Monthly Archives: March 2013

Parent Rant-crazy long post!

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I have always had opinions of news and media since I am a teacher. I often think of my role as a motivator and guide to adolescent behavior, but it all changed when I became a parent. I can’t listen to news the same way, see bullying the same way or read articles of human behavior in the same light. I am constantly thinking, “What if that were my child?” “What if I was his/her parent?” The love I have for my son makes me a little more possessive and a lot more aware of his innocence and my role to protect him. I am sure every parent can relate. What used to be just hard to hear now becomes painfully disturbing.

I came across this Facebook article that has been shared by several of my friends. I have to say that I never considered half of these things as a girl living my life without kids, but now I consider them all as a parent to a future man…

20 Things a Mother Should Tell Her Son
(I have added my two cents in parentheses.)

1. Play a sport. It will teach you how to win honorably, lose gracefully, respect authority, work with others, manage your time and stay out of trouble. And maybe even throw or catch.
(Being on a team will give you the opportunity to think of someone more than yourself. I love the quote play for the name on the front of the jersey and not the name on the back.)

2. You will set the tone for the sexual relationship, so don’t take something away from her that you can’t give back. (God discourages sexual immorality for no other reason then to protect you. I have had to learn from so many mistakes, but I will stop there.)

3. Use careful aim when you pee. Somebody’s got to clean that up, you know. (Learn how to clean a bathroom and you will never go potty the same.)

4. Save money when you’re young because you’re going to need it some day. (You never want to be so poor that you have to beg for food, but never so rich that you don’t appreciate the blessings.)

5. Allow me to introduce you to the dishwasher, oven, washing machine, iron, vacuum, mop and broom. Now please go use them. (Help mom clean the house and then help your future wife…cleaning is NOT a woman’s job!)

6. Pray and be a spiritual leader. (This is why you were created. Lead your family to know Jesus by modeling your relationship with Him. With much power comes much responsibility so be a leader worth following.)

7. Don’t ever be a bully and don’t ever start a fight, but if some idiot clocks you, please defend yourself. (Yes, avoid it all cost, especially with gangs, guns and retaliation, but if you have to fight then fight to win. Also, defend others if called to step up especially those that cannot help themselves.) Side note: I dread the almost inevitable black eye from fighting.

8. Your knowledge and education is something that nobody can take away from you. (Words are powerful and wisdom is the best thing you can pray to receive.)

9. Treat women kindly. It is a long time to live alone and it’s even longer to live with somebody who hates your guts. (Consider every girl and woman as if she were your mother, grandmother or your cousin. How would you want others to treat these dear women in your life?)

10. Take pride in your appearance. (People will treat you in the manner that you present yourself. How do you want to be seen?)

11. Be strong and tender at the same time. (Grown men cry and great men know how to talk about their feelings and communicate!)

12. A woman can do everything that you can do. This includes her having a successful career and you changing diapers at 3 A.M. Mutual respect is the key to a good relationship. (AMEN! Keep your expectations realistic and be humble enough to serve others.)

13. “Yes ma’am” and “yes sir” still go a long way. (These words can change a conversation instantly.)

14. The reason that they’re called “private parts” is because they’re “private”. Please do not scratch them in public. (Ha! Try not to talk about them outside of the locker room.)

15. Peer pressure is a scary thing. Be a good leader and others will follow. (Choose your friends wisely. Bad company corrupts good character.)

16. Bringing her flowers for no reason is always a good idea. (Loving others for no reason is always a good idea.)

17. Be patriotic. (Be willing to die for something bigger than yourself.)

18. Potty humor isn’t the only thing that’s humorous. (Don’t talk about nastiness in front of girls.)

19. Please choose your spouse wisely. My daughter-in-law will be the gatekeeper for me spending time with you and my grandchildren. (This makes me rethink my relationship with my mother in law. Now that I have a son I see the value in him having a good wife that wants a good relationship with me. I cry thinking of losing him forever to another girl, but will be grateful if someone will love him as much as I do and will take care of him the same or better than me all the days of his life.)

20. Remember to call your mother because I might be missing you. (I am crying now. I will be missing you. One call from you will change everything. You have that control to completely make a person’s day…raising you will always be one of the best decisions I ever made. Your mother loves you.)

I have added my commentary in parenthesis, but one more hit my mind as I watched a 20/20 news report of some teens being put on trial for the rape of girl. It was bad enough the boys so flippantly and carelessly took advantage of a girl; sadly, however, this did not shock me. We live in a world where hormones and sex controls peoples’ thinking. We lack self control and discipline in a society that says “Make me happy.” (Side note: the first reaction is to blame the parents, but those boys had a conscious. It surpassed I taught you better and landed into where is your heart?) No, what shocked me more in watching this was their lack of empathy toward their actions. The lack of empathy of everyone involved. They not only laughed at what they were doing…they were texting, tweeting, videoing and messaging others about it. They were documenting it for the world to see. Don’t tweet what you wish you could delete!

As a teacher I see this a lot. A disconnect of how others may feel in the situation. I will not get started on how everyone needs Jesus even though I feel it is hard to love others when you don’t understand what love is. But I think what it means to be human has been lost. It angers me these young men could abuse this girl, but it angers me just as much that no one tried to stop it. None of the witnesses (and there were many) did anything to slow this insane train of human indecency. I pray my son is the change he wants to see in this world.

My number one pet peeve working in schools is how students that report an incident or share what they saw become the snitch. Students will lie or refuse to speak in fear of being the snitch. I often tell kids,” Oh so you have morals to not tell on your friend, but you don’t mind that someone’s money was stolen?” “It is not okay to report the fight, but it is okay to beat someone down to the point that they are injured.” Maybe just maybe you should have encouraged your friend to stop the disrespectful act so there would be nothing to tell. Maybe the better idea is to live in a world where we don’t need to “snitch” because people choose to do the right thing. Maybe your friend should never have put you in that situation. Sadly, our moral compass says that all is okay as long as we don’t get caught.

If I were to add a number to the list above I would tell my son “To think of others before yourself.” When deciding whether or not to act, ask yourself what if that were me? “Live worthy of the calling” Instant messages are in fact instant and can never be taken back. Delete buttons do not delete everything. Use technology for the advancement of society and not to ruin it. Make your word your word. Do the right thing even if it is unpopular and finally “It takes courage to stand up and speak and courage to sit down and listen.” Be the son of God you were created to be and the rest will fall into place.

The good news is: I pray to have fifty plus years or more to teach all these lessons, but the greatest lesson I can leave is to live by example. Show him my love of the Lord and encourage him to develop his own relationship and live by faith. I hope he knows he was made with a purpose. Finally, to love, love and love some more. Love never fails.

Side, side note…all of this is from the perspective of a woman…I can only imagine what my husband would teach him! To be honest, I don’t want to know.

Life Science Sucks!

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The past two years I have been teaching science to fifth graders and I have learned a lot to say the least.  We discuss it all in fifth grade from gravity to tides, force to sedimentary rock.  Most lessons I enjoy teaching, but I always cringe when we get to the life science unit.  The key to life science is the need to survive.  The need to get energy and thrive through the life cycle.  A species continuing to exist through the process of reproduction.

There it is: reproduction.

Hard to teach on a subject so close to my heart.   Hard to teach when my reproductive organs are broken and labeled infertile.  Infertile…weird word. Obviously none of this is mentioned in my fifth grade science class, but we throw out the cycle so easily like it is simple or natural and for many people it is not.  It is down right impossible.  Girls are in my room right now learning it all like it is so routine and just part of your numbered days.  For many it is…for MANY it is, but for me it is not…at least not when we began to try.  

Don’t read me wrong-adoption is the greatest thing that happened to our family.  We love our son and we love the opportunity to be parents.  It is our calling by God and his best for our life, but it does not take away the pain of infertility.  My body is still broken by most biology standards. The reality of it all is we are still unable to carry a biological baby and when I teach the life science unit I feel different.

I feel like the natural process of life has stopped for my husband and I.  We will still be parents to our son through the miracle of adoption.  Adoption gives hope to the hopeless and without it I would never be a parent.  Bottom line.  I needed adoption to be able to parent a child and my son needed a family that had the resources to raise him.  It was all done with the most sacrificial love possible and all is just a glimpse of God’s love for us all.  It is God’s best for me, but sometimes His best is not easy.  While teaching life science, it is not easy.

Not only does it feel like my body cannot produce offspring like the textbook says it should, but there are all kinds of sticky situations when we get to inherited traits.  My son will not have any of my or my husband’s inherited traits and we have some good ones.  That is hard.  It is hard to think that my son will have all of our learned behaviors.  He will be us through the things that we teach him and the environment we expose him to.  However, he won’t have our ears or eyes or nose and that is hard to grasp at times. 

We are so thankful to his birthparents for creating this perfect child then allowing us to parent him.  To look at their eyes and ears and height and nose then, in love, let him experience the family they always wished they had, but couldn’t give.  Maybe in writing this instead of feeling sorry for myself I should just feel blessed that a loving parent would give so much to an infertile woman.  Maybe I should be thankful that life science doesn’t work out perfectly all the time.  Maybe I should be thankful that we live in a society where families are created differently and that my husband and I with my broken reproductive system can still see a glimpse of ourselves in a human being.

Whatever the result, I now have a mission to protect my child and be his advocate during the days that he will learn all about life science.  As he asks questions about his inherited traits or how he came to be part of our family then I will get to share not just about life science, but about the process of love.  As I was sharing my thoughts on inherited traits to my students, they asked me when I will share with our son that he is adopted.  They assumed I would wait until he was 18 and keep it a secret until then. (To be honest, it sounds like they watch too much Punky Brewster or Different Strokes…I think both had episodes on adoption.) I declared not a chance…he is already hearing about it now and will continue to know all the days of his life.  His adoption is not a secret or something bad to kept hidden.  His adoption is an unexplainable beauty that cannot be reasoned through the life cycle or in a science book.  How two people would have the ability to procreate this miracle of life in all their unique traits of themselves, but more importantly the unique traits of God as he is made in His image, then placed into a family where he can thrive and grow is beyond reasoning.  How these lives are all in the right place and time to intersect at the exact moment where I need them and they need me is beyond an equation or formula.  How years of questioning and doubt if I would ever call a child my own can turn into bath time at eight and a bottle by nine is beyond me. 

For me, today, life science sucked since it was a reminder that my body is broken.  But, I am thankful for the science of life that created that human sleeping in a crib in my home even though I did not grow him. 

The good news is: we’ll figure it all together when it is time.  We’ll answer the questions that need to be answered and learn from each other what a science book doesn’t say.  Why a simple process done by animals throughout the forest is hard for some and impossible for others.  How even though he is not us, he is so much like us in a way that can’t be described.  And how in the middle of it all is a love of a creator that makes the impossible possible. 

No life science unit can explain all that.

Help me to accept the things I cannot change…

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ImageSo my Spring Break is winding down and I am having to accept that I will be returning to work tomorrow.  I have had a great week of playing, loving, taking pictures and exploring with not just my baby, but my husband as well.  Being married to an officer is never easy, but he is off during the week, so when I am off too then it makes it fun.  I learned there are 58 more days before summer vacation so I have a lot to look forward to.  I hate that he is getting older, but as he gets older, there are new journeys to explore so I am excited.

Now, this post might be more of a pity party, but I feel like I do pretty well by focusing on the positive, so it is good to reveal both sides.  I am after all a real person with real feelings and it is good to explore them both.  I have had to really dwell on this prayer lately “Help me to accept the things that I cannot change…” 

In the process of this infertility journey, I learned I have an autoimmune disease called Lupus.  For many, it takes years to be diagnosed of the illness.  It would have probably taken me many years if it wasn’t for trying to get pregnant.  My gynocologist put me on Clomid, even though I was having regular cycles, since that is what many doctors do after a year of trying.  I guess they call it step one in infertility problems.  For me, it tore my body up.  It awoke a beast that had been laying dormant and dropped my blood levels to depths so low that the diagnosis was inevitable.  In all this, I went to a endocronologist (I spelled that wrong, but it is an infertility doctor) and he confirmed what the blood work already showed…Lupus has tricked up my body into believing it is menopausal.  The doctor could not explain it.  My hormone levels were low, but my eggs were full.  The blood levels were bad, but the eggs were healthy.  Many would stubbornly push forward and try to get pregnant, but my brave doctor told me the truth.  We have done this experiment and it failed.  The hormones that you would need to successfully carry this pregnancy have already been taken and “it would mess you up”.  You can go back to my earlier posts to read the whole story, but that is it in a nutshell.  Many women with Lupus have healthy pregnancies and kids, but this girl and her disease was not having it.  That is the strange thing about Lupus…it shows itself differently in each case.  It was a blessing to not get pregnant as it would have been a nightmare for me…if 50 mg of Clomid did that much damage then imagine the rest of the pregnancy.  Being infertile I cannot change.

I cannot change my bad dental history.  I felt like my teeth were perfect..I got braces at a young age, but I love my smile.  It might be the best thing about me.  I have a nice smile…my parents paid a lot of money for it, but it is nice.  Again, Lupus, has created several problems with my teeth including cavities all the time.  I blame Lupus because autoimmune diseases are known for drying out your mouth and building bacteria.  Since I have been diagnosed, I have had six cavities in a matter of six months.  I can’t catch a break.  I brush often, floss often and even use an electric toothbrush and yet they found another cavity that might require a root canal.  (to be fair, I have a large gap in my teeth where food can get stuck so it might not be the Lupus, but we’ll blame it anyway).  I have already spent hundreds of dollars on teeth work and it looks like I will be spending hundreds more.  I do drink sodas (one a day) so I might have to give that up next, but I don’t want to unless I know that it will help.  I feel like no matter what I do it will always be a problem.  Well, in the process of the bad cavities, x rays have revealed that the braces have eroded the roots to my four front teeth.  It is called root resorbtion and it is not very common, but does happen from braces.  Basically, my front teeth are already loose with the possibility of falling out sooner than later.  Imagine that…being toothless at forty!  My fear is them fallling out randomly and looking homeless.  I have to remind myself it is cosmetic and can be fixed (my grandmother wore dentures at thirty) and that it is not the end of the world, but for a girl that loves to smile…it is a nightmare.  In learning of my teeth problems, I have to give up chewing gum which I love!!  I feel like it is Lent forever since I am giving up my love of gum.  I cannot change that I have Lupus and I cannot change that if I am going to lose my teeth it will have to be from a good steak rather than Hubba Bubba.  (I am now praying for them to stay in as long as possible and grow roots where there are none…If I can keep them until sixty then I will be like all my friends that are missing teeth or have already died.)

Finally, the summer has reminded me that my autoimmune disease is still there with the effects of the sun.  I love the outdoors and love working out and a lot that had to be put on hold last summer to accomodate the disease.  I am now on meds and feel better than ever, but my reality is that one illness or one allergy can trigger a huge physical malfunction so I must be careful.  My medication works great, my symptoms are mild, but I take care of myself so I must continue to not overstress my body with intense workouts or sitting in the sun all day.  Allergies used to be a problem, but with this disease it is a trigger to meltdown and being sick is no fun…ever!  I also have to remember that i am a mom now and my health is more important than ever.  I want to run outside all day, I want to bathe in the sun, I want to play soccer games until I am exhausted, but I also want to walk tomorrow and not feeling every muscle ache so I must monitor my activity.  Thankfully, my flares have been at a minimum and I am able to be a great a mom as any healthy human being; but the sun reminds me that it is not always my friend.  I cannot change my body including my small hump on my nose that I want to get surgically fixed because I cringe at my profile, but my husband says “no way”…Okay…I feel better. 

Finally, we posted the pic above on our Facebook pages today.  God, I love that kid!  However, someone who clearly does not check Facebook very much unknowingly wrote “He looks like….wait, who’s kid is that?”  I wanted to write “Don’t tell him he is adopted…it will blow our cover”  or “He should thank God that he does not have our genetics because he has a shot at being a professional athlete!” But, I was vetoed by the hubs and told to leave it alone.  The person is a very nice person and probably has no idea that he is adopted and did not mean anything by it.  I know he’s adopted, my friends know he is adopted and our son will know that he is adopted, but it hit hard that all the world may not know.  We live in a world where adoption is the exception and not the norm and although we love that we adopted him and he is better than any child that we could never create, it is still a reminder that I didn’t birth him.  I cannot change that he is not genetically our offspring.  I cannot change that if he looks like us it is just a coincidence and I cannot change that this will be a conversation that we will have for the rest of his life and ours.

I know, I know….WHHHHAAAAAA…whine me a river you blessed bit*&%*(!  I warned you it was my pity party.  I love this baby dearly and am thankful that all those things (except the teeth) happened because it lead me to him.  I love that our story is not the norm and that we have a community of people that we can relate to through the power of Jesus.  We know this is God’s plan for our lives because his footsteps are everywhere.  Little things had to have happened such as being at the right church to meet the right person to lead us to AIM.  Or being chosen and put on hold for two months so that our birth mom could choose us later.  We know that we are in the midst of God’s great plan, but it still does not change that I have a disease and that I have a baby yet was never pregnant.  I have to accept that and accept that with our adoption will come assumptions and we will have to have long talks about biology and destiny.  I just didn’t expect to be reminded of all that all at the same time.  So my pity party and long post is now over…thanks for reading.

The good news is: in feeling all these feelings I have come to the conclusion if I could change it all I wouldn’t.  I would still be infertile if it meant I could adopt Callen.  I would still have Lupus if it meant that I could save my money and time by not doing IUI or IVF since it would jack me up anyway.  Bad teeth are a small price to pay for a healthy liver, kidneys and heart (I am fortunate).   I just wanted to share with my blogging world what has been in my head and heart lately.  It brings me closer to God so I guess it ain’t all that bad.  God knows it isn’t all easy, but He also knows all the good that has come from it.  Not even God wanted me to go through this trouble, but we live in an imperfect world where bad things do happen. However, I am not alone. He says to do everything without complaining so I guess I should just shut my mouth and thank Him.  So, thank you, God for being with me down the road less traveled.

The Hardest Thing to Do…

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So, I am up late reading blogs and went from being overly ecstatic that it is my Spring Break to overly emotional as I read blogs about infertility and adoption.  So many women are writing how I feel or have felt and some are even stirring interesting topics that I did not even know I had an opinion about.  I love when thoughts are formed from feelings that I never knew were there.  In a future blog maybe I will write about those ideas, but tonight I want to focus on a big one that took me a long time to get to. (Side note: I have no idea what it feels like to have a miscarriage or to lose a child unexpectedly. My heart goes out to those that have, but I know what it is like to be told that your hormones are so low and getting pregnant is so dangerous that conceiving is not an option-ever)

My husband and I were never the type that wanted to be parents from the beginning.  We both got married at 24/25 (it felt old then, but we look back and think we were so young).  We knew we wanted time for just us two so we laughed at those that had kids so quickly.  We enjoyed our late nights and selfish spending.  We enjoyed exotic vacations.  We learned later that the time was necessary to build a stronger marriage.  If we had gotten pregnant earlier we would probably have a biological child, but either in an unhealthy marriage for the kid or divorced.  100% guarantee. The link to our marriage story is included…don’t judge us, but it’s true.  https://vimeo.com/54825100

When I learned I had Lupus, that was the number one question in my mind “Did I wait too long to have children?”  You know the age old thought is the thirties too late?  It is easy to begin to doubt or regret, but knowing what our marriage needed to endure, I kept going back to no.  No, His timing was perfect and we were not meant to have kids any sooner.  I kept reminding myself that kids in a broken marriage would be a disaster…we were not ready.  Saying all that we are literally the LAST ones to have babies!  The last.  It did not get hard until we hit thirty and even then we were in no rush.  In fact, we enjoyed trying.  We kept believing that we would get pregnant at any time so to enjoy the moment.  After year one, we got a little anxious, but it wasn’t until I got the news that I was infertile did it hit hard.  We dealt with it privately and kept it mostly to ourselves.  Not out of shame, but out of “it is not their business”. 

Baby showers were hard, kids’ parties were hard, pregnancies were hard, baby talk was hard.  We go to church so we were flooded with God says you should make babies.  We were trying, people!!  But here is the deal…you have two choices in your pain.  You can be happy for others or let their happiness bring you down.  It was the hardest thing I ever had to do and I was not always good at it.  Towards the end I was very bad at it, but I kept believing “Their happiness does not determine my happiness.”  Nathan said it like this, “Their story is not our story and God’s plan for their life is not His plan for our life.”   Did that mean that God wanted me to be infertile?  NO!  But he brought good from it.  I supported others even when I did not feel like it because I knew my days were coming. I did not always do it without crying or having a margarita first…I am sure I showed up to many showers drunk 🙂 but I showed up and later they were there at mine (sober I think)!

All my friends understood if I didn’t go.  In fact, they encouraged me not to come, but I would never get that invite back, that party back, that shower back or that birthday back.  Life was going on with or without me and I chose to live it.  I believed that my moment of celebration would be coming and I would want everyone to fully support me when that day did occur.

Celebrate they did.  We have such an outpouring of love from friends, family and strangers with the adoption of our son.  They know our journey.  They know our struggle.  They know our triumph.  They know our faith.  They know that all those little baby steps led us to this BIG step and that our child is perfectly timed and perfectly us even though our blood is not in him.

So, if you are in that moment where life has beat you down and you just can’t take it then know you need to do what you need to do.  Your true friends will always love you no matter what and they get it.  We get it.  I get it, but consider a different approach and remember that others’ happiness does not determine your happiness and good things can happen to them AND you.  God’s blessings for them have no direct effect for his blessings on you…read that again and soak it in…it has been my greatest life lesson to avoid Facebook jealousy. Also, if you experience joy in the midst of their heartache then that is okay, too.  There is a season and time for everything.  Trust that.

The good news is: Please know my heart is not trying to seem cold or say get over it. Far from it! Infertility hurts and that pain is real. All of it is challenging. I am just sharing that my in my journey I learned that I could not live life based on other people’s circumstances. I had to trust that my day would come and it would be just as good and in some ways my day felt better than even my best dreams. Our son is amazing! He sleeps through the night, he has a full head of hair, he is the chillest baby ever…he smiles all the time and he is healthy! He was created in God’s image to do good things that God prepared in advance for him to do. We are just a small piece fulfilling God’s plan in a much larger puzzle.