Sunday, December 28, 2014

My Trip Books

Each trip we have taken to Philly I have made a book for Baby Girl.  The year she was born the book was her birthstory.  The following year was a short story about the adventures to the zoo and last year was the story about her time with her birthmom and the museum.

These are Baby Girls Books.  She can read them as she chooses.  Most of the time she likes to look at pictures of herself as a baby.  These books are jump starts to conversations about adoption, and her birthfamily.  They are non-intrusive ways of saying her family is important to us as well as chronicling the trips for her.

While my In-Laws were here Baby Girl picked her book about her most recent trip to Philly.  I heard my MIL read the title and I quickly B-lined to her bedroom.  I have mixed feelings about these books.  I can't lock them up but I also am protective of her story.  I keep each book simple, factual, but not overly specific so that if anyone picks them up they don't know the most detailed aspects of her adoption story.  I save those details for when her and I talked while we read the book.  They still are her story and I'm highly protective of her and her birthfamily.

My MIL just looked at the pictures and commented on what Baby Girl was doing in each picture.  Baby Girl told my MIL who everyone was in the pictures and I helped Baby Girl with the words to describe her relationships as she is still learning that.  At one point my MIL asked how D does with visits.  In light of D's current vanishing act I was extra cautious of this conversation.  I shared with my MIL that of course D is sad when we leave but Baby Girl and D love eachother so much when they are together.  Baby Girl clearly was listening to this interaction (which I'm always keanly aware of) and chimed in "Why does D get sad?"  For a moment I was sad for Baby Girl to have her hear that D is sad sometimes, but then I remembered that in her adoption story we talk about how D was sad when we left but happy we were the parents she had chosen for her daughter.  This satisfied Baby Girl and it also allowed my MIL to see how this open thing works.  Yes there are sad parts, but emotions are normal and thats how we deal with them.

My MIL I dont think will ever understand why we do what we do but I think she has come to a point where she is starting to see that what we chose isn't wrong or bad.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Vanished

Just before Halloween we skyped with Baby Girls Birth Siblings.  Something just wasn't right.  D was not mentioned her birth sister was a little more quiet than usual.  We were warned before the call D wouldn't be there.  DH and I chalked it up to it being a birthday party at one of D's siblings homes.  D isn't welcome in all of their lives and so it made sense but didn't seem right.

It was just a little after that I started to search for D again on Google and in the jail system.  No results.

Just last week we got an e-mail from Baby Girls birthsister saying something I already had put the pieces together and knew- that they had not seen or heard from D since before Thanksgiving.  My heart sunk.  It makes me sad because although I can be optimistic - realistically I know what this means.  She made it almost a year of sobriety.  I continue to search the jail system in hopes that she gets picked up so she is warm and safe.  So for Christmas her two other children were without a mother- and that breaks my heart.

Baby Girls birthfamily has become an extended family to us.  We care about them and want the best for them.  Baby Girls Birth sister is so wise beyond her years which will serve her well as she enters the "real world" but her world has been "real" for far too long.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Stop your Belly Aching

One of my coworkers is pregnant.  She told me before she told any of my other coworkers because she "thought it would be hard for me."  I was excited for her.  I know she will make a good Mom even though she feels like she isn't ready yet.

So she is now 4 months in which we have 5 more months to go.  She calls the baby the "blob" inside her and complains about the weight and all things pregnancy constantly.

While I do realize that pregnancy is likely hard physically it also comes with perks like having control over what you put into your body, and a due date!  She had the nerve the other day to tell someone she wishes she had a surrogate.

I just want to tell her stop your freaking belly aching.  At least you have a stupid due date.

My cousin also had her baby on the 11th a day before my birthday.  She got married in February... must be nice- huh?

Ok I'm done with my belly aching.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

My Brother Comes Tomorrow

My dear Baby Girl told daycare on Thursday last week that her baby brother was going to come the very next day.  I guess she was convincing enough that daycare checked in with DH to find out if there really was a baby brother coming.  Baby Girl typically is counting on a baby sister so I was as surprised as daycare was that a brother was coming.

Baby Girl knows something is going to happen.  Her classmates are having brothers and sisters arrive but so far she has waited the longest for this mixed blessing.  A friend to play with that unfortunately will not be all that much fun for a while.

While I frequently ask her what she thinks she will have when the topic comes up (a brother or sister) as well as ask her if she has any name suggestions (none of which we will use) I can guarantee she will NOT be on the first to know list.

In a small way I enjoyed her being able to relish in the excitement of a brother or sisters impending arrival.  To her I think its a complex reality of something we talk about but never happens.  For her friends there is a concrete "baby" growing in Mom.  For her its a phone call that could happen tomorrow, or next year.  When a sibling is waiting for the birth of said sibling everyone is excited for them for Baby Girl this waiting is so unknown and long that its the elephant in the room- its bound to happen someday but people have a hard time getting excited for something they may not even be in our lives to experience by the time it happens (in the realm of school).

So a brother didn't arrive on Friday which was my birthday- but it sure would have been fun!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Adoption is Normal

My sister called tonight.  While we were chatting she mentioned she went on a date with a nice guy. "He is a lawyer and 'a little quirky,'" she said.  "Oh he is adopted" she mentioned.  I told her I thought that it was interesting he shared that on a first date.  She said it was because he showed her a picture of his parents and while they were white and he was asian he mentioned that he was adopted.  I responded by saying "Doesn't the picture imply that he is adopted then?"  She paused "I don't know.  It was just something he said.  Adoption is normal I think."

I paused again.  "Well if adoption is normal why did he need to mention it?  Did you share that your niece is adopted?"  She went on to say that it was just a fact he shared about himself and that no she didn't share that her niece was adopted.

I tried to challenge her thinking and told her that I once thought "adoption was normal."  Until I had a daughter that was adopted.  While I personally think adoption is perfectly normal and adoption is the only context my daughter will ever know.  Adoption in the world is still not "normal."  If adoption was normal people wouldnt ask me "how do you love someone elses child?"  She responded "People actually ask you that?!"

My guess is this man showed my sister a picture of his parents and mentioned he was adopted to gauge her reaction.  To my sister adoption is a normal way to build a family.  My sister though has never experienced adoption on a daily basis.  While she may feel adoption is normal she has not lived the adoption experience.  No one questions her love of her mom and dad or our parents love for her.  No one wonders why her "real mom" didn't want her.  No one asks her why she doesn't look like our parents (though this one she might get since she is the blonde in a very brunette family).

I do think she gets adoption more then the average joe between growing up with lots of cousins that were adopted and being an aunt to an exceptional niece who also happens to be adopted.  If she goes on to date this guy I think she might go on to learn that adoption is so much more complex than "normal."  I just hope he is the one so she can hurry up and get married!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Google

At one point when I googled D's name I'd get her mug shots.  When I googled J's name I'd get a priest.  Now I get a murder victim who clearly was a beloved teacher/mother for D and a journalist for J.  I still get one mug shot but I'll take that.  When Baby Girl first came home I had a chronological progression of pictures for D starting in her late teens to present day.  While it did provide me with pictures- they really were ones I could do without.  I really didn't look forward to Baby Girl googling her birthmothers name.  I'm happy D is continuing to make positive changes in her life and moving forward.  Oh adoption in the age of the internet.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Adoption from the 2 year old point of view

Me: Are you excited about getting to be a big sister some day?
Baby Girl:  YEAH!!
Me:  do you know what's going to happen when your brother or sister is born?
Baby Girl: yup
Me: what's going to happen?
Baby Girl:  a phone call.
Me:  well.. Yeah we will get a phone call and Dad and I will go meet the baby.
Baby Girl: then Baby D comes
Me: no-  baby Ds mom and dad is C and L.
Baby Girl: we can't have him
Me: no
Baby girl moves on to being silly.

So she gets parts of it.  I sometimes wonder if she thinks babies are ordered like a pizza on the phone.  I think she realizes that she grew in D but I don't think she understands why some parents parent and some create adoption plans which makes visits w families w babies awkward at times.  She loves her cousin as well as my friend Cs son 'baby D' and she would like both of them to come live with us.

She also has suggested the names: monkey and gaga
She typically thinks she is going to have a sister but often refers to the baby as a 'he'


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Finance and adoption

Having a baby is exciting.  Having a baby is expensive.  Adopting a baby is VERY expensive.

The average adoption fee for a private adoption is $33,000.  While I will not divulge our personal adoption fees - its not cheap.  Our agency uses a sliding scale based on income.  We currently fall on a low end of a bracket so we are paying 1/4 of our before tax yearly income on baby 2.  For Baby Girl we paid when all was said and done 1/3 of our before tax income (Baby Girl was adopted out of state and thus was not on a sliding scale, we also then had to pay our in state adoption agency fees to complete the after placement legal mumbojumbo).

We currently are only excepting in state placements.  This means 1) lower fees because its income based 2) we wont have to pay hotel/travel expenses and be in a panic trying to find a place to stay like we did for Baby Girl and 3) and I think most importantly we will be closer to the birthfamily which we hope translates into a close relationship.  It also means a longer wait time, but thats OK.  We currently are at exactly 1 year of waiting with the average wait time for our agency is between 18 month-2 years.

Last time we saved for adoption fees.  It was just three of us and while a baby is expensive we kept costs down by using cloth diapers, accepting any and all hand-me-downs, and we didn't have any daycare expenses.  This time we will have to pay for Baby Girls daycare for my three month maternity leave and potentially depending on time of year will have to pay for daycare for the baby to hold his/her spot.  So this time around we are not only saving for the adoption fees but three months of our lifestyle.  Student loans and daycare eat up most of our monthly income.

So I was panicking for a while because I thought we were saving but the spread sheet with our adoption savings wasn't changing.  About a week ago I realized I was inputting the savings into the wrong field and so when I corrected that I found our savings jumped $3000!!!  So in addition to that a few other things have happened that are getting me excited 1) our state is implementing a program in which they will pay for up to 10 hours of preschool starting next school year- yeah for preschool next year!! 2) I stopped putting money into our HSA as we have our full deductible saved for next year so I'm putting more money towards our student loans.  These two things means by mid year both of our undergrad student loans will be paid off, my car loan will be paid off AND assuming we get what I'm predicting in taxes back our adoption savings account will be met.

Finances are what stress me out the most.  I can take a screaming baby at 2 AM.  I can change a diaper with my eyes closed.  I know Baby Girl will regress but I think at the same time will bloom.  I'm ready for the baby stuff.  I'm ALMOST ready for the financial stuff.

Baby 2- you can come any time this winter*/spring!

*After February would be preferable but I'll take what I can get... A due date would be AWSOME.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Premature

We got an email today.  An email that was reminiscent of an email we got Febuary 2011.  It was a baby girl.  In the hospital.  10 weeks premature.  She is too far away and will require months in the hospital.  We have Baby Girl and its not realistic for one of us to be 8 hours away.  Nor is it fair to this baby to have her alone 8 hours away.

I read the e-mail and knew our answer.  It made me realize how different a place I am in this time around.  While it breaks my heart to think of this baby alone in a hospital while she awaits for forever family I also can squeeze my little girl and give her a kiss.  My little girl was that little girl; alone with all the bright lights and beeps of the NICU.  I hope for this little girl her family finds her quickly and I  hope for her family that they dont miss too many more days.

So until our call comes.  I'll squeeze my Baby Girl a little tighter at night and know our day will come.

My Hair's not Brown

"Is she nice?" Baby Girl
"I think so.  I like her alot."  Me
"Does she have pretty hair?"  Baby Girl
"Yup- Her hair is blonde just like you."  Me
"Oh." Baby Girl  "My hair is blonde.  What color is your hair?"
"My hair is brown."  Me
"Why?"  Baby Girl
"Well because my Mom and Dad both have brown hair."  Me
"Dadas hair is brown.  My hair's not brown."  Baby Girl

I didn't expect our trip to pick up a new babysitter was going to turn into an adoption conversation but it did.  Thats how most of them do.  Baby Girl knows D is special.  She sometimes seems to understand she grew inside D.  She knows her cousin grew inside her aunt.  I can tell each of these short conversations another piece clicks into place.

I went onto explain that her hair is blonde because J and D both had blonde hair.  She seemed to be more focused on the balloons flying outside the chocolate factory store.  Though from past experience when she seems to have moved on and is focused on something new she still is listening.

Who knows where or when the next adoption conversation will pop up but I'm ready.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Nature or nurture

We were out to breakfast with my Aunt from out of town and a friend of hers.  Baby Girl was running around the table from person to person.  She was being good but her typical strong willed opinionated self.  She wasn't being rude and for a 2 year old she was "perfect" for a meal out.  My aunts friend commented on how vivacious and smart Baby Girl was.  My aunt proudly told her friend that "She gets that from her Mama- you should have seen her when she was a girl."  My aunt continued on to say that I was clearly destined to be a mother and this little girl was my match.  She then said "Baby Girl is adopted."  "Ohhhh?" said her friend.  "Well then it doesn't come from her mama."  The two of them started bickering over nature vs. nurture and I quietly sat and observed while keeping my eye on my vivacious and smart 2 year old.  Her friend finally turned to me and said "Well what do you think?"  I then responded that I think Baby Girls Birthmom and I have a lot in common personality wise.  I also think that how I parent translates into my childs personality.  I let her learn, explore and make choices within the limits I set.  I can't claim any trait of Baby Girl as "mine" nor do I think D can.  Baby Girl is her own person and clearly her environment as well as her biology plays a role but fundamentally she is Baby Girl.  At which point a small hand grabbed mine.  Baby Girl looked squarely at my aunts friend and firmly said "MY Mama." and then proceeded to crawl into my lap to cuddle.

Baby Girl gets it.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Adoption Hospital Bag

Last time we waited I packed a hospital bag.  I would have put my life on the line that I wrote a blog post about what I packed but I can't find it.  I then did a search of my old blog for "bag" and I then remembered how I came up with my hospital bag list.  In my Adoption Bloggers Interview from 2011 I asked my friend Maru what she brought with her and from that interview I then packed my bag.  I now recall thinking I'd pack the bag- see what I used and then write a post on it... and then I had a baby and no time.

So I'm going to post my hospital bag contents this time:
4 oz Bottles (3 of them)
formula caddy (had slots for pre measured formula)
Nuks (lots of them)
swaddle blankets (3 of them)
PJ's (about a weeks worth)
socks (all the white and blue ones I could find)
NB diapers (8)
spit up rags (lots)
At breast feeder

I then made a list of the things I'll have to run around and grab once we get the call that I'll keep in the packed bag:
-camera/charger
-check for agency
-adoption folder
-cell phones
-chargers
-Photo ID's
-Car seat (check dates)
-Wipes
-diaper cream (baby girl still uses it)

I should probably make a list for things to pack for Baby Girl.  I probably dont need to pack anything yet since she is constantly growing.  Maybe I can get her something that says "big sister" hmm.... but it will need to fit.  Good thought but I'm getting side tracked here.

We were in Philly for a month so I used all of the clothes we brought.  D gave Baby girl clothes as did her other family members.  Outfits arrived in the mail while we were in the hospital.  We had no consistent means of laundry though so I recommend putting aside more than you think you will need.  The NICU provided white onsies, spit up rags, diaper cream, NUKS and swaddle blankets.  Some items like the diaper cream and NUKS ran out on weekends when the supply closet wasn't being filled.  Its not fun to run out of NUKS (when a NUK hits the floor in the hospital its hospital procedure to throw them away- I hid them in my bag and sanitized them at home).

The hospital also provided formula and diapers.  We did however have an 8 hour ride home so bottles, & diapers would have been helpful to have had.  I didn't end up having time to shop for formula or diapers prior to her discharge and her discharging nurse told me the night before not to worry about it she would "take care of it."  (The hospital where I spent from 10-10 each day was in a downtown area so there wasn't anywhere to shop for baby items).  The discharging nurse sent us home with a bag full of diapers, formula and nuks.

Since you never know what your call is going to be like I think its easier to over plan and have too much then not be ready and feel like you are missing out on time with your baby while you are forced to shop.  Think about will you have to deal with an interstate compact?  Will you be traveling by car/plane?  Will it be one parent or two?

So our bag is packed and I'm ready for the call... it could gather dust for a year or be whisked off in a month- only time will tell.  Happy packing!

Update 1/9/2014:
Need to add a gift for birthmom.  For D I brought a yellow rose since that is the color of friendship and a photo album with a note saying that I would send pictures to fill it.  Baby Girl also bought Baby2 a Nuk toy thing that holds the Nuk in place for Christmas.  I had her help me add that to the hospital bag.  She is really excited about Nuks for the baby since she LOVES Nuks.  I'm actually a little worried about her stealing Nuks from the baby when s/he comes.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Mine

Baby Girl is 2.5 years old which means everything is hers.  "My Dad."  "My Opa."  "My cat."  "My book."  "my, mine, my mine my mine..."

Last week my parents visited.  My father stepped away for a few minutes in a crowded store.  My Baby Girl says to me "Thats MY Opa."  To which I responded "yes that is your Opa.  You know when your brother or sister arrives they will have the same Opa.  You will share the same Opa."  To which she responded "No."  I explained further "Well thats how it works.  Your Opa is my father and your aunts father.  My father is the Opa to my children."  She was quiet for a minute.  She then stated "Then I'm going to say no."  I let it go.

Tonight in an attempt to be efficient I was taking Baby Girl to the car to put the groceries away while DH went to the cell phone store to pick up our cell phones.  Baby girl says to me "Thats my Dad."  I reminded her of our conversation last week that her brother or sister will share her Mom and Dad with her.  She then asked me "Why are we going to have a baby?"  To which I responded that Mom and Dad wanted to share their love with another baby.  This also meant that she would get to have a brother or sister.  "Why?" She asked me as we walked up to the woman that needed to check our receipt prior to leaving the store.  So I ignored her in order to not have the conversation in front of the woman.  Baby Girl then turns to the woman and says "I'm going to get a brother or sister."  "Oh- when is the baby coming?"  responded the woman.  "From my Dad."  Baby Girl responded.  The women then looked at me, smiled, and responded "What a nice Dad you have."

I think adoption makes the- where do babies come from just a little more of a foreign concept to a 2.5 year old.  *sigh*

Sunday, August 10, 2014

10 Things I want my children to know about their Adoption

The new "thing" in the world wide web is lists.  5 signs your relationship is failing.  The 15 healthiest towns.  Tonight I read "10 Things I want my daughter to know about exercise."  It got me thinking.  What do I want my children to know about their adoptions.  Why is it so important to me that I blog about it, talk about it, and dream about it.  So I started thinking.... What are the 10 things I want my children to know about their adoption.

1.  Your Birthfamilies love you.  Each member of each family shows their love differently.  Some adults never learned to show their love the same way we show love in our family and because of that sometimes their love is hard to see.

2.  There are no stupid questions.  There is not a single question we (your parents) are unwilling to answer.  We might need a night to think on it and like a lot of hard questions might not know the answer.  We will never be able to tell you how someone else feels or what someone else thinks, but we can at least think about it with you.

3.  Its OK to feel sad about being adopted.  Being adopted means that an adult that cared about you and made a choice not to raise you.  This doesn't mean they didn't want you or didn't love you.  Its hard to understand how someone could love you so much that they would choose not to get to see you every day- but it is true.  Being adopted still means that your life is different than what it would have been had you been raised by your birthfamily.  I sometimes myself get sad thinking about you Baby Girl you don't get to spend as much time with D as you want and that your birthsibilings do not get to share in your day to day life.

4.  There are people that are uneducated on adoption and its not your job to educate them.  There are people that are uneducated on a whole host of topics.  It is your choice to educate them or not.  There are things about my life I share with very few people.  That doesn't mean that I'm ashamed of those memories/stories but rather they are things that I like to protect.

5. There are going to be times you might wish your birthfamily chose to raise you.  There are going to be times you wished we gave birth to you.  You may wish we chose to keep the birth name your birthfamily gave you.  Growing up I often wished my life was different especially after my Mom became sick.  In the end the things I wished I could wish a way made me who I am today.  Without the things that made me different from others I wouldn't be me.  Its OK to try on a different name or wish you lived somewhere else as long as you stay true to yourself- we love you.

6.  I sometimes hear people commenting on your physical attributes that make you look different than your mom/dad which often are fishing expeditions to find out if you are adopted or to learn facts about your birthfamily.  Baby Girl your blond hair looks just like the blonde hair your mom and dad had as kids.  It is also the blonde hair D and J had.   You have the same blue eyes your Mom-mom and mom have.  People see what they want to see.  When it comes down to it you may not look like us but sorry darling you still are like us and looks dont' make a family (though I have to say our family is made up of lookers).  The way you talk makes me giggle sometimes because it could have been a recording of one of us.  In the end we are all human and your birthfamily and our family have so much in common- the biggest thing being how much we love you.

7.  You are not the only one.  Maybe in your class at school you are the only one that is adopted but I can assure you there will be others in your class struggling with topics regarding family.  The family tree for example isn't so easy for a child with divorced parents.  The genealogy project maybe hard for the child whose mom doesn't talk with her family any more.  The interview with a grandparent might make another student sad because their grandparents have passed away.  Come talk with us and we can help you work thru times where you might feel alone.  We are here to help you find out how others have handled these projects.  We are willing to help you include your birthfamilies if its something you want to do.

8. We will not end contact with your birthfamily unless you choose to.  It is our job as your parents to keep the flame alive so to speak and foster the relationship between you are your birthfamily.  At some point we will turn the relationship over to you.  Once we turn the relationship over to you it is your choice as to how contact continues.

9. It was love at first sight.  Adoption was in our cards from before we got married.  Although it is true we found out we couldn't conceive a child biologically we always knew we would have children.  We started the adoption process as we continued to learn about why we could not conceive.  In the end our desire to become parents was achieved the day we met each of you.  Until the day you choose to become a parent I dont think you will fully understand what it was like to lay eyes on you that first day- but it was love at first sight.

10.  We are not perfect.  Not at all.  We have learned a great deal from you.  Starting with the adoption process, navigating the world of openness and jumping into becoming Mom and Dad.  We still learn each day and realize that we have made mistakes.  We do our best each day and when we have misteped we try to do better next time.  We expect the same from you.  Like all relationships Birthmother/Child; Mom/Child; Birthfather/Child; Dad/Child; Siblings; and so on we need to remember that the other side of the relationship is another person capable of mistakes.  We need to try to be understanding and be open to forgiveness.  From every corner of your family- you are loved.

What topics did I miss?  What do you want your kids to know?

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Baby2 update

We got home from our vacation in ME today to find a packet from our agency.  Its time to renew our fingerprints and update our forms.  This means we are marching up to our first year of waiting.  Baby Girl was a 15 month wait.

Waiting the first time was extraordinarily hard.  Each baby bump was a reminder of the fact that our nest was still empty.  I could not go to baby showers and my heart broke so very easily.  The hardest part was not knowing.  When I would tell people it could be today, tomorrow or next year we don't know it was in a way a reminder that it really could be tomorrow and I prayed that it wasn't another year.

This time we are busy.  Really busy.  I actually pray that its next year more often then I pray that its tomorrow.  I do still find the unknowing part to be the hardest part.  If I only knew a due date- what a luxury!

So I'll get the papers in order, I'll get my fingers inked, and I should probably get a baby bag ready... but here we are waiting again an unknown amount of time.

The other big difference this time is the impact on Baby Girl.  I know some families have chosen not to share with their child however I think for Baby Girl it would be harder for her for us to suddenly need to go tend to a baby she didn't know would be coming.  When the actual situation presents itself we will have to delicately tackle the topic of not knowing if this baby living with us is "her" brother or sister while we wait for termination.  I think we talk about adoption enough in our house that if the baby does not turn out to be her sibling that she will be sad but understanding.  

I try not to think too far ahead since we wont know the circumstances until the baby arrives.  It could be tonight, maybe tomorrow, or even next year.

PA trip 2014

So as always my anticipation of events is always far crazier than what actually happens.  My mind is a wild place and this is the closest anyone will ever get to being in it.  Poor DH has a birds eye view of my "what if" crazy thoughts.  I like to plan and be prepared.  I hate surprises so much that I usually know what I'm getting as a gift from DH before he gives it because I hate the idea of not knowing what to say (especially if its not what I expect).

SO our trip...

This year we went for Baby Girls Birthbrothers birthday party (or at least thats what the plan was).  A week before we went we skyped with the family and found out that cousins were all away at a soccer tournament.  I do believe that some of them went to a soccer tournament however I think it also was an excuse to not have the party part of our visit.  Baby Girls birth aunt last year chose not to come because of Baby Girl being there.  I also know that D and her siblings do not all get along- so I'm not sure exactly the full reason but I think there is more to it then the tournament- I could be wrong.

This year unlike last year Baby Girl kept asking "Are we going to see M tomorrow?"  "Are we going to PA tomorrow?" EVERY night before she went to bed for about three weeks.  It was fun that she was anticipating the trip this year.  She loves her birthbrother M!  Finally it was the day we got to go to PA and she was grinning from ear to ear when we got into the car.  We split the trip like we have each time we have gone down visiting friends in NY along the way.  Baby Girl didn't like the idea of having to wait one more night.

On Friday morning we drove the last part of the trip and went directly into the city.  We went to terminal market and got a philly cheese steak.  We took the sandwich with us to the hospital and ate in the same atrium where we filled out the legal paper work with the adoption attorney just prior to meeting Baby Girl.  I ate so many peanut butter sandwiches alone in that cafeteria it was nice to be able to enjoy a cheese steak with her.  We then spent about 20 minutes trying to find the NICU!  Its funny day in day out we had the same routine spending hours on end in that hospital and the floor the NICU was on escaped me.  One woman tried telling me it was in the other building to which I responded- they moved the NICU?  She insisted it hadn't moved but that we were in the wrong building.  Gah!  Finally we started over and went to ask security where the NICU was.

A few nurses were going out for lunch when we arrived.  None of them we recognized.  They said they would tell others we were there.  While I was looking in with Baby Girl the doctor that discharged her was at the desk.  He came down to say hello.  Another doctor that was involved happened by and recognized me and chatted with us.  Another nurse passed by and said "Oh I remember her she was a premi - right?"  I told her no she was an NAS baby.  "Oh she responded- Mom you look like you are doing well."  "I am doing well as is her birthmother"  (thanks for implying I was on drugs).  Everyone as always was surprised we were visiting D and in a superficial way was happy to hear she was doing well.  I think they all think we are naive and that D is going to take advantage of us.  D isn't a monster.  D loves Baby Girl.  Yes she has made mistakes and because of those mistakes we have kept a significant amount of information about Baby Girl from her- but there is no reason not to allow her to visit as long as she is sober.  Baby Girl got to see a bassinet outside the NICU similar to the one she slept in.  She seemed to really enjoy that.

 We then went back to the hotel to check in.  We spoke to her birthsister about them all coming over to swim.  M apparently on the days leading up to the visit had been typing into his communication devise asking when they were going swimming at Baby Girls hotel.  This was D's first time seeing Baby Girl since we walked away at the hospital over two years ago.  I could tell the moment she saw her she wanted to smother her but she held back.  They gave Baby Girl the coach that goes with the princess castle they got her for her birthday.  Getting Baby Girl to say anything (hello, thank you, hi) was impossible so we went down to swim.  M and Baby Girl jumped into the pool over and over and over.  They were like fish that needed water.  D got out a few times for "air" aka smoking.  I think we were making her nervous.  Baby girl refused to go to her in the pool but no one pushed it which I think helped.  D blew bubble gum bubbles which make Baby Girl so happy.  We were in the pool I believe for 2 hours!  (DH fact check this for me :) )  It was finally time to go since Baby Girls lips were blue and chattering but she insisted she still didn't want to get out!  We said good-bye and made plans to meet at the Please Touch museum the next day.

We arrived about 10 minutes before they opened.  I wanted to get there early because Baby Girls birthfamily is never on time and I wanted to avoid the awkwardness of paying.  They were early too!  I think they were excited to see Baby Girl and got ready quickly.  I paid for everything it was easier then splitting things up plus I dont ever give D things as gifts and I felt like paying for everyones admission was giving her the gift of time with Baby Girl.  (The only physical gift I have given her is a flower and a photo album they day we met- I send LOTS of pictures and I send physical gifts to her birth siblings but not D).

Everyone had a blast at the museum.  There were buses, and cars to pretend to drive.  There were rockets to shoot.  There was a mock grocery store, hospital, news station, and construction site.  There was a lot to do.  M and Baby Girl kinda played in parallel however most of the time they were in different spaces.  D again had chewing gum so Baby Girl kept asking her to blow bubbles.  This was they key to Baby Girls heart :)  Baby Girl, M and D had a tea party in the Alice and Wonderland exhibit.  We then went upstairs and there was a carousel.  D went and got M and Baby Girl tickets.  Baby Girls birthsister helped M and DH helped Lily.  D and I waved from the side as they went around.  After the carousel we briefly played in the water but I could tell our time before a meltdown was getting closer.  Baby Girl is pouting in just about every picture taken at the water station.  We took pictures in front of the sign.  In the other two pictures of Baby Girl with her birth siblings she is right there with them being held.  This year her siblings are standing next to each other holding onto each other and then there is a gap of about a foot and Baby Girl is standing alone.  I know its her age- she isn't as quick to warm up to people she doesn't know well but the picture speaks so much to why I want Baby 2's birthfamily to be in our same state.

We went back to the hotel so Baby Girl could re-group and take a nap. After her nap we went to Mom-Moms house.  We gave her birth siblings their birthday presents which I hope they enjoy (we got M a a kite and her birthsister a bath pamper set).  D's oldest brother was there briefly but he left almost immediately after we arrived- just long enough to say hello.  Baby Girl, M and D jumped on the trampoline for hours.  Her birthsister, Baby Girl, D and Pop-Pop blew (soap) bubbles for a while.  I chatted with Mom-Mom and Pop-pop.  It was as relaxing as the second time you spent the day with your in-laws.  It was a little more comfortable than last year but still awkward at times.  I think the in-law comparison is the closest I can come to explaining the relationship to outsiders.  These people are amazing and allowed us to parent this beautiful girl but they still love her to death.  They are as much family as they are unfamiliar strangers.

While we were at the museum D had shared with me that J had been harassing D's family.  I brought this up to Mom-Mom (baby Girls birth grandmother).  D had told me that J was saying that it wasn't fair that Baby Girl was visiting them but not him.  I told them that he had been given a chance to visit.  According to D he had seen pictures of last years visit though I never shared those pictures with him unless he looked on shutterfly.  We did learn that he had been in jail though its unclear for what.  After talking with Mom-Mom I do think that he has been harassing them by phone but I dont know the validity of his including Baby Girl into the harassment.  It was just a quick reminder of the drama of our hospital stay and to make sure I take a deep breath and take a step back.  D is an adult physically however emotionally and drama wise I need to remember that she has a way of exaggerating.  Its how she interacts with the world and I'm just not used to it.  I felt much better after talking with Mom-Mom.  I did let the agency know that D was having trouble with J and left it at that.  (true to their form they essentially said they could do nothing but I guess I'm crazy thinking that an adoption agency should support their birthmothers- even if its just a phone call to D saying- everything OK?)

We had pizza for dinner (which Baby Girl didn't eat for the first time in her life).  After dinner D and Baby Girl went back outside to play on the trampoline and DH and I stayed upstairs and chatted with Mom-mom.  We got to hear how D was doing - all positive!!  :)  Mom-mom brought the cake down to sing happy birthday to M.  Last year I regretted not getting a picture of us singing happy birthday to her birth sister.  This year I took it - and its one of the best pictures I took all weekend.  Baby Girl and M sat next to each other when they got their cake.  Their eyes and puffy cheeks and perfect chins side by side make me smile because she will be able to see herself in him because she knows him.  After cake Baby Girl went back outside which is when I realized that it was already past her bedtime.  Her birthsister before dinner had taught her how to do a summersault on the trampoline and she was practicing it again.  She was getting really good!  We let her play a short while longer and then we started to say our good-byes.  Pop-Pops health has continued to decline and he didn't seem confident he would see us next year- which I hope he is wrong about because we really love him.  Everyone asked for a hug and kiss goodbye and Baby Girl declined them all.  When D asked I interjected and reminded Baby Girl that she wouldn't see her again for a whole year.  I told Baby Girl it would mean a lot to D if she gave her a hug (this is something I never do because I don't think hugs are mandatory).  She then stepped up and hugged her- I was so so so very happy for both of them.

D walked us out to the car and told us how sad she would be to see us go but was happy we came to visit.  I assured her that we would be back.  As we drove out of town the next morning Baby Girl was already crying "I wanna see M!"  "When are we going to go to PA?!"

Can't wait for next year!!






Sunday, July 27, 2014

Is That My Baby?

When we told Baby Girl she was going to be a big sister she didn't really understand.  She has slowly over the past 8 months put the pieces together.  Before we went to PA she asked me if she had a crib at the hospital when she was there.  I told her that she did.  When we visited the hospital just outside of the NICU there was a bassinet just like the one she spent so many hours in her first month on this earth.  "That was my crib?"  she asked me.  "Yes you slept in one just like that."  I told her.  Baby Girl is like her dad.  She will ask a question or you will tell her something and she gets quiet.  You may not hear about the topic again for a few days or weeks.  Then some comes out with something profound which makes you realize that she gets it.  When we got home from PA we read "Tell Me Again About The Night I was born" (which she calls the "Elly Bake book" because of the man that with the IV that looks like he has a belly ache).  When we got to the page with all the babies in their bassinets she told me "Thats my crib."  These three interactions seem to have sealed her understanding that we got a call, we went to meet her at the hospital (in her crib) and thats how we became her Mom and Dad.  (There were a few more epiphanies on the trip to PA but thats another post.)

Fourth of July we went to a friends house for a cook out.  This was our first time meeting their second baby.  Their first baby is 2 weeks younger than Baby Girl.  Baby Girl enjoyed just watching the babies that were at the party.  The party was hard for me.  Two of the babies there had siblings that were almost exactly Baby Girls age.  If only just wanting a baby for us made it happen.  There was another couple there with about a 4 year age gap between their two children.  If I really was honest with myself and we were able to conceive we likely wouldn't be "trying" yet.  A gap of 3-4 years sounds perfect for us however in the land of adoption its not so easy to plan and so we have started the process knowing that it could be tomorrow and it could be another 2 years- we dont know.  I digress.  As I put Baby Girl down that night she said to me "Mama I want a sister."  "Just like Logan does?"  I asked.  "yeah"  She responded as she squirmed in her bed.  "I want a baby too Baby Girl.  We can't pick if its a sister or brother though.  Would a brother be OK?" I asked.  "Yes" she responded.  I kissed her, said good-night and told her that she will make a good big sister.

My sister In-law is expecting.  When they came to visit last weekend I didn't address the baby with Baby Girl.  We have told her they are expecting and that she will be a cousin.  I left it at that.  I really dont feel like talking about how some babys are born to the moms and dads they live with and other Moms and Dads get a call when a woman chooses for them to parent her baby.  I'm not there yet and I really didn't want to have it in front of my in-laws.  At the end of the weekend as Baby Girl said good-bye to my sister-in-law she looked up at her belly and said "Whats that?!" pointing to her baby bump.  We explained that there was a baby growing in her and when it was ready to come out it would be born.  She seemed worried but satisfied.

Friday was Baby Girls 2.5 year appt.  Nothing stops Baby Girl in her tracks like a baby.  She stops and stares.  Sometimes she gets in close and peers into the carseat but rarely says anything.  I encouraged her to say good-bye to the baby and told her to tell the baby that the doctor wasn't scary.  She said good-bye (but didn't lie to the poor baby about the doctor not being scary).  As we walked away she turned to me and asked "Is that my baby?"  "Your brother or sister?" I asked.  "Yes" she responded.  "No thats not our baby.  That baby is with his Mom and Dad."  "Why is it not our baby?" she asked me.  I for the first time ever let an adoption question go.  I did answer but I kinda trailed off as we approached the front desk to check out.  "That Mom and Dad chose to parent their baby."

Each interaction her questions get more challenging.  She is 2 for crying out loud!  I know many of her questions are just that questions.  Trying to make sense of the puzzle that just isn't fitting just right.  I love that she is inquisitive and sometimes he questions really are hard!  Why, can be the shortest yet most complicated question ever.  I try to remind myself that most often she ends the conversations so I'm assuming that means she feels like her questions are being answered.  I also remind myself that I want her to continue to feel like she can ask these questions.  I do occasionally answer by honestly saying "Thats a good question- I don't know."  I dont know when our second baby is going to come.  Just like our first wait.  I'm OK with waiting- I just wish I knew when.  It was hard enough to have our lives switch gears in a matter of 24 hours from a childless couple to one with a baby in the NICU.  This second time it again is going to likely be a quick switch of gears- but this time the impact is going to be greater.  I try to bring up the topic of her sibling with cautious frequency.  I want her to know its coming but I also dont want her to perseverate on it.  Her questions on Friday did remind me- I probably should pack a hospital bag again.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Saying Good-Bye

My Grandmother has been in failing health for about ten years.  When I moved out East was about the time her decline became more rapid.  I was one of the first to admit this change I think.  The first time I noticed it she proudly introduced me to an elevator full of her friends at her assistive living as her daughter Ann which is not my name but rather one of her older girls names.  When I told my family about it they just said she must have slipped- she knew I wasn't Ann.

I regularly would make the drive from WI to Chicago to have dinner with my Grandmother during my Senior year of college- the year I got my drivers license.  I'd finish my last class of the day then make the exciting trip thru Chicagos notorious traffic to arrive just in time to go up to the dining room with her.  She often would ask me about having children and she would glow when talking about her friends Great-grandchildren.  I'd remind her I needed to graduate college first and then meet someone worthy of marrying.  My Grandmother was college educated.  I don't think that she went to college for the purpose of finding a husband as although she met my Grandfather in school she completed her education, married- and off to war he went.

After I finished college I took an adventure to the East in part to distance myself from an unhealthy relationship that I would have slipped back into.  It also was to show those who doubted me that I was self sufficient and could make it on my own.  My plan was to work for 2ish years then head back to the mid-west.   My Grandmother missed my visits because she would complain to my cousins that I no longer visited her.  Each time they would explain to her I moved out East- to which she was never satisfied because she never remembered.

Within three months of moving here I met DH.  It terrified me because I knew he was the type worthy of marrying.  On and off our relationship started because every time we were on again - I knew it might be forever.

My wedding three years after I moved out East was another milestone in my life but also one in which I realized further my Grandmothers decline.  DH met my Grandmother that first summer we were together when I took a trip home- and she was kind to him but didn't seem to connect me, with him, and why this man was in her apartment.  Our visit was quiet.  When we planned our wedding I didn't want anything big at all because without my Grandmother present there would have been something missing.  I knew she couldn't make a trip even from Chicago to Wisconsin so we planned our wedding for right here at "home."  My father took pictures to show my Grandmother and showed her the video- to which from my understanding made her happy but again- she lacked the connection of meaning.  I'm glad I wasn't there to see her watch it.

Each visit I made to see her she faded farther and farther away.  Conversations were shorter and shorter.  Glimpses of my Grandmother were there momentarily but the woman who met you at the door with a big hug and a kiss on each cheek was gone.  She talked about wanting Great Grandchildren but rather then asking us about her plans for them it was as if she no longer knew where Great-Grandchildren came from.

My Grandmother eventually wasn't able to physically care for herself any longer and was moved to a nursing home in Wisconsin.  She had made the transition just prior to our announcement that we were waiting to adopt.  The news made her happy but it wasn't the conversation I would have  envisioned during my senior year of college.  One special connection my Grandmother had to our Baby Girl was the night Baby Girl was born despite a busy day in which I just felt too exhausted to do anything I called my aunt who assisted my Grandmother with answering my call.  I read to her the story "Two Kinds of Love."  She didn't say much but almost responded in my memory as a coo or a content sigh.  A week later our Baby Girl was in our arms.

The first trip we took with Baby Girl was to Wisconsin to meet my parents, sister, and Grandmother.  The first time we took Baby Girl to see my Grandmother it was DH, Baby Girl and I.  My Grandmother was loosing her ability to communicate.  When we arrived I explained to her who we all were and her response was not welcoming.  It broke my heart but the OT in me knew it wasn't personal so I decided to try again later in the day.  We visited again in the later afternoon with my parents and sister.  She at first again didn't seem to want to connect with my daughter.  I dont recall specifically anymore if Baby Girl needed to be changed or she had spit up but for some reason I undressed Baby Girl.  Again I don't recall the specifics of why but before putting her clothes back on I placed my Baby Girls naked body in her arms and the two melted into each other.  It was exactly how I always envisioned my Grandmother with my child.  I captured the most perfect picture of this moment- my Grandmothers blue eyes gazing down and my daughters piercing blue eyes contently looking at the camera.  I documented this visit briefly on my old blog.

We took a visit to see my Grandmother last August.  She had again slipped father away.  I could no longer orient her to our relationship.  Her moans, yawns, and cries scared my daughter.  My daughter warmed up some gently singing row row row your boat as she pushed my grandmothers wheelchair back and forth.  Each visit for a long time seemed like it was going to be my last.  I cherish the "extra" visits and good-byes I got to have with my Grandmother.

On May 15 2014 at 90 years old my Grandmother passed away quietly with two of her twelve children by her side.  The week prior to her passing was hard as my Grandmother had held on for so long slipping away from us slowly to a person we hardly recognized.  She no longer knew anyone on this earth as her only memories were of people and places long gone.  She had been read her last rights by the priest more then once and I prayed that this really was it.  She no longer remembered she wanted Great-Grandchildren; she no longer could speak her children or grandchildrens names; and she no longer sought to be at peace with my Grandfather as she no longer recalled she ever had been married.  So with strange sadness her passing brought me peace.

I''m going to miss her.  My Grandmother was never a snuggly, cookie baking grandmother.  She did love icecream and did teach me how to make blonde brownies.  She took us on the EL in Chicago to see the Sears tower, the botanical gardens, and to see the windows at Macy's during Christmas.  Her favorite movie was Fantasia and sometimes I think she liked Sesame Street more than we did.  She would read to us and take us to church.  She taught me secret to caring for African Violets and keeping them blooming which to this day is both of our favorite flowers.

My Grandmother was the last of Baby Girls Great- Grandparents and since she is adopted that means she had 16.  My Grandmother was also the only one she ever met.  My Grandmothers death was my daughters first experience with death.  Prior to going to Chicago I talked to her about how people including mom were going to be sad.  I explained to her that I wasn't going to get to see my grandmother anymore.  To which Baby Girl became concerned that she also wouldn't get to see her Grandmothers again.  When we went to the viewing Baby Girl asked why my Grandmother was sleeping.  Dealing with sadness while also caring for a toddler adds an interesting dimension to this process.  I explained to her that she wasn't sleeping but rather she had died.  She wasn't breathing anymore and her heart had stopped beating because she was very old and had lived a long life.  Baby Girl didn't respond, seemed content with the answer, and really thought about it.  Later she asked to go back and this time she had a pretzel in her hand.  She offered my Grandmother her pretzel to which I explained that she no longer was able to eat because I reminded her that she had died.  She then told my Grandmother "Goodbye."  My Grandmother for the first time in years and a healthy glow to her face, and looked comfortable and at peace in her casket.  I wish my daughter and my Grandmother had a chance to know each other better because I think they would have gotten a kick out of each other.  I'm going to miss her even more when Baby 2 comes especially if Baby 2 is a girl since we are going to use part of my Grandmothers name as Baby 2's name.  Above all though I know that it was time and I'm so fortunate to have had the time I had with her.

The Grandchildren were given an opportunity to take an item or two from her costume jewelry.  I didn't see anything that struck me as memorable when I looked over it all and decided not to take anything.  On a second pass late in the evening after everyone else had taken their trinkets I found two things: a small music box that she kept on her make up table and her loose powder compact.  The music box was broken but I opened the compact and smelled her again.  Tonight I opened that compact again and it smelled SO good!  I lost my Grandma slowly and now her physical self is gone but one whiff of her compact and I know that I'll never forget her.



Tuesday, May 6, 2014

20 Miles

Sunday I ran 20 miles.  My hips ached, my knees twanged, my feet complained but I did it!  That will be my longest training run.

So what do I do for 3 hours of running.  I think.  I think a lot.  I think about how when I trained for my first half marathon I was yearning for my first baby.  Almost exactly 9 months after crossing my first finish line my Baby Girl arrived.  When I trained for my second half marathon I had my first baby (who was already 1).  I sometimes feel like if I hit the pavement harder and push faster I can some how push time forward and Baby 2 will arrive quicker.

Running is a good release for me.  It gives me something to focus on besides my day to day.  It is regimented.  The training guide tells me to run 5 miles, I run 5 miles.  In those many hours of running I think about what a fabulous dad my husband is to my daughter.  How lucky she is to have a Dad who thinks the world of her and is an example of how a husband should treat his wife and one day how she should expect to be treated.  I think about what a sweet girl I have.  My sweet girl wanted to put band-aids on the owies of those hurt at the Boston Marathon bombing when I explained her her just recently how people had been hurt.  I think about what an amazing big sister she is going to be as she asks to kiss me one more time before bed (even if it is a stall tactic).  I have cried once or twice wondering when this Baby 2 will make its presence known.  For the record running and crying do not go well together.

While running has been something I have done to occupy myself I also feel like its a bit of a sacrifice for what I am yearning for.  I still sometimes wonder what I did or didn't do in life to make something that should be so simple to become such a long journey.  Sometimes I think its a long journey - a marathon of waiting while other times I feel like waiting is a long pause in life.  Do I schedule time off this summer or will I need the time for a maternity leave?  Do I pack away the crib or will I just be putting it back together?

The wait for Baby 2 is definitely different but still ever present on my mind.  Waiting for Baby Girl was like my 20 mile run- my heart ached, my arms yearned, and my eyes cried we did it- and she is perfect.  In a few weeks I will take to the start line of the marathon and know I can make it because I've done 20 whats 26.2?  I waited for what seemed like forever for Baby Girl- I'm going to win again with Baby 2.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Visit 2

Visit 2 is in the making.

We are planning to go to PA for Baby Girls birth brothers birthday party.  Last year we went to her birth sisters birthday party.  Last year I was nervous because 1) I'm not a party person and 2) thats a lot of people you dont know in one place.  It turned out perfect.  It was VERY low key - just family and everyone was busy including me keeping Baby Girl out of trouble.

This year is going to be a little different.  Last year D was in jail so she wasn't available.  She did call during the party and I got to speak with her for a few minutes on the phone.  (Add that to the list of the things I've never done before- a prison phone call- yes they do interrupt occasionally to remind you that you are talking to an inmate.)  This year D is home.

D has received and sent letters consistently but we have not seen D since the day we walked out of the hospital.  My worries this year are less about the party and what that will be like and more about how Baby girl will respond to her.  Ds interaction with Baby Girl in the hospital was very physical, lots of hugs and kisses, and holding tight.  Baby Girl isn't a hugs and kisses kinda girl.  I'm worried D will feel rejected by Baby Girl since she does take time to warm up now that she is 2 years old and not 2 weeks old.  I have warned D in letters that Baby Girl is shy as well as that she prefers men (she prefers her grandfathers to her grandmothers 10 fold).  I hope that she is picking up my hints of what to expect from Baby Girl.  Within the time that we are there Baby Girl will likely warm up and allow D to pick her up and even hug her but its not going to happen right away (I doubt).  I want this experience to be positive for both of them and I just worry about D getting hurt.

We are going to book the same hotel so we can have the pool to use again.  We will go to the hospital she was born so we can show the nurses and doctors that NAS babies don't all turn out with ADHD and delayed; I mean so we can show them how much she has grown and show her where she was born.  I'd like to do a museum or zoo like we did last year and then top it off with the party.  Baby Girl vaguely understands the idea of the trip and that makes it more exciting.

I again provided J the information that we were planning on visiting and that if he was interested in a visit with us he needed to contact us.  No response.  I again didn't provide him with specifics just that we would be visiting.  At the time I initially informed him of our plans our plans were as simple as we knew: we would be visiting with no date yet set.  I kept the plans vague for two reasons 1) If he is interested in a visit I would have helped facilitate a weekend that worked for both D and J and 2) I dont want him to think that last minute he can change his mind and just decide he wants a visit.  Its not that I want to prevent a visit.  What I want him to know is that unlike when we were in the hospital he can't go back and fourth hemming and hawing about if he is going to visit or not.  I need to help Baby Girl get ready for said visit and then said visit needs to happen- no backing out.  Yes life sucks and people rescind on plans but for key players like a birthfather - you better show up if you say you are especially now that she understands more.  So far he hasn't' said he is going to show up to be part of her life since the Friday before her discharge from the hospital.

In some ways it sucks and in other ways its better.  Before you jump on me for being anti-birth father let me explain.  I'd rather him commit to being IN or OUT.  I'd rather he be consistent, which so far he has been consistently out.  At the hospital he wanted to be in her life so much he wanted our address so he could visit and told us he would send us money whenever we needed it (eye roll).  He was for/against the adoption as quickly as the wind changed direction.  I don't want that for my Baby Girl.  I'd rather be able to read her his application which states he wants her to make contact with him when she is ready (and I PRAY he at least keeps his word for that because I'm sure he was thinking it would be 18 my guess 9-12).  If I had it my way and the world was full of unicorns he would write letters, and show up for visits.  The world isn't full of unicorns and I'm glad at least he is consistent.  In the end I think it will be easier to help Baby Girl understand then if he popped in and out of her life depending on his mood.

So thats the trip plan as of yet.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Delinquent

Yes I know!  I have not sat down at a computer to do more then read the paper and pay bills.  In part due to my marathon training (I ran 18 miles yesterday- my feet are KILLING ME!)  Also Baby Girl is now in a big girl bed for the last month or so since she got her lets stuck in the slats of the crib.  This means each night one of us (me) has to sit in the rocking chair next to her bed and read so that she doesn't keep getting out of bed.  Without the "babysitter" she gets up for hours.  With us next to her it turns a bed time routine from hours to about 45 minutes.  As a result  my blog and I are not one.  The marathon is in about a month so I will see you all soon!!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Running Vs Blogging

So yesterday I ran 13.1 miles.  Thats 2 hours and 3 minutes.

I have been running during Baby Girls nap times and that is usually my blogging time.  So I have not forgotten about my series on NAS babies.  In fact I spend a lot of time during my runs thinking (what else do you do while you run for 2 hours?)

So please be patient with me- I'm blogging in my head :)

As an aside.  I did speak with my SIL vs calling her.  She sounded disappointed that we liked the name we did but seemed to understand the family connection.  I'm glad I told her because she wouldn't have been happy with using nicknames.  It also gave me a chance to let her know the boys name that way she didn't fall in love with it only to be disappointed.  Yes in a way I'm selfish because I'm holding two names when we will only use one.... but there is a lot to adoption that isn't fair so I'm sticking to my guns.  I'm guessing they will have 2-3 children and in that case they can use whatever name they want after their first.


Sunday, February 23, 2014

I'm going to be an Aunt

My emotions ran from excited, to sad, to ok, to depressed, to numb.  I had a feeling that was the news we were going to be getting.  I appreciated they told us in person and it was an understated announcement.  I did my best to push out the excitement.  I'm happy for them I really really am.  I'm sad for me.  I know its not about me its about them.  I'm glad they dont need to deal with infertility.  I'm broken that I do.  Lifes not fair- nope not fair.

I think I did an OK job at exuding my happy feelings for them and suppressing my sad feelings for myself.  I'm not sure how I did with that.  In the process of being happy for them I asked them their due date: Sept 19th.  Will you share names?  yes.  Want to share?  Sure we like BabyGirl2 its the name we heard a parent yell at their child in the mall.  I went numb.

BabyGirl2 is the name we had picked as it is my Grandmothers name.  Not overly old fashioned but we like it.  My other grandmothers name is the middle name we have picked.  We have two male family names for the boy name.

I didn't say anything because what do you say?  Thats MY name!  We had it FIRST!  I waited until we were in the car driving away before I cried.  A release- not sad, not happy, just numb.

So tonight I wrote this letter which I plan to include with a small gift for my neice/nephew to be:

Dear Sister In Law,

I wanted to write to you to about the amazing news you shared with us.  I want to first say that I am so happy for you both and I know you will make fantastic parents.  Its not always an easy job but seeing how you and Brother- In-Law work together I know you are up for this life long challenge.

With that said I also wanted to share with you that fertility is bittersweet for me.  I never would wish our journey on another family while at the same time our not so easy path lead to an amazing little girl.  Its often said in the adoption world that adoption is not a fix to infertility and I continue to mourn not getting the chance to be pregnant.  I put on a strong front but pregnancy is something I still grieve.  I don’t expect anything different from the two of you and I’m so excited to finally get to be an aunt.   Just please do know that I just might need time to outwardly show that I truly am excited for you guys.

It is extremely likely that your bundle of joy will arrive before our second child.  We have no control over the order of life.  Your oldest and our youngest will likely be somewhat close in age and look forward to that cousinly bond that I got to have with my cousins.  We had planned on keeping the names we chose a secret just like we did with Baby Girl.  I want to share with you the names we chose:  BabyGirl2 after both of my Grandmothers and she would go by Girl2, and Baby Boy after Grandpa and both of our dads and he would go by Boy.  I come from a big family with multiple people with the same name (we have two Ps; three variations of A, two Bs, and a M and L).  I didn’t know how to react when you told me you guys liked BabyGirl2 for a girl because we love it as well (and do a ton of other people given that BabyGirl2 is in the top 10 girls names).  I wanted to let you know our intentions.  Neither of us know the gender of our baby so for all we know we could have two boys.  I’m sure if you guys pick BabyGirl2 and we both have girls that there will be some fun way to differentiate between the two and I’m sure would bond them even more.


I don’t write requesting your sympathy but just understanding.  Becoming a mom is the most rewarding experience of my life and I can’t wait to share in this with you. 

With Love-
Sister-In-Law

Monday, February 17, 2014

Books!

So I have been sicker than a dog as has everyone in our house.  Its a revolving door between the stomach bug and the not so common cold.  We did get a chance to leave the house briefly to go to the library so I thought I'd give a quick review of two books that we found during our last two trips to the library.  Promise I'll get back to my NAS posts once I can sit at a computer long enough to do the research I feel like this topic deserves.  Until then... enjoy!

Do you love me?
This was our find last time we went to the library.  Written and illustrated by Joost Elffers & Curious Pictures.  I was initially not a fan.  It seemed overly needy, soft and uncomfortable for me.  Baby Girl had me read it over and over and unlike many books that I can now recite by memory the more I read it the more I grew to appreciate it.  Short and simple.  "Do you love me?  Always, dear.  Do you need me?  Ever near.  Would you leave me?  Never ever."  In the facebook group I am a part of many of the moms to older adopted children have discussed their childrens insecurities and fears.  I think this book addresses those questions of loving, needing and leaving.  Since this book is not an "adoption book" I think it also shows that it is not just children that are adopted that experience these questions.  Children are so complex and deep that at times I think their simplicity is hard to realize.  Having Grandma come and visit but then leave may leave any child wondering if you will do the same.  Other major life events such as death, divorce, or a friend moving away may lead the child to question our permanency in their lives.  Adoption clearly heightens that fear but I think this book has helped me realize that sometimes maybe us adults look too deeply into simple questions about our permanency as a question about adoption.


Shades of People
Another adoption find by Baby Girl (She has great taste in books my I add).  This book again not adoption specific but pertinent to many families that grow via adoption.  This book helps children see that skin is just a persons wrapping paper and we are all the same on the inside.  It also discusses how in the same family there maybe different skin tones.  Baby Girl is more interested in the pictures then the words but I'm always surprised at when I don't think she is listening to the words I'm saying how much is sinking in.




Monday, February 10, 2014

Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS)

Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) is a general medical term to describe infants that were prenatally exposed to narcotics.  BAbies with NAS have their digestive, respiratory and nervous system affected.  During pregnancy drugs are passed from the mother to the fetus via the placenta and surpass the blood/brain barrier.  Exposure to the fetus cause the unborn child to also become addicted to the substances they are exposed to.  The baby is then born addicted to said substances.  Not all babies born to women addicted to illicit substances go on to experience withdrawal symptoms.  According to Standfordchildrens.org "Opiates, such as heroin and methadone, cause withdrawal in over half of babies exposed prenatally. Cocaine may cause some withdrawal, but the main symptoms in the baby are due to the toxic effects of the drug itself."  

Symptoms often do not present at birth but take 24 hours to days later to present.  In Baby Girls case it was a few days after her birth that she experienced symptoms and D was lead to believe that she was out of the window of risk when she presented with symptoms (I believe she presented with symptoms on day 3).  Accordin to Standforchilderens.org symptoms that an NAS baby may present with are "tremors, irritability, sleep problems, [a distinct] high pitched cry, [high] tone, hyperactive reflexes [specifically the startle reflex], seizures, yawning, poor feeding/suck, vomiting, diarrhea, [diaper rash], dehydration, sweating, and fever or unstable temperature."

NAS is diagnosed based on their symptoms which are scored using the Finnegan NAS Score.  According to http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0004566/ a toxigology report can be obtained from the first stool.  A verbal history and toxicology report of the mother also can be used to monitor the baby for symptoms of withdrawal.  Though several sources reported that mothers are likely to underreport exposures.  D's verbal report was inconsistent between the medical chart and her adoption paper work.  The symptoms that Baby Girl presented with were not consistent with the verbal report from D provided the medical staff; which likely means Baby Girl had more exposures than we initially were told about.

There is also questions in the literature if it is appropriate to state the baby is born "addicted" as the fetus was subjected to an exposure and was not a willing participate.  "Prenatally exposed" appears to be an accepted term.

http://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=neonatal-abstinence-syndrome-90-P02387




Saturday, February 8, 2014

Two Years Ago

Two years ago tonight according to Facebook my baby girl had a good day.  She had PT and OT that day which was my favorite part of her stay at the hospital.  My memories now are highly dependent on the photos I posted on Facebook which I did daily giving a general update since I wasn't able to use my phone in in the NICU.

Two years ago on Feb 2, 2012 I was thrust into an unknown world.  I had been in a NICU once when I was an OT student and was there for approximately 5 minutes.  I had been exposed to drug culture in my upbringing.  I thought I understood methadone treatment.  I had researched drug exposures and the long term effects.  We were comfortable checking off almost all illegal exposures and chose to try to avoid as much as possible legal exposures (cigarettes and alcohol) though we were willing to discuss.  I learned really fast that I knew NOTHING.

I dont know that I have ever stated that Baby Girl was an NAS (Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome) baby.  This is a general name given to babies that are born exposed.  Exposure can mean that the mother took illegal drugs or was a part of a methadone program.

Though I still dont plan on sharing exactly what exposures Baby Girl experienced I do think I am finally read to share my experience in the NICU.  I wish I really understood what I was getting myself into.

Baby Girl is exceptional.  She is at or above all milestones socially, language, fine motor and gross motor.  She loves brussel sprouts more than pasta.  She is funny.  She is compassionate.  She is totally potty trained (except for at night).  I couldn't ask for anything more.  She is 2 and thus wants to do things on her own, has her own mind, and chucks food she doesn't like (still figuring out how to break that habit).

She did take me on a ride that first month that I honestly was not ready for.  I was a new Mom.  I was in a city where I knew not a soul.  I was new to adoption.  I was new to NAS babies.  I was a mess.  My friends and family often comment on how impressed they were with what I did, but they didn't see me crying at her bed side, the desperate phone calls to DH, the sleepless nights, or my poor diet.  I was a mess.  I held it together because this girl that I had just met was worth fighting for but without her needs I would have fallen apart.

So over the next month I want to address a few topics:
- NAS babies
- Exposures and what they mean
- Working with/communicating with a substance user
- NICUs
- Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Speech
- The Finnegan Scale
- The experience of Weaning
- Being an "outsider"
- DCF and Private Adoption
- Aftercare
- Outcomes
- Opening an Adoption with Drug Exposures (my experience)
- Jail and Adoption
- How I explained a month in the hospital
- What I gained from my experience

Some of these I will pull together resources that will be helpful sprinkled with my own first hand experience.  Other topics I will address more from my own perspective.  None of the posts should replace doing your own research or consulting a pediatrician regarding your exposures checklist.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Blogger Friends

Blogger friends are people you have never met in person however they are the women that stand by your side thru a journey no one else will ever understand.  Blogger friends slowly morph from internet friends, to friends you pass on prayer stones to once you have your placement.  Blogger friends become friends you exchange Christmas cards with.  Blogger are friends that are willing to mail you cookies with letters on them half way across the country because you are having a Chicka Chicka Boom Boom birthday party for your child.  Blogger friends are the people you talk about all the time like you saw them yesterday.  DH now knows who I'm talking about now (with no more explanation then they are one of my "adoption friends").  Two years ago I sat here blogging and wrote about how adopting a baby didn't seem "real."  I couldn't have made it thru this journey without each and every one of you both my "real" and "blogger friends."  I'm so fortunate to have been able to go on your journeys as well.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Back to Work

So this is my last Friday with Baby Girl.  Starting next week she will go to daycare 5 days a week.  My goal was to make it to when she was 2 before I went back 5 days a week.  Baby Girl turns 2 next Saturday.  So I made my goal.  It makes me sad though to think that I'm not going to be afforded this time with Baby2.  DH told me that Baby2 always gets the shaft and s/he will get used to it real fast.

Baby Girl LOVES "school."  They have taught her so much there.  There are thing though like potty training that because I had the three day weekend has gone SO smooth.  She loves her friends and talks about them on our Fridays together.  I know she wont think twice about it.

We have what we need but saving for Baby2 was getting stressful.  I feel like we are one major catastrophe away from financial issues.  (To me financial problems means I have debt on my credit card that I can't pay off at the end of the month).  To me being financially sound/smart is part of being a good parent.  I dont EVER expect to give my children a ride to college or give them everything they want.  I do want to have the financial freedom to visit my parents once a year as a family, not feel stressed at Christmas, and occasionally have a date night with DH.

She is growing up so fast!  My favorite line from this week was "Dada, Mamas being very very silly." when I was dancing to her music.  Love that girl.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Seeing it Both Ways

Its kinda strange to say but drug dealers, drugs, and the crimes around them have been with me my whole life.  Growing up I lived just blocks away from Jeffery Dahlmer the notorious murderer.  The going ons on my neighborhood were not pleasantville.  We were not allowed to go to our neighborhood friends homes because most of their parents were dealers or on drugs.  I dont ever recall a friend inviting me over it seemed to be a rule that was understood without it ever being said.  The neighborhood kids played in our backyard because we were the only backyard with a play structure.  Our yard had a lock on it which had to be locked/unlocked to allow our friends in to play.  Only my parents were allowed to lock and unlock it.  The people in our neighborhood were good people.  Most of them grew up in the lifestyle they lived and then went on to repeat it.  When we moved away one of the neighbors confronted my mother asking why she we were leaving.  My mother told her we had lived in the home for 10 years and it was time to move on.  The woman backed up, let her defenses down and told my mother she had never lived in one place for a straight 10 months.  I miss that neighborhood believe it or not.  It was one in which we watched each others homes, and looked out for each other.  You had to.  Suburbia was isolating even though I was finally able to go to friends homes I spent less time with friends.  Each family stayed in the confines of their property.  Gone was our backyard as the neighborhood "park" where kids from all over the neighborhood came to play.  Gone were the parents who would parent all the children on the block.  I missed it.  I couldnt invite my old friends over to my new home because most of their parents were drug dealers or on drugs.  There is something that brings a community together when you need each other for safety which cannot be duplicated in suburbia where community is based on voluntary social interactions. I still miss it.

I grew up, moved to a rural area (though those that live here would argue I live in a city).  We bought a home and settled in.  It was the first month living here that I picked up that we lived across the street from a drug dealer.  DH works for the town we live in and no one seemed to be aware of the presence of this dealer.  I started to complain to the town.  It took us about six months to get a no parking sign across the street from our home since they would park from the corner and down the street.  So I made it so they had to park a little farther.  It took about a year to get a real investigation going.  It took three years until the DEA broke down their door the week before Mothers Day. Turns out this unknown drug house could be linked back to every drug related crime in our area.  This home in our quiet neighborhood was a hub.  It quietly operated for years with three elderly couples as neighbors no one was the wiser.  Unfortunately our intervention was too late.  Two houses down from us lived a family with a son and daughter.  The girl was a soccer star and she babysat for neighborhood children.  Unfortunately the children of the drug dealer were two of the children she babysat for.  She was introduced to drugs, became the dealers girlfriend, and well the rest is history- her life went downward and her parents despite their efforts loss their daughter to the dealer across the street.

In between when we bought our home, and when the dealer was finally busted that we started our wait for Baby Girl.  We filled out every adoptive parents favorite worksheet the "preference" check list.  Most illegal drugs we were OK with most legal substances we were willing to "consider" but would have rather checked "no."  I was so focused on our future child I never really thought that if we were checking boxes about drugs it means that the birthparents were thus involved in drugs.  So when Baby Girl arrived and she was addicted to multisubstances we were ready  and OK with her exposures.  What I still wasn't ready for was D's (and although firmly denied J's) addictions.  It has taken me time to return back to a place of understanding that D and J have both made poor choices but they still are birthparents to my daughter, son/daughters, sister/brother, and family/friends to others.  They are people who deserve a chance to overcome even if the odds are not in their favor.

Last night an article was written about one of the people connected to the drug house.  Again like in every article our small town paper writes about the drug house he brought up the name of the girlfriend of the dealer.  He reminded us all that she graduated from the local high school in 2005 and was a star soccer player.  He wrote a paragraph about her when there really was no reason to even mention her while he only stated the home the drugs were dealt from was owned by the dealer.  Has the neighbor girl continued to struggle since her release from jail? yes.  Is it fair to continue to put her name in the paper over and over? no.  How can one pick up, and move forward when you google her name and all you get are articles linked to drugs?  D interestingly enough shares the name with a murder victim that made national news.  So before you googled D's name and you would find her mug shot.  Now you google her name you find story after story about this other woman who tragically died.

I do think that when someone makes poor choices that there should be consequences.  I don't trust someone that is currently using as far as I can throw them.  Just because someone verbalizes the desire to become sober doesn't mean I think they are ready.  Drugs do horrible things to those who use them, and their families.

I also think that people deserve the right to move forward.  To overcome their poor choices.  My hope for D, J and our neighbor girl is that they have the strength to realize that they have the strength to move forward and that there are those of us willing to forgive and provide a hand to get back up.  So I wrote our local crime reporter and told him to leave our neighbor girl alone.  Stop reporting on her unless of course she is involved in something newsworthy.  Hopefully he stops being a bully, lets her be, and starts picking on the real criminal- the dealer.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Years

This year is to getting ready for Baby2.  Physically, emotionally, and financially.

During our wait for Baby Girl I trained for a half marathon.  DH and I did it together.  He outlined the program and I followed.

What I learned about myself via running is 1) I'm not half bad (I'd even claim I'm a good runner) and 2) That I need physical challenges to help me thru emotional challenges.

So I got started thinking.  Maybe I'd run a half again but this time alone.  This means that I would need to self motivate but it also would be my own accomplishment.  I then kept thinking... I've done the half- maybe I can do the whole thing?

So my goal of 2014 is to run 26.2 miles.  I'm going to start off slow.  See how my knees/ankle feel about this goal.  I think I'm ready for the physical challenge of running I also know that it will help me emotionally become ready for Baby2.

So here is to 2014 and all that will come with it!

What challenges will you accomplish?