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Welcome to my family blog. I have been married to Mike for over half of my life. I love my Savior, Jesus. I am a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom to six terrific, interesting children. My 3 oldest were born to me in my younger years, while my 3 youngest were given to me by God in my older years. I am very blessed. ~Cheri

3.28.2012

Losses to Adoption Part 2

Researching adoption can be overwhelming.  I think it was for us because we knew no one who had adopted.  Domestic adoption terrified me.  In 2004, I had read where a birth mother was able to gain back custody of her daughter who had been adopted at birth into a loving family 4 years later.  I did not want that to happen to us.  That story played a very significant part in our decision to adopt internationally. 

So...I desired a daughter.  I read that China had many girls available for adoption.  Travel time was reasonable and we could manage the financial side of it.  It was settled.  We were adopting from China.  I needed to find an agency.  After much consideration, we chose AWAA and sent in our application.  Two weeks passed and we didn't hear anything from them.  In the meantime, I heard about another homeschooling mom who just recently returned home from China with her daughter.  She was more than happy to share her experience with us.  We ended up choosing her agency, Harrah's.  They were a great agency and always on top of things.  I had waited years for another daughter, and I was more than ready to get the ball rolling.  But, I was terrified.  For the past 2 years I prayed that Mike would desire to adopt.  Now he did.  It scared me more than I imagined it would.  I was worried my desire of having another daughter would destroy our family.  Things were good in our lives at that time.  My youngest was almost 7 and life was easy.  Bringing a child into the mix could disrupt everyone's lives.  I prayed that God would take my fears away.  I knew I had to lay this one down.  If God could change Mike's heart, I knew he could take away my fears.  Finally, after 2 weeks, I had complete peace about our decision.  Paperwork was completed, and our dossier was logged into China on June 30, 2005.  At that time, current wait for a referral was just 6 months.  We expected to travel after the New Year.

Well, we all know what happened; the slowdown occurred.  That 6 month wait ended up being a 13 month wait for our referral.  But, it was all good.  Exactly 4 years to the day after I walked out of the hospital without our twins, I held my daughter, Eva, for the first time on her first birthday, September 12, 2006.


3.27.2012

From Losses to Adoption

When I walked out of the hospital with empty arms after losing the twins, I did not feel defeated.  Deep inside I felt I would have another child.  I struggled with feeling contentment with the 3 children I had and a desire to have another child.  I wanted to be content; I truly did.

After one of my losses, a friend said to me, "You can always adopt."  I replied rather hastily, "I want my own children, not someone else's."  Looking back, I realize how ignorant that comment was.  But, I didn't know better.  I did not have a clue about adoption.  I did not know a single person who had adopted.  It was such a foreign word to me.  So, I pushed the thought out of my mind and tried to move on with my life.

In the Spring of 2004, Seth played baseball with a young man who had an adopted brother from Korea.  I found it strange, yet interesting that this family with 4 children adopted a baby from Korea.  Why would they do that?  So, during baseball season, I talked a lot to this mom of 5 about God, adoption, and family.  I studied this fascinating and wild 5 year old boy born on the other side of the world.  I thought, "I could do that.  I could love a child that didn't have my genes or look like me."  After doing some research, I was shocked at the cost of adoption.  I just about gave up.  After some time, I approached Mike with the subject of either adoption or foster care.  His response, "I don't think that is something for us."  My response, "I'll suffer silently."  And, I'll pray.

In December, 2004, Mike had been doing a lot of reading of God's word, and he felt like he was being led to do something with children.  When he shared this with us, I immediately thought of adoption.  He, on the other hand, was thinking more along the lines of children's ministry.  I continued praying.  Nothing seemed to be working out in the children's ministry area.  I prayed some more.

February, 2006, I was reading the paper as we were heading off to do some shopping.  My eyes spied an announcement for an adoption seminar.  It was actually a summer hosting program for children from Russia.  Jokingly, I asked Mike if he was interested.  His response shocked me.  "I think that sounds interesting.  Why don't you check into it and we will go," he responded.  My belly did a few flops that morning, and I tried to put the thought out of my mind.  Once we arrived home, I called the number and signed us up for the seminar the following weekend.  Our whole family went, listened to stories of the children.  I was a crying, sloppy mess by the time it ended.  I was emotionally drained.  There was so much information to process.  I spent the next week researching Russian adoptions.  Every time I did, I also read about other international adoption programs.  China kept jumping off the internet pages at me.  For our family, the China program seemed the most realistic and affordable.  After having 2 boys, my heart was really desiring another daughter.

I'll try to finish this up tomorrow.  I have 2 kiddos heading off to soccer soon.

3.23.2012

Totaled

Most moms (and dads) cannot go to sleep without all their children home safely.  I am one of them.  I have just gotten to a place where I can go to sleep if Jordan is still not home.  But, I'm not there with Seth yet.  And there is a reason for that.  It is because trouble and suspicion follow him.  So, last night, I went to bed very early because of a headache.  I texted Seth and told him that I was going to bed, but be home early so I could actually sleep and not lie in bed waiting on him.  At 10:30, Seth called Mike.


Yes, that is the front of Seth's Toyota Tacoma truck, totaled.  He was 5 miles from home when a drunk driver crossed his path, and Seth hit him head-on.  Seth was just skinned up; the other driver taken to the hospital, where he was/is treated for head wounds.  I am so thankful my son is safe.  As chaotic as things are today, I'm happy we aren't doing anything differently.

(Jordan just called.  Her car stopped working on her.  We have only one working vehicle at the moment with 4 adult drivers.  Two of them work outside of the home, and one of them is heading out of town for work next week. ::sigh::)

3.18.2012

Conclusion of Losses

Trust me when I say I was a big bag of emotions for quite some time.  I wavered unsteadily between fear and trusting God completely.  I just had to take it one day at a time.  Jordan was thrilled beyond my imagination over having twin siblings.  Mike was excited and reassuring the whole time.

The next week, I had another ultrasound.  Baby A and Baby B had a heart beat each.  Baby C was developing, but no heartbeat yet.  The doctor said that it was still very possible for Baby C to "catch up".  I did a lot of praying.  My thoughts were "God allowed us to conceive with 3.  He surely will care of us the whole way."

Weeks slowly turned into months and my tummy was getting nice and round.  By the time I was 13 weeks pregnant, Baby C was no longer visible on the ultrasound screen.  It was difficult for me.  I struggled with the loss of that baby-to-be and the joy of the 2 growing inside me.  Quickly, we were faced with the realization that our lives would soon be changing.  Considering my history, I was in the horizontal position by 16 weeks most of the day on the couch, doing school, leaving the heavy housework to Jordan and Mike.
I had weekly visits to the doctor, and we discussed the high probability that I'd be spending a couple of months in the hospital as a precautionary measure.

I was contracting.  I knew I was.  It is a feeling that most mothers anticipate with excitement.  But, to a mother who has lost children, it made my stomach turn.  I was medicated, as expected, and waited.  Things seemed to go well.  I stressed my doctor out, I could tell.  As the babies grew, so did the weight on my cervix (which we believe was weakened by the D & C I had after my first miscarriage).  I did all I could to stay off my feet.  I remember my last night at home before my babies were born.  Seth asked when I was going to start getting a big belly.  Apparently, he hadn't noticed that I had gained about 20 pounds.  So, I pulled up my shirt for him to see how big I was.  He giggled like only an 8 year old boy as he rubbed my tummy.

The next morning, I awoke feeling the babies flipping around inside of me.  I didn't want to get up, it was such a pleasurable feeling.  But, I had an 8:00 am doctor appointment.  As soon as I got in the shower, that severe, breath-taking contraction came.  I knew that as I slept through the night, my cervix slowly dilated.  Once I stood up, gravity pulled my water bag through.  This was the beginning of the end of my pregnancy.

As I lay in the back of the van on the way to the hospital, I could not believe what was happening again.  I had just spoken the night before to a friend and told her how much I trusted God and had peace that all would be well.  And this is how it is going to end?  With more dead children?  "God!  Where are you?!"

Once at the hospital, I screamed at the doctor to stop this labor, do something, anything, prevent this from happening.  He said there was nothing to do.  I was in active labor, dilating, bulging waters.  I wanted to fire him on the spot.  Mike prayed.  I could not.  All I could do was cry and mourn as I lay there feeling my babies moving around.  They had no idea that their lives were ending that day, half way through my pregnancy.

It was another 12-hour labor.  I didn't want to feel it.  I wanted to be numb.  They obliged with an epidural.  My doctor asked me to allow him to break my water.  Was he crazy?  How could I speed up my children's death?  He had no idea what he was asking.  I wanted to fire him again.  Hours passed.  I started feeling the usual pressure that delivery was near.  It was time for my babies to be born.  But, I didn't see it that way.  To be born, meant life.  For my babies, to be born, meant death.

During all of this, Mike had to talk to Jordan on the phone and console her.  She was in such a terrible state and could not understand how God would allow this to happen.  She called friends, sobbing, looking for answers.  All I could tell her was that it would be okay.  It was not enough for her.

I was prepped and ready for delivery.  I half heartedly gave a push.  My doctor knew I wasn't trying.  How could I push them out?  As long as they were inside, they were alive and safe.  I didn't want them out.  My son, Benjamin Robert, was born at 7:05 pm, on Wednesday, September 11th.  He died in the birth canal.  The contractions were too much on him.  He took the beatings for his sister, Rachel Ann, born at 7:06 pm.  She was alive.  I held them.  Rachel held onto my pinky, squirming around in my arms.  Everything faded into the background.  I didn't pay attention to what the doctor or nurse was doing.  I just held my babies.  Once again, I held my daughter in my arms until she died.

Mike went home to get the children.  Together, we held our babies for quite some time.  I didn't want them to leave.  I wanted to hold them forever.  After some time, Mike took the boys home, and Jordan spent the night with me.  It was hard on both of us being there, but I believe it was good for Jordan to be able to hold her brother and sister.  The next morning, I asked to hold them again.  I knew this would be the last time I would see them this side of heaven.  I wanted to remember every detail about them.  The doctor let me go home that day.   Again, we went through the motions of planning a burial, explaining to family and friends, and grieving for our children.


By now, I was used to grief.  I knew what it felt like; a familiar friend.  Sleep didn't come easily.  I spent my nights crying and being filled with anger.  Anger towards myself, my doctor, and God.  I screamed at God a lot during that time.  I couldn't understand how any good could come from all of these losses.  I couldn't understand why He would allow me to conceive, yet not allow them to live.  A lot went on inside my heart and mind for months.

Gradually, I learned again to trust and love God.  I realized that I didn't need answers to why these horrible things happened to us.  I only needed to love and trust Him.  When I stand before my Savior, will I really want to know why?  No.  I would drive myself crazy if I felt like I needed an answer.  I've learned a lot through my trials.  I learned to trust God in any outcome, not just the outcome that I want.  These trials are what make me who I am.  My God is perfect, so all His ways are perfect.  I know that He loves me, and I am very special to Him.  Now that I'm on the other side, I cannot imagine not experiencing these difficult times.  I wish I had all my children with me, though.  Even in their deaths, they've each taught me many things.

Many of you may wonder how I could share such a personal story on my blog.  It has not been easy, but it has felt good to remember sweet moments.  While writing I've remembered details about one of my children that I had long since forgotten.  It is good to share.  I want people to know that my children's short lives had a purpose, and that I will never forget them no matter how many years pass.

3.17.2012

Part 2 of Losses

After Grace died, I quit my job and became a full-time mommy to Jordan.  It felt good having no other obligations.  I knew that if I wanted to carry a baby full-term, I could not do it while working.  I spent the next few months questioning God and going to many doctor appointments.  After my 6-week check at my current doctor, I knew I needed to see a perinatologist, a doctor who specializes in high-risk pregnancies.  Dr. K tested me for lupus, antibody disorders, blood disorders.  It was a long list of tests.  Every one of them came back normal.

In August, we gave it another try.  I was pregnant, scared, excited.  We had a plan.  At 14 weeks, Dr. K put a cerclage in my cervix to prevent dilation.  It seemed to work.  At 17 weeks pregnant, I started regular contractions.  I was put on terbutaline from an infusion pump in my leg.  I was in and out of the hospital for 20 weeks.  There were days I would have 20 contractions an hour.  I monitored at home, weekly doctor visits, and home health visits.  Bed-rest was my friend.  I became a lazy mom.  I bought Kids Cuisines for dinner.  I allowed Jordan to watch Aladdin two times in a row.  I'm sure it was hard on her, too.   When I was 20 weeks, I was told my baby appeared to have Trisomy 18.  My doctor suggested that I read up on the condition and consider whether or not we wanted an abortion.  We told her not to mention it again.  At 37 weeks, the doc removed my cerclage.  Seth was born 12 hours later.


I was so excited  and relieved to have my family complete.  The next month, I went through a terrible time of fear, of losing my family.  Seeing my 2 daughters die put fear inside of me.  In 2 short years, I realized the frailty of life.  Only by clinging to my Savior, could I overcome.  Slowly I did.

Within a year, I started longing for another child.  We had made the decision to not have more children permanent.  You wouldn't believe the regret and the turmoil I had inside.  Seth arrived safely.  I knew I could do it again.  I researched IVF, and as I've shared before, Jack entered our family just over 4 years after Seth.  Because of my placenta's location, I could not have a cerclage with Jack.  But, as with Seth, I was on the pump and bed-rest.  Once I was taken off all meds, Jack was born at 35 weeks.  Now, I thought, my family was complete.  I had 3 children!  God has so blessed me!


We settled into a nice routine as a family of 5.  Life was good.

We decided to add to our family yet again.  In 2002, we found out we were pregnant.  Once this baby was born, all of our children would be around 4 years apart from each other.  What a nice spread!  For those not familiar with IVF, the process happens the same as natural conception.  The only difference for us, was the tango happened outside of my body.  Once the 2 dancers became one, they are gently placed back where they belong, in my womb.  After that, we hoped and prayed they would stay there.  Pregnancy in "older" women like me, is less likely, so, the doc recommended more than one be placed inside me.  We decided on 3 since the likelihood of all 3 staying was very slim.  With Jack, we placed 2, and only 1 stayed with me.  When I was about 6 weeks pregnant, I had my first ultrasound.  I thought my doc was behaving strangely when he did a quick scan of my womb.  He got a good pic of the baby.  He called him "Baby A".  I wasn't quite understanding him.  Then, he got another picture of "Baby B".  Then another picture of "Baby C".  I cried.  I was afraid.  I could barely carry one baby to term.  How in the world could I carry 3?

3.15.2012

Pregnancy Loss

Some people have asked me privately and publicly about my pregnancy losses.  I've thought about this
post for some time, going back and forth whether or not to post it.  I will share from my heart my personal experiences and feelings.  This story started 2 decades ago, yet my memories are very strong and quite vivid.  I always knew that I would never forget our experiences of becoming parents.

Jordan was born 3 years after Mike and I married.  We were so young and immature.  I'm so glad God was so merciful!  We had no clue as to what we were doing, although we thought we had it all together back in the '90s.  I never really thought about having a big family before, but after having Jordan, I learned that I loved being a mom and being pregnant.  Shortly before Jordan turned 2 years old, I found out I was pregnant, but miscarried very early on.  My loss of the baby continued on for over a month when my doctor recommended a D & C.  What did I know?  Nothing.  He was the doctor, and he took care of things.  Little did I know at the time that this simple procedure would have a great impact on our family.

A couple of months later, we found out we were expecting again.  I was thrilled!  And, I was anxious just to get passed the 8 week mark.  That, I did with no problems.  Things seemed to go well until I was 23 weeks pregnant.  I was on my way to work when I had a very strong pain in my back.  I thought it was a horrible gas pain.  By the time I got to work and went to the bathroom, I figured out I was in labor.  I immediately headed to the doctor where an ambulance took me to the hospital.  I was dilated a few centimeters with bulging waters.  I was started on IV meds to stop labor.  Less than 12 hours later, we had another daughter, Ashton.  She was beautiful.  We had been told she would not survive.  As the doctor took care of me, I watched the nurses pump air into our daughter's lungs to no avail.  She lived just 2 hours.  After the nurses and doctors left, we held our daughter closely and said good-bye.

That night had to be one of the worst nights of my life.  Mike was home with Jordan.  Mentally, I was probably in no condition to be by myself.  I was hyperventilating and had a very difficult time understanding what had just happened.  What caused me to go into labor?  Was something wrong with me?  Would I ever have more children?  Where was God when all this was happening to me?

We had a private burial a few days later.  My milk had come in that morning and I was very uncomfortable.  I remember Mike selflessly washing my hair for me.

The next few months were very difficult, emotionally.  I couldn't understand how the world could just go on.  No one understood what I was experiencing.  It took all I had to head back to work and move on with my life.  Some peace filled me when I found out I was pregnant again.  I needed this to help me heal.  I knew another child would not take Ashton's place, but this pregnancy helped me move on.  Once I past the 23 week mark of Ashton's delivery, I felt relieved and excited.

Mike was in Texas, working for 2 weeks, when I had to go to the ER.  The doctors had no idea what was causing severe right-side abdominal pain.  I had ultrasounds and blood work done for 2 days before they decided it was appendicitis.   By that time, I was delirious from lack of sleep, no food, and severe pain.  Mike had just made it to the hospital when I had an epidural, which brought tremendous relief, then an appendectomy.  The following day, the nurses sat me up for a sponge bath (3 days in the hospital so far), but I still had the epidural in my back.  Despite the numbness, I recognized that horrible sensation of labor once I sat up.  I could not believe this was happening to me again.  I was 25 weeks pregnant.  Viability was 24 weeks.  Would my daughter live?  Grace was born rather quickly, and I cried when I heard the sweet sound of her crying.  Once I was taken care of, I was wheeled to NICU to see our daughter.


She was pink and was a fighter.  Lots of kicking and squirming around.  Her legs were bruised from being born breech, but she was alive and all of her vitals were great.  The doctors were very optimistic.  That night I slept so well.  Grace made it through the night without problems.  But, the next day everything that could go wrong did.  Breathing issues and head bleeds were discussed left and right.  There were main line procedures and head scans.  All the while, I felt helpless and numb.  We could see our daughter dying before our eyes.  Her pink skin had taken on a duller color.  By the time she was 24 hours old, she was exhausted.  She had fought so hard.  The doctors asked us to make a horrible choice.  Let her die. There had been so many prayers for Grace.  We believed and hoped for a miracle.  Grace died in our arms the next night.  We did not understand why or even how this could happen to us again.


I so desperately needed to know the whys of the last 2 years.  But, I would not get an answer from God for over a decade. (Part 2 will be posted shortly)

3.12.2012

Dreams

I have a lot of dreams, and I remember most of them.  My favorite dreams are flying dreams and chase dreams.  It is so exhilarating to jump off a cliff, knowing I can fly.  I love being chased because I know I will always find a secret passage of escape.  I've had some prophetic dreams that I know only came from God.  I dream about the loss of my babies and my dad.  And sometimes I dream about things that make no sense at all.  Here is one I had last night.

Mike and I were at this outdoor cafe and a guy that Mike worked with 20 years ago stopped in to talk to us. We haven't seen Kevin in about 7 years.  But, he was wearing a suit and before he sat down anywhere, he took a blow dryer to clean off his chair. Strange.  Then, I walked next door to my blog friend's house.  Vicky was there and had about 6 children.  We started talking, then Al-Qaeda stormed into the house.  I looked at the news on TV and it showed that they had take over the whole country!  I tried calling Mike from my new I phone, but I couldn't get it to work because I was technology illiterate.  The next thing I knew, we were all lined up in a field and given shovels.  I thought we were there to dig our own graves.  Then, we were given some weird vegetables only grown in the Middle East to plant in the holes we were digging. 

That is it.  My dream.  Joy woke me up because she is sick and coughs all night long.  Poor girl.  I did take her to the doctor today.  I'm sure she'll be feeling better soon.  I just hope I can keep her 2 room mates from getting sick.  I really wanted to know how this dream was going to end.  Did Mike come to the rescue?  Did our nation live under Muslim rule?  Maybe my dream will pick up where it left off last night.  That has never happened before, just so you know.

3.05.2012

Karate, Anniversary, and Stuff

So, Jack has been doing karate for a while.  He recently started a sparring competition team.  He had his first tournament when he was a brown belt.  Jack did okay and got 3rd place.  This past weekend, I took him to his 2nd tournament, his first tournament as a black belt.  He did not do so well.  Some of these guys were 2nd degree black belts.  Jack just is not aggressive at this point in his fighting career.


Don't ask why he's making this weird face.  I have no idea, but he's still handsome to me.  I'm used to standing on the sidelines and cheering my boys on in soccer.  I had no idea of the emotions that would overcome me as I stood on the sidelines watching some boy clobbering on my son!  I did well, though.


Jack definitely has some extra work to do to win these competitions.  He's always been the guy in the background.  He's never been an "in your face" kind of guy like Seth was/is.  Jack prefers not to be seen too much.  Mike and I were so surprised when he wanted to try karate.  We are glad he chose this activity since it has been good for his timidness.  I'm not sure if I'd have the nerve to get up in front of all these people and fight.

And a few days ago, I spotted the girls outside.  Eva, the adventurer, made her own bow and arrow set.  I think she did an excellent job!  She's watched enough of Errol Flynn's Robin Hood to know how to wear it right.  Notice the little sticks in her hands that were her "arrows"?


Remember Eva's double row of bottom teeth?  Well, she finally lost one.  As we were sitting in the kitchen, I noticed that the tooth was gone.

Me:  Eva, did you lose your tooth?
Eva:  Yes.
Me:  Did you pull it?
Eva:  No, it came out by itself.
Me:  It just fell out?
Eva:  No, the blanket pulled it out and the tooth fell on the floor.  Then I threw it in the trash.
Me:  Where was I?
Eva:  In the kitchen.

Wow, I wasn't even aware of this momentous occasion of the loss of her first tooth.  Apparently, it wasn't such a big deal to her.  But, then again, that is the way she is.

This morning, we woke to more of the white stuff?  We've waited all winter long for this stuff and it wants to snow on my daffodils?  It's all melted now and we are expected to have 60 degree temps this week.


And, today is our 25th wedding anniversary.  No, we aren't on an island in the South Pacific.  We aren't doing too much of anything.  I feel sickly.  Allergies have been ruling my life for the last 2 weeks.  So, our plans are on hold.  But, he did pick out this lovely piece for me.


This was the first piece of jewelry he has bought me since my Mother's Ring in 1998, right after I had Jack.


It needs updating.  The five stones were for my 3 children at the time and my 2 daughters that passed away.  I still love it and wear it every day.  Now, I just need a May, September, and October stone added.  ((Hint))

3.02.2012

Should I Take This Personally?

I have a child (left un-named so you won't harbor hard feelings toward him/her) who has no guile.  You could call it no "tact" if you desire.  But this child always speak the truth.  No beating around the bush with this one.  Maybe I've not taught this child proper manners?  Maybe it does no good. I was surprised (well, maybe not) when this child told me after eating dinner, "This was the grossest meal of my entire life."


No one else seemed to have a problem eating coconut fried chicken tenders, wild rice, and broccoli.  Well, maybe Mike, because he dislikes coconut very much.  Is it really that gross?  I think it is time to sit down and have a one-on-one with this child.  Maybe we should all just do a manners/etiquette course? 

For what it's worth...I LOVE coconut.  I spread coconut oil on my toast.  I could eat coconut creme pie every single day, and I LOVE Almond Joys and Mounds candy bars.

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