Sink or Swim

Monday, July 02, 2007

Goodbye Blogger, Hello Typepad

Thanks for stopping by Sink or Swim. Yes, I've officially moved to a password protected site. If you'd like to visit the new site, drop me an email to let me know who you are, how you got to Sink or Swim, and if you have a blog that I might have visited. If you already have the username and password, here is the link: http://lee-sinkorswim.typepad.com/my_weblog/ See you at the new site!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

On the Move

I've talked about abandoning blogger for Typepad for a while, and I think I'm close to making the move. If you'd like to follow me to the new blog, send me an email and let me know who you are, and maybe how you got to the blog initially. Thanks, and hope to see you on the new blog...

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Some questions are bigger than others...

I've been thinking about this post over at American Family all morning. It is impossible not to wonder about E's story, and what the situation truly was with her birth parents. And it is heartbreaking to think that we will probably never know. On Mother's Day, it crossed my mind that I hardly ever think about my own birth mother anymore. But this lack of wondering only happened after I met her and knew my own adoption story. E isn't likely to receive that gift. I know what it is like to wonder, romanticize and even at times dramatize a birth story that is unknown. I was a child who often made up stories (ok, truth be told, I was a bit of a liar), and being adopted lent itself to some whoppers. In one, I related that I knew my birth parents had ended up getting married, and I probably had full siblings out there somewhere. I think this stemmed from my lack of connection at the time with my own sister. In another, I fabricated a near abortion drama, and a last minute change of heart. Of course, I knew nothing at all. My mother had a little index card where she had carefully written down the few precious details Social Services had shared. I knew that both of my birth parents were of German decent (30+ years later, I learned there was a lot of Polish heritage too). They both had brown eyes, which was remarkable since I have blue-green eyes. They were relatively tall. She was 20, he was 18. I envisioned two college students in love; torn apart by strict parents. Turns out I was so very off the mark. Ah well. I know what it is like to wonder, but I don't know what E will wonder about in her own birth story. The situations are so incredibly different. Will she wonder if it was a coerced situation? Will she feel like she was stolen from her home and her heritage? Will she feel anger toward her birth parents for abandoning her? I try to read blogs and other writings from adult international adoptees. I know that I cannot assume that E will always be happy with her lot in life. I don't want to over-dramatize the situation either, but abandonment is such an awful word and concept. How could a child not have intense and complicated feelings about a story that starts with being abandoned? An abandonment that was very likely not the desire of the birth parents. An abandonment that ideally should not have had to happen. My birth mother made a choice, a very conscious choice for adoption. She later made that same choice with a second unplanned pregnancy. The more I know and love E, the more I ache for her birth parents. They will never have the chance to know this amazing child they created. And if it breaks my heart, how could it not break hers?

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mother's Day

Mother's Day. My first Mother's Day as a mother. I didn't think it would happen when I was creaky in the knees and starting to grey at 41, but it was a memorable day nonetheless. E blessed us with a little extra sleep this morning, so I actually read two sections of the paper. And R made breakfast, which is always a treat. At church, E flirted, squinty-smiled, and shook fingers (a new fascination) with the row behind us. The opening song involved kids singing and doing the hand motions for the song L-O-V-E. Suddenly I was crying. Being a mother sinks in a different times and to different levels for me, and today it obviously settled in pretty deep. I generally spend Mother's Day with my own mom, most recently in conjunction with my sister as a girl's weekend. And at church, I would look around at the other moms who would smile in response to the nice sermon praising their virtues, and I would think "Next year. Next year, I will be a mother." Now it's finally true -- I am a mother. An obvious thing, I know, but some days it just seems so matter-of-fact, while other days it really hits me in a "wow" kind of way. I look back to when R and I were dating, and I could not fathom that 8 years later, we would be newly home from China with our daughter. Sometimes, it actually seems quite unreal and even absurd. But generally it all fits into place in such a normal, everyday way. I thought a lot about mothers today, of course, but thinking about E's birth mother throws me into such disarray. For me, there is no right way to feel about her, because I will probably never know her story. Grateful seems misguided. Grateful that a child was abandoned? That would seem the ultimate insult. And it's hard not to resent a government or family that pushes women into horrible choices. But do I even know she was pushed? I try so hard not to project what I think I would feel or do, but I always think about her with the deepest sorrow. I want her to know that E is beautiful and strong -- full of mischief, personality and endless affection. I want her to be reassured that E is healthy, happy and will receive education and opportunity that she might not have had in her home country. It all comes down to that word -- might. Her birth mother certainly must wonder what might have happened to her daughter. And I will always wonder what her life might have been like if she'd been raised in China by her birth mother or another family. Always wondering about what might have been...
But today was about what is real right now, not about what might have been. We played, and giggled and walked endlessly in the apparently not-so-frightening grass. E ate a real child's portion of lasagna and drank a decent amount of milk at a neighborhood restaurant (for us and our eating issues, this was huge). And we enjoyed a wonderful day as a family. Now I'm crying again, but I'm smiling too. All I can say is thank you to E for making me a mom.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Things I'm Chewing On

I'm finding that while I'm home, I really don't have that much to write about. E offers new delights each day, don't get me wrong. The latest is that she has new words -- up, hi and bye to add to Mama and BaBa (although sometimes R is DaDa, and I don't even know where she heard that). And she is sleeping like a champ -- 2+ hour nap yesterday and working on a good one today, plus 12+ hours of sleep two nights in a row. Growth spurt or new pattern? Who knows... It's just that there is such a sameness to the days, and I'm not doing so well with that. I don't feel productive in the sense that housework doesn't give me a sense of accomplishment. I know that being with E is productive, but it isn't always enough. Next week, I'm back to work, and I head back with a mixture of dread and relief. I do really dread leaving her, since I know I will miss so many small changes and developments. Plus, she's just a joy to be with. But there is relief too. Relief that R is home with her all summer, so we don't have to do daycare for three more months. But mostly relief to have the stimulation of being at work again. I really don't even feel guilty about it, and I know E and her Baba will have a great summer. Shoot, maybe I'm jealous? OK, I know I'm not... Another thing I'm chewing on at the moment is E's eating. Not sure what is going on there. She is finally eating a few things that are more solid -- more "real" food that is, but it is one step forward, two steps back at this point. As a recap, when we brought her home, she had never had solids, and wouldn't let us put a spoon in her mouth, so she has made HUGE progress in this area. Now she definitely wants a taste of whatever we're having, and she has gladly sampled and enjoyed veggie sausage, eggs, cheese, fruit, crackers, ravioli, veggie booty and even turkey bacon. (FYI, we are not health nuts, she has also had ice cream, pizza and chocolate chip cookies on occasion). The trouble is that she still doesn't really chew her food. When we met E, she just had four teeth -- two top center, and two bottom center. And she still has only those four teeth. Not super conducive for chewing, and she mostly moves the food around in her mouth until it dissolves sufficiently to swallow. This takes quite some time for each bite of anything substantive (i.e. more than banana puffs or veggie booty). Quite some time. She is definitely bored (and fussing and crying) with eating long before she has consumed enough calories for a small canary to survive. And now that she has a taste for said real food, baby food just doesn't cut it. Even the much-loved Malt-O-Meal got the sniff of disdain at breakfast. I am trying very hard not to obsess about the eating thing, and I know she won't starve. But the belly hasn't been full of much besides formula and yogurt (still immensely popular thank goodness) in several days. C'mon teeth, we need you! The other thing I'm chewing on is far more weighty than the eating issue. It's the only child issue. There's a strong change that E will be an only child, and it has me conflicted and troubled on many levels. I'm not ready to post more about it, but I will when I can do so a little more thoughtfully. So that's what I'm chewing on at the moment. And hey, thanks for a nice number of comments on the last post. Great to hear from everyone! And in case you were wondering, you CAN carry your child around in a grocery sack if you are careful to double bag first...

Monday, April 30, 2007

Ten Random Things

I just can't seem to find it in me to post more than once every week or so. I write posts in my head, usually while lying in bed, but finding the time or inclination to actually pound them out on the keyboard doesn't seem to happen. Here are a few things that have been rattling around in my head. Yes, I know, they are completely random and unrelated, but that's how my brain works, ok? 1. E has become a bag lady. She is in love with empty paper grocery sacks. She will carry them around for quite some time, which I've learned is extremely handy for putting away said groceries. Note the James Dean look she has going on -- I removed the pack of Marlboros she had rolled up in the sleeve before I took the photo... 2. My previous boss got laid off last week. I saw it coming, and I think he did too. I hope he did anyway. He wasn't a great manager, but he was a great advocate for me, and he was such a good person. That may sound like an inconsequential quality in a manager, but my new boss, um, not so much a swell guy. He and I just don't get each other, and he is all business all the time. But he called me to make sure I knew that I wasn't in any danger of being laid off, reiterated how valuable I am, yada yada. It was all very rehearsed and patronizing. Anyway, I have a meeting with him this week to see how all the layoffs and voluntary departures in my department might affect me. I feel like I might have a little power to ask for things, but I'm struggling with what to ask for at the moment. It's not exactly ideal timing to ask for a promotion or new/more responsibility. Mostly, I want to solidify my new 4-day work week, which is supposedly on a trial basis. Since one of my daycare options for the fall only offers M-Th, it's more than a trial for me. 3. E is freakin smart. OK, everyone thinks their kid is smart, but she's been amazing this past week. She knows where her nose, ears and belly button are, and her vocalization is sounding more and more like talking. Her awareness and ability to learn things at lightening speed is both wonderful and terrifying. But she still won't chew her food, so maybe I'm overestimating her brilliance. 4. E had a mommy/clingy week last week, and it was wearing me out. I love her more than anything, but I was having a hard time not rolling my eyes and sighing like an exasperated teenager when she would lift her arms and cry for me for the 100th time in a five minute period (generally while making her a meal or bottle). Hard to get anything done, including get a glass of water. Also very hard to know just how much to let her whine and cry, but I am getting much better at knowing what is really a wounded cry, and what is outright whining. 5. Speaking of whining, E generally shows a preference to be with me, but she doesn't play as nicely with me as she does with my husband. She will always behave for him, and play like a perfect angel, but with me, she can deliberately test my patience with behavior she knows will get her in trouble (mainly whapping mommy). Of course, my husband has never-ending patience, so that's probably the difference. 6. I'm feeling a little guilty that I don't want to stay home. OK, maybe guilty isn't it, but it feels like I should want to stay home with E and be beyond sad that I have to go back to work. It will be very hard to go back next month, but I am also looking forward to it. I'm good at my job, and it gives me a lot of satisfaction. Plus, I feel very out of touch at home. I try to meet friends for coffee and lunch (which E seems to really enjoy too, most of the time), but it isn't the same. I would love to stay home for six months, but I know I couldn't do it full time, all the time. Which leads me to... 7. My husband is taking the summer off to stay home with E. This will be interesting, and I hope fabulous for both of them. I'm thrilled we don't have to do daycare yet, because she isn't ready. Plus, R will learn so much about taking care of her -- things he'd never learn while I'm at home -- particularly how to multitask and get things done. 8. I have two great daycare options for fall. One is an in-home, and she for sure has a space. She's perfect, although expensive. The other is a center that is unlike any center I visited, and has me at the top of their waiting list. Fantastic nurturing atmosphere, great ratios and teachers who are grown-ups and all have degrees in something child-related. I need someone who knows MORE than me please! 9. The blogging community has been bizarre these past few weeks. Chew/Jen lit up the boards with her tragic story, another blog I read regularly had a barrage of comments flying back and forth about bonding with/loving adopted vs. bio kids, and several bloggers I have enjoyed for months are hanging it up. I have such a small readership that I don't think I will encounter much flaming, but I also want to start talking about more things that I'm wrestling with going forward -- things I know people will disagree with, and it's clear that the blogging world is not always kind. I've been a little bit of a shiny-happy blogger, and it is more of my nature to not want to offend people. But I don't want to hold back on topics either. I need to think about what I want to get out of this blog a little more... 10. Baths are suddenly going very well, but naps are not. She has slept through the night every night since she starting really walking (so for three weeks now), and she usually wakes up happy and content in the morning (sleeping 8 p.m. - 7 a.m.). Naps are a different story. Sometimes, she will nap beautifully for two hours, but often, she will sleep just 40-50 minutes and then she will either start this heartbreaking sobbing while she's still half asleep, or wake up screaming and crying with wracking sobs, and only mommy can soothe her. Today, we went for a long walk at noon, and she took a beautiful stroller nap for over an hour. Bliss. Wish inapping was more consistent, but hey, sleeping through the night is nothing to sneeze at. Speaking of, she is sleeping soundly, and I'm going to have a cocktail and snuggle with my husband. Enjoy a last photo, and yes, I am so proud that not only does she clearly have carrot residue around her mouth (how did I miss that?), but she is playing with a Happy Meal toy. E does not get Happy Meals, but mommy does...

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A very full week

I am exhausted after six days of out of town visitors. E was baptized on Sunday, and it was the first time many in the family met her. I've been both anticipating and dreading this, since I knew it would be hectic, schedule-free and disorganized. It is good to know I can still be pleasantly surprised. Not only did E completely charm everyone, but she mostly stayed on her eating and sleeping schedule. I'm not always 100% excited about it, but E really turns on the personality in groups (like when I've visited my office). It's almost like she's performing -- mostly I think she just adores the attention. With our families, she just seemed thrilled to have so many people playing with her. She didn't reach out for people, or want to be held by them much, but she reveled in having her little cousins act silly to make her laugh (they were quite successful in general), and in her aunts and uncles exclaiming over her every sound and move. The look on her face when she would clap, and then 20 people would exclaim and clap in return was completely priceless. She's ruined for hanging out with the likes of us. We don't worship her nearly enough! The baptism was really emotional for me. First, I am excited to have her grow up in our church, since I think it embraces the best parts of Christianity/Catholicism. I've written about it before, but I'm so impressed with how St. Joan's cuts through all the crap that can bog religious worship down, and challenges people to really look at what it means to be a Christian. OK, I won't digress since that's a whole 'nother post... Anyway, the ceremony of the baptism just choked me up completely. We were standing there with several other families, and the priest starts by asking each one "what name do you give this child...?" And I was swept away with feelings. From there, I could barely hold it together, and I wasn't completely sure why. It just brought all these feelings to the surface -- all the wanting and waiting and hoping, and all the wonderful support we received from the family and friends standing behind us. Sufficed to say, it was a more momentous day than I expected. I got to spend time with my dearest friend Kim, which is rare anymore. My sister and her husband reminded me of how great my family can be when we're choosing to be so. My mother is still wearing her new grandmother status like a flashing beacon, and it doesn't annoy me yet. Yet. And R's family was wonderful and generous and appropriately in awe of the amazing E. Bliss, just bliss. And we've had a few major eating breakthroughs just today, which is very exciting. E accepted a few bites of her Mickey Mouse pancake at breakfast (I ordered it for her knowing I would be the one eating it, don't judge). OK, it was pretty doused in maple syrup, but still, she has never accepted anything remotely resembling solid food that requires chewing before. Later today, she had a few small pieces of Trader Joe's cheesy corn puffs too. In case you are thinking that we never give her anything remotely nutritious, I'll also add that we rewarded her with her first few bites of ice cream! We'll do better tomorrow, I promise. But hey, she's chewing a little, and I could just do a little dance of joy, so clam up on the food judgements, ok? Of course, more food leads to more other things too, right? I've been telling people that "hey, changing diapers isn't so bad" for a few weeks now, not realizing that we were dealing with diapers from a body that wasn't eating much beyond formula. Now that she is eating all SORTS of things, I am, along with E's diapers, full of crap! Yow that girl can poop! But changing diapers still isn't as horrible as I'd worried. Life is mostly good, and E is beyond delightful. I still have my moments where I snap at her and then feel the most intense guilt and shame. And when she is playing nicely with her Baba, I sometimes hide in the bedroom and surf online much more than I should. All is not perfect, and I can see that toddlerhood is going to test me but good. But we're coming up on two months since we've met her, and she already owns such a huge part of my heart and soul. How does it happen so quickly? And how do I get her to stop changing from a baby into a toddler quite so fast? Must be time for a glass of wine.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Where is the little girl I carried...?

OK, it might be a hair early to start on "Sunrise, Sunset" but the changes the past few days in E have blown me away. First (and really best) is that she hugs, really hugs us. Wraps her little arms around our necks and buries her face in our shoulders with sighs of happiness. Best. Feeling. Ever. Second is the laughter. She has always been a giggler when happy and excited, but now we get true peals of laughter out of her. And it is incredibly strange what seems to inspire it. R has had the touch, first getting her to squeal on and on with delight over how he can make the empty Quaker oatmeal container spin and dance on the floor. This threw her into spasms of giggles and outright belly laughs. And yesterday, when my mom was here, R got her going again, this time over a pen. Yep, that's our complex girl, entertained by a pen. But she was beyond giggling. He would hide and twirl and play with the pen right in front of her face, and she would stamp her feet and howl with laughter. Thank goodness for camcorders. And you'll notice from the photo that she worked up quite a sweat over it as well! Finally, E is really starting to walk now. This one gets the most mixed feelings from me, since it signals a real transition into toddler-hood, before I'm ready to lose my baby. She has been taking steps for over a week, but again this weekend, she really hit the ground running. Five steps, then seven, then ten... She will walk steadily from one person to another, even from one room to another if that's the only route to get to me (you know how I love that, right?). If she gets unsteady, she stops, regains her balance, and continues to walk. She can even stop and change direction now. But most impressive to me is that she will pull herself up from a sitting position into a walking position. She doesn't need help standing, or even a piece of furniture to pull herself up. Those are some strong and sturdy little legs. The eating is getting a little better, she adores yogurt and pureed carrots, and my goodness, does she love her prunes. Heh, considering the mighty force that is her gas, not sure that is a great thing. E continues to love music (especially baby-friendly videos viewed from her own little chair) and pictures (which is the only reason she seems to tolerate books unfortunately), and she actually slept through the night last night with no wee-hours-of-the-morning feeding. Probably all that power walking. And her favorite item in her Easter basket was her toy recycling truck. Note that the displeasure in the photo is definitely about the ears, not about the Easter basket. Yes, we do occasionally use her for our own amusement. Seems only fair. All the changes and advancements are exciting, but I do wish she wouldn't grow up quite so fast...

Friday, March 30, 2007

On Being a Mom

My friend Natalie sent me this Anna Quindlen essay on Being a Mom. It came at a good time for me. E is already growing and changing so fast, and I long to hold on to her baby-ness for a while longer... Being a Mom Anna Quindlen If not for the photographs, I might have a hard time believing they ever existed. The pensive infant with the swipe of dark bangs and the black button eyes of a Raggedy Andy doll. The placid baby with the yellow ringlets and the high piping voice. The sturdy toddler with the lower lip that curled into an apostrophe above her chin. All my babies are gone now. I say this not in sorrow but in disbelief. I take great satisfaction in what I have today: three almost-adults, two taller than I am, one closing in fast. Three people who read the same books I do and have learned not to be afraid of disagreeing with me in their opinion of them, who sometimes tell vulgar jokes that make me laugh Until I choke and cry, who need razor blades and shower gel and privacy, who want to keep their doors closed more than I like. Who, miraculously, go to the bathroom, zip up their jackets and move food from plate to mouth all by themselves. Like the trick soap I bought for the bathroom with a rubber ducky at its center, the baby is buried deep within each, barely discernible except through the unreliable haze of the past. Everything in all the books I once pored over is finished for me now. Penelope Leach., T. Berry Brazelton., Dr. Spock. The ones on sibling rivalry and sleeping through the night and early-childhood education, all grown obsolete. Along with Goodnight Moon and Where the Wild Things are, they are battered, spotted, well used. But I suspect that if you flipped the pages dust would rise like memories. What those books taught me, finally, and what the women on the playground taught me, and the well-meaning relations --what they taught me, was that they couldn't really teach me very much at all. Raising children is presented at first as a true-false test, and then becomes multiple choice, until finally, far along; you realize that it is an endless essay. No one knows anything. One child responds well to positive reinforcement, another can be managed only with a stern voice and a timeout. One child is toilet trained at 3, his sibling at 2. When my first child was born, parents were told to put baby to bed on his belly so that he would not choke on his own spit-up. By the time my last arrived, babies were put down on their backs because of research on sudden infant death syndrome. To a new parent this ever-shifting certainty is terrifying, and then soothing. Eventually you must learn to trust yourself. Eventually the research will follow. I temember 15 years ago poring over one of Dr. Brazelton's wonderful books on child development, in which he describes three different sorts of infants: average, quiet, and active. I was looking for a sub-quiet codicil for an 18-month old who did not walk. Was there something wrong with his fat little legs? Was there something wrong with his tiny little mind? Was he developmentally delayed, physically challenged? Was I insane? Last year he went to China. Next year he goes to college. He can talk just fine. He can walk, too. Every part of raising children is humbling, too. Believe me, mistakes were made. They have all been enshrined in the, "Remember-When-Mom-Did Hall of Fame." The outbursts, the temper tantrums, the bad language, mine, not theirs. The times the baby fell off the bed. The times I arrived late for preschool pickup. The nightmare sleepover. The horrible summer camp. The day when the youngest came barreling out of the classroom with a 98 on her geography test, and I responded, What did you get wrong? (She insisted I include that.) The time I ordered food at the McDonald's drive-through speaker and then drove away without picking it up from the window. (They all insisted I include that.) I did not allow them to watch the Simpsons for the first two seasons... What was I thinking? But the biggest mistake I made is the one that most of us make while doing this. I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture of the three of them, sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages 6, 4 and 1. And I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night. I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less. Even today I'm not sure what worked and what didn't, what was me and what was simply life. When they were very small, I suppose I thought someday they would become who they were because of what I'd done. Now I suspect they simply grew into their true selves because they demanded in a thousand ways that I back off and let them be. The books said to be relaxed and I was often tense, matter-of-fact and I was sometimes over the top. And look how it all turned out. I wound up with the three people I like best in the world, who have done more than anyone to excavate my essential humanity. That's what the books never told me. I was bound and determined to learn from the experts. It just took me a while to figure out who the experts were....

Friday, March 23, 2007

All About E

Almost a month ago, E officially became our daughter. It seems like she's been in our lives longer than that, although so much of her is still a mystery. She really is amazing, and while I will never forget the pain and emotional baggage of the long wait, it has faded to a very distant memory. Here's a little more about our girl: THE GOOD
  • She smiles easily and often, and giggles are rarely hard to come by.
  • When I approach her to pick her up and hug her, she will bounce up and down, grin from ear to ear, and quiver with anticipation (that's what she's doing in the photo here).
  • She learns quickly, mimicking us in so many things and creating new little games all the time.
  • She wants to walk with us ALL. THE. TIME. This is the "I hold on to your index fingers while I walk in front of you" style of walking. All over the house. Hour after hour.
  • If we take her to a coffee shop or an outside cafe', she will generally be pleasant enough long enough for us to enjoy a latte' or a meal. Priceless.
  • She is becoming more social and friendly with neighbors and friends, while still always preferring us and coming back to us quickly and happily.
  • She ADORES her Nana, and our weekend visit with her went better than I could have expected (To say that Nana was excited about having her first grandchild is the biggest understatement in history -- she had built the visit up so much, I was afraid there would be a huge letdown, but she and E got along famously, and Nana was not too intense at all. Whew!).
THE BAD
  • E hasn't napped for more than 45-50 minutes for the past several days, generally because the naps are interrupted by what we presume are nightmares. We hear her on the monitor, and when we go in the room, she is just quietly sobbing, often still asleep. And one awake, she will NOT go back to sleep, we think because she obviously doesn't want the nightmare to come back. It breaks my heart.
  • Last night E had a nightmare overnight for the first time, and she ended up spending a good portion of the night in our bed. I hurt for her so much, but having her next to us was bliss. She is a restless sleeper, and kept alternating between cuddling up to me, and to R. But so sweet to watch your baby sleeping.
  • We are struggling with eating. She takes a bottle easily, but at 14 months, she will not open her mouth for a spoon. She actually doesn't put anything in her mouth - no fingers, toys, nothing. She simply isn't getting enough calories for all her activity, so sleeping through the night without needing a bottle is rare. UPDATE: Since I started this post a couple of days ago, this is getting better. She still doesn't open wide, but she will take little bites of very runny food like yogurt...
  • She hits. Oy, does she hit. She loves to bang and make noise, and all her favorite toys are loud. This seems to translate to wanting to pound on everything. So, if she's really happy or really tired/frustrated, she whaps us too (and others, including babies, it's not cute). I know this is not uncommon for her age, but it is a constant battle to tell her "no hit" and "be gentle."
  • She fights sleep with all her might. I'm relatively sure this is a combination of her age (too many fun things to do to go to sleep) and also due to the nightmares/grieving. She is very naughty when we're trying to put her down to sleep. She will whap on us, throw books, and even beat on herself a little to try to stay awake. Luckily, if she is truly tired or not mid-nightmare, she gives up the ghost relatively easily and does succumb to sleep. And once she's happily asleep, she sleeps pretty well (notwithstanding the nightmare issues of the past few days -- after all, she slept for 45 minutes on a hard plastic chair in church yesterday, oblivious to clapping, loud music and much standing and sitting).
I know parenting has plenty of good and bad, so I'm not evaluating our experience based on these lists, just commenting on what's going on. As much as I hate the struggle to get her to bed, I'm also excited when she wakes up in the morning. Excited to see what she's going to learn, and what she's going to teach us. She is helping me be more patient, which has been a constant struggle for me in general. And she's helping me appreciate my husband, and how a partnership is one of the most valuable things around. OK, time to go spend some quality adult time with said husband. Thanks for listening, and I'll leave you with some fabulous cuteness...

Friday, March 16, 2007

Getting Back Into the Swim

OK, I'm amazed when I visit the blogs of my fellow travelers and find so many wonderful posts. I am having a hard time finding the time, energy and words to talk about our trip and our daughter. I've journaled quite a bit about our trip on my family website, so I'm not going to do a complete re-hash. I guess I'll talk about some of the things that are harder to express, so be kind. Our trip was more of an experience than I expected. Guangzhou was fascinating. So much of it was beautiful, all of it was interesting, and I would love to go back when we could really see it fully, we saw such glimpses and snapshots in this trip. But I've never been on a trip where I felt like I missed so much, like I did on this trip. We didn't shop much; we didn't explore much. What we did, of course, is become parents. It seems like such a simple thing to say, but it was beyond my expectations in almost all good ways. When they put E in my arms, she was fast asleep, and she stayed asleep for at least 45 minutes. So it was hard to have much of a bonding experience, or any experience for that matter! She was groggy most of the day, and slept so much. For the first couple of days, E just watched us -- us and everything around her. She was quiet, thoughtful, shy and always sleepy. By the third day, she started coming out of her shell. Giggles followed, along with much banging of toys. I enjoyed her so much, but the new parent thing was quite staggering for me. I felt over my head, and unsure of what to do, what to feel. The other parents seemed to be adjusting so quickly (of course, we were the only first time parents in our group). I'm still feeling my way, but I'm trusting myself more. And our little girl is truly a marvel. No longer shy (still very, very curious!), she crawls up a storm, babbles, plays quite vigorously, sleeps very soundly (after extensive persuasion), pulls herself up to stand (and will probably walk within a month), and mimics us quite readily. She can lift both arms to say "hooray," clap and wave bye-bye. She says Baba relatively easily, and Mama when it works to her advantage (i.e. not wanting to take a nap). I feel like attachment is going well for all of us. R is such a natural father, I am floored by him every day. He is far better at getting her to calm down and go to sleep, and he is endlessly fascinated by her every breath. It sounds like such a cliche', but I have fallen in love with him all over again. E and I have a more complex relationship. She always reaches out for me, and generally prefers being with me, but she also tests me more. We play a lot. I challenge her, and we roughhouse a little, which she loves. After a few minutes of playing on her own, she always checks back in with me for a hug, which is bliss. She will readily make eye contact with me when I feed and change her. I read to her a lot, and talk endlessly, naming everything in her sight. But I am not completely relaxed with her, and she senses it and sometimes takes advantage of it. For example, she will rarely go to sleep for me, but R has success every time. I'm working on it, but being a mother is more complicated than I thought. It's not just about loving her, which is effortless. I need to find peace with my skills and instincts and not worry every moment about the life we are giving her. We will do the best we can -- I will do the best I can. Does every mother always worry about whether that is enough? Anyway, this is a rambling post that doesn't pick up very well from where I left off, but it's where my head is at the moment. Don't misinterpret my ramblings -- I am so in love with this child, and enjoying motherhood greatly. I just need to unclench a little...

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Don't hate me because I'm incommunicative...

Or is it uncommunicative? Anyhoo, I'm not planning to post on Sink or Swim during our travels. Other travelers seem to have challenges accessing Blogger in China. Plus, many of my regular readers will be in China with me (can't wait!), and family and friends have access to my baby website. I just can't imagine trying to maintain two sites while traveling, so this is the one that will suffer. Once we are home, I am considering moving to a password protected site, but not right away. Don't worry, you'll get some notice, although I don't think I'm exactly a "high traffic" site... All positive thoughts, vibes, mojo, prayers and well wishes are hugely appreciated on our journey. I'll blog at you again soon! Lee

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Packed? Who, Me?

At our travel group lunch on 1/28, one woman in our group said "I could leave tomorrow if I needed to." I didn't know whether to laugh, cry or doubt her truthfulness. I think I'm choosing to laugh. I know it's important to have a packing list, but I don't have a spreadsheet or anything hugely formal. And I have somewhat started to pack -- mostly involving putting baby meds, potions and lotions into ziplocs. And I've started stacking things I plan to bring for DiDi: long- and short-sleeved onesies, socks, Robeez, lightweight sleepers for playing, warmer sleepers for, uh, sleeping, two sweatsuits with soft pants and jackets, a pair of overalls and one special outfit. Otherwise, I'm planning to shop for her in GZ when I know her true size. She was @19 lbs at 11 months, and her SWI is pretty on target for weights. I'm expecting her to be 20-21 lbs and pretty much a 12 month clothing size. I'm bringing a couple of 18 month things, but not much. In terms of packing for myself, the ever-changing Guangzhou weather is making that tricky. Every day that I check online, I get a different story -- temps have ranged from 65-90 degrees in the past 7 days, and the upcoming forecast has wavered from mid-70s to mid-80s for daytime highs. Packing for 65-75 degree weather is going to look different than 85-90 degree highs. Just like I'm doing with DiDi, I guess my clothes are going to assume layers, and that when it comes right down to it, no one is going to be looking at me in the photos! This is my long-winded way of saying, "no, I'm not packed yet." And I probably won't really concentrate on packing until a couple of days before we leave. Anyone have any great insights to share on what they brought that they didn't need, or what they wished passionately they had brought, but did not? Please share...

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Packing Our Bags!

Travel will be here before we know it, and I am starting to get that panicky feeling like I haven't really studied for this test. Or done any of the reading. Or attended class in a long time. Have you had that dream? Right now it feels like I'm living it. I know it will be fine, and that we will figure this parenting thing out, but I'm feeling more than a little out of my element at the moment. A dear friend gave me a bag full of various bottles she attemped to use with her gorgeous daughter, and I just look at them in bewilderment. I actually Googled "how to mix formula in a bottle" last night. Should I be allowed to parent an innocent child? Luckily, we are they only first time parents in our agency's travel group. But how long before the others start pretending that they are napping when we stop by? I could use a little reassurance, and any sage parenting advice right about now. Please, comment away!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Happy Birthday Baby!

Today, our daughter has her first birthday. DiDi is one. This is not going to be a long post, because I cannot dwell on the fact that we are missing this day. This big day. It is too hard to think about for any amount of time. I can't linger on the firsts we have missed, just on the ones we will actually get to experience. I can't do anything about the former, so I will try to focus on the latter. We are celebrating with her in spirit, and I am even baking a cake. For those of you who know me at all, you can pick your jaw right up off the floor. It's from a mix, ok?! I may even take a little photo of it to share the hilarity with you tomorrow. If you are reading this on the 30th, please take a moment to send good thoughts and wishes her way. I hope her care package made it in time. I hope they do something special for her today. I hope she gets extra attention and love. I hope a lot of things. Happy Birthday, my love. We will finally see you very, very soon. * Regarding the photo, I am clearly not a computer graphics wizard, ok? Don't mock me too much...

Friday, January 26, 2007

Retro Friday

Wow, two posts in one day. Never happened before, unlikely to happen again... I was checking in with Mrs. Figby, and I see a reference to Retro Friday. While I can't top her hilarious photo, I will share this one of me. My mother sent this to me shortly after we got our referral, and I forgot about it until I saw the Retro Friday reference. Damn, I was a cute kid, wasn't I? What in the world do you suppose I am thinking in this shot?!

Ups and Downs

I'm certainly familiar with ups and downs after 16 months of them during our wait for referral. And in theory, I knew they would continue (and will continue once we are home), but knowing this doesn't seem to make it any easier. And some of the downs are actually unrelated to the adoption, although it is magnifying their impact... Downs for the week:
  1. I may not be getting my annual bonus from my employer. I recognize that we have had a horrible sales year (my company is primarily in the mortgage industry), but employees have always been reassured that 2/3 of our bonus is based SOLELY on our own performance, completely independent of company performance. Bonuses are a big chunk of many people's salaries -- for me it is more than 20%. And they come out the second pay period in Feb. To wait until the month before to potentially yank these funds is just unconscionable. Coming at the beginning of my leave (i.e. travel expenses and time off without pay, other than some PTO), it is a double blow. We will recover, but it is a huge shock. I am sick to my stomach, and at this point I just want to know one way or another if it is happening.
  2. TAs seem to have come for 80-90% of this past referral batch, but not for our agency. This means that we will be at the back of the line for getting a good date for our Consulate Appointment (i.e. soon after Chinese New Year). This is a big down for two reasons. First and foremost, it means a longer wait to meet our daughter and bring her home. I know it is just a matter of weeks, and for those who are still waiting, that seems minor. But for us it is not. Second, it might keep me from meeting some of my online/blogging friends. If we travel quite a bit later, we might completely miss them, and that would break my heart a little. As I mentioned previously, this group has become like family to me, and Guangzhou might be my only chance to meet some of these wonderful people (Corinne, Katie, Sparky, Kikalee, Am Family...).
  3. The stress of #1, combined with the general "we are so not ready" panic that has set in at our house, has made R and me cranky and easily irritated by each other's every word. We know this is a time when we need each other's support, and we need to treat each other very kindly. And yet, we are not. We're working on it though.
  4. The contractor who will be backing me up while I'm out on leave started this week. She's great, very capable, very take charge and digging right in. Sounds like an up, right? Well, it has ended up being a harsh reminder to me of several things -- first, that I've become a little lazy at work and am coasting a bit; second, that I have fallen behind in a few technology-related things (normally a strong suit for me), and third, that I've lost a good chunk of my sense of style. Don't laugh! She's stylish in a funky in a non-threatening way (no attitude or pretention about fashion), and I'm finding myself envious that she clearly has a signature style. I'm pretty sure I used to...

Ups for the week:

  1. My travel mate, Karin. As I was writing #2 above about TAs, she emailed me this: Don't get bummed out yet! [Our agency] is very particular in what days of the week they schedule the CA appts for, and with our small group (4 families), they will get us in! This is my educated guess...if they try and schedule our consulate appt on a Thursday (which they kind-of referenced at one time with the extended stay in Guangdong Province), then maybe they will shoot for a CA on March 15. We will need to be in country at least 14 days prior to that (I am planning for a 17 day trip), so that would mean travel at last week of February. That is what I am going to hope for until I am told something different! Why can't I be like this?! Bless her heart, the message cheered me up. And I'm just ignoring the part about 17 days in Guangzhou, ok?!
  2. My husband is adorable. A big up. Despite my comments in #3 above, I have been so happy with R as a "father to be" since our referral. He had really disengaged about things over the past few months. When I would try to show him other referral photos or relate stories about another family's time in China, his response was generally "if it's not about our referral/daughter, it doesn't really matter." It was worrying me, but ever since we saw our daughter's face, he has kicked into full-on father mode. He talks to her picture, has started reading some of her books (with voices no less!), and just generally has become "fully engaged and with the program" guy.
  3. I worked out before I went into the office this morning and took home half of my lunch in a doggie bag. Baby steps, but ones I need to keep taking.
  4. We have a nice weekend ahead -- happy hour with friends downtown at a jazz club tonight, coffee and shopping with LimboForLibby tomorrow, and lunch with our travel group on Sunday.
  5. I did two loads of teeny tiny laundry last night. Made me smile.

OK, can you tell I needed to make sure there were more ups than downs? I'm a simple girl with simple needs...

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Shower-palooza

It's been a whirlwind week, starting with a lovely, evening cocktail shower thrown by my former co-workers, a Sunday brunchy shower with family and friends, and a Monday shower with my current co-workers. It looks like a baby store exploded in the nursery. It was quite overwhelming in the most wonderful way. After years and years of attending baby showers, it didn't seem quite real that it was for me. Really? For me?! And I worried about feeling awkward opening all the gifts in front of everyone, but it seemed ok. It certainly wasn't hard to genuinely ooh and aah over everything. I cannot believe people's thoughtfulness and generosity, starting with my mother and sister. My sister has been shopping for our girl since day one. She is going to be the most amazing aunt. And I think we will have more things to bond over, since she and I aren't always very close. This will be my mother's first grandchild, and she is going completed nuts, in almost completely positive ways. She is not particularly crafty/domestic, but in the past few years, she has embroidered adorable tea towels for me and my sister, which is an amazing feat for her. She actually took photos to prove she made them! She definitely outdid herself for a shower gift. She hand embroidered an intricate and gorgeous Noah's Arc quilt -- had the quilting on the back handdone by a friend. I am not a crier, and I cried like a little baby. It is beyond description. My friend Kim will be my daughter's godmother, and she could not attend the shower (lives 7 hours away and has two small children herself), but she sent the stunning mother/daughter bracelet from Red Envelope (says mother and daughter in English on one side and Chinese on the other). Plus, the very fun Good Fortune Blocks, also from Red Envelope. We're going to employ them on our daughter's 100th day with our family, which is as close as we can get to the original tradition. I had to laugh at some of the "career callings" on the blocks -- should we hope for teacher, umpire or yoga instructor? A final treasure is a piece of Chinese peasant art that a dear friend bought recently in China and gave to us as a shower gift. It is a painting called "Mother and Child," and the style and colors are completely captivating. I couldn't bring myself to put it in the nursery, so it is front and center in the dining/living room where I can look at it all the time. What a unique and priceless gift. And I have to say that blogging buddies are the best. Not only did the dear Diana bring lovely items to the cocktail shower (adorable outfit, bear and fluffy bath towel), but she also brought me the most precious package with custom stickers, memo pad and travel journal, all with YuanDi's photo on them. Plus a onesie with a hand-beaded ladybug on the front. SO cute. And LimboForLibby brought us the Calin Yang doll, which I just adore. In fact, my mother rocked Calin in the nursery so much that it was making me nervous (she knows it's a doll, right?). It's YuanDi's first doll, and it's just perfect. I would post more photos but Blogger is being a pain today and will only let me upload the tornado of stuff photo above... So, I'm sighing and smiling at my beyond-wonderful family and friends. I'm completely out of adjectives. Drained. Oh, except for "holy crap," when I heard that some people in our referral batch just got their TAs and leave next week. Next week?! I am SO not ready yet! Holy crap!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Nesting

It was wonderful to have a 3-day weekend to get more organized and make some progress on de-cluttering our house. If our girl is walking, we'd better be ready! OK, I really don't think she's going to be walking at 13 months, but I want to be prepared just in case. We've started on our care package, which we are trying to keep very small at the recommendation of our agency. Sounds like most of the mail to our SWI is delivered via bicycle, and anything more than a large padded envelope may be delayed or not delivered at all. So we settled on a small blankey/lovey (not sure if the bodiless duck is cute or creepy, but the size is right), a teething book, a photo album, two disposable cameras and a letter with a short list of questions for the nannies. Plus, I think I'm going to add some candy for the nannies to share. I would love to include toys for the other children, but I can't come up with a way to do that and keep it to an envelope-sized package. The book is very fun, even though my husband teased me for buying our little girl a "John Deere" book. It doesn't have words, just adorable farm animal illustrations. The pages are stuffed with crinkle paper, so very fun and tactile. The pig page has a squeaker, the sheep page has a rattle/bell, and it has a teething toy on a thick bungee in a back pocket of the book. I think it's precious. Speaking of precious, I was surprised when the highchair we agreed on was the in-your-face pink Prima Pappa. I love the way it looks in the kitchen -- a big ol' obstacle announcing that a baby is finally on the way! It's full-on baby assault in the next week with a shower Thursday night, one Sunday afternoon, and one thrown by my co-workers next Monday. It's overwhelming, and I always struggle with the onslaught of gifts. We so sincerely appreciate every item that is given to us, but it is hard to express that sincerity over several hours of opening gifts. The reality of it all is hitting home. Hard. Could not sleep last night, and sleep is my #1 talent. Somehow, I don't think that part is going to get better...

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

But What Will She Wear?!

This question is a running joke in my family. I have practiced extensive retail therapy during our 16-month wait, but I've done it pretty frugally. First, I have had extremely generous friends who have given us lots of lovely things. Second, I am an end-of-season clearance connoisseur, and I have found so many great bargains. I couldn't resist this today. It's Baby LuLu and SO yummy. And it's the first thing I've allowed myself to buy in a 12 month size. Based on YuanDi's updated medicals, she's still pretty small (but right on target for her age in China). I haven't thrown all reason out the window, it was half price!

Monday, January 08, 2007

Hard to find the words

To say that the past few days have been overwhelming is, of course, a gross understatement. Wednesday was a blur, accented by a bad cold on my part. Getting the call went pretty much as I expected, and yet it was still such a unique experience. After years of waiting, to suddenly be a family of three because of a phone call is unreal to say the least. One of the biggest surprises is that so many adoptive parent concepts that I scorned have turned out to be true. The first surprise is that the pain of waiting has all but evaporated. I will never forget how hard it was to wait to see her face, but the mental and emotional weight of that pain is gone. People said it would happen, and it made me crazy when they said it. But it turned out to be thankfully true. The second surprise is the depth of feeling that was inspired by her picture. I know it is a complete cliche', but she is just ours. We felt immediately that she was our child. I'm not saying we wouldn't have had those same feelings if she had been a different child, a different photo, but the fact is that we felt like we knew her right away. And I do love her already. It's not the same type of intense, bonded mother-child love that I hope to build over time. But it is a love. And more of an intense love than I expected. A final surprise has been how positive my online sharing experience has been. I have heard horror stories about blog stalkers and crazy internet posters, and I almost didn't put her name and photo on the blog. But other referral photos have meant so much to me during the wait, I couldn't bear to hold back. And the response has been so gratifying. All of your lovely comments and support are appreciated more than you could ever know. Right now, I just feel so loved. I am not a gushy, sweety-pie gal generally, but this experience is bringing out that side of me. My family and friends have showered us with glowing accounts of her beauty, endless offers to babysit, and best wishes for our trip. Let's see if this feeling can be sustained while waiting for our travel approval...

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Cutest. Baby. Ever!

We got the call today at 10:17 a.m. that we have a daughter! Lian Yuan Di was born January 30, 2006, and she is waiting for us at Lian Jiang Welfare Institute in Guangdong. Yuan means "primary "or "original," and Di means "to lead." I'm sure she will soon be the primary leader at our house! Check out how she has her fingers crossed. Us too -- we are so lucky! Her last medical exam was 11-03-2006 (which is our anniversary), and she weighed 18-1/2 pounds and was 27 inches long, which is right on track for that age. I just want to pick her up and hug her. The interesting thing is that she looks so much like my husband's baby pictures. As soon as I saw her, I knew her. I know this baby. It was surreal in the most wonderful way. Now, I can’t believe we have to wait two months to bring her home… Congratulations to everyone who became parents today, and my thoughts are with those who just missed the cutoff. I definitely know how much that hurts.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Ready for a New Year!

I feel like I am waking up from a long, sometimes bad dream. I'm not quite fully awake, but I'm getting there. After the months and months of waiting, it is finally almost here. We should see our baby's face this week, probably on Wednesday. I can't believe it, and it doesn't always seem real. Maybe her face will make it seem real? I hope so. A friend summed it up well on her blog when she said that sometimes "getting a referral" just seems like the next step of things that happen to people on the internet. This statement really hit home for me. I've become pretty engaged in the online adoption community, and it has been a positive and supportive experience. It has truly sustained me during the last few months of the wait. On the downside, it does take some of the reality away from the whole situation. I need to remind myself that she is real, a real child. Our child. Not just a photo to post on my blog. It sounds idiotic, I know. Of course she is real, right?! I've spent so much energy trying to restrain my emotions the last few months, I am not sure I will know how to let them out. But it is a new year. A new start. The beginnings of a new family. I smile just writing that word -- family. There will finally be three of us. She will be here, in our home and in our arms. What happier thought could there possibly be right now? Just a few more days, and our new year will really begin...

Friday, December 22, 2006

Hormonal Holiday Greetings

These holidays have been a whirlwind of emotions for me. One minute I'm up, the next I'm down. I'm festive! I'm cranky. I'm giddy! I'm numb. It's feeling less like Christmas and more like early menopause most days... Today, I am trying to focus on being festive. We had a lovely, wet snow yesterday; the kind that sticks to the trees and makes everything look postcard perfect for Christmas. And tonight we're having our coffee crowd friends over for cocktails and dessert. I made frozen mint chocolatinis. Mmmmmmm. Of course I had hoped and hoped that we would finally see our daughter's face before Christmas. But that was more about my mother and my in-laws than me. It would have been wonderful to share that moment with them in person, rather than via phone calls and emails. I know we will see her very, very soon, and most of the time I am at peace with that. What has been the most comforting thing to me these last few weeks (and months) is the wonderful online community I have discovered. I was not a blogger, chatter, poster, or any of those things a year ago. Today, some of the people I feel closest to are those I have discovered online. First there is Diana, who is not a true "online friend," since a co-worker introduced me to her. We have gotten to know each other through emails, coffee chats and a mind-numbing 7 weeks of Mandarin classes, and she has been unfailing in her support and kindness. Then there is Emanuel, who posts on my beloved Rumor Queen site. Of course, her posts are less frequent since she came home with her daughter this summer. When I found out she lived in my area, we had lunch, and I drooled over her beautiful girl from Chongqing. Her blog isn't public anymore, but she posts updates and photos often, which is like water in the desert for a waiting Mom like me! And then I met C (whose fabulous blog is PW protected, sorry). She has the same 9-9 LID that I do, and we started commenting on each other's blogs. That turned into a few emails, and now she is a friend that I can't wait to meet in Guangzhou. I so enjoy her intelligence, warmth and snarky sarcasm. Sunnyice discovered my blog a while back, and now she is a blogger too -- my apologies to her husband. We've also met for coffee, and next we're going to introduce the husbands. It's so very match.com... We have a great deal in common, and I can't wait for her to get her referral (her LID is Dec '05) so our girls can play together! Finally, there are the others I hope to meet in China -- Sparky, Kikalee, maybe even American Family. Plus there are so many other bloggers who I've learned so much from, like Chicago Mama, JenEx, Mrs. Figby, Mary Mia (I won't link to you all since most folks know where to find you)... The list is quite long actually. I never thought that I would find the comfort I have in this community. Thank you to all of my wonderful friends who have helped me keep my chin up over the past year. Let's all have a joyful New Year, full of hope!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Ho Ho Hoping

So I was all prepared to be doing the "we're next" dance this month, and enjoy the holidays. It has not exactly worked out that way. I learned that some people had essentially been "skipped over" in the last two batches (for a variety of reasons, none of which would affect us in theory). Then, I learned that some people with LIDs after us did receive referrals in the last batch. Now I'm simply worried that all bets are off when it comes to the CCAA. I'm still staying mostly optimistic. I'm not wallowing in uncertainty or despair. But I do have the occasional twinge of what if we don't get a referral in the next batch?, which wouldn't have even occurred to me a month or so ago. My bigger issue seems to be a distinct lack of Christmas spirit this year... Does Christmas become just another day once you've left the nest and before you have kids around? The holidays with my side of the family are so quiet. Since my dad died about 10 years ago, it's just me and my husband, my sister and her husband, and my mom. We eat, drink and open presents, but it just feels a little empty, and very quiet. Now, with my husband's family, it's a different story. There are four kids in the picture (his sister's kids), and more siblings and spouses. It's just noisy and hectic and feels more like it should. It makes me sad, because my mother used to be all about Christmas. Contributing small amounts to a Christmas Club account all year so she could buy us nice gifts, putting up the tree right after Thanksgiving, bringing out cherished Christmas albums (Vienna Boys Choir at the top of the heap), planning the Christmas Eve buffet... And she would love to have the hectic chaos that I get to enjoy at my in-laws. But, like me, biological kids weren't in the picture for her. So she and my dad adopted their two girls (i.e. my sister and I), rather than having the big brood of kids I know she dreamed about. Not that she doesn't love my sister and I -- we are close, and we couldn't love each other more, really... But it's not the family she dreamed of, which I definitely understand. I'm forever struggling with expectations vs. reality. Just because a situation isn't quite how you expected, doesn't mean it isn't liveable, or even sometimes quite wonderful. When we first struggled with the oh-so-annoying "unexplained infertility," I would cry whenever a new friend or co-worker announced their pregnancy. I whined and moaned and "why me'd" day and night. I was so angry, so incredibly angry. Now, at 41 (ouch, hurts to type that number), I am amazed at how I have come to peace with our journey to becoming a family. I'm not sure other people quite believe me when I say that I'm happy that this is the route we are on to become a family. I'm no longer sad or angry when other people announce a pregnancy. In fact, getting pregnant at this point would initially upset me greatly; even break my heart a little. I'm just so excited about our little girl. I'm scared about some of the issues involved in International Adoption, but it's actually a good scared. I know we're not completely prepared, but we're getting there. It comes down to what feels right, and this feels right to me now. It feels like this is what we were meant to do -- how we were meant to become a family. Just like my parents, and how they grew their family. I can't imagine having any other parents. And I can't imagine having any other child than the one we're waiting for right now. What I think really deflated my holiday bubble are the new regulations announced by CCAA. They might mean that we are not able to add to our family after daughter #1. The new age requirements might rule us out -- and by just a week or two. I'm trying not to get too discouraged, and there still might be a chance. And I do believe that people who want to expand their family, and who are ready and able to do so, find a way to make it happen. That's not a bad holiday wish to hang on to. On that note, I think I'll go curl up on the couch with my husband and watch It's a Wonderful Life for the 100th time.

Friday, December 01, 2006

The "Looking on the Bright Side" Post

Have you ever felt that if you didn't have bad luck, you'd have no luck at all? Well, our log-in date was September 9, 2005. The official update posted last night by the China Center for Adoption Affairs (CCAA) showed a cut-off of September 8, so we missed this batch of referrals by a day. Yep. One day. So this is the point where we focus on the bright sides, right? Actually, I'm more than a little surprised to find us quite able to focus on the positives. In fact, it has been like a weight off of our shoulders. We know we are next. That sounds like such a simple phrase, but only other waiting parents really get what it means to KNOW you are next. C really said it best -- "We're the nextest next you can get. No one--I mean no one!--is more next than we are!" There are other bright sides of course. First, we pretty much know the rough time frame when we'll travel - late Feb/early March, which makes FMLA time off much easier to plan. Second, flights are cheaper after Chinese New Year. And, in chilly Minnesota, being on leave in March/April/May is slightly better than Feb/March/April since we might actually have a few days where we can be outside. There's a conference I had hoped to attend in the beginning of Feb. And my friends who want to throw showers can actually have a little planning time to do so. We're going to try to relax and enjoy the holiday season. I might even do the full tree thing. Just knowing, really knowing that we'll see her face for the first time sometime shortly after Christmas makes it so real. So solid and reassuring. I'm no Pollyanna, really, but I'm feeling so good about things right now I have truly surprised myself. This roller coaster ride is over. OK, don't laugh, I do know that there are many ups and downs to come in parenting -- more than I can possibly imagine. But this particular ride is finally coming to a close.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Moving from the limbo to the roller coaster

I’ve admitted that the limbo was never my thing, but I certainly used to love roller coasters. I’m so ready to get off this one, but it looks like we might have one more month of the ride. Last week, the rumors were positively radiant. “Good surprises!” “All of September!” “Well into September!” Where I had previously thought we had about a 25-30% chance of being included, I suddenly had a surge of optimism. I even got my husband a little excited, although he generally scoffs at rumors. Now, the rumors have crashed to earth, and the thud of a September 7 cutoff rings in my ears (our LID is 9-9-05). Another month of waiting and probably travel after Chinese New Year. I am trying not to take it to heart too closely since last month’s rumors underestimated the cutoff date. Instead, I’m trying to focus on our lovely Thanksgiving holiday. We spent two days with my mom and three with my husband’s family. A real highlight was the shower my in-laws threw for us. We played hilarious games like “Baby Jeopardy,” “The Newly-Parent Game,” and my favorite, the “Baby Relay Race.” We were timed on how quickly we could feed, bottle, burp, change, read to, sing to and tuck in a Cabbage Patch Doll. I was second, and my time was ok, but things degenerated by the time my nephews finally participated. Applesauce was flying through the air, diapers went around the doll’s head, and “Hail Mary” passes into the crib were not unusual. The best relay time was for my brother-in-law who looked down at the doll and yelled for his wife, “Hey! Come and get your kid!” I nearly peed my pants I was laughing so hard. In addition to many wonderful gifts, everyone from the 9-year-old to my 76-year-old mother-in-law gave us a copy of their favorite book as a child. They ran the gamut from The Very Hungry Caterpillar to Green Eggs and Ham to Walter the Farting Dog. (Plus one SAT Study Guide for Math – too hilarious!) My husband asked everyone to take his or her book and write a message to our daughter in the front. Just thinking about what they wrote (especially the kids) chokes me up. They are all so eager to meet and love our daughter; it is almost overwhelming. Even if we wait another month, I feel full of love and gratitude at the moment for our wonderful families. Not only were we showered with an embarrassing number of gifts, but also they have shared every step of the way with us, always ready with comfort, concern, support, and excitement.

It certainly makes the roller coaster ride much easier...

Thursday, November 16, 2006

We Interrupt this Blog for a Rambling Meme

OK, I'm planning a nice, long blog post about my trip to Chicago (just got back last night), but it's late, so I'm going to pick up a meme that's been making the rounds. I will post about my trip though, because it was a lovely trip...

1. When you looked at yourself in the mirror today, what was the first thing you thought?

Gah, face creases.

2. How much cash do you have on you?

$35, and happy to say that I forced myself to put $60 in cash left from my Chicago trip back into checking.

3. What word rhymes with "DOOR"

Galore.

4. Favorite Planet:

Venus - all you need is love, right?

5. Who is the 4th person on the missed call list on your cell phone?

My admin assistant, trying to track me down at my conference in Chicago.

6. What is your favorite ring tone on your phone?

My main ring tone sounds like I've hit the jackpot at a slot machine, I love it.

7. What shirt are you wearing?

Doing this before bed, so my white jammie top that says "cupcake" on the front (the sprinkles are actually little beads, it's very "cute" for my tastes).

8. Do you "label" yourself?

Often.

9. Name the brand of shoes you are currently wearing?

Socks only right now, but earlier I was wearing my favorite shoes of all -- acid green suede cowboy boots. Oddly practical footwear, really!

10. Bright or dark room?

Dark, with just the lamp over the desk on.

11. What do you think about the person who took this survey before you?

Enjoy her blog immensely, and can't wait to hopefully meet her in China.

12. What does your watch look like?

Silver with acid green band that matches the aforementioned boots.

13. What were you doing at midnight last night?

Just falling asleep after unpacking from Chicago.

14. What did your last text message you received on your cell phone say?

Haven't gotten into the text message thing.

15. Where is your nearest 7-11?

We don't have them here, it might be the first place I've lived that doesn't.

16. What's a word you say a lot?

Unfortunately, it's probably "sorry," but I'm trying to break that habit.

17. Who told you s/he loved you last?

My husband checking in on the phone in the office today.

18. Last furry thing you touched?

Hmmm, this is tough. Probably the turtle toy/nightlight gift from my friend Cheryl for the nursery. It projects the constellations on the ceiling. Too cute.

19. How many drugs have you done in the last three days?

Not a one, just vitamins and fish oil capsules.

20. How many rolls of film do you need developed?

Film? OK, I don't text message, but I'm not 80!

21. Favorite age you have been so far?

31. 40 was hard just because of the wait for our daughter. But otherwise, I love my early 40s. But I felt much more alert and dynamic at 35.

22. Your worst enemy?

Laziness and a tendency toward quick criticism.

23. What is your current desktop picture?

My godson, Geoffrey.

24. What was the last thing you said to someone?

Don't forget to ask your mom what we should bring for Thanksgiving dinner.

25. If you had to choose between a million bucks or to be able to fly what would it be?

I have so many flying dreams, but when it comes right down to it, I'd take the cash.

26. Do you like someone?

What are we, 13? Yep.

27. The last song you listened to?

"Hurt" by James Blunt, track 15 on the Cities 97 Sampler, just released today.

28. What time of day were you born?

6:00 a.m.-ish. Not sure if the birth certificate is 100% accurate.

29. What is your favorite number?

23 -- it's very significant in my family.

30. Where did you live in 1987?

Iowa City, Iowa

31. Are you jealous of anyone?

C said this very well "Yep, for this or that here or there, especially when it comes to having more money than I have. But I don't think there's anyone I know with whom I'd trade lives." Ditto.

32. Is anyone jealous of you?

Maybe occasionally. I like to think so since I have a pretty good life.

33. Where were you when 9/11 happened?

Getting ready to join a conference call (with our Manhattan office). It was so surreal. Still is sometimes.

34. What do you do when vending machines steal your money?

Shake them aggressively, but only if no one is looking.

35. Do you consider yourself kind?

Yes -- I think it's the most important quality a person can have.

36. If you had to get a tattoo where would it be?

On my back where it would show in a tank or a swimsuit, but never at work. I really wanted to get one when I turned 40, but I couldn't find a playmate to join me (or a piece of art that inspired me).

37. If you could be fluent in any other language what would it be?

Mandarin or French.

38. Would you move for the person you loved?

I've done it before, and I'd do it again.

39. Are you touchy feely?

With people I care about, yes.

40. What's your life motto?

Be kind to others, and it will pay itself back.

41. Name three things you have on at all times?

Contacts or glasses, wedding ring, watch.

42. What is your favorite city/town?

In the U.S. -- Boulder, in North America -- Zihautenenjo, in Europe -- Prague.

43. What was the last thing you paid for with cash?

Tortilla soup and a banana for lunch.

44. When was the last time you wrote a letter to someone on paper and mailed it?

Thank you notes maybe from birthday gifts? Wow, this is hard.

45. Can you change the oil on a car?

Nope, but my husband probably could (he does in the lawn mower).

46. Your first love: What is the last thing you heard about him/her?

He's recently single again and living in Austin. He emailed me to say he was sorry that his ex was sending all his exes weird emails. I decided not to respond, but I feel a little guilty about it. Not sure why.

47. How far back do you know about your ancestry?

My uncle is a huge geneology fanatic, so pretty far.

48. The last time you dressed fancy, what did you wear and why did you dress fancy?

Wow, it is pathetic that I cannot remember the last truly fancy-dress event I attended. The cruise down the Danube this summer was very dressy most nights. Five nights of dressy (I bought two new cocktail dresses -- fantastic bargains). It was fun at first, but I was beyond tired of it by the last night...

49. Does anything hurt on your body right now?

My back, I'm in an awkward position.

50. Have you been burned by love?

Yes, but I wouldn't change a thing.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Becoming a better person -- the hard way

They say, "what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger," and I'm actually starting to believe it. Frightening, huh? When our initial 6- to 7-month wait for a referral turned into 9 months, 10 months, 12 months, and now almost 14 months, I started to lose my grip. You don't have to read too many of my previous posts to see that I was on the edge much of the time. Well, I'm back to a good place, and I'm starting to think that the longer wait has turned out to not be a bad thing. Notice that I'm not going quite so far as saying that it's a GOOD thing, just not all bad. With the longer wait, I have had more time to really absorb how much our lives are going to change. I've had time to read more about adoption, attachment, parenting. I've had time to do more with my friends, my mom, my husband. I've had time to prove myself a little more at the office (and to my new boss), before disappearing for 12 weeks. I've had time to sign up for a Mandarin class. I've had time to do the nursery slowly. I've had time to meet others in the adoption community (some that I've even met online!). Most of all, I've had time to really appreciate how much I'm ready to be a mother and how much we really, really want this child. It sounds simple and obvious -- of course we're ready and want this, why else would we be doing it, right? Of course that's true, but the waiting has heightened the readiness, increased the want. I know we will appreciate our child so much, really appreciate what a gift she will be in our lives. Now if referrals are a huge disappointment again this month, I might take this all back and fall down into the dark hole again. But today, right now, I feel good. Positive. Full of anticipation (and a little panic) about becoming a mother. I'm just going to hold this feeling close for a while and hope it lasts.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

I've never been good at the limbo...

I remember 8th grade roller skating parties like they were yesterday. I was really good at roller skating -- I could even skate backwards. Strangely, this never seemed to translate to roller blading, which I basically suck at. But in all my rollergirl glory, I never mastered the limbo. Hated the music, and I couldn't skate under that damn bar other than at the maximum height. And I'm still not good at limbo. Waiting, wondering, having things out of my control... Not my forte' at all. Every time someone asks how the adoption is going, I know they are just being kind and wanting to show interest. Really I do. But I'm out of answers, and I'm losing my ability to grin through it. Part of my melancholy of late stems from my birthday -- always a time of reflection and wondering for me. When I turned 40 last year, I said I didn't need candles on my cake. This was the year where I finally would have it all -- everything I had ever wished for. My husband is, like most, deeply flawed and often drives me crazy. But I adore him like I've never adored anyone, and he continues to be the match for me that I never knew existed. My job is good; I make more money than I thought I would with an MA in advertising. We have a nice home in a great neighborhood, and my friends are the best. This was the year where it would finally come together with the child we have wanted so much. Am I putting too much weight on having a child completing the picture? You bet. I'm sure I am setting myself up for a big dose of post-adoption depression and all that it entails. But I can't help it. I am so ready to be a parent. I have been ready for a long time. This doesn't mean I don't enjoy our life now -- I really do. We've traveled a lot, been extremely social, and really enjoyed our time as a couple. But it's been time to expand our family for a while, and the uncertainty of the timing continues to wear at me and dull the edges of my life. I just feel blank too often. Lethargic and unable to get excited about things in my life, or even in other people's lives. I'm lonely in my sadness, just very lonely. It doesn't help that I'm currently traveling for business. Nothing is lonelier than business travel. Waiting in airports, being on planes, staying in hotels, working from strange offices where nobody knows you. No chit-chat, no coffee talk. OK, it's time to call for a car and order room service. I hope the book I brought is good, so I can escape for a while.

OK, I need to find another topic to blog about for a while... Any suggestions?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Lazy Sundays

We've gotten into some lazy Sunday morning habits lately. Sleeping in, newspaper perusing, big breakfast consuming... It's just so tempting. Nothing wrong with lazy Sundays, except that we've become less than, oh shall we say, religious about going to church. Sorry, some puns are just too easy. We finally dragged out butts to church this Sunday (at the crack of 11:00 a.m. no less!) for the first time in a few weeks. It was a great reminder of why it's good for me to stay in the church habit (no nun jokes, 'kay?). I affectionately refer to St. Joan's as "the world's most liberal Catholic church." I grew up Catholic, and, unlike 90% of those I seem to meet, I had no traumatic experiences. AND I went to Catholic schools to boot! No ruler beatings, evil nuns or guilt-ridden tirades. Just nice nuns and groovy 70's guitar masses. Anyway, it has taken us a while to find a church to call home, but we joined St. Joan of Arc (SJA) a few years ago, and it has been a great fit. Engaged community, contemporary music and the occassional "Our Mother" instead of "Our Father" are all appealing aspects of SJA, but most of all, this church is definitely about putting your Christianity where your mouth is. Social justice, ecology, equality, selfless giving, and welcoming others "wherever they are on their journey" (that's actually their motto) are all central at SJA. This Sunday, the speaker was a professor of ecology from St. Olaf's -- a nearby college. He was not the most dynamic speaker, but his message was excellent. One comment that jumped out at me was that we all throw so many things away, yet there really is no "away" when it comes to trash. The speakers at SJA often make me think about leaving a smaller footprint in our planet's surface, and this was a prime example. Wanting less stuff, using fewer chemicals, leaving less of a trash trail, and just generally thinking about the impact we make on our environment by our everyday choices. Although it wasn't something he mentioned, the presentation made me re-consider an earlier thought -- I might consider using cloth diapers. If anyone has experience in that area, please let me know. I'm just considering at this stage, but I think it's a good option to ponder. We're also researching the option to switch to wind-powered energy at home, and next summer, I think we're going to purchase a weekly supply of produce and other locallly-grown goodies from an area farm (we're going to see if we can split it with a neighbor since it would be a lot of food for two adults and a toddler). I talk a lot about being environmentally conscious, but I think it's time to take it beyond the basics. Anyway, we also saw friends we haven't seen for a while, and I ran into my cousin, who is just a dear (and my only "local" cousin), and I wish I saw him more often. So, my lesson from this Sunday is that going to church is a good thing... Shoot, if I'd listened to those nuns a little more closely, I might have learned this lesson 30+ years ago, right?

Thursday, September 14, 2006

A Benevolent Creator? Me?

OK, I'll admit it, I am a sucker for online quizzes (cheesy magazine quizzes too). This was a lengthy one to complete, but my results were interesting. If you have 10 minutes or so, follow the bottom link to take the test yourself...
Link to my full report: My Personal Dna Report