Thursday, May 27, 2010

Reflections

I've been talking to a couple of bloggy buddies about the pending births of their potential babies. In sharing our experience (and Ty's approaching birthday), I have been living in a state of reflection. The day Tyrus was born seems like ions ago, yet its memory is burned into the yesterdays of my mind.

The day screamed celebration.

My best moment was the second they set Ty's flailing, screaming body on Rebekah's tummy. She instinctively cradled his head, looked at me, and said, "Oh, Rebekah, touch him...he's beautiful." Our faces were all close, taking in the wonder that became our baby boy.

If there was ever a day that was not about me, it was that day. It was all about sweet Tyrus. As we rejoiced on earth, God was singing over his creation. We were just proud witnesses to the spectacular. It was amazing and emotional and life changing.

It was my favorite day.

One of the bloggy friends I've been writing, asked me how we best showed love to Rebekah. I gave her a detailed account of our day and the ways we preferred Rebekah at every step. One of my favorite things about sharing our experience, with others, is the equal opportunity to share our regret...even if it's just one. My hope is that those trailing our adoption will think about it going into theirs.

Our case worker was wonderful and gave such hearty advice that we were careful to follow. I remember her telling us that we had a lifetime with Rebekah's son; she only had 24 hours.

We were happy to give her the firsts - holding, feeding, diapering. I loved all those minutes with Ty; it didn't matter who was holding or rocking. I had spent a lifetime loving this boy I had never met. Soaking him in from across the room was as filling as snuggling him myself. He was truly God's love manifest.

Rebekah later (much later) told me how much she wished she had spent more time alone with Ty. Enter regret. We were, literally, only in the hospital for 24 hours. Ty was born at 6:18pm and we were driving back to our rented cottage by 7pm, the next day. Most of that time was spent in group celebration with Rebekah and her family. Rebekah only had maybe two of those 24 hours alone with her son. At the time, we were all having so much fun talking, getting to know each other, and gushing over the baby, that we didn't think about it. Even though we had 3 weeks, after the birth, of family get-togethers and parties, it wasn't the same.

In the short time Rebekah had with Ty, she took amazing photos and video we'll cherish forever. Watching them together is enough to make you sob. I wish I had given her more time. I wish I had taken more pictures. I wish I had better video. I wish I had insisted, the day he was born, that we needed to go. I wish, I wish, I wish. Knowing Rebekah wishes for the same makes it that much harder.

Thankfully, God's love, and our closeness with Rebekah, does not require us to live in past days. Watching her kiss on Ty, this past Easter, will stay in my heart for years to come. I cherish our friendship and love that our pre-birth dreams of raising kids together have become reality. [Remember those conversations, Rebekah?]

All of this reflection makes part of my heart sad. Sad that we may never know the joy of a hospital experience again. Sad that future newborn snuggles won't be with my children. Sad that the super-awesome, 10 foot stork that my sister made for our yard will never be staked, again.

I know that God is stirring my heart for foster adoption. I know that his plan is better than mine and I am 100% okay with adopting children that are not babies.

My sadness doesn't take anything away from those truths.

It just is what it is.

Sad.

This time around, however, it does not cripple me. It does not consume my every thought. I have one shining boy that lifts my heart high. No amount of sadness could ever drag it down.

This one year celebration of his life is big. The party will be great, the families that come to love on him even better, but the spark in our hearts is beyond what could ever be expressed.

Thank you for sharing Ty's year with us. You are so much a part of this story. In the coming days, look for many photos and videos and special posts, including a giveaway, and Ben's blog-world debut...

Monday, May 24, 2010

Muma

video

Well worth the wait.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Living Beyond Me

I am one big baby. Apart from Christ, there is very little I can do in my own strength when it comes to physical pain. I don't like to be uncomfortable, blood and needles freak me out, and even the slightest of scrapes send me into a fainting tizzy. [You can imagine how well I handled infertility treatments].

My mantra this year is live simpler, buy less, and give more.

When it comes to the giving part, I never have to go out of my way to look for opportunities. They're all around me - when I'm looking through the eyes of Christ.

Every place I walk, ever person I meet is a chance to extend love and grace. Not always easy. Not always obvious.

A few months ago, one of the professors on our campus found out that he needed a bone marrow transplant. One morning, in chapel, the president asked every student and staff member in attendance to get tested. As he discussed the details a roar of a "YES" jumped to my throat, but I quietly walked back to my office.

A thousand thoughts ran through my head. What would happen if I was the match? I hardly knew this man...would a transplant be painful? How much time would I have to take off work? Would it be painful? How long would I be away from Ty? Would it be painful? Would my health be at risk? Would it be painful? Would I get sick? Did I mention how much desperate I was to know if it would be painful???

I immediately went to Be The Match to gather as much information as I could. The gut in me continued to shout YES.

I spent the last few weeks thinking it all through, praying, and talking to Ben. In the end, I couldn't turn my back on the possibility of saving a life. No matter how uncomfortable the process might be for me. Selfish thoughts, I know.

I think about my boy and the horror it would be to ever hear that he needed such a transplant. If I were in those shoes, I would be dependent on others answering the shout in their hearts.

So, I did it. I ordered my testing kit, swabbed my cheeks (no needles involved!), and sent my bio-hazard off in the prepaid envelope.

It feels good to live beyond me. Beyond what I feel capable of doing in my own strength.


I might get called next month or next year or never. Whatever the case may be, I'm open to wherever God can use me.

I would encourage you, this week, to take an opportunity available to live beyond you.

See what God will do.

For more information on bone marrow donation, please visit the official registry at Be The Match. I'm proud to announce that the man in need of the transplant had a match much quicker than the time it took me to weigh through the pros and cons. He has had his transplant and is on the long road of recovery.

If you find yourself living beyond you, this week, please come back and tell us or send me an email so we can be encouraged!

Go and give more.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Ty's 11th Month

Hard to believe it's been nearly a year.

Every month is my favorite.

Month 11 has brought out Ty's personality more than any other. I love that he goes after what he wants and is not easily persuaded. Tenderness continues to be first nature, as kisses and back pats are routine. Ty has started to mimic everything we do including "oh," "ah," and "ssss" sounds. His "mumas" melt my heart the minute I walk in the door and his new tricks include high-fives, blowing kisses, and patty-cake. He does an adorable nose scrunch when he's really happy and creating waves in the bath result in peals of giggles and one wet mama.

For some reason, he cries like we broke his heart when we lay him down for diaper and outfit changes. But as soon as the diaper comes off he takes joy in playing with his manhood. Something I'll never understand.

Very firm "no Tys" have begun and to my surprise he listens every time (for now). Our pediatrician appointment, last week, landed Ty in the 10th percentile for height and weight (such a peanut!), he weighs in at 19 pounds. We're still in 6-9 month clothing and size 3 shoes.

Ty is taking his sweet time growing teeth and crawling. He refuses to crawl, but does the ever-efficient butt-scoot and walks around furniture like a maniac. He is now able to walk around flat surfaces with minimal wall support. I expect him to be on the move by his birthday. Not sure what's up with the teeth, but he doesn't let it slow him down. The only foods we've had thrown at us are green beans and hard-boiled eggs. We'll keep trying.

My favorite new thing this month is Ty's desire to share whatever he's doing/eating with me. He is constantly sharing his graham crackers, cheese, and pacis. He'll suck on his paci for awhile before deciding it's my turn. He plops it right in my mouth and then laughs hysterically. It used to gross me out, but now I revel in the loving attention.

Somewhere along the way, Ben became Ty's hero. He routinely turns to Ben for comfort, which shouldn't have surprised me, but did. Apparently mommy's no-nonsense, suck-it-up attitude has already been detected... Thank God for daddy.

Every day Ty turns more boy, less baby.

His hair continues to be out-of-control by nature. His disposition sweet and easy going.


We never stop thanking God for lighting up our life.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Silent Sobs

I have two friends that are both experiencing pain. Pain I wish I could erase. One gave me her son, the other is losing her husband. I love both friends deeply and wish there was more I could do. Although I've seen them both weep with heartache, I know there are so many silent sobs that I never hear.

What is it about us that just wants to "fix" everything? I wish I could snap my fingers and erase the feelings of hurt, rejection, and pain. I wish I could offer up an ever healing band-aid that left no scars behind. I hate that I can't.

When it comes to Rebekah, it's difficult not to feel guilty. As much as I try to remind myself that we are not the source of her pain, it's hard to separate my emotions. Our greatest treasure is her largest loss. How can I not feel responsible? The day after Mother's Day was difficult for her. Many of you read her words.

I will never understand the loss of a child. Scratch that. I pray to God that I never understand the loss of a child. I cannot imagine living through such difficulty. The only experience I have to compare is the loss of not having a child. But, it's different. It comes with it's own set of gut-wrenching-I-don't-know-if-I-can-live pain, but it doesn't parallel life. Rebekah carried her son for many many months. Loved him, fed him, grew him. Then she held him for many weeks, while we made Colorado a temporary home. Then she kissed him goodbye and gave him a new family in us.

What about that process isn't heartaching? Just thinking about it makes me shiver.

I'll admit. It's easy to forget the pain and get wrapped up in the joy of Ty's life. He is the love of God. But then I talk to my sweet friend, hear her words, and reality comes crashing down. Rebekah's heart will never be whole. There will always be a part that is distant. The part that lives with us.

When I think about the weight of those words, I ache. I know that she has good days and bad. I know that she doesn't live in a constant state of regret and loss. I know that time will soften the throb. That the hand of God can bring life to dead places.

But, I also know a mother's love never lessens. It never whimpers out or forgets to shine. It is constant and radiant. It never goes away.

My heart is so thankful for the openness in our adoption. These reminders of reality are good. They stir me to be a better mother. To love beyond myself. To hear the voice of God.

I am grateful that Tyrus will always know the love of two mothers. And although I can't erase the pain of one, he will always know it exists.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Compassion

A couple of months ago, we were compelled to sponsor a ten year old, Kenyan boy named Baraka (Swahili for blessing), through Compassion International. This sweet young man has changed our family more than he'll ever know. His little life has begun a revolution in mine. A revolution of change. Living simpler. Wanting less. Giving more.

When I go to the fridge I wonder, "What has Baraka eaten, today?" When I want to buy Tyrus a new pair of shoes I think about how differently Baraka's family would use that money.

Baraka lives in an AIDS community and his family of 10 struggles for food and work.
It's really important to us that Ty grows up with an enlarged worldview. We want his heart to overflow love and generosity.

We do not want him to live in excess.

The Lord has been challenging me on this, in every area of our life, and in coming days I'll be talking about it more.

We have written Baraka twice now, sending along pictures and stickers for him to enjoy. This week we received our first letter back! Our hearts swelled as we read the words written by our little buddy.

He told us how happy he was to have us in his life....that he is hoping to be a policeman, someday...and that he "longs" to hear from us. He closed his letter by promising to pray for our family, asking if we'd pray for his.

I praise God for this opportunity. I knew our monthly donation was going to change the course of Baraka's life, but I wasn't prepared for it changing mine...

For $38 a month you, too, can change the life of a child. Please consider it. And look for the photos with red hearts -those children have been waiting the longest. I'm not getting paid by Compassion or receiving any sort of kudos for promoting their organization. I, simply, love my Savior and the way Compassion shows it.

All in a Day of Planting

My first Mother's Day. Before the morning dawned, I was welcomed into the privileged club in a most unusual manner. Without notice, in the middle of the night, Ty became violently ill. The kind of ill that makes your heart race and eyes tear. Nothing I did satisfied my baby's cries. It was part teething, part horrific cold. Ben and I spent the night taking 2 hour shifts. Rocking, holding, singing, praying.

It was round two or three that I cried and thanked God for the opportunity to mother the wheezing, feverish boy in my arms. It truly is a privilege.

The night's activities took their toll, but despite the exhaustion, Ben still woke up and made me a Queenly breakfast - and served it in bed. The gifts and recognition were nice, but the words he wrote will stay in my heart forever.

There were two cards. Both brought tears.

Excerpt from Ty: "Thank you for being my mama...for making me food...for giving me kisses...for staying up all night when I'm sick...for always dressing me so nice...for doing my hair...for taking me to the park...for being so nice to Miss Rebekah...for doing things that no one else could...for taking such sweet pictures of me...for working so hard so we can be together more in the future...for loving daddy...for being you..."

Excerpt from Ben: "You do everything just how Ty and I like it best, and you make both of us better than we are. My favorite part is how we're in this together and how you tackle every challenge head on. You never take the easy road, and I know Ty will grow up being a hard-working, godly man, who always strives to do his best. You were born for this...my love, my wife, my helpmate. You deserve this day."


We didn't leave the house and spent the day napping/recuperating. While Ty slept in 3-4 hour chunks, Ben and I decided to enjoy the sunshine by planting our garden.

We live in a condo, so our garden is potted by nature. You'd be surprised by what we can grow in a pot! Beans, peas, lettuce, various peppers, tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, green onion, chives, and herbs by the multiple.

Ben and I love doing it together and watching our seeds grow. When the fruit starts to multiply the sense of pride is astounding.

I can't wait to teach Ty life lessons via the garden. Patience and tenderness and hard work are all keys to our gardening success. How sweet it will be to watch Ty enjoy the fullness of our efforts, this year.

Ben is already talking about his fresh garden salsa. Yum.

We've learned from past garden tragedies. Peppers from seed don't bloom in time. We buy all our pepper and tomato plants to give them a head start.

I treasure my time with Ben. If I'm a good mother, it's because he's such a good husband. Spending our day in dirt was better than any night-on-the-town date.

Last year's green onion and chives made their way from the dead and got an early bloom in, tucked away in the safety of the garage.

When the garden was complete I spent time on my flowers. My petunias come in waves and make my heart happy.

After a day of rest Ty is feeling much better and slept through the night without issue.

Right before I signed off for bed, I read these words from Rebekah, "I've celebrated many mothers days in my fourteen years of motherhood, but I'm not thinking of myself this morning. What truly makes me smile THIS mother's day is thinking about someone else that is celebrating her first mother's day. I wish I was with her to give her a big hug. So today, I celebrate my mom and Rebekah. Thank you mom for being a wonderful mother to me, and thank you Rebekah for being such a wonderful mother to our little boy."

I love my life.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Clarifications

****Until we work out the bugs, you have to click on the title of this post to see comments. Hoping to fix that****

Alright, folks, I've been wanting to join the Disqus party for quite some time, but kept going back and forth on the issue for various reasons. After reading through the comments on my last post, I knew it was time. My number one reason for embedding this application is for discussion purposes. If you offer good food for thought I'd like to host further conversation.

So. Moving forward, I'll be using Disqus to host and moderate my comments - Thank you for your help Kelsey!! (Anyone can comment; you don't need an account). Most of us avoid change, but I hope you'll stick around and try it out. I'm excited!

Today, I would like to address some of the questions/comments/judgments from my last post. I would like to start by saying, this is my space. Clearly, it isn't a detailed account of every aspect of my life or all my feelings. Try not to take this personally, but when I write, I don't really think about my readers. I don't think about how they might respond or wonder if I should rephrase my words. I JUST WRITE. The only exception to this practice is my family. I do think about how my posts will affect Ben, Rebekah, and sweet Tyrus.

This is a place for me to pound out my thoughts - joys, clouds, and frustrations. I'm a heart-open, talk-it-out kind of girl. I love that I can come here and work my mind on "paper."

So. All that being said. It's funny to me that some people get so out of whack by what I write, assuming they have have all the intricate details of our story (which by the way is my life).

Let's talk about this foster care thing.

Some things you might be interested in knowing that I failed to share the first time around: Ben and I are only thinking about adopting through the foster care system. God is nudging us in that direction, but our plans for starting the process are several months away. I have been working my hiney off trying to get through this Master's program so that I can be home more. I, currently, work at a Christian college and hope to teach there as soon as I'm done. Teaching in higher education offers a wonderfully flexible schedule for moms. I can teach two days a week or only at night or only online or take summers off. It's a beautiful thing.

God, of course, is free to change our plan at any time. But as it stands, I'd like to finish school before adopting again.

I am enjoying every second I have with Ty and I make a habit of not letting "things" bog down our family time (laundry, dinner, homework, blogging, etc). Because I work, my time with him is precious. All thoughts and conversations of future children are done after Ty is in bed [smile].

When it comes to family planning, infertile women should be given the same exercised right to dream. Having the ability to grow babies in my belly doesn't set some sort of ruling on the parent I get to be and the level of judgment my life is open to.

We are ready to parent again and it's okay for me to talk about it. Ty may be 11 months, 23 months, or 10 years before he gets a sibling. I'm okay with every scenario. We're on God's time.

Back to foster care. We are not looking to foster children. Maybe that will change in the future (I do feel a foster mom should be home to concentrate on the children placed within). We would like to adopt a waiting child in the foster care system.

In regards to my desire/anticipation/hopes to get a random email or phone call that an expectant mom has come across our path, I understand what FamilyofThree was saying. Adoption is tremendously difficult and emotional. We have an unusually intimate relationship with Ty's mom and it has given me a realistic view of the unnatural ripping that takes place in families. By hoping that another mom will find me is by no means me wishing/thinking/feeling that all expectant moms should place their children in the arms of other women. But. The fact is, women do make adoption choices for their babies. Whether I hope it will happen for us or not doesn't change it. It's my version of praying I'll get pregnant.

One of our reasons for wanting to adopt a waiting child is due to need. Although we would adopt an infant again if a situation presented itself, there are a hundred wonderful, loving families that would line up behind us if we said "no." The kids in foster care aren't so lucky. There is tremendous need there and we want to help.

Maybe that will put some of your Rebekah-fears to rest. Maybe not. Either way, I'm glad you're here and willing to listen to my heart.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Next Chapter

Deep exhale. Classes are done, house guests gone, dishwasher installed. I can finally hear my thoughts. This may be a disjointed, rabbit-trail mess, but I have a lot on my mind and it starts with an admission.

Twice a day I feel a rush of adrenaline. My hands get sweaty, my heart races. I hold my breath, squeeze my eyes, and...

...open my email.

Crazy, right? Somewhere in the recesses of my mind I think/hope/pray that someone will contact me and ask us to parent her baby. I get many bloggy emails a day and I quickly scan every one to set the tone before I settle in for a hard read. I know it's crazy. But, I can't help it. In the last several months I have been contacted three times by a friend of a friend of a friend that wants to know if we'd parent again.

Nothing ever comes from such emails, but my heart has formed frantic habits.

I'm frustrated by what I feel because it reflects a narrow mind. I don't want to be the girl that cookie-cuts God based on past experiences. But it's difficult. It's difficult to trust God in this area of my life. And it shouldn't be. Not after what I've seen.

I've recently come to realize that the emotions I attach to infertility may never go away. I am over having babies and I don't care about the belly or boob-feeding, but I hate the lack of control. Ben and I are ready to parent again. Right now. I want to be able to make that happen. Whether it's via this country or another country; a newborn or a toddler. I want to plan and "try" and breathe easy for once.

When a girlfriend tells me she's pregnant or trying to get pregnant, I want to rejoice. I want to kill the grumble in my throat and tell it to be happy. But, how can I feel differently? I know my issues are rooted in jealousy, resentment, and bitterness. And I hate it. I don't want to be this person. I don't want to be critical and cynical. But how do I help it?

I feel so two-faced.

All of me loves adoption and knows my place in it. Why can't I just find contentment in God's plan and timing and forget about all the fertile myrtles around me? It doesn't concern me or God's plan for my life.

My desire to make a baby is zero. I love the path we're on. I just wish it was less work.

God has been stirring my heart toward foster care for some time, but thoughts of walking back into the hoop-jumping circus exhaust me.

I cannot, however, ignore the stirs (that are beginning to feel like pushes). I requested information on adopting waiting children through foster care, last week. I know God will continue to hand-pick our family, but man is it scary. The process seems overwhelming and brings more questions than I have answers...

I remind myself that I felt the same way after our first agency meeting. Domestic adoption was unnerving, too. Open adoption terrifying.

And look what God did.

I don't know. I'm feeling so much. Sometimes I'm okay with not adopting a newborn again, but then get sad about giving up all that comes with it...

Then I look through the profiles of waiting kids, read their pleas for a family and know my heart is needed...

This will not be easy.

Having a mother choose her baby's family seems far more natural than a family choosing their child. It doesn't seem right. It's not right. No child should be made to feel like a puppy in a pet store window. I could barely make it through a handful of profiles without weeping.

I don't know what comes next.

I do know that we want Ty to have a brother. Or three or four. A sister, too.

Planning may not be possible, but praying is. So, tonight I'm praying. Praying that God will show us his way...and remove the ugly from my heart.