The Push Back

View of Mauna Lea, Big Island, Hawai’i

I felt restless and agitated at the beginning of our recent trip to Hawaii’s Big Island. I needed something, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Part of the problem may have been that my husband attended a conference during the first part of our trip. That put a cramp in my adventure plans (and this is all about me, right?)  Walking around the resort didn’t satisfy. Watching the dolphins in the Dolphin Lagoon didn’t quench the need. Once, we were able to get out of the resort, I felt better. Beyond the manicured lawns, and the carefully constructed activities, adventure beckoned. What I needed was something challenging , something where I need to push myself, something adventurous.

Lava fields and Golf course around Hilton Waikoloa

We kayaking a couple of times, once out of the bay of Puoka Bay on the Big Island where we snorkeled and encountered bright fish, sea urchins, and hono (sea turtles).  We hiked across the Kings Footpath through age old lava fields to a secluded beach. After the conference, we hopped over to Maui via the small aircrafts of Mokelele airlines. That was in fact, an adventure, which my husband promises never to take again. Once in Maui, we took another kayak trip around the boats and waves of the Lahaina Bay. Still, simply rowing through ocean waves didn’t quite satisfy. We slapped on our hiking shoes again and tramped across the ridge of Waihe’e.  Yet, the climbing and scampering didn’t hit the spot either.

Hiking the Waihe’e Ridge Trail

I encountered the SUP, or Stand Up Paddleboard, at Lake Erie in August and I loved it.  The feeling of standing up, riding the waves, and pushing my way around the water was soul satisfying. That was the missing something on this trip.  I wanted to stand up paddle!

The concept is simple enough, but during our trip the trade winds decided to pick and and were blowing around the island. So I put off the SUP, hoping the winds would die down. That stubborn restless itch wouldn’t go away. Finally, one morning, my husband wanted to kayak, so I decided I was going to do it–I was going to rent a flipping paddleboard and do this.  We drove down to Lahaina and flip-flopped our way into an ocean-sports shop.

Sunset Kaanapali Coast, Maui

There was a decided lack of enthusiasm for my SUP adventure.  “The wind has really picked up since the morning,” the rental guy said. His face covered with dubious concern. My husband echoed the rental guy’s concern, repeatedly asking me if I was sure I wanted to this. Without much encouragement, I contemplated giving in and just renting a kayak. I’d only SUP’d once, maybe they were right and I wouldn’t enjoy it.

But, I’ve got a stubborn streak. And the more these two men looked concerned over my dainty welfare, the more I wanted to prove them wrong. I picked up the board. The wind blew hard, almost pulling the foam board out of my hands. But I got the awkward mass of styrofoam to the water, and dropped it down. I straddled the board and used the paddle to get out from the shore line.  The wind was intent on pushing me back in, but I told the wind where it could stick it, got on my knees and started using my core and counter weight to get deeper out into the bay. Once I got some momentum, I moved further down along the shore. The wind died down and the water calmed. I put my paddle across the board, pressed my palms down, and carefully stood up. The waves flowed under the board, and I felt the awesome rush just like I remembered.

In the grand scheme of things, me standing up on a paddleboard in the Pacific may seem insignificant.  But at that moment and in my remembrance, it felt profound. As I dug in my paddle over coral and blue water, I thought about struggling with the winds and how my life felt like that sometimes, like strong winds pushing against my goals. At that moment, I thought maybe I’d let life push me around just a little too much. And I think the bullying started a long time before losing Jordan.

I’ve always been a go-with-the-flow kind of girl–to a fault. If there was too much resistance to what I really wanted, then I would give up thinking maybe it wasn’t meant to be. This particularly applied to my career, or lack thereof, and, now, with fertility. Perhaps, I thought, as I traversed the waves, if I just pushed back a little harder maybe I would achieve the things I really wanted. I turned the board back towards my starting point. As I approached closer to Lahaina, the wind whipped up and almost pushed me off the board. I dropped to my knees feeling a flash of panic as the water pushed my board sideways, threatening to flip it over. I tamped down the fear and cranked my lone paddle into the water guiding the board in the right direct, cutting through newly created waves. Laughter escaped my lips. I cursed the wind a moment ago, but now I laughed. Ahh, silly wind, you’re just a bit of resistance, no big deal.

Indeed, there is resistance in my quest for a healthy baby but,  I reminded myself, I have some options and I just need to dig in and commit to them. And, too, I am afraid of rejection with my writing but, again, there are options and I just need to dig in and practice, practice, practice. This bravada to dig in and push back might all be a huge mistake. But, so what? We have an angel praying for us, what is a little failure? Plus, I don’t want to live with the “What if’s.” They’re lame and sad, and who needs ’em? Not I.

Double Rainbow Maui

Back on the Market

To cut to the heart of it–we declined this adoption match. As we progress with the match, the ultrasounds showed consistent indicators that something may be wrong with the baby. Although nothing was diagnosed, we didn’t feel comfortable continuing with a high risk pregnancy.

That’s the gist.

The long story is that is was a flipping struggle! We didn’t know about the ultrasounds until after we met the birthmother, a 16 year old girl with no interest in being a mom. It sounded ideal and we tried to be positive about the findings in the ultrasounds. In fact, it felt like we fell into familiar patterns; I was the cheerleader doing my best to look at the bright side, My husband was the investigator researching symptoms, assessing risk factors, and calling colleagues for consult.  We thought, God surely put this situation in our laps for a reason. Maybe, this is another opportunity to embrace grace. But when one more issue came up regarding the background of the birthparents, I cracked.

Psychologically, it is fascinating how the body overrides conscience thoughts. I started having chest tightness and stomach aches. I’ve had enough stress in my life to know the signs of panic. We consulted our support people: family, our priest, councilor and social worker. Although, I think we knew the answer, we needed to hear that we weren’t bad people if we turned this adoption match down. So we did. And now, our profile is back up and we are in the waiting game again. And that’s okay.

Very few people know or can even imagine the trials we went through with Jordan. At the time, it was all about survival: his and ours. Great love and God’s grace got us through. But there are scars. As we go forward, maybe those scars will heal more. But for now, we have to accept our human limitations.

Chosen Ones

We have big news, we were chosen as adoptive parents! Now just hold on there. Don’t go getting too worked up. I’ve been holding off writing for just that reason. I knew you’d get excited, then I would get excited. But let’s try to remember: nothing is definite.

The birth mother is due November 2nd, which is both a little too soon and a little too far for me to be comfortable. After we got the call, we had one evening of elation before we crashed, a mountain of emotions. There is a lot to feel and we are doing our best to hit all points on the emotional arc of adoption. We are cautiously optimistic, which isn’t as much fun as elated, but after the last few years it’s the best we can manage. In the state where we live, a birth mother has up to 48 hours after giving birth to change her mind about giving her child up for adoption. And although we feel pretty good about things, nothing is certain until then.

It is super strange telling people. I keep debating whether it would be better to just show up with a baby rather than have to explain to people about the uncertainty of adoption. Like I just did with you. But you’re worth it, right?

Then, there is the rebound of grief and guilt that happens after I’ve had a day of feeling happy or positive about having another child. The next day I feel like a mack truck slammed into me. I’m all weepy missing Jordan and walking aimlessly around the house.

I may not be pregnant, but we are getting to experience the roller coaster of waiting for a baby.  So that’s nice.  I will write soon about meeting the birth mom. Keep us in your prayers too 🙂

The Art of Diversion

I haven’t written for several reasons. Mainly, I wanted to have something to write about that did not just focus on how much I miss my son, Jordan. I had this idyllic notion that after we put ourselves out there with our adoption profile, then whisked off to the enchanted lands of Italy and Lebanon, we would come back home and we would receive a divine call that someone wanted us to be adoptive parents. We did receive a call. But it was just an update from our adoption liaison telling us the number of views our profile got and that they sent out a few of our printed profiles to potential mothers. Now, it has been almost two months and we continue to wait.

In the meantime, I am trying to gear up for another attempt at conception and pregnancy.  And I can’t decide if it is bold and strong or just stupid. I talk to Jordan about it all the time and I get the same message back, you have to try one more time. So, that is what I am doing. But as the window for trying gets closer, the thought of losing another baby is creeping in.

To counteract the fear, I am a poster child for diversion. I’ve been changing up my workouts and actually paying attention to my fitbit. I indulged in complaining and last minute desperation as I planned and directed the Vacation Church Camp. (It was actually quite wonderful and I was sad when the week was over). I have been consciously trying to reach out to friends and connect. But it is exhausting when your introverted side conflicts with your extroverted one. Pick a side, already!! I started volunteering at the local History museum. Nothing grand just one day a week helping them upload items to their online gift shop. I garden and/or obsess about my garden, A LOT. I’ve tried to jam my head with novels. Some good: The Sparrow Sisters and the sequel The Forbidden Garden. Also, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry and lots not so good. Speaking of not so good, I’ve been enjoying Hallmark Mystery movies, in particular one with Jewel (Fixer Upper) and one with Lori Loughlin (Garage Sale Mysteries) which I particularly enjoy. Lastly, I’ve started listed outdoor furniture on Craigslist, which has prompted an overwhelming need to declutter. Ebay you are next!

These diversions have not only distracted from the “wanting a baby now” feeling, they also help to distract me from that chunk of my heart that is missing, Jordan. I’ve been skimming by his room quickly and avoiding looking at pictures and videos. I’ve had things to do! No time to let the hurt in. But eventually. Always eventually, I have to come in to his room and lay down on the floor next to his crib and ball. I use to sit on the floor a lot with Jordan. Using my nice long legs as a platform, I would lay that beautiful baby on my semi-bent limbs and he would look around, play, sleep. Jordan on my lap, that’s the way it was. And sometimes I have to miss him. Like full on, ugly-cry-miss-him. But tomorrow…

I go back to working on the Art of Distraction. I could teach a class.


Taking Leave of Tuscany

We arrived in Lebanon this past Saturday. Tuscany was hard to leave behind. It seemed the countryside looked different at different times of the day. It is no wonder that people return time and again to Tuscany. Every morning felt like potential as we whipped open the wooden shutters and let the light pour across the terra cotta tiles. I felt the urge to write on the stone patio surrounded by potted lavender and some kind of geranium. But we had medieval cities to visit, Chianti wines to try, and claustrophobic towers to climb. 

The ancient wine barrels in the Monastery of the Olives, a Benedictine order still there today and still producing wine.
The tiny town of San Gusme, a short walk from where we stayed at Arceno Estates.
View from Piazza Publico (City Hall) tower, looking over Siena’s Duomo
The Castle Brolio. Still owned by the same family since the twelfth century. They also produce a famous Chianti wine.
Michealangelo’s David
Florence’s Duomo. Florence was packed with tourists! But it was for a reason–lots of beautiful art, history, and architecture.
Our patio in Tuscany, Arceno Estates

Italian Distractions

After posting last, we flew out of the country and landed on the coast of Italy. We are lucky to have traveled to the Mediterranean many times. It never gets old. This time we wanted to see the famous Cinque Terre (Five lands). Five larger villages (and several smaller) are tucked into valleys between steep sea cliffs. A hike connects between them, but that seemed like too much work and more time then we had. After reading and planning, we decided the best way to see them was from the sea.  So we settled our home base in Porto Venere. Near the Gulf of Poets and the shipping and Naval port of La Spezia, Porto Venere was built in the twelvth century. There is a small but bustling port and a few islands adjacent. The water was clear and the weather delightful. 

Porto Venere, Italy. Ligurian Region
Beach time! Porto Venere, Italy

Our first day we decided to hop on the ferry to Palmaria Island and take the hike around the island. In our experience, most hikes near a touristic area are usually flat terrain aimed at the less atheletically inclined. This was not that hike. We climbed up 600 feet and down, then up again. The views were amazing. But at the end of five miles,we were ready for food and the beach. 

The next day, with cappaccino in hand, we met our skipper and his boat that would take us to Cinque Terre. Although there are ferries running between the villages of Cinque Terre, we read enough to know they were huge and crowded. So, we opted for a private tour instead. However, with all our focus on the adoption process, we were a little late booking. Instead of some slick sailboat or speedboat, we had, what looked like, a fishing boat without nets. Our skipper emerged sun baked, with long-ish, white hair, and a smile. We cruised along the coast. Farid even jumped into the water of a secluded cove (good for him :). We saw the beautiful and amazing towns of Cinque Terre. I couldn’t help picturing the Genoan and other sailor of history popping into each village to get supplies, or sell their products. Even today, boats swarmed each of the small ports. The nautical life is alive and well. In fact, didn’t we need a boat? We would debate that later, right now we wanted to enjoy the brightly painted buildings of Cinque Terre.

Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre
Small Village, Cinque Terre
Vernazza. One of the Cinque Terre villages.

We Have Officially Started…the Wait

Our adoption profile went live today. We put a lot of thought, heart, and few tears into it. So, it feels a little raw to have it out there on the web for everyone to see. I made the video myself, which makes it a little more nerve-racking. In fact, this whole month has been about pushing myself forward and feeling a little exposed during the process. I’ve had to make a conscious effort everyday to choose something different. Instead of clinging to the memory of Jordan and hiding out at home, I’ve tried to reach out to friends and say “yes” to opportunities, knowing that Jordan is still with me.

With that in mind, I had some new experiences: I took day trip with a friend to Grafton, Illinois, a small town on the Illinois river. There is a beautiful park there, Pere Marquette and quaint (some very quaint) little stores along the main drag. It felt like a summer vacation town. Usually, I have an image of a lake house or house on the beach, but in Grafton, there were condos and houses on stilts to rent and enjoy the river.

I, also, met another friend in Chicago for a last minute weekend. During our few days there, I agreed to run a 10k with her (And I don’t run). The Chicago Spring half-marathon and 10k route followed along the lake. I figured it would be beautiful views and if I couldn’t run the whole thing, there was always walking. At the start line, a man with muscular dystrophy reminded us to dedicate  this run to someone special, and of course I thought of Jordan. I kept think of him and smiling. He was with me. I kept up a steady jog for the whole 6.2 miles! It felt amazing!

Now, since our adoption profile is complete and up, I need to be open to whatever happens. A little flutter of anxiety erupts in my stomach if I think too long on the idea of getting matched with an expectant mother. So, I just won’t do that. That’s what my mom would say anyway. 

So here’s the link…

Oh I feel that flutter…better go get distracted.