Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Looking Back and Looking Forward: Reflections on Six Months Post-Surgery

I woke up today with the fresh realization six months ago today I had surgery. Life-altering, emotion-enducing surgery.

Just in case you missed it, you can read about that surgery here.

I don't know why it was on my mind so much but, since it was, I thought I'd share some thoughts with you all, six months after one of the craziest days I've experienced. After all, I didn't know much about ectopic pregnancy when it happened to me. So, if you know someone who needs to read this post, send em on over. There's hope, my friends.


I am in great health. No, seriously. I mean, I  ran  almost ran a marathon last weekend. I feel mostly normal. Most days I have no reminders of my surgery. Unless I wear a bikini and see the tiny scars. And unlike most people, I don't wear a bikini every day. Jokes. I totally do. Jokes again.

I sometimes feel residual pain. I'm told this is completely normal and might last up to a year. But it's the manageable, irritating kind that you only notice because you are hyper-sensitive to your body. And I learned the hard way being sensitive to what your body is feeling is a good thing.  Other than that, I feel in tip-top shape.  Which is great. And makes me super appreciative for amazing medical care.

Mental Health

I'm in a good place. A really good place. I've been through lots of phases. That week and the week prior were very bleak.  I am sure you knew this if you read my post or talked to me. But Jesus was also very, very near to me at that time and for that, I am thankful.  I am so thankful His plan is not my plan. Some days it's easier to feel thankful for that than other days. For the most part, I'm very happy to be in God's will, even when it means some broken, hard times. It almost feels like it never happened. Except it totally did and some days I feel that very strongly.

Never was I mad at God. Never was I looking for answers. But still, I think I found some. He loves when we are close, even if that closeness is through brokenness. And when we ask Him to take control of a situation, He does. Even when it's a completely different plan than we had for ourselves.

I think, if I am honest, I tried to "fill" the broken spot in my heart with the adoption at first. You all probably noticed that.  While we both know God was spurring us to look into older children, we knew that before all the madness.  I don't think I was meant to confuse that with "since you had to suffer, I'll now give you something as a blessing."I don't think it was ever meant to be a trade.  And after some tears, I feel really good about that. Yes, we are so looking forward to "the call." And in some ways, this spurred us on to change our parameters. But one will not replace the other. And healing had to come before I was in a place to understand that. First healing. Then hope. Then future. I think we're there.

The Big Question

The big question I get, more than any other, is will we try to get pregnant again.

Which, by the way, is a very personal question, thankyouverymuch. But since I share a lot here, might as well go for it.

Let me start by saying, for those who don't know, it is possible. Scientifically, speaking. I am told by my doctor the chances of the same thing happening again are slim to none and the possibility of us getting pregnant without any complications and in a relatively short amount of time is very high. We should, on paper, be able to have a biological child, should we chose to go that route.

Follow up: it's much easier to hear those words than it is to believe them. Although I think I am almost there.

So,  will we? Well, I think so. It's not in our near plans. But we also aren't ruling it out. I think we'll say what we should have said all along: God-willing. When His time is right. If that time ever comes.

So that's it. Six months. A very long time and not long at all. I feel whole again. Minus a tube of course.

Thanks for praying for me and letting me be very vulnerable in this space. Community helps in the healing. And I am blessed with beautiful community.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Little One Letter

Hi Little One,

Wonder what you're up to! I am writing this on a Monday, as I often do, thinking of how different life will be when you arrive.

It's Christmas season here. I decorated yesterday and it took every ounce of self-control I have not to put up a stocking for you. Yes, we've had a stocking reserved for you for a while but I don't want to put it up until we know who you are and can put your name on it.  Our mantle looks lovely with the four stockings (our dogs have stockings around here...yes, we are crazy!) but I just can't wait to add one or two more. It will be the most exciting day ever to add yours to the list. I have to say we would be more than thrilled to do it this holiday season. Knowing we've only got a few weeks, though, I understand it might be next year. Hopefully not the next. Oh, for the sake of both our hearts, I hope it is not.

When you arrive in our lives, we will get TWO Christmases! I mean, we'll celebrate Christmas on Dec 25 like we always do in the US but we'll also celebrate Gena.  That's Ethiopian Christmas, as I am sure you know. I am already trying to get used to leaving my decorations up a little later. I wonder what kinds of traditions we'll have together. I can't wait.  Christmas will be so much more fun when you are around.  Sharing our family. Reading the Christmas story together. Getting you your own nativity. Wrapping gifts and watching you open them. Sharing the truth of the miracle of Jesus.  Then I imagine we'll come up with some new traditions, too. Maybe we'll eat popcorn and drink cocoa for Gena. Maybe you'll have a favorite Christmas movie. Maybe we'll meet up with other Ethiopian families. Hard to tell.

I know I've told you before you very excited our community is to meet you. We're all getting more excited. In fact, a few weeks ago, people prayed nonstop for you for 24 hours. For your safety. For your quick homecoming. For people to love and care for you until we can get there. For your health. And of course we pray for you all the time. But for someone else to pray for you and care for you in the way we hope you are, well, it's just heartwarming.

I read an article about someone who's been to our transition home, where you will most likely live. It was encouraging to hear her talk about how much the nannies care for their kids. And how much the director cares about your daily life. It breaks my heart that you are most likely over there, waiting for paperwork, just like we are over here, waiting for paperwork. But it was so nice to know if we can't be united yet, you are most likely in good hands.  We'll continually be praying for that.

I must get grocery shopping but I hope you know you're on my heart. I'm praying until we meet. And forever.



Monday, December 9, 2013

The Race that Never Happened

The journey to my second marathon is a story, I tell you. It starts with registering right after my surgery in June. I put it on the calendar as a goal. A way to remind myself that my body was capable of lots of things. I got excited about it and started training as soon as I was cleared to run.

Fast forward through months and months of training.  Better training than last year, in fact. E and I were pretty confident we could beat last year's time. And even better? Our team was raising more money for St. Jude than we ever had before.  Our first year there were four of us and this year we were up to 19. The funds kept pouring in and we were so excited for the Mizzou Maniacs to have a fun, productive time in Memphis to benefit St. Jude and introduce new team members to this great race and amazing hospital.

Well, right before Thanksgiving I got bronchitis and started to get a little nervous about the race. But I was hellbent on running. I was going to run NO MATTER WHAT. Because I am stubborn as a mule very determined.

We packed and were ready to go Thursday. This is our 5th year running this race so we have a pretty good game plan. E and I head to my parents' house the night before and then we all travel together early Friday morning. We started on the roads to my parents' and an hour in, we slipped, slid, and turned around to go home. We had high hopes of going Friday but couldn't make any decisions.

Friday morning we hemmed and hawed but eventually decided to get going, along with my brother, his girlfriend, and best friend. I'll spare you the details of our harrowing journey. Bottom line: It took us way too long, it was way too scary, and we arrived late to the expo to get our tickets to the fundraising banquet. Right as we arrived, they canceled the race. Perfect timing.

Trees down the street from the expo. Long travels mean I had a dead phone for the banquet.

I won't lie. Tears. They arrived. I didn't shed them but they welled up in my eyes. All that travel and we weren't even going to get a chance to run. But Rick Shadyac, the fundraising CEO for St. Jude, was sadder than I could ever be. He stood on that stage and very apologetically explained that 30% of their volunteers had already canceled, as well as 15% of their medical staff. Branches were falling all over the city and Tennessee was in a state of emergency. The wise thing to do was to cancel the race. And so they opened beer in the back of the ballroom and we all understood. Mostly.

We went back to the expo to grab some St. Jude gear (can't have enough of that!) and saw the coolest SUV with the names of every HERO (fundraiser) on it. Check it out!

Pretty neat, huh? While we were at that car, I ran into a sweet patient. Miss J is a teenager who was in chemo for a brain tumor last year during the race. She brought a team from her small Mississippi town this year and her team was so bummed to miss the race.  We commiserated together as she told me about her story. St. Jude began to treat her tumor but then referred her to the premiere specialist to remove her tumor. This specialist happened to not be a St. Jude doc. So when the bill for almost $90,000 arrived, the family was overwhelmed. But...because St. Jude referred them to that hospital, they paid it. Every dime.

Keycard to our hotel
This is why we run.  This is why we traveled through the snow to get there. It didn't matter that the race didn't happen. Miss J is so appreciative of St. Jude. And she thanked us for being there. Wow.

Since we didn't get to run, we put on our jerseys and headed down to Beale Street to enjoy some jazz at B.B. King's. 

cute parents!

No, E is not wearing his jersey. Because for some reason they didn't have one in his size. But cute St. Jude shirt, right??
We woke up Saturday even more deflated. But we put on our gear and headed to the fundraising lounge. There, lots of people were milling around, eating, taking pics, and commiserating about all the training that ended in a cold, frozen weekend. At least we looked cute.

We sat down next to a St. Jude family and Sweet C. told me his story. He's been a St. Jude patient for 13 years. He has his own team and even invited us to join. We promised we'd find him again next year.  He thanked us for his hard work and told us story after story of how much his family appreciates St. Jude.

This is why we run. Or don't run. This is why we love St. Jude.

CEO of the Fundraising arm of St. Jude, Rick Shadyac
When we finished our time at the lounge, ran by the stadium. It was icy and reaffirmed why they didn't have the race.

But they did give us a finisher medal. Getting there was accomplishment enough. So we said thanks and wore our medals with pride.

Check out all that ice!

We went to Rendezvous, our after-race tradition, and enjoyed some ribs.

Then, we geared up for a sad game. And that's all I'm going to say about that. Here's our team watching the game:

So you could say the weekend was a bust. But I just can't say that.  My supporters raised more than $1,000 and our team, jointly, raised $11,264,73. That, my friends, is a big deal.

Special and overwhelming thanks to each of you who donated, wished us well, prayed for us, and encouraged us along the way.

Will we run another race to make up for this one? We haven't decided. We'll have the opportunity to apply our race fees to another marathon. But that means continued training in the cold. So for now we're going to get in the holiday spirit and decide about the race later.

Either way, St. Jude hasn't seen the last of us! Next year we'll have bigger fundraising dreams and a point to prove. We'll be back, Memphis. You haven't seen the last of the Mizzou Maniacs!!