Gazing Upward
  • Motherhood and Parenting
  • June17th

    1 Comment

    With Maryn being born June 5th and my desire to keep time at a standstill so I can ever-enjoy this newborn stage, I’ve neglected to recognize that we’re moving into the second half of June. How does that happen?? Anyway, I almost panicked yesterday when I realized that my monthly post for the China adoption resource site, No Hands But Ours, was due today!

    I’ve pasted the post below, but you can also read it here if you’re interested in reading other posts about adopting special needs children from China.

    And I’m almost done writing a post on Maryn’s birth story and how natural childbirth became one of the most memorable experiences of my life…stay tuned. 🙂

    The last twelve days have been filled with joy, awe, gratitude, and love as our family welcomed its sixth member, baby Maryn. We haven’t even reached a year since Caroline’s “Gotcha Day” and another little one has joined our family! Four kids in four years. A friend recently joked that it isn’t a requirement to add a child each year in order to send out Christmas cards.

    We had only been home from China three months last fall when I discovered with surprise, delight, and a little panic that I was pregnant. I worried how all my kids would react, particularly my adopted daughters. I was overjoyed to learn that all three of our kids were super excited and eager for a baby sibling.

    Grace (my 3-year-old) and I had some interesting conversations throughout my pregnancy. She would often say, “Carter comes from the hospital, and I was born in China! Right, Mommy?” And one time she asked, “Did you and Daddy come to China to get me in your belly?” I had to explain she grew in her China mommy’s belly and that we went to China to pick her up later. The conversations haven’t gone much deeper yet, but I know hard questions will eventually come as she digests and fully comprehends her background and her story.

    Caroline, my 13-year-old, loves to help and be hands-on with the baby. I had anticipated this. What I hadn’t expected was her lack of knowledge about newborn care and precautions. I had forgotten that she had been the only child in a foster family for seven years prior to her adoption, so she hadn’t really been around any newborns. In one of several scary and disconcerting incidents, my helper took off running to hide from the two little ones coming down the hallway…WHILE CARRYING THE BABY! I think this was the first time I ever yelled at Caroline, but I panicked when I saw Maryn’s fragile little body flopping at high speed across the room.

    After a few incidents, I found myself very irritated, wondering how and why my teenager was making such poor decisions. And then I remembered…. a sense of consequences, perception of cause and effect, linear thinking, are concepts many adopted kids lack and have not yet developed. Hence why Caroline hopped on a bike last summer for the first time and thought she could ride it down a hill. As you’ve probably concluded, the situation didn’t end well. She crashed into a fence and got pretty scraped up. Adopted kids typically don’t have a sense of danger, and this mixed with impulsiveness can be a recipe for disaster.

    The key to handling this “special need” that often goes unmentioned? Patience. While my first thought was, “How does she not know better than to jerk a newborn around,” my eventual response was to extend Caroline grace and gently instruct her on some basics of newborn care. I had to remind myself that she wasn’t trying to be annoying by clapping loudly in the (sleeping) baby’s face…she was trying to find a way to engage. And she wasn’t purposely being careless when she swiftly swung her baby sister back and forth in one arm…she was trying to be a fun big sister. (After all, Grace and Carter love to be tossed and swung about.) I had to review my expectations through a filter of adoption knowledge in order to have the right perspective and the right approach to my daughter’s behavior.

    If you’re adopting an older child, be prepared for the unexpected in regards to behavior. It’s easy to think your child will have age-appropriate knowledge of manners, or social cues, or safety precautions. It’s also easy to become frustrated, perturbed, and even disappointed when your child falls short in one of these areas. Just remember that adopted kids have such limited life experience, particularly if the orphanage was their only home, that they never learned the lessons that are second nature to others. Lessons we tend to assume have already been learned. I believe this delay can be as much a special need as a medical issue, and it’s often overlooked when preparing parents for post-adoption challenges.

    My eldest child may not know all the ins and outs of newborn safety and care. But part of my role is to teach her these things. I’m learning to anticipate situations in which Caroline may be unfamiliar. What I do know is that she truly loves her baby sister and desires to help her momma. And lovingkindness and service are two traits that are much tougher to cultivate. As our family has grown, I believe Caroline has as well. Again, I feel overwhelmed with awe and gratitude.


  • June12th


    Today, Maryn is one week old. And I’ve been sentimental all day.  Part of me wishes we could go back and do last Tuesday all over again.  With her being our last baby, and having waited so long for this incredible gift, I have a feeling I’m going to have difficulty with time passing. I want to freeze this stage for awhile because the newborn phase passes so very quickly!

    I appreciate all of your sweet comments, especially about our baby girl’s name.  We’ve had a lot of people ask how we’re pronouncing the name, so I thought I’d answer that here and give some background on how we arrived at her name.

    I went to high school with a girl named Maryn and always thought it was a beautiful name.  And it also somewhat resembles my mom’s name, Mary Lynn, and I loved the idea of honoring my mom in that way.  We also chose Elizabeth for the same reason…to honor Scott’s mom (who goes by Libby).

    While the most common pronunciation of Maryn is MARE-in (rhymes with Karen), the Maryn I went to school with pronounced her name with the accent on the end…Ma-RYN (rhymes with Corinne).  We actually love both and joke that we may just see which pronunciation sticks. But we’re mostly calling her Ma-RYN since it sounds most like my mom’s name.

    As you can see from the picture, our Maryn pillow came in and I just love how it adds pops of color to the nursery. Some of you had been concerned that the seller on Etsy posted a picture of a Maryn pillow and thought she might have ruined the surprise for us. So let me clarify that she had made that pillow for another friend.  When I first found her Etsy store, I about fell off my bed when I saw the pillow with our “girl name,” given it’s so uncommon, and especially with it spelled the same way. When I contacted the seller to place my order, she said that her friend had combined her grandmother’s names to come up with Maryn.  I remember thinking that maybe it was a sign I was having a girl by seeing that pillow! 🙂  Anyway, rest assured that no surprise was ruined.

    I am working on writing out Maryn’s birth story and hope to post soon.  I don’t want to forget a single detail! (But don’t worry, I’ll spare you some of them.) 🙂  Thank you so much for celebrating the blessing of our daughter with us!

  • June4th


    Well, I held off on sharing the speculation on my condition until I knew the diagnosis. This afternoon, lab results confirmed that I have obstetric cholestasis which is a rare condition that has to do with the liver.  Complications for the baby (stillbirth, intrauterine growth issues, etc.) and mom (hemorraging during delivery) aren’t necessarily common but do happen, so babies are usually delivered as early as possible after diagnosis.  My main symptom had been severe itching (I have scratched my body raw in the last week to the point of tiny scabs and scratches everywhere) due to high bile acid levels entering the bloodstream. Anyway, my doctor called around 4 pm to say that we need to deliver tomorrow.

    So baby Brown will make his/her arrival very soon! I am scheduled to arrive at the hospital in the morning at 6 am. We covet your prayers for a smooth delivery and for protection over the baby until birth.  I had been warned that pitocin can make natural delivery much more painful, so please pray that I can endure it.  I’ll keep y’all posted!

    Oh, and I answered some of the nursery questions in a comment in post below.

    Much love,


    P.S. All three kiddos are really excited about baby Brown arriving tomorrow. Carter did a little giddy dance and then laid his hands on my tummy and said, “Let’s open it now!” (like the baby is wrapped up like a present)  Love his innocence and excitement!

  • May30th


    For the sake of record keeping (says my mom), here’s my belly at 37 weeks.  I apparently have not taken or posted enough pictures this pregnancy.

    This pic makes me laugh because my tummy looks pointed.

    Next order of business….thank you, thank you, thank you to all of you who shared words of encouragement, your experiences, books to read, techniques to try, and Scripture to pray!! I have been overwhelmed by the number of you who have taken time to type out suggestions and your own testimonies of natural childbirth. Each and every message was so encouraging!

    I am happy to update that, after reading through a few books, hiring a doula, and praying through it all, I am actually really excited and totally on board with natural delivery.  I now feel prepared and educated, and much of that is thanks to all of you!

    My platelet count was still down last week, so no change in that. But even if the number miraculously comes up, I still plan to deliver this baby unmedicated.  So now we’re just waiting for baby Brown to decide it’s time to make his/her debut!

    While I’m anxious to no longer be preggo, I’m trying to savor the last days since this is our last baby (at least biologically).  While I don’t always feel great, I have to say that my husband makes me feel confident and beautiful.  I know not all women feel desirable when their belly gets so round, but Scott makes me feel as sexy as ever. Well, and let’s face it, my stomach probably hasn’t been this firm since my last pregnancy. 🙂

    And back to record keeping, I have done an incredibly poor job since Christmas, especially given that this blog annually becomes printed into our family scrapbook.  So I’m working on a month by month review that I’ll post this week, from January to May, which will feature highlights and pictures from the first half of 2012.

    Love to all!

  • May9th


    It’s been no secret on this blog that I’ve often found motherhood to be a challenge (mainly on days when I’m feeling very selfish and deserving).  Particularly at this point of my life, being 35 weeks pregnant and very uncomfortable, the simple requests from my children for juice or a snack or help going potty produce a sigh and grumble in my heart.  This evening, I stumbled upon this post on John Piper’s Desiring God website and felt both validated and encouraged by this mother’s writing.  So I felt compelled to share….hoping you’ll find hope and purpose in her words too.