Monday, October 25, 2010

Meet Willy

This is Willy. He is my cute, new little Woolly lamb.
(Get it? Woolly, Woolley.... ha!)

Anyway, Willy was important enough to make the blog title because he is my little symbol of hope right now. Something that I can cling to when my arms are feeling empty.

You see, I have just been DYING to start nursery planning. Rusty and I have decided that because of the nature of adoption, we want to plan a gender neutral nursery. So, if the baby that we are expecting is a girl/boy and that adoption plan falls through, we will not be stuck with a gender specific nursery and then end up with the other gender!

For years, I have researched nursery decor ad nauseam. I have planned:
  • girl nurseries for one, two or three girls
  • boy nurseries for one, two or three boys
  • boy AND girl nurseries, in case we got a little of both
I have never in my life planned a gender neutral nursery though. It never entered my mind that we would not know the gender of our baby before it's arrival! So, it's actually kind of neat that I get to start fresh with a nursery intended just for this special little one that God is going to bring us. 

It may sound stupid, but I wanted the first thing that we bought for baby to be something special. I didn't just want it to be an outfit or toy that would get discarded. And, I wanted it to be something that Rusty and I picked out together. 

So, last weekend, we were at the mall and I begged him to go to PBK with me to look at furniture. 

You have to understand, Rusty and I have different approaches to this whole nursery planning thing:

He is a bit more cautious. He wants to protect my heart and not see me get disappointed. He wants us to be a little farther in the process before we start buying things. 

I, on the other hand, NEED to plan this nursery. I need it to make me feel like this is real. 

I do not have a baby kicking in my stomach, reminding me that he/she is on their way. I don't have swollen ankles, ice cream cravings, or doctor's appointments to keep me occupied and in reality. 

Planning is the way that I get to experience the pregnancy. I want to be excited, hopeful, and expectant. I want to not only plan and dream about the child that is coming to us, but to prepare. That is how I get to be reminded me of our sweet baby that is coming!

When Rusty doesn't want to buy things, it makes me feel like he doesn't believe that we will ever be parents. Then, I lose hope that I will ever be a mom. 

So, after a small melt down in PBK after he disagreed that we should buy the crib that night, we agreed to buy Willy instead. 

And I am so glad we did. I felt like, by buying something, Rusty too is believing that we soon will be parents. It makes it real to see Willy sitting there, reminding me that he is a gift for the baby that is coming. But, in the mean time, I can cling to him and allow him to fill my aching arms. 

By the way, the best part of the night was when I went to the cash register. She asked if I needed a gift receipt. After many, many years of only buying gifts for other people's babies in that store, I finally got to say through tears,
"Nope. This one is for MY baby."

Friday, October 22, 2010

More like a donut

If you are reading this blog, then you with no doubt already know "our story." You know what an emotional roller coaster the last few years have been for us. We have suffered some great losses and some very hard days, but we have also seen some great joy. Our journey through infertility has brought us closer and made us stronger as both individuals and as a couple. And though it has been tough, I wouldn't trade that result for anything.

It has hard to believe, but it has been two years since our last IVF failed. While we were going through treatments, each day could not come fast enough. I just couldn't stand it if something got delayed and we had to wait a "whole month" before we would know anything. I just had to have everything immediately because I couldn't stand the though of one more day to pass without any progress.

After our last round of IVF, we began to seek out new doctors and more opinions. We researched, traveled, poked and prodded, tested, retested, were hospitalized, prayed, researched some more, and retested again. All of this brought us very few answers. We had no peace and no direction about what to do next.

And so we decided to rest. Emotionally, financially and physically, rest. Did you catch in that sentence that prayer was stuck in the middle of all of our research and testing? Sure, it was there, but it somehow got lost between all of the things that we thought we could do in our own "power" to get answers.

One of the hardest things that I decided to do was to quit my job as a labor and delivery nurse. It has been painful, but I knew that as part of that resting, I needed to remove myself and let my heart heal before I could ever serve in the way that I really wanted to.

I could have stayed within the same hospital and just transferred to another unit, that certainly would have been easier. But, I found out about a job at another hospital, a hospital who's insurance covers the cost of fertility treatments. If I was leaving anyway, it would be silly not to go to the job that had this benefit, right? And so that is what I did.

We decided that once I got insurance coverage, we would go back to our doctor in Austin to start treatments. We were just praying that we would have answers by then for all of the options that we would have to face.

Month after month passed and I still did not get the insurance. I was working part time hours, but kept being told that there was no part time position available for me, which would qualify me for insurance coverage.

So, what choice have we had but to continue to wait?

If you are reading this, you probably know my "Holland story" as well. You know that being a birthmother is a huge part of who I am, how I look at life and influences many of the choices that I make in this life.

My heart is wounded by the loss of Holland in a way that only a birthmother can understand. The Lord has healed that wound in many ways, but it does not take much to rip that scab right off. Infertility has certainly done that for me and I have had to grieve not only my infertility, but also the loss of Holland all over again.

People have asked us for years "Have you thought about adoption?" Yes, of course we have thought about it. But, I have said from day one that adoption is not an option for us. I am sure that it would be if I was not a birthmother. But the fact is, I am. And as a birthmother, I could never be an adoptive mother. That door has always been closed for me.

Let me explain my rationale for that:

1. Having the chance to be pregnant has always been a big deal to me.
My body bears very physical scars of my pregnancy with Holland. It has affected my self esteem in ways that most people do not know. In college, I could never go to the pool with my friends because my body does not look like theirs. We don't go out on boats with our friends, to the beach, or to the pool because I have never looked like my other "childless" friends. I have to wear a tank top and shorts over my suit at all times while they are in their bikinis. My body image has been a huge part of shaping who I am today, and not in a good way.
I have lived with this body for 11 years, knowing that someday I would carry another child and all of the physical results of a pregnancy would not bother as me as bad. Because, I would have something to show for those scars. They would not just be constant reminders of my loss. I just "have" to be pregnant again.

2. Being a birthmother is by far the hardest thing that I have ever had to face in my life. It takes a lot of strength and a lot of support from those around me. And as an adoptive mother, I would have a responsibility to the birthmother that is incredibly overwhelming. I would know the depth of her wounds and understand her pain in a way that most adoptive moms can't. My fear has been that I would disappoint her or hurt her in the same ways that I have been hurt by Holland's adoptive family. I would become obsessed with being all that she needs me to be for her and I just couldn't live with that kind of pressure.

Cindy and I sat in a restaurant 3 years ago and she told me: "You have got to surrender pregnancy to the Lord. You have to give that to Him and be ok if you never have the chance to be pregnant again." I told her that I could say that to Him until I was blue in the face, but that I just didn't think that I could ever mean it. It's not ok for me to not be pregnant. I mean, how could a loving God do that to me?

Well, last March, Rusty and I got a phone call from a friend of mine. She knew a young girl that was pregnant and wanted to place her baby for adoption. She called to ask if Rusty and I would be interested in talking to her.

I told her that I very much appreciated her thinking of us, but that no, we would not be interested. I just didn't think adoption was for us, and if we did adopt, it certainly would not be an open adoption like that. It would have to be international- from an orphanage where the birthparents would not be involved. I told her that I was happy to talk to the girl though, if she needed some support as a birthmom or if she needed some direction for resources to help her.

I went home that night and mentioned the call to Rusty, thinking that he would say "that was nice of her to think of us." Instead he said, "I think we should pray about this."

Um, didn't see that coming. But, we did. We prayed together and separately. Cindy was about to leave on a cruise for 10 days, so I called her frantically early in the morning before she could get on the boat and be out of communication. I told her the story and asked her what she thought.

She said something that has changed our lives. "The only way that you can be disobedient in this, is to close the door and be unwilling to see if this is the path that God has chosen for you."

And so I called my friend and told her that I had changed my mind and that we were open to talking to the girl. We decided that Cindy was right and we at least had to keep the door open until the Lord decided to close it.

The girl called me the next day. We talked several times over the next few days and she was very adamant about her adoption plan. Over the conversations, I was amazed at how quickly both Rusty and I's hearts were open to her and to the baby. We began to care for her very much already. We set up a time to meet her and I was so excited that I thought I would explode. But the day of our meeting, she called and said that she just needed more time to think about it. That she had not changed her mind, she just needed more time.

We never heard from her again.

Though we were disappointed, we had a genuine peace that this was obviously not the child that God intended for us. We thanked Him for closing the door. But at the same time, He had opened one. The situation showed us that our hearts were obviously open to more than we had previously thought. Is God revealing that adoption is His plan for our family?

Six months have passed and we are still in the same place of rest. We have been waiting for God to reveal what our next step should be. I still don't have the insurance, so it seems silly to move forward with fertility treatments until I have that. Yet, we haven't felt called to start the adoption process either.

Until now!

Through a situation that I might someday be able to share with you, we now feel called to adopt. We have begun the process and started the paperwork to adopt through New Life. Yep, the same place that I placed Holland. Remember the Red Couch? Well, we could be on the same couch again, on the receiving end this time.

But, please do not tell me that it has come full circle. It has not. And it never will.

Adoption will not replace the loss of Holland, nor will it fix our infertility.

So, if we have come full circle, it is one with a big, fat hole in the middle. More like a donut.

That does not mean that I feel like adoption is anything less than God's best for us. What might have been Plan D in my head, was always Plan A in God's will for our marriage. It just took us a while to understand that. There was a road that Rusty and I had to walk before we could be ready to see that God's best for us is so much more than we could have ever planned.

I see now that not getting the insurance coverage might not have just been a frustrating corporate decision, but the hand of God protecting us from following a path that He did not have in his plan for us.

I am thrilled that we might be parents soon. Sick to my stomach, elated. I've been obsessively planning a nursery, doodling names, and praying for the child that is growing somewhere as I write this.

The change was not lost on either of us as Cindy and I sat in that same restaurant a few weeks ago, but this time with me glowing from the excitement about becoming an adoptive mom. And those words that I thought I would never be able to say, I did. I am ok with not being pregnant. As ok as any woman who walks through infertility can ever be.

And as I think about becoming a mom through adoption, I truly cannot imagine it any other way.