About Me

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WE HAVE MOVED TO A NEW SITE!!! http://www.mommyhood-shivonne-costa.squarespace.com/ As of June 18, 2015, this is our new location. Please come join us!! I started blogging the week I got married. I thought it would be nice to blog the full first year, you know, to cherish those memories and share them with my family and friends. Little did I know, it was going to be my greatest coping skill for the craziness that comes with marriage! I found writing to be a fantastic way to reframe an ugly marital spat into a humorous event, allowing me to smile at the situation by the end of the post. And now, I am honored to share my struggles and joys of fostering, adopting, birthing, and raising 4 beautiful children. It's my hope that others gain laughter and new ways to see their own frustrating life situation through my writing. Because I love to write! PS, look for me on Facebook - "Mommyhood-Shivonne Costa"

Friday, September 27, 2013

Pregnancy Fun

     So.... pregnancy is interesting, isn't it? I mean, everyday, my body does something just a little bit grosser than it did the previous day. I know this to be true, because my doting husband reminds me of how gross I am after I inform him of each bodily changs. Terrified of miscarrying, I don't like to keep these changes to myself. What if, God forbid, I were to spontaneously pass out? My husband would be forced to rush me to the local Emergency Room and would have to attest to my every symptom. How would he know that my poo is green if I didn't tell him?? And how could he report to the ER doctor that I have a terrible rash on my bottom if I didn't tell him? You see, I'm doing this for my safety!
     Sure, it may kill the mood a bit, but no more than puking or ultra-sensitive ta-tas, so what's the difference? Thankfully, my sweetheart of a gynie prescribed me Zofran. It is the sweet nectar required to sustain me each day, and it makes it possible to move without barfing on my clients (yes, puking in front of the mentally ill is quite amusing.... I'm pretty sure the one fella thought I was hungover, since alcohol is what he bases everything in life around, and the other gentleman, who suffers from paranoia, immediately assumed I was contagious. Not quite, my friend, not quite.) Sadly, my lovely doctor was the only one helpful in getting me this miracle med I so desperately needed. Her office staff, the pharmacy (parmacIES), and the insurance company proved to be not only unsympathetic to my nauseous plight, but they were downright RUDE! Who the crap gets rude to a pregnant woman with morning/all-day-long sickness?? There has to be some missing rule in the Ten Commandments forbidding people to do stuff to tick off a hormonal gal.... Thou Shalt Not Withhold Zofran, or Thou Shalt Not Ruin A Lady's First Week Of Knowing She's Pregnant!!! But obviously, the people at Rite Aid are not Bible readers, and they CERTAINLY don't care about womankind in the slightest!
     At least my husband is helpful.... despite thinking I'm absolutely disgusting, that is. In an attempt to express his manly needs last night, he came upstairs as I changed out of my ever-tightening work clothes and into my X-Large pajamas. Perched on the edge of the bed, he waited excitedly for the "unveiling" to begin. Sighing in relief as the last clasp my my super-snug bra was released, I flung the boob-smotherer across the room.... only to hear my husband roar with laughter. (Just what every plumping woman craves when she disrobes.) Staring directly at them, he asked if he could draw faces on them with magic marker.... so that they would look like JACK-O-LANTERNS for Halloween! (Someone is highly mistaken if he thinks he's going to get any pregnancy coitus out of THIS pumpkin.)
     Despite our lack of intimacy in the last 2 weeks, my blessed mother-in-law offered to relieve Pat and I of our parenting duties for the evening.... which is the best present in the world, as our two little rugrats have decided to make my supposed-to-be happy week a treacherous one. Grateful for the date night, I made plans to do one thing.... sleep. My husband, God bless him, made plans to do other things on the bed instead. However, another symptom emerged. Good-bye diarrhea, Hello constipation! I went from chewing Immodium like it was candy, to sucking down stool softeners just to relieve the bloating and pain (in 12-72 HOURS!!!! For the love of God, don't they know that my baby could suffocate if this crap doesn't get OUT of me??) As it turns out, my miracle Zofran is the culprit of this new and unfortunate symptom. And the only solution? An enema.
     Two months in and I'm already in need of an enema.... like I said. Pregnancy is interesting. Two years ago, date night would've consisted of passionate kisses, decadent food, and a night on the town. But tonight, we will be left with me bending over as my husband "spreads 'em" and injects something uncomfortable into my already full back-side. To top it off? He's worried he'll get "happy" by this? Oh my gosh, seriously?? I promise that if he sticks around for the following half hour, his "happiness" will be running for the hills! At least that's what I'm hoping for... because if this enema thing doesn't work, I very well may find myself actually passed out and in the local ER. At which point, my husband really WILL be glad he knows about all my gross symptoms. So now, let date night commence. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Hope Springs Eternal

     My husband and I have been married for three years. Three years seems like such a short period of time, and yet, as we've reflected on ALL that has taken place during this time span, it feels as though we've lived a lifetime and a half! My biggest dream growing up was always to be a mother. As I got a bit older, I realized that I wanted other things as well... to help others, to have a job that required me to show compassion to the underdogs of society, to pursue music, to write, to love God and my family with my whole heart. After year 1 of marriage, it looked as if I was going to have to abandon one of my most precious goals in life: Motherhood. Crushed and exhausted from fertility pills that made me super-sick, we moved to Plan B: Foster Care.
     With so many children in need of placement, surely, we thought, we would get a child immediately! Ahh, but let us not forget the months of paperwork followed by the months of waiting. More Waiting!! Was it possible that even needy children weren't meant for us? Good grief!! If I can't have my own and I can't help someone elses', what was left? But lo and behold, after almost a year into the fostering process, we got the call. TWO children instead of one.... what a deal!! Two weeks after their arrival, CYS asked us to consider adopting them. Um.... they obviously haven't seen me mother... I'm really not very good! I always thought I would be this awesome Mom, but I've realized that I basically stink at it! But our hearts did what our brains couldn't.... and we said "Yes".
     Several months later, Baby Isaac came along. I'm pretty sure most of our family thought we were crazy by this point! Afterall, we were dealing with some "fun" and "interesting" behaviors (both from the kids AND from us!), but we figured that adding their baby brother to the mix would be worth it in the end. P.S. It was.
     Fast forward 9 months.... Both Cameron and Taylor have been adopted, Isaac is set for adoption, and then the bomb hits. Words like "biological father" and "reunification" started haunting my dreams and turning my stomach sour. After a month and a half, Isaac left us for good. Grateful for weekend visits, Pat and I tried to compose ourselves for the sake of each other and for Cameron and Taylor.... we left our weeping for late at night, in the privacy of our cars, our pillows, and the great outdoors.
     What I didn't tell you in last night's post is that Sunday night, just after returning Isaac to his father for what we thought to be the final time, we had one more change of events. My husband was at the video store, walking the isles in tears, desperate to find something to distract him from the great loss Isaac left in him. I was at home, getting sick with grief....literally. I texted him repeatedly, as he was taking an unusually long time. He assured me he would be home soon. I waited on the couch for him anxiously, knowing that the day had been more than we could handle, but that I was going to do what I could to cheer him. So, when my hubby walked through the door, the first thing I did was put my arms around him and we both cried. And the second thing I did was present him with a present:

     I realized that God loves poetry more than even I, because no one could have written this more poetically if they had tried. On the very night we lose one baby, God grants us another. Pat and I stared at the tests with their beautiful, pink, double lines, and we did the only thing we could in the moment. We laughed. It was much needed laughter in a moment that we were feeling so much sadness. We we overjoyed, nervous, and broken, all in the same moment, and laughter was the best release we found! After further thought, our giggles continued, because, not only had I not ovulated in 3 years, but we had only had a week of "sexy time" in a two month span due to feeling so distraught over Isaac. We made time for the obligatory "stress relief" that is supposed to occur for one's anniversary, and that was it! So, one egg in three years just happened to occur during a particularly long dry spell we were in? I don't think so. This has miracle written all over it! And that's exactly how I will always see it.
     Our little bean-shaped baby is 7-weeks along and due May 8th. Baby Bean's heart beat was small but strong. Watching the tiny flashes of light signifying Bean's heartrate filled me with such a peace that I haven't felt in years. I no longer have to imagine what this "would have been like". It's here. It's my moment. My baby. A baby that no one can ever take away. There has always been Hope... but Hope Realized is soooo much cooler! Ladies and Gentelmen, meet Baby Bean.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Final Hearing

     Today, my husband and I walked the steps towards Judge Dohanich's courtroom for the last time. And no matter how many times we enter the courthouse, I still get a knot in the pit of my stomach. At the last ruling, our gracious judge granted us an unprecedented gift of 5 precious weekends with Baby Isaac. We couldn't figure out why he made such an unheard of call, but as time went by, we began to realize that it was more than likely his way of giving us time to come to some sort of peaceful terms with Isaac's biological father. Thanks to my husband's smooth people skills, he was able to befriend the man in a way that I am simply not able to. They talked football and kids, weather and general "man stuff". The relationship my husband built with Isaac's dad, as small as it seems, caused the man to offer to let Isaac come and stay with us for his 1st birthday. Naturally, I ran straight to my boss' office and asked to take that entire day off work. I plan to make the day a complete bash from start to finish. I will pump my baby full of cake, lavish him with presents, and take so many pictures that the maker of Kodak will be able to retire. It will be an amazingly sweet day.
     Sadly though, the thought of one last day with Isaac, as good as that day will be, sickened my heart. Saying goodbye for the last time on Sunday was an all too familiar moment, and it was one I had never wanted to repeat. I actually went with Pat to drop Isaac off after we let Cameron and Taylor say their tearful goodbyes. I was friendly; I smiled. I did what I had to do as I handed Isaac over to his dad. Baby Bear kept reaching back for us, and even as we were getting in our car to leave, he swiveled his head back and forth to get his last look of us. It was heartbreaking, to say the least. I didn't even make it out of their driveway before the flooding began. Needless to say, we barely made it two blocks before we had to pull over as neither of us were fit to drive by that point.
     So today, with raw emotions and grief over the finality that today's hearing was to bring, we sat and listened to the testimonies of everyone involved as they made their recommendations for Isaac to be removed from foster care. There was nothing left to be said, nothing left to be done. The judge then proclaimed the final verdict: Isaac is now to be permanently in the care of his birth father and child services are no longer necessary. He thanked Isaac's father for stepping up to take Isaac when most fathers wouldn't. And then he thanked my husband and I for wanting Isaac when no one else was there to want him. He stated that he hoped an amicable relationship could continue for us all.
     As we all walked form the courtroom, choking back sobs, we acknowledged Isaac's dad with congratulations and best wishes. He shook Pat's hand and then pulled me in for a hug. And then, something lovely and unexpected happened. The man that my husband had built a relationship with over the past 5 weeks offered us the best that we could hope for in a situation that seemed overwhelmingly unbearable. He asked if we would still be willing to do weekend visits with Isaac. He realizes that Isaac loves us, that we love him, and that he has a brother and sister that adore him. He also realizes that he gets free babysitting on the weekends! And we all realized that Isaac deserves as much love from as many people as humanly possible.
     And so, our second "final goodbye" turned around once more! It's not what we had hoped and prayed for, but what kind of God does what my puny little heart wills when He can see the biggest picture of all and knows what needs to be? Isaac is now able to be apart of two families... he will be loved and cherished doubly. He will get to keep going to church and singing his little baby heart out in worship each week, and he will get to take that awesome, Godly spirit into a home that may not have ever had the opportunity to see it any other way. Since the big picture in life is not who lives where or what name I'm to be called by a child, but in seeing each soul come to Jesus, then it seems that God has found a way to bless us all. How can I be angry when He's so beautifully and creatively formed a path where there seemed to be a dead end? Can this man go back on his word? Absolutely. At any moment can he decide to never let us see Isaac again? Yep, he can. But I believe that God used my husband to bond with Isaac's dad. And I believe that God knows what we all need, not just want. So when it comes time for me to worry and stress about this current situation, I'm going to choose to remind myself of this one faithful thought. Hope has no end when it involves a very Big God.... and in a very Big God I trust.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Roller Coaster

     One more weekend. That's it, and then it's all over. We'll pick him up Saturday morning and spend the entire day trying not to cry. Then we'll take him to church with us one last time and try to take a mental snapshot of each moment so that it can forever be ingrained in our minds.... our last weekend with Isaac. Saying goodbye week after week has been so emotionally trying.... almost as emotional as the fact that it takes our baby longer and longer to warm up to us each weekend. He's forgetting us already. I was hoping I would never have to see that process, but apparently saying goodbye once is for the weak....we must be awfully strong if our family was given the task of doing it over and over and over again. (At least that's what I'm telling myself.)
     However, some of us are not handling this as well as others. And that someone is Cameron. Surprisingly enough, I thought Taylor was going to be the one we were going to have to worry about. But thankfully she has seemed to grow immeasurably during this time (which has helped me bond with her much more than I did before she was able to show an emotion!). But, sadly, not Cameron. My boy has turned into a complete and utter disaster. The poor kid can't keep a thought in his head (probably because his mind is spinning a mile a minute about Isaac, if the cat is going to leave, school work, things that are shiny...) and his already impulsive tendencies have exploded like a volcano of destruction, aggression, and hyperactivity.
     These are things you'd hear coming from my husband and my lips multiple times an hour if you were at my home any given day of the week:
"Cameron, WHY did you flush your sister's hair ties down the toilet??"
"Cameron, you can't threaten to run away every day.... it's definitely losing it's momentum, my friend."
"Is it yours? Then stop touching it. Now... stop touching it now."
"Cameron, keep your hands to yourself or I'll do it for you."
"Cameron, clean your room." (x 100)
"Teeth are for biting food, not people!!"
"How the heck did you break your lamp AND the toilet??"
"Cameron, stop riding your bike in front of the lawnmower and cars!!"
"Seriously?!? WIPE YOUR BUTT!!!!!"
"Cameron, take your meds... Cameron, take your meds... CAMERON!!!! TAKE. YOUR. MEDS!!!!"
     At school, he's getting in trouble for not listening, hitting another student, and getting out of his seat repeatedly on the bus. At home, he's hitting (himself and others), lying, stealing, binge eating, breaking things, and biting. Yes, biting. My toothless child has grown several teeth over the summer. Although I was thrilled his teeth were FINALLY coming in, I had no idea that he would use them as a weapon. Not only did he break skin on his sister's shoulder, but he attempted to bite my mother-in-law multiple times while she was trying to help him calm down during one of his fits! And to top it off, Cameron's binge-eating has caused him to gain almost 10 pounds since Isaac left (we literally had to buy all new clothes because he went up 2 sizes in 2 weeks!).
     Cameron has also taken to very large tantrums whenever he isn't given his way. Tonight, after he was told 3 times to get ready for bed and he continued to play instead, he was sent to bed. "What about snack??" he asked. I informed him that he'd missed snack time when he was playing and that it was now bed time, not snack time. This is what I got in return: "Not only are you the worst foster mom in the world, you're the worst REAL mom, too!! I hate you! You're mean and a jerk and I'm going to kill myself!!!" (The last part always seems to emerge when he's very emotional and then not given his way on top of it. We've addressed this multiple times over the last year and a half, explaining how serious this is and that he will not be given his way for a statement like that... but if he is serious and tries to hurt himself, he will have to go to a hospital, which won't be very fun.) However, over the weekend, he made the same statement and when he didn't get the attention he wanted, he decided to punch himself in the face... which consequently gave him a bloody nose. And the roller coaster just continues day in and day out... it's like the worst amusement park ride in the world and he, nor I, just can't seem to find the emergency lever to pull and get off of it.
     I think it's safe to say that his therapist has her hands full and that his current medication isn't cutting it. But more importantly, I have no idea how to make him feel better. I can't give in to his every whim, and I can't have him hurting people or himself.... I love him too much to let him turn into a monster. It would just be nice to know what to do. How to ease his mind. How to calm his heart. How to deal with his behaviors without turning into a monster myself! I feel too emotionally tired to try sometimes. It's easy to flip out and it's easy to ignore.... but I know he needs planned approaches to things. Cameron needs a well-thought out response to each behavior; one with the perfect amount of firmness and love, forgiveness and consequence, empathy and redirection. But how do I do that when, some nights, all I have the energy for is staring at the television until my eyes glass over and it's an acceptable time to go to sleep?
     Eventually we will tire of this ride enough to move on to the next one, and hopefully it will be a much more pleasant experience. I doubt it will happen before Isaac's last weekend, and probably not before our final court hearing for him on Tuesday. In fact, it probably won't happen for a while. In the meantime, I'm gonna keep trying to stay sane, pray A LOT, and work on my Candy Crush scores (because, hey, even mom's need a little mind-numbing fun, right?). Suggestions are always welcome:)

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Welcome To The Zoo

     There has been a devastating amount of loss to our family over the last several months. It was only shortly after the passing of my hero, Grandma Keiser, that we began the upheaval of Isaac leaving. And between the dogs running away and Isaac coming and going every weekend, it's been a real struggle for each of us to find our way and to grasp on to happy moments once again. Unfortunately, my husband had one more devastating blow over the weekend. His beloved pet toad (of 4 years), to whom he fed bugs and played with while he "worked out in the garage", was tragically stepped on late Sunday night. (I don't know if you've ever seen a toad that's been stepped on.... but I don't even like toads and feel like I may have PTSD from the whole thing!) Pat was obviously crushed and left with an empty void; his friend of 4 years, taken so suddenly and grotesquely.
     Luckily, my family has decided to fill their voids with taking in stray animals. After one of our dogs cornered a kitten on the front porch, my weak-for-animals husband felt the need to nurse her back to health from her bone-thin, flea-infested frame. Now, my grandmother didn't have fleas, and even though Isaac pooped himself, he didn't get it all over the basement, so to me, it doesn't seem like much of a fair trade. But for whatever reason, my husband and children are running about with gaiety in their steps and smiles on their lips, talking about the kitty this, and the kitty that. My husband maturely "made a call to the humane's society" which consisted him of NOT making the call and playing with the cat instead, so I looked like the bad guy when I suggested we find a nice home for the kitty. Three hollow and shell-shocked faces abruptly popped up and stared at me with mouths gaping. I felt like Hitler, standing there commanding them into the gas chambers if they didn't hand over the feline!
     Oh, for heaven's sake.... FINE. We'll keep the darn cat! (For now.) How we're going to feed it? No one but me cares about that. Who will clean the crap out of the basement? Eh, Pat will get to it (eventually). At least Isaac got WIC to help with some of the financial burden.... do kittens get WKC or something, maybe? I'll have my husband "check with the humane's society" about it....
     So, since we have to keep the little critter, we might as well come up with a name for her, right? We had a family meeting and decided that the top contenders were:
Puddles (that was aaallll Taylor)
Cuddles (Taylor again.... they're learning rhyming in Kindergarten this week.)
Patrick (Cameron)
Esmeralda (Pat)
Persephone (Pat.... again. Apparently he wants his cat to be a Disney character or a Greek goddess.)
     All interesting options. However, the name that beat out all the rest was a nomination made by Cameron in honor of his and Taylor's favorite movie, Matilda. (However, the kitty's name is not Matilda.) The new name for our furry little feline is Miss Honey. She is a goldeny-orange color and she is very, very sweet (and sticky from the poo), so this name actually fits her like a glove (AND I don't have to yell "Persephone!" every time I track litter up the stairs.)
    In addition to the kitty, I mean, Miss Honey, Cameron happened upon a salamander in the basement and he decided that he couldn't live without his new friend. I informed him that that was fine, as long as he and his friend lived outside and at least 100 yards from my house. Cameron reluctantly told his red, spotted pal that I am a "Big Meany" and that he'll come visit him in the yard. So, not only can I not go into my basement due to the giant wolf spiders, salamanders, and cats that have taken over, now I can't walk in my yard for fear of stepping on toads or Cameron's little buddy.
     To top everything off, this evening, as I sat in the living room, plunking away on my piano, my husband bursts through the door looking like a kid on Christmas morning. Holding his hands together in front of him, he thrusts them out at me and says, "Look, Bubba! I found a NEW toad!!!" Just as the words were leaving his lips, the giant amphibian leapt from Pat's fingers and towards my face. Frog dampness flung and hit me in the mouth as the gross little creature landed at my feet and hopped across the floor. "He's a big fella, ain't he?" My husband was so happy, and despite my disgust, I couldn't help but feel a bit happy for him, too. Even though Miss Honey, Sal the Salamander, and Toad-The-Sequel can't replace what was lost to our hearts, I am grateful that the ones I love are able to find joy in the moment.... even if I do, officially, now live in a zoo.