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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Choosing forever

The following is the post I wrote for little miss the day we were asked to be her adoptive family. Before my husband and I even said yes, I knew that I knew that I knew I wanted her in our family . . . forever.

There is the cutest, sweetest little creature. You haven't met her yet. But she's real. I so wish I could post a picture!

I have a few photos of her, and every day I scroll through them (ok, multiple times a day.)

Sometimes I simply appreciate her absolute cuteness. Other times, I pray for her. Most of the time, I just wonder if one day soon she will be ours.

I hope we get to keep her.

As I relish in her cuteness, I remember this isn't just a baby we might adopt. She is a child, who will one day be an adult. As a baby, child or adult ... She will be a part of our family forever.

FOREVER. What a big word. Sometimes I wonder ... am I really old enough yet to be making decisions about FOREVER?

It is so easy to imagine dressing a baby up and proudly showing her off at the park, church, restaurant, zoo, mall, grocery store, the north pole. Seriously. I mean what woman doesn't want to tote around the most gorgeous little creature and have everyone looking, and smiling and cooing at your precious bundle?

But forever reminds me that those are just moments in a lifetime. There is still a lifetime to go.

One day, we'll be helping this little one potty train. We'll get through the terrible twos, and threes, and thirteens. We'll work until midnight on her science fair project. We'll clean her up when she's sick, and brush her off when she's fallen down. We'll cry with her when the Junior High girls don't let her into their clique. We'll remind her life will go on when a boy breaks her heart. We will watch her graduate, cheer her on at games, and walk her down the aisle.

We'll teach her about Jesus. We'll tell her how God loves us so much, He wanted us to be apart of his family forever.

Just like we love her. Just like we want her in our family.


Today, we chose forever on paper.

But a year ago, I chose forever in my heart.

We love you little miss. Welcome to your forever family.





Wednesday, April 9, 2014

One phrase you MUST NOT SAY to an adoptive mom -- and 8 reasons why

I've heard it. You've heard it. Maybe you've said it.

You know someone. I know someone. Maybe you know 10 someones.

And yet saying it is seriously not cool.

 "As soon as you adopt, you'll get pregnant."

Ok, ok, I have an idea of what you're thinking.

"Rachel . . . seriously. Lighten up. It's just a little joke. You know, a little wink wink nudge nudge. Could you just not be so serious all the time!"

So, I take your challenge. And let me assure you, I do have a sense of humor. I'm even used to being teased. My husband is awesome at it. So is my dad. In fact, in my family, teasing IS a love language. (The first one.) So for most things, I'll let you slide. I'll even laugh a little.

But on this one thing -- could we PLEASE just stop saying this.

In case you aren't convinced still, let me tell you why I don't like it. (And to my knowledge, very few people who have adopted DO like it.)

1  -- No one likes a "know it all."

When a friend adopts a child, then announces a pregnancy later (no matter how much later), please just zip up this little phrase and keep it far from your lips.

When you say, "I just knew you'd get pregnant as soon as you adopted . . . ", you are in essence saying, "Everyone knew exactly what was going to happen to your uterus the moment you added a child to your life. Aren't you so glad you know now what the rest of us have known forever?"

Instead say, "I'm so glad *adopted baby* will be a big brother/sister."

2 -- You assume that they are adopting because they can't get pregnant.

The first time I was told this awful phrase was from a co-worker. (OK, you're still not convinced it's awful. Give me a minute.)

I had excitedly told her we were starting the process to get licensed as foster parents, with the hope of adopting. Her response?

"Now that you're adopting, you'll get pregnant."

I was TOTALLY taken aback. Our daughter Maddy was 2. We conceived her from just skipping a few birth control pills on accident. We had no losses. . .  no reason to believe that if we didn't just skip a few pills, we wouldn't be pregnant with another healthy child. In fact, I was convinced I was Mrs. Fertile Myrtle herself.

We weren't adopting because we couldn't get pregnant. We just wanted to adopt!

Instead say, "I'm so happy for you."

3 -- You take the focus off the child being adopted.

Imagine going to the hospital to meet a friend's brand-new baby. Instead of ooh'ing and ahh'ing over their precious little bundle, you say, "Now that you've had a baby, you are SOOOO going to get pregnant again right away.  It always happens. It happened to a friend's cousin I once knew."

Of course, your friend likely doesn't want to hear commentary on her fertility at that point. She just wants you to celebrate the beautiful addition to her family she has RIGHT NOW.

Instead say, "Your child is such a blessing."

4 -- Adoption is a way to add to your family. Adoption is not a fertility treatment.

"You know. We've tried IVF. We've tried ICSI, and IUs. We've run every test. We've given you every medication we can. In fact, you've had the best science has to offer at your fingertips. But -- have you ever thought about just adopting? So many women get pregnant THE MOMENT they adopt. It happened to one of my patients years ago. Come to think of it, why didn't we do that earlier and save you all the money and pain from the treatments??  Yeah . . .  So, go adopt, and see me again when you've gotten that positive pregnancy test. Consider that a prescription." -- said NO reproductive endocrinologist EVER.

If fertility doctors aren't saying it -- please -- please -- please -- don't you say it.

(Besides, adopting doesn't take away the pain of infertility either. Trust me on this one.)

Instead say, "You've had a long journey to get here. We're here for you all the way."

5 -- Adoption is not a consolation prize. And pregnancy is not First Place.

Whether you mean it to or not, this hated phrase sounds a lot like . . . "Now that you've gone through adoption, you can get what you REALLY wanted all along."

Adding to your family through adoption is not a lesser way to have a child. Neither is pregnancy the Holy Grail of family planning.

Instead say, "I love that your family chose to adopt."

6 -- Speaking of family planning, it's not really your business.

I'm guilty of this. (Although, recently, much less so.) For some reason, we think that the way others plan their family is totally our business. (It's not.)

If someone chooses to pursue pregnancy at the same time as pursuing adoption, by all means let them. (Without your commentary.)

Maybe they are adopting an older child and want to have their children spaced just-so. Maybe they weren't sure which would work out first -- adoption or pregnancy. So they were working on them both at the same time. Maybe they have a condition (me) that makes their biological clock tick much faster. Maybe they've had multiple losses while they've tried to adopt, and it just so happens that the baby they were able to keep coincided with the child they were adopting.

Instead say, "I'm here to support you as you grow your family however and whenever you choose."

7 -- It makes it sound like infertility (if they have it) is just all in their head.

Ok, I know this one is a stretch. But follow me out on this one.

The idea behind the "just adopt so you can get pregnant" philosophy is that someone has an aching need, a need so great and so big, it's self-destructive. They don't have something because they want it too much, or are just trying too hard.

And finally, once that need (aka a baby) is filled through adoption, their body magically opens itself up to more babies. Ta-da!!!

So the reason they weren't getting pregnant wasn't that they had poly-cystic ovaries. Or their husband had crappy sperm. Or their uterus was an abnormal shape. Or they had an autoimmune disorder. Or they had a chromosomal abnormality. Or their fallopian tubes were blocked.

No. None of that. It was just all in their head. Right?

Instead say, "I wish I could have spared you from all the pain you've endured on your way to growing your family."

(Please only say this if you know for a fact they've endured pain. Again, don't assume infertility unless you know for sure.)

8 -- This phrase never gives someone warm fuzzies.

Along our adoption journey, I've had this said to me every time I've gotten pregnant. I've been pregnant 4 times since we started this process -- and each baby did not make it.

Now that we will have officially adopted (as of this Tuesday), I fear that I will hear this whenever we get pregnant again in the future.

Adopting, or starting the process of adopting, did not save any one of my much-wanted babies. Having my adopted child to hold and love has NOT solved the fertility issues I now face.

If we get pregnant again, and carry to term, it will be an act of God. And will have nothing to do with adoption.

In this time of adoption -- and in the subsequent time of maybe having another biological child if God allows -- please do give me lots warm fuzzies.  And not cold pricklies.

(And if you were still confused, the "you'll get pregnant now that you've adopted" is definitely a cold prickly to me.)

Instead say, "I love your family. And am so glad to be a part of your life." And trust me, I know that you do. And I love being a part of your life, too.

Monday, April 7, 2014

We have a date!!!

"HELLO WORLD! I'm about to become a Lewis -- for real!" 

We have a date!

April 15 -- otherwise known as the day you pay the government money -- will have a new meaning for our little family.

On April 15, little miss will be ours forever. And we will be hers.

Betcha can't wait to see photos of her in court in an adorable outfit, can you?

Me neither. :)

Quite thankful for something amazing to look forward to.

Story of a forced abortion

Dear anonymous --

I think I speak for all my readers when I say, I am so, so sorry for what you went through. I can't imagine losing twins -- enduring that at a young age -- and having no choice in your abortion.

Wishing you much love and healing.


A story of two lives lost, one life forever altered

I just read your blog about miscarriage, I also read many of the comments and didn't notice any about losing a child to abortion. Maybe I didn't read enough comments?

I had an abortion 30 years ago. I was 13 years old and my mother gave me no choice.

They were twins, I do not know the sex of them nor did I name them, but I grieve for them still till this day. I think of what they would be like, just as I think about my 2 living children's futures and lives. I grieve for them always and await the day I am reunited with them.

 -- Anonymous

Carrie's Story: Breaking the silence on recurrent pregnancy loss


Thank you so much for opening up on all the taboo topics -- including the death of your two precious babies. I know that breaking the silence IS helping others.

Much love to you,


I just finished reading your blog post, "Why miscarriage matters when your pro-life." I read it outloud to my husband while we were driving and we were both in tears by the end of it.

In November, I just lost my second baby. We named him "Tobin"... a name we had already picked out before we knew things weren't looking good. It means "God is good." It was hard to continue with the name, but we had been calling him Tobin from the beginning. I lost him at 12 weeks. 

Baby Tobin -- "God is good"

Rewind a year and a half earlier and we were pregnant with "Mizpah" which comes from a bible verse in Genesis that states that the Lord will watch over us while we are seperate from one another. We lost her at 6 weeks. 

I have no earthly children, but two precious babies in heaven.

Rewind even earlier, to fall of 2009. My husband and I just got married. We waited until marriage to have sex, but unfortunately found out on our wedding night that sex was not possible. We went to several doctors to finally we receive an accurate diagnosis of Vaginismus. After many failing treatments I finally was cured in the summer of 2011. 

We were 'pure' until marriage -- I felt I deserved to have a good sex life. We endured having a sexless marriage for two years -- I felt I deserved to have an easy pregnancy and beautiful babies. In the midsts of these trials I have, and continue to battle, anxiety and depression. 

I feel I have been through the fire, but the issues I have dealt with/deal with -- vaginismus, miscarriage and mental health issues -- are taboo and unacceptable to talk about. That is why your article hit a chord so strong in me. Pro-life advocates and churches, rightfully so, get up on their high horse about abortion but yet fail to reach out those right in front of their faces who have lost a precious baby just like those who are aborting.

I don't know the right way advocate for the memories of our miscarried babies, or to advocate for the mothers who grieve alone because they do not feel validated by their loss ... but if sharing my story can bring us one step closer, I am more then willing to do so.

To read more about Carrie and her husband, visit her blog The Waiting Wamplers. She has a few beautiful, heart-rending posts about her losses.


Sunday, April 6, 2014

Lisa's Story: Finding the sacred in a baby's short life

Lisa has written two posts about her miscarriage that she'd like to share with my readers.

I hope you find some comfort from her experience. Lisa, thanks so much for reaching out.


A person is a person, no matter how small

I have been thinking lately about the beauty and sacredness of life.  Especially human life, made in the image and likeness of God. I have been contemplating the beginnings of human life. None of us would even be here if God did not love us into existence! We start out the size of a poppy seed and although we are that small, God breathes his life into us. Since he is so big and we are so small and fragile, he has to be ever so gentle. I imagine it would be the way a gentle breeze carries a dandelion without the petals falling off. This human life, once it is started will also go on to live into eternity . . .
To continue reading this post, click here.
Better to have loved and lost...
I really have it on my heart to write about what I have learned through my miscarriage.  Even though about 50 percent of women experience miscarriage, I am finding that it is almost taboo to talk about. The reason might be different for different people. For some it may just be too painful to talk about and others think it is too personal of a topic. Still another reason that I am finding out about is a feeling of shame. Some women actually feel there is something wrong with them that they were not able to carry a healthy baby to term. One woman even recently shared with me that a neighbor told her it was probably for the best because she had enough kids. If it will help others, I am willing to talk about my experience and what I have learned from it . . .
To continue reading this post, click here.
Blogs linked with permission.

Hilary's Story: Miscarriage at 11 weeks and recurrent pregnancy loss

Thank you so much, Hilary, for sharing with us about your son, struggle to keep your pregnancies, and all the physical and emotions behind loss. I know someone will be able to relate. I know I could.

Hugs to you.



Going through a miscarriage

by Hilary
I've thought about mentioning this on [my blog] for awhile. I'm kind of a private person, even though I share some stuff on here, it's mostly just pictures and projects of stuff. I've never really gotten too personal. Miscarriages are very common and a very personal thing, which is why not many people talk about it. I've decided to share my story with you, not because I want you to feel sorry for me, but in case anyone else has or is going through the same thing.  It can be a little lonely at times, but reading others peoples' stories/situations helped a little.  This will probably be way too long and maybe a little too detailed (maybe even graphic). Who knows if I'll actually go through with posting we go!

Last year on Valentine's Day, I found out I was pregnant. I was a day late and woke up early to surprise Jeremy by making breakfast while he was in the shower. I think I was awake before him just laying in bed waiting for him to get up. I decided I would test just get it over with. I ran to the downstairs bathroom and took the test. I put it down and I thought I could start to see a second line but I ran back upstairs to start the bacon. After I got the bacon started I went back down and  what I thought I saw earlier was correct.
This was a little bit of a surprise. I didn't really know what to think and I wasn't sure if I should tell Jeremy before he left for work. The rest of the day I paced around the house. I was nervous mostly because I knew we weren't going to have maternity insurance and we still had a bunch of school loans we were trying (still are....almost done!) to pay off. When Jeremy got home he asked if I wanted to go to the movies and we picked out a time.  Finally, I just came out with it! No special or cutesy way to announce. I felt so much better after telling him. We were excited and over the next couple days (weeks really) as we talked about baby stuff and baby names.

We decided to wait to tell anyone for awhile. I called my doctor, but they didn't want me to come in till 8 weeks. I thought that was a long time to wait but time went by. I started to feel sick around 5-6 weeks. I never actually threw up, but was mostly nauseous through out the whole day. My first appointment came and everything looked great. I had an ultrasound done. Jeremy didn't get to go but I texted him a picture right away.  
Later that weekend, we decided to tell our parents. Yay! Everyone was excited! Over the next week, we told our siblings. I still wanted to keep it a secret just in case. I went to the doctor again at 10 weeks and heard the heartbeat, everything was good.  At 11 weeks I decided that it was ok to let some people know. My mom told her group of friends and Jeremy and I told a couple of our friends too. I was going to do a little announcement on here at 12 weeks (I was already starting to show a little), but decided to wait till after my appointment which was a couple days later.  
I'm glad I decided to wait. They couldn't find a heartbeat on the Doppler. They took me to get an ultrasound and I was starting to get pretty nervous. The little baby popped up on the screen and I could see the little arms and legs. The tech didn't say much. Then she said she couldn't find the heartbeat. Nothing.
At first I wasn't sure what that meant. Was this really over? Or was it just another "couldn't find it" type thing. I could feel the tears welling in my eyes but I tried to push them back. She walked me back to my room and on the way it seemed like everyone and their mother was in the hallway. I was looking straight ahead because I didn't want to make eye contact with anyone but I think the tech must have made a face or shook her head a little because I could feel everyone's sad looks.
I was left in the room alone for maybe 30 seconds pushing back and wiping away tears and snot. My doctor walked in and as soon as I saw her face, for the first time, I knew it was over. She was really nice and we talked about my options. She said the baby probably stopped growing at 11 weeks 5 days (ish). She let me walk out the back so I wouldn't have to see anyone and then gave me a hug. Jeremy was supposed to come to this appointment with me but he ended up having to work late. I walked into the bathroom because I could feel myself starting to lose it and wanted to get some crying out before I drove home. It ended up being one of those really ugly silent cries because someone else was in there.

This all happened on a Friday, so we took the weekend to figure out how I wanted to go about doing this. Having a d&c, doing it at home with medicine, or naturally. I had for the most part already decided when the doctor told me my option,s but she told me to think about it. I decided to have the d&c. I felt like it would have been too painful physically and mentally doing it at home being 12 weeks. I was scared it was going to happen on its own before I could have the surgery.

I went in the following Wednesday (would have been 13 weeks) to have the d&c. Jeremy has done the anesthesia for these before and said it maybe takes 15-20 minutes. I had never been put to sleep before so I was a little worried. Jeremy said I had some good doctors and they would take care of me.  Anyway, It was time to go back and the last thing I remember was coughing into the mask and my doctor telling me that I was ok. Then I remember waking up in recovery.  
I didn't have my glasses or contacts on so everything was really blurry. I think one of the first things I did was check if my teeth were still there. Didn't want my teeth to have gotten chipped getting put under (I hear stories from Jeremy). The nurse told me that I had lost some blood and was getting fluids. I heard her say that she was sending for Jeremy. I think I kinda got the special treatment since Jeremy works there and knows everyone. I had my own curtain around me in the Recovery Room and Jeremy got to come back, which I don't think family is allowed.  He walked in and told me how much blood I really lost and how long I was really under for.
It took them about an hour to remove everything. He said he was getting worried because he knew they don't usually last that long. Finally the doctor came in and talked to him and he said she looked a little worried herself (she later told me that my surgery aged her 5 years). Since I was so far along and had so much tissue, I kept loosing a lot of blood. I had lost about a liter of blood and being kinda small...that's a lot of blood! I stayed in recovery for about 3 hours and then 2 more hours in my room getting fluids. I was finally able to eat! I wasn't allowed to eat or drink anything after midnight the night before, which was really just dinner time for me.

The recovery time for the d&c was fine. I was just dizzy and weak for about a week afterwards probably from the blood loss. Of course I was still sad. Some days better than others. We had gotten the tissue tested to see if they could find out why I miscarried. A few weeks later my doctor called me and said that the baby had XXYY syndrome. Only males get this. We were going to have a boy. This made things feel more real to me and made me feel worse.  Picturing what could have been and all. I don't think XXYY syndrome is very common and is likely it wont happen again.

I had to go in every other week to make sure my HCGs (hormone levels) were going down.  It was a sad reminder every time knowing that I should have still been pregnant and seeing other pregnant women there too.  In the meantime, my parents came to visit, I went to visit a friend in CT, and we went to Yellowstone.
Things were still not back to normal.  
*this part might be a little gross*
On the 4th of July, I went to the bathroom and this big mass came out.  It was fleshy colored, but no blood. We think it was left over tissue that never got out during the D&C and that's why it was taking so long for my HCGs to go down. I probably should have gotten another D&C. Jeremy and my parents say no way never again ... my doctor pretty much said that too. She said she hopes to never have to do a D&C on me again (that makes two of us!)  
It ended up taking 15 weeks for my HCGs to go all the way back to 0. That's probably about 7-9 weeks longer than most. Of course everyone is different. My doctor said we had to wait 2 periods before we could try again. I just wanted to be pregnant again and go back to where I was at 12 weeks. So when she told me about the 2-month wait, and then the 15 weeks on top of that, it was just getting too long and the waiting was horrible.

A few people know about the first miscarriage, but not many know about the second and third.

In late September, I found out I was pregnant again. We were really excited and so happy it happened right away. I went in immediately to the doctor this time for blood work. Everything looked good.  HCGs were where they were suppose to be. We had decided again not to tell anyone until we got past the 12-week mark. Not even our parents.  
Well this time I miscarried around 5 and a half weeks.  I knew when I started to spot that it was over.  I'm not a very optimistic person. My sadness quickly turned in to anger. I was mad that it happened again. It was frustrating. So many people tell you that it's so common to miscarry you first pregnancy and I thought I had gone through that already. Why didn't this stick?  
My doctor said it was just bad luck ... it might not have implanted. A few weeks later I got a bunch of tests done and everything came back negative. Normal. Nothing was wrong with me. By this time, I was tired of getting my blood drawn and people at the doctors office seemed to know me.  
One lady asked if I had had my baby yet. I was standing at the counter which went up to my chest so she couldn't really see me. I just smiled a little and said no. She kept looking at me waiting for an answer and I told her I miscarried. I felt bad for her. I know she felt bad and was uncomfortable. I never told anyone about this miscarriage and it was sometimes hard to pretend that everything was ok.

I was told to wait a month or two and we could try again. Well towards the beginning of December, I found out I was pregnant. AGAIN!  I went in immediately to do all the blood work and this time I was put on progesterone.  Here we go again.
This time we were very hesitant to get excited. It's hard to not think about it, and being the planner that I am, it felt extra hard to not think about the future.  I had this weird thing about being pregnant at Christmas time.  I think it's because I was supposed to have a baby from the first pregnancy and we were going home and I was just excited about that. So I kept thinking as long as I can be pregnant again by Christmas.  
Well here we are...a week before Christmas and I miscarry at 6 weeks. I had told my parents when  found out this time because if I miscarried I wasn't sure I could keep that quiet. Again I was angry and bitter and I might have given God the stink eye a couple times.  My doctor called me and said she just doesn't know what's going on and she needs help. So I am now going to go see a specialist in February. I never ever thought I would be here, 24-years-old and I can't stay pregnant.  Fortunately, we have no problems getting pregnant and I know that's a struggle for many.

To say that 2013 was an unlucky year would be an understatement. I'm not a superstitious person, but 13 was just not my number.  It's still something I think about daily. It seems like every week there's someone posting an announcement or pictures of their pregnancy or newborn baby online. I'm happy for them and hope for the best, but it's just a sore reminder.  
This may come off as rude, but when I hear someone talk about or post about how sick they've been or their one-month-old baby wont let them get any sleep, I'm sorry but I don't feel sorry for them.  I'll get over it someday. ;) Some people say that this time in my life will be a blur and it wont hurt so bad. 
Hopefully it will be, but honestly I don't ever want to forget it.  It's part of me and has made me who I am. It's part of my story.

It's not fair in knowing that I will never have another pregnancy without fear. I can't just be excited and happy-go-lucky. There will always be worry, caution, and fear of something happening. Every little cramp sends me into a slight panic. I'm scared to go to the bathroom. If I don't have some sort of symptom, then I think that it's over.
I suppose everyone thinks about miscarrying when pregnant. My first time I know I did, but I guess I didn't think it could really happen to me. I am young and relatively healthy, I don't drink, smoke or do drugs. I had heard the heartbeat a couple of times and thought that since I was approaching my second trimester that I was good to go. I know next time I probably wont be able to breathe easy for a long time.

If you are or have gone through a miscarriage I hope you can find someone to talk to. Like I said earlier, it can be a little lonely because people don't really like to talk about it, or people don't know how to talk about it if they haven't gone through it themselves. When I had my first, I had a couple people reach out to me, sending me emails, and it was nice to talk to them.  Of course, my family was very supportive and always checked in with me and I'm very thankful for that! Jeremy has also been wonderful.  We've had to rely on each other more than ever and I think it's brought is even closer together.
This story was originally posted here, and reposted with permission.

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