Thursday, February 28, 2013

One strange life

Life is strange.

Yesterday I sat in a meeting for foster care that was just a very weird experience.

I have to keep reminding myself that I am not taking anyone's baby. A baby needs a home, and we are making our home and family available to her.

Semantics, I know. But I must keep the metal tape deck playing to assuage the guilt that occasionally creeps in: "We are not taking a baby ... We are not stealing a baby ... We are not telling anyone else that they cannot have this baby."

We've been asked to love on a baby. And we are.

The whole foster-to-adopt scenario keeps me wondering, "Am I really old enough for this? And if I am, how did I get to this place? Could life really fly by so fast?"

Sometimes I still feel like the awkward junior high girl that doesn't fit in, and wonders if she ever will. I still feel like the college girl who flitted from coffee date to coffee date with friends, and whose life was wrapped up in papers, projects and potential husbands. I still feel like the girl with her first big job, thinking "Now I've made it!!" I still feel like the girl who got home from the hospital with a newborn, exhausted and overwhelmed, bearing the weight of 5 lbs 11 oz of sheer responsibility, wondering how in the world I had was supposed to care for this tiny creature.

I still feel like the bereaved mom who carries with her the sadness of having her babies die.

I guess I've never really shed those other girls as time marched on. They've just morphed and gotten more complex as I add to my life experience.

And now I'm adding on the girl who finds that the desires of her heart are being fulfilled in unexpected ways, and wonder if I am really be mature and old enough to run a household, take care of kids (plural!!!), and go through a (fingers-crossed) adoption? Is this really happening?

It honestly feels so surreal to have your life just change so quickly. Just a few weeks ago, I posted pictures of an empty crib, certain that it would forever remain a mausoleum of baby blankets and stuffed animals that had nowhere else to go.

And now that crib is full most nights with this cute little girl I can *almost* call mine. My hope and dream to adopt that I've had since I was a young girl now has a face, a name, and the most kissable cheeks you've ever seen.

The time of transition has gone quickly, and I found it to be both good and trying at times.

It's like when you're pregnant... There are days where you are happy and glowing, and you enjoy showing off your baby bump to all the world, wrapped delightfully in the latest belly hugging fashion.

But then there are the days where your reflux won't stop refluxing, your sciatic nerve feels like it has struck a nerve, and though you are completely exhausted, your big belly and aching back revolt against the idea of shut-eye.

Imagine, for me if you will, what it would be like to be pregnant when it's fun and convenient... Then for a few days when your body desperately needs a break, you could just go back to being not-pregnant ... Knowing full and well that your baby would be just fine, and you could resume the pregnancy in a few days when you felt better.


That's a little bit what transition has felt like to me. I've had the opportunity to be full-time mom for a few days at a time. But the full commitment hasn't quite sunk in yet, because for the last month and a half, I have to give her back. And I get a break to catch up on sleep, I go back to a normal schedule, and the housework I've invariably procrastinated on while she was with us finally gets done.

On days where she is with us, it is so much easier to accept this new reality that this is the way life will be because I'm all wrapped up in the joy of who she is.

It's on the days where she is gone when I struggle. I remember what it's like to just care for one, and wonder if I'm crazy for wanting to expand my life with a baby.

When she's here, I can't seem to keep the house picked up or laundry done (not to mention putting food on the table) ... And I really wonder if i'll ever have a clean home, or dinner ready at a decent hour again.

I am trying to give myself some grace. Trying to remember that when Maddy was born, I always felt behind in laundry, and grocery shopping was a big event. That things were cluttered and messy for a time as our household grew and stretched to accommodate all the gifts, baby gear, and furniture that came along with our new addition, until finally everything had its place and it felt like she'd always been there.

While our new little miss isn't very new... She's new to us. And we have the same growing pains as our hearts, household and schedule all stretch to accommodate her and everything that she brings.

But there is so much joy in her presence in our lives. I find myself holding her little tiny body so close to mine, and kissing her soft, squishy cheeks. We play peek-a-boo, and make raspberries, and pretend to cough and sneeze, all in hopes of making each other smile. I snuggle her soft, sweaty body each night as I rock her to sleep, and think there must be nothing more peaceful in this world, than rocking a sweet baby who seems to know you and trust you. And everything feels right again.

No matter if I'm ready or not ... Little miss will be moving in in just 2 short days!!! I hope that in the next few weeks, I can start to figure out a routine. I can start to figure out who this new me is who is a mom to 2 on earth and 2 in heaven.

And I hope I can put in the background some of those other "mes" that so often clamor for my attention... And my self-doubt. Because as much as I tend to be introspective... The truth is, it's not about me. And it never really was.



Friday, February 22, 2013

Change



It's really a very odd experience bringing a child into your home from someone else's home.

I love this little one. And, most days, I'm very excited.

Other days, I feel sad that she has to go through this. I feel sad for her first family, even as I recognize that it was a choice. (But then I wonder how much of a choice is it really, when they feel that God is leading them in this direction?) I feel slightly overwhelmed at times trying to figure out the appointments, paper work, and rules that I need to follow.

We are in the middle of transition right now (where she goes back and forth between homes). Whenever she's not with us, I miss her. And I'm so happy to see her again when she comes back. But then toward the last day that it's time for her to go to her first family, I realize that I'm looking forward to the break.

Not so much a break from HER. Just a chance to go back to what is normal and comfortable with me.

Her time to move in permanently (or as permanently as it gets) is approaching, and I find myself both excited and terrified. It is easy to get swept up in the beauty of loving a baby. It is hard when you realize your priorities must shift. The way you organize your time. And even the attention you give to the rest of your family and friends.

A baby changes everything.

As wonderful of an addition she is, it's going to take us some time to adjust before things feel normal.

Maddy is loving having a little sister, and she's adjusted better than we thought. She also, seems to feel more "stressed" toward the end of our time. Maybe not stressed -- maybe just jealous. Like, "well, having a sister is fun. So when can we give her back and you can focus just on me again?"

She also doesn't seem to completely understand what is going on, and why.

The other day in the elevator, she turns to a complete stranger and tells him "Oh, this baby isn't ours. Someone just gave her to us."

As much as I want to correct her, but I guess on the level she understands, that's just about right.

(And I know you're probably wondering what that guy was thinking. I was too. He gave me a quizical smile, but before I could come up with the right words to explain the situation, it was time for him to get off. I think I secretly was hoping he wasn't dialing the police or anyone, thinking we had stolen a baby!)

Many people have commented on how happy I look when I am with her. And I am. I am very very happy.

But honestly, I'm still sad. I'm sad I missed her first year. I'm sad this little creature is on this journey at all. I still miss Olivia and baby Lewis. I wish both of them were here, and I knew them both. I'm still sad that I'm not sure if we'll ever have one of our own.

Pregnancy/baby announcements hurt less. So does walking through a baby aisle. But when a character on a TV show this week gave birth, I found myself crying.

It's a weird path that I feel that I'm walking.

In other news, I need to find a new counselor. Not because I want to (because I don't.) But she feels like there's a better counselor for me who can help me more -- so, off I must go (dragging my feet.)

Also, I went to see my rheumatologist yesterday. UGH. What a disappointing experience. He just looked at me like, "so, why are you here?" He didn't feel like he had enough lab work to come up with any diagnosis (if there is any.) When my miscarriages came up, he simply dismissed them with an "oh, that's normal."

I wanted to say, "Well, next time your kid dies, I hope someone tells you that's normal."

Instead, I just kept my lips sealed.

He ordered about 10 more tests, and I'm supposed to get an x-ray on my lungs the next time I have chest pain. (Which I've had two episodes of chest pain since my appointment yesterday, but I don't really want to go in. Well, I don't really want to pay for a chest x-ray -- that's really the issue.)

I was told the appointment would take about 40 min. Instead, he was with me for MAYBE 10, and I felt really on edge the whole time. He never asked if I had questions, and rushed me out the door for bloodwork, and literally almost ran out of the door to head on to his next patient.

I got a call back on the bloodwork, but when I called back, I was put on hold for 15 minutes. After that, I just gave up. Maybe I'll try again tomorrow. Or maybe not.

OK, I think that's all the updates from me. OH -- this post wouldn't be complete without some pics. :)








Monday, February 4, 2013

Answers? Or -- maybe not.


Looking at the ocean and sky always reminds me of God's bigness,
and that He's always in control.
Image from: http://photos.alphacoders.com/photos/view/9959
 
 

You may remember me saying that I just KNEW my hormones were off.

Turns out, I was wrong.

They weren't off at all -- they were perfectly within the normal range. And I don't mean they were on one extreme or the other of the normal range. They were right, smack dab in the middle of normal. My hormones are the average of average.

GRRR.

I think that should have made me feel better, but it certainly didn't. Not that I WANT something to be wrong with me, but I absolutely believe something is ALREADY wrong with me, and I just want to know what it is so I can fix it.

Thankfully, 6 weeks ago I scheduled a doctor's appointment so I could go over all my questions.

And boy, did I have a lot.

Here was my list I went over:

  • Anti-depressants:
    • Anxiety
    • Weight loss
    • Exhaustion
    • Definitely depressed, but need a new prescription.

  • My miscarriage in October:
    • Any affect on my fertility prognosis?
    • What about my low progesterone during that pregnancy?
    • Why did my baby not develop, but I made it to 8 weeks?
    • Is there still any chance it was ectopic?

  • Hormones:
    • I feel imbalanced. Skin broken out, low sex drive (Sorry if tmi), horrible PMS, short cycles, lots of spotting and weird bleeding. How could I NOT be imbalanced?
    • Do I need to be on birth control?
    • Do I still need a progesterone supplement?
    • Was the timing right on my hormone testing?
    • Is there a chance I have a leutal phase defect?

  • What other tests can we run:
    • I just learned blood clotting runs in our family.
    • Could it be my thyroid?

  • Diet:
    • Am I underweight, and could that be contributing to some of my issues?
    • Am I eating too few calories?
    • Is vegan OK?

  • Future pregnancy:
    • Is she OK that I'm going to be a high-needs patient?
    • Will I need to do the quantitative hCG again? If so, is there a way that I could choose NOT to find out my specific levels unless I ask?
    • Is there anything else she recommends I do that I'm not currently doing?

That was my long litany of questions, that Maddy (amazingly) played through very well, in spite of the fact that my appointment already started an hour late.

My Dr. was SUPER patient and acted like she had all the time in the world to go over all my questions. So here was the rundown of her answers:
  • She took me off Zoloft, and put me on Celexa with a smaller dosage, in hopes of counter balancing some of the anxiety the Zoloft caused.

  • With my miscarriage, she doesn't feel that it puts me in the infertility realm -- although she said she would refer me to a fertility doctor in case I wanted that. (Since my insurance does NOT cover infertility at all, we decided that was not an option.) She did not say why my progesterone was low, but did say she thought either it was a bad egg or bad sperm and something was just not going right there. She felt very confident, however, that the baby cleared my tubes and did implant in the right place this time.

  • As for my hormones, she went over all my numbers and the averages, as well as my ultrasound pictures of my (empty) uterus with my last pregnancies. Everything hormone and uterus-wise looks pretty normal. She would be OK with me taking progesterone again, and did not feel I had a leutal phase defect.

  • She looked at my charts, and did confirm that I was ovulating regularly, albeit early in my cycle. The bleeding and spotting I'm having is NOT normal, neither is my crazy PMS, acne, etc. She didn't WANT me to have a thyroid issue, but thought that would be the easiest solution. She ordered that blood test.

  • Since my hormones (regular though they were) were not being very nice to me, she said I either needed to get pregnant right away, or I needed to take a break for about 6 months and go on birth control in hopes of regulating them more. In order to help me get pregnant, she prescribed Clomid and gave me instructions on how to use that.

  • With the clotting issues our family has, she said taking the baby aspirin every day wouldn't hurt.

  • As far as my diet, I am underweight (I know, big shocker there). She said that my body might not have enough reserves to sustain a pregnancy, and so my body is sort of "going on strike" refusing to get pregnant if it doesn't feel it can sustain it. Her solution was to put ice cream in my protein shakes and add more oil, cheese, avocados, yogurt and full-fat dairy to my diet. While I will be trying to add more healthy fats to my diet, I must admit that this weekend I really just ate whatever I wanted.  I do miss cheese, so I don't think I will mind adding that back in for a little while. She said in most cases, she would be thrilled to have a patient come in and have a diet like mine -- however, in my case it's simply not enough. She wants me to gain 5 - 10 lbs. And so I am now on a mission to gain weight.

  • As far as a future pregnancy, I really feel that she is fine with me being high-needs as was evident by the fact that she took 40 min with me, even though she just came from surgery and was an hour behind in her rotations. And yet I never felt rushed, not even for a moment. She still felt confident I could carry a baby to term. And she understood that the ups and downs of quantitative testing might be too much for me, and said she could instruct her nurses not to give me the numbers unless I asked. (But she would keep me in the loop as far as how things were generally going.)

At the end of the appointment, I let her know about the blood clotting family history. And as a side note (thinking it was irrelevant), I let her know that I was also made aware recently that I have a family history of lupus.

That seemed to set her on edge a bit, and right away ordered testing for an autoimmune disorder. Down for blood work I went, where the phlebotomist knew me now by name.

After my appointment, I felt so much better. Finally, I had some answers. I had the plan. I had the prescriptions. I felt ready to move on with pregnancy, and get this thing going!

But, as it seems to happen these days, having a plan doesn't last for long.

The next day, I got a message from the nurse that they needed to go over my blood work with me.

 Right away, I knew that wasn't a good sign. Usually, when things are fine, they just leave a message saying all is well. You only get told to call back when there is a problem.

I must admit I was hoping for a thyroid issue, as my doctor said that would be the easiest answer. But my thyroid was fine. Instead, my autoimmune panel came back positive for ANAs (anti-nuclear antibodies) and rheumatoid arthritis.

Of course, the nurse couldn't actually TELL me what that meant. She just said that I would be referred out to a rheumatologist, and my new doctor would contact me for an appointment and more testing.

I must admit, I cried when I found out.

It just seems that as I am on this quest for answers, I just keep stumbling upon more questions. It's like the journey toward answers is the same as the journey for grief -- you just keep going in circles, and when you finally think you've gained some ground, you realize you were right back where you started.

For several days now, I've known that I likely have an autoimmune disorder. Which actually makes HELLP syndrome, shingles at a young age, and my mononucleosis make more sense. It makes more sense why I've always been kinda "sickly." (ugh, I hate that word.)

But I don't know for sure that I do have a disorder, or if it's something else. Or if it's just a false positive. I don't know what kind of tests the rheumatologist will run. I don't know how that positive result will affect my fertility.

If I do have lupus, it will double my risk of preeclampsia (or so I've read). Will I be ULTRA high-risk now?  I don't know for sure though if it's lupus. I don't know if I am facing a life of chronic pain, or if it's just really no big deal.

I have no idea what to think. And since I'm already anxiety-prone, not knowing if I have a chronic condition that will interfere with my quality of life is stressing me out. It's so hard for me not to go down the road of what-ifs.

It also further makes me hate my body. I think my body is a baby killer, and I hate it for that.

So, I guess I will keep waiting for a call. And if I haven't heard back from the rheumatologist by Monday, then I will call Tuesday and see if I can go ahead and just set up the appointment.

Well, at least I had some answers for a whole day, right? That has to count for something.

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