Becoming Thankful

Our summer was magic. I wasn’t ready for it to end. For many reasons it was a new beginning for us. We have started a new era as a family. We are done with baby gear, for one. I’ve kept a stroller for long walks and a booster seat, just in case, but all things baby related are out of the house. Essential oils have played a major role in the peace and awareness that is in our family now. We have a new, calmer normal. Sofie’s behaviours have been curbed and her abilities have sky rocketed. We are all functioning as better versions of ourselves. We are feeling how we want to feel. We are leaning into the emotions more. Becoming who we want to be.

Myself, in particular, has been changing. I’m on an interesting journey right now. Jon actually worded it beautifully. He said “you’re just letting more people see the real you.” (He’s generally not the most romantic, so this made me swoon.) My wall is coming down. I actually texted one of my good friends, after I started noticing people approaching me more, that it was scary! I’m still not sure how I completely feel about all this connecting. I like my protective wall! It’s easier. I’ve never been someone who is very approachable. My wall has served me well!

I’m realizing what being vulnerable really means. I thought authenticity and vulnerability were more similar than they actually are. I thought, in order to be authentic I was already vulnerable because I felt like I was laying myself out there already. I used authenticity as a way to challenge people to judge me and keep people at bay. It worked. In turn, I felt justified to judge them. Authenticity is something that I truly value. Part of my core beliefs. I didn’t fully understand it though. I’m embracing my journey of becoming through vulnerability. I’m realizing, in order to truly be authentic, I have to be vulnerable. It’s an easier choice to make now that I understand it.

With vulnerability and real authenticity working so well together, now comes true gratitude. I’m feeling real gratitude now. Living it. Giving voice to it…

On this Canadian Thanksgiving Weekend, I’m thankful for a lot. Here is me giving voice to it. I’m thankful for:

  • My compassionate, thoughtful, insightful, balancing husband. He’s a ridiculously incredible, capable father and we do life so well together.
  • My Livi. Her heart is pure gold. She is compassionate, kind, emotionally wise beyond her years and gentle. She is quite possibly the best big sister I’ve ever met and I don’t know what I did to deserve such a precious, sensitive soul in my life. I love her goofiness and willingness to help anyone.
  • My Sofie. She is my brave, warrior princess who could survive anything! I am always astounded at her ability to overcome on a daily basis. I love her dance moves, joy and empathy.
  • My Evelyn. This kid has enough passion in her to fill a stadium. She is my experiential learner and as scary as that is for me it really is so very beautiful. She is independent and keeps trying even when its hard. I love her humour and how she says “well….” before answering a question.
  • Livi’s grade 2 teacher, Mrs. N. Livi has come home every day since school started with wonderful stories about how much she loves grade 2! Her favourite subject is now writing, which was her least favourite last year! She told me she LOVES Mrs. N! One of the most beautiful things I’ve heard is that they end each day going around thanking a classmate for something! I feel like this might be a magic year for Livi.
  • Sofie’s EA, Mrs. I. This is her 3rd year with Sofie and I think this is the best year yet! She is thoughtful, kind and patient. She loves Sofie and Sofie loves her!
  • For Sofie’s ENT and Anesthesiologist during her tonsil and adenoid surgery last week. Here is the full story..

When Sofie had tubes put in over a year ago she was already stirring before we were in the recovery room. She metabolizes anesthetic and freezing very fast. She woke up in a sterile environment, in a bed with bars, with nurses caring for her and no mommy and daddy… just like in the orphanage. She screamed and thrashed and fought and raged for 3 hours, until Jon and I decided to just take her home and hope that calmed her down. The nurses didn’t know what to do for her anyway. The second we stepped outside of the doors of the hospital she started to calm down.

I was TERRIFIED we would have a repeat experience and didn’t have the option of going home this time, since we were planning to stay at least one night. I asked, begged, pleaded with anyone who would listen that we be let in the recovery the second she is there too. My doctor listened and heard me and know I wasn’t crazy but said he didn’t have the control once the surgery was over. I teared up imploring the anesthesiologist student who was the first one I felt really listened and understood. She brought out the head anesthesiologist who cam up with a plan to get us in recovery asap and try a bit of a different med cocktail. I was thankful but still very anxious.

Then the most cathartic, beautiful, respectful gift was given to us… the doctor came out to update us that everything went fine and brought me back in to the operating room while she was still intubated. Walking in, I knew this was an honour. I knew not all parents could handle seeing their child like this… blood still being cleaned up and a tube breathing for them. I knew that our ENT had talked with the anesthesiologist and told him our concerns where not false and I was not a helicopter parent. I knew the anesthesiologist was the one in charge and allowing me to be there in this moment.

They say people don’t remember what happens that early from waking up but I know Sofie could feel my presence and was comforted. She started to stir with the tube still in her throat and bolted to a sitting position, not uncommon for this med cocktail, I was told. Blood spilled out while they removed the tube and she leaned in to me, not the nurse, as we were on either side of her. I fully believe she felt my energy even if she wasn’t conscious of it.

I was allowed to carry her from the operating room to recovery. This is where it all hit me. She was waking up. She wasn’t crying. She felt safe. I was so honoured and respected by the operating staff at Children’s hospital.  Sofie was in my arms and the team was walking with me down the hall. It was cleansing for both of us, from the trauma we experienced last time. Tears of thankfulness were welling in my eyes and I still don’t think I adequately expressed how grateful I was through my awe.

And through it all… Sofie didn’t cry. Not once. Just shows how attachment is SO vital in so many areas of life.

  • For my family and their ability to always make me feel loved! One sister brings me tea and baking often and makes herself available for errands when I need. My other sister helps with childcare as often as she can. My mom is beyond incredible and helps with everything. She taught me how to be a mom and even had a pot of delicious vegetable soup for our dinner the night we came home from the hospital.
  • For the friends who have been part of my journey this summer. It’s been pretty rad and they have been my sounding boards, my supporters and my challengers.
  • For tea. Need I say more?
  • For a beautiful house, in a beautiful city, in the most beautiful province in the most beautiful country.
  • For essential oils that help facilitate positive mental health and good physical health!
  • For courage and creativity and communication and strength and vulnerability and authenticity and for becoming.
  • For my journey. I don’t know why now is the time… but I’m thankful. I’m excited. I’m scared. And I think I’m ready.

Pee Hills Pt. 2

More on those life changing pee hills I mentioned in my last post.

Photoshopped because not enough room for the writing … but you get the idea.

Just to make our life a little more interesting, right in the middle of our two days of house buying and selling we had our biggest “pee hill”. We found out we are pregnant.

Yup. Unexpectedly, blessedly, terrifyingly pregnant.

We had no idea. We were actively trying not to get pregnant. We weren’t even sure we wanted to be pregnant again. We knew we wanted another child, we just didn’t know how we wanted that child to come to us. Adopting from the foster system had been swimming around in our heads. I guess it was decided for us!

Although this has been quite the shock and I was having a hard few days with the idea, I am taking comfort in the fact that this really does feel meant to be and God-lead. Sunday we made an accepted offer and listed our house. Monday we found out we were pregnant and Tuesday we sold our house. I’m sure Jon would not have made an offer on the house if he knew we were pregnant.

The only reason we found out on the Monday was because I was sick with a sinus infection and went to the clinic for some antibiotics. I knew I was one day late and I hadn’t had any of the usual pre-menstrual spotting but I figured it was because of the stress and excitement of finding and buying a new house. I thought I’d just be extra responsible and get a quick test before the doctor put me on antibiotics, just to be safe.

As I walked in to the exam room I saw “PT poss” on the paper the nurse had hung on the door. It didn’t register with me at all. I remember thinking that was a weird short hand to say I wasn’t pregnant. I was in a bit of denial I think. Then BAM. The nurse says “yes, your pregnant”. I started hyperventilating and the nurse stared at me terrified she’d done something wrong. She thought I was expecting a yes and that I was a bright, fast yes on the test. I reassured her that it was a good thing but that I just wasn’t expecting it.

My head was swimming. I just sat in the room for a few minutes mumbling “holy shit” over and over.

While waiting for my meds I grabbed a Congrats card for the Daddy to be. I quickly wrote a silly note about  Jon getting to be snipped sooner than we thought. He actually took a full 60 seconds to register the card was talking about him. We are both shocked and still processing it but we are getting excited now.

So, knowing my conception date, I’m 7 weeks pregnant. I was only on day 4 of my cycle when I got pregnant! I still had my period that morning. I ovulated two weeks early. We had been using this rhythm method with “capping” it for birth control for 6 years. I am very regular… or at least was… and we thought we had this whole birth control thing in the bag. Apparently, your body changes as you get closer to 30 though! Oops. I’m  only 5 weeks pregnant based on my last period but I know when we conceived. Not sure if we are going to do a dating ultrasound or not. I doubt it. Either way I figure I’m due around Christmas.

I still have mixed feelings. Of course I am so excited to be blessed to bring new life in to this world again. I can’t wait to feel baby kick inside me and see who he or she grows to become, but I feel guilty. So many children have already been born and need a family. This world is so over populated already. And then there is Sofie. She still needs me.  She still needs to be carried, sleeps in the crib, fights me and tantrums. How is a new baby going to affect her still present need to be constantly reassured. She is not ready to share me yet.

I’m scared too for the health of this baby. Because the possibility of being pregnant was so far out of my mind, I was not watching what I ate, drank or did. We made a retaining wall this month and I moved big heavy allan blocks. I had sashimi twice around 5.5 weeks pregnant. I wasn’t on a prenatal vitamin until this week. I even had a Bailey’s paralyzer almost every night for about 2 weeks in there. If you know anything about how I mix drinks you know I don’t cheap out on the alcohol. It is out of my control now and I need to let go. God knows what He is doing. I’m trying to trust Him to keep my baby safe.

I’ve cried tears of anger and confusion, fear and resentment but I think that is all ending now. Joy and excitement are creeping in and I’m looking forward to hearing this ones heart beat in the next few weeks. I’m feeling like we are where we are supposed to be in God’s hopes for us even though I don’t understand it. This baby is meant to be here and he is going to be something amazing in my life.

I am so blessed.

Sofie’s Blessing

Today we celebrated the end to our adoption journey and the beginning of our newest parenting journey. My sisters helped throw Sofie a Welcome Home party! Around 40-50 of our closest family and friends were able to join us. It meant so much to us that everyone made such an effort to come out and meet Sofie. Sofie did really well with all the people there. She started getting fussy about 2 hours in but calmed right down when I took her inside for a break.

During the party we took a little time to incorporate Sofie’s Blessing in. If you were reading my old blog when Livi was a baby you’ll already know what this is. If not, I’ll recap for you….

We have decided to do Blessings for our children instead of the typical Evangelical child dedications or the Orthodox baptisms. For Jon and I, being raised Evangelical, we both never really liked dedications. I couldn’t wrap my mind around how I could dedicate a child to God who was already so completely and obviously of God and from God already. It didn’t sit well with me. I also don’t love the idea of having a dedication in a large church setting with people there who are not in your close community. In Evangelical dedication services that I’ve been too, they always have a part where the church affirms they will support the parents and hold them accountable to rear their child in a Godly manner. I’m sorry, that is just opening up a whole can of worms that I have issues with. Most of the church goers, in my experience, are not going to actually support the parents, so why vow to? If anyone who is not in my close community comes and tells me I am not raising my kids right or in accordance with their ideas of Godly rearing, there is going to be some very pointed and harsh words spoken. It is not their place. As for a baptism, this was more my issue. I just can’t get totally on board with the theology behind an infant baptism, though I have no problem with other people choosing this.

A Blessing, for us, is a much better choice. We invite our friends and family, who we know are in our community who do and will support us. Because we have not really had any special bond with our church pastors, we have our closest friends do the blessings. This is also in part because when we did the Blessing for Livi as a baby, Jon’s dad had just died and he would have done it for us. So, we needed our close friends involved to help fill that void. We chose to have the blessings in three parts. Blessing the Child, Blessing the Parents, and the Pastoral Blessing for the whole family. It is such a special and unique experience for us that seems to be catching on with our friends too!

Geoff was Jon’s room mate all through college, best men at each others weddings, and have remained ‘hetero-life mates’. He is also our most “pastoral/religious” friend so he was the obvious choice for the Pastoral Blessing. He opened up the ceremony and closed it with some words of affirmation and a prayer.

Brent was also one of Jon’s room mates in college and we have remained good friends through out the years. Jon and Brent both met their wives in their college years and Mary and I have become good friends too! They are so good to us and help push us out of our comfort zones, which Jon and I need every once in a while. We asked them to do the Blessing for the Child. Mary made a beautiful quilt for Sofie as part of the blessing that will be treasured. Brent also read a poem to go with it.

Patchwork Quilt
This family is like a patchwork quilt
With kindness gently sewn
Each piece is an original
With beauty of its own
With threads of warmth and happiness
It’s tightly stitched together
To last in love throughout the years
This family is forever.
– Unknown Author

Ben was another roommate of Jon’s in college and the same as Brent, met his wife in his college years. All 6 of us have remained quite close through these last 10 years. Ben and Danielle became parents just a few months before we did, both times! So, they were the obvious choice to do the Blessing for the Parents 🙂 Ben gave some words of wisdom and Danielle read a poem as well as gave some rocks with significant words of blessing written on them. The words were Space, Rest, Breathe, Release, and Gentleness. I’ve needed each of these things in the past few weeks and I’m sure in the coming years!

The Way
It is in spaciousness
That we breathe
Find stillness to rest in
Allowing what is
To be
Letting go of expectations
And embracing gentleness
As the way to truly heal
Opening and softening
We become
This is how we unlearn our way back to God.
– Lisa A McCrohan

All in all it was a fun party! My sister made a super amazing ladybug cake. She’s been taking some cake decorating lessons and getting really good at it! The weather was amazing and we had the kid’s pool out. I don’t know what we would have done if it had rained. We felt so blessed by all the love and support we received from people. We truly are one lucky family. My only regret was that I didn’t get to talk with everyone. I said goodbye to some people before I said hello to them. It is very different visiting when I have to attend to two little ones who need my constant attention and get in to everything!

Life is definitely full right now. Exciting, challenging, adventurous, difficult, joyful, fun, and frustrating all wrapped up together. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I love my life, my husband, my girls, my family, and my friends 🙂

Livi got a few gifts at the Blessing too. 
This apron was from her Uncle Tony and Aunt Lisa. 
They searched high and low for this gift and it was much appreciated by Livi!