Search This Blog

Loading...

Friday, March 27, 2015

Story for Gateway Church

On December 3, 2011, I took a very important test. The results of this test would affect how my life would look like for not just years, but for the whole of the rest of my life.

Praise God -- I got exactly the test result I had wanted.


We were going to have a baby.

let me back up a bit. About 4 years earlier, I had taken another pregnancy test and had the same result. But that time, I wasn't ready to be a mom. In fact, my initial response to getting pregnant was that "we were going to have a boy, and when he is 16, he's going to get a girl pregnant and we'll have a teenage pregnancy on our hands. then what are we going to do?" yes, those were my exact words. What can I say? Hormones.

Our first pregnancy was unplanned, and if I can say it, unwanted. At least by me.

All 9 months I had morning -- I mean, all day morning sickness. We almost lost the baby at 8 weeks when I hemorrhaged. I had threatened pre-term labor at 28 weeks, and again at 32. At 36 weeks, I developed a life-threatening condition. Maddy's heart rate dropped for 8 minutes. We did a quick C-section in hopes of saving both of our lives. It worked.

My unplanned baby was the best, most amazing blessing in my life.



Due to complications, we decided not to get pregnant again, but to pursue adoption. When our daughter was almost 3, we got licensed for foster care.


Just a few weeks later -- I got the positive pregnancy test. Unplanned. but this time so wanted.

You couldn't wipe that smile off my face.

Weeks later, I was in the ER with severe pain. The tech couldn't find the baby in my womb. Even still, I clung to hope. We had a scare with Maddy, and everything was fine. Surely God would swoop in and save this baby too right?

But God's not that predictable. Our daughter, Olivia, had implanted in my fallopian tubes. My tube ruptured, she died. And I was lost in grief.




I had never before understood what sorrow was until I knew my much-loved baby would not be joining our family in this world. What cute things would she have said? What would she have looked like? I knew she was in heaven, but I didn't want to wait 80 years and then die just to meet her. I longed for her to be in my arms.

My dear sister sent us an acorn to plant in her memory. But that darned acorn wouldn't grow. I had been faithfully watering it for 3 months, and nothing. I was this close to calling 1-800-FLOWERS to inform them that they sent me a dead seed to commemorate a dead daughter. I was less than impressed.

After our loss, I struggled to get pregnant again. Other people's fertility was everywhere I looked. Why had God forgotten me? Why did he choose not to give us our baby? Didn't she -- didn't we -- matter?

 
 
Our loss of Olivia sparked a horrible season of grief that resulted in 3 more miscarriages, unexplained infertility, and a hoped-for, but failed adoptive placement. It seemed that God had either forgotten about us entirely, or had purposely singled me out for on overload of loss. I didn't know which scenario was worse.

My prayers felt unanswered. They felt unheard. My hopes felt in vain. I was lost in my storm.

And then God did a miracle.

We began to babysit a foster baby named Leyla. Later, we were asked to be her adoptive parents. We couldn't have been more thrilled.

The day after she moved in, I searched my blog for where I was at in my life when she was born. I stumbled across this picture, taken March 3, 2012.

That was Leyla's Birthday.
The day that Leyla was born was the exact day our little acorn sprouted.


You see, God had not forgotten me. While my story is one of loss . . . our loss of babies, and Leyla's loss of her biological family . . . God is the God of redemption. And while I emotionally raged against Him, as I charged him with not caring, and for singling me out for pain -- He had already prepared our daughter Leyla to join our family.







 
 
 
 






 

Perhaps you too have had a storm. One so big that it made you question whether you matter edto God. Whether He cared. And whether your faith would see you through. I cannot tell you that storms do not hurt. My storm of grief, loss and infertility brought me to me knees. The loss, the pain, have scarred my soul. But God is still a God of faithfulness. There is no storm so great, no loss so severe, that he will not see you through.

Now when I question God's faithfulness, I have a very real reminder that He has not, nor ever will leave me. I hope that My story, Leyla's Story, will remind you in your storm that you are not alone.





Sunday, March 22, 2015

Forever is too far away



How quickly time passes. 

I blink, and it's been an hour, a week, a month, a year. 

When you leave, time feels as though it should stand still. Eternity bears it's weight upon my soul. Forever is too far away.

Don't get me wrong. I want forever. But I also want now. Now and tomorrow and tomorrow's tomorrow.

But I only get forever.

I need to survive your loss until forever.

The clock marches on, each tic each toc moving me both further away from your life and closer to your eternity.

Time can't move fast enough. Time can't freeze fast enough.

Life, breath, and touch replaced by memories. Vapors of what once was. Vapors of you. 

They bring comfort. But they are not enough.

You are gone. You are full, at peace, without pain, and embraced by joy.

I am here. A hole has replaced your presence in my heart. I will never again be fully who I was. Your love, your loss, they have changed me.

How quickly time passes. 

blink, and it's been an hour, a week, a month, a year. 

Why won't time stand still? 

Eternity bears it's weight upon my soul. 

Forever is too far away.

-- For the Tippetts family, as they mourn for their loving wife and mother, Kara

Friday, March 20, 2015

An open letter to the WIC office, and any other person that wants to bring up adoption around my daughter

Dear WIC lady (or anyone else that wants to talk adoption with me in front of my adopted kid),

I appreciate that you want to have a dialogue about adoption. As mother who believes that all children deserve a home, and that foster children are worthy of adopting, I appreciate the opportunities I am generally given to share our experience.

That being said . . .

My recent visit to the WIC office (well, actually all visits) have caused me to feel uncomfortable about the way our adoption is handled.

I understand that there are a series of personal questions that you must ask -- like about our income level, and our children's medical histories. And then there are questions that just don't make sense to me at all -- like why you, as a non-medical provider, would need my child's iron count -- but I let that one slide. Whatever. You need it.

But then there are the questions that I feel have really crossed the line of professionalism.

"Is your child adopted?"

Does this matter? Does it matter if she is adopted, or a foster child, or my bio child? I have already established that she is indeed mine, and I have also already given you the adoption decree that you should have on file.

What if we chose to keep Leyla's adoption a secret? What if she didn't know she was adopted, and here you are bringing it up in front of her. If I had been keeping it a secret, this is not the way I would have chosen for her to find out about it. If I wanted to mention the adoption to you, I would have told you she was adopted when you asked if she was mine. Instead, I just said, "Yes, she's mine." End of story. It doesn't matter how she came to be mine.


"Do you have an open adoption?"

Does this matter?


"Are her bio parents involved?"

Again what does this have to do with getting a check for oatmeal and cheese?

I don't talk with Leyla about her bio parents, and now that she is old enough to comprehend my words, I choose not to talk about her bio parents in front of her. She doesn't know these people. As far as she is concerned, Ryan and I are the only Mom and Dad she knows. We will bring up bio parents when she is older and is ready to ask those questions herself.

But I just have to ask you. What if she DID have memories of her bio parents? What if those were traumatic memories, and you asking how involved they were, and me having to admit, "well, they aren't involved at all by choice" brings up some trauma for her? What if it's too much for a child to handle -- having strangers ask why her bio parents have, in essence, abandoned her? Is this something that really needs to be brought up in an office visit?

"So I noticed on her growth chart that she is on the low side. Were her birth parents small?"

Could we maybe STOP talking about her birth parents?

"Does she go to preschool?"

Again, why is this pertinent? And when I answer that she went to Holly Ridge, but will start going to preschool in the fall, this is not an open invitation to ask about all her "issues." And yet it seems that by answering that she went to a developmental group, you now are expecting to be privy to all her history.

"Was she developmentally delayed?"

Yes.

"Does she still have issues now?"

Yes, she has sensory issues.


"What kind of sensory issues?"

Proprioceptive.


"Can you write that down? Tell me about that. I'm curious."

Please, tell me again why I need to be explaining to you about her sensory issues while my child is right here in the room with me. She is a person. I hate talking about her like this as though she is just a case, or some curiosity. She's a person. Can we please just get on with our appointment, and leave the personal details out?



Now if you are asking all these questions about adoption because you want to adopt yourself, I would be open to you saying, "I'm interested in adoption, and would love to hear more. Would it be OK if I contacted you at a different time to ask some questions?" Actually, in the right context, I love talking about adoption. But this does not feel like the right context to me.

And as it is, your questions are scattered in between other questions I feel I am obligated to answer...

"What medications is she on?"

"What is your income each month?"

"Does she have any allergies?"

"Is she adopted?"

"What are her sensory issues?"

"Does she do lactaid or soy milk?"

"Are her parents involved?"


See how I sort of feel obligated to answer all of the questions, because I can't tell which ones you are REQUIRED to ask, and which ones are just out of curiosity?

And then I leave your office feeling as though my child's privacy has been ripped open in front of her, and that I've been complicit in the process. I leave your office feeling like I've shared far too much in front of her than I am comfortable with.

So I kindly ask that at our next appointment, only ask me questions that are required in order for us to receive our checks. I am contacting your supervisor to request that they train the staff (no matter how nice and innocent their questions seem) to acknowledge that adoption and foster care require a certain amount of privacy and respect. That not every parent wants to talk about the details of adoption in front of their children. And that as foster parents, we must maintain confidentiality regarding some of the details of our children's cases.

And please be aware that we as parents have the right to disclose or keep confidential the details we want to about our children's histories and lives.

Thank you for wanting a conversation about adoption. But please, make sure it's an appropriate time and place to be having this discussion. And just a hint, right in front of my child is not really appropriate.



Sincerely,

The "Real" mom





Monday, March 16, 2015

Microblog Monday: Of memories gone so soon

So as of last week, I have gone an entire year without getting pregnant and having a loss. 

I reached a goal. Leading up to our date I felt good. I felt like I have come so far in a year. I feel like the break from pregnancy and the (sorta) break from grief has been immensely helpful.

And yet, on the anniversary of our loss I was in a total funk. All day.

 The funk hasn't quite left.

What if that is my very last pregnancy? Do I want end my fertility (or lack thereof) on that one bitter note? A pregnancy that seemed doomed from the start? One that lasted a measly 5 weeks of low hcg and low hope? 

My period raged the week of our anniversary. It was a physical reminder I could have done without.

I also had a different sort of loss last week.

Leyla killed my phone with water.

I had 1,000 photos and videos on that phone that are lost forever. Most of my time with Z is on that phone.
And this week (as communication with mom has picked up), the reality that our time with Z is so limited really hit hard.

He is not my son, but for all intents and purposes, he is. He comes to me with open arms and a huge grin on his face. He calls me mama. I can soothe him just by picking him up, when Ryan can't get him to calm down. We're really bonded that little one and I. 

The loss of almost all our pictures has me a little heartbroken. I was counting on those photos to remember him through the years. Remember his cute babbling, and how he crawled, and how he walks arms outstretched and palms up. The photos of cuddles, and sister time, and goofy grins. I can't seem to stop tearing up about it. 

I already miss him.

I didn't mean for this its to sound like such a downer. Truly, for the most part things are going well. I think hormones and broken phones and anniversaries just got to me a bit.

And one little word of advice if I can ... Go back up your pictures now. I promise, it is worth the little bit of time and effort

.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

A letter to the mom with the really hard kid



Hey there mama.

I just wanted to send you a short note to tell you I get it.

That crying your eyes out late at night because you feel like you were too harsh during the day. Life just escalated, emotions escalated, and you were asked 10 times too many to get that vitamin when you already said "not until dinner." 

I've been in that catch-22. You know you need to discipline. And yet your child needs correction SO MANY times during the day, that you feel like it's your fault. You feel like maybe you're overbearing. But it's not you. As you lay in bed, doubt and guilt lay over your conscious just as heavy and suffocating as the blankets you are snuggled underneath. 

I get it when you read other mommy blogs and you wish your issues were piles of dirty dishes and a floor that wouldn't stay picked up. You have the dirty dishes, you have the floor the doesn't stay picked up. But you don't have that child that is happily making the mess. You have a child that you try to survive. A child that requires more of you than you thought you had to give. The child that requires trying out every single parenting practice out there, wrangling in experts in the forms of books and professionals. Your child requires a team ... But sometimes, they have to settle for just you.

I've been there too ... Those days when you're only 1 hour in, and you've given 3 timeouts and a spanking. And you wonder how you will possibly make it through to bedtime.

I too have made that call. The one that you are beyond ashamed to make, but for everyone's sake ... You have to. "Mom, please pick up this child. I HAVE to have a break." Not a coffee break, or girl time. I mean, you need a serious chance to cool off before you do something dangerous or harmful. Yeah ... That call. Been there.


I know what it's like when everyone says, "oh, they're just like that at this age." But deep in your heart, you know this is not just "normal." Sure, they have their age approproriate stuff. But then on top of that, there'a your child's crazy defiance. Their constant fits. (I have entirely no idea what it would be like to drive to and from school without hearing a child cry the whole way there and the whole way home.) 

There are the looks of other women when your child is defiant or throwing the temper tantrum of the decade. And those strangers stare with judgement seeping from their heart. But you know inside, you're doing your best. You know that they have received discipline and correction all day long. But it's just not sinking in. And you know your child is doing their best too. (Or at least, you just really really hope so.)

"Just give them choices," the experts day. So you do. Your child chooses, and when you deliver on their choice -- they throw a fit anyway. Just because they can. Or they because they changed their mind (again and again) in the one minute it took to pick out their shoes or grab that dress.

Your child just doesn't make sense to you. If you could understand their logic, if you could reason, if you could find out why then maybe, just maybe, life would be smoother. But they are a mystery. And try as you might, you just can't figure them out. And try as they might, our kids don't seem to be able to figure out life.

I know what it's like to love a child you actually feel like hating. The one whose antics make everyone else smile, but for you, you have so little patience for it. The bone-deep weariness sometimes takes over. Sometimes it's hard to smile at the cute little face when you've spent the last 5 hours in what feels like a war. 

I know what it's like to pretend for your child's sake. To say "I love you" when you don't always feel it. To play with them when you don't want to. To choose them over and over and over again, because you have to. Every day, making the choice to be their mama, and try your darndest to be the best one you can be. Even when you feel like giving up.

I know the regret. The feeling that things should have been easier. Or better. The feelings that you just want to have a connection, to enjoy their personality. I know you want to enjoy your child. I know that I do. I want to be able to relax and let go and take this kid on a fun date and just BE and enjoying being.

Except it's not. Because this kid came wired differently, and everything (and I mean everything) becomes a game of whose will is stronger. Your child can't seem to handle it. Not yet anyway. But you live for the hope of that someday. Someday this will be easier. Someday they will need this strong will. Someday, we'll be able to enjoy each other. Someday, this season will be behind me. 

And I also know how crazy amazing the moments of connection are. It may take so long to get through to your kid. It might take them forever to just snuggle you, or return the "I love you." It make take days and days of enduring for you to feel that spark of love for a moment. That fierce kinda love that says "I will not surrender to my fears, or my mistakes, or my anger, or my frustration. But I choose you, I love you, and I'll do my very, very best."

Mama, I may not know all your life. I may not know exactly how you feel, or what it's like in your home. I may not be able to say perfectly "I TOTALLY understand."

But I can say, I'm also a mama to a really hard child. A defiant, strong-willed little one who tests my patience, my will, my authority, my love all.day.long. 

I'm deep with you in the trenches, my friend. And while it is so hard to be here, my hope for me and for you is that it will all be worth it.

That one day, the moments of love and connection will come more easily and naturally. That our patience will grow stronger and be more resilient. That we'll be some of the best parents because we will have literally "tried it all." 

That our kids will become exactly who God has created them to be. And fulfill their purposes in life.

And looking back, we know we'll are blessed because God allowed us to be a part of it.

Hang tight mama. Know, please please know, you are doing well. Together, we can keep on even through the tears and the frustration and the disappointment. 

One day, very single battle will be worth it. Even if we can't see it now.



Monday, March 9, 2015

5 things never to say to a woman whose baby has died





Tonight, I went to our local chapter of M.E.N.D -- a pregnancy loss support meeting. And you know what? People are saying the same old ignorant, hurtful things to women having a pregnancy loss as they did when I first had mine -- and probably have said since the dawn of time.

I know I can't prevent every single woman out there from having to hear these hurtful comments. But I sure can do my part to spread awareness.

So if you come across any woman who has lost a baby at ANY stage in pregnancy or following birth -- please do the universe a massive favor, and steer clear of saying any of these 5 things. (Or anything that even closely resembles them.)


#5 -- At least you were early.

Maybe you truly feel that you are doing this woman a favor to remind her that her body was unable to carry a baby past 12 weeks, or past her second trimester, or even to term.

But can I let you in on a little secret?

First, there is no "at least" with loss. None. So, umm. Stop saying that.

Second, from the moment that second line appeared, that mom had feelings about that baby. She not only had feelings, but something -- a very big something -- has changed in her life. Forever. No going back. No going back even with a loss. That baby changed everything for her. From the moment she knew it existed.

And losing that baby changed her forever too.

Life and death? It happened. So stop making it sound like it's no big deal.

And third -- sometimes an earlier loss is even HARDER to process. In part because of a lack of support due to their loss being so "early."


#4 -- I know exactly how you feel.

Actually, you don't.  Because I don't even know exactly how I feel.

One moment I think I'm OK. The next moment I'm balling my eyes out because of some silly little thing triggered my grief -- walking past the baby aisle, driving by the hospitals, eating something I last ate the day we lost the baby. And then 10 minutes later, something makes me smile. A sunset. A flower. A text from a friend.

I feel like a kaleidoscope of emotions -- always changing with each turn.

I really don't care if our losses were the same. So you had a miscarriage too? OK. Chances are, the way I felt about my baby differed from you. The way I feel about pregnancy probably differs. And the way I feel about our loss differs.

If you want to relate, if you want to empathize -- by all means do. Just don't tell me that you know exactly how I feel. Unless, you know -- you are God. (And God, if you are reading this, then please chime in.)


#3 -- You could always try again.

*sigh*

I get that if you have a flat tire on your car, it makes sense to go get another one. You lost your coat? Then go shopping for a new one. Outgrow your house? Hit up Zillow or Redfin.

But PEOPLE? People are not replaceable.

And last time I checked, a baby is a people.

So just don't. Ever.

If you ever do say this to a woman, chances are she is screaming in her head at you that she doesn't want another one -- she wants THIS ONE. And could you blame her? Chances are -- you want each of your children too.

(PS -- In saying she should try again, you are making some pretty big assumptions about her fertility. First, that she is capable of trying again. Second, that she wants to. Generally speaking, those are private topics that she should bring up with you if she wants to discuss them.)



#2 -- They are in a better place.

This is something you could probably legitimately say to someone who's had a grandparent die whose life at the end was one of excruciating pain. (Even then, maybe not the MOST supportive.)

But to a mom who has had a baby die?

Last I checked, a baby being born in this world were something to be celebrated. It is the natural order to be born, to live, and then a long long long time after a full life, to die and go to heaven. We all want babies to be born here first, before they die.

Maybe it's just selfish. But I don't want my babies in heaven. Not yet anyway. I want them here, with me, with their cute smiles, and their little piggy toes and their coos and yawns and cuteness. I want them to go through life -- the good and bad -- and fulfill a purpose. I want to meet their children and their children.

I want to live with my children before they die. I want to die first.

Maybe it's selfish. But it's true. I don't want them in a better place. I want them with me.

(PS. This is phrase is also cousin to "It's God's will." If you're curious, I'd steer clear of this one too.)



#1 -- Just be grateful for your living kids.

Can I ask a question? If your parents were in a car accident, and only your mom survived -- how would you feel about people who ignored the fact that your dad just died -- instead focused on how 'grateful' you should be feeling about your mom's survival?

I'm guessing you might feel a little invalidated -- a little miffed. I'm sure you ARE grateful your mom is alive. Maybe even more than you were before. But you just had a parent die. You also deserve to grieve.

In a pregnancy or infant loss, a family has gone through a tragedy. There were survivors. There were others who did not make it.

Moms, dads and kids -- they all deserve the right to grieve the ones that didn't make it.



In case you know have no idea what to say to someone who has lost a baby at any stage of life, I have a really easy suggestion.

A simple "I'm sorry for your loss" would suffice.

And then be available to listen, to grieve with them, and to offer any support you can by way of chocolate, food, time away, or clean dishes, or childcare. I promise a million times over, those acts of service will provide more comfort than any cliché ever could.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Pursuit of Purpose: Session 4




New to Pursuit of Purpose? 
Click here for Sessions 1 and 2.

OK, if you're like me, Session 3 was really eye-opening. I started to see how those stories that I had created based on my experiences actually started dictating every avenue in my life.

Fear over my body: Anything and everything (to me anyway) scares me. I have learned to completely distrust my body.

Belief that others won't like what they see if I open up: I apologize for opening up. I guard myself. I don't let others see my passion, I don't speak up, I make lots and lots of relationships, but don't let people in too deep. I guard myself. I try to look pretty all the time. Because somehow I feel that others won't accept a Rachel with a bad hair day or a break out.

I could go on and on. . .  But I just want you to start seeing how your stories might be impacting your own life.

And there is a reason for this. Are you ready for it? (Hint: I actually already told you why. DO you remember?)

We have a very real need in our life.

The need to be right.

And that need trumps every other need or want in our life.

Did you get that?

Our need to be right about our story trumps every other need or want.

I might want to be successful. But in my subconscious need to be RIGHT about not having whatever it takes to be successful undermines my desire for success. At the very heart of my foundation, I believe that I do not deserve success. And I will never out perform my self-portrait.

You will never out perform your self-portrait.

And so it becomes a cycle.

We have an event. We create a story. Then we subconsciously seek out experiences that will validate our story because our need to be right trumps everything else we say we want. And so it goes around and around.



OK, so the need to be right is subconsciously driving our life. Not cool right? At least, not cool if we have the wrong stories in our foundation.



Here's where it gets really awesome.

We can CHOOSE the stories that stay in our foundation.

If we find one that is not serving us, then we can EXCHANGE the story that is not serving us for one that is.




Now it's back to diagramming. I want you to draw your house again on a CLEAN SHEET OF PAPER. Draw out the columns. And on the left side, write in your experiences.


Now, on the right side, I want you to EXCHANGE your story for one that will serve you.


Here are mine:




Now it's your turn.

Create a story that is equally true, equally valid -- but SERVES you.







Once you have finished, again I want you to take some time. Listen to some music. Pray, And then decide.

Decide if you want to live your life with your first sheet of paper. Or if you want to live your life with your second set of stories that will serve you.

And don't just decide.

Physically get rid of that first sheet. Tear it up. Burn it. Get it away from you.



Now friends. Now we are ready. You are ready.

WE are choosing to get our foundation right. And we are ready to move on to finding and pursuing our purpose.

Hold on tight girls. Hold on tight. So much is ahead.


Love you all. So proud to call you friends and to be on this journey with you.

Share It