January of 2021, a minuscule chunk of my life that was filled with the beginning of a basket of trials from God. In a seven day time period three unanticipated events happened. The first of the three, my second oldest step daughter moved into our home full time. This meant she was separated from her sisters for the first time in her life. She came to live with us just days before the beginning of the school semester and she would be starting at a new district because we couldn't provide transportation her to her old one. She didn't want to live with us. She didn't want to change schools. She was subject to so much adversity and change without any say in her own life and without any warning. She was so small yet she was expected to be able to handle this tornado of events with grace and ease. Too much too soon in too little time. We did our best to nourish her emotionally and fill her with love. She was going through something neither of us could ever begin to relate to or imagine and there wasn't much we could do to help her.
On top of the fact that Rob and I were beyond out of touch with any sort of relatability to what she was going through, we had adult battles going on in the background that involved how we were parenting her as well. Many people advised that we choose to home school due to covid. This was not a practical option for our house. Rob and I both had full time jobs and we didn't have the ability to become a third grade teacher overnight. There were a handful of adults that were fairly confident they could do what we were doing better, and they weren't shy about letting her know that. We were also being undermined by more than one adult in her life. Her mom would tell her she wished she could spend more time with her and she doesn't understand why Rob wouldn't let her move back in. All the while her own mother is the one who kicked her out in the first place. One adult went as far as giving her a cellphone and telling her to keep it hidden from us. She had it hidden for 2 full weeks before it was discovered. Another adult told her lies about her dad and myself and proceeded to write a 3 page letter about the "emotional prison" that our house was and referred to me as her "step mom from hell." We were fighting a battle we didn't have the power or the resources to win.
Two months into living with us we found ourselves in a situation that we had to take her to the hospital. Rob alerted her mother of the development and she arrived at the hospital shortly after us. The doctor told us right away that they would be keeping Rob's daughter overnight. I stayed for a few hours then left so that she could be alone with her parents. The following morning Rob had a call scheduled with his lawyer. He made as many hospital employees as possible aware of the situation, making it abundantly clear that his daughter was currently living with us and was not by any means to leave the campus with anyone but him. He was on the phone with his lawyer for no more than 30 minutes. When he returned to the hospital room, his daughter was gone. Her mother had committed parental kidnapping. She wouldn't answer her phone and it would be over a month before she let us see or speak to Rob's daughter again.
The second event that happened was receiving a call from Michigan's Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA). I ignored the phone call twice because the only time I have ever gotten calls from a Lansing area code it has been the red cross asking me to donate blood. This time it was not and they left a voicemail. I still didn't quite realize what it was and I shared the two voicemails with my family. It was my brother who said it first, they were calling in regards to the birth I attended the day I found out I was pregnant. I returned their phone call and scheduled a time for them to ask me some questions. I had no idea what this entailed or where it was going, so I contacted a lawyer that played a roll in getting midwifery to be a licensed profession in the state to ask her some questions. I wanted to know if this was a court situation, if at the end of my pregnancy I was going to have to testify as a witness in court regarding a birth that ended in the loss of a baby.
After speaking with the lawyer I felt a lot better. She said that whoever contacted me would ask a handful of questions about what happened the day of the birth and the days leading up to it. She said that as of right now it is just an investigation with LARA and nothing more. The last thing she said was that it could take up to or more than a year for any results to come of the LARA investigation and chances were that if the parents were choosing to pursue anything in court it wouldn't happen until after the investigation was complete.
The third, and final, uprooting we experienced that week involved Grammy... She had fallen while spending time up north with my aunt and she broke her femur. She had broken her hip almost three years prior and it had been a difficult road for her physically and mentally since then. It was shortly after she recovered from the broken hip that she moved into my parents home. I remember getting the phone call from my mom. Rob and I were sitting at a table with his daughter talking about different things and I ignored my moms phone call. It wasn't until the third attempt that I picked up; my mom doesn't call back to back if it isn't urgent. When I answered she told me Grammy had fallen and she was going to the hospital now. While she was in surgery the doctor came and spoke to us. The summary of his update was that after an injury and a surgery like Grammy experienced, he put her femur back together for comfort and she would likely never put weight on it again. It was hard news to bare.
Grammy came out of surgery fine, they had done what they could for her leg surgically. The discussion turned to "now what." In the hospital she was refusing physical therapy. She told more than one person that she didn't have any fight left in her. She fought through cancer more than a handful of times. She fought through a broken ankle. She fought through a shattered hip. She said she didn't have any fight left. This was one of the hardest things I have ever heard. Grammy had been a warrior for my entire life. She worked like a machine to bathe me and my entire family in love. Each holiday, each birthday, each ordinary day was special with Grammy. We weren't ready to say goodbye but that wasn't for us to push onto her. She had been through so much and endured so much pain for us. Now, she wanted to rest.
After her decision was made, the hospital started talking about hospice. She would be transported from the hospital in Traverse City to my parents home in Columbiaville. My brother, a paramedic , would drive her in the ambulance. We got her moved back into her apartment in the basement, set up with in her in home health care workers, and did our best from there.
January was a drop tower, those rides at amusement parks that take you up super high and then just drops you down. In spite of the emotional toll required to start healing from the sudden arrival and abrupt departure of Rob's daughter, Grammy's prognosis that led to hospice, and potential court proceedings regarding the death of a baby, February was filled with some pretty spectacular memories. We had my baby shower and my baby moon both in February. Xander's baby shower was such an awesome day. It was during COVID so we split the day into groups to decrease the amount of people we had together at once. I was able to enjoy my grandparents, my aunts and uncles, and my closest friends while we celebrated my beautiful baby boy. The whole day I felt loved and supported. My parents took us on a baby moon to South Padre Island in Texas. We stayed in an Air B&B with my parents and our friends Tammy and Keith. It was a fabulous trip. We spent the entire time relaxing in the sun, playing cards, eating amazing food, and enjoying each others company.