Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Motherhood Month - 14

Progress:  Today we have been waiting exactly 1 3/4 years since being approved.  It's been roughly just over 7 years since I first desired to become a mom.

How I'm Feeling:  I'm alright. 

Craving:  Food! would be good.  Yeah, I'll take pizza.

Thoughts About Our Future Child:  Praying for you.

Thoughts About Our Child's Expectant Mom:  Praying for you.

Most Recent Baby Purchase/Gift:  I bought my hubby these bibs for Christmas (he's a pilot).
Hubby bought me this bib for Christmas (I enjoy photography and have studied it).
Camera ) Bib ) Colors Available

This Month God:  Has been teaching me a lot!  The more time I spend in His Word (the Holy Bible) dwelling on truths, the more He is in my thoughts and I grow closer to Him.   

Monday, January 5, 2015

Summing up 2014...Looking Forward to 2015

To read my summing up 2012 post, click here.
To read my hopes for 2013, click here.
To read my summing up 2013 post, as well as my hopes for 2014, click here.

2014 did not have as many things happen in it as 2012 and 2013.  The biggest things that happened in our lives in 2014 were:
  1. We put our condo up for sale in March.   We looked at a few houses and made an offer on one which wasn't accepted.  Our condo was shown about 13 times with no offers.  We took our condo off the market at the end of June as it didn't seem like the right timing for us.  
  2. We reached one year of waiting.  We had not been shown at all.  We updated our adoption profile.
  3. We celebrated some big birthdays - my oldest niece's 15th, my mother-in-law's 55th, my mom's 65th, my brother's 40th, and my husband's 30th!
  4. I had a booth at a local fair getting word out about my business, Regal Gifts.
  5. Hubby & I went on an amazing camping trip from July 3-6.  Very relaxing and very beautiful scenery.
  6. I had a seizure, my seventh one but the last time I'd had one was almost 6 years ago; also my first one alone.  Caused us to rethink having children which was a very difficult time.  We prayed a lot, talked a lot, and cried a lot. We put in place some plans for babysitting in the early mornings and solidified a number of ways to keep Baby safe.  Having the seizure alone ended up showing me that it is possible to be alone during one and be okay.
  7. Hubby had 5 dentist appointments from Oct-Dec with another one coming up this month.  Ouch!
  8. We found out we had been shown 3 times in the six months since updating our profile in Spring!
  9. I had a booth at a local Christmas craft & trade show for Regal.  This one did a lot better, and it was indoors so we didn't get rained out like last time!
  10. And, Hubby's brother found and met members of his birth family! 
So, now it is 2015, which I find hard to believe!  How the time flies.  And yet how it drags, too!  Of course it's impossible to predict what will happen in 2015.  Perhaps Christ will come back and take His people home -- who knows!  But here is what I'm looking forward to in 2015 if it is His will:
  1. Celebrating more big birthdays in our families - my youngest niece just turned 10 three days ago, my oldest niece will be turning 16 soon and getting her driver's (!!!!), my sister-in-law will be having her 40th soon, and at the end of the year Hubby's brother will be having his 25th!
  2. Hubby & I will be celebrating our 10th anniversary!!
  3. We'll hit the 2-year mark of waiting and update our profile again, assuming we aren't parents by then. 
  4. We are planning for and hope to go away on a vacation for our anniversary :)  Unless we're parents by then, that is.
  5. We're planning on going back to the same wonderful campground as last year, this time with Hubby's extended family.
  6. We may or may not put our condo up for sale again.
  7. I haven't really thought beyond that!  I hope to stay seizure-free, of course, and beat my record of 5 years + 9 months.  I'm aiming for forever ;)  I hope that God answers our prayers for all the people we pray for.  I am excited to see what He will do in 2015!  His plans are always best!    
I hope you had a merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

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!