Wednesday, July 30, 2008


So, I wasn't kidding about how I'm going to be spending my time these next couple of months, waiting for Clio. I dragged my sewing machine and supplies upstairs (from the basement) for better light, and in the last 24 hours I've created:

3 custom onesies, using fabric scraps appliqued to the front of plain white newborn onesies. One is Pooh and Piglet, one is Tigger and the other is a fairy (and yes, the fairy one is on crooked, I don't know why! I pinned it first, but...oh well, she'll only wear it once anyhow.). 2 embellished infant prefold diapers. The bottom one is lilac fleece and the top is the same fairy print I used for the onesie.
4 wool diaper covers made out of old sweaters. The two on the left are size small and the two on the right are mediums. I'm really in love with the color and softness of the two in front, while the two in back are a bit scratchier and more boyish colors, so I might end up giving them away on diaperswappers. If any of you want them, let me know. They were good practice and kept me busy, at least.

We'll be out of town this weekend, but next week I'll probably be working on a Christmas quilt that I started last fall and I'd like to have finished by Thanksgiving this year.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

All About Clio *Edited and Updated*

***Sorry, I realized that this post wasn't really "all about Clio," so I added more info below***

J and I feel cautiously optimistic, nervously joyful, fearfully excited about Clio.

The optimistic, joyful, excited parts come from:

  • A baby, a baby, a baby!!!
  • From the information we have, Clio should be born healthy
  • 25% of birthmothers change their minds, so statistically, this time it should happen, right? If my statistical calculation is wrong, please don't tell me because it will just depress me. Thanks.
  • Our social worker tells us that usually birthmothers who aren't sure of their decision won't choose a couple who's recently lost a baby because they don't want to risk hurting us further. Hypothetically we'll draw the sympathy of birthparents who are secure about their choice.
  • We feel like this was "meant to be" because we got the call on our anniverary and the very day I'd gotten my contract in the mail to resume teaching. I didn't have time to sign and return the contract between the time the mail arrived and we left for the airport, so the end result was that I was still technically unemployed and was able to e-mail my principals and let them know. They were disappointed, of course, about having to look for somebody for the position, but they know me well enough that they are happy for us. I am relieved that I won't feel obligated to teach for almost an entire school year with an infant. Those of you who know me well or who know high school English teaching well understand how difficult it was going to be for me to do both well.

The cautious, nervous, fearful parts come from:

  • We also felt like Lucy was "meant to be." The call about her came the day after I received my inital contract from the school in March, and the day before we left for our New Orleans vacation.
  • There are several similarities between M&T and R&G: both M and R looked at our profile book and "just knew we were the perfect adoptive parents." Both M and R state(d) that their reason for relinquishment is that they feel they "can't provide the type of home that the baby deserves." Both couples began broken up, but M&T got back together right after we met them and signs point toward R&G potentially getting back together. All four have children already (R has an 8-year-old boy and a 3-year-old girl and G has an 18-year-old son). Both couples are older (given that the stereotypical birthparents are teenagers or college students). M had T as a birth coach and R wants G to be her birth coach.
  • This is so soon after losing Lucy that we are still in the process of grieving her and can't just forget about her in order to be wholly excited about Clio.
  • We haven't met them yet; we'll meet G next week but won't meet R until September or so.
  • ***Updated: R doesn't want us in the delivery room like M did, but she does want us to be at the hospital and our social worker, Hillary, says that at this point R doesn't want too much contact with the baby after birth. So, even though we are scared about being heartbroken again, we are going to be spending a lot of time with Clio after her birth because, for goodness sake, she needs somebody to cuddle her and coo over her.
  • This adoption will be interstate because we are on the Missouri side of Kansas City and the birthparents are on the Kansas side. So, we'll have to spend about a week in Kansas before we can legally bring Clio home and there might be other legal complications we don't know about yet. We'll meet with our lawyer at some point to find out how much more this might cost and how much longer it might take.

I'm the type of person who needs to be working toward a goal in order to be happy, so my task in the next few days is to figure out productive ways to use my time in the next two months so that I don't give myself an ulcer worrying. My current ideas (and suggestions from Holly, thanks Holly!) are: quilting, sewing, scrapbooking, volunteering, cleaning and exercising. Any more ideas for me?

***Updated: About naming, we are still stewing over the fact that we "lost" the name Lucy, which we love, and we don't want to choose another name we love only to lose it to another failed adoption. So, we've decided we'll be calling her Clio until we bring her home after court. At that point we'll announce her name and I'll post it here, but until then we aren't telling!

***Updated: I don't have ultrasound pics this time, and I don't know if I'll ever get any, but based on her birthparents' physical descriptions, Clio should be average height (R is 5'6" and G is 5'9"), have brown hair (both R and G do) and light eyes (R's are blue and G's are brown, but all four of their children from previous marriages have blue eyes), be right-handed (both R and G are) and nearsighted (both R and G wear glasses). Both J and I wear glasses too, so Clio will fit right into our nearsighted family! Clio will probably have a very nice skin tone, as G has an olive type complexion, and so she won't burn in the summer as easily as J and I do (we are pasty and burn more than tan).

***Updated: Clio will be smart, since G was on the honor role in high school and graduated and R had a 3.8 GPA and also graduated from high school. Both of them stated that math was their least favorite subject, so Clio might feel the same way? Who knows. Other traits that Clio might have are creativity (R was involved in acting), a love for reading (from G), a love for the outdoors (from G) and an extroverted personality (from R).

***Updated: For the record, neither R nor G believe at this point that they want much contact with us or Clio after the adoption. They believe that occasional photos and letters will be a good arrangement. We are fine with this, but we were also fine with M and T wanting to be invited to her baptism and first birthday party. The reading we did before starting the adoption process convinced us that openness is healthier for the child. I wrote more about this in my post "Open" in the archives for March 2008.

Finally, a word about race. Lucy was bi-racial and I made race a topic of conversation on the blog, so I feel like I need to address it for Clio. Clio is a Caucasian baby. I have to admit that this makes things easier for J and I because we won't have to work as hard to help Clio develop a strong racial identity. On a related topic, I made a choice today to remove a widget I've had on the side of the blog that linked to the Anti-Racist Parent blog. The reason I removed it is that it has always bothered me that the widget is wider than the sidebar on Blogger and was cut off. I'm a bit of a perfectionist and I don't like things to be cut off or asymmetrical. That had been bothering me, but I wanted it there because I thought other transracial adoptive families might eventually visit my site to read about Lucy and would benefit from knowing about the blog if they hadn't discovered it already. Now it's a lot less likely that my blog will pop up when people search for transracial adoption in Google, so I felt like I could "scratch that itch" and remove it so that everything lines up nicely. I'm probably being oversensitive here, but I want to make clear that I'm still reading that blog and I'm still committed to being an anti-racist parent to Clio. The blog isn't just for transracial or biracial families. I highly recommend it to all parents.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Mexico Redux

We are back from Mexico after an amazing week and there is just too much to say about it, so I'm going to condense our experience into some vignettes...

...sitting on the plane trying to convince myself that yes, Hillary really did just call us and tell us about another baby. Pinch myself. Repeat, yes, Hillary really did just call us...

...trying out my high school Spanish lessons at the taxi stand and feeling like an idiot because I can't remember what cien means right away (it means 100). The taxi was 140 pesos, which is about 14 dollars...

...realizing with trepidation that the marks on the road indicating "lanes" don't mean much in Merida. They are more of an indication of which direction to drive...

...trying frantically to conjure up my high school Spanish lessons as federal soldiers wave our rental car to the side of the road for drug inspection on Saturday. They had machine guns. They laughed at my Spanish and let us go. Thank God... the hotel on the first night, teaching J to say "Lo siento, no hablo Espanol" which means "I'm sorry, I don't speak Spanish" (he took French in school). He tried this line out on an old man at the pool on Wednesday and received a look of shocked disbelief. The elderly Mexican probably thinking "What is this man doing in the middle of nowhere in the Yucatan without knowing Espanol?!"...

...realizing with delight that the hotel would serve us breakfast tacos every day...

...exciting my palate with all of the haberneros, jalapenos and avocados I could ever want...

...experiencing my first "tamarindo" margarita. A wonderful combination of spice, salt, lime and tequila that cannot be adequately described, or replicated in the U.S., I imagine...

...paying $60 for a bottle of wine on Saturday night and then going to Campeche's Wal-Mart on Sunday to stock up on better and cheaper cerveza and vino...

...walking back into our fancy 5 star hotel carrying clinking Wal-Mart bags of booze and giggling like teenagers...

...being upgraded to a suite at the Hacienda Santa Rosa and realizing we had a private pool/hot tub (used to be a well/cistern in its hacienda days) that the staff lit with candles and decorated with flowers each night while we were eating dinner...

...swinging in a Mayan style hammock while reading a good book and listening to the birds chirp in the jungle...

...stopping by the side of the road to ask a local for directions to "las zonas archeologicas" (the archeological zones, as was printed in our map) and having her smile and nod, responding, "Si, las ruinas!" (Yes, you mean the ruins). Yeah, that...

...visiting the remote agricultural village of Kanku, down a long dirty road, to find the local Mayan ruins and being directed by a local shopkeeping to "drive down that dirt road there until you find a truck and that guy will drive you to the ruins. You can't get there in your car." Is this is the definition of "off the beaten path?" I think so. We weren't dressed for Indiana Jones type exploring, so we drove off to a more touristed set of "ruinas"...

...climbing steep Mayan temple pyramids at Edzna, Uxmal and Chunchucmil and realizing while climbing up and down their steep steps that there is no way a U.S. landmark would let tourists climb up this high without guard rails...

...driving two hours to Celestun and renting a boat for $65 for a two hour tour of the nature preserve and bird species, only to have a thunderstorm make it the most miserable, wet, cold, windy vacation experience of our lives and we only saw one flamingo, from a distance. Evidently the flamingos hide in the jungle during thunderstorms and didn't care that we paid so much to see them... conclusion, eating more and better seafood in one week than we have in the rest of our lives, discovering the delights of fish stuffed with shrimp, eating such wonderful coconut shrimp with apple dipping sauce (La Pigua restaurant in Campeche and Merida) that we had to go to the same restaurant twice in one week, enjoying fresh picante salsa with every meal, and somehow not gaining any weight because the food was all so fresh and healthy.

A tip for travelers to Mexico: something we noticed and remarked upon often during our stay. In Mexico it is evidently not customary to bring "la cuenta," the check, to the table when it is clear that the party is finished dining. There were times when the servers actually cleared away everything from the table except for water glasses (and yes, we had declined dessert) and still wouldn't bring the check unless asked. It was so odd to us, as we are used to the U.S. tradition of the server dropping off the check very promptly after dinner, if dessert is refused. In one way, this Mexican tradition is nice. It gives diners a chance to feel relaxed and talk after dinner without feeling rushed out of the restaurant. On the other hand, if the server is being elusive, it can be quite frustrating and puzzling. So, be forewarned. You must ask for the check. A corollary to this: we also noticed that most times we had to ask for another round of drinks (beer mostly). A server would come to the table and collect our empty beer bottles and not offer us another round. I know, strange, right?! If I have any Latino readers who can explain this phenomenon to me, please do so! Are the servers just turning up their noses at free money or is it considered rude to offer more cerveza? I'm curious.

We did get the homestudy for R and G last night and I'll start working on a post about it...thank you to everyone for your kind comments about the new Clio!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Happy Happy Happy Happy Happy Anniversary to Us!

I´m typing this from the ¨library¨of the Hacienda Campeche and what is the only thing that could tear me away from the cerveza and pool to sit inside and use a spanish language keyboard to update my blog?

Yesterday was our 10th anniversary and as we were sitting in the Kansas City airport, waiting to fly to Houston and then on to Merida, our social worker called. We were matched with another baby! It happened yesterday and she called us immediately and when J picked up his Blackberry she said ¨Happy Anniversary! Guess what?...¨ and told us that a birthmom chose us. We were thunderstruck, to say the least. We still can´t quite believe this is happening so soon after losing Lucy. The baby is due September 22 and it´s another girl! We don´t have many more details because we won´t get a copy of the homestudy until we get back home next Friday night, but for the record, the birthparents this time are R (birthmom) and G (birthdad). R is 28 and G is 44 and they are not together. We´ll be meeting them in the future, after we get back from Mexico.

Needless to say, this is the best anniversary present on the planet and we can´t stop grinning at each other. I simply can´t believe it. We are certain that the prayers of our family and friends are responsible for this miracle and we ask that you continue to pray for us and for R and G and the new baby (would it be too weird to call her Clio, too?).

I´m off to order a margarita and sit by the pool until dinner. Don´t hate me. :)

Thursday, July 17, 2008


Up until recently, I had a very clear vision for this blog. It was to be about Clio, not about me. Now I'm at a loss. Please tell me, in the fall, if I start complaining too much about my workload grading student papers. I don't want to turn into a whiny blogger. Too late? :)

Anyhow, now that the blog is not focused in the same way, it's time for true confessions.

Back in May something big happened and I haven't told many people about it.

***Warning, if you know me in real life and you're not interested in TMI (too much information), stop reading now***

Here's the full story, leading up to what happened in May:

I'd been having what was referred to in the 19th Century as "female troubles" for awhile. I never experienced this as a teenager, never knew that "endometriosis" applied to me, until I went off the pill in the winter of '03-'04 and my cycles went haywire to the extent that my OB/Gyn agreed to treat me with clomid even before J and I had been "trying" for 6 months and I was referred to an RE (reproductive endocrinologist) shortly thereafter.

By the way, my RE looks exactly like Dr. Green from ER (the one that died of a brain tumor a few seasons back) and so of course I instintively trusted him and wrote him lots of checks for treatment even though his office is an hour from my house. Sigh. He's great, though.

Anyhow, during the course of attempting IUIs, Dr. G found a cyst on my right ovary that he predicted was endometriosis. Shock to me at the time. He did surgery in January of '06 to confirm the endo, discovered Stage III (moderate) endo in my abdomen and removed it and the cyst. We then proceeded to try IUIs after my surgery. Needless to say, they failed. Dr. G recommended IVF and we decided to try adoption.

My "female troubles" got much better after the surgery, but gradually returned to just as bad, and then worse, than they had been before my first surgery. I didn't want another surgery, though, and was in denial, until it finally became too much to handle because I became almost incapacitated a couple of days each month.

I went back to Dr. G in May of this year ('08), which felt illicit because as part of our adoption contract we promised not to seek fertility treatment. Our social worker does this to make sure that couples coming to her for adoption are really serious about it, serious enough to grieve and accept that they will no longer try for a pregnancy. Meaning that, if we do decide to do IVF next summer, we will have to call her and take ourselves off of her list until we are done trying IVF.

So, when I went to see Dr. G I told him that I wasn't there for fertility treatment, but to treat my "female issues" because he had done my surgery almost 2.5 years before. He did an ultrasound and found that I had a huge fibroid cyst growing in my uterus and another endometriosis cyst on my left ovary. Wow, that really explained my incapacitation! I also felt like an idiot for not going to him sooner because when you're an infertile woman, about the last thing you want to find out is that there is a huge fibroid growing in your uterus, making it a very inhospitable environment for a pregnancy.

Dr. G recommended surgery right away to alleviate my symptoms (thanks, Dr. G, you're the best!) and the date was set for May 30, which also happened to be the day I was going to have my church baby shower for Clio. My friend, Holly, had already sent out invitations to the shower, so she had to then send out another round of cards letting people know the shower was being moved back a week. (Thanks Holly, you're the best, too.)

The surgery went well. Dr. G removed a softball-sized fibroid and my uterus sighed with relief. No, really. In other good news, the endometriosis was minimal and there wasn't much to remove, but he did also remove one large and a couple of small cysts from my left ovary. My recovery was a lot easier than it had been in '06. During that first surgery, I had a severe hyper-emetic (vomiting) response to anesthesia and was almost admitted to the hospital even though my surgery both times has been laproscopic and considered outpatient surgery. This time my anesthesiologist actually listened to me when I told him that I get really sick from anesthesia and I didn't suffer with the same reaction. So, everything seemed fine until I went back to see Dr. G for my follow-up to check my stitches.

At that point Dr. G told me some good news (my fallopian tubes are still clear and not scarred from endo, yay!) and some bad news. In removing my fibroid, Dr. G had to cut pretty far into the uterine wall. At my follow up, he let me know that I will never be able to have a vaginal birth if I were to become pregnant. I asked him if I could have a vaginal birth and would it be like a VBAC? He said no, it would not be like a VBAC and no doctor would support my decision to have a vaginal birth if I tell them about my surgery. He told me a horror story about a woman he'd treated when he was a much younger doctor who ignored the doctors' recommendations and had a vaginal birth after a surgery like mine, only to have her uterus rupture and the baby die.

The gist is that my uterus will probably be fine with a pregnancy, but won't tolerate contractions and I'll need a scheduled C-section. Ever since I started reading Amy's iParenting diary (years ago now!) about her pregnancy with Peter and her home birth, I've wanted to have a medication-free birth with a midwife, or at least a doula, if I were ever to get pregnant. I read a lot about it and felt very good about my decision. (By the way, the title of Henci Goer's wonderful The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth always made me wonder if there is a companion volume: The Complete Idiot's Guide to an OK Birth. :) Sorry, bad joke.)

It might seem silly for me to care so much about this since I've never been pregnant and we are trying to adopt, but it became very important to me during my years of fertility treatments, etc. I've never completely given up hope of pregnancy; even though it hasn't happened, it is possible. It has been difficult for me to come to terms with the fact that I'll never have that idealized natural birth I've been wishing for for years. I don't like the words "never," "can't," and "won't" being directed at things I want. I'm stubborn. I get it from my Norwegian great-grandpa.

I didn't ask Dr. G about twins, but I would imagine that the condition of my uterus would make a twin pregnancy even higher risk than it already is. Given that twins are more common with IVF (statistics online range from 25-40% of IVF treatments resulting in twins), this worries me a lot. The only thing I can think of worse than never being pregnant or never having an adoption go through is the idea of a late-term miscarriage, stillbirth or SIDS death. Our social worker told us to grieve Lucy as though she were a SIDS death but I know it's not the same. We never had to find her lying lifeless and although we bonded with her enormously during those four days in the hospital, I didn't bond with her as she wiggled and kicked inside of me for months. I can't imagine the horror if I had a successful IVF cycle and then lost the baby/babies to a uterine rupture. I don't know how I would possibly recover from such a thing.

So, that's the story. The surgery that was supposed to make me feel better has instead brought frustration and more things to worry about. On top of everything, Dr. G thought for a few days that the fibroid might have had cancerous qualities and sent a tissue sample to the Mayo Clinic for analysis. Mayo concluded that it was a fast-growing fibroid but not cancerous, but we had a scary couple of days in early June. They were so scary that we didn't tell anyone, even our parents, until we heard back from Mayo, because we didn't want to burden anyone else with worrying about something so horrifying and unconfirmed.

Now, a month and a half later, my external scars are completely healed and I assume the scar on my uterus is the same. I pray that it healed perfectly and that my uterus is now happy and ready to accept the challenge of a pregnancy if the opportunity arises in the future.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Desperate Measures

Instead of paying over $200 to an expediting service for J's passport, we made a crazy decision on Saturday to just go ahead and drive to Chicago to renew the passport in person on Monday morning. The gas to do this has cost less than the fee from an expediting service, and we stayed at our hotel last night with "points" because J travels quite a bit for work and stays at enough hotels that he generally has plenty of free nights for things like this. It feels good to be driving home knowing that it was worth it...the passport situation is taken care of.

I'm typing this on his laptop in the car as we listen to the third Harry Potter book (Prison of Azkaban) on mp3. We've already read them all, but it's fun to listen to the audio versions read by a Brit. I love the cellular internet card J has for his laptop; it's how I wrote my very first posts on this blog back in March as I was sitting in the lovely courtyard of the W French Quarter. We stayed at the W Chicago City Center last night and, while we generally love W hotels, this one was the least impressive we've been to. Because J has platinum status with Starwood, we got a suite, but it was really just two regular rooms and one of them had a couch instead of a bed. The bed seemed small (I swear it was a full, though J says I'm crazy and it was a queen) and the couch in the other room was terrible. The cushions were the type that sink into the frame when you sit. The lobby was nice, however, and the concierge recommended a place for dinner that ended up being fabulous. It is called Avec and we had a nice bottle of rose and a couple of small plates. If you go there, get the stuffed dates. I know, it sounds strange, but we were seated at the bar right by the kitchen and were watching the chefs prepare the food (that has a whole new meaning now that we are Hell's Kitchen and Top Chef fans) and everything looked so good that we asked a chef what we should order and she suggested the dates. They are stuffed with chorizo sausage, wrapped in bacon and baked in a wood burning oven. Amazing. I never would have ordered such a thing otherwise, but they are fabulous. J had their chicken sausage with greens, cilantro and green goddess dressing. Also delicious.

Why did we only have small plates? Because earlier we were at D.O.C. wine bar and ate some fancy cheeses, dried meats and bruschetta while we tried six lovely red wines there. The wine bar is co-owned by the son of a colleague of mine and it was only a couple of miles from the hotel. Both D.O.C. and Avec had great atmosphere (something that matters a lot to me) and very friendly, competent staff. Overall, a great way to start our anniversary celebrations. This morning, J went to renew his passport and I walked from the hotel to the lake and enjoyed all the sun, breeze, gardens, fountains and people-watching to be had on a Monday morning in summer.

The passport official J spoke to will be putting his new passport in a FedEx envelope this afternoon and he should get it tomorrow, so our Mexico trip is on! Now that the passport situation is resolved, I'll brag a bit more about what we're doing next week. We're flying into Merida, Mexico on Friday and staying overnight there before renting a car and driving to Hacienda Puerta Campeche for a couple of days and then to Hacienda Santa Rosa for a few more days, before returning to Merida and flying home the following Friday. While we are in Mexico, we'll be taking day trips to places like Chichen Itza and Izamal, eating way too much and lounging by the pool (because it's going to be hot).

It's been a week now since our tragedy, and this morning when the garbage truck came to our house it took away with it, along with all of our other garbage, such items as M & T's home study, sonogram pictures of Clio, photos of Lucy that I had developed the day after she was born, the mini DV tape of her birth (I know, I should have just erased it, but I was too upset to care when I threw it away) and baby shower cards. Our house still contains plenty of baby items, but Lucy is fast being erased from our lives. I don't know how I feel about that right now. I haven't yet dealt with the scrapbook pages I worked on for the sonograms and my baby showers, and our computers still have photos of Lucy saved on them, but soon those too will go. It's just too hard to open up "My Pictures" and know that the folders titled "Baby Showers" and "Clio" and "Nursery" are lurking in the corner of my eye, waiting to rub my wound raw again.

I considered renaming the blog, but in the end, "Clio " still has positive connotations for me. While I was calling her Clio, things were hopeful and happy. It's "Lucy" that makes my heart hurt. So, we'll keep Clio for now.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Much Better

Thanks to the support of everyone who loves us, including my delurking readers that completely shocked me (I thought only Deanna and Amy and Cat and sometimes Jen were reading!), J and I are doing so much better. We had a conversation yesterday and made a conscious decision to let ourselves heal and move on and not feel guilty. We were feeling guilty about healing because it felt like it minimized the pain we felt Monday-Wednesday and the joy we felt before that. We did yoga together on Wednesday in an attempt to destress (we like Steve Ross on Inhale) and at the end of the hour, he was talking about the Buddhist philosophy that attachment brings suffering. While we aren't Buddhists, far from it, it made sense to us and we realized that our suffering early this week came from our attachment to Clio and to being parents, but that at a certain point the attachment is to the suffering itself, not just to Clio. I don't know if that makes sense outside my own brain right now, but it's helping us move on.

One big thing that is helping me right now is that I met with the principals of the school I have taught at for the past 3 years and there is a job opening that I'm taking, so I'm very relieved to be going back the faculty, students, culture and even the buildings that I know and love. I'll get my classroom back, and my advisory (like a homeroom). I used to teach sophomore World Literature and senior literature electives, but the new position will be all English I for freshmen because they already hired someone for my old job. The benefit of the new job will be only one class to prep for, instead of 3 (I had regular and accelerated sophomores and a different senior elective each semester). So, I'll be teaching five sections of freshmen each day, which will be a bit repetitive, but require less time to plan. I think freshmen will be easier to teach than sophomores, but their parents will definitely be more challenging! Yikes. Hopefully, this new job will just be one year and then I'll be home with a baby. Josh and I are tentatively considering that if another adoption match doesn't happen in the next year, we'll do IVF next summer. Those plans might change, but the plan feels good right now. We'll be saving the majority of my paycheck each month of this year and putting it away to pay for adoption/IVF. After all, we were prepared to budget without my salary and with a new baby, so it shouldn't be too hard to do. We'll just pay for my gas to commute and my professional clothes, etc., out of my salary.

Another exciting development is that a vacation is in the works. We were planning to visit Montreal this summer for our 10th wedding anniversary, but cancelled the trip in March when we matched with Clio. Now we are working on setting up a trip to Mexico to stay in a hacienda in a mission town and tour Aztec and Mayan ruins. We're very excited about it, although J is bemoaning his expired passport and need to pay $250 to get expedited processing in order to have it for next Friday. I'm not thrilled that we'll be flying on our anniversary, I'd rather be there by then, but it will be so nice to get out of this house for a bit and forget about the baby paraphernalia lurking behind the nursery door.

In other news, I met with our social worker yesterday and got her to fess up that she found out what M & T renamed Clio. I don't know why J and I are so obsessed with that, but we are. Drumroll, please. Teresa Lynn. The Teresa is after (you guessed it!) T's mother, the benefactress who "bought" the baby. Lynn is M's middle name, too. Our social worker said that M was attached to "Lucy" and wanted to keep it (heck, they put it on her birth certificate right after she was born because they knew that's the name we'd picked!) but T talked her out of it because it would be too weird. Darn right it would! That's something J and I are still steamed about, that we like the name Lucy so much and now it's ruined and can't be used for a future baby. Actually, I think knowing the new name makes it easier for me to accept the reality that Clio is not ours and won't be ours. J and I are straddling the line between the anger and acceptance phases of grief right now, because anger still feels really good sometimes.

In "Karen is a criminal" news, I flirted briefly with the idea of reselling the medication I'd purchased and not used for my breastfeeding preparations. However, in the end I decided that it wasn't worth the risk of putting medication into the US Mail with my return address on it because getting some money back isn't worth a criminal record. There are so many aspects of this process that have been wasteful of our time, money and emotions that this is just a drop in the bucket. Also, I decided to resell my hospital grade pump on ebay to recoup that money, but found that pumps with warranties were selling for more money than those without. So, I contacted Medela to check on my warranty and they wrote back to let me know that, based on my serial #, my pump was stolen in January from a rental place! Wow. I bought it in April on ebay and so I doubt that my seller was the thief, but still. So, now I'll be sending it back to Medela and they're only offering $150 finder's fee. Better than nothing, but I'm very disappointed because I was expecting to resell and make back most of the money I paid for it.

I'm the type of person who has to have a plan at all times in order to be happy, and so now I have plans...for teaching, vacation and for becoming a mother eventually. These illusions of control over my world are very comforting.

We are still struggling to understand what we are supposed to learn from this experience, or what good might possibly come from our pain, but we are beginning to accept that we may never know the answers to those questions. One thing we do know is that we'll be much more guarded with the next birthfamily. I'm not picturing us inviting them over to dinner next time, and I'm hesitant about the idea of witnessing the birth again. Seeing Lucy born was just too beautiful; it awakened every maternal hormone in my body and bonded me to that little girl immediately. I hope the next birthfamily will understand if we are scared to go through this again. Our social worker says that because of this experience, birthparents who are secure in their choice will be drawn to us and birthparents who are unsure will run away from us as a match. Let's hope that's true.

Thanks again to everyone for your prayers and support. They have meant more to us than I can adequately express.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Thank you

**I'm calling Clio "the baby" in this post to protect myself, sorry. I'm sure M & T have renamed her.**

Thank you all for your prayers and support. We are rushing wildly through every stage of grief today and yet we can feel the prayers lifting us up and keeping us sane. This morning I considered posting the "Tragedy" post and then never coming back to the blog, or deleting it tomorrow, but in the end I am a writer and I'm going to use this as therapy for a little while, to work through my grief. I guess some of this might be just for me, but I'm happy to share it with those of you who are loving me through it.

I thought some of you might like to know a little about how this happened. Yesterday we were in the hospital with the baby and M & T showed up with T's mother and sister and her kids and his 13-year-old daughter from a previous relationship. They tried to kick us out of our room to use it to visit with their family and hang out with the baby and we were shocked because we had never asked them to leave their room when they were the ones there and we were visiting. True, M had just given birth when they had a room, but still. That was my first inkling that something was up. I was very agitated during the whole 2 hours they were there and ended up calling my mom. I can't put into words how I was feeling, but the closest thing would be the feeling of bugs crawling in my veins and my brain. It was the longest 2 hours of my life, I think. I have never had women's intuition that strongly and it was torture. My mom stayed on the phone and comforted me and used up all of her cell phone minutes. That's what moms are for!

The nurses ended up giving M & T the room next door and we could hear the baby crying for about 45 minutes and it tore up my heart to hear her. When T's family was leaving, J and I went out into the hallway to greet them and be polite, but they were pretty cold and mostly ignored me. T's mother had been very nice to us on Friday, so that was strange. We spoke to M & T for awhile and I could sense that something had shifted in our relationship, in their attitude. It's easy now to look back and see warning signs in some of the things M said, like "I woke up this morning and immediately thought of the baby's little face!" and "It's easy to fall in love with her." I felt uneasy, but couldn't work up the courage to confront them and ask if they were changing their minds. We stayed in the hospital with the baby last night, and learned how to give her a bath. She is just perfect, and I'll always treasure the memory of the time I spent with her, no matter how painful my attachment has made this separation.

The baby is not at fault in this and I still love her with all of my heart and hope against hope that she will have everything she deserves in life. Most of all, I hope that M & T give up their cigarette addiction, because my heart breaks at the thought of that little baby's clothing smelling like smoke throughout her childhood, and her lungs being exposed to second-hand smoke from both mom and dad every day. Yesterday when M & T brought her back to us she smelled so strongly of smoke that I immediately called the nurse to come bring me a new outfit and blanket. Yuck.

This morning I had mixed feelings, again with the women's intuition, but I ignored them and didn't take as much time saying goodbye to the baby as I should have. I cuddled her for about 10 minutes and then kissed her cheek as we left the nursery to go drive to our lawyer's office. I will always regret not being more deliberate and not praying over her. All the way downtown I had the hymn "It is well" in my head, particularly the first verse:

"When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul."

Now I think this was preparing me for the horror that awaited us. We got to the lawyer's office and she told us that "They changed their minds." My stomach dropped to the floor and J spat out "What?" and our world collapsed. The time since then has been a blur of grief and practical actions like removing every single thing in our house that has to do with baby and locking it all into the nursery, away from sight. However, I can't lock my memories of the baby away in that room and they steal into my mind uninvited, causing such intense pain and nausea that I haven't been able to eat all day. Our social worker told us that we need to grieve this as if the baby died, and that's the way it feels right now. We are trying to walk through the pain and find a way out into hope for the future, but each step is torturous.

Right after hearing the news from our lawyer, T called my cell phone and said that they had changed their minds because they love her (and they know we love her too) but T never had a chance to parent his first daughter and he wants a chance to be a dad now. He said he was sorry and I had to use every ounce of energy not to give the automatic people-pleaser womanly response of "that's OK." Instead I said "I don't know what to say" and then listened to him say sorry again before I said "we wish the best for the three of you" and "goodbye." It's not a lie. We wish the absolute best for the baby, and if she has to live with them, then we wish the best for them so that they can give the best to her. At this point, my feelings are that if they weren't parenting the baby I would be wishing pain and suffering on them. Sorry, that's just how it feels right now to be me.

What finally came out is that T's mother met the baby and fell in love with her. She promptly offered M & T $8,000 in cash and a house to live in (T's father's house, which has been on the market and not selling for awhile) if they kept the baby. This happened Saturday afternoon, which explains M & T's attitude on Sunday. Evidently, M & T are planning to get married this week. So, they'll be married with a house and $8,000, but that won't go very far with a new baby, since both of them are still unemployed at this point, unless they know something I don't. We are livid at T's mother for pulling the rug out from under us after not being involved in any aspect of the adoption until now. Why, oh why didn't she offer the money in March and save us this pain? She saw the baby's beauty and fell in love, like grandma's do. And the baby is beautiful, oh so beautiful. I don't know if it comes across well in pictures but all of the nurses kept telling us she is the most beautiful newborn they'd ever seen and I concur.

So, our joy has turned to heartache and my heart that was once hard and bitter with my infertility and became soft and open these past few months is quickly feeling brittle and sharp again. The nursery I once took so much joy in is now a graveyard. J and I will celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary on the 18th and now we will do it alone, without a baby. The celebration will taste like ashes in our mouths. I will never be the same person, never trust in the same way, never hope with such optimism. I need Prozac.


We learned this morning that M and T have changed their minds and are keeping Lucy. We are heartbroken and we ask you to please pray for us or keep us in mind as we grieve the loss of the baby.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Room at the Inn

We have a room! M and T were discharged this morning around 10:30 and we got a room at the same time. It's a labor & delivery room because there weren't recovery rooms available, but we have a comfy bed, a couch, armchair, TV and our own bathroom, but more importantly we have Lucy Beatrix all to ourselves and as much cuddle time as we want. We invited some church friends to visit this afternoon and also Lucy's future babysitter, one of my former students. Tomorrow we'll spend all day here with Lucy. She's doing great, eating well, pooping like a seasoned veteran and sleeping constantly. We know, we know, she'll wake up and cry as soon as we get home with her!

Friday, July 4, 2008

The Birth Story

This is another long one...go get a cup of tea before you sit down to read.

Well we got some good sleep last night, but we've been back and forth to the hospital for over 24 hours now and Lucy just keeps getting cuter and cuter:

We have a "group room" on Snapfish with lots more photos, so send me an e-mail if you'd like an invitation to join it.
Now that I have a few moments (M and T are back at the hospital sleeping with Lucy and we're home for a bit) I'll give a looong birth story.

After the previous posts, I went back to the hospital around 8:30 AM and took a nap on a couch in the waiting room until around 9 AM when a bunch of loud people came in to see a baby who had just been born. M and T were both sleeping until around 10 AM and woke to irregular contractions and only 6 cm dilated, so the doctor ordered pitocin and she started that around 10 AM. Between 10 and 1 we hung out and M was doing fine (I went home for 1/2 hour to change and freshen up, too, and we brought in Sonic for lunch), but the nurses kept coming in and bugging her to turn over because they were having trouble keeping the external monitor on the baby's heartrate because Lucy was down so low. It was scary seeing the nurse take so long to find Lucy's heartbeat, but it was fine in the end.
Toward 1 PM, M started feeling the contractions again and they were coming strongly, back to back, and Lucy's heartrate was dipping pretty dramatically with each contraction, although not dangerously low. The nurse checked M and she was 10 cm and ready to push. It took about 30 minutes to get everything set up for the delivery and get the doctor there, and everyone got kicked out of the room except for T, me and M's mother. J and M's 13-year-old daughter got kicked out to the waiting room. My in-laws were waiting at our house after driving down from Minnesota that morning.
As soon as they put M's calves up into the stirrups we could see Lucy's little head with her beautiful hair peeking out, ready to come into the world! I have to pause here and say that I hadn't been expecting that M would want me to be sitting on the couch with a clear view of the "action" and I hadn't wanted to make her feel uncomfortable, but she was so sweet and encouraged me to get in a place where I could see the whole thing. I am so grateful to her!
The doctor asked M to push and then stop, and with that one push, Lucy's head was delivered and the doctor took a minute to suction her and cut the cord, which came out with her head. The next push brought out one shoulder and the final push brought her whole body into the world at 1:52. M is a champion pusher...she only needed 3 and none of them were very strenuous pushes. I got out the video camera and tried to tape those first moments but at first the nurses were all around her and I didn't get good shots until a couple of minutes had gone by. They rubbed her and suctioned her a lot, because she'd swallowed/inhaled some meconium during the process of being born. She cried at first but then was very quiet for the rest of the hour and 20 minutes she was awake right after birth, before going to sleep for a few hours. Her Apgar scores were 7 and 9, and I think that second score wasn't a 10 just because she wasn't crying at that point. We all agreed that she was perfect and the most beautiful baby ever born. The nurses agree!
After the nurses did their "thing" for 1/2 hour, they put on her wristband and ankle band and wristbands on M and I (so that I have the same rights as M to go get Lucy from the nursery and be alone with her), and then let J and M's daughter come back to the room. At that point I let M and T and M's daughter and mother hold Lucy while J looked on and I made phone calls to grandparents, our social worker, lawyer, pediatrician, friends, etc. Then J and I had a short meeting with the hospital social worker and then went back to M's room where I finally got to hold Lucy for the first time and then J did as well. Then we got kicked out so that the hospital social worker could talk to M and T privately, and I made more phone calls in the waiting room. We went back to M's room after that and J's parents came to the hospital to see her, too. We hung out, holding her and talking, until around 5 PM, when a nurse came to "steal" Lucy and take her for and hour and a half for shots, hearing screening, bath, etc. and at that point J and I went home for a bit and I took a much-needed shower.
We had a glass of wine (not a good idea for me since I was working on 40 minutes total sleep and the wine made me soooo tired) and got yummy pizza from a local joint. Right before the pizza came, T called me to say that M was asleep if I wanted to come get Lucy time, but I stayed home until the pizza arrived and I had a few pieces and then went back to the hospital, J following me about 15 minutes later. They had brought Lucy back smelling like baby powder with that little bow stuck to her head with KY jelly (giggle)...see the above picture. She had gotten even cuter with just a few hours, how is that possible?
We visited for 1/2 hour and then T's mother and sisters arrived to visit and J and I talked with them a few minutes but then went home to give them all some privacy to visit. I hadn't mentioned, but during this whole time we'd been hoping the hospital would have a room available for J and I to stay in. The nurse and social worker had mentioned at our pre-admittance tour of the unit that they try to find an empty room for adoptive parents to stay in for free whenever possible. However, there is a baby boom happening in our city right now and there haven't been any rooms available these past couple of days. Hopefully one will open up tomorrow and Sunday because M will be discharged tomorrow and we wouldn't have anywhere to hang out with Lucy if there are not available rooms! Please send me prayers/good vibes that we can get a room by tomorrow night.
I told T to call me if they were going to sleep and I'd come up to take care of Lucy. He called around 10 PM and I went back up to the hospital until 1:30 AM, when I realized that I absolutely had to go home or else I was going to pass out, having not slept more than 40 minutes in the previous 40 hours. I came home and slept from 2 until 10. We had breakfast and then went back to the hospital, bringing along a chocolate cheesecake that J and his mother had made as a special "no more gestational diabetes" treat for M. We hung out, held Lucy, sent J out for Popeye's chicken for lunch, and J's parents came to see Lucy again. Then we left at about 1 PM because Lucy was sleeping and the unit has quiet time from 2 to 4 for everyone to nap, and I'm sure M and T are napping with Lucy as I'm typing this. I told T to call us when they are ready for more company. Our social worker advised us to give M and T as much time and privacy with Lucy as they want during these couple of days in the hospital, because it is their time to snuggle with her and come to terms with their choice, while we'll get to enjoy the next 18 years! I am very grateful, though, that I've had several opportunities to hold and interact with Lucy when she is awake and alert, to start the bonding process. She looked at me quite a bit during the first 1/2 hour when she was in the bassinet being tended to by the nurses and I was right next to her, filming and taking photos. She is a very quiet, alert baby and likes to study people's faces. Last night I was holding her after her 11pm feeding and she spent a few minutes gazing at my face as if she was trying to memorize it. That made me cry with joy! I've been talking to her and singing to her when she's awake, too, and so she's getting to know the sound of my voice and my not-so-hot singing voice. :)
Deanna asked about my emotions in a comment a few posts ago, and I'm sorry I never got around to posting about how I was feeling then, so I'll go into some detail now. J and I have just been giddy for the past 2 days, ever since we talked to M on Wednesday evening and found out she was having contractions. I feel like I'm ADD because I have trouble focusing on anything, but I'm doing better now after getting good sleep last night. (By the way, when I woke up this morning I thought for a minute that it had all been a dream, but then looked down at the hospital bracelet on my wrist and teared up with joy that it is real!) M and I were both crying right after Lucy was born and I felt like I was dreaming as I watched her come into the world. It was so magical and I couldn't believe how much I loved her as soon as I just saw the top of her head coming out! It's still hard to believe she's here after waiting so long and worrying, too. When I look at her I feel such a wave of love come over me that it brings tears to my eyes and I find myself just stopping at random times and sending up a prayer of thanks to God for her. At the same time, we are trying to give M and T some space, as I said earlier, and I have to admit that we are holding a piece of our heart back and being cautious, on purpose, to protect our hearts from the potential pain of M and T changing their minds at the last minute. I haven't seen any evidence that they will change their minds, but I can see how they are bonding with Lucy and so in love with her and proud to show off her beauty to their relatives. When I see them cuddling and cooing with her, feeding her and showing her off, my heart hurts with jealousy and anxiety, but I am endeavoring to hide those feelings and rise above them. Sometimes, too, I just feel numb because I'm so overwhelmed with exhaustion and so many conflicting emotions. I would say that my overriding emotion leading up to the past 2 days was boredom and restlessness because I just didn't have anything to do but wait and clean the house. The question we have gotten most over the past few months is "are you excited?!!!!" and the honest answer is that we have been excited, but not with four exclamation marks. The apprehension we feel about these few days of waiting for M and T to sign the paperwork puts a damper on all of our emotions and takes away a lot of exclamation marks. Sad, but true.
We will visit with our lawyer at her office on Monday morning at 9am and then we will go to court in our county at 2pm that day. If everything goes as planned, we'll leave that court date with a court order that we can take back to the hospital so that they will discharge Lucy to our care. After that, we'll have a follow-up home visit from our social worker and one or two from the court, and then we'll finalize the adoption in 6 months.
When we get home from the hospital on Monday afternoon, we have a yard sign to put out so the neighbors will know (they will be shocked, since they haven't seen me walking around pregnant!) and a nice bottle of wine to open. J's parents will be here until Tuesday morning and my mom will fly in on Tuesday to stay for awhile. Non-grandparent guests will be invited to visit starting in August, but until then we'll be staying home mostly and bonding with Lucy Beatrix, the light of our lives, the bringer of joy.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Lucy Beatrix


Lucy B. was born at 1:52 CDT – She weighed 7 lbs 14.6 oz at birth and is almost 20” long and she is absolutely beautiful as shown in the pictures.

Thanks for your thoughts and prayers...



Me...lack of (maybe 10 minutes total?)
J...about 4.5 hours
M and T...about 3 hours and counting

I got a call from T at home around 3:40 as I was trying to sleep to say that M's contractions were getting more intense and closer together and they were going to do an epidural. J decided to stay home and sleep until I called him if it got close to "time." I got to the hospital about 3:55 just in time to see M get her epidural (rather disturbing to watch I have to say) and find out that her water broke right after she got it. The nurse checked her at 4:30 and she was about 5 cm dilated and feeling sleepy from her meds, so the nurse turned out the light for her to sleep and I went to the waiting room and finished reading my book (His Dark Materials), ate Cheez-Its and drank cappucino from the coffee machine and watched the sun rise. J just joined me and brought the laptop with him.

Despite the lack of activity in the past few hours, I'm expecting that once M wakes up things will start happening again and Clio will be here today. If she holds out until tomorrow, we can tell her every year that the fireworks are just for her birthday. :)

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety, Jig

We got home at about 2:00 AM. M is still in the hospital with contractions about 2 minutes apart, but only dilated 3 cm. If they check her and she's progressed, she's giving us a call and we're heading back over. It's nice to live 5 minutes from the hospital! J gets very grumpy when he's tired, so he needed to head home for some rest. Tomorrow will probably be a very long day. Clio will probably share a birthday with Franz Kafka, Tom Stoppard, Dave Barry, Montel Williams, Tom Cruise and King Louis XI of France. Hmmmm...

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

We're heading to the hospital

M wants to check in before 11pm when they lock the doors of the birthing center and she has to check in through the ER...I don't blame her! So, her contractions are about 10 minutes apart at this point. I'm not sure when I'll be able to update again, but I'll try to keep you posted! :)


Hi everyone, just a quick update that M called at 6:20 CST tonight and told us that she's having strong, painful contractions but at this point they are irregular and spaced widely (almost an hour) apart. But, M had a very fast L&D with her 13-year-old daughter, so we're thinking that Clio might be here tonight or tomorrow. J has a laptop with a satellite internet card that we'll take with us to the hospital, so I'll update when I have more information.


We're going to watch TV now since we won't have time for the next 2 years or so...

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