Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Round and Round We Go

Today was my fourth ultrasound this cycle and the news was disappointing. After five days of Clomid and four on Estrogen my follicles still have not matured to where they should be. They are stuck around 10 and 11.5 and have done little in the way of growth since last Saturday. 

I have to be honest, my heart was incredibly heavy to hear that we may have to skip this month's IUI. The doctor and I talked extensively about this and she was wonderful in answering all of my questions about why this is happening and what can be done going forward.

I told her that I just don't understand. With G we were pregnant after one cycle of treatment and needed no medication. None. I know I'm older but still feel like I have two good years before I should be worried about egg quality. We went back and forth about the underlying cause of follicle/egg immaturity and found our way back to PCOS.

My ovaries are considered Polycystic but my blood work is not necessarily indicative of the "syndrome".  I find it frustrating as I have every symptom (including the infertility) and with todays results I see it as one more check in the box for PCOS.  I am relieved that my doctor is open minded. She said that over the years the difficult aspect of diagnosing PCOS is that the standards for testing are always changing.  As a reproductive endocrinologist of many years she has seen the line in the sand smoothed over and redrawn only to leave some patients outside of the new 'criteria' without the opportunity for treatment.  If this month is unsuccessful she is wiling to begin treatment for PCOS along with other fertility drugs to induce better stimulation.

We left the appointment in agreement that  I would do two shots of injectible hormones in a last ditch attempt to mature the largest follicles. If that is successful we will proceed with IUI, if not than her opinion is to begin the PCOS medication along with injectable hormones to see if those give us better results.

 These decisions are not without difficulty for me. There is risk associated with all of this and I have to consider the two children I already have. I think about the money that we are going to pour into this effort all for the sake of having another biological child and feel a sense of guilt.  This is money and time and effort that could be going towards an adoption.


Something inside of me yearns for the feel of those small kicks and hiccups.  I keep asking God to clear a way. Make the path to growing our family straight as an arrow. Help me to be strong yet bend to Your will, oh Lord.  Consider my heart yet keep me from being a victim of my own fleshly desires.  God fill this space with Your Spirit so that there is no room for doubt or uncertainty. 

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


One situation that tends to be overwhelming for Prim is having guests at our home.  It's a catch 22 really because our little girl loves a house full of people. She loves the noise and the bodies everywhere. She seems to be most comfortable in group settings and I can almost correctly assume it has to do with being from a large foster family.

Prim's outgoing nature is a blessing to us because H and I are a very social couple. We host bible studies, work functions, have families over for dinner and just enjoy being in the presence of friends and family.  As a military family, we have learned to jump, not tip toe, into relationships and gatherings.  Our time is so short at any one duty station that if we waited until we were comfortably settled before becoming involved in church or making new friendships, we'd be on the road to moving again. Both of our children are flexible and accustomed to this life already and are used to the constant flow of people in our home.

While Prim is comfortable and outgoing during these times I have also noticed that she can become overwhelmed easily.  After watching her, especially yesterday after the arrival of my cousin and her girls, I noticed that it's not them 'being' here that is overwhelming. It seems like it's Prim's own excitement that can cause her to become dysregulated. She becomes so excitable that her energy is almost frantic and frenzied in nature.

Last night she wanted to color with G and their cousin Abby but her brother told her no (they were coloring this huge styrofoam airplane) so she moved on to coloring her own sheets of paper. When she was finished and asked for tape to make a book I told her that we only had a bit left so, no, she could not use tape for her drawings. Thus commenced whining and a stern warning from me to zip it or be excused from the table until she could calm herself.  The whining and complaining continued so I asked her to leave the table which led to an immediate tantrum complete with limp body when I tried to pick her up, stomping as she took herself to the stairs to have quiet time and feet kicking and crying in strenuous protest for having to sit on the steps. 

Fifteen minutes into the crying I asked myself, could I have anticipated this from a mile away? Of course. In hindsight I could see how this seemingly innocuous incident could get blown out of proportion.  What I should have done was taken her to a quiet part of the house immediately and loved on her until she calmed down. Instead, I put her by herself, left to her own dysregulated devises and let a tantrum turn into a full fledged meltdown.  When I realized that she in fact was not going to be able to calm herself down I took her in my arms and went into the living room away from everyone else. She cried and cried, her sweaty little head on my chest with tears flowing like she had lost her best friend. My poor girl, who was so excited to see her cousins and so utterly disappointed not to be able to join in on the fun for those few minutes was devastated. She did not know how to process all of her emotions and I did nothing to help. I was too busy making dinner and chatting and really, I just wanted Prim to calm herself down without my help.

If you allow it, hindsight can become an ugly mistress.  I wanted to kick myself last night for not giving Prim the tools to handle her excitement and disappointment. I could have prepared her more for this visit and when she became upset I should have distracted her. How easy it would have been to have her help me with dinner or show her Auntie the new craft she did at school and that's probably all it would have taken to break that beginning stage of a meltdown. Shoulda, woulda, coulda right?

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Toot! Toot!

So I went onto today and guess who is the Sunday Showcase featured writer? Me! I am so, so thankful for the opportunity to share this part of our adoption journey! Please check out this great resource for adoption articles!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Thursday, March 25, 2010

What Does Love Look Like

When I saw Prim's picture for the first time on Holt's waiting child page I thought, there's my little girl! She looked so serious and those eyes! Oh my her big brown eyes!

Did I love her right then and there? Yes. But it was more the idea of her that I fell in love with. She was our daughter in every sense of the word but I did not know her. I prayed for her with ceasing, I dreamt of her coming home. I longed to hold her and get to know every curve of her body. I knew God had chosen us to be her parents and she our daughter so I loved her in the way you do in faith.

Love is like a garden, flourishing with tender care and devotion. It is weeding, pruning, watering, nourishing. It is hours upon hours of dedication, coaxing and encouragement and love is not always reciprocated. Prim came home angry, afraid and confused. She did not love us but clung to us out of a primal need for survival. We had to earn her love slowly over time. We loved her by acting in love; doing for her what needed to be done so that she, like a withered garden, would bloom and grow.

We did not make our love for her dependant on the love she showed for us. Her heart was broken and her need for a safe place to fall superceeded our need to feel validated as adoptive parents.

I believe that love can heal any wound. But not just any love. Not the love you see in movies or feel after a first kiss. It's the love described so beautifully in 1 Corinthians 13: Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Guest Author

Head on over here to check out my mommy 'must haves'! It was a pleasure being a guest author and I can't wait to share an adoption story in the near future.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Accidental Parent

This I have never been nor ever will be. We did not have an 'oops' baby or an unexpected surprise after a particularly passionate rendition of the horizontal hula. Our children are here because of methodical planning, medical intervention and lots (and lots) of paperwork.

So, as I sit here staring at the bottle of Clomid and what these ten little pills will mean, I ponder the question I have asked myself a million times. Why does it matter that it doesn't come naturally?

I have often romanticized the journey to pregnancy and in doing so created a fable by which I set my sights. I know that I need to let go, face the reality of our circumstances and be thankful for the multiple avenues available to us in order to expand our family. We have been blessed and I need to acknowledge that.

I guess what I want to say out loud is, God please let this be easy. Just this once let our timing line up with yours but at the same time Your will not mine....

Down the hatch.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Hyper Vigilance and The Adopted Child Part 2

I know a lot of us struggle with our parenting choices whether we have biological or adopted children. For adoptive parents, however, there is the added emotion of "am I doing it correctly?" How is my parenting going to effect the outcome of this child's life? Will my impatience today be reflected in the face of my child ten years from now? Could I be doing more to foster a closer bond?

First, let us take a deep breath and recognize that we are not perfect. Not even close. For just one minute, close your eyes and reflect on the fact that God's perfect hand is over your child. He will be the Bridge for the gap that is our imperfection and weakness. Lean on Him in the moments when you are unsure or unable and then give yourself the grace to realize that every single moment is new. How you responded a minute ago does not have to be how you respond now! It is like living 24 hours of second chances. Use them and build on them to strengthen your skill set and resolve.

The next time your hyper vigilant, hyper aware little one tantrums, disobeys and all-out tests every shred of patience you have, take a quick minute to assess and then plan. Make each moment purposeful and non reactive on your part. Remember, match intensity but not emotion.

This is what I have learned to say to myself before going forward:

1. Prim's did not wake up this morning with the intention of getting under my skin.

2. She wants my approval so her reaction right now is obviously not desirable for her either.

3. My goal is to get her regulated, not to make her obey.

4. I can not have a teachable moment until she is calm and focused and that may take time.

5. I am not 'giving in', just GIVING. (repeat this over and over again!)

Our little ones (and big ones!) have a deep desire for peace. The conflict of emotions that they feel on a daily basis to stimuli and stress is confusing, stressful and frightening. Our job is to give them a safe place to fall and acceptance during these moments of dyregulation. We don't have to like the behavior, but we can love the child for who she is. Even if this is the fifth or twenty fifth temper tantrum, approach each without the emotion carried over from the first. It is exhausting but you will see results!

Here are some tips for effectively modeling regulation:

1. Learn to breath! If your child is too young or unwilling to take deep, cleansing breaths when they become dysregulated show them that mommy and daddy can do it as well. Even in the face of screaming and crying, let them see you taking deep breaths before responding to them.

2. Bubbles!! This is a great way to practice breathing and a wonderful opportunity for distraction. Have them on both floors of the house so they can be reached easily. I will never forget the day I asked Prim in the middle of a temper tantrum "where are you bubbles??". I was that desperate!

3. Bubbles are not just for the kids! They are for you too! Sometimes it is enough to sit close by, open the bubbles and slowing start blowing. It is amazing how 1) calming this is for YOU and 2) how distracting it can be to our little one.

4. Words of affirmation. Again, we don't have to approve of the behavior but we can certainly validate the feels and give them a name. "Yes, I understand that you are angry. I can see that you are frustrated. That seems to make you sad". Giving words to feelings will eventually help them to connect their emotions in a healthy way.

5. Holding. What our children often desire in the midst of their emotional chaos is safety and acceptance in the form of a hug or rocking. For me this was hard as I felt I was 'giving in to bad behavior'. When I started holding instead of separating myself, however, the melt downs have become much, much shorter in duration and intensity.

6. Distraction. Prim's whining has gotten better. What I realized is that I was becoming a part of the problem instead of the solution. Instead of telling her to stop whining (which only escalated her response) I try and switch gears verbally to stop her brain from taking that next step in her emotional response.
For example: Prim starts whining that she really, really, REALLY wanted that snack before dinner. Me: I understand you are hungry and dinner will be ready in five minutes. Since you do such a great job, can you give the dogs a treat for me? I really need a helper right now so I can get dinner ready for you because I know you're hungry." So in just a few sentences I have validated her feelings and tried to redirect her while letting her know that I am doing my best to meet her need. For Prim this big of a phrase is usually ok. Sometimes she can only handle once sentence at a time so I slow it down. I understand you are hungry. Dinner will be in five minutes. Can I hold you?

Don't ever, not ever never ever, forget that God knew that YOU are the perfect mother for this child!! You are what they need! Remember: assess, plan, breathe and when all else fails-love. God does not love us because we are lovable. He loves us because He is love and we are created to be in relationship with Him.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Hyper Vigilance and The Adopted Child

Hyper vigilant is defined as: an enhanced state of sensory sensitivity accompanied by an exaggerated intensity of behaviors whose purpose is to detect threats.

Aha! moments are becoming a more frequent occurrence in our house. Our latest session with Sarah began with a progress report of the past two weeks. Did we use bubbles to practice breathing when Prim became dysregulated?
Yes! Bubbles are a fun way to distract Prim and allow her brain to shift gears so that she can begin to self regulate.

What methods worked best to comfort, soothe and promote regulation? There is no doubt that holding/snuggling works for Prim. If she can be held almost immediately after the start of a tantrum and then redirected by asking a question or making an observation about our surroundings, she is more likely to become calm more quickly.

One prominent character trait that we have established as a major contributor to Prim's behavior is her hyper awareness. She is intelligent, clever, bright and notices even the most minute change in personal appearance, facial expression or intonation. Because of this hyper awareness she becomes what Sarah referred to as hyper vigilant.

Prim needs to know where each member of the family is at all times. Every morning she makes sure that Daddy is, in fact, at work. Yes, G is going to school and we will pick him up at 3:30. Can she play in the bathroom while I take my shower? Will Daddy stay with her when I go out? She often wakes up in the middle of the night and comes into our room for a drink of water or a hug. H and I joke that she is doing her nightly head count but we see truth in the humor and understand that it is her way of staying connected. Her many questions need to be answered directly and honestly in order to ease any lingering fear or doubt and may have to be reiterated multiple times throughout the day. This was especially true when H was deployed last year.

Prim's world still needs to have boundaries that she can anticipate. Her hyper vigilance-as a result of broken attachments-can cause intense reactions in moments when she is apprehensive or fearful. She is more sensitive to change in bedtime routines or overnight trips and her vigilance requires us to be that much calmer, that much more in control of our reactions during these times.

The common denominator in graduating from intense, emotional reactions to rational cause and effect processing is our own reactions and intensity as parents. If we match our child's emotional response (those we perceive to be negative) than we have missed an opportunity to share what regulated looks like.

Sarah didn't just give those bubbles to Prim. She gave them to both of us because my emotional regulation is just as important as hers. In order to be the teacher, I must be able to be taught as I continue to seek out ways to best serve my daughter.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

What Gets Me

Death is a hard subject for me. It always has been and I have a sneaking suspicion it always will be. I tend to hold onto this world a bit too firmly, have myself a little too rooted in my earthly home. While in the past few years I have begun to long for the peace of Heaven, (I will write about this another time) the kisses and hugs of my children and our family's future together are more real to me. God has asked me to face this discomfort by blessing me with children who speak their minds about everything-including death and dying.

G said to me recently, "Mommy, I want to be famous". Famous, huh? I replied. My first thought? Sweet. Retirement-taken care of! Oh! and I'll definitely show those stage moms a thing or two..... Then I pictured a sullen, scrawny, cigarette toting Lindsay Lohan and one of her bohemian looking boyfriends/girlfriends and thought I'd better reengage in this conversation so I can stop this before it starts.

Honey, why do you want to be famous? I ask. So far G has his career choices very carefully narrowed down to police officer and/or scientist. I see my parenting flash before my eyes in anticipation of his answer and hope he doesn't say something shallow like 'for the money'. Of course that was MY first thought but that's neither here nor there (do you buy that?).

Well, I should have known. I should have predicted that MY son would have a reason beyond the wisdom of his seven years at the ready. His answer was, I want everyone to remember me. Remember you how? I asked. When I pass away, he continued, I want people to remember me forever. Just like people remember Abraham Lincoln and George Washington. I don't want anyone to forget me.

As a mom who teaches my children that our earthly home is temporary, I shouldn't have felt jarred but I was. Just hearing my son mention himself 'passing away' left my throat feeling tight and my eyes moist with tears. I gave myself five seconds to silently say to him what I felt but knew was not the truth; you will never pass away! You will be here long after I am gone. You will watch your grandchildren grow up and die at the tender age of 99 asleep in your bed next to the woman you loved your entire life!

I must admit that when I finally opened my mouth I tripped on my words a bit and quickly turned this conversation over to God. I closed my eyes, quickly prayed for guidance and continued with the Holy Spirit firmly in the driver's seat. I told him that no matter what, his family would always, always remember him. That one day his children's children will remember the amazing man he will become and that they are going to remember him for the love he had for God. And most importantly, I said, while we are here on this earth, God will never forget us or forsake us. We are precious in His sight and loved by Him each and every day and He will never forget what we have done in His service. I told him that he does not have to be famous to be worthy of remembering, especially in the eyes of our Heavenly Father. Thankfully G let me know he was satisfied with this answer with a kiss goodnight and he's not brought it up again.

I get all choked up because I can not bear to think of my children not within arms reach of me. This conversation was a gentle reminder that my children are not my own. They are the Lord's for His keeping and I must learn to eventually let go. My prayer is that H and I will be there to greet our children at the gates of Heaven, not the other way around.

In Steven Curtis Chapman's new song he sings:

Heaven is a sweet, maple syrup kiss
And a thousand other little things I miss with her gone
Heaven is the place where she takes my hand
And leads me to You
And we both run into Your arms gets me every time.

Wordless Weekend

Friday, March 12, 2010


I love the wind because it shatters my vanity with a single gust. Today it's windy and the breeze feels so good on my face but I hate pulling sticky strands of hair from my glossed lips. I twist and turn in a last ditch attempt to salvage my pinned up hair but it's already too late. I look like I've been in a convertible with the top down in the middle of a tornado.

The wind carries the ocean to our doorstep and the smell of fish and saltwater make me think of frothy white foam that tops sea swells. I close my eyes, take a deep breath of fresh air and feel the wind skirt between my fingers and over my outstretched arms. I can almost imagine that I am flying until the shriek of my little one pulls me back to earth and we begin our walk to the bus stop.

I love the wind because it is how I see the Holy Spirit. In Hebrew, the word behind spirit (ruach) means air in motion, breath and life. I think of the life God breathed into Adam, the new life created in me through Christ and I love the gentle reminder the wind is to me that, although God can not be seen with our eyes, He is tangible in the force He creates. Just like the wind.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Thankful Thursday

1. That the men of H's unit who were in Iraq doing a pre site survey for their upcoming deployment are safe after an IED hit their convoy.

2. My brother being here this week to keep me company (and sane ;)

3. I am so thankful for red meat! H took me to Ruth Chris last night as a belated birthday treat. It was like I had died and gone to cow heaven....

4. New blog friends (you know who you are!)

5. Another amazing family meeting their sweet boy in Thailand!

6. The warm weather we had this week so the kids could finally play outside and ride their bikes for hours.

7. Afrin when you can't take a decongestant

8. G's sweet and God-centered heart

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Adoption on My Mind....

So this month was the first month we could start the process of getting pregnant. After the HSG we had to decide if we were going to try this month naturally (i.e. IUI but no drugs) or wait until next month when I could begin the cycle with Clomid. H and I talked about it at nauseum, him being of the opinion that we try right away while I touted the "what-if's" until he began banging his head against the proverbial wall.

My argument lay with the fact that H is deploying but we're not sure when. It's either next month or in June. Either to Iraq or the Philippines. Six months or seven. I mean-could life be any more up in the air right now? I AM NOT HAVING A BABY AGAIN BY MYSELF I tell him.

Then of course H starts going on and on about having faith blah, blah, blah. Literally-that's what I said to his side of the argument. Blah, blah, blah. (secretly, it's in these moments when I wish I were two so I could cover my ears, stomp my feet and squish my eyes real tight). Can't a girl just worry, fret and 'what-if' for a good ten minutes before hubby throws the faith card? I say this with complete levity because I already know what God has put on our heart. It's my thinking, my second guessing that gets in the way. God's timing is perfect and we will have another baby if and when He sees fit.

I was off to the RE again today for an ultrasound to try and predict ovulation. Much to my surprise the doctor thinks I ovulated within the past few days. What!? He still has to confirm with a blood test but all signs point to this month being a wash. I'm pretty surprised and just a little disappointed.

Why just a little? (thanks for asking!). Because I think of babies in far away lands. Sweet faces with no families. The quick pull at my heart when I think of doing it all over again. God whispering James 1:27 and Isaiah 1:17 in my ear.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

My Favorite Things

Forget Oprah! As a mom who is constantly on the go here are some things I wouldn't like to live without (you may notice I'm a gadget girl!):

1. My Amazon Kindle- Up to 1,500 books on one light, hand held device. (*sigh)

2. Kiehl's Ultimate Strength Hand Salve

3. God's Promises for Every Day (great for topical scripture verses to memorize)

4. Burt's Bees beeswax lip balm (regular or medicated)

5. Bare Minerals blush in Golden Gate

6. Praying the Scriptures for Your Children by Jodie Berndt

7. My Keurig one cup coffee maker

8. Spry Xlitol gum in spearmint flavor

9. New Chapter Pre Natal Vitamins (any of their stuff is fabulous!)

10. Shark Steam Mop

Monday, March 08, 2010

She CAN Do It!!

Lately our goal has been to get Prim to a place where she can express herself in a way that does not include crying, whining and tantrumming. Normally our day includes dozens of examples of the above with me trying my best to be calm and patient, prompting her to use her "big girl words" in the face of tears and screams.

It doesn't take much, saying "no" to Prim is more likely than not cause for hysterics. She is dysregulated more quickly these days than even a year ago. Who can blame her? A daddy deployed for seven months and two moves within nine weeks after his return is enough to send anyone over the edge. With the help of a therapist and some fantastic bloggin' moms, I've taken on board great suggestions and skills that, although they set me outside of my comfort zone, are what Prim needs.

Often I ask Prim, "just tell me what you need sweetheart" and what I get are tears and a high pitched chipmunk voice that make my ears feel like they are going to start bleeding. This morning, as I do every morning, I ask her go upstairs and get dressed and brush her teeth. Two months ago her response would have been immediate whining, feet stomping and altogether mayhem. About a month ago she was finally using her words to tell me (in her most whiny voice often accompanied by tears) that she doesn't want to be upstairs by herself. Even that was progress. At least then she was saying how she felt so I began walking upstairs with her so she could complete her task. This morning, after making my daily request to go upstairs and get dressed, she came up to me and said in her most big girl voice "mommy, do you mind coming upstairs with me so I can get dressed please?".

What a victory!! Not for me but for my little girl who must have felt so secure to be able to ask me with such confidence! We did a very long happy dance and celebrated her words with high fives and kisses. She did it! I know it may not happen again tomorrow or the next day but I know that she can do it and now so does she. The best part was that later she reminded me that she had talked with no whining and she felt like such a big girl!

Baby steps equal big milestones in our house. This day couldn't have gotten better.....

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Friday, March 05, 2010

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Thankful Thursday

1 Chronicles 16:34
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever

1. This week I am so thankful for my thirty-three years on this earth.

2. For the renewing in my marriage. Eleven years later and I am so thankful for the man who is my best friend and the keeper of my heart.

3. I am so thankful for the seasons! I love falling asleep to the sound of rain...

4. Only two days until family is here for the weekend and my brother on Monday.

5. Answered prayer for a friend

6. All of the families who open their hearts to a child not born from them.

7. A church that is starting to feel like home.

8. Psalm 18:2

9. Endless possibilities

The Little Things

I was walking out of Prim's preschool and overheard two gals having a conversation that went something like this:

Mom 1 : How are you today?
Mom 2 (holding toddler): Great so far! I actually managed to take a shower this morning!
Mom 1: (laughing) That's good!
Mom 2: Yeah, it's the little victories really.
Mom 1: I know how you feel.
Mom 2: (gushing) I just can't believe I was able to find the time! With four kids......I had to get up super early but it was worth it!

I smiled to myself because I have had this very same conversation and I thought "Mom 2 is going to have a great day today". And not because she found a cure for cancer or won a trip to Hawaii (by herself without said children), but because she is appreciating the little things.

I bet most of us, regardless of how stressful our day is can find one thing to be thankful for in the midst of chaos. Whether it's getting quiet time before the kids wake up, having lunch with a friend or even just making it to work on time, sometimes that is victory enough.

The next time you are tempted to say how awful the day was, think about Mom 2 and how an early morning shower added some spring to her step. Find a reason to be thankful because life is too short to forget the little things.....

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Extreme Makeover Blog Edition (Coming Soon!)

Kelsey over at Kreated by Kelsey is helping me redesign my blog! Even after plugging in a new background a few weeks ago, I'm just not technically advanced enough to have the look I really want. I have edited HTML to the best of my abilities!

If you get a chance, head over to Kelsey's site to enter her free giveaway!! Meanwhile, keep on reading and I hope you enjoy the new look!

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