Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Hope's Birth Story

When it comes to birth stories, most women do not write up, nor do I think they want to read about, scheduled c-sections. But, I want to remember the day and if I do not write it here to publish, it is unlikely that I will sit down for my own sake, and write, so bear with me as I recount the day.

As with most scheduled, repeat c-sections, the date was scheduled months in advanced.  I knew that Hope would arrive on May 3 unless she decided to surprise us and my body would decide to go into labor for the first time ever.  Although I am older and anything is possible, I thought it highly unlikely, so I was not too worried that she would be born any sooner that May 3rd.

The hospital that I deliver at has started something called the "Family Centered C-Section."  If you are having a scheduled, routine, c-section, you can elect to have a family centered c-section.  Basically, they allow you to have some of the experiences that you miss in a c-section that you have in a natural birth.  Instead of the baby being whisked away, out of the OR right after birth, the baby is given to the mom to hold giving the baby the all important skin-to-skin contact.  If desired, you can request a clear surgical drape so that you can see the birth of the baby.  And, your husband can cut the umbilical cord.  Although I did not elect to have a clear drape (let's be honest, I wanted to see Hope being born, but really did not want to see myself cut open . . . Pete was able to take photos of it all and they are NOT for the squeamish), I did want to be able to experience some of the things that I longed for in the birth of my sons' but never experienced. So, we planned for a family centered birth and I just hoped that I would not go into labor early to thwart my plans.

On the Saturday before the scheduled c-section (and the day before Andrew's First Communion)  I woke up to contractions.  They were inconsistent, but coming with a frequency that made me uneasy.  I timed them and began to GUZZLE water (since dehydration can cause contractions).  Thankfully, by mid afternoon, the contractions had slowed and were infrequent, but they continued on through the next two days.

My c-section was scheduled for 10:30 AM on Tuesday, so we headed to the hospital bright and early in the morning.  Once checked in, we were greeted by our pre-op nurse, who took us to our pre-op room.  Time seemed to fly by.  She got me ready for the c-section. My OB came in.  We met with the anesthesiologist and before we knew it, our OB was saying that it was time to head back to the OR.  I was pretty calm at this point.  Our pre-op nurse (who would be with us during the whole c-section), my OB, and the anesthesiologist were incredible.  They were friendly, sweet, and kind and put me at ease. Our pre-op nurse said, "Let's get this birthday party started!" as we walked down to the OR.

Once in the OR, they prepped me for the spinal.  It is the thing I have been the most nervous about in all my c-sections.  It is also the thing that, mentally, I tell myself, if I can get through the spinal, the rest will be ok.  The spinal was completed without any problems and before I knew it, I was laying down, with very numb legs.  All of the nurses, my OB and the assisting OB began to move around in a flurry of activity. Yet, during all of this one or more of the staff continued to talk to me and ask me questions.  The anesthesiologist asked me about how many "babies" I had had.  That naturally led into a conversation about our kids and adoption.  My OB chimed in that she was adopted and thought adoption was just the best.  Her parents had 5 biological children and then adopted her and one of her sisters as well.  Then, the music came on.  Our nurse had asked me what music I would like in the OR and she put on contemporary christian music.  This is Amazing Grace by Phil Wickman filled the OR.  One of the nurses began to sing and my OB thought it was me signing.  She said that would have been a first!  To be honest, at that moment, I was so calm and at peace that I could have been singing at that moment. I am not sure if it was because of all of the prayers of others, all we had been through to get to this day, or the incredible people I was surrounded by who were taking care of me or the perfect combination of all of it, but I truly was so peaceful about this c-section and birth; more than I had ever been with my other children.  

Before I knew it, my OB told Pete to get the camera ready, Hope was about to be born.  I could feel the tugs.  Pete said, "I see her.  She's beautiful!"  I can still see the excitement and joy on his face.  And then I could hear her scream.  I started to cry a little and just could not wait to see her and hold her.  One of the nurses asked me if I minded if they cleaned her up just a bit before they gave her to me, and I was fine with that.  Only moments passed, and they brought her over to me and they placed her on my chest.  Hope had been screaming the whole time, but the minute she was placed on my chest, she just stopped and was so content.  It was such a gift to be able to hold her right away.  My boys had been brought to me bundled in a towel and I was able to look at them for a moment before the nurses took them out of the OR and to the recovery room, with Pete following.  And with each of those three c-sections, I was left alone while the OB finished up.  This time,I got to hold Hope until my OB had finished, Pete by my side.  The time went quickly as Pete and I just gazed at our beautiful little daughter and chatted.  Before I knew it, they took down the surgical drape, my OB came to talk to Pete and I and then the three of us (Pete, Hope and I) headed to recovery.

That was a week ago today.  And this has been, by far, my best and easiest c-section recovery.  The irony of that is not lost on me.  Just a few months ago I thought I might be having a high risk c-section delivery, and instead I had the best c-section experience with recovery of all four.  I could not have hoped for a better birth experience with Hope and recovery since.  I am grateful for all of the prayers over the last several months and for the amazing staff at AAMC who made the day so memorable and special.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

40 days as a family of 7 and 20 days to a family of 8

Easter Sunday 2016 - Family of  7 and as close to a baby bump photo you will get

40 days ago, Pete, Joshua and Thomas came home from China.  If you have not seen our video on Facebook, take a minute to watch it here.  I am biased, but I cry watching it. EVERY. SINGLE.TIME.  It, and all the photographs were taken by Nicoleinbold, LLC, an amazingly talented photographer I found through Red Thread Sessions.

Thomas's US Gotcha Day from Nicole Burmeister on Vimeo.

Right now, a mini miracle is occurring in our home . . . . both toddlers are napping! So, I am going to attempt to write this post and hit "publish" before either wakes up!

So, let's just get to the details, shall we?

Things are going well.  Thomas is adjusting very well and I seriously cannot imagine life without him.  He has been attaching to me well (and to Pete too, of course) and we have seen improvements in his interactions with strangers over the last month.  He is a super sweet little boy and we all adore him.  His smile melts me, but all of my boys have been able to charm me with a sweet smile.  Although things are going well, please do not read that as "this is easy."  We are living the HARD right now. Good and beautiful, but hard.  And there are moments that I do not think it would seem so hard if I weren't just so big and pregnant.  Felicity has "battle scars" from her dear brother. The toddlers can create more mess than I ever knew possible. Getting Thomas to nap when Felicity no longer naps, but just HAS to be in the room when I put her brother down for his nap has taught me a whole new level of patience I did not know exists.  After I dropped my boys off at their tutorial this morning, I went to daily mass with the toddlers, for the first time since Thomas came home.  It was 9AM when mass was over and I officially considered the day highly successful.

Thomas has been through all of his doctor's appointments and is doing so well!  Since he has a heart condition, we were very concerned about his cardiologist appointment, but after his echo, the doctor declared that his surgery in China was beautifully done and that he is HEALTHY!  Thomas will only need yearly appointments at this time!

At the cardiologist, waiting for his echo, and showing off his CHD warrior scar

This week marks the 36th week of pregnancy for me.  I am BIG and probably look continually tired.  I get insomnia in my third trimester, so there are nights I sleep very little.  While I know adding a newborn to the mix will be challenging, I often think it will be easier than right now . . . . we will see. We are officially 20 days away from baby Hope's arrival. I have to have a scheduled c-section, so we know the date and approximate time of her arrival already.  The crib is up, car seats are set, and my hospital bag is almost completely ready to go.  A sitter for the toddlers is lined up and as of right now, we have not scared her off yet!  I know the next few weeks will fly by and before we know it baby Hope will be in our arms.  I have not spent much time getting excited about her arrival.  Really, I am so busy with the "now" that it is hard to even think about what is to come. But last week a friend gave birth to her baby boy and as I saw the updates and photos over two days, I began to get excited about having a newborn again. It has been so long that I wonder if it will feel new again, or if it like riding a bicycle; that it will all just come back to me once she is in my arms???

A grainy phone photo, but it shows the pure joy for this crazy life!

So that is what is going on in our little corner of the world. Other than the details, I have to say that I am often left with this overwhelming sense of awe at all that God has done.  Each day I look at Thomas, I am profoundly grateful and amazed at how God brought him into our family; from that day I played with him in the orphanage, to the mountains moved during the adoption process to bring him into our family and at the timing of it all, I am simply in awe.  This morning, I was pondering it all and I looked at our little man and said, "God must have known we needed you."  Yes, Thomas needs us too, but there must be something about him with us that is just right.  I have so many thoughts on this whole subject and how it has left me changed in a different way than how Felicity's adoption impacted me, but those thoughts and feelings are to be written another day.

For now, I know, that to so many, our lives may seem chaotic and our decision to add more family members through adoption just a little bit crazy.  And there are days that it truly is.  But, I can say that our hearts are bursting with love and joy more than ever before.  To see my three boys light up when they see Felicity or Thomas? Oh, pure joy.  To see Pete play and hold these two silly toddlers?  Pure joy.  To have Thomas wake up in the middle of the night and say, "Mommy?" and then immediately fall back to sleep when I simply say the words, "I am here Thomas."? . . . . joy.  To see Thomas and Felicity pat my belly and wave "Hi" to baby Hope  . . . . oh, yes, pure joy.  

So, we may seem a bit tired and haggard some days, but we "consider it all joy." 

Monday, March 14, 2016

All things Thomas and how things are going (really) after a week home

I have had to change the title of this post already.  I had grand plans to post days ago, but, you know, life with a new one is happening right now and I am at the mercy of his plans (really, HIS plans).   I have not written much since Thomas came home last week.  If you are on Facebook or Instagram, you will recognize most of these photos, as my phone is pretty much the only camera that comes out lately.  Yet, I wanted to take a moment to update everyone on how things are going right now and answer some things you may be wondering about.

Overall, we are all doing well.  Life seems so natural with Thomas in the house and I am really proud of how all of the kids are adjusting to having another toddler in the house.

Just a few things about our boy:

- He is a super, cute, chunky little thing.  He is much shorter than Felicity, but has the most adorable chubby belly.

- He has a charming smile. Too charming, really.  He will often use that charming smile to get out of trouble.  So far, we are resisting his charms.

- He has the softest skin of any of my children.  It is butter soft and I cannot help but rub his cute little cheeks whenever I get a chance. Pete said that the guides in China would comment on how great his skin is and now, I can understand why.

- He is all boy and combined with some bad behaviors learned at the orphanage, he can be a handful. But, not too much of a handful that we cannot work though it all.

- He is picking up English words here and there and his receptive language is great.

- He is very social.  Which is nice, but, in the long run, will make our cocooning phase longer and attachment more of a challenge.

Speaking of attachment:

- After a rough start with Pete (Thomas was deathly afraid of men), he warmed up to Pete very well in country.

- He was very scared of me when he first came home.  Pete had important meetings at work just two days after coming home from China, so Thomas had to get used to me quickly. By the third day, he had seemed to warm up to me.  He allows me to cuddle him and rock him to sleep.

- He loves his brothers, and honestly, prefers them to anyone else.  This, again, can be a challenge, but the boys have been so great about letting Pete and I take the lead in the care of Thomas, so as to firmly establish us as the care givers and those Thomas should seek first.

- I adore the little boy.  He had my heart before he even came home and that has not changed.
While, the first week has gone well, we have a LONG way to go.  The process of attachment is often 2 steps forward, one step back, or sometimes just a crawl.  It has been hard not to compare him to Felicity and where she is at now, but she has been home 18 months and grown in so many ways and we know that we will look back a year from now and see a lot growth in our relationship with Thomas too.

Felicity and Thomas:

These two are now affectionately named "The Toddlers."  And, as you would expect from any two toddlers, they can get along beautifully one moment, and then not-so-beautifully the next.  We were very concerned about Felicity's adjustment to Thomas and she is far surpassing our expectations.  She has been doing well overall and I have been so impressed with her ability to adjust.  Thomas and Felicity are just 7 months apart in age, but right now, developmentally, they seem about 18 months apart.  At this moment, it is a great thing because it is helping to establish Felicity as the older sister.  She has become a mini-mom in many ways and is amazing at grabbing diapers and wipes when I need them for Thomas.  I barely get the words "sippy cup" out of my mouth and she is on her way to get his sippy cup so that I may give it to Thomas. While, Thomas may prefer his brothers, I really think these two will become very close over the years.


How would you guess sleep is going in a house with one toddler still slightly on China time, one toddler adjusting to having a toddler brother, two other family members overcoming jet leg and a 32 week pregnant woman??  If you can imagine all of those scenarios under the same roof, you can imagine just how sleep is happening, or not happening, in our house.  Melatonin has become our friend to help regulate Thomas' and Felicity's sleep.  And, as long as I can avoid having to sleep on the floor, next to my toddler daughter, I can get sufficient enough sleep to get me through (yes, at 32 weeks pregnant, I have had to sleep on the floor! I do not recommend it).

These early days of melding Thomas into our family are not easy.  And since this is not our first time at this, we did not expect it to be easy.  Add being pregnant onto it all and it does complicate things.  But, in so many ways, this feels so much easier than last time.  Even admist the craziness, there is much joy.  I was changing diapers and getting "The Toddlers" ready for bed one night and Pete looked at me and said, "You are happy, aren't you?"  Yes.  Yes, I am very happy.  Even though I am tried and my body is just not able to move the way it did just weeks ago, I am very happy.  Adding a two year old, full of energy, to the mix, and yes I am still happy. I am sleep deprived, and I am still happy.  And I think that it all stems from an excessive amount of grace.  Grace that comes when you are walking the path that God wants you on..  Even though it may be hard and challenging, there is still an incredible amount of joy that comes with it.  Joy in knowing that we are getting a little glimpse of God's love through this whole process.  Joy in knowing that there is one less orphan in the world and that a son is HOME.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

An update: The train is pulling out of the station

As 2016 approached, my anxiety of all that was to come this year began to increase.  Anytime I thought about it, I felt like we were headed for a journey on a high speed train.  And once we boarded, we would be whisked away on a crazy, amazing, and tiring journey that would be full adventure.

And as of last week Friday, I can say that we have boarded that train and it is beginning to pull out of the station . . .
Our precious Thomas Joseph!

If you are in our private adoption group on Facebook, you know the full details, but to share quickly, God moved some more mountains on this adoption journey and February travel, which once looked impossible, is happening!!  Last week we received Travel Approval and our Consulate appointment and our sweet Thomas will be placed in Pete's arms on February 22nd!!  Since this was hoped for, but totally unexpected, we are not totally prepared and this week before travel will be filled with last minute packing, trips to Target and getting every last piece of paperwork in perfect order to make the trip as smooth as possible.

I am 28 weeks pregnant and although I did get clearance from my OB to go, I am staying home.  I do not think the reality of that has hit me totally yet and I am not sure just how I will be when I am saying good bye to Pete at the airport, knowing that I will not be there on Gotcha day or the days following to bond with Thomas.  I am not one to listen to others' concerns too closely and so the myriad of family members who mentioned that I absolutely should not go, really did not deter me.  Honestly, Saturday night I was pretty convinced that I should go and be there.  I prayed that God would give me clear direction.  Then on Monday, at the end of mass the priest was mentioning about the possibility of no public mass due to weather on Tuesday and he said something which stuck with me.  He said that sometimes prudence is the better side of valor.  And I realized that I needed to be a bit more prudent about the whole trip.  I am on the cusp of my third trimester.  We would have to take Felicity back to the same orphanage that she herself came from, and so I would not be only dealing with one grieving toddler (Thomas) but I could also be dealing with one very confused, scared, and traumatized toddler (Felicity).  And,oh, yes, I would be doing so while very, very, very pregnant.  So I am staying home.

Thomas will be HOME, on March 4th. We will begin cocooning him and working to help him feel a part of our family. And then on May 3rd, Hope will be born via c-section.  As we enter this time, I ask that you pray for our family in some, very specific ways:

1) Pray for the finances to come through for our adoption.  Any moment now, we should be receiving the final bill and cost list from our agency.  Within days will we owe approximately $12,000 for our travel expenses, in-country fees, etc, etc.  We did not receive ANY of the grants that we had applied for, so every penny that is due will need to come from us.  We have a YouCaring page where we can receive donations and I keep track, on there, of every penny given to us even outside of the page, but here is the thing:

I am not really sure we should ask for donations.  As much as I want our adoption to be fully funded.  As much as I am grateful for every donation that is given to us, there is just too much want and need in our world for me to feel that our need is more necessary than another.  There are families abandoning their children because they cannot afford their medical care and feel that the only way to save their child's life is to abandon him/her.  These families need our help.  There are children dying because of starvation or inadequate water sources.  These children need our help.

One of my biggest questions and fears going into this adoption was "How in the world would we pay for it?"  And after all that we have been through on this journey, I feel like that one lesson I have come to learn is that there are worse things that could happen than going into debt for this adoption (sorry Dave Ramsey).  After getting our second grant rejection letter, my first thought was, "It is ok, Thomas is worth the debt."  There are many things in life that are not worth the debt; a bigger house, a new car, the latest gadgets. But Thomas?  Oh, yes, he, he IS worth it.  And we will survive with it.  We will pay it off and be ok.  And Thomas will be with his family and an orphan no more. Totally worth it.

So, if you feel led and only if you feel led, you can donate to our adoption at our YouCaring Site here.  But again, only if you feel led.

I am also still selling these beautiful bracelets I made in honor of Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Month.  The proceeds will be split between our adoption and Morning Star Foundation that cares for orphans with significant heart defects and helps families to pay for their child's heart surgeries so that families may not feel that their only option is to orphan their child.  You can purchase it here.

But, mostly, just pray for us. That God provides in the way He wants to.

2) Pray for Pete and Joshua's travel in China.  Pray they do not get sick. Pray they remember NOT to drink the water :-)

3) Pray for me while they are in China.  Pray I am able to get everything done that needs to get done for Thomas' arrival and for Hope's arrival.  I want the time between Thomas' homecoming and Hope's birth to be unencumbered by extra chores and to-do lists.  I want that time to be about Thomas and family.  

4) Pray for Thomas, especially as he transitions to our family.  Pray his attachment goes well.  Pray for our time of cocooning him before Hope is born.  It is a special time, but can often feel very isolating.  It is a time when our child is put before all other relationships with other people.  I know sometimes it is hard for people outside our immediate family to understand why we pull back from everything, but Thomas and his adjustment is our priority during this time. 

Thank you all for being a part of our journey!  We are so appreciative of you all!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Her name, my word for 2016, and an ultrasound picture too!

I had thought of writing two separate posts.  One about our daughter's name and one about my word for the year, but really the two go together and I cannot tell the story of one, without the other.  And so, I will unravel both together.  I wish I could write a nice,short, succinct post about each, but in order to truly understand how God brought about our daughter's name and the word for the year, I need to give you more details about what had gone on in our lives since that early September day when I found out I was pregnant. 

I know I had shared how worried I was that our newest development would affect, or totally stop our adoption.  After I had told my husband that we were expecting, we quickly discussed that we would wait until I was around 12 weeks pregnant to tell anyone, including our adoption agency.  Since I am older, and the risk of miscarriage is higher, we saw no reason to alert our adoption agency too early.  Yet, after a day of worrying and crying (on my part), Pete suggested we call our social worker.  So, our social worker was the very first person to learn our news.  She quickly tried to alleviate some of my fears and mentioned she would tell the head of the China program.  But, they saw no real reason why we would have to stop the adoption process.  That was until they spoke to our home study agency and learned that our home study agency had a policy against adopting while pregnant.  We were never made aware of this policy nor did we sign anything that stated we agreed to the policy, yet our placement agency wanted to honor the policies of our home study agency.  At first we were told that we would have a meeting with the director of the home study agency to discuss our situation once I had my first OB appointment.  My first OB appointment came.  I emailed our social workers to tell them.  Days later I get an email from our home study director stating that she was so happy for our pregnancy and that all looks good, and they have a policy against adopting while pregnant and so we would need to stop the adoption until the baby was 6 months old.  We would lose our son Thomas.   Over the next few weeks, the two agencies went back and forth about our adoption.  While our home study agency could not really stop the adoption, our placement agency wanted to keep good relations with them, and so lots of agency politics ensued.  We prayed.  We asked friends to pray.  And we waited for final word.  Then one day another email came.  It was from the director of our home study agency.  Although she was still against the adoption (because it was policy), she would allow it to continue.  At that moment, I was so relieved.  Although I have not shared all of the details here, know that that email, that permission was truly a miracle.  Hearts had been changed and mountains moved.  Our Thomas was coming home!

Over the months of that fight, God was trying to teach me many things.  He reminded me that even before we started this adoption process, he was calling me to a deeper sense of trust.  There were moments over those weeks, that I wanted to call our placement agency and FIGHT for Thomas.  Yet, I didn't.  I felt like God was calling me to trust Him and that my weapon, was prayer; not my own words shared with social workers and directors, but words lifted up to Him.  Trust, Katie.  Just trust.  Trust and Hope.  And those two words became words I clung to.  Even as I pondered the life inside of me, there were moments, early on, I thought  this baby is Hope.  I am not even sure why. But, I just did.  Maybe it was because I had to cling to hope.  I truly thought I was going to lose one of my children (Thomas or the baby) due to all that we were going through.  And the only thing I had was to cling to the Hope that God was going to work it all out.

And after the email, on the Feast of St John Paul II, the day after Thomas' birthday, I really thought God had worked it all out.  TJ would be coming home.  We would be having a baby. I was getting excited about all that was to come.

About 5 days after the email came, I had a 12 week ultrasound.  When you are of "advanced maternal age" they suggest early ultrasounds and genetic testing to see how the baby is doing.  Since we were also in the middle of the adoption, I welcomed as much information as possible, so that we could be prepared for all that may come.  Thankfully, the baby looked great.  The Dr stated that the baby looked healthy and he saw no reason for concern for genetic disorders.  But, then he stopped.  And he shared that based on what he was seeing on the ultrasound, that  I was developing placenta accreta. While many of you may not know what placenta accreta is, I was well aware of what it was and the possible, serious and life threatening consequences of it.  In all honesty, it was the one thing that scared me more than anything else.  The Dr rattled on about a scheduled high risk c-section no later than 36 weeks, a specialized team in the OR at the birth, banked blood in case of excessive blood loss.  He said, "Oh, and I hope you do not want any more children, because you will probably have to have a hysterectomy" (It reduces the mortality rate).  He did follow all of it up with the fact that he would not know for sure until the 20 week ultrasound.  I left the ultrasound room, and noticed my hands were trembling.  I made it to the car before the tears started to flow.  If I had placenta accreta, it would affect everything; the adoption, our family, everything.  I tried to remain positive, but it was hard.

I knew I had 8 weeks before I would know, for sure, how we would need to proceed.  I prayed.  Seriously, I think I prayed every power house saint novena I could think of; St. Philomena, St Rita, St Jude, Our Lady Undoer of Knots, Infant of Prague, (and the list went on).  There were days, I just stopped teaching my kids and went up to my bedroom, crying and, pleading with God for this all to change.  I just wanted to bring my son home from China, I just wanted to be happy about the life growing inside of me.  I wanted a healthy birth.  I talked to priests, and went to a healing prayer holy hour.  And God's message to me, wasn't one of "Don't worry Katie, I will heal you, it  will be perfect."  It was "I love you Katie."  A priest, during confession, told me I needed to find Hope in all of this.  I needed to trust.  There were those words again.  Trust. Hope.

It was during this time too, that we found out we were having a girl.  We had always wanted to name a girl Elizabeth after Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist.  But , for some reason, when I thought of the name, it was not followed with a resounding "yes!" in my mind and heart.  But, there was continually this whisper of the word, of the name, Hope.  I shared it with Pete and he wasn't too thrilled with the name.  But, I kept coming back to it.  We even found a St. Hope.  One First Friday, we went to mass as a family.  Pete declared that we should pray about a name for our girl.  Hope was mentioned in the first reading twice. The word Hope seemed to surround us, although, we were in Advent at this point, the season of expectant Hope, so it was not too much of a surprise.  But, I was pretty sure Hope was our daughter's name.

Then on December 14th, I had my ultrasound appointment.  The week leading up to it was difficult.  I began counting down the days, knowing that that ultrasound could change our adoption plans, the rest of my pregnancy, and even my own life.  Trust and Hope.  Trust and hope. So, I went into the ultrasound hopeful, but scared.  As we sat in the waiting room, Pete said, "There's our daughter's name.  It's the sign we've been looking for," as he pointed to the wall before us.  And there it was, truly a sign. A big metal sign above the receptionist's desk.  Four simple letters: H-O-P-E.  I laughed as I looked at Pete.  I guess we did have our daughter's name.  And a gentle reminder too; to keep on hoping.

The ultrasound seemed to go well.  The tech went through every organ system of our daughter.  All looked good.  Then she got to the placenta.  She checked it's blood flow. The tech said nothing. No "it looks good" as she did with most everything else.  Then she was done.  She left us in the room to get the doctor. I am not sure how long it took for her to come back with the doctor, but it felt like forever.  I braced myelf to hear the worst.  The doctor came in and did a quick ultrasound check himself.  He proclaimed that our daughter looked absolutely perfect.  Then, he got a smile on his face and paused.  "I see no signs of accreta. Nor based on what I see today, do I think you will develop it."  I let out a big sigh.  It felt like I had been holding my breath since that day in September when we found out we were pregnant, and this day, with those words from the doctor, I was finally able to really breathe again.  Tears streamed down my cheeks.  Pete laughed and told the doctor that he had been the cause of a lot of anxiety over the last few weeks.  And we just smiled.

In the car ride home, Pete asked me, "What do you think God was trying to teach you through all of this?" In that moment, I did not have a well formulated answer.  I wondered myself, why?  Why did we have to go through all of the stress, the wondering, when it all worked out as we had hoped. Thomas was coming home. And, as of right now, it looks like I will have a healthy, uncomplicated pregnancy.  And, I think, it goes back to Trust.  The one thing God was asking of me at the beginning of this adoption process.  The one thing I clearly need to grow in.  And so, my word for this year is TRUST. I want to grow in my trust of the Lord, that no matter what may come, I will not be shaken in knowing that He is taking care of it all. 

As you know, already, if you have read all my ramblings, our daughter's name is Hope.  

I will end this post as I have my other name posts, with a "photo" of our girl.  

Hope Elizabeth Murphy