My Favorite Days

Birthdays are a big deal around here. My kids pretty much talk about their upcoming birthdays all year, starting a day or so after their birthday takes place. It is often the chosen topic of conversation in the car, in the bath, at the
breakfast table, on the get my drift.

My son and daughter share a bedroom and the other night I lingered outside their bedroom door to listen to their chatter for a few minutes. This is what I heard:

Callen: "Ummm, Logan (lo-gan)?"
Logan: "Yes, Callen."
Callen: "Ummm, at
my birfday. ughlhdsgldshgdlksh [mumbling noises] Queen cake. No, pink cupcakes. Sprinkles."
[it is totally okay for a 2 year old little boy to love the book "Pinkalicious"!!]
Logan: [repeating back what he was trying to say] "At your birthday you want a Queen cake or pink cupcakes with sprinkles? I want a big cake with pink flowers on it. And sprinkles. Or, cupcakes. No, a big cake, with roses. Or a doggy cake..."
Callen: "Oh. Cake is yummy. I wike it."

... And, on and on it went. The prelude to their dreams is a birthday cake discussion. Nearly every night. Sometimes they change it up and talk about what "kind" of party they want to have. It's their hobby.

I am a big fan of birthdays & parties in general. I love hosting them, planning them, lying awake at night planning out all sorts of details (my kids must get it from me). I have a binder that I keep all sorts of ideas for decorations and party gifts and themes in (grown up people parties and kids parties). Yes, you could say I am a gal who likes dreaming up parties. I like celebrating holidays and birthdays. But, I LOVE celebrating my kids' birthdays. I love making a big deal of these days. Not a big deal in the sense of renting out Disneyland and hiring Jack Johnson to do the music, but a big deal in my own way. I love the idea of a day set apart to make them feel let them choose what to have for dinner (its always Oatmeal Pancakes) savor the moment where the candles burn brightly in front of their puckered lips. It is the very essence of childhood and magic on display!

I also see these days as huge markers in my own life. Two days where a true desire of my heart was fulfilled. You see, I was not "supposed" to have these babies. I had this surprise pregnancy years ago, and then had a miscarriage 11 weeks into it. We were devastated. Super sad to lose this little baby that we were already so in love with. So, we started trying to conceive again. Trying and trying and trying and trying. We tried everything - ate certain foods, stayed out of hot tubs, ovulation kits, certain positions, me lying on the bed for an hour after "consumation" with my toes pointed to the ceiling. I am sure many of you know that position well. And, while it seemed that all the tips and tricks were working for EVERYONE around us trying to conceive, it was not happening for us. We finally found ourselves sitting in a place we never imagined we would be...

... The Infertility Specialist's Office ...

And, after a series of incredibly humbling tests (for both of us, finally, it was for both of us), we were given this news:

"You have a 1% chance of conceiving naturally. I recommend IVF."

One percent. Such a small number. Barely there. One. Percent.

I do think that my heart stopped for just a second. I remember the shock passing over my body and then a whole new wave of grief and anger passing over me. That baby that we had conceived was a miracle. Why, God? Why take that one away? Why give us a taste?

There were so many days that were so full of emotion and struggle for me. Baby showers were especially hard. Sometimes I could make it, sometimes I just could not. Seeing moms walking down the street with strollers quickly caused me to look away and focus on something else. Anything else that could distract me from the sad reminder of what I was not. I can remember one specific moment when I was walking through a Target store and I happened to be passing through the babies' clothing section. I caught a glimpse of the sweetest little dresses for a baby girl and my knees literally went weak. I remember not being able to stop the tears from streaming down my face as I made my way out of the store, shopping cart and errands abandoned because I was so overcome by sadness in that moment. The longing was too intense for me to ignore. I sat in my car and cried and sobbed and did not care that people passing by my car could probably hear me.

My beautiful nephew was born a few hours shy of my 25th birthday. My amazing sister pursued a natural childbirth with a vengeance and asked me if I would be her coach. What a bitter-sweet day that was for me. I remember watching her push through her contractions. It felt like we were under water because time was moving so slowly. I could not wait to meet this child, but I also could not stop the refrain of thoughts that were rolling through my head and heart - "I may never have this... I may never get to experience this... Oh God, please let me do this..." After my nephew was born, my sister held him in her arms and in the presence of my parents, her husband and myself, broke the awe-filled silence by singing "Happy Birthday" to him in a hushed, whispery voice. She gazed at him with perfect love. Undying love. "I will walk through fire for you" kind of love. None of us had dry eyes. And, I knew in that moment that my parents cried for two reasons, just like I did. I had never felt so empty as I did in that moment. I drove the hour and a bit from the hospital to my house (it was now my birthday) and I cried the entire way home. I cried. I pleaded. Like the psalmists, I poured out my sorrow, anger, fear, hopes and dreams to God.

"You are big enough to do this. I believe that you can do this. Be willing, please, God, be willing."

I remember walking up the stairs in our condo from our entrance to the main part of the house where my precious husband had lit a candle for me on every step and left an affirmation next to each one. There were 25 - one for every year of my life. The last one on the top step said, "I love you for the mother you WILL be." We were clinging to hope. But, I was living in grief.

Then, came the surprise of my two pregnancies. Both, total miracles, both total surprises, 2 1/2 years apart. Each pregnancy was a bit rocky with major insecurity on my part. I started having contractions at 20 weeks with my daughter and was placed on bed rest. Small price to pay. We have friends whom we love dearly who lost their baby 3 days before the due date. It just felt so fragile.

I was not worried so much about the pain in labor, as I was worried that something would happen in the midst of it that would result in me leaving the hospital with empty arms. I can remember feeling like I could finally exhale the moment that they handed my sweet baby girl to me. She was out. She was safe. She was alive. She was MINE. I have never enjoyed the "Happy Birthday" song as much as I did on that day. I still get teary when I sing it to my kids.

These birth days - these days that mark two of the most glorious days of my life - are days for me to remember that I have witnessed a miracle. Twice. I don't ever want to forget that my God intervened and answered my prayers. I don't ever want to forget that there are women out there who are holding back their own tears. It is good to be reminded. I think about the day Kristen's son's adoption was finalized, and it held much of the same feeling. This child whom she dearly loves is hers. Yes, to hold loosely. But, entrusted to her. Here in the flesh, not just in our dreams. We are women who realize that we are blessed to walk this road, regardless of how we made it onto this road.

{this is me holding Logan on her birth-day & the angels were singing along with us in heaven}

{here Logan and I are holding Callen on his birth-day & once again the angels are singing with us}

For any of you mamas who are in the midst of processing loss or a longing yet unfulfilled, I am so sorry. There is not much else to say but that. I hope for you for as many children as your heart desires.


  1. I totally have tears streaming down my face as I read this, this morning. I woke at about 2:30 this morning thinking about my baby girl who is currently in another country awaiting her homecoming. In recent weeks, just to cope with the discouragement of our adoption, I have tried to distance my heart from all of it. Strangely, I think I needed to be reminded of the grief that I have felt in this process because that grief is so bound up in a deep and resilient LOVE. Thank you for sharing your mama's heart today!

  2. the inner most box- I am so sorry for your hurting heart. I have been honored to walk alongside of Kristen throughout her adoption journeys and I marvel at the beautiful, resilient love you mothers who are pursuing your children through adoption. I am quite sure that it is a different kind of pain and sorrow knowing that YOUR child is there, ready and in need of love. You have said, "Yes." You are ready to love her. But, you cannot have her yet because of some red tape or logistics. I hate it!

    I will pray for you right now = for swiftness of the adoption process, and for peace in the waiting.

    Blessings to you, mama.


  3. Beautiful post, hun. Really, really hits home for me.

  4. Yes, thank you for sharing this.

    I thought so much about this as I wrote my post about my c-sections. I wanted to make the point that easily getting pregnant and then having beautiful completely med-free pregnancies isn't the only road. None of it is actually in our hands. But all pregnancies, births, and adoptions are their very own road to the same miracle. I'm sorry yours was so long.

    Beautiful post,

  5. Thank you so much for sharing your story, Ali. First time ever a blog post made me tear up.
    Sometimes I forget how thankful I am for my daughter as I get overwhelmed with trying again, and praying some of those same prayers you did.
    I hope I get to meet you in person some day! I feel like you're a kindred spirit. :)

  6. Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful story of love and miracles. One of my favorite songs is "I saw God today". He really is all around us. We just need to slow down enough and take notice of the many miracles that happen right before our eyes.

  7. Beautiful post, Ali. November 13 is definitely one of my favorite days...I love the idea of celebrating for Grace AND me.
    Take care and come see us soon,

  8. Thank you for sharing this. I relate with many of your feelings. I too struggled with infertility, and after nine long years of yearning (or 92 months, but who's counting?)we had a surprise pregnancy. What a special gift my daughter is. She was everything I imagined and more. We now have a two month old son as well, and life could not be more full. May you have as many children as your heart desires.

  9. Love the post Ali. I'm so thankful to have been able to bear witness to the journey, hearbreak and the beautiful gifts. It is awesome to see you choosing thankfulness and contentment daily. I know your story is a blessing and encouragement to many.

  10. This broke my heart and made me joyful in the same sitting.

    Each child is a gift. Our guardianship of them is a miracle.

    I needed to be reminded of that tonight.

  11. ali! i totally never knew you went through all that. so heartbreaking and difficult, but then also such an amazing gift from God. your kids are so precious! i was just telling drew the other day that i love reading your blogs and as always he gushed about you. that man loves you like nobody's business, i tell ya...God bless you sister!

  12. Ali, thank you for sharing. You give me hope that I will one day have a birth-day to celebrate too.

  13. Ali, thank you for sharing such an intimate part of your life so eloquently. I am glad I found your blog, I think I will be reading it a lot and hope to get to know you better through it. God bless you, good night. Cyndi L


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