Disclaimer: Mild language and content that may offend some.
Due to HIPAA privacy laws and my own comfort, I use incorrect pronouns, such as "they/them/their", "little person" and LO (Little One) to identify our foster child.
Thoughts before having a kid in the house:
"Surely, I can keep some part of my routine."
"I'll get up to pray and journal before the little person wakes up."
Thought one month later:
"You were so adorable, Holly."
Everything has changed. Seriously everything. Our whole routine of life has been disrupted.
I did not realize having a kid in the house would affect my bowel movements. That a child I did not birth from my own body would give me constipation. We picked LO up at an office, fully clothed and over 40" tall. I don't have Postpartum Constipation, I have Postplacement Constipation.
It's not the little person's fault. We've all three been in survival mode. Am I alive? Is (s)he alive? What appointments are this week? Oh shit, what appointments do we have today? Who do I need to call and set up more appointments with? My to do list has to be broken into Section I, Subsection A, Category 1a because each task has its own "to do" after the first one is completed. The last few weeks have been absolute chaos.
Imagine a war zone without all the killing and bloodshed. Or Wall Street has opened. Or you're trying to do year end taxes with paper receipts on a rollercoaster strapped in next to a kid who's barfing. Then you start barfing.
LO has changed the dynamic of our two person + one dog family. A disruption has occurred and forced us, individually and as a couple, to come up with a new routine, including my innerds. This new groove has been ever-evolving and it looks like it'll never stay the same for very long.
That's incredibly uncomfortable for me to think about because I love patterns and planning.
So yeah, I'll pray and journal before the LO wakes up. Pfft.
Actually, no. I'll be cramming in a few extra minutes of sleep, a handful of animal crackers and Dramamine® before voluntarily climbing on that damn roller coaster again in my rain poncho to ride this thing called foster care. Bring. Itttt.
"Oh my gosh. I'm so tired."
I have dirty, little socks in my house! They are on the couch, in the bed sheets and on the bathroom floor.
Toys are in the bathtub. Toys are on the kitchen table.
There is fake sand on the hardwoods that is gritty and slippery in socked feet.
There is sparkly, blue toothpaste spit in the sink and a tiny toothbrush in a cup.
A nightlight is casting stars on the walls and ceiling.
The $15 stuffed deer has a name.
Two adults in survival mode laying on the couch.
A little person sleeping in the bedroom down the hall.
Disclaimer: Mild language.
Adam and I are standing at the edge of a calm pond dressed in our bathing suits, life jackets, goggles, ear and nose plugs, holding a safety ring buoy and towels. Every inch of skin is covered in sunblock.
The water is the foster care system.
I bend down and touch the water with my index finger. I don't dip in my toes because my balance is shit.
We had prepared as much as we could or enough to have peace and we said yes to providing respite for a foster kiddo. (Respite is sort of like babysitting for foster families. The foster child will go to a licensed foster home for respite care so the foster family can take a break, go out of state or the country because foster kids cannot stay overnight just anywhere, even a foster family's immediate family because of laws governing welfare, safety, etc.)
39 weeks to. the. day. of submitting our application to foster, our first young'un stayed in that bedroom.
It was only for a weekend but we couldn't have asked for a better experience. She was a hoot; jolly and sassy. Her laugh was infectious. Adam bought enough bubbles and wands for the whole damn neighborhood and they lazily napped and watched movies on Saturday while I was at work.
I realized a couple of things after she left that Sunday. I was exhausted, mentally and physically. We've kept our nieces and nephews overnight before so I knew the fatigues of keeping a child entertained, bathed and fed.
My home is my sanctuary, where I unwind and do what I want. Having her here made me ask myself some tough questions like am I willing to stop cussing and watch what comes out of my mouth? Do I want to have change forced upon me? Because having a kid full time in the house will make me change things about myself that I like and enjoy doing because they would not be a good influence on a child.
The answer is a resounding yes. God brought me to this place in my life and I really love who He's made me to be. Even though I have some uneasy feelings toward changing what I like about myself, I trust Him enough that I'll love the future "me" even more than I love the now "me".
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:12-14
Disclaimer: Mild language. Also, I do not commit larceny in any way.
It's 11:00 am and I'm still in my pajamas sitting on the couch with my journal and a Bible. I pray to thank God for His blessings, answered and unanswered prayers, to open my mind and heart for where He was leading me with my two biggest dreams, motherhood and having a successful business.
Then I sat in the quiet and listened. He started playing "Stairway to Heaven" on an electric guitar.
No, I'm kidding.
He told me to open my Bible and it flopped open to Leviticus. I silently sighed and thought, "There's no way my message will be in this book. Maybe I should turn to another page."
Leviticus is one of those books I have avoided since being baptized because of the people that use it to justify their hatred. Pushing through the urge to turn the page, I started reading in The Message edition of the Bible. Something that spoke to me said that we insist on reducing and taming God. We try to tie Him up like a workhorse to our buggy of dreams so we can guide Him to what we want.
*raises hand* Uhh, that's totally me.
It plays out like this in my head…
I empty my pockets out on God's workbench, He picks up a burden up and walks to a wall of tools. As He's standing with His back to me, I quietly start stuffing my crap back into my pockets because He's not doing it when I want or fast enough.
After realizing what I've done, I drag it all back to Him, lay it at His feet and apologize for being so impatient and mistrusting. I have to apologize for being a thief, too. It's a continuous cycle for me, I like being in control and knowing what's going to happen and being prepared.
Anyway, I read on. Paul says in Romans 12:1-2 we are to offer our bodies to God in sacrifice, be transformed by the renewing of our mind; to enthusiastically accept what God does for us is the best thing we can do for Him.
*sigh* That's so hard.
The telephone rings for the third time this morning and I don't answer it because I think it's a robo call. Turns out it's not.
There's a voicemail and it's the manager from our fostercare organization. She has a couple more questions about Adam's background. I call her back and answer them the best that I can and she then tells me, we have been approved and should receive our certificate in the mail the coming week.
We're finally approved to foster kids!
After hanging up the phone, I sit in silence a little while. I feel jittery, nervous, like I'm anticipating something, waiting for something to happen. Have I had too much caffeine? Going back to my journal I write whatever comes to mind.
Thinking about an upcoming trip, tired and want to go back to sleep. Worried I'm getting a sinus infection. Am I nervous about being a foster parent now that we're finally approved? Knowing the call could come anytime now. Like, I know it's going to happen but when? I know change is coming, am I ready? Have I prepared enough?
Holy shit, it's real now.
The wait is over. Well, the first part of waiting. The waiting to hear back about CPS background checks, DMV checks, homestudy appointments, for cabinet locks to arrive in the mail, for approval. Now, we wait for the call.
In this moment, we have prepped all we can. Of course, we can read books on parenting and fostering, dust and vacuum their bedroom, safety check the house again but we are as ready as we can get. How can I feel some peace as I wait?
Psalm 84 tells about living in God's house, where sparrows can raise their young. How blessed we are because God dwells inside us, whose lives become roads God travels, the good times of cool springs and pools to the mountains and valleys. At the last turn to the top of the mountain, there is Zion, the church of God, the Heavenly city.
We've reached the top of one of our many mountains and God is there. One of the burdens I kept trying to steal back and micromanage the crap out of He has fixed. We've reached the summit of this mountain.
See the glory of God here. Feeeeeeel it.
We worship and praise Him for traveling this road with us, for us, for laying down the path. I am at peace because God is pretty, darn handy when I let Him do His work.
Disclaimer: Mild language.
Yaw, I'm just going to be real with you. I've journaled, wrote a little (and a lot of nonsense) on draft blog posts the past two months, but none of it has been readable. My last post was on November 26, 2018. I've had every intention of posting at least once a month but the holidays happened then I got depressed for awhile. Life hasn't been super easy. When is it though?
I have a form of chronic depression called persistent depressive disorder aka PDD aka dysthymia. Unfortunately, dysthymia isn't a warm, sandy beached island in the Caribbean. It's like major depression's annoying little brother except PDD doesn't have the major depressive episodes where I can't get out of bed. (I'd like to say before I go on any further, in no way am I qualified to give medical advice.) I'm not going to write a whole article about dysthymia, the Mayo Clinic has already done that. You can read all the symptoms, treatments, etc. about it here. This is my personal experience.
There are times when I do have a depressive episode but I'm still functioning. I go to work, social gatherings, the mechanic, grocery shop, all the things that have to be done for us to pay bills and run a functioning household. Outwardly, I can smile on cue and act like I'm really invested in what you're saying when really on the inside, I don't. I feel numb. In hindsight, I really do care. In that very moment though I'm struggling to keep my shit together and not broadcast what's going on inside my head and heart.
Hiding is not because of shame. I just don't like to tell everybody my business until I have a handle on what's happening.
A fog that encircles me more days than not. If I'm having a good, super positive day, all it takes is for me to obsess on one negative thought and it's ruined.
How do I know I'm getting depressed or in a depressive episode? Time and becoming self aware. Grabbing my journal and asking myself "What am I feeling? Why am I feeling this way? What's causing it?" then vomiting it all onto the page. I've been in therapy on and off for five+ years and I take anti depressants. I've learned my triggers and am conscious of my body and mind through the work I've done in therapy and most importantly, God's guidance. If you are struggling and haven't been to a therapist or counselor, please find one and go. Sometimes we need a licensed professional to help us landscape the gardens of our mind to find the fungus that's killing the flowers.
Occasionally, my depression is obvious to me like thinking "I don't care" about everything, pissed off, short tempered.
But sometimes it's not so obvious. Looking back through my journal, I can see I was getting depressed and then I came to a point where something in my life needed to change. I was bored with driving the same route to work and the living room rug. So I made an appointment with my therapist and resisted the urge to put the rug in the closet.
As I write this paragraph, I'm having a really awesome day. Yesterday was awesome too. I've been upbeat, positive, productive, swatted the negative thoughts, guilt and perfectionism away. But it makes me scared that because I'm writing about my chronic depression that I'll jump back into the hole I'm currently sitting on the edge of. I want to write with emotion, to take your hand and bring you into that fog of everyday and have you walk through the muck of the worst days. What I'm saying is I want you to understand and for anyone else out there wondering "what is wrong with me?" that hey, you are not alone. Maybe some of what I said makes sense but because you're still getting up and cooking breakfast for the family, that you need to "get over this feeling".
No, you don't.
To put it very simplistic due to my own intelligence, there is an imbalance somewhere within your body and mind due to genetics, biochemical imbalances and/or environmental stresses. The same concept can be said for a broken leg, except the body is physically imbalanced. Ya can't just "shake" a broken leg. You could, but wouldn't that hurt like hell?
If you have any questions or comments for me, leave them below or send me a message through the Contact page.
I feel like I've shopped all weekend. Is that a bad thing, really? On Saturday night after work, Mr:D and I had a date night at Chili's and Walmart to buy some baby proofing stuff. After church on Sunday, we seen "Instant Family" and Mom and I went today to look around for bedding. It has been a whole weekend of foster care related activities AND shopping.
I had a realization today though while at Target with Mom. We were shopping for the foster kid bedroom and on the lookout for gender neutral night lights, bedding, and "stuffies" for a precious kiddo to snuggle when we came across the little stuffed deer in the picture below. Little fella had $15 written on the price tag. $15 for a damn stuffed animal?
It's because of the government...
...but I fell in love with that little deer. I said outloud to Mom, "I'm buying it because it's for my first kid."
So yeah, I'm shopping and setting up a bedroom FOR OUR KID. It's not "when" or "if" anymore. Taking care of a kid in our house is really happening. Like, think about something you've always wanted...a certain car, traveling to a different country, owning your own home, or ya know, having a kid. That's me. Us. We're going to have a snot nosed little person we have to feed, clothe and keep alive soon.
And I really love it.
Disclaimer: Parental discretion is advised. I want to show you authenticity and stay true to who I am everyday. I spout the occasional curse word and have thoughts you may deem inappropriate.
When I think of my eggs, I think of a carton of eggs. My carton of eggs. My half dozen, or maybe a baker's dozen. I don't know how many. I'm a hen.
Without going into specific details, I started round #1 of a medication called Clomid and will take an Ovidrel shot to trigger ovulation. To be honest, I'm not comfortable with sharing every little detail with the infertility plan because I feel like I need to protect our emotions, especially mine. The whole process feels sacred. Some days I feel like sharing, others I don't.
Why? Because I'm an INFJ. We're complex creatures. I'm a complex hen.
It's not that I'm ashamed that I'm having trouble getting pregnant. Or am I? No, I'm not ashamed. I don't feel humiliated or embarrassed and I don't feel like I've done something wrong.
I remembered Brené Brown and her research on shame and vulnerability. We both have sons named Charlie. Mine is furry and sometimes looks like a seal, hers I'm sure does not.
I googled and her TEDtalk "Brené Brown: Listening to shame" was the third suggested video so I listened and took notes.
Brene says that "Shame is a focus on self, guilt is a focus on behavior." Wow. Ok, that hit a nerve. I tested and processed what she said.
I've done something wrong to keep me from becoming pregnant. I literally said that aloud and then repeated it.
I've done something wrong to keep me from becoming pregnant.
I was testing myself. Do I truly believe that? No. I don't believe I'm being punished for anything I've done in the past. God doesn't work that way. Once you're forgiven, you're forgiven. None of that old shit counts, ever, at all, finito. I don't feel guilt for not getting pregnant yet.
Something is wrong with my body, with me. But what is it? If I can just figure out what "it" is, then I can fix it and can be good enough to be a Mom, which is part of my purpose.
I'm not good enough, I'm not perfect enough.
I'm not enough…
There it is. I'm not enough.
Yes, I know logically that I'm wrong. I am enough. God created me. David writes in Psalm 139:13-14,
"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well."
Pushing or cutting a baby out of my body is not going to ever make me 'enough'. Fostering a child or even adopting one will never make me 'enough'. Any amount of therapy and medications I take will never make me 'enough'. Nothing I can do in this life will ever make me enough.
I am everything I am because of God. I am mere human flesh but my Dad (aka God) loves me just the way I am and He says I'm enough. His Holy Spirit lives inside me. Specifically, His living quarters are just between my diaphragm and liver. If you reach my spleen you've went too far.
God loves all of me, not just the good qualities. Thank Him for forgiveness! God didn't create a copy of me, I am one of a kind with gifts He's given me to utilize for His purpose.
I can't boast "I've beaten shame!". I'm not cured.
I haven't gotten rid of all of it. The realization of shame being a focus on self wasn't an aha moment where everything changed for me. However, it did make me realize that I am a little ashamed of my body, but certainly not ashamed of my self for not being pregnant yet.
We all are constant works of progress, there's never an end to personal growth, until we die. For today though, I can say shame doesn't have its fingers wrapped around my mind or heart. Speaking of fingers…
Eff you, shame.
Disclaimer: Parental discretion is advised. I want to show you authenticity and stay true to who I am everyday. I spout the occasional curse word and have thoughts you may deem inappropriate.
This empty bedroom has seen six years of evolution but never any permanency.
When we moved into the four bedroom house we planned to fill with our biological children, we painted this room dark blue to be used as Mr:D's office until we decided to start our own family. The bedroom is perfectly situated directly across from our bedroom so in four steps from our bedroom door, I could be in the nursery to pick up my crying child.
I begin nesting before we even start trying to get pregnant. The SUV that our first child would learn to drive in was purchased.
Electrical outlets were covered throughout the house, the sharp cornered coffee table was replaced with a stuffed storage ottoman, a baby gate for the top of the basement staircase was installed.
We made the decision to start trying for a sweet baby! We emptied the room and painted its walls a creamy beige for the little boy or girl that would soon come. We were young and healthy but always a nagging worry in the back of my mind, You can't get pregnant.
Baby clothes from my sister's children were saved in garbage bags in the downstairs closet. Finances were strategically saved so we would be covered when I went on maternity leave.
I pinned baby stuff on Pinterest, read articles and the Scary Mommy blog.
The room sat empty, besides temporarily storing the occasional piece of furniture.
After a year and a half later, my craft room took up the space of the empty room.
No pictures or decor was to be hung because I didn't want the walls full of holes when I had to move out for the baby I would get pregnant with at anytime now.
The kitchen has a purpose, the living room has a purpose, the bathroom has a purpose. This room's purpose wasn't to permanently be any other room than our child's room.
In the article How long does it take to get pregnant?, Raina Delisle from Today's Parent writes, "If you take women under 37 years old with no known fertility problems who got pregnant, about 45 percent of them will have conceived within three months, 60 to 65 percent within six months, 85 percent within a year and 93 percent within 18 months."¹
My deepest fear may be true. Something is wrong with my body.
Anger had been my outlet for my whole life and I was tired, my heart was tired, my controlling behavior was just too much. I decided to give control of my life over to God. I was baptized on September 13, 2015.
I started earnestly praying. Life had been rocky for months and Mr:D was let go from his job in February so we were down to only my income which at that time was tiny. He signed up for unemployment and it covered our bills except for groceries and gas. The longing and grief of still not being pregnant was felt in my bones. I went to my gynecologist that summer and we started medical intervention. After three months of medication, we had to stop because the costs of the doctor visits and tests were adding up and so was the credit card. It wasn't time yet and damn, it hurt.
We began visiting the idea of selling the house, the car, how were we going to survive until he found another job? The prospects in his field were very few in this area. Then the unemployment stopped on September 21, 2016. Shit was about to get real fun. I began to totally freak out and got angry again. Where was God? The stress and suffering was getting hard to bear.
Less than a week later, God showed up in all His splendor. I was offered a full time position at my job. Praise Jesus, we were not forgotten. The extra income I would be making was a few dollars short to what he was getting from unemployment. It was absolutely amazing. We kept trying to get pregnant with no luck.
I stopped reading baby related articles, changed the channel if someone was pregnant on TV, cleared my cache, cookies and browsing history so that it would get rid of any baby related ads. I think I made it known to family and friends that I wasn't comfortable talking about babies. I was getting real pissed that I wasn't pregnant.
Mr:D gets a job and decent healthcare! I go back to my gynecologist and take 5 more rounds of medication. Obviously...no baby. We are referred a fertility specialist and at this point, seriously considering fostering a child. We have so much love to give, a warm, spacious home and that empty bedroom. I keep thinking and practically chanting, In God's time...In God's time...His plan is not mine. What if God's plan for us now is to foster? The anger was turning into grief. Grieving for unkept promises and dreams.
August 18, 2017
Hyperventilating, begging God and absolutely bawling on the bathroom floor in the fetal position. Now, I've sobbed before, like really ugly face crying, but I believe that was the hardest and most sorrowful tears I've ever shed for a baby. My snotty, wet face laying on the hairy, dusty, germ infested bathroom floor. Ew, grosses me out to think about it now.
We met with a foster care organization just for some information. The plan was that we would start our application in April because we wanted to remodel and add a family room. The remodel and foster care training could be done simultaneously and in my perfect planning, we'd be ready for a foster child. Planning for everything is my favorite, sometimes I try to take control back from God. I can't help it, He knows this about me.
Annnnnd then...wait for it.........
Our heat pump died. Are you f'n serious?
The new one was installed on March 5th. Our entire remodel budget was gone. The new heat pump is always a stop on our home tour.
Mr:D starts having neck pain in May, which with time, turns into excruciating nerve pain and numbness into his fingers. MRI says herniated disc that requires surgery.
I emailed the foster care organization when would the next training session be. I believe God was nudging me towards foster care again. Neck surgery done, numbness and pain gone, more copays!
So here we are now. Four years and 8 months into trying to get pregnant. I can't help but think that with all these major life events keeping us from getting help with modern medicine to get pregnant, are we not supposed to use it? Financially, we keep getting slammed with events that take any extra money we have.
I wonder if this is what God's plan is for us during this season of our lives? I don't believe in coincidences and I don't believe everything happens for a reason. I don't believe God would give us a desire for a child and then not give us one. I don't believe He matched Mr:D together and lead us to this house if He wasn't going to fill it with at least one child.
I do believe God gave some of us that longing, deep and sometimes painful desire for a child and that He always keeps His promises.
"For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him" Philippians 1:29
That empty bedroom at the end of the hallway has new carpet now, maybe a set of bunk beds and a dresser full of kid's clothes soon. I imagine a bookshelf with books for bedtime stories, a nightlight and a warm, little person's body tucked and snuggled under a new blanket.
Maybe one day it will be a nursery with a crib, but the job God's given us now, the path He's leading us on is to love on suffering babies that aren't created from our bodies and may never be permanently or legally our children. I have a feeling though they will feel like ours and we'll love them like they are until God decides what's next for us.
Thanks for reading,
¹Bernstein, Mark. "10 Tips on Writing the Living Web." A List Apart: For People Who Make Websites, 16 Aug. 2002, alistapart.com/article/writeliving. Accessed 4 May 2009.
Hey all! I've had this little story in my head all week and I've finally got the courage and decent eyebrows to put it out into the world. Are you struggling to stay on the course God has given you? Well, God elbowed me last Sunday morning and reminded me to stay on mine. 👣✝️
(Pastor Shea says a lot more about it in his sermon and preaches on Philippians 1:25-30. Here's the sermon in case you'd like to watch the whole thing.)
Hey guys, just wanted to share a story that happened this past Sunday at church. So we went back home for a family visit and went to my husband's family church. The preacher did kind of like an altar call before the service started where you can go up to pray at the altar or like, say, if you have a heavy burden that you want to lay at God's feet that you could go up there and pray.
Well, I stood at my seat, I didn't actually go up there but I stood at my seat and prayed. I asked God for a baby and I hadn't done that in a few months just because I think we've been so focused with fostercare and getting everything ready. And I feel like I've got my hope back with getting pregnant, having a child.
Anyway, during the prayer I got a little emotional, cried a little bit when I asked God for a baby. So [the preacher] did his sermon and he preached on Philippians 1:25-30 (sermon link above) and staying true and faithful to the job that God has given you to do and it just clicked. I feel like, and I think Mr:D can also agree, that God has given us the job to become foster parents. It's ok to ask for a baby, it's ok to pray for a baby but the road that [God has] given you is to become foster parents. The sermon said to stay the course, to stay faithful.
I'm not saying that God isn't going to answer our prayers to get pregnant and to have a child of our own. I don't believe that He gives us desires like that and longings and yearnings that He doesn't answer. Who knows? Maybe it's through foster care or adoption is how we have a kid. Anyway, I'll deal with [not having a child of our own] when the time comes but I still have hope that I am going to get pregnant and have a baby. I just thought that it was one of those God giving you the elbow moments and saying "Hey, remember the course I set you on? Don't forget about that. That's important."
Like I said, I don't think God was saying not to pray for a baby, not to ask for a baby but that He's reminding us, me don't forget this is the path I want you on right now. I felt led to share that story. I've recorded this video about a ba-zillion times and I'm finally confident in how my eyebrows look today and my shirt's not all shaggy lookin' and I'm hoping the neighbors' lawnmower isn't too loud. I hope you guys have a great evenin' and God bless. Thanks!
As always, feel free to leave a comment below!