Friday, September 30, 2011

Dear Miriam----one more thing....


Today marks the third occasion on which you have pooped on your daddy.  All three times---this unfortunate event has been accompanied by a change of clothes for both parties involved in the incident---that is---you and your father.  Strangely enough---though I am the person that you spend the majority of your time with---(since your daddy is kind enough to work so that I can stay home with you this year)----you have not yet managed to poop on me..........Nice work.  Your mother loves you.



Thursday, September 29, 2011

Hello My Baby

I can't remember precisely the first time I saw this little cartoon.  But I'm sure it was in my childhood---and it has stuck with me for some thirty odd years.  I can so relate to the guy with his dancing frog that only dances for him and him alone---and whenever he tries to share this marvel.....ribbit.  It's such an awesome metaphor for so many things.  Have you ever known someone who only acted a certain way in front of you---so that if you ever expressed your discomfort about being around said individual---everyone thought you were crazy.  Because as far as anyone else can tell--that individual was perfectly nice and civil at all times.  Ribbit.  When I played the flute in my high school band and in a college ensemble as well---there was a well known joke among musicians about broken or finicky instruments.  A key might stick---or an obtrusive and inadvertent squeak might emit from a properly played instrument---but such things only happen during rehearsals or at home----and never at the repair shop.  When the repairman goes to play your instrument---everything is just fine and dandy thank you very much.  Ribbit.  Until you get back home, that is---and the same problem you already knew existed---comes right back to haunt you once more.  "Hello, my baby---hello my honey...."  Today it comes to mind---because as Miriam's napping--I'm running some laundry---and doing some housecleaning---and every once in a while---I hear her just wail on the monitor---so I take off running into her room---and find her sleeping peacefully---her face as tranquil and calm as still waters on a cloudless day.  Ribbit.  So then---I get nervous and poke her.  Squeak--still alive and kicking.  And I go on with my business.  

Oh yeah---and just in case you want to watch the whole clip---so that you too can think to yourself:  Ribbit whenever this kind of thing happens to you (which it invariably will----c'est la vie! )---here's the link:

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Poking the baby

When Miriam first came home---I worried constantly about her.  I worried when she cried---but then I worried when she didn't cry as well.  It's the worrying about her when she didn't cry that led to my newest hobby:  poking the baby.  I am scared of SIDS.  And sometimes, when I would peer into Miriam's bassinet----she would be so still and serene---and I would become deathly afraid that she wasn't breathing.  So--I'd poke her---and she would squirm uncomfortably and make a little annoyed squeak---but I would feel immensely better.  And it turns out---poking the baby is addictive.  Once you've poked the baby and experienced the relief of knowing that she's still alive---still capable of responding to stimulus---well then, you're just that much quicker to poke her once more the next time you feel a little uneasy about how long she's been quiet.  So, I started poking her quite a lot.  Stuart began to tell me:  "Ashley, stop poking the baby."  And that just led to me poking her in secret, when Stu wasn't paying attention.  Furtive poking---still gets the job done.  Anywho---I am glad to report though, that the frequency in which I poke the baby has declined considerably since Miriam first came home.  I still poke her sometimes---but not nearly as much as I used to.  I think I'm finally settling down into a place where I can believe that everything's going to be ok.  The revocation period is over with---and that fact has lessened my general anxiety significantly.  And Miriam is on a pretty regular schedule---I know when to expect her to be active or sleepy--or hungry.  She has some very predictable patterns---which puts me at ease.  And so--the need to poke her every half hour or so (ok fifteen minutes)---has lessened.  But then again---there are still those moments when nothing will do but a little poke----as long as Stuart isn't looking.  :)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Dear Miriam

Dear Miriam,

Today your daddy and I gave you your first real bath.  Because it is my sincere hope that you will not detest me when you are an adolescent---I neglected to take pictures of this auspicious event.  You're welcome---and don't worry---I'm sure I will find countless other ways to embarrass you should I develop the desire to do so at a later date.  For now---I'll settle for recounting the details in word alone.  You really hated your bath.  You fooled us at first---because when we washed your hair---you didn't seem to mind at all.  However, as we moved south of your head to your neck, arms and belly---your attitude followed in kind.  My, my---but you have a healthy set of lungs on you.  But then, I find it reassuring that you are never inconsolable.  All it takes to quiet you is for us to pick you up in our arms---and swing you about in time to a song---or maybe just a nice steady, comforting beat.

You smiled at me over and over and over again today.  (Not during bath time, of course.  That is a different matter entirely.)  I don't care what anyone says---you know what you're doing when you lift the corners of your mouth and give me that toothless little grin.  Already, you have a smile that reaches your eyes and sets them alight.  Some people go their whole lives and never accomplish the trick of smiling with their eyes.  And here you are--a mere three weeks old---already pulling it off with aplomb.  More evidence that you are indeed a genius----at least in essential matters such as heartfelt smiles, anyhow.

Your daddy and I both love to read to you.  We know you can't understand our words yet.  But you seem to love to be read to in spite of that fact.  You lie happily in our arms, and you watch our faces as we read---until you fall asleep--and then you just snore.  But it's ok---little babies like you have cute little snores.  It's nothing to be ashamed of, really.  But since you do seem to sleep through a good portion of your stories---I'm keeping up with some of the more important passages for you, here.  This way---you can refer back to them later---when you're old enough to understand.  Today, we read you the story of Moses leading God's people out of slavery.  It's quite an exciting story---and the whole thing is vastly important.  But for now---this is the part that I will set aside---especially for you.

"But there's nothing we can do!"  They screamed
"God knows you can't do anything!  Moses said.  "God will do it for you.  Trust Him.  And watch!"
"But there's no way out!"  they cried.
"God will make a way!"  Moses said.

This is important because, unfortunately, there will be times when it feels as if there is nothing you can do----even when you desperately want to do something.  But we should look upon these times as reminders that we are not in control of anything---and that God is control of everything.  He has a plan---and it is good.  It is better than anything you or I could ever dream of---and He will always make a way for that plan to be seen to its completion.  It's up to Him---not us---to see it through.  We merely have to trust Him and live in obedience to Him.  And watch!  Because God does some pretty spectacular things.  And yet---it is possible to miss these spectacular things----if you're not paying attention.  So always pay attention Miriam---and I'll try to pay attention too.  Because there are many wonders to behold.  And as far as I'm concerned---you are most definitely one of them.

God gave us something truly beautiful when He brought you to us.  And your daddy and I are giving thanks continually to God every day.  I imagine we will be thanking Him for the rest of our lives, in fact.  For we love you very very much.  And we always will.


Sunday, September 25, 2011

"A Wrinkle in Time" by Madeline L'Engle

Sorry for all the book quotes.  We've had three weeks of reading---and I'm trying to catch up with the quotes.  Later---I intend to do this on a monthly basis or something---whenever we finish a book. This is for me and for Miriam more than anything else.  For further explanation, you can read the post from "The Little Prince"

"But you see, Meg, just because we don't understand doesn't mean that the explanation doesn't exist."

"Like and equal are not the same thing at all!"

"We do not know what things look like, as you say," the beast said.  "We know what things are like.  It must be a very limiting thing, this seeing."

"The only way to cope with something deadly serious is to try to treat it a little lightly."

".....It is a very strict form of poetry, is it not?"
"There are fourteen lines, I believe, all in iambic pentameter.  That's a very strict rhythm or meter, yes?"
"Yes," Calvin nodded.
"And each line has to end with a rigid rhyme pattern.  And if the poet does not do it exactly this way, it is not a sonnet, is it?"
"But within this strict form the poet has complete freedom to say whatever he wants, doesn't he?"
"Yes." Calvin nodded again.
"So," Mrs. Whatsit said.
"So what?"
"Oh, do not be stupid, boy!" Mrs Whatsit scolded.  "You know perfectly well what I am driving at!"
"You mean you're comparing our lives to a sonnet?  A strict form, but freedom within it?"
"Yes."  Mrs Whatsit said.  "You're given the form, but you have to write the sonnet yourself.  What you say is completely up to you."  

"The Little Prince"

These past few days, I read "The Little Prince" byAntoine de Saint-Exupery to Miriam.  As an explanation---we've been told to always keep Miriam up for half an hour after she eats to prevent tummy troubles.  As you can imagine---it is difficult to stay awake for that extra half an hour at three in the morning and such---so I read to her.  But it's more for me than for her---though I think she does enjoy the cadence of our voices---as she tends to peer at me with something akin to interest as I read.  Still---if you asked her for a plot summary---she would probably only burp.  Her uncle Jake should be proud of this response.  :)  So---I quite enjoyed the story---I'd read it before---but had forgotten a lot---and I decided to jot down a few of my favorite quotes from the book.  FYI---don't read this book to a child who's old enough to understand the plot---as the ending is somewhat disturbing.

The rose to the little prince:  "Well I must endure the presence of two or three caterpillars if I wish to become acquainted with the butterflies."

"Grownups never understand anything by themselves, and it's boring for children to have to be always and forever explaining things to them."

'But if you don't tie him,' I said, 'he will wander off somewhere and get lost.'
My new little friend burst out laughing again:
'But where do you think he would go?'
'Anywhere. Straight ahead in any direction.'
'That doesn't matter.  Where I live, everything is so small.'
And with maybe a bit of sadness, he added:
'Straight ahead of him, nobody can go very far.....'

"The flowers have been growing thorns for millions of years.  For millions of years the sheep have been eating them just the same.  And is it not something important to try to understand why the flowers go to so much trouble to grow thorns which are never of any use to them?"

"I didn't know what to say to him.  I felt awkward and blundering.  I didn't know how I could reach him.  It is such a secret place, the land of tears."

"Then you shall judge yourself," the king answered.  "that is the most difficult thing of all.  It is much more difficult to judge oneself than to judge others.  If you succeed in judging yourself rightly, then you are indeed a man of true wisdom."

The conceited man:  "To admire means that you regard me as the handsomest, the best dressed, the richest, and the most intelligent man on this planet.'
'But you are the only man on your planet!'
'Do me this kindness.  Admire me just the same.'
'I admire you,' said the little prince, shrugging his shoulders slightly, 'but what is there in that to interest you so much?'

.....repeated the little prince, who never in his life had let go of a question once he had asked it.

"Where are the men?"  the little prince at last took up the conversation again.  "It is a little lonely in the desert...."
"It is also lonely among men," the snake said.

"....What does that mean----'tame'?"
"It is an act too often neglected," said the fox.  "It means to establish ties."
"To establish ties?"
"Just that," said the fox.  "To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys.  And I have no need of you.  And you, on your part, have no need of me.  To you, I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes.  But if you tame me, then we shall need each other.  To me, you will be unique in all the world.  To you, I shall be unique in all the world...."

"Goodbye," said the fox.  "And now here is my secret, a very simple secret:  It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye."

"But I was not reassured.  I remembered the fox.  One runs the risk of weeping a little, if one lets himself be tamed...."

Miriam's first Bible

Gran and Pop gave Miriam her first Bible.  It is called "The Jesus Storybook Bible"  and it is awesome.  It reiterates over and over again how God loves us with a "Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love."  We read from this Bible every day---here's a quote from last night's story, it is the concluding paragraph from the story of Joseph and his coat of many colors:

One day, God would send another Prince, a young Prince whose heart would break.  Like Joseph, he would leave His home and His Father.  His brothers would hate him and want him dead.  He would be sold for pieces of silver.  He would be punished even though he had done nothing wrong.  But God would use everything that happened to this young Prince---even the bad things---to do something good:  to forgive the sins of the whole world.

Three weeks old today

Miriam is three weeks old today.  She came home from the hospital weighing 6 pounds and 4 ounces.  She weighed in at her two week appointment at 7 pound 11 ounces.  Girlfriend likes her milk.

Miriam smiles at us sometimes, especially during "music" time.  I have a playlist of cute little action songs---and Stuart and I move her little arms and legs in the manner suggested by the songs.  This would be highly annoying should someone attempt these maneuvers on Stuart or on myself--but Miriam seems to love it.  And though I've been told that smiles at this point are merely gas---(which if true would make for another proud moment for Uncle Jake)----I don't believe it---mostly because the smiles come most regularly during music time.

Our schedule right now goes something like this:  Feed Miriam for half an hour--Tummy time with Miriam for 10 minutes or until she gets fussy  (as you can see from the pic on the left sidebar---sometimes tummy time is a team sport)----Music time with Miriam for a half hour---sometimes more if she's really into it---story time with Miriam for another half hour or so or until she falls asleep.  She is napping pretty regularly at three hour intervals---except at night.  Don't hate me---but Miriam sleeps REALLY well at night---for 4-5 hour intervals---which is absolutely heaven since she started at only two hour intervals when she first came home.  I think it helps that she is SO alert during the day.  She is holding her head up really well during tummy time---and even the pediatrician commented on how interactive she is.  When I told him that she stays awake for 2-3 hours at a time many times throughout the day---he said that was unusual--but not a bad thing---that she was learning---absorbing things/taking it all in.  Of course I interpreted this to mean that she's a genius.  Really, what else could he have meant?

In short---I love being a mom.  Stu loves being a dad.  And Miriam-----Miriam loves to eat.  That's it for now.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Lullaby---the final verse

So there you are
So small and frail
Each tiny feature
Etched in fine detail
And when your fingers
Deftly twine
In trust unspoken
'Round mine,
Love's design
Will loose a cry
That echoes in
Sweet lullabies.
Deep within your heart
May seeds of faith be rooted well
That in sadness or in joy--
God is the same--Immanuel.
And His hands
Will guard your sleep
In dreams
So still and deep
While lullabies
That ebb and flow
Hum and sing
In voices low,
From love's well
That never dries
But ripples out
In lullabies.
Rest your head
Close your eyes
And listen to
The lullabies.

Gifts Beyond Measure....

Monday, September 12

So---I had a rather uncanny dream a few days ago.  And I suppose you could dismiss it as just my subconscious  rising to the surface in an effort to comfort me in a time of stress.  But then again--I don't really believe in the subconscious in that particular context.  Because what is it really---other than the quiet, supernatural voice of calm beneath a roar of insanity---usually manufactured by large quantities of stress.  I'm not calm under pressure---it isn't in my personality to be so----anyone who really knows me well can attest to this unfortunate fact.  But in stressful situations----especially in the kind of stressful situations where I've just completely lost control of myself---there is normally this quiet reasonable voice that actually seems capable of self reassurance----capable of counting my blessings (as my grandmother would have said)---under duress----even as the majority of my brain is occupied in just perpetuating whatever insanity it wishes to cling to when things begin to spin out of control.  The thing is---that calm, quiet voice----I don't think it's really mine.  It just isn't in line with my personality---and it isn't Jiminy Cricket whispering into my ear---and although I'd like to take some kind of credit for its existence---when I think about it critically---I cannot.  I think that calm, reassuring voice is the Holy Spirit---the counselor that Christ promised to send to us after He returned to heaven.  And I think that we---as Christians---don't always recognize the Holy Spirit as what He is---we dismiss Him as our conscious---or our sub-conscious--or instinct------our own good sense---anything of our own devising---and not as the Holy Spirit of God sent to dwell within us---and among us.  But if we did stop and recognize this gift as what it is---this gift which comes on the tail of so many other undeserved gifts---if we reflected on the true significance of this gift---I think we would be frozen in our tracks in awe of it.
     I was frozen in my tracks this past week---completely awed---as I feel that the Holy Spirit sought me out---and He gave me comfort and counsel---when I was absolutely at my wit's end.
    Saturday night (September 3) I had a dream.  I went to bed agitated and uneasy---uncertain of what the coming days would bring.  Would this child be the child we've been waiting for?  Or would this play out with us leaving the hospital with empty arms---and a heavy heart.  A verse I constructed early on in our struggles with infertility came to mind yet again---but this time within the context of our experiences with adoption:

Arms that are heavy
Still feel the weight
How absence is heavy
I can't contemplate

I fell asleep mid-prayer---not really even knowing how to pray---but trying to have faith that God would know what I was trying to communicate---even if it were garbled---and uneloquent.  I think that there comes a point in any potentially life changing situation where there are no more words----only a sense of hope which battles with a sense of fear---each gaining headway or losing hold over the other in unpredictable patterns.....In the midst of all that---I dreamed.  It was nothing spectacular---just an old woman sitting across from me, saying "You can do this.  The Holy Spirit will be with you---and among you.  You can do this...." It was like a spiritual pep talk----and I woke the next morning uneasy----with her wrinkled face still vivid in my mind.  Now don't get me wrong---I'm not like Kenneth from 30 rock (I love 30 rock)--whispering frantically about his dream journal---"They've all come true so far."  I'm not a complete nutter---but then, it was a difficult dream to dismiss.  I told Stuart I was worried---and shared the dream with him---he told me he thought that I should be comforted by the dream.  But I still felt as though something bad was about to happen.  I hadn't been promised a happy ending---only that I wouldn't be alone throughout whatever was coming---and though it comforted me to hear that I wouldn't be alone---I remained anxious about what was coming nonetheless.

    We were in the middle of Target when we got the call.  C's in labor.  Come to the hospital.  I remember excitement and panic--and not much else.  We rushed home to pick up our hospital bag and a change of clothes---thinking we'd likely be at the hospital all night.  Some time during all this rushing around, we received another phonecall---the baby had already been born.  As far as everyone knew, all was well with C and baby.

     We met an agent from Bethany at the hospital---and she walked us to C's room---where C was holding this tiny, dark-haired little bundle.  Miriam.  C offered to let me hold her---and while I know that there was conversation around me---I couldn't focus on the words---or on anything but this tiny, little face.  Miriam.  The nurse sent us out to the hallway----where Stu and I paced and tried to process everything---which proved to be quite impossible.  So---we took a few deep breaths and smiled at each other.

"You're a daddy, Stu."
"And you're a mommy."


The first few hours at the hospital were truly a gift from God.  While C rested, my family and I were permitted to hold Miriam in the hospital nursery.  My parents---my brother and sister-in-law (sister-in-heart as well by the way)---and Stu's parents as well---were all present.  It was a beautiful, precious time that I wasn't expecting to be blessed with.  And I am still extremely grateful that God blessed us with that special time.  It somewhat fortified me through the less pleasant hours that passed at the hospital later that night---and the day after.

I'm not going to get into too much about what exactly was unpleasant---that really isn't my story to share---but you can imagine how tension might run rampant in this delicate situation----where two mothers----one biological and one adoptive----both love a child very much---but have vastly different ideas of what's best for that child.  I hadn't forseen these difficulties at all---I was extremely naive---and was sorely unprepared for them when they cropped up relentlessly throughout our stay in the hospital.  I did not sleep at all Sunday night----but rather paced the floors of the fourth floor of the hospital----often standing on the other side of the nursery's glass windows---keeping my eyes glued protectively on the child I already considered to be wholly mine.

    The tension reached its boiling point Monday morning---when I excused myself from the hospital room (C had asked that we be with her during this time) sat in the waiting room and cried.  I left my husband alone in the room with C---where he told me later that he held on to his own self-control by just a thread.  My hands shook---and I was more frightened than I can ever remember being.  And there was no calm, reassuring voice beneath this sadness----no reasonable words resonated beneath the complete and utter fear that began to consume me.  And I did feel alone, completely so.  And on top of that---I had left my husband alone as well.

     And then my family came---Nikki and my mother visited with C----C wanted to meet them.  They---thankfully---joined Stu in the room with C.  Stu related to me what happened there. This visit was a good tension breaker---and a nice distraction for C.  Nikki is the daughter of a pastor---and as such---she learned from a very early age how to successfully interact with people in all kinds of circumstances (a skill that I am still sometimes sadly deficient in).  Stuart and I were totally impressed and somewhat envious of the ease in which she employed her ample humor ("Not everyone can understand baby talk---but I can---and she's saying she needs to see her Aunt Nikki for a moment)---and good natured banter to diffuse a very uncomfortable situation.   My mother expressed to C her love and her thanks---telling her that she had been praying for C--and this child---long before she'd ever met either of them---and promising that this child would be loved unconditionally throughout her life.  My mother has the grace of her mother---while I remain awkward in comparison---often attempting to express my feelings verbally---but usually failing rather miserably.  Nikki and my mother were strong where I was weak.  The Holy Spirit will be with you---among you.

  In the meantime---Jacob, my brother, immediately drew my attention to a small park across from the hospital.  When Nikki, Stuart, and my mother came back to the waiting area---Jacob drove Nikki and I over to take a walk.  The birch tree lined path with its patches of sunlight and shadow revived my spirits considerably.  In the comforting presence of my brother and Nikki---I enjoyed the mild outdoor exercise on a remarkably beautiful day---and began to feel like a human being again.  Thank you Jacob---for recognizing the need to get out of that hospital for a while when I was too frazzled to even consider such a thing.  I was lacking in wisdom---Jacob was not.  The Holy Spirit will be with you---among you.

While I was walking at the park---Stuart's mother, my father, and my mother were all with Stuart.   Stu has type 1 diabetes---and this whole stressful situation had taken its toll on him physically----but family stayed with him, surrounded him---making sure that he ate and was safe while I was away.    I was too weak to be strong for him as I wished I could have been---our families were not.  The Holy Spirit will be with you---among you.

The next day---Stu and I took a basic baby care class at the hospital with C.  The nurse who taught the class---Sherri---asked us to remain after the class was over.  She shared with us that she was an adoptive mother herself---she got a few of the details of our situation---and then quickly endeavored to make things better (although of course neither she nor any of the hospital staff were the cause of the unfortunate state of affairs)---enlisting other nurses working on the floor to aid her---and us.  She checked on us numerous times after that---stopping by with information and encouragement---in equal amounts.  I thanked her repeatedly---and my mother told her, "I think we prayed you here."  She shared that she hadn't even been planning on working today---but that a strange series of "coincidences" had resulted in her much needed presence at the hospital that particular day.  The Holy Spirit will be with you---among you.

And then there was Estella---the floor nurse who was tending to C.  Estella knew of our difficulties and made it a point to reassure us that we weren't doing anything wrong.  As first time parents, Stu and I were already terrified plenty---and when the tension of the situation exacerbated that fear to an unmanageable degree--Estella appeared---seemingly out of nowhere---with a calm, kind, no-nonsense attitude that was like a balm to our shattered confidence.  She went over and above the call of duty to ease the discomfort that had arisen.  We had been paralyzed by fear---but she was strong and she mobilized us through her unwavering support.

Of Sherri and Estella both---Nikki said:  "I wouldn't be surprised if these women didn't really exist.  We might come back tomorrow and ask for them---and no one will know who they are."  I agreed---they were angels in my estimation.  The Holy Spirit will be with you---among you.  

Indeed, I was expecting the Holy Spirit to be within me---and I'm not saying that the Holy Spirit wasn't in me--I'm sure He was---but my ability to connect to Him had been worn down from stress and fatigue.    I was in desperate need of restoration.  Don Piper describes this need for revival of spirits in his "Desiring God"--- p. 143

Every day with Jesus is not sweeter than the day before.  We know it from experience and we know it from Scripture.  For David says in Psalm 19:7, "The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul."  If every day with Jesus were sweeter than the day before, if life were a steady ascent with no dips in our affection for God, we wouldn't need to be re-vived.

In another place, David extolls the Lord with similar words:  "He leads me beside still waters.  He restores my soul." (Psalm 23:2-3).  This means David must have had bad days.

There were days when his soul needed to be restored.  It's the same phrase used in Psalm 19-:7:  "The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul."  Normal Christian life is a repeated process of restoration and renewal.  Our joy is not static.  It fluctuates with real life.......

I needed this revival of spirits---this restoration-----and I couldn't do it for myself----I was completely inept.  And I think I even quenched the God-given gift of the Holy Spirit within myself as I let my faith wither as everything seemed to be going to hell in a hand basket around me.

1 Thesallonians 5:17-19 :  Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.  Do not quench the Spirit.  

Ummm yeah---kind of missed the boat there with the whole giving thanks in all circumstances.  A little bit of adversity--and I fell apart.  Absolutely quenched the Spirit.  And wouldn't you think that God would then throw up His hands and say---ok sister---you're on your own.  Because that's what I deserved.  But God is not about giving people what they deserve.  God is about grace---God is about giving us far better than we deserve---and far more than we can even imagine.  When I quenched the Spirit within myself---God just had Him manifest through the people around me.  Over and over and over again--- through family, friends, hospital staff......I mean He bombarded me with the Spirit I had essentially rejected.  And He revived me anyhow.   How great is our God.  And Oh how He loves us.

And after two and a half long days at the hospital---finally---Miriam was discharged into our care.  Sweet, precious Miriam.  I sat in the back seat of the car with her while Stuart drove-----Miriam snored softly---I sat in awed silence---and Stuart just grinned at me through the rearview mirror.  We came home to a house decorated with pink streamers and balloons  (thank you Jacob and Nikki)---and overflowing with family.  And it was truly a perfect homecoming.  Oh yeah---and the day Miriam ended up coming home was exactly one day before my birthday.  Best birthday present----ever.

Miriam is beautiful---she is a treasure---she is a blessing beyond what we could have imagined.  And God is good to send her to us----we still walk a rocky road at this point---as C has the right to change her mind----she has signed the papers indicating that she wishes to terminate her parental rights---but there is a revocation period which will not end until Monday, September 26.   In the meantime, I am trying really hard not to quench the Spirit---but rather to do as God commands---and give thanks----which isn't too hard to do when you look into this sweet little face that loves to peer at me with eyes as big as saucers (especially at 3 in the morning)----and whose fingers wrap around mine and Stuart's with a surprising amount of strength.  We will love her for as long as we have her---and we hope that will be for a very long time.

"Something there is that doesn't love a wall....." Robert Frost

August 31, 2011

A heart that is guarded
By a stark, ungiving wall
Is just atrophied muscle
And no real heart at all.

The big day--September 4---is  incredibly slow and yet undeniably fast in its approach.  Each minute seems to last so long---I am anxious for this child to come----and yet I know it won't be much longer.  Sunday is the due date.  Today is Wednesday.

Friday---we will accompany C to another doctor's appointment.  So perhaps we will have a better idea of when the baby will arrive then.  We will also take advantage of that time to spend a little more one on one time with C.

I've blogged before about the open relationship we have always wished to have with the birthmother who would be matched with us----and about how it's important to honor C---because doing so honors our child.  I've blogged about the research which indicates that adoptive parents, children who are adopted, and mothers who have carried through with an adoption plan for their children all benefit greatly from maintaining some degree of openness---ie---birthmother may visit with child, receive letters and pictures from the adoptive parents and child herself once she's of the appropriate age.  And again---if it's good for our child---then we want to do that.  And we do want to love the people that God puts in our path, just in obedience to Him if for nothing else.

I've been reading Don Piper's "Desiring God" this week.  He talks a lot about the fact that if we delight in the love that God has poured out into us---that delight will overflow our cup---and be poured out into others.  I am convicted by this at times.  Our pastor talks a lot about how all of our relationships tend to be transactional.  We don't want to be friends with that needy person who will take up all of our time;  we don't want to enter into a relationship with someone who we know will "cheat" on us. We want to be in a relationship with someone who can do for us what we are willing to do for them. And yet---God's dealings with us are in direct contradiction to this logic.  He entered into a relationship with me---knowing full well that I can be selfish and mean---and sometimes absolutely thoughtless when absorbed in my own little world.  I can do nothing for Him---He must do everything for me.   Shouldn't that transcendent love mean something?  Shouldn't that take root in my heart more readily?  I suppose God ain't done with me yet.  I pray that He is hard at work---and that as I forge through with these new relationships---they will be guided by the Holy Spirit---and that my delight in Christ would indeed be shared, multiplied, and made complete.  I pray that God walks me through this---step by step---because I know I just can't do it alone---but then again---He's never asked me to do anything without Him---so perhaps any anxiety and uneasiness I feel is complete foolishness---start to finish.

The Ultrasound

August 22, 2011

So there you are
So small and frail
Each tiny feature
Etched in fine detail.

Today we met C and were invited to see an ultrasound of the baby.  The doctors wanted to get a good picture of her heart because during previous ultrasounds, the baby had not been in a good position to see the heart.  Today was different.  The heart was very visible on the screen, fluttering away at a rate deemed "perfect" by the ultrasound technician.

I had an ultrasound once---before I had my gall bladder removed---to confirm that I did indeed have gallstones..... Needless to say---it's just not the same.   They don't give you a picture---where you can say--"and see---this one has Stuart's nose"....etc.  Not nearly as exciting---I'm just sayin'.

Did you know that you can see hair on an ultrasound?  It took me aback.  Those little tufts of fuzz covering her tiny little head.  Also---I think she's going to be a gymnast---because she spent a good portion of the time with her feet up on her head.

Praise our Father---it looks that everything is where it's supposed to be---from her tiny fingers to her tiny toes.  And it felt surreal to be there---taking in our first real glimpse of this sweet child's delicate features.

  There's a lot to think about right now.  My thoughts seem to be chasing themselves in circles, each one yapping at the tail of the one in front of it.  I wonder if she's really ours.  I wonder what our role is in this situation.  Are we being called to be this child's parents----or are we being called to be there for a young lady who just needs someone to be there with her.  I wonder how we will feel if we do need to leave the hospital with no baby because this isn't our baby after all.  I know God will get us through whatever happens next-----but I still have some anxiety about repeating one more strain of the same song yet again.  C wants us to be in the room with her when the baby is born.  I wonder how we'll fare with that.  My mom faints at the mere mention of blood---I'm not quite that bad---but nor have I ever been in a situation where large quantities of blood are present.  I'm not getting light-headed thinking about it---so maybe that's a good sign?  We'll see. Here's hoping that neither Stu nor I pass out.  That would be mildly inconvenient.  At the same time that I'm worried----I'm also excited and awed to be at the birth---because---bloody, scary, messy, whatever---it's still a miracle.  Of that I have no doubt.  

All right little one---  You weighed 7 pounds today---and your head is down---ready to greet the world in God's timing.  You're only 38 weeks old today----but already---you're beautiful and precious in our sight.    May God be with you and with C and with us in the coming weeks.


Deep within your heart
May seeds of faith be rooted well
That in sadness or in joy--
God is the same---Immanuel.

August 16, 2011
Let me preface this post by saying that I'm trying something a little different.  I'm writing this post with the intention of not "publishing" it until the baby that we are expecting to arrive actually arrives.  Those of you who follow this blog know that we have had two adoptions fall through.  And don't get me wrong here--we're ok.  We really are.  We know that God's plan is the only plan that matters---we know that His timing is the perfect timing.  And we know that we're only one tiny dot in the picture that is in God's panoramic view.  But still---I won't lie and say it wasn't hard---- and I think that's why I'm feeling the need to play this portion of our story a little bit closer to my heart.

So why blog at all?  I'm much more of a writer than a talker---give me a quiet room and a piece of paper---and I can work out my feelings and reflect on the meaning of the things that happen to me or the things that I observe.  Words don't come to me easily in the moment---and I'm not often able to talk things out until they make sense.  I've often regretted that my personality is so introverted---and it goes against my nature to be as open as I've been on this blog.  However, my hope is that someone will stumble on this account---someone who has been in similar circumstances that can relate to me and can find hope in my family's story---or maybe someone who doesn't know Christ as their savior.  My loftiest hope is that this blog can serve, not only as a record of this special time in my life, but also as a witness to the most important story---the story of God loving us---even as He knows we will make a mess of everything----God entering into fellowship with us by coming in the form of Jesus to sacrifice Himself for us----"that whosoever believeth in Him might have everlasting life."  I've never been a very good witness for Christ---I have stayed silent even when I felt convicted to speak---I have let opportunities to share the gospel---which should be good news that I want to share----pass me by over and over again. My life has not always reflected the light of Christ into this shadowed world the way that it should  And so I hope that maybe---this time---as I have seen God walking steadfastly and faithfully beside Stuart and I during good times as well as during difficult times---I can provide some testimony that will find its way into the ears of someone who needs to hear it.   Testimony that God is good---and faithful---no matter our circumstances.

We're expecting a baby girl.  She's due September 4---though her birthmother expects that she will make her way into the world sooner than that.  We'll see.  I will refer to the birthmother as C from here on out. Here are the reasons that C gave us for choosing us as the adoptive parents for her child:
C loves to crochet---and I had in our profile book that I loved to knit.
C has a knack for numbers and loves Sudoku puzzles---as does my husband.
C wanted someone who was musically inclined who valued education.  I'm a music teacher.
C wants the child to be raised in a Christ centered home, which is something Stu and I want for our child as well.
C wants her child to be a gift to a couple who desperately desire children---but who are unable to have them.

Our first meeting with C was much more comfortable than any of our other meetings.  C is easy to talk to, full of laughter, and she truly seems to be a person who lives in the delight of fellowship/relationship with God.  C said that everything in our profile book just clicked with her---and that she felt that God was leading her to us.  C told us that she felt differently about this child---she said that she loved her---but that she didn't feel that this child was really hers---but that rather God was using her womb to bless someone else---to bless Stuart and I.  I told her that I couldn't even understand how she was even thinking about us---and our happiness---in the face of her own sacrifice.  (I don't think I said it that succinctly---but it was something to that effect) ----which brought her to tears---which subsequently brought me to tears. Actually, it was pretty much a room full of tears.  But these weren't the sobs of a heartbroken woman as we had experienced before---but rather the tears of someone who desperately wanted God to work her life---even the parts of her life she feels were "mistakes"---for good.  She told us that she just knew that something good was going to happen today.....   And the meeting proceeded---to us it felt very comfortable---and very positive.  And we left the agency feeling cautiously hopeful.  Maybe this will be the child that God intends for us to have....Maybe this will be the young lady God intends to weave into our lives.....Maybe.....

Let's play a game of what if's for a minute.  I know it's a dangerous game---but I just can't resist.  What if this is indeed the child God has planned for us to have?   How crazy would that be?  One of the initial reasons that C gave for being drawn to us was that I knit.  There's only one reason that I knit---it's because a few years back I stupidly stood on a chair as I was stapling the border on the strip above the chalkboard in my classroom---I lost my balance---and I fell and broke my ankle.  I had a lot of nerve damage---which resulted in a fiery, "creepy, crawly" kind of pain that the pills they gave me couldn't really touch.  I was unable to sleep any significant amount of time for a couple of months---and I was slowly going crazy(and taking everyone around me along for the ride, I might add.)  I found that if I had something crafty to occupy my hands---I could play a little mind trick on my body---and that I didn't feel the discomfort quite as much.  I learned to knit---mostly practicing in the middle of the night through the wee hours of the morning while my husband slept--- and throughout most of the day---especially during the time when I was supposed to stay off my ankle completely while leaving it elevated---above the level of my heart.  (There's not a lot you can do from that position)  I would have gone absolutely insane without the knitting.  The percocet made it difficult to read---the words would "swim" when I tried to focus---and while knitting on percocet is something of an adventure as well---it was manageable---and it dulled the nerve pain through a trick of the mind.  I never would have learned to knit had I not broken my ankle.  I am not a crafty person---nor am I a particularly patient person.  But it's true that sometimes your limitations can bring about hidden strengths.  I've blogged before that during that time---Stu and I were praying fervently for a child.  And now I can't help but think---if I'd never learned to knit---would C still have been drawn to us as adoptive parents?  Did God have it all figured out even then?  Of course He did---but isn't it crazy to think that in the midst of our weaknesses----there's God---weaving in and out  of His tapestry in intricate patterns that we can't even begin to fathom----working for good.

Today, Stu and I met C for a doctor's appointment.  C really wants us to come to the doctor's appointments with her once a week.

We heard the baby's heartbeat for the first time.  

I'm just going to give that sentence some space to breathe.  I can't really describe how it felt to be there---and to hear that tiny, thumping heartbeat----there are no words.    We are joyful, hopeful, expectant parents.

For a while---Stu and I were trying to keep a foot in two worlds.  In one world--we were already the parents of this little girl----preparing the nursery, switching from blues to pinks, and our hearts were filled to bursting.   In the other world---we were the people who have been hurt twice---and we are scared of being hurt again.   We tried to maintain a balance of elated anticipation and caution.  It has become difficult to do that now.  It is impossible for us to hear the beating of this child's heart---and not jump into the world of "This is our baby!  Celebrate with us!"  So that's what we're doing---our hearts are invested---how could they not be?  And should things not pan out as we hope----then may God let us just be two more people who loved this child---and loved her mother as well.

God is sovereign---God is good---no matter what.