Monthly Archives: May 2018

writing

So I had a list of all the things I was going to catch up on and write about when I took a break waiting to gain more storage.  But I re-read that list and there wasn’t much on there that actually seemed important now.  So I crushed it in my hands and tossed it in the trash.  So with no prompts or lists of topics I am just going to write.

For a long time writing has been therapeutic for me.  I have so many documents in word and drafts in my e mails where I just free write to get things out of my head.  It is so funny to go back and read some of the things I have written and seeing where I was at that time in my life.  Then sometimes reading the things that I have written just takes me back to places I don’t really want to be again.

Over the past several years infertility has been my demon.  It is something that consumes a lot of my time and thoughts.  The what if’s roll though my head.  The why plays over and over in my mind and heart.  The insecurities are crystal clear in the writing.  The blame I placed/place on myself and God are there.  The frustration creeps back in.

Let me be very clear that while I am living and breathing infertility and it consumes so much of my life – it does not consume everything.  I have moments, days, weeks, and months even that I exist with this label and don’t bat an eye.  That I push it to the back of my mind the best I can and enjoy life without worrying what happens next, without feeling like I have to be an advocate, without feeling like I have to explain why we have no children or defend why we haven’t been chosen with the adoption, without feeling like everyone that glances at me has a look of pity for me.  Where the past and the future don’t taunt me.  So while infertility is my demon – I still have some freedom to hide from it.  But that is all I can really do is hide.  Eventually it finds me.  Eventually it allows those thoughts to flood back in and I become that infertile girl again, and she warps into this monster.

As I read back through and think about where I have been and where I am, I realize I am caught between despising who infertility has made me and being proud.  With Mother’s Day approaching I swing closer to the despising side.  I think about the years I have missed out on that holiday and how each year is breaks my heart a little more.  Yes I celebrate my mother and other women that have “mothered me” but with each year that passes my time feels further and further out of reach for me to actually get to be on the receiving end of Mother’s Day.  It hurts.  It makes me mad.  It frustrates me.  I hide on that day because I worry that the monster that infertility has created will do something or say something stupid or offensive to someone.  That my bitterness will be more evident and that I will hurt feelings and people will make me feel guilty because I don’t have a child, that make me feel selfish because I can’t just “get over it and be happy.”  In years past I avoid church and will this year as well.  Sad but oh so true.  I can’t do it.  I avoid facebook and other social media.  I do my best to avoid going out to eat.  I attempt not to communicate with people in public because strangers tell women “Happy Mother’s Day” even if you don’t have a child with you.  And sometimes people that know you don’t have a child will speak that phrase to you and makes you wonder why?  Why in the world would you say that to me knowing the road that I have traveled.  And those three words when spoken or texted to me cuts straight through my soul.  I don’t deserve them.  I am not worthy and those words are wasted on me.  I despise that part of me.  The part that hides from the world – that allows the bitterness to creep in and fears that I will forever be 1 in 8 and never get to experience what motherhood is.

So this year as we get closer to Mother’s Day I find myself surrounded by emotionally bad days, the monster that comes with those days breathes bitterness and disdain and hopelessness.  Not with everything in my life, but with everything infertility related.  That monster has crawled into my head and heart and set up a tent, built a little camp fire, sitting all smug in a chair roasting marshmallows.

 

8 days

**I wrote this in the days following Addy’s funeral, but until now didn’t feel like posting**

addy’s life was short.

there is no way around this subject.  her life was short.  8 days to be exact.

while you may not agree with the next several thoughts, you have to allow me to believe them because i do.  we don’t have to agree, but we can respect each other.

when addy was born the odds were not in her favor.  she was 12 weeks early, she had the PDA, she developed the infection, and she had the massive brain bleed.  if she only had any one of those things (instead of them all), this story may have played out differently – but we will never know and playing the what if game is pointless.  with all of those complications we believe there is mercy in her passing.  we obviously didn’t want that to happen and we wanted the outcome to be different, but we were constantly reminded that we are not in control.  death is some times the most compassionate thing that can happen to a person, and we believe that to be the case in this situation.

even though the birth mother changed her mind hours before addy’s death she wanted us to be at the funeral.  we got an e mail from our caseworker with the arrangements.  we knew we wanted to go to support the mother and her family, we wanted the agency to know that we really did care, and while addy was alive i spent a lot of time with her and wanted to say goodbye.  so for us we knew that we would go.  we wouldn’t attend the grave side service, but we would go to the funeral home.  since the birth mother hadn’t told a lot of people that she was giving the baby up for adoption we didn’t want to go to the grave side service where people talk to the people around them afterwards.  we didn’t want to just say we were “friends” because we didn’t want the follow up questions.  the safest thing to protect the mother and the best thing for us was to just go to the funeral service at the funeral home.  when we got there we signed in and found a seat.  shortly after we sat down the pregnancy counselor came over to us and we stood up and hugged her.  she slipped something in my hand and told me that the mother wanted us to have it.  it was a tiny knit hat that belonged to addy, they also gave us a card signed by the people that worked at the agency.  i gave her a card and a flash drive of the photos that i had taken of addy to give to the mother.  we spoke with our caseworker and gave her a hug.  a few minutes before the service started the birth mother came over and gave me a huge hug and the dad came over and shook our hands.

i don’t love funerals – besides the obvious that someone is dead, but because i don’t feel like funerals capture a persons life.  i have been to a few funerals that have made me feel closer to the deceased, but most of the time i feel like funerals paint a picture that isn’t an accurate image of that person or their life, or that they are so far off on who that person was to the people they have left behind.  i will say that this funeral was no different.  it was painful.  i mean no disrespect for addy, her family, or the preacher that performed the funeral, but it was the worst funeral i have ever been to.

to begin with, it was a funeral for an 8 day old baby.  it doesn’t matter that we were connected through the adoption process and that she was so close to being ours, it would have been horrible even if that wasn’t the case.  it honestly felt like a pre-memorial service for pat summit (she was eulogized more than addy was).  i liked coach pat as much as the next person, but the tiny little body up there wasn’t pat summitt, it was addy.  the other thing that stuck out to me so much as being terrible was that in talking about pat summitt the preacher continued to say that millions will remember pat, but no one will remember addy.  that her life meant nothing.  she was insignificant.

maybe we misunderstood the point of what the preacher was saying, but we both would have misunderstood the same way, because we were both very upset when we left the funeral.  during the funeral andy’s hand would grip mine a little tighter and i returned the gesture each time something didn’t sit right (at one point in time it was just a continuous squeeze).  we couldn’t  believe some of the things we heard, and granted at a time like this it is hard to know what to say, but I feel like other things could have been said.  i silently prayed that the preacher would step aside and ask if anyone wanted to come to the front and say a few words – because i would have gone.  i thought about the fact that most people didn’t know of the adoption plan and thought “i don’t care, addy deserves better than this.”  he never left the podium, and never gave me a chance to speak. so allow me to say what i feel like should have been said in the first place.

one thing that the preacher did say was this: “how do you eulogize 8 days?”  that is how he started his sermon and that grabbed me, so i will keep that.

how do you eulogize 8 days of life?

you shouldn’t have to.  it isn’t fair and it is hard for us to understand why things happened the way that they did.  we can sit here everyday and say it was all part of God’s timing, but that implies that God was ok that her life was cut short.  or the implication can be made that he planned on her life to be short for a “greater good” or to “teach” someone a lesson.  i have a hard time believing that some people are born to die to show other people something because that would imply that their life is expendable – that God doesn’t value their life as much as other lives.  i don’t believe that we are God’s pawns that he just kicks us off the chessboard whenever he feels like it.  i just don’t believe that.  i understand from a physical stand point why addy died.  i know that she was early and that she was very sick.  i understand that her chance of survival was slim with all of the complications – so her death wasn’t a complete shock to us.  what i don’t understand is the spiritual side.  i don’t know why we were chosen to be part of her 8 days.  my heart tells me that there is a reason, but i can’t figure it out – and possibly i will never know the reason – and i have come to believe that this is ok.

addy came into this world with a dramatic flair – butt first; however, that first breath of life was her own.  she was a 13.75 inch long, 2 pound 10 ounce miracle.  for weeks before her birth she was our miracle.  her short life was full of tubes, medicines, tests, needle sticks, glow lights, beeps, and monitors.  her cry was never louder than a kitten’s meow. she never found her voice and we will never know the depth of it.  she never got to sleep in a real bed, only knowing the warmth of the incubator.  she will never know the silence on a starry night gazing at the moon, she only knew the beeps, constant noise, and bright lights of the nicu.  despite never holding her, and never being able to be that close to her, i was able to pick up on her scent.  the “new baby smell” that everyone talks about.  when i left the hospital after she was born to go to the hotel, i fell asleep with my hands next to my face drinking the smell in.  the smell that i associated with dreams coming true, hope, and our miracle. the smell that a few days later, triggered the tears to fall as i leaned my head against the incubator praying that the doctors were wrong.

it is hard to imagine what kind of person she would have been.  in her short life you could catch glimpses of characteristics of who she might have been.  when she was uncomfortable or in pain she put her hands to her face covering her eyes.  when she was completely relaxed she would hold her ear or put her hands above her head.  her heart rate reacted to music showing that she enjoyed music.  she would have liked to have been snuggled because she always responded to touch.  she was quick to grab your finger and to latch on and squeeze.  but beyond these things we will never know addy as being beyond 8 days old.  we can imagine who she would have been, but because her beginning was brief and the ending came too soon we will have few thoughts of her growing and living beyond the incubator and the nicu.

she was surrounded by love before she took her first breath.  her birth mother loved her enough to do the adoption plan, andy and i loved her more than any words i can express, our families loved her, and friends loved her.  she was a little girl that was never at a loss for love or prayers.  they poured in for her.  the nurses and the doctors loved her too.  i walked in several times to see the nurses talking with her and telling her that she was beautiful.  she might have just been their patient, but the love in the nicu was palpable.  addy received more love in her short life than some people get in a life time and for that i am thankful.

while her life didn’t reach millions of people (maybe not even hundreds of people) she touched lives.  deeply.  the people that she leaves behind have felt her presence deep within our souls and we mourn the loss of sweet addy.

and while i still don’t understand the “purpose” in her life cut short and i don’t believe that God “caused” this to happen to teach us something i do believe that we can use terrible things – this death – to find beauty.  we can find beauty in the fact that she wasn’t alone and that she died being loved by many.  personally, i am holding onto the beauty that this experience has opened my eyes and proved that i can love a baby that isn’t biologically mine.  there is beauty that relationships were strengthened surrounding the birth and death of addy.  the beauty that God never left us throughout this entire process.

i will never believe that she was put here as a dispensable life.  for some unknown reason her life was an essential part of our story and of our lives.  there is a part of addy that will remain in my heart, and i hope in the hearts of others, forever.

how do you eulogize 8 days of life?

her life was short and and her death won’t affect millions of people.  her footprint might have been tiny, but in the 8 days she was alive she left a mark – her mark – an impact and love that was immense, beyond measure.

goodbye sweet addy, goodbye.

our little twitter-bird

I have started and deleted this post so many times I have lost count.  Nothing seemed right.  Nothing seemed to do it justice.  One time it would be too detailed and too much information for the reader and other times it was so vague that it didn’t feel right either.  So I will start this post again and see if I can find some middle ground.

When we were chosen by the birth mother at the end of May 2016.  We were told she was due in September, but that she always went early so to be ready by August 1.  We made our lists of things to do before we were to bring the baby home.  We bought furniture and had it delivered to the house while we were at Montreat.  We started to talk about paint colors for the nursery, and we started to discuss what we would need immediately vs what would be on our wish list for later.  We had a plan pretty much for each week until August 1st.

We were chosen (officially) on June 1, 2016.  We went to Montreat as planned and while we were there we got a call on June 14th that our birth mother was in the hospital and they were trying to decide if they were going to do strict bed rest of go on and induce and take the baby because both mom and baby were in danger.  We were told to be on stand by.  June 15th we got a call stating they were going to induce as mom was now 28 weeks and they couldn’t wait any longer.  They were planning on starting the process at 5:00 pm.  We decided Andy would stay at camp with the kids since he wasn’t going to be in the delivery room anyways.  I made my way to the hospital and we waited.  5:00 came and went and nothing was started.  It was around 9:00 that night that they actually got things started with the induction.

This is where I end up being way too detailed or not detailed enough.  I remember every second (mostly) and detail about the time I spent in room 10 of the labor and delivery floor.  It was an experience like no other and that words don’t completely capture the essence or the magnitude of the moments we spent together.  Exactly 2 weeks after we were chosen, two weeks and a day after we met this amazing woman we were tossed into a whirlwind experience.  We hadn’t had our next scheduled meeting because we thought there was time.  We hadn’t had time to completely process the extent of our relationship and how connected we were because we knew the other existed for only 2 weeks.  We thought there was time to get the furniture assembled in the nursery.  We thought there was time to meet the birth father.  We thought there was time, but what we didn’t have was time.  It was here and now and all of my plans and lists were null and void.

I write about the timeline of events that happened in June 2016 and am thrust right back into the calm before the storm and then the absolute chaos.  And while all of those elements are so important to Andy and I, they may not be as important to anyone else, and that is ok.  Maybe in the moment those details would have been important to other people beyond Andy and myself, but this far out from that date, I just don’t know.  It is hard sorting out what others might feel is important and what I think it is important for other people to hear.  I can describe in detail the induction process and when things stalled or progressed.  I can describe to you how truly amazing it was to listen to the heart beat on the monitor.  How in the quiet of the night it would slam into me with so much emotion I would escape to the bathroom to gather myself.  How the chairs were arranged in that room and each person had their spot, but when they rotated, where we all went and how often we moved around.  How we took shifts to make phone calls, get drinks, ice chips, and eventually something to eat.  How birth mom would wake up during the night and ask if her “baby mama” was still there.  Those details are there and etched in my brain.

What is important regardless of how much time passes is the beauty that encompassed room 10 and OR room 1.  Two families connected through adoption.  The birth family and the adopted family supporting each other, barely knowing each other.  We laughed together, we got choked up together, we sat in silence together.

The awkwardness I thought would be palpable wasn’t there.  The conversation flowed between procedures and contractions.  The smiles and tears were genuine.  The concern was real.  She apologized to me so many times for having to be induced and the magnitude of the situation didn’t elude me.  She was saying sorry to me and yet she was about to give me my hopes and dreams for so many years.  It didn’t seem quite right.  I thanked her over and over.  We held hands like old friends.

Around 2:15 in the morning of June 16th I found myself sitting alone in the cafeteria eating the first food I had in hours and reflecting on life.  A terrible piece of pizza and a luke warm cranberry juice was all that was available at that time of morning.  I sat in the booth staring off into space, tired from being awake and exhausted from trying to be supportive and remaining hopeful and calm.  We were not delusional to think this delivery at 28 weeks would be without complications.  I knew what we were up against.  Andy did too.  But we held onto the hope that things would be ok.  The heart rate was perfect and I held onto that thought.  For the first time in years I imagined our life as a family with a child.  I grabbed onto that hope that it was really happening to us.  I reached into the back of my mind where I stashed all of those thoughts and feelings and allowed them to resurface again.

Birth mom and most everyone else in the room fell asleep around 3.  Myself and another lady stayed awake until about 4:20.  We were awaken at 4:40 by total chaos.  Birth mom was rushed to the OR to deliver there (as a precaution).  I was told to wait by a door to see the baby as it went by the door on the way to the NICU.  The friend that was in the OR with the birth mom was texting the pregnancy counselor and the pregnancy counselor was sending me the information and I was sending the information to Andy.  It was a long line of cell phone communication.  My favorite was when I got the text that she was here.  Our little girl.  She was 2 pounds 10 ounces.  I got to see a video of them taking her to the incubator.  They stopped by the door and I could see her.  The NICU doctor was with her.  I hadn’t been able to speak with her earlier so she stepped through the door and answered some of my questions.  She said the good news was that they didn’t have to intubate right away that she was breathing on her own (she warned me that could change at any moment).  She wanted to go to the NICU with her and told me I would be able to come see her and find out more information after their first assessment.  I went back to room 10 and watched the sun rise.

The day our daughter was born I saw the beauty in the creation of not just her life, but in the world around me.  In my tired state I marveled over the colors dancing in the sky.  It didn’t matter that it was coming up over construction and dirty machinery.  It was the most beautiful sunrise I ever saw.

I waited for what seemed like hours and was finally able to go to the NICU and be with our girl.  I was educated on how to scrub in and went through the dragonfly covered door to her little incubator.  I will admit in full honesty that I was glad Andy wasn’t there for my first meeting with her.  Biological mothers get to have that bonding time for 9 months (or so) while the baby is growing in them.  I hadn’t had that and was so happy that we could have a few minutes to bond alone.  I know that is selfish, but hey at least I willingly admit that.  The nurse was amazing.  She walked me through everything about the NICU.  I knew what to expect in the coming hours and what to hope for with the first 72 hours (what we were told would be the biggest challenge).  We were guarded but so far everything was ok.  She had a PDA (hole in the heart) and they were starting to treat that.  She would have cranial US to check on bleeding on the brain.  I was able to open the little door on the incubator and she grasped my finger and in that instant, my heart.  I talked to her and sat in silence staring at her.  Taking in her tiny little fingers and toes.  Watching her chest rise and fall.  Listening to the beeps and looking at the machines she was hooked up to.

With stories from the NICU.  I have a hard time knowing what to share.  Things happened quickly some days and other days not so quickly.  The omission of the massive amounts of details of what went on in the dragonfly wing of the NICU isn’t due to be uncaring or flippant about all that happened.  But rather I still can’t grasp what to say about it.  I almost feel callous in not writing more.  Most days were similar to the days before.  I would get to the hospital and go see the birth mom (she remained hospitalized after birth due to complications), then I would go to the NICU and scrub in.  I found a chair and would roll over to the incubator.  I would normally be met by the nurse and updated on progress or set backs.  I would then climb in my chair and talk to our sweet girl.  I would hold her hand.  Stroke the side of her face.  Tickle her tiny little toes.  It was just amazing and the images still come so vividly to me.

After the first doses of medications she still had a PDA and they were going to try another dose of medicine before they considered surgery.  Her oxygen was still good.  She had some help from ventilator, but wasn’t intubated.  She passed her cranial US with no bleeding.  She was a rock star.  She did have some episodes of Brady’s (forget to breathe), but I was assured that was normal with NICU patients.

One day I was at the incubator and the birth mom came in and we stood on each side of her and semi held her up for a family photo.  It was a moment I will never forget.  We marveled over how tiny she was and how dark her hair was.  There was a silence among us and looks of understanding, appreciation, and love between us.  A relationship that was so new and yet very deep.

Andy coming to meet her before he went on his next trip made me almost weep.  He couldn’t believe how tiny she was.  I told him, but he said seeing it for himself was surreal.

She passed the 72 hour mark with very little complications (except the PDA).  All of her cranial US came back normal and her blood work was great.  She was doing wonderful on the ventilator, but still wasn’t intubated and was breathing on her own too.

Day four is where things changed.  I got to the hospital and the nurse said she seemed a bit off the night before and now.  They were waiting on lab reports to come back, but thought she had an infection.  She was fussy and not comfortable.  The nurse showed me how to tuck her arms and legs into my palm and hold her securely in the incubator.  That seemed to help calm her.  Otherwise she would flail her arms and legs and cry (he tiny cry sounded like a kitten).  I sat with her for hours holding her arms and legs in the palm of my hand so she would be comfortable.  You could see the distress on her face and in her actions.  You could see it in her vitals and on the monitors.  It broke my heart.  There was nothing I could do to really help.  Touch seemed to help and I just wish that I could have held her.  I was informed that if she continued to have problems they would intubate to help relieve some of the stress on her body.  I asked them to call and let me know if they did that.

Results came back and she did have an infection and they started antibiotics.  They did intubate.

Wednesday morning I got a call asking me to come to the hospital because the doctors wanted to meet with us.  They informed us that she had a massive brain bleed likely caused by the severe infection.  We were all devastated.  Andy drove over from camp to talk with me and the doctor and to visit with our sick little girl.  Things changed so quickly it was hard to breathe.

Friday morning 8 days after her birth I got a call that the birth mom changed her mind and wanted to back out of the adoption plan.  I feel like there were so many factors in that decision and we will never know the extent of why she changed her mind, but she did.  That was her choice to make and we respect that decision.  Her decision kept us from having to make the decision to continue with the adoption verses backing out with such a poor prognosis.  A decision that neither of us wanted to make.  After the call I climbed in bed and grabbed onto Otis and cried.  For 8 days I had a little girl that I loved so much.  For 8 days I was a mother, not legally or biologically, but I loved that sweet baby with everything I had.  She was mine and I was hers.  It was an experience that showed me without a shadow of a doubt that shared DNA didn’t mean love.

It is important, I think, to note that we had a name picked out for our child.  Ever since we did infertility treatments we had a name.  The birth mother had chosen a different name and we planned on changing that at finalization to the name we fell in love with.  While I was alone I called the baby the name we intended to change it to.  But while others were around I respected the birth mother and called her Addy.  Since the birth mother changed her mind we have taken to remembering our time with her as Addy.  That is who she will always be to us.  Addy our little twitter-bird.

We were notified on Monday by our adoption agency that hours after the birth mother changed her mind.  Just 8 days into her life, Addy passed away.

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