Children and Community

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Sharing stories is one way to create intimate bonds with others. As you listen to their words and unconsciously find your head nodding along strongly with each and every one, you come to find you are not alone in your stories, whether past or present. At one point or another, there is a comfort in knowing the two of you have shared the same footprints in that certain experience.

 

A dear friend recently shared with me in a text the following words, “praying for community for you”. Being just fresh off the hibernation train, I hadn’t really minded my time flying solo. Now though, the words resonated deep within and there was an urge to discover that community.

 

To find that kindredness in like minded friendships.

 

With new desires flooding my heart, I have come to a place that everything I once had wanted, even not that long ago, is no more. The things I had thought worked, didn’t for me any longer. Change was apparent, and trying to make sense of the newness in my life, brain and heart, I was unsure where to start in moving forward but to do the exact opposite of what I used to do.  

 

I want to be the first say, it’s okay to change. Change is healthy. Though I am finding I have to remind myself of those words, sometimes that change can be awkward.

 

The insecurity of walking fully into change is undeniable.

 

Following God’s lead, I walked myself into the children’s ministry office and asked to be put to use for the upcoming vbs. Not expecting the powerful outcome that was to come, I figured serving to be a great way to refocus my attention on things that really matter, and what better of a time to put myself out there than now. I had avidly dodged most social interaction during the pregnancy, but now it was time to change that. It was time to be part of a community. As the days leading up to it came and vbs went, the blessing of being surrounded by hearts that love Jesus came full circle. For so long I had desired this, but sadly when it came time, always seemed inconvenient to me and going back to what was comfy, simpler.

 

Who knew my world would be so rocked by this experience!

 

Reflecting back on this week, I can honestly say by making that choice, I am just in the beginning stages of the community God has in store for me. Not only were new and dear friendships sparked, but I got to be part of blessing over 300 children, or should I say, the reality was them who blessed me. Watching them interact with the pureness of life and friendship they freely gave one another helped me admire God’s beauty on a greater scale. Children are an absolute wellspring of joy, simplifying life to exactly what it should be, loving Jesus, loving each other, and fearlessly embracing the changing times.
With love, I pray you too find community and the beautiful childlike spirit just waiting to burst out.

 

“Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is! I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands.”  Isaiah 43:19

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Pen to Paper

Pen Paper Writing Blog

The blinking of the cursor on a blank document was something I had been looking at for days.

Multiple times I attempted to start writing another blog. For some reason though, I was stumped and sure had hoped I would never reach this hurdle. Writing out the adoption story had flowed so effortlessly, but this time starting was a struggle.

Where do I go from here? What could possibly be as amazing as what I had started with?

After that two week mark, everything slowly began to change. The adrenaline had faded, the story was written, and reality struck like lightning, fast and furious. It was probably a mix of accepting what life was now and that a new chapter had truly begun. Along with a dash of healing hormones, I felt my grip slipping on my emotions.

An irritating impatience began to creep in. Many times throughout the day, my prayers would be filled with asking for mental clarity, joy and a gentle and quiet spirit. The almost unrealistic peace I had experienced seemed to have vanished. My brain was in a fog. Home life was tense, car had broken down, a new college class been started and I had an 8th birthday to throw in a week, not to mention the hormonal waves that would express themselves randomly, there seemed to be utter turmoil stirring up within me.

I genuinely felt at a lost for words.

Survival mode. Ok. I’ve got this.

It wasn’t until one of my nightly walks I had taken and cried through shamelessly behind my sunglasses that I realized where I had yet again, humanly gone wrong. I obviously don’t have this. I, like Peter, had launched myself out in faith, took my eyes off Jesus and in a split second, began to sink.

A quote by Beth Moore had put these past two weeks perfectly into perspective, “The path to peace is paved with knee prints.”

It was not my duty to worry about the words. It was my duty to pray. It was my duty to give it all to God. It was my duty to make peace with my family. To humble myself, borrow the $1100 dollars from my dad, and get my car fixed. To give my very best effort in school, throw an awesome party for Noah and simply be content with the now.

Ugh! FINE!

Just kidding. I humorously envisioned myself in the presence of God having the nerve to respond with a scrunch of my nose and a stomp of my foot like I really knew better. It was though with a big sigh that I came to terms with the fact that the only thing I was to do now, was to continue to let go and let God. A gentle whisper instilled three words, pen to paper.

It was time to write.

Not that the stories would be anything like the adoption story. Or, even be as easy to write about. It was God nudging me to simply write. To follow His lead. To be real. To continue putting the words He gave me out there.

When faced with the wide variety of days life likes to dish out, there is a certain healthiness to search out ways to make sense of them. My secret weapon, besides God of course, has been writing. Whether good or bad, male or female, writer or not, speaking the words to a phone, typing them, or going old school with a pen and paper, documenting what is in your brain exposes what is in your heart. It shapes a new reality, perspective and harvests a deeper understanding.

Revealing unexpected truth, it brings nothing but a sweet gift of relief.

Starting my journaling at the age of eight, most of my first journals explained, in great detail might I add, what happened throughout that day or week. Then, over the course of the years, my writing began to develop into an outlet. Almost like a savory conversation with a dear friend, a bond had been created. Writing slows down time, allowing me the chance to breathe and think while shifting what seems to be a discombobulated brain into balance .

I find I write my way to peace. Paired with a good cry at times, my heart pours itself out, in joy or sorrow, my brain reboots and moving forward is only made easier.

Psalms 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God.” Because most humans fight stillness, or have been programmed to categorize being still as too much work, time and energy to get to, there is a missed opportunity of experiencing a peace that surpasses understanding. Personally, brain emptying in yoga or zoning out on tv don’t seem to be real sources of stillness, but one of many quick bandaids. To discover one that fills the soul with rest, the brain with clarity and gives real relief to the heart, take the chance to get to know yourself on a deeper, sometimes scarier level.

Write when you’re mad. Vent when you’re angry. Write to the person that hurt you, tell them why, then throw out the letter. Write about your day or something that stood out in the week. Document your vacation. Note on your day planner what you remember in a dream or a line from a movie. Write what you’re thankful for. Or jot down a bucket list. Write about writing. Write whatever comes to mind, unfiltered. Don’t write though if it feels like a task, or pressure yourself into it, but find time, whether 5 minutes or 5 hours, once a week or once a day, devote them to experience a time of stillness in writing. Allow yourself the opportunity to get to know who you really are from the inside out.

Through being still you bridge the gap between you and God. Through writing, you better understand why you operate the way you do. Put the two together and discover not only a wellspring of unexplainable peace, but a sweet relief to all that’s been building inside.

 

 

“May the Lord bring good to you and keep you. May the Lord make His face shine upon you, and be kind to you. May the Lord show favor to you, and give you peace.” Numbers 6:24-26

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Postpartum Healing

Postpartum Healing Baby Lincoln Adoption

 

Following that amazing hour after Lincoln’s delivery, Jonathan and Kristen were given a room across the hall from my postpartum room. Before parting paths, we agreed not to leave each other out on visiting family members.

 

Shari asked if I was able to stand, and using her as a support we got me to the bathroom and then to the wheelchair for the move over to postpartum around 3:00 pm.

 

I felt strong. Slow, but strong for the most part. I was on a mental and spiritual high, and physically still had some adrenaline pumping. Exhaustion hadn’t really kicked into gear yet, but hunger had. Following that pudding earlier, I had eaten some of my spaghetti and meatballs, mostly the bomb turkey meatballs, but wasn’t too interested in any other food until now though, I felt starved. One of our ICA workers made sure to get me a smoothie, which is becoming quite my personal trend after pushing out a baby. (After Noah, I begged his dad to sneak me in a smoothie. It was all I wanted and could think about but due to complications, was limited to an ice chips only diet. With my nazi nurse keeping a close eye on me, a sneaky plan of attack to keep it in front of him and not me would have worked if I had not spilled it all over my bed! I demanded he take the blame and he begrudgingly did. Thankfully this smoothie experience was without spills and happily enjoyed!)

 

After getting me into my postpartum room, which fit me and my momma perfectly, we began to set up shop. She reorganized to make one of the pull out beds for herself fit snugly next to my bed and we finally got the chance to take in what had transpired. We snacked on some pastries and discussed how incredible the experience had been. My mom continued to mention that this wasn’t just a God thing, it was a miracle that had taken place.  

 

Kristen, her sister, adorable nephew and sweet little Lucy swung by for a visit awhile later. It was awesome and only the beginning to meeting the beautiful family members that not only had prayed for this baby to come, but now would be surrounding him as his family for the rest of his life.

 

Intermittently, my nurse would come in to check my vitals, bring motrin or give the dreaded fundal massage, which aids in controlling bleeding and shrinking the uterus. I don’t remember this with Noah, but I guess for proper healing to take place, it must be done every couple hours and is simply uncomfortable. Going to the bathroom was a two man job, though my bleeding seemed to really slow down quickly, the process took my mom’s help for the most part and my muscles were still regaining their strength.

 

Kristen shot me a text  that Jonathan’s sister was there with her husband and son, and would love to meet me if I was up for it. Heck yes! I  just needed to get the clear from my nurse and was there. Once cleared to go, we headed over to meet them and enjoyed yet another great time of visiting.

 

Calling it an early night, we watched a little tv while eating our patti melts then hit the hay. My mom seemed to sleep soundly and I got a good amount of sleep between the every two hour check ups from my nurse. Around 4 am, a nurse came in to draw my blood and not being a big fan of getting my blood drawn, or needles in general, I took advantage of being half asleep and turned my head to the other side drowsily. It was absolutely the best way to get blood drawn for any needle-phobic out there.

Baby Lincoln Adoption Postpartum

I woke up about 6 am and because my mom was still sleeping, started scrolling through my instagram feed. Kristen had posted an adorable photo of a perfectly bundled Lincoln sleeping soundly, and the photo along with the sweet words under it brought tears to my eyes. It was the first wave of emotions that hit me like a ton of bricks.

 

I can’t explain the exact feeling or pinpoint why I was crying, but as silently as possible, I sobbed my heart out.

 

Kristen, almost reading my brain, texted to make sure it was okay she had posted the photo. I let her know the overwhelming feelings I was experiencing along with the joy and amazement of God’s hand throughout this experience.

 

I have always felt, and will continue to tell them that my heart trusts and knows they are guided by God and whatever they do, I am ok with. Our social workers have always told us how sensitive we were to one another and with God as our lead, there has been nothing but beautiful responses to each other’s words and actions. Pretty profound relationship to be honest.

 

My mom and I started out our morning with coffee and a bible reading that lead to more tears of reflection on God’s grace and glory. There was something about those sweet hours with my mom as she read Psalms 33 to me. I was still holding up pretty tough emotionally besides my early morning meltdown, but she cracked at the words she read.

 

 

I decided it was time to get ready and take a step towards feeling normal again. I put on my makeup, freshened up and changed back into my summer dress I had come in. Coping wise, I felt back to Caitlin. Next, was to visit Lincoln. I craved to see him, to look at him, touch him, which I feel is only natural after delivering a baby, and couldn’t imagine a situation that wasn’t as open as ours, allowing me the freedom to do so.

Postpartum Baby Lincoln Adoption

 

 

I had woken up feeling pretty yucky and sore bodywise though. I couldn’t really stand up straight and my back was feeling where that epidural had gone in. I was also experiencing a lot of pain in my stomach area, mostly cramping, so I waited until I got my pain meds and we headed over to have our Jonathan, Kristen and Lincoln fix while we enjoyed breakfast.

Postpartum Baby Lincoln Adoption

Jonathan’s parents and youngest sister came to visit, followed by a later visit from Kristen’s mom, who brought Lucy and a family friend. My grandma and Aunt also came at that time and the day was spent surrounded in family and fellowship. It really couldn’t have been more perfect. Feeling left out, Kristen’s dad sent me a video introducing himself and the two youngest grandbabies next to Lincoln. Getting to experience the family this child will be raised in and around is mind blowing. Words cannot express how blessed this child will be. The love shown to me and my family by each and every individual we met was so amazing that I can’t even imagine what he is going to get to experience!

 

My mom and I headed back to our room in hopes to get me checked out before it was too late, but there was no way they were letting me go that day and ended up keeping both Lincoln and I an extra day.  

I convinced my mom that she should go home, shower and rest. Then, since Lincoln and I were both having to stay that extra night, she could bring Noah back for a visit when she picks me up in the morning. She finally agreed, and after eating dinner with Jonathan, Kristen and I headed out.

 

There really was no quiet minute I had spent by myself so I took advantage of this opportunity to excitedly write out the birth story while it was fresh in my brain. I had my Holy Spirit Pandora station playing, the tv on and bounced from writing to watching to scrolling through Instagram. I wasn’t visited by a nurse, unless I called or it was time to be given medications which allowed for a peaceful, uninterrupted time of great writing.

 

Periodically I would check the time on my cockeyed clock hanging on the wall across from my bed and spent my time soaking in the thoughts that came with recalling all the moments that built the story.  It wasn’t until around 11:30 I stopped writing, set my phone aside and turned off the lights to go to sleep.

 

BAM! It was like my emotions had waited until that exact moment to flood themselves into my heart and mind.

 

They came with such force and broke me to the core. Weeping, I turned back on my radio and wrote through the tears.  

 

One truly does not understand the word bittersweet until experienced. That second night alone in the hospital really tore my heart out. The waves of emotion that presented themselves were defiantly nine months worth and then some. Not that regret or resentment played a role, but a sweet and painful breaking of my heart made tears that endlessly poured for hours. I would weave between catching breath and reminding myself that God had allowed my heart to feel and heal for the night and that joy would come in the morning.

 

To heal there must be pain.

 

I had finally come full circle in this process and was truly experiencing the crux. I didn’t hold back, well, probably because I couldn’t.

 

I allowed myself the vulnerable freedom to feel completely.

 

I do have to admit I wanted it to be over, I wanted my family, I wanted my Noah and to be surrounded in love. Every cascading, majestic mountaintop must have a valley to accentuate it’s glory. I had made it up, enjoyed the beautiful peak and had now reached the lowest part of the valley to finish this chapter.

 

I was being shaped for sure. It takes my breath away just thinking about it.

 

As one of the most heaviest moments of my life, I have new respect for God, and what His heart must have felt when He gave the world his only son and watched him hang on that cross. When you place your baby, you don’t think or prepare that a certain type of grieving takes place and that your heart, no matter how strong and solid you are in your decision, must break to move forward towards a better life.

 

God changed me that night. He softened my heart and strengthened my mind. He comforted and saturated me in His presence. He made it obvious He was holding me through this and that I had reached the end of myself.

 

I had titled the piece of writing, RAW.jpeg since it was the rawest picture of myself God has ever brought me to.

 

In the midst of the flood of tears, Gaile had sent a text with a link to the photo album of Lincoln’s birth she had just finished editing and posted. Sobbing, I got through about half the photos and had to praise God that He had orchestrated such a powerful experience. From ICA to Jonathan and Kristen to my new job, school, the nurses, the labor and delivery. There wasn’t one moment I would change. God was real. He was showing me He was. Through the second wave of tears, I continued to pray, praise and thank Him.

 

It did feel forever before I finally fell asleep but when I did, I slept good and though I woke up with puffy eyes, there was joy in heart and I felt renewed. God was good. As painful as it was, it was needed and it needed to happen when I was alone. It needed to be raw and real. It was part of my recovery.

 

Jonathan ran to grab breakfast while Kristen and I enjoyed our few last moments of “dorm life” as Kristen called it.

 

Today was the day we got to all go home, so we parted ways to pack up. Seeing Noah walk through my door was the best part of that day. As we walked to see Lincoln, I could feel Noah’s excitement building. Kristen had asked earlier if there was anything important she should say to Noah when he came. I shared how he really didn’t want to loose his role as a big brother and from the moment she set Lincoln on him, both her and Jonathan  showered him with so much love and support affirming his role as a big brother. I nervously kept checking to make sure he felt comfortable holding him and he had no interest of stopping. He loved him and was so stoked to be there and have him in his arms. It was pretty amazing to watch.

Postpartum Baby Lincoln Adoption Postpartum Baby Lincoln Adoption Noah

We kissed Lincoln goodbye, gave our rounds of hugs and said, “see you later.”

 

On our way out of the hospital, we ran into Nancy, the nurse that admitted me into triage. Funny how she began and ended my hospital visit there. We stopped to chat and she let me know she kept coming to check on me throughout my progress and made it a point to give me a big hug and write my blog down.

 

We stopped by Panera for lunch and I FINALLY got my cherry pie, well it was really a danish, but close enough! On our way home, I felt every bump and was still pretty tender and sore when sitting and still moved slowly when walking. Right when we got home, my mom helped me get into the shower and I have to say, it was one of the best showers of my life. My recommendation for after delivery is a Costco size replenishment of Dermoplast and Witch Hazel pads. Besides that life changing shower, a nice, comfy pair of unattractive underwear, those two life savers will set anyone up for a happy recovery.

 

Postpartum Recovery AdoptionI had boughten a Bellefit postpartum girdle to help with my body deswelling and hopefully regain my figure faster. Unfortunately, it didn’t fit those first few days but with my mom’s help, me laying on my bed and lots of laughs, we got me into it by day four. My milk didn’t come in until the third day but we had started my binding the day before.

 

I looked and felt like I was bursting at the seams from every direction and had so many dang layers constricting my body I could barely breath. When my milk did come it, it came with a vengeance. My chest was rock solid. I probably could’ve fed a village! For about a week straight I was layering cabbage leaves, sports bra and binding on one another to stop the milk production. The cabbage leaves I think were the miracle workers. I was going through almost a whole cabbage in a day and half and had gotten it down to a science. Breaking the cabbage leaves off so they stay in a cup like form was the hardest part but once you rinse the leaves, wet paper towels to put in between each leaf and refrigerate them, they provided the best relief. The binding did help keep the pressure more bearable. I did have to continue taking my Motrin since it was hard to sleep and at times just painful. Leaking was pretty minimal since the only time any part of my body saw the light of day was to shower and then it was back to the daily bind.

 

 

Noah kept me pretty busy throughout the past two weeks and I don’t how I could have done it without him by my side. Since I was unable to drive for this time, my mom made it a point to always offer and kept my stockpile of daily needs replenished and available.

 

Postpartum Baby Lincoln Adoption

 

Kristen has been sending me Lincoln and family updates every couple of days and Noah and I sent Lincoln a one week happy birthday video. Keeping the communication has been a huge blessing and has helped Noah and I bond as we both ooh and aw over the pictures.

 

I did lay low the first week and now, hitting the official two week postpartum mark as of today, I am feeling really good both physically and mentally. Hormonally there has been a few up and downs, but keeping the right mindset and apologizing for when it becomes irritation helps keep me in check.

 

This last Thursday, I met our ICA workers at Marie Calendars for breakfast to officially sign off my rights. The state documents that had to be read to me were strictly legal. The terminology would say my baby, not the baby and straight up made you feel like you didn’t care about the baby, not that you wanted the best for the baby you were placing. At first, it was like a stab each time a statement was read. The emotions that came after that meeting were heavy and it took a couple days to reset my mind but, through the constant support and love from God, my family, friends and Jonathan and Kristen I have been given a new song in my heart.

 

I know, without a doubt, Lincoln is exactly where he should be. God knew, before the beginning of time, his parents were Jonathan and Kristen Whitmore. He knew I was to be the vessel, and that this precious little boy was the key to a life changing story.

Postpartum Baby Lincoln Adoption

 

 

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