Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Today and tomorrow

Everyone handles grief in their own way. Some deny it, remembering their loss only when the moon is awake and the house is asleep; their tears join with the whispering of the wind. Others dress themselves with imaginary sackcloth; the weight on their shoulders is anything but invisible. Some busy themselves. Others merely reflect, and continue to move habitually throughout their day. Others become codependent, relying on the needs of those hurting the deepest to fill an ever-increasing void in their own hearts. I can’t explain why people die young. This is the second person I’ve known to die from pancreatic cancer. The second father, far from his year of becoming a grandfather. The second husband, still maneuvering their way through their first decade of marriage. The second person that was taken too soon, as if there is ever a time that isn’t. I often put myself in the shoes of the widowed. I try to be what I would want, all the while knowing there is nothing that could fix the now broken heart.

My daughter is going through a phase in her development where she is constantly asking what’s next. What’s second, then third Mom? Yesterday I found myself saying, “YumYum, why don’t we spend time in the present enjoying what we’re doing right now. Then later, we can enjoy what we’re doing then?”

I’ve spent my entire life preparing emotionally, physically, and spiritually for not just tomorrow, but for a decade from now, two decades from now. The one thing that death continues to teach me is that there is no day like the present. YumYum has been singing a familiar hymn incessantly since starting a new preschool last month. “This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

I close my thoughts today with this famous hymn, that maybe for at least today, I will live the tune of its melody.

This is the day
This is the day that the Lord has made
That the Lord has made
Let us rejoice
Let us rejoice and be glad in it, 
and be glad in it.

Friday, August 2, 2013

a (controversial?) labor of love

ScoobyDoo and I have recently been looking into the idea of me becoming a surrogate. There are so many families in the world that would love to conceive a child, but for one reason or another, can’t do so without risk to the mom or baby. The first time surrogacy came up was in my early twenties. A friend of mine at a restaurant that I worked at had mentioned that they were thinking about surrogacy. They had already endured several painful years of infertility, and they knew that her physically carrying  baby was not an option. I had offered to carry her baby for her of course, but because I was not married and didn’t have any of my own children – my friend said although she was appreciative, she wouldn’t recommend me being a surrogate since I had never been pregnant before. After my sister’s battle with infertility became more and more hard on her, I considered the idea of being her surrogate. Thankfully though, she became pregnant with their son, my nephew. He is just a few months younger than Smiles. Which brings us to today. I’m a healthy, active mom of two beautiful children. I am young, and willing and desiring to give that gift of life to another family, but I feel like even though it’s only the start of what I thought could become our journey, doors are closing.

As many know, I’ve had depression since I was young (13 or so). I’ve been to counselors on and off, and decided (albeit reluctantly) to start medication when I was in high school. I remember my counselor saying, and my brother-in-law advising me later on, that if I had a diabetic friend, wouldn’t I encourage them to take insulin? The counselor had confirmed that even though I was eating great, exercising above what was expected, sleeping a full eight hours- I still had depression. She said it was a chemical imbalance, which was highly likely since depression ran in my family. Depression wasn’t something I needed to fight every day, and I didn’t want to. Nevertheless, regardless of how hard I willed myself through journaling, exercising, and self-care, I would still wake up sad. Until I started taking medicine. I remember the first time Randi (my childhood counselor) asked me how I was feeling, and I could say – I feel like my old self again, and better.

It was a pride pill that I was taking, but it was called something else. Prozac. Over the years and with my two pregnancies, my medication level had to be adjusted. I learned that as we grow, our hormone levels change and fluctuate as well (go figure). I struggled with my desire to be “drug free” when I was pregnant with YumYum. I wanted so badly to be the healthy, pregnant, vibrant woman that I felt inside – and I didn’t want to need medicine to do that. I tried switching to Zoloft, which gave me terrible insomnia. This wasn’t helping me, the baby, or anything else. I tried to stop taking my prescriptions, but I tanked. I felt lower than low for no reason. I had every reason in the world to be happy, but I can’t will myself to be happy, and I struggled so badly with what affects going back on my prescriptions would have on my baby. In the end I realized that my baby would either (1) have no affect from my medications at all, and I would be healthy, (2) the baby would adverse effects from my medication, but I would be healthy and strong enough to care for her, or (3) the baby would be born healthy with no affects from any medication, but I would not be healthy or stable enough to mother or nurture her.  I decided that there was no point in bringing a baby to this world without a loving, stable, caring, and physically and emotionally present mom to be there. I went back on my recommended medications, but unfortunately, it took my body awhile to adjust back to my normal self.

YumYum was born healthy, despite an emergency caesarian (cord was wrapped around her twice). I wondered frequently after her birth if her apparent colic (which ended up being a food allergy and a slightly underdeveloped bottom) was my fault. If the caesarian was my fault. I know It WAS NOT. Satan will not have that hold on my life. And he didn’t have a hold on YumYum's life either. Despite a traumatic and painful laboring experience (all back labor, dilated to 7cm, feeling the surgeon cut me … (they didn’t wait till I was fully numb)  - none of it was my fault and none of it I could have done anything differently to change any of it. My husband was so supportive, my family was constant, and Christ’s love for me abounded in my weakness.

I decided to enroll in an outpatient therapy program at Kaiser. It was a class from 9-12 four days a week for five weeks. I learned healthy coping mechanisms, about the science of depression, and I learned that depression wasn’t something I could “get over”, undo, or ignore. But it was also something I didn’t have to fight every day.

I continued taking my same medication doses throughout our second pregnancy, which was also a surprise pregnancy (as much as a baby can be a surprise when you’re married). The nurse said I had a low-lying placenta, and that because YumYum was a cesarean birth, I was at risk for Placenta Previa. Thankfully, everything progressed just fine and Smiles too was born healthy and complete, even though, and maybe because of, the fact that that I decided to be consistent in my self-care. For me, staying on my medication was the best decision. I researched the high heavens for more information on the medications I was taking, its effects on our babies while I was pregnant and while nursing. The truth was there was just not enough information out there. I borrowed every book I could, and called and emailed my psychiatrist often. She was extremely supportive, but confirmed that there was just not enough information out there. Obviously, the less medication the better (for the baby), but like she said and I agreed, what is a healthy baby without a mom?

YumYum was still born with an Apgar score of 8 and then 9. There were no doctors present at Smiles’ birth (only THE doctor watching over us as always), and ScoobyDoo. Nevertheless, I’d give Smiles an Apgar of 10 out of 10. What a healing experience to birth Smiles at home, naturally, and into ScobbyDoo’s arms and onto my chest.

We know our family is complete, but I wanted to be a part of God giving someone else their family. There are millions of children around the world that need homes, and I praise the Lord for the families that are called and led to adopt them. But just because a family cannot physically carry a child shouldn’t mean that adoption is their only means of having a family. I would love to bless a family that way. To be a part of such a beautiful and holy (set apart, different) experience. I’ve had friends say, “But how could you give away your baby?”. It’s not my baby to give! I’m the oven, the warmer, the vessel. But God is the creator, the parents give the genes, I give the belly, and we all give the love so the baby can have a life.

If anyone is aware of a surrogacy organization in California that accepts surrogates with a history of partial placenta previa, ovarian cysts (none requiring surgery), post-partum, and currently on medication for management of depression, please let me know.

Please wait to give your criticism (of any kind), ask inappropriate questions (like how much do you get paid), or give the "but there are so many kids that need to be adopted" argument (I agree- adoption is a great opportunity that ALL couples have the option of pursuing. But I don't think that couples who are unable to carry a child should be exempt from seeing a child that is born of them. I strongly believe in adoption for those who it has been placed on their heart. I have a friend that's adopting a little girl right now, and the little girl might as well be her flesh and blood! I’m adopted myself. Although my Mom is my biological Mom, my Dad is what most people would consider my step-Dad. Except for after my Mom remarried, my would-be step-Dad adopted my sister and I. In his heart, and legally. His name is on my birth certificate, and we've called him Dad since I can remember. It is surprising to me that there are a lot of great people out there who don't think surrogacy is the right thing to do. Please realize that there are differences in opinions, but this is something that ScobbyDoo and I are prayerfully considering, whether it be for now in our lives or in the future. But because many of our family and friends follow this blog, we'd love for you to prepare your hearts ahead of time. We will need your support if this is a journey we embark on. It takes a village to raise a child, and sometimes, it takes a village to carry one too.

Not every family who is looking for a surrogate would want to use me to carry their child, and that is completely understandable. That is their utmost right and the decision I made is not necessarily every woman’s choice. But I’m not in their shoes. I’m in mine. And my husband and I’s stance is this- we would love to bless a family by carrying their child. We have no desire to contribute to the creation of this child (via sperm or egg), but we are willing and eager to be a part of their experience and welcoming into the world of parenthood-isim. :-)

God's timing may not be right now. Maybe it will be us meeting someone a few years down the road and that family will be who God was preparing us for now. God works in mysterious ways. I think it's just good to put it out there now that this is a thought/process/possibility that's been on our hearts.

Thanks for reading, and again – if you know of an organization that would be accepting of what we would like to give, or a family in need, please let us know.

Our Family.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Dear YumYum

My daughter is the most perfect and precious of children. Scooby Doo and I didn't want to call any daughter of ours "princess" as we thought it held an association with a high level of entitlement. But how can you not call Her princess? She walks around the house with her pink and blue plastic dress-up necklaces, her treasured plastic Cinderella purple shoes and jeweled crown. She approaches me with all of the grace and tenderness in the world, as if I were a baby born early. She asks, concerned, "What happened?" and points out a nickel-sized scrape, an injury probably half as severe as your most mildest of paper-cuts. She apologizes with the most sincere of apologies, and gently caresses the surface of the "owied" skin with her butter smooth (and often food-covered) fingertips. She bends down low to the ground, not wanting to move my perfectly mobile limb, and blesses me with a kiss. Her kisses are not ordinary kisses. They are not "as if" they are from The Angel; they really are from Her. Her gaze lifts and she blesses my undeserving self with the sweetest kiss I have ever received. She says in the voice of a young child, but with the heart of a wise Grandmother, "Is your owie all better now Mommy?" Maybe someday she will know that a single kiss from her, a single touch, a glance --- any one of these from here forever healed any owie from my past, and my future. Thank you My Angel; our Princess. What would I do without your kisses? I thank the Lord, and your father, for you every day.

Your Mommy


Conversations with my YumYum......

1. Mommy the moon is following me (while driving).

2. YumYum: the phone is broken mom. Fix it. YumYum, I can't fix it tight now. Can you count the trees? Okay, ill count the trees. 12233 20.

 3. You insisted on brushing your teeth while you were on the toilet. Naked. You proceeded to sit quite contently.
Belle came to your 3rd Birthday party!

4. See you later crocodile.
You loved chatting with the sheep when they visited town.

5. It's okay Smiles, I'm coming. Here Smiles, pronounced using only the first and last letter of his name. Here is your paci/water/book.
Big Sister.

6. Snuggling quietly in bed, "I love you too Mommy" (I didn't say anything first :))
You love wearing your "Turkey Day" shirt... even in June.

7. Snuggling before bed, sing my beautiful song. (Which goes something like "YumYum" you are so beautiful, very beautiful, why?, because Jesus made you. Beautiful oh beautiful... ... it's different every time.)
You pick out your clothes. You CONSTANTLY talk about things "matching".

8. Snuggling before bed, "You're beautiful Mommy"
Playing Lions.
 9. "I love that butterfly on your privates Mommy." "YumYum that butterfly is not on my privates, its on my hip." "Ok Mom, I love that butterfly on your hip."
Daddy's Girl
10. You lay everything out in the mornings. Everything. It takes you 15 minutes to get dressed, 14 minutes of which is laying out your clothes. You put everything in a perfectly straight line, each sock, each bracelet, each shoe - all lined up. You do it with your toys too.
A little bit too much like me.

 11. Can you kiss it all better Mom? Thanks Mom.

12. I like to snuggle you Mom. Here, I keep you safe.
I love your silly side.

13. We're driving through the forest Mom! (in a residential neighborhood that happened to have more greenery than usual.)

Dressing up like Poppee.

14. I'm really hungry for candy.

You're always hungry. :)

15. I'm sorry little guy (patting Smiles' back). *walks away, immediately turns back towards Smiles* its really okay my little little guy.

The way you care for your brother....

melts my heart.

16. Your hair is really crazy Mom. And my hair is really crazy. Our hair is really crazy together.

Your response to me asking you if I can put pigtails in your hair... "Look Mom! I'm so silly."

17. In the middle of the night, in her sleep, "Ice cream!"

Our 3-year old!


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Seek Justice, Love Mercy

"...and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. - Micah 6:8 (NLV)

Hi. My name is 007, and I usually follow that up with a credential or title. I have two kids, I work full time as a case manager, I've had several jobs, I've lived and grown up in the same area most of my life, ... etc. Nothing remarkable right? A long time ago at camp, I wrote down the best introduction of myself, and wanted to go by nothing else. I'm not sure when I stopped using it, but tonight I remember how much I love it.

Hi. My name is 007, and I am a child of God. I am a precious daughter of Christ; the One who made and sculpted the Universe in all of its infinity, detail, mystery- created me. Plain Jane? I think not! Created in His image I am creative, funny (yes I think God has a great sense of humor), and smart.

Who are you? What do you identify by? Your career, marital status? So and so's somebody? Or a child, preciously, intently, specifically made by Christ?