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.
Check out Weebles for more Perfect Moments.
p.s. PFM is on Face.book. You can become a "fan." If you have an account search for Parenthood for Me.org
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