(Almost) 28 Weeks Update

This weekend I will be 28 weeks pregnant! I really never knew if I would ever carry a baby this long. I had another scan today and he still has a huge head, long legs, long arms, and even a bit of hair on his head! It’s incredible to see how healthy he is after losing four babies before him. So many questions will never be answered, but we are forever grateful for the health of THIS one, SON THREE.

Speaking of sons, we did get a bit of an adoption update that is quite ironic. (Having said this, I do not think Son Two is a viable match at all anymore, so we are looking at a new match in Haiti altogether.) After 2.5 years in process, Haiti has once again extended a certain deadline which now seems to mean we are promised a referral for a child by July 1st. The current catch, the way I understand it, is we need to complete our 15 day bonding trip and file a certain form IN HAITI before July 1st. So…as we are due with Son Three mid-July and Haiti has risk for the zika virus (among many other viruses such as malaria, typhoid, and chikungunya), it’s not exactly safe to travel before we deliver.

Yes, after 2.5 years of waiting, it looks like we will have to turn down our first opportunity at a referral in Haiti. If you’ve been following this blog, you are well aware our path to have kids has not been the least bit transparent. Here are our Haiti considerations in a nut shell:

  • Decline referral and wait for new referral. This would mean we’d have to file a new government form (I-800 instead of I-600). We fear this would cause our case to slow down (even more!) because the Haitian government would be concentrating on approving the I-600 cases first. This could slow down our process, literally, years. We’ve heard it might slow down the process about two years. This is an ADDITIONAL two years on top of the two years or so we expect to wait after our initial referral and bonding trip. Sounds crazy until you get familiar with Haitian adoption! Timelines of any kind cannot be trusted, though.
  • Accept referral if governments would allow us to travel after Son Three is born. This would mean leaving our newborn infant with grandparents, foregoing precious bonding time with him in exchange for bonding with our Haitian child that won’t come home for another approximately two years, and most likely quitting breastfeeding because of forementioned zika virus concerns I would not want to transmit back to our biological son.

So, neither option sounds stellar to us if you can imagine. We finally have one baby who is healthy and looks like he is coming home and it seems crazy not to slow down and celebrate that. But, from the perspective of adoptive parents who have been waiting years for a referral, it is so hard to consider turning one down if it is at all possible to move forward. Our hearts are invested heavily in Haiti, too.

It is unclear to us what decision to make. One good thing, though, is that we’ve learned a bit about patience and lack of control the past several years! We know we will have to wait and see whether Haiti sticks to their July 1st deadline. We also will have to see if Son Three, indeed, comes home healthy. We’ll have to check in with our hearts come July. What does intuition tell us? What is our deepest longing? Either way, it looks like we are getting one step closer to having our family complete, and we couldn’t be more grateful for that.

 

39 Weeks

I haven’t been watching the calendar, but I had a reminder today that I could have/would have/should have been 39 weeks pregnant this week. I do not want to write another depressing post! So, I won’t. I refuse. Instead, I am going to write about all of the things I couldn’t have done or wouldn’t have been able to plan and look forward to if I would have been 39 weeks pregnant (you know…steal a little nectar…). Okay, here we go!

1. Wouldn’t be drinking all of that red wine I love. I mean think of it all. Buckets of the stuff, or maybe enough to fill up a bathtub, or a small wading pool. All of those 4 oz glasses times like a million days of pregnancy – what a total win!

2. Wouldn’t have paddle boarded for the first time this season yesterday. Can you imagine me wobbling, trying to balance on my board, not being able to pull my 50 pound pup up for the 102nd time like he needed yesterday after stealing swims out there on this beautiful lake? Yes, this is basically in my backyard. So lucky!

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3. There is no way I would have been able to travel this week to comfort a friend after her mom died. It turned out to be such a meaningful, warm, and important visit with her and her family and there is just no way I could have been that far away from my doctor.

4. And that reminds me of ALL of the doctor appointments I’ve avoided in the last 9 months. Oodles of them! I avoided all of those faces that know me because I am the “spontaneous aborter” as it so nicely points out on my medical history. I’ve avoided the anxiety of whether or not I will hear that heartbeat or panic over hcg numbers.

5. I wouldn’t have been able to go to the Masters again – on the final Sunday no less. Here is my grapefruit juice and club soda spritzer that I celebrated with a few days before the event to get in the right mind frame.

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6. I wouldn’t be going to Vegas to meet my oldest and most dear sister-friends for a long weekend.

7. I also wouldn’t have planned a Gulf Coast road trip with another girlfriend of mine that always has mischief on her mind and a wide grin on her face. I just giggle dreaming of the memories we will be making!

8. I wouldn’t have gotten that “couples massage” in Palm Springs last December with my friend after clearly requesting two separate massage rooms. I wouldn’t have gotten ridden like a rodeo bull as the masseuse pummeled my butt muscles with her knees and then got called a very large and beautiful lady. (Well, maybe I would have been called large and beautiful during the last nine months but not for the same reasons…this reason being that I am a 5’8″ Caucasian women with a very healthy BMI which also puts me naturally much larger than many other women around the world). I really do have the best massage stories; how could I be holding out on you guys for so long?

9. I wouldn’t have lost those five pounds this month. Okay, so maybe it’s three. And maybe it’s more of a water weight/pre-breakfast versus post-breakfast loss, but you know…it just wouldn’t have happened.

So, life is funny. It’s exciting. It’s lively, even when I am not having a baby next week. I am sure a 10th reason will come to me before my due date arrives uneventfully next week and there is good stuff in that. Dangerously refreshing, isn’t it?

Green Juice

My life in metaphor: green juice. Desperate and clinging to hope, I make green juice. My kale and spinach based liquid breakfast represents what I am trying to do in all aspects my life. When infusing life – or breakfast – with only the cleanest, nutritiously-packed ingredients, the output is bound to be superior than whatever happen-chance would produce. Rigggght?!?!

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Well, it’s something I am trying. The last few months have produced one failed pregnancy, three nasty colds, and a lot of immature emotions (like jealousy, anger, and entitlement) I have been trying to conquer. But…I finally have that summer feeling back where I have enough energy and stability to commit myself to positivity again. It may not be paddleboarding season yet, but I am working on filling my hours with only the best.

This includes a little work, lots of sleep, fresh foods, yoga, warm baths, book devouring, board game nights with my husband, and sweet cuddletime with Hollywood, my curly, Fraggle Rock of a pup. Long talks with friends, new volunteer activities, and exciting travel plans are on the agenda.

I feel all of this patience I have had to muster is preparing me for my next stage of life. We learned recently that we will be waiting until at least the summer to hear any news about an adopted child, so there is a continuous resetting of expectations. I expect, once the child is home with us, this theme will be repeated as we teach them English and try to help them reach new developmental milestones.

So, I choose to be thankful for the practice of patience. I choose to be thankful for this desert time which is really not that hard in so many ways. I choose to drink green juice and continue to hope for strength, change, and positive tomorrows.

Bullets to Blessings

Sometimes we don’t dodge the bullet. Sometimes the bullet cuts straight through our heart, and we are left to deal with the aftermath. Just like this bracelet (photographed below, from Proverbs 31 Ministries) exemplifies, bullets often become blessings. Bullets become new friendships and deeper compassion. Bullets teach us a new and better way to live.

Bullets to Blessings.

I may have mentioned it previously, but whether I have connected with blog readers, women from my past, or new friends I would never have met unless we shared our deepest losses, my bullets – the loss of my babies – have birthed deep, supportive friendships that have been life lines in the past few months and years.

I have been meaning to start using more photos in my blog posts, so I thought this was the perfect one to kick off the new year. My dear friend, Ally, a woman I met online through a miscarriage support group and only know virtually, shares an almost identical miscarriage history to me. We became pregnant with our fourth children days apart, but luckily she has grown the most beautiful round belly and is eagerly awaiting the birth of her baby girl this spring. Instead of shirking away as our fates untangled at this specific juncture, she stayed. She prays for me daily, often sending me emails of specific intentions she has for me. She shares with me the desires she has for my future family (adopted and/or biological) and urges me to remain hopeful in our All Loving Creator. And now, she sends me the most beautiful bracelet that she also wears in solitude with me.

What a gift.

What a blessing that has come from many bullets.

In moments like these, I remain thankful for the bullets because they are evolving my present and my future. These bullets are full of beauty, prayer, thanksgiving, and friendship. Dear Ally, thank you for being an angel in the dark night. I don’t think you know, but Adam Gabriel’s due date anniversary is tomorrow, and – in perfect, cosmic timing – these re-purposed bullets on my wrist will give me strength on a day that may make me weak. Thank you. Thank you to one of my angels on earth, giving life in remembrance to my angels in heaven.

A Mixed Bag

Life is always a mixed bag. I am trying not to live in a dualistic mindframe…but it’s sooooo hard. When my dog has lost a third of his body weight since almost dying last spring and there seems no clear way to get him to gain it back, it’s really difficult not to label that “bad.” When Adam’s due date is approaching and I can’t stop thinking about how he should be celebrating his first birthday and his first Christmas, I struggle with finding joy in that. When I come home to a sick, sad puppy and an email saying “no news” from Haiti, I struggle. Really, I am just tired of being sad and tired of worrying that anything living near me may be pulled from me sooner than I am ready.

That’s half of it. The other half is overwhelming gratitude. Last week my husband and I spent a week in Palm Springs for a work function of his. I spent my days absorbing the sunlight, running, and laughing more than I have in months, or maybe even years. I spent nights with more laughter, lots of dancing, and plenty of good food and drinks. I have complete flexibility in my life. I have inspiring people whom push me to keep learning and keep being positive…and, just show me love when I need that, too.

So, how can the worst times also be the best times? I guess I keep being shown that the “worst” times are really not the worst. The “best” times come with a fair amount of frustration or sadness on the side. This is life. I seem to be living it deeper in both “directions” (if we really want to label…or, if I can’t stop myself from labeling, I should say…). I don’t trust it will go back (to life being less complicated). I will have to keep changing, keep growing, and keep accepting the unstability. I will have to keep working on my patience. I will have to keep loving the seemingly unlovable days, and the gorgeous days, that make me question “why me?”.

I am so happy my loved ones still ask me to celebrate their pregnancies, their job successes, or just to spend some time with them road tripping along the Gulf Coast this next summer. When I want to scream and throw in the proverbial towel, I get to celebrate someone else’s joy or get a truckload of “oh my gosh my life is crazy good how is this my good fortune?” This is life. It’s the “good;” it’s the “bad;” it’s the lessons we take with us from the experiences. This mixed bag is mine, and I will reach my hand deep into the contents, not knowing what thrills or scares will grab me next.

Belated Thankfulness

I have so many swarming thoughts, but – a little belated – I want to write down many things I am thankful for this year:

1. My husband and my 9th anniversary. We’ve grown in our understanding of each other through each joy and setback. Our commitment to making each other’s life easier and more full of joy and hope continues each day. He is the kindest man I know and I am humbled to have him by my side every day. EVERY day. I am amazed at such a lovely truth.

2. I am not sure if I’ve put this into words before (maybe I have), but I often think how lucky I feel that our son, Adam Gabriel, got to meet nearly all of my most cherished humans when he traveled with me in my womb. We went to weddings of friends I’ve had for decades, danced all night with my huge extended family at my parents’ anniversary party, and attended girls’ weekend getaways. We met strangers on planes that wished us sincere happiness and even, in one instance, gave us a warm hug. We were glowing everywhere we went. These people he met, and the times we had, cheer me up from the inside out. I had more joy than ever before or since with late night milkshakes, deep conversations, and lots and lots of dancing.

3. Relief workers. On every continent, there are many who dedicate their lives to creating more good in this world with their time, talent, and treasure. As I grow in my compassion for life itself, I have a softer heart and true thankfulness for those who make sure others have clean water; housing; nutritious food; and maybe even education and equal rights. There are people who work really hard to keep families and support systems together. Humanitarians make me so happy and I have found that I am extra thankful for them in this season of my life.

4. Health. Whether it is being cold-free, cancer-free, or maybe just not having a doctor’s appointment on the schedule, I have realized how dependent I am on my good health. I used to take it more for granted, but just being alive and feeling well is such a huge gift. When the white noise lifts (poor work environments, difficult relationships, or other clutter we tend to collect and give more importance to than warranted), it is amazing what little, basic needs are vital to our happiness. A little sun and friendship can go a looonnnnng way.

5. And, finally, that leads me to connectedness. I have so many strong connections to people I’ve known almost all my life, to those I’ve known just a decade, or maybe even just a year or two. I have had friends who are more like sisters fly in to see me for an extended weekend. I have had friends with toddlers load up the car by themselves and drive many hours for nothing more than a great hang out session with walks, wine, and laughter on the agenda. I have spent half days lurking in coffee shops with soul sisters, pouring our hearts out about every interesting detail that has arisen in the last week, month, or year. I have people to unexpectedly cry in front of and not be embarrassed because I know they love me even though I am broken. I have a husband that often knows me better than myself. I am loved and connected, and anyone who knows me well, knows that connection is what I cherish above all else.

Mind Mania

When I go “into my head” too often, that’s always a sign I need to recenter, meditate, and find a way to rest my spirit. I feel a creeping in of my ego. I find doubt. Anxiety. Manic or half-thought thoughts. Catching it is one thing, but taming it is a whole other.

In the last few weeks, I have been sloppy with my words. Sloppy, or just not wise enough to choose better ones. I have been exhausting (to myself as well as others) with my repetitive focus, and I haven’t left enough room for deep breaths. The necessity of patience and comfort with ambiguity feels like a slow death….and I know that’s a result of a narrow perspective. There is openness and light here if I welcome it.

My husband and I went back to another specialist and genetic counselor and, once again, had it confirmed that we’ve had the supreme package of bad luck with our pregnancies. We are at the point of diminishing returns for any procedures/tests we would opt to have (results < effort), but – despite the lack of clarity – we felt a strange sense of relief, knowing that we are still “normal” in doctors’ terms.

However relieved, this new chapter of our life has reminded us that a long period of waiting is ahead of us. Many families have waited 3, 4 and 5 years to bring their children home from Haiti. We are open to building our family in so many different ways, but that kind of openness is not enough; there is much more patience needed. We need to be open to a timing that is divine and does not heed to chronological ticks and tocks. Although we are grasping at anything to aid in that preparation, there is much beyond our control, sight, and wisdom. In some ways it is very comforting because the responsibility doesn’t rest on our shoulders; in other ways it’s driving us nuts as we think we are ready for more purpose and responsibility NOW! (And, even as I typed that last sentence, I know I will look back at it, shaking my head, thinking, “Why didn’t I enjoy the quiet!”)

I feel a shift is actually upon us, though. This tension and rattling energy feels like we are at the top of the roller coaster’s hill, about to fly down the other side, feeling the wind blow our hair around with happy smiles and shrieks of joy. I don’t know what is on the other side of this uphill exactly, but I feel it’s just a breath away. I hope this really is the case.

So, I will calm my mind with prayer, exercise, good food, and connection. I will live purposefully, and I will anticipate the goodness that is upon us – now and that which is a moment away.