Month: June 2014

Our First Adoption

adoption

So I’m that guy who woke up one morning with no idea that in 13 hours, he and his wife would be walking out of a room with their newly adopted son.

We had been “paper pregnant” for almost two years. In adoption vocabulary, that means that we had gone through the home study and approval process with an adoption agency and were waiting for the right situation to come along and to be selected by a birthmother to have a baby placed in our home. The major difference between paper pregnancy and normal pregnancy is that the latter has a definite end date. We were losing hope as the situation dragged on.

We were currently working with a faith-based agency and we decided that our chances might be better if we went forward with a private adoption agency that a friend had used. The private agency was substantially more expensive, but they did not collect fees until the placement was in process, so this didn’t seem like a huge obstacle when we signed up.

It took a few weeks to sign up and be approved by the new agency, but soon we had a second “paper pregnancy.” We were used to the notion that nothing happened quickly in the world of adoption, so we were stunned when we received a call from the private adoption agency a little over two weeks later.

I remember the events of the day so clearly and vividly, even four years later as I am writing this. It was about 1 o’clock in the afternoon and we were driving close to home when the adoption worker called me. I pulled into a parking lot to focus on the call. She said, “We have a birthmother with a 3-week-old baby boy. She will be here in about an hour and I would like to know if you would be fine with us showing her your profile.”

“Of course, that would be great,” I said. She told us a little more about the situation and explained the financial obligations associated with it, and the phone call was over.

My wife and I were very excited. We faced other possible adoptions previously, so we were cautious about getting our hopes up for fear of building up to a letdown, but this felt different and exciting.

We went about our day and at 3 o’clock, my phone rang again. It was the adoption worker again. “We showed your profile to the birthmother,” she said, “and she loves you guys. She would like to meet you. How soon can you come in? By the way, if this works out you will need to be able to stay in town for 1 to 2 weeks while you wait for the states to finish up necessary paperwork.”

We live about 3 hours from the adoption agency’s office, so we told them we would be there at 7 o’clock that night. And the whirlwind began. We had 30 to 45 minutes to prepare our 5-year-old daughter and ourselves for a trip that would last at least a week. I went to work and tried to tie up all my loose ends there while my wife frantically packed bags for everyone. She also prepared for the event that we did adopt the baby and would need to care for him through that time period.

We were on the road in 45 minutes. The trip was filled with “what if” conversations. The most common centered around the question “What if this doesn’t work out?” But we also dwelt on the hopes and scenarios that would play out if it did work.

We arrived at the adoption agency’s office just after 7:00 that night. The adoption worker sat down with us and we spoke a little about the situation. She said that the birthmother wanted to wait to meet with us for about an hour so she could have some more time to say goodbye to the baby.

This brought about a whole new round of issues. We had packed and driven 3 hours with the thoughts that we would meet the birth mom that night and hoped that within the next few days we would get the baby. But with this new wrinkle, we were going to receive the baby in an hour. We had not been able to round up all the baby supplies we needed, so we took that hour to go to Target and pick up what we needed to take care of him through the night.

At 8 o’clock, we met the with the adoption worker again. It all seemed surreal as they walked us down the hall to the room where we would meet our baby for the first time. We walked into the room and there they were.

Our son’s birthmother was holding him and rose to meet us as we came in the door. She was a beautiful young woman. We sat down near her, and we began to talk. After a few moments, she asked my wife if she would like to hold the baby. That moment of her placing Max into my wife’s arms is burned into my memory. For the last 3 years I had been by my wife’s side through the tragedy of a miscarriage only to be followed by the hopelessness of infertility. I had tried to console her through the difficult times, but I felt powerless to take that pain from her. As I watched Max being placed into her arms, all that pain went away and I will never forget that moment.

We continued our conversations for another 15 minutes. We talked about the baby and how he had been developing over the last 3 weeks of his new life. We talked about what our communication would look like as we maintained a connection with the birth mother. The connection would be as much for her as it would be for him. The time went so fast, and when the social worker said it was time to go, we were shocked back to the reality of the situation.

My wife handed the baby back to the birthmother. She held him tightly as she stood bouncing him gently. Her heart was breaking as the moment had arrived that she had to say goodbye. She gave him one last hug, kissed him on the forehead and said to him, “Goodbye, little man. I love you.” My heart broke for her as I realized that this amazing experience that we were having was at the same time the most difficult thing she would ever do.

Then she placed the baby into my wife’s arms for the second time. This moment was so emotionally overwhelming. It was an act of pure love by the birthmother to place this beautiful baby into our arms, trusting that we would give him the life she dreamed he would have. For us, it was the end of a journey to grow our family through adoption. It had been a long, difficult time in our lives. That very morning we had woken with no idea that at the end of the day we would be holding our new son.

Words cannot describe how grateful we are to this young birthmother. This experience has continued to fill our lives with joy and happiness, and we will always be thankful. Looking back on it now, I know it couldn’t have been any more perfect. Every trial along our journey had prepared and directed us to the moment when our son was placed in our arms.

The Birth of “That Guy”

Insomnia. Man counting sheep. Cartoon illustration.

So I’m that guy who woke up at 3 a.m. and could not get back to sleep because of an idea to share thoughts, dreams, strengths, weaknesses, accomplishments and embarrassments to hopefully help others realize that we really are a lot alike.

 

A few weeks ago, I woke up in the night with my 3 month old daughter. After the late night feeding I laid down to try and get some more sleep. It was 3 a.m. and I needed to wake up at 5 that morning, but a thought came into my mind that would not leave me alone.  There is nothing worse than waking up too early and having your mind racing, telling yourself you have to get back to sleep or the next day you will be too tired to do anything while at the same time not being able to turn off the thoughts you are having.

Lying there in bed, my mind would not stop going over and over this thought. At 3:45 I got out of bed to do something about it.

The thoughts revolved around me starting a blog. My wife had talked to me several times about putting my experiences into writing. I had always felt overwhelmed at the thought of chronologically documenting my life and trying to convey the events, thoughts and emotions that have combined to make up who I am. Because the task has always felt so daunting, I have never acted on the promptings to begin the journey.

That morning, the thought that would not let go, revolved around the notion that I would not have to take the project on as a chronological documentary of my life experiences. Instead I would focus on a moment of emotion or realization and I would then try and explain the events that had brought me to that moment, and how it has brought me to where I am today.

That thought was so powerful to me at 3 a.m. that I got out of bed and began to write. I thought and wrote for over two hours. That is the moment that “So I’m that Guy,” was born. It felt like the perfect way to take a moment of realization when time stands still and convey the circumstances surrounding it.

I liked the way it felt, because I don’t consider myself to be anything special. I am just “That Guy.” I could be any guy, because we all have had similar experiences. I think we have these experiences to learn from them and ultimately to help others. I want to have a way to share the highs and the lows, the good and the bad. The times I feel like I am on top of the world, and the times that I wish I could hid under a rock. By sharing this, I hope that others can learn from my experiences and find hope that even when things don’t go according to what we have planned, life can surprise us.

I have found that when things don’t go according to my plans, many times they turn out better than I ever could have imagined. Many people are like me in that they try to control every aspect of their lives, only to find that it is impossible to force the outcomes we think we need. I am trying to look at life as an opportunity for improvisation, to take the circumstances and challenges that otherwise could trip us up and turning them into stepping stones to a happier, more fulfilling life.

Miscarriage: Take One

So I’m that guy, sitting in the room with an ultrasound tech and his wife, anxiously looking for a heartbeat.

 

Kinderzimmer mit Wiege für Baby

 

This was our second pregnancy. Our daughter was 2 ½ years old. We had been trying for about 6 months to get pregnant, so we were excited when we found out we had become pregnant again. My wife was dealing with worse morning sickness than she had experienced before but there were really no other worries at that point. In the past everything had always gone perfectly normal throughout the pregnancy and we had no reason to expect anything different.

At about 11 weeks we went in for the first prenatal visit with our OBGYN. She was unable to locate a heartbeat with the Doppler so she scheduled for my wife to have an ultrasound the next day to measure the development of the baby.  We went to the ultrasound appointment really feeling like everything was fine. As the tech took more and more time, and we did not hear that tell-tale rhythmical beating of a baby’s heartbeat, we were more and more concerned.

The ultrasound tech, not knowing how to handle the situation, excused herself and went to get her supervisor. He came in and spent some time trying to find the heartbeat with no success.  At this point we knew that something was wrong, but we were still not prepared for what came next. He said to us, “I am sorry, but there is no heartbeat.”  He continued to explain that the baby had stopped developing at about 6-7 weeks into the pregnancy. I don’t remember anything that was said after that, as he left the room, I tried to process the situation we were in.

Taken by surprise, we really did not know how to react to this news. Time stopped for a moment with my wife still on the exam table and I was standing next to her.  She sat up, we hugged, and tears flowed as we realized our hopes for this new pregnancy were over. We knew these things happen, but we never expected it to happen to us.

The rest of the day is a blur. We went to the doctor again and she advised us to have a D&C rather than waiting for the pregnancy to end on its own.  We spent the rest of that day in the hospital and at home as my wife recovered from the surgery.

This was one of those experiences that kicks you in the teeth and makes you realize bad things really can happen, just that easily. I struggled with at the time, and still have the “what if” thoughts that naturally occur with such a loss.  It was probably the first real tragic event that had occurred in my life and it took me time to work through it.

As hard as it was for me, I think it was probably 10 times worse for my wife to deal with. When my wife finds out she is pregnant, she immediately plans the next year of her life. I think a mother has an instant bond to the baby as soon as the test comes out positive. That is what kept her going as she suffered through two months of morning sickness, and all the other difficulties associated with the first trimester of the pregnancy.

What hurt me most was watching that bond taken from her. It seemed like there were reminders every day.  Someone was always announcing they were pregnant.  There were friends and  family members who were pregnant and had babies when ours should have been born. Even to this day there are reminders of that horrible day when everything fell apart. If I had the power to take that pain from her, I would do it in a heartbeat.

It was impossible to understand at the time, but looking back at that tragedy in our lives, we can see that it was a pivotal turning point in our lives. It was not the end of the struggles and difficulty.  In fact it was the beginning of an ongoing battle with infertility that has not allowed us to have any more biological children.  But had it not been for that first step, we never would have started down the path to adopt the three beautiful children that have filled our home since that day.

Father and Son Outing

So I’m that guy, mostly enjoying every minute of his Son’s first Fathers and Sons camping trip, realizing that his family is a miracle.

Camping

My family has this tradition. In the beginning of the summer, our church has what are called “Father and Sons camp outs”. I have memories of these events from the age of about five years old. In Idaho, the first part of the summer can either be a little hot or very cold and most of my memories involve the very cold.

One year, I think I was about eight years old. I woke up in our tent at midnight with a fever. It was raining outside and very cold. My Dad ended up leaving my brother with a friend and driving me home in the rain. I remember the trip home with the heater on high the whole way. I remember it being a great feeling to be warm again.

I have memories of sitting around the campfires, listening to stories. Whether they were funny or scary, I liked them all. The food was always good, and there were always friends to play with.

I have memories of many motorcycle rides on these outings. Large groups of friends and neighbors exploring the local mountain trails and having a good time.

All in all, some of my favorite memories came from these trips with my Dad and brothers. I have always looked forward to the day when I could bring my own son on a Father and Sons campout. Many years, as my wife and I struggled with infertility, this was one of my perceived losses.

The day finally arrived, last week I was able to take my four year old son on the camping trip. Although, for us it is not really a “camping trip,” we would rather spend the night in a warm hotel room. Remember, all my negative memories of the trips involved the actual camping aspect. There is a hotel near the usual site for the outing, so we opted to enjoy all the parts we like and sleep in a comfortable, warm room.

Four years old is too young to recognize the grandeur that is, “The great outdoors.” Max wasn’t very impressed at first and went into a wailing fit when he accidentally stepped in water and got his shoes wet. I watched as the other boys, who were obviously “farm kids,” ran around in their cowboy boots, wranglers, and snap front western shirts, running circles around my boy. They would fall down and bounce back up ready to do it all again. Then there was my boy, who wearing the Crocs his mom had bought him, was obviously at a disadvantage. Although he loves to run and play, he can be a little sensitive to impacts with the ground and does not tend to react with the same enthusiasm the other boys had when they fell. I was also a little conscious of the fact that I was the only father watching the pack of boys as they ran to and from each point of interest.

After about two hours of running, jumping, fishing, sliding, falling, and playing, my son had had enough. It was an hour past his dinner time and the food would not be ready anytime soon. He was grumpy and tired and not in the mood to wait around for dinner. Once again I decided to forgo tradition. I loaded him and his 8 year old cousin into the truck and drove 5 miles to a roadside pizza restaurant.

It was one of the high points of the trip, as I sat across the table with them eating pizza. We talked and joked around and had a great time. The pizza and soda pops did the trick. After a few minutes everyone was in a better mood and ready to go back to the campsite and finish out the evening.

That night in the hotel room my son could not stop talking, he was so excited to be “camping.” He finally talked himself to sleep and I was able to get some sleep too.

When I woke up in the morning, I had a few minutes to just look at him before he woke up. His face was so perfect and peaceful. I thought about how five years ago I had no hope of ever having a son to take on the Fathers and Sons outing. After dealing with infertility and spending so much time waiting for an adoption opportunity, it seemed hopeless that we would be able to grow our family. But there he was, quietly sleeping next to me. He is truly a miracle.

It was at that moment I came to a conclusion. Even though these outings don’t always turn out the way we think they should, the important part is spending time one on one with these kids. The rest of the day was cold and we went home early, but it was a great experience for my son. It was his first of many memories to come through spending time with his dad. I can’t wait for the next one.

My Firstborn

So I’m that guy, staring into the huge eyes of his newborn daughter, oblivious to the ways she will change his life for the better.

girl shoes

 

I had known the day was coming for the previous nine months, but I don’t think that time prepared me for the significance of the birth of my first child. My wife and I had been married for a year when we found out we were expecting.  We hadn’t made any specific plans to get pregnant, but we had stopped preventing for a short period of time.  Looking back on the ease of getting pregnant from our current reality of infertility, it almost seems like another life.

We found out shortly before our first anniversary. We had been planning a trip to Jackson Hole Wyoming to celebrate our first year together and we chose to go through with it.  On that trip I made the realization that pregnancy tests are evil.  Everything can be totally fine, there are a few symptoms of pregnancy that nudge a couple towards a pregnancy test, but I am convinced that once she takes that test and it is positive, it becomes the catalyst for “Morning Sickness,” or as in our case, “All Day Sickness.” Needless to say, the trip to Jackson would have been better had we not taken the test.

The pregnancy progressed normally and all went well for the nine months leading up to the birth of our daughter.  Another miracle, as we have not achieved a healthy nine month pregnancy since.

It started when my wife was already a week overdue. The contractions hit slowly one evening and by 1 a.m. the next morning, we felt they were close enough to make the trip to the hospital.  We had a 30 minute trip to the hospital, as we walked out the door I joked, “Wouldn’t it be funny if we got pulled over on the way to the hospital?”  The state highway was almost empty as I went from a 55 mph zone to a 45 mph zone.  I left the car at 55 mph and sure enough the only other car on the road was driven by a Sherriff deputy.

He pulled me over and came to the car window. I said, “Officer, I’m sure you probably get this a lot, but my wife is in labor and we are trying to get to the hospital.”

The officer shined the light into the car and onto my wife’s pregnant belly. He said, “Well okay, I am going to let you go this time, but it won’t do you any good to rush to the hospital if you never make it.”  I was disappointed there was no offer of a police escort, but glad there was no added cost to the late night trip.

We did make it to the hospital safely and after checking my wife, they said she was not close enough and sent us home again to let things continue to progress. A few hours later we went back in and once again they said it would be a little longer and sent us home.  Finally, about 24 hours after the contractions had begun; we were admitted to the delivery room to have the baby.

Once my wife was able to get the epidural, the pain was much more manageable. We both slept for a few hours and were woken up at about 1 a.m. when it was time for her to push.  It was a slow process, and the umbilical cord was apparently wrapped around my daughter’s neck, because every time she pushed her heart rate would drop drastically.  After 2 hours of pushing the doctor’s decided to use forceps and they were able to pull her out.

That moment, when I saw my daughter for the first time, is etched into my memory. It was a beautiful moment and very scary.  I saw her in the doctor’s arms and she was struggling to breath.  Her chest was contorting and she was making efforts to breath but she couldn’t get the air to her lungs.  For those 30 seconds, that seemed like a lifetime, the doctor and nurses set her in the warming crib and worked at clearing her airway.  Finally, there was a cry. She was breathing and everything was okay again.

After cleaning her up they put her in my arms. Her eyes were wide open and she stared at me through her huge blue eyes. I can’t put the happiness I felt at that moment into words, but it was one of the best of my life.

I cannot finish this post without saying how amazing my wife is. She is the one who had gone through 9 months of pregnancy and 33 hours of labor to give our daughter life. I love you babe.

Looking back, almost ten years later, I am still amazed at the miracle that happened that day. She is now a beautiful young woman who has changed my life for the better. I am proud to be her father.

Awkward Infertile Moment

So I’m that guy, standing at the front desk of a women’s clinic with his sperm sample in outstretched hand trying to explain why he really is in the right place.

specimen cup

 

I believe that people struggling with infertility are some of the most mistreated people in our society. When stricken with the ailment, through no fault of their own, they somehow lose all rights to privacy and dignity. We have what is called secondary infertility. We were able to have a biological daughter, but following a miscarriage we were unable to get pregnant again

When my wife and I were first diagnosed as “possibly infertile,” she was put through a battery of invasive, painful procedures that according to the doctors had very little chance of having any positive result. To add insult to injury, the cost of the procedures was very high as our insurance would not cover any of these procedures.

This is what I like to call “The Infertility Rollercoaster.” We would save our money for a few months for new treatments. We would go to the new doctor that we were referred to after the last one concluded that we needed a more specialized physician. We would be given hope in the procedure and the steps they told us they were going through in order for this to be a successful attempt. My wife would get the shots and pills for the preparation for ovulation. Then we would go in for an IUI (Intrauterine Insemination), and the waiting game began. Two weeks later, we could not stand the suspense anymore so we would purchase a pregnancy test. Every test was a crushing reminder of our powerlessness in the situation, but we gathered ourselves back up and rode that rollercoaster several times.

So on one such occasion, we were finally at the day to perform an IUI. We had to go to a clinic in a town about 30 minutes from our home, so time was of the essence. We collected my “sample” at home and hit the road. We were told that it would be best to hold the sample under my armpit until we reached the clinic in order to keep it warm and alive until they were able to process it and to get it to them as soon as possible, so when we arrived at the clinic we knew time was running out.

I got out of the car, with the sample under my arm and walked into the lobby of the Women’s clinic. For some reason, I had been nervously anticipating this exact moment for weeks now. At the front desk there were three receptionists watching me as I entered the front door. I went to the desk and reached out my hand with the cup that contained my still warm sample. The looks on their faces were not encouraging. One woman said to me,” You must me in the wrong place.”

Those were not the words I had hoped to hear at that moment. I asked if this was the clinic we were scheduled to have our procedure in. The ah-ha moment came as one of the receptionists explained that their company actually had two clinics, and that the one we were looking for was on the other side of town, about 15 minutes away.

I got back in the car with my wife and as we drove to the other clinic we could not help but laugh the whole way there as we thought about the ridiculousness of the whole situation we were experiencing. Sometimes, the only way to make these things bearable is to laugh.

Long story short, that IUI, with the shots and visits leading up to it, cost us about $800 plus the negative pregnancy test that we had a few weeks later. That was a dark period in our lives. Thankfully, we had a beautiful 4 year old daughter to soften the blows that came with each failed attempt at growing our family.

Looking back and knowing that the difficult, humiliating, invasive, painful experiences we had with infertility, pushed us towards adopting 3 more amazing children, I would do it all over again. It helped us open our hearts to adoption and prepared us for the challenges we would face throughout the adoption process.

My thoughts on birth mothers

So I’m that guy, who after adopting three children from the same birthmother, respects and appreciates the strength and sacrifice it took for her the give them and us a gift beyond measure.

content

First, to be clear, as a man and a father I can’t and won’t ever fully understand the bond that is created between mother and baby during those first nine months of a child’s development. In the same respect, I, as an adoptive father, will never fully know the struggles that a mother goes through in placing her child for adoption. With that being said, after adopting three children from the same birthmother, I feel like I do have a unique perspective to share about our experience that I hope can help people.

We get many different types of reactions when we tell our story of adoption. We know it’s unique and that it interests people, but it is amazing to hear the variety of reactions from people. When we explain that we have three adopted children who are half siblings, I can only imagine the thoughts that go through people’s heads. I am given insight when sometimes they choose to share those thoughts.

I believe the appropriate response is, “Wow that is amazing. What a blessing to you and your family.” That truly is the response of many people and it gives us the opportunity to explain all the ways our family has been blessed through this process.

Other responses that we get are somewhat different. I cannot say they are bad or wrong, because if I were in their shoes, I would possibly react in the same way.

Here are some samples of things other have said that have caused me to write this article. “Does she do this to make a living?” “How many more will she have?” “Those kids are so lucky.” “Will you adopt another child if she has one?” I think my personal favorite is, “Does she know where babies come from?” The one I dislike the most is, “How can she give a baby up for adoption?”

I will address the worst one first. A birth mom does not “give a baby up for adoption.” A birth mom CHOOSES to “place a baby for adoption.” This small change in wording speaks volumes. The choice our birth mom made has had a tremendous impact on our lives and the lives of our children. It breaks my heart to know that our happiness and the future of these children have come at such a great personal price to her.

When people say, “Those kids are so lucky,” I can’t help but think that we are so lucky. Infertility was a dark period in our lives. After having a biological daughter and wanting to have more children, we felt completely powerless to grow our family. We are lucky to have three more beautiful children in our home.

When people say, “Does she make a living with this?” I think, “That sure would be a hard way to make money.” Ask any mother what the most difficult experience she has had in life, and without fail in the top responses you will find, “giving birth.” Couple that with the added emotional pain of knowing that you will not be able to care for that baby throughout its life and you have a very traumatic experience. How much should a person be paid for that? We all know that adoption is expensive, but at best the birth mother will have a period of time where an agency or adoptive family will help with living expenses and medical costs. In some cases there is a small amount of money available to help her get back on her feet after the delivery. But in reality, the bulk of adoption expenses go to pay the lawyers, adoption agencies, and doctors. The answer to the question above, based on our experience is, “no she does not make a living as a birth mother.”

When people have asked us, “Will you adopt another baby if she has one?” it always makes us think. In our mind we do not expect that she will have another baby to place with our family. But we thought the same thing after the first and after the second. We cannot look at either of them and say there was not a doubt in our mind that they were meant to be in our family. We had a strong feeling to move forward with each adoption. We also feel strongly about keeping them together as much as possible. The answer to that question is, “Of course we would adopt another baby if we were in the situation and felt that same feeling prompting us to do it.” Our true hope is that if or when our birthmother does have another one, she has pulled her life together to be able to raise that baby in a secure home and enjoy the blessings of having a child.

Finally we have arrived at my favorite question. “Does she know where babies come from?” Surprisingly I have heard this one multiple times. I am pretty sure that the answer to this question is, “Yes. Yes she does know where babies come from.”
The birth mother of our children is the one of the strongest people I know. She loves these children so much and sacrificed her own feelings to place them in a situation where they could thrive. She grew up in very difficult circumstances and instead of continuing the pattern with her children, she broke the cycle and gave them a different future. I have tremendous respect for her resolve to do that.

As the adoptive father, her sacrifice leaves me in awe. I feel a great responsibility to guide these children toward the life that she dreamed they would have. I pray every day that the faith she had in me and my family is rewarded as she watches these children grow.

When she put our first boy into my wife’s arms, simultaneously her heart was breaking and ours were being filled. At the same time our hearts broke for her. Adoption brings about a flood of different emotions, and it is far from easy for either party. I hope my story conveys my respect for birth mothers. As I stated to begin with, I don’t pretend to know how they feel when faced with such a difficult experience. But I can say that their sacrifice changes lives for generations to come.

So I’m That Guy

So I’m that guy, standing in an icy ski resort parking lot wondering how his truck is now 70’ from where he parked it and now attached to a school bus.

 

Ski, winter season , mountains and ski equipments

So the day started out pretty okay. I was taking my daughter to her ski lessons at the local ski resort and I was going to get to ski in my brand new boots I bought myself for my birthday a few days earlier. It was a warm day and was raining a little.

We got to the hill, and I began my job as the designated pack mule hauling all my daughter’s gear and accessories up a slick parking lot to the lodge. After I got her all situated with her class, I was able to get myself ready.

I buckled into my new boots, amazed at how perfect they felt. At the lift line I went to click into my ski bindings, but no click. The boots were smaller than my previous pair so the bindings were not adjusted correctly.

To make a long story short, 30 minutes later I exited the ski rental shop with a pair of boots from the previous century that were 2 sizes too big. I was devastated, but determined to make the most of the ticket I had bought to ski that day.

I clicked into my bindings and scooted my way to the lift to head up the mountain. As it came my turn, I glanced at the lift operator’s station and there was a small dry erase board that read, “If you are the owner of a blue GMC Sierra, with the license plate number ****** please come to the office.” I looked at it once and turned away, then it started registering that I did drive a blue Sierra. Of course I don’t know my own license plate number, but it looked likely to be mine. So rather than starting my way up the hill, I pulled out of the line at the last minute to check things out.

I released my bindings and started walking toward the parking lot. With the old, ill-fitting boots, the walk was very difficult. I arrived a large metal stairway over the parking lot and just as I grabbed the hand rail on top, both boots slipped out from under me and I went down hard. From here it was all slow motion. There was a small family starting up the stairway, I felt the need to reduce their alarm at my fall and mid way through I yelled, “I’m okay!” I wasn’t, it hurt bad. I landed on the metal grate of the first step.

Immediately I had to prove my previous statement by bouncing right back up with the assistance of the handrail. With my tail bone bruised, and my pride shaken as well, I stood over the parking lot and immediately recognized that it was my truck and that it had collided with a school bus in the parking lot.

Not knowing how to process what I was seeing, I hurried down the stairs and walked across the ice sheet of a parking lot to see the damage. My pickup had slid about 70’ on the slightly inclined parking area and hit the rear wheel and fender of the school bus. There were no witnesses other than the school bus driver who stated, “It slid out of its parking spot and slammed into the bus. I jumped out and couldn’t believe there was no one inside.”

Luckily, the bus had no damage but a small scratch on the rear panel. My truck on the other hand had quite a bit of damage to the bed and rear bumper. This should have been a Kodak moment but I only wanted the situation over, so I moved my truck to another part of the parking lot and went back up the mountain to ski.

After my first mediocre run, I rode the lift up with two other men. By then I had calmed down somewhat and decided to try laughing at the situation. The ride started with me saying, “ So you guys want to hear about the worst morning ever?” I started my story and as soon as I got to the part about my truck hitting the bus, the guy next to me says, “So you’re that guy?” I replied, “Yes, I’m that guy.”

It was all downhill from there. The ski day was horrible because of conditions and weather, so I convinced my daughter to head home early. My tailgate fell of when I tried to put our gear in the back and I had to kick it to jam it back into place for the trip home. When I turned it into insurance I had the distinct impression that they did not believe my story but after 4 weeks and $6,000 worth of body work, my truck was as good as new.

It was a small price to pay for the story of a lifetime, and the new identity of “that guy.” Growing up most kids want to be Superman, Spiderman, or Batman. But I like to say to myself, “So, I’m that guy.”