Friday, June 22, 2012

Little Did I Know.......

Ten years ago on this day, a Saturday, my mom and I took Kadin across the street from our house in Alabama to another subdivision to pick blackberries. Little did I know that all of the pictures from that day would be lost the next day. We did not have a digital camera so everything was on film that was overexposed the next day. Little did I know how important my mother's prescence would be at that time in my life. A small son at home, almost 37 weeks pregnant with my second son. Little did I know when I tucked Kadin into bed that night that it would be his last night as our only child. Ten years ago today was my last day of being pregnant with our second son. Our last child we believed. Little did we know what God had in store for our lives! Little did I know that although we moved from NC to Alabama the year before, that was not where we would call home.

Sometimes I wonder what we would do with life's information if we lived in knowing those steps ahead. Would I have been more into this second son if I knew a third would one day arrive? Would I have put so much time and effort into a nursery if I knew in six months we would leave it? Would I have worried so much about how I would love a second child if I knew we would later add a third, and then a fourth? Little did I know about life in June of 2002.

Tomorrow marks our second son's birthday. Obviously. :) Cullen came into this world a few short months after the happenings of 9/11. Shoving his way into this world three weeks early was a glimpse into his personality. Little did I know I would not have time for pain meds when my water broke early on Sunday morning. The Dr. tried to give me some IV relief but it was too little too late. He was an amazing man. Compassionate and caring. He stood outside my delivery room so upset he couldn't help me more with the pain of giving natural childbirth. Little did I know he would be dead two weeks later of lung cancer. I wish I had told him again how much his quiet support meant.

Cullen's birth was traumatic. Not in the sense that bad things happened, but in retrospect, that they could have. Lucky for me I had my OB dr there, and my OB husband who could communicate over a pregnant belly with only exchanged looks. Cullen was too big for my pelvic region but we had no idea. Born at 7lbs 3oz, his head arrived but the rest of his body could not come out. Little did I know as my OB broke out into a sweat and my husband threw his arm across my belly to help me get our little man out, that I was in danger. Poor Cullen had a dislocated arm, was bruised and swollen, and I broke every blood vessel in my eyes getting him out. I looked like death for weeks.

The amazing thing, after the baby comes out, the pain does totally go away. Thank goodness. 13 minutes after giving birth, I was on the phone with the cord blood bank to come and get Cullen's cord blood. I think my Dr. headed to the nearest bar for a drink. ;)

At the time, I did not know what to expect with my life of two boys. I didn't know how hard it would be to connect with my second son. I didn't know how much he would change my life. For a child who shoved his way into this world, Cullen also shoved his way into my heart. Now, I cannot imagine life without my sweet natured, sensitive, hilarious little man. Little did I know how fiercely I would defend him.

Cullen's name is Gaelic and means handsome. With his golden eyes and ready smile, he truly is a child of my heart. He is the child most like me at times, and other times so much unlike me. He is the child who made me see raising brothers is the biggest gift of my lifetime. He taught me that everyone in the playground needs to be included, even those we would not actively choose to join in our small circle. Cullen has taught me to bend down and examine bugs, to look up and see the clouds. He sees every rainbow after the storm, and the other side to every story. He has a compassion in him that brings me to my knees. He has a love for God that makes me feel small. He gets his feelings hurt so quickly and easily that I have to constantly be on the lookout for how I say things, and on the defense for anyone who inadvertantly steps on his toes. He is the child I most worry about because he is so directly effected by what goes on in the world. Worrying constantly for others. Putting up walls so that he can protect himself. I will go to the ends of the Earth for this child. I will stand up against any force that tries to change him, and does not appreciate the gift that he is. I have done it before. I'm sure I will do it again. He is my second son and I adore him.

Little did I know, 10 years ago, on this day before Cullen's birth, how I, myself, would change with the birth of my second son. And I'm glad I didn't know. I'm glad I can only see three steps in front of me. Because I may not have stepped up to the challenge so readily. I may not have shifted my thinking. And I may have missed out on one of the greatest gifts of my life. Thank you, Cullen McKee, for choosing me. I love you to the moon and back. Always. Happy Birthday, sweet boy!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

In a few short weeks we will be attending a family reunion in NH. I love these get togethers every 3 years, even if I am unable to attend  some in between. Seeing your traits reflected in people who walk every different path of life is amazing. To have a connection with people who's lives intertwine yours is wonderful. Last time, I introduced my third son to my extended family. This year, I will introduce my daughter.

I am eagerly waiting to place her in my cousin Gay's arms. Why? Because she was my most favorite cousin growing up. We had the most fun together. She bought me a Worlds Favorite Cousin pin once and I wore it with such pride. Gay shares something wonderful with Elliana as well. Gay was adopted into our family when she was four years old. And all of my life, I have seen how Gay was treated. As one of us. Because she is. There was never any distiction of her being adopted, unless Gay brought it up. I've known it my whole life but it has never made me think of her any differently than my favorite cousin. I cannot wait to see the love shining for our daughter in her eyes, just as there has been for each of our sons.

When I think back on these reunions, I remember how I missed the one after Kadin was born. My grandmother had died shortly before we were to go, and it was too painful on my father to attend. Instead, he visited with us and we tried to think of other things. We did go to the next one in Atlanta with two boys in tow. This was also the first time my family met Dave. Each time we get together, we celebrate new life, and reflect on those who have passed. This year, my sons will miss their Aunt Debbie, Gay's mom, who was greeted in Heaven not long ago. Shortly after she knew Elliana was in our arms. How I wish I could have sat one more time, adoptive mom to adoptive mom, and asked my Aunt Debbie some questions.

As the months pass, I realize what a journey we are on. Each child brings his own story to our lives. Each pregnancy made it's own impact. And our journey with Elliana is no different. The paper pregnancy with her touched us. Her being a part of us makes us connected to a whole different aspect of life that we never truly understood. Straddling both the bio and the adoptive world is interesting. I live each day with my eyes wide open.

Almost nine months ago we started exploring this road we are on. Just NINE months ago we started discussing adoption. We talked to friends, we did some internet searches. We talked to our boys. Last year, we lived through the summer without even knowing how this year would be changing us. We built a cabin with three bunk beds. We were incomplete and didn't realize it completely. Nine months ago my husband mentioned that he would like to look into adopting a daughter. To fulfill a dream I had for our life. To parent both genders. Little did we know where we would end up.

Today, Elliana is four months old. We are waiting to finish our last two post placement visits. We are completing paperwork for court. We will know next month when our finalization date will be. If all goes as scheduled, we will finalize our adoption after an eleven month journey. Almost to the date we decided TO adopt. That will never cease to amaze me.

That amazement I expect to see reflected in my family's eyes. Our "maybe baby" is here, thriving, and capturing all of our hearts with her existance. :)