The Other Mothers

Mother’s day can be such a hard day for so many. On such a day, remember to honor the women in your life who may not have children to recognize them on this day…

lonely

The Mother that held her child as they passed from this life.

The Mother that lost her baby in her womb – well before she could even hold them in her arms.

The Mother who is scarred by a decision she made to end her pregnancy.

The Mother who chose another family to be her child’s parents.

The Mother that is still waiting to meet her child – whether separated by oceans or infertility.

The Mother who doesn’t know where her child is right now and is scared to think of it.

The Mother whose baby is in the NICU – wrapped in cords, instead of in her arms.

The Mother who has opened her heart to foster children, and endured the anguish of their indefinite return to a previously abusive home.

 

I hope you are recognized and honored today, dear Mothers – because it’s not a card or flowers or any other recognition that makes you a good Mother. It is your deep, deep love for your children. Love that likely seems invisible to most on a daily basis, but which weighs heavily in your heart and soul each and every day.  May it be their lives – and not their loss – that carries through the good days and the bad. ❤  After all, more than anything, what you really want is for your babies to be remembered and cherished – both the ones you are waiting to hold and the ones whom you’ve already had to let go.

Through our struggle with infertility, the scripture below is what carried me through. It is the outpouring of a man crushed with grief and doubting God’s goodness and faithfulness. Expressing how every day feels like a thick fog clouds his mind. How the pain is so deep, it feels like physical suffering. How hope seems impossible.

But hope is never impossible. God is keeping your babies in His arms, so that one day you will be united. Until then, seek the Lord. Go to Him with your grief. You still have a purpose for being here in this life and your children are counting on you to make your pain count for something.

Lamentations 2:16-26

16 {God} has broken my teeth with gravel;
he has trampled me in the dust.
17 I have been deprived of peace;
I have forgotten what prosperity is.
18 So I say, “My splendor is gone
and all that I had hoped from the Lord.”

19 I remember my affliction and my wandering,

the bitterness and the gall.

20 I well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me.
21 Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:

22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”

25 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
26 it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.

Raffle Rebel

So apparently I have been getting “cease and desist” emails from youcaring.com for doing a raffle with our donations. Only, I set the site up with my “junkmail” email address, so I wasn’t getting them. Then yesterday, I noticed that our account was suddenly deactivated, and when I tried to make it active, it wouldn’t even let me.

It looked like it would let me… the box was white and empty, not ghosted out like there was a problem.

Frustrated, I tried refreshing the page.cease-and-desist-stamp

Nothing.

So I tried it again.

Nope.

And again.

And 7 more times.

All the while, muttering unintelligible sighs and groans of sadistic intentions for my computer.

Poor Tyler…

Tyler: What’s wrong?

Me: (squinting angrily at the computer and click-clicking away) Oh, our account is deactivated again and I… mmm arrrrghhhhh whaaa??? Ughhhh!!!!!

Tyler: Why is it deactivated?

Me: Um, I don’t… grrrrrr, REALLY???? C’mon…

And so on and so forth.

Finally, I thought maybe I need to use firefox. Except I wasn’t logged in on firefox and couldn’t seem to remember my password. So I clicked the “password reset” button and that’s when I noticed that the email associated with our account is my junk-mail account.

Oops.

That’s when I noticed youcaring had sent me 4 emails already. Very kind emails, I must say. But emails requiring me to edit out the “raffle” part of my Fundraising Information. Thankfully, as soon as I edited that and emailed them, they re-activated our account.

Anyway, all that is to say: you can still donate for the raffle. Just view the prizes on my “Enter the Raffle” page here on the blog, click the “Donate to Cheyenne and Tyler’s Adoption” button on the top Right sidebar or the very bottom if you are on a mobile device. Then you can still leave a comment with your donation or message me your prize choice on our facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/CheyenneandTylersAdoption or through my personal facebook. Or if you know me, just let me know.

Sorry for making things so complicated. I had thought the raffle would be a fun way of showing our appreciation to people for donating, but it seems like we keep running into obstacles with it: people have been confused about how it works, we were asked not to post about it at work, and now this thing with youcaring…

Though my degree is for Non-profit work, let’s just say I’m not going to be any kind of Fundraising Manager anytime soon. Or, ya know… ever.

P.S.  4 more days to Approval!!!

Oh the Places You’ll Go, Monkey

Oh the places you’ll go

As a child’s stuffed monkey

One can only imagine

Sights grand, and smells funky.

The baby store shelf

Was only the start.

Then into our hands

And touring on cart.

Aisles of snot suckers, baby wipes,

diaper genies,

Your destiny, Monkey,

Was not meant for weenies.

 100_3058

It wasn’t too long,

Before this became clear

As you soon became tissues

For a baby girl’s tears.

Pacifier, comforter,

Playmate, and friend,

No one can offer

The same perks that you lend.

A nice tail to suck on

Soft body to squeeze

Long arms for helping

Pick-up books, shoes, or cheese.

   100_6427

But the places you’ll go,

We don’t even know!

Wherever she takes you,

Our love for you grows.

Car rides and meal times,

Shopping and napping.

To Grandma’s and Grandpa’s

Or when we go camping.

Then washing and scrubbing

But always real sneaky

Or your best friend will miss you

And start to get weepy.

In summary, friend,

Our apologies please

For the drool and the dirt,

The occasional sneeze.

But the places you’ll go,

We don’t even know!

Wherever she takes you,

Our love for you grows.

And when you retire

To a shelf once again,

Know you’ll always be cherished,

As our girl’s childhood friend.

31

For when she goes off to college

Or moves for a job,

You’ll come out of retirement

To muffle my sobs.

Our Story: In Vitro

In honor of Infertility Awareness Week, I thought I would share a little bit more about our story. I’ve already mentioned that Elise came to us through In vitro Fertilization, but haven’t spoken much on what the journey was like leading up to our triumphant pregnancy. Here is an excerpt from my private infertility blog:

It was quite the journey to get to this place: over a year trying to conceive on our own and two years doing various fertility testing, treatments, and even a surgery. I think I counted that I had over 100 injections in 2013. It was expensive and painful and a true challenge in our relationship too. We had to make decisions about spending and saving and what kind of treatments we were willing to try and when – while also being violently jerked around on an emotional roller coaster that crested in hope just before plummeting into disappointment. Each successive month brought growing desperation for two pink lines, only to come crashing down with every glaring-white test window.

not pregnant

They knew me by name at the Fertility Center. Not the place you ever want to be recognized. Like, ever.

Finally, we decided we would give In Vitro one chance and if we didn’t get pregnant, we would move to adoption.

We decided we would do one “fresh” IVF cycle in which I would take injections that would help body to produce multiple eggs, that would be “retrieved” once they were big enough to be fertilized.

“Retrieved”…  It makes it sound like an alien spaceship mystically abducts your eggs. Let’s just say if you think you’re afraid of needles now, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

Anyway, after the retrieval, they would try to fertilize the eggs, with the hope of having two embryos to “transfer fresh” and two to four more to freeze for the future.

To be honest, the only real memory I have of the retrieval is this: After receiving the general anesthesia, they wheeled me into the procedure room. My anxiety started to ease as the medicine worked its magic. I strained to find Tyler who was sitting behind me to give him a quick hand-squeeze.

But when I looked over, I was startled to see Santa sitting there watching over me instead! Was I in the wrong room? What was going on here?!!?! Something about his funny blue beard made me think, Wait… something isn’t right here...

That’s when I realized it wasn’t Santa, but Tyler all “scrubbed-up” and wearing a sterile chin and hair net.

And thank goodness for that. Anesthesia is a powerful thing, lemme tell ya. How creepy would it be to have a Santa sitting in your operating room? I think the image has scarred me for life.

Two days after the retrieval, we returned to the Fertility Center, full of excitement and hope. The hardest part was over.

Well, except for the 8 weeks of progesterone shots in your booty. But even that didn’t bother me. I was too eager for the transfer.

Upon the doctor’s entrance, he handed me an ultrasound picture. It was of two embryos. He told us solemnly that of the 18 eggs they had retrieved, these were the only ones that had fertilized. My heart sunk and my throat tightened. Transfers only have a 40% success rate.

The doctor recommended transferring both embryos. Following the transfer, I laid in a recovery room to rest. My arms hugged the precious photographs to my body.

So this was it. No frozen cycles if it didn’t work. No more treatments of any kind. Our journey of trying to conceive was ending. I prayed, thanking God that no matter the outcome, this journey had brought Tyler and I closer to each other. At the thought of those two tiny embryos, warm tears that left cool trails down my face. When a single finger gently poked my forehead, I opened my eyes to see my playful, thoughtful husband staring down at me, waiting for me to tell him what was on my mind. It was a gesture one of my favorite children’s’ book characters did, and I laughed at his goofy way of acknowledging my emotional leakage.

When I finally got my first positive pregnancy test, I cried and laughed and stared. I couldn’t put it down. I had bought pregnancy tests in bulk from Amazon and had never seen this before. Who knew a dollar store pee-stick would be such a powerful symbol of triumph.

**********

563513_10151672421742399_540762728_nElise has changed our world. Just this weekend, Tyler went in to wake her from a nap and motioned for me to come. Our silly toddler was sleeping on her back with her hands behind her head, like she was bathing in the sun. So simple, but priceless to us. She entertains us daily, and I can’t begin to describe the joy I feel when she shoves her way to the front of the crowd of children hovering around the church nursery door, all the time giggling and exclaiming “Maaaa-maaaaa!!!!”

All we knew while we were waiting is just how much we didn’t know we were missing out on.

We can’t wait to meet baby #2!

Stop And Smell the… Easter Eggs?

When I first spoke with our caseworker Sherri on the phone to set up our first Home Study visit, she gave me a nice long list of things to do: schedule physicals, get fingerprinted, have our well-water tested, get a vaccination record for our puppy, and contact our references.

“Oh, and can you have your Daycare provider write up a reference for Elise too?” she asked.

Immediately my mind went to the image of Elise chasing down one of her “friends” for a toy.

My response was delayed. “Well…” I said, “I’m sure she would. I just want you to know that Elise is going through the whole toddler-thing right now and it may not be the best time in her life for a shining reference.”

Sherri laughed and I pretended to laugh too.

“Uh, seriously though, I’m not sure-”

She didn’t let me finish my sentence (and for that I was grateful. How do you put it nicely that your kid tramples other kids for toys?).

“Just have her write a few sentences on her personality and her interests.”

She seemed to recognize the panic her initial request had created.

That’s the thing about adoption. It makes you kind of crazy:

“Oh no, I won’t be approved! My house is too dirty from our dusty gravel road!

or: “Oh no, I won’t be approved! I got a speeding ticket four years ago!”

or “Oh no, I won’t be approved! I have lint between my toes!”

I appreciated Sherri’s understanding, so I put it on my mental list to talk to our daycare lady Karla when I saw her next.

************

“How’d Elise do today?” I asked. How could asking such a simple question invoke such polarizing feelings of joy and dread?

“Welllll…”

Oh no. I knew that wasn’t good.

“It was not a good day for Elise. We had a bit of trouble sharing and playing nicely with our friends.” I knew what that was code for.

*sigh*

I certainly won’t claim that we do everything right. But I promise you, friends, while we are affectionate and affirming, we also enforce the rules. It’s tricky business disciplining a little soul who can’t fully understand or empathize yet.

I tried to trick Elise into putting her coat on, “Elise, can you find your coat pockets?” It had worked before. Maybe it would work again.

She’s a smart cookie, that girl. She can smell bologna from a mile away.

Not literally. You know what I mean.

So distracted by her theatrics, I forgot to ask Karla to write the reference letter. Oops.

Maybe I should just ask her another day, I thought. But my urgent need to cross items off my list prevailed.

“Hello?” Karla answered the phone.

“Yeah, hey.” I said. “So… when I talked to the caseworker last week, she said she needed a reference letter from you.”

The irony was palpable. “Okayyyyy…” she laughed.

I repeated the instruction that Sherri had told me to give to her. I think she was as relieved as I had been. Thank goodness Karla loves Elise and knows that her worst behaviors are not the core of her character. In fact, I think Karla has been the greatest encouragement to me through the toils of toddler-hood. More than once she has reminded me that this is a phase – she will grow out of it. While stubborn and ornery, she is also sweet and funny and loves to be a helper.

Long story, short: despite her current outbreaks of possessiveness, someday, Elise will be a great big sister.

Because who wouldn’t want a big sister who teaches you how to stop and smell the… Easter eggs?:

The Father’s Love

Six months or so ago, Tyler and I were driving and he was sharing about his coworkers and their experience adopting an 8 year old girl who has suffered many traumas in her short life. Understandably, she has many emotional and behavioral struggles that stem from broken promises, extorted trust, and constant changes of her environment and her caregivers. He talked about her story and some of the struggles they are having even now to break through her walls and show her that their love is unconditional and unchanging. That she is valued and cared for and all the tumultuous shifting and abuse she experienced before is now behind her. She is safe. She can heal.

But it’s not simple. For families adopting older children or fostering children with a “complicated” (to put it slightly) past, they are faced with a huge risk: To love without restraint, knowing full-well their hearts may be broken in the process — whether from a child who is distant and rebellious or from the state reunifying their foster child with neglectful or abusive parents.

Yet as Tyler told me this story, I could hear the emotion in his voice. Not emotion like my voice shows emotion. Good grief, I get choked up watching Top Chef. It was deep compassion and… conviction? I let his words sink in for a minute.

“Tyler, are you… are you feeling like someday you might want to foster? Or adopt from foster care?”

He sighed a heavy sigh. He’s the kind of person that wants his words to be sincere – not spoken out of fleeting emotion. I could tell this wasn’t the first time he had thought about it.

“Maybe? I don’t know… not right now, Elise is too young. But maybe someday, a ways on down the road.”

Tears (see what I mean?) welled up in my eyes. That God would lay this on his heart, even before mine was stunning to me. I am the emotional one. I am the one to announce my wild aspirations to him. I am the one that wants more than the standard 2.5 children. It was an emotion and a conviction that could only come from the Father.

Fast forward to 4 weeks ago. I was subbing in the church nursery and ended up working with a woman who is a foster care-giver. Her story is heartbreaking… and hope-filling at the same time. To love a child as they deserve to be loved — knowing full-well that you cannot dictate their future– that is a vulnerable thing to do. But she told me this week that this vulnerability is a glimpse of the Father’s love. God loves us… knowing His heart will be broken.

That struck me. All my insecurities and anxieties about our adoption… they are nothing when compared to the anguish God has experienced.

Our vulnerability right now is small compared to what it could be if we foster someday. But even with domestic adoption, there is still always a chance for a birthmom to have a “change of heart.” I am learning that when God calls us to walk through heartache, He offers us a deeper relationship with Him. Not because our wounds have earned it for us. Because He wants to use our pain to understand the pain He feels and the love that outweighs every heartache and makes every vulnerability worthwhile.

Talking about God’s love is one thing. We are quickly desensitized to repetitive anecdotes and Christian cliches.

Experiencing God’s love is quite another. To walk with someone that understands your grief is invaluable. And no matter the grief… God has felt it too. He is more than a support system. He is the Source of All Comfort and the Father of love.

We don’t know what is in store for our future. Maybe our family will grow as a seamless unit with no pain or loss or trauma. But regardless of God’s plans, He will open our hearts to love without caution, and will carry us through to heal whatever brokenness we may face.

The Decision to Adopt

Adoption has long been a part of both of our lives. Tyler and I both have cousins who were adopted and have always felt that adoption could be a path to parenthood for us. In the midst of our 2 1/2 years of testing, treatments, and even a surgery, the thought of adopting was becoming an exciting, yet intimidating possibility for us. At the height of our struggle in 2012, we completed the initial application for the Ghana program. We envisioned a long, but rewarding road ahead. I could only imagine traveling to Africa to pick up our baby from his or her country of origin. Stepping off the plane and into this beautiful culture and landscape. And of course, holding our baby for the first time and falling instantly in love.

My cursor hovered over the “Submit” button, .

“So this is it, right? ” I asked my husband. This was a huge step for us.

“I think so. I mean, we don’t want to continue with the treatments we’ve been doing, and we don’t plan on doing In vitro.”

That statement hit me hard. My stomach tightened. “So, you don’t think we would ever try to do In vitro?” I just wasn’t ready to give up on the possibility of pregnancy.

“Well, if you think you would ever want to do In vitro, why should we wait until your older?”

He had a good point. The conversation turned into a plan that we would give In vitro one chance. We wanted to be careful to only create as many embryos as we would want children. And if we did not get pregnant with those embryos, we would have the closure we (alright, I) needed on the experience ever of carrying a baby in my womb.

7bwAbout a year later, we gave birth to our daughter, Elise. She has been the joy of our lives. All we knew while we were hoping for a child was just how much we didn’t know we were missing out on.

And now we are ready to graft a new member into our family tree through domestic infant adoption from the US.

It’s amazing that in horticulture, a shoot that starts on one tree can become a vital part of a new tree. It’s beginnings are important – as is the birth parents who will give life to our child. And it’s new identity is important also. It is a gift that gives strength and produces richer fruit.

We are humbled to be in the position where someone will choose us as parents for their child. Our prayer is that we would be worthy of this indescribable, incomparable gift. That this experience would be as benefiting to this child as it is to our family. And that this little “shoot” would grow to branch out and produce the sweetest of fruit.