it's been an interesting couple months. i feel like a broken record, but still the uncertainty of the adoption process has been weighing on me heavily. first thinking we were to be approved to be a waiting family by the end of september. then thinking surely we would be approved by the end of october. now the end of november is quickly approaching and we are still waiting. we are anticipating approval next week now, but i'm going to say by the end of the month for good measure. gotta manage those expectations. even if they've been communicated to us a certain way that doesn't mean they will happen that way. welcome to life, brittain.
bina has had a cough off and on for the last month. for the last two weeks her sleep has been real crazy. skipping nap, staying up late if she does nap, waking three times in the night, screaming for hours. it's been trying to say the least. i've questioned if we should even be thinking about expanding our family right now because i feel like i can't even cope with one two and a half year old! the last week i have found myself dreading meal times because i never know if she's going to eat, nap time because i never know if she's going to go down after a small fuss or scream until i get her, and bedtime because i never know how big of a struggle it will be. it's kind of stressful to dread five events throughout my day every day. and then once she does fall asleep at night, i dread the impending wakings, not knowing if she will settle herself or require that either i or david go in to soothe her.
this season of sleep disruption is different than those we have experienced in the past. at other times when she went through seasons of night wakings, she would usually use either me or david as a jungle gym for hours in the middle of the night if we went in to her room. which made me hesitant to go in. but it was either be a jungle gym for a few hours until she settled, or listen to her scream off and on for a few hours. either way no one sleeps, but being a jungle gym can be a little less blood curdling than listening to screaming. not always. however, this time when we go into her room to lie next to her, she immediately goes back to sleep. last night she didn't want to nurse even though i tried. she just needed a warm body beside her. when we attempt to sneak out (unless she's been in a dead sleep for hours) she KNOWS and quickly pops up and cries or scrambles to climb on top of the parent attempting to escape her lair. as soon as we lie back down, she's out again. it's crazy. i don't know what to make of it. david and i need clones of ourselves, or life like dolls. or something. that's not creepy at all...
i understand that cry it out works for some people. and i believed that it worked in the past for me at times, though not all the time. and it may work again in the future. as it turns out, my child has quite amazing pipes and perseverance. which will serve her well in life, i think. i hope. but it makes seasons like the present one quite difficult. so since it has worked to just lie with her, and i was starting to just lose my mind with stress and anger regarding this whole situation, last night i decided to go into her room and stay with her the whole night. and she slept. and i slept. and i was at peace with the circumstances. win, win. for the moment then, i'm resigned to co-sleeping. it's not what i thought i would do. but i'm a firm believer in you do you, and only you know what is best for you and your family. also, what is best for you and your family can change in an instant. no one else is me, no one else has my child or my husband. if we want advice, we'll ask for it. if we don't, we don't. and that's that.
i had an especially difficult first half of the week with my little sleep fighting, food refusing two year old. i could feel myself retreating from healthy patterns into unhealthy patterns that i go to in stress. difficulty making decisions, even simple ones. i think i took 30 minutes to pick out shopkins and legos for our two angel tree children in target. so many choices. i was so stressed about choosing the wrong set (if that's even possible). what if they don't like their gift?! then i have failed. i cannot handle disappointing people. especially children with a parent in prison who will be spending the holidays without that parent. i stressed about selecting produce at the grocery store. i stressed about what to attempt to feed sabina every meal. and then i stressed when she didn't eat enough variety since cheese, yogurt, banana, and peanut butter are our staples. did i create this monster? is she destined to live off panera mac and cheese alone for the rest of her life? i stressed about whether to take her to bible study fellowship on tuesday since she was on day six of croup cough at night. i called the pediatrician on wednesday and they said i didn't need to keep her quarantined for a cough only. so i stayed home for no reason. my isolation makes my control psychosis worse. i stressed about what to do about bina's nap and whether or not to have her skip it to ensure she would go down easy that night. i stressed about which wooden dollhouse to send my grandma as a christmas idea for bina. then when i finally picked one i second guessed my decision. so many things. when i get like this, i have to step back and do some self care. show myself some grace. i don't like when i get this way, it's hard not to go into self-loathing. why can't i just make a decision?! just do it! the fear of failure, of not achieving perfection, cripples me. and that's no way to live.
i had a season of doing really well with just relaxing my perfectionism and going with the flow. when i have times like that, it makes it especially frustrating when i relapse into hyper control mode. i like myself more when i can roll with the punches, laugh, and try again without self-loathing when i make a mistake. but you know who doesn't like me less or more depending on my stress level? god. he loves me just the same on my best day as on my worst day. i have to constantly remind myself of this truth. if my perfect god is full of love and grace for me, how can i not be full of the same love and grace for myself. it's so hard to see myself as worthy of that love and grace when i feel i don't measure up, as if i need to earn god's grace (which, you can't. grace is unearned favor by definition). when i feel like a failure as a mother, a wife, a person. when i feel like i can't do anything right, like i'm just completely inadequate and struggling through my week. how i need to truly grasp and internalize that i am loved completely by god, just as i am. he sees my struggles, he sees my failures. and when i fall, he doesn't look my way and laugh. no, he looks lovingly at me and encourages me to stand back up on my wobbly legs and find strength in him to keep putting one foot in front of the other, one shaky step at a time. just like when my daughter was learning to walk. we didn't scorn her for shaky steps and lost balance. no, we cheered and delighted in every effort she put forth and celebrated when she took off back and forth across our kitchen last july. because we know that shaky steps and lost balance are a necessary part of the process to get to walking, and that walking gets sturdier and faster with so much practice. god knows this about us, that the struggle produces growth. if only i could internalize this truth and grasp his delight in every attempt at progress i make.
yesterday we went to a waiting families meeting at bethany christian services in madison heights to hear a panel of adoptive parents and birth mothers. it was very emotional. one of the couples shared their experience of two interrupted placements before they adopted their first son, and another interrupted placement before they adopted their daughter several years later. the agency tells us 10% of placements are interrupted, meaning the birth parents ask that the baby be returned to them during the legal risk period. for this couple, they had their first baby for five weeks, their second for three. the baby before they adopted their daughter was with them for four weeks. this story is my worst nightmare. i keep seeing that those who have experienced the most brokenness in a situation are often (not always, as sometimes these experiences lead to hardened hearts) the most kind, gentle, and gracious. the adoptive mother encouraged our group through tears not to give up if we feel god has led us to the decision to adopt. she said she had an inexplicable peace through their three disrupted placements. there was grief, that doesn't mean that they didn't feel the pain of loss or take time to process it -- they did. but she had assurance that somehow god was working it all for good. she said she was glad to have been given the chance to love those three babies for the time that they had them in their care. gosh i pray that if that happens to us, that i will be able to say the same. because this whole process, it's not about us. it's about doing what's best for the care of these babies. and if that means loving and cherishing them for their first weeks and then returning them to their birth mamas, then that is what we will do. i was encouraged that after that experience the couple came back to the same agency to adopt their second baby. and that through all that grief and loss, they are on the other side and able to encourage others to keep on keepin' on. here i am stressed about the timeline of our home study approval, thinking i don't know if i can do this process again in the future. the truth is, i haven't experienced anything yet.
a common thread between the adoptive parents and birth mothers was how god is ultimately in all the waiting and disruptions. during the waiting it can be hard to manage the uncertainty. but on the other side, it's so clear how god's hand was at work to bring adoptive parents and birth parents together. this message was especially encouraging to me. it's really hard to see why it's taken over nine months from when we started the application to get to home study approval. one of the couples on the panel shared how their process was only four months from application to placement. my jaw dropped and i let out a low and flat "WHAT" when i heard that. every experience is just so different. there is no mold to fit. all of our journeys are different. we are all different. and that's ok. it's time to let go.
throughout these past nine months, i feel i've gone back and forth like a rubber band. releasing my hold on the process and letting go of my timelines and expectations. and when i do that, i am at peace about the process and able to truly live in the present moment with bina and enjoy this time with her alone. but then i snap back into holding all my timelines and expectations close, death gripping them. i carry all the stress of all the uncertainty. i try to control everything, and it is impossible. and that compounds my stress and frustration. i become irritable, short tempered. i death grip my control with bina and her eating and sleeping, and she defies my control. i death grip my control with my dogs and their incessant barking, getting in the way, and devious behavior, and they defy my control. then i let all my frustration with my inability to control on david, which places stress on our relationship. of course david has his own stress he carries, so then we're just one big mess of poor communication and misunderstanding. when i death grip, i die. my peace dies, my joy dies, my laughter dies. dead. gone. it's misery. for me and everyone around me. i can pop my head above water for a bit and find joy here and there in the mundane, ordinary things. but then i go right back to drowning in lack of control. so what's the solution? letting go.
it's ok to feel, it's ok to grieve the loss of the way i thought this all was going to go down. it's ok not to know how it's going to turn out or when. it's ok to find myself snapping back into death grip controlling. but i have to acknowledge it and then fight it. let go again. maybe multiple times a day. one day at a time. one of the birth mamas on the panel shared how alone and scared she felt going to meet the potential adoptive parents of her baby. in the car she cried out to god saying how alone she felt. and then "you are not alone" by michael jackson started playing on the radio and she felt a warmth come over her, a god hug. and then she was no longer fearful about the impending meeting. she felt god was in it, and it gave her joy and peace. what a sweet moment for her on her journey to placing her baby. i felt like listening to the parents, birth and adoptive, on that panel was a god hug for me. showing me how god can bring beauty out of broken circumstances, no matter what they are. and showing me how despite what i feel or despite what it looks like in the natural realm, he's got this all in his hands. he's got all of us in our different circumstances in a god hug, if we will just cry out to him.
so here's to letting go. again and again. it's a daily battle. but it's worth the fight.