Tuesday, April 30, 2013

One Year Ago...

One year ago life was "normal" for us. We were confused about our infertility, waiting for a birthmother to choose us, but not thinking we would be becoming parents anytime soon. We had NO IDEA that the buddy even existed. No idea.

I think the next couple of weeks may be (a good kind of) emotional for me. For some reason, looking back over the span of a year and seeing how extraordinarily different our lives are makes me stop, think and remember. We are just days away from the "double anniversary." This Friday will mark two years since our infertility diagnosis and one year since we received the email that we had been chosen by a birthmother. I often can't even believe that this is the story God has written for us, where sad days are turned into joyous ones. I'm glad for these few weeks to be reminded of God's redemption in our lives and our family.

BUT, if I think back to one year ago I can remember that we had no idea that the buddy existed. No idea we were about to become parents. But, someone knew him so intimately and closely already. His birthmother. She had known him for months. Carried him with her wherever she went. Close to her heart, both physically and emotionally. We may not have known him, but she did. And she was making one of the biggest decisions of her life. Who would she choose to raise her son?

In a perfect world, pregnancies are always planned and children can always be raised by their biological parents. But, we live in a world that is not perfect, but is also full of redemption. She choose redemption, LIFE, for this precious baby boy. When I think of her time with him I am partially jealous. I wish I could have carried the buddy as a part of me, nurturing him those 9 months. But, I did not and she did. And she did an amazing job. I am in awe of her courage. Her strength. Her love for him. Her love for him was and IS so strong that she chose what she believed was truly the best for him. And I am still in unbelief that she chose US.

When I think about it I can't imagine a bigger honor. It's the greatest and most humbling honor of my life. This woman that I admire so much, the woman that took such good care of our son before we even knew he existed. She choose US to be his parents. She thought I, would make a good mother for her son. I can't really even think about it because it boggles my mind.

When people hear that we've adopted they often say that we have done a "good" or "admirable" thing. I wish I could explain that we are not the ones that have done anything extraordinary. We WANTED to become parents. We were anxious for it! To me, the real hero is his birthmother. Some may say that she "gave him up," but they couldn't be more wrong. We have seen firsthand her love for him. It is this love that motivated her to carry a child for 9 months that she knew she would not be able to raise. It is this love that led her to pursue extremely thorough pre-natal care, support through the adoption agency, and eventually led her to us. She loved him so much that she chose what she believed was best for HIM, not for herself or for anyone else in her life, but for HIM. In my opinion, THAT is the hero of the story. THAT is the true sacrifice.


She is forever his first mother and we are eternally grateful to her for her love not only for the buddy, but her love for us as well. We are grateful that she continues to be an important part of his life and we hope and pray that he will admire her as he grows up as the woman that gave him life and that always did what she believed was best for him.

As we arrive at this time of year of memories, intense emotions and celebration of how we became parents, I will be thinking of his birthmother as well. The woman that made me a mom. An incredible woman for which I am eternally grateful.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Join the Movement: National Infertility Awareness Week

Last year I felt so inspired to write in relation to National Infertility Awareness Week. And this year I've found it hard to come up with anything worthwhile to say or write. I've still posted some thoughts to facebook in short bursts or have included links to other blogs. But, I couldn't seem to write about how infertility has affected OUR life or come up with anything particularly interesting to say.


And it finally dawned on me why that is. Because right now I just don't want to think about our infertility. The time in our lives when we were diagnosed and so actively pursing pregnancy was such a dark, lonely and confusing time. It was definitely the most difficult time of both our marriage and our lives. The hope followed by disappointment and the failed treatment plans month after month wore us down. Poor Dave saw me cry so often and just didn't know what to do to help. It hurts to think back to that phase of life.



Because I have been completely uninspired and uninspiring this week, I instead have been reading and soaking up what so many others have written in relation to NIAW. And I'm encouraged, strengthened and I feel so much less alone. I have to say that the infertility community is a loving, supportive and compassionate bunch of people. We offer kind words and empathy when others think we've lost our minds or have gotten tired of our tears. We share our stories openly with each other and are able to share in each others' joys and sorrows on a deeper level than we would have without our shared struggle. We can ask each other for advice, not only in how to get pregnant or how to begin the adoption process, but in all facets of life because we trust each other and care about each other and what we've been through. We even share acronyms and abbreviations to an extent that sometimes I think we could have entire conversations "in code." :-) 



So, I am forever grateful for this community of women that share their losses and their victories with each other. Even though Dave and I are now parents to sweet boy that is more amazing than we ever could have imagined, I will not and cannot continue on with my life as if infertility doesn't exist. Although I want to live in the NOW of redemption, blessing and God's plan I will never forget infertility. And I NEVER want to stop being a voice for those that are still in the thick of it. 

Infertility is so nasty. So awful to go through. No one REALLY thinks it will happen to them and when it does it pretty much destroys any kind of plan you had for your life and it eats away at the way you see yourself, your marriage and your life. So, even though I don't want to dwell in that dark place of infertility, I will never stop talking about it. I will never stop raising awareness, being open about our story, or doing my best to help it become recognized as a medical condition and not a mere life inconvenience.

This year's theme for NIAW is "Join the Movement."  I'm pretty sure no one has the goal of becoming an advocate for infertility awareness and treatment, because we all think it's something we will be able to avoid. But, 1 in 8 of us can't avoid it. It's a part of our daily lives, even if just for a season. And I hope YOU will join the movement too! My hope is that you will share YOUR story. If you have come through infertility to parenthood, share your story and be an encouragement to others! If you are in the midst of it, share your story so that others may help you carry your burden. If you are a friend or family member of someone who has experienced, be a part of THEIR story by loving, supporting and encouraging them as they have some very difficult decisions to make on a regular basis and they NEED you!

So, here is my official National Infertility Awareness Week post. PLEASE know that no matter who you are and how infertility has touched you, we all need YOU to join the movement! Refuse to be a part of the discouragement and judgement, and instead choose to be a voice of love and support for those that need you. I promise, it will not go unappreciated. 



Monday, April 22, 2013

National Infertility Awareness Week

Yesterday started National Infertility Awareness Week. Last year I had a bunch of posts planned out in my head beforehand and felt so inspired to write! 

I have had lots of blog posts floating through my head recently and have started, but never finished them. Maybe a little lack of inspiration, but also a big lack of time.

Today I will just share a blog post from someone else. She shares her own story through asking us to imagine the steps along her journey. I can't understand all that she has personally been through, but I can sure TRY to. And I think that's the point of NIAW. Those of us that have dealt and/or continue to deal with infertility ask you to try to empathize with our struggle, even when we are being overly emotional or (what seems to you like) crazy. I have some incredible friends and family members who have seen me through many tears and much confusion and I'm so grateful to have them around as life continues to bring trials our way.


Anyway, here's the post. PLEASE take the time to read it. It's from sweet Lauren Casper, whose blog I adore. She's the mom now to two precious children adopted from Ethiopia, but her journey to motherhood was certainly not an easy one. 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

11 Months

So serious in this photo! :-)

So, a week ago the buddy turned 11 months old! Dave said to me, "So, is this what parenthood is always like? Always saying, 'I can't believe he's _____ old already!?' Or will there ever be a point where it slows down?" Does anyone know the answer to this question?

Weight & Length: This we aren't really sure of. When we took him to Urgent Care earlier this week and they weighed him on a regular, with and without Dave holding him they told us 18 pounds, which I sure hope is true!

Sleeping:
Oh my. The past few nights have been rough. He's in Wonder Week 46 right now and so he's on the fussy side. But, he's still taking 2 naps and other than the past few nights, sleeping through the night.


Loot at me! I'm on the move!
Eating:Well, he's no longer eating eggs, I can say that for sure!! But, he's still eating well considering the fact we think he's also teething. He loves table food, potatoes, chicken, cheese, yogurt, broccoli, tomato, fish, strawberries, blueberries, pretty much anything we give him. :-) He still likes liver too! I think that's a big advantage of not giving him sugar, he's not addicted to it yet. :-)

Diapers:
He's still in cloth diapers. When we traveled he wore disposable Size 3 during the day and Size 4 at night.

Clothing:

He can still fit well in 9 month and 12 months clothes. He can't fit into his 9 month pajamas anymore since we have to really stuff the cloth diapers. hehe



Personality: 
Oh boy! This kid is STUBBORN! He knows what he wants and he goes for it. But, he's also so very sweet. He's snuggly and gives kisses when he wants. And he walks straight for the boxer briefs in the aisle at Target and pulls them off the rack when he wants to. :-) That doesn't mean we're letting him run wild though. But, when it's not destructive we're not too strict.
See!? I can clap! 
When he is well-rested he is a BLAST! He LOVES to laugh, is ticklish and loves to make silly sounds, especially when he knows we'll laugh at him. He's a social butterfly and when we go out in public or out to eat he looks at the action and loves making new "friends." He also gets very excited to see other toddlers his age and little kids, often squealing and "running" toward them. He's busy busy, but so much fun!

Milestones & Firsts:

-Tries to mimic so many things that we do, including trying to snap
-He says "woa" in context
-He sure loves the sound of his own "blubbering," or making sounds with his hand on his mouth so it sounds warbled (is there a name for that?)
-He claps and says "yay!" correctly in context
-He's very responsive to his books, especially "touch and feel," "pop-up" and "lift the flap" books. 
-He responds correctly to the words "jump" and "clap"!
-He says "didi" when he sees Dave, which we suppose means "daddy!"
-First time in a pool!
-He says "dog" and "woof" when we're reading doggie books!
-First (2) hikes... they weren't brilliantly successful
-He repeats us and tries to make the sounds for "thank you," "yeah," and "yes"
-He responds corretly to the word "kiss." Not always to us, but definitely to books and other little kids... and of course, to his reflection in the mirror... ha!
-He has started dancing and shaking his head to the music
-He takes a lot more steps on his own, but still prefers to "cruise," leaning on other objects or people for support.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

What.a.week.

I keep meaning to post an 11 month old update, but we're pretty exhausted around here. With the news that Dave's parents' house (thankfully for now just the basement) is flooding in the Chicago area today, we've had enough of this week.

Here's a recap of the week:

 Dave's step-brother ran in the Boston Marathon on Monday (and thankfully he and his family is safe!), Tuesday night was our scare with the buddy and now we hear that Dave's parents can't get out of their house and their basement is flooding with no let-up in the forecast. There's actually additional family issues going on that I don't care to blog about, but it had already been draining us and causing sadness for the past couple of weeks. So, needless to say, we're mentally and emotionally exhausted.

It's hard to not feel discouraged, but we must take these opportunities that thank God that family is all safe and sound despite all the worries and tragedies that potentially could have happened! I can't imagine what life must be like for those this week that DID lose a loved one or were touched even more directly by the tragedy in Boston. We are grateful, just exhausted. (Also, I don't even want to get into how furious/disappointed I am that the background check legislation didn't pass yesterday. Somehow this feels less political to me and personally defeating, even though I'm not even an activist.)

A cute photo update will come soon, I promise! Hopefully sleep will as well.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Scary, Scary

Last night we had our biggest parenting scare to date. Everything is ok and we're all ok, but at the time we had some scary moments!

I will start by explaining that when the buddy was about 6 months old we tried feeding him cooked egg yolk because it's full of good proteins, nutrients and such (we never gave him the egg white because THAT'S what's supposed to be what people are allergic to). One day he threw up several hours later, but we weren't sure if it was the egg that caused it since it wasn't the first time he had had them and did fine the first few tries. So, since we weren't sure, a couple of months later we tried it again and he got sick again. So, we decided to wait until he was a year old to try again. We also read that a lot of kids get sick from eggs from chickens that are fed soy. SO, I've been sure that our eggs are from true free range chickens and weren't fed soy. And since he's so close to a year, we kind of tried again. I had made fish dipped in an egg mixture, then rolled in bread crumb, cheese, etc. And we gave him a few bites of fish for lunch yesterday. And he was fine for the rest of the afternoon and evening.


BUT then, an hour after he went to bed we heard him scream out in his crib which is not like him. I'm SO glad I knew it was odd enough that I went in quickly and turned on the light because he was on his back and trying to throw up. :( Oh man, just thinking about it makes me so terrified and sad at the same time. Of course I turned him over so he could get it all out, but it freaks us out so much because even after throwing up he was so "out of it" and his body was weak, so we called 9-1-1 for fear that he would stop breathing and it also seemed like he might be seizing. By the time we were done explaining the situation to the dispatcher the buddy was a lot more like himself and they recommended we take him to the hospital instead of sending out a crew but told us call them back if it got worse.

Praise GOD we got to Urgent Care about 15 minutes before they closed, because a trip to the Emergency Room would have lasted all night. Even though N was acting even more like himself on the trip to the doctor I knew that there was no way I could sleep without getting him checked out. Even though we were pretty confident it was the teeny bit of eggs that made him get sick, we were still freaked out by the whole thing. I'm sure it was partially the fact that he had just thrown up and partially that he had been sleeping and was totally tired that he was just SO weak and limp afterward that we were so scared.

Everything checked out fine at the doctor. His lungs sounded good, blood pressure and blood sugar was good, etc. They obviously advised us to be sure he avoids eggs, which is done.and.done. When he goes for his 12-month check-up next month we'll be sure to find out how we get it confirmed and all the other specifics of a food allergy. I feel so bad for him to have an EGG allergy! That also means no bread and so many other things! We sure are hoping and praying he grows out of it within a few years!

I pretty much cried the whole way home from the Urgent Care office. I kept thinking (and saying), "What if we thought he was just being fussy and didn't go in right away?," and "I can't believe we didn't have the baby monitor in the Bonus Room and left it in the kitchen. What if we hadn't heard him cry out?!" But, these "what if" questions are not helpful and I need to try to let go and be so grateful and thankful it all turned out ok. Even tonight while Dave is out and I'm home alone with the little guy I'm so scared. What if something goes wrong? I don't think I could handle it myself! There are SO many things to be scared about as a parent. How do you truly trust God to take care of your child in the situations that are out of your control? Even when you're home and even when you're holding them?!

Oh my. I have so much to learn about this parenting thing! If you have experience with egg allergy, please let me know. I sure could use any personal advice that's out there! 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Family Wedding in Arizona!

Dave's sister got married last weekend in Scottsdale, AZ. And boy! It was the prettiest weddings I can remember! The setting was beautiful, the ceremony was so meaningful and it was so good to see family. We stayed a couple of extra days to head up to Sedona (which is one of my most favorite places EVER!) to hike and see the scenery. Taking a baby on a 4-hr flight and a 2-hr time change was an adventure, but was such a fun trip! 


With Dave's uncle... what cool dudes!

The buddy and his sweet cousin, who just turned a year old!

David, his sister, and their beautiful grandmas!
The buddy and Aunt Mary Anne
                          
Ready for the pool!




                               
Jeroma, AZ                                                                                          

Sweet picture with Papa!
Father & Son
Family Hike in Sedona

Thursday, April 11, 2013

A Post on Behalf of Lifesong for Orphans

The Forgotten Initiative (TFI), foster care ministry of Lifesong for Orphans, is bringing joy and purpose to the foster care community by LEARNING the needs, SHARING the needs and EQUIPPING the local church to meet those needs. 

Check out what TFI is doing to serve the foster care community...

PROJECT SUNSHINE: FOSTER HOME EDITION

Project Sunshine: Foster Home Edition is a fundraiser & service project all in one!
After foster children are removed from their homes, they often wait for hours in agency rooms. These same rooms are also used for weekly visitation between the birth parents and their children while they are in care. Project Sunshine was birthed out of a desire to create friendly spaces for kids during this dark time in their lives.

Project Sunshine: Foster Home Edition simply takes the Project Sunshine concept and applies it to a foster parent's home and at the same time raises funds for The Forgotten Initiative!
Check out this video to meet the families we are serving this year in Peoria, IL on May 17-18 and click here to see how YOU can play a part in serving the foster care community!

How can YOU help Project Sunshine: Foster Home Edition?

WHAT WE DO...


Watch our new vision video to get a better idea of how The Forgotten Initiative, as a whole, seeks to minister to the local foster care community by bridging the gap through Forgotten Advocates. 



UPCOMING FOSTER CARE MENTORSHIP TRAININGS

Mentors Needed: Step into the lives of children of vulnerable adults affected by foster care through relationship building, tutoring, job/life skills training, etc.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013
6 - 9 PM
Richwoods Christian Church, Peoria, IL

Read more from The Forgotten Initiative... 

Project Sunshine: Foster Care Edition 2012 - "My home looks so beautiful. The impact of being gone and coming home to see this is almost unbelievable. I just don't know how to say thank you enough." Watch the Video
American Orphans - "Only a life contemplating the love of Christ becomes a life acting the love of Christ. And love always moves. Loving first and foremost Christ. And loving others." Read Full Story
Perspective from Foster Care Caseworker - A caseworker's job is heart-breaking, challenging, and can be extremely overwhelming.  Read as Jenna shares her heart with us! Read Full Story
Impact of Journey Bags - "Last night at midnight three precious little beauties showed up on my doorstep. They each had with them a blanket, a stuffed animal, and a book bag, their Journey Bags of course..." Read Full Story

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Easter Photos

Apparently I'm on a blogging role! Here are some photos from Easter Sunday. Isn't Nathaniel's outfit adorable? It was from some friends whose son is about 14 months older than him. They know baby boy style! :-)

We spent Sunday morning at church, then went to my parents' house for Easter Dinner. My grandparents were there along with one of my sisters. It was such a wonderful way to relax and thank Jesus for His amazing sacrifice.

AND my grandpa MADE the wooden truck for the buddy. Can you believe it?! Hand-sanded and everything! Absolutely gorgeous! He also got his first Easter basket from my parents. It included a bunny that hops, makes silly sounds and says "Hoppy Easter." The buddy wasn't sure about it and it actually made him cry at one point. And other times he kissed it. So, I guess he's still undecided on whether or not he likes it.


His first Easter basket

I can't tell if my parents like spending time with him, can you? ;-)

Family Photo... too bad I'm doing the weird chin thing.

More interested in the tag

Unsure of the bunny

But, LOVING the truck! 

It's gorgeous!

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Kitchen!

Laura and Robyn read my mind! I HAVE been wanting to post some photos of our kitchen "before" and "after." That WAS on my spring break "to-do" list, so here are some photos! Unfortunately I didn't plan ahead and take the perfect pictures of the kitchen from every view, but here's a few pictures we snapped right as we were getting started on the work. We can't claim to have done any of the work (besides painting and faucet installation) ourselves, but did A LOT of research on the best prices  yet still getting good quality stuff. We spent half-way between what we WANTED to spend and our LIMIT to spend, so not too bad. :) We're confident (based on what our realtor told us) that when we DO sell the house it should increase the value by around twice of what we spent, so it was worthwhile work to do. We started the work in November and for various reasons didn't finish up until 2 weeks ago.

Here's what we did:
1. Removed the old wall oven and stovetop and installed a regular stainless steel range
2. Got new cabinets built in the place of the old oven and around the new range
3. Did some cosmetic work on the wood piece above the sink to make the lines look cleaner (Does anyone know what that's called? It looks to look very old-fashioned.)
4. Removed old countertops and installed granite
5. Installed drop-in sink and new faucet
6. Purchased and Installed new tile floors

I know with all the white cabinets (and clutter) it doesn't look DRAMATICALLY different, but it's NOT out-of-date anymore and I think I like cooking in it better. I just LOVE not have a tiny and unevenly cooking oven. :-) And floors that actually LOOK clean! The previous white vinyl always looked disgusting no matter how much I scrubbed it!

Before




After