22 WEEKS; AND A TODDLER

PhotobucketWe are 22 weeks tomorrow. According to my pregnancy book, this is the last week of my 5th month. And I think I’m finally out of the woods with the nausea and vomiting. I still have a pretty sensitive stomach, especially at night, so my appetite is pretty sparse. I eat a lot of cereal and Eggos. And, I’ve become a vegetarian during this pregnancy.

I feel Sienna move every day — usually when I’m lying down or after I’ve eaten. Although I still don’t “love” the movements, I’m soooo very grateful for them. They are a reminder that she is here. And for that, I greatly appreciate them.

I’m slowly starting to turn Brae’s nursery into Sienna’s nursery. What was yellow and blue decor will now be yellow and pink decor. I’ve started buying some girly clothes — and — um — I LOVE that!

Brae is starting to say Sienna’s name, and say “sister,” although I’m confident he still has no idea what is going on, or what is about to rock his world in about 4.5 months.

Can I just say that I love God’s timing? I am SO looking forward to having a summertime maternity leave! Brae will still be in school, and I just cannot wait for warm, balmy nights sitting out on our patio, going on vacations, and, well, just SUN! With Brae being born on Halloween, I was cooped up for most of my maternity leave, often snowed in. So I am relishing the beauty of God’s timing with this one.

Brae has learned his primary colors, and is speaking in short sentences. Very short. Like, “It’s dark outside.” and “Mommy, it’s nigh-night time.” and “Daddy, sit down.”

He remains obsessed with basketball. He went to his first “live” basketball game the other night, and was completely mesmerized. He’s also very mechanical. Loves puzzles and blocks and Legos. He’s also gotten very good at the harmonica — playing it naked, with his diaper on, and his boots on the wrong feet.

And, he loves to push my buttons. At the moment, he’s supposed to have quiet time in his room before I turn off his night light. And, yet, I can hear him taking every. single. book. off. his. shelf. and throwing them all on the floor. There must be over a hundred.

But, he remains the happiest boy you will ever meet. He is extremely outgoing and friendly and never ceases to put a smile on people’s faces.

If it’s true that they say 90% of who we are today is a product of our environment, then I’m grateful for the opportunity God has given us to be his parents. And I cannot wait for Sienna to meet him.

MY HUSBAND, OUR MARRIAGE

PhotobucketI was enjoying afternoon tea with a friend yesterday and, among other things, we were chatting about how unfortunate it is when a woman thinks it’s constructive (not to mention enjoyable for others) to constantly criticize or complain about their husband. I realize I may be touching on a hot third rail here… to be fair, there are men who do the same toward their wives.

I don’t intend to preach on how to create or sustain a healthy marriage… that’s an entirely different blog and God knows I’m not perfect at it!! (There are some very helpful books on the subject, though, based on biblical principles.) I share this initial thought regarding disgruntled spouses only as a preface to also say how annoying it can be when someone constantly brags about what an awesome marriage he or she has. Well, I fall into the latter camp of annoying people!! I try not to gloat too often, but we are truly blessed… and we give all the praise to God.

Scott’s been in Las Vegas this entire week for a national meeting, and both of us can hardly wait for him to be back home tomorrow morning (he’s taking the red eye tonight so he can make it to our weekly ultrasound appointment in the morning and then pick up the kids from school). This is the first year that we haven’t gone to this meeting together. Over the years, whenever we were both traveling to the same meeting, it made the time away from home infinitely more tolerable. I’ve always sympathized with men who had to miss out on family time because their job brought them away from home. Husbands may not say anything, because they see it as their responsibility to provide and to just suck it up, but it’s not easy to be away.

I’ve often thought, to wives who haven’t had the same professions as their husbands, travel could seem quite glamorous… but believe me, it’s anything but. God has blessed Scott and me in that, as his wife, I know this from first-hand experience. Since I’ve been retired, and I hope for the years to come, I thank Scott anytime he has to leave our home for work. I thank him for being a wonderful husband, father and provider for our family… and I tell him we’ll miss him.

Scott and I were also blessed in our marriage through gaining a deeper perspective of each other through the adoption process. We’ve both said, after completing the At-Home Study questions, that every couple should do that together… even if they are conceiving a child traditionally. It removes any assumptions we might have about what is important to the other and replaces it with a genuine understanding.

When we became married, it was pretty clear that Scott’s three children were what were most important in the world to him. Because he loved them with all his heart and was so devoted to them, as we became one I fell in love with them too. It was easy and straightforward for me to do that, and my life is infinitely more wonderful with them in it.

Figuring out the purpose for my life as I became joined in marriage, however, was not as straightforward… even for me to try and do, let alone for Scott as my husband. I had been single and building a career that mattered to me because it helped me to understand how my sister had died and to feel like I was contributing to others who were experiencing the same. Once I started living with a purpose like that, I knew I had to continue to seek God’s will for my life. I also was able to do all that in my own head and heart, without figuring it out with another person. I’ve learned how important it is for a spouse to find and share the words that express what’s important to them so their partner can understand and be a part of it too.

After we were married, I could sense that the career was dwindling in terms of God’s will for my life. It didn’t fit anymore, living in Knoxville but never really being here. That phase of my life had achieved what it was supposed to… the understanding I was seeking and to carry me to the next stage of God’s plan for my life. I just didn’t know yet what to replace it with… and I was scared to let go of what was familiar, knowing the next leap was going to be a big one. This is when Scott and I grew deeper in our faith as individuals and began searching together. This is really when we became one… we began searching for the purpose of our joined life together… there had to be a reason God brought us together besides just to keep each other company.

When we humbly seek God and His purpose for our lives, a beautiful thing happens… He places in our hearts His exact purpose and then He guides us to that fulfillment. If we let go and let God take over, everything falls into place. God so clearly led Scott and me, together, to not only add children to our family but to bring these two exact little girls into this world. From the very beginning, we have felt this so strongly and thank God for His constant reassurance.

As my husband travels home tonight, I ask God to keep him safe and comfortable… and I thank Him for the beautiful marriage and family He has given us. And to Scott… I love you sweetheart and thanks for working together to find our purpose! Psalm 20:4

OUR SNEAK PEEK

PhotobucketNonna and Poppa gave us a 3D/4D ultrasound gift card for Christmas… with the kids, we went this week to get the first glimpses of our little miracles. Despite the doubling of placenta, fluids, cords… not to mention eight limbs!! we ended up getting some pretty good sneak peeks. Yes, that’s the foot of one in the eye of the other!! It was awesome to see them in such life-like images and in full motion.

I’ve been feeling them pretty consistently for about two months now… with two, one always seems to be playing. I’ve come to anticipate when they’ll give a good kick, and their kicks have gotten pretty strong. They’ll be a little sensation deep in a part of a belly… and then BAM!! If Scott or one of the kids is close, I’ll just take they’re hand, place it, and sure enough… within five seconds or so their eyes light up in amazement. The twins are quite generous, folks rarely get bored waiting for their touch.

Our son came home from school yesterday and one of the first things he said, without prompting, was, “it’s awesome feeling the babies kick!” During family game night last night, around the coffee table, knowing that not everyone could get his or her hands to my belly, I pulled my shirt taut and said, “Watch this.” Sure enough, within a few seconds, everyone could see what looked like a little inchworm slide underneath… the purest form of amazement.

They say a mother feels empty after giving birth, I can understand why… I’m going to miss their little vibrations but I can’t wait for what’s to come. It’s all going by so quickly… our two little miracles should be in this world and our arms within eight weeks. An interesting parallelism struck me recently to what we’ve been learning in church since the beginning of the year. Our Pastor has started a several week lesson on the second coming of Jesus Christ. The Bible tells us we won’t know where, when or how… but we’re to believe Christ will return for us based on His promise as well as the fulfilled prophecies of His Word… and we do believe. Then I think about how He has given our family such undeniable evidence, through even touch and sight, that our twins are almost here. What a gift.

I’m so thankful that everyone was able to see the twins this week… they’re so real to me all the time because I feel them throughout the day, but now everyone has a sense of them. We told the kids, when dad and I were born there wasn’t even 2D ultrasound!! I try to not let a good kick go by without sharing, they’re so much more fun that way. I also thank God for being invited to contribute to this blog… it has given me a reason and intervals to write love letters to our children to have someday.

Everyone’s getting warmed up, there’s plenty of sets of arms awaiting their turn to cuddle… as the girls have both said, “luckily there’s going to be two babies so there’s more to share!!” Mark 13:32

SIENNA

PhotobucketSome of you know the story of Sienna. Some of you may not.

A year ago, we were on vacation in San Diego. I went on a hike by myself. I got to the top of a tall mountain (well, a large hill actually). I pulled off my headphones. I leaned my head back to the sky. It was a cloudy day. I closed my eyes. I asked, out loud, “God, will we EVER get pregnant and carry a child to term and get to experience labor and delivery?”

Then, the clouds parted and the sun came out. A soft breeze just brushed across my face and I heard, almost audibly, “YES.”

I smiled.

At that moment, I didn’t believe God was saying we’d get pregnant on our own, or we should do any more fertility treatments. Instead, I felt God leading us to pursue embryo adoption. We had done some initial research, and this was my confirmation to keep pursuing it.

I got back to our room and told my husband. That was December 2009.

The following spring, there was a few day period when I was bombarded with the name “Sienna”. It kind of came out of nowhere. And I just felt a strong impression that we were going to have a girl one day, and I was to call her “Sienna”.

One night, I told the women in my Bible study group that. One of the girls asked if I knew the meaning of the name. I said I didn’t. She suggested I look it up. I agreed.

The following week, the same girl asked me if I had looked up the name. I said I had forgotten. She said she had looked it up. It means, “promise of God.”

I got chills.

Yesterday was our 20-week ultrasound. We asked the technician to find out the gender, write it on a card, and seal it in an envelope.

Later that night, with all of our family either present or on Skype or on cell phones, I opened that envelope.

We are having a girl. And we shall call her Sienna

ONGOING HEARTFELT PRAYERS OF WELL WISHES FOR OUR DONOR FAMILY

PhotobucketI’ve recently become amazed when looking in the rearview mirror of my life and seeing how God has navigated a far more beautiful journey than I could have ever imagined or planned with my own GPS, even though I’d been wrestling with Him for years to take the wheel myself. As I grow older, His proven promises have only served to strengthen my faith and helped me become much more open to hearing and discerning His will for my life.

When Scott and I first heard and accepted His next purpose for our lives and stepped out on faith to bring a waiting life into this world, we knew there were so many unknowns we would face. Virtually everything in our lives would change, but having a solid track record of successfully facing a myriad of things together as husband and wife and even before, we weren’t too nervous, we always seem to manage to figure it out.

Although this time it was a little different… there was one big aspect of adoption that seemed so out of our immediate grasp, and therefore influence… who would be the couple we were to be matched with? We had both come to realize in our lives that there are some relationships that just don’t “fit”, no matter what you try… and that happens even when you have the full knowledge to choose them and groom them yourselves. Being matched with a donor family from paper seemed even that much more random, there’s no playbook for that.

I’ve mentioned in a previous post, that Clydene, NEDC Patient Coordinator, was and is an angel to us. Immediately, we were put at peace with her approach for matching, both the intellectual and spiritual elements. Looking back, the process itself was so smooth and the selection so clear… if only Clydene could walk with us the next 20 years or so as we gradually get to know this other family we have become inextricably linked with!! But no, that is all for us… and our donor couple… and God.

Although the interactions with our donor couple so far have been very limited, Scott and I are completely confident we are off on the right foot and that God is with us. They are not on our minds or in between our babies and us as I thought they might become before we started this journey. We’ve come to trust that they are living their own lives, and are content that we are living ours. We have shared a few brief emails back and forth, through the adoption agency. Our coordinator at Bethany has commented that we all sound very well suited for each other. Scott and I were excited to share with them when we first received confirmation of our pregnancy and then that everything seems to remain very healthy with our two little girls. We found their words in return so comforting… just the right touch. We could hear their genuine excitement but also their assurance that their happiness was for Scott and me. They indicated they were always open for updates, but didn’t want to be intrusive or a burden.

Immediately after making our decision to adopt but prior to starting the matching process, Scott and I began praying for our donor couple… whomever they might be. But our prayers weren’t for our own good; we prayed for them. We prayed that they were at peace with their decision. We asked God to bless them for their beautiful and selfless decision to preserve His children rather than give in to any fears they might have. We prayed that they would hear, through the words and sentiments we shared in our application, that we were the right choice as well, for their own peace of mind.

I’ve let God take the wheel on this one from the beginning and He’s doing a remarkable job as He always does. He matched Scott and me with our donor couple long before we ever knew we were even adopting, or how… His tapestry is already woven, for all of us and for all time, and it is perfect… all we need to do is listen, be obedient and trust. Psalm 37: 3-6

BABY MOVEMENT

PhotobucketWell, I think I legitimately felt the baby move last night as I was lying in bed. The first movement felt like a big, rectangular bubble pop across my whole abdomen. Then it just kind of kept happening. I knew it wasn’t gas because, well, nothing came out. It was the first time I didn’t really have any doubt. I even put my hand on my abdomen and I could feel it. I tried to wake up my husband, but he was out like a log.

I wish I could report it was a magical feeling, as I’ve heard so many describe. It is with some trepidation that I admit, in all honesty, it was very, very weird for me. Very strange. Felt, a little, gulp, alien. Like there was something (someone!) inside me wanting to get out. I actually didn’t really like it and wanted it to stop.

Does this make me a terrible mama? I’m SOOOO grateful for this gift. God knows my heart. He knows how badly I wanted this experience. How many times I cried myself to sleep asking for this, begging for this. I want this pregnancy. I want it to continue. I want this child. I want to connect to this child growing inside of me. I have no doubt I will as soon as he/she comes out, but I was hoping that the baby movement would be a step in that direction. Sigh. Feeling a little inadequate at the moment.

THESE LITTLE GIRLS ARE DEFINITELY LOVED!

PhotobucketYesterday, Scott and I went with my father-in-law, Mike, to his first chemotherapy appointment. Poppa is amazing… in his strength, determination, and faith… he lifts up everyone; it’s a blessing to be around him. He reminds himself and us everyday that the battle is already won.

I was reminded, about six weeks earlier, when Poppa came out of his surgery to drain fluid and confirm the diagnosis. Scott, my mother-in-law Rosie, and I were waiting to be told which room Poppa was going to be moved to. When we headed up to the room, we arrived before Poppa did. As he was being wheeled down to hall toward us, the nurse had a big smile on her face. She looked toward me and said, “Are those the twins?”, gazing at my belly. I told her they were. She laughed and said, “Mike came out of his anesthesia chattering up a storm about his twin grand-daughters who will be here in March!!” Poppa lives for his grandkids, even the ones yet to be born… having such a blessed occasion to look forward to is only adding to his zest for life.

Then, last night, I was talking with our 13 year-old as she was going to bed; about the year to come… about Spring Break, finishing the 8th grade, Summer Camp, High School. Last year she went to the beach with her best friend and parents for Spring Break. This year, the same family is going to Disney World and has extended another invitation. I was amazed when our daughter said, “… but I don’t want to go, I want to be here when the babies come home.” Neither Scott nor I had discouraged her from doing something with her friend over Spring Break, she just came to it all on her own. It makes sense now why last weekend she was asking when the twins would be old enough to go to Disney and when can we start planning a family trip.

Our other daughter had a similar conclusion last month when she decided not to go on an end-of-school-year trip to Washington DC with her Safety Patrol group… she was very clear, she didn’t want to miss any time with the babies.

Even our youngest has come around to not getting himself a brother. His first big question was, “can the twins wear football jerseys as well as cheerleader outfits?” I said absolutely (secretly, I’d rather they be on the tomboy side)!! I said he can even teach them how to play football, and we can all watch the Tennessee games together. (He has no doubt, since I’m the one that introduced him to the ESPN Classic channel and my best friend, Wendy, doesn’t miss an NFL game… I’ve convinced him that girls love football too!) At Christmas, every gift he unwrapped (even the motorcycle gear!!) was accompanied by excitement for himself at receiving it, then quickly followed by an exclamation of, “… and I’ll save this for the twins when they grow up!”

There’s not a reaction more pure than awaking from anesthesia, adolescent girls considering time with their friends, or a young boy opening up presents at Christmas… and in all cases our two little twin girls were top of mind.

We also had family and friends travel from four different states two weeks before Christmas, knowing a huge snowstorm was predicted, to help celebrate the impending arrival of the twins at the baby shower that Scott’s mom, cousins, our sister-in-law and girls threw for us. And my niece, Kayla, who couldn’t make it to the shower from Chicago because she’s in high school… flew down a few days before New Years and spent two days helping me get the nursery all in order. It was so heartwarming watching everyone’s excitement.

This Fall, when we were talking with one of the guys Scott has gotten to know through church and coaching, explaining as we do with everyone, that our babies were adopted as embryos… he put his hands on each of our shoulders and very simply said, “These girls are going to be special, they are being born with a purpose.” It appears everyone knows this and they don’t want to miss a minute of it! Matthew 18:20

p.s. Happy Birthday Jen!!! Also, thanks for making it to the babies’ shower, and enduring the six-hour delay trying to fly back home to Chicago on Sunday!!! Hope that last week of teaching before Christmas break wasn’t too brutal after getting home @ 1 am!!! Love you!!!