Friday, March 28, 2008
40 (school) days until my last day of teaching...for who knows how long.
I met with my principal yesterday and officially told her that I'm not renewing my contract for next year. She was very supportive and said very nice things about hating to lose me and knowing that I'll be a great mother. She also said that she believes every woman should stay home with her children if she is financially able to do so, because it is so fun. We'll see! :) In any case, I was relieved to hear her say that she'll write me a letter of recommendation before the end of the year, so that if the adoption falls through or when I want to return to teaching, I'll be able to find another great job.
I'm very conflicted about this decision:
Cons to resigning: I really love my job. It might sound crazy, but I'm so grateful that someone wants to pay me to talk about literature all day. :) The school environment that I'm in right now is very community- and faith-oriented and I have great principals and wonderful co-workers. That is SO not a given in a high school, and I'm afraid I will never find its like again. And, two years ago I really hated my job. First-year teaching just sucks. The past two years I feel as though I've been discovering what teaching can be, and I was looking forward to next year being the best yet. Also, that extra income is a nice cushion that has allowed J and I to spend freely (almost) and still stay out of debt and save a lot of money over the past years. With a new baby and less income, we will have to be more careful about our budget. Finally, I'm deathly afraid of becoming a boring soccer mom or a TV addict. All of you, please tell me if I'm slipping into those patterns!
Pros to resigning: My teaching schedule currently has me leaving the house at 6:45 AM and returning home at about 4 PM. This is nine full hours away from Clio and doesn't include the time I have to spend (as an English teacher) grading essays at home in the evenings and on weekends. I don't know how I would parent a 1.5 month old (in the fall) and not crash my car on the Paseo bridge by falling asleep at the wheel. Also, my private school teaching salary is so pitiful that paying for quality childcare and the gas mileage (50 miles round trip every day) would reduce my salary to approximately minimum wage. For minimum wage, I'll stay home! Finally, I just want to spend the first few years at home.
When Clio (or her younger sibling) starts pre-school, I'll probably look into part-time work. When my youngest is in grade school, I'll probably look for full-time work. That's the plan.
Speaking of plans, J and I have come up with one for attachment parenting Clio. She'll sleep in a Pack 'n' Play next to our bed whenever I'm sleeping in the bed, but she'll sleep in her crib when she's napping and I'm not asleep (so that I can get something done). That way, we can balance the co-sleeping and getting her used to her crib. I'll try to carry her in a sling whenever possible during the day. We'll try this out for a couple of months and then transition her to her crib at night when a. my milk supply becomes sufficient (hopefully) or b. we decide that the attachment parenting is not helping my milk supply. We are NOT going to put her in bed with us. Not just because it sets a precedent that J dislikes but also because our beagle sleeps in the bed and it is just not safe to have beagle and Clio both on the bed.
Any normal pet owner might wonder why we don't just kick Apollo off of the bed? Well, let's just say that he's not happy sleeping on the floor, and when Apollo is not happy about his sleeping arrangements, he pees on his sleeping arrangements. And why does he do this? He's a rescue dog from a shelter and when we got him at age 3 he had had some traumatic and neglectful living situations which have made his little brain a bit fuzzy and nutsy about some aspects of life. If you ever visit our home, we'll be happy to give you a tour of the various ways in which we've adapted our house to accomodate Apollo's fuzzy brain. And while Clio will of course take precedence when she arrives, I am not ready to mess with Apollo's sleeping habits. He is an old dog and deserves some respect!
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
That said, I'll try! First, a summary. We showed up at the office at noon (separately, as I had left from work and J had left from home after taking the whole day off). Riding up the elevator together we were so nervous we barely talked to each other. Once we got there, the pressure was off for a bit because our counselor let us know that the birthparents (arriving separately as well) were both running late. M (birthmother) arrived at about 12:15, and T (birthfather) arrived at 12:45. That gave us breathing room to chat with our counselor first, and then get to know M a bit on her own, before T arrived. We stayed until about 2, talking, and then J and I went to lunch and crib shopping (no purchase yet). Our next meeting is to take M to lunch on April 5th, and we've invited T, but he might not come. I'll probably be going to M's next doctor's appointment with her, in about a month.
Overall: it was awkward! How weird to meet people for the first time and for them to give you the greatest gift you've ever received! We knew it would be strange at first, which is why we're going to lunch. Outside the office and no longer strangers, I think everything will be much more relaxed.
Impressions of M: she is quiet and emotional at the same time. She teared up/cried several times during our talk, and I got the impression that she is already grieving the loss of the baby, which is normal and I'm glad that she wasn't flippant about it. She also has a good sense of humor and was quick to crack jokes to break awkward silences.
Impressions of T: he is a very intense person, the type who only speaks when he has something specific to say (as opposed to J and I, who will run on at the mouth endlessly when given the chance). I had a hard time reading him at first, but toward the end he shed a tear or two and I got to see his tender and emotional side.
Medical news: M had a doctor's appointment this morning (see prev. post) and the baby is weighing in on schedule; the due date is still July 6th. The doctor said the heart, spine, face, etc. all look fine and there is no concern at this point. M is on prenatal vitamins and said that she has been craving fruits and vegetables, so that is encouraging to me...maybe Clio won't be a veggie-hater when she's older!? Yeah, right. :)
What we discussed: our motivations for adoption, our emotions, interracial adoption, parenting style (no spanking, etc.), our faith (we explained what our church denomination believes), our plans for openness in the future (as yet undecided), plans to see each other in the future (lunch, dr. appts., etc.), the birth (M would like us there as soon as she goes into labor! Yay!), decorating the nursery, and names.
More about names: We asked for their opinions about our name list, and M and T both dislike Sophie, so we're crossing that one off. They both like Olivia the best, and T likes Anastasia. J and I have added another name to the list: Lucy. M and T were OK with Lucy, and it is J's current favorite. So, we're going to wait until she's born and then probably choose between Olivia, Anastasia and Lucy depending on what she looks like. We're pretty sure her middle name will be Grace, for any of the first names.
Next step: call our new lawyer tomorrow and get ready to start writing more checks!
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Pumping: well, yesterday went well, but today my nipples are sore. No big surprise, I suppose, but I'm not sure if it's because I was too aggressive yesterday (I really tried to be gentle) or because I'm expecting my period in less than a week. We'll see...
Monday, March 24, 2008
In order to satisfy my craving for planning, I spent much time on the laptop in New Orleans, creating lists of baby items we like to call registries. (Don't worry, I did this in the courtyard of our hotel, beneath a gauzy canopy, leaning on trendy pillows and sipping Abita Amber, not huddled in our room.) I'm told many mamas-to-be (adoptive and biological) are equally obsessive (and early) about registering.
And, of course, each item had to be carefully researched to check: price, consumer reviews and availability of free shipping (don't you LOVE Amazon?). Part of this process for me also involved making some major decisions about caring for Clio. Namely: cloth diapers or disposable? bottle or boob? (You might be confused about this last question, and never fear, I'll address it below.)
First question: cloth or disposable? My bias has always been toward cloth, because Amy F's pregnancy diary was the first diary I read on iParenting, and the reason I joined eventually. I can't remember precisely how I first came upon Amy's diary (it was for Peter, of course), but I read it all and was (and still am) in awe of her almost super-human mothering skills (i.e. homebirth, cloth diapers) because I had never before considered doing those things. However, I was also intimidated by the many brands and types of diapers that she uses and reviews, and her knitting skills (for covers). I am a quilter, but never got the knack of knitting. So, Linda's blog was key for me in showing a way to do cloth diapering more simply and cheaply (I'm hesitant to invest in expensive all-in-one diapers in case Clio is an only child). Particularly, this post from Linda's blog came at exactly the right time, as I was sitting in the courtyard sipping my beer and deciding about how to contain Clio's waste products. So, here's what I'm registering for:
3 dozen diaper service prefolds
1 dozen gauze weave flatfolds
1 dozen birdseye flatfolds
(my mom did cloth with my younger brother and suggested 5 dozen is a good amount, and I want to try some flatfolds because my mom says she liked them better)
4 snappis (do I need more?)
60 unbleached flannel baby wipes (too many?)
Bummis diapers covers (3 newborn, 6 small and 6 medium)
Also from Amazon:
Huggies and Pampers disposables and some disposable wipes, because I want to have some on hand for meconium and traveling
I'd appreciate any input from those of you who have done cloth regarding my quantities and choices...I like advice! Jen's advice was that I'm crazy to do this (I think her exact quote was "but, babies crap every hour!" (I love you, Jen!). So, she's betting me a measly $10 that I can't make it 3 months as a cloth diaperer. We'll see. :)
Okay, second question: bottle or boob? In a couple of the books we read before our adoption homestudy, I read about the possibility of breastfeeding an adopted infant. Again because of some of the women whose blogs/diaries I read, I know that breastfeeding is a wonderful and healthy thing, and I would definitely have been an avid breastfeeding momma for my own biological babies if I'd had any. My brother and I were breastfed for the first year, and my husband was breastfed, so it's not a weird thing in my family at all. However, some of what I've read is very pessimistic about an adoptive woman's ability to produce very much milk at all. My debate was this: if we bottle feed, then J can help me out, whereas if I use an SNS (supplemental nursing system) or the Lact-Aid, the baby is still getting formula but I have to do it all, just as in breastfeeding (but even worse because the SNS/Lact-Aid needs to be cleaned and sterilized between uses, and it's expensive to buy multiple units). However, I finally found an article on the La Leche League website about how to help ensure that my body produces as much milk as possible: attachment parenting! Turns out that while adoptive women in our country tend to have difficulty producing enough milk to feed an infant, women in developing countries more easily produce enough milk. The difference? The researchers who did the study believe it is because the adoptive women in developing countries have the babies sleeping next to them at night and carry them on their bodies during the day. So, this will be controversial because J is adamant that Clio will not co-sleep. Stay tuned for new developments.
So, a few of the websites I read recommend that an adoptive mother begin pumping ahead of time, although her milk supply will take weeks to come in and will be only drops or a trickle until the baby arrives. Heeding this advice, my Avent Isis manual breastpump came in the mail today, and I went to Target to buy Lanisoh (since my nipples are SO not ready for this). Based on what I've read, I need to use the pump a couple of times a day for a few minutes at a time. I'll let you know how it goes; some women see drops in as little as 7 days after beginning ,while others take 12 weeks to see any milk. Wish me luck!
Friday, March 21, 2008
*Sensitive topics to be discussed below, so I apologize in advance if I inadvertently offend anyone.*
This little 4-year-old sweetie is the daughter of a friend (and that is J in the background, hunched over to fit in the frame and smiling in his typical closed-mouth way). We'll call her B.
Notice B's hair? How it looks like it's so close to being cute but instead looks very messy? Yeah, at this point she'd been staying at our house for a few days. Her mom is a single mother and was out of town for a bit, and we were happy to take care of B. It is certainly eye-opening to take care of a 4-year-old, but I enjoyed the singing songs and reading books and swinging in the park. It was exhausting.
B's mother is white and her father is black. The result is one of the most adorable little girls I have ever had the pleasure to know. She's not just cute, she's also got a spunky personality and is SO SMART. I rave about how smart she as if I had something to do with it. :)
So, when our counselor told us that Clio has a white birth mom and a black birth dad, J and I immediately smiled at each other and thought of B. Yay!
I hope it's normal that J and I have been obsessed with hypothesizing about what Clio will look like. I think it has to do with the fact that she won't look like us; so meeting her birth parents (only five days away now!) becomes extra-interesting. In their home study we learned that they are both tall, and her birth father is athletic, so now we are imagining Clio being a track star, volleyball spiker or basketball player some day. It's fun to imagine, since J and I are not tall or athletic.
Of course we know that Clio won't be a mini-B, she will be her own person with her own strengths and weaknesses. However, because she will be 1/2 black, I can't help but ponder all of the bi-racial people I "know:" my friend Nikki from 5th grade, Jordin Sparks, Barack Obama, the awesome actress/singer we saw in Rent last Friday, and a student in my senior elective literature class this semester, to name a few. I'm looking to them all for clues to who Clio might be, and yet realizing that these examples are false evidence. Nature and nurture are the keys here; Clio will get her "nature" from her birth parents and her "nurture" from us and from her upbringing (including all of the people, places and events this encompasses).
J and I read a book about transracial adoption before our homestudy, because we decided to "request" babies of all races. Based on reading that book, I have four primary goals for raising Clio:
That she will...
1. not feel pressure to deny her black ancestry or "pass" (if she is light-skinned) in order to fit into our family and our community.
2. grow up with role models of all races
3. be thoroughly knowledgeable in black/African-American history
4. have plenty of opportunities to participate in black culture.
So, now we need to work on identifying concrete actions to take in order to accomplish all of those goals. J and I feel totally up to the challenge, but realize that we have a lot to learn.
First hurdle: dealing with my grandmother, who has been known to say some shockingly racist things while protesting that she is not, in fact, a racist. We're planning to tell her next week, so I'll post after we do and let everyone know what happens. It will be three shocks in one: 1. that I'm infertile, 2. that we're adopting and 3. that Clio is bi-racial. I'm not sure which of the three will shock her the most, but we're praying that the conversation goes smoothly or that we'll be able to cope with anything hurtful she might say.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Anastasia means "resurrection"
Sophia means "wisdom"
Isabella means "God is my oath"
J wants to know why anyone ever needed a word for "elf army" in the first place? And why that would become a name?
But, we like all of the names and we enjoy seeing the results of the poll! So far Adrienne prefers Sophie/Sophia because Anastasia has pronunciation issues and the other two are too common.
This is true, Isabella is #5 and Olivia is #8 from 2007, whereas Sophie is #47 and Anastasia isn't even in the top 100. Isabel (actually, Isabelle) is #18 and Sophia is #13
Jen is convinced that Clio will be Olivia, and has started referring to her as such in e-mails, whereas my mother is referring to Clio as Ana when we talk. My head hurts! In a good way.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
July 18, 1998--J and I were married. I was 20, he was 25. We met in college (University of Virginia) two years before and it was "love at first date."
Early marriage--I was ready for kids right away, but J wanted to wait until we'd been married a few years. He thought it was healthier for our marriage and he may be right. I try not to think about this too much and torture myself about how fertile I might have been if we'd tried when I was 21.
2003--I went off the pill after having been on it for seven years.
2004--We began TTC and I (as nearly every infertile does) assumed we'd be pg within a couple of months. Nope. Instead, the longer I was off the pill, the screwier my cycles seemed to be. I purchased my lifetime membership to Fertility Friend :) and began a diary at preconception.com, where I met some of you! My cycles were so weird that I went to my gyn for advice, even though it hadn't been a year of TTC yet. I began Clomid.
2005--Clomid and Femara cycles. We decided to try IUI, but in pre-IUI ultrasounds found a cyst on my left ovary.
2006--Surgery for the cyst in April revealed stage 3 endometriosis, which my RE removed laproscopically. After recovery, we tried a few IUI cycles, and after they failed, my RE recommended IVF. We decided not to proceed, due to financial concerns.
2007--We began investigating adoption, found our agency in March, and completed our home study in June.
Of course, this timeline omits all of the hope, excitement, faith, tears, depression, resignation, etc., all of the emotions and humanity of the last 10 years. In 2006-2007 I struggled a great deal with bitterness and anger, and it has been a hard road to come back from those negative emotions. Even now, with the great news about Clio that we are celebrating, J and I remain cautious. Our adoption counselor made clear to us during our home study that 1 in 4 birth mothers change their minds and don't go through with the adoption. We are readying ourselves for that blow, but it is very hard to prepare for a baby and at the same time keep yourself detatched from that baby, just in case she is not your baby after all. However, we are hopeful that because the birth parents in this case are a bit older, they fully realize the decision they are making and are less likely to back out. However, we may be wrong.
As has been the case at every step of our infertility, we just have to wait and see.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
- We will meet the birth parents, be on a first-name basis with them, and will be able to establish a relationship with them (mutually-agreed upon, of course)
- We will tell Clio that she is adopted starting the day she is born, so that she grows up knowing the word and is not freaked out by the idea (at least no more so than is inevitable for any adopted kid)
- We will emphasize to Clio that she has two sets of parents and that any one of the four of us is not a better or lesser person than the others for the different roles they play in her life.
What does this NOT mean?
- We will not become close friends with the birth parents (i.e. hanging out every weekend) because it would be too hard/weird for everyone
- They will not drop in at our house anytime they want to see Clio
- They do not have the right to come take Clio back whenever they want to (at least not after she is born and the paperwork is signed at court)
From what we know so far (before actually meeting the birth parents), Clio's birth father is not interested in contact with Clio but is willing to allow her to come meet him someday when she's a teenager (if she wants to). Clio's birth mother has requested that we send her photos of Clio as she is growing up, and although she hasn't asked for letters, I'm sure we will be including letters to her along with those photos (and letters from Clio when she's old enough). I'm imagining that I'll probably send some photos once a month for the first year and then a couple of times a year after that (perhaps school portraits eventually, and a family photo at Christmas).
I'll have a better idea of what kind of relationship we'll have once we meet the birth parents next week, but there is a chance that we will communicate via e-mail or phone, hopefully even in person, while Clio is still in utero.
J and I learned about open adoption through some books recommended to us by our adoption counselor:
After reading these books, we are convinced that open adoption is the best choice for everyone involved, and we are grateful that the birth parents agree. It is fabulous to have complete medical and social histories for the parents and to have pictures to share with Clio someday.
On a side note, it is windy but pleasant in New Orleans today. Last night we enjoyed a St. Patrick's Day parade in the French Quarter, which was a lot of fun since I hadn't been at a parade like that since I was 13. It is very interesting that the beads they throw now are almost all the big, long strands that used to be such a treasure when I was here for Mardi Gras. Back then, most of the beads were the short, wimpy ones and the heavy, long strands were more rare and special. And no, I didn't flash anyone. :)
Monday, March 17, 2008
1. It was the first day of my Spring Break
2. We had cleaning ladies coming to sweep up the dog hair etc. before my in-laws arrived that evening
3. We were packing for our trip to New Orleans for the week of Spring Break (Saturday-Friday) and specifically getting ready for our flights the following day
4. We had tickets for Rent at the Music Hall at 8pm (we did go see it, and it was great)
5. I found out that some hacker/fraud/jerk (probably Nigerian?) had cracked my e-mail password (not so hard since it was four letters and I hear that they have technology to crack those easily these days) and had forwarded my e-mail to him/herself and then accessed my ebay account, changed my ebay password and proceeded to attempt to scam ebay sellers by using my 100% perfect feedback score as a way of luring them into a trap. When I finally figured this out, the scammer had purchased a laptop and a PS3 system with my ebay account, and had not yet paid for them (and yes, don't worry, I've changed my e-mail, ebay and paypal passwords as soon as I found out what was going on). Who knows how the person was planning to pay for these items, but my paypal account and credit cards are A-OK at this point. And the reason I found out that my e-mail had been hijacked? I guess I should have known something was going on when I hadn't received any e-mails at all for a whole day (that is very rare for me) but it was one particular e-mail that I was waiting for that finally wised me up to a problem and prompted me to have a particularly annoying and repetitive live chat sesson with an Indian customer service guy working for Earthlink (resulting in finding out that my e-mail was being forwarded to a scammer)
6. As I was finishing brushing my teeth at 9am, the phone rang and I went to the bedroom to pick it up. It was our adoption counselor, letting us know that there is a family who would like us to adopt their daughter. The counselor told me that she would e-mail me the birth family's home study, so that J and I could make a decision. Thus, I was waiting for a very important email and discovered that my e-mail was not working.
We did finally fix the problem, contact the counselor, receive the e-mail, call the counselor back, etc. Here is our tentative timeline for the future:
Now: freak out, discuss names, pinch ourselves, buy baby clothes (so far I've hit Babies 'R' Us, The Children's Place, Baby Gap and Steve and Barry's for sale items) and tell people (but not everyone, since the adoption won't be finalized until Clio is born). And, celebrate St. Patrick's Day in New Orleans! Lots of green beads.
Wednesday, March 26th: meet the birth parents! We can't wait, for so many reasons. Chief among them being that we'll get a better sense of whether or not they seem committed to letting us adopt Clio, and we'll be better able to predict what she'll look like eventually.
Thursday, March 27th: officially announce my resignation (if the Wednesday meeting goes well) from my school (i.e. not turn in my contract for next year)
June: prepare the nursery and take our 10th anniversary vacation (which was supposed to be in mid-July, but now we'll be sleep-deprived and probably happy to just have a nice steak and a glass of wine for our actual anniverary on July 18th)
July 6th: Clio's due date (her birth mother's first baby was born at full-term, so we're hoping for the same)
So...the most interesting day of my life.
As J became more talented at making his own wine, and decided to begin creating professional-looking labels for his creations, we realized that we needed to name our production. We came up with Olympus Winery after some discussion, in honor of the dogs.
This is basically a long-winded way of explaining the name of this blog. We heard on Friday morning, March 14th, 2008, that we have been chosen to adopt a baby girl who is due on July 6th. Ever since hearing the news, we have a hard time talking about anything else. For the first couple of days we were referring to the baby as "the baby" or "her" or "she" and doing so helped us adapt to the idea that we are going to become parents. However, we soon felt that it would be more personal and convenient to give her a nickname. We decided that this nickname shouldn't be cutesy (like "peanut" which is used frequently by expecting parents) but also shouldn't be the name we actually want to call her. Reason being, this deal is not 100% reliable. The birth parents could change their minds at the last minute, and if we call the baby by the name we like, it would be even more painful to lose her at the last minute. So...we decided to go back to our Greek theme and settled on Clio, which is the name of the muse of history.
More on Clio to come...