Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The (First?) Meeting...

I'm so all over the place with posting. Once a month, twice a day, whatever! It's all a mix of time and inspiration and stuff happening and me actually remembering that I, too, have a blog. Yes, yes, despite the fact that I've been keeping a blog for, oh, 9 and a half years (my LiveJournal came first) I do actually forget that I have one. I'm just that ditzy.

Anyway, as I recorded our (first?) experience with the fertility clinic here, I felt I should also detail our (first?) meeting pertaining to foster care.

First of all, I should say that the "(first?)" has a double meaning. There's the obvious, that we could very well pursue this further and and instead of last night simply being "the foster care meeting" it might actually be "the first foster care meeting". Secondly, we've already been to one of these meetings over five years ago, with different people, different building, and when the group split into foster/adoption and adoption only, we were some of the people who left to go get the spiel on adoption in the other room.

As a quick summary, we were married 5 years and 11.5 months ago and found out about our fertility issues about 6 months in (or rather, had them confirmed by tests). We were quick to pursue adoption starting with foster care, signing up for an information meeting and attending the first session we could. I was so certain that they were just dying for a couple like us! Married, stable, own a home, financially secure, health insurance, family support, stay at home mom, many years experience with young children, open to any race and gender, multiple ages and siblings groups. Oh, yeah, they were gonna love me!

But I was 23 and he was 21 and no, no they did not like that. Foster care might have been okay with it had we stayed for that meeting, but the adoption group did not like it. The woman who complained that she should be given the baby of an unwed teen because "well, that's just not good role modeling!", yeah, she probably got a child through them. And the couple who complained when they mentioned sibling groups, pouting that "so if we get our baby and he has a brother we have to take THAT ONE too?!?!?" Yeah, they probably got a kid before us as well. But we were young and young is so often thought of as naive and unprepared. I can tell you from experience that you can be just an unprepared and naive at 43 as at 23 but that's another blog post, that I'll probably never get to...

Anyway, we were so burned by the experience that we swore we'd never go back. No way in heck would we foster, only straight adopt, and no way would we want to deal with the people who didn't see the awesome resource in front of them.

Years later, and some humility slapped into us...

So we returned. We returned as a couple married almost 6 years, not 6 months. We returned as parents of a toddler and Kindergartner, parents who have dealt with loss and grief and anxious attachment in a small child, parents who have worked therapy into their schedules and set up long periods of their life around routines that appear so silly and useless that we're openly ridiculed by fellow parents who truly do not understand why we would do what we do. We returned as people with more compassion, more hands on knowledge, and more faith in our ability to parent and seek out the resources needed to help our children.

We also returned with all of the "knowledge" about foster care in our heads...

Mostly white people adopting, so few people hoping to foster, people trying to make a living off it, no one wanting to do straight foster, no one open to siblings, no one open to other races...

When we showed up we HAD TO WAIT IN LINE to get in. I say that because it's amazing. People were LINING UP to become foster parents.

The room? Was PACKED. Majority of the people were African American as far as I could tell, with many Caucasians and Latinos mixed in.

When they split the group from fost/adopt and adoption only, most of the Caucasian people left.

We hadn't noticed that the first time around....

They accentuated the need for homes, especially for siblings and older children. They told us that "teen" starts at age 10. They also told us that you could only have five children MAXIMUM in your home, meaning the most we could take would be 3 (whew! That's still a lot!). This also means larger sibling groups are always split up. Even smaller ones are usually split up. They told us that most foster homes are only open to one child. A handful will take 2. There are no foster parents currently licensed in our county willing/able to take 3 or more children.

That? That stuck with me...

Also, the process? This whole notion of "foster care is easy, if you're interested they'll just give you a child!" Um.... it's apparently a 6-9 month process to be licensed. Also you need the MAPP class, like duh, and that doesn't start until January. Which means we might be looking at a YEAR from now before we could even be licensed, and at that point we'd start the wait to be placed.

That also shocked me. They talked about why it takes so long, and it makes sense. It seems to run so against their desperate need for homes, which I do believe now is genuine, and yet I understand it. We only barely touched on rough issues with P, compared to what we might see in foster care.... thinking about someone jumping right in and getting a child a month later? And finalizing an adoption before the honeymoon is over? That scares me even more than the thought of a child in a long term therapeutic group home...

So yeah, we wavered a bit. And read and listened. And we laughed at the jokes and I misted up a few times just thinking about it all, about the children in peril, the young adults with their lives stunted, the case workers who love so much, and the people in the room... the people in the room who couldn't even wait for the meeting to be over before pulling out their Foster Parent Application Form and filling it out, right then and there, to hand in. The people asking for the fax number to send in their applications later, and kindly asking for a repeat so they'd send it to the right place. The people who weren't scared away and truly, truly want to do this...

And then there's us.

I almost bailed on the meeting the day before. Almost said, "eh, why do we need the trouble?"

I told Nik that because we have so long to get our application in I'd like us to sit on it a month and just think about it. And you know what Mr. Doesn't Like Risks told me? He's ready to fill it out. Ready to do this.

I could have cried.

I'm pretty sure it will be sent off sometime next week...

That's not to say we'll be accepted, and even if we are that's not to say we will be licensed. A lot could happen during the next year, right?

We could decide it just doesn't feel right for our family, or maybe one of the kids might end up needing more care than they do right now. We might find another adoption route that feels like dingdingding, this is the right path. Heck, I could even become pregnant. Stranger things have happened, right?

But for now...

I have to admit, I was half hoping that the class would scare me off... but it didn't. It didn't at all. And now I'm actually MORE excited about this. And I'm happy that it would probably take so long to become licensed. If we choose this path and continue on it and nothing changes, then we'll be licensed when our kids at home are 7 and 3, when they're in the same room and we have a bedroom and crib free, and when they're a bit older and more independent. They just get easier every year...

So, yeah.

Obviously we have NO IDEA what the future holds, none at all. And this could all be a horrible, horrible mistake. Or it could be the start of the most wonderful journey of our life, perhaps even leading into having a permanent attachment to helping those children in our community most in need. Who knows?

Oh, and I do have to share this little bit...

Toward the beginning of the meeting when they asked that everyone interested in adoption only please go to the next room over for their presentation, a large group of people left (perhaps a fifth of the room, like 20+ people). As they were about to shut the door, the woman leading the meeting called out "feel free to come on back when your meeting is over!" Then she turned to us and said, with sass, "They AAAALWAYS come back!"

Everyone laughed, and Nik leaned in and whispered, "she's right. It just took us five years..."

That Health Thing...

I had another blog for awhile that I got sick of. In that blog I mentioned my problems with fitness and diets and such and I had meant for the blog to be sort of a journal for me as I chronicled my own personal journey through weight loss/increased health and personal growth as I attempted different hobbies and such in order to perhaps find something I truly enjoy and am passionate about.

So yeah, like many things, I gave up on that blog. I could give reasons, but really? I'm too lazy to have two blogs :-P No, seriously, I am.

If there's one thing I've learned, and grown to accept, it's that I'm a very sedentary person. I enjoy sitting. I enjoying resting. I enjoy gazing at the sky in silence, my brain whirring a million miles a second. I sometimes blame this on my own extremely chronic insomnia that has plagued me my entire life. When you have 2 or so hours every night to just stare at the ceiling as you try to sleep, you tend to build your own little fantasy worlds, your own stories, your own long inner monologues. From conversations with God to self-insert fanfics to planning out the next week of my life meticulously... Yeah, that's just how I work.

So I think part of my journey is to try to take my focus from being so much inside into noticing the outside, and caring for it. Stop thinking about where I'd like to move the sofa, positioning it a dozen different ways in my head, and start clearing space. Stop reading people's blogs and forum posts anonymously and start contacting them to actually talk. Be active. Enjoy life.

But I guess that's not entirely the point of this post, now is it?

I've been reading on a friend's blog and she has talked of her weightloss/fitness journey, where she's come from, and where she is now. While I wish her luck (and I really, really do!) it has made me feel like I should share a bit of that on here.

There's a lot, so I'll be summing up quite a bit of this...

I've never been thin. I've never been fit. I've never been in shape.

You know those fat kids that eat Dorito's like they're breathing air and gasp for breath while walking up stairs and are picked last for basketball, even by the teacher? Yeah, that's me.

Growing up my family tried to make me feel better about myself, tried to build my confidence. I won't say it totally backfired, but, well... essentially I assumed the identity of the "fat girl."

That's who I was, right? Like a skin color or gender, it could not be changed. I was fat. I had a certain life expectancy, a certain way I was supposed to act, certain clothes I could wear, etc that was all different from "the norm."

I went through "skinny phases" here and there as I grew, but I was always pudgy even then, never the gangly or thin girl. I have always had my thighs rub together and wear my pants down or give me awful sores if I wore skirts. I often lost my balance. My pants usually cut into my stomach so deeply that I now have a "bromodial stomach," a tubby stomach with two separated flabs of fat that accentuates itself. I had an early period (age 10), early breasts (started growing when I was 8), and early body hair and odor for which I was teased.

To top it off, I was 5' 4" in 4th grade.

I was a freak and I knew it.

And I separated myself from my body.

I dressed in whatever clothes I felt like, because I knew I wasn't highlighting anything. My hair was always down and typically unkempt and tangled, because why would I bother to brush it? I never cared about myself physically. Never took care of myself. My body would fail me, that was something I always believed. I would probably die young of one of the many diseases that plagued our family and I may as well just not give a s--t about the vessel that would lead to that demise. It was only there to move me around, that's it...

When we got married I was around 230 lbs or so.

When we went through the TTC and adoption journey for Paxton, I ballooned up even more. I threw out my scale. I would try to walk places and I was always gasping for breath, my fingers and feet swollen and fat and sometimes unmoveable. It was almost impossible to get a middle seatbelt around me. I tell people I was 250 lbs when we adopted P, but honestly? I could have been A LOT higher.

I was so depressed during that journey. I wasn't working and I was in a town with only one friend, who was working. We only had one car which Nik took to work. I stayed up unil 4am and slept till noon. I popped in a frozen pizza and tater tots for a meal, and ate a whole Totino's pizza for lunch by myself. Most days my own activity was to get up, make the bed, get dressed, walk the dog in our front lawn, eat, and sit at the computer in the back of our house, in the dark corner with the cold floor, quiet and alone. No matter how many lights we put on, how many windows we opened, that was the darkest corner I've ever seen. Even cameras couldn't go off there without a flash. I would sit there, only moving to use the restroom or get more food. Then Nik would come home and I'd feed us both again and we'd play video games and then he'd conk out asleep and I'd just get right back to it, in my corner hunched over the computer with a big plate of food, depressed and feeling like this journey would never end and we were just throwing money and hope into a black hole, knowing full well it would never happen for us.....

Then it did.

And life got crazy.

Part of my own emotional issues during that first year with P probably stemmed from all the time I'd spent alone and depressed. I truly didn't believe they'd even let us keep this little boy until we got on the plane to the US, and it was like my brain literally could not handle it. That was a dark period for us... but with so much light thrown in.

And it got better. And better and better and better. P bonded and he got healthier and I got healthier and soon I realized I was making healthy food for him and crap food for me and, dagonnit, that shouldn't be the case!

So I started to eat better. And walk more, and play with him, and throw balls, and roll around.

I was around 200 lbs when I started the journey of trying to induce lactation to adopt Ambrose.

On top of eating better because, well, my baby would be getting that food, the pumping really helped me burn fat. I lost roughly a pound a week for 6.5 months. I was around 160 when Ambrose came home, and feeling incredible.

Last November we joined the gym. I was 174.

And I don't believe I've lose a lb of it.

But you know what? That's okay. It'll come off eventually, I think.

Because over the past 4 years we've been instituting changes.

Sloooow, slooooow, steeeeady changes.

Cutting down on soda, changing type, then cutting right out until it's a once-a-week thing.

Cutting down on pizza, burritoes, quesadillas, etcs. Pizza more than once a month? Uuuuuughhh, no please!

Slowly adding in more foods, more veggies. Getting to like salads. Getting to drink water. Getting to see apples as a good snack. Slow cooking with fresh veggies.

And on top of that? Nik's running and my yoga. We're both learning so much about our bodies, it's insane! I have bad knees, my left leg is very flexible, I hold my legs incorrectly when I walk, etc. I'm learning to adjust, stretch, feel, and figure out what I need.

I can do a push up, and don't even get me started on sit ups!

And when I stretch my legs my feet no longer go numb and my knee no longer feels so painful I have to stop and gasp for breath.

I'm getting there. Not even really close to where I WANT to be yet, but I'm getting there, slowly and surely.

Now I just need to stay on this path for, oh, the rest of my life... :)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Too Fast...

Okay, can someone please tell me when this angelic little baby:

Became this fun loving big boy?

Seriously, the kid is loving his school. He's loving library story time. He's asking for his teachers or class mates or librarians or friends, asking to go certain places, do certain things, eat certain foods. Things he didn't register even a month or two ago are now his norm. He's not thinking like a baby anymore. He's thinking like a kid.

And it scares me.

I mean, come on, I already have one kids in all day school!!! Let me have this baby time man!

Seriously, look at this! Look at my cute cuddly little boys!

Now, look at these same boys 23.5 months later, all dressed up (by their definition) and headed off to school this morning.

Ambrose knew exactly what he needed to do to go to "butha scoo". He needed a jacket. Not pants or a shirt or shoes or anything. And who cares if it's raining! No, he needed a jacket, brother's jacket, and he could wear it his way thankyouverymuch, and he and P held hands and just started walking off while Nik was getting his shoes on.


What's a momma to do?

Especially when he's such a heart breaker!

I mean, it was obvious he would be. Look at how dashing he was at just a couple weeks old!

And now? Even more so.

Kid has his own sense of style, and he totally rocks it! And if you don't comment on his awesome shades or his rockin' boots? Well, he'll march right up to you and demand you look at him and compliment his attire. My little diva.

Oh well.

I guess they all have to grow up sometime, right?

At least now he's no longer just lounging around on the couch playing video games.

We've got this babe out in the yard working.

Gotta pick that crop o' chickens before the frost sets in!

Monday, September 26, 2011

back and forth and baaaack and fooooorth...

So this whole #3 thing is, well, complicated.

First we updated our paperwork for Ethiopia. Didn't go anywhere. Then the Congo. Didn't go anywhere. Then domestic and we're pretty much done with that arena. Even the situations I'm seeing that we could afford would involve $15K+ unrefundable due right away. We COULD update our paperwork and sign with an agency, but... well, that's just not appealing to us right now.

We're going to a foster parent informational session tomorrow evening, just to get a feel for that arena. I've had a few friends recently have success through them. But we're nervous, about a lot. What if we have a child and lose him/her? What will that do to us and the children? What if it ends up being a multi year guessing game of whether or not we get to keep the child placed with us? Or what if it ends up like friends of ours, who waited until their were healthy children/infants either available for adoption or headed down that route? What if we just keep saying no until the right one comes along? Even then, the process to become licensed doesn't exactly look appealing... Especially the Fire Marshall telling us what to do in our house. And the 10 week, 3 hour course on what you'll deal with. And keeping yourself updated classes. And all the stress of having a caseworker and/or social workers and/or therapists involved in your life for a minimum of 6 months... But it could be worth it... worth at least going to the informational at least, right?

I think the idea of having our life (and our family and our home) be our own, under no one else's care, is what's most appealing about giving up on adoption. No more homestudies! No more references! No more questioning of our beliefs/backgrounds/finances/relationship! Just the belief that we can life our lives as a normal family, answering to no one but ourselves and those who love us and support us, just like just about every other family.

And of course, that's what makes birthing a baby seem like a better option.

Embryo adoption? Possible, but not so much through the local fertility clinics (2+ year wait).

Donor gametes? Again, possible, but we'd have to figure out exactly what the "issue" is and if it could be fixed by this and nothing else. And I'm not exactly jumping at this option, seeing it as a last option. I don't know, but when it comes to our family it really feels like our kids should be all or nothing biologically. But that could be something I get over...

IUI? A possibility, one I'm not so against.

IVF? ... if it comes to this, and insurance won't cover it, I'm totally going to India/Thailand/Barbados/wherever! Even if we spend the same amount and it doesn't work, then we'd still have had the vacation of a lifetime. Of course, easy to say when it hasn't come down to that...

Natural fertility remedies? Yeah, looking into those, still trying to wrap my head around it all. Perhaps someday soon I'll try a fertility acupuncture...

And I'm sure there are other things I've missed.

So, to make a super long story short, there are a lot of questions about where exactly #3 will come from. A toddler from foster care? A baby we conceive naturally? Embryo adoption? Will we travel out of the country for fertility treatments? Will we travel out of the country for another child? So many questions...

And yet there's always that one nagging question still lingering, still jumping around in my head...

What if we're done?

What if this is it?

What if our family is perfect, just the way it is?

We have two boys, two perfect sons, with two radiant personalities. They're so different in some ways and yet they are best friends. They are both healthy, both intelligent, both loved and adored, both well adjusted and attached, and both thriving.

We have a full life. We have a home to keep, jobs to fulfill, and two different school schedules to mind. My day is full of making lunches and keeping sleep schedules and reading books and playing on the floor and kissing booboos and giving big, long hugs. We go on road trips with both boys, now very portable, singing in the backseat joyfully and laughing together.

We are enjoying our life and honestly? Many days I really don't feel like someone is missing.

And yet...

It's such a conundrum.

I cannot declare us "done" right now, not knowing full well that we could care for another and that we'd love and adore a third. And truthfully who's to say I won't ache deeply for that invisible third in the coming months or years as our "baby" truly becomes a regular kid?

It's almost nerve wracking... We're so happy where we are, and so afraid to lose it and yet drawn toward expanding our family, drawn toward "risking" our life together in hopes of adding another. Who's to say our pursuit would even prove fruitful? Who's to say it wouldn't be a huge mistake? Who's to say we won't end up with a stillbirth or failed adoption? But then again, who's to say our 3rd child won't be every bit as wonderful and miraculous as his/her older brothers, just as loved, just as adored, just as cute and smart and friendly? Just like with our first two (can we handle a child? Can we handle a second?) who's to say that questioning isn't all a moot point because, really, it will happen if and when it's meant to (though I hate to be told that...).


Well, back to daily life and random, still moments of pondering. Oh, for those of you who are fertility minded and know what this means: I'm 10dpo, and my luteal phase has been very short so maybe AF will show soon, but if not then yay! But unlikely, right? :-P

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Today is the day!

Today, for the first time EVER, they're both in school!

P left with Nik before I even got out of bed, and A slept late giving me time to shower and make breakfast.


Then I got A's lunch and diaper bag ready and dropped his little butt off at his school!


Four hours! Four blissful hours all to myself! Four wonderful, amazing, relaxing hours!


So what have I been doing?

Have I spent my morning at a coffee shop curled up with a book?


Did I get my brows waxed and hair trimmed like I'd planned?


Did I go shopping for clothes, or the new shoes I "desperately" need?


I.... sat on my butt.... staring at the computer...


Okay, so that's not all.

I mean, I was able to vacuum all of upstairs, which is rare, and I have laundry going. I cleaned the chicken coop and spent an hour or so on the floor going through the Scholastic fliers I'm in charge of for P's preschool, picking out the best 4 out of 8 or so titles, pulling the fliers out, and making the little stacks.

And I ate hummus. That's always a plus, right?

But really, I didn't do much, not necessarily because there's nothing to do but because, I mean... what do I DO without a child attached to me?

I mean, seriously, I've been knee deep in this 24/7 mom thing for like almost 4 years now. Yeah, I get to head out to a friends house alone a few times a month, and yeah I often have Saturday mornings all to myself to do the grocery shopping (and more laundry), but 4 hours twice a week? During the day? All to myself?

I'm seriously at a loss. I know there's stuff to do, I could even make a list, but even so... it just feels so weird.

I guess just like them figuring out the complexities of being at school without me, I'm going to have to figure out the complexities of being at home (or preferably out) without them.

It's odd.

I get lonely, and while I used to get lonely with only a child to talk to, now I'm perfectly happy to sit and speak one on one with one of my boys. I love their company, and it's hard to be away from them just for the reason that they've been my sole, consistent company for so long.

And I guess that's why this is good for us.

They are making friends and when I pick them up they run to me, bright eyed and ecstatic, happy to come home to the safety and security they need while still happy that they get to go back to a land of fun and learning very soon after.

And that's why I enjoy going to the gym by myself isn't it? So I experience the same thing? Even if they're right upstairs in the nursery?

This will take some adjusting, and some planning. And I'm sure pretty soon I'll have a full agenda for my mornings off, which will be fun and hectic and wonderful.

But for now... well, it's almost time to pick up my little one, and I have to admit I'm a bit excited :) Even if it does mean that I get to go right into dealing with naptime!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

You know you're nursing a toddler when...

You know you're nursing a toddler when:

*You are rushing around in your room to get dressed, you pull off your top and reach down to the under-bed drawer to grab a new bra and while you're rustling around in there you feel two small hands grab a breast and pull it to a tiny mouth, who begins suckling without word. A few minutes later while you're still standing in this awkward position and he's still nursing, you finally realize how ridiculous this looks and start giggling hysterically.

*You grab him from the crib early in the morning when he's calling for you, quickly change his dirty diaper, and bring him back to bed with you so you can close your eyes while he nurses, perhaps getting a little extra sleep... instead you become something like the base of a clock, and he's like the second hand, rolling all around on top of you and beside you. His belly to your belly, him flipped on his side across the bed, him kicking your ear and playing with your nose... finally when he has a knee in each ear and his diaper squashed firmly over your face, you realize that maybe this wasn't the best of ideas. From that day on, if you're awake enough to think about it, you nurse him on a sofa and when he tries to flip around he falls off the side.

*You realize his upset is moving into tantrum territory, or he's just not going to stop playing before bed, or he won't leave his brother alone, or... well, whatever. Something you want to stop. And instead of a lengthy, screaming filled time out you opt for a bribe. Luckily it's been awhile since you last nursed, and even though you only nurse twice a day now and don't have much milk you're pretty sure to have something in there. You lean down to his ear and whisper "na-na" and he comes to a complete stop, looks up at you with huge, bright eyes and whispers back "na-na?" He reaches for you and you grab him and settle down to let him nurse for a couple minutes. He eats, he re-sets, and everything improves. And hey, it's better than bribing with a cookie, right?

*You no longer have the support of your friends, your family, your mommy's group, or society in general. Even your husband, who is so supportive when you're actively nursing, get's a little uncomfortable when you actually speak about extended breast feeding. Everyone who started off with babies the same age who were nursing alongside you have now all weaned and you can tell in their looks and their words that they don't understand why you're still nursing when their own children are doing fine without. You keep hearing "He's getting too big" or "he can eat real food now" and of course "you're STILL nursing???" No longer are people urging you on or singing your praises, they're judging you and condemning you. You now nurse in private only. And sometimes, even though you don't want to, you feel guilty for nursing at all.

*Your son confuses waiters at restaurants by ordering "cow's milk." That's right, my not-yet-two-year-old orders his own drink and often his own food, and knows how to do so without prompting. And he knows there's a difference between cow's milk and mama's milk. Sometimes he just casually says "milk" and understands that one is called na-na and the other milk. Other times, though, he wants to be very specific so people don't mess up his order. So yes, Mr. Waiter, he did just ask for cow's milk. Please stop looking at me like he's speaking gibberish and asking "cow's milk?" You flipping know what he means!

*Sometimes your son will see a picture of an animal nursing, such as a pig, and become excited. "Pig na-na!" Next thing you know, he'll be asking you to oink while he nurses. You laugh and do it because playing make-believe with a toddler is not above you and it makes him so happy and excited. It becomes a very happy memory that you're glad to have.

*Your little guy goes through a super clean phase. Thus, he takes a napkin and cleans your cleavage in public, declaring "clean na-na!" Because we can't have no dirty na-na's now!

*Sometimes while you're holding him in your arms, maybe out for a walk or talking to someone, if you're not paying attention he'll reach his hand into your shirt and feel around a bit. If you don't protest, he'll grab a nipple. Usually it ends at that, and he's happy to know his food source is still around. Buuuuut, sometimes he'll be able to grab that nipple and gently pull, tug, and reposition while you still don't notice, until he's actually pulled the nipple up to the top of your shirt. Then he'll lean over and start suckling like a fiend. Yeah, you notice then, and he giggles while nursing as you jump. At this point you're so used to nursing that you literally didn't notice, and even though people are giving you surprised/embarrassed/scandalized looks you can't help but chuckle. What's that saying from Ron Burgundy: Anchorman? "How'd you do that? Heck, I'm not even mad; that's amazing!"

*You have a deadline. Two years and you're done. You've been on a certain medication in order to nurse him since February of 2009. This medication MAY have the side effect of harming your uterus, and you haven't given up all hope of having a child through birth, whether naturally, through treatments, or through embryo adoption. Harm may not happen, or it may have already happened, and you don't really know. You do know that you said you'd nurse him till he was two and even though there were days when you wanted to give up you just kept striving for that. At this point you're planning on stopping that medication shortly after his second birthday, which will likely dry you right up. You're planning to have a friend and photographer take photos at a "weaning session," where you're still nursing and you're dressed up all pretty, and you're going to take it slow and not cut him off cold turkey. You have it all planned out. It should be just fine...

*Your deadline is fast approaching. He'll be 2 on the 4th. He'll have been nursing from you for two years on the 13th. And a few days later you're going to half your medication. And you've been actually looking forward to this for a long time. An achievement. A graduation of sorts. A big exit-from-babyhood event. And. It. Hurts. Like. Hell.

You don't really want to wean. You don't want to stop having those precious moments with him, those glazed over eyes staring up at you with complete love. He can be such a picky eater but he's doing just fine eating breast milk twice a day. And he's always been so healthy and cold/flu season is upon us, and I'm weaning now? And he loves it, oh does he love it. He's so cuddly and sweet and he just adores his closeness with mama.

And so many hate it. So, so many despise it. So many see something so innocent, so natural, so sweet as something dark and twisted and perverted. He's walking and talking and counting and singing and so obviously asking for the breast is completely inappropriate. So little support, so many judgmental glances....

Why? Why? I'm giving him nutrition, the best food I can provide. I'm sharing special, wonderful moments with him, moments that do not in any way affect my life adversely. I don't lose any time, don't lose any sleep. I don't have to eat a special diet, or restrict anything, not anymore. No one has to even see other than him and myself. And while people love to tell you how awful extended nursing is for children, I've seen so many studies (in fact, every study pertaining to extended breast feeding) that show the exact opposite. On top of that I've had numerous women lean in and quietly tell me the weaning age of their own children. 2, 3, 4, sometimes longer. All of them healthy and well adjusted and normal. So why? Why the condemnation?

And even more so... why do I listen to it?

*You're enjoying nursing. Your weaning deadline is fast approaching. Your support is running low and you're worried about harming your prospects for a child by birth down the road if you don't stop taking your medication. But he's enjoying it and you're enjoying it and in so many ways it's all good. You feel a decision needs to be made soon and you're not entirely sure which way you'll go, or which way he'll go. You know there are whole days when he forgets to nurse and you have to urge him to because of the discomfort. You know there are whole days where he wants to nurse constantly and it hurts when there's no milk. You know weaning is coming anyway, naturally. Perhaps, maybe, you should just add a little more time and see what happens....

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Sweet Boys...

We're starting to fall into a nice little groove with P going to school. Ambrose has only been to his class twice, three times if you count the hour and a half "intro" day, but he's loving it. Paxton has been all of 6 times and so far so good for the most part. They have a color coded behavior system, with Purple being the absolute best, green being your normal standard day that everyone starts on, yellow being one warning, orange being two+ warnings and you have the homework of coming up with what you could do different and drawing a picture, and red is parental contact due to really bad behavior. In the past six days it's been purple-green-purple-yellow-yellow-purple. Not too shabby! Especially considering that P had his first substitute on Thursday (yes, five days into the school year for Kindergartners just trying to grasp this school thing the teacher has a workshop, which I'm sure couldn't be helped but really? Timing yo!). For Paxton change is haaaard, and a break in routine used to cause massive tantrums and major problems. Now? He got a yellow day. A warning because, as he put it, he "kind of freaked out in the morning" for his sub. But he got over it and held it together for the rest of the day, even though he told me it was hard. Seriously, I could cry I was so proud of this kid!

So anyway, it's going well over here. Splendid, actually. Paxton is loving school. Ambrose is loving his mommy time and partaking in activities directly targeted at his age group. And I'm getting a bit more done around the house. Sure, nap time is often a rush, especially on Ambrose's preschool days when we get home at 1:30 and have to leave the house at 2:30 to pick up P. But it's all good :)

So that leads me to this post, which is essentially just me wanting to record some of our happy moments lately. Such as...

P giving me attitude for a little after school, coming up with a plan for how he's going to lock himself in the building with a friend and play for the rest of his life there and anyone who stops him will be put in jail. But it's okay, because he'll give them toys to play with too. And no, he can't just send them home and ask them not to bother him. That makes no sense. And no, playing with his toys at home also makes no sense! School has better toys!


The same boy, five minutes later, getting really quiet then admitting that when he's at school he misses me and Nik a little... but he really, really misses his baby brother and wishes he could be playing with him. Cue me swooning over my sweet boy!


Ambrose adding "tooooo!" to everything. I'll ask my boys "would you guys like snack?" and Ambrose will scream "snack tooooo!!!" He'll see P on his bed and run in screaming "bed toooo!" We hear a lot of "read too" or "up too" or "car too" or "shoe too" or "bath too" or, well, you get the picture. Basically if he wants something (especially something P has) he'll demand to have it toooooo. :)


Watching P navigate a phone call, including asking my mother's receptionist to transfer him to her. I never realized that while P recognizes my mother's name, he doesn't know how to say Roberta! Hehe! "Ro-ber-TA"


Ambrose singing songs. He sings the ABCs over and over, and Twinkle Twinkle. Sometimes he repeats bits of the songs he's heard in his classroom. He also looooves counting and does it over and over. Now he's pretty much settled on counting to 10, but won't say 9 at all.


Our chickens have grown so much, and they've started laying. We have the nice, yummy, super nutritious fresh eggs. Also? Great pets. Seriously, so easy to keep, and we just let them run around the yard for a bit most days and they just climb on up to bed once it gets dark. They sit to let the kids pet them or pick them up, and eat out of our hands. They come when we call, and they're soft as silk. Such sweet girls! Now if only they'd stop pooping all over my deck....


Finally getting a date today :) We dropped the boys off at the drop in daycare and took in a movie, The Help, before picking up the kids and heading off for Ethiopian food. It was wonderful :) We really need to do it more!


And now? Perhaps and early bedtime! That would be wonderful too.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Survivor's Guilt

I've always been a pretty lucky person. A Caucasian raised by married parents in a middle class household with a nice education and supportive family, with no major health problems, and living in a first world nation. I always had nice grades and good friends, and when I grew up I met and married a wonderful man who is supportive both emotionally and financially. My only "big" problem in life has been infertility, a pain in the butt to be sure but even so, how many people who have suffered with infertility would give their right arm to have two healthy little boys through adoption before they turned 30? I mean, seriously, we're lucky.

And while I suppose I should just be riding high all the time on this, relaxing in our safe, warm home with my happy, loving family... well, I guess I'm a bit too compassionate for that.

When we adopted Paxton, things were rough. He was traumatized and all the preparation in the world couldn't really prepare us for becoming first time parents to a child who hated us and couldn't communicate with us. It was a very difficult time.

And what made it more difficult was this: Survivor's Guilt.

I hadn't really cared about first families at all before we got P's referral. All of that, the child, his history, everything, just seemed so far away. Sure I felt bad for the plight of the Ethiopian people, and I did often wonder what his family history would be like but there was no real emotional response.

And then we got the call. And I learned that his first parents were no longer among us, that I'd never meet them, that I'd never get their blessing...

And I started to cry. Even more than knowing we had a son out there, even more than knowing what he'd been through and was going through, suddenly I realized that I would never be able to meet the mother of my child, never be able to keep in contact, never hug her, never see what she looks like, never explain our family to her, never promise her I'd love her child as my own.

I didn't realize until years later that what I had was called "entitlement issues." I truly didn't feel that I deserved Paxton, and I was often angry at myself for not being absolutely perfect. His first parents hadn't chosen international adoption, they'd chosen to place him with family who later on realized they really couldn't provide him with what they needed. I can only imagine what his first mother would think if she'd learned that her beloved children were split up and her youngest sent to another nation to be raised with people she'd never met before. It's a hard thing to think about, a hard fact about international adoption, and to say I felt (and sometimes still feel) guilty over this is an understatement.

It took me awhile to come to terms with my own emotions in regards to P's first family, and I have to admit that Ambrose's adoption healed me as well. We met his first mother and I'm able to send her letters and pictures which is wonderful! Perhaps someday we'll even meet again, maybe making a habit of it. I just feel so much better knowing that she chose adoption for him, knowing why, knowing that we're able to stay in contact.

But there's always guilt...

Why do I get to be the one to be their mother? They are such wonderful kids, so funny and smart and loving. And it's not like there's anything special about me, anything that makes me better than the families they came from. I'm just lucky. I have a great husband, money in the bank, family support, a house, insurance, etc. I'm able to adopt because of all of these things. And they weren't able to keep their children with them not because they are bad people, but because they weren't lucky. No money or poor health or lack of support... they can't control that.

They're no worse than me, I'm no better than them. So why do I get all the rewards? Yeah, hard to swallow sometimes....

So I guess that brings me to where I am now. Right now I am either friends with or at least follow a couple dozen different families. Some families I'm rejoicing for, as they add a new child by birth or adoption, and others I'm rooting for as they strive to enjoy their life together. Other families, though, are going through such incredible pain...

Two are struggling to build their families and have been for a long time, with lots of fits and starts, and oh man am I crossing my fingers for them!

Another just found out a few weeks ago that she and her husband are getting to keep their foster children, a son and daughter, after years of seeing children come and go and hoping to one day be forever parents. The joy was shortlived. Her husband died right after finding out the good news and the woman is left behind to try to pick up the pieces, emotionally and financially, for herself and her children.

And of course there's the family who lost their son in a contested adoption when he was over a year old. The kicker with this one is that they very easily could have ended up with Ambrose and we could have ended up with their son in the same scenario. I am glad, of course, that we have our sweet Brosey and that P did not lose yet another important person in his life, and yet I'll admit that in some ways I do wish it was us, that they didn't have to suffer and lose a child. It's not fair, to them, their family, or this sweet baby boy.

I find myself questioning our luck, my luck, frequently. How easily could it have been us in one of those scenarios? Why wasn't it us in one of those scenarios? Why are we so lucky? Will we have a situation in the future, such as a loss or illness, that makes us one of the 'horror stories'? Am I awful for being more emotionally torn over sad situation closer to my own situation and not those happening in situation far outside my own, such as the horrors at Darfur?

I don't know, I think I'm a bit too philosophical sometimes... and I think I can get swept away in emotion.

And right now I'm feeling sad, deeply sad, for the families I know facing loss. I wish I could do... something. Anything. To change it, to make the loss have not happened. And yet I know I can't and it makes me feel so hopeless.


I supposed right now all I can really do is hope and pray and offer support and hope that someday, somehow, maybe things will work out just as they should.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

"Only Child" Time

A few years back before we had Ambrose P was, obviously, an only child. Granted he was born a 3rd child then joined a family where he was one of many, then went to an orphanage where he was one of 39 in a small trailer sized home, but you get the point. I spent A LOT of one on one time with him, especially since we had no other children and preschool hadn't even crossed our mind. In fact, I was so adamant that I wanted to homeschool that I got angry when someone even mentioned such a thing as preschool and suggested it had benefits. And public school? Right out. Seriously, right out. My kid was staying with me.

We spent whole days at the kid's museum with a packed lunch, had our every waking moment planned around his sleeping/eating/pottying schedule, and made him the absolute center of our universe.

I would be lying if I said I never got frustrated. In fact, I was frequently bored and sometimes even angry. Yes, I had wanted this life and yes I'd do everything in my power to make it work, but come on! Up and out the door by 7am most days? Spending up to 7 hours straight at the kids museum up to 5 days a week? Spending hour after hour after incredibly tedious hour playing the same games over and over again?

Yes, I loved him and yes I wanted to be there for all the really important things and even the really mundane things, and more often than not I truly loved our time together. But sometimes it just stunk.

Having to amuse one child on his own without a sibling, and constantly being asked if he was my "only", really made me feel ill. I have two older siblings that I wasn't raised with and whom I loved though I rarely saw them. I was raised as an only child really and when I think back to my childhood two things always spring to mind: total silence as I played quietly by myself in my room every day, and all of the one on one interaction with my mother, which I loved but my goodness would I have loved it with a sibling closer in age to me!

We were so happy to finally make P a brother through Ambrose's adoption, happy that he'd have that close sibling relationship and that we'd now have two little boys to occupy ourselves with.

Admittedly, though, that last day alone with just Paxton... and our last Friday night "date" just the two of us while Nik was out... yeah, that was hard, incredibly and tear jerkingly hard. I was so excited about our new addition and yet... P wasn't an only child anymore. And suddenly all that time, all that precious, precious one-on-one time... it was gone.

Ambrose came home and P was aaaawesome. Oh, he was angry at me, and tantruming, and waking up early, but he loved Ambrose with every fiber of his being, and still does. Shortly after P started preschool upon a counselor's recommendation, meaning that in just 3 month's time I went from seeing Paxton all day every day, to only having afternoons with him after nap, and even then I always had to attend to Ambrose first. Paxton didn't seem to mind all too much, he got a lot more alone time with Nik which he hadn't really had before then, and it actually seemed to do him good.

With P in preschool suddenly Ambrose was my "only child" for much of the day. It was... odd. My one-on-one child had been a 4 year old, but now I was one-on-one with an infant. It was a lot of getting used too!

At the beginning of Summer I have to admit I was a little sad, again. I was losing my one-on-one time with Ambrose, having to find activities that would fit both brother's needs. This meant not attending about a zilliion baby/toddler activities because P would be too big, and instead bringing A to things that were "too old" for him and helping him safely amuse himself, as well as finding middle grounds.

Yesterday was my first alone time with P in a long time, and it was grand, seriously. I think I'll have to ask Nik to let me "borrow" my son a couple times a month so we can do that again!

And today... was my first real, full day alone with Ambrose.

I took him to Triangle Town Center.

I used to be there every day with P when he was newly home, meaning just about Ambrose's age, size and development.

Ambrose did just about everything P would do: try to open the locked stores, run to see the fountain, ask for cookies from the shop, etc. And the playground... P and I were there just about every morning, for a couple of hours, just the two of us alone on a padded playground. Today it was me and Ambrose, us sliding down the same slides together and hiding in the same tunnels together.

I have my only child time again, and it's beginning to feel just like it did the first time. We're able to do the same things and he's at the same level.

Only this time... we can communicate. And he's attached. And we have other mom friends we can meet. And I know how to amuse him. And he's physically healthy. And I'm not worried about potty training or not eating enough or getting his clothes dirty. And I actually know what I'm doing and what to expect from a toddler.

And I don't have him two mornings a week.

And I don't have him when I drop him off at the gym.

And I don't have him when I drop him off at church.

And he doesn't sleep on my chest for nap like P did as a toddler.

And I'm not planning to homeschool him.

And I now know what it's like to make a child an older sibling.

This time... I know, truly know, how incredibly precious and utterly limited our "only child" time is.

Those moments spent sitting on the floor staring into his big brown eyes, singing with him the same song over and over, playing with child's toys... it's so valuable, so priceless.

Those moments he loses control and yells or hits or throws himself down... it's only temporary, it's just frustration, it's not hatred, it's not personal.

Those moments he asks for a small candy or to go hug a stuffed animal, using the best enunciation he can muster... treasure it, reward it, love it.

Some day, sooner than I think, it will all be over. Someday I'll be sitting here staring at the clock as the minutes slowly click down, signaling the end of his first day of Kindergarten.

Just like I'm doing with my first "only child" right this second....

(11 minutes until I need to put Ambrose in the stroller and head off to pick up my sweet little boy, who has been gone too long...)