Friday, July 11, 2014

Visit me at my new space, No Ways to Say It.

Monday, March 17, 2014

and, i'm done

I logged into Facebook this morning to see a post about being in the middle of adopting a child, yet still wanting a child of "my own." I'm not going to go into details about where this post was made. I'm sure many of you saw it or have seen it, and I also don't want to rail on the organization that posted it because it is one that supported me throughout my journey with infertility.

At the same time, I cannot ignore the post, the intervention on it that was possible from the hosting organization, or the conversations that took place because of it. It frustrated me. It angered me. Perhaps more than it should have, but perhaps rightfully so. Regardless, it made me think about many things, some of which have already been stewing in my brain for several months. And, as a result of this thinking, I've reached a conclusion:

I'm done. This is good-bye.

From this point forward, I will no longer be using this blog for infertility or adoption-related advocacy work. It will remain open, but I am moving on from this space.

The truth is that this has been a long time coming.

I think we can all agree that it is not and never will be okay to attach certain wordings and stigmas to those who are infertile and who seek certain medical interventions. I have fought these for years, even after I chose an alternate path to building my family. We have all fought for this. Word choice is as important, if not more so, than the intent behind it. We ask others to avoid saying certain words and phrases associated with infertility because they are hurtful and ignorant. Because they don't have truth or understanding behind them.

However, I have also stood back and watched as my path, and the other, alternate paths of my peers, have not been supported and/or advocated for with the same passion and intensity. I have watched as some of these same individuals who I've fought alongside to try and change the conversation about infertility have not fought to change the conversation about adoption. In fact, they have participated in these inappropriate dialogues and/or defended others who have, as well.

Today's Facebook post was a prime example of this. It pushed me over the edge that I was already standing on, that being: I cannot continue to advocate for a group of individuals and their decisions when, in many cases, those same individuals do not advocate for me and MY decisions. How am I supposed to reconcile fighting against stigmas associated with my path to family building with "outsiders" (non-ALI community members) when I can't even reconcile it with people in my own community or peer group?

The answer is that I can't.

I cannot change the conversation about adopting after infertility when there are people in my own support system who can't or aren't willing to change the conversation alongside of me. It makes any sort of progress next to impossible. And frankly, it makes me feel completely defeated. I feel, and have felt, defeated for quite some time now, and it's led to this choice. A choice I didn't make lightly. This decision to abandon my work and my blog hurts. It hurts to leave behind this space and everything that happened here, but it hurts far worse to stand for something and not have that something stand behind you, too.

I don't know what's next for me. As I said, I'd love to continue writing in some capacity. Blogging has been such an integral part of my life now for the last 5.5 years, and letting it go will be difficult. Yet, I also think a break is wise. If I do decide to continue writing in another space, I will post that information here.

The last thing I want to do is end this on a sad note or a note that implies that stopping is anyone's decision other than my own.

So, instead, I will end with "thank you." To those of you who have stood behind me all of these years... I love you and I cannot accurately express how much your support has meant to me. You were there for me when I felt completely alone in the world and didn't know if I would ever become a parent -- something that even some of our family members and closest friends weren't able to to. Thank you for believing in me. Thank you for encouraging me to move forward for as long as I did, not only toward having a child but toward self advocacy and changes in the way our disease is treated. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your journeys.

Most importantly, thank you for your friendship and for your courage. I have never met a more inspiring group of men and women than the friends I've met in this community. Keep fighting for as long as you can, and I don't mean that in a "keep fighting for kids" way. I mean that in a "keep fighting for yourselves" way. You are all powerful people. Your stories are important. Don't lose sight of this, regardless of where your journey takes you.

xo

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

new city, new doc

Starting over with a new doctor is hard for anyone. Starting over with a new doctor when you're infertile and have a medical history that prints out longer than Ulysses is a nightmare. You worry about picking the right person. Does she have any experience with infertility patients? Will she think I'm a quack? Will I think she's a quack? Will she be insensitive about certain topics?

These were just a few of the questions on my mind last when when I arrived at my first appointment with a gynecologist here. The poor woman was clearly prepared for a quick, 15-minute check-up when she entered the room. And then we started on my medical history.

An hour later, I had my exam. Oops.

She's the first female gyn I've had in years. I was particularly nervous about how I might like her personality, which I find key in whether I'm going to stick with a doctor. But she was very straightforward and matter of fact. She didn't scold me for not being on birth control, despite infertility. She didn't make jokes about getting pregnant after adopting. She was exactly what I wanted: no nonsense, no bullshit.

After going through everything -- the infertility, the endo, the cysts, the breast lumps, the surgeries -- we talked in length about my pain management and decided that it would be best for me to go back on progesterone. We needed something that would manage my pain and put off another surgery while also limiting my risk for breast cancer and lowering my risk for endometrial cancer. It's not ideal, but progesterone can do all of those things for me, and I've had success with it previously.

My breast exam was clean, and I'm still waiting on my pap results. Overall, I would call it a good visit. No bombshells or major surprises, which I'm always ready for at these appointments (and which my blood pressure gave away). Now, we just "wait and see" whether the progesterone works or whether we move on to other options.

And I rejoice on having found a decent doctor on the first try.

Friday, March 7, 2014

21 guns: three years later

"Sticks and stones never hurt my bones. Words did, a little. But taking away my womanhood ruined me."

It's been nearly three years since I wrote those words, and I still remember the raw and powerful emotions I felt that day after engaging in a long (and, I'll admit, relatively pointless) battle with PETA regarding their infertility awareness week campaign. I was angry. I was hanging on by the end of my rope, and I was sick and tired of people and organizations kicking me, kicking all of us, while we were already down. I didn't know how much more I could take.

A lot has happened since then.

Despite my exhaustion, I did keep fighting – on both sides of the fence. I continued advocating, using my voice and my blog to try and raise awareness about infertility. I gave interviews. I spoke at conferences. I volunteered endless hours of time for "the cause." On the other side, I also continued the fight to build our family. We saved and studied. We pulled our resources, and we embarked on our journey to adopt.

Now, looking back, I feel as if I only had success with one of those fights.

Yes, shouting from the rooftops about my disease landed me in a few news articles and won me an award, but it also led to plenty of personal criticism. It led to people cutting me out of their lives. And, frankly, it didn't make a difference in the overall perception of this disease. No laws were passed. No groundbreaking insurance coverage or medical treatments. People, even those closest to us, still treated infertility with ignorance.

It's a frustrating feeling to work hard at something, anything, that will make a difference in the lives of yourself and others and feeling like – at the end of the day – everything is still the same. Imagine you start knitting a blanket. Then, three years later you look down at your lap and that blanket you've been trying to make is still a few rolls of yarn. Only this isn't a blanket. This is your health. This is your emotional well-being. This is your life. I look at my post from that day, and I don't feel any differently about my advocacy efforts now versus then.

So, what was it all for?

I think I felt better for sharing it. It made me feel like I wasn't so trapped behind the walls of this disease. It made me feel like I was doing something about it, even though no real change resulted from it. It made me active instead of passive. It kept my mind busy and gave me something to work toward.

The problem is that now, while I still feel called to fight against the stigmas that come with infertility, I feel like that "something to work toward" is missing. What now? Where do I go from here?

Part of this uncertainty comes from being on a different side of infertility. Not only have I resolved my journey, but I did so without medical treatment - which is what most advocacy efforts focus on. Yes, I would love to see medical coverage for infertility, across the board; however, I don't have the personal experience with IVF to speak to that cause. I can only truly speak to what we went through with adoption, which is a completely different can of worms. (One which, when opened, also leads to much criticism and debate.)

The other half of my uncertainty lies in wondering exactly what let me to write that post in the first place: Do we know what's worth fighting for? - Especially when no one fights FOR us. Diseases like breast cancer and diabetes have advocates who aren't afflicted personally, but who have watched those they love fight those battles. They have ribbons and campaigns that millions contribute toward. They have the world on their side.

Infertility doesn't get that same level of support from those who simply KNOW someone affected.

And I'm beginning to wonder if it ever will.

When you're at the end of the road
And you've lost all sense of control
And your thoughts have taken their toll
When your mind breaks the spirit of your soul

Monday, February 24, 2014

America, the toddler

"I can deny you service based on my religious beliefs."

This is, essentially, what a law passed in Arizona last week states. It (and those on other state ballots' that are just like it) is intended to allow small business owners the right to refuse service to gay couples.

Get ready, ladies and gentlemen, because we are turning back the clocks.

First, we'll dial them back to around the mid 1900s, to an era during which there were laws in place that allowed white business owners to deny service to black patrons simply because they were black. We are returning to a time when we wouldn't allow white schools to educate black children. When blacks could not drink out of the same water fountain as whites or sit in certain seats on public transportation. When it was legally okay to judge a person by the color of his skin.

Next, we'll go back a bit further to the early 1900s, when we couldn't POSSIBLY grant women the right to vote because, well, they were women! What did they know about politics? What did they know about the needs of this country's citizens? We go back to a time when no man would dream of hiring a woman to work in his company. Where women belonged at home, in the kitchen and with the children. When it was legally acceptable to deny women equal rights because they weren't seen as equal beings.

We'll step back once more to when our ancestors first came to this country -- in many cases specifically seeking religious freedom. Not religious freedom as is portrayed by these current laws, but freedom FROM oppression. They sought opportunity. They sought freedom to be accepted for who they were and how they wanted to live their lives. They sought not to be bound by the constraints of others' ideals, but to live under the assumption that all men were created equally.

Enough reflecting? I think so.

Now, let's head back into the present day. Does anything look different to you? It shouldn't. Instead, it should look much like it has in the past: with a set of laws and regulations meant to make a certain group of people feel inferior to others. It looks like everything our ancestors fled by coming to this country. Under the guise of "allowing religious freedom," here we are with yet a new set of rules that actually remove far more freedoms than they intend to allow.

Let's face it, America: you are like my toddler. You don't learn from your mistakes. You slip, fall, and bump your head from running in the house. You cry about it. And then 10 minutes later, you do the same damn thing all over again -- without any recollection of what happened 10 minutes prior. The only difference is that I hope my toddler grows up and, within a reasonable time frame, learns the consequences of her actions. You, on the other hand, haven't learned much in the last 200+ years. You're still defying the face of reason and tripping over your own two feet.

This isn't the beginning. These aren't the only set of laws created in the last few years that chip away at basic human rights. But as these laws become more open, more blatant, it's time that we take a stand to avoid heading further down the rabbit hole that is inequality. Let's stop moving backward to move forward. Let's stop hitting rewind. No one wants to replay the bad movie scenes. No one wants to relive the dreaded past. And, frankly, I don't think any of us want to watch you trip and fall a million times in a row, either (all while saying, "I told you so").

It's sad, I know. We shouldn't have to be parents with our government leaders. But if they are all going to run around and act like children, I guess I don't have much of a choice.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

one quarter down

It's been a quarter of a year since we moved to Seattle, and I haven't done a fantastic job so far in keeping track of what all we've done and explored since we moved here. That ends now. Here are some of the things we've done in our first three months as PNWers:

-Enjoyed a couple of snow days:

-Purchased family memberships to the Seattle Aquarium and the Pacific Science Center. K loves both. They are perfect places to keep a toddler occupied during the cold, rainy days.

-Watched a Super Bowl parade:

-Explored several of Seattle's neighborhoods, including our own area (Queen Anne/Magnolia), Ballard, Fremont, the U district, downtown, and parts of the east side.

-Taken advantage of the city park system and their indoor pools:

-And eaten our way around the city, trying a different restaurant each week as well as cooking new recipes with some of the lovely fresh foods that come from this area of the country.

There is a lot still on our agenda. Stay tuned for updates on more Seattle adventures as our year rolls on.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

secret club

Seeing these tiny baby mittens makes me want another.

It's hard isn't it? Do you think you'll have more?

No... I think she's it.

Yeah, I understand that. Going through infertility treatments was...

Just like that, I know another person. Another person like me. Another person who struggled to build a family. Another person who knows the pain that comes with it. Another person with scars.

How many of us hide in plain sight? How many of us are afraid to stand up and talk about what we've been through? The things we've experienced? The things that haunt us in our dreams?

I look at others and wonder this sometimes. I wonder if they waited to announce their pregnancy at six months because they've experienced loss. I wonder if they post stories about adoption and infertility on social media because it interests them or because they are living through it. I wonder if that look on their faces when they see a baby or a pregnant belly is just my imagination or if it says everything about their stories. I wonder if they hesitate to speak up in the way that I did, the way that so many of us do, because they don't want people to see them differently. Because they don't want the stupid comments. Because they are scared of silence.

Being this. Living this. Breathing this, day in and day out. It doesn't stop when you become a parent. You forever become a part of this club... this mostly-secret club that you're proud to be a part of because you know how STRONG and how BRAVE your fellow club members are but that you also HATE being a part of because you cannot understand why the universe inflicts this much pain on such amazing people. You watch embryos fail to take. You watch babies die. You watch children struggle in the NICU, and beyond, with health and development. You watch adoptions fail. You watch foster children go back and forth. You watch divorce and heartbreak. You watch people never fulfill the dream that they started X number of years, sometimes decades, ago.

You know all of these things, and it makes you look at others differently. It makes you see them and wonder if they are a part of this club. If they feel what you feel. If they have seen what you've seen. And when they tell you they are members, too, it makes you feel bittersweet. Bitter that you already know how painful their stories are. Bitter that you know their scars. But sweet because you know they are amazingly WONDERFUL and RESILIENT human beings.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

if i could turn back time

There are some days when I wish that I could turn back time.

Not forever, but just for a moment.

I wish that I could dial back to that phone call from our paralegal, telling us that we were officially matched – that we were to become parents to a baby girl in just a few short weeks.

I wish that I could relive our times spent with T. Those precious days we connected both before and after K's birth.

I wish that I could go back to that first time holding K in my arms. I wish I could screenshot the expression on her face, and mine, the moment we met. I wish I could capture that feeling, knowing my life had changed forever.

I wish that I could rock her to sleep once more in her swaddle. Feed her one last bottle during the middle of the night. Give her one more bath in the infant tub. Smell her baby scent.

I wish that I could see her first smile again. Watch her crawl for the first time. Take those first steps. All of those baby milestones that went by far too quickly.

I love this age she's in now. The exploring. The creativity. The words. Yet, I would be lying if I said I didn't miss the tiny baby I spent so many wonderful, sleepless nights with. I would be lying if I said that thinking about those moments didn't make me, if only for a second, want to do this all over again.

But I can't do this all over again. Not without a miracle. And I certainly can't turn back time. All I can do is look ahead – cherishing the moments we've already had together and pressing forward to the amazing ones still yet to come.

Monday, February 3, 2014

you have it wrong, Kay

I saw some back and forth last night on Twitter about an ad for Kay Jewelers that focused on adoption. Of course, this immediately piqued my interest, and I headed to YouTube to check it out.

One could say that it's nice for a mainstream company to finally recognize alternative family-building choices. Except that Kay did absolutely nothing to portray adoption accurately.

The ad features this polished, picture-perfect couple who are waiting in an "adoption center" to meet their daughter. After the husband surprises his wife with a piece of jewelry (from Kay, obviously), they turn to greet their social worker – who delivers them a perfectly healthy, happy baby girl. And then everyone lives happily ever after. The end.

Maybe that happens to some people. But here's an alternate and perhaps more realistic look of the day a couple becomes parents through adoption:

After getting no sleep the night before, Joey and I wake up and shower quickly to prepare for our 90-minute drive back to the hospital. I tie my hair back in a knot and do my best to cover the dark circles under my eyes. My mom makes us breakfast before we hit the road. I text T (our daughter's birth mother) to let her know we are on our way. We arrive at the hospital and head up to T's room. We spend some time just hanging out with her while she eats and gets her pain medicine before all of us head up to the NICU to see K. Today is better than yesterday, as T and I actually get to hold her – each just for a moment. T holds her first, and when she passes K over to me, she whispers, "Thank you."

While down in the NICU, we encounter some issues with the nursing staff and their attitudes toward T. We head back up to T's room shortly after – T to meet with the social worker from the state and J and I to talk to hospital administration about the lack of empathy toward our daughter's mother. I can hear T crying to the social worker behind her hospital room door as I rage on her behalf to one of the clinical managers.

J and I head down to the lobby and wait for T's dad and our attorney to arrive, as T's social worker tells us we can't return to her room. I am sick to my stomach with nerves and emotions. I can't eat. I can't cry. I just sit and stare at the clock. T calls. She wants to know why we haven't come back up to sit with her. I relay the message from the social worker, and she says, "Forget her. Come back." We do, and we stay there – T's dad, our attorney, and his wife joining us until it's time.

T heads up to the NICU with her oldest daughter, who has just arrived, to see K one last time before the paperwork is complete. The rest of us head to the cafeteria for dinner. T's dad graciously pays for our food, and I try my best to eat. Then, before I know it, it's just J and I. Our attorney heads upstairs to begin the TPR process with T, along with T's dad and our attorney's wife who both serve as witnesses.

It was the longest wait of my life. I can't even begin to estimate how long it lasted, because it felt like eternity. When our attorney's wife came around the corner again and I saw her face, I burst into tears. Tears I'd held in for days. Tears of joy that we were, at long last, parents. And tears of complete and utter anguish over what had just happened in that room.

I don't think I stopped crying at all that night. I cried as I wrapped my arms around T and said good-bye. I knew we would see each other again, but this was different. This was the end of one chapter. I cried as I walked into that NICU room and learned for the first time the hurdles K would need to overcome in order for us to bring her home. And I cried the whole way home, helpless that I couldn't stay that night and be by my daughter's side.

There were no picture-perfect moments the day I became a mom. My hair and makeup weren't polished. There weren't freshly-pressed clothes and sparkly jewels in black boxes. There was not a healthy, smiling baby resting comfortably in a social worker's arms.

There was just emotion. Pure and raw, those feelings that I felt that day will live within me for the rest of my life. Joy. Heartbreak. Anger. Sadness. Fear. Relief. All balled into one. THAT is what an "adoption day" is like.

But I guess that doesn't make a nice jewelry ad, does it?

Friday, January 31, 2014

simple kind of life

I had two goals this year: read more and write more. This is my sixth blog post and I've finished one book.

Translation? I'm slacking. But I'm not blogging as much because I'm busy trying not to slack in other areas of my life. Days move quickly, and before I know it, another week has passed with little to no writing or reading (other than brief news articles).

We are very settled in at this point to life as Seattle-ites. We have WA state licenses, tags, etc. I've somewhat figured out the bus system. And we've managed to navigate driving fairly easily through the streets of downtown. It's been interesting adjusting to big city life. Somedays, I think I may start blogging about my daily trips downtown. The bus rides alone could provide weeks worth of material. Then, I remember that I'm too busy to keep up with this space, let alone manage another.

The weather has of course been a challenge for us, coming from Florida, but we've been adapting well. We've learned that activities can't stop for a little rain, and that a sunny day -- even when cold -- is best spent taking advantage of the outdoors. The views from every angle of this city are incredible, and I think I may never get tired of staring at Mt. Rainier.

K is doing well. She's enjoying her new school and still working on using her words. She got sick this past week -- for the first time since we arrived in Seattle. It was over in a day, which gives me hope that she's finally built up her immune system to resist some of these daycare germs.

Currently, the excitement in my life consists of being addicted to Orange is the New Black and finding recipes for our new Dutch oven.

For the first time in ages, everything feels simple. And I like it.

Friday, January 24, 2014

are we so different?

Late last month, I had the opportunity to attend an exhibit at the Pacific Science Center called RACE: Are We So Different?, a project developed by the American Anthropological Association. This exhibit has been travelling around the country since mid-2007, and it landed here in Seattle this year (see the project's website if you're interested in future locations). I'm fortunate enough to work for a semi-government agency, which allowed me to attend the exhibit for free, as well as sit in on a post-exhibit workshop about ways to combat institutional and structural racism.

I had mixed feelings prior to my visit. On one hand, I was eager to attend for a number of reasons: my love for museums, my fascination with history, and my interest in race, diversity, and culture -- particularly from the standpoint of a parent through transracial adoption.

On the other hand, I was somewhat nervous. I didn't know how I would feel after viewing this project. Would I feel sad? Would I be angry? Would this change my perspective in any way?

The crowds were large that day. I worked my way though the exhibit alongside individuals and families of different races, ages, and sexual orientations. I saw an older white couple with their young, black granddaughter. Several same-sex couples with their children. Single moms. Young adults. We'd all gathered at this place to learn about the history of race and diversity in this country. And not just race as a skin color, as I discovered while moving through the hall. "Race" in the context of so many things: blood type, distribution of wealth, medical care, location, schooling, crime. The exhibit touched upon every aspect of life that makes us different from one another.

Each topic was heavy. From the Japanese-American internment to the loss of Native American land, every example stirred up emotions inside of me that I still can't quite put into words. But two places in particular stood out to me in the exhibit hall that day:

The first was a compilation of video interviews from adults who spoke about their experiences with race and racism. One of these speakers was an adoptee from Korea. Her parents brought her to the United States in the late 70s/early 80s, gave her a traditional American name, and then raised her in their predominately white, suburban town in northern Minnesota. Here, she had very little interaction with other children who "looked like her." She was expected to assimilate, and when she experienced instances of bias, she didn't receive the support she needed from her parents -- who failed to understand that these interactions were racism.

The second was another video, this time of high-school aged children who were speaking about their experiences in their school cafeteria at lunch time. They spoke about the "unsaid rules" of the lunch room and where people sat. What struck me in particular about this were the comments from the mixed-race teens, who admitted that they didn't feel comfortable sitting with one race over another because they were often teased about their skin color or being mixed. It ended with one of the young ladies saying how she wished it wasn't like this. She stressed to her peers that it was up to them to change these invisible boundaries and continue the hard work of their parents and grandparents toward racial equality.

You can probably guess why both of these examples stood out to me.

The first gave me a sense of understanding as to how far we've come with regard to transracial adoption and ensuring that we raise our children to understand and embrace their culture. I realize that not all situations are picture perfect, but in general, adoptive parents are far more educated than they used to be about the complexities of transracial adoption. (See my dear friend T's recent post for a much more eloquent piece on parenting a child of a different race and/or culture.)

Yet, the second video left me wanting more. While we've come a long way since the 70s and 80s (in every aspect of race/equality), it became clear how much farther we have left to go. We still live in a world where even children who've been raised to be open and accepting of others have a hard time erasing those lines that have been so firmly drawn for centuries. I shook my head as I walked away from it, asking myself, "How will we ever fix something that's so engrained in our society, to the point where even our children unknowingly participate?"

I clearly don't have the entire answer to this question. I don't think anyone does. But as I looked around the room that day and examined all of the diverse faces, I realized that the short answer is to keep doing things like this. We keep educating. We have conversations. We encourage our children to do the same. And we focus on the big picture. Not the "so-and-so is a biased person, and I need to change his or her perspective" picture. Instead, we focus on the structures and the institutions that hold us down. We fight for legislation that provides us with equal rights. We encourage organizations to become more inclusive.

Most importantly, we stand for each other. While the content of the exhibit was sometimes heavy and overwhelming, it only took a second of me glancing at the other attendees to force myself to become uplifted again. Looking around the room, I couldn't possibly believe that inequality CAN'T be fixed. Because even though we looked different from one another, deep down we all wanted the same thing... and I (want?) have to believe that a majority of people want that same thing, too.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

18 months

K had her last "baby" well visit earlier this month, and it was with our new pediatrician here in Seattle. I was nervous, heading to a new doctor. We were rather attached to our old pedi, and we were sad to leave her during the move. But all was fine with this visit, and I think we will continue to see this doctor in the future. She seemed very practical and down-to-earth, and I liked what she had to say about growth and development.

We are still on the low end of the growth charts. She weighs 20 lbs. even and is just under 31 inches long. Much like our last pedi, the new doc didn't seem too concerned about her size given her circumstances. I expressed slight concern about K's eating habits, which are hit and miss these days, and she assured me that it tends to yo-yo at her age. She was right, as a week later she was cleaning up anything I put on her plate.

We also spoke about talking. K's very good about pointing to items when we ask her to or following commands ("Get your jacket." "Close the door." Etc.). However, talking has been a bit slow. She asked me to keep an eye on it, and we will reevaluate it at her two-year appointment. The good news is that she doesn't think that it's anything too serious or a sign of a larger issue, due to other factors -- since she is extremely social and does things like follow commands, make eye contact, and recognize words and objects. In any case, I thought it might be a good idea to start tracking what she says or attempts to say. So far, we have: mama, dada, papaw, dog, book, duck, yay, uh oh, bye bye, no, and bus. We also have attempts at banana and penguin.

It's crazy to me that the next time we head in for a well visit, she'll be TWO years old. My tiny little baby is no longer a tiny little baby. She's a full-blown toddler now, running around and wreaking (adorable) havoc:

(Side note: this photo was tweeted by the Seattle Seahawks before Sunday's game!)

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

over the rainbow bridge

When I was in high school, we decided that it was time to get a family dog. We knew we wanted a miniature dachshund (my mom had grown up with dachshunds), and we drove to meet a woman whose doxie had recently given birth to a small litter of puppies. We saw this guy's face and fell in love immediately:

In fact, we fell so in love that we came home early from our family's Christmas vacation to pick him up. I remember holding him in my hands as we drove back to our house. I placed him on our kitchen floor and he bounced over to the Christmas tree, promptly peeing underneath of it.

He was tiny and not the least bit tough, so it made perfect sense to give him an ironic "tough guy" name: Harley.

Harley gave us so much joy, during times when our family needed it most. When we brought home Harley, my mom had just finished chemo treatments. He was there as she grew healthy again and eventually returned to work. He was there to give me love when I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety and reassured me as I left for college, a scary unknown, just one month later. He was the rock that kept my brother and I going through our parents' divorce. He was there through two high school graduations, two college graduations, and a wedding:

When Joey and I moved back in with my mom in 2009, he was the one who comforted me through two surgeries and the agony of every failed infertility treatment. He's who inspired Joey and me to adopt Danica (though he wasn't always THIS comfortable with the young puppy in his presence):

The last year has been tough for Harley, and I knew when we left Florida back in November that it might be the last time I would see him. I was right. Today, Harley will be put to rest.

Thank you to my sweet boy for all of the happiness that you brought into my life. I'll treasure every memory that I had with you, and though I'll miss you more than words can describe, I'm happy that you'll be pain free and sleeping peacefully once again. I love you, and I hope that they have plenty of doxie-sized soccer balls over the rainbow bridge.

xo

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

the best we can

There are these moments when I look at my child, as she's screaming at the top of her lungs, and I want to burst into tears. It's not because I don't love her or I'm angry with her. It's simply because I feel like, in those particular moments, I'm failing as a mom. She's screaming, and I can't make her stop. I don't know what's wrong, and nothing I do to try and calm her down works. It's sort of like beating your head against a brick wall – nothing will get through to her. Nothing will make her feel better.

That same feeling creeps back when she refuses to eat – when not even a fresh grilled cheese quesadilla will convince her that placing food in her mouth is better for her than throwing it on the floor or squishing it onto her high-chair tray or quietly sneaking it to the dog. "She'll eat when she's hungry." Except that she never seems hungry. How can I make her understand that it's important for her to eat? That she's already small? That she needs this food to grow and become strong? I can't.

She throws things at the dog. At me. She hits and (sometimes) bites. She rages and rampages until she's done . . . or maybe not. Maybe she picks back up again in 10 minutes. It's different every day.

Yet, the ending is always the same. At the point when I feel like I might break – when I feel like I am completely helpless – she becomes her old self again. She curls up on my chest and strokes my face with her hand. She looks up at me with her big, beautiful eyes and gives me a kiss. She lets me hold her and rock her and sing to her. It's as if she's telling me that she's sorry. It's like she's comforting me.

It's as if she's reminding me that I'm doing the best that I can. And so is she.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

my (longer) PSA

I have a problem. My problem is this. Not just what was said by MHP (that's perhaps a different post, for a different day), but some of the discussion that's taken place afterward by people in the ALI community.

I did not undergo IVF. We chose to "skip" the procedure and instead went down an alternative path. IVF was not for me. I certainly don't think there's anything wrong with in-vitro. I fully support anyone who chooses to do it. It simply just wasn't for us. No further explanation needed. Conversely, there are plenty of individuals in this community who've undergone IVF, surrogacy, or who've chosen to live child free (after medical treatment). They have not entered the adoption process for whatever reason, and that's their decision. Everyone chooses what fits them, their family, etc.

Here is something I don't do: I don't waltz around pretending like my choice is in any way, shape, or form better than yours. My path to resolution was not and is not superior to your path. It's different. What I didn't do after I resolved my infertility was then turn around and speak with ill will against those who've taken a different path toward peace. But, yet, I've seen this sort of negative response against transracial adoption from members of our own community. I've watched on social media as women who've NEVER taken part in the adoption process, in any way/shape/form, have spent time negating those of us whose lives have actually been touched by transracial adoption.

I wrote briefly about this on Twitter over the weekend, but I needed to get this PSA out in more than 140 characters:

If you are not an adoption professional, a birth parent, adoptee, or an adoptive parent, you don't get the right to act like some sort of expert on adoption in general (or, more specifically, transracial adoption). You don't get to pass your personal opinions off as fact. And you certainly don't get to judge any individual who is part of that process for his or her choice.

How would you feel if the situation were reversed? If IFers who had adopted were busy spreading hateful comments about IVF, surrogacy, child free living, etc. through Twitter and the blogosphere? I'm guessing there would be complete and utter chaos. Rage. An uprising. And yet, when this occurred over the weekend, I barely heard a peep from those who followed along and presumably read this garbage.

If you want others to support you in your journey, I'm sure we are all happy to do so. But remember: the street runs both ways.