Thursday, July 28, 2011

A few thoughts from the past

I've been spending way too much time looking at family photos for our adoption profile.  I'm working on a website about our family and need to create 4 scrapbook pages about us for the infamous BOOK of waiting families.  As I was going through photos I found this:
A photo of the medications for my first round of IVF.  I know--holy crap, right?  The best part?  The Valium for the transfer. :)  I had never seen so many syringes in my life!  I never thought I'd be able to give myself a shot, but I did it!  And, I was blessed to have people help me with the tough ones in my back/butt--Jamie (he hated every minute), my mom (she watched videos online to prep), Wendy (she learned form my mom), Barb (not her favorite part of scrapbooking weekend, I am sure!) and Kari (my friend's mom that was a nurse--that was a SMOOTH shot).  When I first saw this photo today, I thought, "Thank goodness this part of my life is over (maybe)."  Then I remembered all of the feelings of hope I had when I opened this box...we didn't know why we couldn't get pregnant, but we were sure that IVF would bring us the family we so desperately wanted.  And, we were wrong.  And, that scares me.  I don't want to be wrong about adoption.  I don't want any more grief or loss...I just want another child to love and care for.  I keep telling myself to let go of my fears, this is a new chapter and that in the end I will know that we followed our hearts. 

FYI--I spared you the photo of my bruised belly.  The bruises weren't as bad as I expected then to be.  And, I noticed my belly was flatter back then.  What's up with that? 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Please keep your adoption horror stories to yourself, people!

Today we went out to lunch, Jamie ran into someone he knew and we started visiting.  During the conversation he asked if we "just" had one kid.  (I can't tell you how much I hate that question!  He's not JUST one kid, he's our miracle.)  Anyway, our typical response was, "Yes."  Our new response is, "Yes, but we've recently been approved to adopt through Lutheran Social Service's domestic infant adoption program."  We got a nice response, "Oh, my nephews have each adopted domestically and it's been great for them."  (I like those comments.)  Then his tone switched, "It was quite a nightmare at first, one of them was placed with a little girl and her birth mother took her back after nearly 60 days."  Thanks, but no thanks, don't want to hear it.  I remember a friend of mine that adopted told me that the adoption horror stories would begin as soon as we started telling people we were adopting.  For the most part we've gotten great response and positive stories, but we've gotten quite a few doozers, too.  We KNOW the risk, we've read the stories and statistics, but we don't have much of a choice if we want to grow our family.  It's not like we've chosen this path without a lot of research and prayer.  We're certain that the risk will be worth the many, many rewards of growing our family.  And, don't call my kid a "just"! Thanks for letting me rant.... :)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Our anniversary--a celebration of 8 years

We decided to splurge this year and go on a mini anniversary trip. I am SO glad we did! It's hard to make a decision like that when we are trying to save for our adoption, but we know focusing on our marriage is important, too.  Especially with the year we've hard.  We had a great time--although we were only gone 2 nights, we were so relaxed it seemed like much longer--as a good vacation should!!

Dipping our feet in Red Wing....

About to head out for dinner (this photo was taken at The St. James Hotel) 

Enjoying some great beverages and lunch at Nelson Creameries.  YUM! 

Great lunch at Nelson Creameries!

A nice scenic overlook in Wisconsin called Buena Vista Park.

Our anniversary dinner was at A to Z Pizza Farm.  Fun and delicious!  Every Tuesday this farm serves fresh wood fire pizzas.  You get a pizza and need to bring everything else yourself!

My side had roasted beets, onions and goat cheese.  YUM.  Like our fancy plates and wine glasses?

Our dinner dates.  A group next to us had an accordion and were playing awesome modern music--it was so fun!


It's not hard to figure out why we want "more"....

The other night Jamie got Griffin ready for bed.  I went in to give him a kiss goodnight and Griffin said to me, "Mom, you make my heart happy."  {Mom's heart melted.}  I told him that he made my heart happy, too.  Then he said, "My heart is tickling my insides because you make me happy."  What a sweet, sweet boy.  The struggle to have a bigger family will certainly be worth it! 

3 Kids

Sometimes I have moments with Griffin that are hard for me, but let me know that we are doing the right thing for our family.  Here's one of them:

Griffin: Mom, You know Jared?
Me: Yep.
Griffin: And Barb?
Me: Yep.
Griffin: They have 3 kids. Why can't we have 3 kids.  I want 3 kids like they do.
Me: Yep, buddy, I know.  We're working on it, hopefully we'll have more kids in our family someday, too!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Verbally Approved!

Our social worker came to our home for a brief visit.  She's laid back and encouraging--she definitely makes us feel at ease.  Griffin gave her the grand tour and showed her the important parts of our house, including blocks to build a hide out, every noisy toy he owns and his new bedroom ("that he will sleep in when we have another baby"....long time from now but it's ready!).  She asked him some questions about his responsibilities around the house and some of our rules.  After some encouragement he got more comfortable and answered questions.  He definitely was showing off a bit and had a hard time not acting goofy.  It was a little tough for me to see--he's such a great kid with a wonderful personality--and he wasn't himself during the visit.  But, I am sure she's used to it.  It's always different for a kid to have a stranger in his home--and one asking questions and taking notes is even more "strange". 

We got into some tough questions, "Would you consider this....?  What would you do if....?"  Basically questions trying to determine what we would consider in a child and birth family.  What it comes down to is that we are open.  We are open, welcoming people and would welcome a child into our lives.  It's hard to put conditions on anything and be definitive, because as we well know, you never know where life could lead you.  I would have said I would never own a minivan, never do IVF, never survive 4 miscarriages, but here I am! 

At the end of our meeting she said we were verbally approved and could go on the waiting list to be in the profile book (down to a wait of 12 families trying to get in the book of 60 families).  So, that's it!  Now it's the fun stuff--develop our website and profile for the book and wait. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Garage Sale Report

We did it!  Thanks to some really great friends and my mom, we had another successful garage sale!  
We had items from over 15 people and raised $970 for our adoption fund! 
 We took over my friend Jean's garage and driveway last Saturday:
Loads of people came to shop, despite the crazy weather:

 Jean is a design rock star, so made nice signs for the sale.  The sign ranslates to, "People, adoption is expensive, please don't barter too much."
My mom finally catching a break and some water.  It was a HOT day!  Don't you love the nice patio set?  Jean donated it to the adoption sale!

Here's one of the three vehicles that were full of items for the Sheler House, The Link and the Goodwill.  I am glad that everything will be put to good use!
 Jen, me and Wendy.  Fried.  I love these ladies!!!  They were a ton of help.  Wendy gets extra kudos for delivering coffee drinks TWICE--hot in the morning and cold in the afternoon!!
Thanks for the help ladies!!


Tomorrow is the second part of our home study--our social worker will be coming to our home.  She'll get a chance to see what our daily life is like, and to meet Griffin.  I am really looking forward to her visit.  It's exciting to have the opportunity to show her our life and to finally be at the point where we are becoming approved to adopt.  Each step is making the process more real, and with that comes the reality of how much we are putting our hearts on the line.  When you become pregnant and have a child, you know that baby is yours and will be for life.  This is different.  There are so many variables, people, emotions and personalities in the mix.  It's scary.  But, we're heading into the dark because we have hope that it will lead to our dreams coming true. 

Friday, July 15, 2011

Here we go again....

So our second (and last) adoption fund garage sale is underway!  We've had a ton of generous donations from people and really appreciate the support.  We have had lots of friends give their time and items to help out.  It was going to be a one day sale (a friend's neighborhood has a big sale every year, so we thought we'd take advantage of the traffic).  It was raining this morning, but good old {that I will never trust again} said that the storms would blow over.  So, we set the monsterous sale up--we had a few people show up, but also had lots of dark strom clouds loom over us.  After the ginormous rack of women's clothing fell over, we decided we were doomed.  So, we brought everything in and worked on pricing the items that were added to the sale this morning.  Then MORE people showed up--meaning more than we had when it wasn't raining.  No one could barely move in the garage, but people dug through stuff anyway!  We'd be ready to shut the garage door, then someone else would arrive.  We ended up with about $140 in sales, not too bad for not even being open!  On top of it we sold a nice patio set via phone for $150, so we had close to a $300 garage-sale-not-open-day!  I'm hoping for no rain tomorrow and a successful sale!  Then everything will get boxed up and sent to The Link (thrift store in New London that a United Way group I am involved in helped make over) and my daycare provider's sale (we recently found out that her daughter is raising money to send care packages to the troops).  Thank goodness we have had a ton of help because garage sales are exhausting!

Wednesday night set up went smoothly thanks to these ladies!!
Barb checking out the shoe selection!

 While loading up items that we priced for the garage sale, this was sitting on our made me smile....
Like it?  It can be yours for $3!  Or maybe $2?  All of the prices are running together in my head!
Jean helping to hang things after the nasty Friday morning weather!

Jen laughing after we dragged everything in, that's about all we could do at that point! 
Check out all of the clothes behind her!!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

1st Home Study Meeting

Our 1st home study meeting went great!  We met our social worker at her office in St. Cloud and spent 3 hours visiting with her.  She is wonderful--positive, easy to talk to, and offered us lots of helpful insight.  She is adopted, which is what prompted her to go into the profession.  It was interesting to hear her story, she found out she was adopted when she was about 7. 

She talked to us about the waiting list right away, it's much longer than it's been in a while--17 families are waiting to get into the profile book of 60 families.  The families that we met during our training in April are approved and ready for adoption but, we are about 2 months behind due to our most recent miscarriage.  She recommended doing some outreach, if we are able to be connected to a birth mother without going in the profile book, this could expedite the process and save us $5,000.  But, it will be worth the wait! 

She asked us lots of questions, but the meeting felt much more like a conversation than an interview.  It was actually quite fun and easy, we talked to her about growing up, school, how we met and our favorite topic, Griffin.  She asked some "deep" questions--how do we cope with grief and loss, what types of support systems do we have in place, how do we make decisions when we don't agree, etc. 

The second part of our home study will be at our home, most likely a week from Friday (due to the state shutdown a course she was planning to teach is cancelled).  She needs to see our home to make sure that we have room for another child and that it's safe.  We have another section of questions to answer regarding our family life and it will be helpful to have Griffin involved in that piece.  I can't wait to have her meet him!

We are excited for our next steps...thanks for the support and for joining us on this journey! 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

All set to meet our social worker

Tomorrow is the day we have been looking forward to for a long time--we are meeting our adoption social worker at her office in St. Cloud to begin our home study!  It's so refreshing to not feel nervous like I did when I went to the doctor--I was concerned that my body wasn't going to respond how it should and, of course, the ultrasound appointments after we found out we were pregnant were nerve wracking.  All we have to do tomorrow is be ourselves.  So easy.  Now if I could just stay this calm throughout the whole process....good luck with that!

Due Date

As July approached and the days passed, in the back of my mind I kept thinking about the "would've beens".  If I were still pregnant I would've been.... But, it's just that, it's the would've been, not the AM.  On the day of my projected due date I was looking through some papers to find a card, and found photos that my good friend Mandi took of me when I was pregnant in January: 13 weeks, 5 days.  My IVF cycle lead to Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS), so my belly was already popping out.  I loved it.  Mandi came to visit and to take pictures of Griffin.  Jamie was out of town, and we thought it would be cute to have some belly shots taken to surprise him with.  Jamie and I had both waited for this pregnancy for a long time and fought hard to get it.  Mandi took some great photos.  Two days later I found out that our baby had died.
About two weeks later, a good friend sent me a book called Naming The Child, a wonderful book that was just what I needed at the time.  I got to an interesting part of the book where the author suggested that if you knew you were going to miscarry or have a stillbirth, to have belly photos taken--it may be one of the only photos you have of your baby.  I felt comforted knowing that Mandi gave me an incredible gift by taking those photos.  A few weeks later, she sent me copies.  She knew I wanted them, but I couldn't get myself to order them.  Again, an amazing gift.  So, on my due date, I ran across them and paused to think about our little boy that didn't make it, and the hope we still have for growing our family.
January 8, 2011

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Good: Our Anniversary

This might sound pretty pathetic, but last year I had a hard time celebrating our anniversary.  What makes it so pathetic is that I'm truly blessed to be married to him.  Here's the deal, when I walked down the aisle to him I had a vision in my head of what was to come.  Get married, have several children, drive them to soccer games and love the chaos.  It obviously didn't work that way.  Instead, about a year ago we were signing paperwork and great big checks to start IVF.  Not what I imagined life to bring us.  I knew life wasn't always going to be easy, but I certainly didn't expect the challenges to come so soon after getting married!   And, for it to involve something that I always assumed was going to be easy.  So, last year on our anniversary we went to a movie.  I didn't want to go to dinner, I was afraid I would start crying. 
This year has been more challenging than I could have imagined.  Yet, yet we are still happily married.  I've heard of many couples not getting through this, not agreeing on what to do next, if they should pursue more children or not, how much money is too much to spend.  And, we're on the same page.  Some times it's taken a while, but we get there. 
So, this year, I want to CELEBRATE!  Celebrate that our marriage has been through a lot, but we are still so happy together.  Part of me feels like we shouldn't go too crazy and should save any extra money we have for our adoption.  But, I also know it's important for us to take time for each other.  We'll be better parents for it.  So, we are thinking of a night or two away in Red Wing.  We'll see what we come up with!  And, I might start crying at dinner, but that's only because I know I am blessed beyond belief to be married to someone who has been so nurturing, kind, supportive and thoughtful during this struggle.  And, he's right by my side, fighting along with me. 

Garage Sale Round 3

Garage sale round #1 landed us a little over $1,200!  The leftover items were being stored at a friend's house and her son recently had a sale and set some of our items out, so we made another $230!  Now we are prepping for another (final?) sale at another friend's home.  They have a big neighborhood sale on Saturday, so we decided to take advantage of it.  We've had a lot of items donated (thank you to you!), including lots and lots of kids clothes (which sell well)!!  Barb and I priced quite a bit on Saturday night after a long day on the water.  Tonight Jen and Barb came over and we finished it up--a bad storm rolled through so we had to drag some of it in the basement to price for a bit.  The good news is that we found more for the sale while we were down there!
Here are some of the goodies we have to sell:
It's a ton of work to get everything together, but it's been fun spending time with friends to do so!  Thank goodness I have people willing to help!!  And, the sale part is fun--I love seeing what sells and who buys what. 
Of course, a garage sale isn't going to come close to funding a $22,000 adoption.  Have no fear, we have been saving and know that we'll somehow be able to make it work.  Part of having the sale is about raising awareness that we are adopting.  If we are connected to our birth mother privately, things may proceed faster and we will save $5,000 of the expenses through Lutheran Social Services.  It's been fun educating people about the adoption process, and it has been really uplifting for me to get support from so many people.  This process has been tough and the support of others has given us so much strength.  Just yesterday Jamie said, "Heather, if you look back over the past year and think about it, it's just a nightmare." Yep, that's why we do our best to work through the challenges one by one....when you combine them together it seems so hard to conquer. 
We're doing what we can today to make progress--prepping for a garage sale that will get us financially closer to covering our $22,000 in adoption costs!

Friday, July 8, 2011


I was given a Prayers & Blessing perpetual calendar with daily encouragements from the ladies at the office in January.  As I was leaving work today, I looked up July 13--the first day of our home study.  It reads: "If only you could see the blessings God has already prepared for you, and He's preparing in your heart right now to receive them."

I'm looking forward to more blessings!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The good that has come from our struggles: The GOOD in People

If you were to ask me if anything good has come out of our struggle with infertility, I'd say yes.  Of course, I'd rather just be able to have children easily, but at least I can see some good through all of this. 
I've always liked people, liked to be around people, saw the good in people...all that good stuff.  But, through this I have seen the GOOD in people, not just the good.  Many days I am overwhelmed with the outpouring of support that we have received from people, it brings me to tears just thinking about it.  The support gets us through, we may be going through a tough time that is difficult for people to understand, but we aren't doing it alone.  Instead of feeling bitter towards the world, I feel thankful that we are surrounded by so many caring people.  I hesitate writing about this because I don't want to seem like a big old bragger--"Look at me what what people do for me!"  And, I don't want people to read this and think, "Uh-oh, she expects me to do something extravagant for her!"  Rather,  I want to share that although this has been a tough experience (understatement), we have been blessed through it. 
Here's a small glimpse of the GOOD:
  • A woman I met in my Resolve support group recently had a baby.  One day I checked her Facebook page to see if she updated it with photos, no luck.  That night I got home and had mail from her, I opened it excitedly thinking it was a birth announcement.  Instead it was a sweet card telling me that she knows our baby would have been due soon and that she was thinking of me.  She's at home with a newborn, and she's sending me encouragement. 
  • My Cozy Urban Home cousins read about my recent miscarriage on this blog, flowers showed up the same day.  2 busy women taking the time out of their day to let me know they care.
  • Over a year ago, a friend at work had a miscarriage after the 12 week mark. Fortunately , she was able to get pregnant again, she and I were both expecting July 2011 babies (thankfully she had her baby recently!!).  Every week she checks on me, sends me thoughtful comments, reads this blog, and lets me know she is rooting for me.  She has a busy life, but takes time out to give me hope.
  • A plant showed up on our doorstep one day from an old friend....the plant was the flower from our of my very favorites.  It's now planted in our back yard--a sign of hope to look at when we hang out in the yard.
  • Lots of hands helped with our adoption garage sale.  Two women spent over 12 hours helping me price items and set up the sale (one of them baked her awesome monster cookies and sold them for the cause).  Many donated items, so many!!  Another one gave me her garage space, another took the day off of work to run the sale with me.  We're prepping for another sale and friends have been generously dropping off stuff for the sale.  They are taking the time to go through their items and home and making an effort to help us out.
  • Our loss in January lead to an outpouring of support from co-workers, friends and family.  The women at work sent over an over the top care package with everything I love in it.  A friend that lives abroad thought that baking therapy may help and sent a whole grains cookbook.  Prepared meals were delivered.  My neighbor knew my mom was far away, so she came over just to give me a hug.
  • The random emails, calls, texts, blog notes and cards are so sweet, always surprise me and let me know that we WILL get through this and that we have good people thinking of and praying for us. 
  • A few girls have truly been through it ALL with me, listening to my ups and downs, everyday struggles and still listen, cry with me and love me just the same.
People are GOOD and we are fortunate to be the recipients of the good.  I can only hope that someday I will be able to show others how good people are.


On Monday I turned 35.  I knew this would be a tough one.  It's one of those "milestone birthdays" where you think about what you'd be doing at 35.  Years ago I figured at this point I'd be driving kiddos to games, volunteering at their school and packing lots of lunches....not still trying to have kiddos with not a whole lot of luck.  Last year on my birthday I told myself that by the time I was 35 this would be behind us, we'd be through the IVF process and hopefully have a baby in our arms or on the way.  And, if not, we'd be far along in the adoption process.  Instead, our year was miserable in terms of growing our family.  Hope, loss, hope, loss, hope, loss and now back to hope.  I don't want this hope to lead to more loss. 
Had the last baby continued to grow in me, my 35th birthday would have been my 12 week mark.  Instead it was 3.5 weeks after our miscarriage.  Some days it's hard to keep telling myself it will all work out.  I've told myself that many, many times and it really doesn't seem like things always "work out".  I know in the big picture things will look better, but, losing babies in the womb will never seem like "working out" to me....especially when we know at least one of them was a healthy baby. 
So, 35 I am, and I am going to make it a good year!

Simple doctor's visit not so simple

On 6/22, I had to head back to the doctor for a follow up appointment for our recent miscarriage--this felt like the last step to be able to "move on". (Really, how do you move on from all of this....I think it's more like acceptance and coping, than moving on.)  As I walked in, my OB's nurse told me that he was running behind, so it would be a little wait.  I was grateful to sit down in the empty waiting room, a follow up appointment to a miscarriage isn't exactly where I want to be surrounded by pregnant bellies.  I grabbed a Parents magazine and thought to myself that they should have some reading material that didn't revolve around being pregnant or being a parent.  Just think of all of the women battling infertility sitting next to other women with swollen bellies and another reminder of their struggle sitting on the end tables.   Soon a pregnant woman showed up, then another and another.  My nurse popped her head out of the door to the examine rooms and said, "Heather it's going to be a while, but I don't want you to have to wait out here."  Wow, how thoughtful.  I knew I'd be fine, but it's nice to have a little TLC.  She asked if we were able to start our adoption again, so I gave her the good news that we scheduled our home study.  Again, how thoughtful. 
So, I had my exam, and my doctor left the room.  When he came back, I expected to tell him that I'd see him in the office in a year for my annual appointment.  Closure....I didn't anticipate heading back for a pregnancy appointment anytime soon.  Instead, he walked in the room with a big binder and said that he attended a reproductive conference last week.  (I secretly always hoped something like this would happen...that one of our doctors would find out why we couldn't have more children--other than the obvious things we've been diagnosed with and could remedy.)  He started talking about telomere shortening and showed me PowerPoint slides.  To sum it up in simple terms, it's premature aging of your eggs.  He spoke with another doctor that has worked with us and they agree that this could be the reason for our miscarriages, it's possible that my eggs carry short telomeres, which leads to poor embryo health.  What he said makes sense.  I produced about 25 eggs each time we did IVF (for those of you that don't know--that's A LOT).  Five days later, when it was time to transfer, I had 2 left one time and 3 left another time.  Obviously not good odds.  But, they weren't sure if it was a male or female factor issue.  He went on to say that this is in the research stage and that at this point there doesn't seem to be anything we could do about it.  He commented that one company sells a protein that they claim helps, but it's a small fortune and my doctor thinks they are simply out to make money.  So, maybe this is the case.  But, maybe not.
I was caught off guard and thought of a ton of questions after I left.  I couldn't get in touch with Jamie, and started to cry on the way home.  I thought about the great husband and father he was, and it made me feel so much guilt and pain that my body may be preventing him from having the joy of more children.  I gt home and filled Jamie in and, of course, he calmed me down.  He said that even if he knew that I could never have children, he would have married me anyway.  And, that we will have more children someday, and, I believe him.
I spent some time googling telomere shortening and got some articles from other women in my online infertility support group.   I have lots more questions for my doctors, and am not sure when I will be ready to ask them.  And, I know I should see if I can get tested for this--I was able to find a lab in Texas that tested telomere length.  At the same time I don't want to find out I am aging prematurely.  As a mom with so much to look forward to, that scares me. 
So, the simple doctor's visit wasn't so simple.