Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Lessons from Mary and Joseph

I keep thinking I need to sit down and write, yet it’s that time of year when sitting down to do anything is laughable. Christmastime is go-go-go-go. Next to August, it’s my second least favorite time of the year, mainly for that reason. Call me Scrooge, but the holiday drain on both the bank account and my energy (and sometimes emotional health) as well is less than holly-jolly. I don’t like to hear of the virgin birth (because, let me be real for a second, He’s powerful enough to mysteriously impregnate a virgin, and yet our infertility?) because it’s a reminder of that “‘round yon virgin, mother and child” snugly-baby-feeling I may never feel. It hurts. I know, I know. I’m missing the point. I try not to dawdle here. To seek the joy of Christmas, I focus on the other important details of the story of Jesus’s birth - Joseph’s stepping up to the task to be the dad he didn’t have to be, sticking beside this unwed mother, painting a picture of adoption for us all, and Mary was probably none too excited to be expecting - think of the fate of a unwed mother in her day, her fiance’s likely reaction… so it’s not like she signed up for this (imagine Mary pulling a Katniss move - I volunteer as tribute!), so she too probably felt what it’s like to have God lead you down a road you don’t want to trod, to have a fate you wouldn’t have chosen.

These realities help me get over the cutsy-wiggling-baby in a manger trope we see around Christmas. It probably wasn’t sweet and adorable. It was a manger, a barn. It likely stank and I bet Mary looked and felt like the refugee she basically was. It was beyond humble for the King. I But this year is extra hard to look beyond the commercialized manger scene. See, every Christmas since we began hoping to start a family (and even before) there was hope. Hope of pregnancy and babies and birth and somedays. Not so much anymore. Our tests have come back, and Baby Wilson number 6 was yet another little boy, perfectly genetically normal, who should have grown and lived. My doctor’s office has said they’ve done everything they can to help be sustain a pregnancy but my autoimmune disorders are too complex to fix and my only possibility of biological children is through surrogacy. Jake and I have prayed, thought, discussed, and dissected the idea of surrogacy and it’s simply not an option for us. BCBS health insurance in NC for teachers doesn’t cover IVF ($24,000) and furthermore, we have no biological family members who are candidates to carry for us. So add to that the prenatal care and surrogacy fee (up to $50,000) *if* we were to find a carrier, and then, the state of NC requires the baby be adopted as the legal parent is the person who births the child regardless of who’s DNA is involved, so add to that at legal fees ($5000 or more). We’re talking $75,000 dollars or more that we don’t have. All this, for a child I can’t carry or birth or feel kick, just because he or she has our DNA? Granted, I want to know who’s nose s/he’d have, I want that strawberry red hair… but none of that is necessary for my love. None of that is necessary for a family. Love makes a family. Heck, DNA isn’t even necessary - Makinzy looks like my little twin most days, opens her mouth, and my words tumble out, and she runs and acts and misbehaves like a little version of her nerdy goober Daddy. Her smart mouth preteen sass? All me. Her mannerisms, style, and silliness? Me. Everyone knows, everyone can SEE, she’s ours. So is it worth the cost, the risk, the hassle? No. Not when we know there are many other kids out there - and somewhere out there is a child meant for us. There is that hope that I long for.

That hope, though, doesn’t negate the grief of Baby #6, of his little life and who he would have been. It doesn’t negate the loss of his brothers and sisters before him. It doesn’t negate the pain Jake and I feel when people carelessly talk about pregnancy and breastfeeding and maternity leave and all that in front of us without stopping to notice the pained look in our face. It doesn’t stop the loss of the experience of pregnancy, labor, delivery, birth. The lack of something to contribute when women compare their stretch marks or when they started showing or which baby gave them the most morning sickness or caused the most painful contractions…  
Subsequently, we are grieving this Christmas. Like how the death of a loved one leaves a scar overtime (like a pain that subsides, but always remains in a dull ache), so too I imagine this loss will linger throughout our lives. Part of me thinks, well, look what God did through Mary - He impregnated this young virgin girl - why can’t He make a miracle within me? But, I know He probably won’t. I can’t live my life in this expectant hope for what He just might not choose to do. I can’t let that need for a miracle hover over me like a fog. I have to move forward and accept (like Mary) a difficult road I didn’t choose. Like Joseph, I am called for a purpose to love a child who did not come from me but from Him. I’m not going to live my life waiting in line hoping He shows up, I’m getting up and finding him. Following Him. Running after Him in obedience.

We’re adopting again. In 2016, expect fundraisers, prayer requests, and for God to move mountains to build our family. He shut a door, and I don’t like being told no. But this Christmas, in the midst of my grief, I find inspiration in Mary and Joseph’s obedience to take the difficult path and accept the road He wants us to travel. And to think, what came of Mary and Joseph’s difficult path? A Savior, a plan, a purpose fulfilled. The greatest gift of Christmas.

And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. - John 1:14

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

His Command

I’m not blogging on grief and loss today. Well, I kinda am, but not my own for now.
I’ve not turned my profile picture into the colors of the French flag, despite my heavy heart. I wondered why I didn’t feel right about it and wondered a bit if anyone thought less of me. In true me fashion, I though “eh” and kept my picture the same as it had been. Over the last week, as more and more response to the Parisian attacks have become public conversation, I stumbled on an article that, finally, articulated the angst I felt about the flag color phenomenon...
You see, how sadly shallow it feels to mourn 129 people while ignoring the fact that ISIS is responsible for the deaths of hundreds (or more, let’s be honest) of Syrians and other innocent Middle-eastern people daily. Is it okay to just sit back and ignore them? It wasn’t until the discussion of refusing safety on American soil for Syrian refugees that I felt sickly, and it dawned on me just how narrow we Americans think. We give our sympathy, and it appears our safety and support, only to those who seem like us.

Timothy Stanley, historian and columnist for Britain's Daily Telegraph, shared on CNN’s Opinion page (http://www.cnn.com/2015/11/16/opinions/stanley-caution-on-global-war/index.html) a great piece that explains why Americans (and I might specify and emphasize Christian Americans) need to tread carefully, from what you do to your profile picture, to who you support in our presidential election…

...how we respond to ISIS has consequences for interfaith relations. Some American politicians have suggested a religious test for refugees seeking access to the United States. This kind of prejudiced rhetoric adds to that false sense that this is a world war-style clash between conservative Muslims on one side and Christian democracies on the other. It is also unChristian and cruel. Moreover, while Americans might fear Islamification as an existential concept, we here in Europe have actual experience of living with Muslims -- and I can report that the living is easy.Muslims are our friends, family and co-workers. They fear and despise ISIS as much as anyone else. And those of us in the center-ground of European politics are determined not to alienate, or discriminate against, citizens who are 100% British, French or German. Of course, it is equally irritating to see politicians who seem to counsel doing nothing and Westerners lacerating themselves because they believe their countries are to blame for all the evil in the world. ISIS is evil -- real, concrete evil. It must be stopped. But we must proceed carefully, with a grand game plan and with the desire to build just and representative Arab regimes that last. The legacy of poorly chosen words or unilateral action is there for all to see.”
A lot of conservatives like to point to American history as evidence that America was a Christian nation founded on Christian principles. To a degree, I agree. I think a better way to explain it would be to say that America was founded on the ideal of freedom to live and practice Christianity. That being said, we certainly can’t be called a “Christian” nation as we practice such blatant, racist xenophobia. You (or I) can’t certainly be called a “Christian” when you (or I) practice racist xenophobia.
If we want to be viewed as Christians, we should model what Christianity is supposed to look like - we do not get to pick and choose to whom we show the love of Christ, not based on nationality, skin tone, or even faith.  “Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”  James 1:27 
Some Christians supporting Donald Trump might want to read that verse again.
So when you throw yourselves behind governors and politicians claiming to “protect” you from terrorists, ask yourself who is ultimately going to protect America from ISIS’s evil perversion of Islam - some Republican tossing rhetoric around to scratch your patriotic itch, spewing sin disguised as political strategy just to give you an illusion of safety, or will it be the mighty Christ who took on the punishment for the sins of every soul - who defeated death - who tells you to love without prejudice?
My ball is in His court.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Lucky Charms and Flashlights

Dealing with this loss has been similar to the others in many ways. I've blogged about the aftermath so many times now. I'm a pro at this, I tried to explain to my anesthesiologist. I warned him that anesthesia makes me sob and fight, even though he didn't believe me. Six times and a middle finger was my mental response, although I gave a tight lipped smile on the outside. I know what I'm doing. I know the surgery well. I know the drill for communicating the news. I know the process for dealing with work. I know to take off some time and start super gluing my life back together in some way. 

I allow myself some time to sleep. To stay in bed. To read. To cry. To hate everything. But I set a limit and make myself live again, even if it is just going through the motions. To be honest, I have struggled with following through on the living part.

My preference has been to lie in bed and watch New Girl on Netflix and eat Lucky Charms and bomb pops and watch the episode when Nick finally kissed Jess over and over and ugly cry over how romantic it was. God, that kiss

In other words, I'd be totally okay ignoring my grief, forgetting my silence with God, and pretending my life (and all I've ever dreamed about) hasn't been ripped apart. 

But that is the great thing about friends and family. I've had to get up and get showers, vacuum, sweep. I put on real clothes and a little makeup. I talked about it. We prayed. I ate food other than cereal or Halloween candy. I've returned hopeful, encouraging messages from everyone on every social media I have. I functioned with other humans alone in a grocery store and didn't have a grief-sob when the pumpkin delights got replaced by the disgusting Christmas tree cakes at Food Lion... That kind of self control was a big deal. I went shopping with Mama. 

In other words, I'm still living. I'm not picking pretty strong trees to wrap my car around. I'm grateful to have people who text me regularly, who bring copious amounts of coffee beans and food to my house, who reassure me that my anger towards God is normal, human, healthy, and forgiven, who don't try to rationalize this or discern God's will, who make me feel like I've got a purpose, and who refuse to let me think less of myself because my body attacks the thing I'd die to save - my child. 

I feel like grief is a lot like a really, really dark place where it's easy to get lost. Sometimes finding the door is overwhelming and exhausting. And really, I'm so pissed off I don't even want to try. It's really easy to give it up, lie down, and stay in the dark and assume your eyes will adjust. 

I'm glad my family and friends won't let me stay in the dark. They come bearing flashlights in my darkness. Without them, it's just too tempting to stay. 

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Six times shattered.

It's Halloween. 

I should be posting about pumpkin carving and costumes and fall festivals.

I should be recapping our weekend camping trip with friends in Georgia. 

I should have been posting our cute pumpkin announcement on Facebook making my pregnancy official...

But you can guess why I'm not. 

Wednesday, my heart, my faith... shattered. No heartbeat on our ten week ultrasound. As soon as she inserted the wand and my uterus came into view, I knew. I didn't beg God or pray. I have laid in that position many times, feet in stirrups, hands on stomach, tears streaming down, yelling in my head, please, Abba, Father, to no avail. It made no difference in the outcome. So I just watched solemnly as she measured. It had only barely grown since the last ultrasound, though my uterus itself had expanded. Before, the baby took up so much room, but now there was more room but it was clearly not needing. Silence. We listened. We stared at the little body where the fluttery movement of the heartbeat was, now still. I willed the little hands and feet to wiggle, but they too were still. Dr. T confirmed what we knew quickly but kindly. She made no attempt to apologize or rationalize, which I appreciated, but kept a comforting hand on my leg the entire conversation. She tenderly said she wanted more information and was rushing me down the street to Presbyterian Maternal Fetal. I already had made an appointment with them for November 6. But we went over there now to hear if they could give us any other information. Funny, I imagined the doctor inserting a gloved hand up and through my cervix, reaching up and performing one-fingered CPR and bringing him or her back to life. I even knew this was a ridiculous idea, and I began sobbing when it hit how hopeless it was. Dr. A confirmed the same thing with yet another ultrasound as I continued weeping, then unlike Dr. T, prophesied that my age was a good thing, and "just getting a sister" to carry for me would be my best bet since "there's always adoption" but you gotta be careful since you get kids with that "addiction gene." Jake was in cold stare mode. I could tell it was only his salvation that kept his mouth closed and his fist away that doctor's nose. So we left empty handed. Then made the phone calls. We stopped for coffee, but I struggled to be in public so we got it to go. We stopped for take out because neither of us could stand cooking. 

While Jake went inside to pick up our dinner, which we would both struggle to eat any of, the dam broke and weeping turned to screaming and praying to shouting, and praising to cursing. I let my anger flow out and I cursed God, yelled out in disbelief and said the words aloud I longed to say. You aren't really there. You're just something we've made up so we don't feel so alone and scared of life. Or worse... You are there and yet repeatedly ignore us because You don't really care. I hate you. Your promises are nothing but lies. 
Pretty bad, huh? A friend from Sunday school had just messaged me that God was strong enough to take my anger. I could only say I hope so. 
So I sat in my car alone in the pouring rain sobbing and screaming these things aloud with eyes closed. I gasped for breath and opened my eyes, and directly in my sight, right in front of me was a rainbow. I thought, well played, God

Jake returned and I told him what I had said and he just chuckled through teary eyes, squeezed my hand and kissed me. 

I went to work Thursday and shared the news with coworkers, and worse, my students. They cried. Gathered around me to pray for me. They didn't try to tell me what God's will is, or try to explain why, or offer any comments that began with "at least..." They did none of those things and had more wisdom than many adults. Have you ever been held by a group of 13 year olds? They held me, each one. They asked to pray, and joined hands and cried out through tears for comfort, and showed faith when mine was broken. A few dear coworkers jumped in to help me gather materials for sub plans and secure a substitute, and I juggled writing the plans up, finishing grades for verification, attending two parent conferences, while playing phone tag with the doctors. It was physically and emotionally draining, but my students poured (or prayed) strength into me. Coworkers came often with hugs.

I had a D&E scheduled Friday morning at Presbyterian. We had to be there at five in the morning. Dr. T did the surgery. She was fabulous as always, but the experience itself was the worst. I had no bed and had to walk myself into the operating room. Recovery was in a recliner that wouldn't recline. I was forced into my clothes before I could lift my head fully. And I was booted to the car before I could stand or pee. I have since been in bed or on the couch with Vicodin and Gatorade.

So now. What next? 
Genetic testing on our baby is most important. If the baby was genetically normal, then we know this ended because of more mysterious autoimmune problems. The thing is, we pulled out all the stops, took every medication known to treat this, and followed every research based best practice we could. There's nothing more to do than what we did, this could mean there's no way I will ever be able to sustain a pregnancy. It's my worst fear.
Secondly, the baby could be genetically abnormal, meaning something that could go wrong in any pregnancy did go wrong and this would have been a "normal"  miscarriage like 20% of all pregnancies. 

Obviously, the latter would give us some hope. 

Our only options now:
1. Try again and expect the same thing. 
2. Try again and do IVIG - an expensive, unorthodox plasma transfusion process that's risky and costly and experimental and not at all proven to work. 
3. Find a healthy friend or family member with a history of healthy pregnancies to let us borrow their uterus. Also, risky and costly. 
4. As the insensitive Dr. A put it, "just adopt" again. But we know there is no such thing as "just adopting" and it too will be risky and costly. 

I don't know what our next plan will be, and I don't know when we will know. I am certainly not on good terms with God and my faith needs time to repair before I'm ready to seek His direction. In fact I need time to feel if He's even there at all.  

Please pray for us. I just don't know. I don't understand. I'm shattered. I don't know if I glue myself together for a sixth time. 

Friday, October 16, 2015

Do not fear. Do not fear. Do not fear.

It has been a much quieter week, and for that I am oh so grateful.

Last Thursday, I had to leave abruptly in the middle of parent teacher conference and go to the ER. It was crazy. The first nine weeks conferences are always a little stressful. My 7th graders have never taken an accelerated or honors course, plus something happens to their brains upon entering middle school, and between juggling so many teachers, new higher expectations, lockers, drama, hormones, plus harder course work, well, grades plummet at first. So it’s my duty to talk parents off the cliff - explain that it’s normal, help them see what skills their students need, and help them understand their role and ways they can support their children. Long, tedious, and exhausting conferences, for sure, but very satisfying to help a worried mom relax and find do-able ways to hold her son and daughter accountable and help them make that shift from a child to a young man or woman.

Anyway, so I’m chatting with a dad, feeling jittery and breathless, and I look down, and my hands are NAVY BLUE. Like smurf blue. Like I was turning into Avatar. It. Was. Freaky. I tried to carry on, but in a lull between appointments, I walked down the hall and a few of my coworkers were immediately alarmed. I thought maybe my sugar dropped since it was a very late night and I felt anxious and fluttery, but using a coworker’s meter, my sugar level measured at 97. Normal. At my coworkers’ urging, I called Dr. T at REACH and they told me to go to Urgent Care. Jake and I carpooled, so a sweet coworker offered to drive me. We made it Urgent Care only to be told that I had to go to the ER since I was pregnant. By then, Jake had arrived, so he and I went on the the ER. They ended up taking me straight back - I bypassed all the waits! - and the ER doctor diagnosed it as Reynauld’s Syndrome - albeit an extreme case, usually triggered by stress and/or coldness.  Fortunately, the treatment she wanted to give me - a steroid and blood-thinner, are medications I would already be taking each night, so no medications were needed. As it turns out, Reynauld’s is actually a common phenomenon in autoimmune patients like me, and it is in the same family of disease as Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and APS. So despite being scary and all, it actually confirms I am finally, finally, after five miscarriages and so much grief, being treated for the right thing… It didn’t affect the baby.

In fact, Saturday morning we went back to the doctor and saw the heartbeat AGAIN. 153 BPM and 9.79 CRL - and it was beautiful. I took lots of time to rest this week - and have worked hard to listen to my body - eat when I’m hungry, drink lots of water, rest as much and as often as possible. I have a heating pad and space heater at work now. And it’s been a better week. The extra rest helped me power through some grading and some grad school work, and I’m ending this week less stressed out than I have been in a while. I’ve battle CRAZY morning sickness all week- but it’s been a little less the last few days. 

I go back to the doctor today at 4. As always, I am scared and nervous. Ultrasounds make me scared and nervous. In fact, I couldn’t even post about Pregnancy Loss/Infant Loss awareness day yesterday for the fear of thinking about it. And today would have been my due date last year - baby number 4’s. Right now it’s too scary to even remember. Keep praying for us, friends.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

What matters.

What a whirlwind week it has been. And I am 100% depleted, exhausted, wiped out. I don’t think I’ve ever been so tired.

Last week, Makinzy brought home all As and Bs on her progress report. It’s literally the first time she’s tasted this kind of success in her academic career. I don’t know if it’s just that 3rd and 4th grade were so challenging, that 5th grade is finally feeling like an attainable goal, or if it’s truly just easier, or if she’s had some intrinsic blooming of motivivation and focus, but for whatever the reason, we are celebrating success. So we rushed out to Target as promised and used that three hundred dollars she’s saved from birthdays and Christmases and finally got to buy her iPod. And wow! What a motivator. She knows it’s the first thing on the chopping block to go, so her attitude and behavior have been super. It’s been a blessing this hectic week not have to battle! And it goes without saying, I am really, really proud of her, and it was really, really great to show and tell her that.  

This past week I also had several school and church commitments to keep, parent conferences to schedule so like 80 kajillion emails, and a sweet friend’s wedding shower on Thursday, and then the doctor’s appointment Friday, and I was actually in the wedding over the weekend. Needless to say, I went into the busy weekend exhausted, and never got a chance to breathe.

So, Makinzy spends the weekend with my parents since we had the ultrasound at 4 on Friday and had to immediately jet across three counties to make it to the rehearsal and arrive on time on Saturday ready for the wedding. Friday, we held our breath and drove to REACH and I ventured up on the table, threw my wedding-pedicured feet in the stirrups and prayyyyyyed. And tears of joy! One, perfect, embryo, well on his or her way to full on fetus status. Then we zoomed in and heard a HEARTBEAT. 115 beats per minute. 4.5 mm crown to its tiny little rump. Exactly in the 50% percentile for a ob/us at 42 days gestation. In the doctor’s words - a very textbook ultrasound; she said she couldn’t have asked for anything better. So off we zoomed to rehearsal joyous! I go back on Saturday and I am full of jitters. We have never had a positive outcome of a second ultrasound, so nerves abound, but I am refusing to let worry consume me.

I fell into bed after the rehearsal and woke up the next day still tired and jetted off to the hair appointment only to end up in a car accident on my way. It was 100% my fault - I thought the light turned green when the bus beside me began to roll and make a right turn - but it was still red, and I rolled right into oncoming traffic. I don’t know how I didn’t flip with the man going full speed. He had to be doing 35 or 40 mph. I slid across the intersection, and managed to get the car out of the roadway before it gave out. After 911, phone calls, and such, the policeman did not ticket me, even though I told him I deserved it - I took full responisbility. He was taken aback by my honesty and said he said nearly everyone looks for something to blame. Perhaps at blame was “pregnancy brain” and near exhaustion, but regardless, I thanked him and eventually made it to my hair appointment where they pulled a “glam squad” moved and got my hair and make-up done quick enough for me to make it to the church on time. Fast forward through the beautiful wedding (sweet new friends, numb toes, sore cheeks from smiling, and a few tears too) and we finally make it home Saturday night. I collapse in bed again.

Things haven’t slowed down. I had grades due for progress reports, an upcoming day of conferences, more doctor’s visits, and then there’s grad school and trying to keep afloat in general.

Speaking of afloat more literally,  my heart is so broken by all the SC flooding. I am seeing it directly affect college friends, towns and cities and roads and bridges I regularly drive through, destroying places I love. It is heart-wrenching. I am feel so blessed that up in NC (and really the Upstate of SC) missed the brunt of it. Though it’s rained incessantly, it’s not been to that level… can you imagine that on top of everything else? Most importantly, I am so grateful my friends have mostly escaped the dams breaking and while many of them have damaged property, maybe lost jobs, and some possessions, they have their lives.

Despite how close to sheer exhaustion I am…  I can’t help but be happy. We are so abundantly blessed. Our babies are both thriving (both in school and in the womb), our friend is celebrating their new marriage, our homes are safe, and cars can be replaced while people cannot. I can’t get over God’s protection, provision, and grace. I have been reminded all week by God that material things are of no eternal value and to not get caught up in the busy-ness that I forget that His grace and mercy are all that matter - His love that radiates through us and to us and between us and within us.   

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Being a reflective teacher.

Surprise - not a baby/pregnant-or-not related blog! I am, of course, still pregnant, and anxiously awaiting a 6 week ultrasound on Friday… My nerves are indescribable and my fear is great. I feel like a zombie most days, and tragically, my major food aversions have to do with anything pumpkin smelling, and it’s full on pumpkin spice season.
I’m in the middle of midterms for grade school and going nuts. I had to complete a self-assessment on my professional dispositions, and I got to reflecting and realized some things have changed in my 6 years as a teacher.

Five Things I Stopped Fighting as a Teacher
1. Bathroom Policies
I used to have an intense system for bathroom trips. I offered 3 emergency passes per semester. If a student didn’t have a pass left, he or she did not go. I mean, it was “I guess you’ll wet your pants or get a doctor’s note” serious. Then, I ran into the students losing passes or having them stolen, so I tried marking the three semesterly trips in their planners, and then I had those getting lost or stolen, so I kept the trips recorded on my behavior clip board. In schools where I used to work, the kids were rough. Some on probation themselves, many with incarcerated parents, the vast majority lived in poverty - the white students in the trailer park where doors were left open leading into abysmally dark single-wides on cinderblocks - and the black students lived in the apartment complex littered with trash, bustling with people outside in lawn chairs, where drug busts and police tape were commonplace. Those students, all of them, needed, or more so, craved, structure and stability, so it was the right thing to do. But sometimes I wonder if I just stressed myself out more in an already tense situation. Now I let students go when they need to, but one at a time, and I have build a class culture where you don’t want to miss what we are doing - leaving the room eats up time you need. Could I have created that culture in my previous environment?
2. Pencils and Materials
I can’t believe people actually punish students for not having their materials. I can’t believe I used to do this. If a student needs a pencil, give him one and expect him to take care of it and use it up until it’s a nub, and then give him another. And if he doesn’t take care of it and takes advantage of you, meet with the parents or take away a recess or fun time until he starts taking care of it. But give the child what he needs.
3. Off-Topic Conversations
I have stopped being the dictator. If we get off topic, I use it as a teachable moment and then redirect us back. I don’t yell. Kids tell me I’m different like that. Why do we yell at kids when they are not doing what we want? Shouldn’t we master our craft enough to have engagement so high they want to talk about what we want them to talk about? We should facilitate and guide, not lord over them. I am tired of teachers with Short White Man syndrome.
4. Enforcing Late Work Policies
I credit my husband for this change in me. I used to adhere strictly to a late work policy outlined in a boring looking syllabus students would immediately lose. Three days after the due date? The zero stands. I find myself much more of the ‘hunt-you-down-and-make-you-do-it-now’ variety of teachers. And I always accept work now, even if it is laughably, atrociously late. Because I don’t like failure! I want to see mastery! Isn’t that what we’re about!?
5. Cell Phones Policies
I get fired up about this one. I work at a school where cell phones are off and in the lockers, not on the student. Yet teachers complain that they don’t have access to laptops or ipads or computer labs for certain types of learning projects, etc, ignoring the fact that the majority of students have an internet-ready device that can log on to our school wifi and access the same resources and sites you could do in the lab. I have gone rogue and I allow students to bring phones to class, with the expectation that they are off and/or away until I explicitly say it is okay to use them. So for the kid without internet at home? He snaps a picture of the board or assignment and saves it on his phone. I airdrop scanned pdfs of assignments to iPhone users. We use apps like Quizlet for homework. Cell phones are learning tools, and if you haven’t figured that out yet, it’s time for some professional development to get you out of the dinosaur age. Textbooks are dead. Cell phones are 21st century skills - they are relevant and engaging- and they are practical. 
I am told I am a hippie. I hear I am “different.” I don’t think my teaching is that weird, unless you consider rigor, relationships, and relevance weird. The more work I do for grad school, the more I learn about myself as a teacher and while I am not yet a master-teacher, I do hope that one day when my years of experience affords me that title, that I will actually live up to it by adapting and growing, and not sticking with what I have always done because I have always done it.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Fill the gaps, God.

I feel like a failure.

No, I'm still pregnant for now. I haven't failed at that, yet...

I feel like a failure as a mother. Lately, dealing with Makinzy has been so overwhelmingly awful.
I don't like being around her. I don't even want to be in the same room. You may ask how this is possible, especially if you know her personally. She seems like the bubbliest, most goofy, most caring little girl, and you'd be right in thinking that. Everyone describes her as Suh-weet. That's sweet with two syllables the way southern women say it. And yeah, she is. TO EVERYONE ELSE. But to me? She's hateful. Smart mouthed. Rude. And it is exacerbated every time I get pregnant. I even asked her about that and what she was feeling, and she said didn't like when I was pregnant because my medicines make me mean so she wants to be mean to me... They do make me moodier, I'll admit, but she never could get to the heart of what's really going on. And frankly, I am tired of hormones as an excuse. While they do play a role in this, it's not a cop-out. I might have a shorter temper or less patience, but I am not purposefully hateful. I don't have a clue as to how to help her, and I don't know how I can keep this up.

Some days, I just want to say I'm done - that this was a mistake. That I got in over my head. Seriously. I think to myself get. her. out. of. my. house.  This isn't working.

My mind blames her and the stress she causes on the miscarriages (I quickly push that away - I know better.)
My mind tells me that nothing I can ever do will prevent her from turning into her biological mother. That she will pick the wrong path regardless.
My mind excuses me from any and all responsibility for her future, because there's nothing I can do.

I am not one to blame Satan for everything, but I do believe he has tried to take root in the fractures in our relationship in my mind and he spreads doubt and anger like kudzu. Those thoughts are his doing, I know.  It's his way of pushing me to give up, give in, and admit failure.

But I know better.
She's mean and hateful with me because I am her mama.
Because I expect more from her than other people do.
Because I don't just dote on her sweetness, but push her to be more and do more.
Because I don't make excuses for her.
And because she's worried, too. She doesn't really know what she's doing either.

Over and over again, I have to remind myself of something I know so clearly. We were called to adopt Makinzy. We were called to be her mother and father. I felt the very thumb of God on my heart when I first heard mention of her, and He nearly knocked the wind out of me. Never, in all of my life, have I been more convinced of God's will for my life, than when I was asked if I would be willing to become her mother.

So, if this is God-ordained, why is it so HARD?! Why is it so painful? And why am I letting Satan plant all these seeds of evil in my mind?

Sometimes I think I am failing her. That I love her too much to be a good mother - that wanting her to be her best actually damages her and our relationship and all I am doing is messing up an already messed up child. People tell us we are doing an amazing job with her, but it feels so hollow - and I think, sure, but you don't see behind closed doors. You don't see how much she and I live in this cycle of hurting one another to see if we will still love each other anyways.

I hope she grows up and comes back and reads my thoughts someday. I hope that she will be able to see how much she is loved, and just how much I believe in her. I get so angry when she doesn't live up to her potential because I know who she is able to be. I hope she sees that I set rules, consequences, and expectations not in meanness to her but out of love. I hope she forgives me for being a flawed individual myself - one who has been though a whole lot of hurt myself, one with my own struggles with my temper, sass, and quick tongue. And I hope she realizes I am doing the best I can at a job I could not have prepared myself for. I pray for God to fill in the gaps where I fail and to mend and clean the messes I make. I pray for Him to soften her heart towards me, and for her to see me for who I am. A mom who loves her.

Friday, September 18, 2015

4 weeks, 2 days.

One of the weirdest experiences of having an IUI (besides the awkward go-in-a-cup and that long catheter contraption... and we made a lot of horrible jokes about the process, which kind of helped) was the fact that the procedure added yet another layer of fear for us. For the last two weeks, worry and fear that it didn't work plagued us. I kept hopeful and optimistic, reminding myself that getting pregnant is not an issue - so it had to work - just staying pregnant was the issue. Nonetheless, that waiting, unsure, for two weeks was agony.

Then Wednesday, test day, came. When the alarm went off that morning, my eyes popped open and my heart immediately started thumping. Like, pounding nearly audibly. My normally groggy self rolled out of bed, to the bathroom, and I grabbed the test. And waited.  More waiting.

Then it appeared.

It worked.

One less fear down, one worry conquered.

Now for the hardest part. Staying this way.

I am still on my cocktail of pills, with progesterone suppositories (a disaster, they are - we refer to them as the little pink devil balls... lol) and of course, the prednisone (which makes me a lunatic - certifiably crazy) and the thyroid medication. I went Thursday for blood work and my HCG levels were 213, and the nurse said they wanted at least 60. So that's good news!

They also called in my lovenox prescription, which was an ordeal in itself. Walgreens doesn't carry it in town, so they sent me to CVS (which as a side note,  for some reason, someone has decorated for Halloween like it's a slaughterhouse - you walk by a wall of nail polish or tampons, and BAM, a knife-wielding clown is lurking! Seriously, I think the manager or someone there is toooooo into Halloween!). As if the decor hadn't scared me enough, the price of the medication was even more frightening. It said on the prescription "qty=9" and "price=$838.39" and I almost fainted. 9 shots for that much? Like 100 bucks a shot for a shot I take once a day for the duration of this pregnancy?
I was freaking out. As it turns out, 9 was total in the ml of medication, and after insurance, it ended up being 100 buck for a thirty day supply. That's $900 over the course of 9 months, rather than $27,000 over the course of 9 months... whew.

So there you a have it.

The fear now is less worry and more dread. It's ever-present in my mind, and I throw scriptures at it constantly.

I have been pregnant six times now. Six times I have had my heart ripped out of my chest by the apologize of some ultrasound technician or an ER doctor. To fall in love only to have your hopes dashed, your heart broken, your worse fears realized.

I read this post just the other day. I struggle to claim infertility. Even though I belong to a few groups, am a patient at an infertility clinic, and have yet to birth a child, the fact that I can get pregnant keeps me from wanting to call it what it is. And yet, in reality, everything in that post describes me. The pain at announcements (because I know their announcements aren't just hopeful... it will happen for them in a few months) and seeing a newborn and the countless dollars and the inability to contribute to pregnancy-birth-babies conversations and just standing there awkwardly. It all describes me.  I am so appreciative of the author for sharing those words. They are so true.

But, recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL) adds yet another dimension to infertility, something the author didn't describe.  The fear. Especially to love.

When an infertile couple finally gets pregnant, there is rejoicing. It finally worked. They have defeated the foe. I've seen girls "graduate" from infertility groups, or "graduate" from the infertility clinic, and take that positive pregnancy test as a victory. When you add in RPL, you can never be sure you defeated it. You never get to graduate, not until there is a child laying safely in your arms.

When someone with RPL gets pregnant, it's like you can't breathe. You are so simultaneously happy (because maybe, just maybe, this is the one that will stick...) and also full of dread and sadness. You know when you are at the doctor's and about the get a shot? And you have those seconds of anticipation right before the stick, not sure of how hard or painful it's going to be? Or like the moments when you slam on brakes and you're confidant that you won't get stopped in time, and you tense up in anticipation of an impending car crash? Or when you're heaving over a toilet, and the moment the vomit is about to come, but hasn't yet, and you break out in a cold sweat?

That's what RPL adds to infertility.

It makes you scared to love. I want to love this baby. Name him or her. Take bump pictures. Make a cutesy announcement. Dream of him or her, imagining that face, the personality. But I must stop here. I am not allowed to go down that road. Why allow yourself to fall head over heals for a little life who, experience teaches you, will never exist, at least statistically speaking? It's tragic.

That's what RPL adds to infertility.

So, pray for me. Pray for my head and my heart to cope and my body to work.
Pray for my baby.

I sit with bated breath. 

Monday, September 07, 2015


We're not a week into the TWW and I'm dying. Every feeling I have has been over-analyzed and scrutinized. I have tried distracting myself with a great labor day/birthday celebratory camping trip (it worked until I got still for five minutes..) and with grad school (until I start procrastinating, like now.) and still.. mind-torture.

I read THIS blog today. And let me tell you, this chick is 100% honest. I nearly died laughing at the accuracy of this.

And to prove I'm in the same boat, let me share a pictorial explanation.

This is the last Sun Drop I consumed. A sweet kid at school brought me one knowing my vice. Three days prior to our IUI. My last glass of wine (or anything else) was a week before. I had half a glass of cheap white wine and a few cubes of Laura Lynn sharp cheese to make myself feel fancy when we were broke as a joke from our air conditioner and truck needing costly repair at the same time.

This is the tea I now consume instead of my typical single-origin locally roasted, fair trade coffee (please, make fun of me for that if you must, but you Crapwell House drinkers don't even know... Anyways, If it has roobios, raspberry, pomegranate, and lacks caffeine, well. It's for me. Supposedly roobios and raspberry leaf are good for the endometrial lining.

Old wives tale says cold feet = a cold uterus. I stole these from my daughter's closet. 

Another "homeopathic" suggestion involves pineapple cores. They contain some kind of magic that supposedly helps implantation, so I cut up a core into 5 chunks and eat my daily wedge. I also had  fresh pineapple for breakfast on 1dpo and 2dpo. 

This is one side of my duffle bag from this weekend's camping trip. It is stuffed with my medication. I dare not show you the number of pills I take per day. I dare not show you my arm from bloodwork. 
I haven't counted shots to ovulate and shots I will take once we get the BFP on the HPT. 

As a side note, do you know what dpo means? BFP, BFN, HPT? What it means to be on CD#1, to BD, AF, or test your CM? Can you tell me about your luteal phase or follicular phase?

If you don't, please consider yourself completely and totally blessed. I can't believe so many people have no clue about what it takes, or how insensitive people can be. 

Continue to pray for us on this journey. Makinzy has already let this PUPO thing get to her head. (Don't know PUPO? It's "pregnant until proven otherwise" - or the time period before the test to see if the procedure did, in fact, work when you treat your body as if you are pregnant for both health and positivity.) She's talking to my prednisone-bloated belly in baby talk and I die inside when she does. She has gotten her heart broken to pieces FOUR times already. When we started this cycle, she would pitch a fit at the words baby or pregnancy and huff and puff and declare she didn't want anything to do with it because she didn't want one to die again. Now, she's letting hope in, letting her heart wonder, her mind off guard from impending pain and sorrow... I don't want her to go through it again. I saw this taped to my bedroom door this morning... 

It says "baby boy" (which she taped a plastic lizard to) or "baby girl" or "both?" and ends with "love, Mak."  

I'm praying for her heart (and mine) that if this flops, she (and I) will make it through in tact. 

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
Hebrews 11:1

Wednesday, September 02, 2015


So I have like a 100 drafts on Blogger never published. I ranted about current events. I wrote about faith. Most were incomplete because life has been busy like whoa. (but let's be honest, that's always the case...) I keep saying I'm going to sit down and blog, but I am just pooped. Summer ended way too abruptly. No matter how much I tried to ween myself out of summertime and back into school mode, I still feel like a fish out of water at first. Even almost two weeks in. While Mak went to summer camp and Jake worked, I took one last fling to Whitney's and spent some beach time. Y'all know what Pawley's Island does to my soul.

We also spent that last weekend of summer fishing at Crowders. And we got our hair cut! I had a few weeks off from grad school, so we relaxed and just enjoyed each other, working a few days here and there. My classroom was ready way ahead of time and I really felt like I was ready. I was not. I don't know if it's just my hormones or if it's just how the first week is, but whoa... I was moody on the first day, emotional and we wayyy overslept on the second. Day three was better. I'm getting my bearings, and I do think it's going to be a good year. I greatly miss my now ninth graders. My new seventh graders are so sweet, and in astounded by how much my eighth graders have matured and grown.

Makinzy's fifth grade year is off to a good start, too. She's loving school most of the time, and I really feel like she's got some great teachers. She gets a little whiny about the amount of homework she has now and I can't help but laugh knowing how much worse it's going to get. Though she has been INSANELY moody and mean lately. Just snotty at home. I try to blame it on her little hormones, but sometimes I wonder... will this last forever? I hope she grows out of this phase fast, because I miss my sweet baby girl.  How is it possible she's almost 11?

In the Maybe-A-Baby Saga...
Today, I had an IUI. Our practice round of treatment went well. Follicles obeyed and I ovulated. Cycle day 1 came without medical help, and we have geared up for the real deal this time. I took Letrazole on days 3-7, and I had 13 lovely follicles on each ovary ready to grow. My RE was right and my blood work levels continued to improve. So we went back a few days later another ultrasound to watch my follicles. It was Sunday morning, of all times, and I had a bit of a scare when Dr. T was like, you're ovulating! It's go time! Blood work showed I needed just bit longer, so it wasn't too soon to do a booster (or trigger) shot of Ovidrel. We did the shot Monday night, and then today, Wednesday we did the IUI procedure. In four days, I'll begin progesterone and prednisone, and then Lovenox after the TWW. Then, hopefully, I'll be pregnant, and I'll stay pregnant. I'm hesitantly hopeful and optimistic. I'm realistic though. But, I am also persuaded to faith. I have no idea what awaits us, but I know He is faithful to give us the strength to face whatever lies ahead. I am eating pineapple cores and drinking raspberry tea, and Jake and I keep making jokes and keeping each other lighthearted. And I just keep trying to trust Him. He knows my heart's desires, and I know He has me in His hands.

On a last side note - my sweet husband continuously makes me proud. I can't get over him. He, at 29 years old, has been recently elected a deacon at our church, and he's already doing amazing things as an Assistant Principal. I can't tell you how many people come tell me what a great job he's doing or how much they respect him. He's humble. He's kind. He's passionate and hardworking. And through all these crazy adventures of ours - adopting and raising our sassy Junie B. Jones-meets-Ramona-meets-Orphan Annie and this miscarriage and infertility journey - well, there is just no one else who I'd rather be in this with than him. It is an absolute honor to be his wife, and next to my own adoption as God's child, he is, and will always remain, my greatest blessing.