a permission slip for mother's day

Dear you,

You've been on my mind for weeks now. Mother's Day is headed towards you like a wrecking ball and you're bracing yourself for the hit.

You-who's going to spend another Mother's Day without children.

You-who will spend your first Mother's day mourning the loss of your baby or child.

You-who lost your mom this past year and will be taking flowers to a grave rather than your sweet mama herself.

You-a new mom feeling frazzled and anxious and wondering why no one told you it would be this hard.

You-who aren't on the list above but are dreading Sunday for whatever reason.

I know you feel alone in your sadness. It's so hard to feel like the only one grieving while everyone else enjoys a picture-perfect holiday.


You, my friend, get an excused absence this year.

It's okay if you don't go to church and watch all the other mothers stand and get roses. You're excused.

It's totally fine if you don't go to a big family lunch with all your happy relatives who get to live blissfully unaware of loss and tragedy. You're excused.

It is acceptable to not gather your children in their matching smocked outfits and take smiling happy pictures to post on Facebook in order to join the ranks of all the other social media posters. You're excused.

In fact, it's ok to do whatever you need in order to take care of yourself. Here is your permission slip!

I must warn you, however, this comes with a stipulation or two. (Because I'm bossy like that.)

You are not, for any reason, allowed to feel guilty. At all. Period.

You may NOT compare yourself to others on this day.

And finally, it is completely forbidden to feel sorry for yourself. 

You must be fully kind and loving towards you at all times of the day.

While the details of our stories may differ, I know what it is to suffer through Mother's Day. Don't make it harder on yourself by doing things just because a man-made holiday says you should. You are the boss of you and you are allowed to take care of yourself. No questions asked.

And finally, while I have you here and I'm telling you what to do with your life, I'd like to suggest you leave a little room for hope. Whatever you're going through and however you're feeling- you won't always feel this way. Our lives are stories and this is NOT your last chapter. So, whatever this year looks like, that's OK! But maybe write yourself another permission slip to hope for a different Mother's Day next year.

All my love,







an infertility guide for fertile people (part 1)

Infertility is a term that you’ve likely heard many times. But unless you’ve dealt with it in your own life, you may be unclear on the whole ordeal.  After personally experiencing it for almost a decade, I realized that even those closest to me still had some very basic, fundamental questions. Let’s be honest even I still had a few gaps until this latest round of treatment. I went to the intranets (Duh- isn’t that where all credible information is gathered?) and did a mini poll. It turns out many of you have questions about the process. So, here is my super basic, non-medical attempt to describe some of the major components of the world of infertility. 

 Every time I'm in one of these exam rooms I think, "Man, this would be a better experience if they put up some floral wallpaper and cute art."

Every time I'm in one of these exam rooms I think, "Man, this would be a better experience if they put up some floral wallpaper and cute art."

DISCLAIMER:I am not a doctor. I am not a nurse. I am not any kind of medical professional. I barely passed Biology in college. This is solely my opinion. Also, I’m not great with numbers. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.


A couple aged 20s to mid 30s with a normal functioning reproductive system has only a 20-25% chance of conceiving in any given month. WHAT. When I first met with our fertility doctor and he told me that number I said, “HOW do we have any humans walking around this earth?” I’m still baffled.  20-25% is an F on a test. Like, a get-your-parents-to-sign-this-slip-because-you-failed kind of F. Turns out human beings aren’t the best at procreation.

To get pregnant:
-A woman’s body must release an egg from one of her ovaries (ovulation).
-A man's sperm must join with the egg along the way (fertilize).
-The fertilized egg must go through a fallopian tube toward the uterus (womb).
-The fertilized egg must attach to the inside of the uterus (implantation).
(If you paid attention in 5th grade when they split the boys and girls up and gave us “the talk”, you already know this information. I did not pay attention. I almost lost consciousness when the nurse said I’d be regularly bleeding and expected to be cool with that. All facts after that statement remained fuzzy for the next twenty-ish years.)

1 in 8 couples have trouble getting pregnant or sustaining a pregnancy.

The Process
How does someone become the lucky recipient of an official infertility diagnosis? That can vary from doctor to doctor. Generally, however, it is recommended for a woman (within a certain age range who has no preexisting conditions that would prevent pregnancy) to try for approximately twelve months to conceive naturally before seeking medical assistance. 

And then what? Then enters (Read this very dramatically and theatrically.  Because that’s how I’m writing it.) the specialist. Also known as a reproductive endocrinologist.

Once a woman gets a referral to a specialist, she sort of starts over again. There’s a ton of paperwork to fill out (his and hers medical history), one zillion preliminary exams, blood draws (They took 7 vials at my initial appointment. Then, I almost passed out.) and other fun things of this nature. Once the clinic has gathered all this information, treatment options are presented. 

 Here I am recently right before I had my fallopian tubes flushed with dye. Totally as much fun as it sounds. 

Here I am recently right before I had my fallopian tubes flushed with dye. Totally as much fun as it sounds. 

I think of fertility treatments in three different categories. There are the low level treatments (this includes Clomid and other oral medications), mid level treatments (this is where you add injectables and Intrauterine Insemination), and then the big dogs… high level treatments (this is Invitro Fertilization and its add ons). I’ll write more detailing each of these processes later but that works for now.

How long does it take?
I’ve had some friends get pregnant after one round of oral meds. I know others who’ve been in the process for years. Most doctors try and find success with the least invasive option(because of both physical and financial reasons) so, usually people start with oral meds, move on to IUIs if needed and then proceed with IVF as a last resort. 

The CDC says that approximately 85-90% of infertility cases are treated with low or mid level treatments. Fewer than 3% need advanced reproductive technologies like in vitro fertilization (IVF).

How much does infertility cost?
Only fifteen states have either an insurance mandate to offer or an insurance mandate to cover some level of infertility treatment. Eight of those states have an insurance mandate that requires qualified employers to include IVF coverage in their plans offered to their employees. Alabama is NOT one of the states with mandated coverage. We have had to pay out of pocket for all of our procedures and medicines. Here is a SUPER SUPER guesstimate of our costs:

Low level treatments: $30-70 for oral meds + several copays for office visits
Mid level treatments: $30-70 for oral meds + $300-400 per IUI + copays for office visits
High level treatments: $5,000 for meds plus $8,000 for one cycle of IVF

 These are just  some  of the drugs for one cycle of IVF. We found an amazing pharmacy that offered discount pricing, but without them, our out of pocket costs would have been about $9,500 for drugs alone. 

These are just some of the drugs for one cycle of IVF. We found an amazing pharmacy that offered discount pricing, but without them, our out of pocket costs would have been about $9,500 for drugs alone. 

What are the side effects of fertility treatments?
The oral meds aren't terrible. Usually you're extra emotional. It's also common to have hot flashes, blurred vision, nausea, bloating, and headaches.
The shots, or stim meds, up the ante on side effects. With them, it's common to feel mood swings and depression, nausea, headaches, swollen and painful ovaries, pelvic discomfort, bloating and ovarian cysts.
Finally, with IVF, you're just straight crazy for a while. You're potentially experiencing all of the above symptoms plus more due to an influx of synthetic hormones in your system. And also you just spent more money than you can wrap your head around on those meds that are making you crazy. 

 How adorable is my husband? This is him giving me my stim shot on valentines night. Because, we know how to party. 

How adorable is my husband? This is him giving me my stim shot on valentines night. Because, we know how to party. 


I feel like we’ve reached information overload, so I’m going to stop here for tonight. Tomorrow I’ll write a Part 2 of this blog that will cover more specifics of different levels of treatments and also ways to support people you know who are experiencing infertility. 

Thanks for all of your love and support! I love to hear from you so please let me know you're reading. ❤




*The numbers, statistics and other complicated medical things on this document have been gathered from the CDC’s website and resolve.com  

stop telling me i'll have kids "if it's in God's will" for me

Hi. 👋🏼We need to talk.

Now, as you read this, I want you to picture us curled up on my couch drinking a cup of coffee.  I don't have a rug yet, or a coffee table, so just work with me. But it's important that you hear my heart on this even more than my words. I write about these things largely to give insight into what it's like to be on this side of infertility (or adoption, or anything else I write about). This isn't about pointing a finger at anyone to say "SEE? You were wrong!" rather my hope is to offer some fresh perspective.

When it comes to public commentary on the topic of infertility, I feel like I've literally heard all the things over these past eight years.

A personal favorite is the time I was checking out at Publix about a year after we'd begun trying to get pregnant. The cashier, an aging woman named Doris, was attempting small talk while she scanned my groceries.

"Do you have any kids?" she asked, her southern accent thick. 

"Not yet," I replied. 

"Why??" Doris put down a case of Diet Coke and stared at me, bewildered.

"Well, I mean...we want kids. We are trying..." I was starting to feel uncomfortable and Doris' intensity was growing.

"Oh honey!" she shook a long, bony finger at me. "You must just not be doing "IT" right!  Do you know the right way to do it?" She put a lot of emphasis on the word it, stared at me and waited for my answer. 

My mouth gaped as I tried to think of a response. Though words failed me, Doris had a few more of her own.

"You do know position is everything..."

I think I blacked out for a second and I definitely called my mom crying once I got to the car. What I didn't know at the time was that Doris was simply a glimpse of advice to come.

I once had a preacher ask me if I had any unconfessed sin in my life. (What he meant was, you must be doing something in your life that is keeping God from allowing pregnancy.)

I had another man, a Pentecostal farmer from Texas, tell me that there was a curse on my womb because I'd owned Cabbage Patch dolls in my childhood. "You got to burn all those, darlin'. Then God'll open up the floodgates."

These three are just drops in the buckets of counsel I've heard.

Just relax! You'll get pregnant when you stop trying.*

You were right to adopt.  Everyone gets pregnant after they adopt.**

You know, if it's God's will for you, you'll be able to get pregnant.

I have received scores of platitudes from many people, but that last one is still the hardest for me. It isn't because I disagree with the statement itself. What I don't agree with is the implied meaning-- the unspoken part of the equation.

When you say: "If it is in God's will for you, you'll get pregnant." 
You most likely mean: "I hate to see you walk through this. I trust God with your life and your family."
But you are also implying: "If you don't get pregnant, it is not in God's will for your life. He chose most other women to carry children, but you didn't make the cut."

Now, I'm not a theologian and I don't claim to be. But I do know God, and the more I get to know him, the more this phrase unsettles me. 

Personally, I think God is a fan of pregnancy. Jesus could have come to earth by way of a bolt of lightening, or a flaming spaceship surrounded by angels, or any other way he wanted. But heaven chose pregnancy. And that says a lot to me.

Also, in Genesis one of God's first directives to Adam and Eve involves pregnancy. 

God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it." Gen 1:28

After a little research I learned that the five major examples of infertility in the Bible were resolved with the birth of a significant character including Isaac, Jacob and Esau, Samson, Samuel and John the Baptist.

At least twice God used fertility as either a reward or comfort to a woman. (Leah and the Shunammite woman)

And there isn't a single instance where God condemned a woman because of barrenness. 

It's very painful to hear (even if it's only an implication) that perhaps God doesn't want you to have children. I know that I know that most people who make the "God's will" sort of comments are well-meaning. But I think there is a better way. 

It's human nature to want to help someone going through a hard time. As Christians, there can be added pressure to provide some type of meaningful advice. But, I've learned that the people who've impacted me the most in my hard times are the ones with no advice at all. Because what I really need (what any of us need, for that matter) is simply to be reminded that we aren't alone.

The people who have been most impactful in my personal journey are the ones who don't try and fix things. They are the ones who say "I don't know what to say, but I'm here." Showing up is the most powerful thing someone can do.

The next time you come across a woman who's waiting on a baby, perhaps resist the urge to give her biblical advice. She doesn't need to know the story of Abraham and Sarah (NOT HELPFUL to be reminded that you are similar to a woman who conceived in her nineties.) or know where you land doctrinally on the topic of infertility. She will be so blessed to know that you care and that she's in your prayers.

Finally, if you are reading this and you know me and are thinking "Oh no! Is she talking about me?" I'm not. I'm not upset and my feelings aren't hurt. When I hear stuff like this these days, it just reminds me of the younger version of me that was extra sensitive. Unless, of course, you're a Pentecostal farmer from Texas. That guy is still on my bad list.



*This phrase is neither helpful nor accurate.  If this is something you say to people- you should stop.

**This is also not true. Don't say this anymore.

in sickness and in health

Moving and the subsequent unpacking that follows always equals a trip down memeory lane. I've sworn I'm going to organize all my photos (both physical and digital) so I'm diving deep into the boxes marked "sentimental".  

(Look. I know it's never gonna happen, but you can just LET ME DREAM, OKAY?) 

I recently found a folder that holds every single invitation, draft, communication etc from my wedding planning days. 

 Please note, I've lost our social security cards and birth certificates. But I've still got these. 😏 

Please note, I've lost our social security cards and birth certificates. But I've still got these. 😏 

I started thinking about that season in our life compared to where we are now. 

When I was planning my wedding, I was frantic over details. I knew we were young but nothing could have stopped me from marrying Matthew Scott Leach (That is still, might I add, the single best decision of my life.) OR putting my bridesmaids in electric hot pink chiffon dresses. Sorry, girls. 

Many people said things like "Oh, enjoy it! This is as good as it gets for marriage." Or "Have fun while you're young and in love- it's all downhill from here." (Note to self: write another blog on things NOT to say whilst congratulating people on major life events...)

So, for me, there was such pressure to create a perfect day. THE DAY. May 28th HAD to be the best day of our lives... 

And, honestly, our wedding day was nothing short of magical. But, the well wishers were wrong. It was far from "as good as it gets". 

What I know now is that our wedding day was more of a pre-party. It was a celebration, not of the couple we were, but of the couple we'd become.  

You couldn't have convinced me in 2004 that there would come a day I would love Matt more. Or that we'd go through seasons of unimaginable heartache and live to tell about it.  

I didn't have the life experience to understand that on a random Thursday in January I'd feel more loved by that man than on the day we exchanged vows. 

I've been sick for a few days now. Not scary sick, just a really bad cold. And Matt has taken such incredible care of me. One day earlier this week, he and Mills brought home (wrapped!) presents for me. "To make you feel better, Mama!" Mills said as he shoved the package in my arms. 

 It was a pair of knitted socks with the label "World's most comfortable socks!" 

It was a pair of knitted socks with the label "World's most comfortable socks!" 

I'm pretty sure I cried. Over wool socks. 

Here's what my frantic-detail-obsessed-20-year-old-self hadn't learned yet:

One day, this man will know you so well and love you so deeply that it will make your wedding day look almost trite in retrospect. He will care for you in ways you don't even know to ask for. He will pick up your son from school and take him to Waffle House so you can rest in a quiet house. He will bring home medicine and Kleenex and cookie dough and then serve you warm cookies in bed.

 My love language.  

My love language.  

He'll feel your forehead to check your fever and even in your sickly state (unshowered, dirty hair, Guthries shirt from four days ago, chapped nose and raw lips...)he will love you.

Your eyes will meet before he quietly walks to the bathroom to get you more meds and you'll notice that his are full of a kind of love for you that neither of you even knew existed when you were engaged. 

Young love is thrilling and fun and those were some amazing days. But, to anyone planning a wedding or in the first years of marriage- hear me say this- the BEST is yet to come! 

the quiet season

Anyway, the weeks following a three month Christmas-palooza can be a shock to my senses. No more festive music, no more twinkly lights, no more special parties or sugar coated pecans (omg- can we focus?) The shopping is over, we’ve had twelve birthday parties for Jesus and everyone is one double-iced-extra-sprinkled-homeade-christmas-cookie away from a diabetic coma. 

And then everything comes to a screeching halt. 

Read More

our first house

Matt and I purchased our first home four months after we got married.  We were twenty-two years old, freshly out of college and why wouldn't we throw ourselves into a 30 year debt?  I was the only one with a job because Matt had started pharmacy school just days before that. At the time, the housing market was booming and banks were in a good mood so it didn't matter that we couldn't afford our closing costs. We just rolled those in and financed 103% of a tiny white cottage on Raleigh Avenue. 

What made us think we were ready to be homeowners at twenty-two? I am almost positive I learned in Psych101 that the human brain isn't fully developed until age twenty-six. So, there's that.

We loved our little house. Actually, it was a tiny house. We had a tiny house before tiny houses were cool. And even though it was only nine hundred square feet, it didn't take us long to realize perhaps we'd gotten ourselves in over our heads.

The week we moved in, Matt was working late and I decided to do some unpacking and cleaning. Because, you know, that's what "homeowners" do. (While you read that, picture twenty-two year old me saying the word homeowners and taking myself very seriously.) I started a load of laundry and then began unpacking some boxes in the kitchen. I noticed that the washer sounded extra splashy while it was filling up, but assumed that was normal.

This is a good time to tell you maybe I'd never done a load of laundry by myself. Stop judging me. I spent my formative years making out with Matt. While other people were learning adult-ish skills, we were hiding in his old maroon Volvo sucking face. 

Anyway, after several minutes I noticed the splashy sound was growing, well, splashier. I casually walked back towards the laundry room to investigate and discovered gallons of water gushing onto the floor.

I did what any rational person would do in that moment. I ran into my front yard screaming, "Help! Somebody help me!"

Did I mention I was braless and barefoot wearing a ratty t-shirt and dirty scrubs? Because, I'm fancy like that. 

When no one responded to my cries for help, I darted across the street to my neighbor Terry's house.  Terry was a middle aged guy who always walked around with a stern expression on his face and complained about things like "kids these days" and "idiotic liberals". This was our first meeting.

Me:(Pounds on his door) Um, hello? I need help.

Terry:(Opens the door slightly but leaves chain lock in place.) Who are you?

Me:(Breathless) Oh. Hi. I'm your new neighbor.  We bought the house across the street and I HAVE AN EMERGENCY SITUATION. Can you help me? 

Terry:Oh. Uhm, ok. What kind of emergency? Let me grab a few things and I'll be right over.

Me:There's no time! You have to come now.

Terry reluctantly unchained his door and followed me across the street. He was moving somewhere between sloth and turtle speed. I doubled back behind him and semi-shoved him through my tiny living room.

Me:Listen, you have to help me. I'm pretty sure there's been a water-main break. (I didn't actually know what that was, but I'd heard Paige on TLC's Trading Spaces say it a bunch.)

Once he reached the laundry room door I saw him tilt his head, confused.  He looked at the washing machine, looked at me, and then back at the ever-increasing-flood. Very methodically (and still tortoiselike) he sloshed over and reached behind the washer. I couldn't see what he did, but immediately the water stopped.

"Oh my gah! Thank you so much! How did you do that?" I was shocked.

As he turned to face me, he wobbled a bit, splashing even more water onto his khaki cargo pants. He looked like he was annoyed. Or angry. I couldn't tell. He picked up the black tube-hose-thingy that the water had come out of.

"That's the culprit, huh?" I tried to give him a knowing look. I nodded a little and furrowed my brow in hopes of looking like I understood what was going on.

"THIS!" He said at me through clenched teeth. "Is a hose. Water travels through it into your washing machine." His cheeks burned red. "You do not have AN EMERGENCY, young lady. You just tried to use your washing machine without it being hooked up." 

Terry attached the hose and started to leave, shaking his head disdainfully. 

"Well, thanks a lot! Sorry about all that. Super nice to meet you, by the way!" I awkwardly followed him to my front door, because I wasn't sure what else to do.

His black Rockports squeaked with every step and he left a watery trail behind him.

We lived in that tiny white house five more years and Terry never did like me.








what do you think about Jen Hatmaker?

We need to talk about something important.  Well, someone rather. 

It’s Jen Hatmaker

 Those earrings, though.😍

Those earrings, though.😍

Most of you are nodding by now, fully aware of why we need to discuss JenHat. If not, I’ll try and catch you up to speed:

-She’s the sweetheart of today’s evangelical church. (Think, what Julia Roberts is to the film industry.)

-She is an author/speaker/adoption advocate who has won the collective Church’s heart with her quick wit, sound biblical teaching and down-to-earth voice.

-A few weeks ago, Religion News Service published an article in which Jen voiced her support of LGBT relationships.

-Almost immediately after, LifeWay Christian Resources (the publisher of Jen’s most recent New York Times best selling book) halted the production and selling of Hatmaker’s resources. 

-The internet exploded, in the way it typically does, with exuberant opinions regarding Jen’s interview.

Since that day, I've been asked many times, "Hey, what do you think about the Jen Hatmaker thing?"  

And, I have some thoughts on that. But, more importantly, I'd like to tell you who Jen Hatmaker is in my life. Because, I believe everything is defined in the context of relationship.

I was first introduced to her several years ago when we began the adoption process. Like I do when I find an author I like, I quickly binge-read her entire blog. I Amazon Prime'd her book Seven and followed her on all social media. I doubt I'm alone when I say I was an immediate convert and dedicated fan.

By the time she published For the Love (this past summer) she had become an influential voice in my life. I've seen her speak multiple times and sometimes she calls me just to say hi. (Ok. I lied about that last part.)

I consider Jen both a mentor and spiritual authority.

I think it's important to know what role someone plays in our life. 

I have several mentors. Some of them I know personally, like my friend Rita from church.  Others guide me only by their example or written word. Here's the way I pick a mentor-- I choose someone a little (or a lot) further down the path I'm on, doing what I want to be doing when I reach that age or stage in life. And I glean as much as I can from their wisdom and life experience.

I give the title "spiritual authority" to leaders and teachers in my faith. I have chosen to receive instruction from like-minded individuals who inspire my love of Jesus and consistently increase my knowledge of the kingdom of God.

Jen Hatmaker has challenged my thinking, stretched my heart and inspired my life in countless ways.

"Ok, me too, but what about the things she said?! What if I don't agree? What if my church doesn't agree?" (👈🏼 examples of questions people have asked me in response.)

Here's the thing- who said we have to agree with someone on every single issue for them to speak into our life?

When I'm deciding whether or not someone is a good fit for Christian leadership in my life, sure, I look for a similar belief system. But I am equally (if not more) concerned with how they got there. I want to know the heart behind the belief system. I want to see how someone interacts with Jesus on a personal level, how they handle the Bible and how they treat the people in their life. I am looking for a leader who is changed by the gospel and actively encouraging others to do the same. (By the way, if you haven't read how Jen arrived at her beliefs, you should.)

Do you want to know what I'm not looking for when choosing a leader or teacher? I'm not looking for someone to be the final say. On any issue. Ultimately, it's up to me to read God's word and seek Him for wisdom. If I rely on someone else to create my spiritual ideology for me, I'm missing out on one of the greatest gifts of being a believer. God wants us to hear for ourselves what he thinks about the scriptures. And I am supremely confident in his ability to do just that. Teachers and leaders are human vessels God uses to come alongside us and reinforce what He's already told us though his spirit and his word. 

So, what do I think about Jen Hatmaker?  

I think she's incredible. Her role in my life isn't to define my beliefs about same sex marriage.

She is more than just a single stance on an isolated issue. I trust her walk with the Lord and I honor the work she has done for the kingdom thus far. She is a woman after the heart of God and I can't wait to see what's next for her. 





the absolutely-can-not scenario

Have you ever been going through something hard in your life and created an absolutely-can-not statement? 

I remember a phone conversation I had with a friend almost a decade ago. I was crying about infertility and said, "I just don't want to be one of those girls that tries to get pregnant for ten years and everybody feels sorry for her.  And I really don't want to be the girl that's OLD when she finally gets pregnant. I can't handle that. I won't be that girl. If I'm thirty-five and I've never gotten pregnant, I need to give up."

And from that day on, for whatever reason, it became my worst case scenario. Every so often I'd do the math and for a while, it helped. 

"Let's see... I'm 27 and we've been trying to get pregnant for a full year.  That's not so bad. It could be much worse!"

"Okay, I'm almost 29 but 35 is still so far away. Everything's fine!"

and then--

"Looks like we're gonna cut it close, but a lot can happen in two years!"

Early this year I realized it was mathematically impossible to avoid my absolutely-can-not scenario.  

Tomorrow is my 35th birthday. The worst is here. 

As it turns out, I am that girl

But, my twenty-six year old self was wildly naive and mostly mistaken. If I could travel back in time, I'd assure her of a few things...

FIRST... THIRTY-FIVE IS NOT OLD! Not even close. Not even close to close.

Secondly, in the event that you spend the next ten years trying to get pregnant, know that no one is feeling sorry for you.  They will hurt with you at times, but they do not pity you. They think you are wonderfully brave. (And they're right.)

You can "handle" this. You are so much stronger than you think. 

Infertility won't destroy you. In fact, these years will bring out the best parts of who you were always meant to be. 


Tomorrow begins a new chapter for me and I refuse to let my brain formulate an updated version of the absolutely-can-not scenario. I'm going to try a new strategy. I'm going to take one day at a time. I'm going to breathe each one in and allow myself to dream again. No timelines, no age limits. There isn't a single thing I absolutely can not do.

Stay tuned...




me too

I have a confession. I'm a really bad blogger. Like, the worst.

Five years ago I started a "blog". I'm doing air quotes because I wasn't ever consistent. 

I mainly started it so that two of my friends would stop harassing me. I'd told them about my life long dream of becoming a writer. Most likely they were tired of listening to me whine. (Fact: many writers spend much more time telling other people they're writers than actually writing.)

 This is my first blog post at " mrs. fancy pants".  Yep. Out of all the possible names that's the one I chose. 🙈

This is my first blog post at "mrs. fancy pants". Yep. Out of all the possible names that's the one I chose. 🙈

My first post was approximately one paragraph about how I'd procrastinated with writing but, no more! Things were going to be different! This was the official launch of my literary career.

I lied. It was my only post that year. In fact, I didn't update my blog again for two full years.

When I did, something surprising happened.  My essay went (what I called at that time) "viral". That's a bit of a stretch, but it did garner just under 20,000 hits.  Which, for someone with two posts and three readers (My two best friends and my husband.) is a big deal!

There had been a terrible tragedy in our town. A young mother accidentally left her baby in the car and the little girl died. The public responded with an onslaught of criticism and judgement. (Ah, the good old internet, right?)

The general consensus was, "What kind of mother would do that?" I remember reading those comments and shaking all over trying to imagine the horrific pain that woman must be feeling. As a frazzled first time mom myself, I knew how easily I could have made the same mistake. I hastily published an essay entitled  I Am That Kind of Mother in which I voiced my support of the grieving mom. I shared it on my Facebook page and, because it was the hot topic of the day, I had a pretty good run.

Was it excellent writing? Meh. Not really. But it made an impact. I said what numerous others were thinking, but kept to themselves in fear of judgement.

It's scary to go first, but it's also powerful. When you are brave with your story, it frees others to tell theirs.

Watching my words spread into our community was exhilarating. And it motivated me to write more.

Over the next few years I added a handful of essays. I talked about adoptioninfertility and the funny nuances of new-mom life. I was erratic at best and if you are one of the faithful few that has followed me since my "fancy pants" days, you deserve some kind of loyalty award.

Despite its cringeworthy name and terrible design, something surprising happened.

People started reading my blog.

I got emails and texts and social media shares. Some people asked to meet face to face and talk, while others sent anonymous messages. So many women told me about their own struggles with infertility, their experience with adoption or memories from their new-mom years.  Although they each connected to different parts of the story, their response was always quite similar.

Over and over I began to hear, "Me too."

I wrote about the loneliness of infertility.

"Me too." 

I wrote about the challenges of adoption.

"Me too."

One day I was feeling especially brave and wrote about my struggle with depression.

"Me too." "Me too!" "ME TOO!"

And more often than not, people followed up their "Me too." with "I felt like I was the only one." 

If I had to explain in a single idea why I write, it's that. Because, I've learned over these past years it isn't the hardships in life that break us. It's facing them alone. 

I've wanted to have a "real blog" and write consistently for several years. But every time I thought about trying to fill in the back story of the last eight years, I'd get completely overwhelmed and shut down. (Have you ever seen the clip of those fainting goats? Like that.)

 🐐=me when I get overwhelmed.  

🐐=me when I get overwhelmed.  

I was talking to my friend Betty last week and she said, "You are trying to write differently than the way your brain works. When I think of your brain, I think of spaghetti. Everything touches everything and it all goes together.  Write that way instead. Tell it out of order."

I might have been offended that she called my brains spaghetti if she weren't absolutely right. 

So I'm just gonna start. I'll fill you in on the back story as time goes by, but I'm going to jump right into the here and now as well. It may be jumbled and seemingly unrelated at first, but hang in there while all the noodles connect.

You should know, though, I don't know how this story ends.  

You'll be watching it play out live and that feels really scary. What I'd like to do is wait until I know the outcome, tie up all the loose ends and present you with a polished narrative. All the rough edges smoothed away. But instead, I'm going to summon up every ounce of courage I can muster and invite you to come along.

This isn't just a blog about infertility and adoption. It's about relationships and hope and what to do with dreams deferred. Ultimately it's about the never stopping, never giving up, unbreaking, always and forever goodness of God. (Thank you Jesus Storybook Bible for that perfect phrase.)

I'm glad you're here and I promise to show up and write this time. 





I’ve just recently come out of a funk.

If you’ve ever struggled with anxiety or depression, you’ll know what I mean by this.

My friend Robyn calls it my “black cave of darkness”.

She says watching me go in there is the hardest part of being friends with me (EDIT: I called and read this to Robyn tonight when I finished and she wants to go on record as saying “I never said it was HARD to be friends with you!”) But it is. I know it is. It’s because when I’m there, I don’t realize it.

I don’t know I’ve retreated again.

My brain has some sort of cave-amnesia until something happens and suddenly I jolt awake thinking, “Where am I? Why is it so dark in here?

What’s going on and where is my phone charger? OMG am I in a CAVE? OHHHH…. I did it again.

Crap.” I know this about myself.

I know the cave is there.

But, somehow, every time I journey into the nothingness, I’m surprised. I reemerge and CAN NOT believe I’ve been back in the cave again.

And I’ve been wanting to talk about the cave.

Because I know I’m not the only one.

And I’ve been praying, asking God to give me a picture of what it looks like when depression hits and what does He have to say about it all?

I was walking through an antique store this morning and ventured down the stairs to a lower level with double doors leading to a patio.  I heard the birds as soon as I reached the steps, but I didn’t see them until I rounded the corner.  There was a scuffle, a flutter of wings and I saw two birds fly away. And then there, amidst a dozen or so vintage glasses, I saw a tiny sparrow struggling to get free.  Somehow she’d fallen down the long, narrow channel of the tumbler and was straining to fly out.  As I looked at her, I saw myself so many times before. Panicked. Struggling. Unable to fly.  But surrounded by my flock.

I was so amazed at the other birds.  One stayed on the table, inches from her reach.  Two others hopped frantically on a shelf below and the rest flitted around the rafters of the musty basement.  All of them were chirping.  Each time she’d attempt to escape, she would become very very still, trying to muster up the energy she’d need for the fight.  And then she’d cry out in effort and fear and ultimately frustration, powerless to escape.  Yet, her flock looked on.  And the harder she struggled, the louder they became, shrieking and squawking and cheering her on.

Once I realized that she wouldn’t be able to get free on her own accord, I stepped in.  I picked up the glass and ever so slightly tipped it to the right, shifting gravity, tilting her tiny body.  It didn’t take much at all, maybe an inch.  That’s all she needed.  She shot out of the glass, her wings flapping awkwardly, and landed with a thud on the ground below.

Maybe that’s you today. Maybe you’re in the tribe.  Maybe it’s your friend or sister or mom stuck down in that glass.  Maybe you feel helpless watching them fight, wondering your role.  Listen to me, dear one. You have a big job. God Himself sings over us.  Zephaniah 3:17 says 

“The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”

It is holy work, the staying and the singing. You may not be the one to tip the glass for her this time, but oh, how she needs you to stay.  Just stay with her.  And you can trust God to do his job.  To send a glass-tipper when it’s time.

Or maybe

you’re the sparrow stuck in the glass.  Maybe you’ve given up on fighting.  You see the open air above you, but you just can't seem to get out.  And you’re tired.  So very tired. 

You don’t have to do this alone. Your tribe will not leave you. Can’t you hear them? They are calling out to you. While writing this, I was reminded of the verse in Matthew that says,

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows


Don’t you give up… Help is on the way. Someone is coming to tip your glass, to shift the things you cannot control and help you find your way.  I know it feels like you're here to stay, at the bottom of this smelly old glass.  But you aren't.  I promise.

She limped a bit at first, visibly tired and hindered by her time in confinement.

Her flock whooshed in though, flanking all sides, their tinny victory cries bouncing off the dusty glassware around us.

Then all of a sudden in one effortless motion, she shot into the air.

She remembered she could fly.  

And I watched, as one by one, the other birds fell into formation behind her, and they all flew out the open doors into the dewy morning air.

take up your whole mat

I’ve recently started back to yoga.  And, yes, I am fully aware that any time I write about an athletic adventure, I am in the process of “starting back”.  That’s because I’m very talented at the quitting of the working out and not so skilled at the sticking to the working out.  Whatever.  Stop judging me.  

Anyway, yoga is the hardest physical endeavor I’ve ever participated in.  Why? Because in addition to moving and breathing (at the same time!!!) I also have to wrangle my brain.  And, I know you’re not inside to see the landscape, but let me just tell you… it’s a jungle in there!

I’m not an athletic person by nature.  Shocking, right?  I “played” volleyball in high school and the only recognition I ever received was “most improved” my freshman year.  Which, is interesting because I didn’t play my freshman year.  I had switched school systems and had to sit out a year before becoming eligible.  I practiced with the team, though and managed to hit people in the back of the head with the ball, rotate in the wrong direction and trip the setter on the regular.  I think they felt sorry for me and gave me the award when I learned how to get the ball over the net every once in a while.

My first day back to yoga was in the beginning of January.  January 2nd to be exact.  We’ve joined a fancy new gym that has it’s own studio and along with seventy two other New Year’s resolutioners, I grabbed a mat and found a place on the floor. It was so crowded in that room.  At one point, a limber, 40-something year old wearing the complete Lulu Lemon spring collection propped her leg on my shoulder to get a deeper stretch.  To my right was a gaggle of teenage girls.  I am not kidding you when I say they can wrap their arms around their feet two times.  Which, to be honest, they have an incredibly unfair advantage.  When you are only 14 years out of the uterus, you are still partially folded.  Talk to me in another twenty years, ladies.  

Anyway, my first class back was a disaster. I couldn’t clear my mind and I definitely couldn’t hold my downward dog. I can't even touch my toes for crying out loud! I would focus on breathing and forget to pose.  So I’d focus on the pose and realize I was holding my breath.  Hot mess.  I met up with a teacher a few days later in hopes of some guidance. She walked me through a few vinyasas (This is fancy yoga lingo for sequences.) and undoubtedly was fighting off hysterical laughter.  But, what she told me resonated so strongly with my heart that I just have to tell you.  

She said, “One thing you really need to work on is taking up your whole mat. Many women try and stay small and compact in yoga, but you’ve got an entire mat… take up every inch of your space.”

You guys! I just can’t believe how true that is.  I see this so much in my own life and those around me.  As women we try to be as small as we can, learning from childhood that tiny is attractive and acceptable. We try and whittle our physical bodies down often hurting ourselves and hurting the younger generations watching.  We try and lessen large personalities in hopes of fitting in.  “Be little, be quiet, don’t make waves” we’re told from pulpits and media and society at large.  But it’s a LIE! No one ever achieved greatness by hiding. True joy can’t be found if you’re focused on shrinking.  Plant your feet wide and fling your arms up towards the sky.  You’ve been given one beautiful life! Breathe it in deeply taking up EVERY INCH OF YOUR SPACE! Live big and wild and free! Oh, and if you see me in a yoga class, you should keep your distance.  I’m still a danger to those around me.  

Santa Baby

I really wanted a Christmas pregnancy announcement. I can still remember that first Christmas so vividly. The year Matt and I started trying to get pregnant, Facebook was still shiny and new and mostly authentic. For the past few years I’d watched friends and sorority sisters announce pregnancy in outrageous and beautiful ways, but for me, I just wanted Christmas. Early Christmas morning I’d give Matt a gift surprising him with our news and we’d spend the rest of the day glowing and telling our family and friends. In coordinating Christmas sweaters. It would be magical. Years later we’d watch the video footage and tell our babies the story as a Christmas tradition. (Can you tell I watched a few Hallmark movies growing up? Ok, a lot.) I was so fascinated with this idea that when we didn’t get pregnant in September or October, I sort of laughed to myself thinking “What an awesome inconvenience! This is going to be perfect!” Those were the days that I still thought just deciding you wanted a baby and trying were enough.

I remember parking in the garden section of Walmart, heart pounding at the thought of someone seeing me. I walked through the Christmas section and picked up a “Baby’s First Christmas” ornament- first blue, then pink, then blue again. Maybe I’d wrap one of those and watch Matt laugh and then cry upon realizing our news- he was going to be a DAD! A section of novelty gifts caught my eye and I wandered over gasping when I saw a fat white coffee mug that said “World’s Best Dad”. Giggling, I stashed it under my purse in my buggy and laughed again when the cashier winked knowingly at me. I also purchased two slim white frames to put our ultrasound in and give to each set of grandparents-to-be.

Although not “officially” pregnant yet, we’d already been trying for three months and most of my friends had taken around that long. It was only a matter of days until I took another test and surely it would be positive. Except it wasn’t. I think I held on to that mug for three more Christmases, (36 more months that ended in "no")smashing it in the driveway one particularly hard December day.  My neighbor pretended not to see me crying as she helped me pick up pieces of cheap shattered clay.

The holidays are in full swing and if you are waiting for a baby(or your second, or fifth!) it can be an excruciating time. Although my family is certainly growing, it’s eight Christmases later and I never got my announcement. I DID, however, get a little experience at this whole gig so I thought I’d put together a list that might be helpful to you this year.

How to navigate an infertile Christmas:
1)Be honest- I know that ideally you would NEVER have to talk about “trying” around your grandfather and his famous Christmas ham (because that means PawPaw knows you’re having s-e-x) but this is not a time to fake it till you make it. If you are a while into the trenches of infertility, you may want to think about telling your family at least in part what you’re going through. Chances are, they have been through this before (or dearly love someone who has). If they haven’t, they are still your family and they love you. They are much more likely to respect whatever amount of privacy you want if they have an idea of what’s going on. And at least the slew of insensitive questions will stop (or slow). You’re never going to make it through forced small talk and seven rounds of Dirty Santa while Aunt Lucy bubbles through her eggnog “WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO GIVE ME A NIECE OR A NEPHEW??”

Which leads me to #2…

2)Have a script- Decide with your husband how much you want to share this year and come up with a few concise but relevant statements that will not only inform your eggnog laden crew but help them realize you need some time before you discuss it further.

“I want you to know, but I’d rather not talk about it right now.”

“We have actually been trying for a while now. Maybe after the holidays we can catch up.”

“Whenever we have news, I’ll be sure and share it with you!”

“I’m going to punch you if you ask me one more thing about babies!” (just kidding)

You could also call (read:TEXT) ahead of time and fill in your family/friends. That will help take the spotlight off of you and minimize awkward conversations.

3)Don’t go- Take the pressure off yourself to attend every party and event that comes your way this season. Sometimes it’s just too hard and THAT’S OK. Give yourself permission to decide what you can do this year and what is too much. You don’t owe anyone an explanation and a simple “I can’t make it this year” is perfectly acceptable. Besides, when you roll in with your TWINS next year, they'll never remember your absence.

4)Don’t lose heart!- When you’re surrounded with the world’s greatest pregnancy story (of a VIRGIN who WASN’T EVEN TRYING), a holiday centered on children, and hundreds of Christmas cards of all your people’s beautiful families, it can be tempting to be overwhelmed with sadness. Don’t give into that. You won’t always feel this way- I promise! And you aren't alone...if you want to talk, shoot me a message.  I can promise you I understand.
Remember that the same God that sent Jesus to the world is also your “Father in Heaven” who will “give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Mt 7:11) He is the one that put the desire in your heart to become a mama, so you can rest assured that one way or another He will fulfill it. Stay positive and find joy in this season every way you can.

when "not racist" is not enough

Today in the state of Alabama confederate flags were removed from government property at the order of the governor.  And then the Internet went berserk. 

“I am not racist, BUT…”
I read this phrase over and over and over. 
BUT this is my heritage! You can’t take history away!”
BUT you can’t strip away my rights!”
BUT this is the SOUTH!”

You began posting mini history lessons about the origin of the flag and that it was never intended to be a symbol of racism and it wasn’t created for evil, and I hear you. 

“I’m not racist,” you say.  And I believe you.

But “not racist” isn’t enough.  Jesus never called us to be “not racist”, you guys.  He called us to be LOVE.  And Love is so much more.

Love is patient and kind;
Love does not envy or boast;
it is not arrogant or rude.
It does not insist on its own way;
It is not irritable or resentful;
It does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth…
Love never ends.”
(1 Corinthians 13 from The Message Translation)

“Not racist” nods at the wrongs that were done but puts emphasis on "harmless" tradition.  “Not racist” demands personal rights and freedoms remain at all costs.  "Not racist" insists that things stay the same.

But Love. Love chooses to sacrifice those entitlements to protect others. “Not racist” is mostly concerned with self, but Love says, “You matter more than me.”  Love says, “PEOPLE matter more than a flag, or a tradition or ANY OTHER FACTOR added to the equation.  And if giving up my right to fly a flag will remind you of that Love…. It’s worth it. YOU are worth it.”

So, to my friends and peers and neighbors and family and the litany of others raging on social forums because of this “loss”… I ask you this.  Is “not-racist” enough for you? We were never called to be just enough.  We were called for so much more. 

We can change the world, you guys.  But we have to start with Love.

on eating. and then not.

I decided to become anorexic while riding the bus one morning in the spring of sixth grade.  I hadn’t heard that word before and wasn’t sure what the requirements were, but all of the glamorous eighth grade girls sitting in the back were talking about becoming it, too. They said they needed to get bikini-ready.  Maybe I could convince my mom to let me wear a bikini if I was “ready”. Every day I’d look back at those girls in awe, longing to be like them.

No one looked at me in awe during my sixth grade year.  Or my seventh or eighth for that matter. I was a lanky kid with a disproportionate body. I had freckles (But not the cute kind), a tangled mass of frizzy hair, and a huge gap in my really huge teeth. (But not the intriguing kind models have. More the, “oh somebody get that girl some orthodontia!” kind.)

I was determined to get a new look. Even though I didn’t really understand the concept of dieting, the glitterati had leaked a secret and I WANTED IN! No one was allowed to sit in the back except the beautiful people of the eighth grade, so I settled a few rows up straining to hear the rules.  I overheard, “never eat lunch” and “drink a lot of…” and a few other chopped up phrases I couldn’t make out. 

“Never eat lunch” was all I had to go with. That was my plan and I began with great gusto.

Unfortunately for my “new look”, it was tater-tot-Thursday in the lunchroom so I fell off the wagon less than five hours after I began. And I never thought about a diet again for the next ten years.


A friend asked me earlier this week, “What was it like when you had an eating disorder?” And so I’ve been thinking really hard about how to answer that. 

I don’t really like the word disorder.  I like to say I had some eating "confusion".  It’s not as if I went to bed healthy and woke up sick.  It would have been super helpful if a runny nose or unbearable toe pain had accompanied my condition.  I might have thought to call someone about it.  But it wasn’t like that at all.  It was quiet and slow.  So much so that I wasn’t sure anything was wrong… until it was.

I confused the fact that food kept me alive with the idea that food was my enemy. I forgot that eating was an every day thing. And three times? It felt like overkill. 

I ate to make myself feel better and I starved to make myself feel nothing and I couldn’t remember how I’d gotten there. But I knew I didn't want to leave.
It was terrifying and intoxicating.

I was confused when people would say, “You are too thin! You should eat!” and I thought perhaps people were playing a trick on me. Clearly this was a plot to make me fat. I could see myself in the mirror- couldn’t they??

“I am really worried about you.” My friends talked in serious, hushed tones, and Matt always had sad eyes when he looked at me. Before long, everyone was trying to help but no one was helpful. 

You see, I was so confused that I didn’t think I needed help. What I needed was to stay in control.  I thought I was happy and headed towards healthy. (After I lost a few more pounds…) I forgot that my size didn’t make me worthy.

 The other day I came across a quote I love.  Albert Camus says,

Don't walk behind me; I may not lead.
Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow.
Just walk beside me and be my friend.

That. That is a picture of how I began to heal. 

All of the people in front looked back at me offering milkshakes and disappointment and judgment.  I was afraid they were right about me.  And so I was angry with them.

And those who were behind me? They’d fallen back, deciding I wouldn’t change.  In their minds, I could get better if I wanted. That scared me too.

But there were a handful of friends, steady and constant. They didn’t tell me what to do; they didn’t give up on me.  And finally, when confusion gave way to reality, I felt safe enough to whisper a “help”. They heard me and came rushing in.

You guys, if this is you, you aren’t alone.  You’re just a little confused.  When you are ready (You already are. Trust me.) Look to your left and your right.  See who is there.  These are your people.  It doesn't matter if you are confused about eating or marriage or faith or even fashion. (Because, priorities!) Be brave and let them love you into wholeness. Into who you were created to be.

My entourage stayed the course in the difficult months ahead.  Day after day they loved me and did all the wonderful things. They were terribly clingy with their overly healthy selves and I hoped they’d find someone new to help, but THEY WOULD NOT BE MOVED. 

They reminded me that Jesus thinks I’m worthy, and that is enough. They did this one million times a day in case I forgot again.

I still get confused sometimes.  But my people are always right there, keeping an eye on me.  I am telling you, one misstep and THE SAINTS COME MARCHING IN!  I can’t get rid of them.  It’s better this way, though.  For me, I need friends beside me to help me remember the truth.

hunt or be hunted

You guys know how much I love Jesus, so obviously when our neighborhood hosted an Easter egg hunt last weekend, I had a religious obligation to take Mills.

It's important to note that I have a great appreciation for healthy competition.  When I know a prize is at stake, I am OVERCOME by a primal urge to win.  I’ve triggered such chaos in a Dirty Santa party (or two) that friendships have ended. (all because I stole a stupid travel kit and licked the toothbrush inside to secure my win). Once, I made a girl cry during a game of Catch Phrase with our church group.  But, everyone knows you don’t mix religion and game night.  And also, she was the worst Catch Phraser in the history of ever.  She wasn’t even trying. So, that one wasn’t really my fault. 

Saturday morning my neighbor texted to ask if we were going to the Easter egg hunt at the park.  Immediately my heart rate elevated because I DIDN’T KNOW the hunt was that morning.  I hadn’t had a chance to mentally prepare or come up with a game plan. I’d yet to do the first practice run or egg finding drill with Mills. 

It was one of the first beautiful days of spring and Matt thought we would walk to the park and enjoy the sunshine.  I thought this was a terrible idea because Mills would clearly lag behind and slow us down.  (have you tried walking with a toddler lately?)  He did not appreciate that observation or my proposal to take the car (because SPEED! And PARKING!), so I shoved Mills in a stroller instructing him to keep his feet from dragging the ground.  I instructed Matt to refrain from commentary about Mills being a foot too tall for the stroller.

With T-minus 60 minutes to go, we rolled down the driveway.  Matt seemed to be struggling with math as he repeatedly reminded me that we were only a five minute walk away and advised me to calm down. Agitated, I explained the need to factor in time for inclement weather, foot traffic and other various possible delays.  I hadn’t even hit a brisk mall-walking pace before Matt suggested I was running.  I suggested that he keep up. 
We were almost to the park and hadn’t seen any of the competition.  Feeling nervous, I Googled the hunt to double-check the time.  Much to my horror, a flier appeared stating the hunt was taking place AT THE PARK ACROSS TOWN.


It’s a little fuzzy at this point, but I remember running back towards the house in a panic, screaming at my family to hurry up so we could “GET THERE AND HAVE SOME FREAKING FUN!!!”

I’ll spare you the details of the car ride over except to mention Matt’s threats to take my phone away if I didn’t stop checking the time and yelling at traffic. And also setting a terrible example for our son.  Meanwhile, I was facing the back seat chanting, “Get those eggs! Get those eggs! Push! Shove! HIT! Just, GET THOSE EGGS!" in hopes of raising Mills’ adrenaline so he would be game-time ready. 

There is a chance I jumped out of the car before we had come to a complete stop.  “KEEP UP!” I howled over my shoulder and began jogging towards the field. 

The set-up was tricky.  The grass was sectioned off into four different squares surrounded by caution tape.  Each square was labeled with a different age group and had one million eggs smashed inside.

Although the competition wasn’t particularly impressive, the crowd was thick and the odds were stacked against us. I pushed my way to the front of the “zero to three” zone and anxiously looked for the guys.  Matt was just strolling along (SLOWER THAN A SLUG) and I screamed, “HURRY! THEY ARE STARTING IN LESS THAN SIXTY SECONDS.”  This didn’t go over well.  Also, my timing was a little off.

While Matt pretended not to know me and introduced Mills to kids all around (=the FRAY!) I came up with several strategies.  My cheeks were on fire and I could hear my heart beat throbbing in my ears as a teenager held up a megaphone to make some announcements.  He said, “The sparkly eggs have prizes, please make sure your child doesn’t get more than one.”  Frantically, I began to point Mills in the direction of the closest sparkly egg and explain the importance of getting that one first.  Allegedly I was “yelling” and “making other families uncomfortable” at this point. Mills began to whine and ask me to hold him.  I was not “scaring him” as SOMEONE implied. Clearly he, too, has the primal competitive drive but doesn’t quite know how to channel it. 

The next few minutes are a blur. I heard the whistle and flung myself towards the grass.  Out of my periphery I noticed I seemed to be the only person out of diapers heading towards the glittering prize.  I slowed to check again and, as it turns out, all of the other parents were still outside the perimeter! I swiveled back scanning the crowd for Matt and Mills. In that instant, all the other parents swarmed the field.  I (gently) shoved a few kids out of my path trying to get a visual on the prize.  A GRANDMA was scooping it up in her hot little hand.  I angled towards my back up option only to see a fat baby shoving it in her slobbery mouth.  A quick scan of the space confirmed that all the other eggs were long gone, prize or not.  Just like that, it was over.  

Angry and defeated, I wandered around looking for the guys.  I found them happily sitting in the grass celebrating a measly few finds.

“What happened back there?? You totally dropped the ball!” I looked to Matt for some answers.

“I mean, I didn’t know other parents were going to help. I think you should relax a little, Amanda.  The prizes aren't even a big deal. This is just so the kids can have some fun!”

“Relax? FUN?? This is ridiculous! There was nothing fun about being obliterated back there and walking away empty handed. I HATE EASTER EGG HUNTS!” I stomped off towards our car while Matt kept his distance and again pretended not to know me. He told me I should "take a nap and get control of myself" before the afternoon.  

My behavior there has come under investigation and I’ve been placed on probation for any upcoming games (or social gatherings) until further review. Matt said if I don't learn how to handle my crazy, there will be consequences.

The take away here? 
1)Take my own car next time.
2)Easter Egg hunts are from the DEVIL!

your other mother

Jody Landers said, "A child born to another woman calls me Mom.  The magnitude of that tragedy and the depth of that privilege is not lost on me.”  I think of her every day, your other mother.  But on these days, the big ones, it consumes me. Three years ago today, on this very moment, I held you in my arms. Finally. 

Last night we were with her. The two of us sat side by side and watched our sons, both of whom she carried. It felt messy and tangly, but mostly it felt like home. Even in the midst of it, I knew this was a moment I'd remember always. 

I asked her (like I always do) “Are you sad? Do you wish things were different?” 

And she sighed and smiled at me (like she always does) and said, “I’m not sad.  I’ve never been sad.  I’m so content.”  

But when I began to try and say thank you, this time she stopped me.  “Don’t thank me anymore,” her eyes were looking far beyond me, beyond the moment.  “That is the best decision I’ve ever made.”

Oh, my darling boy... May you always know how loved you are. And that, to me, she is the strongest, most beautiful woman I know. 

what's for dinner?

I was group texting with Clair and Lolly this morning when one of them asked for some new dinner ideas for the week.  Apparently, they forgot I was on the text.  I don’t cook.  And, when I say this to people, they are always, “Oh my gosh, me neither!” and I temporarily don’t feel so alone.  But then I’m at their house on a random Tuesday and they are “just whipping up” some seared ahi tuna with a beautiful remoulade served alongside caramelized shallots and candied beets. 


Do you know how you can tell if someone cooks?  They recklessly use phrases like, “just pop in some (blah blah)” and “oh, just toss it over (whatever)” and “I just throw together whatever I have on hand.” They say this as if perhaps an infant could crawl up on the counter and cook if only they had the fine-motor skills.  Also, most of what they “whip up” includes foreign-to-me ingredients like roasted kale and pine nuts.  What does that even MEAN? Many times, friends have tried to convince me that cooking is SOO simple.  That I probably already have everything I need in my fridge/pantry.  You know what that means?  My family would be eating three bread and butter pickles over expired hummus paired with last week’s pizza sautéed in vanilla coffee creamer.  Canned fruit cocktail for dessert.  Beverage choices are whole milk, juice boxes or half and half.

My mom didn’t cook either, so maybe it’s genetic like blue eyes or heart disease.  When we got married, I was determined to learn and begin life as the domestic goddess I knew I had hidden inside.  I was a wife.  Wives cook. 

For a wedding gift, someone gave us the expensive crock pot we registered for along with a book called “135 Fail Proof Amazing Slow Cooker Recipes.”  Some of the recipes allowed you to cook the main dish AND a side all in the same fancy pot! (bonus: our high-end crock pot came with a tiny matching one, so I could even make desserts!!)   Each night when Matt came home to some new, beautiful, steaming feast, I hardly ate I was so impressed with myself.  I noticed his appetite seemed to be dwindling as the weeks went on.  Maybe he was secretly on a diet because he was planning to surprise me with a tropical getaway?  Finally one night after I plated my newest creation, he just sighed and gulped down some murky homemade tea.  (I couldn’t quite figure our Deluxe Mr. Coffee Instant Iced Tea Maker. Also a wedding gift.) 

Assuming it was a rhetorical question I asked, “Does everything taste alright?”  His cheeks got red.  Little beads of sweat appeared.  That’s what a hot, home cooked meal will do to a guy.

“Well, I just. I don’t know. It’s fine. No, it’s GOOD! I can’t believe how well you cook!  But. Is there a certain ingredient you've been using in every recipe?”

“No. We had cream cheese chicken alfredo Monday and bacon ranch ribs yesterday.  Obviously not.”

“But what about the barbecue sauce?” You know how I always mention Matt’s shifty nervous-y eyes when things are about to potentially go wrong?  That. 

“BARBEQUE SAUCE?” I was incredulous but not sure why yet.

“No. It’s not that. I love barbecue sauce.  But why are you using it every day?”

I wasn’t.  

So, like a mature WIFE (because I was a grown-up-married-person now), I dramatically threw my monogrammed napkin (another wedding gift) onto our “every day” China and ran to our bedroom slamming the door behind me.

After waiting about four minutes, Matt tapped on our door.  “It’s FINE!” I wailed, my head under our new Pottery Barn pillow shams.  “I KNEW you hated it.  I KNEW I COULDN’T COOK!” 

He sat down on the bed beside me.  “Babe, no.  I’ve figured it out. It’s just the crock-pot.  Really! There is something wrong with it.  Every single thing you cook tastes like the exact same sour barbecue sauce. (boy, does he have a way with words!)  So it isn’t you, it's the crock pot that's terrible.”

You guys… this man is a saint! And also, a liar.

I pitched my beautiful, chrome, 4-automatic-settings crock-pot in the apartment dumpster on my way to work the next day. And I never looked back.

But, I am a MOM now.  Mills licked the chocolate off of a protein bar for breakfast this morning. So, while Clair and Lolly swapped delicious sophisticated-sounding recipes, I furiously took notes.  It's never too late to learn, right?

so you adopted because you couldn't get pregnant?

A lot of people ask me, “So, did you guys adopt because you couldn’t get pregnant?”  I think that’s the most common conclusion in terms of adoption. (at least with people who don’t have biological children.)  And while certain aspects of our adoption and infertility story do overlap, one was not a direct result of the other.  My story of infertility and Mills’ story are two very different things and it is important to me that they stay separate from one another.
We started trying to get pregnant seven years ago. (or ONE HUNDRED because it feels exactly the same)
I was so clueless and naïve that I actually CALLED my doctor’s office:

“Hi.  I just wanted to let you know that my husband and I are HAVING A BABY.”

“When did you test positive?” The nurse wasn’t the friendliest, but I had AMAZING news, so I was sure she’d come around.
“Oh, haha! We aren’t pregnant yet, but we are GOING to be.  We decided to have a baby and I took that ovulation test AND got a smiley face AND we, well, you KNOW, so….” I’m pretty sure I was giggling. Also, I talk in extreme run on sentences when I’m excited.
(total silence) And then, “Honey, what is it you are calling about?”

I felt a little sorry for her.  And confused.  Didn’t she know anything?? “BECAUSE we are going to have a baby.  (???) Don’t you want to put it on my chart? Or have me come in or something?”
And then laughter.  That woman laughed at me. “Why don’t you call me back when you get a positive pregnancy test.” (more laughing)
I was crushed.  I was angry.  And now, I look back and feel so sad for me… but I laugh too.  I did not know ONE SINGLE THING about all this.
Fast forward through four years of trying and waiting and crying and testing and SO.MANY.”NO”s. 
No, you aren’t pregnant this month. No, we don’t know what is wrong. No, insurance doesn’t cover that. Nope, still not pregnant. No, no, no no…
And the week before my 30th birthday, I was the one who said no.  Matt and I were sitting outside watching the sunset and I said, “Ok.  I’m done.  I don’t want to look back at our life and say, ‘those were the miserable years.’ So, no more.  If the children in our lives are simply those in the families around us that will be enough. I will be okay.”  And for the first time, I meant it.
It wasn’t one month later that my high school guidance counselor called and said, “Amanda, I was sitting in my front room reading my Bible and God told me to call you.” (When someone says God told them to call, you LISTEN!)  She went on to tell me that her daughter had just adopted from an agency who needed birth parents willing to adopt outside their race.  I listened and thanked her and that was all.
Here is what you need to know about adoption and me.  Throughout the years of trying I heard
Oh! You should adopt.  You know EVERYONE gets pregnant when they adopt.” And also, “God must not want you to have children.  You should adopt! It’s the right thing to do.  (To me, the "right thing to do" meant driving the speed limit, flossing, recycling?)  Again and again, this was spoken over me until I began to hate the word adoption and everything about it.  It seemed like second best.  A consolation prize.  So I made a vow.  I was sitting on Lolly’s floor crying and said these very words,
I will never buy a baby.  I WILL NEVER adopt.  God would have to literally drop a baby out of the sky and say ‘this one is yours!!’ for me to adopt.”
(I still cringe remembering those hurtful words)

You know what they say about never saying never?  Yes.  That.
I wish I could tell you the specifics about what happened next.  But there isn’t a logical explanation.  It simply seemed that God came rushing in, softened my hardened heart and changed Matt’s all at once.  We were riding in the car one day not long after my counselor called and Matt said, “Are we really going to say ‘no’ to children because they don’t come the way we thought they would?”
And after a tornado of miracles and suddenly “YES”es, (this is a whole other story), suddenly my son was in my arms.
This is what I can tell you now.  We didn’t adopt because we couldn’t get pregnant.  We couldn’t get pregnant because our first born son was to come to our family through adoption. 
Now that he is home, we know without a doubt that even before the world began, Mills was ours.  And that, God graciously allowed enough time to pass so we would open our hearts and walk into the plan that had always been.
It was always the plan. The first choice.  And because of it, I have actually come to treasure my years of infertility.  Isn’t it ironic? Infertility made me a mother. Not because  I ran out of options, but because all along it was the only option.

a letter to myself on the eve of infertility

Dear Amanda,

Tomorrow your life will change forever.  I wish I could protect you from everything you are about to experience, but in the strangest way, this will be the best thing that has ever happened to you. 
First thing’s first. 
Everything you think you know about getting pregnant? False. 
Your science classes, great aunts and MTV’s Teen Mom have failed you.  Lies…all lies.  I can’t tell you yet what DOES work, but I can give you a  few things that don’t. 
Take them off your list:
-“Just relax.”
-“Take a vacation!! “
-“Stop trying.  Everyone gets pregnant when they stop trying.”
-“Lose weight/gain weight.”
-“Give up.  This is a sign that you aren’t meant to have children.” (heads up- the ones who say this one are nuts! Walk away.)
The people around you do not mean to be idiots.  Truly.  You will hear some of the worst advice imaginable in these next few years… but it’s only because no one knows what to do with you. You will hear the story of Abraham and Sarah on the regular.  You will yell and say terrible things about that particular story in the Bible.  Chances are, you won’t be 147 when you get pregnant, so try and let that one go.   Although you can’t see it now, your friends and family are hurting with you. Learn how to be gracious early on and save yourself one million tears.  And also- stop asking people what you should do.  Their ideas are terrible. Ask your doctor, talk to Matt… but step away from the masses.

The amount of weight and gray hair that comes with this process is a shock.  So, learn that you are beautiful.  It's important.

You don’t actually have a needle phobia.
The nurses don’t like wimps, so fake it til you make it. Before long they’ll know your name, and your best vein.  Your days of whining and passing out over a blood draw are long gone.  In time, you’ll be giving yourself shots in the stomach and losing half of your blood supply at every appointment without thinking twice.

Oh! You will lose your mind, yell at a nurse on the phone and file a complaint about her to “HR”.  You aren’t going to win her back over, so let that one go.  But don’t be “that girl” for long.

The nurses are YOUR PEOPLE!  Treat them well.  If they ever seem cold or unfriendly, it’s not about you.  They have an unbelievably stressful job.  Women are crazy to begin with.  Women pumped full of hormones trying to get pregnant? Psychotic.  These ladies see incredible pregnancy miracles, but they also walk families through inconceivable loss.  Just be sincere.  You’ve got a long road ahead, and some of these women will become friends for years to come.

Something about marriage
Sooner than you think, you and Matt will begin to feel like a science experiment gone wrong.  You will fight and cry and question every single thing…you will say terrible things and doubt each other and think this is one big mistake…you almost won’t make it through…but hold on to each other.  This thing can break you if you let it.  (but it doesn’t. trust me.)

Don’t hide.
Soon, most of your friends will become pregnant.  The majority of them started trying long after you.  You will watch them have their first, second and even third children as you wait.  Wait well.  Answer your phone, agree to a pedicure, or just let them come sit with you.  Infertility sucks.   Trying to do it by yourself is impossible. You have incredible people in your life. They can TAKE THIS! Learn to let them love you through the ugly. 

You are going to mess up.
Drop perfectionism quickly because you cannot IMAGINE the ways you’ll act.  You will be rude, insensitive, and distant.  You’ll miss important baby showers and christenings and birthday parties and do all the things you said you’d never do. It’s okay.  Grief is a monster and in time you’ll learn to separate your own sorrow from others’ joy. Forgive yourself, ask forgiveness and do better next time.

Hear me say this.  You did NOT do anything wrong.  You are not being punished. God has not forgotten you.  Don’t compare your story to those around you, because you do have a story.  It reads like sci-fi horror right now, but it won’t always. 

Never give up, Amanda. Never.  You will announce that you don’t want kids after all, you will stop “trying”, but always hold a space in your heart for hope.

Pain is devastating and beautiful. And it makes people terribly uncomfortable. This thing you have is holy ground. Treat it that way.  Don’t let anyone in unless you are certain they can be trusted with your grief.  But soon you’ll see others stumbling around with your very same wound.  Take them in, share what you know… it eases the heartache.

I wish I could close this letter with, AND THEN YOU GET PREGNANT.  But you don’t. 
I don’t know what happens at the end of our story, but I know you are stronger than you’ve ever imagined.  I know that your story will help so many other women.  And I know that this is all worth it.