My Grown-Up Christmas List

It used to be that I REFUSED to put up my tree or ANY kind of Christmas decoration until the day after Thanksgiving.  Actually, it was ON Thanksgiving.

After I’d eaten (and then napped), on went the Christmas music, out came the decorations, and down went the Frothy Eggnog.  (Yes, I said Frothy.  It’s eggnog, rum and ice all mixed in a blender.)

I’d start with the Christmas village, and then moved forward with the rest of the decorations.  I’ve ALWAYS had an obsession with Christmas villages.  I LOVE them!

I love to sit and look down at them and imagine all the goings-on that are happening in the tiny little town.

Children giggling in bed until all hours.  Peeking down the stairs when they hear the floors creak.  Waking up before the sun to beg mom and dad to let them check out their stockings and open presents.

About 10 years ago or so, I found little ceramic houses.  I bought one thinking it would be good to help pass the time and little did I know that 10 years later I would still be collecting them and painting them one-by-one.

One painstaking, detail-oriented, OCD-in-full-effect house at a time.  Here’s a sneak-peek at a few of them!

They all start out like this!

They all start out like this!

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And then I add the details!

And then I add the details!

And then I add glitter for snooooow!

And then I add glitter for snooooow!

I think of those little houses like us.  Blank as can be, and then God fills in all the tiny little details – right down to the number of hairs on our head.

I found that when I got out on my own, my traditions changed.

My husband and I started our own traditions 7 years ago – it all started with a tree.  And it hasn’t changed since.  (It almost ended with a tree too, but that’s a WHOLE other story!)

The holidays have been kind of rough the last couple years.  I’ve always looked forward to the holidays with children.  While it’s not at all impossible for adults to enjoy Christmas without kids (side note: people who think it is are on my list of people I don’t want to hear comments from.  ever.)  I had just always dreamed about wrapping presents and filling stockings for our kids.  I had even hoped I would be able to do a creative, fun pregnancy announcement for the holidays!  But the last couple years, I haven’t much wanted to participate.

This year…  this year is different.  There’s a new sense of cautious optimism.  A tentative joy.  A watchful hope.

J and I have been ensconced in the process of adoption…  mountains of paperwork and doctor’s appointments and reference letters and background checks.  It’s seriously a LOT of work!

Part of all the paperwork are a LARGE list of questions that J and I have to answer separately.  Questions about the other.  Questions about ourselves.

Me being COMPLETELY OCD couldn’t just leave the answers in our own handwriting – noooooooo.  I had to type them up and then highlight my name in pink and his in blue for our respective answers.  (DON’T JUDGE.)

I answered my questions on my own and had J do the same.  As I was reading through his answers and typing them out – through tears – I realized something.

INFERTILITY SUCKS.  But if it weren’t for this trial, and for the amazing blessing we are preparing to receive, we would probably have never asked each other a lot of the questions.

  • Describe your personality
  • Describe your spouse’s personality
  • What’s your biggest strength/weakness?
  • What’s your spouse’s biggest strength/weakness?
  • What makes your marriage strong?
  • Describe your happiest/worst childhood memory

How many of you can tell me what your spouse’s favorite childhood memory is?

It sure does wake something up inside of you when you hear your biggest strength and weakness in someone else’s voice.  And it certainly does something to your self-esteem when you see yourself through someone else’s eyes.

I try SO HARD to be grateful for every situation we face.  Some days I fail.  Other days I fail MISERABLY.  Other days, I can almost feel the silver lining.  But I am SO GRATEFUL that I was able to learn those things!!

This year, as I was decorating our tree, the song “My Grown-Up Christmas List” sang by Michael Bublé came on.  And as he sang about wishing for no more lives torn apart, no war, time healing all hearts, everyone having a friend and love never ending, I wanted to write my own lyrics to the song, but my rhyming skills are SERIOUSLY lacking.

As I’ve grown older, my list has gotten smaller.  I’d like to say that the things I want can’t be bought, but as we all in the infertility world know, unfortunately they really CAN put a price on a child.

But they can’t put a price on happiness.

And after I finish my Grown-Up Christmas List, I won’t be sitting on any laps to tell what it is…  No, I’ll be reading it on my knees. 

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The Priceless Cost

Have you ever thought about the word ‘just’?  I think people use it too flippantly these days.  It’s used as an answer to almost every solution.  Here is a list of my favorite ‘just’ solutions for infertility:

  • ‘Just relax’ (been there)
  • ‘Just let go/don’t stress/don’t think about it’ (done that)
  • ‘Just drink a bottle of wine’ (drank LOTS of that)
  • ‘Just try artificial insemination/IVF’ (yup, done some of that, too)
  • ‘Just adopt’

Here’s my little nugget of wisdom.  Get a pen and a piece of paper and take notes…  Go ahead, I’ll wait.   Ready?

There is no ‘just’ about anything that has to do with any painful situation.

Any situation where a decision needs to be made that could significantly alter the outcome of an original perception requires intense discussion, pondering and most importantly, prayer.

As most of the people in our lives know (and heck, any stranger who will listen), J and I are in the process of adoption.  After our unsuccessful battle with infertility, we did some soul-searching and praying and decided that it wasn’t as important for us to be pregnant as it was for us to be parents.

November is National Adoption Awareness Month.  In 1976 in Massachusetts, Governor Mike Dukakis proclaimed National Adoption Week.  President Gerald Ford made the first National Adoption Week proclamation and in 1990, the week was extended to a month due to the excitement and participation by so many people and states.  There’s even one day of the month that is proclaimed as National Adoption Day and many adoptions are finalized all at the same time!  I just think that’s neat!

I have been criticized VERY harshly in the last couple days about the way I see adoption (as an amazing blessing), even to the point where I was told that I don’t deserve to have children and that me not being able to get pregnant must have been God’s way of telling us that we shouldn’t be parents and that there is no way that I could ever love an adopted child unconditionally because we HAVE to adopt and not WANT to adopt due to infertility.

The “conversation” – a term I use VERY loosely as it was more just overly assertive, opinionated people trying to get everyone else to believe exactly the way that they do rather than hear what anyone else has to say – escalated very quickly and left me feeling ashamed, embarrassed, scared, naïve and unprepared, to say the very least.

But as I remove myself from the “support group” – HA – that I got the criticism from, I realize that my opinion is just that.  MINE.

Every parent is frightened before they have their first child.  Ever parent wonders if they’ve screwed up monumentally along the way.  But every parent loves their child in an unconditional way that can’t be judged, deemed unworthy, viewed incorrectly or questioned by anyone else.

I say again:  Biology is the LEAST of what makes someone a parent!

I am beyond excited to meet the child that we will give a forever home to and love with every single nook and cranny of our hearts.  My heart pines and my arms ache for our child to come home.

To be woken repeatedly through the night to take care of someone who needs me.  To hear the pitter-patter of little feet.  To see daddy holding on to the bicycle seat while running alongside.  To wipe away tears after a broken heart.  To celebrate Mother’s and Father’s Day from the inside.

And to the parents who love their child enough to make the painful, selfless decision to entrust them to us to love them enough for all of us, my heart will be eternally grateful.

We all have learning to do, growth to be made, challenges to be met, disappointments to face, joy to share…  And in this month of awareness, I know that I am learning and growing.  I’m facing challenges and disappointment.  But the joy that I will be able to share will be so worth it.

Home Study:  $1,500
Background Checks:  $250
Legal Fees:  Cost undetermined
Having a child to call our own:  Priceless

FroYo, Pancakes & Puzzles! Oh My!

Wow.

It’s been almost a month since I’ve posted anything.  Time sure does fly!

It’s been a combination of crazy busyness from the adoption process and all that’s going on with that and a lot of other things that are going on in our lives right now!

We are excited to be moving along pretty quickly in the process!  There is really SO MUCH to do!  But I wouldn’t change any of it, since it puts us one step closer to being parents!!!

We’ve done most of the required background checks.  Thank goodness they didn’t find that one thing from that one time!  (Totally just kidding.  You should know that by now.)  FBI fingerprinting, state background checks, home study.  Still LOTS more to do!!

Now, we are into the fun part…  FUNDRAISING!!

We had a fundraiser today at Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt here in our town and the response that we got from it was absolutely humbling.  Orange Leaf has a program in place that allows people who are raising money for causes to choose a certain day, create a flyer and then when friends and family and whoever else comes in and shows the flyer, 25% of all the sales will go to that cause!!  Which is seriously generous considering most of the other places that I’d contacted were only allowing 10%!

People at work rallied together to make sure that every one knew about it and had access to a flyer.  Friends and family shared it repeatedly on their Facebook pages.  People made multiple trips to get FroYo!

Seriously.  Humbled.  A SINCERE THANK YOU to those of you that went today!  Your support means the WORLD!

We have a few more fundraisers in the planning stages at this time (like Yard Sales, Pancake Breakfasts, etc), buuuuuuuut – here’s the next one!

I’ve seen all kinds of awesome ideas on the internet about ways to raise money for adoption, but one really caught my eye!

I’ve always felt like a piece of our family is missing…  SO!  In an attempt to raise money to FIND our missing piece, I have created a puzzle, had it printed and shipped and it’s just WAITING to be put together!!

The puzzle is 500 pieces and we are going to sell each piece for $5 – for you math whizzes like me, that’s $2,500.  When you purchase a piece, we will write your name on the back of the piece and then when all the pieces have been purchased, we will glue it together, frame it and hang it in the nursery!!  You can purchase just one piece, more than one piece or even just throw a little extra in for good measure!

You can either go to our YouCaring account and donate, or you can email me at munchkinmcnabb@gmail.com and I will give you an address to mail your payment to! (Just make sure if you do it through YouCaring, to mention ‘puzzle’ in the comments!)

Just like we don’t know yet what our child is going to look like, we are going to leave it a mystery as to what the finished puzzle will look like!!

Puzzle 1

Has your curiosity been peaked yet?  Are you excited to see what the end result is?!

SO ARE WE!!!!!!

Resolve to Know More…

This week, in honor of National Infertility Awareness Week, I will be blogging about the facts of the disease of infertility.  That’s right, disease.  In fact, an article I read recently stated that it’s the 3rd most serious health condition after heart disease and cancer.  Infertility affects 1 in 8 couples of reproductive age.

We are 1 in 8.

We are 1 in 8.

 

According to RESOLVE,  infertility is a disease of the reproductive system.  Infertility is often diagnosed after a couple has had one year of unprotected, well-timed intercourse, or if the woman has suffered from multiple miscarriages and the woman is under 35 years of age.  If the woman is over 35 years old, it is diagnosed after 6 months of unprotected, well-timed intercourse.  One-third (30%) of infertility can be attributed to male factors, and about one-third (30%) can be attributed to female factors.  In about 20% of cases infertility is unexplained, and the remaining 10% of infertility is caused by a combination of problems in both partners.

My husband and I are in that small 10%.

There are many different risk factors that can contribute to infertility.

  • Weight
  • Age
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)
  • Tubal Disease
  • Endometriosis
  • DES Exposure
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol

I struggle with PCOS and him with MFI (male factor infertility).  We’ve been trying to get pregnant since we got married in November of 2011.  We had a miscarriage in August of 2012 and in March of 2013 my OB prescribed Clomid, which hyperstimulated my ovaries (OHSS).  I ended up needing emergency surgery to drain the cysts that had grown.  In June, July and August of 2013 we went through medicated IUI cycles (one pretty heavily medicated), which were all unsuccessful. We are currently saving money for IVF through an online fundraiser – www.youcaring.com/munchkin-mcnabb – which our RE feels is likely the only way we will get pregnant.

There are often no signs or symptoms that will indicate a problem with fertility.  But getting to know your body and understanding patterns it’s set will make that process easier.  If you feel there is a problem, seek help right away.

This week I’ll discuss family building options and the emotions that come with this journey!  I am so grateful for the awareness that is being raised and the opportunity that I have to take part in it!!

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http://www.resolve.org/infertility101  (Basic understanding of the disease of infertility.)

http://www.resolve.org/national-infertility-awareness-week/about.html (About NIAW)

Good Friday. Great Sunday.

Today is Good Friday.

The day that made Easter Sunday possible.

Without the pain and heartbreak, we wouldn’t have hope and expectation and excitement.

Christ knew what He was headed towards.  He knew that He would suffer unbearable pain and a brutal death.  He even pled for it not to happen.

But He knew.  He knew it was His Father’s Will.  He knew our eternal lives depended on it.  So He bore it.

He took the whips.  He took the crowns.  He took the nails.  He thirst.  He breathed his last painful breath, and then turned his Spirit over and died.

three crosses

His mother wept.  The soldiers mocked.  The criminals argued.  The earth shook.

And then they wrapped Him in clothes and placed Him in a guarded tomb.

For days, His followers and family mourned and grieved.  And then…

The tomb was empty.  He’d risen just like He said He would.

empty tomb

What a beautiful display of love.  That He thought of me as He hung on that cross and bore a pain that is unimaginable.

Unspeakable love.  Unthinkable mercy.  Unfathomable grace.

GRACEGod’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.

We can’t earn it, it’s already ours.  Paid for by the sacrifice of a Son for the world.  Paid for by the blood of Someone that loved us so much that He suffered torture and death.

And then He rose again on that beautiful Sunday.

It’s the hope of Sunday that gives us strength to carry on.  To fight battles that we feel we are losing.  To trust our Father who loves us to bless us as He sees fit.  To give us a peace that passes understanding and a joy that comes in the morning.

It was Good Friday that gave us a Great Sunday.

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A Million Doors

A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine wrote a blog that was simply amazing.  I know I’ve said it so many times, but I’m constantly surprised at how identifiable and interchangeable every single emotion that women battling infertility feel are.  I read/hear/watch stories and I think “That’s ME!”

Another thing that we all have in common is that person (or those people) that says things with the best of intentions, but end up hurting us anyway.

hurting woman

“That wasn’t my intention”.  “I say it with the best of intentions”.  We’ve ALL heard it before – and not just those dealing with infertility.  But that’s the thing about intentions – even when you have the most sincere heart, when there’s an open wound it’s going to hurt.  It may not make the statement any less true, but it certainly doesn’t make it any less painful.

There’s a certain stigma when it comes to infertility that is hard to get past.  “Why don’t you just adopt?”  “If you just relax, you’ll get pregnant.”  “It’ll happen when you’re not thinking about it.”  Usually followed by – “My best friend’s aunt’s cousin’s neighbor’s daughter dealt with infertility and as soon as she gave up, she got pregnant!!”

While I’m so happy for the couples that beat infertility, I can GUARANTEE you that no amount of relaxing is what caused them to get pregnant.

A woman can be as relaxed as can be, but every time her and her husband share an intimate moment, it’s followed by the thought “Was that it?!”

And often, those that struggle with infertility for many years have a LOT of medical issues to overcome, and just like relaxing won’t make cancer go away, it won’t treat infertility.  But I’ll blog more about that next week for National Infertility Awareness Week!!  (I know, two blogs in as many weeks!!)

People think that, when they hear stories of infertility that they have to say something. It’s human nature to want to fix something when it doesn’t work the way it should and I certainly don’t fault anyone for it.

hammer-and-nails

But sometimes…  I just want to vent or rant or cry or scream – and I just want someone to listen.  To remind me that it’s okay to not be okay.  That it’s okay to be frustrated.  That it’s okay to cry when I read a story about a woman who killed all of her babies.  That it’s ok to feel a twinge of jealousy when I see that telling bump.  That it’s ok to feel like life just isn’t fair sometimes.  But to know that just because I’m feeling that way, doesn’t mean I’m going to live there.

This journey can feel so lonely.  So, what can you do – as a friend, sister, mother, aunt – for someone who you know that is dealing with something that you just aren’t sure how to handle?

BE THERE.

A text, card, Facebook message that simply says “I’m thinking of you and praying for you.”  If you want to be particularly brilliant, try saying  What can I do?  How can I help?  Do you want to talk?  (And that doesn’t just apply to infertility!)

There are some days that there is nothing to be done.  And other days you may get the answer “I don’t want to talk about it.”  Please don’t take it personally.  It’s not that we don’t want to talk to YOU, it may just be that we are balancing precariously on that ledge and talking about anything may send us spiraling into the dark hole that we just clawed our way out of.  When we are ready, we will remember that you asked and we WILL come find you!

It has meant so much to me when someone I haven’t heard from in a very long time – or even someone I talk to daily – reaches out to just say “I see you struggling, and I’m praying for you.”  Nothing grandiose there, but so very meaningful.

A while ago, I found myself saying  “I’ll pray for you”  when I saw a status update or got a text from a friend requesting it.  But then after some time passed, I’d see their name again and think  “Crap.  You blew it on that one, D.”  After reading a devotion from Proverbs 31 Ministries, I was convicted about saying those words and not following through.  So I promised myself – if I was going to say those words, I was going to stop right then and there and say a prayer for that person, so that I wouldn’t miss the opportunity to bless them!

Every day we are given the opportunity to brighten someone’s day.  A smile.  A note.  A kind gesture.  Jason Gray says in his song, With Every Act Of Love, “God put a million, millions doors in the world for His love to walk through.  One of those doors is you.  With every act of love, we bring the Kingdom come.”

Will you commit with me to speak no more empty phrases?  To say what you mean, and mean what you say?  Will you open one of those million, million doors and let His love walk through?

doors

 

Dear Munchkin

Wow!  You would be 1 year old next month!!

1st candle

 

There’s so many first’s that we’ve missed – First smile.  First tooth.  First word.  First roll over.  First time sitting up.  First Christmas.

I still wonder about you every day.  Were you a girl?  A boy?  (There’s a couple of us – including me – that just have a gut feeling that you were a boy!)  Would you have had a lot of hair?  Would you have your daddy’s calm personality or mommy’s rambunctious temperament?  What color would your eyes have been?  Would you have had my nose?  Daddy’s ears?  Would you have been tall?  What would you have wanted to be when you grew up?

baby ideas

I may not have held you long enough when I lost you to really know much about you, but I do know this:  Your daddy and I love you very much.

I wish that we could have met you.  That we could have held you in our arms just once.  But I know that if I’d held you only once, it would have never been long enough.  We will hold you forever in our hearts though!

I have a friend that is going through just what I went through when we lost you.  It brings back so many emotions and memories.  Even ones that I’d pushed way down.  It’s so hard to listen and not want to – or be able to – fix it.  It makes my heart ache.  Mostly because I know that her and her husband will ask all the same questions we ask.  Will you find their child and hug him or her for them?  And squeeze extra tight so that they are also hugging you for us.

I want her to know that – while the hurt never goes away, it does subside.  That while it still aches when I think of you, I can talk about you more without that throat-closing, eye-burning feeling being as bad.  That while my arms ache to hold you, my heart fills with hope for the future instead of sadness for the past.

missing someone

 

It still seems so surreal sometimes…  that I am a mom.

Don’t worry – your dad and I are working very hard to have a brother or sister for you!  While it’s tougher than we thought it would be, we are learning so much!  We are learning how to be strong.  We are learning how to trust.  We are learning how to lean on each other.  We are learning that while we dream about the life we want, that God is preparing us for something bigger than our biggest dreams!

Thank you for giving us hope.  Thank you for letting us love you.  Thank you for being our angel.

All Our Love,

Mommy and Daddy