Why I Haven't Blogged in Over Seven Months

Sometimes it’s hard to put painful emotions into words. And though I’ve taken time to delve deeply into my grief, disappointment and heartaches of late in order to work through them, it’s still difficult to explain sometimes. Writing this is both a long overdue post, an explanation to any readers left out there and a cathartic exercise for me. Most of you know my father passed away last February. Then my husband and I moved in July. Then we helped my mom go through and ready her house for the market, then moved her to Charlotte in late September. We did all of that while we were also in the depths of unknowns with our adoption process. Everything they say you aren’t supposed to do within the first year of losing a loved one we did. Some things were planned and others just sort of happened. To say the least, it was an extremely tough year. My husband and had been struggling with infertility for way much longer than a year. Which kind of made everything tougher. You get to a point where you know God CAN do it for you, but you just aren’t sure if He WILL. Some of you know this entire story; most of you don’t. So here it is – the good, the bad and the ugly. But it’s my story so I’m owning it.

At one of my last Grief Share meetings, it was suggested that we write a letter about all our hurts and pain of losing a loved one. When I sat down to type – although I missed my dad enormously and still do – this is the story that came out. I think it needed to come out. I’ve been wanting to write this for a long time. There are so many more details, but for the sake of brevity I’ve shortened some seasons to just a sentence. For better or for worse, here it is:

For the past 10 years, my husband and I have been trying for a baby. Close to our one-year anniversary, I called the doctor’s office to get some basic baby-making advice. They told me how to count the cycle days and when to “try.” It sounded like a pretty simple process. We were relatively young and healthy so I thought we’d get pregnant right away. That’s how it happens, right? You get married, you talk about when to have a baby, you try for a baby, and then you get pregnant and have a baby. Oh so little did I know then about the “miracle of life.”

We tried on our own for maybe 3-4 months – honestly I can’t even remember now - but no blue line was to be seen on those dang pee stick tests so I asked my doctor what else we could do. I was starting to get concerned about timing, as we weren’t spring chickens and we thought this would already be happening. She prescribed me Clomid, which made me a total basket case. I remember being mid-sentence screaming something at hubby and thinking, “Why am I screaming? Why am I mad? I really don’t even know!” We both reduced our caffeine intake and I started using ovulation predictor kits since the original person I spoke to told me a certain day of the cycle was “the day” and come to find out I was a late ovulatory, so we had basically been doing it wrong for months.  Ugh. So after 3 months of Clomid and not one positive pregnancy test, we started investigating fertility treatments. I was very fortunate to work for a company that covered nearly all of the enormous costs so after much prayer and consideration, we decided to move forward. But WAIT! Before any fertility treatments can be started there are a bunch of things you have to do first. You are required to get a mammogram to ensure you don’t have breast cancer, an HSG to ensure your fallopian tubes aren’t blocked and probably a few others that I’ve forgotten at this point. After those results came back ok, we met with our Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE) and made a plan to get pregnant.  Over the course of a year and a half, I drove an hour to get my arm poked every other day during the treatment time, looked like an intravenous drug-user because some nurses just aren’t gentle, I endured shots in the abdomen which contained drugs that made me feel crazy and cry all the time and my all-time favorite was the insensitive and hurtful questions from well-meaning people (DO NOT EVEN GET ME STARTED, that will have to be a whole separate post). There were more tests after the stimulation cycle was complete, then one IUI, a surgery to remove a giant fibroid in my abdomen, two rounds of egg retrievals – one that resulted in two eggs that were transferred but failed to attach to my uterus and another round that resulted in three viable eggs that were to be transferred but didn’t make it past day 5. And waiting. Lots and lots of waiting. After each unsuccessful attempt there was the waiting for your next cycle. Which for me would sometimes be late due to stress. When I stupidly shared this with people who had never been through anything like that I was told, “Just relax. It will happen.” I wanted to punch them in the face. Not because it’s bad advice or because they were being malicious. But because the flippant comment belittled everything I was going through and also made me second-guess myself. Maybe I WAS too high-strung, I would think. Maybe that’s why I’m not a mom yet. Maybe God is trying to teach me patience. UGH – then I would toss those lies aside and get mad at the people who commented. What those well-meaning people didn’t realize is that pregnancy really is a true “miracle of life” – SO many things have to come together at the perfect point in time then so much needs to happen after that for the pregnancy to go full-term. I was reading “Taking Charge of Your Fertility” at the time and was absolutely shocked at how little I knew about how my own body worked. I hesitantly recommend that book to people who are trying because it’s pretty militant with regard to all the things you can do/check/try…ugh. Let’s just suffice it to say that they basically teach us NOTHING in Sex Ed in public school.  I will probably write another post entitled, “What Not To Say To Someone Who Is Trying” but for now I’ll say this: if you are a woman who got pregnant the first time you tried or someone who knows nothing about infertility please don’t EVER try to give advice to someone struggling with infertility. And no, it doesn’t matter what your brother’s cousin’s wife did. No, it doesn’t matter that you are “just curious” – that’s what Dr. Google is for. The ONLY appropriate thing to say to them is “I’m SORRY.” Or, if you know them well, “I’m sorry, this sounds really hard.” Or “I’m sorry. How can I pray for you?” Or, sometimes the best thing of all – say NOTHING. Just give your friend a hug or sit silently with them. Sorry for the rant, that subject gets me riled up every time!

After our third unsuccessful attempt, which we knew was our last, we didn’t know what to do. That day, after receiving the call that our embryos didn’t make it to Day 5 (on our way to the treatment facility, no less), we drove to the beach in a new car that wasn’t even ours yet and allowed ourselves to rest and begin the healing process. It was one of the worst days of my life. I remember exactly where we were when the phone rang. My heart sunk, as I KNEW no one else would be calling so early on a Sunday morning. I also knew it was not going to be good news. For so long we thought if infertility treatments didn’t work we would immediately move right into the adoption process. But I was so hurt and angry that the mere thought of yet another process to get a baby – something that my body should be doing on its own (and without incurring major costs!) - was more than I could bear. After another few days, I tried to research and started looking at adoption websites to help me understand the process but they were all so overwhelming! Do we go international or domestic? Do we adopt a newborn or an older baby? What about all those disabled or brain-damaged babies available on the site? Again, it was too much to bear. So with tears streaming down my face, I closed the computer and after talking with my husband later that night, we decided to close that chapter of our lives. Again, we didn’t know what to do next. So we did nothing. Sure, we gave it the “old college try” for a few more months but with no positive results, we began to focus on accepting the fact that it might just be the two of us. Forever. No children. Ever. The road to acceptance was a long and painful one, but after many months of grieving the loss of a dream we finally got to a point where we could accept it. After a few more months, we were even were happy with our childless status. We would talk about the positives of being child-free and high-five each other for not having to pay for anyone’s college or wedding costs. We dreamed instead of traveling to fun places every year and doing what we wanted, when we wanted. We stayed in that acceptance for almost a year. But then both of us – at just about the same time - started feeling like we wanted to explore options again.  A friend of mine suggested foster care. That seemed to resonate with both of us. It could be risky to our fragile hearts, we knew, but we read about how we could opt to do something called “respite care” – where we could relieve current foster parents so they could have a weekend or longer to catch their breaths. We agreed that sounded great (“We can be ‘cool Aunt Jen & Uncle Ken forever!’”) and started down the path of becoming foster parents. That process took nearly another year with required classes and then waiting on other classes to become available. Always with the waiting. By the time we got accepted into the class we’d waited for 6 months to become available, we had changed our minds again and decided that we wanted to adopt a baby through an agency. That process took over 3 years. It included getting physicals, fingerprinted, background checked, counseled and mounds and mounds of paperwork. Then you get to a point where you are “Home Study Approved.” It means all your paperwork is in, everything ticks and ties, you’ve created a profile book for the expecting parents and now you are just waiting to be chosen by one. Some people call this “paper pregnant.” Everyone said, “Congratulations!” when they found out. Only it didn’t feel like congrats were earned; it felt scary and uncertain and yes, there were times we weren’t even sure we’d EVER get chosen. We were told it could take up to two years but blissfully believed it would be “quick” because we were the “optimal parents” and our profile book “looked great.” 

Fast forward to today. For the past 20 months, we’ve been waiting to be chosen by a birthmother. Sometimes I believed it would happen. Other times I didn’t. I prayed ALL the time. Other people prayed for us. Heck, strangers were praying for us. At one point we prayed that if it wasn’t God’s will that He take away the desire in our hearts. I shuddered to think about what I’d do with the nursery furniture already purchased and all the clothes that I kept buying with the hopes that they’d someday be used. It began to be hard again to go to Target and see all the other mom’s and their kids. My hubby & I talked about potentially needing to have a “Plan C” at this point…just in case we never got chosen. All that changed in February.

                              …to be continued

Home Tour

Hello lovelies!

After my very talented friend took pictures of our house for our profile book (backstory here), I thought, "why not share them?" So that's what I'm doing! These pictures are just a glimpse into our home, our future baby's nursery and our lives, but if y'all like it, I'll share more from time to time. As far as the nursery goes, we don't have anything on the walls yet; we're waiting to be chosen and find out the gender before we go there. So right now it's a lot of gray and a little bit of yellow. I have several ideas in mind in case we get the "come to the hospital" call and I need to decorate after the fact. I'm starting to see either a bird or elephant theme emerge, I love the idea of a gallery wall with different shaped frames in various colors and I'm also thinking about a feature wall with either stripes or polka dots.  Ever since I volunteered at the Levine Children's Hospital NICU, walked by their adorable gift shop and saw the GIANT stuffed giraffe I've loved the idea of an animal theme, especially a giraffe/elephant/bird theme.  And as far as colors go, if we get a girl, I'm SO adding pink accents and if it's a boy, we'll stick with yellow. I'm sure you can tell which way this girl is leaning. We left a lot of boxes unchecked in our adoption application so that our chances would be higher and we are trusting that God has the perfect child already chosen for us and didn't want to limit that. But yes, this girl wants a girl. :)

So here's an interesting update: as of Friday, I thought we were close to the one month mark of waiting (we were home-study approved on May 13th) BUT we actually aren't even on the list yet because we still owe a balance to our agency. This news came as a bit of a surprise along with some frustration. I had thought we were on the list once we were homestudy-approved. I thought we'd already been waiting four weeks! I was admittedly a little down because part of me thought we might get chosen right away. So to find out we're not even "official" yet....ugh, let's just say there were some tears. My wonderful hubby reminded me what I've said to him over and over - that God has this and the timing will be perfect. It's just hard in that moment to shift your thinking, accept what is and what can't be changed and move forward. Not to mention it's been a bit of a debacle getting our funds from our loan company because they wanted the final homestudy approval in order to release them. However, our agency actually needed the funds once we were homestudy approved! So we're actually LATE in paying our agency, although they are being very flexible with us as the payment schedule changed while we were mid-process. We had to have all 26 pages of our homestudy mailed to us since the loan company wanted the entire thing, only to find out later they only needed the first and last pages. Then I had to go open an account at a credit union so I wouldn't have thousands of dollars sitting in my account (and so it can accrue better interest). Since I wasn't currently a member of said credit union, the large check has to be held for nine days. #SIGH. So where it stands now is that we won't have access to the money until June 23rd. Hopefully we'll be able to transfer that amount to our agency online so we can actually BE ON THE WAITING LIST! Again, #sigh. On the one hand I'm grateful for a week and a half of not being able to be chosen, as the constant state of stress of knowing a phone call could come at any time is much more than I expected. But on the other hand, I'm a little bummed that ONCE AGAIN I'm back at square one; I feel like this is a continuing theme in my life. Perhaps God is trying to teach me something. But at the end of the day I'm trusting that we will get a baby, that God has chosen this baby specifically for us and that the timing will be right. I will continue to say this to myself, as some days are harder than others.

I hope you enjoy these photos! And for any of you out there who may also be in the #paperpregnant stage, please feel free to reach out with any questions or advice! Again, some days are easier than others, but again I must remember that "my days are planned, He knows the number of hairs on my head" and "He has good plans for me" as well as an inheritance in heaven, into which all believers are adopted (and let's not forget the most important adoptee - JESUS!) and knowing that reminds me that He has heard my prayers and will answer them according to His timeframe. Lord give me strength and peace while I wait.

This is our front porch; I found the "hello" decal on Amazon, I've been thinking a "goodbye" in black on the white inside of the door would be cute!

This is our front porch; I found the "hello" decal on Amazon, I've been thinking a "goodbye" in black on the white inside of the door would be cute!

This is our living room, where we spend most of our time relaxing.  The profile book is for the birth mother to get an image of what her baby's life will look like, so we included the rooms we spend the most time in and of course, the nursery.

This is my favorite chair. I do my morning devotional here and hope to have lots of snuggle time with the baby here too.

This is our kitchen/dining room. I'm hoping to fill up that gallery wall soon! If you look closely, you'll see our #bosskitty Bandit decided to photobomb this pic. He's got a lot of personality and will hopefully befriend the baby once he gets used to the screeching and crying. #fingerscrossed

And a close-up of our living room. I'm always changing what's on the bar cart and am currently on the hunt for some summer-themed items. Stay tuned!

This is my office assistant Bandit, in his afternoon spot. He's the friendliest of our cats (we have 3!) so that's why he's in a lot of these pics. I love the way his leg is hanging off the couch. 

...and heeeerrrre's the nursery! Or a little corner of it, anyway. We still need to get the glider (my mom is buying it and hasn't had a chance to come down yet) but at least we have a crib, dresser/changing table and a white furry rug. #priorities

The bunny is from last year's Oak Island Farmer's Market; it's made from recycled materials and has a pocket in the back for a tooth! The pillow is from the Novogratz collection for WalMart (who knew?) and the gray blanket is from Target.

I found the two end-tables at a local antique shop (still need to sand off the red top) and added glass knobs to match on the dresser/changing table from Target's Simmons collection. Curtains are from West Elm.

Just a few things I've been able to pick up. It's hard when you don't know the gender! Or the size. Or the timing. #sigh

This image is on the final page of our profile book. I originally thought a tiny pair of Converse would be cute but ended up going with flip-flops, which is more our beach-loving style anyway! I hope it conveys our love, excitement and joyful anticipation for our new addition. 

"I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I've asked of him." - 1 Samuel 1:27-28