Momma-in-Waiting

photo taken when I was a momma-in-waiting
photo taken when I was a momma-in-waiting

Pssst…Hey momma-in-waiting. Yes, you…. You held your breath when the doctor walked in.  You lost his words after you heard, “I’m afraid I have some bad news…”  In that moment, you felt the weight of the world collapse onto your shoulders.  Your body went limp.  You became numb.  You had to shake yourself back out of the stupor you were in.  You were told that you would never carry a child in your womb, but what you thought was….

“I will never be a mother.”

You’ve gotten good at faking that shy smile when others ask how you are doing.  You’ve gotten even better at letting others think you are just fine.  “Fine”….that word is meaningless in your world, except for the fact that you are not fine.  That word has become the mask you wear.  Inside that mask though, you are devastated.  You are trying to keep it all together.  You are pretending to be okay with the news, so much so, that even those closest to you cannot hear the grief-stricken song your soul is singing.

Pssst…Hey momma-in-waiting.  Yes, you….You carry on, and pretty soon days turn to weeks, weeks turn to months, and now, it has been years since you walked into the desert.  Out of courtesy, you join in with others while they celebrate the new arrivals of precious ones into their lives.  You are on the sidelines, sitting on the bench, and waiting…waiting to be the one who is celebrating a life with children.  You feel shame for your jealousy; and yet, you cannot help it.  You feel embarrassment for those long, tearful drive homes after baby showers.  You are exhausted from crying yourself to sleep.  You cannot be comforted, and, you don’t want to be.

You don’t look forward to opening up birth announcements because you know that with each tear of the envelope, a little more of your heart is being torn.  It pains you to buy the gifts, wrap them with a pretty bow, and walk through the doors to greet the one who is carrying what you cannot.  Anger sits by your side.  It has become your friend, but it doesn’t serve you, it doesn’t care about you, and it doesn’t fix your problem.  You are a jilted daughter.  You have been robbed of the very thing you want more than anything.  You are thinking….

“Why Lord? Why can’t I be a mother?  What did I do wrong?”

Pssst…Hey momma-in-waiting.  Yes, you….Your life is different from what you thought.  There is great silence in your world.  The longing you feel is so deep that it feels as if it will consume you at any moment.  Your child, your baby, your dream….has vanished.  You think about your baby.  You visualize him.  He has your eyes, daddy’s chin, he is perfect, and he is wonderful.  He was perfect….He was wonderful….He was yours.  You feel haunted by a child who will never be born.

Pssst… Hey momma-in-waiting. Yes, you… You who have longed for years to have and to hold a child of your own, only to be told that it will not, it cannot, ever happen.  Your walk in this world feels heavy.  You know there are multitudes of others out there going through the same thing, but you feel like the loneliest person in the world.  You read the brochures about adoption that are sent to you, and you listen to the advice of others…but…you know this is a battle all to your own.  You are a soldier fighting in an army of one.

You are a momma-in-waiting.

Has anyone ever told you that it is okay to feel the way you do?  Has anyone told you that they too would be grieving if in your shoes?  Has anyone ever given you a true glimpse of hope for the future?

Pssst…Hey momma-in-waiting.  Yes, you…The One who created you sat by you when the floor fell out from under your feet while in the doctor’s office.  The One who created you sees your half-hearted attempt to be happy for others.  He holds your hand when you walk into baby showers, He reads the announcements with you, and He catches the tears that tire out your weakened body.  He is in the silence.  He is right there with you,very step of the way, as you meander around with infertility as your shadow.  The One who created you hears the song of your grief-stricken soul.

He sees the baby you dream about.    He knows the baby you dream about.    He is creating the baby you dream about.

Pssst….Hey momma-in-waiting.  Yes, you….Don’t give up.  Don’t give in.  You are weak from your battle, but the One who created you is standing firm.  He did not forsake you as He hung on the cross, and He will not forsake you now.  You are thirsty walking through this desert, but He is there to quench your thirst.  You feel devoid of life, but He is life.

Has anyone ever told you that there is great worth in the wait?  Soon, yes, soon…the wait will be just a memory, the pain will perish, and your soul’s song will be one of joy.

Pssst….Hey momma-in-waiting.  Yes, you….Lift your head and dry your eyes.

Soon, yes, soon….You will no longer be a momma-in-waiting.  You will be  a mother.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

**I wrote this piece in hopes of both validating and inspiring women who are struggling with infertility.  As I look at the picture taken of me years ago, I can see the hardship of the years in my eyes.  If you are not a regular reader of my blog, you may not know that I am a mother through the gift of adoption.  I can look back now and see that while I was in the despair of infertility, the Lord was writing the story of my life, and the lives of my children, to include each other. For that I am truly blessed!**

Diaper Rash Fix (Homemade)

photo (52)This is probably one of the most random posts I will ever share, but I thought I would pass this tip along for any mommies who are struggling with treating their infant’s diaper rash.  My granny raised ten babies in the Ozarks area with very little money and had a cure for just about anything.  My mom passed along my granny’s cure for diaper rash, and it definitely works!

It is quite simple.  1) Take flour (plain white flour) and scorch it in a skillet until light brown.  2)  Let it cool completely, then gently pat onto baby’s bottom.

It works within 24-48 hours.  The diaper rash or redness is essentially gone!  Make sure to warn your sitters or anyone else watching your little ones though as it may shock and scare them a little to change a baby’s diaper and not know that you have coated their bottoms with scorched flour!

I know my granny had other fixes from her life of raising children with very little resources.  I need to ask my mom and other relatives so that I can write them down and pass along to my children.

Thanks for reading and have a great day!

Visions of Pregnancy

Before the adoption of my children filled my home and my heart, and before the Lord’s revelation in my life, I used to wonder what I would look like if I were pregnant.  Here is another excerpt from my memoir in a chapter where I talk about the deep longing that existed when walking around with the feeling of emptiness.  I cannot believe I am admitting this, but…deep breath…here it is:

I secretly envied my pregnant friends.  I wanted what they had.  The joy, excitement, and love they shared with their spouses throughout their pregnancies were clearly obvious and I was jealous of it.  It felt really childish for me to think “why can’t I be like that?”  Or, “why does she get to have more children when I cannot even have one?”  It was almost shameful for me to think that way, or at least I felt ashamed of having those thoughts about them.  I love my friends and I love their children and I know it is wrong for us to covet what others have, but I honestly did.

Just once I wanted to know what it would feel like to carry a baby in my body, or hold a baby and believe that he or she was mine.  Every so often, I dreamed about being pregnant.  I do not know what made me feel worse – the dream itself or waking up.  Often, I stuck a ball under my shirt, stood in front of the mirror, and just stared at myself.  I surveyed the shape from every angle.  This was the closest I would ever come to seeing my “pregnant” belly.  I always thought I would have made a cute mom-to-be.

It is a mistake to assume that women who cannot have biological children never wonder what their pregnancies would feel like.  Most of us, although sympathetic to those going through it, would give anything to know what morning sickness was like, or to have the moment when a slight kick is felt from the inside.  We would give nearly anything to have an ultrasound done that reveals the life growing inside of us.

Most of us have dreamed about pregnancy.  Most of us have had visions of ourselves pregnant.  Many of us still do.

I never, ever told anyone close to me that I used to stand in front of the mirror daydreaming of being pregnant.  It was embarrassing and I felt as though I should not have even considered it.  But, why not?  Why not wonder what it would feel like to be pregnant?  This is not wrong, silly, or senseless.  It makes perfect sense to me.

If your path to pregnancy is jagged right now and you find yourself hiding away in front of a mirror staring at your belly, it is okay.  Do not be embarrassed.  Do not feel as though you should not be doing this.  Give yourself a break and daydream all you need to.  I get it, and my guess is that nearly every one else who is struggling with infertility or barrenness gets it to.

May His vision of you fill your life with love, peace, and understanding.

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Moments Like This

I watched my first baby walk through the doors of Kindergarten today.  His backpack was nearly as big as him and even though he has grown so much over the years, he still seems too small to release into the big, new world of the school system.  I have written before in my post Motherhood Dreams about certain things that I worried missing out on if I never became a mother.  Well, sending a child to Kindergarten is one of those things.  It is one of my so-called Bucket List Items that I can now check off as having completed.

As someone who is barren, I truly never thought this day would come.  Now, as my mind is racing with a hint of sadness, nervousness, excitement, pride, and appreciation, I cannot help but think about the first time I saw him.  As his (former) foster mother, I did not know for sure if I would even have him long enough to celebrate his first birthday so thinking about sending him off to his first day of Kindergarten was just a dream.  Today, this dream came true.

I know sending a child to Kindergarten is not exactly the kind of action-packed, adrenaline-laced bucket list item that most people aspire to do.  I get that.  I too have wishes of high-flying adventures tucked away that I would like to experience in my lifetime.  But, at the end of my life, I want to be able to look back at moments like this and remember them.  I want to hear them, smell them, and feel them.  I want them to be the moments that leave my heart happy and that remind of the gift of life.

His birth mother came to my mind a lot today as well.  Another moment in time of great relevance has passed her by.  I am so glad that I was the one to kiss him goodbye and take one last glance over my shoulder as I walked out the door of his classroom.  Yet, at the same time, my heart felt a twinge of sadness that she was not able to.  In my post, I thought of you today birth mother, I wrote down my feelings about her on the day he graduated from preschool.  Today was no different.  I suspect every milestone in his life and in mine will remind me of who she is, what she is missing, and the grace that has covered the both of us.

Today was more than just sending my first baby off to Kindergarten.  It is one day that I am so thankful to have to cherish.  I get another chance in a few years with my daughter, but for right now, I am going to soak up this moment as much as I can.

This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Psalm 118:24

My Inner Momma

“He settles the barren woman in her home as a happy mother of children. Praise the Lord!” – Psalm 113:9

I’ll admit it. I was once scared to be a parent. I believe this fear may have started after my hysterectomy at age eleven. I suppose that a part of me wondered if I would know how to care of babies and little ones since I did not have the capability to carry a baby in my body. That seems sort of ridiculous, but it truly was a concern of mine.

The notion that my natural maternal instincts exited my body when the organs did is something that was never too far from my thoughts. I’m not really sure why and perhaps it was because of my young age, but I just assumed that the female organs went hand in hand with the ability to be a good mother. These thoughts stayed with me throughout my growing years and even right up to the moment when I became responsible for caring for a child.

I was not quite sure if I really knew how to mother a child. Babies always made me a little nervous, and I never really volunteered to babysit or care for children. It could be that most women feel this way before becoming a parent. I don’t know for sure. The sense of my own ability to instinctually be a mommy had been damaged somehow. I believed that I did not have what it took to be a mother and for some reason, I was not meant to be one. I feared that I would have to work harder at it and it would not come as natural.

Reality hit me the moment I became responsible for a life other than my own. My first care of a child came when we accepted temporary guardianship of my nine year old second cousin. Immediately I just knew I was meant to be a parent despite my medical history and the insecurities that followed. Something awoke in me. The inner momma that had been suppressed by life experiences began to speak, and I liked the sound of her voice.

I went from being aloof about trusting my parenting abilities to craving becoming a parent. Parenting became this complex, tiring, and joyful yet completely fulfilling experience. During this time, I started picturing myself as a mom. Growing up, this is something I never was able to do following my hysterectomy. I barely allowed myself to visualize being a mommy. I had moments when I would dream up my fantasy child, but truthfully, I never saw those dreams coming to fruition.

My husband and I knew that if we did not at least try to become parents, we would risk regretting it much later in life. I needed to parent. While raising my cousin, I felt more alive than I ever had before. The experience of caring for him lit the fire in us to become foster and adoptive parents.

Once we started fostering, it seemed that the most natural part of foster parenting our children was actually parenting them. I know that sounds so strange. The legal system does not lend itself to feeling natural. The placement of our kids was not normal in that we went from being childless to instant parents with just a few phone calls. Driving our son to visit his biological parent, handing him over, and then walking away always felt so surreal. Visits by case workers to our home every few weeks to make sure we were safely taking care of the kids felt invasive even though we appreciated them for doing so. Compared to all of the other experiences foster care provided us with, parenting them was definitely more organic.

I never knew really how easy mothering would come for me. My instinct to nurture never really left. It was not damaged from the surgery. It was not taken away with the organs. It just needed time to blossom. The inner momma in me found her voice, grew her wings, and took flight on the most amazing journey available to us on Earth….the blessed journey of selflessly putting ourselves second in order to care for and love on children.

Dear Infertility

Dear Infertility,

Hello, it’s me again. You know…the little girl you once made to feel inadequate, the teenager you once strived to isolate, and the adult you almost accomplished stealing joy from. Well, I’m here to tell you what you cannot do.

You cannot diminish moments of laughter that echo in my mind for days following. You won’t determine my capacity to love other people and children. You no longer make me feel less of a female or parent or anything else you once tried to convince me of.

You don’t stalk me like you used to. I don’t think of you when I see babies anymore. I actually enjoy going to baby showers now. You used to tag along uninvited just to make me feel uncomfortable.  You are not invited, anymore.

You no longer cause a wedge between me and the loving Father I believe in. You used to do that, you know. I used you as an excuse to not listen to Him. He is bigger than you will ever be.  He reminds me what His plans are for my life, not yours.

You cannot take away forgiveness. You do not replace hope. You obviously offer very little grace, but I do not look to you for it anyway.

For the most part, you were one of my darkest secrets. I hid you away for so long.  Funny thing now is that I’m exposing you to the world. You have become my motivation to write, to reach out, and to love.

At one time, I was incomplete. You filled an ever-growing void with even more sorrow, but not anymore. I will never use you again as a way to justify my lack of purpose or meaning in this life.

Dear infertility…this is not goodbye. I can still use you to be a more passionate person. I can still reminisce of you as a reminder to try and love my children more each day than I did the day before. I see you trying to pull others down and I recognize you right away. I use this as motivation for being a more genuine and empathetic listener. The tears I cry now are not for me, but for those of whom you are trying to take over.

Dear infertility…you have not stolen my ability to have a bountiful life. I have a full, rich life that involves children despite your attempt at taking that away. My life is no longer barren. You did not create a wasteland in me. Oh, I won’t forget you. How can I really? You have traveled with me the vast majority of my life, but you are not my life. Ironically, you have caused me to view life as being precious.

Dear infertility…this is not goodbye. This is me saying hello to all the things that you will never be.