Rock Me Again

Eight months ago, I wrote this on a night when my little one couldn’t sleep. He wasn’t even mine yet (it was a weekend visit and we still had another five days before our boys would officially move in) and he wouldn’t be legally mine for over five months.

“With trepidation I picked you up, and I started to rock you. You peered up at me in the half-light, maybe unsure of this stranger but maybe too tired to care and welcoming the comfort. For the first time in both our lives, I felt your breathing start to steady next to my belly…Eyes drifting closed, so close to sleep, and then popping open again because trusting is hard…

I can never really express how much I cherish this half-asleep you, accepting my comfort and learning to trust a stranger. I would welcome my back to ache forever if it could draw the trauma from your tiny body and into mine. In the moments, days, years to come, I dream of knowing your sounds, your breath, your heart, and your mind, if you will let it be so.”

Gentle Wild, Aches

Today, that two year old is closer to three. He seems to get taller every time I look at him, and his vocabulary grows by the day. Lately he has preferred to be rocked vertically with his head on my shoulder, or not be rocked at all and instead have his back rubbed after he is already laying down.

The little guy who would push away my helping hands when he first arrived is thriving. He runs with an energy I envy, and he laughs with abandon. None of our problems are solved–trauma is, and will continue to be, a string that threads itself through our days. But he is learning what safe feels like.

Tonight, he said, “Rock me lay down,” which I took to mean laying him horizontally along the front of my body like I did that night eight months ago. I did so, and when I thought he was asleep, I went to put him in his crib, and heard, “I want you rock me lay down again.” I rocked him, and I sang to him, and I felt my heart crack open even more than it already has.

I was overcome with memories of that difficult night, when we were both so unsure of each other but making it work. Because how can two strangers who were never meant to know each other find trust and security? Through night after night of rocking as he grows almost too big for it anymore. Through “just one more” bedtime story snuggled under a blanket. Through this oft-requested song sung quietly in the dark, over and over.

I will take your pain / Put it on my heart / I won’t hesitate, just tell me where to start

I thank the oceans for giving me you / You saved me once, now I’ll save you too / I won’t hesitate for you

Jonas Brothers, Hesitate


I Am Letting You Down

“Why don’t we prepare parents for this reality? Why don’t we talk openly about the fact that while there is much joy in becoming a parent, caring for a young child is also grueling, sometimes depressing work? That as we gain a new life, we also lose an old one?

How do we measure our own self-worth when our new self is barely recognizable?”

Like a Mother by Angela Garbes

On February 15, 2019, my life changed forever. Truly. The rest of my life can, from this point forward, be categorized as either “before kids” or “after kids.” I am the same, but I’m not the same.

Because our children didn’t join our family until my late twenties, I’ve enjoyed many years of being the childless friend. You know, the one with Netflix waiting, a midnight phone call answered, and a drink to be had at the drop of a hat.

But all of a sudden, I’m letting you down. I forgot to deliver that thing you needed, I said the wrong thing or said nothing at all when I usually have just the right thing, and now I’m digging around the kitchen drawers for the corkscrew, which now has to be under lock and key with the other sharp objects.

Trust me, I feel worse about it than you do. Though on the surface I’ve been told I come across as cold or unfeeling, those who know me well know that I actually feel very deeply. I take things right to heart and I have a sense of responsibility to the people I care about. The way I feel love is through being needed by others; that midnight phone call or last minute drink are how I thrive. When you ask my advice, I feel so honored to be part of your think tank and get to contribute my (uncensored) opinion.

So in the midst of the most exhilarating, intimidating, exhausting, emotionally draining time in my life, I’m trying to still be everything you need, and I am failing. Because I’m also trying to be everything to my new children; to fill in all their gaps and build trust and connection and a bond that will help us survive the roughest of times, which feels like now but are actually yet to come. And the thing is, I am far from enough for anyone right now. I’m failing them, too. A spotlight has been shone on my brokenness and insecurity, at the same time that I have been forced to pull away from all of the best and most secure relationships in my life.

I mean it when I say: it physically pains me to not be there for you when you need me. I grieve the loss of my independence and pray that you will still love and appreciate what I am able to offer, even when there is less of me to go around. Because that relationship we had is the same, but not the same. Though my availability has changed, my love for you has not.

So please, forgive me when I forget. Allow me time to get back to you with no ill feelings. Schedule a phone call for after bedtime. And please…bring a bottle of wine when you come over, because I’m a new mother. My wine and my patience have definitely run out.

I’ll go start looking for that corkscrew…


Suspended (in disbelief)

Teetering on the edge

Terrified to move forward

Unwilling to turn back

Water rushing…somewhere

Tides churning far below

Or waves surging from behind

Bound to take me with them

Ears ringing

Mind vibrating

Heart thumping

Arms outstretched


When Adoption is “Plan A”

Note to readers: I’ve been sitting on this post for a while now. Issues of family planning, fertility and infertility, woman/motherhood, identity and the like are simultaneously deeply personal and frustratingly political. There isn’t always space for every woman’s story, unless we make that space exist for each other. Never one to shy away from a tough conversation, I hope my sisters reading can accept my perspective for what it is…mine alone, as I don’t claim to speak for all of us at once, presented without pretense and with as much sensitivity as possible.

I have held a dear friend in my arms as she mourned a miscarriage. I have sat beside women as they shared with their families that they do not plan to have children, ever.  I have celebrated the adoptions of children who were so incredibly wanted and chosen, although their parents’ story may have started with infertility.  I have cheered blended families on as they took the next step to grow their family in countless combinations of biological, step, adopted, and fostered children. I have shared advice and prayers with gay and transgender friends who were navigating how to grow their family. And of course I have talked, and tweeted, and blogged, and ‘grammed, and texted, and more about the benefits and joys of foster care and adoption.

In all of this, I have encountered few others like me. I have never had the physical, emotional, or spiritual desire to be pregnant. To be a mother, yes. That’s a different story. My heart aches for giggles at the dinner table, bedtime stories, messy playrooms and parent teacher conferences. To not be a mother would be the greatest loss of my life. But to not birth? Meh.

I get it, I’m a bit of an anomaly. There are plenty of women who don’t want to be mothers, but not necessarily a bunch who want to be mothers, don’t want to birth a child, and have no idea whether they are fertile or not (and furthermore, don’t care). It’s not something I can easily explain, though I do grapple with this emotionally, especially knowing so many women who battle infertility. If I am fertile, shouldn’t I want to birth a child? Can I really know that I don’t want to get pregnant if I don’t even know whether I can

Chances are, any question you may have for me is already something I’ve considered myself. And trust me, I do endure a lot of questions, stories, and attempted persuasions because of this. Some of people are kind, some not so much. Everything from, “But why wouldn’t you want to have your own child?” to “Well, I never felt like a real woman until I [got pregnant, gave birth, breastfed, etc.].” I have left rooms of women–mostly mothers–to cry in the bathroom and wonder, Will I ever be considered a ‘real woman’ if I don’t want any of that? What is this exclusive-access club I can’t get into? Isn’t wanting to be a mother enough? Isn’t BEING A WOMAN enough?

Because there are many individuals and couples who come to adoption from a path of infertility, I also encounter a lot of inappropriate questions and assumptions about my body. I empathize with women who are infertile, because the process of diagnosing and treating infertility can be invasive physically and emotionally, putting your body at the forefront of the conversation. In both cases, passerby think our bodies are their business. I recently read this from Rebecca Todd Peters:

“Despite the differences that have attended social attitudes toward women’s fertility, society has consistently believed that it is socially, culturally, and politically acceptable for external forces to control women’s fertility–whether through the encouragement or discouragement of (or the permitting or prohibiting of) pregnancies…”

Trust Women: A Progressive Christian Argument for Reproductive Justice (p. 118)

In this season at least, my partner and I know for certain that foster care adoption is what we are called to do. So ask me about it, but don’t try to talk me out of it. If you want to know why we decided to adopt, just ask! You might be surprised to learn that a lack of desire to birth a child is not our primary motivation to do this work. Our story is no secret.

With no ill intent to ostracize anyone struggling with infertility, we proudly shout from the rooftops that adoption is our “Plan A” because we are so passionate about it and the good it can do for children and society. I believe it is my calling in life to mother in this way, and my mission to share this path with others so they can decide if it is right for them. But if it isn’t? You do you. What’s more important is that you can validate and honor my family as legitimate, whole, worthy, loving, “mine,” and equal to yours. In turn, I promise to do the same for you.

Peters later writes:

…discerning who God is calling you to be is ultimately a process between and individual and God. A willingness to accept one’s calling is an expression of honoring God and resting the holiness of life that is at the heart of living life as a Christian. Christians regard parenting as a sacred trust in which parents enter a covenant relationship to care for, nurture, and bring up a child to love and know God. It is not a responsibility to be taken lightly…”

Trust Women: A Progressive Christian Argument for Reproductive Justice (p. 174)

God calls us in different and unique ways, and each of our journeys is for us alone to walk with Him. The best thing we can do as women, without judgment or preconceived notions, without assigning value or lack thereof, is to be a listening ear and to hold the hearts of our sisters in our own, praying for them the same kind of close, purposeful walk with God we hope for ourselves.

So whether you’re child-free and loving it, saving money for a round of IVF in hopes of birthing a biological child, nervously asking a friend to be a surrogate or donor, trudging through paperwork to get your foster care license, pursuing adoption of a teenager or waiting to be matched with a birth mother so you can adopt an infant, there is space for your story here.

I have come to this:

just as the infertile woman should not have to justify why she desires to birth,

so too should the fertile woman not have to justify why she doesn’t,

so too should the wombless woman not have to justify her motherhood,

so too should the childless woman not have to justify her womanhood.

I know that it’s impossible to capture every part of a woman’s journey with her body, her fertility, her motherhood, her womanhood, in one little blog post. But I want all of us to know: your status as mother (or not yet, or not ever) may be integral to who you are as a woman, but it is not ALL of who you are as a woman, and our womanhood is not contingent on motherhood or anything else.

You are whole, real, and complete to God, and to me, and in this space, exactly as you are.