"...suffering is one of the universal conditions of being alive. We all suffer. We have become terribly vulnerable, not because we suffer, but because we have separated ourselves from each other." -- Rachel Naoimi Remen

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Best news!

I will be putting together a more thorough adoption story, when I'm ready to share it all.  But with the bustle of the holidays and the business of a newborn, I'm not sure when I will have time.  Furthermore, it's so precious right now, I just don't even have the words to describe our wonderful adoption experience.  Beyond thankful - I will say that much. 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Men in the Arena (Humanity: Adoption Love Link-Up)

The Adoption Love Link-up is a neat blog I found through the community of wonderful people adopting.  She asks a question each month and other bloggers can answer it and she links those blogs to her page.  The question this month is how did our experience with adoption affect our view of humanity?  This dovetails nicely with what I have been wanting to write about for a while - how I feel about birthmothers - and so here's my take...

So, how has our adoption story affected my view of the human race?  Well, let me give some history.  I have actually considered adoption since I was a teenager.  It began when I realized how strongly I felt that life began at conception.  But I also knew that our society needs real alternatives that work for women in crisis.  I believe adoption is one such answer.  I wanted to be part of the solution, and so, I imagined a future where I might adopt.  This was further nurtured when I visited Africa and met so many orphans.  I wasn't ready yet, but I really wanted to take a child home and give him a better life. 
Of course, infertility and recurrent miscarriage were never part of that dream.  When my husband and I met, we talked quite a lot about adoption and he was on board with the idea... after we were done having biological children.  It would be at a comfortable time of our lives, when we were in charge of our destiny.  It would be on our terms.  We just never expected it any other way. 

Five years later, my story of adoption and recurrent miscarriage are now inextricably linked in a beautifully complicated way that I never anticipated.  Our choice to adopt is a lot less to save the world or help the helpless, than it is to grow our family in the best possible way.  After five consecutive miscarriages, adoption was the obvious choice for us.  

I think most people agree that adoption is a loving option from the vantage point of the adoptive parents.  We're opening our hearts, home and families to someone without one.  It's one thing to say that adoption is a beautiful choice but it's another thing entirely to actually do the hard work of a home study, spend thousands of dollars, wait months or years, and to make all the other sacrifices that adoption entails.  The parents who I've met, whether in person or via the internet, who are on an adoption journey are kind, enthusiastic and brave, in an inspiring way.  

Furthermore, the support that my husband and I have received through our own adoption journey has been overwhelming.  Friends and family, coworkers and acquaintances have all been joyful when they've heard our news.  In most instances, they've been empathic and supportive in all the right ways.  It's been a wonderful blessing to my husband and I.  

But the most impressive part of humanity, by far, are the birthmothers.  It's interesting, when you're first starting off on your adoption journey one of the first things you have to do is write a letter to a prospective birthmother.  In that letter, the agency encourages you to tell her how brave you think she is.  And so our letter talks about just that.  And when we wrote it, we meant every word of it.  Of course we did.... we meant it honestly from our perspective; in the lustful dreamy way a teen tells her first boyfriend that she loves him.  Now, as we have actually met a birthmother who's chosen us to raise her baby, we mean it when we honor her courage in a much bigger way.  We mean it like a woman married for ten or twenty or maybe even fifty years means it when she says she loves her husband.  That love embodies a complex person and process, for all that's beautiful and all that's ugly in it.  That love knows it's worth and cherishes it, in a way that the giver of the love never even knew was humanly possible before.

The woman who shares her child through adoption is truly one of the most courageous women out there.  Could you or I do what she has done?  I am not sure I would be that brave.  In a crisis pregnancy, adoption is surely the toughest choice.  And yet, she makes a selfless decision for the best interest of others; her baby and her adoptive parents.  She deals with a great crisis in the most brave and beautiful way there is.  She is admirable.  

She reminds me, actually all the parties in adoption remind me, of the Man in the Arena, which you may be familiar with. 

Man in the Arena by Teddy Roosevelt, quoted here by Brene Brown:
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

By being there, in the arena, marred by dust and sweat and blood, birthmothers are vulnerable and generous at the same time.  Adoptive parents, who've often suffered through miscarriage and infertility, open themselves up again in a risky way ultimately have the privileged of knowing "great enthusiasms".

The men and women in the arena that I've met through adoption inspire me. 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Stomach flop

There isn't much that "gets me" anymore.  I feel as though I have healed up from the hurt of recurrent miscarriage, and am so thankful for that.  (Of course, I am forever changed; but healthy again.) Furthermore, I'm a big believer in the power of positive thinking.  I am not a fan of those bloggers, writers on social media, or even just people in plain old conversation, who have a complaint about everything.  Like many of you, I'm getting tired of hearing about the latest thing that's offensive to someone else.  Sometimes, it seems like we have to constantly walk on eggshells.  

On the other side of the coin, however, sometimes I know the complainers are doing a public service.  I know from my experience with blogging, that sometimes I have been able to speak for others who aren't able to speak for themselves.  Most of the time they are just still too hurt to articulate themselves (or sometimes they are just too polite).  

So what's my point?  

Nothing continues to upset me like "gender reveal" announcements.  
Not that these parties, or social media announcements are in and of themselves evil.  But, I'm being honest here, they make my stomach flop. 

Maybe it is just me... let me give you the background here - just after I miscarried the first time (I was 16.5 weeks that time and my baby had Trisomy 18) - I was at work and a friend of mine was excited to see me. She immediately shared her story and pictures of her gender reveal party with her pregnancy.  (There was a bunch of family and friends and PINK everywhere!  Pink icing, Pink balloons... I think Pink balloons may have come out of a Pink cake?)  If I had still been pregnant, I would have been further along than she was, and throughout the whole conversation, I just held back the tears.  She didn't know I had recently suffered one of the biggest devastation's of my life, and she didn't recognize I was saddened by her story, because she was just so excited and enamored with her big news.  It really wasn't her fault, she didn't do anything wrong, but my heart sank nonetheless and I felt sick to my stomach.  Certainly it is less dramatic now, but that sensation has truly stuck with me. 

So, maybe it's just me. 

Interestingly, when I was pregnant the first time (just four short years ago) the typical timing to find out the gender of one's baby was at the 20 week (5 months) ultrasound.  Now, there are genetic tests that are widely available at 12 weeks (still first trimester where miscarriage rates are 1/3 - 1/5!) which can give this information.  In addition, highly sensitive ultrasounds are being done earlier and more often in pregnancies here in the US and parents are finding out sooner the gender of their precious cargo.  

Keep in mind, I'm speaking as a person who has never actually attended one of these parties.  My suppositions and judgements (yes, I'm being judge-y here) are from my broken (and potentially jealous) perspective based on my view of social media posts and stories alone. 

Mostly, the topic of gender reveal parties bothers me because I feel like it's the epitomy of our aggrandized first world society.  Often times, it doesn't look to me like it's the miracle of human life being celebrated.  I feel like it's a modern creation of one more reason to throw a party and check out pinterest.  Which, again, is not inherently evil.  In fact, I'm all for celebrating the small victories.  I just think we should focus on what's truly important, which is our growing family and the miracle of pregnancy, not pink onesies or tiaras.  Furthermore, I am not sure a gender reveal party is best shared with the whole (social media) world.  And, I wonder how wise it is to broadcast your celebration in this way when the baby isn't viable yet.  When the baby has four, five (or even six!) more months to grow inside you.  I understand wanting to know the gender and sharing it with family and friends.  I've done that too.  I recall everyone asking if "it" is a boy or a girl.  I know the desire to call him or her by name, even when he or she is not fully developed.  And, I absolutely believe in the child's person-hood even when previable.  But, I think we should each be part of a world and part of a society where we appreciate how complicated the miracle of life is.  We shouldn't take it for granted; and the very nature of the gender reveal party feels to me like it's taking for granted.  It looks like a boastful luxury, to me.  

In many parts of the world, a woman has NO access to ultrasound technology.  I once diagnosed twins on a woman in Costa Rica via doppler.  (Of course she was devastated, wondering how she would afford to take care of one, let alone two, babies.)  

Even in our part of the world, many parents lose their children even after they know the baby's gender.  Some of our friends never even get the luxury of seeing two pink lines.  The layers of loss for these women and men are deep.  On the surface it may seem trivial, but the joys that many take for granted are sources of heartache for some others.  Creating even more potential layers for loss for families with infertility just seems unfair.  

Now, I'm a firm believer that everyone who's pregnant deserves to enjoy the celebration of a baby shower, gifts from friends, and parties in her honor.  That's also a first world creation, but I understand and support those celebrations, because babies are indeed worth celebrating over!  We are fortunate to live in abundance and I absolutely love showering others with generosity during the exciting time of family growth!  I just think that these advertizements are one of the many ways in which social media does more harm than good, and I think gender reveal parties, and especially pictures of said parties, would be better left off the world wide web. 

In summary, healed though I may be, seeing pictures of gender reveal parties on social media hurts me.  

And, I doubt it's just me. 

[Consider this your public service announcement of the day ;)]

Monday, September 15, 2014

Adoption Bloggers


If you're looking for some great adoption bloggers, to hear stories or be inspired, this is a great place to start!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Worth the Wait

Although I'm not superstitious at all, it's been about a month since we've been matched, and I've been anxious that posting about it might be a jinx of some sort!

It's surreal and fantastic, and yet still somehow shrouded in a slightly uncomfortable layer of caution.  As is typical for me, I'm realistically optimistic.  I know, just like with my pregnancies, that there's a chance it won't work out.  Actually, 20-30% is probably a fair estimate for both.  And, I suspect if we do have a disruption, it will be even worse than the miscarriages.  But, I'm more hopeful than I was in my last few pregnancies, and I don't really feel like apologizing for that.   As has always been true through this journey, there have been a number of unusual, awkward and also plenty of joyful interpersonal conversations.  For instance, when I told someone and their response within two sentences included words of caution over "not getting too excited because these things fall through so often."  I thought immediately that if anyone ever said that to a woman in her second trimester that they'd get slapped across the face, and I resented that after all I've been through, that people still feel the need to warn me about how these things can go wrong.  Believe me, between my husband and I, we've dreamt of dozens of different heartbreaking scenarios, in addition to the fact that we've actually lived through a few minor heartbreakers ourselves.  We know these things can go wrong.  I have been guarded for long enough, I think I deserve to be hopeful now.

So this process of being matched with a woman in her second trimester isn't exciting in the exact same ways as being seven months pregnant oneself is.  But, as I read a favorite blogger I follow, where the longing of waiting for an adoption match feels so painfully palpable, I remember dimly that stage which was present in my life just one short month ago as if it were already a lifetime past.  I realize how free I have felt since we've been matched with our birthmother! 

I'm effortlessly happy.  About fifteen months ago, when I first began this blog and was actually unknowingly pregnant for the sixth time, I felt I was on the verge of a major depression.  Through God's grace, this blog, seeing a therapist, and having the most wonderful partner a girl could ever ask for, I've felt for at least nine to twelve months that depression is no longer a concern.  I have felt mentally healthy. 
[And let me say again, that the voice that this blog gave me was empowering and truly helped me recover in ways I never imagined.  I thank you, yes you the individual and you the collective, you who suffer in similar ways and you who are just simply empathic, you helped rescue me from depression.] 
And although I have felt with confidence that I was not depressed for these past several months, I now feel so differently than I did just one short month ago.  The only way I can really explain it is that it's effortless.  I don't have to work to be mindful as much as I did before.  I haven't had to consciously remind myself that this will be worth the wait.

Now, I know it will be worth the wait.  No, our wait is not over, but what remains of it feels weightless.  The light at the end of the tunnel has become visible and that has changed how everything around me looks.

One of the first ways I celebrated our news was by taking down some of the old decorations I've been hoarding in the nursery.  Three years ago when I was pregnant for the second time, I knew with a mother's intuition that I was carrying a baby girl, and with that started purchasing some decorations with a peacock theme.  I've held onto these, or should I say, latched onto them, tighter and tighter as the months have passed in anticipation and longing.  When we were matched, we were fortunate to find out that our birthmother is carrying a boy, and although I know there are no guarantees, I felt completely different about that old d├ęcor.  I actually moved it to our fireplace mantle in our family room.  It's beautiful stuff that I love and I am so happy we are finally using it.  It has a purpose now.  I had also bought peacock cards and am thrilled to finally be using them as thank you's to our supporters. 

Prior to this past month, I didn't see those decorations as burden, but now that they are on my mantle, I feel an uncanny sense of relief.  I suppose they were a burden I wasn't consciously aware of.

Finally, one of the most interesting "tells" is an intimate detail that hopefully won't be too weird for you to read -- it was recently when that time of the month came around...  I think I can say without exaggeration, that this past month was the first time in three years that I did not wonder, not for one second, during the days preceding, if I might be pregnant.  It just never crossed my mind. 

What a liberty.  I am free. 

Among the countless things I'm grateful for this month, one of the greatest is this sense of weightlessness.  This new freedom - thank you, God.  Thank you, birthmother. 

As is true with all superstitions, I know this post won't directly impact our adoption's outcome either way.  Nevertheless, I'm not sure how much more I'll write as we prepare.  (Although I do have one more post in mind about the incredible courage a birthmother who chooses adoption must have in her heart.)  I suspect there won't be much to say as these last months pass.  But you can be certain, that while I wait, there's the hint of an easy smile on my face; and I'm so thankful for that. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

We are God's masterpiece

I just had to share this wall art decal I just made on http://design.wallpraise.com/ where you can make a custom vinyl decal.  The webpage says you should use Firefox and this is correct, the fonts don't come through right on the typical browser.  But if you download Firefox it works easily and quickly.  Sorry the resolution of the picture isn't better, I couldn't a screenshot to take. 
At any rate, I stumbled upon Ephesians 2:10 during my son's vacation bible school a couple of weeks ago.  They did the "Weird animals" VBS theme and he loved it.  One of the animals was associated with this scripture and although I hadn't previously had this as one of my favorites, I instantly thought, what a perfect scripture for an adopted child! 
I know their life, just like mine, are an intertwined masterpiece designed by God. 

We're actually rewriting our "Dear Birthmother" letter to incorporate this line!

Monday, June 30, 2014

The View from Below

Waiting for an adoption is like hiking the Grand Canyon. 

Mind you, I haven't completed either, but from my modest experience with both, there are some shocking similarities. 

For those of you who haven't had the pleasure, hiking the Grand Canyon is wondrous.  Yes, the canyon looks beautiful from above.  Truly, one of the great wonders of our world.  A masterpiece of God's creation.  Definitely should be on your bucket list if it isn't already. 

My husband and I hiked a few miles of the Bright Angel Trail ~ past the 3 Mile Resthouse but not all the way to the Indian Gardens (which had been our goal), and it was the most memorable hike of my life.  It was also the hardest.  Of course, we were there in June and if you weren't already aware, the temperature goes up as you go down into the canyon.  At one of the thermometers we saw it was 117 degrees!  To sum it all up, we turned around early and were more exhausted than I ever remember being in my life.  Interestingly, we had seen many signs warning us of the hazards of the canyon and advertising the deaths that had occurred in the last year.  The very real danger was something the locals wanted us visitors to appreciate.  But it was weird to read, and unbelievable to us ~ a young invincible feeling couple ~ but of course it was true.  However, we believed it when we reached our nadir in the canyon (who knew going down could be so hard?!).  It was even more believable when we reached the top at last... and that night as I struggled to walk to dinner. But, it was worth it because the view of the canyon from below is even more fantastic than it is from above.  I don't have many pictures, but here is one where you can appreciate how different the vantage point of depth is from below.  Here, we were only a mile down or less.  I can only imagine what it looks like from the Colorado River!  It's got to be glorious!  (That is on my bucket list for some time in the very distant future.) 

So... What's this got in common with adoption? 

Well, adoption looks beautiful from the top, right?  Particularly from my family's vantage point, it's a generous solution to an otherwise unsolvable problem.  It seems to be part of God's design; however hard to understand.

But then you actually go on the sweaty, gritty, hike of adoption.  Although the challenges of adoption are written up in pretty good detail, not too dissimilar from the sign above from the Bright Angel Trail, the exhaustion that incurs on this hike is just as unbelievable from an adoption's onset as it was at the canyon's rim.  Much the same as before our trek down the canyon, we just didn't believe it would be that hard. 
We (deliriously!) thought we'd be somehow more visibly worthy of a miracle child than the next couple.  We thought, correctly, that the challenges of adoption would be easier than the threat of a sixth miscarriage.  But, of course, we haven't forgotten the parts of our journey that happened before we signed the adoption contract.  Although some might say we haven't been on the "list" for that long, in my book, the time spent longing for another child includes both the consecutive miscarriages as well as the wait of the perfect adoption match.  I can't really separate those waits.  And while Isaiah 40:31 encourages me, "But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength... they shall run and not be weary..." I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I've been growing weary.     

Unscathed, we press on.  (Yes, the analogy falls apart with the reported deaths on the Trail, there are certainly no reports of death by adoption... although I'd bet there is some marital strife for many... and I'm thankful we haven't had many major struggles there...)

Adoption continues to ask of us an inner endurance that tests my heart.  My daily prayer has been, "I trust You... but I want it now!"  And I laugh at myself, but I pray it again. 

Today, I pray that I'm in the third trimester of adoption.  I pray it's "any day now."  I remember fondly, how my labor with my son began - two days after my due date - with utter surprise, and I long for that day again.  I dream about 'match day' or 'gotcha day' and hope they're not far off. 

Truly, the view from this vantage point along the hike is beautiful.  I'm dependent on God in a way I probably have never been before.  The bond with my husband is stronger than ever, and I'm reminded of the sermon preached at my wedding regarding Ecclesiastes 4:12, "Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.  A cord of three strands is not quickly broken." 

The Great Wait, as one blogger I know calls it, is exhausting.  It rivals medical school in the delayed gratification category.  But I know, it will be worth it. 

When that day comes, I suspect none of this will even matter.  I bet I won't even really remember how it feels.  Which is part of why I wanted to write this today.  Because (hopefully soon) I will be one of those (annoying) people who can't remember how tiring this is ~ in very intangible, yet real ways.  And I don't write this to secretly snip at friends who haven't been attentive enough, there is no subtext here.  I just want to share, not so much for those of you out there who know and love me, but for those of you who might be struggling like me, that this is hard... you're not crazy... I feel it too. 

Lately, I've gathered strength from Philippians 1:6.  I took this picture at sunset over the Grand Canyon and I love the shadows through the expanse of the canyon.  Yes, adoption may be the longest hike of our lives, through unpredictable challenges and exhaustion that drags on, but I'm confident God has a plan for us and that it'll be worth it. 

Friday, May 2, 2014

What's in a number?

My second favorite thing my OB has ever said to me is, "statistics are for populations."  (My most favorite quote is something I've written about before, "this will always be part of your family story.")

Yes, statistics are for populations.  Although airplanes are one of our safest modes of transportation, if one of your family members was on the missing Malaysian airplane, they'd still feel pretty darn deadly to you. 

Apparently, autism rates have now skyrocketed to 1 in 88.  What a statistic. 
Until that statistic is your child, your family, your reality. 

Some say 1 in 3 pregnancies end in miscarriage, others say 1 in 5.  Either way, this is a heartache that touches many of us in a very real way.  Two-thirds of these losses occur due to chromosomal abnormality. 

One third of women over 35 have fertility problems. 
Fertility rapidly declines after age 37. 
1 in 2500 pregnancies have Trisomy 18. 

We say, what are the chances?  In wonder, in awe, in disappointment, in horror... that's a phrase I think most of us have said many times before. 

What are the chances... that your first pregnancy will be uneventful and healthy, your second will die of trisomy 18 at 16 weeks gestation, your third will be an early first trimester miscarriage, your fourth a trisomy 13, your fifth will also have a heartbeat only to die a few weeks later unexplained, and your sixth will be a blighted ovum.  I'm not sure exactly how the additive odds work, but I'd estimate the chances of this series of events are one in the millions. 

And yet, as I am that chance, that one in millions, it's a lot more than just a statistic, just a number. 

The truth is, it doesn't matter what the chances are.  It doesn't matter what the statistics say.  When your nursery is empty, when your family feels incomplete, the statistics do nothing to prepare you, or comfort your heart. 

Our adoption journey stumbles upon similarly confusing calculations.  What are the chances that someone who we haven't told will know we've adopted our second child?  What factors make that more risky?  How conspicuous will my family become?  ...Do I really care about any of that?

Statistics are for populations.
(Subtext here, you are not a population.  You are a human being; a unique family unit.)

My reality, well, ... it is, what it is.  Sometimes I hate that phrase (too), but could truer words be said?  My family's reality is one of fun-loving, adventuresome, comfortable days along an occasionally bumpy path of medical complexity. 

I can't find a support group for my journey, it's unique and I feel ever strongly that each of ours is.  I recently read a fertility blog where the woman wrote, "no one is talking about donor embryo IVF."  Actually, I happen to have a friend doing that.  We talked about it over dinner, just last week.  But I can guarantee you that there is no one talking about her story, her unique life circumstances, on blogs or support groups out there.  No one is talking about my story, but me.  Because I am one in millions.  You are one in millions.  There's not another like you. 

Isn't our uniqueness what makes this whole thing so hard?  If only, someone could relate.

Yet, isn't our uniqueness what makes life so beautiful? 

My partner and I, we are doing things our way, for our family.  For me, that's the epitome of the American dream.  Isn't that what we all live, work, and pray for? 

No, I am not in complete control.  This is not how I imagined it would look.  No, this is not what I expected.  I continue to come back to those grounding truths.  But, that doesn't make it bad.  That doesn't make it undesirable.  Those small pieces of our reality don't define me or my family.  They simply call for a greater resolve in me to live well.  Not by accident, but on purpose. 

To get up and purposefully, mindfully, appreciate the beauty.  To make this life beautiful even when parts of it aren't obviously so on their own.  To not be defined by that which I struggle with. 

As I trot towards my thirty-fifth birthday and weigh the incalculable odds surrounding a possible seventh pregnancy attempt, I vow to worry less about what the chances are, and more about what my current self and family unit truly want and need.

I suspect, I have only one chance at creating and enjoying an abundant family life, and odds are good that if I focus on that, I'll be just fine. 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Nesting while Adopting

Just the other day, my husband and I ate a soup from my deep freezer dated September 5, 2013.  Yes, that is seven month old soup.  Yes, I cooked it about a week or two after we signed the contract with our adoption agency.  Yes, I made soup deliberately so we'd have leftovers to save for when the baby comes. 

I guess we have to start eating them sometime... I think there are five or six more containers from throughout the fall and winter down there.... I'm running low on tupperware...

No, I'm not the obsessive compulsive type.  But, I do have the luxury of already having one kid and I know just how hard it can be to get dinner on the table with a new little on at home.  Freezing meals ahead of time is the best advice I can give an expectant new parent!

Interestingly, much of what I find online to guide adoptive parents about the process of adopting is geared towards first time parents.  Recently I stumbled upon an article about what to do during the adoption wait and I excitedly opened the link!... just to find recommendations like "take a long hot bath."  I do think I've done that once in the last three and half years so I guess that counts.

So it's not just the soup that I have to confess, I've also been doing some spring cleaning spurts.  I just realized the basement carpets need to be cleaned so I'll be adding that to the list.  A few months ago now, we painted the room.  It is decorated and ready. 

No, I have not washed the bottles.  I am not that crazy.

But yes, I want to Nest.  It must not be hormonal despite what you might read.  So what it is it? 

Dictionary.com says that Nest can be a noun or a verb.  My favorite of the noun definitions:
a snug retreat or refuge
The verb, to nest (my most favorite definition):
to fit together or within another or one another  
A few days ago, my son and I watched a bird pick up some dried grasses and fly up to a telephone wire, only to drop the nesting material when he landed.  My son was upset watching this and determined the birdie's load was just too heavy.  Yes, nesting can be heavy. 

After a lengthy search on the topic of nesting while adopting, I only found one good story, linked here.  I found a few articles written by women in other countries, but little except this one from an American, and the article I linked is actually written by a daddy which made it even more special!  Sadly, most of the rest of what I found is recommendations from many about not nesting before bringing home an adopted child.  These recommendations are based in fear; fear of a failed adoption.  Families who suffer from infertility and especially those who've endured the tragedy of neonatal loss, are reluctant to prepare their homes.  Women and men who have had baby showers only to lose their precious miracles know that heartache all too deeply.  And, I can't say I've been there, I'm thankful to have only read and heard about that kind of pain.  But, I do have decorations leftover from my second pregnancy which now adorn our new nursery; they are over two years old now.  Yes, nesting can be heavy. 

But what I do know, is that every baby needs a snug retreat or refuge

And I also know that every mother wants to create that for their child.  Biological or not, my child's home will be here in my home.  It needs to fit together with ours.  We need to make space.  Since we have the resources, we ought to be prepared. 

When I was pregnant, nesting, like virtually every other part of pregnancy was something to be celebrated.  Something to be ooo'ed and ahh'ed over.

So, I wonder, instead of instilling and propagating fear in men and women who have to or choose to adopt to grow their families, why don't we encourage joy? 

Call me wreckless, but I think we Americans are too full of caution, and not full enough of optimism.  Contrary to natural childbirth, I know adoption will bring my family a baby.  It may take two or three times as long as the typical duration of a pregnancy, but it will happen.  Prospective adoptive parents just need to be patient. 

Making soup keeps me occupied as the weeks and months drag on.  Making soup gives my nest an extra layer of safety and security so we know we'll be prepared when our big day comes. 

Nesting doesn't have to be hormonal, it's instinctual.  I shouldn't have to refer to my nesting as a "confession," when pregnant women get to boast about theirs on social media.  Adoptive parents are no different than any other kind of parent; we want, we need, we must, prepare a safe, healthy, beautiful, loving home for our children!  Plus, it's fun! 

I for one, am going to continue being excited to nest. 

My baby is going to love this snug retreat!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Better, when?

My second baby was due on March 17, 2012 and my third baby was due exactly one year later, also on St Patrick's Day, in 2013.  Unfortunately, both of those days have come and gone without an addition to our family.

My fourth pregnancy was joyful, until my seven week ultrasound when the baby's heartbeat was a little slow and their was some hemorrhage around him in my uterus. 

Seven weeks is early for an ultrasound, yes, but given my history, my OB thought it wise to get an early look. 

Just so you understand the timeline, this ultrasound took place during January 2013.  So, I was about 9 weeks, when Fasnacht Day came along on February 12, 2013 (see this wiki link for details about this neat Pennsylvania Dutch Holiday I married into, which is the day before Ash Wednesday {aka Fat or Shrove Tuesday} when you rid the house of fat and sugar by frying doughnuts. This is celebrated in a fantastic way by my mother-in-law.  We go there every year and spend all day eating more than we should (?preparing for the fast on Wednesday), and enjoying a host of family and friends that we don't see often enough.)  So back to Donut day (as I call it, for fear of misspelling), I knew this baby was sick and might not make it, but my pants were too tight and I knew I'd be eating too much, so I wore maternity pants.  It was a cute outfit but people noticed, and honestly I didn't really mind... because at that point, I wanted to be excited for the baby.  Maybe excitement would help them survive?  Questions came, and I fielded them just fine. 

Two short days later, we were back at the doctor's office to find that our baby didn't have a heartbeat anymore.  We were sad, and mad. 

It was one of those days that neither of us forget.  Although my husband couldn't have told you most of the details I've enumerated above, we both remember sitting on the curb atop the hill behind our hospital grappling with the unbelievable. 

"Who has three straight miscarriages?"  (Little did we know what the next 6 months would have in store... two more.)

When my tears settled, we realized we both were starving.  The nanny was with our toddler, so we might as well go get a bite to eat.  I didn't even care what I looked like in public, so we picked our favorite Thai place and drove across the bridge to get there.  Traffic was terrible and when we arrived, there was a line in this tiny place.  What is everyone doing here on a Thursday?

It was Valentines day. OH.

At any rate, why do I share this story now?  Well, first of all, I wasn't blogging back then; I was holding it all in.  But, yes, I also have a point. 

We'd been doing Sympto-thermal NFP with temperature charting and through all this, and I'd become incredibly in-tune with my own body, so I'd known exactly what day I'd ovulated on.  These days, who needs Naegele's rule anyway?
[LMP + 1 year] - 3 months + 7 days  
= due date 
I own one of these due date calculators (shown right), and even if you don't, it's easy to find Pregnancy due date calculator's online (linked is babycenter.com's version).  I doubt I'm the only one who's run to the calculator as soon as I saw the two pink lines. 

You see, when a family gets pregnant, they know they have a present inside.  The first, most natural question is, when do I get to open this present?  When do I get to meet him or her? 

The inevitable next step is dreaming and imagining that day and the days that follow, of when your baby will be born and how your family will grow.  Those are some of the most beautiful dreams I've ever dreamt. 

And so, when a woman has a miscarriage and she's in the midst of despair, she wants to know when it will get better.  Her husband and loved ones wonder, it'll be better, when? 

I tell you from my experience, it'll be better when they're pregnant again.  When there's another promise, another present that awaits them.  It'll be better when they feel full again.  As her previous due date approaches, it may feel like a due date to fix the problem; fill the hole.  The anxiety this produces is subconscious, involuntary.

As all my due dates have come and gone, and three otherwise insignificant holidays pass us by (Valentine's, Fasnacht and St Patrick's), I'm reminded of my losses. 
The memory of empty creeps in...

By God, they do not own me. 

I'm full, yes my cup overflows with blessings today.
[My gorgeous husband, son, home, health, faith, family.]

I'm full, yes I'm anxious with anticipation for the one to come; the completion of my family. 

Oh Lord,
We'll be better when...
We'll be better when we rest in you
Not just in heaven but here on earth too.
Give me rest in you.
Peace of mind and heart.
Patience for this journey,
which sometimes feels so rough.
But then I know,
You carry me.
Let me rest in you.
Give me true confidence
in your providence.
Complete my family
in your way
and in your time.
Oh Lord.

Friday, January 31, 2014

All the time

We bonded over the bedside.  A physical therapist walked in on me conversing with a patient in broken Spanish, her native language, and I think that gave her a soft spot in her heart for me.  Sure, it's best to communicate with patients in their own language and I happen to speak enough medical Spanish to get along, but it's rarely appreciated by other staff.  On this fond day of my memory, it was nice to be noticed and it seems like myself and this woman have had a special connection since then.  It made us a little more than work acquaintances. 

Today we ran into each other, after having not seen each other probably for months, and she asked how my baby was.  That happens often, which of course I appreciate, although it also causes me to wonder... does she know he's not a baby anymore?  Do people forget that he is 3 now, or do they think I have a baby too? 

At any rate, this was quickly followed by a, "don't you want to have another?"

"Yes, yes we do.  We have had really bad luck in that department."

She replied, "Well, keep trying... God is good."

I nodded and smiled, "All the time." 

Yes, God is good... all the time.
All. the. time.
God is good.

It's something you've probably heard in church somewhere sometime and I know I've heard it many times before, but I don't know if I've ever said it to someone in conversation and I'm quite certain I've never said it at work. 

Let me be clear: this coworker of mine did not offend me today. 

And yet, I can't get it off my mind.  I was glad I knew what to say back, for once.  (Although I'm fairly confident she didn't get my point.) 
I wished, though, that she had known what to say.  (But I know that's hard, very hard.)

This recurring statement, these repeated attempts at empathy that I continue to experience, cause me to wonder... why.  Why do Christians, why good people who care about us, continue to repeatedly insist that we keep trying.  What is it about trying? 

Just like my sister-in-law isn't less of a women without a man, my husband and I aren't less of a family without 2.5 children.  I am so sick of listening to what the world tells us we need to have.  

[As if elf on the shelf and valentines at preschool weren't bad enough,
I will not be pressured into wanting to try anymore if I don't want to try anymore. 
In fact, I do want to try more.  But only if it's going to be successful,
and if that can't happen then I want to quit trying. 
Quitting trying will not make me less of a woman or wife. 
Quitting trying will not make me less of a Christian.]

I'm a firm believer that miscarriage and infertility are not God's work.  They're a product of our broken and fallen world.  He's not up there smiling down when babies die or celebrating some of my dear friends who never get to see two pink lines.  It was most certainly not His design for our sex lives to revolve around a thermometer. 

We cannot deny our imperfect humanity.  Science, medicine and the disease and despair that come with them are facts of life.  And yet, God is good, all the time. 

God is good, all the time.  He's good when babies die.  He's good when our hopes go unrealized.

I'm not angry when people suggest that we keep trying, I just don't understand it, especially not when they invoke God's name as a reference point for why we shouldn't stop trying. 

Maybe God wants my husband and I to start trying to travel!  Maybe he wants couples all over the world to stop focusing on what they don't have and start focusing on what we do. 

In my opinion, insistence that we keep trying
suggests that God will be good when _xx_ happens. 
No... God is good, all the time. 

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I can't find in the bible where God tells us he'll give us every one of our personal goals and desires.  When our hope truly is in Him, we should stop trying so hard to accomplish our own agenda.  If there comes a time in our lives when we realize this, then it's ok to toss in the towel.  When our hope truly is in Him, we need to discern what exactly He wants from us and get on with it.  Why are my Christian brothers and sisters trying to tell me otherwise?  Why do they suggest I stay in some rut? 

Friends, if you're not ready to stop trying, then don't.  By all means, keep trying, because God is good.

But if you're not sure you're on the right course.  If your heart doesn't feel full, ask God what He wants to fill it with. 

God is good.  All the time. 
Let's be sure we're talking to him to find out what good He wants for us today. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


As a mother I often fret about my son growing up in a world or attitude of entitlement.  It's a very real issue that I suspect will only become tougher to strive against as the years go on.

At the same time, I'm thankful I'm not part of that 'entitlement' generation.

Wait, what? 

Maybe I'm too old to be a Milenial, by definition. 
    Maybe I know what it means to work hard for what I earn and desire.
        But, let's face it... I'm a little entitled too.  Call it what you want...

This is a intermittent and revolving thought process that's definitely something I struggle with.  (And if you don't think it's something you struggle with, maybe you aren't thinking hard enough.) 

On the one hand, when I think about my unrealized parenting dreams, I feel it's unfair.  "I deserve more." 

On the other hand, I know from having visited and worked briefly in the developing world, that what I have is abundance.  And it's not just the baby monitors and multiple roomed house kind of abundance; I've also been abundantly blessed with my family planning.  I have incredible access to resources, bloodwork, ultrasounds, medicines that have kept me healthy in pregnancy, skilled physicians to perform D&E's and C-sections under sterile conditions.  I enjoy a free society where I appreciated an Aunt who taught us NFP.  There are treatments that although I've opted against are certainly at my disposal. 

I know that those who 'have not' often have a sense of contentment that those of us who 'have' (been priveledged to grow up in the United States) will never be able to capture or fully understand.  The look of sheer joy that comes from a soccer ball will hopefully be something I never forget.  But, again it's not just material things... it's hard to articulate, but the godly people I've met in Central America and Africa have had this undeniable life attitude of "enough."  They don't constantly compare themselves, their children or their husbands to others around them.  They don't struggle with self pity.  The mothers in these situations are perhaps my greatest inspiration.  Take this woman, here:   

Uganda, BMCF, 2008

I'll never forget her story - herself, her husband, the baby she holds and all her children are HIV+.  I remember her telling me about how her husband would never consider using condoms to prevent pregnancy or transmission of disease.  They as parents know that their disease will be perpetuated in their children and there is nothing she can do to prevent it because her husband won't allow anything different.  And although she shared with me sadness for her children's condition, she didn't complain about her husband.  She simply came to our clinic in secrecy to do the little she could to protect her children from illness.  She truly seemed content in the midst of great struggle. 

Most days (most hours of the day), I'm content as well. But even the faintest hint of discontentment seems ridiculous from this perspective. God has given me more than I deserve. 

My family planning situation may not be what I imagined it would be, but it only feels unfair when I compare it to my friends who've had several successful consecutive pregnancies.  When I compare it to the woman above, it seems more than fair. 

Of course, that begs the question, why do we feel the need to compare?  

In short, I am blessed in ways I have never even acknowledged.  Yes, I continue to worry about bearing a child with a fatal trisomy.  But, never once have I worried about my children being born with an incurable infectious disease.   Furthermore, in my little corner of the world, we have seemingly infinite access to resources to help us solve our family planning problems.  Yes, it might require most of our savings to adopt a baby, but we have those savings.  Praise God.  We live in a society with a robust legal system where adoption is possible (albiet cumbersome).  Thank you, Lord.  The list of examples of abundance could go on for paragraphs but that might get tedious... 

I am growing a healthy family.

Praise God indeed. 

Dear Lord,
Today and throughout my entire life,
I've been fortunate.  Privileged.
Save me and those like me from self pity.
Jealousy should have no home in my heart. 
Help us to appreciate our abundance in new ways
each and every day that we get to enjoy your glory.
Help us move towards contentment.
Mindful of the moment,
every comfortable, blessed moment.
Help us to keep our struggles in perspective.
We trust you with this and everything.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

A Pregnant Belly

I know it won't matter then.  But one of this world's great mysteries, one of the things I'd like to ask God when I get to the other side, has always been why there are so many unwanted pregnancies and yet so many families who want to be pregnant but cannot. 

In the early 1970s, one of the main points of law that our Supreme Court focused on when deciding Roe v Wade was the woman's right to privacy.  And no matter how you feel about their ruling, it's true, pregnant women have no privacy.

When I was pregnant it was fun at first, but then I found myself complaining.  I'd joke with a work friend who doesn't have kids, saying, "I just need to make myself a t-shirt with my due date and 'it's a boy' written on it, so people will stop asking me questions."  I didn't like strangers touching me.  At six months, a female patient told me I must have twins in there I was so big.  A month later a male patient told me I looked like a house.  I knew it silly to complain about, but I really couldn't go anywhere without some commentary.

How must women with unwanted pregnancies feel?  I can't even imagine. 

Oh, what I wouldn't give for a little commentary now. 

In that first pregnancy, I had a good friend who was in the process of adopting.  Her son is one day older than mine now.  I did my best back then to check in about her progress because I knew when I walked onto the ward where she worked that everyone gushed over me.  I wondered how she felt about that.  Did anyone gush over her?  Without a belly to show off, I doubted that. 

Waiting for an adoption is full of hope and wonder.  It promises new life that'll change ours in ways we can't expect.  I'm optimistic and excited. 

But waiting for an adoption is also quiet.  Man, I miss the belly.  I'm thankful I had that experience and sorrowful for those who never have such good fortune.  I didn't know I'd long for those days again.  Ladies, I'm begging you, don't take it for granted.  Those ultrasound pictures you get/choose to post online, the loving folks who are just curiously excited for you: drink it up.  Be thankful.  Be joyful.

Be kind.  Be also mindful and empathic of the men and women around you.  With or without a belly, they might have something worth hoping and gushing for too.