Friday, November 12, 2010

HALLOWEEN!

Sophie's first Halloween was nothing less than a huge success! She was ADORABLE in her little lady bug costume hand crafted by her extremely gifted mother, Rebecca! (when I grow up I wanna be like her) I'll post some pictures here for y'all to see. Unfortunately I was out of town Halloween weekend and was not present when Soph and the Fam stopped by for some tricks-and-treats. But they stayed and hung with my family for awhile while enjoying bits of pumpkin cheesecake. My brother took a video that I will post soon. It was such a treat to come home from my trip and see the recording of her visit. Her two brothers were just as dressed up as she was in hand made costumes and incredible make up! Caleb's hair was dyed black and it looked awesome! Rand had some amazing make-up going on as well:) The day before I left town I did get to see Sophie in her little outfit in person. We attended the Halloween Group Party, which was so fun! Thanks to all who helped put it together!

Anyway, here are the pics!:)



Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Coping at Almost Five Months

I woke up today, looked out my window, and what did I see? SNOW...yup that's right, SNOW. Not a good start to my day. I have the worst physical and emotional reactions to cold weather. No one knows why, it's been that way since I was a tiny chidlet.

Anyway, I've been thinking a lot lately about adoptive couples and the different adoption relationships I've seen over the past year. I just want to say, I AM SO BLESSED. Troy and Rebecca, (for those of you who don't know, they're Sophie's parents) are SO GREAT. I have seen birth mom's crushed and ruined because of the relationships they strive to maintain between their adoptive families. It breaks my heart and I often find myself aching for them, somehow wishing I could mend the issues. But I can't, every adoption is SO different and you have to take it all in stride.

I just feel like bragging for a moment, I'm sorry if this is annoying to any of you. But I want to voice my gratitude. Troy and Rebecca have done more for me and my family then I ever imagined. They go over board to make sure I feel loved and appreciated. I am never afraid to confront them with an issue or question because I know no doors will be slammed in my face. They are always there to listen and reevaluate our relationship so that everyone involved is well taken care of. They are so perfect for my little girl. I couldn't have asked for better. I can't even express to you how comforting it is as a birth mother, to know that Sophie will ALWAYS be loved and taken care of. I have no fear and no regrets. That is something that not all birth moms can say. THANK YOU.

Adoptive couples cease to amaze me. I have met several couples over the past year, and not one of them didn't I like. Looking back at the beginning of my pregnancy, I remember feeling some resentment towards them. The adoption world was so new to me, I hardly understood a thing. I just had absolutely NO idea what they go through, or that they even experience grief. I never would have known how difficult adoption is for adoptive couples had I not gone through my own adoption experience. It wasn't until just before my own placement, that I learned what placement was like for ACs. Did I think that day was hard for them? NOPE. They were gaining an addition to their family, what's so sad about that? Well, there's a lot of pain when you know you're happiness comes at another's expense. It's the most bittersweet moment for them, and it's not all roses and daises...despite what I initially thought. ACs have a strength I am just beginning to comprehend. They are truly amazing, strong people who have inspired me in many ways and on many different occasions.

Here are some recent pics of the Soph!:) She's getting cuter every day! Halloween is coming up and Rebecca made her the CUTEST costume, I'll be sure to post pictures of that soon.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Life Is Simple If You Let It Be

Life IS simple. I promise. I've been thinking A LOT lately about what I want in life, and where I need to go. And I think the most important thing I've learned is that things are only as big, hard, or frustrating as I let them be. I've hit an interesting curb recently, one that has truly helped in my personal progression. And this is it: Some days are going to suck, some days are never going to end, and some days I may want to give up...but is life going to stop and wait for me to catch up? NO. So keep pushing and know that things always get better. As long as I'm doing my best. I feel like I've gone from this oober stressed, freaked out individual to a really laid back, "I can do this" mentality. And it is AWESOME:) I recommend it to anyone. Being part of an adoption story has opened my eyes to the things that truly matter. And I've learned a few things. Such as: people (including myself) complain about really stupid things that can easily be fixed with some good ol' positive self talk, there's a lot of unnecessary over evaluating in this world, and immaturity runs deep in the roots of humanity. Well, honestly, I just felt like expressing that:) Everything is good and busy around here still. I visited Sophie today at her home and got to spend time with her and her family. It was wonderful:) She's getting huge! I'll post some pictures asap. Still as cute as can be though, that hasn't changed:)

Monday, August 9, 2010

Birth Mother Blurb

So before I get started, I just want to say this post is going to be a vent session, and a graphic one at that. But educational, so please read:) Throughout my adoption journey I've met several wonderful birth moms...and several not so wonderful. But I appreciate both kinds because I learn from each. But as I've become close friends with other birth moms I've come to the realization that we all have one HUGE thing in common, yet all our stories and situations are SO different. Mainly due to the difference in our personalities. For example, I'd say I heal quick, I don't like talking about sex, and I think there is such a thing as stupid questions. But what's life without variety right? It keeps things interesting. Anyway, as I was out with some fellow birth moms tonight I realized that I may not have found my place just yet. I don't understand how girls like me can find pleasure in talking about the one thing that got us into this mess in the first place. Yeah, we're adults, and yeah it's part of life, but that doesn't mean it's ok. Am I really so weird that I've only slept with one guy in my entire life? I'm sorry, should I have slept with more, where did I miss the memo? I will openly admit that I don't like talking about it because it is a personal weakness. And if I were smart, I'd avoid that weakness at all costs, even in speech. Well, these girls are my closest friends, and I believe in being open with them so I guess it's time for a girl talk...bleh, I'm so not looking forward to this.

Anyway, on to another topic. I want to tell the world a little more about the fears we have as birth moms. Our fears are deep and they are real. Why? BECAUSE WE ARE NORMAL PEOPLE WHO LIVE AND BREATHE THE SAME AIR AS YOU DO. We're not psycho freaks who place their babies because we're void of any emotion.
Fears of birthparents:
  • Telling your story to others and having them misunderstand.
  • Everyone believes you have mental issues and that's why you couldn't keep your child.
  • That you were heavily into drugs and couldn't keep your child.
  • That I'm just irresponsible and don't have the maturity to take care of my baby.
  • Misunderstanding that just because we miss our child, doesn't mean that we regret our choice to place our baby for adoption.
  • Being told you're not a good enough mother and you abandoned your baby.
  • Adoption was just a way to hide the "unwanted" pregnancy. (Our babies are never UNWANTED. We have always wanted them.)
  • Everyone will think I never wanted my baby or I took the "easy way out."
  • Going back to old habits and my birth child hating me for not changing or being better for them.
  • Your adoptive family won't tell your birth child who you are and you did everything out of love.
  • Birth child not knowing you love them.
  • Never being able to get used to the title as "birth mother" not "mother."
  • Worry the adoptive parents will get a divorce.
  • I will do or say something wrong so the adoptive family will hold my birth child hostage and never let me see them.
  • I will do or say something wrong to my birth child and they will no longer want contact with me.
  • My birth child will think being adopted is a burden and hate me for it.
  • My birth child will think they were an accident or a mistake.
  • They will hate hearing that they look like their birth parents.
  • Worried how to tell the guys I'm dating that I've had a baby and placed the baby for adoption.
  • Never being married so then I won't be able to have my own kids later unless I am artificially inseminated.
  • How my birth son/birth daughter will feel when I do get married and decided to have kids...it's that whole "why will you keep them but not me" thing.
  • After placing, your child will instantly forget you and won't want you to hold them.
  • Feel awkward seeing the adoptive family after placement.
  • Living the rest of my life regretting the adoption.
We also experience pain. Go figure right? Well, surprisingly some adoptive couples (heck some people, not just ACs) don't understand that we hurt even with an open adoption. I have a birth mother friend who had some good points on her blog, in fact the above fears come from her, thanks steph:) and these quotes come from her blog too, I hope she doesn't mind, but they express exactly how it feels to be a birth mom at times.

“Trust me I know how it feels I know exactly how it feels to cry in the shower so no one can hear you. I know what it’s like to wait for everyone to be asleep so you can fall apart for everything to hurt so bad you just want it to end, I know exactly how it feels”

"Ever have that feeling in your heart where it hurts so bad, words could never do it justice? Where you don't know if you should laugh from the unimaginable pain that you feel, or cry. Where it hurts too much to be real. That feeling where your chest aches, and it's hard to breathe. You want to scream, but the pain has taken away your voice. Leaving you silent and empty. That's how I feel right now."

"Real loss only occurs when you lose something you love more than yourself"

"One of the greatest discoveries a [woman] makes, one of [her] greatest surprises, is to find [she] can do what [she] was afraid [she] couldn't."

"God places the heaviest burdens on those who can carry its weight"

"When I was afraid of everything, I was never afraid to love you"

I love all these quotes. As birth moms, we make a huge sacrifice, and I'm not saying we should be praised for it. I'm saying that I firmly believe educating people about all ends of an adoption story is so important. Which is why I LOVE hearing Adoptive couples tell their story. So, that's my blurb for the day. Till next time!:)

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Life Can Be Crazy

I have finally been able to sit, catch my breath, and blog for a bit:) Can I just say that life never slows down, I swear! It's insane. One thing after the next. I work every day of my life and free time is truly a sweet rarity theses days. Which is nice. I am one of those weirdos who thrives off being busy. It makes me feel like I'm accomplishing something.

So update on Sophie. She just had her 2 month Dr. appointment and she's almost 10 pounds!!! We thought she'd never get there she's so tiny. Her mom says she's more and more alert all the time and she's starting to hold her head up all by herself. I can't believe how time flies...So all in all she's doing wonderful. Healthy as ever!

I attended the FSA (Families Supporting Adoption) conference last week, and had a fabulous time. I stayed at a hotel with some of my close birth mother friends, and we had a blast. I learned A TON. I met tons of people associated with adoption in several different ways and it was wonderful hearing all ends of adoption stories. I made new friends and had a great time:) Troy and Rebecca were unable to attend this year, but they best come next year! haha While at the conference, I had the goal in mind to learn more about adoptive couples, and what they experience. I wanted to understand adoption from their perspective. So, I went to a few classes that were mostly intended for adoptive couples. I was shocked to learn that some ACs don't understand why birth mothers experience such pain and grief with an open adoption. I was also surprised to hear that some ACs miss and love their birth mothers like family, where as others don't. I liked hearing about the grief that ACs experience with infertility and the joy that comes when they have the opportunity to start a family. I feel honored to be a birth mother. Even with the good, the bad, and the ugly, it's all worth it.

Yesterday I met with my case worker and discussed where I'm at with my healing process. I told her that I no longer NEED to see Sophie in order to heal. I realize now that my healing is up to me, in my mind and in my heart. It's all dependent on my own personal choices. I have reached the point where visits with Sophie and her family are times I look forward to, like Christmas:) My happiness should not be dependent on anyone but me, and I've finally reached that point. Apparently I'm a bit ahead of the game, which was so good to hear. My case worker wants me to start being a little more involved with FSA, so she is going to assign me to a sub committee. My job will be to blog/photograph all of FSA's events on our chapter blog. I'll also interview adoptive couples and post their stories on line. I'm looking forward to it all!:)

Well, back to reality! 'Till next time!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Saturday, July 10, 2010

New Beginnings

It's been a while since I've written due to loss of internet access and a new job. I finally landed the internship of my dreams at Highland Fire Department working as an EMT!!!!:) Let me tell you, it is the FUNNEST most EXCITING job of my life. I don't get paid much because I'm just an intern for now, but maybe some day I'll be able to move up to a part time employee. Meanwhile I'm looking for a second job as an ER Technician at Provo hospital. I pray I get the job! I just got off a 24 hour shift at the station, after which I had to run home and get ready for the American Fork parade where I marched with an LDS Family services FSA (Families Supporting Adoption) float. I'm soooo tired and will be taking an afternoon nap here pretty soon. I didn't get any sleep last night because we had emergency calls, which I totally don't mind. I'd rather be going on calls than sleeping any day. I have so many stories from work even after just two weeks of employment. I LOVE the job. The guys decided I needed to have some sort of "initiation" yesterday so they dared me to drink a whole gallon of milk in an hour. If I completed the task, they'd award me with $100. P.S. it was whole milk...bleh:P I almost did it! I got 3/4 of the way through and then I almost threw up, so needless to say, I didn't recieve the $100 but I am officially initiated...ha! whatever, I only tried it because they doubted my abilities and I was up to a challenge. Anyway, I hated milk before, but now I really hate it.

So, update on Sophie and her goings on. She is still as tiny as can be, though she drinks 4 ounces of milk ever 3 hours of so. She's a chow hound! But a cute one at that! Her hair is growing longer, thicker, and redder all the time. She just barely started to smile in reaction to people. It is THE cutest thing ever. She has so many funny faces that she makes, she's very animated and it's to-die-for adorable! And her sweet mom took tons of pictures of her smiling, so I will be sure to post those very soon for all to see. We also got our professional photos back from Peekaboo Portraits, so I'll post those as well. Sophie is on a plane at this very moment headed to Virigina with mom and dad. They'll be spending the whole next week there at an EFY while the boys stay at home enjoying time with their grandparents. Anywho...that's the jist of it. Things are going great between me and my adoptive family, the Mathesons. I love them to pieces and can't wait for our big BBQ coming up on the 26th!

As far as my emotional healing process...things are going great. I have gone from having 3-4 horrible days in a row to 3-4 bad hours every now and then. I am slowly building up my confidence and moving on with my life in positive ways. And though my heart still aches and I still have questions, I am at peace knowing that Sophie is being so loved and taken care of and that I can see her again. Adoption is amazing people, I just want to put that out there. It has changed/blessed my life, as well as many others. Till next time!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Wednesday Visit With Sopharina

video

Here's a video for y'all to see:) I went to visit Sophie and the rest of the fam on Wednesday. While there, Troy decided Sophie should start practicing her drill team skills. She'll be a fabulous dancer for sure thanks to her pappi;) And that's the picture Rebecca took while I sat and enjoyed the smell of baby barf. Gotta love it!:)

oh p.s. in the video I say, "look how red her hair is" and it doesn't even look red. It is though, I promise. The lighting didn't show it off apparently cause it looked red in person. And my video camera is bad quality. bummer.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Silver Lining

It's an up day everyone:) Well, the past two days have been great actually. Yesterday I got to spend time at the Matheson abode and enjoy time with them and little Soph:) It was tons o' fun; filled with excitement and two little boys running on tanks of energy. They never fail to crack me up. And might I say how much Sophie has grown in just the past week! Not weight wise...heck she's still as tiny and petite as can be. But her hair has grown a ton (and it's coming in even more red!:)) and she is much more alert and attentive. I love to see her smile because of her cute little dimples, they're the best! Oh, and probably one of my favorite parts of the visit was seeing her interaction with her daddy. Oh my goodness...does she love him. I saw him pick her up, say a few words, and immediately she was whipping her head around to locate his face. Once she had, she gave him the biggest grin. It was so cute to watch!:) And of course her mommy has "the mother's touch" and is able to settle Sophie down within minutes. That was amazing to see as well. Sophie recognized my voice, but I have a harder time getting her to calm down. Obviously...she's not used to me. But that's ok!:) I got to try shooshing her and eventually she stopped crying one of the times. I still feel like I'm going to break her whenever I hold her, so I catch myself being kind of clumsy and careful. She does a lot of head whipping, which scared me because I forgot to watch out for that. She just doesn't have that muscle control yet which is totally normal for her age. Oh! And Sophie totally vomited ALL over my hair when I was burping her...it was so lovely. I wore it with pride haha totally joking...but Rebecca did make me sit there while she took a picture. It smelt awful!

Anyway....Sophie is beautiful as ever, and doing great. Her mom has had pnemonia the past week so daddy's been stepping in to help out. I have been sick as well but am feeling much better. I had college orientation today, I am all prepped and ready to go for the fall semester at UVU as a pre-med major. I'm so excited!:) Tomorrow I'm heading up to Idaho to spend the weekend with my friend and her room mates so that will be fun too. Well, that's the jist on things right now. Till next time!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

AGH!

Alright, we all have our ways of coping right? Well, one of my favorites and most effective is blogging. I guess you don't have to read my blog if you don't want to, if you find it disturbing haha. It is my on line journal however, so logically I'd fill it with my thoughts and feelings, good and bad. I do apologize in advance however, because this is one of those "bad" times.

It has been 3 weeks since I had Sophie, two and half since placing her. She has already grown up so much, it is amazing how much progress baby's make just within the first month! I feel like I'm missing out, and in all reality, I am. It's coming to terms with that that I'm struggling with. She's so much more alert now compared to the last time I saw her! The Mathesons do the best they can to keep me updated and informed, so why is it that I still feel left in the dark? No one knows...and I am so sick of it. I can't eat. I can't sleep. Crying is apparently my new favorite past time. I want this to stop. And from what I've learned through other birth moms, it will. I just need to give it time and have patience. Heck, it's only been 2 1/2 weeks! Seems like a life time though...I am so frustrated. I am doing all the right things: going to church, going to institute, praying, reading my scriptures, building my testimony, DOING MY PART. So why is it that I am still unhappy? I pray for happiness every night. I guess I haven't earned it yet? Because I can think of no other explanation.

Ugh, I could blab forever. And I apologize for puting a damper on the mood, but I needed to vent, and vent honestly. I am very obviously going through a difficult, bitter stage. I just pray it doesn't last much longer.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Oh...Being a Birth Mom

Well, I've had several people ask me if I'd please write an update since I don't answer phone calls yet...sorry everyone. It's a hard time and I just wouldn't quite know what to say yet. I do however, REALLY appreciate everyone's love, concern, and prayers. It means the world to have such a huge support system. Thank you.

Ok, well, as you can imagine, adjusting to this new life style is extremely difficult. I often find myself at a loss with myself. All you mothers out there can understand when I say, that having a child brings with it natural, motherly instincts. I have motivation for one thing, and that one thing is impossible for me to do. The only motivation I have left in me is to be caring for something...for someone. But I can't do that, and that's something that with time, I'm going to learn to accept. Everything inside of me is telling me I should be exhausted due to late nights with a baby, not because I spent the whole night crying. The fact is, what I'm going through just isn't "natural". It's not natural to be torn from your other half. I willingly placed Sophie for adoption, so it makes my adjustment even more difficult. How do I mean? I mean, that placing Sophie was a type of loss. When someone you love dies, that's a loss. But death happens whether we WILL it or not. This adoption happened because I willed it and now I'm having to learn to accept my decision and move on. Basically what I'm trying to say, is I'm experiencing a loss that took place because of my own decisions, so I have to accept that. In order to do that I constantly remind myself of why I did it, and why it's right.

Grieving takes time and as well all know there are certain stages. Anger, denial, acceptance, etc. I find myself reaching every stage throughout each day. Some times I'm mad because I'm hurting, sometimes I'm just plain depressed, and some times I'm at total peace. It changes, and that's normal. I don't want anyone to think that I regret placing Sophie for adoption. I would NEVER take it back. She has everything I've ever dreamed for her and I am being taken care of as well. Adoption is just hard. Simple as that. And I have every right to grieve in the ways that will make it possible for me to heal.

I've had people ask me what the hardest thing about adoption is. I tell them two things. First, the fact that my relationship with my daughter is in someone else's hands. And second, the fact that I can never REALLY tell my adoptive couple how I feel. BUT THAT'S OK. Why? Because in adoptions, the adoptive couple has every right to feel joy, love, excitement, happiness, etc. And how can they possibly do that if they're constantly reminded of how they're joy is coming at someone else's expense? I put myself in their shoes and know what I would and wouldn't want to hear from my birth mom, and that's how I govern myself with the Mathesons.

Anyway, that's the jist of it. I'm doing as well as can be expected. I've seen Sophie three times since placement, and I get to see her tomorrow. yay!:) Some days are harder than others. But if I could name one thing that gets me through those harder days, it's Heavenly Father. It's prayer. Well, and my amazing parents...and sometimes a big bowl of ice cream;)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A Testimony of Birth Mothers

This is a blog entry that I copied and pasted from another blog. I hope the author doesn't mind, I'm just trying to spread her word because I think what she says here is AMAZING. I have visited her blog, and you can find her adoption (Family Journey into Eternity- Hoping to Adopt and Complete or Family) blog here. And her open adoption (Matters of the Heart) blog here.
MY TESTIMONY OF BIRTH MOTHERS
My name is Karine and I made this blog because I wanted to share the many things I have learned so far in my adoption journey. (just for the record, I am a hopeful adoptive parent, have not yet been chosen or blessed by a birth mothers love) At first I didn't understand the selfless love these woman were capable of. The strength they had to do the right thing for their child. I didn't understand who these woman were, how they came to these choices and why it is important to have an open adoption. I was uneducated and my fears were that "OPEN" meant the birth parents could come in and take my child from me or that they would want to be the parent and over step their boundaries. NONE OF THIS IS TRUE!!!!!! It is really important that people know this!!!!!! That they realize adoption is about the CHILD. The LOVE for the child. These woman are amazing women!!!!! Sadly many of these woman are not appreciated enough, respected enough or loved enough for their selfless act of love for the child they brought into this world. I took some educational classes on open adoption and about birth mothers through my adoptionagency, LDS Family Services. There was a wonderful birth mother panel one night. I think those are the most effective classes ever! There sat before me were 7 amazing women who chose to place their child with families. ONLY 2 out of the 7 had a wonderful experience with their adoptive couples they chose. Only 2 had an open adoption after papers were signed and the child was placed.ONLY 2 actually received what they were told they would in the relationship with the adoptive family. The rest thought they were going to be able to have an open adoption, but shortly after papers were signed, things were closed off for them. IT BROKE MY HEART to see these woman so badly treated, mislead and lied to. Their heart ache was felt by all those in that room that night. My husband and I sat there with streams of tears flowing down our cheeks. These woman I have come to LOVE AND RESPECT! They are AMAZING to me! I am BLESSED for knowing them! The more I learned the more I realized that these woman don't want to come and take the child back. They just want to be apart of watching the child grow up. They don't want to play MOMMY either.They want to be recognized for who they are, the BIRTH MOTHERS!The wonderful woman who brought these children into the world. They have the RIGHT to LOVE this child as any adoptive parent through out the child's life! The child deserves to have BOTH his Mother's Love, to know where he/she came from.
I know that our birth mother will be able to give our child something I may not be able to give that child, a sense of where they came from.To have an open adoption to me, means making my birth mother family. She will be my friend/sister.We will communicate a lot... our feeligns and thoughts. She will know how I feel and if i am uncomfortable with anything and I will know what her needs are. If she needs more pictures, more communication, even visits or if she needs space. To me, open adoption is about love and the child. Giving that child the best of both worlds. More people to love him/her and to be apart of his/her life. More understanding of how special they are and how Heavenly Father has a plan and purpose for all of us and some of them come through the gift of a birth mothers love.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

See Ya Later


So today was my first time seeing Sophie since placement. I know it was only last Friday, but it feels like years ago that I placed her in Rebecca's arms. It's amazing how much she's grown in only a week! She's s till super thin, though she appears to be chubbing up in the face a bit. Her arms and legs are so long and petite we just love it! She's absolutely beautiful. Anyway, Rebecca came by with Sophie around 12:30 today to visit before we headed off with Troy to a fancy photo shoot. The pictures taken at the photo shoot were highly professional and totally catalogue worthy. I will be posting some of them when we get them, no worries. I was so excited to see Sophie again, along with the rest of my family. It was like Christmas! I got to love on her, kiss her, and feed her over the span of a few hours and it was just wonderful. I'm so grateful for Troy and Rebecca and the open relationship we have. I know that each time I'm with Sophie, it's never a good bye, it's a "See ya later". And that's what keeps me going.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Picture Perfect










Troy and Rebecca gave me several wonderful gifts at placement. The one shown in the picture to the right is a beautiful photo frame with a picture of me and Sophie and that quote. It now sits on my night stand and I absolutely love it. The next photo is of a necklace Rebecca had made for me that I received at placement. She wears a similar charm around her wrist on a bracelet and Sophie has one that matches too. I'll post a picture of that as well. The rest of the pictures are ones of Sophie and the first few days of her life. I could go on and on about how it makes me feel to watch her grow in the arms of another family, but I won't. The only thing people need to know is that, right along with me, you can watch her learn and grow through this blog. I will be posting new updates and photos consistently so be sure to check in every now and then!:)

Sophie ShaNae Matheson

On June 1st, 2010, the most beautiful baby girl entered this world. She weighed 6 lbs 11 oz and was 19 1/2 inches long. She has strawberry blond hair and adorable dimples when she smiles. This precious little girl is my daughter, Sophie. After a long 9 months of anxiously waiting, she arrived right on her due date. Which just goes to show that she's very special, seeing as only 2% of babies come on their due date;). Before I get into the emotional aspect of things I'll give a time line of how things went that day. I went in for an OBGYN appointment at 9:00 that morning. At approximately 11:30, my doctor came in and stripped my membranes. He said that I would feel some pain the rest of the day and then sent me off with a paper telling me to come in Thursday at 7:30 to be induced. Well, I instantly felt crampy and nasty and by noon I was experiencing my first major contractions. I got home by 12:15 and decided to stay home for a couple hours just to make sure I wasn't having false labor. By 2:30 we were out the door, on our way back to the hospital. By 4:30 they had my epidural in place and were wheeling me into a delivery room. Sophie was ready to come by 7:00 p.m. but they waited as long as they could so that her head was really low. She was delivered at 9:08 p.m.

The whole process went so unbelievably well and smoothly. I know it's a miracle and I have the prayers of many to thank for the safe arrival of my little girl. She came by the use of forceps and they hardly left a mark on her tiny little head. It was by far the most amazing, spiritual experience I've ever had. My mom and Rebecca were in the delivery room with me. Rebecca cut Sophie's umbilical cord and even kept the bloody shears! haha I told her she should frame them. Sophie cried when she came out, like babies should, but immediately calmed down once placed on top of my chest.

Ok, now for the hard part. I was in the hospital for three days. By noon on Friday, I was released. Once home, I was able to spend a few hours with Sophie before heading to the adoption placement. We took a nap, curled up on my parents bed, and then woke to bathe and get dressed. 5:00 p.m. was our scheduled time to meet at LDS Family Services and do placement. We arrived on time and while I was signing paper work, Sophie's birth father was in another room with Sophie and the Mathesons, saying his goodbyes. Once that was over, my parents, Sophie, and I met with the Mathesons in what they call the "group room". We exchanged gifts and spent some time together talking, exchanging memories. Then, I asked to have some alone time with Sophie. Everyone (meaning Troy, Rebecca, my mom and dad, and our case workers) left the room while I shared some final moments with Sophie. I talked to her, I prayed for strength, and I fed her a bottle. After about 20 minutes I was ready to go. I felt like I was dragging out the pain. So I called them back in and I handed Sophie to Rebecca, exchanged tight hugs, and left. And that was it. Sophie was gone.

I had spent the past 9 months preparing for that final moment. The moment when I'd literally have to say goodbye and relinquish my parental rights. Well, I can tell you that no amount of counseling could have prepared me for the real thing. It was the most heart breaking moment of my life. Living through that first night without Sophie was the hardest thing I've ever had to do. My arms literally ached to hold her in my arms. The memories of her sweet little face and her big beautiful eyes looking up at me caused me so much emotional pain that it actually became physical. I couldn't breathe and I couldn't function. I barely made it through that first night. I was screaming out prayers to just make it through with out going insane. It's only been two days now, and it's still extremely hard, but I can already feel Heavenly Father easing my pain. I know that the pain will never fully leave me, but I do know that it will fade to a point where I can start to live again. I'm sorry, I'm not censoring any of this because I'm trying to express how it REALLY felt/feels. I want my friends and family to know as much as they can, what I've experienced. This whole thing has been really hard for not only me, but my family as well. It's been an amazing, hard journey for all of us.

I want everyone to know how much the Mathesons mean to me. The adoption itself was/is extremely agonizing and painful, but the Mathesons have made it 100 times easier. They have opened their hearts and arms to me and my family. They text me pictures of Sophie every few hours just to reassure me that she's alive and safe. They allow me any kind of contact I need to fully heal from this experience, and not just me, but my family as well. They have become another branch to our family and because of that, I know that anyone who wants to, can meet little Sophie. She is a part of the Shumway/McCleskey family. The adoption doesn't change that. She's my little angel, my most precious gift. I have entrusted her to a family that can offer her more than I ever could. I've heard several other birth moms say that their adoptions were made easier because they felt like they were carrying some one else's baby. Well, I never felt like that. I have always felt like Sophie was my daughter, fully and completely, and that I was her mother. And THAT is why I had to make the choice. The choice that no one else could that would determine the quality of her future. As her mother, I had to choose what was best, since she lacked the ability to choose for herself. I know that I love Sophie with all my heart. I have never experienced this kind of love before now. It is incredible. And it is because I love her that I was able to let her go. I put her needs before my own, and though extremely painful and heart breaking, it was right. And I know I'll be blessed for it. I can't wait to create more and more memories with her throughout her life. I am so blessed to even have that choice. Thank you Troy and Rebecca. Thank you for taking such good care of her, and me.

After placement, my parents drove me straight to the pet store where I picked out a little female kitten to take home with me. Her purpose is to help fill the void Sophie left and to distract me from time to time when the pain is too much. I'll post pictures of her and Sophie. Oh, and the kitten's name is Hannah, after the woman in the bible who adopted her son out to the Lord.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Open Adoption

Over the past nine months I have been blessed with an extremely loving, supportive family. Extended and immediate. With such a large group of people I knew there were bound to be a few who would need a little help understanding open adoption. And that is totally fine. 9 months ago, adoption was a foreign subject to me as well, and if someone would have told me that now days, adoptions are normally open not closed, I would have looked at them and said, "that makes no sense." So, I understand how it feels to be on both sides of the fence. And honestly, adoption is such a whole new realm that takes experience or dedicated education to truly understand. I feel that I owe my family members, ones who may be struggling with my decision to place Sophie for adoption, an explanation and hopefully some insight into what adoption is all about.

First of all, what is OPEN adoption? Open adoption means that there is some level of open communication between the birth family and the adoptive family. The level of openness varies in each case. Some people do e-mails every few months, as well as pictures and the occasional phone call, and some people have monthly face-to-face visits. There's a whole spectrum for openness. And every person has to come to an agreement that everyone is comfortable with. In my case, the adoption is VERY open. Rebecca and Troy live 10-15 minutes from my home. They have opened their arms to both me and my family and our hearts have been filled with gratitude and love for them as well. We have become another piece of extended family to them and vice versa. In just over the past two months I have built a bond with Troy, Rebecca, and their boys that I never thought possible. We have complete trust and faith in one another, and honesty is always welcome. So far, I have kept in touch with them through daily texts, phone calls, and emails. As well as weekly visits. After placement however, things may change. No one is for sure how much, but Troy and Rebecca have made it very clear that they are willing to give me whatever kind of contact I need. I know that if I feel it's best to stay away for a time, they'll let me be. But I also know that if I want to see Sophie or go visit her at their home, I'm always more than welcome. They offer me even more than I ask for, and I never feel like I'm stepping on their toes. Anyway, so that's open adoption.

I understand that 10 years ago, open adoptions were unheard of. It has been understood for decades that the birth mom needed to be cut off and forced to let go from the moment the baby was born. What people failed to see or understand, is how that kind of cut-off denies the birth mom any sort of closure. Studies have proven that open adoptions are a win for everyone involved. Throughout my adoption journey I have met tons and tons of adoptees, birth parents, birth grandparents, adoptive couples, etc. I have witnessed first hand, the miracle of open adoption. It is something incredible. And not only does it work 99% of the time, it is now promoted by the LDS Church. It is what the First Presidency put their stamp of approval on, approximately 10 years ago. If our Heavenly Father says it's right, who's to argue? I know I have dear family members who believe it's best to stay in the dark. To avoid becoming attached to the situation. All I can say is that I hope one day you can see what a blessing it is to have Sophie as a part of my life, as a part of yours. I am NOT giving Sophie up. I want that to be understood. I am giving her MORE. It is the hardest thing I've ever had to do, probably ever will do. But if I can give my daughter more, than by heaven and earth I will. I just hope this helps, and that those of you who may not quite understand, someday will. I love you all. And I am so grateful for your undying support.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

T-Minus...3 days!!??!!

So, as I'm typing this blog entry, I'm also bouncing on my yoga ball. Apparently it helps induce labor...I have tried everything to naturally induce labor the past few days! Pineapple, spicy foods, yoga ball bouncing, and long walks. It's helped some, so I'm keeping it up! Yesterday, my family and I went to one of our all time favorites for my graduation dinner. Chuck-A-Rama!!!! In the middle of dinner I felt an extremely sharp pain down in my abdomen, a pain that I'd been experiencing frequently throughout the day. So, since this is my first pregnancy and I'm completely clueless as to what a contraction feels like, I turned to my lovely mother and said, "Mom, does a contraction feel like a really sharp pain pressing on you pelvic bone?" She looked at me with wide eyes and said, "uh, yes. Is that why you keep bending over and grunting?" I said, "Oh! Well, ya! I've been having bad ones all day! Do you think it's starting?" She just laughed and said, "I wouldn't be surprised. Every one of you came after I ate out at a restaurant." So, need less to say I've started the stage of painful contractions. Just in case Sophie was to come last night, we immediately prepped everything after dinner. My mom and I finished her little new born dress that I plan to have her dressed in for placement. And I finished packing my hospital bag. We are ready to go! I am praying sooooo sooooo hard that Sophie comes this weekend, for several reasons. But one big one being that my best friend Erica is visiting this weekend from college and I want her to to be here!!!

Anyway, after a couple hours of painful contractions I decided it would be a good idea to give Troy and Rebecca a heads up, just in case. So, I texted Rebecca and informed her of the situation. Did she get anxious? Of course!!! Why wouldn't she be?? We're all so excited and I hate to put them on the edge of their seat, especially because false labor is not uncommon, but I figured they should be warned. We're all crossing our fingers that Sophie inches her way into this world very very soon!

Ok, for those of you who don't know, my pregnancy is high risk. I'll just put out all the details now to save time later. I have a heart disease called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, HCM. It affects your inner heart muscles causing them to grow out of proportion which results in a lack of blood flow through the heart. The part of my heart that is affected by the disease is my left ventricle which unfortunately, is the chamber that creates our pulse and blood pressure. In other words, it's the hardest working chamber. The average size of your muscle wall in that chamber is 7-12 mm. Mine is 31 mm. It's much much too large which means I hardly have enough room for blood to flow in and out. Because of the extra growth I am extremely limited on what I can do physically. Walking up a single flight of stairs wears me out for several minutes. Running is impossible and can result in sudden death (as we've experienced with both Clint and I haha), and when it comes to losing weight...talk about a pain and a half! Anyway, women with HCM are at high risk during delivery and post delivery, not during the pregnancy. In fact, we do very well during the pregnancy because of all the extra blood and fluid our body provides with a baby. The risk is mostly postpartum. When you deliver a baby, your body's fluid level goes from really high to really low in a matter of minutes. A heart like mine can't handle such a drastic change without freaking itself out. It will go into an arrhythmia. Normally, a woman with HCM will have heart failure minutes or days after the delivery of her child. Some women die, some don't. It all varies. A 21 year old woman died last summer 2 weeks after her second child was born. She was watching t.v. when her heart just gave out. She would have been saved, would she have had an ICD inside her. When I was hospitalized in January for a pacemaker/defibrillator (ICD) malfunction, the doctors said I had three options. 1. opt to have my ICD taken out for good and live without one but risk death with the delivery 2. opt to have my ICD taken out, receive a new one from a different company and try to get over the fact that the darn things malfunction, and have something there to reboot my heart after delivery or 3. opt to take my ICD out and get an abortion because the risk of my heart stopping and having nothing there to reboot it after delivery was/is too high.

Abortion at 5 months??? I don't think so. No way. And as much as I hate these ICDs now, I knew that I needed to get one if I was to try and have a safe delivery. So, I chose option 2. I have a new ICD now, and it best be ready to do it's job! Anyway, the doctors have a plan for me of course once I'm at the hospital. They will hook me up to the monitors asap, turn off my defibrillator for the actual delivery, give me an early epidural, pump me completely full of IV fluids, and use forceps to get Sophie out. I can't push and I can't experience hours of contractions because of the strain it would put on my heart, hence the early epidural and the forceps. The IV fluids are so that they can attempt to keep my body's fluid level high even after delivery, and slowly reduce the water intake over a few days. So, that's the plan! I'm not too worried, I think the doctors know what they're up against, and so do I, so whatever happens...happens.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Learning How To Forgive

Hate. I had never fully understood the meaning of that word until about 9 months ago. I had never known what it felt like to truly hate someone. Even worse, I had never known what it felt like to hate myself. I hated myself for what I'd done. I hated myself for letting everyone down. The feelings grew stronger and deeper every day of my pregnancy. And not only did I hate myself, I hated the birth father too. I understand now, why such feelings can only come from the Devil himself. They are destructive and menacing. I suffered months of anguish at the bottom of a hole. A dark, hopeless hole. At times, I would find enough strength to stand up and look for the light, but those moments were rare and often very short. I couldn't seem to find the inner strength I needed to love myself again. We all know that in order to love, you must first love yourself. I knew that the people around me, the people I loved most, were suffering too. And that I was hurting them through my words and my actions. It took my a while, but eventually, with the help of simple things like prayer, scripture study, and church attendance I developed my own personal testimony and I started to love myself again. And by love myself, I mean learning to respect myself and accept who I am. I know I'm on a good path. One that I'm trying ever so hard hold on to. I've found my "happy place" you could say, I know where to find peace. It's not through unrealistic, fake relationships. It's through service and TRUE love. I am just barely ending the process of forgiving myself. And oh my what a burden to be lifted! It's the best feeling in the world. But now, I'm beginning my journey to forgive Sophie's birth father. It's just as hard, if not harder. Like I said, I've never felt REAL hatred before. And it's not an emotion that comes equipped with a light switch. You can't just stop hating someone when they've wronged you and turn off your anger. It takes time, and it takes effort. I'm starting on a difficult path, but I'll finish some day. I need to. For me. It hurts no one but myself to harvest such hard, angry feelings. I pray every single night for the birth father. I pray that he will realize his full potential and change into the man I know he can become. I pray that he will realize the reality of this situation and take responsibility for his part. I can't make him do anything, all I can do is pray. And I pray to know how to forgive him, to let go of my anger and move on. I'm trying, and I'll keep trying 'till I get there.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Facing the Music

So, starting where I left off, I'll continue with another part of my story. As you can imagine, being pregnant at 18 years old, and being unmarried, is kinda scary. It's horrifying actually. So many things change and your life is flipped upside down. When I found out I was pregnant, I was barely into my senior year of high school, and still 17. I turned 18 on December 5th, 2009 and was grateful that I'd at least be having my baby as an official "adult". Now, when the world stereotypes pregnant teens, they paint a certain picture. Usually that of a rebel. Some one who strays from all the rules. Well, I wasn't that person. In fact, I still have a hard time believing I got pregnant. It's so surreal to me and almost everyone I know. It was the last thing anyone expected. A fact that actually made it harder, my shame was deeper and my guilt to the extreme. Because I knew that news of my pregnancy would be a shock to the system, I kept it quiet for a VERY long time. About five months actually. My siblings knew, my parents knew, and my bishop knew. But that was it. Until one day, I just couldn't take it anymore. I couldn't keep lying to all my friends and remain cooped up in my house every day, all day. It wasn't working. I was going insane. So, I taught myself not to care what other people might think, and I stepped out into the world little by little, ready to "face the music", as they say. I was utterly shocked at the results. People were so kind and so supportive. I had several "why didn't you tell me earlier!" remarks from many close friends. Not once, have I been judged or put down. My ward has become one of my greatest support systems. I am forever grateful to the wonderful people who have popped out of the woodwork and offered to help. I am especially grateful for my parents, some special sisters in the ward, and my friend Erica. They have been my undying support.

It's amazing what you learn, sitting on the other side of the fence. I remember being the gossip hungry teenager anxious for big news. I never thought about the other person, until I became that big news. Now I know that we never have all the facts. We never have the whole story. So why make someone else's mistake, the topic of all our discussions? It's wrong, and I regret ever doing it. I guess it takes a major event to change us sometimes. To open our eyes to what really matters. I feel like a whole new person. I could write pages and pages about what this experience has taught me. As well as given me.

Anyway, in January (I believe), I contacted a family that lives down in southern Utah. I had searched through several online adoptive family profiles, and they were my first choice. To make a long story short, I continued to e-mail them for a couple months. I even met them face to face a few times. They were wonderful, everything I wanted for my little girl. However, something just didn't feel right. I couldn't place my daughter in the hands of another family if I didn't know and feel 100% ok about it. For weeks I prayed my heart out, begging for help with my decision. One day, I went in to see my case worker and told her, "I'm done. I can't place with this family. I can't place with any family. This is too hard. I'm keeping her." I was stressed out and scared. I felt like I'd hit a dead end. Jan helped me calm down and rethink my decision. She let me know that there were hundreds of other families just dying to take care of me, as well as my daughter. I knew in my heart, right then, the reason I didn't feel right about the other family. They weren't as open as I wanted and I knew that if I were to place with them, I wouldn't be ok. My daughter would, but I wouldn't and I firmly believe that adoptions are to bear win-win-win results. Win for the baby, win for the family, and win for the birth mother/parents. They just weren't the type for me. I felt like I was pulling teeth every time I asked for more contact with my daughter. They were pretty closed, which is ok. That will work great for someone else, just not for me.

Until next time!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

My New Extended Family

This is Troy and Rebecca. The future parents of my child. (yes that is ok to joke about hahaha cause we're not joking right Rebecca!) Anyway, they are two of the most amazing, wonderful people I've ever met. I thank Heavenly Father every day for
guiding me to them. Finding the parents for Sophie was the hardest thing I've ever had to do. And I knew I would never settle for anything less than best. These two are THE BEST. Hence, why I picked them to raise and love my daughter as one of their own. And now...I introduce you to Rand and Caleb! These two stud muffins will be Sophie's brothers. They're adorable and fun, and extremely intelligent. Rand is seven years old. He is Troy and Rebecca's biological son. Caleb is was adopted into their family four years ago and has been a wonderful, blessed addition ever since. They're hilarious and will keep you laughing all day long. I love these guys, forever and always!

From the Beginning

For those of you who have been involved with adoption, in any way, know that it's one of the hardest, most incredible things a person can go through. This is my story, part of it anyway. It's too long to tell in one post, so I'll tell it little by little.

In August of 2009 I discovered the heart dropping truth of my pregnancy. I have never felt so alone in my life as I did at that moment. The world literally came crashing down and all I wanted was to disappear. The news sent both the birth father and I into a complete whirl pool of emotions. Shame, guilt, disappointment, fear, anger, sadness, excitement, and worry were just to name a few. After disposing of the pregnancy test, we immediately drove to Planned Parenthood. There, we hoped to receive some kind of help or comfort. As we drove up and walked in I remember feeling like all eyes were on me. Like everyone in the room was thinking, "eww, you're just another pregnant, unmarried teen. The world could rid itself of you." However, the nurses were very kind and helpful. They helped me understand my options and move towards the next important step. As shamed as I am to admit it now, I will tell you that abortion was my first choice. I was over come with fear and knew that my pregnancy would be high risk. So, I asked the nurse what needed to be done to receive an abortion. She informed me that because I was under 18, an abortion required parental consent. You can imagine my horror upon hearing that...but needless to say, I nodded my head and said ok. I shook in terror the whole ride home, knowing that I'd have to tell my parents right away. If I was going to get an abortion, I wanted it asap. I knew I wouldn't be able to go through with it the second my baby had a heart beat.

I'm going to skip some details, simply for personal privacy. I will say that I told my mom the moment she arrived home that day. Dad found out from mom that night. Abortion remained an option for only about a week after that. I just couldn't do it. And I firmly believe it's wrong. That's a stated opinion, so if yours differs, don't argue. There's a time and a place for that, and it's not here.

Anyway, at 8 weeks, news of the pregnancy was between me, mom, dad, the birth father, and my bishop. When I was 2 months along, we went to LDS Family services. And that's where my adoption journey really began. I met with my case worker (whose name I will not reveal for her own privacy's sake so we'll just call her Jan) and she put me on the path of options. I began meeting her once a week to help me through my emotions and sort out my problems. She also opened my eyes to every one of my decisions and helped me move toward the one I eventually felt comfortable with.

Now, before I continue, this is why I chose adoption:

After a lot of thought, prayer, and consideration, I knew adoption was the right choice for me. It's not for everyone, but it was for me. There are several reasons for my decision. Some are religious, some financial, some emotional, and some related to circumstance. My top reason, however, will forever and always be this: My daughter is my most precious gift. And I love her unconditionally. I believe that when you love someone unconditionally you put their needs before your own. As a firm member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, I know that every child is ENTITLED to certain blessings that come from the sealing covenant. That sealing covenant can only take place when a child has a married, temple-worthy mother and father, a condition that I was unable to offer at the time. As much as my heart yearned to keep her, and raise her, and have her as my own, I would never be at peace knowing I could have given her more. I wanted her to have stability. I wanted her to have a mom AND a dad who were mature and wise. I wanted her to have a mom, 24/7, and younger siblings to love on her to pieces. I couldn't offer those things, and probably never could. I had to listen to my head, not my heart. And though adoption may be the hardest route for me, it was/is definitely the right one.