(HIS) TIMING IS EVERYTHING

PhotobucketAs I sat down on our bed to start this new posting, the babies are kicking up a storm… kinda like popcorn popping… they must sense they’re about to get attention!! It’s been about four weeks since I first felt them on the outside of my belly with my hand, the littlest thump but more than just a flutter on the inside. It took a few days after that for them to kick more than once and give me the chance to get Scott’s hand in on the excitement… I’ll never forget his expression when he exclaimed, “I felt ‘em!!” The ultrasounds still show them head to head and facing each other… we’re sure they’ve been playing with each other, and now us.

We’re exactly six months into our pregnancy, about twelve weeks away from full-term for twins… the old adage is true, it does go by fast. With the movements and my belly growing daily it seems, it’s becoming so real in the most incredible way. I can’t remember the exact day our thoughts started shifting from “will both of these babies stay in the womb long enough to be viable?”, to something like “will they be born the week before or at full-term?” Since their full-term date is during the kids’ Spring Break, I’d love for the twins to get here just a few days early (but no more!!) so we can all be home together for that week!!

A couple of visits ago, it was wonderful to hear my high-risk OB say “I think you were made for this!!”. Carrying twins and at 42 no less makes me a candidate for any number of physical aliments that could bring on pre-term labor, but it appears God has seen fit to spare us from them all… I’ve passed two glucose tests (my results weren’t even close to borderline), my blood pressure is less than 10 points higher than before I was pregnant, which was considered extremely low to begin with (no doubt aided by early retirement!), my cervix is holding up like a champ (no incompetence there!), and despite only being able to gain about 15 pounds (verses an ideal of 35 so far) the babies are both a few days bigger than their target size for gestational age… they’re getting everything they need and growing at the same pace. Praise God!!

We fully realize anything can still happen in these last twelve weeks, we continue to pray for God’s grace, but it’s exciting to know there’s a very distinct chance now that these babies will be born plump and come home at the same time I do. That’s been our only concern at the thought of bringing these two precious little lives into this world… their physical health. As those concerns have started to wane, I’ve been amazed at the calmness God has given Scott and me about every other element of becoming new parents and growing our family.

It struck me this morning, although there may be perceived drawbacks of having children later in life… diminished energy level, pushing off the golden years, occasionally being asked if we’re the grandparents!! just to name a few… Scott and I thought through these and actually saw many of them as pluses. Our oldest will be heading off to college in four years, and we’re nowhere near close to wanting those empty nest years… our kids keep us young, and the twins will only extend that. This morning I had the clearest sense, “if I were 22 and having these babies I’d be petrified… but at 42 I’m lovin’ every minute of it, and have no fears.”

Having a clear sense of who we are and what we believe in as individuals, confidence in what our marriage and family is anchored on, the ability to retire and completely focus on our family, greater wisdom through experience, solidified faith in God’s presence… with all these rooted under our belts, it’s comforting to know we will not be establishing our own growing-up while we’re also rearing our two little girls.

I was blessed to have lived an incredible life before I ever met Scott… traveling over forty countries on five continents, encountering some of the most astonishing people, setting personal goals and achieving them, being able to immediately shut down everything else in my life when my sister, Julie, became ill and needed me, immersing myself in The Word. I never lamented my single years, I maximized them… and, in retrospect, they have made me ready for marriage and to completely embrace motherhood. Some people marry and have children quite young, doing it beautifully. I just knew I was not to be one of them. Scott and I continue to grow together, along with our children… and I am so thankful for the solid base I had on my own first, I pull from it every day.

I have no regrets, but rather have complete confidence that this is the exact time in my life I was meant to become a wife and mother. I thank God for the advent of embryo adoption and the two He intentionally selected to place in my womb for us… I couldn’t imagine it more perfect. Ephesians 2:10

p.s. happy 5th anniversary sweetheart, I love you!!!

I’M DA MAMA

Photobucket17 weeks preggos today. It’s been 2 weeks since we’ve last seen the gummy bear. I’m prayerfully believing that he/she is still in there, and God is knitting him/her together as only He knows how.

I’m still nauseated and vomiting, although it is much less frequent. I feel like how I felt in weeks 6-8 of the pregnancy, before the mother lode hit. Although annoying, God has given it to me as a comforting side effect to trust that all is well in the oven. I have to say, I don’t know how I’m going to gain all this weight I’m supposed to. I read somewhere I’m supposed to gain 12-14 lbs this trimester. I’m trying, but it’s a lot harder than I thought! To most of the world, I don’t look pregnant. But I’m still proudly wearing my maternity clothes because it helps me feel more pregnant.

I’ve had some great email interactions with our donors over the last couple of weeks. They are a Godsend. I had read somewhere that even though I’m not the genetic mama, I am the biological mama. This baby and I are physically and biologically connected. My blood, oxygen, food and water intake, all flow to and through this baby and the placenta. We are intertwined. Whatever I do, it affects this baby. That’s a powerful responsibility. And yet, there is still this vacuum between us. This cavern I cannot fill. We do not share genes. I will not be able to look at him/her and marvel, oh, you have my ears. You have Daddy’s eyes.

Yes, that’s a little bothersome. But that is just something you have to get over when you adopt. We did with our son. And yet, he resembles and reflects us more every day. No, he doesn’t have Mommy’s lips. No, he doesn’t have Daddy’s nose. But yes, he has Mommy’s demeanor. And yes, he has Daddy’s sense of humor. He makes the same gestures and mannerisms we do. Who he is mirrors us. If he grew up in any other home, he’d be a totally different person.

I believe that about this baby.

I relayed all of this in an email to our donor last week. Her response back was priceless. She said that although it took her several years to decide to choose adoption, several years to come to grips with the fact that this wasn’t one of her children — she wasn’t giving away one of her kids — this was a totally unique person, when God introduced us, it felt right. She calls this baby “my” (as in yours truly) baby. She doesn’t say it’s “her” baby, or even “our” baby. This is mine. She doesn’t claim any ownership or right to this child. She knows, just as I do, that the children she has were a gift from God just as this child is. Sure, they share the same genetics, but that doesn’t make a family.

It was reassuring to hear all of this. I’ve never doubted she felt that way, but it’s just nice to hear.

So, now, I’m in the business of really trying to connect with this child. It’s funny. I thought having a baby in my belly would make it so much easier to feel bonded. It doesn’t. I don’t know if it’s a boy or girl, and I haven’t felt any movement that I can recognize. I’m hoping knowing the sex, and feeling the baby move, will help solidify a connection. I’m not necessarily worried about never having a connection. As soon as our son was born, I was bonded. I would have laid down my life for him. I’m sure I’ll feel that once this child is born. It would be nice to feel it sooner.

“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’ Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.’”

Luke 2: 8-14

WE’RE TWO OF A KIND, WORKIN’ ON A FULL HOUSE!

PhotobucketOk, this posting is purely for fun!

Seventeen years ago, Scott had a ticket to see Garth Brooks but had to give it away at the last minute when he started a new job that required him to be out of town that week for new-hire training. Scott had mentioned this to me some years later, and although I felt for him missing the concert I was secretly glad since if he had not taken that job I never would have met him several years later (it was his first job in the pharma industry). I could imagine it being a coin toss for him as to whether or not to stay in town for the show and pass on the job… but he is a very responsible and hard worker.

Right after we were married five years ago and unbeknownst to Scott, I joined the Garth Brooks fan club on the crazy chance he’d come out of retirement and perform again… it had been since 1999, I believe, that he had put on a concert.

Well, imagine my surprise when I received an email early this year that Garth was going to be performing for a limited engagement in Las Vegas at the Wynn’s Encore Theatre. I have to say, Las Vegas is Scott’s and my least favorite city… something else we are compatible on. We have to go there once, sometimes, twice a year for company meetings and we absolutely dread it… but we’d overlook the locale for Garth! I went ahead and surprised Scott for Father’s Day with two tickets to the Oct 24th performance… it was a Sunday and we’d fly in and out over the weekend for the show. I knew at the time there was a chance that we’d be pregnant (our transfer had already been targeted for July) but I figured, at most, we’d be 3+ months in. I selected front row balcony seats so I could sit, if needed.

But, alas, that opportunity to see Garth live would not come to pass either for Scott. By early October my doctor had written an order that I should not fly for work. I was traveling almost every week and to the west coast… which is just about as strenuous from Knoxville as it is to get to Europe! My blood pressure had spiked and my hands were cramping… neither good for trying to rush through airports and then sit in meetings/dinners for the rest of the afternoon/evening. Scott felt so strongly about protecting our two little girls that he quickly decided we should forgo even a relaxed trip to Las Vegas despite it meaning he’d miss the concert again. I wasn’t surprised though at how well he took it, he’s an awesome father. I felt badly though.

Well, four days after we missed that show… and on my birthday no less, Garth announced what became nine Nashville Benefit concerts to raise money for this summer’s historical floods. He must have decided to come back since we had to miss the Wynn show for the twins… how sweet of him and what amazing timing!!

My girlfriend, Sallie, immediately called to tell me and we planned how we were going to work our computers the day of sale until we secured tickets. When I told Scott he was beside himself… it appeared God had been pleased with Scott’s responsible decisions in the past and provided us a third time as the charm. Since we’re only two hours from Nashville by car, the trip is doable for the twins and me.

We decided to attend two of the shows… this Monday and Tuesday. Nonna and Poppa had the kids for their annual pre-Christmas trip to Gatlinburg so we were clear. Monday night we went with Sallie, her husband and son. It meant a lot to be there together since Sallie is also a huge fan and one song… “If Tomorrow Never Comes”… is extra special to her ever since she had an aneurism 10 years ago and learned what it feels like to almost not make it through.

For the second show we went with Scott’s brother, Brent (who was the thrilled recipient of Scott’s ticket 17 years ago!) and our sister-in-law, Karen. What Scott didn’t know was that for this second show I splurged and secured us a different set of tickets… sixth row center!! When my girlfriend, Wendy, was visiting two weekends ago for our baby shower, she pushed me over the hump to buy them… Scott’s already sent her a huge thank you!!

I conserved my energy all day Tuesday and the twins were great… they let me make it through the whole show without a single potty break, even though they started kicking during “Friends in Low Places”… which Scott and I thought was ironic, considering they’re usually slaying on my bladder!!!

It was our last hurrah before the girls are born and we’re coddling 7×24… and it was a good one. Garth has some really silly songs but also some with profoundly beautiful lyrics. “Unanswered Prayers” will always remind me of my desperate prayer to God thirteen years ago when my sister, Julie, was first diagnosed with cancer that it would be better for it to be me than her. And now I think our new family song is “Two of a Kind, Workin’ on a Full House”… with three terrific kids already and another pair on the way!!

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GOD’S AWESOME FAITHFULNESS

PhotobucketOn July 21st 2008, Scott and I were on our last day with the kids and Poppa Mike finishing an incredible two-week vacation in Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. We were all up early to get a couple good hikes in. At the same time, Scott and I peeked at our Blackberries before stepping into the National Park and out of cell service. There was an unexpected email from our CEO with an “Important Announcement”… Roche, a silent but majority owner, had made an offer to buy all outstanding shares of Genentech. It took Roche over eight months to get the deal closed, but on March 31st, 2009 it happened. Throughout the Spring and Summer of 2009 there were ongoing strategic discussions as how best to consolidate the companies with duplicate personnel being notified in August if they would be the ones to lose their jobs. Scott and I both retained our jobs.

What was interesting in that year of uncertainty was how God used the time to prepare our hearts, particularly mine, for something completely different. We had pretty much determined by that time that the kids were ready to grow our family. They were happy and we were all settled in together. The hesitation to move forward with adoption was on my part… how would I manage my job and a child or children at home full-time? It was not uncommon for me to be in my home office for 14 hours a day, and that was when I wasn’t traveling two to four days a week. It would be impossible to keep this job and have a child… besides, who in their right mind considers quitting a good paying job in this economy??! My job was all-consuming and I was filled with fear when I couldn’t see clearly how it would all get worked out.

But as God promises, He worked it all out beyond our wildest expectations and was extraordinarily patient with me in the process. He spoke to us every step of the way, providing reassurance and showing us His awesomeness. During that year, He kept saying to me… ‘For God doesn’t give us a spirit of fear, but one of power, and love, and of sound mind’ (2 Timothy 1:7). The voice was so loud that Scott and I had that verse stenciled above the window in our master bedroom overlooking the Smoky Mountains.

My first step in obedience was a baby one… I committed that if I lost my job then we’d be ready to move forward with adoption. It was only in hindsight that I saw the foolishness of this mindset… God wanted us to trust in Him, making this decision for Him and one or more of His children, not as a consolation to losing a job. But He still used it all in His Plan in that when I didn’t lose my job in August 2009 I realized how disappointed I was. By early December 2009 we had our application packet from Bethany and were moving forward… despite not knowing all the answers down the road.

God spoke to us over and over again, showing us that He was with us and would provide.

On December 30th, 2009 I received a call from Scott’s boss… Scott had been selected for one of the most prestigious awards at Genentech, one that was recognized throughout the industry. A video crew was to fly to Knoxville to secretly film the family congratulating him, to be played in late January 2010 at the awards ceremony in Las Vegas in front of 4,000 colleagues!! Ok, maybe we could be safe with one income… not that I didn’t have complete faith in my husband as a provider it’s just that, after 20 years in the professional work force myself, I’ve always felt for single bread-winners who have a family at home… what pressure. I guess that’s when I learned that with God, Scott’s not alone in providing for our family. We also had been blessed with a spirit of frugalness in that we had saved quite a bit of my income over the years.

Then in March 2010, Scott and I spontaneously decided to cancel our Spring Break trip to Aspen and chose instead to travel to Central Asia with a small group from our church on a mission trip. The experience was life changing. We returned a week later on the day before Easter feeling as if we’d been gone for only five minutes. It was the Monday morning after Easter that the NEDC called and offered us an appointment for that Thursday… they just had a cancellation and we were local. Had we been in Aspen, we wouldn’t have been home to return the call until Wednesday and likely would have missed the opportunity for that appointment.

And then in early Summer, as we were anticipating our transfer, my cat Charlotte suddenly took ill. She had been with me for 17 years. I’ll spare you all the details, but she was my baby. She took to my lap every evening as we sat on the couch, and hung out with me in my office all day. Scott had a good heart about it when she would walk over him to get to my lap… not that she didn’t take his if I was out of town. The only exception was for about a two-week period of time last Winter when she would not settle into my lap… she’d spin and spin and then go to Scott. What’s funny is during those days Scott and I suspected I was in early pregnancy (which was obviously not viable). I know Charlotte could sense something was different too. Charlotte died on July 19th, 2010. One of my dear friends called it the circle of life, and it was true. Charlotte gave me one full day to grieve her before we went in for our transfer, and what turned out to be our twin girls. God had given Charlotte to me to hold and take care of all those years, and as it turned out she stayed with me just long enough to provide me companionship until I had another baby to fill that spot.

Our transfer was July 21st 2010, two years to the day after we received the first announcement that our company was being acquired. As our babies grew this Fall, there was an announcement that another downsizing was coming, rumor had it at 4,000 jobs. I manage a team of three people, most of my fellow front line managers have teams of seven to ten. I knew this time I was a prime candidate for job elimination, as my three team members could easily be folded into another team.

On November 17th at 8 am I got that call… I would receive salary until I was scheduled to go on maternity leave (without expectation of fulfilling any current job responsibilities), then short-term disability (eight weeks pre-due date plus six to eight weeks post delivery), and then what equals a 60+ week severance package. I was five months pregnant with twins and effectively retired but with another year and a half of salary. What perfect timing… all by His doing. And what’s most important to us… there was one more employee and his family who were able to keep their job when they really wanted it.

Scott was nervous that I would have a difficult time slipping into retirement, managing our house rather than multi-billion dollar negotiations. I’m pleased to say God’s timing and the preparation of my heart, as always, was perfect. I would definitely be clinging to my career without Him, but am doing wonderfully thanks to His patience, love and faithfulness… I can’t imagine a greater blessing than our healthy, growing family and being here full-time to take care of them. Ephesians 3:20

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PROGRESSION OF A BABY BUMP

PhotobucketSo, here it is: My 1-pound-baby bump.

Seems so silly I’ve been in maternity pants since 9 weeks.

The first pic is at 4 weeks — the day we found out. The second is at 6.5 weeks. The third is at 9 weeks. The fourth is at 12.5 weeks. The fifth is today, at 15 weeks, 2 days.

On a side note, I’ve felt MUCH better today. And my appetite has returned. I’ve been craving poached eggs on toast all day. In fact, I’ve eaten a total of 5 eggs and 3 pieces of toast today. Love to see what my cholesterol is right now.

But the real question is, what does it mean that I’m craving eggs?

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15 WEEK ULTRASOUND

PhotobucketWe had our 15 week ultrasound today. I’m not sure that most doctors even DO a 15 week ultrasound, but nonetheless, we had one. The baby looks great — good measurements, good heartbeat. We were “hoping” the doctor would be able to tell the gender, but our blessing was covering his/her genitalia. Modest soul. The doctor also remarked at its position. Its head was bowed down, and it was curled up. The doctor said, “Well, I don’t see this often. But it looks like your baby is praying!”

Now, I’m not sure if our doctor is a Christian or not, but it was a blessing indeed to see that, and have the doctor make that remark.

We also got to see the baby move a little bit, and breathe in and out. But mostly, it looked like it was sleeping.

We got the results back from the genetic screening. The Downs test came back 1:500 chance. For an embryo created from a 31-year-old woman (the donor, and coincidentally, me), the odds are more like 1:460. So these odds are excellent. Thank you, Jesus! The other genetic tests all came back with stellar odds.

The one small bump, pun intended, is that I’ve only gained 1 pound. 1 pound in 15 weeks. The vomiting and nausea has not helped in this department. The average is between 3-5 pounds. So I have some catching up to do. Coincidentally, or not, this evening I’ve actually felt kind of normal. I don’t take too much stock in that, however, because every time I’ve started to feel good, I take 2 steps back the next day.

No more ultrasounds or appointments until the big 20 week appointment, set for January 18.

I have to say. I’m hoping for a girl.

I hope to post some baby bump pictures in the next couple days. If I have gained 1 pound, it is all in my stomach.

THEY’RE ALMOST HERE!!!

PhotobucketWe’re finishing our 23rd week of pregnancy today and we just had a full anatomy scan of the twins… we can’t believe our little girls will be here with us in this world in about three months (God willing He keeps them in there for that long)!! It’s amazing how smooth the pregnancy has been, despite some colds that lingered, early swelling caused by a doubling in blood volume and other fluids, and high blood pressure that was instantly cured with early retirement. They’re right at the size the doctors want them to be (actually a few days bigger) and they’re getting strong… I’ve been feeling flutters for a couple of weeks, but then last night I felt their first kick / punch with my hand on the outside of my belly… what an amazing thing!

Scott and I were reflecting this morning on when we told the kids how we were going to adopt. Initially, before Bethany completed their assessment and Dr. Keenan cleared me to carry, we had just filled the kids in that we were starting the process for being considered candidates for adoption. We needed them aware because they would be part of the adoption assessment with the in-home interviews. Bethany was great at allowing us to be very general with the kids. We didn’t want to be too definitive, as anyone with kids knows… if plans, of any sort, seem to be set and then change it has a tendency to kind of knock kids off-kilter, especially with something so new and big as adoption. So we took it one step at a time.

We were out for pizza one evening this Spring and started sharing with them that Dad and I believed God had answered our prayers on the decision to adopt. They were elated to say the least, as they were the ones that initially planted the seeds a few years early that kicked us into gear on research and prayer. Immediately, they had questions on age… newborn, toddler, youth (they were even open to a teenage brother… ala The Blind Side!!)… and location… domestic or international. We just told them those questions would be worked out as we moved along and God would lead us to the child for our family. They were incredible, open to any options and just filled with excitement. They really wanted to bring a child into our lives that needed a loving home and family.

Over the next several weeks they bounced around the house asking various questions on timing and did we know more specifics yet. They were planning where their new brother or sister would sleep, and how we’d all fit into our SUV. They started telling their friends, and the excitement grew.

Then, when we received final approval from Bethany and my mock cycle was complete with Dr. Keenan, we brought the kids together with the video camera and filled them in that God had led us to embryo adoption. It was amazing how quickly they got the science behind it all… but they were also touched, as Scott and I had been, to learn of the hundreds of thousands of lives frozen in time waiting to be born. They were so excited about being able to be part of the pregnancy, that they could get multiple brothers or sisters, and that our family would be helping to raise awareness for these little lives that very few people had ever even heard about.

As we approached our transfer date, Carol Sommerfelt, Director / Embryologist for the NEDC, graciously offered to allow us to bring the kids in for a tour so they could get an even greater understanding. Carol is unbelievably gifted, not only in her ability to start-up and run such an important medical program but she also had that special touch with our kids to draw out any questions they might have and put them completely at ease.

The highlight of the tour was when she opened one of the several liquid nitrogen-filled canisters that held the embryos stored at the NEDC. The smoke came billowing from the top, and she explained that was from the incredibly low temperatures inside. She then shared that there were about 5,000 embryos inside each canister. Our kids asked, “Is our brother or sister inside?”, and she said yes. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

A few weeks later we had our transfer, which was obviously very successful. It was such a thrill to come home from our first ultrasound appointment eleven days later and share that the pictures showed two sacs developing and then a couple weeks later than that to share that there were indeed two strong heartbeats.

Our lives are already incredibly blessed and forever changed by these little girls, we can’t wait for them to get here in our arms and begin the next part of our journey all together. Psalm 127:3