Sunday, October 16, 2016

Week 18: That look.

It was supposed to be a great day. We hadn't seen our little sweet potato since she was 8 weeks old, when she was too small to see anything but an assurance that this was all real. (An assurance that looked more like a kidney bean at the time than a baby). 

The day was FINALLY here for our 18 week sonogram. We'd get to see her moving around and check all of her organs and see her little arms and legs. 

But, then. That look.  

It's the look a doctor gave me and my mom when they told us there wasn't anything more they could do for my dad. 

It's the look the hospice nurse gave us when they told us just to make my Papa comfortable.

It's the look my dad gave me when he told me my Uncle David took his own life. 

And it's the same look my doctor gave when she came into the sonogram room, after the sonogram tech was gone way too long. 

'There's no heartbeat.'

'She's only measuring 15 weeks.'

'You see this tissue here, it's what happens when, I hate to say it, but decay sets in.'

'I'm so, so, sorry.'

All these phrases, these horrific memories, keep bouncing around my head like something I watched in a movie, or something I read in a book that was so vividly written, I got sucked in and lost in it. 

But, how? I followed so many rules. We took the extra prenatal chromosome tests. I had no symptoms of a miscarriage. We made it all the way to nearly 19 weeks. And now? Is it something I did? Is it something I didn't do? 

And now, it's not just her heart that's broken, it's a trail of hearts. My heart. Her daddy's heart. Her grandparents' hearts. 

It just seems so unfair. 

Ironically, just last week, I was having a conversation with a coworker about life not being fair. And what age you come to realize that it's just not sometimes. He's trying to make his kids understand that, and it's tough. (Of course, we were talking about something stupid like overtime or comp days that seems utterly insignificant now, but hey. Two lessons for the price of one.) But it turns out, I'm still learning that tough lesson. 

But, I have quickly learned, as lonely as this feels, we are not alone. Within hours of our loss, I found out some of the people I'm closest to in the world have experienced this same loss. Some of them personally, some of them have parents with these stories, friends, or siblings. I would have never known. Miscarriage is not something people talk about. It took me one Google search to realize that. 

I have always been a big believer in fate and God's master plan. And, what I keep circling back around to, sometimes, there just aren't any answers to the questions you need answers to most. And that's where your reasoning has to let go and your faith has to pick up. 

So that's what I'm doing. I'm letting faith step in. I'm letting myself be sad for a while. I'm leaning on my friends and family and letting them help when they ask if we need help. 

And, most of all, I'm amazed at the power of love. How much love I could have for someone I never even met. How much love I could be blessed with coming from friends and family. 

And most of all, the love I couldn't even fully understand yet when I married my best friend. 

I'm reminded of that love about every five minutes during this grief process. 

I will never forget being in a puddle of tears in my doctor's office, about ten minutes after we got the news, looking at him, wondering how he could even look at me. Asking how he could ever look at me the same again after this? 

Austin looked at me and said, "I'm so in love with you. And we are going to get through this together. And we are only going to come through this stronger. The only outcome is me loving you even more."

It's the kind of love it takes to be the rock when I know he feels like going to pieces along with me. The kind of love it takes to never leave my side through a delivery neither of us ever dreamed we'd have to endure. 

And, now as we piece this broken puzzle back together, it's knowing how much love we will have to give when the time is right again to grow our family. Because we know this is not the end. It's just another new beginning. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Week 18: An adoption story

Getting ready for our sweet baby girl to enter the world has me thinking a lot about my own entrance into this world. Those of you who know me, know that I'm adopted. These are photos of the day my parents met me, at 10 weeks old, after getting 'the call' and driving full steam ahead to Virginia to pick me up. 

My mom says it was love at first sight when I started giggling at my dad who couldn't figure out how to hook me into the car seat. I had them wrapped around my finger from that moment on.

I write this blog post because I've met so many people either thinking about adoption, in the process of trying to adopt, afraid of adopting, or wondering how they should handle the subject with their adopted kids. I never hesitate to tell them my story, which is why I want to share it with you, too. It's something I've always been so proud of, and that's largely because of the way my parents always made me feel. Wanted. Special. An answer to years of prayers. 

Of course, they aren't perfect and their plan back fired a few times. (Like the time in preschool I got a note sent home for upsetting the other kids. As the story goes, they were picking on me because I was adopted and I promptly replied, 'Oh yeah? Well my mom picked me out. Your mom got stuck with you.' I have no idea where I got that sass from... ) But that was me. Being adopted was rarely something I felt made me different in a bad way. It was actually the opposite. 

As early as I can remember, my parents started explaining adoption to me. It wasn't news they dropped on me when I was 18 or a secret they hoped I never discovered. They explained it to me and discussed it in the open from the time I could comprehend, just like you would explain a baby coming into the world.  When I would point to pregnant ladies and say 'baby' my mom would explain yes, that's where babies come from. But, that I didn't grow in mommy's tummy. I grew in her heart. Later, they would explain it all in more detail, but it made perfect sense to me at the time. And, come to think of it, it still does. 

As I got a little older, in Sunday school, I learned about the story of Moses. My mom said, 'Yes! Moses was adopted just like you, and he was so loved. He grew up to be a great leader who helped set his people free.' 

Of course, my dad's take on explaining adoption was different. When I asked my dad if they found me in a reed basket like Moses, without skipping a beat, he said, 'No. It was wicker.' (I miss his wit. So quick. Remind me to tell you the story about hatching watermelons some time.)

Birthdays were the best! My parents could throw a mean party! Check out this carousel cake my mom made one year.

And this was my Grease themed birthday party! Poodle skirts and glass bottle cokes...

And the celebrations's birthday #21

Okay, I got carried away on memory lane. But, the point is, birthdays are for parties and cake and friends and family, but I have another day that comes around every November 15th just for me and my parents to celebrate, and that is my Adoption Day! We would always go out to dinner and I would get a small present, and it was just our little day. In fact, not an adoption day goes by that my mom still doesn't mail me a gift and a card. 

If you're going to adopt, take my advice. Make adoption something to celebrate!

Any kid is going to have questions. And my parents always tried to be honest and tell me as much as they knew about my biological parents. (Like the time I was certain I had a twin out there somewhere. My parents assured me if I was a twin, they would have adopted us both. But, I still watched Parent Trap on repeat. I'm still not quite satisfied with that answer.)

My parents always told me, when I turned 18, if I wanted to go through the process of trying to track down my biological parents, they would do anything they could to help. That always meant a lot to me. But, as I got older and gave it more thought, I realized, I already know who my parents are. And, I've never had anything but complete gratitude to the teenage girl who made the very adult decision to give me a better life. 

But, don't get me wrong. This isn't supposed to make adoptive parenting sound like some cake walk on a rainbow. Even parents who are as 'good' with the whole adoption thing as mine are going to have hiccups and missteps along the way. And 27 or so years later, we can finally laugh at those hiccups. 

When I was four, my parents had a brilliant idea to let me pick out a dog to adopt. It would be so great! I'd get to adopt a pet and bring it home, love it, and in turn, I would learn about adoption. 

Well, alas, kids have minds of their own and even the best laid plans can sometimes go awry. 

So, we get to the dog pound, (the scariest, saddest place on earth, might I add). After trying to take all of the dogs home, I pick out this little black and white fluff of a puppy who would not stop licking me. Bailey. 

We are inseparable. So, my parents think, great! Mission accomplished. 

Then, they notice I'm really quiet on the way home. And, I continue to be quiet for a while (and this should come as no surprise to many of you, even as a child, I was rarely quiet...) So they knew something was up. Finally, my mom was able to weasel out of me why I was being so quiet. With a death grip on Bailey and tears in my eyes, I asked her if they picked me out from the pound.

Luckily, she had some pictures squirreled away of me at the foster home where I stayed for 10 weeks. I was loved, cuddled, had a crib, and I was called Kristy. NOTHING like the scary pound. 

But, that's a kid for you. It doesn't matter what you plan or how good your intentions, sometimes, things are going to get bumpy. And sometimes, the questions will be tough. But, if you are considering adopting, don't let that scare you. Because guess what? It's going to get bumpy whether you fall in love with a picture of a sonogram and a kick to your rib cage or a picture of a baby taken from three states away who one day will giggle their way right out of their car seat into your heart. ​