Taking Care- Personal Care Assistants, Care Taking and the Husband-Wife Relationship

November 29, 2010 at 2:09 pm | Posted in Around the House, Megan's Blogs, Ramblings, The Nitty-Gritty | 1 Comment
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Relaxing with the dogs.

Relaxing with the dogs.

We’ve received some inquiries recently about how I take care of Barton, which are great questions. But I thought this would be a good time to dispel some myths and open the discussion for care taking in a marriage. While we all like to think that our partnerships are 50/50% equal, most likely- they are not. And the balance on who is holding the weight fluctuates according to what is going on at the time. We each need different things at different points in our marriage (disability or not).

Every inter-ability marriage is different, so before sharing our perspective and experience, we want to be assured that in the end, you and your partner must find your own way that works for you.

In our relationship, it is essential that as much as possible Barton and I honor the husband-wife relationship as being separate from actual caretaking that he or I may need.

Certainly, Barton needs help in the morning bathing, dressing, basic hygiene, and we either find private personal care assistants, organizations or even friends to help fill this role. Over the years, Barton has had a number of personal care assistants, and he runs this process from interviewing, hiring, reviewing and in some cases firing assistants. It is an on-going process that must be maintained, and while it is not always easy, Barton values having someone other than me heading up this role.

We are also aware of the times when I do help Barton get up in the morning- how that affects my day- physically, time, and energy level. In addition, we have found that it very subtle ways it affects our connection as husband and wife, so we work very hard to keep me out of the sole care giving role.

Perhaps the bigger question is how we define care taking in a marriage. We would argue that there are many other forms of taking care of each other in our marriage.

Picking up dinner, running errands, grocery runs, bank deposits and other daily tasks is one area that when I am having a bad day or crazy week, Barton takes over- and I can’t tell you what a blessing it is. On a particularly difficult day, Barton emailed me a poem he had written, and I will say it was exactly what I needed at the time. Allowing myself to become vulnerable and fall into Barton’s arms is another. A reminder to do meditation or to take time out for ourselves so that we can find our center is also a vital part of care taking.

I am pulling out all of the things that Barton does for me, to take care of me because most people wouldn’t even consider it when they comment, “You are so good to have married him.” I want to say, “I am so blessed to have Barton,” but I know that explaining how or why will fall short.

Our methods and systems will shift, when we have a child someday, as we grow older, if something happened to me. But we will figure it out, in a way that honors the care taking we both need in our marriage.

Calm Waters- Celebrating Our Sixth Wedding Anniversary

November 16, 2010 at 7:22 pm | Posted in Megan's Blogs, Our Love Story | Leave a comment
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Barton and Megan celebrating their sixth wedding anniversary!

Barton and Megan celebrating their sixth wedding anniversary!

Last year, we thought we would do something so special for our anniversary. We decided to take a week off (the only week of the year) to celebrate our fifth year anniversary on Hattaras Island. Little did we know that after the second day, we would be in the middle of two storms systems, flooding on both the ocean and sound side, and an eventual evacuation off of the island by ferry. What an adventure!

This year, we wanted to celebrate, but on a little calmer level. It’s a quick drive over to the shore of the North Carolina coastline, so we spent the weekend on much calmer waters. The weather couldn’t have been more delightful- sunny and cool. We parked ourselves on the veranda just in front of the rolling waves for hours.

We found ourselves acknowledging how far we have grown, individually as well as a couple. The last few months, especially, we have found ourselves being more joyful and playful with each other, and coming to a focused vision on where we are headed has created a lot of excitement to keep going, no matter what the obstacles may be.

Over the weekend, we chilled out- took time out of work, home, family, etc. to acknowledge the place where we are and the challenges we have had to overcome. We see each other differently, I would say with more respect and love- there is a reverence for each other deeper than what we have known.

Over the weekend, we did have conversations about some of the changes in our lives over the last six years- from the move to North Carolina to our work, friendships, and individual work that we’ve done. Not all of it has been easy. But we have found this spark that is dynamic and undeniably delightful.

While there aren’t any wild stories this year, we are reminded that we need to take the time out to reflect and celebrate where we are!

Discerning the Path Toward Adoption

November 9, 2010 at 8:38 am | Posted in Adoption, Megan's Blogs, The Nitty-Gritty | Leave a comment
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Barton fishing with the boys- someday, he'll be a great dad.

Barton fishing with the boys- someday, he'll be a great dad.

When we first learned that we would not be having children biologically, Barton and I were both devastated- we had always pictured having two children, we named them even. We grieved in different ways, with slightly different issues coming up for each of us.

When we first approached adoption, we started off by making calls to different agencies, and we learned an independent adoption agency was within walking distance to our house. We attended an information session where we learned the benefits to open adoption, the costs and process associated with adoption. Adoption is not for the faint of heart- it could be a long process and could take many years with many variables. For a long time, independent open adoption was the only path we considered.

Yet there were still unanswered questions. Potentially, I could go through sperm donation, but as we explored that path, I quickly realized there were just as many issues that would come up with sperm donation than with adoption. The process can be grueling on a woman’s body, and there are still issues surrounding the rights of a biological father. Yet, it was important that each of us explore the different issues that were coming up at different times, and for us to respect where the other one was at in the process.

Most people don’t mention the questions infertility can bring up- does is matter how a baby is created, is the woman’s body considered holy, when & how does a soul come into the body? It’s not only the physical questions that came up, but spiritual, social and relationship questions as well.

There was a point several years ago where I wanted to have a baby “right now,” but Barton wasn’t quite sure. He even questioned whether we should have children or not. As hard as it was to hear, but it was an option we needed to explore. Yet, as our relationship shifted and grew, Barton couldn’t deny that smile and spark that arose when being around children, and wanting to raise a child in our family. He mentioned that if we were going to have children, it was important to him to take care of a child who wouldn’t otherwise have a home, and we talked about the deeper and underlying foundation for his need.

In our case, I also had to look at how there were friends who weren’t supportive of our having children, similar to the concerns of us when we got married. I learned I would need to find support in different places.

Closed adoption, semi-closed adoption, open adoption, international, domestic, independent- how do you decide which path is right for you? We listened to other people’s adoption journeys and researched as much as we could about each path. For example, international adoption would be less feasible because many countries require that you travel to that country, many for week or months at a time, and we wouldn’t be able to do that.

Independent adoption appealed to us as well because in most cases, the birth mother chooses the adoptive family, and it was very important for us not only to respect the birthmother, but to make sure that the birth mother has the ability of choice. Yet, it would be difficult for us to screen any high-risk situations. We have heard that flexibility is key, as the path may change mid-course.

Agencies have different policies as well. Can you believe how shocked I was when I called an agency and they asked what nationality we preferred since the fees were different for different nationalities! (I couldn’t get off the phone fast enough).

I also realized that right away we would need to get life insurance- it was the one issue that came up over and over when I mentioned Barton’s disability. We spent two years working on getting life insurance for Barton (being qualified wasn’t the issue, but it was the research that took so long).

And now, we’re working on the financial end- our least favorite part because if it was up to us, we would have already started the process. The reality is adoption is incredibly expensive, and we have been in a recession with multiple contract changes. And of course if we wait, I am worried that age will at some point be a factor for me.

It was important that each of us be respectful about where the other one was in the process. Now we have come to the place where we both would love to have children and begin the process immediately, but we are working on the list to make sure we go through the home-study without major hurdles to Barton’s disability.

The truth is- we don’t know what will happen, but we are being open to all of the possibilities.

A Dream Delayed, Not Denied

November 1, 2010 at 1:51 am | Posted in Adoption | Leave a comment
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November is National Adoption month, and this month, we’ll be writing about different aspects about adoption. Why is this important? It’s one of our long-term dreams and visions, yet we’re in the process of assessing and overcoming different challenges to move forward, which include a more stable economy, creating a solid support network and the ability to obtain accessibility equipment Barton will need to parent a child.

We all have long-term dreams in our lives, and there are times when we have more challenges or obstacles to climb over to succeed. Barton and I use writing and coaching to work towards our long-term goals. Creative expression or writing allows the space to dream, imagine and play. Using a coach as a resource, we are also given ways to break through our own limiting beliefs preventing us from getting to where we need. How can you work on your long-term dreams and goals?
Here are some simple steps:
• Allow yourself to dream.
• Reminders are important. Whether it’s a vision board or quote notes, surround yourself with reminders of your goals and dreams.
• The “P” word- perseverance.
• Create a support system or find a mentor to cheer you on, create accountability systems and help you overcome obstacles.
• This week, challenge yourself to take one action item toward a long-term dream.

Adoption itself is a long process; it may be several years before we’re able to bring a child in our home. But believing and working toward our dream gives us something to look forward to!

Family For Us Celebrating National Adoption Month and Supporting Barton and Megan Cutter on their adoption journey
The Chris Hendricks Band Benefit Concert
Friday, November 5, 2010
7:00-9:00pm
Amazingtones Falls River Music
1141 Falls River Avenue, 110
Raleigh, NC 27614 (Durant Road and Falls River Avenue)
$10 at the door. More info call 919-389-6423. 
The Chris Hendricks Band, which will be headlining the event has gained growing acclaim as they have opened for Amy Grant tour dates over the summer, are finalists for Deep South’s Battle of the Bands and whose songs are being played during Raleigh Hurricane Hockey Games for the 2011-2012 season. To check out their music, visit www.chrishendricksmusic.com.

Please note that this is a personal fundraising event and for that reason, contributions cannot be deducted for tax purposes. 

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