Thursday, December 01, 2016

Fall Feels.

I took a back-to-school break from blogging, but had no intentions of not writing for so long. This fall has been very interesting with lots of changes at work and a lot of long days. As I might have mentioned way back in AUGUST (egads!), both Jake and I have new administrators at work, and anytime that happens, you can expect a season of change and adjustment as leadership norms as expectations are different. My school had, unfortunately, taken a negative turn and made a D on our school report card, and although I personally had good scores and good growth in my students, there were still LOTS of new expectations, a new room, a new schedule, new teammates, and new work to be done. Makinzy played two sports this fall, AND has joined the band (playing flute like Mama did!) and is doing the Junior League Cotillon (much needed - she is learning so much… we wanted her to learn how to socialize with boys with class and tact, and this has been a HUGE help. Crushes on boys aren’t inherently bad for a 6th grade girl, but how dramatic she is and the choices she makes in how she expresses that can be… but, mom digresses...). So many extra things on our plate this fall! Plus what crazy weather! I hate to “blog about the weather” but it’s been an integral part of the stress of the season. The flooding and fear from Hurricane Matthew (and worrying over my coastal friends), then the extreme months-long drought (what even is rain!?) and the heartbreaking wildfires in the mountains I adore - Lake Lure, Blowing Rock, South Mountain, and now, Gatlinburg. Places I know and love!  So… yeah, a difficult fall indeed.

Not to mentions the one thing everyone asks me about the most… the waiting. Y’all. I don’t know why I expected this not to be difficult. I mean, everything we do regarding having children is difficult. I said, “Oh, I’m not worried about the wait!” and legitamitely thought it would be a few months and we’d have some “hits” and it would just work out. And now it’s almost Christmas. After my last (and let’s hope, final) miscarriage last November, I was truly miserable. I almost considered going back to our grief therapist (no shame - #mentalhealthmatters #endthestigma) but I knew I was just realistically and rationally sad about the idea of losing the hope and possibility of carrying and birthing a child, not clinically depressed. I was just too sad to enjoy Christmas, and the new year brought the hope of a second adoption. We resolved to jump in full force. And I actually thought I would have a baby home in my arms at Christmas. A little chubby cheek to kiss. Oh, I can’t go imagining too much or I cry. I never thought I’d still be feeling so empty and incomplete at Christmastime. I have people daily ask, “Hey, where’s that baby?” or “Still no baby?” and I literally have to control my hands to keep from lunging at their throat. I mean, uh duh, he or she would be in my arms. We’d be at home, skin to skin, bonding. Bye, girl, bye. I know they mean nothing by it, but I still feel such things, every single time.

A notification from our adoption agency did finally come right before Thanksgiving, but it didn’t work out. It was for a baby in a situation that just wouldn’t have fit. Not that we were being “picky.” I can’t go into much detail, but let’s just say her extensive needs were more than we could financially and emotionally bear, considering the amount of money we earn, our previous losses and own emotional baggage, and keeping in mind Makinzy’s needs too. Saying “no” was so very hard. I wanted to hear God say “YES! THIS IS IT!” and feel the thump on my heart, the almost-audible voice, the same as I did when I heard about Mak… but I didn’t. So I do feel peace that we were being obedient to God’s direction… but it still hurts to say no to this precious child. And so, back to waiting… STILL.

A friend I have (we met a wedding a year ago) is has written a book (to be released TOMORROW 12/2!) called SanctiFly Chicks, and her faith-inspired posts online have been super inspirational to me. Recently, she asked if she could feature my testimony on her page as she has been profiling “SanctiFly Chicks” on her page. I was honored to be asked to share, and the feedback has been overwhelmingly uplifting. I have to constantly remind myself that God is weaving the tapestry that tells the story of my life… and this waiting… and the last five years of joy and heartbreak are part of that. I cannot dictate God’s plan for me. And right now, His plan is to wait. My one hope for the end of my life is that people will say I lived a life that pointed to Him. That He was the source of my strength in my trials, the One who received the glory of my blessings, and the one who I obeyed even in hard times.

So we wait. With expectation. With pain. With joy. With open hearts to share our story.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

A Silver-lined Summer

Blogging for many years has enabled me to see certain patterns or seasons in my life over the course of time. It seems there are years or seasons when I pour out thoughts post after post, and other drier times when I am only posting the occasional life update for the sake of doing it. It seems 2016 is a dry year.

We finished school in June, my second year in KM, and Jake’s first as an assistant principal. We’ve both grown in our roles professionally, and it is good to know that, while we may change schools or positions and it might not be the same year-to-year, we are in a school district we like, in a community that we enjoy, and in a field we are thriving in. We ended the year knowing the 16-17 year will be different because we both have new bosses and very dynamically changing school cultures with new procedures and new expectations. We couldn’t be more happy about the positive changes that have already happened. I moved classrooms and had a minor freak out because the room was significantly smaller, but I got to have pretty paint color and I have a giant window that gives me a great view and so much natural light. Totally found the silver lining. I can’t believe school starts back so soon, and I am, of course, getting the August Angsts, complete with tummy aches.

This summer was a little less adventurous (in an effort to save money for the adoption) than most for us, all though we did stay busy. Jake and I chaperoned a youth trip in June, we went to Oak Island in July with my parents (and that was an adventure, indeed, thanks to a really bad first day… but all was good, especially the flounder I cooked and ate, haha) and then Jake and I went to the mountains for a cheap getaway full of hiking while Mak was at children’s camp. I also took a few days recently to visit Whitney in Georgetown and spent some much needed time on Pawleys Island.

We also threw ourselves into nesting and adoption preparation. We launched a new fundraiser (COFFEE BEANS!) and completed the nursery! That in itself was a huge task! All that’s left to do is get the comfy rocking chair where we will likely spend a lot of time.

I think this summer has a had a theme of waiting. There’s a song that says “Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord,” and I do feel like that’s exactly what’s happening in our lives. We have completed everything and are in the “waiting” stage with the adoption, and we are waiting patiently (after a year+) for our house to sell. But these, too, have silver linings. The longer we wait on Baby Wilson to rock our world, the more time we have to fundraise and prep, and the longer we pay on our house, the more we can afford to spend on a new house. See, He is totally using this time to strengthen us. Each challenge has silver linings.

Mak is getting ready to start 6th grade and is everything middle school related - the attitude, interests, and all...  It’s SO much easier to deal with this as a teacher than a parent. Not to mention that her biomom (hi there, if you read this) has now been released from prison, and now we are navigating that relationship, setting expectations, and figuring it all out.  Mak is up in her feelings about it, and seems to be genuinely excited, but I know her well enough to know that if you scratch below, there’s anger/fear too. As parents, we want to just sever the ties just to prevent her from getting hurt again, as a form of protection from let-down and awkwardness and possibilities. But we know that’s not how to handle the situation. Sticking to our word and keeping her best interests (not just want we want as adults) will get us through, and a stronger relationship all around could be a silver lining. Stressful, yes. But nothing about adopting Mak was without stress or complication, so yolo. He’s got this handled, too.

My absence from blogging and limiting this post to just this little update goes to show just why I hold onto this little corner of the web. I don’t blog for readers or clicks. I blog for me and always have. It will be awesome to read about what we were going through in 2016, just as is is now to look back (and laugh) and newlywed life in 2008 and 2009… Or ha, the woes of 2011. It’s a peek into my mind during ups and downs of the last ten years. How amazing. I can’t help but wonder when the market will be over saturated with bloggers. I mean, anyone can be a lifestyle blogger. It takes commitment and time, an eye for design and photography, and a willingness to write. Wit and charm are pluses. I never want to be mistaken for a lifestyle blogger. No no. I am grateful to have a place to record and review all craziness of this adventure. And if you read along too, that’s pretty cool.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

On breasts, babies, and the Blood.

So it’s been an interesting week.

  • I graduate May 14. All that stands between me and completing grad school is one final exam.

  • The EOGs are in just two weeks. Just a month or so stands between me and summer break (joy!) and telling my 8th grade babies goodbye (sadness!) and much, much more time for family and friends.

  • We’re almost done with adoption things (other than the obvious fundraising efforts…) and we’re just a few short meetings away from the waiting-to-be-matched stage. (EKK!)

  • We’re selling our house, and are just waiting for the right person to come along and make an offer (finally).

In other words, this, dear friends, is a very very busy, exciting time in our lives.

This week, specifically Tuesday, threw me a curveball, stopped me in my tracks, and threatened to put a rather large kink in our everything’s-crazy-but-chugging-right-along life...

I had been recommended by my ob/gyn after having my IUD put in (once we made peace with and decided to stop trying have successful pregnancy and pursue adoption fully) to have genetic counseling to see if I was a candidate for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genetic testing… those genes that cause cancer. I had been very familiar with this testing since I took a course on breast cancer studies in college and it has always been an interest of mine. I knew I had some family history (an aunt and great grandmother with breast cancer, a grandfather with prostate), but no first degree relative - not a mother or sister- so therefore, I might be a little higher than some, but not much. I mentioned an early mammogram, and my ob/gyn again mentioned the testing so I went. I had the counseling, and it was determined I had enough family history to warrant the blood test. It would cost a couple hundred dollars (doesn’t everything?) but it seemed worth it for the peace of mind that it wasn’t an issue, and I had plenty of time for a mammogram later like most folks. I was shown tons of little pie charts and graphs, and I left the cancer center convinced of two things. 1) There was such a statistically low chance I would have it, I wouldn’t loose sleep over it (and didn’t). And 2) If I did have it, seeing all those chemotherapy patients made me completely sure that if I by some chance did have it, I would do anything not to have to go through that horror.

Tuesday, my geneticist called and said I tested positive. I have a 60-87% chance of developing cancer. My mutation is the BRCA2 gene, which has a tendency to be lower risk than BRCA1 but tends to produce the more aggressive and less responsive variety of cancer.

The typical recommended treatment (from the most conservative to the most aggressive) for someone with a risk so high is -
  1. Close surveillance (meaning mammograms and breast MRIs done every 6 months)
  2. 5 years of pre-chemotherapy (tamoxifen) - meaning taking this cancer drug to prevent cancer (but enduring some pretty icky side effects for such a time)
  3. Prophylactic mastectomy (meaning removal of both breasts, with the option of reconstructive surgery… aggressive, but shown to have the best result in radical decrease in cancer risk.)

I am hoping to breastfeed the new baby (yes, it is possible, it’s a real thing adoption people do, and it really works), so I am also in the midst of working a way to manipulate my hormones to make that happen… while trying to prevent pregnancy (and another miscarriage). Now let’s throw in an oncologist into the party and try to prevent cancer at the same time. Sheesssh. Ain’t nothing easy. I have been so excited to try the adoptive breastfeeding method, and now it looks like it will be good for both me and the baby. Breastfeeding for more than 1-2 years can significantly lower risks for breast cancer, so sign me up, especially now. It’s made me that much more determined to try to make that happen.

As of now, the game plan is still largely the same. We’re moving (eventually), adopting (soon!), and enjoying the busy day by day of work and family life. But once I am done nursing my young (however many we do eventually have by whatever means), I will need to figure out what to do with my time-bombs (how, I will henceforth be referring to my breasts…). I don’t know what the next ten years holds, but I do know I will spend them very closely monitoring my breasts and ovaries as we raise the family God has planned. And in ten years or so, I will figure out if tamoxifen alone or with a mastectomy is right for me. Breasts and fertility are so intertwined in identity, feminism, and sexuality that I can’t help but feel emotionally rocked to have both parts of my sense of self damaged. I can’t bare children and now I can’t have breasts?  And yet, how much more I feel as a Christian feminist who believes God’s plan for me is so much more than can be defined by breasts and babies! Oh, how He loves me! What lifesaving power I have in knowing this information, and what life-affirming gospel power is in knowing that the only blood connection I need to solidify my identity is Christ’s blood shed on the cross. I can’t say this news wasn’t scary. It was. But at age 28, to know who and Whose you are, to know your risks and know what lies ahead - man… I am giving Him praise!

For more info on being young and BRCA positive: