July 29, 2016

Chosen

"All those days watching from the windows
All those years outside looking in
All that time never even knowing
Just how blind I've been
Now I'm here blinking in the starlight
Now I'm here suddenly I see
Standing here it's all so clear
I'm where I'm meant to be

And at last I see the light
And it's like the fog has lifted
And at last I see the light
And it's like the sky is new
And it's warm and real and bright
And the world has somehow shifted
All at once everything looks different
Now that I see you"

On a random Tuesday morning, when you are more concerned about the minutia of your office work than the big What Ifs of your future - that's when it happens. And I didn't even get the call - I *missed* the call. And the voicemail. And the other calls from M. And all his text messages:

"Call me asap"

"We were picked"

"Baby is here"

Baby is here? Now? We weren't jut chosen for a hypothetical placement that may or may not take place - the baby is HERE and then we were picked?

Instant dizzy, instant tears, instant "HOLY FUCK!"

We were called on Tuesday morning, July 5th, and by 5pm on Friday, July 8th, we were parents. It was that quick. Five and a half years after I first tossed the birth control pills, it happened just that fast. I don't think I've finished processing it, even after 3 weeks.

My someday-baby, my maybe-baby, my dream-that-may-never-happen-and-I-need-to-be-okay-with-that-Baby. She is real and she is here and I can't believe how terrified, humbled, and full of love I felt from the moment I held her tiny. tiny hand.

My A.

My beautiful, amazing daughter, A.

May 04, 2016

The line is moving!

You know when you're in line for a roller coaster or something, and there are periods where you stand and stand and stand and the line doesn't budge an inch. Then all of a sudden, there's movement and everybody shuffles along moving several places up all at once! And its exciting, there's activity, visible progress! That is how I feel whenever I check our agency's "waiting families" page and see that a profile (or two, or three!) have been removed.

I know we aren't technically "in line", the people at the top who have waited the longest are not guaranteed to match any sooner than those at the end of the list, but you can't deny the odds are good. Those who have waited the longest have their profiles shown in the "first batch" provided to expectant moms. Families at the end of the list who have only been waiting a few months will only be shown if the expectant mom asks to see more profiles after the "first batch". This is all contingent upon any specific requests from the expectant mom about attributes she does or does not want in a family, of course. But it seems that, at our agency, most families are open to all races, all genders, and many of the drug exposure situations or difficult life situations. So most of the limitations of who gets shown is down to requests by the expectant mom.

All things being equal, the closer you are to the top of the list, the more often you profile might be shown. Obviously, you start in dead-last place as the newest "active, waiting family". Our agency has between 20 to 30 active families at any one time, on average. We hung out in the low-twenties positions on the list for a loooooong time, slowing creeping upward. After Christmas, it seemed like no one was matching. Nothing happened on the website for at least 2 months straight. I was getting nervous. Then, a week or so before our Spring quarterly meeting with the agency, two families came off the list. That started a trend and every few weeks, more and more families have come off the list! I was particularly happy for 2 families which I had seen on the website back in November 2014 when we were researching agencies. I was happy to see that even those with a long wait did eventually match. Even though these matches aren't related *directly* to M and I, it is still so joyful to see the progress and activity - keeps my hopes up, gives me something to cheer about. And as those families match, our match draws closer! We are now in the top ten, so hopefully our profile is in the "first batch" at least some of the time.

It's hard to not get excited! I'm trying to keep in mind we have not been active a whole year yet and who knows what expectant mothers are looking for. There are a lot of things I talked about in our profile that could be positives to one mom and negatives to another. We just need to keep praying that we are brought together with the mother that is right for us, so that we can develop a strong, lifelong relationship with her for the benefit of our (hers and ours) child.

It is pretty exciting though XD

April 08, 2016

Weighing in the Balance

It is a strange and terrifying thing to get a phone call from your adoption agency - "There's a mother, there's a baby, and there are things you need to know."

No adoption situation is perfect. There's a reason a mother would consider placing her child with other people to be raised. One can't expect that the pre-natal experience will be perfect or will be exactly as you would handle it. And yet, it is so hard to read the facts of a situation and make a decision.

Do we want to be shown? Are we open to accepting the responsibility of care for a child who has already had a rough life? And they're not even born yet. What can you handle? What can't you handle? And how does that feel - making a choice, like we are God or something. Do we have a right to say no? Are we crazy to say yes? Both answers will result in fear, regret, second guessing. We can never know everything we would wish to know.

So we trust God, say yes, pray for these two people we know only from cold facts on a piece of paper. But that piece of paper could be the beginning of the rest of our lives. It is a situation you cannot understand if you have not lived it.

This is peculiar and unique process, the waiting and deciding in adoption. It is nerve-wracking and any decision you make, you are equally sure it is the right decision and the wrong decision. All we can do is pray that God's will is done, since we are at best fumbling in the dark.

Now we wait on tenterhooks for another phone call, which may never come. If we are not chosen, there will simply be silence to inform us. Then we wait for the next situation, the next round of worrying and decision making. I don't know that I'll ever get used to it and I pray I don't have to. This could be it, or it could be a brief stop on our path.


January 04, 2016

Journey's End

Five years ago this month, I threw out my birth control pills as M and I actively began trying to expand our family...

Five years ago.

I can't even.

One part of my brain tells me that five years is not a long time. Another part of brain my brain tells me that the person who threw out those pills is not the same person who is typing these words. She has become like a myth or a fairy tale - there's a kernel of truth in her, but she's not based in any reality that *I* know. Not now.

Over those five years, M and I lived across the country from each other for 10 weeks, got in a car accident, bought a new car, M graduated and got his first "adult" job, we bought a house and moved 45 minutes away from our families. I had more work-related drama than any person should deal with in their entire life and my family endured the crisis of my mom's spinal stroke and paralysis. We have been tested, we have been blessed. And through it all, we tried and tried and tried and TRIED to get pregnant.

At the time, in January 2011, I *thought* I was going into TTC with my eyes wide open. I'd had a PCOS diagnosis since 2006 and I had seen my sister go through fertility treatments to conceive my nephew, A, and the triplets that she lost. I was prepared; my loins were appropriately girded for the fight. I was so. freaking. naive. Nine month wasted trying "naturally" (which was actually nine months spent not ovulating so no shot in hell of becoming pregnant). Four rounds of low-dose clomid which did as much good as trying "naturally". Then spurred to new heights of hope with an RE: surgery and seven heavily medicated cycles over a year and a half. No one could give me a reason for why it wasn't happening for us, but it just wasn't. The RE pushed for IVF, but fortunately I'm a stubborn person who doesn't like to feel pushed into things. I had spent 3 years as a mental wreck from drugs and watching "the whole world" get pregnant around me. The end of 2013 was sad and difficult. It had not been a kind year in a number of ways, but it was the last year I held any hope of being pregnant, of having a "normal" family.

I declared that 2014 would be a year taken off from all things family building. No doctors, no drugs, no agencies, paperwork, or meetings. We would just be us and figure out if that was okay or if we wanted to pursue adoption. I think I started to rediscover myself as a person, no longer a cyclical failure, a monthly pincushion. I needed that time to grieve and heal.

I think 2015 went as well as it did because we took a gigantic pause right as we were at the point of jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire. We needed to know we were ready for that jump and everything that would come after. We had talked through our feelings about never raising a biological child and what adopting really meant, beyond the day someone hands you a cute baby. We dug into the messy, complicated ugliness of what could be in adoption if we did not properly educate ourselves. When we chose our agency and mailed in the application, it felt like a new lease on life, like Hope was a friend again, not a cruel joke. Everything since that day has worked out so well, I pray to God it is a sign we are doing the right thing - finally on the path He set out for us.

 I feel amazingly at peace, so full of hope that 2016 will be our year! 2011 me would be so sad for 2016 me, but that's only because she has no idea - not a clue. I am blessed beyond imagining, beyond reason. I would never go back to any point in the last five years. You couldn't pay me enough to do it. I'm on the other side of that dark, frightening road and life is good.

Happy New Year :-)

December 30, 2015

The Wait So Far

We've been home study approved for 5 months now. We were told we can call the agency at any time to ask for an update on the activity (or lack thereof) on our profile. I wanted to wait a good long while before asking - didn't want to hear that no one has looked at our book. Through the autumn several families with our agency placed, so I hoped that by calling after Christmas, we'd get some good news. Yesterday morning I steeled my nerves and made the call. After a bit of a faff, I was told we have not been shown to any expectant mothers so far. I had prepared myself for that, so I wasn't overly disappointed and I had a plan of action for that possibility. M and I sat down that evening and went over a couple of the home study forms - opened up some of our limitations so we could be shown to more expectant mothers.

Then today I got a call from the agency. Turns out, the spreadsheet they use to track profile activity hadn't been completely updated. Our profile *has* been shown! Twice this month! I'd say that's pretty darn good for only 5 months of waiting. One mother decided to parent in the end, so she never chose a family. The other woman has been looking at profile books for 2 months, has looked at ours twice, but hasn't made a decision yet. I'm not holding out hope that she will choose us, I don't work like that (not after 4 years of infertility treatments). But I am honestly pleased with our progress, regardless of what that mother chooses. I think it is completely reasonable to hope that 2016 will be our year and at some point we will match and bring home a baby!

November 02, 2015

A Milestone

October was a crazy month. It started with M getting a new job offer (he'd been casually applying around for a few months for a variety of reasons). This new job would be military contract work, which we have no experience with and little understanding of. His hiring process was a bit of a rushed disaster (something we were assured by family is the norm for military contracts) that had both M and I tied in stress knots. He accepted the offer under an assumption of a firm start date only to be told later he couldn't start working until mountains of paperwork were submitted. Then, an 11th hour phone call came from M's current employer. A senior level manager (someone at the corporate, international level) who had worked with M on some projects called and asked him what it would take to convince him to stay. Fortunately, M took it as an opportunity to discuss ALL his concerns, not just money. They squared away a deal that addressed his issues and also tacked on a slightly crazy pay increase. So in the span of two weeks: M was offered a new job, accepted new job, learned all the hoops he had to jump through just to start new job, got counter-offer from current employer, accepted, gave regrets to new employer. It was a whirlwind, that's for sure.

We were already on track with our adoption savings. I had worked out that it was likely we'd be able to put away the last bit of money at the end of October. With M's new pay rate, we DEFINITELY were able to set aside what we needed. And so....

We are *OFFICIALLY* done saving for our adoption!!

I am so excited! And humbled! And shocked! And blessed!

We took a leap of faith last year, moving forward with an agency even though we had very little in savings. I'd like to say that we scrimped and saved, pulled our American selves up by our red, white, and blue bootstraps and all that other self-made man talk. But seriously? This was God. 100% start to finish, God. There are a hundred ways He has chosen to bless us that we did nothing to control, earn, or deserve. But He made it happen.

I feel so unworthy. Money actually scares me a little. The verse in the bible about it being easier for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get to heaven is never far from my thoughts. Money binds you to things - material, worldly things. It twists your mind to make you think you "earned" your financial security. I never want to be so beholden to something that is so far from heaven. We are building up our non-adoption savings (cause apparently it costs money to raise kids? That's what I hear!) and paying down/off some debts so that if and when our financial situation changes, we can live with less without worry. No expensive new car. No bigger, better house. No shopping spree for all new clothes, electronics, what have you. It's too scary. If you adjust your standard of living up, then it's hard to adjust back down. We're going to try very hard to keep living the same as before, just with more money going towards our loans, into savings, and to charities.

We are three months into our wait and we're ready for a baby any time now. We have most of what we need already supplied from my sister and her best friend (they saved nearly everything from their last babies for us). We'll work on turning the "craft (and cat) room" into a nursery this winter and plan to have it furnished and ready by late spring. Hopefully next summer or fall we will get the call. We're ready.

August 12, 2015

Cloth Diapering

After months of reading and digesting the mountains of information the internet has to offer on the topic of cloth diapering, I finally feel like I've come to a comfortable level of understanding. I really didn't know, when I first thought Hmm, maybe I want to look into cloth diapers, that you pretty much had to take a semester long course to fully learn all of the diaper types, accessories, and laundering considerations. But the research was well worth the effort. I particularly appreciated that many working moms who cloth diaper have provided tips and tricks for making it work even though you aren't home all day! Those websites really encouraged me. So, I think I have...

The Plan

There are like, seven different kinds of cloth diaper types and they all have their merits and their drawbacks. After enough reading, I realized I didn't need to commit myself to exclusively using any one type. I could use ALL the types if I wanted! So I narrowed down to the diaper styles that seemed they would be most affordable/useful/easily laundered. These would be the prefold diapers (like my parents used when cloth diapering me and my siblings) and the pocket diapers (modern cloth diapers that you stuff with absorbent pads). There was also the option of using a diaper service, who provides the diapers and launders them for a weekly fee. These have become a bit rare, but I am fortunate to have a company that services my area. They provide prefolds and do the washing in giant industrial washers. The service is kind of expensive: $25/week. But how much is it worth to you to not have to launder diapers every 2 to 3 days? Minimizing cost is one of the reasons I looked into cloth diapering in the first place, so I thought I would have to pass up the service at first. Until it dawned on me that, just like with types of cloth diapers, I don't have to wed myself to using a service *forever*. And the service has some major benefits for someone brand new to cloth diapering (and brand new to parenting...functioning without sleep...caring for something wholly dependent on them...). Newborns are hard to size in cloth diapers. You almost have to get the special newborn diapers that will ONLY fit them for like 3 weeks, unless you have a large or fast growing baby. The diaper service delivers the exact size of diaper you need *and* they provide newborn covers so you don't have to buy them. Not having to buy something that my baby will outgrow in the blink of an eye is a good thing. Plus, I figure we will be more successful using cloth diapers if someone else is doing the laundry at first. We'll have enough on our plate without 3-4 extra loads of laundry a week. Once the baby is out of the newborn stage and we are slightly better adjusted to the new normal, we can cancel the service and start using our own diapers and laundering them at home. I plan to have a stash of diapers already before we discontinue the diaper service. Prefolds are economical, wash easily, and last a long time - plus, you can stuff the small sized prefolds into pocket diapers (two-fer!). Pocket diapers go on the baby exactly like disposables do and so are easy for dad's, day-cares, etc. to use, they launder easily, and come in "one size" styles that grow with your baby (whereas prefolds must be bought in various sizes as your baby grows).

I think I have selected the best choices from the buffet of cloth diapering options for our family. If my mom wants to host a baby shower for us, I will ask that it be a diaper shower and people can buy us any of the cloth options we like, or disposables (we plan on having disposables available for nights, naps, long trips, etc.). If I was feeling dangerous, I'd start pinning specific brands of pockets and pre-folds to my pinterest board, but I'm just not that brave yet! Maybe soon...