Shoes to Fill; 1st Chosen Family Reunion

Daughter&Father” by Blackwood XL is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

This vision I had around March of 2020 when my son was about 7 months old. I didn’t have time to journal it back then but it stuck with me. It was during a very difficult time for me and my son. My son was diagnosed failure to thrive and pretty much struggled to gain weight. He never drank more than 3 ounces of milk at a sitting so I was having to feed him every three hours during the night. His weight dropped to below 1% on the growth chart from about the time he entered daycare at 6 weeks old to the present. To this day, he is still below the bottom line on the chart but now it has simply become his normal. His poor eating was and is a source of so much anxiety for me. Thankfully I worry much less about it now than then. He was also extremely colicky as a baby and had very bad reflux and vomiting. I used to even feed him with a small syringe. Nothing I tried was worked. In March of 2020, he spent 2 weeks in the hospital where they ran all sorts of tests to figure out what was the cause of his poor eating but none of the tests revealed anything out of the ordinary. They had him on a nasal feeding tube during his stay but he showed no weight gain. They finally told me a feeding tube would not be of any help in his situation. My routine at the time was to feed him his bottle of milk every 3 hours during the night (9PM, 12AM, 3AM, 6AM). I’d set my alarm wake up, prep his bottle, change his diaper, feed him which took 30 – 45 min, burp him which took another 15 -25 minutes. I would pray he wouldn’t throw up and I dared not put him to bed too soon or I’d potentially be cleaning up vomit from the bedsheets. During this time I’d get about an hour and a half of sleep at best if I was lucky between feedings. I was physically and emotionally exhausted. This was also around the time Covid hit so I was afraid to call on anyone for help. I was seriously doubting my ability as a parent to do this by myself.

On one of these very difficult nights, I seriously contemplated surrendering him at the fire department. I simply could not do it any longer. 8 months of this round the clock routine was more than I could bear. I was forever calling my sister crying telling her I simply couldn’t do it. She would do her best to encourage me. Once I called my niece Daisy complaining and she told me there are no take backs. Her words stuck to me like super glue. She said, I needed to continue forward at all costs. She did assure me it would get better in time. With the Covid scare, I couldn’t really ask for help as everyone was sheltering for their own safety. I also didn’t want to admit defeat. There was also the fact that when Oliver was 6 weeks old on his very first day at daycare I had a knock at the door. I had dropped him off at 8am and by 10am that same day there was this knock on my front door. The woman identified herself as a social worker with Child Protection Services. She said she was investigating an urgent call that someone had seen me at a street gathering and noticed my newborn child was underfed. They believed I was withholding formula from the child. I felt violated. How would anyone assume that without even examining him or asking me about it. The street gathering was our annual street Halloween gathering where we close the block we live on to traffic and the neighbors bring food and music and we all socialize. We even build a wonderful bonfire and roast marshmallows at night. My sister was visiting me during this event and she walked around carrying little Oliver and visiting with neighbor. At 6 weeks he was not yet showing any signs of failure to thrive. It wasn’t until after starting daycare that he was constantly bringing home colds and viruses that his weight dropped. That situation eventually resolved itself with them speaking to my pediatrician and the daycare personnel but it left me unable to trust anyone. Child Protection Services would not disclose who reported me but they said once a report is made they are obligated to investigate. They went through my house looking for any sign of neglect. They made me show them all the breast milk I had in the freezer, his formula in the cupboards, his cloths, and where he slept. It was completely humiliating. That said, It left me more alone than ever.

Going back to the night of the vision, with all this on my chest I held him in my arms crying feeling completely defeated and abandoned. I sat there rocking him back and forth and drifted off into a dream vision where I could see our space where we sat in the basement. The vision was what you might call a false awakening where everything was as it is in real life. I then noticed a woman in a picture frame across from me motion for me to come toward her. Thinking this might be someone who has come to help me I sat up a bit and tried to focus my sight beyond where she stood to see what she was drawing my attention to. In the distance I could see a man with a very large and heavy duffle bag over his shoulder. He had his back toward me and was walking away from me. His walk seemed to pull me with him. I quickly realized I was the man in the distance. I could sense his fatigue and the great pressure he was under.

In my sleep I was still rocking Oliver back and forth. As I rocked to and fro, in one direction and then the other my surrounding would change slightly. I perceived in front of me the path I walk and the choices I take. With every rock the path before me revealed the outcome of those choices. In my peripheral vision, I could see the steps coming down to the basement where we sat. On those steps would appear the shoes of the people who would walk upon them. If I moved right or left the position and number of shoes would change. I wondered who’s shoes these were. I could tell by the size that some of the shoes were those of children but there were multiple pairs of child shoes so who in addition to Oliver could these shoes belong to? There were also multiple pairs of adult shoes. Each pair of shoes uniquely identified one person. Even if one of the adult pair of shoes were those of a future partner of mine there were simply too many shoes. I also knew my shoes would not appear there since I stood in my shoes.

I also knew there is no way I could have another child given the difficulties I was having raising Oliver so there had to be another explanation. I had 9 remaining embryos after Oliver. Originally, I would have loved to have a second baby so that Oliver would not be alone after I’m gone. I thought maybe I needed to look further into my peripheral vision for clues about the shoes. I strained to look beyond the steps and into the closet where I could see the cloths that hung in the closet. I could see cloths hanging in the closet but nothing I saw clarified the shoes. I looked carefully and noticed a few items hanging in the closet that did not seem to belong to me or Oliver. Why would I not know our own cloths? I expected I should know all the cloths in my closet but there were a few new ones that did not seem to belong to me.

Not gaining much insight with the closet, I then looked to the hallway and the curtain which hung on the wall. In the design of the curtain I could see the children playing and the adults gathering at feasts. I could also see in the heavens reflected in the top of the curtain and those who watch over us.

Seeing the children play and the family gatherings, I knew I could not give up on Oliver. My niece’s word rang repeatedly in my head. I don’t think I could have ever given up on Oliver but it definitely crossed my mind as an option. It was then also that I knew I needed to pursue putting the remaining embryos up for adoption. These little snowflake babies were meant to come into the world and I needed to facilitate that process. I knew the Universe would send the perfect parents to adopt these snowflakes. I knew those snowflakes would visit someday and it would be their shoes and their parents shoes who would visit me. I knew we would all be family.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This dream became reality with our 1st Chosen Family Reunion on July 29th, 2022. Donating these embryos I had no idea what to expect. How soon would I see the children? How often would I see them? Would it only be in photographs? Would I need to wait until they were old enough to make their own decisions to be visit with Oliver and I? Would anyone even want my remaining embryos given my age and HIV status? What I did have was unwavering faith in my dreams. They have always guided me down my path. They have never guaranteed an easy road but they have never let me down.

I was shocked and I mean shocked when Jennifer offered one day to come visit us for a few days. I was also shocked when Miako offered to visit us on the anniversary of our initial visit, the day we first met in person. Given Jennifer, Kal and Simone were coming to visit I of course extended an opportunity for Miako, Kai and Linden to visit with us during that time. In the course of conversation about the visit, Miako mentioned that she would need to put Linden down for a nap but that she wanted to reengage with us to maximize the visit. That’s when I thought why not invite Miako to stay here at the house for the 3 days during Jennifer’s visit. I figured it didn’t hurt to ask. To my total and utter shock Miako said it was an awesome idea. I knew in that moment this dream which I have held close to my heart would be fulfilled and I needed to honor the dream by having them all walk down the steps to the basement and sharing the dream with them. I am a man with many stories and many dreams and when they intersect with life wonderful and amazing things happen.

I can’t say I understand every detail of my dreams many pieces remain mysteries that unfold in time. I am always left with a general sense of knowing that I am following the right path by aligning my life to my dreams. With this one I knew I would find the strength to make it through on that difficult night. For example the cloths in the closet I can’t say I understood that. But coincidentally after sharing all this with everyone, Jennifer gave Oliver and Linden each a pajama. I took the pajama which was on a hanger said thanks and proceeded to bring it downstairs to hang it in the closet. When the hanger touched the closet rod the sound of the hanger hitting the rod rang like chimes in heaven. There I was looking at the item of clothing in my dream that I was unfamiliar with. It was very much a deja-vu. I knew in that moment that I got this one right. I am on the right path and our lives are as they were meant to be.

Later after I had returned from dropping Jennifer and Kal off at the airport. Miako and Kai were still here at the house. We had breakfast together and before they left I thought about giving them some of Oliver’s old shoes, hand-me-downs for Linden to wear. I thought about the shoes on the stairs and I thought about the shoes that were in the entrance of my house where everyone had taken off their shoes to come inside. Removing your shoes is not a practice I do normally. It seemed to be another wink and nod from the Universe.

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