baby development

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

No, No, No - Then No and No: 5 Times No

Shell-shocked from the prior day's events, I came in to work at 11:30 today and used a few TDL hours. I needed sleep wherever and whenever I could get it. It all started at 1:00 yesterday afternoon with a call from our social worker.

Melanie called to say that she knew we said we only wanted up to 2 children, and that we had capped our age limit at age 5...BUT she had a group of 3 siblings available - ages 7, 3, and 8 months. The children had been in foster care, and were being transitioned into a pre-adoptive home because the foster mom had "issues", and they were hoping to move the kids before the weekend. Essentially, it was a call to ask, "Hey, you wanna adopt 3 kids by the weekend?" Okay, well not really, but sort of. There are no guarantees, but in this case the odds would have been pretty good. They had already looked hard for relatives to no avail. The courts had already ruled that adoption pre-planning should begin. Enter our social worker and our case. We were a good match for the younger two kids - and there just happened to also be a 7 year old. All perfect kids - no major mental or physical problems that anyone knew of.

I said I would talk to my husband. Of course, he never checked his messages and never got back with me until 6:30 at night and I was miffed to say the least. I figured he knew better than to let an entire day go by and not bother to check his phone. To "prove" how pissed off I was, I stayed at work and didn't answer my phone (of course it did not good since he didn't even bother to call me until 6:30). I came home at 7:30. I wanted to tick him off. Instead, I ended up scaring him and he had thought I was in a car accident since traffic was so bad. I ended up feeling pissed and guilty - a very bad combination.

I made creamed chipped beef over toast (ish on a shingle). I felt a little better. We talked about the children, and Michael said we could take them if I wanted to, but that we could never have any biological children because we were not having four children. That answered it for me right there, though I said nothing to him. I wondered about what would happen if I did end up pregnant and we already had three children. I didn't want a life crisis, so right then and there I committed to call Melanie in the morning and say no.

Exactly one hour passes. It's 9:30 at night. I am ready for bed. My cell phone rings. I can't bear to talk, so I hand it to Michael and sak him to answer it and tell Melanie "No" to taking the 3 kids. I figured it was her wondering why I never called her back. It wasn't. It was ANOTHER social worker - the one on call last night.

The social worker asked Michael if we would take two children - ages 2 and 4 "whose grandmother who has been caring for them has been drinking". It was an "emergency removal" and we had to decide right then and there. Michael asked if we could have a few minutes and call back. She said okay. We asked if she could give us more information. She said she didn't know anything at all. We wondered if that was truly the case, and doubted that very much. We figured they had to know something in order to get a judge to sign the removal order in the first place. At least they could tell us if it seemed short term or long term. They said they had no idea.

Michael and I talked for a few minutes. We have only the 1 crib that converts to a toddler bed and then the full size bed in his office. We have no clothes at all for either a 2 or 4-year old. We knew those kids would come with nothing.

We also figured it was most likely very short term. We figured "grandma" would sober up long enough for a judge to get the holiday spirt and order the kids returned, or that another "grandma" or relative would come forward and want them, and they would be removed from our home - much like the last two were.

It just sounded too shaky, and too short term. So, Michael called back to say "No" and tell the worker that we were not equipped to take 2 kids of those ages at this time - which is the truth. Apparently, the worker got snippy and told him that we needed to tell our worker we were not willing to take 2 kids. Hello, Ms. On-call Workerlady! What in the world did you hear my husband say that would tell you we weren't willing to take two kids at all? Don't jump to conclusions - just ask, and we will gladly answer.

This morning I called our worker to tell her "No" about the 3 kids. Ms. On-call Workerlady had already called her to complain about us not being willing to take 2 kids. Melanie told us she was confused because we had just had 2 kids and loved them. Uh...exactly! She had told the worker it was probably because we only had 1 crib and no toddler bed. Uh...duh! I confirmed these feelings with her, and told her that it had sounded very short-term, and that on top of that at 9:30 at night we were not equipped to take two kids of those ages. It would have taken a lot of work (not that we are unwilling to do it at all) - for a potentially short-term stay. Can you imagine us going out and buying wardrobes all over again as well as a bed and bedding for kids who would likely not be with us for more than a few weeks or months? Yikes.

Enough heartbreak, already. It's too close to Christmas. And I'm determined to be happy - not heartbroken.

I told Melanie that if she had called and had just the 3 year old and the 8 month old - I would have said yes without even checking with Michael. It would have been perfect. I told her that if last night's call had been for two babies - or 1 baby and 1 older child, that we might have thought differently about it. It's just the situation and how we "feel" about it. I don't know what she would have thought had I told her the truth: that we trust that God leads our hearts and minds to make these decisions - even ones that have to be made in a matter or minutes. It's a simple as saying, "Okay, God, tell me what you want us to do" and then sitting for a moment and letting him answer.

Before, when we took in Howard and Autumn, God's answer was clear - take them and be glad. We did. We got our hearts broken. We have absolutely no regrets about it. We did the Lord's work. We obeyed his call. He directed us and we followed. We had 10 days of absolute joy. We learned what no books on parenting could ever have taught us.

We made the right decisions. Five kids and five "No" responses. We could have been an instant family by the weekend. But those kids aren't meant to be our kids. Somebody out there needs these three kids. I hope they are found and matched quickly. I hope that someone stumbles on this posting, and wonders if maybe fostering to adopt just might be worth it. It is painful, and gut-wrenching, and exhausting. We don't know if our children will come to us from this system, or from the international adoption we are saving up for within a year or so. We just don't know, and truly don't care. I could hold a little girl from China and love her just as much as I could a little brown child from right here in Kentucky. It's a matter of trust, and faith, and hope.

Still, saying "No" breaks your heart. I took a bubble bath and cried in the tub last night - not for myself, but for the five children who have no permanency. I cried for the two little ones who were being taken away in the middle of the night to a strange place. I wanted to make it better somehow. But it wasn't for me to do.

By the end of the year, we will have a lovely little (1830 sq. ft.) 3 bedroom, 2 1/2 bath house. We will either close on December 16th, or a few days later. We will be even more ready for a family. Maybe these delays and heartbreaks were just a way of motivating us to grow up and get out of apartment living and clear up debt and start living a more modest life. I'm pleased with the amount of maturing we've done lately. I'm thrilled that I am finally going to own my own home - at the age of 34. I'm sure my parents are diappointed that I didn't get there sooner, but I know they are happy that I'm finally there and that I have a husband who cares enough to make sure we get there.

Maybe next Christmas will be my "dream Christmas" - with my husband, my child(ren), a real Christmas tree, a fire in the fireplace, homemade gingerbread cookies, and a visit from our families who have yet to visit us here. 2007 is going to be a turning-point year for us. I can't wait to see what all it holds.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Random Thoughts I Should Write More About

Thanksgiving was okay. We had dinner at the home of my husband's colleagues, along with another couple from his work. They have a beautiful little one-year old girl who wasn't sure what to make of the whole over-stimulating ordeal. Afterwards we went home and vegetated. I made 2 homemade deep-dish apple pies. They were very good, and fantastic eaten warm with double-vanilla ice cream. Still, I missed my grandmother's idea of Thanksgiving. The holidays were always a production with her - and from the time I was born, she lived next door. I got to enjoy every bit of the planning and preparation, shopping, and cooking, baking, and decorating every single year. After I got married and moved away, I tried to keep her traditions. I made her turkey and stuffing, apple and pumpkin pies, and pineapple-walnut cookies. I made the gravy from the turkey drippings, and made the mashed potatoes with real butter and half-and-half. The holidays were never a time to worry about fat and calories.

This weekend we put up 144 books on It did not even make a small dent in our overwhelming collection of books we've been buying all of our adult lives. I think I get too attached to books. And books don't make you look fat. They don't reject you, or tell you they are too busy. They are always there when you need them. I love books.

I am extremely worried about all of the stuff we have, and where we will put all of it in the new house. I am also worried that my husband feels offended/threatened when I ask him to get rid of stuff. Between the two of us, he likes to hang on to things more than I do.

The house inspection was today - and all went well except for two incredibly minor things we will be asking the owners to fix. Even if they didn't do it, I could and all would be well. This is a major relief, and now we will for certain be closing on December 16th. I have no idea when we are going to move with me working and Michael teaching and final exams to give and grade and final grades to average and turn in. I'm sure after the 16th we will be taking over loads of things in our cars - clothes, books, etc. And what about Christmas?

I am in a holiday funk. I miss my grandmother and since she died in 2002, the holidays have not been as joyful. I spent Christmas 2001 alone in Michael's apartment in Athens, Ohio working on my dissertation not-real-hard while he went to his parent's house in Mississippi. Christmas 2002 I spent with Michael and his parents in Mississippi. It was their second time meeting me. Everyone was nice to me and I had a good time and was very much in love. Christmas 2003 was horrible since Michael couldn't figure out whether he wanted to be with me or not, and I'd put my parent's off about whether I was going to come home. Michael ended up taking me to Mississippi with him, and decided while we were there that he really did want to get married. Overall, it was a horrible holiday nightmare I'd rather not re-live. Christmas 2004 was our first Christmas as a married couple, and we drove from Kentucky down to Mississippi for Christmas once again. It was nice, and fairly calm. Still, for years I haven't celebrated the holidays the way I would have wanted to. Cumulatively, the effects are starting to reveal themselves.

I might go home to my parents' house for Christmas this year. Those who know me know how miraculous this would be. If I were home on Christmas day it would be the first time that has happened in about 13 years. After I was 22 and married, we lived far away and my first husband always worked retail in malls, so taking off for the holidays was out of the question, and I never felt like I could leave him alone so I could go home. One Christmas I did go home for a while, but returned on the morning of the 24th so I could spend Christmas with my then-husband. I always tried to do the "right" thing, even if I didn't really like my then-husband very much. I figured no one deserved to be alone on Christmas eve and Christmas day.

Michael has never seen my hometown. He has only met/seen my parents once - at my brother's wedding last December. That is also the last time that I saw my parents. We did not interact much at all. We hugged, and exchanged pleasantries, but nothing more. Thought the wedding took place a mere hour and a half away from my hometown, we were not invited to the house, or to spend additional time there. This came as no surprise since my father had made it very clear when he found out that Michael and I were getting married that he "would never be welcome in his house". It's funny now that they've been willing to have a black maid, and now a maid from El Salvador who doesn't speak a word of English, but my husband the professor is not welcome in their home (the big, scary black man).

Michael has never once mentioned going to my hometown, or spending time with my parents, or inviting them to come here. This doesn't surprise me either. Why would he want to, anyway.

My relationship with my mother has improved this past year via phone calls. I think my father is slightly more comfortable with me, too. Mom has tried to be nice to Michael, pointing out things she finds that would be helpful for his research and even asking to speak to him on the phone on occasion to tell him about something he might find interesting. I know that this year she has bought him an incredibly thoughtful Christmas gift.

The other night I asked them what their plans were, and they are staying home and then going to my brother's house for Christmas dinner (only and hour and a half drive). I mentioned that I was thinking about coming, and mom was very excited. She asked if Michael would come to. I said I wasn't sure - with him teaching winter interterm and all. That was kind of a lie of omission. I had assumed he wasn't welcome there, but her tone suggested he was. I didn't ask for clarification, but instead just said we were trying to make plans and weren't sure what to do. She asked if we would stay through Christmas day, or just Christmas eve, etc. I just said we were still thinking about it and would let her know. It was a rather uncomfortable conversation - like asking permission to see your own parents or your own hometown or the house you grew up in. But then again, at one point there was a doubt as to whether I would ever see them again or be welcome in their home myself.

I might go home even if it meant Michael went to spend Christmas with his family, and I spent Christmas with mine. I just need to be with people who are also happy - and who like the holidays. Michael just isn't much fun around the holidays - he just doesn't like them. He'd rather catch up on work, or ball games. He doesn't decorate, or cook, or go out, or give or go to parties. Those things get in the way of work, and he just plain doesn't enjoy them. And not getting to enjoy those things year after year has made me sad. And I don't want to be sad this Christmas, even if it means I have to go spend the holidays with my family this year. Mercy.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

My First "No"

I just turned down a foster care placement. 9:00pm
A 3-year old little boy, African-American, who needed placement tonight because he was being physically abused.
My husband just left for Boston this morning, and won't be back until Sunday night. I would have had to take off work tomorrow and Friday and care for him on my own.
I said "I'm sorry. I can't."
I ate a pint of butter pecan ice cream.
It didn't help my heart, but it tasted good.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Homeowners to Be!

As of 11:15 pm, the sellers accepted our offer on the house - we saved 4K. If all goes well with the inspection, we will close on December 16th. Guess we know what we are getting each other for Christmas.

As for now, I'm going to bed. This is WAY too much excitement for one day. Whew!

Our First House

Well, this is it. I've chosen not to blog about this process because sometimes writing about something causes me to acknowledge the stress of it even more. But, here goes:

We're buying a house. Yup. Our first house - ever. At the ripe 'ol age of 34 we are becoming homeowners.

We make the offer on the house we want at 5:30 tonight. They are asking a little less than we had wanted to pay for our first house, so this is pretty good.

I hope we can negotiate a little to save even more.

If it goes through, I will breathe, then worry about moving.

I am so excited I can hardly stand it.

2 hours to go.

Breathe, Tamara. Breathe.

This is how I have been able to handle coming to terms with my infertility, our lack of success with the foster-to-adopt program, and my understanding that it will take a while to save up enough money to afford to sign with an adoption agency to do an international adoption.

Still, I imagine I will look at the spare bedrooms longingly and wish I had a child to tuck into bed and night.

More to come on the house adventure - woooo hooooo!!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

God Lookin' Out For Us

Oh sweet mercy, could I be busier? I haven't paid much attention to blogging these days, or to reading the blogs of my sisters and brothers in adoption-land. It is amazing what November has and will hold.

My work responsibilities are changing with every passing day, and I am applying for other positions on campus. I have got to get out from behind a desk and mounds of papers.

Michael is traveling a lot for the next few weeks. Today he had to drive 4 hours to Athens, Ohio for a dissertation defense - he still sits on a few committees from his old stomping ground of Ohio University. The defense is at 6. If it lasts 2 hours and he leaves straightaway, he might be home by 1 in the morning. Then, he has a flight that leaves before 7 am tomorrow for a conference in Tampa. He'll be home a few days again, then off for a conference in Boston. The weekend after that is Thanksgiving, and after that we're already into December. I pray he just makes it through the semester in one piece. He's doing a great job, and managed to guest lecture in my class last night, and do a really terrific job.

Our place is a wreck. The kittens we were doing foster care for went back to the Humane Society today. The carpet in the room will have to be steamed cleaned, which is fine because I have a fabulous do-it-yourself machine, but oooohhh the work that takes. The kittens also slept in the crib, so all that bedding will have to be stripped and washed in case a baby comes into our home sometime soon.

I fret when my home is dirty. I don't fret too much over stacks and clutter. I am a stacker. I do not put things away like I should. Too often I leave it where I used it, or where I took it off, or where it was convenient for me to put it down when I was interrupted. We also have way too much stuff. We have clothes we have both "outgrown" or that are out of style that we cannot part with. We have momentos and memories, and Michael has more sweatshirts than an army of men in the dead of winter needs. And we have books. And we just bought four bags of books from the Friends of the Library book sale last weekend. So, my place is not just cluttered - it is dirty. The carpets have remnants of children running and eating and playing. The bathrooms have a layer of whatever builds up in bathrooms. The kitchen floor is just plain nasty. Those are the things I fret about.

To top it all off, we are trying to buy a house. Soon.

We've been looking at houses, and the first one Michael saw he decided he So, now we are trying to look at other homes quickly to decide if we want this one. And we are not wealthy. We will be financing 100%. Yeah, I know it is better to have 10 or 20%. We are just tired of renting. We are 34 years old, and its time we owned our own home. And we think a kid deserves a yard to play in and a room to call their own. Our lease expires in January, so we are trying to make it happen by then. We should be finished looking within the next few weeks. I bet we make an offer on something by the beginning of December, if not sooner. Then, it will be moving a ton of crap across town. Oh - and we live on the 3rd floor of our apartment complex and the place we are looking to buy is a 2-story with all 3 bedrooms upstairs. Do I even need to tell you we will be hiring movers?

The house we are looking at buying is really cute - 1689 square feet (not a big place), 3 bedrooms, 2 1/2 bathrooms, nice little 12x14 wood deck/patio out back, and a very nice kitchen. The colors the previous owners painted the interior rooms is nothing short of hideous. The entry way and great room are painted beige down to waist level and baby blue down to the floor. The kitchen is sea-foam green (which I actually like). The 3 bedrooms are all different colors. One is painted light green, one is UK blue (dark blue), and the master bedroom is the color of pee (greenish light yellow). Gag. Painter would be a first. It looks so redneck do-it-yourselfer I can't even begin to explain it. The house is only 1 year old - such a shame to do that to such a lovely little house. Still, I can see us making an offer on the place, as paint color is a relatively minor issue and we'd get the remainder of the warranties. It's also affordable at 10K less than what we wanted to find a house for.

I'll probably go driving around this weekend looking at about 10 other houses our realtor sent me today. If I really like something, I'll set up a time Michael can see it while he's in town. Our realtor kept telling us that the house we like could be sold out from under us. I thought she was just a bit melodramatic about it. If it sells, it sells. There will be others up for sale as fast as that one sold. I guess I just don't think there is "one perfect house out there that I absolutely must have or I will die". I just want a nice place I won't have to fix up a lot. I want a lot of room. I want kids to be happy there, and I want my family to be safe. I want it to be a nice place we can feel good about coming home to at night. I want a nice place where Michael can like to work and do his writing. That's really all that is truly important.

So, the kittens are gone. Michael is traveling a lot for work. Our house is dirty. I am tired and changing a lot at work.

And we have no children - no placement. I wondered today if there is a reason for that - if God is just doing his normal "lookin' out for Tamara and Michael" thing. If I had to pick up two kids from daycare today and go home and try to feed them and bathe them and get them to bed by myself I just might cry as I am that wiped out - more emotionally, but physically too.

Michael thinks there's a good chance he could come home from one of these conferences to find there are new children in our home. Yup. There's a chance of that. After all, God does have a sense of humor. Just wait - he'll board the plane and I'll get a call saying there are twin babies available and do I want to take them. Yup - that would be just like me to have that happen.

It's now dark, and I'm heading home to my quiet apartment. I think I'll watch Jeopardy and eat something Michael would find disgusting that I really, really like. Then I shall take a bubble bath with a mudpack on my face. I shall actually shave my legs carefully. Then I shall get into comfy jammies and crawl into bed with the cats and wait for Michael to come home and wake me up with stories of his day. Ain't life grand?

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Unrelated Good News

Yesterday I turned down an opportunity to teach again next semester at the community college (the same class and schedule I had this semester - M/W evenings from 6:30-7:45pm).

I expect to be a mom in some capacity again very soon. I don't think it will be months before we get another call with another placement for children who need foster care. I have a feeling it will be before Thanksgiving that we get another placement - and I want the majority of my evenings to be free.

I told the college I could teach a class as long as it was one night a week. They had one section of public speaking available, and I said I would take it as long as I could teach it the way I felt was best - from a public deliberation model focusing on argumentation, reasoning, and logic - less on performative aspects. They said no - that I had to use the "workbook" and the textbook they had selected. I politely declined. I have standards, and some levels of teaching that I will not sink below for anyone or any amount of money. I think they were taken aback. Most adjunct faculty scrape and claw for an opportunity to pick up another class or two. Me, I just consider the one class I do teach there in addition to my full-time job here at UK to be my "community service".

But a part of me knew the money (though it is a pitance) would be missed in our household. Still, I knew saying "no thank you" was a way of remaining true to what I knew to be true about the most effective way to teach the course (and what I know from experiecen to be one of the worst ways as well).

This morning I learned that the coordinator of part-time faculty here at UK was offering me a chance to teach HERE - a section of Persuasion one night a week next semester (starting in January). Well, I about fell out of my chair. Me - teaching at the University of Kentucky. How cool is that! What an honor that will be. And I will be teaching majors - in the communication department. Woooo hooooo. And it will only be 1 night a week that I would have to be away from home. And I've never taught the class before, so it will be an all-new preo which will be good for taking my mind off not having kids yet.

I'm sure this is God's way of assuring I stay sane. Thanks, God, for knowing what I needed and sending it my way.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Sign #597 That I Need A New Job

After spending all freakin day in a conference in which I had little to no input or interest...

I just got in trouble with my boss for printing out 5 freakin pages on the printer of something that had to do with the night class I teach at the community college - not directly related to my job here.

It was a copy of a psychological measure of approaches to conflict. Ha!

Here's my approach: piss on her.

This is insane. I hate it here. New job cannot come fast enough. Please, God, let there be a different job out there without a crazy person as my boss. Please send some work-day sanity my way.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Joe & Kim Need Your Prayers

I just received news that the husband of a former student of mine was terribly wounded in the war several weeks ago by a roadside bomb.
24 hours before Joe was due to ship home from Iraq, he and his company were injured by a bomb blast as they were on patrol.
He and his wife Kim are both 23 years old and have been married 3 years.
Joe has had dozens of surgeries in several countries in an effort to save his life.
He has now been transferred to Walter Reid and Kim is with him there.
He may loose one or more feet, and one or more legs.
He may also loose one or more arms.
Worst case scenario (besides that he could die), would be to loose all of his limbs.
I know very little, but I know that prayer WORKS. I have seen it, lived it, and felt it.

Please pray that Joe lives, and that his recovery is miraculous. Pray for Kim - she is still in college at Columbus State Univ. in Columbus, GA where I used to teach.

Of course, pray for all of our military. But this one is close to my heart. Kim was one of my first students, and she is very sweet and loves her husband more than herself. She knows God, and knows your prayers will help.

Thanks everyone.
This certainly does put life into perspective.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Life Lessons from a "Bounce Out" Addict

Through struggling with my addiction to Bounce Out, I have taken on a new philosophy. Doing well in life is a lot like doing well in Bounce Out.

1. First, it is always a good idea to survey your surroundings. Take note of what lies before you before making a sudden move. Moving before you have had an opportunity to look at several options could cost you a great opportunity later. If you go too quickly for an easy 3-ball combination, you could cause a fantastic 6-ball combination to cease to be available. Think first.

2. Lesson one taken into account, don't survey your surroundings for too long. You are in this game for a limited amount of time. At some point, you can only do so much. At some point, you will have to make a move if you want to accomplish anything other than meeting your demise. If you miss one 6-ball combination, another one may be just around the corner.

3. Our moves are finite. Sometimes we have many possible moves, and sometimes there is only one place we can go. We can always choose the option of sitting idly by and staring, but eventually time will run out. Occasionally, we will run out of moves. In these situations, sometimes things have to crumble around you a little in order for new moves to open up.

4. It is a good idea to have at least one back-up plan - a move that you keep in the back of your mind until you are out of other moves or other options. You know you could move the green ball in the right corner up one space, but you keep that move until you are in a panick moment and see no other moves before you.

5. Under time constraints, we experience stress. We search everywhere quickly for places to go and moves to make. This stress is inevitable.

6. We are often under the false assumption that doing something quickly and repetitively will produce better results. Case in point: I know that clicking my mouse button multiple times in rapid fire style will not cause the balls to move any faster. Still, I often click with wild abandon despite my superior knowledge of the ineffectiveness of that practice.

7. Despite the best laid game plans, there will eventually be roadblocks that come our way. We will have laid out a perfectly wonderful plan when suddenly, a boulder falls into the road we were traveling. Cursing the roadblock will not make it go away. In fact, while sitting and cursing the roadblock and thinking about how your plan has failed, you are still loosing time. It is best to simply take another route.

8. Past success does not guarantee future success. One well-played game does not assure you will play well tomorrow or the next day. Still, those who love the game keep trying. Love life enough, and despite your failures and shortcomings, it still seems worth living.

9. Sometimes when things are crumbling all around you, it's a good thing. There will be more moves ahead if you take a second to sit back and appreciate what's happening.

10. There is something very satisfying about planning your next move while things are falling in around you. It is especially rewarding to know what your next move will be even before the dust settles.

On the Road to Recovery

Thank you to all who sent comments and prayed for Michael and I these past few difficult days.

Before I go on, I do need to recognize what my husband did do while we had the kid-os. He researched day cares, and visited them and enrolled the children by himself. Every day, he dropped them off at school and day care. All but 2 days, he also picked them up. He taught Howard lots of things, like counting to 10 when he washed his hands, remembering to flush the toilet, saying please, thank you, you're welcome, and excuse me. He held the baby when I was busy with something else, and changed her diaper as much as I did. He boiled water and made bottles and sterilized nipples. He warmed bottles in the middle of the night while I held Autumn in bed. When Howard cried when we first got to his Sunday School class that first Sunday, it was Michael who stayed with him the entire hour to make sure he was going to be okay. He read bedtime stories to Howard as often as I did, and he taught him how to pray.

These weren't easy tasks, and I never had to ask him to do any of them. Many of them he seemed to enjoy doing.

I needed to remember that Michael was grieving in his own way. He cried about loosing them long before we ever got the call that they were going to relatives. He stressed more over not knowing the future, and of fearing that a phone call would eventually come. I did not know about some of the grieving he did do, and that often he does not share that with me. I typically need someone there with me when I am grieving. Michael prefers to be alone. Hence, his grief is usually invisible to me unless he discloses it.

I know he feels bad when he disappoints me.

Last night I came home to find that he had prepared dinner - Caesar salads and veggie lasagna, and Haggen Daz strawberry ice cream for dessert (one of our favorites). Exhausted from teaching my night class and from the stress of the last few days, this dinner was as close to ideal as you could get.

Over dinner, he told me he had good news - he had found an adoption lawyer who would set up a payment plan for us. He offered to come back early from a conference he is attending weekend after this in order to attend an adoption fair with me. While it was a nice offer, the conference is important and I can attend the fair alone and gather the information. I appreciated the offer - especially since I know how much he enjoys the last Sunday of this particular conference. He also told me that he had found a house for sale that he would like to go look at this weekend. I'm excited about the possibility of being a home-owner for the very first time - and soon! To end the day, we watched Criminal Minds in bed before turning out the lights and talking a bit. If you haven't seen the show, it's about profilers, and I think it's pretty interesting.

I'm not crying today. I pretty much slept through the night aside from a tummy ache at 4 in the morning. I petted the cats who seemed quite needy last night and this morning. Callie seems to keep coming up in the bed looking for the baby (she liked to come up and look at her and smell her head). Macy Gray just seems to enjoy having my full attention now.

I'm going to join the Foster/Adoptive Parent support group here in town. I hear good things about it, and I could use advice from others who have had children returned to birth families, and are hoping to adopt. I need to know tips for handling the days after the parting. I need to learn how to better control and manage my emotions so others don't get hurt, and I feel more sane.

My dear sister in Christ, Cindy, wrote me a lovely note. As if she were knew my heart, she suggested Michael and I return to counseling. Last night, I asked him if he would consider going back with me. The last time we went, it seemed to go downhill so we stopped going and things got surprisingly better once I wasn't constantly griping about how disappointed I was with everything. Interestingly enough, I simply asked him if he wanted to go back. He thought about it for a few seconds, and said he would like to. He added that he knew that he didn't do well with it before, and thought that he would do a better job this time of working with the counselor to make the counseling more productive (i.e. he would talk more and participate in the discussion more as opposed to sitting silently). I made an appointment for us already, and felt good about making the call.

I appreciated the gentle nudge, and the concern. It was God speaking to me through her. It is amazing how God finds a voice to reach us when he can't simply email us himself. I am thankful for her willingness to be that voice for me. Too often, I'm sure we turn away from others and say, "wow, they really need help", but walk away because we are afraid to "butt in" to someone's business. In some ways, I put myself out here knowing that folks may says things I don't want to hear. But God motivates people to come to this blog and comment here for good reason - and sometimes that reason is to give me a gentle nudge in the direction He needs me to go. It's a beautiful thing.

I still hurt, but its going to get better.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

I Need a New Job

Bounce Out - I reached Level 11 and my high score is now 274,236.
I am now going to go teach my night class at the college.
Thoughts tonight: I will survive this. Tomorrow is another day. My meeting with our social worker is Friday. I do not know what I will say.

I am applying for another job - in Academic Affairs. Anything with "affairs" in the title sounds sexy. I doubt I will get an interview. I have applied for positions in that division ump-teen times already and not even a phone call. I made the decision when I was in the elevator yesterday and two other women got on - it was 5:00. We all sighed, and one woman said, "Imagine if we feel this way at the end of the day - what's this doing to our health?" The other woman said, "Yeah, and it's only 5:00." The other woman replied, "I need a new job." I walked to my car intent on finding another position soon. I can't take A.S.S. anymore and this desk job pushing papers as an administrator is killing me slowly. There has to be more to my 8-5 life than this. I am paid well, and I am bored to tears. Today, I'd rather be doing manual labor. I'd rather be scraping road kill off the highway. I hear those folks make a lot of money - but I guess because it's dangerous. Maybe a nice job in a state park as a tour guide. I can point to things well.

I still think I need to make "visit Europe" videos and be filmed in cool places eating interesting food and drinking great wine.

Count this as day 1 of my quest to find a new job.

Still "Bouncing"

My new high score: 221,480. Momma always said I did well under stress.

Michael and the Path of Least Resistance

Sometimes strangers I don't know are dead-on accurate. An anonymous reader wrote:

You've known all along that your husband was only looking for the path of least resistance, and yet you continue to try to "make" him want the things you want. You've heard, I'm sure, that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results. Your husband does not want the same things you do, and no matter how much you want him to want those things, you can't change him.

Last night Michael said he had read my last post. From time to time he will read my blog. I keep no secrets, and I've found that being hateful here is not very beneficial. In fact, I have deleted old postings that he said hurt him. If there is a chance he could read this, then I have to respect his feelings as much as I feel I can or should. He has said that the fact that he might read it should in no way limit my "freedom of speech", but I've learned that as much as he think he gives me permission to be the person I truly am, if I choose certain paths, I will face his punishment, however silent that may be. The punishment may be his silence or brooding, lack of touch or physical intimacy, or a lack of interest in me altogether.

It is true. Michael has and does choose the path of least resistance. He can't stand conflict, and will do everything in his power to avoid it, including leaving the room or walking away (though he has made progress as he used to leave the house and get in his car and go for a drive - sometimes for hours). He does not express his anger, but instead lets it build, or waits for it to dissipate. If he thinks he can make a decision, make a choice, or engage in a behavior to "make me happy" and avoid conflict, he does so as long as he perceives that he can tolerate the outcome. He tolerates a lot. He tolerates being married to me, my looking for a house to buy, my desire to have children, and my desire to socialize with other people and to get out of the house. It is true. The majority of the time that we have been together, I have felt "tolerated". It is only when we are doing something that he wants to do that I actually feel liked.

The decisions that get made in our life and in our household are typically made by me. That is because Michael usually says that things aren't important to him or that he doesn't care. Right now, I am looking for a house to buy and so far, Michael has had nothing to do with looking for one. When I ask him what kind of house he wants, he says he doesn't care and that I should pick whatever I want. It was this way with the engagement (which never happened because he never could propose or by an engagement ring), the wedding (okay, so I know most guys don't give a rat's ass about their own wedding) that was not at all what I wanted, the honeymoon (we had none because I couldn't afford one and Michael didn't care to make any plans), buying a house, or trying to have children. Major life decisions that I have found warranted the involvement of a partner I ended up doing on my own, and dragging Michael along for the ride. He usually was not "kicking and screaming", but he wasn't smiling either.

It is also true that I have tried desperately to "make" Michael want the same things I do. I have talked about my hopes and dreams until I feel like a complete moron. I have engaged other people to talk with us about their expereinces. I have shared stories and talked about the nice things we could do together in the future. The best response I get is: "Okay, that's fine."

Michael will tell you that his main goal in life is to be content and at peace. I like being content too, and I like peace. But my idea of peace and contentment necessitates richness and fullness. I am content when life is rich and full. Michael has often said that our main disagreements are over semantics. I couldn't agree more.

I asked Michael last night if he wanted children. He explained rather rationally as only he can do that he liked the children and having them in our house, and that he imagines he would like it more if there were more certainty. He said he imagined that if we had a child that was "ours" that he would like it a lot. (Notice he still cannot say that he wants children. Wanting children is my thing, not his.) Michael also has a principle he lives by that it is not good to want anything. Wanting, in his mind, stems from a lack of fulfillment and neediness. Wanting is bad.

An anonymous reader (perhaps the same reader) once commented about how horrible life would be for a child who was not wanted by one parent. I can't recall the specifics, but suffice it to say, I thought the comment was severe. It was, because it was right.

I don't think Michael would be a bad father. I do think eventually the child would come to understand that in daddy's eyes, he/she was "in the way". That would be awful. I know, because I had a father who did not care much for me. He loved me, but after I turned 12 or so, he stopped liking me. He still does not like me much, and especially does not like me because of the choices I have made (i.e. getting a divorce, marrying a black man, not finishing my PhD) and the life I have carved out for myself. While it was never abusive, it was certainly not a relationship I would call "loving".

I agree that no couple should have children unless both people truly want to have children. I'm sure if that were to happen with any frequency, we wouldn't have overpopluation problems. I'm sure we'd have a lower divorce rate. I'm sure many marriages could be saved if they had never had children.

I don't know what will happen to us. It is no secret that I have thought many times about leaving and starting over. When I have voiced this desire, Michael offers to help me financially. He offered that again yesterday - in an email (how intimate). Notice I did not say that he told me that he didn't want me to leave, or that he says he would be devastated. He merely tells me that I should do what I feel I need to do. He would never "fight for me". In fact, he has told me never to expect him to do that. He said if I felt the need to go, I could go. Why, he says, would he want to keep me in a state of misery? I wonder why he wouldn't see that as good enough reason to try to make things better. But really, it's me trying to change him again.

Perhaps I should just go and build for myself the kind of life I wanted. The life I have now is certainly not the one I wanted, and there are no signs of anything getting better. There was one small ray of hope when Michael went to "Promise Keepers" in Nashville this summer. He came back and was pretty quiet for a few days, then said he realized he hadn't been acting very adult-like (or something like that), and that he would be working on being a better partner. He treated me nicely for several days, and as quickly as his enthusiam had arrived, so did it leave. This does not surprise me, as I know that many "come to Jesus" decisions are made in the passion of the moment, and are quickly fleeting as soon as the person is back to the "daily grind". It would be very un-Christian-like for me to leave my marriage (my second marriage). I don't want to be a failure again. And I do love my husband - I just don't love the relationship we have, or the lack of intimacy in all its facets.

I'm not making empty threats. I just don't see this going anywhere. I tried to just live well and find my own joy. But in the process it exposed once again how alone I really am in my marriage. Here I was doing all this work, and Michael was just taking the path of least resistance - again.

So, my dilemma is this - if the anonymous reader is correct, which they are, now what am I to do?

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

I Attempt to "Bouce Out" of the Blues

Ok, I have played Bounce Out today in an attempt to feel better that I now have a new high score: 194,918. My high score in Chuzzle remains a mere 281,575. This is sad.

How Am I to Consider This Pure Joy?

James 1:2-4 says this:
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perserverance. Perserverance must finish it's work so that you may be mature, and complete, not lacking anything."

Putting Howard and Autumn in the social worker's car last night hurt deeply. For me, it felt like another failed attempt in my quest to have a family of my own. I felt like I had loved and now someone else was going to reap the benefits of my labor. I did not feel joy. I felt immature and incomplete.

My pain quickly turned to anger as I sat next to my husband on the sofa, an uncontrolable stream of hot tears running down my face. He had promised me an evening for the two of us - dinner, maybe a movie, and some physical intimacy (but he often makes promises and then finds it difficult to keep them). Since it was getting late, I opted for take-out and an evening in sans movie. Physical intimacy was apparently out of the question. Michael was in another dimension far away from where I was. I couldn't blame him, but I was still angry at him. In addition to my hurt of sending the kids away, I felt rejected and alone. I felt very, very alone. My desire last night was to be physically alone, but I was too tired to act on it. For me, worse than being alone is feeling alone in the presence of the person or persons you want most to accept you and comfort you. If I wouldn't have had to work today, I would have left and gotten a motel room for the night. At least then I could have felt alone and been alone at the same time.

My mind went back to dark places I've been with my husband. It was as though all the conversations about how he didn't want children and saw absolutely no need or use for them came flooding back into the forefront of my conscious. I hated him a little then. I remembered how he ended our relationship, and how he used my desire for children as the main argument for not wanting to be with me. I remembered how I promised him I could live without children if it meant having him. I remembered how even then I knew it was a lie. I remembered how he told me that one day he hoped I would change my mind and that simply being married would be enough. I remembered how last October he finally gave me permission to go off birth control pills, but he said he "didn't want to try to make anything happen". Actually, he never wanted me to go off birth control because he said he believed that if God wanted us to have children, it would happen regardless of what we did to try to prevent it. I'm not sure he and I think about God the same way. I don't think God goes around giving people children against all their good efforts to prevent it from happening. I just don't think of God in that way. My God loves me, and doesn't go about inflicting things on people just because it's "His will".

In his defense, Michael has always been clear with me about what he didn't want. I came into this relationship knowing about his lack of enthusiam for much of anything. He will tell you hew just "doesn't get excited about much". No one would ever describe him as passionate. Occasionally, he will get excited about a sporting event. Aside from that, there is little that I see him happy about. He doesn't even get excited about me. I try very hard to understand this, and appreciate him for who he his and what he does have to offer.

When Michael found out that, in addition to my PCOS, he was sub-fertile (really, really subfertile), he didn't respond at all. He never did say how he felt. It seemed to be information - no more, no less. When the doctor suggested Clomiphene treatment for him, he bought the pills and took them rather haphazardly. It's been a long time since he stopped taking them, and he hasn't said anything about seeking further treatment. It always felt to me like Michael was relieved that he never had to have children. It seemed to put the fire out on my desire to have children - after all, we couldn't afford expensive fertility treatments even if I was willing to go through the physical and emotional side-effects.

I never actually asked Michael if we could become foster parents. I called on my own. When the information arrived, I asked him if he would go to the orientation meeting with me. There, we signed up for the classes. He acted like a jerk when the group suggested doing the classes in 5 weeks as opposed to 10. He hated the classes. He tried his best to look interested. He wouldn't discuss our homework with me between classes, and seemed quite skeptical about the whole thing. At our home visits, he was aloof and almost silent. He seemed disinterested at every home visit. We never really talked about the process, and when I would mention it, he'd say there was nothing he felt the need to talk about. That would usually end it right there.

He cried when we loaded Howard into the social worker's car last night. But I don't think it had a thing to do with wanting to have children. I think he just loved Howard a lot. But I don't think that had anything to do with him wanting a family, or wanting one with me. Howard is easy to like.

I'm wondering today if I've made a mistake. I feel like my friends are pretty good supports. But everyone keeps asking me if we are going to keep doing it, and reinforcing how painful it must be. Uh - yeah. But I don't need people to ask me if I'm going to keep doing this. What the heck else am I supposed to do?

I am having a hard time considering this trial "pure joy".

We once went to a marriage counselor who told us a metaphor for our marriage - she said that I was in the driver's seat, happily driving the car down the highway of life - but that Michael wasn't beside me, or even in the backseat. Heck, he wasn't even right behind me. It was quite possible he wasn't even on the same road. In order for our marriage to work, we had to at the very least get in the same car. And to make it good - he had to drive sometimes. And I would have to slow down.

I don't know anymore if I've made the right decision in having children. Only sometimes do I think I made the right decision in being with Michael. I know he didn't want to marry me when he did. Now it just seems like he's here because he's here - no more, no less. And it feels like if a child shows up at our doorstep, he'll take care of it. But don't ask him to go out of his way to make an effort to make that happen. Don't ask him to find out about adoption agencies, or how to go about doing a private adoption. He expects that since this was my idea, that I will do all the work. And I can't do anymore than I've already done. I'm exhausted.

I'm tired of not having a partner in this adventure. And I don't think this is something anyone should drag their partner into.

I'm going to have to do some soul-searching regarding children. I feel angry, hurt, and alone - thr trifecta of misery. I realize I sound like a real "b".

To quote Beavis, "This sucks more than anything that has ever sucked before."

I think I need french fries. And ice cream.