featured post – “the most important thing i want you to know about our open adoption” by mackronicles

Every once in a while, I stumble upon a blog post that hits me in the gut – hard.  It’s posts like this one from Kasey of MacKronoicles that motivate me to be the best mother I can be.  Why? Because she’s honest and her relationship with her son’s parents is respectful and familial.  Talking and living OA as an extension of family is something I LOVE and wish existed in more adoptions.

While everything is GREAT with the relationship we have with our birth family I do have fears of how our daughter will feel when she’s older and wants to have that conversation with her birth mother about why she was placed.  That is a conversation I know will be hard for her to hear and  harder for her birth mother to talk about, and hell while we’re at it, HARD for me to watch her have.  But – they get to have that conversation because of the work we all put into making our family close.  It doesn’t happen this way for everyone, but I think Kacey’s post is a good reminder that fear is always present in adoption but the love we have for OUR child always comes first.

I truly believe that you have to hear everyone’s voice when considering domestic adoption and this post by Kasey is probably one of the best I’ve read in a while.

I hope you will always know that it does not matter what anyone else thinks about your adoption and our family. It doesn’t matter what your future classmates think, what people on the internet think, what people who write movies/TV shows think, or what the guy at the grocery store thinks. It only matters what YOU think. I hope you never feel ashamed to tell someone you are adopted, but I also hope you never feel like you have to explain your adoption to everyone…

ALL OF THAT

Head over to Kasey’s kick-ass post “The most important things I want you to know about our open adoption“.

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Kasey is a wife and mother of two boys, the oldest placed in a wide open adoption. Further self-definitions are still in progress and can be found chronicled at mackronicles.wordpress.com.

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featured post: you blissed-out moms are ruining futures

I used to volunteer with a youth group. And occasionally I would just be hanging out with the young women of this group and I would feel the need to lay some truth down. One day these young ladies were discussing another teenager who had a baby, and how cute the baby was and that they wanted to go buy this baby a cute outfit.

And after the danger of aneurysm had passed, I emphatically told these young ladies the following truths:

  • Babies will ruin your life
  • Babies may appear cute, but they are not
  • Babies will ruin your life

After this particular rant, talk, the teens seem rather shocked. Probably because I was the mother to an adorable 9-month old who I had raised since she was 5 days old in the NICU. She was my foster child, but she was my child in every other way. I loved her like nothing else in this world.

And yet I could honestly tell these young women those truths listed above. Because they are true. I further explained to my shocked teens that to really understand what it means to be a parent you have to imagine your current life ending. Over, done, no more. Not in the death sense, but in that nothing ever of your old life will remain the same. Certain elements may appear the same, but they are now seen through the lens of parenthood.

I also wanted to impart to them that yes I love my child, but that yes, it is okay to admit that being a parent can really suck sometimes. It’s not all kittens and rainbows and special Instagram photos. It’s diapers and crying and puking, good lord the puking! It’s days when you are convinced that your kid is a grade-A jerk.

And you know what makes being a mom even harder? Other Moms. Other Mom’s who feel the same way but don’t talk about it, like a comment Janelle, of Renegade Mothering, got from a reader:

“Lots of mum’s think this but no one actually says it.”

This is dangerous writes Janelle, in response to this comment:

Though many mothers experience the struggles you talk about, think and feel the same way, they have internalized the societal expectation that they SILENCE themselves for the good of their children…But check this out, my friend: How is dishonesty and lying and the perpetuation of misogynistic expectations GOOD for my kids?

Now throw in the ALI (Adoption/Loss/Infertility) lens. After struggling to have a child for so long how many of you are afraid to ever voice frustration, concern, disappointment, or even anger about your children? Because we, of ALL people, we should just be SO GRATEFUL to finally have our child that nothing else matters. And society enforces this expectation.

I remember when Stella was a few months old I was just SO exhausted. We were still having to nurse every two hours due to her weight gain issues and unbeknownst to me at that time I was suffering from hypothyroidism, low thyroid function. I felt like walking death. I made a comment about it on Facebook, how I just needed the baby to sleep so I could sleep. And I got two comments from friends basically amounting to I should just be grateful after finally getting my miracle child.

What if I was PPD (postpartum depression)? What if that was my one way of reaching out for help? We live in an ever digitized and segmented society. Often our internet interactions are our only way of reaching out, venting, blowing off steam. And two “friends” just told me to choke it down and shut up. What if someone had instead said ‘hey, I know new Moms are always exhausted, but this seems like more than just that, have you checked in with your doctor to make sure you’re healthy?’ I don’t know if that would have helped me get my thyroid issues diagnosed faster, but it would have helped me feel better. To know that I wasn’t alone, and that someone cared about my well-being, not just my baby’s.

This trend is dangerous, we need to talk as Moms. I would say especially ALI Moms because it has been proven that ALI Moms have a much higher risk of PPD or PAD (post adoption depression). And we need to talk to show our kids that life isn’t always unicorns and lucky charms. That creates kids who don’t know what reality is, that don’t know how to handle sadness and anger and disappointment. And it creates daughters who grow up thinking they can’t talk about it, who become Moms. And that is terrifying.

Stella will always know how much I love her, how much I wanted her. But she will also hear the stories of how tired I was, how she wouldn’t nap except on me or her Dad for a month straight, how sometimes I was so tired I would just lay on the floor where she was playing and talk to her, and she would mimic me by laying down too (which is hilarious).

Infertility and Motherhood do not mean we cease to exist. Check out Janelle’s honest and inspiring post, there is so much more that she writes that is spot on and needed to be said:

You Blissed-Out Moms Are Ruining Futures

Comments here are closed so you can join in the conversation at Janelle’s blog, Renegade Mothering.

*Janelle, of Renegade Mother, retains all rights to her original content material. None of her material may be copied or otherwise transferred without her express permission.

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pail mmm 8-20-12 (2)Chandra is a Mom and Foster Mom. She holds a Master’s degree in Theology and is particularly interested in the theology of infertility. Chandra grew up in the Northeast but she and her husband are raising their daughter in the middle-of-nowhere Indiana. She has 3 chickens that drive her crazy, a huge garden, and a penchant for bacon. She occasionally attempts to make sense of all those things, and more, over at her blog, MetholicBlog. She also shares embarrassing stories about her husband and unicorns.

guest post: “New Chapters”

Julia‘s post “New Chapters” was originally posted on her personal blog, 3 Bed, 2 Bath, 1 Baby. It is being re-posted in its entirety here today with her permission. She had originally submitted an article to us regarding “The 5 Stages of Infertility Grief,” and we asked her to do the write up on it. Enjoy!

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I’ve been absent from the blog for a while.  And though I thoroughly enjoy the Toddler Town Updates (fear not, another is coming) I have something more serious to talk about today.  The state of the Uterus Address is back.

We’ve been trying since the new year for our second child.  We’ve kept it fairly quiet, as the pressure from family and friends of “Are you pregnant yet” took a VERY big toll on me emotionally and physically when we were trying for Ethan.  So, we’ve quietly been plugging along, hoping to have a second child.  My heart has been aching every 40 days as we learned yet again I wasn’t expecting, and I’d have to go through yet ANOTHER round of hoping and disappointment. It seemed like everyone in my moms group was expecting again, and I just felt… so left behind.

We put a limit of trying for one year for baby #2.  Neither of us wanted to go down the road of cascading infertility interventions, and NOBODY wants to see me on Clomid again.  My poor husband lived with an overheated girl in the middle of winter.  Snow was on the ground, and I had to keep the windows open.  But we both felt like we “should” try for another.

We kept it secret, except for a very small group of friends and family… because I didn’t want to pressure of “you’re drinking water… IS THERE SOMETHING YOU WANT TO TELL US?”  “Well you’ve had one, so the second will be easy!”  “You’re SO YOUNG.”  (Can we all have a collective sigh here?  *SIGH.*)  A co-worker even said “Well, you can just adopt! And plus you’ve had one, so the second will be easier!!”  I wanted to cry.  But instead, I smiled and said something like “Yeah, that’s not how it works. But thanks.”  She went off to teach her class, and I sat and cried.

When I originally read this article, we were in the midst of trying.  I related with so many of the stages of grief listed in relation to IF that it hurt.  Since then, the course of our lives has changed.

DENIAL: 6 cycles passed with us trying. Obviously, HPT #50 is wrong, I must pee on another “non-faulty” stick!!!!  I’m sure that’s just spotting from implantation, right?  Those crampy feelings must be that too.  And the sick feelings? Definitely NOT from overeating sushi.  Nope.

ANGER: The highs and lows of hopes going up and being dashed again and again started to take their toll.  As a sexual assault survivor, trying for a baby is triggering, and the idea of intervention again was also triggering… and then one day, we both just sat down, and the topic of baby #2 came up.  We waffled between trying and not trying for so long, I’m sure my friends in my mom group were sick of the “yes we are-no we aren’t” game… so I loathed to change again… but something happened.
We both sat down and said simultaneously  “I don’t think we should have another.”  We went through all the reasons why Ethan was enough to complete our family.

And this time it was so… easy to make the choice.

BARGAINING:  When we decided to try for baby #2, we went through many reasons in our mind as to why it was a fantastic idea.  “Ethan will have a brother!  We LOVE kids!  Won’t it be cool when it’s Christmas and we hear two sets of pattering feet?  Permanent playmates are awesome!  Only children are spoiled and lonelyyyyyyyy!*”   (*I was silly to buy into this one, I’m an only and neither lonely nor spoiled.)

But this time it was so… easy to make the choice.

DEPRESSION: Perhaps the guilt of it being so hard to have Ethan got me thinking that I HAD to try for another.  All that work, and stopping only at one?  You are supposed to have a brood to make up for all the medication, the trials, the ultrasounds, the surgery, the miscarriages… YOU MUST YOU MUST. YOU SHOULD YOU SHOULD.

But, it was so… easy.

ACCEPTANCE: For the past two years, I had been interested in being a Doula.  The “maybe” of #2 was keeping this dream on the back-burner.  Things just kept popping up, as if the Universe was saying “Julia, you CAN stop.  It’s okay.”

– Moms in my moms group started talking about wanting me as their Doula… I could get my practicum birth requirements completed.
-A Doula friend of mine had potential room to include me in her Doula business, giving me immediate access to clients, a friend in the business, a mentor, a partner…
-My birthday money would be almost to the penny what I’d need to get the required workshops paid for.
-A mom friend wanted to give me her library of birthing books.

It went on and on.

Nothing my husband and I have ever done has been the battle that baby #2 was. Nothing that has ever worked out for us  was this struggle and back and forth we endured.  We strongly both feel that the Universe gives us the path, and sometimes we just have to surrender to it instead of battling it. Though I spent a while mourning the loss of the baby that would never be, it was different.  More of an acknowledgement of my feelings, and excitement about the next phase in my life.

And it was so… easy.

I can’t tell you enough about the peace I now feel.  Knowing that at least for the next few years, but possibly forever, the pressure of tracking every cycle, scrutinizing every feeling I had, is over.  I look at Ethan in a new way.  In a “this is the only time I will have a child this age.”  I don’t believe in the Carpe Diem motto of parenting (because I don’t want to carpe today’s diem of him grabbing his diaper, pulling it above his head and smearing poop on his face… can you blame me?) However, I have a new focus on him.  I’m no longer planning for the baby that might not be, I’ve refocused on the one I have. Our family is complete, and I finally realized it.

It is a page I’ve turned.

And it was the best thing I’ve ever done.

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Where are you at in the 5 stages mentioned above?

Have you found yourself moving back and forth through the stages during different times in your ALI journey?

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Julia, formerly a molder of young minds, has briefly stepped away from that task to manufacture a child of her own. Along with the standard baby accessories such as hands and lips, she is planning on installing chrome side-pipes, rollbars, and a bitchin’ spoiler. She is fending off accusations that Jesse James is the true father.

featured post: “the ballad of clingy smalls” by girl’s gone child

It only takes a single glance at just the right moment, but when it happens it’s startling, and the phrase flashes through your brain– “My baby isn’t a baby anymore, is she?” This is my reality right now, with toddlers who are rounding the corner of two years old in just a few months.

Many people allude to toddlers being like tiny teenagers, and it’s true for reasons beyond their propensity for moodiness and tantrums. Toddlers exist in a state of in-between-ness, straddling babyhood and childhood with their awkward baby-mullets, their desperate desire to do something themselves when they still really can’t do it at all, and the occasional, unexpectedly precocious expressions that sometimes cross their faces. Toddlers are contradictions who speed forwards through some parts of babyhood while clinging fast to others. This is why it catches me by surprise– sitting with one of my little girls at bedtime with her sleepy eyes half-open as she’s draped over my shoulder, pacifier firmly in place (we’re going to get rid of those so soon, I keep promising) and then I realize that their legs are so long now, they’re so heavy, their hair fits perfectly into ponytails, and are these pajamas getting small already, didn’t I just buy them? And by the way, how is it she knew to pull the chair out from the table earlier and then climb onto it to reach, and spill, my iced coffee?

In those moments, I realize that I think of them as babies all day and I call them babies, but the evidence is slowly accumulating that at twenty months old, they aren’t really “babies” anymore. Some days, I don’t know if I’m ready for that.

Rebecca of Girl’s Gone Child wrote a beautifully poignant piece about this phenomenon, balancing nostalgia with a measured practicality about the role of accepting fluidity and change as necessary considerations for parenting:

I almost didn’t write this post because last week, like magic, Revi let go. Maybe it was a change of scenery or maybe it was just a change but suddenly she didn’t want to cling to me anymore.

So I put her down and she went running through the yard and didn’t cry when she realized I was on the other side of the patio, walking away. But before last week, and for the past couple of months, it was a very different story.

…it helped me realize that everything is kind of preposterous. How temporary all of it is. How we’re all trying to find answers and clubs and groups to help us figure out how to define everything but we’re really just trying to define a moment. Because you can’t “babywear” a ten year old, you know? You can’t breastfeed a teenager. You can’t call yourself a Freerange Grandparent. We’re all just working through the moments. Doing what’s best for our kids. Revi wants to be held all the time. Meanwhile, I let Bo go running down the beach with her siblings. Freerange attachment parent class of 2013, that’s me.

A friend of mine with three boys ages nine and up recently remarked upon how long it’s been since she measured her own mothering successes and failures in terms of breastfeeding, sleep training, or pacifier use. And it’s true– in the beginning, when we’re trying to define ourselves as parents (sometimes as the parents of newborns and young infants; sometimes as the adoptive parents of older children), we patch labels and philosophies onto ourselves like bumper stickers on a funky old car. The question “what kind of mother am I?” is often answered, in our own minds, with a list of the sort of things we do to or with our children. You can test this theory in nearly any alternative parenting forum online that contains signatures in users’ postings: “I’m a co-sleeping, extended-breastfeeding, cloth diapering mama of 3!” There’s nothing at all wrong with this, mind you; it’s part of how I define my parenting style when asked. When your children are still very little the reality of parenting them is in the nuances of stamina and baby-care style, not in negotiating friendship crises and the frustration of academic struggles. But Rebecca, like my friend with the three boys, has older children and has been in the parenting game a bit longer than I have, and so her perspective on her identity as a mother is different from mine.

That isn’t all of it, though. This post is a two-parter for me in a big way because of what she says next:

Most of the time we’re taking this parenting thing way too seriously. Myself included. I mean, sure, we need to be awesome. But putting labels on philosophies and styles and children who are a little clingier than normal, feeling guilty for things we have no control over, is just….well….kind of a waste of energy.
And I realized that instead of trying to “get to the bottom of why she is the way she is”… instead of trying to understand the psychology of a twenty-month old via google and babycenter… instead of trying to “fix” or “change” her, to rush her out of her phase/issue/problem, I needed to chill out and give her what she so desperately needed. To be held.

I needed to hear that. Because my girls are late talkers and one has sensory issues we’re just starting to figure out, and I am an intermediate-level Googler and professional worrier. My early childhood degree is of no help in this arena, I promise you– parental paranoia trumps any and all useful knowledge of toddler development that I have ever learned. While the words above won’t negate our need to continue engaging Early Intervention services and potentially some outside occupational therapy, it really meant something for me to read those two short paragraphs above.

This is a phase, right? Because some day my girls will be talking loudly and incessantly and I’ll have a terrible headache and I’ll wonder if the noise will ever stop, and maybe it won’t even occur to me in that moment that once upon a time I was googling every known developmental disorder and pouring over the “could your child have this?” checklists. It’s true, because these days when my little Chicken clings to my hand and grabs desperately at my skirt, I sometimes forget that just a year ago she was the “more daring” baby who seemed to have no fear at all. It’s easy to label them once and forget that they will constantly change, and we’ll have to keep up.

It just so happens that at the moment Revi doesn’t need me to hold her every second on my lap. But last week she did and next week maybe she will again and this is the dance we do as parents of complicated human beings with complicated human being minds.

Rebecca’s entire entry is a gem. I strongly recommend reading her post, The Ballad of Clingy Smalls (and other songs), and thinking about the role labels and parenting play in your daily experience and identity as a parent. How do you define yourself and your style? What are your parenting priorities, and where were you at during other phases of your parenting experience?

As always, commenting will be closed here to encourage commenting directly on Rebecca’s blog. Thank you!

Rebecca, in her own words: Rebecca is a writer and mom of four living in Los Angeles. She blogs at girlsgonechild.net.

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It takes balls…

This is part two of our two-part feature on male factor infertility issues. Yesterday I shared an article about what it’s like for men dealing with infertility. (Click here to catch up.) Today, my husband is guest posting to give us his personal take on it. We hope you’ll enjoy and share your thoughts with us.

They are THE symbol of virility. And, for the man who really wants to make a “statement” about his manhood, he can even hang a pair from his truck bumper. Regardless of what that statement might be (that’s a blog post for another board/time), as a man who has struggled with male-factor infertility (MFI), I find the truck nut statement, regardless of what it might be, confusing. Do the balls really make the man? If so, what does that mean for a man who may be struggling to “do his part” in conceiving a child? What I’ve learned on my journey with MFI is that it’s not the circumference of one’s testicles that makes the man, but the size of his… I’m getting ahead of myself.

First, a little about my story.

It was December of 2010, Chandra and I had been married for two and a half years when we miscarried. Yes, “we.” We miscarried after months of preparations, procedures and counseling with a fertility specialist. We. Nothing can prepare you to “be a man” in the midst of a miscarriage. I’ll never forget that night: running to Walgreen’s and buying multiple pregnancy tests to “make sure” that it wasn’t a misreading; sitting in the hall as Chandra took the tests; barging in when she started bawling; and, holding her as we cried in each other’s arms on the bathroom floor.

I wish I could wax eloquently about the emotions that led to my decision to get tested. The fact of the matter is that I couldn’t bear to see my wife so heartbroken again. I had to do something. And, that something was making sure I was “doing my part.” After several “complete” examinations (and I mean complete—in 21 years when I turn 50, I’ll know exactly what to expect), it was determined that I had varicoceles that were overheating “the boys.” Surgery was the only option: a same-day surgery with a small incision just below the belt line. February of 2011 I had the surgery. I had to be horizontal for a week and no “heavy-lifting” for a week after that. Since I work in a very public setting, and I was out for two weeks, news quickly spread about me being “laid up.” And, though this was a private matter, the rumors became very public. People were spreading unflattering rumors about my balls. Seriously, I’m a pastor not a porn star. It was strange that otherwise great people felt it their responsibility to provide commentary on something they knew nothing about. The rumors were embarrassing and spread quickly. Nevertheless, I stayed quiet and let the rumors circulate and run their course without saying much of anything. But, I shouldn’t have. I should have said something then, but I didn’t. So, I’m going to say it now…

Male factor infertility doesn’t make you less of a man.

Manhood is not defined by the circumference (or the productivity) of the testicles hanging between your legs (or from the bumper of your truck!). The true measure of a man is his ability to see the truth of a situation and do something about it.

Male factor infertility is a real issue that we (especially men) can’t ignore. According to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine:

“about one-third of infertility can be attributed to male alone factors.”[i]

It’s a common issue. By saying and doing nothing, we are diminishing our manhood. Denying the truth of a situation doesn’t help anyone. Let me be clear: being open about and dealing with male factor infertility will “take a lot of balls.” It takes courage to talk about, find answers to, and go through treatments (if there are any) for MFI; but, in the end, it’ll make us all better men.

Male factor infertility isn’t easy to talk about. I know that. This is really the first time in three years that I’ve written or spoken so openly about it. I know, statistically, I’m not alone on this journey, but there aren’t many other men who are willing to talk about male factor infertility. “It takes balls” to tell your story. I’ve found and shared mine. Will you?

What’s your story?


Has male-factor infertility affected or influenced the way you understand manhood?

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daddy unicornChandra is a Mom and Foster Mom. She holds a Master’s degree in Theology and is particularly interested in the theology of infertility. Chandra’s husband has *balls* and she is so crazy in love with him it’s not even funny. She occasionally attempts to make sense of all those things, and more, over at her blog, MetholicBlog. She also shares embarrassing stories about her husband and unicorns, because yeah, he’s so manly he plays toy unicorns with his daughter, Stella, and they have magical adventures together.


[i] “Men’s Health: Male Factor Infertility” at OSU.edu <http://medicalcenter.osu.edu/patientcare/healthcare_services/mens_health/male_factor_infertility/Pages/index.aspx> Accessed June 19, 2013.

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