Monday, November 7, 2011
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Sunday, September 18, 2011
Afterwards we all went back to the house to celebrate the beautiful day with good food, good company, and good cake :) I looked around the group that was present for the celebration and couldn't help but be so incredibly thankful for the way things have turned out.
The picture I posted holds significant meaning to me. On Grace's adoption day I was given this necklace by Liz and Eric. Eric had designed them himself and had three of them made. One for Liz, one for me, and one for Grace (when she is old enough to wear it). The intent was that we would always be reminded of one another. It is meant to signify the bond we forever have and remember the God that ordained all of this to be. I wear it everyday, and I will continue to wear it everyday for the years to come. What a beautiful, incredibly thoughtful way to be reminded of the fact that we are bonded for life by a God who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us (Ephesians 3:20).
Friday, August 26, 2011
This experience, as rewarding as it was, reminded me of the difficult dynamic of my situation. The other birth mom that shared her story shared that she had originally been pretty close to the adoptive family and saw her daughter often, but slowly over the years that relationship faded and she now sees them just once a year. My heart slightly sank at the thought of that. Ok fine, I'll be honest, my heart COMPLETELY sank at the though of that. I love Grace, but I also dearly love Liz and Eric. They became my family. There are some changes already occurring, as they naturally should, but will the day come that I only see them once a year? I know I will cross that bridge when I get there, but that hard dynamic of adoption sometimes weighs on my heart. What if one day they don't want me around as often? What if that day starts now? So many things I know that I should not worry about. God has brought me this far and blessed me tremendously and I know He will continue to do so, but that nagging feeling still can get the best of me at times.
Here's another dynamic that I rarely considered while pregnant and in my own little private survival mode. This adoption does not just affect me. It affects those around me, namely my family and my best friends. My parents have a granddaughter, my sister a niece, Stella a sister ;) and my best friends a baby (niece) that they got to know so well as she grew in the womb. Each and every one of those people had to let go of Grace too.
In no way I am hinting at any feelings of regret. I know with every fiber of my being that I made the right decision. I know that I am supported by every single person I know and love and even by strangers that have heard my story. I am merely just reflecting on some truths and trying to be as real as I possibly can be.
Adoption is an absolutely wonderful and beautiful thing. Every day I am thankful for the role I have in this dynamic. I wouldn't go back and change a thing. Sometimes the most beautiful things in life are the things that aren't the easiest. I know that to be true and it pushes me through the difficult realities of this dynamic of adoption.
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Friday, August 12, 2011
So here I am now 4 months after her birth revisiting the journal and filling in some of the missing spots. As I near the end of the journal it asks questions about all the "firsts" the occur once baby is home. It's only a couple pages of questions, but as I skim through them I realize the one thing that will always cause a little pang of hurt inside of me: I don't know. I don't know what her first night at home was like, I don't know what her favorite pacifier is, I don't know her feeding time, her nap time, or her disposition. I don't know anything about the things that it feels like, as a mother, I should know.
For nine months I was the one that knew everything about her. I knew her active times, I knew her favorite foods, I knew how to make her move, I knew her sleepy times, I knew her hiccups from her kicks, I knew everything there was to know about her for those nine months. And I cherished every moment of it. I knew I wouldn't get it back, I knew one day someone else would know more about her than I do. And I knew that that was the way it was supposed to be.
I think the biggest, and hardest thing we have to endure as a parent is the act of letting go. At many stages in our children's lives we learn to let go in certain ways whether it is when we can no longer hold them, their first day of school, the day they move out for college, or the day they get married. For me, that day came when she was born. I endured the act of letting go the day she was born. And I get asked all the time if that was hard for me. Of course that was hard for me, I carried her for nine months and gave birth to her. But from the day I found out I was pregnant I knew God was telling me that she belonged to Him and the He had a plan for her. And He was right, her life was in His hands now in pregnancy and it would be for the rest of her life. And I leaned on that and trusted in God to give me the strength I needed to let go. And He did.
Much to my surprise, Grace is 4 months old and I know all about her. Of course it is not firsthand knowledge, but that is completely ok. I get to see her and watch her grow. I get to hear from Liz all of her accomplishments and milestones. I don't sit at home and wonder and feel guilty for not knowing. I am thankful everyday for the opportunity I have to know her and her parents. There will always be a pang of hurt about the things I do not know firsthand about Grace or experience myself, but just knowing how happy she is, how ecstatic Liz and Eric are and how I get to play a small part in that gives me great joy and peace.
Friday, July 29, 2011
Thursday, July 21, 2011
Last September, on the miserable trip down the 580 I was filled with fear and panic and the only thing on my mind was, "What am I going to do?" "How is this ever going to be ok?" Nearly one year later, I was making that same trip down the 580, but this time I was thanking God for what he had done in my life over the past year, thanking him for Grace and Liz and Eric, and all the people he brought into my life. I felt joy and a so much excitement for whatever this next year may hold. This reflection reminded me that there will always be hard times in life, it is inevitable. But there will also always be joyful times in life, that is inevitable is well. And I think it is very possible to even find joyful moments through the hard times.
"Life ain't always beautiful, but it's a beautiful ride" - Gary Allan
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Monday, July 11, 2011
At my week 10 appointment I heard her heart beat on the doppler for the very first time. I don't know how to put into words how amazing it is to hear this little heart going a million miles an hour.
At week 18 I had my second, and the "big" ultrasound. Grace was being extremely modest, so we went to the bathroom and had a pep talk and when I came out she gave us just enough immodesty to let us know she was in fact a girl. YAY! This was the first time I was able to see her heart beating and hear it at the same time (and the tech recorded it and put it on my CD so I could listen to it whenever I wanted). At this point I hadn't yet felt her move, but I was able to see her and oh my she was all over the board! She posed for a perfect profile pic, sucking her thumb of course, and this picture was immediately placed on the fridge right above our "theme" verse and it remains there to this day. I will take it down when I move and put it right back up on my new fridge one day.
At week 22 I had another ultrasound. Because I had had my "big" appointment two weeks before the normal time, they wanted to look at her heart one more time since it technically isn't more fully developed until after week 20. The tech told me that she had one strong and determined heart. I smiled and said, "she most certainly does!" It was at that same appointment that I felt her move at the same time I saw her little arm swing around in a right hook.
At about 28 weeks, right after I met Liz and Eric, I invited them to join me for an appointment. Well, really it was a condition of them adopting Grace: Liz must be at every appointment. After all, as we liked to joke, she was in her third trimester and appointments were an important part of the process. (It was not an actual condition of their adoption, but I did state in my interviews with the couples that I would like them to be involved in the rest of the pregnancy). And they were completely ecstatic that I would allow them to be so it worked out very well :)
Grace's heart kept my heart going. From week three when I went to the bookstore and read that her heart was starting to beat at that point in time to week 39 when I was in labor and listening to her heart change pace with each contraction to watching her chest rise and fall after she was finally here. Her heart has always been strong and determined and it kept me strong and determined. I often wonder why God designed us with hearts that beat as early as three weeks. I don't have the answer, but I do know that, for me, it was an indication of purpose, strength, and His will above my own.
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Thursday, June 16, 2011
There are two people that really took this pregnancy on right along with me, literally (in many ways). Marie and Jacquie were there from day one and never left my side. There are not enough words I could say or examples I could give that could quantify their meaning in my life. The three of us are in nursing school together, Jacquie lives two doors down and Marie lives one block away. During the school year we have the same exact schedules, which means that we are likely to see each other every day and most days, all day. They saw me through everything, sometimes more than they even wanted to. We individually had our hard times over this past year as well as the hardest semester of our lives, Fall 2010. It wasn't always easy for us, emotionally we were all tugged in so many directions, but we made it. And I could not have made it without them. They did the heavy lifting that I wasn't allowed to do, they were at the appointment when we found out Grace was a girl, they read the profiles and couldn't even finish Liz and Eric's because they were crying too hard, they met Liz and Eric before I gave birth, they took on my pregnancy symptoms, no joke. Both lost their periods for 3-4 months and Jacquie was pretty much pregnant in every way minus having an actual baby inside of her. They were there when my water broke, they drove me to the hospital (thank goodness I live close because I might have died if it was any longer - NEVER been in so much pain in life), they were there in the room with me and never left my side, they encouraged me through it all, we all bonded with Liz and Eric in the hospital and became and family in that moment, they are Grace's aunts, and I don't know what I would've done without them. I couldn't have asked for two more loyal and loving friends.
Austin knew first, and these girls knew next. After that it would be a few weeks before I could find the courage to tell another soul. Marie and I went out to Bittercreek the night I told her. Now there's something you have to know about Marie: she has some sort of sixth sense, she really does. She can sense things and she's pretty much right about them all the time. So we're at dinner and she wants a beer, I decline. So she gets her beer and seriously asks me to just try it about five times. I decline. Finally, she holds it up to me and says, "no really, Linds you HAVE to try this" Man alive! I tell her, "Marie, I can't I have really bad news, I'm pregnant" Her reply was, "that's not bad news, congrats!!" Later on we were chatting and she just found out that her friend had had a miscarriage and she said she had a feeling that might happen. I asked her if she thought that might happen to me. She looked at me and said, "nah, this one's stickin" At the time that response irritated me, mostly because I wanted her to be wrong. A couple days later Jacq and I had lunch plans. She was asking me where we should go. She knows two of my favorites are sushi and wine. So when I declined sushi and then didn't order our favorite noon-time glass of wine at Bardenay she is stumped and actually a little irritated at me. So I tell her what happened and I tell her my plan. We talk about it for awhile and she told me exactly what Marie told: that she would be by my side through it all and support any decision that I made. And they both were.
Two amazing people that I could never repay for their presence and involvement in my life. Two people that I hope Grace always has the opportunity to know. Until she arrived I did not comprehend just how much they loved her as if she were their own. But they truly do, they were with her from the beginning. They will always be her aunts and I pray she always knows the amount of love that they have for her.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Monday, June 13, 2011
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
You're probably wondering why I titled this post Stuttgart. How does that have anything to do with Grace and my story?! It has EVERYTHING to do with it. This part of my story may be my single most favorite story to tell. I get goosebumps every single time I share it, I have goosebumps now! It happened in mid-April. (Grace was about 2 weeks old) I was over at Liz and Eric's for our traditional Sunday night dinner. (We started this Sunday night tradition before Grace was born and when we couldn't bear the thought of not seeing each other after she was born, we decided to keep the tradition going). I had recently received the invite to go to Stuttgart, Germany and was filling Eric and Liz in on the exciting details and asking them if I should go or not. Liz used to travel for work, A LOT. So she is telling me that I HAVE to go. She said she was in Stuttgart last July and absolutely loved it, she said it was her favorite place out of all the places she has visited. Then she told me that she was sitting at a cafe in the Schlossplatz one morning enjoying some coffee and in the distance she could hear church bells ringing. She said at that moment she just broke down crying to God, asking him if they were ever going to have a baby, why didn't He want them to have a baby, why wouldn't anybody pick them....and so on... She told me she didn't know why she had a moment right at that time in the middle of the Schlossplatz in Stuttgart, Germany, but she just felt something and sought God over it. I looked at her and I said, "Liz, when were you in Germany?" She said, "Mid-July." At this point my heart is skipping a couple beats and I said, "what days?" She said, "the morning I had that moment was July 11." My heart about beat out of my chest and my jaw dropped to the floor. I looked at her and said, "Liz, that's the day! That's when Grace's little life began." We just looked at each other and started crying. I'm crying right now as I type it. Everything for a reason....
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Monday, June 6, 2011
Sunday afternoon was spent soaking up the sunshine and beauty of the outdoors. Austin and I spent the day doing some yard work, ok so I mainly just tagged along and provided the beer whenever we ran out, but either way. It was the first day that the weather actually felt like June instead of dreary March and I was loving every minute of it. I think I was most in awe of how the whole place was teeming with life! Stella and Diesel LOVING playing in the lake and running around, Lucy loving being lazy, a Robin tending to her eggs in a nest, geese and ducks swimming in the lake with their new babies in tow. And we even saw bunnies, not more than a day old, their eyes still covered by skin and unable to be opened. Diesel the nanny dog, who I have to add is a 200-lb English Mastiff, was gently pulling them from their little nest and carrying them over to the grass to nurture them. It was probably the most precious thing I have ever seen.
Friday, June 3, 2011
Thursday, June 2, 2011
Monday morning. New rule in the hotel room: Please do not call family in America again and please do not have an all out panic attack because we are not home by midnight. If you wake up in the morning and we are not there, THEN you can start worrying. Deal. Now, back to vacay! Time to get the awesome week started! We get a late start, blame it on the jet lag and decide to check out some wine tasting. The rail system isn’t all that difficult to figure out and we were quite proud of our ability to make it there without missing a stop. Finding the winery would be a whole other adventure. The map said it was a mere five-minute walk from the bahnhof. One hour later we were still searching. We decide to ask somebody. Between our broken, ok nonexistent, German and his broken English we think we might actually make it there. Five minutes later we are there! Wine tasting works a little differently over here in Germany. It’s free and you pour it yourself. As many wines as you want to taste and as much as you want. EXCELLENT. Why don’t they adopt this brilliant idea in Napa and Sonoma? Maybe the same reason why America doesn’t adopt the idea of beer-drinking at all hours and all places. We would take it to the extreme, as Americans often do. The land of the free doesn’t behave well when set too free. We purchase wine, only 6 euros a bottle. Why can’t Napa adopt the low-cost mentality too?! By the time we leave the winery it’s late afternoon and time to head back to the hotel, we told Tony we’d be there. Dinner is at Schönbuch, it’s a brewery, of course. That’s the thing in Germany: every place brews it’s own bier, serves pretty much only their own bier, and any bier you drink is served in a glass labeled with the bier. I did not drink one bier in a glass labeled with another bier and I never had the same bier twice, which puts me at something near a total of trying thirty different biers throughout the trip. In fulfilling my goal of branching out and trying all new foods on this vacay, I select 2 Bavarian sausages with a pretzel. The pretzel was mouth-watering, the Bavarian sausage was not so bearable. Oh and apparently it’s necessary to remove the thin casing before eating it. Stupid Americans. My first taste of Apfelstrudel (German heaven on earth) and I am ready to call it a night!
I set my alarm for 5am. Setting an alarm for Germany time when you’re clock is still on Mountain Standard time isn’t very helpful. Not only was I not going to wake up to an alarm set for 5am German time, my American phone was going to wake me up at 6am...Boise time. Not so fun when you’re focused on sleeping as much as possible to recover from extreme jet lag. I still can’t figure out what day it is or what time it is. I awake to Cindy telling me it was time to wake up and get ready for the day in Switzerland. At least someone had a working phone. I am going to have a chat with ATT when I get back to the states. By 6:30 am we were on our way to the Army base where we would get on a bus and make the 2-hour trip to Rhein Falls, the largest waterfall in Europe. Not tallest, largest…whatever that means. Switzerland is absolutely gorgeous. I quickly become obsessed with the architecture. It is unlike anything in the states. The plan was to take a boat ride over to the base of the falls and climb a rock (that has stairs) to the top for a picturesque view. We missed the boat because we HAD to stop by the souvenir shop, such typical tourists. Thankfully we had the coolest guide ever and, upon realizing we were missing, came back to get us. Jiri is his name and he was the cutest old German man. He had the best accent and placement of English words. I wish I could speak his broken English with his accent. I love it. We decided it would be a good idea to sit on a bench right by the bus so we would not be late or lose our bus and be stuck in Switzerland. Well somehow we got distracted by picture taking, as tourists often do and we caught the bus as its doors were closing. WHEW. How do you miss something sitting right in front of you? Thankfully Jiri is an expert tour guide and would never have left without taking a double and triple head count. After the waterfall we headed for Stein am Rhein/Schaffhausen, the most picturesque town I have ever seen. Narrow, cobblestone streets with old buildings side by side and murals painted on them. We enjoyed lunch at a creperie, with Swiss-brewed beer of course. Our German waiter was so nice, beautiful accent, I'm pretty sure if he would've asked me to marry him I would not have hesitated to say YES! I love Germans…I just really do. Lord please let me marry one. We walked, we shopped and then headed for Schloss Arenenberg and Lake Konstanz. Arenenberg is called a castle, but it is more like a mansion set atop a hill overlooking the lake and a vineyard. The views were breathtaking. Like everything else in Switzerland…picturesque. The Swiss have beautiful, bright flowers everywhere. They put them in flower boxes on the buildings, urns in the yards, on the pathways, planted in the ground, etc. Everything has flowers. After walking around and touring the mansion we make the two hour bus ride back to Stuttgart and have dinner at a German restaurant, where I tried bratz and schnitzel. Bratz has a different taste, not my favorite but I liked it. Schnitzel is delish. Tony takes us to the pub inside the hotel, The Dubliner. Best decision of the entire trip. The guy sitting next to me strikes up a conversation. Turns out his name is Jonas, he is from Sweden and a pilot for a Turkish airline so he is staying in Stuttgart and making a couple flights between Stuttgart and Turkey. Tony has to wake up early for work so he heads back to the hotel and Cindy makes friends with the bartender, Mike, the Englishman. The pub closes and our new friend Mike invites us to join him and Naomi, the Irish girl for a bier at the gas station across the street. We load up on 40’s and sit outside a walk up burger joint until about 3 am. Jonas spends the entire time trying to get me to correctly pronounce Hauptbahnhof. I think I got it, at least until tomorrow. Two 40’s of 5% alcohol bier later we make our way back to the hotel put the key in door and before we can unlock it we are greeted by a panic-stricken, rage-filled Tony. Dad…I didn’t know you came to Germany with me?! He yells at Cindy to go talk to her sister. SISTER?! YOU CALLED MY SISTER?! Yes, it is true. 15 times he called until she would answer her phone. He called family in America to say that Cindy and her friend Lindsay were missing in Germany. Thankfully Cindy’s sister is smart and knows Cindy well enough to know that she wasn’t missing, just hanging out. Her sister was able to calm down Tearful Tony and the embassy was not called that night. RELIEF. Had we arrived 5 minutes later I am confident that we would have four panicked parents on the next flight out to Germany. This event would set the tone for the rest of our time spent with Tony. It only gets better…
I have not forgotten about my story, I will definitely get to it very shortly, but just having spent 11 wonderful days in Germany I feel inspired to share my memories of a country and a lifestyle that I love and dream of living in. I was there from May 20-31. I visited parts of Southern/Southwest Germany, Switzerland, and Luxembourg.
I arrived in Munich, Germany on Saturday, May 21, 2011 at 8:45am. I made my way through the airport to customs where I received my very first European stamp on my passport. Bucket list to-do, check! I followed the maze to gate G, where I would be boarding my final flight to my destination, Stuttgart. I found a seat at a little café near my gate, purchased a glass of milk, pulled out my laptop, ate my Lucky Charms and silently rocked out to a little MJ playing on the airport radio. Let’s just stamp AMERICAN on my forehead at this point. It’s 10am and every single person in that café has a bier in their hand. I love Germany already. Naturally, the fact that other people are drinking at 10am gives me the green light to go ahead and have my first taste of German bier. AMAZING. And no, it is not warm. It is not served in the frosty glass the way Americans prefer, but it is by no means warm. But I do believe it really is stronger than American beers and I am grateful that I only had one because my next flight required me to walk down three flights of stairs with my carry-on (weighing a solid 20 lbs) and purse and take a shuttle to our much smaller prop plane where we boarded from the tarmac. I am instantly attracted to this country. I want to know everything about it: the culture, the language, etc. I may have to live here one day. Let’s see if I can still say that after 11 days of traveling.
I have now landed in Stuttgart and couldn’t be more excited…that is until I see everyone’s luggage come through one by one and before I know it I am the only one standing at the baggage carousel and there is no more luggage making its way around. WORST NIGHTMARE EVER, especially when you’re overseas for an 11-day vacay. The guy at Lufthansa believes it never made it out of the states and US Airways claims it was checked in and put on the plane in Philly. All I have to say at this point is somebody better figure it out and quick! I had my wardrobe laid out for each day and this whole relying on rotating between two outfits for each day and night for however many days isn’t going to fly on my most anticipated vacay!
I guess missing luggage = shopping trip. We head downtown to the Schlossplatz. The airline has a reimbursement policy: 100% refund on any underwear and toiletries and 50% refund on any clothes purchased. You better believe I am mailing those receipts in as soon as I land on American soil J My goal is to eat nothing familiar to me on this trip. I will try all sorts of German, Bavarian, and Swabian dishes. My first shot…SUCCESS. I picked maultchausen (ravioli…German-style) It was mouth-watering. Second goal: I will only drink German bier and always a different kind. (ok so I caved and had some Newcastle at the Irish pub, but they don't have any German bier so what else was I supposed to do?) I’m on number my two German bier and completely satisfied with both. Interesting observation: German dishes are clearly not laden with vegetables, unless it’s a salad. Meals are meat and potatoes style and largely portioned. If meat is not your thing, Germany might not be a good vacay spot for you. And the bier does not come in LIGHT. It’s heavy, it’s rich and it’s superb! Surprisingly enough, Germans are not obese. I have not witnessed a large percentage of overweight Germans. Can I have their genes?
Final stop on this first day in Germany. A beach club bar on top of an old parking garage in downtown Stuttgart. Literally...it's a beach, covered in sand, lounge chairs, and hammocks. On to my third German bier for the day, Radler. It's a lemonade bier and the only German bier I am not a fan of. As I relax in a lounge chair with my Radler I noticed a wood box made to be a table with the words "Carpe Diem" on it. Oh yes, couldn't be more fitting...Carpe Diem and bier indeed. The stage is set for the rest of the vacay....