It’s been a minute

Waffles

Where to begin…

(I’ve been updating Instagram pretty regularly, so if you follow me there, this is likely a lot of repeat info.)

In July of last year, we were just putting the finishing touches on the kids’ room.  So much has happened, but I remember being in that season.  We were eager to complete our home study, and then we were eager to be approved, and then we were eager to receive a placement call, then we were eager to receive the right placement call.

It all felt like it was taking forever.  But finally, in September, we were approved foster parents!  Right off the bat, we received a couple of calls for kids who were older than what we’re currently comfortable with.  Then there was a long dry spell.  Finally, in the middle of November, we received a call for a 2- and 3-year-old brother set.  We jumped at the opportunity to be their parents, and then almost as quickly that ended by our my choosing and by absolutely no fault of those sweet boys, but that’s a story for another day.

Then a week later, on December 1st, we received a call about a 4-day-old baby boy.  Would you believe we actually said no at first?  We were still a bit traumatized from the first placement and needed to tie up a couple of loose ends in our personal lives.

We were both at work, and the placement worker called me twice and texted me about this baby boy before I had a chance to call her back.  I texted Ian, but before he and I actually had a chance to talk, I called the placement worker back and told her we still needed a few more days and we couldn’t do it.  As soon as I hung up with her, Ian was calling me.  We talked.  We didn’t know if we’d ever get to experience the newborn phase of life after dealing with infertility and the PATH classes hammering home that getting a baby is next to impossible, and here we were being given the opportunity to parent a perfectly healthy newborn.  I asked him if he felt like I could actually be a mother after our first failed attempt, he reassured me I’m capable of being a fantastic mom.

So, minutes after telling the placement worker “no”, I called her back.  My heart was pounding in my chest, not knowing if she had already found another family for him.

“Hey! It’s me, Colleen, again.”

“Hi, Colleen.”

“I know I just told you we couldn’t take him, but have you found a home for him?”

“Not yet.”

“Ok, we’ll take him!”

She let me know his caseworker would pick him up from the hospital and bring him by later that evening.  I made sure everything was in order at work and I gleefully and anxiously made my way home.  Was this really happening?

And then reality started to sink in.

We had a crib and a changing station.  We had no diapers, no burp cloths, no bottle, no baby clothes.  How much do you feed a newborn?  How often?  What do I do about his umbilical cord?  How do I know if he’s sleeping enough?  Can he sleep too much?

Thankfully, I have some really wonderful mom friends who were able to coach me through some of those first moments.  One particularly kind, generous friend Amazon Prime’d us a care package with the essentials.  I don’t know what we would have done without her gift.

And with the reality of the situation came tremendous heartache.

Our rejoicing came at a terrible loss for our foster son and his mother.  They lost each other after 3 days out of the womb together.  Mothers and children aren’t designed to be separated from each other so early on.  Every day, as my love for my foster son grows deeper, so does the ache of knowing his beginning.

But regardless of the heartache and our lack of preparedness, we still signed up to be a safe place and a loving home for this sweet boy for as long as needed.  And about four hours after we first heard of him, his case worker pulled into our driveway and brought the tiniest nugget of a baby into our home.

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And over 5 months later, Bubs is still here.  He is such a joy to have in our home and bring so much richness to our lives.

We still don’t know how long we’ll have him, and adjusting to that uncertainty is a constant struggle.  But we have him tonight, and we’ll likely have him tomorrow night, and we try as hard as we can to live in the “now” and enjoy the time we have together.

Sinclair

Please stop telling us we’ll get pregnant after we get foster kids

Or after we stop trying.  Or after we adopt.  Or after I relax (which is the worst thing to say to someone trying to have children).

Listen, I love you and I know you mean well.  And “you” isn’t one specific you.  We’ve had so many people say something along these lines to us.  They know someone (or someone who knows someone) who struggled to get pregnant so they went through the adoption process, and as soon as they received their placement, they found out they were pregnant!  Or they know someone (or someone who knows someone who knows someone) who has been trying for seven years, and they’re finally pregnant!
I am so happy for those people.  Truly.  I’m glad that their patience, perseverance, and prayers paid off.  I’m overjoyed they get the experience of growing a human, birthing a child, sleepless nights, endless feedings, poopy diapers atop poopy diapers, and all that jazz.  
And while you mean well, infertility is different for every person or couple.  Just as any child Ian and I could possibly someday conceive will be unique to the world, our struggle is unique as well.  That friend (or friend of a friend) you know, they’re not us.  Their story is not our story.  
You say it to comfort me and give me hope.  But it’s a false hope.  The reality of the situation is we’re not totally sure why we haven’t been able to conceive, we have some suspicions, but no smoking gun.  And we may never get pregnant.  I get sad about it still.  I can’t put my finger on why, but I’d bet it has something to with that maternal instinct to procreate.  If a small wave of sadness hits while I’m around you, let me weep a little.  It’s ok you can’t comfort me, and if you feel like you need to say something, just say “I’m sorry you’re going through this.  Do you want to go eat some ice cream?”
I haven’t mentioned this sooner because I wanted to cling on to the hope you were giving me.  I wanted to be that fortunate couple whose perseverance paid off.  But then our patience for having biological children ran out, and we started down a new path called foster care.
If you skimmed this post, please read from here to the end.  The reason I’m asking you to stop now is because when you say “You know, as soon as you get foster kids, you’ll get pregnant,” you’re doing something far worse than attempting to give us false hope.  You’re saying our foster children aren’t the children we’ve been waiting for.  You’re segregating our foster children from our children.  But to us, they are our children.  They are the children we’ve been waiting for.  There’s no “foster” about it.  Regardless of how long they’re ours, we are going to love them hard and become extra-attached to them—because that’s what they need and deserve. 
As our friends and family, I’m asking the same of you.  I know it’s a big ask and, for a lot of you, it’s foreign territory.  You didn’t get to rub my belly or visit us in the hospital after their birth or witness their first few months or years of life, but we need you to love them like you did.  Don’t associate the stigma of foster care with our children, there’s no reason to be scared of or timid around them, they aren’t damaged goods. 
And most importantly, stop thinking beyond them.  They’re more than enough for us, so let them be enough for you.

Preparing our home for foster care, part I

It’s been five weeks since my last post.  Partly because I’m a terrible blogger and partly because really not much has happened.  We have one PATH class left, and then it’s on to the home study process.

In the initial weeks of training, we poured over how to prepare our house.  In Tennessee, you have to select one of three age ranges (0-12, 0-18, or 6-18).  We selected 0-12, and let me tell you—trying to plan for a range of 12 years and two genders is hard.  We talked about what we were comfortable with, what ages we truly feel like we’d be most successful with, and the selfish reality of what we want knowing we’re hopeful this is a means to grow our own family.

Let me pause here and be completely clear.  Yes, we want to adopt children from foster care.  But we don’t want to do it at the expense of parents who are wholeheartedly striving to get their children back.  We want to encourage those parents, walk alongside them and set them up for success for when they are reunited with their children. 

So after many conversations, we came to the conclusion we want children on the younger end of the spectrum and we hope that our home study worker, our case worker, and the placement folks will be understanding and receptive to that.  With that in mind, we decided to turn one room into a shared bedroom for two children.  Our other bedroom will remain an office, but also house a futon to conveniently be a guest room as needed for our moms.  

And now I’m in full nesting mode.  I’ve bought so many things off Craigslist and sweet friends are beginning to offer their hand-me-downs.  


The kids’ room will have a crib/toddler bed, a twin bed, a cube storage organizer to hold books and toys, and a dresser to share.  If you have any suggestions for must have toys, books for game, let me know in the comments.  
That brings us up-to-date for the most part.  We are so excited to become parents to children for a season or forever, and already I’m incredibly thankful that our journey through infertility has brought us to this point.

Our first IUI failed

I didn’t even get to make it to the point when I could have taken a pregnancy test.  My period came 11 days after the insemination.  You should wait at least 14 days before taking a test.

I tried to guard myself, truly.  I tried to stifle my hopes.  But they were sky high and didn’t want to listen to my rational side.  The day before I got my period, I PMSed hard.  I found myself sobbing on the couch when my husband was at his basketball game.  I can’t even tell you what started the pity party.  But I sure can tell you what kept it going.  I knew my emotions were a product of my PMS, and I knew that my PMS was a product of the impending start of a new cycle.  And that moment, every month, is always the most devastating.  It’s the vicious cycle I mentioned in my first post about infertility.

The second day of my cycle (in case you’re wondering, cycle day 1 is the first day of a woman’s period), I went to the Walgreens clinic and received another MMR vaccine to take care of that “not immune to Rubella” issue.  Let me tell you, babies and kids have every right to cry after that vaccination.  Compared to the flu shot I also received, the MMR one hurt like a bitch.

As we’re trying to explore our options, Ian and I went to an introductory informational session about Bethany Christian Services.  Let’s start by saying the average wait time is about 2 years, and they are working with 25-35 families at any one time with, at most, 5 birth mothers with an adoption plan.  Also, do you know how expensive it is to adopt an infant domestically?  Well, it’s expensive – $26,000 to be exact.  I know infant adoption isn’t cheap, but I still experienced a bit of sticker shock.

Now, let me explain that I think that our child would be worth every single penny of that $26k, but Ian and I talked about adoption as an alternative to IVF (if it gets to that point).  NFC has a flat rate fee schedule for IVF, which is $9050.  It doesn’t include medications, which can easily be an additional $3000 – but I’m still leaning toward IVF.

The one really positive thing that came out of that session was being introduced to the idea of embryo donation and adoption.  If you can’t tell, I like to think 5 steps ahead.  If we get to a place where embryo adoption becomes a serious contender, I’ll be sure to write more about it.

The silver lining to not being pregnant and having to take a month off from trying (on account of the MMR vaccine) is that I can drink.  This is really only a good thing because I have a work talent show I impulsively signed up to perform in. And I’m definitely going to need a slight solid buzz to go through with it.

We’ll start trying again in mid-October, so until then…