Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Infertility Etiquette

This week is National Infertility Awareness Week!

I read a good article (reposted below) about Infertility Etiquette. I've heard all the usuals from people: "All you need to do is relax"..."Once you adopt, you'll get pregnant"..."Are you sure you want to deal with the responsibility of being a parent?"..."Just enjoy all the free time you have now"...etc.etc.etc. I guess many people just don't know how to respond to someone who's infertile, so they try to fix it or make it not seem like a big deal. Who knows.

Actually, none of those types of comments bother me much. I think I get offended more about "Why don't you have kids?" from people I've just met. Or the intrusive ones like "Are you sure you're having sex when you're ovulating?" Ummm, OMG - I probably know more about ovulation in general and my own ovulation (and how sometimes it just doesn't happen at all!) than they do! And how am I really supposed to answer that question? Should I tell them exactly how many times and when I'm having sex? I don't get it.

Anyways, read the article! It's good. And educational! :)

Infertility Etiquette
by Vita Alligood as posted on RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association

Chances are, you know someone who is struggling with infertility. More than seven million people of childbearing age in the United States experience infertility. Yet, as a society, we are woefully uninformed about how to best provide emotional support for our loved ones during this painful time.

Infertility is, indeed, a very painful struggle. The pain is similar to the grief over losing a loved one, but it is unique because it is a recurring grief. When a loved one dies, he isn't coming back. There is no hope that he will come back from the dead. You must work through the stages of grief, accept that you will never see this person again, and move on with your life.

The grief of infertility is not so cut and dry. Infertile people grieve the loss of the baby that they may never know. They grieve the loss of that baby who would have had mommy's nose and daddy's eyes. But, each month, there is the hope that maybe that baby will be conceived after all. No matter how hard they try to prepare themselves for bad news, they still hope that this month will be different. Then, the bad news comes again, and the grief washes over the infertile couple anew. This process happens month after month, year after year. It is like having a deep cut that keeps getting opened right when it starts to heal.

As the couple moves into infertility treatments, the pain increases while the bank account depletes. The tests are invasive and embarrassing to both parties, and you feel like the doctor has taken over your bedroom. And for all of this discomfort, you pay a lot of money.

A couple will eventually resolve the infertility problem in one of three ways:

* They will eventually conceive a baby.
* They will stop the infertility treatments and choose to live without children.
* They will find an alternative way to parent, such as by adopting a child or becoming a foster parent.

Reaching a resolution can take years, so your infertile loved ones need your emotional support during this journey. Most people don't know what to say, so they wind up saying the wrong thing, which only makes the journey so much harder for their loved ones. Knowing what not to say is half of the battle to providing support.

Don't Tell Them to Relax

Everyone knows someone who had trouble conceiving but then finally became pregnant once she "relaxed." Couples who are able to conceive after a few months of "relaxing" are not infertile. By definition, a couple is not diagnosed as "infertile" until they have tried unsuccessfully to become pregnant for a full year. In fact, most infertility specialists will not treat a couple for infertility until they have tried to become pregnant for a year. This year weeds out the people who aren't infertile but just need to "relax." Those that remain are truly infertile.

Comments such as "just relax" or "try going on a cruise" create even more stress for the infertile couple, particularly the woman. The woman feels like she is doing something wrong when, in fact, there is a good chance that there is a physical problem preventing her from becoming pregnant.

These comments can also reach the point of absurdity. As a couple, my husband and I underwent two surgeries, numerous inseminations, hormone treatments, and four years of poking and prodding by doctors. Yet, people still continued to say things like, "If you just relaxed on a cruise . . ." Infertility is a diagnosable medical problem that must be treated by a doctor, and even with treatment, many couples will NEVER successfully conceive a child. Relaxation itself does not cure medical infertility.

Don't Minimize the Problem

Failure to conceive a baby is a very painful journey. Infertile couples are surrounded by families with children. These couples watch their friends give birth to two or three children, and they watch those children grow while the couple goes home to the silence of an empty house. These couples see all of the joy that a child brings into someone's life, and they feel the emptiness of not being able to experience the same joy.

Comments like, "Just enjoy being able to sleep late . . . .travel . . etc.," do not offer comfort. Instead, these comments make infertile people feel like you are minimizing their pain. You wouldn't tell somebody whose parent just died to be thankful that he no longer has to buy Father's Day or Mother's Day cards. Losing that one obligation doesn't even begin to compensate for the incredible loss of losing a parent. In the same vein, being able to sleep late or travel does not provide comfort to somebody who desperately wants a child.

Don't Say There Are Worse Things That Could Happen

Along the same lines, don't tell your friend that there are worse things that she could be going through. Who is the final authority on what is the "worst" thing that could happen to someone? Is it going through a divorce? Watching a loved one die? Getting raped? Losing a job?

Different people react to different life experiences in different ways. To someone who has trained his whole life for the Olympics, the "worst" thing might be experiencing an injury the week before the event. To someone who has walked away from her career to become a stay-at-home wife for 40 years, watching her husband leave her for a younger woman might be the "worst" thing. And, to a woman whose sole goal in life has been to love and nurture a child, infertility may indeed be the "worst" thing that could happen.

People wouldn't dream of telling someone whose parent just died, "It could be worse: both of your parents could be dead." Such a comment would be considered cruel rather than comforting. In the same vein, don't tell your friend that she could be going through worse things than infertility.

Don't Say They Aren't Meant to Be Parents

One of the cruelest things anyone ever said to me is, "Maybe God doesn't intend for you to be a mother." How incredibly insensitive to imply that I would be such a bad mother that God felt the need to divinely sterilize me. If God were in the business of divinely sterilizing women, don't you think he would prevent the pregnancies that end in abortions? Or wouldn't he sterilize the women who wind up neglecting and abusing their children? Even if you aren't religious, the "maybe it's not meant to be" comments are not comforting. Infertility is a medical condition, not a punishment from God or Mother Nature.

Don't Ask Why They Aren't Trying IVF

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a method in which the woman harvests multiple eggs, which are then combined with the man's sperm in a petri dish. This is the method that can produce multiple births. People frequently ask, "Why don't you just try IVF?" in the same casual tone they would use to ask, "Why don't you try shopping at another store?"

Don't Be Crude

It is appalling that I even have to include this paragraph, but some of you need to hear this-Don't make crude jokes about your friend's vulnerable position. Crude comments like "I'll donate the sperm" or "Make sure the doctor uses your sperm for the insemination" are not funny, and they only irritate your friends.

Don't Complain About Your Pregnancy

This message is for pregnant women-Just being around you is painful for your infertile friends. Seeing your belly grow is a constant reminder of what your infertile friend cannot have. Unless an infertile women plans to spend her life in a cave, she has to find a way to interact with pregnant women. However, there are things you can do as her friend to make it easier.

The number one rule is DON'T COMPLAIN ABOUT YOUR PREGNANCY. I understand from my friends that, when you are pregnant, your hormones are going crazy and you experience a lot of discomfort, such as queasiness, stretch marks, and fatigue. You have every right to vent about the discomforts to any one else in your life, but don't put your infertile friend in the position of comforting you.

Your infertile friend would give anything to experience the discomforts you are enduring because those discomforts come from a baby growing inside of you. When I heard a pregnant woman complain about morning sickness, I would think, "I'd gladly throw up for nine straight months if it meant I could have a baby." When a pregnant woman would complain about her weight gain, I would think, "I would cut off my arm if I could be in your shoes."

I managed to go to baby showers and hospitals to welcome my friends' new babies, but it was hard. Without exception, it was hard. Stay sensitive to your infertile friend's emotions, and give her the leeway that she needs to be happy for you while she cries for herself. If she can't bring herself to hold your new baby, give her time. She isn't rejecting you or your new baby; she is just trying to work her way through her pain to show sincere joy for you. The fact that she is willing to endure such pain in order to celebrate your new baby with you speaks volumes about how much your friendship means to her.

Don't Treat Them Like They Are Ignorant

For some reason, some people seem to think that infertility causes a person to become unrealistic about the responsibilities of parenthood. I don't follow the logic, but several people told me that I wouldn't ache for a baby so much if I appreciated how much responsibility was involved in parenting.

Let's face it-no one can fully appreciate the responsibilities involved in parenting until they are, themselves, parents. That is true whether you successfully conceived after one month or after 10 years. The length of time you spend waiting for that baby does not factor in to your appreciation of responsibility. If anything, people who have been trying to become pregnant longer have had more time to think about those responsibilities. They have also probably been around lots of babies as their friends started their families.

Perhaps part of what fuels this perception is that infertile couples have a longer time to "dream" about what being a parent will be like. Like every other couple, we have our fantasies-my child will sleep through the night, would never have a tantrum in public, and will always eat his vegetables. Let us have our fantasies. Those fantasies are some of the few parent-to-be perks that we have-let us have them. You can give us your knowing looks when we discover the truth later.

Don't Gossip About Your Friend's Condition

Infertility treatments are very private and embarrassing, which is why many couples choose to undergo these treatments in secret. Men especially are very sensitive to letting people know about infertility testing, such as sperm counts. Gossiping about infertility is not usually done in a malicious manner. The gossipers are usually well-meaning people who are only trying to find out more about infertility so they can help their loved ones.

Regardless of why you are sharing this information with someone else, it hurts and embarrasses your friend to find out that Madge the bank teller knows what your husband's sperm count is and when your next period is expected. Infertility is something that should be kept as private as your friend wants to keep it. Respect your friend's privacy, and don't share any information that your friend hasn't authorized.

Don't Push Adoption (Yet)

Adoption is a wonderful way for infertile people to become parents. (As an adoptive parent, I can fully vouch for this!!) However, the couple needs to work through many issues before they will be ready to make an adoption decision. Before they can make the decision to love a "stranger's baby," they must first grieve the loss of that baby with Daddy's eyes and Mommy's nose. Adoption social workers recognize the importance of the grieving process. When my husband and I went for our initial adoption interview, we expected the first question to be, "Why do you want to adopt a baby?" Instead, the question was, "Have you grieved the loss of your biological child yet?" Our social worker emphasized how important it is to shut one door before you open another.

You do, indeed, need to grieve this loss before you are ready to start the adoption process. The adoption process is very long and expensive, and it is not an easy road. So, the couple needs to be very sure that they can let go of the hope of a biological child and that they can love an adopted baby. This takes time, and some couples are never able to reach this point. If your friend cannot love a baby that isn't her "own," then adoption isn't the right decision for her, and it is certainly not what is best for the baby.

Mentioning adoption in passing can be a comfort to some couples. (The only words that ever offered me comfort were from my sister, who said, "Whether through pregnancy or adoption, you will be a mother one day.") However, "pushing" the issue can frustrate your friend. So, mention the idea in passing if it seems appropriate, and then drop it. When your friend is ready to talk about adoption, she will raise the issue herself.

So, what can you say to your infertile friends? Unless you say "I am giving you this baby," there is nothing you can say that will erase their pain. So, take that pressure off of yourself. It isn't your job to erase their pain, but there is a lot you can do to lesson the load. Here are a few ideas.

Let Them Know That You Care

The best thing you can do is let your infertile friends know that you care. Send them cards. Let them cry on your shoulder. If they are religious, let them know you are praying for them. Offer the same support you would offer a friend who has lost a loved one. Just knowing they can count on you to be there for them lightens the load and lets them know that they aren't going through this alone.

Remember Them on Mother's Day

With all of the activity on Mother's Day, people tend to forget about women who cannot become mothers. Mother's Day is an incredibly painful time for infertile women. You cannot get away from it-There are ads on the TV, posters at the stores, church sermons devoted to celebrating motherhood, and all of the plans for celebrating with your own mother and mother-in-law.

Mother's Day is an important celebration and one that I relish now that I am a mother. However, it was very painful while I was waiting for my baby. Remember your infertile friends on Mother's Day, and send them a card to let them know you are thinking of them. They will appreciate knowing that you haven't "forgotten" them.

Support Their Decision to Stop Treatments

No couple can endure infertility treatments forever. At some point, they will stop. This is an agonizing decision to make, and it involves even more grief. Even if the couple chooses to adopt a baby, they must still first grieve the loss of that baby who would have had mommy's nose and daddy's eyes.

Once the couple has made the decision to stop treatments, support their decision. Don't encourage them to try again, and don't discourage them from adopting, if that is their choice. Once the couple has reached resolution (whether to live without children, adopt a child, or become foster parents), they can finally put that chapter of their lives behind them. Don't try to open that chapter again.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Easter 2010 and General Conference

I am soooo late for an Easter post, but we had a really good Easter! I was waiting to get some pictures back from my sister-in-law, but oh well. She and I attempted making an Easter Bunny Cake that Saturday. We made two different ones using different pan sizes/shapes and different types of cake. They were so cute! As much as I love to take pictures, I still forget sometimes. This is how they were supposed to turn out:

Photo: www.bettycrocker.com

She loves to bake, so I thought she'd like that project. She did! And it was fun to do it with her. I'm glad she inspires me to be creative like that. It's something I want to be good at, but am terrible at, so I'm gonna keep working on it. I'll have to keep up that tradition on holidays. I wanted to make these Easter Chick Cupcakes too, but I didn't get around to those until yesterday. I made them for the girls in our Primary class. They loved them!

How they're supposed to look:

Photo: www.bettycrocker.com

Mine (HA HA - I tried!):

The rest of Saturday night I spent with my brother, watching boxing. As always! It was the Roy Jones, Jr. vs. Bernard Hopkins rematch that was about 15 years in the making. Good stuff.

That Sunday was Easter. I took notes watching the General Conference for the LDS Church and was so happy that Easter and General Conference landed on the same weekend this year. It makes it much easier to dedicate the day to God and spend time thinking about what Easter means. I took notes on most of the talks:

We can't measure the worthiness of other people's souls. We shouldn't judge others. We should love and support everyone around us and nurture budding testimonies.

He told a story about some members of the Church who started attending because the Church was meeting their temporal needs. Other, "more righteous" members looked down on these new members and called them "tin can Mormons." We have to remember that we're all alike unto God and He wants us all to return to Him. People's paths to God are all different and we should encourage others rather than judge them. Only He can judge.

The Atonement and the Resurrection - the events that we celebrate this Easter morning - were done to give us every opportunity to stay on the right path, even when we slip up and make mistakes. It's a way to satisfy the demands of Justice while showing Mercy to mankind in our weakness (and stupidity!).

Make your homes a spiritual place - make Jesus the center of your home. It should be a safe haven for your children. Remember that being parents is one of the greatest callings, and it's a calling that you will never be released from.

If we let our spiritual lives be affected by the trials and tribulations that we face - if we fall away from the Church because of trials - we won't just affect ourselves now, but our decisions now will affect generations after us. Our response to trials now can greatly impact where we will be, spiritually, years later. Hold tight to the Word of God, turn to God during trials rather than away from Him. He is the only one who can deliver you, give you peace, show you the way through it all. Turn to Him and let Him know your struggles - let Him share your burden. Never let an earthly circumstance disable you spiritually.

Jesus was well aware of the trials He was about to face during His final days, but He did not spend His time building up a defense or trying to find an escape. Instead, He could be found with His Apostles, teaching them to take the Sacrament in remembrance of Him. Jesus charged them to love one another. We are to follow Jesus' example and teachings - love one another, be kind, be forgiving... even when dark trials are ahead. Show love and respect even in adverse circumstances. That is how we can become like Christ. Heed His warnings. No one is exempt from the storms of this life - we will all drink from a bitter cup. Follow Jesus' example and merge your will with the Father's. Seek the protection of the temple. Adhere to the teachings of our living Prophet.

Of the realities of life, none is so certain than its end. Death comes in many different ways, but come it must. We will all wonder at some point if death is really the end. We will all face it eventually. It doesn't make sense for the intelligence and spirit of a man to disappear and cease to exist once the body dies. The Resurrection is the victory over death. If a man dies, he shall live again.

Family History work is equally blessing to the living as it is to the dead. It is our individual and collective duty to create the Family Tree of all Humankind.

Dinnertime with family nourishes the soul - not the food. Use that time as a missionary tool. The greatest missionary work can be done in our homes. Teach your children to grow their own testimony and to know the truth in their own deeply personal way. Listen to them. Really listen. Not only teach them to know, but teach them to do.

As a mother, I will need to learn to be nurturing - because when my kids are in trouble, they will turn to me for guidance. Even when they're older and out on their own, they will turn back towards their mother in hard times. I should be there to nurture, guide, and remind them of principles that I taught them in their youth.

This made me think about the difference between virtues you learn by being a mother vs. virtues that can be learned from infertility. There's a lot of similarities - love, patience, selflessness, following God's will, etc.

The question is not if we will face trials, or when we will face trials, but how we will face trials. When we are faced with hardships, we should learn to not complain but to overcome it. Instead of asking "Why me?" ask instead "What am I to do? What can I learn from this?" Change your attitude and develop a determination to succeed.

He told the story of Mary and Martha - Martha was busy running around in the kitchen and serving the guests and Mary was sitting and listening to Jesus' teachings. People misjudge Martha from this story - that she was less righteous and had a weaker testimony than Mary. People forget that Jesus shared with Martha the doctrine of resurrection during the trial of her brother's death (Lazereth). Martha had a strong testimony.

People misjudge people all the time and that's why we should leave the judging up to God. God's judgment and His will and the way He would have us live our lives is different than the natural man's judgment. The standards of morality are eternal and unchanged, while the natural man is wavering, jealous, stubborn, lazy, etc.

Apply the principles taught by the prophets, and it will lead us to better judgment. Listen to the Holy Ghost - this is vital in good judgement and can bring peace.

Nurture and teach your children about things pertaining to righteousness. Study the scriptures, pray regularly, and live the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The divine harmony of Conference talks is amazing (I thought so too - there were a lot of talks about strengthening the family and facing trials!).

Pray for miracles, have faith in miracles. Be not afraid. Speak more frequently in your homes about Jesus Christ, so that your family/children will know who He is. Tell them their favorite Jesus stories.

Study the messages in the Ensign, ponder them, and then apply them to your lives. As we look at the world around us, we know we are faced with horrible problems. Dishonesty, pornography, etc. - things that shatter dreams and forfeit blessings. Look to the lighthouse of the Lord to guide yourself through these murky waters. He lives and guides His Church on the earth.

If I don't take notes, it's hard for me to pay attention. Taking notes allows me to catch awesome quotes as well as rewrite things in my own words so that I can relate them to myself better. Here's a nice Easter video by the Church:

In between sessions, we watched The Passion of the Christ. It's like it's almost mandatory that we watch it on Easter. It's really the only day of the year we can bring ourselves to do it because it's so intense and so heart-wrenching. So, every Easter since it came out we've watched it. Here's a video with clips from the movie to the song "Lead Me to the Cross." Don't watch it if you're sensitive to this kinda thing!

After Conference, we went to a friend's family's Easter dinner. I brought one of the Easter Bunny Cakes I had made. I ATE SO MUCH. I tell ya, I love food too much. As soon as I was done eating, I found a random couch upstairs to crash on and promptly passed out. I always sleep after I eat a good meal. People were like, "Where's Alice?" Ha ha.

It was a great Easter. Lots of food, time spent with family and friends, and spiritual uplifting. I wish every day was a holiday. :)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

American Idol Season 9 Finals Week 6

 Photo: www.mjsbigblog.com

This was a sad, sad week. I don't even want to look at VoteForTheWorst.com to see their mourning over the loss of poor Teflon Tim. But it's Tim's fault that he got kicked off. He did three things wrong: 1) he didn't pick a song with the word "Love" in it, 2) he sang the song badly and forgettable, and 3) he didn't flash his signature winning smile that often during the judges' critiques. COME ON TIM! Geez. I'm super sad to see him go. He provided the last shred of entertainment in this season, so it's basically gonna suck from here on out. Tim, you will be missed.

Photo: www.unrealitytv.co.uk

I'm still rooting for Siobhan Magnus. She's my favorite. More than her singing (which scares me sometimes), I love her outfits! That's something I look forward to every week and this week she totally didn't disappoint. She had butterflies coming off her arm and everything. Awesome. Go Siobhan! This week, the judges thoroughly confused the heck out of me. Usually I can see where they're coming from, but for some reason I felt like they were saying the exact opposite of what I was thinking. With Siobhan, they hated it (except for Ellen)... and I'm like, really? I thought it was very technical and controlled and it sounded great. What are the judges smoking?

Photo: www.capecodonline.com

And then with Lee Dewyze (my favorite guy), the judges super overpraised him. They said he had "a moment" on the stage and that he was a "true artist" - I just didn't get it. I thought he chose a really weird song for his voice and it was like his voice kept cracking - it made me cringe a little bit. What is going on??? Bring sexy back next week, Lee!

I was hoping this week Michael Lynch would finally go home. He shouldn't have been saved by the judges a couple weeks back. He is BORING. It's also really hard to watch him singing when he does these weird things with his lips and he's bulging out of his clothes. Really creepy. And he sang a Nickelback song, for crying out loud. HA HA HA! It didn't fit his style at all and just sounded ridiculous. Oh, boy. I don't get it.

I never talk about Crystal Bowersox, but I really don't see how she couldn't win this thing. The talent is slim pickings this year. I miss last season! - Allison Iraheta! - Adam Lambert! - Kris Allen! - Anoop Desai! Come on, Season 9. I am so not impressed.

The best performances:
Crystal Bowersox's "People Get Ready"
Siobhan Magnus' "When You Believe"

The worst performances:
Aaron Kelly's "I Belive I Can Fly"
Michael Lynch's "Hero"

This week's American Idol in 60 Seconds with Jim Cantiello:

What If...?

Photo: www.franchisessentials.wordpress.com

I read a blog here about all the "what ifs" many women who are trying to conceive and/or adopt have go through their minds. I missed the deadline to contribute my own "what ifs" to this project, but I still wanted to get them out of my head and "down on paper," so to speak. I'm not trying to be overly negative. I'm actually in a really good mood today - it's just purely therapeutic.

I read through literally hundreds of comments to see what other women had to say first, before I came up with my own list. I love that I've found such a large, supportive community of women going through such similar experiences as me. I seriously gobble all that kind of information up! I love reading about other people's experiences for two reasons - 1) so that I don't feel alone with what I'm going through and 2) so that I can see that some people are going through a much more difficult time than I could even imagine. Either way, it encourages me and makes me feel better about my own situation.

It was really cathartic to read through everyone's "what ifs," picking out ones that fit me, and figuring out my own. I've already thought about some of these in my What Would I Be Missing? post... but there's more "what ifs" swimming around in my brain.

My "What Ifs"
  • What if I never get to be a mother, biologically or through adoption? How will I let go of all our dreams and find a new reason for living?
  • What if I never get pregnant, no matter what we try? What if we exhaust all our options and we're left childless and broke in the end? What if I can never get over the feeling that my body has failed me?
  • What if we stop TTC too early and miss the opportunity to conceive? What if one more try would have worked? What if I focus years of my life on TTC, always looking for that elusive one more try?
  • What if dealing with infertility affects the happiness of my marriage? What if our relationship starts to suffer?
  • What if I do get pregnant, but I miscarry? or have a stillborn? or have a disabled child?
  • What if I do get pregnant, but we pass on infertility to the child and they have to go through the same horrible process when they're an adult?
  • What if adoption doesn't work out like we'd hoped? What if the birth mother changes her mind at the last second, after we are deeply emotionally involved (like that episode of House)? What if the birth father wants custody after we've already bonded with the child (like in the case of baby Emma)? What if it takes years before we can finally adopt?
  • What if the birth parents don't want an open adoption and our child has issues with not knowing where he/she came from? What if our child resents being adopted when he/she is older?
  • What if we can't live up to the high expectations we have set for ourselves as parents?
There. Got it all out! Whew.

I actually don't really want to answer any of these "what ifs." That would be stressful, I think. Instead, I'll just leave them unanswered and move on.

Dreams about Babies

Since trying to add to our family is the #1 thing on my mind lately, of course I'd end up dreaming about it.

I had a dream a few nights ago...

In it, we ended up adopting a child way sooner than expected - I don't even think we had managed to do everything to get approved yet. It was almost like we were on a list and we were the next ones on the list, so they called us up to offer us a child. It didn't really make any sense, but apparently there was an extreme shortage of adoptive parents and an overload of babies, so they just handed over a little girl to us because she needed a family immediately. It didn't matter that we weren't approved yet. She was about 2 years old. I felt so unprepared! We didn't have a crib, so I laid her on the couch. For her to be 2 years old, she was much like a baby. I left her there on the couch, because I needed to  do something important in another room. I came back to see that she'd fallen off and was laying still, face down on the floor! I was terrified! This happened a few times. Each time, I was frantic trying to see if she was okay. I felt like a horrible mother! She was always fine, even though it seemed like a life or death situation every time. Then it was time to go to Church and we didn't have a stroller to push her there. I looked around to see what we could use and all of a sudden one appeared - my sister-in-law had given it to me. Everything was fine as we pushed our daughter to Church. When we got there, it was a really huge building and really dark - all the lights were off when we got inside, but the sun was shining in through the windows and everyone there was going crazy over us having a little girl. I felt like I fit in and was comfortable and happy. I kept glancing up at the sunlight shining in.

I woke up thinking it was funny that my little girl had hair that kind of looked like Afro Samurai:

Photo: www.gamestop.com

I'm always trying to interpret my dreams when I wake up.

What I took away from the dream was that I'll never really feel fully prepared to be a parent, no matter how many people I talk to or books I read or whatever. No matter how long I wait to be a parent, when the time comes - it will probably feel like it's a little too soon, like someone is just handing a baby over to us all of a sudden. I'll make mistakes as a parent, especially the first time through. And it may feel like life or death, but it won't be. I'll probably be overly protective, and worry over every little thing I "mess up" on. But even when I don't feel like I measure up as a mother, my child will turn out just fine. I'll have a support system, including my brother and sister-in-law and all their family. They'll help me when I need it (with magically appearing strollers! ha ha). And when I take my child to Church, I'll feel comfortable and know that's where I should be and that I was meant to be a mother. There's always a light at the end of the tunnel. :)

I think I put a good spin on it!

Zay's had dreams too, but he never goes into much detail when he tells me about them. He's had one where he's seen a little girl named Nevaeh who was really dark-skinned and beautiful. That was back before we really discussed adoption, so it's interesting that she was so dark-skinned - if we actually made our own biological babies, chances are they wouldn't be that dark. Sounds like foreshadowing to me! He also had another dream about a boy named Michael. Nevaeh and Michael are both names that we added to the Baby Names List a long time ago, so it was interesting to hear that he'd dreamed of what they could possibly look like.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

American Idol Season 9 Finals Week 5

 Photo: www.mjsbigblog.com

The same old group performed again this week. Oh how I wish Andrew had left the competition last week! He and Aaron had the worst performances this week and I hate that I even had to be subjected to them. Ha ha. And I was reminded by Adam Lambert's performance that none of the contestants this year know how to perform.

Siobhan Magnus sang "Suspicious Minds." I loved her outfit (and Adam Lambert-inspired hair), but she scares me when she opens her mouth sometimes. I'm always nervous that she's going to blow it, because she's so over-the-top and sketchy with her vocals. You never know if she's about to nail it or kill it (in a bad way). So I get all nervous when she sings, because I really like her! And she has tons of potential. I'll support her no matter what. And she had a great comeback to the judges after they kept trying to pigeonhole her into one style of singer or genre. It's about time someone told the judges to stop worrying about what genre shelf the contestant's album is going to be on at Walmart. If it's good music, it's good music. Genre doesn't mean anything. Go Siobhan!

Photo: www.mjsbigblog.com

Although Lee Dewyze's performance of "A Little Less Conversation" wasn't as good as Daughtry's version 4 years ago, it was still awesome... and I'm starting to get the same feeling I had about Anoop Desai last year. Like, a little tickle in my heart. HA HA. He still lacks stage presence because he's too daggum humble and nervous, but he's trying hard to loosen up. His studio recordings every week are amazing and I am IN LOVE with his voice. Sexy, sexy, sexy.

Photo: www.myfoxboston.com

I actually voted for Tim Urban this week. I split my votes between Crystal, Siobhan, Lee, and Tim. Basically because those are the only four that are worth watching most of the time. He was smart not to listen to Adam Lambert's advice about using his falsetto - HELLO, did Adam not see Tim's horrible rendition of "Apologize"??? He should never, ever attempt something like that again. He's smart to stick within his limited range, wear a tight shirt, and sing songs with the word "Love" in them. He knows what he's doing. The girls love him. Go Tim!

Photo: www.mjsbigblog.com

The best performances:
Crystal Bowersox's "Saved"
Lee Dewyze's "A Little Less Conversation"
Michael Lynch's "In The Ghetto"

The worst performances:
Andrew Garcia's "Hound Dog"
Aaron Kelly's "Blue Suede Shoes"

I was so worried for this week. The judges used their save on Michael Lynch last week, so two people were leaving this week... and this is about the time for a shock elimination. The best-case-scenario would've been Andrew and Aaron leaving, but Andrew and Katie was the next best thing... so I was relieved beyond belief that it wasn't worse than that. Timmy's safe! And my fave three live to see another week: Crystal, Lee, & Siobhan. Whew!

This week's American Idol in 60 Seconds with Jim Cantiello:

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Trying To Appear "Perfect"

This is what a perfect couple looks like, right?
Photo: www.wasatchfamilytherapy.com

Going through the adoption process, there's many opportunities to reflect on myself and my life and my relationship with Zay and our potential to be parents. It's all a little overwhelming, but definitely necessary. I think all parents should have to go through a process like this, not just adoptive parents! It's really eye-opening and nit-picky - kind of like a job interview. We have to answer all kinds of questions about our strengths, weaknesses, personality, interests, etc. It's really in-depth and thorough in an effort to make sure they are only approving well-qualified applicants.

That's where I start to feel the pressure to be "perfect"... or at least appear perfect, whatever perfect may be... Zay doesn't like the idea of having to "sell" ourselves to the agency and to potential birth mothers. And I agree. It sucks. Because no one's perfect... and we don't like to sugarcoat things normally. We are who we are... and we're not perfect.

The main problem stems from our uncertainties about the paths we will take in our careers and education - we don't know what we want to be when we grow up. We're not in a "stable" position, meaning we're going back and forth about what we want to do. We're not "established," I guess. So, that makes me feel "imperfect". I'm sure when a lot of birth mothers are looking for a family to place with, they look for "established" people. We're young and still trying to figure things out, so who are we to say that we'd be good parents for someone's child?

I graduated from BYU's business school in Information Systems, but I'm not sure I fit very well in that field anymore. I worked as a computer programmer for a little while, but it didn't feel quite right. I'm considering going to cosmetology school to get licensed. I ultimately wanted to own a barbershop/salon with Zay, so maybe I can merge my business school background with my cosmetology schooling to run our own business. That's the tentative plan. I'm looking at hair schools around here to find which one would best work for me.

Zay started going to UVU a couple years ago, but had to drop out to work more hours at his job. Now he wants to go back to school, but he doesn't know what to pursue. Barbering, business, or culinary arts were the ones he was most considering. He has too many hobbies and interests to know what he wants to do "for the rest of his life".

It would be hard for us to both go to school at the same time, so we're in a transitional period right now... trying to figure it all out. So, we get insecure about whether someone would even want to place with us.

But, there was a reason I felt so strongly about adoption - I know it is something that we were meant to do. And there's a reason I felt so strongly about it now rather than a few years from now when we're "settled". I just pray that it'll all work out.

When I start feeling inadequate and unqualified to be a parent, I try to fight it and just be myself. If I'm open and honest, hopefully the right birth mother will find us to be "perfect" without us actually having to be so. I trust God will guide this process and the right people will end up coming together "perfectly".

Thursday, April 8, 2010

American Idol Season 9 Finals Week 4

 Photo: www.mjsbigblog.com

Okay, finally I enjoyed an episode. There were more good performances than trainwrecks. I've been waiting for some performances that just *wow* me - and this week had a few!

Siobhan Magnus recovered from last week's sketchy performance with a very subdued "Across the Universe". She regained her spot as the only girl who can challenge Crystal Bowersox. And I love her quirky style. Go Siobhan!

Photo: www.rickey.org

Photo: www.mjsbigblog.com

Lee Dewyze has gained a lot of confidence the past couple weeks and I'm just loving him! I love his voice, his humility, his hilarious personality - he had a bagpipe player come out in the middle of his performance. OMG - I almost died laughing! I'm rooting for him to make Top 3! I'd buy his CD.

Photo: www.mjsbigblog.com

Tim Urban has lasted longer than any other Vote For The Worst pick. The longer he stays in the competition, the more I want him to stick around. He was smart this week and turned in a sort-of-actually-kind-of-okay performance that would win him votes from the general population instead of just his Worster supporters. Smart guy! He was so genuinely surprised at the judges' positive critiques when he was done - he's just too cute. Go Tim!

Photo: www.mjsbigblog.com

The best performances:
Crystal Bowersox's "Come Together"
Lee Dewyze's "Hey Jude"
Casey James' "Jealous Guy"
Siobhan Magnus "Across the Universe"
Katie Stevens' "Let It Be"

The worst performances:
Andrew Garcia's "Can't Buy Me Love"
Aaron Kelly's "The Long and Winding Road"

So, for some reason I think this week's results show was all just a big set up for Tim Urban to go home next week. Sad! On the week that he finally managed to escape the bottom 3! Big Mike (who has been overrated since the beginning) had the lowest number of votes, but the judges "saved" him. Now two people have to go home next week. This is some bull! Andrew was the one who should have left. He has long worn out his welcome. I wouldn't have minded if Aaron had gone home either. But next week, all three of those contestants will get a butt load of sympathy votes and Tim will most likely not be able to escape a double elimination. Bull! Plus, I feel like my votes didn't even count for anything, since everybody has to vote again next week on the same group of contestants. Hmmmm.... I don't think I like the judge's save. Last year, theloveofmylife Anoop Desai got booted the week after someone getting "saved." Bull!

This week's American Idol in 60 Seconds with Jim Cantiello:

Friday, April 2, 2010

Adoption Scams

Photo: www.myadoptionadvisor.com

I have a lot of time on my hands right now to research anything and everything about adopting. I've recently discovered stories about adoption scammers. I had no clue people would do some of these things! It's crazy. I've been reading about ways to avoid scammers and ways to spot them. Most of the time, the adoption agency can screen expectant parents beforehand and make sure they're legit... but not always.

I read a really interesting blog about a lady who encountered a "fake" potential birth mother on her road to adoption. Check it out and make sure you click on parts 1 & 2 and read about the whole thing. I'm already freaking out about the whole process. I'd be super nervous even if everything ends up going smoothly and quickly for us. But now I have to worry about something like this happening! Oh, boy.

Apparently this attention-seeking girl pretended to be pregnant and considering adoption. She contacted and met face-to-face with something like 9 different couples (so far), some of which knew each other and were friends. She got gifts, taken out for lunches and dinners, and lots of attention by pretending she wanted to place her "baby" for adoption. Wow.

She would make up all these dramatic stories to gain sympathy, about the birth father beating her and whatnot. Craziness. What a horrible thing to do! For the adoptive couples who had nothing to compare it to, they were duped. Others caught her in her lies and recognized the red flags.

I worry about stories like these because I'm so trusting and easily emotionally attached at this point. I hope I'm strong enough to get through whatever ends up coming our way and not let my emotions cause me to be extra vulnerable to adoption scammers.

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