Nothing in It for Me

Death_to_stock_photography_Vibrant (9 of 10)

I’m a feely person. I am 100% an external processor, it is difficult for me to “let things go” (how does one even just “let something go?”), and hormones are sooooo not my friend. SO this whole raising a baby-turned-toddler/adoption/growing another baby/adoption again thing has really taken a toll on my emotional state.

People say a lot of things about me. Lately, most of those things have been positive. “You guys are just so awesome.” “I’m so thankful for your calling.” “I don’t know how you do it, but God is really blessing you guys.” “She is a super-mom.” This is all very flattering, but do you want to know how I feel? I feel like a piece of crap. I feel like a selfish, whiny, brat of a person and I wish I could feel a lot stronger. 

The truth is that I am not a strong person, and for the first time in my life I can say that I can’t do this alone. That’s not to say that I could before, but I think God has been stringing me along for my entire life letting me think that I had it so hard and that I was handling everything so nicely, only to teach me a lesson that I apparently badly needed to learn, and with nothing short of grandeur. This lesson has come in loud and clear from the Big Guy. Are you ready?

“This isn’t about you, Alex.”

Ugh. Ouch.

You see, I didn’t even know it, but all of this excitement and pushing forward and all of the things that kept me (and both of us) going through this process was all about how it made me feel. It made me feel like a baller who was just doing the Lord’s work with grace and ease. Then reality hit me like a ton of bricks and it hurt. Badly. Having a teenager is hard. Teenage boys are gross and bonding with one in a maternal way isn’t as natural as I thought it would be. It often feels like all I am getting out of this is more laundry and less food. This is real-talk, you guys. THIS CRAP IS HARD. I don’t really know how to eloquently put it. Throw in a new baby with his own set of health problems and who cries all of the time, and my eyes have only one setting now: crazy.

This reality set in on day one. I sat in my closet alone on move-in day and realized that this didn’t feel as good as I thought it would. I asked God what was wrong. How could something I was so excited about not feel all that exciting after all? Every time I have asked Him that question, which is all the time, His answer has come in loud and clear (which for me is a rare occasion. As you may remember, I am not a sweet whispers from God kind of person. I am a kick-in-the-pants kind of person for dang sure.):

“This is still My plan, even if there’s nothing in it for you.”

So this is not necessarily a sweet blog post in which the lesson or message can be wrapped up neatly with a bow. This crap is still hard. I am not nearly refined enough to take that message from God and allow peace to fall upon me or something. I am getting by a day at a time with the help of those closest to me (including God), and lots of crying and chocolate. I am a firm believer in the power of a good cry. My husband, on the other hand, wishes I would learn another coping mechanism that doesn’t stress him out quite as much. FAT CHANCE DUDE.

PS: Please don’t think I have gone off of the rails and am against foster-care and adoption now. That is the opposite of the truth. I am still 100% in and think that (most of) you should be too. Please still ask me questions about all of that, you can just trust that my answers will be raw and real and honest, which is really better, right?

Love, Alex

Crying in the Ultrasound Room

See my dress color? Yeah. It took me a while to get to that thumbs up.

See my dress color? Yeah. It took me a while to get to that thumbs up.

Now I’m sure some of you thought that title may have corresponded to precious, loving feelings of seeing my baby and finding out its sex. I think I’ve made it clear that I am not precious, and while I do cry a lot, talking about the amazing feelings of seeing your baby are awesome, yes, but also not unique banter for a blog. What I’m getting at is that I cried hot, sad, guilty tears that day. And before you come at me with pitchforks and torches shouting about how I’m ungrateful and unloving, hear me out. Especially because I think I’m probably not alone in this.

It most likely won’t come as much of a shock since the majority of women hope for a girl during pregnancy, but *shocker* I wanted a girl.

I had my reasons. Everyone in my larger church community seemingly had lotsandLotsandLOTS of boys and I wanted a different experience than them. We have girl dogs (ahem, children) and though it might sound silly, watching Bryan with them and knowing the type of man he is, I just wanted to see him with a daughter so badly. There are petty reasons, like the fact that girl clothes are 1000 times cuter than boy clothes, (<–fact) and also bigger reasons like the one I have to pull the vague-card on again (I really do promise to share soon).

Regardless of all the things, Bryan and I were both standing squarely on the girl-train.

In my increasing nervousness as the big day approached, I did some research on gender disappointment and found that it is an actual clinical issue that many women deal with. This should have made me feel better right? “No!” said my brain, “That would be much too logical!”

I was just so afraid of being disappointed to find out it was a boy and then feeling guilty about being disappointed like a vicious circle. I talked to a few people about it, most of whom understood, some of whom did not (Thanks guys!). It didn’t help to hear friends and family refer to the baby as a “him” before we even found out though, because as ridiculous as this sounds, I knew their happiness at guessing correctly would make it harder for me to pretend to be excited.

On July 24, we got up and headed to the clinic with a belly full of baby and butterflies. We were called into the ultrasound room first. Just like that. No doctor visit barrier. I think the tech was a little weirded out at ALL THE QUESTIONS. “Already? Are you sure? Like this? Right here? Uhh, so do you have kids? What’s the worst reaction you’ve ever seen of someone finding out the gender?” (You guys…) She told me that none were really too bad.

Awesome.

So we’re all chit-chatty and “Oh my gosh that’s our baby!” for the first few minutes. Then. She waves past the evidence quickly, but we had already seen. “Ok, are you ready to know what it is?! It’s a boy!”

Silence.

I had such mixed emotions at that moment. Here I have a perfect, healthy baby BOY and all I can think about it my disappointment–>guilt for being disappointed–>but…BABY GIRL CLOTHES–>our baby is healthy!–>disappointment–>OMG HE’S SUCKING HIS THUMB–>well they do say boys are easier and now I’m off the hook for the birds and the bees talk–>disappointment. (<– vicious cycle. I know you appreciate me spelling it out for you because it’s not obvious or anything really.)

I cried. Like, so much that multiple tissues were needed. It was embarrassing and I hated myself for it.

All of the articles I had read about gender disappointment talked about how, much like when you take a pregnancy test that is negative and mourn the loss of a baby that never was, you mourn the loss of the baby girl or boy that never was.

I got it. Sitting in the waiting room accepting the fact that we wouldn’t be having a girl before having to fake excitement for the doctor was hard for both of us. Not to mention the fact that we had this family reveal dinner in the works for that very night that I had to polish my acting skills for.

gender reveal 1

Oh hey guys!

I got to work that morning and immediately started messing with our Amazon baby registry as a coping mechenism, hoping to distract myself with cute and shiny. It was overwhelming enough trying to pick out so much stuff with all of the reviews and safety reports and options and opinions to consider. What made it harder was that BOY STUFF IS JUST NOT AS CUTE AS GIRL STUFF. Plus, as it turns out, I’m super picky about the boy crap I actually do like. I’m so much fun, no really.

See?

See? So much fun. (Ugh so grainy. Sorry guys, It was dark in there!)

Oh, and I had to call the bakery to tell them what color to use to fill the cupcakes and I’m sure the poor girl at Rick’s just thought I was a heartless weirdo.

“Hey, just calling to tell you the filling color..it’s blue *small amount of forced excitement*”

“Oh a boy! Yay!”

“…yep. Ok thank you *more forced exctiement*.”

I mean…

How awesome are those though? Not-at-all-humble brag: the catchphrase was completely my idea and not a product of Pinterest at all.

How awesome are those though? Not-at-all-humble brag: the catchphrase was completely my idea and not a product of Pinterest at all. (Again with the grainy. I tried with the editing, I really did.)

We took our announcement photo to post after the reveal dinner, which we made it through and I didn’t cry at all. Small victory! It was actually a lot of fun to watch everyone bite into (or the smart ones use a knife to cut) the cupcakes and cheer at the filling color (which they would have done for either one of course).

See how genuine my smile is? ACTING.

See how genuine my smile is? ACTING.

The next morning, I talked to my mom and apologized for being a giant brat crabby the night before. She said she knew I was disappointed and completely understood. AND THEN (this is the “wait it gets getter” part) she said possibly the most profound thing ever. Work with me here because apparently I’m even more selfish and dense than I ever thought.

She told me that as much as having a little girl would have been wonderful and sweet and awesome,God obviously has a plan for our son, and that plan is much better than anything we could have dreamt up for our baby girl.

Ouch.

I realized that I had been thinking of this only from the standpoint of me having a baby/child/teenager. I was forgetting that there was a lot more living for him to do after the “raising him” part was over. And I think that kind of rocks.

A few minutes later my dad called me.

Let me pause here and explain something, because what I’m about to say will have much more meaning once I do. My dad and I are like, the same person.  Seriously. Both stubborn  as mules, both feel the need to constantly be right, and both tell it like it is and have to work hard on the encouraging words. So while my dad has lots of amazing qualities, the pretty words aren’t normally one of them. This is how I know God was (more gently than usual in my case) sending me the words my heart needed.

He told me that he knew I was hoping for a girl, but he thought I should know that I was going to make the best boy mom. He said that watching me with Grant and Guy (the sons of both of our mentors and who we watch when they are out of town), he could tell that I was going to be great and natural at this parenting thing. (<–HAHA)

Cue the tears. Seriously, y’all. This is when the good times started for me. I still had set-backs, like on vacation when all I saw were adorable, clean, well-dressed little girls and mangy, screaming, fit-thowing little boys. Hold me. But I got to go shopping at the outlet malls with the world’s best and most patient mom because for real, I AM SO PICKY, and I got some freaking adorable stuff for Grady.

That’s his name, Grady. OMG my child has a name. And OMG I’m over halfway there. And OMG I’m someone’s mom.

Crazy Eyes.

 

I've told you about my husband's obsession with bears, yes? Imagine my excitement to find this. I mean really.

I’ve told you about my husband’s obsession with bears, yes? Imagine my excitement to find this. I mean really.

My child is already swimming in threads thanks hugely to my wonderful and generous parents. Can you tell which piece is the favorite?

My child is already swimming in threads thanks hugely to my wonderful and generous parents. Can you tell which piece is the favorite?

Love, Alex

PS: For what it’s worth, here is the link for our ultrasound video. Not that I expect anyone to go watch it. I completely understand that what is wonderful and exciting for proud parents is just soooo boring for others. 🙂