Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Forever in our hearts

I’d like to introduce you to my sister.  

Her name is Laura Lyn.  She is my younger sister and the sister I consider to be my “baby” sister… even though she will be 20 years old in six months.  I love Laura.  I love her naturally curly blonde hair, her really great athletic abilities, her amazingly good looks, and her sense of humor.  Now, I didn’t always think of Laura this way.  There were lots of years of our young lives together that she was just the annoying little sister (she is nine years younger than myself).  But we grew up.  We both realized that our sisterhood was quite important and goes much deeper than a relationship that is limited to here on this Earth.

I want to tell you about Laura and why she is the strongest woman I know in my life.  Laura had to make probably the hardest decision a woman will ever have to make in a lifetime.

Let’s start from the very beginning (a very good place to start as Maria from The Sound of Music says)
Laura came to visit me in January with our sister, Charnae.  On the first night that they were at my house, they pulled me into their bedroom and told me to sit on the bed because they had something to tell me.  The looks on their faces said it all… it was going to be hard news.  Laura let me know that she was pregnant.  I’m not going to lie,  it was a shock.  WHAT!?  My baby sister was going to have a baby?  Holy crap!
The weekend that Laura came to visit and tell me the news, I asked her what her long term plans were.  She said without even having to think about it that she had chose adoption for her baby because of her circumstances.  What a brave choice I thought.  How strong she is I thought.  How noble and good and inspired she is I thought.  Boy was I right… but I had no idea what the degree the maturity of her decision would actually be until last weekend.

The last seven months have been such a learning experience for me.  I have really seen my sister grow from a teenager and my “little” sister into a full-grown woman as she went through her pregnancy.  What a transformation.

Laura and I made it a good habit to talk on the phone/video chat/or text every single day since she told me that she was pregnant.  We didn’t make a pact to do that or anything, but the relationship just matured and transformed into a close best friend bond.  Well, I was talking to her on Saturday the 7th of July and through a series of small little things, she said, “I think this is it.” She had work that day and she said that she was going to go to work because a few other contractions and such had been false alarms for real labor.  So, she went to work.  About an hour and a half later, I got 3 texts, 2 calls, and 2 voicemails from my mom and sister Charnae letting me know that Laura was going to the hospital.  It was go time!  I couldn’t think straight.  I had just unpacked my bags from the last “go time” a week ago that turned out to be not such a “go time”.  But my mom (who has birthed seven children) said that it was time to hit the road and come over the mountains.

So I did.  I packed my bag and hurried out of the door (don’t worry… I kissed Harrison before I left).  And I drove… and I drove and I drove and I drove.  I drove the almost 9 hours to Grand Junction, Colorado. 
Me letting my sister's know I was in the truck on my way and excited!

Along the way, I just kept saying prayers.  Prayers like, “Please let me get there safe without getting pulled over because I am going 5 over the speed limit.” And “Please let the deer and elk understand that this is not the time to jump out in front of my truck in the dead of night.” And “Please let Laura be OK.” And “Please bless the dr’s to know what the heck they are doing.”  And I just kept driving. 
I had to stop to fill up with gas in Richfield, Utah.  I got a text saying that Laura was at a 9.5.  There was NO WAY I was going to make it to her in time to see that little baby born.  But we all decided that was OK.  I mean, what were we supposed to do… just have her cross her legs for another two and half hours??

****Side note.  I was almost to Richfield when I got the text.  I was literally 3 minutes away from the exit I needed to take to get to the gas station.  Well- I stopped paying attention to my body for a split second when I got the text (you see I had to go pee so bad).  Well- since I stopped concentrating on my full bladder for about a minute… I lost control.  I peed my pants.  While driving.  With the exit in my sight.  Laughing when it happened.  So- I pulled over on the side of the road and made the passenger side doors into a little stall, finished my business, got clean pants and undies out of my bag, and all without anybody seeing my naked butt (I think).

OK anyway- I went through a canyon and lost total cell reception for about an hour.  I was heartbroken.  I knew that Laura was going to have the baby and I was going to miss the play by play.  Sure enough, as soon as I got out of the canyon I had about three texts, a missed call, and about 4 pictures of baby Kinley coming into the world.  Kinley Lyn Gladden was born on Saturday July 7, 2012 at 11:01 pm.  She was 6 pounds 8.5 ounces and 20 inches long.  She had a ton of black hair!

I finally got to Grand Junction at about 1:45am.  Its funny… I was starting to get sleepy but all of the sudden I felt like I was running on a full night’s sleep.  My mom met me down at the parking lot to help me bring my things inside.  I was so happy to see my mom.

We got up to the maternity ward just as Laura was getting settled into her bed.  They had literally just taken her from labor and delivery to her room.  I was so happy to see her.  I was so happy to see that baby!  What a beautiful little miracle she was (and is).  Her eyes were wide open and she was quite comfortable all wrapped up in her little blanket. 

Of course there were about a hundred pictures that I took.  I was the designated “helpmeet” for Laura in the hospital.  I didn’t leave that room for two days (well- I left for about two hours to say hello to Harrison’s grandmother but that was it).  I helped Laura with the baby while in the hospital.  We didn’t sleep.  We hardly remembered to eat.  It was such a whirlwind of a couple of days.  We counted over 40 visitors that came to see Laura and show their support.

Meeting Kinley for the first time.

How can somebody look this amazing just 7 hours after giving birth and with only 1 hour of sleep!?

Uncle Dayle loves Kinley

Auntie Charnae helping Kinley get changed

Yeah- she wasn't happy about getting changed

Proud Aunties

Proud Mamma

There were never such devoted sisters

Oh Hi Auntie Jaala- I like your vintage glasses

Meeting her new family for the first time

Grandpa loves me

Marme loves me very much too!

 Uncle Wes loves my little features 

Uncle Wes and Uncle Brok were very excited to meet her

Uncle Brok.  He's a good uncle

On Monday evening we all gathered together (well my our parents, myself, my sister Charnae, and Laura of course) in the hospital room while Laura took one of the last steps in her journey of adoption.  She sat with that beautiful baby in her arms while she signed the consent forms and paperwork to place baby Kinley for adoption.  It was a hard hour.  After the papers were signed we were able to take the time that we needed to say good-bye to that sweet angel.  It was such a bittersweet moment.  There were many tears, lots of hugs and kisses, and lots of love felt in that room.  We changed the baby into her cute little white outfit that we as sisters had chosen for her to go home in with her new family.  It was so big on her but we didn’t care.  It was so cute.  It was almost like a ceremonial dressing.  It is kind of odd now that I think about it but we all helped get her ready in some way.

We shared our feelings of love and the knowledge that this was absolutely the correct decision for Laura and Kinley with each other.  After that , we were ready.  Well- Laura was ready.  She is the really only one who matters in this story really.  We invited Kinley’s new family into the room.  Toby and Nicole are her new parents and Kinley now has a big sister, Taylee.  We shared feelings with each other again and shared the love that we all felt towards each other.

Laura gave Kinley her last kiss and lovingly placed that sweet baby into her new mother’s arms.  It was such a tender moment.  It is moment that I will never forget as long as I live.  A loving birth mother making the ultimate sacrifice to give her child the best possible life.  To place that child into a mother’s arms, that without this gift, would not be able to have another child of her own. 

Two proud mammas

One big happy family

Nicole had a very lovely gift basket for Laura as a parting gift.  Nicole asked that Laura open one of the items in the bag while we were all together.  It was a necklace that had a little charm with Kinley’s name on it and another charm that said “Forever in my heart”.  I don’t think there could have been anything more appropriate or just down right perfect for that moment.

More hugs, tears, and love were shared.  We said good-bye and we all went our separate ways.

**Another side note: my mom said something quite a few months ago that has been the mantra and theme of this entire experience.  Our theme has been WE CAN DO HARD THINGS.  She is so smart.

One of the things that Laura said that I will never forget was, “I know this is right.  I know that this is the best decision for both of us.  I know that when we leave this hospital and walk our separate ways, we can walk out of this hospital and do anything.”  What a wise thing to say.  How empowering.  The spirit of our Heavenly Father was definitely in that hospital room with us.  He sent the spirit of Comfort to each of us.

I was able to spend a couple more days with Laura before I had to head back to my real life.

I know this experience happened for many reasons.  In some way, everybody involved was blessed.  For me, I learned more about service.  I was for my sister, what a husband usually is while a mother is in the hospital after giving birth.  I helped her shower, get dressed, change dressings, and many other things.  I was able to serve my sister in a way that I don’t think I would have ever imagined possible.  I was with her at her “worst” and I was able to be there for her.  We have definitely grown closer together.  I mean, how could you not after something like this?  I did things for her that I don’t think that I could do for anybody else. 

I was also blessed with the strengthening of relationships with other members of my family… mainly my mother.  That first night in the hospital, Laura and I got about an hour of sleep.  We wanted to be with that baby as much as possible but it seemed that we just couldn’t get to sleep with all the adrenaline we were running off of.  Later the following day I was beginning to finally feel tired but there were so many visitors and work for me to do still.  My mom told me to just lie down on her lap and she would play with my hair.  I don’t remember the last time I did that.  I was probably a teenager or younger.  To feel the touch of my MOMMY was great.  For those of you women with mothers, you will understand this next couple of sentences.  I have always had a mom.  I have also always had a mother.  These two words are very similar but have very different meanings.  While I was home for that week, I was able to find my Mommy again.  Which is a very different meaning from a mom or a mother.  It became so clear that this woman was the one who changed MY diapers, changed MY clothes, and cleaned up after ME when I was so small.  This was the woman who hugged me when I was feeling sad all growing up, prayed for me when I was having a rough time, kissed me to help me feel better, and raised me to be the woman that I am today.  This was my Mommy.  How thankful I am for that bond that was strengthened.

I think I can speak for everybody close to this entire experience when I say; our Heavenly Father has a plan for each of us.  He loves us.  He knows us and He knows our needs.  He will bless us if we just ask.  Laura was blessed with the journey of placing her dear baby girl with a family who would not have had a child without the gift of adoption.  I was blessed with strengthened bonds with the family members who I probably needed most, my mother was blessed to witness her first childbirth second hand (she had 7 of her own but never actually watched), Charnae was able to be with Laura during the birth and witness that miracle that will be happening in her life quite soon (she is due with her first baby in November). 

I love my sister Laura Lyn.  She is a pretty awesome chick.  And- she will get to come and live with Harrison and I in two weeks.  I am so thankful for that.

PS- for those of you who would like to hear of Laura's experiences, she has started a blog to take people through her journey and be a mentor for those women who are faced with similar circumstances.  Go on and CLICK HERE to read about her story.


Emily Mecham said...

Love this. So beautiful and moving. I also love the part about peeing your pants. I can't begin to tell you how many times that has happened to me! This is why we are friends. Hugs! :)

Anonymous said...

xoxo little sister~
(and that is my your pants!)

Marjorie Court said...

Holy cow jaala!! This has me in tears... She is a incredibly woman to do such a hard thing!! I can't even imagine. So touching to read of the sisterly bond you and your sisters have. Thank you for sharing!!

Maddie said...

Thanks for sharing. I'm so glad it was a strengthening experiencing for your family.

Laura Bowles said...

so moving! Laura is a brave and strong woman!