Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Adoption Story, Part Three

We were in pretty regular contact with Samantha during the last couple of weeks leading up to the delivery. Every time we called, she gave a report on how she was feeling and what the doctor had said about when he thought they could schedule the c-section. Everything was all set up for November 12th, a Monday, but she was to see the doctor on the previous Friday for some tests to see if she was ready. She wasn't technically due until about a week later.

We talked to Samantha on Sunday as we were driving to the hotel in the town where she would give birth and told her we'd meet her in L&D around 8:30 the next morning. She was scheduled for surgery at 10:00 a.m.

We stayed at one of the worst hotels on the planet that night. It was pretty bad. The rooms were adequately clean, but the walls seemed to be paper thin, and this hotel allowed pets. So we spent most of the night hearing doors slam in the hall and listening to the incessant barking of some annoying little dog down the hall. We had enough on our minds to keep us from falling asleep right away, and these added noises didn't help. Needless to say, we didn't get a lot of sleep.

In the short amount of time I actually did sleep, though, I remember dreaming about the events of the next day. I don't remember much about the dreams, but I do remember one vividly...I remember dreaming that the nurses bringing a baby out to us who had ivory skin, dark eyes and a head full of jet black hair.

We checked out in the morning and headed over to the hospital, stopping for a breakfast sandwich on the way. I was ravenous and sat wondering if I should be eating knowing that I would witness a surgery (from behind a curtain, but still).

We met Samantha in the room where she was basically just waiting for her turn in surgery. She looked great...she had even taken the time that morning to do her make-up, which is something I hadn't bothered to do. She made us feel quite at ease, making small talk and digging out ultrasound photos for us to keep. We took a few pictures together for the baby book. The nurses came in and gave me some scrubs. There was only one person allowed in the delivery room, so my husband would wait it out in the room.

At around 9:45 a.m., the nurse came in to get Samantha for surgery. She came back for me about five minutes later, after they had positioned the curtain and prepped Samantha for surgery. They sat me on a stool by her head. I sat in front of a team of people, whom I guess were probably anesthesiologists or something. They just stood back and didn't say anything.

Everything went pretty quickly from there. From my perspective, I don't remember hearing any surgery sounds or smelling any surgery smells. I just remember watching Samantha as she bravely went through this painful surgery. Yeah, she was anesthetized, but she could feel them pulling and was having trouble breathing from time to time because she felt like they were pushing all of her organs around. Silent tears ran down her face as I stroked her hair and kept asking if she was OK or if she needed anything from this team of silent people behind us.

After a few long minutes, a little cry sounded out in the room (9:59 a.m.). Just one teensy little cry. I knew the baby was out, and then all of a sudden she was placed off to my left in a little isolette with a bunch of nurses toweling her down and rubbing her. I know this sounds a little weird, but it reminded me of what my Dad would do to newborn calves from time to time...he would hold their mouths open and rub them hard on their sides until they started breathing and moving around.

I sat there watching all of this, which Samantha couldn't see from her vantage point, and she asked "Is she OK? Why isn't she crying?". Which was answered with another little yelp from the isolette. The nurses were holding a little tube of oxygen near the baby's mouth, and one of the nurses explained that the baby was just having a little trouble breathing. She said it was common in c-section babies to be a little slow getting all of the fluid out of their lungs (thus all the rubbing). She also invited me to get up and take some pictures of the baby in the isolette. This was her getting oxygen from the tube.

And pretty soon, she was breathing well enough to start crying in spurts. I think she was not too pleased to be naked in this very cold operating room.

She was weighed and measured, and then the nurses took her off to the special care nursery, where she would receive oxygen for awhile until she was breathing better. Before they took her off, they held her out for me and Samantha to give her a kiss.

They sent me out of the room to find my husband and wheeled Samantha out to a recovery room. I burst through those doors with such a feeling of exhilaration...I can't even describe it. I found my husband and just kept saying, "She's so beautiful, she's so perfect." After I finally calmed down, we found a nurse who told us we could see the baby in about an hour, and she gave us a room where we could wait. Soon, we were taken to the special care nursery, where my husband first laid eyes on our tiny Olivia. He fell in love immediately.

More about our hospital experience in the next installment. For now, I'll leave you with a photo of the baby I saw in my dream the night before. I couldn't believe how accurate that dream was...

Friday, April 25, 2008

Adoption Story, Part Two

September 6, 2007. We arrived at our counselor friend's office and nervously waited to meet this young woman, Samantha.

I was SO NERVOUS. We were brought into the office where Samantha was waiting, and she was very friendly and smiled at us as we came in. My husband sat calmly while I asked her questions and answered any questions she asked. We had brought some family photos and photos of our house to share. It felt to me like the most important job interview of my life.

I remember two things clearly. The first was that Samantha was extremely calm and didn't seem to have a lot of questions for us. The second was that I remember that her main concern for us was that we were aware that the baby's birthfather was African American, and that meant the baby would probably have coarse, black hair. Samantha was just so concerned that we take the time to research how to do the baby's hair. I thought that was a weird thing to pick as your main concern.

Well whatever happened in that first meeting must have convinced her that we were the right couple for her baby, because from that point on, she was insistent that she wanted to place her baby WITH US. This became even more important when she moved to another state.

At this first meeting, Samantha told us directly that she wanted to place her baby with us. "You guys seem like a really nice couple...and I'm sure you'll be good parents for my baby." The whole tone of the conversation made it pretty clear that she had made her decision.

Samantha had just seen the doctor for an ultrasound a few weeks earlier, and he had told her that she was carrying a girl and that he expected her to deliver in mid-November. The delivery, she told us, would have to be a c-section. She already has three little girls*, all born by c-section, and the doctor felt it would be safest. So Samantha expected the surgery to be scheduled and invited us to plan to be in the delivery room with her. She said, "She's going to be your baby, so it's right that you should be there for the delivery." As a mom herself, she felt that those first moments and days were important for bonding, and she wanted us to experience that. I was ecstatic. How could we have been so lucky to be introduced to such an amazingly generous birthmom? I was totally amazed.

The next couple of months were a blur. We didn't yet have a homestudy, since we had only learned of this birthmom a few weeks earlier. We researched agencies and picked one to do our homestudy. We nervously waited for all the documents and paperwork to come in. We stressed out when we heard that Samantha was in the hospital with preterm labor, and was sent home with some drugs to stop the contractions. Our homestudy wasn't complete and we were panicked that the baby would come before we had everything ready.

And then came the big news. A few weeks prior to the due date, Samantha abruptly made the decision to move to another state. There is a complicated story behind why this happened, but the important point to know is that she felt she didn't have much choice. So here she was, a few hours away in another state, and it occurred to her that she needed to call and make sure that we were still on board with this situation if she remained in the other state. She didn't know what complications it would cause, but she thought it might cause us to think twice about this match if we had to travel. But she was still insistent that, if possible, she wanted to place the baby WITH US. She must have really liked us.

We were still on board, of course, but we needed to consult with our lawyer to find out what this new situation would mean. He needed to find her a lawyer in her new city, and he consulted with that lawyer about their state's adoption laws. After a lot of expensive phone calls, we got the information we needed about what we could expect when the baby came. It was all pretty complicated, but that will be explained in the next installment.

*There are various reasons why Samantha decided to place this baby for adoption, but one of the biggest was that she felt she was already limping along taking care of her three little girls as a single mom. I could tell she cared a great deal about this little one she was carrying, but she knew that she could give her a better life, and she was already stretched pretty thin taking care of the kids she had.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Adoption Story, Part One

I've always been attracted to the idea of adoption. In fact, we tossed around the idea early in our marriage as something we'd like to do "after we have a couple of kids". It was always something of an ideal, floating out there in "maybeland", waiting for someday.

Then we didn't get pregnant right away. When we started looking into why, we also started tossing the adoption idea around again, but it was still purely theoretical.

October, 2006. Joe's aunt died, and besides leaving him a sizeable collection of whiskey barrel rec room furniture (no, I'm not kidding), he also inherited some money. By this time, we were pretty sure we had some significant fertility problem, so we decided to save that money in case we decided to pursue adoption in the future. I throw this in to explain why we were ABLE to make the decision to pursue adoption, meet a birthmom, prepare baby's room, travel to Neighboring State, spend 10 days there and pay our attorneys for all the extra work involved in interstate adoption...all within a 3 month period of time. We were blessed enough to be financially ready for the blow. God bless Aunt B.

Also in October, 2006, I had a laparoscopy and discovered that I did, in fact, have some pretty extensive endometriosis. Tubes were fused to ligaments, uterus pulled backward. Lesions that were causing my insides to look pretty screwed up. My amazing doctor removed all that he could within the limits of laparoscopy, and he said to give it six months before we pursued further types of treatment. Six months to see if laparoscopy alone would remove whatever impediment we had to achieving pregnancy. So we wait...

Being the impatient person I am, after about three months with no success, I started doing some serious adoption research. Now, I had not decided that pregnancy was out of the question. Quiet to the contrary...I was pretty positive that somewhere down the line, we'd find the cure to the infertility problem. But something inside me was changing...I guess you could say that I was feeling a calling or a tugging at my heart, moving me toward adoption.

After awhile, I let my husband in on these feelings, and I told him I wanted to attend a seminar that one of the agencies in our state was holding in a couple of weeks. I was really interested in gathering all the information we could.

March, 2007. We attended the agency seminar, which was mostly about domestic adoption. Later in the month, we attended another seminar for an international adoption agency. We discussed. I was leaning toward domestic adoption, at least for our first child. I was drawn to the idea of having a newborn, who would know me as her mother from her first days. My husband was a little more interested in international, but we were still rather undecided about even pursuing any of this yet.

April, 2007. I had an appointment with my doctor, who had me do a hormonal work-up just prior to the appointment. He decided that I wasn't ovulating properly. My hormones needed a boost. There are several ways to do this, but he picked the one he thought would be easiest for me and most likely to help, and off we went.

Well, after several months and some more tests, we decided that this treatment wasn't doing any good, so the doctor recommended the next option, more effective but a bit more difficult. This one involved hormone supplements in the form of an injection, which my husband was expected to administer. We were mulling over whether or not to start trying this treatment when...

August, 2007. My husband and I took a vacation and spent some time discussing the whole "adoption vs. fertility" thing. I asked him if he'd be OK with us pursuing both at the same time. He said "Well, yeah...I mean, don't you think it's time to start our family? We should throw our hat in the ring and let the chips fall where they may" Or something like that. At least that was the gist of what he was saying.

We had decided on the domestic avenue, and I was supposed to call the previously mentioned agency and set up a time to start our homestudy. I put it off for a few days because we had just returned from vacation and work was a little crazy. Then, the Thursday following vacation, I received a phone call...

A former coworker of mine who was currently doing some contract counseling work had met a young woman who was more than 6 months pregnant and wanted to place her baby for adoption. The baby would be biracial, which would make her more difficult to place, and as this counselor was thinking through her options for seeking out adoptive parents for this baby, she thought of us.

See, back in our research phase the previous Spring, I had approached this counselor to ask about local options for adoption. She knew we were interested in adoption, so she thought she'd go out on a limb and ask if we'd be interested in adopting this particular child...

Well, we decided that we were. It didn't take long to make this decision. We kind of felt like this was being placed in our laps. I mean, the very week we become open to moving forward with adoption, we get a call about a birthmother. That can't be coincidence, people.

We set up a time to meet with this counselor and the young woman who wanted to place her baby. The birthmom had to approve of us, of course, before anything else could move forward. Two weeks later, early September, we waited nervously to meet the woman who had the ability to start our family.

Stay tuned...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Just to make a liar of me...

In my previous post, I mentioned my nap-deprived daughter. Well, she WAS fussing when I signed off, but by the time I reached her, she had fallen back asleep. She continued to sleep another three hours. Of course, her second nap was 30 minutes long, but that is certainly forgivable after the massive block of time I had this morning to get things done.

Unfortunately, blogging was not first on the list of things to accomplish. I had several tasks to finish before this speaker event I'm helping with tomorrow, and thanks to Olivia's amazing nap, I finished them all. Which means that the adoption story is just around the corner...when I get another amazingly long nap block, that is.

At the moment, I'm typing with one hand while feeding the baby, who is using her long legs to kick my hand off the keyboard. That's her saying, "Bye for now." Ta.

Two teeth and very grumpy...

I promise to get to the adoption story soon. It's just been a very busy week.

However, a quick update:

Two days after tooth #1 popped through, tooth #2 made its appearance. Now Olivia has both bottom middle teeth coming in, and they are SHARP! Also, the amazing naps she was taking all last week have disappeared. She's back to her fitful shorter naps. And I could really use that extra time at the moment. This is a busy week with outside commitments (outside of the house, that is), and Olivia is not cooperating.

In other news, her birthmom is back. Back in the area, that is. If you remember, birthmom lived in a neighboring town when we met her but then moved to a different state right before Olivia was born, thus adding extra legal expense and travel and interstate compact laws to our list of things to deal with. Well, that situation didn't last, and now she's back in the area. She left a message with the referring agency and wanted to let us know that she'd moved (because we do letters and phone calls and need to know how to reach her). But now...she wants to see the baby. Hmmm. Not that I'm against this, but it does cause me a little bit of anxiety. We just sent photos to her new address and will call her once she's received them...then we'll see what she has in mind.

I'll keep y'all posted. Gotta get back to my whiny baby.

Thursday, April 17, 2008


Today, as Olivia was chewing on my finger, I felt a little poke.

I got out my flashlight and worked for 10 minutes trying to pry open her mouth and hold back her tongue long enough to find the source of the poking. After much fighting, I found it...

Her first tooth! Bottom front tooth on the right side, to be exact.

Granted, it's still just the tip of the tooth and I imagine that she'd have to be sedated to willingly allow another peek, but I can certainly feel it. And I'm sure she does too. She's been drooling and sleeping LOTS today.

Ah, our little girl is growing up!

Since I couldn't get a picture of the tooth (I could barely get a glimpse), here are two photos I took after our walk today to show how fast our girl is growing up. She was standing alone next to her stroller (with wheels locked) and playing with the straps.

Please, Mom, you don't have to hold onto me. I'm fine!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Not so good at sitting...

I grew up on a dairy farm. Yes, for most of my life, my Dad milked cows twice a day, every day, 365 days a year. And when he wasn't milking cows, he was feeding cows, or bedding cows, or breeding cows, or plowing fields to grow food for cows. You get the picture. We lived on a small family farm, and there was always SOMETHING that needed to be done.

From an early age, I acquired this skill (or need) that Dad exhibits...the ability to always find something that needs to be done. My Mom has it too. She helped keep up a garden, keep up a house, and keep five kids clean and fed. So it's not that there was ever a shortage of things to do.

Even when I was young, I always felt the need to be accomplishing something. Even when watching TV, I usually had some sort of craft or needlepoint close at hand to keep my fingers busy.

So, as an adult, I have retained this trait. I dust when watching TV. I rearrange closets on a rainy Saturday afternoon. I can find any number of outdoor chores to do on a sunny day.

This was, of course, before Olivia. Now I do a lot of sitting. Sitting and holding tiny hands and waving colorful toys and doing all manner of baby distraction techniques until she's worn out and ready for a nap. And then I attempt to fit a whole day of "doing" into naptime.

This is an exercise in frustration. As soon as I get deep into a project, that familiar cry rings through the house to tell me that naptime is definitely OVER.

I'm learning to cope with moving at a slower pace, but I will certainly be happy when (if) Olivia ever learns to sit and play happily on her own. She probably has to learn to sit first, but I'm more concerned about the playing happily on her own. Because right now she refuses to let me leave the room, even if she's occupied in one of her many play/stand contraptions. The moment I leave, whatever she was playing with suddenly becomes uninteresting and even repulsive to her and all she wants is to be rescued from the evil toy/playing contraption and be picked up.

*Sigh* THIS is why working from home was never an option for me. At least not until she gets much older.

New topic. I've noticed that when I get up in the middle of the night for Olivia's bottle (yes, she is still getting up, but only once), I usually spend this quiet time thinking about the journey that brought her to us. After all, I have nothing to do but sit quietly in the dark as she gulps down her formula, and this is good thinking time. Good praying time too, but not so good for meditative prayer, which runs the risk of putting me back to sleep in my already half-asleep state. So I usually just let my mind wander and speak to God about the things in my life in a conversational, half-asleep sort of way.

Anyway, as I've been running through these things in my mind and thinking about how I really should get started on her lifebook, which I haven't even come close to starting (see slowing down comments above). And I've been thinking...maybe I should do a series of posts on this blog about how we came to consider adoption and how we ended up adopting this particular little baby. That might jump-start my lifebook efforts, and it will be a way to get all of these thoughts down in writing.

I think all of this is flooding back to me because of the timing. It was a little more than a year ago that we started seriously talking about adoption. For those of you who remember, it was several more months before we got serious about it, and then mere weeks before we met our birthmom (yeah, unusual...stay tuned). It's amazing to think of how our lives have changed since then.

So, I'm going to begin working on our adoption story. My progress will, of course, depend on the nap schedule, but I'll do my best to get it going in a timely fashion.

But for now, I must rescue my baby from her crib, as she is insisting that, once again, naptime is over.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Blogging with baby in my lap...

This post is brought to you by the squirming baby in the chair.

This post was inpired by Maggie. Have you read her? She's awesome.

As I type this, my not-yet-mobile-but-on-the-move baby is squirming in my lap, insisting we play. This makes it very difficult to hit keys in any sensible order.

Whew, now she's on the floor playing. This can't last long. She is a very hands-on kind of baby (who just now threw her toy at me and laughed).

Anyway, as I was sitting here reading blogs (which is way easier than actually typing when a baby is squirming in your lap), I began to laugh out loud at Maggie's recent post. And Olivia stopped her squirming, tipped her head back and stared at me. Apparently, Mommy laughing is a novel curiosity.

Now she's on my lap again. I told you that floor thing wouldn't last. And she's pinching my neck Ow.

OK, I had an actual point, but now I've forgotten it in the midst of the squirming and pinching. *Sigh* Parenthood. I'll just leave you with this...

Five Months Old!

Friday, April 11, 2008


I love the Spring, with the warming temps and the sunshine and breezes. Olivia loves it too. She has really enjoyed our walks outside, and she likes to watch the wildlife and hear the birds and cars and other various outside noises.

Unfortunately, with all of this lovely warmth comes the occasional storm. Now, I've always been a fan of storms. I enjoy watching the lightning or lying in bed listening to the thunder rolling around. As long as they aren't threatening anything major, like a tornado, I'm fine with storms.

Enter baby, and now I'm ultra-sensitive to the sound of thunder. I'm always convinced that it will immediately wake up Olivia, and then we'll have a restless, sleepless night fighting the battle of sleeping baby vs. rolling thunder.

Amazingly, Olivia has proven to be oblivious to any amount of thunder. It still startles me, though, because I'm afraid it will wake her. I can't shake this.

Anyway, last night we were awakened by the phone at around 10:45. A friend of ours who lives an hour away heard an alert for our county that included a tornado warning, and he called to give us a heads-up.

He was amazingly accurate. As soon as I hung up the phone, the wind picked up and the rain started pounding. My husband, dazed and confused as he was waking from a deep sleep, wanted to know what was going on. I told him I was going to get Olivia and bring her to our room. He looked at me like I had two heads because what on earth would possess me to get a sleeping baby out of her crib at this hour? After all, I would be risking that she'd wake up, want to be fed and then not go back to sleep. This is not something that two tired parents are often willing to risk at that hour. Sleep, after all, is the elusive prize that parents of a baby are always seeking.

Of course, once he was awake enough to understand the situation, he agreed. I managed to scoop Olivia out of her crib and bring her to our room without waking her. She slept peacefully in my arms for 15 minutes while we watched the weather reports and waited for the storm to move out of our area. And then I managed to get her back in her crib without so much as a peep. It continued to storm and thunder for several hours, but it didn't bother her one bit.

I am truly amazed.

We are thankful that nothing materialized out of the tornado warnings last night. And that our baby slept through it.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Could this be it? Teething!

Olivia has been gnawing on her hands and everyone else's for more than a month now, with nothing to show for it. But I think that we are on the verge of a tooth, or several, in the very near future.

Admittedly, I know nothing about this at all. However, her gums are starting to take shape, like there's something very tooth-like just under the surface that's ready to burst forward.

But more importantly, she is slightly warm, more drooly, and WAY more complain-y. She naps horribly and wakes up more often at night. Please tell me there's a good reason for all of this!

Last night, I had the ephiphany that perhaps she's in pain and needs to take something. (Duh) Her slightly-elevated temperature was enough to convince me that some baby tylenol was in order, and she seemed to sleep better.

So far this morning, she took one very short nap and then proceeded to cry about EVERYTHING for the past hour. She's napping now, and if I know what's good for me, I'll make my lunch now so I have the chance to actually eat lunch in case she refuses to take a substantial nap at all today. *Sigh*

No teeth yet, but I expect one to pop through any time.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Traveling baby

This Sunday, Olivia and I ventured out in the car, by ourselves, for the five-hour drive to spend some quality time with her little cousins. I had been promising a visit since we missed my twin nephews' first birthday a few weeks ago, and since my husband had meetings that would require him to be very busy for a few days, it seemed like the time to go.

Aside from the "I'm tired of being in the carseat!" and "Feed Me NOW!" whines from the backseat, the trips there and back were fairly uneventful. Olivia slept a lot, played with her book, and looked at the passing scenery without much fuss. ("Much", of course, is a relative term. Her Daddy would have thought it was a lot, but I'm learned to tune out a certain amount of fuss in the name of survival.)

The actual visit was both delightful and UNBELIEVABLY EXHAUSTING. In fact, we had to cut it short (we were planning to stay two nights, Ha!). Olivia did not sleep or nap well. Which meant that Mommy barely slept at all. Which doesn't bode well for the five-hour drive home.

See, our little Olivia is just not used to that much activity. She's used to spending her days with Mommy, primarily in a relatively quiet house where she's the loudest person she knows.

Her cousins, on the other hand, are individually and as a group MUCH louder than she is. These four cousins (ages 4, 3, and the twins are a year old), as I like to say, got their "inside voices" from their father (my brother) who absolutely never learned how to whisper. And then there's the age factor...little kids are not, by nature, quiet individuals. Together, they create quite a chaotic scene.

Now this has never really bothered me because I grew up in similar chaos, as the oldest of five children born within six years. Yeah, I can get a little fried after being dragged for hours around the house by a 4-year-old who wants me to spend hours eating her pretend cupcakes made in her pretend kitchen, but I adapt quickly.

Olivia, on the other hand, was overwhelmed by the situation. Amazingly, she was adapting by the time we left (where she could actually nap in the midst of the noise, which is something she does NOT normally tolerate), but it started off a little rough. This is why we came home the next day instead of staying two days, as anticipated. I just don't do well on severely limited sleep. And I wanted to spare everyone the pain of dealing with a REALLY fussy Olivia by the end of Monday. She doesn't do so well on limited sleep either.

She did have fun, despite the overstimulation factor. She was having a great time watching the kids play. She was just taking it all in. She's so observant and so social. I imagine that we'll have a lot more fun with such a visit when she's old enough to join in a bit. It's just hard to play with active cousins when you can't sit, crawl or walk on your own.

They must have REALLY worn her out, because she's going on two and a half hours for her nap right now. Gotta wrap this up before she decides that she's had enough of the sleeping.

These people are wearing me out!