The only thing Constant in life is change

It might surprise many of my faithful readers that I am updating my blog again.  You’d given up on me hadn’t you?

Lately I’ve been itching to get back to writing about my life and connecting with my friends and family in a way that I have always loved.

But, things are different now that I’m back.  Some things I’m going to want to keep private.  Some things might only be for me.  That’s because my life is changed.

I’m not the married, childless, American living in England – biding her time until she could talk her spouse into getting a visa for the states.

Now (deep breath, Jamie) I’m the single (divorced *cringe*) American living in England because, well, because I want to.

Lets clear up a few things.

Chris and I are still very good friends.  The divorce was final in April, but it hasn’t been too difficult because we are still in each others lives.  We travel together, spend days out together, talk, text, and continue navigating our way through this uncharted experience.  The reasons for the divorce are ours, and ours alone.  Its our story and one that only we will tell, when and if we’re ready.  Have there been tears and heartbreak along the way?  Of course, probably more than I can count.  But, I’m thankful everyday (mostly everyday) that we settled things in a way that allow us to have a friendly relationship.  There will be no bashing of the ex on this blog – friends just don’t do that.

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So, I hear you ask, if you are divorced and he was a major reason you stayed in England – WHY ARE YOU STILL THERE?  That, my friend, is a great question and I still don’t even have an answer for myself, yet alone anyone else who might wonder and question it.  I do know one thing for absolute sure, England is my home.  I’ve been an adult longer here than in America.  Me and England?  We’ve been through a lot!  Just because I am now on my own, that doesn’t change much.  I am settled here, I love it here, and if it only had my friends and family I’d be completely happy (anyone want to move over?  Visit?  Anyone??).  I’ve searched, studied, prayed, asked nicely, and begged for an answer of what I need to do with my life.  I am still waiting, but in the meantime I am going to be taking advantage of some great opportunities for my future while I’m still here – however long that may be.

I am lucky that I still have the twins in my life as well.  They are going to a new school in the Autumn and I, luckily, get to look after them still.  They make me crazy and frustrated and happy and peaceful all at the same time. 

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Luckily, this change in my life hasn’t made me bitter and angry with the church.  I am so blessed that I still treasure my testimony and membership.  Don’t get me wrong there are times where I want to scream and shout, “ITS NOT FAIR! WHY??” but I am learning to lean on my Saviour even more to answer those tough questions.  My calling in our newly created ward as a member of the Primary Presidency has helped me to focus on the basics. 

I also have been on the “Divorce Diet” as my mom calls it.  I am finding joy in taking care of myself in every way including physically.  I am sure it is something I will mention in future posts, but I wont ever say how much I’ve lost, just that I’m focusing on me and you know what? It feels great when I get out there and do it!

In the future there will be some posts that will be private and unavailable to read.  But hopefully, I’ll keep having adventures and keeping a record of it right here on this blog!  Stay tuned!

Me, single again?  That’s bound to create some stories right there!

Fabulous Venice – 2014

Venice is a city I’ve always wanted to visit.  It’s always been on my travel bucket list, unfortunately it is one of the few places Chris had no interest in seeing.  So, I decided for my birthday I would visit Venice – even if that meant I had to do it by myself.  So I put it out there on Facebook that I was planning on going and did anyone want to join me – and luckily for me – a great friend called Susannah lived near(ish) and offered to let me stay at her house and said she would be happy to come with me into the city.  It had been a while since I had seen Susannah, we met at church and she moved away a few years ago.  I decided to take her up on her offer and planned the trip.

Because it is super cheap to fly on the low budget airlines I decided to use them to get to Venice.  Unfortunately, with those airlines it means flying at strange times – really early or really late.  My flight was early in the morning so I stayed at a hotel the night before so that I didn’t have to travel for an hour and half the next morning (or middle of the night for me).  I’ll put this out there – I was pretty nervous.  I hadn’t seen Susannah for a while and I worried if we’d have anything to talk about or if things would be awkward – but I needn’t have worried.  As soon as she saw me and hugged me it was like no time had passed and honestly, I don’t think we stopped talking during waking hours for most of the trip.

The day I arrived was my birthday but I didn’t tell anyone and Susannah didn’t know.  We went back to her charming Italian home and she made some salad for the Halloween party of some friends of hers.  When we arrived at her friends house I was instantly in love with the area and the scenery.

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We spent the day there just relaxing and chatting the women were very friendly and great hosts.  Its always interesting to me to see how people adapt and live in different parts of the world.  It is amazing to step into a home in Italy and feel like, despite the decor and architecture, you’re stepping into a home like back in Utah.  It was a lovely afternoon.

Once we got back to Susannah’s house we decided to order authentic pizza for dinner and go for gelato for dessert.  Still keeping my birthday under wraps. I did well until, for some reason, we got into a conversation with the kids about birthstones.  They were all surprised when I admitted it was my birthday.  Instead of cake we had yummy Gelato – perfect!  I have to say the pizza was some of the best I’d ever had (I was in Italy after all). I was a bit surprised at some of the toppings – we had a pizza with baked potato pieces (yummy) on it.  Here are some of the options (pay attention to the Chris option):

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At first I thought that the Coppa Spaghetti was actually spaghetti noodles topped with gelato.  Come to find out it is just spaghetti shaped gelato.  I was super impressed when the kids all ordered their treat in Italian.  I wasn’t brave enough to try it out myself, so luckily little “M” did it for me.  We went home and settled into sleep ready for a day full of Venice the next day.

We woke up early the next morning to catch the train into the city centre.  It would be a short train ride (about an hour – hour and a half) and we’d be dropped off right in Venice.  Luckily for me, again, Susannah knew how to get the tickets and get us there safe and sound. 

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We stepped off the train and we were there – we were actually in Venice.  When I travel I often have moments where I think to myself, “I cant believe I am actually standing right here.  I’ve seen in on TV and books, but I am actually here!”  I felt this stronger here than anywhere I’ve ever visited.

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The view right out of the train station…. overwhelming.

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The view over the Grand Canal – GUYS I WAS STANDING ON THE GRAND CANAL –

IN VENICE!!!!

We got to Venice early and it was just me and Susannah.  We had a concert to get to at 8:00 that night so we had the whole day to explore.  Susannah was pretty excited to get to explore without children (I think all Mothers would be).  At first we thought we’d be struggling through crowds the whole day.  It was blindingly sunny and pleasantly warm so there were loads of people around.  We decided to just walk wherever the mood took us.  When we came to a crossroads we’d choose left or right (usually the less crowded) and got lost in Venice and, to be corny but completely honest, it seemed magical.  There were streets and alley’s that we went down that literally were deserted.  For as busy as it was when we first got there walking around, away from the tourist areas, you feel like you might be the only people there. 

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Surprisingly, to us, there were a lot of wide open spaces.  It was so strange – you’d be walking through a labyrinth of alleyways and all of the sudden you’d walk straight into a wide open square.  Complete with trees, churches, shops, and children playing football (and STILL not too crowded!).

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The best part of exploring was finding hidden places and charms. 

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I love that little cat in the window!

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Sitting on some steps leading to the canal.  Not another person in sight for at least 15 minutes.

There are just too many favourite pictures here is an album with all the pictures I love:

 

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We decided it was time to take a break and have some lunch.  We found a place with some really yummy food.  Restaurants are great in Italy because after they give you your food they just let you sit there as long as you want and don’t disturb you.  We spent more time talking and enjoying lunch and then decided to head back out and explore some more. 

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After a while of more walking and shopping and eating pastries and chocolate we decided that the trip wouldn’t be complete without a visit to St. Mark’s Basilica and St. Marks Square.  In these pictures you can see how busy it was and how many people there really were.

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We decided that this was a great place to sit on the steps and people watch.  They are very strict about sitting on the steps and made us move (along with a lot of others).  We ended up sitting on the risers that they use when the tide is high and the square is flooded.  At one point (before we were told to move) we were sitting on the steps and this Asian man was taking me and Susannah’s picture.  I think he was trying to be discreet but it wasn’t working – we both noticed. I think he was just surprised to see two curly red-headed women (this isn’t the first time this kind of thing has happened to me).  It was starting to get colder so we went off in search of dinner and ended up at a pizza place having yummy pizza while waiting for our concert to start.

When I decided to go to Venice I knew I couldn’t go there and NOT see an opera – its Venice after all and I love opera!  I found a concert that was a taster opera program featuring performers in authentic period costumes and a mixture of well known opera songs and instrumental pieces.  It did not disappoint!  It was performed in a old concert hall and included some amazing singing, moving music, and temperamental singers (the audience never knew when to clap so when the usher directed us to clap in the wrong spot, after the song, the temperamental tenor stormed out and slammed the door).  It was long enough to enjoy but not so long that it got boring.  They were animated and entertaining and I would suggest anyone visiting Venice GO SEE THIS!  Even if you don’t like opera or classical music I’m pretty sure anyone would enjoy it! 

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We were planning on getting the last train of the night back to Susannah’s house.  So we thought we’d take a boat taxi to the station.  I am sure when those gondoliers saw two American women walking up to them they thought they would be making some easy money – they could say whatever price they wanted and we’d do it – WRONG!  After being quoted around 80 euro to get to the train station (the travel books I read said about 20) we decided to walk…. quickly.  We walked from one side of Venice to the other in time to get the train.  It wasn’t without its problems.  There were dodgy people hanging around in the alleys, rogue dogs, and we had to get out the phone to have the sat nav guide us out of the maze but we did it safely and with a few minutes to spare. 

Susannah and I were shattered once we got on the train (hoping it was the right one since we both didn’t know for sure).  As we were sitting there a young, dark, Italian man sat across from Susannah.  I will spare you (and her – for embarrassments sake) the details but the conversation ended abruptly with a flash of a wedding ring and awkward silence until it was his stop.  It kept us laughing for the rest of the train ride home. 

The next day was Sunday so I went to church with Susannah and her family.  I got to see more of the countryside.  The chapel was unlike anything I’d seen.  The members were gracious and kind.  Visiting that ward gave me a deeper understanding of what an opportunity I have to attend my ward here in England.  I got to spend the last 2 hours in nursery and enjoyed every minute. 

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Once we got home from church we all settled in and ate Halloween candy and watched the movie Life in Beautiful.  It was a emotional and thought-provoking movie that I would recommend to anyone.  We had a yummy pancake dinner and then Susannah dropped me off at the airport and I had an uneventful fight (LATE NIGHT) and drive home.  It was sad to say goodbye to Susannah and her family but luckily I get to see them soon and hopefully we can have some more adventures!

This trip was short and sweet but quite amazing.  Being around a women with such a strong testimony of the gospel, who is positive and optimistic was food for my spirit.  That short trip changed my life and made me realize things and make choices that will echo for a long time to come.  Some of the  things I learned and felt have lead me to some changes in my life that were a long time coming but just needed that reassurance. 

So at the end of the post I’d say:  VISIT VENICE!  Surround yourself with good friends and appreciate your beautiful life – no matter where you are living it.

Happy Anniversary England!

Today is my anniversary.  Not with Chris, but with England.  Today 8 years ago I landed in England to live.

When we moved here I had a lot of ideas about how my life would be.  I thought that in 5 years we would be back home. When we moved back to Utah, Chris would have a degree, We’d have a few kids, and we’d have a substantial nest egg and a lot of life changing experiences under our belt.

Well…. God had other plans for us – boy, did he have other plans for us!  8 years on Chris finally has his degree and is finally starting a job where he is actually using it.  We have zero kids and are now living life as a family of two.  We, like so many others, live pay check to pay check but we absolutely do have a lot of life changing experiences under our belt!

I have been thinking of that day 8 years ago a lot this last week.  Maybe it is because the weather is almost exactly the same as when I first got here or maybe because I don’t know how many more anniversaries here I’ll have.

I will never forget the day we landed.  The night before I left was full of tears and doubts.  Chris very nearly went to England on his own with me staying back in Utah.  Chris and I didn’t fly to England together because we booked the flights at different times.  Chris was on one airline, and I was on Air India.  I got on the plane and put my ear plugs in and promptly feel asleep – FOR THE WHOLE FLIGHT – which never happens to me.  At one point in the morning the flight attendant woke me up to make sure I was okay and offer me some food and drink.  I was so sad leaving I didn’t care if I ate ever again!  We landed and I made my way to the meet up point Chris and I agreed on.  Chris was landing a bit later and we’d meet up there to take the tube to a tube station further outside of London to meet his dad who would be taking us to his house.  I waited and waited – I didn’t have a mobile phone to call Chris to find out where he was, so I just stayed put even though the time was passing and I wasn’t seeing him.  Finally I saw him coming towards me – sweat dripping down his face, luggage in hand, and a look of anger on his face I’d never seen!!  He had gone to the wrong terminal and had to travel around the airport looking for where I was waiting.  I didn’t know what to do, but I followed in silence.  We managed to get the luggage on the tube and make our way to Redbridge Station.  This was my first experience of England in the summer – the other times I had been here were Autumn and Christmastime.  It was an unusually hot summer (the start of many) and I learned very quickly that no where had air conditioning.  When we finally reached Chris’ dad’s car I was ready to turn right around and get back on another airplane.  I was hot, tired, sweaty, homesick, and wondering what I had gotten myself into.  As we drove to our new house, I remember Chris and John in the front of the car, and me laying in the back seat (black leather – very sticky in hot weather) and crying.

I don’t remember many details about the following weeks.  We moved into a caravan in the back garden of the in-laws house and I tried to cope.  It was hot and I was miserable.  I remember one night not long after I had gotten there, sitting on a lawn chair outside the caravan in the cooler evening weather.  There was a nice breeze and I was reading a book called, “Living in the United Kingdom” – it was supposed to give me all the answers I needed to live happily in England.  I remember looking up at the blue sky with the clouds that seem so much lower here and saying out loud, “How am I going to do this?” with tears streaming down my face.  I thought that the hole in my heart from the homesickness would swallow me whole.

So here I am 8 years later and it hasn’t been easy at all.  It seems like we’ve been tried in every single aspect of our lives here. We’ve been down as low as you can go financially, emotionally, physically, spiritually, and mentally.

But, it hasn’t been all bad!  We’ve travelled more than most people I know.  I have a great job.  I’ve started a website that has changed my life.  I have sweet bunny Sugar.  I’ve got to serve in the church in ways I probably couldn’t have in Utah.  I’ve made a few friends.  I can drive a stick on the wrong side of the road – I can pretty much drive anywhere.  I’ve gotten to be an influence in the lives of children.  I’ve learned a lot of new recipes and traditions.

Most importantly I have made it.  Chris and I have made it – together.

I can never be one of those people who say, when looking back, “I wouldn’t change a thing!” Because I would – oh I would change so much – the list is longer than anyone can probably imagine.  But, its made me the woman that I am.  I am a stronger person now, having lived away from friends and family, then I would have ever been in Utah.  I have learned so much about myself, about God’s plan for me, about my marriage, and about other cultures.  I’ve learned to budget money, travel alone, deal with difficult people, gain my own testimony, resolve conflict, and manage homesickness – among so many things.

I have also gained an appreciation for my friends and family that I never, never would have otherwise had.  I cherish phone calls home, I say – “I love you” to my family always (I never did before), I know what its like to loose a loved one and be so far away, I know how lucky I am to have true friends (a lot dropped off the face of the planet after a few years), and I know how much a letter, card, or package can mean to someone who is struggling to stay above water.

I am hoping this will be my last anniversary with England.  And, I will miss this place that has reluctantly become “home” (as much, if not more, than the place I came from).  But, I am lucky to have experienced life here for the last 8 years. So happy Anniversary England (I wont get too upset that you didn’t get me a gift)!

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Joy?

I had big plans for this blog this month.  I looked online and found a month of questions to answer on your blog about yourself and thought it would be a good way to get back into writing on a more regular basis.  But then the first of the month came and left and I still didn’t have the motivation that I needed to keep up on a daily entry. 

Then yesterday I went to church with a very specific concern in mind.  It isn’t a secret that things have been difficult for me since I’ve moved to England but especially these last few month I’ve felt a distinct absence of happiness.  I don’t know if it is the sudden absence of children, more issues with my infertility (if possible!!), or just general apathy in engaging in life. 

For whatever reason, yesterday I was reminded of New Years Eve last year.  We were invited to spend the evening with some friends from church.  We laughed and played games and ate lots of yummy food but “S” gave us a paper that basically asked us to focus on one word for the new year.  I didn’t fill it out immediately but I thought about it quite a bit the following week – knowing full well what my word was the second the paper was in my hand – JOY.  This year I needed to find and appreciate Joy.  And I did try, but then life happened (like it always does) and it seemed like that joy I was searching for was getting buried deeper and deeper under some stronger emotions like hated, anger, disappointment, and betrayal.  Those are strong words, I know, but at times it felt like they were flowing through my body like blood or air.  I needed help – living with those feelings is no way to live and especially no way to find joy. 

So yesterday I took that as my answer – I need to re-focus on finding the joy in my life.  I know its there, sometimes I get glimpses when I let myself.  I came home and made a commitment for the next few weeks to make a real effort to find joy every.single.day.

Then I wake up today fully ready to start the day with joy – but unfortunately I also started it with flu.  So today I’ve found joy in medicine??? 

But, I also have found joy in the gospel – after all it is what is driving me to make more of my situation.  Here is a video that brings me hope, strength, and above all – JOY.  Hope it adds a little something to your day.

 

Good Things to Come

 

She’s Talking to ME!

The title of this post may be a bit misleading, but hear me out.
A few Sunday’s ago I went back to my home ward for church.  It had been several weeks with sickness (Chris), Baby (Lilly), and visiting other wards.  I was excited to see that my new friend and new RS President was giving a talk.  I had my hands full helping Naomi look after her 3 girls – but as the RS President  stood up to speak, the girls gave me a gift (or the spirit did) by making things still enough to hear a message that felt like was prepared just for me. 
She read a quote by Sister Chieko Okazaki, that has changed the way I think about my Saviour and the Atonement:

“Well, my dear sisters, the gospel is the good news that can free us from guilt. We know that Jesus experienced the totality of mortal existence in Gethsemane. It’s our faith that he experienced everything- absolutely everything. Sometimes we don’t think through the implications of that belief. We talk in great generalities about the sins of all humankind, about the suffering of the entire human family. But we don’t experience pain in generalities. We experience it individually. That means he knows what it felt like when your mother died of cancer- how it was for your mother, how it still is for you. He knows what if felt like to lose the student body election. He knows that moment when the brakes locked and the car started to skid. He experienced the slave ship sailing from Ghana toward Virginia. He experienced the gas chambers at Dachau. He experienced Napalm in Vietnam. He knows about drug addiction and alcoholism. Let me go further. There is nothing you have experienced as a woman that he does not also know and recognize. On a profound lever, he understands the hunger to hold your baby that sustains you through pregnancy. He understands both the physical pain of giving birth and the immense joy. He knows about PMS and cramps and menopause. He understands about rape and infertility and abortion. His last recorded words to his disciples were, ‘And, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.’ (Matt 28:20) He understands your mother-pain when your 5 year old leaves for kindergarten, when a bully picks on your 5th grader, when your daughters calls to say that the new baby has Down Syndrome. He know your mother-rage when a trusted babysitter sexually abuses your 2 year old, when someone gives your 13 year old drugs, when someone seduces your 17 year old. He know the pain you live with when you come home to a quiet apartment where the only children are visitors, when you hear that your former husband and his new wife were sealed in the temple last week, when your 50th wedding anniversary rolls around and your husband has been dead for two years. He knows all that, He’s been there, He’s been lower than all that. He’s not waiting for us to be perfect. Perfect people don’t need a Savior. He came to save his people in their imperfections. He’s the Lord of the living, and the living make mistakes. He’s not embarrassed by us, angry at us or shocked. He wants us in our brokenness, in our unhappiness, in our guilt and our grief.”
I  feel like you could put in any trial you may have (or have had) and liken it to you. 
That quote spoke to my sprit, and the way I feel during my trials will never be the same.  I hope it does the same for you.
Thanks lilysusannah — you’re fabulous!!
Yes, I’m a Mormon.

Experiencing a Miracle

**Just a warning… this post might be long and sentimental – so if that isn’t for you, just don’t read it and come back another day for my wallpapering post. **

If you would have asked me 9 months ago, drowning in the struggle of infertility, if I would be watching my niece be born – I would have just laughed.  But, about 7 months ago, in passing, I mentioned to my sister-in-law (Naomi) that I had always wondered what it would be like to see a baby be born and was trying to come to grips that I might not ever experience it for myself – she said that I could be in there when she had her baby.  I thought that would be the end of it, but just a few days ago I found myself sitting in the dimly lit delivery room waiting for Lilly to be born.

For the whole month of June I was on tenterhooks whenever the phone rang.  I made sure I had my mobile phone with me and charged up at all times and would go to sleep at night thinking…. “Is this the night??”  I have to admit as the time of Naomi’s due date drew closer and closer I started to doubt my decision to be in the room.  I didn’t know if experiencing this in my situation would make things better or worse.  But we planned throughout her pregnancy I would be there as a helper (if needed) but mostly a spectator – and comic relief if needed.  Weeks before the birth the reality of what I would be witnessing hit me at full force and I knew I couldn’t miss it – no matter what my situation.  I would get the rare experience of seeing the birth but instead of being the one in pain, or the spouse, I could watch, feel, and soak up the experience in a way that most people cant.

Friday night (July 1st) I got a call in the morning saying that Naomi was getting contractions 30 minutes apart and I should plan on it it happening today.  Naomi was nearly 5 days overdue and was ready to have the baby.  But, the day came and went and I didn’t get any other phone calls, so I figured that like a few other times during the week, that the contractions had died down and I would just need to wait. 

At 10:00 that night I got another call – her contractions were getting closer and although I didn’t need to worry right at that moment  – she thought it would be soon.  I tried to go to sleep, knowing that I would soon be getting the call to pick her and Mark up – but couldn’t sleep (could you!?!?).  Around 12:30 AM I got a phone call saying it was time to go to the hospital.  The contractions still weren’t regular but they were coming more often and Naomi would just feel better knowing how far she was.

I was instructed (by Naomi) that Naomi didn’t want any fussing about so I tried to remain as calm as possible and drive safely to the hospital (about 40 minutes away).  We would be having a joke and a laugh and then she’d have a contraction and conversation would stop, she’d casually say “There was another one.” Calm as anything.  This wasn’t like the movies – she wasn’t screaming or writing in pain.  She was calm and collected.  We even stopped at the shop to top up her mobile phone.

We got to the hospital and everyone was surprisingly calm (I am sure me and Mark were the most nervous of everyone).  We went into the HOT delivery room and waited and waited.  After every contraction Naomi would say, “Wow that was strong,” and then continue on the conversation.  Finally the midwife came in and monitored Naomi for a few minutes and said, “You have three choices:  I can check you to see where you are, You can labour for a few hours here and then I’ll check you, or because your contractions aren’t regular, you can go home for a few hours.”  Naomi said she would rather be checked and Mark and I went to the hallway while she was checked – hoping that we wouldn’t have to make the drive home and risk not making it back.  By now it was about 3:00.  I could tell the contractions were getting worse but still Naomi didn’t complain – just got on with it.  We walked back into the room and Naomi said she was a 7 (?!?!?) and we weren’t going anywhere – thank goodness she had the midwife check! 

From there it was a bit of a whirlwind.  Naomi hadn’t had any pain relief at all (NONE) and was getting understandably uncomfortable.  She didn’t want an epidural but decided she wanted something, so the midwife sauntered in and out of the room preparing an injection for pain relief.  At this point it was about 3:25.  The midwife gave Naomi the injection and Naomi said (through gritted teeth), “When will it start working?!?!?!?”  The midwife casually replied, “10-15 minutes”.    Then things got intense.  Naomi was in a lot of pain (but, I might add – not screaming or anything – she even apologized in-between contractions to Mark for being so whiney!).  She was bent over in pain by the side of the bed and kept saying, “I am finding it really hard not to push.”  So the midwife reluctantly walked over and checked, “I can see the head!” she exclaimed – putting a bit more pep in her step she barely had time to get everything in position before Naomi let out two screams and Lilly was here – caught by the midwife and passed up to her mummy.  Naomi pushed for 3 minutes and suddenly there were 5 people in the room.  Simply amazing.

Because I was on the sidelines I could appreciate that moment.  The moment when the veil parted and a spirit entered this world – that room.  I could have all the words in the world and never be able to describe that feeling.  This tiny baby’s spirit was face to face those that inhabit heaven and now she was here.  The feeling of the room instantly changed, the veil was very, very thin and that was a feeling that I never expected to have – but it overwhelmed me and still does whenever I think about it.

Once Naomi and Lilly were safely laying on the bed, the midwife asked Mark to cut the cord and he said no so I got to do it – without hesitation.  Then we all just sat there – looking at this perfect, beautiful baby.  Naomi was a superstar going through all of that without pain meds.  I have never admired anyone as much as I did Naomi in that moment.  It gave me an understanding that I would have never had about mothers and the sacrifice they make.

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Then Naomi passed her miracle to me.  I got to hold Lilly and just couldn’t stop looking at her – in awe of her perfection.

I then passed her back to her mummy and Mark and I made phone calls to family.  I had been up for HOURS and HOURS but wasn’t tired at all.

The sun started to rise as we just sat and chatted (Naomi was a bit out of it at this point because those pain meds she asked for had started working).   Talking about all the things we now found funny that we couldn’t laugh at during the labour like, Naomi apologizing, my trying to undo her bra (we both couldn’t figure out how to unclasp the nursing bit), and a lot of other things that Naomi probably wouldn’t thank me for writing.  Naomi got up to have a shower and I just held that baby. 

Not only was I a witness to an amazing miracle – in those quite moments of holding this baby some of the parts of my heart that infertility had broken – they were healed.  Everyone told me that I would find healing, somehow somewhere, through this trial of infertility – and I have found it, although not complete healing (I don’t think I will ever mend all the pieces of my broken heart) but some healing. Every time I hold her and soak in her spirit – in a way that I never have before – I feel that healing again.  And suddenly the miracle in my infertility isn’t my own baby – but the tender mercies and selflessness of a brother and sister-in-law – who let me take part in the most amazing experience in my life.  Words could never explain what they have given me by letting me be a part of their experience..

The past week and half have been filled with joy for me and Chris (and I’ll admit, a twinge of sadness at my loss – I am human).  We’ve gotten to spend so much time with not only Lilly, (who Chris keeps offering to buy off Naomi and Mark) but with Madie and Georgia.  I think I speak for me and Chris when I say that our relationship with our nieces make our infertility not hurt so much.  What a blessing.

Here are some pictures from the day and this past week or so (Did I mention that Naomi was home within 12 hours of giving birth?!? ):

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Mothers Day: Part 2

Sunday is the second Mothers Day that I get/have to celebrate.  England and America celebrate them on different days – if I were a mother I’d be quite pleased and make sure I celebrated BOTH, but since I am not a mother every Mothers Day is very hard for me.
I wrote about this on my babystepstobaby blog, and, after my surgery happened upon it quite by accident.  What a blessing it was to find it and read it!  I thought I would re-post it (since right now I don’t think I could have such a positive attitude). 
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When I was about 20 and attending Young Adults in my home ward, we were asked to put together the yearly Mothers Day program for Sacrament Meeting. I was asked to do a talk about mothers. Simple enough right? But it wasn’t simple. During the weeks before my talk I couldn’t shake a conference talk from mind by Sheri Dew called: Are We Not All Mothers? I felt drawn to give that talk because I felt a certain empathy for those women in the ward who were not mothers. Not understanding completely why I was compelled to base my talk on that, I followed my feelings and did base my talk on every woman being a mother and being called to help the children that surround her, whether her own or others. Little did I know at that point in my life, that nearly 10 years later I would be one of those women I had such an affinity for.

And now, how I struggle to remember the message I wanted to give to those women!

Luckily, I am surrounded (not figuratively but emotionally) by supportive women who remind me that I can strive to possess those qualities that mothers have.
As I look back at my adult life I can see how special opportunities have been put in my way to work on those qualities and, I have had the unique opportunity to be as close to being a mother as possible, without giving birth. There was wisdom in Gods plan of having me support a friend through adoption. There was wisdom in having friends who had babies first and me being able to support them and be someone they called on when they needed help. There was absolute wisdom in the answer of many prayers (not just mine) of my greatest opportunity to be a nanny for 5 beautiful children whom I loved as much as I could, and subsequently found an amazing friend through that experience, along with a lot of other inspiring people during that time.

I felt that when I left my nanny job, my next step would be having children of my own. Of course, that was what I thought – newly married with an ideal life ahead of me. Little did I know that my “ideal life” was not to be had.
Years went by and no baby came – somehow in my grieving for that dream I had forgotten that I had the ability to love like a mother. Up until just a few days ago, I forgot about that talk that I had felt so prompted to share. I was as good of an auntie as I could be to my gorgeous nieces and nephews but there was a huge amount of detaching myself from them, because they represented my failings as a woman and mother.

But then God provided me with some tender mercies that have struck my heart.

Spending time with my newest niece, Madie (*2 months old), and having her mom allow me to comfort her – and being able to sooth her, unlike some of the other mothers in the room, conference – and being told that if I was living a righteous life I had no reason to complain about trials,
and an amazing email from a special friend that comforted me in ways nothing else could – and helped me remember how I used to feel about children.

And finally today, my sister in law asked me to go with her to get her baby her vaccinations. She doesn’t like to be in there when she gets the shots (usually her husband goes) and she asked me, someone who has no children, and trusted me enough with the baby to be the one to take her.
As I sat there with the small child on my lap, and as she got her shots and cried, but quieted down as soon as I cuddled her and held her in my arms – all those feeling came shooting back to me – I may never have children of my own – but I have the unique opportunity of being a mother to several different children – of that I am grateful and I can never be thankful enough for a moment of inspiration nearly 10 years ago – of the opportunity of giving myself something I really needed now – hope.

*Written 08 April 2009
As this Mothers Day comes and goes I am so proud and grateful for the examples of good mothers in my life.  But, maybe you could spend a minute on Sunday, and look around, maybe there is someone who is aching for a child – a kind word or hug – could help more than you’d ever know.