Wednesday, February 25, 2009
I'm under attack...I'm taking cover...(I'm humming ABBA)...
Evie is fine, she's more than fine, she's perfectly wonderful! She started babbling in earnest today...babbling in which she opens her mouth as wide as it will go and uses her tongue. It's adorable. I've seen this coming because for the past couple of days she's been staring hard at our mouths when we talk and opening and closing her own mouth silently, practicing. Today she let loose and I see much babbling in our future. She got the rest of her 4 month shots (Prevnar, Polio and Hib) yesterday and took them bravely, but her eating and sleeping has been unusual ever since and I'm hoping she's back to herself tomorrow.
But me, I'm not OK. I'm completely overwhelmed with people who need things from me. I only have 24 hours per day and Evie gets first dibs for the 8-10 hours that she's awake each day. Until a couple of weeks ago it was pretty easy to find time for blogging by cutting short my own sleep time (my blog layout doesn't show post times anymore but when it did they were usually late at night or during one of Evie's naps during the day). Easy, because I have been cutting my own sleep short for years, staying up to all hours reading and grading student essays or staying up late writing essays when I was a student. It's not so easy anymore. My days are so full that I am completely exhausted by the end of the day and when it comes time to choose between blogging and sleep, I am choosing sleep.
Chapter 11 is the type of bankruptcy where a company gets to restructure, reorganize and reprioritize. That's what I'm doing to my life right now, and it feels right to push blogging down on the priority list until I figure out what the heck is going on. The first step was deciding not to do IComLeavWe this month, then I stopped reading several blogs and sites that I've read for a long time (e.g. Dooce, Pioneer Woman, Pajiba) and now I'm behind on reading several blogs that I usually keep up with. I'm going to try to keep posting about once a week and see how it goes, and I'm going to try to keep up with the blogs I normally read, but I'm not going to be as active as I have been. Because I'm scaling back on posts, I've come up with some other ways to keep track of my days with Evie. I've started doing this (thanks to Lori for the idea) and I'm going to use Twitter if anything interesting (to me) happens and I don't have time for a full post about it.
Anyhow, hopefully things will calm down at some point (although I'm not sure how or why since I didn't see this tidal wave coming in the first place...) and I'll be back in the black.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
This month's interview includes some bonus footage at the end, showing Evie's rice cereal breakfast and us playing afterward. I just love how her whole body trembles with anticipation of the next bite of cereal. And please feel honored to watch the last minute and a half of this video because I normally only sing to Evie, in church and in my car...never in front of people and definitely not on tape!
Highlights from this month:
- Evie learns to roll from back to front = yay! big girl, I mean, oh crap now she's going to suffocate in her sleep! Panic!
- Evie has more and more patience with books = I am very happy to read to her!
- This month I got over my horror at the idea of putting Evie on the floor. Now I'm content putting her down on a blanket downstairs, on her nursery carpet upstairs, and once directly on the kitchen linoleum. I think it's because I'm no longer worried that she'll lose head control and smack her face into the floor (which would make her cry AND transfer germs and dog hair into her mouth). Apollo and Phoebe are getting used to this new development and Apollo is thrilled at having so many new places to nap:
- I've struggled with sinus issues all month and Evie has likewise had a stuffy nose and occasional cough. I don't think we have had colds; I'm blaming our stuffy noses on the dry air and Evie's cough on teething/drooling. However, I did take her in to the pediatrician last week about her cough and the doctor recommended a cool mist humidifier to clear up her stuffy nose. I felt like an idiot...why didn't I think of that? We bought the penguin one; it's adorable.
- Evie has had a diaper rash off and on this month. At first it seemed to be a kind of teething rash (the theory is that the excessive drooling makes a baby's poop more acidic) but last week it got really bad overnight and we diagnosed a yeast rash, so Evie has been in disposable diapers for a week as we've struggled to eradicate the yeasties with non-cloth-diaper-approved creams. Today I'm trying to put her back into cloth and I'm praying the rash stays away.
- Evie LOVES the dogs this month, particularly Phoebe. She smiles and giggles whenever Phoebe is nearby, especially if she is wagging her fluffy tail. So far Phoebe seems gentle and tolerant and occasionally approaches Evie and gives her some tentative kisses on Evie's hands or cheeks. I'm carefully supervising these interactions, to protect Phoebe as much as to protect Evie, since Phoebe has never bitten anyone before whereas Evie has demonstrated a predilection for pinching skin, pulling hair and screeching. Sometimes when Evie grabs a handful of hair from the nape of my neck while I'm carrying her and pulls hard, I feel like growling at her!
- Socially, Evie is a bit conflicted. She is exhibiting all of the following: flirting with strangers, fear of strangers, independence and separation anxiety. She seeks out eye contact with strangers when we are out in public and flashes her most brilliant smiles at them, then looks away as soon as she wins a return smile. However, sometimes she cries when strangers initiate an interaction with her by talking to her or smiling at her, especially if they don't look like Mommy and Daddy. Her godfather is an unfortunate recipient of this reaction because of his goatee. J often has a goatee as well, but hasn't grown one since Evie was born, so she's not used to it. I'm afraid that Evie and I are going to argue about this one because I love it when J has a goatee and I'm predicting that Evie will disagree with me. Here is Evie with her godfather a couple of weeks ago (she got over her initial reaction):
- As I mentioned above, we are starting to see independence in Evie's personality. She's decided that she no longer likes to cuddle and would rather sit by herself and play independently or interact with us face to face. I can no longer reliably soothe her to sleep in my arms; her crib mobile or her swing are much more effective unless she's overtired. However, she still wants me/us to stay in the room with her while she practices her independence. Her hearing is excellent and the sound of footsteps retreating from her location incites fussing and crying more often than not.
- This month we realized that she hasn't been getting enough practice with sitting upright because of her gastroesophogeal issues. About 98% of the time, sitting up leads to spitting up. But sitting reclined all the time isn't going to help her meet upcoming developmental milestones, so we've started propping her up or sitting her in her B*umbo seat, and dealing with the messy consequences. She loves to sit in the B*umbo and play with this toy she got from my mom at Christmas (J's parents' dog, Max, is in the picture here):
- Sleep has been a big issue this month; specifically, none of us are getting enough. I've been reading Pantley's The No-Cry Sleep Solution and The No-Cry Nap Solution and have learned that Evie's sleep issues the last couple of months have to do with her sleep cycles. Specifically, the growth stages she's been in (and teething, perhaps) have made her less able to stay asleep from one sleep cycle to the next, which explains the 40 minute naps and night waking. I also learned that she is a micro-napper if she's not in an optimal sleep environment (swing, crib or car in motion), meaning that she sleeps through the first phase of sleep (5 minutes) and then wakes up feeling refreshed and ready to play even though she's not really rested...this makes her very cranky by evening.
She's napping better now that I am implementing all kinds of tools like white noise, lovey blanket and often the swing, but her night waking has been making her parents very cranky lately (one night in particular J was up with her about every hour from 1:30 am on--it was probably Sunday since he was on Evie duty). Last night I had a brainstorm and we moved her swing into our guest room (across the hall from our room so that I have a direct view of the swing while lying in bed). She woke and ate at 2 am and then I put her back to sleep in the swing, where she slept until 7:45. Yay!
I suppose we'll just have to muddle through until she's 6 months old and the SIDS risk almost disappears--then we can put her bumpers back in and give her a stuffed animal and a lovey blanket, which should hopefully help her transition back to sleep when she finishes a sleep cycle. Right now she naps with a lovey that is velour on one side and satin on the other and she loves it. She rubs it with her hands and pulls it up to her cheek...so sweet. Here she is napping with one of the loveys that I made her over the summer:
The other complication in her sleep has been her rolling. We can't put her down in her crib right after she eats unless she is completely passed out because if she's even a smidgen awake she will roll right over and spit up. Neither she nor I enjoys the ensuing clean-up. Our solution has been to hold her for an hour after she eats and then put her in the crib, or put her in the swing where she may spit up a little but not enough to need a clothes change, only a bib change.
- And the acid reflux question lingers. In the past couple of weeks her spit up has changed; on occasion it smells like vomit/bile instead of just smelling like soured milk the way it usually does, so we have put her back on the reflux rx for now to see if it helps this time. I'm almost afraid that by putting her on medication last month and then taking her off, we triggered acid reflux that wasn't there before? I would think it was connected to starting solids but the different-smelling spit up began before we started them. For the past month Evie has also been doing some of the classic head-turning while eating, which is a sign of acid reflux because it is not indicating she's full. She'll turn her head suddenly away from the nipple, gasp or cry out and then turn her head back to the bottle and continue eating. At first we thought it was her stuffy nose and that she couldn't breathe while she ate, but she seems to do it even when her nose sounds clear and/or we've just cleaned it out. In any case, she's back on meds and hopefully they'll help this time.
- As I said, Evie started solids in the middle of this month and is doing well with rice cereal (see end of today's video). She seems to enjoy it and has learned how to open her mouth in anticipation of the spoon, close it around the spoon (sometimes) and swallow fairly thick cereal. Despite the temptation to keep introducing new things, we're going to try to hold off until six months and just keep up with the rice cereal for the next month. We're feeding it to her twice a day: right before her second bottle of the day and around our own dinner time. One thing I am concerned about is whether or not she has figured out how to tell when she is full, because she'll eat as much as we offer and has yet to turn her head away and reject a spoonful. So, we're keeping the portions small...usually one or two tablespoons.
- Finally, Evie is asserting her personality with some impish behavior. For example, last week as I was changing her diaper and applying rash ointment, she began kicking her heels and flailing her arms, getting rash ointment on her hands, socks (and then her feet after I removed her socks), shirt, stomach, thighs and the outside of her diaper. As I struggled to wipe it from her hands and feet while she continued to flail, I snapped "stop it!" at her and she suddenly got quiet and lay still. As I fastened her diaper I glanced at her face, expecting to see her looking sad, but instead, my eyes were met with a big, sparkly smile. I laughed and smiled back at her and said "sorry that I snapped at you, sweetie" and she proceeded to push our her bottom lip and start crying. Wow did that make me feel like the mom of a little girl; it was like our first argument in a way, and I had a vision of the many, many conflicts we will have in the future. It's inevitable between mothers and daughters, but I will be happy if in the end we have a friendship like I have with my mom now that I'm an adult.
Plans for the coming month? We have a piano tuner coming tomorrow and I picked up songbooks from our library with classic nursery rhymes, lullabies, etc. I started practicing today on the out-of-tune upright piano in our great room (it has been moved about five times in the past ten years and tuned zero times) and Evie seemed to enjoy it. I hope I didn't mess up her musical ability for good by playing out of tune. :) It's going to take me awhile to play competently since I haven't taken lessons since I was thirteen and normally play only once a year (Christmas carols). Somehow I think Evie will forgive my gaffes.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Here she is posing with the #1 chocolate bar in the country as rated by Food and Wine magazine: Christopher Elbow No. 6 Dark Rocks (dark chocolate with pop rocks in it...very interesting and yummy), which J bought me for V day: And here is the other part of my gift, balancing on my knees, a yummy box of Christopher Elbow delights. My favorite are the passion fruit caramels.
J's parents are here this weekend and so we are probably going to leave Evie with them at some point and go see that feel-good film about India that's probably going to win Best Picture this year.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Short video #1: Evie rolls! Only the first minute of this is worth watching. I edited it down but I guess I selected the wrong video when I uploaded it to Youtube because this is the unedited version. Whoops.
Me "singing" the Snuggle Puppy song to Evie:
Saying "hi" to Daddy since he was traveling last week:
Evie works on her fine motor skills:
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
- Tell about the book that's been on your shelf the longest: My best guess is that this would be Richard Scarry's Best Storybook Ever! which is tied for eldest with some other books from my babyhood like my book of Mother Goose nursery rhymes and my Beatrix Potter books, but I'm choosing Richard Scarry to write about because it was my favorite. My parents talk about me asking for them to read to me from this book over and over and over. At one point they were so sick of it that they hid it on top of the refrigerator. You can see how well-loved these books from my childhood are by the wear and tear on their spines as they sit on a bookshelf in our guest room: So here is a front shot of the book I'm referring to, since the spine is mostly missing:
- Tell about a book that reminds you of something specific in your life (a person, place, time etc): This was the hardest to choose because so many books remind me of something or other, but in the end I wanted to mention Dinner Dates: A Cookbook for Couples Cooking Together because I would encourage those of you who don't have this book to buy it as a Valentine's Day gift for your spouse if you don't have plans already. It is a wonderful book full of delicious recipes designed to feed two people and instructions for how to divide the work so that you are both in the kitchen preparing the meal and spending quality time together. This book is not for vegetarians or people on a diet, however! I have great memories of the evenings J and I have spent together cooking from this book and now that Evie is here we might pull it out again more often in order to have date nights without the need to pay a babysitter. It's the short, thin book with a white spine in the middle of this picture, and this bookshelf is in our kitchen of course:
- Tell about a book you acquired in some interesting way (gift, serendipity in a used book store, prize etc.): I had a hard time choosing for this one, too, but in the end it has to be The Fall by Albert Camus (the book with the green sticker on the spine in the photo) because it is the only book I've ever stolen from a library. If I remember correctly, I thought I'd checked this out of my high school library but never got any overdue notices and so I kept it. Almost 15 years later, it is on the bookshelf in our TV room and I still feel a smidge guilty:
- Tell about the most recent addition to your shelves: my most recent order from Am@zon included The No-Cry Nap Solution: Guaranteed Gentle Ways to Solve All Your Naptime Problems (Pantley) which I bought after seeing it recommended in this post on Stirrup Queens. It lives on our side table at the moment as I try to find time to read it. Now if only Evie would take longer naps...wait, I'm sensing a Catch-22 here:
- Tell about the book that has been with you to the most places: I wish I could say it's my Bible, as Tiffany did, but my Bible is fairly new and I've had several over the years, so I've never become attached to one in particular. My best guess is that my Norton Anthologies
have traveled the most. They've been to Germany and England with me for my summer studies during college and in general were my most-toted books during college. They now reside in our TV room and the yarn hanging from volume 2 is the tassel of a hand-made bookmark from a good friend I met in high school who shall go by the initial A unless she gives me permission to identify her on the blog :) And, by the way, the bookmark is in the middle of Conrad's Heart of Darkness for some reason:
- Tell about a bonus book that doesn't fit any of the above categories: A book I'm proud of owning is my Compact OED which also lives on the bookshelves in our TV room. It doesn't get as much love anymore since I'm not teaching, but I'll never sell it. There is something so satisfying about having this book available whenever I get an itch to investigate semantics or etymology. The best part is that the real OED is in 13 huge volumes and so this 2 volume compact edition is printed like microfilm and you have to use a magnifying glass to read it. The geeky part of me (which is a lot of me) gets huge satisfaction from reading arcane definitions of little-used words, using a magnifying glass. The books I'm referring to are those with blue spines at the bottom of the pile:
And here is a photo of my favorite page. I used to like to write in my favorite books and in this case was responding to a question on the previous page: which of these things can you do? I wrote "yes" next to most of them, "no" next to the fly, "not girls" next to the owl tipping a top hat (obviously I was yet to discover feminism) and "well maybe" next to the bunny jumping over a hurdle. I have never been athletic!
Monday, February 9, 2009
I was tagged (after a fashion) for this meme by Yoka and Ashley. I'm going to write about both Evie and Lucy in this, because some of the questions lend themselves to doing so. I also modified some of the international adoption questions so that they make sense for us.
1. HOW MANY MONTHS (days, weeks, YEARS...) from 1st paper signed to placement? After wasting a few months pursuing international adoption with Beth*any, we waited 9 months to be matched with Lucy, 13 months to be matched with Evie and 16 months altogether from start of homestudy until Evie's adoption was finalized in court.
2. WAS YOUR SIGNIFICANT OTHER EXCITED? This is a strange question. Of course he was apprehensive, hopeful, interested and involved, but I wouldn't say "excited." Actually, "excited" is one of the words I'm tired of hearing now that we've adopted because it was everyone's favorite thing to say to us: "you must be so excited!" because if they were just hearing about our adoption match they were very excited for us at that moment and I always felt as though they were disappointed if I didn't start jumping up and down with them and matching them in excitement. Excitement was reserved for "getting the call" about the match and "getting the call" that the birth mom is in labor, etc. The rest of the time we had a hard time being as excited as everyone thought we should be. Being constantly excited takes a lot more energy than we had. If this question refers to getting "the call," however, then yes, we were both very excited.
3. WHAT WERE YOUR REACTIONS WHEN YOU GOT "THE" PHONE CALL? With Lucy I felt as though I was going to faint from the shock; I was beside myself with joy and my thoughts started racing a mile a minute in every direction. With Evie we were absolutely stunned and humbled; we both felt it was a miracle and that we were dreaming it all.
4. WHERE WERE YOU WHEN YOU FOUND OUT? With Lucy I was brushing my teeth on the first morning of Spring Break 2008. With Evie we were in the airport about to get on our plane to Mexico and it was our 10th wedding anniversary.
5. HOW OLD WERE YOU? 30
6. WHAT IS YOUR CHILD'S BIRTH-COUNTRY (and province or city)? Kansas
7. WHO DID YOU TELL FIRST? With Lucy it was J's parents and I couldn't get in touch with mine; I had to leave them messages and tell them later on after we'd told a bunch of other people. I think with Lucy I called every single person in my cell phone except my doctor and our vet. With Evie, both J and I got on our cell phones as soon as our plane touched down in Texas (layover on the way to Mexico) and called our respective parents as we were waiting to deplane.
8. DID YOU REQUEST A BOY, GIRL, OR EITHER? We weren't allowed to request one or the other (because sometimes ultrasounds are wrong and our SW doesn't want to deal with that kind of drama), but we would have been delighted with either one.
9. HOW OLD WAS YOUR CHILD AT REFERRAL? at referral she was in utero, about 32 weeks gestation
10. WHEN AND HOW DID YOU SEE YOUR CHILD'S PICTURE FOR THE FIRST TIME? We never saw a photo, even an ultrasound, before we saw the real thing! We hadn't even ever seen a photo of R. The only way for us to imagine what Evie would look like was based on meeting G. There was one ultrasound photo of Evie but we didn't get our hands on it until after she was born and even then it is terrible. Completely murky and worthless as a picture. I'm not even sure I'll scrapbook it, but I'll keep it for posterity in her baby box.
11. WHAT WAS THE FIRST THING YOU BOUGHT FOR YOUR CHILD? I have been collecting things from shopping trips, friends and yard sales for years, but with Lucy the first things I bought were sale and clearance clothes from BRU, TCP, TJ*Max*x, etc. After the call about Evie, the first things we bought were some feeding items and an outfit from a Mexican Wal-Hell, which is bizarre because we are both Wal-Hell haters. We were only there to buy beer and wine to keep in our hotel room and noticed that they had some Classic Pooh baby stuff (spoons, sippy cup...) that I'd never seen in the U.S. and while we were at it we bought a hot pink linen outfit with traditional Mexican styling (it is about size 2T so I'll post pics of her in it eventually).
12. WHO/WHAT IRRITATED YOU THE MOST? Putting aside the whole situation with M & T, I would say that pre-match the most irritating thing was people asking "have you heard anything?" as if we would get the call and not tell anyone until they asked us. After the match it was people asking "have you heard anything?" as if we would have gotten the call that R was in labor but still gone about our business for the day and not told anyone. Sigh. Our answer to these queries was always simply "nope!" but we tried to sound cheerful and not irritated.
13. WHEN WERE YOU ABLE TO TRAVEL? N/A but when we got the call that R's water had broken we took about 1/2 hour to get our stuff together and 1/2 hour to drive to the hospital.
14. DID YOU HAVE A BABY SHOWER? Yep, I had two. One at work and one with church friends and other local friends and some family. If you'd like to read about them I posted about them in May and June of last year.
15. HOW OLD WAS YOUR CHILD WHEN YOU SAW him/her IN PERSON FOR THE FIRST TIME? I was present for Lucy's birth and we met Evie when she was 30 minutes old.
16. DID YOU PACK ANYTHING SPECIAL JUST FOR YOUR BABY? Ummmmm...yeah. With Lucy I had a diaper bag packed with stuff that I kept in my car for about a month before she was born, just in case I got the call that M was in labor while I was out and needed to rush to the hospital and...diaper her. I was nuts. With Evie we needed lots of gear in order to stay in a hotel with her for a few days, so I packed way ahead of time and kept the bags mostly in the house until about a week before her birth and then they were in the car 24/7.
17. WHAT SURPRISED YOU ABOUT YOUR TRAVEL EXPERIENCE THE MOST? We hadn't cased the hospital beforehand and didn't realize it was under construction. We had a hard time figuring out where to go, ended up parking by the main entrance and then realized it was closed for the night. We had to go back to the car (thinking Evie might be born at any minute) and drive to the ER entrance, walk all the way through the hospital to the maternity ward, wait outside while the nurse in charge of security checked with R and G that we were supposed to be there, escorted to a waiting room and then found out that the maternity ward has its own 24 hour entrance that we missed because of the construction confusion, so J had to leave again and go get the car and park it in the right place. Finally a wonderful nurse who had talked to R and G came to fetch us from the waiting room and escort us to our own room. Yay!
18. DID YOU HAVE ANY COMPLICATIONS WITH YOUR PAPERWORK/PROCESS? With Evie only that we couldn't automatically get her a SSN with her adoptive birth certificate and so we have to go apply for that at the SS office soon.
19. WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE MEMORY OR PLACE YOU VISITED IN YOUR CHILD'S BIRTH state?THE BEST? The Sheraton was very cushy and the employees were so sweet to us, letting us use the microwave in the club lounge at any time of day or night to sterilize bottle parts.
20. HOW MANY DAYS/WEEKS WERE YOU IN YOUR CHILD'S BIRTH state? 7 days total for me but J went back and forth from the hospital to our house almost every day .
21. FAVORITE PLACE/THING TO EAT WHILE THERE? the 1/2 size sodas they had available for free at the hospital...nice.
22. FAVORITE PLACE TO SHOP WHILE THERE? BRU
23. HOW MANY minutes WERE YOU in the car GOING/LEAVING? about 30
24. WHO MET YOU AT THE house? J's mom
25. WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU DID AFTER LEAVING THE hospital? Took Evie to lunch with us at Mi*mi's Cafe. She slept through it.
26. WHAT DO YOU CALL YOUR ADOPTION DAY? I thought everyone called it the same? Forever Family Day is our finalization day: October 27th.
27. WHAT DID YOU NAME HIM/HER? Evelyn Beatrix
28. HOW OLD IS YOUR FIRST BORN TODAY? 4 months and 3 weeks
29. ARE YOU PLANNING TO GO BACK TO his/her BIRTH state SOMEDAY? We have wine club meetings there all the time and we'll go back to see our SW there when we are ready to adopt a younger sibling for Evie.
30. HAVE YOU STARTED OR ALREADY MADE YOUR CHILD A LIFEBOOK? I think I'm overdoing it a bit. I have a lifebook type photo book that I made through Snap*fish, an Adoption themed baby book and I'm working on the first of many scrapbooks. I do want to eventually do a real lifebook but from what I've read, Evie should be involved in creating it, so I'll wait a bit.
Sunday, February 8, 2009
- first time reaching out for my glass of water and tipping it over
- first time reaching out and grabbing a clump of hair out of Phoebe's chest; I am encouraged that Phoebe didn't seem to notice and remained calm, but it could be because she'd just had a bath and was shedding like crazy so it didn't hurt
- first time grabbing my glasses and pulling them off of my face
- she has "discovered" her girly parts; I didn't realize that girls do this just like boys. She's started reaching down during diaper changes and scratching at herself between her legs. It is very annoying when she's poopy or when I'm trying to put on diaper cream. This behavior has coincided with a rash, so I'm hypothesizing that the rash is itchy or otherwise uncomfortable and that's why she's scratching. Her rash is my fault because I normally don't change her diaper when she wakes up for a middle-of-the-night feeding since the change wakes her up more and thus makes it harder to get her back to sleep. But when she pooped in the middle of the night a few nights ago (another first) and I didn't realize it and didn't change her, the rash in the morning was horrible and made me feel like a tremendously crappy mom (pun intended).
- She's started to roll onto her side in her sleep and also to rotate in her crib. Last night I had to go in and rearrange her after she'd rotated a full 270 degrees from the position I put her in to start. Because of this new mobility I decided to take the bumper pads out of her crib until she's 6 months so that she doesn't roll or creep over to one of them and bury her little nose into the side. Deanna and I had a long e-mail conversation about this a few months ago and came to the conclusion that this is when bumper pads aren't safe: when babies are mobile but still younger than 6 months (since 6 months is the big drop-off in SIDS risk). Evie loves the view from the crib now and it, unfortunately, keeps her awake longer because she has so many things to stare at that used to be hidden by the bumper.
- She's beginning to learn to crawl; I know it will probably take her another couple of months to really get it, but she's started reaching her hands out in front of her, grasping something and pulling herself forward a few centimeters and also planting her toes into the carpet or a blanket and pushing off, propelling herself forward a few inches. This is called creeping, right? She's still not rolling from back to front, but she's working on it.
- Finally, and I hate to admit this, she's had her first solids. I thought I would be able to wait until she was 6 months, but the lure of an end to her spitting up was too strong to resist. I have had several people tell me she would stop spitting up when she started solids. I rationalized that she's been drinking Enf*amil AR (acid reflux formula) for months and that has rice in it, so adding rice cereal to her diet wouldn't really be introducing a new food at all! I'm a good rationalizer. I'm still telling myself that I'll wait until 6 months to try any other solids. Anyhow, the results have been mixed. The cereal does seem to reduce her spitting up, as long as she eats it right before she drinks formula or at the same time (spoon of cereal, chug of formula, spoon of cereal, etc.). I thought her tongue thrust reflex was gone because she isn't sticking her tongue out at us all the time like she used to, but starting solids disproved that idea because she did the classic "spit 90% of the cereal back out onto my chin and bib" routine the first couple of days we tried it. As of Saturday she finally seems to have gotten the hang of swallowing and ate a full tablespoon of cereal without leaving most of it on her bib. If the cereal continues to help keep formula in her belly we'll keep feeding it to her, but if it ends up not working then we'll drop it and try again when she's 6 months old.
And now for something completely different...I'm going to call Dr. G, my RE, tomorrow and go in for an ultrasound soon. I had surgery to remove a huge fibroid/cysts/endo at the end of May last year and at the time he asked me to come in after 6 months for a repeat ultrasound. I've been putting it off because of the holidays, etc., but AF is here right now and I'm miserable so I need to figure out what's going on. It's really depressing me that I'm dealing with this stuff so soon after surgery. My first couple of AFs after the surgery were fine, then the one right after Evie was born was horrible, then I had a couple more normal ones and the last couple are back to sitting watching TV with a heating pad in my lap and feeling sorry for myself. Now that we have Evie, I think that if the ultrasound shows lots of problems I would lean toward a hysterectomy rather than another ineffective laparoscopy. I might feel differently when it comes down to it, but grieving the loss of my uterus sounds easier than years of miserable AFs and a string of minor surgeries.
Saturday, February 7, 2009
If you are new to my blog and haven't read any of my other posts in this series, please go back and read this first, before you continue reading this post. Thanks.
Obviously this has been a difficult post for me, since I've been working on it, on and off, for a couple of months. At first, I was putting off this post, hoping I would be able to personalize it with photos of the profile that both M and R described as "perfect" "beautiful" and "brought them to tears." I was more than happy to share it with you, but I can't. No, really, I can't. Read the bottom three paragraphs of this post to know why not. I can't even recreate it by showing all of the pictures I used because many of them I scanned and reprinted for the book and since then had a major hard drive crash and lost a lot of photo data. I have a bad habit of procrastinating on projects when I run into roadblocks. When I make a mistake on a quilt I'll often put it down and not finish it for months and I still have a cross-stitch project that I started over 10 years ago because I mixed up colors and can't bring myself to fix it. Because I've been "working" on this post for so long, it is very looooong. Sorry.
Anyhow, after deciding to continue this post without those pictures, I've struggled with how to describe our profile in a way that would be helpful for other adopting couples, without annoying readers who have already created and submitted their profiles and those who have strict rules for their profiles. I remember clearly that I started second-guessing and regretting things about our profile almost from the moment we turned in the final copies. Every month that passed without a phone call from our SW convinced me that our profile was corny, over-the-top, poorly written, didn't represent us well and had terrible picture choices. A couple of times I broached the subject with my SW, asking her if I should re-do the profile. She always assured me that our profile was "perfect" and that the right birth family just hadn't come along for us yet. If I had run into a post like this one while we were waiting, it would have tortured me. If you are at that point yourself, just stop reading, please!
Our SW was both right and wrong. She was right that a matching birth family hadn't found us yet, but she was wrong that our profile was "perfect." Looking back I realize that our profile was created with an imaginary audience in mind, rather than a realistic audience. I put together the profile with "Ju*no" as my target reader, working hard to appeal to teenage tastes (I'll go into that below). In the end both mothers who chose us were in their late 20s. As an English teacher, I know the importance of audience awareness, and I failed in that respect. Yet, I didn't fail, I succeeded! J and I were chosen twice and adopted Evie. I wouldn't have it any other way. So this post in part describes what we did, but my advice is geared more toward what I would do next time rather than what we did the first time. And, of course, my only qualification to give said advice is that we did successfully adopt Evie Bea. :)
In the end, I think that our profile made a good first impression because it was so elaborate, but it was not what sealed the deal. We spoke with M and T directly about why they chose us, and we heard about R's reasons from our SW (G wasn't involved in picking us but confirmed R's choice when he met us before Evie's birth). The reasons the two couples chose us didn't have anything to do with whether or not J was smiling in a certain photo or because we made sure to include photos of us with other people's children. They chose us because we are smart, well-educated and I am/was a teacher. They chose us because I said I would stay home and because J has excellent vacation benefits and works from home a couple of days each week. They chose us because we are debt-free except for our mortgage, have substantial retirement savings already, and will be able to send Evie and her siblings to college without student loan debt. They chose us because we are Christians with a strong faith and church membership but not "too Christian" (that bothered me at first but then I realized that meant we aren't Bible-thumping, speaking in tongues, Jesus Camp Christians). They chose us because they sympathized with our infertility story. They chose us because they felt connected to us through commonalities in our hobbies, favorite school subjects, choice of pets and family structure.
M, T and R chose us because of the facts of us, as revealed in our home study, birth parent letter and our profile; they did not choose us because I am an awesome scrapbooker. However, our profile did play an important role in our story. Here is what I can say about the hard work and thought that I put into creating our profile: our SW told us that previous birth families who had looked at our profile were impressed by it, M cried openly as she read it and R pulled it out from the bottom of the stack in order to look at it first. It was less than two weeks after we lost Lucy that our SW showed R our profile, along with others. Our SW put it at the bottom of the stack because she wasn't sure we were quite ready to start again at that point. Our profile stood out to R, she pulled it from the bottom of the stack and loved it. As she perused it, our SW read pieces of our home study to her and R felt strongly that we were the perfect family for her baby. Our SW said that each profile R read after that had to measure up to ours and she kept reading 1/3 or 1/2 way through a profile and then putting it aside because she found an aspect that didn't measure up to us. This is not because we are perfect...FAR from it...it's because we were an excellent match with R and G. And I believe divine intervention was involved.
After thinking about it a bit, I believe an adoption profile book is like a first date. On a first date you need to dress up, take extra care with your hygiene/makeup/hair styling, plaster on a smile and try to make interesting conversation. It is such a superficial thing; you would never marry someone based on a first date, even a great one, because it is an experience that represents only the best of the people involved, not the warts and farts. On the other hand, dates 2 through 99...those are the experiences that lead to a proposal, wedding and happily ever after. If a profile is a first date then the homestudy is the courtship. So on the one hand, the profile isn't that important because the right adoptive and birth families match up based on facts in the home study. But on the other hand it is very important because it can get your foot in the door. So. Now I'll describe what we did. This might only be marginally helpful to those of you who have rules about your profile. We didn't have any rules other than that it should have pictures and have our "Dear Special People" letter in the front.
Because I don't have pictures of our profile, I searched online and found some images of the supplies I used. Here's the album we used, from Diecuts with a View's (DCWV) "Once Upon a Time" scrapbooking collection:
Here is a picture of the paper pack I bought that matches the album:
And here is a link to what some other scrapbookers have done with the paper, since I can't show you what I did with it. Some of the paper is a bit over-the-top (i.e. dragons) so we didn't use those sheets. I used mostly the neutral/brown and blue/green colors, with a few of the girly pages included for pictures of myself growing up and for our wedding pictures.
Here's are some examples of some of the embellishments I used that coordinate with the album and the paper:
Honestly, I went to Mich@el's in May of 2007 hoping to find some inspiration because I had no idea what I wanted to do for our profile books. Would I choose something subtle and understated and let the photos speak for themselves? No, because I didn't realize our birth families would be adults who would have appreciated that. Would I choose bright, childlike colors to make us look like fun parents? I'm not an elementary school teacher so that didn't appeal to me. Would I try for elegance like a wedding album? No, wrong vibe. How about shabby chic? Wrong message. Then I saw a display of this "Once Upon a Time" theme and chose it because:
- I still harbored the stereotype that birth mothers are usually teenage girls (not true) and thought this theme would appeal to them
- It has a lot of visual impact with rich colors and textured pages.
- I liked the idea of "telling a beautiful story" about our lives
- I liked the literary/fairytale aspect of the theme (I decided to think of it that way, rather than that I was succumbing to the gaudy lure of "princess" crap, which I detest)
- The paper lent itself to some of the content I needed to cover: the "Once Upon a Time" paper for our introduction; paper that looked like a scroll to go beneath our "Dear Special People letter;" "In a Land Far, Far Away" paper to cover our early marriage, since we haven't always lived in the area we do now and "Happily Ever After" paper to use for the last page, with the idea that our ever after will be even more happy with a baby in the family. So true.
- I was excited to find a collection so that I could buy albums, paper and embellishments that all matched and coordinated. Scrapbookers will tell you that matching colors and styles is one of the hardest parts of creating layouts if you don't buy collections. For those of you who don't scrapbook, find a good collection that coordinates and the scrapbook will almost make itself; and it will look like you are creative and talented at paper crafts even if you aren't! There are many companies that make collections that coordinate and you can buy them at Mi*chaels, Jo*Ann, H*obby L*obby, A*rchivers and other craft stores.
The next step, after finding my materials, was to select photos to use. Here were my criteria then, plus the criteria I'll use when we make our next profile book to adopt baby #2:
- Choose photos that tell stories. Birth families are looking at your profile and trying to imagine their baby fitting into your life. That is easier to do if the photos are of you doing things rather than posing in a studio. Candid pictures do this better than posed photos, so use as many candids as you can in order to show all of the things you want to show. For example, don't just take a picture of your house, take a picture of your spouse in the front yard in mid-throw with a tennis ball and the family dog a blur of movement. The birth family will still see what your house looks like from the front but it will look lived-in instead of like a real-estate ad. They will imagine their baby sitting on a blanket in the grass and later on, playing fetch with the dog.
- Use photos that broaden your family. Birth families aren't just placing their baby with you, they are placing him or her with your network of family and friends. The people looking at your profile want to see the faces of their baby's potential grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, (of course brothers and sisters if applicable), church friends and, of course, the people who will one day write checks and give presents at a high school graduation party: your friends. :)
- If your friends have kids and/or you have nieces and nephews or other kids in your life then there are two reasons to include pictures of them. First, they are your baby's future playmates and second, including pictures of you with them (the kids) shows you interacting with children and helps a birth family imagine what kind of parents you will be.
- Don't over analyze how you look in the photos. Remember this: you are about 10 times as hard on yourself in pictures as anybody else is. Yes, all things being equal, attractive looking couples tend to be chosen before unattractive couples...but in our agency I have noticed that the pretty people are getting matched at the same rate as the plain people, so I would suggest just being yourself and not worrying about whether a certain photo is an unflattering angle for your hips, chin or nose, as long as there are other good reasons to use it.
- Choose photos that will tell a story about your lives as a whole. You don't need to use the hokey "Once Upon a Time" and "Happily Ever After" schtick that we did, but you do want to give the birth family an opportunity to see what you looked like as kids, how you met, dating pictures, wedding pictures and pictures that show what your lives have been like since the wedding.
- Your story will, of course, be unique to you. However, as much as possible you should show yourselves as well-rounded: active (i.e. not every photo of you together is on a couch), loving (pictures of you together with your arms around each other), independent (pictures of you individually with friends, family, etc. and not only with each other), well-traveled (so that they will know the baby will have chances to travel, too), and social (doing fun things with friends, not just posed with family in front of a Christmas tree).
- If you don't have the pictures you need, don't hesitate to ask around to friends and family for pictures that work, or to just take a camera to church with you so that you can capture your spouse working in the nursery or singing on stage, for example. It's not dishonest to take pictures specifically for the profile as long as they are of things that are really a part of your life. I would not suggest hiring a professional candid photographer, however; it would probably end up looking like you are trying too hard. Adopting couples are already stereotyped as desperate and willing to throw money at anyone and anything that will help them become parents; hiring a pro just reinforces that stereotype.
- Choose photos that can be captioned in a couple of words, a phrase or at most a sentence. I believe the birth family wants captions but doesn't want to read paragraphs under each picture, unless you're breaking up your letter on different pages of the profile and using photos to support each paragraph; in that case it's fine.
After purchasing supplies and choosing pictures, it's time to lay them out. You do this to tell your own story, but here's what we did, organized by spread:
- Cover: (see above for what it looked like) and we added this photo and our names:
- Page 1: 8x10 photo of us together with our names below it on "Once Upon A Time" paper; yes this is the same as the cover (but a different picture). I did this because our letter was 2 pages long and I wanted it on the pp. 2-3 spread and didn't know what else to do with page 1.
- Pages 2-3: "Dear Special People" letter on parchment colored translucent paper over scrapbook paper with the image of a scroll (make sense?) It looked great.
- Pages 4-5: pictures of me growing up, on girly paper; I had pics of me as a baby, as a schoolgirl, teenager and young woman. These pics are easy to eliminate if you can't make a huge profile book like we did, but I think that having them helped our birth families feel as though they really knew us. These were all candids.
- Pages 6-7: pictures of J growing up, on manly paper; they were all candids
- Pages 8-9: pictures of us dating and our wedding on "In a Land Far, Far Away" paper; here we are in 1998 when I was 20 and J was 25:
- Pages 10-11: pictures of our parents and siblings; these were posed but in the next book they will be candids
- Pages 12-13: pictures of my aunts and uncles and two adopted cousins (I should write about that some time...) and pictures of us with kids/babies (friends' kids, cousins, my nephew)
- Pages 14-15: pictures of our dogs and our house/backyard/neighborhood park
- Pages 16-17: pictures of us with friends and doing church stuff
- Page 18: another picture of us together on "Happily Ever After" paper with scrapbooking doo-dads that said things like "dream" and "hope" and "family"
I'm pretty sure it was a 20 page scrapbook, so either I removed a page or I'm missing a spread in my memory. Hmmmmm....
Anyhow, for those of you who aren't allowed to do a 12"x12" 20 page scrapbook, or don't WANT to do such a book :) just use the same kinds of photos I'm describing but don't include as many of them. Our book was frankly overwrought because we didn't have rules to rein me in.
Here are some other guidelines for creating your profile that I'm going to copy and paste from my previous post about the "Dear Special People" letter:
- Resist the temptation to "pad" your profile as you might a resume by exaggerating positive things about your life. You might think you know what birth parents want to hear, but you could be wrong. Birth parents often choose adoptive parents with whom they have something in common; if you exaggerate an aspect of yourself and a birth parent identifies with that part of your profile, you will have an awkward situation on your hands when you are at your match meeting and they try to strike up an in-depth conversation about whatever it is! If you are pursuing an open adoption, remember that this letter is addressed to people whom you will get to know well over the years; best to begin the relationship as honestly as possible.
- Despite the previous point, don't reveal too much in the profile. For example, one of J's hobbies is home wine-making. We don't keep this a secret, but we also decided that it is the kind of thing that is better discussed in person, not written in a letter or show in a photo. If a birth parent were a recovering alcoholic, J's hobby might alarm the birth parent and cause them to stop considering us. On the other hand, once they have met us and seen that we are normal people, it is less likely that J's hobby would be an issue. In our letter, we chose to emphasize J playing the drums for our church band and his cooking skills, instead. At our match meeting we casually brought up his hobby by describing the European style dessert wine he was making that year and naming "Clio," (vintage 2008 of course). He chose this dessert wine because it should age well enough to be served at Evie's wedding some day.
- Organize your content clearly so that you don't accidentally repeat yourself.
- Get lots of feedback and proofreading help. Show your profile to as many people as you feel comfortable. I never regretted showing my profile book around to several friends and family members. Most of them just said "it's beautiful" and didn't give any advice, but a few did give me helpful suggestions. I also showed the book to a friend who had been a teen mom and she gave me some feedback as to what she would have thought of it if she had made an adoption plan for her daughter. That was helpful!
- Resist the urge to print captions in a fancy font that is hard to read. Fonts with serifs (the little marks that stick out from the points/edges of letters) are easier to read. Use serifs, not "sans serif" like Ariel.
Finally, a few more tidbits and advice:
If you have successfully adopted a child, I would love for you to add a comment to this post and describe your own profile and how you feel about it after the fact. If you are currently waiting and have read all the way to this point, I hope this post didn't make you anxious as I would have made me, but I'd love to have you comment about what your profile looks like and how you feel about it. Or if anyone has any advice to add to mine, feel free!
Thursday, February 5, 2009
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
When it comes to bedtime, however, I have a new dilemma. This is the third business trip J has taken since Evie was born. During the first one (hell week) Evie was tiny and I just brought her into bed with me and we co-slept, so I was able to do my ritual paranoid bedtime routine: lock the bedroom door and put my cell phone on the bedside table. My plan has always been that the dogs would wake me up if there was an intruder and I would have enough time with the locked bedroom door to run into the master bathroom with my cell phone and brace against the bathroom door with my back against the cabinets and my feet against the door and call 911. My plan made me feel safe and I always slept well. With Evie in bed with me the only change was to scoop her up along with the cell phone. No problem.
During J's second business trip his mom was here to help with Evie and with her in the house I didn't need to go through my paranoid routine.
This week, however, I am alone with Evie and she is sleeping so well in her crib that I am loathe to break her routine by bringing her to bed with me. So for the past two nights I have had to face the following dilemma: do I put her in her crib as usual (and with her door open so that her room doesn't get too cold and she gets good air flow to prevent SIDS) and lock myself in my bedroom? It just seems so wrong and un-motherly to lock myself in and leave her door open as if I'm saying "hey, intruder, take the baby but leave me alone." My other option was to abandon my typical home-alone routine and just go to bed as if J were here. But would I sleep well without the security of the locked door? As a single parent, this week, I need my sleep!
So which option do you think I chose?
I know I'm not the only one who has weird paranoid routines for being home alone. I've seen several other women write about this type of thing on their blogs or had them mention it in person to me. I was thinking last night that the source of this paranoia comes, I think, from movies and the news (And the A*DT commercials, have you seen them? Creepy.). Invariably, my image of the intruder has been of a creepy guy who has been stalking me and is breaking in to rob and rape me.
OK, so I chose the second option. I've been sleeping with my door open AND my cell phone on my desk downstairs! Somehow having Evie home with me has calmed down my paranoia. Why? She is completely defenseless and can't protect me; I am here to protect her! I think it's because the movie/book/news scenarios of rapist intruders are always of a woman home alone and never (at least never that I've seen) a mother with an infant. Evie has changed my demographic and I no longer envision myself as that woman in the security system commercial. The chances of our house being broken into haven't changed, I don't think, but my perception of the risk has changed. Thanks Evie.
Anyone else want to share their home-alone rituals or whether motherhood has changed them?
Monday, February 2, 2009
So here are some random, cute photos. This one was taken at Thanksgiving by J's mom's cousin's husband. I think it's my favorite Evie photo of all time, so far. J scanned it for me because we only had a print of it until this morning. And here is a JC*Penney portrait from our recent week in Texas. My mom wanted an 8x10 of Evie in overalls and a white shirt, with a grassy background, to match an 8x10 she has of my nephew sitting in grass in overalls and a white shirt. Evie was having a rough photo shoot after the idiot photographer decided it was OK to try to prop her up inside a wooden crate (smooth though, no splinters) without any padding. Evie bumped her head and it was all over. But not before we captured ONE good shot: