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." 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Why I Cried In Sprouts

Some days I'm acing all the I'm okay, you're okay, we're okay.

Other days there's a newborn in Sprouts with that newborn wail and the mama is just trying to get her shopping done and doesn't pick the infant up.

On those days, I think about my newborn. The one who should be getting here any time. But she's not. Because she died. And I hear that infant as it cries for a solid fifteen minutes straight and my mind is flooded with the fact that we bought onesies and diapers and we set up a crib and we were so blasted excited. So right there, smack in the middle of the grocery store, I just start to cry. My eyes drip and there's no controlling it and I look like a fool. And it's all because there's this spot in my heart that just hurts like nothing has ever hurt before.

And, you guys, I hate the sleepless nights. I really do. I've told many a person that I'm at my parenting worst when it's the middle of the night and that one week old is screaming again. Somehow, that doesn't change the fact that right now, in this very moment, I'd give ANYTHING to be losing sleep.

Most of the time, I'm just doing pretty well with pretending that there isn't a lump in my throat and a deep, bloody wound where my heart used to be.

But leave it to that newborn cry to shake all the tears loose.

Monday, March 2, 2015

To My Boy on His Sixth Birthday

Dear Matthew,

It seems like I start every letter the same. I can't believe you're... One. Two. Three. Four. Five. But now this. Now six. That's just so old. It's halfway to twelve. A decade to driving. A third of the way to being an adult. Impossible because you were just a tiny little baby. You were just giggling and sucking on your toes. Just learning to toddle on unstable feet.

Now you're running and jumping and kicking the soccer ball into the goal and tackling people and doing headstands. You are so athletic and physically fit. You can easily pick your brother up off the ground which means that you're capable of carrying around your own body weight because, at the moment, you only weigh about six pounds less than him. But you're capable of lifting much more than that because you've been known to wrap your arms around my legs and hoist me up off the ground. It's terribly dangerous because the center of gravity is way off and I usually go pitching straight into a wall, terrified that I'm going to crush you. So while I don't endorse this activity, it's been known to occur which means that you're probably the strongest six-year-old on the planet.

On your fifth birthday, you were the exact same height that your brother was on his fifth birthday. But, now you are over an inch taller than your brother was on his sixth birthday. So, it seems that you have the potential to tower over everyone in this family. If your extremely long tibias and fibulas have anything to say about it, you're going to be tall. You have to grow into those bones at some point, right?

You're reading level F books which is a full year ahead of where you need to be. You're so competitive about it and the fact that there is one other person in your class who is also on level F keeps you motivated. You can memorize like crazy. You know the Apostle's Creed, the books of the Old Testament (and you're on your way to knowing the New Testament books, too!), and entire movie scripts. With your quick mind, stunning good looks and ability to cry crocodile tears at the snap of a finger, I have no earthly idea why Hollywood hasn't picked up the phone and called us already.

We joke all the time that our family is a hilarious reality show just waiting to happen. You, Matthew, would clearly be the star and the rest of us would just be around as supporting characters. You are so hysterical. Some of the things you say leave us cracking up for days. Cameras could just follow you around for an hour or two and easily get enough footage to make for a half hour of solid television.

Another reality show pitch is Matt v. Food. Son, I have no idea how I'm going to keep you fed next year. Forget about the teenage years. Just thinking of them makes me break out in hives. I'm pretty sure we should open a separate savings account so that, in seven years, I have enough cash saved to keep you fed. In December, we went to Hodad's in San Diego. You devoured a gigantic burger and a plate full of onion rings. You demolished it like it was your last meal. You'll eat anything and everything with the exception of avocados and, on occasion, peas. You are always hungry. But, lucky for your health, your first choices are usually apples, bananas and carrots.

You love watching Ninja Turtles and Scooby-Doo. If these aren't on, you'll request things like Tom & Jerry and Garfield. You don't particularly care for newer (far more stupid) cartoons and, for that, I am very grateful. Over the summer, you caught reruns of The A-Team. Currently, you are sporting a frohawk and saying, "I pity the fool," to anyone who will listen. In keeping with this old television theme, you also love Bonanza which means you love to pretend you're part of the wild west. To this end, toy guns are among your most favorite of toys.

You are, hands down, the sweetest brother I've ever met. If Garrett is going to lose a privilege, you beg us on his behalf. If he can't go somewhere or do something, you don't want to either. If he's in trouble and sent to his bed, you'll climb on yours and wait out the punishment. If you earn a prize at school, you pick something your brother will like and you give it to him. For your birthday, you received two dum-dum lollipops from school. Lollipops are your favorite kind of candy and still you asked me if you could eat one and give the other one to Garrett. I told you that they were your suckers and you could do what you wanted to with them. You placed one of them on Garrett's seat in the car so that he would find it at the end of his school day. Usually, if he cries, you cry. It's an incredible thing to watch you love your brother.

It was also incredible to watch you love your sister. Though she was born straight into the arms of Jesus and never got to breathe our air or walk on our dirt, you loved her fierce. You were so excited about being a big brother, so thrilled to be able to pick out clothes for her, so pleased to tear a paper off our countdown chain, and so devastated to lose her. Your loud, mournful sobs were only further proof that you already loved her like you love Garrett. Big, authentic, all in.

You continue to be obsessed with costumes. For your birthday you requested a new Spiderman costume and a new Power Rangers costume. When you get home from school, you immediately hop into a costume. At dinnertime, we have to ask you to take them off so you don't spill and ruin them. Aside from Spidey and the Blue Power Ranger, you like to dress up as a cop and an army man. Often, you wear one of these four costumes while playing with the dog in the backyard and singing (at the top of your lungs), "We believe in God the Father. We believe in Jesus Christ. We believe in the Holy Spirit..." for all the neighbors to hear.

You do believe those things. You've shared Jesus with your friends and you've made a YouTube video telling others about what He did for you. You know that He's gone to prepare a place for you and you talk about meeting Him in Heaven one day. I'm so proud of your faith and that you're unashamed and bold. I hope you never lose that joy.

Matthew, we are so thankful that we get to call you our son. We're so in love with you and so grateful to God and your mama for choosing us. We know that we are just a small portion of the story of what makes you who you are and we are blessed to get to experience life with you. We do not forget the sacrifice that was made that allows us the great privilege of raising you.

I love you so much.

Love,
Mom