Tuesday, July 31, 2012

duh-nuh... duh-nuh... duh-nuh, duh-nuh duh-nuh duh-nuh (obviously the JAWS theme)

Don't worry.  I'm just as scared as you.

If I’ve made anything abundantly clear in this blog, I think it’s that I’m a bit of a fraidy cat.  Sometimes, I’m scared for silly reasons, like spooking myself when I’m alone in the house, and sometimes it’s just because crazy stuff always seems to happen to me.  Regardless, I’m really trying to get braver in my old age, and am working on facing some of my fears.

Just to clue you in, here is a more extensive (though not all-inclusive) list of my completely irrational rational fears:

1)      Choking (I have a very long mental list of foods I won’t eat when I’m alone – just in case)
2)      Public bathrooms (or any bathroom that is not in my very own home)
3)      Spiders (do you know how many people in the world have been bitten by TWO different brown recluse spiders?  I’m pretty sure I’m the only person ever)
4)      The movie Pet Semetary.  Really just one character from the movie.  I’m not revealing any more for fear that I will open a random email with a terrifying picture of the unsaid character.  I know some of you people.  I AM TALKING ABOUT YOU, JAY!
5)      Falling and knocking my teeth out.  I have dreamt of this since I was a little kid.
6)      Haunted houses, scary movies or any other time things jump out to scare you (who thinks that is fun?)
7)      Mice (Yes, I know I own a rat.  I’m scared of him too)
8)   Cats.  They are creepy.  You know they're plotting something.
9)      Natural bodies of water* (pools aren’t scary.  You can see to the bottom and you CONTROL what is in there).
10)      Boats (because they move quickly over natural bodies of water)

Now, in case you don’t know, Jay and I have booked a cruise to Mexico in celebration of our 15th wedding anniversary in October.  So obviously, #9 and #10 are things I need to start working on – and fast.

 *SIDEBAR – Despite what my husband thinks, this fear is, in fact, COMPLETELY rational.  I mean, your feet are dangling in a world that you cannot see!  And do you know how many new species are discovered every single year?  About 15,000.  (Check out THIS GUY that was recently discovered.  He looks friendly). So don’t tell me, beloved, that there’s no such thing as a big, slimy, Jamie-eater.  They just haven’t found it yet!  In my opinion, there is plenty to fear in the deep waters (snakes, fish, piranhas, sharks, Jason Voorhees, sharp rocks, seaweed, floating away into infinity and general ickiness – just to name a few).

So, in an effort to strengthen my courage, I accepted an invitation to go out on a speedboat with the Stegalls, a lovely couple from church (they invited us a year ago, but I wasn’t quite ready to trust them with my life at that point). 

Grinning and bearing it.
Sunday afternoon after lunch, we (Jay, Micah and I along with the Jay and Martha Stegall) rode out to the lake together, pulling the boat behind us.  I was very sort of brave… until it was time to step onto the boat.  I felt a little shaky from the get-go, and I know that the boat only goes like 40 mph, but it felt like we were going the speed of light. About three minutes in, as we sped through the waters, surrounded by other boats that were also speeding through the waters, I was hyperventilating a little and terrible things were flooding my mind (Headline: Five Killed in Tragic Boating Accident – Should Have Used Better Judgment). I looked over to my little seven year old boy, expecting him to be paralyzed with fear, but instead he was laughing and smiling like this was the best thing ever. I peeked over at my Jay (not to be confused with Martha’s Jay) to see if he, like me, was wondering if this was almost over, and he too was laughing and chatting as if the world around us was not spiraling out of control.  So I closed my eyes and tightened my death grip on the metal bar that was beside me. 

Jay looks terrified, right?

Everyone was just terribly amused by my panic, evidenced by the fact that every single time I would start to relax a little, the driver (let’s just call him Jay Stegall) sped up and did some kind of crazy turn.  And then, if I wasn’t petrified enough, everyone decided it would be a great idea to let Micah, my little first grader, drive the boat.  And not play-around-drive-the-boat, but actually control it! 
Oh yeah, I gots this!

Eventually though, I settled down and actually started to enjoy myself.  So much so, that when we stopped the boat to take a dip in the lake, I jumped in too.  I mean, I wrapped myself tightly with a rope that was secured to the boat so that I wouldn’t float away or be pulled under by a yet-to-be-discovered big, slimy, Jamie-eater, but still, I was pretty proud of myself.
Feeling almost totally safe

Martha is trying to show me how  much rope I actually need to be holding

My very brave boys
After our swim, Micah and Jay took turns being pulled behind the boat in an inner tube.  I decided not to brave that particular activity (though that might have had less to do with my fear of the lake, and more to do with my fear of bouncing around on a big orange raft in my swimsuit in front of an audience).

Later, we stopped at a marina for dinner (I definitely did NOT walk into the restaurant, immediately toss my cookies, then spend ten minutes contemplating whether or not it would be a good idea to lie down on the bathroom floor for a bit).  I recovered though, and got back on the boat, even after standing on the dock and looking at cat fish as big as school busses (okay, skateboards). 

All-in-all, a pretty good day.  I’m feeling pretty good about the cruise (as long as I carry on a little nausea medicine… and make sure that Micah isn’t driving).

So tell me readers, what are you afraid of?

(Also, don’t forget to become a follower of my blog and be eligible for a fun little give-away!)

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Celebrate Good Times, Come On!

Since my self-esteem may or may not be unhealthily connected to how many people read this little blog, I’m super excited to report that I have hit 2000 reads!  Thanks everyone! – especially to whomever is reading this in the following countries: Russia, Germany, the United Kingdom, South Korea, Turks and Caicos Islands, Puerto Rico, Sweden, and Romania.  Oh, and all you local peeps too.

I know most of you come to my blog via facebook – so either a hundred or so of you read my blog regularly, OR my three faithful followers read it hundreds of times.  Either way has me equally jazzed!

 To celebrate this momentous occasion, I’m going to have a little just-for-fun-give-away, like the real bloggers do!   (I, of course, have no sponsors, but since I’m a faithful sponsor of Sephora and Birchbox, I have beauty samples galore to send you!).

Here’s what you do!  Go to my blog on your computer (not your mobile device) and become a follower – hit where it says, “Join this site” and then follow the easy directions.  It will make it much easier for you to leave comments on what you read! 

Become a follower by Wednesday, August 1 at midnight (CST) and you will be entered in my little drawing.  The winner will get one box full of my favorite things! 

Be sure to check back with me a little later in the week to see how I conquered one of my fears this weekend, and to see why crazy cats and Linda Blair give me nightmares.

Friday, July 27, 2012

I Go Crazy, Crazy, Crazy for You, Baby

Since I'm stranded at home, waiting for my husband to come pick me up... I blog.

In case you haven’t yet noticed, my life is quite full of adventure.  Recently, while regaling a friend with yet another one of my cooky stories, she pointed out something to me that perhaps I hadn’t quite realized before – I’m a magnet for crazy. 

Crazy Me, the Crazy Kid, and the Crazy Mother-In-Law

So I stopped to consider this – and all mother-in-law jokes and, well… Jamie jokes aside, I have had a fair amount of crazy encounters in my life.  Many can’t be shared at this time – you can’t risk ratting out crazy people who might read your blog AND know where you live!  But there are a few stories I can safely share, like:

Hug me tight, my little pirate!  Things are about to get crazy!

1)      The Time a Crazy Man Tried to Get Into My House:  It was Halloween night several years ago.  It was just Micah and I at home, so after trick-or-treating, I put him to bed, turned off the TV for fear that I may accidentally view some type of imp or hobgoblin that would keep me up all night, and started perusing the internet for tips on how to create that smoky eyed look.  Suddenly, at nearly 10:30 p.m., my doorbell rings.  I glanced at the clock and stopped to consider whether or not some older kids could still possibly be trolling the neighborhood in search of candy, and before I could even get my thoughts together, the door bell rang again, quickly followed by incessant knocking at the door.

Okay, I think, well, this is where I die. 

I crept over the baby gate, stepped into the foyer, walked up to the door, slowly turned the dead bolt to lock myself in, then, pressing my body against the door and standing on the tippiest part of my tippy toes, made a futile effort to reach the peephole as I said, in a not-at-all-shaky voice, “Who is there, please?”

The aforementioned crazy man was apparently very offended by this question, since he started to scream, “Just let me in!”

I responded, “Sir, if you need help, there is a policeman who lives across the street.  Go there and he can help you.”

See how I pawn my problems off on my neighbors?  I figured it was okay though – there was a probably a gun in that house if worse came to worse.  Sadly, this suggestion did not please said crazy man.

“Let me in, you –insert terrible word-,” he yelled.  “I’m not a –insert different terrible word – criminal!” 

Oh yeah, I thought, that’s the way to convince me!  So instead of being a good hostess and letting the crazy man in for coffee, I ran, hopped the baby gate, grabbed the phone, dialed 911, and told the all-too-calm lady on the other end to send the coppers STAT. 

Then I spent the next 45 minutes sitting against the front door, recording this entire incident on MySpace (give me a break!  I said it was several years ago!) so that just in case I got hacked up into tiny pieces, there would be an accurate account for the Lifetime movie.

            Luckily for me, the police arrived to save the day (and in just enough time for the would-be serial killer to have killed me, buried me in the backyard and cleaned up all the evidence).  I told them what had happened (I left out the part where  Candace Cameron would have been perfect to play me in the movie) and waited while they shined their super-powered flashlights all around my yard.  They informed me that the man was no where to be found – shocking!  I thanked them for their time and the great amount of comfort they provided, offered them some kit-kats (shouldn’t they have said, “No thank you, ma’am.  We’re on duty?” They didn’t.  They totally ate them) and sent them on their merry way.   
We were a much closer match in her chubbier days

I, figuring I’d be up all night anyway, curled up on the couch and turned on the television.  But I kept in on the Disney channel. Just to be safe.

2)      Then There Was That OTHER Time a Crazy Man Tried to Get Into My House: Jay and I were sound asleep in bed, when at about 3:00 a.m., the doorbell rang.  We both sat up in a panic, then sat there a minute longer, trying to decide if we both had simply heard the doorbell in a dream (because that’s likely).  A moment later the doorbell rang again, so we both slid out of bed and crept to the front door.  As Jay looked through the peephole (he’s 6’6, I’m 5’2) I stood to the side, whisper-yelling at him to NOT open the door.  He, of course, opened the door.  This has perplexed me for years!  Doesn’t he watch the same amount of Criminal Minds as I do?  WHY would he open the door to a crazy man?  I am clearly safer from serial killers when I’m on my own.  Note to self – should an axe murderer show up, step one – lose Jay.

The man, who was completely covered in blood, explained that he had been dancing the night away at The Electric Cowboy, an obviously super-sophisticated night time hot spot, when he met some very classy chick who claimed that she and her friends needed a ride somewhere.  He offered to take them, but once they got out in the middle of nowhere, which was exactly where our neighborhood was located, they beat him up, threw him out of his truck, and took off.  He’d apparently been to several other of our neighbor’s homes, but no one had answered the door (which is PRECISELY why I tried to send them that ^ crazy man a few months later).  Jay called the police, fixed the man a glass of water, and sat out on the porch with him until the cops came.  Of course they sent two cars and were there in 8 minutes.  Whatever.

This looked like a quiet, peaceful neighborhood.  Deceptive.

3)      Lastly, There Was That Time a Crazy Lady Tried to Eat My Face:  I didn’t notice this particular woman as I was greeting people before church, but afterward, as I stood at the back door, shaking hands and wishing people a good week, this lady came up to me.  She had never been at church before, but she was giving me a great big smile and reached to shake my hand.  I took her hand , and she leaned in toward me.  I thought that she was attempting to kiss me on the cheek.  This is not odd among older women in the south.  I get smooched often following church.  So, I leaned in back, ready for a peck on the cheek, but instead, she opened her mouth and bit my face!  And not just a nibble.  A big ole’ chunk of my cheek was in her mouth.  And she was not letting go!  I let out a little involuntary shriek before pushing the woman away.  She stared at me for a second, lifted her fist in the air, mumbled something about the revolution and ran away.  Luckily for me, the lady was entirely toothless and didn’t break the skin, but I was left with a slobbery bruise to remember her by.

Looks harmless, but beware!

Crazy, right?  And I’ve got so many more of these… so keep reading!  Kisses!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Ooh Darling, 'Cause You'll Always Be My Baby (Volume Five)

Our case worker passed the phone to S, and she said to Jay, “Congratulations.  You’re a dad.  Come and meet your son.”

We dissolved into tears, thanked her profusely, then high-tailed it to the hospital.  The NICU was closed to all visitors, including parents (yeah, that’s us!) from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., and it was already 5:30.  There was no way we were waiting another four hours to see our baby!

We made it to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit with only minutes to spare.  But it was long enough to see him – not to pay attention to the scary cords and wires or the frightening, clear bag of… well… guts, protruding from his abdomen.  Instead, it was just enough to touch his soft skin, stroke his jet black hair, and finally, give him a name.  Micah Alan Spalding. 

(Micah 6:8 – He has shown you, O man, what is good, and what does the Lord require of you?  To act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God).

This one is our first glimpse of him.

After we were scooted out of the NICU, we called to ask if we could visit with S and J a little and maybe bring them dinner.  They agreed and said they would love cheeseburgers.  It was important to us to spend a little more time with them.  It didn’t feel right to not see them again – like “thanks for the baby.  Have a good life.”

When we got to the room, we were a bit relieved to see that no one else was there.  We ate dinner together.  I sat with S in her bed as she talked to us about all the things she wanted her life to be, her hopes and dreams for her kids, and her hopes and dreams for Micah.  We visited with S a few more times before she was discharged.  J was there sporadically.  No other family ever came back to visit.  When it was time for her to leave, we loaded her luggage into the cab, hugged her and wished her the best.  As she climbed into the car, she held in her hand two Polaroid pictures of the baby she would never hold.  I prayed as her car drove away that God would open doors in her life, that she would find what she was looking for, that someone would love her dearly, and that I would be the kind of mother she imagined for the baby she had created.

Meanwhile, Micah was fighting hard!  He was a bundle of energy right from the start, but even so, there were some very scary days, especially the first few.  He was losing weight fast and was very fragile.  I remember a very well-meaning friend saying to me, “Jamie, what if he dies?”  I know what she was trying to ask – We had spent all of our money, invested everything, and what happens if this baby doesn’t make it?  All I could say in response was, “Then my baby will have died.”  I wasn’t taking this kid for a test drive.  There was no lemon law.  I was his mother.  From the moment I laid eyes on him, everything in my body just knew – he was the reason I was born.  No matter what happened.

I guess when a baby's adopted,
a mother is born.

Jay had to return to Houston, but he traveled back to San Antonio every three days.  I sat up an office in the apartment's kitchen so that I could keep up with reports and stats and help Jay with all of the church programming.  Our church people were amazing, keeping everything running so that we could focus on Micah.  My mother-in-law came to stay with me in San Antonio so I wouldn’t have to be alone.

I lived at the hospital.  I was there every morning at 10:00 a.m., and I stayed until midnight.  I ate every meal in the cafeteria. I befriended the nurses.  I started a prayer group with the NICU moms that met in the evening during the closed time.  The whole time I was there, I never slept in a bed.  I slept on the couch, with my phone in my hand, just in case the hospital needed me.

They never called though.  Micah, instead, blew the doctors away. He did everything faster than they had anticipated.  He was ready for his surgery when he was 5 days old (it was the Ides of March, but no bad luck here!).  He was ready to be held, cuddled and bathed at 6 days old.  He pooped (apparently a HUGE deal!) when he was 17 days old, which just happened to be my birthday and Easter Sunday – what a gift!  He could start eating at 18 days old (He had to start on donated breast milk - $3.25 an ounce!) and though I was told he would be hospital bound for 4 -6 months, when he was just 25 days old, they released him to come home. 

I will never forget the moment.  Unbuckling him from his car seat, wrapping my arms around him and walking into the house.  It was a long road, but I was bringing my baby home.

First Birthday
2nd Birthday

3rd Birthday
4th Birthday
5th Birthday
6th Birthday
7th Birthday

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Ooh Darling, 'Cause You'll Always Be My Baby (Volume Four)

As the minutes ticked by, I was starting to lose my mind.  I had practically worn a hole in the floor of the waiting room, pacing back and forth.  We couldn’t call the adoption agency to see if they’d heard anything because it was so early in the morning.  We were at a stand-still. 

In my mind, they had changed their minds.  They’d gone to a different hospital.  Or they were simply waiting until we gave up and went home.  I was miserable and anxious, and I didn’t know how long we should sit waiting before we admitted to ourselves that this wasn’t going to happen. 

Finally, at a couple of minutes after 8:00, we heard the bing of the elevators, and in they walked.  After checking in at the front desk, they came and told us they had slept through their alarm.  We, of course, hugged them and acted like we weren’t worried at all!

Once S was taken back and settled into her room, she invited me to come back for a while.  I noticed that the birth father (J) was acting a little bit differently around us, but we figured he, like all of us, was just nervous.  S was extraordinarily nervous.  She had never had any type of surgery before, and her blood pressure was through the roof.  The doctor decided that they needed to get her BP down before they could do the C-section, so they scheduled it for late afternoon, and we left to give her time to rest.

When we arrived back at the hospital, we were seated in the waiting room (because of the concerns about her blood pressure on top of the already present issue of the gastroschisis, it was decided that I would not be in the delivery room after all).  Our case worker was supposed to be meeting us at the hospital, but was running a little late. Unlike in the wee hours that morning, the waiting room was full and noisy.  We sat, anxiously awaiting any news.  After about an hour, J came out into the waiting room, dressed in scrubs.  He glanced in our direction, but then turned toward the small crowd of people in the waiting room and announced that the baby had been born and taken directly to the NICU.  He spoke to everyone a little more in Spanish and gestured in our direction. 

Once he disappeared back through the Labor and Delivery doors, the crowd, which we rightly assumed were family members, turned toward us and let loose. 

They started yelling –

“How could you do this?”

“Who do you think you are?”

“What makes you better than everyone else?”

“What are we supposed to tell the other children when their momma doesn’t bring a baby home?”

We were speechless.  We had no response for them.  They looked at us like we were villains. We weren’t trying to tear their family apart.  We weren’t trying to steal their baby.  S chose us.  She made the decision.  We said nothing, but within a few seconds, there were tears streaming down my face.  Jay put his arm around me and addressed the family by simply saying -

“We are going to leave and let you all have time together as a family.  Please excuse us.”   

As we were walking out of the hospital, we ran right into our adoption worker.  We told her what had happened, and she agreed that it was best for us to leave, and she would call and give us any updates.

The next two days were some of the hardest days of our lives.  Our case worker called and told us that the family, who’d had very little to do with S, came up to the hospital to cause a scene.  Her father told her that she was crazy for giving up the baby, that she would get so much more welfare if she kept him, especially since he was sick.  Several family members threatened to disown her and told her she’d burn in hell for what she was doing.  J, who had already signed away his legal rights as the father weeks ago, had changed his mind and was putting pressure on S to back out.  Her mother, who had come up to borrow $20 (S says for crack), told her to refuse to give us the baby to see if she could get more money from us.  It was a nightmare.  The case worker told us to keep the faith, but she also said that she was not 100% sure that S would follow through.

Texas State Law requires that a birth mother wait 48 hours after the birth to officially place a baby for adoption.  We were only three hours in.  (Let me just pause here to say that not too long ago, a friend said to me, “You are SOOOO lucky that you never had to go through labor.”  I may qualify for sainthood just because I didn’t trip her or punch her in the nose).

My heart was breaking.  For my own situation – I just couldn’t bare the thought of going back to Houston, back to my house, back the beautiful nursery we’d just created, with my arms empty.  But my heart broke for S too.  She had this huge decision to make and no one to support her.  I can’t imagine what she was feeling as she thought of everything she might be giving up.  I desperately wanted to be this baby’s mother, but I wanted it to be the right decision.  I just prayed that the right decision would be made, and that somehow, we’d all be okay.

Those two days were such a daze to me.  We couldn’t eat or sleep.  We couldn’t talk about it anymore.  We couldn’t look at any of the cute little things that I’d packed along for the baby.  We couldn’t call anyone to tell them that things seemed to be falling apart – that made it too real.  So instead, we walked.  Outside, for hours.  (Then Jay went and bought us the ninth season of Friends, and we snuggled on the couch and watched it all night long – I still can’t watch any of those episodes without thinking about those days!) 

Finally, on Thursday, 49 hours and 7 minutes after the baby was born, the phone rang.

It was our case worker.  She said only one sentence…

“S wants to speak to you.”

Monday, July 23, 2012

Ooh Darling, 'Cause You'll Always Be My Baby (Volume Three)

Our "Please Pick Us" scrapbook
The hours between the unexpected phone call and the knock-at-the-door by FedEx seemed like an eternity. We had very little information about the case, and none of what we knew agreed with what he had initially wanted, but both of our gut reactions were the same – YES!  Even still, we spent many hours weighing the pros and cons.

Once the packet arrived, we absolutely devoured it.  The baby would be born to a nineteen year old birth mom who had two other (beautiful) children.  She’d had a fair amount of prenatal care and had made pretty good choices throughout her pregnancy.  She was in an on-again, off-again relationship with the birth father, and he was agreeable to the adoption as well.  The baby was due in early March.

The baby would be born with a pretty serious birth defect.

He would be born gastroschisis, meaning much of what should be on the inside was on the outside of the body.  Survival rate for babies born this way was between 80 and 90%, and the baby would require at least one major surgery, and likely 4-6 months of hospitalization after birth. 

That sounded absolutely terrifying to us, but we found comfort in a remarkable coincidence (or was it?).  Though this only occurs in about 1 in 10,000 births, Jay’s best friend, David, had been born with a similar condition, and we’d talked about it a lot over the years.  We knew that it was very correctible, and we reasoned that while some would-be parents would have been too scared to get on board with this, we felt confident enough to move ahead.  Even when we glanced at our “con” list, we both had the same reaction – 1) If we refused this case, how long until the next one came along?  2) If we say no to this baby, who will say yes?  And we both just knew, if someone else DID say yes, they would have OUR baby. 
with Uncle Dave (David was a pretty big
part of our miracle and we love him for it!)

We signed the contract that was included with our case file and mailed it to the agency.  Then we jumped, squealed, and started to share our news – David was first, followed by my friend, Carey, then our parents and extended family.  Most everyone shared in our joy – a few were skeptical because of the health concerns, but most were excited to see our dreams start to come true.

We immediately got to work getting ready for baby.  We were painting a nursery within days, and had bought all the essentials within the month.  I knew we had to prepare, but I was constantly pushing the thought out of my mind that something would fall through.

A month after our phone call, we found ourselves in San Antonio, meeting the birth parents.  We were the most nervous we’d ever been in our lives, but the meeting went well, and was much more comfortable than I’d expected.  We were able to attend a few doctor’s appointments with the birthmom (S), at the end of the pregnancy so that we could learn as much as we could about what would happen after the birth.

As the time drew closer for the baby to be born, we arranged for an apartment in San Antonio.  Jay and I planned to be there the day before the scheduled C-section (S had asked me to be in the room when the baby was born).  Jay planned to stay for the week of the birth, then go back and forth to Houston, where we lived, every few days, while I stayed in San Antonio until the baby was ready to come home. 

We arrived at the apartment the night before B-DAY, and we were indescribably excited.  We were to meet at the hospital labor and delivery area at 4:00 a.m.  We even arrived early so that Jay, armed with a video camera could record the hospital and waiting room before anyone else arrived – we wanted to be sensitive to everyone else involved, so we were fully prepared to fade into the background until needed.

But 4:00 o’clock came and went….

Then 5:00….

Then 6:00…

Then 7:00.

To be continued…

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Ooh Darling, 'Cause You'll Always Be My Baby (Volume Two)

When Jay and I decided to pursue adoption, we had no idea what all it would entail.  There were so many choices – so many decisions to be made.  Did we want to do a private adoption or go through a DHS program? Did we want to do a domestic or international adoption?  Were we willing to adopt an older child or did it have to be an infant?  And even after all of those decisions were made, there were hundreds of adoption agencies.  We had no idea how to choose which one was right for us.  

And we were definitely not prepared for the costs involved.

How much am I worth?

We decided pretty early on that we wanted the youngest baby we could get… everyone wants to bring their new baby home from the hospital.  That meant that a domestic private adoption agency was our best bet. We both said that nothing else really mattered (other than the baby’s health), but in my mind, we were going to bring us home a chubby cheeked, bouncing baby girl!
I thought my baby would look just like this one. 
Isn't she the cutest?

Finally, after weeks and weeks of research, we chose an adoption agency based in San Antonio, TX.  We contacted the agency and wrote the first of many giant checks (somehow, despite our pastor’s salary, we were able to keep up with the exorbitant expenses involved in the process.  Jay’s parents, a grant we received, and friends and family, along with every penny we’d ever saved in our lives contributed to the cost and helped us see it through).

Apparently, this is the sign you're ready to be a parent.

In November, we started our adoption home study, which consisted of everything from background checks to physicals to whether or not our electric outlets were properly covered.  Jay and I often joked that if everyone had to go through all of this in order to have a baby, the world would be a lot less crowded!  All of the paperwork was completed and turned in on the last day of December.  Once everything was turned in, we were told, “Now comes the hard part.  The waiting game.”  Birth parents wanting to place their child for adoption would be given dozens of scrapbooks to look through, each one representing a hopeful couple, and they would be the ones to choose the family for their child. On average, a couple would wait anywhere from six months to two years before being matched with a baby.  

And so we waited.

For eleven days.

I remember the day clearly.  I’d had surgery on my arm that morning and was in a huge water cast.  I was kind of out of it, so Jay was home, taking care of me (making sure I had my go-to sick foods - sugar cookies and peanut butter crackers and stroking my hair while I tried to sleep off the anesthesia).  I had gotten up to go to the bathroom, and when I came out, I saw Jay, sitting on the edge of our bed and staring at the door.  

            “What’s wrong?” I said.

            “The agency just called.”

            “Oh. Why?  Did we forget something?” I asked.

            “No….somebody picked us.”

            I nearly fainted. 

 Finally I got settled back into bed while Jay filled me in on the details of the call.  A young preganant woman had chosen us and the agency would be over-nighting us a packet with all of the details of the case.  We would have 48 hours from then to decide if we wanted to pursue it.  

            “So…” I said, half-jokingly  “Is it going to be a healthy little white girl?”

            “No,” Jay said, “It is going to be a sick little Hispanic boy.  And he’s coming in seven weeks.”

To be continued….

Ooh Darling, 'Cause You'll Always Be My Baby (Volume One)

Creative ways to get kids to eat their veggies?  Games to play to help children learn their colors?  Teaching little ones to hum the Happy Birthday song while brushing their teeth?

These were all skills I had perfected by the age of 11.  

With my mom and younger siblings. 
I was born to be a mom – and I had plenty of practice as the oldest girl in a house where both parents worked night shifts.  Before I was even close to being a teenager, I had changed hundreds of diapers, learned to properly heat a bottle, burped babies, settled arguments, wiped tears, and sang lullabies.  

I was a child bride
Even so, when Jay and I got married, we agreed that we were far too young to become parents (we were right!) and would put that off for the foreseeable future.  But a few months later, something happened… well, two things happened.  A couple we were close to had twin babies right about the same time that my birth control prescription ran out.

All of a sudden, we had baby fever and actively began “not preventing” having a baby.  When nothing happened right away, we weren’t too disappointed.  We were 19 and about to be off to school, so we were pretty patient, but by the time we were finished with school, we knew something must be wrong.  

We did all of the traditional things – taking my temperature, making charts, but finally, after nearly six years, we knew it was time to seek some medical help.

Since our insurance (and most for that matter) cover very little to help fix broken baby-makers, we entered an infertility study, hoping we might get lucky.  The study involved me having lots of tests and small procedures, taking a cocktail of different drugs, and getting twice-weekly blood tests.  Several women found success in the program, so even though I was seeing no changes, I continued on.  Since the study was about the medications and not about me, nothing was ever altered to meet my specific needs.  We just kept trudging through the same thing, month after month.

By this point, we were in our mid-twenties, and all of our friends had caught up in the marriage department, and it seemed like every month we were hearing of someone else’s good news.  I know my friends must have dreaded calling me to tell me they were expecting, but I would force myself to put my own situation aside and offer up genuine joy for them.  I would clap and smile, shop for presents, and even throw baby showers.   And I was happy for them, I really was.  At night though, I would allow myself just five minutes to completely fall apart.

Those were difficult days.  My disappointment was so heavy that it was weighing us down.  I couldn’t even say a prayer – about anything – without my heart and mind being focused on this one thing that I was starting to believe would never be mine.  Seriously, if you know someone going through this, hug them!  It is a lonely road to walk.

After nearly a year in this study, I was pretty burnt out and hopeless.  Finally, one day in early June, Jay and I were walking out of Baylor Hospital, and I turned to him and said, “I don’t want to do this anymore.”

I cried.  He held me. He told me he loved me.  He told me not to worry and that God had a plan for us.  He said that somewhere there would be a baby who would need us as much as we needed him (or her), that God would give us the desires of our hearts, and that, perhaps in a way we couldn’t understand, He was already working it out.

Later, when looking at medical paperwork, we would see that this was the very day that Micah was conceived.

To be continued….

Don't worry... I promise there is a happy ending!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Round and Round, with Love We'll Find a Way, Just Give It Time (Get It? By Ratt?)

Have you ever looked around at where you are in life… at the circumstances that surround you and just think, “Lord, I have no idea how I got here?”  

That’s where I am right now.  

I mean, I know myself.  I know my limitations.  I know what I can handle in this life, and yet somehow, despite all of this, I still find myself here, in this most unsettling territory.  

How on earth did I, Jamie Jo Spalding, become a rat owner????

Remember Phoebe's rat babies?

Those of you who know me well know that I’m not exactly a fan of animals.  It’s not like I hate animals – I haven’t made PETA’s most wanted list, I don’t belong to the Michael Vick fan club, Sarah Mclachlan isn’t singing that heart-wrenching song about me.  I don’t dislike animals.  I’ve just always maintained a you-don’t-bother-me-and-I-won’t-bother-you stance.

Probably cleaning up after some animal
I’ve pretty much always felt this way.  Growing up, my family had horses.  I can count the number of times I rode them, or even touched them for that matter, on my two hands.  Over the course of my childhood, other than the horses, we owned several dogs (we had one CRAZY dog.  His name was Snuggles or Cuddles or something deceptively cute that masked, for a moment, the fact that the mutt was an absolute psychopath), a couple of cats, a few birds, a bunny, and a snake.  I felt very little affection for any of these creatures.  Well, except the bunny.  And he ran away… well, hopped away.  Maybe that is what broke my heart and ruined me for all other animals.  

I don’t go nuts over pictures of kittens.  I hate movies with little talking animals a la The Incredible Journey.  I hate, repeat HATE going to the zoo.  It’s hot.  It smells bad. And how many times can you ooh and aah at a giraffe? 

So, there you go.  I’m not animal friendly1.

Ok, I USED to love this animal.
I also USED to wear pepto-bismol pink pajamas

And it’s worse with rodents.  Once, on an elementary school field trip, a squirrel actually bit the thumb off of a kid from my school!  Okay, I wasn’t there, but that’s what I heard.  So, yes, I run and squeal when I see one… a squirrel, not a thumb.  In high school, a boyfriend2 (who obviously didn’t know me as well as he should have) bought me a hamster for Valentine’s Day.  I was so freaked out that I finally let it out into the wild blue yonder of my backyard.  I was slightly horrified a few days later when we had a freak Spring blizzard.  A few times over the years, we’ve had a mouse in the house, and every time, I threaten to stay at a hotel until the problem is resolved, but usually just find myself jumping up and down in snow boots and screaming at the top of the my lungs, just to make sure the coast is clear before I enter a room.

All that being said, WHY did I just willingly bring a large rat into my house?

It’s like this –

Every year at Vacation Bible School, Jay and I come up with some little scheme to encourage the children to bring in nickels, dimes and quarters to support our missionary projects.  Last year, for example, we said that one of us would take a pie in the face.

This year, we said on day one that if the girls raise more money, Jay would have to kiss a mouse on the last day.  If the boys raise more money, I would have to kiss it.  (Jay PROMISED me that the girls would win.  Every day, when I, completely covered in goose bumps, started to cry about the upcoming smooch, he would reassure me that my girls would come through – and they did.  The kiddos raised nearly $400 total, but the girls edged out the boys in the end!  And thank the Lord they did, or else I would have taken off so fast, there would have been a Jamie-shaped hole in the church wall!

Pucker up, honey!

Anyway, Jay and I stopped at Petco this afternoon, and Jay ran in to drop four big bucks on a feeder mouse so that we could settle up with the kids on the last night.  I waited in the car…

Then the text came.

“Rats are half off.”

I replied.  “No.”

“But they’re so cute.”


Finally Jay called me and asked me to come in.  Fast forward thirty minutes, and we’re at the check out lane, dropping $50 on rat supplies and signing up for a PAWS card so that we can save money on future rat supply purchases.

How did this happen?

Oh well, welcome to the family, Squeaks.  Keep your distance!

Got goosebumps yet?

1 None of this applies to our dog, Dandy, that we had from 2001-2005.  I didn’t care for her at first, but she grew on me and I fell in love.

2 If said boyfriend happens to read this blog and didn’t know about the FREE THE HAMPSTER PROJECT, I’m so sorry.  I blame that heart-breaking bunny!