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!