SOOTHING WAVES FROM OUR BEACH TRIP

This summer the twins have really loved the pool. On vacation they just wanted to go to the pool and not the beach, but we forced them to go to the beach as well. The twins that we went with on vacation go under the water and swim without any devices. Mine do not do that and I tried to encourage them to get their head under and move their bodies all at the same time. Julian would do each of those, but not at the same time. I am happy to say that Sunday night he went under the water, blew bubbles with his nose and swam! It was very exciting! He still had his life vest on, but his body was just as it was supposed to be. Natalie on the other hand will not put her head underwater and blow bubbles.

I am not looking forward to when they close the pool down in our neighborhood. It has been a wonderful summer with the twins and I do not want it to end. They love water just as my Mother did and I am glad they enjoy it as much as I do too! Today we are going to the pool where I grew up in Alcoa. It is wonderful memories of my childhood and I am so thankful I can share them with the twins. Who knows what new things they will do at the pool today.

LETTING GO

 

 

 

 

 

I did it. I sent the email I’ve been thinking about for a while now. We put our 10 remaining embryos back in the adoption pool. Jeremy and I discussed it last night and agreed it was the right thing to do. We couldn’t come up with any good, rational, non-selfish reasons to hold on to them.

Reasons for holding on to them:

• My fear that no one will adopt them because they are labeled “special consideration.” In some way I feel that I was protecting them by holding on to them even if we have no intentions of trying again.
• I’ll always wonder what became of them. Because we did an anonymous adoption, we’ll not know if anyone else adopted them or if any babies were born from them. Of course, through this blog and social media, if another adoptive family wanted to contact us, they could, and I think I would welcome it.
• Are we really done? My heart says yes, and I decided that if, for some reason, we change our minds in a few years and God wants us to have more children that are genetic siblings to Grant and Maria, their profile will still be available.

Reasons for letting go:

• I like symmetry and even numbers.
• We’re playing a man-to-man defense with two children.
• I don’t want another multiple pregnancy; but also can’t reconcile going through all the shots and hormones to transfer one embryo and limit the chance of a positive pregnancy. Plus, if it’s just one more baby it goes against bullet number 1 and we’d need to go for a fourth. (It’s not fun inside my head sometimes.)
• The cost of children…the possibility of private schools, college tuition, bigger house, bigger cars, etc. It all adds up and I would like to retire before I’m 90.
• If God sees fit for us to have another child He’ll make it happen however He sees fit…the “old fashioned way,” another embryo adoption, and or traditional adoption.

As the September cycle comes near, I know that couples will be receiving profiles. It’s been two years since we received our profiles and made the decision to trust God and go with the “special consideration” profile. For anyone who is reading this and is preparing for a transfer…PLEASE (shameless begging, here) consider one of these special profiles. Pray about it. Research it. Understand what you might be tossing aside out of fear. My first reaction was not to even look at those profiles…but God placed it on my heart just to type in VSD into the search on my computer and through that, I knew that there was nothing to fear and we would overcome any obstacles placed in our way. God proved faithful and gave us two healthy babies. Grant and Maria are PERFECT!

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ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE

History was made as we stood and saw the space shuttle go up for the last time. While we were waiting for the event, a bomb squad came by as well as police cars and helicopters overhead. This made for a very entertaining time. I am happy to say that even though a bomb was called in there was not one there. I did though, have my husband post on FaceBook that we were on the bridge just in case something happened and people started looking for us!

As I was waiting with the kids, I was also reading a book I had got from my friend Katina for my birthday. It was a book about friendship, but the neat thing was that as I was sitting there reading the chapter, one of the charters in the book was talking about the Challenger, the space shuttle that exploded in 1985. I had already been thinking about this, since I was in fourth grade at the time and saw it in class as it was happening. Things like that just stick with you, so I was praying that this shuttle would be a success and not have such a devastating ending.

Once it did go up I could not help but shed a few tears. It was an emotional time knowing that a part of history was ending. Surprisingly, the twins loved it and wanted to see it again. On the news that night we got to see it again and on our video too. After the launch we headed back to our condo to have some more beach time. I am happy to say we did not have traffic, it was a very smooth day.

The next day the Kennedy Space Center was open and everyone decided to go, including us. We got to take a tour and see the launch pad where the shuttle had launched from as well as many videos telling the history of the space program. I learned so much it just seems amazing that it ever makes it into space with so much that has to take place beforehand and be 100% accurate.

It made me think of getting pregnant and how everything has to be just right for it all to take place. Like the space program, it is hard to comprehend how embryo adoption is even possible. It all seems science fiction, but it isn’t! I am able to take my children on vacation thanks to scientists who spent so many years studying and experimenting that it just blows my mind. I cannot possibly think what is going to take place in years to come. I am reminded of what Julian told my Aunt Nancy he learned in VBS at our church. When she asked him what he was learning he said, “That anything is possible with God.” Not only did I see that in the science on vacation or in Haiti on the mission trip, but I am living it with my two miracles. Thank you God for blessing me so that I can be a blessing to others and I pray that you will be blessed today!

A VACATION WITHOUT THE PLANNING

When I got back from Haiti, the children had started VBS at my church. Each night the children went, Brian and I had a date night. I did not help this year since I was just getting back from my trip. One night Brian and I were talking about what we might do for vacation, since his dad was recovering from surgery, we knew we would not be going with his parents to the beach this year. So I decided to call my friend Susan and ask her what they were doing. Yes, I just invited my whole family to join them on their vacation! They planned on going to see the space shuttle launch and go to the beach. After praying about it and then talking with Brian about it we decided we would love to join them! This was around July 1, my birthday, and they were leaving July 5th!

One thing going to Haiti taught me is that you can just do something at the drop of a hat. So we did! Usually, I would have been packing our bags a month beforehand and making lists so I would not forget anything. Well, needless to say, I was able to get it all done without having a month to plan.

We were all so excited to be going with our dear friends to such a wonderful place and event. Brian drove the first day a little over half way and then we stopped for the night. The next day we made it to the beach by 1:30 and on the beach by 2! The twins just wanted to go to the pool, but we made them go to the beach each day as well. At first they would not get into the water, but by the end of the trip they were jumping the waves.

It was so nice to be with my family after being away from them for eleven days. I had really missed them, even though at the time I did not allow myself to think much about it. It was such a treat for me to have everyone together in one place, without Brian having to go to work or do anything else that separated us. I just wanted to hold them all very closely and not let them go!

The Thomas family that we went with has identical twin boys six months older than my twins. Natalie and Julian just love the boys and they all played so well together. My friend Susan knew the area well, since growing-up her family took her to vacation in the same area and to see the shuttle launches as well. It was not only nice to spend time with my own family, but them as well. Susan told about her times there with her family and her Mom who passed away 16 years ago. I thought, I hope my children have such fond memories of me and the times we spend together as Susan and I both have of our mothers. Susan’s Dad is still living and I wondered if he wished he could have come with them.

When I was in Haiti I missed my Mom so much; I guess when one is in distress they want their Mommy! For me, I just wanted to share my experiences with her, because I knew she would have wanted to know and would have been so interested in everything that happened. She also would have known so much about the country and would have educated me all about it. Not because my Mom’s passion was Haiti, but just because she was so smart she knew about everything (except as she would tell me many times, infertility)! My mother educated herself if she did not know something she would read about it and then share it all with me.
This is what I strive to give my children, a Mother who’s love of learning is contagious and that a vacation is not just about having fun, but a learning experience. That is why I was so excited to be able to take them to the last shuttle launch. I am so thankful to Stan and Susan for inviting us to be a part of their family time together. They gave me the opportunity to give to my children a piece of history!

SIBLING RIVALRY

The most recent issue of the National Mother of Twins Club magazine had a study published on sibling rivalry. Based on its survey, most parents of twins reported sibling rivalry being most prevalent among twins from ages 2-5. Often it was shown in the form of fighting, jealousy, hitting, shoving, and biting. I can say we already have seen all of those. Most common is fighting over toys or Jeremy or me. If you are attempting one-on-one with one baby it’s not uncommon for the other to throw themselves at you or, if we’re up in a chair, to try to climb in the chair or sit in the floor and throw a tantrum. It’s frustrating, but also makes me realize we do have to work to spend dedicated time with each baby.

On Monday, Grant wasn’t feeling well and went to bed extra early. I closed myself in the nursery with him while we rocked and I could hear Maria happily playing out in the hall with Jeremy. She was cackling and pushing a toy up and down the hall. I was worried she would keep him awake, but he wasn’t disturbed and quickly crashed.

I sat on the couch with Jeremy, enjoying a few minutes of not having to do anything while watching Maria. I figured it would go on for a couple of minutes and she would move on to something else. But I was wrong. For the next 35 minutes she ran laps up and down the hall, laughing and talking all the way. She didn’t get frustrated when she got stuck and never once threw her toy. She just went back and forth, back and forth. Jeremy commented that she never has this opportunity to just have something all to herself. Normally, Grant would interject himself, either by stealing said toy or by just stopping forward momentum by being in the way. But not now; she had it all to herself….and she was thrilled! She eventually tired and was ready for bed, but not without breaking a sweat. Baby Girl might have logged a mile if we had a pedometer on her.

More than anything, this was a reminder that they both need some alone time and while that isn’t always easy to accomplish, we’re going to have to make it a point to give each one time alone, even at this young of an age. They will enjoy it and appreciate each other more when they are reunited. Maybe it’s a special trip to the store with only one or taking advantage of an early bedtime for the other. Whatever it may be, they need to enjoy time as an individual and not always as a twin. While, I can’t imagine life with only one, sometimes each needs to be treated as if they are the only one in the world.

THE FIRST OVERNIGHT

I spent my first night away from the babies since they came home from the hospital 14 months ago. I guess it’s fitting, since I returned to work a year ago this week. I had managed to avoid any overnight travel since I was early in my pregnancy, but this was pretty much unavoidable. I am on the negotiating committee for one of our unions located in the western part of the state and we knew that the probability of me having to be gone a night or two or three was pretty high. I was excited when we were proposing a 6 month extension to the contract and, if ratified, would limit my time away this month. I was even more hopeful that I wouldn’t have to be gone any nights and we would get what needed to be done in just one day, however, that wasn’t the case and the bag I packed came in handy. I guess I really could have driven the two hours from Greenville to my home and back again the next morning, but I didn’t feel it was worth the risk of extra time on the Western Kentucky Parkway. Alas, Jeremy was home alone overnight.

My mom stepped in to help with baths and bedtime, as well as the early morning bottles, and my breast pump and I spent some extra time together (gag!). Jeremy and I checked in via text message throughout the day and it sounded like everything was well under control. I managed to leave Greenville around 4:00 on Tuesday afternoon, which meant I would be home in time to play with the babies before they went to bed. I called to check in on my way home and Jeremy held the phone up to each baby so I could say “Hi.” Jeremy said Maria got a huge smile on her face and Grant’s eyes just got huge as he listened to me.

After a treacherous stormy drive home, I walked through the door and Maria said “HI” about five times. Grant just smiled and I sat on the floor as we played and Maria showed off her latest skill of walking about five rapid steps before falling face forward. She’s so proud…but can’t quite get the grasp on slowing forward momentum.

Come January, I’ll likely be gone multiple nights as we go back to the table with the union, and I’m thankful we had this trial run. I missed Jeremy, the babies, my pillow and other comforts of home. I think they missed me, or maybe they just missed drinking from the tap. In any event, I was glad to be home.

THINGS THAT MAKE ME SMILE

After one of the cruddiest weeks ever, I find it’s important to turn my mind to the positive and think about all the good there is in my life and the world around. I have been blessed more than I could have ever imagined…here are a few things that make me smile:

• Maria’s growl and fake laugh. She’s a quirky kid…and what makes her funnier is that she takes herself so seriously and doesn’t even realize what a goofball she is.
• The way Grant’s eyes sparkle when he’s trying not to grin behind his pacifier.
• How proud the babies are when they learn a new trick. Maria has started standing unassisted and taking steps. Grant is walking. He walked across the house Friday night.
• Grant walks with his legs straight like Dr. Frankenstein’s creation.
• Maria’s crawl. She looks like a little jerky windup doll.
• The way Grant’s eyes tick after Jeremy spins him around in circles. It’s all he can do to hold his big melon head up.
• The way they laugh at each other when they wake up in the morning and are talking between cribs.
• The fact that Jeremy will go out of his way at the grocery to find a special treat for me after a rough day…and that he cooks and cleans and does a wonderful job as a dad.
• A perfectly timed worship song on the radio reminding me how deeply we are loved by our heavenly Father. He’ll never let go.

TWINS PLUS A WHOLE FAMILY TO LOVE

I am on another trip, but this time with my family going to the beach! We are all so excited and looking forward to getting there. While in the car, I am reading the new book, “Inconceivable” which Patty had suggested I read. I have not gotten very far into the book, but I am reminded how fortunate I am that I have such a wonderful relationship not only with Patty, but the extended family as well.

While I was in Haiti Patty’s sister, Cathy, sent the twins a package. Brian did not want to open it while I was gone, so they got to open it the first morning I was home. It had books in it and some that will help them learn to write their letters. I was so thankful for such a wonderful gift since I have been looking for something like that. It is not the gifts that are so important, but the fact that Cathy thinks of them and makes us feel so loved.

When we went to visit the Cassidy family last March, Jim’s Dad told me we were now all family. What a privilege that not only Patty and Jim have taken us in, but the extended family as well. I did not think about how some families would not have accepted us as openly as the Cassidy family has, until I have read about other families who did not understand why anyone would “give” their embryos away and do not have any part in wanting to know about the child that resulted in the donation.

I tell my embryo adoption story to anyone who will listen, because to me it is answer to prayer. It is one way I feel I can not only educate people about embryo donation, but also a way I can show God’s love. Just this past weekend I went to my “Morrow” family reunion, where I did not know many people. Yes it is strange to go to your own family reunion and not know most the people, but they were distant relatives.

I found myself telling this young boy, about 13, about my miracle twins. This boy attached himself to them and wanted to take Natalie home. They are wonderful as can be, but I was a bit concerned, so I stayed with them and took the opportunity to share our wonderful story. And what a wonderful story it is, not only do I have two adorable children but a wonderful family to boot!

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SPREADING LOVE

The second day of our trip we woke up in the hospital in the D.R. and crossed the border to Haiti to Batey 41, which is a village my church provides a salary for a minister. They have a building that is used as a school and a church. They have 115 students for next year and the full time missionaries provide clean drinking water for the students, otherwise the village does not have a clean water supply.

The full time missionaries gave us very useful advice that I had to use when I got there. They told us we had to push ourselves down and let love flow out of us. When I stepped off the truck and saw all the children who ran up to us, some without shoes, some without pants, but all without a full belly, it was hard. I did shed a few tears, but I had to remember that I was not any help if I just cried. When the children asked for water, it was very upsetting that I could not give them mine, but when I held them or played ring around the rosy with them I knew why we were really there.  The Pastor just beamed as the children sang “Jesus Loves Me,” “Frère Jacques,” and many others in Creole. These songs I just recognized the tune.  The smiles on their faces were just priceless. At this point I wondered who was ministering to whom.

A doctor from the hospital and one of our teammates, Susan Treadway R.N., held a clinic while we played with the kids. They treated patients with burns, parasites, malaria, diarrhea, and prenatal care.  It was a very successful day but very heartbreaking to see such poverty.  I think I have always been thankful for the privilege of medical care, but now I really am! If anyone has infertility problems, I am sure they do not have the privilege that I had to receive adopted embryos. People who are infertile must just suffer in silence.

The next day we crossed over the border again into another village they call Batey 40 (they are named from how far they are from the capital). I could tell at once the adults in the village were a bit hostile and not welcoming. The children wanted to be loved on and in fact one older child wanted to be held so bad that when she was told no that she was too big, she jumped into the arms of one of my team mates.

This village had a bit better homes and more of the children were clothed, but they were lacking love in their hearts and inter peace. I even witnessed a fight that broke out over a lottery ticket! What lottery tickets are sold in such conditions!?!

The overall feeling of this village was “give me, give me, give me.” However, I am sure not everyone was like this. I was blessed to witness a child asking, my fellow teammate, Malyndia for help for his baby sister. Malyndia got me and Melissa the Missionary to walk with her back to the hut where his mother was and his baby sister. The baby had been having diarrhea and throwing up for a few days. We prayed over the baby and Malyndia left the mother her water to give to the baby. While I was in the home of this family, it was very humbling. It was nothing like I had ever seen in my life.  All of what I was experiencing was overwhelming and hard to take in.

As we loaded up in our trucks, with the engines running a few people handed the people out water. The trucks were running just in case a riot broke out. I am happy to say one did not, but I did see a few of the adults shooing us away as we left. The differences between the two villages were like night and day regarding their attitude. Both of these villages make a living by making charcoal and taking it across the river to sell. As you can see in the pictures, the living they make is very little.

Seeing this environment makes me not only appreciate my life but the privileges I have living in the US. I am happy to say that one of these privileges is the best health care in the world and that includes embryo adoption.

DAY ONE OF HAITI AND THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

I am happy to report that I made it home safely from Haiti and the Dominican Republic. When the group of 22 first arrived in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, it was a bit hectic with workers at the airport trying to take your luggage, so that they could receive a tip. It was our job to let them know that we could handle our own luggage, but with a language barrier and very aggressive airport employees, it made the situation quite interesting. I must have looked frazzled, since the youth minister at my church, Davy, looked at me and said, “This is the hardest part of the trip it is just downhill from here.” Well, now that the trip is over, I am not sure he would even agree with his own statement.

Our group was met by Chris Keylon, our group leader, Sarah Sealine (She just left a good job at Children’s Hospital in Knoxville) a missionary who had just arrived in Haiti two days before we arrived, and our interpreter Kessy. We loaded all the luggage and ourselves in trucks and headed to a house known as, the Chadasha “Guest House”, to unpack all of the supplies before heading to the Dominican Republic for three nights. When we arrived at the Guest House we met five of the employees and three other full-time missionaries. One of the missionaries was caring for twin Haitian girls that were rescued out of one of the tent cities. These girls were found with the skin just hanging on their bones and in such poor health. An orphanage that Chadasha supports has taken these girls in and many others who require food, love and security that their family could not give them, but are now receiving with the help of so many people. Of course they made me think of my own twins and how blessed I am to be able to give them everything they need to thrive. I am thankful these twins are now getting the attention they need. The team worked very well together making assembly lines and doing what needed to be done to unpack toys, backpacks with school supplies, over the counter drugs, toiletries and other items we were handing out on our trip. Once that was taken care of, back on the truck we went.

During the ride, I thought of a song I learned at a music class I took the twins to when they were babies. It is called a “Smooth Road.” The song went through different types of roads and I would hold Natalie and Julian and do the motions of the smooth, bumpy or rough road. I now better understand what a rough road really feels like. It is a bit like a roller coaster that can lift you out of your seat and you are hanging on for dear life. The drive took us a little under six hours to get there and I now have a new appreciation for the roads and traffic in the US. I have been to New York City, L.A. and Boston and the traffic there does not do justice to what we experienced. It did not appear to me that there were any traffic laws in either country and I am so thankful I did not have to drive. At one point the trucks took on the duties of a boat, when we went through water that was up to some people’s knees. The border to the D.R. closed at 6pm and we arrived five minutes till 6. That is just the beginning of prayers that were answered on this trip.

We arrived at Jimani, D.R. and were so happy to see the hospital along with the orphanage. The rooms we stayed in were built for medical staff to stay while working. The country is a beautiful place with mountains surrounding it as well as the water. The hospital is up on top of a hill where you can see the vast land. For security, the hospital has a brick wall around the perimeter and a gate they lock at night. The group had the pleasure of meeting the hospital administrator, John and his wife Melissa along with their daughter and son. John’s parents are also there and his dad, John Sr., worked in Johnson City, TN for many years making prosthetic limbs. His goal is to be able to get one started there as well. The hospital now serves as a clinic Monday through Friday, however it was used as a full hospital after the earthquake.
Two cooks prepared our food for us and we were all thankful for them. We ate a wonderful meal and headed off to bed. It had been a long day and we were looking forward to another long day at a village in Haiti that is called Batey 41, at which our church funds a pastor’s salary and helps provide a building that serves as a school and church.

Thanks be to God for a safe trip and for the work He allowed us to do. Galatians 5:13 “through love serve one another.”