January 30, 2015

Our Littlest Gift

As I understand it, "grace" is a gift from God which allows us to do and experience and understand things we couldn't do, experience, or understand on our own. Our lives without grace may lack direction or leave us unfulfilled - my guess is because we don't understand what God wants of us. When we know which way to turn next, it is because of grace.  We tend to think of grace as a happy, soothing feeling, but I'm not sure that's always the case. I think sometimes grace hitches a ride with more painful experiences. The kind after which we reflect and say "if not for that, I might never have gotten to this". I think it is in feeling the glow that embraces us when we are with "this" that we can appreciate the grace we've been given.

So in a nutshell, I think grace is a gift from God - received many times over, mind you - which gives us peace and direction and helps guide us toward the things we should be doing and experiencing in our lives. When the chromosomal test results on my miscarried baby came back telling us it was a girl, it just seems right that we decided to name our daughter Grace.

Ephesians 2:8 sums it up quite nicely for me: For by grace you were saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God.  Our littlest gift sent us on the path toward adoption now, already knowing that whoever the child is we bring into our family at this time, it will be because of Grace.

January 15, 2015

What's It All About, Anyway

We have a lot of expectations in (and of) this life.  

For many of us, those expectations include having kids and building a family.  Obviously, this has been a topic of great importance to me lately, for at least the last 20 months of trying to conceive at a minimum.  At the outset, I had some pretty basic expectations of the stages involved, and what choices or options or components there might be with each one.

This is your first glimpse into how my brain works, isn't it.  Yes, I think in flowcharts, lists, and graphics - so what ;)
That was pretty much how I thought it went for most people, for quite a while.  It was my impression growing up and through the first several months of trying.  But maybe a year ago, I began to learn that a whole lot of people - including us - have to consider a few more things.

Oh yes, for those of you who may not have had the opportunity to explore things at this level, it's just a bundle of fun.  I'd like to add that the monitoring accompanies just about all parts of this process, unless you're fortunate enough to sustain the pregnancy and graduate to abdominal ultrasounds.

But what happens when it doesn't work?

This is when the questions start that have no answers, such as what method is most likely to be successful?  Or the most painful question, why?  And one of the hardest - what does moving on mean for me?

It's within this last box that I've been living.  What do I do now?  Do I keep trying?  If so, which methods are open to me, and which can I handle?  What if I run out of options?  What if I simply can't handle this same path anymore?

And most recently we've confronted the question of what's it all about anyway?  What is it we're really after and why?  It is these answers that are setting us on our next leg of the journey.

Shawn and I are seriously looking into adoption.  But as we discussed today, it's not because we've exhausted everything else, that we think this is the "only way" to have a family.  And we don't care for it when people act like that's why we'd make this decision.  We are genuinely excited at the prospect.  Bringing someone into our family through this process is going to be a great, if trying, experience and this new aspect of how our family will unfold gets us going.  The way we see it, I have other options.  I can continue the treatments I've been doing, for instance.  But the other day I had a realization.  All along I've wondered if I "should" have kids, knowing what I could pass on, and if that's a reason at a bigger-picture level for why it isn't working.  What if the issue isn't so much - or entirely - what I could pass on but what the process might do to me?  Once you get into the heavier treatments, you put your body through a LOT.  Otherwise healthy women struggle with the chemical manipulation, physical restrictions, and side effects of the treatments on their bodies.  You have to trick your body into doing things, even into thinking it's pregnant so it won't reject the baby.  As someone with my kind of complex history, how will my body endure these experiences?  If I do manage to successfully "fake it 'till I make it", I'm almost guaranteed to have a major flare afterward, and as we all know we can't predict the lasting effects of these experiences.  What could this do to me as a mother?  And what would it do to Shawn as a father if he had to care for a new baby and me at the same time?  What if this is really about my ability to raise my children?

What's it all about, anyway?  Why do we want to have kids?  Because we want to be parents.  Once in a moment of guilt I told Shawn I feared how he might feel if I was the reason he couldn't have kids and he pointed out that he didn't marry me just to HAVE kids, he married me because he wanted to be parents with me; it was so we could RAISE kids.  For us, it's all about the family we'll have and not so much about how we have it.  

For as old as I generally feel and while it's true my body is not a typical 28 year old body, when it comes to the fertility world I am still young.  We could get five years down the line, decide we still want to try for a biological child, and have time to work with.  Adopting in no way closes any doors at all for how we'll continue to build our family.  But continuing with treatments right now no longer seems right.  We're not closing any doors - we feel that if I were to get pregnant naturally at this point it would indicate to us that my body would equipped to handle it and we'd welcome that - but we aren't going to try to force it for a while.  But it is still the right time for us to begin raising kids, so we're turning to the adoption world, and couldn't be more excited.

This is an incredibly personal decision, and I absolutely expect that you will each have your own opinions and answer for what it's all about to you.  I completely respect your decisions and know I can count on you to respect ours.

January 1, 2015

Embrace, Cuddle, Squeeze, Hold

Look at that face!  Found here.
I'm a hugger.  Always have been, always will be, and the older I get the more I appreciate this about myself.  I just never "got" kissing, especially in non-romantic way.  And no my parents didn't "kiss me" all that much that I can recall but they did sometimes, they certainly kissed each other in front of me, and I was very, very loved so I don't think it stems from some childhood issue.  I just prefer hugs.

I remember when I was getting to know my now-husband's family (all 1,000 of them, or at least it feels like that).  Most of them are huggers, too, like his mom's family.  But his step-father's family, they're cheek kissers.  I didn't take to that too quickly.  I had to work very hard over many years at consciously staying calm for the kiss-greetings and especially the kisses goodbye.  Eventually I got used to it and now it doesn't cause me stress, but I'd still just rather have a good hug.

So I asked myself, "why hugs?  What's so great about a hug?  Why develop such a strong preference?"  This led to a few observations:

  1. When we hug, we show the other person we support them.  Physically, we actually do support them a little bit.  Ever topple over or stumble from a hug?  It's because the people engaged in a hug are throwing each other a little off balance and then holding the other person up.  When you hug, you are literally helping support the other person.
  2. When we hug, we get support.  Same deal, going the other way.  In my opinion, this is why the "hugs" we exchange with people we don't really like (you know, there's always that relative you don't really want to see but have to be nice to kind of thing) aren't full bodied, two-armed hugs.  They're usually side hugs and arm pats.  Because we don't believe we will be supported (and perhaps, don't want to support them either).  In a real hug, the other person helps hold you up.
  3. When we hug, we let ourselves go.  Ever start to hug someone then burst into tears?  When you're that close, heart-to-heart really, it's hard to have barriers or facades.  That's how it should be.  
Virginia Satir, author and social worker, said "we need four hugs a day for survival.  We need eight hugs a day for maintenance.  We need twelve hugs a day for growth".  What a wise lady.

So next time you give a hug, go ahead and indulge.  Close your eyes, hold on just a split second longer than you have to.  Take a full breath in and let it out before letting go.  Remember you're hugging this person because they mean something to you, and "tell" then that with your hug.

I just love hugs.  And I'm apparently not the only one: enjoy the Top Ten Cutest Hugs of All Time!