This is the fourth and last installment of my introductory posts for you all. It's the story of Chris and me, of how we got to the point we are at now. Catch up on chapter 1 here, chapter 2 here, and chapter 3 here!
When Chris and I started discussing marriage, I made it clear that our engagement would NOT be a long one. My biological clock was ticking and I wasn't waiting forever and a day to marry the incredibly handsome man who chose me to be his wife.
So, after only being engaged for five months (five months too long, in my opinion), we got married at our church on October 12, 2013.
And I hardly remember the day.
I'm sometimes brutally honest. You ready for this?
Weddings are stupid. Not the actual vows and making promises to each other and to God, but the money spent on a dress that's only worn once, decorations that get thrown away immediately after the party, mediocre food spent on lots of people-- all that is pointless.
I never wanted a wedding. And, really, if I had the opportunity to marry Chris all over again, I wouldn't take no for an answer when I'd ask him to elope.
Am I thankful for that day? Yes, abundantly so.
But due to being doped up on Sudafed and distracted by the craziness of the day, I don't remember my "Big Day." I don't remember the sermon that was presented. I don't remember our vows. I DO remember that I didn't get a chance to greet even a fraction of my guests. I do remember being pulled in one thousand different directions for pictures and dances and ceremony.
This is all beside the point. I guess your one take-away from that rambling bit is, "Elope."
From what I do remember, and from our pictures from that day, our wedding day was incredible. It was the last warm day in October. There were a lot of people, many of whom I loved dearly. Many more who I would grow to love.
Our week-long honeymoon in Boston was just as amazing. I constantly long to go back and relive those days walking through Cambridge and sitting in Harvard yard, or whale watching, or taking a bus trip up into Maine.
People always talk about the "honeymoon period" after getting married. I'm not sure if we had any significant period like that. My memories of our first months together include me crying myself to sleep, yelling at Chris with a frying pan in my hand (not even kidding), and having a conversation with him where I simply said, "I don't really like you right now."
Sure, we had some pretty great times, too. But man! Going from a very strong-willed, independent single woman to a married woman who had to share ALL her space, ALL her time, ALL her things and ALL her mess. IT WAS HARD.
Seven months after we got married, all hell broke loose.
One day in May, I was blow drying my hair as I readied myself for work. I flipped my now-dried hair back and felt something rip. By the time I got to my car, I was hunched over and shuffling like an old lady. I could barely get out of the car once I got to work and actually spent most of the morning crawling around on the floor because I couldn't walk.
For three months, I was in immense physical pain. I was on multiple pain killers and muscle relaxers with no relief. Physical therapy was only making things worse. I was sent for an MRI where they found a massively herniated disc in my lower back. It was immediately clear that surgery was my only option.
So, I put work on hold for a month so I could have the surgery and recover. I got all the pre-op tests done six days before the surgery and was cleared for take off.
On July 28th, I walked into the hospital for my first-ever surgery. I was about to put on those ridiculous gowns, socks and cap when they asked for a urine sample. My pre-op pregnancy test had come back negative, but my period was still late and they wanted to be sure.
My periods were NEVER on time, so I wasn't worried. Plus, the pregnancy test I took just six days before was negative.
Chris and I sat in the pre-op room for hours. I was in SO much pain because I wasn't allowed to eat or drink anything, including medication. People who arrived after me were being taken in for surgery before me. I was getting pretty antsy.
The anesthesiologist walked in to insert the IV. I saw that as progress.
As soon as she left, a nurse walked in. She started asking me about my periods AGAIN. I gave her the necessary information. She then held out her hand and showed me three positive pregnancy tests.
"YOU'VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!"
That was my response. Because I knew that EVERYTHING was about to change.
Surgery was off the table with many warnings of how pain-filled the next nine months would be. No pain meds, no surgery, and the possibility of constant bed rest and immobility was my near future. I wasn't too excited about that prospect.
The first ultrasound we had revealed nothing. The screen was blank. I was worried but knew that it could be too early. So we had another, high-res ultrasound.
That's when my world fell apart.
On the screen of the high-res ultrasound, I saw my sweet baby. But she wasn't in my womb. She was stuck in my left Fallopian tube, the blood pulsing and throbbing around her with rapid growth. The doctor had to break the news to us that I was experiencing an ectopic pregnancy and that there was nothing they could do to preserve the pregnancy, and in fact, my life was in imminent danger.
Chris and I wrapped our arms around my abdomen and wept. Chris prayed over us, begging God to welcome our sweet baby into His presence. He read Romans 8 aloud, proclaiming the hope that God would get all the glory for the trials we were facing. That's how our little one got her name. She was supposed to take on a family name near and dear to us. But her story was meant for so much more. Her name had to be a reflection of all it would do. She was named Glory.
We were ushered down to the ER where we waited for eight hours for the medicine that would "dissolve the mass into scar tissue." Ugh. Stupid medical jargon.
I was given the injections and were told about the very slim chance of the medicine not working and what to look for in that case.
We went home and mourned.
I was still off work and spent the following week crying, journaling, but ultimately at peace about everything. I was going ahead with my back surgery. I was going to feel better. I was going to get to walk again!
Six days after the injection, on August 21, 2014, my world crumbled even further.
I crawled into bed one night with what I thought was a terrible case of gas. I tried everything I could to resolve the discomfort. On my last attempt to go to the bathroom, I passed out.
Chris rushed me to the ER. As soon as the nurses heard the words "ectopic pregnancy," they rushed into action. Within minutes of us entering the ER, I was whisked away to surgery where it was found that not only did the pregnancy rupture, but it had shredded my Fallopian tube. On top of all that, I had lost over half the volume of my blood and was minutes, if not seconds, from death.
Hours later, I was rolled into my hospital room. I saw Chris emerge from the OR waiting room with his dad who came to sit with him while I was in surgery. He had just learned how close he was to becoming a widower. I had yet to learn how close I was to making him a widower.
I spent 6 weeks recovering from that surgery, went on to have my back surgery and spent a few weeks recovering from that before returning to work.
Grief was a constant companion. It never really left. In fact, it was only joined by a bout of depression that was deeper and darker than anything I'd experienced since high school.
Six months after we lost Glory, we started trying for another baby.
More medical tests. More bad news. More heartbreak. More depression. More pain and loneliness.
My fertility was shot. My remaining tube was inflamed and blocked. My only option for conception was IVF. And God made it perfectly clear that we were not to go down that road.
So we settled on adoption. And it seemed like that was exactly where we were supposed to be. Never mind that our community was hesitant and not-so-excited. Never mind that the adoption costs were insurmountable.
We walked the road of adoption for a year with little-to-no progress. SO many people, even some complete strangers, gave us money. We took that as a sign that we needed to proceed. But our hearts weren't at peace. We were hesitant to start the home study. We just didn't have the desire to pursue it.
Chris and I went to my parent's house for a birthday last November. My mom and I were sitting at the table where I was bemoaning the fact that it seemed like this adoption would never happen. My mom simply asked me one question, "Why aren't you guys doing foster care?"
Up to that point, I was very anti- foster care. My mom was a former case manager for DCFS. I remember the toll it took on her. I remember the hard stories of the kids she worked with. From what little I knew of foster care, I knew I wanted no part in it.
But what's funny is that we got into adoption because we had a call to care for widows and orphans. We also wanted to be hospitable and generous. We bent the realities of all those desires to make them fit into the adoption scenario.
Then my mom brought up foster care that one evening, and as I sat on it for a few days, it seemed like all those desires became un-bent and flawlessly fit into the puzzle that was our life.
So, January 2017, Chris and I contacted an agency here in the city about possibly becoming foster parents through them.
Then we thought we were going to buy a condo. Ha! Little did we know.
Then I got really sick and was either hospitalized or hooked up to machines every day.
And then God healed me from that illness.
Since then, everything has gone at warp speed. We finished our classes. We did all the paperwork. And we got a pre-approval call from our agency about a placement.
And now we wait.
That's foster care. Hurry up and wait.
We are now up to present-day. There are many details and stories that were emitted from these installments that I will hopefully be able to fill in through different posts. But you're all caught up! You're in the know of the life of Chris and Caitlin and why we are doing foster care.
You now get to wait with us. Wait for the hope of the little one we were told about, the little one who needs a home. The hope of the little one that keeps me up at night, praying that God would be protecting him and claiming him as His own.