetings at the agency.

We are now less than a week away from the due date. It seems to be all we can talk about. What will he look like? What will the hospital experience look like? WHEN will my phone ring with her on the other line saying labor has started? We have (I’m sure) all the questions, dreams, and fears of every other first time parent. And we are still cautious in our feelings. Guarding ourselves for the possibility of what could happen if she decides to parent. In so many ways, this little boy feels like ours, even though we have only felt him kick. Soon, and very soon we will get to meet him face to face. It is very unreal that we are so close. Almost three years of waiting, pleading, praying.

To say we are excited is even an understatement. We have cleaned every nook and cranny, there are tons of meals in our freezer, the hospital bag is packed, and the car seat is waiting in the kitchen. Now, we just need the phone to ring!

The poem that I wanted to close with is one I read in the scrapbook Graydon’s birth mom made for him. Along with this, she put in pictures and stories from each side of his family. We learned a lot, and it will be neat to share it with him along the way. And it has lots of space for pictures that we can add as we all grow. I liked it, and thought I would share:

Legacy of An Adopted Child
Author Unknown

Once there were two women,
Who barely knew each other.
One is in your heart forever,
The other you’ll call mother.

Two different lives,
Shaped to make yours one.
One became your guiding star,
The other became your sun.

The first gave you life,
And the second taught you how to live it.
The first gave you a need for love,
And the second was there to give it.

One gave you a nationality,
The other gave you a name.
One gave you the seed of talent,
The other gave you an aim.

One gave you emotions,
The other calmed your fears.
One saw your first sweet smile,
The other dried your tears.

One gave you a family,
It was what God intended for her to do.
The other prayed for a child,
And God led her straight to you.

And now you ask me
Through your tears,
The age old question through the years.
Heredity or environment…
Which are you a product of?
Neither, my darling… neither,
Just two different kinds of love.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

A new stage

I promise that not every blog post will always be about grief. It just happens to be what is on my heart, most of the time. I have entered a new stage lately in my grief process. It is the, oh my, this really happened, and there is nothing I can do to change it stage. I’m sure there is a much better name for it, but I think mine is much more descriptive. (Cue sly smile)

I have laid awake the last few nights almost marveling at the way my brain is trying to understand my loss. I repeat the same images over and over again, almost trying to convince myself of my new reality without my dad. I feel like there is a Mr. Magoo is my head (with his bottle top glasses, looking ever so closely) picking up the pieces of me, inspecting them, dusting them off, and trying to put them back together. I have shifted from the I miss him (like I haven’t seen him in a few months) to the I miss him like I will never see him again. And it breaks my heart every time. Donna (my wonderful step-mom) brought my “dad” to visit me. I decided to keep him, during his “visit” in the baby room, since that is where he would want to be. I walked him upstairs, sat in the rocking chair, and wept harder than I ever have. I clutched that urn full of burned remnants of my dad, and really mourned what I was actually losing. Not just a dad, but a grandpa for my child.  And while I was rocking back and forth one name came to mind and I repeated it over and over…Jesus.* Jesus, the one who heals, who is there, and who washes over us again and again.

I keep listening to a song by Jimmy Needham called the Gospel. The lyrics talk about just letting the words of the Gospel wash over us. I have run in the opposite direction of the peace that awaits me in the arms of Jesus. I feel too broken to be peaceful. But, then, Jesus waits, watches, and walks just by my side. I remember my friend, Veronica, after losing her husband, writing that God would rather us yell at Him, than not be speaking at all. (You can read her story at Everyday Kings) I like that, mostly because I am doing my fair share of yelling. So, here we are, yelling, pleading, and wanting desperately to be able to stand on our own two feet again. And sometimes forgetting just to be silent, and be calmed by our Creator. I especially like what the song says here:

The Gospel, the Gospel
Fragrance in words
The sea of my soul
Is calmed when it’s heard
Peace to the broken
The captives set free
May the Gospel of Jesus
Wash over me

Now, I am not pretending that my last few months have been full of clutching to the Gospel. In fact, the past few months have been confusing in our faith walk. We are asking big questions, and the why’s are still unanswered. But, and there is a big BUT, (yes, I did just say that, but don’t read it with an extra T) in all of our questions, Jesus still remains the same. His sacrifice still the same.

The last part of the song talks about breathing in with faith and out with His peace. So for today, that will be my mantra. And may the Gospel of Jesus just wash over us.

*Now before I take too much credit, the actual pratice of this was demonstrated for me by a friend in my share group during a great trial in her life. I have been so blessed to know my share group, full of people that have walked the same difficult roads, and are right there by my side. 

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Mushy Brains

On more than one occasion the past few weeks, I have had someone ask if I was the one having the baby. My brain has literally gone to mush. I forget what I am saying mid sentence, and I am not remembering what I am doing from moment to moment sometimes. My brain is seriously overwhelmed. So, I guess it is not just pregnancy that makes your mind go before you have a child!  

Another contender to my “pregnancy brain” is a new pal I like to call grief. And, wow, is it always present. I spend hours thinking about my dad, about our crazy year of loss, and find myself in the midst of pain; which leaves me wondering how everything can be so different. I looked in the mirror today, and had trouble finding the person I knew. Not because I am looking at someone I don’t like, but because I am looking at someone I don’t know. The barren couple, the couple who lost their friend, the daughter who lost her daddy… I feel like I am watching my life happen to someone else, and when I realize it’s me, the numbness takes over. Grief is exhausting. Grief is hard. And yet, it is one of the most healing and meaningful experiences of my life, thus far. I have found comfort in the words of a book I have been reading, On Grief and Grieving. (We would both highly recommend it!) “The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal, and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again, but you will never be the same.”

During those breaks of numbness, I’m left with a profound sense of thankfulness of what I do have. (I told you it was a meaningful process.) I owe a lot to my sister, who talks to me every day, replacing the talks I had with my dad on my way home while he was sick. (Well, my dad and I talked a lot before that, but not always on a daily basis) And my mom, who makes sure I check in every few days, just so she can hear in my voice that I am okay. My family, every branch of them, seriously rocks! And David, my main squeeze. My marriage to David is, hands down, my favorite thing about this life. He has been there in every way I have needed him to be. Wrapping his arms around me in the moments I have needed them, and remembering to ask deeper questions when all I can express are tears. The other day, I was cutting up meat for dinner, and just burst into tears. Not my usual reaction to cutting meat, but I am quite unpredictable to myself these days. He quickly got up from what he was doing to give me a kiss on the cheek and just held on for a second.

The reason for the tears was one cute little boy named Owen. (Don’t worry, I will explain in a moment) His parents are our best friends, and they graciously let us watch him for the weekend. It was a nice practice run for our impending parenthood. He came out unharmed, well rested, and well fed, so I guess we passed the test. J It was fun to play parents for a day and dream about what our lives will look like in just over a month. Now, to explain to tears…watching that little boy walk around my house saying our names just melts my heart. (We are wawa and day-day) This is enough to prompt tears, but they came from a different place this time. For a moment, I was just a little girl who wanted her dad. I wanted to be that little, walking around with so much innocence and so much joy. I wanted to just be loved like crazy by the people around me and that would be enough. And loving like crazy is a trait I always remember about my dad. Was he perfect? Oh, definitely not. But did he teach me what loving like crazy looked like? YES!  Life just gets complicated as we grow up. But, I guess that doesn’t mean that growing up isn’t worth is, it just means that we learn to mourn because we learned to love.

I thought I would leave you with some pictures of our nursery. It is definitely a work in progress and we are still trying to find time to paint some canvases for artwork on the walls. (You will see pieces of paper taped to the wall, which will eventually be those canvases.) It is ready for our baby though! The middle picture even shows the car seat with the packed baby bag all ready to go. Bring it on!