I realized I never sent an update on Leah after I asked you all for extra thoughts for her. Let's start there.
Leah's day in court was Monday. The other side had filed a Motion to Dismiss so this hearing was in response to that. The Judge (or whatever they call them there) did not rule on the Motion. She said she needed to further read some recent case law before she made her decision. I think that, along with a few more things, sound very positive.
Where Leah lives, there is already high court case law that denies her right to fight for her child. That puts her in a pretty vulnerable place but she's decided that it's worth it. The Judge was sad that they couldn't work out a visitation schedule based on what's best for their son. In other words, I think personally she would like to see Leah remain in his life. She also set a court date in case she rules against the Motion. Good sign. And the best news of all, the other side's attorney said he would also like to see an agreement.
So, thank you all for the lovely words for her. I've talked with her a few times and I know when she reads here next, she'll be so happy that you're thinking of her.
Onto my last email...
You know how you have some days where you think and think and then you just explode? Well I've had many of those days of late and that's what finally happened the other night. And I guess sitting here and spilling it out feels safe because so many of you get it. And so many more of you at least get the "fear" of it. I just want to express my thanks to you for always coming back with some validating comment or email. There is definitely safety in numbers and you all surround me with comfort day after day.
And up to date...
Last night was Equ*lity Utah's big night! We raised many, many dollars to contribute to fair minded candidates this fall & we're all very proud of it. We, with the help of so many volunteers, threw a love fest for almost 1200 people! I walked into the ballroom and it took my breath away. My first tears came at that moment and stayed on call until about 11pm. It was the end of my first year working with the most amazing people. Our staff consists of three and we basically spent the morning hugging and kissing and reminding each other what it's all about. I love those boys more than the stars.
The event was inspiring - almost spiritual. Kate Kendell (National Center for Lesbi*n Rights) was our keynote speaker and she had everyone laughing and crying and laughing again. She spoke of my ruling and so lovingly spoke of Gracie and the impact on her. I'm not sure I was prepared to hear her name - nor did I prepare my mom - but it was sincere and real and I know how full her heart was in it. & honestly, I decided I don't hear her name enough. I say it in my head every day. I write it in these posts and some of you even write it back to me but no one says her name out loud anymore and I've missed the sound of it. I've been thinking of her so heavily lately and it made her seem a little closer.
All of my best girls were there and that made it even more special. Those of you who joined us, thank you so much. It meant a lot to have you there with us. I needed every last one of those hugs!
So that's my catch up. Now I'm taking five days off to get my head together and relax with Cristy, E&J and family. I'm so looking forward to all the downtime.
And in case any of you haven't heard the news, we have some TTC'ers who are no longer waiting! Sara and Merr have made it through the wait and are now glowing! I am so happy for you both and can't wait to watch you grow :)
Thursday, August 30, 2007
I realized I never sent an update on Leah after I asked you all for extra thoughts for her. Let's start there.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Cristy and I were blessed to see Josh Grob*n in concert tonight. I was pretty excited about it - especially with work being so crazy - but I had no idea how magical it would be.
Most of what he sang I didn't know. Most of it I couldn't even understand because it was in some beautiful language far more beautiful than the one I know. But every song was beautiful and tragic or beautiful and lovely and there were even a couple that took my breath away. So, thank you, Brandon & Kaylynn - again and again.
I knew, going in, it would be emotional. "Raise Me Up" used to remind me of Jesus. And then Cristy. But has since come to remind me of Gracie - as does everything these days. It was the theme song to the Shamu show last summer and I think we sat through it about 30 times. She loved it. He also sang a song called Not While I'm Around and I swear to God, that is one of only three sangs we sang to Gray as a baby. In the womb and out. It was a sign - a sign that I miss her.
I sat there and thought about our last weekend together - how it rained so hard and we all splashed our way through Sea World and she purposely stepped in every puddle. We laughed so hard that day - soaked to the bone. Cheryl and I started talking about our wedding and I remember Gracie saying to me, "you married a daddy?" So confused that I had been married. And I said to her, "no honey, I married mommy." We were all crying right then for some other reason but I remember feeling like things were going to be okay. We left there and went home to dry. She fell asleep in my arms that night.
And the next day was Christmas Eve. We opened presents because I knew I would be leaving that night. She wanted to get ready for church all day just so she could wear her new dress but service wasn't until that night, after my plane left, so we made her wait. But when it was time I got her bathed and dressed and she looked and felt like the princess she is. And we danced.
They took me back to my hotel on their way to church. I walked away from that car thinking I would be right back. Gracie asked her mom to promise her that "next time" we'd play & swim at my house. Pinky promise and everything. I walked away not knowing it would be the last time I'd see her as a child - as a little princess.
She promised to call me the next night - Christmas. I had the phone in my hand all day. At dinner I sat against the wall at my mom's house and when it rang, I missed it by one ring. One fucking ring. & that was it. That was the last time she dialed my number.
I miss her so much, sometimes I panic. If I could touch her hand and tell her simply that I'm right here and that I'll always be right here - I would have peace. Just a little. But not tonight. Because it's all unfair and she deserves more than this. She deserves the truth or even just an answer.
Nothing's gonna harm you
Not while I'm around
Nothing's gonna harm you
No sir, not while I'm around
Demons are prowling everywhere
I'll send 'em howling I don't care
I got ways
No one's gonna hurt you
No one's gonna dare
Others can desert you
Not to worry, whistle, I'll be there
Demons'll charm you with a smile, for a while
But in time, nothing can harm you
Not while I'm around
Being close and being clever, ain't like being true
I don't need to - I would never hide a thing from you
No one's gonna hurt you
No one's gonna dare
Others can desert you
Not to worry, whistle, I'll be there
Demons'll charm you with a smile, for a while
But in time, nothin' can harm you
Not while I'm around.
Sleep tight angel.
Sunday, August 26, 2007
I know that as of tomorrow morning, my life will be terribly stressful until late Wednesday night. That's because Wednesday is our big annual fundraiser and in just a few hours it will be non-stop "get ready" stuff.
We did a volunteer training the other night because this event requires around 70 volunteers. I felt incredibly blessed to have so many people ready to help and I'm sitting here wondering how in the world I can really thank them enough. I've attended this event many times but I've never worked it and never volunteered for it. It's amazing to me what it takes to pull it off and it makes me very proud to work with the people I work with and for the community we serve. If I'm quiet until it's over, now you'll know why.
While the event hardly left my mind all weekend, we were able to escape and have some fun.
Friday night, I went with my best girl for the final fitting of her wedding dress. She and J will be wedded on Sept 29th and I don't know what I want to see more...E in her dress or J seeing her in her dress! It's going to be a bawl fest! Seriously, she is going to be the most beautiful bride in all the land in just four short weeks. Looking at her made me so incredibly happy. I have never seen her more beautiful and that says a lot! Now that stunning secret hangs in my upstairs closet and I can hardly wait for the day it's shared. I'll beg to post a picture here so you can all see what I can't stop talking about. :)
Yesterday, we decided to earn some good mom points and took Yeager to L*Goon. It's a local amusement park and it's been a couple of years since we've been there. We had a BLAST! Yegs has finally decided that he Loves rides! He went on every single thing he was able to go on - every roller coaster, every twirly twisty thing! It was so fun! We went with Uncle Matt & cousins too and we all had more fun that we ever planned.
These are just a few pictures of us enjoying every minute of it.
I wanted to post some good vibes here for my dear friend, Leah. She's a mom who's fighting for her son in Ohio and she could use some big love, prayers and support. Her case will be heard for the first time tomorrow afternoon so please send her courage, peace and strength. We are right there with you Leah! You are brave and strong. You are right! & he will know it!
Friday, August 24, 2007
I have always loved this. I don't remember who sent it to me first but with every broken heart, I've received it again and again.
I give it to you today - without saying who you are. But hoping that today is better than yesterday and tomorrow is better than today.
After awhile you learn the subtle difference
Between holding a hand and chaining a soul,
You learn that love doesn't mean leaning
And company doesn't mean security
You begin to learn that kisses aren't contracts
And presents aren't promises,
And you begin to accept your defeats
With your head up and your eyes open,
And learn to build all your roads
On today because tomorrow's ground
Is too uncertain for plans, and futures have
A way of falling down in mid-flight.
After awhile you learn that even sunshine
Burns if you get too much.
So you plant your own garden and decorate
Your own soul, instead of waiting
For someone to bring you flowers.
And you learn that you really can endure...
that you really are strong
And you really do have worth.
And you learn and learn.. .
With every goodbye you learn.
-- Veronica Shoffstall
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
So last night I stayed up until 11pm just to watch T*ori Spelling's B&B show. I embarrassed to talk about this addiction in real life but I just know you'll all support me here. :)
If you haven't seen it (& of course you've ALL seen it...) it's about her and her husband living like perfectly normal people - running a beautiful b&b business, getting pregnant on their honeymoon & having a baby amidst paparazzi, going to baby yoga...you know, all the things we do every day. Bla, bla, bla. Anyway, there was this little moment last night when he asked if she wanted to make a baby and then of course they start making out and I gagged a little but still, it tugged at my heart and this is why.
Yesterday jbeeky wrote a little post about this very thing and it stuck with me well into my late night show. She spoke about why she relates to same-sex couples trying to conceive and her explanation is this:
..."That there is no special night, no meandering down the road of intimacy that will culminate in a pregnancy. That our love for each other, our family, our community and ourselves is not enough to create a baby. That void will always be there for us. Any attempt we make to expand our family is calculated, earned, discussed, written down, cried over, paid for, hired out, clung to and gnashed on until every bit of the experience is the size of a Macy's Day Turkey floating down the parade route."
I have been sad about this very thing many times. As we sit in sterile hospital rooms during tests and reviews and even interesting baby making. As we get loans to pay off other loans for babies that never came or started but never grew. As we track every last drop of ourselves to know the temperature, the timing, the count of every last follicle... Wouldn't it be far more wonderful if you just rolled over and shared what you would share on any particular day but, while you're at it, you create a child together? & I know there are many hetero's out there suffering through the same thoughts so I don't mean to say it's all me. But why me? Why us? When bratty Tori can just roll over?
Now I'm sounding bitter and I'm truly not. I watch that show because it makes me feel good to see them so in love. I am thrilled to death for her new family just as I am for every new family. But it makes you wonder why it can be so easy for some and impossible for others.
In my next life, I'm going to be a fertile bunny.
Monday, August 20, 2007
& boy did we need it!
Today, one of the non-bio moms in this state, won her fight - and she won Big! We'll call her M.
M has a thirteen year old daughter who has lived in her custody for 11 years. Her "bio" mom is a nightmare and I can say that because none of you know her. She is unfit and unstable and un - just about everything you can think of. But still, she has that biology part that seems to run the show these days.
When the bio mom heard about my ex, she hired the same attorney and challenged M's rights to their daughter. M then proved standing after my visitation ruling but like so many others, she was threatened with the Supreme's ruling earlier this year. They took her back to court and said that because of my ruling, her standing didn't...stand.
Luckily, they went another route. They threw out the in loco parentis argument, knowing that's how I lost, and instead chose to fight using contract law. This, again, is why it's so important to create as many legally binding contracts as you possibly can. Cheryl and I had many, many different contracts but we didn't use that argument. Maybe if we had, it would've turned out differently. They had one contract and it was enough.
Of course this ruling will be challenged on appeal but this is a big step in a very positive direction. I care about this little girl so much and to know that she won't know the fear her mom has lived with this whole year is a very big deal. Kudos to you, M. You are strong & brave and I only see good things ahead. :)
Back to contracts...those of you who live in State's like mine - where you can't adopt your children - there are so many things you can do from Estate Planning, Trusts, Wills, Co-guardianships, etc. But don't forget to do a Parenting Agreement. Write up what will happen should you split up. Again, it can be challenged but it's one more thing and I'm not sure enough people know to do it.
Again, big day! Gina, you're next & I'm keeping everything crossed :)
Thursday, August 16, 2007
...lies a little town called Draper. If you're not from here, let me explain. It's a beautiful place. It's nestled right under the mountain. It's far enough from sin to get by but not too far that you're secluded from anything un-mormon. By that I mean if you went a little further south, you get to the "no coffee houses, nothing open on Sunday" kind of thing.
So instead there's this little mecca dripping in fancy strip malls and chain restaurants. & I can't stress enough the words "dripping & fancy". And maybe you never thought there could be a fancy strip mall but somehow, they pulled it off. Even the freeway exits are decorated. And if you drive far enough East you see 800,000 homes that only differ in the color of stucco on the outside. They all look alike. Every yard and hand is manicured and every house has a three car garage full of yes, three enormous cars. Every family has 4.5 kids to fit nicely in their big Suburbans. Every Suburban driver has perfectly straight hair, perfectly straight teeth and perfectly fake boobs. They wear soft, little Victoria Secr*t lounge wear and you only see that when they're unloading the baby from the back seat.
I found myself in this place the other night. I went there to see a movie and I noticed more than any time in my life that these people are different from the people I typically see. I live in a pretty nice neighborhood but no one in a 10 mile radius looks that good! What's in the water? Who trains these girls to look the same? Now Googie was really hoping for oodles of bonnet wearing hotties but these girls are just as interesting! Move over Big L*ve!
It freaked me out. Cristy and I kept talking about how strange it was - like going back in time except they weren't wearing poodle skirts or anything like that. I akin it to Stepford Wiv*s but even that is a little harsh. Just odd. No one was different than anyone else. Diversity was lacking on a huge level!
If it didn't have such an incredible backdrop, no one "my kind of normal" would live there. I thought this pictures of my beloved would give you an idea of what I'm talking about.
Now before anyone gets huffy, I do realize there might be some people who do not reflect my opinions here. (I can think of two right off the top of my head - G!) But still, you get the idea. :)
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
So we're back on track and talkin' about babies!
We've thought and thought and I've spent a few weeks pouting and the time has come to jump back on the wagon. Last night, we were driving home from the movie and Cristy said, "I think we should try one more time." And that was it. Decision made. No more talking about adoption and the risk of that. We're jumping back into IVF.
I think I've been waiting for her to make the decision. On so many levels, what she says matters most. We all know what kind of cost it is. We all know the risk after OHS. Trying one more time means possibly spending way more money than we have and get nothing. It also means I'll most likely get very sick. But after weighing the odds, what matters is that we try as hard as we can and we don't feel like we've done that yet.
I obviously have issues with biology. You know, I never thought I would say that it mattered to me. It never did before. I'm certain, with all of my heart, that I couldn't love Gracie more if she came from my body. I know that. But now, after going through losing her because of that, I don't want to worry about it. I don't want it held over me. I don't want to have to think about it - ever. It's not about love. I know, no matter how our next child comes to us, we will love him/her as much as humanly possible. I just don't want to worry. I don't want the risk.
I spent a while thinking about it today, knowing it will be hard to step back into. & I imagined again, Gracie being a big sister and Yeager being a big brother. Nothing makes me happier when I'm falling asleep as imagining Gray holding her baby sister. Only in my dreams. So we're looking into new clinics, some close and some far away. I'm ready - we're ready!
Baby, here we come!!
Monday, August 13, 2007
We went to this movie tonight. I'm not a big Anne Hath*way fan but I love stories like these. I went with Cristy and a friend whose husband is gallivanting around India. (love you, Brandon!) I think she liked it too. .
It's a love story. It's tragic, as are most. She has to give up the love of her life to do the right thing. And it was the right thing. Then she began to write novels that shook the feminists around the globe and never, ever is there an unhappy ending in the stories that surround her.
Is it odd to say that I'm certain I wore dresses like that in my last life? & that I danced in circles with my sisters and friends? I know, it is. But I swear I had loosely tied up hair and big bustled dresses. It sounds like torture but I bet I loved it. :) But that's another story.
Life is full of stories like this - people that try so hard to take chances and risks but bravery and reality escape them. They lose. I have been that girl. I am ashamed to say that bravery has escaped me before in my life. But I also like to think that I've learned to hang on to what I love. I hope I've learned enough to not make the same mistakes. Jane Aust*n lived her life without love - well it was outside, not in. I left the theater wanting to read Pride & Prejudice again and again, knowing she wrote it during the fullest time of her life.
I think I might.
Thursday, August 9, 2007
Close your eyes and come with me....Really - close your eyes.
I'm renting a car because I don't want to worry about putting too many miles on mine. Plus no signs of car seats or kids when you rent a car. No cereal on the seat. No spilled milk stain.
The top is down when I pick you up. I hop out because I'm a much better passenger. You're driving. I'm settling in. My feet hang out the window and you make fun of my purple toenail polish. We have plenty of snacks for our ride. Sunflower seeds, licorice, starburst jelly belly's and ice cold ... lemonade. We also have an ipod full of our favorite music. Pink, Indigo Girls, Brandie, Michelle, Garrison. I even brought some older stuff like James Taylor and Little River Band and we only know the chorus'. We're singing at the top of our lungs and you laugh at me every time I get it wrong - which is often.
We're headed toward the ocean up North. It's supposed to be cooler up there and my skin is craving that lotioned feeling without lotion. As we get closer we bring out the blankets. We'll keep the top down because we haven't had this kind of air on our faces in far too long. My feet come back in the car and the heater is on under our legs. It feels so good to be this far away.
We're driving up the mountain with the ocean below us. My hair is a mess but yours looks great. It's cold but beautiful. I smell pine and you smell salt. The house we're renting is just right up the hill. I'm almost sad to get there because the drive has been so nice. "We could keep driving...", I think to myself. But that would spoil the party and we're meeting friends. Lots of them. Some we've never met in person. But after this long, we know so much about each other that's it's going to feel like home - like there's no real distance between our desert and their water.
We pull up to the house. We've only seen it in pictures. It's bigger than you thought. It's kind of a cabin but you call it a cottage. There are rocks building a moat around it. Safe, for sure. There are decks up high with lounge chairs that you sink into. I can't wait to get up there and look down at the ocean. The air is wet and the sun is setting.
I run ahead so I can pick the best bedroom. Again, you laugh at me. I just want to be sure I get a west facing window. You don't care what kind of bedroom you get - just that we made it safely and you can now have a real lemonade. We're the first one's there so we decide to play that game where we guess everyone's bra size as they come. We'll ask them their size later and I'll win. I always win that game.
We'll spend days and nights here. We'll only leave for cell phone service, liquor and maybe a souvenir sweatshirt. & by the time it's time to go, we'll cry because this is the first time & the last time I'll see many of you. But it was worth it, right? We build these kinds of friendships because they hold us safely when walls are thin and tides are high. They hold us safely when words are too heavy and thoughts too shy to share with anyone else.
I don't want to go home yet but you say we have to. There are children and spouse's and mortgages waiting. Dogs to be fed, lawns to be mowed.
And blogs to be written.
Wednesday, August 8, 2007
I think I'm still recovering from our big gay weekend. I'm almost finished with laundry but wishing I had taken an extra day to get my rest before the week began. I'm tired.
I work for a non-profit (i know i keep saying this) and our annual dinner is coming up in exactly three weeks. We're planning for 1200 people. Twelve Hundred people to attend an LGBT Political Advocacy fundraiser in little 'ol Utah. I've always attended this event and I've always been impressed at how many people show enough interest but being on this side - this year - somehow makes me more grateful. It takes a lot to step up for the underdog.
Speaking of underdog, I got a call from a local gay mag today. They've decided to do a "series" of articles on the effects on families since the February ruling. On one hand, it makes the subject stay in the news and awareness is always the first step in educating people. But it also makes it feel like it'll never go away and there are days when I wish for nothing more. I know if we want to make a difference in this State, we need to keep talking about it. We need to expose people who do this to us. We need to create laws that make it so they can't do it anymore. We need to change minds about our families so people care that our children are protected - no matter what the outcomes of our relationships. If anyone reading this wants to be involved, please let me know.
And off to another tangent. While we were camping this weekend, I met many people I've never even seen before. I really thought it would be nice meeting new people and introducing them to my family. & it was. But it was hard to hear how much some of them already knew about me, my story - the sad part - the part that I wish was different more than anything on this earth. One woman was espeically brave and came to talk to me about it. She thought we knew common people - kind of we do. But the worst part was when she started talking about actual "court stuff" she had heard from someone I don't even know. The information was hurtful and untrue & was actually retracted from the hearing but this person didn't know that. This person heard it from someone else who didn't know that either. & that reminded me that too much has been put out there to really ever go away. After she went back to her camp, I begged Cristy, yet again, to move us away from here. (& to this person who just may read this...please don't feel bad. I'm actually very glad you talked to me about it)
Monday came and I was sitting at work when she she sent me an email. She had listed all the cities we could live that had cheap flights for Yeager and common cost of living expenses. She had been thinking about my request since I made it but I hadn't thought about it since. You see, I don't really want to move. I just want all the bad stuff to go away. Not that I don't want to tell my story. I don't mind that and I know it has to be done for people to get it. But I want all that early, awful court stuff to go away - where my wife told a judge that she was just my roommate and I was trying to steal her child. Or when my mother in-law agreed to the roommate story and told the judge that she had never seen me touch my daughter. He asked again, "Never?" And again she said "Never". Of course, all it took was a wedding album and baby book to prove them wrong but the fact that those things were said will never leave my days. & I am reminded that those are the lies Gracie will hear one day.
The Judge later said that every single person who testified for her was not credible. He either thought they were lying or didn't let them be counted because they didn't know us when we were together - only after we split and therefore, they didn't know me. He caught them in lie after lie while I sat and begged him to stop yelling at the mother of her. The whole things makes me ashamed and physically sick. & no matter who they are & why, I still don't know how people can lie just like that. Whether you're sticking up for your daughter or lying to get attention, it's wrong and it causes harm that is unending. Luckily he saw through every one of them so why can't I let it go? I'll tell you. It's because people still hear what they hear and every now & then, it comes up. This community is simply too small some days.
I know, I sound like a drama queen. I suppose I am. I know I got myself into this and I know I'll be just fine. But if I can't rant about it here, where can I? Right? Now tell me to hold still and to quit giving Cristy reasons to move us to the West Coast.
Monday, August 6, 2007
We're back. And we're exhausted. That's always telling of a great time, right?
Cristy and I are recovering from the river running part of the trip. My shoulders hurt. My hands hurt. My knees are sunburned. ? I'm not sure how that happened but I suppose Yeager not getting sunburned was the goal so I didn't do too bad. The river and the rock were stunning. The rapids were a little less than normal but I think we're already beginning talk of another trip earlier next year. Even Yeager, the most timid child on the planet, was begging for bigger water. But the beauty made up for the lulls by far.
Yeager getting crazy in the Ducky
Wednesday, August 1, 2007
Crazy how quickly time moves but still, not quickly enough. If I could blink and have it be years later, I would. I would be happy being fifty if I meant all I had to do was blink. But here I am...the world is turning and I suppose that'll do.
We're going camping this weekend. This is a treat for us because we hardly ever camp. We're actually river running and I think that's what convinced Cristy to go. She's just learning to camp. You would never guess it knowing her but she's a "indoor pool" kinda girl. I love that about her.
We're camping with a gay/lesbian parenting group. I heard there will be about 60 of us. That's a lot of kids and we're promising Yegs days of fun. I'm looking forward to being there with our friends and watching the kids go crazy but it also feels a little strange. This same parenting group is the same one my ex and I re-birthed back when our daughter was born. We had heard about it but it had died. We spent some time creating a website and gathering names and now it looks like it's bigger and better than ever. Weird tho. We've really avoided that whole scene for many years now. But a few of our friends have signed on to go so we'll give it a chance and pray for good times.
I will close my eyes 100 times this weekend and wish that Gracie were with us. She should be. She's supposed to be. I will think of when I used to take her to the same parenting group and she would shyly flirt with all the kids, beg for attention then run to my arms.
There will be a boy there that caused my first "my mom will beat up your mom" incident. Gracie was just walking and this little boy was sitting on the ground. His legs were spread apart and he tripped her - on purpose! He kept doing it and she just looked at him with these sweet eyes - not having a clue why he would do such a thing. It brought anger in me that I had never felt before. Not that I was ready to fight a six year old but I was seriously so mad that he would try to make her fall and worse, hurt her feelings. I'm feeling anxious sitting here thinking about it now! I can't remember what I finally said to him but it mattered more how I said it. He got up and went to tell on me. I was mad enough...I could've taken her. I need to remember that story.
We leave Friday and I'm not sure I'll post before then. If not, I'll post some pictures when I get back.
Wish me beautiful days on the river!