I don’t know Melody…and I wish I did.

The drive home from the Crisis Pregnancy Center is almost a half-hour. So it gives me lots of time to think.

This past week, I was thinking a lot about Melody, Sweet Pea’s birth mother.

Probably because Sweet Pea’s birthday is just around the corner and I have never met Melody.

I have never even talked to her on the phone.

I’m actually not sure what you would call Sweet Pea’s adoption. I definitely know it is not an “open adoption”, but is it “closed”?

I would be more than willing to meet Melody one day and we send updates to Melody via the agency every three months.

In fact, I hope and pray to meet Melody one day.

Sweet Pea’s adoption was so different than her sisters and yet, there are so many ways their adoptions were similar.

But, I never met Melody and I spent nearly seven weeks with Little Bug’s birth mother prior to her birth.

While those weeks with Tracy were some of the most stressful seven weeks of my life, I would not trade them for the world.

I learned a lot about Tracy’s personality in those weeks.

I learned she has a beautiful smile, a wonderful sense of humor and…a spit-fire personality – just like her birth daughter. Smile

I know virtually nothing about Melody’s personality.

What I am going to say next might stir some judgments against me in the adoption community, but what I have decided to share here is simply my experiences and the effects it has had on me. Be nice if you choose to comment, please.

My bond with Little Bug was not instant. Don’t get me wrong. I loved that baby the instant I laid eyes on her. But…she wasn’t mine. I couldn’t fully be her mother the first time I saw her. Her mother was Tracy. I just hoped to be given the privilege and honor to become her mother through the self-less, sacrificial act of Tracy who would relinquish her rights as Little Bug’s mother and place them on me.

Eighty-one hours after her birth, I officially became Little Bug’s mother when Tracy signed her TPR.

And then, I was a mother.

And as much as I had longed and waited and desired to play that role, after the initial honeymoon of it all, I felt so discombobulated with my life!

I went from infertility treatments to motherhood in a matter of two months!!

I was trying to figure this baby out (Thank you Babywise, who came and saved the day when Little Bug was around 3 months old.) and transition my mind from infertility treatments to parenthood and it just took me some time to really feel like I was Little Bug’s mother and she wasn’t going anywhere.

I think I was somewhat in shock over the miracle that had brought me this precious baby and my mind needed some time to catch up with my heart.

My bond to Sweet Pea was literally instant.

One look was all it took and she had my complete heart.

The difference??

For one, I was already a mother. I knew how to be a mother and it was easy to open my heart to another daughter to love. And I knew I wouldn’t feel lost because I planned to do Babywise with Sweet Pea from the first day I brought her home. There was a plan in place and that gave me confidence in parenting that I didn’t have with Little Bug.

But what made the most difference was this: The first time I laid eyes on Sweet Pea, she was totally and completely mine.

TPR was not looming in the background haunting me saying, Is this your baby, or not?

TPR had already been signed; hours before I met Sweet Pea Melody had officially signed the TPR and placed the responsibility of parenting Sweet Pea on me.

The fact that I could love my baby wholly and completely from the first moment I laid eyes on her is one of the most precious gifts God has granted me on my adoption journey.

But at the same time, I wanted to meet this woman! And given the choice of meeting and knowing Sweet Pea’s birth mother before her birth or seeing Sweet Pea for the first time knowing she was already mine, I would choose to know Melody.

I love the gift God gave me, but “forgetting” the fact she did not come from my womb and “forgetting” Melody is not healthy for anyone – and yet, it is easy to do because I wouldn’t even recognize Melody on the street if I saw her!

So while I thank God for both of my adoption journeys and the lessons I learned and the lives that were forever molded together in very unique ways, I do pray for the opportunity to meet Melody one day.

I want to speak with her and tell her the story of how God lead us together through not one but two lawyers. I want her to see the miracle in her placement of Sweet Pea.

If she wishes, I want her to be able to see the baby she carried in her womb for 9 months.

I want her to see how happy she is and how she is the smiliest baby on the planet.

God brought Tracy back into our lives for six weeks at the beginning of 2011 and I was able to take some pictures of Little Bug with her birth mother. I want that for Sweet Pea, too.

I just have to trust that if God knows Sweet Pea will need to one day see pictures of her with her birth mother, God will make it happen.

one year later

Our first glimpse of our second daughter. There was obviously no laying of the baby on mother’s chest right after birth (seeing as how I didn’t give birth to her!), but I can’t imagine these moments being any more special than they were that day.

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Wires and lights were everywhere. I couldn’t even see her eyes, at first!

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The moment I knew love multiplies.

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Our first family of four photo while standing by Sweet Pea’s NICU bedside.

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Finally she is off the lights and can be held for feedings!

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In her Daddy’s arms. Notice the furrowed brow, her paci, the swaddle and her little hand coming out – she needed her Miracle Blanket!! That was her “look” for many weeks.

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First time holding my two girls. God has been so faithful to me this year as I mothered these two precious girls. I questioned God’s timing in bringing us another baby, but now, I know His plan was – and is – perfection.

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The special doctor God gave Sweet Pea in my absence. I worried about her being all alone in the hospital before I could get there, but she was well taken care of by Dr. R – one of the best doctors I have ever met.

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I don’t miss a thing when I take pictures, so it doesn’t surprise me that I took a picture of the NICU sign right outside the door. This picture reminds me that I’ve never experienced a “normal” birth with a healthy drug-free baby. But you know what? I haven’t missed a thing in this life because this is the path God has placed me on and these are the babies God gave me – and I don’t want my life to be “normal”.

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What a tiny little peanut! After just nine days in the NICU, Sweet Pea was well enough to come home! That, in and of itself, was a miracle as we were fully prepared for a lengthy stay with her.

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God is faithful. All the time, He is faithful.

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This past year is just another chapter of my life where the faithfulness of God is visible on every page.

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I thank the Lord for the healing He has brought upon this sweet baby.

monkey wrench in my best laid out plans

An upcoming birthday (Sweet Pea will be 1 two weeks from today!) always takes me back in time to the days and weeks spent waiting for our adoption journey to come to an end with the birth of the baby.

As Sweet Pea’s due date got closer and closer, I began making plans for how I was going to juggle a 2 year old at home and a newborn in the NICU.

I was fully prepared for a longer NICU stay with Sweet Pea because she had been exposed to methadone for six of her nine months in the womb whereas her sister was exposed to methadone for only about 6 weeks.

I had devised a plan with my mom so that she would be at the NICU most mornings with Sweet Pea while I would be spending the morning with Little Bug. Then I would lay Little Bug down for a nap and my mom would come stay with her while I went to the NICU to be with Sweet Pea. Then I would be back at some point after naptime and go back to the NICU in the evenings once Little Bug was in bed. Although that last part of my plan didn’t fly over well with my family because the hospital is located in a very bad area of town and it would not be safe for me to go up there alone at night. But that is besides the point, now.

I knew it would be a crazy life, but I also knew it wouldn’t last forever.

And then the monkey of all monkey wrenches was thrown into my best laid out plans.

Just a few weeks before her due date, Melody was moved 1.5 hours away from our city!

Now, I was faced with the fact that I was going to have two babies 1.5 hours apart from each other and, before Sweet Pea was even born, I already felt torn between my two babies. Also, my mind was overloaded with where we would stay, how much money it was going to cost us and how would we “do this” for weeks and possibly a month or more??

But, you know what?

God worked out every single detail, big and small, regarding the fact Sweet Pea was going to be born and stay in a NICU 1.5 hours away from our home.

I will never forget a Sunday morning sitting in our small group at church. We were sharing the predicament we were in with our friends in our class. My friend, Katie, looked me square in the eyes and said, “Do not worry, Elaine. I have friends in [the city Sweet Pea was born in]. God is going to provide a place for you to stay.”

Those first three words were exactly what I needed to hear.

Oh, how quick I am to just immediately worry!!!

It wasn’t but probably a day or two later and Katie called me saying her friend would be more than happy for us to stay in her extra bedroom in her house!

We spent the first four nights of our stay at her house. It was such a tremendous blessing to not have to pay a hotel bill on top of all the expenses that come along with adoption.

My parents took over Little Bug’s care as soon as TPR was signed and we hit the road. I knew this was going to be the longest I had ever been away from my firstborn, but I also knew she was in very capable hands and would be very well taken care of. Little Bug didn’t miss a beat with my parents and for basically a week straight, they were Little Bug’s primary caregiver.

We arrived at the NICU on August 4th, which was a Thursday. We planned to stay through the weekend and then go back home because Dave would need to get back to work and then I would have to figure out what I was going to do.

The day after we got there my mom called me and couldn’t stand it any longer – she said they were just dying to meet Sweet Pea. She asked if they (my dad, my mom and Little Bug) could make a day trip and come meet Sweet Pea the next day. I said yes and was thrilled they were coming. I wanted my Mama and baby girl and was elated I would get to see Little Bug after just barely 24 hours.

As my parents were about to arrive, I received a text from my brother saying he was on his way to the hospital. He was doing a summer internship in a city about 2 hours from where we were and he had decided to drive over to meet his new niece! I kept it a secret that he was on his way too and we ended up surprising my mom. It was so special for my family to meet Sweet Pea together in the NICU. The nurses allowed us to break the rules so that I could bring my parents, my brother and Little Bug back to meet Sweet Pea at the same time!

During that time, we were also looking into possibly getting Sweet Pea transferred to the NICU in our city, but then we got the very surprising and unexpected news that there was a very real possibility that Sweet Pea would be discharged on Monday, at less than a week old!

Dave and I stayed through the weekend and woke up Monday morning hoping for good news when we arrived at the hospital. Instead, we got a phone call from Sweet Pea’s incredibly awesome doctor who we just absolutely adored who told us some discouraging news. Sweet Pea had had a rough night and she felt to discharge her that morning would be too soon and she really wanted to keep her a few more days.

Meanwhile, back at home, through a connection at church yet again, my mom had been told that our entire family could stay at the home of this family who lived near the hospital and was going out of town and had opened up their home for us to use for the week!

My mom and dad packed up and came back bringing Little Bug. We all stayed together in this house that was generously given to us by a family we didn’t even know! Dave and I had the master bedroom, my parents had the son’s room and we set Little Bug’s pack n play up in the office. For the next few days we camped out at the NICU. I had such sweet memories of sitting by Little Bug’s side in the NICU with my mom and I wanted those memories with Sweet Pea too. God gave us that those two days my family was there.

Dave’s work was incredibly understand and supportive of our adoption. Dave was allowed to log in at a Panera for 3 hours each day to take care of some things and call that a day’s work! Such a blessing in many ways. He was able to stay with me the entire time Sweet Pea was in the NICU and he actually needed an “excuse” to leave the hospital for some time each day so going to “work” was it. I would have slept by Sweet Pea’s bedside given the opportunity but Dave got antsy just sitting there all day and needed to get out and see the light of day. So he would go to “work” and I kept my vigil at Sweet Pea’s bedside. Such a tremendous blessing to have my husband there the entire time but for him to not have to take more days off from work.

My parents left to go back home on Tuesday (or maybe it was Wednesday). I remember feeling so sad when they pulled away and tears streaming down my face. I didn’t want my Mama and my girl to be leaving me. But I put my focus on where I needed to be – and that was by my youngest baby’s bedside so that she could improve and come home where she belonged.

I didn’t have to wait long to see my Little Bug again! Thursday, Sweet Pea was discharged and we made the 1.5 hour drive home with our newest bundle of joy. Oh that was a happy day.

Nine days in the NICU was all it took and Sweet Pea was ready to come home!!!

God had spared us from a long NICU stay, God provided not one, but TWO places for us to stay free of charge the 7 days we were there, God provided a very special doctor to care for Sweet Pea, God allowed Dave to stay with me the entire time, God allowed a time that could have been very unsettling for Little Bug to be a time of happiness and joy for her and…God taught me another invaluable lesson.

He’s got it all under control!!!!

As I sat worried, He knew just how He was going to provide for our EVERY need that week.

I love sitting back and thinking about that time and all God did for us in the days surrounding Sweet Pea’s birth and NICU stay.

One of my favorite pictures of all time

This is one of my favorite pictures.

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It speaks volumes as to what was happening those first few days after Sweet Pea’s birth.

Having not been present at Sweet Pea’s birth, I didn’t meet my second daughter until she was over 2 days old.

This picture was taken shortly after meeting her for the first time.

The night of Sweet Pea’s birth, I lay in bed tossing and turning because I knew this sweet baby was in a hospital by herself with no mother taking care of her. I would almost fall asleep and then I would have visions of this tiny baby laying all alone that would not allow me to drift off to sleep.

Not even her birth mother was with her because Sweet Pea had been transferred to a different hospital hours after her birth. Her birth mother had remained at the hospital where she had given birth.

The only way I finally found sleep that night was to pray that God would send a special doctor or nurse that would take Sweet Pea under his/her wings and watch over her until we were able to go to the hospital once the TPR had been signed 48 hours after Sweet Pea’s birth.

God did send a special doctor. Dr. Marvelous looked after Sweet Pea and came running to meet us once she learned the adoptive parents had arrived at the hospital.

This picture is so precious to me because here is Sweet Pea, laying on her hospital bed, the nurse doing something at the foot of the bed. Sweet Pea is alert, eyes open wide, her head is turned to my direction and she is looking directly into my eyes.

It is as if she knows.

This is my Mama. I am not alone in this world.

Laying there, she is the picture of vulnerability. I love the way her little arm is curled up against her chest, her tiny feet sticking straight out and her adorable eyes looking up at me and crying out asking, Will you be my Mama??

I always hear about precious moments between women who give birth and then their baby is placed on their chest immediately to start bonding. Some women even choose to not deliver at the hospital so that they can have this precious time after birth with their baby instead of a nurse taking the baby away to do hospital protocol procedures.

There is nothing more beautiful than seeing a picture of a woman who has just delivered her baby and that baby has been placed on her chest. Mother and baby’s eyes meet for the very first time.

I could feel like I was “missing out” by not having these birth and right-after-delivery-moments with my babies, but God, in His great mercy, has given me precious moments with both of my daughters soon after their births.

This was my moment with Sweet Pea and it just so happens that my mother caught this moment in a photograph.

The moment my heart bonded with my second daughter.

Q&A: withdrawals, sling, friends, birth story

Sweet Pea is looking much happier in the photos lately – is she showing a lot of reduced signs of withdrawal/pain?

We have certainly learned how to manage her pain. When her tummy pain is at its worst, she likes to be swaddled and held upright on my chest. I pat her back and give her the paci, if she wants it. I hold her very tight against my body and that position helps eventually bring her relief, except on horrible days. On horrible days she just continues to squirm and be restless all day long.

I realized something pretty amazing the other day. Sweet Pea rarely cries. Even on her really bad days, she rarely cries. She would certainly cry if I left her just siting on her own somewhere, but obviously, I don’t do that because holding her tight against me brings her comfort. She wriggles and squirms in discomfort, but it is amazing to me that she rarely cries, even when her pain is at its worst. I attribute this to having her on a schedule. Sweet Pea has order and stability in her life, even through all the craziness of her tummy troubles, and I am confident that has made a world of difference for her when her tummy is hurting her.

And yes, she does look so much better than she did after coming home from the hospital. She does not have the furrowed brow anymore and she smiles every day. However, she still does deal with tummy troubles on a daily basis and will, most likely, for a while still until her body has had time to grow, mature and heal from the drug exposure.

We have an appointment with the GI specialist this week. My pedi didn’t feel like it was essential that I take Sweet Pea but I can’t not go. I don’t know if there is anything groundbreaking that he will be able to do for Sweet Pea, but I have the opportunity to take her to the specialist and I am not going to pass it up. Maybe there is something he knows that my pedi just isn’t aware of because she isn’t a GI specialist. He is a specialist for a reason! Once again, I have to know I’ve done everything in my power to help bring Sweet Pea comfort through all this.

I love that sling! How easy is it to put on and use? How did you get the sling to work? Have you tried other baby carriers?

The ring sling is fairly easy to put on and use. Once you do it a few times, you just get the hang of it.

I put the sling on over my head first. Then I make sure the rings are at my shoulders. Then I make a little “cocoon pocket” for Sweet Pea to slip into by making sure some fabric is against my stomach (on the inside).

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Then I pick Sweet Pea up, lay her on my chest in the position I want her to be in while in the sling. Then I slip her into the sling.

Once she is in, I pull on the fabric coming out of the ring to tighten her against my body.

I really do love this sling. It is perfect for holding Sweet Pea in her “comfort position” when I need to be hands-free to take care of Little Bug.

Since I have never tried to put a baby in a ring sling with their feet/legs hanging out, I really can’t answer that question!

I have one other sling that I used with Little Bug once she was a little older and had more head control. It is an Infantino carrier.

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I really did not use a sling much with Little Bug because she just wasn’t a sling baby. I do remember using this carrier several times at the sink when I was trying to clean the kitchen/wash bottles and Little Bug was wanting to be held. She enjoyed watching me wash dishes from her view in the carrier.

Those are the only slings/carriers I have experience with.

 

How do you meet other mom friends? I am a SAHM and it’s so hard to find other moms to meet up with!

I have lived in this city since I was under 2 years old, so I have many local friends, even from elementary school! God has blessed me with an abundance of close friends that I have known since elementary/high school. Friends that are forever friends and aren’t going anywhere even if they were to move cross-country. We will always be friends.

Church! We are a part of a small group at church, made of several couples in our same age group who are in the same stage of life as we are.

If you are a church-goer and your church offers small groups where you can connect with other members of the church, I strongly urge you to find a group you can connect with and start going to a small group! It took a while for us to find a group that we connected with, but it was worth every bit of effort it took to finally find this group of people who are now like family to us.

Neighborhood! Don’t be afraid to talk to your neighbors! This day and age is so strange when it comes to neighbors! For 3 years, I lived right next door to a woman I consider a good friend now. When we lived next door to each other, we did the usual neighborly “Hi, how are you?” and that was basically it. They moved and we became friends on Facebook and talked more through Facebook than we ever did in person when we lived right next door to each other! She is expecting now and oh how I wish we still were neighbors and could go on walks together with our babies in their Britax B-Ready strollers! (She is the one who told me about the stroller!)

So my point is…if you see a SAHM always out in the neighborhood, go up and make friends! The neighbor to our left is a SAHM with her two young children. Little Bug LOVES the little girl who lives there. If she is out playing, Little Bug wants to go play with her. We often let our kids play together while we talk and enjoy some adult interaction!

 

What exactly is her birth story?

I was not present for Sweet Pea’s birth because of certain circumstances I can’t go into now.

The way I understand it, Sweet Pea was born at 7:55am via c-section and her birth mother saw her for about five minutes. Because of the rH factor, Sweet Pea was whisked away soon after her birth so the aggressive treatment for this condition could begin immediately.

Sweet Pea was born at one hospital and then was transferred to another hospital about four hours after her birth.

Once at the second hospital she was treated for the rH factor with triple phototherapy lights and a blood transfusion a few days after her birth.

We met Sweet Pea on August 4th – two days after her birth. She was about 1.5 hours away from our home town. When the lawyer text me saying the TPR had been signed, we jumped in the car to go meet our baby girl.

While I was not there for Sweet Pea’s birth, I was given an equally amazing gift: The very first time I ever laid eyes on Sweet Pea, she was completely mine.

It’s a moment I will never forget – just like those precious moments after Little Bug’s birth as I stood right there in the delivery room as she made her grade entrance into this world.

Our Sweet Pea

Sweet Pea

August 2, 2011

7:55am

6lbs. 5oz.

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Holding my baby girl for the very first time

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I asked Dave how he felt about being the only male in our family.

He said, “Like a king!”

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Blessed Beyond Measure

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To God be the glory, great things HE has done!

VICTORY!

SHE IS OURS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I am about to lay eyes on my daughter for the very first time.

And she is already mine.

Do you know where I was three years ago today?

Crying torrents of tears after getting word that my first IUI had failed and I was not pregnant.

God has certainly taken my tears and turned them to tears of JOY.

Two miracles in two years.

Give it to God and this is what He does.

God is faithful!

God is in control!

TO GOD BE THE GLORY!

Satan hates that

Why so downcast O my soul? Put your hope in GOD!

Satan is so slick. You know this is his delay, right?

He figured, since he can’t have ultimate victory, he’d cause some turmoil.

Turmoil caused…check.

Satan HATES what is happening today.

In the last 48 hours I have had countless people tell me they are praying. Several have said they are praying on their knees.

Satan hates that.

The peace in my heart? Well, remember Satan seeks to kill, steal and destroy?

He’s is trying to kill my peace.

But my God has an everlasting supply of HIS PEACE and as long as I stay connected to Him, I have everlasting peace, too.

Satan hates that.

Adoption?

It is a picture of what God did for you and me when he died on the cross to pay for our sins.

Satan hates that.

God’s Plan will prevail.

We must sit tight and hold on for the last ride on this crazy journey called adoption.

No matter the outcome, God is in control and VICTORY IS HIS.

And Satan can’t stand even the thought of that.

Why so downcast, O my soul? Put your hope in God. Psalm 42:11

You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You. Isaiah 26:3

TPR delayed until 12:30pm

As the title says, TPR has been delayed.

Please pray that God would open the doors WIDE for TPR to happen this afternoon.

How am I?

Frustrated, but at peace.

God’s Got This.

This is HIS delay and actually, from His perspective, it is no delay at all.

Everything happens in His perfect time.

I feel HEAVY attacks from Satan. Please pray I will find my strength in the LORD to wait however much longer we must wait.

Plead the blood of Jesus over everyone involved.

To God be the glory because this is HIS!

TPR tomorrow, 8am

The TPR is scheduled for tomorrow morning at 8am!!  
 
Please pray for us as we walk IN FAITH these the final hours of this journey.
 
Please pray that God will pave the way for Emily and her office tomorrow as they have this meeting.

Please pray and BIND SATAN from having any reign whatsoever in anything that happens tomorrow.

Every time Satan has attempted to attack me today, I have rebuked him in the name of Jesus. He really does have to flee! It’s worked every time. Satan has had NO reign on my life through this. I belong to JESUS.

Pray for Melody tomorrow morning and then pray for Emily as she gets cleared in the hospital to have legal access to the baby once TPR is signed.
 
There is peace in my heart because God is in control (I know I have said that a MILLION times) of ALL of this.

I’m ready for the final ride tomorrow morning to the finish line.
 
Thank you for praying.