GOD CALLS. WILL WE ANSWER?

The Bible study that I attend is made up of women with infertility issues who have come to know God’s plan for their life regarding children and others still waiting on God’s perfect plan. As I write this today I am praying for one of the girls right now who is still waiting, maybe like many of you.

The group has just recently started reading Radical by David Platt. After the first chapter, I felt God calling me to join the team from my church going to Haiti and the Dominican Republic. I knew when God spoke to me that I had to act. I do not want to be swallowed by a whale like Jonah, even though my Aunt assures me there are not any large fish here in Tennessee.

When I called my church to sign up, I knew that I did not have any answers to questions that people would ask me. Like what are you going to do with your children since they do not go to pre-school, but stay at home with me, or how are you going to get the money to go? My husband also reminds me that there are diseases in Haiti. I do not have any concrete answers for any of these questions, but I know if God calls me He will find a way for me.

Some of you may feel the same way regarding embryo adoption. Maybe you do not know how you will pay for all the fees involved, or how you will get the time off work or travel to Tennessee. All of these can seem like big hurdles to overcome when we rely on ourselves. The Bible tells us that when we get in line with what God wants, that He will honor it and allow blessings to flow through. Genesis 12:2-3 “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”

I cannot wait to see how God is going to use me to accomplish what all has to be done for the mission trip. Most of all I want to hear from you and what He has called YOU to do. How has He provided for you and your calling?

Advertisements

LARGE CRANIUMS AND OTHER WILSON FAMILY UPDATES

We took the babies for their 9 month well-baby check up yesterday, and while it’s obvious they are thriving, it’s always nice to get a clean bill of health. Grant is weighing in at 17 lbs 8 oz and is 26 ¾ inches long, which is in the 25th percentile for his adjusted age of 7 months. His head, on the other hand, is in the 90th percentile. We knew the kid had a big melon, but goodness! Maria is weighing in at 16 lbs 11 oz and is also 26 ¾ inches long. Her height, weight, and head are all in the 50th percentile for her adjusted age. She’s been working hard to maintain her svelte and proportionate figure. The only issue that they found is that they are both anemic and our doctor has recommended and iron supplement. Because of their twin gestation, premature birth and me being severely anemic when they were born, he wasn’t surprised by their low hemoglobin levels. We’ll check their levels again in three months and see where they stand.

I’m really enjoying this age. They laugh and talk and are generally a lot of fun to be around. Now, they are also extremely busy and getting anything done while they are awake is nearly impossible these days. Another new challenge is attention deficit disorder while nursing. I cannot nurse if Jeremy is in the room, the dog is walking around, the TV is on or any other type of distraction. Additionally, I’m finding that my best bet is to nurse them separately right now. About the only time I’m successful in dual nursing right now is in the middle of the night, when none of us really want to be awake. We’re working on increasing their solid food intake and because Maria seems to be a bit finicky when it comes to new tastes and textures, he said to make their food with more lumps and to keep introducing new stuff so she will get used to it and hopefully not be a horribly picky eater.

The final thing that I’m really pumped up about is that they are going to be reunited with their Cousin Jake this weekend. According to flightaware.com, Meredith and Jake have just landed on US soil and God willing will be home later tonight and intend on staying through at least the end of May. We’re so very excited to have them home and my brother will be back here on his next break from work. I’m thankful that my family will all be back together again very shortly.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

LIVE AND LET LIVE

Marti’s post regarding her thoughts and decision regarding open vs. anonymous embryo adoption brought to mind some of the wonderings that I have about my children’s genetic parents. A common argument for an open adoption is for medical history. I can understand that thinking, however, I’m of the opinion that while your genetic history may predispose you to certain conditions, our health outcomes are largely determined by how we treat our bodies. Now, I won’t go off onto a tangent on my thoughts on the American medical system and how we could truly benefit from opening our minds to a more holistic and proactive approach to health vs. a reactive-give-me-a-drug approach that is the mainstream model, but I do believe that in many instances it’s our DNA which loads the gun and our behavior which pulls the trigger. Not always, but in many instances.

As a part of the anonymous embryo adoption process, we were given basic medical history for both genetic parents. There were no issues that we found to be concerning and we also know that their genetic mother likes red M&Ms. So, why did we decide to go with anonymous adoption? I can think of many reasons, however, at the end of the day, we sought counsel from above and went with the decision that we felt most comfortable with for our family for the long term. I’m sure that Grant and Maria will have questions some day. I also have my own questions and wonderings, however, I know that we made the right decision. Their genetic family decided it was in their best interests to remain anonymous and we will respect their choice in this matter.

Like it or not, we all have free will and with that comes tough decisions. Is everyone going to agree with our decision? No. Do I care? No. As a parent, I’m going to make thousands of decisions over the course of Grant and Maria’s lives that others are not going agree with. My babies were exclusively breastfed for six months, while other parents give their children rice cereal at 4 months. We choose not to “cry it out” when it comes to sleep; others are comfortable with that method of sleep training. We’re not opposed to an age appropriate spanking as a form of discipline when they are older, and other parents will opt only for time out. The future will bring many more decisions along the way and it’s my hope that even if others disagree with the choices we make they will be tolerant of our decisions.

The heart of the matter here is that there are hundreds of thousands of children all over the world, many still frozen, who are waiting for a forever home. Families come in many different shapes, sizes and foundations and despite many differences in the way people were raised, the majority go on to live healthy and productive lives. Grant and Maria may never know some details of their genetic family, but one thing is for certain – they will know they have two families – one who loved them enough to give them a shot at life out of the freezer and a forever family who will love them unconditionally for the rest of their lives.

As Paul plead with the Corinthians to stop arguing over minute details of faith and, in doing so, fracture the early Church and lose sight of the ultimate work of advancing the Kingdom of God, and instead come together under the umbrella of the saving work of Christ on the cross, I hope that we too don’t also fracture ourselves and lose sight of the overarching important point by arguing over minute and ultimately unimportant details. What’s important is that there are thousands of frozen lives with potential waiting to be embraced by the loving arms of a mother and father whose hearts ache to care for their special little lives. That is why we do this. And everything else really doesn’t matter.

PURPOSE IN LIFE

Some people just know from an early age what they are destined to do, or rather their purpose in life. I had grand dreams as a child of being an airline stewardess. I would imagine traveling all around the world, and in the very next sentence talk about having family and being a mother. As I got older, my father once asked me how I expected to do both. He was very much Old School, from a generation where a mother stayed at home to raise the children, and didn’t have a job outside of the home until they were older i.e. high school age at a minimum. I was probably around nine or 10 years old at the time, and didn’t think too much about it until I saw a rescue of a plane crash from a river in the Washington D.C. area. I think in was around 1979, and what made such an impression upon me was you could see the survivors actually in the water and being air-lifted out by a helicopter. I quickly thought maybe it wouldn’t be such a good career choice despite the glamour, and settled for Plan B and raising a family.

As I think back now, I also remember the frustration of my high school guidance counselor as he helped me pick classes in a course of study for college prep. He would ask what I wanted to do after graduating, and I would reply raising a family. Once he actually asked if I had a steady boyfriend, which I didn’t (I had met Jim at the time, but didn’t know him). You can imagine his frustration with me with that reply. In the end I did attend college, but half-heartedly. By that time I had decided I was going to be a librarian. My father once again tried to change my mind, telling me that wasn’t a well paying profession, and I needed to be able to support myself. We agreed I would be taking mostly liberal arts courses to begin with and there was time to decide later. I stuck to the plan of studying Library Science, and attending SCSU for those courses in my final semesters.

My father died when I was 20 years old, and shortly there after Jim asked me to marry him. After that I changed my mind and switched my major to Sociology, because I could graduate on time with the credits I had and not attend another college away from home (and Jim). The intent was that now I would be a social worker, but it never came to pass. Once I graduated, I was making more money working part-time and within a few months of graduating was hired as a Town Employee full-time. This was a blessing in disguise for 2 reasons: one, Jim was diagnosed with cancer and the additional insurance coverage was greatly needed, and the same insurance also covered infertility treatments which resulted because of his cancer. Talk about the Lord working in mysterious ways!

Our long journey through infertility led us indirectly to embryo donation. I had so many embryos as a result of our repeated cycles, and had no idea what to do with them. I had been so intent on getting pregnant—and later maintaining the pregnancy—that I never gave a thought as to what would happen to the extra embryos we had in storage once we decided our family was complete. It was quite by chance that I contacted my infertility doctor’s office to ask them for suggestions. They mailed me several pamphlets with various options, and embryo adoption/donation was the only plausible choice. Prior to this we had never heard of it. Jim wasn’t too keen on the idea at first, but he later agreed that it would be the route we would pursue.

I chose open adoption for a few reasons, but never imagined how our choice would benefit us in the end. I was concerned that whatever children resulting from these embryos may later have health issues. There is a strong history of cancer on both our sides, and some heart issues on mine. Ryan and Joel both have different allergies, and I thought an open adoption would aid in any health issues that arose for all of our “genetic children,” my actual ones and the ones resulting from the remaining embryos. This was also around the time that stem cell research and its use in fighting disease was in the news. I thought my actual children may also possibly benefit. I also thought occasional updates would be an added bonus.

It really wasn’t until I contacted the NEDC and started working with a caseworker that I realized how we had made the right decision. The process is quite involved, and there were things we hadn’t considered. As we continued along that avenue, we were convinced we had made the right choice. Although the process is detailed, it went relatively smoothly. The Bailey’s were the only couple to contact us, and we liked them immediately. They fit my criteria of being family-oriented and having some sort of religious belief. In the end, you just want the resulting children to be cared for and loved in a nurturing environment, and we certainly chose the right family for that.

Occasionally as I prepare for our trip to Disney with the Baileys, I think of the winter Marti was on bed rest. At the time I couldn’t understand why she didn’t want any direct contact with us, but NEDC kept us informed as to her condition and progress. After talking with Marti and hearing her story of establishing a relationship with another donor family and losing the pregnancy I could understand. I also find it ironic that I didn’t know the twins had been born for nearly two weeks time, because we had been away on vacation to where else, but WDW! It wasn’t until Brian finally put in the message line that the twins had arrived that I decided it was okay to respond to his email! I had no idea who BBailey was sending me repeated emails.

Now that I have established a relationship with the Baileys and we have both blogged about our experiences, I’ve come to realize that this must have been my purpose in life. Why else would things have worked out in such a way otherwise? There were so many factors that had to come into play for the timing to be right. It all stems back to Jim having cancer. Who would have thought that such a terrible thing which resulted in so many obstacles could have such a wonderful outcome for so many people?

TAKING UP MY CROSS

This past week in Bible study we talked about “Taking up your cross.” While I was there I realized how God had changed me as I took up my cross for Him. Growing up I was like an only child since my brother was 12 years older than me and my sister nine years. Since my father had died when I was very young, it was just my Mother and me for many years. I can remember referring to her as “MY MOTHER,” even to my own sister! I was very possessive of her.

Another thing that was hard for me to share was chocolate. When my sister lived in Canada, I took her 3 bags of her favorite white chocolates that they did not carry in Banff where she lived. By the time I got to the Calgary airport, those three bags dwindled down to around one. It takes a very long time to get to Banff from Knoxville!

So when it came time for Brian and I to decide on an open or a closed adoption in our traditional adoption I wanted to choose closed. I felt so strongly that that was the right choice that I did my thesis on the topic. I discovered that parents who have a “closed” adoption have more anxiety surrounding the birth mother than the families who chose open. I wanted to know what was best for the child and not the parents, but I could not find any research on the effects of closed versus open as it related to adopted children. The adoption agency let us know that if we chose closed adoption our chance of receiving a child was not good. So of course we reluctantly chose open.

I did not want to share “my” child after waiting so long and enduring so much. Other “normal” parents do not have to share their child. Why should I? These were all thoughts that went through my head. God really opened my heart to “open” adoption by the time Brian and I came to choose embryo adoption.

My first attempt with embryo adoption was with a couple from Knoxville who wanted an open adoption and to spend time together. We talked on the phone before the transfer and I had envisioned what our new life would be like with them playing a role as well. Those embryos ended up not surviving the thaw. The back-up embryos resulted in a chemical pregnancy which was a huge disappointment, but God had other plans.

As I get ready for our Disney trip with the Cassidy family, I see how greatly God has blessed me. If my heart would have remained hardened toward open adoption, I would not have the two beautiful children I have now; furthermore, I would not know the love another family could bring to my life as well as my children’s.

SWADDLERS ANONYMOUS

I think Grant has been attending Swaddlers Anonymous in the middle of the night. The last two nights he’s actually fallen asleep and slept at least half the night with both arms unwrapped. This gives me great hope that we won’t still be swaddling him when he goes to kindergarten. Maria has been swaddle free since the beginning of November. Grant, however, has insisted that he needed to be snugly wrapped for any of us to get any sleep. Thankfully, after getting a zippered sleep sack with Velcro swaddle wings, we’ve been able to keep swaddling him as needed. Prior to the sleep sack, Jeremy was the only one who could adequately wrestle him into a thermal blanket and almost daily I would declare that we HAD to get him weaned off the swaddle. I researched the internet on getting kids off the swaddle and learned that we were not the only ones with a swaddle addict. I tried several times to start the weaning process by leaving one arm unwrapped, but wasn’t successful until the beginning of December. Grant kept trying to roll over while wrapped up one night, and to prevent him from getting marooned on his belly I decided to let one arm out. Jeremy said it wasn’t going to go over well, but I leaned over Grant’s crib and told him to prove his daddy wrong, to which he kindly obliged. This was my first glimmer of hope and helped solve the issue of the lost paci. After pinning the Wubbanub paci to his sleep sack and with an arm free, he could easily replug himself as needed. Since the beginning of December, I’ve periodically tried to leave both arms out, only to find him crying with the normally wrapped arm suspended in the air and no clue what to do with this stray arm. Recently, he’s started getting the wrapped arm out, so Wednesday night, I decided to try letting him go swaddle free. He rolled right over on his side and drifted off while listening to Linda Ronstadt. He actually slept quite well, only waking for his normal middle of the night snack, or when Maria has disturbed him (she has her top two front teeth coming in, so she’s been rather crabby the past couple of nights). We’re going to continue weaning him in hopes that he’ll be declared swaddle free very soon. I’m cautiously optimistic that within another week, he’ll be able to handle the responsibility of having both arms out and we can finally be swaddle free. If you hear a Mel Gibson style “FREEDOM” ringing from the Ohio Valley, you’ll know we were successful.

THE COST OF CANCER CAN BE HIGH EVEN IF IT IS NOT DEADLY

Shortly after the twins were born, Brian’s co-worker and our dear friend, Jennifer McDonald, brought us food. It was such a blessing to have a hot meal but better yet, Jennifer stayed and visited with us a while. Since I had been on bed rest for 15 weeks, then back and forth from the hospital for another 46 days to see the twins, it was such a blessing to have her just sit down and talk with us. During this time she shared with us her desire to have another child, her son Jackson was about 5. Jennifer told us she was going to undergo surgery to lose weight so that she would be able to have a healthy pregnancy.

With my whirl-wind life that came with the twins, I did not think about this again until Brian came home one day talking about how good Jennifer looked and how she had lost so much weight. I was so happy for her knowing this was her plan to increase her family size. Soon after that I heard she was having headaches and going to the eye doctor. I asked about her often, but Brian said he just knew she was still having pain and was out of work. The doctors found a brain tumor and this past October discovered it was cancerous; unfortunately, they were not able to classify the cancer. Her cancer is very rare and from someone looking outside would think all was lost, but Jennifer knows that God is bigger than all this. She had lost sight from both eyes, yet just this week she has gained sight from her one “good” eye. She is now undergoing chemotherapy and radiation and it is working!

Jennifer is one of the most beautiful women I have ever laid eyes on. When you look at her you can just see God’s love shining through her. When Jennifer came over to deliver food to me that summer day of 2008 she would have never dreamed that one day she would find herself infertile like me. Cancer treatments can leave patients infertile along with so many other scars; but God never closes one door without opening another. Jennifer knows this and is already asking questions about embryo adoption. She has more faith than that of a mustard seed and is just waiting to see how her loving God is going to answer her prayers, not just for her health; but for her desire to grow her family. I ask you to pray for Jennifer and to thank God for allowing all of us the option of embryo adoption!