Monday, November 28, 2016

Baby Steps to Healing

Today I am writing about why our family has so much to be thankful for.  This past Thanksgiving season our L made some positive steps in her healing.  We actually saw some real, true, tangible change in her and my heart is overflowing.

We still have a very long way to go, she still is fearful of my love, but she has made some baby steps in her healing and for that I am truly grateful.

I am also grateful for all my friends and family who are praying for us and who have been there for us during this very trying time.

We love our L and hope and pray that one day I will be able to write her story of complete healing.

Last night she even let us get a family picture without complaint.







May everyone have a beautiful and happy Christmas season!

Lots of love,
Niki and Flavio 

Saturday, October 8, 2016

A RAD child is NOT like a healthy "hard" child...I promise.

I have four children.  Four beautiful little souls given to me in this life to care for and protect.

However, in our house, one of the biggest threats I have to protect my children and myself from is our second child, because she has RAD.

When I talk about our L and what she does (and I don't talk about the worst of it on this blog) people are quick to compare their hard child (most of us have one or two) with our L.

I will admit, this stings a little.

It is like comparing the flu with someone else's cancer.

Yes, both are miserable and both are hard to go through...but everyone would admit that one is definitely worse than the other.  One can last months or even years, while the other lasts a week or two and the one is more life threatening than the other.

Now, I am not talking about kids with other forms of mental health issues, as mental health issues vary just as much as cancer does...cancer is cancer while mental health is mental health.  There are of course categories within cancer and mental health, but I'm not here to focus on that.

I just need people to understand that we truly do live in a war zone each and every day.

I want you to get a view into what our everyday life is like without disclosing too much as we, RAD parents, have so many haters out there that should be on our side but aren't.

I'll just go with our night last night until this morning...not even a full day.

8:00 PM we put our kids to bed.  Flavio has to take care of L because if I do, she flips. ( I want more than anything to love on her and tuck her in)  She takes my love and sabotages it. Every. Single. Time.

8:15 PM L is up running around her room, perched on her window sill and scraping off the drywall and eating it.  Her light is on again and she is wide awake.  We ignore it.

8:30 PM L is now running around her room hitting the walls, jumping on and off her mattress and laughing really loud.

8:35 PM Flavio tells her to go to bed and turn off her light.

8:45 PM she is still running around.  We ignore it.

9:30 PM she is making more noise and using her mattress as a noise maker (picking it up and dropping it on the floor)

9:40 PM Flavio takes her mattress out and tells her she can have it back when she calms down.  She screams and starts hitting Flavio.

11:00 PM Lia is still awake, her light on and she is still being loud (our kids are used to this by now so they sleep through it most nights)

11:30 PM Flavio and I go to bed, Lia is still awake.

7:00 AM Lia's light it still on and she is still up and is very tired now.

7:15 AM Lia starts to kick the door so hard it sounds like it might break.  She is screaming at us telling us that we hate her and the we don't care about her.  Flavio has to put her in a safe hold.  She screams at him for 30 minutes and then finally calms down.  He is exhausted.

(RAD kids go into what they describe at LSD strength...she is stronger than I could have ever imagined and it takes ALL of me to keep her from hurting herself or others)

8:15 AM L is finally calm we go to take her breakfast (some mornings if she doesn't like it, she throws it at us) but this morning she started to rage again...Flavio has to put her into her second hold.)

9:15 AM L is calm again and has actually fallen asleep.

10:10 AM We all have been able to finally breathe again....

This is our life...she is almost 8, she isn't 3.  She has been this way for 6 years now.  L isn't like any healthy child, I have three healthy children who range from hard to  pretty easy.  What we go through with L doesn't even compare even a little bit with my other children's hard.

(I do want to add that I am not trying to say that raising healthy "hard" children isn't hard...I still get upset and frustrated with my other children almost every day.)

When you have a child with mental health issues,  you are in a war zone every single day.  You walk on eggshells, worried about the next attack, worried for her, worried for your other children, worried we'll always have to protect ourselves from her...

RAD children don't get easier as they get older...they get harder.  They are bigger, stronger, wiser, and even more manipulative.

Lots of love,
Niki and Flavio

Friday, September 16, 2016

Miracles


"Sometimes all you can do is NOT think, NOT wonder, 
NOT imagine, NOT obsess.
Just BREATH and have FAITH because 
MIRACLES do happen." -unknown

It seems to me that so many of my posts are about how hard life can be and not enough about the beautiful moments happening all around us.  I feel there are times in our life where we can feel like we are suffocating from the pain...but I am slowly seeing that even then, MIRACLES are happening.

There truly are times of our lives where we are put into the darkness so that we can ultimately find the light and be grateful for it.  I feel we are sometimes asked to do things that don't seem fair or even possible.  We are asked to go to a place of deep hurt and struggle and I believe we are sometimes left there to fight on our own, even if for a moment.

When we are in these places of darkness and hopelessness, what are we to do?  Where are we to turn?  If there was only a way?  Oh, but there is...it may not be easy but just try to remember this:

"It is NOT possible for you to 
sink lower than the infinite LIGHT of
CHRIST'S ATONEMENT shines."  
-Jeffery R Holland

Our Savior and Redeemer has already been there for us.  He has passed through all of our sins and all of our pain so that we may lean on Him in the darkness of our terrible nights. 

He is our star in the night, our sun that rises, our LIGHT in our deep dark nothingness. 

I will tell you though, coming to this knowledge during our time with L has been a long and difficult road.  And some days I feel like I am crying out and no one is listening.  It ultimately takes practice and FAITH.

But as I have worked at it by studying my scriptures and praying (ALWAYS) and really focusing on those commandments and sins I struggle with, my eyes have been opened to see that truly God and our Lord and Savior are ALWAYS WITH US. 

There are MIRACLES all around us.  Each and every day.

Over the course of one week I have seen the hand of GOD in my life.  With the goodness of our L's school directors to the seemingly worldly task of finishing our basement, we have been truly blessed with MIRACLES. I want to share a post I made for my other RAD families on FB:

-In working with L's therapist and school to help our L improve, we have started to build a new and smaller room for L in our basement. We basically cut a room in half, making it a pretty small space. (having DCFS called on RAD parents because of their therapy is common so we are always fearful of opening up about this unique therapy) (So) In creating this room, I started to be concerned about our contractor and the inspector and how they might react. I prayed about it and felt I just needed to be honest and open with the contractors.  They have been amazing and have done their best to work with us without judgment. I was then worried about the inspection, I prayed again and was hopeful that everything would go well, and to our relief it did. In fact a beautiful miracle happened, as our contractor explained to the inspector that we had a child with special needs and a smaller room will help her heal, the inspector said he understood completely, as he had to do the same thing for his daughter with schizophrenia!  The inspector passed our inspection without question and we can now move forward without fear.  Miracles happen around us all the time.  God does know and love us. 

While our L continues to dig her heals in, Flavio and I will keep hoping and praying for the miracle of our L's healing.  We know along the way we have been helped by family, friends, and even those who are new to our lives.  I want to thank all of you who have been understanding and loving during this time for our family.  

If you are PRAYING about it.

GOD is WORKING on it.


Lots of love,
Niki

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Opinions Stink

The other day I read an article where the author slammed any parent that thought their child had Reactive Attachment Disorder.  She felt strongly that a child could never have a tendency to kill or hurt anyone maliciously.  That children will always be healed with love and that the parents who claim RAD aren't capable of loving said children.

It took all of my strength NOT to hit reply.  I wanted to share my entire story with this woman, convince her of how wrong she was and that we had done nothing but love and find the best help for our L.  I wanted her to see the hell we live in each day as we deal with the ramifications of having a child who does indeed have RAD.  I wanted her to see the pain I feel each and every day that I don't get to see my second child meet those milestones we often take for granted with our healthy children. I wanted to make her see how much I do love my L, so much so that I have given up friendships, my way of life, parts of my home, so much of my time, my energy, even my health for this beautiful child.

As I went to type my scolding remarks, I realized quickly and thankfully that I didn't even know this woman, I didn't know her background or her life story.  I didn't know enough about her to convince her of my story.  I saw clearly that all she was writing was her opinion, and so many of the replies agreed with her.  We were all bad parents in their eyes.  We were evil and didn't even deserve to live. Had she ever lived with or raised a child with RAD?  No.  Had she seen the real struggle it is to do so?  No.

So how was I going to convince her that her opinion of me was wrong?  What power did I have to show her the truth of what trauma can do to a child?  In the end, none.

I have found that once someone has made an opinion of someone or something, it is very hard to change that opinion.

As the human race we are riddled with opinions, we have opinions about politics, movies, food, art, education, health, breast feeding, bottle feeding, religion, vaccines, abortion, civil rights, immigration, adoption, government, wars, childcare, working mothers, stay-at-home mothers, IVF, movie ratings, gay rights...well, you get my point.  Everyone everywhere has an opinion about everything.

Now some of these items have a strong moral pull...but in the end, it is still just an opinion.  You may have a conviction from whatever religious background you come from, but still, to the world it is just your opinion.

To try and change someone's opinion is like trying to get two magnets to stick with their polarity being the same, north on north or south on south.  You can't do it.

In my opinion, only God and personal experience can help change someone's heart and mind, and in the end their opinion.

I guess this is why I am so open about our life with RAD, wonder if all you wonderful friends and family read the articles of those who state so blatantly that RAD does not exist, that RAD is not real and that the parents who say their child has RAD are unloving, cruel parents?  I think my circle of help would be a lot smaller.  But because of your opinion of me is overall good...and because I have taught you all the realities of this horrific disorder your opinion of it is accepting.

Opinion can be based off of truth or error.  So I am choosing to help share the truth about RAD to gain accepting opinions so in the end my L and many others like her will be more able to get the right kind of help.

The fact that my child has RAD is not an opinion to me.  It is my truth.  Just as God is my truth, Jesus is my truth, and the Holy Ghost is my truth.  But to some, these will only be my opinions, because they haven't found that truth out for themselves.  Just as that woman who wrote the article, and many others who have tried to say that RAD isn't real, she and they haven't found out for themselves my truth.

In my opinion the only way we can get past our own false judgement of what someone else is going through and thinking we would do so much better, is by truly and sincerely praying for that person or in the end going through it ourselves.

I think the world would be so much better if we stopped placing so much stalk in our personal judgements and opinions.  You are no better than your enemy.  God loves you both the same.  But if your enemy doesn't hold the same hurtful feelings for you, who is really in the wrong?

Let's get past our opinions and try to understand each other better.  Let's stop judging others harshly because we think we would live their story better.

Let's live truthfully and not self-righteously or bitterly.  

Opinions stink.



They are our own image of what is right and wrong, they are not the true stories of those whom we are judging. Let's stop shaming others just because they have a different truth, set of values, or background.

You can stand up for your beliefs without putting others down. 

“If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can't survive.” 
― BrenĂ© Brown

Lots of love,
Niki







Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Silence of RAD

Its been a very hard few days in our home.  L has been raging more often and creating more chaos than normal.  Most days the noise and chaos of RAD can be overwhelming to those living with it.

The only problem is, our family can't share some of the hardest moments we endure...because of the way it would look to the world around us.

We live under the silence of RAD.

I've talked to so many people who have lived their own types of hell.  They've lost their mother, their father, their sister, or brother.  They've lost a child or spouse from sickness or a terrible accident.

I've talked to people who have recovered or are recovering from drugs or alcohol.  People who have lost homes, or spouses have cheated and caused abuse and broken up their family.  There are people who live with unending health problems or pain or the longing desire to have a child (I live with these as well).  There are people who don't have enough money to pay for their child's needs or wants.

The list of trials in this life is unending.

This life we live is messy and painful.  It is heart-wrenching and overwhelming at times.  It so often brings us to our knees in fear and hurt.

Sometimes we just don't know how much more we can handle before we break.

We all suffer, we all endure pain.  It's just that sometimes that pain goes un-noticed.

The problem of living with a child who may not be sick in body but in mind is, so few seem to understand.  So few can see the toll it takes and most wonder why we seem downtrodden or sad most days.  I know so many moms in my little mental health world who happen to be some of the strongest and most loving moms I've even encountered.  Their quiet strength and struggle is real, it's hard, it's painful, it's fearful and most days hopeless.  I've seen those same mothers not have the support of a husband, mother, or best friend.  I've seen those mothers cry in desperation over something even the professionals don't seem to want to understand.

The silence of mental health problems kills over 17 million people each year.  And yet, we call them weak and selfish.  It's unspeakable and taboo.

As I have watched so many go through the various trials of this earth, I have also seen amazing outreach to them.  The kind of empathy they receive is full of love and from the heart.  Their financial needs are met, they are given meals and help for their home.  People send cards and flowers.  They are given awards and praise for their endurance and faith.  Their courage astounds many and they are only loved more for their pain.

This is how it should be when anyone suffers...giving love and empathy without judgement.

This, however for the most part, is not the case for mothers of RAD children.

Our pain and dark moments happen in the seclusion of our home.  No one sees it or hears it.  No one can fathom that a child, as young as three could be a source of hurt and constant stress to her family. No one can come close to understanding the constant pain a five year old can cause their mother because of how cruelly they treat her.  No one can truly empathize with the mom who has to hold her child down for over an hour at a time so the child isn't a danger to herself or others as she writhes like a wild animal, screaming how much she hates her mother and tries to physically hurt her  No one can even think to believe that a seven year old spits on her mother and calls her dirty names, leaves bruises over her mother's legs from kicking her, and draws blood from pinching and scratching her arms.

How can this even be possible, so many question?  After all, Christ wants us to become like a little child.  They are perfect and full of love and forgiveness.  People so often think, "It must be that they are bad parents or maybe abusive."  They think, "I would never do that, or I would never allow it.  I would do it better than them all with a smile on my face."

In the end we are seen as weak and sometimes abusive.  We gain empathy from so few (and you few mean the absolute world to us).  We question our every move out in the world and worry how we will survive this every day battle without having social services called on us.

No one can know to come to our rescue when L is hurting us with words and punches.  There are no cards or flowers of sympathy.  There are no fundraisers for her expensive therapy or offers to help us in our home. Most people avoid us and brush us off as crazy or too emotional or in the end just don't know what to do.

Parents of RAD children suffer in a bitter silence most days.

Our world is too strange and sometimes unbelievable to those even in our inner circle.  Our hearts break daily with the unknowns.  We fear social engagements; we fear questions and false judgement. We fear our every move as we are in constant offensive or defensive mode, trying to outsmart our beautiful and very intelligent RAD children.  We are exhausted and stressed daily with the worry of what RAD will do to our children's future.  Will they get better or will they get worse?  Will we lose our L forever because of the life she will live?  Will she hurt my other children or someone else's? Will she never know love?

She is seven and she tells me almost daily she wants to die.  She talks freely of hurting me and how she would rather me be dead than be her mom.  My hell is the worry of whether she will do something about her threats.  My pain is knowing that if a knife goes missing, I have to assume it's her.  My anguish is missing out on having a child who can feel love and give it back.

L has never felt the joy and fun of being a child.  She has never known how to love or be loved.  My L suffers just like any child with a debilitating sickness suffers.  Her life has been nothing but a show to those around her.  It is here, in our home, she can be herself.  Here in her home, she writhes and fights against those who love her most.  Here in our home, where the cries of a mother and father pleading for her healing can be heard.  Here in our home, is where we feel and endure the most pain.

The silence of RAD has become my everlasting companion.  It has become my story.  It has become my life.

"A deep sense of love and belonging is an irreducible need of all people. We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong. When those needs are not met, we don't function as we were meant to. We break. We fall apart. We numb. We ache. We hurt others. We get sick." 
Brene Brown

Our daughter suffers and so do we...EVERY.  SINGLE.  DAY.  It never goes away, we never get to grieve we never get a break...this is our life.  This is our misery and growth. 

"Vulnerability is about showing up and being seen. It's tough to do that when we're terrified about what people might see or think." 
Brene Brown
I'm trying to show up.  I'm trying to educate.  I'm trying to not be hurt by those who judge me harshly or brush me off because of my trials.  I'm trying to live my story and I pray we can all see the pain of mental health and be more helpful and loving towards people and families who live with it in silence.  

Having a sick brain does not make you weak, it makes you sick.  And every sickness deserves love and attention.

Lots of love,
Niki




Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Sometimes Doing What's Right For Someone is Painful

Have you ever had to do something that you knew would be SO hard and yet you knew it was what was best?

Have you ever had to go against everything you believe and do something because for that one person it was right?

Our L doesn't like to be with her mom.  Which of course is me.

This has slowly sunk in and I am now starting to understand her a little better.

The idea that a child can for no other reason than knowing that their mother exists dislike their mother seems to go against everything I have ever been taught both religiously and temporally.

Children come out wanting love.  They find those persons they can latch onto and trust and then love begins.

Not my L.  Not any child born with trauma.  Not any child who comes into the world neglected and unloved.  These children look at the world completely different then you and I do.

Getting to understand how she thinks has been one of the hardest aspects of my part in her therapy.  I just can't wrap my brain around the fact that she indeed trusts no one.  Not mom, not dad, not grandma, or grandpa, not sister, not brother, not even God.

The only person in this world she trusts......is herself.

Therefore she think she needs to be in total control of herself at all times.

When I hug or kiss her...she isn't in control of that feeling....however she can control anger, stealing, lying, hurting others, yelling, breaking toys or furniture, crying, throwing a tantrum, peeing in her pants or on the carpet, speaking rudely to mom, dad, our nanny, and her therapist...these are things she can control.  All of us can.

But can we control who we love or who loves us?

No.

And this scares her to death.  She has no say in this strong feeling and so she is scared of it.  So scared, that the one person who has shown her the most love, me, is her mortal enemy.  She in fact, would rather me be dead than give her the love that I so desperately want to give her.

Her entire world is turned upside down and the only way to make her want to turn that world around is to make her world so small that she can feel safe at last and hopefully want to trust me.

In this small world of hers, going out or going somewhere is like taking a child who has cancer and pumping them full of sugar water for their last chemo treatment.  It is actually damaging to the child. Her overactive senses can't trust anything or anyone and so she goes into manipulation or control mode.  You, the outside world, may not see her rage or her anxiety...but it is there waiting to attack the one person who loves her the most....in most cases,  mom. She moves into fight or flight mode and stays there until she can get back to what she knows, her room.  And that's when her rage comes out.

With all of this in mind, we have three other children who live with this, who have seen the worst L has done.  They know her raging fits and have been at the harsh end of her hurtful words and sometimes fists.  They too have suffered as we have struggled to work with L and rarely get a break when we travel with her.  And because of her fear, her anxiety, her rage, traveling with L is a nightmare for everyone, including L.  Thus, we have been asked by our therapist and L's school to travel without her.

When I heard this seemingly backwards idea, I cried.   I cried because it went against everything I knew to be true.  We are a family.  We should be together...always.

They assured me that it was what was best for L and that our children deserved a break as well.

So we tried it.  We went to St. George without our L.  She was here with our amazingly wonderful nanny, who is trained to work with RAD children.  It was a hard trip for me.  Hard because I didn't feel complete and hard because we had such a nice and relaxing time without her.

I felt like the worst mom in the world for enjoying myself.

When we got home, I went into her room, expecting her to run to me in tears of anger or sadness for leaving her there.  She looked at me, I asked for a hug, she casually came over and hugged me as she always does, what I call her dead fish hugs, no embrace (I've never been embraced by her) she simply just puts her arms around me so I can barely feel her.  She then started crying...I immediately asked her what was wrong, knowing that she was going to say, I missed you! Don't leave me again!  How could you do that to me?  But instead she simply said, her nanny had put her in time out that day and she was upset about it.

I was stunned.  I asked her how her week was, she thought about it and said, it was fine, other than being put in time out.

I didn't know what to say.  I was in shock.

She hadn't missed us one ounce.

In fact she had done great!  Her nanny said she had only had a few issues but none were about us.

She hadn't missed at all.  Not one bit.

The reason I am writing this, is, you will be seeing us on vacations now without our L.  And before you jump to the conclusion that we don't love her please know that leaving her is what is best for her and her therapy.

We love her so much we are willing to do what is unpopular and hard in order to help her and our other children heal.

Lots of love,
Niki




Thursday, April 14, 2016

To My Future Self

The last few days have been down right hard.  The kind of hard where you question everything you are doing and why you are even trying to do anything at all.

I found myself at the front of a violent and emotional RAD episode with my L yesterday and the night before.  I was brought to my most vulnerable self awareness as she told me how much she hates me, how I'm not even her mom, how she never wants to listen to me again, how horrible of a person I am, that I don't love her, and how mean I really am.  She hit and pinched me, screamed at me and stomped on the floor, hit the walls with her little fists and had my two youngest running for cover.

I cried as soon as I dropped her off at school.  I cried like a baby out of the loss of knowing what to do.  I cried all the way home because her words really do and truly hurt me.  I cried because I saw how scared my two babies were in that moment of not knowing whether she would hurt them too.  I cried because my sweet little girl doesn't like me, she never has.  In fact, she thinks she hates me.

It was a dark and hard day for me.  Not because this was the first time this has happened and I was in shock over it, but because it was the 500th time this has happened and I am starting to believe her.

I have known too many beautiful women in my life who have suffered emotional, physical, and even sexual abuse from their spouse.  When you live with someone who treats you abusively, no matter who it is, a parent, a spouse, or in this case, even a child, you start to believe their words.

It has been a year now since we found the right diagnosis for our L.  It has been a year of me trying to heal from the idea that it wasn't ALL my fault she was this way.  A year of me trying to convince myself and others that I'm not crazy and that I didn't make it all up.

Out of desperation I knew I had to get out last night.  I had to leave so I wasn't in her path of hurt. She always does so much better when I, her nurturing enemy, isn't around.  So this was for her too.

I decided to take my E out for her birthday date.  I started dating my children long before we knew L had RAD.  I could see how much each day of living with RAD was taking out of all of us as we worked through L's rage and hurtful words to me, to them, and to our family.

It was a win, win, win for all of us.  Now it is a tradition once they turn four, each birthday my children get a date with me.  If they do well on their grades, they get a date with me.  I can't wait for the day when L wants to go out on a date with me. Until then, this is my and my other children's respite time from the chaos.

E and I went and got the food of her choice, went to a hotel, sat in bed together and watched a disney show.  She swam in the rain at the hotel's hot tub, we each got a cookie and we snuggled.



Every minute or so, E would look at me and tell me how awesome I am.  She would say this is the best night ever and how much she loved me and how much she loved snuggling with me.  She probably told me all those things at least 20 times.

My E reminded me that maybe I wasn't all that bad.  Maybe I really am a good mom and that everything L says is truly out of fear.  Fear of the unknown in her little mind.  Fear of not truly understanding what love feels like.  Fear of getting too close...even though I know she wants to.

To my future self, when someone hurts you, no matter who it is, take control and do something that helps you love yourself again.  Take control and pray.  Take control and serve someone else.  To my future self, you are in control of you and only you...take great care of that.

Lots of love,
Niki


Sunday, March 20, 2016

I Have No Chance

It has been awhile since I covered our infertility journey.   So much of our life is overwhelmed in our journey with Reactive Attachment Disorder that I tend to gloss over something that has been a true villain in my life for many years.  The villain's name?

Endometriosis.

March happens to be Endometriosis month.

Many may ask, what exactly is Endometriosis?

It's just pain right?



The answer is actually quite longer than that.  But yes, it causes pain, sometimes severe pain.  It also causes infertility, fatigue, and like in my case can actually cause major damage to a woman's reproductive organs.

Now I'm 37, I'm no spring chicken when it comes to carrying a baby for nine months.  I have some beautiful friends who have rocked pregnancy in their near 40's and I have been overwhelmed with joy in seeing these adorable babies posted all over my Instagram and Facebook.

I truly am so happy for these amazing women in my life and this beautiful journey they get to ride.



Three wonderful years ago we adopted our son.  He truly has been the best little miracle to end our infertility journey.  I thought I knew I was done trying for more children when we adopted him.  We had our hands full with four kids, a child with a severe behavioral disorder, my husband's career, no family around to help us, church callings, my migraines, and dealing with the everyday highs and lows life brings us.

I thought I knew I was done having children.

Now our way of having children isn't exactly fun.  I honestly have no idea what it feels like to use the beautiful power God gave us to create one of these amazing creatures.  I have never had the privilege of finding out I was pregnant before anyone knew we were even trying and surprising anyone with the wonderful news.  I have dreamed of miracles and I have actually dreamed of the idea of surprising my sweet husband one day that we were able to conceive a sweet baby on our own.  I've thought of the ways in which I would tell him, and how we would then tell our family and friends.

But almost four weeks ago that chance was taken away from me permanently.

All because of my Endometriosis.

And at that moment, I found myself questioning if I truly was done having more children.

A year and a half ago, I was getting ready for bed when my abdomen started killing me.  I was in so much pain, I thought I was going to die, literally.  It was sudden and it was real and I knew it was serious.

Flavio took me to the ER late that night and after several hours of not knowing what was happening, they did emergency surgery.  They found so much endometriosis, the tissue had actually caused my right ovary to burst and I was bleeding internally.  This was when we knew for sure I did in fact have endometriosis.

Fast forward to February 28th of this year, I had driven to St. George with my two youngest to visit my parents.  The day was great, we had just left my parent's house to go back to where we were staying when all of a sudden my abdomen felt like something had just exploded inside me.  Once again, I thought I was going to die.  I thought to myself, no way was this happening...again.

It was.

I crawled on all fours getting my two babies into bed, and then found myself in a fetal position agonizing in severe pain.

Now because I am stubborn and wanted to wish and pray the pain away, I waited all night long, trying to find any sort of comfort.  It never got better.  I finally called my parents early the next morning.

Again, I found myself in the ER.

My pain was high...the kind of pain where death becomes a welcomed thought.  They did an ultra sound and a CT scan and still they had no idea why I was writhing in so much pain...once again, surgery became the answer.  However, this was the last thing I wanted to do.  I was without my husband, I had my two youngest with me, and worst of all we had a planned family trip to Disneyland the following week.

In the end, I didn't have a choice.  If I wanted relief and answers, I had to have the surgery.

I am so grateful I did.

Not only did it take the pain away, it apparently saved my life.

You see, my villain, endometriosis, had once again caused this.  Only this time instead of completely destroying my left ovary, it just tore it open and I was bleeding out internally.

When they went in, they had to cauterize the hole in the ovary to stop the bleeding and ended up taking out five cups of bright red blood that had spilled into my abdomen.

I would have bleed to death without the surgery.

Because they couldn't completely save my left ovary, it is now dying.  I am going into pre-menopause as we speak and any chance of me ever carrying another baby is gone.

I have no chance.

Making the decision with your husband and with God to not have more children is one thing, to have it taken from you is another.  We didn't have much of a chance anyway, but knowing that door is now shut and locked without my permission, has been incredibly harder than I thought.

In the end I want you to know that I thank my God for the four beautiful and relatively healthy babies I was gifted.  I know I have a beautiful family that I can share my life with forever.  I know that this too will pass and that life does and will go on.

I know that God has a plan for all of us.

He loves us.

He knows us.

For whatever reason we are given the trials we are given, He truly is there for us.  I have seen too many big and small miracles in my life to think otherwise.

Endometriosis is real.  It is painful and it just plain sucks.  If you or someone you know thinks they may have it...get help now.  It can happen to any woman at any stage while she has a period.  In my case I didn't know until it was too late.

Lots of love,
Niki


Here is a link that explains it in detail: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/endometriosis/basics/definition/con-20013968

Friday, January 29, 2016

Three Years Ago My Life Changed, part 3

As J's birthday approached I had been thinking of everything that happened in order for him to join our family.  I am overwhelmed every time I think of the gift we were given.

He was a gift.  Just as our L was a gift.

I have never placed a child into the arms of another mother to raise and be that child's mom.  I will not pretend to understand the grief that must bring and how I am sure that baby will be thought of each and every day for the rest of their life.

I didn't sleep very well the night we waited to have our son legally signed over to us.

We got dressed and headed over to the hospital.  I wasn't sure what to wear...something not too dressy to make me look stuffy and not too casual so She knew this was important.   My heart was full of love and panic.

Every move I made seemed crucial.  

I didn't want to do ANYTHING to cause her to change her mind.  

I knew she loved Flavio, he was the father she couldn't give him.  She beamed each time she looked at him.  J would have an amazing father and She knew it.

But I was replacing Her.  I was the one She would make sure would be the perfect fit, the perfect friend, cheerleader, teacher, helper, snuggler, and ultimately, the perfect mom for Her baby boy.

He was Hers.  And in Her mind and heart.....he always will be.

As things like this tend to go, we had to wait longer than expected.  Each tic of the clock brought more and more excitement and more and more fear.  She held him tight.  She cuddled him and spoke to him.  She had allowed us to name him and continued to call him her little Jared.

Tears were flowing from my eyes.  How could anyone do this for someone they hardly know?  How could she trust us to be the kind of parents this precious little soul deserved?

I will never know such courage.

The lawyers finally got the papers needed from the state and then it began.  

I sat on the edge of the little couch in Her room, watching as She went over the papers with the lawyer, who was so kind and gentle with her.



The process was very business-like, like She was selling us her car.  However, at the same time as I watched her sign each paper and answer every question my heart grew more and more in love with this woman.  She didn't look at me until the end and then she simply smiled.

With one signature he was ours.  Just like that.  He was no longer Hers.  Not legally, anyway. 

My face was covered in tears.  Again, I had no words.  All I could utter was, "Thank you."



We all hugged.  Grandma held him one last time.  We place him gently into his new carseat.

They walked with us out of the hospital, we hugged one more time, She blew a kiss to J and watched us get into the car....and stood there as we drove away with Her heart.

She had given us the gift we could not give ourselves....our son.  




“An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place, or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle, but it will never break." 
-An ancient Chinese belief




Lots of love,
Niki



















Thursday, January 28, 2016

Three Years Ago My Life Changed, part 2

I still remember walking into the hospital room about five hours after J was born.  I had never met J's birth-mom (although we had talked on the phone twice).

The room was bright and I could see a tiny baby laying in the hospital bassinet. 

He was so small.

I wasn't sure what to do next as he wasn't mine.  He was Hers.

I decided to first hug Her...and then I met Her mother.

Her mother was crying.

I thought quickly of how hard this all must be for this grandmother.

She did nothing wrong, she had only loved Her......and now him.

It made me worry a little as I wasn't sure if she would be able to let go.  I wanted to cry for her...but I pulled myself together and made my way over to him.

There he was.  Perfect all over.  I loved him from the moment I saw him.....and yet, I held back.

Do I pick him up?  Would She be okay with that?  I looked at Her and she asked if I would like to hold him.



I nodded, yes.

Flavio hadn't arrived yet.  We couldn't get on the same flight and so I spent several hours alone, thinking and praying.  We all waited in the room.  I held him, She held him, and grandma held him.  

I felt so out of place.

She was very nice to me.  We talked about random things, I don't remember what.  All the while inside I was pleading that this precious baby wouldn't stay with Her.  He was Hers but she had promised me that he would be mine.   I felt so selfish.  I wanted to love on him and cuddle him.  But She was there, watching.  She smiled at me a lot.  She called him Jared. 

 I held him gently and stroked his fuzzy head.  

I was falling deeply in love.



Flavio finally arrived and he met him.  I could tell Flavio was holding back but I could also see that he too, had fallen in love.  

Time passed slowly as we all sat in the room.  She took a lot of smoking breaks...so did her mom. 

Flavio and I just sat huddled together...not sure what to do or say most of the time.

We would have to wait another 24 hours to pass in order for him to be ours.

We went back to our hotel empty handed and we prayed all night that She wouldn't change her mind. 


Lots of love,
Niki


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Three Years Ago My Life Changed Forever...








Three years ago, today, I was sitting in a meeting for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, when I received a call that our birth-mother, who had chosen our family, had gone into labor.

Our journey to receive the gift of our son was nothing short of a miracle.

We had decided we were done having children after our E was born.

Parenting our L had become one of the hardest trials of our lives and I knew I was at the end of my rope.

Why in the world would we bring another little soul into what I considered a big, fat, chaotic mess?

I hated most days here on earth and felt like the world was coming in on me.  No one understood what we were dealing with and worst off, not many believed us.......not even our therapists.

But one day as I was sitting in church, listening to an amazing lesson about how we can better help our sons in this difficult world, I had an overwhelming feeling that I too had a son.

I literally laughed out loud.

See, for my husband and me to bring another soul into our family, we either have to go through the awful process of IVF (which is no guarantee of a baby and I had already done that 5 times) or adoption (in which I was TERRIFIED of at that point because I thought I was ruining our L).

So either way, I was not interested.

I pretty much said, it would have to be an act of God and left it at that.

However, not too long after, I felt it again and both my husband and I knew we needed to go for it.

And I will say...God truly has a sense of humor...as we both knew pretty quick that we needed to adopt this precious spirit.

Without getting into the detail, as so much of it is sacred to us...we followed that prompting.  And only three weeks after we were accepted by the adoption agency, miraculously, we were receiving the call that our birthmother was going into labor.

The emotions that went through me ranged from paralyzing fear to complete and total bliss.  We had prayed that our son would be healthy both in spirit and in body. His birthmother had done meth the first 5 months of her pregnancy, partied hard, lived in a garage with other meth users, had a horrible diet, and had chain smoked the entire pregnancy.

I squirmed in terror that he would be like just our L, but something inside said that he wouldn't but instead of listening to that comfort.....I continued with good deal of fear.

Fear of his physical and mental health and fear of whether or not we would be bringing him home.

I was all too painfully aware that his birth-mom could change her mind at any time during the adoption process.  I tried with all my heart NOT to get too excited...but of course, that was impossible.

I prayed CONSTANTLY that if she were to change her mind, she would change it before I could ever hold him.  I had known without a doubt that he was supposed to come to us as soon as I read the email about him, but I still questioned my feelings out of total protection of a broken heart.  See, I had lost three babies before we received our L and knew it was an honest and painful truth of the adoption process.

However, deep down I knew I was already in love.  A love that goes deeper than most loves.  A mother's love.  I already cared for his future.  I already knew I wanted to him to be mine.

Three years ago my life changed.  I didn't know at the time that the amazingly beautiful little boy that would grace our lives would truly be ours forever...but my heart was full and overflowing with hope.

Lots of love,
Niki