The big stuff is done. There are two car seats, two cribs, two cases of diapers (sizes 2 and newborn), two double strollers (and one single stroller) and a car with a big enough back seat to keep them both safe. We even have a few blue things in case it's a boy. Compared to what we had a few weeks before Caroline was born, we are on top of everything! We still aren't sure on names but have a few top choices and are waiting to see the baby to make any final decisions. That worked with Caroline. As soon as we held her we knew Caroline Grace was the perfect fit.
Look at how fast Caroline is growing! On the left, Caroline at my first regular OB/GYN appointment when I was 11 weeks pregnant and then more recently at my 36 week appointment (notice how she has her ankles crossed in both!). I was so glad Ryan was able to join us for that first appointment as I was beyond certain that they'd find something wrong. Thankfully, everything looked great and we saw the tiniest little human dancing away on the monitor. (And in keeping it real, a few minutes after I snapped this photo, sweet C had her first blow-out. Let me tell you how tiny those tiny exam rooms feel when there is an explosion of stink. The nurse had to leave the room. The doctor, who I might add was busy examining me, laughed as Ryan changed her at the top of the exam table about two inches from my face. She made some comment about how this was just the beginning).
So some random thoughts of someone who spends way too much time each night trying to get comfortable:
* I've gotten to that point where strangers in the Target parking lot come up and offer to bring me a basket. It's really quite nice! Nothing makes people as likely to stop and chit chat as an adorable baby who smiles at everyone who passes and a mama who is obviously very pregnant. (And I'm sure a few of them are thinking "well they didn't follow doctor's orders!").
* Most of the time the friendly chatter is very pleasant. I was in Old Navy awhile back looking for maternity clothes and this older employee comes up to me and makes a big fuss over Caroline. She kept saying, "Your mommy is so pretty, she's trying so hard for you. I can tell she's doing a great job." It then dawned on me that the lady thought I was just still very pregnant looking for someone who had a five-month old. I resisted the urge to tell this stranger my life story and got out of there as quickly as possible! I wasn't sure weather to laugh or cry. I laughed.
*It's been fun watching people's expressions as they do the mental math of Caroline's age and a May due date. One day Caroline and this little sibling will have lots of fun confusing people. I hope being "Irish twins" is something that will bind them in an extra special way. (I also hope the term Irish twins isn't offensive to anybody reading this, because I'm very proud of my Irish ancestors!).
*Since we didn't tell any of our family or friends (or even really talk about it with each other) until we were more than halfway through, this pregnancy has seemed to go by really fast. In a way, I regret that we didn't get overly excited about it at first, but I think when you've been through multiple losses it's just self protection. And I was so busy falling in love with Caroline that I tended to forget I was pregnant (until morning sickness reminded me!). Bonding with Caroline was immediate and felt like the most natural thing in the world.
*I read this article awhile back and it really resonated with me. I never considered breast feeding Caroline, but was really amazed by the number of people who questioned why I didn't even try! For the record, I don't believe formula inhibited our ability to bond. The first time I heard her cry, I couldn't even see her, and I knew that was my baby and her cry. It was all I could do not to grab the clipboard out of the hands of the nurses aide who was holding us up with an "unofficial question about how naming a baby worked in our type of situation" and bonking her on the head with it. Thankfully, Ryan was there and quickly moved us away!
*So many people, upon learning that we are pregnant, have said something to the effect of, "I knew that would happen" or "You always hear of that happening! The stress is gone and BAM you get pregnant." I know that we are not unique in this situation of having an adopted child and biological child so close in age. I also know, however, that it's not always the case. And that had we never gotten pregnant, we would have felt complete with Caroline. And while these type of statements are said with the best intentions, I hope these people are careful in the way they "encourage" couples struggling to conceive. Sometimes people (with the best of intentions) say the most hurtful things.
*Probably like everyone else who goes through a tough medical issue or tragedy, I never dreamed that our struggle would be growing our family. When we married, children seemed like something a long way off but most definitely in our future. And when we deemed the timing was right to start "trying," it never occurred to me that we wouldn't conceive within a few months. And before we knew it a few months turned into well over a year. Over the next few years a couple of miscarriages tested us in ways we never imagined. Ultimately, we learned how to handle them in a "healthy" way (if there's such a thing) and with the help of some fertility specialists both in Mississippi and South Carolina did all that we were medically comfortable with pursuing. As I've mentioned before, it was our senior pastor who encouraged us to pursue adoption AND the best medical care we could reasonably afford. For some reason, I'd been set on pursuing one or the other exclusively.
*When it became clear our only medical option left was IVF, we decided to just drop all fertility pursuits and focus on adoption. I am in no way against IVF and for many people it's the only option to grow their family. It's just something that for us didn't feel right. My feelings were that God was saying this door is shut. You can't know why. It doesn't really matter why. After I stopped banging on the fertility door, the window of adoption that we had already started exploring just kept getting bigger and bigger. Adoption had in fact, been tucked in the back of my mind since a high school mission trip to Russia where our group spent a day in a orphanage of special needs children that were all being adopted by American families. Over the years of our fertility struggles we'd looked into adoption on more than one occasion but never found anything that felt exactly right. We even had one international agency tell us we were too poor on paper to adopt when Ryan was in med school.
*Anyway, looking back at the way we ended up in South Carolina for residency - which really wasn't even on our radar when Ryan started the interview process - to the friends we made and the church we choose that all directed us to Special Links and thus to Caroline - it's apparent that this was God's plan the whole time. As always, so much better than anything we could ever imagine. My mom and I were talking about this the other day and she brought up the scripture,
"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.." Ephesians 3:20
It sums up our little growing family just perfectly!