Monday, February 24, 2014

Little Miss

I told her I loved her for the first time.

It may not seem miraculous, but it was.

Babies are supposed to be easy to love. She was not.

She's cantankerous. Ferocious.

I prayed, last week, for God to give me a love for her. To help me understand her.

He did both.

She is only days into her fifth month and she's unlike any baby I've ever met.

Here's what the Holy Spirit has helped me come up with.

Little Miss was conceived into an atmosphere of complete chaos and heroine addiction. From the moment she came to be,  she had to fight for her life.

I only have small slivers of information from her early months, but what I have tells me that baby girl was forced to be a fighter...a survivor.

The pediatrician gives her an A+ for health and development. She's on target (or beyond) in every area.

She's a fighter.

Our first few days together left me in tears. I wanted to run. Send her back. Pretend it was all a dream.

She's not going through withdrawals or experiencing negative side effects to her birth mother's choices and she doesn't display any of the sensitivities or characteristics I read about. Yet. She is the most ornery little thing I've ever met.

She's a fighter.

Her little body is full of agitation with no ability to regulate it.

A few days in, I called Foster Mom. "I am not doing something right!" She wouldn't take a bottle from me. She screamed every time. I played with temperature, nipples, times, proportions, but nothing worked. She'd arch her back, twist and turn, then scream. Eventually, we'd get through the whole bottle, but it took forever.

Foster Mom confirmed that I was doing everything right, but hadn't experienced what I told her.

By accident God's mercy, I fed her a bottle, while eating my dinner and had her sitting straight up. She sucked the whole thing down without a peep. She wants to be upright. We haven't had a problem since. She's happy - as long as it's her way.

Everything she does is aggressive.

She is a fighter.

She just turned five months old and she will be crawling within days; walking in months. If she sees a toy on the floor she wants, she scoots and screams until she can, forcefully, put it in her mouth.

When I try to rock with her, she thrashes and kicks, clawing my face. I have to match her roughness with the strength of my hold and, loudly, "shush" her ear to settle her.

She hates getting her diaper changed, being strapped down in her car seat/high chair, riding in the car, being by herself, getting burped, sleeping, getting dressed, getting out of the bath, being rocked...and pretty much anything else you can think of.

She wants to do everything herself and needs very little coddling.

She is a fighter.

I spent our first several days together wishing God hadn't asked this of me...but then God removed me and inserted love...and I fell in love.

I fell in love with her fiery spirit and opinionated outlook. I matched her screams with indifference and respected her space with agreement. We spent the week warring, but by the end, we found mutual camaraderie. And we both settled in.

She loves being cheek to cheek and stops crying if I sing. She'll sleep (contrary to popular belief), if I let her do it on her own. When she's eating, she wants to hold my hand and knead...when she feels satisfaction, she buries her head for a hug. She searches the room when I leave and doesn't want anyone else to hold her.

She is a fighter.

She had to be. And I understand (now).

If she hadn't fought; I wouldn't know her, today.

I see glimpses of her future and I know God has a special plan. Her name has a compound meaning - war/strife and prosperity/fortune. I cried when I read that for the first time...

My strife-filled girl. My rich gift. My treasure.

She is a fighter that doesn't have to fight anymore...

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

New Mornings

It's amazing what a new morning brings. Now, several in, I feel more confident, less frazzled, capable.

We dropped Ty and LJ off at preschool today for the first time and introduced Sweet Boy to help him get used to another change. He was petrified. He had a death grip on my leg most of the time. I feel so deeply for him. I keep thinking about what it would be like to pick up Ty or LJ and set them into an entirely new life. Even if it was a great life with a great family, everything would be terrifying.  New people, new rules, new expectations.

His "tell" is stuttering. When he's anxious, he has a difficult time talking. I'm thankful for this small sign because it helps me know what he needs. It happens in the conditions you'd imagine - meeting new people, bedtime, talking about his future, etc. But it also happens at very unexpected times. Yesterday, he was crying in bed. He kept yelling, "Mom!" I went running in and asked him if he could tell me what he was feeling. He was so worked up.

"I -- I -- I am sc-sc-sc-aaa-red!" He was wailing.

Ok, buddy, I'm right here. What can I do to help?

His big, sad eyes looked right into mine. "I--I--I w--aaa-n-n-n-t my- my- my..."

I was certain he was going to say mom.

It's been very strange having him call me mom. I introduced myself as Rebekah, but by day two he started using mom. When he says "mom", it's forced, unnatural. I think we both feel like fakes. He doesn't mean it and I dont feel it. But, given the circumstances, we roll with it. "Fake it 'til you make it", right?

He didnt want his mom.

He wanted his stuffed goldfish. It had fallen on the floor.

I breathed easier, grabbed the fish, and snuggled him until he fell asleep.

I don't know if it's the ages or the amont of new children we just brought home, but this transition feel so much less organic.

Little Sis has connected to me right away and given our time together wants me over Ben. She will stare into my eyes for long periods of time and hold my shirt, tightly. As small as she is, I know she feels the change.

Ty is going to be her best friend (he already claims the spot).

It's been really interesting watching all the kids interact. Not surprisingly, Ty has not been phased by the transition.  He is very independent and confident. When I'm busy with someone else, he's happy to be at the table building puzzles or Legos. He has a new love for little Legos and building per the directions. I'm amazed at how long he'll sit there and work.

Ty gushes over his little sister and is happy to feed, play with her, and fetch diapers.

LJ is not overly interested in Little Miss, but more than we expected. He and Sweet Boy have really hit it off and he is thriving as a big brother.  He takes a lot of pride in telling his new brother the rules and showing him how his toys work.

His insecurity is coming out in his need to be close. Over the last six months, LJ has grown so much and has done a great job of expressing his feelings - "Mama, I'm sad" or " Mama, I need a hug". I am so thankful for this. Like Sweet Boy, it makes it so much easier to hear them ask for what they need.

LJ has asked for a lot of hugs, this week.

This morning, he was up, uncharacteristically, early (6am) and because Little Miss had already been up for her feeding, the four of us snuggled in bed together. It was such a sweet time. LJ loves his daddy more than anything on the planet and it gave him uninterrupted time to lay next to Ben, giggling at the baby.

Overall we've been giving LOTS of grace to all of our kids, as we all work through this, together, and find our places. I wish we could all be settled and feel like family with a snap of the fingers, but I know there is also a sweetness in this time. God gives me new revelations into my kids' hearts, while stretching my own capabilities, yearnings, and dreams. Now that I've mostly had a good night sleep, I can say this is good. Really really good.

I had good alone time with, Sweet Boy, today, while the boys were at school. We were eating lunch and I said, "I like you. It's fun having you, here."

He responded with, "Because, I'm sick."

I couldn't tell if it was a question or a statement. "What do you mean, honey?"

"I live here with you guys, now, in this town, because I'm sick."

My heart dropped. I didn't know what the right thing to say was. "'re not here because you're sick. Mom C wanted you to have brothers your age to play with. Do you know how much she loves you?"

Blank stare.

"You're, here, buddy because we're hoping that you will get to be a part of our family forever. No more moving...would you like that?"

Blank stare.

"Do you know blessed you are to have so many mamas that care about you? How many mamas do you have (I was digging a little)?

He thought for a few seconds and held up three fingers. Can you tell me who they are?

He pointed at me for one, then said, "My mom (Foster Mom/Mom C)...and that fat lady that had [sister's name]."

I bit my lip.

"Well that sounds like a lot of love for one special boy! Do you know what Ty calls his Mama that carried him in her belly? His first mama. Because she loved him first. Did you know that you and your baby sister have the same first mama?"

"No. That lady had [sister's name] in her big belly. Not me."

I didn't know where to go from there, so was thankful for his subject change. I guess it shouldn't surprise me that these delicate situations aren't explained well...but how could he not understand that him and his sister have the same mom? What does he think his purpose of visiting her is? I know she's been inconsistent at best, but we will, in time, explain her place in his life.

Right now, the visits have been limited to once per week and, thankfully, I get a phone call first. Birth Mom has to show up an hour before I bring the kids to the agency. I am appreciate of this. Not just for driving time, but for Sweet Boy. She didn't show for this week's visit (that's three in a row). I didn't even have to tell him about it.

We have a pre-trial coming up, here, pretty soon. I'm looking forward to attending, as it should help me put all the pieces together. I am hopeful after our home visit, this week, that we'll be able to petition the courts to adopt this spring.

Until then, we'll just keep taking it one day at a time...

Monday, February 17, 2014

A Hopeful Mama

Like every post-birth mama, I know. I'm crying and I couldn't even tell you why.

I'm pretty sure I'm delirious from the lack of sleep I got last night.

I love Ben.

He had to work, today, so last night I told him I was on duty. Had I known what that meant when I committed, I might have thought twice! Little Miss is so congested she can't breathe. We saw every hour. By 4:30pm, I plopped her in the middle of the bed and cried out to Ben, "I can't do this anymore!" He jumped up in response and said, "Just tell me what you need me to do."

I was asleep before I could answer, but reflecting, now, my heart is so thankful for him.

Caring for babies that you don't know or love, yet, is not easy. Throw in snotty noses and wheezing coughs and it's, nearly, impossible.

I drug myself out of bed, this morning, to feed Little Miss and Ty breakfast. The other two sleep as if they hit early puberty (gives me great morning time with Ty!)

Ty was his, normal, chatty, perky self. I, literally, had to bite back every initial response. I was so irritable and past exhaustion, I knew it would be a miracle if I made it through the day. God's grace was sufficient and I made it through the morning without hurting the heart of my most tender son.

Then one of my best friends texted. She took the day off work to come help.

I cried at the thought of a shower and extra set of hands. I'm crying, again, thinking about her love for me. She walked in the door, took the baby, and commanded charge.

I am so very grateful.

We had a nice family dinner and kept things light.

It's a strange dynamic. It feels like we're living a lie...but I don't know how else to live. We don't know what to say to Sweet Boy about his current situation, so we haven't said much. Tonight, he asked about going "home" (previous foster family). I turned the question on him and asked him if he'd like to go home. He said, "Maybe in 169 days," and then giggled. We told him that we like having him, here, and left it at that.

With a potential birth mother visit in the morning, "home" is a relative term, right now.

We're pretty much just operating on auto-pilot. I can't say that much of anything we do is purposeful, as we're just trying to survive. I'm thankful that when we don't have the ability to think or be creative, God swoops in and acts for us. I had a special moment, today, with each kid, that was enough to remind my heart of why we said, yes...over and over and over.

Sweet Boy and I have had very little interaction, as he has been pretty preoccupied with his big brothers and I've been tending to sickie.

Tonight, when the boys were getting pjs on, Sweet Boy smashed his finger in the drawer. He came running to me and for the first time, allowed me to scoop him up and be maternal. I held him tight and kissed his tears. I told him about how we handle boo-boos in our family (we have a "boo-boo frog" that, instantly, heals all infirmities, realistic or otherwise). As I held him and the boo-boo frog to his fingers, I thanked God for finding me moments to connect.

Today, was better than yesterday...two full days under our belts.

God is good. My eyes are tired, but my heart is hopeful.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Joy Comes in the Morning

At least a dozen times, today, we looked at each other and said some variation of "What were we thinking?"

Two kids at once? Four littles?

Not easy.

I just want to cry. But there's no time.

I am typing this from my phone as Little congested Miss sleeps for the first time for longer than twenty minutes.  I don't dare move.

I want the day over so that we can say we survived our first full day...but I don't want it to end because I have to do it all by myself tomorrow. And visit with their caseworker.

Sweet Boy had a hard night. Little Miss' was even worse. Thankfully, the boys have been playing really well together. The only major issue that we've noticed, so far, (other than pure exhaustion) is that LJ and Sweet Boy have become very territorial.

Sweet Boy called me "Mommy" for the first time at lunch. As natural as it sounded coming from his mouth, it was, equally, as natural for LJ to look at him and say, "That's not your mom. She's my mom." Without question it was rude (and we addressed it), but something in me soared that LJ, undoubtedly, knows me as mom.

Later, LJ said, "I love our baby sister so much." And Sweet Boy was quick to correct his inference - "She's my baby sister, not yours."

We're trying to give everyone an extra dose of grace as we, very unnaturally, try to become a family. Through all of Little Miss' crying, I had to whisper from across the hall "goodnight". It pained my heart. Not for Sweet Boy, who I know is still so unsure...but for my boys. No cuddles, no extra reassurance that all of this change doesn't change my heart for them. It's too much to think about.

Praying for God to give me a special love in my heart for these kids who've turned my life upside down...

My dad did remind me, today, that the weeping only lasts for the will come in the morning. I'm holding on to such a beautiful promise.  Though the weepy nights, may be is on its way.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Aren't you excited?

If you're easily offended please stop reading.

Everyone keeps using words like "Congratulations" and asking, "Aren't you excited?!?!"

I try to smile politely and nod, yes. But, excitement is not a word I would use to describe what I'm feeling.

I know it will come in the future.

I know we will look back and connect the blessings and cry with joy.

But, today?

Today, I am anxious. I'm nervous to bring them home;  concerned that they'll leave; worried about Sweet Boy and how to help him heal; terrified at the thought of what our life will look like with four littles; and (honestly?) unsure that I can really do this.

I was driving home the other day and, nearly, let panic overcome me. Life as I know is about to change in every way....and that is not comfortable.

I like comfortable!

Of course, as Believers, we are to be anxious about nothing. I know that deep down in my innermost parts. I do. I know it will be okay. I know that God will meet us. I know goodness will follow because we're walking in the will of God. I know all these things.

But, in the realness of these moments...the moments before our life changes forever, my insides are chaos. I wish I was stronger and could say that my feelings aren't fleeting and that my heart is always steady. But that's not real. Not for me.

The flip side in these manic moments is that I am able to draw from a well of peace. God only lets me get so far in my thoughts before he reels me in....assures me of HIS love...his power to overcome...his sufficient grace.

I am so thankful for his faithfulness to me. That my thoughts don't bring rebuke and my rawness isn't answered with wrath. I understand why his love is perfect...because it never fails me.

In the midst of my most fearful thoughts, he whispers in the wind...

We decided to be selfish and hold off from picking up Sweet Boy and Little Miss until Saturday. The last three-ish weeks have been so chaotic, Ben and I feel a lack of connection. We've been running separate ways trying to prepare...and we miss each other! Thankfully, foster mom was thrilled to keep the kids another day and even offered to keep our boys, so that we could have a date night.

So, that's what we're gonna do. Go to dinner, reconnect, and enjoy our love. We'll worry about our new life in the morning (smile).

I am so thankful for Ben; truly. I don't know another man that would have walked this path with me, so patiently and passionately, unhindered. What God has given us is special...I know he will meet us.

I've been digging this song, lately...and have been singing it as a prayer for my kids.

In the end, through my failing thoughts and frustrations, I pray that my kids will have seen him through me...

Thank you for standing with our family. We love you all.

Monday, February 10, 2014


I tiptoed into the boys room to check on covers. I was tasting success after Little Sis went down. Four kids and they were all asleep before 9pm.

Sweet Boy was staring back at me.

"Hi, buddy. Are you having a hard time falling asleep?"

Head nod.

"Can you tell me how you're feeling?"


"Can you tell me what hurts?"


"Ok...are you feeling scared?"

Head nod.

"Would you like to come rock with me in Little Sis's room?"

Head nod.

I picked him up and tried to cuddle him close. His back was rigid.

This is always the worst night. The night when I want to hug my babies tight, wash their fear, lather them in love, and kiss them silly. But I can't. I'm a stranger - one of many. I hate it.

We had a great visit on Friday. We spent about an hour with the foster mom, letting the boys get to know each other. They played as if they'd known one another from birth. Ben and I were struck at how easy it was being in public. Because we were an hour and a half from home, we had to spend our family time together at the mall.

I won't be able to use names or full faced photos for awhile, but I can share these few:

Little Sis has no shortage of protectors. All three boys are enamored with her and enjoy helping.

I was struck at LJ's fondness for her (it was unexpected) and how he lit up when she'd respond.

After a few minutes into our day, Ty asked, "Mom, can we keep them?" I spent my day watching Sweet Boy and assessing his emotions. He held his cards tight. It was hard to determine how he was feeling. It was clear to Ben and I that bonding with him would be more difficult than it was with LJ. He's older; more aware; and caught in a delicate balance of an unsure future.

Thankfully, Ty and LJ are the perfect distraction.

Little Sis, who I've affectionately been referring to as "little miss", is a complete baby doll. Interacting with her, you'd never know of her difficult beginning.

We never imagined that we would bring a baby home, again, (and boy is it a lot of work!) but I know that God has given her a special purpose in our family. Watching all of my boys with her, warms my heart in a way I've never experienced before.

Every time I turn around, I catch glimpses similar to this:

She is going to be raised by a village...

On our way home to drop the kids off, the boys, organically, started talking about doing a sleepover. They talked about where they'd sleep and what movie they'd watch. Sweet Boy was caught up in the excitement of it and I, quickly, got a chorus of whens, which made it easy to plan our next visitation time.

We picked Sweet Boy and Little Sis up, yesterday, afternoon, and had them through tonight.

I swelled at the fullness. God gave us this house for these moments...

As happy as I was to have our darlings, I was, equally, as happy to drop them back off. I am not disillusioned to how much work this is going to be. After two days with four littles, I am worn out! When we kissed and said our goodbyes, we reminded the boys that we would see each other, again, on Friday (move-in day). Ty looked at Sweet Boy and said, "That's when you come to live with us forever. Do you want to come over and never go home?"

I, nervously, looked back and saw a huge smile spread on Sweet Boy's face. "Yah!"

It's going to be a long journey. The part that hurts the most is that I can't assure Sweet Boy that we will, in fact, be his last home. That was the single most important piece of LJ's healing process.

I have spent the last several days pressing into the Father, asking him to touch the parts of  Sweet Boy's heart that I can't.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

First Impressions

Are you nervous? I looked over at Ben before we got out of the car.

"No. We traveled across the country to meet a woman pregnant with a baby that she wanted to give us. All on our own. The moment before we knocked on Rebekah's door was terrifying. This is easy in comparison." (Read about that experience, here)

So true.

We walked through agency doors to a love fest. Our case workers/supervisors were excited to see us, again, and oogled over recent pictures of our boys. Sweet Boy and Little Sister's case worker retold the story of how she found out about us. She had mentioned to our case worker that the goal had been changed for the kids on her case load. Our case worker whipped out our Christmas card picture and said, "You have to pick my family!" Everyone laughed. I thanked God for his providence.

Foster mom walked in with a pink covered car seat. She had dropped Sweet Boy off at preschool when birth mom did not show up for her visit, today. Watching her unzip the bundle was like waiting for Christmas.

I was about to see my newest lovie for the first time...

I had to bite back a laugh. Based on the phone description of the children, I was fully expecting a beautiful brown darling, but instead a very white and rosy, blue-eyed baby popped out (with wisps of reddish hair). Clearly the file was not altogether accurate.

She is every bit of perfect. Smiley, happy, healthy.

Foster mom, proudly, handed her to me and I cared for her during our visit.

For two hours we shared stories of our boys and dreamed together of all the fun and trouble the three would accomplish together. Sweet boy seems to be a beautiful mix of Ty and LJ. From skin color to personality, he resembles both of them in so many ways. Every other story I could relate to one of my own. I thanked God for hand-picking the right little people for our family. They each bring something to the table that the other needs. I love that.

I was in thankful awe of Foster Mom. We need more of her. She and her husband are faithful Christians, active in their church and community. Her generous spirit overflowed into every part of our conversation. She was emotional talking about transition time and her reason for requesting the placement. I couldn't thank her enough for her love. and time. and commitment.

She told me about all of the experiences that her family had shared with Sweet Boy and the growth they've seen in him.

I asked her to be a part of our lives forever.

We had such a mutual respect for one another, making decisions on how to progress was easy. One of the workers commented on how unusual, but refreshing, our camaraderie was. I don't understand why it would be any other way.

Based on all the conversation we had, today, I believe our transition will be smoother than expected. I still can't believe I'm bringing a baby home! Adding another four year old doesn't seem like a big stretch... "Add him to the pile..." (In Ben's words), but a baby? Not a part of our plan.

When we left the agency, I told Ben that I didn't feel normal. I feel like most women experience love-at-first-sight encounters and are smitten with their new children (adoptive or otherwise), instantly. I never do. I am fully on board this new adventure and can't wait to bring these lovies home, but I do not feel an overwhelming maternal bond - or even an underwhelming one, for that matter.

Ben agreed that I'm not normal...
...but, also, reminded me that I felt this way about each of our children (why discriminate now?)

I hesitate to even voice such things out loud. It doesn't sound so bad in my head. But, I try to stay true to this blog and give you my experiences in a raw format.

Yes, I get handed children and, initially, feel no earthly love, attachment, kinship, or bond. BUT (Thank goodness for God's redeeming "but"), my heart is overtaken by the love of the Father for these treasures. And I will care for them, knowing love is on its way.

We will spend our first day together as a family of six, this Friday. Both lovies should be moved in by next Friday.

What a wonderful full of promise and purpose.

Five years ago, I was still crying out to God in devestation and heartache. My heart cry, today?

Thank you, Lord for not healing my womb in your power.

Thank you for guiding us to a path better than our own...for opening our eyes to see this small slice of the world through yours.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Musical Beds

God has filled our hearts to the brim, this weekend. Not only are we at peace with our decision to say, "Yes", we are excited!

We spent the weekend getting ready!

What used to be my beautiful guest bedroom (man, was that short lived...we just moved in, last October)... now the "boys room":

We found these amazing triple bunk beds on Craigslist for a quarter of the price. They are only a few years old and they came with mattresses and Pottery Barn bedding (score!!)

We let Ty and LJ choose their beds; they, of course, chose the top bunks! This has made sleep time a bit more problematic...but we've negotiated an earlier start time so that they can still giggle and whisper. The lower bunk is for Sweet Boy. In the midst of musical beds, I made Sweet Boy a matching superhero cape to take to him on Tuesday. The case worker told me he couldn't get enough, when it comes to superheroes, so I hope it will be a big hit!

I still need to find Sweet Boy a special stuffed animal for him to hold tight (we gave LJ a dinosaur on the first day we met him and it has become an important part of his story and our family!); otherwise our third bed is ready/waiting for another little buddy.

 The boys got so tuckered out during the move that when things got quiet, I found them sprawled out in my bed!

 In the mean time, the "girls room" is under way. I gave the boys' old bunk beds a face lift!

The room is so large, that we decided to keep the bunk beds setup, in the corner, with the crib on the parallel wall. We enjoy having lots of extra beds around for guests, Little Sis will need a big bed in a year or so, anyway, and it might be handy having a bed for me in the nursery if the nights remain sleep-less!

I was hoping to get the crib setup, today, but was much too tired, by the time the bunk was primed and painted.

I really never thought we would bring another baby home and it certainly wasn't in our plan...but I am super excited. I can't wait to get up in the attic and unwrap all of Ty's treasures. I am most excited to find my wraps. Because Ty was such a particular bugger (still is!), I ended up wearing him everywhere for the first few months. It was such a beautiful way to bond and soothe. I'm looking forward to doing the same with Little Sis.

I feel like we started our week with a tentative, "Okay, Lord," but we're finishing with a thunderous, "Yes! Yes! Yes!"

The Holy Spirit worked through both Ben and me in church, this morning, and confirmed his hand on our life and family. He made no promises about whether or not these dearies will be with us forever, he only assured us his presence. And that's enough for us.
 We sang my favorite Rend Collective Experiment song, during worship, and I paused at these words:

We lay down our lives for Heaven's cause...We are the church.

Yes, Lord! I can't wait to see what he'll do with our sacrifice.

Tuesday is the big day!