#HonorAllMoms

Hands

Mom. A word that evokes…

So many labels:

Biological. Adoptive. Foster. Expectant. Bereaved. “Real.” Birth. Legal. Spiritual. Single. Working. Stay-at-home. Soccer. Helicopter. Teen. Grand. Great-grand. God. In-law. In-love.

So many descriptions:

Sleep-deprived. Stressed. Worn out. Exasperated. Caring. Strong. Selfless. Gracious.

So many emotions:

Grief. Bitterness. Worry. Disappointment. Joy. Pride. Gratitude. Love.

So many seasons:

New. Veteran. Challenging. Fulfilling. Full house. Empty nest. Waiting; waiting; waiting: For the positive test. For “the call.” For the paperwork to go through. For them to come home. For them to leave home. For you to go Home and see them once again.

Whichever your type, whatever you’re called, however you’re feeling, wherever your place…

You are important. You are worthy. You are loved.

Your Heavenly Father is carrying you, His precious child, as you carry yours in your arms, in your heart, in your clinging to Him.

#HonorAllMoms

My Pinterest party is better than yours

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I had a sobering revelation the other day. While texting a friend about planning speakers and activities for our moms’ group, I discovered a major shortcoming in my life, and perhaps fatal flaw in my involvement helping lead this group:

I have no marketable skills to offer other moms.

Fellow mamas have come and shared their expertise in cooking, couponing, photography, fitness, and DIY home décor. Massively talented women have given us tutorials on floral design, taught us about learning styles, and straight up preached to us about Scriptural truths for nurturing relationships.

And what do I bring to this well-endowed table?

My current list of qualifications includes proficiency in cleaning toilets, experience baking “healthy” and “tasty” treats, and aptitude for completing complex tasks such as driving. Before becoming a full-time stay-at-home mom, I worked as an editor for a company that publishes magazines covering everyone’s favorite subject matter: electrical engineering. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism.

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Given the general population’s concern with grammar and spelling, I’m confident I could enthrall an audience with a presentation on verb tense consistency, dangling modifiers, and improper apostrophe placement. Or, I could talk about my infrequently updated blog. I’d call it, How to Write a Melancholy Post on a Serious, Intensely Personal Issue. That’d be a winner, for sure.

There’s another gift I could share with the group, though I hesitate to mention it due to the level of difficulty involved. Out of the generosity of my heart, I’m going to reveal the secrets behind my flair for throwing an epic kids’ birthday party. Don’t fret if you can’t follow this complicated process:

Step 1: Log into Pinterest, search a party theme, and pin your favorite ideas.

Step 2: Execute those copied ideas.

I just know you can’t even.

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Obviously, I’m joking here. Merely using a little sarcasm, self-deprecating humor, and silly modern colloquialisms to illustrate a point.

We are continually comparing ourselves to others as a frame of reference to evaluate our talents, abilities, and even self-worth. We all do it, all the time. Us moms are particularly susceptible to this temptation, though it applies to any person who falls under the category of Someone Who Is Alive.

Psychologists describe this process through social comparison theory, which suggests that people have an innate drive to analyze themselves in relation to others. Engaging in these comparisons helps us establish benchmarks by which we can make accurate assessments of ourselves.

You don’t need a PhD in Psychology to realize the danger here. Looking at it in the context of motherhood, you can readily find another mom who’s having a bad day and congratulate yourself for having your crap together better than she does. Conversely, you can see another mama who appears to be crushing this parenting gig and walk away thinking you’re a total loser. Problem is, neither of these conclusions necessarily provides an accurate representation of you or your counterparts.

Thus blooms the potential for a person’s descent into insidious introspection, relationship-damaging resentment, and joy-sucking discontentment.

A while ago I was reading about this topic in a Christian self-help book (gotta admit, not my fave genre). To deter unhealthy comparisons, the author proposed several useful strategies and one pretty ridiculous one. These included asking God to show you areas of vulnerability (great), responding with humility and gratitude (awesome), and ignoring everyone around you (huh?).

While I agree that you shouldn’t let comparisons run wild and wreck your life, it seems too simplistic to prescribe a “just say no” treatment to an instinctive cognitive process. It would require shutting down part of your brain, a feat equivalent to getting my energetic 5-year-old to sit at the dinner table for more than five minutes without squirming, fidgeting, or flopping around. Good luck with that.

I think there’s a more effective strategy available for managing the ill effects of upward social comparisons (i.e., you’re better than me).

Let’s face reality and accept that we can’t win at everything. When someone is truly better than us in some way, instead of allowing our deficiency to tear us down, let’s acknowledge their strength and build them up through respectful admiration and earnest imitation.

This radical view on comparisons dawned on me the summer we moved from Missouri to Oregon. As we waited to close on our house, my husband lived at a hotel so he could start work while our sons and I stayed with my brother- and sister-in-law and their two sons. Caring for four boys ages 2 and younger under the same roof was absolute crazy town. Just try to imagine the amount of poop we cleaned and the number of tears we all shed.

My sister-in-law, Kim, and I were a great team, tossing each other diapers when we were in a bind, initiating story time when meltdowns reached critical mass, and high-fiving each other on our way to house-wide naptime. We had ample opportunity to witness each other’s ups and downs and see how the other person handled the stress of raising littles.

The main takeaway from my period of observation? The fact that Kim had a million times infinity more patience than I did. She had a knack for handling conflicts with remarkable composure and on many occasions calmed her kids and mine by maintaining a level head. Then there was me – flipping out whenever my toddler darted off on his own and muttering obscenities every time my infant refused to eat his pureed peas. Compared to my long-suffering sister-in-law, I was a People of Walmart-level Mom Fail.

During a rare moment of logical lucidity, I considered some options for how I could respond:

Option 1: Be pissed at myself for being a terrible mother.

Option 2: Be pissed at my sister-in-law for making me look like a terrible mother.

Option 3: Be impressed by her strength, give her credit for being an awesome mother, and aspire to be like her in this regard.

Recognizing Option #3 was a game-changer for me. I discovered I could skip right over the rabbit hole of self-incrimination leading to the Land of Resentment and jump onboard the Affirmation Bandwagon, cheering others on as they use their talents and emulating their example to become a better person.

Later that summer, when encountering moments of child-induced duress, I tried to pause and ask myself, What Would Kim Do? Would she diffuse the situation by making silly faces or starting a tickle fight? Or would she get down to toddler eye level and ask simple questions to determine the best course of action from the child’s point of view? The bag of tricks didn’t work every time, but it helped me remain calm and act in a more loving manner.

I agree that it is important to “stay in your lane” and keep your eyes focused on the race God set before you (Hebrews 12:1). However, I believe there is value in observing others, not in the spirit of competition, but to appreciate the gifts God has given the whole body of Christ and to spur one another on in the areas where God made you shine (1 Corinthians 12, Hebrews 10:24).

So maybe I use a search engine like a boss and throw a better kids’ birthday party than you do. But I’m certain you have many other fine qualities that I’d love to commend and copy as freely as I do other pins.

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The post-pregnancy post / Alternate title: How becoming a mom didn’t make me happy and why I’m (now) OK with that

Well, here it is, 15 months after giving birth to my second son, my first biological child, and I’m finally getting back into this blogging thing. Who knew raising two kids 2 and under (now 3 and 1) would hinder insightful, reflective journaling about one’s innermost thoughts and feelings?

As it turns out, it’s difficult to be aware of your own thoughts and feelings – let alone write them down – when surrounded by the soft, lilting sounds of children crying, fussing, and screaming to get your attention. So, I’ll use my new favorite go-to excuse and blame my kids for not being able to blog for a while.

But truth be told, there’s a more significant reason why I haven’t updated the blog in a long time: I wasn’t ready. Last year was a big one for our family – Linus was born, we moved from Missouri to Oregon, and I went crazy (husband edit: crazier). I look back at my last post and shake my head in sympathy for poor, naïve Jennifer, who was so thankful for God’s blessing of enabling her to get pregnant and so unsuspecting of the storm that would hit pretty much immediately post-pregnancy. Almost the whole first year of Linus’s life was all shades of awful for me emotionally and spiritually, which is unfortunate given that many good things transpired during that time. Yet that’s the ugly reality that inhibited my desire to share my personal experiences with the blogosphere or most anyone outside my family.

A lesson in restraint
As the Lord began pulling me out of that dark, self-absorbed swamp, He urged me to participate in a Beth Moore study (I heart Beth!) called Sacred Secrets. Out of the many theologically meaty messages I gleaned from the study, two of her little slogans stood out to me:

  • We must be authentic with all, transparent with most, and intimate with some.
  • Before you can shout on the rooftop, you need to get in the closet with Jesus.

The first catchphrase probably doesn’t require much explanation; you can likely see the value of limiting how much private information you divulge and carefully determining with whom you share that information – in other words, don’t spill your guts to your social network. The second has to do with waiting to tell others about what God is doing in your life until you’ve actually spent some quality time alone with Him, being still and listening to what He has to teach you.

I’ll touch on the second point later; for now, I’ll address what the first has to do with blogging. You see, before I started doing this study, I thought I’d write my next blog post on my postpartum experiences: how I was overwhelmed with panic attacks before I left the hospital; how I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t nurse; how I went all OCD about my newborn’s schedule (yes, I tried to put my not-yet-even 1-month-old on a schedule); how my longtime, forever unwelcome companion anxiety teamed up with debilitating self-doubt about being a mother of two young children and dragged me way, way down into what felt like an inescapable pit of crazy hormones and uncontrollable emotions. But then I realized that in the wide world of those who for whatever reason start reading my blog, very few individuals, if any, would benefit from hearing all about my tales of woe during that period of my life.

Others who have endured postpartum issues much more challenging than mine have written on the subject and probably helped a host of women – for example, my incredible sister shared in her blog the story of how God carried her and my nephew through a difficult pregnancy, bed rest, and subsequent post-delivery struggles. While I don’t mind discussing my postpartum experiences with someone one on one, in the interest of being cautiously transparent and not overly intimate in a blogging context, I’m going to limit that disclosure to the preceding semicolon-riddled borderline run-on sentence and instead focus on the much more important lesson I believe God has been teaching me since I started blogging about my infertility issues five years ago.

Before I launch into the point of this post (yes, I’m dawdling about as much as my 3-year-old does brushing his teeth at bedtime), let me issue a word of warning to those who are currently struggling with infertility: the rest of this post is going to piss you off. You’re hurting, frustrated, desperate for some solution that will result in a child for you to hold and call your own. The last thing you want is for someone who adopted and then got pregnant to get all preachy and talk about how there’s more to life than having a baby.

Some of what I’ll share about my emotions throughout last year might make you think I’m ungrateful for the two blessed boys God has given me, and unfortunately, that has been the case at times. I believe what I have to say is important for women facing infertility, but it is a tough pill to swallow (a heckuva lot tougher than my postpartum antidepressant), and I know I would’ve been less than receptive had I read this, say, right after our IVF debacle.

So if you’re at the point where the next pregnancy announcement on Facebook is going to push you over the edge, you might want to hold off reading the rest of this post until you feel ready to handle some harsh words from someone on the other side of Unplanned Non-Parenthood (cross-ref to previous post for other fun terms). If you’re up for reading more, I pray that this will in some way encourage you to persevere as God gradually reveals His purposes for your trials.

A staggering question
Now, getting to the heart of this already rambling post, let me take you back to last fall, after we moved to Oregon. We had survived the rough couple months of packing, traveling, crashing at various family members’ houses, and finally settling into our new home. Kids were sleeping fine, Colin’s job was well underway, and life in general was stabilizing after half a year of changes and challenges. Although the more severe postpartum issues had thankfully subsided by then, I was still as temperamental as a toddler and as sullen as an Emo preteen, all to the detriment of everyone else in the household, even our poor dog. One day, my wonderful husband, who is so good at encouraging me when I’m hurting and calling me out when I’m being ridiculous, asked me point-blank, “Jennifer, are you happy? Because you don’t seem happy.”

That question floored me. My immediate reaction was whatever the female equivalent is to a kick in the balls. It shocked me because in all the craziness after giving birth, learning to care for two kids, and preparing for the move, I hadn’t stopped to think about being happy or unhappy; I was just trying to survive.

As the shock of Colin’s question wore off, I got sucked into a whirlwind of introspection that ripped open some of the nastier parts of my thought life and revealed a terrible truth: I wasn’t happy. After years of heartache and disappointment, I had gotten what I wanted – two beautiful children, the experience of adoption as well as pregnancy, even the ability to be a full-time stay-at-home mom – and I wasn’t happy. What I thought would be fulfilling and enjoyable instead felt frustrating, exhausting, and tedious. I had wanted so badly to be a mother and devote my time to caring for my children, and now that that had happened, all I wanted was time for myself to take care of my own needs.

I thought being a mom would give my life purpose, satisfy my desire to help others; I thought being a mom would give me joy. While I knew I absolutely loved my kids and was thankful for their lives, I found the day-to-day task of being their mom far from rewarding, and the moments of happiness I derived from my maternal duties seemed so few and far between that I questioned if I should’ve kept working outside the home to dedicate my time to more gratifying endeavors.

Then came the guilt. What was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I just be grateful for the many blessings God had given me and take pleasure in serving the children I once thought I’d never have? Why did I feel like I was losing more of my identity since becoming a full-time stay-at-home mom – the main role I’d wanted to play my whole life, the role I thought would define my identity? And what was wrong with my kids? Sure, they’re stunningly adorable, but they’re also fussy, disobedient, obnoxious, and impossible to control. Why couldn’t they be as happy as everyone else’s kids look like on Facebook, and thus make me happy?

A rewarding revelation
If you’re into numbers and counting like my eldest son is right now, you’ll notice that the terms “I,” “me,” and “my” were used 14 times in the preceding paragraph. Through this self-evaluation regarding my happiness or lack thereof, God convicted me about being entirely too focused on myself and conforming my overall outlook on life according to how my expectations were being met or unmet. In short, I was being selfish and discontent, and I really needed Jesus to help me rearrange my desires and relinquish my need for control.

Beyond the much-needed conviction about my self-preoccupation, the Lord had another vitally important insight for me to grasp, which is where my wannabe BFF Beth Moore comes in again. In the study, Beth drawls on and on about the opportunity and desperate need to meet with Jesus in “the secret” as described in Matthew 6:6: “But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

That the Creator of the universe invites me to communicate with Him in a private, intimate way is an incredible truth to try to process in and of itself. Then there’s the fascinating part about a reward. The word “reward” is thrown around a lot in Christian conversations, and it’s an interesting term for me because of how people use it in connection with my infertility “journey” (another term I dislike). Getting pregnant was not a reward for adopting; my biological son was not a reward for my adopted son. From my perspective, neither Calvin nor Linus is a reward; both my sons are gifts given in the same manner as salvation: not as a result of my faithfulness, but by God’s grace alone.

Since I tend to be wary of reward-related discussions, I wasn’t sure where Beth was going with her emphasis on the Father’s reward in Matthew 6:6. But her words struck me so precisely, as to the most important lesson I was missing in the past six years of lows and highs and then lows again, that I feel compelled to repeat this quote from her study guide every day as a reminder of the true source of happiness and contentment:

“The best reward of all isn’t the stuff God has for me. The greatest reward is Him. Oh that I would fully dwell in Psalm 37:4: ‘Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.’ When I delight myself in the Lord, He rewards me with the delight of my soul: Himself.”

Amazing, isn’t it? God gives some pretty incredible gifts, but none as incredible as the gift of knowing Him. And even better – the reward gained from wanting to know Him more is enjoying Him more. This blew my whole quest for inexplicably unfulfilled longings out of the water and cleared my vision to see more of His reasons for the circumstances He had me undergo the past several years.

You see, I thought God wanted me to go through failed fertility treatments and procedures so that He could give me Calvin, and He did.

I thought God wanted me to get pregnant so that He could give us another son and give Calvin a brother, and He did.

I thought God wanted me to endure infertility and experience both the processes of adoption and pregnancy so that He could use me to encourage other women in similar situations through a ministry I would’ve never imagined I could participate in and be blessed by, and He did.

Beyond all these things, I now think God wanted me to walk through infertility, adoption, pregnancy, and postpartum depression so that He could show me that He is my life’s purpose; He defines my identity; He gives me unending joy.

A freeing truth
Finding fulfillment in Christ alone isn’t a new concept for me. Growing up as a church-raised, Christian-school-educated girl, the idea of contentment was hammered into my head continuously, and the value of knowing Jesus was rightfully lauded in various catechisms, devotions, sermons, and praise songs. Colin and I even had “In Christ Alone” played at our wedding. But knowing something to be true and actually experiencing it are two different things; for example, you can know that the Grand Canyon is a breathtaking marvel of nature, but not fully realize its magnitude until you see it in person. That’s how I feel about this Scriptural truth. I couldn’t know that Jesus alone could satisfy my deepest desires until my other desires were filled and I still came up short.

I don’t think this realization negates the pain and disappointment I suffered through infertility, or conversely, diminishes the happiness and pleasure I received from going through adoption and pregnancy. Those were real emotions and real experiences, and God carried me through them all. However, recognizing that He is my ultimate source of joy – my “reward” – helps widen the lens of hindsight to show more of His plans during those ups and downs of my life. This also grants me a fresh sense of freedom – freedom from the pressure I put on myself to enjoy every moment as a mom, and freedom from the pressure I put on my kids to fill my life’s longings – something they weren’t created to do.

This neat, far-from-concise lesson is all well and good now that I have two children and am not currently struggling with any major challenges. As I said before, I wouldn’t have read this post and received the message very graciously back when I was in the thick of hope-dashing fertility treatments. But I needed to hear this truth then and continue to need it today, and I pray that those who are waiting to become parents will have confidence that God will give them much more than what they’re aching for right now. Remember that whole “dating God” phase in recent Christian history, when some well-meaning but kinda silly girls declared, “Jesus is the only man I’ll ever need”? Think of it this way: Jesus is the only baby you’ll ever need. Or, to keep it simple and less awkward-sounding, Jesus is Whom you need.

As for my closet conversation with Jesus, that’s still ongoing. Ask me in a few weeks; I’m sure I won’t have this contentment thing figured out by then. But that doesn’t worry me. All relationships take time to build; all relationships go through ups and downs, and require investment to develop any sort of intimacy. And while I don’t always feel like I can find fulfillment in Christ, I know that He alone satisfies, and I need Him to help me see that and want that.

In his book “The Weight of Glory,” my all-time favorite author C.S. Lewis compares this aspect of the Christian faith to a student who at first submits to Greek grammar lessons only to escape punishment and get good grades, then gradually begins to enjoy his studies:

“The Christian, in relation to heaven, is in much the same position as this schoolboy. Those who have attained everlasting life in the vision of God doubtless know very well that it is no mere bribe, but the very consummation of their earthly discipleship; but we who have not yet attained it cannot know this in the same way, and cannot even begin to know it at all except by continuing to obey and finding the first reward of our obedience in our increasing power to desire the ultimate reward.”

Some may have assumed I found a happy ending to my infertility story once my two sons were born; I know I did. But since the ultimate happy ending won’t come until I’m reborn to a new life with my Savior in heaven, I’ll find joy in the meantime knowing and serving Him here, thankful for and happy with the life He’s given me.

Laughing at God

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If you’re still in shock over our big announcement, you can get in line right behind me and Colin. Although I’m now in the second trimester and starting to see physical evidence of a baby on board, plus my indulgence in burger and pizza cravings, it is hard for me to believe that this is happening after four years of infertility, including a failed IVF attempt. Saying the words “I’m pregnant” seems like an out-of-body experience; hearing people ask how I’m feeling weirds me out; sitting in the OB waiting room makes me feel like Dorothy in Oz, wondering “How the heck did I get here, in this land of munchkins-in-progress?” Even at our first sonogram, I was stunned to hear a heartbeat and look at the fuzzy dot in the picture, all the while thinking, “Is that little person really inside me?” It has been a surreal and amazing experience, much like when we got the call that Calvin was going to be our son, and Colin and I are thankful beyond words for this unexpected blessing.

To answer the burning question on everyone’s minds, we did not do anything besides the usual birds-and-bees method of getting pregnant. This happened naturally, which in our case means miraculously. Four years of trying to conceive never resulted in a positive pregnancy test, even with several rounds of fertility treatments, including an IVF cycle that did not produce any embryos. We had just started looking into big-time fertility clinics, and went so far as to consult with a top specialist and do some testing, but found out that I was pregnant before trying any treatments. In the follow-up with the specialist to discuss the test results, which didn’t shed much further light on our infertility, his response to my pregnancy news was, “Well, I guess you finally got your good egg.”

Like the fertility doc, many people like to come up with explanations for how/why couples get pregnant after failing to conceive for many years. This is a natural reaction, and it is understandable how anyone can get caught up in the happiness of the moment to propose what seem to be good reasons for such extraordinary occurrences. Interestingly, the opposite is also true – that people like to formulate reasons why a couple can’t get pregnant, just like we all try to do when something bad happens in life, and somehow think that we know the purpose for why God causes/allows it to happen.

In our situation, I don’t know why God enabled us to get pregnant, but I give Him all the glory for answering this long-standing prayer. And while I don’t want to suppress anyone’s excitement or claim logical or spiritual superiority over anyone else, I feel compelled to clarify a few issues that challenge the most frequently stated explanations for why some couples get pregnant after struggling with infertility. The point isn’t to make anyone feel guilty for thinking and/or saying these things, but to enlighten others about the perspective of someone who is living this experience, and who admittedly doesn’t always have the patience to respond to recurring comments in as calm a manner as can be conveyed through a blog post.

We got pregnant because of our great faith
The Bible certainly talks about God rewarding faith – “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6) – but it also clearly states that humans have no clue what God is thinking besides what’s laid out in Scripture – “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor?” (Romans 11:34). So although we witness blessings that could very well be given because of someone’s trust in the Lord, we really don’t know if that’s all or part of the reason why God decided to grant it.

Aside from this theological reasoning, I must confess that my faith in God to provide this particular blessing of pregnancy had over time shrunk to a size way more miniscule than a mustard seed. Colin and I had given up thinking that it would happen naturally, and had barely allowed a sliver of hope believing that it could happen if we tried IVF again at a top-rated clinic. We told our friends over dinner one night that there was no way we were going to get pregnant “on our own” – how could we, after four years of complete failure? While I believed that God could do the impossible, I figured He didn’t want to, and there wasn’t much of a point keeping that hope thriving. I didn’t stop praying that it would happen, but I gave up expecting God to answer my prayer with a “yes.”

Others, in the meantime, kept on praying and believing. Just a few months before we found out I was pregnant, my sister-in-law e-mailed saying that she had woken up the previous night and felt a strong and specific burden to pray for us to conceive. It was a good thing she e-mailed rather than called because my initial response was anything but gracious. Instead of being thankful for her commitment to pray for us, I essentially pulled a Sarah à la Genesis 18:12 and laughed at what I thought was a ridiculous waste of time. In my mind, there were millions of other more worthwhile requests to bring before the Lord, and I silently mocked her exercise in futility. Call it being jaded or simply realistic, I was done with believing I could get pregnant without medical intervention, and questioned if even that was possible. So if anyone’s faithfulness is to be credited for this pregnancy, it is those countless friends and family members who continued praying for us year after year, and whose prayers have now resulted in two blessed children.

We got pregnant because we just relaxed
Several people gave us this advice when we were trying to get pregnant – just relax, get a massage, go on a vacation – and now that we are, some people think it was a key to conception. While I’m not opposed to relaxation, and understand why people think a little R&R could help with the babymaking process, I don’t believe this reasoning is legit because it ultimately implies that infertility is either caused by stress or simply “all in your mind,” neither of which are accurate assumptions.

Infertility is a diagnosable disease. Something is going wrong with the sperm, the egg, or both. Even in so-called unexplained cases, fertility doctors assert that there are one or more physiological problems preventing conception from occurring. Stress can complicate or be a result of infertility, but it is not a cause. You would not tell someone with a chronic illness that if they “just relax” they will be cured. I believe the same principle applies to infertility.

That said, stress management techniques can help someone cope with the physical and emotional difficulties of infertility, just as they can help those suffering from chronic pain and disease. It’s not like I’d turn down a massage, even if I knew it wouldn’t cure a darn thing. For the purpose of full disclosure, I will say that I started acupuncture treatments several months before getting pregnant in an attempt to address bad cramps and bowel issues. In no way did I expect it to help with infertility; I just tried it knowing that it was a scientifically proven method for reducing stress and tension and for increasing circulation – all good things that can help with a variety of ailments. And now that I’m pregnant, I can’t say with any certainty that acupuncture was the magic bullet; there’s just no way to prove that it “fixed” the problem, especially not knowing exactly what the problem was to begin with. I guess acupuncture for me will be one of those things that some people assume is lame although they haven’t actually experienced it themselves, kinda like Twilight. My response to this would be: Don’t knock it ’till you try it (or read it).

And one final note about the “just relax” statement: Stress is a part of everyday life. Sure, some seasons of life are way more stressful than others, but does anyone really go a week or even a day without facing pressure or tension? My point here is that just because a couple stops trying fertility treatments and/or adopts a child (which I’ll get to next) does not mean that their stress over infertility or anything else in life suddenly disappears, thus making their bodies more conducive to pregnancy. On the contrary, adding a child to your family can increase one’s stress level, at least temporarily, and some would argue for the next 18 or so years until the kid leaves home. Stress is unavoidable, so assuming that those couples who end up conceiving after infertility were able to because they relaxed presumes that they’re living in fairytale world where worries don’t exist.

We got pregnant because we adopted
This explanation is about as popular as a “Call Me Maybe” parody, and considering the number of times I’ve been told this, is about as repetitive as the lyrics. It does seem that we all know or have heard of a couple who got pregnant after adopting, and now we are one of those couples. Although I can’t refute this claim since I’m living proof of it, I have to reiterate what I said in the previous section about infertility being a disease.

Adoption provides a way to add a child to your family, but it obviously cannot cure the physiological causes of infertility. The evidence to suggest that couples who adopt often get pregnant thereafter is anecdotal and not scientific. My 5-minute Google search on “pregnancy after adoption medical study” didn’t turn up much besides a blurb from The Encyclopedia of Adoption citing a study done by Michael Bohman showing that 8% of adoptive parents ultimately have a biological child. (I apologize to my academic friends for not being able to find the primary source on this.) The text proposed that these instances could be attributed to the 20% of infertile couples diagnosed with “unexplained infertility” and stated that those who suggest adoption is a psychological cure to infertility are sadly misled. The rest of the top results included some variation of the title “myths about infertility,” including this neat little list from RESOLVE. In lieu of these statistics, or lack thereof, I think it is important to remember in the midst of rejoicing with those who get pregnant after adopting that the majority of infertile couples who adopt do not conceive, and may not want to be told that this kind of thing happens all the time – which is clearly not true.

My biggest issue with the pregnancy-after-adoption theory/fable is not the intention of anyone who makes these statements, but I think should be clarified nonetheless to demonstrate the purpose of adoption. Adoption is a means to an end of adding a child to your family; it is not a means to an end of getting pregnant. Both adopting a child and having a biological child are beautiful, Scripturally significant ways of building a family, and one way is not better than the other. Colin and I originally planned to have biological and then adopted children, but God wanted us to adopt a child and then have a biological child. It wasn’t our Plan A, but it was His Plan A, and it turned out far better than I could have dreamed.

As I said before, I don’t know why God enabled us to get pregnant, but I do know why He didn’t allow it to happen before this: so that Calvin could be our son. All the pain, disappointment, and frustration of infertility was more than worth it to hold my sweet boy in my arms and be his forever Mommy. And now there’s another reason why God didn’t want us to get pregnant for the past four years. A friend of mine who also struggled with infertility once told me that it wasn’t until her daughter was born that she understood God wanted that specific sperm to unite with that specific egg and create the embryo that became her daughter. For us, He shut down our babymaking machinery until the right moment when He would create the unique blueprint for this little guy or gal. I cannot say enough how thankful I am that the Lord gave me Calvin and this baby in His timing, even though for years I seriously doubted that His timing was good.

So be careful if you laugh at God. He may forgive your irreverent disbelief and shock your socks off with unimaginable blessings.

The meaning of ‘worth the wait’

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I suck at waiting. Stoplights, checkout lines, doctor’s offices – all annoy me to no end. Whether it’s a minor inconvenience or a major impediment, any circumstance that places me in a state of suspense throws my contrived sense of order and stability into a maelstrom of anxiety-addled emotions. Put me on call hold, I’ll immediately start nervous toe-tapping or earring-tugging until I can find some way to multitask and make efficient use of the time. If you’re telling a joke and it takes longer than a minute to get to the punch line, save your breath; I may give a courtesy laugh, but really, I checked out 30 seconds ago.

This tendency of mine can partly be attributed to the influence of our cultural-driven conviction that we’re entitled to immediate gratification, which sounds like and is in fact a cop-out. More so than this, I think the reason I detest having to wait for just about anything is because it defies my plans. I’ve got a schedule that in my ever-discerning mind I approved to be good and wise and darn-near infallible. Thus, any disruption to this schedule wreaks havoc in the Universe According to Jennifer.

Once after venting to Colin about something or other, he remarked on how my complaints about my busted plans reminded him of the hospital scene in The Dark Knight, wherein Heath Ledger’s Joker persuades Harvey Dent (Two-Face) over to the dark side: “The mob has plans. The cops have plans. Gordon’s got plans. They’re schemers, schemers trying to control their little worlds. I’m not a schemer. I try to show the schemers how pathetic their attempts to control things really are.”

My pathetic attempt to control our family called for baby-making to begin four years ago. Once we decided to start trying, I wanted to get pregnant right away. Heck, I didn’t even want to wait for nine months of gestation; I was ready to have a baby from the word(s) go (procreate). In the big picture, I had been waiting all my life for the opportunity to be a mom, ever since I was little and bossed my siblings around while dressing my dolls and pretending to nurse my stuffed animals, which my siblings now tease me about as payback for the bossiness. Waiting to have kids until a few years after getting married was a sensible part of my master plan; having to wait a few years after deciding to actively pursue parenthood was not.

As Colin and I started trying to conceive, confusion about why things weren’t working right led to disappointment; disappointment over unsuccessful fertility treatments led to sorrow; sorrow over failed IVF and its implications for never getting pregnant led to despair. The waiting weighed down on me, stifling my hope to become a mom. Friends tried to offer encouragement through truthful yet irritating statements like “God has a plan” and “God causes all things to work together for your good” á la Romans 8:28. Thanks, but seriously people, I wasn’t born again yesterday. I knew God had a plan; I just preferred my own and could not understand why His caused me so much heartache.

And then, about a year ago, at one of the darkest points in my life, the Lord lifted a corner of the veil and revealed at least one purpose for the grief I had experienced. We got an e-mail from the adoption agency about a baby boy whose biological mother wanted to make an adoption plan, submitted our profile for consideration, and a few days later, exactly a year ago today, brought our son home. In all my visions of how I would have a child, I had never imagined it would happen that way.

After the initial shock wore off and the haze of newborn caregiving dissipated, I reflected on the road that led me to Calvin and realized that God had answered my impertinent, oft-repeated question over the past three years: “Why aren’t You giving me a baby?” As I looked into Calvin’s beautiful brown eyes and snuggled with him wrapped in the crook of my arm, I knew the answer was because He wanted me to have this baby. An adoptive mother from my church described a similar revelation she experienced the day she brought her son home: “All the years of infertility finally made sense.” The Lord turned my sorrow into joy by giving me the sweetest, most adorable little boy in the world. (Colin and I feel like we’re allowed to brag a bit about his cuteness because it’s not our genes that made him so stinkin’ cute.)

Of course, it’s not like my life suddenly became perfect after adopting Calvin, or that the sadness of infertility was erased, or, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, that my desire to get pregnant went away. Rather, all of the physical and emotional pain of fruitless medical procedures, feelings of failure and isolation and discouragement, and grief over the loss of a dream were worth it for this: to be Calvin’s mommy.

There are many, many things that happen in this life that we won’t understand this side of heaven. I’m so very glad that despite my lack of faith, God chose to show me a purpose for my suffering and give me an incredible gift as part of His perfect plan.

This day in history

Welcome back to the fertility-fail-turned-yay-adoption blog! As you can tell, I’ve done a bang-up job of updating the site since bringing Calvin home in January. And that’s not the only thing that has fallen by the wayside – I’m ashamed to admit that the baseboards have only been dusted a mere three times, and the Wii Fit keeps chastising me for not working out in double-digit days.

Although slacking off in those and other areas goes against my perfectionist nature, I haven’t minded it much because I’ve been having the time of my life being a mom. Every day I am amazed and humbled by God’s grace in giving me my precious son. Funny how you can be convinced that you deserve something, and act like a whiny brat if you don’t have it; then when you get it, you realize just how much you truly don’t deserve it. Therein lies the beauty/scandal of the gospel: God gave us whiny brats the gift of salvation at the price of sacrificing His precious Son.

Calvin has made the adjustment to parenthood fairly easy on us, for which we are very thankful, especially considering how the transition literally happened overnight. Though for all the comments we’ve received about how hard it must’ve been to drop everything and take home a baby without any preparation, I’ve thought about our experiences and concluded that aside from the adoption proceedings, we haven’t really had to deal with anything outside the ordinary challenges of being a new parent. Operating on minimal sleep, distinguishing types of cries, getting peed on – these are all things we would’ve faced had we known about the adoption in advance, things that both adoptive and biological parents confront. And of course, we have and will continue to make mistakes – for example, just the other day we realized we’d been using newborn-style nipples instead of swapping in the faster-flow nipples as Calvin has gotten older. This whole time we figured he was a super-slow feeder, when really we were impeding his bottle-consumption ability. Oh well, the kid has been in the 80th and 90th percentiles – even though he had to work for it, he’s obviously been getting enough to eat.

Taking care of such a happy little boy has been a blast, and getting to see Colin embrace the role of Daddy – cheering Calvin on when he accomplishes something, roughhousing with him after a meal and then handing him over to me right before he spits up – has been a great blessing for me to observe. Being a mom has been so wonderful that at times I feel like my heart is going to burst with joy. Interesting how that is my experience now, when a year ago, as I cried in anguish to the Lord for giving me the longing to be a mom and cruelly refusing to fulfill it, I felt like He was ripping my heart out, piece by piece, leaving me raw, exposed, bleeding.

I titled this post “This day in history” because it was on this date last year that we started our second IVF cycle (the first was postponed due to unresponsiveness to meds). Remembering all the pain – physical and emotional – associated with the dreadful procedure and the subsequent devastation when we found out none of the eggs fertilized makes me sad. It is a difficult sentiment for me to describe because I am sad that we had to go through such a costly, exhausting process and even sad that it didn’t work; yet I am happy that it didn’t work because we wouldn’t have Calvin as our son if it had. If someone had told me last November that in a year, we’d be parents of a beautiful, bright 10-month-old boy, I’d have responded, to modify a phrase from the mid-’90s, “You smokin’ crack, weed, and meth?!?” Never would I have imagined that shortly after our debacle of an IVF cycle we’d be bringing home a baby, that we’d go from one of the darkest times in my life to one of the most joyous (and surprising!) moments I’ll ever experience in less than three months’ time.

Without a doubt, I am glad and grateful for the ultimate outcome of our failed fertility procedure, but it was still a difficult trial to undergo, and a path that I wish we hadn’t had to take. And it wasn’t just the procedure itself that was discouraging, but also what it meant for our future, casting doubt on our ability to ever have biological children. However, I can recognize how enduring an unsuccessful IVF cycle has given me the opportunity to share my experience with others who may be facing similar circumstances, and perhaps help them honestly express their feelings while still clinging to the truth of God’s goodness.

So it is with a strange mixture of emotions that I thank the Lord IVF didn’t work. As with many things in life, it sucked to go through, but turned out to be beneficial in the end. You know, that whole blessings-in-disguise malarkey that people say to placate you when you’re in the middle of a trial. Irritating, but true.

A year later, we’re starting to get the question only those brave enough asked us after IVF bombed: “Now what are you going to do?” This time, people are wondering how we’ll go about having little Hesse #2. My answer at present is the same as it was back then: I don’t know. This time, I’m more OK with not knowing because of Calvin; however, as more of our friends are having their second, third, fourth, or even fifth (!) child, the pressure to add to our family is beginning to increase. We have a few options; we just haven’t yet decided what road to take.

More important than our decisions or feelings, we know that God is good. He is good now that we have Calvin and are parents; He was good then when we were crushed with disappointment over IVF not getting us pregnant; He would still be good had He not chosen to bring Calvin into our lives (though I now can’t picture life without him). I know that to be true; I just don’t always feel that it is true. Good thing the Truth doesn’t depend on my feelings – a recurring theme in my prayer journal.

From here out, I’m aiming to update the blog more frequently and share some of my experiences as an adoptive mom. I’m also aiming to loosen up my task-oriented tendencies and make the most of naptimes. We’ll see which of these potentially competing goals prevails, or if I dink around on Facebook too much and just plumb forget about it.

A New Year

The year 2011 has gotten off to a crazy start. First, the Seahawks upset the Saints in the NFC wild card game. Then, we got a call informing us that a birthmother who had already delivered her baby had selected us as her adoptive family, and we became parents overnight.

Before I launch into the story about how our son, Calvin, joined our family, I want to provide the backdrop for the amazing sequence of events that the Lord orchestrated in a way and at a time I would have never anticipated. I should also forewarn you that this post will be quite lengthy, so unless you have mad speed-reading skills like Colin and Gavin, don’t expect to pound this out in five minutes or less.

In my last post I wrote on Christmas Eve, I stated that my hope in Christ as my loving Savior remained firm, which was and is absolutely true. However, my hope for becoming a mom was pretty much toast. The trials of the past year – all the failed fertility treatments, unanswered prayers, and physical and emotional struggles, in addition to the accumulated disappointments over the course of the past three years of trying to conceive – weighed down on me during the holidays, and I felt totally defeated. Being around my pregnant sister-in-law, Kim, who treated me with utmost sensitivity and respect, for which I will forever be grateful, made my heart ache simply because I didn’t know if I’d ever be able to become a mom; I didn’t know if I’d have a little one to hold and care for next Christmas or any thereafter.

Many times throughout this whole process of trying to expand our family, I’ve felt that I’ve reached the end of the line, that God had dealt me more hardships than I could handle. Last month was one of the lowest of those lows, as I had reached the point that I didn’t want to pursue any more fertility treatments. We had a consultation with a specialist at Seattle Reproductive Medicine, and though it did provide some useful information, which I won’t go into detail about now, it didn’t make me much more inclined to keep trying the fruitless, expensive medical route. And while we knew there were several options still available to us, including embryo adoption and traditional adoption, I didn’t really want to think about any of them. Stick a fork in me, I was done. Done with the disappointment, done with the uncertainty, done with thinking about ever having a baby.

Interestingly, during a conversation with my mother- and sister-in-law over the holidays, I told them about how some adoptive families get matched with a birthmother immediately after she gives birth, that they get a call and have to drop everything to pick up their child at the hospital, going from a childless couple one minute to parents the next. I asserted that that was something I couldn’t ever imagine doing since I’m such a planner and would not feel capable of making that drastic life change in such a short amount of time.

(Insert “never say never” and other applicable cliches here.)

This feeling of hopelessness pervaded my thoughts at the start of the New Year. I even began writing a blog post about the aftermath of IVF and how we’d decided to take a break from fertility treatments. But before I got a chance to finish that post, we got a few e-mails from our adoption agency. Apparently they were having a busy start to the New Year, as they had three birthmothers contact them about wanting to make adoption plans, including one who had already given birth. Colin and I read the e-mails explaining each situation and decided to show our profile to two bmoms, the first time we had elected to do so. With one of those e-mails, I broke my own rule about not looking at baby pictures the adoption agency sent for fear they would make me cry, and I did almost break down when I saw the photo of a sweet, cherub-faced baby boy sound asleep in his hospital bed. There were some health concerns about this baby, but his MRI results came back normal, so we told the adoption agency we still wanted our profile shown to his bmom.

That was Friday, Jan. 7. We spent the weekend praying about the two bmoms, trying not to get too worked up about the possibility of adopting one of their babies. At church that Sunday, Pastor Dave gave a sermon about how Abraham and the rest of the individuals in Genesis who made it into the Faithful Hall of Fame in Hebrews were pretty much all screw-ups. They lied, cheated, stole, murdered, committed adultery, rejected God’s sovereignty, etc., and yet God still remained faithful to them. The sermon really spoke to me, as I’ve felt like a total failure in terms of trusting the Lord throughout these struggles with infertility, and yet He has provided for me and comforted me despite all my shortcomings. So that was encouraging, but I still felt nervous about the bmoms looking at our profiles, and had a hard time getting to sleep that night. I didn’t know it was the beginning of the end for me as far as sleeplessness goes.

On Monday, the day the bmoms were going to look at the profiles, I tried to get some work done, and to distract myself, thought about what we should do with the new hutch we bought on Saturday (only $160 on craiglist!). I carried my phone around with me to the bathroom and everywhere else, and checked my e-mail every two minutes. I repeated Proverbs 3:5 – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” – to myself over and over and over again. Colin went into work briefly in the morning, then came home and started to freak out, which is a rarity for him. The impact of becoming a parent instantaneously hit him before it hit me, but after some time to think about it and talk to his bro, he calmed down, thankfully just in time for my freak-out.

In the late morning, I got an e-mail from our caseworker, who said we were a finalist for the bmom of the baby boy whose picture had melted my heart. I gotta say, that was a weird message, knowing that we were finalists for the bmom, as if this was American Adoptive Idol or something. She wanted to verify that we were OK with an open adoption, to which we replied yes, as long as we started out slowly and used the adoption agency for facilitation. We waited for a few agonizing hours after that until 5 p.m., then I resigned myself to the probable fact that we wouldn’t hear anything until Tuesday. We made dinner, started watching the BCS championship game, and tried to relax. Then around 7:30, I got a call from an unknown phone number. It was another caseworker who told me that the bmom had looked at all the profiles and had made her decision. She had picked us.

It’s difficult for me to describe my feelings at that very moment because I was absolutely shocked. My mind couldn’t process what the caseworker was telling me, and I could barely say anything to her other than “That’s great.” What a lame response to the news that you’re going to be a parent! She mentioned a few things about the baby boy, like how there were a few minor medical issues and tests to be run, but overall he was healthy and quite alert, already interacting with the nurses and others who came to visit him. She told us we needed to drive out the next day to meet the bmom and our son. Then she asked if I had any questions, and for the life of me I couldn’t think of anything, other than “What the freakin’ heck is going on?!?” (which I refrained from saying aloud).

At some point during this conversation, I looked at Colin and mouthed the words “I can’t do this.” When I got off the phone, my hands were shaking, and the floodgates opened wide. The emotions of that moment – joy, relief, fear, and surprise – totally overwhelmed me, and my stalwart husband hugged me tightly and whispered soothing reassurances until I calmed down. Honestly I don’t remember much else about that particular moment due to the shock. As you may remember, the last time I was in shock was after I got the call from the doctor that we didn’t get any embryos from IVF. So in the span of a little more than 50 days, I went from one state of shock to another, each under very, very different circumstances.

Once I had regained a semblance of composure, we began calling various family members and friends and telling them the news. I e-mailed my boss and sent her all my work in progress, apologizing for ditching work so suddenly. Then I did what any sane person would do and started furiously cleaning the house, which is one of my foremost coping mechanisms. Colin resorted to his: playing Call of Duty.

As you can expect, I didn’t get much sleep that night. I got up early on Tuesday and shoveled the driveway (it had snowed several inches over the past 24 hours) to help prevent Colin from wrecking his back before our drive and to help us get on the road as soon as possible. We dropped Kaffy off at the kennel and headed out in a snowstorm. En route, Colin downloaded a baby name app on his iPhone, and we started discussing possible names for our baby boy, an experience that was and still is hard to believe that we were undertaking. We narrowed it down to our top three: Calvin, Caleb, and Caden.

Immediately upon arriving at the adoption agency office, we were told that the birthmother and her mom were there waiting to meet us. We walked in and said hello to our son’s biological mother and grandmother, which was a strange and wonderful experience. I won’t go into much detail about our bmom to protect her privacy, but I will say that she is a friendly, sweet young woman who impressed us with her maturity and strength. The grace with which she was handling the whole situation was amazing to me, and I am so, so very thankful for her and for how much love she demonstrated toward our son.

As weird as the scenario was, we actually had a great time chatting with her and her mom, and to me it felt very comfortable and natural. She told us she picked us because of our personalities as illustrated in our family profile, and especially liked how important our family was to us, because her family is so important to her, and they’re all supportive of her adoption decision. Apparently, they had all looked at the family profiles separately, and each of them had picked the “Seahawks couple” for the adoptive family (we had a photo of us in our jerseys in the profile book), which to me is another example of God’s hand at work in this story.

After socializing for a while and discussing our preferences for an open adoption – starting out slowly with pictures and e-mails and occasional visits at the adoption agency – we said goodbye to our bmom and her mom and headed to our next meeting with the attorney. Fortunately that meeting was pretty quick, and our attorney laid the groundwork for the necessary legal steps. As part of the conversation, he had to start a document for the new birth certificate the baby would be given when the adoption was finalized, and he asked us what name we wanted to give him. So right there on the spot, we decided to name him Calvin, representing Calvin and Hobbes, Colin’s favorite comic strip; giving him the same first and last initials as Colin; and providing him with an easy nickname I love, Cal. My bro-in-law John later pointed out that Calvin is a combination of Colin and Gavin – how cool is that!

Finally after all these meetings, we got to go to the hospital and see our son for the first time. Walking into the hospital, I was so nervous I thought I would pass out. I’m not sure why I was so nervous then, maybe for some ridiculous fear that he wouldn’t like us. But in any case, after sterilizing my hands before entering the NICU, I walked into my baby boy’s room as if in a dream. I saw him in his little plastic hospital cradle, hooked up to a ton of monitors, and watched him breathe peacefully in his sleep. Then the nurse asked me if I wanted to hold him, and she handed him over to me, a moment I will remember forever. My first thought when I held him was “This is the most beautiful baby I have ever seen.” My second thought: “This is not my baby.” Not in the sense that I didn’t feel a connection with him, but more in the sense of incredulity. I was completely astonished that this amazing blessing was happening to me, and try as I might, I could not hold back a few tears of joy and wonder. We took several pictures, and then Colin held him for the first time, and I cried again. It was unbelievably precious for me to see my beloved husband being a loving father and cradling our son in his arms.

The next several hours were a blur (well, the whole trip was a blur, but this timeframe wasn’t all that exciting, and thus can be summarized without going into too much detail). We had a quick dinner, went on a shopping spree at Target to get a few essentials like a car seat, and headed back to the hospital to see Calvin. His birthmother was there with her father, and she gave us a gift for Calvin – a little teething toy and a froggie rattle, which she had bought because I’d mentioned that I’d like to do a frog theme in his nursery. They took off, and we got to spend more time watching Calvin sleep. The nurses used this time to inundate us with instructions about how to care for a newborn. They were all so kind and nurturing, and apologetically commented on how “This is probably a lot of info to take in.” It was, and by the end of the evening, my brain was ready to explode. It was exhausting staying there so long, but definitely worth it, as we got to see Calvin open his eyes and watch us intently as he ate, which we’ve now discovered is his absolutely favorite thing to do. Needless to say, it was a long day. We got to our hotel, exhausted from all the day’s emotional activities, and tried to sleep (unsuccessfully).

The next day was no less busy, involving another meeting with the attorney and a long time of kickin’ it at the hospital, waiting for the doctors to finish their business with Calvin. They ordered some tests but didn’t seem concerned about much other than his tiny extremities, which were tightly clenched and lacked flexibility. The working theory is that he was pretty squished in utero, and all the doctors thought he would improve with some physical therapy. They also had him wear some splints that looked really uncomfortable, and after getting home, we ditched them since they were too big and he obviously hated wearing them.

We waited and waited and waited, all the while having nurses coming in and out overwhelming us with more info about what and what not to do. Our caseworker came in and had us sign a ton of paperwork, then finally, the doctor gave the OK to release him. That was around 5 p.m., just in time for us to hit rush hour. Calvin did great on the way back and slept the whole way, even though I kept checking on him every three seconds to see if he was still breathing.

When we arrived home, our friends Chris and Elizabeth were there to greet us with dinner. They said “Welcome home, Mommy and Daddy!” and I wondered who they were talking about. On our doorstep was a pizza and bag of baby gifts from Colin’s colleagues, the first of many gifts and care packages given to us from our wonderful friends. Calvin started to wake up, so we picked him up and took him into his room. That is another moment I will always remember, as we walked into the room that our friends from church had completely furnished, with a crib and diapers and blankets and everything we could possibly need plus more. They answered our desperate call when we let them know we were leaving to pick up our son, and they outfitted Calvin’s nursery in a room that had not been prepared at all, save for the paint on the walls.

On the wall, they posted signs of encouragement, including one with 1 Samuel 1:27 on it – “I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of Him.” I am still amazed to think that this has happened, that God has answered my prayer. And though there are many issues still unresolved, especially concerning the legal process, and I’m pretty tired, after several sleepless nights even before we brought Calvin home, I am overjoyed to be a mommy to the most precious baby boy.

Our main prayer request right now is for the remaining legal issues. To try to summarize them, the birthmother has signed consents, but the birthfather is undisclosed. According to state law, a notification must be printed in a legal journal as a formality to allow the birthfather to acknowledge paternity. From the date of publication, which will be in a few weeks, he has 45 days to step forward and try to claim parental rights before they are automatically terminated. It is highly unlikely that this will happen, and according to the lawyer, no one ever reads the legal journal. However, there’s still that scary possibility that he could find out, so we’re praying that that doesn’t happen, and that parental rights will be completely terminated so that we can proceed with our petition for custody. Of course, we could also use prayer for us learning how to be parents, and for Calvin’s legs and arms to continue improving in flexibility.

There’s much more I can talk about Calvin and his fun personality, our experiences during our first week of having him, how Kaffy is adjusting to having a little person in our home, and our first court hearing, but Colin and my mom are telling me to go to sleep since Calvin is currently asleep, and from what I hear, all moms know they should sleep whenever their child is sleeping.

So I’ll wrap up this story by emphasizing God’s amazing timing in bringing Calvin into our lives. He planned for Calvin to be born at a time when Colin was still on break from school, when we somehow miraculously had enough money in the bank for the hefty adoption fees, and after we had tried an unsuccessful attempt at IVF. Had we not tried IVF yet, or if IVF had worked, we would not have elected to show our profile to any birthmothers. We would not have taken home our beloved son.

In my post-IVF entry, I spurned any forthcoming Christian-ese comments about how God didn’t want IVF to work because He had something better planned for us. I should’ve known He would prove me wrong, giving me a gift that is far, far better than what I had asked for in a way that I had never, ever expected could happen.