Filled to over flowing

Early in 2017 I discovered that I was once again expecting a baby. I was really excited about this one and felt prepared although when I took the test and saw those two lines that meant positive the excitement pretty quickly dissipated as the reality of the months of morning sickness and the difficulty of the pregnancy that lay before me became real.

We decided that since we had one of each already we would not find out the gender and would let it be a surprise. I felt confident it was a boy; the last little boy from the dream that I had a few years before. Joseph also felt like it was a boy. But when we told the kids they were adamant it was a girl. Preston insisted it was a “Vienna baby.” Here is their reaction.

Joseph had started a Masters program at UVU so he was extra busy with classes and work. We also brought Joseph’s mother out to visit and we took a trip to Nauvoo and to all the church history sites along the way. Toward the end of the summer we took a trip to California to the beach. The kids thought they were in heaven and we got some cute pictures.

Finally at the end of October after several false starts and thinking that we were actually going to get our baby, our Sweet Johannah Rose was born. On the way to the hospital Joseph and I decided that we had better talk about possible girl names on the off chance that it was a girl. So her name wasn’t decided on until the very last second.

2018

We had been preparing for a long time for Joseph to get U.S. Citizenship. I taught the kids the pledge of Allegiance so that they could say it along with their dad. Here is their version of it.

Finally in July the paper work came through and we went for the naturalization ceremony. Joseph’s mother came again and was here for the occasion. And several good friends and family came for it as well.

 

It was about this time that I started to experience some symptoms that caused some concern for me. I kept feeling sick to my stomach. My first thought was that I was pregnant so I was relieved when the test came back negative. However the sickness continued for weeks and after awhile it was accompanied by extreme exhaustion and some minor heartburn.

I took another pregnancy test feeling pretty sure I knew what the results would be. But even then I wasn’t prepared to see those two lines that meant our life was about to change once again. It was all so fast!

I went that same day to see the doctor to get something to help with the nausea and vomiting. He did an ultrasound to confirm the pregnancy and to discover how far along I was since I had no way of knowing. When the screen came up I saw the usual little bubble that meant a baby was truly on the way but it didn’t look quite right to me and I couldn’t tell just where the baby was. The doctor as well seemed a little taken a back and paused for just a second before he began looking closer at the little smudges and blobs on the screen. 51193491_1214037798759111_904266447474130944_n

He turned off the machine and I half feared he had bad news for us. Well, he said you are definitely pregnant and its too early to say too much… but it looks to me like there are two babies. Joseph just started laughing and I was stunned. TWINS!

It turns out I was already almost 8 weeks along so we only had 4 more to wait until we could confirm that it was in fact twins. I was happy and overwhelmed, and nervous and excited all at the same time. The 12 week scan confirmed two healthy babies.

8 more weeks went by and we went for the 20 week anatomy scan. All was well and it turns out we had two little brothers for Preston on the way.

Today, as I sit here looking back at my life less than six years ago. And the contrast to where I am now it is unbelievable that so much has happened and that my life has changed so much. I look back on the loneliness, the longing I felt to have a family and I remember the image I saw of myself at the vending machine hopelessly putting in my dollars and waiting to no avail. Now it seems that all those treats came tumbling out at once and my arms are full to over flowing.

I look back at the dream I had of my children and I see their faces before me. I hold them in my arms and marvel that they are here and I am living this reality. I feel blessed beyond measure and I know that the names we have chosen for our babies couldn’t be more perfect.

In the next 5 to 9 weeks. Jaiden Scott Ssempala (whose name means God has heard) and Jarom Ivan Ssempala (whose name means Prosperity) will be joining our family. I would love to invite you to share this journey with us as we prepare for their arrival and for the craziness that is sure to follow.

 

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Living the American Dream

2015

In April we moved from our little apartment in Spanish Fork to a three bedroom apartment in Lehi. It was a much needed upgrade and was a perfect fit for our growing family. In May I finally finished my degree and graduated from UVU with a bachelors of science in Communication with an emphasis in Public Relations. I walked with a huge pregnant belly less than 10 weeks before my daughter was born.

Vienna Joy made her appearance into this world on July 14th narrowly missing her dads birthday. The Joy that she brought to all of our lives is incomprehensible. She was a much needed addition to our family and her enthusiasm for life is often hilarious to watch. She is vibrant and strong willed and everything I hoped my daughter to be. Her birth story is here.

https://acowintheocean.wordpress.com/2015/08/16/birth-of-vienna-joy/

Later that summer Joseph and I decided to start our own company building websites and custom software. Ssemco Technologies was born that summer.

In October Joseph got a job with Oracle. It was our first real Job with benefits, health insurance and an income that we could actually live on.

In December we bought a van and finally had a second vehicle. I became a mini van driving mom of two.

2016

Joseph was attending classes at UVU early in the morning and one morning as he was driving to work in a heavy snowstorm he lost control of the vehicle and it spun out leaving him facing oncoming traffic on I-15. He was in the emergency lane and called the police to help him get turned back around and back our into traffic. The officer arrived and told Joseph to stay in his car and wait for him to stop traffic and give the signal to pull back out onto the road. While he was waiting he looked up just in time to see a truck barreling toward him head on. His life flashed before his eyes and just in time the drive swerved enough to hit the passenger side of the front of the car before careening on to hit the police officer and two other vehicles before coming to a stop. Miraculously Joseph was fine

I woke up that morning to a message on my phone telling me he had been in a car accident, but was fine but the car had been totaled. We were back to being a one car family after less than two months.

Later that spring Joseph graduated with a bachelors of science in Computer Science. I was so proud of how hard he had worked and how well he had done. And mostly I was just glad that he WAS done.

We had been planning to buy a home and our timeline was for the following spring. But because I am the kind of person that cant help myself I was looking at all the homes for sale long before we were actually ready. I wanted to know what the market was like and what was available in our price range and if there was anything that had everything on our wish list. In late May the perfect house come up for sale. It had everything on our list was less than three miles from Oracle, and was exactly in our price range. I looked longingly at the listing and then moved on since our plan was to continue to save for a down payment until the following spring.

Every day I checked the listing knowing there was no way that it would still be available in another year and then one day it was gone. I was devastated. That was our house! I knew it the second it was gone. I felt like I had missed out on our destiny. A couple of weeks later though it was back and the sale had fallen through. I showed it to Joseph and he liked it as much as I did and we decided it wouldn’t hurt to at least look. We called our realtor who took us to see it and we put an offer on it. One month later Joseph was sgning the last of the paper work and I took the keys to our knew home and went right to work painting so that we could move in that weekend. We were officially home owners living the American Dream with two children (A boy and a girl) a mini van and our very own home.

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2014 A year to remember

2014 was a year that would change my life forever and while it wasn’t my favorite in all the years I have experienced so far in my life it had some of the biggest and best moments of my life so far.

I desperately wanted Joseph there for the birth of our baby so we filled for a visitors visa hoping he could come for a visit right at the time the baby would be born. US Immigration stated that one could file for a visitors visa even when there was a pending immigration visa, but that it would be up to use to prove adequately that he would return. We gathered pages and pages of documents, everything we could find showing that he had every intention of returning back to Uganda after his visit to wait for his visa, and really it would have been ridiculous not too since by not returning it could make him ineligible for the immigration visa which would not be issued unless he appeared at the embassy in Nairobi. However, when he went for his interview he was denied without the embassy official even looking at his thick envelope of evidence.

I was so mad. They simply told him that there was nothing that would be adequate proof that he would return. It seemed so wrong and cruel to me to state that we could apply (and pay the $175 non refundable fee) if we could prove he would return, only to then turn around and tell us that there was nothing they would consider sufficient evidence that he would return. The injustice of it burned.

It was around the middle of February I believe when I was sitting at work in a marketing meeting and I started to feel extremely light headed, hot, and nauseous. Afraid I was going to be sick I tried to leave the room but only made it as far as the doorway before everything went black and I felt my legs give way beneath me. When I woke up I was lying on the floor and I heard someone shout for someone to call 911. I begged them not to and assured them I was ok.

But in the days and weeks that followed this episode repeated itself several times and I found I was having a very hard time carrying this baby and getting enough blood to my head. I decided that maybe this could work in our favor and I called US Immigration to explain the situation and to ask if there was any way to hurry along Joseph’s process.

The man I talked to was extremely helpful and he filed a petition to expedite based on medical emergency. It was all done over the phone in a matter of minutes and about a week later I received a phone call. The man told me that Joseph’s visa application had been denied. I was stunned. How could they deny my husband the right to enter the country and what would that mean for me and our baby?

I started to cry and the man quickly tried to console me. Its not a permanent decision he told me, You simply don’t have the proper seal on your marriage certificate. You need to get your husband to go back to the government and get them to put the seal on and then reapply. My head was spinning and I couldn’t hardly breathe. Start the process all over reapply meant after 7 months of waiting and over $1000 in fees we were being told we had to start over. I started to blubber like a baby. I grabbed the envelope with our documents off the dresser and looked for the seal. It was there however slightly off center at the top of the page. It’s there Im looking right at it I told the man. You can’t deny him. Our baby will be here in a couple of weeks, you can’t do this to us right now I begged.

There was silence on the line and then he spoke. If you send me an email with a scanned copy of your certificate right now while I am on the phone and I can see the seal I will approve the visa, he told me. Quickly I scanned the document and waited for him to receive it.

“Its there I see it” he told me. I began to breathe a sigh of relief. “In the next few days you will receive a letter telling you that his application was denied. You can ignore that letter and and shortly after that you should receive another telling you it has been approved. He told me. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. A minute before my whole world had come crashing down and I didn’t know if I would ever see my husband again and now he was telling me that we were done. That his visa had been approved and he could come home!

It wasn’t quite as simple as that. He still had to travel to Nairobi, have his medical exam, his interview and vaccinations and receive the actual visa. But the hardest part was done.

I began to hope he might make it in time for the babies birth. But it wasn’t meant to be. On May 9th just before he was scheduled to travel to Nairobi our baby boy was born with his father watching over skype. That day was one of the best of my whole life. It was the day I first became a mother and I will never be the same. Every dream, every hope I had ever had about having a baby was surpassed when he entered this world. His birth story is here.

https://acowintheocean.wordpress.com/2014/05/26/birth-of-baby-preston/

it would end up taking another 10 weeks before he would actually receive the visa and fly home to meet his son for the very first time. That day was another best day of my life kind of days. I wrote about it here.

https://acowintheocean.wordpress.com/2014/07/17/families-can-be-together-forever/

He arrived ironically on July 17th, further endearing the number 17 to us and establishing its significance in our family. a couple weeks later on the 27th of July we celebrated our 1st wedding anniversary with a delayed wedding celebration with all my family and friends. 10635706_10154585285035344_1044551109458445231_n

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The months that followed would be full of change and adjustment as Joseph adjusted to life in a new and very different country, a new culture, a new wife and a new role as father. I adjusted to a new husband, a new way of life and my new role as a stay at home mom. It was a lot and I wont lie and say that it was fun or easy. There were moments I wondered if we had made a gigantic mistake. But with time we worked through some of those things.

Joseph got a drivers license, a job, and enrolled in school. I settled into raising our baby and keeping house, only to discover when he was just 4 months old that I was pregnant once again. We weren’t really surprised as I had felt the spirit of a girl present through out the first pregnancy and wrongly assumed it was a girl. Joseph had heard a little girls voice saying she was coming soon and so when Preston had been born and truly was a boy we knew that a little girl wasn’t far behind.

As morning sickness settled in with a vengeance I wished that I had a little more time. I felt guilty that my son was being robbed of his position as the only chi`ld too soon. As I kneeled in front of the toilet day after day losing what little food I had managed to get down he sat on the living room floor screaming in fear not knowing what was going on. It was a hard time for our little growing family.

I love you 17!

After finding out I was pregnant with Preston it became a battle to stay healthy. After fighting infection after infection as well as the morning sickness I finally decided it was time to go to the hospital and get some help. They put me on three different types of antibiotics and I had to go in every day for an IV antibiotic treatment. I still couldn’t keep anything down and I felt like all life and energy was slowly draining from my body. I seriously started to worry that if I didn’t go home I might lose the baby.

I asked Joseph what he thought and he wouldn’t give me his opinion. All he would say is “its up to you I will support whatever you decide.” I was angry at him. This was a huge decision that affected him as well as me. If I went home it meant we would be separated for months if not years. It meant that he would miss so much. IF I stayed it could mean the loss of our baby. Or maybe everything would be ok. I didn’t want to make the decision alone but Joseph wouldn’t weigh in on it.

One day we were talking and Joseph took me in his arms and started dancing with me. “We cant dance without music,” I laughed.

So he started to sing. “I love you one I love you two I love you three I love you four.”

Thinking to one up him I interrupted with “I love you infinity!”

“Ok if you don’t want to hear the rest of the song “he told me.

“No finish” I begged. So he kept going until he reached I love you 17. I was confused. “Why 17?”

“Because thats the day we will go to the temple to be sealed” he told me s”o to us that number represents eternity.”

He was right, a few weeks later we were sealed on Sept. 17. Ever since then 17 is a special number to our family that represents an eternal love.

A few days after the sealing I knew what had to be done. I had to return home. Not just for the health of our baby but to start preparing a place for us back in America. I was afraid to tell Joseph. I wasn’t sure how he would react. When I told him he sighed and said “I’m so glad. Ive known for awhile that that was what you needed to do.”

“Why didn’t you tell me then!” I shouted. So frustrated at finally hearing his opinion after agonizing over making the decision on my own.

“Because, I didn’t want you to ever feel like I chased you away or didn’t want you here. IF you left I needed you to know it was because it was whats best not that I didn’t want you.”

His thoughtfulness and understanding took me by surprise. He was right I needed to come to this decision on my own and know that it was necessary. When he dropped me off at the airport he left me with two letters. “The first you can read on the plane he told me the other wait until you are home in your parents house to read.”

Leaving him was so hard. And would have been harder still if I had known he was standing right outside the window watching me until he couldn’t see me anymore with tears streaming down his face.

I sat on the airplane feeling dazed and alone but peaceful about the decision to go. Finally after we got in the air I opened his letter and read it. It held words of comfort and love and promises that he would follow as soon as possible. He told me to take good care of our baby and to prepare a home for us.  The tears flowed freely and I didn’t even care what the long haired tattooed man sitting next to me might have thought of me.

Its interesting that the following months could have been incredibly difficult for me but they really weren’t. I missed Joseph. But the loneliness I felt without him was nothing to the hopelessness I had experienced before. He was there, I knew his face and his name, I knew he loved me, I carried our baby in my womb and I felt more whole and complete than I had ever dared to hope.

2013 ended with me living in a little apartment in Spanish Fork, working at Cedar Fort and waiting for my husband to join us.

One Step Closer

2013 began with a completely clean slate for me. No plans, no future, no nothing. While it felt barren and cold it was also a perfect time for new beginnings and facing the unknown. I had put my things in storage and sublet my apartment. I was traveling every week as a nanny and crashing with friends and family on the weekends. I was preparing to do an internship over the summer and while I didn’t have one lined up yet I knew exactly what I wanted. It had to be a paid internship, I wanted it in a big city, out of state but still within the country. I was leaning toward Washington DC.

One day while sitting on the couch at my mom’s simultaneously browsing facebook and visiting with my sister I saw an ad for an internship. I clicked on it and read a bit about it and in that moment I saw my future. I knew this was what came next. It was for a nonprofit organization in Uganda ( I didn’t even know at the time for sure what continent Uganda was on), It was not paid and not in a big city. It was in a small town called Lugazi. I would be working with a group of single mom’s writing their stories, taking pictures and videos of them with their children and writing blog posts about life in the area. It sounded like a dream come true and a perfect escape from the plateau I found myself on.

I saw myself having grand adventures and forgetting all about men, dating, marriage and my seemingly hopeless situation. It would also delay the inevitable move to the mid singles ward. It was perfect. I applied, was accepted, packed my bags and by the first week of May I found myself on a plane headed for Africa. I felt more confident than ever that this was the Lord’s plan for my life at this time. I wondered what I would do or experience there that would be important enough for him to give me such clear direction but I was excited to find out.

Uganda was exotic, exciting and everything I had hoped it would be. My first Sunday there I attended church at the new branch that had just been organized in Lugazi. It was their first meeting in their new chapel. It was small and I felt how much I was needed there. The following Saturday the counselor to the branch president called to ask if I would gather a bunch of the primary children from their homes and take them into JInja to a stake primary program. We would travel by bus about an hour and a half and I would need to teach them to sing a primary song on the way as most of them were so new to the church that they had yet to learn one and each branch was supposed to present something, It was a tall order and came after a difficult night. I wanted to refuse but I said yes and went.

When I was there sitting up front playing the piano for a group of children I saw a man sitting at the very back. His bright smile and the light shining from his eyes caught my attention and I wondered what kind of life he had lived and if he had been happy. I wished that I could know more about him. After the meeting he approached me and introduced himself as Joseph Ssempala. He asked my name and if I was named after Vilate Kimball. We had a short conversation and in the days that followed he called to invite me to go on a date. I went, excited to hear more about him and his life but not thinking that anymore would come of it.

That date was unlike any I had been on. I left it feeling that my life would never be the same. I saw him again and again until I knew that I could never stop seeing him. I wrote a number of blog posts about it. Here are some of my favorites.

https://acowintheocean.wordpress.com/2013/08/21/my-whirlwind-romance-part-ii-i-think-i-like-him/

https://acowintheocean.wordpress.com/2013/08/27/my-whirlwind-romance-part-iii-the-mazungu-white-person/

https://acowintheocean.wordpress.com/2013/10/21/my-whirlwind-romance-part-iv-are-you-gonna-kiss-me-or-not/

We were married that summer and I canceled my plane ticket home. A week or so before the wedding I realized that I should probably give him a heads up about a diagnosis I had received a couple of years earlier of endometriosis. The doctor told me that it usually causes infertility and that if I was able to get pregnant it would probably take some time and effort. I didn’t think it would change his feelings for me or his desire to get married but I thought he should know before taking that step.

I told him and he looked confused. Well thats simple he told me. Either Heavenly Father has children in store for us or he doesn’t. If he doesn’t than he never did and diagnosis or not it wouldn’t make a difference so the way I see it. It makes no difference at all.

The Sunday after we were married I was sitting in RS when I thought I felt the tiniest of shocks as though someone had touched me and released a bit of static electricity and at that moment the thought popped into my mind. “There, now you are pregnant.” Honestly I hadn’t hardly even had time to realize that pregnancy was now an option and I thought surely that s not possible. I thought I would give Joseph a little shock. The next morning as we were lying in bed I said, “What would you say if I told you I think I might be pregnant.”

“I already know” was his response. On Sunday as I was seated in Priesthood meeting a heard a little girls voice say “Daddy Im coming soon.” Then when I woke up this morning and looked at you still sleeping you just looked different and I knew.

Even though we both felt like we knew we had to wait until I had missed a period to take a test. Joseph took me to a clinic as he didn’t know where to buy a home test. The clinic was dingy and dirty and a rude man handed me a dirty cup and told me to go to the outhouse and fill it. As I entered the outhouse huge black cockroaches scurried around oblivious to my presence,  there was no light and I couldn’t bear the thought of closing myself in in the dark with all those roaches so I left the door open a crack and trying to balance carefully over the hole in the ground and still make it in the cup while holding the door partially ajar took some skill but I made it happen. I had nothing to wash with and was embarrassed to hand the man back the cup when not all of it had made it inside. He didn’t even notice and took the cup in his bare hands without even blinking. We waited 10 or 15 min and when he still hadn’t come back we went looking for him and found him in an office seated at a desk. We are just wondering about the results of the test we asked.

“There’s nothing there.” he told us.

What do you mean? I asked

“You are not pregnant, there is nothing in there. ” was his rude reply.

We waited a few more days and in the meantime Joseph found a home test. He brought it to me early one morning and sure enough this time it was positive. Here is our announcement. It brings back all those feelings of awe and joy just reading it again.

https://acowintheocean.wordpress.com/2013/09/24/the-funny-thing-about-mathmatics/

It took a lot of courage to move forward so quickly with the marriage and to be open to having a baby so quickly, With every step I told myself don’t try to figure it all out. Just take one step. I am so happy that we did. I had waited too long to continue waiting once I had found what I was looking for. Joseph and I have always said if there was a sound track for this time in our lives it would be this.