ENDURANCE TRAINING

A fellow twin mom had a post on FaceBook that read, “being a mommy means…” I thought it was going to end up as some hearts and flowers thread about how wonderful it is to be a parent, but I was pleasantly surprised to read the daily trials that any parent faces.

Comments included:

• Finding a random booger in your hand and knowing it’s not yours.

• Started on the muffins over an hour ago and haven’t even gotten the batter mixed together yet.

• Cleaning three different ‘spills’ before 8:30 am.

• Sleeping in until 5:30 am.

• Sitting in the bathroom while your child poops just in case zombies decide to come up through the potty.

There were other comments that were sweet and charming and I found it enjoyable to read what others found both special and mundane about parenting. Here are a couple of my thoughts to add to her post:

• Holding a kid by one leg while he pivots on his head as you attempt to wipe his poopy butt.

• Searching high and low for a pacifier only to find it in the diaper champ.

• Taping the paci clip together because “Houdini” has figured out how to unclip it and likes to toss it out of reach during naps.

• Going to the bathroom and having a circus barge in and put their heads in your lap as they say “awww.”

I told someone over the weekend that the hardest part of being a parent is the constancy of it all. From the time they wake up until they go to bed, it’s nonstop. Wiping butts and faces, reading books and putting together puzzles, rocking and soothing, tickling and laughing, crying and screaming, climbing and jumping, not to mention endless laundry and dishes and the inability to get a snack or go to the bathroom without “assistance.” Jeremy likes to say that being a parent isn’t strength training, its endurance training. He’s right and I’m not complaining. Being a parent is tough and all the things that come with it can be draining. However, I realize that if all of these things stop that I’ve lost immeasurably more.

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LEARNING TO BE THANKFUL

Brian and I wanted to have children because family means so much to us and with the holidays here, I remember the desire was always heightened around this time. Now that we have the twins, remembering the more challenging holidays makes me enjoy this time with them so much more. I just wish my Mom was here to enjoy them with me.

We have so much to be thankful for this year and our children are definitely a blessing. Since I have been to Haiti this past year I am also thankful for many things I had always taken for granted, like fresh water, cleanliness, trash cans and this list goes on and on. Among my many blessings this past year, going to Haiti is among them. I often picture those children who were so happy to have us play with them to bring them hope and companionship.

After going to Haiti it has become more of my goal to ingrain thankfulness into my children as well as thoughtfulness. Some days I think they are doing a great job and others I realize they are a work in progress, just like I am. Tonight was one of the days I just had to smile to myself when Julian told me he wanted to leave a gift for Santa, not just cookies. When I asked him what he wanted to give him he told me his heart. He just told me this last week that he wanted to give his heart to his teachers for Christmas as well. I know he is getting this from the play at church, but the fact that he is applying what he is learning brings me such joy. He also told me he wants to draw a rocket ship and a heart for Santa. Wrap them and put the gifts under his Mickey Mouse Christmas Tree.

Julian is not the only one applying what he is learning. Natalie often goes and gets her Bible, which she is always sure to mention she got for her birthday, and reads from it. Letting me know that it is a “Holy Bible,” she will read a passage and then have me touch where she just read from. Of course she is not really reading, but she is telling Bible stories that she has learned. BSF has really taught her a lot, she used to read it and tell about a princess when she first got it this summer, but now she really understands that it is God’s word. She also told Dad this week that He needed to stop thinking of himself and think of others, after he told her they were going home to watch football!

Yes, I am thankful for the material things I have that I went without in Haiti, but more importantly I am thankful for what Haiti taught me and now my children. To think of others, have a heart for the suffering, and to learn God’s word so you can share it with others. I am most thankful for God who has so richly blessed me in so many ways I cannot even list them all!

MY PLAYLIST

Throughout our entire journey to have children, music has been a huge comfort to me. I can name five songs that really brought me through our adoption decision and process.

The lyrics in Aaron Shust’s “My Savior My God” got me through the early days after we had a diagnosis concerning our inability to conceive. “I am not skilled to understand what God has willed what God has planned” spoke directly to my heart. Ok, God, I get it, I’m going to trust Your will and Your plan in this…even if I don’t understand or even like it.

The next song on my playlist represents my acceptance of the situation and my new motivation to adopt. “He Reigns” by the Newsboys states “all God’s children sing glory, glory, halleluiah He reigns.” I realized that there was a child or children somewhere in this world for Jeremy and me.

I’ve previously written about “Overcome” by the Desperation Band in our selection of special consideration embryos. This is the only time I’ve ever had what I will call a clear “vision” from God. As I stood singing this song in church on that fateful Saturday evening, I saw their profile as plain as day. There was no question about it. This was the profile we were to choose.

“Desert Song” by Hillsong was my “results day” song. I listened to it over and over again while I waited seven and a half hours for Jennifer to call with our positive results. The drumbeat was comforting and the lyrics reminded me that we would praise God, no matter what the results.

Finally, the song that I can call my “embryo adoption theme song” is “Walk on the Water” by Britt Nicole. Really, I think it’s a great song for anyone pursuing adoption. Adoption takes faith and courage and unless we step out, we will never have the opportunities for the blessings that adoption can bring.

THE GIFT OF ADOPTION

Saturday, November 19, was National Adoption Day. I didn’t realize this until it was brought up at our church service when everyone who had been adopted, has adopted, or is in the process of adoption were honored. Jeremy and I stood when asked, we looked around at the others who were also standing, and I thought of the special bond that we all share. Our church is extremely supportive of adoption. Many families have adopted both internationally and domestically, and now, several others like Jeremy and I have experienced the joy of embryo adoption.

There is not a day that goes by that I don’t look at Grant and Maria and think about the way they came to our family. I wonder if that is a normal feeling for adoptive parents. Do you ever not think about it? I marvel at the miracle that they represent. For me, the decision to adopt was not the hardest decision I’ve ever made – in fact, it was quite easy. However, the decision to adopt made me more vulnerable than I’ve ever been. There were so many opportunities for the doors to close along the way – home study failure, medical screening failure, transfer failure, miscarriage – but, by the grace of God, all of the doors remained open and allowed us to welcome two precious, formerly frozen miracles into our lives.

While I feel a bond with other adoptive parents, I still feel that we are unique in our form of adoption. I still get lots of questions and I believe there are still some misconceptions and some people think it’s just weird. However, that’s okay. I’ve never really been normal anyway. Regardless of what people think and even if embryo adoption never becomes a mainstream part of the adoption landscape, we are so thankful for this gift.

EMBRYO ADOPTION

Embryo Adoption. That term to me now seems so simple, yet for most I know it is not. Julian has asked me how he was created and I have been quite blunt with him. My mother was a nurse and always used medical terms with me since I can remember. So, that is how I now parent as well. So my response to Julian was telling him how it all started with medical terms to follow. I later told some of my family this and my niece Brooke thought, I may just want to be very simple and tell him God knitted him together and placed him in my belly as it states in the Bible. My cousin told me that I may get a call from a parent telling me that my child has been teaching these words I used with them such as egg and sperm. I consider these medical terms not inappropriate words, but I guess it is all in how you view it. So the next time Julian asked I was simpler and just told him God put him there. He was fine with both answers and did not ask any follow up questions at either time. So, if you hear them say, “My bladder is full,” which they do often you will know I am just teaching them anatomy 101!

My goal as a parent is to tell them the truth while protecting them from more mature topics. I just do not want them to be shocked when they realize their gene pool is not the same as mine and Brian’s. It should be no big deal, but in reality it is and one day they will have to come to terms with being adopted. I pray they view it as just another part of their story, like staying in the NICU for 46 days is also their story. It is my prayer that Julian and Natalie will see their whole birth process as a miracle and testimony to God’s love for them, because for me embryo adoption is a miracle from God just as they are.

KENTUCKY STATE PENTINENTIARY AND NURSE MAID’S ELBOW

Wednesday started like any normal day. I snoozed the alarm three times (sorry, Jer), and eventually rolled out of bed at 6:00. Maria heard me and started to fuss, so I nursed them, put them back down, and proceeded to get ready. I wasn’t relishing the fact that I had a three hour drive before me. Nor, was I excited about the fact that the two of my three hours on the road would be spent on the rainy Western Kentucky Parkway, which has a tendency to be possessed even on sunny days. I had printed my directions to the office where I was scheduled to give a presentation and pulled out of my driveway at 7:20…right on schedule. Eddyville, here I come!

It was the last 15 minute of my drive where I went wrong. Against my instincts, I trusted Google Maps and proceeded to follow the directions even though the signs kept pointing the Kentucky State Penitentiary. Yes, the pen is in the same town where my meeting was, so I thought I was okay, even though it didn’t look like the last time I went there. I should have trusted my instincts. Apparently, in Eddyville (pronounced Eddivull), there is old Eddyville and new Eddyville and Google maps took me to the wrong one. As I wound through narrow roads, I knew it didn’t feel right…and as I popped over a rise and saw the Cumberland River, I knew it wasn’t right … in fact, right in front of me were the menacing barbed wire fences to the penitentiary. My heart was racing as I feared being lost and coming across escaped prisoners. Lord, I want to see my babies again! I came down the hill and turned away from the jail and back toward what I hoped was civilization. I looked at my phone to call a co-worker for directions and my signal read “SOS”…seriously?!?!? Drove a little further and finally I had enough signal to phone and at the same time came to a busy intersection. I might just make it! Only one more turn and I saw our signature KU bucket trucks lined up like soldiers and knew I was going to live. Praise the Lord!

I conducted my meeting, the sun came out and I proceeded back home. When I arrived, Jeremy was eating a snack and preparing for his own nap. Everything else was quiet. Kids were napping, but he told me that Grant had “tweaked his arm.” He proceeded to tell me that he put them down at about 3:45 and at 4:00 he heard Grant’s “hurt cry.” He went in and said he was favoring his left arm, but he rocked him until he fell asleep and he put him back down. Right around 5:00, I hear fussing from the nursery and went in to get them. Maria was standing; Grant was on his back, but awake and seemingly not happy about it. I picked him up and he wailed. I proceeded to inspect his arm to see what I could find. He wasn’t lifting it and it was obviously in pain. We came to the living room, where I tried to get a better look. Maria was concerned and brought Grant his teddy bear and blanket. I thanked her for being such a good sister. Grant continued to cry so I got Jeremy. Obviously, he was hurt, so I did the only thing I knew to do…I nursed him. He was comforted and quieted by this while Jeremy and I discussed our strategy. We called my mom for a second opinion and agreed our first call would be to our good friend and trusted chiropractor. He sees the babies on a regular basis and I wanted to make sure our problem wasn’t stemming from his neck.

We arrived at Brett’s office at 6:00 and he checked out Grant and felt on his arm and shoulder and checked his neck. He determined the issue wasn’t from his spine and that his shoulder was drawn forward and we needed to go get him checked further. While we were at it, Maria’s spine was checked and she was in good shape, too, no adjustments needed for either one. Mom and I dropped Maria off at home with Jeremy and we went to the local children’s hospital. Thankfully, there is a new out-patient center about 20 minutes away that we’ve heard great things about and hoped it would be quicker than the downtown children’s hospital. That was the right call. We checked in and were immediately seen. Of course, they start asking questions and I’m fearful that soon CPS will be in to investigate. I tell the doctor what Jeremy told me….he put them down for naps and then heard his “hurt cry.” “Are you sure he didn’t hit something hard or fall on the ground?” she asked as she felt on Grant and he screamed. She bent his elbow back and forth then walked away. I knew it…CPS was going to be on their way. Grant stopped crying and the nurse asked a couple more questions and the doctor returned with a popsicle. They proceeded to tell us that it seems he had nursemaids elbow which is a dislocation of the elbow joint. No wonder he was so uncomfortable! It’s not uncommon in toddlers and she showed us how to fix it if it happens again. Within a few minutes he started moving his arm again and we were discharged without a CPS inquiry. He walked out of his room confident and smiling. He was so excited to play with the toys in the waiting area, that he threw a fit when I picked him up to go to the car. That’s my boy! I was happy to have him back.

We were in and out in less than 30 minutes and we still managed to get him in bed by 8:00. Not bad for our first ever ER visit. I doubt it will be our last!

WEEKEND FUN

This weekend was an exciting time for us. The twins ask all the time if we can go stay in a hotel and this weekend we did. We just took a weekend trip to Pigeon Forge. We went horseback riding, then back to the hotel for a swim the first night. The next day I got to go shopping with a dear friend while Brian took the kids swimming, to Rainforest Adventures and then for lunch. By 3pm he could not find anything else to do with them, so he tracked me down. After I finished my lunch with my friend and said our goodbyes, the family and I went back to the hotel for a needed rest.

When they woke we then headed to Gatlinburg to the Ripley’s Aquarium. It was nice seeing the beautiful Christmas lights that were already up in the town and learning about all the fish. Julian’s favorite fish was the Cuttle fish, while I liked the puffer fish, dad liked the sharks and Natalie liked the Spider Crab. Last year when we went the twins cried because they were so scared in the dark part of the aquarium. It is amazing how much can change in a year. They were not scared at all and loved learning about all the underwater animals. After the aquarium we went to Johnny Rocket’s. While we were waiting for our food we went around the table telling what we loved about one another. Julian’s answer was priceless. He said he loved giving kisses to Daddy, snuggling with Natalie, and loving Mommy! Natalie said she loved snuggling with Julian and Mommy, but with Daddy she loved tickling each other. Mommy and Daddy’s answers seemed to pale in comparison.

The next day we met Brian’s parents at Dollywood. The twins love riding all the rides and going to the candy store! They also love being with their grandparents. Their favorite rides at Dollywood are the Veggie Tales Roller Coaster and the train ride. Whenever we leave, they always tell us what we managed to miss that day. I am sure we will go back again soon, but it did get us all in the Christmas Spirit.

The twins are singing in the church choir and are practicing the songs for the Christmas play in the car. Not only do they know their songs, but now they are also playing out the parts of the play. Julian is very excited to give gifts this year knowing the joy he will receive from it. He has already got my gift and knows what he wants to get Natalie. When we saw Grammy this weekend he asked her what she wanted. Teaching children how to care and think of others really does work!