Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Her name, my word for 2016, and an ultrasound picture too!

I had thought of writing two separate posts.  One about our daughter's name and one about my word for the year, but really the two go together and I cannot tell the story of one, without the other.  And so, I will unravel both together.  I wish I could write a nice,short, succinct post about each, but in order to truly understand how God brought about our daughter's name and the word for the year, I need to give you more details about what had gone on in our lives since that early September day when I found out I was pregnant. 

I know I had shared how worried I was that our newest development would affect, or totally stop our adoption.  After I had told my husband that we were expecting, we quickly discussed that we would wait until I was around 12 weeks pregnant to tell anyone, including our adoption agency.  Since I am older, and the risk of miscarriage is higher, we saw no reason to alert our adoption agency too early.  Yet, after a day of worrying and crying (on my part), Pete suggested we call our social worker.  So, our social worker was the very first person to learn our news.  She quickly tried to alleviate some of my fears and mentioned she would tell the head of the China program.  But, they saw no real reason why we would have to stop the adoption process.  That was until they spoke to our home study agency and learned that our home study agency had a policy against adopting while pregnant.  We were never made aware of this policy nor did we sign anything that stated we agreed to the policy, yet our placement agency wanted to honor the policies of our home study agency.  At first we were told that we would have a meeting with the director of the home study agency to discuss our situation once I had my first OB appointment.  My first OB appointment came.  I emailed our social workers to tell them.  Days later I get an email from our home study director stating that she was so happy for our pregnancy and that all looks good, and they have a policy against adopting while pregnant and so we would need to stop the adoption until the baby was 6 months old.  We would lose our son Thomas.   Over the next few weeks, the two agencies went back and forth about our adoption.  While our home study agency could not really stop the adoption, our placement agency wanted to keep good relations with them, and so lots of agency politics ensued.  We prayed.  We asked friends to pray.  And we waited for final word.  Then one day another email came.  It was from the director of our home study agency.  Although she was still against the adoption (because it was policy), she would allow it to continue.  At that moment, I was so relieved.  Although I have not shared all of the details here, know that that email, that permission was truly a miracle.  Hearts had been changed and mountains moved.  Our Thomas was coming home!

Over the months of that fight, God was trying to teach me many things.  He reminded me that even before we started this adoption process, he was calling me to a deeper sense of trust.  There were moments over those weeks, that I wanted to call our placement agency and FIGHT for Thomas.  Yet, I didn't.  I felt like God was calling me to trust Him and that my weapon, was prayer; not my own words shared with social workers and directors, but words lifted up to Him.  Trust, Katie.  Just trust.  Trust and Hope.  And those two words became words I clung to.  Even as I pondered the life inside of me, there were moments, early on, I thought  this baby is Hope.  I am not even sure why. But, I just did.  Maybe it was because I had to cling to hope.  I truly thought I was going to lose one of my children (Thomas or the baby) due to all that we were going through.  And the only thing I had was to cling to the Hope that God was going to work it all out.

And after the email, on the Feast of St John Paul II, the day after Thomas' birthday, I really thought God had worked it all out.  TJ would be coming home.  We would be having a baby. I was getting excited about all that was to come.

About 5 days after the email came, I had a 12 week ultrasound.  When you are of "advanced maternal age" they suggest early ultrasounds and genetic testing to see how the baby is doing.  Since we were also in the middle of the adoption, I welcomed as much information as possible, so that we could be prepared for all that may come.  Thankfully, the baby looked great.  The Dr stated that the baby looked healthy and he saw no reason for concern for genetic disorders.  But, then he stopped.  And he shared that based on what he was seeing on the ultrasound, that  I was developing placenta accreta. While many of you may not know what placenta accreta is, I was well aware of what it was and the possible, serious and life threatening consequences of it.  In all honesty, it was the one thing that scared me more than anything else.  The Dr rattled on about a scheduled high risk c-section no later than 36 weeks, a specialized team in the OR at the birth, banked blood in case of excessive blood loss.  He said, "Oh, and I hope you do not want any more children, because you will probably have to have a hysterectomy" (It reduces the mortality rate).  He did follow all of it up with the fact that he would not know for sure until the 20 week ultrasound.  I left the ultrasound room, and noticed my hands were trembling.  I made it to the car before the tears started to flow.  If I had placenta accreta, it would affect everything; the adoption, our family, everything.  I tried to remain positive, but it was hard.

I knew I had 8 weeks before I would know, for sure, how we would need to proceed.  I prayed.  Seriously, I think I prayed every power house saint novena I could think of; St. Philomena, St Rita, St Jude, Our Lady Undoer of Knots, Infant of Prague, (and the list went on).  There were days, I just stopped teaching my kids and went up to my bedroom, crying and, pleading with God for this all to change.  I just wanted to bring my son home from China, I just wanted to be happy about the life growing inside of me.  I wanted a healthy birth.  I talked to priests, and went to a healing prayer holy hour.  And God's message to me, wasn't one of "Don't worry Katie, I will heal you, it  will be perfect."  It was "I love you Katie."  A priest, during confession, told me I needed to find Hope in all of this.  I needed to trust.  There were those words again.  Trust. Hope.

It was during this time too, that we found out we were having a girl.  We had always wanted to name a girl Elizabeth after Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist.  But , for some reason, when I thought of the name, it was not followed with a resounding "yes!" in my mind and heart.  But, there was continually this whisper of the word, of the name, Hope.  I shared it with Pete and he wasn't too thrilled with the name.  But, I kept coming back to it.  We even found a St. Hope.  One First Friday, we went to mass as a family.  Pete declared that we should pray about a name for our girl.  Hope was mentioned in the first reading twice. The word Hope seemed to surround us, although, we were in Advent at this point, the season of expectant Hope, so it was not too much of a surprise.  But, I was pretty sure Hope was our daughter's name.

Then on December 14th, I had my ultrasound appointment.  The week leading up to it was difficult.  I began counting down the days, knowing that that ultrasound could change our adoption plans, the rest of my pregnancy, and even my own life.  Trust and Hope.  Trust and hope. So, I went into the ultrasound hopeful, but scared.  As we sat in the waiting room, Pete said, "There's our daughter's name.  It's the sign we've been looking for," as he pointed to the wall before us.  And there it was, truly a sign. A big metal sign above the receptionist's desk.  Four simple letters: H-O-P-E.  I laughed as I looked at Pete.  I guess we did have our daughter's name.  And a gentle reminder too; to keep on hoping.

The ultrasound seemed to go well.  The tech went through every organ system of our daughter.  All looked good.  Then she got to the placenta.  She checked it's blood flow. The tech said nothing. No "it looks good" as she did with most everything else.  Then she was done.  She left us in the room to get the doctor. I am not sure how long it took for her to come back with the doctor, but it felt like forever.  I braced myelf to hear the worst.  The doctor came in and did a quick ultrasound check himself.  He proclaimed that our daughter looked absolutely perfect.  Then, he got a smile on his face and paused.  "I see no signs of accreta. Nor based on what I see today, do I think you will develop it."  I let out a big sigh.  It felt like I had been holding my breath since that day in September when we found out we were pregnant, and this day, with those words from the doctor, I was finally able to really breathe again.  Tears streamed down my cheeks.  Pete laughed and told the doctor that he had been the cause of a lot of anxiety over the last few weeks.  And we just smiled.

In the car ride home, Pete asked me, "What do you think God was trying to teach you through all of this?" In that moment, I did not have a well formulated answer.  I wondered myself, why?  Why did we have to go through all of the stress, the wondering, when it all worked out as we had hoped. Thomas was coming home. And, as of right now, it looks like I will have a healthy, uncomplicated pregnancy.  And, I think, it goes back to Trust.  The one thing God was asking of me at the beginning of this adoption process.  The one thing I clearly need to grow in.  And so, my word for this year is TRUST. I want to grow in my trust of the Lord, that no matter what may come, I will not be shaken in knowing that He is taking care of it all. 

As you know, already, if you have read all my ramblings, our daughter's name is Hope.  

I will end this post as I have my other name posts, with a "photo" of our girl.  

Hope Elizabeth Murphy