Getting Ready for Baby

get-attachment-2.aspx Preparing for a little one is definitely exciting. P and I have gained a whole new level of respect and gratitude for our own parents as we re-live the milestones in our own youth. I am not sure we ever fully understood the weight with which each decision was made on our behalf;  the toys we played with, the schools we went to, the doctors who gave us those evil shots. Speaking of which, we had a meet-and-greet with an awesome pediatrician who is himself an adoptive parent. We were so in synch with him in our beliefs and we loved the practice. That being said, we don’t want to see him any more than necessary!

We have signed up for a class for first-time parents. The goal: try not to kill the new baby. Honestly P was the youngest of his family, and I was an only child. As far as burping, diapering and sleep training, we are LOST. We need this class. Our family is far and wide, and we need to learn the basics. It should be interesting, as everyone else in the room will be 9 months pregnant. We are thinking about just making some “We’re Adopting- the **OTHER** kind of Expectant Parent” T-Shirts so we won’t look so weird.  Chances are we’ll look weird anyway, so might as well roll with it!

Facebook is amazing.  This is not a sentence I usually say out loud, but now it needs to be said. The big news this week is that, thanks to Facebook, I have made connections with perfect strangers who are perfect ANGELS. In our freezer right now I have a week’s worth of donated breast milk from a local mom who just had some extra for our son. When we return from Florida, we will have a good jumpstart on supplementation for him. I have also met another amazing lady in Florida via Facebook who is donating some of her milk to our little one after we bring him home from the hospital.  Because we will have to stay in the state for a week or two after he is released, I was a little lost on what to do for milk for him if I am not producing enough. Now, because of the kindness of this one person, I will have breast milk for our child. I am OVERWHELMED by the generosity of these women and the many others who donate all the time. I am in process of trying to induce lactation myself (sorry to the guys who are reading this, but we gals think this is cool). Even if I can make a little of our baby’s nutrition, I will be extremely thankful for the chance to do that. Adoptive Breastfeeding is not easy, but it IS amazing.  As for the rest of his nutrition, I would like to give him the chance to have as much mother’s milk as possible for as long as he wants it, so if it’s not all going to come from me, my heart is full of thanks to the women who take the time help women like me.

get-attachment-4.aspxThe other angels I have met this week are moms in the adoption community. I had a terrific evening with women in the area who are moms through adoption. I cannot tell you how great it was to talk face to face with other women who have walked this path. I am also excited to be able to introduce our little one to other adopted kids as he grows up so he knows he’s not just normal- he’s AWESOME! Honestly, we want adoption to just be a tiny piece of who he is and not the big determining factor in his identity. We hope to do this through honesty, love and openness. Meeting other families through adoption will make him see that it’s normal so he can just be a kid. That’s exciting for us.

We are preparing the baby’s room, which is definitely the fun part! It’s so hard to imagine that there will be a little boy running our schedule every minute in 9 weeks! You will never find two people more excited for poopy diapers and midnight feedings. Crazy, right? We just cannot wait! The joy-the anticipation- of his arrival makes us giddy! I look at P, knowing what an amazing father he will be, and I am filled with unbelievable thanks that this little man is coming into our lives. It’s getting very real now, and the excitement is building for us and for our family. This child has been long awaited and deeply wished for. We are in love with him already, and cannot wait to be his mommy and daddy.

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Meeting Baby’s First Family-Our Blind Date with Em & Ed

ImageOne of the topics that seems most fascinating to our friends and family is that we had the amazing opportunity to meet our future son’s birth parents before his upcoming September birth. How was it? For both parties I can assure you it was equal parts terrifying and amazing.

P and I flew to Florida to meet Em and Ed at the beginning of June. We also used the weekend to try to familiarize ourselves with how things will go in September for the birth of the baby. There are so many unknowns with adoption, and life is further complicated by interstate adoption law, which can keep us alone in the state of Florida for a week or two after baby is born. We wanted to see with our own eyes in what hotel we would stay to make sure we could survive there with a newborn for a while. We also wanted to visit the hospital where Em will deliver. It was exciting to see all of these places, but nothing could have prepared me for the emotional afternoon of finally meeting Em and Ed.

The plan was to meet at the local Red Lobster for lunch and then travel together to Em’s doctor’s appointment to see an ultrasound of the baby boy growing in her belly. As P and I sat in the restaurant, I don’t think I have ever been so nervous. Poor P was as terrified as I was, but was trying to be so strong. One of the many, many reasons I love him. He’s my rock.

Because of traffic, the social worker arrived a few short minutes before the guests of honor, leaving us very little time to calm our nerves. The taxi pulled up and out stepped the people who will change our lives forever. I’m not overstating when I say that time stopped for a second.  Em and Ed approached the restaurant carrying their one year old son, D. D took my breath away, and as I looked at him through the restaurant window, I imagined how this baby that Em is carrying would be. I felt like I was looking into a crystal ball and seeing the future with hope. This amazing couple chose us to be parents, and growing in her belly was our son.

I hugged Em when I saw her, and she hugged me back. Two women forever changed; two strangers who will forever be connected through the tiny life she so bravely and lovingly decided to carry to term. In case I haven’t made it clear enough, Em is my hero.

I asked Em nervously if this was the strangest first date she had ever been on. She responded yes. I then told her I didn’t know whether to cry or throw up. She  joked that she had been so nervous all day that she threw up just before she got in the taxi and that she didn’t recommend it. That broke the ice, and I immediately loved her for making a joke when we all so needed to laugh.

I was fully aware of the weight of this meeting. Much like I did on my wedding day, I tried to mentally record every sentence and every nuance of our hours together. This time we had with Em and Ed is something I want to share with our son someday. I was so emotional, I only ate a bite of my sandwich and spent the rest of the time reveling in the excitement of this new relationship-one of the most important relationships I will ever have in my life.

The conversation started out light. Ed is such an open and outgoing personality that he put us all at ease. He is funny and light-hearted, and he adores his son, D. The social worker guided the conversation in order for us to learn about the interests and talents that they have, so we can share that with the baby in the future.

I should stop here to say that this is a semi-open adoption. We will share letters and pictures throughout the life of this baby via the agency, and Em and Ed’s identifying information will be shared with him when he is 18 if he wants it. Em, Ed, P and I also discussed our openness to meet as the baby and their son,D, grow up so that the brothers can know each other if they wish. Open adoption is the healthiest choice for all parties, and we are so happy to say that Em and Ed are people that we are happy to take this journey with.

As we continued, we discussed the hospital plan, where Em invited me to be her plus one in the delivery room. Because she is having a c-section, she can only have one person with her. When I asked Ed if he was okay with that, he generously responded, “I saw the birth of my son. You should see the birth of yours.”

My heart leapt, and I felt the tears well up in my eyes.  It really took all I had to keep it together. Because this day was an unquestionably defining day in my life, and I didn’t want to cry through it.  Dear friends, you know I am a crier.

Next came the topic of naming the baby. In adoption, the birth family has the right to put whatever name they want on the birth certificate. When the adoption is finalized a few months after placement, the first birth certificate is sealed and a new one is issued. On this second certificate, the adoptive family is listed as the parents and a new given name of the adoptive parents’ choosing is listed for the baby. When Em and Ed were asked if they had thoughts about naming the baby, they said that they were happy to let us name him from the beginning of his life. They were excited to hear our choice of name for the little one, and they loved it. We will share that with you down the road-I promise. From now on with Em and Ed, we refer to the baby by his name, and that brings us all such joy.

After a 2 hour lunch, we all felt much more relaxed. P and I got to hold their son D and play with him. He was simply adorable and such a happy baby. Em and Ed have raised him so well. As we were leaving the restaurant, we took lots of photos together for our memory albums. We will keep one in the baby’s room so he can always know that he has a first and second family who love him very much.

After photos, we all made our way to the doctor’s office. After a bit of a wait, we were told that Em was not due for an ultrasound today. She wouldn’t accept that. She was so amazing and determined! She told the doctor that the adoptive family was here and that we couldn’t return until the birth because P had to return to Europe for ankle surgery and would be in a cast for weeks. (All true!) She begged and begged him. He finally melted and said yes. We all exhaled.

I sat next to Em and held her hand. P and Ed stood in the doorway with little D with watch because the small room was at capacity. All of the sudden, we heard a heartbeat. We all eagerly looked to the screen. I heard P say, “There’s something there!” After so many disappointingly empty and unfruitful ultrasounds in our past, we were finally witnessing our son wiggling and dancing for us in Em’s big, beautiful belly! I kissed her head and said thank you with tears in my eyes.  She smiled at me from ear to ear. I was shocked and elated. P looked giddy. Just like that, the ultrasound was over.

I think we all have an idea of what it will be like to see our baby on an ultrasound for the first time when we decide to start a family, and I guarantee you that you never pictured it to look like this. For all of us, it was perfect. Em and Ed found loving parents for their unplanned baby, and P and I found Em and Ed, the most open hearted and loving first family we could hope for for our soon-to-be son. It was a moment in time that I know we will all remember forever, and it brought us all much needed peace.

When we left the doctor’s office to say our goodbyes, we had a hard time leaving.  We wanted to stay with them and the baby, but we had to go. The day went so quickly. We took more photos, hugged goodbye, and then P and I left for the airport to fly across the country.

As soon as P and I got to the airport, we ordered a much needed drink and wrote down absolutely everything we could remember the day and about Em and Ed; their talents and dreams, their kindness and generosity, our impressions and experience. We didn’t want to forget the details. One day, when the baby isn’t a baby anymore and he asks us about his first family, we want to be able to tell him everything about this special time we had together preparing for his arrival. We feel also very lucky that if there are questions we cannot answer for him, that we can ask his first family directly. That is the beauty of open adoption.

We are still pinching ourselves. This match couldn’t be better, and we simply adore this family. There really are not words to describe the emotional enormity of a meeting like this- how the doors to your heart just fly open and nothing seems the same again. I am grateful every single day to them, and I will remain grateful to them every single day for the rest of my years.

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He is mine in a way that he will never be hers, yet he is hers in a way that he will never be mine, and so together, we are motherhood. ~desha wood

Happy 4th Wedding Anniversary!

ImageI can hardly believe that it’s been 4 years since the best day of my life! Everyone says that your wedding day goes by in the blink of an eye and that you just have to try to remember as much as you can. I remember every second. Walking down the aisle with my Dad to meet my husband surrounded by our dearest friends and family was the moment of my life. Four years later, I am more in love with this man than ever. He is my best friend, fellow life adventurer, and soul mate. Being his wife is a privilege that is not lost on me.

We are blissful as we think that this is our last anniversary with “just us,” and we look forward to the day that will we will celebrate the only day more significant to us in life than this one… the birth of our son.

Happy Anniversary, P. You are my dream come true.

Rocky Road-Not the Ice Cream/ 28 weeks

ImageWe about had a heart attack yesterday as we heard from our agency that Em took a fall and ended up in the emergency room. She slipped on a wet floor while out at a restaurant and hurt her elbow, ankle and knee. After she returned home, she noticed that she hadn’t felt the baby move for a while, and she called the agency to take her to the ER. Luckily, the doctors found a heartbeat, and, after keeping her overnight for observation, said that both she and baby were totally okay to go home.

Em is limping a bit, but is okay. We are all relieved that the baby is well after such a jolt.

Being an adoptive parent, especially when EM and baby are clear across the country, is difficult. I wish I could make her dinner and help her out, and yet, here we are with out hands tied. We are grateful that Em loves this baby so much and that she protected him.

The good news is that Em is 28 weeks pregnant today! Since she will have a C-section at between 38.5-39 weeks, baby will be here in 10.5-11 weeks. That is AMAZING! We continue to prepare for the arrival of this sweet little boy. We interviewed and selected a pediatrician, who is also an adoptive parent. I also had an appointment with a doctor to talk about adoptive nursing. We also enrolled in a baby care class for first time parents. It’s getting pretty real, and we are both grateful and excited. Over the moon, really.

Gratitude

cat_getting_out_cover_lgP and I are overwhelmed by the support and kindness we have received about our Big Adoption News! Thank you to all of you who have reached out to celebrate in our joy. In spite of P’s wicked cold yesterday, we were both grinning ear to ear.  The emails, texts, messages, and phone calls have meant the world to us.

We hope you will all follow our blog, and we will certainly keep you all up to date on our unusual path to parenthood.  The next weeks will be pretty exciting as we make all the preparations here at home and coordinate of travels to Florida for the birth.

After such a long road, it feels so great to finally have let the cat out of the bag!

We’re going public!

ImageSo, yes! It’s really happening. We are adopting a baby boy at the end of September!

We’ve been on our quest to be parents for almost three years, and now we can finally shout it from the rooftops- We are going to be PARENTS! So, dear friends and family, if you stopped by to read a little more about our journey and support us, we thank you.

As you can imagine, our path to parenthood has been both invasive and treacherous.  That is something we have held very close to our hearts. For the handful of friends who have shared our pain and protected our privacy in the last years, there are not words to express our gratitude. There were a lot of tears, and without your strong and capable shoulders, I am not sure how we would have survived. We love you.

It’s a big day for our family, and we are very nervous to let the cat out of the bag. After years of secrecy, it feels great to share the joy we feel with our community. We welcome any thoughtful questions, and we only ask that the birth family (Em and Ed as we call them) is shown the utmost respect. We have had the privilege to visit and spend time with them, and it goes without saying that their choice takes a great deal of courage. They are committed, brave and remarkable people, and we hold them in the highest regard.

Please check back with us often, feel free to comment on our posts, and most of all, please share our blog and our story! We are glad to have a community of support around us as we come down the home stretch.

With all our love,

A, P & Wonder Pup

A short message from Em

ImageYesterday, Em’s pregnancy finally reached the next milestone, 26 weeks + 6 days. It’s officially the 3rd Trimester. Because of agency rules, we only can talk through a social worker or with a social worker present. I sent her a text via our agency telling her we missed her and how excited we are that the final 3 months are upon us.  She called and left a great message for us. She said she is doing great and that she misses us too. Mostly, she is anxious to see us again in 3 months for the birth of our son!

Em is amazing. She brought tears to my eyes yet again. We have a conference call with her next week, where we will hear all the details of her next doctor’s appointment.

Peace

photo-8When we moved into our new home in AZ just a few short months ago, we had only begun to discuss the overwhelming process of adoption. I found our 1950’s rancher on Zillow as I sat in my living room in Europe. P was already in the USA, so his job was to scope out potential houses, and when he saw this one, he immediately loved it. We signed the lease even though I hadn’t yet seen it. It just felt right.

I remember the first time I walked into this home and I recall the distinct feeling of calm that washed over me. A new start after years of failed treatments,sadness and loss felt so refreshing. I felt free to hope for our future again. For the first time in ages, my smile didn’t feel as though it had the responsibility to mask my sadness. This was the clean slate we so desperately needed.

Walking through the home for the first time, I could see what our life could be there. When I saw  our kitchen, I immediately imagined the sound of a child’s laughter in the next room. I could enjoy preparing lunch for my family here. I told P and he hugged me. He hoped for that too. Honestly, P is a far better cook than I am, but I look so forward to cutting the crust of sandwiches and spilling cheerios all over the floor only to have our wonder pup remove all evidence of my clumsiness. As I walked through the rest of the empty house, I saw a living room and dining room where we could celebrate with friends, I saw our bedroom and as well as an office/music room where I could sing as often as I wanted without a downstairs neighbor complaining that I was too loud. Then I came upon the sweetest and smallest of the rooms. It took my breath away. I knew our child would sleep here. Adoption gave me this gift of belief even though we hadn’t yet begun the process.

After we got the keys, my first project was to paint that tiny room that P and I had already begun to call “The Nursery.” After years of saying that I always imagined having a little girl, I have no idea what made me paint it blue. I just did, and I loved it. I remember sitting in the middle of floor with paint in my hair thinking this has got to work. We have so much love to give.

Now the nursery has all the essentials. Most of the baby things are from my beloved sister. Even though her daughter is almost six, she never let go of the beautiful nursery items I always admired. She just knew that eventually I would be a mom and she would give it all to me. The dresser was supposed to be our guest room dresser. The chair and ottoman were hand me downs from future Grandmom’s mother. Its so nice to have her spirit here. Speaking of Grandmoms- they had saved their special childhood toys, books and decorations that will all have a place of honor in baby’s room.  There is a big stuffed dog that was a present from my dad that reminded him of the one I had as a child. The rug was gift from a fellow soprano who will be very surprised that this item from her dorm room is in my home still after… ahem… many, many years, and that it has a special place in our nursery. Thanks MCM.

I go into the baby’s room many times a day just to look. Every evening I turn on the light and sit for a few minutes, imagining what it will be like in a few short weeks when our little one comes home. Never have I felt so blissfully calm and quietly joyful as I do right now. Sometimes, I find P sitting in there reading. He says he’s practicing. Even the wonder pup sleeps in there next to the crib. My heart was so full of sadness for so long, and now, as we prepare for our future son to come home, I feel peace. That is the gift that this unborn child has given me.

Reflections on Mother’s Day 2013

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on the plane to Florida to meet our future son’s biological family

I woke up today thinking about my luck. In many ways, in spite of life’s many obstacles that “build character,” I have been blessed with some truly remarkable people in my life. For the last few years of trying to become a mom unsuccessfully, Mother’s Day was always a time where I hid in the house, cried and waited for the day to pass. This year, it was a strange day that yielded a lot of emotional surprises. I am an expectant mom; I am just not actually pregnant. How odd. Is it real?

My hubby, P, and I had a nice breakfast together, but otherwise, we celebrated quietly. We weren’t ready to share our joy or uncertainty outside of the family yet. Being a future adoptive parent comes loaded with a huge range of emotions, and it wasn’t a day to let them run wild.

P and I spent the day making travel plans to travel to Florida to meet  Em, Ed and their son.  We would also have the privilege to accompany Em to a doctor’s appointment see our future son on an ultrasound. We had big thoughts on Mother’s Day 2013.

As we were planning this life-changing trip to meet our future son’s biological family, I received two very special, unexpected gifts.

The first one I received was from my oldest, dearest friend, who I call my sister.  It was an envelope, and in it was my very first Mother’s Day card, one for expectant mothers. That’s me, I think. Inside of this beautiful card was a check for $600, earmarked for our upcoming trip. As I looked at her in utter disbelief,  she said, ” I discussed it with my husband, and I said to him, ‘Look at your daughter. What would you have gone through to get her? There is nothing we wouldn’t do. They are going to see their child’s birth family and see their son’s ultrasound. Yes it’s expensive, but let’s help them however we can.’ He went upstairs to write the check. We would walk through fire for our daughter. We know it’s difficult right now, so just accept this as a sign of our support to bring your child home.”

Speechless.

On this same day, I received another surprise Mother’s Day card from my Dad’s amazing girlfriend, K. It was such a surprise. Enclosed was a check for $800 earmarked for plane tickets for our Florida trip 2 weeks later. K is so excited about our adoption, and we were so moved by this completely unexpected gift. She really takes my breath away sometimes, and this was no exception.

Again, speechless. Lots more tears. get-attachment-1.aspx

So, amazingly, I received my first Mother’s Day cards this year with the gift of love and support when we need it most. Thank you sister and dear K, for understanding this deep desire to be parents and for supporting our dream. Now I can’t wait to see what Mother’s Day 2014 will look like.

Adoption: super expensive, but totally worth it.

Love and support from loved ones: Priceless

Baby Boy is 26 weeks along

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As Em’s 2nd trimester comes to a close, we are all getting very excited. She is getting a planned C-Section about Sept 25, so I had a heart attack today when I realized our little pumpkin will be born in 12.5 weeks. So much sooner that I had in my mind!

It’s time to start thinking about all the things pregnant expectant mothers think about- Pediatrician, breast vs bottle feeding (yes, adoptive moms can nurse too!), and gathering baby’s necessities.

It’s a little bittersweet to know that I will never have a baby shower. I have mostly made peace with that, although it does make a a little sad that I will not have that experience. At the end of the day, it’s no matter. I’m going to be a MOM! Barring the fact that my friends and family are scattered around the world, adoption does come with risk and having a shower before placement is emotionally loaded. Luckily, baby boy’s bio family is very committed to their adoption plan, and that brings all members of this experience a great deal of peace. I guess we just don’t want to tempt fate with a baby shower. We look forward to having lots of “Welcome Home Baby” BBQ’s once he comes home.

At the end of the day, once baby boy is home, we will party like it’s 1999!