I was so tired and in so much despair. So many things were going on....trying to wrap my head around a pregnancy...trying to figure out what Romeo's health issues were...trying to find a way to soothe The Professor - who really didn't want to snuggle and be rocked...trying to keep up with laundry and messes...trying to make each dollar stretch as finances got tighter and tighter. Our church rallied around us and many people filled our freezer with frozen meals and groceries. One teen aged girl asked if she could come as a helper on some afternoons.
As is my pattern, I started to get sick around 5 1/2 weeks pregnant - not just nauseous, but vomiting all day long. People told me that God would make this pregnancy easier. But it simply got worse and worse - I could hold nothing down, I couldn't even function. I couldn't get into my OB right away, but I finally called the office and sobbed out my story over the phone to the nurse. Could I please get something to help with the nausea? The nurse bluntly said, "Honey, you don't have to go through with this pregnancy." I was once again completely stunned. How could she suggest I kill my baby? I stuttered out that is wasn't even an option. She sighed and said the doctor had called in a prescription for me. Well, it didn't work. The side effect was that it caused sleepiness...I would just fall asleep! I couldn't do that with 6 little children to care for. I finally got into my OB. She listened to my story with amazing sympathy. She was a very good doctor, but very stand-offish. This time she sat down and shared that she grew up in Ecuador - her parents were missionaries there. Once again, I was shocked. She made it very clear she was not a believer, but that she had great compassion on the people of South America. She was very impressed that we had adopted and she wanted to help in whatever way she could. She brought me in a handful of packets of a new drug. It was one that they gave to patients on chemotherapy for nausea. It just dissolved under my tongue. It didn't completely take the ickiness away, but it did make an amazing difference. I was so relieved....until we went to fill the prescription. My insurance would only pay 1/2 of the cost and only for a brief stretch of time. In short, the pills cost $30 a piece. I had to pay $15. I was supposed to take 3 a day. There was no way we could afford that. Money was so very, very tight. I would take one in the morning - it would last for 4 hours - I would get as much done as possible in that 4 hours and then it would wear off and I would throw up for the rest of the day until everyone was in bed and I could take the other one that made me fall asleep. At least for a few hours....until The Professor's screaming would wake me up again. And the furnace would kick out again...
Yes, on top of everything else our furnace was broken. Our house was built in two stages. One half of the house (the original) was heated by an oil furnace. The other half (with most of the bedrooms) was heated by electric. Before we brought our twins home, the oil furnace was acting a bit funny, so we had it serviced. Instead, they found a huge crack in the actual furnace that was very, very dangerous. Goodbye $3000 to replace it. Money that we really needed for other things - but my kiddos were cold, they came first. Now the other furnace was acting up and we just couldn't bring ourselves to call a repairman - we just didn't have the money. So every night, I would wake up really cold and have to run downstairs - which the way the house was built, was really a long way, flip the breaker on and off until I heard the furnace kick back on, then head back up. This always triggered another bout of nausea, so I would throw up for a while and then try to get back to sleep before The Professor started his jumping and screaming again....
With Romeo, we were sent to doctor after doctor. Our pediatrician was overwhelmed. He didn't know what was wrong. We would have tests done and then get a strange result or image...that would send us to another doctor (like the cardiologist) who would take another image/test and say everything was fine. They just simply could not find out what was wrong with him. A doctor finally told me that the "dent" in his chest was probably caused by the tight space in utero and that it would pull into the right place as his muscles got stronger - sure enough, by 6 years old, it was gone. You would never know it now.
Finally, they decided to do one more sedated MRI. When it was done, he was sleeping on the bed while the sedation wore off. The anesthesiologist came in and said with concern, "Why is he breathing like that?" I told him that he always snored that loudly. He looked at me in complete shock and then pulled his oxygen numbers up - he was stating at 82. That is not good. It should always be in the 90s, even in a deep sleep. I know that God sent this doctor in His grace because the doctor immediately got on the phone and set up for us to see the ENT. A sleep study was done and they raced us into surgery to remove his tonsils and adenoids. He was a completely different boy the next day! He was no longer drowsy and lethargic - he was alert and aware. It was amazing -such an answer to prayer! But surgery does not remove a stubborn personality!
I should back up a bit. The surgery was done about 3 1/2 months after he came home. During the first weeks at home - in my overwhelmed, nauseous, tired state - I kept working with Romeo to sit up by himself. It was the oddest thing. I would sit him up and he would throw himself backwards...I would sit him up and he would throw himself backwards. What kind of special need did he have that would cause that? I was terrified. After he had been home for about 10 weeks, the young teenager came over to help me. I was so relieved, but had so much to do in the short period of time she was there. I walked out of the room to get started but then realized that I didn't explain to her that Romeo couldn't sit up by himself. I walked around the corner just as she plopped him down on his bottom. (He could not see me.) I was about to call out a warning, when I realized he was sitting up just fine and smiling and cooing at her. WHAT? WHAT? He was sitting up? He was smiling and cooing? I had never seen that with him. I walked farther into the room and Romeo turned and saw me and....CLUNK!...he fell backwards on the floor and started crying. No way. No way. I told the teenager quietly that I was going to leave the room and in a while, I wanted her to sit Romeo back into a sitting position and that I would sneak around the corner. She had to think I was completely insane! Sure enough - she played with him and then sat him down. He was fine - for a long time - and then I purposely moved into his view and....CLUNK...down he went. I was SO angry. - not the reaction I should have had - I am not excusing myself at all - but I was so worn out, so sick, so tired, so overwhelmed, so angry.
I called Handsome and my mom and told them, but neither one believed me. My mom had started gently telling me that I was assuming the worst with Romeo and my attitude needed to change. There was some truth in that - Romeo and I were not doing well together. He did not like me. Even though I would have sworn before they came that I didn't need that reciprocal love, the honest truth is that it is very, very difficult to love someone who does not like you - especially when I was so completely beaten down by everything else. I wasn't seeking my strength from my Savior - I had not learned to do that yet. I was simply trying to get by on my own strength - of which I had absolutely none left.
A week or so later, it was a difficult morning. My "gold pill", as we called them, was not working well that morning. I was sick and tired from a long night of furnace/The Professor and vomiting. Everyone needed me that morning. I had the 3 little boys lined up in the high chairs and the other 3 were needing help with drinks, etc. Romeo had me convinced that he could not eat by himself. I would put food in front of him like with Smiley and The Professor, and he would just stare at it and cry. One time, I finally got him to pick up a Cheerio - I was so excited to see him move it to his mouth but just before he put it in, his eyes met mine and it just dropped. What was wrong with him? I really was thinking that there was serious damage to his brain and I just cried and cried in despair. Anyway, I was trying to feed Romeo, but someone spilled something, someone else was screaming, so I put his food on his tray and went to help. One thing led to another and it took me a long time to get back to him. When I turned around - his food was gone. He was eating it just fine - like he had been eating for months - no problems, no missing his mouth, no spills. WHAT? The anger quickly turned to a deep bitterness.
I was wrong to allow this to happen. I should have been on my knees before my Savior, but I was so immature - I didn't know how. We were being held up as having such deep faith - but we were so weak. We had obeyed and trusted - but our trials were showing us that we had no real foundation to stand upon. We weren't turning to Him - we were throwing up prayers continually, but then trying to figure it out and do it on our own. I look back at my bitterness and anger with deep, deep humiliation. But I am sharing it now because it may help someone else who is struggling with the same thing - with either a bio or adopted child - will know it is wrong and that there is forgiveness and healing in Christ.
From that point on, I refused to hand feed him. He was hungry enough that he would cry for a few minutes but then finally feed himself. I also started to sit him on his bottom and when he fell over, I would just sit him back up - we would go through the same routine for easily 10-15 minutes but then he would finally give in and sit up. Instead of being thankful, the anger just continued to burn. I didn't tell anyone about these battles because more and more people were babying him and just could not see that he was doing anything on purpose. He was "poor, baby [Romeo]" that everyone adored and gushed over. I just gave up and started thinking that maybe I was a horrific mother - that maybe I was even going insane. Maybe I was imagining everything with Romeo and he was just a poor little sick child and I was such a monster, I couldn't even see that. I began to slip in to dangerous depression. I would sit and hold my pregnant, nauseous belly and think that I just couldn't do it anymore. That if anyone could see the depth of my anger at the twins and my lack of strength, they would be appalled. Was life worth living if I was such a monster? Maybe my kids would be better off without me.
The issues with The Professor were different, but just as bizarre. I tried to put boots on him and he screamed and screamed and screamed. I would stand him up with the shoes on (he began walking after 2 weeks home) and he would just fall over screaming. He would scream when certain clothes would be put on him. Just before Christmas, The Warrior was trying to help him and they both fell and The Professor had to have stitches above his eyebrow. (The Warrior was crushed - he was so heartbroken and blamed himself, it was so sad!) We were supposed to go in on Christmas Eve to have the stitches pulled out. They were really bothering him. I woke him up that morning and to my horror he had pulled them all out himself! These were not dissolving stitches! He had a little blood, but it looked like it would hold together. Our last trip to the doctor was so horrific with him, I just decided not to go back in. His favorite thing to do was to jump in the super saucer - the noise was so overwhelming. Every night he would be screaming and jumping in his crib. I didn't know how to help. I think when I would try to tell others about all of it, they just thought I was exaggerating....and my depression and sense of helplessness grew.
After Romeo's surgery - and an amazing change physically - he was put into physical therapy. He began to move around on his bottom by using his arms to propel himself forward, but he wasn't crawling or walking. He was about 17 month old. We were assigned to a very nice therapist, who had been doing this for about 8 years - not a rookie by any means. Romeo cuddled up and snuggled with her at first but quickly changed his tune when he found out that she was going to make him do things! He would simply refuse and eventually roll over on his back with his hands and feet sticking up in the air and just scream. He would also do this at home occasionally, though never with anyone but me. I called it the "dead bug" pose. Once he did that at therapy, the therapist knew the day was done. There was nothing she could make him do at that point. I just sat there with a stunned, blank look on my face. Each session was costing us $60, even with "financial aid" - money we just didn't have - especially if it was over with in about 15 minutes, with no work being accomplished.
Finally, after several weeks of this, the therapist said she was going to have another person come in and help. This woman had more like 20 years of experience. She watched as he quickly went from happy to "dead bug". She was quiet for a bit and then turned to me and asked, "What do you think is going on?" Uh, no way. There was no way I was going to answer it. I had already had it beaten into me that I was wrong when it came to him. I was not going to answer. I just shrugged my shoulders as the tears threatened to pour down my face. This woman was very smart. She said, "It's okay. Just tell me honestly what you think." I quietly whispered, "I think he is just strong willed." The other therapist sucked in her breath - "strong willed" is a not a PC word - it is not appropriate in a therapy setting. The wise older woman nodded her head (to the other therapist's shock) and said, "That's what I think. And how often do you win?" This made the other therapist's eyes bulge! I started sobbing and said, "Never. I never win. Everyone has convinced me that I am wrong about him, so I never fight him." She put her hand on my shoulder and looked me straight in the eyes and said, "You have got to start winning. Big or small, you have to win." She went on to explain guidelines - obviously no abuse and anger. Just gentle, but firm insistence. She sent us home with the job of standing him up at the coffee table and making him stand there for 10 minutes, twice a day. I told her that he was just going to sit down and she said to just gently but firmly stand him back up as many times as needed in a 10 minute period. I cried all the way home in relief. Maybe I wasn't crazy after all!
Handsome and my mom were shocked, but I know God's grace was working in their hearts. Handsome agreed to help me - my safety check so I wouldn't get too angry. And a long, bitter battle began. Romeo would scream the entire time - but as the therapist said, his legs could hold him up for that long. Each week she would assign us a new thing to work on at home and would set the guidelines for the "battle" and we would start again. Within 3 weeks, she put him in a teeny tiny metal walker (like an older person would use) but turned it around so as it slid forward, it would push against his bottom to make him move forward. He HATED it. Once again, she set the guidelines and we would follow it. This included taking it to church were he would have to walk to the nursery in it and then walk to the door to the parking lot. Oh, he HATED it. Within 10 days, he was walking on his own because he hated the walker so much. I was so very, very thankful. Our battles were far from over, but I was so happy he was mobile and strong!
During the time Romeo's surgery months before, Handsome and I realized that we were going to have to sell our house. We just could not keep up with the mortgage, the home equity loan for the twins adoption, and all our bills with the way his business was going. This had been the house of our dreams. It was nearly 5,000 square feet. How could we possibly move? We calculated what size mortgage we felt we could manage, and it was pretty depressing. It meant a much smaller rambler. The housing market was at it's height. Our maximum didn't leave many options and the houses were selling so fast, we didn't know how we could do it. I didn't know how to put the house on the market with 6 small children and being so sick pregnant. How could I possibly keep it clean enough? But we knew we couldn't buy another house without selling ours first. As we looked at possibilities, I told Handsome that we needed to find a rambler like his brother's - it had vaulted ceilings and a more "open" concept with four smaller bedrooms and a garage that we could convert for more space, and a nice backyard. It was a little over 1600 sq feet - that seemed like a postage stamp compared to our 5,000 sq feet that was full of toys and stuff. But his brother had just announced a few weeks before that they were never moving. Well, at least we had an idea of what to look for. This was one of the first times we really started praying in earnest - not that God would bless our plans but that He would show us His plan. It seems like a small thing - but it is a huge step of surrender.
Not long after that, at a family get together, Handsome's brother announced that they were buying a bigger house. Handsome and my eyes met across the room and we just gulped. Was God opening a door? We didn't say anything at the time but talked about it later. We laughed a little bitterly that the brother was selling because they were feeling a little cramped with one child and now with a second baby on the way they needed more space. Here we were hoping to squeeze 7 kids in when our new daughter was born. Yes, we knew now that this was a baby girl - the baby girl that God had told me to get ready for - just not in the way I had planned. I was still so bitter and overwhelmed that I left the fabric I bought in the bag - I could not bring myself to make the blanket. In fact, Snip was over a year old before I made that blanket for her. What brambles I had in my heart and soul for the Lord to work through.
We asked, gulping back our humiliation, if we could measure the rooms in his house to see if we could get 3 girls into one of them. His brother and wife could not believe we were serious. In God's beautiful grace, they agreed that we could buy the house and that we could rent it while our other house was on the market. The market was so hot that houses were selling in days, so we hoped we would only have to make one rental payment with the mortgage payment. When they moved out, another heartbreaking stage began in our life. We sold off 50% of our stuff. My beautiful furniture (all bought at garage sales or given to us), my china (which now seems so silly to me, but at the time was very precious), the kids toys, Handsome's special things. It hurt. I would go to the big house a 5 am and work until Handsome couldn't handle the kids anymore and/or had to go to work. I was 7 months pregnant at the time. All the lifting and getting up and down was killing my back. I think I cried the whole time. My mom had tried to help but quickly became overwhelmed and said she just didn't know how to help anymore. She and my dad had graciously done "extreme home makeovers" for each of the kids bedrooms at the new house. Bunk beds and fun touches that made each room special. All the kids were having a hard time moving, so this was quite a gift.
And another morning gone....hang in there. :)
Until He comes...