To Love a Rose: An Ethiopian Adoption Journal

Friday, October 19, 2012

Best Anniversary Gift EVER!

Photo courtesy of

Today was our 4th anniversary.  That would have been enough to make us gloriously happy, but we got the BEST anniversary gift EVER:


That's right, folks, we're parents!

I can't share a lot of information until our little one's acceptance paperwork is filed (should be next week), but suffice it to say we are wonderfully, amazingly, and deliriously HAPPY.  It was the most incredible moment to open that Internet file and SEE our child's face!

We are so in love with this little one, and can't wait to be able to share more in the near future.  I think it took me a good 3 hours to stop shaking and tearing up every five seconds.  It was so heart-warming to call all of our family members and close friends and shout, "WE'RE PARENTS!"  To be able to finally give such wonderful news to these people who have been supporting us for so long...well, it felt surreal.

The most touching thing for me was to see the out-pouring of love and well-wishes from our friends on Facebook.  Many of these dear friends and family members are now scattered all across the country and world.  We don't get to see each other often, but to know how much they love and support our baby just overwhelmed me with emotion.  I can't wait to share with them how vast the sea of love embracing them was/is.  We are all so truly blessed.

Next time I post, I will *hopefully* be posting pictures of the sweetest little face I've ever seen.  Prepare your hearts for an extreme case of the swoons.

Feeling so, SO blessed right now...we absolutely had the best anniversary EVER!

All the Love in the Universe,

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The (forever?) Empty Womb

Photo courtesy of TheMidnightOrange.

*First, I think I need to preface this post by stating loudly that I'm not angry or upset or bitter or jealous of other women's pregnancies.  I'M REALLY NOT!  In fact, when I hear of other women becoming pregnant after long, arduous, heart-wrenching battles with IF, I am actually cheering right along with them.  So, PLEASE, don't get all righteous telling me how I should be glad for others or how I sound bitter...I am glad for others...I'm actually not bitter.  Everything I'm writing about today is really just observation and a healthy dose of realization on my part...about what my future might really (not) hold.*

The past few months have been fraught with pregnancy and birth announcements - many people I know IRL, some I've only ever known via the Internet.  Some are those of fellow cysters or those battling some other form of IF; several have been "regular" folks who just got knocked up the "old fashioned way".  But today, I found out that pretty much the last girl I had known to be battling IF is now pregnant via donor eggs and IVF.

For some reason it all really hit me:

I am the LAST one left standing.  I am the last "barren woman"...I am a statistic.

I remember sitting in our new RE's office way back in 2010 with Mr. C, god, we were so naive and optimistic - so gloriously optimistic!  Doctor was laying everything out about my recent diagnosis of PCOS.  While he explained all that would be most likely needed to get me pregnant, he noted that we shouldn't worry; because only about 5% of women with PCOS don't end up getting pregnant when medical intervention is applied.

GREAT!  We thought.  We'll be pregnant in no time, then!

Wow, gloriously optimistic, indeed.

Fast forward through all of the meds, procedures, and IUI's; and it looks like we are that 5% that don't ever succeed.  True, we never dove into IVF; but at that point, the money had run out, and it was either adoption (= guarantee) or IVF (= no guarantee).  We went with adoption (which doesn't mean it isn't difficult and fraught with disappointment...only that in the END, there will be a baby).

Sometimes it blows my mind that this didn't work out for us.  Sometimes I cry.  Sometimes I'm super angry and feel like screaming or throwing a pregnant lady off a cliff (okay, not REALLY).  Sometimes I get into a depressed funk that lasts for days.  Sometimes the thought comes and then flits away quickly as if I never really cared about it at all.  Strange.

Now that I'm so far removed from the "trying" (and "failing") stages, I can say that more than anything I wonder a lot about what I'm "missing out on".  And then, I have to think, "What if it truly never happens - EVER?"  What if I die, and I never conceived or gave birth?  What does that mean?  How will it affect me, my life, my family, my marriage?  Does it even matter?  What's God's will?  Or is it all just on me, did I not try hard enough to make this happen?

Knowing what I know now about all the weird, crazy, seemingly random steps God took to protect my sister and my mom from their health issues, it makes me wonder if infertility is a way of protecting me and Mr. C too.  Would we have a terrible miscarriage?  Do I have a malformation like my sister that would also most likely burst if I ever got pregnant that I just don't know about?  Would our child inherit some crazy cancer gene and have to fight for his/her life like my mom?  Would they have epilepsy and get hurt like Mr. C or my sister?  The questions abound, but at the end of the day the reality is - "who knows?"  We could  conceive and have a perfectly healthy pregnancy and child.  OR, something could go terribly wrong.  But, aren't these things every  parent-to-be has to consider?  So, really, am I just trying to make myself feel better over the fact that we FAILED to conceive?

Possibly.  Very probably, actually.

When I was in college, I took an English class entitled "Rooms, Tombs, and Wombs in Women's Literature".  Although there were many themes that ran through this class' coursework, the undercurrent was always the same - all of these things are meant to be filled in one way or another.  And in regards to women, the womb is the most powerful container of all.  Within its confines, the spark of life itself bursts into being; it is truly the most incredible act of creation a woman can participate in.

But what does that mean for a woman like me?  What if I never get to "create" in that way?  Am I in some way deficient?  Do I miss out on touching the universe on some higher plane?

In my heart, I want to believe that these questions are silly; but then again, are they?  I can't be the only infertile woman wondering these things...

I don't have any answers to these multitudinous quandaries...perhaps I never will, and probably there is a life lesson even in that realization as well.  All  I know is that my womb is has never been "full", I have never felt life bursting at the seams within me (our miscarriages were too early for me to even realize I was truly pregnant, let alone feel anything)...and there is a very great possibility that I never will.  I wish I knew how I felt about that prospect, but at the moment I just don't know yet.

Is anyone else out there contemplating the reality of a (possibly) forever empty womb?  How do you cope with this reality?  Does it bother you or do you rarely think of it?

Just thoughts...I hope I can expound upon this at a later time...these have been fairly rambling thoughts, but I think all of these questions are weighty and deserve real and honest contemplation.

Love Love Love,

Monday, October 15, 2012

Pictures from the Cancer Battlefield, Part 17: Almost There

I found this while reading in mom's hospital room one day...very fitting and a good reminder for those days when you feel like your battle is too great.  Your Abba dreamed up the very cosmos...nothing is too great for Him.

Many people have been asking when mom will be going home for good.  The answer is VERY SOON.  The estimate is early November, but there are few things left to be done to wrap up her lengthy stay in Zion.

First, she has two more interthecals (where they shoot the chemo straight into the spinal cord) to do.  She has already done two the past couple of weeks.  A lot of people don't understand why she has to keep doing interthecals when she already did so many during her 8 rounds of chemo pre-transplant.

Well, the idea is that with a nasty diagnosis like Philadelphia positive, adult ALL, recurrence could be high; HOWEVER, they (whoever "they" are) have discovered that after 8 rounds of "A" and "B" chemo (including interthecals each "B" side), a stem cell transplant, and 4 rounds of extra interthecals, the chances of recurrence reduce to something like 1%.  PRETTY DARN AMAZING.  So, while mom was not overjoyed to have to do these last four interthecals; she liked the odds in her favor if she agreed to them, so of course she did.

Even though mom has been out-patient for a couple of weeks, she has still had to go in to stem cell clinic every day for CBC (complete blood counts), fluids, potassium, magnesium, and even some blood products a couple of times.  It's quite common to need these things after stem cell transplant.  When she gets home to Iowa, the plan is to have an organization come in daily to the house to help her with physical therapy (PT), clean, cook a bit, and do her CBC's and med support from the comfort of her recliner.  It will be so nice to be HOME at last!

She continues to do fairly well with her PT - going from not being able to walk at all to being able to walk fairly well with the aid of a walker but still needing some help getting up and down from sitting positions.  This will continue to get better and better, and she will keep up her PT when she goes home to Iowa for an entire year, per doctor's orders.

Her kidneys are functioning at around 40%; which is great considering she had complete kidney failure in July.  Everyone is amazed at how much they have improved and continue to improve.  We are believing for total restoration of kidney function.  I know if God can save her from everything else that He has, He can restore her kidneys entirely too.  But, the good news is they are functioning well enough that she will never need dialysis again - praise God!  Now, we just have to get her to DRINK MORE water during the day; so her creatinine levels will stay down in the normal range!

A few days ago mom had another bone marrow biopsy...I remember last November when they couldn't even get a good sample of her bone marrow, because it was so incredibly riddled with leukemia cells.  Now, it's clean as a whistle; not one trace of cancer resides there.  How amazing is that?!  Her spinal fluid came back completely negative as well.  God is so good to heal!

The next day, I had a biopsy of my own...remember the stage 3C, cervical pre-cancer I had back in 2010?  Well, yeah, it's STILL gone - woo hoo!  I've been pre-cancer free for almost TWO WHOLE YEARS!  I'm so blessed!

Meanwhile, Mr. C and I are glad to have this month off and be back in Branson (home!).  We have used this time to *nearly* finish Baby C's nursery, clean the house, sleep a LOT, take walks, be with our doggy who has stayed with Mr. C's mom and step-dad this whole time, and see people/go places we haven't laid eyes on in months and months.  It's been glorious!

Towards the end of this month, we will head back to Chicago/Zion to help move mom and everyone from the apartment in Waukegan back to my parents' house in Iowa.  As glad as I will be to have this awful/amazing journey over with, it's going to be so incredibly strange to leave the CTCA.  We've made so many friends, and it's really become the norm for Mr. C and I to be there every day.  I can't imagine what it will be like to be "done" with it all.  At the same time, I'm delighted.  It's time.  We're all weary and exhausted of hospital rooms and hospital food and protocols and doctors and just all of it.  It's so hard to just "go back to real life"; but then again, that's the point of all of this, isn't it?  To get healthy so you can go back to living your "real life".  So hard to remember that when you're caught up in the midst of the every day fight.

I know we will all forever be grateful to the doctors, nurses, PCT's, radiologists, assistants, culinary staff, janitorial staff, pastoral care, care managers, and so many, many more at the CTCA who made us feel welcome, comfortable, and like family along this journey.  And to all those fighting along side us in the trenches - the other patients and family members - we will never forget you and are now friends for life.  There is an unbreakable bond connecting those who have suffered so much together, and I know we are truly "family".

Mom and Pastor Toi from religious care.  She is a blessing  - always so positive and full of God's word!

Though this hasn't been the most fun journey that we've been on the past year, it's been a journey I will never take for granted.  My mother has been healed and we have been shown the power and might of our Abba God - some people never get to see that in their whole lifetimes and only wonder if He is great and faithful and compassionate.  We were shown all those things and more.  BLESSED.

I look forward to the day when I can shout that mom will be going HOME to Iowa for good.  It's very soon, my friends...we're *almost* there!


Saturday, October 6, 2012

I'm in love with a boy in the world

*We received notice that the answer is "no".  We do not get to parent "L".  We're both pretty heart-broken and are back to waiting for a referral from the Korea program.  It has been 17 long months since we started this process...we are aching to know who our child is.*

Photo courtesy of The Berry

It's true...I have fallen for a waiting child.  I think I'm in love with this little dude.

And while most people would be giddy with delight over finding a kiddo they connect with...I'm worried.  Worried we'll get denied, turned away - and one day soon I'll see a big "I have a family!" posted happily across his sweet photo-listing picture; and I'll have a hole in my heart.

What's the big deal?  Well, this little guy is in the China program; and we have been approved for Korea.  Would it be a big, giant pain-in-the-butt to switch programs?  Kinda.  China is a Hague country, while Korea is not.  It's a whole different set pile of paperwork and a whole new bag of rules.  Then, there's the fact that this sweet boy has some issues that would need surgery.  I know our insurance company will cover any child we adopt; but with recent changes to our policy I'm not sure how far they'd go for a pre-existing condition, and his treatments *could be* costly.  I think everything would be okay, but in truth, I don't know.  So, we've got a lot of praying to do and a lot of questions to ask to more than one person.  I'm hoping we'll learn more on Monday from our agency and our social worker.

In all honesty, I never thought I'd connect to a waiting child.  This probably sounds terrible, but the children on the waiting child photo-listing are the ones who are usually older and have more demanding special needs.  Looking through the sea of faces in the past, I always felt over-whelmed and nearly felt like hyperventilating when reading through the kiddos' medical files.  But when I found little "L", I didn't feel that way at all.  In fact, I burst into tears for no reason whatsoever.  He just looked so precious, I couldn't help but feel an instant connection.

I have no clue what the future holds.  In all reality, we are probably not eligible to adopt this boy; which is really going to break my heart in half.  Even though he's not what I thought I "wanted" - special needs kiddo, already 2 years old, in the China program - I am truly drawn to him, and Mr. C is too.

If you find the time, please pray for God to guide this whole situation for us and "L".  If the answer is "no"; I just want him to find the best family EVER and SOON.  Also, I really need hope that we will get a referral from Korea soon; and that I'll feel the same "zing" I feel just looking at "L".

Trust me, I'm the first to realize how foolhardy this is - so much of our journey toward adoption is done and now this could throw everything for a loop.  It's not the wisest, and I can't explain it; but I can't stop staring at this little boy.  I'm just giving it over to God; I have to keep trusting that He does, indeed, have a perfect plan.