Sunday, May 31, 2009

Lessons in parenting

Parenthood is exhausting.

That's not a complaint. It's just a fact.

You hear that it is from seasoned parents. But you don't truly understand until you've been there.

Parenthood is not just tiring, it's absolutely exhausting.

Samuel is sick...he caught a cold. He is also teething. So it's been kinda rough around here. We were up from 2:30-4 something a.m. last night with an inconsolable baby.

As a result of too many nights in a row of little sleep, this mama is now also sick with a cold.

Ryan and I actually fell asleep after we dropped onto on our bed last night at 8:05 p.m when Samuel finally went down to sleep. We did wake up a little bit later, but we turned in for good at 9:30 (that is until our middle of the night rendezvous). I can honestly say our Saturday nights are not what they used to be :)

It's tough when your kid is sick because sometimes there is nothing you can do...and really, you don't know what's wrong.

Is it your teeth? Are you achy? Is something else in pain? Are you just uncomfortable because you can barely breathe through your stuffed up nose? They don't exactly have buttons that light up to tell you what the issue is. It tends to be a guessing game.

I laid in bed for two hours this morning resting while Samuel napped. He hardly slept yesterday so I was keeping my fingers crossed for a good morning nap. I hid the home phone and cell phone under my bed pillow so if they rang he wouldn't hear them. I didn't get out of bed once for two hours to keep the noise level in the house a minimum. I had to go to the bathroom soooo bad, but since the bathroom is right next to Samuel's room I didn't want to risk him hearing noises that would wake him (I knew he desperately needed his sleep).

I sound a little crazy huh? Well a sleep-deprived, sick, pregnant woman should probably be categorized as crazy. I don't mind that label right fact I agree with it.

Besides, it paid off because Samuel slept for a full two hours!

Even in the midst of watery eyes, so much snot coming from one nose you wonder if you should buy stock in Kleenex, and middle-of-the-night visits to the nursery, you still love these little people more than life itself.

And that's truly what parenting is all about.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The decision to adopt

Many people have asked me during the past 8 months about how Ryan and I made the decisions we did about medical treatment and how we decided to adopt.

First of all, I want to acknowledge that we hadn't pursued an adoption agency when we go the call about Samuel so our situation is unique. We were both open to adoption and wanted to adopt, we just hadn't moved toward that yet.
After talking to a friend I actually printed out the papers for two local agencies at the beginning of August last year. We were entering the 3 year mark and I was beginning to look at adoption as a serious option. Then I found out I was pregnant, so I tucked the papers away to look at in the future.

Secondly, I am going to be quite candid in this post about how I feel about medical treatment and adoption. Be prepared.
It's a long post. Here goes....

Erwin McManis says in his book Chasing Daylight, go until you get a "no." His viewpoint is that as Christians, we often wait and see what God wants us to do. If something is in line with God's will (and Scripture commands us to take care of widows and orphans so you know adoption is God's will), Erwin says to start pursuing it and God will shut the door if that is not what he wants you to do right now.

Here's the thing: God already has your future child(ren) picked out for you. He already knows if it will be your due date, or someone else's due date. He already knows if you will conceive, when you will conceive and if that baby will be born healthy.
He already knows if you will add to your existing family by adopting additional children. He already knows. He just wants you to trust him and walk in faith.

I believe God doesn't want you to obsess about all the options and be consumed by them.
If one route isn't working, try something else. If you don't have the money for one option consider another (foster to adopt?). If you don't have peace about something, DON'T do it! That is my only caveat. Ryan and I did not do IVF because we never felt at peace about pursuing that option. And, insurance didn't cover it so it was a no-brainer for us. It just wasn't on the list of options. With the money we would have spent on IVF with no guaranteed outcome, adoption was a much better option for us with the outcome almost guaranteeing a child (and it was actually less expensive with domestic adoption). I have no problem or issue whatsoever with IVF, it just wasn't right for us.

DISCLAIMER: If you feel called to wait on the Lord and not pursue medical treatment and not pursue adoption, then by all means, wait. For two years I felt no peace about Clomid or IUI or other treatments/medications. Once I had a procedure done that showed my tubes were open and I knew I was ovulating, then I realized it was all in God's hands. Clearly he was not allowing me to conceive. We had unexplained infertility. There was nothing wrong with me or Ryan that the doctors could tell. We felt God specifically calling us to wait on Him.

And now we know why.

But that doesn't mean He is necessarily calling us all to wait. If you have some major medical issues, you can definitely seek medical treatment. You can absolutely pray for God to heal your body and open your womb. But if He chooses not to heal you naturally or through medical treatment, maybe it's because he is giving you the green light that there is a baby who needs you to be his or her parent.

I was reading
this blog earlier in the week about a gal who has adopted two children. Three years into their infertility journey, her husband had asked her "Which do you want more: to be pregnant or to be a parent?" That question ultimately opened her mind to adoption and she now has two beautiful children. You can read the entire posting on her blog.

When I read her post, I immediately thought every person desiring to grow their family should heavily consider that question. And I wondered how I would have answered that question if posed to me last summer.

I think it takes time to grieve the dream of pregnancy if it is not happening for you. It takes time to give up the dreams of conceiving naturally with no medical treatment. It takes time to grieve the life you once knew before infertility became an all-too-familiar word in your home. It takes time to grieve the loss of motherhood as you dreamed it would begin, and to move forward into whatever direction the Lord has for you.

It takes time, courage, boldness, faith and trust.

If I could go back to Stacy in the summer of 2008 (a rough summer for me where I struggled a lot with waiting and unsure of what to do next) I would tell her to go to God and say, "Here's the deal Lord. I desire to be a parent to a child. Of course, I want to give birth to my own biological child. But that may not be your plan. You already know the child you have in store for me. But I don't, so I'm going to start pursuing different routes unless you clearly tell me no. I'm going to start with __________. Guide my decisions, open doors, give my husband and I peace and help us to be unified in our decision making. If you want us to wait on you, I will hard as it is. But I desire to be a mom and I am going to try every route possible unless you tell me no. James 1:5 says that when we ask for wisdom you will give it to us and give it generously. So I pray according to your Word for wisdom to know what the next step is: medical treatment, foster care, adoption, or waiting on you. I come before you boldly in this time of need and ask you to direct my steps. I believe that you will do more than I can ask or imagine and I'm clinging to that truth today."

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Pictures of our little man

The first pic is what we saw when we walked into Samuel's room on Monday...he was just sitting in his crib. No big deal like he does it all the time. This was a first - he hasn't sat up on his own before. Oh boy!

The rest are from my dad's 60th birthday party this weekend. There was a sports theme so Ryan and Samuel are sporting Twins attire.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Dear Samuel

Dear Samuel,
Tonight we ate dinner together. Just you and I. You ate some green and orange soft food (also known as sweet potatoes and peas) and I ate some pasta and corn. Your dad is traveling this week. We miss him already don't we?

Your dad misses you like crazy when he's away. You are so lucky Samuel. You have such a good dad. He works so hard so we can be a family together. He doesn't think he could ever love anyone more than he loves you.

It's fun to watch him be a dad because he is really good at it. Even when it's hard - like this past weekend when you woke up at 5:55 a.m. He hopped out of bed to get you a bottle. He just does that without thinking...because he's a really really good dad. And he loves to see you in the morning.

You recently started saying da da and ma ma. You don't know what those sounds mean yet, but they melt our hearts. Your dad goes crazy when he hears you saying "da da da da da da."

We never knew Samuel that hearing da da da da or ma ma ma ma would be some of the most precious sounds our ears would ever hear.

You bring so much joy to our lives. Your smiles, when you clap and when you's like the world stops and we get to soak in the joy of being your dad and mom.

We love it Samuel. Every day we love it. Even when it's hard. And the most amazing thing is that it just keeps getting better and better.

I look forward to many more dinners with you my little man. Soon you'll be eating mac-n-cheese and asking for ice cream. But today it's just green and orange food, da da da da and more love than we know what to do with.

Monday, May 25, 2009

A day to remember

This morning Ryan picked up his grandma and they went to Hillside cemetery just blocks from our house. His grandpa is buried there, along with his great-grandparents. Ryan and his grandma picked out a plant together and then spent some time at grandpa's graveside. They read scripture and remembered the man they loved so much.

As we were driving by the cemetery this afternoon, I could see hills and hills covered with flowers. It was a beautiful, yet sad sight.

What was even more moving were the people I could see sitting by the gravesides of their loved ones.

A single man laying on the ground.

A family sitting in a circle.

And I wondered, "What's their story?"

Who are they remembering today?

Who have they loved and lost? A spouse, parent, grandparent, sibling, cousin, friend....child?

People may look at me and see Ryan, Samuel, and my growing belly. But they don't know my story. The road I've walked. The losses I've experienced.

And that's ok.

Because today I remember those I've loved and lost. And I remember that this place is not my home. My citizenship is in Heaven. I have comfort and hope because of this truth.

I WILL see my loved ones again.

Dear friends, I don't know your story or who you've lost. I don't know who you are remembering today. But I know there is a God who loves you and longs to spend every sunrise and sunset with you. He knows the loved ones you are missing today.

Today is a day for remembering. Maybe it's a day for shedding tears. But it is also a day to remember that the God of the universe...the giver and taker of life...offers the hope of eternity spent with him.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

7-month pictures

These are very belated since we are just two weeks out from Samuel being 8 months....but they are so adorable I just had to post them - late or not! He's crawling (aka scooching, sliding, pushing himself) to get across the floor to whatever he wants. He eats like a champ, sleeps great at night and continues to be all around the happiest kid ever. I am more in love with my little man than ever before. This stage is so fun and I wish we could stay right here!

My very favorite photo is last....

Monday, May 18, 2009

On my heart

Later this week I will post pictures and video of our trip to New Jersey. It was a wonderful time to travel together as a family and Samuel was quite the trooper. He experienced a lot of 'firsts' and it will be fun to share.

But for now....

Today is a beautiful day here in Minnesota. The high today is 80. The grass is the greenest green. The sun is shining its brightest light.

And my heart is so heavy. On Saturday Ryan and I were sitting in our vehicle outside the wedding reception we were about to attend when we got word that friends had found out on Friday that they had lost their baby at 11 weeks. At 8 weeks they heard a heartbeat and at 11 there was no longer a heartbeat.

I can't even put into words what happened to my heart when I heard that news. But I can say that my mind immediately went back to last September. As you know, we heard our baby's heartbeat at 7 weeks. Then at 9 we went back for another check up and there was no heartbeat.

I remember sitting in the dark room, looking at a computer screen, holding my breath.

We had seen the heartbeat just a few weeks before, so there was no reason for concern. This was just routine. Just a follow-up to make sure the baby was growing.

Yet you find yourself hoping. Praying. Waiting.

Time stands still.

There is just one thing you want to see. Just one little flutter of a heart.

The image on the screen...the so tiny...the heartbeat will be so small. Barely visible to the eye.

But seeing that flutter indicates life.

And when the ultrasound tech utters the devastating news that there longer...a heartbeat and you are told your baby has died, your world collapses around you.

You can't breathe.

You think you heard it wrong.

You want to rewind time because she must be wrong.

And from that moment on, life as you know it will be different.

You are a mom of a baby who has died.

You are a mom of a little one you will never hold in your arms, but only in your heart.

And there are no words to describe that loss.

And the scene replays in your mind over and over and over.

In the following days, weeks and months you ponder, question, wonder, cry, scream, agonize, and experience so many different emotions.

You have decisions to make when all you want to do is cry. You have to let others have to decide who you will tell and when you will tell them.

You have to make decisions about your body. Your baby. Your future.

And none of them are decisions you ever wanted to make.

Sadly, all too many women have experienced this heartache. But today my heart goes out to you A. I've been there. I understand. I grieve alongside you and I pray God meets you right where you're at today.

And I pray that some how, some way, God will make beauty from these ashes.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

We're off!

Ryan, Samuel and I are about to head to the airport, get on a plane and travel to New Jersey for four days! Our flight leaves at 11 a.m. central time - we'd love your prayers that Samuel does great on the airplane. We return Sunday afternoon.

We're going to a pig roast, a yankees game and a wedding on Saturday. We'll hang out with family, laugh a lot and show off our sweet baby boy.

Be back next week!

Until then....

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Monday, May 11, 2009

Do you understand? I understand.

Another Mother's Day has come and gone. For some, it was a joyous occasion. For others, it was filled with unimaginable pain and disappointment. As I watched my wife interact with people yesterday, I was proud of her sensitivity to those around her.

As a man who has witnessed his wife weep for her friends struggling with infertility, I get frustrated. I know full well that we do not have the most difficult story in the world, nor do we have the most amazing miracle either. But I feel that our experiences have positioned us well to understand what others are going through.

While I was pushing Samuel around shopping for a Mother's day card on Saturday, I felt people looking at me. I could imagine what they were saying, some were happy and usually commented on my cute kid. But others scowled and it seemed like they wanted to say, "you don't deserve him."

I wish I had a little bubble window (like they have in cartoons) that told the amazing story of Samuel. I believe that I don't deserve to have such an amazing gift. But that is never what I was praying for. From day one I prayed that God would grant Stacy a child, because I feel she deserved it.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Jumbled emotions

This morning I am a mom with jumbled emotions. Today I am overwhelmed by God's goodness...and yet my heart aches for those who I know are facing a difficult day.

My words and emotions are all jumbled inside of me. I am short on time, since we need to leave for church in 30 minutes. It's my first Mother's Day. It's a little too much to comprehend and for some reason I keep crying today. My poor husband is beside himself not knowing what to do with me this morning!

I jumped over to my blog friend Wendi's site to see what she would write about Mother's Day. She asked if she could link to my post from Friday and now I'm linking to her post. Her words say EXACTLY what is on my heart. She knows the feelings related to Mother's Day now that she is a mom. And, she understands the pain that is still present on this day. She too has a list of people she is praying for all day because her heart is tender...she has walked the road they are currently walking.

You can read Wendi's post here.

And just as she says on her post, to those of you reading this who are waiting on the Lord, I will be praying for you today.

I'm praying that God would show you soon, very soon, how beautiful His perfect timing really is.

Friday, May 8, 2009

The year I skipped Mother’s Day

One year ago today I could not face the reality that another Mother’s Day was upon us. My dreams of motherhood were unfulfilled, and I did everything possible to avoid facing the day that so many families celebrated. My husband and I enjoyed a lazy and relaxing Sunday morning. We didn’t go to church and we didn’t see our families.

Proverbs 13:12 says, “A hope deferred makes the heart sick.” Last year my heart was desperately sick. For nearly three years my husband and I had walked the road of infertility and miscarriages.

We lost our first little one at 10 weeks in July 2006. For the next two years we struggled to conceive again. We pleaded with God. We begged God. We petitioned God. But His answer was no. His answer was, “Wait on me.”

Waiting is hard. It’s full of questions, doubts, and fears.

And for me, the pain of waiting was magnified one year ago today when everywhere I looked I was reminded that others were celebrating a gift that God had not yet given to me. Mother’s Day 2008 represented the tender reality that my womb was still empty. I was 32. It had been 22 months since our miscarriage and my heart was bitter, broken and hardened.

Last summer led me on a journey of dealing with the resentment, anger and bitterness that had taken root in my heart. This was difficult, yet necessary, as I longed to walk in the freedom of God’s grace and forgiveness.

And finally, in August of last year, I discovered I was pregnant. Surely this was God’s blessing as a result of the healing that had taken place in my heart. At 7 weeks we heard a beautiful heartbeat. But at 9 weeks we were told, for the second time, our baby had died in my womb.

My dreams of motherhood vanished as quickly as they had come. And another bitter root threatened to grow.

But in God’s great mercy he didn’t allow that to happen. Just 24 days later God took my waiting and showed me it was not in vain.

On October 4, 2008, we got a call about a baby boy born in Waconia the day before. He was just 24 hours old. Were we interested? We had not started the adoption process, but we jumped in the car and went to the hospital to meet the birth mom. Within an hour she told us she would like us to adopt our son, whom we promptly named Samuel. We took him home two days later.

For seven months we have not stopped praising God for Samuel’s miraculous arrival into our lives. We are in awe of God’s timing and God’s plans for our family. And we continue to live in awe of the author and creator of life: in January we discovered that I was pregnant. Samuel will become a big brother this fall. Our story continues to be a beautiful reminder that despite all of our planning, God alone determines our future.

Today, Mother’s Day 2009, I could celebrate that my future will hold children just 11 months apart. I could celebrate that my battle with infertility has come to an end.

But instead, today I choose to celebrate that God restored my soul…before he restored my circumstances. I celebrate that he healed my heart. I celebrate freedom from the bondage of bitterness. I celebrate the blessing of waiting on the Lord.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Joe and Emily adoption update

Our friends Joe and Emily who are in the process of adopting Samuel are still waiting for their birth mom to sign the consent papers. It has been about 2 1/2 weeks since they received Samuel into their care. He is a darling, tiny baby and doing great, but it would give them great peace if the birth mom - and all those who need to be present - could schedule a time to sign the papers (it can be complicated when a number of people need to be there when the papers are signed).

Please pray for everyone's schedules and a quick resolution. The birth mom has given them no reason to think she won't sign the papers, it just seems to be logistics. Pray that Emily and Joe can have peace in the meantime. We are so thrilled for our dear friends and understand how tough the wait can be....for the parents, grandparents and all those who care about them.

I'll keep you posted. Thank you!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Words on waiting

If I ever write a book it will be about waiting. Waiting is so stinkin' hard. We wait for something to start. We wait for something to end. We wait for something to change. We wait for waiting to end.

Huh. That rhymed. Maybe I'll write a poem about waiting before I write my book :)

Waiting is a constant in life and yet we are no good at it. It takes trust and perseverance and time. There are a ton of books written about waiting...many of which I would like to read. There are songs about waiting (see my list on the left). There are verses about waiting.

Clearly if there are so many references in Scripture about waiting, God means for us to wait. I have shared before that I write dates in the margin of my Bible. I have many dates or notes written next to verses on waiting.

We are told WHEN to wait. HOW to wait. In WHO to HOPE during our wait. We are not waiting for something. Ultimately we are all waiting for the Lord.

Here are a few verses that have spoken to me or touched me through my years of waiting:

In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation. Psalm 5:3

Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. Psalm 27:14

We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. Psalm 33:20

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him. Psalm 37:7

I wait for you, O Lord; you will answer, O Lord my God. Psalm 38:15

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. Psalm 130:5

We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you. Psalm 33:20-22

Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts. Isaiah 26:8

Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! Isaiah 30:18

I say to myself, "The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him." Lamentations 3:24

I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord. Psalm 40:1-3

Waiting is not an accident.

Waiting is not second best.

Waiting is not what you do to pass time.

Waiting is the plan.

And we can choose to wait. Wait well. Wait with worry. Wait and wonder. Wait and whine.

While many think that waiting requires that you do nothing, I would venture to say that waiting requires a lot of you:

It requires you to seek the Lord.

It requires you to strive to be patient.

It requires you to meditate on truth.

Waiting is a very active thing to do. If you are not actively waiting on the Lord then might I be so bold as to suggest that you are wasting your season of waiting?

Waiting is the hardest thing I have done in my 33 years of life. But with great faith I ask, "Is the Lord's perfect plan not worth waiting for?"


"Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him." Isaiah 64:4

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Life inside

It's 8:45 p.m. on Sunday night and I am sitting alone in my big king-size bed crying my eyes out. My little man is asleep. My hubby is on the East Coast all week for work.

It's just me...and my tears...and the second greatest miracle I've ever experienced moving around inside of me.

That's what led to the tears. I'm on my lap top and quite unexpectedly I see my belly move. I have felt my little girl move for a little over a week but haven't actually seen my belly move. And I can't believe that it did tonight. It seems so early still.

But my belly moved. Three times. And I just started sobbing. And I don't know why.

Maybe I'm crying because I still can't believe this is happening.

Maybe I'm crying because a kick means my baby is actually healthy.

Maybe I'm crying because I feel so undeserving of this incredible blessing.

Maybe I'm crying cuz I'm tired and hormonal.

But regardless. My tummy moved. There is life inside. And my tears say so much more than my words ever could. Thank you Jesus.