Category Archives: Conceiving

The Lupus Puzzle

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I do not often think about my Lupus, but I have been asked several questions about it lately. The questions are perfectly polite mostly dealing with having a family or friend just diagnosed and wondering what tips or advice I have to help others. The questions always lead me to retelling my story of how I was diagnosed (while trying to get pregnant the extra Estrogen sent my body spinning). It then leads me to explain my symptoms (achy joints, severe weight loss, fatigue, fevers and depression). We talk about how hard it is to diagnose such a mysterious disease and then how hard it is to get proper treatment. I usually refer my doctor to them because he is a great rheumatoidologist and has been crucial in getting my blood levels under control. I then give a shout out to Plaquenil the miracle drug that saved my life, but I always caution its major side effect blindness (I know…a biggie, but rare). At some point they send their infertility regrets, but I share about my son that we adopted and how infertility lead us to him and how good God is to save me from sickness in a pregnancy and how trying allowed me to learn about my disease.

I know a lot of info with a simple question, but four years since being diagnosed has made this process more normal. Lupus is different for everybody so I have no idea if my story helps, but I know it shows people they are not alone. To the family I stress how tired the disease makes us feel and how every sickness could be or could not be a sign of Lupus. I stress how in an instant your body could fail you from something as small as an allergy and how I do not take one healthy day for granted as I know bad blood work could change my life in an instant. To really try to understand this disease is difficult, but it is so much more manageable than fifty years ago.

The good news is : I am currently on 3.5 mg of Prednisone and 400 mg of Plaquenil daily, but summer is coming! I am so photosensitive but love the sun! Summer is my best friend and worst enemy all at the same time!

Best holiday of the year!

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I love Thanksgiving above and beyond all other holidays.  Love the parade, time with family, eating the best food and watching football games all day.  Longhorn and Cowboy games are a tradition in this house (though both teams have greatly disappointed).  Above all it is a time to give thanks, be grateful and give glory to God.  It is not about gifts or music or lights or movies…it is about gratefulness and family.  What more could you ask for?  For those reading this blog that are hurting or lonelyimage or in a season of change…know this holiday is also about hope.  There will be peaks and valleys and I have shared this holiday during both… but seasons change and hope floats so I pray you know that God is not done with you yet!

The good news is: Callen enjoyed his first Thanksgiving chowing down!  He loved it all and even danced between bites!  We are so grateful to have a growing boy, healthy lives, healthy family and stable finances.  Things can change in an instant, but in this moment, all is well and we take today to give glory to God and appreciate it.

Christmas with a toddler

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Christmas just got better with a toddler running around.  Every ornament becomes a toy and every decoration becomes a new object to throw.  We know we will miss this someday so we embrace it, but time out has already started as he used a ball to knock down an ornament then threw against the wall.  Our sweet angel is   clever, but mama always wins!

The good news is: He is enjoying every minute of playing with my Christmas decorations and to be honest I am enjoying watching him!

When God speaks…

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So my heart is still so heavy with all the loss, pain and challenges friends/strangers are experiencing. Some of the situations I know personally and others I read through social media and yet they still have impacted me. Their stories have made me cling closer to God and really cry out to Him on their behalf. I feel so many thoughts and emotions that I don’t know what else to do but write. I feel selfish writing about myself in a time like this, but my experiences are all I have. I also feel compelled to take my challenges and use them as an opportunity to encourage, comfort and help those that may need it like I did when I was going through the fire. The blessing of hardships is you learn from them and then can use that knowledge to comfort others. Today, I wanted to share a few specific times God spoke to me…

1. God spoke to me during a dark time in my college years. Did I listen? No. But he was calling me to stop and turn around. He gave me a way out time and time again, placed people in my life that knew I was getting out of control and even punished me in ways that I should have seen the destruction that was still ahead. Sadly, I pressed on and took a lot of hard falls because of it, but He spoke nonetheless. He tried. Later when I fell flat on my face…he picked me up and showed me grace. Amazing grace. God speaks through people and circumstances.

2. God spoke to me on the toilet during my separation. You may know my husband and I separated for two years. One year we lived a part and one year we just ignored each other or argued. Still don’t know how we are standing here today, but praise Jesus we are and celebrating ten years in November! (Yes, we count the two years that were doomed because we were still married!) I remember I kept trying to fix it. I would send a text, write a letter, make a phone call to him or make a phone call to her or just call a friend to see what they knew. I tried to fix it over and over and over again and it was exhausting. Until one day, I was contemplating my next move while peeing (probably peeing..who knows) and distinctly felt God speak to my heart “Stop!” Stopping to me felt like giving up, so I did not take this message lightly, but he said it again…”Stop!” When He finally got my attention he stirred in my Heart “Do nothing.”
What? The marriage will end…
He responded…if you keep doing what you are doing it will end anyway.
I argued some more before finally letting Him win and stopped trying to fix it and let Him take control. The hardest six months of my life followed in that I did nothing. I tended to our home, tended to my work, tended to my personal growth and the needs of others and just let God be God. We are still married today because in the silence God changed my husband’s heart. During that storm of life (by far the hardest thing I have ever endured and I have Lupus and infertility), God reminded me to keep my eyes on Him during the storm. “Watch me-keep your eyes on me.” I love the quote “God might be doing the most when it appears like He is doing nothing at all.” God speaks to your heart and He speaks in the silence.

3. God spoke to me through a Bible verse about my Lupus. Psalms 103:3. I read it one night before bed and it turned on a light that God is in control of this disease and healing in His hands. This gave me such comfort through infertility as well. God is the great physician. This verse was later in a song at church and it gave me such hope and strength during a tough time of feeling helpless. The song is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5sG94EKGDcU another powerful one that goes with this verse https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XtwIT8JjddM God speaks through His written word and in church (duh)…the trick is you have to read it and go.

4. God spoke through a song on the radio about the direction for my adoption. I had just visited the reproductive endocronologist (still don’t they I have ever spelled that right) and got the devastating news that pregnancy would not be in my future barring a miracle (which is always possible-but I am content that it may never happen.) I was beat down with that bad news because I had still clung to hope of IUI or IVF and we were willing to do that if he thought it would help. In his words “I could take your money and we could try, but it is not likely.” My OBGYN later said it more harshly, “Getting pregnant with your blood levels like these would be devastating to a baby and would possibly kill you.” She later went on to tell me how high risk my pregnancy would be and how I much monitoring would be needed..blah, blah, blah. I get it…no. While I sat in the parking lot of Schlotzky’s ( I eat for comfort) this song came on: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yooJzuW8XDA This song spoke to me that God has a plan for my broken reproductive system and to go where He is leading. We began the adoption process the following week. God speaks through the radio.

5. On the day we were leaving to Houston to adopt our child and I was still so frantic and worried that we would get all the way there and the birthmom would change her mind, my devotional that morning (also on the toilet–hmmm???) was from Max Lucado and it spoke about taking risks. One of the lines in the devotional and it is saved in his baby book if you think I am a lie said “Go adopt the baby.” I ran out to Nathan and showed him the devotional and said “This is it. Let’s go adopt our baby!” It was an affirmation from God (and be mindful I am hit and miss when I open my devotionals and I am not even following the dates correctly. For instance my devotional today said December 22nd…I just read them when I can.) But this one was for me and it was for peace and comfort when I needed it most. It was Him speaking to me-I am with you. God speaks in the bathroom–ha just kidding or maybe–but God speaks through devotionals.

Now, you might have noticed a trend that God speaks to me most in my hardships. Sadly, that is often the only time I am listening. I pray for you and for myself that we listen in the good times too, during times that we don’t feel like we NEED him. (But hey, if a trial brings me closer to God then bring it…not really, I am good.) But, if you ever question if God speaks-he does. Stay near to Him and in His presence and you will hear it. Through a song, a hymn, a verse, a person, a text, a blog post, a peace in your heart. It happens.

The good news is: I don’t want this post to me about me and my problems, but it might offer someone out there encouragement when they need it most. Some day soon, my posts will be more light hearted and fun, but for now, I am grieving, praising and praying for the people that need it most. I pray that you are listening to what God is speaking to you because in all of these situations God has spoken to me. Your trials have drawn me closer to Christ; they are not in vain.

Two Thumbs Up for Dad!

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When Nathan and I met 12 years ago, I tossed up the idea of one day adopting and he immediately shot it down.  I never thought I would ever be in the position to need to adopt; I just always thought it was a beautiful thing.  I grew up in a home where we took in foster kids, I always enjoyed helping in church ministry with youth in the Dallas area and I have always had a weak spot for adorable African American boys…I have never shied away from the idea of adoption.  However, my husband had a different view and I understood and just prayed his heart would change if the time ever called for it. 

Advance ten years later and HE is the one pursuing adoption vigorously despite my many concerns.  He was the one who felt led in his heart to abandon fertility treatments and adopt.  To him, it was God’s plan for our family and he went forward full force.  Throughout the process, he was the rock.  Despite a rocky beginning, God changed his heart and Nathan is the best father.  Nathan will play with him like a best buddy-they play ball, chase, run, build with blocks, wrestle, cook in the kitchen etc.  He teaches him high five, fist bump, “achoo”, slam dunks, show me your muscles etc.  They sing songs, read books, take walks, go for swims, and even play with a baby doll or animal now and then.  He is very hands on, he is the fun one and he is the one that seems to teach him the new things.  Callen adores him and looks up to him and can’t get enough of him.

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Nathan stays home with him up three days a week and is his sole care taker while I am at work.  Nathan works nights and will wake up early to be there for his swim class.  We go to all of his appointments together.  He never misses anything Callen is involved in even if it means Nathan gets no sleep.  Nathan works extra jobs so that he can have nice clothes, shoes or go on vacation or fun outings.  Nathan is the man of all men and an amazing dad.  We never consider Callen to be adopted; in fact we forget about it most of the time…he is our son.  But when I stop to consider, Nathan’s complete devotion and our complete surrender to this boy that we work hard so that he will inherit ALL that we have…it is our goal that every need is secure and that college and other opportunities are covered.  We work to give it all to him someday-and he does not have our genes or blood-God chose him to be our son.  Adoption is a beautiful thing and it mirrors Christ’s love for us as his adopted children. 

I fall in love with Nathan more watching him as a father.  Devoted, loyal, responsible and sacrificial.  It makes me cringe for those stories of dads not wanting to be involved because Nathan would not have it any other way.  I never knew about his fatherly skills when I married him, but I now I see God did well to bring us together.  He has never regretted not having a biological child because he was destined to be the dad to this one. 

The good news is: Callen hit the daddy jackpot.  He is learning so much from him including character, godliness, how to pray, how to lead, how to be physically fit and how to serve others.  He is learning how to care for ladies and love his mother.  Callen is learning how to be a good husband and firm father.  I am so proud of the man my husband is to me, but most importantly to him.  He is willing to take on more than half of the role and step up whenever I need him without fail.  Two thumbs up for dad!

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Infertile, Adoptive Mom

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I attended the Mother’s Day service with my parents at their church.  I say their church even though it was the church home I grew up in.  I knew the best gift that I could give my mother was to worship with her and the whole family so I surprised her and she loved it.

The preacher did a great job of acknowledging all aspects of Mother’s Day and pointed out that for many this was a challenging day.  He proceeded to read a long list of Mother’s Day feelings including “For those that lost their mother…we mourn with you.”  “For those that are expecting a baby…we celebrate with you.”  But the two that hit home for me were:

“For those that are infertile….we wait and pray with you.”

“For those adoptive moms…we thank you and need you.”

I fit in a few other groups in his list, but these two struck me.  I am an infertile and adoptive mom.  How can I be an infertile mom?  Well, I am.  I adopted a sweet baby boy, but that does not take away the infertility.  The sting still hurts.  Do I dwell on it?  No way!  Life is too short and it is what it is, but adoption and all the joys of motherhood do not erase that my body is broken.  It does not erase the memories of waiting, counting, testing, crying, asking, documenting etc.  I get infertility.  I get trying medications that made me crazy.  I get asking doctors to do more testing while trying to stay calm.  I get the two week wait where I put my life on hold.  I also get giving up and just living.  I get researching reproductive endocronologists and learning how to spell that.  I get vials and vials of blood work.  I get looking at an empty womb on a sonogram.  I get asking my husband to endure more invasive tests only to learn he is 100% healthy.  I get crying at night and all during the day.  I get the dreaded phone call reporting the disappointing lab results and the private meeting saying “there is nothing else we can do”.  I get taking off work because you can’t fake it anymore and you don’t want to try.  I get praying and reading scripture for meaning and then hearing a song that leads you straight to adoption.  I get infertility in an all too real way.

Thankfully, I also get adopting.  I get filling out a inquiry sheet and then going in for an interview.  I get the mounds of paperwork including criminal background checks, references, medical checkups, home studies, floor plans and safety plans of our home, submitting financial documents and pay check stubs and tax returns proving financial stability, the infamous adoption book that I labored for two months over.  I get meeting home study groups and discussing with other adoptive parents.  I get waiting and waiting and waiting. I get taking a phone call that would change our lives three weeks before the bably was born then preparing for a boy with only 20 days left.  I get meeting a birthmother and then hoping she likes me and hoping she does not change her mind unless it is God’s will then I pray for her to parent wisely.  I get going to the hospital for her planned Caesaren and then getting to know her for four days while we shared parenting responsibilities.  I get not knowing who should get up when he cried or needed to be changed and then I get not having the words when it was time to leave the hospital.  Watching her wince from her scars, seeing tears in her eyes and yet knowing we were driving four hours in the opposite direction.  I get her anticipation every time I post a new pic or give a new update.  I hold so much of her heart in my arms at night.  I get all that, too.

 

At the end of the day I am blessed to be a mom no matter how it all happened.  I am blessed to have empathy for the infertile in such a way that I can respond when asked what to say. So many don’t have the words or scriptures and I do. I can also respond when people ask about adoption and how it works, where do they start and what to expect. I can also relate to bottle feeding, putting a baby to bed, feeding solids, bathtime and everything baby because I have been there, too.

The good news is: I am blessed with the experiences that I have had and as we celebrate the one year anniversary of Callen’s adoption day…I am thankful for them all. I am especially grateful for a family that has accepted adoption and God’s plan for our lives with no hesitation and that his birthparents love us unconditionally and love to watch him grow. I am thankful for a husband that does not think twice about genetics when preparing to pass our full inheritance on to him. He is our son and he will get everything we work for and more. Our goal is to support him so that he can have it all. I am proud to be an infertile, adoptive mom because I am proud to be Callen’s mom.

Sibling Day

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A few weeks ago, Facebook celebrated Sibling Day.  I am raising an only child, so I was a little perplexed about his future as a possible non sibling.  We are a couple that cannot get pregnant naturally, but adoption is challenging and I cannot imagine going through that process again.  I will not say never…but I will say that God would have to put it on our heart for us to consider it.  Now, we do believe that God has great things in store for us if he is an only child, but we both came from families with siblings and we both experience the bliss of being an aunt and uncle so we want those things for him.

Thank God he has it.

He has biological siblings that were also blessed through adoption.  In fact, in March we got to meet one of his biological brothers.  Amazing how you can love a stranger because he has the blood/genes of your son; I love him because he is part of Callen.  I pray for his well being because I know that his life directly affects my son. 

We got to see them play, hug, laugh, scream, eat, share and learn together.  Callen loved being a little brother and accepted all the help that his older brother could give.  This relationship gives me peace.  Knowing that we can create a relationship where he can experience brotherhood if he wants to is a blessing.  I look forward to seeing what the future has in store for not just them, but for us as well.