Distraction

Lately, I have been praying for direction.  That’s not a surprise.

For years, B and I felt so strongly about adoption that we prayed for God to make it clear whether we should have biological kids.  We feel that He made it clear.

But, for those who have researched adoption, you know that we are just at the beginning of a new mountain.  Where do we adopt from?  I know, I know, plenty of people have told us, “You know, there are plenty of kids right here in the United States of America that need a good home.” Right, clearly, my husband who had 20 foster siblings knows this.  We know this.  But, we are prayerfully considering where to adopt from–domestic and international.  There are millions of kids, in fact 153 million, who need a good home both domestic and abroad.  That weighs heavily on us.  When people tell us, “You know, there are kids here that need a good home,” I want to ask, “Why is it up to the infertile couple to solve this problem?”  Because it’s not.  It takes all of us — the infertile and the very fertile.

Now off my soapbox.

Lately, we’ve been pleading to God to show us where.  And so far, nothing.

Some of you might be thinking, “Oh M, how naive.”  But in the big stuff in my life, God has worked this way.  My doctorate, my dissertation, even how I met B, the stories behind this are amazing, too amazing.  I am so dumb, so blind, so distracted that when the Lord answers, he has to answer loudly.  He has to yell at me and say, “M, hello, M, right here.”

Yesterday, I was rushing to a meeting and I was multitasking!  While walking across campus to the meeting, I was checking my work email and replying to urgent matters.  Suddenly, I looked up and I was headed down the wrong sidewalk 100 feet beyond the building I needed to go to.  Right there, I started cracking up at myself.  It reminded me of this woman.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bGpVpsaItpU&w=560&h=315]

And then today, I noticed it wasn’t just a M problem.  Once again, I found myself walking across campus to a meeting.  Two students nearly ran into me because they were doing something on their smartphones.  Clearly, there I was, in full view.  They never saw me.  I stepped off the sidewalk to let them pass.  They  had no idea that I did this.

And so I wondered, how often are we all too busy, too distracted, too hurried to miss seeing God’s face and his goodness all around us.  How often are we too distracted to see that someone is hurting, lonely, and in need of encouragement?

I don’t know about you – but, I know that in my own life, when I am too distracted I end up in the wrong direction…and I miss out on the opportunity to really love others.

So what is that distractor for you?  I think it is an us issue, not just a M issue.

So while I am praying for direction, for the Lord to make his path clear, I am making sure that I am running away from the distractors in my life.

Trauma

Trauma sucks.  Vocabulary doesn’t.  Merriam-Webster dictionary defines trauma as –

a : an injury (as a wound) to living tissue caused by an extrinsic agent

b : a disordered psychic or behavioral state resulting from severe mental or emotional stress or physical injury

c : an emotional upset

I would add:

d: infertility.

Psychiatrists agree with me, so don’t judge…I am not being over-dramatic.  The professionals say that learning you are infertile is traumatic and that a couple must mourn the loss…They say it is as stressful as a cancer or HIV diagnosis.  It is stressful.

I need to mourn.  We are mourning.  Everything that took me five minutes to do now takes me 10 minutes…or 20 minutes.  We both say we are in a fog.

It sucks that our bodies aren’t working the way they were meant to.

It sucks that frustrated moms complain to me how annoying their toddlers are.  YOU. OH. FRUSTRATED. MOM. HAVE. A. CHILD. Sigh.  Be grateful. I know it can be hard to love a little person that tests your patience, but dang it, you have a little person. Each day you have is a gift.  You were able to create one part you and one part your lover. When your patience gets tested, swoop your child up and give her a kiss.  Many of us long for those days.

Books say I need to mourn. I am mourning.  We are mourning.

And even though we are mourning the fact that our bodies don’t work the way they were designed to, we are so grateful that we are in this together.  We are always in this together.

When doctors saw our diagnosis, they were quick to recommend the most agressive infertility treatments to both of us.  It felt like a Lifetime movie, except less cheesy and more painful.  This is not my life.  Seriously, this is not my life. They’d ask, “What’s your plan?”  We didn’t like their plan, so we set out on making our own.  Adoption.  Just as aggressive as they were in their medical treatments, we were aggressive in our research.

Instead of surgeries and injections, we received paperwork and bought books.  We read about all of the things couples wanting to adopt should read about.  The Connected Child. RAD. Cleft Lip. Children with Special Needs.

Did you know when you fill out an application to adopt, they ask you to check off a list of the special needs you are willing to accept in an adoptive child?

It’s emotional. It’s an education. And, I know this is a journey that the Lord has designed for us.

And tonight, we both looked at each other and said, “I’m sad our bodies don’t work like they should. I’m sad there are babies in this world that some consider cursed.”  Just as we have no control over our bodies and our infertility, a baby has no control over the fact that she has special needs.

On Friday, I was talking with a friend about the things I have expressed in this post.  Even though adoption was always part of plan A for us, I am grieving the loss of childbirth. Of nursing. Of being able to feel a kick for the first time. Of not being able to sleep though the night because I am as big as a whale. Of midnight cravings.

My friend reminded me that feeling this sense of loss is important.

Because my child will likely feel a similar sense of loss. Of abandonment.  Of looking at B and me and seeing two people who love her, but don’t resemble her. Of wondering. Wondering what the birthmother looked like, what her life was like, how she is, if she thinks of them.  The experts say she’ll wonder.  I can understand the wondering.  I’m sad for her loss.

We both recognize that we need to heal and pray.  The past three months have been more gut wrenching than a roller coaster.  So we are taking steps to mourn and to heal.

And that’s what sucks about trauma.  The world goes on.  And you feel like you are headed in reverse.

For Thanksgiving, we are headed to Huntington Beach for a trip just for the two of us.  Nothing says healing like In-N-Out Burgers and the ocean.  Yeah, and you better believe we are going to Disneyland on Thanksgiving.  We need a trip to the happiest place on earth. We need a break.

We are deeply grateful, and even joyful.  But, we mourn.  And, we are giving ourselves time to mourn.

Even though the adoption process will take years (yes, that is plural), we are giving ourselves a couple of months to heal.

We are fairly confident of the adoption agency we are going to go with, but, we have no idea which country we will adopt from.  So, we are taking a break from the research to focus on self-care, prayer, and healing.  We’ve set a date to begin the MONTHS of paperwork.  Not today.  Not this month. Many people say the adoption experience is quite difficult.  Before throwing ourselves into such difficult and long process, we are going to take time to focus on self-care.

I don’t feel like M.  I’m a little less feisty, organized, sharp, and funny.  He doesn’t feel like B. We are in a fog. So, we are giving ourselves time to heal.  There is a season to heal.  And dang it, there will be a season to dance.  B and I will dance.

In all of this, we have been on the same page.  That is something worthy of praising God for.

Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,

    a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,

    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,

    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,

    a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,

    a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,

    a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

Wise Counsel

“Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety” – Proverbs 11:14

This weekend, B and I had dinner with three different couples who have all experienced infertility and adoption. There is an immediate, “I get you and you get me” when we interact with these couples.  There is an understanding of the grief associated with infertility, an awareness of the decisions we are currently wrestling with, and a commitment to pray with us for our children, their birthmothers, and potential caretakers.  Last night, B and I kept saying, “God’s people–these people–are so good. God, you are so good for connecting us.”

Here are some random thoughts from the Moores as we process:

  • In each of their stories, we saw the active role God played.  He moved mountains.  We left each conversation more convinced, “God loves His children and He will take care of them.” He will take care of the children he selects for us. He will take care of us.
  • B and I are whole with or without children.  However, we believe there is a child out there that God has selected for us to care for.  We feel like this weekend was an important step in the journey to find our child.
  • It was so good to see couples on the other side of this journey with kids in their arms.  They started their journey at the same place we have: an infertility diagnosis.
  • The journey we are embarking on will be full of challenges–most of all for our children.
  • This is a journey that requires us to walk by faith and not by sight.
  • Their stories are beautiful testimonies of God’s active role in the life of his children.  It’s about Him.
  • There is such a deep appreciation for the gift of parenthood, and each of them are wonderful stewards of this role.  They longed for the 2AM feedings for so long.
  • Many people have said they would pray for us, these couples actually did. Each couple took significant time to pray over us.
  • All of us have an awareness that none of this is in our control.

So, how can you pray for us?

  • Over the next couple of weeks, we will be meeting with adoption agencies.  Please pray that it would be clear to us which agency we should work with.
  • B and I don’t know if we should adopt domestically or internationally.  There are pros and cons of each.  There are risks with each.  Pray that we know the difference of when we are just being fearful or experiencing a lack of peace because it is not the path we should pursue.
  • Pray for our children, their birthmothers, and their caretakers.  Pray for protection.  Pray that the kids will be treated with kindness.  That they will be loved.  Our child could be grieving right now.
  • Pray for us as we continue to process through the grief associated with infertility.  Tonight, I had to pass the maternity section at Target on my way to the dressing room.  Yesterday, a friend had a baby shower that I could not bring myself to attend.  It was too soon.  I didn’t cry, but there is a natural longing.  It is a reminder that there aren’t supposed to be orphans, infertility diagnoses, abortions, miscarriages, teen pregnancies, crappy parents, etc.  But there are.  We are grateful that we love a God who is actively working in the brokenness of all of us.

Thank you for your prayers and notes of encouragement.  We covet your prayers.

With love,

B and M

The Magic Couple

Today we learned a little more.

Became a bit more educated.

Listened to a lot of big, scientific words explaining why I’m sterile.

Got a lecture on how they could slice, dice, poke, cut, biopsy, and prod and then maybe, possibly, no promises, doesn’t seem hopeful, they could find something useful. Doesn’t seem hopeful.

Oh, but then we told him about M’s infertility.

Then we laughed.

And the doctor looked at us like we were nuts.

One person with infertility issues stacks the odds against you. Both is just laughable.

We laugh because even though we don’t have a clue what God is up to, we know He’s saying, “You two just wait. I’m cooking up something that’s 10 times better than anything your little minds can conjure. And 100 times better than this doctor.”

On his way out of the room, the doctor called us “the magic couple.” Yeah, I guess you could say that. He said, “If at all possible, couples like you should reproduce.”  He even used the word, “surrogate.”

M wanted to correct him, “Couples like us should be parents, not necessarily reproduce.”

And at the end of the day today we looked at each other and said, “I think we’re on the right track.”

How Can I Help?

Yesterday, a friend apologized for not contacting us to talk because he/she did not know what to say.  Hey, that’s okay.  Really, truly.  I get that it can be awkward.

But, please don’t feel awkward around us.  We are at the point where we can talk about stuff.  We don’t get offended if people ask how we are doing.  There’s stuff I don’t want to write about online, but that I’ll tell people in person.  We aren’t wounded. We aren’t angry.

There is a way that you can help us.

So how can you help?

We need people to pray for us–everyday.  It can feel selfish to ask you to pray, but this is the kind of stuff that will affect the rest of our lives and the little people’s lives who are entrusted to us.  And a birthmother’s life.

If there is one thing I’ve learned through all of this is that there are a ton of you who love us.  What a gift to know that.

So pray for us and pray for the kiddos that we will welcome into our home.  In all seriousness, a woman in the United States or another country could be pregnant with a child right now who will be entrusted to our care.  When I wake up at night, I think of her and pray for her.

Please pray for B and I as we make decisions about adoption–which agency to use, where to adopt from, where not to adopt from, etc.  We need the Lord’s discernment and we surrender all of this to His care.  We really need discernment and wisdom.  Please commit to praying for this with us.

We surrender this to His care, and ask that you join with us in that prayer.

Over the next couple of weeks, we will be meeting with people who have adopted domestically and internationally.  Be praying for these conversations.  And if you have adopted or you are adopted, we want to learn from you.

Fondly,

m & b

Comfort

It’s that awkward song and dance.  You learn a friend is going through a difficult time and you see them for the first time.  What do you say?  Do you mention, “Hey, I am sorry ___________ happened,” do you give advice, or do you act as if nothing is happening?  Even more awkward, what if it’s a colleague and not a close friend who is hurting?

What do you do?

During the past few months, we have been blessed by people who have comforted us.  Maybe some day (probably not) I will post a blog of what not to say to a hurting friend, but, not today.  Today, I want to share things people have done that have comforted.

What is comfort?

Merriam-Webster dictionary defines comfort as “to give strength and hope to and to ease the grief or trouble.”

So how have others given strength, hope, eased grief and trouble?

– The colleague and friend who baked us a chocolate cake.  When she handed it to me, I thought to myself, “B will love this” because I figured it had gluten in it.  She then said, “And of course, it is gluten free.”  WHAT?! I felt so cared for.  When she gave it to me, she said, “Because sometimes, I know you won’t want to talk about it, here is a cake to comfort.”  She brought comfort.  She listened to me a lot.  She affirmed me.  There is strength in that. Oh, and her cake was incredible.

–  The woman at church, who must have read the “news” (I don’t know what to call it) on Facebook.  She gave a real hug, and whispered, “I love you. I’m so sorry.”  It was one of those hugs that swallows you in a good way. That eased the grief.

– The family physician I’ve seen for years who asks how life is, and when I update him, stops typing, stops rushing, and just takes time to listen.  Suddenly, it does not feel like “doctor” and “patient” but humans having a convo about a season in life.  We’ve been talking for years about when B and I would have kids.  Today the convo is different.

– The student of mine who is such a good, good, good mom to a toddler. She balances motherhood and a full load of classes with more grace than anyone I’ve met.  She sends us flowers.

– The two-year old niece who has no idea what’s going on, but gives slobbery kisses and begs to see “M” and “B.”

–  Each morning, the baristas at Pour Jon’s who write notes on my latte cup.  They write lovely things to me–things that always make me smile.  Chris, the owner, gave us free coffee when he heard.  We feel loved.  We love Pour Jon’s.

– The people who write us and tell us they’ve been down this road–whether that’s infertility or adoption.

–  The student who upon seeing the adoption form in your office, says with tears in her eyes, “That is going to be one lucky kid.”

– The husband, who wakes up at 3 AM because you cannot sleep and you need to talk…and talks to you until 5 AM.  Because, yeah, that’s normal.

– The friend who is your colleague and also a therapist who says, “You guys say you are fine, and I believe you are fine.  If you ever want to talk, then I’m here.”  And when you take him up on that offer, he listens, and he offers advice– really good advice–when it’s asked for.

– The girlfriends of mine who check in, text, and call.  They always communicate support.

– The students who slip a card in the middle of the stack of homework.

– The people who remind you, in the sincerest way, that they are praying for you on a daily basis.

– My dad, who asks, “M, are you going to be okay?”  We are going to be okay.

– To the new friends who want to go for a drink.  We laugh for 60-90 minutes…all feels right with the world.

– Breakfast with college friends at Cathy’s Corner.

We are comforted.

Our Story

We had been trying to get pregnant for a few months, but each month, my body whispered the answer no. “Stress” I told myself, “it must be stress.” After all, I had just finished one of the most stressful experiences in life by finishing my doctorate. “Beer”, I told myself, “it must be that glass of beer B drinks a couple of times per week.” So he stopped drinking all alcohol. “Baths,” B asserted, “you take the hottest baths imaginable, M. I bet it’s the bath.” Infertility books said not to take hot baths, so no more hot baths for me. “Supplements,” I told B, “we must not be on the right supplements.” So, we both took the supplements all experts say infertile couples should take. “Working out” I started to wonder, “maybe I am working out too much.” But each month, my body whispered no.

These kind of thoughts can make the feistiest girl feel weak. What am I doing wrong?

Vacation. Vacation must be the answer. And so, we went on a vacation that many people considered the vacation of a lifetime. Upon our return from the vacation of a lifetime my friends and family jokingly asked, “Pregnant?” That simple one word question, said with a smile, stung so badly. They had no idea. If they did know, they never would’ve asked. Because, they did not know what happened on my vacation.

I knew I was infertile. I learned that I was infertile on vacation. How? You won’t believe me. Why? Because these things don’t happen in real life. But they do–they did in my life. So what happened?

B and I were in Positano, Italy about to leave for Switzerland to celebrate 10 great years of marriage. I went to bed like I always go to bed. And like always, I woke up at 3 AM. Normally, I roll over and fall back asleep. However, this time, I felt like someone woke me up. I sat up in the bed while B snored. “M, you are infertile. Read the story of Sarah in the Bible. My promise to you is to work in Mighty ways.” Quickly, I tried to remember the story of Sarah. I grabbed my iPhone and read through the Bible online. I woke B up and said, “B, something weird just happened.” He rubbed my back and started snoring again. M, you are infertile. The next morning, I told B what happened. “Interesting,” was his response. That’s always the answer he gives me when he doesn’t think something is interesting or does not want to think about what I want him to think about.

So as soon as we got home, I called my doctor. I could not get in to see him until the end of September. Dang it. Another two months of waiting, wondering. Another two months of no. So I did what any stressed woman does, I charted my cycle. After one month, I knew I had problems. I even knew the word for the problem. I called my sister, after all, she’s a nurse.

So, my husband and I each told our parents about one month before my appointment. I could hear sadness in my mom’s voice–sadness for me.

Leading up to my doctor’s appointment, my charts continued to tell the same story, to blare the same problem, to tell me that my body was not working as it should.

And so my brain did what all brains do.

Why the heck can Snooky get pregnant, but I can’t?

I mean, do we need more Snookies in the world?

Come on, really…this one girl I know smoked the entire time she was pregnant. I eat all organic food. (self-righteous, anyone?)

Is this punishment for a past sin? (False theology, right there.)

Will B still love me? (Duh, of course he will still adore you.)

And even more statements that I said to myself that are far too personal to share with anyone except my family.

But my doctor confirmed what I saw in my chart. Yes, I even have a diagnosis…and one that I do not feel comfortable broadcasting into the “internets.” I was devastated. Anguish. Despair. Such a deep sadness and guilt. Fear. Pressure. Doubt. Anger. Rage. Emptiness. That cry you cry when you cannot catch your breath kind of cry and your nose is running as fast as the tears. I just felt like I was letting everyone else down, disappointing them. Numb. Shock.

As I drove home from the doctor, I wondered if I was worthy of love anymore (yeah, I know…dramatic. But infertility sucks. God made me to want to conceive. To feel otherwise would be ignoring just a few years of history, people.).

Am I worthy of love?

Have I ever told you I hate my real name? Blech. In that moment of pure ugly cry, I remembered that I was supposed to be a boy. And, I was a girl. And, my parents fought and fought over my name. And they named me M. Do you know what M means?

Worthy…of…LOVE.

Out of all of the names in the universe, my parents gave me a reminder by NAMING me “WORTHY OF LOVE.” Man, what a precious gift. That single thought made me see that I am worthy of love, not for who I am or what I do, but just because I am. I am worthy of love. What a precious gift my name has been since one week ago today.

As soon as I got home from the doctor, I told B that we needed to get him tested. I told him before they put me on any drugs that would make me hard to live with, we had to get him tested. And so we drove back to the hospital for an experience that was unlike any other I ever want to experience again. We looked at each other and said, “None of this process feels right for us.”

It wasn’t.

On Tuesday night, I could not sleep. “Lord, tell me what to do. I want you to slam the doors shut that you want shut.” Overwhelmingly, I felt more inclined to adopt than to seek out infertility treatments. But, would others accept this choice? I knew B would. For the past several YEARS, we had talked about intentionally not having biological children and focusing our attention to adoption. We even prayed for guidance. I woke him up, “I want to adopt.” He replied, “Me too.” Then I said, “No, I mean I don’t want to put myself or us through infertility treatments.” B said, “Me neither.” Infertility treatments never felt right for us. We talked about it in the two months leading up to the appointment.

But I still felt guilt. I still felt like others might blame me, be disappointed, or feel like it was unfair. That is too much pressure for any person. But, it is the pressure of infertility.

And then last Thursday, the nurse called me. “M, is your husband on any weird prescription medications?”

“No,” I said. But I wanted to say, “He doesn’t even drink beer.”

“Did he have any trauma?” she asked.

“Yes, as a child he had a surgery twice.”

She responded, “Oh thank God! Then you might have wondered if he is sterile???”

I replied, “Yes. It’s why I was so adamant that we test him.”

The nurse said, “Your husband has no sperm. Not one. His Ph level is great. No sperm.”

My dad was right, when we were 20 he told us B might be sterile because of that surgery. Other docs said, “No, he’ll be fine.” I’ve learned that my dad is the best doctor ever. He was right.

So immediately, I went home and found B.

“B, we have been praying for God to reveal to us what we should do. I think he has answered our prayers in an unexpected way. I love you. You are sterile. You didn’t have even one swimmer.”

And then we started cracking up.

And he hugged me, and he laughed, and then he cried, and then he said, “I told your sister to pray for this when we learned that you were infertile.” The look on his face was relief. He meant it.

There is no guilt or blame between us. We feel as though we have discernment on the path ahead. We are processing through all of the events of last week. We are adjusting to our new reality, and in that, there is appropriate grief. Whereas last week I was on an emotional tailspin, today I wrote this entire entry without crying. Sure, there are moments of, “Oh my gosh, our biological kids would’ve had the biggest smiles ever.” But now, that just feels superficial.

There is peace (not denial) in knowing that someone is working out all of the details. I know God is.

What a story. I’m thankful for the story God has written. I am thankful he knows our child, and I cannot wait to welcome him or her into our home.