Saturday, July 30, 2011

7 years ago today

July 30, 2004 was a day that forever changed my life.  At 12:28 pm, Chloe was born.

Prior to that moment, that life-defining moment, I didn't know what all the baby-craziness was about.  I wasn't one of those people that always knew I wanted children.  I didn't know if I ever wanted kids.  Through the whole labor and delivery process, up until the second she was born, I was DEFINITELY asking myself why anyone would ever do this more than once.

And then...

She was born.

And in an instant, I got it.  I understood why my mom and billions of other women do this multiple times.  That tiny little person (who actually felt like a BIG HUGE PERSON on the way out) was absolutely amazing.  There were no words to describe how I felt when I saw her the first time.  I just remember thinking, "Oh.  THAT'S why.  That's why women do this.  That is, by far, the coolest thing I have ever been a part of."  People say freshly born babies can look like aliens.  Maybe they do.  But she was the cutest dang alien I'd ever seen.  I couldn't believe I had the privilege of bringing her into this world.  And it felt like a privilege.  Like I didn't deserve this amazing gift, but here I was receiving it anyway.

To me, it was God's grace in action once again.  For about a year before I got pregnant, I wasn't very interested in what God had planned for my life.  I wanted to do my own thing.  Live the single life to the "fullest", whatever that meant.  I didn't want God messing with my "freedom".  And then I took a pregnancy test and my delusional world shattered.  I was in crisis mode and had to quickly figure out a plan.  At first I didn't see it as a privilege to carry this little girl.  I was overwhelmed, in denial, and too self-absorbed to see the big picture.  But then, as the immediacy of the crisis waned, and I could breathe again, I had sense enough to ask God to help me.  Help me make the best decision I could for this precious little life inside of me.  I wasn't sure how God could redeem this situation.  I was pregnant and not married.  This kind of thing didn't happen in MY family.  Growing up in a Christian home, I had been around Christians all my life.  My parents were elders in their church.  I was worried.  In general, some people are good at this Christianity thing.  Some people are not.  I anticipated judgment.  What I received was grace.  God must have chuckled at my disbelief.  He overwhelmed me with mercy, love and redemption.  

When I told my parents I was pregnant and considering adoption, my mom cried tears of joy.  Not tears of sadness, rejection, anger, bitterness, or judgment.  Joy.  She said "I'm going to have another grandbaby!"  My dad said "A baby is a baby.  That's a gift from the Lord."  And then I cried.  Tears of relief.

God granted me favor with my boss at the time.  She did not, by law, have to extend to me health benefits (like COBRA) if I quit my job.  I couldn't leave my job and leave my benefits.  If she didn't go for this idea, I couldn't move home to NC (from SC).   She accepted my request.  Grace abounded.

I moved home as soon as I could after encountering such acceptance, grace and mercy from my parents. I started going to their church.  More grace, mercy, love and compassion.  That church loves people very well.  It was a couple at that church that I chose to be Chloe's parents.

My husband says that Chloe is the reason we're together now.  "Chloe changed you.  Softened you."  He knew me before, during and after Chloe.  He noticed the change of heart that took place.  My relationship with him, my marriage, is another way God demonstrated redemption to me.

There are more examples, but you get the idea.  When Chloe was born, my heart was in such a different place than it was when I found out I was pregnant.  That's why I can say with confidence that carrying her, birthing her, placing her for adoption with a stable, loving, Christian couple, was absolutely a privilege and an honor.

Chloe, you are an incredible, adventuresome, fun-loving, sweet, caring little girl.  Thanks for changing my life forever for the better.

Love, your tummy mommy

Friday, July 29, 2011

7 weeks

It's amazing what a difference a week can make.  Last week I was banging my head against a wall.  This week I feel hopeful.  What's changed?  Not a whole lot.  Just my perspective, I guess.  As everyone has mentioned again and again, it does get better every week.  We ARE going to live through this newborn phase, as it turns out!

James is trying to become more of a 3.5 - 4 hour feeder most of the time.  At night, sometime between 7 and 9 pm, he'll go for 5 hours (a couple of times even 6 hours!) before he eats again.  That's when I get my longest stretch of sleep.  LOVE THAT.

Here are some pictures from 6 weeks.  I'm a week behind, I know.

These pictures were taken right after I bathed him.  He was all fresh and clean and smelled purdy....for approximately 3 minutes before he loaded his diaper and spit up all over the fresh shirt.  Whoever said "clean shirts make babies nauseous" was so. very. right. :)

A few numbers:

  • 10 lbs. 11 oz.  His weight at 6 weeks at the pediatrician's office.
  • 11 lbs 1 oz. His weight 7 days later.  He gained 6 oz. in seven days.  Not too shabby for a kid who only eats 6 minutes at a time.
  • 1x/week.  How often we're going to the pediatrician.  Following a belly button issue (umbilical granuloma).  More on that later.
  • Eleventy billion.  The number of times a day he spits up.  Okay, maybe slightly less, but he's reeeeeally good at it. :)  According to my internet searching, he's what is called a "happy spitter".  
  • 5 times. Number of times he's smiled at Scott or myself.  Can't wait for more of this!  It's so dang cute!
  • <3 weeks.  How long I have before I go back to work.  Actually, Scott too.
  • >100.  Number of outfits we own for James.
  • <10.  Number of outfits we are using for James.  Who knew?
  • 16.  Number of burp cloths we own.
  • 16.  Number of burp cloths we USE.  Again...who knew?
  • 1.  Number of cats in this household (out of 2 total) who have seemed to accept him into our "herd".  Nestle head-butted him the other day while he was sleeping-instead-of-nursing.  It was a very sweet jesture.  Head-butting is Nestle's love language.
  • 2.  Number of parents in this household who are totally smitten with this little boy.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

6 weeks

Today James is 6 weeks old.  I'm sorry there's no 6 week picture, but that requires entirely too much effort.

I thought by now...

...we'd be sleeping, on occasion, longer than 0-2 hours at a time.
(Feedings generally take about an hour.  Not because he eats very long at all, but the eating/trying to convince him to eat/burping/diaper changing/calming him down/getting him to sleep takes about an hour. Last night he ate at 8:30pm, 11:30pm, 2:30am, 4:30am, 6:30am, 8am, 9am, 10am...) 

...that I'd feel warm, fuzzy, and gushy inside about motherhood.
(Today I had a total meltdown.  I felt weepy, tired, angry and frustrated.)

...that I'd feel more competent as a mom.
(Today I felt like an incompetent failure as a mom and wife.  I can't make my baby happy, or keep him happy for very long. MOM-FAILURE!  My husband has to swoop in and save the day all.the.time.  WIFE-FAILURE!)

...nursing would be a breeze.
(He eats for 3-5 minutes at a time most of the time.  I cannot seem to convince him to eat longer.  He latches fine and is gaining weight, but this is certainly contributing to his short sleeping intervals.  Well, that and he spits up as a hobby.  Fun times.)

That's all.  Sorry for the debbie-downer post.  Just keepin' it real, folks.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Baby Showers

The kiddo is here, as you may have already read, but I never told you about my wonderful baby showers!  They were pretty amazing.  Scott and I are surrounded by fun, quality people that showed us some serious lurv through a few different baby showers.  Also, as a side note, I enjoyed getting my hair and toes done in preparation for each one.

The first shower was with a group of friends of mine from NC State.  Everybody lived with somebody at the shower at some point during our college careers.  We met at Sweet Tomatoes and had a great time.  Some of these ladies traveled GREAT distances to join this party.  I felt very, very special for all the effort made!

Shower #1,  March 19, 2011

(L to R) Brandi, Carla, Lisa, BA, Robbye, Amanda, Tiffanee,  and Rachel
Cute baby stuff was acquired.

We headed over to NC State to reminisce.

No NC State reunion is complete without a Goodberry's trip!

Shower #2, April 8, 2011

Momma Bain, as I affectionately call her, or Michele to everyone else, threw an AMAZING shower at her house with all my work people.  The food was to. die. for.  The decorations were so cute and appropriately giraffe oriented (the theme of the nursery).  And she didn't make us play games.  It was awesome. :) (Thanks to Naomi, Michele's daughter, for all the effort she put into this party, too!) Once again, I felt the lurv.  Big time.  Several people came to the shower (in the evening) AFTER work.  That may not be a big deal to you, but we work 12 hours shifts.  Doing ANYTHING social after work is note worthy.  I so appreciated everybody coming to the party.  Prior to all these baby showers, I thought if/when I went to a baby shower, it wasn't that big of a deal.  But I felt like these people were coming to my WEDDING and I was sooooo grateful for their time, the thoughtful gifts, and the sacrifice lots of people made to spend an evening with me!
Momma (Michele) Bain and I

Shower #3, April 9, 2011

This shower was hosted and attended by a combination of people.  We had a sprinkling of my Wake Tech nursing classmates, lots of family, and some long time friends from NC State and USC (South Carolina, not Southern Cal, just for the record).  Juli, one of the key masterminds behind this shower, happens to be an EXPERT at throwing baby showers.  She has thrown some ridiculous number of showers in the past 5 years.  (20+?)  Like I said, expert.   The food at this shower was also amazing.  Particularly of note were the cupcakes, hand-crafted by the talented Melissa.
It's hard to see the red velvet cupcakes in this picture, but they have cute little animals on them.  They were delicious.  Trust me.
Nikki and Aunt Libby.  Nikki was in charge of writing down who gave us what.  Her commentary in that note-taking was hilarious to read later.
More cute stuff!

Awesome Ergo Carrier from Uncle John and Aunt Darla.
Notice the giraffe-themed bumper hanging from the curtain rods behind us.  They got us our bedding for the crib and it was displayed nicely around the room.
Everybody got to make their own onesies.  This is Jason's handiwork. 

I'm not sure who made this one, nor am I am quite sure what that equation means.  Something about feeding the kid every 1-3 hours? I guess I should ask my math teacher-husband. :)
Jason, the balloon bearer.

Shower #4, May 18, 2011

This shower was thrown for Scott and his coworker Brian by the math department at Scott's school.  We played the super-gross "Guess which candy bar is melted in the diaper" game.  Ewwww.  Definitely an appropriate game for a shower thrown for two guys!  We also played the game where you had a necklace (baby-themed) and if you said the word "baby", somebody else could take your necklace from you.  Needless to say, I lost my necklace pretty quick-like.  I did NOT win. :)  Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures from this shower.  The math department knows how to throw a party, though!  We had a great time with fun people and got incredible gifts.  
This time:  As I said before, we felt very loved and celebrated throughout all these showers!  

Last time:  When I had my daughter, Chloe, various people offered to throw me a shower.  I couldn't quite figure out how to have a baby shower for me, for Chloe, without it being this whole bittersweet event.  The presents would need to go to the adoptive family, which I didn't select until 6 weeks before she was born.  I didn't want to have to have a fake smile on my face, trying to look excited while feeling overwhelmed and unsure.  I greatly appreciated the offer, though.  As it turned out, there was a shower thrown for the adoptive family after Chloe was born.  That, to me, was perfect.  My mom and sister-in-law went.  They took lots of pictures for me. 

Melissa and Alvin, the proud parents.

Raegan, my niece (3 months old), and Chloe (3 weeks)

My mom, Chloe, and Melissa

I was invited to go, but I wanted it to be an exclusively happy event.  I was afraid if I went, a) I might cry the whole time, or b) people would feel awkward by me being there.  I've read blogs of other birthmothers that did have baby showers.  It worked for them.  It didn't work for me.  As I've gone through this experience, I've learned that it is an extremely individualized process.  What works for one birthmother or adoptive family might not work for another.  And that's perfectly okay.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Leaving the Hospital

Background info:  I placed my precious daughter, Chloe, for adoption when she was born.  I just had my second child, James, 4 weeks ago.  In a lot of ways, my second pregnancy felt like my first because of all the differences from the first time around.

Leaving the hospital the first time, August 1, 2004:

  • Worst day of my life. 
  • Copious amounts of tears.   
  • Despite my resolve about my decision, I'd never felt pain like that before...including the two days prior when I gave birth to the most amazing baby girl ever.  
  • I watched another family loading up their car with the new baby and the balloons and the car seat, etc.  
  • My heart ached.  
  • I was leaving empty handed.  
  • Alone.  
  • No baby.  
  • Oh the indescribable pain.  
  • My poor parents. 
  • The discharge nurse walked out with us basically holding my mom upright.  She was almost as much of a wreck as I was.
  • My dad was in servant overdrive mode, doing everything he could for my mom and I to ease our pain.  I know he hurt too, but ex-military dads are more discreet about showing pain.

Leaving the hospital the second time, June 10, 2011:

  • I cried the day before leaving because I was scared.  I dreaded "leaving day".  It was so painful last time.  People kept asking me if I was going to leave a day early because James and I were doing so well.  I absolutely didn't want to move up "leaving day".  I wanted to put it off as long as possible.
  • But instead, I felt joy. Oh the joy.
  • A few tears as I remembered the last time and the pain that went with it.
  • Complete unbelief that Scott and I were allowed to take this sweet baby home.  Shouldn't there be some kind of qualifications you have to have to be a parent??!
  • My heart felt full.  Full of love for this new baby, for my partner in this parenting-thing Scott.  
  • I felt grateful.  Extremely grateful for getting an opportunity to be a parent.
  • Not alone.
  • We packed our car with balloons, flowers, gifts and a car seat complete with our baby boy in it.

I didn't mean to make anybody cry.  I cried typing this post.  I share this to show how God has redeemed my life.  He is in the redemption business.  He takes things that were meant to be ugly, painful, and harmful and he turns the situation around for good.  That's what he did with Chloe.  He took a crisis pregnancy and used it for good.  I attribute my relationship with Chloe's parents, my marriage, my new son, my nursing degree and many other things to God's redemption of my life.  I was on a path of destruction and he saved me from myself.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Lessons Learned

After 3 weeks of parenting a newborn, I thought I'd share some things I've learned thus far.  For those of you without kids, hopefully this will be amazingly informative.  For those of you with kids, you already know this and can probably skip reading the whole post.  In no particular order:

1)  Life with a newborn is no different than life pre-newborn... long as your life pre-newborn involved caring for another human who cried incessantly, soiled britches, did not allow you to sleep, and routinely "gave back" (all over your clothes) some portion of every meal consumed.

2)  I never knew how little sleep I actually need to function.

Since we're giving the whole breastfeeding thing a whirl, I'm the only one who can feed the kid.  We're doing one bottle/day just to get him used to eating from a bottle, but even during that time, when Scott is feeding the baby, I'm pumping.  This means that every 1, 2, or 3 hours, I'm feeding the baby.  The feeding process can take an hour.  (feeding off and on, changing a diaper or two, burping, etc)  You do the math.  Even if he eats every 3 hours (on a good day), at most I can get 2 hours of sleep.  I don't call that a night's rest.  I call that a nap.

Correction:  I used to call that a nap.  Now I call it a night's rest.

3)  Putting socks on a newborn is an exercise in futility.

Newborns, according to my wise friend Andrea who has two kids, will only wear one sock at a time.  I've found this to be true. I put on two socks on my child.  I turn my head for a second and look back and somehow only ONE sock is still on said child.  It's truly a mysterious thing.

4)  Even die hard Dave Ramsey fans such as Scott and I would be willing to sacrifice LARGE AMOUNTS of money if it would help our screaming child settle.

James doesn't cry all the time.  In fact, he probably cries less than 2.5 hours every day.  Total.  But when he DOES cry, and we've tried everything we can think of to make him happy and nothing works, it is in those moments that we'd bust our budget in a heartbeat if we knew it would make a difference in the cry-fest.

5)  Newborns are hilarious to watch.

The total lack of coordination with every movement and the contorted facial expressions of newborns make for some great entertainment.  Especially if one has had very little sleep (see #2 above), these type things make one laugh.  A lot.

6)  Working as a NICU nurse only mildly prepared me to care for a newborn.

Yes, I was already comfortable changing diapers and holding/handling a baby when I came home with my son.  However, at my job when babies are crying, it is almost always food-related.  Feed them, problem solved.  If the problem is not food related, it is often dirty diaper or possibly position related.  Change a diaper, reposition the baby and Wahlah!  Happy (or at least quiet) baby.  Being at home with a newborn is a whole new ball game. My recently fed, clean diapered, warm baby can be down right unreasonable.  And that leaves me going "Wha?!?"  So then we begin the cycle of trying out different comfort measures to make him happy.  Swaddle him, walk with him, put him in the bouncy chair, take him out of the bouncy chair, play with him, turn on the vacuum/sound machine/bathroom fan, double and triple check his diaper, offer to feed him more...wash/rinse/repeat.  Eventually, one of the things we tried 3 times already will finally work.  And then there will be peace and quiet.  And there is much rejoicing.

7)  I definitely underestimated the amount of bodily fluids that would end up on my clothes.

I figured, since I work with babies for a living, I would be better than most new parents at avoiding getting spit-up, peed or pooped on.  I was sadly, sadly mistaken.  I thought our laundry would increase because of the baby's clothes and blankets and such.  I didn't count on having to wash my own stuff so. much. more. often just because I can't stay clean to save my life.

8)  I don't think I will be able to do any single task start to finish, in one sitting, ever again.

As soon as I start to do anything, on the computer, make a phone call, take a shower, watch a 30 minute show on tv, the baby needs something.  For example, since starting this blog post, I've stopped and started at least 3 times.  In 40 minutes. :)

Well, that's all for now.  Stay tuned as this adventure continues!!