Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The one thought I can't escape

Along this 2-year-ish journey of awfulness, I mean, recurrent pregnancy loss, I've had many thoughts. (Most of which are recorded on this blog.)

But there is one very all-encompassing thought which has dominated my brain for a better part of the last 26 months. And I've remained mostly silent about it until today.

"Why me?"

When someone announces a pregnancy the same time I would have announced one of my own ... "Why me?"

When someone has a rainbow quickly after their first loss, and aren't made to go through recurrent loss or infertility ... "Why me?"
 

When someone reaches a top level in their company without having seasons of struggle or doubt ... "Why me?"

When someone can take the health of their unborn child for granted, I can't help it ... "Why me?"
 

Now if you're starting to think, "Wow, Rachel, this is a little depressing, a little 'glass half empty,' I will readily admit, "Yep, it absolutely is."

In spite of wanting to change my attitude, the "why me's" have continued. 

And yet ... They are not the same.

(Thank goodness.)

I'm laying here in my clean(ish) house (it's all relative, right?), while so many people this weekend have had theirs turn into rubble from a tornado ... "Why me?"
 

I have the blessing of raising two children, who are whole and healthy. She has none to raise ... "Why me?"

Amazing and dear people have come out of the woodwork to show us love and support during this challenging time. I've been blown away by generous and extravagant love ... She has received only platitudes and judgment. Or maybe worse, nothing but indifference to her heartache ... "Why me?"
 

My two living children are healthy, and for that matter, so are my husband and I. (Well, at least fertility issues excluded.) And yet, they are battling cancer ... "Why me?"
 

I grew up in a loving, caring environment where physically and emotionally, I was kept safe from abuse. Home was my haven. Her home was her hell ... "Why me?"
 


My two live-born children survived infancy. Many women in other countries are so used to having their babies die, they don't even name them until they are over a year old ... "Why me?"
 

I was born in America, a country where I can be anything I set out to be, and am protected from persecution from the government. Billions of others are born in unsafe, corrupt countries where food is scarce, they have no education, and are mercilessly persecuted ... "Why me?"
 

My 5-year-old is sleeping safely in bed. Her 5-year-old was kidnapped and turned into a child soldier ... "Why me?"

The adoption of our daughter was finalized. Theirs was disrupted ... "Why me?"
 

This could go on forever. 

It's not as though I'm saying pregnancy loss is not as hard as cancer, or losing your house, or being abused. 

It's not about comparing pain.

I'm just saying, pain is pain.

Just as I do not deserve to have 4 unborn babies die, neither do I deserve to have my health, raise my kids, have privilege and opportunity, or have reason to celebrate.

This is about recognizing that, for every hurt I've experienced, there are about 10 more blessings I need to be thankful for.

It's about acknowledging that everyone has a story.

And for me, I need my story to start having much more gratitude -- and much less "Why me?"

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Corin's Story: Do miracles still happen?

Corin wanted to share her story of her miscarriages, and blighted ovum at 10 weeks.

There's a part in her story I could so relate with -- waiting for the God of miracles to act and receive glory. Except it's not the kind of glory she was counting on. I'll let her tell the rest . . .

Rachel




Do Miracles Still Happen?
by Corin Hughs
Originally published at Corin Hughs.
Reprinted with permission.


My ultrasound image was of my uterus, but the empty black hole better reflected my heart.

A “blighted ovum” my doctor diagnosed.

While this is the reason of 50% of all first-trimester miscarriages, it only happens one time in most women. It’s when an egg is fertilized, the fertilized egg attaches to the uterine wall, but an embryo (baby) never forms. Research concludes this is likely the result of chromosomal abnormalities. There’s no specific, conclusive answer for this. There’s nothing you can do to prevent it. It just happens.

My doctor leaned on the counter, arms folded, brow creased. He commented on my three healthy pregnancies, my two other miscarriages and then this. He was perplexed. He instructed the nurse to order blood work.

I sat numb.

Confused.

Uncertain.

I robotically called my husband to tell him there was no baby.

Yes, I am pregnant, 10 weeks, in fact. My hormone levels indicate pregnancy. The embryonic sac indicates pregnancy. I’m just not pregnant with…a baby.

Huh!?!?

I’ve had a natural vaginal delivery, an emergency C-section for a breech baby who turned during labor and a scheduled C-section for a breech baby. I’ve had an early natural miscarriage, two healthy, problem-free pregnancies, an eleven week ultrasound to reveal a baby with no heartbeat (and eventual miscarriage), a healthy pregnancy and, now, an empty embryonic sac.

Motherhood is emotional! From the very start!

While I can’t help but ask God, why, I also have an indescribable, unique peace over this situation. I do not feel an urgency to have closure to this. I feel like this story is very much still happening and I feel thankful that God chose me for this. As I sit in confusion, knowing I have zero control, I feel ok with that. I know God is fully in control. He knows what He’s doing. I am excited to learn how this story will continue. I’m curious why God chose this situation for me. What does He want me to learn from this? I can’t help but wonder if it isn’t to show Himself as the God of Miracles that I know He is. Yes, He is!

My husband took comfort in the story of the Faithful Centurion who believed Jesus could heal his son. Jesus, astonished by this man’s faith, said, because you believed, your son is now healed.
Is God gifting my husband and me with this mind-boggling situation to increase our belief in Him that He can heal our – His – child?

This all took place on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 (and I wrote all of the above on that same day). At the time, I had few answers. In fact, I really had no answers! Just a bunch of confusing, conflicting information.

And, for once in my life, I felt ok with that.

I had assured hope that God would perform a miracle and that miracle would be a growing baby, of course! I’d go back for another ultrasound the following week and we’d see a perfect, healthy, beautiful peanut. The doctors would be astonished at how science had been defied. I would sit back and smile, telling them God has plans for this child.

Scouring the web, I read story after story of women in a similar situations and everything turned out fine. Most often, they were not as far along in their pregnancy as they thought, so a week or two later, an ultrasound revealed a healthy baby. There were a few stories of women who were indeed ten weeks along and went back the following week for an ultrasound that revealed a healthy 11 week baby. Miraculous! Unexplainable! Yes, that’s what would happen to me!

I grew more and more excited at the thought of sharing this miraculous story. I envisioned myself holding the miracle baby in my arms. I could feel her soft skin against mine. Yes, I had also decided she was a girl. My daughter would have a sister. She would be delighted. I would be delighted.
I would gleam with humble, thankful pride over the four children that I’m getting to raise.

I mean, what better way for God to show his great power, His miraculous ways than for this to be “my story?”

I prayed. I prayed for a miracle. I asked others to pray the same. They did.

Three days later, my hormone levels had dropped and our precious baby – who, by scientific terms, never was – became another miscarriage.

What was God doing?


To finish reading Corin's Story, click here.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Blog link: 25 worst expressions to say to an infertile friend

I saw this blog post on Stirrup Queens, and loved it! Plus this blogger is a regular reader here ... And this list is worth reading. And sharing!

(so .... Do share. Cause even if you aren't infertile, I guarantee someone you know is.)

Oh, and I'm curious what your favorite number is. Mine is #8. It made me laugh outloud.

"25 Worst Expressions to Say to an Infertile Friend"

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Why I absolutely cannot recommend adoption

 
 
 
I want you to know I absolutely cannot recommend adopting.
 
 
Financially, you'll have to make some adjustments by adding a child to your home. You might end up with a child who has special needs. And some of those needs might not show up for years down the road! Physically, it can be exhausting to take care of an additional child. And their emotional needs can be downright draining. You'll have other adults in your life telling you what you should do with your child, and what you shouldn't. You'll have people asking personal questions about your own fertility and family planning methods. Honestly, you risk a pretty significant loss if you grow to love a child, and then you lose them. 

 I guess by that standard, I have to say I absolutely do not recommend getting pregnant either.
 
Financially, you'll have to make some adjustments by adding a child to your home. You might end up with a child who has special needs. And some of those needs might not show up for years down the road! Physically, it can be exhausting to take care of an additional child. And their emotional needs can be downright draining. You'll have other adults in your life telling you what you should do with your child, and what you shouldn't. You'll have people asking personal questions about your own fertility and family planning methods. Honestly, you risk a pretty significant loss if you grow to love a child, and then you lose them. (And with pregnancy, you put yourself at some pretty serious health risks too.)

So yeah. Growing your family -- pretty risky business. And I can't totally recommend it.
 
Other than to say -- it is absolutely, 100% worth the risk.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Fostering-to-Adopt: Our story, Part 1


Our Maddy.
On the vacation where we truly started the foster care process.


Today, I saw a post on Creating a Family's Facebook page on the merits of adopting from foster care. And, naturally, there are several comments talking about how it's unethical to foster-to-adopt, and it's not in the best interest of children or families. And there are equally as many comments on how it's the perfect way to adopt and costs absolutely nothing.

Since I can't whole-heartedly agree with either sentiment, I thought I'd take some time to tell you about our experience with foster care.

(And -- it's probably long overdue anyway.) :)

Plus -- I know many of you (my readers) struggle with infertility or the inability to keep a pregnancy. If you are already wondering about adopting, I really want you to have this information.

First, a few statistics.

According to AdoptUSKids, "each year more than 20,000 children age out of the foster care without being adopted. Today there are 104,000 children in foster care waiting to be adopted ranging in age from less than a year old to 21."

And just how many children are in foster care, anyways?

"More than 250,000 children in the U.S. enter the foster care system every year. While more than half of these children will return to their parents, the remainder will stay in the system. Most of these children are living with foster families, but some also live in group facilities."

Ok -- just in case you didn't really get that . . . I'm going to repeat it.

A quarter of a million children enter foster care every year. EVERY YEAR.

Got it? Quarter of a million.
Like -- A. Lot. Of. Kids.

Half go to their original families. Half stay in the system until they age out or are adopted.

So that's 125,000 children every year that will need a new family.

Just to make sure we're all on the same page here . . . there are A LOT of kids that need a home.

You likely know some foster children and don't even realize it. Most of us foster parents don't go around actively saying, "Hi -- this is so-and-so. She's my foster child." (Actually, in my state, it's illegal to do so. For good reason. So really, there are more kids you run into who are in the system than you probably ever realized.)

Alright -- so now that we've got some statistics out of the way, I'm going to ask you to do me a favor. Take a short little break here, and read THIS post on why I chose to adopt from foster care.

OK -- are you back now? Fabulous.

So, for my family . . . we choose to adopt from foster care because we wanted to make a difference in a vulnerable child's life. For US -- it did involve some sort of "rescue mentality." (Some people are critical of that -- but that's my heart, and I'm being true to my journey.) I will say at this point, that some people adopt from foster care not necessarily to rescue a child, but because they want to add to their family. There is no judgment from me either way on what your motivation is. Both, to me, are equally valid motivations.

Now that you know the why, I'm going to tell you our "how."

When Maddy was almost 2, I felt strongly that we should start classes for foster care. Ryan was on board. I contacted the state, and they sent me a little package with very little information. Mostly just a case worker's contact info, and the class schedule. They told me (over email, I believe) to sign up for a class. So I did.

We got babysitting the first night of class, and drove to the building the class was held. Only to find a sign that said that DSHS was closed that day for a state holiday.

"What?? How did a state employee tell me to register for a class that was supposed to be held in a closed building due to a holiday?" And just like that, I decided that if the state couldn't get it together enough to actually get me to a class correctly, there was no heck of the way I was letting the state into my home. I contacted the social worker about my dismay -- and didn't even hear back again for about 6 months. And it was another email, kinda like, "Hey -- we missed you at class half-a-year ago. Are you still interested in foster care?" I didn't respond.

And that was that. At least for while.

At work, two friends started the process to adopt from foster care. They had gone through an agency called Youth For Christ. I was still skeptical -- but after watching how different their experience was, I asked for more information.

While I was gone on vacation, I contacted Youth For Christ, and we ended up chatting for about an hour on what our family was looking for. When I got home, I had a very detailed package waiting for me with tons of information on foster care and adoption. I was impressed at the difference I saw right away between working with the state and an agency. (I'll talk more about the perks of using an agency in a subsequent post.)

Ryan was again on board, and we started the paperwork right away. And there was A LOT of it. (And by a lot, I kinda mean like the whole 1/2 a million statistic. A LOT!!)

It took me several months to finish all the paperwork. We had a home inspection. We completed our state's requirement of a 36-hour-class. (Which, by the way, is like taking on another full-time job in one week.) We became certified in CPR and first-aid. We got finger-printed and had background checks. We had several friends and family become references for us. We had a home inspection, and did a homestudy interview -- where you basically allow a stranger access into all your private details.

I have a history of depression and anxiety. I was concerned that this would be an issue, but the licensor was OK with it, as long as I had a plan (medication and counseling) if I had a setback.

We disclosed all of our medical histories, as well as our family backgrounds. We bought a new crib as was required, even though Maddy's crib was barely 2 years old and in fabulous condition. We locked up all our medicine, got a correctly sized fire extinguisher, and made sure we were current on all our immunizations. And made sure our home passed a checklist about 4-5 pages long of safety issues. Oh, and we got physicals to verify that we were physically fit to parent.

The whole process from the first phone call to receiving our license was a little over 3 months.

We chose to get licensed for a child ages 0-5. We wanted to keep the birth order in tact, so we would really only take a child in if they were 2 or under . . . but we needed to be licensed for longer in case the child would be with us for several years.

We also wanted to take a child that would likely be available for adoption. We knew that our goal as foster parents would first and foremost be to promote reunification with their biological parents. But in case that wasn't what the state had decided would be in the best interest of the child, we wanted to have them be apart of our forever family.

To "minimize" some of the risk of heartbreak on our end, in case we grew very attached to a child and have to say "good-bye", we asked that we only hear about children who would likely need a forever home. For our situation, this would include a mom who gave birth but the court had already deemed her an unfit mom and the child would immediately go into an adoptive situation. Or a child who had already been in the system for over a year, and the state was adding to the reunification plan an alternate plan to adopt the child out. Or a child that was already legally-free that met our other specifications. (I know this sounds like custom-ordering a car, or something. But I do believe you really need to be specific about what you and your family are up for or not.)

We also chose no significant health needs (as I didn't feel capable of handling severe special needs).

Naturally, we hoped for a call right away. Because that sometimes happens. But that was NOT our journey.

About one month after getting licensed, we found out we were pregnant with Olivia. Once she died, I realized I really, really, really wanted another biological child. All my efforts from that point went to getting pregnant and trying to keep the baby. Several times after Olivia died, I questioned whether or not we even wanted to pursue fostering anymore.

I conveyed such questioning to our licensor (something that really had ramifications for us . . . but I'll talk about that later).

We found out we had ANOTHER 36-hour class to attend, and I just wasn't ready for the commitment. I was at a crossroads whether to continue to keep our license up, or just to let it all go. (You can read about this part of the journey HERE).

In the end, we chose to continue and attend the class. But this time, my husband was able to do it by himself, so I could just watch Maddy and it all worked out.

A few times during this time we were asked to provide respite for another foster family.

In this case, respite basically means state-paid-for overnight babysitting. The first time we were asked, we readily agreed. The deal was we would pick up the one-year-old at her daycare and have her for the weekend. I was leery about the arrangement -- what one-year-old would be OK going home with perfect strangers?? -- but that was the plan and we stuck to it.

EXCEPT.

Ryan went to go pick up the girl, and she wasn't there. Panicked, he called me. "Great," we're both thinking. "This is our first time fostering, even for a weekend, and we've already lost the child!" Turns out it was a miscommunication, and the parents decided to opt out of getting respite that weekend. They thought the caseworker told us. She thought they had called us.

So our first respite was a total flop.

The second time we were asked was for a little boy for Christmas Day. How strange, again, that someone wouldn't want their foster child on Christmas Day? This time, for the sake of the child, we said no. He screamed a lot and didn't handle transitions -- and our Christmas Day is ALL about going back and forth from family to family from 7 am-midnight. We felt our Christmas plans would not be enjoyable or relaxing to him at all.

A full year after getting licensed with NO other call for a child (respite or otherwise), the director of the agency asked to come meet with us.

It turns out that since I had mentioned my hesitations to our licensor, our "file" was put on the shelf. Meaning, when a child needed a home -- we weren't ever put forward as a potential home. Which explained the pretty much full year of silence.

We were actually at the point where we DID want a foster child in our home, and conveyed that to her. And we were put back in the running.

And one month later, FINALLY -- we got our first call for a placement! WOOO-HOOOO!!!

At this point, I was desperate (and yes, I do mean desperate) for a child to be in my arms. At this point, I had two children die while I was pregnant with them in the last year. And my 1-year-anniversary with Olivia was coming right up. And it was just a few days before Christmas. I felt that the timing was great. Plus, this was a perfectly healthy newborn girl, born just the day before, who would likely be adopted because the mother had already been deemed unfit to parent.

So, before our director could even get the question out of her mouth, I was already (practically) shouting, "YES! We want her!"

Sadly, the way the situation unfolded was something that left me heart-broken (even more), and I was totally unprepared for. While it was not a true loss, having the hope of this little girl then "losing her" to another family absolutely tore at my heart and left me broken.

When was enough enough???

And then came Leyla.

Click here for Part 2.




Getting a child -- giving up bread -- and everything in between

Hi everyone!

Sorry it's been so long since my last post. (Ok, Ok, I know you were not exactly holding your breath or anything.) But if you were -- we are still alive!

So the big news since my most recent post is that last week, we officially adopted our daughter Leyla. :) Yay! She has a name! And she is an official Lewis!





This was Leyla's first foster family, who had her from birth to age 1.

 
 

The high from that day has worn off some, but I'm still very thankful that finalization is behind us and we can move forward as a family now.

Ryan and I have chosen to keep our foster license open for now. We are not sure if/when we would accept another child into our home -- but for now, we are going to enjoy a little bit of a break from social workers. (We like our social workers and all, but still, it's nice to know they don't have to come check in on us.)

As for me, I feel like I'm crawling out of the pit I was in. A woman I respect very much has said, "Every time you crawl out of the pit, you launch a new version of yourself."

And I definitely am feeling that way.

I am choosing to take my business to the next level -- and have chosen to attend our yearly conference in Vegas. While I know that it is going to be full of grief-triggers -- HELLO being surrounded by 18,000 fertile women -- it is still very much something I need to do. Maybe I'll take a few extra breaks by the pool or something. ;) Who knows?

More than just business, I'm really trying to focus on God more. And friends. And the good things I have in life.

I'm still not sure if I'm up for trying again to have a biological child. That decision doesn't have to be made now, and I'm thankful for that. But I do go back and forth on whether or not I'm up for it. Or if my family is.

For now, I'm thankful to see my girls together. And I'm thankful that we have a few things to look forward to! (Can you say, Great Wolf Lodge???)

I must confess I am doing terrible these days at being gluten-free. It's strange because I was doing great for so long (months!!!) And then this last week, it's all fallen apart. I think I lost a good bit of my drive when we miscarried last, because I was hoping getting rid of gluten would help me keep my babies. I WILL say, however, I still don't feel well when I eat gluten -- so at least that is some sort of incentive. So I must just say, I'm gluten-reduced. Not gluten-free. At least for now. Ok. Now I at least don't have to feel like a hypocrite the few times I cheat!

My brain has been somewhat preoccupied with writing a book. I'm a tad overwhelmed at the process of writing a non-fiction proposal and then actually trying to get it published. And I'm a little unsure of what the structure and overall feel of my book will be.

(Well, maybe not so much the feel. I think I'll write just as I always have. I'm just wondering how much will be my personal story -- and how much will it be my thoughts on loss, etc? And how many other people's stories will I include? And should I include the physical processes in my miscarriage story? Or should I focus only on the emotional aspects?)

Anyway -- you can see I don't have it all hammered out yet, but my brain is working full-time on it. (Again -- not total truth. My brain is never on one thing full-time when I have two littles around. But at least it's as full-time as it can be.)

So you tell me -- what has gone on in your world this last week? Have you ever gone gluten-free? And what should my book be about? :)

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.

Forever.



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.

Mommy

 

 




 


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.

Rachel


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


Carrie,

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,

Rachel



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.

Rachel

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.

Rachel

 


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 it...here 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.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Adoption update # 1 billion and 1



For some reason, tonight, I feel like giving you an update... 

Maybe it's because we finally heard back from our attorney today. 

Woot woot!

If I were a runner, I could probably come up with a great analogy right about now about what it feels like to be finally facing that finish line and sprinting toward the prize. 

Alas, I'm not a runner, and never aspire to become one. And so my feelings at this part of the race would probably be that of being shamelessly carried off the track on a stretcher. 

So, for the sake of this quickly crumbling analogy, let us picture how you, runners, might be feeling at this leg of the race. 

Fierce determination. Renewed energy. Exhaustion overcome by the sheer thrill of it all.

And that (probably) is how I am. 

(I think.)

As much as I was excited to get the call frim the attorney's today, I was met with some unexpected news.

The attorney needed more information, as my paperwork was incomplete. 

(Naturally. They have everything from how I related to my kid brother in third-grade, to every medical condition I've had, my husband has had, and all of our immediate family have had. And yet, our paperwork is incomplete.)

(Seriously though. The entire family's medical history was just ONE question on a 20-page questionnaire. On the SECOND homestudy we completed.) 

And now you know what "paper pregnancy" is really like. 

"What," I wondered, "could they possibly need???"

"Oh, you know, the usual. Legal name. DOB. Address ..." The email lists half a dozen of the most basic info ever.

Everything, I am certain, that could be found on any one of the billions of pages we've already filled out. 

It could have been worse. Actually, it could have been a lot worse. 

And so I dutifully entered the info again, and breathed a sigh of relief that I didn't have to look up my address at every one of my previous residences growing up in the military. 

(I slightly recall doing that already. I don't know. I was in such a haze. Don't they have some sort of epidurals for adoptions??) 

(oh, wait, that's called wine.)  

(I digress.)

And so it happens that we still don't have a date. 

If I had ever gone to term with any of my babies, I would probably tell you it's just like being 40+ weeks pregnant, knowing delivery is imminent but not knowing the day, while simultaneously wondering if you just might be pregnant FOREVER. 

Again... Never been there. 

But I think I know enough friends who had, so I think I can safely say I understand. (A little.)

And, if I may boast for just one moment, I will admit that this will be the least physically painful addition to our family ever.

It is also the only family addition where I have 100% confidence that my body will neither kill my child or try to kill me in the process. 

A morbid, yet visceral relief.

And so, instead of enduring 40 hours of back labor, like some of you have, I get to go shopping for an adoption day outfit (mine, naturally), go to a room surrounded by happy people, sign a piece of paper, have a huge party afterward, and probably unwind with some wine with the hubby. 
 
Oh... And sleep ALL through the night. 

(There will be no little hospital gown with the silly little holes placed exactly where you MOST want to be covered when guests come to visit. No night nurses to wake me up to check my vitals every hour for a day after surgery. And no magnesium sulfate! Which means I can be fairly certain that for our first picture as a family, both of my eyeballs will be pointed in the same direction... A feat I seemed to have found impossible with Maddy.)
 
Fully covered, fully rested, and fully in love with our little girl, we slowly move forward toward the finish line. 

Here's what we have left (barring any unforeseen incomplete paperwork) ...

We have court tomorrow. I'll probably wait 3 hours for a 5-minute formality (during all of which I'll dread the judge calling on me to speak up to the court to give an udate on little miss. I always get so flustered.) While not my favorite way to spend time, if it means it gets us closer to "gotcha day," I'm all in. 

We need to set a date to meet with our attorney this week. They asked today if they could see us tomorrow, but we have court. So hopefully we'll meet on Friday. 

I have a few pages of adoption paperwork to verify. I'm sure we'll have a lot to sign. 

Then ... We get to pick a date. 

We are almost there!

PS. For those of you who may be concerned, I've had little miss's outfit picked out and hanging in her closet for months. Can't wait to see her in it! She'll be so stinking cute. :)

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