PregNOT: We’re Going to Be Parents

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Jim pregnantWell, I know this isn’t what it feels like, but maybe, just maybe it is. Motherhood seems so close, this must be what it feels like to see those double blue lines on a pregnancy test. Actually, I have seen those lines on a pregnancy test and it didn’t feel this good. Fourteen days past my missed period I saw them and I didn’t believe them, because after 4 years of trying I learned not to get my hopes up, even when those stupid blue lines show up. I wasn’t pregnant. Turns out the CVS brand gives a lot of false positives. Not cool. It crushed me. But this…this feeling…I KNOW I am going to be a mom soon and I can’t seem to contain myself.

It’s weird, almost unexplainable, but I feel pregnant and not pregnant at the same time. Biologically, I am not pregnant. Emotionally, I AM pregnant. But here is the thing, I have no idea just how pregnant I am. My timeline is not the typical 40 week timeline (see that pregnant ladies? I’m even talking in weeks!). My pregnancy could take 6 weeks, 30 weeks, 52 weeks, and even as much as 260 weeks. So I feel suspended between major moments in pregnancy. I feel like I’m bouncing around between peeing on a stick, seeing my first ultrasound, and nesting.

Now, before I go pissing off all the pregnant women out there. I do realize that what I feel is not what you feel. I don’t have swollen feet or morning sickness. I don’t have someone kicking my ribs and pushing on my bladder all the time. But adoptive mommies to be have their own pregnancy symptoms. And if you heard my embarrassing bathroom stories, I think you might consider an overactive bladder very similar to pregnancy bladder. But that’s not the point. This isn’t about how hard pregnancy is compared to adoption or vice versa. This is about the fact that Dean and I are expecting. I am pregNOT…get it?

And here is the thing: I’m excited, I’m terrified, I’m thinking a different way, I’m waking up in the middle of the night, and I’m embracing the fact that I have no control over this situation right now. Even my body has changed. I don’t know if it’s the mental stress of adoption or what, but I’ve put on 25lbs. And honestly, it feels ok.

The other night I had a dream. It was terrifying. I was holding my daughter, she was a beautiful newborn with dark features. I fell in love looking into her little chestnut eyes. And then I felt something, a presence dark and evil. It crept into the room trying not to be noticed, but I was familiar with this presence, I had felt it before, and I was on guard. Without hesitation I said, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to leave!” But the response I got was not the usual response. The presence said to me, “I am not here for you, I am here for her.” This was new to me, I was only familiar with using Jesus’ name to stand up for my own body, soul, and mind. I had never been the voice for someone else in this circumstance. I held her close and hunched over her little form to create a barrier and I continued to pray in Jesus’ name. Slowly, but forcibly, she was being pulled from me. I held on tight, she was being pulled up and away and my arms were straight now. She looked at me with terrified eyes but did not cry. At this point I couldn’t find words for my prayers, my strength was being sucked from me, all I could say was “Jesus.” I said His name over and over and over and…I was awake.

My heart was still racing, and for a split second I thought I lost her, I searched for her little body, but mid search I heard Dean’s voice say, “What were you dreaming? You kept saying something over and over, it sounded like ‘twenty-six’.”

“I was saying ‘Jesus’.”

I realized it was a dream, but something about it felt so real. My little one was out there (in a womb) somewhere and I needed to pray for her protection. I prayed. I prayed for her and her birth mom and I prayed in Jesus’ name.

It’s crazy because I feel like I have trimesters too. The first trimester was after my very first dream about my little fawn and my brave boy. It was after that dream that I KNEW without a doubt that I would be a mom. And from that point on it was that dream that reminded me why I was going through all this paperwork, anxiety, nausea, exhaustion, etc.

But now the paperwork is over, and I have started to read parenting books, baby proof my house, and ask myself those “taboo” questions: “Co-sleeping, alongside sleeping, or Basinet?”, “Disposable diapers or washable?”, “Will I breastfeed or bottle feed?” Yes, believe it or not you can induce lactation to breast feed. When a friend of mine told me about it I made the same face you’re making right now.

But the more I read about it the more it seems like an option. But that’s not the point, maybe a blog for another day. The point is, it’s dawning on me that Dean and I are going to be parents. This second dream felt like a new step of  waiting. Swollen feet or not, I’m going to be a mom. I may not be getting kicked in the ribs (although, I always leave the home study interviews feeling like I’ve just participated in an emotional WWF wrestling match), but I’m going to be a mom just the same.

The next step on our Adoption Journey: Home study interview at the house on Wednesday the 23rd.

Keep us in prayer! We’re pregnot and we’re going to be parents!

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I Am For You

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Photography by Jessie Patterson

I prayed the entire drive. Dean and I were on our way to meet our social worker, Chelsea* (that’s not her real name, but I changed it to protect identity. I’m not sure what is necessary during this adoption process, so I’ll just be safe). I was so nervous, and Dean was, well, Dean. Dean was calm, confident, and composed. I was worried. I have a tendency to get defensive in these types of situations; situations when someone is making a judgement in regards to my abilities.

Instead of focusing on my positive attributes, I get bogged down by my inabilities. I start to think every question is a trap: that the interviewer is questioning my judgement and wants to prove to me that I am wrong. Basically, I get paranoid that everyone is out to get me. Everyone wants to shame me, hurt me, and be mean to me. Everyone is against me.

I know this isn’t true. I know it’s a lie, but it’s a lie I believed my entire life. It’s a lie that shaped the way I interact with people, and I am just now learning how to live differently. I am just now realizing that not everyone is out to get me. I am beginning to trust people again and that’s a scary thing. But I am also learning that God is for me, not against me.

So on that ride down to our agency I just kept saying “Ok God, You got this.”

This was our very first home study interview. The home study is typically comprised of four meetings with a social worker. Our first meeting with our social worker, Chelsea was at the adoption agency with both me and Dean present. The second and third meetings are individual interviews at the adoption agency and the fourth is an interview with me and Dean at our home followed with a home inspection. After all the interviews are complete, Chelsea will write up our home study and go over it with us, then she will send it in for approval by a judge. Once we are home study approved we can be matched with a child at any time.

The interview seemed to go well, it’s hard to tell because Chelsea never really gave us an indication about what she thought of our answers. There doesn’t seem to be a “right” and “wrong”, and then randomly there is. It’s hard to explain. I felt like when I was “right” I wasn’t actually “right” because more and more questions were asked for clarification, but when I was “wrong” I was really “wrong” and I needed to fix it before the next interview. Everything about that unsettles me and I can see now that God has been preparing me for this very situation.

I have spent the past two years in Celebrate Recovery trying to understand and clarify why I do what I do. This helps me to pinpoint my motives and reevaluate whether or not it is something I should be doing. It helps me to accept my opinion as enough of a reason to do something or not do something. For example, the other day Dean and I went to dinner with some friends. I have been trying to watch my weight so I ordered a dinner that fit in my calorie count for the day. One of our friends ordered a burger and fries and he placed half of his fries on a plate to share with the table. I am a sucker for fries and these fries looked amazing. So, I did some thinking. I had some calories saved for a second beer, but I could split a beer with Dean and then have 5 French fries. But why did I want these fries? What was my motivation? Honestly, I just wanted to enjoy a couple fries with friends and feel normal. And I could do that within the calorie boundaries I set for myself. Yes, that was what I wanted to do. But, as I reached for my first fry Dean started to say something, “Are you sure you…” He quickly broke of realizing his mistake. I’m not sure if it was the death stare I shot him or if he has lived with a dieting wife long enough to know it is in his best interest to keep quiet about my food choices, but either way he stopped midsentence and said “never mind.” At that point the old me would have become uncomfortable and unsure about my decision. I would have felt judged and wrong. I would have questioned whether I was making the right choice and then I would have felt the need to defend my decision and convince Dean that the choice I was making was the right choice. But this time I didn’t feel the need for that. I didn’t even feel judged by my husband. It was so cool, I simply said, “you do you, umma do me.” And that was it. It wasn’t angry, it wasn’t defensive. It was just a fact, “I know what I’m doing and why I’m doing it, and right now it is the right decision for me.” I didn’t need anyone else to agree or understand because I knew what I was doing and why and that alone was enough for me. My opinion about the situation was enough for me and I felt confident in my choice.

But the home study…now I am in a situation with someone who IS judging me. I mean, I hope she is judging me, because she is my child’s voice right now. Her job is to protect my unborn child and make sure that my child has parents that can care and love him/her. The reality is, I want her to judge me, because I want what’s best for my child (which is me, right?). But it doesn’t fix the discomfort I feel. It doesn’t keep me from wanting to be right and understood and heard. It doesn’t stop me from wanting to defend every decision I make so I can convince her to think I am “right”. But God has prepared me. My voice does matter, my opinion does matter, even if she can’t see it. I can be wrong and be ok because I am getting clear on my motivation. My motivation is to love and raise this child with the child’s best interests in mind. Knowing my motivation makes it easier to accept that others aren’t always going to agree with me, it makes it easier to accept when I make mistakes, and to admit when I’m wrong. Because my motivation is no longer “to be right”, my motivation is to provide a caring, loving, and nurturing life for my child. This changes my approach on everything. It gets me to ask questions instead of pretending to know all the answers. It gets me to respond naturally instead of trying to tell her what I think she wants to hear. It allows me to say, “Oh, I didn’t see how that approach could be harmful” without feeling like a failure.

Although, I didn’t exactly remember all of that during the first meeting. I got tripped up at one point and wanted to be right, it got a little messy. I’m not going to go into it because it’s not important (for the record: I was right). The important part is for me to recognize that I got tripped up because once again my motivation switched to being right. Suddenly her questions sounded accusatory and assuming and I started to get flustered and upset. She wasn’t understanding what I was trying to say and I felt like I needed to explain and get her to understand and agree with me. But I caught myself and I was able to re-center. I was able to look inward at my heart and my motivation, the whole point of this adoption is not “to be right”. The whole point is to love and nurture a child; to become a parent. My heart is in the right place, I know I will love and nurture this child, I know I will be a good parent. I know I will mess up and need to ask for forgiveness. I know I am not perfect. But I know that God called me to become a parent through adoption. I know He’s got this, and if He is for me, who can be against me?

Side Note: Chelsea is not against me in the least. She is doing a great job getting me to think about my responsibilities as a parent.

Dean has already completed his individual interview and mine is in a week. I am prepping for this interview by listening so this song on repeat.

Want to help me prep? Send me your favorite “I am for you” songs and as we move forward with this process please continue to keep us in your prayers. Thanks you guys!!