Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Golden Baby

The past few months have been a bit of a whirlwind for our family. About 6 weeks ago, the company David worked for went out of business (again - the second time in 6 months with no other companies to buy them out and save them this time). About a week after that, we became certified as foster parents and 8 days after certification, we got the call to take in two sisters, age 2 and 5.

The day after we brought the girls home, David was offered a job with extensive travel (10-15 days per month is what it's looking like). He had two weeks before starting that job in which he was home full time and helping me adjust to caring for four kids and welcoming the girls into our family. During that time, thee four kids and me all got the flu. Thankfully David didn't get it and was able to care for us all, but it was a tough time. I haven't had the flu in probably 15 years so it just seemed like such terrible timing and really made incorporating the girls into our family that much more difficult.

Last week was David's first week on the job and he was gone Monday-Friday. On Wednesday, we learned that the girls would be leaving us on Friday to live with family. It truly seems like they are going to a great situation with loving, stable family, but after only 3 weeks we did get attached and it was hard to say goodbye, and especially for me to get them packed up and to have to deal with the emotional aspect of saying goodbye to them on my own with David still away. The littlest one called me mama as was already so attached to me so saying goodbye to her was particularly rough.

The first chapter of our experience as foster parents is over and we are grateful we were able to help these girls in their time of need. It was all a bit of an unusual case and we thought we would have the girls here with us for at least six months...and then they weren't. Which in the end is best for them (better for them to gain permanency now) and in many ways for us too. Having a short first placement gave us experience to be able to discern a little more carefully future placements in our home so that we can be the best foster parents possible by making sure the children are the best fit for our family and our family is adequately able to care for the needs of the kids. I definitely feel like fostering is one of those things you can read about and talk about and take trainings for but never really understand until you are doing it. And truly each child and situation is different, but we feel like we understand it a bit better and are a bit more prepared for next time.

This all leads me to perhaps our biggest and most important recent news: I'm expecting! It's seems a bit crazy that two years ago, we were just finding out we were pregnant with Davey shortly after my endometriosis surgery and we had only the teeny tiniest hope that that baby might actually live. That baby did live (and is currently making a mess of my kitchen - the boy loves colanders) and now I am 17 weeks pregnant with his little brother or sister. In many ways, this pregnancy is completely overwhelming. It's been completely normal and healthy, something that really just doesn't seem normal to me. Davey came after four miscarriages, dozens of blood draws, hundreds of injections, and a surgery.  In many ways it felt like we had to work hard for our baby, we had to earn him. (I know that baby's are not truly earned - they are always undeserved blessings. But after my experiences, it just felt like suffering was a necessary part of eventually having a living child.)

This pregnancy has been effortless (not to say I haven't felt unwell, I had a terribly sick first trimester but there hasn't been any bleeding or other fears about the health of the baby) and I just feel so undeserving. To have to healthy pregnancies and babies in a row seems almost impossible after what I had gone through and just the unworthiness I feel about it all is often so overwhelming. There are so many couples out there still waiting for a baby after infertility or loss. So many of them are so much more deserving than I of a baby. Why has God blessed me with another (living) child while they still wait and suffer? I know there aren't answers to these questions. I know that our baby is completely undeserved by me (what could I ever do to deserve him/her?) and I know that this baby is nothing but a blessing and a gift. And I'm so very, very grateful.

I've been thinking a lot about a pregnancy after a pregnancy after loss. It's not the same as that first pregnancy after loss. But it's not the same as never experiencing a loss at all, either. A baby born after a loss is often called a "rainbow baby" (though I prefer the term penumbra baby), so what is a baby born after a rainbow baby? I couldn't find a term or any discussion of this subsequent baby and pregnancy anywhere, but I've been thinking about our little one as our "golden baby". (You know, for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow? Ok, probably not as clever as I thought.) I know it's not everyone's experience, but my "pregnancy after loss" with Davey was overshadowed by depression and fear. This pregnancy feels redemptive in many ways. I'm rediscovering the joy of carrying life that filled my first pregnancy with Lucia (and my second pregnancy in which we lost Francis) but that has been completely absent in subsequent pregnancies. I am so grateful for this pregnancy and baby and so looking forward to seeing baby's sweet little face.

Lucia's portrait of the baby in my tummy (whom she calls "Magic Bean") complete with umbilical cord and placenta.
She is thrilled. Davey is oblivious.


  1. So many changes! I'm so glad you said yes to this calling to be a foster family. These girls got all the love they needed, even if it was just for 3 weeks.
    Congrats on the baby! And... Lucia is looking more and more like you, Mandi!

  2. "Golden baby" seems like the perfect term. Congratulations on your newest blessing. :)

  3. Congratulations!!! Sending prayers your way for a healthy and peaceful pregnancy and birth:) God Bless and St. Gerard, pray for us!

  4. Periodically when I'm thinking of our two losses I remember to come check on your blog. You helped me (as messy wife) through my first miscarriage more than you'll ever know and I have your post about names bookmarked in case we ever need it again (sad truth). So happy to hear that you've been blessed with another healthy pregnancy and keeping you in my prayers for a safe and easy delivery.