Friday, August 09, 2013

Starting to Discuss

The way we've decided to talk through the adoption process probably isn't the way other couples might do it. But, we do what we do, and I may as well put it out there.

We found an agency through my church, and downloaded their adoptive parents pre-questionnaire. The first pages are easy enough -- questions about us, our ethnicity, jobs, religion, health, age, etc. Then there are the pages about what kinds of children we would be interested in adopting. This is a really loaded part of the questionnaire, because who wouldn't want to adopt any child who needed them? But it's harder than that. This isn't a matter of pulling up to the drive-through at McDonalds and ordering up your perfect kid. But it is about what kinds of adoptive issues you're prepared to deal with. And going through these questions are helping us sort through our reasons for adopting and have good conversations about our fears and hopes for how this process may go. Anything that fosters honest conversation is a win in my book. It may take us a long time to work through that questionnaire, but at the end of it, I think we will have a much better idea of what we want to do next with it.

For example, the first question asks about the race of the child. We'd all like to believe we are colorblind and none of us are racists, only willing to adopt a child that looks like us. On the other hand, if we adopt a child of a different race, everyone knows we've adopted that child. Say we adopt a black child. We will get every manner of question from random strangers who might ask (right in front of the child, no less) whether we love Caleb more than our adopted child, or if we didn't believe that the black community would have been a better place for that child, or who knows what else. Do we need to be showy about the fact that we've adopted? Or would it be better not to attract the immediate attention of people around us because we're a "different" looking family? Would it be better for the child to be able to plausibly blend in rather than sticking out? Would we be lining them up to be rejected by their black peers for having a white family while also being rejected by their white peers for not being white? Or does this require everyone around us and them to have to figure out how to make the world a better place for people of all races? And as long as we're talking about "better," better for whom? Is it better for that child to grow up in foster care? Shuffled from family member to family member? Not having anyone to call "mom" and "dad"?

Ultimately, we decided there are only two options. Either we are only willing to adopt a white child, or race doesn't matter. We couldn't think of any reason we would be willing to adopt a black child but not an Asian child or a Native American/Hispanic child. So, we're either wanting to make it look to a stranger that we have a "natural" family, or we're okay with random people looking at us and knowing we have an adopted child. There were a lot of options on that list, but finally, we checked the "Any" box.

I don't think we have rose-colored glasses about what that could mean. We know it will be hard, and we will deal with rudeness. But the thought of rejecting a child from being part of our family simply because of the color of his or her skin just broke us down. We couldn't do that if we could provide them with a better life.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

New Thoughts on Family Making

So, we've had a crazy month in my little family. Caleb turned one, had hand-foot-and-mouth disease, fell on his head and broke his collarbone. RB got a sinus infection. I had my first post-D&C period which became a suspected ectopic pregnancy. Too much. Really, just too much.

RB is doing better, Caleb is almost all healed up and nearly walking, and I survived my period. One thing I didn't expect, though, was that when we were looking the possibility of dead baby #3, I realized I'm not sure I can deal with that. Sure, I am not real excited about being pregnant again. But the risk that that abysmal pregnancy could turn into not a live baby that I can take home at the end of it is really still there. I have no reasons for my two miscarriages. I don't know if I can take the diagnosis of habitual aborter that comes with a third. Seriously. Who in the medical community thought that was a good name for people who have recurring miscarriages?

At the end of the day, between the likelihood that I would be sick for 9 months (or however long I manage to carry another baby) and the likelihood that I wouldn't be able to carry the baby long enough to get it to viability, we've started talking about other options.

I've always wanted to adopt. There are just too many babies out there who need good homes. And we could be one of them. I have never felt like I would have to be biologically connected to a child to love it and bond with it. We just didn't pursue it right off, since my initial research showed that having been married less than 2-5 years put us in an unlikely-to-be-considered camp. I've since found that to fall in the not-strictly-true camp, but that's what started us on trying to have a biological child. Faster, less red tape, and a smaller likelihood that we would deal with the emotional roller coaster that is adoption.

But now we're on an emotional roller coaster regardless. And we've been married the amount of time at which many of the agencies in our area will consider us. So, we're reconsidering the possibility.

I don't want to give the impression that adoption is easier or somehow a fall-back option or anything like that. It just wasn't an option for us before, and it is now. I'm not even entirely sure if this is what we want to do. Heck, there are days we aren't sure we should even add another child to our brand of crazy. But I want to think it through and make sure we don't have a defaulted decision by aging out or otherwise delaying until it's impractical. I'm still learning all the ways that I have to be delicate in talking about something like this, but I have to start putting pen to paper in order to process this decision.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Dark Can Be Funny, Right?

This pregnancy wasn't planned. We had started talking about the possibility of trying this summer to give Caleb a little sibling, but we hadn't entirely agreed on that timeline. No, we weren't preventing. But considering it took us months to get pregnant before, while actively charting, I didn't really think we were in the market for an Oops. And, yet, that's precisely what happened.

Pregnancy was so far off my radar that I was 10 days late before I even thought to test. Not 10 days past ovulation, but 10 days after I was supposed to get my period. And I'm one of those clockwork cycle ladies.

But we started to adjust to the idea of two under two, RB and I did. And we joked about Caleb's baby twin sisters, because three under two is even more funny. We figured out the baby would be due on New Years' Eve, and so we nervously laughed about our Halloween baby. The only thing funnier than three under two, apparently, is two babies in the NICU with a 15-month-old at home.

As we adjusted and warmed to the idea of trading the Mini Cooper for a minivan, we were starting to actually get excited about this little pickle we'd gotten ourselves into. We codenamed the baby "Inchworm" (Caleb was "Tadpole" until he was 4 days old), and we started to talk about room adjustments and carseat purchases and whether a third baby was in the cards for the future.

However, my progesterone numbers were falling. Not terribly surprisingly, yesterday afternoon the doctor couldn't find a heartbeat anywhere. At 8 weeks, it shouldn't be hard to find a heartbeat, so the pregnancy has been officially called non-viable. We have a D&C scheduled for next week, and then we'll let my body recover before diving into trying again.

In a world where a quarter of all pregnancies end in miscarriage, and a world where some people never have one, there are some of us doomed to have more. No one ever plans to be in the 3-pregnancies-1-child camp, but here I find myself. At least I do have that one child, and he is such a joy. I can't lose sight of that, even though times like this are hard.

So, now that my dark sense of humor is clear, and since I obviously cope oddly, I have to share this song whose slightly modified version is stuck in my head:

Go ahead and watch it. It's only about 2 minutes long. I'll wait.

And you're welcome. I can now virtually guarantee this song will be stuck in your head, too. Because, well, dead babies aren't much fun, either, but the song is catchy.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Why Being Pregnant Scares Me

So, yeah, still (probably) pregnant. Still in a bit of denial here.

Obviously, some of my nervousness comes from the fact that Caleb is so young. He still doesn't sleep through the night (well, maybe 1-2 nights a week he will), so I will go from no sleep while pregnant to no sleep while in the NICU to no sleep with a baby to no sleep while pregnant to no sleep with a baby (hoping to skip the NICU this time). That is a really long time to be sleep-deprived.

The other part of it is that I'm just straight up bad at being pregnant. If you don't want to know about the ugly side of being pregnant, you should skip the rest of this post. For real.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

I was so sick with Caleb that I lost weight while pregnant. People don't normally do that unless they are already pretty overweight to start with. I was probably 13-15 pounds overweight when I got pregnant, and after delivery I was 10 pounds underweight. I got a lot of comments about looking like a pregnant skeleton. The problem was I couldn't eat much of anything except salad and fish. You try gaining weight on that diet. Everything made me sick -- smells, textures, flavors. I threw up a lot. I threw up at work. I threw up in the shower. It was not fun. And then at 10 weeks, while trying desperately not to throw up in the trash can in the waiting room, I "got" to take the glucose drink test to diagnose gestational diabetes. Since I had GD, I was forbidden from the diet I would have preferred -- goldfish and Kraft macaroni and cheese -- and had to cut most of the carbs from my already limited diet. No dairy and very little fruit either.

Regardless of the fact that my body was quite sick with all the hormonal changes, I was not producing enough progesterone. Since I had had a previous miscarriage, it was determined that supplementing my already-crazy hormone levels with extra progesterone would be fun. Yay for twice-daily vaginal suppositories through week 12 that are amazingly nasty and guarantee nothing!

At 14 weeks, I gave into the nausea, and went on drugs. I was like a whole new person. It was amazing. I figured it would be short term (maybe I would be one of those women sick for -- gasp! -- 4 months instead of 3!), but every time I tried to wean myself off, I was right back to miserable and pukey. The last time I tried to stop taking them was (inadvertently) the week I ended up delivering. I took my pile of pills each night, including the anti-nauseal, and was usually able to make it through the day with just one dose. That week there was a day that I was sick all day, and figured I'd have to up my dose. Then I went to take my pills that night, and saw my cute little Zofran from the night before wedged in my little pill container, all sad that it had been missed. That's my proof the nausea wasn't psychosomatic, as some had suggested.

Zofran, while wonderful at controlling nausea, did terrible other things to my body. The constipation was so bad that I was consuming 40 grams of fiber in food each day, while taking psyllium husk supplements, and every couple of days I'd still have to take milk of magnesia to manage to do number two in 30-45 minutes. Truly miserable. For the silver lining, though, I figured I got an opportunity to practice my birthing visualizations and relaxing my pelvic floor and pushing out those enormous "butt babies." Seriously, they were so big I couldn't flush them.

My goal was a birthing center birth, so that meant I had to be "low risk". I was, however, automatically "high risk" because I'm over 35. And then I had GD, and found out that if I had to be medicated for it, that would move me up the risk ladder enough that the birth center would have to transfer me elsewhere. So, I controlled that GD with diet. It was hard, but I learned so much about what kinds of things made my body more resistant to insulin, so in addition to what I ate, I controlled my stress levels (through deep breathing, yoga, exercise, reduced hours at work, etc.). It was exhausting, but I was sure it would be worth it.

And then I up and delivered little Caleb at 32 weeks. No warnings from my body, just POP! goes the membranes, and out comes a baby, three hours later, leading to a lovely 40-day NICU stay. I could get all I-didn't-get-the-birth-experience-I-was-looking-for here, but that's not really it. It's just part of how bad I was and this whole pregnancy thing -- I couldn't even carry to close to term.

So, here I am, 8 weeks along, massively nauseous and hating my body for doing this to me. Again. I have some Zofran leftover from Caleb, so I've taken a few doses to keep from descending into the crappiness that I dealt with before. I've given up on any thought of a birthing center birth or a low-risk pregnancy. I'm hearing the same song and dance about low progesterone, and expect to be on the suppositories by week's end. But I'm hoping -- hoping!! -- that we'll see/hear a heartbeat on ultrasound later this week, and looking forward to starting to look forward to this little baby, even with all the ickiness and such that is certain to be my path for the next 5-7 months.

 And since no one has told me otherwise, I'm eating goldfish for an afternoon snack. I already had mac and cheese for lunch. So sue me. I'm going to survive pregnancy as well as I can until it becomes the miserable hell that I know is coming.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Getting Back to Running

I gotta get in shape. No, really. I gotta.

A couple of weeks ago, I ran a 10-mile race. Well, ran is a bad word. But when I signed up for it in November, it sounded like a good idea. I was sure our family would settle into a routine where I would be able to go running on a regular basis, and paying the registration fee for a race was a sure-fire way to make sure I wouldn't bail on my need to train. Oops.

I think I ran a total of 10 miles between November and race day. Soooooooo not ready. But, I'd signed up, and so I was certainly getting the free stuff you get with running a race. And I can't wear that cool t-shirt if I didn't actually complete the event. I guess my various ingrained rules got the best of me, and so I lined up to start. I jogged the first 3 miles. I alternated jogging and walking for the next mile. Then I found a walking partner, and walked the next 3 miles. I jogged when I could and walked most of the next few miles, but I absolutely ran that last quarter mile when they take all the pictures.

Certainly not a great completion time, and definitely didn't make the time I thought I'd do when I signed up. But I finished, and now I am oddly motivated to figure out how to fit regular running, swimming and biking into my weeks. Swimming shouldn't be too bad, especially once I convice RB to hang out with Caleb in the kiddie pool while I swim some laps. And I think I'll put the bike on its stand and "ride" out on the porch or driveway while Caleb plays in the yard (that child *will* enjoy playing in the grass, if I have anything to say about it). And if we can get back to that whole sleeping-through-the-night thing, I might even be able to manage throwing him in the jogging stroller and getting out in the early morning (though, right now, the idea of getting up at 5:30 to run doesn't sound terribly appealing after being up with him at midnight and 4).

I think I can....I think I can...I think I can!

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Cleansing the Body

Years ago, a coworker did this crazy diet -- he consumed nothing but lemon juice, maple syrup, cayenne pepper and water for ten days. It looked miserable during the ten days, but he kept saying how he felt really good. He lost a pretty significant amount of weight, and then switched to a vegetarian diet, and is still thin today.

I was intrigued, so I researched it. Called the Master Cleanse, it is intended to remove toxins from the body and give the digestive system a rest so it can get rejuvenated and ready to go again. Toxins end up in our system from fast food, processed food, chemicals in the water, etc. Now, I don't subscribe to any of the conspiracy theories about the government trying to poison us, but I do know that a lot of the chemicals used in foods to brighten up the color or enhance the flavor haven't been around long enough to *really* know what they can do to us long-term. I really don't want to use my body as a part of that experiment, so I thought I'd give it the old college try.

I made my first attempt a couple of years ago. I tried out the concoction, and it actually tastes pretty good, and does a decent job of keeping the hunger pangs to a minimum. However, I derailed at day three when french fries were consumed in my presence. I love carbs, and I just didn't have the willpower to resist those fries. And then I moved. And then I got married. And then I got pregnant. And then I miscarried. And then I got pregnant again. And then I was pumping. Some of those were probably excuses, but several were legitmate reasons not to do, in effect, a starvation diet. So I held off. And then I did it in April. I finished all ten days of the diet with no cheating or anything. I had two really tough days in there (day four and day eight), but otherwise it was just the boredom of the same thing every day that was more of a factor than the craving of any food in particular.

I lost 9.5 pounds on the cleanse, and really felt pretty good -- energized and ready to take on the world again. When I returned to eating regular food, I have been following the diet I did while pregnant with gestational diabetes (but with occasional alcohol). Mostly, that entails eating more salad and fewer/better carbs. And I eschew most fast food (I love the word eschew, but now I want a cashew). I certainly expected my weight to go up as I added calories and solid food back into my, but it hasn't gone up much. At a week out from finishing the cleanse, I appear to have stabilized at about a 6-7 pound loss. Add to that some exercise, and I should be in good shape. My goal was drop a few pounds to reduce my likelihood for developing gestational diabetes if we get pregnant again.

So, when my period was late, I didn't give it a second thought. I figured I was essentially on a starvation diet for 10 days, and that's bound to mess up a woman's cycle. As I ate more normally again, my body would naturally start doing those things it does. And then, last night, I realized I'm now 8 days late. Like a good woman of childbearing age planning to start trying to get pregnant again this summer, I had some tests on hand. So I took one this morning -- fully expecting a negative result. Surely I'm just late because of the diet.

And then there was that faint second line. And now I feel awful. I was doing this diet right when I would have ovulated, and that's not a great start for a baby. Praying hard today that everything is okay.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Dealing with Uncle Z

So, my brother-in-law is driving me crazy. We call him Uncle Z, and he's RB's only brother. Sigh.

A little background. When RB and I started dating again (that's another story for another day), things were fun and carefree between us. RB was living in Dallas and I was living in Austin, so one of us would make the trek, and we would enjoy an immensely fun weekend of lazing by the pool, eating great food, and watching movies. When we'd been dating for about 4 months, I went to Dallas for RB's birthday. The sixth Harry Potter movie was coming out that weekend, so I went up on Thursday, and both took Friday off to celebrate with a long weekend. We went out for sushi, and were ecstatic to go to bed late and know that we could sleep in like slackers playing hooky. Instead, we got a call at 6:30am from an old girlfriend of Uncle Z that he had shot himself and was at the big trauma hospital in Houston. Uncle Z posted his suicide note on Facebook for the world to see (do you know that it's impossible to get anything changed on someone else's Facebook page if you don't have their password?), so there was lots of conjecture and rumors going everywhere. Regardless of the lack of speaking, RB was obviously upset. The hospital had no record of Uncle Z coming in, their mom was heading down there, and the police wanted to talk to someone and turn over the gun to someone in the family for safe-keeping. So, he headed to Houston, eventually found his brother, was there for a week and every weekend for 3 months after that. He paid his brother's bills (including a mortgage that was 4 months behind), spent a ton of time with him and their mother, and worked with several friends to clean up the blood at the house and to fill in the holes in the walls/ceiling (he fired at least 3 rounds). Once Uncle Z was released from the hospital, he went to live with his mom, and has lived there for about 3 years now.

So, Uncle Z has some depression issues, and he's generally not a very nice person (part of why the brothers had stopped speaking years before). He's aggressive, mopey, completely unappreciative of anything anyone does for him while simultaneously being pissed when he doesn't feel like his gestures are appreciated enough (which they never are). He's miserable, and expects everyone to make every effort to make his life better. He's had 2 contract jobs since the attempt -- he ruined the first by using copyrighted material in a website that got the merchant sued and is currently ruining the second by being massively over budget and behind on every deadline since the first week. He hates his mother, so at least once a week, RB is playing mediator between the two of them (sometimes I take on the role of calming down the mom while RB takes on Uncle Z -- it's draining). At least once a month, Uncle Z can't handle his mother anymore and comes and stays with us for a week (that's my limit -- I don't care what kind of awful person that makes me, I WILL NOT have that man living with us -- he can be homeless, as far as I'm concerned). When he visits he brings his ornery dog, a rat terrier that loves to growl and snap at Caleb. So he gets to be locked up in his kennel or be outside when they come. Cause, well, this is Caleb's house, and he's not going to be pushed out by any visitors' dog.

The thing that has me worked up right now, though, is that he is now bailing on coming to our crawfish boil this weekend (we're having a crawfish boil this weekend! Woohoo!), because his mother is staying with us Friday to Sunday, and my parents are staying with us Sunday through Tuesday, so we don't have anywhere for him to stay with us. We told him this at least a month ago, and he's got friends in Austin (that are also coming to the boil, so we know they're in town), but rather than calling them and asking if he can crash there, he's now saying we didn't really want him to come, so he's throwing a 40-year-old man tantrum. That's the best way I have to describe it. Every time my family comes to town, I have to make them stay in a hotel, because Uncle Z and my mother-in-law can't figure out how to do that. I refused to do that this time. I gave everyone ample time to figure it out (heck, Houston isn't even that far -- he could drive in Sunday morning and drive back that evening -- it's only 2-2.5 hours!), so I hate being made out to be the bad guy just because he's wanting to be a small child. He comes by this behaviour naturally. Their dad hasn't been in our lives because he doesn't feel that RB really "meant" the invitation to the wedding, so he's been pitching a fit ever since. Has never met his only grandchild, though we've invited him to the Bris and the baptism, and we send him pictures. I guess the apple (Uncle Z) doesn't fall far from the tree (father-in-law).

Oh geez. This was quite the rant. All this to say, it's very tiring, though there's a tiny part of me that's happy I may not have to deal with him this weekend (but only tiny, because he will make us pay for us making him feel "unwelcome"). I know you don't marry a person, you marry their family. And believe me, this family gave me pause. But we will get through this, too. RB is so incredibly patient with his brother. I've been studying the book of James with my women's Bible study group, and I keep being reminded of James 1:2-4:
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
I know we're being readied for a strong-willed teenaged (or earlier) Caleb or some other patience-trying fun. The "completing" process, though, is really no fun and is never complete. I want to get to that not-lacking-anything place, but I'm not sure that I can survive the refining process. And I'm having trouble finding the joy in this trial.