Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Wonderful Pro-Life News! (UPDATED!)

Update 2/3/12: Susan G Komen has reversed their decision and will continue to fund Planned Parenthood. Thus, any statements I made in support of Susan G Komen have now also been reversed.

It's everywhere: on coffee mugs, on yogurt containers, on t-shirts, and even on appliances. What is it? It's that cute little pink ribbon, telling you that if you buy this or that, a portion of your purchase price will be donated to Susan G Komen, the largest Breast Cancer Research organization in the country (the world?) And for years, that little pink ribbon has been a way for me to identify exactly what I shouldn't buy. What's wrong with supporting Breast Cancer Research? Absolutely nothing.

However, for years, Susan G Komen has been a major financial supporter (to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars per year) of Planned Parenthood. The majority of Planned Parenthood's income is generated from abortion services, and they provide the majority of abortions in this country. Because abortion ends an innocent human life, I cannot offer my support to any organization that directly or indirectly enables abortions. So, the support SGK gave to Planned Parenthood always made me steer clear of the little pink ribbon.

A common response is to point out that in many states, the money was specifically earmarked for breast exams and other breast-cancer related prevention and detection services, and couldn't be used for abortions. While this is true, the problem is that by giving them that money, it just freed up Planned Parenthood to use more of its OWN money to offer abortion services. If I gave you $100 and told you that you HAD to use it to pay bills, and couldn't use it to buy cigarettes, you'd probably honor my request and use that $100 to pay your water bill. However, then you'd suddenly have an extra $100 in your bank account that you were planning to spend on the water bill, but now have freed up. You could be in complete compliance with my request for how you spend MY money, and I still would have inadvertently enabled you to buy cigarettes. So whether directly or not, Susan G Komen's support enabled further abortion services.

I was thrilled to read today that Susan G Komen has announced that it will stop its grants to Planned Parenthood. This is a huge financial loss for Planned Parenthood, which is always good news in my book. I realize that Planned Parenthood provides other services which are beneficial to women and not harmful to the unborn, but their primary business is abortion, and I'm thrilled to see that suffer a hit. It will be interesting to see what both organizations do in light of this breakup. SGK claims that the halt is due to a congressional investigation of Planned Parenthood. Does that mean they will resume funding if PP is cleared? Where will PP make its cuts to accommodate this change in their budget? Time will tell.

But for the first time ever, there might actually be a little pink ribbon in my house. I am inclined to send SGK a donation to voice my support of this decision. (I won't, because there are a lot of other, completely unrelated reasons I don't support SGK, but this is still awesome news!)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Happy Birthday, Matthewsaurus!

My littlest lovebug turned 1 year old today! I can't hardly believe it. We've had a whole weekend of celebrating, which is fitting, considering he took the better part of two days to actually deliver.

I was pleasantly surprised that despite my angst about its approach, once this weekend actually arrived, I was able to completely enjoy it without any sadness at all! OK, there was a flitting moment of sadness when I kissed him goodnight last night and realized it was my last time doing so with a <1 Year Old Matthew, but that was quickly squelched when he reached up and kissed me back (first time he kissed me goodnight--he's kissed me before but this was the first time he reached up and kissed me back as I was laying him down). An infant can't do that. And in that moment, I decided that 1 will be better than 0 because of all the new memories we still have yet to make.  My heart is so full!

I spent Friday preparing for a little party. First birthday parties are really for the parents and baby's other loved ones, so I didn't want to get carried away with something he won't even remember, and I didn't want to make things stressful for myself, but I also wanted to have some fun with it. With the help of Pinterest (seriously, if you don't have an account, you need one), I decided on a "Very Hungry Caterpillar" theme. Most of the thematic elements were food and colors, so I brought the color in through the paper goods, and the food from the book determined our menu. Then I just made a tissue-paper caterpillar, and we were done. Fun, cute, festive, low maintenance, budget-friendly, and with minimal waste. We just invited immediate family so as to keep it fun for Matthew, without being overwhelming. We had his party on Saturday and everything fell into place perfectly. He slept in late, so he was still awake when the party started--he's usually napping or extremely fussy by that time. He had his lunch, he opened his presents, and right about the time he was getting to tired for any more party, we hopped him up on sugar by giving him some cake. That gave him a little burst of fun and energy. He had a bath, we brought him home (we held the party at my in-law's house), and he napped.

The food:

I ordered the little food signs on Etsy. I didn't think to get a better photo of them:


Sitting with his presents:

A bow on my head...

Playing with a toy with daddy:

Waiting for his cake. Somehow, he knew something good was coming!


The verdict:

And finally, a family picture:

We had a quiet night at home last night, just the three of us. Overall, it was a lovely day, with many memories I will cherish.

This morning, we went to church, and then we went with our church friends out to lunch like we always do. I brought more cupcakes to share and friends brought gifts for him. We played with more frosting and then came home for a nap.

Tonight, the three of us went to Red Robin for singing and ice cream.

One of the funniest parts of all the partying was the constant look of confusion on his face whenever a big group would sing. Why are you all singing at me? It was so cute, and I admit, I exploited it--full blown singing, multiple times :)

We came home, played with him, gave him a bath, and put him to bed, blissfully ending a perfect weekend.

It's my birthday! Thank you very much!

I've spent the evening hanging out with DH, writing this blog, and processing pictures. I'm about to write Matthew a letter, and first birthday weekend will officially be over.

On a more sentimental note, in 1984, President Reagan created National Sanctity of Human Life Day.

In a January 13, 1984 proclamation, President Ronald Reagan designated January 22, 1984 as the first National Sanctity of Human Life Day. The date was chosen to coincide with the 11th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court case that first recognized the constitutionally-protected status of abortion in the United States.
Reagan issued the proclamation annually thereafter, designating Sanctity of Human Life Day to be the third Sunday in January, which represents the closest Sunday to the original January 22 date. His successor, George H. W. Bush, continued the annual proclamation throughout his presidency. Bush's successor, Bill Clinton, discontinued the practice throughout his eight years in office, but Bush's son and Clinton's successor, George W. Bush, resumed the proclamation, and did so every year of his presidency.
Matthew, whose very existence is a testament to the precious value of each human life, was born on the anniversary of SOHL Day. This year, the 22nd actually was a Sunday, so the observance and the anniversary both fell on the same day: today! Matthew's birthday! I love how God knit all these little details of our family together. It's so perfect that Matthew was born on Sanctity of Human Life Day!

We praise God for our sweet little boy, for each breath that he has taken, for every breath that he will take, and for all of the precious details that fill each of those breaths. Happy Birthday, Matthewsaurus!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Free Embryo Adoption Webinars!

Do you want to learn more about Embryo Adoption, from the experts? Are you a social worker or adoption professional who needs continuing education hours? Are you a clinic who would like to offer Embryo Adoption to your clients?

If so, consider participating in one or more of these 1-hour Webinars. All of these events are FREE and you can participate right from the comfort of your home or office, via your computer.

Title: Legal Issues regarding Embryo Donation and Adoption and How to Minimize Clinic Liability and Risk

Description: This webinar will cover the legal history of embryo donation and adoption and discuss current best practice methods to minimize clinic liability and risk.
When: Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Time: 12:00 noon EST

Title: Fundamentals of Embryo Donation and Adoption...new and improved!

Description: This webinar provides an overview of the beginnings of embryo donation and adoption. We will define terminology and cover the overall processes available to couples for both donation and adoption.
When: Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Time: 12:00 noon EST

Title: How Open is Open?
Description: This webinar presents the preconceptions and misconceptions that are often associated with the term " open adoption" . It includes a brief history of adoption and Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) and covers current adoption best practices surrounding donor and adopter family communication.
When: Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Time: 12:00 noon EST

Register for these great events here.

If these dates aren't convenient for you and/or if you're looking for more or different options, check out the Webinar Archive, here.

These educational seminars are all offered by the Embryo Adoption Awareness Center, which is affiliated with Nightlight, the Pioneers of Embryo Adoption.

(Belated) 11 Months

On December 22nd, Matthew turned 11 months old! I thought I should document this 11th month before it's over. I'm going to do my best to write retroactively, and only record things that were true on the 22nd. Everything else will go in his one year entry!

So here, goes!

Age: 11 months

Weight: 20lbs

Length: Unknown, but you have outgrown in length all of your 6-9 month clothes, and even your 9-12 month rompers

Diapers: Size 3--this is new. You were in 2s until very recently!

Clothes: Some of your 9 month clothes still fit if they are very long. Most of your 12 month things fit, but your rompers are too short, as are a couple of your pairs of pants, and your pajamas are almost so. I've moved you up to 18 months in the too-short things, and you just swim in them. It reminds me of when you were first born and you were swimming in pretty much anything you wore, and that reminder is ok with me.
Teeth: Still just the two. We thought you were getting another one, but nothing has come of it so far.
Eyes: Still blue
Skills: You are super fast at crawling and you're improving at cruising every day. You're just starting to try to climb things. At Grandpa and Grandma's house for a family gathering, you had free reign and the next thing I knew, you were almost completely on top of the toddler picnic table. You were making your last heft up when I caught you. I didn't even know you knew how to climb. You love to dive headfirst off the couch--I'm usually there to catch you but I don't even think you realize it--you're completely fearless in this regard. Your whole world is about up and down and up and down again.

Likes: You LOVE to dance. You have a mobile attached to the side of your crib. If you don't want to sleep or if you've just woken up, you frequently crawl over to the mobile, turn it on, stand up, and start dancing. You like to play fetch...with yourself. You'll get your favorite toy, toss it in front of you, go get it, and toss it again. It's darling. You're very vocal. You sing and talk almost nonstop. You love to make silly noises, and you love it when mommy or daddy makes a new one--you immediately set your mind to trying to recreate that noise. You love other kids. You stare at them when we're out in public and if we're at church or some other place where you have the opportunity, you love to play with them. You're usually the more quiet, observant one. You watch for a while before getting involved. If someone else takes your toy, you gladly find another. If someone uses you as a step-stool, you think it's fun. I love your forbearing nature. In that way, you're teaching mama a lot. You really really REALLY love the phone, especially when I'm on it. And having your own phone, even one exactly like the one I'm talking on, won't satisfy you. You have to have the SAME phone I'm talking on. You've hung up on people, dialed random numbers, and even answered a call or two. You still really like chicken. I think your favorite foods, in order, are chicken, pineapple, mangoes, yogurt, and broccoli. Really though, you love eating in general. You'd do it as a hobby if I'd let you.

Dislikes: You're becoming a little opinionated about not getting your way. Denying you the computer and the phone is the quickest way to elicit a tantrum. Aside from a few toys that scare you (for reasons we don't understand-they're very docile toys!), you don't have many things you dislike, aside from sitting still, and being told, "no." You have become a pretty good little sleeper. You eat most things I make for you. You get annoyed when I change your diaper, but only because it requires you to lie still for a minute. Otherwise, you don't mind it or clothing changes anymore. You don't seem to mind your hat or car rides anymore. Overall, you're a very easy going little love-bug who teaches me more about the world, about God, and about myself every day!

We love you, Matthewsaurus!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Our Infertility and Adoption Story

I thought I'd consolidate "our story" into one post, as a means of introduction to new readers and to seekers of information on Embryo Adoption. This could get a little long.

My husband and I met in college in California in the fall of 1999. At the end of 1998, the first Snowflake Baby was born, through the efforts of Nightlight, an organization whose headquarters were only miles from our university. Because of the geographical proximity of the two organizations to each other, the same media outlets covered both areas. I heard about Nightlight and Embryo Adoption through some local news story. I remember filing it away in my head saying "huh, that's interesting!" I didn't think anything of it again for almost 10 years.

In the fall of 2000, we started dating. We were engaged in 2002. During our premarital counseling, we both discussed wanting to adopt. I recently found a mandatory "bucket list" type of journaling assignment from one of my classes and right near the top of the list was "adopt."  My husband and I were vir.gins until we got married. My PCOS had not yet developed. His issue was one you'd only detect if you knew what to look for. So, since we'd never had relations, and since neither of us knew about our biological issues, we had no idea that we'd ever deal with infertility.  But, adoption was always on both of our hearts, anyway. For us, adoption was never "Plan B." We always envisioned building our family through a combination of both methods. We just didn't know that adoption was God's only plan for our family growth.

We were married in June 2003.

I had been on a birth control pill for years before getting married because they were the only thing that could help the horrible migraines I had had since 1997. And since I wasn't sexually active, I didn't ever really investigate the life-implications of the pill.  I remained on it after we got married, but a few months after our wedding, I did some reading up on it and decided that I didn't feel like it was consistent with my pro-life views, and I was wary of messing with my hormones long-term. So, a few months after we got married, we were officially "open to life" as it's called in the trying to conceive world. We weren't trying to get pregnant, but we weren't trying to avoid it, either. We were tracking my cycles with calendars and thermometers. We decided to leave it up to God. We were nervous that it might be too early in our marriage, but we decided that if we were going to trust God to bring us a baby in the right time, we also would trust Him to NOT bring us a baby before the right time. We had no idea what kind of surrender we were actually making at that time.

By January 2004, the "fence-sitting" had worn off and we were in full-blown baby-fever mode, actively trying to conceive.

Sometime in the spring, as we were preparing to leave on a trip with DH's parents, I found myself in bed, literally crying out in pain, clutching my abdomen. Todd's best friend, a med-student at the time, was in town and staying with us. Jon heard me and came to figure out what was wrong. He asked me some questions and strongly encouraged me that what I was feeling was not normal and that I should call a doctor right away. I called my Primary Care doctor and had an appointment fairly quickly. This primary care doctor was very elderly, and very conservative, doing a nominal amount of tests and prescribing a minimum number of medications. Though a pregnancy test came back negative, he told me that I was in an early pregnancy(too early to register on a test) and was likely miscarrying and that was the source of my pain. He put me on strict bedrest and sent me home. We canceled our trip (and I'm still bitter about it to this day--it was a trip to the Hotel del Coronado--a place I've always wanted to go and which we will never go on our own accord!--silly doctor! He owes me a trip to the Del!)  Being naive as I was, I had no idea that what he was telling me was a load of hooey.

As you can guess, I wasn't pregnant and I never miscarried, but the pain went away, so I stopped thinking about it. In October, the pain happened again. I went back to him (still didn't really realize that what he'd told me the first time was so radically off). He said that maybe I had a cyst that had either ruptured or was stretching in growth. He suggested I see an OB. I had never seen one-I'd never even had an annual exam until right before my wedding. I was super nervous.

I had just a few months prior started working for Arizona Right to Life and I met a pro-life OB/GYN at a conference I helped coordinate. He was an intelligent, kind, ethical man who shared my same pro-life convictions. Having met him professionally first and having a positive impression of him, I felt a little more comfortable calling him about what was then such a deeply private matter to me, than I would have just showing up at the office of someone from the phone book and disrobing.  I also appreciated that he was as pro-life as I am, so I knew that anything that would come our way in terms of advice or treatment from him of anything would be entirely consistent with our beliefs. He'd also just started his own practice, so since he was small, I knew I'd always get to see him. So, we went to see Dr. L. We were in his office about 10 minutes when he said, "It sounds like you have PCOS and like you have some cysts that are causing your pain." He did some bloodwork and investigating of the cycles I'd had. At a followup meeting, he did diagnose me with PCOS and he or someone he referred me to (I can't recall), also did an ultrasound and found a rather large cyst on the ovary near where I'd had so much pain. Right after the first of the year, I had surgery to remove the cyst. Despite fears that he might have to take my ovary, he did not have to. He also put me on met.formin. So far as we all knew at that point, PCOS was the source of our inability to conceive, and we thought we were in the clear. We thought we'd get pregnant right away.

So, January of 2005 started the real roller coaster. We knew we had a problem. We thought we'd fixed it. And we were aggressively trying. This was when we went through the all-too-familiar-to-infertile-people scenarios of scheduled sex, anxious two-week-waits, wasted pregnancy tests, countless pregnancy announcements from friends, and buckets of tears. But, I was cycling regularly (I always had--a-typical of PCOS), so we still thought it was just a matter of time. This was a particularly hard time because there was nothing to "do" to hasten along our chances--we just had to wait. I hate waiting ;) We waited through all of 2005, all of 2006, and most of 2007. It really didn't occur to me that there might be some other kind of problem. We just thought we were dealing with tricky PCOS odds exclusively.

In 2007, my best friend (who also has PCOS) got pregnant. She had undergone and HSG and her doctor at the time suggested that the HSG was what helped jumpstart their ability to conceive. I went to my doctor and asked about one, and he agreed it was a good place to start.  Honestly, I didn't really think it would find anything, but I hoped that maybe it would be my magic cure-all, and it would "clear things out." I dreamed of us being pregnant together.  So in November, I scheduled mine and also requested that we test DH, "just in case." Note to the wise--my HSG was horrifically painful. Always, always, start with testing on the man. It's so much easier and less invasive! Had we done DH's test first, we could have avoided the whole nasty HSG experience! But, I digress.

We went to our follow up appointment with Dr. L. He went through my HSG results and then he quietly said that he also needed to talk to us about DH's tests. He told us that DH's tests showed that he had no little swimmers. None at all. I couldn't process what he'd just said. It didn't make any sense to me. I'd never heard of a person having none. I asked him if there was some mistake or if maybe we'd done it wrong and he said that it was unlikely. In the event of user or lab error, there would still likely be dead ones in the sample. But this was just totally void.  I asked if there was any kind of hormone he could take that would make them. Nope. He encouraged us to take the test again and to schedule an appointment with a urologist. We did, but something in me already knew that everything he'd told me was correct. We went back and forth the rest of the day between shock, disbelief, and devastation. We came home and sent an email to our families, asking them to pray.

We had an appointment with the top urologist in the state. As such, the wait to see him was very long and our appointment wasn't until January.

I'd been a member of an online scrapbooking message board for many years. When we first got married and moved here, I didn't know anyone and I was lonely for some friends, so I spent a lot of time on this message board. One of my friends there had struggled with infertility, and she had mentioned Hannah's Prayer to me sometime during that 2005-2007 time. That dreadful November night, I decided to look up HP, which is an online Christian infertility support group. I remember posting an introduction, telling people that my name was "Jane." I told them it was a pseudonym, and I was using one because I said I just couldn't own permanent IF yet. I wasn't ready to be "Jen" and have this news. I started reading and developing some friendships. I also started devouring every Christian IF book I could. One book, The Infertility Handbook, was particularly helpful in helping me understand all of our options, the medical procedures and medications on the horizon, and the bioethical concerns of each option.  

During that time between November and January, we spent a lot of time praying, researching, and talking. One day, that little tidbit about Embryo Adoption that I'd tucked into my brain so many years before was brought to the forefront of my mind and heart. I told DH about Embryo Adoption and he was intrigued so we did some research. We wanted to wait and see what the specialist said before making any decisions, but we were pretty confident that we would be pursuing it. Here we were, already with hearts for adoption, built in such a way that the only reproductive part that worked between the two of us was my "oven," and faced with the awareness of 400,000 frozen children who were all in need of "ovens" and people willing to love them when they were done baking. It was a no-brainer for us. At that point, it felt as if we were made to do this. Honestly, I never looked back on biological children once those things "clicked" for me.

We saw the Urologist in January and he verified Dr. L's results. He did some blood work and genetic testing and diagnosed DH with Klinefelter's Syndrome, which means DH has an extra chromosome. For some reason they don't understand, that extra chromosome often renders men sterile.  Looking back over DH's life, we were able to identify some key indicators of his condition, but neither we nor his parents had ever heard of KS, nor were any of his characteristics THAT exaggerated, so no one really knew there was a problem or what to look for until we had a rear-view mirror. We were glad to have a diagnosis and a treatment plan for DH (KS needs to be treated for health reasons, regardless of reproductive plans), but thankfully, we weren't really surprised by the verification of the sterility. We saw it more as a "full speed ahead" for Embryo Adoption, which we were growing increasingly excited about.

On February 1, we made our plans official and sent in an application to Nightlight.  DH and his dad worked on some business endeavors to earn the money for our adoption. God opened the floodgates of blessing and provided for us in some mighty, mighty ways. Within months, we had all of the thousands of dollars needed to proceed. We enrolled in adoption education classes at a local agency (Nightlight is not licensed in AZ) and began our homestudy. At the time, I couldn't find anyone else blogging about Embryo Adoption and I couldn't find a lot of first-person information, so I started blogging ours. With Nightlight's help, we met some other Arizona Snowflake families and started asking them about their experiences.

Meanwhile, I continued to get involved in Hannah's Prayer. I eventually was able to be known as myself there and to "own" our story. Through HP, I met a woman named Sheila. Hannah's Prayer is broken down into all sort of categories--by diagnosis, by which child you're trying to conceive (first, second, etc), by treatment plan, by age, by place in your journey, by type of adoption, etc. Sheila is 10 years older than we are, has 3 children, went through IVF, and was at the end of her TTC journey. I was a 20 something, praying for a first child, spending time mostly in the Embryo Adoption, the Primary Infertility, and the Male-Factor infertility forums while she spent her time in the forums for IVF, for Parents of Multiples, etc. The boards have thousands of members, so our paths didn't cross for a long time.

One day, she started reading the EA forums. On the HP EA forums, most participants are people looking to adopt, not people looking to place, so she mostly just lurked .Other ladies from other parts of the board knew her and her story and she had even been asked for her embryos. I didn't know this history at all. Meanwhile, DH and I were really struggling to make a decision about open adoption. Quite innocently and ignorant of all of the other emails she was getting, when she posted one day about wanting to find information for placing families, I emailed her and asked her if she could tell me a placing parent's side of the story and help me understand what they go through better, so that I could have a better understanding when making a decision on openness. That was really the only interaction we had for a long time.

I was blogging our IF journey. Our homestudy and adoption education completed without a hitch. I was still blogging our journey. One day in April 2008, Sheila contacted me. She said that months prior, she had followed the link on HP to my blog and began reading. She said that God had put us on their hearts and she and her husband would like us to consider adopting their 12 embryos. We prayed, talked, and emailed a lot. One of our non-negotiables was that we still go through Nightlight. They were fine with that. In July, we met each other face to face. We all agreed to pray on how things had gone. Later they contacted us and formally told us that they chose us. We accepted. We went through Nightlight as a "self-matched" arrangement. Nightlight coordinated the legal documents, the shipping of the embryos, etc.

In September, the embryos were here. None of us could believe how quickly everything had happened. In early November, I underwent my first Frozen Embryo Transfer. We learned soon thereafter that I was pregnant and we were overjoyed. However, just several short weeks later, I miscarried. To say that we were devastated was an understatement. But beyond that, we were confused. God had opened every door and given us green lights throughout our entire adoption process. To be halted like that just didn't make sense to us. We grieved for a long time. I wasn't ready to jump back into the fire and try again, only to have my heart broken. We were also displeased with a lot of things that happened at the clinic we had gone to for transfer #1. We spent 2009 with me trying to lose weight and with finding a new clinic, becoming patients there, and moving the embryos. In December 2009, we underwent a second transfer with two embryos. Our hearts broke a little more when we found out that transfer had failed and that we now had 4 babies in heaven, instead of just two.

We spent the spring of 2010 saving up money for another transfer. We underwent a transfer on May 17th, again with two embryos. We were delighted to learn on May 24th that we were pregnant again. I was sick almost immediately, which we took to be a good sign. On June 9th, we had our first ultrasound and learned that we were pregnant with one child. We grieved for the loss of Matthew's sibling, but our heart soared to see his little heartbeat. In September, we learned that Matthew was a boy and that he was perfectly healthy. My due date was January 30th. On January 21st, I went into labor. 30 hours later, my darling little boy was born, 7 years to the month after we first started trying to have him, and on the 27th anniversary of Sanctity of Human Life Day. Now here we are, about to celebrate his first birthday. He his healthy, vibrant, and growing and we love our life with him. The journey of 7 years makes sense when we realize he didn't even exist when we first started trying. We can't imagine our life without him and are so grateful God chose us for him. He was worth the wait.

We anticipate completing another transfer in the spring of 2013. We will ultimately transfer all of our remaining 6 embryos, until all of them have had a chance to be born.

And that's our story! We are humbled to look back and see how God prepared us for this, from the way he made our bodies, to where went to college, to how we met people, to the timing of everything.  His ways are marvelous indeed and though it took me a long time to see a purpose in our wait, I am grateful for it now. I pray that I will remember this trust and gratitude as we take the next steps in our journey.

Thanks for reading. Please feel free to ask me any questions you may have!

Monday, January 9, 2012

A Surprise Leftover From Infertility

Lots of people say that you struggle with your infertility all your life. Aside from the occasional internal eyeroll when some starlet whose lifestyle is clearly incompatible with parenting gets pregnant, I don't generally think that's the case with me. Maybe because I can see now that Matthew was the reason we had such a long wait, I don't find myself struggling so much with seeing the commercials about parenthood, hearing the tear-jerker songs, attending a baby-shower, or passing a pregnant woman in the mall. For some IF women, those things will still always be a painful reminder of what was so hard for them to come by, regardless of how many children they do or don't have at this point in their journeys. At least right now anyway, I'm content with "just" having Matthew (in arms), so those things don't bother me, thankfully.

Thus, for the most part, I don't really think of us as "infertile" anymore. I mean, we are, medically. We always will be. But right now, our infertility actually provides a sort of freedom for us. We don't have to deal with the ethical dilemmas of birth control, but we also know we won't be surprised with another pregnancy and birth sooner than we feel we're ready for one.

So it's taken me a little off guard that our infertility has affected my parenting.

In some ways, it's actually been really helpful. All those sleep-deprived nights, all (most) of those times I was throwing up so much in pregnancy, all those little battles of the will I have with Matthew--they're easier to weather if I remind myself how desperately I longed for this life. Not in a "you asked for it-suck it up, buttercup" sort of way, but in a "this temper tantrum right now is still better than life before temper-tantrums" or a "remember all those times you thought you'd give anything to have this kind of 'problem'" sort of way. I've been able to give myself many a pep-talk by thinking this way. That doesn't mean that there aren't hard days--those of you who read my blog through my pregnancy know I HATED when other people gave me those pep talks while I puked.  Today is one of those less-than-stellar days. Matthew has been cranky and willful and stubborn all day. He's thrown as many tantrums as he has toys, and he's been disobedient, and he's refused to take the naps that would help snap him out of this. Thankfully, he finally is sleeping now, and I have some time to decompress. Just like "first world problems," where most of the rest of the world would love to trade places with westerners and their complaints, this is a "parenting problem" and I am cognizant that there are thousands of couples who would give anything to be in our shoes, dealing with a day like today, and so that helps me refocus and perk back up pretty quickly.

But there are other ways where I've been a little surprised by myself. The biggest thing I'm struggling with is having peace with the passing of Matthew's infancy. Everyone says things like "Oh, it goes by so fast!" but you don't really realize how fast until you're here. Couple that with the fact that I feel like I spent the first 6 months of Matthew's life in a sleep-deprived stupor, and things are just whizzing by entirely too quickly. There's a part of me that whines, "we waited 7 years for this and now it's passing in the blink of an eye!" The 9 months of pregnancy, or any one year in the 7 all passed by much more slowly than this year has. I don't know if it's the fact that there's no guarantee that we'll ever get to do this again, or if it's the fact that when you wait a long time for something you want to relish it slowly, or the fact that there are fewer *big* milestones in our past than there are in our immediate future, or the fact that a lot of the "firsts" are now passed (first Easter, first Christmas, etc), or what, but it's been a source of discontent for me. His birthday is in 2 weeks, and I've been in complete denial about it. Not a cute sort of whimsical denial but a "this isn't happening, ever" sort of denial. And I need to snap out of it. It's not fair to Matthew, and it's not representative of the gratitude I have for his life. I am coming around, slowly. It's one of those things I need to work through on my own, even though everyone tells me that "every age is the best age" and "enjoy this current time, don't think about the past time." I know those things are true, I just am working on really internalizing them. Trust me, I don't need to hear them again. I lecture myself enough ;)

So anyway, I'm dealing. And I've made a lot of progress since Christmas. This weekend I even made plans for a little get-together with the grandparents for his birthday, and I ordered some party supplies last night. I even have a theme and some cute plans (I'm not telling, though!) I'm not as melancholy as I sound (at least I'm not anymore), but I have really been surprised at how much this has affected me. So, I suppose it's true that IF will somehow always be a part of us, and I'll just have to be on the lookout for these sly little ways it sneaks in to surprise me and try to steal my joy.

In the mean time, I'm off to look for a time machine... ;)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Go With the Flow

If there could be a mantra for open adoption, it would be, "Go with the flow." Our contact and relationship with Matthew's placing family continues to ebb and flow. Every time we think we have things arranged in a way that works for everyone, something changes. Sometimes we're in regular contact. Other times, we're not in contact at all. Other times, it's in between. Sometimes we're in relationship, and sometimes, we're just in contact.  Now is one of those in-between times.

To be honest, the constant ebbing and flowing is difficult for my personality, which thrives on consistency. Thankfully, I think we all have reached a place in our journey where we can be honest with each other's family about what we need, what we think, etc. Most recently, the placing parents contacted us to say that they needed less contact with us in order to manage their own journey. So, we adjust. Maybe one day they'll want something different. Maybe they won't. Maybe our expectations will change, too. Like I said, ebb and flow. Since none of us has been here before, none of us knows what to expect before we get to each step in our journeys. Parenting is already a huge faith-grower for a control-freak, but adding open adoption to the mix just makes the control freak's head explode sometimes. I'm grateful for the honesty we can maintain between our families. It didn't happen without help. Last summer, we had a 3 hour phone mediation with Nightlight, where we were all able to ultimately get on the same page. But nothing about open adoption is easy. Everyone involved has to open their heart up and allow the child's best interests to set the course.

If you're in an open adoption, remember that you chose it because you decided it was the best plan for the child involved. The adults get to choose their situations. The children do not. It's up to the adults to lay aside preferences, opinions, and plans in favor of preserving the triad in a manner that is ultimately respectful of everyone, but especially the child. If you're finding yourself in a place of confusion, or uncertainty, or change, take heart. It's the nature of things in this kind of world. You are not alone, and nothing is necessarily wrong. This is likely, new for everyone involved in your situation, so take on a heart of grace and forbearance, because everyone is learning the ropes. In embryo adoption, everyone in the world is still learning the ropes. Combine new territory with fleshly hearts that can struggle, and you have a recipe for disaster...or beauty. At the end of the day, what matters is to love everyone involved. Love the other parents in your triad. Love the child. Above all, love the God Who brought your two families together. That kind of love is beautiful. It's the kind of love that led to your triad in the first place, and in the end, the love and ministry of that triad to everyone involved and to Heavenly Father is far more important than any little details in the meantime.

Blessings, dear ones! It's worth it! Press on!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! We pray that this greeting finds all of you safe and well! Things are just starting to return to "normal" here in our home. We've had a lovely Christmas season and are thankful for the new beginnings that continue to greet our family.

Christmas is a crazy-busy time for us. It is for most people, but added to the mix is the fact that my birthday, both of my parents' birthdays, and my only sibling's birthday all fall the week of Christmas, too. And birthdays were always a big deal in my family growing up so we always spend at least part of the day with the birthday-person, doing whatever activity they like. So, needless to say, we've had a whole week of partying around here! Fun, but tiring! We also had company; my parents stayed with us from just before Christmas until today. It's been a whirlwind!

Despite all the hustle and bustle, we tried to keep Christmas itself pretty simple. Baby's first Christmas is really pretty amazing. There's something so sweet about the innocence in their eyes. And thinking about Mary and Joseph and their newborn son when you've got your own young son in your arms is a special kind of eye-opening. I will always cherish this season we've had and the experiences we had as a family, the ways we've come to know and understand God better, and the deep joy we experience with this precious boy in our home.

We  participated in a lot of seasonal activities like baking, going Christmas caroling, looking at Christmas lights, going to a Christmas Party, attending a Christmas concert, and of course, attending church as normal. I LOVE that Christmas Eve fell on a Saturday, making Christmas morning a Sunday, so we got to attend church both Saturday night and Sunday morning. I wish Christmas could fall that way every year--it's so perfectly appropriate to spend the celebration of Christ's birth in fellowship and worship with other believers.

At home, we tried to keep things simple. We purchased just a few small toys for Matthew. The grandparents gave him practical and/or sentimental things. We don't "do" Santa Claus in our home so that keeps things pretty simple, too. After Christmas Eve service, we opened stockings (which we stuff for each other-no Santa needed). We read Matthew the Christmas story and put him to bed. Early the next morning, he saw the Christmas presents under the tree for the first time. That was sweet. Babies don't care what's in the packages-they just love the colors and bows. I love the innocence. We attended church, and came home. We put Matthew down for a nap which gave me time to put lunch together. We had both sets of grandparents and my brother over for a leisurely afternoon. Matthew opened his presents, and we all enjoyed watching him play.

My dad and DH both returned to work this past week, but my mom and I had some time to hang out this week, which was nice. We'll celebrate Christmas tomorrow with DH's brother and their parents, and then Tuesday ushers back in our "normal" life. Baby has woken so I must wrap up suddenly, but I'll leave you with a photo or two:

Momma, there's a bow on my head:

Christmas morning

Our Christmas Card

And lastly, a little video. My brother gave Matthew this big musical toy thing. Matthew LOVES music. LOVES it. He dances whenever he can. He even dances to "Away in a Manger" on his Nativity. So here he is, boogying down:

Ok, bye! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!