There are up to 10 weeks left before I meet my second born son face to face, flesh on flesh. Could be sooner, but Im planning on being past my due date so that if it passes by like your average day, I am not drowning in depression (which may still happen). Today marks 32 weeks with this undeserved miracle boy. Our official date we are due to deliver is May 25, but I usually follow that with, "But we're planning for June 10th." The term "due date" used to bring me emotions of fear and grief.Read More
My last run was September 16, 2015. A Wednesday I will never forget: we had scrubbed our apartment clean, purchased a new shower curtain (what what), and baked cookies. I even bought cheese and crackers and fresh spring-sprung water that didn't taste like mold. It was the big Home Study day. Cathy, our beloved social worker, had come around 12 pm while Loren was still meeting with a student for lunch and I was being interviewed about my childhood. When he got home it was his turn to be interviewed and I walked the short distance to our precious gray and yellow nursery and spent time praying for our precious birth mama, birth daddy, and baby growing in our hearts rocking in the wood chair.
This was CD (cycle day) 29 for me.Usually, I would have tested a day earlier, cycle day 28, checking as early as possible for those Two Lines. But one month earlier, I had finally felt this beautiful peace about not testing. (If you have no idea what the heck I am talking about, I am talking about testing for pregnancy - a pee stick - a urine sample - peeing into a cup and dipping the tests into it to see if not only one, but two, beautiful lines greet you). I also knew that I could not go into my Home Study interview with a clear head if I saw Two Lines. I also knew that if it were One Line again, I would be feeling the sting of yet another failed month of trying, marking 2 years and 4 months (28 months) which to some seems like very little time, but to us felt like for forever. I was working really hard on wrapping my heart's hope back around Jesus; not my body or adoption or humans, but Jesus and solely Jesus. Because putting my hope in my body, in our family growing, in Two Lines, in babies and humans and processes and anything but Jesus is only setting myself up for disappointment. I know this and I knew this, but sometimes it is just hard.
I was sick of seeing the One Line response. I didn't want to have it glaring up at me again. Not again.
Thursday passed (CD 30). My "lady-ness" is weird and random and sometimes is 28 days and sometimes is 33 days. Better than the old unknowns of anywhere from 14 to 44 days, hey? Friday passed (CD 31). I don't remember what I did those days except continue working on our nursery, meeting with ladies whom I adore, feeling the tired sting of Cousin Red coming and my ladies up top growing sorer and sorer. That's normal for me. You're welcome and you're welcome. Here we are, internet friends, reaching a new level of friendship and you're getting to know my body better than I should probably let you. I'm sure I will come back and backspace some of these sentences one day when I have kids that can read and access the internet. Poor kids gunna be embarrassed.
Saturday morning (CD 32) arrived and we had a 20-22 mile run scheduled for the day. We were training for our very first marathon. The longest distance either of us have ever ran. We had signed up over a year ago, complimentary of my grandparents, and had been training all year. Kind of. But really actually training for the last 4 months. While training and pushing my body further than it had gone, God and I had many conversations. They went like this: "God, if my body can't hold a baby inside of it, then let's show it what it can do: it can run. It can defy normalness. Running 26.2 miles is like running your body down and then hitting it with a train. That's almost like giving birth right? (Go ahead and laugh, or cry, I cried alot). Let's be proud of my body - God, help me be proud of this body you created for me. I want to run this marathon and complete it. Because, really I should be 7 months pregnant. And since I am not, let's run this marathon."
I woke up around 7:30 am, put on not one but two sports bras because Hello Tenderness. Tie those suckers down. A thought occurred to me while brushing my teeth: Self, if you are indeed carrying a precious thing that has an actual heartbeat, you probably shouldn't run 22 miles today; you should probably be careful with your body, tender with the Love inside. And so went my disgruntled self, opening the bathroom cabinet, finding a pregnancy test, fearful of the One Line. I knew it would be One Line. I knew it more than I knew anything. I felt stupid for pulling out two tests, but I just needed my mind to be clear on our run so I could focus and pray and love my body. But man, the voices in my head were shouting how incredibly stupid and foolish I was.
I do the deed. Not that deed, Loren was still waking up. I pee into the majestic plastic white cup and I annoyingly stick two tests into it. I open the lower cabinet door again to set them inside, in case that Loren comes in. Of course, IF it was Two Lines, I would want to surprise him in a fun loving way like last time. (Oh my gosh you guys, last time was so fun and I did so good and we danced and cried and laughed and I video taped [Loren would correct me and say I did not video tape it, but recorded it] it and it was great). Not just by showing him the test - I want these moments to be made special. No matter the outcome, I want these moments to be happy memories. The kind that you tell your kids and they feel so loved and cherished and wanted.
Well what ACTUALLY happened was this: before I even set the tests down Two Lines appeared and I said over and over again, "Oh no, oh no, oh no, oh no. I can't, I can't, I can't, I can't." My head went fuzzy and I became suddenly so light headed I thought I might faint. And then I stumbled two steps towards our bedroom where Loren was lying down asking, "What? Is there a spider?" I then did actually black out slightly and slumped against the door. He raced out of bed and I held up the test and said, "I can't do this again. I can't lose another." Don't tell anyone, but he cried because he has a heart of beautiful gold. He held me while I sobbed and he smiled. He held me tight while fear took over and I felt like an idiot for not telling him in some fancy fun beautiful way, and instead revealed how deeply afraid I was.
I of course then took the rest of our pregnancy tests and dumped them into my pee to make sure I didn't make it up and we weren't seeing things. I mean, they look pretty clear:
I took plenty of pictures of these little sticks, because in the case that we had to say goodbye to soon, they were currently all I had to show for our little baby. No ultra sound, just little sticks screaming, "Yes! I am here mom! Don't run 22 miles today, please!" I hadn't taken enough clear photos of our little sticks for that baby, but I did take a couple, so here I was taking photos of my tests.
The whole "pregnancy after loss fear" was more real and more intense than I had anticipated. I never would have guessed the crippling fear to take ahold of my entire self like a giant prickly hug from a thorn bush. It was WEIRD. And like I said: so unexpected. I had read stories and blogs about pregnancy after loss, but a lot of those stories were after still-born losses. And ours was lost very quickly after discovering the little nugget, but the loss ran deep.
Our midwife Julia is amazing and met me that afternoon to check my hormone levels. She ordered me some hormonal creams which helped my body have enough of what it needed to keep baby inside! She also is the actual best and ordered an ultra sound for week 6, just a week and a half away! So we got to see little baby and his/her heartbeat fluttering away early October. She also encouraged me to set up my maternal fetal medicine doctor to immediately get on blood thinners.
Our first trimester together ended up not being the most beautiful.It was full of grief, loss, mourning, anger, stress. Among a lot of other things. We lost our job, that we had let wrap itself around our actual identity, in the most ugly and hurtful way. We lost relationships we cherished dearly, who we had sacrificed with and for, who we had many formative memories with. We had: about two months left of income, an identity crisis to walk through, no idea what our next move or jobs were, a brand new high risk pregnancy, a blossoming adoption, and questions for God. Big questions like: what are You doing? Where are we going? What is our identity, again? Do you see us down here? Are we Youth Pastors? Are we parents? Will we have to walk through losing another baby through pregnancy? Will our adoption be halted? Will we ever heal from the mess that has just been exploded in our face? Where will we move?
On top of the raw emotional turmoil we were undergoing, I am also one of those blessed souls who experiences ALL THE HORMONAL SIDE EFFECTS. So I was puking out the car window and splashing toilet water into my face (we've had a few laughs while stuff is spewing from my face) and breaking out in zits and becoming sore in tender places. But I kept thinking, "Thank you for letting me know my body is doing what it should."
My poor little sister came over sometime in early October and we sat her down and said, "Hey sis! Look at this picture!" And showed her the ultra sound. Then we were like, "Also, we are 98% we are moving to Idaho!" The poor girl just cried and smiled and was so confused with what to feel. I learned in that moment not to dump an extremely beautiful thing mixed with some really sad things together and hope it turns out well for the receiver.
ANYWAYS. The truth one of the matters is this: I have struggled a lot with this pregnancy. When we were first married, I imagined our pregnancies being beautiful and shared week by week with the internet world of my blog. I envisioned weekly updates about how I was feeling and what I was craving and how baby was doing and how mama was throwing up and exercising and eating. I pictured this lovely time for all of our friends and family and some readers to watch my belly grow. But then this year sort of just threw us off and changed a lot of things. Now I fear hurting those who are still trying to conceive. I fear hurting those who are walking through fresh loss. I fear taking this precious gift for granted, when all I want to do is cherish every moment that his or her heart beats within my own womb. I want to share with the world how incredibly grateful I am for this baby. That if we did lose this baby, I would be grateful that I had the time with him or her. Since September 19, I have taken this pregnancy day by day, doing my best (but often failing) to lift this baby up with hands surrendered wide open. Each day I do better with the thing of surrendering, but each day I still fail.
I've been giving myself injections twice a day to prevent blood clots, since week 6. We had a blood clot scare, but guess what! I didn't have one. I had bronchitis. Weird how similar those felt. I have come to often dread the shots, because they hurt not only while going in, but for about ten minutes afterwards. But I do my best to be every so thankful for needing them (it means there is a baby inside of me). I am also so thankful for western medicine - without these shots, me or my baby would not survive. Here's a picture of my squishy belly from a about a month ago:
It still hurts to see some pregnancy announcements. It still hurts when people complain about their pregnancies or make jokes to me about pregnancy being accidental. I don't know when or if that will go away. It should, because it is kind of annoying. I don't know why it still hurts. I have a friend who tried to conceive for "two whole months" and I about cried when she explained how hard it was to wait that long.
This is me confessing and saying: this journey is not over yet. Becoming pregnant and reaching week 17 (which is today!) is not the goal. This journey is more than conceiving and carrying. The journey is seeing beauty in the small and minute, finding pieces of Heaven when all seems broken, learning to live hands open palms up in surrender, cherishing the life He has given me, even if it is life on earth and full of brokenness. Even if it is a life I did not expect or a life different than what I had envisioned. Though I seem to be often clouded with bitterness and hurt and sadness and fear (this happens when I am not praying, and instead letting my mind run), I am doing my best to be thankful. To be delight-filled. To move forward on the journey, no matter what happens. To remember that no one knows the future and today I am pregnant but I do not know what tomorrow holds.
I take those weekly "bumpy" pics to document for myself and our baby. I read about him/her all of the time. I place my hand(s) over my womb and pray and talk and send love to our little Naval Orange sized baby. I am working towards feeling free to find joy in this so wanted baby, because as I stated, I often feel guilty or fear of hurting others. If you're reading this and you're still trying to conceive, please know that you are thought of so often in my dailiness. I pray for you so extremely frequently.
Here is one of last week's photo- to me, my abdomen muscles have been loosened so that's why my tummy is protruding. I can't suck it in anymore. Ha! Hi Avocado Baby! (That's his/her size here).
This feels pretty sacred to post, but here's Baby Brenner at week 12 (we think he/she has a big nose):
I went on a 2-mile prayer jog-walk Monday, yesterday and today. I have only been slightly nauseous the last few weeks with little to no vomit, and thought it was time to get back into an exercise routine where prayer is the main focus. And these prayer walks? They are such gifts. Such treasures. Today I am pregnant. Today I am working towards feeling free to celebrate the baby inside, rather than feeling guilty about him/her. Today I celebrate the life that is within me. Today I breathe freedom because He has given it to us.
One day at a time.
Today, I pray with hands open in surrender.
When Loren and I first shared this pregnancy with our family members, we wrote little cards like this:
"Your grand baby is the size of a lentil. Pray to meet him or her come May or June 2016! Ps. We are still adopting."
They hooted and they hollered and they cried. Nearly no one double checked that we were continuing our adoption because we stated it right up front and made sure they knew it was of utmost importance to us and our little family. Until of course, this little baby survived a few more weeks of pregnancy. Then we had a couple people say, "Oh but your adoption is on hold, isn't it?" No. No it is not. We have presented 2 times (one being a set of twins!) since discovering this very loved gift growing inside. You can call us crazy. I decided on a new hashtag awhile ago: #WeCraveCrazy.
Hearing Loren answer incessantly with, "Adoption is not a second best or a back up. We already wanted to adopt. We are fully pursuing our baby through adoption," makes my heart swoon over the moon and back.
When we first began the adoption journey officially, early this year, we had agreed: if we are home study ready and become pregnant, we will keep going! No question. However we discovered our last fertility treatment was a "success" and that we were pregnant about a week later and thought we would delay officially beginning our adoption process for about 8 months. But then, as you probably know, my body let that baby go to heaven too soon. So a few months of heavy grieving later, we felt the push to begin the journey again. So we did. And the same conversation was held, "If we become pregnant again, we will continue this adoption process. Agreed? Agreed. Totally." Our hearts were called and there was no ignoring it.
I'm not going to spend much time on this specific happening right now, but when we discovered the belly bean in my womb in September, I fell over. Literally. I was in such shock I fell over and Loren thought I had seen a giant spider. We had JUST been home study approved. Already presented to 3 birth mamas. We were full swing, and my first fears were: "What if I lose this one too? What if no birth mom chooses us?" I asked Loren immediately, "You don't want to stop our adoption do you?" And he said, "No, absolutely not."
About 3 weeks later we were trying to figure out how to announce these three life altering things that we weren't even sure how to process: "Hi Internet world! We are moving & not returning to vocational ministry! We are pregnant! We are still adopting!"
We ended up with this photo which actually just confused 65% of everyone and their mom:
As life usually rolls, nothing went smoothly or even really kindly for about two months; in fact it was an actual mess of loss and grief and hot feelings that weren't pretty and still aren't. But we kept praying for the little peanut in my womb, and for the baby bean in our hearts as well as his/her mama, trying to find glimpses of hope in the darkened valley we had found ourself in. Thankful and believing that Jesus had placed in our hearts two little lives, reasons to keep finding Him and reason to give thanks, even when all else seemed cloudy and disdainful.
Now, our life is completely different. We are southeast of Portland, about 15 minutes from downtown and 27 minutes from our brother, his wife who is a best, and their two little girls who are our babies' cousins. Loren is starting work today with a company he worked with for 2.5 years in Corvallis (they have a Portland location) with the hope of returning to school to work towards his masters degree. We are still unpacking boxes and selling stuff and making our home, until January when I will be applying to work again with the retired community. We feel like we can finally breathe for the first time in maybe over a year, and are settled into a safe little home that is perfect for our growing family. Fresh air. Slow breathing. Hope. We have a yard, people! And a tree for a swing.
And we are still adopting. Still fundraising. Still loan applying. Still grant searching. Still praying for our birth family and precious and so wanted little one. Our hearts have not wavered 1% with pursuing our baby through adoption. In fact, my momma heart has only deepened and grown towards adoption and I cannot stop thinking about and praying for all the babies we may adopt on this adventure that is life and marriage. My goodness, I am antsy to meet our birth parents and love them and learn about them and begin our Adoption Baby Book. I am anxious to set our two cribs up and hang up nursery art and prepare our home all the more for those bundles of poopy preciousness.
We (I) have been TERRIBLE at updating on the puzzle. YOU GUYS. Because of YOU, yes you, we have over half of the puzzle funded! Once the puzzle is fully funded, we will have reached about 1/2 of our total estimated agency costs. Look at the back of this beauty:
The dark over the names is modge-podge. Can you find your name? Here are most of the recently added!
I have fallen in love with the back of the puzzle, as it exclaims how loved this little baby is. Oh my heavens. It screams, "YOU ARE WANTED! WE ARE HELPING BRING YOU HOME!"
Loren was studying Greek in early August and approached me with a word that he would love to name our little girl, are we ever lucky to raise one. We are open to any gender, any race, but I cannot help but picture a little African American girl in our home. I cannot help but ask God with each situation we are presented with, "Is this our little _____?" (So not sharing the name, already have had names taken & used after sharing over the last few years). Even if our bio baby is a girl, the name we picked out is being saved for our baby via adoption. Whether this or the next. The Lord gave Loren that name before this little bio baby was created and our hearts wrapped the name around a promise of the heart.
So. Will you continue praying with us? Will you continue asking bold things, that the Lord would bring our birth mama & belly baby to us soon? That He would provide in AMAZING ways? We have applied to about 8 grants and so far received none. We have a friend who gives out of her every paycheck towards our adoption and wow: TEARS. So much love and generosity and just...wow.
We thank you for your prayers in a time where there is so much to be covering in prayer. We thank you for being on our team and supporting us, even while we walk through the valley of hurt and wounds. We thank you for being you.
Here is a link to sponsor a puzzle piece, if you are able! We are continuing this adoption full swing, praying to enter 2016 with so much positive, healthy growth, knowing that He is our King and Hope and family. Thank you, we praise Jesus for you.
So what do you say? Will you purchase a puzzle piece? One for each family member? This puzzle will be hanging in a double sided glass frame in our nursery, displaying all of your so important and necessary names!
How it works:
1) Decide how many puzzle pieces you want to purchase to financially support our adoption fund!
1 puzzle piece = $25
2) VenMo email@example.com and write in the memo "Baby Brenner"
- OR -
Click on the donate button belowto give securely through PayPal
Donate via check. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will send your our address to mail in a check!
However many you decide on, stick the name(s) you want written on pieces in the memo.
3) Watch the adoption puzzle come together on our blog and see your name be recognized.
This puzzle, when finished, will get us to $18,000 - about half of our adoption financial goal.