DEAR SON

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Dear Son,

Today, you turn three years old. I well up with tears just thinking at the immense joy you have brought us these last three years. By your birth, you filled in us a longing that ached so profoundly. You filled our arms. You made us parents.

Son, you were chosen before the dawn of humanity to be ours. We believe God destined you to be ours from the very beginning. And His perfect plan was that you would be placed in another woman’s belly, but would be called ours.

I still remember the chills that ran up and down my spine when your birthmom asked us what name we had picked for a girl. We said Hanna. Her reply? That is her last name. And then the second set of chills when she asked us what name we had picked for a boy. We said Brae. Her reply? Her middle name is Rae.

You were meant for us.

I am so thankful to your birthmom and can never repay her for the gift she gave us: you. She took care of you from inception until birth and then out of an incredible act of love, handed you to us.

Son, Mommy and Daddy were there at your birth. We held your birthmom’s hand as she pushed you out. Mommy cut your cord. We kissed you in all your nakie glory, weeping.

One day, I know you will understand what all of this “adoption stuff” is, and that you will likely have a lot of questions. We will be ready and willing to answer all of them.

Giving birth doesn’t define what it means to be a parent. Genetics doesn’t define what it means to be a parent.

Son, as you read this one day, know that we loved you before we even knew who you were. You may have been placed in someone else’s belly, but you grew in our hearts until we could hold you in our arms.

You can never lose our love.

In honor of the gift your birthmom gave to us, and in honor of your special day, we dedicate to you “Your Own” by Nate Huss.

Happy birthday, baby boy.
— Mommy and Daddy

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BRAE-ISMS

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1) He is now into identifying the shapes of his bowel movements. Last night’s was a triangle.

2) He likes to take a.l.l. of the books off his bookshelves (at least 100) and stay up into the wee hours of the night neatly putting them one next to the other on the floor, all around his room. When I walked in this morning to find his floor covered with neatly separated books, I asked him what he was doing. He declared proudly, “I made a choo-choo train! All the people are in the choo-choo train! All aboard!”

3) Along the same lines, the boy takes e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g to bed with him. We’re talking books, balls, puzzles, shoes, socks, underwear, everything. He barely has a place on the bed to lay his head.

4) He believes in monsters. I’m not sure where he picked that up, but he believes in monsters. After successfully convincing him that Daddy had put all the monsters in the garage, and buying 3 nightlights, he is back to sleeping through the night. Granted, it’s broad as day in there, but at least he’s sleeping.

5) He’s inherited his Mommy’s penchant for cleanliness. The other day, I walked in his room to find him washing his walls.

6) He believes anything that is broken can be fixed by adding batteries. Yesterday, he was having trouble putting the tupperware lid back on the cookie dish (the lid is bent). He declared, “Mommy! I need some batteries. The lid is broken.”

And on Halloween, my precious boy turns 3 years old. What oh what will come out of his mouth this next year?

GLUTEN AND FERTILITY

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TOP FIVE REASONS Why I Think Everyone (especially those with a history of infertility) Should Try A Gluten-Free Diet….

[Background: I went Gluten-Free (GF) for 4 months before our transfer, and through the first trimester. After recently being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, and having tested positive for a gluten sensitivity, and also likely actually having Celiac disease (it can only be officially diagnosed with an intestinal probe), I have been GF again for over 3 weeks]

5. It’s not that hard.
I promise. Last year, yes, it was very hard. I think that was in part due to the fact I really did not want to do it. Due in part because it was a complete and total lifestyle change for me. Due in part because the market did not have nearly as much to offer in the way of alternatives as it does now. There are SO many options out there today vs. last year. Every single meal that I want to make, I can. I just have to find substitutes. And I’ve never not been able to. Case in point…

4. There is actually GF bread that tastes good!
My personal favorite is a brand called “Udi’s”. But I’ve tried a couple of others and they are good as well. Yes, you have to keep the bread in the fridge, and yes, you have to put it in the toaster before you eat. But it does taste really good. Has completely satisfied my craving for bread, which was my biggest concern.

3. It does not take that long to see or feel results.
Last year, I was such a skeptic about the benefits of going GF. I was also on a ton of hormones getting my body ready for the transfer, so who knows if I would have noticed any outward benefits, anyway. This time around, I’ve noticed some very perceptible changes, and just in a matter of weeks. I have not once felt bloated or heavy. I feel very light and have a lot of energy. Also, and this is a big one for me, my menstrual cramps have been extremely mild. In fact, barely noticeable at all. (This is not surprising since gluten is associated with tissue inflammation). That alone is worth going GF, for me!

2. The correlation between gluten and IF is r.e.a.l.
The research into how gluten affects IF is growing, and is real. Even among people who have no otherwise outward symptom of a gluten sensitivity (like me). If you are interested in knowing more than you ever thought you could, I will gladly send you the research and clinical information my endocrinologist sent me.

1. It is just healthier. Period.
Gluten, and its derivatives, are in most processed foods. By eating more organic, and less processed foods, you are just generally healthier. And, if we are to be good stewards of this body God has given us, it is our responsibility to take care of what we put into it. No, gluten is not the “answer” to pregnancy, and you cannot go GF with the mind that it will get you pregnant. You will only be disappointed. As a believer, I feel that only God (and God only) is the giver (and taker) of life. But, why wouldn’t we do our part and at least make a welcoming home in which to receive that gift?

SIENNA’S FOUR-MONTH VISIT

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Stats:

— 80th percentile for head.
— 85th percentile for weight (girl is almost 16 lbs!) (She’s already in size 9 month Carter clothes)
— 95th percentile for height! Yowza.

I’m definitely the shorty in this family.

Dr. said she’s got incredible muscle tone and strength. (I’m sure she has incredible core muscles after all the crying she did the first 3 months of life…. )

I didn’t get a scolding for taking her to a chiropractor. Phew.

Her neck has improved SO much.

Her eyes are still a hypnotic blue. Dr. says they will probably stay that way. (We’re in trouble).

Girl has eczema. We got a prescription.

Her “flat spot” on her head is “mild”.

And… drumroll… Dr. commented what a “happy” girl she is.

SOOOO nice to hear that vs. what I’d been hearing from strangers the first 3 months of her life.

SECOND VISIT WITH BIRTHMOM

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This last weekend, we had our second visit with Brae’s birthmom. Our first visit was last year.

In preparation for this visit, I’d been telling Brae tidbits about his birth story. Just little age-appropriate nuggets. Like, “Brae, did you know that when you were a baby, you lived in Rachael’s belly? And she loved you SOOO much that she gave you as a gift to Mommy and Daddy.”

His interpretation of that? … hold on to your seat pants … “Rachael had a tummy ache, and she gave it to Mommy and Daddy.” Love that boy.

The visit could not have gone any better. We met at a kids’ play gym near Rachael’s hometown, which is about 2 hours from us. Rachael brought her daughter, who is Brae’s biological half-sister. She is six years old. And she is not only the spitting physical image of a female Brae, she is the spitting personality image (they even whine the same). Same facial expressions, same mannerisms, same gait.

We’ve never seen Brae interact or play with anyone the way he did Madison. They were thick as thieves from Minute One. Imagine playing with someone who is SO much like you. The same things made them giggle. The same things made them laugh out loud. The same things made them upset. Brae literally could not get enough of her. It was truly an incredible gift to watch.

We also learned some similarities, and perhaps got to look in the Crystal Ball…:

1) Madison LOVES basketball. Go figure.
2) Madison is good at math, not that interested in reading.
3) Madison is VERY outgoing and sociable. She is a natural born leader.
… and?
4) Madison was not potty-trained until she was between 3-4 years old. Rachael said she was just so bull-headed she refused to use the toilet. (Gee… this sounds familiar…)

Thank you, Jesus, for letting me hear that!

All in all, it was a fantastic visit. Rachael is doing amazing and it was such a treat to see both of them. And, proof positive that God blessed us doubly with her?

Rachael: “People sometimes ask me how I had the strength to choose adoption. I just keep telling them that he wasn’t mine to begin with.”

Tears.

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ENDOCRINOLOGIST, SIBLING JEALOUSY, AND SAYING GOODBYE

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— I saw the endocrinologist today. And I finally feel like I have a grasp on the root cause of our infertility. It is most likely linked to my Hashimoto’s disease, and its early onset. The doctor also suggested that I have asymptomatic Celiac disease. I’m asymptomatic except for one thing — infertility. Infertility is a symptom of Celiac disease. Celiac would also explain my gluten sensitivity, as proven by my blood test. The doctor recommended I see a gastroenterologist to confirm Celiac through a probe. That may be something I do one day, but I’ve been gluten free (again) for over a week. I’m not quite sure why I’m doing it, other than to just generally be healthy. (Sure, it would be awesome to experience a spontaneous pregnancy, but I can’t be doing it for that reason.) Hashimoto’s and Celiac tend to go hand in hand because they are both autoimmune diseases. Going gluten free this time around has been a lot easier than last year — there are just so many more choices nowadays. I’ll keep it up until I feel like no longer keeping it up. That simple. And, at that time I may see a gastro doctor to confirm whether or not I do have Celiac. But I’m not sure what good that will do me other than to simply have a diagnosis. If I’m asymptomatic (other than IF), then it would be really hard to be motivated to stay gluten free. Scarily, the odds of miscarriage are TWICE the normal population if I do in fact have Celiac and eat gluten. On a side note, I learned Hashi’s has a genetic predisposition component. My grandmother had a goiter when she was younger. That most likely means she also has Hashi’s. I told her to get tested. She’s almost 90. Probably not too excited to learn she has an autoimmune disease at this age. Oh well.

— Terrible two’s is a misnomer. It’s the terrible three’s. Or the terrible almost-three’s. Brae has been pushing every button in my system lately. Repeatedly. Bedtimes are the worst. Last night he didn’t fall asleep until 10 (despite being put in his room at 8), woke up screaming at 1, and again at 5. When I brought him in bed with me at 5 (after Tygh had gone to work), he kicked me for nearly an hour, screaming that he wanted to go downstairs and watch Mickey Mouse. I just ignored the behavior (my new tactic). Eventually, he gave up and fell asleep. Then I very, very slowly crawled out of bed and woke him up 90 min later. That’s just one example. I have a whole list (including him trying to flush an entire roll of toilet paper — cardboard included — down the toilet). After much wringing of hands, Tygh and I think we’ve stumbled on the answer — Sienna. His precious little sister has thrown his world upside down. For his whole life, he’s been the center of attention. First grandchild on THREE sides. Now, there’s this new person living in his house, taking away attention from him. And he has no control over it. Sure, you may be thinking, you are idiot parents if you didn’t recognize this. But we honestly didn’t. He has never shown any signs of aggression or jealousy TOWARD Sienna (hasn’t tried to “off” her), so we just figured he was acclimating fine. I think we’ve been dead wrong. This revelation has actually really helped things because we have a new sensitivity toward him. I just have to keep remembering this the next time he’s throwing a shoe at me.

— I’m finally ready to write about something that happened nearly 6 weeks ago. You may recall that we adopted two sets of embryos. The first set resulted in our beautiful daughter. Because of her, we never tried the second set. Well, after a lot of painful and hard conversations, we returned those precious embryos to their donors. It was a very hard decision and, if I’m honest, not one I was totally on board with. I’m not sure I’m still totally on board with it. You see, I want a third child. At least, I think I do, most days. Tygh is really only ready for a third child if it happened spontaneously. When you have to go through so much of an effort to have a child, it really makes it much less appealing. I get that. But, I have a larger picture. I think 10, 20, 30 years down the road and what I want my family to look like. I want 3 kids. God knows this. I believe this is a God-given desire and, true to His character, He will fulfill it or take it away. In any case, it was the right thing to do to return those embryos. With Tygh and I not being on the same page, it was best to return those embryos so they may be adopted by the family they are meant to be with. The right thing to do is usually the hardest.