Selfless Love

Wow, what a WEEK I had last week! This post will give you the birth/adoption story details, but first I must brag. Little Man was ushered into the world via C-section at 10:10am on Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014. He weighed 6 pounds 11 ounces and he is literally the most beautiful person/thing I have ever seen in my entire life. And no, I’m not just giving you my biased opinion, folks. Even the nurses and doctors were gushing over how unusually beautiful he was, “especially for a newborn”. His skin was perfect. He smiled on day one. He scored a 9 on the Apgar test. When I say he was perfect – he really WAS!

Okay. So M, D, & W got in around 9pm on Sunday the 29th. They came by the house on their way to the hotel and it was so great to see them. Over the next couple days we (“we” being my parents and I) got to spend time with them, and my parents got to meet their extended family (all of whom drove hours and hours) for the birth. Both sets of LM’s grandparents, D’s sister (who is also LM’s godmother), and M’s brother and wife all came down. I had met all those who came when I traveled to M & D’s house on spring break, but it was the first time my parents got to meet them. Everyone got along beautifully, and it felt as if we had all known each other forever. My family has gained an entire extended family because of this adoption, and I am eternally grateful for that.

Around 7:45 on the morning of July 2nd, my mom and I stopped by the hotel to pick up M who was waiting outside, bags in hand. We got to the hospital and my dad carried all of our hospital bags up the elevator and to the third floor (yes, there were multiple hospital bags; my mom, M, and I are all Type A personalities who like to be prepared). I had already pre-registered at Labor & Delivery, so a nurse led my mom and I past the waiting room to get checked into an observation room. Sadly M and my daddy had to sit in the waiting room for an hour or so until I got squared away. The nurse weighed me, got me changed into a hospital gown, had me pee in a cup – something I am royally sick of doing after peeing in a cup at EVERY doc appointment for months – and got the monitor strapped to my belly. I had the most adorable nurse, who unfortunately was brand new and did not quite have her IV insertion technique mastered. She collapsed a vein on my left hand, said “oops”, and then successfully got the IV inserted into my right hand, after which she profusely apologized. Bless her heart:) She asked me what kind of music I wanted to listen to while surgery was underway; music?! What?! This was a thrilling development! I requested classical music and for some reason she was impressed.

My C-section was scheduled for 10:45am, and at this point it was about 9:15 so we all thought we had at least an hour to spare. M and my dad eventually made it to the room I was in, and D showed up soon thereafter. We were all nervous, and I had this bad feeling that something would go wrong with my spinal block. I figured I was just being paranoid, but my gut feelings are hardly ever wrong, so I started praying that God would give me grace for the pain, just in case. My brother and his wife were ALMOST to the hospital when the nurse said, “Surprise! The doctor wants to take you back early.” Ready or not, the time had come.

My mom got suited up and followed the nurse and I into the operating room, which was cold and outfitted with fluorescent lighting that made me squint. The nurse sat me on the operating table, and my anesthesiologist gave me a local anesthesia shot to numb my back before inserting the spinal block. I had met with him in the observation room earlier that morning. When he asked if I had any medical issues he needed to know about, I told him that both my mom and I have a very strong resistance to any and all anesthesia/pain killers (and when I say “strong”, I mean I-have-to-get-quadruple-the-numbing-shots-in-my-gums-at-the-dentist-before-he-can-drill-without-me-feeling-it strong). As egotistical medical professionals often do, he dismissed my statement with a roll of his eyes. That was when I knew for a fact that I was in for a rough morning.

The anesthesiologist only used one local deadening shot – with no waiting time to allow it to take effect – before starting in with the spinal block. He ended up having to try and insert it THREE DIFFERENT TIMES before he got it right. Now, I do NOT cry over physical pain. I had my foot run over by a motorcycle a couple years ago, which resulted in three bones being broken/smashed in my foot. My only reaction was to yell like a madwoman at the motorist and keep on walking. This spinal block business was a whole different category of pain! It hurt so badly that I was sobbing by the time the anesthesiologist finally got it right. God bless my adorable nurse; she felt so bad for me. She stood in front of me, holding my shoulders and wiping my tears as he jabbed needles into my spinal nerves; a process that felt as if it took hours but probably in reality only lasted a maximum of 7-8 minutes. I glanced at my mom out of the corner of my eye, and I could tell she was miserable for me. Hey, at least it’s over now, right?

I went numb from the throat down, and – big surprise – anesthesiologist has erred again, giving me too MUCH anesthesia and making me so numb that I can’t swallow my own spit. I just kept telling myself “don’t panic, this too shall pass, it can’t last forever” while staring desperately into the eyes of my mother. Now, I am not one of those women who thinks the actual process of birth – be it vaginal delivery or C-section – is beautiful. I think the whole thing is pretty disgusting/torturous/awful, and for me personally it was a painful and traumatic experience. A blue curtain was put up so that I couldn’t see anything going on down there (um, can I get a hallelujah) and in a few minutes, I heard my unseen baby crying! My sweet little nurse came and held him to my face, and he stared directly into my eyes. His gaze took my breath away; I kissed his perfect nose and my mom took him down the hallway to meet his parents while the doc stitched me up.

A few minutes later I was wheeled into recovery, and I regained all feeling in my body about 10 minutes after leaving the operating room. My nurse was shocked but I just shook my head and said “I TOLD ya’ll I have a high tolerance for anesthesia!” She didn’t completely believe me so she said, “wiggle your toes and lift your feet”, which I did. After that she was convinced I had superpowers; a conviction I found quite endearing at the time because I felt less like Superwoman than I ever have. (Yes, there are days I wake up and feel like Superwoman thank you very much). Finally I was taken to my “C-section Suite”, which is really just fancy talk for “Labor & Delivery hospital room #9”.

After being wheeled into my new 2-day residence, I noticed four huge bouquets of flowers and balloons. I had one bouquet each from M & D’s new grandparents, one from my brother, his wife, and their sweet baby, and one from a close family friend. Earlier this year, M & D sent me my first bouquet ever of beautiful English roses as a “congratulations” present for finishing up my classes and making A’s this semester. A week later, a close friend of mine sent me more roses “just because”; just because he is awesome and knows about the pregnancy and adoption. While admiring these heartfelt gifts from my biological and adoptive family, I thought about all the ex boyfriends and old relationships I had racked up over the years. Not once had any of them bought/sent me flowers. I decided that from now on, a man better buy me flowers, open the door, pay the tab, pull out my chair, and stay sober on the first date. Time to raise standards and quit dating losers. (It’s funny the things one considers while in a morphine-induced haze).

I was desperate to see and hold my beautiful baby, but nobody brought him to me. Finally I pressed the “Call Nurse” button on my hospital bed and politely demanded someone “bring me my baby IMMEDIATELY because it’s been 2 and a half HOURS, please?!” And they did. And as I held him, I fell in love – really, truly, in love – for the first time in my entire life. I knew I would do anything to give this baby the best life possible, even at my own expense. As I said at the beginning of this post, I’ve never seen anything or anyone more beautiful in my life. I thanked God that I did not abort him. I thanked God that I did not miscarry. I thanked God that He had provided such an amazing family for LM. I even thanked God that I made the foolish decision to hook up with LM’s biological father one far-away night last October. And I desperately prayed that God would have mercy on me and hold my emotions in His hands when the time came to hand LM over to his parents.

As always, my Jesus refused to fail me. Even after everything wrong I have done, said, thought, etc., He still loved me enough to give me supernatural grace and peace and comfort in this situation. This situation that I brought upon myself by deciding to go against what I know is right and enter into sin. This foolish decision to satisfy my own selfish desires and grieve His heart – the Heart of the Lover of my soul – knowingly. He still came through and continues to come through for me every second of every day. Regardless of my actions, He loves me.  Not because of who I am, but because of who HE is.

THAT, my friend, is True Love.

I had my mom and M stay the nights and days with me at the hospital. M would feed, change, and take care of LM, and my mom would feed, change, and take care of me:) I signed my Parental Termination of Rights papers the day LM was born, and the countdown was officially on (after signing the papers, I legally had a five-day time period to change my mind and keep LM). After what felt like the longest hospital stay of my life, it was finally discharge time. LM was circumcised early on the morning of July 4th, and we were both discharged a few hours later. While I knew M & D would be staying at least another week to finalize the adoption, I also knew that this was where LM and I parted ways.

M & D had told me multiple times that they would bring LM to see me every day – for however long I needed to see him – after discharge. But for me personally, leaving the hospital was my final test. I knew that if I could relinquish him upon leaving, I would be able to go through with his adoption. My wonderful CW (caseworker from the adoption agency) has been there for my parents, my adoptive family, and me every step of the way, and this day was no exception; she made sure everybody cleared the room except for Little Man and me.

Once I was alone with him, all the tears and emotions I had been holding inside and hiding for everyone’s sake came out. I started sobbing. I put my head down to LM’s face and kept saying, “I love you, Jesus loves you, I love you so much. I love you so much” over and over and over. Just looking at him put me in complete awe. I fall in love all over again every time I see him. He is absolutely perfect. Absolutely. He stared up at me, wrapped his tiny fingers around my pinkie, and listened intently to my desperate words. About 20 minutes later, Jesus brought peace to my heart and I knew it was time. My mom and CW had texted and offered to come walk me out to the waiting room, but I was determined to walk out by myself, holding LM.

I called the nurse, who handed me a Kleenex and looked at me sympathetically, saying, “It’s not too late to change your mind, you know. You can still keep your baby. Everyone will understand.” I smiled at her through my tears and said, “Thank you, but this isn’t my baby to raise. I dedicated him to God months ago. I want him to have the best life possible and only those amazing parents out there can give it to him.” She just shook her head and said, “Okay, I’ll show you how to get to the waiting room.” I don’t know why, but as soon as I saw M & D in the waiting room with LM’s car seat, I burst into tears again. I couldn’t help it. I had initially planned to hand LM directly to M, but I just couldn’t at that moment. I wish I had had the strength to do so. I could barely breathe. I kissed his precious face and handed him over to my mom, who gently placed him in M’s arms.

My test was over. I had passed. I officially loved my baby enough to let him go.

I plan to write another post about the week that followed LM’s birth, but this current post has sapped enough emotional energy from me for one day. I will skip ahead to 4:30pm Monday, July 7th: the time and date that my five days were legally up. I was in my mom’s dressing room doing my makeup when she came upstairs to see me. She said, “It’s almost 4:30! I didn’t want you to be alone when ‘it’ happened.” (This is just one example of why I have the best mother in the world). At 4:32, I texted M & D and reminded them that my five days were up. I added little firework explosion emoticons to emphasize the significance of my words:)

LM’s adoption was finalized the very next afternoon, and after a lovely dinner with M, D, my mom, and LM that evening, I knew the time had come. It was time for M, D, & LM – the one and only love of my life – to head home the next morning. My mom and I arrived at the hotel around 9am, where we proceeded to spend about an hour with M, D, and LM before they headed home. I cried a little when I told him goodbye for the second time, but in my heart I was happy.

A lot of women who have gone through this experience talk about being completely devastated; they feel they have experienced a profound loss and are deeply mourning it. I honestly do not feel that way. I feel as though I gained an entire family, a best friend in M, a stronger relationship with my Jesus, and a son in LM. I feel overwhelming relief that God made me strong enough to give LM everything he deserves in life. God has given me peace, grace, and supernatural joy regarding my precious baby. I leave you – for now – with a quote:

“We can hug our hurts and make a shrine out of our sorrows, or we can offer them to God as a sacrifice of praise. The choice is ours.” ~Richard Exley

I Resolve to Lay My Isaac Down

In four days, my entire life is going to change drastically. My C-section is scheduled for the morning of July 2nd. After months of counting down the days and wishing Little Man would hurry up and be born already, I suddenly realized about a week ago how absolutely terrified I was for his birthday to arrive. I have a tendency to stuff my emotions and mentally block them out; this is a talent that has served me well in the past, but also a reaction I knew would not be helpful for this situation. My caseworker from the adoption agency told me early on to start the grieving process as soon as possible, and I determined to do so. I am glad now that I listened to her, because if I had gotten this far in the pregnancy without confronting my emotions concerning LM, I would be in dire straits.

Speaking of my caseworker (CW), she came to my house last Wednesday to go over my hospital plan and the other last minute details that needed to be attended to. These included questions like:

“Who do you want to hold the baby first? Do you want all of his extended family members to see him the first few minutes, or just his parents? Do you want one on one time with your baby, and if so, when do you want it? Do you want the baby to stay in your room? Do you plan on signing the relinquishment papers the day he is born? Will the baby’s biological father be invited to the hospital? Do you want the baby to be discharged when you are discharged? If so, do you want to personally hand him to the adoptive parents or do you want me/a nurse/someone else to do it? Will you be bringing a stuffed animal or outfit to give your baby? Do you want the adoptive mother to feed the baby? If so, do you want her to stay in your hospital room at night in order to do so? After you are discharged, do you want to see your baby and the adoptive parents while they are in town waiting for finalization? Do you want your last name on his birth certificate, or the adoptive family’s last name?”

Not overwhelming at all, right? I actually felt quite relieved after we had all of those questions and concerns ironed out, and it was a relief to talk to my CW about the whole thing because she also relinquished her first child years ago. The comfort I received from having a concrete plan in place lasted about 2 hours, and then I started FREAKING out. The combination of anxiety over relinquishment, fear about having major surgery, excitement for the adoptive family, wonder over the fact that I will have a biological son for the rest of my life, and sadness/guilt for putting my parents through this whole thing was suffocating me. I basically had a panic attack that lasted for two days, and I could not shake my fear.

I decided to divert my attention from it all by cleaning and working in the house. While organizing random things all over the place, I came across a book by Carol Kent titled “When I Lay My Isaac Down”. Now, my mom has TONS of books all over the house, and this was probably the 40th one I had come across that day. This was the only one I paid any mind to, and I felt God prompting me to read it. So, I did.

The title refers to the story of Abraham in the Bible. God asks him to kill and sacrifice his one and only son Isaac – the son whom God had promised would be the one to bring Abraham more descendants than there were stars in the sky – on the altar. Abraham, with no hesitation, obeys. Not only does he obey, but he wakes up early to start on his three day journey to the place of sacrifice. He trusted God and His promises so much that he was willing to “lay his Isaac down” – kill his own son – knowing that God would bring him back from the dead to fulfill His promise if need be, and if not, that God would heal his heart. God, upon testing Abraham’s heart and seeing him raise a knife to kill his son, tells him to stop and provides a ram to offer as a burnt sacrifice instead. An angel then says to Abraham, “God says: because you have gone through with this, and have not refused to give Me your son, your dear, dear son, I’ll bless you…And your descendants will defeat their enemies.”

The author goes on to tell her personal life story about her only son who is an upstanding Christian and member of society; he has an impeccable military record and is the darling of the family. One day, Kent receives a call that her wonderful son has been thrown in jail for the premeditated, first-degree murder of his wife’s ex husband. Several years later, he is sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole. He is still in prison today. Carol Kent then goes on to share what God taught her about “laying her Isaac down” and having “unshakeable faith in unthinkable circumstances”.

I cannot recommend this book enough, especially if you have ever gone through anything painful in your life. (Which I’m pretty sure you have, because that’s an essential part of being human.) I read, highlighted, and cried until I finished the last page. The whole book is full of wisdom, but one part in particular really helped me let go of my anxiety and receive peace. I quote:

“Relinquishment is a poignant word. It means ‘to let go of, to cease to hold in the hand.’ It means giving up my rights to control the person, dream, expectation, or preferred outcome of the object of my concern…Relinquishing your ‘right’ to hold your precious Isaac in your own hands is the most painful thing you will ever do. It seems as irrational as Abraham’s decision to place his son on the altar. It goes against the grain of human self-reliance…It’s an act of trusting God when we cannot envision a positive outcome. But in the end, it’s the only thing that works. I know. I have walked this road…I spoke aloud to God, ‘Father, I open my hands and ask You to guide me through these uncharted waters. Please fill the hole in my heart. Your presence is sweeter than I’ve ever known before…I hate the reason why this deeper intimacy with You is being birthed, but I embrace the sweetness and I love You.’…we bow in worship before the God who loves us more than we love our Isaac and open our fists. And in the process of releasing, we find ourselves deeply loved. The love is born from within Him, not from what He sees in us. That’s a good thing, because we know we aren’t worth that much. But in His eyes, we are worth everything. He has already shown us how much. He gave the greatest heart sacrifice known to man – His only son.”

The hidden, nagging fear I have had throughout this whole pregnancy is that I will meet LM and not be able to give him up. This fear has been fueled by several things: reading accounts of women who planned to relinquish their baby and then changed their minds at the last minute; being told constantly by those who know my adoption plan that it will be the hardest thing I will ever have to do; and forgetting the fact that LM is neither mine nor M & D’s, but God’s. I have been fighting this fear through gasping, desperate prayers and recitation of the facts that I know. Here are a few of those facts, along with the nagging doubts that follow them: “I am the most strong willed person I have ever met. Once I decide to do something, I do not change my mind. (But I’ve never had a child before. How do I know what I will do?) I know God and I know God’s voice. God has made it exceedingly clear that this is His plan, and I am determined to be obedient to Him. (But what if I heard Him wrong? What if?) I explicitly trust the adoptive family I have picked to raise my child, and I know that they are excellent parents and the ones God has ordained for LM.(But what if I’m wrong?)”

After reading the afore-mentioned book, I was able to once more open my heart, give my fears to Jesus, and gain assurance that I would be able to relinquish LM. Not only would I be ready and willing to do so when the time came, I would be able to do so with a certain kind of supernatural joy: the kind of joy that only comes from having a personal relationship with Jesus and trusting Him enough for me to make this heart sacrifice to The Father.

As Christians, we do not grieve the way the world grieves. We grieve with hope, because we know our Jesus will always take care of us. We place our trust in Jesus, and eliminate “normal” human fear with a peace that passes all understanding. We put on the garments of praise in place of a spirit of heaviness. We endure with hope. We willingly lay our Isaac down.

NonGraduation Day

Today is the day that I was supposed to graduate with my Masters, surrounded by friends and family.

As a result of discovering I was pregnant two days before this semester began, I had to switch from being a full-time student to being a part-time student. I will now have to wait until next May (May of 2015) to graduate, because my school does not offer the three remaining classes I need until next spring semester. 

Instead of waking up with happy butterflies in my stomach this morning, I woke up with Little Man kicking my ribs and dancing around with all his might in there.

I checked my Facebook mobile app and saw pictures of my friends in their caps and gowns, and immediately realized what day it was.

I hate crying, but sometimes it helps to have a good cry (and a big hug from your mom). 

This too shall pass. 

Again, I repeat to myself 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 – “I am hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; I am perplexed, but not in despair; I am persecuted, but not forsaken; I am struck down, but NOT destroyed.”

My Jesus will never leave me. He will never forsake me.  Everything will be okay in the end.  

White Trash Scenario, Tornados, Finals.. The List Goes On

This has been a rough week. Yesterday was the hardest day. I have previously mentioned that I had an abortion when I was younger; it not only sent me spiraling into a deep depression for a long time, but it also added to the demise of the only serious relationship I have ever had. This guy – I will call him A – and I were together for over four years, and were involved in every aspect of each other’s lives. While I know in my heart that the end of our relationship was for the best, it was still extremely hard to move on with my life and let him go.

Last summer, I found out from my aunt that A was dating my 30something year old cousin. My cousin – whom I will refer to as K – is quite a bit older than A, and they met at holiday dinners that I brought A to when we were dating. Uhhhhhhh, can you say OUCH?! After I found out the news, I drove around aimlessly for a while and finally parked in a parking lot where I proceeded to cry my eyes out for hours. To say that I was devastated would be a gross understatement. I was heartbroken, and very wounded that my cousin would do something like this, knowing how long A and I were together and how much I was involved with him. I missed all of our traditional family gatherings at Thanksgiving and Christmas because I could not bear to see K.

Fast forward to yesterday. By this time, I have managed to choose to forgive them both and I knew they were still casually seeing each other. While I have forgiven them, that does not mean I want to see them or have any other interaction with them. My mom said, “I have some hard news to tell you; your dad and I found out yesterday that A & K are pregnant.” What a classic white-trash scenario, eh? Keepin’ it all in the family!

This news would have absolutely devastated me six months ago. While it still hurt, I was not surprised. Apparently, A is going to move in with K and help raise their baby. Awesome… The main thing that upsets me currently about their relationship is the fact that A will possibly always be a member of my family. He will be at family gatherings. He will be around MY family, whom he conveniently already knows because WE DATED FOR FOUR YEARS. Gross. I guess that frees up my schedule at the holidays for the rest of my life because I definitely won’t be going to my aunt’s house for awhile, if ever.

It would be so easy to let myself get angry and allow bitterness to build in my heart. But, I refuse to allow A & K to have that much control over my emotions, and I refuse to turn on my beliefs. Situations like this test one’s faith and convictions, and I am determined to pass this test.

So, that was the first big blow of upsetting news I received yesterday.

I decided to get on facebook and see what everyone is up to while I am in self-inflicted isolation. Baby Daddy pops up on my newsfeed, and guess what he is doing this week?! Partying on the beach in Florida. Normally this wouldn’t bother me, but yesterday it really got under my skin. It must be nice that the only responsibility and inconvenience to him regarding this pregnancy was signing his parental termination of rights and dropping them off in my parents’ mailbox. It must be nice that his body isn’t being completely reconstructed to create a beautiful baby boy that he helped conceive. It must be nice that he can party every day and pretend the situation doesn’t exist. It must be nice.

However, if the tables were turned and I was in his position instead of mine, I can’t honestly say I would not be doing the same thing. That is all I have to say about that.

Next, as the day dragged on and became evening, a huge tornado leveled several towns in my state and I had friends in the ER. Needless to say, yesterday was a rough freaking day emotionally.

On top of all of those things, I have a huge test next week and then finals the week after that. Trying to study, get huge year-end projects completed, and memorize all the stuff I am supposed to while simultaneously dealing with “pregnancy brain” aka “I can’t remember anything ever” and the constant anxiety I have regarding the future/my current pregnancy seems an insurmountable task.

Dear Jesus, help.

4D Discoveries, Johnny Cash, and Psalms 3

At this point, I have flown down to M & D’s house once (over spring break), M has flown to my house once, and most recently M, D, and their daughter W have made the long drive to my house once to attend the 7 month 4D ultrasound. That happened last week, and they stayed in my parents’ guesthouse. It was so nice to have both of our families together; my brother, his wife, and their baby girl came down to my parents house as well, so everyone got to meet/know each other and hang out a bit. Although this is a hard situation, this is the best possible way that it could play out and I am grateful to God for that.

The 4D ultrasound was a great experience. Everyone working at the doctor’s office is aware of my adoption plan, and they all seem to be quite intrigued over it. I take any opportunity I can to present adoption in a positive light these days, and I am hoping after LM is born I will be able to place some brochures or information about adoption in the doctor’s office. Every time I go to a doctor’s appointment without M and/or D in tow, the nurses, receptionists, financial advisor, and my wonderful doctor ask anxiously if I’ve changed my mind. I assure them that my mind will not be changed; it’s just a very long drive for M & D to my state for a mere 15-minute checkup.

M, D, W, my mom, and I were escorted back to the ultrasound room, and we were all delighted to find that the office had JUST gotten brand new, state of the art 4D equipment. My mom sat by me and held my hand while LM’s soon-to-be-family stood by the big screen, waiting to see LM! Every time I go back for an ultrasound, I am so relieved to discover that LM is growing and developing just fine. I’m sure every expectant mother has fears that something could be wrong with her baby, and I am no different. Well, LM is absolutely adorable, and absolutely perfect. We got some excellent pictures of his face, hands, and little feet. Such a relief!! And it was very sweet to watch M, D, and W during the ultrasound. They are excellent parents, and W will make a wonderful big sister for LM. It’s so strange to see this precious little baby look so much like me. It’s quite overwhelming at times, actually.

After the ultrasound, we all headed back to my parents house. W loved meeting my baby niece, and played very beautifully with her. I can tell she is excited to finally be a big sister. D and my brother had a little jam session with their guitar and mandolin that night, and we all had a Johnny Cash/Merle Haggard sing-along. Later, I played piano and sang a couple songs, and it was a fun time for everyone. M & D left the next morning, and I was sad to see them go.

Having LM’s future family here to visit is a big stress reliever, and also a very fun time. I have always been an extraverted social person, and because we are trying to keep this pregnancy from certain family members and acquaintances that do not need to know, I basically cannot leave my parents house in my hometown when I am staying there. That part has been very hard; some days go by very quickly, while others seem to drag on forever. Loneliness is something I’ve become very well acquainted with this year, along with its friends Anxiety, Insecurity, Pain, and Helplessness. Thankfully I know how to use these new “friends” to get closer to Jesus instead of drawing away from Him, and I am so thankful for my relationship with Him. I can’t even imagine how hard this process would be otherwise.

In other news, Little Man is growing exponentially! I am officially 29 weeks and 1 day, and I have felt a significant change in his size over the past few days. For example, I woke up about 3972045 times last night because he was apparently practicing gymnastics in my stomach. I took the glucose tolerance test last week – three hours and four needle sticks while fasting, the whole annoying deal – and passed. Hooray. So far I have only gained 21 pounds since becoming pregnant (my mom is a registered dietician, a fact that is both a blessing and sometimes a pain in the butt). I’m a very healthy eater, but it wouldn’t hurt me to exercise more. Again, this is hard to do when I can’t even go walk at the park without seeing someone I know. I suppose I’ll have to start wearing disguises.

I finally remembered to ask my doctor how many people would be allowed in the room during my scheduled C-section; he said the standard answer is one, but VERY rarely they allow two.  That one person will be my mother.  I don’t remember if I have mentioned it before on this blog, but I requested a C-section to make things easier for everyone involved. That way, M, D, and their family will know when to book plane tickets, it will be easier on me emotionally, and in the event of any complications it won’t be a rushed decision; it will be planned.

God keeps giving me Psalms 3 as an encouragement; sometimes my emotions get the better of me and I become very anxious about the birth and adoption. There are so many conflicting reports from birth mothers about how they felt after the baby was born, whether they regretted their decision or not, etc. I have been learning daily how to trust – on a new level – in His plan, and trust that He will take care of me and give me the strength to do what I know is His will in this situation. He continues to give me peace that passes all understanding – something I truly understand now.

“But You, O Lord, are a shield about me; my Glory, and the Lifter up of my head. I cried to the Lord with my voice, and He heard me from His holy hill. I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the Lord sustained me.” ~Psalms 3:3-5~

Meet Baby Daddy

Here is the story of how I met Baby Daddy (BD), and how he came to be Baby Daddy.

BD and I met nearly 9 years ago when I was 17 years old and a senior in high school. This was a very painful time in my life, and to say I was having a crisis of faith would be putting it lightly. The summer before my senior year, I was raped (while a virgin) on an overseas mission trip by a person from the country we were ministering in. I told no one except my brother for a year, and I was very hurt that God would allow this to happen to me, especially since I had worked so hard to stay pure and I was on a trip serving Him when it happened. I became very bitter and numb emotionally, and decided that it was easier not to care about anything than to keep a tender heart towards God. I still loved Him, but I was young and felt very betrayed and wounded.

Needless to say, I started actively looking for trouble wherever I could find it, and I began partying all the time. My friend L introduced me to BD, and a group of us went motorcycle riding that day and I got drunk for the first time that evening. As with everything in my life, it was all or nothing; I didn’t just “get drunk”; I got completely loaded. Ended up throwing up multiple times, passing out, the whole nine yards. BD took care of me and prevented anyone from taking advantage of me, something I am still very grateful to him for doing.

BD and I have stayed friends since we met that day about 9 years ago. We have gone on many motorcycle rides together, thrown parties together, avidly watched all seasons of Breaking Bad and the first two seasons of The Walking Dead, and generally had a great time together. We have hooked up occasionally here and there, always after a night of too much drinking and mayhem. I mostly left that life behind me when I transferred to my private college, partly because I didn’t have time to party anymore but mostly because I had revived my relationship with Jesus.

Last June, my lifelong best friend in the world died suddenly. I have had many friends die over the years, but his death hit me harder than any of them. During my senior year of high school, after the rape, I had 4th period free every day and I would go to an abandoned room in the school and cry my eyes out. One day, this friend (who previously did not like me at all; we actually hated each other) walked in this room during one of my crying sessions. I panicked because I thought he would tell everyone. Instead, he sat down on the floor next to me, held my hand, and let me cry. He came back to that room to sit with me every day for the rest of the year. We became extremely close. After his death, I sunk into a deep depression and cried myself to sleep every night (assuming I did sleep that night) for months. I started going out to bars and wasting time and money again, just to try and forget – if only for a few hours – that I was going to live the rest of my life without my best friend and the most incredible person I’ve ever met. Fall break rolled around, and I drove home for a much needed recess from grad school. BD and I decided to go out on the town, where we proceeded to get super wasted and stay out until 5am. Afterward, I went over to BD’s house and stayed the night. Low and behold, Little Man was conceived.

The next afternoon when I finally woke up, BD dropped me off at my car and I went home. I promptly decided to grow up, get my relationship with God back on track, and quit giving into my childish and ineffective depression/escapism.  A few days later I packed up my things and drove back to school to finish the semester. I completely forgot that BD and I had slept
together, until I went to my routine gynecologist checkup in January and found out that, surprise! I was nearly four months pregnant! I started scrolling through my text messages, trying to remember what/who in hells bells I was doing nearly four months ago – then, I saw BD’s name and it hit me. I quickly texted him and said “Well, we’ve got a problem.” I was on birth control at the time of our hookup – unfortunately I was also on antibiotics and didn’t realize that antibiotics render birth control ineffective. He quickly figured out that I was, in fact, pregnant.

BD and I have had multiple conversations over the years about how we did not understand everyone’s rush to get married and have children; who wants to be tied down for the rest of their lives, purposely?! I knew exactly how he felt about having children, which was that he did not want them, nor did he ever really want to grow up. (And neither did I, since I’m being honest). After I told him that I was pregnant, he offered to pay for an abortion and drive me over the state line to get one. I do not blame him for this reaction, nor do I judge him; after all, a few short years ago, I DID have an abortion. I have felt guilty ever since, and determined that I would never go through that again.

I calmly informed him that abortion was not an option; when he asked me why, I reminded him that I was the one who ultimately had to live with myself and find a way to sleep at night. He got it. I told him I would be placing the baby with an adoptive family, and while I could tell he was not thrilled with this decision, he understood why I was making it and told me to let him know if I needed anything. He also was totally on board with keeping it a secret; although he is nearly 30 years old, he is still terrified of his parents finding something like that out. It must be nice to be a male, and not have the evidence kicking you under your shirt for nine months!!! EYEROLL.

So far, he still has not told anybody, and he has gotten the parental termination of rights papers signed, notarized, and in my mailbox. I continue to pray that he stays more concerned with other things than with the fact that he will soon have a child with half his DNA running around. I suppose that, if I had to end up in this situation, he was an excellent choice for Baby Daddy material: he is causing no problems with the adoption process, there are no hereditary diseases on his side of the family, he’s attractive/blondish/hilarious, we are good friends, and we made a super cute baby.  He has 5 days to revoke his termination of rights after LM is born – something that I highly doubt he will do. Anyway, there is that bit of the story for you all, in case you were curious. More

Meet The Family

In my last post, entitled ‘Family Shopping’, I told the story of how LM’s family was chosen. After they were notified, a Skype meeting was arranged. Unfortunately, the night before the meeting, there was a huge ice storm in my state and my adoption caseworker was unable to come to my house for the skype call. So we had to reschedule for a week later.

The day finally came! I was SO nervous; how do you prepare for a first conversation with your child’s family? I woke up way too early, cleaned my entire house, got ready, and tried to calm myself down. Finally my caseworker (I will call her CW from now on) arrived, and she gave me a few pointers. The main thing she told me was not to be shy about asking the questions I wanted to ask, no matter how awkward or strange they may be. I had a million things running through my mind and it was hard to collect my thoughts. Finally it was time for them to call!

After the first couple of minutes, my fears were soothed. Talking to them (I will refer to the adoptive parents as M & D – mom and dad – on this blog) was like talking to old friends. Conversation easily flowed, all necessary questions were asked/answered, and – most exciting of all – phone numbers were exchanged! I immediately sent them the few ultra sound pictures I had on my phone, and nearly two hours later, the conversation ended. I loved the way that M & D interacted with each other; their relationship seemed very strong but not overly serious. They knew how to have fun and communicate well with each other, but weren’t flippant or overly jovial about serious matters.

This call happened on a Tuesday, and my next doctor’s appointment was scheduled for Friday of the same week. M had mentioned that she would love to fly up (they live in a different state) for any doctor’s appointments if I so desired; it had not previously crossed my mind that she would want to attend these appointments, but the more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea. I texted and told her I’d love to have her up for my next appointment, not really thinking she would be able to come on such short notice but hoping she could. To my happy surprise, she immediately got online, booked a flight, and made plans to come!

D would not be able to get off of work on such short notice, however. I was greatly impressed by the bravery necessary for M to get on a plane alone – after only one conversation with me and with no idea what kind of a situation she would be walking into – and fly several states away just to attend a doctor’s appointment. What love she already had for my unborn child!

My mom and I prepared a goodie basket to put in M’s hotel room. We put hard copies of the ultra sound pictures, a blue binky, snacks, tea towels, and a lullaby CD in the basket. My mom, who is an antique connoisseur/trader, found an awesome antique glass baby bottle and used it as a vase for some hydrangeas. (Little known to us, hydrangeas turned out to be M’s favorite flowers!)

After dropping the goodie basket off at M’s hotel room, my mom and I headed to the airport. M’s flight was delayed, and I remember being so worried that she would be stuck overnight in a strange city. Thankfully, she got on the last flight out for the night and made it to my city just in time. I gave her a big hug when she got off the plane, and we headed to the hotel. When we got to her room, she pulled out a present for me; it was a beautiful necklace that all of the women in her family had. I was extremely touched by this gesture, and I wear the necklace all the time. The three of us talked until late into the night, and then my mom and I headed to the house.

The next day, M and I went to a very long brunch and really connected. We both shared family stories, thoughts, and plans for the future. After brunch we went to my parents house, which is the house I grew up in. I am a classically trained musician; I’ve studied piano, voice, and violin since I was 3 years old, and I reached the highest level classically in piano when I was 17 years old. I’ve also led worship and been in several rock bands over the years; so needless to say, music is a huge part of my life. I played piano and sang for M, which she really enjoyed. After a quick lunch we headed to the doctor’s office!

M and my doctor really hit it off, as he has relatives living in the same area that M & D live in. I love my doctor; he is first of all one of the best in the area and secondly, somehow manages to make me feel at ease while being absolutely honest/blunt at the same time. He’s basically the perfect OB doc. I was SO GLAD M was there for the ultrasound; it was really sweet to see her face and have her there to share the experience with my mom and I. They checked LM’s fingers, toes, organ/bone development, etc. Everything looked perfect! Upon hearing about why M was there, the tech made the ultrasound longer than necessary, and even switched over to 4D for a few minutes at the end just for us to see. She also printed off two sets of pictures so that M and I could each have one.

M flew home the next day, and I felt much more at peace after meeting her.

I started dealing with my feelings of grief and loss as soon as I decided to go with adoption. I had been told by CW that a lot of girls make the mistake of shoving these feelings aside until the baby is born, which ultimately makes it a lot harder on everyone involved, especially themselves. I am determined for the day of LM’s birth to be a celebration; I do not want the focus to be on myself, because the whole reason I chose adoption was for his benefit. M & D asked me if I would mind having a lot of their relatives at the hospital for the birth. While many girls probably would find this too difficult, I love it. I’m so glad LM is going into a huge, close, loving family, and I think having most of his new relatives there to celebrate is absolutely the way to go.

The day I found out I was pregnant, I was so upset and angry with myself. God made it immediately clear to my heart that the only way I would be able to get through this was by praising Him. He also told me what to name the baby; when I looked up his name, I learned that it means “my praise”.  I was mad; I told Him I didn’t want to hear that right now and proceeded to throw a book at my bedroom wall. (I know, I know… Really mature reaction). After working through my initial anger and shock, I turned on some praise music and forced myself to sing and dance. Pretty soon, I was no longer forcing it but I was truly praising God. That is the moment when I knew everything would be alright.

My Jesus will never leave me; He will NEVER forsake me. Even in the most difficult times of life, when everything feels wrong and devastation is near, I’ve learned that those are the times He is nearest to me. I have been through many devastating situations in my life, many more than an average individual. I always come out a stronger person, and the only reason I have been able to keep my sanity and not have a nervous breakdown through them all is His never-ending love. This situation is no different, but it has a big positive to it that a lot of my previous life situations didn’t: out of this difficult time of sadness and uncertainty, an entire family is being changed for the better.

M & D are going to have LM as an end result, and I will have the comfort of Jesus and the knowledge that I did the best thing for my child. So many upsetting situations that I’ve brought on myself as a result of sinning (like this one, for example) only have negative consequences. This one has a HUGE and wonderful positive “consequence”, and that is LM. I cannot wait to see what his future holds.

Family Shopping

After deciding to place my child with an adoptive family, I prayed for guidance and began methodically searching through hundreds of potential familys’ profiles. It was such a strange feeling, this “family shopping”! I had several minimal requirements for the family, which I made known to God in order of importance: (1) Christian, (2) Southern, (3) Financially stable, and (4) Blonde (I didn’t want Little Man – LM – to look out of place)! Initially I wanted a couple that did not have children of their own, because I was worried about them favoring their biological children over their adoptive child. However, after further consideration, I decided that I preferred parents who had decent experience with this whole child-rearing thing, aka parents who already had a child.

Another major thing I wanted was for LM’s parents to have an extremely solid marriage. One of the main reasons I am placing him is so that he can grow up with a mother AND father – something I cannot provide for him. I would be devastated if his parents divorced after the adoption was finalized. I reminded myself to trust God, as He planned this child’s destiny at the beginning of time and always takes care of the desires of my heart (when I manage to get out of His way).

Most of all, I wanted to pick the family that God ordained for LM. I’ve learned repeatedly throughout my life that God’s will ALWAYS trumps my own will, the will of others, and the opinions/plans of man. Thankfully I’ve gotten quite good at listening to His voice and learning how He speaks to me.

I began to wonder how anybody made this decision without the help of God. The profiles are insanely minimalistic; how is one supposed to make an educated decision about something as important as choosing parents for one’s child, based on a one-page bio and a couple of pictures?! After several profiles, I was overwhelmed and wanted to stop searching, but decided to check out one last family before quitting for the day. I sighed and clicked on their profile.  Immediately – before even reading anything or closely examining the pictures – I felt a prompt in my heart. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that this was the family that God – not I – had chosen for LM. What a relief!

Upon reading the bio of LM’s future parents (I’ll refer to them as M & D from now on) I was deeply touched by their story. They met in college years ago, and they have been married for over 10 years. They have a beautiful daughter, and several years ago were pregnant with their second daughter until a horribly tragic accident caused M to lose the baby. This accident also left her unable to have any more children. My heart broke when I read their story and thought about the pain M & D had experienced. The fact that they stayed married after the accident (a miraculous feat after something so traumatic, painful, and life altering) and the fact that they did not abandon their faith in Jesus as a result of the accident, impressed me greatly.

Not only did M & D meet my top four requirements, but they met all my other requirements as well! They had an unusually solid relationship. They had experience with raising a child. I knew I did not have to worry about them favoring their daughter over LM; it was quite clear that they would greatly cherish all of their children, regardless of their origins. Most importantly, though, God strongly confirmed that they were LM’s appointed family.

I found out I was pregnant in January, and I found the adoptive family exactly a week later. I excitedly notified my caseworker from the adoption agency. To my surprise, she said that the family would not be informed of my choice until mid-March. When I asked why, I got a pretty vague answer but read between the lines. It was because they did not want to get M & D’s hopes up, only to have me change my mind and keep the baby later on in the pregnancy. While I understood this reason completely, it also slightly annoyed me.

I am not what society considers a “typical” birthmother. (Which, as far as I can tell, seems to be something along the lines of a 16-year-old high school dropout with a drug problem and an abusive boyfriend). I am also not what society considers a “typical” grad student, a “typical” American, a “typical” Christian, etc. Really, there is nothing typical about me/my life… But more on that later. My point is, the agency CLEARLY does not know me, nor do they understand my absolutely indomitable strength of will once I make up my mind. This strength of will is especially immoveable when I know that I am doing something God wants me to do. However, people do not believe you when you tell them things like that about yourself, so I bit my tongue and accepted the wait.

A few months later, M & D were finally notified, and a Skype meeting was arranged!

I will continue my story in my next post. Thanks for reading!

Adoption Haters

Since discovering I was pregnant and beginning the process of placing my precious baby boy with an amazing family, I have encountered an appalling amount of ignorance and downright hatred for making this decision. I had one of my (now ex) best friends send me an angry and very cruel tirade via text message. “Your family is rich, why aren’t you keeping the baby? You’re just selfish and don’t want to grow up. So many women want to have kids but can’t, you’re being so ungrateful. If you didn’t want to keep the baby once it’s born you should’ve just had an abortion when you found out you were pregnant”. After about 8 messages full of similar accusations, she ended with “now go eat some chocolate and think about what I’ve said and quit being such a bitch”. I sat on the couch with my mouth open in shock and my heart hurting. If you are reading this and have similar views, I feel sorry for you. Here is my rebuttal.

“Your family is rich, why aren’t you keeping the baby?” Yes, my family is financially stable. NO, that does not automatically make me ready to be a mother! I want my baby to be raised by two parents who are in love with each other and Jesus. I want him to ALWAYS feel cherished, valued, and loved. I never want him to spend a day in daycare or be picked up late from school, which would inevitably have to happen if I raised him alone. I never want him to feel like he is a burden to his mother or have to explain why his father isn’t around. There is a lot more I could say on this but I’ll keep it brief. To make the argument that being financially stable = being a good parent is ignorant and untrue. If that is your viewpoint than I hope you do not have children because parenting – ACTUAL PARENTING – is about SO much more than money! (If you still don’t believe me, call Ted Bundy’s mom. She was rich, too).

“You’re just selfish and don’t want to grow up.” No, I am not selfish, nor am I giving my baby up because I “just don’t want to grow up”. I am 25 years old. I have traveled the world and lived alone overseas multiple times; I worked my ass off to graduate with honors from a private college; I worked during the first year of my masters degree. (I worked even though my professors told me I wouldn’t be able to work and pass my classes; guess what? passed ’em all). All of these things have taken vast amounts of discipline, grit, and maturity, and you know what? I AM grown up; that’s why I am making this decision. You think it’s an easy decision to make?! I already adore this baby and he’s not even born yet. Letting him go and saying goodbye to him while kissing his sweet face is going to be the hardest day of my life. But it’s for him. It’s not a decision made for myself, because – unlike the majority of Americans – I am aware that the world does not revolve around me. Just because something will be “hard” for me does not by any means indicate that I will regret making that decision in the long-run. If I were being selfish, I would not choose to endure 9 months of raging hormones, loneliness, idiotic texts like this one, and the million other less-than-amazing things that accompany an unplanned pregnancy.

“So many women want to have kids but can’t; you’re being ungrateful”. Yeah, I know that. Which is why I am entrusting my child to one of these wonderful women and her husband! Ironically, this “friend” of mine – we will call her Andrea – would have had a drastically better/easier life if her own mother would have opted for adoption when she got pregnant at 16. Instead, her mom kept her and proceeded to remind Andrea daily how getting pregnant with her had ruined her life (usually right before her mom left the house for the night to support her raging addiction to alcohol). Nice. *Disclaimer: I am NOT knocking single parenting; I greatly admire those who do it and do it well. However, I do not think that all women who unexpectedly get pregnant should raise their children, nor do I think that staying with their “real” mom always has the best outcome.

“If you didn’t want to keep the baby once it’s born, you should’ve just had an abortion when you found out you were pregnant”. Are you FREAKING kidding me?! As someone who had an abortion in my younger years and who is now pregnant, this statement makes me want to slap society in the face. It’s disgusting to me that abortion is more socially acceptable than adoption. I had my abortion when I was 8 weeks along; everyone at Planned Parenthood carefully avoided the word “baby” and replaced it with “fetus”. They reassured me that the baby was not, in fact, a baby, but “just a big ball of cells and tissue at this point” and wasn’t even human yet. Newsflash: they were lying. When I walked into my OB docs’ office this year, he gave me the basic rundown of developmental stages that my baby had been going through. I told him about my previous abortion and what the clinic had told me. He just shook his head and handed me a brochure entitled, “Weeks 8 – 10: Your Baby Has a Heartbeat!” I felt sick to my stomach. I am pro-choice, MEANING I think women should have the right to make a choice and live with the consequences, just like anyone else. I also think they have the right to be informed- REALLY informed – of exactly what they are doing when they consider abortion and not lied to for the sake of someone else’s wallet or political agenda.

“Go eat some chocolate and think about what I’ve said…”. Pshh silly girl – doughnuts are where it’s AT!;)

The social mindset toward birth moms and adoption in general needs to be abolished. Things have changed. Adoption is no longer something to be ashamed of! You don’t have to drop your baby off on the orphanage steps and then vanish. Yes, you got pregnant unexpectedly. Yes, it sucks at first. Yes, people will judge you and be self-righteous jerks about it. Yes, it’s going to be hard for you to feel that baby kicking around happily inside of you and then have to part with it. Yes, as the birth mom, you are the one losing out in this situation. YES, IT WILL BE WORTH IT IN THE END. In the grand scheme of things, these people do not matter. You are giving your baby a chance at an amazing life, you are making his adoptive parents’ dreams come true, you are giving yourself the chance to find out who your real friends are, and you’re making an extremely selfless, unfathomably hard, and very mature decision. Get over it, society.

Small Town Secret

Today has been a hard one.  I have been through a lot in my life – from bus bombings in Israel to an abusive relationship, etc – and I am grateful for that fact now because all the practice dealing with emotions has helped me keep from panicking/despairing over my current situation.  However, there are some days when the sadness is inevitable, and it eats at you like a termite.  Because I am placing my child with an adoptive family, I am keeping the pregnancy a secret from certain extended family members and acquaintances.  This is a fairly easy thing to do while I am at my house in the city where I attend school, but when I can’t take the silence and aloneness anymore I am in my hometown visiting my parents.  

That is where I am currently, and while being with my parents (and their own personal pack of spoiled and adorable dogs) is a lifesaver, it also means that I am basically stuck in the house because I know the entire freaking town and I am now over 5 months pregnant!  There are so many thoughts that I have swirling in my head at all times, and sometimes they well up and translate into a huge tidal wave of anxiety, depression, and fear.  However, I refuse to live my life in that manner, especially while a little life depends on and resides within me.  So I force myself to go outside, play with the dogs, and enjoy the sunshine.  I’ve found this to be an especially effective technique precisely when I have the least desire to get out of bed or move at all.  

I often worry about my baby’s health.  Because I didn’t find out I was pregnant until I was 4 and a half months along, I worry about the fact that I drank occasionally and basically lived as an insomniac all semester, and especially while preparing for finals in December.  The level of stress I was dealing with during the first trimester was insane; I was working as a credit analyst at a bank while also attending grad school full-time at an elite private college that consistently tried to kick my butt. Needless to say, I barely slept from August to December, and when I WAS sleeping I was having nightmares about failing a test.  

HOWEVER: even though I was going through all of these things, this baby still managed to tough it out and stay alive, and that makes me smile because it means he is as tough as his momma:) I’ve had several ultrasounds so far (finding an OB doctor that would take me on as a patient at nearly five months pregnant is a whole other miraculous story!) and he appears to have all his limbs, fingers, toes, vital organs, and a VERY cute face.  This little guy clearly has an awesome destiny ahead of him, and I am excited to see what he grows up to accomplish. 

It’s hard coming up with excuses to avoid family gatherings.  I come from a traditional, old-money, Southern family, and my parents are the proverbial jewels from both sides.  My dad’s father is very like the patriarchal Mr. Ewing in the tv show Dallas, and the whole family kind of bows down to him.  Incidentally, he too was adopted, back in the day where women basically dropped their children off at an orphanage and never saw them again.  He’s quite the self-made man; he started his own business when he was 12, put himself through college, eloped with his boss’s daughter at age 19, and then struck oil in Texas and became extremely wealthy a year later.  While he is a brilliant businessman, he is a bit lacking on the emotional side of things sometimes and can be quite harsh and unfeeling when people do not go along with his agenda.  

He keeps calling and inviting me to go to various family gatherings and asking me when I will be coming in town for Easter.  Needless to say, I am due near the end of June so I will have to come up with legitimate excuses to avoid all of these invitations! Thankfully my parents are amazing. My heart goes out to girls who have to do this with zero support from their parents.  Know that I admire and respect out you, if you ever happen to read this.

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