Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Fundraising 101

It is with joy in our hearts that Gary and I have decided to grow our family through adoption. We are working with an agency and are in the application phase now. 
Many of you have asked how you could help and here is one way you can. Please take a minute to read our story -- any help you can give would be greatly appreciated. For those friends and family who are local, we are planning to have a fundraising event late January 2013. Details to come soon. Thanks to everyone for all the love & support!
http://www.youcaring.com/adoption-fundraiser/A-Sibling-for-Allie/35303#.ULa2x3mH9zU.gmail

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Family

I come from a "modern family" of my own.  My parents got married in 1969.  5 years later, along came me.  2 years after that, my brother.  5 years after that, my youngest brother.  By then, my parent's marriage was already in jeopardy, but we were meant to be a three child family.  I think my youngest brother was still in diapers when my dad moved out.  Separation and divorce in the mid 80's was not like it is now.  It was not something people saw all the time.  It was not the norm.  We were different from the minute my father closed the door behind him.

My mother remarried a few years later and with that marriage, came an older step brother and a younger step sister and step brother.  For years we lived as this "Brady Bunch" family on the weekends with my mom and step dad and the six kids.  Not all weekends as some were spent with my father and his new partner.  Well after college, my mom and step father split but I have recently reconnected with one of my step brothers over Facebook and with my step sister over email as she found my blog as has been following my "story".  I still feel a connection to them both.  They were my family.

As we grew up and grew older, we began to make families of our own.  My brother closest to me in age got married first. His wife became like a sister to me.  Her family like a second family to me.  It's there we all go for Thanksgiving and we all very much feel like the family we are.

Then my youngest brother got married.  I was fortunate to get another sister.  They have spent much of their married life traveling and seeing the world.  When they are not here, we invite her brother to spend the holidays with us.  And he does.  Because he is family.

Then I met Gary.  His brother is so close to one of my own that I sometimes forget he is Gary's brother.  His brother's wife is someone that I feel like I have known my whole life.  We spend Christmas with them and the joy and love I feel sitting around their tree with spiked egg nog in one hand and a niece or nephew in the other gives my years of only celebrating Hanukkah a run for their money.  They have welcomed me in and accepted me as their family.

When Allie was conceived, Gary and I were so looking forward to creating a family of our own.  New traditions and new customs and new reasons to celebrate.  When she died, it was not just losing her that cut us to the core, but it was the loss of all those dreams we had for her.  And for us.

Trying to get another sibling for Allie has been nothing but headaches and heartbreaks and we have felt very much hopeless and helpless.  We have done everything we could think to do.  We took out our savings and spent it on procedure after procedure (none of which is covered by our insurance in Pennsylvania).  We could handle the negatives, but after our last try, when our positive became a negative, we knew we needed a new plan.

Adoption.

Gary and I went to a meeting the week before last to see if it was something we could truly get behind.  We were scared and nervous and 10 minutes into the meeting, I leaned into Gary and said, "Do you hate it?".  We had gone to a meeting last February at a different agency and we were both not ready and thus we decided it was not right for us then.  But now?  He leaned back and said, "No.  Not at all".  We stayed after and talked to the social worker and asked what our next steps would be.  Gary even asked what the protocol was for babies that were born still.  The social worker looked mortified which to us meant it was not something they dealt with on a regular basis!  After the obligatory head tilt, he explained the process to us.  

We came home from that meeting feeling invigorated!!!  We could still have a family.  We went to his brother's the next night and talked it out from every angle.  We went to my brother's the next night and rehashed it again.  We talked to my mom.  Gary talked to his parents.  We asked our friends if they would be our references.  We filled out the application.  We got more and more excited.

Our application was received last week and we were assigned a social worker on Wednesday.  She will be in touch this week to get our file started.  Next up is home studies and background checks and some kind of fundraiser as we are going to need all the help we can get.  For the first time in ages, we feel so good!!  We have hope back.  And we could be matched with a baby in as soon as 6-9 months.

I carried a child.  I loved that child.  If I close my eyes, I can still feel her kick.  I remember the cravings I had when she was growing in my body.  I remember the euphoria I felt knowing that I was responsible for that little being inside of me.

There are other ways to create a family.  There are others paths to make Allie an older sibling.   There is a baby out there who needs the love and warmth and joy that Gary and I can provide.  There is a baby out there who was meant to be a part of our family and we are going to do our best to bring him or her home.  Looks like we might get our rainbow after all!

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Head Tilt

I have referenced Friends before in my blog and I am going to do it again.  Who remembers this scene?



Twice this week, I have told Allie's story.  Once briefly and once in more detail.  Both times, my very sympathetic listeners tilted their heads so far that I was sure their heads were going to roll right off their necks.  But that's ok.  I don't mind the head tilt or the look of "holy crap!" that crosses their faces as it reminds me that it is perfectly normal to still be sad and still be mourning and to still be all over the place because our daughter was born still. 

Last weekend, we went to visit my college roommate who lives outside of DC.  We spent Saturday at the United States Holocaust Museum.  Gary and I visit every Fall for a touristy weekend - one where we spend at least a few hours doing something "smart".  I had suggested visiting this museum in the past and it always seemed kinda heavy for the time we all had together.  Last weekend, though, our mood was already somber and we decided it was the right place to go. And it was.

Standing there in virtual silence, we made our way through the museum.  We went at our own pace and stopped to read all that we could and take in as much as we were able.  The faces of the lost staring back at me gave me chills and reminded me why I am so proud to be Jewish and so proud of my heritage.  Why I wanted our daughter to be raised Jewish.  Why I want any other children of mine to be raised the same way.

That visit was not my first one.  I went with my mom and step-dad when it first opened 20 years ago.  I often write about the "me then" and the "me now" and I was trying to picture a college-age me walking through the exhibits and how I felt.  I know I was moved and I know I was touched, but it seemed different as I walked through now.  20 years later and so much joy in that time, but so much pain, too.  And then I realized it.  My head was tilted.  Almost the whole time.

It's natural to feel sympathy for the pain of others.  It's natural to want to look away and to also want to help and to yell any cry and wonder why.  It's natural to wish that no one ever experiences pain like you have felt.

When I am in certain situations (like I was standing in that museum), I get a flash of what it is and was like for our friends and family when Allie died.  The wanting to help.  The hatred of the pain.  The unfairness of it all.

Was losing our daughter anything like the death of 6 million Jews and thousands and millions of others that were different for whatever reason?  Probably not.  That would be pretty selfish of me to say so.  Was losing our daughter as hard for me to understand as something like the Holocaust?  Yes, it was.  It is.  My head is bobbing as I sit here and type.  And I am not ashamed of that.  Feel what you feel.  React like you want to.  Do what you must do.  Just always remember.  I urge you to never forget anyone that we have lost.
Read more: BRANDI CARLILE - THE STORY LYRICS V
All of these lines across my face Tell you the story of who I am So many stories of where I've been And how I got to where I am

Read more: BRANDI CARLILE - THE STORY LYRICS
All of these lines across my face Tell you the story of who I am So many stories of where I've been And how I got to where I am

Read more: BRANDI CARLILE - THE STORY LYRICS

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

48 Hours of Bliss

"It's positive" the nurse said on the phone.  "Your HCG levels are low and we have to bring you back in two days for repeat blood work, but for now, we have a positive."  There was more, but the important thing was that we had a positive.  All the months of oral medications that made my stomach upset and injections in the morning and then more at night and internal ultrasounds and blood work and more money than we have spent on anything EVER and daily appointments before dawn...it was all worth it!  We had a positive.

Gary and I knew that my levels were low and that it could go either way.  But instead of home testing all weekend to see if the line got darker and darker, we decided to just enjoy being positive.  Gary stopped on his way home from work on Friday and got a little stuffed animal turtle for us.  We sat on the couch and just looked at each other and allowed ourselves to feel happy and hopeful and optimistic.  We feel asleep around 8...we were that exhausted from the day.

The next morning, Gary went out and got fresh bagels for breakfast.  We laughed a lot and enjoyed each other and we were happy.  We knew it was too soon to be happy but we were "cautiously optimistic".  I remember saying that this baby felt like he or she was gonna give me morning sickness.  I did not have that with Allie.  I had a dream one night last week that we were having a boy so we started talking about boy names.  We knew it was too early but after all our pain and sorrow and grief, we were going to take whatever optimism we could find!

That afternoon we went to a birthday party for the daughter of a close friend.  She has just turned one.  I was happy to skip the yummy hot dogs and the various kinds of wine....I was positive, after all!  No nitrates for me!  No alcohol in this system!  I had a being to protect!

Sunday came before we knew it.  As we drove the doctor's office, we talked about what would happen if we were no longer positive.  We could understand it - after all, we were so newly positive.  14 days.  2 weeks.  Not 37 weeks.  This was not like being pregnant with Allie.  This experience was a whole new one for us. If my levels dropped, that would mean this baby was not meant to be.  But surely that would not happen, right?

We got home and waited for the phone to ring.  My palms were sweaty.  My heart was racing.  My head was pounding from the stress and the lack of caffeine over the past few days.  Then the phone rang.

I knew as soon as she said my name. Gary leaned back before he even heard the words.  "I am so sorry.  Your levels dropped too much.  This is not a viable pregnancy.  It was a chemical pregnancy."  There was more but the important thing was that we no longer had a positive. 

When the tears started, they were so intense that I did not think they were ever going to stop.  I thought I was going to throw up.  Gary was so upset that he wanted to physically do something.  He later told me he wished there was a down tree somewhere near by that he could hack into.  Something.  Anything.  

A chemical pregnancy means the embryo never had a chance to implant.  There was never a heartbeat.  

Allie was "Baby K" before we told the world her name and at some point last weekend, I said to Gary that this was "Baby K2".  Damn.  We knew from the onset that this outcome was possible, unlike when we lost Allie.  We had 48 hours and not 37 weeks.  So many differences and yet the pain all feels the same.

The good news came on Friday. The bad news came on Sunday.  Monday we went back to work.  Today I can finally breathe enough to write about it.  No baby.  No sibling for Allie.  No rainbow.  No hope.  No positive.

We met with the doctor today.  We have some time to decide what to do next.  Gary and I have a lot to discuss and a lot to think about.  We are in this together and he has my back no matter what.  We have each other and I can't for ONE second forget the power of that.

We are not sure what our next steps are, but we do know this...we had 48 hours of bliss and nothing can take that away from us.  For 48 hours, we were parents again.  For 48 hours, we had hope.  It was the most spectacular feeling in the world.

This turtle now sits on a shelf in the office next to a little Piglet that we got for Allie before she was born.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Sandy

Monday, October 29th:  We are in the midst of a massive storm here on the East Coast and yet Gary and I do not seem that panicked.  We just this morning ran out for water and crackers.  I refuse to be the people that buy the ingredients for french toast, so we have water and crackers.  And pop tarts.  And cookies.  Very healthy hurricane eats in our house!  But we are not really that worried. 

Why aren't we worried? Well, we already survived our disaster.  We are still surviving it.  And I guess it feels like not much else can touch us after all we have been through.  I feel like I do not have room for much else.

Friday, November 2nd:  The strangest thing happened.  I got distracted and never finished my last post.  I tried to come back to it several times, but I was not sure what I wanted to write.  


I am off from work today.  It was a planned day off, unlike the days off that everyone around us seems to have due to the devastation of the aforementioned hurricane.  I am at the dining room table and my father-in-law is upstairs in the office trying to get some work done as he has been without power since Monday night and it seems like they might be out for the foreseeable future.  He is driving 1.5 hours each way just to use our Internet and electric.  I am making a list of hardware stores for him to stop by on his way home so he can get gas and supplies for his house as well as for Gary's brother and his family who are also out of power and doing their best to get by. 

This storm was a true disaster.  Whole houses and towns and communities were washed away.  There were power outages and fires and danger all around.  It's one of the scariest things I have seen in my lifetime.  Yet I have heard very little complaining.  Very little "why me?" or "why us?"  Mostly just thanks to everyone who is helping out.

We are constantly reminded of the good in people - the people that are sharing what they have and doing what they can to help their friends and even strangers in this time of need.  I feel a warmth when I see people helping out and realize that I have not lost my sense of hope or compassion.  I still have room! And that makes me sigh with relief.

I think having my daughter and loving my daughter has only strengthened my core and it was good to be reminded of that this week.  In the midst of all the chaos, to be reminded that I can still feel for others, I do still care for others and that my heart is big enough to love Allie and still have love left for the others that need it.  Not a bad lesson.  Not an ideal way to learn it,  but still. 

Hope everyone out there is safe and healthy and has what they need...you are all in my thoughts and in my heart.  Yes, there is room for all of you. 

A Letter to My First Daughter

My Dearest Allie, It’s been a while since I have written to you. I find it easier to write about you than it is to write to you. ...