How do you feel about being adopted?

So our SW came by today for the second week in a row to try to get the boys to answer some basic questions as part of the finalization of our adoption and in order to get the adoption order. And by “basic” I mean that the questions are simple, not that the responses are simple.

The two questions they avoided like the plague last week (distract! distract! distract!) were “What do you like about being a part of your new family?” and “What don’t you like about being a part of your new family?” They did *such* a great job at avoiding any questions last week that she had to come back again this week and I got the awesome job of explaining to them that until they answer the questions she just had to keep coming back… again and again and  again. So if they could pretty please just tell her anything (positive, negative, deep, superficial – anything!) then she can finish up her part of the paperwork and they’ll never need to see another social worker again!!

Please!

Pretty please!!

If you’ll just answer the stinkin’ questions then you can watch a movie before soccer practice!

Please! Argh!

So today was lots of behaviour and an obvious desire to avoid seeing her and talking to her. But eventually she sat down with them and went through some customized books which tell their (and most every other kid’s) stories and at the end it talked about words which might describe how a child feels about having been adopted by their new family. They had choices like happy, sad, excited, nervous, angry, calm, etc.

To my surprise our youngest chose the word “calm” when talking about how he feels about becoming part of our family.

Our oldest chose “angry” to describe how he feels.

When the SW asked him to explain what makes him feel angry he responded that he’s angry he couldn’t stay with his birth mom. Which is interesting to me for 2 reasons:

1) It’s been over 5 years now… and that pain is still there. That anger is still there. He doesn’t understand WHY he couldn’t live with her and we he can never live with her again.

2) It’s super duper hard to find the right way to explain and the right amount of information to use when trying to verbalize to a child why their birth parents aren’t allowed to parent them anymore. There are so many euphemisms used in situations like this (often rightfully – these kids don’t need more trauma) but really, they’re kids. They’re not dumb. “They had adult problems” is too simplistic because the response it “Why did they have adult problems?” and “What kind of adult problems?” and these are super tough to answer without getting too detailed – at least in our case they are. And I wonder if our oldest understands the reasons why he was removed, outside of using fluffy language to placate.

So yeah. I’m chewing on this new. Our youngest (who acts out and melts down and can generally be the loud terror of the house) feels calm when he thinks about being part of our family… and our oldest (who pushes everything deep deep deep down into himself and them hums and smiles and says “I’m fine!”) feels angry about being part of our family.

Both encouraging and heartbreaking at the same time. Bittersweet, eh? :/

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Rough Start to 2012

Well,

I got pretty sick over the Christmas break. I’ve been feeling ‘off’ for about 6 weeks, and it got really bad over about 2 weeks between late December and early January… spent days laid up in bed – woozy, SUPER nauseous, brutal headaches, sore throat, and low-grade fever. I told people it was the flu, but I knew it wasn’t.

Went to the doctor last week and apparently my blood pressure was really high, even for my family history of high blood pressure. She was fairly concerned and has sent me for a bunch of bloodwork. I’m going back next week to confirm.

So here are the options (which I already find bizarre): reflux esophagitis, gall bladder disease, diabetes, or m. pylori. How random are those options?!? The blood pressure thing seems to be most concerning… for me as well.

Anyhow, I’m not throwing up anymore, and I’m less nauseous right now so that’s good. That bsing said, I still don’t feel ‘right’ and I’d like to figure this out soon so I can get back to life better.

Ugh… hope your new year is going better than mine so far! 😉

Scars of Infertility

OK – so the point of this post is not simply for me to feel sorry for myself. Rather it’s the best expression I can muster about something that’s hard to encapsulate… and since I’m a verbal processor (and most people in my everyday life just simply don’t get it), this is me trying to get it into words.

What is Infertility to Me?

  • Infertility is a wound. It’s a gaping, bleeding, pulsing burn wound that I never expected. A few years ago I badly burned the soft inside of my arm, just near my elbow, with a high-temp curling iron. And I burned it badly. For weeks and weeks afterwards, it consumed a large part of my consciousness. The pain was persistent and distracting. The wound took a long time to heal and was VERY sore and quite tender for weeks after that… and that’s what infertility feels like to me. Even now,  somebody will make an innocent comment (not realizing its effects) and it’s like someone jabbed me in the slowly-healing-super-sensitive scar of my tentatively healing wound. At times it still hurts. It comes like waves – unexpected, surprising waves of grief – that overwhelm and shock me with their ferocity. And I’m pretty certain that even once the wound has healed, the scar will stay. It’s a part of me now – part of my journey. It’s changed me, and that can’t be reversed.
  • Infertility is helplessness. It’s loss of control. It can rob you of your sense of life purpose, when part of your sense of contribution to life and the world is investing in your children as a parent. Many women/couples I know who’ve experienced IF say that one of the greatest frustrations about this is how in every other arena of your life you can make responsible choices, work hard, and achieve your goals. Infertility is one thing we can’t control. It doesn’t matter how hard we work at it, how well-prepared we are, etc. We’re helpless to change something that seems so independent of everything else in our lives. Your sex life becomes timed and monotonous (no matter how hard you work to avoid that, it eventually becomes a reality). You either become isolated and suffer in silence (by not talking about it with people in your life) or feel the discomfort of those around you (because THEY don’t know how to deal with it) when you do share.
  • Infertility is the death of a dream. At least for me it was… which was a shocker. I’d always said that if a doctor ever told me that I couldn’t have kids, I’d be OK with it. Then life happened and we couldn’t have kids. And it ripped my heart out, stomped on my dreams and hopes, and beat me into submission. Surprise! Didn’t see that coming. Didn’t think it would matter so much.
  • Infertility is a sorority. Or sometimes a fraternity (guys walk this path too.) Maybe it’s not the sorority you’d hoped for… not the sorority of women chattering away and sharing their labour and delivery stories – laughing over the common frustrations of pregnancy and the crazy-maker of sleepless nights. But it’s a sorority. I would NOT have survived this season with any sanity if I hadn’t had the privilege of being a part of an online group of women (in the “TTC Alt” section of weddingbells.ca… holla!) who were also walking the same path. There’s something about sharing your story with others, and knowing that they ACTUALLY GET IT, that just makes the burden a little lighter. It normalizes the experience. It helps you to feel a little less like a nut-job when somebody out there ‘gets it’ and feels the same way. I am SO grateful to each of these women for the gift of their support, and the blessing of sorority… none of us ever wanted to end up in this sorority, but it sure is nice to not feel so alone when you get there.
  • Infertility is can be character building. I kept saying to myself (over and over again, like a mantra); “Better – not bitter. Better – not bitter. God – please let this process make me better, and not bitter.” But the reality is that bitterness seeps in… in crawls in through the cracks like all sorts of vermin and creepy-crawly insects. Bitterness, and her sister Jealousy. They eat away at the joy in your life until everything feels like it’s painted with the brushstrokes and colours of pain and bitterness. It hardens your heart… not intentionally, mind you… but after months and months (years and years?) of disappointment, your hearts learns to protect itself from the incessant pain. The hardening is survival. BUT, infertility will come to an end. Someday, and somehow you will stop TTC. You’ll either get that (seemingly forever) elusive BFP and welcome a child into your heart and life. OR you’ll choose to be happily child-free, and bring some ‘fur-babies” into your life – and be the coolest aunt/uncle or Big Brother/Big Sister out there. OR, you’ll adopt, and welcome a child into your heart and life that way. In the end, it will end. And in the end, you get to choose how and when it will end, and what you’ll take out of this roller coaster ride. Will it be bitterness, or a tempered, gracious, humble, appreciative spirit and heart? I’m choosing the latter… even if that choice is made day by day… “Better – not bitter,” I repeat again and again. One day it will honestly be true.

What about you? What have you learned? How have you grown through this journey? What is infertility to you?

Welcome – New Blog Home!

So I started a blog a while back, and then life happened, and then I fell of the wagon. Then more life happened and I wanted to get back on the wagon again… and then I realized that I didn’t like the restrictions of my other blog… so then I moved here!

This one post is basically a historical summary of the posts I’d written on my old blog and then transferred here. It’s going to be epically long… but that’s just for now. I’ll change that in the future. I promise!

Feb 21, 2011: Deep in the heart of renos

So we’ve been rennovating for 3 months now.

I. am. so. sick. of. this.

At this point we’re finally on the beginning of the homestretch. All the boring inner guts (electrical, structural, drywall, etc.) junk is done and we’re priming and painting now. In the next days there’s actually hope that our walls will have colour, which will hopefully be quickly followed by things like cupboards and backsplash and floors.

And appliance.

I cannot explain how excited I am to have a dishwasher in the foreseeable future. It is actually possible that one day I will not need to wash dishes in my bathroom sink. Excellent.

I’m also really psyched about being able to prepare food. You know – those little things in life that seem like basics; chopping, cooking on a stove (versus nuking in a microwave), putting food on plates and eating at a table.

One day. Possibly one day soon-ish. 🙂

Feb 17, 2011: Hope deferred

Well, here we are in another cycle of this stupid IF journey. Every month we get our hopes up. Every month they get crushed.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick but a longing fulfiled is a tree of life.

Heart sick.

Yup.

Feb 12, 2011: So it’s been awhile…

This is a long one… It’s been a while, so there’s a lot to update. Hold on!

It’s funny how grieving is different for different people. Personally I’m surprised at how Rob’s mom dying affected me so much.  She was an extrordinarily unhappy woman, who blamed me for her husband leaving her (he’d been having an affair for 1 1/2 years) and for her divorce. I ‘stole’ her son. I was pretty much evil incarnate. She was a (closet) alcoholic, and quite verbally/emotionally abusive… but always in subtle ways most people couldn’t see, and generally in emails after she’d been drinking. But more so, she was just very sad and had very poor communicaation skills.

But. I never ever in a million years would have wished that this would happen. That at 58 years old she was die unexpectedly. That our (future) children would never meet her. That my beloved husband would lose his mom at (what feels like) such a young age. That I would be so exhausted and sad about it. That it would make me fear my own parents’ deaths… I cannot imagine what that will be like – aside from the fact that I want to throw up every time I think about it.

It’s been just shy of a year now. She passed away on March 8th. Life has changed so much since then.

For example, we’ve been trying to start a family… for16 months so far. It feels like an eternity. Mostly because we waited until we were really sure that we were ready. I’d finished my Masters. We’d bought the house in the ‘burbs, and had time to settle down. We’d gone for a 3-week trip to Central America to explore and adventure together. We were ready.

And so we waited. And waited.

We got a BFP 4 days before Rob’s mom died… followed shortly after by BFNs… otherwise known as a “chemical pregnancy” or “very early miscarriage.” No time to really grieve. It was so early that it’s hard to even know how to grieve.

Finally at the 12 month mark we got a referral to a fertility clinic. We did the tests. Not such great news. Basically the liklihood that we’ll be able to conceive on our own is really low. That being said, the RE feels pretty confident that we can get pregnant through IUI or IVF/ICSI. So it’s an option. The bigger question is whether or not we can handle that.

In my opinion (at least my current opinion), IVF/ICSI is a little too much. It’s so personally, physically, and financially invasive that I’m not sure we could handle it. IUI isn’t such a huge thing to me, though… just feels more like giving the little guys a ‘fighting chance’ by getting all the healthiest ones closest to to the egg. Combined with Clomid (to hopefully have more than one egg available per cycle), it basically increases the (very low) odds to better than very low. We could adopt too. Totally. It’s also super invasive, but in more of a way that (as far as I understand/can imagine) makes it feel like you’re at a junior high school dance; standing off to the side and hoping someone will ask you to dance… and every time a boy comes near and doesn’t ask you it feels crushing. Just as expensive as IVF, but instead of being physically invasive, it’s more psychologically/emotionally invasive. And that doesn’t change with being public or private or international adoption… same crap – different category.

We’re still thinking about it. But no matter which way you slice it, I’m really really sad. I never thought I’d be this person. I always thought I’d be fine with no kids. I’m not anymore. I’ve just simply changed. I’m sad that the idea of us having kids ‘naturally’ is slipping away… yeah, yeah – anything’s possible. I totally know that. I just also know that anything’s not likely.

No – we don’t need to just relax. Yes – we do know what we’re doing, and the right timing and all that stuff. I know – when the timing’s right, it’ll happen… or not.

It just sucks.

There’s that. And work has been soul-crushing this past year. Major financial crunch – downsizing, layoffs. I’ve run out of steam… They’re good people. I’m just emotionally spent. Nothing left. I won’t go into a lot of detail, but the summary would be that I’ve changed. What I value in life and in work has crystalized. And the summary is that I don’t want to spend the equivalent of a full work day every week JUST communting. I don’t want to just fix other people’s problems. I don’t want to get anxious and nauseous every time I realize I have a new email in my work inbox. Good people. A cause I care about. I’m just not emotionally able to do it anymore. Not sure what that means yet. I’d really hoped to go on a maternity leave and figure it out then… now that that’s not likely to happen anytime soon it opens a lot of stuff to think through.

I’m just spent.

Now for the good things:

– We just celebrated out 5-year wedding anniversary! And I can say that we’re more in love now than when we first got married. I’m psyched to see what the next 5 years will hold. 🙂

– We’re 2/3 done our BIG reno: kitchen, living room, dining room, entry way. A lot of time. A lot of work. A lot of money… but it will be glorious. I will post pics.

– We have an adorable nephew who’s 1 1/2 now… and we’re guardians to our really good friends’ little boy who is almost the same age, and he’s awesome.

– We’ve got great friends, awesome family, stable jobs, our own home (with a small mortgage), a goofy/crazy/loveable/annoying dog who keeps us on our toes.

So in summary, it’s been a stupid year. It’s also had great things in it. We’re tougher and yet more fragile. we’re counting our blessings, but praying for a few other particular ones that seem elusive. We’re still here. We’ve survived this far.

One of my favourite quotes from the Bible is from Romans 5:3-5, and it says “…More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame…”

We all need hope. Hope keeps us moving forward when everything else feels futile. There have been many days over this past year that have felt futile… but we have hope.

Mar 28, 2010: Surreal Days

Well. Rob’s mom passed away 3 weeks ago tomorrow. She went to sleep Sunday night and just didn’t wake up Monday morning. The autopsy couldn’t find a cause of death (other than “natural causes”) but they’re sending away for more research…
This is something you just can’t prepare for. He’s an only child of divorced parents, so it’s a lot to handle. We’re both really tired and he feels overwhelmed most of the time. Not much else to say right now – more later.
Feb 27, 2010: Comfort Food
So I’m a vegetarian, and have been for a little over 8 years now… Rob isn’t. We started dating a little over 6 years ago, and have been married for four years now – so I was pretty clear at the outset about what I believe on the subject. In context, I’ve got to say that he’s a good sport; despite the fact that I still really wish that he’d “convert” to being a veggie like me.
All this to say, finding food that works for us can be a bit of a challenge – but oddly enough it’s not even because of the omnivorse vs herbivore thing… but rather we just simply have different palates! We like different types of food, so when we recently made a commitment to eating at home and eating more truly “home cooked” food (as well as actually making and bringing lunches with us to work) it’s been quite an adventure to figure out some great meals that aren’t super repetitive and which are easier enough to prepare and have for dinner when I get home from work; which is also usually not until 600pm or afterwards.
One of the great recipes I found the other day was in a cookbook I borrowed from my mom, 125 Best Vegetarian Slow Cooker Recipes; called “Smoky White Chili with Potatoes” (pg 127).
Here’s my somewhat modified version:
2 tsp cumin seeds (I used 2 tsp of ground cumin b/c that’s what I have)
1 tbsp vegetable oil (I used olive oil)
2 onions, finely chopped
4 stalks celery, thinly sliced
1 tbsp dried oregano leaves
1 tsp cracked black peppercorns (I just used out pepper grinder and very coarsely ground out the pepper)
1 tsp salt
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 cup white kidney beans, soacked, drained, and rinsed (I used one can of white kidney beans in the first batch, but found that 2 cans would be preferable… in the second batch I used 2 cans – with the 2nd one being Great Northern Beans, since that’s what I had on-hand)
4 cups vegetable stock (McCormick’s makes vegetarian stock cubes, so I used the ‘beef’ flavoured ones and found that they added some great body to the flavour)
1 chipotle chili in adobe sauce, finely chopped (I used 3-5 dried whole chilis and just let them infuse their flavour and spice into the mixture; removing them just before serving – perfect!)
125g cream cheese (1/2 package), cut into 1/2 inch / 1cm cubes, and softened (optional)
Finely chopped cilantro or parsely
  1. In the large dry skillet, toast cumin seeds until they release their aroma. Transfer to a spice grinder or mortar, or use the bottom of a measuring cup or wine bottle to coarsely grind. Set aside. (I didn’t bother with this – just added the ground cumin…)
  2. In the same skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and celery and cook, stirring, until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, oregano, cumin, peppercorn, and salt; cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Place potatoes on bottom of soft cooker. Add beans, stock and onion mixture. (I just cooked it in a big ol’ pot, since the timing worked better and it was actually pretty quick!)
  3. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours, until potatoes are tender. Add chipotle chili and cream cheese, if using. Stir well. Cover and cook on high for 30 minutes, until cheese is melted. Garnish with cilantro or parsley and serve immediately.
This was SOOOO delicious… Rob and I both loved it and I’m excited to say that I’ve just added another dish to our list of “Foods We Both Like” – woohoo!!!
Feb 24, 2010: Suburbia

If you’d asked me years ago whether I’d end up in the ‘burbs, I would have laughed you out of the room… but here I am, and happily so! Rob and I got married in February 2006 – on a crazy day where the wind went so wild that it snapped trees, took out all the power, and brought the waves from the ocean so far in that it flooded houses in the town! It was a crazy day, but in hindsight seems so appropriate. You can’t help but laugh at the insanity of it all… it was definitely memorable, and filled with family and friends who pitched in and made it something nobody will ever forget. We recently celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary, and I can definitely say that we’re more in love now today than we thought we could be – in a deeper, more solid and real way than ever.

We don’t have any kids yet – just Bleu. He’s our adopted Australian Cattle Dog (aka Blue Heeler) who joined us just a couple of months after our wedding. He was one of the Hurricane Katrina animals who were rescued and re-homed. He’s still got some major trauma and insecurity issues, but high doses of anti-anxiety meds and lots of love and patience have all helped him to mellow out… a little bit. 😉

Last November we bought a house in the next town over from where we both grew up – an 8 minute drive from the townhouse we’d had since shortly before our wedding. It was a whirlwind process of deciding to purchase the house… a private sale where we had 2 weeks to decide from the time we heard about it; with everything closing and us moving in within 5 weeks! Our good friends have kiddy-corner backyards with us, and we also know the neighbours behind us pretty well, so that was a huge bonus too!!

Our house is on a corner lot, in a really quiet area – half a block from a sports park (i.e. baseball diamonds and soccer field), which is connected to an elementary school. Our neighbours back onto farmland, which in itself is kind of odd for the ‘burbs, but we don’t usually complain. Usually. During the spring and early summer there are air cannons (that sound like shotguns) going off in the blueberry farms, and that’s really annoying, but otherwise no biggie.

Our house is 40 years old, just like everything else anywhere nearby, and when we bought it the majority of the insides were pretty much like a flashback to 1969… totally original – great condition, but super outdated.

We’ve been slowly, but surely, rennovating like crazy. It’s expensive and tiring, but totally rewarding. I’ve also realized that I really enjoy working in our garden.

We have a total of 9 trees (6 in the front and side yards, and 3 fruit trees in the backyard) and on a sunny summer day there’s nothing I’d rather do than spend the afternoon weeding the garden; Bleu relaxing on the grass next to me; finches singing to each other in the trees; sunshine and warm breezes… snacking on fresh, ripe raspberries. Awesome.

So anyhow – all intentions aside, I’m now in the middle of suburbia with my hubby and our dog… rennovating and pruning, and cleaning, and weeding. I spend hours pondering which light fixture to buy, and then hours on my knees installing flooring. And I’m not complaining. It’s peaceful and friendly here. The noise that we hear is kids laughing and playing. When we got a leak in our roof of our garage during the winter, our neighbour saw Rob out there trying to get a tarp on things… within minutes he and his son were over – in the pitch dark and pouring rain – to help out. Seriously. That’s awesome.

So this is a little log of some of the things that are happening in the happily boring world of suburbia. I’m happy if you find this interesting, but not traumatized if you don’t… suburbia isn’t everyone’s delight, but it is mine. 🙂