transracial families put up with a lot...

One day, we still hope to adopt, though it's currently on hold as we try for #3. Which means articles and blogs and posts and videos and stories and books on adoption and orphans are still very much interesting to me. At the forefront of my mind and heart, still. And I still think about how we'll probably be a transracial family some day if we adopt via foster care, because the stats just work that way. And I still get excited about what God will do in our family and what it will look like.

This video on Rage Against The Minivan made me laugh today, but also reflect on how frustratingly difficult it must be to hear these comments A L L  T H E   T I M E.


not yet, God says.

Those words, uttered by my husband, were so comforting to me yesterday. Another month of trying (this was technically number three), another period. Not pregnant.

I took the discovery much better than I did in New York. Maybe because I was convinced I was pregnant in NY, so the news almost felt like a miscarriage (though I am certain I can't say that accurately and don't want to be insensitive to those who have suffered through miscarriages - all I can say is I felt as though I lost a baby, not hope of a baby, because I was so sure I was pregnant).

This time, however, I didn't really feel pregnant and refused to look into the "common symptoms" I was feeling. And New York taught me to guard my heart more, and not get hopes up early. In all, I was more trusting of God with His plan for our family when I discovered I was surely not pregnant this month. And I'm much happier in his presence this way, even though my hopes and his plans didn't cross paths this time.

Also, this month got me thinking about if I WERE pregnant. I've never been so public with trying on this blog. You all knew we were thinking about trying, but not the details, with Lily. And nothing with Oli until I was indeed, pregnant.  So this time around, the day after I'm supposed to get my period, you'll be like "SO!?" and if I don't blog right away our secret will be out before we even tell our families (if you assume silence means pregnant.)

Anyhow, to clear that potential problem up, from here on out, I'm not going to blog about specific dates (i.e. I'm Ovulating! or My Period Is Due Tomorrow!). And When we get the news either way, I probably won't blog about that right away either, so please wait on me to tell you instead of asking :)

Here's to month #4 of trying! Hoping it's THE month, but loving what God is doing in my heart as I wait.


20 signs you might be pregnant (PUH-LEASE)

Are you familiar with the 20 most common signs you might be preggers? Allow me.
  1. swollen/tender breasts
  2. darkening areolas
  3. cramping
  4. spotting
  5. urinary frequency/constipation
  6. fatigue
  7. nausea
  8. smell sensitivity
  9. elevated temperature
  10. missing period
  11. unusual hunger/cravings
  12. increase in secretions
  13. headaches
  14. mood swings
  15. feeling faint/dizy
  16. metallic taste in your mouth
  17. vivid dreams
  18. muscle aches
  19. sweating 
  20. increase of oil in hair and skin
Can we talk about the fact that I have at least eight of these symptoms ALL THE TIME?  I mean, how dare "fatigue" be on any list, really? Isn't that the most general symptom for basically everything? Slash the general reality for most people, let alone all moms? Gosh.

Fun facts:
With Lily's pregnancy, before I even missed my period I had these symptoms:
  1. urinary frequency/constipation
  2. serious fatigue
  3. nausea
  4. smell sensitivity
  5. feeling faint
  6. metallic taste (this one really got me weirded out because it was SO clear. I commented that I felt as if I'd put a handful of change in my mouth.)
With Oli's pregnancy, I had NO SYMPTOMS until two weeks after my missed period. Except maybe fatigue, but I had a 5 month old, so I wasn't reading into that!

Later on in both pregnancies I had the dreaded morning sickness and extreme fatigue (made worse by the anti-nausea medicines). And with Oli's pregnancy alone I had flu-like symptoms around the 2-month mark (aches and pains, fever).

Each pregnancy was so different. Each pregnancy is so different, for everyone.  The symptoms list is kind of a crock because most women walking the earth today have at least a few of them, and I know some lucky ladies who had only a handful when pregnant.

And if you're wondering, I'm not feeling pregnant right now (and am not, to my knowledge). I have the regular handful of symptoms that I often have pre-period (or any time!) and I have fewer symptoms than I did in NYC when I truly thought I was pregnant. So I'm not assuming that this month is the month, even though obviously I hope it is. But it could be... if this pregnancy is like mine with Oli. Oh this game!


six days to go... (written on September 24th)

Any mom will tell you waiting to find out if you're pregnant is one of the hardest things. Whether you are desperate to conceive or not planning on a pregnancy, when you think you might be pregnant, it's killer not knowing. And that's where I sit right now. Six days before my period is expected. Falling in the former category - as in wanting this baby like a mad woman.

I still shake my head in disbelief about our serious desire for a third baby. This was so not in the plan and SO the desire of our hearts. Which is making these six days brutal.

It's also hard not to read into  E V E R Y T H I N G.

My parents came to NYC for the weekend and we were sightseeing nonstop. Their first day we walked all the way to Time Square and back to the Upper West Side (4 hours), which would make anyone tired, but of course I couldn't help but think "is this pregnancy fatigue!?". Similarly, I'm *thinking* I'm noticing other symptoms but am very  aware of my desire to be pregnant which may effect my discernment. 

I cried at the 9/11 memorial. Didn't think I would. pregnancy emotions!?

My lower abdominal seems slightly fuller in the last couple days. Third pregnancy in 2 years could easily result in this! Or I ate a whole lot while my parents were cooking for me + footing the bill for take out. 

I've been going to bed at 9:30 or 10pm, usually I go to bed after 11pm. pregnancy exhaustion!? Or cooler nights and shorter days.

My bra is feeling tighter and perhaps I'm fuller up top. Pregnancy breast tenderness!? Or premenstrual breast tenderness. 

I hope hope hope that all of these signs are related to another baby joining our family, in a way we never thought one would. But unfortunately I know the drill. Almost all pregnancy symptoms are premenstrual symptoms. And so we wait.

on not being pregnant and the pill

I should have known not to get my hopes up when I thought I was pregnant in New York. It was only our second month of trying (and our first month was when I stopped taking the pill mid-cycle when Baby Fever hit), but it was still so hard.

See, with Lily, we went off the pill for three months before trying (and used other methods to not get pregnant) as we'd been encouraged to do that so the pill wouldn't still be in my system when we were trying. Partly because there was concern it could be bad for the baby if we did conceive asap and partly because it wouldn't reflect authentic "trying" since it could make it harder to conceive. Not sure how legit all of these concerns were, but we took the advice, and then conceived the 1st month we were trying (after the 3 months using other methods).

Between Lily and Oli I never went back on the pill. Probably obvious since I was pregnant with him when she was 4 months old. It's hard to know exactly how long it took to conceive him because my period postpartum was really light and I wasn't actually even sure I'd had a period yet (could have just been spotting, I figured). My best guess is that it took 1-2 months to conceive him.

In both cases, it was basically immediate, making the second month of trying for baby #3 challenging. I know most women try for many months, even years (!) before conceiving, and I dread the thought of seeming insensitive to them, but I can't deny that my heart hurt last month. To make matters worse, I had a lot of "symptoms" that made me think I was pregnant (oh how annoying it is that period and pregnancy symptoms are basically THE SAME), so when I got my period I was grieving big time. But God and Brad are both so good and gentle to me, and both lead me to joy and hope soon there after. Brad and I even watched Friends With Kids (crude but really fresh and interesting take on the classic prego-rom-com) that night and I wasn't overly sad even though I was watching people get pregnant. Good sign.

Which brings me to this month. The pill has now been out of my system for the recommended 3 months and it's our third month of trying for our third baby. I've done my best to chill out about expectations, and since this time I really have no phantom pregnancy symptoms, I'm assuming I'm not pregnant. We'll see.

One thing is for sure - I'm not positive the pill is to blame for the added challenge this time around, but I do wish I didn't go back on it between Oli and baby #3. I was so fearful (hello, idols!) of getting pregnant that I assumed I needed to take it, but after talking to a lot of friends who use non-hormonal contraception, I'm wishing I went that route.

Has anyone had a similar experience?


Written on September 20th - waiting + shopping

My week of fertility (so we think) has come and gone, and now all we can do is wait. Wait and shop, that is.

I'm not sure it's the wisest thing in the world - buying maternity clothes before conceiving - but I did it tonight. Both Gap and Old Navy have a fabulous maternity selection and both were having enormous sales. Both had discounts on their sale items (Old Navy - 15%, Gap - 25%), so clothes that were already grossly marked down were an additional discount. We're talking stylish maternity tops for $6, people. I had to.

In the back of mine and Brad's minds is the nagging thought that we may not conceive as easily the third time around. We weren't trying last month, but we weren't using protection, and we didn't get pregnant. With Lily and Oli, the second we were off the pill it seemed we were with child. But not this time. Which is not at all worrisome and I know it takes a few months minimum for most, but I'm a worrier. I worry. It's not good and I'm working on it. But in the back of my mind is that fear that I won't conceive quickly. And I just spent $80 on maternity clothes.

But hear me out. Both of my pregnancies (after 1 month of trying) had me in my third trimester in the heat of summer. I got by for the majority of winter and spring with the Bella band. Towards the very end of the cold weather I wore maternity jeans, and a couple tops, but mostly because they were novel and a tad more comfortable. This time, if I get pregnant this or next month (fingers crossed) I'll be my biggest in the spring, but definitely showing in the winter too. And I have no maternity clothes for cold weather. This sale was hard to pass up and I have birthday money to consider. So I went ahead and bought winter maternity clothes (most that can transition into other seasons and when I'm not preggers too) before being pregnant. I'm that girl.

I'm waiting to get pregnant. My heart is set on it. My wardrobe is ready (in 7-10 business days, thank you free shipping). But I'm not pregnant. Not yet.


written on September 13th... Officially Trying!

So guess what? We are trying to have a third baby.
WHAT!? I know. I never thought I'd type that either.

And as I write this, none of you know, because I'm less comfortable this time around, being so public with our intentions. ***things are now out in the open as of October 16th***

Part of me loves the secret. Not even our families saw it coming. Really, we didn't either. God moved and worked in our hearts in a very tangible way and both of us, nearly overnight, were very sure we were to have a third baby before adopting. I don't want to over-spiritualize it, but this is pretty darn close to God telling me something. Being more than obvious. Closing and opening doors. Moving hearts. Changing minds. Granting desire where there once was none.

You've read a bit about it here already.

What started as tacky baby fever (doing the quintessential act of sorting old baby clothes) began to shape and form our thoughts. Brad had been wavering on the vasectomy already. It would be so final. He wasn't 100% sure he didn't want more. But I thought I was. 

Then after exhaustive research (hard to do when most online documents for domestic adoption in Quebec are in French!), we were fairly certain we couldn't adopt in our current living situation anyway. We already have two kids in a bedroom with no choice but to add the adopted sibling to the mix. There are rules on this. There are also rules on an adopted sibling only sharing a bedroom with same gendered siblings. We just bought a 2 bedroom house and are absolutely unable to move for at least 3-4 years.

Did we want to wait 3-4+ years before starting the adoption process? Did we want to wait 4-5 years to add to our family? Absolutely not. Lily and Oli are so close and that's how we've always wanted it. 5 years before adding a sibling seemed intense and it wouldn't be an ideal for us. This realization came about at the exact same time (mere hours, really) as baby fever + vasectomy doubts. Everything was mounting.

We decided to take a week to seek hard after God on this. I asked a lot of my close girlfriends to pray for us. I spent hours journaling, pouring out my heart to God. What came out? Idols. Long lists of idols. I didn't know half of them had a hold on me, and was shocked that they were all major reasons that I didn't want a 3rd baby before adopting.

Comfort. Body image. Control.

We are passionate about adoption for a lot of right reasons, but I was also excited about adoption for some wrong reasons. It would give me control. I could choose age, I could choose gender (we weren't going to choose gender, but the option was there). I could start the process when I wanted to. It's no secret how much I dislike pregnancy and the early stages of having an infant. Adoption was my ticket out of that, while still giving me a child! Adoption seemed the perfect answer for me to get what I want, while still serving my idols, plus we were already passionate about it. Perfect, right? 

After seeing and confessing those major idols, many seemed to lack the hold they once had on me. I began to consider if I'd be willing to sacrifice my body once again to pregnancy and postpartum for another year. I began to consider if I'd be willing to endure pain, discomfort, challenge, exhaustion, stretch marks, all over again. There was a time not too long ago, that I imagined what I'd do if we accidentally got pregnant with a third baby. It was a horrifying thought. And probably a sign that I was holding much too tightly to something.

God seems to be closing the adoption door for the short term (at least until we move to a 3 bedroom), and at the exact same time, reigniting a desire in both Brad and I to have another baby. Despite everything. I can't explain this in the least, except that God did it.

And now? We are giddy. We can't wait. We are so excited to be trying - and trying starts THIS WEEK.

I believe God spared us from making the mistake of making adoption about us. We still feel called to adopt in the future, but I'm thankful we didn't start the process now - when all of the idols still held a place in my heart. When we adopt, it won't be because it's easier or the perfect solution to my myriade of first world problems.

I never ever ever thought we would have a 3rd baby. I claimed so surely that adoption was the next way (and the final way) we'd add to our family.

I'm beginning to see that God may have better plans.

Better, not because biological birth is better than adoption - heck no! Better because they're HIS plans for us. And not mine. 

Oli's Birth Story {part 4}

While Brad fumbled to contact our planned babysitter, I was starting to get excited. I knew I was going to meet my boy today, but had no idea what to expect. I'd heard with Lily that first babies are always on time or late, and that first babies generally take well over 12 hours to deliver. Lily was 8 days early, and born in 7 hours. So what did this mean for baby number two?

Erika was at a conference with no cell phone reception and after several calls and texts, we realized we needed to contact a back up ASAP. Thankfully another dear friend, Lindsay, was free and eager to help. She was at our house within 20 minutes, just in time for Erika to text me and say "I'm sorry! Do you need me to come over!?" haha. Lindsay held down the fort instead, so she was able to tell our friends who were also at the conference the exciting news and pray for us.

After giving a few instructions and tips to Lindsay, Brad raced to St. Marys just in time for them to break my water. Yes, my water had broken the night before, but not fully. Which explains the lack of contractions or additional fluid. After a huge GOOSH and tons more water I was in active labour within minutes. This was around 4pm and we were joking that Oli should hurry up so we could catch the 7pm Habs game. Little did we know, he was listening :)

I knew after enduring many hours of excruciating contractions with Lily that I wanted an epidural EARLY this time around. I didn't have the guilt or worry like I did last time, I was on a mission. Every nurse that came in I was like "don't forget the epidural!" even though my contractions were still tolerable. So when the doctor came in to give me the epidural we thought it was smooth sailing from here on out. By 6:30pm the contractions were getting very painful (but not as bad as I knew they get!) and my epidural was yet to set in. He said wait another ten minutes, but in the meantime the contractions were intolerably painful and I had dilated to 10cm. WHAT!? Yep. Second babies come fast. And epidurals don't always work.

I was panicking a great deal because I'd not mentally prepared to deliver Oli without pain relief. I've heard of friends who opt to go au natural, but they are also mentally preparing (especially with Hypobirthing) for weeks and even months before. I just kept crying out to Brad "why isn't it working?!" but of course I was too far gone for them to try a second time. This was very scarring to me and made the birth experience difficult. If the epidural worked, that would be been great. If I didn't get one, and experienced the pain, but planned for it, that would have been better than this. But not knowing you're going to experience such awful pain and then getting a big ol' SURPRISE at your most vulnerable was bad bad bad times.

Thankfully my OB was on call that night and she was wonderful. Same with my labour nurse who birthed 4 daughters in 5 years. She was such a friend to me during that time. She grieved with me that I was feeling unexpected pain, she voiced my emotions when I couldn't (think "I know this isn't fair Emily, but you are doing amazing!"), and cheered me on as I was pushing my heart out.  Highly encouraging people were all around me, which made the unplanned element less awful, but I'd still never go that route again.

Let me just say, birth is a gory affair. It's not pretty, even though it's beautiful. Having experienced child birth with the epidural and without, I'd go epidural, hands down, for our next baby. I can't even imagine choosing that pain! Yes, I survived, but gollllllllllllllly it hurt. And it didn't need to. Can you tell I'm still a little bruised by the whole thing? A little.

My OB was great at telling when I should push and when I should just let my body naturally move him out. It was like ten minutes of the most painful game of red light green light, but it helped me deliver Oli with no tearing which was great. And after ten minutes, there he was. My boy. She slid him right onto my chest and there he stayed for almost an hour. I stayed in the delivery room for near two hours, just cuddling, breastfeeding, bonding. In the end, of course, it was worth it and amazing.

a change of plans...

As many of you know, we love adoption. We love orphans and the Gospel and adoption. And they are all so intertwined in a beautiful web of loss and love and reunion and embracing and redefining. And we love it all. After Louisville and before New York we decided to look into beginning the domestic adoption process, through foster care here in Montreal (aka Banque Mixte adoption). Many of you have been reading along as we did this.

And we learned some hard things that would surely alter our ideal timeline to adopt. Namely, the square footage and number of rooms in our house were not adequate, as we already have two kids. Lily and Oli share a bedroom and the third child would join them. Perfect in our eyes, not so with the Powers That Be. But there was more. We began to very critically evaluate our life stage and if it was the best time. We are planting a church. Brad is pulling extremely long hours doing so. Our schedule is all over the map. Since we are planning to adopt at child above the age of 18 months, quality and quantity time are a must. You might be thinking, hey, ALL kids need that! And you're right. But toddlers are not babies. They are an around the clock affair, and not in a feeding and burping kind of way. They need face time and hands on, nonstop. Naps are not even a guarantee. And adopted children arguably need more time - to bond, to trust, to love  - than biological children/babies. This fact alongside our life stage didn't seem to mesh. Which we were beginning to learn may be irrelevant in our current home (that we bought just one year ago, and can't afford to sell + move for around 4+ years).

While this was a hard pill to swallow, it doesn't mean the adoption door is closed - just delayed. But when your one and two year olds are 15 months apart by choice, waiting five years to add to the family also isn't ideal. Moreover, as plans we changing, we were changing. Our hearts, in a huge way, were looking differently.

I was gung-ho about selling all of our baby stuff and Brad getting a vasectomy, while he was less enthused.  We'd agreed that Olivier would be our last biological baby, but it all seemed so final when push came to shove. So Brad, especially, was having a bit of a hard time with it all. Knowing that we couldn't begin the adoption process for four years was hard, even though we agreed now wasn't the best time considering our life stage. But the adoption door closing (temporarily) and my husband wavering weren't enough to sway me that we should have another baby. Not for a while, at least.

Then his friend had a baby. Even though we were "done" I'd kept everything from the kids to pass on to my sister when she has kids. I only donated the things that were heavily worn or that we didn't like. But recently I've become more minimalist so I was eager to go through the kid's baby clothes and donate more - perfect timing since Brad's friend and his girlfriend were hoping to receive some hand-me-downs. I eliminated their baby clothes by 50%, and in those short few hours got a serious case of baby fever. The itty bitty outfits are enough to make most people's hearts melt, so we laughed it off, but after many days I couldn't shake the desire to have another baby.

This was such a massive turn around from our previous disposition and plans, so we knew to test it. We decided not to talk about it for a week (hard for me since I verbally process and LOVE to talk), and instead spend that time consciously seeking God on the topic. It was a great week. I spent more time in prayer, journaling, and in the Word than in a long while. I spent more time just listening to God. Waiting for him to speak. Pleading my heart out to him, than I have in recent memory. It was really a beautiful time.

The end result was a lot of confession. Not what I was expecting! I was thinking God would basically give us a strong, deeply rooted desire one way or the other and that would be that. But he doesn't always work that way. And He is more concerned with out hearts than being a Magic 8 Ball.

During my times seeking God that week a lot of things kept coming to mind. Things that I hide in my heart that deep down I believe are more important than God and His plan for me. Things that I don't think I serve but my actions would show differently. They're called idols, and many came to the surface during that glorious week. In the ancient world, idols were usually statues - images made of iron or bronze that certain religions esteem as gods. But idols aren't just metal. They're anything you serve, esteem or seek above God. And mine were becoming very obvious as I considered having another baby.

Idols like comfort. I don't like being pregnant! I don't like sleepless nights! I don't like breastfeeding or giving birth! I'd rather be comfortable thankyouverymuch.

Idols like body image. I didn't like the eight long months it took to get back to my pre-baby weight. I don't like owning pants and bras in three different sizes because I never know what I'll fit into. I don't like stretch marks! I don't like looking like I've birthed two children, even though I have! I'd rather stop now that my body is back to decent shape, mk?

Idols like control. My life is predictable and manageable and some days, dare I say, easy. I don't like trying to get babies on a sleep schedule! I don't like the frazzled first few months when babies arrive! I don't like my life resembling chaos in the least bit. I'd rather have complete control, all the time, and my life + kitchen to be spotless, alright?

These idols were rampant in my heart, and have been for a long time. But since having just two kids was never our desire (we have always wanted at least three), adoption seemed like a perfect solution. We already had a heart for adoption, for orphans, for birth mothers, for the gospel. We wanted more kids but I definitely didn't want them at the expense of my idols, and adoption seemed the perfect answer. I know you're probably thinking "Emily! Adoption is going to take away a ton of control and comfort from your life!" and you're absolutely right. I'm not saying these thoughts were rational or legitimate or true, I'm just saying that's how I saw things at the time.

After many hours of confessing these things to God and talking things over (and over...) with Brad, we both realized that adoption wasn't right for us right now. And the right thing at the wrong time, for the wrong reasons, is the wrong thing. We also both realized that we wanted, without a doubt, another baby.

So here we are. Not pregnant. Not adopting. But on a different path for now. And we're giddy. We feel God's guidance in this SO firmly. I NEVER thought I'd be hoping and praying for a third baby. I mean, I listed our Baby Bjorn on Craigslist, people! I was calling the clinic to book Brad THE appointment! But here we stand.

But I do worry how this will all look. There are posts prepared on this topic that I've been writing for weeks and months. Weren't you passionate about adoption? Weren't you sure about adoption too? Shouldn't you follow through and trust God? These comments, with the right tone, make my stomach flip upside down. And sometimes, if I loose perspective, they make me feel very guilty, so please be tender with me and careful with what you ask, and how :)

The truth is, I'm as surprised as you are. The plan is, we are still adopting. This doesn't mean we aren't, it just means we're sure (and the laws are agreeing with this) that it's not the time, and that in the meantime, we're not done adding to our family. But this has taught me such a great deal about waiting on God and not being too quick to pronounce my future, because it's not my Story that's being written, it's His.  It's responsible to plan, but plans are not guarantees. And your plans - no matter how beautiful and holy they seem - if they're not what God wants for you, at this time, they're not best.