Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Post Traumatic Growth

"Post Traumatic Growth refers to positive psychological change experienced as a result of the struggle with highly challenging life circumstances. These sets of circumstances represent significant challenges to the adaptive resources of the individual, and pose significant challenges to individuals' way of understanding the world and their place in it. Post traumatic growth is not simply a return to baseline from a period of suffering; instead it is an experience of improvement that for some persons is deeply meaningful."

Have you ever heard of this?  I certainly had not!  I knew of PTSD and am fairly certain that I suffered some sort of it in the days and weeks and months after Allie died.  But there is also PTG?  I like the sound of that as I really feel that I have grown so much since those first dark days.

It's hard to know where on the spectrum we are now.  Last Friday marked 22 months since we said hello and goodbye.  Holy crap.  That's a long time.  The pain is still there.  The grief is still there.  The missing her...that, of course, is still there.  And yet it's dulled.  I guess it has to or else how do people move forward?  Learning how to move forward has been so hard.  The further away we get from the grief, the further away we get from our angel.  And yet we are discovering that we can live with her in our hearts and without as much pain.  That's nice.

I find myself happy these days - more so than in the past.  I am taking care of myself and for real this time!  I like my job and feel like I am pretty good at it (most days!).  I am back to eating healthier and exercising and decided this past weekend that I want to train for a 5k.  It will help me get some of this weight off and continue to take care of myself.  The jury is out as to whether or not I can run the whole damn thing!  I just want to complete one.

Waiting for our baby is tricky this time since we really have NO clue as to when he or she is going to get here and how he or she will arrive.  So we talk about names and dig stuff out of the basement and allow ourselves to get hopeful again. I truly believe that we are bringing a baby home this time.  And man are we ready.

Going through Allie's "stuff" has brought a lot of emotions to the surface.  The most prevalent emotion?  Desire.  As in wanting.  As in I can't wait to finally use all of the amazing things that we have that were made or gifted or bought for our child.  

My brother asked me last week if I was ready for the midnight feedings and sleepless nights.  I said we had been waiting for 2 years for that.  He nodded sadly and agreed that we were indeed still ready.

A good friend of mine had a happy and healthy and beautiful baby boy just over a week ago.  I could not go to her baby shower and she understood.  I could not buy anything for the baby before he was here and she understood.  I also could not wait to hold that little boy in my arms once he was here and she understood that, too!  I shared her joy and excitement and allowed myself to believe in pregnancy again.  To believe that pregnancies most often do result in babies.  It was glorious.  Was I scared when she hit 37 weeks and 1 day?  Yes.  Was I relieved when she hit 37 weeks and 2 days?  Absolutely.  I can't see a time in my life when I won't be.  But that's ok.

I am more cautious now.  I am more hesitant with my emotions.  But I am also still me and I am not going to suppress who I am. I am still here.

I thank my daughter for every moment I had with her.  I can't wait to tell her brother or sister all about her. 

Post Traumatic Growth.  If this aint it, I am not sure what is...

Friday, February 15, 2013

Empty Arms, Full Hearts

We are "in the book"!! That means that if a pregnant woman contacts our office any time from here on out and we meet the requirements of what she wants and she meets the requirements of what we want, she will have the chance to review our profile and choose us to parent her child.  WOW.  We will be "in the book" for the other 14 offices and 6 states by Tuesday.  We also submitted our profile to be on the adoption agency's website so we can be searched that way, too. 

The car seat has been moved from the basement to the living room.  I want to spend some time this weekend looking at what else we can still use and bring upstairs for when we get the call.

On Wednesday night, I had my annual GYN appointment. I was going to the fertility specialist so much last year that I totally forgot to make my annual appointment.  I fixed it late last year, but the first opening they had was Wednesday after work. 

I was in a panic all day.  The last time I was there was for my 6 weeks check up post-Allie.   I was nervous and sick to my stomach.  Gary offered to go with me to my appointment, but I told him I had to go alone.  We share so much and he is truly my rock, but this was something I had to do myself.  Almost to prove that I could.

With hesitation and dread, I drove to the office. As soon as I walked in the building, I saw that some of my anxiety was for nothing.  The OB/GYN patients were moved to an office down the hall!  So no more of that familiar waiting room with the familiar sounds and smells of the 37 weeks that I was there and pregnant.  Yes!!!  I  went to the new suite and recognized the receptionist right way.  She smiled and said, "It's been a while, huh?"  I replied that I was afraid to come back but had I known they moved offices, I would have been here sooner.  She smiled a kind smile. 

I sat there with playing Words With Friends on my phone and waited to be called.  When the nurse called me back, she said she was just thinking about me.  She asked where Gary was and I told her I gave him the night off.  She asked how we were.  I said we were good.  I meant it.

The doctor entered.  She is not the one who delivered Allie.  That doctor has since moved.  This is the one who did my follow up but whom I did not really have a lot of history with really.  She is friendly and warm and I assume she is good at her job and for now, to see her for 10 minutes once a year, she's more than ok.  She asked how I was and I said 2 IUI's and 2 IVF's later, I was pretty much the same as last time she saw me.  She asked if we had a plan.  I told her we were adopting.  I heard it in my voice just then.  How excited I was.  How excited I am.  I told her where we were in the process and how happy we were to grow our family this way.  She smiled and asked all the right questions.

I left a short while later.  Passed a lot of pregnant women on my way in and out.  Good for them.  But not bad for me.  Just different for me.

I got in the car any my eyes welled up.  I had tears from the the relief of the appointment being over.  But more that that, the tears were from the fact that I miss my daughter.   Man, I miss her.  I keep her memory alive the best way I can but the fact of the matter is, I would do anything to have her here with me.  Anything.  To see what she looked like now.  To see how much she had Gary wrapped around her finger.  To see her play with her cousins.  To do all the things I was so sure we would one day do.  There, in that office, she was with me all the time.  It was there that I heard her heart beat for the first time.  It's simply not fair that she is not here with us now.  And although she still is in my heart, it's not the same.  

Allie, baby, you are the reason we are adopting.  You are the reason we know without question that we want to be parenting.  Can you please use your magic up there and pick a baby for us sooner rather that later?  Our arms are tired of being empty.  I promise that a new baby will never replace you.  Our hearts are so full with love for you but there is room to love another child without taking anything away from you.  It's time, sweetheart.  It's time.

Tomorrow morning, we film our video for the adoption agency.  And then we wait.  For the call that will change our lives.  For the next chapter to begin.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Next Steps

Thanks to the "snowpocolpyse", we are not shooting our video today after all.  They were calling for massive amounts of snow - amounts like we have never seen before!  But alas, we woke up and looked outside and it looked like any other February morning.  But not to worry - we are simply delayed one week and this delay will not hinder our process which is the most important thing. 

As I type, Gary is hard at work at making the final edits to our Profile Book.  This is our marketing tool - our way of advertising us - so it has to be perfect!  We had a meeting earlier this week where we got some helpful tips and our goal is to have our new and improved version to our social worker first thing Monday.  Then she will review it, get back to us with any comments and we will make any necessary changes. Once she approves it completely, we will make 15 copies and get them to her office.  

We also need to fill our our Profile Key.  This 2 page "key" allows us to select race and about a hundred other things that we are either ok or not ok with when it comes to choosing our child.  Then our Profile Book gets sent to the offices in all the states that are agency is in (some in PA, the rest in NY, NJ, CT, VA, DE) and with our Profile Key with it, we are officially "in the book".  So our hopes are to be "in the book" in less than a week.

Next Saturday, we will film our 5 minute video which is just a way of bringing us to life a bit.  They are shot right at our agency and everyone gets the standard 5 minutes to talk about themselves.  It's pretty high level, but it can give the birth mother a better idea of who we are than from just looking at us on paper. From what we understand, a birth mother may narrow down who she is interested in and then may use the videos to help her make her final decision.  We should have that part in the bag!

30% of the placements are Emergency Placements.  A birth mother goes to the hospital, has no plan, calls our agency.  From there, a social worker will review the Profile Keys to determine who is a right match for that baby, show the birth mother those Profile Books and she will make a choice. In that case, the adoptive parents will get a call one day that their baby is here (or almost here) and what hospital they need to get to in order to meet their baby!

The rest of the placements are more planned.  A pregnant woman will go to the agency and seek counseling and support and spend a bit more time making an adoption plan for her baby.  We could get a call that we have been "matched" and that our baby is due in ____ and _____ wants to meet us.  In that case, our social worker will arrange a visit and we all get to meet each other and make sure the match works, make a plan for the delivery room (can we be there?) and make a plan for our baby's future.

Sometimes there are babies that will be close to what our Profile Key indicates and we will get a phone call or an email asking if we are ok with the different aspect and do we want our Profile Book shown to this birth mother? In that case, we will have to sit down and review the history and make our best guess as to what we are and are not comfortable with. If we are ok with being shown, we will know that we could then be chosen rather soon.

It's a lot, huh?

In the meantime, we wait.  Our agency has a great reputation and we could not be more fond of our social worker.  We have to trust the process and trust that what will happen will be the right thing for us.  Our baby is out there - we are just not sure what path he or she will take to get to us.  And of course the waiting game is going to be rough!

I am the only expectant mother I know who had a glass of wine with dinner the other night and knew it was ok!  I can also eat sushi and soft cheeses! It's like I am pregnant in my head and heart, but not in my body.  It's a whole new journey for us.  For me.

At our meeting last week, they gave us a list of things to have on hand for when we get the call.  Remember, 30% of the time, we might only have time to put our dishes in the sink and get a move on!  It's so scary and exciting.  And hard.  Gary wants to pack a "Go Bag".  I can't.  We each had one from when I was pregnant and we took such care to pack them with all we could ever want - batteries for our camera, a few outfits for Allie, important phone numbers...we were so excited to always make sure we had our "Go Bags" with us at all times. Here is picture from the back of Gary's car in early April 2011. It looks like we had some other baby stuff in there, too.  And why wouldn't we?

So my plan now is to have the list from the Agency readily available.  And when we get that call, then we pack.  And if we forget something?  Screw it.  We buy it on the way or call one of our moms or brothers to bring it with them.  Because my gut says there is no holding them back!

It's a different world for us out there - but still one filled with promise and hope and love.  We could not be more excited to see how our next chapter reads!

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. ...