Friday, April 17, 2015

Stones

I wasn't blogging back in 2005 when I woke up in the middle of the night in excruciating agony. I had to use the bathroom WITH DESPERATION but nothing would happen. My back felt like someone was stabbing me with a knife and I was convinced that ALL THE DYING WAS HAPPENING. My husband put me in the car and drove 40 minutes to the hospital. I made him pull over so I could throw up on the side of the freeway. I threw up again in the Emergency Room. We were going through fertility treatment and I couldn't have a CT done to confirm the diagnosis of kidney stones.

"What else could it be?"

"It's kidney stones."

"Or..."

"Kidney stooones!" (Bonus points to the first person who correctly identifies what I'm quoting.)

A little over a year later, my son was born and while, sure, there was an epidural involved, I'd give birth gladly over kidney stones. I mean that with my whole heart. Labor & Delivery + epidural = better than having a kidney stone. I vowed never to have one again.

This morning I woke up at 5:28 and I had to USE THE BATHROOM SOMETHING FIERCE. I went without any problem and then wondered why my back was hurting. It was aching pretty high up and I thought maybe I'd slept funny or twisted it somehow. I climbed back into bed and tried to get comfortable. I wasn't in unbearable pain and I wondered if I should make an appointment to see my doctor once I dropped the boys off at school.

Over the next few minutes the pain worsened and I started to wonder what organs were up that high and what might be wrong. Additionally, I was now feeling pain in my lower right abdomen. I couldn't decide if the pain was radiating from my front to my back or my back to my front. I felt like I was running a fever. Appendicitis? I wondered.

A few moments later I realized that there was a sharp, stabbing pain in the lower part of my back that felt exactly like that blasted kidney stone from a decade ago. My phone rang at 5:53. It was an automated call from the district wanting to know if I could teach today. I hung up. It was not looking likely. Troy, awake now because of the phone, tossed onto his side.

"I might need you to take me the ER," I whispered.

I am unsure of whether I have a low pain tolerance or what because I have a friend who just walks around and goes to work with kidney stones. You guys, when I have a kidney stone, I cannot stand up straight. I vomit or dry heave every few minutes. I shake violently. I contemplate death. IT IS TERRIBLE.

We dropped the kids off at our friend's house and she got them off to school. I miserably endured the (blessed) 20 minute drive to the hospital (which was so much better than ten years ago). I made my husband pull over on the side of the road so I could heave into the rocks while cars flew past.

When we got to the hospital, it was all I could do to hold myself together and not howl in pain as I waited for them to pump my veins full of narcotics.

When the nurse asked me what my pain level was, I asked her to define a 10. "Passed out from pain," she said.

"Well then, not that," I replied, just barely holding on to my very last thread of sarcastic humor.

"A nine is crying out in pain," she explained.

"I'm an eight, then." I assumed eight to mean that I wanted to be crying out in pain but was somehow keeping the moans suppressed. The doctor came in and told me what they were going to give me for the pain. He could have told me that they were going to inject elephant feces directly into my bloodstream and then cover me with leeches while performing a jig on my bed and I would not have cared as long as it made my pain subside.

Both times I've had kidney stones, I have been incredibly sick to my stomach. Any motion at all makes it ten times worse. I can't walk more than a few steps and riding in the car is just terrible. This morning, I had a heck of a time getting in to the gown because it involved moving. I finally managed and within about fifteen minutes I had the narcotics in my system and my pain level had moved from an eight to about a four. You can fall asleep with a four. You can also fall asleep with a high percentage of drugs in your system. Turns out, in fact, that the latter makes it nearly impossible to stay awake.

Kind of. Every time I fell asleep my monitor beeped. It was set to alarm us all if my heart rate dropped below 45. It was holding steady around 46 but every time I fell asleep it dropped. The monitor beeped. I woke up.

Listen. I looked like total crap and I did not care AT ALL. I was retching in front of a nurse like it was no big thing. I didn't even close the door! I was a mess. But I managed to take pride in the fact that my resting heart rate was in the 40's and my blood pressure was within normal even though just moments before I'd felt like I was going to up and die and was practicing labor breathing JUST TO SURVIVE.

A CT scan (because I am definitely not pregnant) verified that I had a kidney stone which had already made its way down the tiny little walkway between my kidney and my bladder. It was sitting just at the entrance to my bladder. The doctor said it could be hours or it could be days. I also, apparently, had a fever, a high white blood cell count, and bacteria in my urine. They're culturing that to find out if something else is wrong or if my body went nuts because of all the pain and a tiny little intruder.

They sent me home with a prescription for DRUGS! and instructions to come back if it got worse. While the apparent wimp in me screams, "Don't worry!" the part of me that pays the bills yells, "It'll have to be over my dead body." Because I'm certain that what they did today was more than $1,000. Our insurance doesn't kick in until we hit our deductible so, that's not great.

Right now though, I don't hurt...much.

I haven't passed my little mortal enemy yet but I am currently hurting only a little. Praise God!!!

I have decided to drink nonstop for the rest of my life to avoid these things because, apparently, I am incapable of just waiting them out. I cannot go to work in the kind of pain I was in. I can barely speak. I alternate between wanting to writhe around in pain and wanting to throw up. I demand narcotics.

So my message to all of you is DRINK LIKE THE WATER IS GOING TO DRY UP AND BE GONE TOMORROW. Kidney stones are the worst.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

At the End of the Day

This poor little corner of the Internet is, well, neglected. Sometimes I pop on and realize, "Oh my! It's been five days since I've said a word." I'm sure that I care infinitely more about this than you do. There are reasons, though.

There's the fact that Garrett is playing actual baseball this year as opposed to the introduction to baseball which involved everyone in the outfield running to the ball if it was put into play even though it didn't matter because everyone could only take one base. He was learning, yes. But it was mind numbing. Now they are actually trying to learn positioning and such and he has practice on Mondays and games on Tuesday or Wednesday or Thursday and sometimes a combination of those days. He also has scouts on Monday night. The boys go to Kids' Club and I lead Bible study on Wednesday nights. Plus I try to substitute teach from time to time.

So we're busy.

When I'm not busy helping Matthew advance to an almost second grade reading level, quizzing Garrett on multiplication facts, or preparing Bible study lessons, I've been doing something else.

I asked Facebook (which, as we all know is the VERY PLACE YOU SHOULD TAKE ALL OF LIFE'S MOST IMPORTANT QUESTIONS) if it would read a book if I wrote one. I shook Facebook like a Magic 8 ball and most of it declared, "YES!" and some of it said, "Reply hazy, try again." But no one said no. I'm no idiot. I know that people were thinking, "I'd rather have teeth extracted without the benefit of novocaine," but since no one came right out and said it, I decided to press forward.

If I ever manage to actually finish (which, at 25 pages, is not looking likely. I've written papers with minimal research that are longer than that.)  it will NEVER be published. It's like a famous person's memoir except with the without the added bonus of actually being about a famous person. It's quite fine that it will NEVER be published (or, likely, finished) because I'm doing it for the kids.

It's their story. And how the Lord has moved me from Point A to Point B and so on and so forth. I imagine that, eventually, there will be a Point Z and, by then, it's likely that I'll be in the loony bin and I won't remember all the miracles that were orchestrated to bring me Garrett, Matthew and Kate. So, I'm writing it all down now. For the boys.

Because I want them all to know, when I'm long gone or, at the very least, long gone crazy, how very wanted they all were. I want them to be able to look through the pages and say, "Mama loves us fierce." (They don't call me Mama so we'd have to start that up first, but still.) I want them to say, "She loves Jesus because He is Lord of all. She loves Dad because he is a gentle man and a good man. And she loves us and wanted us for as long as she can remember. And, at the end of the day, nothing else really matters to her."

So I'm writing. With terrible grammar and sentences that start with conjunctions. And fragments. And run-on sentences. That's what I've been up to. I am writing. It just doesn't happen to be here very often.

Monday, April 13, 2015

My Crying 8 Year Old

I went to get coffee (which stands for tea or hot chocolate) with my friend a couple weeks ago. She started telling me about how her almost nine-year-old was crying over EVERY. LITTLE. THING. Her words were that he was acting like a toddler. I'm so glad Garrett doesn't do that, I thought to myself.

NEVER THINK THAT.

If someone is lamenting a behavior in her child, just assume that your kid is next.

Not a week later, we started noticing that Garrett was bursting into tears over the smallest of things. If we ask him to help, if we tell him no about something, if we throw a curve ball into his plans, he cries.

What's the deal?

Is there a well known phase where eight year old boys lose their ever-loving minds and start behaving like they once did...SIX YEARS AGO?

If it is a phase, I really hope it's short lived.


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

I Lost Matthew

Troy and Garrett were gone and Matthew and I were getting ready to meet them. Matthew had been, quite literally, rolling his head around in the dirt (don't ask) and needed to take a shower. He hopped in, soaped up, rinsed off, hopped out, and got dressed. We still had about a half hour before we needed to leave. I was upstairs and, when I didn't hear him talking to himself and/or the dog and/or the cat and/or inanimate objects, I assumed he'd gone back outside and was hoping his explorations would not include once again rolling his head around in the dirt.

Matthew can entertain himself with just sticks and his own imagination for hours at a time so, when the half hour was up, I didn't think anything of the fact that I hadn't heard from him. I assumed he was creating grand stories in the backyard or that he was on his bike. He knows his boundaries and he's very good at letting me know if he's going to go to a friend's house (both of our next door neighbors also have kindergartners). I grabbed my purse and headed down the stairs.

In my attempt to locate the six-year-old, I first opened the back door and hollered into the yard, "Matthew?" There was no answer. I opened the door leading into the garage and called out, "Matthew?" Nothing. I scanned the garage. His bike, scooter and skateboard were all right there where they belonged. I walked through the garage and surveyed the front yard. He wasn't in sight.

"MATTHEW!" I yelled from the edge of the garage. "MATTHEW? WHERE ARE YOU?" I heard nothing in response. It was cold out and our neighborhood was dead silent. Just across the street is a short little lane that bends sideways and ends in a cul-de-sac. The boys often ride bikes around the circle. I knew he didn't have his bike but I thought I'd check anyway to be sure he wasn't on some adventure down the little road. I walked until I could see all of it. He wasn't there.

Anxiety began to rise in my chest. How long has he been gone? About thirty minutes. I answered myself. Thirty minutes is a long time. If someone drove by and snatched him, they could be halfway to Provo by now. Calm down. What if I never see my son again? I'm very dramatic. I also react very calmly to situations but often immediately overreact on the inside.

I stopped at the neighbor's. I rang the doorbell. Dogs barked but no one came to the door. It didn't look like the neighbors on the other side were home either. I screamed Matthew's name several times. Nothing. The world was silent and the six-year-old was gone.

Is he hiding from me? Is he missing? How long should I wait to call the police. His kidnapper is inching closer to Provo or Wendover or Park City or Ogden. THE KIDNAPPER COULD BE HEADED IN A MYRIAD OF DIRECTIONS. Canada. Mexico. I don't know...

I decided to check to make sure he wasn't hiding in the house, laughing hysterically at our little game. I headed back through the garage and, as I passed the van I wondered if he was inside, snickering at me while I ran around the neighborhood, screaming his name and trying not to panic. I quickly threw the sliding van door open.

There, buckled safely into his seat, was my dear, sweet second born. He was sound asleep. I exhaled long. His head was bent to the side, supported by the seat belt. His body was limp and a slight snore escaped between his lips. I closed the van door and started the car. It wasn't until I'd backed down the driveway that he stirred. His eyes flew open and he looked around as if confused by his moving surroundings.

"You scared me," I said.

He blinked.

"I couldn't find you. I was yelling your name."

He stared at me in the rear view mirror. "Did you get in the van after you got dressed?" I asked.

"Yes. I was tired. I closed my eyes. I think I took a nice, little nap."

"I almost called the cops," I told him.

His eyes widened. "WHY?"

"Because I couldn't find you."

I have no idea how, on earth, he slept through my shrill shrieks--at least a dozen of them--ringing out through the neighborhood. In the future, before I assume that his kidnapper is on his way to Mexico, I'm going to check the van. Apparently, it's a nice place for an early evening slumber.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

A Piece of My Heart

My friend and I went to "coffee" this morning. It's just the universal term for, "Let's grab a beverage and gab." We both had hot chocolate. I don't know her well. Her family attended our church for awhile, then they moved to Massachusetts and then they moved back just a couple months ago. They left with one son and returned with an addition. Their daughter was born several months ago (and is CUTE AS A STINKIN' BUTTON). 

One of the reasons that she wanted to meet with me today was to give me this necklace.
I hope I'm not over stepping my bounds when I tell you that, during part of our conversation, she said she often reads my blog at night, when she's massively exhausted and dealing with a baby that is up for whatever reason. It impacts her in a certain way because she's got a baby in her arms and she said it helps her remember not to complain.

I've said it before and I'll say it again because I'm not ashamed. When both of my babies were screaming like banshees in the night and I was SO TIRED from all the NOT SLEEP, I thought I might sell them to the highest bidder. Of course, daylight would come and I remembered that I wouldn't give them away for all the money in the world. My point is that I have kids. I know what those long nights are like. I remember thinking my eyelids were going to fuse shut forever because they hurt so badly. I get complaining about those sleepless nights. Or the colic. Or the reflux. Or whatever ails your baby. I am NOT judging you (ANY OF YOU) for the list of things that make motherhood hard. Because I get it. And I see you and the sacrifices you're making for your children.

But I really do hope that, if I'm blessed with the chance to do the baby stage again, I remember all this at 1:00 am when I'm just exhausted. I hope it makes me a more patient mother. I hope I get to stare into a crying face and remember that I didn't get to do it with Kate. I hope it makes me better. 

Tiffany, thank you for the beautiful gift. It's perfect.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

I'm Great, How Are You?

I was in a classroom and a student asked me how many kids I have. I paused. Too long. As if counting. As if I didn't know. Finally, I stammered, "Um. I have two." Gaining speed, my sentences toppled on top of each other. "My son, Garrett, is in 2nd grade. My son, Matthew, is in kindergarten." My daughter, Kate, is in Heaven.

I don't really talk about it a lot. I can sense when people are just plumb ready for me to move from, "I'm doing okay," to, "I'm great, how are you?" And I oblige. I pick up on the fact that people would prefer if my Facebook posts returned to, "Today Garrett announced that since finding out how babies are made, he has absolutely no plans to ever get married." Instead of, "My arms ache in the absence of my child." So I try. I go through the motions until the motions feel normal.

But then, Easter.

Last week I was putting together the boys' baskets and it suddenly hit me. By all earthly assumptions, I'm supposed to have a three week old. Of course, the Father always knew that the heavenly realms would welcome her before she saw the light of one of our days, but if...

If she hadn't died, she'd be here. She'd be in my arms and she'd be small and there would be an Easter basket for her. There would have been tiny diapers and a small Easter dress. Instead, there is an empty room.

Garrett says he'd be having so much fun right now. He'd hold her and help with her and love her.

Matthew says he wants to go to Heaven so he can visit her.

Troy buys an Easter lily and dedicates it to Kate.

I cry silently in the safety of these walls. I stare at two baskets and I am so thankful that they are here but, still, I wish that there were three. I want to visit her grave and I cannot because it's miles and states away. I smile and tell people I'm great.

Sometimes it's the truth.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Indeed

Our annual church Egg Hunt was this morning and, at the event, a boy looked at me with big, chocolate eyes and said, "You guys have church tomorrow?" I enthusiastically replied, "Yeah, we do. It's at 10:00!" His eyes darted down to examine the harvest of candy he'd just hunted and gathered. "That's sad that you have to go to church on Easter."

I exhaled an inner sigh.

"I don't think it's sad at all," I answered. "Jesus is the whole reason for Easter." He quieted for a moment as if pondering this statement. Then, he grabbed a particularly good piece of candy, jumped up and yelled, "MOM! Look what I got."

In this culture, this one that blurs springtime and bunnies with resurrection, it's easy to see how a child raised without Christ would be confused. What I wanted to do was take that child and lead him to a quiet place. I wanted to open the Word and show him.

He was beaten.

He was bloodied.

He was tortured.

He was mocked.

He was killed.

He was hauled down off the cross and buried before nightfall so that those who'd called for His murder could adhere to the laws of the Sabbath.

And then He CAME BACK TO LIFE.

It is not a sad thing that I will be at church tomorrow. Neither is it something that I have to do. It is, simply, that all that I am hinges on the resurrection. Everything I believe is rubbish without a risen Savior.

Hell has no victory. Its power is crushed by the heel of my Lord.

He is risen...

He is risen, indeed.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Atoning Sacrifice

Passover.

A day when the Hebrew people put sacrificial animal blood on the sides and the tops of their door frames. A day when the blood would be a sign and the LORD would pass over, sparing the firstborn. No destructive plague would touch them. A day to commemorate for generations to come. A lasting ordinance. A celebration.

And so it was.

Jesus celebrated. Year after year after year He observed the holiday, knowing that His blood would be spilled on the cross. The true sacrificial lamb. The atonement for sin.

Knowing He would be betrayed before the night was over, knowing He had only moments left, the humble King washed His disciples feet. Filthy from dust and grime, He took the feet that had walked miles of ministry with Him and He washed them. He handled the sole of the Betrayer, scrubbing dirt from foot, knowing the heart was covered with deceit.

He ate. Did His food taste of betrayal and denial?

He reclined. Was His rest filled with sadness over their dispute for greatness?

He got up and went to the garden to pray. Did He reflect that this was not the celebration of years past?

His disciples slept, unaware of the weight of what was to come. Jesus prayed. In sorrow and agony He asked for the cup to be taken from Him. "Yet not as I will, but as you will." Fully God. Fully man. Submitted to the Father.

The final moments would tumble, one on top of the other. The calm of the meal and the quietness of the garden would stand in stark contrast to the night that followed. Betrayal. Arrest. Denial. The Sanhedrin. Herod. Pilate. Beating. Mocking. Crucifixion.

This is what my God endured for me.

Perfection willingly embraced the torment of the most gruesome death. The sinless bore the weight of my darkness. He shed His blood--the atoning sacrifice. All of eternity past and future hinged on this moment. Perfection died on the cross. Redemptive, sacrificial lamb. Hallelujah.

"...He himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed." 1 Peter 2:24

"For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven. And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach--" Colossians 1:19-22

"He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross." Colossians 2:13b-15

Friday, March 27, 2015

Tiqvah

In Hebrew it is tiqvah. 

It means expectation. It means hope.

A book came in the mail. It is Kate's life in 20 pages. Ultrasounds and flowers and grave markers. A whole little life closed between the hard covers of an 8x8 photo book. We grieve her loss. Grieve it deep. I cannot hear a newborn cry without my eyes welling up with tears. I miss her. Always.

But I hope that God has more for us. Tiqvah.

I've had to smash expectations. I think we're too old to wait forever. I think my kids should only be so far apart. My family always had kids young. I don't know what it looks like to have them old. My God hasn't said any of that to me. 

He has reminded me that, often times, our plan is the very pillar that crumbles under His will. This heart's desire I have for another one, it echos through all of us under this roof. Always on our minds. We want it desperate. 

I'd taken down the link to our Adopt Together page. I didn't know how to process any of my feelings in those first weeks. Confusion and pain. I was raw and helpless. The idea of trying again, of hoping again was too vast for exploration.

But now. With each passing day, I find myself wishing another love to be part of His plan. I have let down the guard. My heart is open, for better or worse. It is a hard thing, to trust that even if it bleeds again, it will be alright. My husband's heart is wide. Our boys talk to God every night and ask that it might be so. This is what we all desire. Down deep in the marrow of the soul.

I put the link up again. We gave a great deal, financially, to experience the joy of our first daughter. To embark on this again is foolish in the eyes of the world. We have nothing to give. But the One we answer to is greater than the world. I know that I said it all before but our expectation grows with each passing day. Will you pray with me? Will you ask the Lord to bring a miracle to us? Will you ask Him to change our hearts radical if this isn't His perfect plan? Will you pray for it all? 

Will you tiqvah on our behalf?

Monday, March 23, 2015

Her Mundane Faithfulness Was Anything But...

I was late to the party. I didn't even know who Kara Tippetts was until a few months ago. In all honesty, I didn't even start reading her blog with wild abandon once I knew that she was a 38 year old pastor's wife with four kids and terminal cancer. See, I read about her and then my daughter died. My world spun around in this weird and seemingly foreign universe and I wanted to simultaneously get off and hold on for dear life.

Living is disjointed. Hoping for the future and what God might have for us. Mourning the past and the loss of our girl. It's complicated. Some days I feel like any smile anyone sees is completely fake and I'll never be happy again. Some days I know that losing Kate does not define me and I am so thankful for what I do have and so completely overwhelmed by the joy I find in God's goodness. Some days I wonder why my pregnant friends aren't texting me their belly pictures and sometimes I wonder why people won't stop talking about babies in front of me. Thankfully, always, I recognize my own fickle grief and I understand that the only one being unfair is me. In all my own sadness, though, I nearly forgot about Kara.

And then, suddenly, two weeks ago, she crashed into my mind and I wondered if she'd gone to be the Lord. I sprinted over to her blog and found that she was still alive. I watched the trailer for her documentary and I wept. Something I've done entirely too much of in the past nine weeks.

 

At 2:43. That's the moment in this trailer that rips out my heart, throws it on the ground, jumps on it and makes me deeply grieve a woman I have never met in my life. "I don't want you to go," her eight year old son says to her.

How that must have seized her heart. How that must have hurt so badly. As mothers, we don't want anything to hurt our children. More than anything, watching my own children grieve the loss of their unborn sister has wrecked me because I cannot fix it for them. I can only imagine, with pain and horror, what it would be like to know I was dying and listen as my child told me that he didn't want me to go, knowing I had no say in the matter.

My son is eight.

Yesterday, Kara Tippetts went to be with the Lord. No one that she let into her life through her blog and her books should be sad for Kara. I believe that she is praising her Savior. She is free of pain. But her pastor husband and their four children, her parents, her siblings, and her friends and congregation, are deeply grieving the loss of a remarkable human being.

There is always someone hurting worse than we are. Those children--the ones who woke up this morning without their mommy--need our prayers. I simply cannot imagine their pain. I will pull my own children close to me and praise God that I can wrap them in my arms. Kara is rejoicing with her Savior, but I'm sure her children would give anything to feel her arms around them just one more time.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Surprise in the Lunch Room

I suppose it started with an email informing me that Sonic shakes were half off today, in honor of St. Patrick's Day. When I was a kid, St. Patrick's Day included wearing green--or paying the pinching price if you didn't. That was it. Today, Matthew asked me why I lied to him and told him leprechauns were real.

Um. I have never once said that leprechauns were real. I told him as much but he insisted that it was me. Whatev kid, I barely know when St. Patrick's Day is sneaking up on the calendar. I have no time to make up more fictional characters. The end. He's lucky I remembered to set out green clothes for him today.

But these days, the holiday is all about trapping leprechauns and finding gold and ALL MANNER OF MAMA AIN'T GOT NOT TIME FOR THIS. Thankfully, my own children have not actually requested any leprechaun shenanigans. I threw some green food coloring into Matthew's macaroni and cheese today and he was all kinds of happy. God bless my children. Still, to help us all celebrate random and obscure holidays, certain establishments offer deals.

I'm above pretending to be a leprechaun. I am not above taking advantage of a deal. Especially when the deal happens to come on the heels of two VERY good report cards. I saw that email and I decided that I'd head over to Sonic, get shakes, and take one to Garrett at school.

Is it all Sonics that run at the speed of a lethargic, stoned, turtle or is it just the one in my neck of the woods? Once, on Christmas Eve, we waited for almost a half hour in the drive thru line after church. I didn't go to Sonic for a very long time after that. Anyway. I almost missed Garrett's narrow lunch window because of all the slow. Matthew chose a horrible sounding coconut cream pie shake and half of it is still in the refrigerator. I'm not surprised. I tasted it. Poor kid.

I selected a strawberry cheesecake for myself and an Oreo caramel for my oldest boy. The Oreo one was overflowing so I swallowed some of it down so keep my car from becoming a sticky disaster. It was DELICIOUS. Go get yourself an Oreo Caramel shake right now. I'll wait.

Mine was tasty but not as tasty and I considered switching them because Garrett would never know. Instead, I decided to take them both in and let him choose. I walked in to the cafeteria. His eyes got wide when he saw me carrying a rather enormous shake. "Hey," I said casually, "you can choose which one of these you want."

"Are you volunteering?" he asked me.

"No. I'm just bringing you a shake."

"YOU ARE SO LUCKY!" from one second grader.

"OH MY GOSH...LUCKKKKKYYYYY!" said another.

"THAT IS THE BIGGEST DESSERT EVER!" from still another. The kids at the table crowded him as though they could somehow taste it if they got closer. He sipped the Oreo shake. He sipped the strawberry cheesecake. He immediately pointed to the Oreo one. (I TOLD YOU! WHY ARE YOU STILL SITTING THERE? WHY HAVEN'T YOU GONE TO SONIC YET?)

I kissed his head. Then, I turned and walked out. As I exited, I heard him yell, "THANK YOU!"

I'm not always the cool mom. In fact, on St. Patrick's Day, I'm usually pretty lame. But today, I won some major points with my second grader.

I love being a mom.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Hope and a Future

The days between finding out that Kate had gone to be with Jesus and holding her in my arms for the only time were filled with what I can only describe as anguish. My skin hurt. It was as though everything on the inside was pushing against my frame, desperate to force its way outside. I felt like, maybe, I could cry hard enough that the pain would eventually seep out through my eyes. When I held her, I ached and I prayed and I wept for everything I had dreamed she'd one day be. Somewhere, though, in the middle of all that desperation, I felt the presence of the Lord.

It is alright to grieve and hope.

In that room, where there were two bodies but only one soul, I talked to my God. I began to feel that, just maybe, that wasn't the end of our road. Perhaps, there was more in store for our family. I prayed and I cried and I wondered if all the miracles surrounding Kate being brought into our lives were preparation for something still to come. I almost felt like Kate was telling me that she knew she was fiercely loved and achingly grieved and that she wanted me to hold on to hope. Now I don't actually believe that my lifeless infant was speaking to me, but, with her in my arms and a new hope in my heart, peace washed over me. Tears dried. I felt almost joyful as I considered that there might be more.

I was afraid to speak it aloud, though. Afraid that my husband wasn't ready to hear that I thought there might still be another child for our family. Eventually, we talked about it. A lot. We prayed about it. We shared our feelings and our confusion with one another.

At one point, my mom asked if I would want to try to have another child if I'd delivered Kate myself. I told her I would have wanted to get pregnant again the moment the doctor gave me the green light. I'd also made a list of pros and cons back when we were trying to decide whether to adopt Kate. Even after we were all in, I still had miniature panic attacks thinking about the cost of diapers and formula and college. I was worried and wondered if I could be enough for all three of them. About a week after we lost Kate, I asked myself if I thought I would, eventually, feel relief that I didn't have to start all over again. "No," I responded. "I will never be relieved that I do not have her. I will miss her for the rest of my life." These two responses made me realize that, as for me, I want nothing more than to parent another child.

Troy feels the same way.

We have sought the Lord's will. We have no idea if His plan includes another child for our family or not, but we realized that we would be trying to limit Him if we pulled our name. By staying listed, God can open doors if He chooses to or He can keep them closed if He wants to. By pulling our names, we'd be saying, "We can't do this. This is scary. We don't want to hurt again. We're afraid." After considerable prayer, we felt that removing our profile would be akin to putting God into a box.

Over these many weeks, we have had numerous individuals ask us if want to adopt again. We've also had dozens of people tell us, unsolicited, that they believe God has more in store for our family. I do not believe these people are prophets, but it has helped validate our decision. We may be done. God may have for us these two beautiful boys and our daughter in heaven. I also know that He might have more. Believe me when I say that I was completely content with the size of my family until He brought Kate to me. Now I long for nothing more than a living, breathing baby in my arms. I trust His plan and know that, in time, He will reveal it to us. I believe that it is the best plan, regardless of whether or not it lines up with the current desire of my heart.

Please join us in praying for our family. Our boys pray daily that God would bring them another baby. They begged us to stay listed with our facilitator. Troy and I long for another child. If it is not the Lord's will for us to adopt again, please pray that He would reveal that to us and that He will change our hearts.

If, however, it is His will for us to add another child to our family, please pray for all the details surrounding that situation.

Please know that we continue to grieve the loss of Kate in ways we never imagined. We miss her and we long for her. But we also have great hope for the future. Thank you for grieving with us and for sharing in our great expectation.

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Financial Situation: Nearly $14,000 of your donated funds is being used on our behalf to match us with a birth mother and baby. It was a one time fee and is available to us until a successful match is made. So rest assured that your donations are still being used to help bring a child into our home. This means that our financial obligation is limited to legal fees (estimated to be about $7,000) and potential birth mother living expenses/medical expenses depending on the situation.

God miraculously provided so much of Kate's adoption expenses and burial fees. We believe that the Lord will again provide should we be matched. We certainly do not expect anyone to donate but we do still have our page at Adopt Together.  Donations are tax deductible. If we feel the Lord leading us to remove our names prior to a successful match, we will guarantee that any money we pull from Adopt Together (using valid adoption related receipts) will be donated to another adoptive family or adoption related work.

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Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you hope and a future."

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Impressions

Years ago, we stayed with my friend, Ashby, at her parents house in the Portland area. Her mom and dad generously opened their home to my family--a band of strangers they'd never met. Well, they had probably met me at some point during the time I spent with their daughter in college, but I'm sure they didn't remember me. They'd certainly never met my family. Still, they threw open their doors and let us crash for the night on our way from Eugene to Boise.

Ashby, Troy and I stayed up late that night, eating popcorn and watching Best Of SNL episodes. At some point, we experienced Amy Poehler sort of impersonating Christopher Walken in a sketch in which the two of them sounded almost identical. We laughed and laughed and played it over and over again. The particularly funny part, for some reason, came when Amy Poehler said that ghosts were spooky and that she did not like spooky behavior.

The more we watched it, the funnier it became. I laughed until tears were rolling down my face.


My son, is really good at taking acting directions--when he wants to be. He can cry over absolutely nothing and he's hilarious. He can do whatever he puts his mind to and, if he put his mind to acting or stand up, I have no doubt he could make a name for himself. I showed him the above clip a couple of times and then he did this.

It's certainly not a spot on impersonation of Amy Poehler doing a Christopher Walken impression, but I think it's pretty decent--for a barely six-year-old.
video

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Due Date

Today is Kate's due date.

For many weeks, I'd been feeling better and moving forward under the assumption that grief is linear and progressive, each moment less painful than the one before. I was wrong. This week has wrecked me.

She should be here now. In my arms. Squirming and cooing and not sleeping and being tiny. She is not.

I realized, very early in the week, that I was angry. This was jarring because, honestly, I'd pretty much skipped that step of grief. I wasn't lying when I said that I was finding joy in all of this. I didn't fabricate my emotions when I told others that I wanted God to be glorified in our loss. There was no manipulation of facts when I said that I trusted Him. I was devastated, yes. Mad? No. So it was weird to realize that at several points in the day I had conscious thoughts about throwing whatever was in my hand through the nearest window.

I was even more confused because there was no object of my wrath. I wasn't angry at God. He gives and takes away. Blessed be His name. I wasn't mad at a person. I really stopped and let myself wonder if I might be angry at Kate. I've known a lot of people who feel desperately mad at the dead. But Kate was completely innocent, untainted by life, small and fragile and I simply cannot be upset with her for being unable to survive.

I realized, finally, that I'm not mad at a tangible thing. I'm mad because I'm not happy.

I'm not talking about joy. Joy is found in my Savior and in Him alone and that has gone nowhere. But happiness is a different thing altogether. In October, my family was content. We had no idea that we could be more. For goodness sake, I made a list of pros and cons to help me decide whether or not to move forward with this adoption. We were done with babies.

Then we decided that we weren't. The list of pros grew and the list of cons was full of stupid things. Like the price of diapers. And college. We moved forward. We were all so very excited, so very much in love, and so very ready for this little life to join ours. We didn't look for her. She was dropped, miraculously, into our hearts.

Then she was gone.

Now, a piece of me will be missing forever. Deep down, I'm mad because I'm sad. I'm sad because she's gone. I don't want to wait for eternity to see her.

And missing her is just a part of living.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Upon Waking

When I wake up, I have the same thought. It might be 2:11 am and I just have to use to the bathroom. Or maybe it's 6:19 and the heater cycled on and woke me. Typically, it's 7:00 and the alarm is sounding. If I'm really lucky, it's more than once in any given night of sleep. Whenever I feel myself moving into the land of the living, the same two words descend on me like new revelation.

Kate's dead.

I'm sorry. I know it's morbid. It's short and to the point. It's like Hemingway wrote the words. Hawthorne or Austen or Steinbeck would have it playing out with painted prose that last for three pages at least. Their words would linger on the horizon of my mind for several minutes and I'd eventually realize that in all this verbosity they were defining something no longer living. Yes, they'd discuss death but in a way that made me feel alive with hope. I didn't get the descriptive words of these authors. I got Hemingway. Sparse. Quick. To the point.

Kate's dead.

I'm reminded over and over by a mind that won't let me forget. Not for a single minute. I can distract myself. I can get out of bed. I can get the boys to school or myself to work. I can make meals and clean house. But no amount of distraction can erase those two words. Every time I wake up. And dead is an ugly word to those still living. It's a shocking word to think in the very moment I shake the cobwebs. Second only to her name, which always comes first. Kate

It's really as though I live a lifetime in the brief pause between the two. Kate. In that name there is all the anticipation, the tea parties and the shopping sprees, the giggles and the magic I'd created in my own dreams. A moment later, the fantasy crashes down because dead follows. Every morning. Instantly, I feel a heaviness. Another day closer to her due date. But she isn't coming. 

My blessings are not lost on me. I could fill my own loquacious novels with pages and pages of the blood, sweat and tears shed before (and after) those two beautiful boys called me mama. I mean it. Literally. I gave so much blood to Kaiser Permanente in the name of infertility treatment that it's a small miracle I didn't need some sort of transfusion. I was sweating as I leaned over the couch waiting for my husband to plunge an hCG trigger shot into my hip and I was sweating as we waited for the results of a paternity test. Matthew's. Not Garrett's. Just for clarification. Then there was all the crying. Tears that turned to streams that ran to rivers that poured into oceans. I begged and pleaded with God and He gave me these two incredible little humans. When I count my blessings, they, along with their father, are at the very top. Still, it is hard. To have held the dream of one more and sobbed as it slipped between fingers.

There is a boy in Garrett's class. His sister is in Matthew's. Their mama had a baby last week. Both boys came to me, separately, with news of this little life. Matthew stared up at me with his deep, dark chocolate eyes. They filled with tears and he cried out, "I'm very jealous." His lip quivered and he said, "She gets her baby and I don't get to have my baby."

We talked to both boys about how it's definitely fine to be devastated over our own loss but that we still rejoice in the new life God gives to others. It's a difficult concept for the fallen natures of little men. If I'm being honest, it's a difficult concept for the fallen nature of their mother. We do rejoice. I have held babies in the many weeks since January and it has brought me great joy. I have thought about my unborn niece or nephew every single day and thanked God for the little miracle growing inside my sister-in-law. I look forward, with great anticipation to the day I get to hold that baby. I have congratulated friends on the births of their babies and meant it, completely. 

But we are also human. I have held my sons as they cry and told them that God has a plan. It is infinitely better than anything we could come up with on our own. We have to trust Him. We are His and this is not our home. This place--this temporary lodging--has the ability to take our hearts, rip them out, stomp on them, batter and bruise them, and then stick them back inside. They beat funny after that. Still, somehow, in working order, but with an ache. Sometimes dull, sometimes sharp, sometimes intermittent and sometimes constant. Only our Creator can mend the mess that grief leaves in its wake. Only He can find cause for joy in our humanity.

I dread waking. Kate's dead. It is like being buried under the weight of the world. In that moment, all that might have been floods my mind. 

I know.

Yes, she is.

I remember.

I've audibly said all these and more to myself. Tomorrow, though, I think I may choose a different response. I may confront that Hemingway style of economic prose with a little Steinbeck-like of my own.

A yellow line of brilliant light quietly shone through the open window just behind her. It was, somehow, as if God Himself had entered the now sacred space. He whispered, "Kate is not dead, anymore. She is just not with you. And those are two very different things, indeed."