When Breath Becomes Air

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Admittedly, I have had a reading dry spell.  I have gone to bed earlier and napped when I would typically be reading.  But I have recently managed to work When Breath Becomes Air into my rigorous sleeping schedule and am so glad I did.  I finished it about a week ago and still find myself thinking about it.

First, I don’t read much non-fiction.  I prefer to escape in stories that are not real.  So a non-fiction book has to be highly praised and really grab my attention before I consider it.  This one came onto my radar through the Cup of Jo Blog.  Joanna Goddard, who writes Cup of Jo, is the sister of Lucy Kalanithi, who is the wife of Paul Kalanithi, the author of When Breath Becomes Air.  Once Joanna started talking about the book, it seemed like I saw it everywhere.  And now it is a New York Times best seller.

The book tells the story of Paul Kalanithi, a neurosurgeon diagnosed with late stage cancer in his last year of medical training.  Dr. Kalanithi writes about his life, his training, and the transition from doctor to patient.  He dies in the end; you should know that from the beginning.  But the beauty of the book is in his approach to death and his insights along the way.  Most of the book is not about death.  It is not depressing to read.  It is beautiful, smart, fulfilling and very enjoyable.  Read it and give it to all your friends.

 

God’s faithfulness.

Thirty-eight months after beginning our “maybe we should try for kids” journey, we finally heard the news I truly never thought we would hear. A positive pregnancy test. And more than anything, I am struck by God’s faithfulness in all 38 months. He is constant. He doesn’t change. And that faithfulness was and is enduring.

I have shared our struggle on this blog, here and here. We left off with a few questions to the world. Inquiring about international adoption. Inquiring about fostering. Inquiring about knowledge of a young girl seeking to find a forever family for her child, perhaps without using an agency.

Many graciously reached out with their own experiences. Those that shared, provided insight that helped Scott and me guide our next steps. I heard from high school friends. Long lost friends. Friends of friends. I am grateful for each contact. They made a significant difference. We did not know what we were looking for, other than something that felt like the right thing. We were looking for God’s guidance through his people.

A few of my observations from the experience:

The calling of a foster parent is no joke. My respect, admiration, and love for those super heroes runs deep. But that calling is not ours.

International adoption takes years. And lots of trips elsewhere. And well, there were a lot of reasons why it did not feel right to us. But my goodness, the steadfastness of those waiting for children overseas is inspiring! But it is not for us.

I won’t talk on the blog about all the ins-and-outs of how we got to where we are, other than to say that God was creative and good to us to reveal an avenue to carry a child, thus having a much needed gestational period for a much needed opportunity to get used to the idea of a child coming into the mix. If God made a gestational period for anyone, he made it for us. And I am grateful.

So here we are. Fifteen weeks pregnant, scared to death about caring for a little human, with gratitude coming out our ears. We utilized the help of Texas Fertility Center and just had to do one round of IVF. This one round opened my eyes to those who suffer multiple unsuccessful rounds. All the shots, the prohibitions, exams, blood work, and appointments could be endured because of our end result. It just seems like salt in the wound when a baby doesn’t reward all that junk. God bless each one who has endured that heartache.

October 8 is our due date. That gives us plenty of time to wrap our brains around all this and avoid mosquitoes with a vengeance.

Thank you to each one of you who has diligently prayed for us, encouraged us, and loved on us in the valleys of these 38 long months. We have felt prayers from all corners of our world. Thank you for lifting our names to God even when we really didn’t know what to pray. Keep it up because I think we will need all those prayers and encouragement as we make this transition to parenthood.

Still a family of two.

I wrote a post a few years ago about not being pregnant. I am still not and we are still a family of two. Before I posted that blog, Scott and I had talked a lot about expanding our family but the blog post increased the intensity of our thinking and conversations in a good way. I think it helped us go from each having a position—I wanted kids and Scott wasn’t too sure—to starting an actual exploration.

We know now that for us to have a child sharing our DNA would truly take a miracle. I pray for that and part of me still expects it. Because I know that while God may choose to provide us with that miracle bio-baby and I also know that He may not, I have gone through waves of sadness related to that loss. I think a child with our DNA would be really great—with a huge dose of quirky and hard-headedness. I believe God can do this for us, and we would delight in having a miracle baby. But we are also seeking other ways to expand our family. And maybe through those other avenues, however undefined they might be, our miracle might come. But the “other ways” just don’t seem that clear.

Our exploration has been slow and disjointed. God knows the end of our story. Only He does. And I am fearful that we will be too lazy, too antsy, too blinded by our own desires, too “something” to see God’s plan. I do not have answers.

We have explored various forms of adoption, basically on a quest to find something that feels right to us. I have no idea what that might be, but I am certain it will come. We went to a weekend at Christian Homes in Abilene, an agency that does domestic adoptions. I know some really wonderful parents and kids who used them. We went to a fostering-to-adopt orientation. Whoa. We walked away overwhelmed. But strangely I keep coming back to fostering to adopt. We just visited with friends who are hosting Ukrainian orphans for the summer. I am also intrigued with what is out there that would allow for a private adoption without going through an agency. I have heard some success stories like that.

Through fertility stuff and adoption research and just circling around it all to figure out our next steps, the private adoption and fostering to adopt things keep coming up. On the private-adoption-without-and-agency thing, how does one find a dear, brave birth momma who is considering such a thing? I think God works stuff like that out, but I can’t help but wonder who may read this blog, who knows of someone trying to make that hard choice, who might want to meet us and see if we might be a worthy family for their child? It’s worth a shot.

On the foster to adopt front, I have rejected it as too chaotic, but is it? I think I need to figure that out.

In the meantime, we enjoy being the two of us. We take advantage of just being two. We vacation.

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We exercise on Saturday mornings, and sleep late on Sundays (you know, till like 8 am!). We have uninterrupted conversations. There’s more time to read. Scott can watch movies where people get blown up and not worry about traumatizing young eyes. But as time goes by, my heart continues to tug for a little person. I see people parent and dream of what a joy that would be. I want the honor of molding a heart and mind, and to point some little person to Christ, as their parents. What a big, dog deal.

Scott and I are together in our continued exploration. When fertility “stuff” did not work, I think being denied the choice caused desire to bubble up within him. In this regard, I see God answering our prayers to knit our hearts together. But he and I agree we are not getting any younger, and need to get going on whatever it is we are doing.

So I am casting questions to the blog world, and would love input on the following things.

Does fostering-to-adopt have to be as chaotic as I fear?

Has anyone used a faith-based agency in Austin that they recommend for fostering-to-adopt?

What agencies would you recommend for international adoptions? (I am intrigued but not sure it is for us, which is an about face from my thoughts last week.)

Does anybody have knowledge of an orphanage where we can adopt a child that is 2 or 3 years old?

Does anyone know of a brave woman considering her options with an unwanted pregnancy? I am interested but also scared of this. I am open to what God may have out there for us, but in reading about ethical adoption, I am struck by the need to keep my desperation for a family in check with a birth mother’s exploration toward adoption. I know, however, that God is big enough to orchestrate even something like this.

Thanks in advance for caring enough about our small lives to read and share. My email is chelseabuch at gmail dot com.

What happened to August?

The older I get, the faster time passes.  Perhaps that is normal, but I feel like I missed all of August!  We did some fun things.  I followed Scott to Park City, Utah for a weekend of riding bikes–he rode with his friend, Drew and I hiked, read, and caught up on “me” time.  It was lovely.  Then we both got sick and recovered.  That was August.

I have lots to update.  We finally ended our relationship with the City of Austin with our final remodel inspection.  I do not miss them.

To accomplish the final inspection, we built a railing on our front steps and porch.  We have some stone work left to do and then I will show off the final results.

We also have a huge punch list to complete the remodel.  We need to finish painting, hang some interior doors, build a few barn doors, redo a screened door, build a deck, do landscaping, hang curtains, and a few other fun projects that we are having a hard time starting.

In the meantime, I am one book shy of my 10-book reading goal for the summer. Jane, my niece, decided she would make it a competition.  I think she read 13 or 14 books, so she kicked my tail.  She is eight and fierce.  But I do have a few reviews to share.

In the Unlikely Event61LGf0TJ-FL._SX334_BO1,204,203,200_ is a Judy Blume book written for grownups.  But it still felt a little elementary.  It was an interesting read about a town in New Jersey close to the Newark airport where 3 plane crashes occurred within a few months.  The characters and story line are a bit predictable, but it was a nice, easy read.

Stir: My Broken Brain and the Meals That Brought Me Home4177MUapjLL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_ is a charming book about a 28-year-old woman who had a brain aneurysm while running on a treadmill.  She was working towards her PhD  in Yiddish Literature and is a lover of food.  The book chronicles her recovery and the part food played in it.  She is a lovely person with a precious husband.  I appreciated her ability to share her own life stories in a way that made me reflect on my own.  And her recipes are inspiring!  She uses some ingredients that I rarely use.  Her plum tart and almond cake are amazing!  I am not a huge fan of most memoir/recipe books but this one was worth reading. The only thing missing for me in the book was God’s provision through her recovery, but I don’t think the author is overly spiritual–at least she did not talk about it in the book.  She also blogs here.

51lPLBb4nyL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_And lastly, I listened to Go Set A Watchman, by Harper Lee.  Reese Witherspoon reads it and did a beautiful job.  I loved the story.  I found myself grinning as I listened.  I am still trying to figure out the take away from the book, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.  It is nostalgic and more of the same from Mockingbird.  I hiked the mountains of Park City while I listened, which was quite a treat.

Since then, I have started a few books–Jen Hatmaker’s For the Love.  It is great so far.  And I am reading some adoption exploration books.  More on that in future posts.