Friday, September 30, 2011

Gray *** Updated 10/3 ***

ETA: I just received a comment from a reader, informing me that more changes are taking place on the blog in question. Therefore if you click the links to that blog, you may not be reading the same things I read when I wrote this post.

Not the child in question
Did you ever know someone who was happy enough to be a mother/father, but didn't actually want to parent their child?

I have. Several, in fact. My biological dad. My ex-husband. And even, at times, certain family members (who shall remain nameless so as not to hurt their feelings.)

And then there was this family that my family knew well. 20 years ago, my momma babysat for them. She started sitting for them when the girl was small, and the mom was single. Mom got into a relationship, was pregnant, and had a son. Mom and dad lived together and took care of the kids together.

Mom and dad lived a lifestyle that made it really difficult for me to respect their choices... especially now that I am a parent myself. When she was pregnant, mom smoked, drank to excess, and used drugs. The baby had many health issues when he was born (FAS among them) and continues to have other long-term health issues, even as an adult. Even when the baby came home from a stay in the NICU, they did things like put beer in his bottle so that he would go to sleep.

Now, don't get me wrong. The kids had a home, food, clothes, etc. Their immediate physical needs were met. When they were older, they went to school. My mom babysat for them a lot, and when I got old enough, I babysat for them, sometimes at their house. I don't think the kids were ever neglected according to the legal definition. But the parents lived a lifestyle that, as an adult, I believe shows that while they wanted their kids, they didn't want to parent them. Drugs, alcohol, and I believe (although I never saw it happen) physical abuse would be how I summed up these kids' childhood.

When the little boy was about 18 months old, DCFS (Dept. of Children and Family Services) showed up at my parent's door on a Saturday morning. My parents were shocked, and immediately began questioning what they could have done wrong to warrant this attention. As it turned out, DCFS was there to interview my parents about this family, and to ask if they would take temporary custody of the kids. My folks spoke with the DCFS worker, and the kids came to our house for the weekend.

DCFS became involved after a neighbor had called the police on Saturday morning when they saw the little boy jumping all over while locked inside the dad's car. Upon inspection, the neighbor found the dad, apparently dead, laying across the front seat. (Turns out he was just totally passed out... drunk, and possibly with more substances in his blood- my parents didn't tell me.) Long story short, eventually the little boy ended up in the custody of DCFS... and then my parents.

I don't know what happened to this on the legal side of things- if any charges were filed against the dad, or if there was an investigation by DCFS. I do know that the boy was returned to his parents within a day or two, and he continued to live with them. My parents and family (including me and my sister) continued to babysit. We continued to see signs of an unhealthy family, potential abuse, and parents who wanted their kids, but didn't want to parent. Eventually, the kids were old enough that they didn't need sitters, and the family moved away. I don't know how their older childhood and teen years were spent.

These kids are now adults. As far as I know (based primarily on posts to social media where we are friends/connections), they do not have much of a relationship with either the mom or the dad. Both have experienced permanent and ongoing health problems related to their prenatal exposures and the care they received (or rather, didn't receive) as children. This is exactly the situation where I wonder if the kids would have been better of in an alternative living situation- perhaps with the grandma (who lived next door) or an aunt and uncle (who lived 4 houses down from them). Although, these family members were not oblivious to what was happening, and I don't know that they ever tried to stop/help/change the parents or protect the kids, so who knows if different would have been better. I just wish they had something better, because they certainly deserved it.

As an adult, my mom admitted to me that she was so unsure what she should say to the man from DCFS. In truth, what my parents heard, witnessed, and suspected could probably have been enough to keep the kids out of their parents care for quite some time. But she chose not to divulge everything she knew, because she loved these kids.

I can understand her reasons. At least when the kids were living with their parents, they did spend a good amount of time with people like my family--- people who loved them, took care of them, and most importantly, parented them. My family had no aspirations of adoption, fostering, or having these children live with us in any way (nor would we likely have been approved to foster/adopt based on house size, income, and other qualifying factors), but we were attached to them and wanted to see them happy, healthy, and successful. If the kids continued living with family, at least they could come play in our backyard and go on family trips with us, learn how to follow rules, do their homework, and make good decisions. As long as they were with their family, my family could continue to be a positive influence... and hopefully protect them and teach them as much as possible. If the kids were taken away from their parents, who knows what kind of situation they would end up in. Especially given the foster care fiasco in Cook County at that time.

I think what my mom did was in a very gray area... ethically, she might have been right (or not). Legally, by not lying but not divulging everything, I'm not sure sure where that puts her. But I will say that I can completely understand the choice that she made, and if placed in the same situation, I may have done the same. I will also say that my step-dad, who does not often go into a legal or ethical gray area, did agree with her choice.

Not the child in question
Copyright Espen Faugstad
Over at Scooping It Up, the discussion about ethical adoption practices (which I also touched upon here), has continued with the acknowledgement that sometimes there are gray areas in adoption. Because sometimes, protecting kids and providing for them right now in their moment of need can take you to that place where ethical and legal seem secondary to the immediate need (and adoption is not the only place where this happens- we see it all.the.time in health care, but I digress.)

I don't know if there is a hard and fast rule about when it's okay to go into that gray area... when it's okay to cross lines and when it's not. That's the nature of gray- it's a spectrum color. What I will say is this: if you personally stand to gain from going into that gray area, you should abstain from going there. Don't abandon a child in need, but seek out someone honest and trustworthy who does not have a vested interest in the child, and ask them to champion that child's cause. Their ability to discern when "crossing the line" is right or wrong will be significantly more accurate than yours because their mind will not be struggling against their heart.

I think my mom did the right thing at that point in time, under those circumstances, with the knowledge available to her. Would I do the same thing? I don't know. It's hard to say, since I have the benefit of seeing the bigger/future picture. But I think she acted to the best of her ability in the kids' best interest. And I know that she wasn't looking to (and did not) personally gain from the situation.

Unfortunately, after reading a few posts over at the blog in question, I can't agree that it was okay, in the situation described on the blog, to proceed into a gray area. The bloggers posted about how they met this child here and here. Based on what they wrote, this child was in a safe place. Pictures show a child that is clearly healthy, well-fed, and has a room of her own/space of her own. She is in some sort of orphanage, but based on the pictures, it's nicer than any of the orphanages that I saw in Ethiopia! It seems obvious to me that there was no immediate threat of harm or danger to the child. In fact, the bloggers never convey that there is any chance of harm to the child- instead, they simply write about how they "fell in love" with her and decided she should join their family. And they told her so, going so far as to have her start calling them mommy and daddy.

Then they inquired about her orphan status. Yes, you read that right- first they fell in love, decided they wanted her, and promised to adopt her... then they checked to see if she was an orphan, and were surprised when the biological family were opposed to the adoption. They were upset that the living grandmother, uncle, and mother all opposed the adoption... and when a relative offered to have the girl come live with them, it was recounted this way:  "Another relative has threatened to take her to live in the slums with them." 

All of these things seem to be taking place in ethically gray areas. They identified a child they wanted to adopt without regard for her orphan status, then proceeded to pursue despite biological family objections and even bio family offers of a home. In my mind, that would have been crossing a line, but I will give them the benefit of the doubt that they were still in the gray. But it didn't end there.

Copyright 2006
The post telling what happened from there has been taken down. That post had the most disturbing information in terms of that descent into the darkest of gray... the place where gray potentially becomes black. A place where I personally feel ethical lines were crossed. A place where I am fairly certain legal lines might have been crossed.

Now, let me be clear: I do not believe that children should live in facilities or orphanages. Children belong in families. I am not in any way opposed to having this child live in a family. However, I am opposed to a family pursing an international adoption for a child who has an option (maybe 2?) for reunification, and is living in a country where a domestic placement is also a viable option.

I can understand that the American family now suspects all sorts of corruption and evil motivations from the biological family, and potentially from the government. But, the sad reality is that if they had not stepped foot into that gray area.... if they had not decided to adopt a child who was not legally available for adoption... if they had used ethical and legal methods of inquiring about her orphan status and respected the law regarding it, or even if they had requested the social worker or orphanage director to make inquiries into the possibility of adoption without revealing their American (read: wealthy) status, the whole outcome might have been different. Maybe not in their favor, but hopefully in the best interest of the child. I know for sure if they had never promised to adopt a child who is not legally available for adoption, that child would have been better protected.

Their descent into this gray area (because falling in love with a child is not a bad thing... it's everything they did after that) was entirely motivated by their desire to adopt this child- by their own selfish wants, not by the needs of this child. If they had not wanted to adopt her, they would have left her like they left the other children she lives with: relatively happy, physically cared for, and safe. There was no danger to the child--- no immediate, pressing, urgent needs that caused them to cross into that gray area. It was 100% their desire to adopt that motivated them (I am not commenting on whether that desire to adopt was "Godly" or not.) All of this is according to what they have posted and provided pictures of on their blog, in their own words.

Does adoption and orphan care have gray areas? Yes. But I think those gray areas should not be entered into unless necessary. I think those gray areas are best handled by someone who does not have a personal stake in the matter. And I think those gray areas often can wait for the legal and ethical processes to occur, because rarely do they involve true emergencies.

Slow down. Step out of it as the PAP/sometimes-crazily-emotional-woman (I speak from experience, knowing that the process of loving a child who is not and may not legally be yours can be difficult.) Let the system of checks and balances work so that you can say at the end of the day "I know I have done nothing legally or ethically wrong." Pray hard. Cross your fingers and toes and legs and arms. Dream big dreams.

Don't go charging into the gray, championing a cause that is so dear to your heart that your eyes are blinded by un-shed tears. Don't allow your love to blind your logic and reason. Because when you stumble and fall in those gray areas... especially those areas of the deepest grays... that's when you will feel as though you have fallen into the dark. That's when you will be the hardest to find again.

7 Quick Takes- Where Do You...? Edition

It's that time again! This week, I was accepted as a BlogHer affiliate (see that little ditty over there in my sidebar---->?) I changed up some stuff with the blog layout, added a bit of content (check out the "About" tab up top), and even started a Facebook fan page. As I modified my blog to reflect more of "me," I have been thinking a lot about what I write, why I write it, and who reads it. More importantly, I have been thinking about what I don't write... topics that I feel totally unprepared to talk about, because I am just plain clueless. (Not that I really "know what I am talking about" with most things here--- I'm a work in progress, still learning and trying to figure things out.)

So, this week, I want to ask you about your inspirations... the blogs, magazines, podcasts, and social media that you turn to for different topics. You all have a lot more interesting lives than I do (if for no other reason than the fact that you are not on bedrest and therefore you can interact with people outside of your immediate family. Like the grocery clerk. Or the librarian. Or the guy in line at USPS who keeps checking you out.) You know tons of stuff that I don't. So, share some of your brainage with me and tell me, where do you....

1. Look for fashion inspirations?

I recently discovered the Hollywood Housewife and find her approach to style very easy. I mean, she has a whole bit about Lazy Beauty. That's right up my alley... I mean, I'm totally into Lazy Cooking. Now, I'm not sure if I would actually do most of the things Hollywood Housewife writes about (like wear red lipstick), but she really is inspiring.

I'd love to hear where you look for your fashion and style inspirations. And I will say, if you mention:

or some other glossy magazine, you will have lost me before you even begin. I'm still developing my personal sense of fashion (and would not mind getting some input from this lady to help me begin to define that.) When I think fashion, I definitely mean "on a dime" but also things that are easy and approachable for a mom of soon-to-be-four kids. I like re-purposing, items that give back or promote a cause, and anything that is easy for breastfeeding/wiping off spit up. I don't like things that my kids can tear/snag, things that are too fancy to wear to W@l-Mart, or anything that needs to be dry cleaned/hand washed... because I am also in to Lazy Laundry.

2. Look for easy solutions?

That's kind of vague, but in my mind, solutions often are. I am thinking more along the lines of organization/easy home up-keep, and DIY-type projects. For instance, what do you do with bookshelves when your kid hits the age where all they want to do is pull everything off them? A temporary fix is relocating the items on the bookshelf. A solution would perhaps modify the bookshelf to make it more difficult to pull things off, while still leaving easy access to the books. Or something. Look, if I knew what the solution was, I wouldn't be asking (coughJohnAndrewcough).

Fair warning, though. My ability to work with my hands is pretty much limited to things like this:


Actually, I'm not even sure I could have managed that hat... but at least I don't "finger peck" the keyboard! Basically, it needs to be very, very simple. For us simple folk.

3. Go to enhance your creativity?

For me, good writing does not always make me feel more creative. In fact, in a way, good writing (good reading) can quench the desire to be creative. So, outside of writing/reading, where do you go to swell your creative force?

Photo by me. Ethiopia, 2008.

Nature is a great inspiration, as is people-watching. Sadly, there's not a lot that that to be done when stuck in a dungeon on bedrest. I need some help here:)

4. Give?

We all have causes that are dear to our hearts. And I'd like to think we all do find ways to give... not just financially, but through our time and energy. I like to support the adoptions of my friends, family strengthening/preservation efforts in Ethiopia, and health care causes... but I would love to know where you give.

What moves you? I think there are probably a lot of great causes out there, but people just don't know about them.
5. Go to go green?

Look, we all know it's not that easy being going green. And yet, I still try. I have found "Your Green Resource" to be helpful (although it's only in it's 2nd week!). I like that these are real-life people blogging (and linking up) their real-life green-ness. I also like that such a variety of ideas are presented, allowing me to pick and chose which ones might fit into our life right now. What resources have you found to help you live a green-er lifestyle?

6. Learn?

Copyright Lucien Aigner/CORBIS

This woman, I am not. Not just because I don't sit outside and drink wine. Not just because I don't have a fantastic pair of gloves like hers. Not just because there's probably no way I can pull off that French elegance. Mostly it's because I don't read newspapers.

In fact, I rarely watch the news. I do not often read news-magazines. And I never listen to the news. (And I am pretty sure reading this daily this doesn't count as actually informing my mind of important events.) Most of the more newsy/academic/intelligent stuff I post about is because a friend sent me a link, or because my news-obsessed husband pointed something out to me. I stopped reading the news a few years ago, because the stress of everything that was going on at work/home/in the world was just. too. much.

I also don't do a lot of non-fiction reading. Not on any topic (other than adoption/ethics, maybe). My mind is basically turning to mush. I am probably getting stupid-er by the day. But I just don't know where to start without feeling totally overwhelmed. I mean, puts me into sensory overload! Not to mention, there are so many things besides current events that I think are worth reading about (like theology, an area where I feel woefully uneducated, despite my Systematic Theology class in high school!)

So where do you go to learn... to get small, digestable amounts of information, be it current events, politics, theology, or other info to keep you globally aware? And how do you deal with all the negativity that is out there?

7. To play?

Photo by me. OB's office. July, 2011
So, this whole bedrest thing has left me with quite a bit of time available to just play around on the Interwebs. Which are supposed to be endless. But by about 11:30 every day, I feel like I have reached the end of the Internet. And then I check out, start getting bored, and wonder why no one is posting anything fun on FB.

Clearly, if I was more linked-up in the above areas, I'm sure I could fill my day with free WWW fun. But, since I'm not, I find myself Googling things like "how to waste time on the Internet."

Surely you have a few suggestions?

And there's my 7 quick takes for the week! Congratulations on sticking with me:) Thanks, as always, to Jen for hosting this link-up. To see more great 7 Quick Takes, check out her post here!

And, if you've made it all the way to the end of this post, I have to ask... am I the only one who now has this song stuck in their head?

Where do you go?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

"Recruiting" for Adoption?


Have you ever been recruited for a job?

I have been. It was really nice, actually. Even in the situation where I was happy with the job I had and didn't plan to leave it, it was pretty nice to know that another organization valued me and what I could bring to their team. And seeing the facilities, bonuses/incentives, and compensation package was not too shabby, either. In fact, in one situation, it was pretty darn tempting! I know if I had given any slight indication that I was interested, the recruiter/HR person would have jumped all over it and made sure the deal was sealed.

But let me ask you a question... would you ever "recruit" a child to be adopted? Specifically, would you ever go to a third-world nation, find a child you loved, then persuade the birth family to allow the adoption simply because you could offer much more wealth, affluence, and education to the child than they could?

No! you say. Of course not! That's totally unethical! We are supposed to care for orphans, not take children from families where they were born and wanted... even if those families are poor, uneducated, etc. And in the situation where a child would be better off not with their birth family (due to abuse or neglect), I still wouldn't recruit the child- I would wait for the court system to insure the child was properly, legally, and ethically removed from the birth family before pursuing the adoption!

Thank you, friends. Your resounding "No!" has restored my faith in the adoption community.

Because, unfortunately, there are people who are doing just what I described... recruiting a child- trying to bribe the birth family into allowing the adoption- even going so far as to become involved in the child protection system and influencing the case worker to quickly make a decision to remove a child from the birth family and allow an international adoption, even though that would fly in the face of Ugandan law!


These people *** are not only doing that very thing, but they are doing it in the name of God. And if you dare to speak up and say "If this is God's will, HE will accomplish mighty things without asking you to do something clearly unethical and potentially illegal," you will be silenced. (Or deleted. In the blog world, it's nearly the same thing.)

Friends, I believe in God. I believe God loves children and desires them to be in families. I believe God designed children for families, and that is why every child is born, not just conjured out of thin air. All children are born with a family. There are times when children cannot stay in the family they were born to, and that breaks my heart. But then there are times where that family wants a child... they may not be the Cleavers, but they still want and love their child. They may be poor, dirty, homeless even, but that does not diminish their love for their child... nor does it diminish the fact that God placed that child into that family for a reason... or the fact that the child deserves to be with their family!

And the circumstances of that family are not for us to judge.

I believe God does rescue orphans. But I can't say that I believe God takes children from families specifically for the purpose of international adoption. What's your take?

For more responses to this situation, check out Scooping It Up and Semi-Feral Mama.

***Between writing this post and publishing it, the original post has been removed. Suffice it to say, in my opinion (and the opinion of many adoptive parents) the original post described "baiting" the birth family, involvement in the caseworker/social worker's review of the family, and- most disheartening- several references to the birth grandmother as "the Grandmother from the slums", showing a complete lack of respect for the birth family. All of this was done in the name of God, with frequent mentions of "God told me to... [show the birth family everything we could offer in our family, etc]" as I described above.

Please pray for this little girl. Because no matter what happens, she will have a disappointment. She may be removed from a family that loves her, removed from the country she calls home, or deprived of the "good life" in the USA that she has been promised by this family. Any way you slice it, no one has protected this girl, and her heart will break in some way. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

My boy and his toy

It's not your eyes. All these pictures are blurry because JA never holds still. Ever.

There are a lot of things about parenting a son that are just plain different than parenting daughters. Some if it is personality related. But I think a good portion of it is that boys are just different from girls, no matter how you try to slice it.

As JohnAndrew becomes older (and more mobile), I see more and more evidence of this. My pretty (and yes, he is pretty- all the ladies here tell me he is pretty enough to be a girl) little boy has become so much more rough-and-tumble as he's learned to crawl, pull up, and start to walk. He is currently sporting no less than 4 bruises on his face and head. He also keeps doing things, even though he knows is going to hurt... like sitting up under the coffee table and banging his head on it. He loves to crawl in-between, below,and behind everything. And the buttons. Oh, he loves the buttons! The Roomba may be his favorite. Thank God it "senses" him and doesn't start vacuuming every time he hits the button!

But, by far, the strangest thing about raising a son is his fascination with his little man-parts. Honest to goodness, he has to "check" to make sure everything is still there every time his diaper is removed. And if we let him have an extended period of time without his diaper on, he is such a happy guy! The other day, John put a freshly-showered JA on the bed, wrapped in a towel. I didn't have a diaper or PJs to get him dressed, so he sat "snaked" (as Anna says) for a while until John got the necessary items.

At first, I thought he was just going to do a little "check" of his bits. But he became seriously obsessed. His fat little belly kept him from clearly seeing down under, so he kept leaning forward to try to see... but of course, his belly leaned forward right along with him. Before too long, he toppled over from leaning so far forward!

I was cracking up.

Boys are sooo different from girls. You just never would see a little girl that obsessed with her parts.

I told John this story, and he said "you know, it's pretty age-appropriate... and will be for quite a while."

"Yes, honey. Pretty much for the rest of his life."

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Need vs. Want, Supply vs. Demand

One of the most frustrating things about international adoption, for me, is that often the children most in need of a America (or otherwise first-world) family are the ones that are least desired by most of those families.

Don't get me wrong. I am not saying that there are not families willing to adopt these "less desired" children... just that, if you look at the numbers, most PAPs are requesting healthy children- healthy, young, female. Not children with Down Syndrome, HIV, or other permanent, non-reversible conditions.

And yet, those special children are the ones most in need of the health care available in developed nations. They need access to HIV medications and infectious disease doctors. They need the therapies and developmental specialists to help them achieve their greatest potential and gain independence in self-care. They need tailored education plans and opportunities. They need open-minded people who see them beyond a diagnosis or ability level... people who see them as a valuable child of God, knit together by His hand, for a specific reason and purpose. Their lives, literally, can depend upon this.


Did you know that simply carrying extra genetic material on the 21st chromosome will sentence Eastern European children over the age of 5 to a life in a mental institution? A mental institution like this? (see parts 2 and 3 in the sidebar of the video) A child with Down Syndrome may be considered so "un-adoptable" that the birth family will not even be allowed to relinquish him/her to an Ethiopian orphanage, despite their financial situation, access to health care and therapies, or ability to provide for the child long-term.

There are people working to change this. There are organizations who advocate especially for the adoption of special needs children, and often help offset the cost of the adoption process. Reece's Rainbow and Project Hopeful come to mind.

And I recognize that international adoption will never solve the problem of lack of health care and/or social stigma in developing nations and therefore will never meet the needs of all the vulnerable children in these nations. But in the mean time, there are children available for international adoption- children who need IA, and yet they keep waiting for families because they are not what the PAPs "want"... in other words, the desires of the PAPs outweigh the needs of the children. The PAPs create a demand- young, healthy, female... and the sending nations find ways to fulfill that want, hoping somewhere along the line there are also some PAPs looking to fill a need.

If you don't believe that the "demand" for children influences the "supply" of children, especially in resource-poor nations, go back and read this story. How can you believe otherwise? 

A child who would genuinely benefit from international adoption- a birthmother who knows that while she may meet the need for food, water, and shelter, she cannot give her child opportunities for education and development because those opportunities do not exist in her nation- and yet, she is not able to relinquish the child because those running orphanages do not perceive a "demand" for this child.

Had the little one been chromosomally typical, do you think there would have been a debate over his relinquishment among the orphanage directors? Based on the children that are in orphanages and care centers all around Ethiopia, I would guess not...

Monday, September 26, 2011

Eat at Chili's TODAY!

Just wanted to let you all know that today only, Chili's will donate all of their net profits to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital!

So grab lunch, dinner, or both from Chili's today, and help find cures for kids!

The mission of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is to advance cures, and means of prevention, for pediatric catastrophic diseases through research and treatment. Consistent with the vision of our founder Danny Thomas, no child is denied treatment based on race, religion or a family's ability to pay.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Our Third Family Day

Many people celebrate different milestones in their adoption journey.... anniversaries of referrals, the first time they met their child, the day they passed court.

Personally, that's not my thing.

But there is one anniversary that is worth celebrating to me. The day my family was all together for the first time. Not Abigail, Anna, and I... but John, Abigail, Anna and I. (Although, of course, I don't have any pictures of all of us together....)

Despite the fact that John was unsure about how my adoption process would impact our relationship, I trusted all along that it was going to be okay. And within days of him meeting Anna, he knew it, too. When he asked me to marry him less than 3 months after Anna came home, he wasn't just asking for me to be his wife... he was asking for us, all 3 of us, to be his family.

And I feel certain that Anna was an integral part of coming to that point. In a way, you could say that without Anna, there would be no Grace and John, and no JohnAndrew, and no #4. Becoming a family, that brisk September day in 2008, changed everything.

September 24, 2008
Fresh off the plane. Exhausted. In need of a shower. Full of joy.

The montages of our trip are here.

Friday, September 23, 2011

#4s 30 Week Bumpdate

Today, I am 30 weeks! Yay! I feel so blessed to still be pregnant. John has been gone all week, and heads out again on Tuesday for another 5 days, so keeping #4 right where he/she is has been my priority.

I'm getting better at bedrest. It really takes a lot of self-discipline when you are the kind of person who normally just jumps up and does whatever needs to be done... especially when what needs to be done is holding and comforting your little guy after he falls.

Just to give you some other basic pregnancy info, I did fail my 1 hour glucose challenge last week. On Tuesday I went in for the 3 hour challenge. Other than feeling way funky/dizzy/yucky about 25 minutes into the first hour, the rest went well and I found out today that all the results were normal! Yay!

As of my 29 week visit last week, I have only gained 12.5 lbs this time around, which is great. Sadly, I gained that on top of the other weight I had not yet lost from JA. Still, I can gain up to 15 more pounds and still not exceed my maximum weight with JA. That means as long as I don't start gaining 2 pounds a week, I should be good:)

Here are my side-by-side 30 week belly shots:

30 weeks, 2 days- JA
30 weeks- #4
Bruise on my back/butt is from my weekly shot

Not too bad. Earlier on in this pregnancy, I felt like I was huge compared to my pregnancy with JA. But now I feel like things are about the same- it's evened out, so to speak. You can read my 29 & 30 week bumpdate from last year here.

Thank you for continuing to pray for #4, me, and our family!

Trafficking, the Global Orphan Crisis, and Solutions

Many of you in the adoption community have read Dr. Jane Aronson's blog in the Huffington Post entitled "The Trouble With International Adoption Is not Trafficking: It's the Global Orphan Crisis." If you haven't, I do recommend you read it.

While I do not agree with her basic premise (that trafficking in international adoption isn't a problem.... because it is, no way around that), I do think she makes some very valid points. Ultimately, she indicates that if more resources were put into the social welfare infrastructure- education, finances, resources for mothers (essentially family preservation, although she doesn't call it that) there wouldn't be nearly as many children in orphanages nor nearly as many eligible for and awaiting international adoption. This I agree with wholeheartedly.

For a very well-balanced response to Dr. Aronson's article, I suggest reading E.J. Graff's post entitled "Adoption Is Not a Solution For Poor Children." The last 2 paragraphs are particularly helpful.

In light of Graff's post, what are your thoughts about the Hague convention, and the rumors of Ethiopia's plan to become a signatory? Do you think it is ethical for the US (as a signatory) to continue to process adoptions from non-signatory countries where resources are not being dedicated to social welfare infrastructure?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Guest Post: Ask5for5

Today I am sharing a guest post from Sarah Lenssen. 
I hope you have already seen this. If not, please, do read be moved.

Guest Blogger: Sarah Lenssen from #Ask5for5

Family photos by Mike Fiechtner Photography

Thank you Grace at Gracelings and nearly 150 other bloggers from around the world for allowing me to share a story with you today, during Social Media Week.

A hungry child in East Africa can't wait. Her hunger consumes her while we decide if we'll respond and save her life. In Somalia, children are stumbling along for days, even weeks, on dangerous roads and with empty stomachs in search of food and water. Their crops failed for the third year in a row. All their animals died. They lost everything. Thousands are dying along the road before they find help in refugee camps. 

At my house, when my three children are hungry, they wait minutes for food, maybe an hour if dinner is approaching. Children affected by the food crisis in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia aren't so lucky. Did you know that the worst drought in 60 years is ravaging whole countries right now, as you read this? Famine, a term not used lightly, has been declared in Somalia. This is the world's first famine in 20 years.12.4 million people are in need of emergency assistance and over 29,000 children have died in the last three months alone. A child is dying every 5 minutes. It it estimated that 750,000 people could die before this famine is over. Take a moment and let that settle in.

The media plays a major role in disasters. They have the power to draw the attention of society to respond--or not. Unfortunately, this horrific disaster has become merely a footnote in most national media outlets. News of the U.S. national debt squabble and the latest celebrity's baby bump dominate headlines. That is why I am thrilled that nearly 150 bloggers from all over the world are joining together today to use the power of social media to make their own headlines; to share the urgent need of the almost forgotten with their blog readers. Humans have the capacity to care deeply for those who are suffering, but in a situation like this when the numbers are too huge to grasp and the people so far away, we often feel like the little we can do will be a drop in the ocean, and don't do anything at all.

When news of the famine first hit the news in late July, I selfishly avoided it. I didn't want to read about it or hear about it because I knew I would feel overwhelmed and uncomfortable. I wanted to protect myself. I knew I would need to do something if I knew what was really happening. You see, this food crisis is personal. I have a 4-year-old son and a 1 yr-old daughter who were adopted from Ethiopia and born in regions now affected by the drought. If my children still lived in their home villages, they would be two of the 12.4 million. My children: extremely hungry and malnourished? Gulp. I think any one of us would do anything we could for our hungry child. But would you do something for another mother's hungry child?

My friend and World Vision staffer, Jon Warren, was recently in Dadaab Refugee Camp in Kenya--the largest refugee camp in the world with over 400,000 people. He told me the story of Isnino Siyat, 22, a mother who walked for 10 days and nights with her husband, 1 yr-old-baby, Suleiman, and 4 yr.-old son Adan Hussein, fleeing the drought in Somalia. When she arrived at Dadaab, she built the family a shelter with borrowed materials while carrying her baby on her back. Even her dress is borrowed. As she sat in the shelter on her second night in camp she told Jon, "I left because of hunger. It is a very horrible drought which finished both our livestock and our farm." The family lost their 5 cows and 10 goats one by one over 3 months, as grazing lands dried up. "We don't have enough food now...our food is finished. I am really worried about the future of my children and myself if the situation continues."

Will you help a child like Baby Suleiman? Ask5for5 is a dream built upon the belief that you will.

That something I knew I would need to do became a campaign called #Ask5for5 to raise awareness and funds for famine and drought victims. The concept is simple, give $5 and ask five of your friends to give $5, and then they each ask five of their friends to give $5 and so on--in nine generations of 5x5x5...we could raise $2.4 Million! In one month, over 750 people have donated over $25,000! I set up a fundraiser at See Your Impact and 100% of the funds will go to World Vision, an organization that has been fighting hunger in the Horn of Africa for decades and will continue long after this famine has ended. Donations can multiply up to 5 times in impact by government grants to help provide emergency food, clean water, agricultural support,
healthcare, and other vital assistance to children and families suffering in the Horn.

I need you to help me save lives. It's so so simple; here's what you need to do:

  1. Donate $5 or more on this page (
  2. Send an email to your friends and ask them to join us.
  3. Share #Ask5for5 on Facebook and Twitter!
I'm looking for another 100 bloggers to share this post on their blogs throughout Social Media Week. Email me at if you're interested in participating this week.

A hungry child doesn't wait. She doesn't wait for us to finish the other things on our to-do list, or get to it next month when we might have a little more money to give. She doesn't wait for us to decide if she's important enough to deserve a response. She will only wait as long as her weakened little body will hold on...please respond now and help save her life. Ask 5 for 5.

Thank you on behalf of all of those who will be helped--you are saving lives and changing history.

p.s. Please don't move on to the next website before you donate and email your friends right now. It only takes 5 minutes and just $5, and if you're life is busy like mine, you probably won't get back to it later. Let's not be a generation that ignores hundreds of thousands of starving people, instead let's leave a legacy of compassion. You have the opportunity to save a life today!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Cults, Personal Hygiene, and TMI

I was emailing with my friend Missy, and we were talking about different religions. Because sister is educated, lemmetellya. She knows stuff. About theology. And other stuff that you (ahem, me) are too ignorant to even know is out there in Christianity and religion. And the stuff that you never remember to ask your pastor.

Anyway, she told me that women who are Jehovah's Witnesses, among other things, cannot wear pants.

And being the deeply spiritual and righteous woman of God that I am, I immediately thought "Jesus, save them from this deception!" You know, right after the part where I thought "oh man... they have to shave their legs EVERY. DAY. Unacceptable."

Me? Not such a fan of the daily leg shaving. It's part of why the heat of the South is so unbearable... you basically have to wear shorts, skirts, or dresses to tolerate it. Which means you have to shave your legs. Frequently.

Or convert to being French.

(Can you convert to another nationality the way you can convert to another religion?)

And then I got put on bedrest. Where the simple act of changing out of my PJs every day was pretty much a big deal. Showering? Even bigger deal. Big enough that a daily shower was out of the question. Every other day, max. I mean, how dirty am I getting, anyway, just sitting around, playing with the Internet, and eating?

Anyway, so now I do this thing where I shower a maximum of every other day.

Except when I am having heavy-on-the-contraction days. Because if I've been contracting throughout the day, I can guaranty that I will contract in the shower. It generally starts right after I work the shampoo into a nice lather, so that there is no way I can get out of the shower and go lay down (to stop the contractions) for at least a few more minutes. Of course it does.

And then, even if it's a good day, and I haven't been contracting and the hot water in the shower doesn't trigger contractions.... bending over to shave my legs almost always does.

Here's the kicker: Because I am dilated and have an open path for stuff to get into my previously sealed and sterile uterus, I can't even take baths.

So, I don't shave my legs anymore. Which is less than awesome. But on the other hand, since the only time I leave the house is to see my OB, who really cares?

See, I knew there was a reason I wasn't a Jehovah's Witness!

Monday, September 19, 2011

On Finding Purpose

Brace yourself. This is another of my rambling posts where I go on and on about Deep Issues. And probably don't even do it well.

When I was working as a nurse, it was pretty easy to feel like I had Purpose... like I was actually doing something for the Lord, some sort of "Kingdom Work." Did I like my job? Not really. But did I know that I was impacting lives, even if in a small way? Absolutely. There was no doubt about that. I could understand (even if I didn't "feel" emotionally fulfilled) that in the little ways I would serve my patients and their families, I was being the hands and feet of Jesus to hurting people.

Since leaving that job to focus on being a wife and mother, I have felt as though I have been lacking Purpose. Not that being a wife and mother aren't the most important things in my life- they absolutely are, and no one can be the wife and mother in my family but me. But maybe it's because I had a career, maybe it's because I was raised in the 80s, maybe it's because I was raised by a working mom... whatever it is, I have felt unsettled, unproductive, and unimportant since quitting my job. It feels as though because I am not impacting people beyond my immediate family, my Purpose is unfulfilled.

Partially, it is because I am struggling to accept this role of mother and wife as a vocation: a function or station in life to which one is called by God. Because I know, at least for a time, that I had another vocation. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God called me to nursing, at least for a season. And since leaving that, I have been searching to find another vocation- that "other thing" to which God is calling me. Because there must me another thing.

I mean, surely, God has given me gifts, talents, and passions that I am supposed to be using, right? I have this nursing background, I'm highly organized and analytically, and I am passionate about a number of things. Surely, God, you are calling me to be an HIV educator/advocate, right? Or to some sort of medical work in Africa--- or the Delta? Or maybe to family preservation work in Ethiopia? Right, God? That's where you are calling me, right?


Before being put on total bedrest, I was put on an activity restriction. I mentioned that a group of ladies- a group of women I didn't know and may never have met otherwise- organized to help me in the mornings so that I could take care of JohnAndrew and keep the house running without doing any lifting or other heavy activity. This was such an incredible blessing to me. Honestly, I don't know how we would have managed those 2 weeks without the help of such a wonderful group of ladies.

For the most part, this group of ladies either work only part-time or do not work outside of the home (at least the ladies I met.) And as I visited and chatted with them, it kind of became a common theme that there was a lack of a sense of Purpose/calling. Sure, they had families to raise and husbands to support, but with kids in full-day school and professional husbands who generally worked in an office of some sort, it wasn't like they had a mile-long to-do list filled with tasks of the "must do or our lives/business/family will fall apart" variety. And yes, they had social activities, sports/fitness activities, school-related activities and often volunteer/charity activities... things that can fill a day and fill a schedule. But many of them still struggle with that feeling of Purpose... connectedness to the greater Work that God is doing through them.

Oh, how I can relate. How can this life, which feels so small, really be fulfilling His Purpose?

When I say I don't have the words to describe how much those 2 weeks of morning helpers meant to me, to us as a family, it's true. I can't explain the blessing they were... or how, even now, those ladies still bless me.

I tried to explain it to each gal as they were here.... to ask my friend, Laurie, to pass it on for me... to think of some note I could write or cookie I could bake or flower I could send to express how deeply I was moved. How thankful I was. How helped and loved and chosen I felt. But I couldn't.

And it occurred to me: how strange, that while these women struggled to feel that they were fulfilling their Purpose, they were doing the very thing that ministered to my body and soul. They were, quite literally, being the hands of Jesus to me and my family. Every diaper change, every minute they carried JohnAndrew to his crib for morning nap, every time they took me grocery shopping or to the dry cleaners or to pick Anna up from school, they were doing the work of the Body of Christ in my life. 


You see, it's all about perspective. Here I've been focused on how I feel and what I think God's Purpose is for me. I've been wondering how I am supposed to be contributing to the Great! Kingdom! Work! that needs to be done. What I have to offer, how it's going to be used, and how others will see Jesus.

But what if I stop viewing Purpose from the perspective of what I am doing, and instead view it from the perspective of what others are receiving? How does that change things? Suddenly, the diaper changes, the early morning hair styles, the late night editing sessions... even the very act of sitting on my tush and incubating this baby are all Purpose. This whole vocation thing? That is Purpose. And yes, there may be more in store for me. But even if there is not, even if God's plan for me is simple and "small", it is still big, because it is Purpose.

Friday, September 16, 2011

7 Quick Takes- Childhood Toys Edition

I was thinking the other day about the toys my kids play with... some are "familiar" toys that have been around a while, like Polly Pockets and Barbies. Some are "new" toys, like my husband's iPad:) Here are some toys I remember from my childhood...

1. Teddy Ruxpin

2. We're into BARBIE!

3. My Buddy (my brother had this...)and Kid Sister!

4. Chia Pets! (Ch-ch-ch-chia!)

5. If it doesn't say Micro Machines, it's not the Real Thing!

6. Lite Brite (turn on the magic of shining light!)

7. Skip-It (my sister and I loved these!)

What toys do you remember from your childhood?

To read more from other 7QT-ers, or to participate by adding your link, head over to Jen's blog. Thanks for hosting, Jen!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Adoption Auction

My dear friends are hosting an online auction (think ebay) to help fund the cost of their travel to Uganda to bring home their little man!

Please go here and check out all the awesome stuff they have.... from handmade crafts, adorable tutus, Starbucks gift cards, and a variety of services in the Chicago area (who wants to shovel snow this winter?), you are sure to find something you will love!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Confused: Thoughts on politics

It's interesting to me how some people chose to go about forming their political views....

I've written before about my basic political philosophy: I don't believe that the best way to address matters of sin, matters of the heart, matters of morals is through law/legislation. I think the best way to address matters of sin, and the condition of the human heart, is through knowing, loving, and pursuing Jesus.

Consequently, I really don't think the government should have any say in "moral" laws. Abortion, same-sex marriage, etc... these are moral issues, not legal issues. And overall, I really don't want the government that involved in my personal life, period. I would probably be defined as a "fiscal conservative," but in most other issues, I don't think the government should be involved, let alone passing legislation that all citizens have to follow!

Now, I can understand those who want the government to pass laws reflecting their morals. I really can. I can understand that they want to pass laws against gay marriage, and abortion, and whatever else they think God has told them. I get that they think the best way to deal with issues of sin is by making it illegal.

What this does, however, is invite the government into the most personal aspects of their lives. They have asked the government to come in and control the person giving them an engagement ring and the contents of their womb.

So why, then, are we surprised when the government wants to come in and make laws about educating our children... in particular, laws about homeschooling? And why on Earth would those in favor of having the government regulate our personal lives be opposed to having laws regulate this area?

It just does not make sense to me.

Because, the truth is, I know a fair number of people who would invite legislation on moral issues (as long as that legislation regulated an act to be in alignment with their views/beliefs), but who staunchly oppose legislation regarding homeschooling. They think the government should let them educate (or not educate) their children in the manner that pleases them.

But I don't think you can have it both ways. I don't think you can say "yes, please pass laws about the partner I chose to raise my children with, but not how I raise my children" or "give us laws controlling the contents of my womb, but now what happens after those contents are born into this world." You can't have the government get thisclose, but no further.

The best way to keep our freedoms- our abilities to chose and decide for ourselves in issues of morality and values- is by limiting the government's regulation of such.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Good Reads: 14 Cows for America

I can't believe this year is the 10 year anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

I know, I'm late to the game.
But, if you haven't yet read it, I highly recommend the book

14 Cows for America

Carmen Agra Deedy 
in collaboration with 
Wilson Kimeli Naiyomah
illustrated by
Thomas Gonzalez

"Because there is no nation so powerful it cannot be wounded,
nor a people so small they cannot offer mighty comfort."

This book beautifully tells the tale of the heartfelt response of a Kenyan tribe to the tragedies that struck America on September 11, 2001. The illustrations are soulful and the rich colors bring the smell of Africa to my nose.

This book was on Abigail's summer reading list for the 4th grade, but we read it with Anna as well, and she enjoyed seeing a book full of people who "look like her." While the topic is the response to the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the actual events of that are not discussed in-depth, so the book is appropriate for all ages. (Although, we did discuss with Abigail only the events of 9/11 after reading this book.) I was literally choking back tears as I read the final pages of the story, and the short bio of Kimeli at the end of the book was perhaps even more moving.

You can check out the website for the book here, where you can also learn about the making of the book. You can buy the book here. (Or get it from your local library!) But just know, this is one you are sure to want to own!

Friday, September 09, 2011

Seven Quick Takes- Empowered Birth Awareness Edition

Since it's Empowered Birth Awareness Week, I thought I would share my 7 favorite quotes from my experiences with childbirth...

1. "Hang. Up. The. Phone."
When I was in labor with Abigail, my grandmother called during the toughest part of my entire labor. The contractions were intense and triple-peaking. I was nauseous, tired, and emotional. The phone happened to ring right as a contraction was starting. In my mind, I knew that if they would just hang up the phone, the contraction would end (duh! Isn't the connection obvious?) They kept saying "but it's your grandma! Don't you want to talk to her?" and I was all "Hang. Up. The. Phone." 
Abigail was born within an hour of that call.
And the contraction did not go away when they hung up.

2. "Okay, you were saying something about if I needed general anesthesia?"
This was with JohnAndrew. The anesthesiologist came in to discuss emergency anesthesia "just in case." I was in the midst of a contraction and started verbalizing a low moan, and he respectfully stopped talking. When the contraction was over, I looked back up at his face and he looked shocked, so I repeated his last sentence, wanting to get on with his little diddy so he could get out of my room.

I think he might have then understood that I was not going to be needing his services.

3. "Is it a boy or a girl? Is it a boy or a girl?"
This was another JA quote. We didn't know the gender before birth, and with Abigail being in the room, we had asked for the doctor not to announce the gender, but rather to let John and Abigail announce it together. Apparently, they were all "It's a boy!" and everyone was throwing a little party, but with my hormones and everything going wild (and my shock at how quickly the baby came out, and how good I felt!), I missed it. I kept asking, and they say that they kept telling me, but it wasn't until I looked down and saw his little man-parts that I realized I had a son.

The shock and pure joy of having a son still overwhelms me now.

4. "Put that mirror away!"
I have never understood the urge to watch your baby being born. I mean, I have seen babies being born, and in my experience, it's fairly, uh, messy. I figure if God wanted us to see our babies coming out, he would have had us give birth through our belly buttons. When I was giving birth to Abigail, they started to pull out a mirror for me to watch her emerging, and I freaked. I did not want to see that, and I made that very clear! I can't imagine anything more distracting to the work of pushing a baby out than watching your girl parts as the baby is born. No thanks!

5. "No, really, I think I need to have a BM."
During my labor with Abigail, despite the Pitocin, I was able to remain otherwise intervention-free. So I was still able to listen to my body quite a bit. And when I was in my 10th or 11th hour of labor, I knew I needed to go to the bathroom. I just knew. The nurse passed it off as "pressure" from the baby moving down, but I told her that I really needed to go. (I was right, BTW.) I will never forget arguing with the nurse over the difference of a sensation in the birth canal and the sensation in an entirely different place...

6. "Jesus! Jesus!"
You know, in my head, I was saying "Jesus, help me!" But I was later informed that the only thing coming out of my mouth was "Jesus!" This was during my labor with JA, when I had to walk back from the bathroom to the bed. I was under the impression that I was only half a centimeter dilated, and that I had quite a bit of labor ahead of me. What I didn't realize until about 20 minutes later was that I was most definitely NOT half a centimeter... the reason walking was so hard was because the baby was so low! (When the nurse checked me after getting back into bed, the baby's head was right.there.) JA was born less than 20 minutes later. And Jesus did help me. So I guess that was effective:)

7. "Can I kiss her?"
This isn't a labor quote, but was the first few hours after Abigail's birth. I remember being so shocked that I had a baby, that I was holding her in my arms. I had held her soon after she was born, nursed her within the first hour, and eventually handed her over to family and the staff for them to "meet" her. After she had been washed up, swaddled in her blanket, and handed back to me, I stared at her, not sure what to do. I held her on my lap, facing me, staring into her little face with the four tiny bruises along her forehead. She was mine, but she wasn't. I looked up at my nurse and asked if I could kiss her. At 20, I felt like I needed permission to love her. (I later found out in nursing school that this is a very normal reaction in first-time moms, especially young women.) The nurse nodded, and I kissed her forehead gently. I asked again if I could unwrap her blanket and count her little fingers and toes. Her 10 long piano-player fingers, and ten stubby toes attached to her hairless Hobbit feet. Slowly, I explored this little pink ball of smooth flesh, and decided I could pick her up, cuddle her, hold her to my chest, smell her head. 
The bond of motherhood took longer with Abigail than with JohnAndrew. Looking back, this quote reminds me of how I have grown in my motherhood... grown into motherhood... and continue growing daily.

What were your favorite quotes from your labor?

To read more from other 7QT-ers or to particpate by adding your post, head over to Jen's blog. As always, thanks for hosting, Jen!

Every Day Matters (Pregnancy Update)

I love going to the OB!

Yesterday morning I headed off to my OB visit... I will be 28 weeks tomorrow. Ideally, we were hoping to hear that everything was status quo with the cervix... maybe even that it was lengthening a bit!

Unfortunately, what we found out was that I am 1cm dilated. Which would be great if I was 36+ weeks. But not so great at 28 weeks. In a way, I felt really bummed because I had done super-well with not picking up JohnAndrew, limiting my activity, and taking it much easier than I normally do. And obviously, that was not enough to prevent dilation. I also felt pretty nervous, because it's easy to quickly let your imagination get away from you when it comes to the "what happens next?" questions, especially when you've been in a Level III NICU while they were working on a premature baby (thank you, nursing school, for that image that I will not be able to ever erase from my mind.)

My doctor sent me over to the hospital to OB receiving. I was hooked up to the fetal heart monitor and contraction monitor. Thankfully, I did not have any contractions (I was sick over the weekend with a very violent stomach bug, and the forceful vomiting may have contributed to the dilation, as could the fact that I did get dehydrated and had several contractions until I was able to re-hydrate.)

We have to go where?

The best news is that #4 looked perfect and healthy. He/She was showing off, doing all sorts of acrobatics while I was hooked up to the fetal monitor! The heart beat was strong with lots of good-looking variability.

Dr. Showalter and his little assistant, checking out the contraction and fetal heart monitor.

The doctors made the decision to go ahead with my first steroid shot. The shot helps the baby's lungs develop and mature more quickly, so that if the baby is born early, he/she will be able to breathe much better. Depending on how early the baby might come, we would probably still need to stay in the NICU for a few days/weeks/months, but the shots will help with the organ development. I will go back for another shot tomorrow. The shots start acting right away, but take full effect in 2 weeks, so if I had the baby in 2 weeks (at 30 weeks gestation), the baby's lungs would be equivalent to the lungs of a 32 week gestation baby. At this stage, every day matters... every day I can keep the baby in the womb is equal to 3 days less in the NICU.

Belly shot: my view of the monitors

Just for kicks, they decided to check my urine to see if I had a UTI (not that I had symptoms- just standard for pregnant women since it's more common in pregnancy.) I don't think I do, but some of the labs were elevated, so they decided to start antibiotics, just in case (the elevated labs could have been due to my stomach bug over the weekend, but they have no way of knowing one way or the other.) UTIs are actually associated with increased risk of preterm labor/birth, so of course, we want to avoid that (not to mention, they are UNcomfortable!) Better safe than sorry!

Lulled to sleep by the soothing rhythm of #4's amplified heartbeat.

After several hours, they re-checked my cervix. Thankfully, I was not dilated further than 1cm, so I was allowed to go home. (If I had dilated further, I would have been admitted.) I am on pretty strict bedrest, but because of my clotting disorder, they don't want me to stop moving altogether. I am allowed to do things like walk to the bathroom, shower, and brush my teeth. I am NOT allowed to do things like cook, dishes, clean, grocery shop, etc. And of course, no lifting. Not just heavy lifting. Lifting in general.

Emotionally, this is hard. There is, of course, concern about having the baby too early. But honestly, the 28 week mark is so important (it's the time when babies develop surfactant, the substance that helps the lungs open and inflate properly) that it's almost a relief to be this far before finding out about a problem! And really, I am so thankful that I can be at home for this--- without the great support of family and friends (and not to mention a husband-doctor who won't let me get away with anything), I would probably be stuck in the hospital. But it's hard to imagine doing nothing for the next several weeks. It's  not exactly "vacation-like," if you know what I mean. And I don't want to imagine what will happen if I continue to dilate. I don't know how to describe how overwhelming this feels, even though logically, it's not really overwhelming... it just is what it is. Sitting around on my but 23.5 hours a day. Kind of underwhelming, you know?

Anyway, that's where things stand. I get another steroid shot today, and otherwise it's tushie time until next Thursday when I see my OB again. My in-laws are going to come down to help out with stuff at the house and take care of the kids (my FIL first for a several days, then my MIL for about 2 weeks- working on a plan after that. Unfortunately, they are kind of stuck due to the flooding in PA right now. Thankfully, I have help today and John will be home all weekend, so it gives them a few days to dry out and try to find a ride down:)

Thank you all for your prayers. I can feel the peace and love of my Heavenly Father and all the saints surrounding me. John actually asked if I somehow found and took a Valium, that's how calm I am!

I didn't. But I did send John to the grocery last night since we desperately needed things like milk. And cereal.

And apparently this:

Better than Valium

Last night, I woke up in the middle of the night. I will admit that my somewhat random mind did spend more than a few minutes debating if I would Wingardium Leviosa the baby, if I was the Wingardium Leviosa type:)
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