To the Woman I Forgot Last Year

Dear No One,

In the week of mothers (yes, I said week. Every commercial. Every sign. Every post on Facebook. All about moms), I have an ache in my heart. Don’t get me wrong, I am more grateful than ever to be celebrating this year with a child in my arms.

But my mind is stuck on Daxon’s birth mom. Last year I wrote a post about all the women that may be struggling on Mother’s Day. Women who lost a mom, women who lost a child, women who are struggling with infertility. Yet even in the whirlwind of adoption paperwork, it didn’t occur to me to think about birth moms. Someone near and dear to my heart who has personally experienced adoption (and taught me A LOT about the triad of adoption) kindly reminded me of these women.

Birth MOMS. Yes. They do not physically have the child in their care. What I have learned in the last year, though, is they never stop thinking and praying for the child they carried for nine months. And for those first nine months (and for some birth moms, months or years after birth), she is that child’s mother. She make decisions for nine months to help care for her child. She makes the incredibly hard decision to place the child for adoption, which is followed by paperwork, phone calls, reading through dozens of families profiles, and endless emotions. Then this woman gives birth. Now I have never been pregnant or given birth, but I know from every mother I’ve ever talked to that neither is easy. The only thing that gets them through is the thought of holding their child in the end. So what gets a birth mom through that? A love for her child. Her child. Then she hands that child over to me, and he is mine. Take a moment to understand the depth of that.

I am obviously not a birth mom, so I am only writing from what I have seen, read, and experienced. But part of being an advocate of adoption is spreading awareness of both sides.

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Last year on Mother’s Day, Daxon’s birth mom was pregnant. This year, I will be holding him in my arms. If you have ever met a birth mom, you have met one of THE strongest women you will ever meet.

To the woman I forgot last year, I will NEVER forget you again.

All my love,

Betsy

Why “Dear No One”

Dear No One,

It has been a year since I started my blog, and I never really explained why I named it “Dear No One.” I am sure you are all DYING to know, so here it is.

When I was going through our deepest, darkest times of infertility, I felt so alone. There were so many people out there that would have listened and could have helped. BUT I had in my mind that no one tells people they are pregnant until they are at least 8 weeks “in case something happens.” Therefore, I felt like infertility was something that was supposed to be kept secret. We didn’t even tell our families until we had some answers from the doctors and knew there was definitely a problem.

The best thing that ever happened for me was when I called someone to get advice on adoption, and we ended up talking for three hours about infertility instead. Having someone else that validated all of my feelings felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I wish I had reached out to someone who had gone through the same thing so much earlier.

Oh yeah. Why “Dear No One?” Am I saying that anyone reading this is a no one? Of course not! When I started this blog, it was more of an outlet for me. I honestly did not care if one person read it. I just felt a desire to write. Therefore, I was okay if I was writing to “No One.” I am simply writing from my heart.

Now that I do have a few people that read this, my one goal is to never let another woman go through infertility alone. So for the woman out there who thinks you are alone and no one will understand, I am here. I understand. I promise you that reaching out to me or anyone else who has gone through infertility will be the best thing you could do for yourself.

Will I rename it someday? Yes! I am positive that someday I will rename it to be more fitting for our family. But for now, I am using this writing as therapy for myself and if no one reads this, that’s okay with me. Although, I know at least my mom is reading this. 😉

I would love any and all suggestions from your creative minds for my next blog name!

All my love,

Betsy

NIAW: My Year After Starting A Blog

Dear No One,

It’s National Infertility Awareness Week, and this time last year was the first time I opened up about our infertility issues. My husband and I kept it to ourselves for over a year, and it wasn’t until we announced that we were in the process of adopting that we decided to share. A LOT has happened since I started this blog, and while I never considered myself a writer (and still don’t), I am so glad I decided to share our story. In the last year, I have learned so much and made and deepened relationships with so many amazing women going through some form of infertility.

What have I learned? There are so many forms of infertility. Women who have chronic illnesses. Miscarriages. IVF. Low or no sperm count. Even some couples whose doctors couldn’t find any medical reason for why they can’t get pregnant. Some women have never even gotten to experience the joy that comes from a positive pregnancy test. Others experience that joy and have it instantly ripped away from them when their biggest dream ends in a miscarriage. Other women struggled with infertility years ago, and it still haunts them.

The most important thing I learned from talking to so many different women about their experiences? Every one of us felt and still feel the EXACT same emotions. No matter how infertility touched our lives, I instantly felt a connection with each and every woman.

What are some of the emotions we feel? Sadness, despair, depression. Having a child is something most women dream about for most of their lives. Not having a child, is often our worst nightmare. Anger. “Why me?” often hits as you watch every. single. person you know announce their pregnancy on Facebook (or so it seems). Jealousy comes right along with that anger and instantly a wave of guilt for feeling angry and jealous of your friends’ happiness. Alone. Even though 1 in 8 couples experience infertility, you still feel alone. You don’t want to bring everyone down by constantly talking about it, but it is almost all you can think about. Also, just like most things in life, no one really understands what you are going through unless they’ve experienced it themselves. I had a friend that supported me through our worst times of infertility, but it wasn’t until she experienced it herself that she truly understood the depths of what I was going through.

Does it go away? Nope. Infertility becomes a part of you. It changes you. Your life will NEVER be the same. And that is okay.

Why? Because now as I hold my sleeping baby that we adopted 5 months ago and type this, I truly believe there is no other baby that is meant to be in my life right now. I am stronger than I have ever been. I am positive that I am a better mom because of the struggle. I have made countless friendships. I have cried with women. Often times, I am one of the first people these women tell when they find out they are pregnant. I am helping women through the biggest ups and downs of their lives. Crying with them through the worst. Celebrating at their highest moments.

Speaking out about our infertility and starting this blog has been life-changing for me. My hope is that any woman that reads this and is experiencing any type of infertility will reach out to me. Why? You don’t have to go through this alone and you shouldn’t go through this alone.  The worst thing I did in the beginning was try to deal with it by myself. Infertility is a sisterhood. A sisterhood you would never choose, but it is one that will welcome you with open arms and never let you go. Infertility may never go away but either will the bond that you instantly form within the sisterhood.

I never want another woman to go through infertility alone, so to all my sisters, I am ALWAYS here to talk. You are not alone. Most of all, keep fighting. I promise that when you FINALLY meet your babe, it will be

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All my love,

Betsy

Autism: A Different View

Dear No One,

I love staying home with Daxon. I mean I really, REALLY love it. There is nothing else I would rather do.

Before we had Daxon, though, I worked in a school with children with autism, and I miss my kiddos from school every day. I miss the challenge. I miss never knowing how my day was going to go. I miss watching them learn.

Most of all, though, I miss their snuggles and giggles. Yes. Snuggles. I know. You are probably thinking, “I thought they don’t like to be touched.” I have heard that from so many people. That my job couldn’t have been as fun or rewarding as working with typically developing children because they don’t give you anything in return. There is nothing further from the truth though.

My work with children with autism was the most rewarding job I have ever had. Yes, sometimes I got ignored, hit, kicked, bit. Other times, though, I got to watch a child go from not wanting anyone near them to crawling onto my lap and asking for tickles over and over AND over. How is that not rewarding?!?

Why am I writing about this? Today is World Autism Day. I just couldn’t get my mind off of my students today, so I wanted to give a little love to some of the kids who will have a piece of my heart forever.

I, by no means, know everything about autism. No one does. “If you’ve met one individual with autism, you’ve met one individual with autism.” – Stephen Shore

Every child I worked with was completely different. One thing I found with them all, though, was they craved our love and attention. It is not that they do not want to be a part of your world or want your love, they just need more assistance in learning how to enter into situations and communicate their needs and wants.

There is no better feeling than earning their trust and watching them open their world to let you in. I’m not going to sit and list out bullet points on what you need to know. Just know that they are beautiful souls that just see our world in a different light. If you ever get the chance, stop and take a look from their point of view. You will learn a lot.

 

All my love,

Betsy

Thank You

Dear No One,

This post isn’t for no one though. This is for everyone. All of our supporters. It has almost been one year since we announced we were adopting.

No matter how you supported us, we are forever grateful.

Being a new mom, I’m quite impressed that it only took us 4 months to get the puzzle glued together and put into the double sided frame (which I love!!). While we are keeping the back with everyone’s messages private, we wanted to show you the final product.

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Maybe it is just me, but I think Dax makes any picture better. And yes, it is quite impossible not to squeeze those chunky thighs all day long.

There are just not enough words to thank all of our supporters. I cannot begin to write the love I have for you all. I lost a lot through the process of infertility. I have been quite open and honest about the struggles, and I know everyone has some kind of struggle in their lives. When you’ve lost your hope, your faith, your beliefs, hold on tight to those around you. When you can’t get on your knees to pray because you feel like no one is listening, let others carry you in their prayers. Even when you feel like you are alone and no one is listening, bigger plans are in the making.

Here is the only piece of proof I can give you:

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If you are struggling with anything right now, it is okay to feel lost. It is okay to struggle. He IS listening, though, and my hope is that maybe Daxon’s story can also give you some hope.

To all of our supporters, we can never thank you enough. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I could keep typing that but (1) it would never be enough to show our gratitude and (2) the blog post has to end eventually. So from the bottom of our hearts, thank you for making us stronger. No matter how you supported us, you helped bring Baby Hemi home.

All our love,

Marcus & Betsy

 

 

Today I am…

Dear No One,

It has been awhile since I’ve written anything. I told Marcus the other day that I love writing blog posts, but I don’t necessarily have anything to write these days. For those who have read a lot of my blog posts, you know I have written a lot of serious posts. I told Marcus, “I think I don’t have anything serious to write. Everything is so good. I’m just so happy.”

And my supportive husband, (who was actually listening to me talk!) 😉 said, “then write that.”

It has been over a year since we started the process of adoption and over three years since we started trying to have a child. Today, we have a 4 month old. I have NEVER been this happy. Ever.

So that is all I have to write today. I am happy. We have our baby. Marcus is almost done with residency. Under 100 days (not that I’m counting)! I spend every day at home taking care of my baby. My baby. Mine. Today I am happy.

Annndddd because I can’t leave without sending a little sappy love and support to my readers…for those of you trying to have children, no matter through adoption or biologically, NEVER give up. The pain you feel is because you know in your heart that being a mom is exactly what you’re meant to do with your life. I can tell you that when that baby does come, it will be SO worth every painful moment you’ve endured along the way. There is no better feeling than taking care of your baby.

Even when you have to sit in a car with your arm backwards to pacify your baby (and be a headrest for your dog).

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All my love,

Betsy

HATE

Dear No One,

It’s 2 am. My 10 week baby is sleeping, and I am wide awake. Normally when I can’t sleep, I scroll through Facebook or Instagram until I’m tired again. I did that. Now I’m just even more awake and angry.

I know I’m not the only one. I’m not the only one who gets on social media to find a wave of political CRAP! Yes. Crap. Hatred. Anger. Arguments.

While I believe everyone has the right to say whatever they want, and while I will not get into my political views, I’m very proud of the people that are standing up for what they believe. To a certain extent.

Let’s be honest, though, folks. Most of us believe what we believe. We are already on one side or the other. There is no post or video or angry rant that is going to make me think, “huh…NOW I get it! My morals and beliefs were completely wrong, and now I think I am going to side with you.”

Nope. Not going to happen. I have always hated politics. I have always hated how it divides people. Normally I tell myself to just make it through the election. Then everyone can get on with their lives. Well our new President is making that extremely hard to do. I get that. Whether you are defending the changes he is making or fighting against it, I get that it is hard to stay silent.

But…is your post on Facebook going to really change someone’s opinions? Are those arguments between a conservative and liberal going to make either one of them even more understanding of the other’s views? Does anyone CARE what your views are?

Facebook is not where you will make change. Unless you are posting to inform others the steps they can take to make a change or support something, is your post going to make a difference? And do you really think most people haven’t already blocked your posts from showing up on their newsfeed?

I use Facebook to keep up with family, friends, even people I barely know that just want to see pictures of my son. I use it to see what my friends are doing. Keep in touch with former teachers. Post a thousand pictures of my baby. (I can’t stop. Don’t try to make me.) That is how my family and friends get to see me and my baby and my life. Exactly what Facebook is meant for…in my opinion.

I know my silly post will not change anything. Everyone has the right to their own opinion. Everyone has the right to share it. But right now, I’m crying writing this post because I am more afraid that we, as a nation, are dividing ourselves. A divide created by hate.

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I am not asking you to stop standing up for your beliefs. Please do that. Call legislators. Protest (peacefully). Inform other people how to stand up for what you believe is right.

But, I am asking, as your quiet, oversharing picture mother, to stop and think before you post something. Will it make a difference? Will it really give you a voice? If you ask yourself that question and the answer is “no,” consider posting a picture of your puppy instead. Child? Family gathering? Friends doing stupid things? I love seeing what is actually going on in your life. You are sure to get a “like” from me (maybe even a “love” or “haha”).

As for the hate, let’s leave it behind. Maybe we all need to take a Facebook timeout, go into the real world, and spread love. Do something nice for someone else. I bet they don’t ask your political views afterwards.

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” -Gandhi

I try to live by this quote. My wish: to see more love and spread more love. Whether it is in a drive-thru, a checkout line, or in my own home, I try every. single. day. to make someone else’s day a little bit better.

Keep standing up for your beliefs. But I, personally, do not care what your political party is as long as your heart is full of love and your posts are not driven by hate. I’m ready to come together and show each other a little love. Are you?

All my love,

Betsy

A Mother’s Bond

Dear No One,

I have never experienced anything quite like the bond I have with Daxon. I have a lot of kids that I am close to (nephews, nieces, students, etc.), but I never knew I could feel even more love for my child.

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I have spent hours studying him. Learning every birthmark. The color of his eyes. His (ADORABLE!) dimple. His fingernails. His belly button. Every roll. To me, he is perfect.

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With the adoption, I was worried about bonding with the baby. I have a degree in child development, and I did a lot of extra studying on bonding and adoption. I decided that it was best for only Marcus and me to take care of his primary care needs. For the last 9 weeks, we are the only ones who fed, clothed, and bathed him. We did all of his diaper changes, etc. Also, I never experienced pregnancy, so I wanted to wear him. This is the closest to feeling pregnant that I will get with him, and I love feeling him snuggled up against me.

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Honestly, though, bonding has been incredibly easy for me. I feel a love for him that I have never felt before. Anyone who has seen Dax around me always says, “He knows who his mommy is.” There is no better feeling. That his face lights up when he sees me. That I can make him smile more than anyone else. That he calms down as soon as I hold him. Nothing. Better.

 

Now for those of you who can’t handle a woman breastfeeding in public, you should stop reading. For the rest of you, I also bonded with him by using skin to skin contact and breastfeeding. No, I don’t produce milk. Producing milk when you haven’t been through a pregnancy is extremely hard. There are ways to do it by changing your hormones, but it often doesn’t produce much and takes a lot of time and effort. With all that adoption entails, I decided not to induce lactation. Instead I found two other ways to “breastfeed” to help make a secure attachment with him. First, I use my breasts to simply pacify him. It is no different than a pacifier. When he was falling asleep at night, I would offer it to him. The first time he ever latched on, I cried. I never thought I’d get to experience breastfeeding with him but nothing has ever felt so natural.

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Second, I wanted to find a way to actually experience feeding him. Through my research I found the Medela SNS (supplemental nursing system), and I have been able to actually feed him. I wear the milk in a bottle around my neck and tape a small tube onto my breast. When he latches on, the tube goes into the corner of his mouth and releases the food while he sucks. It sounds easy. It is not easy at first. It takes time to set up (which isn’t always possible with a screaming, hungry baby). The baby has to latch, and you have to make sure the tube is far enough in (but not too far in to gag him!). You have to let some milk out to get him interested in latching, but the longer it takes for him to get a good latch, the more milk that ends up all over him and you. Over time, though, I got better at positioning and getting him to latch correctly. Not much in adoption is easy, but it is all so worth it, including breastfeeding. These moments have been so precious to me. So precious that I recently asked our photographer to take photos of it. I initially asked her to photoshop the tape out, and I wore a scarf to cover the bottle around my neck. Once I saw the photos with the tape, though, I knew I had to share them.

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Raw. Beautiful. Real. Strong.

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This is adoption. This is bonding. This is motherhood.

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It is not easy. It is not for the faint-hearted. It takes work. It takes passion. It takes tears. It takes heartache. It takes love.

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Not just adoption. Motherhood. If you are a mother, you know that you would do anything for your children. It’s not always easy. It’s not always pretty, but it is so worth it.

To the mom trying to conceive (yes I believe you are already a mom), I hear you. I see your tears that you cry alone at night. You are not alone. You should be proud of the sacrifices you’ve already made for your child. When that child does come, no matter how they come to you, you will look back and think, “It was all worth it.”

To the moms who are exhausted and never get a break, I see you. You are doing an amazing job. Don’t listen to any other mother or person trying to tell you how to parent unless they are simply building you up and praising you for all the hard work you do. Every day. Every night.

To the moms whose children have left home, I see you. You still don’t sleep soundly, and you anxiously wait to hear from your children every day. The children you raised to be hardworking, independent adults. Yet they will always be your baby.

I’m only weeks into this motherhood gig, but I know I’d do anything for my son. This is a bond that can never be broken. A mother’s bond with her child. Raw. Beautiful. Real. Strong.

All my love,

Betsy

Daxon’s Story: Hospital

Dear Daxon,

Mommy and Daddy started driving to Maryland at 7:04pm on November 18, 2016. Once we were on the road, we started calling all of our family members. While everyone was SO excited for us, they were also very nervous about us driving through the night. Daddy and I planned on taking turns driving and switching every three or four hours. I was so excited and wide awake that I ended up driving the first six hours, and Daddy drove the last six and a half. Neither of us could sleep. We each maybe napped for about an hour while the other was driving.

Maryland is an hour ahead of us, and your birth mom text us at 1:58am that you were born at 0100. (If you had been born in Iowa or Missouri, you would have been born at exactly midnight!) November 19, 2016. She told us you were 20 inches long and 7lbs 11oz. She asked if we wanted to see a picture. “OF COURSE!”

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The most beautiful baby I have ever seen. I couldn’t stop staring at the picture and studying every detail.

We got to Maryland around 8am. We checked into our hotel and let your birth mom know we had made it. She told us we could come see you as soon as we wanted. I told Daddy I wanted to see you as soon as possible! Well after a shower. 13 hours in a car. We needed to clean up a little. I don’t think I’ve ever showered and gotten ready so fast! We stopped to pick up some flowers and coffee for your birth mom (and Daddy – you know how much he needs his coffee) and went straight to the hospital.

Your birth mom was so incredibly sweet, and she let us hold you the entire time we were there. I couldn’t stop staring (and taking a million pictures!)

We left after a couple hours, and your birth mom told us we could come again that evening if we wanted. We went and took a nap at the hotel, picked up some food for your birth mom, and headed back to see you again. I loved you before I even knew you, but it wasn’t until this second trip that I felt a “mommy bond.” I was holding you. You opened your eyes just for a few seconds and scanned my whole face. “Are you my mommy?” I really, really hoped that someday I could tell you, “Yes. I’m your mommy, and I love you more than anything.”

We went back the next day to see you again. We knew we would only get to see you once that day because you needed to spend the evening with your birth mom and birth dad. You were going to be discharged the next morning, and we knew it was important for you and your birth family to have that time together. You were to be discharged around 11am the next day. That morning took FOREVER! We were so anxious to see you again! We got cleaned up, packed all of our stuff up (we were heading to another hotel with a 2 bedroom suite, so we would have a kitchen, living room, and room for grandparents), and waited as patiently as we could. Then we got the text that they were on their way with you…

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Yes. We were slightly bored and VERY excited. Then you were there. With us. In the hotel room. Ours to take care of.

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On Mommy and Daddy’s six year dating anniversary, November 21, 2016, you became part of our lives forever. What a beautiful present.

More to come on our adventures in Maryland.

Love you baby boy,

Mommy