A brief peek into the fresh realities of saying goodbye to a child you loved as your own
We bought him a puzzle in the dollar section at Target this week. And Zeke asked when he’s coming home.
I cry my eyes out in the car at least every other day and text my girlfriends, mentors, and family numerous times throughout the week just to take a breath.
I feel like I’m in a lion’s den of confusion and pain I didn’t see coming. I knew that reunification would be hard—I didn’t realize that reunification could turn out quite like ours did.
Add the pregnancy and I'm a hot mess. It is a unique pain to not be able to see the boy you called son, while looking ahead to the birth of another child. He can’t be replaced and he or she will be his or her own person. *Deep breath*
So, despite the beautiful photos strewn across the internet and the positive steps you might perceive our family to be taking in grief, we’re still wrecked.
Yes, it is seriously AWESOME that we’re going to a gym now (should’ve done this a year a go, see Instagram), but going to the gym won’t preclude me from hanging on to every word in the faithful text of support I’ll receive from my cousin tomorrow. He's not forgotten just because he's not here.
This isn’t a blog post to elicit sympathy—truly—but one to just be real and write it out in. I can't share the nitty-gritty details, nor would I. But I can just tell you that expectations are the root of a lot of pain and when you love someone big, it's going to hurt big. And that's OK. Pain isn't to be escaped-- we have to walk through these seasons and feel all the things. We’re doing well at what we can, but ‘doing things’ and ‘talking over things’ and ‘showing up for life’ won't turn this story around or suddenly erase sadness and grief. This season will last as long as it needs to because we’re not control of this process. Only God can dictate what is ahead of us.
If you’re pursuing foster care, please don’t stop. These kids and their families need people to step into the mess of state dependency and show up. What we did and hope to do again is n e c e s s a r y.
A road toward self acceptance and increased self awareness
About this time last year, I entered a cloud of loneliness in friendships that often left me begging Nick to explain to me why I felt like I was 'too much' for everyone around me. My closest friends were and have remained the people I met in grade school, high school, and college. There are a handful of exceptions-- and to those fierce women-- I am so grateful.
But last year, all I could see in front of me was the time I spent with other people who I just couldn't totally click with. Everything about us was congruent on the surface but I felt like I was holding myself back and just couldn't sink in to a genuine friendship. Then, I took the Enneagram and as trite as it sounds, my perspective shifted and the clouds literally parted.
The emotional rundown from a first-time foster parent
We decided to become foster parents because we knew there were kids needing homes and families needing support. We did not become foster parents because we were seeking heartbreak, looking to struggle with intense trauma, or become more wholly aware of generational challenges. But, here we are. We’re here because we feel called, we know it’s needed, and dammit, we signed up for this.
So how does reunification actually feel? It's as painful as people assume and more revealing of God's blessings than you'd ever guess.
It's basically a rollercoaster of every emotion ever.
Here's my list of all the feels...
A physician at Tempe’s Desert Wellness Center
When I think about women’s health and postpartum health, the first things I think about are pelvic health, hormone balance, and mental health maintenance.
When you Google women’s health and postpartum health, headlines nearly always only point to mental health factors. There’s probably a lot of positive things to be said for this focus as mental health is still often put on the back burner, but I would argue that we’re forgetting the realities of the rest of our bodies.
When women age, have babies, and go through all the hormonal changes associated with the female life, a lot can shift.
I recently met the folks at Tempe’s Desert Wellness Center and was so encouraged by their approach toward women’s health. I took some time earlier this month to talk with Dr. Barbara Ezrre. Our Q/A is below.
And all the other stress that comes with periods of unknown
We're officially a million years into a case without a concrete timeline. I know there's nothing new to our struggle over here at the Zehring household. Anyone who's been in a period of waiting-- for a pregnancy, for wellness, for finality in a foster care case, for closure in a relationship-- knows that the limbo period is the worst. We also know, or at least many of us could say that this place of in-between is also where the growth happens.
All of this is true and Nick and I know this in our hearts, but it just doesn't make it easier.
So here I am, writing this all out and asking myself: in this space of foster parenting (insert all other challenges) how do we navigate the most fundamental part of this journey without becoming overwhelming inward focused and negative?