I’m Baaaaack!

So….its been quiet a while since I have posted. No real excuses, blogging just fell off my priority list. Life got busy and went on without me realizing how long it had been. I forgot the reasons I started this in the first place. Then I was reading this month’s book club book (only just started so I can’t say if it is good or not) This Road We Traveled by Jane Kirkpatrick and one line really stuck out to me. The granddaughter is asking the grandma to write her autobiography and she says this: “I want to know when trouble found you and how you got out of it. That’ll help me when I get into trouble.”

And it hit me, THAT’S why I do this. To both shine a light into my world and get support for myself (and sometimes to remind myself of things) and to be a window into this world for others. So hopefully, I’ll be back more (once a week is my goal right now). Now I definitely DON’T have an the answers!!! But as I learned a couple weekends ago at an FASD mom’s retreat (which was amazing!) simply sharing your struggles and having someone identify that they too have those struggles lifts the burden a bit. We were never meant to do life alone.

As we are living life day in and day out, sometimes I forget that we have unique challenges. I forget about the FASD, the past trauma stuff and expect the kids to act like “normal” kids. Most of the time they are amazing. They really are great kids. But sometimes my expectations for them are not realistic and I need to keep reminding myself of that at times. Sometimes the stuff that comes with adoption that happens outside of my realm of influence really impact the kids and its hard. From not being able to schedule a visit with bio-siblings in 2 years to reminders of birth family when classmates have similar names to questions about history, and birth family, and “What are they doing now, mom?” that I simply don’t know (and probably won’t ever know the answer to). I tell them this and suggest we pray for them because God knows or write a letter for the Birth mom Box (not sure if i have touched on this at all, maybe I will in an upcoming post. If i don’t, someone remind me!)

I love this crazy little family we have made. I love the fact that while Skye is struggling with sassiness and refusal in school she comes home and we try to solve the problems. I love that it finally feels like it is us AND her fighting against the world as opposed to us fighting her. I love that Cayla is at the stage where she is soaking up every single drop of knowledge that she can. I love that she thinks I know everything and have the answers. I love that Preston is blossoming into a little social butterfly, that during our evening walks multiple kids call his name to say hi. I love that he is confident enough in himself to be the only one clapping at a song at church. I love that Joel and I are working together, learning as we go, and making date nights a priority (even if it is just a Costco run).

I’m sure there will be a LOT of stuff to write about in the coming months with the holidays and such. So hopefully you will hear from me again.

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2014 Review and Update #1

Wow, it has been a LONG time since I posted. One of my goals in the new year is to be more regular in updating this blog. It is a good way to keep connected with others both near and far, but it also serves as a record of the changes my family is going through. When I look back at posts from a year ago it reminds me that we are always growing and learning. So this post will be a pretty random update about everything that has happened since the last post and I will work on getting more regular with updates.

  • My Momcation: In the middle of December I took a vacation, just me. It was weird and awesome. I first flew out to DC to visit with a friend for a couple of days before taking the train to NYC to meet up with my mom and my sister for a girls week there. We had planned a girls week to celebrate my sister getting back from the Peace Corps, where she was gone for 2+ years. I saw them over thanksgiving, but it is really hard to catch up and hang out when you have 3 littles to take care of. The trip was AMAZING! It filled up my soul with the patience and grace that had been missing in my interactions with my kids the past month (I was feeling burnt out). I was really worried about how to kids would behave while I was gone. I’m home with them 24/7 so it was a big change. We planned it so the kids could stay home and our amazing PCA wold come to get them ready for school and pick them up and Joel would take over the evenings and weekends. I prepared them A LOT (maybe too much) for me leaving. I got the girls each a necklace and gave a stuffed animal to Preston for him to take care of for me while I was gone. We also made flat stanley versions of each of them for me to take and I regularly sent home pictures of their flats doing different things. The week went fast but I was ready to come home! I am so a small town girl, the big cities were fun but intense. I couldn’t help but wondering how parents of kids with special needs raise them in NYC. It is so big and so chaotic and intense and crowded. My kids need their space and calmness.
  • Christmas: Oh we had such a fun Christmas this year and really surprised the kids! A little backstory, we don’t do Santa here. We talk about how Santa was a real person a long time ago (St. Nick) and how other families like to pretend that he is still around giving presents but moms and dads are Santa. The reason we do this is simple. In building trust with our kids we told them we would never lie to them. There are times when I say, “I can’t tell you”, or “That’s adult business”, but we don’t outright tell the kids things that are not true. I don’t think there is anything wrong with doing that, just with my kids it is more important that they trust me than have that childlike wonder at this point in their lives. ANYWAY….this year we got some small toys and clothes for the kids but their big present was turning the basement into a gym. Now we have 2 trampolines, a balance beam, a punching bag, a spinner, and 2 gymnastics mats along with huge building blocks. We kept it a surprise until Christmas eve when Skye woke up when Joel and I were setting up the gym. She did a GREAT job of keeping it a secret until AFTER we opened all the presents upstairs. We told Cayla and Preston to grab some toys and we would play with them downstairs where we had more room. They were all so surprised! We have been using it a TON (until the next thing happened)
  • Epic Flu Epidemic of 2014/2015: In the week between Christmas and New Years our house got influenza. Well, not the actual house like the walls and stuff, but the people in it.  Skye was spending some time with an awesome friend who called and said her temp was 103 so we went to pick her up. The next day Preston was sick too so we went to the doctor who confirmed that it was influenza. Then Cayla has a weird 10 minute fever and Joel and I got a little sick. It was the first time all three kids had been sick at the same time and it was intense to say the least. On the bright side, the kids were great patients and mostly slept and vegged out. Skye even let me take care of her! The first night she was sick I was checking her temp really late at night and she said “I’m glad you adopted me, you know how to take care of sick kids”. My heart just melted. Since she has gotten better things have been a bit weird and she has been acting distant. I think it was hard for her to let me take care of her.

I can’t think of anything else, but I labeled this Update #1 in case a remember more to update on. Here’s to a great 2015!

How Can 1 Week Suck So Much?

Seriously though, how is it possible for all the shit to hit all of the fans in the course of 7 days? My life seems to go like this regularly. All the good packed so closely together and all the bad packed so closely together as well. I find that these weeks packed with bad have always been hard, but this is the first week (most likely not the last) like this since the kids have moved in. It is hard to hold my shit together when someone needs something constantly.

Anyway, to my week. There was a past safety issue with the kids that needed to be addressed. That was tough by itself and then I get a text that my grandmother is sick. The reality is that she is dying, 6 hours away. 6 hours away when I have pre-adoptive foster kids that I can’t take out of state without prior social worker approval. My grandmother gets sick on a Sunday. This means that I am stranded 6 hours away with kids that have lived with me only a little more than 2 months that can’t come with me. My husband and I talked and though it was a tough decision we decide that I should go see my grandmother while he stays home with the kids (calling his mom in for backup). I pack up and leave to 3 kids that tell me that they are sure that I won’t come back. My heart breaks yet I go. I feel like I am needed in two places at one time but the decision has been made. My kids will be around for a while, why my grandma will not.

I leave and go visit her and (praise The Lord) I make it before her health goes any more south. There were doubts about this, but once I was there I began praying that my wonderful sister Maggie would make it all the way back from Africa in time (3 days later). Today is that day and I am so happy to report that Maggie made it back in time! My wonderfully strong and sassy grandma is still alert and giving heck to my dad (he needs it). At this point there are days or weeks left unless she takes a turn for the worse. I am so glad that I got to visit and hang out with her. Complete with showing her pictures of her new great-grandkids and reading our favorite paper.

This situation with my grandmother makes me think of all my other loved ones that have passed away. These types of thoughts are always saddening, but since I have kids there is now a surprising new layer to all this. Not only do I not have any more opportunities to spend with some people that were really important to me, my kids will grow up only knowing these people as characters in a story. This fact breaks my heart. Some people that were so key in shaping my life, my kids will never know.

However, I know that those loved ones are cheering for me and my kids and waiting on pins and needles to meet them once we all get to heaven.

My kids lost their mind with me being gone so I came back the next day to a house full of people that loved me and missed me so much. I have to say, that moment showed me how awesome the people in my life have done! They formed a life that loves unconditionally, sasses non-stop, and cares deeply. There is no greater tribute to those that have passed away than living the life they would want you to have.

My grandmother has not passed away and maybe, just maybe, she will get to meet my kids when we all head down there after Christmas.

Surgery Update

It has been 5 days since my gallbladder removal surgery. I am happy to report that I made it through and I am happy and healthy, if one organ lighter. The surgery was interesting to say the least, well, not the actually surgery b/c I don’t remember any of that but everything surrounding it. Joel and I arrived at our scheduled time and they brought me back to pre-op room. It was comfortable and had room for Joel to sit. The staff was amazing and explained everything that was going to happen (including my discharge instructions) before  giving me any drugs.

I met my nurse, doctor, anesthesiologist, and what felt like a parade of other health care providers. I found out about the process of surgery and recovery. I found out to my sadness that family is not allowed in the recovery(post-op) room, but there is a second recovery room that family is allowed in. Since I have issues upon waking from being put under I was concerned about this. They assured me there I would have 1 on 1 care from the operation room nurse (which is the reason family is not allowed there).

Well, everyone that came to wish me well and pray for me, came into my room to say a quick prayer. After they left, the anesthesiologist came in and gave me the first couple drugs. I remember them being called “medazzle” or something like that as the doctor made a lame joke about dazzling me with medazzle. After that they took me to the ER, but I remember nothing after the pre-op room.

The next thing I remember is slowly (ever so slowly) waking up in the first recover room. There was no IV, operation was all done but I was did have an oxygen face mask on and the nurses and doctors kept coming over looking all worried. I asked for Joel over and over and over again and the staff kept saying that family can’t come back and that I would scare them. I began to realize in my drugged out state of mind that the oxygen mask was not a normal part of waking up from surgery. I tried to explain and tried even harder to negotiate Joel’s passage into this restricted zone. I kept wavering between working with the doctors and freaking out that I was dead or in a coma. I think the doctors thought that I was hurting really bad because they asked “Do you feel like you are dead or in a coma?”

If you are reading this and happen to work regularly in post-op recovery rooms, let me give you a piece of advice. Asking the drugged out, just awakened patient if they feel like they are dead or in a coma is NOT helpful or calming!

Well, in the recovery room the doctors keep switching me from full oxygen mask to nose based oxygen mask (does that make any sense?) from me freaking out a bit. I eventually got all calmed down and moved to the second recovery room where Joel was allowed to come in. I death-gripped his hand for a good 20 minutes, got some pain meds and was sent on my way.

My surgery was scheduled for 9am and I was home eating chicken noodle soup by 12:15pm. I took pain meds Friday, and Saturday.  On Sunday, Monday and Today I only took pain meds for sleeping.

They did 3 incisions and put dissolvable stitches in and surgical glue over the incision points. On Sunday I picked off the glue, horrible idea, I know I know, but I couldn’t help it. I hoping I don’t get an infection and I’m keeping them clean and covered. One thing I didn’t expect is how much I would hurt. The first couple of days was like intense pain, and now it is like an intense ache. I can’t really explain it any better than that.

Well, things have been going good. Joel’s parents helped a bunch and my mom came to visit until she left this morning. We got 2 wonderful dinner cooked by our church family. We feel blessed to be surrounded by soo much love.

Boy does trauma hang around

So this post is all about me…well I guess the entire blog is really, but what I am saying is that this post has nothing to do with foster care, adoption or the like, other than the vague tie of trauma and me wanting to write about it (and it is my blog after all). Well I guess I should catch you up. Today is my last day at my old job and I am bumming because I love to kids, LOVE the co-workers and just overall love what I do. I can see the impact I have made on the kids I work with and it warms my heart. However, I am still feeling super blessed to begin working with no commute and be more available for what I truly feel is my calling, parenting hurt and abandoned kids.

It may be a little bit before I start my new job. I was SUPPOSED to start the job this upcoming Monday, but since when has anything ever gone according to plan and this is no different. I found out Tuesday late afternoon that I need to have surgery. So instead of starting a new job next week and relaxing this weekend, I will be stressing this weekend and being cut open next week. Ok, that may be a bit over dramatic, but the title of this post does talk about trauma and who is clear-headed with regards to trauma?

I have been having intense (land me in the ER, pumped full of narcotic while they fun tests) “right upper quadrant” abdomen pain on and off since October 2012. Lately it has been more on than off. It gets worse at night, when I eat fatty food (which is the only tasty food there is!), and sitting/standing/laying doesn’t help. Through the doctors’ investigations they said it could be 1 of 3 things: the liver, gallbladder, or bowel. Well, it wasn’t the bowel (it is really hard to be excited after righting that sentence, but I was). The liver looked iffy but nothing that would cause the type of pain I was experiencing they came to find out. They kept coming back to look at the gallbladder. Not to make fun of the doctors but it felt as if they didn’t know what the heck they were doing/looking for; like when I pretend to throw the ball and really just hid it behind me and Sammy looks around and comes back to stare at me with that head cocked to the side expression. The gallbladder was the ball that was SUPPOSED to be in my hand but it wasn’t and then it was SUPPOSED to be where I threw it but it wasn’t. Ok, I am not recommended touching or throwing your own gallbladder! The doctors just kept saying it sounds like gallbladder but your gall bladder is fine. No stones, no “sludge” (whatever that is), no anatomical abnormalities, no reason for it to hurt. FINALLY after this last ER visit, where I was pretty sure I was either dying or birthing an alien (not how I planned to become a mom) they decided to look just one more time.

Still normal looking. But then the doctor spoke the fateful words, words that only people described as “medically complicated” or coming from a family with medical concerns like I do can understand: “In a small fraction of people…..” I wanted to stop the doctor right then and yell “I don’t even care what the rest of the sentence is, if it is rare, unlikely, complicated, and confusing chances are we should have STARTED there!!!” However, I was high on narcotics and was not that quick in my response time let him finish his sentence like the polite person I am.

“In a small fraction of people, there is gallbladder disease with no stones, sludge, or other abnormalities visible yet they experience all the symptoms of gallbladder attacks. The issue is that the gallbladder itself does not function properly, something these tests haven’t been looking for.” Or something like that, as I was in the ER on a IV happy-drip meds so it’s a little fuzzy. I remember being a bit angry and thinking: “Oh, you mean EXACTLY what I have been experiencing for 8 months and spent over $1,000 out of pocket to try and diagnosis and countless hours in pain?” See above on if I said it or not.

Well, long story short that test was ordered and the results came back in record time that I was in fact, within that small fraction of people with non-functioning gallbladders and needed it removed. I meet with the surgeon (my surgeon?) tomorrow morning to get some questioned answered and figure out a time to have the surgery. I am going prepared with my list (quite a long one) of questions. Also, random fact but did you know that red-heads generally require 20% more anesthesia than people of other hair colors? When I woke up during my upper GI I found that out. Not wanting to wake up this time.

So, back to the title of the post. I tell you all that to tell you this: I HATE hospitals. Not in the man, they are annoying I’m so bored kind of way. In the anxiety attack, heart racing, avoid it at all costs kind of way. Doctors offices are ok, hospitals are not. Since this isn’t a blog about my trauma (Thank goodness) suffice it to say that I had at least one VERY traumatizing experience when a loved one needed to be in the hospital. I would love to tell you that we bonded closer as a family, the person pulled through and it was happily ever after, but this is not a fairy tell and life isn’t like that in this story. It was hard, heart-breaking, and soul-crushing in every sense of all of those words. I was a broken little girl/young lady for quite a long time after. Only recently have I truly begun to grieve this lose and recover from the effects it has had on me.

Incidents following this one were not near as traumatic but ended the same and served to reinforce the mindset that hospitals are not safe and are not for getting healthy. Logically, I am fully aware that this is not the case and I know what I believed then was not true. I have confronted this trauma response related to hospitals on many occasions throughout the years but often due to “minor” things like migraines or for other people like my mother undergoing procedures and I have come out stronger and healthier.

I am a smart, intelligent, and emotionally aware 26 year old that has gone to years of therapy and has devoted my life to helping others deal with the traumas (big and small) in their lives. Yet when I was on that phone and the nurse said I needed surgery I can honestly say I thought two things: 1. running away and 2. I would rather be in pain forever than have surgery.

Being the skilled therapist I am I recognize those thoughts for what they are, remnants of the deep scaring that trauma left behind. Through no fault of anyone that loves me, life was hard and I lost some who I loved with my whole heart and was my caretaker. I lost him in a hospital where people that were “supposed to help him” (in my little trauma kid brain) let him die. If I am experiencing such strong reactions to a trauma memory that can make me knowingly and desirably want to stay in pain for the foreseeable future I simply cannot imagine what kids without loving caretakers and the benefit of therapeutic knowledge would do when faced with trauma triggers daily. No freaking wonder they have behaviors, no wonder those behaviors are hard to change. I actually told Joel I didn’t want the surgery and was serious, until he said he wouldn’t drive me to the ER anymore (tough love!). I have every advantage possible: the trauma was 1 time, I had loving family supporting me through it, it was the only trauma for the time being, stable caretakers otherwise, knowledgeable family and therapist to guide me, and love there to catch me when I call my mom and freak out a little as the doctor says I need surgery (love you mom).

What possible chance does a child with none of these advantages have when faced with a trauma or even a trigger years after? If anyone ever asks why I want to adopt/foster…this is why. Every kid deserves these advantages. No one deserves to feel even a fraction of the trauma response that I am feeling about surgery, let along kids without anyone to lean on. That is wrong and unfair and says WAY more about the adults in the society than it does about the kids.

Rest assured I will have the surgery, I will overcome this trauma trigger and come out the other end all the better for it. God has weaved my life that everything has worked to bring him glory. Even that horrible time in my life where this hospital trauma comes from that I still cannot talk about without crying. God is using that time to work through me to help kids in need. If that is not God turning victims into victories I don’t know what is!

 

 

Blog Year in Review.

First off, no news, more to come on that later.

WordPress sent me a annual report and I thought I would share. Yes, it is completely boring, and yes I expect no one to read it. Now I can look back and find it easily.

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys  penguins (I like penguins more than monkeys 🙂 )prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 2,500 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 4 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Proud Sister of a Peace Corp Volunteer

This post is very off subject, but something that I have been wanting to do for some time now. This has little to nothing to do with the adoption or weight loss/fitness, but this is something very important to me. I am a VERY proud older sister of a peace corp volunteer.

This has been a HUGE summer for my family. My husband and I have been in the process of an adoption with the ups and downs that come with that, and in addition to that my younger sister applied, interviewed, was offered, and accepted a position with the Peace Corp. My sister, Maggie will be going to Mozambique to be a teacher educator (not sure if that is how you say that but she will be teaching teachers). She leaves in less than 1 month and will spend 3 months in training and then be on assignment of 24 months.

I am sharing this here for a couple of reasons. First off I am so proud of her and wanted to share how awesome she is! I firmly believe that God has paths for each and every person. From the outside looking in, others cannot understand how walking that path can happen, but from the inside it seems like it is the perfect and right path for the time and that there is no other path that the person can take. For example, while I am so proud of my sister, I simply cannot imagine walking in her path. I know that the path is perfect for her but looking at it from my eyes it seems so overwhelming. I can imagine people feeling the same way about the path that Joel and I have chosen, but like Maggie seeing her path as the perfect one for her so do Joel and I. I am so thankful that God made many different people with many different gifts because the world needs all of us!

Second, I think that this is going to be a huge transition for my family who is used to having her in the same town and reachable. My sister is an awesome help to almost every family member in Omaha and it will be an adjustment to not be able to call on her for help or to go to a movie or to the mall. For me, living so far away this will be less of a transition. I however, will have to transition to the fact that my sister (one of a few family members that I am very proud to introduce to my children) may leave for her Peace Corp assignment before the children get placed with Joel and I, meaning that she might have to wait 2 years (or 1 year if she comes home for vacation) to meet the kids.

Third, and most importantly, I wanted to share about her journey and the address to her blog: http://maggiepeacecorpsjourney.blogspot.com so that throughout her time there and getting ready to go people that read my blog (those that I know and those that I don’t) can take a minute and read her blog, help her feel supported, and pray for her.

I simply cannot imagine going half way around the world, learning a new language/customs/culture, and staying for 2 years. I cannot put into words how proud I am of my sister following God’s path for her and stepping WAY out of her comfort zone to do so.

Last weekend my mom, sister and I met in Des Moines so that I could see her and spend a weekend together before she left. I have to say it was the most fun weekend I have had with them in a long time. Maggie showed me her LONG packing list and we talked about things from the past and present that needed to be aired. It was an amazing weekend and I am glad I got to share it with them. My favorite pictures are below!

Maggie with her new hiking backpack

Mom, Maggie, and I at the Largest Hy-Vee in the Corporate System