If you know me, or you have followed this blog for more than a few months then you know about my struggle with infertility, PCOS, fallopian tube failure, two ectopic pregnancies, and five female surgeries. What you may not know (or maybe you did?) is that although I have always been an outspoken advocate of adoption, and have always encouraged people to build their families through adoption, I was not always sure it was for me. I loved the idea of adoption, but I wanted to adopt in addition to having my own children . . . or so I thought.
The truth is, I never pictured myself with a newborn. I never pictured myself giving birth. Even as a young girl, then as a young lady, even when my older sister started having kids and a few years later when my friends started having babies, I just couldn't fix an image in my mind of myself with a newborn baby. I don't remember if I have ever admitted this or not. And yet, somehow, in spite of the fact that I never carried a baby for very long or in the right place, and despite the fact that I never experienced labor or a baby shower, I have never had a shortage of children in my life. I have, in fact, parented 29 children for a period of a month or longer, some for many years, and all have stayed in my heart forever.
The past year has been life changing. After years of loving and parenting other people's children and giving them back, John and I decided to open ourselves up once more but only to adoption of a "legally free" sibling group. We thought we had it all figured out and took our classes, got our license, medical exams, chased down documents on everything from our dogs to our septic tank, and began the agonizing chapter of "fostering to adopt." A phone call on March 27, 2012 changed our lives. In a brief, nearly hysterical phone conversation with the head of the foster-adopt unit at our agency, we learned that a sibling group ages 5, 2 and 1 were waiting for us.
I had really come to a point in my life where I grieved the loss of all things baby-related: car seats, onesies, and even diapers! So it was quite the irony to suddenly have three children in car seats, two in diapers, and three who very badly needed our constant attention.
We fell in love quickly but it was such a hectic time for us. I can't even remember the first few weeks because I was so exhausted. Rather than falling asleep from grief, I was collapsing from exhaustion, jerking awake to the sound of a little one crying out from her crib. I stopped counting the days between my cycles, and I stopped buying pregnancy tests every time I felt the slightest bit "off." And in the midst of all this chaos and joy, my younger sister announced her pregnancy. I can honestly say that I was happy for her. And I wasn't just happy for her, I was happy for me. I was happy for me not only because I had my babies, but because I was truly happy. I had my babies, and now she would have hers. My younger sister, who has faced her own heartache in different ways in life, was now happily married and expecting her first child. It was so different than when I saw strangers in the mall and envied their pregnancy. It was different from even seeing some of my friends having babies with ease and no planning. I was truly happy for my baby sister, knowing she would not have to deal with the pain of infertility and the frustration of feeling your body has let you down in the most basic way.
But still, I wondered how I would feel when her baby came.
Months went by and we continued to bond with our little ones, to teach them to trust us, to help them work through their fears and insecurities. And all the while, God was working on my fears and insecurities.
December came, and so did my beautiful little nephew, Isaiah. I surprised myself by wanting to drive up and see him when he was just a few days old. I took my grandmother and we made a day of it. And when I held him, he was just breathtaking. I felt little tears spring into my eyes - but not sad, angry tears. They weren't tears of jealousy or envy, they were tears of joy at his perfect little face and soft skin, tears of gratitude in knowing that God has spared my precious sister the pain of infertility. Tears of knowing that God works all things out for the good of those who love Him.
It's February and we have been told that by the end of the month, we will change from the children's foster parents to their "adoptive" parents. A date will be put on the calendar in superior court, and we will plan a party. It's really not all that different from having a baby. There is the anticipation, the joy, and the celebration of a new start. And while we were in the throes of finishing paperwork and signing forms, I noticed my body was feeling a little different. I noticed sensitivity in places that made me wonder: Am I pregnant?
Immediately, I considered that since it happened twice before, it certainly is inside the realm of possible. But I worried that if I was in fact pregnant, it would be another loss, another tubal pregnancy. I put it out of my mind for a week, and then yesterday I was so tired, so exhausted that I had to leave work early and come home to sleep. I slept for three hours and told John about my fears. We talked about it, but I didn't obsess about it. Life is just so different now.
Today I went to work and got my period. My apologies to any guys who are reading this- I know you probably don't like to hear about these things, but you know that is the "clue" that I was reading my body's signals all wrong. But this time, unlike the eighty-nine times before, I didn't collapse in the bathroom floor in a heap of sobs and cry out to God to end my suffering. I didn't storm out of the bathroom angrily, or mutter any cuss words to the tampons. I just completed the restroom task and went back to work. I cut up with my coworkers, talked with some of our residents, worked on a grant proposal, answered some phone calls, and finished up our quarterly newsletter. And I realized the most wonderful fantastic thing has happened in my life- God has mended my broken heart! God has used my three little ones to mend my broken heart. God has really taken hold of me and I am gonna be alright!
I won't be tied to the yoke of jealousy and resentment all my life. I really will be okay. In fact, we will all be okay. Our wacky, cracked-up and put-back-together-again family is gonna be alright.