Monday, December 31, 2012

Two Thousand Thirteen

As I mentioned last year, New Years Eve is not my favorite holiday.  The good news is that I'm not the least bit stressed out about it this year because, let's face it, the only way I'm making it up til midnight tonight is if I'm nursing a fussy baby.  And I'm a-ok with that.  In fact, I cannot think of a better way to ring in the new year.

I'm feeling uncharacteristically optimistic about this holiday and the year ahead.  It may be because we accomplished so much in 2012.  In fact, 2012 may just go down as one of the best years we've ever had.  Our lives were picked up, shaken around, and then unceremoniously dumped upside down in a way that made them virtually unrecognizable to us.  And as someone who isn't crazy about change, this should have completely thrown me for a loop -- but it didn't.  I'm loving every minute of this.  I've loved almost every minute of this past year, from the day we found out I was pregnant, to the day I realized I no longer had any ankles, until the day my ankles miraculously reappeared.  I would do every single second of this past year over in a heartbeat.  I guess that's a sign of a year well lived.

2012 was notable in big ways (welcome to the world Henry Allan!) but in smaller ways that we didn't dwell much on.  In October, I graduated from college.  I didn't just graduate, I kicked college's butt.  I exited with a 4.0 GPA - which is nothing short of miraculous if you know anything about my first attempt at college 15(ish) years ago.  It's amazing what a little perspective and maturity can do.  I took the long way to get here, and unfortunately that means I'll be paying off student loans for the next infinity, but I'm proud of this accomplishment and the opportunities it will open up for me.  I worked hard for this.

Todd found a permanent position in 2012 after almost two years of unemployment.  This was a tremendous weight off our shoulders and an amazing opportunity for Todd.  It's been a challenging transition and career change for him, but he's been thriving and has tackled all the challenges thrown his way with determination and grace.  The two years of unemployment gave us some perspective on all of this and we're incredibly grateful that this opportunity was given to us.  It couldn't have been more timely.  In fact, if you look at all the gifts we've been given and goals we've accomplished this year, it's not difficult to see God's hand in all of this - how He literally paved the way for Henry's arrival.  It's pretty awe inspiring when looked at from that angle.

We're feeling very blessed.  It's been a tremendous year and we're feeling very hopeful and optimistic about the year ahead.  We'll ring in 2013 in a quiet, sleep deprived, unremarkable way - but it's the most satisfying way I've ever welcomed a new year. 

Wishing all of you the same "cup runneth over" feeling on this night and the year ahead.  Happy New Year everyone!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Henry Allan

I'm embarrassed that it's taken me so long to get around to writing Henry's birth story.  I've actually tried to start it a couple of times, but wound up getting interrupted and having to abandon the attempt.  A text from Todd, sent at 2:30 this morning, let me know that it's time to get this out in blog form - before we forget all the gory details.  So -- here we go...

Monday, December 3, 2012.

It was just supposed to be a routine check-up.  I had been going in for weekly (sometimes bi-weekly) biophysical profiles for about 6 weeks and we had passed every single one with flying colors.  Sometimes the ultrasounds were only 5 minutes long as the baby performed all the required life skills in such a short time that we were in and out quickly and with little drama.  I'd skated by all the tests before this and just days before had passed another urine protein test that said I didn't have pre-eclampsia.  I was 37 weeks and 2 days pregnant and up until that point everything had gone perfectly.  I distinctly recall saying - as I was leaving work for the appointment - that I wasn't going to have a baby that day.  I'd be back.  I left everything at work - my car, my lunch and caught the shuttle downtown for my early afternoon appointment.

I remember sitting in the waiting room feeling Henry (then Nerdlet) squiggling around.  Everything felt so normal.  So it wasn't terribly concerning to me when we got back to the ultrasound room and they couldn't get the baby to respond.  We saw good heartbeat.  We saw good fluid levels.  But Henry wouldn't practice breathing and he wouldn't move.  They tried jiggling my belly.  They tried using a buzzer to startle him into moving.  He responded to nothing.  Two techs tried to get him to respond - and then they went to consult with the doctor.  When they came back in they handed me some weirdly indistinguishable pictures and sent me back out to the lobby to re-check in to see the doctor.  I was seeing a new doctor.  This wasn't unusual by now since I was coming in so often, I had seen MANY new doctors.  So when this new doctor came in and sat down, I still wasn't really concerned.  I'm setting this all up to show you how completely blindsided  I was when she said to me "we need to get your baby out today."

As the smile melted off my face I stuttered out a "what does that mean, exactly."
"It means you need to have an emergency c-section today.  Your baby got a 2 out of 8 on the biophysical profile.  It's in distress.  We need to take the baby."
"Do I have time to go home first?"
"No.  We're going directly to Labor & Delivery.  I'll walk you over there."

It was at this point that I stopped being able to hold it together.  I was SO not expecting this.  I figured my baby was just sleeping.  The baby hadn't always been the most cooperative when they tried to get him to do things, and I had FELT movement less than a half hour before the actual ultrasound.  I wasn't worried.  I didn't recognize an emergency.  And - just like that - I was terrified.  I was crying uncontrollably - which made for a super fun walk over to L&D.  On top of that, I had no idea how to get ahold of Todd.  I wasn't prepared for this.  Todd was at work and I'd never had to contact him at work before.  It all happened so fast - they walked me over and checked me in, handed me a gown and told me to put it on and they would hook me up to some monitors.  I didn't even know where to begin.  I tried Todd's cell phone but of course, got no answer because he was working.  I had to call my own co-worker (sobbing) and ask her to look up Todd's number for me.  When I finally left a message for him to call me back, the nurse came running over and gave me a big hug.  "You look like you need one of these right now."  Then she hooked me up to the monitors and settled me in to bed.  A few minutes later Todd called and I let him know to come straight to L&D -- we were having a baby.  And then....we waited.

About a half hour later the doctor on duty came in and performed another ultrasound in the room. After a few minutes of this, he finished up and left the room but came back a short time later looking puzzled, and said "I'm not sure what's going on here.  We've never seen anything like this.  I'm not exaggerating when I say that based on these monitors, you have the healthiest baby on the floor right now.  So - I'm not sure how to reconcile that with the 2 out of 8 biophysical profile.  I'm not sure what could have caused that because he just scored a 8 out of 8 now.  Maybe the baby was laying on its umbilical cord cutting off its own oxygen or something.  Or maybe it was just sleeping deeply.  In any case, I don't think we need to rush you in for an emergency C-section, but based on what we have in your file now, along with the hypertension - I think we will induce you slowly."

What a relief to hear that the baby was okay.  And at that point we agreed that it was time to get the baby out -- as long as there was no distress, we would let it go at its own pace.  But because we had the fear of God in us now - we were ready to move forward with this.  So - several hours after I was rushed to Labor & Delivery for an emergency C-section, we started Pitocin to induce labor.

Aaaaaaaand, my body didn't respond.  The nurses kept coming in to increase the dosage and promising me that at some point, I wouldn't be smiling at them anymore when they came in.  That never happened.  They'd maxed out what they could give me before getting a doctors approval to give me more, and the most I was feeling was a little pressure. No pain.  Not really even any discomfort.  I'd heard terrible horror stories about pitocin so I was expecting excruciating pain and was puzzled why I wasn't feeling that.  My body was just not ready.  So - the doctors regrouped and came up with a new plan.

My cervix needed ripening. 

There are a couple of ways that this can be done.  Because of the bad biophysical profile, they weren't sure how the baby would respond to the drugs to ripen the cervix.  And once the drugs were given, there was no way to stop them.  So - in light of this - they decided that the best way to ripen my cervix was also the most painful and barbaric way.  They inserted a Foley catheter

Prior to this we'd had some discussion about how uncomfortable this was going to be.  Despite having many surgeries throughout my life, I didn't really have a good idea of how my pain tolerance was.  I didn't really have anything to compare it to.  The doctors told me that some people have no problem with the Foley catheter, and some people have such a tough time with it, they wind up getting an epidural.  When they first inserted it, I wasn't sure what the big deal was.  Then they began tugging on it.  Every time they tugged I'd have about 10-15 minutes of excruciating pain and then it would subside and I would relax -- and then they'd come in and tug at it again.  This went on for hours - until it finally came out about 5:30 a.m. on Tuesday (12/4) morning.  At that point they checked my cervix for the first time and - after all of that, I was dilated only to 2.   It hadn't worked. 

By this time they had many hours of data showing that the baby was healthy and not at all in distress.  My cervix was still not ready and until it was, I wasn't likely to respond to the pitocin.  At this point, they decided that it was probably safe to give the medication.  They went with Cytotec - which is inserted into the uterus and then takes 4 hours to work.  I had 4 doses of the Cytotec.  That means we spent about 16 hours sitting around waiting for my cervix to ripen.  At the end of that 16 hours, they checked me again and found that I was dilated to 4. 

At this point we were about 36 hours into this induction and we had made hardly any progress.  It was Wednesday morning (12/5) and our doctor (our real doctor) came in to talk to us about the possibility of letting us go home.

That did not go over well for a couple of reasons.  Most of what I had already been through had been thoroughly unpleasant.  No WAY was I going to come back in in a week and go through it all again.  Additionally, I hadn't been afraid before I was admitted to the hospital.  But the fact that THEY, the medical professionals, were concerned enough about me to admit me made me terrified.  What happened at that ultrasound was most likely a fluke, but what if it wasn't.  What if they sent me home and something happened?  How would I live with myself?  So, ultimately the doctor asked us if we were just going to be stressed out and freaking out the whole time if they sent us home -- we answered that we absolutely would.  She consulted with some other physicians and ultimately told us that if she were in private practice, she would not send us home.  so that is how she made the decision.  We were going to proceed as planned.

At that point, we started pitocin again.
THIS time - I responded.

They'd increased my Pitocin levels about 3 times before I was finally uncomfortable enough to consider an epidural.  I was hesitant because I didn't want to get it too soon, but I also didn't want to get it too late and have my pain get out of control.  So first we tried a narcotic meant to relax me so that the contractions weren't so strong.  It basically made me feel drunk and sleepy and lasted for approximately a half hour before reality came crashing back in.  At that point we realized that there probably wasn't another way around it.  It was time for an epidural.

Let me tell you - I had always planned to have an epidural.  I'm not a hero.  There are no rewards for going through labor without pain management.  And I have always, always been afraid of the pain.  However, the only thing I was afraid of almost equal to my fear of the pain - was the epidural.  I'd heard lots of people tell me that by the time you're getting the epidural, it's not that scary anymore.  The pain outweighs the fear.  I still told the anesthesiologist that I was afraid though, and he took the time to tell me all the reasons not to be afraid.  He walked me through exactly what was going to happen and exactly what I would feel.  I've heard some horror stories about anesthesiologists who were not wonderful, but that was not my experience.  It's actually never been my experience in all the surgeries I've ever had -- the anesthesiologists are always the best.  This was no exception.  They injected Lidocaine into my back (which almost made me leap off the bed into the nurses arms) and then after that I felt only pressure.  It wasn't pleasant, but it wasn't painful.  It didn't take long and then they sat me back into bed and I felt my lower half slowly go numb.  Not numb, exactly, but...dull.  I could move my left leg side to side but I could no longer lift it.  I felt the pressure of touch but not the physical sensation.  It was the weirdest feeling I've ever had, and also the most wonderful.  I no longer felt my contractions.  I was thoroughly relaxed.  And so, around 10 p.m. on Wednesday (12/5) I fell into a peaceful sleep.

Before I fell asleep they had checked me and I was dilated to 6.  I had been dilated to 6 most of that day.  We were starting to get a little nervous that after ALL of this, I was going to need a C-section. They had broken my water earlier that day, so I was on borrowed time. 

I woke up shortly before midnight extremely uncomfortable.  It felt like extreme bladder pressure so I figured I needed my bladder emptied.  I called the nurse to have the catheter team sent in.  In the meantime, I noticed that I was feeling my contractions again.  I was also shaking uncontrollably and feeling panicky.  At this point it'd been over 3 days since we were admitted for our "emergency c-section" and I was done.  I was at my wits end.  As the nurses promised me - I was no longer smiling.  The nurse promised me that these were good signs and that the doctor would be in in about an hour and a half to check me.  About 20 minutes later I realized that an hour and a half wasn't going to cut it.  So the doctor came to check me, and I was dilated to 9!  Progress!  The anesthesiologist was called in to help manage the pain and panic and she administered some miracle drugs that stopped the shaking and allowed me to feel my contractions without the excruciating pain of them.  I proposed to her.  She was fantastic. 

About an hour later, it was go time.  They gave me a brief tutorial on how to push.  Hooked me up so some more monitors for my blood pressure and then we set to the business of delivering a baby.  One of the doctors let me know that the pushing could take a while.  I told her that as long as it didn't take 3 days, we'd be okay.  She told me "not 3 days, but maybe 3 hours..."  Determined not to push 3 hours after the marathon induction we'd had - I pushed like nobody's business.  Henry Allan was born about 30 minutes later, at 3:08 a.m. on Thursday, December 6.  I'd been pushing so hard and they asked for one more -- I told them I couldn't and then, out of nowhere, they plopped this gorgeous baby boy on my chest.

I had been pretty convinced it was a girl.  I was surprised to see this furry little guy on my chest.  He did some squawking and then curled up and fell asleep on me as if it was the most natural thing in the world.  I had him curled up on my chest while the doctors took care of all the "after" work that they had to do.  Finally they took him to weigh him (6 lb 11 oz) and measure him (19 inches). 

We were transferred to the post-partum unit around 6 a.m. and spent almost that whole day introducing Henry to his family and friends.  Typically for a vaginal delivery the hospital stay is 2 days long.  Henry didn't think this was long enough though, and he bought us an extra day and a half by losing too much weight.  We had some struggles initially with breastfeeding and my milk coming in.  Henry lost about 12% of his (already bitty) body weight in the hospital and they wouldn't let us leave before they saw a turnaround.  All told, we spent almost an entire week in the hospital between the induction and the post-partum.  It never felt so good to get home. 

Going home!
Going home - though a huge relief, was also really scary.  But we've settled into life here.  We're completely smitten by this little guy, as is just about anyone who has met him so far.  He's a little squawker and a grunter, but he's a good sleeper (in that he's not a sensitive sleeper -- he's very tolerant of noises, which is convenient for us and our two barking dogs).  Speaking of the dogs - I was a little worried about how they would adjust, but they seem to be doing okay.  Oliver could pretty much care less.  He's much more worried about when he's going to get his next treat than the baby.  Daisy gets concerned about Henry - she doesn't like it when he cries.  She sets up guard in front of him until he settles down.  I think these two will be best friends someday. 

Todd goes back to work tomorrow, which will be another new adjustment for us.  We've been taking shifts at night ensuring that we each get about 5 hours of sleep at a time.  That will probably end now.  We're hoping that it won't be too long before Henry's sleep habits get a little more predictable so we are better able to plan around them. 

So - there you have it.  It's a long story, but it's got a happy ending.  We could not be more in love or more thrilled with this new addition to our family.  Hands down, the very best Christmas gift we could have asked for.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Full Term

Today I am 37 weeks pregnant.

You know what that means?  It means I'm officially considered full term.  It means that if labor starts today, nobody's going to try to stop it.  In fact, they'll probably encourage it.  It means that Nerdlet will do just as good outside of my belly as he/she is doing inside of my belly.  It also means that we're going to be meeting little Nerdlet -- soon! 

Nerdlet is still looking fantastic in there.  I had an appointment yesterday where we saw breathing, heartbeat, movement, and blinking!  This baby passes every biophysical profile with flying colors - and even my amniotic fluid levels have fallen back into place with 11 cm measured at the last two appointments (a vast improvement over the 6 we were looking at before).  Last week Nerdlet had flipped transverse which was both uncomfortable and a little alarming, but this week we're back to being head down and cooperative.  In fact, in a rare show of cooperation with the ultrasound tech - we got one of the best pictures of Nerdlet's little face yesterday (it's a picture of a picture -- so not the greatest quality - but I still think you can pretty clearly make out that little face):

I can't stop staring at it.  Those little lips and nose -- I just want to squish them! 

My own body's tolerance of this pregnancy is starting to wane.  I'm pretty uncomfortable by now.  My back has begun to protest and I am finding it impossible to get comfortable in any one position for very long.  I can't sleep for more than two hours at a time, and last night I had my first experience with pregnancy induced insomnia.  It didn't last long, thankfully.  I think Nerdlet was just hungry.  One piece of pizza later, and I was blissfully snoring away again (until Daisy licked my face around 6:30 this morning). 

My blood pressure has been slowly but fairly steadily climbing in the last couple of weeks.  At my appointment yesterday they were concerned enough by that, plus the increase in fluid retention I've been experiencing, that I was rewarded with a 24 hour urine collection to check for protein.  My understanding is that if I fail this test, Nerdlet is coming much much sooner than later.  Like days, instead of weeks.  Like maybe even one day.  I don't even know how that would work, so I'm spending my time sending positive vibes to my urine (which believe me, is not a sentence I ever thought that I'd write) that we pass this test.  However, regardless of this test - we found out yesterday that they will not allow me to carry this baby past 39 weeks.  So - whether we meet Nerdlet tomorrow, or 2 weeks from tomorrow -- this baby is coming SOON.  Before Christmas!  We are as prepared as we're going to be from an organizational standpoint.  The challenge now is to wrap our brains around it. 

For so long it seemed like I wished this pregnancy away. We spent so much time reaching for the next milestone, holding our breaths until we hit it, and then setting our sights on the next one and now, suddenly, it's HERE. And oh my gosh - this is a game changer! We are beyond excited -- and scared, and nervous. tells me that Nerdlet is about the size of a watermelon right now - so...that's fun to think about!  We've been given a lot of support, education, and good advice - but the bottom line is that when it's something you've never experienced before there is no really effective way to prepare for it.  Like every major life change - you just have to dive in and do it.  So - that's where we are.  Enjoying these last days when it's just the two of us, and readying ourselves for this major cliff dive into parenthood. 


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thankful Heart

I don't think I ever truly understood the value of a day, until I had this baby inside of me and suddenly every day makes a tremendous difference.  These days, every return to work from my last doctor's appointment feels like a victory.  We made it another day!  I spend a lot of my time lately giving thanks.  It seems we have a lot to be thankful for.

I read over my Thanksgiving entry from last year.  Almost every thing I was thankful for then, I continue to be thankful for now - if not more so.  It's unbelievable how much our lives have changed in one year - and even more unbelievable how much they're going to change again in the next year.  It's almost impossible for me to wrap my brain around. 

It's so easy to get bogged down in the fear and unrest of life.  With all the changes come hundreds of unknowns that cause all kinds of anxiety and stress.  Financial concerns, health concerns, state of the world concerns.  "Oh dear Lord this baby has to come out of me somehow" concerns and  "what in the name of God will we do if our child becomes goth" concerns.  But this day is about putting those aside and focusing on all the hundreds of ways we have to be thankful.  My heart is so thankful for all the ways that we have been blessed.  Here's a few highlights:

I am thankful for Todd - every day, even on the days he makes me crazy.  I'm thankful for his sense of humor that keeps me laughing and keeps me grounded in the midst of all this crazy change.  I'm thankful for his patience and understanding, his concern and the gentle care he takes of me as my body changes, my hormones surge out of control, and my emotions take these crazy rollercoastery twists and turns throughout the day.  I'm thankful for the dad he's going to be to Nerdlet, and the parenting partner he's going to be for me.  I'm proud of the team we make and am so thankful that we are growing and strengthening as our family grows.

I am thankful for our families and our friends -- all of whom have shown us a tremendous amount of support first in our adoption journey, and now on this pregnancy journey.  Sometimes it seems like they are more excited than we are (although that can't possibly be the case)!  What an amazing network of love, security, and support we have been given.  We are humbled and strengthened by the thoughts, prayers, enthusiasm, excitement, support, and love that has been shared with us - not only during this time in our lives, but always.

I'm still thankful for these big, goobery, slobbery dogs.  My crotchety old man who tries to keep us all in line, and my goofy little girl who loves to snuggle, torture the crotchety old man, and sniff cat butt.  These are our first babies, and they are good babies.  There is still something magical about having a waggily tail greet you at the door every time you open it - even if you were only outside for 5 minutes.  It seems that every reunion is a monumental deal for a dog.

And - okay, I guess I'm still thankful for the cats.  Sometimes they are not so bad, and they've stayed out of the baby's stuff so far.

I'm thankful for my job, and the flexibility it affords me.  I'm thankful for co-workers who have been through the last year of my life with me every step of the way and shown me nothing but encouragement, support, understanding, and a genuine wish for our well being.  Everyone should be so lucky. 

I'm thankful (so thankful) to be done with school.  It took me longer than the average bear (that's a story for another post) but I finally tucked my head down and plowed through it.  School officially ended at the end of October and I wrapped it up with a 4.0 GPA.  My diploma should arrive sometime next month.  It should go without saying how unbelievably proud I am of myself for this accomplishment, but also how thankful I am that I was able to do it when I did it, and that I did it well.

I'm thankful for Nerdlet.  That probably goes without saying.  I'm thankful for all the ways this baby has already changed our lives, and all the ways it's going to change our lives in just a few more weeks.  I am thankful for every wiggle, nudge, flip, turn, poke, jab, bladder kick, and rib punch because it means my baby is growing and thriving in there.  I'm thankful that my body has held out this long, better than I ever expected it to, better than anyone - it seems - ever expected it to.  I'm thankful that Nerdlet passes every biophysical profile with an 8/8, that our fluid levels have held steady (and - as of this week - risen to more normal levels) and that everything else is currently looking okay.  I'm thankful that Nerdlet has allowed me to experience this rite of passage.  I was prepared to not have this and would have happily found motherhood through adoption, but I wouldn't trade the gifts that Nerdlet has given me for anything in the world.

It has been a tremendous year.  We are making a tremendous life.  It's not perfect, it never will be, but it's more than enough.  My heart is so full to bursting with gratitude for all we have been given and all that's still to come.  Happy Thanksgiving everyone! 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Time Marches On

We hit 34 weeks this weekend!

It's hard to believe how close we are to meeting this baby now.  Weeks.  And, for the longest time I have thought I was ready - way more ready to deal with the worry of this baby outside my belly rather than the worry of this baby inside my belly but now that we're getting closer I'm not so sure.  We are just weeks away from the biggest life change we've ever experienced.  I'm not sure anyone's ever really ready for this.

We've been spending the last couple of weeks getting prepped for the baby. My dear friend from North Carolina flew into town for my baby shower and I immediately put her to work helping me make some freezer meals so that we have something on hand after the baby is born.  I have never done anything like that before, so there is some question as to whether or not these meals will be edible, but it feels good knowing I have something on hand, and we had a lot of fun prepping them!

I had two baby showers in which Nerdlet was spoiled with fantastic gifts coupled with the kind of warm wishes that I couldn't even read in public due to the ugly crying.  My loved ones were able to put their amazing creativity to work in fun ways like -- the diaper wreath:

 The diaper cake:

The diaper motorcycle ridden by a stuffed frog:

The flower arrangement made with little washcloths and bibs:

....and more.  So much more.  In fact, those of you loved ones reading this should not be offended that you didn't make the pictorial.  I don't think the internets is big enough for all the wonderful things we received. 

The baby showers in and of themselves were a kind of milestone for me.  I remember when we picked the dates I had been hesitant because, as always, I have expected the worst.  I figured i'd be on bed rest by now or - in a worse case scenario - would be caring for my preemie.  We hit the baby shower dates with no problem and Nerdlet is still squirming away in there.

At my appointment 2 weeks ago my doctor became concerned with a low level reading on my amniotic fluid.  I've been seeing more than one doctor throughout this pregnancy and it's amazing at what a difference there can be between them.  The one didn't think much of it, the other immediately scheduled a bunch of tests to make sure everything is okay in there.  So - this past week I had a non-stress test to measure Nerdlet's neurological activity, and then a biophysical profile to measure Nerdlet's growth, breathing, and amniotic fluid.  Nerdlet passed all tests with flying colors - except the amniotic fluid test.  In fact, in the week between my doctor's concern and the second test, the fluid levels had dropped even more.  However, Nerdlet is currently measuring just over a week ahead and the doctor we saw last week (a new doctor, of course) said that the main concern with low amniotic fluid levels is that baby isn't being properly nourished and/or isn't growing.  Since we're measuring ahead, that doesn't appear to be the case, so he wasn't too worried.  However, to be on the safe side, he scheduled another biophysical profile for this coming week. So - Nerdlet has another test ahead and I'm hoping that we'll sail through this next one just as smoothly.

My good friend google tells me that the result of low amniotic fluid levels is sometimes bed rest.  And if levels get too low, sometimes they will take the baby.  So - my honeymoon period with this pregnancy is being threatened.  On the bright side, we've made it very far so if bed rest happens at this point, it won't likely be for long.  We'll see.  As always, prayers are appreciated!

Other than that, things are still going relatively smoothly.  I had a pretty nasty cold that I finally seem to be shaking.  This marks the second cold of this pregnancy, for those of you keeping score.  And this one was way worse.  I wound up on antibiotics due to some squeakiness in my lungs.  I'm happy to say that they seem to have helped tremendously.  I may not be coughing this baby out after all (as I had feared and, at one point, dreamed). 

Only 6 more weeks to go til my due date - with the holidays just around the corner, we know how quickly that is going to fly by.  At some point I'm going to have to stop being in denial about how this baby comes out of me (the baby classes are helping with that) - my brain leaves an empty space between feeling Nerdlet squirming around in my belly and feeling Nerdlet squirming around in my arms.  That empty space will be filled with all kinds of crazy memories eventually -- but for now, we'll just leave that worry for another day. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Thirties

It's a bit belated, but we hit a major milestone last week -- 30 weeks!  In fact, I hit 31 weeks yesterday (Saturday) which is another milestone in that we are now in a single digit weekly countdown to baby time.  I find myself forgetting to be afraid of all the looming threats of which I have spent the majority of this pregnancy living in fear.  This doesn't mean I'm feeling fearless, because that could not be further from the truth.  I guess, finally, I've started to believe in this pregnancy.  In my body.  That this, after all, might be one thing that it's really good at.  We'll see I guess.  I still try not to get too far ahead of myself!

A week ago Thursday we had an ultrasound/follow-up appointment.  I was 29 weeks 5 days and Nerdlet was measuring at about 30 weeks and in the 53rd percentile.  This was excellent news as there still seems to be some skepticism with regard to my gestational diabetes diagnosis (or lack thereof) so it was extremely gratifying to find Nerdlet is growing at a normal rate.  Nerdlet was also practicing breathing - which was really neat to see.  Apparently this means that the lungs are functional now, and Nerdlet is preparing for the real world.  We also got to see some tiny toe curls as Nerdlet flexed his/her toes at us.  Aside from that very first ultrasound where we got to see Nerdlet for the very first time (and he/she looked like a teeny tiny jumping bean that took my breath away), this was my favorite ultrasound so far. 

We got a really clear look at Nerdlet's face.  The picture (below) doesn't do it justice -- probably in the split second before the tech captured the image, it was a crystal clear image of a perfect little face.  A long shot from the one we got at 19w5d.  I do believe we have outgrown the unfortunate  "cheesy mango" phase.  For those curious about what Nerdlet has graduated too, he/she is approximately the size of a pineapple now. 

Todd finally got to feel a kick this past week.  Apparently it felt like a gas bubble to him, which makes me a little bit concerned about the kind of gas he apparently experiences cuz that was one swift kick to slightly below my rib cage, and it felt nothing like a gas bubble to me!

This week will kick off a series of weeks filled with fun and exciting things.  My friend - whose visit first prompted me to take a pregnancy test - is flying in on Thursday for a long weekend, and my first baby shower is on Sunday.  Between the baby festivities and impending holidays -- these last 9 (NINE!!!!) weeks are going to fly by!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

May 8, 2012

There will likely be another update this week as I have my next appointment and ultrasound on Thursday.  Hopes and prayers for lots of good news then.  For now -- I am going to take a step backwards and try to capture the moment that we found out we were expecting.  Someone asked me recently, "what is the appropriate age to tell your child that you were so excited to find out he or she was coming that you ate your own pee?!"  Well - I guess the answer to that will be when our child is old enough to read this blog.  And now that I've piqued your interest -- here's the story.

The spring of this year was an...interesting time for me.  In late April we spent a hefty chunk of change to put our information in the "Waiting Families" book at Lutheran Social Services.  This was a hugely exciting step for us - one we'd been waiting months to take.  We were one step closer to growing our family and it literally could have happened at any moment. 

At the same time, I was really struggling.  I don't know what was in the water around here, but suddenly it seemed like everyone was pregnant.  Not just everyone - but people who had struggled. People, like us, who thought that maybe this wasn't in the cards for them.  So - while our lives were heading full steam ahead on the path that felt like the right path, I was hurting a lot.  It was hard for me to stay excited.  I was frustrated with my body, frustrated with the hand I was dealt, and of course constantly afraid that all of our efforts were for nothing.  That none of this was going to pan out -- that I needed to make peace with the fact that maybe all our babies were meant to be furry. 

It was in the middle of a pity party I was throwing myself one evening that I first felt "weird."  Todd was out with friends, so I was home by myself, and I'd had a particularly cathartic cry that evening and as I lay there, watching some fluffy chick flicks and curled up with my fur babies, something just felt different. 

During that time we were preparing for one of my dearest friends to come visit us from North Carolina.  We were in the middle of intense house cleaning, and I still didn't feel quite right.  At one point, in between vacuuming and scrubbing the toilet, I was hit with a wave of exhaustion so intense that I just had to lay down.  I flopped down in bed and rested for about 15 minutes before I could get back up.  Later that evening, my stomach felt upset so we fended for ourselves for dinner that night.  Todd made himself a fried egg sandwich and accompanied that with some cheddar Sun Chips.  The smell of the frying eggs made my stomach turn, but far more interestingly -- I could smell the cheddar Sun Chips from across the room , and they smelled heavenly.  It was at that point that I asked Todd if he would go pick up a pregnancy test for me.  I didn't honestly believe I was pregnant, but I knew that with my friend in town there would likely be drinking and that something was going on with my body -- so it wouldn't hurt to rule out pregnancy.

Todd, bless his heart, did run out and buy me a pregnancy test.  He actually came home with a pregnancy test, and two packages of meat sticks.  I'm sure the cashier got a kick out of that combination.  I waited to take the test.  I DREADED taking the test.  I have taken more negative pregnancy tests than I even care to remember. I waited until the morning that my friend was supposed to fly in to take the test.  It was 5 a.m., and with a heavy sigh I decided I really needed to figure out what was going on, so I finally took the test.

Before I even set the test on the counter it was reading positive. 

I had no idea what to make of that.  It was like a cartoon character reaction as I rubbed the sleep out of my eyes and did a double take.  I ran to grab the box to confirm that what I thought was positive was actually positive -- it was.  So, at just after 5 a.m. on May 8, 2012 -- I went running into our bedroom and woke Todd up by waving a used pee stick in his face chanting "OMG.  WTF is this?  WhAT IS THIS?  WHAT DOES IT MEAN?  It's probably a false positive..."  We each spent our pre-work time googling false positives (and finding out that they're pretty rare). 

This was an interesting situation for us because that was going to be the last time Todd and I would be alone together until late that evening.  We decided not to tell anybody.  To maybe take another test later.  That lasted...a couple hours?  This was news that I could not keep to myself.  I eventually emailed the news to my sister, expressing my doubts, telling her not to get excited cuz it was probably not true.  She recommended a different brand of test, and told me to take one of those and let her know. 

I did that.  On my way to pick up my friend from the Minneapolis airport, I stopped at the Wal Mart, grabbed a pregnancy test, went through self check-out, and then slipped into the Wal Mart bathroom to take my pregnancy test - just like all the classy ladies do.  The situation in the Wal Mart bathroom was a little cramped.  I took the second test and noticed, again, that the test showed positive before I even set it down.  At this point I pretty much freaked out.  I had too many things for too few hands and as I tried to shuffle things around, I shoved the instructions in my mouth only to find out that -- there was pee on the instructions.  And it was now in my mouth. 

My text to my sister from the Wal Mart bathroom (staying classy!) was a picture of the positive pregnancy test with the accompanying message "OMG!  I JUST GOT PEE IN MY MOUTH!"

It should be noted that this wasn't the last test I took.  It wasn't even the last big box store bathroom that I took a test in.  Todd called it my pee tour around Rochester.  The final total wound up being 6 positive pregnancy tests before I finally had that first ultrasound that confirmed, without a doubt, that there was a baby in there. 

I'll forget these details someday.  I'll forget that feeling -- of holding that positive pregnancy test in my hand with utter disbelief because I had long ago come to understand that this was just something my body was never going to do for me.  It's a funny story because it captures how completely unprepared and disbelieving I was, but it also captures for me the memories of those first few days and weeks.  I cried a lot (for different reasons than I cry a lot these days).  Even now I have moments when I can't believe it's really real. I struggle to write about it without some kind of "evidence" (like the latest ultrasound shoing that everything is looking okay in there) -- even though as I type this I'm getting all kinds of kicks and nudges, as though Nerdlet knows I'm talking about him/her. 

So, dear Nerdlet, I'm sorry that the story of you involves a chapter in which I eat my own pee.  But please know that A) it wasn't intentional and B) I was never more happy to accidentally eat my own pee in my entire life.  You have always been totally worth it. 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

27 Weeks

It has come to my attention that I've been really really bad about keeping everyone updated on how Nerdlet and I are doing. 

I've truthfully been meaning to update this thing for weeks now (months, even), but every time I've sat down with the intent to write -- my energy just mysteriously drains away and I find myself, hours later, lost on Pinterest (or something) instead. 

Energy has been my biggest battle during this entire pregnancy so far.  Supposedly it returns a little bit in the second trimester, but I'm not really sure that was the case for me.  I noticed a decrease in the waves of fatigue, perhaps, but aside from that it's pretty much felt like sleepy time all the time.  I can literally sleep any time, pretty much anywhere - which is not normal for me.  Pre-pregnancy sleeping in meant waking up at 7 a.m. on weekends.  These days it's more like 8:30-9 (which I realize is still early to some of you night owls, but I am a morning person by nature) giving me 12 or more hours of sleep each night.  I'm a little afraid of what this is going to mean for my third trimester.  The third trimester combined with the onset of fall/winter may induce hibernation, literally.  I'll see you in the spring, friends!

So - the third trimester.  It's just around the corner.  There's actually some debate on this, I guess.  But my Mayo Clinic book says that the end of this week marks the end of my 2nd trimester, so I guess I'm going to go with that.  Which means I'm staring # 3 in the face.  I'm continually amazed at what my body is doing.  It is doing some pretty amazing things -- both in a beautiful "making another human being" way and a horrifying "holy crap, what happened to my ankles?" kind of way. Yesterday (Saturday) marked week 27.  The books tell me that if I have the baby this week, there's a more than 85% chance that baby will survive.  This is pretty remarkable - although I'd really prefer to keep this baby in for a while yet. 

My body, thus far, seems to be cooperating with my wishes.  My last appointment (at 24 weeks) went really well.  I sailed through my second 3-hour glucose test (yes, I had to do two.  My OB was CONVINCED that I was going to fail.  It felt pretty good to prove her wrong).  My numbers the second time were better than the first time and probably more normal than they've been for years.  I managed to find myself on a gestational diabetes diet anyway, though - as a precautionary measure.  My blood pressure was even a little lower at my last appointment.  I was mostly stupefied at how my body seems to be getting healthier (or at least it was then) instead of unhealthier which is what pretty much everyone in the medical community had expected.  I guess it just goes to show that those prayers?  They're still working.  And we are still eternally grateful for them.

As for the baby -- Nerdlet has become a kicking machine.  I still think that my anterior placenta is still cushioning a lot of the kicks, but I'm feeling them more and more and they are getting stronger and stronger, or at least more distinguishable.  Todd hasn't been able to feel them yet.  I have been able to feel a few from the outside, but they aren't very regular yet and Todd isn't very patient so we haven't gotten the timing down just right yet.  I'm sure that will change soon. 

Our anatomy scan ultrasounds (yes, we had two.  This baby does not appreciate being filmed.  In the first ultrasound we couldn't find the feet, and in the second ultrasound Nerdlet kept his/her hands clenched around the face so we couldn't get any good pictures - we did find the feet though!  My baby has feet!  Yay!) showed that everything appears to be normal in there.  It was a good thing we'd decided not to find out the gender of the baby because on top of everything else, Nerdlet had legs crossed with cord tucked between the legs -- both times.  So - there were no moments of weakness for us.  We still don't know!  And yes, it's almost starting to drive us as crazy as it's been driving most of you.

The nursery is still a work in progress - but it's ALMOST done.  For those of you who missed it - we got the polka dots up on the wall...

there are some cosmetic finishing touches that need to be done, but it's pretty much baby-ready at this point. Now, if I could somehow find the motivation to tackle cleaning the rest of the house -- we'd be in good shape. :)

So - the update is -- so far so good.  I'm still nervous every day - all the time.  I guess this is just part of this whole thing though, from what I understand.  Our next appointment is October 11.  I will be just shy of 30 weeks at that point.  We'll get another ultrasound to measure Nerdlet's growth -- and fingers crossed everything will still look as good as it did at the last appointment.  Stay tuned...

Monday, July 30, 2012

Cheesy Mango

Every week I follow Nerdlet's progress in the Mayo Clinic book, the "What to Expect" book, and then I usually check it out online too.  I'm having so much fun reading about how things are changing in there -- it's really the only guide that I have.  I can't see in there, and most of the time I can't even feel in there much.  So - on Saturday I hit the 19 week mark, so I thought I would check out what's happening there.  It turns out - this is what's happening in there:

"Have you ever seen a mango dipped in cheese? Well, that's what your baby looks like this week..." (see for yourself, I could not make this up).  So -- allow me to help you a little bit with the imagery here.



Take a minute - mix the two together in your head.  Got the image now?  It's pretty weird, right?  And gross.  That is without question the weirdest way I've heard my baby described so far. 

Now, go ahead and add this face:

It just became a little terrifying, right?  Poor Nerdlet.  I guess the cheesy mango is just a phase.  S/he'll grow out of it.

Today was Nerdlet's "big" ultrasound.  Everything is looking good in there, except we were unable to confirm that Nerdlet has feet, and there was zero cooperation when trying to get a map of the heart.  I should MAYBE be concerned about this, but I'm mostly just excited that it means another ultrasound in two weeks.  I can live with a footless baby, but I'm guessing the feet hiding was just another show of rebellion. 

We chose not to find out the gender (I didn't cave!).  At one point Todd and I SWEAR we heard the tech say something about "the boy" -- but then a couple minutes later he told us that it was a good thing we didn't want to find out the gender because that's apparently right where Nerdlet was hiding his/her feet - and there would be no cooperation there either.  Nerdlet is modest.  So - it might be a boy.  But could also possibly be a girl.  We're about 100% sure it's one of those two things (despite the fact that it currently looks like an alien). 

We were able to get a pretty good picture of Nerdlet's spine.  This one I can make out -- it was very clear on the ultrasound screen and very cool to see.

Despite the lack of feet, we apparently have two legs.  Yeah - I'm not really sure there are legs in there either.   But that's how it's labeled!

Arms were also captured on film.  We also got to see tiny fingers, but didn't get a picture of those. 

I think Nerdlet looks like a little monkey here (so, to recap -- possibly boy, possibly girl, possibly alien, possibly monkey), but it's my favorite picture of them all.  It's still a little blurry.  I'm guessing that the ones we get in two weeks will be MUCH more clear. 

So far - so good.  My blood pressure is still high, but my urine tests came back normal so nobody is freaking out about that yet.  Nerdlet currently weighs about 10 oz and appears to be measuring right on track.  All in all - it was a fantastic appointment.  There is always much relief when we get to peek in on little Nerdlet, but this week we also got confirmation that almost everything (that we could see) is developing like it should - and the little bean is still be-bopping away in there!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

18 Weeks

Oh, right.  I was going to keep writing.

Here we go…
For some reason it is really hard for me to write about this.  There are a lot of reasons for this, but half the time I sit down to write and wind up deleting things 10 times before just abandoning it altogether, figuring it will come to me later. 
Here’s hoping now is later. J

The truth is that there isn’t a lot to report.  I am 18 weeks pregnant today, which means that this baby is almost half baked.  There have been a couple early bumps in the road – but nothing terribly alarming.  I took my first gestational diabetes test at 16 weeks due to my risk factors.  I failed the one hour test – although I initially thought that I had passed it.  When they called to tell me I failed, I didn’t take it very well.  In retrospect, I feel pretty bad for the people who were trying to schedule my next test – they had to have been completely baffled by my reaction.  Failing the 1 hour test is bad news, but it’s not HORRIBLE news, and it often doesn’t mean anything at all.  In fact, I passed the 3 hour test a week later.  Apparently I just barely passed it, but I passed it nonetheless so I guess – one hurtle down. 

I’ll get another one of these things in about 2 more months.    This is unappealing for several reasons – 1) I am not a fan of needles.  At my first test (the 1 hour) the guy missed my vein and went digging. I almost passed out and threw up simultaneously.  Luckily they got me right away at the second test, but I am forever traumatized (again, some more) by that first experience.  2) I do not tolerate the glucose solution well.  The first time I took it I thought maybe I was just reacting to the extremely hot temperatures outside.  The second time, I actually got to sit in the lobby for about 10 minutes before they called me back, so I knew the temperature in the room was comfortable.  About 10 minutes after I came out I was sweating like crazy and shaking.  I’m sure I looked like a crazy lady sitting out there in the comfortably air conditioned room, sweating profusely.  3) My blood sugar CRASHED at the 3 hour test.  It just completely bombed in that last hour.  So – pregnant, fasting, and now with impressively low blood sugar, it should go without saying that my next food choices weren’t exactly the best ones I’ve ever made.  I’m hoping that, since I know what to expect now, when I do this again I can prepare a little better to  avoid at least this one pitfall. 

My blood pressure was high at my last appointment.  Not alarmingly high, but higher than it should have been which of course set me into panic mode.  We’re monitoring it now.  It was normal that night when we took it at home, so who knows what was going on.  I could do with a little less drama, body.  Thanks.  I also got to hear the heartbeat for the very first time – that was pretty awesome.  My OB had a student with her that day, so she was the first one to try.  She was a little panicked when I told her that we’d never tried to hear the heartbeat before.  She assured me that I shouldn’t panic if they didn’t find it.  The baby is still very small and, as she said, “I have no idea what I’m doing.”  She wound up not being able to find it, but when my OB gave it a try she found it in 30 seconds.  It’s always a relief to get that “proof”.  Even though I think I’m feeling movement in there – the proof is still so reassuring.

I DO think I’ve felt some movement – it’s hard to say for sure, it’s nothing consistent yet, but there have definitely been some bubbles and taps and whirls that I’ve never felt before.  The tapping, in particular, makes me think that it’s the baby.  I am always quick to say that I’m not POSITIVE that it’s the baby, but I guess nobody can really prove me otherwise, so let’s go with it.  It’s the craziest thing I’ve ever felt – and I can’t wait for more pronounced movement.  I can’t wait for Todd to be able to feel it. 
That’s where we are in a nutshell.  I go in on July 30th for the “big” ultrasound.  Much to the disappointment of almost everyone in the world, I think we are NOT going to find out what we’re having.  I love the idea of not knowing for sure, and frankly – we had made all these plans without knowing if we were going to wind up with a little boy or a little girl – and in that sense, nothing has really changed.  Either way, we’re going to be head over heels in love.  We already are.  So the rest is just frosting.  Of course, I reserve the right to change my mind on this, but know that any pressure we get just firms my resolve to not know.  I’m stubborn and difficult like that.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

God Laughed

I know it looks like we completely abandoned this blog. 

That’s not the case!
In fact, I’ve been composing this blog entry for the better part of the last month.  Still, I have no idea how to even begin.  So, I guess the best way to move forward is to first move backwards….

We began our adoption journey when we ran into ongoing troubles and obstacles to having our own children. Not only would my body not cooperate, but any time we sought assistance we were discouraged and redirected.   I knew, anyway, that I was never going to be interested in doing anything intrusive to conceive my own children.  I believed that if my body wasn’t capable of doing this thing on its own (or with a gentle nudge), then this wasn’t what I was meant to be doing.  So, Todd and I had many long long talks about what our fertility issues meant, and about the calling I felt towards adoption.  We began to think that adoption was the path we were supposed to be on.  Then, financially, everything fell into place and we became convinced.  This was where we were supposed to be.  This is what we were supposed to be doing. 
Along the way there have been many ups and downs.  I originally thought that since the decision was basically such a simple one for us, it would be simple for us to move through it, but I was wrong.  Even though adoption was what I felt called to do, I still experienced doubts and a grieving process that I never expected.  Each time someone became pregnant, I had to re-learn how to exhibit the proper emotional responses.  I figured with time this would become easier.  I started to make peace with the idea that this would never be me.  In fact, there may not be children in our lives at all,  and maybe THAT was God’s plan for us.   I spent a lot of time trying to make peace with that idea.  It  would not necessarily be the life we would choose for ourselves, but it was a life we could make the best out of if we had to.  One way or another, we would be okay.

And then, God laughed.
And if you know anything about us by now, you know that we have a deep appreciation for laughter.  It's one of our very favorite things.  We named our blog after it.  Still, it can be a little unsettling when it comes from God.  In fact, it can downright turn your life upside down. 

All this is to say that we have an announcement to make – and believe me when I say that it’s not the one we thought we would be making. 
We’re going to have a baby.

That is, *I’M* going to have a baby. 
This broken, stubborn, frustrating body is currently making bones and eyeballs and fingernails for the little baby growing inside of it.  And there is nobody on the planet more surprised than me. 
I’m due December 22nd.  That means that right this minute I am 13 weeks and 3 days pregnant.

So – how did this happen?  Well, I’m going to assume you know how it *happened*.  But aside from the obvious, we don’t really know.  Remember the procedure I had last November?  I skimmed over the details back then, but basically what happened is that (WARNING:  girl part things ahead -- if you can't stomach girl part things, skip on ahead to the next paragraph)  they removed a troublesome fibroid that had been lodged at the entrance to my cervix and was causing all KINDS of unpleasant shenanigans.  I'm going to spare you the gory details, but life was pretty miserable there for a while.  My most scientific guess would be that the removal of that fibroid allowed my body to work the way it’s supposed to.  Even though I didn't believe that the surgery would improve my fertility, given that I have other underlying issues - it's the most scientifically logical explanation.
But really?  It happened because of God.  Because – no matter what we had planned or how we were trying to direct our lives, God was always still in charge and He insisted on waiting until the timing was perfect. 
And this is perfect timing.  It’s unbelievable.  And thrilling.  And terrifying.   

We have a long road ahead of us, and there are several risk factors – so we’re just praying like crazy for a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.  This is, without question, the scariest thing I’ve ever done.
What does it mean for our adoption?  For now it means we’re “on hold”.  Our adoption efforts have ceased while we turn our focus to learning more about healthy pregnancy.  This doesn’t mean we no longer want to adopt.  Adoption is something that is very close to our hearts.  Our agency will make us wait one year from the time of birth before we can adopt a child – and frankly, we have no idea what else God has in store for us so we’re just keeping our minds open at this point.  We’ll see what happens.  As it turns out, we are not driving this ship. J

I do plan to keep the blog alive – although obviously the scope will change.  I’ve been writing things for a while now as we waited to break this news.  I still have a hard time believing it’s real, so I often required “proof” before telling a new group of people.  And, well…there’s proof. 
Please meet our little “Nerdlet”.  You’ll be hearing a lot about this little peanut from here on out…

Still a little fuzzy faced - but with cute tiny arms!

Monday, April 30, 2012


I've written about bullying before.  Other people have written about it better.  I don't really have anything new to say about it, other than that it hit closer to home in our community this past weekend and my heart aches for the little girl whose life was interrupted, and her family who are left to wonder how something like this could happen.

How does something like this happen?  How can we keep our kids safe?  How do we teach our children that each and every single person on this planet is sacred.  We are all beautiful and worthy of love and even if we don't particularly like each other, it is our duty to treat each other with care, dignity and a very basic level of kindness.  Where are we going wrong with this?

Kids are just kids, sure.  And boys will be boys and teenage girls are just mean.  Sure.  But it is our job to teach them how to control those impulses, how to have healthy relationships with their peers, how to respect themselves and how that self respect carries over into a respect for others. 

One of the posts on Facebook related to this was a call to action for parents.  Get involved.  Children don't need that much privacy.  Parents should know - as much as they possibly can know - what's going on with their children, how they're treating others and how others are treating them.  These are the smallest things we, as parents (and future parents) can do - we can be present. 

I'm at a complete loss.  I didn't know this little girl, and I don't know her family but I am crushed that she was hurting so much and didn't know what to do with all that pain.  How do you explain to a thirteen year old that this is as bad as it's ever going to get.  Hold on for five more years.  This is just a blip in time and the whole rest of your life is going to be different than this.  It's impossible to conceptualize that at that age, it's impossible to see through that much pain.  How do you reach those who bully to let them know that they've gone too far before they go past the point of no return?  How do you teach these kids that words matter - they leave scars and bruises just as painful as any physical beating.

Words matter.
How we treat each other matters.

If there is one lesson I hope to teach our future children, above all others, it is that.

R.I.P, Rachel.  I didn't have the honor of knowing you, but you were a beautiful gift to this world. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Yup, We are Still here!!!!

       So, I know its been awhile since there has been a blog update of any sort so for that I say I'm sorry.  Life has just gotten busy and then the next thing ya know I look and wow, the last entry was the end of March.  So, time to get everyone caught up on whats been happening.

       Well, as you all know by now, I am in the world of the employed once more.  I was hired into the Outpatient Operations Support Training ( OOST for short) program.  What it all boils down to is it is 8 weeks of training filled with alot of hands on training and classroom training to become what is known as a Clinical Assistant at Mayo.  In case you have never been to Mayo, we are the first people you see when you check into your appointments at Mayo, we are also the ones who may bring you back to your rooms before the doctor comes to see you, we also take record vitals  ( my instructors should get a kick out of that), and we could also be the people you see when you leave your appointment and have to schedule follow up appointments. 

       So getting into this program is also a HUGE deal as well.  From what I have heard from my instructors, there were close to 400 applicants there were only 34 that were chosen for the program.  So upon hearing that was the first shock to the system of many to come. The 2nd shock was probably at the end of our 2 day Mayo Clinic Orientation when we were handed this thick binder that had all sorts of schedules and other things in it.  I took it home with me that night and started reading through it and as I did, the only thing I could say was "What have I gotten myself into?"  So after becoming totally freaked out, Shell finally grabbed the binder from me and said " Quit freaking yourself out over this!!"  So from that moment I decided to take everything on a day to day basis.  And let me tell you, this has been beyond amazing. 

       I wont mention the names of my instructors but all I have to say is what an amazing group of people they are.  I have never seen such a group that is able to come together as one unit and basically teach people how to work with patients in such a professional and respectful way in just 8 weeks. One other thing I must say about my instructors is not only do they make the learning fun and very interactive, they actually have your back and keep us in the loop as to whats happening.  Again, this is something totally new to me so to actually hear them say it and then actually follow through on what they said they were going to do is AWESOME!!!  I can truly and honestly say that this is probably the first job I have had where I wake up in the morning and want to go to work.......And the thing is THIS is just training so far!!!!  So, as you can tell, I do believe the wait was worth it even though a couple times during my unemployment I thought I was gonna have a break down.  Life is certainly good on the job front.

        Also, we finally got the first steps of painting the nursery done with......I believe shell still has a few dots to add to the wall but otherwise we are ready when Baby Suhr is ready for us.  We even got the dresser, changing table, and rocker in the room as well.  Last week we also had our first meeting with our new Adoption worker Salena which I think went well.  We ended up meeting at Mac's Cafe for a lunch meeting since I had a 1 hr lunch that day.  It was pretty much a "Getting to know you" kind of meeting but I personally feel from the meeting we should be in good hands again.  We are also doing our background checks and all the paper work again now because it has been 1 year since we started this journey so that been a blast to fill that all out again.......Good thing its only once a year :-)

       Well, that's just kind of an overview of whats been happening with us.  Now that we are getting back into the habit of me having a work schedule and all, the blogs should start flowing again.  So I shall end this blog tonight with how I used to end them before.........With funny pictures!!!!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

I've been doing a lot of talking about "the wait" lately.  As we inch closer and closer to our entrance into the "waiting families" book at Lutheran Social Services, there are lots of questions about what that means for us.  It doesn't mean that we now have a timeline on when we'll get a baby, we're not in a queue that will receive babies in order.  Basically, it only means that we will broaden our outreach significantly and in a way that we know is effective.  We started out at #30 on this waiting list six months ago.  That means that in the last 6 months, 30 people have come out of the book.  We don't know the circumstances behind the people leaving the book, but it's safe to assume that at least the majority of them matched with a birth mother and are no longer actively outreaching.  This bodes very well for us - that's a lot of turnover so we're hoping it means good things ahead for us.

I read an article on "the wait" this morning and it really rang true for me.  The article - which can be found here - listed the benefits of "the wait".  I think this is a really neat perspective.  I am the kind of person who always looks for the greater meaning behind things.  I believe that most life situations are intended to teach you something - either about yourself, or about the world.  I can look back at some of the hardest times in my life and see that those times were usually periods tremendous growth for me, and sometimes, if I'm lucky - I can see that there was great beauty in those times as well.  So I like to think about what this is going to look like in hindsight.  Here is some of what the article mentions:

Waiting has taught you to be more patient.Open adoption isn’t about instant gratification. It’s about waiting it out until the right opportunity comes along and then jumping on it before it slips away. What they say is true: good things really do come to those who wait.

I can only hope that this is the case.  Patience has not always been my strong suit.  I like to take action and struggle to sit and wait.  There's no question that this entire experience has been a lesson on learning how to wait gracefully.  Todd is better at this than I am, I think but there should be no question that we're learning more about patience now than we ever thought we'd experience (pre-children, anyway)!

It’s made you more appreciative.
Some biological parents take their children for granted. Not you. Waiting to adopt has taught you that parenting is a privilege, not a right. And that, in turn, has helped you to savor things that other people don’t think twice about–to enjoy the small things in life as much as the big ones.

Parenting is a privilege.  Not a right.  Is it painful and difficult to watch people have babies with virtually no conscious effort?  Yes.  But we know that everyone has their own cross to bear and we don't know everyone's stories.  What we do know is that the baby we wind up getting will be the answer to more than 100 prayers.  This time is giving us perspective.  We pray for this, and we will never ever take this ultimate gift for granted.

It’s helped you become more resilient.
Adopting isn’t for sissies. Jumping through all of those hoops to get where you are today would have worn down plenty of other people. But you’re not only still standing. You’re standing tall–ready for the next challenge that comes your way.

I think we're getting better at this.  I think Todd and I would both agree that the hardest part was not the beginning.  It wasn't the background checks, or the physicals, or the 50 pages of paperwork we filled out regarding our backgrounds and parenting plans.   It wasn't the home study (which we pretty much sailed through) or the classroom time or the online classes. 

The hardest part of "the wait" has been just putting ourselves out there.  It is uncomfortable to throw our lives out into the world for everyone to see and judge.  On occasion, we have been judged harshly.  The flip side of that is that the overwhelming warmth and support we have received from people (many of you strangers) wayyyyyy outweighs the negative encounters we've had.  And those negative encounters have taught us things too. 

We are definitely ready for the next challenge that comes our way.  We're ready for our lives to be turned upside down.  Every once in a while it gets real and scary  - but I believe that those feelings aren't any different from what pregnant women experience.  We're just human, but we're tough and determined and completely committed to this.

It’s turned you into a more loving person.
Going through the open adoption process can put even the strongest of relationships to the test. But you know that if you can get through this, you can get through just about anything. And be stronger for it, too.

I think we started out pretty loving.  It's hard to gauge whether or not we've gotten MORE loving since we started this, but we've learned a lot about each other.  We've been forced to lean on each other in ways that we never had to before.  It's been a stressful couple of years on our marriage, but we've never questioned our committment to each other.  This is the benefit of marrying your best friend, right?  I think that with the development of patience comes a strengthening of love.  We are a team.  We will always be a team.   And these big scary changes that come after this (big scary) wait seem maybe just a smidge less scary knowing that we're not going to have to go through them alone.  We got each others backs. 

It’s taught you to be more understanding.
Adopting a child requires a shift in thinking–in the way you think of yourself but also in the way that others think of you. Trying to explain open adoption to someone who’s never gone through it is like explaining what it’s like to live in a foreign country. Pat yourself on the back for handling all those pesky questions and comments with equanimity and grace.

I actually LOVE educating about the adoption process.  I love talking about it.  I think it's fascinating and exciting and wonderful.  Unless you've been through it, you probably don't know anything about it.  This is not something that's incredibly transparent in our society -- and trust me, the media is not a trustworthy source on this.  So I welcome questions and love explaining what our journey has been like.  I'm not shy about this - I'm a pretty open book.  

That said, I've definitely had to change the way I think about myself.  Pursuing adoption was an easy decision for me, but that doesn't mean that there's not a grieving process involved.  It is frustrating and infuriating that I can't make my body do what it was designed to do and while I could not be more excited to be involved in adoption and building our family this way, I still have moments (days?) of frustration and grief that my body refuses to cooperate.

I'm not sure how the way other people see us has shifted.  I'm not sure anyone was shocked when we announced that we wanted to adopt.  I don't think anyone even questions that this is the right thing for us to be doing.  We have this amazing network of friends and family who recognize family as something that goes far beyond whose blood flows through your veins.  The reactions we received when we announced our plans were joy and excitement - so if there was a shift in the way they thought of us, we weren't involved in it!

It’s shown you how to become more flexible.
One thing you’ve got to say about open adoption: it takes you out of your comfort zone. Very quickly you’ve learned how to let go of your preconceptions about what it means to build a family and just go with the flow.

Out of our comfort zone?
I am a person who loves order.  I love schedules and timelines and knowing where I have to be and when I have to be there.  Once upon a time I had one of these timelines for my life.  Life has a way of taking your timeline, laughing at it, ripping it up, and setting it on fire.  Not one single major life event has ever happened according to our timeline.  So sure, we're learning flexibility.  And trust.  And I'm learning to let go of my timelines and my love of order and letting myself believe that God's got the timeline taken care of and I don't have to worry about it anymore.
(P.S.  I still worry about it.  But I'm working on it!)

It’s made you more compassionate.
Open adoption involves putting putting yourself in someone’s shoes and putting other people’s needs before your own. Even though this is your journey, you now understand that it’s not always about you.

One of the things I've been most afraid of is our (future) birthparents feelings.
It sounds weird, right?
I'm a very empathetic person.  I don't want to cause anyone else pain, and the fact that pain is usually a part of this whole process is difficult for me.  So - I don't know if I'm more compassionate now than I used to be, but believe me -- it's very definitely not always about me.  It's so important to me that our (future) birthparents are comfortable with us and trust us - we know that this has to be one of the hardest decisions they've ever had to make and we want to somehow make it as easy is it can be. 

It’s taught you to be more trusting.
Open adoption is a leap of faith. You never know when “the Call” will come or who it will come from. You need to trust your instincts and believe that everything will work out just the way it was supposed to. If you don’t, you know that you’re going to have a very difficult road ahead of you.

This may be the hugest area of growth for us.
From almost the first moment on this journey I felt this spirituality in me just open up.  I had to let go.  This - none of this - is happening according to the timeline I mentioned earlier.  It's not on our timeline at all, though I truly believe that it's meant to happen and will happen someday.  I can't tell you how many prayers we've said in the last year (and add those to all the prayers that you've been saying for us).  Right now - we're running on trust.  It will happen.  It will.  When it's supposed to.

It’s shown you how to be more realistic.
At first, you vowed to be a parent in six months. Then in eight months. Then in twelve. Now more than 20 months have gone by and you’re still not a parent. Good thing you’ve learned to manage your expectations and how to put things in perspective.

We had a response to our outreach within days after we began our "media blitz". 
I truly thought that we would find our match like...immediately.  Like the article says -- first in 6 months, then in 8 months, etc.  It then occurred to us (with a few sort of rough reminders) that not everyone loves us.  Not everyone would choose for us to be parents.  So - we know it might not happen as quickly as we thought.  This is where the patience and trust comes in...

It’s made you more hopeful.
Open adoption is about building families. But it’s also about building dreams. So while your match may not have come as quickly as you would liked, it doesn’t mean it won’t come at all.

At the root of all this - the highs and lows -- there is hope. Hope that our family will grow -- soon!  Hope that we'll have a healthy, happy, loving relationship with our future birth family.  Hope that we'll have a happy, healthy baby.  Hope that - at the end of all this, we can look back and see it as a time of tremendous growth and beauty.

It’s shown you how to be more grateful.
Waiting to adopt has surprised you in many ways. It’s proven just how strong you really are. Not everyone survives this part of the process. But you have–with flying colors. And that’s nothing to take for granted.

We are grateful for so much -- for the gifts we've already been given.  The house that we love, the animals that we count as family.  We're grateful for our family and friends.  We're grateful for our jobs.  We're grateful for all of YOU - out there supporting us even though we've never met most of you.  It's not been a completely smooth road, but we've learned a lot about the awesomeness that the kindness and support of strangers can bring to our lives. 

We have so much to be grateful for - we have a beautiful life.  We just can't wait to see it grow. :)