End of the Year Review

2014 will not go down in my memory as an excellent year. It has been excellent in some spots but overall in nature it has been really difficult. I have learned a lot this year, but in most points I wish there had been a different path to these life lessons.

The beginning of 2014 started off rocky with my frustration with the home mortgage business, namely with Wells Fargo. They approved us for a mortgage on our new home for up to $320,000 and then were trying to deny us a mortgage for half of that. They tried to deny us based on not being able to use the documents that my husband’s employer sent them, which were sent in standard business format. Mayhem ensued because the movers packed up our North Carolina house when we thought we would be able to get into our new house so then our household goods had to sit on trucks until we could close on the new house and move in, weeks later than anticipated. So my daughter and I were technically homeless (we stayed with my mom but were not planning on doing so) and we had to pay extra for my husband to stay in his apartment.

Next to the rocky start of 2014 was on my drive from North Carolina to Pennsylvania, to get settled in our new house and finish unpacking. I was driving and thought that I got a full-on migraine with blurred vision (which I used to get a lot, especially in stressful times). Unfortunately it lasted until the next day, so I called around to get an emergency appointment (I didn’t have any doctors set up since we had just  moved). After a nerve wracking doctor’s visit and emergency trip to have an MRI done, the doctors concluded that I had a sizable stroke which was putting pressure on my brain and affecting my vision. I spent my birthday in the hospital, hooked up to IVs and having all sorts of tests done. Finally I was released with aspirin, Lipitor and Plavix in hand, to take the rest of my life to prevent any more strokes.

It was also in the hospital that the doctors’ found a hole in my heart, one possible cause of the stroke. I had heart surgery in May to close the heart.

June came and my husband started his last few semesters of (online) school to finish his Bachelor’s Degree in anticipation of applying for MBA programs in January. Not only did he end his education program with a 3.8 GPA but he did so while working full time and being a hands-on dad!

In July we were approved as foster parents for the state of Pennsylvania and one day later received the referral call for our three children. We accepted placement two days later after never seeing them or meeting them in advance.

The next month and a half are a blur, as I worked hard to acclimate the new children. I quickly realized the advantages of the start of school with three school aged children! I worked hard to get the oldest two in appropriate counseling programs.

The adoption of our kids went through as previously scheduled on National Adoption Day, which was celebrated in our area on November 7th. There was a lot of speculation leading up to the adoption of whether it would occur as planned, and therefore didn’t give our families a lot of time to plan to attend. We held a fun party for the kids and their anxiety levels went down substantially after the adoption.

In December my beloved Uncle went to the hospital for a scheduled catheter procedure much like I had in May and never left. He suffered a brain aneurysm and the swelling in his brain never went down. He was taken off the respirator on December 17th and passed away peacefully and swiftly. I miss him all the time. I regret not seeing him recently, but the bond we had will never fade.

My husband ended the year in the top 1% nationally for his position in his company so we will be getting a pretty awesome vacation in May to celebrate.

As I look back on 2014, I learned a lot but only through major struggles. There were many health scares in 2014 and it was possible for a while that I’d never get to drive again because of my vision. It was also very scary that the doctors were not sure what caused my stroke and therefore could not prevent another one. Although my husband and I had already decided to pursue foster to adopt it was sad to get the news from my cardiologist,  neurologist and OB/GYN that it would be very stressful on my body and dangerous should I ever get pregnant again. There something different between having miscarriages and trouble getting pregnant versus having doctors tell you that you shouldn’t get pregnant.

Well, here’s to 2015 and having a great year!

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Having the “Talk”

When we tried this Spring to have our second child, I got pregnant on the first try. We figured out our due date, and came up with names. I took my prenatal vitamins, ate healthy and got much-needed rest. I felt super pregnant. Then early into the pregnancy I had a miscarriage. It definitely affected me much more than my husband. I couldn’t talk to anyone about it, since no one really knew I was pregnant to begin with. I felt like a whiner because we have a happy and healthy two-year old.  Since I wasn’t that far into the pregnancy, I really felt like I couldn’t complain. I’ve known many strong women who have endured miscarriages and I cannot put my loss on the same level as theirs. But I was sad, and really confused of what went wrong. It’s amazing how much hope and faith we put into something that is only a few weeks old. I had an ultrasound afterwards and everything looks healthy and as it should, so I feel blessed in that aspect. But this whole ordeal, while many women have to endure, made me think about our family path. Was I even ready physically or mentally to get pregnant again? When I discussed adoption with my husband, he was on board. While he definitely prefers to have at least one more biological child, he has always wanted a large family. We met later in our lives and married when I was 28 and he was 31. So for us to have the large family we prefer would put me into my 40s. I am not interested in having children when I am 40!

After reading up on foster care, adoption, and respite care for foster families I felt very drawn to serving these children and giving them a warm, loving home. I can only imagine the wisdom that these children have to share with others. This would be a way for us to have our large family, without me being pregnant at 40, and welcoming older children into our family. Our daughter would have siblings to look up to!

Moving On

Before my boss left for rehab, we had one last business trip to attend together, out of state, and sharing a hotel room. I was nervous, as I did not know how bad her addiction had become, and I wasn’t sure I could be the bad guy and stop her from drinking while we were on our trip. Well my fears were completely founded. She was a mess, having to drink martinis at lunch just to keep her hands from shaking. Luckily, she missed a lot of the actual conference meetings, and showed up at cocktail hour when everyone else was drinking and did not notice. So she was never out of place. I learned a lot, and attended several of the conference meetings for the both of us. But while I was there, one of the other franchise owners won an award. And they introduced her by saying that she was the foster parent of a dozen children. And I started to think, maybe fostering and adoption was the way to go? My cousin who is a beloved member of the family was adopted. My husband’s cousin (second cousin) and his siblings all went through foster care. Adoption is not a foreign topic in our families. My sister and I always discussed the importance of adoption growing up.

When I returned home from the business trip, I did all the online research that I could on adoption– domestic, international, and through foster care. Then I just had to bring it up with my husband!

Fate’s a Dirty Word

The day that I had my first miscarriage, I got a late evening call from my boss. While we have a  friendly and open relationship (partnership), we rarely spoke after 5 p.m. She did not know that we were trying to get pregnant, but she did know that I was waiting to hear from my doctor regarding something important. She called to confide in me that she was an alcoholic, and in the midst of multi-year long affair. She would be going to rehab (mainly determined by her husband), and I was in charge while she was gone. It had been a hellish week, being pregnant then not. It would be an even worse month to come with her gone. I learned the hard way in that instance that even though we may pray hard for an outcome, we may plan to the tenth degree, but our true fate is out of our hands.