Tuesday, January 31, 2012

My Baby is Two

*Although not the baby for long, he will always be my Gabey Baby...

Gabriel's birthday caught me unprepared again this year. First trimester fatigue (which should be going away any day now), my dad's 60th birthday last week (again no blog post), and just the busy-ness that comes with a family of soon to be eight children left me scrambling to pull together a birthday. Thankfully, all our little two-year old was concerned with was a cake and maybe a present. While everyone else got their much needed Sunday nap, I went out at the last minute and got a cake and attempted to find a fitting present.  My Gabe is a balloon lover, but after last week's fiasco I decided to forego the balloons this time.

Little Gabriel brings such joy to our home. His smile lights up the room. He recently has taken to wanting me to hold him on the couch. He hugs tighter, pinches harder, and smiles bigger than any two-year old I know. He has a way of giving orders to his siblings that make them actually want to do what he says, I think he has us all under his spell.

He's my little airplane lover. While Joseph is a wheels kind of boy, Gabe is a wings sort of boy. He loves to read books and to run, run, run. I have a feeling he'll be the one to watch sports with me as last week we were watching a sports clip on the Internet, when it was over he continued to ask for more game, more game. He is also relentless in any request. He'll ask over and over and over again until he gets his way.

Two years have certainly passed so very quickly. Two wonderful and exhausting years with boys. How blessed we are!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Kind of Day I'm Having

Every now and then we have one of those days around here. I admit they have been less frequent than a year or two ago, but things have been on a crescendo and I knew the day was coming. Dh has had to get up for the early Mass the last two days. The boys simply do not sleep through Dad getting ready in the morning, no matter how quiet he tries to be. So the last two days they have woken up more than an hour earlier than normal. Then naps were thrown off yesterday because they were both so tired. Mom, too, is still suffering from early pregnancy fatigue and is bone tired. I need a nap.

Then this morning hit. When dh called at 7:15 I had already had it up to my ears. Gabriel was overtired and would cry, or scream, or whine every time Joseph came within three feet of him. Joseph can of course sense this and hones in on the scent. My nerves were shot. Then shortly after breakfast they were caught with markers, hiding behind the rocker writing on the walls. OY!

The last straw was when I was summoned to the bathroom to find this:

Boys, seriously only my boys, would think to do this...

Monday, January 23, 2012

My (very meager) Witness for Life

“Give us the grace – When the sacredness of life before birth is attacked, to stand up and proclaim that no one ever has the authority to destroy unborn life.” ~ Pope John Paul II, from a homily given in 1979

Each year I dream of attending the March for Life, each year it seems my commitment to the culture of life keeps me from going. This year another adoption and birth means we have no vacation time to spare and one mom with six kids in a packed red eye bus just sounds like a disaster. However, our church sent four buses this year. Praise God! My friends certainly have my prayers today.

Instead this morning my march for life was to take six kids to yet another doctor's appointment. I had to do this Friday as well. I know it is a small and meager offering, but loading up all these little ones (especially with the winter weather that has finally arrived), corralling them in a waiting room, keeping them entertained in a tiny exam room, and somehow through the chaos conversing with the doctor can be overwhelming for me. It takes more energy and patience than I have.

It isn't that my children are poorly behaved. In fact, I usually get many comments about how well behaved and helpful they are. I do wish I saw more of that good behavior and helpfulness at home. It's just that we are the center of attention from the moment we arrive. No matter how well behaved or inconspicuous we try to be, as soon as we walk into those waiting rooms all eyes are on us. Then come the endless well-meaning questions that leave me feeling like the bearded lady at the freak show. I muddle through questions, but I struggle with the inevitable responses. The most common of these is, "You must be a saint!" Seriously, what am I supposed to say to that? "You should've seen me twenty minutes ago as I brow beat them all into the car, then you'd never doubt my status as mom-- not saint."

Maybe it is just an over-sensitivity from years of feeling like a side show at the circus, but I think there is more than a curiosity about our family. I think some people convince themselves that I must be somehow different because if I'm just a normal mom like them, it somehow threatens their reasons for not having more children. If I am just as unorganized, impatient, battle-weary, and overwhelmed as they are, perhaps another child isn't as impossible as it sounds. Maybe these aren't even their real reasons for not wanting another child. This makes them uncomfortable and it is just easier to make me seem like the bionic, or maybe just crazy lunatic, mom.

Today, I tried to witness to life by more patiently answering the questions about my family, by showing what a blessing all life is. I know it isn't the same as the support of those dear friends sacrificing sleep, warmth, and convenience by making the trek to DC. It was, however, my calling today. It was a prayer on my part that our country recognize the gravity of the lives lost for  mere convenience.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Happy First Birthday Peter!

Today is Peter's first birthday. I have been asked at least half a dozen times (I do have half a dozen kids) if we could have birthday cake even though he can't.  It is a bittersweet day for us. On one hand we are so thankful for this precious child. We anxiously await the joy we know he will bring our family and are so thankful he has been given the gift of life. We are also grateful we have been given the gift of sharing his life. It is difficult because we aren't there yet. This milestone reminds us how many hardships he has endured. In a culture that lavishes children on their birthday, we are poignantly reminded that today there will not be presents, there'll be no cake, nor candles, nor singing. He will spend another day and night in an orphanage waiting for the love of a family.

 He is too young to understand all the preparations we are making, can't see the mounds of paperwork we are slowly but surely making our way through. He can't hear his many brothers and sisters who pray every day for him. He can't comprehend how his life is about to change. Soon enough, God willing, we will have him home.. and then we will have a true celebration!

**The pictures were sent to right after Christmas to show how well Peter has done after having his cleft lip repaired. He will have his palate repaired after we bring him home.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

On the Eleventh Day of Christmas...

My true love gave me a miracle. A beautiful, wonderful, amazing miracle.

Around Thanksgiving, I just wasn't myself. I was grumpy. Not that I am not normally grumpy (who me?), but I was unusually irritable and prickly. It was then I knew.

In the bottom of a basket in our bathroom was an extra test, because being the thrifty mom I am, when the package said "2 for the price of 1" I was sold. I was surprised, but somehow not surprised, when two little pink lines showed up.

I can't begin to describe the emotions I felt holding that white stick. Part of me was thrilled at the idea of another little newborn in our house. Part of me was in disbelief as we are knee-deep (or rather shoulder-deep) in another adoption. I know that part shouldn't surprise me as we have found we were pregnant during each one of our adoptions, but I was surprised. I also was overwhelmed. This third adoption took a little more of a leap of faith for us. We are tired, overwhelmed, busy, and yet as I've said before these emotions pale in comparison to the conditions in which our little Peter finds himself. More importantly, we are called to go back and help another little child. I just wasn't expecting this extra surprise. After all, I am  older and we have had such fertility trouble. The natural space between our children has gotten longer with each child. I just assumed it would be longer this time if we were even blessed with another child.

Then, because of my history of miscarriage, I was worried. I immediately began progesterone shots. These shots make me more tired, more irritable, and are generally uncomfortable. If that didn't make me unlikable enough, I also banished all caffeine and my beloved Nice 'n Easy. To offset some of that unpleasantness, I began to take naps. I started blood tests and worries about every pregnancy symptom, but everything seemed to be progressing well.

Then three weeks ago I was scheduled for an ultrasound. I sat waiting in the exam room praying the Rosary, praying for strength, but expecting good news. I was somewhat taken aback when there was no heartbeat on that ultrasound monitor. My hormone levels were just where they should be, and more than high enough that there should have been a heartbeat. I was devastated.

I came home and broke the news to my family. We cried, we prayed, we grieved. One of my girls told a friend it was all okay, we were sort of used to this by now. My heart broke over and over again. I stopped taking the injections, I dyed my hair (oh my vanity). I tried to be normal. However, for three weeks I continued to physically feel tired, nauseous, and still just as grumpy.

I have always said the most difficult time is when you know you are going to miscarry and you are just waiting for it to happen. I feel like a walking tomb. You know the inevitable is coming and in some ways you dread it, but in other ways you want it to come swiftly so that the grieving process can be completed and life can get back to some semblance of normal. Not that I don't still grieve all my miscarriages, but there is something so difficult about this waiting time.

We celebrated Christmas and I tried to put aside how utterly exhausted I felt, and I still waited to actually miscarry.As we celebrated New Years, five of six children battled a stomach bug and I continued to not feel well. I began to fear an infection or some other complication because I still had no symptoms of a miscarriage, but the level of fatigue was really beginning to wear on me. I called and made an appointment.

This morning I had another ultrasound. Again I sat in the exam room praying Hail Mary after Hail Mary. I was again praying for strength. I knew chances were this was the last time I would catch even a glimpse of my little child. I was worried about a likely DNC, most of all I was just sad.

As I watched the screen, however, I began to see a little flutter. The technician said, "Here's your baby, do you see that flutter? That is the heartbeat." I knew what it was, but still I gasped. She didn't realize I wasn't expecting to see that beautiful, truly miraculous sight. I cried at the stunning way God has formed each of us. So hidden from us, here was a beautiful new life made to bring glory to our creator. The technician began checking other things, but I asked if I could see that beautiful child just one more time. She was happy to oblige an elated, tearful mom. She even flipped on the sound so I could hear the heartbeat. Oh what joy!

We are not out of the woods. I have had late miscarriages even after seeing heartbeats. Still, today was miraculous. A true Christmas gift on this eleventh day of Christmas. Please keep this precious child in your prayers. Pray for our family too. We again are going to have quite a year adding another two children to our family.