Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Please, please

Sometimes I wish I could share the horrors I see. But I don't want to put that burden on anyone else.

Please, please find compassion for Syrian refugees. A great number of them are women and children (80% in some refugee camps) and they are the ones suffering. I think of the faces of friends and family and how it would be if I had to flee bombings and shootings, taking the hands of the children I love, leaving behind the ones who have been killed. How do you even mourn for those you love when so many have been killed?

Bad people take advantage of every disaster, from looters to rapists to fringe groups to terrorists to those who exploit. Yes, the world needs to react, but punishing those already suffering from the same threat is NOT the way. Don't let our fear of the few be the reason we turn our backs on the many in need.

We, as humanity, are better than fear, we're better than hate, we're better than hiding under our beds while everyone else in our house is slaughtered. We are the ones who must let everyone in and, together, we can barricade the doors against hate. We CAN turn this world around, we CAN live in peace. But only if we refuse to react in fear.

"Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” - Yoda

"If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also." - Jesus

Friday, November 04, 2011

The "Why"

After quite a long hiatus, I am determined to get back to blogging. Because I have so many important things to say that you must know!

My inspiration comes now because November is National Adoption Month, and I have been thinking about blogging my experience in adopting a child.

My first post about my adoption experience: The "Why" - Why adopt?  Every parent's answer will probably be different.  Here's mine.

I have always known I would adopt someday.  Maybe that sounds strange, but I remember even in school knowing I would adopt.  I didn't know if I'd ever get married, or have biological children, but I knew I wanted to adopt.

As a kid, I remember feeling empathy even for stuffed animals that no one else wanted - the one with a torn ear, or a head sewn on crooked.  I always picked those ones, because I thought no one else would want them and they needed to be loved.  I made sure all my stuffed animals had room on my bed to sleep, even when I was sleeping on the edge.  I remember watching "Wednesday's Special Child" on the news, which featured kids who needed homes.  I wanted to give a loving home to a child someday, and my biggest dream was to be a parent.

And I did get married.  And around the 3rd year of our marriage, we decided to start trying for a child.  We felt ready and we both wanted children.  We weren't desperate or anything, so we just relaxed and hoped it would happen.  And we hoped. And we hoped.  And after a couple of years, I talked to my doctor, who determined I had hypothyroid.  Then he put me on Clomid.  And he tried Glucophage because I had some insulin resistance.  Five years after we started trying, it happened.  After taking about 50 pregnancy tests, losing weight, charting my temperature, and taking pills, I got a positive pregnancy test in 2003.  I felt like it was my miracle, like I had waited for this, and that all the grief and effort was worth it because I was getting my miracle.

I wept, I slept a lot, I craved spicy food, I wished and hoped and dreamed.  And then one day I had lower back pain.  And I called my doctor's office, who thought I was just constipated.  And the next day, I felt pressure.  And my water broke.  At 22 weeks, I went into labor.  After 18 hours, I delivered a tiny, perfect, and stillborn baby boy on November 13, 2003.  I share my experience here on my blog at: This is My Story, This is My Son.

Everything changed on that day.  There's no word for the opposite of "miracle."  Tragedy doesn't begin to describe how it feels to lose a child.  I talk a lot about my feelings and coping and crawling out of hell on my hands and knees in my blog.

It wasn't long before I got pregnant again.  And miscarried at 9 weeks in 2004.  It took me over a year, maybe two, to recover enough to even think about taking the chance to try again.  But eventually, the voice that whispered "motherhood" became louder than the voice that wanted to protect me from heartache.

So, in 2008, we decided to pursue both fertility treatments and international adoption and see what happened first.  We had friends who had adopted internationally and we attended a seminar on adoption.  We put in our application and paid our fee.  And I underwent fertility tests - painful, humiliating tests, but I knew they would be worth it if I got a baby.  Soon, we started treatments for IUI - Intrauterine Insemination.  I won't go into all the details, but the process included pills, shots, vaginal ultrasounds every 2 days, and nothing covered by insurance.  I was an emotional mess, my hormones were all over the place, and the last thing I needed was paperwork, so we put the adoption on hold.

By the summer of 2009, we had done 6 IUI attempts, and none were successful. We decided to move to IVF - In Vitro Fertilization.  A lot of the prep was the same - pills, shots, vaginal ultrasounds.  But instead of inseminating me, the eggs would be removed and fertilized, watched as they grew, and then the best ones put back into my uterus.  We had to pay the IVF fee upfront.  Once that was in place, we proceeded.  As this cycle progressed, it was clear that I was not responding with enough viable eggs to do the IVF.  So the cycle was "dropped" for IVF, and, so as not to waste the eggs that did grow, an IUI was done.  And I got pregnant.  And I miscarried again - this time so early that I would never have known I was pregnant if we weren't monitoring everything.

So, in March 2010, we decided adoption was the road for us.  We submitted our application again and requested Kazakhstan.  We chose to adopt internationally because, for me, it was a sure thing.  I knew people who had adopted in the U.S. who had to give their children back when the birth mother changed her mind.  Or had an open adoption where the birth mother was involved in the child's life.  I just didn't think I could handle that.  In addition, I've always felt deeply connected with the world, and so it felt very natural to adopt a child from another country, someplace where they might not have the opportunities children have here in the U.S.

People often ask why I would adopt from another country when we have so much need here.  Those are my reasons.  I've traveled to other countries, and I know that many countries do not have systems in place to care for children like we do in the U.S.  And, after so much loss, I could not cope if a birth mother changed her mind.

Right after we submitted our application, we learned that the Kazakhstan program had been closed indefinitely.  Because we were anxious to become parents, we were put into the Russia program since it was close in nature to the Kazakhstan program.  And thus began our adoption journey.

For more on my infertility journey or on the son I lost, Eroll, click the labels "infertility" or "Eroll" on the right.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Marcy's Illustrated Illness Timeline

After 2 days of fever and then breaking out into a rash all over my body, I decided it was time to call the doctor. I called on Monday, and by the time I talked to the receptionist, the nurse called me back, the nurse talked to the doctor, and then the nurse called me again, they didn't have appointments left on Monday and set the appointment for Tuesday.

Having been in bed a lot, and afraid to do much lest I infect anyone else with whatever I have, I got creative with charting my symptoms. I knew she'd want to know what date the fever started, what date the rash started, etc. But I took it a little step further and added my (very crude) illustrations.

My doctor LOVED it - and she never shows any emotion. In fact, I kind of make it my quest to make her at least crack a smile when I'm there. I often do my typical jokey thing or make snarky remarks and she just looks at me and moves on. On rare occasions I've been able to get her to smile or even chuckle slightly. Well, what I called "Marcy's Illustrated Illness Timeline" did the trick. She read the whole thing and thought it was great, she showed tons of emotion! She also asked doctor-type questions along the way and I filled in the blanks about my symptoms.

After she checked me out (I still had the rash all over my body and had swollen lymph nodes in my arm pits), she asked if she could keep my diagram. I said yes - but I wanted a copy if possible (you know, for my blog!). She had her nurse make a copy and I heard the other nurses and doctors who were at the nurses station laughing and checking it out, which made me happy. Spreading my own special brand of cheer, I present to you:

Marcy's Illustrated Illness Timeline
Disclaimer: I do not in any way pretend to be an artist or illustrator.

The verdict from the doctor: still unknown, but she suspected either Parvovirus, commonly called "fifth disease" or Coxsackie virus (and yes, I kept giggling internally when they said it at the doctor's office and at the lab) commonly called "Hand foot and mouth disease."

Parvovirus would be the human variety - dog parvovirus is different and they do not cross species. Both viruses are pretty common and if you've had a toddler/preschooler, you'll probably know what they are. Turns out I was exposed to parvovirus as my nephew had it 2 weeks ago, so that is the more likely culprit. Both are just viruses (virusi?) and have to just get out of your system. It's just unusual to get them as an adult and the viruses are a little different in grownups (kinda like chicken pox vs. shingles - same virus, different manifestation).

Knowing I am leaving for the Middle East in 2 weeks, she also ordered a white blood cell count to make sure I'm not having any immune system issues. I also got some good anti-inflammatory drugs that have helped the joint swelling and pain considerably.


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Hawk Eyes

Today, I went to the park. I'm still covered in a rash and my joints ache, but I can't stand to waste a sunny day by sitting inside when I could be observing wildlife. It was over 90 degrees today, so I decided to make it a relatively short venture. My plan, since I'm still achy, was to just find a quiet place and park it on a bench for a while with camera in hand.

I walked around a bit in this marshy area I like. Saw lots of birds, but wasn't able to capture all of them with the camera, they are too quick! And I only seem to see the frogs when they make a "peep!" and jump into the water after seeing me. Once I was drenched in sweat, I decided to sit on a bench in the shade. There were a lot of birds from this spot, but with all the trees, it's hard to capture them with the camera. Still enjoyable to watch them - many were eating the berries that are starting to ripen.

I heard a rustling noise to my right that sounded like something large. When I looked over, I first thought it was a groundhog or woodchuck - it was about the size of a basketball and looked brown and furry. There was a lot of brush, so I didn't get a very clear view of it, but then I saw its eyes and beak and realized it was a hawk or falcon or eagle.

I took a few photos as it looked right at me. Then it hopped forward and leaned down. I thought it was stalking some small prey in the brush and assumed at any moment I would see some commotion from that direction and the bird fly away with its meal. After several minutes, that did not happen. In fact, I saw no more movement from the direction of the bird, which was only about 15 feet from where I was sitting.

Before heading home, I decided to investigate the area. I figured when I got close, the bird would take flight. As I stepped into the brush, the only movement I saw was from hordes of flies converging on the feathered mass of the huge bird. It's body lay still in the grass. Twice I saw the bird shake the flies from its head, but that was the only movement I saw. It was obviously near death and the flies were wasting no time in the hot sun.

I didn't expect to find it dead, this majestic bird whose eyes had just been looking into mine. As I walked back to the car, I thought about the strange phenomenon of being the last living thing that another living thing saw before it died.

I have been the last living thing seen by a dying being before, both people and animals. I like to think it's an honor to have been that for another being, to be its last vision of this world. I hope my presence contributes to a gentle, empathic gateway to whatever realm waits for us in death. My experiences with death have been too often, but have also helped me to not be afraid of it. And I think being there when someone or something loses its grip on life connects you more closely to the spiritual.

*I now believe it was a Cooper's Hawk, but I'm not positive. It appeared to have died of natural causes (in other words, it wasn't shot).*

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Random Thoughts from a Day Home Sick in Bed

I spent 2 solid days home sick this week. Symptoms were fever (topped at 102.2), body aches, nausea, and exhaustion. I could barely find the energy to get to the bathroom, but did have my phone available to send Tweets and my iPod for playing games (although my head hurt so badly, I couldn't play them). I had a lot of mindless TV on while I was awake, just because I couldn't concentrate on anything more cerebral than that. Later in day 2, as I started feeling a little better and the fever broke, I started writing down the random thoughts I was having. I seem to have a lot of random thoughts!
  • Fevers make me feel all prickly, even on my head
  • Those Sarah McLachlan commercials for the ASPCA (fight animal cruelty) make me want to kill myself
  • Why am I still sweating???
  • People who are home during the day must really need car insurance
  • A power wheelchair really would improve my quality of life!
  • My whole body hurts, especially my joints
  • MonsterQuest on History might be my new favorite show
  • Do you think I could break a rib with a hiccup? Feels like I did.
  • Court shows teach you a good lesson: always get it in writing!
  • Les Paul died. Bummer. :(
  • Acetaminophen works better than ibuprofen for me. Good to know.
  • Snake handling as a religious ritual is still legal in West Virginia
  • I think it's a sign you are feeling better when you think your own body stinks
  • A girl's name on a court show: "Soprecious"
  • I think I would like a panic room, just for fun
  • Being sick in the summer sucks. Having a fever in the summer really sucks.