what to expect when you are expecting

When I was pregnant with my oldest, I scoured this book every night.


How big is the baby now?

What is growing?

How are things changing?

What am I supposed to be feeling?

Is this normal?

What are the warning signs?

40 weeks…isn’t that 10 months not 9 months?

What is the earliest time the baby could safely arrive?

How close are we to the end?

EVERY NIGHT I read that crazy book. I read the chapter that dealt with where I was at in my pregnancy, but also the next chapter. It was like I’d read one night and then hope that when I read it the next night I was somehow so much closer to the Bringing Baby Home chapter. I could tell you exactly how many weeks and days I was pregnant. I could tell you if the baby was the size of a pear or a melon…and exactly which kind of melon.

I think I picked it up once during my second pregnancy and then never again.

Now I have a new version that is getting a lot of use these days:


I read the timeline page nearly every night. As if by reading it one night, when I read it the next night I will somehow be so much closer to the Bringing Baby Home chapter. The hard part is instead of a clear 40 week timeline, this one is much more up in the air. I find myself reading and re-reading adoption timelines on other blogs that have gone down this same road. I’ve ventured on a few forums and read all about timelines there. It is like with pregnancy….everyone’s story is different. One person’s experience is not identical to another. I’m grateful for a wonderful agency that is super quick to answer all my questions.

We are finishing up a couple of things for our dossier (the big packet of everything that goes to our agency and then to China). We’ve been in the busy stages of gathering and compiling all kinds of things. Now we are just waiting on things. Waiting for a fingerprint appointment. Then we’ll wait for approval of those fingerprints. Then we mail off our dossier and really begin the long months of waiting.

I’m just as emotional this round as I was with our other four kids. There is a commercial of a mom giving a baby boy a bath. She says something about how her type is the chubby bald kind (referring to the baby). I used to cry when I saw that commercial because I understood that feeling of giving a tiny little guy a bath and being overcome with love. Now I cry…thinking of all the baths I am missing. There is a lot of grieving that takes place with adoption – I am only beginning to understand this.

There are so many uncertainties. So many question marks. One thing we don’t question…don’t waver on….we have a little one in China. God clearly, so very clearly to us, marked this path. THIS SPECIFIC PATH. OUR CHILD. And right now I may not have a name or face, but I’d move heaven and earth to get my little one home.

So in the wait, we’ll keep talking about our little one across the ocean. I’ll probably keep checking my timelines. And one day, I’ll stop checking those timelines. Just like I stopped reading that pregnancy book. I’ll be at the Bringing Baby Home chapter…..

My 2 & 3 year old were playing. He said, “Let’s pretend it’s our baby in China and I go get the baby and I give the baby to you. You can be the mommy.” Of all our kids, he talks about his sibling in China the most. Several times a day.  If he understood timelines, he’d probably be reading them with me tonight….

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  • Karen Davis - friend…. we just adopted our little one from Ukraine… and the waiting stage was the HARDEST part… once they’re yours… you forget all about that waiting stage, and you’re ready to adopt again! 😉 I think it mirrors pregnancy perfectly!

  • Alyssa - Hey Ashley
    I am so glad you are sharing your adoption journey! It is so exciting, but I am sure our excitement isnothing compared to yours!! God is knitting such a special place in your heart for this little one, so neat!
    I wanted to tell you something I saw on a blog. It’s Charla Anne’s and when they went overseas to pick up their sweet little girl they adopted they bought her eighteen gifts from her home country and are giving her one every birthday until she is eighteen! I thought of you, sounds like something you would like!

    Anyway, just thought I would share. Charla Anne shared the little dress they got her here if you want to see:

  • Sarah - Love this post… and I SO understand what the wait feels like. Just like the pains of pregnancy fade with time, the pain of the wait feels like a distant memory once you hold your child in your arms. Thanks for sharing your journey with us!

  • amanda torres - I could understand the grieving process. That makes total sense. You know your child is there, away from you, and I could completely understand wanting to be the one to comfort and cuddle. On the other hand this is such an exciting time. Newborn, baby, toddler, pre-schooler, kid, or adult…God has a plan and puts specific people in our path. Can’t wait for your little one to be in your family photos!

  • Kirra Sue - So sweet. I love reading about your heart for you children.

  • Jill - I think you’ll find that there is a very real labor and delivery process in adoption. I remember thinking it was more painful than actual labor and actual delivery. I LABORED for my daughter in those months leading up to her coming home. I like the comparison you drew between the books; it’s an astute observation that not many would make/assume.

  • Christina - I was hoping that once all our docs were to China that the waiting would be easier- but it’s harder in some ways since there is nothing to do on this end. Now it’s dealing with the uncertainty of when we will get a match- since that seems to be SO variable between agencies…just using this as a time to trust God in every detail. I hope you get a fingerprinting appt soon!

  • Crystal - **crying over here*** I just got off the phone with my cousin who is thinking about adopting her nephew, my husband and I are considering adoption also, seems God is putting children on the hearts of many around me today! Love, love hearing about your progress and those sweet babies preparing for the arrival of their new sibling…just precious!

  • the inadvertent farmer - I remember the waiting and waiting of an adoption. Although we didn’t go overseas, our little one was to be born on the other side of the country. It was so strange knowing that she was living and growing totally apart from me…but she was never growing without God’s amazing hand cradling her. There is a special faith of a mother that can love a child she has never met. Our prayers and thoughts will be with you and your yet to be learned of little one…you do not know the face and name of your new daughter but God surely does and that makes all the waiting more than worth it! Kim

  • Melissa - we are finalizing our second kiddos adoption on Saturday. waiting is the hardest part and i still grieve sometimes on the things i didn’t get to do with my little ones. but God is so good and He will grow you in ways you never knew you would need. sometimes its looking back to see how God worked everything out to truly see the miracle of adoption and the blessing the little one is to your family!

  • Mymsie - Just browsing your blog & I love all your neato DIYs and tutorials!

    P.S. Did you know there’s a Death Cab for Cutie song called Underneath the Sycamore? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tNmzXCGFHYI 🙂

  • Lisa - Ashley, my heart was being tugged by this post. The waiting process must be very trying, but I know God is watching over and protecting your baby and will deliver it to you in His timing. I will be praying for your family and your new baby. Beautiful post and pictures.
    Also, I emailed you a questions about lenses for my camera, and I want to thank you for taking the time to respond to me!

  • Miss T - Hi, we adopted from Ethiopia (we live in Belgium). Adoption is an emotional rollercoaster indeed… but so is motherhood, no? 🙂

  • emily anderson - i remember all those feelings…and miss them. hold tight to those feelings…don’t forget about them.

  • Heather - We adopted our son from the Philippines and he is now 27. He is an absolute joy to us. I kept a diary of the journey we went through to make him part of our family and he now has that. Your new family member will be fortunate in that you are well and truly in the information technology age and he/she will be able to check out your archived blog posts on what the family went through to make he/she part of the family.

    I love your blog. It is how I start each day. It is like having another daughter and her family.

  • Hannah B - Ashley, this post really tugged at my heart pretty hard. You said, “Now I cry…thinking of all the baths I am missing…There is a lot of grieving that takes place with adoption…There are so many uncertainties. So many question marks. One thing we don’t question…don’t waver on….we have a little one in China. God clearly, so very clearly to us, marked this path. THIS SPECIFIC PATH. OUR CHILD. And right now I may not have a name or face, but I’d move heaven and earth to get my little one home.”

    My husband and I are currently struggling with infertility and what you said correlates so closely with that struggle. You feel that you have a child that just hasn’t made their way into your arms yet. There are so many uncertainties and question marks but you don’t question that you will be able to carry a child someday because God is a God of miracles…that’s something you don’t waver on. But there is so much grief in the waiting time and I really do “think of all the baths I’m missing.” I want our child here so bad. It breaks my heart. Every time I have to give myself a hormone shot or take another medication I think of the last thing you said, that you would move heaven and earth to get your little one home. I’ll go through anything to have a baby because I so want them in my arms. We are also planning on adopting someday soon, whether or not we have already been blessed with a biological child. We’ve started researching and even though we are only in the very beginning stages we thoroughly believe that we have a child out there that is meant for us. So your post really moved me on both of those levels because I feel the grief in the waiting in both of these areas…but remain hopeful that our little ones will be in our arms someday.

    Thank you for this post.

  • Laura Chavous - Oh there is so so much I could say. I not only cry because I miss the baths but because I won’t ever get to give them. And I will just leave it at that. God bless you and your growing family Ashley and please pray for mine.

  • Amy D - love this post. love that your kids are pretending to adopt just like mine. my daughter used to pretend to nurse her baby dolls and such, once her brother was born, and now… she has filled out some “paperwork to get her sissy home” (i’ll save that forever) and several of her baby dolls are adopted. love it!!! when she grows up, she wants to be a nanny in an orphanage. so thankful that she gets it. and i’m grieving our all that we’re missing too. i don’t like it at all, but i am thankful that God has made it clear he has a plan! praying for you and your little girl not yet in your arms.

  • Amber - Adoption was the first time I really and truly under stood that I am not in control. God is orchestrating this journey we call life. I prayed & cried, followed by praying and crying. One day during a tearful prayer I fully released all control to God. We made it, our boys were born at 25 weeks, God got us through that too. Now I try- try to never say why me? Adoption is hard, it’s envasive, exhausting and never really real until the papers are signed, and baby is home. The hard part is you are in love with this child from the moment you learn of their existence.
    One day you will look back and know that strength did not get you through this time, God did. Isn’t he awesome?
    Persevere; you will one day soon hold your child. What a joyful day that will be. Isn’t growing love just the best!
    Love reading your journey.

  • Heather R - we are also adopting #5. our #3 is also the one who misses her the most. he was the one who when he first saw our baby girls referral photo “i just love that girl”. instant love. sigh. so sweet. we are 2 weeks away from the trip to Ethiopia to meet her for our court date. it’s been a long process and the waiting is so hard, but i hear it’s worth it. 🙂

  • Lisa - Yours is now one of the blogs I’m studying like an algebraic equation, trying to imagine when the waiting will be over! You tell the story your story so beautifully. It’s such an encouragement to this mama-in-waiting!