The Vacuum

In a few weeks (possibly sooner) a friend will deliver baby #4. Her second daughter. When Will was born, her second child was nearing his first birthday and she had joked, “race you to 4!” Now she and many others I was pregnant with Will at the same time as have hit and passed 4.

And still we wait. I described it as a “holding pattern.” For a while we weren’t trying actively to get pregnant, but we weren’t trying not to either. Then we started trying. Jeff had hoped that by his landmark birthday this summer, we would be at 4. Not even close. We are officially now considered to have “secondary infertility.” I knew this could happen, I prepared myself mentally as much as I could,  but it still hurts. It hurts when the boys see friends with new babies in their home and ask when they will get a new brother or sister. It hurts when I feel PMDD (for which I cannot take any medication because of my blood clotting disorder and refusal to take anti-depressants) rear it’s ugly head each and every month. It hurts when people ask we are done. Worse when they assume it (“Well, now that you are out of the baby stage for good…”).

Every now and then I get a little reprieve. The dentist tells me the damage from Will’s thumb sucking is minimal and since we are trying to potty train now, not to push him too hard to give up the thumb sucking too quickly.  A last little reminder of the tiny baby he once was. We called him “the little baby” when he was born because we’ve always had trouble calling our kids by their names right away and Joey was still 20 months old. But he grew up so much more quickly than our first two did. He knew he had older siblings, he walked earlier, talked earlier, and initiated potty training on his own. I wasn’t ready for a mature third child. Even less so as time wore on and it appeared he could very well be our last baby.

Four. It was a number we both came from. One that felt comfortable. One we hoped for even when it looked like one might not happen. Now, while I don’t give up hope, I am turning my mind to three. A number we didn’t know if we would get to. A number we are thankful for. There are still difficult days. Sometimes I look at the pile of maternity clothes in my closet and think, I should just stop kidding myself and give them to Goodwill, God’s given us His answer, it was three. Then this nagging feeling crops up that maybe we aren’t done and it’s just God’s way of giving us a short reprieve so we can be better parents the fourth time around. Infertility is a mine-field. Every step you take could potentially be lethal to your happiness or your sense of expectation. I try so hard to focus on what is here and now. On the blessings of our family as it is. To think just one day at a time. But as time passes and families around us continue to expand, it’s hard not to be sucked into the vacuum of knowing it just is unknown and worrying and wondering.


Where Crazy Things Happen in Life…

After spring break, our life was a roller coaster of crazy. Shelby had an appointment for an evaluation at Duke. I started working again. Will had his birthday. I had meetings. Joey had a stomach virus. Shelby graduated kindergarten. Every week it was something.

Then June hit. June and I are not getting along this year. Not at all. While  Shelby finished the school year on a high note, since then there have been many disappointments. The camp we highly anticipated Shelby attending informed us last week that they could not take Shelby the remainder of the summer because her needs were too high (this was a camp designed for kids with autism). At work, our hours have been cut drastically. I was in the ER last week at 3 am with Joey for asthma and crouping. One of my high school English teachers who was also a friend died very unexpectedly. I, and both boys, have summer colds. Will had a stomach virus. And then Shelby had a totally disastrous potty training day that included her biting me. A behavior she has not had since she was fifteen months old. None of these things alone would spell chaos but combined…well, I’m exhausted. Physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted.

But not spiritually. It seems God’s quiet in this storm has kept me going. Yes, my temper has been short. Yes, I have had to give myself time outs, but I have kept going. I applied for a second job while giving my current one an additional day of availability. I doubt highly I will get a call for the second job, but at least I applied in hopes that something additionally better to what I have now is out there. I am trying to piece together some semblance of a schedule for Shelby. Camp had been the plan for the entire summer, so this is no small feat. But I’m still trying to make playdates, etc work. I am trying to look at my cold as an indication I need to slow down a little and get more rest even though life is increasingly hectic.

I am focusing on what is positive, good news about my husband’s job, the fact that I have a job no matter how pathetic the hours because I love the people I work with and my customers and the company, that my friend is hopefully able to meet the Lord in person now, that I have friends who rush to the phone when they hear me question my parenting skills out loud on facebook because of setbacks to make sure that I am okay and ask what they can do to help, that I have a super-supportive community of fellow autism parents who offer to help with playdates and beach trips, and that I am really good at Plants vs Zombies on the iPad. Oh and the Kings won the Stanley Cup.

Amidst all the chaos, the disappointment, the sadness, God has been there. God has focused me on the joy even though I’ve had strong moments of doubt. The answer to many prayers will occur this weekend. The answer to thousands of prayers over the last two years was revealed yesterday. God has done His fair share of telling us “no” and “not yet” over the past couple of weeks, but those “yeses” were big. And the joy we are still seeking is still there, if we look close enough to find it.

“Once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right.” ~Jerry Garcia

A revisit

A while ago I posted this and I have a recent update.

I got this email last week:

As many of you know, we have just had a fourth failed adoption. For those who were not aware, we did not have any luck through private agencies that kept charging us, and well, while we knew it wasn’t a guarantee, we couldn’t afford to keep paying them and not ever get a referral, so we went through DSS. We told them we had no preference for gender, race or age or even disability, we were only looking for a child who needed our love. 

We were placed within a week with a six-month-old baby boy. His mother was crack addicted and we did not know who the father was.  He was with us three blessed weeks before his mother’s sister contested the adoption and got custody.

We waited six long months and two weeks before Christmas were blessed with a beautiful four-year-old little girl. She had some developmental delays but was perfect. Six weeks later, the state decided she should be placed with her biological father who had recently gotten out of prison.

We waited only a week to get an eight-year-old girl and she was gone nearly as fast, claimed by grandparents this time.

Then last month we were placed with a newborn whose teen parents gave him to social services only to have the grandparents step in and convince them it was the wrong decision.

After the first three did not work out, we agreed that if our fourth attempt failed, we would not pursue adoption any longer. As you all know, biological parenthood is out of the question for us as well. We have struggled with this decision, but know it is the right one. We tried to guard our hearts but how do you guard your heart while giving a beautiful child all the love and affection he or she craves so desperately? In the end, it was God’s will that we only be part of these children’s lives for the brief time they were with us. Three were taken from bad situations by the state. One was given up freely. My heart aches for all of the parents, even the ones who made terrible mistakes. We know how it feels to have a child taken.

Some days are better than others. I have days when I am so happy with my life and think of the things I will enjoy that might not have been possible with children. Others are rough. Really rough. There are days when all I see are babies everywhere I go. Or I wake up a little sad and, of course, there is a huge diaper sale at the store and they are right there when you go in. There are days of anger, days when if I get one more email or hear one more story about loss of sleep or breastfeeding problems I fear I might snap. Then there are the days when I look around and think, how could I be so ungrateful? I have friends losing their homes, friends who cannot find work, friends who have not been lucky in love. Why can’t I just be thankful for what I have not want what I cannot? 

Everyday I grieve but I learn new things about this process of living a vocation as just “a wife” not “wife and mother” as I always imagined it. I am just asking for prayers as we navigate this new chapter in life. I am sure there will always be some sorrow but also times of great happiness. Please pray we can, with grace, accept this cross we have been given to bear. 

Thanks, M & M

Please offer prayers for this couple.