keep surrendering to the process
i decided to donate the rest of my breast milk to a friend who had been placed with a newborn in january. the drop off happened on friday, june 15.
i remember pumping it and blogging about it last summer/fall and thinking i'm not sure if i will be using this milk to nourish a baby we are placed with, but even if not, i wanted to pump for that season. and here we are, a year after that pumping journey started, and all of it went to a sweet baby boy whose adoptive mama i met during our training through bethany christian services. not the ending i had hoped for when i started, but i knew it was a real possibility. i never considered that i would be giving it away because i had a little life growing inside of me, and a milk supply that will replenish itself if that baby is born. and yet here we are. i'm thankful that my boobs produced that liquid gold last year. and i'm thankful that it did not go to waste, that it went to nourish the child of a friend. as my donated milk nourishes another babe, my body is growing and nourishing one inside of me. a sweet conclusion to a confusing and difficult journey. surrender to the process.
i spoke with our adoption specialist about what this pregnancy means for our domestic infant adoption journey. what i learned was different than what i had expected to hear, and i am thankful. we are currently on unofficial hold, meaning we are temporarily off the waiting families list. if i make it to 12 weeks, then we will go on official hold and sign an agreement to that end. assuming all goes well with the pregnancy, our adoption specialist will check in with us once baby is six months of age, just to see how we are adjusting. once baby is nine months of age we can begin to update our home study (and make a new video/update our family profile photo book). we have from when baby is nine to 12 months of age to do this. by the 12 month mark we must decide if we want to go back on the waiting families list or withdraw from the process. the prospect of being placed with a baby a year after having one by birth sounds a bit scary at the moment! i have to remember we'd been waiting for six months when we found out we were pregnant, and we had a friend who had been waiting more than a year. but we also know others that were placed immediately. i guess we just never know! trusting that god will guide and direct us if we reach that point, and that he will grant us grace to face whatever situation we may find ourselves in.
though i'm only eight weeks along, i've been doing a lot of thinking about childbirth. that was when things started going a bit wonky for me, so naturally i'm slightly anxious about facing it again. david and i decided that i'm going to work with a doula this time around. from reading stories of different birth experiences, i've concluded that childbirth is a crap shoot. heck, pregnancy is a crap shoot. you just never know how it's going to turn out. i realized this after reading over many many stories from the 4th trimester bodies project, something i heard about in a podcast then looked up and just feel in love. stories of birth going perfectly to plan, birth going nothing like the plan, and everything in between. beautiful images of mamas and their tiny (and not so tiny!) humans. i decided to participate in this project myself to share my own story. i participated in a photo shoot in detroit earlier this year. it was empowering and humbling to share with other mamas and have our photos taken with our babes and then all together as a group. i'm very thankful for the experience.
with bina, i had a planned c-section because she was breech. my recovery experience was brutal, mentally and physically. part of starting the adoption journey was just to have a completely different experience. and boy was it! though i realized that different can mean all the same emotions in different circumstances. so really however you grow your family, it's hard. pregnancy and childbirth are hard. recovery is hard. having every bit of your life examined in a home study is hard. the sheer uncertainty of the whole adoption process is hard. never knowing if today will be the day you get the call, or if it won't be for another year, is hard. preparing to be the kind of parents that a child needs is hard. trauma is hard. loss is hard. love is hard. ITS. ALL. HARD. no matter how you go about this journey, it's hard. and i haven't wrestled with infertility. i have a child by birth. i am currently growing another. i have no idea what it's like to wrestle with infertility, or miscarriage (at this point). but i do know it's all really REALLY hard.
i came back to what god has been speaking to me over the last two years: surrender to the process. originally i thought that pertained to our adoption journey. then i stepped back and realized i think that applies to my entire life. stop trying to control it all, brittain. because NEWS FLASH -- you can't. surrender. let go. not everything is either right or wrong. maybe even most things aren't. over simplifying does a world of injustice to issues at hand. when i started thinking about how this baby might be birthed into this world -- i caught myself thinking there is a right way and a wrong way. if i choose a vbac and end up needing a c-section again, then the vbac would have been the wrong choice. but if i choose to have another c-section and could have had a successful vbac if i had tried, then another c-section would have been the wrong choice. i realized from our adoption journey that different can suck just as much as the first experience, in different ways. repeat c-sections are supposed to be easier. i've seen my friends with vaginal births up and walking and bouncing their babes days after birth. and i envy them every time. the thing is, it's still a crap shoot. i also have a friend who had a 4th degree tear and chose to have a c-section for her second to avoid the trauma of tearing again. there is no right or wrong decision here. they're just two different options. so maybe what i need to do is allow myself to dream a little. dream of a successful vbac and being able to bounce my little one without the pain of recovering from major abdominal surgery. surrender to the process, and just know that god will grant me grace for whatever route my body takes this time around. maybe that will be a successful vbac. maybe it will be an unsuccessful one ending in a c-section. or maybe i'll have another breech babe and a c-section will be the only option again. who knows? not me. but god does. so i can just rest and find resources like a doula to advocate for me to achieve my dream, and also support me in whatever happens from labor to delivery.
yesterday i was reading a few birth stories of attempted vbac that ended in a repeat c-section. and for the first time i was reading stories of empowerment. things gone wrong, but women proud of their bodies and what they attempted and what they accomplished. even through pain and vomiting and shaking, women able to rejoice in the birth of their babes and find joy in their experience. so even if i do attempt a vbac and end up needing a repeat c-section. even if i feel awful the whole time, even if nothing goes as planned, even if i don't get the birth i want -- i can still feel empowered for trying, and for birthing whatever way the baby comes out. there's no shame, no failure. just birth. beautiful, painful, raw, emotional birth. surrender to the process.
today i had my first obgyn appointment. it was supposed to just be an annual exam, but it turned into an annual exam PLUS first prenatal appointment. quite the show! david and bina came with me, my little entourage. a week ago i decided to do a self breast exam and thought i found a lump in my left breast. thought to myself -- if i've breastfed for THREE YEARS and have breast cancer... well that would just really really suck. i committed not to google it and to just mention it at my appointment. and all is well, just normal weird breast tissue. no need for alarm. pretty proud of myself for maintaining composure over that one instead of going into anxiety high alert. progress! we met with my new ob and talked through all the first prenatal appointment things. then i had my breast exam and pap smear. and THEN the REALLY fun part -- pelvic ultrasound! the ob said baby looks perfect. the three words that every expectant mother hopes to hear. i smiled as our little gummy bear came into view.
much clearer than the first ultrasound for bina, which was not a pelvic one. we got to see the little yolk sac and the umbillical cord getting ready to nourish baby from the placenta. its quite amazing. and hooray, only ONE baby. each pregnancy i'm slightly nervous i might be carrying twins because my mom is a fraternal twin. i used to think having twins would be sweet. but in reality it just seems completely overwhelming! i'm thankful to be carrying one little babe (though i'm sure god has enough grace for me if i were to be carrying two!). before i left i had a nice big blood draw to check for all sorts of fun things. got a caprisun as it was happening. then bina and i walked to the check out and the fun began.
poor bina thought we were going to meet the baby today. as i walked to the check out counter she trailed behind me whimpering about wanting her baby. but i want my baby NOW! i tried to explain that if the baby came now, there would be no baby. but of course her little three year old brain doesn't really grasp that. she just wants her new baby "sis-ser" so she can be the big sis. bless her heart. the protest started escalating as we walked to the elevator and went back down to the first floor to leave. exiting the building she was in full on tantrum mode. i got her to the car and strapped into her car seat and listed to "I WANT MY BABY!" on repeat all the way home. oh my bina, i love you so.
now we're relaxing at home. bina started a head cold two and a half weeks ago. david and i contracted it a few days later. so we've all been on the major sickie struggle bus for the past two weeks. i've been feeling nauseous and tired, but it's on steroids with a sinus head cold turned chest cold. so much coughing. not much sleeping. we went up north to petoskey last weekend to visit my dad at his lake house. before we left i went to the doctor to make sure this wasn't turning into something bad. the doctor gave me a prescription for a z-pack and told me to use it if needed. i finally gave up and got it yesterday. poor bina wanted to walk around the block yesterday afternoon and i just couldn't. nausea, a head cold, and exhaustion make for some fun mental health days. my anxiety goes up whenever i'm nauseous. i hate stomach sickness. and then i just feel like total crap with sinus pressure and congestion and a very phlem-y cough. coughing hard while nauseous, that's super fun. i've had to remind myself many times in the last two weeks that this is TEMPORARY. the nausea doesn't last forever. i WILL get over this cold eventually. i WILL feel like myself again. and in the meantime, we're all trying to rest well. rest and take care of ourselves. which means the house is a mess and the dishes are piling up and the laundry is too. but that's ok. we do a bit at a time and stay on top of what has to be done. and when we're all better, i can get things back into order. or, better order than they are now, at least. i haven't worked out in almost three weeks. but i will get back and it will be ok. surrender to the process.
i'm feeling hopeful after today's appointment. i feel like i'm in good hands working with my new ob. i'm hopeful for a healthy pregnancy. hopeful for a vaginal delivery. the circumstances of this pregnancy are vastly different than my last. it's a different journey, a different experience. i've got a toddler this time around, for one. i'm no longer working. david is working a full time (and then some) job and isn't a student this time around. we're in a different state. we have family nearby. i'm on lexapro and will stay on it throughout my pregnancy and after. i've been weight lifting for seven months. i'll be a second time mom, not a first. i'm going to be working with a doula during my delivery. so. who knows what's going to happen this time around. i'm doing what i can to set myself up for success. and practicing my mantra: surrender to the process. one thing is for sure -- nothing is for sure! except my god, my rock. so i fix my eyes on him, catch myself when i get distracted and overwhelmed, and fix my eyes on him once again. he knows the journey he has me and my family on. none of this is a surprise to him. and he will sustain us, whatever may come.
and in the meantime, i'm cherishing the moments with my adventurous little bina bina. her energy and joy make my heart explode with love. she truly is a gift.