This is the post where I write a long-overdue update on my life and its happenings and try to explain why I basically dropped off the blogging planet. You know the drill.
So wow. It’s been more than six months and a ridiculous amount of things have happened. I’ll try to go in chronological order, for simplicity but also drama.
Foster Placement #3:
After our emotional ending to Firefly’s placement with us, we took a brief break before our foster agency approached us about a short-term placement of three little girls who were on the fast track to reunification. By all accounts, this would be a quick placement — their mama was working her plan, the girls were ready to return home, and we would get to play a part in a successful reunification, something we’ve wanted to do, as we feel strongly that children belong with their natural families whenever it is safe and appropriate.
So we said yes.
At the end of February, three beautiful little ladies moved into our home: M (15 months), A (2.5), and K (5)! We got them all enrolled in full-time daycare (for M and A) and preschool (K, at the school where I worked and the boys attended) and settled into life as a family of 7…as much as you can settle into that when your family expands rapidly! The girls were precious, sweet little babies and the boys were elated with having little sisters, especially the baby! They loved doing anything it took to get her to giggle. One thing we didn’t expect was how dependent the girls would be on us to entertain them. Presumably from their home of origin, they had not been taught to play independently, so that was a challenge. They came with a truckload of toys, but they would play with none of them. And the baby was hell on wheels when allowed to roam freely – we quickly borrowed a Pack ‘n Play from a friend and taught her how to enjoy herself with toys in her own space.
What happened next with the placement comes after a few other developments…
Around the time we were saying goodbye to Firefly, my husband and I had many conversations about “starting over” with a new baby. Honestly, we thought we were done with newborns and diapers, but as we discovered with baby M, it wasn’t the end of the world to go back to diapering. I had nearly given up dropping hints to Brandon about another baby when he out of the blue said “You know what? Let’s do this.” I mean we discussed it a little more than that, but over the course of about 2-3 months, we decided to go for it!
So we did!
By the end of March, we had a little secret to keep from the world for a few weeks! As expected, with 5 kids already at home, I didn’t have much time to dwell on this major life-changing thing nor did I get much sympathy for my exhaustion and morning sickness. And boy was it bad this time around!
Around 9.5 weeks, I had some bleeding and cramping, which caused my first OB appointment to be something other than the joyful confirmation I expected. A rude nurse and a no-nonsense midwife instructed me to pee in a cup (“Yep, you’re knocked up.” “No kidding.”) and then head down to the lab for blood work. We were told that it didn’t look promising, but come back for more blood work in 2 days to make sure those HCG levels are going up as they should.
We spent that weekend praying for our little babe in the making but understanding that a miscarriage was indeed likely. We made the decision to tell the boys about the pregnancy but also tell them that it was possible that something could be wrong with the baby and what that would mean. We felt they could handle this information and that it was important to share with them in this whole process. At this point we had only told our parents and best friends.
On Monday, we got the news from the OB practice that my HCG levels had indeed dropped and scheduled an appointment for the next day to discuss our “options.” Options. That’s a word that sounds nice in theory – “Look at all the ways this could go! There are so many outcomes!” – but really when you hear it in this context, your mind knows that the options you have are limited at best, heartbreaking at worst.
I spent Monday evening in tears, curled up in a ball on our bed. We wanted this baby to live and be healthy. Sure, we are realists. We understand how biology works and how many things can cause fetal demise in early pregnancy. But this was our baby!
Tuesday morning of the appointment, Brandon went with me and tried to calm my nerves by cracking jokes, which was extremely helpful. We were greeted by the same nurse who was rude to me the previous week for the preliminaries and then the same midwife came in to review the options. I had been advised by friends to take the more invasive, but quicker option, as it would allow me to heal physically and emotionally, since I had a job and 5 kids to tend to. In a bit of a fog, we determined that the surgery would be our preferred option, so the midwife said she would have the scheduler call me to set up the appointment.
“…Are you going to do an ultrasound, just to make sure I’ve miscarried?”
It seems like a pretty simple question, but apparently it was a surprising one to the midwife. “Well, we have your lab results, plus last week’s ultrasound. That all indicates that the pregnancy is terminating.”
“…You haven’t done an ultrasound. I don’t know whose uterus you’re looking at, but it’s not mine!” She quickly went out to her desk and verified this (I definitely rolled my eyes as she left the room.), then ushered us down the hall to the ultrasound room. “I know it’s probably a miscarriage happening, but it seems pretty important to check and make sure,” I said as we walked down the hallway.
In what felt like hours but must have been only minutes, we waited for the image to appear on screen. I told myself I shouldn’t look, that it would be too tragic, but as soon as a familiar-looking black and white blob appeared on the TV monitor out of the corner of my eye, I couldn’t look away. It was moving! Wiggling around! The ultrasound technician flipped a switch and we heard the most wonderful sound of our little babe’s heartbeat!
Brandon says he started crying then because he assumed this meant that even though our baby looked perfect to us, something was still terribly wrong with the pregnancy and the surgery would still go on as scheduled. He was quickly reassured by the technician – “Your baby looks perfect!” “Everything is fine!” “There is nothing wrong with your baby or this pregnancy.”
To me, this was just confirmation of what I knew in my heart. My baby WAS fine. My baby IS fine.
The next hour or so was a blur. The (rude) nurse led us back into the exam room as she looked at the notes in the file. She stared at the file for a few moments, then looked up and said “…I thought they said you had a miscarriage!” “…Surprise?” 🙂 Our midwife then again confirmed that she had no concerns about the baby or pregnancy. She couldn’t explain the HCG readings. She said “I’ve never seen anyone’s levels drop that low and have an ultrasound that perfect.” She did prescribe a progesterone supplement for the rest of the first trimester because mine was borderline-low, but ended with a congratulations and an order for an appointment in 4 weeks.
Happy phone calls were made. Doughnuts were purchased and consumed. We told the boys the happy news but told them they had to wait just a few more days to share it with other people. We had a surprise announcement to make on Mother’s Day, which looked like this:
Coming up in Part 2 of my update: Big Changes, Gender Reveal, and Celebrations