Saturday, May 7, 2016


This is one of those rare moments.  When everything is quiet.  And I have been sitting down for more than 5 minutes.  And I've been thinking the past few days, what with all these videos flying around the social media-sphere, about life, and motherhood, and grief, and this most insane, couldn't-make-it-up-if-I-tried story that God seems to be writing into my life.  Or is it that He is writing my life into this story.  ?

Either way, per usual, it's a struggle for me to get my mind around it all.

I don't have time (or let's face it- the brain capacity) to start back at the very beginning, but I can't help but think about where I was about 3 years ago.

A couple of days before, I had shuffled my way from the exam room back out to the appointment desk.  The receptionist acted as though I was a nuisance and annoyingly asked when I needed to schedule my follow up for.

"Um, I need to schedule surgery.  A D&C for as soon as possible, please."

Instantly she softened and escorted me to a spot away from the hubub of the largest baby factory in the greater Phoenix area.

I'm so glad that I never had to set foot in that place ever again.

And so, as I've recounted in my writing too many times before, the next few days brought a great deal of pain and grief as we experienced the birth of our second child into heaven.  And we were broken.  And we were hopeless.  And I felt forgotten.

It was 3 days before Mother's Day.

And there is something.  About this holiday.  That will always always break my heart just a little bit.  That will make me feel that pain once again.  That will resurrect the darkness.  And the despair.  That will trigger me back to a time and place where it felt as though every commercial, every facebook post, every restaurant, and every store was mocking my pain.

My arms are full of babies now and I still feel it.  Every year.

And as much as I feel it for myself, I feel it for my sisters that I've left behind.  The ones who are still waiting.  Who are nearly out of hope.  Feeling forgotten.  And wondering when their rainbow will come.

Because not everyone gets their rainbow.

And somehow God has seen it fit to give me two.

And what about all of the birth moms out there?  I'm so glad that so many recognize the Sunday before Mother's Day as Bereaved Mother's Day- and of course, everyone knows Mother's Day.  But how many know that the Saturday before the holiday has been deemed Birth Mom's Day?

I'm guessing not very many.

Not only does she go on without her child, but she stands by and watches someone else raising her, loving her, mothering her.

There is putting a child in the ground and there is watching them live as a part of a completely different family- with traditions and birthdays and holidays that don't include the one who brought them into this world.  Which is harder?  I don't know.

But both are impossible.

So tomorrow is Mother's Day.  A day that I'm reminded of the daughter that I lost on May 8, 2014.  A day when I miss all of my children who aren't here.  And when my heart hurts for the other loss moms and the birth moms who feel an extra sting that day.

But also a day where I am called to celebrate the privilege of having a mom.  And of being a mom.  And if you would have told me 2 years ago that in one short year,we would be standing in front of our church family promising to raise our 5 month old daughter to know and love the Lord, I would have laughed.  And if on that day, one year ago, you told me that once again, on Mother's Day we would be standing in front of the church, this time dedicating our second daughter to the Lord- I might have actually smacked you for making such a seemingly cruel joke.

And yet here we are.

Suffice it to say, this day carries more emotion for me than most other days.  And I don't know how to say it other than this:

To the moms:  of little ones, big ones, and the middle ones with the braces and awkwardness in between.  I know now more than ever that you really are in the trenches every day.  Maybe you work outside the home too, maybe you don't.  But there is no doubt:  you work.  hard.  They say that the days are long but the years are short.  I'm just at the long day part right now, but I've seen enough around me to believe that second part is true too.  So love big.  Hug often.  Put down the vacuum for a few minutes.  Take a nap when the opportunity arises.  And be gentle with yourself because what you are doing is hard work but the fact is, no one else can mother your kids as well as you.  They weren't given to you by mistake.

To the moms with empty arms:  I know you ache.  I know some days it takes everything in your being just to get out of bed and get dressed.  To eat breakfast and to present any semblance of sanity to the outside world.  Or even to yourself.  Because sometimes you have to fake it til you make it.  I know you feel alone.  And I know you feel rejected.  And betrayed.  And to you I say:  do what you must to survive.  Dye your hair.  Get a tattoo.  Adopt a puppy.  Take a trip.  Write a memoir.  Plant a memorial garden.  Start a support group.  Surround yourself with family, friends, and mentors that don't require you to be anything other than what you are; even if what you are is an utter mess.  Ask them to pray with you.  Ask them to sit with you.  Ask them to carry hope for you because you can't carry it for yourself.  Ask them to watch cartoons with you.  Whatever it is.  Breathe. and throw whatever you have left into asking God to use your pain.  To use the life of your child or children for something good.  And then turn the cartoons back on. And for today.  That's enough.

To my mom:  You know I'm not good at the mushy stuff.  But you can thank my dad for that because half of my genetic makeup is him. So this is easier for me to say here than it is for me to say it in person.  I get it.  I'm only a year and four months in.  And I get it.  I get how you felt when I was born.  I get how you felt when you held me for the first time.  And I get how you felt when they told you that you would be going home without me for a while.  And I get that that would only be the very first of many many times that your mother heart would break for me, your daughter.  Because now that I know what it is to experience all of that.  I have a glimpse of how it must have felt as the years went on.  And there were moments that I made you proud.  And moments that I infuriated you.  And moments where all you wanted to do was take the pain away.  To put it on yourself so that I wouldn't have to experience it.  But you couldn't.  Or rather; you couldn't take it away but I understand now that you must have felt everything that I felt right along with me.  The times that I was terrified and the times that I was broken.  I really put you through it, didn't I?  There is so much that I wish I could take back.  But then we both know that we wouldn't be where we are today without some of those hard times we endured.  I don't think I would be at your house 2-3x per week.  I don't think my kids would be taking over your home and filling the backyard with shrieks and giggles and smiles.  And I don't think we would be just sitting at the dinner table after everyone has gone, talking about life and love and loss.  It feels silly to say that I love you.  And so I say this:  I need you.  And that will never change.

To my daughters:  It's impossible to know where to begin or how to even wrap this up.  On a similar note, if you guys could quit stealing every single one of my brain cells every day and leave me with just a few, that would be great.  <3   I will never in a million billion years be able to make you understand how desperately I want to be your mom.  The depths that God asked me to wade through to get to you.  And how convinced I became that you simply didn't exist.  And so if some days, I seem surprised to see you.  Please know that I don't have short term memory loss.  It's just that sometimes I wake up and think that maybe you were a dream.  One that was too good to be true.  The thing is, I am going to fail you a hundred times in a hundred different ways.  I already have.  You live here, so you know.  So I can't promise perfection, or anything even close to it, but I can promise you this:  Neither of you were a mistake.  Quite the opposite- each of you is a bona fide modern-day miracle.  See, I tried to make you happen.  Your dad and me- we did everything within our power to force your existence.  To find you.  But we couldn't.  And so, when you came to us- Babies- it was by no accident.  Yes- it's true that you came to us in very different ways.  And I know that all of us will have our struggles with that- trust me- I worry about that every single day.  I worry about making everything even.  Exactly the same for both of you.  Perfect.  Fair.  But the reality is, I will never succeed in that.  Isobel- I never carried you in my body, but I carried you fully in my heart, before you even took your first breath.  I searched for you through dry deserts and torrential downpours.  I waited and waited and waited for you.  I fought for you.  I jumped off of cliffs for you.  And I trusted God with you.  And I have never been so scared to lose anything in my whole entire life, as I was scared to lose you.  And I would do it all over again.  I know that we will have our issues.  That you will wonder.  And you will grieve.  Which is why, from the day you were born, I begged God to hold you, comfort you, ease your pain, and bring you healing and peace.  I know none of it will be easy.  When you really understand it.  When it all sinks it.  And I know that I won't be able to change the challenging journey that will be for you.  But I promise that I will be at your side.  I'll hold your hand.  I'll wipe your tears.  And I will walk through it with you.  Roselynn- You're only 11 weeks old and already I carry so much regret.  I know you will never remember this, but last night as I rocked you back to sleep, something clicked.  And it was like someone hit the replay button.  And I saw the last 10 months flash before my eyes.  All the times when I would pick up a newborn outfit at the store.  And quickly place it back on the rack.  When I would catch myself trying to picture your face- and automatically redirect my thought to anything else.  Or the worst.  When I would realize my hand was resting on my belly.  And I would immediately move it away.  And re-watching those moments in my mind last night, something happened and the proverbial dam burst.  Because now you are here.  And I know you're real.  And you are the cuddliest bug.  And that I'm your mom.  And I think you know that.  But Rose.  I just.  Was afraid to want you.  And never expected you. And when you start to understand that.  When it all sinks in.  I'm afraid you may hate me.  That you will believe that you weren't wanted.  But baby.  I searched for you through dry deserts and torrential downpours.  I waited and waited and waited for you.  I fought for you.  I jumped off of cliffs for you.  And I trusted God with you.  And I have never been so scared to lose anything in my whole entire life, as I was scared to lose you.  And I would do it all over again.  So hear me now.  You, my fluffy-haired child, are deeply wanted and deeply loved. And your very existence is nothing short of a miracle.

And so.

On this day set aside to celebrate.  To honor mothers.  I can't help but chuckle as I think on the events of this evening and shake my head just a little at the constant lessons and perspective shifts that seem to happen at the end of every day in this current stage of life.  See, I had plans today.  Plans to plan. Plans to prepare.  Plans to pack the diaper bags, get the clothes ironed, clean the kitchen, wrap the gifts, finish this blog, spend time with my husband, and get to bed early.

Now you're chuckling too.

I'm so grateful that God sent me these beautiful girls.  Yes, they are a picture of hope and of healing and of restoration.  But they are also a perfectly, lovely, messy, constant reminder of the love that Christ has for me.  It is true that He is our heavenly father, but is it not also true that He has a mother heart?  Does He not also know what it is to put all plans, desire, comfort, and need to the side for the better of another? Does He not also know what it is to be willing to give His life for the children He loves?  He does.  And He did.  And while I'll never achieve perfection status in this motherhood journey,  I can pray that He molds my mother heart to be even just a little more like His- and reminds me just how fortunate I am to be a part of it all.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

A Double Rainbow

Truth be told, right now I'm fighting every urge to pour a glass of wine and turn on whatever Netflix show pops up first in hopes of falling asleep or at least turning my brain off until the next time one of my kiddos needs attention.

One of my kiddos.


But.  I'm afraid that if I wait much longer, the memories of the past couple of weeks will begin to fade before I get a chance to really process them.  And in sharing whatever comes out here, as always, I'm hoping that maybe even just one soul who reads this will feel encouraged, loved, validated, or less alone on his or her journey.

And per usual- I have no idea where to begin.

So a few things here and now.  One, you likely won't see a lot of pregnancy/birth lingo here for this essentially being a birth story.  Not because it isn't applicable and not because the folks who might read this wouldn't have already heard it all/seen it all/experienced it all before.  Mostly because it just all still feels so dang personal and while I haven't been shy about spilling my emotional guts here for the last few years, my physical guts are a different story.  And for me, this is more about the emotional and spiritual journey of it all- even though my body does still kind of feel like it got hit by a truck.  ;-)  Secondly, even as I try to get this out here, in many ways I am still trying to come to grips with it all.  Two daughters have become my daily reality, but my heart and my brain are very much still trying to catch up with my physical responsibilities.

And so we went to bed on Friday night, February 19th, with nothing but our giant to-do list on our minds.  Our home projects and pre-baby plans were extensive including but not limited to finishing the nursery, painting furniture, cleaning the garage, replacing the sunscreens on the house, and making about a thousand freezer meals.  We had grandma time set up for Izzie and we were all set to go first thing in the morning.  It's no secret that I hadn't been able to connect very much if at all to this pregnancy and this baby, but the logical sense in planning was very easy for me.  And in many ways, I think, it gave me something I could control.  The only thing I could control.

Or so I thought.

It took me about 2 hours to figure out if my suspicions were correct- well not only to figure out that I was right but also to argue back and forth with myself as to whether it meant I needed to do something-- and so at 4 a.m. I finally called Karen and told her that my water had broken.  I think I was very much in shock and pretty much 100% in denial-- which is why my next call to OB triage went something like this:

"Um, hi.  I'm 36 weeks and I believe that my membrane ruptured.  I'm thinking that I might need to come in but wanted to call first."

"Oh, okay.  Then yes, you definitely need to come in."

"Well.  I have a lot that I need to do today so how long do I really have?"

".... you should go ahead and come in."

" Okay, well, so I have some time right?  Like enough time to go to the store and take care of a few things?  I'm not having contractions or anything."

"....No.  No you should not go to the store.  You need to come in."

"Okay well my husband and my baby are still asleep so I can take my time right?"

"If you think your water has broken, then you need to get here.  You can take a shower and pack your bag but then you need to come in.  Please do not wait."

Yeah, it actually went like that.  I don't know exactly what I thought was happening, but I knew that my body wasn't really doing anything, I felt perfectly fine, it was way too early, and gosh darn it, I HAD PLANSSSS. !

So I sat on the couch in the dark for a while longer, thought seriously about taking some time to clean my baseboards (that was also on the list for Saturday), and eventually got up and ate some cereal.  I very slowly began to get my things together and probably did some dishes and started some laundry in between.  And finally at about 5:30 I woke Jesse up and told him what was going on.

About an hour later, I sat in a bed in OB triage thinking about what I was going to do first and which meals I was going to have to eliminate on my list since I wouldn't have as much time that day as I had thought when the nurse came back into the room.

"okay.  So.  your water has definitely broken and we will be admitting you."

"......................I don't understand.  I feel nothing.  Don't I have some time?  I can at least go home until contractions start right??  I have meals to cook.  Lots.  of meals."

(starting to see a pattern here?  I know.  I know.  I was nuts.  and I think everyone knew it but me.)

"No.  Your water has broken.  You are staying here and you are having this baby.  It's going to be okay, but you can't go home, ok?"

And as soon as she left to go make arrangements to have us moved upstairs I lost it for what would be the first time out of about a thousand.

Staying?  admitted?  baby?  Having a baby?  Right now?  Like today?

And I began to feel like I was watching it all happen to someone else.  Even now, two and a half weeks removed from it all, I still wonder if it was me this all actually happened to or if it was someone else. All of it.  Is very difficult to put into words.

And so it all began.  Or ended.  All I know is that the prior 7ish months that I had been stuffing into the closet in the corner of my heart, the ultrasounds and the kicks and the excited questions from loved ones-  suddenly, those closet doors burst open, seemingly without any warning-  and it all came crashing down on me, knocking me to the floor and practically taking the breath from my very chest.

Things went.  Extremely slowly.  The Little had decided that it was time, but apparently she forgot to send the memo to the rest of my body.  And even before I elected to get the drugs, I felt numb.  No matter how hard I tried, I could NOT see it.  I still couldn't see it.  Monitors and beeping and IV's and holy cow the pain- and I still.  could.  not.  see it.  I couldn't see the end.  I couldn't see her.  I couldn't see how any of this was going to go.

And the closest thing that I can compare it to is how it felt when we were waiting for our finalization date with Isobel.  Somewhere in my head I knew that we were going to pledge to be her parents forever, her name would be changed to ours, and the 9 long months of waiting and waiting and waiting and never knowing- they were coming to an end.  But I couldn't see it.  That golden picture that all adoptive families have- of the judge and the parents and child, all beaming from ear to ear- I couldn't see ours, no matter how hard I tried.

And it was no different this time around.  I mean.  It was completely different.  But the denial and inability to connect with reality?  That was the same.

I'd finally called Karen later that evening and told her I was hurting and I was ready for her.  And so around 6:30 pm, the Mary Poppins of the doula world flew in with her umbrella and carpet bag full of tricks and loveliness (two words:  peppermint oil.  trust me. Karen) - and I felt so relieved.  I may not have known how it all would go, but I knew that I couldn't do it without her.  And that was the deal.  We made it.  7 months before when I called her in utter shock to tell her that I was maybe pregnant.  And I told her that no matter what was going to happen and when I could not would not do it without her- and she agreed.  And I was pretty sure at that time that she would be supporting me through another loss- I didn't know how or when, but that's what I was expecting to be sure.  I never thought it would end in a hospital room with the sound of a baby's heartbeat on the fetal monitor.  Ever.

And I digress a bit, but.  Can I just say?  All that we had been through together.  The heartwrenching middle of the night conversations and the plans and dreams for our ministry and the phone call to tell me about Isobel- and the tears and more tears and still more tears- and here we were.  Friends.  it was.
Unreal.  To have her at my side while all of this was happening.

And so beautiful and perfect that God would write it like this.  Because I really believe that other than my husband, there is probably no one else on the planet that understands my mother heart like this girl does.  Who has been in the thick of it with me- time and again.  And who never ever gave up hope that God would bring me earthly babies.  Who carried that hope for me for a very long time when I just couldn't carry it for myself.  Who God used to literally find us our firstborn, Isobel.  And walked that entire journey with us, right down to the finalization date.  And now stood with me, holding my hand, believing once again when I couldn't believe it for myself- that God was, once again, quite literally delivering on His promise for our second rainbow.

This is what happens when God writes your story.  You can't make this stuff up.

And so for the next several hours, I leaned on Jesse and Karen heavily.  And can I just say also?  That husband of mine.  If God has done nothing else in the past 3 years, He most definitely has used the deaths of our children to knit our hearts even closer together.  Through every sorrow, every point of grief, every heart wrenching holiday, month after month and tear after tear- and the journey to bring Izzie home.  Wow.  We would NOT have made it through that pressure cooker were it not for the unity and deep love that God had blessed us with.  And yet this?  Childbirth?  Took it to a whole new level that I didn't even know was possible.  And I can honestly say that my love and my respect for Jesse have only grown even more so.

Heather Lynch Photography

Heather Lynch Photography

Heather Lynch Photography

Heather Lynch Photography

Heather Lynch Photography

And into the late night and early morning we went with very little changes happening.  And after another very sleepless night, the shift change was about to happen when my night team of nurses came in and asked us if we would be okay with taking a look at some paperwork and signing off on surgery.  Not much was happening and unfortunately, the baby's heart rate was dropping every so often, so not much could be done to force stronger contractions without risk to her.  I have to say that I really had no plans and no expectations (every single doctor and nurse that came in asked me what my birth plan was and I told every one the same thing- Can you please get this baby out alive and get me out alive?  I really don't care about the rest.)  but I was hoping to avoid a nasty surgery recovery given that I had a toddler at home to care for as well.  But we agreed that if that's what the doctor was recommending at that point that we would sign whatever they needed and wait to talk to the doctor for the actual plan.  And so we sent out a few updates to our loved ones letting them know that it was looking like surgery may be happening when the doctor walked in a short time later.  She wasn't my doctor but she was very nice, asked us a few questions, and told us what she was thinking.  She wanted to try one other thing to see if she could get the baby to respond more safely in hopes that we could continue on and delivery normally- but she also said that after she finished her next patient, she would come back and do the c- section if it was what we wanted.

Man.  that was tempting.  Any sane, level-headed person could see that a few more hours of labor to get through to a normal delivery versus a major surgery and subsequent recovery would be far better in the long run- but at that point, I was neither sane nor level-headed.  The offer to have it all finally over sure sounded good.  And I kind of wanted to take that offer.

But.  I was also exhausted.  And for once in my life?  Too tired to argue.  And so we went with the doctor's original plan to replace some of the amniotic fluid that had been lost and was most likely causing the distress to the baby and see if it would work.

And so as we settled in to wait some more, and I let my photographer know that one way or another it looked like things would be wrapping up in the next few hours.  We were nearing the 36 hour mark and something was going to give.

And on that note- It's still so weird to me that we had a photographer.  But then again.  It really isn't.  Because this isn't someone that I found on social media or even through a friend.  This was someone I have a very special connection with, who approached me a few months back and asked if I would consider letting her come photograph the birth.  Never in a million years would I have really even considered seeking this out, much less agreeing to an offer for it.  But this was very different.  See.  Heather Lynch is someone that I met just a little over a year ago- when my husband and I sat next to her and her husband in our adoption class.  We connected with them very easily and were able to stand on the sidelines and watch as after years and years of waiting and praying, they were able to adopt their precious little boy.  I've found that there is something very unique about the connection that adoptive moms have with one another, and the connection that I felt with Heather was just that.  Special.  And unique.  And how cool would it be, to have her take these photos for us.  I was and still am completely honored that she would even offer much less agree to this, given her own long and arduous journey to motherhood.  It's something that I know came from great sacrifice on her part and I will forever be grateful to have had these life-changing moments captured as beautifully as they were.

And I think it was somewhere around 1:15 pm when Karen leaned down with her face next to mine and told me that it was time.  I told her that I wasn't ready and I couldn't do it.  And so the three of us said one last prayer, faint praise music playing in the background.

Heather Lynch Photography

And at about 2:20 pm, my second daughter was born (apparently she flew?!  I couldn't see but that's what they told me) into the world and someone put her on my chest.  I don't remember a whole lot about the next few seconds, but I remember very clearly that the only words that I could get out were, "She's real?  She's real?  I can't believe she's real??"

I don't know if I was expecting a puppy to come out or what, but I certainly wasn't expecting a baby.

 And as quickly as she was there, she was gone.

And so began the longest and darkest five minutes of my life.

No one from the other side of the room was saying anything.  And where there had originally been like one or two personnel, there were suddenly a dozen, running into the room, moving very quickly, yelling things like "what doctor delivered this baby??!" and telling the photographer to stop taking pictures immediately.  But no one.  was telling us.  ANYTHING. And there was no noise from the baby.  And no movement.

And in that moment. I believed with every fiber of my being that my daughter was dead.

It was.  in many ways.  My very worst of nightmares.  My deepest fear.  And still even in this moment as I recount it, renders me nearly paralyzed.  This was it.  We had made it all this way.  And she was dead.  And they were trying to revive her.  But she was dead.

And I couldn't do anything but lay there, screaming out with a voice that was pretty much gone, "is she alive??  is she alive?  is she alive?"

And no one would respond.

Heather Lynch Photography

And then we heard it.  "Her heartbeat is....."  And through the sea of people,  I saw a teeny foot kick from across the room.

And instantly Jesse and Karen's voices were in my ears telling me she was alive.

And I don't really know how to explain the rest.  She was gone.  And then she was back.  And it had been nothing short of terrifying.

And we wouldn't find out until the next day or so that she in fact had not been breathing, scored only 4 on her APGAR, and had to be given oxygen.  We will never know what exactly happened or why she had such a hard time when she first came out, but I have to say that it's enough to make me never want to ever experience any of it again.  The physical trauma was temporal and didn't matter.  But the emotional trauma of seeing the lifeless form of one of my daughters?  She was gone.  She came back.  But she was gone.  And I feel like it's going to take me a very long time to heal from that.  Karen and I still talk about it frequently and she told me after the fact that she believed the exact same thing and was begging God and praying into my ear to please give us Rosie back, and believes that's exactly what happened.

Heather Lynch Photography

Heather Lynch Photography

Heather Lynch Photography

Heather Lynch Photography

Heather Lynch Photography

Heather Lynch Photography

Heather Lynch Photography

Eventually Jesse went to the nursery with her in order for the docs to finish what they needed to do, and a while later we were able to get a few moments alone.  And much like the rest of this story, I remember sitting and trying to let it all sink in but it just didn't.  Every moment felt surreal.  Felt as though I was watching it all happen to someone else.

And so as the hours went by during the day and the nights, I tried to begin to un-do the prior 7 months of distancing myself from this child and began to try to open my heart to her in whatever way I could.  It wasn't perfect and it still isn't, but I knew that enough was enough and it was time to try to figure out how to connect.  And for the first time ever, I began to talk to her.

And there was something very freeing about that.

For a few months we had kicked around several possible names, but somewhere along the way we'd taken to the nickname "Rosie" but had never really landed on what full name that would be short for.  After a great deal of back and forth we decided she was definitely a Roselynn Mae- and seeing her full name on the birth certificate paperwork was pretty unbelievable.  With Isobel, it took about a year for that to finally happen- and we were starting to realize that this baby was coming home with us and that would be it- there were no ifs about anyone ever coming to take her away.

This was just all so new.

After spending that night and the next day there, we were more than ready to get home and I was so anxious to finally see Isobel.  We were expecting to be discharged late on Tuesday but as shift change came around, it became clear that the day time staff didn't have the time to get us out, so we were stuck waiting a while longer.  Finally at 10 pm, all the bags were out in the car, we had the carseat ready, and we were just waiting for confirmation that her Bili count was good and we were going to be on our way.  To make a very long story short, her bili numbers were perfect but the lab had suddenly contacted our nurse or the doc on call or somebody (I don't even know and don't remember because I was pretty much brainless at that point) and we were told that our discharge had to be completely halted.  We didn't really understand what was going on and unfortunately, no doctor even came to tell us or to answer our questions.  All we knew is that we had to stay, Rosie didn't seem to be in any immediate danger, and the doctor would be in touch with us the next morning.

After another complete meltdown on my part (oops) and another sleepless night (me and hospitals don't really get along), I was anxious to find out what in the world was going on with Roselynn and get the heck out of that place.  Finally, the pediatrician came in and explained to us that it was possible that Rosie had some type of infection and they could not let her go until they performed another culture to know for sure.  This would take 24-48 hours- and he told us that we would be leaving the hospital without her as a result.

There is nothing that anyone could have said at that point to bring me back.  It was now Tuesday and I'd gone without any sleep since the 3 hours I'd gotten on Friday night, I hadn't seen one daughter in over 3 days, and was now being told that I was going to have to go home and leave my new baby at the hospital for an undetermined amount of time because she could potentially have a life-threatening infection.  To compound the situation, my discharge orders had been thrown out so that we could stay the second night, and I now had to wait an unknown amount of time to be re-discharged so that Jesse could take me home to try to get a little sleep.  After Rosie was settled in the NICU and something like 2 or 3 pm had rolled around, I told Jesse that I was just going to leave.  I didn't care what it meant, I was taking off my armband, getting the heck off of that floor, and going back downstairs to sit with my baby.

I'd pretty much reached full breakdown/delirium mode and was operating on I don't even know what.  Thankfully, just as I zipped my last bag, the nurse came in with my discharge papers and we made our way back to the NICU to be with Rosie.  At that point I became extremely emotional and Jesse decided it was best that I go home for a little while and promised that we would come back that evening.  And as I was wheeled out the doors, I shuffled to the front seat past the two other women sitting in their wheelchairs holding their babies in the carriers on their laps- I settled into the car and the dam completely burst.

I was thinking about my baby still inside and I was thinking about the thousands of women every year who leave the hospital without their babies, and are forced to go home to face an empty nursery and a lifetime of grief.  I knew that at least that wasn't what I was facing and that by all accounts given, Roselynn was doing beautifully, but it didn't matter.  I wept.  I wept for the moment that my daughter was born and refused to breathe, I wept from the guilt that she came back and was alive, I wept for the 7 months I'd failed to connect to her, I wept for the fact that I was abandoning her in this place, and I wept for the women who would leave this place empty-handed only to go home and plan their baby's funeral.

It was a lot.

Nearly 3 weeks later and I think that I'm still processing a lot of it.

And I don't remember much of the rest of that day but was taken home and cared for by my husband and a close friend as I alternately wept and slept for the next 15 hours.

The next morning as we were sitting with Rosie in the NICU, we ran into her doctor who told us that the preliminary tests looked great, the original test had in fact been a false positive, and we would be able to take her home after one more night.

And so after what seemed like an eternity (what IS it about a hospital stay that makes you feel like you've been in an alternate universe instead of a few miles from home ?!), we brought our Rosie home to meet our Izzie and had our first moments together- our new little family.

And in the last 3 weeks I've learned and been reminded of a lot.

My husband and I?  We are a great team.  We always have been but our nightly ability to switch between a zone and man-to man defense depending on the immediate baby need has just confirmed that.  And I love him and have so much respect for him as a husband and as a father.   I'm reminded of how integral our friends and family are to all of this- plain and simple, we need them, lean on them, and would not be where we are without them. I've learned that moments of silence are to be treasured and that a 4 inch piece of felt that resembles a baby wipe can keep my toddler entertained for literally hours.  I've also learned that baby-wearing is going to be key to surviving this next chapter and sometimes that means Rosie will accompany me to the bathroom.  But if it's between that or wetting my pants, it's probably okay.  I've learned that one day my toddler may have a future in acting, judging by the musicals she has been putting on for herself in the middle of the night.   I've also learned that I can do more than I thought I could and that I can carry two babies up the stairs at the same time- as long as Juno is nowhere around and I take my time.  And tonight I learned that my toddler is perfectly happy to be served black beans, broccoli, and cheerios as a main course for dinner.    And on days like this one, there are a few dishes in the sink and a load of laundry in the dryer that I will likely not get to before I die in a pile when Jess gets home.  But that's okay because there were other more important things that needed my attention.  Namely.  My husband and my children.

I've had older and wiser moms with kiddos this close together tell me that I likely won't remember much of the next year.  And that there will be long days and there will be hard days.  But that it will all be worth it and that more than likely, my girls will end up as besties.

I don't know how to cap this other than this. I don't know why God has chosen to give us so much.  I don't know why He has entrusted us with two beautiful daughters.  And I don't know why our other babies had to be born into heaven before He gave them to us.  I feel like I have no idea how to parent, much less how to parent one adopted child and one biological child in such a way that both feel equally loved and wanted.  Daily, I fear that I will fail them both in that.  And.  I don't know what will happen next and I've given up trying to guess.  But I do know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is faithful.  Always.  I'm so tired that even my tired is tired.  But my heart.  Has never been so grateful.

Friday, January 15, 2016

thirty one weeks and one day

I’ve watched this movie a million times in the last 2-3 years.  I watched it for the first time in the theaters when I was pregnant and I’ve watched it at least a half a dozen times since then- through many painful tears.  It’s stupid really.  I mean.  Why would a girl like me subject herself to a movie like that when it hurts so much?

What To Expect When You’re Expecting.  I mean.  Really. ??!  I actually had to go out and find a second copy of this book because after three dead babies, I’d thrown my copy in the garbage can and now that I finally had a few questions again that I didn’t want to google, I needed the darn thing.


Maybe it was the woman who didn’t know how to stop “trying.”  Who wanted it more than anything, and when it didn’t happen, didn’t know how to stop wanting it.

Maybe it was the woman who carried all of the guilt.  The guilt for, as she put it, “not being able to do the one thing a woman was supposed to be able to do.”

Or maybe it was the woman who saw her dreams come crashing to a halt in an ER bed with her man by his side, head in his hands, lost as to what to do next.

Well.  Here I am, watching it again tonight.  Still riding the emotional waves through every storyline.  Still able to identify with each one.  But maybe realizing that there’s a storyline missing.  There’s one woman who isn’t depicted in all of this.  What about the woman who can’t connect to any of it?  Who, two short months from her due date, still can’t utter the word “pregnant?”  Who had to fight like crazy just to be able to swap the pronoun “her” in place of “it.” 

Does this mean that I’m the only one?

Once again.  Something is deeply wrong with me.

It’s been a long six months.  And I have thought quite a few times about trying to get some of this out.  And every single time, I’ve chickened out.  Given into fear.  The fear that my unfiltered thoughts and feelings and the reality of the place in which I find myself would be too much for someone else to hear.  Or for me to have to read on paper.  But it’s time.  Literally.  Almost time.  So here it is.  Well…some of it, anyway. 

The night that I told Jesse when he came home from work, I cried.  I cried and I hid my face.  It wasn’t like the first time.  Or the second.  And I think I’ve blocked out the third.  I was so afraid that he would be angry.  That he would be mad- at me.  Truth be told, he laughed.  A lot.  For a while.  And I don’t remember too much after that.  Other than that I felt slightly relieved.  He wasn’t mad at me and if I didn’t know any better, I’d say he was even happy.

And there’s no way that I could recount the 6 months that have gone by since then and not end up with a rather long novel here- but the abridged and fragmented version is as follows.

Everyone has been so.  Happy.  Overjoyed.  Excited.  Emotional.  Kind.  Giving.  Thoughtful.  Really, the love of our community has been just plain overwhelming.

But me?  Well.  I squirm every time the question comes.  “Are you excited??!!!”  And I remember the time when that was the scariest of the questions.  And now comes, “Are you so excited, it’s almost time!?”  “How do you feel?”  “Where are you delivering??” “Do you know what you’re going to name her?”  “Who is your doctor?”  “Are you taking classes and getting a tour?”


I’ve spent the last 6 months in a perpetual state of fear and numbness.  And even some anger. 

There it is.

Once the initial shock started to dissipate (it didn’t disappear- still hasn’t), I felt so angry.  Angry at the timing.  Angry that I wasn’t ready.  Angry that we had no plan for this.  Angry that I felt like I was just starting to get my mother legs and the floor was being ripped out from under me.  Angry that I was just starting to feel like a mother.  Starting to recognize myself as one.  Starting to see this little girl as my daughter.  Who was staying.  Forever.  And now my time as her mom and only her mom was on a stopwatch.  I felt like I was getting gypped.  But more importantly?  I felt like she was getting gypped.  I was only beginning to learn how to be a parent, and how to be a parent to an adopted child, and now comes this curve ball?  I was angry.  For a while.  And it may not seem logical and it may not seem right, but it’s been a very real part of my process that I’ve had to struggle through.  And some days, I still get frustrated about it.  I have to be honest.  I’m not ready to share my time.  I work full time and I don’t get as much time with Isobel as I would like.  And to think that it will now be split between her and another baby?  Some nights that kind of makes me sad.  Doesn’t she deserve more time?  More time to have us to herself?  More time to be the baby?  15 months old and she is going to be a big sister.  In some ways, it doesn’t seem fair.  And the only way I’ve been able to try to deal with that piece of all of this is to ask God to change my thought process.  To replace the negative with the positive.  To give me visions of how much she and her sister will love each other.  To show me that two can be better than one.  And when I think about it like that, I have a lot more peace.   And I know that over time, He will change my heart.  And as that happens, it won’t be such a struggle anymore.

Connecting.  At all.  Has been extremely difficult.  It took me a long time to use the P word.  Even longer to use the B word.  I am completely uncomfortable being the pregnant woman.  Not uncomfortable in the pregnancy sense of the word, but uncomfortable in the emotional sense of the word.  I’ve spent 3 years avoiding pregnant women and their bellies, and now I’m forced to see my own every day in the mirror, and it makes me scared and it makes me unsure.  The first night that I was brushing my teeth and saw it for real for the first time?  I had a complete melt down.  I could no longer pretend this wasn’t real as easily as I had been.  It was now going to be so.  Much.  Harder.   And on that note, I believe I have exactly one “belly picture” of myself that only my husband and one friend have seen.  No one except for my husband has laid a hand on my stomach and at this point, I’m not sure anyone else will.  I can talk about her to some degree, but I have never talked to her.  Except on occasion to ask her if she is still alive.  And I have only two months left they say, and I have not “enjoyed” any of this.  But don’t get me wrong.  Tears of relief stream down my face through every ultrasound.  We went out and bought a little stuffed pink owl that plays music before our 20 wk scan because I couldn’t bear the thought of not having gotten this baby something, even if she did die.  All of the 0-6 months clothes are washed and hung in her closet.  Paint samples are on the wall.  And I started a hospital bag list. I have a framed photo of the last 4D image we got on my desk at work.  Jesse and I have a name that we refer to her as and I’m using it more and more.  And I was able to ask my doctor this week what hospital she delivers at- so now I know.  I’m trying.  I’m trying.  So.  Hard.  I’m trying so hard that it scares me that I even have to try so hard.  I wish I could be like the other women I see around me.  So excited.  So happy.  So connected.  So.  Maternal.  But I’m not.  And I’m not sure I can be.  And maybe that’s okay.  But either way, I am really hoping that people won’t hold it against me, because most of the time I feel more guilty about it than I can really put into words.

The truth is, I’m waiting to want this baby.
What kind of mother says that?  Feels that?  What kind of woman who has grieved the loss of three children and the failure of fertility treatments, gets pregnant, and then says that? 

The only thing that I have to compare it to and the only thing that gives me some hope as I wait is looking back on how it was with my Isobel.  We knew about her for two months before she was born, and I was in denial that she was real.  I held her in my arms for the first time, and I was in denial that she was real.  I spent 3 months listening to her cry most of the day and night, and I was still in denial that she was real.  And three months after that, I sat in court and witnessed her legal adoption into our family, and I still didn’t believe that she was real.  And I wanted so desperately to be her mother because I knew that’s what she needed, was a mother, but it was like my heart couldn’t quite catch up to my head.  Knowing that she could leave us at any moment- and still trying to connect with her in that way?  To want her in that way?  That was a bumpy ride.  It took.  A long time.  But the thing is?  Somewhere along the way?  At some point in all of it (I have no idea exactly when), that changed.  And she was my daughter and I was her mom and I love her like a daughter and get frustrated with her like a daughter and want her like a daughter.  I can’t picture life without her, and when I think about her sometimes, it feels like my heart is going to explode into a million pieces.

So there is hope.  But for now?  I wait. 

I have no idea why God has orchestrated all of this this way.  And I have no idea how we are going to do all of this- we still have so much to figure out.  But.  I have to know, if I know nothing else, that absolutely none of this is a mistake- a shock maybe, but not a mistake- and that there must be a purpose.  I was asking Jesse the other night why he thought God allowed it all to happen quite like this- we are told by pretty much everyone we talk to that we are one giant cliché- and Jesse said he thought maybe God thought it was humorous.  And while I certainly believe God has a sense of humor, that can’t be all of it.  Maybe it’s happening this way because of the ways two babies at once will challenge our marriage, and we will grow tremendously as a result of that.  That would be a good thing.  Maybe this window of time was our one shot to have a biological child.  Maybe (and I’ve thought about this one A LOT), this is what’s best for Isobel.  Maybe this is how she will best grieve the place of loss that all adopted children come from and there will be something incredibly unique in her relationship with her practically twin sister that will help her on that journey.  And as always.  Maybe it has absolutely nothing to do with me or my family and somewhere along the way, this will all be for someone else.  God would think nothing of orchestrating all of the crazy moving pieces of the last 3 years of our family for the good of someone else entirely.  He loves people that much.

Where does all of this leave me?  Where does 31 weeks and one day leave me?  I know one thing.  I am tired.  I am so tired of fighting.  I’m tired of fighting with this fear that has stolen so much from my family.  I’m tired of being afraid.  And I’m tired of trying to go on like nothing is happening.  I’m getting too big and it’s getting too hard.  And she’s kicking too much.  To pretend anymore.  I’m not ready to be really public or to have everyone’s hand on my stomach or to talk about what the hospital will be like. In fact, I still may not be ready to talk about much of it at all.  But I think I’m ready to stop lying to myself.

It’s not a magic cure.  But maybe I start giving myself some new permission.  Permission to feel something other than fear.  Permission to say the P word.  Permission to grab on to any glimmer of hope or excitement even if it’s just a new onesie or the vision of Isobel teaching her little sister how to throw Juno’s ball.  Permission to be able to be where I am for today and to know that that’s okay.  Permission to just sit in whatever divine peace God gives me for today and to trust that while He will absolutely give me more than I can handle, He will not give me what I need to handle it until I actually need it.