December 29, 2009

Nora's Baptism

Nora's baptism was such a beautiful event. We were able to spend time with C and J an hour before Nora's baptism. We showed up in the room that had been reserved for us a minute late and C and J weren't there. We didn't have definitive confirmation that they'd be there beforehand but we assumed that if they were coming for the baptism they'd certainly come early to see Nora. My heart sank a bit when we didn't see any sign of them.

They had entered a side door of the church and went into the basement. They ran into the deacon of the church and he recognized C as he was her high school teacher (small world). They made some small talk and he told them that he was there for a baptism that day and that it was going to be very special because the baby was adopted and the birthparents were going to be there. C, J and family then commented they were too and they were the birth family. He finally put it all together and we connected.

I was nervous about the meeting and it was a funny feeling of deja vu because the room we were in was the same one I was in before my wedding. That room is full of anxiety for me. We saw C's dad and the rest were following behind. It was so nice to see everyone again. They do feel like family to me and it was nice to reconnect. C and her mom were holding Nora and she was a little fussy so I gave her a bottle. (I've stopped letting other people feed her because they tend to give her gas somehow). We then opened many gifts that they had brought for Nora and caught up. Everyone seemed to be doing great and I know they loved seeing Nora.

Of course, the time flew and it was time to leave the room for mass. I had Nora in the sling because she was tired and fussy and had just fallen asleep. I asked C if she wanted her on during mass and she was excited to "wear" her so C wore her throughout the mass.

Sunday was the celebration of the Holy Family and the sermon was focused exclusively on families. It felt like each word said was so poignant and appropriate for our occasion and the language was so inclusive as family as community rather than necessarily family in the nuclear family sense. I had a moment where I felt so incredibly grateful for our circumstance that I had to try very hard not to start crying. The talk of the love of family and sitting with J and watching C stroke Nora's cheeks and watching her in the sling was very overwhelming in a positive way. I felt so grateful that Nora is surrounded by so much love and I was also so grateful about the love that my family has shown to C and J. Each person in our family made a point during the sign of peace to hug each of them and show them how much they care and how grateful they are. I was especially glad that my sister got to sit next to C so that they could spend some time together.

After the service we had the baptism. It was a very beautiful baptism as Nora was surrounded by those who care about her. Each person made the sign of the cross on her forehead (I think I went a little rogue here). The most touching part of the service, for me, was the blessing of the parents. C came over with me to bless the mothers and I had all of my friends and family laying hands on me when the deacon began reading the rite. I don't remember the exact language but I do remember a portion about the miracle of motherhood and what a gift it is. I really had to try my hardest not to burst into tears hearing these words while holding my daughter with the hands of all of my loved ones upon me including C. I'm so grateful for such a beautiful baptism and for all of the support that was shown during the event.

December 23, 2009

New Adoptive Mom

I'm being a little blog crazy today but I just received very happy news. I've been so excited every time one of my bloggy friends has become an adoptive mom but today I found out a friend in real life is on her way to pick up her son with very little warning. It's just so incredible how timing works out since it is a few days after her birthday and a few days before Christmas. I'm so ecstatic that another waiting mom has now officially become a mom. Hooray! I just wanted to share a little bit of hope to all of those out there waiting about how abruptly your wait might come to an end and with such impeccable timing.

Last Day of Leave and First Visit with C and J

Today is my last day of my leave where it will just be Nora and I. My sister and her husband are in town for the holidays so we've been having lots of family time. (My sister is holding Nora in this photo). Joel is going to be starting paternity leave this afternoon and will be off through the beginning of March. I've enjoyed my time at home but it's also been challenging. The first six weeks were a little bit hard as Nora had a really hard time after she ate and didn't sleep so well at night. Now she's so easy. I'm attuned to her rhythms and needs and can calm her crying usually within 5 minutes. Now I can almost intuitively know what she needs. She's such a good eater now and has an awesome "sailor burp" with almost no effort which has eliminated most of her fussiness. We've established some loose patterns and I finally feel like I have the hang of this now that I'm passing the baton.

She is even becoming a better sleeper. She woke last night at 2 am and then not again until 6:30. Life with Nora is becoming so much easier and she's so much fun. This little girl has A LOT of personality. She's incredibly independent. If you try to hold her when she's in her "active mode" she arches her back and protests loudly. She likes to be on her own kicking around and talking. She'd love for you to chat with her but just don't restrict her movement. We jokingly call her "Free Bird". She loves sitting in her bouncy seat and having a conversation. I'm only able to sneak some snuggle time when she's hungry or tired (ie sleeping). She's also very vocal about her needs. She is very assertive and will scream like she's being tortured if she's not happy but the second you fix the issue she calms down instantly. C's nickname is "The General" so I think I know where her assertive personality comes from.

It's funny how this is the case as I've always said there would be some sort of meant-to-be connection between us and her birth family. I've always wanted a very assertive, independent daughter (even though the teen years are going to be absolute hell). Even while picking baby names I made sure that the girl names were strong names that a 30 year old woman would not be embarrassed to have. So, I think it's so funny that we got our assertive little girl.

Speaking of C and J, we will have our first visit with them on Sunday. We have invited them to Nora's baptism. I think C's mom will also join us. I'm so glad that they'll get to see Nora right after the holidays. It's been hard to know how things are going to unfold in our relationship with C and J as all of our communication is through the agency. They've only asked for updates from us but we've offered visits. We're not sure if this is what they want going forward so it will be nice to see them in person. A lot can get lost over a game of telephone. We've been told they are doing well but it will be nice to be able to chat in person and see how they feel about future visits with Nora. We certainly don't want to push anything on them but we also don't want them to think they're not welcome in our lives.

I'm a little bit nervous for our visit because I know it's going to be emotional. We're meeting them an hour before the baptism. We'll then all go to mass, have the baptism and then say our goodbyes. It will be hard to have this emotional experience and then have to interact with all of our guests who are attending the baptism. I'm worried because I don't want anyone to say anything wacky to C and J. I also feel a little awkward because our guest are coming back to our house afterwards. I don't want C and Js feelings to be hurt but I also don't feel ready to invite them over and I would imagine they probably don't want to hang our with all of our family and friends either. I'm having a lot of anxiety surrounding this whole baptism because there is so much going on within those few hours and it's so hard to know what the "right" thing to do is so I'm just going with my gut.

During the baptism they ask the mother and father to stand with Nora. I've told the deacon that I'd like C and J to join us during this time but I'm not sure if this is what they would like. I guess I won't know until we have a chance to ask them right before the ceremony. I just want for them to feel included, loved and honored and this is what is causing my stress. I've put together a little gift for them. It's a framed picture of Nora and then a HUGE stack of photos over the last three months. I debated doing something more but I'm having a weird hang up about giving C and J material things that are not related to Nora or the adoption because I don't want to devalue or monetize our relationship. If anyone has any great ideas I can pull off (other than the photo in a nice frame) before Sunday please let me know. Also, if anyone has any advice that would be helpful to me, please share.

Wow, this is what happens when I don't blog for a few days!

December 18, 2009

Social Worker Visit and Finalization Date

We have another visit with our social worker today but this time in her office. Hooray! My house is a disaster and I won't have time to clean it until tomorrow. It's just another post-placement visit. It will be fun to bring Nora into the office.

It was so hard to imagine during the process that we'd ever be doing that. When you sit in that conference room for your orientation classes it's nearly impossible to imagine that you'll ever be in that space with a baby but here we are almost exactly two years later from our first orientation.

We're definitely nearing the end of the adoption process. We have one more education class and we just received our finalization date. On April 14 Nora will legally be our daughter. It's fun to have that date in mind. I'm going to borrow from my brother-in-law's family as they call his finalization day his "Love Day". I love this term so much more than "Gotcha Day" (sounds aggressive) so I'm going to officially appropriate it on April 14. I've been thinking a lot about how to celebrate this day each year. I think we're going to make it a family day. I don't want it to become another birthday. I'd like it to be more of a day for family experiences/fun. I was really hoping that it would be on my birthday (6 months to the day after her birth) but it's a few weeks after and that is okay with me. More days to celebrate are never a bad thing.

December 17, 2009

Christmas Update

Thanks so much for all of your great comments and suggestions about making the holidays more manageable. I was able to address and get out our Christmas cards. This was important because they were also doing double duty as birth announcements. I won't be so neurotic about it next year when we're not announcing Nora's arrival.

We made the journey to Bass Pro Shop yesterday. I got a sinking feeling in my stomach when I saw a parade of girls in tights heading out the exit. I'm an optimistic person so I walked in hoping that the line wouldn't be too long. We got to the area where Santa was and it was a VERY long line. They were passing out cards for us to line up in another 30 minutes. Joel was not a fan of the Santa excursion to begin with and so he was less than excited to wait in line but was sweet and deferred to me. I proposed that we wait in the restaurant and grab a drink and an appetizer and then get back in line. We headed to the restaurant and grabbed a table at the bar for quicker service. I was still on the fence about the whole thing. The sea of toddlers (ie germs) made me nervous. So, we sat down and were contemplating what to do. The menu didn't really appeal to me and as we were chatting a five year old started coughing right behind us. (I add this because Joel is convinced this is what made me want to leave). It seemed like such an ordeal to get this photo taken in which she was probably going to be asleep or grumpy anyway so we left. In hindsight, we should have gone later- around 8 pm or so- as the toddlers would (hopefully) all be home in bed. So, our Santa excursion was a bust but we did take some cute photos at home. (Joel accidentally cut off my head while trying to make Nora smile - definitely consistent with the whole ordeal but Nora looks very cute).

December 16, 2009

Tis the Season

I've been so busy this weekend that I haven't had a chance to update the blog so I have some very random updates. First, I realized I never posted a recap of the Dr. Phil show. It was a bit better than I expected. As expected, he highlighted some very unfortunate issues that can arise in adoption but, as he pointed out, if all parties are well informed and go through the proper channels these tend not to happen. He also mentioned on several occasions that he is an advocate for adoption and concluded with some tips for anyone involved in adoption. It was still Dr. Phil but more palatable than I initially thought. (I would have been a wreck had I watched this while waiting, however).

More importantly than Dr. Phil, Nora giggled for the first time on Friday. She's been giggling in her sleep so we know she can do it but haven't heard her do it awake. I spent so much time interacting with her on Friday and trying to make her laugh. No luck. Joel comes home and of course she starts beaming. He then lifts her up in the air and the cutest giggles ensue. He did it a few more times and luckily I was able to capture a video of it. It was so amazing to hear what her laugh will likely sound like. (We've tried to recreate this scenario for the last couple of days with no such luck). It was so precious and I can't wait to hear more laughs. I'm working on my delivery to see if that might help her find me funny.

We've wanted to decorate for Christmas for the last several weekends but for a variety of reasons this has not been possible. I was resolved on Monday that we HAD to decorate that night. I made a nice big dinner and we set-up the tree. Even though Nora won't know the difference I felt like I was getting an F in parenthood for not decorating this year. We finally have hung the stockings and put up the tree and it's really helped to put me more in the holiday spirit (that and a Phil Spector Christmas album). I still need to take her to see Santa but I'm really hesitant to hang out in a germ-filled mall. I got a secret tip about free photos and no lines at Bass Pro Shop (which I HATE) but I might have to suck it up so that I can have a First Christmas photo of Nora. I'm going to put that on the docket for tomorrow.

I'm feeling really overwhelmed this holiday season. I think it's just because everything takes a little bit longer with baby. It's also reminding me that my maternity leave is quickly coming to an end. I feel like there is so much to prep for. My sister is coming into town Sunday (hooray!) and Nora is being baptized on December 27. I have realized I haven't invited anyone to the baptism yet, which is problematic since it's right after Christmas and in a little over a week. (If you are reading this and would like to attend, consider yourself invited).

I still have our Christmas cards sitting on my coffee table and desperately need to get those sent out as well. I'm so nervous for going back to work. I can barely get everything done now so I can't really imagine what it's going to be like when I go back to work. Yikes!!! One day at a time. Deep breaths...
To end on a positive note- Nora really couldn't be cuter right now kicking around in her bouncy chair chatting with me and my darling husband made me a pretty fabulous latte this morning (good thing- there's a lot to do on this Santa's list).

December 11, 2009

Up: A Little Reminder

A couple of nights ago Joel and I watched the movie Up. We had both been wanting to see it for awhile and so we finally rented it. We brought sleeping Nora to the basement/make-shift movie watching space in her bouncy seat and we settled in to watch the movie. I had heard some interviews on NPR about the movie but other than that did not have a clue about it.

Divulging a piece of the plot here:
We got to the scene where infertility was addressed and I instantly burst into tears and began sobbing. (Joel already thinks I'm slightly crazy and over-emotional so he's not as phased by this any longer). The scene was so poignant and caught me completely off guard. (I knew from the interview they couldn't have kids but I thought that part would be glossed over). I was looking over at Nora and just sobbing. I wasn't crying about a bio kid vs. adopted kid which I really need to clarify. I was crying because watching that scene put me exactly back in that place of hopeful expectation and then ultimate disappointment. This cycle is repeated until the day Nora was put in my arms. Even waiting during adoption, while hopeful, is filled with it's own types of disappointments (not being selected, failed matches, long waits etc.). It just reminded me of all that we'd been through. Gratefully, I was able to look over through my tears and see the most precious gift anyone has given me.

In all my excitement of becoming a mom I had put all of the infertility issues away and this movie reminded me. I have a lot of friends on this journey now both in the blogosphere and those who are a part of my life and it made me so sad for the struggle that each of them and some of you are still facing. Those emotions are so hard to deal with and I hate to see anyone on the difficult parts of this journey.

When I began the process of blogging and reading blogs I hated following blogs of people who had already adopted. I'd read up to the part where they brought baby home (to give me hope) but then had no interest in reading about their life with baby. It was just too hard. Melba had a great post about this topic and I don't want to repeat her sentiments because she says it so well here: But, I was just reminded of how hard the wait is and how hard the journey can be and I wanted everyone who is currently on this path to know I'm thinking about you.

December 10, 2009

Adoptions Gone Wrong

This was just the topic previewed for the Dr. Phil Show tomorrow. (I'm embarrassed to admit that I'm watching Dr. Phil but a girl has to do something while folding laundry).

I'm sure the show will be inflammatory. Just wanted to let the blogosphere know. I'm sure I'll have quite a bit to say tomorrow afternoon or I won't have the energy to care about what Dr. Phil and guests dramatize about adoption. Stay tuned...

December 8, 2009

Grown Up Car

I made a huge step last night. I'm a person who grows attached to things and doesn't love change (not to mention I'm pretty cheap when it comes to material possessions). I traded in the first car that I purchased with my first "real" job.

My 2000 Volksw.agen Golf has been with me through thick and thin. It's taken me to New Mexico on one tank of gas and enabled me to get a $200+ speeding ticket in Wyoming. (I won't divulge my speed but I will say that car has ZIP, no cruise control and I have a lead foot and a love of speed). I rarely had to think of filling the car up and it was just so much fun to drive. Our relationship became a little more rocky as the car required a little more love than I could give. The back hatch wouldn't stay open in cold weather which I discovered when I got knocked on the head- hard! I think the clutch might be going, the clear bra has begun to make the paint on the hood peel and she just celebrated her 107,000 mile birthday. I'll admit, it had become a bit embarrassing to go to business meetings in this car as one would expect a 20 year old guy and not a professional woman to step out of the driver's seat. However, I loved my car and held on tight. Then, along came Nora.

There were signs that the Golf's days were numbered. I never even attempted to install the car seat in the two door car. I didn't even crack the manual to find out the best position or whether to use the belt or latch system. Joel has been driving it to work and I'd been using his car. I knew for years that I really needed a new car but it's been so nice not having any car payments. However, I really wanted a safe car for Nora and one that handled well in the snow since I drive all over Colorado and Wyoming for meetings. I caved and we made a deal on a new car on Saturday.

I never thought that I would drive a car like this. To me, this car is excessively huge but by most American's standards, it's probably considered a mid-sized SUV. No matter though, Nora will be nice and safe with 7 airbags and a car that handles great in the snow. Even better, when Nora has a sibling they both can fit safely in the new car. Plus, it's so nice to have modern conveniences. (However, I am going to miss the tape deck. Sad I won't be able to play my mixed tapes from high school anymore).

I'm pretty excited to have a new car. (Thank you Toyo.tathon and awesome deals!) I spent all last night reading the owners manual front to back. (I'm meticulous with my cars). I can't wait to install the car seat and take it out in the fresh snow today. I'm such a car lover and SO my father's daughter in that regard. I look forward to another decade long relationship with this car for this new slow-driving, safety-minded period of my life.

December 5, 2009

Baby Talk

Last night Joel and I attended his company's holiday party. (I know, it's crazy they have one in a recession but his company actually does well during bad economic times). Grandma once again came over to babysit while Joel and I attended this event. It's so difficult getting dressed these days when I really am in my schleppy maternity leave clothes most of the time. I did manage to paint my toenails and make my fingernails look presentable, which felt like a huge feat. So, off we went to the holiday party.

We sat at a table with Joel's colleagues that he's closest to and enjoyed our dinner. The conversation was interesting to me. Most at the table knew that we had just adopted and was so excited for us but one couple did not know. The party was at a casino and so the small talk was centered around whether people were spending the night or staying to gamble. I commented that we had a two month old so we'd be heading back down the mountain. She took a look at me and said a bit sarcastically, "What, did you adopt?". She was then surprised when I said yes. (I think this is much more plausible than dropping baby weight in record time unless you are Heidi Klum). There was then the long string of questions about adoption. It was interesting because usually I love to discuss adoption but I just wasn't in the mood to answer all the usual questions politely. I realized later it was because she was just a nosy stranger and didn't really want any information on adoption but in my sleep deprived state this didn't occur to me. I finally changed the subject and we moved on.

Interestingly, another colleague of Joel's has been going through a lot of infertility issues. I was in a separate conversation after dinner when I overheard Joel saying "IUI". I couldn't fathom what he was talking about but then realized that the couple was on the same path we had been on. They asked a lot of questions about adoption and even about cost and this, of course, didn't bother me at all. It's all about intent and context.

The most interesting part of the night for me was toward the end when we were talking with all of Joel's colleagues with kids about having kids. I have never been a part of this club before. These conversations were always like the tenth circle of hell for me but I actually got to participate last night. I didn't have to say the usual, "wow" or "I can't imagine". I could actually reply with my own stories of parenthood. It wasn't draining having this conversation but fun and I realized on the way home that this was such a turning point. I think it just takes a while to sink in all the ways that my life has changed.

I didn't have 9 months to realize I was having a baby. I had a year and a half of being "paper pregnant" but I think I was in such disbelief that it would ever happen. Even when we were matched I still was not certain that we'd be parents and didn't embrace that idea. (Nora came two days late and I still hadn't packed for the hospital until I got the call). It's interesting all of the little things that keep reinforcing to me that this is real and we're finally a family.