Our God Story
Everyone has a God story. But how many people can say their God story starts with a dog named Smalls? Yes, Smalls as in "you're killing me Smalls" from the iconic movie Sandlot. We can.
This story has so many pieces that had to fall into place in a very specific order, with very precise timing, involving very special people. If just one, slightest event didn't go exactly the way that it did I believe without a doubt our story wouldn't exist. Some things happen in life that you can shake off as pure coincidence. But sometimes, every once in a while, something so magnificent happens all you can do is look up at the sky, smile and say "I know that was you, thank you."
A little background for those who may not know our entire story. Our son Knox was born on September 5th, 2016. He was healthy, happy, beautiful and perfect in every single way. He brought so much love and laughter to our home. He was adored (and spoiled) by his big brother, Hunter, and his big sister, Gracen.
On December 20th, 2016 our world came crashing down. Knox went down for a nap and didn't wake up. He died from SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). We had no idea how we could go on without a piece of our hearts missing. We were broken. The days and weeks, even months, after Knox's death are a blur. Maybe the details being blurred are a way of your head trying to protect your heart? We knew we had to do anything we could to try to prevent other families from living our nightmare.
Four months after Knox's death we launched the Knox Blocks Foundation (named after a nickname Knox had). We raise money to provide Owlet Smart Socks to families in need. The Owlet monitors infants heart rate and oxygen levels. If the levels go outside of a normal range parents are alerted. We felt if Knox had an Owlet on that day, he might still be here with us.
Through all of this, we never lost our faith in God.
Our Story Part I
Knox Blocks had been up and running for nearly four months and Knox's first birthday was approaching. After surviving our first big fundraiser for the foundation my husband, Mark, and I knew we needed a break. We needed get away together without distractions, we needed a timeout. We were tired and we were still very deep in our grief. What a better place to escape than Alaska? One week surrounded by nature, very limited cell service and family - sold.
Like everything we do in life we were running behind schedule (let me clarify, I was running behind schedule). The deal was I would be packed and ready to walk out the door the minute my husband pulled into the driveway from work. Let's throw our bags in and hit the road! Little problem...I may have procrastinated slightly and at this point I was frantically throwing things into a suit case as fast as humanly possible knowing he would be pulling in at any minute. During this state of chaos I received a text message. I felt the phone buzz in my pocket and thought about ignoring it until we were driving. Instead I looked at it.
It read, "Hi this is Allyson, I'm one of your Knox Blocks moms. You guys donated 2 Owlets to my twin girls. I am so embarrassed to say this but my dog ate one of our Owlets. Could I please come and buy one from you right now?? I don't want one of them sleeping without an Owlet tonight." Yep, this is where we welcome Smalls to the story. I reply, "how soon can you get here?".
By the time Allyson got there we should have been gone. We should have left at least a half an hour ago. But I was running late and I wasn't gone. She came to the door, super embarrassed that her dog actually got onto the counter and ate one of her Owlets. I couldn't help but love this woman the instant I met her. She was brutally honest, hilarious and by looking at her I saw every mother in America just surviving this motherhood thing the best we possibly could. All she wanted was to keep her babies safe tonight.
We chatted for quite a while (instead of packing or driving) and she mentioned a friend of hers had recently had a new baby. Allyson told me her friend, Katie, had previously lost 2 children while she was quite far along in her pregnancies before her little man made his way into the world. Katie had stopped by to visit her and she was very anxious and convinced that something was wrong with her new baby Jameson. We both knew she needed an Owlet.
Finally, off Allyson went with 2 Owlets, one to replace the snack Smalls ate and the other for Katie and Jameson. Allyson drove straight to Katie's after leaving my house. I packed, begged Mark for forgiveness for being so late (not really, he knew what he was getting when he married me), and out the door we went.
The very next day, sitting in the Seattle airport I receive a message from Allyson. It was a screenshot that she forwarded to me. It read:
Knox saved Jameson's life.
My heart paused for a moment as I read the words again. The next message followed with more details. Katie had been trying to hookup the Owlet for Jameson but it wouldn't show a reading of his oxygen level or heart rate. She was on the phone with Owlet support when suddenly it started going off giving her a red alert (this is the alert no parent ever wants).
Thinking the device was faulty she hit reset and tried again. Another red alert. Jameson's heart rate was showing 259 BMP. Katie being an RN thought that was impossible. She grabbed her stethoscope to listen to what sounded like a hummingbird in Jameson's chest. He was rushed to the ER.
Jameson had SVT, his heart was in serious distress which could result in heart failure. After trying several things to regulate his heartbeat the doctor knew they would have to do a cardioversion to restore a normal heart rhythm. Katie couldn't watch. She turned to the window and prayed and prayed that God wouldn't take this baby from her too. Finally she heard her mom scream, "it worked!!!". Jameson was ok!!
After it was over the staff asked her how she knew there was something wrong with Jameson since there are no symptoms or warning signs with SVT at this stage. She explained to them she received an Owlet from Knox Blocks and it went off the first time she put it on him. The staff became emotional. Many of them familiar with our story because they had also worked on Knox the day we lost him.
Amazing? YES! I could stop right here and this story would be a miracle in itself. But I cannot because this isn't the entire story. This is actually just the beginning. Keep reading, everything that happens next is truly a something only God could make happen.
Our Story Part II
I became good friends with both Allyson and Katie after this event took place. We all agreed that it was remarkable that everything happened the way that it did. We joked about how Smalls totally saved the day - he deserved unlimited treats for the rest of his life!
Several months after Jameson's SVT episode, Katie and I went to lunch. She asked me a question that a lot of people asked. Will we have more kids? I told her the truth. I don't know. I don't know if this is the plan that God had for me, to help all of these other babies instead of having another one of my own. Coming from a place where she understood the loss of a child she said, "having another baby was the one thing that helped heal me the most.".
I looked at her and said "I know you're going to think I'm crazy but I have had this feeling since we lost Knox that someone will walk into our lives and want give us their baby." I didn't picture myself physically having anymore. If I let myself imagine more children in our life this was how I saw it happening. I know it is not realistic. I know that doesn't just happen. People who actually try to adopt wait years and years for a child.
She very kindly said, "I don't think you're crazy." But maybe she did a little bit?
About a month later, on December 5th, 2017, I was having a rough day. Knox would have been 15 months old. On these milestone days I pictured what he would look like, what he would be doing and everything in between that I didn't get a chance to do with him. His angel anniversary date was around the corner, December 20th. This added extra sadness to my day. I had been crying all morning with an aching heart and empty arms.
My phone rang. It was Katie. I answer to find her crying on the other end. I immediately think something is wrong with Jameson, he has a heart check-up coming up soon. Instead she surprises me by saying,
"Elisha, I may have overstepped my boundaries." sobbing into the phone.
"Of course you didn't, what is going on?!" I ask.
"So a few weeks ago I wasn't supposed to be working but then I got put on the schedule. There was a mom that I hadn't seen before. She is pretty far along in her pregnancy. After asking some questions she said she was putting the baby up for adoption. I asked her what agency she was going through and she said she didn't know, she hadn't made plans yet. Before I knew what I was saying I told her she had to go look at Knox Blocks, these are my friends and she just needed to see you."
I am speechless. She continues.
"I didn't say anything to you because I didn't want to get your hopes up and I honestly forgot about it thinking nothing would happen. But today she came back in and she asked for your phone number. She watched the video of you and Mark and she just knew in her heart this baby belongs with you guys. It's a boy. He's due January 11th."
The only way I can describe the feeling in this moment is to women that have experienced the first time they see their baby after giving birth. With the words, "it's a boy, he's due January 11th", my heart instantly LOVED this little person with everything inside of me. I KNEW this was our baby.
"YES, YES, YES!!!!! We want him!!!!!", I scream into the phone as I am jumping up and down sobbing, "give her our number!!!".
This is the moment I committed to adopting a baby without talking to my husband first. I'll say it again, he knew what he was getting into when he married me. He eventually thanked me for making completely irrational decisions with my heart without consulting him first.
Several days later we met with the birth mom. We were so nervous. What if she met us and didn't like us? What if she didn't think we were good parents? What if she changed her mind? All of these fears and doubts subsided the minute we met her. I became calm when we hugged. The conversation was effortless. We sat for hours talking and it felt like we had known each other for years. More than once she told me, "I believe I became pregnant for you to have this baby."
I began taking her to her doctor's appointments. I saw our little guy on the ultrasound. We picked out his name, Maverick Owen (after his big brother). We started making a brand new nursery. This process was bittersweet.
Knox's angel anniversary came. It hit like a ton of bricks. I spent a lot of it in bed. That evening a a package arrived. it was a carseat and stroller for Maverick. I felt like that was my first little nudge from Knox saying, "mom I helped pick this baby for you, he's going to be perfect."
On the way to our 38 week appointment Mav's birth mom said she felt like she had started having some contractions. She was so calm about it. When we arrived at the doctor's office they had told us our appointment was the day before. We had missed it. Odd we both had it down for a day later. We asked if anyone could check her now. We thought she was having contractions now.
The doctor kindly fit her in and thank God she did. She was dilated to a 9 and 100% effaced (yes this is the toughest woman alive)!! This baby would be here in 30 minutes!! The hospital was just a block away but they wanted a nurse to ride with us just in case.
Guess who happened to be working and had a clear schedule for several hours? Katie!! She went with us while I made frantic phone calls to Mark and to the family of birth momma telling them all to get to the hospital ASAP!! The hospital was ready for us and when we got there she started pushing.
I held one of her hands while Katie held the other. There sat three mothers with very different circumstances but united together by the grace of God and by the same love they all shared for their babies. The room was full of nurses watching. Everyone made it just in time. Right before it was time for the final push I helped deliver our baby. I was the first person to hold Maverick and Mark cut the cord.
Maverick Owen Palmer entered the world at 11:42AM on December 28th, 2017. He was perfect.
December 28th. Exactly one year to date from Knox's funeral. Exactly one year after I laid one son to rest another son was born. Exactly one year after I spoke the words, "I don't know what God's plan is for us, but I have faith he has a plan even though we cannot see it."
In our eyes Maverick has one giant family. We keep in close contact with his birth mother and her family. They will always be a part of his life. He will know that he was given to us because they loved him so much. He may never understand how special he truly is and that's ok. As long as he knows he has an army on earth and in Heaven loving him and looking out for him for the rest of his life.
Maverick was our plan from God, handpicked by his big brother in Heaven. The missing piece, the healer to our hearts and the hope back in our world. All because one little dog, Smalls, decided to eat an Owlet. If it weren't for Smalls eating the Owlet, Allyson wouldn't have showed up when she did. She wouldn't have gotten Jameson's Owlet for him. Jameson's SVT wouldn't have been detected leading to something possibly much worse and I wouldn't have met Katie. If I didn't meet Katie we wouldn't have become friends. If we were not friends I would not have Maverick today. Everything is connected and deeply intertwined . Without one little piece of this story we wouldn't have our story to tell.
Today I'm looking up, smiling and saying "I know that was you, thank you."