Summer of 2017

This past summer has been the best yet! Mia was older to enjoy the water and play in it. We did as much as we could and Mia was up for any adventure we came up with. We can't wait for next summer with her!

Here's a video we made of our summer (without clips from our San Diego/Disney trip)


How We Met!

So I'd like to start by saying that I am pretty sure Ed Sheeran was talking about us when he wrote "people fall in love in mysterious ways" in his song, Thinking Out Loud. It's pretty interesting and we're convinced it was the only way possible for us to even know the other person existed since we would have never crossed paths any other way. I also want to add that we did not tell our friends and family the real way we met for YEARS because we didn't want to be judged. But obviously, we feel better about it now, almost 7 years into our marriage haha.

The story starts in Provo, Utah; although only one of us was living there. Russell was attending Brigham Young University in Utah and I was attending CSU Monterey Bay in California and in a relationship with someone who was serving a mission for our LDS church. I was not dating anyone else and in fact, I was planning my wedding to this missionary that I was very committed to. Anyway, the night before the beginning of my spring break, I had a friend request on Facebook. I opened the request, it was Russell, and automatically had this very familiar feeling about the face staring back at me on the screen. I wondered if maybe I had met him at a church camp in Utah years before so I accepted with the intention of asking how we knew each other.

The next morning, there was a message waiting for me. It was from my new "Facebook friend", Russell. Here is the exact message that I've kept all these years: "hey look im really sorry...my friend got onto my account last night and started adding people and posting stupid stuff as a joke so you ended up being one of them. that is weird that we are both friends with **** and **** though. anyways you can delete me. sorry once again." I replied with, "hmmm alright. thats weird. you can go ahead and delete me. and its fine. just didnt want to completely ignore the request and be rude if i did know you."

But the conversation didn't end there. A half hour later, he Facebook chatted me and wondered about the two mutual friends we had because the two of them live on the opposite ends of the country. One of which he has known since Kindergarten and I knew her from college, and the other he met on his mission and I "Facebook met" through a FB group for missionary girlfriends (yes, this group really exists.) I explained that to him and we kept chatting about school, my missionary boyfriend, etc. I made it very clear that I had a boyfriend (more like my fiancé in my eyes) and that if we were going to continue to talk and get to know each other, it would only be as friends. Obviously, I thought he was as handsome as can be but I was VERY dedicated to my missionary boyfriend. Don't even get me started on how dedicated I was, you can ask my friends from college haha.

Anyway, I went on my spring break, returned back to work and school, I continued to be dedicated to my boyfriend who was on a mission, and lived my life. Russell and I talked on and off. I think just a week after Russell and I became Facebook friends, my missionary boyfriend and I parted ways. And before you jump to the conclusion that I broke it off with him to be with Russell, you are incorrect. I just don't want to go into details of the break up and point fingers at anyone. Especially so publicly. Let's just say we both agreed to part ways although it was hurtful.

A few weeks after that, Russell asked if he could come visit me for his spring break and I said yes. Remember we had never met in person! He drove from Provo, Utah to Monterey, California in the middle of the night and the next morning we met in person for the first time! It was weird but awesome and we had our very first kiss maybe 10 minutes after meeting face to face! WHAT?! Again, he felt so familiar to me, like he had been my best friend my whole life.

After that, he returned to school in Utah and I stayed in California to finish my senior year. I graduated from college, moved to Utah to be with him a few months after, and the rest is history!

As I am writing this, I am nervous of people judging like, "he could have been a serial killer" "don't encourage people to meet strangers online" "that happened way too fast" and so forth but we truly believe that we met in the way that we did and felt the familiarity that we did for a specific reason. We believe that every couple has their own story and no matter what it looks like to those from the outside, if it's right and meant to be then it'll happen when and how its suppose to! We're thankful God had this exact plan for us to meet. Thanks, Facebook!


Mia's Story, Part 3

Part 3: The Hospital Stay

After our first emotional moment as a family of three, I was able to feed Mia a bottle and snuggle her a bit longer. Russell also got a turn at skin to skin and I could tell he was a little nervous but so in love with her! Mia was weighed and measured in front of the both of us and we were also able to be there when she got some shots. That cry broke our hearts! After she was all done, she was wrapped up again and placed into her birth mom's arms and they were able to have some time together before being moved to our separate rooms. 

Russell and I walked out of the room and sat down in a waiting area and I remember vividly how we just sat there quietly staring at the wall and holding hands. We just couldn't believe what we had just experienced and it was just so so surreal! We were parents! But were we?! Reality and excitement settled in again as we read texts and messages from family and close friends who we shared some photos with. I remember our thumbs moving so fast to share her name and all of her birth information! But I also remember a feeling of nervousness for we knew that there would be tears and hard things to come.

They assigned us to our rooms; Mia's birth mom had hers and the hospital was so accommodating and also had a room for us. Our room was towards the back and her birth mom's room was closer to the nursery. The four of us (birth mom, Mia, Russell, and I) were able to go into the nursery together and watch Mia get her feet stamped and get her first bath. It was around 3 in the morning and we were all so tired (especially birth mom!) but we all couldn't take our eyes off from Mia!

We all decided that Mia's birth mom should get a good night's rest that first night we were all at the hospital together so Russell and I rolled Mia into our room at around 3:30 in the morning. I remember this night like it was just yesterday! I remember taking her out of her bassinet feeling so unprepared! I sat with her in the rocking chair while Russell got cleaned up from a whirlwind of a night. I rocked and sang to her and kissed her over and over again. I prepared for a long night of crying and feeding but Mia was out like a light! We placed her back into her bassinet and placed it as close as possible to the bed. The hospital bed was too small to share so Russell took the hospital bed and I had the pull out bed. We didn't get that much sleep that night since we were constantly waiting for her to wake up and need us but she never did! 

At around 6:30 in the morning, a nurse came into our room and seemed to be super surprised that we were still laying in our beds and that Mia was still asleep! We felt like she was sort of disappointed in us for not waking Mia to feed but we were told to never wake a sleeping baby! She told us to wake Mia up and feed her a bottle so we tried and tried, but Mia did not want to wake up! The nurse had to show us ways to "startle" wake her so that she would have some milk! Poor girl was just so tired from the night before!

A little later, Mia's birth mom came to get Mia and wheeled her away to her room to have some time with her. Russell and I left the hospital for some breakfast and to give them the time they needed. It was so nice to have some family in town so that they could help us pass the time that we weren't with Mia. We would stop by birth mom's room every now and then to say hello and hang out but we tried our best to give her the time and space she needed. That Saturday was Birth Mother's Day so we spent some time with her talking about the night before and gave her the gifts we had picked for her. It was also so refreshing to be with birth mom and her family. It just felt so comfortable and like they were a part of our family too. Mia also stayed in her birth mom's room that night and Russell and I tried our best to get a good night's rest but we were super anxious about the day ahead of us that we didn't sleep much.

The next morning was Mother's Day and the day Mia's birth mom was going to sign the relinquishment paperwork. Russell and I woke up super exhausted but so eager to see Mia and finally have our family meet her. We went to visit Mia, her birth mom, and her family in the morning and we were able to partake the sacrament together in birth mom's room. That was one of the most spiritual moments of my life. As we sat quietly in her room, listening to the bread and water being blessed, I felt a rush of peace come over me. I felt His love for Mia's birth mom, Mia, and for us. I remember sitting there trying to hide the tears and hoping that Mia's birth mom was feeling it too. I sensed my Savior, Jesus Christ near and I thought of the selfless young woman who was about to make the largest sacrifice of her life in order to bless Russell and I. I couldn't stop thinking about how much I admired her and how Christlike she was to me! After we had the sacrament, we talked about the plan for the remainder of the afternoon and were able to hang out with Mia and her for a bit longer before returning to our room to wait until it was time to see Mia again as our daughter and take her home from the hospital.

Around lunch time, the social worker and notary came to our room and had us sign some paperwork before going to birth mom's room. They explained to us what she was about to sign and told us the time frame of when it would be done and left our room. We spent the next couple of hours pacing back and forth in our room, looking at the clock a few dozen times, praying for us and for birth mom numerous times, packing our bags and repacking it, walking down the hall to get more and more Coke, trying to watch TV and I can't even remember what else. We didn't even think to take a picture as we waited in our room. That day was such a blur to me. We always felt confident and weren't super scared that she would change her mind, but we did occasionally allow doubt to creep into our minds. But above all, we were just so worried about Mia's birth mom and we wanted her to be OK.

After what felt like a really long time to us, we asked our family members to come up to meet birth mom's family in a lobby area as we waited for Mia's birth mom to say good bye to Mia alone in her room. When she was close to being ready, we were asked to get back to our room with our families. Then with a light knock at the door, Mia's birth mom walked into our room wheeling Mia and her family were close behind her. Immediately, emotions hit all of us in the room. I remember just beginning to sob because I was so happy but so sad at the same time. She had Mia dressed in a onesie that said, "Best gift ever." And she truly was! She also gave us a letter she had written for Mia to read when she is older and a lotus bracelet that matches hers. We all said our good byes and hugged as tightly as we could, hoping it would tell her how thankful we were for Mia and for her! She left with her family and again, we all began to sob. It was such an emotional day and one we will never ever forget!

Looking back, that weekend was super emotional but also super special. I feel like Mia was a week late so that she could gift her birth mom and I the experience of sharing Birth Mother's Day and Mother's Day with one another in the hospital.


Mia's First Birthday

I'm not going to lie, I started planning Mia's first birthday in December. I just couldn't help it! I'm also not gonna lie, it didn't turn out EXACTLY how I wanted! Perfectionist over here!! But none of that matters, Mia had a blast and everyone had a blast! I'm so thankful to everyone who had a part of her special day even if they couldn't be there physically! And most important, Mia is not going to care that my balloon wall did not turn out exactly how I wanted or that we didn't get a video of the bounce house, guests, or the cotton candy machine. She is going to look back at the pictures, the videos, and the stories I write about that day and know how loved she was on her first birthday.


Mother's Day 2017

Today's my second Mother's Day but for some reason, it feels like my very first. I'm not sure if it's because Mia was born just two days before Mother's Day last year or because I've waited so long for this that it still feels just as magical + special as the first. Whatever the reason, I am humbled to have this day to celebrate what I longed + prayed for for so many years. 

The biggest compliment I've received as Mia's mom is that y'all can see how much I love being HER mom. That is the unwavering truth: I LOVE BEING HER MOM! Not A mom, but HER mom. She has brought a happiness + a light into my life that's uniquely hers. Since she was born, I've often thought about my road to motherhood. It was bumpy + filled with road blocks but the one conclusion I've come to is this: I was waiting for Mia. She was the missing piece + definitely worth the wait. 

So to those who are still waiting + who are hurting today, I promise that one day, this will all make sense. I know it's easy for me to say this now because my prayers have been answered but I've been there + I needed words of encouragement like this! So...please, hold on, keep praying, keep the faith + one day your little miracle will arrive + you'll find yourself thinking, "THIS is the child I've been fighting + waiting for!" 

Mia dear, thank you for letting me be your mama + for all of the lessons you've already taught me in your first year. You're my best friend, baby girl. I live for the moments when you look into my eyes + reach for my face. I love you more than you will ever know!


Mia's Story | Part 3, in Birthmom's Perspective

This will be the final part to Mia's birth story. I decided to share it in Birth mom's perspective first because it's just so powerful! Also, she's had it ready since November! I'm a slacker!

Get your Kleenex ready because I'm not sure your eyes will be dry after reading this. I am so so so thankful for this woman I get to call family and friend. She is the perfect example of selflessness. I am also so thankful that she and I have such a strong bond and we are able to write things like this and share them with one another. Love her to pieces.

Ok, you got your Kleenex?

"After Russell, I held her for the first time and that's when I knew the next 2 days were going to be the hardest days of my life.

They moved us to my postpartum room and got everything set up there, then we went to the nursery to see Mia have her first bath. After that, we all went to my room and talked. I can't really remember what we talked about, I was just so tired and ready to sleep as it was already 3:00 in the morning. We agreed that it would be best if Mia slept in the Johnson's room so I could get some rest.

Saturday the 7th was an easy going day that I wanted to spend with my family and Mia. In the morning, I went and got Mia from the Johnson's room so I could spend my time with her. My sisters were texting me and my mom asking if they could come over right when I woke up, so they came up and got to hold Mia and spend time with her as well. Later, my dad and brother came up and we all spent some time together. Claire and Russell came and visited with us once in a while and they couldn't keep their eyes off of Mia, they were so in love.

Saturday night I kept Mia in my room for my last night with her. She was fussy which made it hard to get some rest that I really needed, but my mom helped me out a lot. Finally around 3 in the morning I decided it was the best thing if we co-slept. Whenever I think back to being in the hospital with her, I think back to the moment she was next to me all swaddled up in her blanket that I still have. Baby cuddles are the best and she slept until 7am! I'm grateful I had Saturday just to enjoy.

Sunday was another story. I don't want to say it was the worst day of my life, because it was actually a very beautiful and spiritual day, but it was definitely the hardest. It was Mother's Day and I woke up knowing that I was going to have to relinquish my rights to the most beautiful baby ever and give up my title as a mother for now. The Johnson's came into my room in the morning and we discussed how the day would go. They also gave me a necklace that had the adoption symbol and a meaningful birds nest pendant that was passed from friend to friend to signify the strength they each had going through hard times. We were all able to take the sacrament in the hospital which was a beautiful experience. Right after that, the Johnson's left and my family came and spent our last couple hours with Mia. We took pictures and held her and told her we loved her. My mom and dad, my two sisters, and my brother all gave her a kiss on the forehead. Then we had a family prayer that we silently wept our way through.

At about 2:00pm the social worker and notary came in with my relinquishment papers and I listened to the social worker as she read through the papers. I was able to stay composed until she read number 15 which said "I have chosen to place this child for adoption because I love this child very much and because I believe that the adoption of this child by Russell and Claire is in the child's best interest." To say I love this child very much would be an understatement. After reading through everything, I was able to give Mia a kiss and between sobs, say the words, "I love you so much!". My mom came over and sat by me to comfort me as I officially signed my rights as Mia's mother away.

The social worker and notary left, and I told my family I loved them. They all went outside so I could say my goodbyes before I handed her over to the Johnson's. I changed her diaper, put her in her onsie that said "Best Gift Ever", swaddled her in a blanket, and fed her. When I was done, I went outside with the rolling bassinet, my family all gave me a hug. Then they all walked behind me down the hall, my own little army to help me battle the most difficult moment of my life. I distinctly remember not knowing how to move myself forward, yet I had this overwhelming feeling that was pushing me forward. I was being carried down the hall by the strength of my family and Christ.

We entered the Johnson's room, it was filled with all of our families, and I was able to place Mia into Claire's arms and say Happy Mother's Day as Russell and Claire embraced each other. I went around the room and hugged all of their family. I was able to give Mia a bracelet, identical to the one I have, that had a lotus charm on it, that is a symbol of a bond between two people. Claire's mother told me that the lotus flower is a very sacred flower in Thailand and it is seen with upmost respect.

As I was leaving the room, I took one look back and was able to see Claire and Russell crying tears of joy, and I knew that I had chosen the best thing for Mia. I knew that I had chosen the right couple for Mia and that I could trust them for the rest of mine and Mia's lives. I knew that this was a good thing and that I would be blessed with comfort in times that I need comfort. I knew that I had just gained a whole new family that I can love forever.

As bad as it hurt leaving the hospital with no baby, arriving home with no baby, waking up the next morning with no baby, I know that Mia will have the best life she could have with Claire and Russell as her parents.

November 19, 2016 was a beautiful day as we were able to see Mia be sealed to her mom and dad for eternity. My mom and I were also able to see her be blessed which we are still so grateful for that opportunity. Through time, the pain has healed, and my family and I no longer sees it as bittersweet, but mostly just sweet. We love the Johnson's and have loved watching Mia grow and seeing how happy she is.

I am so grateful for the Johnson's for their strength and love. I'm grateful for my family who have supported me the whole way, especially my mom who is my rock. I'm also grateful for everybody who prayed, fasted, and thought about me. I have felt the thoughts and prayers help me throughout my journey. I love seeing all of Claire's Instagram and Facebook posts and reading through all of the positive comments, it helps me so much seeing how loved the Johnson's are. Most of all, I'm grateful for Mia and the wonderful spirit she blesses us all with. Adoption truly is love."

I warned you! Gosh, we just love her! These words! We will forever cherish them! Part 3 in my perspective soon to come!!!