Sunday, April 29, 2012

I'm Still Learning

You would think after starting the adoption process two years ago that I'd feel like I knew a great deal on the subject.  I know I know more then I did two years ago though I continue to find myself learning more.  I started the process wanting a semi-open adoption though intrigued by the option of an open adoption.  Now that I'm adoptive mother I'm struggling to define the openness of our relationship with baby girls birthmother (D).

There recently was a blog competition which was ended due to some "anti-adoption" issues.  If I've learned anything in these two years it is no two adoptions are the same, and no two experiences are the same.  It seems at times that the adoption world is too divided by our titles: adoptees, birthparents, and adoptive parents with each group trying to have their voices trump the others.

When I put my educator hat on I always try to explain that my experience is unique to the adoption of my daughter.  I had educated myself based on the laws in my state and found myself lost when our baby was born in a different state.

As a result of the "blog fight" that erupted I found myself exposed to new blogs with new perspectives.  This is what I've loved most about blogging is that I continue to read about the same topics from a new perspective each time I read a blog post.  As a result I took time to educate myself further on adoptee rights.  I had a vague understanding of my states laws and was happy at how open my state would be for my child.  Since my baby was born in another state the availability of her original birth certificate is not available to her.  I had spoken to Baby Girls Birthmother about getting a copy of the birth certificate but do not have high hopes that she will ever mail one to me.  So after learning that baby girl would no longer have access to her original birth certificate I contacted the agency in PA.  The agency has agreed to send me a copy as soon as they receive it.

Whats so frustrating and I think does play a role in these "adoption wars" between "sides" is that there is no consistency.  It makes it challenging as an adoptive mother to navigate the system as each state is different.  Different rules means a different game in each state.  Some states are pro-birth parent while other states are pro-adoptive parent it seems.  It creates a "fight" where there should be no fight.  We found ourselves frustrated in our PA adoption because we didn't know the rules to the system there.  We knew PA was on the list of possibilities but it was unfair to ask us to become educated on the laws of the four states which were possibilities.

As we learned the rules it was important for us to follow them even when we didn't agree.  At one point we were given the option of moving baby girl to a different unit at the hospital allowing increased visitation.  When I was asked if this was OK I directed the staff to the agency (as legally I could have as much information from the chart but I was not allowed to make decisions).  I was annoyed with the agencies stance which was that they were unwilling to contact D (baby girls birthmother) to ask if we could make an agreement for visitation (which would have been non-binding since she had legal rights to visit at any time).  The agency felt that moving baby girl to the other unit where there was increased visitation should not occur (in hide sight I realize they too did not have the authority to make this decision).  I could have skipped the agency, agreed with the hospital (who were going to create visitation hours for D), but I refused.  Some of the staff even hinted to the idea that it could be arranged- but there are laws for a reason.

What makes the process frustrating and I think elicits side taking is that each state does have different laws.  There also are different stake holders with different resources.  Unfortunately the rules are not always fairly created.  Each agency has its own set of ethics.  This debate will continue and internal "fighting" will continue.

I dont know that I contributed to the conversation except to admit- that as a new adoptive mother I'm trying my best to respect D, as well as raise an intelligent thoughtful Girl who will turn into a Woman that will likely have more insight then I do.  In the mean time I'll continue to try to become as educated as I can on all perspectives.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


I dont want to go to work tomorrow.  I dont want to go to work tomorrow.  I'm glad I can decrease my hours but what I'd give to stay home.  In some ways I am glad I'm going back to work because being a stay at home mom is ALOT of work.  At the same time I dont want to miss anything!

I've always defined myself as "an OT" and now I'm a Mom thats also an OT.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Paternity Leave/DH's job

My husband started his Paternity leave at about 8PM last night. What a wild ride for his last day at work. Its been a long time since he has been ordered in over night. The incident occurred just blocks from our home. In some ways it gives me comfort to have DH working because I know he considers not only the safety of those that live in town but also specifically his families safety. I had planned on walking to get coffee and then go swimming with baby girl but because of the incident we drove the few blocks. I also feel that because he is an officer I have heightened fears about safety and with the introduction of Baby Girl to our lives this fear has escalated. I have a sense that our world is not safe and I've feared how I will keep her safe. I have greater knowledge then the average citizen about the goings on in our neighborhood. I texted with another cop's wife last night which gave me comfort that I'm not the only one that worries about the safety of our world as well as for the safety of our husbands. We live in a relatively safe area however crime still happens as we saw in NH recently a very safe area (where i went to grad school) the chief of police was shot along with other officers. The Chief was just days away from retirement and did not survive his injuries. It irks me that people often tell me how safe the area we live in is and how I shouldnt worry. They are right we dont live in Boston, NY, LA- but criminals dont care about the name of the city- they are not rational but rather focused on their next fix, escaping the law, or just plain stupid. How would I go on if something happened? I was a single parent for a day- but how would I cope with forever? How would I explain this to Baby Girl? I know DH does his best to be safe. Yesterday was a reminder that bad things happen on quiet streets. I'm glad he will be away from work for a while.

 I start work again on Thursday. Since my schedule is now M-Th I will then have three days off. It will be a nice way to start back to work. Knowing that DH is home taking care of her will also give me ease of mind. In some ways I'm looking forward to going back to work- to the familiar. I love my residents and I'm looking forward to seeing them. There are a few I left at the start of their treatment and I'm excited to see how they are doing. There are also some that have passed away and will be missed. In some strange way I'm a little nervous like starting a new job. In a few short months things have moved on without me, and I've changed as well.

Monday, April 23, 2012

single mom for a day

DH got called into work at 2am this morning. He likely won't make it home until 11or 12 tonight. Poor guy was set to start his paternity leave at 4 today. Being a cops wife really is a lifestyle and not just your husbands job. I got to tell baby girl today how proud she should be of her dad because he works to keep the whole town safe.

Blue Eyes

Like most babies- Baby girl was born with blue eyes.  She continues to have blue eyes and everyone comments about how striking they are.  I also have blue eyes- a bright, light blue- that everyone comments on.  Her eyes are a deeper blue.  Both of Baby girls birth parents have green eyes.  Every time someone tells me how they think her blue eyes will stay I share that I have a feeling they will turn green.  I look at her bright eyes each day and watch for change.  I know it can happen for months.  A part of me wants her to have blue eyes so she can have eyes like her mom, though I know that I did not give them to her.  I think she would make a beautiful baby with green eyes and she will have a gift from her birth parents- and when she asks I can tell her she has eyes just like D and J.  I dont think they will stay blue and will continue my ritual of daily checks for her green eyes.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Infertility Awareness Week

In some ways the birth of Baby girl has eased my sadness.  I have achieved what I was seeking and that was a family.  Each smile makes me feel so happy to be a mom.  Each time I can comfort her and end her tears I feel like I've achieved a great feat.  I however did not seek to be a mom to heal my pain, I did not expect a baby to fix me.  Just as a spouse can never make you happy- you must find happiness within yourself; a baby will never make you forget the road that brought you together.

So I'm going to step out of my comfort zone and this week I plan to post the following on my Facebook to help bring awareness to the pain infertility causes:

Sunday:  April 22-28th is National Infertility Awareness Week according to RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association.  1 in 10 couples will experience infertility.  Infertility does not discriminate and affects men, women, rich, poor, fat, skinny, and all ethnicities.  We all know people who experience infertility and this week I plan to post ways to support those families in your life.

Monday:April 22-28th is National Infertility Awareness Week.  Please take care in the number of pictures/ultrasound photos you post on FB- we love babies which is why we want to start a family but large # of photos make us want to block you.  Those who experience infertility experience the grief a new each month.  Each month there is new hope that a baby maybe conceived, when it doesn't happen we grieve again. When talking to friends/family experiencing infertility please dont tell them to relax and it will happen as infertility is not a psych diagnosis, or minimize their pain by telling them parenthood is hard.  

Tuesday:April 22-28th is National Infertility Awareness Week.  To best help a friend/family member with infertility please dont provide advice.  Listen.  IVF, IUI and other infertility treatments are not for everyone due to their diagnosis, as well as religious or ethical reasons.  Everyone knows a story about a couple starting the adoption process and then became pregnant, or the couple that stopped trying to have children and found themselves pregnant- we have heard the stories and they are not helpful.  Just listen.

Wednesday: April 22-28th is National Infertility Awareness Week.  Don't complain about your pregnancy to us.  Women experiencing infertility would gladly take morning sickness or the inability to see their feet over years of invasive testing.  We are excited for your impending birth but we are not the ones to vent to.

Thursday:April 22-28th is National Infertility Awareness Week.  Please dont ask us "whats wrong" with us.  Its RUDE to ask people about their medical conditions!  10% of infertility is "unexplained Infertility" which means no one knows- not even the white lab coats.  Infertility also can be a result of childhood illness, cancer, or other private health mater such as a hysterectomy.  

Friday: April 22-28th is National Infertility Awareness Week.  We can have children of our own.  Some people with infertility develop it after having biological children, some families choose to adopt.  Please dont tell us that maybe after we adopt we will have our own children. We have children and they are our own.

Saturday: April 22-28th is National Infertility Awareness Week.  Be supportive, listen and dont forget about us.  While we waited for Baby Girl I've been able to grow many friendships.  I've also unfortunately lost friendships as well.  The process is long and for each couple the outcome is different. For those of us who have been there- dont forget where you were.  For those of you who never have traveled the road- ask for how you can best support your friend/family.

Sunday:  National Infertility Awareness Week is over- thank you for taking the time to listen and be educated.  Be aware that Mothers Day and Fathers Day are fast approaching.  If you know someone thats going thru infertility currently please take a moment to send them a card, make a phone call, to let them know you are there to listen.  

Your feedback is welcome!!  :)  Wish me luck!!!!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Visit Home

Baby girl took her first trip this past week.  It was a very exciting trip.  We hired our first mothers helper the night before we left so we could focus on packing.  He was super sweet though it was his first time caring for an infant so I was helping him a lot.  I think in time he will make an excellent babysitter.  I was teaching him how to make bottles and she started to fuss- he rushed back to the living room to quiet her before he would finish learning how to make the bottle.

Baby girls sister's birthday was just days after we got back from our trip so I hurried to get a gift in the mail to her.  I sent a frame that was an album with pictures of the three siblings together.  I mailed it directly to their house but put the agency address on as the return address-  It seemed weird and sneaky but it doesn't make sense for me to pay for shipping twice especially since I have their contact information.  I also wanted to make sure the package made it in time.

Baby girl was a super star on her first flight, we then boarded the second flight.  As we boarded the flight I texted the Bmom in response to a text she had sent me a few days prior just checking in.  As I sent my text DH went to shut off his phone and received a text from the agency in PA saying the court terminated parental rights.  For some reason I thought the TPR hearing was the next day so it was surprising news that it had happened!  (She was a superstar on all flights :)  - Someone asked us if we gave her Benadryl which we had not!)

We stayed with my sister and her husband.  As no one wanted to stay away from baby girl we had six adults, an infant, and two crazy lab mixes in her two bedroom apt (with one bathroom!!)  It went smoother then expected in large part because baby girl sleeps all night.  My parents had so much fun with their first granddaughter.  My dad played games with her and my mom couldnt stop singing.  We had an open house for friends to meet her as well.

I think the most special part of the trip was her meeting my Grandmother.  As I have written about before my grand mother has dementia.  She also has ALWAYS wanted Great-grandchildren.  Baby girl was her third and as of this past week now has four soon to be five Great-Grandchildren.  Unfortunately she doesnt remember this and lives in the moment.  She no longer can name the relationships or provide the names of her visitors but can recall those that she loves.  If I give her my name and tell her I'm her Grand-daughter for a fleeting moment she identifies who I am.  It was too complicated for her to understand that baby girl was my daughter and thus her great-granddaughter.  She did seem to identify though that I was baby girls mother because she referred questions about her sleep to me.

We visited her twice.  The first time DH and I stopped by on our way to our party.  She was curled up in a fetal position and did not show much interest in our visit.  She did show brief moments of interest in Baby Girl but did not want to hold/touch her.  She was far sicker then she had been at our last visit in August.

Our second visit started out similarly.  Baby girl then spit up all over her outfit and needed to be changed. As I changed her I held her up to show my grandmother her cute rolls in her legs.  She reached out for the baby.  It seemed as soon as my grandmothers hand touched the warm soft skin of Baby Girl she awoke.  When baby girl squealed her eyes got big and my grandmother laughed, and when baby girl lost her balance as I held her she smiled as I caught her.  My grandmother held her and the two seemed to melt together.  My Grandmother asked me how baby girl was sleeping which is the first question I recall in almost two years.

As we got ready to leave she told my mother "I wanted to die, but I wanted to see the baby first."  The day baby girl was born I read "Two Kinds of Love" over the phone, that was before we knew baby girl had been born.  Once we were in Phili I called my Grandmother to tell her that we were going to visit in April.  Since that phone call my aunt has been telling her we were coming and put our first family picture on her bedstand.  Maybe she had the ability to understand that I was coming and I'm glad she held on if thats the case because I always told my grandmother I'd have children she could meet- and I was able to uphold my promise.  I will feel sad when she passes on and I dont think it will be long, but I'm so thankful for the visit and thankful that she held on.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Caught A Special Moment

We took baby girl on her first trip to the zoo while visiting family in Milwaukee.  The closest zoo to us at home is hours away; so even though we thought she would probably sleep most of the time that we would go anyway.  While in the monkey house I over heard a very sweet conversation between a mom and a little boy.

The Mom mentioned that the young chimp had been adopted by one of the other chimp moms. The little boy asked a question about adoption if it was when moms took other babies.  The Mom of the boy said well no adoption is when a baby needs a mother to love them and they make a new family.  Thats what families are about- love- right?  It melted my heart.  I wanted to turn and give that mom a hug but I just enjoyed the moment and continued on enjoying the zoo.  Baby girl slept the whole trip but that one moment made the visit worth it!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Paying it Forward

My cousin contacted me a few weeks ago saying that a friend was struggling with infertility and was looking into adoption.  I gave her the information she requested and then told her that she can call if she wants.  I just got off the phone with her.  We both cried over her struggles (though I'm not sure she knew my sniffles were not a cold).  I hope I helped but it was really nice to feel like I could pay it forward.

I've been extremely private about our infertility.  I am sure some people think we adopted just because.  I'm sure most people had no clue we were going to adopt or struggled with infertility.  I struggle with sharing because in some ways I dont think its anyones business that we struggled with infertility.  I also feel like people will judge us- thinking whats wrong with them or feel badly for us.  I learned quickly when we started to realize that something (we still dont know what) was wrong not to share because everyone has advice- most of that advice was unhelpful and hurt more then it helped.  I honestly have started to believe that some people are just meant to adopt.  Its ironic that DH and I already had planned adoption as part of our family plan even prior to knowing we had trouble with infertility.

It would have been nice to have a real person that had been down my path.  Blogging was my escape and my place to find people that related.  I couldn't have made this journey without my blog.  I however never could receive a hug via my computer.  It would have been nice to have a real person that lived my experience.  Unfortunately people have to be willing to discuss infertility in order for people to connect and gain support- I'm sure a lot of people assume now since we adopted that we had infertility trouble and maybe I'll get more connections to allow me to be that support person I never had.  I still am not sure though I'm willing to out myself.  Maybe someday I'll feel comfortable shouting it from the hill tops:  THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH ME EXCEPT MY INABILITY TO BECOME PREGNANT AND THATS OK!

As an aside I dropped the hospital grade pump off at the lactation consultant today.  I cried the whole way there and the whole way home.  Its such a bitter sward- part of me still wants to continue.  I have found it easier to focus on her latching on now that I'm not occupied with pumping.  My DH has been so sweet and keeps telling me I've tried harder then most people would have but I'm not used to achieving the highest standards.  Infertility I guess still hasn't fully taught me that the alternative can be just as beautiful as the main stream.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Change of direction

So I gave it a month plus 10 days.  I'm done pumping.  My nipples are raw, after pumpting they turn purple then white- and they feel like they are on fire.  I described it to DH as putting a fork in an electrical socket- you know exactly whats going to happen and its going to hurt.  I was getting an ounce until last weekend when my supply started to drop off.  Today I pumped at got 5ml!!

So I'm not giving up I'm changing my focus.  I've decided to focus more on getting her to latch on without the nipple shield.  At this point I can get her to latch on with the shield because it protrudes and feels more like a bottle nipple.  My goal is to be able to use the supplemental feeder with formula at the breast.  She will get some breast milk but I wont have to pump five times a day.

This wasn't an easy decision.  I've cried over it because I feel like I failed.  I knew it would be challenging because of my previous reduction surgery.  To complicate things I didn't have time to complete the longer protocol.  My neighbor was successful in obtaining a fully supply but I have to remind myself that she also lactated in the past with her first child who is a biological child.  I wasn't able to put her directly to breast until this month due to her health concerns and now that its finally behind us I'm so happy to have a healthy baby I'm just sad I wont be able to provide her with the gift I desired to give her.

I have to remind myself that I'm changing directions.  She will still get to bond with me using the supplemental feeder.  I will continue to take the herbs but not the Domperidone.  I believe she will get some breast milk maybe a ml?  I know that people raise healthy babies with formula and I can't say I didn't try my hardest. I also know that with the time I was spending pumping I'll be able to focus my efforts on getting her to latch on without it being a miserable experience for both of us.

As an aside I was bottle feeding baby girl at the gym in the locker room and an older woman first scolded me for bring her to the pool so young then asked if I breastfed at all.  It reminded me how much of an impact someone can have with a quick 1 minute conversation.  We all are so judgmental and I know my former self would have looked at a woman bottle feeding and think- doesn't she know breast is best?  (I however would have NEVER said anything though).  Breast may be best but there are so many reasons even for women that had children biologically are physically unable to produce what is best.  That is when we have to accept this inability and move on to the best we can do and for me thats using organic formula in the supplemental feeder and loving baby girl to death.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Post Placement Visit One

I forgot to post this one... our post placement visit was two weeks ago!! :)

The visit was uneventful.  I walked down to the agency since its only a few blocks from our home.  DH had a job fair he worked so he rushed to be there and made it right on time.  Baby girl fell asleep on the walk over to the agency.

We signed papers indicating what we wanted her legal name to become (EXCITING!! :) )  We also signed paper work saying that we had gotten other paper work such as the hospital discharge paper work. We updated our agency on how she was doing and the three doctors appointments we have gone on.  All positive.

Then the social worker asked if we had any questions or things that were on our mind.  DH did it (I was going to wait and write a letter because thats my best form of communication) he brought up the agency in PA.  He was very diplomatic and shared that he felt that the other agency was different then our home agency and that if our agency sends families to PA again that they should be made aware of the differences.  We discussed some of the situations we had with visitations from the birthparents that were not ideal.  We discussed how we understood the birthmother had rights but just like we created a post placement plan that is not legally binding it would have been nice to have a visitation agreement for while we were down there.  Our agency was very receptive.  She is new and indicated that she was surprised by our complaints but most families go to PA and are gone as soon as the interstate compact is done.  She suggested that we not visit the birthparents unless its a supervised visit.  She agreed with our plan to complete one visit and see how it goes.  She agreed with what my expectations for a visit would be, and agreed that if my simple expectations were not met that we would not visit in the future.  She agreed that she would share with future families how the agency in PA is different and to be in greater communication if the family will be in PA for greater then just waiting for the interstate compact.  Its nice to be supported and our plans in the future are for an instate adoption so we can use our agency.

Happy Tears

After spending years crying sad tears I now find my happy tears flow so easily.  The day before yesterday we got blood work back giving baby girl a clean bill of health! She will have to be retested at 18months for a definitive result but I cried.  One less challenge for baby girl while growing up.  (I did cry sad tears for her when she got the blood drawn from her little arms and hands)  Yesterday she rolled over from her front to back for the first time- she has rolled off me before but this was an on the floor roll!!  I cried.  The other night I was rocking her to sleep and she looked so peaceful and and I cried.  I'm so happy I have her in my life.

It has taken time for these happy tears.  Initially I had scared and frustrated tears.  While in the hospital I cried a few times but they were not happy tears they were I want her to feel better tears, they were I wanna go home tears, they were I hate the nurses tears.  Its only been a little over a month and it seems like those frustrations have started to fade.  I still plan on writing a letter to the hospital because I think I can provide constructive criticism as well as praise for what they did well (LOVED our OT).  Writing for me has a way of allowing me to let go of those frustration.

I'm so happy!!