Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Batman and Roger...

I never thought this day would come. For 7 years now, my life has been solely dedicated to meeting the various needs of babies.

But things are changing...

The diapers are packed away and unneeded. The pacis have been tossed into the trash. There's no more midnight feedings or lifting a little one out of its crib to comfort. No more stroller rides, baby swings, high chairs, onesies, etc.

My baby is three today! Its such a momentous occasion and so bittersweet. I used to look at envy at the moms who could sit on the park bench as their children played, while I ran around corraling two toddlers with a baby on my hip. I dreamed for the day when backyard play meant I actually got to sit in the lawn chair with a good book that I had all set up waiting for me when I got a moments break.

Those times never came and I went to bed exhausted and praying for a second of peace for tomorrow.

But the time has finally come for me to sit...and sit...and sit and wait for my kids to ask me to join them. It's bittersweet because I do enjoy the quiet and the moments to catch up on good book, but I miss their need for me. I miss them asking me to push them, play with them, talk to them. They don't need me anymore, they have the neighbors and cousins and other playmates. Wrigley has moved on past diapers and pacis. He would rather jump on the trampoline with a friend than bounce with me.

But he still has his moments, usually when he's tired. Then he puts his arms up like a little baby to be held and holds my ears...

Wrigley's due date was September 11th but because all my other births were c-sections, he would be a repeat as well. My delivery date was set for September 4th and even though my mom personally begged the doctor to move it to September 3rd (her 50th birthday)he said he wouldn't operate on Thursdays...so the 4th it was.

Somewhere around the 26th I started getting really itchy. There was no rash but my hands and the palms of my feet were unbearably itchy. My doctor told me to take some Benadryl to relieve the itchiness in case it was an allergic reaction.

It didn't work and the next day the doctor decided to do some more research. That night Nick's best friend, Greg, offered to babysit the kids so we could go on one final date before the delivery of our third child. While at dinner, my ob called and informed me that my liver was leaking into my blood stream and that our best option was to deliver the baby sooner. We made plans for that Saturday, August 30th.

The morning I was to deliver was uneventful. Nick and I left around 6 am and went to a nearly deserted hospital because of the weekend. Everything went according to plan and by 8:30 I was in the operating room.

Based on my other deliveries, I knew that my baby would be out in 10 minutes and I would be in recovery within 30. However, I didn't know that my uterus had already ruptured and that my poor baby boys hair was visible when they opened me up. I should have known when my experienced doctor said, "What is that?" That something was not right.

It took 3 times longer than expected and at 9:32 a.m. my little Wrigley James Kellerstrass was born. After another hour and a half in the operating being sewn back up, I was in the recovery room waiting to be reunited with my new son.

During this time, Nick had rolled Wrigley out to meet his big brother and sister. They were anxiously waiting with their Grandmas and Grandpas to meet their new little man and learn his name. Someone asked Amra what she thought of her new baby brother and her response, "He's a mess!!!"

Fast forward three years and I think this still identifies my crazy baby. He is ALL boy and is as active as they come. He is all fun and loves to laugh. As the third, he's my most laid back kid with a great sense of humor. But I'll tell you one thing, he's the one that has me constantly scratching my head thinking where did that kid come from? He is another species all together...his father's species.

We love you so much Wrigley James and although you constantly keep me on my toes, you are a true blessing from God and I am the luckiest person ever to be able to call you my son. Happy 3rd Batman Birthday, my little Wriggsy Piggs!!!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

3 months in five minutes...

or ten. I tend to be long winded. Since the end of May, we have made huge strides in our adoption. Every time we checked another box off our timeline list of things to do, I felt guilty that I didn't put it on the blog. But like I said yesterday, I didn't feel much like opening my soul to the world, so I just kept to myself. But now is the time to catch everyone up to where we currently stand.

On May 23rd, we had our fingerprint appointment with Homeland Security. These fingerprints are run through the FBI to make sure we are not big time criminals. Luckily, we passed...besides a few tickets, Nick and I are pretty upstanding citizens. The fingerprint appointment made for a nice weekend in Chicago where we took the kids to a Children's Museum, Chicago-style pizza at Giordanos and the highlight of the trip: swimming in the hotels hot tub (someone threw up in the pool so we were restricted to the hot tub...the kids didn't mind).

Two weeks after our fingerprints were taken, we received our I-171H, which is a VERY important document for an adoption and the LAST document we needed to complete our dossier!!! My friend Danae and I took a Friday afternoon to drive to Springfield to get all of our documents authenticated and to have a nice lunch.

Danae and I found a Thai restaurant that earned rave reviews and we decided to try it out. After driving to the ends of Springfield, we finally found the abandoned looking shack of a restaurant. In front of the restaurant was a run down minivan with the license plate POO VAN. We looked at each other in half horror and half humor and decided to book it out of there. We did another quick internet search and discovered they had moved the restaurant downtown. We ended up having lunch there and it was delicious, but I will always have POO VAN seared in my mind.

I'd heard rumors that almost everyone has to make two trips due to a document not be completed correctly...and this rang true for us, too. So, Monday afternoon I packed up the kids and made the return trip to Springfield to get our last document authenticated and shipped off our dossier to Children's Hope International, our adoption agency. It was an AMAZING feeling to have everything I was able to do completed.

For two weeks we waited for the documents to be shipped to the embassy in Washington D.C. During that time we had our fundraiser, Operation 127. We were able to take our new friend Kathy's house and in one day we repainted her living room, dining room, and kitchen, installed new countertops, painted and installed new hardware for her cabinets, painted the entire exterior of her home, and installed a permanent air conditioner for her. We were so blessed to be working alongside 30 volunteers of our family and best friends. It was a wonderful day for all, and helped raise $4200 towards our adoption. Talk about blown away!

On June 24th we got the news. I was so excited to open the e-mail...we were officially a waiting family!!! It is such a wonderful feeling! We were #44 on a list that includes those adopting boys, girls, and sibling groups. In reality, it meant we were further on the list, but how far we are not sure. They told us that the wait time was typically 12-15 months. We were hopeful for a much shorter time and that within a year we would be bringing our little girl home.

Many uneventful weeks went by and we were happy to wait without any responsibility on my shoulder of things I needed to do. Unfortunately, we noticed there were not any referrals being given in the meantime. We waited and waited but nothing. At the end of July, we received an upsetting email from our agency. Do to some issues in Ethiopia, the government was closing down 18-20 orphanages in Southern Ethiopia so that they could begin to focus more on humanitarian aid. The children were all moved into other orphanages, but referrals were being stopped for the moment. I felt defeated again.

Adoption is an emotional journey. There are so many moments of excitement, moments of waiting, and more moments of disappointment. I'd heard it all, but thought for sure our journey would be a smooth one...I guess I am not the exception :)

Currently we are still waiting and in two months we've moved one spot. #43. To me it seems so unreal and like it will never happen. I'm so used to getting pregnant, feeling instantly bonded to the life inside of me and knowing that in 38 precious weeks, I will hold my baby forever and ever. Adoption is so different. Nick says its like a period in a pregnancy where guys kind of disconnect from it all because they don't have the same bonding feeling. They kind of forget about the pregnancy it is not all consuming for them. I guess I'm just getting to experience how all my pregnancies felt to Nick. It's hard, especially for a control freak, however I'm learning all about God's perfect timing.

I'm learning that right now not having to stress about timelines and paperwork and just waiting without an end in sight is a great way for me to continue to focus on myself and heal. So at this point, my prayer is that we will bring our little girl home in the next year or so, but we will patiently wait and see.

Please be in prayer for the orphans in Ethiopia who really would love to be with a forever family and whose cases are being stalled due to the government shutdown. Also be in prayer for the people of Africa who are facing one of the worst drought and famine they have had in decades. These are our brothers and sisters around the world and they need our prayers and support!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

If I say I'm sorry, will you take me back...

It's been almost a year since I first started this blog. A chance to take the down the walls surrounding our little family and share the journey to bringing our daughter home from Ethiopia. A way to share the ups and downs of our daily walk and to be honest about the emotional struggles of highs and lows that we were to experience. But also a way for friends and family to follow this process and to know how to pray for us each step of the way.

I never intended to drive our blog into the ground...

But I also never intended the Titanic size year that we would have and how many emotions (good, bad, UGLY) that we would go through. I never knew that we would experience the life altering year that battered us to rag dolls. I never expected that I would be so raw that the only thing that I really wanted to do was dig a hole and escape.

Avoidance became my coping mechanism. In general, I'm a selfish person. I like my "free time" in the afternoon while the kids take some quiet time for themselves. I like to have my nights at home staring at the tv with Nick at my side. It's not really romantic, but just being together is enough.

But even as a selfish person, I try my best to help others out. I enjoy being a hostess in my home to friends and family. I enjoy taking care of kids while their parents are able to run errands, enjoy a morning off, or just take a breather for a bit. I like being there for someone who just needs someone to talk to. But this summer was different.

This summer I dropped off the face of the earth. Not in a depressed, hopeless way, but as a way to allow myself time to grieve. I gave my kids all of my attention and did not seek to satisfy any one else's needs. It all seems so selfish, but it was so needed.

This summer was not pretty, not by any means. I struggle with emotions, especially sadness. I HATE to cry. It makes me feel sick, ugly, and then even worse than I did before because I feel sick and ugly. My sadness comes out in anger and avoidance towards people who I feel most vulnerable too.

Unfortunately, the people I care the most about receive the biggest brunt of my anger. My husband, my children, my family, and my closest friends. In July after yelling at Nick for probably the 100th time that day, he confronted me about it. To me, it's just venting and letting that deep hurt out, but to him its a constant stab and cut to him and all that he does for me.

That night laying in bed, I started thinking about all that I was feeling and realized that I was affecting my relationships and I could do something about it. I may have been in an abyss of pain and sadness, but I didn't have to drive the people I care most about away. In fact, I needed them close to me. In that moment, I decided that in order save what I hold most dear, I needed to let my mom go and move forward.

It's the thing that is the hardest to do. To say you are moving on, is to say that you accept this life without her and that it's ok. It's saying that you are forgetting the very memory of the person whose biggest request is that they not be forgotten. It almost feels like you are turning your back on the person you just wish could be with you all the time.

But it's not. It's a tribute. It's saying I'm going to keep living because she would want me to. She wouldn't want me feeling angry at the world on her behalf, she'd want me to take my kids in my arms and kiss them thousands of times and hug them so hard that there is no mistake that I love them. She'd want me to honor and respect my husband and to be the God-fearing wife and mother that she was to us. She'd want me to embrace my friends and not run from them. She'd want me to be an example of the woman that she raised me to be.

That was six months after her death and it was like a weight lifted off my shoulders. I couldn't carry that longing pain anymore.

I'm not sorry for the selfish way I spent my summer. If anything, it healed a broken family from the unstable ground we had been walking for two years. Healing is beginning in myself, my husband, my children, our family. We will walk out of this stronger, better, and closer to Jesus.

I am sorry that I let so much time pass and so many major steps go by in our adoption without sharing them with all of you. I look forward to reopening our blog and sharing with all of you what we've been up to and where we are in the process. We are so grateful to each one of you for your prayers, support, and patience as we dealt with circumstances far out of our control. We relish the day that we get to bring home our little girl whose name will represent the woman I most wanted to be...my mom.

PS Here is a song I wanted to share with you all that has been in my heart this summer.