“If You had Cancer, You’d be this Strong Too”-‘Dear, We’re all Dying, Part II’

Sometimes the most amazing things in life are the people you meet, but not only the people you meet but in the ways you meet them and connect with them.  4 months ago I wrote a blog (“Dear, We’re all dying”).  In the blog I shared my fear of dying, not just a fear of dying; but a fear of dying young and a fear that is on my mind constantly, so constantly and painfully that it is on my heart and my mind  every single, solitary day.  After the blog was shared it reached the eyes of a friend of a friend; Sam.  Sam was someone I had heard of, had mutual friends with, and have even hung around the same social circles in, but had never met.
Ironically, this is the same way I met my husband too.  Just like Sam and I, my husband and my path had crossed several times before; but God had our timing and our meeting already mapped out.
I met Sam in the exact same way, by God’s Grace.  After my first blog, ‘Dear We’re all Dying’ Sam and my path crossed again and we finally met after she wrote to me,  “I have the same fear of dying; it haunts me everyday”.  It wasn’t until then, when we could share in something special; a special understanding in a fear of dying that God’s timing was right.  It amazes me to know that we could have met several times before, just the same as my husband and I could have met many times before; but I didn’t meet these two amazing people until the timing was right.  So now, I hold the same amazing level of how I met my husband to the same amazing and high regards on how I met my, dear friend Sam.
Our friendship has been formed after the mutual understanding and mutual feelings of fear we both share of dying and dying young. Although our medical conditions are completely different (I have lived with a rare heart disease all my life, a disease that has no cure).  Sam though, has cancer, she has already had cancer once in her life, and has kicked its butt once before; at the young age of 37 she is fighting (Sarcoma) cancer again now for the second time, and is in the process of trying new treatments as she continues to beat the odds and kick its butt.  From getting to know her, I have felt comfort in finding someone who ‘gets me’, and who gets IT, …who gets the elephant in the room.  The ever looming death elephant.  It’s not something your spouse wants to talk to you about, but is necessary to talk about, it’s something your parents rarely talk to you about, and it’s something few friends will ask you about in actual detail.  Except she is a friend who I can talk to about it, and not only that, but is able to relate to me as well.  Being able to relate to someone in such a personal, difficult and touching way, and a way that is hard for other people to want to talk about and understand has been one of the most comforting feelings in the world.

When I met Sam I will never forget her response in my number one question I had for her, the same question many others have asked her too; how does she remain so positive and so strong?  Her response is forever tattooed in my heart, “if you had cancer, you’d be this strong too”.  You’d be this strong too.  This strong, response, from one of the strongest, faith-filled persons I know hit me.

samcan

I am amazed by her attitude and her light to live, and maybe it’s easy for her to say that and even easy for her to think that; but that’s probably because it seems as though she has her mind and heart trained to think so positive, to have so much faith, to be so strong.  I can’t help but wonder; if others had cancer, if I had cancer; would I REALLY be that strong?!  When so many people can find just about anything to complain about, or are so overwhelmed stressing over the little things; I wonder, would everyone REALLY be this strong?  Maybe Sam is right.  I’ve met several other survivors of cancer, and several others facing cancer and it seems as that beautiful light, the love and the strength is a universal thing; across the board from survivor to survivor.  Maybe everyone would and can have that strength and that beautiful life living light.  But what if we all made it our mission to shine our light BEFORE we have a life altering experience? BEFORE we have to face death straight in the face?
Maybe we’d find less things to complain about and maybe we’d find less people, groups and religions to hate and more people to love if our only thought was ‘what legacy am I leaving?’ Or our only worry was, ‘is this going to be the last night I get to sleep next to my spouse?’  Or like one of the toughest realizations and worries that Sam has shared, she wrote to me, “I know we will all die, but the thought of my boys growing up without a mom is devastating”. sam and boys

So what if instead of allowing ourselves to get caught up in the little things, if our biggest worry, and our biggest concern was, ‘is this going to be the last time I see my children?’  What if these 3 worries were what drove our life?  Because in this beautiful life, this is what matters, and this is what it means to be facing death and to have death at the forefront of your mind constantly.

sam and boys2
Sometimes  the most amazing things in life, are the people you meet and how God has brought them into your life; and then the other amazing thing about meeting the ones who are supposed to be in your life is learning how to honor and appreciate everything they can teach you.

sam and i
To the people that are facing death and trying to live life, to the people living with severe medical and mental issues or anyone that has a fear of dying that keeps you up at night and gives you an overwhelming amount of anxiety day in and day out; we get you, we get IT and you are understood.  You are in our hearts and in our prayers.
#samcan #peacesofmyheart #youdbethisstrongtoo #dearwerealldying

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Dear God, We’re not asking for a perfectly ‘healthy’ baby, we’re just asking that you give us the baby that you have perfectly picked out for us

 

Tomorrow is our 2nd appointment (phase 2) of our ’20 week’ appointment.  The infamous 20-week appointment where we’ll get to learn all kinds of fun and exciting things about our baby, like the sex (which we’re not finding out!), the big ultrasound with the 3D picture, and most anxiously for me, the appointment where they will do an echo on sweet Baby J’s heart to see how it is formed.

Our appointment is at the University hospital the same hospital that I’ve been seen at in the pediatric cardiology unit for the past 25+ years for my own congenital heart disease (Tricuspid Atresia).  From the beginning of our surrogacy journey and deciding to become pregnant via surrogacy, my own cardiologist has recommended that this big appointment be done there.

I would be lying if I said we aren’t anxious about this appointment, not worried but anxious.  Because anxiety is the fear of the unknown, and that’s the fear I have.  Because of my own congenital heart disease, I am anxious to find out if our baby will also have a heart disease.  Will our baby go through the same stuff that I did/do?  Numerous heart surgeries?  Physical limitations?  It has been and continues to be hard enough to go through my own heart surgeries, difficulties and sadness attributed to it, but how will I ever watch my baby go through that?  It’s those fears of the unknown that keep me up at night, my mind racing and my thoughts a million different directions.

This appointment is big, like really big for most people, but I’m not sure most people understand what it actually means to us.  It’s huge.  When I shared my anxieties about this appointment with one of my best friends, she asked the question I wanted to answer.  Probably because I want people to know where this anxiety comes from. She asked if there was a chance our baby would have a heart disease?  “well, yeah” I replied…. “There’s 93% chance that it won’t have a heart disease.”  Her response, simple, “So, you mean there’s only a 7% chance that it could?”…. “ooo well yeah, I guess when you look at it like that! Yeah!  There’s only a 7% that it could have a heart problem!”

***

Up until this fateful appointment people ask that ever pressing, more fun question, the question: are we finding out the sex?  (we aren’t) When we tell people that we’re not finding out the sex of the baby most people’s follow up to that is: ‘ooo how exciting!  It doesn’t matter what you have, just as long as you have a healthy baby!’

When I hear this, I cringe a little inside.  It’s something I’m sure I too have said to other people not even thinking about it.

But here’s the thing- No, we actually don’t care if we have a ‘healthy’ baby, we just want the baby that God has chosen for us.  We want the baby that God says we need, and the baby that needs us the most.

That’s all we want.for-this-child

This entire surrogacy process has prepared us as parents-to-be much more than traditional pregnancy possibly could.  Throughout this process we met with a counselor (mandated) as well as a lawyer (also mandated) where we had to answer specific, very difficult questions, and then not only answer the questions but also have it all documented for legal purposes in our contract with our surrogate.  Are you going to do testing on your embryo?  Will you be aborting for any reason?  Will you be doing genetic testing?  Do you want to do the test for down syndrome?  If there’s abnormalities, what will you do?  These questions aren’t the typical questions people ask right before they’re about to go lie in bed with someone (with the possibility of making a baby!).  But these are the questions that we had to answer, both my husband and I had to be on the same page, 100%.  We have been forced to be honest with ourselves and with each other.  Honest, real, raw and true; because before you can ask someone to carry your baby, you better make sure you know exactly where you stand and what your plans are.

And when all of the difficult questions came up our responses were quick and simple, no, no, no and no.

We have not done any testing on our embryo, all we know is that it has both my husband and I’s DNA.  We said no to everything, we will not be testing for down syndrome or anything else. and if anything comes back tomorrow heart issues, or alike it will not change our stance or our love for our Sweet Baby J.

Because as my husband so thought provokingly and God lovin’ has said, ‘what if Kendra wasn’t here? (Kendra is his/our adorable niece that has SMA, a rare muscle disorder) Or what if you weren’t here?’

And it’s the profound things like that, that he says that remind me why I love him so.  Because he is absolutely, 100% right, neither our sweet niece Kendra or I can be described as ‘healthy’ but we’re still both here; living past doctor’s expectations, past doctors limits and kickin booty; and hopefully both doing our jobs of living this life that God perfectly gave to us.

So while I have anxiety about the fear of the unknown I have faith that we will get the news we need and that in less than 20 weeks God will give us the baby he perfectly chose for us.

For this child we have prayed and the Lord has granted us the desires of our hearts. ~ 1 Samuel 1:27

Finding our Surrogate. The story of Mike & Beth and Mike, Beth & God

I grew up a devoted Catholic, by devoted, I mean that my dad was devoted to raising us Catholic.  I was baptized, confirmed and went to Catholic church almost every Sunday, most weekends we would have to go a half hour early, my brothers and I would sit quietly in the oak pews and for the next 30 minutes we would watch my dad usher in all of the fellow Sunday church goers.

As I grew older I felt myself gravitating to a deeper level, a more spiritual level.  As time has gone on, and experiences have been gained, hardships overcome; I more importantly have become a true and devoted BELIEVER in God and in all things I believe he stands for.  Throughout the years of grieving about my heart disease, losing my dad, Mike 8 years ago, me-and-dadand trying to come to terms with a never ending fear of my own death, the biggest thing that I have taken with me into my adulthood from my childhood is that I have always, always believed that things happen for a reason and most importantly I continue to believe his hands and our angels play a big part in our lives.  Not only in the big moments: not only on our wedding days, or on the day our children are born, but also in the little moments, the conversations that seem so small, and the people you meet throughout your journey in life.  I believe he’s instrumental in every single one of those detail.  In life and in death.

I have dreamed of becoming a mother ever since I was little.  From the time I played ‘house’ and would stroll my blonde haired blue-eyed Cabbage Patch doll up and down my neighborhood street. But just like getting married seemed to be a far-fetched dream for me; up until the last few years, me becoming a mother seemed like an even farther fetched dream. 

However far-fatched of dreams I have had or as confusing and hard to navigate to the dreams with what has seemed to be endless obstacles; I trust with everything I am, that God always has a plan and that he truly, truly works in mysterious ways. 

Such amazing and mysterious ways that this is the story about how God and my Guardian Angel Dad had a hand in finding us our surrogate, the woman who will continue to carry our sweet Baby J for the next 5 months for us.

Last winter after a successful IVF retrieval, my husband and I decided that we would begin to try to find a person to carry our baby, we wanted to find a gestational surrogate.  In other words, we were beginning the mission to find a woman that would be our baby baking oven, baking our Baby J, Baby J who is all of our DNA.  While there’s options to use surrogacy agencies we decided that this would be our ‘last resort’.  We wanted to try to find someone who was close by to us (a 6 hour drive to see a surrogate seemed much too far) and much too hard on my already anxiety filled heart.  We knew we wouldn’t be picky, I like to think we had simple requirements; but mostly we just prayed we wouldn’t end up with someone that we would end up on a Lifetime Original movie with.  We wanted someone who loved our baby enough to carry it for 9 months but didn’t want a baby enough, that she’d try to run out of the hospital with ours.  A Simple request.  So we made a video with the help of my mom and we decided that we were going to post it after the new year in the hopes that it might help us find a surrogate.  In the video we shared a little bit about our love story and details about my heart condition and why I wasn’t fit to carry my own.

That same winter, Over Christmas break I went to breakfast with one of my best friends.  “So I think we’re going to start looking for a surrogate.  Hopefully we can find someone who’s not too cray’”, I continued.  “But it’s just so weird because I don’t know anyone that’s ever been a surrogate or has even used one!”  “I have no idea how to go about one, but we made this video so I think we’re going to post it soon”…

We didn’t end up having to use that surrogate search video.

2 days later I got the text that would change our lives, “Hey I think we found you a surrogate!”

“Her name’s Beth, my fiancé works with her,” she continued.  A million questions ran through my mind: how?  What did he say to her?  How did he find her?  “I guess she was talking about how she liked being pregnant, but definitely doesn’t want anymore kids,” “She just said she had to talk to her husband Mike about it.”  She continued. 

I read everything over and over.  Ecstatic I ran to my mom in the other room and read the texts to her at lightning speed!  “She seems like she’d be awesome!” I said to my mom, “she just has to talk to her husband Mike!!”

My mom seemed to be processing the information in way more detail and faster than I was.

“Wait?  What did you say her name was?”  “Beth!” I exclaimed!  “Haha, that’s funny she said, Mike & Beth!” 

I stared at her and back at my phone in tears, our surrogate Beth and her husband Mike, my parent’s same names; Beth & Mike. I smiled to myself, my Dad in heaven, he must really be doing something up there.

*******************************************************************

Once we became pregnant we surprised all of my family the day after Ryan and I found out (technically we were only a few weeks along, but hey! We were excited!) we told my grandma, my brothers and my mom.  Unbeknown to me we happened to tell my mom on the same day that her and my dad married 3 decades ago.

 

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It takes a Village to carry a baby

 

 When I told our surrogate Beth this, still amazed at the timing of it all; her response was this:

“oh my, that is sooo cool!  It’s kinda like you got to tell both of your parents together!”

And it was, it has been an undescribable feeling  to know that we were able to tell both my parents one in Heaven and one on Earth both at the same time.

quoteI’m sure there’s some that might say that this is all just a coincidence.  But to those I say this: God has more plans with us in life and in death than we may ever, ever be able to understand.  While there is a chance it could all just be a coincidence, down to every last detail, I believe that there’s an even greater chance that my Angel Dad and God have had their hands in guiding us and are forever with us and our sweet, sweet Baby J…

When a Woman Questioned My Choice to Have Kids Despite My Shorter Life Expectancy

 

Over the summer I went to my first writers workshop. While talking to a fellow writer, a woman around my same age, an author who wrote children’s books, we got to chatting and asking each other the typical get-to-know-you questions. But when you’re at a writing conference it usually starts with, “So what do you write?”

I answered shyly, still uncomfortable with this question. What do I write about? How can I put it into words? I don’t have a particular genre. And then the corniness came out: “I just like to write about inspirational things. Sometimes it’s people I have met and learned from, people who have inspired me; or sometimes it’s my own personal experiences. But eventually my goal is to write a memoir.”

She looked at me with surprise, the usual surprise I get from people when I tell people this is my ultimate life goal. I usually guess what the person is thinking when I tell them this: “Of course, some young 30-year-old wants to write a memoir about her life. How cliché. I mean really what has she gone through at the age of 30, that she wants to write a whole book about it?”

“Oh, really?” she continued. “What about?”wedding

“I have a heart disease, I have outlived doctors’ expectations and continue to year after year,” I said. “I want to write about it in hopes to inspire other heart disease survivors or I hope I can provide some hope to mothers and fathers who have children living with little prognosis.”

“Oh, wow, that’s awesome!” she said. “I couldn’t imagine living with a weight like that.”

Up until that point I never had the right words, but she had nailed it. That “weight” was a true weight. Survivors guilt is a real thing, and being constantly reminding (especially every six months at my cardiology checkups) that I’m doing so well, especially for only having half of a working heart, is a remarkable thing. So the weight I feel is the constant pressure I put on myself to do better, to be better,
and I am constantly trying to find my purpose. Sometimes people search
their whole lives to find their purpose, but the pressure I have to find mine before it’s “too late” is an anxious pressure.

“So what is your disease called?”

I gave her the quick non-sob story about my four open heart surgeries, my pacemaker and living with my heart disease, tricuspid atresia. What came next
was the first time in my life I had every reason to cry, but somehow, in some miraculous not-myself way, I kept my shit together. Me, someone who could cry at the site of a dead cat in the middle of the road, didn’t cry at this.

“So do you have any kids?” she asked.

“No,” I said.

“Well that’s good,” she responded.

Wait, wait… what did she just say to me? Well that’s good? Good that we don’t have any kids? What did she mean?

I wanted to scream, reach across the picnic table we had been sitting at and pull one of her perfectly curled hairs out.

What did she mean by “that’s good”? Like we shouldn’t have kids because I have a serious heart disease? Like I shouldn’t try to live my life as normally as possible, like I shouldn’t still do the things I want to do (like become a mother) because I was born with a disease that makes my life expectancy less than hers?

I shot back at her without hesitation: “No kids… well not yet anyways. We’re actually going to be going through surrogacy soon; I can’t safely carry my own child.” I stopped for a brief second and imagined her inserting her petite foot in her own mouth. She looked at me with surprise.

“Oh, really?” She continued to ask even more questions about this. I was actually happy to answer all of them.

“Because of my heart disease, my doctors don’t think it’s a safe idea to carry my own, so instead of putting myself and our baby in danger; we decided to go this route.”

Since this conversation happened a few months ago, I reflect on it almost daily. It bothers me more than it should, but I am also thankful for it in the most ironic way. I’ll never understand how people can assume such things, why someone might assume that just because of my heart disease I wouldn’t have my own children. I may never understand how people can have such judgment and opinions on a person’s situation, but I am grateful for that day and for that conversation. Yes, I have a
heart disease, and yes, choosing and deciding to have children living with a sooner-than-desired “expiration date” is hard, but what would be harder is not living out my dreams because of my heart disease.

My hope for anyone and everyone living with unthinkable, disheartening and life-shattering sadness like the sadness and the realization that your life is going to be coming to an end, or that your life might be shorter than you thought, shorter than you want, my hope is that those people keep living… and keep living like you don’t give a shit, like you don’t give a shit that people are surprised you’re doing the things you’re doing knowing you might be dead soon. Keep surprising all those people.

It’s important for everyone in this world to hold on to the hope in their hearts, but for the people living with shortened life expectancies, living with unbeatable odds, it’s important for us to keep going after what we want in life. After all, that is what keeps us alive.

*This blog was originally featured on The Mighty website*  Stay up to date with all blogs by following my facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Peacesofmousesheart/?ref=bookmarks

 

THE MIGHTY INTERVIEW

This last summer I had the honor of being interviewed with some amazing people with other disabilities for The Mighty. To anyone that has or knows anyone with a disability or with differences I hope you always feel strong and comfortable in your own skin, never been ashamed of how you were made. “I want to inspire other young girls…[To do] so I must be comfortable in my own skin and about my own scars. I shouldn’t be ashamed of what I look like and the life I’m fighting for.”

You can read my full interview about living with my heart disease scars and my life goal of inspiring young woman to #rockyourscars here- The Mighty Inteviewthe mighty.PNG

 

 

#findnurserobb-Heaven is For Real

I am more than excited to share this months post about faith.  I wrote about it 2 Years ago after seeing the movie Heaven is For Real and was inspired again after seeing the movie Miracles from Heaven.

••When I was little I use to tell people that I once “died and got back up again”. I never really  knew why I told people that until seeing Heaven is for Real with my mom.
When I was little and in the hospital constantly for my heart problem I was often in for long periods of time; my mom, bless her heart, was always by my side. She had a particular nurse that she adored. Nurse Robb would work doubles to care for me and sometimes switched his shifts and picked up extra shifts because he knew how much my mom trusted and found comfort in his presence for me. One of the many times I was in the hospital my mom had been by my side for hours, when Nurse Robb finally convinced her to go to the cafeteria to get herself something to eat and drink. Moments later my heart stopped, the doctors used the paddles and they had to resuscitate me. I was just a little baby, 5 months old at the time. 6 MONTHS OLD

But years later I told my mom in detail about the time I had ‘died and woke back up’.  I was able to tell her in detail that when it happened I saw her in the hospital cafeteria and that I saw daddy at work. I also told her who was in the room with me and that when I looked down I also saw my heart Doctor (Dr. Leonard Bailey) running towards the room I was in. All were true descriptions and exactly where my parents were when it happened. Gods timing is everything. His timing is perfect when it comes to relationships and the people he puts in our lives and the things he has others do for us. There was a reason that Nurse Robb urged her to leave the room and take a break, she said she wouldn’t have ever left my side if he wouldn’t have been there to watch over me.  If my mom would have been there to see me stop breathing, and would have had to watch the doctor’s resuscitate me, she said she wouldn’t have been able to handle it.  MOUSE AND MOMIf there’s only 3 things I’m certain in life it would be these 3 things. 1. Gods timing is perfect 2. He puts people in our lives for a reason, and the length of time they are in our lives there is also a reason for that timing & 3. Heaven is for real & Miracles Happen••

It is my dream to #findnurserobb from Loma Linda University Medical Center, California who changed my and my family’s lives.  I want him to know how much his presence has changed not only my life, but my family’s  as well, and I want to share with him how much his care as my nurse helped my health but most importantly  I want to THANK him for being such an integral part and instilling a beautiful kind of FAITH early on in my life.  He changed our lives and I want him to know how much I appreciate him for it.  Please help in sharing and helping us #findnurserobb #tricuspidatresia #miraclebaby #heavenisforreal #lomalindaunivesitymedicalcenter

The beauty of an Open Adoption-An outsiders Perspective

Let me preface that I do not have kids yet, with a congenital heart problem and a pacemaker, that is not so conveniently placed in my belly, me carrying a baby makes it difficult for us. My husband and I have a plan though and we hope to have a family in the future; so until than I’m the lurking friend that watches all of my friends with their kids with amazement and adornment.

When I go to visit friends with kids I thoroughly enjoy staring at the new baby, cuddling the new baby and (in the most non creepy way, I swear) smelling the new baby. I also enjoy encouraging my friends almost 2 year old to go into a cupboard and get the pans out, entertained by the mischief he’s getting into.  Honestly, I probably put more time in watching the child or watching how the child and the parents interact more than I actually put in the time of talking to my friends, …wait, does that make me a bad friend?  It’s not that I don’t like talking to my friends, it’s just that obviously I enjoy their kids company a lot, but lately I’ve also had so much love in sitting back and observing the whole process of a mothers and fathers interactions with their child, that I sometimes forget that I’m also there to have adult conversations with my friends. Maybe that’s what they call baby fever, or maybe it’s just another level of my crazy love for people watching, or at this point a crazy, weird love for baby and kid watching.

Last month I had the amazing opportunity of going to California with 6 of my best girlfriends, girlfriends that I have been friends with almost half my life. We are a unique bunch and when we’re all together I swear people would think that we are family depending on the time of day (or night for that matter) it is. This group has quiet girls and loud girls, big personalities and laid back girls but we all bring something special to our dynamic table of bondage. What’s most special is that we all try to support each other,  support comes in various ways in friendships and sometimes when the opportunities arrive, support means going on trips; like trips to California to visit our best friend’s kids that she placed for adoption 7 years ago. It was a week in California our, #adultspringbreak.

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The best of friends at the Santa Monica Pier in California for our #adultspringbreak

 

7 years ago Kelly placed her twins for adoption. We have met these adorable twins before in our home town, but never have seen them in their own home, in California. The day we got to their ranch we sat in the living room with Eva and Sean’s mom. We made small talk and as she got to know us and talked to Kelly I could tell how comfortable and how close she and Kelly are. She asked Kelly about her family, about her sister’s upcoming wedding, about her boyfriend; and everything else that friends catch up on; you could tell that their interaction was a true and genuine friendship. She told Kelly about the kids, about how they were doing and also told Kelly about how the kids were excited to see her.

When the kids arrived home from school Sean, 7 years old came running up the drive way through the front door, still with his backpack on jumping into Kelly’s arms; kellysean

as they embraced all 6 of us girls were in full on tears. It was something so small and touching but a memory of an unconditional overpowering, love that will never be erased from my mind.

After a day of interacting, watching and observing this amazingly close family, I realized a few things; one, that selflessness and faith really go hand in hand.  But, I also realized that adoption, and in my case of observing, an open adoption is truly one of the most beautiful things to see and to watch. If nobody has ever been a part of, or witnessed an open adoption it is truly one of the most selfless, faith filled and amazing things I have ever seen. I can’t speak for Kelly or Michelle (the adoptee mom) but as an outsider looking in, the 2 biggest things that were shone over and over was their own selflessness and love they showed for the kids. I don’t know all of the emotions that Kelly and Michelle experienced going through the adoption process and I can only assume that the adoption decision I’m sure did not come easy for Kelly. But after having this family open their hearts and home to us and meeting the adoptee parents and their family (5 other adopted children) I was amazed by the selflessness and faith of this unique family dynamic. When we asked Michelle, if she was ever scared if mothers and fathers would back out of putting their child up for adoption, her response was profound, “of course” she said, “but you can’t let fear take over your life”. I’m sure I’ve heard this concept before but have never seen it in such light. They are both 100% faith filled and right in that response.  You cannot let fear control your life, if Michelle and her husband were too scared every time they went to adopt their 7 kids they would never have one of the most amazing, big and loving families I have ever seen. And if Kelly was too scared of the outcome of either decision to keep the kids or to put them up for adoption, she may not have ever let her faith lead her into the decision that I believe God, whole heartedly helped her make.

kellyadopt
Kelly, Chris, Michelle and the kids on the day of adoption

 

So many times we let fear take over, our life, our decisions and what we decide to do with our life. If we could just take a step back; look at the situation we are in and really question ourselves as to why we’re hesitating to do something; I would bet 9 out of 10 times it would be because we’re afraid.  We’re afraid of failing, of being let down, of letting someone down, and afraid of what people will think.  If we all took the faith that some have in making life altering and life changing decisions and let go of our fear; I bet our lives would be driven by more faith and less fear.

I never really knew about the adoption process, I think until it happens to you or until a friend or family opens up about it you don’t know all that it takes. I was so inspired to see it and I am forever grateful for my friend and for her extended family that they opened their home and their hearts as they welcomed us into their world. To all the people that show courage and that open up your hearts and show us the most intimate parts of your life; thank you; you are the people that continue to change and touch hearts and inspire others.

kellylast pic

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9 Things I’ve learned in 29 Years…that would have made the last 29 years a lot easier if i would have realized them earlier

9Throughout life we get hurt, and people hurt us.  We live and we learn; and sometimes it takes mistakes to be made over and over before we get it; and other times it takes the same pain or the same faith to remind us where we stand in life.  And honestly, I really don’t think I’m full of that much wisdom but if there’s anything I’ve learned through my own weird struggles and situations in life that can help the next persons struggles than I’m all for sharing! So I compiled a list of 9 of the most important things I have learned in my 29 years of life.

  1. It’s ok to take time away from life to work on yourself and things in your life; before you get back to Life.  Did you catch all that?!? Seriously though, give yourself a break!  I took 3 months ‘off’ from life last year; I know, I know it’s easier said than done.  I didn’t make plans, I hardly talked to other people (which is pretty much unheard of for an annoyingly social person like me) but in those months I found what I was searching for.  I found the path I wanted to get back on and the means of how I would be able to do it.
  2. You have no obligation to anyone if they are purposefully mean, leave you out or make you feel uncomfortable; you no longer owe them anything.  Seriously, you don’t!
  3. Losing someone is not easy; trust me I know and the truth is, it DOES NOT get easier; the truth is, if anything, it gets harder.  You continue to live your life more and more and in return think about more and more things they have missed out on.  But the other truth to that is; they haven’t missed out on anything, they’ve been by your side the whole time watching after you and taking care of you in more ways than you will ever know.  So take your missing them and turn the times you miss them into something they’d be proud of.  Honor what you’ve learned from them and enjoy the traits that you got from them; and stop counting the years they’ve been gone.
  4. It is always ok to stick up for yourself, ALWAYS.  Finding my ‘voice’ is something I continue to work on and sticking up for myself in an at least a somewhat semi-sane way is something I know I will continue to struggle with and will continue to work on.  But it’s also something that no matter how much I struggle with or how much I’m not good at, I’m still always proud of myself for at least attempting to try.  You are not a doormat, you are a person, and you deserve to be treated with love and respect, so make sure other people know where you stand on both.
  5. Some little things are just little things; so stop trying to make them into big things.  Seriously though, you are not on a Lifetime original movie; there is no need to make the little things into big things.  If something irritates you brush it off like you brush your cats annoying hair off of your clothes.
  6. Sometimes God’s planning is better than our own.  My beautiful mother said this to me and it has stuck.  Weather you’re planning for your next chapter in life, like when your boyfriend is finally going to stop dragging his feet and propose already, or if you’re trying to plan for a family; stop planning and just be and just believe that God’s planning is better than any planning you could be doing.
  7. You’ll find more peace in accepting the apology you didn’t get; than begging for the apology you think you deserve; just trust me on this one.
  8. Pain can be a great motivator if you let it be.  Once you’ve given yourself enough time to sulk (but not too much time) take your pain in strides and turn it into something better than you ever thought you could do with it.
  9. Positivity and negativity are contagious; but so are genuine and rude people.  Surround yourself with the genuine ones, you know who they are.  They’re the ones that lift you up, the ones that you like being around and the ones that when they talk you know it is truly from their good intended heart. Surround yourself with those ones and your genuineness of being caring and your awesome self will explode out of your pores too.

 

If you are inspired or loved what you read please visit and like my Facebook page: Peaces of My Heart

Dear, We are all dying

Something amazing and scary happened four years ago.
I faced death and I kicked its ass!  Actually I’ve been kicking life’s Ass ever since I was a baby, when I was born with a rare congenital heart disease known as Tricupsid Atresia.  But, the Ass kicking four years ago is my favorite.

I’ve had a ton of surgeries in my lifetime (and, by tons I mean if I counted them on my fingers it would take both hands).  Although I’ve had a lot of surgeries the one four years ago was my first one as an adult.  It was a serious, life threatening surgery; my fourth open heart procedure.

It was the first time that I would sign away my life to the doctors.  It was the first time I would draw up a will – with a lawyer I had never met before.  I barely understood what I was signing, but I signed it.  I stated my wishes:  what I wanted my death to look like if it got to that point.  Yes, please resuscitate me, but no don’t let me live like a vegetable.  I learned that life and death is confusing – kind of like us women.

It was the first time I truly understood the magnitude of my heart disease; that has no cure.

So, four years ago I went through a terrible and painful surgery.  They cut out a piece of dead tissue from my heart because it was no longer functioning.  My body was working extra hard to pump blood into an area of my heart that could no longer handle that blood.  I also got a pacemaker implanted.  A “precautionary” pacemaker; not because I needed one at the time but, because I may need one in the future.  What better time to do it than at the age of twenty five when they were already ripping me open.
So the surgery happened; and it was painful, and horrifying and maddening and spiritual and life changing all at once.  But the most significant is that it was life changing.  I’ve been told that I’ve changed since that last surgery.  Sometimes when people say ‘change’ the immediate reaction is a negative one.  But, change isn’t always negative; it may just mean that you’re growing.
I have no doubt that I have changed.  I know for certain that I have.  But the surgery itself isn’t what changed me; it was the experience that changed me forever.
It was the experience that awaked me to life in a new way.  In the last four years I have felt over and over that someone has been shaking me, “Get up”, “Live your life” and “Live it the way to want to live it.”
In these past four years I have done things that have changed my life.   I broke up with a terrible, manipulative boyfriend.  I finally let go of someone I loved for years.  I quit a job where I was no longer happy and had me drinking almost every night.  But, most happily, I found the love of my life and I married the love of my life.
I started a dream job at the very hospital, The University of Iowa Hospital, that changed and saved my life four years ago.
I’ve changed and I live differently now.  I say what’s on my mind a lot more.  I book myself to the max.  I’m always busy because I try to see everyone who is important to m, just in case I die tomorrow.  Sometimes I think irrationally because when death is on your mind constantly it can eat at you.  It brings every second of my life to the forefront and forces me to look at it constantly.
A life or death experience is life changing.  And, with it come even more life changing things happen.  That is the truly amazing thing!
I say to my husband often, “Dear, do you think I’m dying?”  And, his sweet patient, self always responds the same way:  “Dear, we’re all dying.”  It’s the most perfect, and reassuring response he could ever say.

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And, he’s right; we are all dying.  You are dying just like I am dying.  I may think about it more than is healthy (roughly at least ten times a day, seriously!).  While most of us think about death when we see someone who is sick or when someone dies.  We think of it when we get sick ourselves, when we face a surgery or face some other crisis situation.  But, it is the same for everyone, we are all dying.

So, say ‘yes’ when you mean it and ‘no’ when you don’t want to do it; and dance on the bar when your feeling the urge, and stay home when all you want to do is cuddle with your dog.  Say what’s on your mind and do what you want to do.  If you are doing things from a place of kindness and happiness then you are probably living your best life.  So, just do whatever it is that will bring you happiness and if you can make other people around you happy too, then that is a bonus.

You know what is good for you and your happiness so stop letting other people tell you how to live your full life.  Dig deep.  Do what you want to do and say what you want to say.  And, most importantly say what you need to say.  Let your heart open up and explode.
If there is anything I have learned in these recent years and living with a congenital heart disease,  it’s that life changes you and people change you.  So, embrace the changes.  Embrace that person you are today and not the person you were a year ago or five years ago.  You are the person you are today because God gave you situations and He gave you struggles and He gave you experiences.  So live them and grow from them and let them change you.  No one will ever continue to be the same person.

We are surrounded by so many opinions and those willing to give us advice and suggestions on how we should live our lives.  I recently came across a quote that I feel addresses this: “The most beautiful person is the person that is true to themselves.”  I feel that this is the only piece of advice we need and the only one that matters.

 

If you are inspired or loved what you read please visit and like my Facebook page: Peaces of My Heart

The Anniversary

IMG_5253[1]May 25, 2013
365 days ago today I was out celebrating and 365 days ago I was 3 months post my 4th open heart surgery. Ryan caught my eye, he came up to me, danced with me, and I tried scurrying away. He found me standing by the door, he introduced himself and in the first 10 minutes of us talking I tried scaring him away, I told him I had “baggage”, health issues baggage, that I was recuperating from surgery and that I wasn’t looking for a relationship. I told him he would be better off walking away, his response, “you told me all of this and I’m still standing here.”
Soon we became attached at the hip, in love and engaged; the happiest time of my life is now, since he has been in it. A man that is a gentleman and extremely good hearted and I cherish him everyday for it. I love him, and am most grateful for God and his incredible timing, it has been everything for us.