Saturday, February 28, 2015

I Can't vs I Can

It has been a really, really stressful week. Back to school after the break, which I largely spent collecting documentation for our adoption agency and working on IEPs (with some rest and reading, which was lovely)...but now it really feels as if this past week was like two rolled into one. It moved too fast to get the things done I needed to, yet the week dragged and dragged. And there was something crazy after school every single day--we both had car trouble and so spent two evenings dealing with rental cars and picking up cars from the shop, we had a meeting with our kitchen contractor to hammer out details and sign the contract (and pay the deposit), I had a rally in support of public education after school one day that was attended by many districts in western NY and was a beautiful show of support for the work we public teachers do each day, for kids. It was exhausting. I had no time to write. I had no time whatsoever, really, to breathe, and rest, and relax.

And today went just as quickly...with not as much work done on my new unit plan as I would have liked, and absolutely no work done on my own IEPs that need to be done about a week from Monday. I am freaking out.

SO, I am so grateful to have a saved blog post that I wrote in the days following our decision to end fertility treatments where they lay and begin the adoption process, full steam ahead. I think now's as good a time as any to post it!

I have been coming to peace with our end to infertility treatments for a while, but to have it end in such an unfinished, craptastic way seems just so vastly unfair. On the day it was all over, I had a running list of I Can'ts in my head:

- I can't ever be pregnant
- I can't ever give birth
- I can't ever go on my maternity clothes shopping spree I've been waiting for
- I can't ever join in on conversations about my own birth story, labor story
- I can't have those beautiful photos of me and Bryce with his hands wrapped around my giant belly
- I can't prepare a nursery while I'm waiting for my baby
- I can't have a shower with my baby tucked inside me, pictures of me holding onesies up to my swollen mama belly
- I can't breastfeed

But then, I started to think about the I Cans, and they just started pouring in:

- I can have a baby
- I can have my body back and go shopping for clothes that DON'T have elastic waistbands
- I can eat whatever I please without worrying about listeria or salmonella hurting my fictional baby (soft cheeses, deli meat, dippy eggs...all I can eat!)
- I can drink as much coffee as I'd like without worrying that I'm atrophying my lining
- I can drink cocktails and wine and not worry that I'm hurting my chances of conceiving
- I can get rid of the gazillion sharps containers that are sprinkled throughout my house
- I can take hot baths anytime I damn well please
- I can use tampons again (seriously, I haven't used them in about 4 years because I read that they change the pH of your vagina and can alter your environment,  and it is a modern convenience I miss very much)
- I can (and did) take all those onesies out of hiding, because they are no longer for some fictional maybe-baby but for a real, live baby who WILL be coming our way
- I can, when we're ready, prepare a nursery for a baby that we are so excited to welcome home
- I can stop being held hostage to injection times
- I can register for a baby shower (not now, later, but it's not gone)
- I can have a baby shower, even if it will look different than it would have before, it can happen when we feel that's appropriate and even better I can have a COCKTAIL at it!
- I can make "We're Adopting" announcements and even do a parents-in-waiting photo shoot, thankyouverymuch Pinterest for introducing me to this phenomenon
- I can breastfeed, or at least attempt to (more on this in a separate post as it's an interesting and emotionally fraught topic I'd like to discuss with you)
- I can put my focus into a process that works, as opposed to one that works for some and utterly fails others for no apparent reason
- I can have a family
- We can have a family
- We can have a family

Some of these seem very shallow, but they are experiences of expectant parents and I so look forward to every day I get closer to being an expectant parent. We've been expecting for a long time, without any physical sign other than my increased chubbiness and smack-fiend-looking needle bruises on my arms (no one can see the ones all over my stomach, except for my best friend who I've tortured with disturbing pictures of my bruised-up tummy, heh heh heh). But now we can be on our way to REALLY expecting, to making this real, to having the odds most definitely in our favor. It may take longer than we hope. It may have painful false starts. It may not (will not) be any easier than IVF was in many ways, but the difference of having a positive outcome at the end means all the world to us. It also doesn't hurt that it doesn't impact us physically. My body is mine again. I will always be sad I couldn't experience pregnancy, but it will be SO VERY outweighed by the amazingness that is a lifetime of parenting our beautiful FutureBaby.

We can be parents. And we will.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Clutter, or Conservation?

My husband and I agree on most things, but one area where we diverge wildly is what he calls "hoarding" and I call "conserving."

Just yesterday we had an interesting situation where a square of aluminum foil highlighted this difference.

I had fed the cats, and the makeshift tinfoil lid for leftover wet food was disgusting and needed replacing. Usually our "Lid" is a 5 inch width of foil, folded over and smooshed over the open can. I cut it in half, so we'd have a lid for now, a lid for later. I put the extra square on top of the microwave.

When I was making dinner, Bryce came in and promptly took the foil square, crumpled it up, and started walking to the trash can.

"What are you doing? That's for the cat food!" I snapped.
"What? Why would you save this?!?"
"Because it's wasteful to use doubled or throw it out, and the lid gets gross and needs replacing. Why would you throw that out?"
Bryce, trying simultaneously to uncrumple and smooth out the foil square: "I thought it was a candy wrapper!"
"What for, a ginormous generic peppermint patty?!?"
"Maybe! Why were you saving it? Were you raised in the Depression?" The foil ripped.
"Forget it. Just throw it out," I sighed in resignation.
"This is why you're a hoarder."
"ARGH!!! A hoarder has a tiny pathway through the shit piled in the house! I am NOT a hoarder! I am FRUGAL."

We stared at each other for a few seconds, then dissolved into giggles. It was truly a ridiculous argument.

For as much as I keep everything, "just in case," Bryce gets rid of everything. Like, to the extent where he could be a secret agent, purging any evidence of his existence.

A middle ground would probably be good for both of us, but I feel like my carefully curated collection of mementos, journals, old calendars, old photos from the time of actual film (fine, most of those are in a giant jumbled pile in a hiking boot box in the basement, but at least I've got them all) is all coming in mighty handy for the adoption process.

Why? Because of that background check form that we have to fill out, the one with addresses going all the way back 28 years.

For me, the form was relatively easy. I knew a general idea of all my addresses, and thought I knew both the months and years I lived in each and could verify it by...wait for it...cross checking the bag of journals that date back to age 6, stored in my closet behind my cardigan collection. For addresses where I had most but not all information (such as the apartment number for my address in Yonkers), I could call my mom (pretty sure the keep-everything is genetic), who had all her old address books going back and back and back. Plus my grandmother's. And, she has an archive of engagement calendars, mostly Sierra Club, going back forever. I had my addresses and dates all set within an hour.

By contrast, Bryce is struggling. He had a copy of a document from his job that was similar to a background check, so he thought he was set. Except that only went back to 2000. And we need back to 1987. And there are no journals, no engagement calendars, no records from previous houses or apartments. He is a ghost, a spook. No clutter, but no history, either.

Yesterday I listened to him on the phone with his mother, trying to figure out this puzzle. Luckily, solving puzzles is what engineers do best. And I so love that he's turned this into a logic puzzle of sorts--all he needs is the dates for one apartment, the one he lived in after college, but also during. WIth those dates in hand, everything will click into place, like the last triumphant turn of a Rubik's Cube. So the conversation centered on visits made, photos taken, brown turtlenecks worn, move-in season, when John F Kennedy Jr.'s plane crashed, and, for some reason, Christa McAuliffe. They're all pieces to this documentation-less puzzle.

I don't doubt that he will figure this problem out. It will take longer than I'd like, but letting go of self-imposed timelines has become a specialty of mine. And it's worth it to keep the peace, although it is awfully hard not to glory in the irony that it's not just my "creepy memory," as a student of mine once put it, but the familiar tendency of keeping chronicles and relics of the past handy, that has made it possible for me to fill out my page of that form with ease. I don't think it completely redeems my small collection of piles, but it should show some benefits to my commitment to, um, CONSERVATION.

(Bryce approved this message, however with the caveat that I post pictures of his desk versus my desk...)

Bryce's desk. Very neat and clean, yes, but that filing cabinet on the right usually
has several papers and folders and files on its surface. They are missing and the
pink towel is in the windowsill because the ice damming this year has been horrific,
and we had some water dripping in. So a slightly unfair representation of  utter neatness.

My desk. Note, I never said I was an expert filer... Also note that my space is a
dormer nook, not an entire room. A lovely space, but I feel a little like the crazy
wife typing away in the attic here. That's my work laptop and my old laptop that I
can't quite get rid of (need to transfer files). 
Okay, so I felt so shamed by that piley picture that I spent quality time filing
and throwing crap out. Look...a usable desk. And now I can steal the non-
work laptop and put it up here. Crazy wife in the attic, here I come.
(Not really accurate as it's a cape cod, but the second floor is kind of attic space.)
However, the view out the window is the best in the house.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Dreaded Questions...What Does That Look Like Now?

When you are infertile, there are SO MANY dreaded questions. All dependent on the situation.

Situation 1: Running into someone you haven't seen in YEARS.
"So, last I heard you'd gotten married...any kids yet?"  (bonus points if they look pointedly at your belly, which last I heard is filled with delicious fish chowder, not fetus.)

Situation 2: Running into someone you haven't seen in MONTHS (or for some, WEEKS).
"Hey, how are things going? Any, um, NEWS?" (bonus points again for the pointed belly check.)

Situation 3: Going to scheduled appointments that are weeks apart and having to constantly update such people on your neverending, everlasting journey.
"Soooo, what's new?" OR "How did your cycle go?" OR "Did you get good news?"  (No one ever asks, "Did you get bad news," which has actually been the better question to ask me as throughout the infertility treatment part of our journey we almost NEVER got good news.)

All so awkward. All a rush of lightning-quick decisions in the brain--verbal vomit the saga? Inadvertently (or advertently, depending) make the person feel bad by letting it all out? Be vague and invite more questions or confusion for the next time? Risk imminent tears? Invite pity? Share more than you'd like and feel regret later?

However, now I find myself in a position where I can share GOOD news, for once. And reactions have been interesting. I just love having good news to share. So, here is how the situations have gone over the past week.

Situation #1: Out at a President's Day matinee of Still Alice (sooo good but devastating, Julianne Moore totally deserves that Oscar), run into a TA I worked with 7 or 8 years ago in a long-term sub position in the bathroom. 

"Hey, you look great!" (blush, succeed in thanking her and reciprocating, also succeed in not saying "but I've gained 20 pounds since you saw me last!")
"Last I saw you you were getting married?"
"Yup, I've been married over 5 years!"
"Any little ones?" (motions hand to toddler height next to her)
"Nope, not yet, but we are ADOPTING!"
"EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! That's so exciting! Congratulations!"

I was SO happy in how this exchange went. First, I managed not to negate a lovely compliment, something I am expert at. Second, for the first time ever, I managed to answer the dreaded question with HOPE and EXCITEMENT, not tears or a swallowed throat lump. I did feel slightly guilty about glossing over the 5 years of pain, but why mention that when a) it takes away from the happiness of our current situation, and b) if we've been married 5 years and are adopting now, you could totally infer some of that. Why do I need to share my sad sap story in the bathroom of the cinema? Answer: I don't. I loved her reaction, too. No horror stories, no string of comments about waits or older children or how we might be going about this. Just pure, unadulterated joy and congratulations, no strings attached. It was a beautiful way to initiate me into sharing our adoption plans when asked about little children in our life (or the absence of them as of yet).

Situation #2: Out at the grocery store, looking for boneless short ribs and failing miserably, buying haddock from Iceland for that delicious fish chowder I mentioned above, and run into my Director of Special Education, who I haven't seen in about a month and a half. (But who has been in the know about our infertility disaster, and has family experience with high-tech medical treatment, and has been super supportive.)

"How are you enjoying your break?"
"It's great! Hey, do you know what we're doing this break?" (goofy grin plastered on my face)
(Look of excited anticipation on her face), "What? What?"
"We're plowing through our adoption paperwork!"
(Her face falls. Like, literally, falls. And then is picked carefully back up.)
"Oh?" (small voice)
"Yeah, our last two cycles were cancelled, everything became a hot mess, and I couldn't even GET to transfer. So we decided enough was enough, and we are SO EXCITED!" (Slight tremble in my voice betraying that I am so excited, but caught off guard by her obvious disappointment, which reminds me of how I felt when I got that call, and tears are pricking at my eyeballs, threatening to show themselves.)
"Oh, I'm sorry. Why can't we get these little babies to come? But that's good news. What agency?"
"____________, they do domestic adoption out of Buffalo." (sorry, not sharing agency name here)
"Hmmm, never heard of them." (Probably because a lot of families in our school community adopt internationally through an agency that works with South Korea.)
"They are great and there's actually a TON of families in Rochester who have built their families through them! SO many success stories!"
"Oh, well that's good."
"And it's domestic infant adoption, which we're really excited about."
"Oh! REALLY! Infants?"
We went on to discuss the average wait times as given by the agency, and my excitement. We ended with her saying,
"Well, keep me posted! I want to know! I'm excited for you."

So, this one wasn't quite the love-fest that the bathroom encounter was. And I was kind of surprised by my reaction to her disappointment. But, I can't really blame her, because she's known all about the trials and tribulations of the past 5+ years. She knows how badly I wanted to be pregnant. She of course would feel the disappointment in the end of our journey, maybe not quite to my extent of wailing in bed after my phone call, but disappointment and loss all the same. And it triggered a bit of my own feelings of loss, feelings that will never go away. Like any loss, it is always with you, not impacting your daily life per se, not making you a sad mope of a person, but catching you off guard at trigger-y moments (kind of like how yesterday I was washing dishes and I got water on my stomach and was reminded that my grandma told me that meant you'd marry a drunk husband [unclear on the logic in that Irish old wives' tale], and all of a sudden I was missing her terribly and my lip started quivering and my eyes filled with tears, just like that, because of my soapy wet tummy.). But, she asked good questions, she was genuinely interested, she just had some reservations in her joy. But that's to be expected. It was just a fascinating contrast to the bathroom experience, which admittedly held none of the knowledge of all my loss and pain up until this moment of joy.

Situation #3: Massage. Yup, with this person, who to her credit, never said anything insensitive again about infertility or pregnancy and totally got the hint after the most un-relaxing massage experience EVER. Below, she is redeemed.

"So, you don't have to worry about any medical stuff with me anymore, my infertility treatment journey is over. We were canceled and we are just DONE with this."
"I'm so sorry to hear that."
"Thank you. We are super excited though, because we are moving forward with domestic infant adoption...we are officially with an agency and we are plowing through our paperwork."
"Oh my gosh, CONGRATULATIONS! That is so exciting."
"I KNOW! We are so impressed with the process so far. It is a lot, and it's overwhelming, but it's SO MUCH MORE hopeful than where we've been."
"I'm so happy for you, this is wonderful news!"
This conversation went almost the entire length of my massage, but in a good way this time. I won't chronicle all of it, but she asked INSANE amounts of very thoughtful, very sensitive questions and seemed very much in the know about open adoption and all the parts of the adoption constellation. She ended the massage with a giddy,"CONGRATULATIONS!"

This conversation was wonderful, but also strangely perplexing to me. She was completely the opposite when it came to infertility treatments. But with adoption, she was all questions and all smiles and all excitement. And we are finding that people are so much freer with asking questions and being openly excited with us about adoption than they were with infertility, which is so interesting. Is it because infertility involves vaginas? Is it because there's all the bodily function aspect of it that makes it taboo? Is it societal or religious feelings on using medical technology to conceive? What is it? And while I am super excited that people are so much more open and supportive, I worry when it is time on our end to NOT be as open (when we are being profiled by birth/expectant mothers, when we have been selected by a birth mother, when we have a story that belongs to our child and to no one else and we can't share anymore), people will be a little less understanding. But, I was so pleasantly surprised with this experience. And, AND, she even said that dreaded comment, "Maybe you'll get pregnant now" comment, except she even worded THAT more sensitively "Have you thought of what you'll do if you unexpectedly get pregnant now?" AND, she was totally accepting of my answer, "That would take some kind of miracle, since a) I don't ovulate on my own, b) we don't have good sperm counts, c) I am missing one fallopian tube and the other's opening into the uterus is covered in scar tissue, d) my uterus is filled with scar tissue, e) I can't even make a lining anymore, and f) after all this medical intervention we were so hideously unsuccessful, so a surprise pregnancy would be unheard of. Oh, and I'm going back on the pill once my body balances out because my period otherwise will come 3-4 times a year if I'm lucky and leave me incapacitated for 14 days." After all that I didn't feel it necessary to also share the RESOLVE statistic that the rate of "surprise" pregnancy after starting the adoption process is 5%, the same as any other infertile couple at that point. She took it in stride and moved on to other topics, related to being excited about adoption itself. It was a little surreal, given our previous, horrific conversation regarding family-building. But I'll take it!

So far, so good. I feel like I am super comfortable with letting the words, "we're adopting" roll off my tongue. It feels real. It should, because we are knocking stuff off that checklist and getting closer to our goal of completing our home study, one piece of paper at a time. It is such a different experience to share our news of adoption, both because it seems for some reason to be more socially accepted than infertility treatments (which irks me), and because it has been met (mostly) with unadulterated joy. And opportunities to educate. We are encouraging everyone we know to ask as many questions as they'd like, to pepper us with questions, because we'd rather have those conversations than have misconceptions floating around our experience. I am encouraged by these opportunities to share our news and the state of our family so far. I know that inevitably I will be met with negativity from time to time. And actually, I sort of blocked it from my memory, but I already have -- a person I know and see nearly daily told me, "I hope this works out for you, because while you say WHEN not IF that hasn't been my experience with friends of mine." Wow. THAT'S how you respond to someone's sharing that they are starting the adoption process??? When pressed, and when details about our agency's track record were shared, this person then said, "Well, I guess it's how long you're willing to wait. I guess my friends had had enough and didn't have the patience to keep going." Which was another interesting comment, and one I followed with, "Well, we've waited over 5 years already, we don't expect to be placed with a baby right away...patience is definitely needed in this process. We are hopeful it won't be another 5 years, though!" I tried to diffuse with humor, but then pretty much removed myself from the situation. But, that's one out of so many other more positive interactions. And the negativity was out of protection for me and my heart, so I have to look at it that way, misguided as it was.

This is all so new, and yet it feels like I have such a comfort level with talking about the experience and sharing the information I have gleaned from so many books and resources online. Next is contacting more people who have actually completed the process and brought their babies home, which we will venture to sooner than later. In the meantime, we will enjoy sharing our happy news as appropriate, finding ways to work through the different reactions we face, and feeling so secure in the joy that just exudes from us when we say, "We're adopting!"

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Our Home Study Consult: Binders, Manuals, Checklists

Last week we met with one of the social workers who will be managing our case at the adoption agency -- she is our Family Advocate. She is our finger on the pulse of what's happening throughout our process, she is the one we call with questions, she is the one who presents us with the initial stack of forms to fill out and the two-inches-thick Adoptive Parent Manual. She is the one, who after listening to our story of how we got to be sitting there in the giant conference room holding only three people, said the most beautiful words of hope I've heard in a long time:

"You are definitely ready to adopt. Now you are going to be parents." 

This meeting was the Home Study Consultation appointment, and it kick-started our home study process. Which, we found out, is the whole kit and kaboodle of paperwork, education, AND the actual home study visits to our home (I always thought that home study JUST meant the visits). So now, we are not just applicants, but we are prospective parents in the home study process, and once that process is done, we are WAITING ADOPTIVE PARENTS!!! It does not seem quite as overwhelming now that we have the timeline, the to-do lists, the full view of what it takes to get to the point where we are being viewed and hopefully selected by expectant or birth parents. 

For us, at our agency, the meeting looked like this: 
- Introductions
- Any questions before we get started? 
- Tell me about your decisions to adopt -- The Infertility part of the story comes up
- Here is the process -- the handing over of the manila folder filled with forms
          - Homestudy checklist (all paper and documents needed before an appointment can be scheduled with the separate social worker to do the actual home study visits and report)
           - Adoption Agreement (6 pages) read and signed
           - Nope, we have no criminal convictions sworn statement
           - Nope, we have no firearms in the house sworn statement and if for some reason we build an arsenal, we understand what must be done for children to be safe (yeah, so never building an arsenal)
           - drivers licenses and insurance cards copied
           - Pay Home Study Fee (first big chunk of dough, but equivalent to what I spent on injectibles in January, so not quite as painful to part with)
- Explanation of the Education component and the 40 credits we must complete 
            - Five required Home Study Classes, offered as a weekend cluster in Buffalo or Albany, count as 20 credits for both of us. 
             - 20 additional credits to be obtained by each of us, separately (or together if we attend classes together), including credit for books, for talking with other adoptive parents who have completed the process, for watching videos, for taking infant CPR and baby care classes (thankfully they offer these for adoptive parents, so you're not listening to all the pregos on breaks). Sadly there is a cap on reading books, as at this point I've read 5 1/2. :)
- Handing over of the giant Adoptive Parent Education Manual, with the explanation that the first five tabs are related to the classes and we will need to bring it to our class grouping. 
- Any further questions? 
- Handshakes, hugs, general admiring of all the pictures of babies and families on the wall and the placement board in the lobby, and then back out into the frigid cold to discuss everything on the hour and fifteen minute drive home. 

There it is, our actual manual for being a parent. Pardon the glare,
but it worked out fabulously as I wanted to blur out the agency
name and the faces of the adoptive parents on the cover but lack
the know-how to do it. Thank you, snow-sun glare!

Whew! It was about an hour and a half. But the time flew. It felt hopeful. It felt exciting. It also felt overwhelming, as I do not enjoy paperwork in jumbles in a folder. I immediately started brainstorming how to organize all this stuff and make it a process. 

Luckily I am a special education teacher, and organizing scads of paperwork into neat systems is my specialty -- especially now, at this time of IEP Annual Reviews. My Annual Review Binder is a thing of beauty, and I wanted to corral everything pretty similarly for this process. 

I did some research on Pinterest, and asked one of my friends what she did, binder or file box/accordion. I decided on binder. 

And here it is: 
Pretty binder. Even Lucky thinks so. (Little does he know what it means...)

Dividers with pockets! Haven't written on the tabs yet,
because I haven't 100% committed to how all those
glorious sections will be truly organized.

My pride and joy... they gave me a checklist, but I made
my own more detailed checklist and LAMINATED it.
Now we can use a wet erase marker to update what's done!

Ahhhhh. I feel SO much better when things are organized. The dividers hold signed copies of paperwork, paperwork to do (such as the daunting background check papers requiring addresses for 28 years!!!), education credit information, copies of receipts, original documents as we corral them and get them ready to be mailed (oh the joys of both being previously married...). 

That handy dandy checklist makes me feel better, because I made spaces for when we ordered paperwork, when we filled out forms, what appointments we've made, when things are received, and when things are mailed. Don't be too impressed by all the ink on there, this is a two-sided checklist. I am a firm believer in making to-do lists that already have things on them that you've accomplished--so all the paperwork we signed at the consult meeting is at the top. It is a lightening of the load to put a date next to another piece of the puzzle that must be completed! 

Other than this stack of paperwork, we have the classes. Unfortunately, the March classes were full. That was a bummer, as I would love nothing more than to plow through all the requirements to get to the home study visits and ultimately approval to be profiled. The April classes are in Albany, not Buffalo, which is a difference of a few hours and means taking time off of work for both of us, plus potentially driving in the crap weather for longer, plus April is a month with a lot going on. So we're doing the May classes in Buffalo. It sounds so, so far away but in actuality it's less than 3 months. And, we can get all this paperwork done ahead of time so that the classes are the last thing we need in our file before scheduling home study visits. There's just so much information in the classes that I wish we could do them earlier in our process. Oh well, just another reminder that there is still so much out of our control and that we must have peace with the process and any delays/bumps/issues that may come up. I'm sure a delay in taking classes is going to be the least of our bumps in the road, but it sure would be nice if that was it! Har har har. 

So, the first meeting is done and wasn't scary at all -- very warm and welcoming. The paperwork is in hand and we are methodically (obsessively) collecting everything and getting a good chunk of it done during February break. So grateful for this space to run around to county and town offices! We are officially IN THE PROCESS, and that is truly exciting.  

Monday, February 16, 2015

#Microblog Mondays: Safe To Come Out

One of the many rituals that I completed when in the throes of IVF was the epitome of "magical thinking." It was suggested that I buy onesies, wash them, and set them out in the room a baby would one day inhabit--so that I might send a message to the Universe that I was ready to receive this special little soul. In retrospect, I find this incredibly ill-advised, as my message was sent, and sent, and sent and never was my invitation accepted and confirmed. No phantom baby suddenly filled the adorable onesies that littered the bed and the tiny rocking chair and, at times, the chair in our master bedroom so that I could look on them when I went to sleep and when I woke. There's nothing wrong with visualizing a baby, and planning ahead, and giving yourself permission to dream that an actual baby will fill out that onesie, but when the cycles inevitably went wrong in whatever way, I was left with empty husks embroidered with elephants, leaving my heart emptier every time I saw them.

So we'd put them away. And then after so much loss, I had Bryce hide the ones I'd already bought, because they were just too painful to leave in plain sight.

But now... I have had Bryce excavate them from their hiding places (which were hilariously in plain sight and in rooms I spend a LOT of time in, so they were never actually very far away). They are freshly laundered and reset from their position of grief and emptiness in our home. They are carefully folded and placed in the tiny dresser that is already in our little room. They are ready for FutureBaby, because now that we are stepping deeper into the adoption process, he/she is a distinct reality, almost tangible, and completely expected--we are so, so ready for him/her to come into that room, into our lives, looking adorable in clothes picked out years and years before his/her arrival.

Little dresser... obviously going to need a bigger one.

The tiniest onesies drawer, elephant plush blanket, and the baby blanket
my sister knitted us years ago that can now come out to play.

Little onesies that didn't fit in the tiny drawer, larger sizes, some
adorable matching bibs. The pink and blue ones came from two sets I
bought during our first DE cycle, wanted to be sure the Universe knew I
wasn't preferring one over the other. Sounds a tad nutso now. :)
Love the jellyfish. That one's a favorite...
Want to read more #Microblog Mondays? Go here and enjoy! 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Piece by Peace

Over a week ago, when the world of IVF crumbled to dust around around our feet and we found ourselves done in the most unsatisfying way, I was a mess -- not just because I was horribly sick with a stomach virus, but because an impending loss had become tangible and the words "IT'S OVER" hung over us, all in caps,  like a messed up caption for that moment.

While I know that grief comes in waves and it's certainly not over and done with, I am finding that a sense of peace has come over me like a warm heated blanket, offering comfort in the face of this unfair end to our quest for pregnancy and a baby. It is both surprising and...not.

We have been mourning piecemeal for years, it seems. We started mourning our genetic components over two years ago, first mine and then Bryce's. This turn of events where we lose all genetic components isn't a shocking tragedy but rather a final acceptance of what has been a death of a thousand cuts. It hurts, but we can be at peace with it. Bryce actually said the other day, "I hope you don't think this comes off as callous, but I am SO GLAD THIS IS OVER, because now we can finally have our family."

I didn't think that was callous, I thought it was a beautiful truth. I will not miss jabbing myself with needles and getting probed vaginally and driving all over kingdom come for NOTHING. Because, at the end of all this hard work and positive thinking and changes in habits and hoping harder than a human should have to for a bodily function to work, we were left empty-handed. Chasing genetics and pregnancy (really, it was all about chasing pregnancy) led us further from a child of our own, not closer. We lost sight of the true goal, a lifetime of parenting, when we strove for an experience that lasts less than one year despite overwhelming evidence that things just weren't working out (and underwhelming reasons to explain WHY). I don't regret the journey, but it is so eye opening to realize how much freedom I feel in finally letting that go. I hadn't realized just how much weight I carried until it was gone.

It's time for hope, REAL hope, and a process that comes with its own complications and loss and potential for hurts, but one that works and will make us a family. (Expanded family, Bryce hates it when I say we will be a family, as he firmly believes we are a family already.) It has been surprisingly easy to embrace this new path, to feel excitement and hope and anticipation for this different process. We feel lighter, left without that awful sense of "WHAT HORRIBLE NEWS/BIZARRE TURN OF EVENTS WAITS FOR US NOW???" that came with our infertility journey. Now, we truly feel like expectant parents.

 FutureBaby, we're coming for you.

Friday, February 6, 2015

In the Time of the Butterflies

Once upon a time, there was a couple who wanted a baby more than anything else in the world. And they tried, and tried, and tried to make that happen with a pregnancy.

Once, they were successful--a normal pregnancy with normal HCG beta numbers and a genuinely happy call. And it looked like this:

They celebrated their good fortune with a walk in a nature park that was chock full of butterflies. They had joy and hope in their hearts.

Sadly, it was not to be. A short week later things ended, with a gush of lost hope and a strung-along bed rest that did not lead to a successful pregnancy. And that was the last time that there was a good news call.

They tried, and tried, and tried to make that moment come back again. Each time it failed. Then it seemed to fail more miserably, and new problems cropped up where there were none before. Injections became harder, bad news became the norm, and a dark, dark cloud settled over their hope.

But the couple made a decision. Was pregnancy the end-all be-all? Could they have a baby and add to their family of two without that experience? Were they chasing a pregnancy at the cost of parenthood? They decided enough was ENOUGH. Two canceled cycles in a row clinched it.

After days of crying (and years of mourning in advance), a deep peace settled over the couple. They decided that they were okay with letting go of the belly and the ultrasounds and the birth. They decided that what they couldn't let go of was becoming parents. Being a mom. Being a dad. Having a home filled with the joyful noise and chaos of children.

And so they completed the 22-page application for the adoption agency they had chosen over a year ago but kept tucked away, back-of-mind, until now. They spent the better part of a snow day plowing through the questions and the information gathering and the short answer philosophical questions that they felt super prepared for due to reading a number of excellent books on adoption and open adoption and exploring this option through blogs and friends who had gone before.

This week, they went from being people striving for a pregnancy and failing miserably to people who are officially registered with an adoption agency and have the first of many meetings regarding home study paperwork next week. (Ironically, in Buffalo.) They became expectant parents. They became people who no longer live in the fog of infertility treatments that did not work, but people who are turning to face the sun and embrace new possibilities. It may be a year, it may be longer... but at the end of this new journey, they will be parents.

And it looked like this:

Their smiles are just as big, if not bigger, than in the time of the butterflies. There is more hope in their hearts. There is more joy overflowing and spilling over onto friends and family (who, by the way, seem utterly thrilled at this turn in the road). They could not be happier than to be done with a process that did not work, and stop fighting against bodies that did not cooperate. Because now, now there is true promise. These are the smiles of parents-to-be who truly believe that their hope will end in lasting joy, finally.

And so I will not say The End, because it is really The Beginning. And times could not be more exciting.

Monday, February 2, 2015

#Microblog Mondays: Someday Our Dream Will Come

I have a Pinterest board, "Someday Our Dream Will Come...Until Then I Plan Obsessively," that I made last year, when I was tired of seeing everyone else's Planning for Baby boards in my feed and wanted to make a virtual baby binder that I could fiddle with on my phone.

When everything became painfully clear on Friday that we would be left with nothing from this cycle, what we had decided would be our LAST cycle, I was devastated. And then, somehow, by Sunday, I wanted to feel hopeful again.

So I went onto that Pinterest board, thinking I would have to retool it to be more appropriate to adoption.

Except...somehow, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING in that board was pregnancy-related, NOTHING. It was all related to babies and small children, packing diaper bags (not hospital bags), dressing newborns, nursery decorations, activities for toddlers and up--nary a pregnancy pin in the mix.

How very seems that my subconscious knew that our dream would come a different way than we had strived for so long, that I was already subconsciously making the switch from pregnancy to parenthood.

I toyed with making an Adoption Board, but decided against it and started adding adoption pins to my same board. Because someday our dream WILL come, I will continue to plan obsessively, and we will turn that SOMEday into ONE day...sooner than later, I hope.

Want to read more #Microblog Mondays? Go here and enjoy.