Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Developmental Explosion, Part II

Continuing where I left off with this post... I didn't want to put you all completely to sleep!

I guess Aidan was a bit of a late bloomer as far as becoming attached to an object for sleep or comfort.  Unless you call that object Mom or Dad!  Finally, though, there is an object of his affection.

Yup, it's an Eeyore snuggle buddy.  And he LOVES it.  It's an absolute must-have for bedtime and naps.  If Eeyore isn't there, there'll be no sleeping.  I went back to where I bought this one to buy a backup one just in case, and they didn't carry them anymore.  So I had to order one online and pay shipping!!  He will sometimes settle for other snuggle buddies in a pinch, but Eeyore is his strong preference.  And I like the fact that this particular one doesn't have a rattle in it.  It's so precious to watch him curl up with Eeyore and play with his ears to fall asleep.

Speaking of going to sleep, I guess I need to confess that he's not totally off bottles yet.  He only has a bottle at bedtime, though, and first thing in the morning.  That is going to change very soon.  We probably could have pulled it already, but I had read (a hundred times) to do that when there aren't any other major changes going on.  He started the transition to his new room at daycare about a month ago, and it's been really hard on him, so we decided to wait until that blows over.  I suspect another week or so and he'll be ready.  Honestly, I don't expect him to throw a fit about it; I guess that's one big reason that I haven't been too stressed about him still having the bottle.  It's been more of a convenience for us than a demand of his, really.  It's just going to be a matter of making a new routine at bedtime.

I read in my trusty What to Expect book that saying 'goodnight' to various objects in the house can be a helpful transition to signal bedtime, so hubby (who typically puts him to bed) has started doing that.  Every night they put his nighttime diaper on, slather on some lotion, don the nice warm jammies, and then they set out to say goodnight to each of the rooms upstairs before bed.  He waves at the doorway of each one, which is pretty cute.

On the food front, this boy is eating his weight in food every day, I swear.  He is a machine right now.  They feed him breakfast, lunch and two snacks at daycare each day, and it's really good food, and he is still starving by dinner.  Perfect example - yesterday, he had cheerios, milk and bananas for breakfast at daycare; crackers and water for morning snack; meatloaf, sweet potatoes, pears and milk for lunch; and a muffin with oranges and water for afternoon snack.  Then, when we came home, he was really demanding food, angry-like, so I started giving him a few snacky things and he didn't stop until after dinner.  He ate: two full-size graham crackers, an entire fairly-large banana, a slice of cheese, about 20 goldfish crackers, some cubed pear, a handful of Crispix (can you tell I'm trying to quell his hunger with snacks while I try to do other things?), a handful of Cheerios, about 3/4 cup of macaroni and cheese and hot dogs, and probably 6 ounces of water (he requested water this time, not milk).

And he was still signing 'more' when we cut him off after all that food!

Dude.  Where does it all go?!  I have no idea.  I've noticed his face getting pudgy again and his belly is starting to pop out again too.  I suspect he's bulking up for an upward growth spurt in the very near future.  Geesh, at this rate I'll never be able to keep up with his intake when he's a teenager!  The great news is that he loves his fruits and veggies.  Given the choice he'll eat a veggie over most other foods.  I try to always put veggies on his tray first so he starts nibbling on those before he gets the main course.  His favorite veggies are corn and green beans.  He'll eat peas, but he finds it much more enjoyable to just smush them and finger-paint!  Favorite fruit is - for sure - bananas.  But I haven't found one yet that he doesn't like or won't eat.  We are very fortunate in that he's a good eater and will always try something new.  He's one of the least picky eaters I've ever seen.  Once in a great while he'll turn up his nose at something he normally likes, but it's rare.

But don't let me make you think it's all peaches and cream here, people.

Apparently - and I didn't know this until yesterday - something happens at 15 months that makes a sweet and adorable baby turn into a creature that could land a starring role in an Exorcist movie.  No lie.  He's been a little moody lately, but I chalked that up to the changes at school, teething, the fact that he's getting over a stomach bug, etc.  However, yesterday's brief trip to the grocery store was the last straw.  We were in there maybe twenty minutes; he spent at least nineteen of those minutes screeching, shrieking, screaming, crying, gasping for air, and flinging his head to the side/front/back for extra dramatic flair.  This is not the first time it's happened, but it was certainly the worst.

Of course, I immediately blamed myself.  I must be spoiling him.  I've ruined this child already.  I thought back to before we had kids, when we'd see a kid this age acting like that, we'd always think 'geez, parent(s), are you really gonna let your kid rule you like that?'  Well, now I am that parent.  Add to all of this that I have just a wee stubborn streak myself (yes, very minor, ahem...) and it's just a bad situation.  He starts acting like that and I decide it's a good time for him to learn something about how to behave in the store, and next thing you know, he's in total hysterics (despite my ignoring him completely) and I feel like a prime candidate for the Susan Smith Mother of the Year Award.

After the raving beast was in bed last night, I did what any desperate mother who isn't allowed to drink (for health reasons, not pregnancy) does: I turned to Google for answers.  I typed "tantrums at" ... and guess what the SECOND suggestion to pop up was?  Yup.  "Tantrums at 15 months."  What?!  Not two years old, or three, or six?  Fifteen months specifically?!  Turns out this is some very special time in a kid's life during which tantrums are new and exciting and likely to get a reaction from Mom and Dad (and everyone in the grocery store... and nearby parking lots).  Who knew.  So I've not ruined my kid!  Sweet!

Everything I read suggested the things we are already doing.  Don't engage the child mid-tantrum.  Ignore the behavior if the child isn't in any physical danger throwing the tantrum where they are.  (If they launch into their tirade whilst standing on the couch, you are to gently move them to the floor or their crib or wherever and then wander off and wait for it to pass.)  Trouble is, my tendency as a parent is to correct bad behavior, not ignore it, so this one is hard for me.  I have to remind myself on a constant basis that while he does pick up on some things around him at this point, he is not yet wise enough to be reasoned with.  I explain to him that Mommy only plays with babies who aren't throwing fits, but to expect him to understand that at this point is unreasonable.

So it appears that he and I both have things to work on.  He needs to quit acting like an honorary member of the Kardashian family, and I need to stifle my own stubbornness long enough to get through the tantrum and return to harmony.  And Daddy needs to work on not coddling during tantrums.  And when he's a little older, there'll be plenty of discussions about good versus bad behavior.  But right now, he just isn't equipped to handle them.  So I suppose I'll save them up.  It's not going to be fun to be him in a couple years when I unleash them all at once!

On a happier note, I'm getting more excited about Christmas.  A friend posted something on her blog today that served as a great reminder that while there may not be a giant pile of presents this year, we already have more gifts than could ever be counted with dollars.  We have each other, we have a warm house and food to eat, and we have the most beautiful baby boy to share it all with.  And two sweet little dogs, too.  Life is good.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Developmental Explosion

Before Aidan came along, I had all these thoughts and plans about how I was going to document his growth.  I was going to be the picture-perfect Mom, you know.  His baby book would be filled in with every new sound, action, expression, and measurement.  I'd write a blog every week about all the things he was doing, how I was feeling, on and on.  I'd write long, sappy letters to him and tuck them away in the aforementioned baby book so he could read them later and know just how much he was loved.

Well, not one of those things has happened!  Life gets in the way, doesn't it?!

Anyway, it is a whole new ballgame having another little human being in the house who is so... mobile.  Obviously we knew this would happen, but knowing and experiencing are two different things.  There are two CD/DVD racks in our living room that are off-limits, and it's pretty funny (read: aggravating) that the more tired or cranky he is, the more attractive they become.  He has 300 toys in the same room, but those racks are like Disney World when he's in a mood.  I would have moved them already if I had a good place to put them!  Another new development is the inclination to climb things.  He has several little ride-on toys (cars, firetrucks, etc)... he has figured out that if he rolls one of them to where he wants to reach something, he can climb up on it and reach his goal.  Thankfully, he usually has a reasonable fear to accompany this new found skill.

Almost a year after entering daycare, it was finally time for my little monkey to graduate from the baby room to the next one up.  Despite the painstaking effort of the daycare to introduce him to the new room gradually and gently, he took the transition pretty hard.  I was really surprised, as were his teachers in the baby room.  They kept telling me, "but he's so easy-going, he's so social, we didn't expect him to bat an eye at transition time!"  Who knows.  His first full day in the big-boy room was last Monday, and every day through the week he improved a little bit in terms of interacting with the other kids and handling things well.  Morning drop-offs are still a bit brual, but he's getting better.  I'm so proud of him, and the new room and new teacher are both outstanding.  We pay a ridiculous amount for child care, but knowing that your child is being well taken care of, that they are genuinely loved, and that they are learning and spending time in such a positive environment is priceless.  It's a church-affiliated daycare, so I like that he's getting exposure to the Bible and everything that goes with that.

Speaking of daycare, I've been particularly impressed with how much they have taught him in sign language.  I always wanted to do this with him, but as with everything else, life gets in the way, and they beat me to the punch.  He is reliably signing: more, please, milk, water, all done, up... that's all I can think of.  It's so nice being able to communicate with him before his speech is 'there!'

Don't get me wrong, he's talking a little bit.  As I mentioned in my list, he's saying: Dada, Mama, car, Grandma, dog (which usually comes out dog-dog), woof-woof, otter, water, a couple of his friends' names at daycare, yeah/no (which both kinda sound the same and are used interchangeably?).  He's really into mimicking people right now, so that's been a lot of fun.

I think I'm going to pause this little monologue and continue it in my next post... don't want to bore you TOO badly...

* * *

I am so very excited that Nick at Nite has been running episodes of Friends!!  I liked the show when it was on, but I really adore it now.  Maybe someday when money is flowing again, I'll invest in the series on DVD.  It's definitely one that I could watch over and over.

Oh, and one more thought.  It's seven days til Christmas.  I haven't wrapped a single gift.  Uh oh!  I mean, it won't take nearly as long as usual since we had to go SOOO very light on gifts this year, but still.  Our tree currently has nothing under it, and that part kinda drives the point home about how broke we are, so I should really get it fixed.  Hopefully tomorrow I can bring myself to start wrapping the few things we did buy!  We have three gifts for Aidan, nothing for each other, and two gifts for the family Christmas drawing.  That's it.  It's nice not to spend the weeks leading up to Christmas in such a frantic tizzy of shopping... but it's hard too, because my favorite part of Christmas is spoiling those I love and making them happy.  So it's a bit of an adjustment for us.

How is your holiday season going??

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Halloween and Other Thoughts

Greetings! I am participating in the Adoption Bloggers Interview Project! Just tonight I received the email telling me who my partner is. I'm pretty excited! She is an adoptive Mama as well, though I believe all four of her miracles came to her through foster care.

This was technically Aidan's second Halloween, though I don't really count last year since he was only 6 weeks old. This year he was a monkey! There's a picture below.

We didn't really trick or treat, unless you count hitting both grandparents' houses the night before. Aidan is still too young to 'get it,' so I didn't see any reason to freeze his little bits off trick or treating.

I can't wait for next year when he will understand the whole thing better and we can take him trick or treating. We live in the perfect neighborhood for it.

Speaking of candy, which makes me think of tooth decay ever since I had to have a cavity in a wisdom tooth filled last month, my poor boy is teething. And by that I don't just mean teething. I mean, TEETHING. Best we can figure, he is cutting 8-9 teeth at once right now. All at once! Poor little guy. It's been rough on the whole family at times. Hopefully this means it will be over quickly rather than dragging on for months.

In other news, I've been thinking a lot lately about adoption situations in my own extended family. There is quite the story involved with all of this, and I am feeling the itch to start writing about it. Not a blog post - a book. I already have r blessing of the most key person in the story; now I'm starting to ask around with others and see what they think. I would change all names to protect privacy, but it is a really incredible story that I think should be told. If nothing else, it's a fascinating comparison of how adoption worked 50-odd years ago and how it works now. But I'm told there are some people in the family who don't want the story out, names or not. More to follow on this... I hope?

Friday, September 30, 2011

What I Learned From the Stomach Flu

(Photo courtesy morningsick.org. Ironic, no?)

Just when I thought I knew everything about everything (okay, maybe not)... I got the stomach flu.  Actually, as a friend pointed out, it wasn't a true influenza.  Most likely just some random stomach virus.  I don't like to think about how I contracted it.  *shudder*

I've had food poisoning a few times in my life.  It was awful.  Then I got this bug, and found out that food poisoning is like a week in Tinkerbell's castle by comparison.  Like, with free Mickey-shaped Belgian waffles every morning.

So, on to my list.  Things I learned from my "stomach flu":
  • It IS possible to lose eight pounds in 24 hours and not die.  Yes, this is a pound every three hours.  Any doctor would say that's unsafe.  I say it's the lone perk of this madness.
  • It is also likely that being sick enough to lose a pound every three hours makes any sane person WISH they would die.  Repeatedly.  There would've even been a cherry on top, had I been able to stomach the thought of cherries.
  • Gatorade makes prettier vomit than does hamburger.  (What, TMI?)
  • No matter what made me sick, whether food poisoning or something else, I do NOT want anything to do with the foods that came back up when I got sick.  The thought of a hamburger makes me want to toss my cookies even now.
  • When the fever breaks at 6am, I shouldn't go thinking I'll be up for working the same day.  Talk about wiped... out...
  • After being completely devoid of contents for several days, the gastrointestinal system does not particularly enjoy the re-introduction process.  It makes its discord known.
  • Ultimately, cheese pizza is the answer.

(Photo courtesy Google Images)

What?  Yes, I just said cheese pizza.

Doesn't seem to "go" with the stomach flu, does it?

Well, after the bug itself was long gone, yet I was still feeling like someone had taken a cheese grater to my stomach, I had occasion to visit Pizza Hut for a visit with Aidan's birthfamily.  (More on that later.)  I was seriously nervous about dumping something greasy and heavy like pizza on a stomach that had been so ripped up for several days.  However, I also figured I had nothing to lose.

I was right!

One slice of cheese pizza later, I started to feel... normal?!?!  It helped so much that I had another piece the next day.  Yup, same effect!  I'm a brand new woman.  Who knew?  Today, I even have my energy back, and my sense of humor too.

Oh, and I don't know about you, but I'm thinking this is a huge untapped advertising resource for Pizza Hut.  "Post-stomach-flu digestive complications?  Call us today for help!"

Just sayin'.

Monday, September 19, 2011

A Beautiful Moment

I can't have kids.  This is no surprise to anyone who reads this blog.  I'm very open about it.  I've probably made a person or two uncomfortable in the past by volunteering that in conversations about having children.  The truth is that I don't see why I should be ashamed of it.  It's like having blonde hair or size 11-wide feet.  (Yes, it's true, feel free to send pity my way for that one... and money for huge shoes.)

My point is that - again, you all know - we went through a LOT to become parents.  One of the many things covered in our pre-adoption educational classes and meetings was transracial adoption.  We were told up front that, since we had no preferences about the race of our child, the chances were good that we would end up adopting transracially.  This was a total non-issue for us from the start.

We were chosen to adopt a child who is Alaska Native, not Caucasian.  We do, in fact, have a transracial adoption.  Again, for us, a non-issue.  For some others, not so much.  You can learn a lot ahead of time, but you never know what that will feel like in day-to-day life until you get there.

People have been very accepting of this fact, for the most part.  Those who feel the need to comment usually do so at the grocery store.  I tend to believe that people are generally well-meaning, not malicious, but sometimes I wonder.  Among the comments and questions that we've been subjected to by strangers:
  • Where did you get him?  (When I'm on my toes, I respond with something like, "found him out front of Walmart and thought he was cute.")
  • Where is he from?  (Mars?)
  • Is he Japanese/Chinese/Asian?  (Okay, this is kind of a fair question, he is a bit Asian-looking.)
  • Was it hard to adopt him?  (What?  No, you just go down to the Baby Store on 4th Avenue and pick one.)
  • Wow, I hear it's really hard for white people to adopt Native babies, how did you pull that off?  (I usually take the informative route when I get this one and tell them that his birthmother chose us to be his parents and her wishes trump anyone else's in the adoption scenario.)
  • How much did your adoption cost?  (Probably about the same your prenatal appointments plus hospital delivery cost... except insurance doesn't cover adoption.)
  • Can you not have your own kids?  (I particularly love this one - Aidan IS "my own" child, even though he also has a birthmother who loves him very much, and who we all love in return.)
  • I always wanted to adopt, too. I want a little Chinese baby.  (That should be easy enough, like I said, you just pick out the one you want.  You know, like a litter of puppies from a cardboard box in the back of a pickup by the highway.)
  • I could never adopt. Sometimes I take care of my sister's kids.  It's just too hard when they aren't your own.  (Umm, it's not the same as babysitting.  I don't babysit my son, I parent him.  He knows I'm his Mom.)
Okay, so truth be told, I don't say the things I put in parentheses up there... except the one about finding Aidan on a street corner.  It serves two purposes.  One, it highlights the absurdity of the question, and two, it shows I have a sense of humor.  Most of the time, these comments and questions strike me as an opportunity to educate someone about adoption, and that's one of my very favorite things in the whole world, so it's good.  Once in a while, I don't feel like being an adoption encyclopedia, so I just give the shortest and most direct answer possible and try to move on.

I am VERY pleased to say that we haven't had any of this sort of thing among our network of family and good friends.  Just as we weren't sure how the public at large would react to the fact that our son is a different race than we are, we also weren't sure how this would work with our families.  Don't get me wrong, both of us have wonderful, supportive, amazing families and neither of us doubted their ability to accept an adopted child.  But our adoption can affect them, too, and in some families, adopted children are treated differently from biological children.  We both knew that Aidan would be welcomed with open arms, and he was.  Still, a year later, I am regularly pleasantly surprised by things our family members say or do that reaffirm the belief that Aidan is every bit a member of our family as the biological children are.

Prime example from a couple of weeks ago...

Aidan is my parents' first and only grandbaby.  They are absolutely over the moon in love with him.  This makes my heart so incredibly happy!  Still, let's face it, he doesn't look like them, so I would think it's somewhat obvious he's adopted when he's with them.  One day after I picked Aidan up from daycare, he and I stopped at my dad's work to say hello to him.  As always, my dad lit up like a Christmas tree as soon as he saw Aidan and he immediately reached out to take him from me.

It didn't take five minutes for six or eight female coworkers to circle around and coo over my (ahem) incredibly adorable child.  Ha!  In the midst of that, a lady walked up who hadn't worked there very long.  She'd never seen Aidan before.  Someone made reference to Grandpa holding Aidan.  She looked a little confused.  She turned to my dad and said, "Is he really your grandson?"

My dad, with what was possibly the proudest look I've ever seen on his face, said, "YUP!"

She replied graciously, complimenting Aidan on being cute or whatever, but she still looked confused.  I half expected my dad, or hubby, or one of the other onlookers to add, "he's adopted."

No one did.


He's not my dad's "adopted" grandson.  He's my dad's grandson.  Period.  It doesn't matter what color he is, who he does or doesn't look like, he's a bona fide member of our family and no one questions that.  That's how our whole family feels and that makes my Mama heart (as my friend Chelsey would say) so incredibly happy.  I think sometimes our families are a little offended that I seem so surprised when things like this happen.  It's not that I doubted them - not at all - it's that we've heard some horror stories of families who do not treat adopted children this way.  They either distance themselves, or say things to (or in front of) the child that can be really hurtful to an adoptee.

Maybe they know I would kill them with my bare hands if I ever heard such a comment.

Or maybe they're just amazing people and we are just so very fortunate to have them.

Yup, I think it's that second one.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

It's Almost Midnight. I'm a Mess.

I just really can't believe that Aidan will be a year old tomorrow.  I know it's not supposed to be any sort of earth-shattering thing, but for me it is.  It really, really is.  I spent sooooooooooo long fearing (sometimes actually believing) that I would never plan a birthday party for a child.  That I would never get to sit in my living room with a kid on my lap and help him open presents while all our friends and family look on and took pictures.

That's always been someone else's role.  Someone else's privilege.  And now it's mine, and I want to savor every last second of it.  After Aidan went to bed tonight, I started decorating for his party tomorrow.  Mickey tablecloth, Mickey confetti, Mickey centerpiece, Mickey plates and napkins.  His two gifts from us and one gift from a friend who won't be at the party.  All adorably matching (or perhaps nauseatingly matching on some level).  Then, I felt the need to take pictures.  I now have a dozen pictures of a dining room table partway-decorated for a birthday party.  For my kid's birthday party.  Seriously?!

I've been thinking about Aidan's birthmom a lot today.  During a visit when he was three or four months old, I remember her laughing and saying she had to stop and think about which date he was born, and how strange that was.  Will she be thinking of him tomorrow?  Will she be missing him?  Will she - like me - be replaying the events of that day in her mind over and over?  Will she hug her kids a little tighter and wish he was there to hug, too?  I have such a strong hope that she is okay and that the day isn't painful for her.

Actually, knowing her, she'll be rejoicing for us.  That's the kind of person she is.  She's been like that from the start.  Happy for us.  Excited for us.  Thinking of us.  Selfless for Aidan and for us.  This is one of those times that I wish she lived closer so that I could take her some flowers and give her a big hug... and have Aidan give her one, too.

Tonight I had to run to the store for a few last-minute things for the party tomorrow.  My favorite radio station (it's country, no hatin'...) had already begun the 9/11 reminiscing and playing appropriate music.  Alan Jackson's Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning came on.  I turned the radio way up and sang along.  Tears came to my eyes.  I remember that day like it was yesterday.  I bet I always will.  I'm not going to rehash it here, because I don't think it's useful for me to do so.  (Nothing at all against those who do feel the need to do so!)  But, I remember.

For the first time, I had to fight feeling guilty for being so excited about tomorrow.  Yes, it's a happy day and most certainly a reason to celebrate and to party like it's 1999.  (What?)  But it's also a somber day.  Suddenly my feelings were mixed.  I processed all of this on the five-minute drive home.  It was chilly and raining.  It was just past dusk.  Headlights of oncoming cars shone bright on my tired eyes, magnified by the raindrops on my windshield.

Then it hit me.  No, not one of the oncoming cars.  Aidan is our little light in the darkness of the memory of that day.  It was dark and rainy in the world that day, and exactly nine years after it happened, a series of miracles took place to change my feeling about 9/11 forever.  A single spark created a light that now shines over my entire life.

A woman labored tirelessly to bring a baby into the world that she knew she wouldn't be keeping.  The delivery went beautifully and the baby was healthy.  The mother selflessly and deliberately chose to continue with her plan to place him with us - her family of choice.  And at last, after so many years of being so afraid I'd never claim the title... 

I became a mother on 9/11.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Things I Learned From Our Move

(Courtesy Google Images)

I can finally say the move is complete!  And by that, I mean, we are physically living in the new house and we legally own it and we're making payments... however, it still looks like we only started moving in yesterday.  I'll be honest, it's driving me insane.  I need several days all to myself (with several young strapping men) to get everything where it belongs and feel like I have a home.  Because as it is now, I feel like I'm living in a very expensive refugee camp.  At least it's a very nice refugee camp!

So, on to things I learned from selling one house and buying another at the same time.

  • I learned that I will never, EVER do this again.  I will either sell the existing house and get a rental before looking for the new house, or I will buy the new house first and keep the old house as a rental.  This has been h-e-double-hockey-sticks.
  • Selling a house, even if you're getting $30k in equity back, is expensive, and you'll walk away with no more than a third of that after everything's paid for.
  • Buying a house, even if you have a nice down payment and the monthly payments are lower than your old place, is also expensive.  Sure, you think it's in move-in condition, until you move in, then you realize you really cannot deal with the hideous dining room light fixture or the bath decor for one more minute.
  • No matter how perfect you think your house is, the inspector WILL find something catastrophically expensive wrong with it and require you to fix it regardless of if you have the money.  Something you never knew was wrong because everything always worked perfectly.  Good times.
  • Regardless of how many times you vowed to paint your next place before you unpack in it, you won't, because there's no time and no money.  You won't paint it later, either, because that would involve moving everything, and by this time you're so sick to death of moving things, you just can't bring yourself to do it.
  • These factors do not make you detest the bizarre supposed-to-be-off-white-but-is-more-like-light-yellow paint that covers every single wall in your new house any less.
  • Everyone who tells you that when the baby crawls, you're screwed... they're right.  Moving with a turbo-crawler is just flat brutal.
  • Even though you work hard to set the baby's room up first, and even try to get the layout similar to the old bedroom for continuity's sake, the baby will be thrown way off by the move itself and all the chaos and changes.  Therefore, he will not sleep.  For weeks.  If you wish to have additional children, you may as well go ahead and have/adopt a newborn during this period since you're up 8-10 times a night anyway.  Two birds, one stone.
  • The irony of the aforementioned sleep issues is that you will be so utterly exhausted from moving that you'll need sleep more than usual, not less, therefore you'll be a total zombie at work for several weeks (or months).
  • New appliances are awesome, but not until after they are actually installed.  Backorders, delivery issues, installation issues, and fine tuning are not all that much fun.  Having a brand new front-loader washer is fantastic, but not having a dryer for three weeks pretty much stinks!
  • It takes a LOOONNNNGGGGGG time to unpack when you only have an hour a day to do it.  Almost three weeks in the new house and I still have food I haven't unpacked.
  • When you pay all your bills via Quicken, which is loaded on your computer, and that computer is in storage for 2-3 months, you WILL miss a bill or two.  Regardless of what sort of system you've devised to stay on top of it.  With everything else going on, it just doesn't work.
  • Even though selling one place while buying another is a process that is riddled with stress, headaches, and endless questions and complications, it's also totally worth it once it's over.
  • A seven-minute commute (and that's if all the lights are red), versus the old 25-minute one, means having to gas up the truck every other week instead of every four days.  The jury's still out on what this equates to in terms of dollars saved, but it'll be significant!
  • A seven-minute commute also means not feeling like nodding off halfway through after a very difficult night of little sleep.  Bonus!
  • The ability to plop the baby in the stroller and walk for five minutes to arrive at a full size playground is awesome, especially when the baby shrieks and squeals every time the swing goes back or forth.
How's that for some hard lessons?!

Did I mention I'm never doing this again?

The good news is that I lost 20 pounds in three weeks thanks to the move in combination with an ill-timed bout of pancreatitis.  Gotta love that!

I haven't read many blogs since about April, when my computer went into storage.  What have I missed??

Friday, July 8, 2011

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

This Song Still Gets Me Every Time!

If you're a country fan, then you've heard this song.  If you aren't, then please just humor me for a minute.  If you've battled infertility or are currently doing so, you really need to listen to this song.  If you can't bring yourself to listen to it, then at least read the lyrics below.  Especially the last verse.  It gives me chills (and sometimes tears!) EVERY time I hear it, even years after its release. 

We Laughed Until We Cried
by Jason Aldean

Going through my closet the other day
Found an old yearbook, flipped right to the page
Of that senior trip down there on that Panama strip
We all started yelling when we smelled the beach
Just couldn't wait to try our fake IDs
We only had a few days, and a whole lot of memories to make
Oh man we were living, didn't waste one minute
We talked and drank and danced and said goodbye
We laughed until we cried

This past year my family
Was sitting cross-legged 'round the Christmas tree
Listening to granddad, we all knew it would probably be his last
He was cracking jokes and we were taking turns
Telling stories bout fishing or lessons learned
Out on the porch with him we all felt like kids again

Oh man we were living, sitting there reminiscing,
Yeah, we sang and talked and traveled back in time
We laughed until we cried

It's like the best days under the sun
Every emotion rolled into one
A little of this, A little of that
Kinda happy, Kinda sad

Just the other night the baby was cryin
So I got out of bed rocked her awhile and I held her tight
And I told her it would be all right
My mind went back to a few years ago
We tried so long, we almost gave up hope
And I remember you comin' in and tellin me the news
Oh man we were livin, goin crazy in the kitchen
We danced and screamed and held each other tight
We laughed until we cried

Monday, May 16, 2011

Protecting Feelings

There's something I want to blog about. SO BAD. It is potentially really exciting for someone I love and I want to share it. And record the events and accompanying thoughts and feelings. And squeal in delight. Publicly.

But I can't.

Unfortunately, there's someone who may be reading this blog who would be embarrassed at best and devastatingly hurt and angry at worst.

So now, here I am. Left with a decision. I don't enjoy hurting people, especially those I love. So I'll keep it to myself and try not to explode.

Cause, know, that'd be pretty messy. I'm not a skinny girl!

Why can't I just be a jerk and say what I think, regardless of potential repercussions, like so many other people in this world?! Why do I choose not to call 'em as I see 'em when doing so would surely be so liberating?!


Sunday, April 24, 2011

An Important Message

Yup, I think that pretty much says it!

This was hanging on Aidan's cubby at daycare when I went to pick him up on Thursday afternoon.  I am so grateful to have such a wonderful place for him to be while I'm slaving away!

Happy Easter to you and yours!
I hope the bunny brought you something delightful.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Well, We Survived.

Yesterday was a day I had been dreading for a LONG time.

It was Allie's first birthday.

It was exactly a year after we got two big phone calls from the counselor 350 miles away.  One was, "she's in labor!" and just a couple hours later, "we have a healthy baby girl!"  I screamed.  I cried.  I shook.  I ran around the house like a crazy person.  My baby girl had finally come into the world.  We had already been through one disrupted adoption, so we were really happy that this one would have a happy ending.

Umm, yeah, not so much.  Sixteen days later we ended up having to give her back.  But you already know that story, as well as the one about getting her again 4 months later and giving her back yet again.  So I won't bore you with that here.

The point is, I was really dreading yesterday.  I knew I'd be a little emotional.  But I wasn't prepared to spend half the day being a basketcase.  I worked from home, but still sent Aidan to daycare.  That was a hard decision, because I just wanted to cuddle him all day.  But I knew it would be best for me to have some alone time, not only so I could work, but also so I could get the emotion out and wallow in my sadness a little bit so I could then move past it.

Every time I walked past his room, I fought tears.  Sometimes I won that fight and sometimes I lost.  (His room is still pink from Allie; we've been waiting til spring so that we can open windows when we re-paint.)  I flipped through the scrapbook I made of our time with Allie.

I remembered how tiny she was, how she felt in my arms the first time I held her, how she rarely cried.  I even fondly remembered how she spit up constantly.  I remember those first sleepless nights, first staying with my aunt and uncle in the city where she was born, then making the trek home and spending time with her there.  I remembered the little grocery store where we stopped on the trip and I did my first in-public diaper change.  I remembered her smell.  I remembered her smile.

And I cried.  And I smiled.  And I cried again.

And then I felt guilty.  I felt like I should be more "over this" a year later.  I should be able to let her go, but part of me never will.  She was truly my first baby.  Even if I only got two precious weeks with her.  I also have guilt about thinking of Allie so much when I have Aidan now.  I feel like wishing she was still around is something of an insult to him, or that I can't love him as much when I still love her.

Then, something great happened.  One of my favorite people in the whole world had mailed us a package a few days earlier and it arrived yesterday.  In the box was a pair of swim trunks for Aidan, blue with sharks on them!  She sent us these after a conversation during which I mentioned that no stores up here are selling swimwear for babies and that I REALLY want to get Aidan in a swimming pool sooner than later.  She got the exact ones I said I liked!  Even better, she included a beautiful handmade card that said something like (I wish I'd brought it so I could quote it): "You don't choose your family. They are a gift to you, as you are to them."

And I sat in my truck in the post office parking lot and cried some more.  (The employees there must have thought I was crazy.)  She's right.  We don't choose our family.  Allie found her way into our hearts for a reason.  Whether she just needed someone to love her like crazy for two weeks while her mother made up her mind about what to do, or whether she came to us to teach us something, the point is she was there, we loved her, we still love her, we'll always love her, and there's nothing wrong with that.

My friend also told me in no uncertain terms that loving Allie doesn't take anything away from my love for Aidan.  She - brilliantly! - pointed out that my loving Aidan certainly doesn't mean that I love hubby any less, so why would loving Allie take away from Aidan?  Certainly I have enough love in my heart for both of them and many more.

I felt so much better after talking to my friend.  The guilt started to subside a little.  I think it's going to be a process, but at least I'm headed the right direction.  We're debating colors to paint Aidan's room since spring is finally upon us, so I think that'll help things too.  It'll finally feel like HIS room, not her room that he's staying in.

And, I did email back and forth with Allie's mom yesterday.  It sounds like she had a great birthday with lots of family around, so that makes me really happy.  She said she'd send some pictures.  It's really nice of her to do that.  She could have dropped all contact after she changed her mind, but she's chosen instead to keep in touch and let us know how Allie's doing.  That means a lot to me.  I just like knowing she's okay.

So even though there were some tears, I did survive yesterday thankfully.  And when Aidan came home in the evening, I collected a million snuggles from him as usual, and then an extra million just because it was a hard day.  I'm so grateful for him.  He is my little angel and he makes all of the heartache we went through totally worth it.

Take care, little Allie.  We love you always.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Unexplained Guilt... Explained!

When you're going through infertility and/or wading (and waiting!) through the adoption process, you think you know how you will feel about most things once you finally reach your goal.  And a lot of the time, you're right.  But sometimes, you find out that you couldn't have been more wrong.

For example...

I always heard about how new moms - well, maybe moms in general - have such a hard time giving away or putting away baby's too-small clothes in order to make room for new ones that fit.  I heard stories of these strong women who turned into bumbling idiots at the thought of storing away that favorite onesie.  It seemed really strange to me.  Who would get attached to a piece of clothing like that?

...Until I had to do it myself.  Yup.  It stinks.  It's not about the piece of clothing, it's about the memory of your baby wearing it.  There's just something so final-feeling about knowing that your baby will never wear that item again.  The snapshot in your mind is all you have left.  So I guess they were right on that one.

On the other hand, but also sort of related, is the whole concept that it's sort of sad to see your child growing up, getting older, learning, developing, etc.  A constant reminder that your baby isn't your baby anymore.  And that next week he'll be asking for the car keys.  He doesn't need you the same way anymore.  All of those things.

This part of my brain seems to be missing.  Or so I thought.

I am so excited to see Aidan getting bigger, developing from a ball of baby into a mobile, interactive creature who can think for himself.  I absolutely love every minute of it.  I haven't really admitted that very openly before, because it makes me feel guilty.

Aren't I supposed to be weepy about him moving to solid foods this month?  Shouldn't the purchase of a new car seat (and the impending retirement of his infant one) make me a basketcase?  He doesn't need us to put him to sleep before he goes in his crib anymore, he can do that himself.  He's sitting up, albeit clumsily.  Shouldn't this make me sad in a way? 

Thing is, none of those things make me the least bit sad.  And for six months now I've been feeling so guilty.  Surely I must not love him enough, if I'm not sad.  Right?

Then today, upon receiving a text from the girl formerly known as Waiting Lisa, it hit me.  Now I know why I don't get sad!  Before I get into that, though, let me give some back story.  I "met" Lisa here in the blogosphere, I believe it was last summer.  We had so much in common.  We both had been waiting for what seemed like forever for our adoptions to come through.  We'd had three disrupted ones in the meantime, she hadn't had any.  I envied her for that.  (Of course I know she didn't have it any 'easier' than we did, but the grass is always greener, no?)

I found Lisa to be a delightful lady and I always enjoy running across people with whom I have a lot in common.  Infertility, as we all know, is the epitome of feeling alone in a crowded room, and that feeling - for me anyway - still hangs on a lot of the time.  Connections and friendships with people like me are so valuable to me.

Imagine my shock, then, when I found the time in the hospital (after Aidan's birth) to peek in on Twitter.  I don't remember what she had said, but I was absolutely stunned.  And speechless.  And if you know me at all, you know that speechless is not a word that describes me very often.  To make a very long story short, something very odd had happened.

She had received THE CALL while we were at the hospital.  The call every adoptive-Mommy-to-be waits on pins and needles for.  She'd been notified that a baby boy had just been born... and that she was to be his Mommy.  HER SON was born!  How exciting! 

Oh, but it gets better.  The more tweets I read, the more speechless I was.  As it turns out, her son and our son were born the very same day.  We later did the math and compensated for time zones... if I remember right, they were born roughly two hours apart.  Two hours!  Two adoptive Mommies, with blogs, waiting a number of years for their little miracles just happen to cross paths and then their babies, both boys, are born the SAME DAY?!  So strange.  And awesome!  Furthermore, while we named ours Aidan, they had chosen to name theirs Jayden.  Wow!

So, in Lisa, I have found a baby-buddy.  I know I can always ask her what little Jayden (who, by the way, is just painfully CUTE) is up to, what he is and isn't doing, and if she's seen him do whatever odd thing Aidan may be doing.  And she does the same with me.  When one of us has our well-baby check before the other, we always get details from the other one so that we know what to expect!

It was during that conversation via text message this morning that it all hit me.  Since we had Aidan's six-month checkup yesterday, and Jayden's isn't for another couple of days, she was asking what we had learned at that appointment and how the shots went.  After we talked about the babies getting to eat real food, she said something about how they are growing up too fast, and at the end was a little frown.  I felt so bad.  Why don't I feel that way?  My mind wandered.

Somewhere in that string of thoughts, I remember thinking, "I'm just not sad that Aidan's getting older.  I can't wait until we can start doing things with him."

BAM!  Like a ton of bricks!

When you live in Alaska (or, I assume, other cold places), and you have a fall baby, which Aidan is, you are sort of STUCK.  Doing anything in the way of outdoor activities is just tough with a tiny baby.  About the most exciting thing we've been able to do with him is grocery shopping.  It's too cold out, even with a hat and gloves and snowsuit, to really get out and do anything fun outside.  They don't enjoy it anyway, and then you're buying new outerwear every month because they're growing so fast.

The reason I can't wait for Aidan to grow some more and be more mobile is because then we can do things!  We can go for walks without wrapping his entire body in a snowsuit and several blankets, and without having to push his stroller over nasty ice and snow berms.  We can go see animals at the university (which is about the closest thing we have to a zoo here).  We can take some short road trips to nearby scenic areas and take great pictures.  But all of these things require warmer weather than we've had since Aidan has been alive.

Plus, let's face it, Aidan was born a big boy and is still a big boy.  Lugging him around in his newborn car seat/carrier is just not a whole lot of fun, especially when it's cold.  Getting winded when it's -30 means your lungs start to freeze from the inside out before you ever get into the store or whatever.  Who wants to do that?!  Now that he's starting to sit up and can look around and actually enjoy what he sees, then it's going to be worthwhile to get out and do fun family things.

So maybe I haven't been wishing for him to grow up.  Maybe I haven't been rushing his progress, instead of enjoying every minute of it.  Maybe I've just been itching for spring so that there's actually something to enjoy?!  Yeah, I think that's it!  I feel much better.  And I'm grateful for Lisa yet again.

It's going to be 30 degrees this weekend and we are hoping to take Aidan to the ice park for the first time.  He'll love it!

So take a hike, guilt!  There's no room for you here!  I'm far too busy planning fun things to do with my BIG boy this summer!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Birth Mothers

I'll be honest, when I first became acquainted with Twitter, I didn't get the point.  At all.  Why on earth would I care what a bunch of strangers (or even a bunch of friends) have to say in 140 characters or less?  I don't care if people are in the bathroom, or on the bus, or sitting in the doctor's office.  I certainly have better things to do than to keep up with the mindless updates from people as they go about their day to day business... right?

Well, apparently not.  It happened. 

I got hooked.

This has been some time ago, now.  I started with an account that was designed to help me communicate with other Alaskans.  My user name there leaves me pretty anonymous.  Creating that account has led to the formation of friendships with locals that I never would have crossed paths with, if not for Twitter.  And for the most part, I believe that one's life is generally enriched by interacting with people outside one's own circles.  I've developed a genuine interest in how people are doing.  When they don't "tweet" (aka post to Twitter) for a few days, I begin to wonder if all is well in their world.  I was once invited to meet a group of them at a party being held at one of their homes.  (However, it was right after Aidan was born; suffice it to say I had other priorities.) 

Then, I started this blog.  I didn't necessarily want ALL the friends I'd made, who were local folks and could probably figure out my identity fairly easily if they put a little work into it, knowing about my infertility and all the other things I post about here.  So, I created a second Twitter account specifically to be used with my blog and my friends here.  For some reason, I was a little surprised to find that I formed similar friendships - closer friendships - with my blog friends.  Some of us don't post to our blogs as much as we'd like to for time reasons, but it's easy to tap out a 140-character "hello" now and then.  And voila, my life was enriched even further.

I think one of the most surprising outcomes of my Twitter experience, with my blog account at least, is having 'met' several birth mothers along the way.  I can think of at least three right off the top of my head who are regular posters and whose tweets I have come to appreciate immensely.  As an adoptive mother, I place a high value on the perspective of a birth mother, especially on things adoption-related.  It's interesting to read these lovely ladies' tweets and get a feel for what they've been through, and continue to go through, as a result of their decision to place their beloved babies for adoption.

I have an image of myself as being - perhaps - more sensitive to birth mothers and their feelings than many other adoptive parents are.  I'm not sure if it's because I'm just generally a very empathetic person, or because we've come to know THREE birth mothers through our adoption journey and I've felt an inexplicable connection to each one.  I'm not sure.  At any rate, I'm quite in awe of women who are able to make (and stick to) the decision to place a child for adoption.  In my mind, they are selfless, courageous, strong, noble, incredible human beings.  Regardless of the reasons for the decision, it's the hardest one they'll ever make, and I believe they deserve immense amounts of credit for doing it.

In light of that, imagine my dismay when I saw a tweet today from one of my favorite birth mothers about how some adoptive families are insensitive to the grief a birth mother goes through.  One of the replies to that tweet was something to the effect of, "they figure we made the decision, what is there to grieve about?"  True, it is a birth mother's decision to place her child for adoption.  But since when did making a difficult decision negate one's entitlement to hate that it had to be made?!

This not only makes me incredibly sad, it also makes me angry.  How dare these adoptive families be so insensitive.  Anyone who can't - to some small extent, at least - place themselves in a birth mother's shoes long enough to see that she experiences a tremendous loss... well, they just have no business adopting in the first place.  That is no way to treat another human being, let alone someone who is entrusting you with the life of their child

Though no less wrong, I could almost make sense of it if comments or mindsets like this were coming from people in the periphery of the adoption scenario.  There were well-meaning people in our lives, people who love us very much and who now love Aidan more than the world, who said things to us that made no sense to us.  Things that made us want to shake them, and scream, "Are you kidding?!  Listen to yourself!  This woman is not a robot, she's a human being, with all the same thoughts and feelings and emotions, not to mention hormones, that you had when you were pregnant!"  One person in particular, when we told them about the difficult living situation that Aidan's birth mother was in (prior to his birth) said, "Well, she'd be foolish not to put him up for adoption. Why would you raise a child in that kind of environment?"


Why are some people so quick to assume that unfortunate circumstances overrule thoughts, feelings, and instincts when it comes to a mother who wants nothing more than to parent her child?!  Guess what, folks?  The vast majority of birth mothers face utter devastation when they realize that they can't give their child the life that he or she deserves.  A birth mother may understand that adoption is best for her child, but this realization has absolutely no impact on the fact that the child is still growing in her womb; that she will still give birth to that child; and that she will love him just as much as she would love him if he were going home from the hospital with her.

I would think that infertile women - who I assume represent a sizeable portion of adoptive mothers - would understand this better than anyone.  When you want nothing more than to be a mother, when you feel like you were born to be a mother, and yet circumstances prevent you from doing so, does that diminish your wish for it to happen?!  No way.  In fact, I would say that the urge intensifies in the face of the terrible odds.  Why would a birth parent be any different?  No mother wants to admit she's not able to care for a child the way she feels she should be able to.  So why on earth would there not be an incredible grieving process when she chooses to overrule those instincts and feelings in order to do the best thing for her child?

But birth mothers do that.  They do the best they possibly can.  They make the conscious decision to put themselves through the emotional ringer in order to give their babies the best life possible.  They take on what is, for some, a lifetime of mourning, perhaps regret, and intense pain, all for their babies.  And do you know why?  Because at the end of the day, they are mothers first.  They look beyond themselves and they put the welfare of their babies ahead of their own feelings and wishes. 

Because that's what great mothers do.