Project Rachel

Thursday, October 29, 2009

I'm a bit of a hypochondriac.  Okay, I'm a huge hypochondriac.  There was the time two years ago when I was walking with my friend Natalie, and I felt an unusual bulge on the back of my knee/leg.  I reached down to feel the bulge through my jeans, and I freaked out.  I thought I had an abnormal growth or some sort of tumor.  Turns out, it was just a turquoise thong that had gotten stuck in my pant leg in the wash.  

Then, a few months later, I had an unusually sharp pain in the side of my lower abdomen.  I immediately got on Web MD, went through the "symptom checker" and I realized that my appendix was probably getting ready to burst.  I freaked out again!  I was minutes away from heading to the emergency room, when my friend Emily's mom, who's a pharmacist, suggested that I take a warm shower and see how I felt before taking such drastic measures.  Well wouldn't you know, after the shower I felt like a million bucks. 

Finally, just this past week, I thought something was seriously wrong with me.  I've been incredibly tired lately, and I could not figure out why.  I've been sleeping more than 8 hours a night and napping 1-2 hours after work every day.  I started thinking of all the worst case scenarios.  Maybe I have cancer?  I'm probably Anemic. I have mono. No, I probably got bit by a tick while camping a few months ago!  I definitely have Lyme disease.  As you have probably already conjured, my mind gets slightly carried away (okay, extremely carried away) when my health is involved. Finally, I went to see the doctor, and I had my blood tested.  No anemia.  No Lyme disease. No mono. Slightly elevated thyroid levels, but nothing to be too concerned about.  I worried myself into a tizzy.

During my time of anxiously waiting to get my test results back, I did alot of thinking.  I prayed alot, and I came to the realization that worrying gets nothing accomplished.  Nothing!  Easier said than done, right?  I always talk about trusting in the Lord and knowing that He is always good, but at a times like these when I feel that things are out of my control, I begin to worry, moving myself further away from God.  I'm human though, and I'll be the first to admit that trusting in God is not always easy, and practicing what you preach is not exactly easy either.

Back in November of 2004, I gave a speech to our entire school (for a mock presidential debate) about why abortion is morally, ethically, all of the above, etc. wrong.  Later that same night, I went to my best friend, Jena's house, and took my first pregnancy test.  Positive.  Talk about having to practice what you preach!  No, I wasn't ever considering abortion, but for the first time, I realized how a woman could actually think that abortion was necessary.  When I found out that I was pregnant, I felt trapped.  "But I'll never do it again," I pleaded with God.  It would have been so easy to secretly have an abortion and to continue swimming and just living the good life.  Nobody would have ever had to know. But instead, I realized that I had a moral obligation to give life to the child that God created.  (Jeremiah 1: 4-5 The word of the Lord came to me saying, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born, I set you apart") 
I knew that I had to practice what I had been preaching all along. That's big stuff for an immature, irresponsible 18-year-old.  But, somehow, I knew that this is what God wanted me to do.

Here's what the Bible says about abortion: 

Jeremiah 31: 15-17
"A cry of anguish is heard in Ramah--mourning and weeping unrestrained.
Rachel weeps for her children, refusing to be comforted--for her children are dead."

..But now the Lord says, 
"Do not weep any longer, for I will reward you.
Your children will come back to you from the distant land of the enemy.
There is hope for your future," says the Lord. 
"Your children will come again to their own land."

There are so many other examples of abortion throughout the Bible, but I like this one because it clearly shows how, although the slaughter of innocents is sinful and wrong, the children "will come back...from the distant land" and Rachel is comforted in knowing that her slaughtered children will be saved.  This verse offers HOPE and FORGIVENESS to post-abortive women, and guidance to those who are considering it.  We are all human, and yes, we are sinful by nature, but God tells us that He forgives us for our sins. The children will be saved. Doesn't that offer you great hope?  Yes, God is good!

Project Rachel reaches out to all women and men hurting emotionally and spiritually after involvement with abortion.  This ministry helps heal your wounded relationships with yourself, your child, and God.  Extending God's compassion, unconditional love, and forgiveness, Project Rachel offers hope and peace.
To find the location of the nearest Project Rachel near you, 
click HERE.  

"You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." Genesis 50:20

Sights and Sounds at the NC State Fair

Monday, October 26, 2009

As I mentioned in my previous post, I volunteered to man the North Carolina Right to Life booth at the NC State Fair yesterday.  What an awesome experience!  Here are some sights and sounds that I observed:

1) Many passerbys were intrigued by our "fetal development" display, which showed four realistic looking fetuses at different stages, (immediately after conception, 4 weeks old, 3 months old, 20 weeks old, etc.)

2) While observing the fetal development display, one woman said to her boyfriend, "I never knew that a human life could be so tiny!" Yes, girlfriend, you got it.

3) Pregnant women walked up to fetal development display and exclaimed excitedly, "I'm this far along!" while pointing to various fetuses.  I could feel their excitement, and that's exciting to me. 

4) Young boy was looking at fetal development display with his mother. Boy says, "Where dey're clothes be, mom? Those babies are naked in there."  Mom can't stop laughing and finally replies, "Babies don't have clothes on, Jamal!"  Boy exclaims, "You mean I wasn't born with no clothes?  That's gross!"

5) Engaging in an interesting discussion with a pro-life family.  The woman proceeded to ask me about which mascara I use, and I told her Maybelline Full 'n Soft.  She pulled out her own mascara and asked me to show her how to apply it properly so as to get her lashes long and curled.  Before I knew it, the pro-life display miraculously turned into a make-up booth.  I showed her how to turn the wand backwards while applying it to her eyelashes, and then I quickly moved on.  Gosh, I love people.

6) Inappropriate man commenting on the bumper sticker that read, "Abortion Causes Breast Cancer."  He suggested that we have a new bumper sticker made that should read, "Stay Pregnant, You're Breasts Will Be Larger."  I told him I would promptly pass that bumper sticker request along to the Right to Life president.

7) More than 10 whole pages of signatures received for the petition to make sure that taxpayer money is not used to fund abortion in any health care bill.  Ahh, success.

8) Morality/Ethics discussion with three male college students.  I liked listening to their points, especially that it should be a woman's right to choose, but I think I forced them to think harder about the issue, by explaining that the Declaration of Independence states that we are guaranteed the rights that are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.  Without the first right, "the right to life," there are no other rights an individual can enjoy. Individuals have rights only to the extent that their rights do not infringe on the rights of others. 

9) For the first hour, I was the only person working our booth.  As I grew more and more parched, I noticed that my booth was near another booth which had a large display of trickling water.  Isn't that so typical? My boyfriend came to the rescue with H2O just in the nick of time.  Then he helped me man the booth.  Yeah, I know, he's awesome. 

10) After 3 hours of work, tired feet, butter pecan ice cream, hamburgers, french fries, a variety of mullets in all shapes and sizes, and carnies galore, we finally got to enjoy the Eric Church concert later that night.  Eric Church had a broken foot, but that certainly didn't stop him from jamming out. He made a grand entrance by crutching onstage and hobbling around.  Priceless.

In light of the State Fair theme, I'm going to leave you with some of my favorite haircut pictures of all time.

NC State Fair Tomorrow

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Working the Triangle Right to Life booth at the North Carolina State Fair tomorrow....stop by our booth if you have a chance! 3-6 Sunday afternoon. Hope to see you all there!

Triangle Right to Life Website
Triangle Right to Life Blog

Bloggers Who Have Influenced Me

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Open Adoption Roundtable is a series of occasional writing prompts about open adoption. It's designed to showcase of the diversity of thought and experience in the open adoption community. You don't need to be part of the Open Adoption Bloggers list to participate, or even be in a traditional open adoption. If you're thinking about openness in adoption, you have a place at the table.

Here is Open Adoption Roundtable Writing Prompt #8:
Write about a blogger (or bloggers) who influenced your real-life open adoption and how. It might be someone who became an offline friend who supports and challenges you. Or a writer who makes you uncomfortable, but gets you thinking. Maybe a blogger who doesn't even know you are reading. Tell us about them and how they've affected you.

Okay, this is me now, Amstel, Stellie, The Amster, Amsters, Ames, Amiss, Maxima, Amakiss, what have you.  I decided to jump in on this Open Adoption Roundtable writing prompt because I've enjoyed reading the responses of some of the previous Open Adoption Roundtables.  They definitely make for some great discussion.  Okay, so a blogger who has influenced me....hmmmm.  This one's tough. I can't say that there has been just one blogger who has influenced me.  I am pleasantly surprised by the sheer number of people who are blogging about adoption in general.  Whether it be birthmoms, adoptive parents, adoptees, or families considering adoption, the stories about adoption on the Internet are plentiful (okay, you're right, I just wanted to find a way to use the word plentiful), interesting, and unique.  I have been influenced by every single adoption story that I have read.

I think I have been most influenced, however, by bloggers who have a negative view of adoption.  Bloggers who are opposed to adoption (natural family advocates) have influenced be because I never heard of any person who was opposed to adoption before.  I thought everyone would embrace my decision with open arms and realize that it was in fact a selfless act, not a selfish one.  After reading some comments from natural family advocates, I began to question my own decision.  Am I selfish?  Is Deanna going to hate me forever?  Is she going to have psychological issues, anxiety, depression, etc. as she gets older as a result of the adoption?  When I read more into these natural family advocates' blogs, I have to admit that I actually considered the "what ifs" alot more.  I thought about a worst case scenario of Deanna growing to resent me as she gets older, and I began to wonder if this could turn out to be a real scenario.

Then I turned back to the reason I chose open adoption for Deanna in the first place -- my faith.  Since the beginning of my pregnancy, I have relied on God to help me through this difficult open adoption journey.  "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord. "Plans to prosper and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11.  When I was in the hospital, signing the adoption papers, I made a deal with God.  I told Him that I would follow through with the adoption, as I believe He asked me to do all along, if He could promise that I would not regret my decision.  Ever faithful, He has not let me down.

I am thankful that there are so many different blogs out there about adoption because each one I come across educates me more about the decision I have made.  I love learning other people's perspectives, regardless of whether they are pro-adoption or not.  Each day, I learn something new about adoption, and I love that.  I am so thankful for bloggers with positive adoption stories to share, such as Heart Cries, the story of two Rebekas, Stephanie Jinelle's Journey, Andee Leigh, and The Story of A Girl.  These blogs carry me through when I'm having a tough day.  The Story of A Girl is a huge pick-me-up--because this young woman, who was raped in her own apartment and got pregnant, ultimately chose to carry her baby and place her in an adoption with a wonderful family.  She started Birth Mom Missions in an effort to "provide much needed (and often overlooked) service to women who have placed their child for adoption.  They offer guidance before, after, and during the adoption process to all women who ask, regardless of their choices made."  You can't tell me that's not courageous. 

While I'm definitely influenced by positive adoption stories by bloggers, I have been most influenced by those bloggers who oppose adoption because they have forced me to look deeper into my decision and to really come to terms with the "what ifs."  Make no mistake, these bloggers have not changed my mind about open adoption.  I still believe that open adoption has the potential to benefit so many people, including the adoptee, and I still believe, despite the negative stories, that Deanna will thank both Robbie and I someday for the difficult decision that we made.  The negative comments I receive often force me to think harder about other peoples' perspectives, to become more accepting of all views, and most importantly, to reaffirm my belief that I did the best thing I could for Deanna by choosing open adoption and placing her with Don and De.  There is absolutely no argument I have read that has changed the way I feel about open adoption. 

"Once we give our hearts to Christ, believing and trusting in Him alone for salvation, God says we become part of His family-not through the natural process of human conception, but through adoption.  "For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship (adoption).  And by him we cry, 'Abba, Father'" (Romans 8:15). Similarly, bringing a person into a family by means of adoption is done by choice and out of love.  "His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ.  And this gave Him great pleasure" (Ephesians 1:5). As God adopts those who receive Christ as Savior into His spiritual family, so should we all prayerfully consider adopting children into our physical families."
-What does the Bible say about adoption? 



Friday, October 16, 2009

Wow, this is crazy--two posts in one day!  But this video that I just saw warrants a second post.

Please watch this video...I know this woman, and she is amazing. 

Pam's testimony on how her Post Abortion Testimony saved the life of a beautiful baby that she now helps to take care of. 


Holy Moly, 1 in 8?

Wow, I just read an article titled, "Why are 1 of 8 Girls Pregnant at Robeson High?"  Can you guess what the article's about?  Apparently, 115 of the 800 total females at a Chicago high school are pregnant.  That's astounding.  Officials say that the pregnancies are occurring despite prevention talks. What's going on here?

According to the article, officials say that a mix of factors is to blame.  "It can be a lot of things that are happening in the home or not happening in the home...Absentee fathers are another factor."  According to LaDonna Denson and several Robeson students, "parents not talking to teens and, in some cases, the pursuit of public assistance also factor into the pregnancies. Non of them thought they'd be moms at such a young age. They said they have support at home.  But not all girls do.  In fact, some girls get thrown out of the home."  

I think a positive in this story is that 115 women are not having abortions.  That's wonderful news!  But the problem is that teen pregnancy is a scary thing.  No matter how you choose to deal with an unplanned pregnancy as a teenager, no option will be easy.  Adoption, parenting, abortion.  All three choices have lasting consequences.  Once you get pregnant, there is not an "easy way out." I can't help but wonder what type of "pregnancy prevention" this school is doing?  Are they simply telling kids in health class, "don't have sex, don't do this, don't do that?"  Because I heard the exact same thing, and I didn't believe it would happen to me. I thought that birth control was a safe bet.  Obviously, now we all know that I made a wrong assumption. 

I have begun working on a letter to students, a slide show from my pregnancy, and a brochure about teen pregnancy and open adoption.  I think it would be absolutely amazing to be able to speak to these students at Robeson High School, but at the very least I would be more than happy to send them the teen pregnancy prevention materials in hopes that they would use them to educate students.  I'm not sure what the solution to this problem is, but I do know that if I heard someone like myself speaking about my experience with unplanned pregnancy, I believe that I would have made a different decision five years ago.  I think when a teacher or an adult tells a teenager to do something or not do something, it's easy to simply tune that message out.  When a peer or a young adult shares a personal experience, it is sooo much easier to relate to that. 

On another note, I came across a blog called, "After Abortion."  The more I read personal testimony from post-abortive women, and the more I meet and speak with post-abortive women, the more I believe that "abortion is a reflection that we have not met the needs of women" (Feminists for Life).  I read through some of this blog today, and I realized something that I never thought about before: Post-abortive women are afraid to speak out against abortion because they fear being shunned by both pro-lifers and pro-choicers.  What an excellent point!  When pro-life people bash women who have had abortions, they are only adding salt to the wound.  There is not reason to shun them; after all, don't we all make mistakes?  Redemption.  Post-abortive women are the people who have so much power because they have personal testimony about the lasting emotional, psychological, traumatic effects of abortion.  For example, Annie's Story, Pamela's Story, and Deanna's Story all share their personal accounts of how abortion has impacted their lives.  How wonderful it is that these women have had the courage to share their stories and to tell the truth about abortion.  

Deanna says that her blog "is a vehicle to express my opinions on choice as a woman who has been on both sides and now sees no other way but to recognize that LIFE is immediate and not to be discriminated against due to how early his/her development is. Life is a gift from God and His to give or take, not ours.....We do believe that God forgives and offers a momentum to post-abortive women to healing.  It is a process and different for each woman but my hopes are to make sure that if women don't feel they can ever tell another soul about their abortion experience, then at least they can view these videos and posts and identify with my experience knowing that they are not alone and that healing is theirs for the taking as well."

I think it's time that we stop shunning people for their mistakes, actions, sins, etc.  We are all sinners, we are all human beings, and we are all subject to temptation and sin.  We have no authority to judge others, to shun, or to criticize.  Let's leave the judgment up to God, and let's concentrate on working together to protect the innocent human life that He created. 

And now, I'd like to leave you with a stupendous video that I made with the help of Julia & Mary Beth Leonard to help you all prepare for the North Carolina State Fair this year:

Funny Thankfuls at the NC State Fair


Public Speaking, Educating & Such

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Last night, I had the amazing opportunity to speak with a group of adults in the Stephen Ministry Continuing Education Program at Grace Community Church in North Raleigh.  Stephen Ministry is a program that equips lay persons to provide distinctly Christian care to individuals who are experiencing all kinds of life needs and circumstances. Stephen Ministers are a group of gifted and dedicated volunteers whose mission is to provide personal, confidential, and caring support for a wide variety of concerns.  

I always get nervous before I speak to a group of people about open adoption.  I'm not sure why, but I'm always afraid that I'll blank out and forget the rest of the story.  I have this incredible fear that I'll be talking and suddenly I won't be able to remember what happened next.  It's silly, since I actually lived my experience, but nonetheless, something that makes me really nervous and anxious. 

I've learned that prayer has an amazing power to calm fears.  I prayed yesterday that God would help me to find the exact words to say to get the point across about open adoption--and He did!  The Lord has shown me time and time again that He is always good and that He is in always control.  I can only leave it up to Him to guide me in educating others about open adoption.  Blogging is easy for me.  I just isolate myself with a computer and a cup of coffee and words just start coming out.  Public speaking is different because all eyes are on you, and you have to speak about your sins and mistakes to a group of complete strangers.  "Hi guys, I got pregnant out of wedlock five years ago" isn't really the best way to start a speech.  Although it would be pretty funny if I did.  Last night was the first time that I feel as if my story flowed logically and naturally.  I wasn't nervous after I began, and the audience was intrigued and very interested.  I got lots of great questions and I even remembered to bring my gigantic book of pictures from the day Deanna was born up until present day Deanna Dollar.  I felt the presence of the Lord, and it was awesome.

I really enjoy speaking to people in a small, intimate setting like the high school class at Broughton and the adults at Stephen Ministry.  I like to simply sit in a chair, surrounded by my audience, and just speak from the heart.  I run into trouble when I'm given a microphone and a large audience that expects me to stand up.  A few weeks ago, I was asked to give a personal testimony about my experience with open adoption after a pro-life play in Cary.  I stood up with the microphone and looked out at a sea of about 200 faces staring at me.  Yikes!  Let me go home now!  Have you ever had a word vomit?  You know, when words just start coming out and you can't stop them?  That's what happened to me.  I can't remember exactly what I said, but I remember feeling very faint and light-headed.  What I actually said was probably somewhere along the lines of, "I..errrr...uuuuhhh, hhhh...hhhhh...hhhhheeeelllo. Welcome welcome welcome welcome!" I do remember that I forgot to mention what Robbie and I are doing now, the fact that I have started a birthmom blog, and some pretty major details of our story. I think the audience got the point, but this whole personal testimony thing has just been a huge learning experience for me.  I'm still learning how to let go of my fears and to stop worrying about making everything perfect.  Yes, I'm still a recovering perfectionist.

I'm thinking of starting a program for high school students to educate them about the consequences of teen sex.  I loved the class of high school students I spoke to at Broughton, and it has really inspired me to think of new ways to reach out to young people.  I want it to be different than just standing up and telling my story, though.  I want it to be unique, memorable, and more than someone coming to tell students, "don't do this!"  A video would be awesome, but I'd need some help. 
Anyone have any good ideas? 

Pictures from the State game this weekend:

You've gotta love the Family Circus classics...

Open Adoption Resources

Friday, October 9, 2009

I've been getting sort of overwhelmed with social media lately.  Between my three email accounts, Facebook , Twitter, Blogspot, and LinkedIn, I've become sort of lackadaisical in terms of social media lately.  Sometimes I feel like there is SOOOO much information that trying to keep up with the latest gadgets and networks is nearly impossible.  I've been doing alot of research on the Internet about open adoption lately, and I have found that there is significantly more information about open adoption than there was even a few weeks ago.  Everyday there are more articles, research, and blogs about adoption, and it has been rather overwhelming to try and keep up with everything.  Whew!  Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the Internet?

Regardless of the overwhelming factor, I think the Internet definitely serves as a spectacular way to network and communicate with people whom you would never have had the opportunity to come in contact with otherwise.  I also think that the more you research something (like adoption) the more credible you are when educating others about it and talking about it.  Anyway, I've some up with a list of awesome adoption and open adoption resources.  If you are interested in learning more about adoption and open adoption, browse through the links below and notify me if you find any other great websites.  

In no particular order:
  • Open Adoption Solutions
  • Open Adoption Examiner

"In order to hear My voice, you must release all your worries into My care. Entrust Me to everything that concerns you....Accept each day just as it comes to you, remembering that I am sovereign over your life. Rejoice in this day that I have made, trusting that I am abundantly present in it. Instead of regretting or resenting the way things are, thank Me in all circumstances. Trust Me ad don't be fearful; thank Me and rest in my sovereignty." 
-Jesus Calling


Adventures in the Hospital

Thursday, October 8, 2009

I came across an awesome blog a few days ago.  It's similar to my blog in that it's about a birthmother's journey, but the amazing thing is that this extraordinary 19-year-old woman has been blogging throughout her entire pregnancy and she just placed her baby in an adoption two weeks ago!  All of her emotions are so fresh and so real.  Reading her blog sort of makes me wish that I had thought to blog or even to just write privately about my experience during the pregnancy.  I started blogging this past February because 1) I didn't want to ever forget what I had been through 2) I wanted to help others to understand open adoption by sharing our story and 3) I wanted Deanna to be able to read it someday knowing that Robbie and I made this decision because we loved her sooooo much. So check this girl's amazing blog....

 Stefanie Jinelle's Journey

Reading Stefanie's blog really takes me for a trip down memory lane.  Really!  Just looking at her hospital pictures reminded me of how I felt in the hospital after little babe was born. Here's what happened during my experience at the hospital on July 11, 2005.  I'm very apprehensive of needles, and since I chose to have an epidural, the nurse gave me drug to relax me before the epidural (an epidural is a numbing drug that is administered through a gigantic needle which is placed in the spine.)  The relaxing drug gave me the giggles.  I went from groaning in pain from the contractions to hysterically laughing and telling ghost stories.  Don likes to remind me of this -- Don came into my hospital room as soon as we arrived at the hospital, and he asked how I was feeling.  I was in ALOT of pain, and he could tell. About 30 minutes later, I received the relaxing drug, and as De and Don sat in the waiting room, they heard hysterical laughter coming from down the hallway.  Don tiptoed around the corner and he heard the laughter get louder.  The laughter was coming from my room. He poked his head in, and he asked Robbie and Mary Beth what had happened.  Robbie told him that I received relaxing drug to prepare me for the epidural, and I proceeded to share a series of nonsensical jokes and ghost stories with Don, Robbie, MB and the rest of the hospital staff.  

If you know anything about epidurals, they completely numb you from the waist down.  Unfortunately, this meant that I couldn't really feel the "pushing" part of delivery.  People always ask me, "did the labor hurt?"  No, it really didn't at all!  I couldn't feel a thing--which was the problem.  Since I was numb, I couldn't really tell how hard I was pushing.  I probably would have been better off without the epidural because the delivery would be much faster.  More painful yes, but much faster too!  Anyway, Dr. Anthony kept encouraging me to push harder.  "I am!" I said, although I couldn't really tell.  After 5 hours of labor, he looked at me with a stern look above his bifocal lenses and said, "if you do not push harder, I am going to get the suction machine."  The whatttt?!?!?!?!?  "Okay, okay!  I'll try, I'll try!" I pleaded.  And Deanna was born a few minutes later.  Amazing what intimidation and scare tactics can do.

Don and De were behind a curtain in the delivery room, and the minute Deanna was born Dr. Anthony exclaimed, "happy anniversary of the slushie!"   (It was 7/11, apparently the anniversary of the slushie was on July 11th.)  We always thought that was a little strange. How did he know that?  And why didn't he exclaim, "ten fingers and ten toes, it's a girl!"  Then, immediately after the slushie comment, (keep in mind that Don and De were still behind the curtain) Robbie exclaimed, "what's wrong with her head?"  Babies tend to have misshaped heads when they travel through the birth canal, and this concerned Robbie, who didn't know that her head would eventually go back to it's "normal" shape.  All of these silly debacles make for some great delivery room tales. 

The nurses at the hospital were so incredibly understanding of our situation.  We far exceeded the maximum amount of visitors allowed per day, our family members seriously violated the hospital's visiting hours rule, and Robbie, De, and I all shared a hospital room together. All of these things were strictly frowned upon, but there were soooooooo many people who wanted to meet Deanna, and the nurses were especially sensitive to the adoption situation that was occurring.  They sort of turned a blind eye to all of our violations. The only time that they actually tried to enforce the rules is when the Leonard girls brought a huge box of fudge sickles and things got out of hand.

Our hospital adventures, although incredibly difficult and emotionally tumultuous, are some of my favorite memories.  Yes, I was heartbroken and so incredibly sad, but there are so many funny stories that came with that experience.  And the fact that I'm able to remember them all and smile is a pretty good sign.

Making Friends After Baby

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

So one of my previous blog posts was about dating after baby. My dear friend Natalie has requested a blog post about making friends after baby and their reactions to finding out that I'm actually a baby mama. Great topic NatBras!

It was very difficult for me to make friends after I had Deanna because 1) I was depressed and 2) because I was in a brand new environment (the southern reg) and things are wayyyy different down here. I was still trying to find my comfort zone and figure out what the south was all about.

Eventually, I made some absolutely amazing friends at Meredith College and I came to fit into the southern lifestyle just fine, but the difficult part was actually finding people who I was not only compatible with, but who would also accept me for what I have been through. That's tricky. I struggled with a delicate balance of wanting to share everything about Deanna and what I had just gone through, but not at the expense of scaring potential friends off. I didn't want to be "the girl who had the baby" at first meet, you know? I just wanted to be Amy Hutton for once...or at least until these potential friends got to know me better.

When I first started college, I remember trying to decide whether or not to put Deanna's picture around my dorm room. When new visitors would drop by my room to introduce themselves, they would often exclaim, "Aww that's such a cute baby! Who is it?" Uh-oh. She's my....dauuuuuu.... uhhh...niece! She's my niece." The story changed a few times. That's when I became a really good recreational liar. I didn't want to lie, I really didn't...but I didn't want to have to explain everything a million times and have people judge me. I avoided the scrutiny at all costs, so I came up with a different story every time. The recreational lie thing became a great defense mechanism. Sometimes it was fun. "She's my second cousin, twice removed." "She's my friend's baby." (which was true...De was a friend and Deanna was actually De's baby.) I was satisfied with that story because it was more of a recreational lie than a blatant lie and I didn't feel quite so guilty. As you can probably gather, I was not in my right mind. Come to think of it, I was probably even a little crazy.

During the first two weeks of school at Meredith College, the Leonards invited me to a big family dinner at their house. Don, De, and Deanna were also going to be there. Deanna was less than a month old. Mrs. Leonard (MB) asked me to bring a few of my friends for a nice home-cooked meal. I sort of laughed, "what friends?" But I did have a few people in mind. I didn't know these girls well at all, but I took a leap of faith and asked three of them to accompany me to the Leonards house for dinner. I was a little nervous since the baby was going to be there, and I didn't know how my potential friends would react to all these random people. I never told them my relationship to the Dollars except that they were just "family friends." My potential friends absolutely adored the newborn babe, and it's funny looking back to think that they never knew that she was the fruit of my loins! Of course, they all know about little babe now, but they never suspected anything at the time and that's somewhat amusing to me.

I can't remember which friend I confided in first about little babe, but I do know that each of my friends are sooooo incredibly accepting and they absolutely love little babe. I remember about a year ago, after a night on the town with my friends, we stood outside of the bar waiting for a cab.  It was raining, and I looked to my left and saw a magazine stand with free copies.  I grabbed a copy of whatever publication happened to be inside the case to shield my luscious locks from the rain.  Carolina Parent. A random drunk guy looked at me, looked at the magazine, and asked, "Are you a Carolina Parent?"  He was obviously joking and had no idea about what I had gone through.  I thought about it.  Then I replied, "Why, yes, I am."  He didn't believe me, and the baffled look on his face was priceless. He didn't understand why my friends and I could not stop laughing.

The fact that I'm a baby mama is not something that I immediately disclose to new people, but it's not something that I try to hide anymore either. I think part of growing up is being comfortable with who you are and what you've gone through. As a freshman in college, I was neither of those two things, hence the reason for the recreational lies. Today, however, I am both comfortable with who I am and what I've gone through. Cliche, yes, but I'm a stronger and better person because of it. I'm so thankful that my former "potential friends" have now become some of my best friends, and it's so nice to be able to share such an important part of my life with them.

And now some pictures of Deanna's amazing gymnastics debut!