Saturday, December 20, 2014

Incomplete Family at Christmastime

Christmas is not necessarily a happy time for all of us.  I am not saying the whole season is terrible for me.  I definitely enjoy the majority of it!  But as we go through this waiting-to-adopt time, and as God grows a sensitivity in me toward others and their individual situations, I am starting to see that there is pain involved in holidays, too.

As I go Christmas shopping and to all the gatherings and parties, and just in general interact with more people than I usually do, this year I am going to try to be more sensitive with my "Merry Christmas!"es.  I would encourage you to do the same; think and pray carefully before writing the same greeting in each Christmas card.

I also think there is some validity in what I heard somewhere recently:  it's more painful to have your painful situation ignored than acknowledged.  So maybe instead of writing "May you and your family have a happy Christmas!", write "This Christmas must be tough for you.  You're in my thoughts & prayers."  (I haven't lost any loved ones very close to me, so if you have other thoughts on this topic, please feel free to leave a comment.)

There are such a wide variety of painful or confusing situations that people may be going through this Christmas, including but not limited to:  (Please forgive me if in anyway I have not worded these sensitively.)
  • having lost a loved one, including miscarriage or stillbirth
  • divorce, separation, marriage difficulties
  • infertility
  • loved one working/living far away and can't come home for Christmas
  • empty arms while waiting to adopt
  • loved one hospitalized, or you yourself hospitalized
  • single
  • you or loved one has cancer or other disease
  • family tensions and unforgiveness
  • financial problems
  • spiritual struggles; trying to figure out what you believe
  • trying to find your birth family or have recently reconnected with them  
  • job issues
As my mother-in-law once told me, you never know what someone's going through.  That is so true.  Behind people's tough demeanor, or calm face, or cheery attitude, everybody has a story.  We don't necessarily need to know what that story is, but I think everyone does deserve our sensitivity.  Especially during the holidays when emotions can be so fragile.

It's been interesting this Christmas season for me as this topic has been on my mind and heart.  The other day I was in a grocery store and I saw a lady busily shopping whose husband had passed away a year or two ago.  Another lady who knew her and her situation came up to her, put a hand on her shoulder, and kindly said "Merry Christmas.  Have a good one."  The first lady turned to continue her shopping and I saw that her face now looked bewildered.  I was left wondering how she felt -- hurt that she was told to have a good Christmas even though her husband was gone?  -- or blessed that the lady didn't cheerfully smile a "Merry Christmas!!" as if everything was fine?  I don't know.  Maybe she didn't even know herself.

For me personally, I find that I appreciate acknowledgement of the pain we feel, in not being parents yet.  Don't get me wrong, no one wants to be felt sorry for!  But thought (like not giving us the card that says "from our family to yours!"), kindness, and acknowledgment is always nice.  Keep your words genuine, gentle - and brief.  No one wants to cry at a gathering after all, lol!

At the same grocery store, same day, we were stopped by a lady we know and asked how things were progressing with our adoption.  I always appreciate it when people ask because it shows they care.  But I was rather surprised at how down I felt afterward.  And it is because of the Christmas season.  It is another Christmas without our baby.  Christmas is a time of family.  And lots of people feel their families are incomplete -- they are still single, or a family member has passed away, or their womb is empty, or their arms are empty, or they are separated from their spouse, or they don't live near their family, or fights have separated them from their parents, or a parent has lost their memory, or they have placed their child for adoption, etc -- and at Christmastime this incomplete feeling is often very much amplified.

I don't have much of a conclusion.  Perhaps, I hope you come away from reading this with a new awareness of what others might be going through, and a new sensitivity towards others when you interact with them this holiday season.  I also hope you feel your personal pain has been acknowledged.  Christmas is tough.  And I honestly think that's okay sometimes.  Not that it's okay to feel sorry for yourself, but neither do you need to be tough and ignore the pain and put on a false cheeriness.  If someone is kind enough to say to you "This Christmas must be tough for you" there is nothing wrong with simply saying "Thank-you, yes it is.  I appreciate your thinking of me."

I also hope that whether we are the comforter or the one in pain, or most likely both, that we deliberately take the time to be thankful for -- to use a cliche -- the Reason for the season.  Have you ever stopped to think about it that Jesus' earthly father was not His birth father?  And that when Jesus was crucified, His Father rejected Him?  (He rejected Him because all our sin was on Him.  The wages of sin is death and Jesus paid for our sin so we would not have to.)  Jesus understands pain.

He is also our comforter.  When nobody else understands how I feel, He does.  And that is already a big comfort to me just by itself.  

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God."  2 Corinthians 1:3-4    

Monday, December 15, 2014

Doubts and Truth

Every five weeks, for roughly a ten day stretch, I am an emotional, mental, and physical wreck.  Most women are, to a greater or lesser extent.  I fall into the "greater extent" category!  During this time, I doubt everything.  I doubt that my husband loves me.  I doubt that we will ever get matched, and assume that no expectant parents would ever like us.  I doubt that I am saved, or at the least I question what I believe.  I doubt that I will ever feel "normal" again, and assume that something is wrong with me.  Amongst many other things, during this time my brain is filled with fog, I do not like myself, everybody makes me irritable, and problems seem insurmountable.

Of course, once a certain "Aunt" shows up to visit, my whole world settles itself back on it's axis.  I regain my equilibrium and everything calms down again.  My husband loves me (he did all along).  Odds are we'll get matched one day, if it's God's will, and I'm content with that (usually).  I am saved (I was all along) and I know what I believe (usually).  I feel normal (my own unique version of normal, anyway!) and know that nothing was seriously wrong.  I realize I'm not ugly (whodda thunk?!), people are enjoyable (most of them), and I feel able to tackle problems (which were never that huge).

But time passes and I know that after a certain length of time I will once again be a trainwreck.  I have learned various ways of coping.  (No, medication is not one of them.  I have been down that long, dark road before and will never step foot onto it again.)  One is simply being aware of what day I am on so I can be prepared, knowing what to expect when.  Letting Hubby know where I'm at is helpful, too, so he can be prepared!  Another is fewer commitments during that time, and planning simpler meals - in advance.

But one of the things that has helped very much is facts.  Logic.  Thinking like a man, lol.  A man has a very hard time comprehending that, to a woman, what she is feeling feels like it IS factual!  That her feelings are incredibly REAL.  That these feelings do not seem "illogical" as many men like to state.  A wise man will comfort his wife when she is feeling all sorts of tumultuous feelings that are very real to her, without correcting her and telling her "that's not the way it really is".  A wise woman will accept his comfort, lol!  But as I was saying, I have found that when doubts assail me, telling myself facts is the way to go.

I like logic.  Facts.  Truth.  Solid things that don't change.  The more unsteady my life is, the more I like stability!  Christ's love for me doesn't change.  His salvation of me is secure - nothing I do or don't do will change that.  Usually I am not the hugest advocate for Scripture memorization because I have a very poor memory, but knowing some pertinent Bible verses that I can tell myself in times of doubt really does help.  And God's Word is solid truth that doesn't change!  Very reassuring when everything feels unsteady.

The other day I read Psalm chapter 3.  I read it along with John MacArthur's notes (he has very good notes as long as one ignores the Calvinism).  Here is the psalm, written by David when he fled, fearing for his life:

O Lord, how many are my foes!
Many are rising against me;
many are saying of my soul,
there is no salvation for him in God.
But You, O Lord, are a shield about me,
my glory, and the lifter of my head.
I cried aloud to the Lord,
and He answered me from His holy hill.
I lay down and slept;
I woke again, for the Lord sustained me.
I will not be afraid of many thousands of people
who have set themselves against me all around.
Arise, O Lord!
Save me, O my God!
For You strike all my enemies on the cheek;
You break the teeth of the wicked.
Salvation belongs to the Lord;
Your blessing be on Your people!   

For me, my enemies are my doubts.  During rough times, they are many, rising against me, and saying to my soul: "there is no salvation for you in God".  BUT God, praise His name, is a shield about me, protecting me, not allowing those doubts to be true.  I cry aloud to Him, and He answers me.  Usually doubts assail me the worst at night.  But here Scripture says I can lie down and sleep and wake again and do not need to be afraid because the Lord sustains me!  He saves me, fighting for me against my enemies - those wicked doubts.  Salvation belongs to God and He has blessed me!  Praise His holy name!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Motherhood Month - 13

Progress:  We have been waiting 1 year + 7 months since we were approved to adopt.

How I'm feeling:  Content and curious, waiting to see what God will do or not do.

Craving:  Cookies.  I have been doing a bunch of baking lately, and I went to a cookie exchange yesterday and came home with at least 4 dozen cookies, but I can't eat wheat and a bunch of other things, so I can't eat the majority of them.  I did make some Coconut Macaroons for myself but they are waiting in the freezer til Christmas :)

Thoughts about our future child:  Miss you.

Thoughts about our child's expectant mom:  Praying for you.

Most recent baby purchase/gift:  I may or may not have bought something for Hubby for Christmas :)

This month God:  Reassured me in a time of doubt.  Hopefully I'll take the time to write a post about that yet.

For other first-time prospective adoptive parents -- how long have you been waiting to adopt since being approved?  How much of your time do you find yourself thinking about/praying for/preparing for your future child?

Friday, November 14, 2014

Motherhood Month - 12

Progress:  Today is exactly 1.5 years since we were originally approved and started the official wait.  Early on when we were approved my husband and I each made predictions (not very seriously) of how long we each thought it would take til we were matched.  Hubby guessed 1.5 years and here we are today, no baby.  I guessed 2.5 years so we still have another year before I fail, too, ha!  Seriously, though, it could be any minute, any day, any year.  And with every day that passes, we are one day closer.  God's timing is best.

How I'm Feeling:  I wrote about this a fair bit just a couple days ago here.  I am feeling more positive, encouraged, and hopeful all around, but also more accepting of however things turn out.

Craving:  Nothing, I just finished eating Basil Pasta Shells.  Well, there are those Coconut Macaroons I just finished today...I'd eat another one of those :)

Thoughts About Our Future Child:  I just recently watched this video and it has definitely got me thinking about our future child, and our future adult child.  Definitely worth watching!

Thoughts About Our Child's Expectant Mom:  Feeling torn; wishing there was a way we could adopt without you having to go through the hard times coming up; knowing there isn't.

Most Recent Baby Purchase/Gift:  I don't think we have bought or received anything in quite a while.  However, I have been updating our Amazon baby registry as the Christmas shopping season approaches!

This Month God:  I am grateful to Him that He is always consistent, unchanging, and just there even when I can't sense His presence.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Epilepsy & Parenting

I've been debating whether to talk about this on my blog for two months.  Remember I mentioned back here that we'd been going through some difficult times?  And then I missed two Motherhood Months in a row.  Well, I am still here and we are still waiting to adopt.  But I did have a seizure.

I haven't hidden the fact that I have epilepsy from my readers nor from any potential birthparents who may read my blog (just to be clear, where I live, it is illegal to advertize ourselves, so this blog is not in any way intended to solicit birthparents to choose us).  I've mentioned it here, here, and most recently, here.  I've also mentioned it in the above tabs.

But I still have felt reluctant to talk freely about my epilepsy here.  My hesitation comes from a fear of not being chosen, the fear of all expectant adoptive parents.  When talking it over with Hubby last month, he said he thinks I should go right ahead and speak freely about my epilepsy on my blog.  After all, he said, how would our future child's birthparents feel if they realized, after they'd placed with us, that we'd kept this hidden from them?  I realized what he said made sense (although my epilepsy, like every other teeny-tiny part of our lives, is written up at our agency for potential birthparents to read anyway!).

Another (lesser) fear is that my readers will judge me for choosing to parent with epilepsy.  This one is fairly simply addressed by telling myself "Who cares what they think?"  Thankfully I have the kind of personality that I can tell myself that somewhat easily, haha.

My other completely wild, unfounded fear is that CFS would take away my child(ren) due to my epilepsy.  I think this fear comes from growing up in a [good] home where my parents fostered children for most of my childhood and teen years.  And I guess living in today's paranoid world, we are all aware of how quickly people will report even imagined things, and CFS will swoop in and devastate a family.  (Don't get me wrong, I know CFS does good as well; after all, my parents worked with them for years.  I just think people are too trigger-happy with their reporting, and that more emphasis should be put on helping families rather than breaking them apart.)  The way to comfort myself about this fear is reminding myself that (1) my doctor is completely on my side, and (2) there are many people who parent with disabilities, successfully.

So.  About that seizure.  I've had epilepsy, specifically Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy, for 14.5 years now.  Well, it's been that long since my first seizure.  I had it for probably 1/2 a year to a year or so before that.  So during that time I've had 7 seizures.  One in the year 2000, three in 2005, two in 2008, and then almost a full six years later (my record), I had seizure #7 on September 8, 2014.  As you can see, I don't have them frequently at all.  I do regularly get "jerks" (bilateral muscle spasms in my arms), though they seem to have settled into a "once a month" pattern for now.

So on September 8th, a Monday, I got up and went about my morning, making lunch and going online.  I was jerking a bit and decided to lie down.  I texted Hubby to let him know I was jerking and proceeded to rest.  I then had the seizure but did not realize it til later of course.  What I knew next was I was walking around disoriented, from room to room around the house, very nauseous and feeling terror.  I felt I needed to get help but could not recall any phone numbers.  When my mind cleared up enough that I could recall my husband's phone number, I phoned him and told him I was scared.  He came home immediately (he was there in 20 minutes!).  During that time I rested and my mind cleared up all the way and I realized I had had a seizure.  I knew this from past experience, although did I mention this was my very first seizure all alone?!?  All my other seizures someone has been there to prevent me from getting up, which apparently I always want to do when the seizure's over, and to comfort me, because I always feel terrified while coming to.  Well, anyway, I took all those factors into consideration, as well as the fact that my tongue was a bit bitten and my upper arms were incredibly sore; all normal.  Hubby came home, very concerned, and held my hand while I slept and recovered, sweet man of mine.

Here's to hoping I can beat my record and go over six years seizure-free this time!

Well, how did this seizure affect our thoughts and feelings toward adopting?  It definitely had a big effect for both of us.  I guess this seizure was a bit of wake-up call for us.  We knew epilepsy would affect our parenting, but we hadn't really talked about it thoroughly or made any specific plans.  Now, all of a sudden, both of us completely doubted my ability to parent.  We didn't talk about it immediately but each knew what the other was thinking.  I went from being completely excited about adopting (with the occasional "we'll never get matched" times, of course) to completely losing my joy.  I didn't read any of my (thousands of) adoption blogs I follow, nor blog here, nor read about adoption, dream about it, and I didn't even want to talk about it.  I felt completely --blank-- inside. 

When Hubby & I first approached the topic with each other, I broke down into those physically-painful sobs:  I could not, would not, consider not adopting.  I'd already had one dream - pregnancy - stolen from me, I would not have another!!  We decided to not talk further about it right then.  We prayed about it.  I read up about parenting with epilepsy.  We set a date to talk about it more thoroughly.  When we talked about it we found we were both scared about continuing but I wanted to more; he wanted to quit more.  We talked a couple times and never got upset with each other which was wonderful. 

We took some steps:  I made an appointment with my neurologist (well, I had to find a new one, so that appt's coming up) to see if he knows any parents with my specific kind of epilepsy.  I also talked to some family members to see how willing they would be to babysit in the early mornings for the first few years of Baby's life and that has been encouraging all around.  Hubby read what I had found on parenting with epilepsy.  He also talked with a trusted friend who I know is praying for us as well.  We agreed to continue, and if we get matched, awesome, and if not, perhaps that is God's way of saying "no".  I talked with my regular doctor and she was very encouraging, saying she supports me completely, that I will be a good parent, etc.  A close family member who is very supportive of us adopting has committed to helping babysit as needed.  Although we are now looking at things more realistically, we are all around feeling more hopeful.  My joy is returning.  Praise the Lord!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Where Is Your Heart?

A couple weeks ago, Caroline over at In Due Time, wrote this post, which inspired me to write this one:

What have you spent time getting to know?  Done research on?  Whom have you spent a lot of time with?  What have you spent a lot of time doing?  What do you find yourself talking about the most; thinking about the most?  What are you passionate about? 

Christ?  Studying God’s Word?  Praying for lost souls; praying for Christ to teach you?  Celebrities?  TV?  Gossip magazines?  Your hobby or passion and everything related to it?  Your spouse and strengthening your marriage?  Your children and making a better future for them?  Homeschooling?  Adoption?  Being healthy; avoiding bad foods; exercising?  Politics?  Human rights?  Equality for all?  Helping those in need?  Your pets?  Pet rights; shelters for pets; spay and neuter?  Gaming?  Organization; cleaning; homemaking?  Making money; being financially secure; moving up?  Cure for cancer or other disease?  Speaking up against abortion?  Food; cooking; recipes?  Flirting; finding that man who validates you?  Music?

I realize that not everything is bad in this very random list.  But remember:  “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  Matthew 6:21 (ESV)   

“The only way to get to know someone intimately is to spend time with them.  If you are married, think of when you were dating your now husband or wife.  If you are like most people, when you are first getting to know someone you desire to spend every free moment together to get to know them as good as you can, and if your marriage is healthy, that thought should last for your entire life together.  The same is true in our relationship with the Lord.” – Daryl Evans

Have you ever wondered why, as a Christian, you aren’t as passionate about Christ as you’d like to be?  Or do you sometimes feel almost annoyed at how passionate about Christ some Christians are?  Whatever (or WHOMever) you spend time getting to know, you will be passionate about.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Birthdays

Lots of pictures coming up... :)

My birthday was August 12th; I turned 32. 

To celebrate, we had my husband's parents over for a barbeque on Aug. 10th for supper.  We cooked a feast for them and my FIL sang "Happy Birthday" loudly for all the neighbours to hear (thanks, Dad).  They gave me a hammock that I have been wanting for a while and I enjoyed it over the remainder of the summer.


On the 12th, my actual birthday, I had a bit of a crummy day, but in the evening my husband and I went out to a local cafe that we both like.  It was super-busy and loud inside, so we sat outside, which ended up being really nice.  We had hot chocolates which we both decided were the best we'd ever had.






On the 16th we went to the zoo.  I think this was part of my birthday celebrations...but it may have just been because we wanted to; I can't remember!  Regardless, the weather was hot, and we got to see the new polar bear exhibit where you can see the bears swimming over you while you are standing in a clear tunnel, so it was a good time.



On the 17th, we had my side of the family down for the evening.  We had snacks (chips and Rhubarb Upside-down Cake) and here we are playing Probe.


On October 7th my Grandma, on my dad's side, turned 90.  NINETY.  My aunt put together a really nice evening at the care home my Grandma lives at.  She made a meal that was exactly like one my grandma would've cooked years ago.  She decorated the place nicely, there were pictures of my grandma when she was younger, a chalkboard that listed what grocery items cost back in 1924, treats that my grandma used to give to us grandkids, etc.  We took a lot of pictures; my grandma has always liked doing family photos but I think she was a little confused and overwhelmed.  I'm glad we celebrated her, though.  I gave her flowers from my flowerbed; she has always appreciated pretty things.




On the 16th was my husband's birthday; he turned the big 3-0.  We started off the birthday celebrations for him by going out to eat at Red Lobster with his parents and brother on the 13th.  His brother was out visiting for Thanksgiving weekend (from the 10th-13th; we had gatherings on the 11th and 12th).  Hubby really wanted his brother to be part of his birthday celebration, so we tagged along to the airport when Hubby's parents were bringing Hubby's brother there, and went out to supper first.


On the 16th, his actual birthday, he wanted to do the same thing we did for my birthday - go out to the cafe for hot chocolates :)  So we did.  This time it was very un-busy, so we got a couch/armchair corner inside which was nice as they're not always easy to get.  He was pretty tired, as it was a weekday evening, but it was still nice.





On the 17th we had my family over in the evening for snacks - chips & pop, Skor Trifle (his favourite), and spinach dip (definitely not his favourite).  It was a good evening.





On the 18th the two of us went to the aviation museum.  It had been many years since he'd been there and I'd never been there.  Unfortunately the displays were not all in the best condition and the descriptions needed some serious updating, and there was a wedding going on which pretty much forced us out of there, but otherwise it was good for the most part and I'm glad we went.





So those were the big birthday celebrations in August and October!  In September my side of the family went to a cabin for a weekend; something we do every Fall and it was gorgeous weather and a good time.  One of my sisters & her husband celebrated their 10th anniversary in October by going to Yellowstone; there is a number of anniversaries in my family in Fall.  And of course (for us Canadians) there was Thanksgiving in October as well, so with that came 3 family gatherings.  The next big thing is Christmas, oh my!  Not sure if I'm prepared for that yet... :)