This is the last month I will be blogging, so I have tried to think of words of wisdom to leave with those who are thinking of going through embryo adoption, have been through it or are thinking of donating their embryos. I cannot think of any, but know my story speaks for itself. It is a story of love, loss, pain, perseverance, faith, hope, and success. I know everyone reading this is not going to have the same story, or use the same words to describe theirs, but know if you are reading this your story is not over, even if you think it is.
Many times I felt like giving up on my dream of having children, because the load was just too much to bear at times. I was fortunate it to have a supportive husband, who told me I would be such a good Mom, I just could not give up. My friends would tell me they were there for me no matter what I choose. My Mom would remind me that God had a special plan for me and not to give up. Dr. Keenan would remind me that I still had several options, one of which was embryo adoption. But, God told me I was loved no matter what.
I am so thankful I did not give up and that embryo adoption was a success for me. At times I wonder where I would be now if embryo adoption would not have been a success. I believe I would still be fighting the fight and wondering if it would ever be my “turn?” The words from my mother would be running through my head, “God has a special plan for you.” I now believe that special plan is being a mother to my beautiful adopted embryos and sharing with others what God has done for me.
Many times during my journey of infertility, I felt that God was late, not listening, or worst of all, that it was not in His plan for me to have children. I knew that His ways were always better than my ways, but living through it could be difficult at best. So for those of you trying to ride out the storm right now, I say hold on tight and do not lose sight of your goal, God has a special plan for you.
“God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. We will not fear when the earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea.” Psalm 46:1-2
The last days of summer are upon us and we are trying to suck all the fun we can out of each day. Not only are schools starting back up (the twins will be starting their preschool in a few weeks), but the weather has gotten a lot cooler! Making me miss the warm, warm days already! The water is much colder and not as fun to get into. We already find ourselves staying inside more, due to lots of rain in our area.
We did get to spend some time at DollyWood over the last few weeks. Their Dog show was a huge success with our family, we went twice! We went with the Thomas family to see a few other shows as well as ride rides. Last Saturday night DollyWood had fireworks and we got to see those with my brother, his two children, my friend Karen and her husband Bill. What a great time we have had at DollyWood this summer!
Last week we had a dinner party and invited my friend Karen & Bill as well as Ying (who works for the NEDC) and her three daughters. The twins were so excited to make a cake for them, a castle cake! It was a hit, as well as the donuts with gummy worms in them that Bill brought for them. What a blessing to have such good friends. It is hard to believe that it was over four years ago they were praying for a baby for me.
Julian has been asking when school starts since the last week of school. We are now down to 20 days before our life goes back to schedules. They only attend two days a week, but love going. We will miss the teacher they had last year, but I am sure we will be just as pleased with the next one. This is the last year I have with them before Kindergarten and I want to cherish all our time together.
It is hard to believe they are 4 years old and that Julian is telling me he wishes I named him David, after David in the Bible. Julian wants a sling shot like David had, so we are going to make one. We finally found a stick I think will work. My aunt is going to help us with the other parts, I just hope he does not kill any animals! In order to get one he had to learn how to spell his last name. Now we just need to work on writing it.
We are now off to Splash Country to enjoy what we have left of the summer, between storms. I know I will miss these precious times and their loving attitudes. I hope I remember these sweet times, when they become teenagers and do not want to be with me!
This past weekend we went to the home of Brian’s former boss. He invited us as well as the Crichlow family. Roberto and Brian worked for Jerome Julian at SunTrust Bank and they both always thought the world of Jerome. We were all excited to enjoy a relaxing weekend at the lake, but most importantly have fellowship with Jerome and his lovely wife Stacy. Roberto and his wife Sandra, who we are friends with, have two girls whom our children have great fun with. Their home is just beautiful and welcoming so much so that Julian wanted to know when we were moving to the Lake when we got home. There is just not a bigger compliment when a child is ready to move in with you! Julian would wake up before Brian and I and instead of coming to get us he just headed down the stairs to be with Jerome and Stacy. The last morning I found Julian snuggled right up to Jerome watching Mickey Mouse Club House. The Julian family was a delight to be with and we all wish we could live on the lake!
The day my tubes were removed in December 2001, was also the same day Brian was on a conference call during my surgery in which his boss, Jerome Julian, announced that he would be the head of a different section of the bank. So Brian has always remembered the two as the worse news ever. Brian was blessed to have Jerome as a boss, when he first moved to Business Banking and I am sure he would love to work with him again if it is in God’s plan.
When the twins were born, Brian got to name one and I was going to name the other. We were told at one point we were having a boy & a girl, then we were told we were having two boys, then we were told we were having a boy & a girl. So we were not sure what to expect. Brian had decided on Natalie if we were having a girl. I had decided on Julian and Jeremiah for two boys, but I was not sure if we had a girl and a boy. So when the girl came out, Brian told them her name, but was not able to tell them the boy’s name, so he was known as Mr. Bailey for many days. Brian kept asking me what I wanted to name him, and all I could do was think about how I was going to survive this. I was very ill and in excruciating pain from not just a C-section, but my bladder was almost completely severed and my parts were all out of place and the doctor tried to move them to the correct spot. I was just thankful I was alive, I could not think beyond that. I also was not able to hold or see them for several days since I was so ill. The photographer from the Knoxville News Sentinel knew this and made many print offs of the pictures she took when the twins were born. When I saw the picture of my baby boy, I knew he looked like a distinguished gentleman, so I had to name him after my father, Julian David Morrow. I also wanted to name my son after his father as well, so I joined the two together. Julian David Keene Bailey, but Brian said that was too long and that I had to choose between David and Keene. Julian Keene Bailey it became. Brian said everyone at his work thought it was so nice we named him after his boss and my doctor, Dr. Keenan. We thought that was funny. But both men have had a great impact on our lives and Julian is blessed to be named after them as well.
The twins have been taking swim classes and have completed six classes. When they first started, Natalie would not put her face in the water and they were both swimming with floaties. Now they both swim underwater without floaties and are working on different types of strokes. Natalie can swim across the pool under the water or above, Julian only likes to swim under the water. Natalie is also very efficient at swimming on her back; Julian still has some work to do in that area. As the teacher says if we put them together we would have a swimmer!
This summer they have really grown up a lot. Not only has their swimming improved, but they also have mastered characters and the setting of a story. The next goal I have for them is to learn how to spell and write their last name, they already do that with their first name. I have made up a song, but it may take a bit longer to master it. I also need to work with them on their phone number and zip code. Other than that I think they are ready for Kindergarten, which they will start a year from now.
It is just amazing to think about the progress they have made from their time in the NICU. I have not had them professionally tested, but from everything I can see they are not behind. Brian thinks they do so well, because I have stayed at home with them. I do not know if they would be more advanced if they had gone to a full time preschool, but to me it does not matter. I have enjoyed every moment of being a stay at home mom. I think it has gotten easier and easier as they get older in most ways. Mainly, I found if I can get 8 hours of sleep I can handle almost anything. There are those days that I have lost my temper, and have been ready for a day off, which for the most part does not exist for me. I mostly have to give the credit to the children, because they are just a joy. Overall, they are very well behaved, play well with others and are very thoughtful as well. This makes my life much easier.
I was at my brother’s condo pool taking care of my twins as well as his two children, when a girl came up to me to tell me what a good mother I was and that she hoped when she became a mother she would be like me. I took that as a great compliment. These days the highest complements I can receive are on my children’s behavior and now my parenting. As we venture out into public, it is an often occurrence, the twins are complimented on their looks. I have taught them to use their manners and thank the people, but have also told them the highest compliment they could receive is on their behavior and that our behavior reveals our true beauty.
“Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised. “
This summer has been jam packed with activities. As a family we try and visit Dollywood Splash country several times a month, like we did for Father’s Day. With such warm temperatures, anywhere with water has been the place for us this summer! Vacation Bible School has also been a big part of our summer. The twins attended three different ones and wanted to know this week if we were going to another one. They enjoy going to them since they do not have preschool in the summer. They sing all the songs and really soak up God’s word as they bring it all into their daily play time. It is really such a blessing to see how they enjoy learning the word of God.
July is also a month of many birthdays and celebratory activates. Mine is the first, which is Canada day, in honor of my Canadian Mother! The fourth of July, is also a big time in my family. We got together with extended family for fireworks while swimming in the pool. Julian has decided he wants to be a “fireworks guy” when he grows up followed by a “zip line guy.” I have tried to explain to him that zip lining is not a career choice, but a hobby. Julian does not seem to care, he still considers that a great job to have when he grows up. I did tell him that when he gets old enough we will go together.
Another celebration this month is cousin Alyssa’s birthday. We were invited to a family birthday party for her as well as a kid’s party! We all had a great time eating cake, cake balls, ice cream, icee’s, and many more wonderful treats! We also got to honor, our friend, Sasha, on her birthday as well, with a fun day at Doe River Gorge.
At the end of this week we will also be celebrating and honoring the life of Brian’s grandmother, who passed away this past Sunday. She was just one day shy of her 100th birthday. I will be speaking at her funeral and have been thinking about her life and what I will say. It is a great honor for me to speak about such a fine Christian woman, but even more of a privilege to call her family. I have learned so much from her walk with the Lord and look forward to teaching my children about her love for God as they have a better understanding of what it means to be a Christian. What a role model and a legacy she leaves behind for all of us to honor. As I speak at her funeral, I cannot help but wonder, who will be speaking at mine one day. Will it be Julian or Natalie’s child’s wife or husband, if I am blessed to live that long. Will they have such fond memories of me and my walk with the Lord? At times like these I often have to look and see where I measure up and make necessary changes in my own life, so that my own children will be able to say “her children rise up and call her blessed,” Proverbs 31:28.
What a great weekend we have had. It was my birthday and we celebrated at my sister’s house and then went to the Alcoa pool. When I grew up I went to that pool almost every day. It brought back lots of wonderful memories. Julian wanted to go off the diving boards as well, but I told him we would have to ask his swim teacher before we did that. The twins are taking swim lessons and are doing great. Natalie can swim across the pool with her head above the water, which is what the teacher wants. Julian swims under the water and does not want to put the effort it will take him to swim with his head above the water. So I am hoping his desire to go off the diving board will entice him to work harder.
The other day Julian checked the weather on the phone and said, “It has three numbers! That means it is a lot, lot hot!” Yes, here in our area it has been a lot, lot hot! Patty’s sister sent a care package for the twins with books for them to do on hot days. Those days are currently here! Julian asked the other day if it was Christmas yet. Natalie also asked how many days were left before Christmas morning. We may all be wondering that due to this unusually hot weather, but the weather has nothing to do with the twins countdown.
On Friday, when we got the care package, we went out to get the ingredients in the Princess cookbook to make butterfly cupcakes. We are looking forward to making some wonderful princess desserts. So bring on the hot days, we are ready to cool off with treats and swimming!
The twins have been to several weddings in their life and a few weeks ago we got to go to another one. My cousin, Matt got married a few hours from our home, so we just took a little trip. The children and I slept on the way down and were well rested. The wedding was just beautiful and my twins loved the pasta bar! We all got to dance for a bit and then it was time to see the groom and bride off. I asked Julian who he was going to marry when he got older and he said me and that he wanted to have five children, since five is his favorite number. Natalie wants four children and does not want to get married. She has settled on having only three cats in-lieu of one hundred. I am sure they will not want the same things ten to twenty years from now.
I am so thankful that I get to spend time at home with them at this age. Since I waited so long for them, I am trying to enjoy every second with them. We spend our days going swimming, at the library, on play dates and just doing things around the house. The twins love to make sugar cookies with me. They help to roll out the dough, cut the dough into shapes and then ice them after they are cooked. I am sure their favorite part is eating them. This is meaningful to me because my Mom and I use to make cookies together as well. Julian says his favorite thing to do with me is to snuggle with me! He is just as sweet as can be. Natalie says hers is to cook with me. I think this is the best age ever! They can go to the potty and tell me all sorts of things. This is the best time of my life!
Happy Father’s Day!
I am so blessed to be married to a man who is so happy to be a father. This father’s day, I wanted the twins to really participate in the gift. So this year we made him a special picture book with many quotes from them, so here is what they think about their dad.
Thoughts from Natalie:
My Dad is 60 years old.
His hair is blond.
He weights 40lb.
His favorite food is pancakes and cereal. His favorite place to eat is Pizza Inn.
He is smart because he reaches stuff up high that I cannot get.
He likes to smile.
I love my dad because he lets me hang on him like a monkey on a branch of a tree.
I am proud of my dad because he swims underwater.
Dad always says, dang it and hush to the dogs.
My dad and I are the same because we both go underwater.
My dad is really good at fixing things.
It makes my dad happy when I clean things up.
The pickle monster makes my daddy laugh.
My favorite thing to do with my dad is to swim.
My dad is a special dad!
He is good at playing basketball.
My dad makes me laugh when he tickles me!
I know my dad loves me because he is not afraid of storms and he holds me.
If my dad was a superhero he would be Superman because he is a super dad to the rescue!
He is the best Dad because he loves us! (My favorite!)
Thoughts from Julian:
My Dad is 84 years old.
His hair is black.
He weights 32lb.
His favorite food is waffles.
He is smart because he loves me. (My personal favorite!)
He likes to work.
I love you dad, and I am going to pick a flower for you!
I am proud of my dad because he makes yummy food.
Dad always says, I love you and he calls me Justin Keith instead of Julian Keene.
Dad and I are the same because we both like to wrestle and we are different because God made us different.
I love my dad because he loves me.
My dad is really good at swimming.
When I giggle it makes my daddy laugh.
My Dad makes me laugh when the birdies show tricks, such as Raphael.
My favorite thing to do with my dad is to play baseball.
My dad is a great dad!
He is good at showing tricks.
Swimming with me makes my daddy happy.
I know my dad loves me because he wrestles.
If my dad was a superhero he would be Supergoof because he is a super dad !
He is the best Dad because he plays sword fights with me!
Julian asked me the other day when he would start Kindergarten. Then he wanted to know when they would be going back to preschool. They are out for the summer, but miss it already. I hope they always love school and have great teachers as they did this year.
I was feeling pretty bad for him, but then we got in the mail a VBS that was going on this week. I am happy to say, that will keep them busy this week. We will also be going to Splash Country with friends and family, and will have swim lessons as well. I hope we can find enough to do this summer and the countdown to school will not be something Julian asks about too often. Who would have thought he would miss it already since we have only been out for about a week.
What a blessing he loves to learn and that they like the school they go to. Natalie did complain about a little boy who was mean to her in her class and she was not looking forward to see him. That too is unfortunately a part of the whole school learning experience. I wish I could protect them from everything, but since I can’t I will just rely on God.