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.

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.