Saturday, April 23, 2016

Stay at Home Mom

This past week it was confirmed that I am going to be promoted to Stay at Home Mom.  At the start of the school year I had three part time jobs.  I worked 2.5 days a week in one district, 2 days a week in another and .5 days a week in the skilled nursing facility that I had worked for the past five years.  So when Baby Sam was born something had to give.

I quickly realized which of my part time jobs was going first and that was the 2.5 day a week district.  When I was hired I informed them that we had been waiting two years at that point to adopt a baby.  While I realized they were under no obligation to provide me with a maternity leave I would not accept the job unless I could have two weeks off when my baby arrived to settle everyone in.  The plan was for DH to take his paternity leave for three months and then we would figure out child care from there.  They agreed and I accepted the job.

Well we got the call for Baby Sam on MLK Day which was a day off for the district.  I called my boss to inform her that I would be at work Tuesday for a half day and would return for my half day on Friday.  Since I only worked Monday, Tuesday and a half day friday they were only going to be impacted a half day!  She said yes to everything.  She ended the call with "when the baby arrives do what you need to do."  She clearly didn't get it THE BABY WAS BORN!!  So Thursday I e-mailed her and told her I wanted to meet Friday to discuss the plan.  She agreed to the meeting then showed up 30 minutes late and tried to reschedule with me because she had another meeting starting at the time she arrived.  I told her I had not seen Baby Girl in 3 days and I was going home so if she was going to meet... NOW was the time.  She indicated she had NO idea that the baby was already born.  *sigh*  I informed her that I was going to need time off.  She no longer remembered our agreement and they were under no obligation to give me any time off (unfortunately verbal- stupid me).  During our meeting I also informed her that I was considering resigning as it wasn't right for me to take time off then decide to leave permanently.  She told me to think about it over the weekend.  She then proceeded to avoid any communication with me after.  A miracle occurred and during this week of no contact my paychecks started to accrue vacation time (I had previously had 0 hours on my pay checks and was told at 2.5 days a week I didn't qualify).  I finally was able to provide her with a letter of resignation the following week which initially provided her with an open ended end date (stupid me) as its challenging to replace someone mid year.  Long story short I ended up coming to my senses and giving them a 4 week notice (from my letter being submitted).

So then I was down to 2.5 days a week.  I increased my half day up to a full day and was working 3 days a week one being a weekend.

I did the math over and over.  I basically was working 2 work week days to pay for daycare (with a little savings) and my 3rd day on the weekend was where our savings was coming from.  So Monday I'm turning in a letter indicating I dont have plans to renew my contract for the 2016/2017 school year.  I'm torn.  I love my job.  I love what I do.  I make an impact on children's lives and they amaze me each time I go to work.  I'm appreciated by my team mates and I learn from them as well.

I can't however justify paying someone else to care for my child so I can turn around and care for someone else's child.  Being a Stay at home Mom is a JOB.  I'm exhausted at the end of a day with the two of them.  I keep a calendar and a schedule.  We learn things and we play.  I think I work harder when I'm home, but I enjoy it 10 fold because I am not compromising.  I get to see MY kids amaze me.

I am going to continue my Weekend per diem job which is a regular 8 hours every weekend.  I plan to pick up occasional hours during the week and we save only $400 less in a year.  I think it will be worth every dollar.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Adoption and Jail

Adoption is the most amazing thing that has happened to me.  It has allowed me to become a Mom, which otherwise would not have been an option for DH and I.  It is not popular in the adoption world to say but in some cases it is true: the birthparent would never be in a place to parent.  I do not know how often this happens but in our case neither of our children were born to parents that could parent.  For Baby Girl she has shown time and again that she cannot parent- ever.  Baby Sam's birthmom is younger and has exhibited a pattern of never achieving the ability to parent.  While they both struggle to care for themselves they both made decisions that put the well being of their daughters first and their emotional well being second.  Even in the most clear situations in which time after time a birthmother has been unable to change her pattern of self injurious behavior I still believe that the pain of placing a child is just as strong as it is for any other birthmother.

Our girls because of our devotion to age appropriate honesty have learned more about the world then most four year olds and 3 month olds.  Baby Girl is just starting to understand the concept of adoption.  She is just grasping why D couldn't care for her but still loves her SO very much.  She knows the love of her birthfamily and they are as much as our daily conversation as any other member of our family.

We set in motion as we do every January our visit for May.  I unfortunately learned just prior to Baby Girls birthday that D was back in jail.  She was arrested for parole violations in December for shoplifting.  Her birthfamily "forgot" to tell us until midJanuary and I'm sure they were hoping that maybe they wouldn't have to tell us because she would be released quickly.  She has yet to have a court date (thats just crazy to me) but they now believe she will be in jail until at least October maybe even December but that is all a guess.  I proceeded to coordinate our visit with her extended family as we did the first year we visited.  Baby Girl was too young to understand who anyone was let alone that anyone was missing.  This time we knew we were going to have to talk to her about it.

So how to do you talk to a 4 year old about jail and more specifically how do you tell a 4 year old their birthmom is in jail?  Each morning Baby Girl would wake up and ask if today was the day we drove to D's house.  Each morning I'd remind her that we were driving to Mom-mom and Pop-Pops house.  Each morning I was reminded that I needed to talk to her.  Each morning I was fearful of the cascading implications of this conversation.

I was fortunate to be able to talk through the conversation with a post placement social worker at our agency.  We talked about how since DH is a police officer we have been very conscious about NEVER calling the people he deals with "bad guys."  They are instead people who have made bad choices.  Jail has never been for "bad people" but instead "a place where grownups take time by themselves."  I'm constantly battling our influence at home with the world around her.  Clearly preschoolers are into "bad guys" who go to "jail" and their families don't have to frame the conversation any way other than the way the media does: good guys vs bad guys.  They dont have the complexities my family does.  She assired me we laid a strong foundation and my gut was right we needed to tell her.

So tonight was the night we agreed to talk to her since she will be home for 3-4 days and it hopefully would decrease the chance that she would tell people at school.  We also wanted to do it together.  DH reminded her of our trip.  He reminded her of all the people that love her in her birthfamily.  He listed the people that would be at our visit and then told her that D would not be there.  "oh, why." was her response.  DH invited me to explain further.  I reminded her that D loves her SO much and that im sure she is sad she wont be there, but that she broke a grown up rule and was spending time by herself.  "shes in jail?" she asked.  I have never been so happy to have a smart 4 year old that can say the hard things for me.  Jail was the one word that was hard to say.  "yes she is in jail."  I responded.

We answered her questions at an age appropriatly as we could.  I did lie in saying that I didnt know what she was in jail for but that she had broken a grown up rule.  We explained about judges and how they decide how long people stay.  Yes the door is locked.  We dont know if she cried but we assured her she was sad for missing out on things like our visit.  Baby girl was certain her heart was broken and wanted to send her 100 hearts.  I'm sad yet impressed by the maturity of my 4 year old.  Tomorrow we will work on a way to send 100 hearts to jail and I'll then have to find the words to tell a grown up that I told her biodaughter she was in jail.

In the end I care just as much about hurting Baby Girl in risking altering her perception of who her Birthmom is.  She is not a bad person but rather an adult that made bad choices. Choices that hurt herself and those around her.  I still admire her strength and love for our daughter.

She Was Born That Way

Before Baby Sam was in the hospital we took our first family trip to the pool.  Baby Girl started swimming as soon as we got home from the hospital.  Spring break was the following week so I was going to be home with two kids alone.  Since I planned to take Baby Girl swimming I wanted to see if I could manage both kids in/out of the pool with DH as back up in case it all fell apart.

Baby Girl, Baby Sam and I all went to the locker room together.  We successfully changed into our swimsuits and managed to make it out to the pool where DH was already waiting.  There were two other families there already.  The little girl made a bee line for Baby Sam as we got into the pool.  She wanted to touch her and talk to her and tell me all about her life.  Mom and I chatted mom pleasantries.  She mentioned how she couldn't imagine starting over after 4 years (since Baby Girl had told her how old she was).  I brushed it off saying how nice it is to have a big helper.  This is another post all togther but I honestly couldn't have planned the age difference more perfectly myself and since I had no ability to truly plan my childrens age gap I'm really fortunate.  I digress....

The other Mom and her daughter became distracted and moved away.  DH and I chatted, Baby Sam relaxed in the pool and Baby Girl was swimming.  Suddenly I heard "How did she get that way?"  I at first didn't know who she was talking to since the conversation had ended and it was an abrupt question.  I acknowledged she had been talking and she then asked "How did she get that way?  You know where did she get her skin tone from."  I was so unprepared but fortunately her daughter was excitedly telling me about how she was turning 3.  I responded to the mom "I know isn't she beautiful?" then turned to her daughter and became equally excited about her 3rd birthday.  I made no further eye contact with Mom and Baby Sam began to fuss so I got her out to feed her.

I was pissed- why didn't I know what to say?  what is it that makes this woman think she can ask?  After further reflection I realize my anger is elevated by the fact that I don't know.  I could have had some witty answer of from her father, I dont know what you are talking about, etc.  Really though that question of where her brown skin comes from- I dont know.  I dont know what her birthfather looks like and neither does anyone else.  He is an unknown male that my daughters birthmom likely traded sex for drugs.  Her conception wasn't out of love but out of lust for a drug that overtook her birthmoms life.  A drug that has overtaken our country.  An epidemic that started 15 years ago but we finally are acknowledging.  A problem that benefited the drug companies and the prescribing physicians too long and now my child suffers the consequences.  Her brown skin is flawless, her deep brown eyes twinkle, and her black hair is soft.  I dont know what her ethnicity is besides German, Irish and Polish.  Thats not what people see though.  They see a brown girl that doesn't fit into my family.  I stewed while I fed her.

As I fed her a water aerobics class let out.  The older women in their not so perfect skin made their way out of the pool.  Some of them admired us without any words.  Many of them wanted to know how old this small nugget was- 6 weeks.  Over and over I was told how beautiful she was and over and over I was told how fast it would all go.  One woman pointed to a younger woman about my own mothers age- it goes by fast; that is my baby.

When we were in the locker room Baby Sam wasn't happy.  She isn't a fan of getting dressed.  She prefers to spend her time naked.  Baby Girl was amazing at getting ready to go.  From the peanut gallery the Mom from the pool snarked "Oh she is crying because she is cold."  I continued to ignore her.  I just had a parade of older Moms come out of the pool commending my willingness to get my girl into the water early.

Once home I wanted to talk to Baby Girl about the pool conversation.  I wasn't sure if she had heard or not.  We have talked many many times that her birth brother/sister would not look like her since they have different birthparents.  Looking different is OK because love is what makes up a family.  We talked about how sometimes other people might not believe her that her blonde hair blue eyed self is related to whomever her sister/brother would be.  Now that we know that her sister is brown we have talked about the differences people might see but all of the similarities that I see about them.  The conversation about the pool was as follows:
Me: Baby Girl did you hear what that mom asked about Baby Sam?
Baby Girl: No (preoccupied)
Me: She wanted to know where Baby Sam got her Brown skin.
Baby Girl looks up at me with an odd look:  She was born that way.  (and twirls away)
Me: Why didn't I think of that!  I need a hug.  (to which she humored me).

If only we could all be so simple.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016


A simple cold is how it all started.  No one else was sick in the house except DH who had a stuffy nose and a raw throat.  The Saturday his brother and his family were visiting BabySam started to have difficulty with eating.  She was gaging and sputtering which she hadn't done in a while.  Sunday she progressed to the point where she slept in the baby swing and I slept on the floor next to her.

Monday I noted mid-afternoon that she wasn't eating well and I had started to wake her up for feedings.  She didn't have a fever- just a cold and not much interest in eating.  DH being a worry wart told me to call the doctors. I left a message with the nurse: no fever, low intake of food, stuffy nose, but still had wet diapers.  She was premature after all, her lips were getting dry, and she was more lethargic.  The nurse told me to come in "just in case."  So I did.  The doctor checked her out and noted her respiration rate was up.  she almost sent us home when something made her take a second look.  "I'm going to send you up to the ER.  They will likely place her on observation for the night and send you home."  Its just a cold I thought.

The intake nurse at the hospital wasn't worried.  Her respiration rate was elevated but she had a stuffy nose.  Her O2 saturations were normal.  She made me feel silly for coming in.

By 8PM that night I was settling into what felt like a jail cell.  A bed, a crib, a tv on the wall.  The door was closed because we were in isolation.  She had just come back with a positive RSV test.  The nurse was rude and I wanted to cry.  The nurse offered to feed her while I moved my car and got something to eat.  When I returned my baby was sleeping with nothing but a diaper on and wrapped in an old blanket from my diaper bag.  Oh I forgot to mention in the ER they put an IV in her HEAD!  So that night I struggled.  I put her down she cried.  I picked her up she slept.  I moved her and alarms went off.  The hat kept slipping off her head and I struggled to keep her untangled while putting the hat back on to keep her IV in place.  The nurse was annoyed that I kept setting off alarms.  At some point around 2AM her IV pulled out.  I honestly dont know if she did it or if I did it but somehow we managed to get blood everywhere.  Sometime around 3AM I asked the doctor since she was on monitors if she could lay on my chest so that we both could sleep.  Every 2 hours someone was in doing something and before I knew it 7AM arrived and so did change of shift and the parade of doctors started.

At my bedside was my least favorite of our three pediatricians.  Another night was going to be needed, but she was "moving in the right direction."  Another IV was placed later in the day.  This IV was poorly placed and by the end of the day had come out.  She was listless and having damp diaper.  She was grey and not her beautiful brown.  The staff kept telling me how pretty she was and I kept telling them how grey she was.  They didn't get it.

At some point in these days her first nurse came back and told me she didn't realize BabySam was adopted that first night.  She knew about her NAS and it "didn't add up."  For me what added up was how rude she was to me.  How she was OK with leaving my baby wrapped in a dirty old blanket naked in a crib alone.  She didn't apologize but she did acknowledge her assumptions which I guess was half the battle.  As a practitioner we all have jumped to conclusions based on our biases we have.  I understand that but I try to keep my biases to myself.  I treat my patients all as if they are my family because that is the level of care every person deserves.  I did at least acknowledge how I understood how she could come to her bias.  I also told her she wasn't the only one thus far and that at least I appreciated her sharing that with me.  I didn't tell her it was OK though- because its not- ever OK.  My girl deserved the best care that nurse could provide because any transgressions I have as a parent have nothing to do with my daughter.  In this case the transgression she though I had didn't even apply to me- but thats not the point.

That night she dropped in her 02 saturations for the first time meaning she wasn't getting enough oxygen.  They placed her on 02.  By morning she perked up again.  The doctors begrudgingly placed another IV because she was "having good diaper" and was still drinking.  That afternoon she had only taking in 8 oz- in what world is it OK for a baby to go 14 hours with only 8 oz of intake.  When the evening staff came in at 7 I was happy it was the same team that had been with her the final two nights.  She was clearly decling to me but to the day staff they were feeling like she was improving.  The evening staff decided to move her to the pediatric ICU (PICU).

Again we transitioned. This time I sat on a cot next to her huge bed with so many monitors and wires I didn't know what was what (remember I work in health care).  Again I felt overwhelmed.  The new treatment she was getting was one step away from intubation (what I learned later was she was really hours away from intubation).  She finally looked comfortable- her chest wasn't pulling and labored for each breath she took.  The next two days she slowly weaned off of the breathing treatment and oxygen.

We again were transferred back up to the pediatric floor.  The team was stand offish.  I'm not sure if its because they were unaware of her adoption status (which really shouldn't matter) or if they were just overwhelmed with how busy the floor was - I will never know.  She clearly was in pain.  She finally had enough fight in her that every 10-15 minutes she was crying and I was putting her nuk back into her mouth.  At sometime around 3:30 AM she vomited everywhere because she was coughing so hard.  Our pediatrician was very firm with me the day prior that she didnt allow tylenol for babies under 2 months at home as it could "mask a fever"  I get that but my baby still feels pain.  She may not remember this episode 2 years from now but currently she still feels pain.  When she came in that morning I told her that I though she was ready to go home but we were going to need an order for Tylenol.  She was agreeable.  I am not sure if the nurses had told her what I told them - I wasn't going anywhere without an order for Tylenol.

Baby Girl nearly knocked me over in excitement when BabySam came home.  She held her and gave her a check up.  Once content that she was OK she moved on again.  She clearly has a new love for her sister that I though already was strong.  I think this experience made her realize how much she loves her.

So its all behind us now.  Over all our experience was amazing.  We had one nurse that was an adoptive mom herself.  The Ronald McDonald House room at the hospital provided me with coffee, showers, and company.  Our night team was amazing and I credit for preventing the need for intubation.  We had our hiccups along the way like our initial nurse or the nurse that told me "she looks asian, not oriental asian, but maybe Indian Asian- you know?"  We also had some amazing experiences like my in-laws came up for the final weekend which allowed DH to visit saturday afternoon and be there at discharge on sunday.

The moral of this story is for a premature little girl there is no such things as a little cold.  Pale is different for brown babies and its important to continue to repeat yourself until someone listens (even if the other 10 people think you are crazy it just tasks one person to listen).  I have an amazing family and two awesome little girls.  I love being home and sleeping in my own familiar bed.  I dont mind hearing her cry and I'm glad to see her feisty self back.

We are Home

We arrived home at 2AM Febuary 7th.  A coworker form a previous job paid for a plane ticket for me to fly down Feb 6th.  I purchased and flew out the same day.  I arrived in PA around noon and couldn't get to the hospital fast enough.  Baby Girl discharged from the hospital at 6:45 PM which cleaerly annoyed the nurse she had for discharge since change of shift occured at 7PM. We needed to change/feed her as we were not expecting to discharge until 8PM.  Hospital policy is that a baby can't leave the NICU in the arms of a parent and so the nurse had to stay to provide the transport from the unit to the car.

We hit traffic right away and she wasn't a fan of stop go traffic.  She clearly was still having some symptoms of withdrawal but nothing that required additional medication.  When we stopped at a rest stop in NY to change/feed her, her tone was so strong and she was inconsolable.  She had (and still occasionally does have) this behavior where you put the nipple of the bottle in her mouth and she is so dysregulated that she leaves her mouth open and shakes her head back and forth.  She screams but can't close her mouth on the bottle to start sucking. This has improved but when she is overly hungry this behavior still emerges.

Her big sister was ecstatic to meet her.  When Baby Girl came home on Sunday morning BabySam was in her crib sleeping.  Baby Girl stood and watched her quietly in the dark.  Once BabySam woke up she got her step stool out so she could stand at the changing table so she could help.  She held her so carefully and it was if her lap was the perfect size for her little sister.  She fed her and was so gentile with her.  She did have one moment where she became frustrated with me and I think it was a brief test to see if I still loved her.  Beyond that the bonding between the two of them has been amazing.

Week one of Baby Sam being home Baby Girl got strep throat.  We had to keep them separated until Baby Girl had been on antibiotics for 24 hours.

DH's parents visited and were amazing with us and her.  I have been truly amazed at how they responded this time.  I know they have done it before now but its been a long time since I have had a visit with them and felt like I still liked them at the end of the visit.

DH's brother and sister-in law visited the following weekend.  The visit went well with a few minor exceptions.  We have decided that since our little girl is brown we can no longer stay where we live.  Our plan is to move closer to where my parents live which is in a more diverse part of the country and there are more families that look like ours.  At one point his brother challenged me on why I wanted to live somewhere that wasn't so white.  He equated a white area with lower crime.  I had to let it go.  He also waited until after DH went to bed before he pressured me for more information on our daughters ethnicity.  I learned later that DH had shared that her birthfather was unknown.  Had I known this at the time I may have been more crass with him.  Obviously if we dont know half of her genetic make up we DONT KNOW.  DUH!!

Friday, February 5, 2016

Week Three

After three false starts it looks like we might get to 48 hours medication free.  I get on a train tomorrow and meet DH then we get into a car and drive back home 7 hours.  Can't wait for everyone to all be under one roof.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Week two

BabySam was born January 15th.  She still is in the NICU.  The nurses that cared for her before we arrive gave her a few different names but the one that I remember was Sam short for Samantha.  For those of you that followed my old blog you will know I spent three long weeks in the hospital with her.  The roller coaster of her health condition in addition to her birth family coming and going it was hard.  To top it off she wasn't in the most supportive of NICU environments.

BabySam like Baby Girl was born dependent on illicit substances.  This means she must go through the slow process of weaning off.  We hope tomorrow is the day she finally is done with the medications but her body will tell us.  DH this time is the one staying at the NICU.  He has been there every day with her.  I on the other hand got to meet her and a short 30 hours later I had to go back home to go back to work and care for Baby Girl.  These past two weeks have been hard on all of us but we are most concerned about BabySam.

The day we met her we learned that they were considering a feeding tube but they provided us a chance to give her the attention she needed to avoid that.  The staff has been really supportive and helpful.  DH was stuck due to the snow storm that hit the east and they set him up with a bed in the hospital.  We can pick her up and hold her whenever she needs it and the list of rules are not endless.  They just ask that you dont talk on your cell phone at bedside and that you dont eat at bed side.  I kept asking them about rules and they kept looking at me like I was crazy.  The first full day we were there we needed to run errands and get DH set for his long stay.  I wasn't stricken with panic like I was when I would leave Baby Girl.

Baby Girl has been angry that her Dad isn't home.  She wants the baby home but doesn't want her Dad to come home (so she says).  She spent the first weekend calling me "Dude" because "thats what I call drives that do things I dont like"  (could be worse-right!).  She isn't so angry now but more sad.  She enjoys face timing with her Dad and watching videos of BabySam.  

Last Sunday I took her out for bagels.  I was sad myself because her birthday was the next day.  I told Baby Girl that 4 years ago her Birthmom was getting ready for her c-section that would happen the next day and that would be her birthday.  Baby Girl asked some questions about her birthday- then she shocked me.  "What is BabySam's Mom's name?"  She has put it all together- she is too smart for her own good.  I explained to her that BabySam's birthmoms name was J and that she unlike D didn't think she would be able to see BabySam after she placed her with a family she knew would love her.  I told her that Baby Girl was special because she gets to visit with D and BabySam wont be able to visit J.  We hope that J changes her mind down the road but we can't make her.  I don't anticipate that her change of heart will occur any time soon.  I can't imagine that J might fear opening her heart up to an open/semi-open adoption only to be crushed when it closes.  She also maybe fearful of being judged or she may not hold the self worth to realize that she still is important to BabySam even if she can't be a Mom to her.  

Baby Sam does  have a half sibiling that we will try to make contact with via the agency.  Her relationship with her birthfamily will be different.