Wednesday, July 29, 2015

10 ways to help a foster child without being a foster parent

As I write this short blog on my phone, I'm cradling Baby Z --- our foster son of almost a year --- in my arms. 

He's fitfully sleeping. I just finished singing "You are my sunshine" ... always keenly aware that the words, "You'll never know dear, how much I love you. Please don't take my sunshine away..." ring much truer than I would like.

Many of you have told us that you respect our role as foster parents. Some of you have asked how we are going to do it ... you know ... the "giving back" part. (I usually tell you I have no idea how to give a baby back. We haven't done that yet.)

Most of you conclude by saying that you could never do what we do.

In case you still want to help ... but truly believe you can't be a foster parent yourself (yet) ... I want to give you some ideas on how to still help foster children. Because I know your heart (it's awesome), and I know there is still so much left you can do --- even if you can't take a child long-term into your home.

1. Provide meals for foster families when they receive a placement. (And by placement, I really mean a child.)

God made it so that most families have an average of 9 months to prepare physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually for a new baby to enter a family. That gives time to not only grow a human, but also to make freezer meals, hold baby showers, do registries, prepare nurseries, purchase appropriate clothing, and nest to your heart's content.

Foster families only get about 24 hours notice before taking a child (give or take 23 hours). And that's if they are lucky.

Foster care moves quickly ... Usually, it seems ONLY in this stage ... And as a parent, it is OVERWHELMING. 

I have gotten the call about a baby in the morning, and was told to be ready to pick her up, brand-spanking-new, at the hospital that afternoon. 

No matter how much you think you have the room ready, it's not quite enough. You don't know the gender or the age of the child that is going to be placed in your home, till you get the call. You don't know what they will come with --- in our case, only a week's worth of clothes for our foster son. (And we had 0 boy clothes on hand.)

Not only is it hard to prepare, but with a new child, a social worker has to come to the house within 24 hours. You have SO many appointments those first few weeks, it is crazy. There is paperwork, doctor's appointments, sometimes court to attend, day care to set up ... The list is long and crazy.

Plus you have a child that has changed living situations, is living now with strangers, and is likely stressed and possibly traumatized.

All that to say ... Preparing for a child in 24 hours is a lot of work, and stress, and chaos ... Even if the foster parents are happy to do it. A meal would be a ginormous, super amazing, mega huge thing to do for foster families. Like really. Huge like the Hulk. A REALLY BIG DEAL.

If you are far away, consider sending a gift card to a pizza place or take-out restaurant. Or volunteer to organize meals via Mealtrain.

Vow that if a foster family you know gets a new child, you'll let them know meals will be the last thing they have to worry about.

2. Give or lend clothes, age-appropriate toys and books.

After having two girls, all our clothes were decidedly pink, purple or princess. When Baby Z came along ... Well, he didn't have a chance. (And yes, for awhile, his pajamas were quite girly. Sometimes, they still are.) 

Our toys were equally girly. Sure, we had some blocks and Legos and a few other gender neutral toys, but our one and only dump truck was pink and purple. (No joke.)

I'll always remember when my friend Maria came by and dropped off a few bags of boy clothes, plus several boy books and toys. (FINALLY --- a proper boy truck for the boy!) 

I'll also be forever indebted to my girlfriend Alex, for lending me tons of hand-me-downs, helping me keep Z looking good for over 6 months.

A stranger on a local "buy for baby" Facebook group GAVE me her jumper she had originally posted for sale, just because we were foster parents.

These were all huge blessings!

Before you gather up all your unwanted baby items, send them to Goodwill, hold a garage sale, or post them on Craigslist or Facebook ... Call or message your foster friends to see if they need anything.

If you don't know any foster families personally, Google "foster care agencies" then give them a call. Ask if they need any donations of clothes or toys. 

If there are no agencies, call your local DSHS. They have to stock visitation rooms (rooms designated for bio families to visit the kids in a secure, supervised location) with toys, puzzles, books, and baby gear. Many times, they could use some new-to-them toys.

If you have clothes to donate, check in with your local foster care clothing closet.

Your unwanted, unnecessary items to YOU could be a huge blessing for a foster family, and lift a big financial burden from their shoulders. So start giving and start lending!

3. Throw a baby shower for your friends who are fostering.

If you have friends that have just announced they are fostering, or are hoping to adopt from foster care, offer to throw them a shower. While you will always want to check with the foster couple first, I think this is even more important if the family is fostering or adopting because they don't already have biological children. Why make them miss out on this really fun part of becoming a family?

I know this might seem a little untraditional, as foster children are often not permanent additions to the family. But if someone is getting licensed, throw them a shower anyway. They have lots of purchases they'll need to make in order to get their home foster ready. For instance, even though our crib was perfectly safe and in great shape, we had to purchase a brand-new crib because of a state law, just to get licensed. 

You can also help them get caught up on the basics. Do they have a double-stroller if they are intending to take a sibling set? Do they have gift cards for diapers, formula, wipes and clothes? Do they have bedding for the crib, and a smorgasbord of toys or books to keep on hand? 

If a foster child's parental rights have been terminated, and the foster family is moving forward with an adoption, now is the perfect time to offer to celebrate the joyful addition to their family. The focus at this point might not be so much on preparing for baby --- as in many cases, the child has already been living with the family. But this is an opportunity for you to celebrate with them, and let them know that you are just as much in support of their family growing as you would be if they were giving birth.

4. Take their picture.

Are you a photographer? Are you just really handy with a camera? Offer to give their new family, and especially their child, a portrait. While a family portrait is likely not something they'll want to do right away, it can be an amazing gift to parents when their foster child is about to return home. 

It is also a gift to the foster child. Most foster children don't have access to photos of themselves. Help give that child memories to take with them once they leave.

5. Volunteer. 

Our foster agency, West Sound Youth for Christ, holds quarterly trainings for us foster parents. You may not know this, but like physicians and nurses, we are required by state law to do continuing education. 

To help us meet our ongoing training requirements, our agency holds a dinner and training night for our family ... Complete with childcare. Volunteers help prepare and serve our dinner, and watch our kids.

You could be that volunteer! 

6. Organize an Angel Tree at your church for Christmas ... Or purchase gifts for a child featured on the tree.

Our agency partnered with our church this year to provide Christmas gifts to children in care.

Most states DO give a monthly stipend to foster parents who have taken in a child... But that stipend has to cover clothing, food, formula, diapers, wipes, activity expenses, school expenses, extracurricular activities and more. For homes who have taken in several children (or already have several children of their own), Christmas can be somewhat of a financial burden. 

This year, even though we did not request it, Z was placed on a tree, and received many clothes, books and toys. And when he moves back into his bio parent's house, he'll definitely be taking these along with him.

7. Pray.

Foster care is amazing ... And hard. Rewarding... And hard. Totally worth it ... And hard. 

Cover foster families in prayer. Pray for their marriages, and the other children in their home. Pray for healing of children's emotional and physical wounds.

Pray extra hard during transitions. Pray for God's protection on this family as Satan seriously does not like to see his work go undone. And pray for the bio families as well. 

I'm constantly amazed at the people who have told us they pray for our family. Seriously guys. One of the best things you can do. Loving a child like your own and then letting them go takes a super-human love and super-human strength. It is basically God in us. So pray for us. And pray hard.

8. Provide respite.

Did you know that is some states, you can babysit foster children, even overnight, without being licensed? 

In Washington state, trusted friends and families can care for a child for up to 48 hours without having to be licensed. This is JUST enough time for a couple to get away for a weekend, reconnect, and put some of the stress of foster care behind them ... At least for a while.

When Z was not sleeping (and by that, I mean he was waking up anywhere from every 20 minutes to 6 times a night), friends Jessica and Jamel took Z for a weekend ... So Ryan and I could get some much needed sleep. This was another (Sleep and food are pretty much at the top of my priority list, can you tell?)

You can also get licensed JUST to provide respite. Respite is overnight, state-paid babysitting for foster kids. You don't have to take a child long-term, and you get to decide when, the ages, and how long you want to provide respite ... But this is a HUGE need that doesn't require a long-term commitment. 

Currently, because of vaccination laws, there is a shortage of homes for foster babies under age 2. And this means that finding respite through our agency is extremely difficult, as they have lost half of the homes that were available to these children. 

If you think you could love on some children for a weekend, or a week or two ... Contact an agency and find out how you can become licensed for respite.

9. Donate. 

Some foster parents have extra needs. Like this family here. Meet my friend Shellie. She is caring for 7 children, 2 of them medically-fragile foster kids, in spite of her chronic health issues and crazy busy schedule. In order for them to continue caring for these two children, they need to purchase a 12-passenger van, as Shellie can no longer drive at nights --- making their current system of taking two cars everywhere impossible. 

If you have been blessed with extra, consider giving to a foster family in need.

Or donate to a non-profit foster agency, like Youth for Christ. 

10. Become a foster parent.

Ok, ok. I said you didn't have to become a foster parent to help.  And clearly there are LOTS of ways to help without getting licensed yourself. But you can't SERIOUSLY expect me to write a post about helping foster kids without mentioning becoming a foster parent yourself, can you?

I just want to encourage you to mull it around for a while. Call an agency or DSHS and find out what's involved. Talk to your partner. Look at your house and see if there's room for two more little feet.

I'm not saying foster care is for everyone . . . but that's the point, right? It's not really FOR US.

It's for hurting, abused, neglected kids who need love, security, and a place to call H-O-M-E.

You don't have to have a lot of living space, be the perfect parent, be a stay-at-home parent, have tons of nice things or a huge income to be a foster parent. You need love, and patience, and the willingness to be inconvenienced for the sake of a child.

We all see horrible news stories every night of children that are taken from abusive situations, or have been neglected, sexually abused, and sometimes murdered. We have seen with our eyes ... Even if we didn't want to --- the plight of these hurting kids. 

Yes, they system is far from perfect, and yes, it's hard. (I think I mentioned that a time or three.) But it is worth it.

As part of our family's legacy, we can say that we have taken in a child who was starved for love and nutrition, helped him catch up completely, given him the tools to love and attach to others, and know what it means to have a family. And this legacy is one that our own children will grow up knowing. (Not to mention the fact that one of my own children would not be here of it weren't for us taking the plunge, and deciding to do foster care.)

How amazing would it be for this to be your legacy too? 

You can do respite, receiving care, adoption only, short-term or long-term care ... You can take babies from the hospital or college students who need a home to go to on weekends and holidays. You choose what you are comfortable saying "yes" to.

So before you just say, "I can't do it . . . " I want you to ask yourself, "What if I can?"

No matter which of the 10 ways you choose to help without becoming foster parent  (OK, OK, it's really 9 ways) . . . let's lock arms and start changing these kids' lives one meal, one toy, one outfit, one prayer, and one sleepless night at a time. 


Monday, July 27, 2015

Microblog Monday: 2 ways to write brilliantly

Photo Credit: Dwayne Bent (Flickr), edited with permission

1 -- Write what your audience is thinking, feeling, instinctively knows to be their truth, but do not have the words to voice. Write how they feel, give them context to their experience, put language to their truth and they will say, 

"THIS!! Finally, someone totally understands me!

It is the one time in human connection when you are the one to speak ... And they are the ones who feel heard.

2 -- Pen your from your own perspective. Take something that everyone feels they know, or has an opinion on, and bring a unique twist. Open their eyes to a new way of thinking, and it is like peeling back the layers of this universe to show them there is more than what they ever could have imagined. 

"I never would have thought this way, but oh my goodness, this totally makes sense," they will say to themselves.

It is one time in human connection when difference of thought builds bridges instead of building walls.

Achieve one -- And you will connect with a large audience. 

Achieve both -- and you will connect with that audience for a lifetime.

Not sure what Microblog Monday is? Click here.

Monday, July 20, 2015

9 (not-so-average tips) to a healthy 9 months

If you found this post looking for advice like:

The best water infusions for healthy hydration

How to push out a baby in 3 easy steps

Finding the best prenatal yoga class that is a good fit for YOU

I'm sorry. You'll just have to go search BabyCenter. 

Pregnancy has never been easy for me. (You could make the case that it has in fact been very hard.) And my pregnancies have taught me some lessons I'd like to share. Even if they aren't what you would call conventional.

I've been pregnant 5 times, and have given birth to a live baby once. I've had scary complications like HELLP Syndrome, Preeclampsia, threatened premature labor, threatened miscarriage and hemorrhage (and that was in my successful -- unplanned -- pregnancy.) The other pregnancies ended in a ruptured ectopic pregnancy and first-trimester miscarriages. I have been diagnosed with secondary infertility.

When American Recall Center asked me to write my 9 tips for 9 healthy months,  I joked with Ryan that I really could just boil my tips down into one big tip:


Now, if I haven't totally scared you off yet with my fertility resume -- let me share why I think you should keep reading . . . 

What I have lacked in success, I have more than made up for in experience.

If you are like most women, you want a perfectly planned pregnancy, followed by a perfectly executed 9 months, followed by the most meticulously planned birth (that follows their plan a "t"), which ends in a glowing season of postpartum bliss.

No one Ahem.  Few people get their perfect pregnancy.

You might be one of the few who do get a perfect 9 months. Awesome. Congrats. You rock that bump and postpartum bliss.

But the for the rest of us -- here are my 9 tips to have as healthy of a 9 months you can have.

1. It doesn't have to be planned to be good.

My first positive pregnancy test was a bit of an undoing for me. (And by undoing, I mean, I became a tearful mess, took myself to bed instead of to work, and wailed to my husband that "we are going to have a boy, and when he becomes 16, he'll get his girlfriend pregnant, and we'll have a teenage pregnancy on our hands! What are we going to do then??!!") 

Yes, those were my words. My husband simply replied . . . "Are you even serious right now?" 

(For the record, I was quite serious.)

(Also for the record, we had a girl.) 

Now in this world where we expect kindergartners to already know what they want to do with the rest of their lives, it makes sense that we all expect to plan our pregnancies. The right equation for a baby in today's culture seems to be:

Love + 

A few years to play + 
A few years to plan + 
A house (owned, not rented, with 20% down) + 
2 successful careers + 
College funds started for kids + 
Exotic vacations (because you'll never get those again) + 
Marriage (if you're traditional) =
The right time to start a family

Everyone around us says we have to be READY for a baby for it to be a good thing.

But can I tell you a little secret? Our unplanned pregnancy was the most beautiful blessing of my life.  And if I had waited to plan for a baby, chances are, it would have been too late. I think God maybe knew that if it was going to happen at all, it needed happen now.

And so if you are faced with an unplanned pregnancy -- know that even if the circumstances seem extra stressful, or you just don't feel ready -- relax a little bit. This baby is one of the biggest blessings you'll experience. 

2. Screw the silence on pregnancy. (If you want to, that is.)

I don't know when it became the "right" thing to pretend to friends and family that you've had a 3-month flu, hide the fact that you have the energy of a walking zombie, buy a whole new wardrobe that isn't maternity clothes but will cover your growing bump for the first trimester. And all so that if your precious miracle dies, you can mourn and grieve alone, still while pretending to the outside world that you are OK.

Seriously, why was this ever cool?

If you are the silent type, and honestly want to crawl in a proverbial hole from the world in case of a miscarriage, to each his own. By all means, hide your pregnancy. That is your right.

But if you are hiding because it is the RIGHT thing to do (according to everyone else), but you actually WANT to share in the joy (and maybe in the grief) of your pregnancy, do so.

You don't officially become pregnant at 13 weeks. Pregnancy doesn't instantly turn safe at 13 weeks. So if you want to shout it from the rooftop -- or just come up with a really adorable, Pintrest-worthy social media announcement -- anytime before the 13-week mark, DO IT! 

If you can't decide, then play it by ear. Or try your best to think of what you would want to do if you DID miscarry. Would you want to retreat to your life alone in case of a horrible tragedy? Or would you want meals, flowers, cards, and caring friends and family to surround you. (Albeit, there will always be people saying the wrong things. It does come at a small price.)

The question here is not what's normal. It's, What do YOU want?

3. Let it go. Let it go. (Can't hold it back anymore.)

(And if Frozen is now stuck in your head, sorry about that.)

If my pregnancy experiences have taught me anything, it's that there is so little I can control. 

Now the things I CAN control, like diet, and well, um . . .  diet . . . THAT I will control. But as for the rest, pregnancy and life can throw you some major curve balls.

The biggest reason I want to bring this up is because I want you to know that your pregnancy might not end in a baby you get to keep in your arms. Now, I know this information sucks. Trust me, I've lived it out and it sucks.

But if you are the 1 in 4 whose pregnancy ends in loss, I want you to know this one super huge mega big thing:


It's not that you read 9 tips somewhere, did 8 of them and forgot to do #9. It's not the waterslide you went down before you knew you were pregnant. Or the one glass of wine you had. Or the deli meat you forgot to microwave that one time. 

When my tube ruptured, and that baby we named Olivia died, I blamed myself. I thought that maybe I didn't drink enough water the day we had sex, and my tubes weren't slimy enough, and she got stuck and that's why she died.

Trust me, when you are looking for answers, you'll find one . . . even if you have to make it up. Even if it makes YOU the one to blame. Lots of us bereaved women will blame ourselves unless our doctor can give us a really good reason not to.

But most of the time, doctors have to idea why it happens. And unless you've made it so far in your gestation, or unless you have recurring losses . . . they won't test.

So if you end up without a baby in your arms, please promise me: In your quest for answers, you won't blame yourself. You will know that you did everything YOU COULD CONTROL for this baby, and your baby knows it. She knows you did your best, and that you would do anything for her. 

 Loss is hard. But let go of any guilt a loss can cause.

(By the way, this tip is for you even if your baby was born sick or with a disability, or you had pregnancy complications, or you had to have a cesarean or other interventions you didn't want. IT'S NOT YOUR FAULT!!!)

OK, now that we've addressed the big elephant in the room . . . let's move on.

4. You're not the patient. You're the boss.

With Maddy, I visited L&D several times in my pregnancy. Once for what I thought was leaking amniotic fluid. (It was just pee. Eww. I know. Pregnancy can be gross.) Perfectly valid concern. They took me seriously, and I was wrong. But my concerns were alleviated, and I knew everything was OK.

The other times were for "braxton hicks" that were regular, intense and wouldn't go away. Each time I went in, I received shots of terbutaline, followed by 2 weeks of bedrest, and pills I had to take every 4 hours.  This started at 28 weeks, and happened every so many weeks. In spite of all the contractions (that were EXACTLY the same as my labor contractions), I never dilated.

It was RIGHT to go in, as I could have dilated at any point. And after I was in labor, I realized I couldn't tell the difference between my braxton hicks and my labor contractions because there WAS NO DIFFERENCE. At least not in the way it felt to me anyway.

And then at 36 weeks, I went in again. Throwing up every few minutes. In so much pain, I can't sit still. And having those awful (not dilating) contractions.

This time, I never got to see my doctor. I was told I was dehydrated (even though I KNEW that I knew that I knew that I knew) that my hydration should have been fine. (If I was dehydrated, it was because it was 6 am, and I did not consume water while sleeping. But that should not have caused intense pain.) 

My doula came to the hospital, but did not take me seriously. When I told her it hurt so badly that I wanted to die, she told me "Oh, hunny. This is just the beginning. It will get so much worse!" (Fast forward to tip #9 -- Hire the right birthing team.)

Ryan thought I was being a drama queen. 

Everyone thought I was crazy. Except me. I knew something was wrong.

They sent me home after filling me with bags full of fluid. Had they checked my blood, they would have noticed that they were sending a woman home who had a life-threatening condition called HELLP Syndrome. 

Because preeclampsia usually comes first, my HELLP was not caught. Because I was so concerned about being a good patient, and that maybe I really was crazy because I'm just a first-time mom . . . I didn't speak up.

Ya'll. I could have died. Maddy could have died. Seriously. Sending me home was the WORST thing they could have done.

In the end, we went back a few days later, I was correctly diagnosed, and everything went scarily fast. Maddy and I both lived. But I forever regret playing the patient that day, and not the boss. 

You are the boss of your body. You know when something is not right. And you are the one paying the medical bills. So if you need that test, if you need to be seen, if you need some reassurance, if you need that second opinion, if you need to stay overnight to be sure -- you do that. 

Repeat after me. "This is my body. This is my baby. I pay the bills. I'm not just a patient. I am the boss."

5. Choose gratitude. Maybe not always, but often. 

So far, I think we've covered that pregnancy really sucks sometimes.

Let's recap:

You pee on yourself. And then go to the doctor where he tell has to tell you you peed on yourself.

You have massive contractions for months that accomplish NOTHING.
You feel (and occasionally look) like a beached whale.  (I love you. I'm just telling it like it is.)
Your cute clothes don't fit.
You throw up.
And occasionally, pregnancy tries to kill you.

So I get that it's not all roses and rainbows.

But here's the deal. You have a beautiful baby -- half you, half your partner -- growing inside of you. And there are women all around the world who would pay any price, cut off limbs, and mortgage homes JUST TO BE a beached whale, throwing up, peeing herself and growing her own baby.

There are times you will need to vent. Find your safe, compassionate friends, and vent. (And just FYI, unless they offer, infertile or bereaved women are rarely the best people to vent to.)

But every day, spend some time in gratitude.

I complained for most of my pregnancy with Maddy. I didn't know at the time it was going to the be ONLY time I would feel like a beached whale. Or that I would feel kicks. Or that I would get baby showers. I didn't know she would be one of my greatest friends. If I knew then what I know now, I would have said thanks so much more. 

Spend a few minutes every day recounting your blessings with this baby, and all that you are thankful for. 

I hear gratitude is the best medicine. (Or is that laughter?)

6. Make YOU a priority. Not for the baby. But for YOU.

The other day, I took a shower. Normally, this daily practice of hygiene would not be considered a big deal. Never would it be considered selfish. And yet -- I was consumed with guilt.

My 1-year-old foster son had to be put in the pack-n-play, in front of the TV, while I took my 15-minute shower and did makeup, dress, and hair for the remaining 15 minutes.

Mind you -- he was perfectly content. But I was wracked with guilt for taking some time for ME that wasn't completely centered around my kids.

You see, this whole "die to self to save baby" thing starts right away. The moment you become pregnant, all the other pregnancy tip blogs are going to tell you what to change. For BABY. Don't eat this. Don't lay on your belly. Don't eat shellfish. Don't change your cats liter. Don't drink alcohol.

From the moment you suspect you're pregnant, you are already changing things for baby. While that desire to put baby first is good, you have to set some boundaries.

Some things, you just need to do for you. 

You need a nap because YOU are tired. You need a haircut and style because it makes you feel prettier. And because you WANT one. You exercise because it releases your stress. You eat well because it also makes your body feel better.

Healthy you + baby = awesomeness.

Stressed out, unhappy, postpartum mom that sacrifices it all + baby = danger and despair. (And not-so-awesomness.)

So take time for you. Not because you're pregnant. Not because it's good for the baby. But because it's good for YOU! Trust me, this is a habit you need to start now.

7. Like all journeys, this one comes with baggage.

We all have baggage in life. Things that trigger us, spark anxiety or depression, cause us to feel insufficient or not enough. 

We carry this baggage along. And think that maybe if all the right stuff or the right people join us, we can get rid of it. Some people think having a baby will fix their baggage.

But trust me -- it doesn't. Sometimes it even CAUSES baggage.

Getting pregnant is not a cure for infertility. 

Becoming a mom does not fix the pain of having a bad mother yourself.

Having a new baby does not replace a baby that died.

Instead, being pregnant and parenting your own child will trigger all sorts of baggage you might have. In between nesting, doing your baby registry, freezer-meal planning, and childbirth classes -- you really need to address some of the issues you have.

What in your marriage needs to be fixed?

What do you need to resolve with your own parents?
What part of your past do you need to make peace with?
Who do you need to sufficiently grieve?
What expectations do you have that are not currently being met?

And keep in mind during pregnancy and after what kind of expectations you had for pregnancy, birth and baby. Was it all you dreamed of, or do you feel let down? Are you struggling with attachment or feeling bonded? Do you need more help from your partner, or friends or family?

Right now, your head space is where it's at. Keep it healthy. Employ a counselor if you need to. Pray and meditate (on God's word).

Pregnancy can be amazing. And a miracle. But it's not a cure for baggage.

8. Take it a day at a time. And celebrate the baby steps.

Every day that I remained pregnant felt like a victory. I don't know why Maddy seemed to be in such a hurry to get out. But I remember feeling like I was literally fighting every day, every week, just to keep her in. 

Every time I moved up a size in vegetables or fruit on the Babycenter app, the better I felt. 

With our 3 miscarriages, I didn't know the outcome of those pregnancies. Every day I was pregnant was fraught with worry and fear. I had to force myself to say "I don't know what tomorrow will bring. But I know that today, I'm pregnant. Today, my baby is alive and growing. Today, I'm going to be as healthy as I can, and do everything possible to keep this baby here. Today, I'm grateful for today."

Your 9-month-long journey is made up of a lot of todays. A lot of little baby steps. 

Today, your baby is growing and alive. Today, your body is doing everything it can for your baby. Today, you are one step closer to meeting your little person. Today, you are grateful it's today.

9. Be informed.

Be smart. Be informed. Just try not to be crazy. :)

I highly recommend reading up on pregnancy complications. Make sure your doctor is explicit on when she wants you to come in. Any time you are in doubt, call your nurse. If you still don't feel satisfied, make an appointment. If you need to, get a doppler so you can listen to your baby's heartbeat at home. 

Make informed choices on your birthing team, home birth vs. hospital birth, vbac vs. repeat cesarean, If you choose a doula, make sure you are really comfortable with her. Same with your doctor or midwife. Change if you need to, even if it's late in the game.

Be prepared -- a little extra early. Births rarely come right on time, so have your bags packed and ready early. (Like, really early. When we gave birth to Maddy, I had no camera, change of clothes or contact solution. I gave birth over 3 weeks early -- and I was NOT ready. Remember really big tip: Do everything Rachel did not do!) 

If you have concerns, bring them up to your doctor. If you have tests you want run, then request them. As much as you can, take charge of your health.

And in that light, I'm going to pass on a tidbit of info to help you be a little more prepared, from the American Recall Center: 

One issue American Recall Center is currently raising awareness about is Zofran side effects - this anti-nausea drug has been used ‘off-label’ to treat morning sickness, even though the FDA does not approve the drug for that application. As you’ll see on our site, the Zofran drug severely increases the risk for birth defects like cleft palate and heart defects.

OK guys! That's it! I hope that these tips have helped you. Best of luck on your journey to baby!

What are some of your favorite tips for a healthy pregnancy?

Saturday, July 11, 2015

The baby I wanted to miscarry

Dear woman who Googled "how to make myself miscarry,"

I'm not sure if you know this, but my blog has this feature that lets me see how people find my blog.

Many of the search terms make sense:

Miscarriage at 20 weeks

Ectopic pregnancy

What to do if I miscarry

Baby loss blogs


Every once in a while, I get a search topic that makes me just stop in my tracks. Your search topic, for example.  "How to make myself miscarry." It broke my heart.

I don't know how much of my blog you read or saw, but I want you to know that I too had an unplanned pregnancy. I too was horribly upset by it, and couldn't imagine my future with this child a part of it. I hated being pregnant, and wanted to miscarry.

I bet you probably didn't expect me to tell you this -- as I'm a baby-loss blogger -- but I want you to know, it's true.

I was at my wit's end, and wanted to end my pregnancy. My moral compass and beliefs since I was a child wouldn't actually allow me to do anything about it. So I just wished I would miscarry. I just wanted to be UN-pregnant.

It wasn't until I actually almost DID miscarry that I realized I actually wanted this baby. But even after the miscarriage threat had passed, my bond with my baby was tenuous at best. I still struggled with our bond even after the first year of her life.

All this, and I was a married woman. With support. (A lot of support actually.) With a job and enough finances (although it didn't feel like it at the time.)

If I felt the way I did when all the circumstances around the pregnancy were actually GOOD -- I can only imagine how you must be feeling now.

Maybe this baby wasn't planned. Maybe you were raped. Maybe you are a teen, just past a kid yourself. Maybe there's an affair involved. Maybe you have more kids than you feel you can care for. Maybe you are in a huge financial struggle. Maybe your partner is abusive.

Or maybe, you're just not ready. Not yet. Just like I was.

I don't know your circumstances, I don't know your despair, and I don't know your ending.

But I know mine.

Every fear I had about our baby was eventually laid to rest. The child I kept in my womb and gave birth to just graduated Kindergarten at the top of her class. She's a smart fireball, and I love teaching her all sorts of science, math and reading. We snuggle every night and read books together. We go to playgrounds, cook in the kitchen, and she is the sweetest little helper to my other children.

I want you to meet the baby I wanted to miscarry.

I don't tell you that I wanted to miscarry with pride. I tell it to you because you're where I was. And I know how hopeless, scared and out-of-control you might be feeling.

But I want you to know that if I had miscarried my daughter, I would likely not have had a chance to have another biological child. (I did end up losing my next 4 children in pregnancy to miscarriage and ectopic.) What I was so scared of turned out to be seriously one of the biggest blessings in my entire life.

And the next biggest blessing? Adopting a baby from a family who could not provide the safety or security she needed. 

You may not have the circumstances I did. But I urge you to reconsider granting your unique child his or her life. If you just can't parent, I understand. There is no shame in that. But know that there are lots of moms and dads who would love love love to have a baby to support, nurture and love. 

All is not lost my friend. There is hope. There is healing. And there is life to be had. Even if it doesn't feel like it.

Please reach out to me if you need some support, or someone to talk to. My email is

Thanks for meeting the baby I wanted to miscarry. And I hope with all my heart, that one day, I might meet yours.

With deep love,