Is It Because He’s Adopted?

Photobucket

Last Tuesday was a hard day.

It started with (yet another) email from Brae’s kindergarten teacher. He was acting out in school. Again. Throwing things. Being “mean” to other kids. Acting silly. Obnoxious.

Tygh and I were discussing appropriate consequences just as Brae was walking through the door. I opened his backpack to discover (yet another) note from Brae’s extended kindergarten day teacher about more unacceptable behavior.

I about lost it.

Not angry.

Sad. Disappointed. Embarrassed.

We don’t model this behavior for him. We don’t teach it. We don’t preach it.

So why is he acting out?

Nothing has changed at home.

I went for a walk to clear my head.

That’s when the small nagging voice that creeps up in moments like this began to get louder.

Is it because he is adopted?

I cried.

No, I reasoned. That’s not what this is about.

Right?

In my non-teary-eyed, logical state, I know, intellectually, that it is absurd to think that Brae’s kindergarten behavior is because he is adopted. Brae knows he is adopted. We’ve never kept that a secret. He sees his biological family once a year and we stay in regular communication with them. It’s a beautiful, open relationship.

So I know that the “is it because he’s adopted” inquiry is not grounded in reality. Instead, it is rooted in insecurity.

My own insecurity that I’m not doing a good job at being his mom. That, somehow, the fact that it is not my blood that runs through his veins is the cause of any misbehavior. That, somehow, because I did not give birth to him will be the direct cause of him failing in life.

Absurd.

Crazy.

Illogical.

But, still, it’s a thought that creeps up in my moments of weakness.

When I got back from my walk, Tygh came up to me. He had news. He and Brae had a talk. Tygh was trying to get to the bottom of his behavior. Why was he acting out at school?

As a 6-year-old, Brae didn’t have a lot of answers. He couldn’t really explain his behavior.

As a parting question, Tygh asked if there was anything he could do to help him – with anything.

Brae looked up at him with big, doe-eyes, and said, “Daddy, I can’t read. Other kids in my class are reading big-kid books. I can’t.”

My heart sank all over again.

I knew he had been struggling to read. I didn’t know that he felt an inferiority because of it.

Insecurities flooded me all over again. But, this time, I knew this couldn’t be explained because he was adopted.

It’s explained by him being just a little boy. A kid. A competitive kid. In a high-performing school. Coming face-to-face for the first time with a feeling of peer inadequacy.

I cried all over again. Because, as his mom, adoptive mom or not, I cannot protect him from this feeling, or feeling it again.

This is life.

And it’s hard.

Britney

Thankful

I have much for which to be thankful this year and every year. I think it would be trite to say that I’m thankful for my family and friends because I’m not sure thankful is a big enough word to capture my feelings toward those people in my life. So yes, I’m extraordinarily thankful for my family, friends and the life that I have. I’m also thankful for much more. Here is a list…and I’m sure this is not everything….

I’m thankful for (in no particular order):
• My church where not only the gift of salvation is shared, but also sin and grace. The truth is spoken in love and I’m regularly challenged to be a better person and to walk closer with Christ. (And for the couple who saves our seats for us each Saturday.)
• My morning gym time and the friends that I’ve developed over the last 2 1/2 years. The 6 a.m. crowd is a very steady crowd year round. I find encouragement as well as listening ears in the group of ladies that get ready together each morning.
• My spin instructor for pushing me harder than I would push myself…especially at 6:00 in the morning. He says things like” “You made the choice to get out of bed this morning.” “Most people in this city today will not work as hard as you are working right now.” “Are you in the discomfort zone?”
• My job where I have great co-workers and the ability the grow and stretch myself professionally.
• My physical therapist who talked me off the ledge last week and let me know I have several more options that don’t include knee surgery to address my pain and preserve me knees as much as I can (for a person who has 60 year old knees).
• Making a school decision for Grant and Maria. We’ve tried our hand at homeschooling and while Jeremy is doing a great job at pre-K, we know this isn’t what is best for us for the long haul. They will be attending a small Catholic school about five minutes from our house. I felt at home the moment I walked through the door…maybe it was my Catholic school upbringing or that it was just what is right for us; either way I’m looking forward to being a part of the community.
• Grant for making me smile when I want to fuss at him for getting out of bed the 100th time…”Mommy….I need to tell you something….I like you.” And his silly body language and twinkling eyes.
• Maria for making me laugh when she looks at Jeremy and says with an emphatic tone that oozes with the sass of a 13 year old, “Daaaaaad.” I also love her spunk and her awesome hair (and the fact that before we meet someone new she asks if they have good hair).
• Jeremy for the little and big things like prudent management of our grocery budget and knowing exactly how many buns are needed for the week. 🙂
• My closest friends…you know who you are.
• My parents and in-laws for loving our children unconditionally and doing their part to spoil them rotten.
• Our two cats…one who only loves me for my gray sweatpants that must remind her of her mother and the other who loves me in spite of marrying Jeremy and bringing another cat, a dog (RIP, Charlie) and two kids into her life.
• My new-found enjoyment of cooking and baking with the kids and feeling bold enough to alter a recipe on the first try. There is something about having a kitchen with a spacious counter that has brought out the Betty Crocker in me.
• Grant and Maria’s gymnastic coaches for having amazing patience with preschoolers and for lovingly encouraging them to improve upon their skills each and every week.
• The Embryo Adoption Support groups that I’m a part of who have validated many of the roller coaster feelings I’ve had regarding our unconventional road to parenthood.
• Those who advocate for the tiniest of lives and see that a person is a person no matter how small.

Wishing everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving. May you be thankful in all circumstances.

Thanksgiving Cheers!

Sarah

Happy Thanksgiving to all NEDC Moms! November is another month of adoption transfers at NEDC. How exciting! As an NEDC mom, I am praying for the women, embryos, and staff of NEDC. I know there will be success stories along with disappointment of those who didn’t get the outcome they had hoped for. I do want to encourage those who are feeling worried and those who have experienced loss that hope is what helps us all survive the good with the bad. God has a divine plan for each family and each frozen miracle.

I look back at all the struggles and pain in my past and can now see it was taking the good with the bad that gave me hope to continue to seek what God had planned for me. I am so thankful and relieved that I didn’t quit and give up when the struggles were hard and outcomes disappointing. I also realize now that the pain of loss and struggles through this journey have given me strength and a voice with friends and women who have crossed my path in times of need. If I had not experienced what miscarriage is and pain of pregnancy problems and birth disappointments with C-Sections, I would be less effective in helping those who struggle when they have crossed my path in this life.

Thanksgiving will be a struggle this year as I am too nauseous to enjoy food and have to skip the pumpkin pie as sugar makes it unbearable! I am willing to choose to be thankful and embrace it all because of the gift of life inside. I will take time this week to be thankful for the gains and losses in my life and the beauty in simplicity and complexity. I hope we “Moms” can reflect on those precious moments that come through hard work and be thankful with all the gifts that God brings through life and relationships.

A Great Idea

Photobucket

I saw another adoptive mom post on her Facebook page today a truly great idea. I was so inspired, I literally put my blow dryer down and walked out to the computer, hair still wet.

This mom set up an email account for her daughter. She is going to give it to her, and the password, when she is 18. From now until then, she is going to send emails to her daughter. On her 18th birthday, her daughter can read these memories, some 17 years in the making.

I was inspired.

I immediately set up accounts for Brae, Sienna, and Graem.

Then, I sent them their first email:

Hello Brae, Sienna, and Graem!

I hope this email finds you well!

Mommy is starting a little adventure. I’ve created these email accounts for you. On the day you move out of the house and start your own next chapter of adventure, I will give you these email accounts, along with the passwords.

Over the next many years, I’m going to be writing to you. So, if you look in your inbox right now, you should have many, many, many emails from me over the years. Every time I’ve wanted to write to you, I did, sending you an email. It’s my way of speaking to you over the years, and sending you photos, etc. I hope you will treasure reading these emails as much as I know I will sending them to you.

I’m so excited for this and I want you to know YOU ARE LOVED. By the God of the Universe, and by your Mommy and Daddy.

xoxoxo

Britney

Blessing From Above

Sarah

Thanksgiving is right around the corner. I am 11 weeks this week and am excited to celebrate the season with family, great food, and a heart of thankfulness. I am still struggling with nausea but it seems to be getting a little better each week. I am looking forward to the season; however, that is not what has been on my mind as much as the Thanksgiving family gathering.

I have been trying to figure out the best time to tell the family about my pregnancy. It is a hard decision as people’s reactions can be very different. I feel after you have more than one child, announcing a pregnancy seems to be more difficult when dealing with people, especially family. There are those people who will not see adding a child to your life as a beautiful gift, but a burden or bad money decision. Even my own mom has said in the past, “Aren’t you busy enough?”! It is so off on how God has helped me to see the lives of my children and the gift of adoption! And the hardest part is that I have to see these people again and again.

I know I should not care what people think, even my own family, but it is hard to find the right time and words to share what is important to me. I know this will be my last pregnancy and I don’t want it ruined by what people feel about my situation. I feel like hiding for the rest of this event because I don’t want anybody raining on my parade! Currently, there are a lot of families sharing their announcements on Facebook. I am still thinking about that option – then I won’t have to be face to face with the people who feel the need to express their opinions far too strongly.

I haven’t decided yet when to announce my secret, and may not at all and just let people see the beautiful package that grows inside. I know now what I have decided to focus on for the season and what’s precious to me, and that is the gift of my children and supportive husband. In Matthew 19:14, Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” That is where my heart will be this season.

Attached is Vivienne, almost 22 months, in her Olaf costume Halloween 2014. IMG_0774

Twin Questions

We still get a lot of questions regarding twins. These include:

“Are they identical?” Uhh, is the fact that one is a boy and one is a girl not your first clue? They have different plumbing!

“Do they have different personalities?” They are two different people so, yes.

“Do they get along?” Yes, they are best friends and arch enemies. They are extremely bonded, but also know how to push each other’s buttons.

“Do they have their own language?” They understand each other when we sometimes can’t and there are times when no words are exchanged, but they will simultaneously get up and switch seats or positions. There is a mental connection that I don’t think non-twin siblings have.

“Did you know you were having twins?” This typically comes from someone older but, yes….we knew very early – 6 weeks and 3 days to be exact.

“How far along did you make it when you were pregnant?” 32 weeks…which is generally followed by “That’s really good for twins.” No, actually, it is not good. Plenty of women go 37 plus weeks with their twins. Had they not been born in the modern era of medicine they would have likely not survived. By the grace of God they were a good size and were breathing well on their own. Our NICU experience certainly made me stronger and more compassionate, but I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone.

“What was it like carrying twins?” I have nothing to compare it to, but there were days when there was a dance party on my bladder and, without the aid of 39 pillows, I would not have slept…and it’s a good thing Jeremy worked 3rd shift because there was not room for him in the bed.

To me, the following are attempts to find out if we used fertility treatments:

“Were you surprised to find out you were having twins?” Depending on the situation I will either give a very short “No” which I think leads to more questions that the inquirer isn’t brave enough to ask or I will simply say “No, we had a little help.”

“Do twins run in the family?” I can honestly answer yes to this questions as there are twins on both sides of my family. However, I usually take this questions as a fishing expedition and I’m getting to the point where I don’t like it. I know people are naturally curious about twins, but does it really matter how they came to be twins? Is there something more magical about twins who came about spontaneously or twins who were fought for and spent 7 years on ice? Both are pretty awesome if you ask me.

Private Pain

Photobucket

At church, we are going through a series about social media and its role in each of our lives.

This series has re-opened my eyes to the deluge of social media in my life, and caused me to wonder a little more about the person behind all those “selfie” posts.

I don’t take selfies. Or, at least I don’t consider them selfies. Someone else takes the picture, so it’s not a selfie, right?

I used to be someone who basked in the limelight. Loved attention.

Not anymore. Perhaps it was the pain of infertility for so many years, or perhaps it is just the maturity that comes with age, but I’m much more introspective than I used to be. I’ve retreated from the limelight for the comfort of a more subtle glow.

I prefer to be the observer than the observed now.

I have hundreds of friends. At least according to Facebook.

In reality, I have a handful of friends I feel truly comfortable around. Who know my joys, my sorrows, my fears, my delights, and who have walked beside me in my private pain.

Infertility being the biggest private pain I’ve ever suffered.

Sure, I’ve been very open and very public about our infertility. But, unless you’ve been through it, it is still a very private, raw, deeply personal pain. I’m not even sure my husband could relate to the vacancy I felt when I was in the throes of infertility.

I’m not even sure I could recognize today the person that I was then.

I can look back at pictures from during that time. Pictures of me, with a smile on my face. Hiding a broken heart.

I know I’m not the only one who has concealed private pain behind a beautiful shade of red lipstick.

In fact, I’m pretty positive that when I pull up Facebook tonight, I’ll find a dozen other “friends” who are masking their own private pain.

I may never know exactly who they are at any given time, or what exactly they are hiding, but there are some things I can do to connect with them in their time of distress.

I can be real. I can be honest. I can share the joys of my world without bragging about them. I can celebrate the goodness of life without acting like I’m the cause of it.

I can be grateful.

There is a saying that no one will ever remember all the things you said to them, but they will always remember the way you made them feel.

I try to keep that in mind every time I go online, and comment on someone’s post or picture, or share a “status” of my own.

Humility. Gratitude. And most of all, a little sense of humor.

Even if I, too, am hiding some private pain.

Update

Sarah

Last week, I reached 9 weeks and had my 2nd ultrasound. I was so excited, nervous and waiting in anticipation that everything would be normal and growing strong. The baby was measuring accurately and the HB was 188. It was awesome to behold! It was a full circle of new memories and closure of sorrow and pain. The doctor that was helping me was a physician that had tried many years to help us conceive. He had grieved with our loss and pain along with us. He met my daughter for the first time and now was able to see us through with a surprise sibling for her. He himself was very surprised with the success we have had with embryo adoption.

Seven years ago, I would have never been able to see the future of healing and hope God has brought us. I am so thankful in the wonderful blessing of finding NEDC and the stories that have given us hope, as well as experiencing embryo adoption ourselves. Now, again, I have the joy of a new life growing inside me. It is defiantly a highlight of the holiday as Thanksgiving approaches.

I have not revealed our news to family as I am still struggling with my emotions and the pregnancy outcome. I was told I had a subchorionic bleed near the baby. I had this with my first successful pregnancy; however, this was one was larger than the last one. It just looked very scary on the ultrasound. I have had no bleeding but I am hoping and praying this will go away and it will be uneventful during the pregnancy. I have done my research on this and know this can be common with IVF. However, I have read stories of bad outcomes and women who did not have a live baby in the end. I know I will be getting follow-up testing done. I am holding on with hope and prayers all will be fine and we will have the sibling we have been dreaming of!

Graem’s 4 Month Check-Up

Photobucket

I breathed a huge sigh of relief coming out of Graem’s 4-month-checkup.

After a bumpy start to life, he is finally on par with other full-term babies. He weighed in at 13.9 lbs (60th percentile, age adjusted), and is in the 75th percentile (age adjusted) for height at over 25 inches.

He also laughed the entire visit.

He’s not yet rolling over, which many 4 monthers are, so there is a bit of his prematurity showing there.

The doctor gave the “go” for solid foods, and I headed straight to the grocery store. I love shopping for baby food.

We tried carrots first. And, I think maybe he got a total of one teaspoon in his mouth.

He’s sleeping between 5-8 hours straight at night, and averages 4 naps/day.

He loves going on runs in the stroller with me.

He adores playing with his older brother. Sienna still mostly keeps a safe distance from him.

He loves to be tickled on his inner thigh, and his collar bone.

He loves baths.

He is the kind of baby that makes you think you could do another 3 more.

Dot, dot, dot.

Sigh.

Here he is on Halloween, wearing the same costume Brae wore home from the hospital.

graem halloween

Hearts Beating

Sarah

I will finally have my second ultrasound next week. I am so excited! I do feel everything is right on track. I do hope and pray for good news. On my first ultra sound, my baby’s heartbeat was 120. With my first successful transfer, my baby girl always had a high heart rate when I had my ultrasounds (over 160). I have been doing my research again on heartbeats and gender differences. This was actually a thesis I was going to research for my Midwife degree. I am fortunate to know many midwives and doctor friends. When I started training I was very curious to see for myself this correlation of heartbeats and gender identification. I still have many questions and more research to do.

The blogs are full of this discussion, and I am curious to see if my baby’s heartbeat will be higher or lower on this next ultrasound. In my research, some of my conclusions are that heartbeats are not always consistent with gender identification. I don’t feel in my opinion that God would have made it that easy. However, I did find a study in the journal of Pediatric Research which did a study on newborns and heartbeat rhythms. Their conclusion was that boys do have a slightly lower heart rate than girls. I have also done some interviews with some professionals and most have told me that boys struggle at birth more than girls do in stressful situations. If the baby is slightly premature, a newborn girl frequently does better than if it is a boy. If there are twins that are born premature, and one is a girl and one is a boy, many neonatal specialists and nurses expect the girl to do better and improve faster if both are initially distressed. Boys can run lower in their heartbeat rhythms and become higher over time.

I know it should not matter at all, as long as it is healthy baby! I also will not be disappointed by any gender, for this pregnancy is an awesome wonderful gift! It has been fun to research, interview and see for myself the differences of gender in the womb. I hope to do more research in fetal development and gender differences. It would be nice to hear from others what experiences they have had with heart rate and gender outcomes.