Dear covid-19

Dear Covid-19

I hate you.

Hate is such a strong word. One I don’t like to use.

My kids believe it’s a “Bad” word, but I have a beef with you.

You need to listen.

You came in like a wrecking ball. You have killed incident people.

You have overworked our doctors, nurses, paramedics, police officers, firemen, firewomen and so many more first responders.

People are so sick. old and young are all affected.

Schools been canceled. Seniors won’t get their graduation they’ve been looking forward to for nearly 18 years. Do you see what you’ve done here? Like kindergarteners don’t understand when Mommy tells them they can’t go back to school, Or that they cannot see their friends.

You are dark. and cold and mean. I hate you Covid-19. I hate all of YOU.

You are like a black crow… eating your neighbor who is you in the mirror. You are careless and deceitful. I hate you.

My friends have been hit by you. You took things from them & made them weak in the knees. You are evil. I hate you.

You took baseball away from my boys. I hate you for that.

Church is canceled. We can’t worship together because of you. You are like the plaque. dark. ugly. depressing. I hate you.

We’ve lost all contact with other humans. We stay inside to protect the ones we love. Day after day, we are still inside. My mind keeps racing. I feel strangled by you. and I can’t breath. Ugh, the air….I don’t have any air. The anxiety grabs onto to my shoulders and you linger. I hate you.

The stores are closed. The salons are closed. Ice cream shops…those too. Movie theater GHOST TOWN. Small shops closed. And now the parks & hiking trails closed. Beaches closed. YOU did all that. You shut down the world. We can’t escape. People are losing their businesses. I hate you for that.

We wake up and want to believe it was all a nightmare. But you are the nightmare. It’s all real. It’s not a dream.

We can’t hug our moms. Grandma’s. Dads. Sisters. Brothers. Aunts. Uncles. we have to STAY AWAY! We’ve missed Birthdays, Holidays, Anniversaries, Family gatherings, girls nights, school events, church activities, baseball games. I hate you.

People have lost their jobs. They are suffering and trying to provide for their families. Food is flying off the shelves. Greed is in the air. You are evil. You have created monsters. People grab everything and leave none for those can not stock pile. They can’t afford it. You are utterly disgusting. I hate you.

My husbands hours have been cut. Now he’s laid off for good. We rely on that income. To feed our children. To pay our mortgage. To live! You wouldn’t know anything about living because you are dark and dreary. You are death. I hate you.

We will be without an income during a pandemic because of COVID-19. How will we make it? How will we survive? How will the world survive this?

Doctors and nurses and hospital staff….yeah even the janitors and housekeeping… they have all put their lives on the line for US. Now they can’t even go home to their families. Your sick virus did this. Your virus is so contagious they have to be without their loved ones. I hate you.

You don’t discriminate. You like all. Black. White. Brown. You have no preference. You will infect any age. You like all genders. Your illness has traveled world wide. It has latched onto good people and bad people. It lingers in the air and can travel right to your door step. You are evil. You are dark. You are the definition of depression. I hate you.

I am 32. I am a woman. I am a mother. I am a wife. and I am quarantined with my three children. Because of you. Because I want to stay safe and protect my family I stay home. The panic starts to set in and my fear reminds me I need to see my doctor. I’m not sleeping. It’s insomnia. Something is wrong. No it’s not COVID-19 serious but something else. I’m having hot and cold flashes on the hour… sometimes twice an hour. I need to see my Doctor. Finally I see him. I get blood work done. I am in full blown Menopause at age thirty-freaking-two! Reminder… I am quarantined with my three small children and I now have menopause. I am 32! What the bloody hell!? Because of you…it makes everything more complicated. Seeing my doctor. getting blood work done. Going back to see my doctor. because of you I wait… and wait while I suffer through an uncomfortable body. Still no medicine to subside the lack of estrogen in my body. My youth has been robbed and all while I can not escape. I hate you. No you didn’t cause my early menopause… you’ve just destroyed the world I live in and made every waking day a nightmare. I hate you. I hate you for all the distance you have traveled. For all you have hurt. For those around me you have hurt. The worry you have caused. The depression. BUT… I don’t hate you for the strength we have all found. No you don’t get the credit for that. We do. the people. The strength in finding joy in side walk chalk notes, hearts on windows, drive by’s to your loved ones, WE did that! Not you. I”m grateful for the peace we have created in our own homes, for the family back at the dinner table (That was God), for movie nights and popcorn as a family, lego building without any interruptions, Barbie playing and make believe… you can’t take that from us. Sunshine and walks outside our home. Running through the sprinklers on a hot day. Popsicles while sitting on the swing. Phoning a friend and laughing so hard but also crying because this life is a new life. A hard life. FaceTime with our parents and tears of sadness. I’m still grateful for that. DO you know why? Because it’s reminded me what IS so important. What’s important is to LIVE for yourself, for what brings you JOY. To HUG the people you love and Gosh dang it tell them you LOVE them. Don’t wait. Don’t wait for tomorrow. Live for today. Keep your people close and wrap your arms around them. You matter. They matter. She matters. We all matter. WE ARE IN THIS TOGETHER. LOVE WINS. so GO to hell COVID-19. I hate you.

Welcome Home Forever Tyler

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I have to tell you a story. Not mine. Not about a stranger. Not about infertility. Not another loss. Something really special. The kind of magic you only read about. I have to tell you the truth. The truth is Baby K was not our first foster babe. The first little that walked through our doors is named T. (You’ll hear me abbreviate his name due to foster care laws, so stay with me.) I hate the term “foster child” it’s like molding them into this stereotype. Why can’t they just be called, Jennifer? Lauren? Mark? Whatever their name is. Why foster child? Anyway, on with my story. Last year 2017 on October 2nd our home was forever changed. A change I didn’t want and said NO to. Want to know what I said NO to? I’m going to tell you. It was an afternoon day, like any other day. Kids were home from school doing homework. Daddy was in the garage working on a project and I was in and out helping all of them. I got a phone call from child protective services placement department. I was instantly excited and wanted to say YES to whatever the woman on the phone was going to ask. Then came the words, “We wanted to ask you if you would be respite caregivers for about a week?” I was really disappointed, I said, “Oh, we were hoping for a placement. We aren’t really looking to do respite.” For those that don’t know the term respite, Its when other foster families watch each others fosters kids. Since this is a licensed caregiver situation, foster parents are not able to just leave their kids with whomever. So thats where respite caregivers come into play. Only for me personally, I wanted to leave our open space open for an actual placement. A child that would be ours for the time being. I did NOT want to do this. So I simply told the woman on the phone, I’m sorry we can’t do that right now. We are too busy. Her voice sounded so desperate, “are you sure you can’t take him for just one week? The family is leaving on a vacation out of state.” I never discussed it with any of the family and after I hung up I went about my business as usual. Only I have children who just know too much and overheard my conversation. Layla yelled out, “MOM why did you say no!? We want that kid to come here!” I just laughed, mostly a nervous laugh. Then she told Daddy and he agreed. Then Hunter agreed and I was canceled out. I was quite honestly a bit shocked, that they were all in and here I was afraid to help a kiddo out for a short period. Next, I did what any parent would do when you mess up. I quickly got on the phone to reach this woman who called. Only, calling CPS is like a needle in a hay stack. They call from private/non working numbers. I couldn’t reach her. Finally, I got a hold of someone in the office who left a message for her. I hung up and felt so bummed I made a decision for the whole family and I was wrong. THEN the phone rang and it was her! She thanked me for calling back but said she found a family willing to take him. I said, Okay thanks anyway. Then she said I will give the foster mom your info if thats ok and let her decide what the best fit is. I sort of just forgot about it and moved on because it felt like a loss. BUT it wasn’t a loss because the next day the foster mom called me and said, “Yeah your family sounded like a perfect fit for him so we picked you!” I got off the phone and said Hallelujah! I was pretty excited at this point. We had Never had any foster kiddos in our home, although we had been licensed for over two months at that point. The day came where we would be meeting this child for the first time. His foster parents arranged a time with us, to bring him over to meet our family and get acquainted before they would be leaving. I will never EVER forget the moment we met him. I could literally ugly CRY right now just thinking of it. We had spent the day cleaning up the nursery for him, fresh bedding, dusted, new wall art, blankets you name it. The door bell rang, and I felt butterflies. Like could we really just take in a kid for a week and be ok? Would he be ok? Will the kids accept him? I opened the door and my jaw literally dropped when I saw his little face.

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I’m sure it was obvious to his foster parents. I don’t hide my emotions well. I’d like to think that was a good quality. I try to be as real as possible. HE literally was a spinning image of Hunter at that same age. He was 2. Just a baby. He had beautiful blonde curls and his eyes lit up. He was shy. He smiled. He played on his own and then with the kids. My heart could burst. Not just because he resembled us, but because there was this connection we had instantly with him. I felt like I knew him, and he knew us. He was everything and all we needed at that exact time. He quickly bonded with us, played well, slept well and cuddled close to us. Called me Mommy right away and Justin… Daddy. We didn’t tell him to, he just did. Don’t get me wrong foster care isn’t all peachy. There was fighting & jealously and pure exhaustion at the end of the day. I mean we got a 2-year old overnight. It was tough but at the end of the day we were a good kind of exhaustion! We fell in love. and it wasn’t hard or forced or even on purpose! In fact this was only supposed to be a seven day thing! Every day was hard knowing he would be leaving. We lived in the moment, played hard and loved hard. He made our family come alive. He took us out of our slump and brought us all together again. The kids played in the yard until dark on a daily. They came in with dirty feet, grass stuck to them and smiles. They slept hard and did it all over again the next day. Since we only got a week, we fit in as many experiences as possible. I know what you are thinking? Why? We did it because it felt right. We took the kids to the pumpkin patch, we did family walks, went out for ice cream, baked together, visited the Zoo, took him shopping and more! Layla was learning to read at the time and would bring T into her bed at night and read to him. I had never seen him so still before. He would just sit there listening intently.

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I remember feeling like he had healed my mama heart… more than I knew was possible. I would rock him to sleep at night and he would often fall asleep on me. It was so comforting to know that I could love another child as my own. I loved him for him & we fully accepted him as our own.

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T if I could tell you one thing right now, it would be thank you. Thank you for showing our family what true love looks like. Not that we didn’t love one another before you, but you showed us a new kind of love. A love that isn’t easy. A love this isn’t blood. A love that is unconditional. A love that felt safe. A love that was natural. You felt like my own child and I know God knew we all needed that. You were a God send. Our little Angel. Daddy bonded with you more then I knew was possible in such a short time. Layla loved you as her “Baby” and Hunter was tough on you but loved being a big brother for the first time!

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Now for the hard part. The end of our story.

Dear T, 

The night before you left Daddy & I balled our eyes out at the thought of you leaving! We couldn’t explain it, why we felt so strongly about you. You were so special. You fit right into our family so well and it felt meant to be. Only is wasn’t because you were going back to your foster family. It didn’t seem fair to have to give you back. We already loved you so much. That night Layla laid in bed crying herself to sleep. She’s our sensitive one. I felt her pain but didn’t know how to comfort her. Or what to say. 

I packed your things while I cried. Asking God why he gave me a baby that I would fall in love with? Why God? Why did you give me a baby that seems like my own biological baby? Why? 

We loved you for 8 days and wished for an eternity after those 8 days were over. The goodbye was hard but your sweet foster parents quickly became our friends. They brought comfort to us and were supportive of our feelings for you. We included some photos we took of you & a note to them. We expressed our love for you and asked to be a part of your life if at all possible. To our surprise they were welcoming to the idea. That night when we said goodbye, it was hard for you. You didn’t want to leave my arms and secretly it felt good to me. Holding onto you, giving you comfort and love. Your foster parents had us over for dinner and we all sat down together. It was easy and felt comforting. In that moment you had two mamas who cared deeply for you. It wasn’t a position I knew much about. Not being the first mommy and all, but I embraced it for you. We love you T and always will!

 

      The days after weren’t as hard as I thought they would be. You know what happened? We saw him again. Isn’t that amazing? We played at the park and all was right in the world again. Then we saw you again and again. We shared meals together, we got together for a church activities, we played, we even babysat! Each time it was like a mini reunion. I remember T’s Foster mom saying to us, you just never know what is going to happen. I would always tell her that I can’t think like that. T was in route to be reunited with his biological parents. I didn’t agree with the reunification, after learning things about his parents but in the end it wasn’t up to me. We still loved spending time with T as often as possible but knew it would soon come to an end. It was hard knowing that. Meanwhile we had a placement of a baby girl named K. And after she left our home we had another baby girl named E. I remember the last night we would see you. You came over with your foster parents for dinner. It was a goodbye dinner for you. I hate goodbyes. We all felt sad at the thought of not seeing you ever again, but nonetheless enjoyed our time together. It ended up being a hectic night, and I was sad I didn’t get on the floor more to play with you. This was Goodbye to our boy T. I asked him if I could “squeeze” him. it was our thing and he smiled and said yeah! I gave him one last squeeze and we all said goodbye. The kids didn’t understand why this goodbye was for real. It was sad and hard to explain.

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     Only our story didn’t end here. It was supposed to end, but God had other plans for us. T was reunited and was home with his biological parents for about two weeks. Then on Easter Sunday, April 1st 2018 I got a call from T’s social worker. As we sat down to our Easter dinner just a family of five (We still had baby E at this point), I got word that things weren’t going well in his home. She asked me if T could come stay with us! While I was worried and scared for him I was also really relieved that I wouldn’t have to worry anymore. HE was coming HOME! The cool thing too was It was just by chance that we had decided to stay home for Easter. We quickly got things ready for him, a bed and bedding, clothes, blankets & a lovie. Hearing about what he has been through in the last two weeks was both heart wrenching and maddening! Easter alone was one of the most traumatic days yet for him. Thank goodness he knew us so well & he was coming home to a place he was loved. When the van pulled up to our house that night, poor T was screaming with fear but when he saw Justin he went right to him. He was shaking and his lip was quivering as he sat in Justins lap. I sat there holding little newborn baby E and my heart was literally crushed. I couldn’t believe or understand why you would traumatize your child like this! Layla & Hunter sat closely to T as he began to tell us everything that had happened to him that night. There sat this little person. Only 2 years old with the vocabulary of a much older child. He was so brave. He was comfortable & calm after he told his story. No one prompted this story from him, but he is a very intelligent child who has been blessed with an amazing brain. I think he knew he was home & he knew he was safe. Therefore he shared in an effort to decompress. It was both sad and amazing to hear what he had to say.

That night was rough. Like the kind of rough that I can’t even begin to explain. Poor T was so sad trying to go to sleep. In all our efforts to comfort, love and give him teddy bears and blankets he did NOT want to sleep! It was understandable BUT still hard. We set his bed up in Hunters room that night thinking they could share a room. All that did was keep Hunter up. T was so insecure he kept thinking we were going to leave him or that he was going somewhere else next. I can’t tell you the literal heartache that comes from witnessing this firsthand. We basically had to fall asleep next to his little toddler bed, holding his little hand. But this sweet picture I captured was taken the first morning after. It’s not much at all. But to me it’s the simplicity of seeing my three children playing together. I just love it. and I will always treasure it. The messy bed head. The unmade beds. It’s real life.

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That next day turned into one week, and then a month and now six months later we are still together. This has been some of the greatest yet most difficult and challenging moments I have ever had to deal with. Changing our family dynamic yet again from 3 kids to 4. Saying goodbye to baby E and back to 3 kids. Teaching the kids how to get along. Hunter becoming an instant brother and having to share everything with a 2 year old! The trauma that took place has been our worst struggle. Getting T to sleep at night has been a battle. When he goes to visits with his bio parents it has caused him to come home and just cry and cry at bedtime. It’s super triggering to see them and almost without fail it disrupts his sleep. If I could take that pain from him… I would do it instantly! I can say, that just recently he’s made huge strides and he is sleeping at night & going to sleep without crying!! We love this little boy without a doubt & all this heartache is worth every bit!. I just hope he feels the love we have for him, because we sure feel his LOVE! Gosh, I remember praying for him almost every day after he first left our home and now here he IS.

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six months became a year… and a year turned into something we could have never imagined. While dealing with some of the the most stressful times of our lives, we also felt so much happiness. People often think that the children, in foster care are the ones with the most issues. While they do have a lot of issues not of their own doing, our biological children were struggling with their own battles. The days were long and our nights were short. Too often we were going without sleep. Struggling to find time to work at our marriage. Yeah, I said WORK! If you think being married is easy and you don’t have to put effort into it…you’re wrong. Most days we didn’t have time for each other. We used up all our energy for the kids & after that we had nothing to spare. The days felt long not knowing where this would end. I didn’t have much desire to pray because I felt so little hope. Everyone around us would say, “He looks just like you guys” and knowing he might go back would sting hearing that. It might look easy, being a family and we might all look neat and well dressed but inside our home it was pure chaos! Chaos! Chaos! SO much damn fighting between our kiddos. I mean siblings fight right? It seemed normal to me but so exhausting. I think the big difference here was, most siblings start off one at a time as a newborn & an older child. They have time to bond, especially while the baby can’t talk. Can’t make that more obvious. However, when a two year old becomes your instant brother it makes things interesting. Especially when he annoys you to no end. Ha! It’s been a long rife my friends!

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I will never forget the day I got “The call” on a warm fall afternoon. The phone rang while I was getting dinner ready, the kids were all playing loudly. When I answered it was our social worker, I quickly went into the garage so I could hear her better. Then I heard the words that I never thought I would hear, “We’ve terminated parental rights and we are moving forward with adoption and we are recommending your family to adopt” My heart literally throbbed right out of my chest, my jaw hung down and my mouth wide open with pure shock running through my entire body. I felt numb. I couldn’t speak. What should I say? Thank you? Yes? How sad? SO many emotions filled my heart. All I could do was thank God. I knew it was because of God that I had this sweet little boy. Although, I did feel sadness for the tragedy and the blessing in this moment. I wondered how his birth parents might be feeling in that moment. I was sad for the decisions they made that led him to our home.

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Our trials didn’t end here. Often times when TPR (Termination of parental Rights) begins, it’s a long dreadful trial and road. Lots of court dates, paperwork and meetings. During this time Tylers Bio mom, had been in a serious life threatening car accident. They didn’t think she was going to make it. She was in a-coma. Even though we never has a good relationship I felt inspired to see her. Remember I was the enemy here. I was the one who had “her” son. Imagine for a moment what that might have felt like for her. Had she been awake, she probably wouldn’t have chosen to see me. However, our family had established this really beautiful relationship with Tyler’s bio grandparents early on & we went to visit Bio mom in the hospital together. When I walked into the hospital room and saw her laying there lifeless, bruises & blood exposed throughout her body. Flesh missing, broken bones, tubes in and out all over her body my gut was punched with a fist of sadness. My legs felt weak. Tears ran down my face. My skin itched. My eyes wide. My eyes scaled the tubes, taking all the bad blood out of her body and replacing it with good blood. Then the Doctor walked in the inform her parents she wasn’t going to make it and if she did she would be a vegetable from here on out. Her mother fell to her knees sobbing, just before she hit the ground her husband caught her. I couldn’t believe this news. Pure devastation. She had a 2-month old baby at home waiting for her to wake up. Because of this devastating news, Tylers case kept getting extended. It would be months before we could adopt.  By some miracle, and I mean by GOD she woke up! She fought the odds and is walking, talking and a breathing human being. In the mean time we fostered the relationship between T and bio mom. In my hearts of hearts, this felt right. After all, everything we did was for him. What was best for him. I know I had more sympathy for bio mom after what she had been through. She was a miracle! God knew her journey wasn’t over. She was meant for SO much more. While her story doesn’t belong to me, I can only share how it shaped me and becoming Tyler’s forever mommy. What was next was difficult, Ty had an uprooting last visit with Bio Dad. Things were said to him that NEVER should have been said. It was so hurtful. he was 3 for heavens sake! We would pay for that for night to follow. Long nights that accompanied crying, nigh tares, behavior issues and more. We mourned with Ty for his loss and his pain. We knew he felt our love and had bonded with us. But loosing a family member forever, caused more pain for him than I think anyone will ever understand. You see Ty is uniquely intelligent. He knew all his letters and could sing ABC’s when he was two, he remembered everything, he started wiring letters at three and writing his name too. HE knew what he had lost. He knew he lost them and gained us. But you know what we got through it. Lots of therapy, and trust building. He had come so far from that first week he was with us when he saw a “white visit van” (Case aids pick up children in foster care to take them to visits with biological parents.) pull up to our house and his whole body shrieked climbing up my leg in utter fear! He never knew who to trust and who he was Safe with. I remember my Mom witnessing this one time, when Ty was picked up for a visit and she just started to cry. She could see how much pain these little children go through. I don’t think people talk about this enough. The trauma they continue to go through. The long nights. The attachment issues. All of it.

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Would you believe me if I told you it took an ENTIRE year to adopt post TPR!? Yup, a whole year. It didn’t matter too much to us, because we were just grateful to be a forever family. We felt completely blessed by Heavenly Father. During that year visits had ended, we did however keep things open with bio mom. As long as it was safe and healthy we would let Tyler chat with her on the phone whenever he asked. It just felt like that was the right thing to do. That last year a lot of weight was lifted. We were able to call him by his new name Tyler James Billings. That made life really sweet. The next part I’m about to tell you, you might not believe until you live it. We were given an actual ADOPTION DATE! It was real. this was real. It wasn’t a dream anymore. This was real life. Ever since we were told we could adopt Ty, so much doubt filled my mind wondering if it would ACTUALLY HAPPEN and then it came true! on October 11th 2019, we woke up to wild pounding Santa Ana winds, some fires had already started and a sick little Tyler who was up all night with a 102 fever! But I told Satan that today our family was becoming official and NOT TODAY SATAN! NOT TODAY! Nothing would keep us from becoming a forever family! We put on our best clothes, and thanked God this day came true as we marched into the court house proud as can be. Friends, Family, Social workers, Case aids, friends from church, preschool teachers, little friends of Tylers ALL showed up for US! Talk about ugly crying….that was me! I will never forget this day. We sat as a family around a little table in front of the judge. He talked to the kids about some olden day history of judges. They sat so still. Tyler in my lap. Layla to my left, holding my hand. Hunter to my right taking it all in. Daddy on my far right. close enough for me to rest my hand on his thigh. My heart beating as if I were running a marathon. My throat felt tight holding in tears of joy. My hands unsteady and anxious to sign the adoption/birth certificate. Then he said it, Tyler James Billings was offocially and legally adopted. He would be ours forever. I leaned over to kiss Justin. Tears ran down my face. Tyler unfazed but any of it. He knew from Day one, I was mommy and Justin was Daddy. Today made no difference to him. but to us it meant the world. After 885 Days in foster care Tyler became a Billings Forever!

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PC: Carly Martin Photography

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

14 TRUTHS of Foster parenting

Unfiltered. Raw feelings.

The truth IS being a foster mama is HARD.

1. TRUTH… I HATE when people say, “I could Never do that!” I want to SCREAM out loud and say, “I CAN’T DO IT EITHER…I’M JUST SURVIVING!” It’s so true. You JUST do it because your heart guides you, and NO ONE is built to endure it and just enjoy it day in day out. Sure there’s happy times but truth be told most of it ruins you.

2. TRUTH… becoming foster parents has ruined our marriage and created a masterpiece at the same time. I remember the day we flew away from the beautiful islands of Hawaii so vividly last summer in 2017. Did I mention kid free? Yup, 8 blissful nights just the hubby and I relaxing on the beautiful beaches of Maui ALONE! We came home well rested, happy, tan and with energy to take on anything! Call it restored parents if you will! Then days later we got our first official call and placement. Total blessing and worst night mare! We took home a brand new sweet baby girl, who was drug exposed in utero. It was one of the hardest things I personally have EVER done! Goodbye sleep. Goodbye time. Goodbye Sex. Hello Social workers, Case aides, Therapy appointments, Daily doctor visits, biological parents from hell and SO much more! This is when the ruining began. At first it was slowly creeping in then BAM! One day it smacked us right in the face! She was gone. Just like that, it was all over. The masterpiece part is how much strength we have built, and are still continuting to build. It takes work!

IMG_8188.JPG3. TRUTH… bringing a child into your home isn’t the worst that’s the best part! The worst part is their case load. As mentioned above, the social worker visits, case aids coming to and from your home to pick the child up for visits, therapists coming in, the phone calls, the emails, all the biological parents needs and wants, the complaints from the parents that are endless. Like they have just neglected/abused them in some way shape or form, but somehow I have been a bad foster Mother because I sent the child in the same outfit as the last visit. It sometimes makes you crazy!

4. TRUTH… I have gained almost 30 pounds since becoming a foster mama! I’m not proud of that but it’s the truth. Being a parent to an instant child is hard, and stressful and beautiful all at the same time. If you don’t practice self care you won’t survive. I learned that the hard way. For me, without sleep, and caring for infants (and my other kiddos!) that would cry day and night I chose to not eat well, because it was too much work to think about myself. Yet, now with my foster toddler who finally sleeps at night (Hallelujah!) well mostly anyway, I can get sleep and make time to plan healthy meals YET again I don’t. The stress from it all (case load) literally zips up my spine, and I don’t want to do any of it. I just want to eat ice cream when I have sad days and really that’s not cool. because I have a lot of sad days. Sooo…. Time to find a gym again!

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5. TRUTH… Parenting a child with trauma SUCKS! Yup, it totally sucks no other way to put that. As much as I try, it’s still just as hard. little effort=same lots of effort=same. At least that’s what tunnel vision I get. We have tried, weighted blankets, essential oils, night lights, being calm & the opposite of being calm. whoops! It always seems to be the same at the end of the day. I know I might look back and be able to see where we progressed, but while we are in the mist of it it’s too difficult to see the light.

6. TRUTH… sometimes our family and friends try not to get “attached” to our foster kiddos because “I would be too sad if they left”. Those are words I have had to digest after physically hearing that. I feel sick to my stomach remembering the feeling. I know most the time people don’t mean to be hurtful, and while I won’t get offended it’s still the TRUTH and I’m sharing it because it’s weighing on me. Here’s the real TRUTH attachment is LOVE people! Love on these babies because they haven’t been loved properly. Love on them for as long as you can, weather you are the foster mama, the aunt a friend or just a neighbor. These kids aren’t disposable, they are just like your kids at home. They want to be loved on and cared for. PS if this offends you… maybe stop reading, I’m on a roll & this is my reality.

7. TRUTH… most days I say I’m DONE being a foster parent! It’s TRUEly exhausting! Our social worker told us that we currently have the case from HELL! I would have to agree with her, but are there still blessings that come from that? Heck ya. The twist and turns never seem to end though. What started as an open co-parenting case, quickly went sour and turned into us being confidential. The worst is when your foster kiddo comes home sugared up & hands full of new toys from a visit, and quickly reverts back to being terrible and decides they can’t sleep either. 3 days later they get that trigger out of their system and BAM! They have another visit. Now it starts all over again. Trigger. Bad behavior. Can’t sleep. Doesn’t know why. so on so on. OUCH right!?

8. TRUTH… I have become my worst self and my strongest version of myself. I am mean and inpatient. Yelling at my kids, frustrated over little tiny “Small deals”. Yet, I have single handedly caused changes in the foster care system over my persistence and my annoying habit of never giving up. After a case we first had nearly ended me, I threw up a fight. A fight that landed at the top. I raised Hell. I raised Hell to make changes. truth is I HATE what these kids have to go through. The system is shit. So it takes us little people at the bottom of the pit, to make a small difference. My voice was heard loud and clear. SO while I am not proud of this Bitchy self I have become, I have slowly learned to slow down. Leave the mess (yeah right that’s a lie! I can’t handle messes!), allow myself to relax a bit and not sweat the small stuff. I haven’t found my purpose in all this yet but I’m still actively searching.

9. TRUTH… Just while typing this my foster son has gotten up from his bed 6 times! It’s midnight. No reason to be up kid! I feel myself getting mad like always. Then I stop and think was it that phone call with his biological mom we had today? Did that trigger him somehow? Or is he just being 3? Shoot, I just don’t have all the answers. I over analogize everything. Just when I tell myself to stop, and I dive in deeper. Gosh, this might be embarrassing to share.

10. TRUTH… you will fall madly in love with the children you foster, and it won’t hurt any less when they leave if you try to guard your heart. So just love them all the way! If you’re the mama, a close friend or their teacher WHOEVER you are… love on them.

 

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11. TRUTH… I am NOT a saint. I am not a selfless kind hearted person, who just does this because I am so awesome or amazing. In fact I’m quite selfish because all I have ever wanted is a big family. So really they aren’t blessed to live with us, WE are blessed to have them. They make our family whole and fill that missing puzzle piece.

12. TRUTH… YES our kids appear to look perfect in public but let me tell you something… this sweet little sleeping baby that’s wrapped (or was!) around my chest, while I walk through the school gates to pick up the big kids is NOT perfect. She did in fact scream all night! AND yes she looks perfect now, and yes she is suffering through trauma. AND me I’m just a tired mama feeling like I’m failing every damn day. SO if we look happy and perfect… its all a facade! HA, okay its not all bad. but I feel like if I’m going to be truthful that I should be genuine about it. Not sugar coat it whatsoever. What I’m getting at is… just because you don’t see me crying on my dark days, or hear the baby screaming after I’ve done 100+ things to soothe her,  hear my kids fighting, or see my dirty house (because I cleaned before you came! HA!) and I look like I have my shiz together it ISN’T THE TRUTH. Looks are so deceiving. I try to be pretty transparent but sometimes it’s harder to share the truth then it is easy to just say, “I’m great!” and be on your way!

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13. TRUTH… being a foster parent isn’t for everyone! You might think it’s this glorious thing and true act of service and any child would be lucky to be in your home BUT the hard truth is NOT every person is made to endure this. Truthfully, I am not even sure If I personally am cut out for this. Some days are so LONG and hard I want to give up. Being a Mother in itself is HARD then you throw in all the extra people that come with the foster kiddos. Thankfully the rewarding days outweigh the bad. When I hear our little guy say things like, “I want to live here forever!” and, “I love you for my whole life mama!” you’re brought to your knees with thankfulness and remorse for anything and everything you may have done wrong. I think it’s God’s way of paving tender mercies & reminding us he’s in charge.

14. TRUTH… you CAN have a relationship with the biological parents! YES, you can! It can actually work, you just have to want it. After experiencing a hell on earth case, we got a new placement of a sweet baby girl. Right away I knew in my heart that this baby was here to heal us all. She was special. I could feel it. As soon as I met her mama, I told her that I wanted to help her & if she worked hard enough she would be reunited with her sweet girl. This baby was tough, don’t get me wrong but aside from the tough moments with her she was a ray of sunshine and she defied all odds against here. Her mom and I became pretty close & still are. I got the opportunity to be an example and show her what being mommy looks like. Her dedication and hard work was impressive and there came a day when she was reunited with her baby. Now she had all the tools she needed to be successful. I walked along side her rooting for her. We were on the same team after all! Right!? Although it was in deed bittersweet, I could see the light. It felt so good to help someone to that degree. The biggest lesson I will take from that experience with her mom are the words she left me with. They give me chills every time I think about them. After nearly three months of caring for our little gal, three intense months if you will including a hospital stay, we handed over this precious soul to her mama. After caring for her day in and out, sleepless nights and so much stress our job was done. But you won’t believe what her mom said to me, she said, “I’m sorry for what you had to go through loosing her and the pain you must have felt. The pain your kids went through. I’m sorry you had to feel all that.” YOU GUYS… did you digest all of what she said!? She told me SHE was SORRY. I was in shock. This woman who left a hospital without her baby she just birthed, is apologizing to me!? She felt empathy for me? I always imagined her pain was much deeper than mine. But pain is pain and she could see both sides. This is how I imagine Jesus Christ. Feeling sorrow and pain for others, yet he endured all of the pain in the world. Yet again, his mind was on the people. There’s always good, you just have to look for it.

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This thing called infertility…

SO theres this thing called infertility. Have you heard of it!? welllll…. it SUCKS!

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Over the last year Justin & I have spent countless hours & money (mostly not covered by insurance!) looking into what the cause of our infertility is. We found a great Doctor who specializes in infertility (I can leave his info here for those interested). You’ll know more about this if you’ve read my past blog posts. Anyway, a lot of friends and family have asked about it and have wanted to know if we have any answers yet. The short answer is YES! The long answer is I will explain it in further detail, to those who are interested in hearing.  I know there are a lot of couples out there who are currently experiencing our same pain… so I hope this helps you!

We have done what FEELS like every test in the books, blood tests for both of us, ultrasounds over and over and over again, doctors appointments on regular basis, a test called Fluoro HSG (I’ll talk more about that later) and etc. It’s almost so overwhlming that its hard to remember all of it! Basically, the Doctor has you do everything under the sun to get to the root of the problem. This man is brilliant! His brain works faster then he can speak.

We started with the Fluoro HSG…which stands for Hysterosalpingogram. Here’s what it means:

A hysterosalpingogram (HSG) is a procedure that uses an X-ray to look at your fallopian tubes and uterus. It usually takes less than 5 minutes and you can go home the same day.

I was incredibly nervous over this test! I heard & read so many conflicting comments about it and the majority were saying it was painful. So I just assumed I would be in terrible pain… and that’s never fun! The test day came and I can honestly say it was nothing! They inject dye into your cervix and then they are able to get the X-ray. The dye will show if your Fallopian tubes are blocking the sperm. I felt no pain and hardly any discomfort. It wasn’t anything more then your annual pap (you know what I’m talking about ladies). However, this picture tells a different story. I had the nurse snap this of me right before and I laugh now because my face is saying “I’M SO NERVOUS! AM I GOING TO MAKE IT!?” Ha! Sorry self…but you are fine. Just fine 🙂

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and then theres this selfie (ugh, did I just use that word. ha!) in the bathroom right before. I often look confused and scared….that’s because I am! I survived and the test was easy peasy.

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                                    Oh yeah… and I almost had to pay ALL of this! Thankfully… a huge blessing was given to us and we only owed a copay of $35!

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I got my test results back and everything came back good. My tubes were healthy and good to go. They did find a few cysts on my ovaries though. It’s pretty common and not usually an issue. However, with me it caused fertility treatments to be pushed out. Did I say fertility treatments? Yeah, I guess I should explain that in a minute! So I started going into the Doctors to have an ultrasound quite often all for them to send me home saying, “Go ahead and try on your own”… yeah because that has worked so freaking well the past 4 YEARS! Ugh! what gives!? Photo Below: Tracking my ovulation and finally getting a smiley face saying my body was ovulating was exciting! Although it didn’t work 😦 basically I wanted to start fertility treatments but every time I could get started I had a dang Cyst on my ovary. And if you don’t know taking any fertility medication (in my case Clomid) won’t do a darn thing! Here’s just a few ultrasound days below… me praying I’ll have a body ready for my rainbow baby! The last one… yeah that was an exciting day! Also, note sweet baby E is with me. Our foster babe. That day I found out that my body was ready to begin YAY! Also, I very much confused the office staff and doctors due to walking in with a newborn asking them to help me get pregnant!? whaaatt….lots of questions and I enjoyed it all… confusing people… I like that. Ha!

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I was ready to go! I got educated on all my medication, they made me a calendar of when to take my medicine, give myself my shots, and yada yada. I couldn’t be MORE EXCITED in this moment! It felt so REAL! Something we had been waiting and waiting for! I was nervous but I knew I had to give this a try. For me. For my husband. For my Family. SO I did IT! and I did it with everything I had. There were daily supplements, clomid (the fertility medication I mentioned earlier), a daily shot which I gave to myself nightly. It was scary the first time, poking a big needle into my stomach and injecting medication. Which I had to mix myself, and put it in the syringe! SO basically I’m a legit nurse now! every single shot was worth it all and I would do it all over again. AND I took progesterone nightly. Fun stuff! Then we had to do timed intercourse. Can you think of anything less romantic!? Ugh, man if only you knew our current life then. We had three kiddos at the time. Layla 7, Hunter 5 and little newborn baby E. Who was a couple of months old, recovering from a serious utero drug withdrawal. We were also administering medication to her twice a day. I can tell you that whole story another day! There wasn’t a lot of sleep for us, nor our own time or space or even our own room. We had a newborn! People might ask then why try on your own? Well we loved her but knew she would be leaving. And why not try on your own? fast forward, a few weeks later and I just had this feeling that there was NO way in hell I was going to be pregnant. I kind of just put my feelings on the back burner and didn’t focus on something that was nothing. You know? Now It was Easter Sunday and I got the most out of the blue call from a social worker working for child protective services. The woman on the phone was asking if we could welcome a little boy into our home TODAY… like right now! A little background, this sweet boy named T he had been in our home the year before for a short period and it turned out he was back in foster care. We wouldn’t have said yes to anyone but him at the time! We were pretty overwhelmed with all we already had but we knew this was for sure meant to BE!

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Here we are 4 KIDS later….4! WHOA… that happened quick! This photo was my gift for Mothers day (2018)

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That first week we had T I also found out I was PREGNANT!!! In this photo above I was actually a mama to 5 including baby in my tummy. It was both scary and an amazing feeling at the same time! That morning I took the test, I felt funny for even taking it since I pretty much knew I wasn’t pregnant. BUT when I saw two positive lines (you can’t see very well in the photo but they are definitely there!) I was literally shocked & every emotion came over me. I felt gratitude, my faith was restored and I felt like this could really work. I could really have a baby! I called Justin immediately at work and told him the news. After what we’ve been through (loosing 7 babes) there is no need for a glamorous production of “Guess what… I’m pregnant!” and no offense to those who celebrate it. For us its plain scary! I cried joyful tears and we praised God for his gift he sent us. Then I had my blood work done to check my HCG levels. Well it was extremely low. and on April 11th 2018 I lost that sweet sweet little miracle. It was like the most precious and sacred gift you had ever been given and ALL gone in a moments notice. I knew for 11 days that my body had created a baby inside. I wasn’t really surprised but my whole body still felt numb. I remember being at my Doctors office with T who has having major behavioral problems due to his trauma and he wouldn’t behave for just a moment while the Doctor was talking. My doctor was telling me that I had lost the baby… and that I could try again next month etc etc. Only all I could feel was, Why did I add another little life to my LIFE in this case T…. making life more complicated. I was irritated, hurt and down right sad. I sat there in the office with a toddler in tow and a newborn and two more kids to pick up from school. I felt crappy and I didn’t understand. At the time my foster kiddos felt like a big burden, and I was wrong to feel that way they were actually a huge BLESSING. God knew we would get this miracle baby and loose that baby, God knew we needed T back in our lives, God knew I needed to snuggle a newborn, God knew I needed to smell that fresh scent a baby has. Only I didn’t know all those things. I felt incredibly wighted down. Here’s the greatest blessing though.. there wasn’t time to mourn, talk, be sad, rest I had 4 kids to care for. Kids to get to school, a newborn to feed while I made breakfast for the rest of the kids, bath time and bed time, and homework, and keeping a 2 year old toddler busy. There wasn’t time to crawl into a dark hole of evil while I hated myself for this pain I felt. There just wasn’t. It’s not that I didn’t ask for help, I did but this time I was just Stronger. I had one half day of rest on my worst day. When I miscarry my body looses an abnormal amount of blood. It causes my legs to shake, my body to be weak and a loss of appetite. I didn’t push my husband away either, I let him right in. This was his pain too. A loss to both of us. This was number 8 for us.

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and then there’s this! Who’s with me on this one!? Like why would I alert the world that life has handed me crap!?

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We got through it and we are actually okay. We don’t know yet if we will do another round of fertility treatment of the same kind or research another avenue. It’s a lot to process and be okay with. We did find out what the cause of our infertility is. Our Doctor discovered through all the testing that I have whats called:

Premature Ovarian Failure 

Heres the description from google:

What is primary ovarian insufficiency (POI)?

“Primary ovarian insufficiency (POI), also known as premature ovarian failure, happens when a woman’s ovaries stop working normally before she is 40.

Many women naturally experience reduced fertility when they are about 40 years old. They may start getting irregular menstrual periods as they transition to menopause. For women with POI, irregular periods and reduced fertility start before the age of 40. Sometimes it can start as early as the teenage years.

POI is different from premature menopause. With premature menopause, your periods stop before age 40. You can no longer get pregnant. The cause can be natural or it can be a disease, surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation. With POI, some women still have occasional periods. They may even get pregnant. In most cases of POI, the cause is unknown.”

Basically my body only produces the amount of eggs a woman in her 40’s would. Which is about 4 a cycle! AND I’m 30 so this is a major bummer. I found this out when I was 29. IT felt surreal. At my age I should be producing hundreds (LIKE 36 THOUSAND EGGS!) of good quality eggs (sounds weird when I word it that way!)

woman are born will approximately 2 MILLION eggs in their body! You don’t make new eggs, you only lose them as you age. My Doctor told me that my body makes bad eggs. When my body detects that “bag egg” it lets go of it. For example in my doctors words, My body could be making a baby with Down syndrome, spina bifida and other major heath problems. When I heard this I was angry and mad that my “bad egg” was taken from me. I almost longed for whatever those babies were and meant to be. It didn’t seem fair. For me getting about 4 eggs a cycle and 3 out of 4 being “bad eggs” doesn’t seem like a good chance for me. After going through all the fertility treatments and still not keeping the baby due to a “bad egg” doesn’t seem like we have a healthy shot at our rainbow baby. I wish I had more answers or more knowledge or a way to help someone struggling as well but for now all I have is my experiences to share. If you are personally struggling with this just know you are loved and it isn’t meant to be easy. I literally have such thick skin now, yet my heart could burst at any moment. I wouldn’t go back in time and change what we have done or been through. It has and will be worth it all, every penny, every shot, every tear, my blood, his blood, the heartbreak and challenges because I’m the kind of person who wants to make sure I really tried. I want to know that  I fought and didn’t give up, that I educated myself and became familiar with something scary. I want to be the kind of mom who loves hard, but also demands respect and isn’t afraid to set her kids straight in public or at home. I want my kids to look back someday and read our story, their story, the story they never really knew the details about. I want them to know Mommy was strong and Daddy never left my side.

Don’t ever second guess yourself. Not even for a minute. You can be your own worst enemy.

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I can hardly remember the feeling…

Being pregnant is such an amazing feeling! Lately, that feeling has been very distant. Almost like I’m forgetting the feeling. My baby is turning 6 this month! It’s caused me to reflect back a lot. When I found out I was pregnant with him, (my boy Hunter) it was a surprise! I had just had Layla who was only 12 months old! It was a shock and a bit scary since I had a c-section with Layla. I would have two c-sections back to back only 21 months apart. It was intense, my recovery was slower since I also had a toddler to chase around & the days were long with Daddy working late hours. Two babies in diapers, two naps, two mouths to feed and so much more. My pregnancy with Hunter was good, but I was so sick the whole time. In fact, I was still breastfeeding Layla! I made it through my entire first trimester breastfeeding her…. feeling nauseous the whole time. She was about 16 months when we stopped. Looking back on our life then… gosh I am just so dang grateful for what God blessed us with. Knowing what I know now… these two babies, Layla & Hunter are complete miracles! I know theres a lot of women who have yet to experience the gift of a birth, and I know my sadness for not continuing to be blessed with more might sound pitiful. My heart goes out to you. It truly does. I’m grateful for the children I do have. My heart does yearn for those 8 babies lost though. That will never change. For whatever reason this has been the path that I’m supposed to be on. Through the birth of my own children, to the loss of my 8 babies, to the road through foster care & three placements later my heart has literally felt every emotion. But this photo, this person in this photo (me!) I Never want to forget. I was so young, 22 years old, first pregnancy (with Layla) and not a worry in the world. Things seemed to fall right into place. I was happy then & I’m still happy today. Only today, I have a few more grey hairs & a whole lot more life experiences. Which I AM actually grateful for! So here’s to the past me, and the future me… trying to love myself through all these different emotions.

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Layla Marie- Maternity photos 2010

Goodbye too soon…

{For confidentiality & safety reasons, names won’t be shared and photos will leave out true identity.}

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Dear Baby K,

I will never forget the day we got the call for you. The phone rang and somehow I knew this was it, this was the call we had been waiting for. Daddy & I already decided that whatever the call was we would say, “YES!” I was out running errands, and as I sat in the Trader Joes parking lot listening to placement from the county talk about you I was in tears immediately. The woman on the phone said, “We have a newborn baby girl. She needs to be picked up from the hospital in about three hours. We have to confirm you are open to long term, most likely permanency to lead to adoption.” I was speechless. I literally just had tears of joy! The woman on the phone continued… “Is your family open to adoption?” I replied, “Absolutely!” I called Daddy immediately and told him the news. Only I could hardly talk, because this was the greatest blessing. He replied, “Are these happy tears or sad? I can’t tell.” I said, “These are defiantly happy tears!” We were both so happy! I ended my errands to rush home, where soon after Daddy arrived. He had left work early to help prepare for you. Shortly after, Gama arrived to help. We quickly got down all of Big sister Layla’s clothes, got the car seat installed, packed a diaper bag & set up a mini crib in our room. I went and picked up Layla & Hunter early from school and told them the news. The looks on their faces were priceless. So much JOY in such tiny faces. Layla was jumping up and down saying, “FINALLY! my dream came true!” My heart felt so FULL! We hurried home where Gama met us. She cared for the kids while Daddy & I went to meet you.

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Walking into the hospital we had so many different emotions. What would you look like? how would this go? Can we parent a baby we have Never met? Could we possibly love a baby we had never met? And…. then I saw you for the first time. Laying there in your bassinet in the hospital room. The nurse began giving instructions and all I could see was your beautiful face. You were so tiny and precious. At first I just admired you and then I realized I AM your new MOTHER and you were my baby. At least for this moment. I picked you up, while you were still attached to all of the hospital cords. I held you in my arms and fell in love in an instant. No worry, concern just love. Instant love. I felt so blessed to have this privilege with you. Daddy held you next (mostly because he’s such a gentleman and always puts me first) We were both sweet on you. After getting your feedings down, instructions for home and all that you required we got to take you home. I had the pleasure of being wheeled out, in a wheel chair (a PINK one!) with you in my arms! I laughed when the nurses told me they were going to wheel me out, but they said it was hospital policy so I guess the jokes on me. It was a funny feeling, since I did not just give birth and was perfectly fine. BUT let me tell you… It was so special to carry you out like that. I thanked Heavenly Father as I held you in my arms. I thanked him for answering so many prayers, after so many long agonizing years of sorrow and loss. Daddy & I both felt so grateful & blessed. While we knew there was no guarantee of permanency, we still felt hopeful but didn’t assume it would happen. We just enjoyed loving on you.

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Bringing you home was the greatest feeling! As we drove up to the house we guessed what the kids reactions would be like. Layla & Hunter were beyond thrilled! They held you right away, giving you lots and lots of kisses. Layla said, “I’m your big sister baby!” and Hunter followed with the same, “I’m your big brother baby!” It was sweet and tender. Once friends and family heard the news of your arrival, they quickly stepped in to offer help, support and whatever we needed. Within the first week, we had formula given to us by your Auntie, a stroller, baby clothes for days & so much more donated by people we love! Our days were filled baby snuggles, kisses, LOTS of kisses, Bottles, bottles for days that seemed to take forever to wash, laughter, staying home and admiring this new life, sleepless nights and so much love! Loosing sleep to hold & feed you at night, was something I will never take for granted. Now it’s not something to normally be grateful for but when you want a baby for so many years you learn to be grateful for every aspect. Even changing little bums and loosing sleep. I remember complaining when Layla & Hunter were babies…. that they woke up all night! Now this path has given us a  different perspective. It has been amazing to watch the big kids love on you, it made my heart happy. It made Daddy & I feel like we were doing it right. People would often mistake you for “OURS” and it was no mistake because for that time you were “OURS”. Now there was a side many people didn’t know about, a side we struggled with. You were sent to us as a medically fragile baby. It’s not a secret but it made sense to deal with it privately. You were so special and new. I didn’t want anyone sharing their two cents about “Those babies” and yada yada. We felt the need to protect you from any unkind thing someone would say. After all, you never did get a say in all that has happened to you in your short little life. You were just the victim and we were here to fight for you. Even if that meant you would wake every hour screaming. We knew THIS IS what we were supposed to be doing. Eventually time went on & things got easier. You started to smile and coo. You had the cutest little baby smile. We were SO in love with you baby girl. At night I would feed you your bottle (Daddy & took turns!), and rock you to sleep. I loved your loud breathing on my chest. Your skin touching mine and how you would always have to hold my necklace. I knew it was your comfort level, and how you knew you were safe. Safe in Mommy’s arms. I would often sing you this song called, LAVA.

“I have a dream I hope will come true

that you’re here with me & I’m here with you. I wish 

that the Earth, Sea and the Sky up above a will 

send me someone to Lava” 

{To hear the song scroll to the end and press play}

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Layla & Hunter adored you. They would ask multiple times a day to hold you & love on you. It healed my mama heart in so many ways. Just seeing their love pour out to you… a baby they had just heard of & met. They were the best big siblings & so helpful. It made every long night and busy day, with many doctors appointments, therapy & phone calls & emails to social workers and visits with your biological mom worth it all. YOU were worth it all. The THREE of you were worth it. MY 3 Babies. Then one day all that came crashing down hard. It was like a bad nightmare. We had just been told that you would be with us for six more months, and then we would know more after that point.

{Since Foster care is unpredictable you never know where the case will go. Every 6 months the biological parents usually have to appear for a court date, and the judge makes a decision at those dates. For example judge may say, you need to do X Y & Z and if you have in 6 months you can be reunited OR If you haven’t we will grant you another 6 month term. OR the bio parents can loose their rights and the case leads into adoption.}

Instead of those six months, it was more like 6 days later after court…

I was getting you ready to go, buckling you into your car seat about to pick up Hunter from school when I got a phone call. When I answered the person on the other end, started rambling on they were your new social worker and said to me “by the way, “I’m going to come and pick the baby up tomorrow. She’s going back to her mom to live with her. We just need to get a crib.”

{We are pro reunification with the biological families. When and if we feel it is a safe move for both children and parents. This was not the case.}

I couldn’t speak. Tears immediately fell down my face. Inside I was screaming, “She is my BABY! You can’t take her!” What in the world was happening!? You were supposed to be with us long term and now they are taking you!? TOMORROW!? While my whole body was shaking I replied, “What do you mean? We were just told we had six plus months with her! How can you just take her!? YOU don’t even know her, or her needs. THIS bio Mother doesn’t even know how to care for her! ” I ended the conversation quickly since I needed to get Hunter from school & also because I was so upset I just needed to get off the phone! The first person I called was Daddy at work. I could barely speak. The words literally skipped off my tongue and I felt like I was being choked. He was so sad to hear this news. We knew we had to do something. After that nightmare of a phone call, I did everything I could to contact as many people I knew working your case. To my shock NO ONE was informed about this decision. This social worker had not followed pro-to call. After several phone calls (challenging to say the least, as I tried to hold my composure) emails and doing my own research I contacted social worker supervisors, the attorney, the case manager, the pediatrician, the therapist, and finally the public heath nurse. Now this might seem extreme, but my mama heart knew this wasn’t how it was meant to be. I knew you required special treatment, and I could NEVER just hand you over to someone who wasn’t trained or educated about it. I was doing my job to advocate for you! We loved you and wanted the absolute best for you. From this moment on, everything was a blur. We continued to care for you, while digesting this terrible news at hand. My body felt like I had been beaten to the ground and stomped all over. AND somehow I had to find the strength to fight for you, to fight for your life and what your body needed, to be a strong mama, to not loose all emotion in front of the kids… after all they did NOT know what was going on. They didn’t need to know everything. I couldn’t climb back into a deep dark hole again. My family needed me, Baby girl needed me to fight & I couldn’t put myself in that dark place again. My fight went from removing you from our home in less then 24 hours, to 7 days to now 2 weeks. I fought because I knew it was wrong. This was not about being selfish and wanting you to ourselves… we did want you. Trust me baby girl, we would have done anything to keep you in our arms forever. Since, foster care is primarily about reunification with biological families we knew this was not our battle. At this point, our battle was about what’s right and what’s wrong for YOU! To our disbelief we were told that the county never looked into your file! They were so focused on how well your bio Mother was doing. I was stunned, and mad and angry with them! I voiced all of this. It might be the Ginger in me. All they could see was that you needed to be with your birth Mother. End of story! On our end we saw a baby that had a lot of needs, a baby that we helped through a vicious experience, and helped her to be a healthy baby. However, this wasn’t over for you. You still required a lot of care. This was so so scary for  us, to think of you leaving and not getting that care. I fought for you day and night. I couldn’t sleep much or eat. All of the sudden those daily to do lists didn’t matter so much. I spent my days holding you as MUCH as possible. When you were sleeping sometimes I would just hold you and pray with you. Kiss you and love you. When the big kids came home from school, we would just lay on the floor with you. Holding you & giving you more kisses of course! We slowly started to tell the kids that we never know when you might leave, so love on her as much as you want. During this time we had lots of meetings, doctor appointments, phone calls, emails back and forth and more. This consumed me so much. At night I would stay up late replying to all of these emails. This was a messy case. I caused that. I made a mess because YOU weren’t being thought of FIRST! and after all this is about the CHILDREN! I didn’t care what it took to make this right. Daddy & I started to accept the fact that you would be leaving soon. It was hard to swallow but we had to. This didn’t change our love for you. That would never change. Once we got a good support team from the county, and trust me they weren’t all on our side we felt we could move forward. In those two weeks we had left, you spent more time with you bio mother then with us your foster family. Our hearts ached and the kids especially. I felt guilt initially for putting them through that. I hated to see any of my kids in pain. Eventually two weeks was up, and it was the night before you were leaving. As much as we tried preparing Layla & Hunter for this day it was difficult beyond measure. I felt the same pain I did a few years back, when we left the hospital without our baby. Only this time it was worse. We knew you, we held you, we knew your smell, how you liked to me fed & swaddled. You were our baby. We cried over you & Loved you as much as possible. Daddy gave you a sweet Fathers blessing that night. It was beautiful and just what you needed. It’s what we needed to hear too. The kids cried and when I looked into their eyes I knew their pain. Layla who had made her New Years resolution as, wanting a baby sister (big request I know!) and it coming true and Hunter really developing into a big brother for the first time! I saw my big kids develop into different little people. Sweet baby K, you are a miracle baby!

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It’s hard to put into words, what those last hours felt like. That morning the kids got to hold you for one last time. Layla fed you a bottle. Then I dropped them off to school. They were upset of course, but keeping them home would have been worse. Upon returning back home, I fed you your last bottle with you in my arms. I held you while you napped. I didn’t even cry because I had literally cried all the tears I had. I felt pain but I felt comforted by God. God was testing our strength and will power to advocate for you baby. If all the pain we have felt is for you to feel no pain, then we would do it all over again.  I remember having to pack your things. Gosh, that was rough. We picked you up with literally nothing, and you were leaving with so much more then that. Your favorite binkies, your little pink crocheted baby blanket handmade by an elderly woman at church, your clothes with our smells on them, little lovies and more. I drove you to meet your Mother. It was sad to me but I prayed for your Mother. I prayed that she would care for you at the level you needed. I wanted her to succeed because I knew in turn you would thrive. Baby girl, you deserve the world and beyond. We only were able to give you nearly three months, but I know those first three months of your life were well spent. You were loved & you offered so much love to our family. Seeing you thrive in our care was so rewarding. I won’t ever forget you & I will always remember to pray for you. Hunter always remembers you in his prayers & often gets mad at Layla if she forgets! You are so special to us. We love you sweet baby.

Love, Mommy

xo

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{Little side note: While we are frustrated with how our situation unfolded, don’t let this form a bad opinion of foster care for you. Every case is completely different and it is all unpredictable. We still feel strongly about being a foster family and agree that it is not for everyone. We had some great supporters through the way, who really helped us overcome so many challenges. In life you will always meet people you don’t mess well with and foster care is no exception to that.}

Coping with infertility…

A friend posted this video today. It IS so worth it to share because so many are struggling in silence. I immediately felt all of this mommy’s pain. However, at the same time I felt her peace. I love how she said, “I am so grateful for a Savior who allows hurt in our life so he can heal us & put us back together better then we were before.” Those are such, such powerful words! I can testify to those words as well & I believe and know they are true. I still struggle, in fact some days I just feel plain ol’ sad because I am human right!?  I have great days too, and thank goodness for those.

Please share this blog post with anyone you may know who might be struggling. It will be the best choice you made today because in the end we all need to life one another up. Happy Sunday! 🙂

 

This is OUR Reality.

Sharing this little video on the blog today. It’s something I feel like more people need to see. Theres a trend with sharing the positive pregnancy test. I too, have done so. There isn’t a problem with doing so, I just feel inspired to share the opposite side of it. The truth. The reality. All of it raw.

AND… just a side note… I realized after watching this video that I need to smile more! Haha! Seriously though, I didn’t smile even once. Maybe its because I’m talking about such a tender part of my heart. I’m also no professional video chatter. IS that what you call this!?

SO… we meet again!

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Today is Wednesday and normally its just a regular ol’ hump day of the week except… today was different. Today we met with our Fertility Doctor again. Gosh, this time I was so nervous. I just kept thinking today is the day we get REAL CONCRETE answers. I had kind of gone into my appoitment already upset about a complete separate thing, but none the less it didn’t help calm my nerves ANY. Today, we would get all of our test results. That means my HSG procedure I had done several weeks ago, both J & I’s full work up of blood tests, urine and everything! Right off the bat Dr. B lays it all out. I love that about him.He just got right to the point and gave us all of our answers. My HSG report came back normal (that was the procedure they did where put dye near my fallopian tubes, to see if I had any issues when inflammation or ruptured tubes.), Both of our Chromosomes came back completely normal, My thyroid normal too. However, I did not get off that easy. There was one big setback. Gosh, I don’t even know if I’m ready to say it.  BUT, I will because I now believe in documenting it ALL. the good, the bad. I just hope this helps someone else out there, who has struggled like us. Okay, so my AMH (Anti-Mullerian Hormone) came back less then average, meaning, I have practically NO eggs! Its called low ovarian reserve. For my age (29) I should still be at the top of the chart (see below) in GREEN. Except that I’m not, I’m in the red region. Dr. B said my egg count was that of a 42 year old woman 😦 ah, stabs to my heart. My marker came out to a 0.2! Did you catch that!? It started with ZERO! IT should be at 90.0 at least! More stabs. My Dr. also said that when looking at my ovaries, they prove to look better then my marker of 0.2.

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Upon discovering my low ovarian reserve, my Dr. told me that it would most likely cause an early menoupause when I am about 42. Stab, stab, stab! He said not to worry of course since its nearly a decade away HOWEVER… I am devastated to say the least! Devastated to hear my lack of producing eggs & to know that my body will age quicker then normal. The low egg count was something he did mention at my last appointment, but it was officially confirmed by blood test results today. Let me tell you, it hit me hard. No eggs= no babies. At least not the ol’ fashion way. He mentions, having a low egg count is “not genetically normal“. When you have a low egg count your body is more likely to produce “bad eggs” he called them since you have so few. That’s when you have babies with developmental problems. Our bodies naturally recognize “the bad eggs” and will most likely miscarry. He believes all 7 of my miscarriages were “bad eggs”.

SO we were given a list of options to start with. First, when I had the HSG procedure they flushed out my tubes which acts as a restart button. SO we have our fingers & toes crossed that will be in our favor. Doc wants me to take some natural supplements daily as well. Then, I will be starting some fertility medication. I believe it is called Clomid? Maybe thats the short of it. The way it works is it triggers your mind to ovulate. In a addition to that, I will have to give myself just ONE shot when I begin this treatment. Hearing I just had to take one was a huge relief! I remember being pregnant before I lost our last babe & giving myself a nightly shot. Ouch! I will also start taking the progesterone suppositories again. (you insert them vaginally at bedtime and it thickens your uterine wall to *hopefully* prevent miscarriage.) If all else fails we have the option to begin IVF. Honestly, it sounds daunting. I hope thats not the route we have to go. I know many have been successful and blessed by IVF including some of my own family members though. Just the cost and the road that comes with it scares me.

On another note, I asked Dr. B what the procedure would entail as far as removing the scar tissue we found in my uterus last time. He say he wanted to take a look again, through a vaginal ultrasound and low and behold it was gone! Somehow I was disappointed. Disappointed that it wasn’t going to be this easy fix, where there I was with scar tissue I get it removed and bam I become happily prego! Yeah, no that’s not me. Nothing is easy.

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{Our reality being faced with continuous negative tests}

I forget if I mentioned this in my last blog post, but another interesting thing I learned from Dr. B is our situation isn’t actually called a “fertility issue” per say. He refers to it as a recurrent pregnancy loss. That’s filed under a whole other section, which also means insurance helps out a whole lot! AH, thank the heavens. I know God knows we need that!

Towards the end of the appointment Dr. B looked us both in the eyes and said, “You have the perfect life, you really do. and I don’t mean that in an insensitive way or to bypass what you have endured.” I felt stunned at first but I immeditetlay agreed inside my head. We really do have the perfect life. I am married to an amazing man, he has a great career, together we made two beautiful & healthy children & we own our own home living in a beautiful county right next to the beach! It all sounds perfect & everything I ever prayed for & more. Not for one second have I ever forgotten about those blessings. I thank God every day for giving us his children to raise as our own. When I look at them, I see two little miracles. I know God isn’t done with us though, & we are meant for a bigger purpose. I have always known that our family isn’t complete. SO while I do acknowledge our blessings, I also ache for the loss we have experienced and dream about one day having another little Billings in the belly.

When we left that appointment I felt so much sadness. I just sat there on the car ride home. Tears ran down my face slowly. I didn’t want to have early menopause & I surely didn’t want to just try my odds at getting pregnant “when I ovulate” we have already been down that road. Now, I not only can’t get prego but I don’t stay prego either. I am hoping this will all be very different with the new medications set in place. I just can’t help feeling the pain I do inside. I literally held back tears when I was basically told I only have a few eggs. It’s like someone telling you that you aren’t normal. Either way we are in it for the long haul. I can’t go to bed at night knowing that I didn’t fight for this. and sometimes a fight is just to discover that you have lost. If thats the answer, then I am willing to digest it and figure out what our purpose here is. That doesn’t mean I won’t be sad.

Today got real.

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Today was like straight out of a movie. We did this “thing” where we sat across from a specialized fertility Doctor in his office. Yeah, me the stubborn one. The one who didn’t want to see a fertility Doctor more then a year ago. Well, we did it and it wasn’t so bad. Honestly, I never ever saw this for my future… sitting there across an intelligent Dr. while he spoke in anther language basically. What I did hear was, “I would like to get a third party opinion as this is a special case and I have never dealt with these circumstances with someone at your young age and having that many miscarriages…” Are you lost yet? If you didn’t read our story on our 7 Angel Babieyou might be a little confused. Let me back track a bit… its been 3 years since we started our journey on adding to our family. In those first 2 years, we lost 7 babies back to back. The last one ended in a D&C since then we haven’t been able to become pregnant. The last year & a half we have been committed to becoming foster parents. It’s been a long time goal prior to marriage and we are finally there! Currently waiting on a placement! To say its been a difficult road is a total understatement. It’s been the most vicious cycle of worry, sadness and regaining faith experience I (WE) have ever had. While there is a lot of happiness in our lives there is also a lot of uncertainty. You might be wondering why I am sharing all of these details & I will tell you the honest truth. For so long I kept every tramatic event a complete secret from friends, family members and moms at my kids school. Why? To protect myself. When in reality I only hurt myself more and made my corner very dark and lonely. Suffering in silence is the worst kind of suffering. When I finally decided to share my story with the world, I got an overwhelming amount of love, feedback, and other women who shared their stories in return. SO many women suffer in silence after a miscarriage. A friend of mine mentions that miscarriage is like tabo. No one wants to discuss it and surly not willing to share with the world. WHY? WHY do we do this to ourselves? Best advice I can give to anyone suffering from a miscarriage or any loss for that matter… reach out to the ones who love & support you. Let them in. Allow others to help & serve you. It doesn’t make you weak. It shows that you are STRONG enough to make that call or send that email because YOU MATTER! 

Okay, Back to my story about the Doctors appointment… Okay so here we are (J & I) sitting there wondering what we got ourselves into and I suddenly hear the Doc say, “Whit, I am optimistic that we can fix these problems relatively easy.” (Are you too focused on the fact that he called me Whit!? HA, me too!) Did I just hear him correctly?? Relatively easy?? Wait… I’m not sure about this. Nothing ever comes easy to me. Okay, Maybe I lied about that… Freckles. Freckles come easy to me 🙂 ha ha! Okay but seriously, it’s true. Anyway, I had to have an ultrasound where he discovered a scare tissue pocket with fluid. It’s abnormal and will need to be removed. This could be causing my infertility issue! Also, for my (YOUNG) age as he said I had a low count of eggs… womp womp! Basically, my Ovarian reserve is less then average. My uterine lining was also much thiner then he expected for my age (29). So I had a full work up of blood work (right then and there in the office!). Here we go again, another 18 vials for the books. This time Justin had to do blood work with me. This should be interesting I thought.

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So for now the Doctor will be running several different tests to see where the problem may be lying. I had an AMAH Level blood test and Justin had a Chromosome blood test done. I will also be having an HSG test. Heres a description from google that I found:

The HSG (hysterosalpingogram) test is a radiology procedure usually done in the radiology department of a hospital or outpatient radiology facility. 

During the test, a dye (contrast material) is put through a thin tube. That tube is put through the vagina and into the uterus. Because the uterus and the fallopian tubes are hooked together, the dye will flow into the fallopian tubes. Pictures are taken using a steady beam of X-ray (fluoroscopy) as the dye passes through the uterus and fallopian tubes. The pictures can show problems such as an injury or abnormal structure of the uterus or fallopian tubes. They can also show a blockage that would prevent an egg moving through a fallopian tube to the uterus. A blockage also could prevent spermfrom moving into a fallopian tube and joining (fertilizing) an egg. The test also may find problems on the inside of the uterus that prevent a fertilized egg from attaching (implanting) to the uterine wall.

Another problem that could be occurring is my fallopian tube could be blown up causing the infertility. The other issue he thinks I may have is called, “Uterine Synechiae” Here’s what it means:

Synechiae is a term which means “adhesions” or a fibrous scars. Intrauterine adhesions resulting from the uterine trauma, such as curretage, are called Asherman syndrome. They may also result from other uterine interventions such as caesarian section and myomectomy. They rarely result from uterine infections such as chlamydia, tuberculosis, and schistosomiasis and the presence of the foreign body. However, it is not unusual to meet patients with synechiae with lack of any previous relevant history.
This condition usually leads to amenorrhea, hypomenorrhea, habitual abortion and secondary infertility.

Uterine synechiae in pregnancy have also been referred to as “amniotic sheets” or “amniotic folds”. They are most commonly noted as an incidental finding during the ultrasound examination in pregnancy.
In general, synechiae do not interfere with the development or fetal growth, and are rarely associated with any complications.

Anyway, this was way more long winded that I intended BUT this describes OUR journey perfectly. I share this with you not to have my personal medical history blasted over the internet, but rather as an insight for others struggling with similar situations. There is hope for you. For us we TRULY just need closure for all that has occurred. We need to know what the problem is, and if it’s able to be resolved. I can’t leave this earth never knowing WHY my body decided to let go of these precious babies. If all that I get out of this is an answer, then it will have been worth all that & more. Hugs to you if you have felt any of this pain personally of through a family member or friend. This life isn’t easy but there is a greater plan for us.