Sunday, March 24, 2013

A Same Different Love

My two sons could not be more different--physically, emotionally--in every way.

Little Man is thin. He has dark curly hair and beautiful caramel colored skin. He has an oval shaped face, and very quick feet. He needs a lot of attention from me. He is a little territorial about his things. And he is the lover of the family. He wants to be touching someone at all times.

Linebacker is quite stocky. He has white blond hair and pasty white skin(courtesy of me). He has a round chunky face, and a heavy footed walk. He lives in his own little world, not really caring about what goes on around him. He shares everything with everyone because he knows no different. And he is not much on snuggling, it takes too much time and energy.

They are two completely different people, and yet, I love them both the same. I'm not sure how that works. But it does. I love them the same, but differently. I do realize that this sounds like an oxymoron.

It sends me back to my childhood days of sibling rivalry...

Ok, it was actually a few years ago.

Who am I kidding? It was actually yesterday.

My three siblings and I always accuse each other of being 'the favorite'. "The 'rents definitely love you more than the rest of us. You're more athletic- or smarter- or funnier- or more successful--the list goes on."

Of course our parents always insist that there is not a "favorite", but you know who you are...

I couldn't really understand how you could love all of your children the same amount, but in different ways...until I had them myself.  Now I get it.

I love all of my children the same amount...not one of them one single ounce more than the other. But I love different things about each of them.

I love how Sister is old enough to get humor, and she belly laughs when we share a joke. I love how she wants me to snuggle with her and she plays with my hair as she starts falling asleep. I love the witty things that she says at the funniest times. And when she sings to her brothers when they are upset.

I love the fact that Little Man is so ticklish, and the contagious laugh that he exudes in tickle fights with his daddy. I love that he is content to curl up in my lap and take a nap. I love that his vocabulary is growing and he surprises me daily with new words and phrases. And I love that he listens and observes all that is around him.

I love Linebacker's little bow legged stance. He is already a little charmer as he turns around and grins when he knows that he is in trouble. And even though he doesn't need me often, when he does, he calms down the instant that I pick him up. I love that when he is trying to get my attention, he puts his rosy round face right in front of mine and looks me right in the eyes.

I love my children...the same, yet different.

What this makes me realize about my life is this...God can also love all of his children the same amount, but in different ways. He loves me the same amount as the most successful of his children. I know that some of the things that I do probably make him smile, and make him proud to be my Father. I don't have to be funnier, smarter, or better than anyone. I don't have to be anything or act any way to gain his love. He loves me for me. And He loves you for you!

"We love because He first loved us."--1 John 4:19

*Note that this says "first loved us." Period. US. As in ALL of us.*

"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!"--1 John 3:1

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Walk It Out--It's Your Story

I have a lot of memories from my journey to my children, but one sticks out very vividly.

I was at home when I got the news that a friend who had just gotten married... was pregnant...with twins. I got news like this often, as our friends were all starting families, but for whatever reason, this crushed me. Maybe it was because she didn't have to work for it--it just happened. Or maybe it was because it was twins, something that I always wanted. Or maybe it was just a breaking point for me. But I was heartbroken.

This may sound selfish if you have never experienced infertility. But it is a real feeling. It is not that you are not happy for your friends, because you are! But there is such an overwhelming feeling of sadness for yourself that overshadows that happiness.

I remember sitting in a chair in my living room and the point that I couldn't breathe. Once I had calmed down and thought that I could possibly carry on a conversation, I called my dad. By the time he answered, the tears flowed again. After I let him know that there were no catastrophes, I explained the news that I had received.

"Okay," he replied.

I poured out how unfair it was. I mean, why was he not getting this? She just got married. And she is pregnant with twins?!?! I have been trying to get pregnant--and then find out about my uterus-- and now am hoping to adopt--and I'm just so overwhelmed...why is it so easy for some people?????


After I had purged my pain, tears, and disappointment, he spoke. I don't remember everything that he said, but the point of it was this, "Amy, that is her story--not yours."

It didn't click immediately, but began sinking in. Her story is not my story.

I have my own story.

If only I had known then what my story was going to be. But this is so important to know when you are going through infertility...or any trial for that matter. Sometimes we wonder why we don't have what others have. Why is life so easy for them? But we have to remember that no two stories are alike. But each is planned.

Now I see that my story is perfect.

You have your own story! Walk it out!!!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Compassion: Let's Show It

I know that I have discussed a few lessons that I learned throughout my journey to becoming a family, and yet, I have discovered another one. As time fades the raw pain of my infertility, my discovery of life lessons learned continues.


Before my struggle with infertility, I was a bit harsh. I cared about people and had a heart to help others, but I was a little judgemental. I wondered many times why people dealing with issues didn't just deal with them and move on.

My parents divorced when I was seven. It was not nice. It was not calm. It was really hard. In fact, it really stunk.  At age seven-- I grew up. I became a shield for my sister. I tried to stop anything coming our way from ever finding her. And I held all of the negativity inside. That was my focus-- to protect and to make everything okay.

That is serious business for a seven year old.

That became my "job"-- my personality-- my life. All work and no play. Take care of others. Make everybody happy, even if it costs you your own happiness. That was my role... the "go between", the peacemaker. And I was okay with that.

I guess because I came out of the divorce "normal," I thought that everyone should deal with their issues and move on... I mean, I did it as a kid, right?

But making the decision of pushing the fertility envelope versus adoption got me. I was completely at a loss for what to do, and it brought my anxiety to crazy levels. I couldn't just deal with it and move on. The decision completely controlled me. I was lost.

This process was by far one of the hardest things that I have had to conquer in my lifetime. And it took me a while, but I did it.

I realized after this wild and crazy journey, that anyone can hit rock bottom in life. Each person is only one doctors appointment away from hopelessness. Or one lay off away from unemployment. Or one instant from loss.

I realized that the homeless man that holds up a sign on the exit ramp may one day have been a successful businessman that took one step and was lost.

Or the woman with dirty kids at the grocery store purchasing her groceries with food stamps may have had a great life-- until her husband left her.

Or that the pregnant teenage girl may have had great things to look forward to in her future-- until she made one wrong decision.


I know that we think sometimes that we are "better than" fill in the blank. But we are not. No one is immune to sickness, a bad economy, or impulse decisions. We are all human, and we all make mistakes. Luckily, we have a God who usually turns those mistakes into blessings, whether it be divorce, infertility, or another disappointment. Show compassion to your fellow man-- because he is just like you.

"This is what the Lord Almighty says:'Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. In your hearts do not think evil of each other.'"--Zechariah 7:9-10

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Hit Me!!!

I am going to have some families that have adopted on my blog! I will have a list of questions for them to answer, so now is your chance! Send me questions that you would like answered by families that have been there!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A Mommy's Work Is Never Done

Before Nick and I decided to start a family, I started my interior design business. I talked to him about how great it would be to have flexible hours when the children came along. I thought that it would be absolutely perfect. I was a tad naive--to say the least.

I had no idea what it would be like to be mother, much less one who worked from home. Being a mother is just like anything else--you just can't understand until you ARE one.

As we worked towards becoming a family, I got more excited about the flexibility of my work, and how life would not change much once the babies came along. You can laugh...I was clueless.

Once Sister entered our lives, work was a little harder, but it was completely doable. I could work while she napped, and take her with me to most meetings. Once she got too big to take with me, I could find someone to watch her for an hour or so while I met with clients. Life changed as far as work went, but not drastically.

But once Little Man came along and I was toting Linebacker in the was a horse of a different color. I did okay until the end of my pregnancy when I was quite large, and toting a punkin seat with a 6 month old in it. That was rough. But I still did it.

Now it is almost impossible.

All three are mobile and vocal. Taking them to a meeting is absolutely fraught with peril. And finding a sitter for all three is not exactly a walk in the park either. So my work has hands are more than full just being a mommy.

But I continue to work as I can because I love what I do, and I hope to continue doing it once the kids are in school. It is not easy, though.

You see, what I didn't realize before kids, is that when you work from home, you are never completely at work--and you are never completely at home. The work emails and phone calls come in
all day...and the wants and needs of the kids do too. They constantly intertwine.

But I try to remember that my babies will only be little for a short time.

When I am trying to work, and Sister is sitting in front of her pink and black plastic make up stand clipping her hair up and putting on her earrings, and she says,"Mommy, can you help me put this earring on? I am going to a party," I stop my emails and swoop her hair behind her ear to clip the earring on. In my mind I fast forward a few years when she will be sitting in front of a real make up stand getting ready for a real party...maybe prom. And she won't need help with her earring--she will be able to do it herself. She will probably roll her eyes and apologize to her friends while I try to take a million pictures.

So when she is standing in her plastic high heels looking at me and she says," Mommy, put your shoes on too! You can come to the party," I put my work down and slip on some way too small, gawdy plastic heels to attend the party with her.

When I am searching for accessories online and Linebacker has the croup and cannot get comfortable to take a nap, I put the computer down and pick him up. I snuggle him into my chest and lay down in my bed to hold him until he feels secure and safe enough to fall asleep. I know that he is completely asleep when I feel the drool soaking my shirt collar, but I have an internal battle on whether to go work while he is napping, or enjoy the moment. I usually lay there with him and listen to him breathing. There is nothing like holding a sleeping baby on your chest.

I know that in a few short years, maybe less than I know, he will be taller than me and I will look up at him. I will not ever be able to hold him this way again. He may need me still at times, but he will never admit it, as it is not a "manly" thing to do. So I continue to let his drool soak my shirt and I smile as his little chickadee hairs tickle my face, and his chubby hands lay on my arms.

When I am trying to find vendors for a clients logo, and Little Man reaches up to me wanting to be held, I try to remember how short this time is. It won't be long until he has no desire to sit in my lap and rub my arm with his sweet little hand. He will not care if I am nearby or not. As frustrated as I sometimes get with him always being on my coattails, it won't be long until I will be wishing that he was right there with me. So I stop the search and pick him up and watch for the millionth time, a Wonder Pets episode, while he rubs my arm hairless.

So most nights, I am up at 11pm, once everyone else is asleep, answering emails. I am searching madly for that perfect light fixture, getting quotes from vendors, and trying to find the perfect solution to space planning problems for my clients. I am usually exhausted, but that is my new norm. I enjoy and value my work, but also my children.

Being a mommy itself is a full time job, and a mommy's work is absolutely never done. But I try to remember to stop and take time with these children, as they are my most precious treasure.

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates."--Deuteronomy 6:5-9

Friday, March 8, 2013

No Good Deed...

I had to run some quick errands this morning, and I wanted to get them done and get back home as soon as possible. It would be great if I could even sneak a nap in, but back home and in pj's would suffice. I got everyone dressed, buckled into their 5 point harnesses, and I was on my way. I ran errand number one, and was heading to number two when Sister asked for a doughnut. I thought, "Yeah, that's a good idea!" No arm twisting there. So I ran through Krispy Kreme and got a dozen. Yes-a dozen. It's a better deal--so sue me!

I paid for the aromatic box and handed each little chubby hand a chocolate iced sprinkle covered doughnut. I cannot remember the last time that my car was that quiet. On to errand number two.

I completed that mission somewhat painlessly and we were home bound. But as I got close to my house, I saw a sign to a park that I had wondered about the past few times that I had passed it. So I figured that since I had a minute, I would check it out.

I followed the sign and pulled into a nice little park area. There were a few picnic tables, a large open field, and a compact little playground area. A nice walking trail wound around following the curve of a little creek. I was so glad to have found this hidden piece of nature!

By the way: I usually cannot go to parks alone with the kids because they all run in different directions and I usually lose one or two in one of the millions of nooks and crannies provided by the playground equipment. But this park was perfect for us! It was so small that I could catch one child at the bottom of the slide and have time to help another one across the monkey bars before number three came flying down the slide. Plus, there were no big school kids to further confuse the search for the ones that belong to me.

I decided to put it on my list of things to remember.

But Sister was not having that. "Mommy, can we play at the park?"

I thought about was a pretty day, and we had time...and it would wear them out.

"Okay, but just for a little bit," I conceded.

So I unbuckled three 5-point harnesses, after I replaced two pairs of shoes and socks. (Not to digress, but why must toddlers take off their shoes and socks every time that you get in the car?!?!)

I unloaded the troops and we tromped off to the playground area. The kids climbed and slid and bounced and played. It was pleasant. Everyone was happy and I was even enjoying myself. Then I thought, this is too good to be true-something is surely going to happen to ruin it. But I pushed that negativity out of my head and moved on.

We ran in the open field, climbed on the large rock benches, and stood by the creek looking at all of the wonders that it contained. Then I announced that we could each do one more thing on the playground, and it would be time to go.Everyone ran back to the compact chunk of entertainment and climbed, slid, and bounced some more.

At this point, there was a babysitter and her charge, and an older gentleman with his dog in the area. I told the kids that it was time to go. No one listened. I grabbed Little Man and Linebacker and headed to the car, telling Sister that we were leaving. She usually comes running, but no such luck today.

I got the boys strapped in their harnesses and went back for Sister-- a little frustrated. I went to get her and she did the "drop to the ground and all of a sudden can't walk" thing. I picked her up and threatened to spank. No dice. I spanked her once and told her that it was time to go. She resisted. I finally got her in the car and she did the "My body is straight as a board and I can no longer sit" thing. My frustrations were growing... rapidly. I finally got her buckled in and she screamed bloody murder all the way home, "I don't want to leave the paarrrkkkkk!"

"When we get home, you are going to your room and you are taking a nap because you did not do what mommy said,"I announced.

I did get her home and in the bed, and then I thought,"No good deed goes unpunished." I had gotten them doughnuts and taken an impromptu trip to the park...and it wasn't good enough. She wanted more.

As I pondered this, I realized that her little three-year-old self could be me. We do that to God, or at least I know that I do.

"Thank you for all of my blessings God, but could you please just do this one more thing?"

And if He doesn't, the fit comes.

I am sure that He is thinking,"I gave you a great husband with a job, three kids, a nice house, wonderful family and friends... and you want more???"

But that is unfortunately our nature-- to want more.

I am going to try to be content where I am, because God has absolutely overly blessed me!

I am going to try to remember Sister's fit at the playground the next time that I am wanting more from God. I will consciously unclench my fists and be glad for everything that He has already given to me.

"Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done."
1 Chronicles 16:8

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

An Ode To...My Husband?

I know that I professed in an earlier post that I am not one to publicly brag on my husband... and I'm not. So I suppose I will look like a hypocrite with this post, but the subject matter is so important for anyone facing infertility, that I'll do it anyway.

When you are a woman dealing with infertility, you feel broken, incomplete, and even worthless in some aspects. You cannot do what most women can. Pregnant women and newborns are constant reminders that you are a failure. This hurts in so many ways, but one of the most painful for me was that I could not have a child for Nick. God gives most women and men the desire to have children-- to physically see the combination of the two of them in love. It is the most beautiful thing.

But when you, as a woman, cannot give that to your partner, it is heartbreaking.

I have mentioned before that the years of infertility were some of my worst. I felt many emotions in that time period: anger, disappointment, depression, hurt-- the list goes on. But here is the deal... Nick stuck by me.

I knew that it was his heart's desire for us to create a child, as it was also mine. But when we got to the point of making a decision, and I couldn't emotionally proceed with fertility treatments-- he was 100% on board with adoption. He didn't care how we became a family.

Infertility broke me-- temporarily. I didn't even know who I was anymore. I'm not sure that I would have stuck around had I been Nick. But he did.

I'm not saying that everything was just peachy, as we had to work through a lot of frustrations and emotions. But we worked through them.

Nick never made me feel broken. He never made me feel like "less than a woman." He never made me feel guilty for not pursuing fertility treatments. He never made me feel like we were settling.

He stuck with me through my craziness and my depression. He helped me stand when I couldn't do it alone.

This is soooo extremely important. If you are a man walking beside your woman in the bizarre land of infertility, please support her and make her feel like one in a million-- because it takes a huge toll on a woman's self-worth.

When we started pursuing adoption, Nick was right there. We talked about our future children and were both at peace with our decision to adopt. He was just as excited as I was. When we would see babies of a different race, he would look at me and enthusiastically say,"That could be our baby!"

This sounds so trivial, but it meant everything to me. I realize that there are men out there that couldn't do this. In fact, I have had women tell me that their husbands would never accept an adopted child. This is just reality.

 I know that I got a good man.

My childhood was a bit broken, with divorced and remarried parents. As I explained in a previous post, this taught me that love is not defined by blood.

But Nick grew up in a "normal" family... none of his aunts or uncles are even divorced! So he didn't have the experiences that I did, and yet, he still wholeheartedly jumped in.

I know how extraordinary this is. I know that my first blessing from God was my husband--because when he said "For better or for worse," he meant it.

" the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,' and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united with his wife, and the two will become one flesh;? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate."--Matthew 19:4-6

Friday, March 1, 2013

No Greater Love

I remember exactly what it was like...waiting for them.

One of my friends just picked up her new baby boy from the hospital today. Amazing.

I have been texting with her periodically since she told me that she was meeting with a possible birthmother, and to please pray for her. I have gone through the journey with her, relating almost every step of the way.

I have been there before.

My friends birthmother went into labor on Wednesday.

I checked with her to see how it was going, and her birthmother was dilated 8 cm. I sent question marks a few hours later, and I received a picture of a brand new baby...just born.

 My breath caught in my throat and my eyes misted over. I remember.

The picture of that little blessing flooded me with memories of my two precious ones. I remember exactly what it was like to see them for the first time. I felt so much love and humility. And so much hurt for the precious women who had worked so hard to get them there. And so much thanks and praise for Him. And so much nervousness and anxiety that she might change her mind.

I had known my children for mere minutes, and I loved them. The thought of them leaving was unbearable.

It is an experience that you can only relate to if you, yourself, have been through it. It is such a confusing contrast of emotions. Love, joy, sadness, worry...

Imagine trusting a complete stranger to follow through with one of the hardest things that a woman can ever do. A woman that you probably never even knew a few months ago will change your life forever--and you have to trust that it will be for the better.

On the other side of the story, she is trusting you, a stranger that she didn't know a few months ago, to love and nurture a part of her. A child that was snuggled up to her heart for nine months is going to leave her forever. Can you imagine?

Adoption is such an amazing process. Two women are tied together with a common thread--a child that is infinitely loved before a first breath is even taken. One woman sacrifices everything because of this love. The other understands that sacrifice completely, as she has waited years for this moment.

It is really beyond explanation through words. I think quite often about my childrens' birthmothers', and how grateful I am for them. They gave away everything so that these children will be held back by nothing.

It is truly the ultimate sacrifice. There is no greater love than this.