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Today, it’s a joy to reintroduce you to Cindy who’s sharing her unique journey through motherhood as part of our month-long guest post series, Special Mamas! In May 2015, Cindy wrote a guest post for the Special Mamas series titled “My Life in a Week.” At the time, Cindy and and her husband had three biological children and three adopted children. Their three adopted children originally joined the family as foster children, and their youngest biological child has Down syndrome. While the Special Mamas 2015 series was still running, Cindy sent an email letting me know they had just gotten word that they were going to be adopting another sweet boy into their family! The story was literally getting better by the day. Cindy was SO wanting to share the news in her guest post, but couldn’t yet because of legal proceedings. Today, Cindy’s sharing the REST of the story, the story she couldn’t tell us then, the story of how they came to adopt a sweet boy with special needs. Enjoy, friends! This is one very special mama, one very special family.


Wow. We have experienced a year since I shared “My Life in a Week” and what a year it has been! We have had mountain-top highs as well as ocean-trenches lows. Our days have been both monumental and monotonous. At some point, I am sure, God will even our keel and send us on a consistent path. Crazy as it may sound, I hope that is not any time soon. So as the Hubster, Allie (child number four), Allie’s bestie and I begin the six-hour trek back home from our celebratory trip to Disneyland, my mind, yet again, gets the opportunity to wander down the path of self-reflection and appreciation of all my Lord has walked us through these past twelve months.

I first refreshed my memory of my 2015 Special Mamas contribution to this blog, “My Life in a Week.” Goodness, that WAS a week! But I wasn’t 100% honest about all that was happening at the moment my post was published. With everything we had experienced, I was forced to leave out the most monumental moment of 2015. It was an email, actually a series of emails which had unexpected results.

You see, it was Sunday, you know, the day after Special Olympics regional games for Jillie, the day after Joe woke up with vomit on his pillow, the day after my oldest, Eric, returned to camp from the ER to serve in the kitchen for the Young Life youth and the day prior to the return of Emily from her Senior trip to Disneyland. It was Sunday that I sent an email to a person who provided support to our family for Jillie.


In that brief email, I asked if a family had come forward to love on the little boy I had been praying for the past month or so. It was a short, simple request for just a moment of information. I hit send and off my message went to await a response the following day. That response would be that no one had fully stepped up to the proverbial plate. If I remember right, the jokingly, but somewhat serious words, “Do you want him?” were included in the reply. I answered with a “Maybe we can help you find someone?” To which the word was “Can I give the DCS worker your name and number?” I countered with “Of course.”

It was the next email that caused me pause. The content of this note was the name and phone number of the DCS worker. That name was very familiar to me. You see, this social servant is the same person who brought Angel and Allie to us a little over nine years ago. That name spoke volumes of what God was expecting of our family.


After the Hubster and I spent time seeking wisdom from our Lord, we decided to step out into the void before us. A void that didn’t seem to exist when I was stripping that bed, cheering at the top of my lungs, or holding back tears of fear the day prior. As we progressed, it felt as if solid ground rose up to meet each step we made into the unknown.

The following day meant physical therapy for Jillie. I chatted about our experience and Jillie’s friend’s eyes began to sparkle. “His name wouldn’t be…” she asked. How did she know? We don’t live in a huge community, but what are the odds? It turns out she had provided physical therapy for this little guy before he had become the most recent sibling to enter the system.

This contact soon became a source of sanity for me as I could gain a little information from her because the boy was no longer on her caseload. Once we expressed our interest in adopting this sweet little blonde bundle of cuteness, our first two contacts were unable to share anything with us. An inconvenience and source of paranoia for this inquisitive mind.

As our faith-filled journey proceeded the following day, it was confirmed that the little guy would soon be experiencing his third birthday in a few weeks, in May. “Hey, we don’t have a May birthday. The Schulze family has February, March, April, August, August (again), September, October, and November covered, but not May.” This fact is something we would often joke about with those who would ask if we were done “having” kids yet. Our reply was that our calendar was almost full. So May had provided yet another solid step to our ever-confirming course toward child number seven.

The writing was on the wall. We knew what the task at hand was. Now to get the job done. We endured a few weeks of chaotic mystery as we were trying to figure out how to continue this process. A home study would very soon be necessary. While I was searching for someone to help us out in that area, I remembered that it is fingerprint clearance and reference letters that tend to prolong progress. A friend came to our house at the drop of a hat with his “kit” to obtain the necessary prints and advise us as to the paperwork needed. We began our list of potential letter writers, making sure we had people whom had collectively witnessed all aspects of our lives. Thankfully each one was eager to provide their view of us as individuals as well as parents and a family. Actually, not to boast, but many sweet friends insisted on providing endorsements of their own. In fact, the gentleman we found to help us with our certification cut off our reference count at nine letters. Speaking of him, it was a note of interest that his grandchild had been a teammate of Eric’s when he was on rowing crew in high school. (Can we say confirmation again?)

The mechanics were all in place. What control we thought we had was just that, a thought. The future of this little boy was in God’s hands just as it had always been. The month now would be June. We met the home study deadline in a month without a hiccup, which is rare. Now we wait. We wait for an adoption selection meeting. Yes, God didn’t make it a slam dunk for the Schulze family. At one point we were one of four families who had thrown their hats into the adoption ring for this guy. We kept going forward. We kept trusting. We kept hoping.

By the time decision-making day came, the Schulzes were one of two families remaining. We were able to see photos of him for the first time when the team that rallied professionally around this amazing little guy had sent the families a six-page questionnaire to answer about the responsibilities of raising this particular child. We answered to the best of our ability. Ok, I may have been pretty impressed with my responses but that was an encouragement to my parenting insecurities. We knew what it was going to take to add kiddo number seven. We were aware that his needs would be different than those of a typical child. Little lives that result in foster care need some specialized attention. Lives that were blessed with an extra 21st chromosome need additional care. Yes, our future son was born with Down syndrome, a trait that the Schulze family celebrates, a trait that big sister Jillie would share with her new little brother. The entire Schulze family was enthralled. The entire Schulze family was encouraged. The entire Schulze family was on edge.


My bestie made sure she was with me while I was waiting for “the call.” Her emotional support kept my insanity at bay. I don’t know what I would have done without her. With her, I was pacing and chatting and running all possible scenarios through my anxiety-filled mind.

It was noon on that hot Friday in July. I had been unsuccessfully not watching the clock when I heard my ringtone. I am pretty sure I thought the answer was negative at first. Then the voice on the other end confirmed what God had been confirming in our hearts from that Monday in April. We would need to check the month of May off of our available birth month calendar.

The Hubster and I would be meeting our fourth son the next day, Saturday. Except for Eric who was on a missions trip in Belize, all the siblings would meet on Sunday. Needless to say, we immediately fell in love.



Transitioning to our family began and had to move quickly because the foster family would soon be leaving on vacation. We became a household of nine by the end of July. By the end of September, we became a family of nine.





Today, Mother’s Day 2016, I received the most precious gift. My youngest child looked at me and called me “Mama.” My heart be still. I don’t think there is anything he could have given me that was more special.

I could fill another blog post with the adventures of the Schulzes since adding Ben to our family. Maybe I will, on my next long trip as passenger in my minivan. Until then, I will keep living my life just the way I like it, Never Easy – Always Good.





Cindybio2“My, you have a lot on your plate.” I can’t tell you how many times I have heard those words just in this past week. Reality is, I do have a lot to keep me busy and they all have two legs. Children have been keeping me out of trouble for over 20 years now. This period of time has provided experience with youth ages pre-birth to legal adulthood, specializing in bonding issues, chromosomal disorders, allergic reactions, illegal substance exposure, emotional challenges, as well as prolonged potty training and a myriad of other skills. With experience like this, one would think that I have “seen it all.” With the arrival of child number seven, though, we have added sneezing fettuccine noodles, pooping water balloons, and shutting belly buttons in the door (yes that really happened). I did have a limited amount of prior education including babysitting, Special Olympics volunteer, Early Childhood Education major, and preschool teacher. In May 2013, I was first asked to share my family story for a Mother’s Day blog series which gave me the penchant to begin blogging on my own. I am proud to be part of Special Mamas 2016. Join my family adventures on my blog, Never Easy – Always Good, at While you’re at it, “like” my page on Facebook at

SpecialMamas2016_smallThis post is part of a month-long guest post series titled Special Mamas. The series runs all May and is in honor of moms who have unique journeys to and through motherhood. To read all 10 posts in the Special Mamas series, CLICK HERE and you’ll be directed to the introductory post. There, you’ll find all guest posts listed and linked for easy reading!

It’s a pleasure to welcome my younger sister, Tiffany, who’s a mom of two young children. Tiffany has a diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder – bipolar type, and has shared a monthly guest post on my blog since February 2015. The purpose of her regular guest posts is to raise awareness of what it’s like to live with mental illness. Last year, Tiffany skipped her May guest post while the Second Annual Special Mamas series was running. This year, I invited Tiffany to share a guest post as part of our Third Annual Special Mamas series. Today, Tiffany is honoring our mom’s unique journey through motherhood with a guest post thanking her for all the ways she’s supported my sister from childhood to current day. Please welcome Tiffany as she presents our mom with this belated Mother’s Day gift!


Friends. They’ve come and gone. But my mom has been my consistent best friend throughout my life. She has been there during good times and horrible times. She has been there for me even when I wasn’t so sure I wanted her to be there for me. There have been times when I did not want her to see the horror going on in my life. My mom has never given up on me, and I love her because of that.

Life was so peaceful when we were young. We’d take driving trips around the country with my family every summer. I’d watch the minutes pass as I watched the clock and clouds in the sky. We listened to some pretty good music along the way. My mom was always prepared with treats to eat. When we made it to our destination each summer, our days were planned out by my mom. We had consistency in our lives, and we knew what to expect. The opportunity to explore the country gave us great experiences. Many experiences I’ll probably never have again!




Holidays at the house we grew up in were amazing. I remember my mom putting decorations up every holiday. On Christmas, one of the best nights of the year consisted of getting the decorations out and decorating the tree. We were ALL SO EXCITED! We took plenty of home movies. On Halloween, my mom would crawl into the attic where we had costume choices to wear. Most of the costumes were made by my mom. She is an awesome sewer! Once again, we were ALL SO EXCITED! The Easter Bunny and Santa Clause always came to our house with everything set up for pure enjoyment. Those were the days! I am completely grateful for every holiday celebrated with my mom’s help.


Growing up, every weekend was pretty much the same at our house. Wake up with brother and sister. Eat breakfast. Watch cartoons. Play with friends. Then come in for lunch. My mom always prepared the best lunches for us. We had hotdogs and macaroni and cheese often. We also had grilled cheese and tomato soup. Those foods are still some of my favorites. My mom always had the house clean, and I’d have to say that us kids were always pretty happy. My mom gave us love and consistency. She was always there for us.


Riding bike has always been one of my mom’s favorite activities. When we were younger, we’d bike with the family. We’d explore the small town we lived in, and occasionally the kids would get to decide where to go. There was a hill we liked to call “horse hill” because we would often see horses there. Sometimes we’d even get to stop at the Dairy Queen on our bike ride. Thanks to my mom, I still have a love for biking today.

We had a great life growing up, but I had problems with being homesick. If you’ve ever been homesick, you know the feeling? My mom was a teacher at the school we went to for elementary. Many times, friends would invite me over or want me to stay overnight. I had the worst feeling ever, and I’d usually go to the nurse’s office to tell them I was sick. They’d let my mom know, and they’d usually let me knock on her classroom door. Many times, I’d walk back to our house and lay there for the day. I was obsessed with binoculars and would watch the kids on the playground. I was safe. I was at home near people who loved me. I tried to go to church camp when I was around fourth grade. I was so sick! I was SO homesick. I needed to get home, so I told the camp nurse that I was sick. They called my parents to come and get me. Homesickness should be considered an illness. I always came back to my home, where we were completely loved.


I read the following statement recently on a Christian website. As a parent, when our children stumble, we don’t disown them. We may punish or reprimand, but cast them out of the family? We cannot.



As some of you may know, I was back and forth between Minnesota and California during a period of time in my 20s. I made some poor choices during my time in California, but I want mom to know that I always had a friend. At the end of my career in California, I was not sleeping and had so many jobs in the background acting world that I just could not keep up. I was not on any medications at the time, and my mental illness started to really affect me. I put up a fight for months and months. Finally, I called my mom to come and get me. I was super happy because I got to take a trip across the country with my mom. We got to see the beauty of the country together. That’s my perspective, and I’ll always remember that experience. I was all over the place, but I knew I was loved and needed to figure my life out.

My mom taught me to do all things with love, and she’s never let me down. I was in and out of locked places, including a halfway house for the majority of the time I was pregnant with my now five year old. My mom would faithfully drive hours each week to bring me to appointments and visits to the perinatal specialists I saw because of my daughter’s lung complications. I was SO thankful. The visits from my mom were just what I needed to stay optimistic about the situation. She helped me get through a very tough time in my life.


I now have a five year old and a two year old. My mom loves those kids and would do anything to shower them with love, the same love we experienced growing up. My mom is a retired teacher, and enjoys working with my kids. She helps me and the kids in ways I am not the best at. She is in charge of most of my finances. She’ll change that responsibility back to me sometime in the future. My mom completely deep cleans my house a few times a year. She has also taught me to be a good mother. Because of my mom, my daughter now loves to cook. My mom helps me pick out clothing for the kids sometimes. She also helps with the decorating of our home. Sometimes we go out to eat together, or to the park. We are making memories for my kids to remember throughout the years. We are both striving for my kids to have a happy life full of love, a life that I once had.





Sometimes my mom and I are like oil and water, but we always settle our disputes with love. Never does my mom hang up the phone without saying I love you. My mom has taught me the power of love and never giving up. I may not have the strong emotions I once had, but I believe they are still there.

I’ve worked for years on how to explain to my mom how much she means to me! Thank you mom for all the little things you’ve done throughout my life. At the end, those are what matter most. You’re a blessing to me! Thank you for showing me the way when I was lost. Thank you for hugging me and loving me when that was often pretty tough to do. Thank you for understanding who I am as a person and individual, most of the time. (wink) Thank you for helping make a home for me and my children. Mom, I probably would not be living if it weren’t for you. I’m pretty blessed to know that God placed a pretty awesome mom in my life.





SpecialMamas2016_smallThis post is part of a month-long guest post series titled Special Mamas. The series runs all May and is in honor of moms who have unique journeys to and through motherhood. To read all 10 posts in the Special Mamas series, CLICK HERE and you’ll be directed to the introductory post. There, you’ll find all guest posts listed and linked for easy reading!

It’s a pleasure to introduce you to Jessica who’s sharing her unique journey to and through motherhood as part of our month-long guest post series, Special Mamas. I first met Jess three years ago at (in)RL Minneapolis, an “in real life” gathering of women who met and engaged with one another online. Anyone who knows Jess knows she’s equal parts smart and sweet. She’s mama to two boys and one girl, and today she’s sharing the undeniably divine story of how each of their three children entered this world – quickly, patiently, and unexpectedly. It’s a beautiful story filled with twists and turns, and proves that God’s plans for our families are higher and greater than our own. Please extend a warm welcome to Jessica! She’s undoubtedly one very special mama. (Pssst…Jessica’s giving away a bracelet, so be sure to read all the way to the end and enter the giveaway for a chance to win!) 


If you would have told me as a new bride full of grand expectations and anticipation for a someday family based on my plans, I would have scoffed at the idea of having an eight year old, a five year old, and a newborn. My plan was to have three or four biological kids and then consider foster or adoption to grow our family. My plan would be to continue to teach in an elementary school so I could savor the summer days and nights with my family and live a contented and seemingly “uneventful” life.

Looking at what my days hold now I can see His Plans are higher than our plans and His Thoughts higher than our thoughts.

My journey to motherhood began as my plan intended…we welcomed our firstborn son in September 2007 with little to no complications and it was beautiful. He allowed me to understand the meaning of the quote by Elizabeth Stone, “Making the decision to have a child – it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” There he was, a piece of my heart in my arms. A blessing then and still to this day.


Then there came an unforeseen change in my plan. My husband was a navy reservist and was called up to deploy to Iraq when our son turned one year old. It was a season where my son and I thrived on routine. Thankfully I was still teaching full time so our days were busy with work, a few hours at home together, time at church, and me growing in ways to be a provider and playing the role of mom and dad. Thankfully our son was young enough that when his dad returned nine months later it did not take long for us to reconnect as a family of three. While Paul was overseas, we discussed the desire to grow our family and anticipated little to no troubles in doing such when he returned home. My plan was to have a summer due date in order to have more time home with the littles and all would be well.

Oh friends. His Plans are higher than our plans and His Thoughts higher than our thoughts.

Months passed along with those planned “summer due dates”…and then with those for fall, winter, and spring. Since I was in my mid-twenties we had to wait for a year of “trying to conceive” before we could be recommended to any specialists for fertility issues. This began a series of doubts, questions, and fears in my heart and mind. I would search the internet for answers—which looking back, I would discourage anyone struggling with growing their family from ever doing—there are so many ideas, tricks, supplements, advice and wishes from those who mean well, who are grieving, who are angry, who are searching for the same reasons as you. Instead of providing comfort for my confused heart, it only created more questions and uncertainty into what was happening. I didn’t understand why we were undergoing this struggle when we already had one babe fairly seamlessly. I didn’t feel like I truly fit in with those who cried out because they were unable to have a baby, because I did have one. And I didn’t feel like those with multiple kids because they seemed to conceive simply when they held their spouse’s hand. I was there–somewhere in the middle–trying to be content and savor my time with my son who was growing and delightful and amazing, yet feeling a wound grow deeper for more to hold.

While we passed through that first year of “trying,” we were then referred to doctors who would run tests and could not find any reason for our inability to conceive. We were diagnosed with “unexplained secondary infertility” which really did not give us any answers. We tried a few months of hormone shots, a round or two of prescription meds to increase egg production, and a lot of hope and prayers. Nothing resulted with that coveted “+” sign. It was hard. I dreaded my cycle. It came and went each month like clockwork. Again I mourned the unknown. I did not want to wish the days away with our sweet boy, but I was struggling with God’s goodness. Why was this happening to us? Was there a deep-rooted sin I was harboring? Was I cursed? I was both of the “haves” and the “have nots.”

After the year of “trying with interventions,” it came to a point where we could no longer put our hearts and our finances on the line each month. I needed to come to a place of accepting this was what our family was to be and move forward. Time to look up and not down. Time to embrace the child I was given and give praise and thanks for life. My husband felt contentment with our family of three. I could accept it, to a degree, but always felt a stirring for more. In Summer 2011, we made our annual trek down to the cornfields of Illinois to attend a Christian music festival. This particular year I went to a seminar on adoption under the blazing summer sun. Waving a makeshift paper fan, under the striped circus tent, I found my heart began to bear a new hope. A new plan. I believed our initial “want” of adopting that was fairly lofty in our dreams as a young bride and groom were resurfacing. Was this what we were to step into? Was this how our family would grow? Was this why those years of trying and waiting had resulted in a void?

His Plans are higher than our plans. His Thoughts are higher than our thoughts.

Two full years after Paul’s return from Iraq, we began to pursue adoption as the means to growing our tribe. Through beautiful and intentional circumstances, we learned about a little girl who was just over two years old in Bogota, Colombia. She had several medical needs but was described as, “happy, healthy, oh so sweet!” Nine months passed from the time we started our adoption journey until we were back home with her in our arms. Nine months for an international adoption to occur. Nine months that takes for a babe to grow in a mama’s belly was the same duration it took for this daughter to grow in our heart and be home in our arms.



Becoming mom to an instant toddler is not for the faint of heart, let alone a toddler who needed to be seen by various medical doctors and undergo a few minor surgeries in her first months with us. I left my full-time teaching job to create a space for time to attach and bond. Add in all the expectations and ideals you have for becoming a family of four and it can make for some challenging situations in your heart and home. When I wrestled with the desire to have more babes in my home and arms I never anticipated what it would look like to raise a child from a hard place. She was greatly loved in the orphanage that cared for her before we could get to her, but I needed to remind myself that while I had wounds from a desire to grow my family, she too had wounds from a desire for a family, and we both needed healing. We have been home with her for nearly four years now and the days are sweet, but they are also hard. Unique behaviors and mindsets arise when raising a child with a history you know little about. There have been tantrums and meltdowns—from both of us—but I am slowly putting more tools in my parenting toolbox as I become vulnerable and transparent with my struggles. I know this girl is meant for us…there are too many fingerprints of God on her story and His provisions and timing to deny it. But I am learning more about how to coach and guide my children as their mom and not to be the ‘warden’ for their behaviors. These ideas have come to me from help in the form of books and connecting with communities of mamas that have walked a similar road. However, the biggest surprise came in the form of a fresh baby boy.

In March 2015, that “+” sign I desired for so many years showed up in a most unexpected time. There was contentment that this was our quad and we were pressing in and on in our normal days. I was still home, keeping tabs on my then first grade son and pre-K daughter when His plans collided with my own. There was so much fear of loss at first. What if my body could not do this? Could I handle such grief? Was this really happening to us? Could I entrust this new life to Him and remember His plans prevail? Would I be able to trust Him in the good, the bad, the raw, and the beautiful? I did. I had to. What else can we do? My body sustained this new hope and this new life as we welcomed our third into our home on a warm November morning. Boaz Josiah Deem—a namesake to remind us of our “kinsman-redeemer” and that “the Lord heals.”




When I caress Boaz’ cheeks, draw him close, breathe in his fresh smell, and stare into his eyes I am reminded that my daughter may never have had such moments in her own fragile stages. I needed to do the same for her in all the same ways. Hold her face in my hands, whisper how beautiful and precious she is to me, and breathe life into her with my words and actions.



Each one of my children came into my arms in ways I never expected: quickly, patiently, and unexpectedly. There are moments I still meltdown; I struggle with what I want to do above what He is calling me to do, but I know I need to hold all of these days with them in my home as ones that are fragile and forming. We are certain to have days full of beauty and love and light, and those that are hard and dark and challenging. In them all may I strive to follow His Plan above my own, that He may make His Thoughts known to me and guide me in this journey of motherhood. It is a coveted calling and gift I will not take for granted.






Jess describes herself as a daughter, a wife, a mom, a teacher, a student and a friend. For the past three years she has worked as a Compassionate Entrepreneur with Trades of Hope to spread awareness for their artisan partners and support their work through sustainable business opportunities. Her main objective as a Compassionate Entrepreneur is to help families remain intact and prevent child relinquishment due to poverty. Jess is giving away one Trades of Hope Pure Love bracelet to one reader. It is made from cereal box beads that were rolled by the hands of mommas in Haiti. If you would like to enter the giveaway for the bracelet, please complete the Rafflecopter form below! You can find more information about Jess’ work by following her Facebook page at or on Instagram @jess_sharinghope. Professional photos courtesy of Shelby Wright Photography.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

SpecialMamas2016_smallThis post is part of a month-long guest post series titled Special Mamas. The series runs all May and is in honor of moms who have unique journeys to and through motherhood. To read all 10 posts in the Special Mamas series, CLICK HERE and you’ll be directed to the introductory post. There, you’ll find all guest posts listed and linked for easy reading!

It’s an honor to introduce you to Lisa who’s sharing her unique journey through motherhood as part of our month-long guest post series, Special Mamas. Lisa is a mom to three boys. Her oldest son, Micah, was born with a rare metabolic disorder. As you can imagine, it’s incredibly challenging to communicate a life-changing medical diagnosis in one short blog post. So today, Lisa’s journeying back to Micah’s infancy, recalling the earliest of days when he nearly lost his life. Lisa met the challenge with an incredibly intimate, honest and hopeful post. Soak it all in and send Lisa a special word of encouragement for her unique journey through motherhood.


My husband almost shouted at the lady behind the glass window. She stared back, deadfaced, then chomped her gum. “It will be at least thirty minutes.”

It was the third time we had received that same answer. Somewhere behind that door to the right was our six-day-old son who had just arrived by helicopter. I’ve always heard that giving birth is the hardest thing I’ll ever do. I believed it until I stood outside the ER and watched him being put onto that helicopter. Watched it take off without me.

Sometime later a solemn nurse led us back to his room. There were tubes and wires everywhere around his bed. A doctor, with an accent almost unintelligible, mumbled facts about a condition we had never heard of and we weren’t sure he had either. He handed us a stack of papers and left; we never saw him again. That same solemn nurse told us, fumbling for words, that Micah wasn’t doing well. I wanted to scream at her, Tell me something I don’t know. Can’t you do anything?

I sat in the rocking chair and stared at his bed. There was no offer to help us hold him and what little I knew of motherhood seemed ripped away by this unexpected day. It wasn’t a family-friendly hospital: we couldn’t just stay in his room and breathe the same air as our baby. They closed down the unit when they did surgeries or brought new children in and parents had to leave.

I could walk you to where I was sitting in the waiting room when my parents arrived. They had left work as soon as Justin called them and driven the four hours to the hospital. My dad hugged me and we sat and waited while Justin went for some food. I think he needed the fresh air and space more than the chicken.

The main hallway marched through that floor of the hospital and intersected with a perpendicular section where one side led to the doors of the NICU and the other side had parent rooms and a bathroom. While I stood in that dull hallway trying to resign myself to my baby dying, a family with a little girl pushed a new mom in a wheelchair through the main hallway in front of me. I had already figured out that you didn’t want to ask about anyone else’s story; you didn’t have enough emotional energy to carry that too.

I pretended to sleep that night in a tiny, uncomfortable bed. Some stuff, most of which I didn’t need, was spilling out of a suitcase in the corner. We had gone home and packed a suitcase before we had followed the helicopter up the interstate. We had touched all the baby things in our apartment wondering if we would still need them. We even debated making a Facebook post to notify friends and family. We didn’t because we realized we didn’t know what to say. In that crowded room with faded carpet I relived the day’s events and tried to surrender my baby to God. The night dragged on but the sun finally rose and I could see out the window, across a roof, and into the pharmacy where employees were changing shifts.

That morning was a lot like the previous afternoon except they had intubated Micah during the night. One more tube snaked its way into my little boy’s body in an effort to keep him alive. Around lunchtime I sat in a booth at Fazoli’s and stared across the parking lot at a maze of flowers that decorated the front of a nursery. It was beautiful, full of life and spring, and I felt like I was dying inside. My food sat untouched except for a few bites that I ate to appease Justin.

After we visited Micah for a while I was standing in the back hallway of the NICU when a door opened and I realized that same mama with the little girl was holding her new baby while the little girl danced around. They had unplugged the baby to let the mom hold him while he died. I cried for her, my heart splintering, while I wondered if that was in my future.


A new resident came on shift and asked us to sign paperwork for a transfer to another children’s hospital. “There’s nothing we can do here except wait and see what happens. It won’t be good.” We signed the paperwork and sat with our pastor and his wife while they made the arrangements. When I stepped out for some water Justin told them how small the chances were that Micah was going to live. A nurse came and told us we could go see Micah before they prepared him for transport. The unit was closed because of a surgery but his chance of survival was so small they took us in the back way to see him one more time.

I stood and stared at my baby in that bed. Tubes covered him; he was so puffy from fluids that he didn’t even look like the child I given birth to less than a week earlier. I sobbed into my husband’s chest and realized I wasn’t the only one crying. The resident who had arranged for the transport stood in the corner of the room with tears running down her face.

As they prepped him for the move and started transport we walked through the parking garage for the last time. They listed him as ‘unstable and nonresponsive’ and we strapped on our seat belts. That morning we had paid for a week’s worth of parking not knowing we would be leaving four hours later. We drove down the interstate. Somewhere in front of us our child was surrounded by strangers and dying.



Micah has Isovaleric Acidemia, a rare metabolic disorder which causes the body to be unable to break down the essential amino acid leucine. Thanks to the work of the talented staff at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital he did survive his metabolic crisis. We spent an agonizing month in the hospital with him as they performed a risky dialysis procedure to remove toxins from his bloodstreams and then allow his body to adjust to taking in food on a controlled diet again.

Anyone who has been in the NICU knows it’s a rollercoaster of emotions, a seesaw of good news and bad news. Right before we were scheduled to be released he developed pyloric stenosis and we stayed another two weeks for diagnosis and surgery when they also placed a g-tube. (A g-tube is a feeding line that is inserted directly into the stomach through the abdomen.) It was originally intended only for emergencies but he refused to drink his medical formula until he was over a year old and I fed him through his g-tube most of the time. It was a blessing and a nightmare.


We visited the ER several times a year because of g-tube complications until he was almost five and it was taken out. It came out frequently and if we found it immediately we could replace it ourselves but a g-tube tract closes quickly and we needed medical assistance if it had been out for more than an hour. More than once, we have stood in the ER and explained to a doctor how to insert a new g-tube. We actually had one doctor refuse to replace it because he had no experience with pediatric g-tubes.

Because Isovaleric Acidemia is so rare, we know more about it than any doctors we see besides metabolic specialists. We have learned to advocate for Micah’s care because his disease is so hidden. Twice this year he has been hospitalized for complications of contracting a stomach bug. Our local hospital has been amazing dealing with us but we have had to explain the urgency of getting him treatment, which can be difficult when you arrive at the ER with a five-year-old who has thrown up three times. However a phone call from a specialist at a children’s hospital helps. Thankfully the same physician’s assistant has seen him almost every time we’ve been to the ER so we haven’t had to start at square one very often.




Micah turned six in April 2016 and one of the biggest challenges we have faced in dealing with Micah’s IVA has been not making it his “thing” yet taking it seriously. I don’t want him to use IVA as his excuse or see it as his defining characteristic. He drinks a medical formula and eats a low-protein diet as treatment of his IVA (because the amino acid leucine poisons his body in large amounts). While I count his protein now we will be starting to teach him how to manage his own diet. There are a lot of things he can’t eat – meat, dairy, and other high-protein foods – but he loves the foods he can have.

God has blessed our family with amazing people to help us care for Micah. About a year ago, my husband looked up that resident who arranged to have Micah transferred to Cincinnati Children’s and called her to thank her. She remembered Micah and said she often wondered what happened. She was thrilled to hear he was doing so well.





LisaheadLisa Hensley is a writer and podcaster who dabbles in other creative pursuits. She and her husband have three boys and live in small-town Kentucky. Her online space encourages women to know Christ and embrace their work. You can find her at her blog, on Instagram at, Twitter at, and Facebook at



This post is part of a month-long guest post series titled Special Mamas. The series runs all May and is in honor of moms who have unique journeys to and through motherhood. To read all 10 posts in the Special Mamas series, CLICK HERE and you’ll be directed to the introductory post. There, you’ll find all guest posts listed and linked for easy reading!

Today, I’m pleased to introduce you to Katie who’s kicking off our month-long Special Mamas series with a guest post about her unique journey to motherhood, including falling in love with a father of twin boys who’d lost his wife to Acute Myeloid Leukemia. I so appreciate Katie’s heart, and the way she’s embraced her new role as wife and mama with such grace. It’s an honor to host Katie and the beautiful story God is writing through her life. I’m certain her words will touch you as much as they did me. Enjoy, friends.


This is Ben and Jake. I became their mom on April 2, 2016, the day I married their dad, Sam. I didn’t give birth to them, and their biological mom didn’t want to give them up. She fought for them and she fought hard. So here is my bittersweet story of how I became a mom at the age of 37 in a way that wasn’t MY plan, and how I have learned to unconditionally love someone else’s children.

For many years I wondered if I was ever going to be a mom. I was in a long-term relationship that was pretty unhealthy and at times, attacked my soul. I gave up dreaming. I knew I wanted to be married and to have children but I was letting someone else control my life plan. And in the process I was losing myself.

I met Sam in 2013. He had lost his wife, Erika, from complications of Acute Myeloid Leukemia in December of 2012. She was 39 years old. Erika and Sam, were the parents of Benjamin and Jacob, twin three-year-old boys. They tried for four years to have the boys. After a round of successful IVF, the boys were born in 2009.



I knew Sam’s wife Erika, not well, but I knew who she was. I knew her heart, how kind she was, how smart she was and how beautiful she was, inside and out. Years prior, she was a patient of mine at the dental office where I worked as a hygienist. We would talk every six months at her appointments, and got to know each other in a casual way. I had been following Erika’s story through her CaringBridge page. I ran into her when she was sick. We reconnected after not seeing each other for years. When she passed away after a long battle with leukemia (and eventually pneumonia which was caused by complications from her bone marrow transplant), I knew I wanted to pay my respects and attend her funeral. I didn’t know her husband, Sam, at the time. I just remember seeing this man holding his twin sons in his arms, and following her casket out of the church when the funeral was over. I thought to myself, “now what is he going to do?” I knew that his faith in the Lord was what was going to pull him through his grief and I accepted Christ into my life that day, too.

On the drive home I found myself in tears. Angry at the way I had been living. Knowing how hard Erika fought to live, I knew that I had to change my life. I wanted to live, not just be alive. I wanted to be a mom and have a family. So I knew from that day forward that I needed to get out of my relationship. I prayed hard for God to heal my heart and help heal the pain from my past.

Fast forward to almost a year later. Sam came and spoke at a leukemia event where I was running a marathon with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. That first night we talked for six hours and eventually became best friends. We were both so broken, and I truly feel like our friendship over the year or so saved both of us. Neither of us were ready for anything serious that first year as our hearts were still in the past. But we found comfort in our friendship and had hope of love for our future.

Over the past year and a half I was dating Sam, who was a single dad. He was trying to do it all by himself. Trying to give the love and cuddling touch of a mom, and the stern disciplinary hand of a dad. He was running himself down. I knew that it was my calling from the Lord to step in and take over the “mom” roll. I had visions early on that God was calling me to do this.



We became engaged on August 14, 2015. I couldn’t be more excited to marry my soul mate. On April 2, 2016, I married Sam and became a mom to Ben and Jake, now six years old. Stepping in as the mother figure of these two boys had many highs and many lows. I had always been an “auntie” to everyone else’s kids. I never was actually responsible for my own. I didn’t know how to be a mom. I wasn’t feeling that natural “motherly instinct.” I remember times where I actually shut the bathroom door and cried, thinking “I used to have no one who needed me but me. I don’t know how to do this.” That is where God came in the picture. I started praying and asking for wisdom, for strength, and patience. I turned to him for guidance on how to be a mom. I wanted to know what little boys need from a mom. How can I make sure they know how special and how loved and wanted they are? How I can be a role model to them? How I can love their dad in a way that they can learn to love a woman from? How I can raise loving and respectful young men who don’t have to recover from their childhood?






As most moms go through, I found days where I couldn’t handle it one more minute and then something would happen that would make my heart melt. The love and acceptance I had from these two little boys was nothing more than a complete gift from above. The snuggles, the kisses, the comments about how I am “perfect just the way I am,” and how much they loved me. The love I felt from Sam and the support he has given me from day one has been priceless. He is my true soul mate and the most amazing partner.

Loving someone else’s kids has come with the challenge of trying to get them to recognize me as their mom, while still keeping the memory of their biological mom alive, too. Her soul purpose in life was to be a mom and a wife. She fought hard to live for them and they should know that. They should remember what she looked like, what some of her favorite things were, what parts of her are apparent in both of them. Jacob has her eyes and Ben has her hair. Jacob has her fighting spirit and Ben has her stubbornness. I remind them of their mom as often as I can. Who she was, and how much she loved them.

God has a plan for our new family and we pray that he will be the leader and will guide us in the direction we need to go in. We trust in his plan, not ours.

Thank you Jesus for this life, this love and this opportunity to really “live.” I don’t take any of this for granted. It is Grace at its finest.





KatieheadMy name is Katie Rodriguez. I’m a wife, mom of two gorgeous boys, dental hygienist, and fitness lover. I have the most amazing group of female friends that carry me through this crazy thing we call “life.” I blog at if you’d like to follow our family’s journey!




This post is part of a month-long guest post series titled Special Mamas. The series runs all May and is in honor of moms who have unique journeys to and through motherhood. To read all 10 posts in the Special Mamas series, CLICK HERE and you’ll be directed to the introductory post. There, you’ll find all guest posts listed and linked for easy reading!

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