Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Blessed Feeding Diaries

So,  I'm sure you've seen - all the rage - surrounding Breast Feeding.  It's everywhere! There's even a stoic model breastfeeding twins on the new Equinox gym advertisement.  I get that they are doing it for controversial attention, which is great for advertising, but doesn't all of this take away from the miracle that is breast feeding? All this publicity seems to exploit the sanctity of the process.
 I guest write on a friends mommy-blog and she recently posted on the "Hot-Button topic" of blatant Public Breast Feeding.  While I watched her get practically crucified for her outrageous opinion that "one should respect others around them and wear a cover", it dawned on me that I hadn't really formed an opinion on the matter.  I read some counter 'arguments' and understand the convenience of Public Breast Feeding. I'm not living under a rock, all of my friends breast feed their children in different manners and I support them all. The more I read, the more my heart sank - so many scientific facts about why breast is best, women bashing others for not breastfeeding, and even men weighing in on the subject. I will never know if I would have been a public breastfeeder, how long I would have breast fed my child, or how long I would have pumped  if my child wouldn't latch- because I simply did not create her.  Trust me, I'm well aware of all the benefits of breast feeding. I also know that my formula-fed kid gets sick less often than her breast-fed peers,  I think it's beautifully incredible nonetheless. I was actually giving lactation a considerable amount of thought. Honestly, I'm not even joking - Google it - you'll find articles of mamas who breast fed their adopted babies. That's dedication.  But, this post is dedicated to the mamas that couldn't breastfeed.

You may feel a little kick in the nipple every time you log onto Facebook and see a mother's breast fastened to her baby suckling away. In the same way that seeing a pregnancy announcement gives you that familiar little punch in the ovary.  Whatever your opinion may be, this isn't about them- and it isn't supposed to make us feel inferior or as though we aren't doing the best we can for our babies. This is something that we just aren't meant to experience. And that's ok. Try to understand that we get to see life in an entirely different light while we are sitting there, blessed to be feeding a child that was or wasn't born to us. 

My daughter was a preemie. The hospital supplied us with donor breast milk and fed her through a feeding tube. Biological child or not, the bond that comes through feeding is a coveted one. As a brand new adoptive mom I was naturally intrigued with breastfeeding. While in the NICU one day, the nurse encouraged me to let my baby suck on my nipple (instead of the pacifier) while she was being fed through the tube. This would help her brain to pair the sensation to suck with eating, and as a result, she'd learn to bottle feed quicker. This would scientifically benefit her? I should do this.. But I felt self-conscious for some reason and told her I'll just let her use the Paci.  She left the room, my mind wandered, "Am I already a bad mom?"  Of course I thought about what it would be like.. I started trying to maneuver us into a breastfeeding position.  If you've ever held a baby in the NICU it's like holding a fragile bomb attached to all these very important wires. My heart was racing in anticipation of this experience I had heard so much about... Just then I knocked one of the monitors off of her and sent all the alarms beeping! It gave me a heart attack, did I just kill my child?! The nurse ran back into the room, let's be real- she knew what I was trying to do. She adjusted the monitors back into place, looked me in the eye and asked me again if I was still sure I wanted to use the pacifier - I nodded in total embarrassment. 
In that moment I gained a new perspective.  As I held my precious baby - skin to skin and heart to heart - I breathed her in and watched her little 4 pound body be fed. I began to sob, like a Kardashian ugly cry. I realized I should be grateful for what I have and that nothing else mattered but nurturing this little life I was holding on my chest.  When something like this strikes you, it temporarily clears your memory of pain, confusion and everything you thought you should be doing. I held on to the realness of that moment. It brought me clarity that it doesn't matter what politically-correct mom related thing I do or say, whether I breast or formula feed, or if I make organic food or buy organic food (I'm not going to debate organic food).  What matters is that motherhood will bring its own set of challenges and I think everyone needs to see the diverse beauty of it. We all will have different experiences and do what we think is best. You guys, your baby will know your love for them, not by the method at which you feed them or if/how you even birthed them.  These things do not define love.  To my friends who are waiting to adopt or my friends that haven't had children yet - should you find yourself feeding your baby one day (and you will), I hope you feel nothing but blessed. 

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Enjoying Paper Pregnancy

Correct me if I'm wrong - but - I believe the jury is still out on when one technically becomes paper pregnant.  Some say, that it's once your home study is complete. Others say that it's as soon as you are chosen by an expectant couple.  I've found a few who agree with my belief - that it's as soon as you touch your first Adoption-Related paper. 
Waiting to get matched as a hopeful adoptive couple can be so nerve-wracking.  You essentially are waiting for an expecting mother to look through your profile and say, "Hey, they look like they would be great parents to my unborn child."  Every moment that passes by, you are second guessing your word choice in your bio and picture choice in the photo albums. I could write a Novel regarding all of the emotions & realities that accompany taking the first steps in the Adoption Process (and I will, don't you worry) - but I wanted to do something fun after my last more serious post. We've all seen the meme's that say something to the effect of, "Sometimes I workout everyday and sometimes I eat an entire large pizza. It's called balance."  Those always get me, and I feel they really apply to life in a waiting room. You have to keep a positive perspective and maintain a balance because you're in it for the long haul, and at the end of this road is your child. I promise that you will breathe the largest breath of relief you've ever felt, when you are finally hugging your son or daughter.  It's indescribable. I want to say, I completely respect the grief and heartbreak that infertility can bring, and I'm aware that some don't see an empty nursery as something to celebrate. I always saw it as a sign of hope and sort of used it as my vision board. I also know that some opt to stay off social media, because babies are everywhere, aren't they? #babyboom.  I've been to the point where I'm even seeing baby faces in my soup. Ugh. Allow yourself some time to fully grieve & when you are ready, do something fun to celebrate your paper pregnancy. 
We started our home study right away,  I made every checkmark such a fun process.  And there were like 100 so, it kept me busy! Among the bajillion hoops we had to jump through - getting 'CPR Certified' was one of them. I was able to make that super fun and eventful with a cheese platter and a little wine during our in-home class (am i aloud to say that?).  I invited our moms & had CPR cookies made that said "I Love Grandma" (I know, pretty cutesy right?) In lieu of weekly belly progression photos, every time I finished one of the required reading books I would hold it up on my belly & take that photo in the mirror.  It was technically my pregnancy progression.. Hey! It made me feel better on those darker days, ok? (Sometimes I pose with books - Balance.)  One of my great super-mom friends took me to go register at Babies'R'Us and we began planning my Stock the Nursery Shower.

Mind you, this was all only like 2 months after our consultation with our attorney & we started telling friends and family our plans to adopt.  Another friend suggested we do "we're adopting" pictures. Of course with my love for photo-ops - I was texting our incredible wedding photographer within minutes. I found a few pictures on Pinterest, which is where I discovered the term waiting for you.  Knowing I had all of these little milestone moments to enjoy truly aided in keeping my spirits on the up and up.  I must admit - on photoshoot day I felt a little silly taking these pics, and my husband was such a sport about it. (Know that bribery did indeed take place.) As weird as it felt, I had to remind myself that I was allowed and supposed to be excited about this. Looking back, I'm so glad we did these, and I can't wait to show my daughter just how excited we were for her to arrive in our lives. I actually show her all the time, but she's two - all she sees is the big balloon.  

(This last one is supposed to be like 'waiting for the missing piece' but I don't think that point comes accross without explanation #PinterestFail.)

Now, WHEN to share the fact that you are paper pregnant?? Some people share it right away - matter of fact - we were encouraged to put it out there in all forums.  A lot of people meet their child's birthparents by word of mouth, it's not solely through Agencies or Attorneys.  In this day and age Facebook & Instsgram can aide in Adoption connections.  Saying, "We're Adopting!" will also come with lots and lots of questions/comments.. We determined that we weren't equipped to deal with said questions should we experience a failed placement.  My husband and I came to an agreement that we would not announce our "paper pregnancy" publicly until we were chosen by an expectant couple.

[An expectant mother does not become a birthmother until her rights are relinquished- which in the state of CA can be anywhere from 24 hours to two weeks after she signs the paper (which is typically a few days post birth). [PS I will always underline educational adoption terms.]

After we received the call and met our Daughter's Birthparents, we decided to enjoy the special time we had with them in secrecy. 
  Once our daughter was legally in our custody, we announced our adoption. We've honestly never had a happier announcement or one that was so worth the wait.  

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

There's a Wait Scale

Hi. If you've found yourself - here - reading this, Welcome!  I never wanted to write a blog, I just came to the realization that, maybe I should. I was reflecting on my life and how it was thoroughly wrapped in twists, turns, curveballs, bumps, dips (what have you). The thought hit me while I was sitting and staring at a row of uncomfortable chairs across from me, an empty magazine stand, a coffee-stained end table beside it, and the body language of the company around me said a sad story. Yep - you guessed it, I was in a waiting room and struck by deja vu. Have you experienced this? It's like waiting room muscle memoryI'm used to waiting in general, are you?  My body sort of assumes the position, so to speak. Do you feel like this? Have you ever had a moment where you sort of woke up and realized you had changed? That somewhere along the road you've adapted to living in different circumstances? It's weird, right? If you aren't nodding in agreement with me, you will get something very different out of this blog. Maybe you do know what I'm talking about, and you or your child has medical or special needs and waiting rooms are part of your normal life routine... Perhaps you are in a metaphoric waiting room & have spent time on stand by for an important phone call, or spent the longest two minutes ever staring at a pee-stick. Perhaps you've endured the wonderful two-week-wait. The list goes on: waiting for test results, call from a doctor, your pain to heal, an attorney consultation, the social worker's approval, to be chosen, to take your baby home, to adopt... You get the idea. Life-changing moments, that not everyone is going to experience in this lifetime. 
I'm referring to times that you are, quite literally, exercising patience. I don't think it's something you have, I think it's something you pursue. (Like happiness.)
You've probably heard, "Just stop thinking about it, and it will happen." Or "You just gotta keep busy." Matter of fact, I know you've heard this disguised as other phrases:
"Just relax, stress makes it worse.."
"If God brings you to it, He'll bring you through it.."
"Be Strong, Stay Positive.."
"Did I tell you about my friend so-and-so who (insert story here).."

People mean well. I must say that it also depends on your relativity of closeness with the person saying these things to you, right? Sometimes these words can ware down patience rather than be encouraging. Truth is- you don't need to hear anything deep or quotes from the Dalai Lama..  just merely knowing you are loved and that people are there for you. That's it, pretty simple. 

I have a scale I like to use while I'm in a wait. Maybe you have something similar?  Ok, if I'm able to distract myself with an entire episode of Housewives, I know it's not that bad. If I look down and it appears I've finished the whole bottle of Pinot (even though I'll accuse my husband of doing so), it's pretty bad. If I wake up in the middle of the night crying, literally having just cried real tears in my dreams- wet pillow and all- then I know I'm at rock bottom. Of course other emotions - grieving, in my case - come into play. At that point you can only describe yourself as 'hopelessly hopeful'.

Let me give you a brief background on me: 
At 28 my Father was in a tragic motorcycle accident. He was in a coma for 27 taxing days, and passed away on the 28th day. 2 months later, we received the news that I had  "diminished ovarian reserve" (which landed at the 17 month mark of us trying), it was a tough pill to swallow, learning that I could not conceive naturally. 2 months later my husband and I officially became "paper pregnant" & we were ready to adopt. 2 months after that, we were picked by an Expecting Couple to parent their unborn child. 2.5 weeks later, our daughter was born prematurely and suffered brain injuries as a result. One trying year later, she was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. One very colorful year after that, My mother-in-law began her 3rd Battle against Cancer. Breast, Uterine, now Brain. She did not win the last war. She passed away, 3 days ago. 

We're heartbroken & exhausted. 

I was in the waiting room with my husband's family when I realized much of my married-adult-life has been spent in cold, unwelcoming rooms. (Real & Metaphoric).  We get through things in life, and while I do have faith in Christ, I know I've developed a skill-set in dealing with tragedies. Laughing amongst the pain is one of them. Endurance while exercising patience is another... 
 Our daughter will undergo multiple procedures in the near future, and my husband and I will likely adopt again one day.. Whatever it is you are going through, I'll be here and I'll wait with you.

(I had to share this cheesey photo of myself... Just sitting here waiting lol).