To Love a Rose: An Ethiopian Adoption Journal

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Conflicts of Interest

I can't lie, this past week has set me on edge.

Seriously, I have begun to feel that I'm being pulled in a million different directions.  Mostly, this is a good thing; because for a long while I had been feeling as though God had stopped opening doors for me - in my friendships, in my career, in my health, in our desire to become parents, etc. etc.  Now, however, I feel as though there are so many doors opening that I don't know which one to walk through first; and what's worst of all is that I simply cannot walk through them all - that whole time/space/being-in-two-places at once thing hasn't really been worked out by top physicists yet.  Not to mention that I simply do not have a never-ending supply of financial funds at my disposal.

*Le Sigh*

So, I'm being forced to say "no" to some things that I would actually really like to say a resounding "YES" to; and honestly, it really sucks.

First on the list is a competition in my hometown called "Superstars of Singing".  Essentially, there is "round one" which is the audition stage to make it to the top 12 singers.  If chosen, you will prepare 3 songs for the actual competition.  In "round two" (actual competition night) you sing your first song, if the audience likes you enough to vote for you, you move on to the top 5  where you sing your second song.  If you are lucky enough to continue from there, then you will compete in the top 2 where you sing your final song. 

I made it to the top 12!

Fabulous, right?  Wrong.  I can't make it work.  Not only does my mom now have to have TWO operations for her gall-bladder; I myself have to have a biopsy done a mere 4 days before the actual competition.  Did I mention the biopsy's on my cervix?  Yeah, it is.  And, the scariest part of it all is that last year around this exact time I was having my surgery to remove the stage 3-C pre-cancer from my cervix.

That was only one year ago?  I can't help but think and then worry...

What if it's back?  What if it's worse?  If something is wrong, the adoption will be put on hold...AGAIN.  I can't take the pain of it all.  The worry.  Honestly, I am more worried about the adoption than myself.  I just DO NOT want it to be delayed anymore.  I want to move forward for once!  In the back of my mind, I know God is watching out for me; but I'm terribly human...I fail in the worrying too much department all the time.  Ugh!

Making matters worse is the fact that my accompanist only has time for ONE (count it, ONE) rehearsal before the show.  One rehearsal to get THREE songs down?  I don't think so, Tim.

It wouldn't be such a big deal to not do the competition really, but first prize is $1,000.  At any stage of an adoption, extra cash of any amount can always be put to good use.  I would LOVE to have an extra $1,000 lying around to use towards our home study or dossier documents, etc.; but it's not going to happen now.  Now, I won't even get the chance to try for that money - not even second or third prize - any of which would be better than none.

While I'm upset about this, I'm trying to not be too terribly down-trodden.  There is much to keep my mind busy.

M and I are heading to Iowa tomorrow to get everything (that's right...everything) that's left to be done for B's baby shower in October finished.  Are we crazy?  Probably.  But, it's the only real chance we'll have to finish things up before the shower - including the invites; which need to go out by the end of this week - wowza!  We're making nearly everything by hand for this party; so, I know it will be beautiful, but will we have the time to finish?  Ask me on Friday.

As of today, I've officially ended my first full week of training towards the 1/2 marathon in Nashville in April.  I felt pretty good after each of my runs last week, but it's always harder to keep on task with my work-outs when in Iowa; so, we'll see how this goes.

Exercising more has meant that my blood sugar issues have gone from under control to whatthe$#*&*(?!?! in just a few days.  By Thursday, I was feeling so lethargic that I had to find help.  Luckily, I found this site which gives diabetics some really good advice about training for events like this while keeping their sugars level.  While I'm not full-blown diabetic, I do have insulin resistance; and I noticed with the two writers' suggestions of carbo-loading and glucose tabs throughout a run, I was doing and feeling much better.  Guess they were right. ;-)

I also finally started getting the hang of monitoring my blood sugar levels with my meter.  This is a huge feat for me.  Throughout our fertility struggle, I would have to get shots, get my blood drawn, have crazy (and very unpleasant) gynecological procedures done, and have to give myself stomach injections.  For some reason, NONE of this bothers me as much as pricking my finger to get a "good drop of blood" (see, even the phrase makes me feel a bit woozy!) for a test strip. 

But this week, I was determined.  I was GOING to do it, do it right and figure out what the levels mean for my body and life.

And you know what?  It worked.  It really worked!  I was kind of shocked.  I even got over the terror of pricking my finger.  After all, the lancet kits are so swift and make such tiny holes, I really didn't even notice after a while.  So, clap on the back for that one - good job, Mandie!  You can do this, old girl!

In the midst of trying to figure out how Mr. C and I were going to balance mom's two surgeries, my own biopsy, the show (which I thought I was still attempting to do at the time), the baby shower, and our anniversary coming up on the 18th (which we promised ourselves we'd go on a wee trip for) I was notified that BlogHer was hosting a writer's conference in New York City at the Hilton on October 20th and 21st.

ARGH!  Are you kidding me?!?!

What else can I try to jam into this month?

It really sucks, because this conference is going to be amazing.  AMAZING.  Penguin Publishing group is a sort of "sponsor", which is huge; and it also means that they're bringing in the big guns.  As in, tons of publishers, editors, literary agents, and more.  The keynote speakers look really good, and even if I met nobody interested in my book series, I would probably learn how to market myself well to these people in a few months when I have the first book (*hopefully*) done.

I'm still trying to justify the trip.  It would be amazing to go and just soak in all the fabulous information and advice these people are no doubt going to be doling out to everyone there.  I can't decide, but I sincerely want to make it happen.  I've wanted to publish all of these crazy stories in my head since I was a tiny, tiny kid.  The first two things I remember about my life ever are writing a short story and singing.  So, this has been waaaaay up there for quite some time.  I'm still trying to figure out if I can make this work...hoping I can.

Then there's the Beyond Borders International Adoption Conference.  

It's being sponsored by the fabulous Great Wall China Adoption Agency.  If we were still interested in China, this is the ONLY agency we'd even consider.

They, along with their sister agency, Children of All Nations (CAN), always host a fantastic adoption seminar in Austin, Texas for perspective adoptive parents, couples in the process of adopting, or families that have already been brought together by adoption.  I've heard great things about this conference, and Mr. C and I have wanted to go for a long while.  This year, it's October 29-30th.

At the conference, you can earn up to 10 Hague credit hours (classes you must take on adopting and international adoption before you are allowed to adopt and parent a child from over-seas) - this is pretty huge and would take a considerable weight off our shoulders in that department.  Not only that, but we'd be able to pick the brains of those who really count - adoptive parents who have been through what we're about to go through.  I can't think of anyone I'd rather talk to that these people, if they're willing to talk, that is (and I've never met one who wasn't - they're so passionate about their kids).

So, do we go?  Do we not go?  I'm left twiddling my thumbs and trying to decide how to make all of these possibly life-changing trips happen in one, small month when we're starting an adoption right, smack in the middle of them's not looking good.

One fabulous, and totally NOT confusing thing that happened last week was our dinner meeting with Matt and Sarah Watson from Elizabeth's Journey.  You may remember that we decided to officially quit doing fertility treatments due to a conference called Your Journey that we attended back in late May/early June.  Both Dr. S and Dr. L talked us into going to both the adoption and infertility conferences (they were back-to-back nights, a Friday and a Saturday). 

Once we listened to all of the speakers on the adoption night, we just knew we were tired and over our seemingly never-ending struggle with trying to have a biological baby - we were ready to adopt once and for all.

Matt and Sarah were kind enough to meet us in Springfield and eat dinner with us.  While we ate, they really shared so much of their own infertility journey with us as well as their two adoption stories (they have a little girl and boy, both through adoption, and they are just precious!). 

When we were driving up to the restaurant, I told Mr. C that I was fairly certain we were going to come out feeling completely conflicted as to where our interests should lie - international or private domestic adoption?  Which is best?

Matt and Sarah went the private, domestic adoption route for both of their children (after battling through some unpleasant scenarios with Missouri's foster system); and had (obviously) great success.  Mr. C and I had never felt very drawn to domestic adoption, at least not for the moment; but we are getting down to the wire, and we're willing to listen to anything and anyone who might be able to help us become parents.

After a great night of sharing, I was shocked that not only did Mr. C and I, but also Matt and Sarah felt very strongly that we should continue down our original plan path.  I didn't walk out of that restaurant feeling good...I walked out feeling GREAT.  I just know we're making the right decision now.  I just thanked God out loud in the car for the guidance and peace He had just given to both of us - what a precious gift after so many years of uncertainty and confusion!

So, that's where I'm at...trying to wade through a pool conflicting interests.  Trying to decide where to put my priorities - adoption conference or writing conference?  My biopsy or a singing competition with money on the line?  My mom's surgeries or a baby shower?  The list goes on and on...hopefully, it will all work out quickly!

Much Love,

Monday, September 19, 2011

15,000+ views and Lots of Other Stuff!

First, I want to say a huge THANK YOU!!! to all of you who read my blog and have supported me through these often tough and trying times!  I have made it to over 15,000 views (15,136 to be exact); and I'm so very humbled and grateful!

Photo courtesy of
Not only have I been able to share and promote infertility awareness here in my own "space"; but I've also been able to share by being a guest blogger on Hannah Wept, Sarah Laughed and featured blogger on BlogHer.  God has truly blessed me!

Honestly, I was talking to Mr. C about why God hasn't "shown up" for us...not that I don't believe that God's "been there" just that it's easy to wonder why he heals this person or answers that person's prayer(s), but hasn't answered ours for a baby.

It's a difficult question to answer, and I'm sure there would be many people out there ready to jump in with the, "Well, there is no God anyway; and this just proves it - haha!" explanation; but since I haven't lost my faith and still believe God is there for us, how do I cope?  In complete truth, sometimes I don't.  Sometimes I scream and cry and curse - in short, I throw a "big-girl tantrum".  But if I really think it all through I realize that this terrible struggle with infertility has given me back many good things as well.

I know, I know!  "Good things?  Is she NUTS?!"  Well, maybe I am; but I can honestly say that without my battle with infertility I might not have started moving forward in certain aspects of my writing again.

When I was younger, I published poetry, wrote short stories, was a journalist for a real-life newspaper, wrote scripts for my college job, etc.  I wrote all the time.  I was published several times, and all before the age of 24.  I was a good writer.  I felt confident in my skills.  Then, I broke up with my crappy college boyfriend, moved away from Nashville, and started life over trying to be something else...after 5+ years I had started to lose my "muchness", and I certainly had no confidence left in me to write.

As we started down this road of TTC a baby, I needed an outlet for all of my frustrations and pain - a place to lay to rest the emotional wreckage floundering around in my heart and head.  I started blogging.  And while I never thought anything would (or could) come of a tiny, little blog about one, insignificant person's daily struggles, it has become so much more to me. 

From this blog I've been able to write for thousands of people, share my veiw-points, and get my head back in the game of writing.  Since starting this blog, I've finished the first draft of my graphic novel, written poems again, and am in the process of writing book one of my five-part children's adventure book series.  My literary world is opening up again, and for that I am most grateful!

In November, I'll be starting on that children's book series during NaNoWriMo:

I did Script Frenzy to finish my graphic novel script; so, I'm really looking forward to buckling down with everyone in November to finish book one of this series!

Infertility has also made me not want to put off until tomorrow what I can do today or right this minute.  Take our recent hometown concert, if you will.  For so long, we had been putting off performing again due to W's health issues (mainly, her grand mal seizures); but I felt really strongly that we needed to try.  We had to give a show a try - even if it was only once more, ever.  We needed to do this for our own sanity...for our hearts and souls...we needed to prove, just one last time, that we could still do it, even if only for a night.  And we did...

W, M, and myself backstage during intermission for The Beautifully Broken's hometown show.

We had a blast!  It didn't go perfectly - FAR from it (W, had just been in the ER literally a week to the day of the show after having 3 grand mal seizures, after all!); but we're still glad we did it and grateful to all who came out - we sold several hundred tickets and had a flat-out FANTASTIC audience!

Backstage with the band (L-R): Joe, Steve, me, Calista, Jordan, M, and W - we had a blast together!
Some of the artwork M and Mr. C worked on to be projected onto the scrim during the show - they did a great job!
My new sparkley microphone skin - I'm more than a little excited about it!
Long story short, I really enjoyed being on stage again - REALLY enjoyed it.  I sincerely hope it's not the last time, but if it is...well, I had a rollickin' good time!  (I just decided to send in an audition for a singing contest in my way of knowing if I'll make it to the "top 12" that perform on the 8th of October, but if I do, I'll have a chance to win $1,000; which we could REALLY USE right now to help with the adoption...more about that below!)

Being back on stage again made me remember another long-lost love of mine: running.  I used to be a long-distance girl.  I hardly ever got tired - I just loved the feeling of going and going and going.  The constant slap of shoe sole on pavement (or something more natural :), the breeze, being outside, etc. - I loved it!  When we started having trouble TTC, all of our doctors agreed that I shouldn't work out "too much" so as not to risk any potential ovulation or newly formed pregnancy. 

After years of doing indoor cardio and strength training, I decided enough is enough.  I'm getting back into running.  And, feeling a need to have a "goal" to push towards, I am registering for the Nashville Rock 'n Roll Marathon Series.  I'm going to be doing the 1/2 marathon on April 28th of next year, and I'm super stoked!  I've been wanting to do a "running event" for a while now; so, why not NOW?!

Since TTC is over and done with, and we're moving on to adoption again, I feel the need to get as fit and healthy as possible; so, I can be a good mom to whatever child(ren) comes our way. :-)  Which brings me to the last part of this blog tonight...

Yes, the adoption is on!  Since everything is really new, and we're still figuring things out; I don't feel comfortable sharing anything with too many people (Lord knows we how awful we felt having to tell everyone that the Ethiopian adoption was off - ugh! That was terrible!).  I'm hoping that in a few weeks we'll feel more up to being open about it all.  But for now, just know that Mr. C and I and our families are excited for this journey ahead of us. 

And as a little aside, PS: if you would like to pray for us as we gather documents, raise funds, and jump into the emotional roller-coaster that is international adoption (that's your ONLY clue as to what's going on right now, by the way!  haha!) we would LOVE it and be so VERY grateful to you always!  Help us bring this child(ren) HOME!

Okay, back to the, yes, we ARE adopting; and we're excited.  So excited that we finally took last weekend to clean out all of the junk that had been cluttering the nursery for months and months.  It's now clean and bright and ready to be decorated (which, we've already started, can you believe it?!).  Here's what it looks like right now:

You can't really tell, but the walls are a color called "fun yellow" (and it is fun!).  Everything else will be black and white...we've got a lot of cool things already.

We're keeping the nursery gender-neutral, because it will likely be close to the end of the adoption before we know the gender of the baby(ies).  And why, you may be asking yourself, does she keep putting in plurals?  Well, that's because we've decided to ask for twins, if available.  Yes, we might be nuts (as all you MOM's out there would probably insist); but after waiting this long for a baby, we're absolutely thrilled at the idea of having "two for the price of one", so to speak.

BUT, it's all up to God...I know we will get the child(ren) that is perfect for us and our family.  If I have learned anything on this journey, it's that He knows much better than I.

So, yeah...that's about it!  Lots of fun and exciting things happening.  I'm stoked to see what God has in store for us all in the coming's going to be an incredible adventure!


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Head On Over...

to Hannah Wept, Sarah Laughed TODAY to read my post on my struggle with PCOS!  I'm so honored to have been chosen to speak for PCOS Awareness Month.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Guest Blogging and Beyond

First, I need to update everyone on here and say that yesterday, on 18 DPO, Aunt Flo finally decided to show up.  I didn't cramp at all; so, I didn't suspect I was going to start, yet here she is.  Yes, I'm disappointed - as usual - but it's okay.  This was by far the longest luteul phase of my life; so, that's an accomplishment in and of itself.

Next, I need to remind you to head over to Hannah Wept, Sarah Laughed all this week to check out the fabulous guest bloggers that Keiko tapped to write for PCOS Awareness Month.  I will be featured tomorrow (not saying that I'm one of the "fabulous guest bloggers", just saying I'll be featured along with them) talking about my diagnosis, western medicine treatment, and finally my journey down the natural path to control my symptoms and better my life and health.

It's so important to me to share my experience with others who might not even realize they have PCOS.  If what I've been through can save or change just one life, it will have been worth it all.

That's all for today, dear readers.  Have lovely days wherever you are in the world!


Saturday, September 3, 2011


My NEW haircut - shaved on the sides mohawk (I poofed it instead of spiking it in this pic) - I ADORE it!

It's kind of ironic that I recently got a new haircut; because there's LOTS of "new" things in my life right now.

1. I still HAVE NOT STARTED MY PERIOD!  This is 15 DPO - longest luteul phase of my life (well, at least for the past 3 years of charting).  I always start on 14 DPO - always.  But yesterday came and went without even a cramp.

Before you start getting excited for me, I have taken two pregnancy tests (and yes, one was a First Response) - both were negative.  I had very, very light brownish and pinkish spotting on 12 and 13 DPO.  I thought for sure my period was going to show up as usual on 14 DPO, but nothing...........yet. 

I'm not trying to be negative, but I want to be sensible too.  There are a lot of reasons that my period could be late - one very obvious one being the Chinese herbs I was on this cycle.  Maybe they somehow slowed things down?  Who knows?  All I do know is that I got one and only one +OPK this cycle, and Mr. C and I fulfilled our duty; so, we did everything we could to make it work this cycle.  This was also our last cycle of acupuncture before the adoption starts; so, it was kind of our "last ditch effort" cycle.  If it is pregnancy, God has a crazy sense of humor.

My mom recently told me that she was pregnant for two months with me before she got a +HPT.  That gave me a bit more hope.  I had stopped taking my progesterone support thinking I didn't need it after the two -HPT's; but I started again tonight, just in case.

I feel ridiculous getting my hopes up; but then again...maybe...

2. My sister W was in the ER again today.  As many of you know from reading my blog, W's PCOS has caused her to have catamenial epilepsy; which means she has seizures (painful ones too) around her period and ovulation.  We've known since December that this was the case, but she is just now going to be going to a specialist in this area on the 14th of this month.

So, back to today: W had 3 cluster seizures today.  We are exactly ONE WEEK away from our hometown show.  Another tid-bit you probably know from reading here is that I'm in a band (The Beautifully Broken) with my two sisters, M and W.  We've been "on hold" for two years now trying to get W healthy enough to perform again; now, we finally get the balls to do a show, and W has 3 cluster seizures one week to the day to the event.

She's MUCH better after a stint in the ER, but it just sucks that it had to happen at all.  At the end of the day, though, we are not giving up.  We're moving forward, and this show is not only going to happen, it's going to ROCK.  W's so amazing - she has just kept pushing forward.  I am really looking forward to this show; I can't wait to perform again after two years away!

3. I was asked by the fabulous Keiko at Hannah Wept, Sarah Laughed to write a piece for her blog specifically about my experience with PCOS this week since it's September which is PCOS Awareness Month.  So, on Wednesday, make sure you head over to her blog to check it out.  I'm going to be talking about PCOS in general a bit, but also the "natural" or "eastern" medicine way of dealing with your diagnosis.  I hope it will help some people.

I've said it many times before, but I'll say it again.  If you have been diagnosed with PCOS or know someone who has, PLEASE, do yourself a favor and go check out Soul Cysters.  It's amazing and full of incredible resources and community boards with women ready and willing to share their journeys with you.

4. Hives.  I'm still getting them.  Well, I guess that isn't "new"; but it's weird to me that even after a steroid shot that I would be dealing with the itchy, little (or not so little) buggers!  Argh!  They are truly annoying.

Okay........I've GOT to go to bed!  I'll try to remind you all to check out Keiko's blog with my post on Wednesday.  In the meantime, be well and be blessed!

All the Love in the World,