She is here!

Trying to become a parent to a living child has taken us on such a roller coaster of experiences and feelings over the years. Through the total of 6 years of infertility, 3 rounds of IVF, 6 embryo transfers, the miscarriage, and Grace Pearl… we have had more emotions than I thought a person could have.

And after all of those plans, and changes to those plans. and all of the time we spent adjusting and celebrating and hoping and hurting and mourning… this is a post that I feared I’d never, ever get to make. And hoped - so much - I’d get to.

I can’t believe that it’s taken me a month to make it, but to be honest, we’ve been soaking up every single moment of that month with our brand new baby girl. She’s a month old today.

She is here, and she’s everything. Everything we ever hoped for, dreamed of, and wished for. Everything we’ve worked for and waited for. Just everything. We love her so, so much.

Friends, meet Hannah.

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We named her Hannah as a tribute to her sister. Hannah means full of grace in Hebrew.

I can hardly believe she’s real, and ours, and how fast she’s already growing and changing.

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For once, additional words elude me. I am so, so happy. I love her so much.

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So we’ll be back. We’re not going anywhere. But as we deal with the intense stuff going on in the world around us, and everything we’ve been through and this new change, we also want to let it all wash over us and take a moment to celebrate and simply enjoy.

We want to take every available second to get to know Hannah, our little gift that we were never sure we’d get. This has been a long, long time coming.


Two Years Ago Today, We Had The Dance Party To Say Goodbye To Grace Pearl. Listen Here.

I posted nearly this exact same post a year ago today, and it feels appropriate to share it again this year. Two years ago today, we had to figure out how to say goodbye to our much anticipated, already deeply loved unborn daughter. Our abortion due to her diagnosis of Bilateral Multicystic Kidney disease (which is fatal) was scheduled for the next day, the day before Thanksgiving.

This year the anniversary hits on Thanksgiving. It’s our second year encountering the anniversary of these deeply sad and painful circumstances around a time focused on gratitude and thankfulness. The coincidence is at least becoming more and more bittersweet.

Medically, I spent much of this day 2 years ago recovering from the first medical procedure to prepare my body for the abortion. When you're 21 weeks pregnant, it's a two day procedure, and the first day you have seaweed sticks called laminarias placed in you cervix to start to dilate it for the dilation and evacuation scheduled the following day. In my shock, I had forgotten my doctor's advice to take 800 mg of Advil to prepare for it, and I remember feeling hesitant to do so once they offered it to me: I knew Advil wasn't good while pregnant and I still felt so protective of Grace. The procedure was excruciating: Jim held my hands and cried while I suffered through it, and I spent the remaining afternoon with a heating pad on my abdomen, laying on the couch. 

Around dinner time I felt well enough to go to the kitchen to eat some dinner with Jim, and asked him how he wanted to say goodbye to Grace: this was out last night with her. In memory of the beautiful way Jim suggested we spend this precious time with her, I have reposted his blog entry here: 

A Dance Party for Grace Pearl

Robin and I received the news of our daughter Grace Pearl's Multicystic Dysplastic Kidney Disease on Thursday, November 17 at approximately 1:45PM at the 21 week anatomy scan. The following days and nights were filled with grief, numbness and disbelief, all while looking for anything to distract or lighten our hearts. The previous six months had been spent thinking of what life was going to be like with our daughter, the endless opportunities and things we as parents were looking forward to sharing and experiencing with her. The reality now was that future together was going to be much shorter.

While finishing dinner at home on Tuesday, November 22, Robin (thankfully) brought up that this was our last night together with Grace. Robin gently asked if there anything I wanted to do or say to Grace before we said our final goodbye to her the next morning. The reality hit that instead of the lifetime of memories with Grace we anticipated we were getting a few more hours before the chance for new memories with her would be over. 

When faced with this reality the only thing that made sense for this situation was music. The love and appreciation of music has helped me more in life than anything else, making the great times more festive while being the greatest comforter during the hard times. So with our last few hours with Grace slipping away, the thing I wanted to do most with her was share music - something I had probably looked forward to doing with her more than anything else.  

I realized I wouldn't get the chance to spend an evening with Grace playing Public Enemy albums and explain how I learned more about American Black History from these records than I did in 17 years of public and private education. I wasn't getting the chance to spend a weekend afternoon playing her albums from my favorite early 90s Olympia, WA and Washington D.C. bands like Bikini Kill, Bratmobile and Slant 6. Bands who called out the patriarchy and challenged "liberated" men to do better while making some of the most exciting and memorable music that still sounds as important as it did 25+ years ago. I wasn't going to get the chance to go on a road trip with Grace and play Willie Nelson, Ornette Coleman, Stevie Wonder and John Fogerty albums for her, and tell her why I thought that there should be a "musical" Mt. Rushmore in America with their four faces on it celebrating these true American geniuses.

While it would've been easy (and earned) to put together a playlist that was filled with somber and serious music for these last hours together, I didn't want Grace's last hours to be about sadness,;we’d already spent the past four days fighting sadness. Instead of going for the Joy Division, Diamond Galas and Black Heart Procession records (which I figured I would be sharing with her during Grace's potentially morose teenage years), I wanted us three to celebrate the amazing time we did get to have with each other. The songs and artists chosen are ones that Robin and/or I loved and thought that our little girl would enjoy. The emphasis was songs that we hoped our little girl would gravitate to, simple pop songs that could be used as a foundation to discover her own musical taste and path in life. 

In rushing to put together this playlist that night I forgot a few songs that meant the world to me. Songs like Lulu “To Sir With Love”, Linda Ronstadt “You’re No Good” and The Ronettes “Be My Baby” were just a few of the major songs that were missed unfortunately.

The below are the songs we played on shuffle that evening. We danced for over an hour in our living room, late at night with only candles lighting our dance floor. Robin gently patted along to the rhythm on her baby bump and we replaced lyrics in several songs to be Grace Pearl. Some of the songs were key selections from our wedding, some we knew would be irresistible to a little girl, and lastly I wanted to make sure that she got to experience three songs with my favorite drummer all time Al Jackson Jr. behind the drums.

Robin had been told to bring headphones with her to the procedure the next day, for reasons we didn't really stop to think about while we fumbled through our shock and grief. She ended up not being put under the the procedure, and was advised to listen to music while Grace left us. She put on this playlist, and remembers listening to Born To Run, Superstitious, Let's Spend the Night Together and Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay. It brought both of us comfort to think that Grace's last moments were spent listening to music through her mother's body.

You can listen to the playlist here, and see the list of songs below:


Grace's Dance Party Playlist

The Beach Boys - God Only Knows

The Beatles - Twist And Shout

The Bee Gees - Stayin' Alive

Blondie - Atomic

Chuck Berry - You Never Can Tell

Sam Cooke - Nothing Can Change This Love

The Doobie Brothers - What A Fool Believes

Earth, Wind & Fire – September

Fleetwood Mac - Go Your Own Way

The Four Tops - I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)

Marvin Gaye - Got To Give It Up, Part 1(Single Version)

Al Green - I'm Still In Love With You

Al Green - Let's Stay Together 

The Hollies - Bus Stop

Michael Jackson - Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough (Single Version)

The Jackson 5 - ABC

KC & The Sunshine Band - Get Down Tonight (Single Version)

Kenny Loggins - Footloose

Little River Band - Lady

MFSB - T.S.O.P. (The Sound Of Philadelphia)

Olivia Newton-John/John Travolta - You're The One That I Want

The O'Jays - Love Train

Otis Redding - (Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay

The Rolling Stones - Let's Spend The Night Together

The Rolling Stones - Brown Sugar

Bruce Springsteen - Born To Run 

Warpaint - New Song

Stevie Wonder - I Was Made To Love Her

Stevie Wonder – Superstition

Neil Young – Harvest Moon

Our Plea: If You Have Been Touched by our Story, Please Vote!

We share our story for a variety of reasons, including to show how we were ensnared by the Missouri abortion laws, and in the hopes that we can encourage people to vote with us to change them and preserve our reproductive rights.

I am featured as part of the #IVoteBecause campaign, photo by the amazing Janette Beckman

I am featured as part of the #IVoteBecause campaign, photo by the amazing Janette Beckman

If you are a person that is a proponent of Reproductive Rights, thank you so much, and I ask that you please vote in every election. We were impacted so much more by our local legislators than our federal ones - it was the local lawmakers that created the 72-hour waiting period, the deadline and all of the consents. Every single election really matters. All of these things are state laws, not federal laws.

Additionally, we can't insist on perfect candidates. For instance, where I live, Claire McCaskill is up against Josh Hawley for Senator. There are reasonable concerns around McCaskill, however she has a solid record on Reproductive Rights, and Hawley wants to diminish our Reproductive Rights even further. When I think about it that way, voting for McCaskill is easy for me.

If, on the other hand, you are against abortion (and if so, thank you so much for lending me your mind and heart and considering my perspective!) and are not in the habit of voting for candidates that protect Reproductive Rights, I just want to share three facts with you that relate to how these laws impacted me (that were not shared in my story).

1). There are rarely exceptions in the laws for situations like Grace's. If you feel like abortions okay in our situation but not others (this is a really common feeling that is shared with us), know that exceptions don't exist that way. Occasionally laws are written with exception for rape, incest, and health of the mother (though I see against laws that have no such exceptions in them all the time), but very rarely do laws include exceptions for fetal anomalies. In fact, the deadline to get an abortion in the state of Missouri shows a complete misunderstanding about when fetal anomalies present themselves - by the time you find out your unborn child is sick it may be too late to do anything about it. We had our procedure one day before we legally couldn't in the state of Missouri anymore and we had to act very fast to make that happen. Our laws do not consider the realities of what women face in pregnancies. If there is one thing I've learned in this process, it's that we have really crappy laws around reproductive rights that don't fit every situation fairly, and worse, we are electing politicians that have no interest in doing better. I have testified numerous times about bills like these and they don't even pay attention to me. I want better politicians/lawmakers and better laws, and I hope that our story has left you wanting the same things.

2). Our doctors were not wrong. I hear this a lot. "Doctors aren't always right." We had eight doctors and a pathology report confirm that Graces diagnosis was accurate and that she would have indeed passed away in agony. They were not wrong. We can't make laws assuming our doctors are going to give us the wrong information.

3). You voting for a politician or law that protects Reproductive Rights does not mean you ever in your life have to get an abortion, or even that you think it's right. It just means that you respect that what you would do shouldn't dictate what other people are legally allowed to do. I would never, ever insist that another family facing the decision we did should have to abort the pregnancy - it would be wrong of me to say that. I just want the same right to make the best choices for my family that you do for yours. 

I implore you to vote, in every election, and to vote for people that will work to protect all of our rights. It's about letting a mother do what's best for her very wanted unborn daughter. It’s about humanity, dignity, and the ability to make the best decisions for ourselves and our families.

You can see my voter guide (for Missouri) here.

Our Story Will Be On The Moth Podcast Tomorrow (11/2/18)

I am thrilled to announce that my Moth story from the 10/18/18 show in Boston will be part of the November 2nd podcast (this coming Friday).

I will share the link again when it is released on Friday, but for people that aren’t already subscribers, you can learn more about the podcast and where to subscribe here:

Jim and me at the Wilbur after The Moth show in Boston, MA on 10/18/18.

Jim and me at the Wilbur after The Moth show in Boston, MA on 10/18/18.

Sharing our story on The Moth was truly an honor for me.

I feel so urgently and strongly about sharing the reality of what has faced Jim and me (as well as so many others that do not have the ability to share so publicly for a variety of reasons).


It’s been a privilege to share Grace’s story, and I’m so appreciative to The Moth for the opportunity, and to Boston for the warm reception.


I hope you’ll listen.



A Midterms Voting Guide with Grace Pearl In Mind

Photo by  Parker Johnson  on  Unsplash

I have pulled together a voter guide for the upcoming midterms on November 6, 2018 that would focus on candidates and issues that would allow us the best possible rights to make the choice we did with Grace Pearl. I am focusing in Missouri because that is where I am most familiar with the candidates and issues, but for wherever you are, I ask that you take reproductive rights into account when choosing a candidate, and how much the individual will do to protect rights of families like mine.

People run into situations like mine every day, in every state. We deserve to be able to make the best choices for ourselves and our families without undue burden in terms of cost, geographical restriction, and time frame. If you vote for a candidate that is against reproductive rights, know you are voting to hurt babies like Grace and women and men like myself and Jim. There’s no way around that.

I’ll take this chance to say we also deserve honest, comprehensive medical care, not places that will blatantly lie to us like Crisis Pregnancy Centers. Please learn more about them here.

Important Voting Information:

The Missouri ballot is huge for the midterms, so I will only be listing out the things I’m best educated on, and then resources for the other issues.

✔️ Polling places will be open from 6 am until 7 pm
✔️ If you are unsure of your polling place, you can look it up here: https://bit.ly/2fg5NRR
✔️ You will be required to show a form of ID at the polls. See acceptable forms of ID here: https://bit.ly/2OdbZba

DO NOT LEAVE A POLLING PLACE WITHOUT VOTING —call this non partisan election hotline (1-866-OUR-VOTE) if you have any voting issues.

Now to the voter guide resources:

I’m going to go over my own personal recommendations, where I have them, in the next section. However I just don’t know enough about every issue to make an educated assessment, especially when the ballot is this long. So here’s what I do/resources I use:

  • The League of Women Voters has a great resource at vote411.org. You type in your address & get a personalized ballot with info on each candidate/issue. I go through this list and select each item, and print it off at the end to take with me to vote. PRINT IT OFF OR WRITE IT DOWN in case you can’t look at your phone while voting. Many places ban phones in the polling area.

  • For issues where I do not have an established opinion yet, I have trusted sources I use. They include:

    • ProgressWomen - Representative Stacey Newman puts a LOT of effort into her recommendations, and I value her opinion. She has also covered all Missouri AND county propositions, so this is a comprehensive resource.

    • Planned Parenthood MO voting guide - Planned Parenthood has protections of reproductive rights at top of mind, and this voting guide is consistent with that.

    • NARAL voting guide - they likewise carefully vet for pro-choice candidates and issues.

  • You can see the Missouri Bar recommendations for each judge on the ballot on vote411 while you’re selecting the rest of your ballot. It will tell you each judge and their recommendation, and you can research more from there. There are a few that are not recommended for retention.

My Personal Recommendations/Endorsements:

  • US Senator: Claire McCaskill. I am with many people in feeling that I wish McCaskill were different in some ways, but she has a solid voting record in terms of reproductive rights, and that means a lot to me. Additionally, I am terrified of what electing Josh Hawley would do to all sorts of social rights, including reproductive rights, and he is currently promising that pre-existing conditions will be protected as part of healthcare while entering Missouri into a lawsuit to undo the Affordable Care Act (which would undo the protections of pre-existing conditions). He’s blatantly lying to us.

  • U.S. Representative, District 2: Cort VanOstran. I actually am not able to vote for Cort as I am not in his district, but I have still spend many volunteer hours pushing out awareness around him and encouraging people to vote for him because his incumbent oppoent, Ann Wagner, is THAT BAD. She’s pro-life all the way down the line, and would absolutely vote to hurt Grace, Jim and myself. Cort is endorsed by NARAL and Planned Parenthood Action Fund, which goes a long way with me. These organizations support our right to make the choice we did, and fight for laws that protect us.

  • State Auditor: Nicole Galloway. I saw Nicole speak at an event and was very impressed by her. She has done this job since 2015 and has done an outstanding job, as reiterated by the St. Louis Post Dispatch.

  • State Representative, District 91: If you are in Sarah Unsicker’s district, I recommend her as a representative that is on the Children and Families House Committee and has fought for reproductive Rights

  • State Representative, District 80: If you are Peter Meredith’s district, I recommend voting for him. I find him to be thoughtful, transparent, hard fighting and compassionate. He was hoping to propose a bill last year that would include infertility treatments in insurance coverage, which would be transformative for families like mine.

  • Amendment #1 (aka CLEAN MISSOURI) = VOTE YES. I have personally worked on this campaign because I believe SO STRONGLY in it. It bans lobbyist gifts to General Assembly, requires open legislative records, lowers campaign contributions & limits committee donations, requires 2 year lobbyist waiting periods and ensures a non-partisan district map process (aka, limits gerrymandering, making sure our votes matter more). This is super important. VOTE YES. If you vote for nothing else, vote for this one. But vote for everything.  More info at CleanMissouri.org 

  • YES on Proposition B – Increases the Minimum Wage to $12 by 2023. St. Louis Post Dispatch endorsement HERE. There are a lot of reasons that I agree with this, but in terms of reproductive rights, if you’re not aware, the Hyde Amendment prevents abortions from being covered by federal funds. If we want women to be able to exercise their reproductive rights asap in an unwanted pregnancy, they have to have the funds to do so. Economic equality is very important to me.

These are the issues that I am most comfortable making endorsements on, and I’m always learning more so if you feel I’m wrong about any of them, please reach out!

The Moth Mainstage at the Wilbur in Boston - 10/18/18

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I will be sharing my story as part of The Moth Mainstage event tomorrow evening (Thursday, October 18th) at the Wilbur Theater in Boston, MA. Tickets are sold out, but if you’re there, send me a hug! This will be my first time sharing in front of so many people and I’m nervous, but grateful for the opportunity to share our story.

I’ll tweet as much as I can about it too!