“Thank you for adopting me!”

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We were singing “The Wheels on the Bus” today when, in the middle of a verse my son stopped, wrapped his little arms around my neck and said, “Thank you for adopting me – I always wanted a mommy like you.”

Stunned, utterly caught up in emotion like a balloon had swelled in my chest so that I couldn’t even speak, I just squeezed that little 3-year-old boy in my arms and felt immeasurable love and joy in my son.  He’s never said anything like this before and I was completely shocked!

I am not sure where his remark came from; it had been an ordinary day.  We had not talked about adoption today.  It just came out of the blue!  But I love that adoption is part of his vocabulary.  I love that even though he is too young to understand the full meaning of us being his adoptive parents and that he has birthparents, his adoption is cemented into the foundation of his sense of self.  His understanding of it will develop over the coming years but it is a part of who he is even now as a little guy in these early years.

I encourage you adoptive parents to not shy away from openly talking about adoption with your child.  Let it be a part of your every day language, let them grow up with adoption being a celebrated aspect of who they are.  Let their adoption be a part of the foundation of their sense of self from the very beginning.  Don’t worry about getting the words just right or perfectly explaining the abstract concept of adoption to your toddler or child who lives in the concrete.  Go with the flow and don’t worry when you can’t seem to find the words in response to their questions.  The most important part is that they sense in you the joy and celebration over their adoption.  Your smile and hug as you tell you them you adopted them is what they will understand; and they will know they are special and loved!

I’ll cherish my son’s words today.  Always!

“Just a spoonful of sugar – no sprinkles! – helps the medicine go down”

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Mary Poppins may have been onto something.  A spoonful of sugar may help the medicine go down but so does a little dusting of sprinkles help the food go down! Or so I have recently learned!  My little guy simply does not eat.  Most things he does not like and even those few items that he does like, he won’t eat anyway.  (I often wonder how he survives thrives on such little amounts of food!)  But he does love sprinkles and I have recently experimented with putting a few sprinkles on top of some of his food and he devours it with a big smile and an un-coached “thank you, Mommy!”

Now, I just need to start carrying sprinkles in my purse for the times we eat out at restaurants . . . .

sprinkles

 

When the jealousy hits

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I’ve recently been writing a lot about my experiences of living with infertility and if I were to be completely honest then I would have to admit another truth in living with infertility; I get jealous.  I sometimes get jealous of the friend who gets pregnant or the compete stranger at the grocery store patting her pregnant belly as she pushes her cart full of kids down the aisle.  Or sometimes it is just the smallest of comments made by another woman regarding her newborn baby or her baby-to-be and suddenly I feel that gut-wrenching jealousy sprout its ugly head inside of me.

I think there are 3 responses one can have to feelings of jealousy:

1 – Ignore it, stuff it and hope it goes away

2 – Sit in it and let it engulf your heart

3 – Let it reveal to you where you have pain

It is so easy to become consumed with guilt after feeling jealous and we try to just quickly move our thoughts to something else, anything but the jealousy swelling up inside.  But, in doing this we miss an opportunity to let that jealousy lead us to the reasons why it has raised its ugly head.  I think when we experience jealousy, it is fueled by a hurt, a pain deep in our heart.

Over the years of dealing with infertility and the myriad of emotions that come with it, I have learned how to deal with jealousy.  There was a time when I battled fertility jealousy every day and sometimes I felt like it was eating my heart completely, but as I have experienced continued healing in my life regarding our infertility I have noticed that the jealousy monster does not frequent as often.  Even still, I have my moments and my days when I feel incredible jealousy.

This has become my battle plan for jealousy: When jealous feelings arise I first, confess it to God.  Secondly, I say a quick prayer for the woman I am feeling jealous of, such as “God please give her a healthy pregnancy.”  When jealousy has you turned inward to thinking of yourself, praying for the other person is a great way to unleash the reins that jealousy has over you in the moment by turning your attention on someone other than yourself.  And finally, I pray for God to heal the wound in my heart, the infertility wound.

Jealousy is a part of life.  It’s what we do with it and how we respond to it that is important.  What wound is your jealousy pointing you toward?

Don’t let the pain alienate you

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My last post about living with infertility was some brutal truth of what I have experienced in these last 10 years of dealing with infertility.  But there is another aspect, a vital piece to my story that is equally important to the pain infertility has caused me and it is this: even in the midst of deep sadness for my own infertility, I still feel joy for my friends and family as they become pregnant and welcome their baby into the world.

It may sound like an oxymoron; to feel both sadness for yourself and joy for another person all at the same time.  But this is one of those things that I love about how God created us.  He intricately created us to experience and feel multiple emotions at one time, even opposing emotions.

I truly, with all my heart feel great joy to see someone I love journey through pregnancy.  I love seeing them become a mom.  And I want to share in their joy too.  And at the same time, I may feel sad.

My greatest fear is that my pain in infertility will alienate me from my friends because, out of fear for causing me more pain, they avoid sharing their news of pregnancy with me or talking about their pregnancy openly.  I fear that in being transparent with my pain (as I have in recent posts) that others will put me at arm’s length when sharing about their babies.

I share what it is like to live with infertility because one, it feels freeing to be transparent, and secondly to hopefully educate those who have a loved one dealing with infertility.

I’ll never forget when a dear friend of mine told me she was newly pregnant and then she said, “this is probably really hard for you to hear me share this.”  I was so touched by her words because she acknowledged the joy of her pregnancy and also the pain I was feeling about my own infertility.  She totally gave me permission to share in her great news and at the same time not diminish my own feelings or pretend that I wasn’t hurting.

If you are experiencing infertility, don’t be afraid to be transparent with your friends and family about your emotions.  And if you are the one with a friend or family member dealing with infertility, don’t be afraid to share your pregnancy experiences with them.  Together you can acknowledge the array of emotions from you both, from the happy to the sad.

 

 

What is it like living with infertility? Let me tell you . . .

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I have hesitated in writing this post for quite a long time.  I didn’t want to sound like a downer, I feared others may think I have not experienced significant healing in my journey through infertility, and the list of reasons goes on.  But I have finally decided that none of those reasons matter.  The truth is that as a woman in her fertile years with friends and family in their fertile years who are having babies, I cannot escape the frequent, sometimes daily reminders of my barren womb.  Cried over our loss for biological children?  Yes, I have.  Experienced healing and peace over this loss?  Yes, most definitely.  But it is still a journey for me.  I’m not sure when that day will come that I do not feel even the smallest sense of sadness for our infertility, and it may never come.  But as much as I have healed, I still deal with the daily reality of living with a barren womb.

So what is it like to live with infertility?

  • It’s having the occasional month where, for a day or two, you think you may be pregnant (even though the doctor has told you it is impossible for you to be pregnant) because you are even the slightest bit late.  And then just when you have yourself convinced you might be pregnant, because after all God did give children to many women in the Bible when they were well past their childbearing years, you discover it was a false hope.  You then realize how silly you were for even allowing yourself to think you may be pregnant.
  • It’s living with the plumbing and all of the problems that can come with that plumbing and wondering, for what?  Why do I have to deal with this plumbing when it not going to be used?
  • It’s realizing that you are staring at your pregnant friend’s (or stranger!) tummy and hoping your face doesn’t show the sadness, disappointment, or even the jealousy you feel for wishing it was you.
  • It’s the fear of not being able to share with your future pregnant daughter or daughter-in-law about pregnancy or being able to coach her with advice because you really don’t know what she is going through.
  • It’s wanting to scream at the next person who tells you their story of someone they know who finally got pregnant right after they adopted and they give you a glowing smile as if to say, “Just wait, you adopt and then you will get pregnant.”  The funny thing is that these people with their “encouraging” stories don’t even know the facts of your infertility.  They don’t know that you really can’t get pregnant.
  • It’s having the occasional dream that you are pregnant, and it’s so real because in the dream you feel the baby  . . . only to wake up and realize it is bladder pain and you really have to pee.
  • It’s that awkwardness you feel when everyone around you is talking about pregnancy and you really can’t relate but you wish more than anything that you can.
  • It’s sometimes feeling that you are in the club of motherhood by proxy and not because you earned your way in through pregnancy, labor and delivery.  And you are reminded of this often because women love to share their stories of heroism in childbirth.  (And rightfully so!  You just wish you could share that same story too.)
  • It’s the fear of your childbearing years coming to an end, that “the clock is ticking” even though it doesn’t make a difference if you have 5 years or 15 years left on your biological clock.
  • It’s a deep loss, the deepest kind of longing in your soul for a baby in your womb.
  • It’s trying not to lose it every time a well-meaning woman gives you advice about how to get pregnant.  If only they took a minute to think before speaking they may realize that everyone’s reason for infertility is different.  Some have been told that getting pregnant will be very difficult, but possible.  Others, it is not possible at all.
  • It’s cycling back and forth between resting in peace in God’s sovereignty and your infertility and then questioning God if he made a mistake in your infertility.
  • It’s feeling that you somehow have loss some of your womanhood, of what it means to be a woman by not experiencing, or being able to experience pregnancy.
  • It’s wanting to scream at the woman complaining of her unplanned pregnancy.
  • It’s listening to one more pharmacist or doctor tell you the risks of the antibiotics or medication you are about to take if you are by chance pregnant.  Or explaining to another nurse or doctor that even though you are late for your period you are not pregnant and they don’t need to do a pregnancy test.
  • It’s feeling joy when your friend tells you she is pregnant and feeling sadness at the same time because you wish it was you.
  • It’s dreading that baby shower, not because you don’t want to celebrate your friend’s coming baby, but you fear all of the talk about pregnancy and you wonder if you will be able to “fit in” with the conversations.
  • It’s so many experiences and emotions . . .

Everyone’s experience of infertility is different.  My experiences come from the perspective of my husband and I being unable to conceive, as in it is impossible for us to conceive.  You may have a friend, and whether she is experiencing infertility and trying to conceive or she has been told that she will never conceive, I bet she has experienced a least a few of the things listed above, if not all.

Living with infertility is cyclic.  Most days I am ok.  I have seasons of feeling very much at peace with the reality of our infertility.  But every once in a while, it sneaks up on me and I still experience some of the things I’ve mentioned above.

If you are living with infertility, I hope some of these things you can relate to.  And I’d love to add to this list your experiences of living with infertility.

If you have a loved one experiencing infertility, remember that it is a silent grief.  You may not see that they are hurting, but they are daily reminded of their infertility.

What they don’t tell you about parenthood!

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There are some things that no one tells you about parenthood . . . you’re left to learn about them on your own as a first-time parent.  Today I learned one of those things that seasoned parents forgot to warn me about.

My son spent the morning playing at my parents’ house; eating donuts, playing ball outside, helping to bathe their beloved dog that he thinks is actually his dog.  Everything was fine when my mom dropped him off to me at home but as soon as she left the melt-down began.  At one point, with tears streaming down his face, he says to me,”I’m so sad that Mimi left me here with you.”  He was seriously falling apart because he was back home with me.  He cried for his Mimi (my mom), his Papa (my dad), and then moved on to cry for his Grandma and Grandpa (my in-laws) and then for daddy who was just about to leave for work.

I was crushed!  My own son crying because he was “left” with me!  My heart broke.  And then 2 seconds passed and I was over it, reminding myself that he is 3.

It’s one of those things about parenthood that no one tells you; look out for the moments, or days, or seasons that your child doesn’t want you!  Ok, I guess parents really do talk about that and I’m sure I have been warned many times about this truth; but somewhere deep down inside I didn’t really believe them!!!  Certainly not my child!! 🙂

The topic no one wants to talk about

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There’s a truth in my past that I don’t often talk about.  I find that when I do talk about it, it makes people uncomfortable; they are not sure what to say, how to respond, and it’s a taboo subject.  The truth is that there was a suicide in my family 16 years ago.  My older brother took his own life at the very young age of 17.

Suicide has a stigma attached to it and yet it is because of this stigma that people don’t want to talk the realities of it; and so those who deal with suicidal thoughts or those who have lost a loved one to suicide suffer in silence.  The irony is that as much as I hate this stigma on suicide, I often avoid talking about suicide because I see how uncomfortable it makes people when I do talk about it.  I have recently realized that in my silence, I am only perpetuating this stigma.  The only way to combat the stigma surrounding suicide is to talk about it, educate people about depression and the suicidal mind, and help suicide survivors heal with the grace and truth that is rooted in Jesus Christ.

My parents and I have started a blog for suicide survivors.  We hope to share our story of grief and healing as well as connect with others who have lost a loved one to suicide.  If you or someone you know is a suicide survivor, there’s a place for you to connect with those who have walked that dark and very lonely road of grief.

http://wherehopesprings.wordpress.com/

Brave

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Today my son ran to me asking for a paper towel.  After I gave him one he ran off only to return a minute later with the paper towel crumpled up in his hand.  He said he had a surprise for me as he gently unfolded the paper towel revealing a squished spider.

I smiled big and thanked him for saving me from the spider!  Happy to have taken care of things as a big boy, he threw the spider and paper towel in the trash and ran back to play.

It was a small incident, squashing a little spider, but my momma heart beat proudly for his demonstration of bravery!  His father has taught him that mom does not care for bugs, spiders or other such critters in the house and has shown him how to protect mom from them.

The seemingly insignificant spider incident earlier today has left me to think about how important it is to teach my son to be courageous and brave.  He will grow up to one day be the leader and care-taker for his family.  I want him to be strong, brave, and confident to lead.

My husband and I have been working diligently in teaching him truth versus a lie and the utter importance of telling the truth even when he is scared of the consequences.  It hit me today, I need to be teaching my son to be brave to tell the truth!

May we raise a generation of boys who are brave, courageous, and strong to speak truth, lead their families in truth as husbands and fathers, and unwaveringly seek truth in a dark world.

Raising Boys

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I’ve only been a mom to a boy for 3 1/2 years but I am very proud of all that I have learned!  These are just a few of the things I may never have learned if I didn’t have this adventure of raising a boy . . .

I’ve learned the difference in how to growl like a lion versus growl like a bear.

In the car just the other day my son explained to me that gazelles can run faster than a cheetah because they run in a zigzag.  Later he demonstrated to me how to run zigzag and has given me plenty of opportunities to practice.

I’ve learned the names of every, yes EVERY superhero and their special skill.

I can fight like a power ranger, sword fight like a ninja, and wrestle.

I have learned by my son’s example of the endless sound effects one must make while playing, and I have even found myself spontaneously making sound effects while playing!

I am learning (although I have not fully arrived!) to say “oh cool!” instead of scream when my son hands me a worm with a smile plastered on his face.

I’ve told and re-told the stories of David and Goliath and Daniel in the lion’s den and discussed over and over David’s use of a sling.

I can sing AND do the hockey-pockey while driving in the car (is there a law against that?) in an effort to contain the energy of a 3-year-old boy strapped into a car seat.

This is just the tip of the iceberg of what I have learned and of the many ways I have been stretched as a mother to a boy.  And to think, I am only 3 years into this.  How much more will I learn in the next 15 years?  20 years?

The Grass is Greener . . .

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Tomorrow is my 10 year anniversary to my husband.  We have a beautiful relationship and a beautiful life that God has richly blessed.  I would like to say that I have spent the day happily detailing all of the wonderful ways we have been blessed these last 10 years, but I haven’t.  No, I have spent the last several days ruminating on all of the ways my life is not as I wish it were.  Here is me, in all of my vulnerability.  I am writing this post only because I believe there must be someone out there who can relate!!

When we married I envisioned; 8 adorable little children that I birthed, a moderate house (not too big or fancy but comfortable with a long kitchen table to fit our mass of kids), me homeschooling our children with my husband working a Monday through Friday type of job, our backyard would encompass our own fruit and vegetable garden and I would cook healthy meals everyday, etc, etc.  We would look healthy and fit and exercise as a family on long walks after dinner and have devotions every day.  We’d be like the Sound of Music, singing in perfect harmony as we skipped down the road hand-in-hand.  Okay, you get the picture!  Ready for the reality?

Here are just a few of the mistakes and ironies that I embraced today: I hit the snooze button too many times this morning and missed my morning prayer and Bible study time; as I drove 10+ miles over the speed limit on my way to a meeting at work that I was running late to, I was listening to an interview on the public radio station of a researcher team’s study in using monetary incentives to encourage drivers to remain at the speed limit; I succumbed to hunger and instead of making the sandwiches that I had planned to make for lunch, we ate fast food; after putting my son down to nap I drank a cup of coffee and immediately fell asleep; tonight I went to a new exercise class and could not find the class in the building and ended up coming home 15 minutes after I left (truth be told, the “class” was a swimming class!  It wasn’t just a room I was looking for, it was a swimming pool!); I read through a new blog and was intrigued about a post regarding eating fruits and vegetables, I read it as I was eating chocolate cookies (not the homemade, whole wheat, made with honey from the local farm kind but the packaged kind from the store that has “sugar” listed as the first ingredient).

I sat here tonight thinking of all the ways I would like my life to be.  I somehow felt that I was justified in my pity party because, after all it is not wealth I am desiring.  It is not a nicer car or gobs of money that I am wishing I had.  It is notable things – to have better cooking skills to whip up a good-tasting and healthy meal, to have a smoother routine at home with bedtimes, exercise time, family time, to have enough money to be comfortable but not spoiled (really, is that even possible?), to lose the extra pounds that my picture on the “about me” page does not show (because it is an old picture!), and on and on.  I thought to myself, it’s not the “American Dream” that I am wishing I had, it’s just a few tweaks here and there in our lifestyle and day-to-day operations.

But then it hit me – it may not be the big house, big car, lavish vacations, expendable income that I am desiring but it is the same thing; coveting that which I do not have.  It’s wishing that my life somehow would unfold as a fairy tale and I would be that creative, fun, active, healthy, smiley, disciplined, always godly, “perfect” mom that I envision in my head.  There is only one word to say what this is: sin!  Sin for being envious of what others have both in tangible things and in their very character traits.

I am confessing to God that I am jealous of what he has not given me and made me to be.  I am confessing that instead of being who he made me to be, I daydream of who I wish I was.

The core issue I am reminded of tonight is that if my life is centered on me being content, comfortable, and happy then I will alway be looking over the fence thinking that the grass is certainly greener on the side.  But, if my life is centered on God being glorified and his Name being known to all, then it takes the “me” out of the equation.  God is not honored when I strive to be someone who he did not create me to be, but he is honored when, in all of my short-comings and imperfections as a wife and mom, I seek strength and wisdom from Him.  In my weakness His strength is made perfect (2 Corinthians 12:8-10).

When my focus is on me, there is a lot of pressure to be look around at other women in their roles as wives and moms and compare myself to them and try to be what I “think” is the most admiring way to live.  But when my focus is on God, all of that pressure is gone and there is freedom.  I don’t have to wish my life was anything but what it is right now because the goal is to glorify him, and he is glorified when we are who he created us to be, where he created us to be, with whom he gave us to be with (husband, children, family), and to soak in his grace in all the times that we fail.  Oh the F R E E D O M!

😉