He or She? What will it Bee?

We had a fun ultrasound this morning!  Newest baby is 16 weeks along now and we decided to find out what we are having…

…in 2 weeks. (The sealed envelope is beside me right now. Oh, the torture!)

Mark wanted to wait until the birth in February, but I couldn’t wait. Our compromise was to do a reveal party with the family. So, we are having lunch with family and my birthday cake will reveal boy or girl inside!

What will it bee

What’s your guess?

Heartbeat: 140′s

Craving salty or sweet: Salty and spicy!

Nausea: Not too bad, like my other girl pregnancies

Carrying: Higher

Chinese birth chart:  Girl

 

 

 

8 Tips to Living in Survival Mode

SurvivalModeTips

Survival mode can happen for many reasons. Sickness, family issues, job loss, pregnancy exhaustion, a new baby transition, sleep deprivation, a late postpartum depression (as it was for me this last year)…you name it.  For me, it usually stems around pregnancy and the infant stage because I am just. so. tired.

Below are the tips and tools I’ve learned in the last year to survive in survival mode. I’m writing this post for others, but also for myself. I need to remember what tools helped me climb out of the pit after my last episode of PPD that set in around 6 months postpartum after Ashlyn’s birth and sleep deprivation really hit hard.

1. Self-care is crucial. The number one thing I’ve learned this past year is how important it is to fill myself up. If I can’t fill myself up, I cannot effectively serve others whether that is my own children, my husband, or a church volunteer position. I’ve written a whole post about this in the past, but to summarize: do what makes you feel good.  For me that means taking time to just sit and read, having a set night once a week to go chat with friends at a coffee shop or go write, or doing something creativity. Things that makes me me and not just “mom.” It really makes a huge difference when you allow yourself a break to refresh! Even a few minutes daily is all it can take.

2. Have a routine. I used to think I was a go-with-the-flow kind of mom. Turns out I’m not! I’ve learned that I thrive with structure, but when I get in my anxiety-sleep-deprived-funk I start letting my structure slide. I start rationalizing that it’s okay to stay in PJ’s all day because I’m tired, or skip my morning cleaning time, or allowing too much TV instead of only at our set time.  Then what happens? I feel guilty. Guilty for looking like a slob. Guilty for not having anything done by the time my husband gets home from work. Guilty for not spending time with my kids.  I’m not saying every day has to be a set structured day with a whistle blown exactly at 8am signaling breakfast time, or that there isn’t room for rest or having off days, but the problem is when every single day things slid in the wrong direction.  Have your lazy day when you truly need it and certainly allow rest during the day, but also try your best to get some things done. I know for me, feeling productive makes me feel so much better as a whole.

3. Get ready early in the day.  As mentioned above, when I start letting things slide I also let my appearance slide. This isn’t to mean that being vain in your appearance is priority, but simply feeling more presentable even if its just for yourself and your husband makes a difference. I’ve found even the simple task of just showering before lunch makes me feel better and helps me feel more energized to tackle chores. Putting on jeans or a comfy maxi skirt instead of PJ pants makes me feel better.  Not feeling like a greasy monkey makes me feel better…Period! Make it your routine to get ready as soon as you can each day. During the school year, I like to get up 30 minutes before our kids so I get that quiet and uninterrupted time to myself. It was a drastic step in the right direction for me.

4. Small successes count.  Also adding onto to #2 on the note of routine…when I’m feeling down counting anything I did that day is considered a check to my to-do list. Got dressed by 9am? Check. Kids are fed and relatively happy? Check. Got the dishes unloaded? Check. Some days that really is all I feel I accomplish, but somedays that has to be good enough!

5. Make compromises.  Maybe it’s your food choices. Maybe it’s your cleaning expectations. Maybe it’s your idea of having actives or playdates every day of the week with your kids, when all you really need and want to do is sleep from pregnancy exhaustion. Reconfigure your priorities for this short survival season. For me? That meant not having the healthiest dinners possible every night….just having food at all had to be good enough in my nausea and exhaustion phase of first trimester. It meant that I got the laundry clean, but I didn’t fold it for a month (still climbing my way through that mountain!). Make compromises where you can, give yourself grace. What are your true priorities right now?

6. Ask for help!  This was a humbling experience for me. I had to ask for help recently and broadcasted it on my Facebook. I was truly beyond exhausted (I have been known to fall asleep on the floor at a birthday party….for real…), emotionally spent, and felt I couldn’t offer anything to anybody anymore.  I asked for prayers, help grocery shopping, childcare, and laundry folding. And guess what? The response was amazing and such a blessing!  I wrote more about that experience over at The Young Mommy Life: Would You Ask A Friend to Fold Your Laundry?  Chances are you have a village around you, friends and family who want to help you if they just knew what you are going through. Speak up and use your support.  

7. Know this is only a season.  Really, our lives are a blink of an eye in the grand scheme of things. And this season you’re in? It may feel like it has been or will be forever, but it won’t be. Things will get better.  Your babies will sleep one day. Circumstances will change. You won’t be pregnant forever. Having the perspective that it won’t be this way always helps me make it through one day at a time.  And really, that’s what survival mode is: Taking one day at time.

8. Seek professional help if needed. At my lowest point last year when Ashlyn was around 6 months old I had a scary thought,  “I just want to go to Heaven. I’m not a good mom or wife. I mess up everything. They would be better off without me here to mess them up.”  I remember nursing my daughter, thinking that thought, and just crying. I truly felt broken and no good to anyone in my life. I had lost my purpose and drive in life. I had lost myself amongst laundry and diapers.  While I knew that I would never take my own life, I really wished God would just beam me up to Heaven where life wouldn’t be so dang HARD. Why is parenting so hard, after all? It is supposed to be this glorious picture of joy. It’s not always, and I thought I was doing it wrong.  That thought scared me, and told me that I needed help beyond my own family and friends advice. I sought out counseling through my church and went roughly once a week when I was able. And guess what? These things I’ve listed I learned in counseling. It’s not a shameful thing to seek counseling, it’s a beautiful process of self-discovery. God has taught me so, so much through it.

What tools help you in survival mode? I’d love more suggestions for when the I fall into the next pit! 

The Silence in Survival Mode

 

Silence in

It has been quiet around here, I know.  I’m just getting out of survival mode.

At 12 weeks pregnant now, my need for survival mode has lifted in the last week or two. But, the months before that I have been exhausted to the point of daily necessary naps, living off boxed mac and cheese (at least it’s organic?) and take out, and ignoring my large mountain of laundry.  My kids watched way too much TV and it literally was weeks in between seeing playdates and friends. Sigh.

This wasn’t how I planned my summer. I had grand plans to have some kind of activity every day for the kids, whether it was the library or playing in water outside. It’s just not happening this summer.  I have guilt that I can’t do and be what everyone needs right now, but I’m learning to be okay with that…for now. I’m learning that it is okay to let things go, like the dishes, and do them when I do get a spurt of energy. And while I know I should be eating healthier right now for myself and this new little one, I know that when I am feeling better I can make the healthy changes I need a whole lot easier. ‘Cause I’ll have energy to chop a zucchini and onions again! I’m getting there.

I’m also learning that survival mode looks like humbling yourself and asking for help. I have the best friends, I really do.  I have had people do my grocery runs and offers to watch my children so I can nap or brought us a REAL homemade dinner.  People have even offered to fold my mountain laundry! I am so amazed and blessed by the support I’ve received simply by asking for what I needed. It was hard to do, but it has really lifted some weight in the last week.  In turn, it has been easier to just enjoy the moment of where we are in life right now despite it not being what I had hoped for this summer break.

To be honest, I feel like my last year has been a survival, since last summer after Ashlyn’s birth and I hit a late PPD.  I was just getting out of the pit that I felt I was in and feeling like me again. I was in a good routine for cleaning, getting ready early in the day, we had a set TV time that limited their watching to only when I needed a break, I had a set writing schedule for my blog and other various articles or book writing, I even had a set night out once a week to visit friends or go write (and enjoy a rare piece of cheesecake..hmmm).  Pregnancy has thrown all that out for now, simply because I do not have the energy. I’d rather nap than write or be in bed at 8pm than just be going out to visit others at that time.  Not being able to fill up my own self-care cup has taken a toll and I started sinking into that pit again. Now that I have energy, it is much better. That, and a refreshing vacation for 10 days visiting family and a trip completely alone with my hubby for 6 glorious days. But that’s another post.

While I’ve climbed out of the pit again so far, I’m nervous for what will bring when this baby #4 comes. I’m obviously very sensitive to my needs to sleep, and my babies are not very conductive to that need! Ashlyn is just now sleeping through the night at 18 months, in fact. It has been a long, tiring road raising these babies. But, I know the difference next time around is that I have tools God has given me this past year while climbing up and out. And I now have the perspective that it is just a season, a fleeting part of our lives that is also filled with moments of joy and I can make it through.

 What about you? What has put you in survival mode? What tools get you out of it? 

Bloom Where You are Planted

bloomwhereyouareplanted

“It is a simple phrase, but over the last ten years it has become one that I have clung to in many situations. The image of a flower emerging, no matter where the seed may have landed, is a beautiful and strong one to me. I first read this phrase on a card a teacher gave me when I was pregnant and was trying to decide what to do. It was a simple piece of pale pink construction paper to which she had pasted cut magazine words and letters that formed the phrase next to a picture of a potted flower. It hung in my room for years, even after placement. When I went to college, it hung in my dorm room as a reminder.

You are that seed, my friend. You have been planted in this rocky soil of life right now, but did you know you can still bloom where you are? You can choose to allow water and sunshine to reach you where you are, and allow growth to happen. You are not doomed to darkness forever!”

….Read more at Adoption.NET

Dispelling Myths About Birthmothers

Myths

As a birthmother, I get so frustrated at the negative stigma birthmothers have in society. From movies like Juno, to far-fetched soap opera dramas; I feel like they have it all wrong sometimes. Let’s dispel some of these myths right here, right now.

1.  Birthmothers don’t love their child.  Far, far from the truth! Generally, they love their child so much they choose to put aside their own love for the child in an effort to give him or her the best life possible. They love them enough to let them go into the arms of another parent. The love for their child is actually expressed by choosing adoption.

Read more Myths over at Adoption.NET

An Open Birthday Letter: 10 Years of Adoption, 10 Years of Love

10 Years of Life 10 Years of Adoption

 

Dear Anna,

Today you turn 10 years old. It is currently 8:21 pm and in my busy life of 3 kids, plus babysitting, plus growing a new little blessing, I am just now getting to sit down to write. Right now, I was pushing you into this side of earth.  Pushing you from only mine, into sharing you.  At 9:00 pm, you were born.  It seems fitting that I’m getting to sit and ponder your birth and our years together, and apart, so far during this time frame.

I’ll be honest, this has been one of the hardest birthdays for me than others have been.  The number 10 has haunted me as this day approached, how could so many years have gone by already? It is a milestone. A marker of new territory as you grow into a teenager soon. It’s a marker of what I’ve missed in your daily life, but also what I’ve been privileged to enjoy.  In preparing for this big birthday, I grieved in ways I haven’t in a long time.  Sometimes a birthmother just needs to do that. She needs to cry for the loss, cry for what could of been. But then, after some tears and feeling things she hasn’t felt in years…she’ll feel better. At least I did. In my ten years, though I have had moments of grief, I haven’t lost sight of the fact that our adoption was God’s will. I have peace with that, even now.

This actual birthday itself has been fine though. I spoke with you on the phone and was sent a picture to see how grown up you’ve become in the last 10 years.  Getting to hear your voice always, always makes the soothes the ache of missing you. Hearing you tell me that you love me helps immensely. Thank you and I love you, too!  Today actually was filled with joy for me as I remembered and celebrated all that your presence in my life has been.  God has moved in so many ways simply because you exist. From friendships formed, to the talents and dreams God has planted in my heart, your presence was the beginning of those amazingly beautiful things in my life. Best of all, you are the one who brought me back to Christ. I’m so thankful!

I hope you know how blessed, loved, and special you are!  One day you will use your own writing to tell your own story. I can’t wait to see how your next 10 years unfold, with us together at times, and apart.  I pray that God will protect our relationship and let it bloom into whatever God intends for it to be. I pray that you will grow closer to God as you grow into a young lady. I pray you will form friendships that point each other back to Him. Most of all, I pray you that make wise choices and learn from my mistakes. Without my “mistakes” though, we wouldn’t have you.  You are not a mistake, you are a gift. Praise God for His redemption and bringing so much beauty from a dark place in my life.  You light up my world as well as your parents’. Thank you for your bright smile!

Happy birthday, my first born.

Love always,

Your Birthmomma

A Rewriting of Our Adoption Story

My first article is published at Adoption.Net! Will you head over there to leave some comment love?

I chose adoption

 

I still remember the night I found out I was pregnant with my birthdaughter, whom I’ll call Anna. Despite my age of only 16 years old, a boyfriend who wasn’t interested anymore, a junior in high school, not having a job, or even a drivers license, I found myself happy. On that dark October night at a friend’s house, I remember falling in love with the little person growing in my belly as quickly as the positive line appeared on that stick. At 18 years old when a pregnancy test showed another positive line,“Oh crap!” was more like my response…but that is another story. At 16, I was naïve. Blissfully naïve that love would be enough for this new baby and me. After all, wanting to be loved was how I got into this predicament in the first place and a baby would always love me. Right?

Read more here over at adoption.Net!

Counting Our Blessings

countingourblessings2

Our family is super excited to announce another blessing will be joining us in February!  While we all felt we would have another eventually, we were shocked to see it happen this month.  I didn’t feel pregnant at all and only took a test to prove to myself that my period would come, but low and behold there were 2 lines!

I told Mark and the kids that night by playing a family game of hangman, where I had them guess the word “Pregnant.”  When the word finally was obvious, Mark said, “Really? For real?”  The kids didn’t get it wasn’t just a game and I was trying to tell them something so I said, “Do you know what this means? Mommy has a baby in her tummy!” Then the happy screams and jumping commenced.

Jaxson is very set on this being his baby brother and has already named him Jordan. We’ll see about that! Savannah is so excited to have another baby in our house, she is such a great big sister and helper as it is. She is also excited to share the same month as this baby for birthdays! Ashlyn can say “baby” but that’s about the extent of her knowing her world is going to change :-)

Thanks for sharing in our joy!

 

Adoption: Do I Love Her Less?

Adoption Do I Love Her Less

I’m an open book when it comes to my adoption and most of my life, for the simple fact that I want to be real and honest in hopes that it helps encourage others to know they aren’t alone, or dare I say, even change a life.

Recently I was having coffee with a sweet church friend and as we talked about the daily motherhood blessings and battles or my most recent interaction with Anna, she said, “Can I ask you a question…do you love her less?”

“Her” meaning my Anna.

My answer?

No. I don’t love her less. The love is absolutely, unequivocally the same as my other children.  I treasure her presence and smile just as I do my others. I loved my pregnancy with her and holding her just as I have held all my newborns. I bonded with her in those months watching her roll in my womb, and I cherished the velvety feel of her chubby cheeks when I stroked them with my finger just after her birth.

Now, of course, there is a difference.  She isn’t in my daily life. I don’t know her latest favorite color, her teacher’s name, or  have seen her latest drawing hanging in her room. What is different is our bond, our connection.  While I know the core of my parented children’s being intimately, I am not there to know her heart all the time.  There is absolutely love binding us together, but she is in many ways basically a child of friend’s that I adore and enjoy company with. Simply put, the relationship is kinda like having a niece. A very special, loved niece. One that you adore spending time with and spending money on and wanting to know more, but at the end of the day…she is theirs.

I believe Anna and I have a deep underling connection, a connection that can only come from hearing the beating of my heart from inside and me feeling her feet from within. We know we are blood related and want to know each other more, but we aren’t 100% there as I am able to do and be for the children I parent since they are around everyday. Over the years as she gets older, I have hope that that connection will deepen even more and blossom into a beautiful friendship. I have faith the best is yet to come for us!

And remember: Adoption is about love. It is my love for her that I chose the life for her– us– that I did.  

10 Things I’ve Learned in 10 Years of Open Adoption

10 Things I've Learned in 10 Years of Open Adoption

I’ve got an article over at America Adopts spotlighting the things that I’ve learned in our open adoption relationship.  If you are in an open adoption, what would you add?

My birthdaughter’s 10th birthday is coming in just a few weeks!   As her parents and I have been on this journey with our daughter at the center, here is what I have learned in 10 years of being in an open adoption:

 

Communication is key. Just as it is with every relationship, communication is essential to a positive and successful open adoption.  This is key from the first meeting and well into the years later!  Both sides need to know about what they are or are not comfortable with openness wise.  Both need to know the boundaries of either side. Will there be letters and pictures twice a year? How often will we visit? What is it okay for your birthchild to call you?  Is it okay to share pictures on Facebook?  This can mean a lot of tough conversations, but it is so helpful to know where each other stands.

 {Read the rest here at America Adopts!}

  • May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14