Childbirth After Adoption

18 years ago, I made a very painful decision: After having a baby completely too young and struggling with many things, including providing, I decided to give my baby girl up for adoption. She was almost a year old and it was a family situation with a relative who, along with her husband, was having fertility issues. I won’t go too much into that because that part is not my story to tell, but mentioning it is relevant. The adoption process was pretty quick and (on the surface) painless, and she got a new life being the only child of a very devoted mother and solid father, something I wouldn’t have been able to give her for a very long time. While I quite frequently wonder what if, I do not regret the action in and of itself.

Flash forward to now: Stable marriage, stable home. Our decision to start a family was honestly not an easy one, mostly because of my past. There was a part of me that didn’t think that I deserved happiness with a family because I “squandered” away my chances when I was younger. Throughout this entire gestation and family planning process I’ve had so many doubts and fears because of the way things went before. In my head I know I’m older, wiser, and overall more stable and things won’t be the same. It’s hard to rationalize that though when you’re worrying about everything from so many different angles. It’s a struggle.

With every day that passes I wonder what life could’ve been like had I actually gotten my stuff together years ago .. but I wouldn’t be where I am now, so I suppose there’d be a trade off. And right now I’m happy. I guess there’s no real point to any of this except musing. And lamenting that I always second guess myself now. I have faith that it’ll be ok though!

Where My Head’s At

I didn’t know my mother.

Let me clarify. I knew her – I knew who she was, what her name was, even had a cursory relationship with her but I didn’t know her. Truth be told, it didn’t really even bother me that much until my mother’s funeral this summer. The preacher who was doing mother’s eulogy came up to me and my two siblings and asked us to tell him more about her. I felt bad for a fleeting moment that the only thing I could contribute was “she loved animals.” This was true. My mother bred dogs and horses for as long as I can remember and even worked managing a petsmart type store for many years. However besides that superficial fact? I couldn’t tell him anything. Nothing positive, anyway. It just didn’t seem like it would be a fitting place for “Brick House was her self proclaimed theme song. Can we have that at the funeral?”

I made jokes. I kept it light-hearted and it was for my own protection. I couldn’t really let myself get involved at this near-stranger’s funeral. I was there for my siblings, I was there for my grandfather. I was not there for my mother. The reality of that setting in has unsettled me in a lot of ways. I think being pregnant and so aware of the tiny life I’m about to have to mold in my own hands made it even worse to think of.

I was raised by my grandparents. Both of my parents were too young to have children – my father, the traveling touring musician and my mother, just irresponsible – so the responsibility fell upon her parents. I was loved fiercely and completely and never wanted for anything. My mother remarried not too long after she left my father and had two more children, my half brother and sister. My stepfather was a total monster and I barely had any interaction with any of them because of it. When I was nine years old, my grandmother was feeling poorly with back issues and just being too old to chase after a child my age. My mother promised to come get me by the end of Christmas break to move in with her. I didn’t see her for years and I might not ever have seen her again if she hadn’t run into my aunt at a horse sale my freshman year of high school.

So here I am, a young adult in my own right, forced to have a relationship with someone who obviously didn’t want to have one with me. It was awkward and honestly I felt like I had absolutely no choice in the matter. I enjoyed getting to know my brother and sister again. I lived with them for a semester in high school. It was both good and bad. It was great to have siblings and be around them on a daily basis, but it was tough with the parental guidance. In order to better pursue academic and musical interests, I found myself back with my grandparents.

My grandmother died when I was 19 and it was the hardest thing I had ever experienced. That was my mother, the woman who raised me and taught me things. And she was gone. And my mother couldn’t bother to be there for me. She wasn’t there for anyone. Even after that and on into adulthood I kept in touch with my mother, usually by email or quick message here and there though the years. I saw her once in my adult life (I say adult as in over 21) until she fell ill. She moved back to our hometown and my aunt became her main caretaker. Then she started to cling to her children, wanting us to come visit (I lived 13+ hours away at that time) and when I did come home just putting so much guilt on me to spend as much time there as possible that I just didn’t even want to spend any time at home at all.

My mother and I never resolved our issues. I never sat her down and asked why she felt it was ok to abandon her child at a young age. I never sat down with her and demanded explanations of how she can love my siblings so much more. I couldn’t even share happy times with her. I remember the months and days leading up to mine and Clayton’s wedding she kept telling me I still had time – I could call it all off. I would never be happy, etc. I let it blow into one ear and out the other. After all, she wasn’t coming and she had no plans to. Just earlier this year when I told her about our wishes to try to conceive, she thought I was crazy. Told me that having kids was the worst thing that could happen to a woman and why would I want to disrupt my life? (that’s a great thing to say to your oldest child, by the way). When we were pregnant I told her, overjoyed. I didn’t even remember really what she’d said until she acted so in shock. “Why would you do that? I thought you were kidding. Why would you ruin your life?” And more lamentations that my life was over and mourning something that I wasn’t going to miss. It was at that point that I had decided contact with my mother was toxic and needed to be limited. And of course, I never saw her again because she suddenly passed this summer.

I didn’t make it home before she passed. There was a day and a half of notice before it happened. My sister was there, but my brother hadn’t made it either. We were all expected to pay for my mother’s final expenses in thirds even though she was hardly a mother to me. I was expected to be a great daughter and handle everything because I was the oldest. I was expected to smile and go along with whatever when all I really wanted to do was be anywhere else. It wasn’t fair. Not to me, not to my siblings, not to anyone. My mother was not a great person. I will not pretend she was just because she passed.

A couple months have passed (and this is really the reason I’ve not felt like writing much. I’ve been in my own head, concerned with this, the baby, my husband’s new Canada assignment, our upcoming move and other things sapping my energy and my creativity) but a post I was reading on babycenter the other night really just kind of brought this issue to the forefront and I felt like I needed to talk about it. I feel better now, and I will try to write with more frequency. The next post will be a baby update, I promise.

It’s Been Over Two Weeks . . .

I promised to keep on myself for at the very least posting a Wednesday Gratitude every Wednesday no matter what. Then July happened.

On June 30, my husband came home from his very last offshore hitch. He will be starting rotations in Canada as I may have mentioned before which is both cool and scary at the same time. I was super excited to see him, but that was short-lived as he picked up the stomach bug that I had a few days prior that left me feeling grosser than gross. It hit him way harder. After a day of 101.4 fever and him developing worse symptoms, I took him to urgent care so that he could be seen. Out of all his symptoms they tunnel visioned on chest pains and ended up doing an EKG that was abnormal and resulted to him being sent to the ER in an ambulance. The EKG was also abnormal there, but as he was fine otherwise and was having no signs of anything heart related (including full bloodwork done) he was sent home with instructions to follow up with an electrocardiologist as soon as possible.

The next day, my mother died. It was really sudden. She went into the ER Monday (the day my husband came home) and was in hospice by that night, so three days later she was gone. What this meant for us was that we had to leave directly after my normal doctor appointments on Thursday and make a 14 hour drive to Tennessee. We got there around 8 am that Friday morning, the funeral visitation was at 10 am, the memorial at 1 and after a night’s rest and evening spent catching up with my family we were back on the road towards home Saturday morning. We got back in the wee hours late Saturday night. It was a lot to go through, especially while pregnant, but I’m just glad it was still early so I felt like travel and could do it safely.

I thought things were going to settle down and they did for a little while. The only problems I seemed to have were that I couldn’t keep my blood sugar high and stable enough during parts of the day, so I’ve been working with my doctor to work on that.

Clayton’s been pursuing figuring out what was wrong with his body and this past week we finally got some answers which posed more questions. The electrocardiologist said that Clayton does show the brugada syndrome pattern in his ekg from the hospital and the urgent care but that does not necessarily mean he has the syndrome. He’s going to have a test done but unfortunately it only has a 70% detection rate or so – so, if it comes up positive we will go straight to a pacemaker if I am correct in what I understood. If it is negative, we have three options. option 1 is do nothing and avoid medications that might kill him. Option 2 is put a chip in that may or may not tell when his heart is acting up. Option 3 is go into the hospital and aggressively test. Purposely take the meds that basically would set up a heart attack and if it shows up get a pacemaker.

Brugada syndrome is called the “Widow maker” because it has no warning usually before someone just drops dead from it. The pattern in the heart was detected on those EKG’s probably because he’d been suffering from a fever the day before and the timing was just great. I’m gonna thank God for that one because otherwise, if this is what we’re dealing with, something terrible could’ve happened. We are pretty sure if this test turns out negative we’ll go with option number 2 and just hope that it works. 3 is too terrifying for me to even consider, because even if he’s in a hospital what if they can’t revive him and something goes wrong? No thank you.

Lastly, today I about broke my arm. Slammed it into a heavy door that was swinging towards me and the hard metal handle cracked me right in the arm. There’s a ginormous knot and it looks pretty ugly but it is not fractured which is a good thing. I’ll take small miracles right now. Saturday Clayton leaves for driving training and his little sister comes to visit for a week. I will try to get back on track this coming Wednesday, but with her here who knows? It won’t be two weeks though, I can promise that. I know it sounds like a clusterbuck I’ve been through lately and while it has been, I am keeping positive and keeping happy. Life is good.

Wednesday Gratitude

pregnancy blog
because who doesn’t like a little Dean Winchester?

On my friend Katie’s ranch life blog she has been posting things she’s grateful for on Wednesday and has challenged others to do it as well. It came at a weird time for me because I was thinking about the direction of this blog myself and how when I originally started it I felt like I’d have all these insightful things to say while being pregnant because obviously I’m the only woman ever to be pregnant and go through the experience I am in the history of time ever … right? Not so much. I could fill up posts and posts about morning sickness and bloating, about how every little smell of anything sets me off, and of course I’m sure I’ll still be spouting off some of that (though some of my first trimester symptoms are dying down thankfully). I don’t want to be a complainer. This pregnancy is a gift and one that I prayed for quite a bit, and I want to be positive and happy and promote peace and energy. So I think a Wednesday gratitude post is the perfect thing for me. It reminds me that no matter how stressful life might be at any given time there are great things that I should be thankful for – and well, all of us need a reminder of that sometimes.

1. My Church Family

I’ve said it before but I really, really feel connected to my church home. I was telling a friend yesterday that if you had told me a year ago I’d be finding comfort in a giant church with six campuses and tens of thousands of members, I’d have laughed at you. That being said, I was convinced the first time I visited that Second Baptist was the church I wanted to be a part of. I have never really regretted that decision too. Everyone is nice and kind and genuine. I am especially thankful for my church orchestra. It not only gives me an outlet for creative expression, it gives me a way to serve and be connected and meet other people. I not only have a good time but I leave every time feeling good. And sometimes there’s cupcakes. Cupcakes are great for pregnant women.

2. My Sweet Husband and Doggies

My family here at home right now consists of me, my husband, and two sweet dogs – westies, or west highland white terriers. With their powers combined they make my days brighter and fill my heart with more love than I ever thought possible. Ivy, the female is definitely a daddy’s girl. She shadows Clayton wherever he goes and loves to sit in his lap and will pester him when he does. My Einstein though, my slow chubby boy.. that’s a mama’s boy through and through. He could literally spend all day snuggling me on the couch if I’d let us. And what can I say about my handsome amazing husband? He takes care of me and that is a tall order. I’m stubborn and sometimes forget to take care of myself because I’m busy with everyone else. He’s my voice of reason and he keeps me grounded and calm when I need it. I can always count on him for anything and vice versa. I really am a happy camper whenever he’s home!

3. Working From Home

I’ve had to slow down a little bit since being pregnant, but working at home is the best. I can stop to be sick if I need to be. I can work while lounging on the couch and binge watching Parenthood. I can take my work wherever with me (and it’s survived countless moves and lifestyle changes). It will continue to allow me to be at home with our child and not have babysitters involved, while being available to my husband when he needs me or when he’s home and spending plenty of time with family. Creating websites and graphics also gives me yet another creative outlet which is something that keeps me calm, sane and happy – so everyone wins!

So what are you thankful for? I challenge you to at least think about it once a week, and I am sure the world won’t look so bad.

Wonderland of Emotions

Pregnant emotions are like a roller coaster. When they’re good, they’re great. It’s like gleefully soaring and glowing and everything you read about and watch on tv. The low points? The low points are terrible. And it’s been pretty low the last couple of days. I’ve been quite stressed over some very heavy stuff (not relationship related, of course, because that’s just near perfect). It’s the kind of stuff that keeps one up at night. I should know better than to worry like I do, but unfortunately I haven’t been able to take my anxiety medicine because it’s not baby safe. It just amplifies every little concern I have. I know that if you pray about it and give it up it’s going to be ok, and that proved itself to be true today. The worries I had were all taken care of and I am able to relax, because let’s face it – worrying and stress is bad for baby.

I’m thankful for living in the area that I do and going to the church that I do. Having friends and family around makes all the difference in the world and having the loving supporting family that is our church home has been a bigger comfort than I had even imagined. Their love and support made me sob like a little baby in a good way. While my emotions are insane, I am appreciative of every little feeling I feel. It means I’m pregnant and happy. I have a week until another round of doctor’s appointments. I see my Maternal Fetal Medicine (high risk) doctor, Dr. Earhart, Thursday morning and then my regular ob/gyn Dr. Zhavala that afternoon. I am anxious to see that everything is coming along well.

My husband continues to be a pillar of strength and the biggest helper I could have. While I know that him going back offshore would be a monetary help right now with the cutbacks his job made, I do have to admit that I’m happy to have him here for next week’s appointments. It’ll be a comfort not having to be alone.

This is an endeavor and not every minute is going to be perfect. Fortunately, I have a great support system and everything is going to be just fine. My faith is strong.

Playing the Waiting Game

This whole process of bringing a baby into the world has been one exercise in patience. For someone who doesn’t have a large supply of said virtue, it’s been also a very very big humbling learning experience. For instance, when we had that yes-oh-wait-nope moment at the first of the year, I was really dejected and discouraged because this wasn’t happening on my time. I knew that my clock was winding down and there was a cut off for the time I wanted to get pregnant, mostly because I wanted things the way I wanted them. When it took a while to get regular on my cycle, I was worried that it might not happen at all. Then that fixed itself and I went back to obsessively planning on how to make this happen. That first month, my husband went offshore literally the day that I ovulated. I knew there was still a slight chance as they say the swimmers can live in your body for some time, but then I got my lady time like clockwork the next month.

That month that followed was a bit obsessive for me. I’d check my ovulation daily with the tester, and then when I finally got a smiley face I was doing all these things to promote not only conception, but conception of a girl. Anything I read on the internet was fair game. I tried a lot of things. Well, the pregnancy stuck but we still have yet to find out what we’re having. It was actually pretty funny and the way I found out was a good lesson in obedience for me. I had taken a few tests that had shown up negative, and it was the day before I was due to have lady times again. I sat there as I wanted for it to turn and just prayed, “Lord I know this is going to be on your time, when you think I’m ready for it, so whatever your will is, I’ll take that and keep on going.” That positive sign was just .. I don’t know. The time I had there with God before the test turned was something I’ll likely never forget. It’s just another testament to the fact that He truly is faithful and good, in all ways.

This is the part where the waiting is killing me. I want to know so badly what we’re having, and June 4 can’t come fast enough. We have an appointment with the genetic counselor to talk about the blood testing options and I know I won’t get those results immediately, at least I’ll get the ball rolling and within the next week to week and a half after that I should know something. Still, it’s hard for me. I want to start addressing my baby by name, but don’t know which one to call him or her yet. I want to start making things and setting up the baby room, but I can’t of course until I know.

Trying to decide on whether or not to have a gender reveal party. While it would be super fun, I think I’d want to know before hand what it was because I just couldn’t wait that long. It might still fun for friends and family though. I don’t know. That’s still up in the air. Anyway, enough ramblings from an impatient pregnant woman tonight.

Trudging on Along

pregnancy blog

I am 9 weeks and a few days pregnant now. It’s insane how it feels like time is creeping by right now and yet then again it’s not. I’m dealing with all the fun first trimester gripes: extreme fatigue, nausea and sickness (not just morning, because that’s a myth) and a chest so sore at times I wish I could just cut it off. I’ve had my first ultrasound and my new obgyn dated me at about a week behind what I’d thought for myself which puts my new due date at December 18. No big deal, really. I’ll still be scheduling a C-section before then so it’s all gravy. The ultrasound pic doesn’t look like much more than a blur but I am super excited that the heartbeat was strong and baby was healthy.

This is a new doctor for me. We’re new in town since last November so I was picking a new lady doctor as I’d just gotten all my yearly maintenance done in August back in Louisiana. At the beginning of the year I thought we’d actually gotten pregnant almost as soon as I’d gone off birth control, but it was a false alarm. The obgyn that I picked out was really rude and had 0 bedside manner at all. She told me all kinds of things like “Women like me” don’t ovulate and that I shouldn’t get pregnant even if I could. Fast forward to a few months later when we nailed it on the first try and I’m normal and healthy. Needless to say, I’m not using that doctor anymore.

Due to that terrifying appointment, I was really apprehensive when I met my new doctor. She was amazing! Listened to my questions, helped take care of any doubts, involved the husband in the whole process… it was awesome. I will be making an appointment this week to see a MFM high risk doctor, due to my age and diabetic status, and hopefully get some testing that lets me find out gender early because I am all about knowing what I’m going to have as soon as possible.

These are good times. The first trimester is kicking my behind but I’m dealing with it. I have an amazing protective and supportive husband that’s not letting me go at my normal pace and it’s nice that he worries. I am truly blessed in so many ways.

Our Fun Tennessee Trip

I am just now getting around to detailing our trip that happened a few weeks ago because of all the baby hububb that happened right after! Now I’ve got a handle on it and can at least give a rundown. It started when we packed ourselves, the dogs, and all the things we’d need for about a week in the jeep and headed north on Highway 59. Texas is a long drive if you are trying to get out of the state from Houston no matter what direction you are going (unless you’re heading to Louisiana, which is only a couple hours). We were going to cross into Arkansas with a first night destination in Little Rock, so we had quite a ways to go. The drive up was fairly uneventful and we made pretty good time, getting checked into our hotel a little before 6 PM. We had plans to have dinner and visit with some friends that we’ve played World of Warcraft with for ages, so that was on the agenda. We all met at Texas Roadhouse and had mediocre steaks and appetizers. While the food was fairly disappointing, the friendship and conversation was not. I’m glad we got to spend that time and meet people we’ve been knowing for over five years. I had a good time and hope to get that way to see them again.

The hotel was okay – the rest was fine, though I woke up at 8 am and couldn’t sleep so I decided to pack up the car and get on the road, letting Clayton sleep a little more before it was his turn to drive. We stopped somewhere on the other side of Memphis at a Dunkin Donuts, much to my husband’s happy surprise! We got him a half dozen of donuts and me some coffee, let the dogs potty and switched drivers. He drove the rest of the way to Murfreesboro, TN where we found our hotel and checked in. It was a Motel 6 which was very convenient to everything so that was nice. The bed was a queen sized bed, which in hindsight I wouldn’t do again with all of us there. Other than that? Besides a really weird cramped shower the stay there wasn’t too bad. Saturday evening we stopped and visited with my grandparents and then my mother, stopping by the most iconic Mexican restaurant in Lebanon, Los Compadres. After that we met up with a high school friend of mine and her husband for drinks and a little accoustic live music. It was fun and they invited us to church with them the next morning, which we took them up on. After that it was a trip to Cookeville, TN to visit with my aunts and uncles and family.

My dad, his wife, and my aunts and uncles that were there

I was a little bit nervous about this because I am quite outspoken in my views, both social and political and it does not always match up with those of the rest of my extended family. It went very well and the dinner was fantastic. After we’d all eaten my sweet Aunt Dianna brought out her upright bass, and my uncle Terry Shayne grabbed his guitar and we had a little pick-fest. I really enjoyed the time and it seemed like it went too fast. But we weren’t done with the day! It was then off to my brother and his wife’s new house, which was gorgeous. The paint colors in the interior were just gorgeous. I approve. The dogs got to play with their little pup cousin and they had a blast. My brother makes the most fantastic chicken and dumplings around (maybe one day he’ll let me post the recipe) and we hung around until it was time to go home, relax, and get some good rest.

I think that’s enough for one post – Monday – Wednesday will be in yet another one!

It’s Time!

I had expected the next post (or actually multiple posts, to be honest) to be about our fun trip to
Tennessee to spend time with my friends and family, but something wonderful happened in the interim. This weekend, Easter weekend specifically, I took a home pregnancy test that read a faint positive. Being worried because I’d had a fake positive before, I took two more that day and one more today. I am definitely pregnant! Baby Estepp will be arriving sometime around December 11, 2015 and we are so excited! I cannot wait to meet this little miracle peanut inside me and even more so I just want to know what we’re having so I can start planning for real!

Our first OB appointment is May 7, where I’ll have my first ultrasound and probably quite a bit of testing. I have a lot of questions to ask and I am sure Clayton does as well. He’s been very supportive and already a bit protective which is just the sweetest thing! Then yesterday he had to leave, just two days after finding out, to go offshore for up to four weeks. I know he would have rather stayed home but I did manage to make the doctor appointment for when he got back. It’ll probably be another 2 months after that until we can find out what we’re having, and I am an impatient person. The waiting game is afoot! But at least it’s happening. It worked and it’s happening and I’m so happy. I will post about our vacation soon but for now enjoy our pregnancy announcement!

The Waiting Is The Hardest Part

I am a rather impatient person. As I write this it’s a Tuesday afternoon and we are leaving for a little mini vacation to visit my family on Friday and I literally am going antsy waiting on the time to pass to get here. There’s a few reasons for this though. See, I know when I need time to pass quickly I just jam lots of activities into the days leading up to it and I’m usually so busy that the days just fly by. Tonight we have orchestra rehearsal and a few things to do the next few days, but at this very moment I’m sitting here watching the minutes tick by ever so slowly. There’s something even more urgent on my horizon though, something that will happen after the trip is over: I’ll find out if we are on the way to being parents.

I got the exciting smiley face on my ovulation monitor last week on Thursday. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday we took special measures to try to further parent-becoming along (without going into too many details) and even those extra special tricks to try to conceive a girl. (Note: if our future child ever reads this and you in fact did turn out to be a boy, don’t fret. We’ll love you just as much, I promise! and I won’t be disappointed!)

Now that last weekend has passed, it should be the first part of April (like the 4th or 5th really) that I can feasibly test and get an accurate answer. Considering I have two First Response tests, I might test the day we get home because they are typically good at testing early. I will undoubtedly test four or five times, especially if I get a positive result, considering the last mishap we had. I want to be 100% sure it’s happening! Then the task of finding a new obgyn will start. So much excitement!

I promise not every post I write is going to be about having kids or the process thereof. I’m going to probably make a large picture filled post (or two) about the trip when we go, and I’m sure there’ll be some Easter goodies and whatnot as well. I’m actually excited to use this site as a journal of sorts. So hopefully people will like to come along on the journey with us.