Sunday, December 16, 2012

Reese's Delivery Story, Part 3 (the finale!)

I bring you the conclusion to my labor story.  And actually, this is the only part of the story that includes LABOR.  Go figure...

Allow me to introduce you to the cast of this story:
Jenn, Nightshift Labor and Delivery Nurse
She took fantastic care of me during the overnight hours.
Ashley, Dayshift Labor and Delivery Nurse
Quite possibly THE most important person in the room because of all she does!
Dr. Alvarez, Obstetrician and Comedian
The comedic value provided by this man was highly appreciated.  Also, his medical expertise was helpful, too...
Amy, Friend, Photographer, Doula, Sweet Tea Deliverer, Cheerleader #3.  She wore many hats in my delivery room. Voted "Least Likely to Faint" of my support people.
Nikki, Sister, Friend, Cheerleader #2
"Sisters, Sisters...there were never such devoted sisters!" She has been present for each of my deliveries.  Third time is a charm, right?!
Scott, Husband, Cheerleader #1, The One Responsible for My Condition, voted "Most Likely to Faint" of my support people.
On Wednesday evening, November 7th, I was flitting about the house taking care of last minute details.  Vacuuming one more time.  Emptying trash cans.  Finishing up laundry.  Changing the sheets.  You know, nesting.  Nesting is also known as doing all those things that may not ever get done again after the baby was born.  I noticed a lot of contractions that got my attention during my cleaning frenzy.  Scott, too, was doing things he thought might never happen again after the baby--watching football. :)  I got in bed around 10pm, but wasn't able to sleep because of all the contractions.  When Scott came to bed around 11:00pm (thinking he was going to sleep), I told him we may need to time some of these contractions.  He whimpered a little at the idea of not sleeping, downloaded a contractions app on his ipod touch, and started timing things for me.  For the next hour and a half, we timed contractions.  They were consistently 3-5 minutes apart and strong enough that I couldn't sleep through them.  We debated about what to do next.  Both of us were nervous about waiting too long to go to the hospital.  This was my third baby and it hadn't been that long since baby #2.  This could be a fast labor.  I.DO.NOT.WANT. a home birth.  Or a car birth.  Or a parking lot of the hospital birth.  The only reason I was hesitating about calling my doctor was that I wanted to be sure it wasn't a false alarm.  I'd had some rather convincing stretches of contractions in recent weeks that never went anywhere.  Was this another practice run for my uterus?  Scott told me later he was more worried about me NOT getting an epidural than he was about me having a baby at home.  Smart, smart man...

Around 12:30am, after hemming and hawing for a bit, we decided to call my parents to come over and stay with James while we went to the hospital to get checked.  I got in the shower while we waited for them.  When they arrived, I called my doctor and let him know what was up.  I would not enjoy his job, by the way.  Receiving phone calls at all hours of the night would pose a significant "be nice" challenge for me.  Pregnancy alone poses a significant "be nice" challenge for me.  Dr. Alvarez, although sleepy sounding, was quite pleasant and agreed I should go to the hospital and let them see if I was truly in labor.  At this point I was able to talk/walk through the contractions, but they were definitely notable.  When we left for the hospital, I called my other two support people who were going to be in the room with Scott and I--Nikki and Amy.  These wonderful ladies had been "on call" for me for the last few weeks, awaiting the "IT'S TIME" phone call from me.  When I called I told them I didn't know if it was time yet, so sit tight for now, but that we were headed to the hospital to find out.  I'm not sure that they got much sleep after that.  

We arrived at the hospital around 1:45am.  Jenn was my nurse.  She was wonderful.  I know a lot of labor and delivery nurses at my hospital since I work with them, but I didn't know Jenn.  That's okay, though.  She was superb.  The first thing she did was check my cervix.  I told her I was 2-3 cm in the office earlier that day.  After she checked me:  still 3 cm.  <sigh>  I was pretty disappointed by that news.  All that contracting with no cervical change means not real labor.  Sad.  I took comfort in the fact that they wouldn't send me home, since I was supposed to come in later that morning to be induced.  She started my IV, drew all my lab work, hooked me up to the contraction/baby monitors for about 15 minutes, and then around 3am sent us walking for about an hour.  We moseyed all over that hospital.  I figured the security guards probably had a blast watching us on their cameras.  We were pretty darn tired, which led to a lot of humor as we walked.  When we came back from our almost hour long walk, Jenn put me back on the monitors to see what was happening with my contractions.  There wasn't a lot of change in the contraction intensity or frequency after walking, so she didn't check my cervix.  We had the option to go walking again for another hour, but dude.  We were tired.  Sort of like walking, we opted to rest instead.  I was really grateful for Jenn's attention to detail.  I only had to be monitored for 15 minutes out of every hour.  Since I was staying in the bed to rest, she could have just left me attached to the monitors, but she didn't.  She disconnected everything so I could rest better.  Thank you, Jenn!  Scott was zonked out in the recliner.  I dozed off and on for the next 45 minutes.  About 5am, Jenn reconnected the monitors.  Unfortunately my contractions had decreased in both frequency and intensity.  I mean, good for me since I got to sleep a little bit, but bad since this baby WAS.NEVER.COMING.OUT.   

6:26am text to Amy: "I'm going backwards it seems.  Walked for ab 45 min starting at 3am.  Monitored for 15 min.  Then dozed off/on from 4:15ish til 5.  Monitoring again now.  Ctxs spread out during the last hour...haven't been checked again (no need yet!)."

Amy's response: "Boo! I was getting nervous you had already had the Reese is going to be a tricky one!"

By this point, it was clear that it was going to take being officially induced (giving me pitocin) to get labor started.  Induction would likely happen on day shift, as was the plan the day before.  Scott and I could have stayed home.  My parents, us, Nikki, and Amy all could have slept a little better than we did.  Hindsight really is 20/20. 

7am brought a change of the guard.  Jenn reported off to Ashley, my dayshift nurse.  We would await word from Dr. Alvarez before proceeding.

7:52am Facebook post:  Alrighty...the latest and greatest:  At the hospital since 2am.  Contracting all night long, but no established ACTIVE labor. Curses.  At least we're here and awaiting pitocin.  Hopefully I'll just need a whiff of it to get labor really started!  

*For the non-medical folks:  pitocin is given through an IV.  One does not "inhale" pitocin, just for the record.*

7:53am Facebook post:  Scott and I have moseyed around this hospital a LOT. Ready to get this show on the road.

8:03am  Facebook post:  Did you sleep last night? Did you eat breakfast this morning? You win x2.

I knew when I left my house at 1:30am that I should probably eat something because they don't let you eat when you get to the hospital.  But I was hurting and it was the middle of the night.  I wasn't exactly hungry.  By 8am, I was regretting that decision...  Scott had a chance to go get breakfast, so I encouraged him to do so around 8am.  No sense in BOTH of us getting no sleep and no food.  

9:26am Facebook post:  Houston...we have pitocin. I repeat, we have pitocin.

Amy arrived on the scene around 9:30am.  She brought with her a McDonald's sweet tea.  Yum.  I consumed this beverage in mass quantities during this pregnancy.  I figured my labor day should be no different.  The pitocin got started pretty quickly as evidenced by my next facebook post:

10:33am  It's getting real up in here folks.  PAIN.  There is pain.

Because of the significant change in frequency and intensity of the contractions, Ashley checked my cervix. 

10:46am 4 cm....FOUR CM!!!!!! :(

Much like when my cervix was checked the last time, I was really, really disappointed to hear I was only 4 cm!  The pain was getting intense.  I was sure I'd made a lot of progress!  And yet...only 1 more cm.  This little girl was taking her sweet, sweet time getting here.  

In the next hour, my pain level went way, way up.  I requested an epidural and Ashley made sure I got one in a timely fashion, God bless her.  Dr. Alvarez was in the room at this point.  He had been there for a little while.  He and Scott were having a grand time joking back and forth.  I'm not sure there has ever been a more comedic labor and delivery room.  When I wasn't wincing in pain, I enjoyed the entertainment.  While I was getting my epidural, though?  I almost kicked both of them out of the room.  I had zero sense of humor during that time.  But before I was able to utter the words, the magic medicine was taking effect and the pain was easing up and I no longer felt like causing anyone harm.

11:53am  The epidural has landed. :)
11:58am  Epidural + Tea = Happyhappyhappy

11:59am  Oh em geeeez.  I heart epidurals.  

I'm not one of those women that is good at listening to my body during labor, allowing it to do it's thing, going with the flow, relaxing, visualizing ocean waves, etc.  I'm more like scrunch my face up, grip the sheets so tightly my fingernails make little half-moon dents in my palms, question my sanity for ever going through this more than once kinda woman.  I require medication through an epidural to endure labor.

12:14pm  5 centimeters!  Wow.  LIGHTNING SPEED LABOR. :) Also, water eez broked.  All by itself.  Eeeeeeewwww.  Doula Amy and dearest love responsible for my condition Scott are eating lunch (not in my room cuz that would be mean).

Nikki arrived to our labor and delivery party after getting off work around 12ish.  We couldn't have a baby without her!

Each time I was checked, I was surprised by the oh-so-slow pace that I was moving along.  Everybody said it would go so much faster since this was the third time.  I didn't find that to be the case.  The only reason it mattered is because I'm impatient.  Baby Reese was tolerating labor just fine.  I was making acceptable progress to the medical powers that be.  It was just me that was wishing things would hurry on up!

I enjoyed much comfort and laughter and a little bit of a nap from the time I got the epidural until it was time to push.  The way my body works with epidurals, I have great pain relief of my abdomen.  The contractions are barely noticeable.  However, when the baby gets low enough and it's time to actually push that baby OUT, my nether-regions are not quite as numb as I'd like them to be.  I'd like them to be completely numb.  But they tend to be not really numb at all.  Bummer.  This shocked me and upset me during James' delivery. This time I was more prepared for it.  I knew it would hurt.  I knew I had to suck it up and press on.
1:36pm  9.74 CM!!!! Its down to the final stretch.  Pun intended.  (posted by Scott)

This was the first time I was (positively) surprised by my progress.  Finally, we were almost there!!  Again for the non-medical peeps--the dilation of a cervix is checked by someone's fingers.  Sorry, that's gross, but it is what it is.  Nobody's fingers can measure a centimeter to the hundredth.  I think Ashley probably announced I was greater than 9 cm and Scott took some math liberties with what she said.  Like I said before, humor was the name of the game in this delivery room.
About 2:15pm it was time to push.  Ugh.  This was the part of the labor I hoped would just FLY by.  You can already guess, though, based on this baby girl's progression through the rest of labor, it did not go quickly.  
Pushing is hard.  For me and for Scott.
I'm not screaming, although it looks like it here.  But I am hurting. 
With both of my previous deliveries, I ended up having a vacuum used to help me deliver.  Most people cringe at the thought of a vacuum being applied to their baby's head.  I, however, had had two great experiences with vacuums.  My babies suffered little to no ill effects, nor did I.  Sometime after the first few pushes with baby Reese, I started asking about the vacuum.  Dr. Alvarez and the rest of the room down played the idea.  "You can do it!" they all said.  For the next hour and a half, I pushed, requested a vacuum, and they all encouraged me otherwise.  Amy was holding my left leg.  Nikki was either beside my leg or sitting close by in a chair (so as not to pass out from the grossness of labor).  Scott was up by my head, helping hold my shoulders and talking sweetly to me...well, you know...when he wasn't making jokes. :)  At one point Ashley rolled over a mirror so I could see what was going on when I pushed.  This is not something I particularly WANTED to see, mind you.  Nobody wants to see that.  However, she and Alvarez thought it might help me push more effectively, and they were right.  Once they brought the mirror over, Scott repositioned the hat on his head to completely block his vision from seeing anything past my shoulders.  He, too, was trying to avoid passing out from the grossness of labor.  Nikki and Scott were both successful at not passing out, by the way.  Kudos to them! :)  *patpat*  

Just before Reese was finally borned, I was pretty much sobbing in between contractions.  Why?  It hurt.  A lot.  I hadn't eaten in forever.  I hadn't really slept in forever.  Labor hormones are crazy.  Bringing a baby into the world is an emotional experience.  Pick your reason.  That's why I was sobbing.

Finally, WITH NO VACUUM assisting me (not for lack of asking, mind you), baby Reese was born at 3:46pm.  The first thing Dr. Alvarez said after she was born and he was holding her was "BRUISER!"  She was a big, big baby.  When they put her on the scale and it said she weighed 9 pounds, I could not believe it.  Everybody was so congratulatory that I had done it without a vacuum!  Wasn't I so proud?!  That made me laugh.  I didn't care if I did it without a vacuum.  I just wanted her OUT.  I didn't think I could do it without one.  But the rest of the room was very proud, so that's good.  Most women like to celebrate giving birth naturally, no epidurals or drugs.  We celebrated no vacuum.  To each their own...
New babies are slimy and blue.  This is normal.
Major kudos to Amy for getting some awesome pictures WHILE holding my leg as I pushed.  She is quite the talented woman!

Looking back on the experience, I was most grateful for the people who were there.  As an extroverted person, I like having company to do anything. Grocery store shopping.  Fingernail painting.  Errand running.  And having a baby.  Obviously, due to the nature of the beast, not just anyone can be in the room during my delivery!  Each person pictured at the beginning of this post played a huge role in my delivery.  I was so glad each of them got to be there. Ashley is someone I knew from work prior to this delivery.  I greatly respect her and appreciated her most excellent care and her participation in the humor-fest.  Dr. Alvarez is a hoot.  He's hilarious.  I loved how he and Scott interacted.  Also, I completely trust him with my life and the life of my child.  I've seen him deliver a lot of babies, some smooth deliveries, some not, and therefore can appreciate his expertise.  Nikki, my dear sister, and I have been through hell and back together.  She is not a fan of medical environments, but has braved it on three occasions to be in my delivery room.  She's so brave and I loved having her there.  Amy is now in a category of friendship that few ever attain (most don't want to, I would imagine).  That would be the "I've seen you naked" category.  That brings with it a certain bond, doesn't it??  I can't thank her enough for sacrificing her time, leaving her own children to be with me all day long!  And then there's Scott. Oh Scott.  Like Nikki, he does not enjoy medical things at all.  He hates needles and blood, two key ingredients to any labor and delivery!  But he did what he needed to do (hat tilting and all) to stay by my side through this.  I can't quite find the words to describe what it means to me for him to be I'll just say I was very, very grateful.

8:57pm  BA here.  Wow oh wow what a day.  I'm not gonna lie...pushing out babies is not my favorite thing ever.  Despite the RIDICULOUSLY cute product at the end.  Baby Reese is doing well.  Momma is beyond tired.  Blessed, tired. G'nite.

Some more pictures...
GIRL am I glad to see you!
Sweet girl.
Sweet, big, big girl.
Not gonna lie, labor hair is pretty fantastical.
Bestest OB in the world.
Happy family.
She looks quite pleased with herself.
Reese Katherine Davidson
11/8/12 @ 3:46pm
9 lbs 0 oz
21.5 inches long
38.5 cm head
So happy!
Part 1 of this story

Part 2 of this story

My 1st birth story, Chloe born in 2004

My 2nd birth story, James born in 2011

Reese's Delivery Story, Part 2

I don't want to forget any details of my third labor and delivery story, plus I like to tell really long stories (exhibit A and exhibit B), so here's how it went down...

On Sunday night (the 4th)/early Monday morning (the 5th) before Reese was born on Thursday (the 8th), James woke up crying.  When I went in his room to check on him, he was scratching himself all over through his pajamas.  When I unzipped them to see what was up, I discovered he had a rash all over his body.  Poor guy.  I'd be itchy, too.  I gave him some Benadryl and sat with him in the rocking chair.  His tired, itchy body was draped over a pillow on my legs so I could scratch his back while we waited for the Benadryl to take effect*.  He didn't have any other symptoms that I could tell.  No runny or stuffy nose.  No coughing.  No vomiting or diarrhea.  Nothing.  Just a rash that clearly bothered him.  He fell back asleep within 30 minutes and I went back to bed, making mental plans to go to the pediatrician's walk-in hours the next morning.  A few hours later, at a more reasonable morning hour, I took James to the doctor to check out this rash.  At my pediatrician, if you want to get a mysterious rash checked out, they make you enter the office through a side "possibly contagious cootie" door.  That's not what they call it, of course, but it's what I call it.  At this point, the rash was from his neck down to almost his ankles and wrists (not on his palms or soles of his feet).  The doctor looked him over well and determined it was a viral rash that would just have to run its course.  She recommended I give Benadryl as needed for the itchies, but other than that, watch him and wait it out.  So home we went.  I was thinking, " girl, maybe you should gestate for a few days because we've got unidentified cooties going on out here..."  Monday evening, James' cheeks were really flushed, like he'd been slapped on both of them, although I assure you he was NOT.  He didn't have a fever, though.  I didn't think much else about it.  He was so.very.itchy.  I felt bad for him.  The Benadryl didn't seem to be keeping the itchies away.  Or at least not all of them.

Tuesday, November 6th, I went to my 40 week OB visit.  I was so sad that I even had to go to that appointment.  During that visit, the doctor scheduled me to be induced the next Monday, November 12th, if I didn't go into labor before.  He also stripped my membranes, which hurt like a mo-fo, but I was very hopeful it would help trigger labor.  The doctor said I was 3 cm dilated.  I asked him if I was 2 cm mere moments ago, before he stripped my membranes since it felt like he had just forced my cervix from 2 to 3 cm!  He laughed and said no.  I walked out of the office thinking, "Well, at least we have an end point in mind now.  November 12th I'm being induced, if no labor before..."  Quick background:  My OB office doesn't schedule inductions for being overdue until 41 weeks.  For me, that was Sunday, November 11th.  The hospital at which I was going to deliver does not schedule inductions on weekends, thus the November 12th induction date.  The rest of that day I definitely felt very crampy and lots of contractions, but none that rallied together to head towards labor.

Wednesday morning, November 7th, my mom texts me this message:

"Google Fifth's Disease and see what you think."

So I did. From the CDC's website:

"...rash on your face and body... After several days, you may get a red rash on your face. This is called "slapped cheek" rash. This rash is the most recognized feature of fifth disease. It is more common in children than adults...A pregnant woman who is infected with parvovirus B19 can pass the virus to her baby..."

Since 40+ week pregnant women are notoriously less than rational human beings, I started to freak out.  I immediately called James' pediatrician to ask if the doctor thought he might have Fifth's Disease.  The flushed cheek rash didn't show up until after she saw him, so I wanted her to have that information.  I also called my OB office to ask if they were concerned at all about me being pregnant and my son possibly having this virus.  And then I called my mom to fuss about getting me all worked up.  (please refer to my previous statement about being rational...)
The pediatrician called back before lunchtime and said that she didn't think that's what James had due to the appearance of the rash.  Apparently Fifth's Disease comes with a lacy-looking rash, which isn't what his looked like.  I waited and waited to hear from my OB.  Around 3pm, Dr. Alvarez called me.  He said even if James did have it, it wouldn't be a big deal for me at 40 weeks pregnant.  #1 - I had probably been exposed to it as a child and therefore already had immunity to it.  #2 - It's more problematic during the first trimester, not the 3rd.  However, since this was causing me concern, he already called the hospital and got me an induction scheduled for the next day, November 8th.  I was stunned.  Tomorrow?!  But I...wait...what if... NEVERMIND.  Let's do this!  We hung up the phone and I was suddenly filled with excitement and nervousness.  TOMORROW.  "I'm having a baby TOMORROW."  Scott was home from work by the time I got off the phone with Dr. Alvarez.  I let him know the new plan.  He felt the same way I did.  FINALLY.  The end is in sight!  (Every day when he would leave for work, he would tell me "Please call me today.  Please go into labor."  And every day when he would get home from work he'd say "You didn't call me."  I assured him I was more disappointed than he was that I didn't go into labor.)  We made some phone calls to let our parents and friends know what the plan was.  Excitement filled each of those conversations.  We finished packing our hospital bag.  I packed a bag for James, as he was going to stay at my parents' house while were in the hospital.

I was

nervous.  How would it go?

excited.  I can't wait to meet this little girl!

a little anxious about being induced (having never been induced before).

and relieved this was all going to be over soon.

*I had to google "take affect vs take effect" because I wasn't sure which to use...still not sure I made the right choice...making English teachers cringe everywhere, sorry...
Labor story to be continued!  For now, some pregnancy pictures by the lovely and talented Nikki Graham:

Reese's Delivery Story, Part 3 (the finale!) coming soon!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Reese's Delivery Story, Part 1

Since it's taking me to type up my birth story, I've decided to break it into more manageable pieces.  I'll start with the ending!

Reese Katherine Davidson
Born:  November 8th, 2012 at 3:46 pm
9 lbs 0 oz
21.5 inches long
38.5 cm head

For me, this was a BIG baby.  Very big. Eight ounces bigger than my biggest baby.  Her head was 2 cm bigger than James' huge noggin.  Wow.  Just wow.

Her name comes from my mom's middle name and my mother in law's first name.  Sweet baby Reese is a tribute to these two wonderful ladies. :)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Where We Are

I'm having a hard time making myself blog lately.  Could be the sleep deprivation that accompanies having a newborn.  Could be the ridiculous emotional roller coaster that accompanies the post-partum phase.  Could be just dealing day in and day out with an unreasonable 17 month old.  Not that mine is so much more unreasonable than others.  ALL 17 month olds are unreasonable.  I know because I've met them all...

Whatever the reason, I haven't quite written my birth story blog entry yet.  Soon hopefully.  Before I forget how it went and get delusional and start thinking I might wanna do it all again...

In the mean time, I'll write about where we are now.  It's kinda like when I used to write in a journal years ago.  I would sit down to journal something, but then I would spend an hour just trying to fill in the gap from the last time I journaled and then I wouldn't end up writing about whatever I sat down to write about in the first place.

We are 12 days into the newborn phase of life.  As best I can tell, 12 days in means we're REALLY getting into the good sleep deprivation effects.  Like trying to put the cereal in the refrigerator instead of the pantry.  And seemingly minor inconveniences, like a cat that meows NON-STOP to be fed if you're within 10 feet of the kitchen, can just about cause a mental breakdown.

Overall, though, I'd say we're doing just fine.  I think it takes having a second kid to realize how relatively easy a newborn is.  Yes, they are demanding little boogers, but their needs are fairly simple.  I definitely feel much more at ease with Reese than I did with James.  It's hard to say whether it's her more laid back personality or if Scott and I are just more relaxed.  Maybe it's a combination of the two.

For now, Scott and I have developed a divide-and-conquer approach to our parenting.  He has his kid (James), I have mine (Reese).  Each parent is primarily responsible for the feeding, diapering, and keeping alive of one's own kid.  Each kid has positives and negatives.  His kid sleeps more than mine does.  My kid requires less intellectual stimulation and "playing with".  Of course, while Scott is at work, both kids are "mine", but that's okay.  We're managing. :)

Physically I feel pretty decent.  Surprisingly.  I thought I would hurt for a long, long time after birthing a 9 pound baby.  But my biggest physical complaints have nothing to do with my nether regions.  My complaints are 1) FATIGUE, go figure. And (TMI! TMI!)  2) my boobs.  Little girl is trying to destroy them when she eats.  That combined with the overproduction of milk we're still experiencing makes for some ever-so-slight (note sarcasm) discomfort.  More on our breastfeeding challenges in another post...

James has been slightly more whiny than usual since Reese has arrived, but overall he's handling this transition as well as can be expected.  He likes to "gock gock gock" her bassinet (translation: "rock rock rock") a wee bit roughly, but I appreciate his intent.  He tries to offer her his toys and things he's eating.  We have to watch closely so he doesn't toss large toys into her bassinet.  Poor girl just isn't ready for all that yet.

So, that's where we are for now.  More than just scraping by.  We're doing alright.  And I am so, so, so grateful.  We are completely and totally smitten with this little girl...

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Adoption Blogger Interview 2012

Allow me to introduce you to an amazing person I met online recently. 

Her name is Natalie.  On her blog, Adopting the Spectrum, she writes about her experiences both as an adoptive momma to six year old Hannah, her open adoption relationship with both of Hannah's birthparents, in addition to being a foster momma to as many as four children at a time in the past year.

What makes Natalie so amazing you ask?  Her heart.  That's what.  Her incredible heart for loving kids, parenting in tough situations like foster parenting and disruptive behavior disorders, and handling it all with grace and compassion.  I was moved reading what Natalie has encountered in her mothering years, not to mention the infertility and health challenges she experienced prior to adopting Hannah.  Natalie and her husband Kyle have such a great life story that continues to unfold and I have appreciated the opportunity to learn more about their family through Natalie's blogging.

Natalie answered some questions for me:

1)  The journey to adoption is a wide path that people get on for a variety of reasons.Can you tell me about what led up to you and your husband choosing adoption?  

The short answer is that I am infertile and I really wanted to be a mom.  The long answer is that Kyle and I tried for 4 years to become pregnant with no success.  I have severe endometriosis and my body refused to ovulate.  I also have an autoimmune disease that was complicating things.  Through medical intervention (drugs and a surgery to remove the worst of the endometriosis) we forced my body to ovulate and I conceived several times, but I was never able to carry a baby to term.  I always miscarried around 10-14 weeks along.  After so long trying and my inability to keep those precious babies growing inside of me we decided to try adoption instead of taking more drastic medical measures.  For me, adoption was for selfish reasons. We didn't go into it to "save" a child or give a home to the homeless.  We wanted to be parents, plain and simple. Being a mom has always been important to me and after marrying Kyle I just couldn't picutre him NOT being a dad.  It didn't matter to either of us if our child carried our genes or not so adoption seemed the logical choice.  Deciding to adopt was easy.  Deciding what type of adoption we would choose was the hard part as you now know!

2)  How did you choose the agency you did?  

Once we settled on a domestic infant adoption, we(mostly me) researched all the sub types of that kind of adoption: open/closed, agency/private.  We quickly decided that we felt an agency adoption would be safer for both us and any prospective birthparents we might meet.  Most often when you hear about the adoption horror stories they have been through a private lawyer and some steps that agencies take were skipped and things went badly.  We knew all along we wanted an open adoption (one of the reasons we opted against international and foster care in the beginning) so we began looking at agencies that did and encouraged open adoptions.  Luckily for us, the state we lived in at the time (IN) hosted an office for the very first agency to do open adoptions.  Open adoptions are all they do.  They had a good reputation.  They were a not for profit organization (very important for us since we believe strongly that babies are not a commodity to be bought and sold to make someone rich) and their fees were on a sliding scale depending on your income.  Some agencies we looked at gave "discounts" to couples who adopted any baby that wasn't white.  I found this abhorent.  It was like they were saying these babies weren't worth as much as healthy white infants that so many people covet.  I just couldn't work with an agency that worked like that.  We went with the agency in our state that only did open adoptions (IAC-Independent Adoption Center).  This agency allowed birthparents and adoptive parents to pick each other.  I liked that.  I liked that birthmom's weren't just given a few people to choose from.  I liked that they could give the agency their criteria for parents for their child and then see EVERYONE who met those criteria whose critera also matched her (adoptive parents were also given the opportunity to say what types of situations they were open to as well).

3)  Would you consider adopting again from the agency you used with Hannah?

If we were to ever do a domestic infant adoption again I would love to use our same agency.  We had a good experience with them and so did Tiffany. Unfortunately they aren't licensed in Nebraska so that would end up costing us extra money.  However, I think we are done with agency adoptions in general (I don't have that strong desire to mother an infant like I did before) and our next child will most likely come through the foster-adopt route.  That being said, if either of Hannah's birthparents were to approach us about adopting a future biological sibling of Hannah, I would have a hard time saying no to them.  I don't think I could deny Hannah the opportunity to live with at least one person who shares her biological traits.  Also, we have such a wonderful and easy relationship with both of Hannah's birthparents that it wouldn't be as scary as starting all over again like it was the first time.  The one thing we always worried about when we thought about adopting another infant is the potential differences in the relationships both children might have with their birthfamily and how that might affect them.  It would break my heart to see one of my children having a close relationship with their birthfamily and another of my children who barely had any contact at all, but wished they had the same kind of relationship as the other child.  For example, this summer Hannah went to visit my family in Indiana for two weeks because she needed a break from our foster children.  While she was there she spent the night with Tiffany (her birthmother) and got to hang out with her siblings Chase and Kayla.  She had a blast and it really strengthened their relationship as siblings.  How heartbreaking would it be for another child to watch that and wonder why THEY can't go spend the  night with their birthmom? 

4)  What would you say to somebody at the beginning stages of pursuing adoption?

My best advice would be to research, research, research.  Decide what is important to you (child looks like you, open/closed, cost, amount and type of counseling, how much an agency/lawyer might be involved and how much you have to do yourself, if you are on a "wait list"/birthmother's choice, etc)  Pick the things that matter most for you and then evaluate each particular agency/option on each of these criteria.  Troll adoption forums and mention an agency you are thinking about going with and see what kind of remarks you get (you'll always get positive remarks from the references the agency gives you, but in the forums you'll hear everything!) because you will hear the positives and the negatives there.  Check out your finances and see what kind of funding help might be available to you.  Set up your adoption "budget" and then confine your search to only agencies that can work with that budget.  Also, remember that all the steps relating to adoption follow the hurry up and wait model.  There will be lots and lots of waiting.  Your privacy will be thoroughly violated.  It's stressful and you'll cry a lot, but it's all worth it in the end.  

5)  What do you wish every birthmother/birthparent knew about adoptive parents?  

We are just as scared as you are!  We think you won't like us and we worry about how to act and what to say.  We think we need to be perfect in order to be "worthy" of parenting your child.  At the same time, we worry about acting too perfect for fear that you will think we look down on you.  Every single parenting mistake we make makes us wonder if you will think you made the wrong decision choosing us to be your baby's parents.  That fear never goes away.  We worry someday that we will lose contact with you.  The thought of that (no matter how fabulous our current relationship is) keeps us up at night regularly because it's something that we have no control over about our child's life and we don't like not being in control of big things like that that are so important to our kiddos. 

6)  How did you decide to pursue foster parenting? 

When we first decided to pursue adoption we thought we wanted to adopt through the foster system.  We thought, "why not give a home to a kid who needs one while also making our dream come true as well?" There was also the cost factor. It is MUCH cheaper to adopt through the state than to do an agency or international adoption.  However, once we decided we wanted an open adoption, we found out that at the time (it has thankfully changed quite a bit now) the state we lived in (Indiana) actively discouraged any contact with birthparents after TPR (termination of parental rights) or reliquishments are signed.  We also learned that young children were hard to come by and we lacked faith in our ability to jump right into caring for an older child with significant behavioral and emotional issues having never even parented a typical child yet.  Little did we know that God would laugh in our faces at that last reason/excuse and that Hannah would give us more of a run for our money parenting her than any of our foster children have thus far!  After adopting Hannah and somewhat successfully parenting her until she was 4 we decided to jump back into the foster care arena.  At that time we were living in RI.  We started the paperwork for foster care, but then while we were in the waiting stage to be accepted for training we found out we were moving to Nebraska (where we live now) so foster care got put on hold.  As soon as most of the boxes were unpacked I started the process of gathering information on the Nebraska foster care requirements.  God had blessed us with an amazing house (larger than our house in Indiana and our house in Rhode Island combined!) that was far larger than our 3 person family needed.  I took this as a signal that we needed to get busy filling it up with kiddos that needed a place to stay.  We got our initial paperwork and training done quickly. I think we started filling stuff out at the end of May and were done with our training classes by the middle of July.  Then the waiting began.  Oh how I hated the waiting process during our adoption of Hannah and I hated this just as much.  Once all the paperwork was turned over to the state, they were in no hurry to process everything and get us officially licensed.  This seemed crazy to me since I was watching story after story on the news about the extreme shortage of foster parents in the state and about how kids were being placed in group homes and sleeping in CPS waiting rooms because there were no foster homes for them to go to, but yet I had 5 empty beds ready and waiting!  Our background clearances took forever because they had to be processed in 3 different states.  Eventually, at the beginning of January, almost 8 months after we started the whole process in Nebraska, we were officially licensed and able to take placements.  We found out about our first placement before we were even licensed.  I think the fact that he was earmarked to come to our house lit a bit of a fire under the agency's behind to get our paperwork finalized and ready to go.  Who knows how much longer we would have waited had there not been a specific child waiting for us.  

7)  How have you and your husband stayed connected and on the same page during your foster parenting experience this year?  The stress of it, I would imagine, could strain even a rock-solid marriage.  What do you wish you and Kyle had done differently, if anything, regarding your relationship this year?

Foster care definitely puts a strain on your marriage.  Truly, raising children regardless of whether or not they are foster children puts a strain on a relationship.  I always luaghed at the rediculousness of people having a child to try to save a marriage since I knew from both experience and observation that there is no better way to deteriorate a marriage than to add kids to the mix!  I would say the biggest thing we did to keep our marriage strong was to have firm bedtimes.  Everyone goes to bed at 7pm period.  You can read if you aren't tired, but you are in your room and calm at 7pm (now that took considerable training for each kid, but it was doable in every case eventually).  The rest of the evening is for the adults.  Kyle and I would clean up the house and debrief on the day.  We would watch a TV show together while I filled out the insane amount of daily and monthly doccumentation required for each foster child in our home.  In general we just spent the hours between 7pm and whenever we fell into bed together.  What I wish we would have done better about was finding ways to go out alone together.  Dates are important for keeping a marriage strong.  When you do foster care you can't just call up the teenager down the street to babysit for you.  In Nebraska the person watching the kids has to be at least 18 and have passed a background check with the state and be on your approved list of caregivers for that particular child.  So, that basically means your babysitting options are other foster parents and any of your friends or family members willing to submit to a background check.  We don't have any family in Nebraska so that was out.  I had two sets of friends who agreed to get background checked to be emergency care for us, but I tried to only use them for actual emergencies because watching 5 kids (plus any you have of your own) is hard.  Add to that 5 kids who all have behavioral issues and it's seriously crazy if you aren't used to it.  I didn't want to strain any of my friendships by leaning too heavily on them for childcare.  When we had our van full of kiddos were were the only foster parents in the town we lived in.  The next closest foster familly was 35 minutes away.  That made it difficult to use them for a spontaneous date.  So, since dates were more of a  hassel to plan than they were worth in our opinion, we just didn't take any.  I know now that that was a mistake and we'll definitely do a better job about using our respite care hours the next time around.  

8)  Prior to your fostering experiences, how did adopting Hannah challenge or strengthen you and Kyle's relationship?

Adopting Hannah definitely strengthened our marriage.  It was amazing for us both to see the love we each had for this tiny human being and to watch our spouse pour out that love and sacrifice for someone who couldn't really return the favor yet.  You get to see a whole new side to your spouse as you watch their relationship with your new child grow.  I loved watching Hannah and Kyle interact and she quickly became a Daddy's girl that's for sure!  Having a baby made us less selfish  and lazy in general.  There was no longer time to be lazy.  The dishwasher HAD to be loaded and run or there wouldn't be clean bottles for the 2am feeding.  You were tired all the time so being tired was no longer a good excuse for not spending quality time together.  When we realized how lazy and selfish we both had been before Hannah that changed our relationship a lot.  I learned a lot about serving others after serving a demanding little one 24/7!  The most challenging part about Hannah's adoption was the emotional strain of the wait.  It had been so heartbreaking while we were trying to concieve seeing that negative pregnancy test month after month or seeing that positive test only to start miscarrying several weeks later that we were pretty emotionally spent before we even entered the adoption process.  Not knowing when, or if you will ever be chosen to be a parent is HARD.  Every time the phone rang I jumped and my heart raced wondering if it was a birthmother calling.  Every month I would check our stats to see how many times we had even been considered and cry because it was so few times.  I was a wreck and I took it out on Kyle.  Once Hannah finally came along the biggest challenge was how to deal with her odd behaviors.  We knew fairly early on that Hannah wasn't quite like other kids.  Other infants slept all day.  People told me to sleep when the baby sleeps, but the problem was that MY baby didn't sleep!  She was terrified of other children and that socially isolated me as a new mom.  Her tantrums started really early and the advice in the parenting books and from well meaning vetran moms just wasn't working.  I began to get a complex about my parenting ability and I'm sure Kyle did too.  Often times Hannah would behave much better for him than for me and he would think I was exaggerating her behavior.  It was hard to hear my partner in this parenting gig not supporting me.  It wasn't until we started to seek help outside of the parenting books and other parents that we finally got some answers and we were better able to work as a team. 

9)  Are there any particular thoughts on adoption, or fostering, that you'd like to share with my readers?

Adoption and foster care has changed my life for the better.  It's taught me more about how God wants me to love others than I think any other experience could have.  It teaches you humility and grace that I think it's impossible to learn any other way.  It's not for everyone, but it's important that if you can't directly foster or adopt that you at least support those who do by at the very least understanding that their parenting experiences are drastically different than yours and you need to give them the benefit of the doubt and maybe not judge as much as you might normally do.  

To read Natalie's interview of me, check out her blog!  Adopting the Spectrum

This is my second year participating in a great online collaboration of adoption bloggers put together by Heather Schade of Production, Not Reproduction.   Please head on over to her blog to check out more interviews by all sides of the adoption triad (birth parents, adoptive parents, adoptees).  Adoption Blogger Interview Project 2012  

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Election Response

What do I think about Obama being re-elected? How do I feel that the candidate I voted for (Romney), didn't win the nebulous electoral vote, but did win the popular vote (well, in North Carolina anyway...)?

I'll tell you what I think:


That's what I think.

Although this fact has little bearing on politics, national or local, it has a WHOLE lot of impact on me, every second of every day.  Particularly the seconds that involve attempting to get out of a chair, getting winded changing my son's diaper, or, you know, any movement at all.

So there ya have it.  That's my political response today.

note:  At my OB appointment yesterday, we scheduled me to be induced Monday, November 12th.  Please, please, please baby come out before then...

Monday, November 5, 2012

40 weeks

This is me.  Today. 40 + 1 weeks pregnant.

I was at the park with James and some friends.  I could barely keep up with James.  Don't misunderstand that statement.  He's not very fast.  I'm just THAT slow.  My friend helped him down the slide multiple times while I sat on a bench.  That's a good friend. :)

I never really imagined going PAST my due date with this pregnancy.  Third baby.  Previous two born ON their due dates.  I didn't really even give it a second thought.  I hoped she would be a November baby, not October.  

Well folks,

November it is.  

Her due date came and went (November 4th).  

Still no baby. 

I don't know what to do with myself.  I've never been this pregnant before in my life.  I'm vacuuming every other day.  Doing ten items of clothing in the laundry every other day, because that's all that has accumulated in 48 hours.  Running the dishwasher (you guessed it) every other day.  Yesterday I was very emotional (ask my sister, who witnessed me blubbering on about it).  I just want to be DONE being pregnant!  Today I'm less emotional about it.  But I'm still all done all done.  

Pregnant women go past their due dates all the time.  Some go WAY past.  More power to them.  I didn't wish to join those ranks.  Every day Scott leaves for work he tells me "Call me anytime! Anytime.  Anytime at all."  I hear ya, Scott, I hear ya.  I want so badly to make that phone call and say "It's go time."  But...we wait.

I worked what I hope was my last shift last week.  But the longer this baby stays cooking, the more pressure I feel to pick up more shifts at work.  Who starts maternity leave without a baby?!  

Also, the longer she cooks, THE BIGGER SHE GETS.  This is a concern for me and my lady parts...

Our families, our friends, everybody is on-call right now.  I have a few contractions here and there that I can feel, but they aren't painful and they haven't rallied in any particularly productive direction as of yet.  According to the OB, I'm 2 cm dilated.  Hooray.  Only 8 more to go.  

Hopefully she'll be here by Christmas...

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Pathology Report

Hopefully this will be my last posting about the James-tongue-thingy-saga.

I was waiting to post this update until I had the pathology report in my hot little hands.  Here is what the report said:

"Diagnosis:  Tongue, base, biopsy - Polypoid segment of squamous mucosa with focal surface ulceration and granulation tissue formation with severe acute and chronic inflammation.  A granulation tissue polyp is favored with associated surface ulceration and marked acute and chronic inflammation.  No evidence of definite vascular neoplasm is identified.  There is no evidence of lingual tonsil, mucocele, or thryoglossal duct remnant."

Despite being a health care professional, reading the above paragraph was like reading Greek.  I was grateful for the surgeon's interpretation of the medical mumbo jumbo.  What she said was that at some point, something irritated that spot on James' tongue and triggered an inflammatory response in his immune system, resulting in this tongue mass.  What we don't know (and may never know) is what irritated his tongue?  Why did his immune system respond the way it did? wait...when he scrapes his knee, is he going to grow a bizarre polyp-thing there too?

So there we have it.  Although this report doesn't answer all our questions, it does clarify that the growth wasn't cancerous (neoplasm).  That was very, very good news.

Thanks for all your support and prayers!  We are grateful to have this behind us.  James is doing very well.  Eating, drinking, playing normally*.

*'Normally' is a relative term.  16 month olds are CRAZY.

If you missed the rest of the story about James' tongue:

1) Quirky Little James

2) James' Tongue Surgery

3) 8am Update

4) 1130am Update

5) 730pm Update

There.  Now you're caught up!

Monday, October 1, 2012

35 Weeks

As you can see, pregnancy is becoming more and more glamorous for me.  We're talkin Fergie G-L-A-M-O-R-O-U-S over here.

I'm not quite ready for this kiddo to show up yet.  I don't feel anxious about her arrival, but I'm just not quite ready.  Trying to savor these last few weeks as a family of 3.  Pondering if I'll feel okay about never being pregnant again.  (most days YES.  A THOUSAND TIMES YES.)  

Every time I really exert some brain effort trying to think of what I still need to do to get ready for this baby, I draw a blank.  No doubt the MOMENT she arrives I'll be able to think of 45 things I should've done before she got here... 
  • Clothes?  check.
  • Car seat?  check.
  • Crib/bassinet?  check/check.
  • Swing?  check.
  • Bouncy Seat?  check.
  • Older brother to poke at her?  Check.

What else do I need?!  Oh, diapers.  I need to get some diapers.  
LOTS of diapers.  Maybe a crib sheet and mattress pad or two.

Not for the baby, but for her mommy and daddy:  I want to sign up for at least a month of Netflix.  I recall that was a most appreciated gift when James was born and we were up at all hours.  I watched a lot of documentaries.  Fun times.  

Help me out people!  What else can you think of that I need to do or buy or whatever??