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Saturday, September 29, 2012

10 and 9...

Today, September 29, mark the 10 and 9 year anniversaries of my babies who were on this earth but for a brief moment...tucked quietly away in the center of my being.  For in a single moment, a moment not known to anyone, they were whisked away and made whole and perfect. 

Some Septembers come and go, and I spend very little time thinking about them.  Other Septembers, like this September, I find myself remembering each detail of their pregnancies, and watching the days on the calendar, count down, one by one to their anniversaries.  Miscarriage has been VERY difficult, emotional and painful for me.  Over the years, I have learned it is something that is really not talked about, but so MANY women have experienced miscarriage.
My 3 miscarriages will be forever etched on my heart.  The first miscarriage awakened within me a deep desire to be a mother, and it left me feeling cheated, lied to, and despair.  We had spent 13 weeks planning a life, a hope and a future for our son, and in one was GONE. 

Mostly though...miscarriage left me desperate.  The emptiness that plagued me for the next six months was horrible.  I watched friend after friend get pregnant or give birth, and each time a friend would make a joyful announcement, it stung, like a sharp slap in the face.  I felt as though I was being picked on in a series of cruel jokes (even though I knew I wasn't).  My body refused to do the very thing it was designed to.  I was left feeling like a failure as a woman. 

The second miscarriage was defeating.  I was robbed again.  8 weeks went by this time.  Even though my heart had been more reserved, I had ordered maternity clothes, made announcements and even picked out a name...for a daughter this time.  I would walk the baby isles in Target, Walmart and Babies R Us, planning, waiting and dreaming.  In a moment, she too was GONE.  More announcements would come....more tears would fall.  I spent many nights laying on the floor sobbing, crying out to God.  The next months that followed the miscarriage were almost unbearable as I watched my father die of cancer.  More death.  More pain.  GONE.

Then my little light the form of a foster baby needing a forever family.  He changed my life's course.  I began to see that perhaps God did know what He was doing. 
After Luke's adoption, my third miscarriage.  This one came as a complete shock, as everything was going so well.  I can still remember the day the doctor told us she was gone (down to the detail of what I was wearing).  Laying on the examine table, watching the doctor's face as he kept searching and searching for her heartbeat was agonizing.  GONE.

A few months later, we welcomed our princess Grace into our home as a foster-to-adopt baby.  She's still here!  God had a purpose.
Attempting another pregnancy after the 3 back-to-back miscarriages was agonizing.  It wasn't until the 3rd miscarriage that doctors began piecing together why this kept happening.  We were incredibly blessed to be given Isabella as a gift.  As I held her those first few months, I wondered how having her would effect the pain I hid in my heart surrounding my miscarriages.  Even though I gave birth, it did not erase the hurt.  In someways, it has intensified the pain.  I now have a full realization of what I missed out on.  Holding them as infants, smelling them, rocking them, feeding them.  I have spent many more hours wondering what they might have looked like.  More tears have been cried. 
You would think after finally having 3 baby showers of my own, I would be able to attend them without feelings of pain. Or that I would be able to go to church on Mother's day without feeling like the earth was caving in.  Neither of those are true, even with Isabella in my arms.  Baby showers still bring about feelings of loss for me.  It is difficult for me to explain why.  I also still do not attend church on Mother's day.  Mother's Day has wounded me so deeply in the past that I choose to celebrate it simply.

"He gives and takes away...blessed be the name of the Lord".  This is a famous song that we sing in church from time to time.  I heard that song for the first time right after my 3rd miscarriage in 2005.  I stood in church and sobbed.  I have to be honest and tell you that it took me several months to be able to sing that song "He gives and takes away, he gives and takes away, my heart will choose to say...Lord blessed be your name."   

My heart has been scarred and stretched with the grief of losing 3 littles too early.  It also has said good-bye to 11 other foster children that I was a "for awhile mommy" too.  Those are painful partings also.  You get attached, you love, you give yourself away to those babies, and then they move on.  It is the way it is supposed to work, but it doesn't stop the pain.  You grieve, you heal, you do it all over again, and become a part in a story of a child.  Most people don't know this...but I was an almost mommy to a sweet baby girl we were supposed to get from the hospital.  She is 5 years old now.  Not a day goes by where I don't pray for her. 
Today...I was driving home from the grocery store with tears rolling down my cheeks, thinking about each one of those babies, imagining what they looked like.  Letting myself feel and accepting the emotions.  Grief is such a mysterious thing, and I feel best described as a wave.  Waves can be small and gentle or fierce with fury.  They can be non-existent and then a storm can come in.  That is the way my grief has been.  Quiet at times and all encompassing at other times.  I like to think of my 3 babies hanging out with my dad, him watching over them, my grandma doting on them, my grandpa teasing them, my aunt enjoying them.  Someday....

Friday, September 7, 2012

Wall-Pops and Fish Oil

I am ashamed to admit, that even just 5 years ago, I didn't give any thought to organic vs non organic foods, chemicals, food dyes and allergies.  Those thoughts never even crossed my mind.  I wouldn't have understood the terms "gluten-free", "Feingold" or the "brain-gut connection".  Raising special needs children has RADICALLY changed how I view food, and has had a huge impact on how I plan and feed our little family.  I do not consider myself to be an "expert" by any means, but I have done quite a bit of research and reading to feel like I can provide our family with healthy choices.
During the summer, I ventured out of my "comfort zone" and decided to visit a naturopathic doctor.  Our primary care physician didn't give much thought or weight to the idea that diet has a impact on a child's overall health/attention span/or hyperactivity.  In my research as a teacher, and a mom, I disagreed.  I have seen the profound changes in students who would go on these specialized diets.  I knew that the "brain-gut connection" was a REAL thing.  The naturopathic doctor helped educate me further on the use of some supplements as well as what diet would be best for my son.  We eliminated artificial sugar, dyes and added fish oil, magnesium calm and digestive enzymes to his diet (and Grace's as well).  Bella is too young still for some of those supplements.   So it was needless to say that our diet shifted.

Each week I sit down with the ads in the newspaper and plan our menu.  I use an organizational planning menu that has a box for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.  I write all the meals/food in the boxes and then make my shopping list off of the menu planner.  It is a great system for me.  I then post the menu on the fridge so my husband knows the plan and he helps by sticking to it as much as possible too. 

Since my son Luke is a great reader and likes to be involved, I found these Wall-Pops (that are reusable giant stickers), that you can write on with a dry erase markers.  I have written down several low sugar (1g or less) snack ideas, so that he can be independent as possible.  It is also just a great visual for all of us and a reminder of what some excellent snack choices are. 

I also enjoy using my Crock-pot A LOT!  I love that I always feel so organized when I cook with the crock pot.  I really would like to purchase in the near future a recipe book written by Crockin' Girls.  It has tons of recipes that can cooked in the crock pot. 

I am happy to report I have noticed some improvements in attention/focus with Luke since eliminating food dyes and sugars and adding fish oil and the other supplements.  I didn't expect the new diet to be a cure (as it is nearly impossible for neurological issues to be corrected), but the diet is another "tool" that we use to help him be the best he can be.  He is really great about asking if there is food dye in something.  I am proud of him!

So that is just a little bit about my journey into healthier food, and how I plan to feed my family each week!
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