To The Angel Baby Mothers

*Repost from 6/18/2016 because the original did not appear on WordPress subscribers’ newsfeeds. 

This morning, at a few strokes after midnight, an amazing woman in my life gave birth to her second angel baby. This was her second trip to the hospital to deliver a child she knew she wouldn’t bring home. This was the second child she named, knowing she would not be saying the name out loud daily as the child grows into his or her own being. This was her second heartbreak on a level I understand, but still cannot fathom when I really soak in the facts and feelings.

So, to all the angel baby mothers: I know you. I am you. I know what it’s like to wonder what life on earth would have been like for your sons and daughters. I know that you have their names engraved in jewelry, little tiny urns in hidden corners, and trees planted in their memory in your yards. I know you have dates on the calendar that come with no ceremony, but can reduce you to a puddle on the kitchen or bathroom floor.

I know the triggers. The hospital shows. The birth announcements. The innocent questions asking how many children you have or why you’ve waited so long to parent (because, you know, you aren’t getting any younger). I know you want to celebrate with pregnant friends, but sometimes it is more painful than others. I know seeing a baby bump walking through a grocery store can spiral you for a few hours as you remember your grief.

I know my dear friend who gave birth early this morning is going to be okay. I know she is stronger because she’s experienced this before, and accepts her son’s too-short journey with her more easily because she intimately knew this could happen, and had accepted the risk before getting pregnant again. I know how brave that is. I know how the most horrendous reality can become true in a moment in the doctor’s office.

I know she loves him. I know she knows him best. I know she will never forget him and, as cruel as life can be, neither will her birthday ever be the same since she was celebrating her own special day when it became special for this different, less welcoming reason. I know on her birthday next year, she will remember the hospital, the delivery, and her sweet little son coming into the world minutes passed midnight.

Angel baby mothers have a special knowing. Their hearts ache eternally for their sons and daughters. They will support you and grieve with you if or when you join their ranks. They will share the details of the birth and the appearance of their too small children…they will help you however they know how so you can start to deal with a reality no one ever should know. They will make it less scary if that’s possible.

They will also remember you and your child’s name. I have so many angel baby names swarming in my head, and a special place for each of them in my prayers. So, today, I add Beckett’s name to my list. Beckett, we love you forever. We know you had a perfect journey in a perfect little body with the perfect mom and family for you. We know you are perfectly at peace, and we accept your sweet place in our lives. Please pray for Beckett’s family if you are the praying kind. Much love to all the angel mommies I know will be reading. Xx

To The Angel Baby Mothers

This morning, at a few strokes after midnight, an amazing woman in my life gave birth to her second angel baby. This was her second trip to the hospital to deliver a child she knew she wouldn’t bring home. This was the second child she named, knowing she would not be saying the name out loud daily as the child grows into his or her own being. This was her second heartbreak on a level I understand, but still cannot fathom when I really soak in the facts and feelings.

So, to all the angel baby mothers: I know you. I am you. I know what it’s like to wonder what life on earth would have been like for your sons and daughters. I know that you have their names engraved in jewelry, little tiny urns in hidden corners, and trees planted in their memory in your yards. I know you have dates on the calendar that come with no ceremony, but can reduce you to a puddle on the kitchen or bathroom floor.

I know the triggers. The hospital shows. The birth announcements. The innocent questions asking how many children you have or why you’ve waited so long to parent (because, you know, you aren’t getting any younger). I know you want to celebrate with pregnant friends, but sometimes it is more painful than others. I know seeing a baby bump walking through a grocery store can spiral you for a few hours as you remember your grief.

I know my dear friend who gave birth early this morning is going to be okay. I know she is stronger because she’s experienced this before, and accepts her son’s too-short journey with her more easily because she intimately knew this could happen, and had accepted the risk before getting pregnant again. I know how brave that is. I know how the most horrendous reality can become true in a moment in the doctor’s office.

I know she loves him. I know she knows him best. I know she will never forget him and, as cruel as life can be, neither will her birthday ever be the same since she was celebrating her own special day when it became special for this different, less welcoming reason. I know on her birthday next year, she will remember the hospital, the delivery, and her sweet little son coming into the world minutes passed midnight.

Angel baby mothers have a special knowing. Their hearts ache eternally for their sons and daughters. They will support you and grieve with you if or when you join their ranks. They will share the details of the birth and the appearance of their too small children…they will help you however they know how so you can start to deal with a reality no one ever should know. They will make it less scary if that’s possible.

They will also remember you and your child’s name. I have so many angel baby names swarming in my head, and a special place for each of them in my prayers. So, today, I add Beckett’s name to my list. Beckett, we love you forever. We know you had a perfect journey in a perfect little body with the perfect mom and family for you. We know you are perfectly at peace, and we accept your sweet place in our lives. Please pray for Beckett’s family if you are the praying kind. Much love to all the angel mommies I know will be reading. Xx

International Adoption Hold

It’s been a while since I have posted about the adoption, so this may be a bit of a dry post, but I wanted to give you all an update. It’s officially been 2.5 years in process and, by the end of August, our dossier will have been registered in Haiti for over 2 years. We have never received an official referral in that time. We’ve watched friends lose multiple matches, and others even lose the lives of their sometimes legal children while they wait for the rest of the paperwork to be finalized so they can come to the U.S. To state what probably seems obvious, this process hasn’t gone according to anybody’s plan. It’s been a test of patience, incredibly sad, and harrowing. Because of all of this and Zika concerns, we have decided to put the adoption on hold.

We have told our agency that we’d like our paperwork held until December. This means it will stay in its place, but no one will be working on a match for us for the next several months. We will decide at that time whether a) we need more time to bond and breastfeed our biological son, holding our paperwork for longer, b) if we will ask them to proceed forward with the adoption, or c) if we will drop out of the program in favor of a different international program or even a pursuit of a domestic adoption.

The other thing is, as we were originally promised the Haitian program was getting more stable, we have not experienced this to be the case at all. Haiti, as  a country, seems to have more political unrest all the time and one of my Haitian friends even believes they may be headed toward a civil war. The next few months of waiting will let us also assess the safety of moving forward with this specific adoption path.

As this pregnancy has progressed and I have been able to believe in the viability of this Son Three a little bit more, it has become clear that we need to give him the same love and care we’d like to give any other child we will parent. Bonding time is important, as many of my reader friends have previously suggested, and we are feeling really secure in this decision to put the adoption on hold for now and concentrate on this first child home (Son Three).

The Delicacy of Life

I have been thinking about life a lot lately. Life, meaning the breathing, thinking, touching part of ourselves. As a (liberally) religious person, I believe our souls – our energy – live on…maybe in an after-world, but maybe just as material transformed into something else (a new kind of life, as science would agree). Either way, I think what we call our souls still have a bit of structure (togetherness, if you will), although I think the structure isn’t an important quality; the importance remains in the spirit of that soul – the fact that our spirit (in terms of quirks, loving, experience, etc.,) lives on in another way.

…have I lost everyone yet?

Anyway, regular readers know I have lost four children through miscarriage. The ones I’ve carried the longest seem clearer to me than the early losses. There is a sense of knowing. Now that I am pregnant again – almost 32 beautiful weeks of gestational life behind the little guy – I have been thinking about my connection – my knowing – of this Son Three, and wondering if him being born will confirm what I suspect about his personality and aura, or whether I will decide maybe my knowing is a bit of fluff. Regardless, I hope I get the opportunity to find out soon.

I didn’t allow myself to bond with this little guy at first. Even though this would have been the fourth ultrasound I had, I couldn’t help but fall in love with him a little bit at 11 weeks gestation. Readers might remember, I talked about him doing flutter kicks on his ultrasound. Even though I had been pregnant for a combined total of – let me count – 50 weeks by then between the five pregnancies, this was the first time I had seen such a beautifully formed little baby body, scooting around and wiggling for us. I couldn’t help it…I felt that puppy love feeling you get when you start crushing hard on someone. I was smitten.

Having fallen down the rabbit hole of infatuation at this point, I still was super aware of the delicacy of life and still am today. I know tomorrow I could walk into my specialist’s appointment and they could find something on the ultrasound they haven’t previously detected. I know that one night, without anyone suspecting, this baby boy could get his neck fatally entangled in his umbilical cord. I know where the nightmares are coming from…the three I have had about losing him, including the one where – shortly after an early birth – I didn’t care that he had 16 toes all together on his feet, but I started to panic when his heart rate started plummeting and I realized I was at home without a car seat to get him to the hospital – even if he could make it there in time (obviously, in real life, you would forget the worry about the car seat and just rush to the hospital!). Those nightmares are coming from the reality I have lived of losing children. Logically, it looks like I should be having a healthy baby in roughly eight weeks, but my reality has made it hard to trust that logic.

And then I digress even further…as we’ve lost a family member to suicide this week, I think of her parents (whom happened to be two of my favorite people in the world and two I admire in the highest regard). I’ve written endlessly about losing children, but this suicide makes me look entirely dramatic. What I mean is, if I feel this shaken by what I have lived through, how can any people possibly go through a loss of an adult child whom they have loved, cherished, and known for several decades? How do you transform that grief into something positive? Where do you begin integrating that loss when you have so many, many memories and reminders?

So, I remember that life remains delicate. It continues to allude what our brains can fathom as possible scenarios or outcomes. It thrills us. It disappoints us. It leaves us wounded like no one else can possibly understand.

Rarely, has Son Three ever given me a little kick that I haven’t said a silent “Thank God.” The gratitude for his life continues to be front and center for me, and even more so – if that is possible – after the tragedy my extended family is directly facing. I am embracing every moment of life I get with this tiny spirit. I am remembering my time with Son One, A.G., and cherishing the sweet memories of carrying him in my body so blissfully and happily three summers ago. With every additional pound of weight, I am pausing to relish in the miracle my body is creating. With every breathless stair climb, I am smiling at this little boy pushing on my lungs with his feet, or rump, or maybe even elbows.

Today, I get to enjoy the tangible life of a child. I don’t know how long I will have with him. I realize he won’t always make what I think are good decisions. I know he will want his space and push me away at times. But, perspective is everything and I can’t think of a better time to cherish life than now. And, the opposite of what I am calling “life” is not “death.” I believe it’s just transformation. I will try to embrace past and future transformation with openness and acceptance. I will try to see beauty in it, even though it is a real loss to us still on earth. Today, I re-commit myself to staying fascinated and in awe of the delicacy of life.

(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.

 

Placenta Problems No More!

I am happy to report that I am indeed on the good side of statistics this time! The concern for my low lying placenta is officially over! I had a great visit today at my specialist’s office and, along with the news that my placenta successfully made its migration north, we also got to spend some beautiful time watching our baby boy on the ultrasound. We even heard a “Congratulations on meeting viability stage!” To think this little one could possibly live outside the womb from this point on is exhilarating!

For now, he is about a week ahead for growth, but only in his limbs and his head. This means we shouldn’t have to worry too much about the gestational diabetes test based on his normally-sized abdomen measurements at least. When we found out A.G. didn’t have a heartbeat, he was measuring two weeks behind schedule, so these measurements are important to us. They remind us how different this pregnancy is from the other four and how far we’ve come already in about 25 weeks!

Today, we are going to celebrate with a dinner out and memories of this little life kicking his legs and waving his hands; stretching his full body and curling back up again; and putting his hands in his usual spots (either by his face or behind his head). We have been spoiled with care from our new doctors and – as I mentioned earlier this week – with lots of love from friends and family. We are bonding more deeply with this Son Three and relishing in this time of joy. I am so glad to have happy news to share with you all once again. Enjoy the weekend! I know we will!

Bliss

The best way to describe life right now is with the word BLISS. My pup, Hollywood, was found to only have a benign growth and has stopped having to wear his t-shirts as his wound is healing very well. And, even though I don’t know anything more about the placenta previa (next appointment is late this week), I feel calm and hopeful we will fall into the large percentage of situations where this takes care of itself.

So, for now, I am enjoying the longer days of sunshine. I am reading books, connecting with friends and family, and continuing to prepare for this little guy who is now over 24 weeks gestation. I cannot believe my good fortune to be able to spend this time with him!

I have written before about how I loved my time with Adam Gabriel. Even though he left before I was ready for him to do so, I cherished my happy time with him – and still think of him with an enormous open heart (sometimes it feels like a gaping wound but always it feels like infinite love). I think about him often while I prepare for this new little guy. I am so thankful to have had every day with each of them.

Also, I feel overwhelming love from everyone in my life. I genuinely feel like everyone is cheering for us to have the limelight right now. Everyone wants this little guy to come home with us. It’s like a giant prayer I feel as I walk through my days right now. We have so many supportive people in our lives that it is impossible not to feel so special. I know this little boy is loved a little more because he’s made it this far and all our loved ones are eager to meet him.

As Christians are celebrating the Easter season, I feel like I am identifying with the resurrection. It’s been a long few years – feeling like my forty days in the desert for sure – but now I am relishing in the belief that the tide seems to be spitting me back onto shore where I can rest for a bit.

So, in an effort just to give everyone a little update, I just wanted to write about enjoying a blissful period of gratitude. I am thankful. I am not taking this time for granted. Every tiny baby kick, every snuggle with Hollywood, and every day I have my health seems like the greatest gift.