Thursday, December 31, 2009

Goodbye, 2009

Goodbye, 2009, and good riddance. I was ready for you to be over by April.

Spring and summer were overtaken by my dad's sudden and severe health issues. It started out in the winter with just some leg pain and weakness, but within months, it became clear it was not a routine problem. The big worry initially was multiple sclerosis, which was scary enough to think it could take his life in the coming years. Then one night in April, the bomb was dropped that ALS was the greater concern. All of a sudden, we were talking about the time he had left, and it wasn't years... it was months. I sat in utter and complete shock, then totally lost it. Then I hyperventilated and had to put my head below my knees just to be able to calm down enough to catch my breath.

Tests, more tests, doctors, more doctors, waiting, more waiting. No one seemed to be able to figure it out, so we hung in the balance, thinking my dad might well be dying and no one could even tell us from what.

We got to a point of being "okay" for the moment. No imminent fear of a terminal illness, but still a healthy fear of the unknown.

Then came July. We received the shocking and horrific news that my uncle had committed suicide. He'd been separated from his wife for a while, but she and their young daughter had returned home recently. They had a fight one night -- who knows what about -- and he barricaded himself in a closet where he kept his guns. His daughter, not much older than mine, was home at the time. I have no words.

It was the first time, and what I pray will be the last, someone I knew died at their own hands and by their own choosing. I couldn't get over what he could have possibly been thinking, and how any parent could put that on their child, and willingly be absent to watch the rest of their lives. And what is more -- none of us has any reason to believe he ever accepted Christ as his Savior. This was also the first time, and what I also pray will be the last (but know it likely won't be), that someone I knew died and went into an eternal hell, separated from God forever. It's so permanent, and so devastating, that I literally cannot wrap my mind around it.

The summer wasn't over yet. Sassy's mom announced her unexpected pregnancy. And she was due in the same month as Sassy's second birthday. And she was having another girl. And if you think that didn't come with a truckload of mixed emotions for me, you're darn well mistaken.

A dear member of Sassy's biological family broke the news that she and her husband were dealing with infertility. My heart ached for her, because I know so very well what it feels like when everyone around you is carrying a precious baby, and you are not. She cried a lot, but came to a point of acceptance of it, as best as you can. How thrilled I was to receive a surprise phone call from her one Monday out of the blue... she'd had a positive pregnancy test that morning! Completely in shock and over the moon, she wanted to share her wonderful news, and I couldn't have been happier for her or more honored that she'd included us in her "important people to tell right away" list.

A few short emails followed, and the news was not good. Bleeding, trips to the emergency room, and no heartbeat. The baby stopped growing. She waited to lose her precious little one, dying inside her. The miscarriage was only days after that phone call.

Ordinary problems and simple inconveniences seem so small, comparatively speaking. Who can remember that our brake lights decided to stop working in our car, or the subsequent eighty-seven trips to the car dealer to have the problem fixed? Who even cares?

I can't lie; 2009 has been one of the most trying years of my life, and that's including the infertility years. When I felt I couldn't take any more, His arms were holding me. When I had no words to pray, He understood my tears.

Miracles happened this year. My dad, while facing the very real possibility of death at an early age, came under conviction of his years upon years of "pretending" to be a Christian. Through his illness, and by God's amazing grace, he made assurance of his salvation, and now knows that he is a child of God! This is still such a hard concept for me to fully grasp. I still find myself trying to figure it out and make sense of so many things in my childhood and early adulthood. I don't feel like it was based on a lie, but I do have some weird feelings about this realization that he wasn't saved, as we all thought he was. But, he knows for SURE now, and how could I not be thrilled about that?

My husband and I went through a difficult patch in our marriage last year, as we discovered how infertility had affected us more than either of us had understood. Many things, but none more than my dad's illness, brought us closer this year. I'm so thankful for my sweet husband. Sure, we get annoyed with each other from time to time, but I KNOW I can depend on him no matter what the years ahead will bring.

Sassy's has a new baby sister, and while it still does bring up some bittersweet feelings, all babies are miracles. I hope we are able to meet her in 2010.

In November, a miracle happened that I could never have predicted or been prepared for. We met Sassy's biological father for the first time ever. You have to understand that this is a man who had no involvement in the pregnancy (aside from conception), delivery, or adoption. None. His name was not even listed on Sassy's original birth certificate. There's been a lot of "he said, she said," but this much we know: we had no reason to believe BioDad would ever make himself known. Ever. And he willingly came to meet the daughter he'd never known, and to meet us, her parents he had no involvement in choosing. I have no idea where this will go in the future, and to be honest, we still question if it will go anywhere. But, at the VERY least, I have pictures of my daughter with BOTH of her biological parents, together. I have the memory of that day and the experience of having met him, even if it's just once. That's more than I ever thought I'd have for my little girl.

Finally, peace. A little bit of peace as this tumultuous year fades away.

And then... the phone rang at 11:30 last night. My dad was being taken by ambulance to the emergency room in extreme pain, an extension of his year-long difficulties. My mom, husband, and I spent the better portion of the night (well, morning really) in the ER with my dad, while not even morphine could touch the pain he was in to provide any relief. It was a long night. I tried to settle myself down somewhere around 4:30, and my husband didn't fall into bed for another hour beyond that. My dad was nearly admitted, but around 4:00 this morning, they decided that his pain was under control enough that they felt comfortable releasing him. He's slept most of the day, and the pain meds are keeping the intensity down for now. We think the worst is behind us... hopefully. He'll be having spinal cord surgery within a week or two, and I don't even want to think about that yet.

Whatever it's been, 2009 is done. I'm ready to go put on my pajamas, turn on my electric blanket, and snuggle up with my husband to watch the ball drop in a few minutes (and be ever so thankful I'm at home instead of out in the craziness at Times Square).

Where can I go from your Spirit?

Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
Psalm 139:7-10

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


This week, I ordered this stocking for Sassy. I love it! I've looked at it in years past and always figured I'd order after the season when it was being clearanced out, but always seemed to miss it. I was so excited to see that it's already on sale, so I ordered it. I decided to have it personalized as well, knowing it would not be here in time for Friday morning, but at least I will have it ready to go for Christmas 2010.

In Sassy's stocking (a cheap one we've had since the hospital nurses sent her home in it when she was born... it really was rather cute) this year will be:
  • a straw cup with, I think, Elmo on it (can't remember for sure, but thinking it's one of those Sesame Street characters)
  • a mini Little People set (a fairy looking one with a pet snail... ha!)
  • a board book I picked up at the Scholastic sale this summer... because I haven't gotten around to wrapping it as I'd intended
  • a baby bottle for her dollies
  • raisins (a FAVORITE snack lately)
  • dried fruit (same deal)
  • graham cracker bunnies... how cute is that?
  • an eating utensil set, because we can always use more of those, and.....
  • TRAINING PANTS!!! Woohoo! I'm so interested to see how she reacts to her "big girl panties"... and if we'll continue on this train of really enjoying using the "big potty." Hee hee!
I love stocking stuffers. None of the items were any great, expensive purchase, but they are all things she'll enjoy (I think).

Other ideas I have already for next year include:
  • bubble bath (why didn't I remember this when I was at Walmart for the second time in one day last night?)
  • hair bows and clippies
  • nail polish (I painted my toes red this morning, and she wanted hers done just the same way)
  • play jewelry
Girls are so much fun! I swear I wouldn't know what to do with a boy. :)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas gifts

A 10"x10"x15" box just arrived on our doorstep. Inside are six Christmas gifts from Sassy's first mom and grandma.

At this point in our relationship, I'm never surprised that she receives packages from them at birthday and Christmastime (which happen to be in the same month). Even with a very busy few weeks for FirstMom, I knew she'd remember.

But, my heart is always so full when things like this arrive for my girl from her first family. I have a huge grin, and I just feel warm all over.

It's SO not about the actual gifts. It's about the time, the thought, the energy that went into getting them here, and in plenty of time for Christmas Day. She's remembered and loved always, and she will have these tangible little things throughout the years as a reminder. She's one of them, and she's one of us, too.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Direct TV

We had it installed last night. I'd planned to DVR Sesame Street, Curious George, and some of Sassy's other favorite kids' shows. I probably still will, but the tech introduced us to kids' programming OnDemand.

I am in LOVE with Sprout OnDemand. So many of her favorites, and some neither of us have ever seen (or heard of) before! And they're FREE! I had no idea. I thought "OnDemand" automatically meant paying the premium for the luxury of convenience, but there are so many free programs that are kid-friendly, educational, and fun for Sassy!

I'm seeing more TV in my kid's future... *oops* But hey, it's the holiday season AND it's too cold to go outside... I've got to have a break somewhere!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Two years ago today

Two years ago today, my daughter was three days old. She lay in a hospital nursery, swaddled in pink and blue blankets, completely oblivious as to how her life was changing so drastically on that day.

Her mom, just a few doors down the hallway, signed to terminate her parental rights, allowing her second-born child to go home with a couple she'd only met a handful of times prior. To be loved and snuggled and cared for and protected by them. To be raised in a different home, a different town, and with a different last name.

A few floors below, we sat in the lobby, waiting, torn between the deep desire to be parents to this precious little girl we'd met and the horrific dread of watching a mother and child be separated permanently.

The social worker came downstairs, giving us a thumbs-up sign, which is another post for another day. It was well-intentioned, but felt so very inappropriate in that moment, and I still believe it was, although I do know she didn't mean it the way it came across. I crumpled into my husband and sobbed. They were not tears of joy, and would not be for weeks, or even months maybe.

We listened to all the legal jargon, so void of emotion, but still understandably necessary. We signed where we were told, on papers that said we were now parents. Just like that. Like someone flipped a switch from "off" to "on."

Up an elevator, through locked doors, down a hallway, around a corner, inside a hospital room sat FirstMom. I will never forget the moments that followed. As we walked into her room, she was putting the last of her belongings in her bag. Three family members assisted her. She wore a baggy brown sweater and gray sweatpants over her postpartum stomach. Her hair was pulled up out of her face, and she wore no make-up. We sat together on a little couch in her room and cried together. We hugged, we talked, we tried to laugh, and we prayed. We took a picture together. I said I couldn't leave that day feeling like we might never see her again, and she assured me we would see each other again because we were now family.

A nurse came with a wheelchair, and FirstMom left. I'll never forget watching her leave the room and out of my sight. I sobbed even harder. She was gone, and her baby, who was now my baby, still lay in the nursery, unaware.

We left the hospital that day as a family of three. It took a long time for me to feel that it was okay to be joyful about Sassy being with us. Attachment was not immediate for me, but it did come as the days went on. Sassy, on the other hand, transitioned beautifully. There were only a few occasions that I felt strongly that she might have been confused or upset, and I did everything in my power to comfort her. Even though it took me a while to feel confident in my role as her mom, I always had the instinct to protect and nurture her.

Life went on, as it always does. We've grown and changed. FirstMom has grown and changed. Choices are made. Circumstances follow. Though the loss will always be there, life does become normal again, even if it's a new normal.

On that day, we were placed with our daughter, and FirstMom went home empty-handed. Today, exactly two years later to the day, FirstMom has delivered her third child, her second daughter. Baby Sister was born this morning, and everyone is healthy. She is likely lying in a hospital nursery, swaddled in pink and blue blankets, and awaiting her discharge in a few days to go home with her mommy, the only one she's ever known.

On the exact day of the year that FirstMom lost a daughter, another daughter has been born to her whom she will not lose. Baby Sister is in no way a "replacement" for Sassy. But, I can't help but think how very ironic it is that her birthday would be today.