We weren’t going to have biological children. There were too many unknowns around my health. I was scared. We decided that we were going to move forward with adoption. We had actually scheduled our first adoption meeting.
Then I had The Dream.
I don’t remember anything about the dream. But as soon as I woke up, I knew. I knew that I couldn’t make the decision to not have biological kids out of fear; we needed to try.
Before I move on, I want to make sure to clarify that we LOVE adoption and we believe many people are called to adopt. But we don’t believe that you should make any decision out of fear.
So being the faithful follower of Jesus that I am, I gave God a month.
Without a hint of hesitation I approached the creator of all things and declared “Well, I’ve been through enough and now I feel like you are convicting me to have a biological child. I love you enough to obey you. But I will only be brave for a month.”
About a month later I was calling my mom at 6:00 am with the news. We needed all hands on deck. I was pregnant.
When I got pregnant with Piper there were only around 225 documented pregnancies from women post liver transplant. That included miscarriages, stillbirths and births. There is a high rate of miscarriages for women who had had liver transplants. On top of that, there is a history of miscarriages in my family.
The odds were stacked against me.
Between my phobia of throwing up, my traumatic health experiences and normal pregnancy fears, I lived in a constant state of fear for the first 3-4 months of my pregnancy.
And just as I began to settle into being pregnant, I began to itch. Internally. And there was nothing I could do about it. When I was able to sleep, I would wake up with blood all over my arms from itching. To say it was horrible doesn’t give it the credit it deserves. I developed a pregnancy disease called cholestasis. If you want to get more details, you can consult the google:) But I’ll tell you this, being uncontrollably itchy is not for the faint of heart. Cholestasis can also cause still birth for the child. So as soon as they diagnosed me, they wanted to deliver Piper as soon as possible.
Piper Cheri (named after my donor) was born on June 20, 2008 5 weeks and 6 days early.
I had been holding my breath for so long, expecting a disaster at every turn. I remember walking through the door of our house 5 days after she was born. I recall thinking “I made it. I did it. I had a baby.”
So much of what had been hard with my pregnancy was that no one could tell me what to expect. I didn’t know anyone who had a liver transplant and then had a baby. In fact, no one I knew (including my doctor) knew anyone that had a liver transplant and then had a baby.
But when we arrived home, I had a good idea of what to expect. I’m not a baby person, I knew that. Nursing grossed me out, but I knew it was the best thing. I knew we would be tired. I had been fully warned by the people around us of what a terrifying, exhausting and wonderful season we were entering. I was ready to face it head on.
The beginning was fairly normal. Piper had some asthma because she was born so early. I didn’t nurse long, so both Bryan & I took turns feeding her each night. Both of us got a decent amount of sleep. My liver was fine. It took me a long time to lose the baby weight, but the recovery was a familiar story. We surrounded ourselves with great people. I went to a moms group. Bryan was (is) super hands on. It was what I had expected.
From the beginning, Piper has always been stubborn and spirited. That didn’t surprize anyone considering who her parents are. Her tantrums were intense, her emotions were big. She was just being Piper.
But things began to shift when she was 5 or so. Not just in her, but in me too. Her tantrums became more intense and harder to manage. Her emotions felt big and out of control. It started to feel like she had taken control over our household. We began to shift our plans in order to manage her emotions or to avoid an outburst. Consequences no longer seemed to matter or motivate change in behavior. She was seeking control and we never knew if it would manifest itself in anger or anxiety (which I shared about in my previous blog). We read books and sought counsel and nothing seemed to work. I hadn’t expected this, I hadn’t prepared.
I became resentful.
I’ve shared in other blogs that for many years (and I’m still in recovery) I’ve had a transactional faith and I didn’t even realize it. After my liver transplant anything bad that happened to me would throw me into a frenzy. My conversation with God was on repeat “God, I have been through SO much and I’ve been so faithful to you and this is how you repay me!?” I would not admit it out loud, but in my heart I believed that if I did the right thing then I should be blessed and things should be easy.
So my transactional thinking told me:
God told me to have baby + I was obedient = this shouldn’t be so hard.
My resentment began to change the way I parented. As her tantrums became more intense, I just gave in. It was too hard. She would be emotional and I would switch our plans in order to avoid the outburst of the day. I found myself withdrawing from her. She was making our life really hard. I didn’t want to be around her. I didn’t want to parent her. I would tell myself “I didn’t deserve a child like this, I shouldn’t have to deal with this. I had been through enough. This is not what I expected.”
I’m not proud to say those things out loud. Especially because, if I’m honest, I still feel that way. Some days more than others. But I’m saying them because I don’t believe that I’m alone. I believe that there are moms (and Dads) out there with kids who are not what they expected. It may be because of a disability they were born with or a result of choices that the child has made; a lot of our kids are not who we expect them to be. Our failed expectations lead to changes in how we parent. We give up on parenting and withdraw. We make concessions. We get disappointed and easily give up. We feel guilty, we give it our best shot, quickly get discouraged and take a back seat.
I have done all of those things. I’ve allowed my perceived defeat to drive me to complacency. I’ve made concessions. I’ve felt guilty, motivated and discouraged all within minutes. I know God never promised things to be easy, but it doesn’t keep me from being disappointed. I buy into the lie that I deserve better. I allow my resentment to be the fuel that drives my parenting decisions.
And that is not the parent I want to be.
So I’m going to spend some time talking about it. Not because I know the answers, but because I’m in the trenches. I’ve learned a few things, but I still have a lot to learn. I want to hear from others. I want to learn how to adjust my expectations. I want to dig in deep now because I know it is worth it.
Do you have a child you struggle with? Can one of your children take you from 0-1,000 in seconds? Do you find yourself giving in? Do you feel disappointment and/or guilt? Have you felt resentment towards your child?
You are not alone my friend.
Take a deep breath and begin to take note. Ask yourself “What is fueling my disportionate reactions?” Write down how you are feeling in that moment. Take stock of the condition of your heart. Evaluate your expectations.
Lets do this. Let’s work together to become the parents we want to be.