January 27, 2007

The Miracle that is MY daughter *Happy B-day Boppy!*

This is Alieshia Nikkole.

And this story is about how I became her mom 17 years ago.

Keep in mind, most of these events happened in the space of 7 days.

Well I won’t go through the good details of getting pregnant, as my story will be LONG and drawn out enough.

As sort of an Epilogue I’ll just mention: I had made a Dr's appointment to get an abortion. But received a telegram and a phone call from a friend in London England just as I was headed for the door to the appointment. The Telegram had been sent 3 days before. How it, and the phone call arrived at just the right moment, reminds me that I was NEVER in control of the events that would be taking place over the course of the next few months. By the time I remembered the appointment some 4 hours later, I also realized that 2 lives were saved.

I’ll start this way:

From the time I went into the bishop’s office and told him my situation, I decided keeping the child I was carrying was not an option. The church strongly suggests unwed mothers to give the gift of a 2 parent stable household and that’s what I was going to do, no questions asked. I think as part of the repentance process I disassociated my self with the child. Never felt it was mine, I always said "I’m carrying someone else’s child." I Didn’t want it, and was happy to be rid of this baby who was over taking my body. I worked with LDS social services about my options and choices. They never pushed me one way or another and emphasized the choice was mine to make. I had chosen adoption and had the adoptive family all picked out and waiting.

I was obviously in with the wrong crowd and doing things I shouldn't have been doing. I was introduced into the drug life and the thug life. Although I never touched the drugs or the guns and the other things that came along with that kind of lifestyle, I was trusted with some of the "in" type things that only a "homie" would be privy too.

By the time I decided I really didn't want to be apart of that lifestyle, it was almost too late. These people had labeled me as "one of their own" and were not inclined to let me just fade into the sunset. If they didn't see or hear from me 2 days in a row, they would come to my house... sometimes at 2 or 3:00 AM to make sure Me and their little cousin I was carrying was doing alright. We called that "good lookin' out." These day they call it "having your back."

Things got to a point where I realized I was in a little too deep with "the homies and was sort of stuck in a hole. My mother in her wisdom called my brother and sister-in-law in California and informed them of the situation. She got off the phone a couple hours later and announced there was a plane ticket in my name to San Diego, California. When my brother heard of the people I had been hanging with... which happened to be the ONLY people he wouldn't hang with in high school (and he hung with some pretty shady people back in the day) he insisted I needed to get out. So were sneaking me out of town so I could get my life back on track. I couldn't tell anyone I was leaving or the "homie posse and crew" would have retaliated.

I played them like a violin. Kept up the regular pretenses: "oh you know I'll be at the club this weekend and the after party!"
" No, I won't get into another fight...but if she shows up and starts some mess I won't hesitate to jump her again..." and so on.

Less than 1 week later, I hopped on a plane and was going to live in Oceanside, California.

In California I could spend the time I needed to make the important decisions that would soon change the course of my life and the life of this baby. My due date which was Jan 18th came and went. I was STILL preggo, would this child ever come? I had weekly appointments with LDS social services to make sure I was emotionally OK with my decisions. Boy was I ever. The decision I made 9 months ago had never changed.

Jan 22nd, a Monday, another Dr’s appointment.

Dr said we were :WAY off on the due date" I was no where near ready to deliver."

Tuesday Jan 23th my LDS Social worker called and said she’d been called out of town for the weekend to a conference in Salt Lake City. Part of her job was to be at the hospital at the time of the birth as the baby would be discharged and placed with her to a foster care home until all the paper work for the adoption was finalized. Since I was no where near ready to have this baby, as the Dr informed me it would be another week or 2 before I was going to deliver. We couldn't see any immediate worry for her to go to the conference the upcoming weekend. She gave me the name & phone number of the colleague who should be called if I had the baby while she was gone.

The morning of Jan 27th. It was a Saturday. I was getting ready to go watch my brother's marine battalion's all day long baseball tournament. I had become very good friends with a woman in my brother's office. Maureen Vipperman. We called her "Mo' or "Vipp." Vipp wasn't able to have any children of her own. So I had asked her weeks before if she would do the honors of being my labor coach and being with me at the time of the delivery. Something told me I wouldn’t make it game. As a matter of fact "Vipp" was the one picking me up for the game... (by way of the mall of course!)

I was having some annoying cramping that wouldn't go away. I didn't think anything of it because I has been having those types of cramps for almost a month. Suddenly about 10:45 am I got this power cramp that stopped me in my tracks! It's amazing how we can remember the exact moment of some things.
We called the Dr got his answering service, they said they’d call him and then call me right back. An hour later… we hadn’t heard back from him. So we called them again. They said to come on in because it sounded like it was time.

BOY WAS IT TIME. We got to the hospital and when the Dr, who had been on hole 6 of his 18 hole golf excursion said

“IT’S YOU???? Wow I wasn’t expecting it to be you, you were no where near ready when I saw you Monday!!!”

"well I wasn't expecting to be here either. It appears you'd make a better weather man because your forecast was totally off..."

My Dr was a nut case. I appreciated his humor and sensitivity during the prior weeks. It was like chatting with and old friend and He and the Nurses were aware this child was going to be adopted. They had instructions to take the baby from the room after birth. I didn’t want to see it or hold it or anything. I just wanted it out and gone.

People tell me I’m lucky I was only in labor for 3 ½ hours. Luck was not what I was experiencing I assure you.

It’s a blurry situation … the pain... ice chips... oxygen masks... breathing. OH, THE BREATHING THING! Lamaze? What is UP with that? When those pains hit your gonna get a breath the best way you can…. Lamaze goes out the window!

Finally... time to push. Push Number one: Everyone was was screaming in delight... the delivery room erupts with excitement!
“Look at all that curly dark hair!...”

Push two: I heard a couple of nurses gasping:

"Doctor!" one of them said in a panic.

Then they got serious on me... “Karyn, don’t push, be very still!”

Not what you wanna hear in while in pain. I told them I had to push... it hurt not to push.

My labor coach, "Vipp" doing her job, trying to calm me down, she came around bent down and got in my face and said...

“GIRL, don’t push, just breath!!!” She started breathing with me. That scared me but it had the required effect. I thought these people were CRAZY, but I stopped.

I felt this sharp PAIN, and wanted to scream:

A few seconds later... (It felt like minutes, they later told me it was about 20 seconds) I was able to push again. Success!


I was tired and crying. She was crying. Everyone was saying how beautiful she was.

My crazy Dr said
“I'm not supposed to do this, but do you want to see her?”

I said
“no, no thank you”

He insisted I MUST

I said no.

He placed the crying baby on my tummy… the baby cried once… said “MAMA!” and quickly fell asleep.

The delivery room fell silent.

I hear it. The Dr, Nurses, and Vipp all heard it. They all burst out crying. It didn’t faze me one bit. So I pretty much ignored it. They took the baby away after that.

When I left for the hospital, my brother was instructed to call the LDS Social Service Offices before he left for his tournament to let them know so the social worker could meet us up there. My brother actually beat me and Vipp to the hospital and said he couldn’t get a hold of the social worker but would continue to try. He had called them all day and no one answered. Then next day was Sunday and the office would be closed. I was too tired to panic. I slept most of the day... I was frighteningly anemic yet they came and took my blood about every hours. Freaking vampires!

Sunday Jan 28th! Super Bowl Sunday! Discharge day. My Dr said if I was voting for the right football team I could go home today! He was serious too. If I chose the wrong team, I'd be staying. Back in the 90's was there anyone BUT Joe Montana and the 49ers?

We still couldn’t find the social worker. The hospital informed me that I had to take this baby home with me since there was no Social Service Representative to take the child. I was horrified. I had NOTHING, no diapers, no clothes, no food. Why would I since I didn’t expect to keep the child. I hadn't gone through the process of even thinking about names and I had paperwork, birth certificates and other records to sign. After I spent another hour trying to figure out a name and other options, I left the hospital... with a child and instructions to return in 2 or 3 days for babies check up. Luckily Social Services would opened the next day...... No, actually... they wouldn't.... for some strange reason... they were closed on Monday. *sigh* I did NOT like how this was working out.

Thank goodness my niece was only 10 months old so there were plenty of diapers and things like that at the house. Vipp picked me up and brought me home. I left her to handle the baby. I walked in the house and announced to my brother... "your niece is in the car" he jumped up and headed to the car and went to bed. I was still exhausted. (It was super bowl Sunday and the house was filled with my brother’s marine buddies in the midst of the bowl party).

I bolted out of bed about 4 hours later. I remember sitting straight up out of my sleep and saying... "There's a baby in the house.... and I'm supposed to be taking care of it!"

My sister in law pretty much took over the care of the baby and that was OK with me, I wanted nothing to do with her. We had noticed that when she breathed... she squeaked or gasped...like a little mouse trying to catch it's breath or something. It sounded like she was having trouble breathing and when she cried it got worse.

Tuesday Jan 30th. I took baby into her first check up. I informed her Doctor about her breaking and I'm sure he cold already hear. He felt her throat, said she was swollen around the larynx. Her weight had also come down a little she had lost some ounces. That meant she wasn’t eating right. He jumped right on the phone and called a specialist. The specialist was across town and said he wanted to see her right away. The office was closing in 10 minutes but they would keep it open until I got there. I was kind of scared for this child, what was wrong with her???

It took me 25 min to get to the other side of town. The baby was in the back seat crying the whole way.

When we got to the Dr’s office I needed to fill out more paper work. They kept asking me if I was the mother I kept saying she was being put up for adoption, the social workers were unavailable so I was forced to sign the waivers and all the other paper work. I didn’t want to sign any papers as being in charge of her care. I had to sign or they wouldn’t treat her. I did what was needed to get her taken care of.

They took us back into a room and explained they needed to feed a thin microscopic tube with a camera down her throat to look around. I needed to hold her in my lap while they did this. They assured me the baby would be OK but would actually be gagging and choking as they fed the tube down her throat. It was horrible! The baby was crying, I was crying, I was a mess. Afterwards, the Dr said it was really swollen and he couldn’t see much, but he wanted to schedule her for a Barium swallow and chest x-rays to make sure nothing more serious was going on. He set the appointment up for 3 days later, the next Friday.

Mean time. I still can't get through to the Social workers. And I was still pretty much ignoring the baby. I wanted “that child” away from me.

The next couple of days had come and gone and it was the night before I was to take baby to get x-rays. The instructions were the baby could not have any food or drink at least 12 hours before X ray time. I had decided since she couldn't eat, I wouldn't eat either. She had to be hungry enough to drink the Barium. New borns are fed every 2-4 hours, right? The x-ray was scheduled for 11 am the next morning. That night was the longest night of my life. I walked the floor all night sobbing. Trying to comfort a child who was crying from hunger and then would only stop when exhaustion over took the hunger…and would wake up crying again when hunger over took the exhaustion. I realized that I would never understand how people could be so cruel as to allow human suffering to prosper. It is hell to witness.

Next day February 2nd frazzled and worn I got baby to the Dr's Office. She was crying still and each inhale and exhale she took was like a gasp for air. I felt as if she had been put through the cruelest of things this last week I know she was as exhausted and confused as I was. They fed her the barium and took the x-ray. When they were finished, I pulled out a bottle and fed her. That was only the 2nd time I had personally fed her. I took baby home. We both slept most of the day and weekend.

Monday Jan 5th, Dr’s office called. They said the x-rays were clear but they wanted to put her under an anesthetic and do exploratory surgery and open up her chest to make sure. When I heard this a JOLT ran through me. * I had enough of this crap*

I declined, saying
“this child is not even 2 weeks old. I’m not doing this to her anymore”
and hung up.

I was peaked and felt as if I have been stripped raw mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. What the hell was going on with my world???

I called my mama. I don’t know about anyone else, but when I’m in turmoil…some thing about hearing mama’s voice breaks me down completely.

She answered the phone and all it took was hearing her voice say "hello..." and I lost it.

I became the baby girl who was hungry and tired and frustrated, confused and scared. Uncontrollably mess for about 5 minutes. No words, just tears and crying and fighting to breath.

Finally mama said... “Karyn take some deep breaths and hear me.”

I took some breaths and calmed down. She said...

“ In all of your counseling and doing what you've been instructed to do with your Bishop and case workers, when you asked heavenly father what to do with this child, did he confirm your decision?”

I said, “Huh??” What was she talking about? I could barley comprehend.

She repeated the question.
I told her

“well, the church says unwed mothers should consider giving their child up for adoption so that’s what I planned to do.”

She asked “so you prayed about that and if felt right?”

I responded “ummm.. No. I didn’t pray or fast or debate myself about it. I just decided that's what should be done so that's what I'm doing”

Mom said: “ you mean to tell me you made a decision this important that involves human lives and you never prayed about it.. At all in 9 months???” (Sounded stupid since she put it that way)

“um, Yeah I guess that's what I'm saying.” Why was she picking on me at a time like this?

All she said was... “When we are given instructions from our prophets and church leaders, there’s a reason we are taught to get a personal conformation and seek for personal revelation. There's a reason for everything your going through. You have some work to do regarding the life of this child and your own.”

I guess so, huh?

A couple of hours after hanging up with mom LDS Social Services called. As it turns out… they don’t know what happened to their phones Absolutely clueless there was even a problem until the last Friday. Their incoming lines had been out of Service for almost a week They were able to call within their own offices but outside called didn't come through. They're usually closed Mondays but now they were getting all of the message from the prior week and decided to open the office and play catch up. They were just getting all the messages left them. She asked how it was and how I was handling the baby. I told her not very well at all . We set up an appointment to meet in 2 days (Wednesday) to get things back on track.

I called the family and asked them to fast with me the next 24 hours. The thought of doing this as all was almost more than I could take. As I fasted I played out the last nine months and ESPECIALLY the events of the last week in my mind... cord around baby’s neck... Baby crying until laid on my tummy, then calling out "mama" before falling asleep... no social workers to take her home… all these freaky Doctor appointments forcing me to sign my name to her paper work as guardian/parent. Watching her suffer, crying, crying, and crying... why is it that what was planned perfectly to a “T” for 9 months was suddenly chaos, hell, and confusion. I was only 22 years old. No job. Living with my brother his wife and my niece. Why hadn’t I prayed about what to do? It was obvious I was in no condition to take on the welfare of another person. I had to find a way to take care of myself. It was obvious what to do wasn't it?

OR was it?

That night I got on my knees and wrestled with the angels. I cried first. All I could say was squelch out ‘father help me” and cry. I fell sleep on my knees. I dreamed of a little girl in a pink dress with a little afro puff pony tail walking alone and crying because she didn't know where to go. And her Savior Jesus Christ came to her side and comforted her letting her know all would be well. I Woke up 2 hours later, cried some more... and just listened and tried to feel... something in the stillness and quiet beside the ache I had in my side and knees from being on them. A total of 5 hours later. About 4:00 AM totally exhausted I jumped into bed. And slept. Still no decision as to what to do. I was silent and quiet most of the next day. Numb I guess. I had about 24 hours to figure this out. This was the longest week of my life. Different members of my family called during the day to check up. I got on my knees again that night. I figured I didn’t have much more to add to what I’d said already so I just basically asked heavenly father what is was he wanted me to know about this child and how would he have me decide how she could best serve him in this world. Then I got up and lay in bed, wide awake and listened. What I heard was so clear I had to look about the room to see who was actually speaking to me. Words of a blessing I'd recieved when I was 18 cam to mind. (My bishop had reminded me early in my pregnancy that the blessing was valid but totally up to me to keep it valid).

There was a reason the phones didn’t work at LDS Social Services for 5 days. Just as there was a reason I got a telegram from my best friend, a missionary in London, out of the blue, that made me miss a Dr. Appointment to have a possible abortion when I was 7 weeks pregnantnt. How come all this medical stuff was forcing me to try and bond with this child? Didn't they have things these days to detect when the cord was wrapped around babies in a dangersous way. Why hadn't they seen it? The only thing that WAS successful at was not bonding with this child and that suddenly became very spooky to me.

I found out later my brother had missed his baseball tournaments the day baby was born. He spent 3 hours looking at her in the window. She looked so much like his 10 month old daughter, all he could say was.”2 peas in a pod”. He had been inactive in church for years, now I recalled day my baby was born mentioned to me if I thought it was too late for him to have his daughter blessed at 10 months old. 2 days after my baby was born my brother also mentioned he wanted to go to church with me the next time I went.
Several Phrases of my blessing came to mind... but the main was... something to the effect that my missionary work would be gathering the family generations and be done through my children. It was already happening.

Things were becoming clear. OBVIOUSLY clear. Then next day I went to my meeting to Social Services and my social worker. She asked me what was going on. I gave her the details of the previous week. She asked me as she had so many times…if I was still firm in my decision to place for adoption. I told her for the first time in 9 months that I was not sure. It was weird… she gave almost a sigh of relief. I looked at her curiously. She asked me what my decisions were. I started to cry. She started to cry. I told her I never thought I would say this but I think I am going to be a mommy. She said she had strongly felt it should be this way but had to always support her client in whatever decision they were making, as did my family I found out a few days after.

2 hours later. I walked out of LDS Social Services with my daughter Alieshia Nikkole. I had never called her by a name, until that moment she was always "baby" or “the baby.” For the first time ever… I held her to my chest and closed my eyes taking it all in. What kind of mess was I getting us both into? I just held her. I looked at her, really looked at her for the first time. I kissed her, Her forehead, her tiny hands and fingers, her cheeks, her eyes. I smelled her hair and felt her little heart beat next to my own. I listened closely to her breath that little squeak she had. All it turned out to be was swollen larynx due to the cord being wrapped around her neck and it was gone within a couple of months. I carefully placed my daughter into her car seat and buckled her in carefully like some precious cargo Heaven had asked me to guard with my life. Little did I know she was just that... precious cargo. I jumped in the car and turned on the radio. My favorite song happened to be on… “Every little step I take... you will be there…” By Bobby Brown. I smiled at the song and wiped away a tear that escaped my lashes.
Ha, that song! Another coincidence in many that had happened that week? NOPE, NOT EVEN. Heavenly Father was giving me the thumbs up. I heard a voice that whispered... “You will have all the support you need.” And I always have.

(Sometimes people, laugh, scoff at me and roll their eye's when I tell them I can audibly hear a voice when I receive answers in situations such as these. Laugh all you want. The voice has not failed me yet.)


It's 17 years later. Today at 1:50 pm Alieshia Nikkole will be 17. It's been the greatest experience of my life being her mother. It wasn't always easy. It wasn't always laugh and giggles as most of you see us. But every minute of it has been worth it and I can't imagine my life without her.


January 21, 2007

A Leap of Faith

Words and Music by Lynne Perry Christofferson

Moses Mother Placed her baby in a basket on the water
when she hid him in the rushes he was found by Pharaoh's daughter

Oh, she took a leap of faith, kept her tiny prophet safe

Young boy David was a shepherd, yet he chose to face a giant
and while Israel's army trembled, David trusted God and triumphed.

Oh, he took a leap of faith, and the spirit made him brave

Oh, good people never fear
for your God is ever near.
he will grant sufficient strength
when you take that leap of faith

Good Queen Esther, full of beauty, recognized her Solemn duty
So she fasted, she was prayerful, risked her life to save her people

Oh she took a leap of faith, they were spared a cruel fate.

Oh good people never fear
for your God is ever near
he will grant sufficient strength
when you take a leap of faith.
Oh , you must take,
must take
A leap of faith.
(sound byte)

It's been a tough weekend. It hurt like hell and I wouldn't trade anything for it.
It started with early morning meetings 3 hearse and a casket, afternoon meetings and a blessing. That's not counting today. I'll spare the details of the things that just don't matter to the story.
You know when you reach that point of rock bottom, whether it be emotionally, physically, spiritually, mentally?And you decide to hold on for.... sometimes... weeks, months years? When what you really need to do is drop. Let go and let God. It's a hard thing to do, submit and let go. But it's so very necessary to our growth and our healing. I been swinging at the bottom of that rope for a couple years now, trying to be in control of it all. If I can just hang on, then I can pretend or fool myself into thinking I am in control.
You can only swing so long. You're legs will get tired of dangling. Your arms will get tired and cramped. Your hands and fingers will get blistered and callused from holding on to whatever rope or flaxen cord you've got yourself tied to, and in the process, your heart is getting more hardened and callused over as well. Eventually, something has GOT to give.
And you, knowing these things... keep holding on. Do you realize you're facing off with GOD.... YOU CAN'T WIN. You're creating a challenge.... a competition you have no business creating and no way of winning... and you know this. It's making you miserable. And you are making those around you miserable. It's damaging friendships and possibly family ties.
But you just hang on...swinging & dangling. Like Satan's bait. Because if you aren't submitting or having your faith in the Lord... then exactly who are you submitting to? And if you aren't doing anything... you still aren't turning to God.

I got tired. My heart broke "completely" this weekend. I cannot even begin to describe what that mean. But if feels as if you are absolutely exposed. No shame. No pride. No stubbornness. You acknowledge your unrighteousness even in the smallest degree. And it comes in layers and waves and can last for hours.... at least mine did. You realize the hurt and actually feel the pain you have caused from your accusations, your sharp tongue, your anger and insecurities, your improper actions. There is no... taking that stuff back... it's out there, the damage is there. All you can do is attempted to ask forgiveness and start to rebuild. It feels so bad...... and it feels so good. Because you realize .... all this time.... you don't have to carry all this... crap! You could have unloaded at anytime. You wanna smack yourself for taking so long. So many years wasted. The anxiety, frustration, stress of always being on guard. It took it's toll. I hardens the heart. I don't want to be numb and running on simulated feelings anymore. I simply dropped. It was scary. It is scary.

I also broke down and got a blessing which started the process going
I told them I wasn't really feeling ill or anything, but I did go into what's been bothering me for some time and effecting me to the point where I can't hardly stand living with myself. And also some recent happenings that I felt were spinning out of control that I just had failed to deal with in a proper manner and didn't know how to deal with them.
The blessing came...and the direction I rec'd was sooo crystal clear. So specific. So promising, reminding me that those strengths that I have long forgotten are still with me. And to remind me that those I have entrusted with my faith struggle to be worthy of it and do not wish to fail me, and I will soon know it. But also to remember most importantly it is my Faith in God that will NEVER fail me. It was very tearful and touching experience. And then the blessing went on about health issues, and how important it will be to follow the Dr's recommendations. I was amazed....
Did he know about:
the recent nose bleeds?
the lump in my breast?
The knots in my stomach that keep you from eating?
The sharp pulsating pain in my chest that doubles you over every few days and has you sleeping sitting up
or the heartache?

As my sister put it.... "yeah, its' God, of course he knows."
She's right, of course he knows.

I read a book that pretty much broke me down even further if that's possible... helping me realize as did my blessing that I have no been fair to some people. And I need to go back and correct it. That the atonement levels the field of fairness. If Jesus Christ has taken upon the sins... then for me to not sincerely forgive someone is the same as me begrudging Christ.

Because he has taken upon that sin for those people I refuse to forgive* I, in reality, am refusing to forgive Christ who is acting in behalf of those people. I have been thinking of all the things I tried to and failed or really didn't let go of: Anger buried but not let go, hurt redistributed or saved for a rainy day, unkind words and defensive accusation that do nothing but shoot daggers.*
The words.... "if you have done it to the least of these.... you have done it unto me.." have played over and over in my mind hundreds of times the in the last 24 hours. I've always heard it and have known what it has meant. But I have never felt the painful effects of it until yesterday. And as my sister would say... it's gonna leave a mark. I have to face the facts that some will not believe the apologies and bring the forgiveness. I can't blame them. I've got to prepare for that. For him... Savior, they did leave marks: in his hands and feet.

My story today started with a song. The reason was because... after all I experienced this weekend, with the blessing and the emotion and pain....and the councel on faith, the Young Women of the ward... and the leader... (yeah, I'm one of them leaders) Sang that song today in sacrament. I'm so glad we practiced it twice in Young Womens first... I couldn't get through it without breaking down during our practicing of it. Third time's a charm... I held up pretty well while performing it.
If you don't think that song was today's reconfirmation from the Holy Spirit, of all that it graced me with yesterday.... I would say.. you are mistaken. I'm willing to be wrong, but this time I don't believe I am.