Wednesday, June 19, 2013

I'll just call this post TMI

Ok so if you are not an adoptive mama or ever had a parasite problem you may wanna just go ahead and skip this post. 
It will be TMI I assure you. But in the nature of honesty here and the intense need to share with the world all I have been through in the last two weeks, I must all...
Ok so rewind 8 months when we meet our sweeties in DRC. My pediatrician had given me a parasite treatment to take with us assuming one of them would have some bowel issues. Sure enough, both did. I remember John and I debating on whose was worse and deserved the treatment more. Maran's killer spray poops earned the award and she got the round of Alinea.  Then we come home and of course I looked up an international adoption pediatrician in our area and went to him instead of our beloved pediatrician because surely he would be specialized in this. They sent us home that appointment with 3 vials each child to collect stool samples checking for parasites and bacterial infections from Salmonella to typhoid to girardia. All negative. I remember thinking... there's no way. With what is going on in their lower regions, there is no way they are negative! Fast forward 5 months and it is still bad. Smells like you've never smelled, colors like you've never seen. After Maran getting nervous about her "green and red poop" we proceeded back to my beloved pediatrician. Apparently to get the full spectrum of a scan for parasites in stools you have to take samples from several different bowel movements. So she sent me home with 3 vials and one smear per BM for 3 times. That is 9 vials and 3 smears. I thought it was insane. Digging in poo that has not been submerged in water (it makes a difference folks) is a whole notha level of disgusting. Wheeler would come in and I would have Levi's pajama pants tied over my face with my Popsicle stick in hand. "Mom, why ya playing in that stinky poop?". Great Question Wheeler, it must be because I am an awesome mom and I love hunting for bugs in poopoo! :)
Now, when nature calls, it calls quickly. It doesn't matter where we are or what we are doing, there is no waiting. So one day we are all four swimming, completely soaked in the pool. Levi is loving it, I'm going under (which is always a big bonus for the kids), we are all jumping in. Then it comes. "Mommy my poopoo is coming!" Oh no you didn't. So I can't leave Levi out by the pool unattended so I trudge the two of them in as we drip all the way upstairs to my "lab" in my bathroom to get out the toilet hat and wait for her to go. Oh just a false alarm.
These were my days. And because going poo in a white hat that sits on the toilet is new and fun, there were several other false alarms too. Whew finished it finally and got a call 2 days later. "Well we have an answer to what's causing the problems!" 
Turns out Maran has an Amoeba. I had no idea you could get one of those, but apparently if you submerge your bottom in contaminated water these little guys can swim on in to whatever orifice they like. So she said the good news is its treatable with 10 days of crushing a pill 3 times a day and then followed by 10 days of antibiotics 3 times a day. Then we need to retest with the 9 vials because it is only 90% effective the first treatment. 
Great, I thought. That's doable. Oh wait, what was the bad news.
The bad news is the amoeba is transferrable through bathtime. Anyone that has been in the bath with Maran for a long period of time (especially for repeated exposures) is susceptible to this traveling into their bodies as well. Lovely. This is not in the international adoption books folks ;). 
So that means, 3 vials, 3 separate stools for our three remaining children. That is 27 vials of poop I needed to collect over the next week before Reese left for camp. So needless to say the collection issues heightened with more false alarms, gas masks, questions, etc. There was a day that we were at my moms and Reese who only had a few days before camp had to go so we could not miss. There was a tupperware and ziploc involved.
And the time I was bathing the kids and Reese had to go so she went "by herself" in the container in my bathroom, forgot to tell me, and left the container in my sink until dad found it several hours later. Febreeze was involved thereafter.  Every few days I would make my delivery of my progress to the Lab at the pediatrician. So tomorrow I will make my last deposit for the child who kept forgetting to tell me he had to go and went without me collecting. Thank heavens that is over. I didn't think 41 stool collections in a year would be in my skill set but now it officially is. I have all sorts of tips and tricks, warnings and shortcuts. Who knew one could get so skilled in such a task?
So just a few more days until we see who else has made friends with our pet amoeba.

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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

to the mamas in the trenches...

Recently I’ve been talking with several mamas in the trenches of motherhood. Mamas of new babies, mamas of rebellious two year olds, mamas that just had their second babies. I remember the days of screaming babies all too well. Some people say it fades from their memories and it is just a blur of happy moments strung together now, forgetting the tough times and hard days. Maybe it is either too deeply etched in my heart or not enough time has passed for me yet. I remember the countless hours Reese would scream, as her reflux burned her chest until she would projectile everywhere to get a moments relief before the next wave of screams began. I remember holding my newborn and watching my 18 month old tantrum while Wheeler screamed as his 3rd, 9th, 15th, 25th ear infection came and went. There was no way to calm him, I remember just sitting him in his crib and leaving the room because I felt so inadequate to help him, so confused why he wouldn’t stop crying, so helpless and defeated.
Somehow as moms we have coached ourselves that a “good mom” doesn’t feel like this. That a good mom always is oozing with love for our children and never struggles to keep her own identity while battling losing it in a child that is demanding so much. Society has told us that moms have to have it all together, look the part, have the clean house, beam with each pregnancy, and have a fit body while toting around our well-behaved children that we adore every minute of every day.  Can we just have some freedom here? Freedom to feel the feelings we have?  I’ve had to learn to give myself grace upon grace and seek what I cannot find in Him. I am so thankful that God says he is most powerful in my weakness. That if I am going through a time of "suffering" in motherhood or marriage it is for his glory. That his power is about to be dispersed right into my deepest weakness. 
Once we adopted two more and now had a 6 year old, nearly twin 4 year olds and a 1 year old, I felt at times I had to keep up a front that it was all perfect. Because after all, we fought to bring these kids into our family, we wanted this, we chose this path, we knew what we were getting into and that there would be tough days and seasons ahead.  But that still doesn’t mean there aren’t hard days, hard weeks. Days where I don’t feel like being a mom, days when four kids just feels to hard, days when I lose my patience, days when love is a choice, not a flippant oozing emotion that emits from my being. And I have come to terms that it is ok. God’s love fills in the gaps, God’s grace covers a multitude of my flaws. Sometimes I just need to cry out for God to fill me up when I think I am losing myself in the mix of it all. I need to step back and remember his faithfulness and anchor my identity and value in Him. I need to ask again to see it all with his eyes and respond with His words, not my own faulty ones.
Satan shouts loudly at us women. That we have to have it all together, discipline biblically every time, know exactly what our child needs, feels or thinks, keep our marriage running with ease after a day of pouring out to our kids.
Newsflash. I can’t.
Satan shouts loudly, but God is our shield. I’ve been claiming this verse in Psalm 3 this week.
Psalm 3: 3-5. But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high. I call out to the Lord and he answers me from his holy mountain. I lie down and sleep; I wake again because the Lord sustains me.

Because lets face it, moments that look like this are more familiar than......
ones that look like this.... :) Or is that just me?
So to you other mamas, who find yourselves in the trenches, come on in. It’s better when we are down here together! 

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Father's Day Dedication

There is a man who likes to work behind the scenes, pouring out, serving until his heart is emptied. That man is my husband. John never stops amazing me with his humility and compassion for others. I watched this week my husband had to choose to not intercede with a friend who needed help because it crossed the lines of morality. He knew the right thing to do, and chose it, but it was at the expense of someone elses felt need or convenience, and it crushed him.  He cares so big. He wants to give big and love extravagantly. And he does it best with us. I am so grateful he continually puts us first, without prompting. He knows the hard parts of my day and he checks in or goes ahead and comes home early to make it through together. He chooses us over his work nearly every time. And I see it. I see that he might take a hit in profits or sales so that he can be a present dad and a loving and supporting husband. I look at other men who exchange this so quickly and I am so beyond grateful John loves us like Jesus loves the church. He lays down his life for us in so many small ways and big. He makes time for our kids individually, he gives love and affection. He gets home from a long day at work and immediately is on the floor being horse, or flip spotter, wrestler, swing pusher, trampoline bouncer, and encourager. I see the way our kids light up and squeal when his Jeep pulls in the drive, because it is daddy, their daddy. The one who is giving them glimpses of how much their heavenly father loves so intricately. John is the one showing them a shadow of what the Lord sees their value to be. He does it well. Not perfectly, but so well. 

I can hardly put my gratitude into words for the sacrifice, selfless love he gives to not only each of our 4 children, but first to the Lord and then to me too. Above and beyond.
John you are more than adequate, you are an amazing leader for our family, even when you don’t feel like you measure up or are doing as good of a job as you think you could. We see your heart, your work, the way you provide for us, the way you serve others in front of our family at the expense of yourself.
You are loved and adored by these 5.
Happy father’s day,

Friday, June 7, 2013

Referral Anniversary!

It has officially been a year today of seeing our two African treasures faces and being matched with them as their forever family. I wrote about it that day in this post. I remember that day so vividly. The anticipation of it all. The fear and nerves and anxiety wrapped up in it all. Because after all, how do you fall in love with a picture, and idea of someone?
I guess I can relate it best to seeing our ultrasounds of the first two. You know there is a baby in there. You have no idea what they look like, what gender, what their personalities will be or how they will change your life. Same for this situation with a few different emotions on top! I remembering opening my email to see this....

and weeks later this sad girl and scared little boy...

and getting news of parasites and stitches for Levi, and bacterial infections, and Levi moved to our facilitators house because of weight loss and someone stealing his food, and weeks later we got these...

I remember each set of pictures being like Christmas morning. But yet the heartache quickly follows that I have missed so much of their growing up. And that I can't protect them or take care of them. And the excitement and fear of what life will look like when they are home.
 You could have told me what this year would have held and I would have listened in disbelief. The miracles, the suffering, the healing, the pain, the transformation, the busyness, the new normalcy.
It is hard to say that I am 'thankful' that they were taken to an orphanage in 13 months ago in Kinshasa, DR Congo. Because gratitude and pain go together so intricately in the complexity of our story.
Now, on the other side of it all, hearing my almost 5 year old daughter telling me memories of being alone, scared, taking care of Levi, not liking living at the orphanage and never wanting to go back to live there, being hungry. It is heavy to hear the stories, some which will be only hers to tell.
But I am so grateful for this year. For Levi Moses White and Maran Grace White. Their heritages will always be celebrated. Their skin color will always be talked about and seen for what it is, beautiful. They may not look like their mommy and daddy but they are no less ours.
And what I told Maran last night when she laid her dark chocolate hand on top of mine and said "Me pretty like you mommy?"
Yes you are sweet girl. God made you just the way he wanted you. Dark, beautiful, strong, kind, loving, affectionate. God took something Satan wanted to hurt you and changed it for your Good and our Good. Because God is good. Sometimes Good looks different than we think it should because we can't see the whole picture. God is in charge. God has offered to adopt all of us. And you get to be adopted twice! You are a precious girl and my gift. Here forever in our family.
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