Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Hear Ye, Hear Ye!

After thinking about it, and talking about it with my husband, I'm going to go ahead and make this blog private, or at least password only.


But but but!

I have started a new blog.

The whole point is to protect the identity of my children (not so worried about myself or my husband). So I'm writing under a pseudonym I came up with after lots of fun internal dialogues. This new blog is public and will hopefully stay that way, and pretty much it's going to be the same as this blog only without faces in the pictures or actual first and last names of my children (I'm up to 190 posts, it would be very hard to edit this blog to take those out).

I'll leave this one as public for the time being but pretty soon (in a month or so? Around the new year?) I'll lock it, and with it the full names and faces of my children (which I'll still share on email, on facebook, in person, whatever, just not on a blog with lots of stories about them).

So aaaaanywho, the new blog is: an na mc be an . wo rd pr ess . c om

Just, um, take out the spaces.

Also, I call all children beans. And my maiden name is McKenney. And my middle name is Ann. In case you were wondering where the pseudonym came from. My husband and children are referred to by the first part of their middle name. Just in case you read that and wondered. Cuz, you know, I would wonder...


Done babbling now....



Friday, November 12, 2010

The calm, hopefully not before the storm!

We've been in a good place lately. A really good place. A really, REALLY good place.

Ambrose is sleeping about 12 hours straight at night. He's eating well and has all the squish to show for it. He's bright, well adjusted, and talkative and is just so stinkin' cute as he discovers this big ole world.

Paxton is sleeping regularly, utterly thriving in school, reading faster and better, and growing like a weed. He listens to us and all his tantrums and complaints are no more than your average little boy's.

They're normal kids.

Normal, happy, smiley, laughing, playing kids.

And I love it.

In fact, I flipping BASK in it, in the feeling of walking to the park beside my almost-5-year-old son, proudly riding his first bike, as the baby sits on my back in his Ergo, ripping off his socks and squealing happily as he flails them around in the air like flags.

This is so great, so wonderful.

And I hope it lasts forever.

Oh, no, I don't mean the behavior. Certainly I DO wish they behave and listen and smile far more than they cry or tantrum. What person wouldn't?

But what I really wish was eternal was this sense of gratitude.

I'm GRATEFUL for these children, for these moments, for this plethora of seconds and hours and days of sheer joy and happiness.

I'm GRATEFUL for runny noses and lost socks and small arms crossed angrily over a tubby torso as the boy in question tries hard to keep up an angry face, only to fail when I make a joke and break out laughing.

I'm GRATEFUL for all the love. My God, the love! From the baby whose entire being leaps toward me when I walk in the room to the smiley boy on the playground happily screaming out a "hi mommy, are you here to pick me up? What's for lunch today?"

I'm so, so grateful for the kisses, the hugs, the cuddles, the bedtime stories, and those moments throughout the day when our eyes lock, happy eye to happy eye, and we really speak to each other if only in thought and we are so, so happy just to be in each other's presence.

This? Is what life is all about.

And I pray that no matter how rough the waters, how steep the hill, I always feel this way. I hope I never take these treasures for granted. They are my Gold and my Diamond, my sweet, sweet loving boys, my angels sent from God.

And my God do I love them.


In that vein, I wanted to both collect and share a few cute P moments from yesterday.

We took our bike ride to the park and while there P fell down the slide after trying some trick. Seriously, I blinked and he went from standing on the top of the slide to laying at the bottom, face in dirt, legs behind him and all up in the air. There was a stunned moment of silence before he raised his head, smiled and me and literally screamed, "Mommy, I'm okay! See? I'm okay Mom!" He wiggled his legs around and laughed hysterically. Silly boy :)

Then when we got to the house I had him go put his bike back in the shed while I took a shivery baby inside and started on dinner. He came in the door a minute later, sulky and whimpering. "What's wrong?" I asked. "It didn't work, mommy. I tried to put my bike in the shed but it just wouldn't go!" I remembered that the shed had a bit of a lip on the floor and he probably had trouble with it. "Aw, honey, I'm sorry!" We sat down together on the futon and he cuddled into me. "Mommy... I tried so hard! I used my big, strong muscles but my big, strong muscles did not work!" I couldn't help it, I laughed! Such sweetness! Such innocence! And such happiness when he saw that I'd already started preparing some "pink" tea for him :) (Raspberry Zinger)

Last night at bedtime I put the baby down then went to P's room for our normal good night kiss. It's become a ritual: Nik handles the bath, then he takes P and gets him ready for bed while I do the same for the baby. Nik leaves P's room shortly before I'm done with the baby. After I leave the baby's room I go to P's and cuddle him for a couple minutes.
Last night he was truly pathetic though, big eyed and whimpering. I got him his Penguin stuffy and he cuddled it while looking up at me.
"What's wrong?"
"What if there are snakes by the gate and they come into our house?"
I explained that the only way a snake could fit inside our house was to come in while we opened a door, and snakes were afraid of people so they wouldn't do that.
"But what if they aren't the snakes that are afraid of people? What if they're the snakes that scare people and make them scream 'Ah! Ah!' in the woods?"
"They aren't sweetie. Good night!"
*whimper whimper*
"... What's wrong now hon?"
"What if there's a helicopter and it tries to bang into our house??"
"... That, uh... that wouldn't happen... And if a helicopter tried it then it would hit a tree and crash before it could get to our house."
"But what if it knocked the tree INTO our house?"
I then went on to talk a bit about the trees outside but a quick glance at the clock had me finishing up and walking out.
*whimper whimper*
"P, what? What's wrong now?"
"Mommy... I'm scared of lots of things that might be scary!!!"
Hehe, yeah, I laughed, and kissed him, and hugged him, and told him he was in a special safe spot and that he'd always be safe while he slept there.
He just smiled and said something that blew me away.
"You're my next mommy... I love you. You're my favorite mommy. I don't want to go live with my first mommy anymore, I want to stay forever with you okay? I love you mommy"
I just about bawled. I gave him a kiss and left him alone to sleep. His eyes were starting to droop anyway.
I love him!

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Change in Views

When I was a child I believed in magic. No big surprise there, most children do don't they? But I can still remember the anger and frustration and utter desperation when trying to make magic happen. Why wasn't the scarf floating? Why wasn't the spoon bending? Why the hell wouldn't that damn flower just disappear already? Why did it look so very, very simple on tv where children my age seemed to do it flawlessly, while here I was trying so damn hard and nothing, absolutely nothing was happening?

I would strain and concentrate, chant, wish, hope, pray.

And nothing.

Nothing would happen.

And sometimes, pathetically, I cried about it.

And this, my friends, is what infertility feels like.

When we were first married I knew, for a fact, that we would create a child together, and soon! We were young! In our early twenties! We had the marriage, the house, the nursery, the crib, the freakin' copy of "What to Expect When You're Expecting." All around me there was hope, and examples of countless women who've done it before.

Neighbors with babies, celebs popping them out, families recounting their conception, pregnancy and birth stories.

It was magic all over again, creating life out of cells, and yet again seemingly endless examples of people doing it all. the. flip. around. me.

And it didn't happen.

Month after month, prayer after prayer, test after test, nothing.




And I felt like a zero too.

When I was a child trying to work magic it made SENSE that the magic didn't work. It wasn't real! It was an illusion! And the frustration I felt was really just a part of life, a part of growing up and coming to terms with reality and the end of innocence.

But this didn't make sense, because people do get pregnant, near spontaneously, every day and all around.

And I couldn't.

I remember how I felt Googling every potential sign of early pregnancy, analyzing every twinge, praying to my future child, even, yes, chanting and trying to work magic as the months wore on.

I remember clearly going to the Dollar Tree and purchasing oodles of OPKs and HPTs. I remember the shame I felt, that I had to buy so many and not just the one lucky test that proved positive immediately. I remember the look on the cashiers faces as they glanced over me, an overweight 23 year old unemployed woman with straggly, unkempt hair and an awful fashion sense. I could almost see them wishing that the tests were all negative.

I was desperate, then. It had all been First Response and such from drug stores in the beginning but I turned to the Dollar Tree when it became clear that I'd break the bank if I continued buying the good stuff. I think my desperation showed.

The first time I bought a test I was grinning ear to ear. I could literally feel myself glow. The first time I saw one line I felt like a knife had stabbed my heart. The first time AF showed up afterwards, in the mall bathroom right beside Pottery Barn Baby... when I had to walk out and confront my husband about it as he was happily gazing at the cute baby display, soft knits and adorable stuffies... yeah, let's not even go there.

So I was desperate. And I was a mess.

I was a mess for a long time, actually.

I was a mess while trying to conceive, as those infamous double red lines eluded me. I was a mess while trying to convince people that we were fit to adopt despite our young age. I was a mess while waiting for the adoption to go through. And I was a horrible mess once we actually had a screaming, angry, highly traumatized toddler in our home because, dammit, this is not what we signed up for at all! This was not our original plan! Where the hell did our original plan go? Why didn't the magic work for us? What the hell had we done wrong?

Of course, becoming a mother changed me. The first year was hard. On his end we had trauma, a language barrier, a new culture, attachment difficulties and crazy new parents. On my end there was entitlement issues and post adoption depression. P and Nik bonded quickly, perhaps because Nik had been less affected by the whole infertility crisis and had been able to busy himself with work for the two years that I spent holed up in a dark back room playing The Sims 2 and eating mostly Totino's Pizzas and Tater Tots.

P changed me, though, and we bonded. Oh, God, did we bond! I could not imagine life without that boy. He is everything we wanted in a child: intelligent, compassionate, witty, funny and incredibly, ecstatically loving. His favorite thing to do is cuddle and share candy with me.

I took one pregnancy test after P came home from Ethiopia. I was feeling all icky in the tummy and I just worried, you know? What if we had become a cliche? I was so, so not ready for another and for the first time in my life I was actually flipping ecstatic to receive only one line! We wanted #2 to come through adoption, we were certain. We wanted P to have a sibling who looked like him. We weren't ready for a baby (as welcome as it would be, of course). And this is when my views really started to change, I think.

After P came home the need to be pregnant diminished greatly but did not disappear. It wasn't until A came home and I finally, pretty much, met peace with the possibility of never getting pregnant. I mean, yeesh, I got to experience a newborn! And nursing!

That doesn't mean that the want is totally gone, of course. I would love to get pregnant. I would love for that magic to work. But I'm not desperate anymore. I'm not straining, not concentrating, not crying in frustration.

That doesn't mean I'm not analyzing every twinge though!

Yesterday I went back to the Dollar Tree and bought a test. It was the first time in years. I had had a morning's worth of spotting that never got bigger than that and I was feeling a little yucky in the stomach. It could be a returned cyst (I'm a repeat offender in that category) or it could be a return to fertility or it could be nothing. Or it could be a pregnancy.

And I figured $1.08 and 5 minutes was worth eliminating that possibility.

So I went in with A while P was at school and bought a test. I found them easily and checked out. I still felt shy about it, though I'm not totally sure why. I'm a married woman with children and I deserve to know if another child is about to enter my family. I still hid the test under a cheese shredder though. For the record, I needed the shredder.... though I possibly still would have bought something of equal size to cover the test anyway :-P

I felt nervous when it came time to check out. Suddenly, I remembered the looks on the faces of my previous cashiers, the glance over, the feeling of guilt and shame and frustration and desperation.

For a second, just a second, I was transported back to that awful place, that awful magicless land where I was trying, so damn hard, to create a family in a world where magic worked for everyone but me.

And then... A laughed. And pointed. And spoke, something along the lines of, "Aglafflebackumbackumdepuiiiiiii!" And I giggled and tried to repeat it back to him. And he laughed and tried to correct me. We talked like this the whole time.

And next thing I knew it was my turn to check out and the cashier... she saw the test and she looked at me and she looked at my giggly, happy baby and... she smiled.

An "all is right with the world" smile. A "this woman is a good mother and if she has another baby that would be wonderful" smile. A hopeful smile. A reassuring smile.

And I couldn't help but smile myself as I left, holding my babe up high in my arms and walking to the exit, test in hand.

Of course it was negative. I kind of almost wish I could end this with a surprise BFP, but it is what it is, and really a negative test in one hand isn't so bad when you have a positive homestudy in the other hand and two kids laughing and playing outside the bathroom.

I do think that someday we will try to achieve a pregnancy once again, either naturally or through embryo adoption. The magic of pregnancy and childbirth certainly has a hold on me, and still appeals to me. But if we do try to work that magic it will, hopefully, be calmly and happily, already satisfied that our life is utterly and totally full of magic already, and that this would be just another one of the many tricks we could try to master.