Breaking the blog drought

So I’m back to break the blog post drought. I have been so very busy lately; taking care of my family and writing which takes up pretty much my whole life (happily).

 

So here’s a snippet of what is new in my world:

  • I’ve been asked to write another article for a parenting website, this time it’s international.
  • I’ve been working on my first attempt at writing a novel, totally loving every minute!
  • My book, ‘Little Miracle’ has been selling so well that I’m thinking there may be a re-print in it’s future (fingers crossed!)
  • I have two new non-profit book projects coming up which are top secret at the moment. I cannot wait to share them with you. 

 

Why am I telling you this? Because if you can recall I promised myself that after surviving HELLP syndrome along with overcoming (most of) the trials and tribulations that a premature baby brings, I was going to give my dreams a go. I wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember although because of fear, I often bolstered off into the opposite direction. I now feel I happily own my writing style and I’m growing my confidence each time I write something new. 

 

I hope you too can see progress with whatever you’re wanting most from life right now. 

 

 

 

 

A NICU family on auto-pilot

I found this little piece of writing when I was looking for something else on my laptop… I thought I would share as a few women have been writing to me lately (brought on by the release of my children’s book, ‘Little Miracle’). They have been telling me how they relate to me, specifically my experience of having a premature baby and HELLP syndrome. Anyway, this is what I found, something I wrote a while ago about life with a baby in NICU. I think most who have had a premature baby or sick child could relate..

 

Meeting my little one for the first time was a powerful and humbling moment. I cannot liken it to any other feeling I have ever experienced. It was a much different way of meeting your child, nothing like the beautiful night I met my first daughter. Both experiences were unique in themselves. Being wheeled up to see my baby for the first time was an anxious, ‘paused in time’ kind of moment. Mixed emotions were everywhere and tears were imminent, yet I tried my best to keep myself in check. When I laid eyes on our tiny bundle of love, it was like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. She was alive, breathing (with help) but she was ALIVE, all 1,044 grams of her. It was almost like an instant (distant) connection had formed between us as she opened her tiny eyes with the sound of my voice. I called her ‘sweetheart’. I could not believe what I was seeing. Her little head was no bigger than a tennis ball. Her hands and feet, well, they were incredibly small. As I stared lovingly at our precious daughter, I pondered how ever could I be so lucky to have her in my life. She was incredible, how does one earn the right to be given such a beautiful angel? Being day one, I did not once think of ‘what next’, I was simply in love, in the moment and so very happy. Day three was another story; this was the day I realised that I was going to be leaving my little one and heading home; over 100km away.

So another couple of days passed and it was time for me to go home. I had not even held my little girl yet as she was still very fragile. The day my husband came to collect me and I said goodbye to our little girl was so difficult, I have no words to describe the feelings I had. I was not emotional in the hospital, but as I stepped out onto the street I felt my world crumble down around me. I was really going, I was really leaving my new baby behind. Ask any sick child’s parent, it is incredibly hard. The tears flowed freely at any whim until we reached home where I showered and rested; ready for the next stage of our journey. I must admit, it was nice to be home yet normality had not been reinstated; this was just the beginning.

Every two days, every two days ….

Visiting my little girl became a ritual. Each day I would spend hours pumping milk and placing it in small jars. Morning, noon and night, this was my job; the one thing I could contribute to my daughters care. Every second day after my husband would finish work in the afternoons, we would drive to Melbourne to deliver milk and of course spend time with our precious girl. The more times we drove that freeway, the more monotonous the trips became (and the unhealthier we become from all of the take away dinners). We would spend two hours with her then drive the same, tough road home. Tough not only because of the monotony, it was emotionally draining too. Sometimes we would have teary drives home, sometimes we would be okay, stone faced, but okay. I always heard people use the term ‘auto-pilot’, now I know exactly what that means as we lived it every day. 

 

It actually feels good to look back on this time and remember how strong we became as a family. These kinds of situations can either make or break a couple and it really did make us. There’s not much we can’t face as a family now. 

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‘All kids with red hair get picked on you know’

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My little one has a physical difference that in time we may have fixed with surgery. It’s not obvious, and even if it was, should it really matter?

I touched on this topic a little while ago in my blog post, ‘How to avoid the chocolate baby experience’

That was when this had been at the forefront of my mind, the topic of physical difference. I have known children that have been subjected to snide comments and unintended yet hurtful remarks for years, just because of how they look. Only days ago, a good friend of mine announced to me that her daughters first day at school was marred by such a comment, ‘all kids with red hair get picked on you know’. Now, I might be naive however, I was shocked to hear this as to me, the colour of your hair doesn’t define anything about you. In fact, I know plenty of successful people with red hair! I do wonder if and how taunts over the years affected them. 

So what about the children that have physical differences that you cannot ‘mask’ with hair dye. Not that you’d want to dye your child’s hair. There’s better, more effective ways to fight against bullies!

What about these kids?

Are they just supposed to go on through life hearing those taunts, letting each remark forever chip away at their self-esteem? How is this fair?

Or shall we, as parents, and as people, do something about it? Acceptance doesn’t cost a thing and it’s not a difficult attribute to teach a child. I hear all of the time, mothers saying that their child would never pick on their peers and how they’ve already ‘- taught their children right from wrong’. You know what though, parenthood is a work in progress.. We roll with the punches all day long, there’s no ‘finish line’ or box to tick as we instill each moral. We’re never done. I don’t know about you but I plan to be a mother for life

So back to my friend’s beautiful daughter. She is a free-spirited and intelligent young girl who knows that having red hair will never stand in her way. The reason she was able to overcome that day, is because she has a kind heart along with an open and free-thinking family who do not judge others. They’re honestly one of the kindest families I have ever met.

Will this little girl be bullied in the future?

Probably yes… And not just because of the colour of her hair.

I am hopeful that coupled with the assurance she receives from her parents and from the others that love her, along with her own sense of value within herself, bullies will only leave a tiny print on that already flourishing spirit of hers. Then someday, somehow, all of that will wash away and she’ll still be able to shine like she deserves.

Soon, I’ll be commencing a big campaign with a new team of people. It will be in honour of all children who have to walk through this world with a physical difference. I want these kids to never feel like they have to hide away as we all have something to contribute in this world.

One last note…I walked past a boy yesterday who would have been about 15 years old. He had what appeared to be a very large birthmark covering half his face. I can only imagine the taunts he has received in his life. Yet, what if he was the boy that would go on to cure a cancer? 

My top 10 tips – Embarking on the local adoption and permanent care journey

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Local adoption and permanent care in Australia is like a maze. There is plenty of information available however, brick walls galore! Because I’ve spent time on the ‘inside’, I feel I have some tips to share if you’re about to embark on this journey. Here are my top 10 tips if you’re just starting out.

 

1. MAKING THAT FIRST CALL CAN BE DIFFICULT

Make contact with your relevant state organisation. For us, it was as simple as making a call to our local Department of Human Services office. I was very nervous and concerned… ‘What if we wouldn’t make the cut?’ I couldn’t have handled a ‘no’ as we were desperate to have a second child join our family.

2. ASK MANY QUESTIONS

Request more information and ask as many questions as you can. I guarantee you’ll come away from your initial call with a lot of your concerns not addressed. Do not not be shy, no question is off limits and it won’t impact your future chances of raising an adopted or permanent care child. This entire process is destined to change your life so it’s best you’re fully informed of all relevant information that you need to know. 

3.  INFORMATION SESSIONS ARE BRIEF BUT NECESSARY

Once you are armed with a general outline of information about both adoption and permanent care, attend information sessions in your state. There you will meet other couples/individuals in your situation and you’ll also gain a broader understanding of the process. 

4. DO NOT RULE OUT PERMANENT CARE!

The concept of this may alarm you to begin with however, I really felt that I didn’t fully understand it enough until we reached training. It’s just another way of bringing a child into your loving family. 

5. TRAINING IS NOT AS DAUNTING AS YOU THINK

If you’re still interested after your information sessions, go forth and make a commitment to training. We attended local infant adoption training and permanent care training. Both were incredibly comprehensive and we learned so much. What I found particularly interesting was it broadened my knowledge of why people relinquish or lose custody of their children. It’s not always for the reasons you first imagine.

6. KEEP A JOURNAL

Throughout your entire journey I suggest you keep a diary of some kind. Talk about the process, how you feel and where you’re at. There are so many things you’ll forget along the way (if you’re anything like us!) I wish I had kept some kind of record of our process. 

7. BE PREPARED TO WAIT

It took us three years in total to go through our application process, approval and wait time. Although we did not end up adopting due to my surprise pregnancy, we were still offered the chance to consider a child. However, the rules say we could not adopt at that time due to my pregnancy. We didn’t expect to have another baby naturally. 

8. DON’T DISCRIMINATE AGAINST YOURSELF

Whether you’re in your 40′s trying to adopt or whether you’ve already got children and wanting to add to your family, do not feel that you are not worthy. Many of us, including my husband and I, felt discriminated against during training. However, on closer inspection I realised it was actually me doing all of the discriminating. You see, we would sit in a room full of childless couples and here we were, already with one biological child, trying to adopt a second. I felt so selfish for sometime however, those feelings were not right. There are children out there who would have been better suited to us due to the fact that we had already established a family and their a little ones out there who would have been the perfect fit for a childless couple.

Another common discrimination that people put upon themselves is their health status. Ask the necessary questions before making your own judgement as you might be surprised.

9. BE OPEN

Imagine this. You’re desperate for a baby however, have you considered a four year old? Or, you’re dreaming of having a little girl, have you considered giving all that love to an equally deserving little boy? If you come into the adoption and permanent care world with one objective and with no wiggle room, you’re not giving yourself enough credit. Chances are you’d make an awesome parent in any of these situations because you’re considering providing a forever home to a child that hasn’t quite found that yet. 

10. MORE ON THAT DREADED WAIT...

There’s no ‘list’ like some imagine where you’re ticked of as they work down the list of prospective parents. A child is matched to potential parents and potential parents are matched with the child. That’s why the worker assigned to you will ask you so many questions. What I remember most is with every comment I made, it swiftly was accompanied with ‘why?’

‘Why do you feel that way?’

‘Why do you think that is your view?’

‘Why, why, why, WHY?!’

So be prepared to answer their questions. Be confident with your answers and most of all, be honest. You’re getting matched remember, you’re not trying to seek approval. 

 

Good luck to all who decide to embark on the local adoption and permanent care journey. Stay tuned as I’m going to talk more about this topic if that is what you want. I have a ton of information and advice!