Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Not feeling it...

So I have those two pregnancy tests. But both of those have had *reports* of false positives in the past.

Generally a false positive is a label given to an early miscarriage/chemical pregnancy or misreading a test. And they're extremely rare, so the likelihood of me getting two of them...

Even so, I think tomorrow I'll be going out to purchase a couple more types with no reports of false positives.

In the meantime...

My symptoms are pretty mild and sporadic.

I'll get a sudden urge to pass out asleep, or a sudden feeling of dizziness, or suddenly a smell is way too strong, or a taste too extreme, or suddenly I'm feeling nauseus. My lips have started to chap like crazy and my mouth is really dry. I'm thirsty a lot and peeing a lot. And I'm feeling little twinges and pangs all throughout the day.

But even with all this, I don't believe it.

I really don't.

And I know on a conscious level that that's ridiculous.

I'm not some teenager who doesn't know how bodies work, let alone birth control. I'm not a woman expecting menopause and finding a different result. I'm not sterile, and neither is my husband. Heck, I'm someone who has not only researched this but actively and desperately pursued it and still greatly wished for it!

So why do I feel like crying out, "This can't be real! These symptoms mean nothing! The tests are wrong! This can't be happening!!!"

Is it the shock? Is it a normal unplanned-pregnancy denial? Is it that I had in some ways recently fully come to terms with our infertility and accepted that this outcome would never happen?

Thing is, I'm an imaginative person. I have very lucid dreams and have always loved daydreaming. And this is a scenario I've pictured a million times before. So I guess... it feels like I'm dreaming. It feels like I'm making this up, like it's all in my head and there's something wrong with me mentally. If I believe that I'm pregnant then I'm insane because that's just me giving into my fantasies.

But... the tests say I am...

To make it worse, there's the doctor thing.

My normal doctor is a general practice/family doctor. She's wonderful! And we've been in contact online. But she's not an OB/GYN and her office won't schedule and appointment for me since I should be doing that with an OB/GYN. So no blood test or ultrasound there....

I did a bit of research, which is hard when you don't want to tell all of your friends who would be GREAT resources. There's a birth center about 45 minutes from here which I've always dreamed about giving birth at. So many of my friends have and they loved it. They also do regular OB/GYN and prenatal care. I called to schedule an appointment and they told me I had to do a tour first... So we're going next Thursday. After this I can schedule a prenatal appointment and THEN they can add me to their roster of patients... but they can only take in 35 women per due date month. They calculated that I was 3 weeks along, with EDD at Nov 6. Two receptionists came up with that. Um, I could not have gotten two positive tests last week if I was only 3 weeks along. I would have still been ovulating then... My own calculations put me at 5+ weeks, with a due date in late October. So their calculations would be more likely to get me into their roster of patients since many November mama's wouldn't know yet that they were expecting, but it would also push my first prenatal appointment back by two weeks, and they'd likely discover how much further along I was then anyway. So I'll change my EDD when I see them next week, if I can, and hopefully get in a bit sooner.

But they would still want me to wait until 10 weeks. Which is like the first week of April. Not only will I be in Disneyworld then, but seriously? Going through the whole month of March without meeting with a doctor?

Thing is, I think I'd be fine with that if I could just see a doctor now and just *confirm* that this is actually happening! I just want someone in charge, someone in the medical field, to do something, take blood or hook me to a machine or listen to my belly or *something* and then to have them, the professional, say that this is indeed happening. I think I'll believe it then.

So... how weird would it be to go to Planned Parenthood tomorrow morning? Just for a blood test?

I'm so tempted.

In the meantime, I think I'll make a list of the stores I'll hit for tests. I need to know dangit!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Valentine's Day...

If I'm right, if I have the timing correct, then in the very early, still dark hours of Valentine's Day an embryo implanted inside of me.

We were not expecting this. Not at all.

We JUST finished up the MAPP class a week ago, on Monday the 20th of February, and we have a homevisit set up for 2 weeks from tomorrow. We were hoping to do emergency care (short term) and respite care, while awaiting a child or sibling group available for adoption that might fit our family.

I had a plan, a broad and overarching plan with lots of wiggle room.

But we did not foresee this.

Last Friday morning, on the 24th of February, I woke up at 2:45 am and rushed to the bathroom. I had gone to sleep feeling too full and somewhat off, so I wasn't so surprised when I ended up becoming sick. Six times. In a row. And then passing out.

I woke Nik once I was conscious and asked him to help me. He got me some water and helped me back to bed, tucking me in. He got up with our pair or early risers and kept them quiet for me.

At 7:20 I finally pulled myself from bed, head swimming and tummy turning. I recalled the sharp pains a week and a half earlier, and the early and very short/light period that followed it. So many possible symptoms... And yet I've had them all before. I'm prone to cervical polyps which can burst and bleed, and I'm sensitive to hormones leading to extreme nausea typically for at least one day a month. I keep a couple pregnancy tests laying around in the cabinet upstairs. It's my "peace of mind" test. I've probably taken at least 30 over the past several years, sometimes while actively trying to conceive and other times when I simply had potential symptoms and wanted to clear my head of the possibility. I mean, it's a very easy to use and accessible test, and if I'm feeling ill it only takes a few minutes to knock that possibility out of my head.

I got it open and took my test, holding the stick in my hand as I continued to empty. As soon as the urine hit it, both lines showed up. Strong. In fact, the test line was darker than the control. I was still peeing when I learned I was pregnant.

And I thought I must be insane.

I showed it to Nik a few moments later and we just sort of stared, before rushing around to get P ready for school while I flopped down to rest my dizzy head. I did not feel well...

Later in the day I made it out to Walgreens. I had tested in the morning with a First Response red ink test but I couldn't recall exactly how old those tests were. Probably purchased within 6 months, but who knows? I picked up a different type, the EPT digitals. I tested again, with urine that was mostly water at that point since I hadn't been able to keep anything solid in me.

It said to read in 3 minutes. The result, "Pregnant," popped up about 30 seconds later as I was washing my hands.

My mother was over then and I showed her the tests, telling her I expected her to keep this secret. I should've recorded her expression :)

I emailed my best friend, and since I'd met up with another friend that morning for a playdate she knew (I was rather ill still so I didn't have much of a choice if I didn't want to be quarantined!). And being the dope that I am I asked for advice on a forum online not even thinking about all the people I know from that forum. So there are people who know, and people who don't.

And for the time being... Well, part of me wants to tell since I love to chat about anything.

And part of me is petrified.

I'm expecting blood every time I go to the bathroom.

I keep thinking this can't be happening. Oh, we've wanted it to happen, but someone must be playing a trick on us!

It just doesn't feel... real.

I'm so worried that we'll fall in love with the little bean and lose it. And if we'd been told this would never happen, what are the odds this could ever happen again? Is this my only shot at pregnancy, or just proof that things aren't as bad as we were told? Should I be celebrating now, regardless of what comes in the future? Should I be guarded just in case? What if I guard my heart now then lose this child and regret not loving as much as I could at that moment?

It just... doesn't seem real.

And I'm scared.

And I wish that we were in a place where we could just sit back and gather our thoughts and prepare secretly, but instead we have to focus on the fact that all of our support system is gung ho about the foster care thing, which is wonderful, and we're going to have to either tell them all early or have them wonder why things are going on hold, if they're going on hold, etc.

So yeah.

Lots of reworking where we are and where we're headed, lots of plans that may or may not pan out and other plans we need to make pretty soon, and lots and lots and lots of worries.

I'm so worried that this will end...

Because as much as I'm guarding myself... I'm in love already. There is a heart beating within me already, a heart that isn't mine. My body is guarding a tiny life as he or she forms, providing 100% for this little person.

The start of a person's existence is happening with me as I type this.

And the fact is I am honored by this.

And so, so, so scared that it will end...

So I'll be going silent for awhile in some areas, keeping quiet about this, until things resolve a bit. If it ends... I won't try to hide it, but I will likely want some space before I'll want support. But hopefully, hopefully, all will go well and later this year, right around Halloween, smack dab between my boys' birthdays, another little babe will be joining our family.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Busy busy

Not all too much to talk about today, though it's been awhile since I blogged and decided that I ought to. The weather is nice, making me excited for Spring to come soon. Of course, it was snowy a few days ago, but today it's in the 70's. Yay Raleigh!

We finished MAPP class a couple nights ago and we'll have our first home visit in a few weeks. No guarantees on anything until we're licensed, and even then no guarantees on much else :)

I attended 2 teacher conferences yesterday, one for each boy. Both are doing really well and it's wonderful to hear the teachers talk about them (all positively, I'm very lucky!). Both boys are advanced for their age, though that doesn't necessarily work to P's benefit. Emotionally he's young for his age, and he doesn't understand why not all of the children want to be his friend. His goal for the year was "to be polite to everyone" and he works hard at that. His teacher says that some of the children are intimidated by him, this tall, social, athletic, intelligent child. Apparently when children have to pick teams P is always picked first, and the teacher has been working to give him extra leadership roles in the class since he is a natural leader (his preschool teacher said the same thing, and he was happy to act as her assistant). But P just wants to be liked and accepted and run around and have fun and be silly with the other kids. Granted if we're going to have trouble in school this is the sort of trouble we can manage and work with!

Ambrose on the other hand is just plain loud and full of life, which anyone who meets him could tell you :) I really need to upload a video of these kids, they're hysterical! And I'm the lucky woman who gets to be their mommy :)

In other news, Nik's deadline at work has been pushed back a few weeks which is "good" in the sense that they'll have more time to fix a lot of the issues with their project, and yet "bad" because OMG it's not over with yet and the end date has been set for several months. This is a project that they estimated would take 18 months and they were given 6. So much work at home in the evenings, so many late nights, lots of time missed with the kids, lots of things we can't do as a family, etc. Very frustrating and the announcement that there's a few more weeks of this did not go over well (or so I hear...). But soon! Very soon!

We are still planning on Disney in about 6 weeks and I finally contacted a friend who works in planning Disney vacations so hopefully we should get that going. And Ambrose is now set for school this fall, a whopping 3 mornings a week! He'll be in Heaven :) Paxton's going to go to the same school and he doesn't know it yet but there's a possibility of his teacher moving up to 1st grade with him, so I'm totally psyched about that and looking for ways to assure that happens if I can. Nothing really interesting happening with me though :) Still looking for my next adventure game or JRPG to play!

I'm planning to write a post about the impending "Big 3-0" coming up in 4 months (eep!) and why it seems soooo old to me even when most of my friends are in their 30's and 40's and I don't consider them to be old. It's hard to explain... I'm having some bittersweet feelings about this day and the change over from my 20's to my 30's, how it's kind of closing off those fun and wild young adult years and making me a real adult. Then I remember that I'm married, I have 2 kids, I'm on the PTA and preschool board, and I prefer sleep to just about any other activity out there.... :-P So maybe when I get the chance I'll formulate some complete sentences or even *gasp* concise and sensible paragraphs to make my thoughts all sense-makey.

Until then, I'm going to go raid the kitchen. I hear the siren call of Girl Scout cookies....

Friday, February 3, 2012

That discipline thing...

So one of the things we need to worry about in MAPP class is discipline. Honestly this is an awesome subject to cover, for a variety of reasons. People all have different thoughts on discipline, whether it's things that have worked with their own kids, things that they've seen others do that they think worked, they way they were disciplined, etc. One of the things we'll have to do is sign a form stating all of the things we WON'T do with a foster child in terms of discipline, but given how they know who they're working with the class first went into how to discipline and what forms worked properly.

While part of me wanted to scream "we know this already," I kept it down and decided to take everything they say to heart. I mean, these are professionals and they do truly know a lot more than me. They've seen a lot, heard a lot, and experienced a lot and when they say "this works, this doesn't, don't do this" etc, I'll believe them.

So of course this brings me to my own methods of discipline... and what we already do that we would not be allowed to do should we be licensed.

It's not hard, but there are things that will need to change. Number one is spanking. It's extremely, extremely rare that I use spanking but with P I found it to be helpful in some rare but extreme circumstances. When he is physically and emotionally at the end of this rope and he goes into a panic attack/meltdown/rage, he can sometimes become physical. A few times he's bitten me. One pop to the bum stopped it. This will be a no-no, and honestly? That's how it should be. I'm not anti-spanking, when used in the right situation, but I'm rather anti-me-spanking and every time I've resorted to it I've felt like Hell for days.

So I spent a good portion of the past couple days brainstorming, analyzing the situations we've been in that have lead to this outcome and what *I* could do differently, not just in response to him melting down but to keep it from happening in the first place. I already know a lot about P. He is moderately sensitive to physical discomfort like lack of sleep and hunger, he has a couple of known PTSD triggers, he's a sensory seeker who can get out of whack if his schedule is off, etc. Stuff we generally have under control through normal schedules, and honestly at this point we can alter his schedule considerably and frequently typically without issue (though he still does best with predictability). So what lead to those meltdowns? I thought and thought and figured those out and realized we'd been neglecting his needs at that time. It's not hard to be lulled into a false sense of security with him, he's really easy going and fun for the most part and you can often forget that his schedule helps him so much. Both times he's melted down badly in recent memory he had been off schedule for awhile, several days the first time, then several WEEKS the second time. So we're getting better in that department!

But what did *I* do that was wrong? What could *I* do differently once he started to meltdown and simply bringing him a glass of chamomile tea and reading a book wouldn't fix? What was *my* part in this and how could I change it? And, if possible, could I change it with my words?

I thought and thought and re-enacted in my head, comparing the two scenarios. What was the same? Did I do anything the same each time that lead to this? What could I be doing?

And then, it hit me. Of course!

Both times he got to the point of becoming physical with me I was trying to move him to a quiet space. It made sense to me at the time, and it's something we do normally if he starts to act up. We move him to his room or any other quiet space so we can sit and talk and he can diffuse. But both of these times he was refusing to go and I. was. forcing. him. I wasn't throwing him over my shoulder or anything, but I would hold his hand or try to lead him by putting my hand on his back. I was touching him before he touched me. I am the one who made it physical.

Hit my like a ton of bricks, it did.

So, uh, my kid is very convenient. Have I mentioned this before? It's like we can read each other's thoughts sometimes I swear. People joke with me about how I went to the other side of the world to get a child and came back with the male Ethiopian version of myself. Anyway, though...

So yesterday P conveniently started to meltdown. Our schedule has been off due to MAPP twice a week and Nik being out to work late on those other weekdays, for a few weeks now. No more "dinner on the table at 6:30 with daddy walking through the door" scenario, now we're eating by ourselves or going to a restaurant, and falling asleep without cuddles as the lone parent/babysitter has to tend to the toddler. He's been open about how it upsets him a little and we're trying to make up for it, but there's only so much we can do, you know?

Yesterday he started to be angry. I asked him, and Ambrose as well, to go to their rooms. I will sit in the hall with their doors open and talk to them both, but sometimes we all need a few minutes of physical separation from each other to calm down, followed by long hugs. Usually works like a charm. Not yesterday, though!

I managed to get A to his room, where he put on a firefighter hat, plopped down on his stool, and sat their looking at a "Wonders of the World" book and counting down for the Taj Mahal so it could blast off. P, on the other hand, grabbed my wrist and squeezed tight, squishing his face up so angry and nasty, started to growl and grunt, and well... yeah, total transformation from my normal sweet little boy.

I was about to pull him into his room and then... I remembered. I remembered what I'd learned in the past day. And I used that.

I knelt down, though P wouldn't look me in the eye. I sat for a minute and, sure enough, he didn't move to hurt me, just held onto my wrist growling, ready for a fight, ready to lose control.

"Paxton," I said, "you're a good boy."

His grip weakened and his eyes shot to mine, looking surprised.

"You're a good boy and you like to make people happy. You have a good heart. You like to make me happy and you like to be happy too. This isn't making me happy and it isn't making you happy. Let's find a way to fix this together."

And my sweet boy... His face just crumpled. His eyes teared up. And he let go of my wrist and fell into my arms, crying.

We talked, oh how we talked. He's so, so stressed. His teacher tells him his class is the best in the school, and he knows he's a top student in his class, if not the top student, and given how logical my child is he of course knows that this means he's the top student of the school. He's barely six. He's in Kindergarten. He's proud and I want him to be proud, but oh my the stress that comes with this.

"Mom, mom, it's so hard! I'm the best kid in my school! I read so well! I have to be good every. single. day. and I can't be bad. I need to have a green or a purple day so I can't have warnings. I can't be mean to people if they're mean to me and I have to sit and do my work and I have to do it right and I have to do it in time. And today we didn't have story time and I was working so hard and my head hurt because I was working so hard and I just wanted a story but they just made me do more work! And I have to do it all because I'm the best kid in my school and it makes people happy!"

Oh my, my sweet boy, he is taking on so much. So much. I often talk about how big he is, being 4 feet and wearing size 2 shoes, but really he's still so little and his heart was so heavy. He doesn't want to let anyone down, ever. I'm okay of course because he knows I won't give up on him, but everyone else? He needs to work daily so they won't be disappointed in him.

And so I held him and I talked to him and soon he was laughing and smiling and we packed up his silly homework (the instigator for his frustration) and had fun instead. A huge weight was off his shoulders, you could tell.

The best part? Daddy's deadline at work is over and he left work early to spend extra time with his boys. Oh, the smile on P's face! Just sitting and eating dinner together and talking... Yeah, I had missed it too!

I think I'm going to draw up a contract for myself, same as the one our county asks for when it comes to foster care, and just write down all the things I won't do. I should probably write down a set "normal discipline for X behavior" list as well. Usually talking it out, apologizing, verbally reminding which behavior we use, taking a few moments in a room to calm down, etc works just fine but we should probably have some set rules anyway.

So yeah, my heart is heavy with a lot of looking back and saying "we should've done X during that situation" or "I wish we would've known Y", but you know what? They're things to learn from and built on or change, and I can't go back and change that. I can only change what happens now and down the road. And so that's where we'll focus.


I should also mention that we're looking into fostering an animal. Figure it would be good all around, get an animal out of a shelter for a bit, give them a chance at finding a home, and teach our whole family what it's like to love and let go. Preferably an animal with a family already who just can't take them yet for some reason.... Also it'll throw a wrench into our schedule, and I could probably use that jolt of reality right there :)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Going and going

We're in full swing with our foster care class. So far it hasn't scared us away. Just the opposite, in fact! I think we're even more committed to this now than we were before, now that we have a better understanding of the needs and our resources and responsibilities. Yes, there's still a lot to talk about and a lot to prepare for, but we're excited. Excited to maybe meet our future child/ren, yes certainly, but also excited to help out and do our part to help children who will not remain with us.

Our last class shocked me. No details, of course, but essentially we learned a bit of what an extreme case would be as opposed to a typical case of what you'd normally get in foster care. Why was I shocked? Well, because my older son would most certainly fall under "extreme" case. Seriously, I thought behaviors like those we'd dealt with would be mild, or even the norm, in foster care and assumed that those I've known who had fostered just got lucky. I spent a while after class speaking with the teacher, giving her info on P and what he'd been through and how he behaved and learned that yes, indeed, this was an extreme case compared to what we can expect.

Honestly, yeah, shocked.

P is extreme? I could have told you that, haha! But as far as we've come? Where we are now? Dude, this kid is a dream. come. true. We actually sort of fight over who gets to go with him when we split the boys up for awhile to do different activities. He's so easy! So relaxed! So fun! Yes, we need to keep an eye on his emotions and yes we need to avoid certain things and yes he can be pretty emotional sometimes, but seriously, 99% of the time he's like a dream child.

Even looking back on how far we've come with him... it's a long way. And we know what we're doing now, we know what resources are available, we are calmer and stronger and happier and more sure in our actions.

So if P is extreme... yeesh, they could throw just about anything our way in that case! :-P

Though seriously, we do need to sit down and decide what would work for our family.

The safety and security of P and A is paramount in this decision, and when I think of that my head is full of "I'd rather__ than__". I'd rather have an infant with FAS than a five year old who acts out sexually toward smaller children. I'd rather have a teenager who spends all day giving attitude but generally listens than a three year old who constantly bites other kids. I'd rather have any sort of placement that does not put my children at risk than any sort of placement that does.

But then, there are so many other factors.

Should we accept children older than P?

Should we accept children with issues we don't think we could handle long term when there's a possibility of the case going to adoption?

Should we accept children who require care all day and night to keep their moods in check, thus taking most of our attention away from our two kids?

Should we accept sibling groups when they might create an "us vs. them" atmosphere?

What would fit? How can we help out and give aid where it's needed and still protect our family? Can we ever truly know what sort of situation would actually fit our family without being there? Can we really make all these grand choices when it's still going to come down to a sudden phone call with scant information?

When thinking about this, my head goes into a tizzy. So much to know, so many factors, so much to think about...

And yet... one thing is certain.

If we had known, with P's adoption, exactly what we were getting into... what behaviors, what treatment, how long it would take, how exhausting it could be, how this was a lifelong commitment to making a child well again....

If we had known, I don't think we would have done it. I think we would have backed away.

And we would be the ones who lost out.

We would be the ones who didn't get to see his first shy smiles, hear his soft breathy laugh, hold his body as it fights us and then relaxes, giving in, accepting that we really mean it when we say we're here for him and we'll help him. We would be the ones who didn't get to hear him finally start singing, see him start dancing, watch him learn to love books, sit with him during his favorite movies. We would be the ones missing out on the little notes he writes, the truly heartfelt conversations we have, the constant hugs, the sweet smiles, the big bright eyes greeting us whenever we say hello. We would be the ones who missed out.

Do I really want to have to choose who comes to live with us?

Do I really want to think, at the end of the day, that it's really up to me?

So much to think about... so much to prepare....

And tonight we'll be halfway through classes...

Guess I'd better work on that autobiography :)