belle

I have worked in veterinary medicine for 17 years. Most people think it’s all puppies and kittens. Yes, those days truly make it better but the honest to god truth is, it’s alot of heartache.

My sister and her family had to say goodbye to their 10 year old yellow lab today.
Belle. The best darn farm dog ever.
Growing up with 3 boys was wonderful and eventful. Now trying to explain “why” and the “it’s not fair” is heartbreaking.

There. Is. No. Way. to prepare yourself.

To the “why” – because when you have a pet you take on a responsibility to love and protect it. To help it when it’s sick. To make decisions for them because they can’t.

To the “it’s not fair” – you’re right, it’s not. It’s not fair that you fall in love with animals and they live such a short life. It’s not fair that kids automatically fall in love and think they’ll live forever. And it’s definitely not fair that we are the ones that have to make the decision when it’s time to go.

But we have to. That was the deal. To love and protect.

In general it may feel too soon but it’s best to prevent the suffering. Our hearts hurt and we feel sick knowing that they love us and we have to drive them to the vet for the very last time. We help them get in and out of the car and they have no idea. We lead them into the room, tail wagging, kids crying. All the while our faithful companion follows our lead. They look into our eyes and give us one last puppy kiss. A few minutes later and it’s done. It took seconds for her to fall asleep and take her last breath. To find that peace that is rightfully hers. Our hearts feel like they’ll hurt forever.

I battle with knowing that people have to make one of the hardest decisions of their life. They may spend days or weeks preparing for the day. Some have only minutes to make a decision. I can only hope that there is peace with the decision.

Some advice… they need to know it’s ok to go. They already know you love them.

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Waiting for the moment our lives change

It’s been too long again. I guess I just haven’t been motivated. But today… Today I’m ready to write. Because today was our last home study visit!!!

I finally feel a sense of accomplishment in this crazy process. When we started with the first agency they were so intense. Don’t get me wrong, they were knowledgeable and experienced but in my opinion also unfair and unrealistic.
Our social worker with the new agency is amazing! Friendly, happy, nice, informative, normal… the list goes on. Our experience (time wise) would have been different if we didn’t already have 85% of the requirements finished but the reality of the situation is that they are just making sure you are normal and you’re doing your homework.

For what it’s worth here’s my advice/opinion for any of you interested in the adoption process or to someone who has just begun the process…

1) Investigate the agency as much as you can! Better Business Buearu, Google search, **ask the agency for references and email adresses of past adoptive families so you can contact them. And you should contact them. References are also an amazing source for future questions regarding anything adoption. They have alot of knowledge in the process and can be a huge support and great friend. Most are honored that you’re reaching out to them.
2) Don’t procrastinate. Start your paperwork right away, start going through photos and imagining what you want your profile to look like. Get fingerprinted. We did this the same day we got the order but this is what took the longest for us, not sure why.
3) Start your online classes asap. There’s a ton of classes out there to help you. You’re making lifelong decisions and it’s only fair to you and your baby that you’re as educated as possible. Our eyes were opened to so much during this process. Also, take more classes than required, read books, blogs and join forums. http://www.adoptionlearningpartners.org
4) Make memories. This is such a hectic time in your life. Take time to celebrate the little things. (I read this in a book and it proved true). After years of struggling with infertility it was so hard to celebrate the small stuff. We were robbed of that during our struggles not wanting to get our hopes up. Well ladies… it’s finally time to celebrate the little stuff! No more guilt and dang it… raise a glass full of bubbly – because you can!
5) Be open to learning; old and new things. We were required to write autobiographies with the first agency (not with the second). This was a grueling task though I recommend it anyway. No less than 6 pages and we had to delve into our deepest darkest memories. This exercise also forced us to ask the hard questions, be open to change, and plan our future. This ended up being a blessing in disguise because we learned so much about each other and ourselves.
6) Be honest. Though there were times with the first agency that I questioned my moral compass… I truly believe it was just a case of ‘awful social worker syndrome’. We were always 110% honest but it seemed that was where it went wrong. I am in no way validating dishonesty. I guess what I’m trying to say is that if you feel judged, uncomfortable or out of place… leave. It’s not worth the stress. Find a different agency or request a different social worker.
7) Be yourselves. You don’t need to have a spotless house or nice clothes. Your social worker is a normal person too. It’s not the end of the world if your dog jumps all over her but maybe you should consider obedience training anyway. Your dogs life is going to change drastically (with short notice) too so why not help the transition be a smooth one. You also don’t need to baby proof your house yet. I know this is an intimidating process and you want to make a great first impression but try not to stress.
8) Ask alot of questions. When you’re all sitting there and she’s asking if you have questions after going over 100+ pages of paperwork and your brain is overwhelmed… get her email so you can ask later. Communication with your social worker is crucial. Again I stress that if your social worker makes you feel inadequate in any way… request a new one.

I hope this helps. There’s so much more but I need to stop somewhere.

Now that we’re done(!!) our adoption profile is live. Our hopes and dreams fill the pages so that a special woman out there can make our dreams come true.

So we shared our profile on facebook. We’ve been completely open about our adventures through infertility and adoption but did not expect the insane amount of support. I was hoping 20-30 people would see/share our adoption profile… 4 days later it was shared 824 times!! Not just seen but SHARED! This means 824 people support our adoption journey and are rooting for us. We heard that friends of friends of friends and people we don’t even know shared it. This is so incredibly amazing its overwhelming!! I want to thank every. single. person. So, if you’re reading this – THANK YOU! It means more than words could ever convey.

Our monthly report from the agency stated that our profile was viewed 996 times and 6 birthmothers requested more information.

http://www.angeladoptioninc.com/birthmothers/choose-a-family/profile/paul-brenda.html

We are overwhelmed with love and support and are so excited for what’s to come.

Money, Magic and Furniture

It’s been 7 months since my last post. I’d like to have an excuse worthy of my absence but in truth I’ve been procrastinating. I had felt guilty posting on this (self proclaimed) “infertility blog” with no real news towards the baby business. But I guess this teeny tiny chunk of the webisphere is really about our “adventure” right? So, guilt be gone!

The adoption with our original agency has ceased. We’ve since moved to a different approach by using a marketing and advertising agency.  They help us with the home study, do our profile and find us a baby. The rest is up to us. This is a bold move but feel this may be a better approach for us. We are already 10 steps farther in 3 weeks than we were in 3 months with the other agency. We are thankful to the first agency for guiding us and opening our eyes to so many things.

Some of you are interested in the step by step process so here it is…

1) We filled out a very detailed online application (free – no one does that by the way)

2) We were contacted for an interview either by phone or in person – they happen to be only 20 minutes away so we met with the director for an hour long interview. We were introduced to the founders and coordinators and loved the facility. We left excited and hopeful. Hope we have not felt in many many months.

3) We were officially invited to join their program about 1 week later. We were thrilled knowing they only accept 6 new clients per month and there was only 1 opening remaining. Of course there are risks with any adoption – agency or facilitator. This is a decision you need to make before you sign the contract and send your check. It’s such a grueling thought process. Waiting families should never have to decide between money and the magic of holding a baby in their arms but the ugly truth is that it is so true. With adoption, money holds the key to love, life and happiness.

4) We received packets in the mail with homework and information on next steps. Already they’re coaching us on how to pack our bags for the hospital, what to say and not say to the birthmother, how to travel with a newborn… eeeek! This could be real… soon!

5) We secluded ourselves for an entire weekend to do our homework. We did “professional selfies” with my nice camera… I posed husband, focused, set the 10 second timer and ran! They were pretty alright for selfies 🙂  We had to dig through years of photos to find family, friends, individual, pet, holiday, vacation, hobby, and personality photos. Having a professional photography degree I am much more comfortable behind the camera than in front, so photos of myself are few and far between. We wrote our profile which was so incredibly difficult for me. The information on that page could make or break you. The birthmother could read one word or see one picture she doesn’t like and pass. The birthmother letter was the hardest… of course husband wrote his in 15 minutes and it was perfect. I stewed on mine for days and even after it’s been sent in I feel like it’s not good enough. Did I connect with the birthmother? Did I promise to make her Childs dreams come true?

5) We scheduled our first 2 (of 3) Home Study visits with our social worker. This is a loaded statement. There is so much paperwork involved in this. Classes to take, CPR certification required, fingerprinting with local, state, and FBI, birth and marriage certificates, fire evacuation plans to write, cabinets, doors and drawers to baby proof. The packet is over 50 pages. But we’ll do it and we’ll do it with pride and excitement. More on this later when the details come in…

6) We wait for our profile to be completed. They will present our paper profile now to birthmothers that are due mid 2015 and later. Once our Home Study is complete our online profile will go live immediately. That’s when this gets really real!

7) We wait for a phone call that will change our lives forever.

We bought nursery furniture today… a crib that will hold a sleeping and sometimes screaming baby, a dresser that will hold tiny baby clothing, a changing table that will see better days, a chair that will rock both of us to sleep early in the morning… We bought nursery furniture today!! Seemingly a small victory to some but we never let ourselves get excited with our past pregnancies. The old me that blamed myself for 4 miscarriages thinks that maybe that’s why they didn’t thrive… because we didn’t allow ourselves to get excited, we didn’t register at babies r us,  and we didn’t pick out a car seat.

Infertility is a fire breathing dragon that invades your brain and takes over your soul. (see Fairy tales post). I hope all of you suffering out there can find peace one day. No matter how you get there, whether it’s deciding to use medical intervention, surrogacy, adoption, or living childless. Everyone deserves to feel at peace and you’ll know when you make that decision because your world changes.

There are more posts to come… some baby related and some not so much so stay tuned!

ps  thanks for sticking with us through all this. It means the world to us knowing we have the support and more importantly, the encouragement to continue. This process has ups and downs and we signed on for that but having your support makes a world of difference. THANK YOU!

News News News!

Not sure how many of you are still out there but we’ve got progress!

I’m not sure where I left off, it’s been too long! There are many things I need to write about but I’m mentally exhausted from all the paperwork and soul searching.
Please stay tuned I promise to write more soon!

favorisert

(Norwegian for favorite)

To start, here’s a way way way overdue update…

Not much new here in the land of endless winter. It’s making me crazy(er) and I have the 7 year itch. We’ve been in Illinois for 7 years. I’ve been at my job for 7 years. We’ve been childless another 7 years. Sometimes I just want to quit work, pack our bags and move back to California. If only the things I run from would stay away but I know they’ll follow me everywhere. There will always be obstacles (insert inspirational quote of your choice here).

The adoption process is endless and nothing new to report except that I’m majorly procrastinating.

All of my infertility shots and meds were donated last week. I thought it would be a relief but instead I left the office teary eyed. I guess I was holding on to some unhealthy hope that I would need them sometime soon.

BC update – my Mirena implant was ripped out today and yes, curse words were spoken. After the initial throbbing and cramping I feel so much better already. The implant was simply not made for my teeny tiny unicornuate uterus. The theory was ideal and I wanted to give it time but each month got worse. Throbbing, burning cramps lasted for weeks, I was taking way too much ibuprofen and the cramps caused dizziness to the point where I felt I was going to pass out. The doc said we gave it a good college try 🙂  So now that we know implants are out of the question I have to remember to take a pill. At the same time. Everyday. Good luck to me.

As the first day of spring melts the remaining snow I leave you with no promise that I will be back any time soon. I simply don’t have the energy or time to dig deep right now. Chicago’s VERY short summer is upon us and it’s filled to the brim.

I’ve been meaning to post about a few of my favorite things/people so here are a few (quick) plugs… I promise you’ll love them!

I’m sure you’ve seen a version of this floating around on Pinterest and Etsy. This woman is amazing! She can personalize anything from fingerprints, sound waves, dog noses and paw prints to lip print impressions! My necklace is one of my most prized possessions. Find Jackie from Rock My World here…  www.custommade.com/by/rockmyworldinc

Custom nose necklace of my chihuahua, Gucci

“Gucci”

Birchbox is like a breath of fresh air. Once a month (for $10) a box arrives full of high end samples ranging from perfume, makeup, coffee/tea, lotions, etc. There are boxes for men too ($20/month) which have high end samples but cool things like socks and phone accessories too! They’re genius and I’m their ideal sucker consumer.  Highly recommended for yourself or as a gift.     www.Birchbox.com

Last but not least… my other prized possession. Gifted to me from my amazing family and made by the wonderful Amanda at Lady and the Stamp. She was generous enough to add a fourth set of footprints and angel charm after my last mc (for free). Her website is full of praise and photos of her work. Thanks for giving me something to cherish forever, I love it! www.LadyandtheStamp.us

Chicago

I have a love hate relationship with Chicago. The hustle and bustle is sometimes fun and exciting. It’s also frustrating and terrible.
I’m sitting in Starbucks on Michigan Ave. writing this, people watching and trying to keep my mind from wandering.
I wanted our current journey of Adoption to be honest, and it has been, but I’ve been hiding. We’re kind of over all the excitement and now it’s the nervous waiting of whether the agency will approve us. You see, after you pour your heart out to your counselor, write your life stories for all to read, let them pick through your past with a fine tooth comb and pay $$$$$ they still get to decide if you’d be a good parent. THEY GET TO DECIDE IF YOU’D BE A GOOD PARENT. Not the testimonials from us, our parents, family and friends. THEY, who have only met face to face with us a hand full of times, decide if we get to continue. This is such a helpless process. The books I read about adopting after infertility recognize the complete control we once had while going through fertility treatments and now the complete loss of control as horrifying for adoptive parents.
Now to bring us back to why I’m people watching on a beautifully snowy Michigan Ave… I’m waiting for another “evaluation” by the agency’s therapist. Because of depression and anxiety in our past history we have been sent to another person to pick our brains and make sure we are fit to parent. The records and phone calls from ALL of our doctors wasn’t proof enough. Do I sound bitter? Sorry. It’s just that who the H E Double hockey sticks does not suffer from depression and anxiety after going through what we did. After suffering 4 miscarriages and struggling with IF for 6 1/2 years. Who doesn’t have skeletons in their closet? If you say you don’t your lying. It could be the teeeeniest thing that happened 15 years ago. First they guilt and scare you into telling them EVERY little detail… Then they guilt and scare you into thinking you’re terrible people for seeking help to get through hard times.
Ok. Done. My rant is over. Let’s hope this is no big deal. But if it is… It’s ok. We’re ok. There are other ways to adopt, tons of other agencies, and we have THE BEST support group EVER thanks to you all. This agency is nothing if not thorough and I’m so glad they are focused on the child which is the only thing that is really important in this situation.
So there’s my “honest” interpretation on our current events. We are also working on our DCFS licensing packet which is very intimidating. Once that is submitted it takes 1-3 months for them to process the 2 inch thick packet. In the meantime we have more classes to take, books to read and cupboards to childproof.
Thanks to you all for your ongoing support and interest in our process. We love discussing and teaching our friends and family about everything we’re learning so if you have questions please feel free to ask. I’ve known many people who have adopted but never got the details so hopefully this opens the eyes to some of the obstacles along the way.

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Thankful

A month ago I met with my amazing OBGYN, we’ll call her JS, to discuss our decision to adopt and what to do about preventing future heartache and loss. She’s been with me from the very beginning of our infertility journey. I’m so lucky she is in my life. Some of you probably think I’m crazy but if you’re a fellow IFer and have spent more time with your doctors than your own family, you know what I mean. Not only do they know you “inside and out” but they become a friend whose suffered, cried, laughed and rejoiced along with you. JS and her nurses have been so good to us, one nurse in particular changed my life. I got to see her today for the first time since she discovered my unicornuate uterus. I still remember every second that played out during that appointment. I cried today as I hugged and thanked her for changing my life. She frowned until I told her I’d had pain my entire life because of it and she “cured” me.

I went in today to get the Mire.na (5 yr birth control implant)… you might be thinking why? Well, to catch some of you up to speed… I can get pregnant (with help) but my uterus is too small to carry a baby to term. There is some controversy over this because there are some fellow UUers that I know who have gotten pregnant without help and have had completely normal pregnancies (even twins to term!). The truth is… everyone is different. We chose to stop trying completely. It’s not worth the risk to my health or to the babys. We also signed an agreement with the adoption agency that we would stop all fertility treatments when we got to a certain point in the adoption process. I am SOOOOO sick of taking pills so we decided to do the IUD (implant). However, with my small uterus the Mire.na is not really recommended. So I’ll go into a study group again where they’ll monitor my progress. Gotta love being a guinea pig, right? If the IUD doesn’t work out, JS offered to “tie my tube” (“tube” because I only have one), but I’m not sure how I feel about that quite yet. Plus, if we’re gonna go that far I think Husband should consider a snip snip 😉

Now for the graphic part……… Stop reading now if you get grossed out easily by womanly functions…………….. Last chance…………………..
First of all, Mire.na is implanted while you have AF. Gross, but it wasn’t as bad as I expected. Last night I had to take misoprostal to dilate by cervix (people who have given birth do not need to do this), it also causes contractions so I had a fun night. I had used this medication before so I knew to take it right before bed to help with the pain.
I wasn’t really prepared for this procedure. They told be to take Motrin a couple hours before to help with cramping but hot damn did it hurt! My exact words to JS were “Holy Hell that hurts!” and then “Fudge!!!!” which is when she laughed and said she was finished. I’m sure I drew attention from anyone walking past the room as I was yelling too! This has been the most painful procedure yet… ouch. Husband better appreciate it! My IUD was implanted with ultrasound guidance which not the usual situation. I return in 2 weeks for a follow up ultrasound to make sure it’s staying put.

So. Long story short… today was a good day! Interesting. But good 🙂 We’re waiting for our adoption counselor to call after she receives our packet in the mail. Stay tuned!

Step 2… but really it’s step 149

It’s 9pm and we Just sealed the envelope to our “next step” in the adoption process.
This is step 2… Included in step 2 are a hundred little itty bitty baby steps which gave me 20 50 new grey hairs.
Last I left off, we had completed our required 8 hour Adoption 101 class. Since then we’ve been working on homework, both mutual and individual. We’re both reading 2 books required by our counselor and starting online courses.

1) Application – which required personal information, medical information, volunteer history, debt, mortgage details and references
2) Adoption 101 homework
3) Budget
4) Childcare facility tours
5) Calling the school district for ethnicity percentages of students and teachers
6) Family tree
7) Listing personality traits for our family members and ourselves
8) Signing releases for medical records
9) Autobiographies – I thought this was going to be the hardest part, Wrong.
-Where were you born?
-How were you raised? Who raised you? How were you disciplined? For what? How?
-Explain your relationships, past & present, with your families.
-How are you similar/dissimilar to your mother/father?
-Describe specific times you felt disappointed in life, explain.
-Describe significant relationships and losses in your childhood. Describe how they were handled.
-Explain your faith/spirituality.
-What do you do for fun? Do you drink/smoke, do drugs?
-What is your educational background? Work history?
-How did we meet? Explain your relationship. What are the strengths/weaknesses in your marriage?
This list goes on forever! After our 14 pages of combined autobiography-awesomeness we moved on to the…
10) Cultural Awareness Questionnaire. This has been the hardest part so far!
-What race/ethnicity you are open to adopting to and why?
-Have you ever been in a situation where you were the minority, what happened? How did you feel? How did you handle prejudice?
-How will you raise a child in a multi-cultural home?
-How will you deal with discrimination?
-How do you plan on telling your child you decided to adopt a different race?
-How does your family feel about you adopting a different race?
-How do you plan on integrating your childs ethnicity into your daily life?
-Identify “Cultural Consultants” for yourself and role models for your future child.
This list also goes on and on.

“Step 2” has been eye opening, soul searching, heartbreaking and healing. I’m appreciative of this process. These are things we never would have asked ourselves or each other. We both learned things about each other that we may have never discussed. We’re excited for our next meeting with our counselor and continuing the home study process.

When we began this process I searched for “real” information but came up empty handed. I hope to give you an honest interpretation of the process. Not all agencies are the same and I may be overwhelmed at times but please bear with me. We still need and appreciate your support.

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Moral of the story

Before you read this post please read the post prior…

Moral of the story? 2 people fall in love, get married, the world starts out simple and idealistic, then you’re forced to face your Dragons.

EVERYONE has a Dragon.

Our “Dragon” being infertility.

I could go on forever about this analogy but will spare you the details for now. I’ve written 2 very long and elaborate posts before this one. I figured if I wanted to keep you interested I had to leave you wanting a little more, right?

If you are a new reader… Welcome. If you’ve been with us from the beginning… Thank you. Here’s a run down…

After 10 years of marriage, 6 years of trying to start a family, 4 miscarriages and utter heartbreaks, countless specialists, experimental trials/medications and thousands of dollars spent… we have finally slayed our Dragon. Now before you go and rub my belly, we are not pregnant but we are going to be parents. Not in 9 months like a traditional family, in fact, we have no idea when. Some use the phrase “paper pregnant” when referring to……..ADOPTION!

We have a very long road ahead of us and it’s not going to be easy. It has already proven to be the most emotional, gratifying, draining, self reflecting journey I’ve ever experienced – and it’s only just begun.

So to give you a brief rendition on our newest chapter in “UnicornuateAdventures”…

Last month we attended an adoption orientation at the agency we chose (which was also quite a process). 3 days later we mailed our registration form and essay, 2 days after that we got an email from the director, and the next day a call from our assigned counselor. 3 days later we met with our counselor for a nerve racking 2 hour assessment. We discussed things people with children don’t even talk about until their kids are 10 years old. All absolutely necessary for this process but grueling. She’d write things down in her notebook after we answered a question and I’d think – “OMG, I said something wrong! What did I even say?! What the *bleep* is she writing! She’s never going to approve us if I can’t answer this crazy question! I have no idea what she’s even talking about! We have too many issues!” Then she’d laugh with us, put me out of my misery and then the interrogating would continue. How do you feel about vaccines, spanking, corporal punishment? Here’s a 3 inch binder full of homework, resources, online classes and forms to fill out. Phew!

Thankfully, we had 2 weeks to recover before our next meeting. Today we attended an 8 hour class with 12 other couples called “Adoption 101”. It started by gaining another 100 page packet to add to our binder with more worksheets and homework. This class, similar to the orientation, was full of valuable information and testimonials. We heard from adoptive parents, a birth mother, a 49 year old adoptee and his mother who broke my heart and healed it all in 10 minutes time, and children age 2 to 7 years old.

Next, we tackle our homework and start our individual autobiographies before meeting with our counselor again and attending another all day class at the hospital in 2 weeks.

There’s some controversy out there about when to announce your intent to adopt. If there is anything I’ve learned from this journey it’s to speak up. This blog has given us an endless amount of support from all over the world and we couldn’t ask for more.

Thank you

Fairy tales

“Once upon a time lived a Princess so beautiful both inside and out that every man in her parents’ realm longed to marry her. After many months of grueling challenges, a noble, kind, and handsome Prince won her hand and they were married.

As they left the palace of her parents to make their own way in the world, the young people were given the blessings of the monarchs, who presented them with a carefully drawn map. On it were plotted the roads and the rivers, the mountains and the mansions, the forests and the fields, the towns and the trading posts of their known world. It was a beautiful map, complete in every way – for as far as it went, that is.

For, all around the edge of the map, beyond the blue of the wide sea and the purple of the impenetrable mountains, were printed warnings in bold red ink, “DANGER. Here there be Dragons!”

With the map in hand, the Prince and the Princess set off into the world. On the first day they traveled through a deep forest. The Prince, intent upon reaching the other side as quickly as possible, hacked away at the underbrush with his sword. Meanwhile, the Princess, following behind, examined the lovely flowers and moss beneath the trees and frequently noted a bird fluttering by or a small animal scurrying across a path. The Prince became impatient with her dawdling. She, on the other hand, found it difficult to understand why he was in so big a hurry on this honeymoon trip.

On the second day the couple faced a mountain range. Each assessed the situation and offered an opinion for dealing with the obstacle. The Prince saw the quickest route as straight over the top and suggested that they abandon unnecessary gear and climb the rocks. The Princess, on the other hand, was intensely curious about what they would find in the valley created by the stream that skirted the mountain. She suggested that they take the time to go around the mountain rather than risk injury by going over it.

They entered a small cave to rest and reflect and make a decision. As they sat on the stones at the entrance to the cave, each suddenly sensed that they were not alone.

The Prince felt a looming, ominous presence, the Princess the warm glow of a fire. They turned together to face… a Dragon”.