Adoption Update (and Delay)

We learned today that our birth parents (so I guess there is a father…?) had “ID issues” and couldn’t complete their last interview and signing. They are rescheduled for Oct. 27th. I have to say, I don’t feel surprised or overly upset.

I think if my last few years have taught me anything, it’s the art of accepting reality and having realistic expectations. I am disappointed, but I have lived with a lot of disappointment. I have recovered from a lot of “downs” and this is no different. This little boy may or may not come home to us, and I am fully aware of this.

There are two primary concerns and only one of them is valid: a) that this little boy is healthy and receiving love and b) that I will move on from this stage of life sooner than later, before I fall into a deep abyss of depression and hopelessness. One is motivated by love. One is motivated by fear. Our fears rarely come true. Our love is always birthed by something greater than ourselves.

I will concentrate on love. I will work on minimizing my fear of the future unknowns. I will enjoy the moment and fight for balance. I will run toward consolation and run away from things that bring me desolation. This post is like a little prayer to myself – creating space – but I hope my readers can use this logic for whatever your struggles are today as well. Let’s continue to steal nectar today, despite the challenges!

Advertisements

International Birthday Cake

Today is the little boy in Haiti’s birthday. The boy who may or may not come to live with us forever (in a year or two) is now one year old.

This is a day for reflection. I have been down this road several times, this road of celebration for the children I hope to love and cherish on this earth, but sometimes never come home. I have always felt that these moments need to be marked, though, because what if it does work out this time? In that case, of course, we will want these memories to share with him.

I made an ugly cake. I didn’t mean for it to be ugly, but it just didn’t work out the way I planned (and welcome to the rest of my life!). The love behind the gesture will just have to be enough. And you know what? I think it is enough. I started to realize this cake, with the swirling blues and splatters of gold balls, kind of looks like a globe if looked at lovingly with a lazy, far away glance (or maybe this is just me…but try to go with it). This cake – with the land masses sprinkled in the wrong places and the not-so-tidy or realistic purple border – seems fitting and even unitive (and what a joke it would be if I showed you the cake decorating ideas I got off of Pinterest for this attempt!).

Cake_high

Yes, this cake is a cake of love. This cake is a cake of connection. With this cake, I am celebrating the life of a boy I’ve never met…and hoping he won’t be too upset if one day he has to make a big trip (across golden land masses that look very different than the ones on my cake) and becomes part of our family. There is perfection in this imperfect sign of longing and invitation. Happy birthday, little guy. We love you already.

They Don’t Know

Most of my closest friends don’t know the full story. But how, on this hustling and bustling earth, could I explain every detail of the saddest story of my life?

They don’t know that I have tiny footprints in ink; a doll-sized, crocheted, blue hat which he wore (undoubtedly knitted by someone knowing a similar pain); and a drawer full of “I’m so sorry for your loss” cards that I keep to bring out and remember him on rare days.

They don’t know that my son weighed exactly what he should have weighed.

They don’t know he had 10 little toes and 10 little fingers and a sweet, little, perfect body.

They don’t know.

They don’t know that the sadness can creep up as powerfully and suddenly as an ocean wave, threatening to pull me under unexpectedly.

They don’t know I pleaded for his understanding as I set up his room with a bed – not a crib – for a bigger kid coming home in the next few years from a far away place.

They don’t know I whispered to his spirit – the remnants of his aura that circle around that space – that I miss him with a fierceness only a mother can understand.

They don’t know.

They don’t know that this pain does not go away. They don’t know that I am not trying to hang on to it, but the devastation will never leave entirely. It’s a sad gulp in the back of my throat, waiting to be formed.

They don’t know that I have to find another place, other than what is now another child’s bedroom, to house his few somethings from the hospital, along with the infant outfit and blanket I received as early gifts that I am not sure what to do with since it’s very likely I will never have said infant.

They don’t know what beakons of light they’ve been in my darkest hours. They don’t know that their gentleness has buoyed up my soul in a way I am not capable of doing without having their love and connection. They don’t know that sometimes their comfort sans intrusion is exactly what I have needed.

They don’t know, and that’s how loss works. We break through to the lighter side of things alone and hurting. This solo journey makes us much tougher and much more confident, though. We carry new, invisible “soul muscles” that help us lift others along their way in grief. And some of our friends may not be able to walk beside us with every step, but they are there to help us refuel along the path, encourage our steps, and just sit beside us without knowing all the details, and not needing to know because they love us anyway.

Fight or Take Flight?

Emotions are a funny thing. We have this great gift of logic, but we generally overuse it. We think ourselves out of situations instead of feel our way out. This leads to many disjointed ways of life and unhappiness as our souls are confined by our logic. Or, maybe that’s just me….

I am an abuser of logic. I organize, pat myself on the back when I act in a rational way, and sometimes (oops!) even judge others for being their irrational selves. How dare they react with emotion?! Well, today was another humbling of my being, making sure everything out there that’s visible and invisible isn’t tricked into thinking I am completely healed from my trauma.

Today, or for the last few days, I’ve been trying to get a simple prescription filled with my pharmacy. I have my loathed obgyn office and a wonderful general practitioner I’ve started seeing for the adoption medical information and updates required. (See how I am logically valuing them, even now?!) Well, this simple thyroid drug I’ve been told I need to stay alive has been filled in the past by both, so I wasn’t sure where the prescription would come from this week.

So, the pharmacy I use contacted my (old! never going back!) obgyn office and I got a prescription approval update on a medical app I have on my phone, but the pharmacy was saying the request was denied. Deciding I could handle a little email to my dreaded obgyn office through the app to get this solved, I bucked up and did just that, but felt the familiar fear and irritation that is present in moments when we have to get something done by collaborating with someone/some place we resist.

Caught off guard, I see a vaguely familiar, local number on my phone and decide to answer it. Surprisingly, I hear a familiar voice on the other line. This voice has told me at least a dozen times what my hcg number has fallen to, when I need to come in for more blood work to confirm my babies are dying sufficiently, and – when they don’t die sufficiently – this voice has told me to “hold still” and “this will hurt a little” when administering poison (methotrexate shots) to kill what cells are left of my fetus…and also totally wipe out any other cells delivering healthy immunity to my body.

Put in those terms (after some time to think), I can see why this conversation freaked me out. When this voice told me that she really needed me to come in for a PAP smear and annual visit, I couldn’t decide whether to fight or to take flight. Do I angrily come back with all the horrific medical “practicing” they used on me? All the times I caught their mistakes? Remind her of the many instances where I had to advocate for myself, do my own research, and double check their assumptions that turned out to be wrong because of being uneducated or just plain lazy?

My good old logical side kicked in. I flew as fast as I could in a calm manner.

“I hear you. Thank you. I already got my thyroid medicine refilled by my general practitioner in the meantime.”

“No, she doesn’t also do my PAP smears…”

“Well, after everything the last few years…I am taking a little break from my yearly exams…”

“No, no, I do not need to be transferred to reception to book an appointment.”

I hung up at the appropriate time. Then, I lost it.

Just a little thing like refilling such a flimsy, (necessary, I suppose) benign medicine and I am reduced to sobs. Logic cannot outrun all our emotions – not even after almost a full year without hearing that voice.

I probably will never be “all better.” My fight or flight response to certain stimuli surrounding my losses, my deepest pain, will probably always crop up from time to time. It’s always going to happen when I least expect it (otherwise I could logically prepare for it!). These instances hardly happen anymore, but it’s shocking, sad, and a little bewildering when they do. There is a large part of me that has moved on so I am always surprised by that vulnerable place that is still hurting and that demands to be recognized for its loss.

To those of you reading this that know this type of moment too well…I am so sorry. I am sorry you’ve had something happen to you from which your soul cannot quite fully recover. But, there really is beauty in that pain. There is an awareness that there, once, was a treasured thing…something so valuable it will not be forgotten. Whether that valuable thing was a person – or maybe just an idea, like hope for another outcome – there is beauty in recognizing that it was there, and that (mostly) you are functioning okay without it now. To repeat one of my favorite phrases heard most Sundays of my life: peace be with you. That is my greatest wish for you.

How to Answer Questions About Kids After Miscarriage

What is the most appropriate way to answer seemingly benign questions that actually stab through to your heart center? How do you make people feel comfortable after you answer their penetrating questions?

For me, I’ve started to try to a) be honest b) know my limits, and c) be kind. And, as a wise woman reminded me lately, “We are not responsible for other people’s happiness [read: reactions to things].” I am working on wording and length/depth of revelation, but I also realize those items might have to be spontaneously decided in the moment each and every time by the nature of things.

For instance, this morning I went to a volunteer meeting and someone I casually know asked how our adoption is going. She is currently 16 weeks pregnant so she was excited to talk about all things baby. In her enthusiasm, after we had mildly discussed our adoption progress and her current pregnancy, she asked if we have considered having biological children.

Did I skip a few beats in the conversation – or just internally?

I think I played it off smoothly. I have started to be brave enough to speak with truth when asked point-blank questions like this. I responded by telling her we have had some trouble. People never seem entirely satiated with that answer, so I went on to almost whisper that we have had some losses. (This is probably a good time to tell you we were surrounded by others, all eating lunch after this meeting, having conversations that could, at any time, veer off to join ours. This wasn’t my ideal setting to have this conversation, but I also am tired of having to hide my miscarriage history by lying, all for the sake of making someone feel comfortable with their questions.)

After I divulged we have experienced loss/we lost one at 17 weeks/doctors have told us we are just “unlucky”/we’ve always wanted to adopt/we are still working out whether we will ever try again/but probably not, she – like most well intentioned people – tells a story about her one friend that tried for years and now has a healthy baby. She tells me that it will probably just happen when we are not trying.

Now this part is always baffling to me. I know people mean well, but those who don’t have experience with the loss of babies confuse it with pure infertility (the lack of an ability to get pregnant). I always want to correct them, saying, “Well, but I know I can get pregnant, remember? So that’s not really my issue, you know?” And how do I explain, for example, the tracking for the correct timing of progesterone because to “just see what happens” will most likely mean “fetal demise” for my conclusion? And how do I translate the dropping out of my heart and the pain in the deepest part of my soul when I entertain the thought of another miscarriage? So…I just recognize the intention of her story and nod.

Then she asks, “How many losses have you had?” Yes, over lunch after a meeting. The nearby tables are full. I shyly hold up four fingers and give her a shrug. Then, as the setting invites, we get interrupted and the conversation is lost altogether.

….

….

If I ended this blog post up there, that gives you a good feeling of how this conversation ended for me. Very incomplete. I felt generally okay giving her the information I did as I am not ashamed of my miscarriages and think it is vital for women to start talking openly about these things. However, personally, after telling someone I’ve lost four tiny people, I could definitely have used a bit of closure. Just one more sentence, like, “Wow, that must have been hard,” or “I am so sorry.”

But, you know what? She is not responsible for my feelings either! She probably felt very uncomfortable and not sure how to bring it up again. She may even have been a little stunned, thinking of her little 16 week old baby in utero and mine that didn’t make it much past that point of gestation. My gut tells me to just write her a little note so I feel closure, and then move on entirely.

When we open ourselves up for connection, it isn’t always smooth, timely, or plain comfortable. But, I believe honesty, knowing our limits, and kindness will get us through most family planning questions. I intend to keep telling my story – at varying degrees of detail – and I will get better at the delivery, making people more comfortable with the true answer to what they have – somehow unwittingly – asked.