Saturday, April 25, 2009


Today was mostly a great day. Busy Saturday morning with errands as usual and then home by noon. Fixed lunch for the kids and made cookies for dessert tonite. We were having the kids godparents over to celebrate Yule. Yup, we know it is April, but with sicknesses on both sides and G.'s travel for his work taking him to sunny CA for weeks at a time, this was the first time they were really free when we were. So we grabbed the date. It was 80 degrees to add to the irony of the late celebration but still a really fun time. They loved the gifts the kids had made them. The kids loved the B and N gift cards they received. Lissa was a bit shy and reticent at first, but warmed up by the middle of the evening. I had to do her hair and as I wanted to watch the ball game (sigh. . . the Yankees lost!) and wanted to be sociable I did it in the living room on the floor with her. It probably took 20 minutes longer that way as there were more distractions so she was more wiggly, but it worked. I think W. really liked seeing how I did Lissa's hair and how Lissa likes to be part of the process of selecting her hair beads and baubles. So that was all good.

Another good thing this week is that my niece gave birth to her second child on the 23rd. Mom and baby are both doing fine. A hale and hearty little boy, so she now has a girl 5 and little N. I can't wait to meet him.

I just realized tonight that I wrote the stories of all my children, but I never wrote the story of Isabella. She deserves to be honored as well, and tonight, most especially.
There are tangled coils in my family. 2 yrs ago, my sister was pregnant. She had asked K and I to adopt her child as she felt she was totally not in a place emotionally to raise another child. My sister has 2 children still at home, a "tween" and a teen. She was leaving a marriage, living apart from her third husband. She was considered an "elderly" pregnancy, being in her late 40's. There was a significant risk of birth defect and she also felt unable to raise a child with a disability.

We agreed and had begun the adoption process. We went to her Dr appts with her. We tried very hard to be there for her emotionally. I have always felt very conflicted over this situation. It felt wrong to be excited over having another child, even though I was. Elisabeth and my sister's baby would have been what used to be called "Irish twins." I have no idea why but they would have been only about 9 or 10 months apart. I thought it would be really cool for Lissa to have a sibling so close in age. Let's face it, if I could have 20 kids I probably would! (laughing) Well, maybe not 20, but I love children, I love parenting. I couldn't help being stoked about another child. We wanted to keep the adoption open as possible and have my sister be in the child's life in whatever ways she could or wanted to be. As excited as I was, I also felt I was walking this tightrope, trying to support the needs of my sister, and prepare for a new baby.

My sister has some significant mental health issues, and her life for a myriad of reasons is far from stable. She was very clear that she wanted more stability for this child than she was able to offer, even to the two children she still has at home. The agency that did our homestudy for our 2 previous adoptions agreed to update our homestudy and also to provide counselling to my sister and her two children. They are a fantastic agency and their counselling was phenomenal. They didn't judge. They didn't advocate adoption or any other choice. They were truly there in the most supportive way that anyone could be. Even when she lost the baby.

The meds that my sister took for her mental illness were apparently toxic to the child growing within her and the baby died early in the pregnancy. Unhelpfully, a doctor later told my sister this. Yup, that was news to share after the fact with a woman who had asked her doctor if her meds were safe for the child when she first found out she was pregnant

. But our homestudying agency was loving and helpful to her in the grief and loss that was felt by my sister and her children and helped her create a farewell ceremony that would give some level of closure to them. My sister named the baby Isabella.

The loss of the child made me feel even weirder. I felt a great sadness as well, but I also felt guilty for feeling sad. My sister had such a bigger reason for sadness. I focussed on trying to be there for her. And my mother was never happy about the pregnancy, my sister's suggestion that we adopt--pretty much the whole situation angered her so I couldn't talk with her about this.

Anyway, there is a point to this. Today, Isabella would have been 2. My sister called tonight while we were entertaining. K took the call and said she was very upset. I think that the fact that my niece just had her baby makes things even harder for her. I know I thought of the date instantly when I received the call about baby N. His birth was 3 weeks early incidently. I thought of Isabella with a pang, but also with worry for my sister.

I don't know what to do or what to say to help her. I am actually relieved that K happened to grab the phone when it rang. Kirsty is way better at having that right thing to say. I am really good at figuring out solutions, at having logical decisions carefully delineated. But figuring out what to say when faced with emotional pain is really really hard for me. I worry about saying the wrong thing, particularly in a case where I know my sister has real mental health issues.

I hope tonite some brainstorm hits and I'll wake up tomorrow knowing what to say and what to do.


Anonymous said...

Life is complicated. I am so sorry for your loss.

Rambleman said...

Sounds like a roller coaster ride emotionally. Sorry for your loss too. *hugs*