Thursday, October 28, 2010

Happiness is...

Happiness is...

Wearing your baby on your back, feeling him wriggle and twist to view the world around him, while you walk beside your almost-5-year-old big boy as he proudly rides his new bike around the block.

Happiness is...

Following your fast crawler around a dentists office while listening to your big boy behave well for the nurse, only to have them both run out to find you with radiant smiles just to announce that the big boy has his first loose tooth.

Happiness is....

A child picking out the Iron Man costume only because it lights up and looks cool and, upon being told that Iron Man is a nice guy, listening to him list of the things good people do, including helping you clean your room.

Happiness is...

Blissful silence as your husband, home from his busy day, takes both kids out for a walk while you cook dinner, a dinner that's soon enjoyed by the whole family with no leftovers remaining.

Happiness is...

Rocking your baby to sleep, his face placid and calm, his head resting against your shoulder facing upward, as you listen to the soft murmur of your wonderful husband reading your older son his bedtime story in the other room.

Happiness is...

Waking up every morning to find breakfast and coffee already waiting for you and everyone in the home well rested and happy.

Happiness is...

Updating your blog in the middle of the day while both boys are fast asleep at the same time, one curled up in his bed and the other in your lap, just like his older brother used to take his naps.

I think I can safely say that I'm feeling the happiness today.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Painless Grief

A commenter mentioned something that struck a chord with me. Something in response to me writing about how that want for a biological child still lingers. She mentioned the pain and how it hasn't gone away.

And yet... I had to think about this a bit to be sure, but, I really think the pain HAS gone away.

There's grief, yes, certainly there's grief. But it doesn't hurt anymore, doesn't sting.

Sometimes there's a dull throb in my heart, sometimes there's the feeling of immense emptiness in my womb, and for a second there I wish... I wish things were a little bit different.

Oh, don't get me wrong. When I say I love my kids I mean I LOOOOOVE my kids, I love my family, I may not always love the path that got us here but I certainly love the end result.

I think the thing is that when you plan to have a biological child you aren't just planning for that particular child, you're planning a whole WORLD.

You plan how your family looks, you plan how you're treated on the playground, you plan how you do or don't blend into a crowd, you plan for physical changes and dietary restrictions, you plan for events that can only be attended and enjoyed by those experiencing that form of life (prenatal yoga anyone?).

With the loss of the ability to produce a biological child we have given up a lot:
A child continuing our bloodline and the bloodline of our parents, grandparents, and so on.
The ability to see our own and each other's physical attributes within our child.
The ability to blend in on a playground, being just another mom or dad.
We lost all of pregnancy, the feeling of a child within, the birthing classes, the birth plan, the maternity clothes, the nine months of near certainty.
We lost labor and delivery and with it all the possible scenarios we could have experienced.
We lost the ability to control the pregnancy, prepare the womb, nourish our children through my own eating habits and know their history from conception on.
We lost the ability to fill out half of the forms at the doctor's office. We have to write big "?"s all over the place when it comes to genetic history for one and genetic and infancy history for the other.
We lost cord blood donation, even likelihood of genders, nursing from birth, home birth, water birth, hypno birth, cloth diapers from the get go, preggie pops, belly bands, prenatal yoga, water intake, glucose tests, ultrasounds, etc.
We lost a vision of our family and how it would form.
We lost control and autonomy over our own family building plans, having to go through social workers and governments.
We lost who we though we would become, who we were trying to become, the family we were trying to make.

And yeah, there's grief there.

And there's grief from our children, who experienced an even greater loss. We lost a vision, a possibility. They lost real, living people who loved them and cultures that accepted them. Some days this can be a hard pill to swallow.

Yet, while I find grief in this, I don't find pain.

My children help with that.

You see, I know consciously that had we been able to conceive and carry a child to term when we wanted to there is likely no way on Earth we would have even known of P or A's existence. I wouldn't have this incredible bond with both my kids, I wouldn't be tied forever to Ethiopia or African American culture, I wouldn't be as bothered with racism and poverty and the AIDS epidemic, I wouldn't have worked my butt off to induce lactation and I very well might have given up if/when mastitis hit, and I wouldn't have been able to give advice to others on subjects such as adoptive breast feeding, international/domestic adoption, local agencies, post adoption depression, entitlement issues, etc.

I suppose my biggest problem when it comes to the realm of fertility is this: I haven't yet stopped hoping that it will happen.

If it doesn't happen ever, and there's a high likelihood that this will be the case, then I can be at peace with that.

But see... I'm 28, he's 26. He's on testosterone therapy and hasn't had a semenalysis since he started that, and this could very well have caused his problems. We have a good 7+ years of potential normal fertility for me. We want a large family. We aren't against biological children at all. We aren't preventing as I'm nursing and, well, if it happened we'd be fine with it.

And we never tried fertility treatments.

We aren't the couple that tried to conceive and exhausted their options for several years before coming to terms with infertility and adopting.

We're the couple who always wanted both and opted to adopt as soon as we found we had fertility problems, on the belief that we'd "adopt our two or three we always wanted to adopt then revisit the conception issue."

It's never been resolved, it's still on the table, and...


And it's just hard to stop thinking about it once you realize that it's a possibility, and not an unwanted one.

The biggest issue we face, though, is guilt. Guilt toward the two incredible children we've adopted and the children we feel we are likely to adopt in our future. Guilt that they'll feel inadequate should we have biological children who look like us. Guilt that we still want both when really they are so, so incredible and we couldn't ask for more perfect children. And worry that they'll think we love them less, that family would love them less, that society would love them less. I believe this is where my husband is as he recently said he doesn't want to parent any Caucasian children because he's worried it wouldn't be fair to our African American children, that people would treat the CC kids differently and likely better. I don't know, I personally would love a rainbow family though I'd like there to be two of each race represented in our immediate family (ie, two AA, two Hisp, one CC would be fine).

Okay, so I'm getting side tracked. Tends to happen with me as I'm a stream of consciousness writer who rarely edits, even spelling :-P

Let me just leave it at this:
I do not regret the path we ended up taking. Our children are fabulous and so, so worth all the pain we once felt. I still feel grief over the loss of how we thought we'd be, just as my older son expresses that he feels grief over not being with his first mother still. And he also far more frequently expresses joy that I'm his mom and that he's here with me, just as I feel immense joy in the fact that we have been blessed with these incredible sons. There was pain for awhile there, pain while TTC, pain while waiting to adopt, but now my heart is so full, my arms so full, it's hard to feel any pain. Grief... yes, that will creep in. But it's painless, and in many ways simply cathartic.

And the grief is in no way anywhere close to as big as the joy :-) *

*Most days. Some days the boys drive me nuts and the joy-quotient goes down a bit, but only temporarily!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Oh, joy.

So reading over the other posts for ICLW has got me all nostalgic for the days of TTC and no-BCP and hoping it happened and stuff. I guess that's one of the weird things about having always, always, wanting to both adopt and give birth: You never totally make peace with not experiencing the other side. I think I wrote on this before, about how it's like always wanting both a boy child and a girl child. You are happy and blessed, of course, with a home full of one gender but you always kinda, sorta wish that you could experience raising the other gender as well because, really, you did always want both.

So anyway, all these thoughts of course came at the same time as "bizarre" cramps and twinges, meaning that I ended up back in the "well, Nik IS on testosterone meds and has been so for a year now, and though his recent tests show he's not even up to the minimal number of normal range he's no longer in the 'can barely find any testosterone' category and who knows what that means for his swimmers.... and I'm not on BCPs.... and I haven't had my period since I started lactating but I could technically become fertile again at any time and there is the possibility of ovulation and if... if if if...." Yeah, those thoughts.

Those thoughts that I kind of wish would just go away permanently, but on the other hand since these same thoughts aren't about an absolute impossibility it is best, for health reasons, that I keep them in mind you know? It's not likely to happen, not by a long shot, but it is within the realm of possibilities.

I woke up this morning to the baby crying but got to go back to sleep once he was fed and my husband was up. I fell asleep wondering, just sort of pondering, the what ifs....

When I woke and went to the bathroom, though, I got my answer.


It's back.

I counted and it's been 20 wonderful, glorious months since I've had to worry about cramps and blood and timing but I guess night weaning signaled to her that she should return. At least it's so far been a very peaceful return, only spotting really.

And honestly? I felt a bit of relief. I had an answer! I didn't have to spend the whole week pondering whether or not I should by a HPT "just to be sure," knowing full well that it would be negative and knowing right along with that that the negative would be a kick in the gut all the same.

So I guess now I mark my return into fertile land. Go me!

So, uh, what do I have to do to get her to go away again?

Friday, October 22, 2010


So yesterday I got an email from a young woman who I don't know... I think. It's a big internet and I'm on a million sites that include my email so I could have honestly spoken with her before.

She asked if we were still interested in adopting a baby girl and informed me that she was expecting in a few months and thinking about making an adoption plan for her unborn child.

Initially, I wrote this off as a total scam. A Google Search of her name and email, though, brought me a tooooon of information/background/pictures, etc all leading to the conclusion that this is in fact a real person in a real crisis situation.

So I emailed back, advising she speak with an adoption counselor pronto.

And I still haven't heard back and am 50% certain (or more?) that we likely won't hear back. But I'd still like to, if only to be able to speak with her and offer advice myself.

Cuz see... we aren't desperate for a baby. Oh, yes, we would loooove another baby and I do have to admit that there's a part of me that hopes this is real and that it works out. But we aren't in the "OMG baaabyyyy!" stage. We have two children, we have the assurance that the adoption process does indeed work and you do end up with the children meant for your family. I don't need to go crazy about this and think only about us, about what we can gain. I can actually sit back and think about everything logically, carefully.

And I can realize that no matter what happens in the future that there is a real woman out there in a real, honest to God crisis situation who is reaching out for help. I guess I feel that the least I could do is email back...

My husband thinks I'm nuts, of course. Why risk scam or not go through lawyers or even speak with someone not working with an agency (and thus speaking through a reputable, respectable agency)?

So I ask you, oh ICLWers who might actually be reading this: Would you have emailed back? If so, what would you have said?

Thursday, October 21, 2010


So today starts the Oct '10 edition of IComLeavWe, and my first attempt at it. Let's see if I can remember to comment daily, given that I'm such a slacker and all :)

I've already left a few comments and it looks like a lot of people are posting "intro" posts to their blogs. So here is mine:

-I'm Megan, 28 year old homemaker with an unused English degree from UNC Chapel Hill. I've been married to Nik, a 26 year old software engineer, for 5 years (we've known each other almost 9 years now...).
-We always wanted to adopt and had decided to do so in our thirties, after giving birth to a child or two. Then 6 months into our marriage (and 6 months TTC) my husband took a semenalysis, almost on a whim. The results were horrid. And after 3 more tests they were still the best results we've ever had.
-Our oldest son, Paxton, turns 5 next month. We adopted him from Ethiopia and he came home on his second birthday. I'm still trying to wrap my brain around the fact that he's starting school next year.
-Our "baby," Ambrose, just turned 1 this month. We adopted him domestically/locally and he was placed with us at 9 days old. I'm nursing him which is a journey in itself. He's just starting to walk and talk.
-We're dragging our feet a bit but still beginning the process for #3. Ideally he/she would come home with Ambrose is in the 18-24 month range, but you never know!
-No clue if we ever will attempt those fertility treatments we've discussed, or embryo adoption. The wish to experience pregnancy is still there but it's faded a lot.

So that's me :)

Well, curses

So I was just writing up a post and guess-who decided to crawl on over and turn off my computer while I was engrossed in word choice to convey feelings and stuff.


Proto-Toddler is certainly a handful!

The subject of the erased post was knitting. As in, I'm starting to try that. Just following some of the basics right now, making rows, trying to use up a skein on a scarf/rag/kitchen towel.

My goals? Learn the cast on/rows/bind off pretty well, make it relatively mechanical while finding out my proper needle size. Then? Purling. Then using the wire-and-needles thingie that makes socks and hats. Then perhaps crochet. I would love to perfect this as a skill. Cuz why not? It is, objectively, perfect for me as a hobby. Something I can get down and potentially do without thinking too much about it, something that actually creates something we can use or wear or give as a gift, something I can do in a group or by myself. Perfect. So currently putting aside any negative feelings I had floating around and I'm going to focus my learning/studying/concentrating energy on this.

Not much time to blog this morning, not about this or anything else. Need to hurry if I'd like a shower at all (life with small kids, it's been like 2-3 days and I just couldn't find a convenient time to shower, luckily it's cold so no sweating). So within the next hour I have: showering (likely with the proto-toddler underfoot and quite possibly naked), getting dressed (after proto-toddler is diapered of course), convince older child to stop watching Caillou on Netflix (hopefully without threats this morning), make both our lunches, do our stretches together, have him work in either his writing or reading workbooks until he's all giddy and happy about school, then plop them both in the car and get to school on time. Again, I'd like that last part to be without threats today. I'm trying to make a conscious choice to never again say "do you want to stay home and not go to school?" Cuz that? Totally backfired. His answer was yes. Um, not what I was expecting, and totally the wrong thing for me to say anyway.

Oh, and in the realm of "P says unexpected things" we have : *long two sided conversation about something inconsequential like food or cars or something* P: also, I'm not dying! Us: Hwah? P: Because I'm not standing in lava!

Ah, the joy of my boys :)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Quickie: Recent Broser Development

Today he took 2 steps, willingly, to me. He can stand for about 10 seconds by himself but won't do it (usually) if he notices. He's been getting noticeably better recently and seems to be on the precipice of walking.

Words that we THINK he's said:
"elph" when he noticed an elephant figurine
"oof oof" to a dog, woofing at it
"dg, dg!" Dog. Oh, he loves dogs!
"dn" down? We think?
"moo" in response to "what does a duck say?"
"qua" a later response to same question
"munu/mudu" while reaching for a balloon
"da" yes

We THINK we've heard him say brother and Paxton at different points. Trouble is, he babbles like mad and sometimes whispers. So we're often picking words out of a long babble sentence. All words listed above were separate words, not in a phrase or sentence.

So yeah, I guess we're also on the precipice of speaking.

They grow so fast!!!!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Hello, me?

So lately this whole "finding myself" thingie has been on my mind.

No, not in the "leave everything and head overseas" kind of way, nor the "find a Grecian lover" (rawr) sort of way, nor the "write lots of poetry or paint or sculpt" sort of way, just in the... lonely sort of way.

In some ways I want to find "my people," should that make any sense.

And in a way, it really doesn't.

I have friends.

I have family.

I have a wide network through both my church and local mom to mom group.

Just about everywhere I go I find someone to talk to, and oh Lordy do I enjoy talking!

And yet...

I suppose the problem with finding out exactly where I fit in is to find out exactly who I am.

And before I go further with this thought, let me just outright admit that not only did I willingly choose the role of SAHM, I actually really love it. I love being with my boys, I love watching them grow, I love cooking and sometimes I even love cleaning. I perform necessary jobs and often I end up with a lot of bonuses, like spending time talking with other awesome moms and watching my children have a great time, laughing and playing. In many ways, being as stay at home mom is all I've ever wanted and I really think I'm doing a good job at it, even if I do lack a bit in cleaning/de-cluttering skills.

That being said... so 95% of me is happy in my "job," in my daily grind.

But that other 5%....

Sometimes it's happy and satisfied when I read a good book, or play an immersive video game, or even when I write or sew. Sometimes it's happy when I take a long walk or see a good movie.

Sometimes it's happy when I'm just outside my life for a bit.

And I'm thinking... I'm thinking there's something I'm missing.

Sometimes I see a pair of girls in anime shirts with cat ears walking down the street and giggling and, oh, the longing!

When we went to Animazement or stepped in to a Geek forum and I saw all the cosplay and heard the pretentious nerdy speech... the nostalgia!

And when I stare at steampunk inspired jewelry or artwork... aaaah! Mama waaaaants!!!

See, there's a part of me that's been left unsatisfied.

I'm like the sports fan who catches a glimpse of a game on a tv through a store window here and there, and feels that pull to go in, but no, the kids are pulling on my hands and I have to keep going, keep focusing on them and my job and my life.

Nik and I met in an anime club. We went to Animazement together. Watching him play video games has always brought me such great joy.

And.... I am a geek! Total geek!

And I miss my geekiness!

And I really miss fellow geeks, though not the annoying ones, just the cool ones :-P

I miss being part of a group. I miss the old anime club. I miss sitting in a room late at night playing video games, sometimes with several people all invested in the games outcome.

And I suppose in many ways it's not that I miss the geek culture, but that I miss my youth, my freedom, my irresponsibility.

Everything was much simpler then. Have job, get money, buy Chinese food and video games, play till real late, wake up early for job, repeat with lots of coffee thrown in.

And I suppose when it comes right down to it, I miss fitting into a group as well as I used to. No, I never totally "fit in" there, and even when I did it wasn't for very long, but everyone and everything was so less complicated then. We could talk and have a conversation about a favorite anime with several in jokes thrown in and you know? That was it. No innuendo, no jokes about kids, no hidden jealousy, nothing.

Maybe that's just the rose tinted lenses of nostalgia speaking, because there was certainly drama and hostility.

But yet... at this point in groups I don't blend in as much. And often that's because I open my big fat mouth and mention adoption or lactation (I'm kinda used to being asked questions so I like to get these things out of the way).

I am rambling. I should stop.

My point is: There was a very brief time in my life where I felt, if only for a second, that I totally fit in, that I was an indisputable part of a group. At that time our common interest was geekery.

And at this time my common interest with just about everyone I know is motherhood. Motherhood is so broad, though, that we make distinctions amongst ourselves: adoption is the biggest distinction in my life. No matter which group I'm in, there comes a moment here or there where I feel I don't fit in. Sometimes it's when I'm at a nursing group or a baby wearer's meeting and people start discussing birth stories or issues with pregnancy. Sometimes it's in the adoption crowd where people discuss formula or disposable diapers or strollers.

Even recently two of the big forums I frequent, one for more hippie minded parents and one as a gathering place for those affected by infertility, both had vastly differing views on the same subject, for a second time. Reading the comments it was clear that I didn't really fit into A or B, but again in the subset C where I could very well be the only one (though admittedly I lean more toward A).

I guess my sudden realization that I don't 100% feel like I fit into a group, any recent group, concerning motherhood has brought me back to square 1: I want to find a group outside of motherhood that I can belong to.

And yet every time I think I've found "the group," like returning to the anime club or visiting a steampunk ball or going to a convention or star trek club meeting or anything... I get scared.

Motherhood is my forte! I'm not good at non-mommy related stuff!

And thus the frustation.

I WANT to be good at something outside of motherhood.

Not because I'm a feminist or because I want to be "liberated" from my family, but because I do need an environment not completely focused on children. Perhaps one where I don't even mention my kids once in an evening. Could you imagine? That would be so hard....

So I guess that's where I'm at. I want to get back to doing something without children, to meeting friends outside of the realm of motherhood. And yet I'm so stinkin' petrified of it...

Perhaps I'll start with a knitting class.

Knitting is geeky right?

(Goes to see if there's a pattern for a TriForce online...)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A taste of Heaven...

Yesterday I was helping parent in P's class. At "second circle" he got to do show and tell. We walked to his cubby together where he grabbed his balloon that he'd brought from home. Just a simple Red Robin balloon he'd pocketed from Sunday Lunch. It was all stretched and lopsided from being blown up so much, but he was enjoying it immensely. He'd been talking for a couple days about bringing it to class to show them all how he'd blow it up then let it go and watch it fly. As we walked back to his classroom, a limp balloon in one and my hand in the other hand, a huge smile appeared on his face. We walked forward, only a few dozen steps or so, only half a minute. And yet it seemed as if time froze for a bit.

The look on his face... such joy, such anticipation! Everything was right in his world, everything happy and perfect and sunny. His whole being was focused on joy and happiness, and sharing his happiness with others. He was positively radiant.

And all because of a silly balloon.

Fear gripped me and I said a silent prayer that the moment wouldn't be ruined, that the other kids wouldn't tease or dislike his show and tell, that the balloon wouldn't pop as he blew it up. For some reason this moment seemed large. Epic. Memorable. Perhaps this will be one of those random and clear memories that he holds on to for the rest of his life.

Please, please, I prayed, please let this be a happy one. Because he's had too many sad ones already...

And then... it worked.

He blew up his balloon to silence and released it to the sound of the whole class shrieking and giggling with joy. It was such a hit he got to do it again!

Nothing bad happened.

He continued his day with a huge smile on his face, still friends with all his classmates, balloon in tact, pride and happiness filling his being.

To see this, to take it all in and absorb, is to me.... bliss. Paradise. Nirvana. Heaven.

To see him exist without strife, without anxiety, without frustration....

To see him live his life as a happy, care free child without the worries and fears that bogged him down for so long...

My God, I can't even describe the feeling!

Worth it. Worth all the pain and struggle. Worth all the screams and tears and all the hard talks. Worth it all.

This morning we went back to school. On the way there I listened to him and Ambrose blowing Raspberries at each other and cracking up.


This is what life is all about.

Random moments of complete and utter joy.

Existing without fear at the forefront.

The innocence of childhood intact.

A happy family at last.

Oh, I am thankful....

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Boy? Girl? Boy? Girl? Aaaaahhhhh!!!

We contacted another agency, or rather a referral service. They have informed us that they don't typically take gender requests as they rarely request an ultrasound to check gender unless it's entirely necessary.

And I have to admit my first thought wasn't "whew, no worries then!" but rather "wha? So I... can't pick if we go with you?" Contrary to what I'd previously felt, I'm kind of getting used to the idea of choice. I suppose that's one of the "good" things about adoption, you CAN choose. You can choose race, gender, culture, age, level of needs, etc.

But sometimes it's nice not to choose everything. To just leave the doors open and see who comes in.

We have names picked out. "A" for a girl, "C" for a boy. Rare-ish name for the C, nearly unheard of name for the "A". We're pretty set that it'll either be A or C, though if it's A that would certainly confuse things with Ambrose, at least in blog land... but that's our girl name so we'd likely call her "princess" or a nickname or just simply "she."

So now that we have names... we "know" who we'll be welcoming.

We'll either be adopting baby girl A or baby boy C.

Conversely, we either WON'T be adopting baby girl A or baby boy C.

And I think that's where the gender thing comes into play...


When I was a little girl I dreamed of my future family. I was going to be an artist and a scientist. Or a vet. Or an astronaut. Or maybe a Unicorn. And I wasn't so sure about this whole marriage thing because boys were oh so icky! But kids... I knew I wanted kids.

I wanted one son, and one alone. Why? Because I wanted one of my children to host a game show and I'd only ever seen male game show hosts. I would have this one son, and I'd love him enough...

But my daughters....

I would ADORE my daughters.

I would have two little girls, somewhat close in age, or maybe apart by several years with that boy somehow wedged in between. Didn't really matter. I would have my girls. They'd look like me and sound like me and have similar interests and I would totally understand them, and they'd never be awkward like me because I'd guide them through it, and they'd never be lonely like me because they'd have each other. Two little mini-me's taking on the world....

But that dream died as I grew up.

A new dream emerged somewhere in high school, solidified in college. Well, after the "I'll marry Howie D from the Backstreet Boys and have a dozen of his babies" phase.

I would have a daughter, then a son, then several years later we'd adopt a second daughter and perhaps another child or two of indeterminate gender.

I would have an unspeakable bond with my firstborn. She would be my first, my only for awhile. She may be blonde like Nik, which was possible given that I likely have that recessive gene (my mother was blond when she was younger). She would be strong willed, intelligent, beautiful.

I wanted to name her Serah. Nik liked Sarah, my sister's name, but I could never settle for a common name having detested being Megan M. or Megan #3 all my childhood years. I would have to mix it up somehow.

I dreamed of Serah. During the time before our marriage and briefly after, while we were TTC, I would dream of being pregnant. I dreamed of conceiving her, feeling her move, giving birth, nursing. I could see her! Feel her! Hear her! She was so, so close!

Those months before we discovered Nik's infertility I would spend hours just laying there, praying for her, meditating, almost trying to reach out to her soul and pull her into my body. I was so ready, not just to be a parent, but to welcome my daughter. My DAUGHTER.

Lord help me if I'd conceived and had a son....


We found out, 6 months into the marriage, that it wouldn't happen. Not without a lot of help, and possibly not ever.

My dream was shattered.

My vision was wiped away.

I said goodbye, with gasps and sobs.

I said goodbye to Serah.


Months passed. We chose adoption over fertility treatments. We looked into programs. I was disheartened to see that the wait time for girls was so much longer than for boys. I began looking into special needs under the guise of adopting a child that was less desirable. In truth, I wanted my daughter, but I wanted an excuse. I didn't just want to be another family with no children just waiting in line for a perfect little girl just because. I wanted a reason to have a girl. A good one. Not just because I only wanted a girl, or wanted a girl to be our oldest, but because she'd need us.

We looked into Viet Nam. We looked into cleft lip and palate.

But the cost, oh the cost!

Surely we'd only have one shot at this, one shot to become parents. With that much travel and that much paperwork and that much MONEY involved... what were the odds that we'd be able to do it again within a few years? To adopt only one was, in our mind, committing to raising an only child. And I'd been so. damn. lonely. growing up and I simply couldn't do that...

So we looked at programs where we could adopt two at once.

Viet Nam was a no go then.... and Kazakhstan was far too pricey.

I said goodbye again... to Lilika.


We chose Ethiopia. We chose a home study agency. We chose a well respected, established placing agency that would allow us to adopt two at once. We were going to get an older girl and a younger boy. I could FEEL it! And this is when I actually started to love the idea of a boy, because he wouldn't just be tagging along with his sister, he wouldn't just be the leftovers, only there to fill a bedroom and be her playmate, he would be a son. A SON!!! I would have a SON!

Lumina and Paxton.

My children.

Then the social worker decided we could have only one child...

We've since looked more into this agency, and as older and more experienced people we can safely say that they are highly unprofessional. But that didn't matter then.

I tearfully informed the social worker that this meant we'd likely get a boy. I just knew we would. I was... bitter. Angry. She thought I didn't want a boy. Truth was, I DID want my boy. I DESPERATELY wanted my son.

But oh, how I wanted my daughter too!

We couldn't get them to change their mind.

While in Ethiopia we got to meet the children we would have adopted. An older girl and younger son, who went to the family waiting just after us in line. We speak online. The children are happy and well cared for. In the past couple years this has brought great peace.

But at the time, it was the biggest heartache we'd ever gone through.

We had two children's bedrooms we'd been preparing. We closed one of the doors. We used it for storage and kept that room closed until we moved from that house. It made the hall dark.

We had suffered a loss, if only in our minds.

We had lost the possibility of our second child, our daughter.

We said goodbye to Lumina


The domestic adoption process was easier I think. I already had Paxton, living proof that dreams do come true. I knew the process could work, and I was confident that we were good parents. And we'd found a great home study agency that treated us well.

We picked two more names. Ambrose and Zenobia. Get the connection? No? Say them quickly together.... I'll wait.... try again.... see? Each one begins with the other one's ending sound!

It was our name pick for twins really, which we were open to. Ambrose was the name that came first, and then Zenobia to compliment it. We had no idea what we'd do if it was same sex twins!

Months passed and situations arrived and were matched all around. Some felt real to us. Others did not. We knew we'd be placed with a boy. We knew he'd be Ambrose.

But still....

There was one situation... a little girl, preemie, in the hospital... we applied... and we weren't picked.

And in my head, that was HER. That was Zenobia. None of the other girl situations were but this one, THIS, could have been it. Could have been our little girl. Could have been my DAUGHTER.

I got the news while pumping. I calmly stopped and cleaned up then went to check on P in his room. I only made it halfway down the hall. I barely had time to put my hands out on the wall to support myself as I gasped for air, trying to calm the deep sobs... oh, the pain in my heart! It was truly breaking at that moment.

That was when I said goodbye to Zenobia...


We've since met that little girl too, a sweet, happy little pixie. Her parents, first timers, are bright and sunny and so, so utterly in love. Again, this has brought peace.

But still...

The concept of a daughter has only brought loss.

Serah, Lilika, Lumina, Zenobia. And now? "A". Oh, fine... Arcadia. Like my favorite play, and favorite video game, and... well, a few other connections, and then a couple more with the middle names we've decided we'd like to use if possible.

What are the odds? What are the odds we'll be saying goodbye to that name as well? To that prospective child? To that possible daughter?

And does it really matter? Because if we do adopt an Arcadia, the we DON'T adopt a Conrad. And isn't he just as important?

Should I even consider measuring my children's importance in terms of their gender? Isn't that just what society is telling me to do, saying that I won't be satisfied until I have one of each?

Wouldn't I be the most blessed woman on Earth to celebrate three beautiful sons?

Truth is... I think I would be.

I think.... I think it matter less to me now.

And I think realizing this, that the yearning for a female child is mixed up with feelings of loss and grief...

I think that helps.

I think it helps to realize that it WASN'T a daughter I wanted the whole time....

When I wished for Serah I really just wanted a child at all. I would have taken a boy, gladly. I would have loved him, adored him, cherished him.

And with Lilika... I just wanted an adoption to go through. While Serah was the name given to the biological child we could not conceive, Lilika was the "perfect orphan" who desperately needed us that we came to realize did not exist.

And with Lumina, I wanted to children, siblings. I would have taken a second son, brothers. I wanted a family then, kids, children. Not just one child. I wanted a house full of noise and laughter and I was ready for it right. at. that. moment. Saying goodbye to Lumina was saying goodbye to any control we seemed to have left in family planning. And it was saying goodbye to a real human being, a second child that we came so close to having then.

With Zenobia... We didn't really lose much more than a name. Just a name. But I wanted my Ambrosey so badly then! Zenobia was... societal pressure. The boy + girl family dynamic. Why would I ask for a second son when I had a choice? But in a sense we did. We could have held out and we could have a Zen now. We didn't and we have the most adorable 1 year old on the planet.

And now... Arcadia or Conrad.... Cade or Con....

Does it matter?

If we adopt a boy, does that really mean we'll never have a daughter? Or a daughter figure? Or a grand daughter? Or son's girlfriends who are like daughters? Or daughters in law? Do we really lose anything?

And if we adopt a daughter, do we really lose anything there either?

In truth... on one hand we might lose the very boy-like vibe around here and we'd have to satisfy the needs of two genders throughout life. On the other, we might never have the possibility of raising a girl from infancy ourselves.

But isn't that life anyway? Aren't you always making trades? Chose X, miss Y, deal with it.

And we are so, so, SO blessed. Paxton is so calm and happy now, so compliant, so peaceful. He's spent the past few months talking about his past with me, talking about death and illness and loss and grief and Oh! The difference! The happiness! The peace!!! I cannot even describe! We are so blessed with him. And Ambrose! So big and fun and happy! And independent! And sleeping all night every night! And did I mention independent?

In the end it doesn't matter. Another child is another blessing. Another personality. Another human being. Another son will not be a clone of these two brothers, who are becoming so vastly different from each other even as they play with each other more and more. And a daughter will not break up a happy home by bringing in female diva vibes.

I think.... I'm making a decision here. One supported by my husband.

We won't ask for a girl.

We're going to leave it open.

And I won't be preparing to say goodbye. I'm so done with goodbye.

I will be preparing my hellos for the next wonderful blessing to enter our life.

Oh, how we will love this child!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Reflections on Something Else for a Change...

I've been reading a bit lately, here and there, about this whole IVF/Nobel Prize thing. Some 30+ this technology was created and first used, and at this point it's lead to the birth of roughly 4 MILLION children throughout the world. Despite the fact that the Nobel is typically awarded just a tad closer to the discover/innovation/whatever, it's somewhat odd that it took a few decades for this to happen. But I guess it's not hard to see why I took so long...

The drama! Oh, the drama! Overpopulation and unused embryos and, OMG, the orphans! Why aren't you just adopting orphans!?!??!

So, cuz I'm all brainy and stuff, I decided to go ahead and try to think out some of those thinkie things, you know rub my two remaining braincells together to see what I can come up with in regards to the whole IVF thing.

Cuz see, thing is.... we didn't take that path. And we don't regret it. We chose against fertility treatments in general, and IVF in particular, with no qualms. In fact when we were actually discussing trying fertility treatments we've always agreed on one thing: No IVF. We wouldn't go "that far." We never thought it was right for us, and in many ways it's honestly hard for me to wrap my head around how it's right for anyone. The cost, the drugs, the risks....

But see, to me blood relation no longer matters. This, I think, is key. There are many out there who cannot fathom parenting a child who is not born of them, not of their blood, doesn't share their eyes and coloring and lineage. And for us we cannot fathom NOT loving any child that comes to you in the same way as one born to you. Oh, sure, you can't act as if you'd birthed a child through adoption. They have unique histories and often unique cultures which must be understood, discussed and celebrated. There is a difference in how you treat a child depending on how they enter your family, certainly, but there isn't a difference in how you love them, how you enjoy them, how you embrace them.

And yet, even as we shuddered at the thought of ever going "that far" to pass on our genetics, even as we happily embraced the life of adoptive parents and all the concessions it entails, I still find myself supporting and defending the usage of IVF.

And sometimes I ask myself... why?

Why, if we were so against it for ourselves, why would we stand up for it? Or I guess it's more of a "why would I" as I don't really know my husband's views on this matter :-)

So yeah, back to that thinking thing.

I've been thinking a bit, off and on, these past couple days about my own views on IVF and why I find negative comments about it so... offensive. Why should I care when I myself wouldn't chose IVF?

I decided that in order to answer this question to myself I must first respond (in private, here on my blog) to the major negative views brought forth by so many pertaining to this subject.

And so, in no particular order....

"But the orphans! By using IVF you've kept a child an orphan that you could have adopted!!! Oh, you cruel, selfish, anti-adoption zealot!"

K, so, first off? Adoption isn't for everyone! Some people have reasons why they CAN'T adopt, such as a criminal history that could be long past, a medical or mental health history that could be kept under control, too young, too old, too many marriages, abuse allegations from a past relationship, large amount of debt due to bad financial planning, etc. Some people may have even attempted to adopt and run up against a brick wall, having fall throughs or scammers. Even beyond that, many people are simply not emotionally prepared to go through with an adoption, to "share" a child if only through genetics. Even when it comes to people "adopting" gametes or embryos, these same people often have it easier in that A) they can know and control the entire prenatal history of their child, and B) there are no home studies, no legal fees, no birth parents expenses, no risk of a fall through or disruption, etc.

To me personally? I prefer adoption. But for most people going through IVF it's just not where there heart is, even if it's where there heart and mind will end up. The vast majority of people undergoing any fertility procedure wish to parent only a healthy infant from birth and the thought of a tantrumming toddler or malnourished preschool or RAD afflicted school age child or teenager isn't exactly appealing.

Are they selfish for this? Uh, NO! Why is it that people who have been blessed with easy conceptions and pregnancy seem to feel that those of us affected by infertility are "chosen" to adopt and that we're somehow selfish if we don't? WE AREN'T ANY DIFFERENT THAN YOU!!! You could just as easily choose to adopt those same waiting orphans but you don't! Single women and sometimes men are often capable from a young age, like 25, to adopt a child or children, old your young, infant or teen or anything in between. Most married couples would be accepted by just about any program. Yet if you can easily conceive then you aren't "required" to adopt? And if you face infertility it's a given that you must adopt? B***S***! The fertile can adopt just as well and the infertile have a right to be blessed with bio children.

In many ways I feel this is why adoptive parents and adoption in general can be seen in a bad light. Too many people thinking we're "special," and outside the norm. We're not. And perhaps if this perception of those in the adoption triad being different were to fade there would be more (ethical and necessary) adoptions.

So to the argument that IVF leads to less children waiting to be adopted I say: BS. If you want to see a child adopted so badly, go ahead and adopt one yourself!

Next argument...

"IFV leads to unused/dying embryos!!!"

Why yes. Yes it does. But are you really going to argue that the children born of IVF should not have been born? That their existence is worth less because they were not natually conceived? And what of embryo adoption/donation? What of the children coming into existence there?

The fact is that a high percentage of embryos created naturally will either never implant or will miscarry at some point, typically in early pregnancy. How can we honestly know for certain that the percentage of embryos going unused is more than the percentage of embryos that are naturally conceived and never reach gestation? We can't. We can't claim that IVF causes more embryonic death than Mother Nature herself allows.

But we can definitely say that there are lives today, 4 million in fact, that would not be here thanks to IVF. And I do think that's saying something.

Argument the Third:

"The world is already overpopulated! We didn't NEED 4 million more people!"

Again, yeah, the world probably didn't need 4 million more people. Hear that, oh ye fertiles? Stop reproducing! Oh, wait, it only matters when it's an infertile reproducing. Because we were "chosen" to be infertile and/or adopt. Yeah. Right.

The fact is that what the world needs more than anything is family planning. We need more free/affordable birth control and family planning services throughout the world, and especially in places affected by poverty. From what I've read such programs have been readily welcomed in third world nations, when available, because Believe It Or Not! most people, even "the poor," care more about taking care of the children they've been blessed with than having large families.

IVF is, in many ways, a big part of family planning. Sure it leads to many more children entering this world, but certainly not as much as just plain ole sex (where are the overpopulation protesters when it comes to anything selling sex?). IVF is most often used by loving families of any type to bring a much loved and longed for child or children into this world. These kids are cared for, typically treated well, celebrated, and raised up right. How can you honestly complain about that?

In many ways, this is an argument for hypocrites. Very few children proportionally will be born due to IVF. Why not protest a porno? A popular teen show glamorizing sex with no repercussions? The Duggers?

Argument #4...

"IVF is for the rich!"

Well, yes and no. It's almost like saying adoption is for the rich! In my humble opinion, both cost way too much. But both are worth it, and both are attainable to most people of the middle class. Should it be made available to people of other classes as well? Uh, yeah, most definitely. But the only way to achieve that is to accept IVF as a necessity for some couples to conceive and change insurance to cover it (and then change insurance to cover everyone ever). I hope some day it's more affordable, as well as safer, more standard, less risky, etc. I pray that everyone who wishes to have a child and has the resources to care for one can do so, no matter the means, and for everyone to only have as many children as they can honestly care for.

Alright, no more time to type so I guess I'm leaving off there. I have an overtired 1 year old (!!!) who won't nap and an almost 5 year old (!!!!!) breathing down my neck ready to head to the kids museum.

So let me wrap up with this:

We didn't choose IVF.

But we might have.

If adoption had not worked for us and it looked like we had the resources to do so, and we'd already tried other avenues... who is to say we wouldn't have gone "that far"? How can anyone who hasn't walked that path honestly say that they would never try it? Never consider it? How can someone who has been able to conceive naturally without issue honestly be a fair judge on such a topic? How can people without children or even desire for children really understand the issue? How can anyone judge another's life choices, especially if it doesn't seem to have caused any pain or trouble for another?

Alright, it's go time. Kids museum, here we come!!!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

And the bliss of rest...

Whenever I have bursts of awareness, such as I mentioned in my last post from like an hour ago, I feel... smothered. I need to do something about it but don't know what.

It's often followed by a peace, which in turn brings guilt because, really, who am I to need peace so badly? I who have so much.

I think that's what writing does to you, or at least to me, though. It releases emotions and thoughts and allows the writer to take them out of their mind and place them in a separate spot. Yes, it exposes them at the same time, which is a risk if you're a bit of the shy-ish type (guilty!), but it's a relief.

Tonight I think I'll talk to Nik about it. We can find something to do, some way to help someone somewhere.

For the moment though I'm back in sleeping baby land.

He's fallen asleep at my breast again, breathing deep and calm, while his older brother rests quietly upstairs. Sometime in the next several minutes, perhaps as long as an hour but not likely, they'll both wake up and we'll rush around to go somewhere. Perhaps to a mall or the kids museum or a park, to have fun and play and laugh and smile.

And I'll enjoy them.

I've been enjoying them for a long time, in fact. In reading over this blog I've seen a lot of negativity. A lot of sleepless nights because of the baby, a lot of daytime headaches because of the big boy, a lot of worries and fears, a lot of dealing with trauma and anger and violence, a lot of sorrow and regret and guilt.

But life is... well, it's good.

It's REALLY good in fact.

Perhaps that's why I'm suddenly feeling the guilt, the sorrow, the awareness of greater needs. Perhaps my mind can't handle this peace and happiness. And perhaps it shouldn't since I really don't want to become so entrenched in a "normal" life that I forget that so much of the world is currently suffering while I prosper.

But today, at this moment, I have to focus on my boys. I have to focus on being the best mother I can to them. I have to give them my all, my focus, my attention. I have to protect them, teach them encourage them, ENJOY them.

I have to tell silly jokes, sing silly songs, and make up silly dances. I have to correct a misspelling as gently as possible, guide in the right direction, keep in control while still letting the reins out. I need to be all here, all present, to detect any fear from my older son whose trauma seems more and more behind him every day. I have to be all here for my younger son who needs me so much right now even as he crawls off at the speed of light to discover this big, new world around him.

I need to capture everything. I need to memorize and relay the hysterical things they say and do. I need to capture a photograph or two of them playing dress up or building at tower (or knocking it over, Ambrose's fave!), but I also need to remember the balance and come out from behind the lense quickly; there's life happening here and it's more important to live out those moments than to capture an image of them.

I need to be present to drive and to cook, to put away laundry and nurse to sleep. I'm needed here, in this life, in this role that I've accepted.

Lately I've been considering expanding this role.

I wrote a very, very short story and I hope to expand on that until I have a whole collection of short stories, a gift for Nik probably on his 27th birthday next June.

I've been thinking about learning how to knit or crochet or topstitch, about making something with my hands that I can wear or the kids can wear or... or something!

I've been thinking about joining a gym and working out , finally getting that body I've always dreamed about. I've been stuck in the 160-170 range for a year now (an improvement from the mid-200's before that) and I wouldn't mind finally reaching my 10 year goal of 150.

And somehow, some way, I want to give back. Perhaps take P to help out at a soup kitchen once a month? Find "the right" program and send $? Make something that someone needs?

Whatever I do, I know that I can't let it get in the way of what we have going on now. I can't take away my boys' stability (especially in Paxton's case) to go above and beyond. But I don't think I have to. I think... maybe he is ready to help out himself. Maybe this is a good age to introduce service to others.

I guess it's time to start looking around to see what we can do.

In the meantime, this baby is getting wiggly in his sleep so it looks like pretty soon we'll both be sitting on the floor playing a clapping game. Who knew something so tiring and tedious as raising small children could also be the most fun I've ever had?


I feel I post too rarely in some senses, and too much in others. I spend free time half composing blog posts that I mean to write, milestones I wish to record, loving words about my family, humorous entries about our life together, and simple reflections about the world and people around me.

Why do I so often get bogged down with internal thought? And why do I write about it so much?

I suppose the obvious answer is that I'm not really speaking to anyone here. Perhaps people are reading, perhaps not, but I'm not actively engaging in a dialogue and I'm free to express myself and work through the issues swimming around in my head.

That said, lately I've been really, really affected by awareness.

Oh, being aware of your surroundings is a good thing. You need to know if there are cars coming down the street as you prepare to cross, you need to know if there's food in the fridge before heading to the store, you need to know where your kids are playing and what dangers might be present in each room, etc.

But I'm talking about a more global awareness. A constant, unending awareness of the horrors of this world at large. An awareness of things so painful, so large, that I find myself being brought to tears in random situations.

Things just... strike me. And they've been striking me for almost 3 years, since we first traveled to Ethiopia and actually saw what another part of the world truly looks like.

I suppose it's only natural that those of us who are pretty well off in this world aren't bogged down by the problems the rest of this world faces. Oh, sure, we talk about war and poverty and starvation. We discuss politics and victims, injustice and solutions, the whys and the hows and the what ifs and even sometimes the what is's.

But what happens when someone becomes truly aware? What happens when a person actually visits a third world nation and sees the people living so differently from them? What happens when they adopt that culture, if only a little bit, perhaps by adopting a child or taking a spouse or simply accepting the culture, at least partially, as their own? What happens when the events happening in the rest of the world actually start to matter to them more than just in passing?

What happens when awareness strikes?

I'm not the most aware of people, admittedly. Seriously, I walk into walls sometimes, totally phase out in conversations, and may not notice my husband is in the room until he gives me a kiss and scares the bejeesus out of me.

But lately this awareness, this global awareness, has been really affecting me.

A few days ago Nik and I sat peacefully watching our boys play in a children's museum in Asheville. It was early and the museum was empty, and they had the area all to themselves. As they sat there, happily playing with the bright and cheery toys all around them, moving from one to the other at will, it struck me...

How many children don't have toys? How many don't have a clean floor to sit on? How many don't have loving parents to watch over them and keep them safe? How many will never even hear or a museum let alone get the chance to be in one? How many opportunities were our boys taking advantage of at that very second without even thinking about it? How many children in this world would be grateful to not have to count their blessings if only for a day?

I spoke to Nik a bit about it, about how I wish all children had what ours have. Safe places, happy toys, loving parents, health care, abundant food, clean water, soft beds, clothes that fit, warm baths, etc. We are so blessed, they are so blessed. And they don't even know it. In many ways, I don't WANT them to know it. I like that they take their happy life as a given, that they aren't bogged down by the thought of "what if I lived in X country" or "why aren't they able to live like this?" Yes, at some point they'll need to know, and it'll be good for them to know, but for right now...

It struck me again yesterday afternoon. We were at the mall after nap and P and I were sharing our candy. P always wants to bring 2 quarters so we can each have candy. Oh, candy makes his world go round!

We were sitting on a bench as Ambrose played in their indoor playground. P would pop a Jelly Belly in his mouth, chew, then blow the air on me so I could sniff and tell him what flavor it was. It was a silly game and we were both laughing and having a blast.

But again, it struck me.

How many children in this world will ever have the opportunity to be so care free? How many will even see candy, let alone have regular access to such a luxury? How many parents will be afforded the time to play such games?

It hurt my heart, to know that something so insignificant that we take for granted is unattainable by so many....

And again, today. I arrived to pick P up from preschool and got to spend some time watching him run and play with his friends. He'd greeted me with a "hey mom!" as soon as he saw me but didn't bother to stop playing. Why should he? He knows he'll see me again. I'm a constant now. Ambrose happily played in the sandbox and went down a slide, experiencing and environment that was both sensory rich as well as safe and clean. Paxton got to run with his friends, then was able to break away when it was time to go with little more than a pout. He knows he'll be back tomorrow. He was happy to tell me about his day in school. He is proud to be learning.

And how many children his age won't have access to preschool? How many children won't have access to any school at all? How many won't ever learn to read or write? How many will struggle for years or for life due to detriments in early education? How many parents simply do not have the resources to school their children, either in or out of home? How many children will go without an education at even the most basic level?

And how many truly do not know if they'll ever see their parents again? How many have access to a diverse group of children that they'll see consistently as friends? How many will have the internal knowledge embedded at such an early age that we can speak different languages and have different skin and hair but that we are all friends?

How many will have access to a clean playground? Safe toys? How many children are stuck in a warzone and cannot play outside? How many live in areas with heightened kidnapping rates?

In the car I felt my throat tighten as I listened to my boys play in the backseat while P ate lunch. He didn't finish his sandwich (organic ingredients, freshly and lovingly made by a living mother, waiting for him in the car every day). He said he was full from snack, which he described in detail. He had a full belly. He can pick and choose food. He doesn't have to eat every scrap that comes along.

We cuddled in for bed, the baby eating at my breast (no worries about supply since I have access to domperidone, pumps, donor milk, and formula). P chose The Lorax, his new favorite out of his small but growing library of kids books, of which we read him several a day to the point that he's memorizing them.

I choked up on one of the ending phrases...

"Unless someone like you
cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing's going to get better,
It's not."

And awareness smacked me head on yet again...

As I sit hear in my cozy home eating a good lunch and typing on the internet...

How many children are dying of starvation?
How many children are desperately seeking a parent?
How many are hiding from weather? From war? From abuse?
How many are ill and untreated because of lack of resources?
How many are living on the streets?
How many are being violated, harmed, wounded at this very moment?
How many are suffering?

And the biggest question for me...

What on Earth can I do about it?

Monday, October 4, 2010

One Wonderful Year...

A year ago today a new soul was born into this world.

Regretfully we were not there to witness the event, but we do know some facts: Labor was induced, a c-section scheduled, and our little baby born at 11:16am. He weighed 8 pounds and 14 ounces, a good size that garnered the nickname Biggums from his first mother and her partner. He was 21 inches and had high apgar scores, 8 and 9. He also showed off a healthy set of lungs!

We don't know too much about those first couple of days, just a snippet here or there. A note on his paperwork saying that he ate an ounce or two of formula every 3-4 hours. A mention of haughty nurses making it hard for the agency social worker to visit and cuddle him.

We know that he was transported to respite care at 2 days old, which is when he started to receive milk from me albeit in frozen-then-thawed form. He slept odd patterns, cuddled frequently, and ate whatever he wanted whenever he wanted.

None of that changed when he came home :)

In nine days we'll be celebrating One Year since he joined our family, but today we celebrate One Year of life. A year ago today he was born into this world, a world full of love and hate, despair and poverty, and riches untold. A world full of hopelessness but also of hope, of potential, of brilliance.

He was not born a blank slate. He had, and has, the blood of his first family, and his ancestors, pumping through his veins. As he grows we'll see even more of them in him, in his preferences, his tastes, his mannerisms. He spent 9 months listening to the same heart, the same voice, the same laughter. And it is with sorrow that we acknowledge that a year ago today he suffered his first, and perhaps greatest, loss when he was forever separated from the woman who loved him, carried him, created him.

It is with joy, though, that we celebrate this past year.

And what a year it's been!

At nine days old, the day we met him. A small, helpless little lump of a person, cuddling in for warmth.
At 2 weeks old, meeting his uncle Alex for the first time. One of his middle names is Alexander, after said uncle :)

He was still so little, so floppy, so teensy. This outfit here? I had picked it out months beforehand and held on to it. It was his first church outfit. I nearly cried when I was finally able to dress him in it and take him to church. There was just something about finally being able to use the clothes I'd so carefully and hopefully picked out for him...

One month old. He was on the floor a lot, building his muscles. He could lift his head a bit, and flip randomly from tummy to back. He already loved his big brother and would turn to the sound of his voice. And, Oh!, big brother loved him right back!

Two months old and we're visiting Daddy's old high school, NCSSM, and listening to a professor read off The Grinch. We spend the month celebrating Christmas, going to events, shopping, visiting family. Oh, we have so, so much to celebrate this year! Ambrose sleeps through a lot of it.

January 5th. Three months and 1 day old. This was Big Brother's first day of preschool. Ambrose spent about an hour with Gambi in her office down the road so I could be there for P if he needed me. We bundled him up so much! He first smiled at 26 days old, but he rarely would do it for the camera. He also wasn't keen on not being held so a picture like this had to be taken quickly!

Four months old and teething has been going on for a couple weeks! The drool is incessant and everything is going in the mouth, especially the nice cold rings on the Maya Wrap. We finally had him diagnosed with reflux and began the process of trying to treat it. We never did find the best way to do so but at this point it's not much of an issue, thank goodness!

Five months old! We started solids early, half due to his eagerness and half due to my own. He loved apple sauce and mashed banana. Avocado? Not so much! We had to mash it with apples or banana for a few weeks before he would start to take this Super Baby Food. I always sat him in the Bumbo for feeding. No high chair for him! He was usually super excited about it too :) Best part of his day!

Six months old and his world is opening up. He's still not sitting by himself or crawling, but he's reaching and he's playing and he's mimicking sounds and he's getting into everything within reach. He's a happy baby, if somewhat clingy, and he's enjoying his surroundings. He has teeth now and he's using them frequently, especially on me!

Seven months and finally sitting on his own, seemingly out of nowhere. He had no muscles one day then a few days later he has perfect balance and all the muscle he needs! He's happy and squeally and interacting with everything. He LOVES water and is perfectly content to sit and play by himself so long as he's getting good and wet!

Eight months and starting to army crawl. He's spending a lot of time on the floor playing with toys. He can make his way around a room now, pretty slowly though. He's more worried about investigating and discovering a space in its entirety than he is about getting someplace fast or efficiently. He's finally having fun at places like the children's museum and not just hanging in a sling the whole time.

Nine months and just a few weeks away from cruising and straight crawling. He's all over the rooms now, stealing Paxton's toys, eating whatever he finds, and getting stronger by the day. He's also finally hit a nice growth spurt. He'd gone from relatively big to relatively small and was now back up to the big side of things, finally growing out of all his 3-6 month clothes!

Ten months and really taking off! Regular crawling has now dominated the "broken knee crawl," though we'll still see that a few more times in the weeks to come. He's pulling up on everything and really enjoys making a mess. He's so vocal! Loves to scream right in Paxton's face :)
Eleven months and he's into EVERYTHING!!!! He crawls fast, cruises on furniture and walls, climbs stairs, throws, unravels, eats, breaks, tears, and makes a huge mess all around him. He's a little terror alright :) He's also starting to sleep through the night (well, mostly) in his own bed in his own room. He's wearing 12-18m clothing and has nice long legs, though his cheeks are just as pudgy as ever. He's become super picky about food and is back to nursing almost exclusively for a bit.
Today. 12 months old on the dot. He's happy and interactive, preferring to spend most of his time out of my arms and on the floor playing, discovering, interacting, learning. He loves toys. He loves people. He's most comfortable with older kids and strongly prefers his brother to just about any company out there. He's so smiley, so giggly, so happy and sooooo super cuddly! He'll just wrap his arms tight around your neck and nuzzle in, happy as a clam. Such a sweet bean!

Alright, this has taken me awhile to write, far longer than it should, but picture uploads can do that! He's awake from his nap and needs a bit of tending to. And I suppose I should start on lunch or clean up a bit or maaaaybe wrap a special present for a special birthday boy :) I swear, the best part of shopping for one so little is that you can have them help you pick out their own toys, wrap the toys, then it's a surprise all over again when they unwrap and discover their "new" toy!

I suppose I should go rescue him from the trampoline now... I swear, he keeps climbing up there but can't climb down and you'd think he'd figure it out. But oh, how he loves Big Brother's toys!!!

(and soon, oh so soon, he'll be really big enough to play on them...)