Baby Beluga

You’ve all been great about patiently waiting with us on this journey thus far. “Have you heard anything?” and “When are you getting your baby?” are common questions I hear each week. Your excitement with us is encouraging… I thought the frequent questions would make me feel defeated, but it actually reminds me that this whole thing is real. In the drudgery of waiting and the busyness of life, I’ve found myself forgetting that there will.be.a.baby.

A REAL baby.

That is OURS.

I do feel a little discouraged. Almost five months with only 3 opportunities and 30+ waiting families we are technically “competing” with… I’m not great at statistics, but the probability sure doesn’t seem great.

But what I’ve learned from our whole experience of building a family is that God’s purposes extend beyond my personal happiness and desires. That He has just the RIGHT baby for us, and we “just haven’t met you yet” as Michael Buble so wonderfully puts it.

Did I ever tell you how I touched his hand?

It’s on video. I can prove it. But I think only if you’re friends with my mom or me on facebook:

Wait, except my face isn’t in it, just my hand…

Oh, but I guess these Go-Go Gadget “piano fingers” (that actually were never any good at playing piano) are pretty unique. And those wrinkly knuckles. Why do I have such wrinkly knuckles?

Promise you folks, that’s really my hand. Fo’ real.

Anyway, where was I going with this? Oh yeah…

As discouraging as it is sometimes, we know that sometimes God takes us down what seem like single-lane, meandering, dead-end roads to lead us to spectacular sights.

So thank you all for your encouragement and excitement, even if you get multiple responses of “Nope, no news.” Don’t give up on us!

And don’t worry about us either. Though the adoption stuff seems like it’s not going anywhere right now, Elise is keeping us plenty busy with potty training.

I never thought I would want to keep changing diapers. But honestly, sometimes it’s just so much easier.

Good thing her high-pitched little “woohoo’s!!” and precious little fist pumps make the hassle entertaining.

Oh, and speaking of entertaining, did I mention what Elise would like to name the baby?

Baby Beluga.

We’re really into Raffi around here.

I told her maybe that can be the baby’s middle name.

 

It’s About People

I don’t usually like posting political opinions on social media. I don’t think a witty meme or an impassioned Facebook rant is likely to change any hearts when it comes to highly controversial issues. Such issues are controversial because people’s feelings run deep. It is generally not in our nature to change our minds about something so deep-seated in our hearts. We need a deeper conviction than memes and quotes –  and even radically repulsive media  – can ever inspire.

And I am no exception.

My concern for women’s value and women’s availability to material and financial assistance is what led me to audit seminary classes for women’s ministry and choose an internship with a pregnancy resource center. In many ways, I would consider myself a feminist. One of my greatest passions is to help other women push through insecurity or adversity and succeed in life – whether at home or at work. I really can’t imagine my passion shifting in such a radical way as to deny my support of organizations that do so much good for these women and their families.

The issue of abortion polarizes people into two basic categories: 1) Those that are passionate about caring for women and 2) Those that are passionate about caring about the unborn. Reasoning that “life begins at conception” and women who’ve had abortions are “murderers” will not change individuals in the first party who truly believe their cause is out of compassion. For one, it is nearly impossible to convince people that a microscopic ball of cells, unrecognizable as human could really be a human life. And attacking a stranger’s character will never result in a heart that is open to counter-opinions.

Reasoning with a pro-lifer that a fetus is still a part of a woman’s body is pointless also. The belief that life begins at conception is rooted too deeply in their worldview.

I wish I had answers that could satisfy both parties. But I can only ask you to hear my heart on this topic, as it is one that so greatly influences my life:

After 3 years of infertility – 3 years of hoping and praying and silently breaking-down while others complained about unexpected pregnancies – my husband and I finally heard our daughter’s heartbeat on an ultrasound. Only 3 weeks after conception.

I can see how people who do not believe in the Bible could deny that life begins at conception. Life is a mysterious and amazing miracle – no matter if the life was planned and hoped for or a startling compilcation. It’s hard to understand how that such a tiny, unrecognizable shape could be human. But I do not see how anyone can deny that my daughter’s heartbeat confirmed she was life at 3 weeks post-ovulation.

To put that timeline in perspective: The earliest a woman can even know she is pregnant is 2 weeks past ovulation. Most (who aren’t crazy-lunatic-Infertiles) wait to even take a test until their period is 1 week late. By then their fetus – their baby – already has a rapidly beating heart. But as a society we don’t really educate people on that. I only knew this because of getting such early appointments while under the care of a fertility specialist.

Another issue that weighs heavily in my distrust of having the government’s hand in abortion-funding: isn’t it considerably cheaper to support the termination of a pregnancy than to tack on years of financial assistance to mothers and children living on low incomes? Seems like a bit of a conflict of interest. And what do pro-lifers really have to gain from being pro-life? Self-righteousness I suppose?? I’m not sure…

And I wonder… why does an unplanned pregnancy have to be such a burden? Why are we still afraid for our jobs, our chances of advancement, our community support, and our access to healthcare and childcare? Gender equality has come a long way, but once you throw a pregnancy in the mix, we start to feel more than a little insecure. Add in hormones and the worry about the above-mentioned items makes a pregnant women suddenly feel like a whale walking a tight-rope with no safety net. Working women are an asset. Working Mothers are a burden and a risk. I’ll be honest… I even felt that way after years of pining for pregnancy. Perhaps I am swinging liberal here, but I would gladly sacrifice higher taxes to connect families with sufficient resources than funding voluntary-population control.

(And honestly, I think finding good, affordable childcare is the greatest challenge. If moms could get affordable childcare so that they could still work even part-time, it seems like this would be worthwhile for all parties. But then, I’m not economist, so I really can’t speak to the viability of this suggestion)

Finally, as we sit around waiting to be chosen to adopt a child, my heart breaks at the amazing chances a child now has to be adopted by people who would do anything to be parents. And after years of dreaming and hoping a child, they are people who will be incredible parents too. There are not orphanages in the U.S. like there are in China. Infants are not waiting for parents. Parents are waiting for children. And not even just perfectly healthy children. Just any child to whom then can proudly give their name and their love.

(* To clarify, I am speaking of infants whose parents have chosen adoption. They are not typically waiting to be adopted. However, there are numerous children in the foster care system or have become “wards of the state.” That’s a different beast and one that also deserves attention, but I’ll save that for another time.)

Anyway… I don’t expect to have changed any minds with my ardent defense for both children and women. I loved volunteering with the pregnancy resource centers and was inspired by the warmth and compassion and generosity they showed every woman that passed through their doors or dialed their number. I think serving those women is probably the most influential movement one can take.

Because it’s not about winning or about being right. It’s about caring for people.

 

 

The Journey

Parenting has so many victories and so many failures. No matter your confidence in your creativity and effort, don’t celebrate your win before the game’s over.

Exhibit A:  Elise has been hitting and throwing toys at Daycare – typical toddler stuff they tell me, but I don’t like it. I don’t see her in the mornings before I go to work, so I started leaving her notes/illustrations to be a “nice bunny.”

Monday:

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It worked! Monday she had a good day!

Tuesday:

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Another great day. I’m so glad I’m such a good parent! This was a win for sure. 

Wednesday:

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Terrible day… “What happened?” I asked her when we got home. “Didn’t you see the note I left you? To be a nice bunny?” 

“Bunny hit!” she says as she slaps the stick-note.

Apparently Elise is not familiar with the side-hug.

*sigh*

Thursday:

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A better day, but still a bit of attitude.

Friday: 

“Elise, if you’re a nice bunny at Daycare, I will take you to the library.”

Books are her favorite thing.

Aaand… Success! She was a very nice bunny on Friday. So after Daycare, we quick grabbed some blueberries (her favorite snack) from the store before heading to the library.

As I pull in, I notice a small handful of cars. It looks like we will have most of the library to ourselves. The benefit to living in such a small town. We walk hand-in-hand up the sidewalk to the giant glass doors and hear a loud “Click” as soon as I reach for the handle.

“Boom!!!” Elise mimics with a bunny-hop for emphasis.

Hours: Friday 10-5

We were too late. My heart sinks. I try to rack my brain for where else one could find books in this little town. The Hallmark? I guess that will work.

We enter the Hallmark and immediately run into our next-door-neighbor who works there. She was on her way out, but we chat for a minute and she ooo’s and ahhh’s over how big Elise is getting.

Next we scan the stickers. Then the baby items. Then the greeting cards. As we go, Elise keeps snagging items and is not happy about having to put them back. This is too overwhelming… I just need a book!

We find some Frozen paraphernalia and I contemplate settling on a Frozen book, when I finally spot the kid’s corner. We neatly return the Frozen stuff to it’s shelves and I grab Elise’s hand to drag her over to the book selection. I’m getting antsy to leave this place.

She’s not keeping pace, and when I look back to encourage some hustle-in-her-bustle, I notice she is carrying a green ceramic vase that’s half her size. In one hand.

I try to squelch my shriek of shock. All my neighbor’s coworkers have been fussing over us from the moment we walked in. I pray no one is watching me return the vase to it’s proper place on the lower-shelf of the display.

(A lower shelf? Seriously, who puts a vase on a lower shelf???)

My ever-growing urgency calls me to settle on some Mickey Mouse stickers rather than flip through books. Rewards for good behavior. Excellent. 

And the moral of the story is that there are no wins in parenting. As soon as you think you’ve figured something out, you get complacent. Parenting isn’t a game at all. It’s a journey. And you can’t assume you’re leading your kid in the right direction just because you’re leading the way. If you’re so focused on your destination that you’re dragging them with you, or you think your past success means you don’t need to check on them, you may be shocked to discover what they’ve picked up along the way.

So despite our busy-ness and our agendas, we have to walk alongside our children.

And sometimes literally. Please, someone remind me of this the next time I am in a Hallmark store.

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!