Wednesday, December 30, 2009
People have referred to my town as "Mayberry" because many of its residents stay in town to raise their families and thus know many of their neighbors for great lengths of time. Many married couples attended grade school and high school together. There is a town plumber, electrician, and pub. Our schools are fantastic. I had some of the same teachers in high school that taught my parents.
I wrote about my neighborhood fruit stand before. These are the types of things you see in my town. Several people in my general area set up skating rinks in their yards every year. There are neighborhood associations with Native American names that have been around since the 40's.
Today I am showing our firehouse's billboard. I have passed by this billboard nearly every day of my life. Sometimes it announces safety courses or when the fireman are checking car seats. It will have death announcement where the flag flies half staff. My friend from high school who was killed at the tender age of 26 and also a volunteer firefighter had his name listed on the board. The billboard tells us to remember to vote and wishes us Happy Fourth of July.
As I get older the landmarks in my community become more endearing. The firehouse sits next to one of the two popular barber shops in town. People ask do you go here or here? There really aren't any other choices. For young boys it is a right of passage to get their haircut at one of the barber shops.
I could go on and on because I am so fond of where I live. We have tree lined streets with huge oak trees. There are so many beautiful and coveted houses that the owners get letters in the mail all the time reminding them "if" they ever want to sell, give a call. I am so glad my grandfather and grandmother decided to move up here from Queens after WWII. I am thankful that my dad and mom met and both wanted to raise their families where they grew up. I love the history. My appreciation for tradition and sentimentality are things I want to teach my son. He may move far away or he may stay close to his roots. Either way I plan on being here for a long time.
Check out the rest of Show and Tell.
Monday, December 28, 2009
I am glad that Mel at Stirrup-Queens asked us to share our Resolution Posts because I have been thinking about something very important. Trying to formulate the post, I just could not come up with a good title. For the first time in a long time I am categorizing the year of 2010 for change in a couple of different ways. Here is one example:
I had a bit of a revelation during December. After visiting with my RE, the thought occurred to me that our infertility journey may have been completely blown out of proportion.(Note- this RE is our second doctor after a few years at a previous practice.) Yes, I seem to have Polystic Ovarian Syndrome. Yes, we have male factor infertility. Therefore, we would have difficulty conceiving on our own. Whether time heals all wounds or not I am not sure. However time does provide clairvoyance. It has been 3 years since I ended my TTC journey through medical intervention. I am not sure exactly when but at some point it became clear that my cycles were rather regular and I am ovulating. Five years ago I was under the impression that I may only ovulate 1-2 times a year. Trying to mastermind that would be worse than trying to win big at the casino. Things seemed pretty dismal. Our "severe MFI" has now turned into moderate to severe. The numbers have varied and are not the best but not the worst either. We did discover that I have ANA and ANC anti-bodies which can now be remedied somewhat.
My point is that I have talked to many, many people in the past year. I have heard different stories of how they ended up in an RE's office. This has forced me to look back on our experience as rushed and done without enough research. At times I get angry because it is possible that if we had taken some time to try and conceive on our own, see what my cycles would be like without drugs, maybe learn about lifestyle changes and fertility in general, we would never have made it to the fertility clinic. I try not to think about what could have happened because there is no changing the past. Every event led us to being parents of our beautiful son. The "What if's" are not worth muddling over. But, they can help us avoid making the same mistake- selling our bodies short.
My Resolution for 2010 is to try and conceive. You read that right.
My cycles are pretty regular. Why can't I buy some OPK's and try to figure out my body and when I ovulate during my cycle? Why can't I make some lifestyle changes such as cutting out caffeine, alcohol, and exercising more to try and make my body more healthy in preparation for getting pregnant? Our last IVF slammed the door of conception in our face. What I realize now is that I allowed that door to close and stay closed. I really believed that my body was broken to the point that I would never get or stay pregnant. I do not feel that way anymore.
I have put a lot of thought into going down this road again; however, I do not feel like I am setting myself up for failure. Us infertiles know what failure feels like. We play the hope lottery all the time. I look at this as something I have to do so that I do not wonder for the rest of my life if we could have done more on our own to have a baby. Do we really need all the drugs and procedures? We do not know because we never officially tried on our own. Some people get pregnant with absolutely no effort. Most women have to figure out when they are most fertile. We will have to do that and then some. For instance, I will have to take baby Aspirin for the anti-bodies, we will have to make sure we boost our fertility with diet and exercise, we will have to be extremely aware of a pregnancy in order to try and sustain a pregnancy that may occur. I can come to terms that staying pregnant will be difficult unless we take the necessary measures. But every woman has to worry about miscarriage. I am no different. I am just a bit jaded.
We shall see what the future holds, but I feel good about this realization. I understand that technically we are infertile. Technically our chances of conception are that much lower than 90% of the population. Screw the statistics and my negative frame of mind. After six years I have come out of the fog of impossibility. I am taking control of what I have left of child bearing years and will give it my full attention. I am taking a stab at thinking of myself like most women- TTC the old fashioned way. Conceiving in private and on our own terms. Something in my heart is telling me this is what we need to do. This is the next step in this extremely difficult and mind-opening journey. It is a step toward closure on our baby making abilities. I won't be left wondering because we will have done everything we needed to do so that we can move on from this part of building our family.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
It felt like such a relief to load a tree in our car after looking for thirty seconds and drive the .4 miles to our house. We looked, purchased and had it up and pretty much assembled within one hour. That felt good. Oh, tree farm I do love you and your tractor rides and cute little shop- not sure if I will be returning until my children can cut the tree down for me though.
I usually put a lot of effort into decorating my mantel and displaying my Christmas cards. Finally about 3 days ago I snipped some holly from my parents house and got the candles out, bought a wreathe (now only $9) to hang above the mantel, and things look good.
I purchased outdoor lights about 7 weeks ago. Mind you I had an electrician install an outside outlet in August so I could put up lights this year. The whole exterior light decoration thing lacking at my house has been bugging the crap out of me. My husband doesn't do things for Christmas decor so I knew it was up to me. I passed those unopened boxes for 4 weeks. Today in 22 degree, blue sky but freezing cold weather I put up the lights and am damn glad.
My wrapping is complete, tomorrow is a day for making my favorite cut-out cookies, having Christmas dinner with very close friends, and super excited to see Min man get crazy for Christmas. It took me awhile but I am back, Christmas old friend. Thing is that since I started later this year, I won't want to launch my Christmas tree out the front door 2 days after Christmas because I am sick of looking at it. I will enjoy its presence (gasp) maybe even after January 1. My red lights outside may just stay lit until Valentines Day.
This Christmas procrastination idea might just make my holiday loving self love the holidays even more. Hand me my 25th day of December mimosa and cinnamon bun. I am ready!
Monday, December 21, 2009
Take a look around. I am an adoptive mom to a beautiful and hilarious 2 year old, freelance writer, and founder of the non-profit, Parenthood for Me.org.
Here are 25 random facts about me in two minutes. If you like what you hear, stick around.
Check out PFM Best Post list on the right side bar.
1. My favorite holiday is Christmas.
2. My least favorite holiday/event is New Years Eve.
3. I have made some pretty stupid mistakes when it comes to cooking and preparing food.
4. I am a REALTOR and manager of my father's business, established 1971.
5. I lived in Siena, Italy and Granada, Spain for a semester each.
6. My grandparents moved away from our hometown and I was able to visit Prescott, AZ and Marco Island, FL for many fun summer vacations.
7. I just started wearing make-up daily about a year ago.
8. I am very sappy and sentimental. It does not take much for me to cry although I do try to hide it.
9. I have a dry sense of humor. I actually think I am pretty funny, a quality that I have always admired in other people. One-liners are my favorite part of comedy.
10. I have 2 best friends from grade school.
11. My parents have been sweethearts since they were 16.
12. I love Italian food and prefer meals that are meatless.
13. I am of Irish and German decent.
14. In my CD player: Atonement Soundtrack, Christmas tunes mix, new Phish, favorite mix with Bruce Springsteen, Ray Charles, and BNL to name a few
15. Favorite line from movie Christmas Vacation: "Are you surprised, Clark?" asks Cousin Eddie.
"Eddie, I wouldn't be more surprised if I woke up tomorrow with my head sewn to the carpet."
16. Favorite movies: Atonement, P.S. I Love You, The Departed, The Bourne series and others.
17. Mentors in my life- my mother and father. Both very honorable and successful people and parents.
18. I have one older brother.
19. My birthday is in February.
20. I took piano lessons for 10 years and was a dancer for 5, becoming a pointe ballet dancer after many dreams as a little girl.
21. I taught myself sign language from a book at age 3.
22. I am generally a tidy person and despise clutter. This is something I get from my mother. I have been known to throw away things that got me into big trouble with certain individuals.
23. I used to be painfully shy.
24.I am smart but a horrible student. I procrastinate way too much and am a horrible at multiple choice tests.
25. I believe that we all have control over our own destiny. Life is what you make of it.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
I love vintage ornaments.
I display them different ways. This milk glass bowl was my grandmother's.
I love Len.ox. My Christmas collection started with a beautiful hand painted plate of Santa's sleigh. This Santa was a present last year.
Hubby started getting me an ornament every year. I have the "new house" "the wedding" a train, gingerbread man.
Finally 3 Christmas' ago I received the"baby's 1st Christmas"
These shelves usually have pottery and pictures on them. I love looking at something different.
Monday, December 14, 2009
Saturday, December 12, 2009
I had a set back a couple of weeks ago with the smothering news of 3 pregnancies in one day. I was taken aback and all of my sad and angry emotions bubbled to the surface without warning. I could not control the tears- I felt the mack truck hit my heart. I cannot make babies, and so many others can. I could not shake off this news. I have been so much better with taking news of pregnancy in stride. But, this day proved that I have a long way to go before I am at peace with my infertility.
I read about someone who found out she was pregnant after a long struggle, and people were telling her she needed to move on from the past-she is pregnant now. However, this woman says she will never feel the same; infertility has changed her forever. I am always aware that I am an adoptive mom. No one else is reminding me of that except myself. Ultimately I am very proud to be an adoptive mom. I am proud of how my family was created. But, I am acutely aware of how long I desired to be a mom.
If the first pregnancy test I took five and a half years ago came back positive, my life would be so completely different. I would be 30 with at least 2 small children. I would probably be living in a different house, and I know I would not be writing. My love for writing began when I was just a small child. Through the struggle of infertility I have rekindled my passion for writing. Now posting my thoughts and emotions have become part of my everyday life. I have become a freelance writer. I see great things on the horizon for my writing career, and I am extremely fulfilled because I am able to write and express myself. My blogging has also introduced me to so many interesting and wonderful people. I have laughed, cried, and learned so much over the past year.
I have been a business person for quite a while but starting the non-profit has helped me to find my niche. There are so many things I love about running a business- non-profit and for profit. The idea that I can be part of something that will hopefully help many people is thrilling. I am not doing this alone by any means. It was my idea, but I have so many wonderful people volunteering their time because they believe in our mission statement. They believe that everyone is entitled to parenthood.
Right now I have my hands full with my career, home life and being a mom to one very busy two year old. I would not be physically able to make Parenthood for Me successful if I had more children. This is what I mean by saying I can see how things are supposed to work out. The story is not written by any means. Sometimes I fear the unknown. What else am I to face in my lifetime that is devastating and completely unfounded? This is why I try not to take things for granted. Life can change in an instant.
Infertility made me grow up faster. Turning 30 made me realize that life is a huge challenge. There are so many rewards coupled with difficult situations and decisions to make. Like many I have goals for my life in 5 years, 10 years, etc. But, the perpetual planner in me has been left somewhat jaded. We can plan all we want, but that does not mean our plans will come to be. Or if they are realized, they may take on a completely different meaning or happen in an unexpected way. I can live with that too.
Wow. This is big for me. Learning that planning my entire life is not always best and being enlightened, even if it just a little bit, that after all that infertility has put me through, my life is actually better because of it. I guess that is all we can ask for in life. When there are tough times, days and weeks that make you want to hide from humanity, keep the faith. Somehow if we own our challenges and stay strong, we will make it through.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
I have not been paid to endorse this product; I am simply spreading Christmas cheer. The Elf is an ingenious idea.
There is a story of a little elf that comes down from the North Pole to stay in your home in order to help Santa watch over the children. Every day he inexplicably moves to a different location in the house to let everyone know he is magical and is always watching.
Another great part of the game is that the child is allowed to name their Elf friend. Ours was named after a dear friend; they were honored.
We have explained to Elf that it is probably best that he keeps his jet setting to one room as Min man is only 2, and we would be waiting forever for him to spot the Elf.
It is quite a joy to come downstairs early in the morning and watch our little boy's face light up as we ask, "Where is he?"
Honestly, Min man doesn't really get just how important Elf's job is. Next year Mommy and Daddy are looking forward to Elf helping us out when someone decides to throw a fit or jump on the couch ;)
Check out the rest of Show and Tell.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
What I love is that his pronunciation is still incorrect, making his words all the more cute.
The other day we got our Christmas tree aka Cranberry Tree. I tried to correct him, but he is satisfied with Cranberry Tree.
My other fave, which he intermittently says correctly now (sigh) is bargage truck.
"Look, Mom. Bargage." When he was with his caretaker, MommyL one day at the grocery store, she was trying to correct him by enunciating the sounds. He ended up yelling Gar-Bitch Truck very loudly in the store. This is like the time he used to say f*ck for truck and would yell in the parking lot,"Look! A f*uck." MommyL puts up with a lot. I love her.
This brings me to a latest zinger. Expression and communicating are keys developmental milestones at 2 and 3. We are happy Min man is doing well. Sometimes too well if you ask me.
At 6 o'clock Mommy and Daddy turn off Min TV and watch the news. The other night this did not going over too well. He marched right up to the TV cable box, clicked the button off (b/c he does not know how to use the remote), turned around and said,"NO show. I don't like a mommy-daddy show."
We were hiding our laughter behind pillows and by turning our head. It just completely surprised us. Classically funny.
There has been an occasional slip up with a swear word around here. I won't say who is at most fault for this in our household. The funny thing is that Min man knows how to use the words in context. He will go weeks without saying a bad word, and then out of the blue he will will recognize a situation where it might come in handy. This is usually after he has been told he is doing something wrong. Kids shouldn't swear, but I cannot at least say he knows how to fire them off.
The other endearing thing about my little chatter box is he has adapted a very cute way of speaking which reminds me of someone who speaks English as a second language.
This usually comes out in his whiny voice when he is unhappy or cranky about something.
"I don't like a no car ride (lots of emphasis on the last word)."
" I don't like a no change diaper." (oh, I love it)
"I don't like a no nap."
Ah, the ramblings and rants of an almost 3 year old. He is really learning to express himself; that is for sure.
On the flip side, he is extremely loving and happy. The second we walk in the door, "Hi, Dad." All smiles.
"Mom, what you doing here?" When I'm brushing my teeth.
I have recorded many of the things he says on a regular basis that melt my heart. I never want to forget how cute his little voice sounds.
When he is a defiant teen-ager who never wants to spend any time with me, I can look back and remember that he really does love me.
I will never forget how he shoves his little body in the chair next to me, puts his arm around me and says,"C'mon dear."
Sunday, December 6, 2009
January and February were filled with numb despair.
The one good thing was that my broken body could repair itself. My lower back was numb for nearly a year. The 4 years of shots had done some real damage. I wondered if the feeling would ever return, in my lower back and my heart.
The decision to pursue adoption was exciting and scary. It took us many, many months to actually move forward and make a commitment to an agency. We made the decision and let it sink in. We were overwhelmed with an entire new set of decisions about facing our fears of making the right choice on a country, agency, and financing.
That summer I did one last IUI. Don't know why really. I guess it was a last ditch effort, a way to prove to myself that my body really is broken and the negative IVF wasn't another piece of bad luck.
I have to take Lovenox shots because of anti nuclear antibodies. They hurt, sting, and are very uncomfortable. Yet again timing was not on my side, and I was on my 2ww during a great friend's wedding. I remember sneaking away to take my shot and seeing a bruise on my abdomen the size of a football- a purple football. I had bruising before, but this was ridiculous. My entire abdomen was a blood filled mess. In a sense I felt like it was a lesson.
We had said we were done with the failed IVF, and I had to go and try one more time. It is so hard to say there will never be ONE more try.
The negative pregnancy test that followed a week after the wedding was not a surprise, and it did not leave me with heaving sobs or a bigger sense of loss. It was just like hearing everyday news- the bills are paid, put the garbage out, the car needs to go to the shop, your final IUI did not work. Everyday news. 4 1/2 years will do that to you.
As many of you know our experience with adoption breathed new life into our beings and relationship. The entire proces from beginning to end was remarkable and magical. This time 2 years ago was extremely exciting as pictures of our baby boy were posted every where- house, office, family's refrigerators. It was our first Christmas to receive gifts for OUR baby.
Min Man has been home for a year and a half, and here we are experiencing our second Christmas with him home. Every day is a new adventure. Over Thanksgiving we got to see Min Man take care of his little cousin- a boy who is 15 months old. It was wonderful to see him in the big brother role. He is so loving and affectionate. Even though there was some tugging and pulling of his toys in an attempt to not share, he came around quickly and played very well with this little boy visitor.
How will Min Man become a big brother? I believe wholeheartedly it will happen. And from all that I have learned in the past five years, I feel at peace knowing that there are great things for my future.
If I had the money, I would do IVF again. If I had the money.
We have spent $50,000 to have a family. It is upsurd. But, I am mentally and physically ready to try it one more time. We did IVF 3 times but b/c of undiagnosed conditions, only really had a fighting chance on the last cycle.
I suppose that we could figure something out if we decided to go ahead with IVF. But, after adopting the game has changed. One IVF cycle is nearly half the cost of a second adoption. How can I justify paying $9000 for a chance? A chance that has not proven to work out well for us by any means.
This is why I hate infertility. I mean, I hate a lot of things about infertility, but the money obstacles are what really make me bitter. Lack of money is why I might not be able to get pregnant? Money is why I may not be able to adopt again? I want to fill my house full of children, but I can't. I do not have enough money!
Alas, this is something I have accepted. What choice do I have? The decisions we make right now regarding spending money on infertility or adoption could affect our ability to pay for college for our children. We must be conservative about the size and value of our home. We may have loan payments for our babies for many years to come. This is our truth.
I guess IVF is a possbility. The biggest question I have is whether I want to open up my heart again. I know I will recover if it does not work. But, will I sorely regret having spent the money? That will be what makes me the most angry- that I got sucked into ART again and not only will have subjected my body to the abuse, but my bank account, and most of all my heart.
This is kind of a rambling post, which is unlike me, but this reveals how torn I am. What a difficult decision. Whatever we decide, we will keep it to ourselves. The one thing I am beyond is sharing any procedures with others. I simply cannot put my heart on the line in front of everyone anymore when it comes to this.
I will put my heart on the line for others by telling my story of past infertility treatments, current thoughts on dealing with the chronic condition of infertility, the wisdom I have gained through experience, and the moments I cherish being a mother.
But, any chance of pregnancy for me and any decision made to pursue pregnancy with an RE will remain private. I will rejoice in private or I will mourn in private, and find a way to move on again.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
I usually start Christmas shopping in September. I look for deals on items and make an excel spreadsheet to track what I have bought for whom. This allows me to at least try not to go overboard. This year I am being the most conservative ever when it comes to spending money. And, I am especially going for quality not quantity. I have a hard time buying one really nice item for someone.
Remember that Parenthood for Me offers some great items to purchase for gifts, and the net proceeds of your purchase go toward the endowment. Click here.
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Wednesday, December 2, 2009
The infamous Willow Series. I am not a big collector of things, but I wanted one to have for myself. I bought this for someone else's baby shower but decided to stow it away at the last second.
This is from a Gallery in one of my favorite places, Key West. My MIL bought it for my birthday when she asked me what I would like. It reads at the bottom, "Someone to Watch Over Me."
I love antiquing. My mother and I found these in Ontario, Canada. I asked her to give them to me when we were ready to have our baby. She wrapped them up for Christmas the year we were waiting for Min Man to come home.
Monday, November 30, 2009
Thursday, November 26, 2009
I imagined my husband doting on me, getting out of some house work, and having my mom take me out shopping to buy newborn outfits and booties. We would put the sonogram picture on the fridge and get one of those little kits for imprinting the newborn's hands and feet.
As I was around more and more pregnant women, unable to get pregnant myself, these images of attention on the mommy-to-be, the coddling became real. I have no idea if pregnant women really like the spotlight they're under for 10 months, but when you cannot have it, it looks quite appealing.
During the really tough years I just could not force myself to ask a pregnant woman questions about her pregnancy- names, nursery decor, her feelings on being pregnant. I could not stick around for the answers because a lump would form in my throat as soon as I sucked myself into the conversation. I may have seemed cold to some people. To this day I have a hard time holding newborns and young babies. First it does not come naturally to me, but it is also painful to see the brilliance of their being. Their very first days and weeks in this life are miraculous and I am left to wonder what that must feel like as a parent.
As the notion of pregnancy for me faded into a fuzzy image, unreal and unattainable, one of the hardest things was the fact that I would never feel special the way an expectant mother through pregnancy feels. This is before we decided to adopt. This is before I learned the joys of expectancy through adoption.
I dreamed of the day we would surprise everyone with the news of our long awaited pregnancy. I envisioned screeches of joy and being enveloped in suffocating hugs. I saw little wrapped boxes ending up on our doorstep as news of the pregnancy we had waited so long for reached friends and family.
After making the decision to halt medical intervention to conceive all of these dreams piled on top of one another and pushed me into a black hole. The hope I would muster up before each procedure, after each surgery, and each negative pregnancy test ended up deflating like a vacuum sucking the air out of balloon. I had no energy to keep refilling those balloons only to continue to watch them float away.
Infertility levelled the playing field between husband and wife. We were in this pregnancy thing together. After we decided to adopt the steps we needed to take had to be done together. There were no ultrasounds or watching my belly grow, making sure I did not lift heavy things. We signed papers, filled out forms, and figured out financing. My body did not hold any secrets that my husband could not experience. I couldn't feel the first kick and call him at work.
But I was able to call him when I received the phone call we would be having a boy. We cried over together finally feeling like our dreams would be fulfilled.
Waiting for our son to come off the plane to be together as a family, we stood side by side taking in all the sounds and sights of the bussling airport. Equally we were 2 people ready to enter the realm of parenthood, and even though we were probably thinking different thoughts and feeling different emotions, I am positive we felt extremely happy, a little nervous and love- lots of love.
Experiencing infertility and then adoption forced us to investigate parenthood with a magnifying glass. We each had to deal with big questions about becoming a parent. We had to come to terms with our personal challenges and ultimately come together on those thoughts and feelings.
Waiting for our son to come home allowed my husband and I to feel special together and equally. Together we planned for our new life as parents to a beautiful little boy. We did receive those little boxes and bags with tokens of love inside for us and our son. What I had been imagining all those years may not have looked exactly the same, but the gifts we received through adoption were and are more than I could have ever dreamed.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Here are 25 random facts about me in two minutes. If you like what you hear, stick around:
1. I love to drive. We still have a car that is stick shift.
2. My dream vacation right now is to visit Ireland.
3. I am a novice sewer and make aprons, curtains, and pillows
4. I got married at a winery.
5. I speak Italian and Spanish.
6. I have two beautiful nieces.
7. I love bagels and cream cheese.
8. I am very sappy and cry a lot.
9. I laugh a lot at myself. I also think stupid things are very funny. ie: on FB there is page where you can become a fan of Cousin Eddie from Christmas Vacation. I LMAO at his page- over 25,000 fans!
10. I love visiting Bed and Breakfasts'
11. I have family from Canada and Japan.
12. My husband and I will be celebrating our 10th Christmas together.
13. I love music- all kinds from hip hop to classical
14. Spring and Fall are my favorites seasons
15. I have dark brown hair and green eyes, 5'3" (I will leave my weight out:)
16. I met my husband in a bar through a mutual friend
17. I like to think of names for future children that are unique but not weird or over the top.
18. My favorite part of Christmas is the music, lights and smells.
19. My favorite childhood movie is Anne of Green Gables. My favorite books are Nancy Drew.
20. Now I read a lot of memoirs
21. I try not to worry about things I have no control over.
22. I love that my husband has a big heart.
23. My house is a 1922 farmhouse. I am an old house lover.
24. I am very close with my family.
25. I enjoy doing laundry but not putting it away.
Friday, November 20, 2009
We are approaching my absolute favorite time of the year; I was able to go out and do a little shopping this afternoon. I am definitely spending more wisely and trying to stick to a budget.
Min Man is still young enough that we can get by with only a few gifts and let the grandparents spoil him. But, I cannot wait for this holiday season because he will be even more excited about Santa and all the holiday adventures.
I absolutely love giving gifts. It is one of faults, actually. I probably spend too much money and too much time on it, but I love making someone feel special. I have no problem making a shadowbox for someone of their favorite pin or photo. I make photo ornaments that can be displayed all year long. I don't know if the recipients love them, but I do.
When it comes to children's gifts, I try very hard to buy something unconventional- whether it be educational, a craft they can make, or a unique toy you cannot find at the big names stores. I do a lot of research on where to buy gifts and have a lot of fun finding unique items.
As we approach Thanksgiving I cannot help but reflect on all of the wonderful things that have happpened to me this year. I am going to try and post about things I am grateful for during the next week. In a time where our world is in crisis, our country in recession, fear of the flu epidemic, there is so much to be grateful for. In fact, if we do not focus on the good things, we wil be overtaken by the bad.
1) Making wonderful friends
2) Writing and feeling fulfilled by my lifelong hobby and dream
3) My family
4) My health
What are you grateful for?
Monday, November 16, 2009
After he squished next to me in my chair, he put his arm around me and said, "C'mon, dear."
I am in awe of this amazingly cute little boy whose is growing up faster than I can handle.
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Wednesday, November 11, 2009
This post is the beginning for me. A Pinker Shade of Pale is the middle. Unfortunately, I have many other installments. These chronicles are my Back-Dated Syllabus.
My stories are not just of the heartache of failed procedures but what I feel is a severe lack of good health care that led to an anger I have never felt in my life. My inability to conceive stamped a number on my forehead and any chance of personal care simply was not available in a place I was referred to by my entrusted doctor.
I remember running up to my mother's office at my childhood home, a barely 26 year old newlywed, pointing to my abdomen.
"Mom, there might be a baby in there." All smiles. She was beaming too as we lingered in the excitement. My mom's baby might be having a baby.
My period was late but a blood test confirmed that I was not pregnant. My GYN gave me meds to induce my period.
Another month went by and my period did not come. I bought a home pregnancy test- negative. There were tears in my eyes then. Over five years later I look back at that young woman and wish I could have prepared her for the devastating struggle that lay ahead.
"Oh, honey you can cry now, but prepare yourself for buckets of salty tears. Thousand of used tissues, weeks of crying yourself to sleep. Be strong. This is only the beginning."
Again I took a blood test that came back negative. My doctor called me in for a visit.
"You may not be ovulating. You could have Poly cystic Ovarian Syndrome, but you do not seem to have any of the side effects."
"What are they?" I asked. As she listed them off, I nodded in agreement. Oily skin- check. Acne- check. "Extra" facial hair- check. My symptoms were minimal compared to others but they were there- no refuting them.
"Well, you may need to take a drug to help you ovulate in order to conceive. I may need to refer you to a fertility specialist for this, but you will be fine. You are so young."
Upon leaving her office I was confused and nervous. Driving home with this new terminology in my head and the thought that I needed help to get pregnant was quite disturbing. Shit, I was used to taking meds for depression. Why wouldn't I need more help in my life? There sprouted the seed of bitterness that would eventually explode into an uncontrollable, weed and grub infested garden of shame, anger, sadness, and disappointment.
The doctor said there were a few things that should be done right away- further testing.
She mentioned a "dye test" which is of coarse, the HSG or hysterosalpingogram.
"We should check to make sure your tubes are not blocked before moivng onto Chlo.mid or any other drug to help you ovulate. We will set it up for 3 weeks from now."
The check-up appointment before the HSG procedure was done by another doctor covering for my GYN. Lost in translation were good, clear instructions on what was going to occur during the exam. I was told the date and where to be and that was it.
I remember thinking it was weird that I was to meet my doctor at the hospital instead of her office. At that time I had no experience being in a hospital for any sort of procedure. I was the person that passed out when giving blood.
After checking in with the secretary, I was informed to go to the locker room, take off all my clothes and put on a hospital gown and wait in a separate area for the doctor to come and get me. I sat on a cold plastic chair, the paper thin gown barely covering by backside and legs; a few people came in and out of the room. I waited for about 25 minutes, and with the passing of every minute I became all the more nervous. My stomach began to turn and I felt sweaty. The discomfort of being practically naked in a stark, freezing room all alone, and the fear of the unknown made me want to leave.
My doctor popped her head in the waiting room and brought me to a room with an x-ray machine and a bed with the dreaded stirrups.
"Did you take any ibuprofen before coming here?"
"No. No one told me I should."
"Oh, I'm sorry. Let me see if I can get you some."
Turns out she was not allowed to give me anything because there was no prescription for the drugs. She went on to explain that there would be some cramping and pressure. Being naive and equating the feeling to a pap smear, I thought I knew what pain to expect, and so we continued on with the test.
A nurse came in the room to help with the procedure. She became the one holding my hands as I screamed in pain. I had never felt pain like that before. My body was writhing in agony and the first x-ray did not work. The doctor told me to lay on my side to get a better picture and the tears were pouring out of my eyes. The screams of pain came from deep inside; I could not have controlled it if I tried. I was squeezing the nurses hand and she was rubbing my forehead saying it will be over soon.
Finally the pain ceased. I lay there with bloodshot eyes, no energy, a shell of the person who walked in the room 15 minutes prior.
I left the room, knees shaking and slowly walked to the locker room to dress myself. I was in a daze. I drove home alone. I cried all the way back to work.
After an hour I felt somewhat normal. It was over. The results came in that everything was fine with my tubes. This led me to believe that things were going to be okay. This was to be the only "good news" I would receive during four years of ART.
At this point my GYN shipped me off to the fertility clinic. Explaining that she would see me when I got pregnant, I believed her.
She would never see me again.
She would only hear from me again through a carefully composed letter. One I hoped she would read over and over and over.
Monday, November 9, 2009
On Friday afternoon I went to the mailbox like I do everyday and saw a long awaited return address- the IRS. This is not usually a welcome return address but in this case it was news of our 501 c(3) tax exempt status. I felt like a teen-ager opening the college acceptance letters. The envelope could have said they needed us to ammend the application which would hold us up even further.
When I saw the words, 'I am pleased to inform you...'I felt so happy and relieved. The legitimacy of this document and status will allow Parenthood for Me and its Directors to live out so many of the wonderful ideas swirling around this past year to make this charity a huge success. We cannot wait to help change people's lives.
This brings me to a favor.
We are now planning our Fundraising Gala for late spring. I need help coming up with a name for the event. If you have any ideas, I would love to hear them.
RESOLVE does the Night of Hope every year. The name should offer insight to our cause. Our mission statement is to provide financial and emotional support to those building families through adoption or medical intervention.
Our slogan is: Help make a difference. Help to build a family.
Parenthood for Me also had its first annual Bowling Fundraiser yesterday. I have found it to be quite nerve wracking to put together fundraisers especially in a tough economy. But we had 70 people come out and bowl to support National Adoption Month and the chance to help build families.
It was so much fun and a great success. Here are some pictures from the day.
My bloggy friend Alicia who happens to live in the same city.
I just have to add that a few minutes ago Min Man walked into the living room and whispered to Daddy that he wanted to give Lucy a treat. He called her, she came, she sat, he shook her paw, and my first baby and second baby are closer and closer to becoming real companions. I actually cried at this.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
"I have consulted with a colleague and we can only conclude that the embryo is in the tube. We need to terminate "it" right away. Right now. You can get a second opinion if you like."
The only time I may ever see a second pink line on a home pregnancy test, even if it was just a pinker shade of pale, I wasn't given the chance to believe it was really a pregnancy at all. The nurse called with the results of our second IVF to report my HCG level . It was very low and went on to advise us what it was supposed to be at this stage of a pregnancy. She stated that "it" would most likely end up as an early term miscarriage. I forget the technical terms. The phone call terminated on the most negative note possible and with little to no emotion of the side of the health care provider.
I threw my phone at the wall. 2 1/2 years of non-stop doctors, drugs, hospitals, stripping off my clothes, exposing myself, feeling my strength whither away. No hope. No solace.
Every 2 days I went to give blood. For 2 weeks my betas doubled. The news from the nurses was mixed. They did not want to give any false hope because they had expected "it" to miscarry by now.
Trying to get any information out of them was a crash course in interrogation.
"I have to ask the doctor." No, you are just incompetent and unsure of yourself.
"Get me the goddamn doctor then."
"I will have to call you back."
The next day I would get an answer to my question, and the next day I already had a new one to ask.
After a week I commented to my doctor," No one has said that I am pregnant. Well, am I?"
"Yes. You are pregnant."
The "but" lingered in the air; he did not say anything further. I just wanted to hear those words even if they were to soothe my nerves and my heart. I deserved to hear them. A fact is a fact. I did not care about the possibilities.
I went and bought "the pregnancy book" You know the one. I knew, knew that it was not going to end happily, but I could not restrain myself from going out one Wednesday evening to purchase the book that has sat on so many bedside tables. I drove home with the shiny familiar cover laying on the seat next to me believing we would have our chance. The low beta did not mean the end but a beginning.
I remember weeding my front garden that week saying to myself, "I'm pregnant." There was no smile on my lips,though. The contingency pressed on my shoulders and dug into my nerves. More waiting ensued. Again I had not received good news but in-between news that held more doubt than anything. Was this pregnancy going to surpass the odds or was it going to end?
In my second two-week-wait until we would have an ultrasound I attended a wedding. I could not drink. This was me going through the motions of being pregnant. The side step and curtsy I had been waiting to dance. The I cannot drink, eat certain foods, wear my favorite jeans or go skydiving dance. The swing step of expectancy.
I had the bartender make me fake vodka tonics-lime, swizzle stick and all. I sipped the glass and thought about my baby- our cells surely dividing. Driving home that night as the designated driver I had longed to be I rolled down the window and smelled the summer night air. DH and I held hands.
Two days later I lay on the table waiting for our "it" ultrasound. The most important one we would ever have. I did not look at the monitor but instead turned my head to look at my husband. My eyes were clouded and my heart hung in the balance.
"I do not see anything in your uterus. It is probably ectopic. Please get dressed and meet me in my office."
Numb. There may have been tears, can't remember. We were directed to another room and waited an excruciating amount of time for the nurse to come in with her vial, the concoction that would abort my wrongly implanted embryo. After rolling down my pants far enough for the shot, smelling the alcohol swab, and feeling the long, thick needle splinter my skin, I knew the bottom was at my tip toes. The bottom of my sanity and my ability to be hopeful that next time things could work out. I walked down the hall after the shot, through the dark door, past the glass encased waiting room, down the long hall to the elevator and fell to my knees.
For the next 7 weeks I had to give blood every 3 days to check that my HCG level was dropping to monitor that the embryo was shrinking and I would not be in danger of infection or bursting my fallopian tube which can be very dangerous. I had been 4 weeks pregnant when we found out it was ectopic.
I was rushed to the hospital with severe pain on my right side. My mother drove me and she called my husband. As I lay on a bed I just looked at my mother with tears falling and said," How has this happened to me? How did I become a patient in a hospital for over 2 years?" I did not lose my tube that day. It was one good thing.
After nearly six weeks of blood draws the nurse told me I had to come in for another shot to make sure the pregnancy was terminated. I released a body of anger so extreme I did not recognize myself. After refusing to subject myself to anymore needles and the smell of that soul smashing institution my mother spoke to the doctor and explained that I must go. If I wanted to ensure my health, I needed to go back there- one last time.
I don't remember returning for the second shot. I just know I never saw that place again.
We told some people that we "lost" the baby. Truth is we never really had it. What we really lost was the last of our innocence. Pregnancy, parenthood for that matter, faded like my mother's dining room chandelier on its dimmer. The candle in the room was still burning but the artificial light was dispelled.
The cutest dalmation I have ever seen! Good thing Cruella DaVille wasn't around.
Also if you have a minute, I ask you to vote for my blog at Divine Caroline- Body and Soul. I need around 160 votes to even be in the running. Contest ends Dec. 4. Our non profit could win up to $500 for the endowment. You have to sign in to cast a vote.
Here is the link: Divine Caroline- Love This Site Award
Check out the rest of Show and Tell
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
No Hands But Ours was the vision of a mother of 9, 4 (and one on the way) from China with special needs, whose passion continues to be finding homes for the children left behind. Stefanie saw the need for a site that would provide education, resources, and encouragement for families considering SN adoption, as well as advocacy for children who still wait for their families.
Collaborating in this effort are 3 additional women, all contributing their gifts and talents to maximize the reach and impact of this site.
"Mommy, what do you want to be when you grow up?", my 5 year old daughter queried. Without even thinking I replied, "I am what I always wanted to be... a mom."
I've wanted to be a mom for as long as I can remember. Oh, I went through short stints of wanting to "be" something else, but I always came back to one dream: motherhood. And good thing for me, because I've spent the last 20 years doing just that.
After having four biological children, my husband and I *thought* our family was complete. But God had another, very different, plan for us: adoption. In 2005 we traveled to China for our fifth, and presumably our last, child. Isabelle came to us at 11 months through China's Waiting Child program. She was considered a 'waiting' child or a 'special needs' child because of her medical condition, a minor heart defect. Shortly after bringing her home, her heart issue was corrected. She has done so well she's been released as a cardiac patient, and has no limitations whatsoever. And she manages to blow our collective minds on a regular basis with her sheer beauty, endurance and strength.
Her adoption was the beginning of what I now realize will be a lifelong journey for my husband and me... a journey to do everything in our ability to help special need orphans in China. We have since adopted three more precious little ones through China's Special Needs (SN) program. Sophie is 5, Jude is 3 and Shepherd is 2. And we are expecting to travel to China soon for our new daughter, Vivienne.
But in addition to changing the lives of these five little ones, we strive to do more. Our eyes were once closed to the need for adoptive families for orphans in China, specifically special needs children. And then the term 'special needs' completely terrified us. But this term is quite misleading. Special needs in the China program can range from a birthmark, to a cleft lip or palate, to a missing hand or foot, to a complex heart condition. The majority of those termed 'special needs' by the CCAA (China Center of Adoption Affairs) would not be considered special needs by U.S. Standards.
Out of this initial lack of awareness on our part, and the hard-fought knowledge that replaced it, came a desire to inform potential parents about SN adoption. This desire manifested itself in the form of No Hands But Ours. Our hope was to create an all-encompassing website, specifically focused on Special Needs adoption from China. A website where people could come to browse, become more informed, and be encouraged. For all families, whether they are just curious, considering adding a SN child to their family, in process for a SN child, or home with their newly adopted child.
No Hands But Ours has lists of resources, special needs and a listing of participating agencies who are currently seeking families for specific children. We also have 'family stories' sorted according to special needs. These realistic snapshots into a family's life help take away some of the fear commonly held about certain special needs, as well as give a realistic expectation of that parenting a child with a certain SN might look like on a day to day basis. And the No Hands But Ours blog is a fantastic spot to read one, or several, of our contributing blogger posts. We now have 15 adoptive moms who post regularly on just about any and every adoption topic.
So, for anyone even remotely considering adoption from China, No Hands But Ours is a great place to learn more, a lot more, about the China Special Needs program. For our family, and for many families like us, adoption through the SN program has been a blessing for our adopted child, but even more so, it's been a blessing for us.
To learn more visit nohandsbutours.com
Monday, November 2, 2009
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
The class focused on what to expect when bringing home a child at various ages. We saw footage of an orphanage and countless babies who were underdeveloped because there more children than nannies. It was so sad to see a 14 month old barely able to crawl or feed himself. But, the images brought out the instinct to bring home a child and give them the loving home they desperately needed.
We learned how to address people's questions about our adoptive family. People can sometimes be rude and insensitive to adoptive parents especially if the family is transracial. We were told to expect a lot of questions and stares when in public. People are innately curious about adoption but do not always know how to pose their questions tactfully.
Later in the class we addressed the topic of attachment issues and fear of abandonment. It has been studied that even when infants are adopted, they experience attachment issues. We knew we would be bringing home a baby of at least 12 months so this was a bit scary. We were given scenerious and examples of how to cope with these issues. To offer another perspective on adoption a video was played of pre-teen adopted kids talking about how they felt about their family life and the fact they are adopted. One of the points of the video was to show that most kids who live in a nurturing loving environment with their adoptive parents are very happy. Some of them were interested in finding their birth parents or visiting their birth country, but some of them were content and saw their adoptive parents as their only parents. They did not have the desire at that point to seek out their biological parents. This proves that every situation is different and so is every kid. It does not bother us that our son may want to find his birth parents. We are very supportive of the idea, and when he is ready, we will be his biggest cheerleaders. But, the flip side is that the day may never come. It is all our son's choice.
Needless to say I had a lot on my mind after this class ended. At that time we had not yet applied with our agency and had no idea how things were going to go. Unable to picture our future family, it was difficult to peer into the future and feel comfortable with the end result. There were days I very excited to get started and others when I was sad and fearful. The huge price tag was daunting. Figuring out how to pay for the adoption on top of all the other unknowns was a strain on my emotions.
I already had enough experience with family planning to be cautiously optimistic if not completely negative about everything. But our adoption plan was it. This was our way of becoming parents. We chose to cease any further IVF cycles because we needed to endure something where there was only a minuscule chance of failure (like less than 2%). That being said I did not want to worry any longer about big issues. I just wanted to be content that within a year we would have a baby in our arms.
After we completed our homestudy in April we waited until late October to apply with our agency. More waiting. As many of us know it is the waiting involved with infertility and adoption that can be unforgiving- hanging in limbo with only our frenzied minds to keep us occupied. Nothing was going to cure my grief except a baby. We had to wait those months for various reasons. I am sure you won't be surprised when I say, thank goodness. Our son is ours because we waited. Otherwise he would have gone to another family.
Throughout the waiting period to begin our adoption I did a lot of soul searching. I was embracing our new path to parenthood but struggling with the loss of pregnancy. A few key moments that I am so thankful for helped to enlighten me during this time. My senses became heightened to all things adoption. I noticed transracial families everywhere. My heart melted when I saw or met adoptive families This helped me to picture our new family. One day I was in the library waiting to check out a book and the mother in front of me had her 2 year old daughter sitting on the counter facing her with her legs wrapped around thermother's waiste. When the child picked up her head, I saw she was Chinese; the mother was Caucasian. I should not assume this child was adopted but the picture of them embracing made me long to begin our adoption process. I was filled with hope.
Also, when we finally began our journey we met at the coordinators house one morning and were introduced to a couple of families who had already completed their adoptions. A little boy about 1 year old peeked his head around the corner, and when I saw his twinkling eyes and cute winter hat, I fell in love. The kettle of excitement I felt to have my own little one brewed over. I was ready- completely. It was after this meeting that I began shouting to the world that we were expectant parents through adoption. I finally felt I was justified in revealing that I was going to be a mommy soon. This revelation was thrilling.
After our match we were so excited to put pictures of Min Man all over the house. Planning and dreaming were in full swing. But there was also trepidation. Like most expectant parents we were scared. What would our child be like? What kind of parents would we be? We had some extra pre-conceived worries due to being parents through adoption. As the months passed during our wait and Min Man became older I fretted about his language development. He was hearing and speaking only Korean. He had begun to say Mom and Dad in Korean. Also, because S. Korea changed their rules just as we started our adoption (of coarse) the babies were coming home older in efforts to build up inner-country adoptions. Therefore, if the babies were not adopted domestically by six months old, they were opened to the international pool. Due to a glitch in our immigration paperwork Min Man came home at 15 months (about 2 months longer than expected); in our agency's 30 years, he was one of the oldest "babies" to come home- meaning that the couple that received the referral for a baby did not get their baby until after a year. This is different than those who wish to adopt a toddler or older child.
Min Man lived with one woman and her family for his first 15 months of life. I was very afraid he would be devastated after leaving them. The adjustment could have been extremely traumatic for him. Plus he had to travel over 20 hours to get to the US. Think about how cranky you become when you're travelling and how uncomfortable it can be to be out of your comfort zone.
Thankfully, my fears went unclaimed. All the mental preparation was good, but things have turned out way better than every imagined. It has been smooth sailing. I am so thankful that our adjustment was so effortless and that Min Man has been a happy baby throughout everything. The happiness is due to his inner glow and loving and accepting disposition.
The first unclaimed fear:
The first meeting.
We met Min Man in the airport. We did not have to travel to Korea. He turned the corner in his umbrella stroller and was all smiles. Looking exactly like his pictures, he came right up to us and gave us hugs and kisses. His smile portrayed the personality inside, loveable and sensitive.
Adjustment at home.
Everything in his life changed- smells, tastes, clothing, language, surroundings, climate, people, sleeping (he had been sleeping on a futon).
Min Man was amiable and open to every new change. He began eating all new foods, stopped drinking his usually formula, tried a sippy cup, after a few days was sleeping in his crib, rode in a carseat (not used to that either). His biggest adjustment was jet lag. Jet lag!
Also, communication was not difficult. He knew his English name within 10 days and after about 5 weeks was saying "all gone" "Mama" and "Dada"- awwwww.
Stares and rude remarks from strangers.
There have been inquisitive looks but not blatant staring. And as any mother would say, they are staring at my handsome and cute Min Min. There have only been a couple of questions and they were not rude. In fact, things have turned out to be the exact opposite of my fears. When we are out as a family, I can feel the warmth of people's smiles and reactions to our family. We have felt nothing but support. And now that I am not new at this adoptive parent thing, I will know what to say if someone is staring or says an insensitive comment. I will not feel so insecure about being a parent.
Min Man is doing just fine. He can count to 20, knows his alphabet, recognizes all the letter, and says some pretty funny things. It has been wonderful hearing his personality.We went for his 30 month check-up the other day which is big on development being up to par. As Min Man kneeled on the table in his diaper and acted like a frog saying,"ribbit" and then sang Frere Jacques (I Am Thumbkin), the doctor made a quick check mark on his clipboard and said,"Passed language development" with a chuckle.
With infertility and doing ART there were so many worries about becoming pregnant and then sustaining the pregnancy. I have a huge chance of miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy. And like many of you infertility has completely taken the innocence out of pregnancy. If I ever get a turn, I will be fearful until the baby is delivered.
I cannot speak for all adoptions because there are many different choices. Our situation brought up more fears about what would occur after our child arrived home. There was also consideration in parenting tactics for adoptive families and questions our children may have about their story in the future.
Parenting is scary stuff no matter how you get there. The responsbility is enormous. We all have that in common. Some challenges are unique but the love in our hearts holds no difference.