Sunday, December 25, 2011

All I ever asked for and so much more...

Merry Christmas!

My son wanted to tell you that first I made him dress in a little tuxedo onesie and then I made him wait in a long line to see some man we kept talking about and then I made him sit on this scary man's lap and then I expected him to smile? Puhleeze.

My daughter said "meh."



My good friend and fellow IFer Larisa used to tell me she couldn't wait for my heart to be full. Ah Larisa, wise woman, it is. So full, so full.

Even without my Dad being here, this has been the happiest Christmas on record. Our babies are sleeping through the night, they're growing so fast, they're delighting in everything, our daughter is taking her first steps, I've heard them say "Momma!" and the Mister and I are trying to soak it all in. Did I mention they're both now sleeping through the night? not to keep dwelling on it, but a full night's sleep is one of the best presents I could have ever received!

But you can't hold onto anything, so you just have to move with them, through it all, and let the happiness wash over you. I wish that for everyone, I honestly do. Full and happy hearts!

Happiest of holidays to everyone!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

One year ago...

One year ago today we were escape artists.

We were escaping the 'regular' holidays and going to NYC, a place that always did our hearts good and our hearts were in desperate need of some good. We were at a low point, expecting nothing after putting our entire world into our Ethiopian adoption. Referrals were slowing down, the program seemed in jeopardy, we had announced to our family that if this, too, did not work out, we were done. Plain and simple.

In NYC we felt we could hide amongst the masses, and maybe avoid some of the more painful holiday reminders of families, and the fact that we did not have one.

Of course you know the rest of the story. Within hours of arriving in NYC we stood in front of Macy's, and posed for a picture in front of their "Believe" sign. I whispered to the mister that we had to believe, but honestly I didn't.

Minutes later those precious emails came through, with those photos of our babies.

Our babies.

They were tiny, scared, undernourished and frankly kind of pitiful looking.

But it was love at first sight.

I must have stared at those pictures, cradling my iPhone, for hours during that trip. Other people take and have hundreds of photos of their newborns--I have only these of each of my children. They are precious to me.

Everything changed in those minutes after receiving those photos. Everything looked different. Everything felt different. Everything.

And now, a year later, here we are, with two healthy, hearty babies underfoot, getting into everything, challenging us in ways we never even imagined, and bringing us joy in the most amazing ways.

A whole year has passed--I can hardly believe it. This morning when I picked up our son and he nestled his curly head into my neck, the tears started rolling. How could that little photo of that tiny little baby have turned into this, my big loveable boy? How could I be so lucky?

When I picked up my daughter and she gave me her patented drooly kiss my heart felt like it would burst with happiness. Oh little girl--you have come so far.

My babies--December 21st will always, always be a day to celebrate from our perspective. For it is the day we learned of you in a real and concrete way, instead of only imagining you in our hearts.

Happy Referralversary H&H!



Friday, December 9, 2011

Unexpected tears

Why am I crying dropping DH off for his vasectomy?

That was the text I sent to my sister this morning before I backed out of the doctor's parking lot.

Yes, it's true, DH had a vasectomy this morning. It's done.

It's also true that we do not want any more children. That--if we're being truthful here--we are fairly overwhelmed with the two we do have. At their one year pediatrician visit yesterday I left feeling more like a failure than ever. Our daughter is eating too well, it seems, our son is too old to be not sleeping through the night, we are not disciplining properly, and the list goes on and on. Here I had been thinking I was doing the right thing with feeding them as much as they wanted, but it seems when babies are starved in their early days they do not learn self regulation. I knew this--intellectually--but honestly I don't want to think about my babies laying in their cribs with empty bellies when they were 0-3 months old but I know they did. So I just hoped/assumed/falsely reassured myself that my babies knew how to self-regulate and they wouldn't overfeed. Couple that with the idea that if I could just keep him full enough my son would sleep all night and I guess I really mucked things up. Sigh again. Put all that together with the continued sleep deprivation and yes, there were lots of tears this morning.

I have very strong feelings about our family being complete, about how I would never, ever want my babies to think they were not enough. This is why we knew when we completed their adoption we were done.

But watching my DH walk up to the urologist's office, alone, knowing I couldn't even be there with him to hold his hand it made me so sad. True, he's a grown man but damn, he looked so vulnerable going by himself.  I thought about all the times he held my hand, through my surgeries, and biopsies, and retrievals, and invasive tests and procedures. It is times like these I wish I had someone close by who could just watch the babies for an hour here or there.

But mostly, I just felt sad watching his genetics come to an end in such a final way. And I know you'll say, waaah? But you guys couldn't get pregnant anyway! And you always say genetics don't matter!

True, true, I have said that, and I do know that. Our odds were exceedingly low for any type of pregnancy and the whole reason he got the vasectomy was so I could confidently take some medications that I really need. Cholesterol meds. Yes, I'm vegetarian, I'm a runner, but my genetics are horrible.

But my DH? His genetics are gold. Not just from a disease standpoint (but they are) but he's a creative, talented, amazing soul. And I would have loved to have seen some of those gifts passed along but frankly, my body wasn't able to accomodate that, plain and simple.

So those tears came from a couple of places. I am overwhelmed. I am trying to encompass the fifty recommendations I received yesterday at the pediatrician's office into our routines.  I am sad for my sweet DH. I am guilty. I will always be sad for us in a place in my heart that knows that creating another human soul from two souls that love each other is an amazing and beautiful thing that we did not do. The rest of my heart is so overflowing with love for the two souls I have been entrusted to nurture and grow that I honestly do not think about the losses or sadness of infertility anymore. Until a day like today, when I came face to face with the finality of everything.

My family is complete. It was the day we received our referral photos. But tears, they come from unexpected places, and sometimes all you can do is let them fall.

Friday, December 2, 2011

What's been going on...

I have not been writing.
This much, I know.
Unless you count what I write in my head. I write in my head all the time but alas the words don't spill onto the page as easily.

I do have this complicated post I wrote the week the seventh billion baby was born. If I read it without knowing who wrote it I wouldn't guess it was from someone who pushed the limits of science in the quest for a biological baby. You all know my thoughts on zero population growth already and my thoughts on adoption are incredibly complex so the post is a doozy, to say the least. I could never quite hit publish, so it sits, marinating in its own juices in the drafts folder. Maybe one day.

I received an interesting writing assignment the other day from my mother.
She asked me to write my father's obituary now, while he's still living.

I nodded, understanding intellectually what she meant. An obituary. A tribute, a reflection on his life. My heart clenched, though, in that moment. My brain lurched ahead and started forming those words that you realistically know you will think/say/write at some point when you lose a parent but my heart stayed behind, and has remained there since. Those words are marinating, too, but I haven't yet put pen to paper. My heart isn't ready.

This was our first Thanksgiving without him present. It simply was not possible. During our Thanksgiving prayer tears rolled down my cheeks and dripped onto my empty plate. To be at once so grateful for the babies now physically present in my life and so sad for the missing presence of my father...dualing emotions at their finest.

Speaking of the babies, our daughter turns one year old today and that is an amazing celebration. When I think of those early photos, the early weight reports, the illness, the absolute lack of any control over her medical care (lack of) when she was ill and losing weight, the sleepless nights wondering who was holding her, or feeding her, the knowledge affirmed when we saw her first orphanage that there were many days she simply did not get enough...well, I can scarcely believe how far she has come. She is a glowing, vibrant child who babbles constantly, eats anything we put in front of her, is nearly walking, and currently has the most adorable one giant front tooth (to go with her two bottom ones). She loves to give kisses and hugs but is also quite indepenent. Watching her sing along with her father as he plays the ukele and sings to them during bathtime is a heart melting moment. Happy Birthday Sweet Girl!

OK so I lied: she's not always vibrant. See holiday photo below, where she pouted pretty much the entire time :)



Monday, November 14, 2011

A post dedicated to my son...

Who is now officially a one year old!

Happy Birthday, my sweet and beautiful boy, you turned one yesterday and I can hardly believe it.

You like to eat soy meatballs, and bean and cheese quesadillas, and lots of vegetables (baby food style only!) but you have ventured out and tried some edamame and even some green peas. You did NOT, however, like your birthday cookie. We are saving the cake for the actual party but alas, I have a feeling you will not like it much either. That's ok, there will be plenty of time for sweets in this family. You are walking behind a walker and can stand on your own for a few seconds but you can crawl faster than I ever could have imagined. You are happy and laugh easily. You will not, however, say Mama no matter how much begging I do. You like to smother me with very wet kisses and when we play, you check in for a cuddle at least once every five minutes. I adore it.

Your birthday is a happy but complicated day. Other adoptive mothers will get this. I grieve for myself that I did not know you on this day one year ago, that you were on the other side of the world and your birth was surrounded with complicated emotions. I grieve for your birth family. But yet I know you were loved tremendously. And I know you still are. And while that is not the only thing the matters, I think it is what matters the most. Which is why this mother did get her feathers ruffled when some comments on my 'Lucky' post insinuated I might actually raise my children under a dark cloud of being unlucky. Puhleeze give me more credit than that.

But nevertheless Happy Birthday! You didn't want to look at the camera, but that's ok. Do you see the smile on my face?

You put it there.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Cry, baby, cry

When you've got to get it out.

"Hi Pumpkin," he manages to sputter. His voice is barely audible, barely recognizable.
He only knows my name because my Mom tells him it is me on the phone.
I ask him a question.
He doesn't answer.
I hear him choking on the other end of the phone.
He chokes on everything these days.
He's labeled "comfort care" but that doesn't mean there is any end in sight.

"Have I been laying here for five years?" he asked my Mom the other day.
No, it's been two and half. But it must seem like an eternity.

"Oh Dad I miss you," I say, tearing up.
I miss the man you were, the man I wish you could still be.

You are trapped, trapped in a shell that has utterly betrayed you. You are paralyzed. You can barely eat. Your mind doesn't work anymore, for the most part.

The only thing that keeps me from wailing sometimes is the idea that a friend gave me, that maybe, if we're lucky, in his mind he is out jogging, or riding his bike, or riding his tractor, or being with his dog.

Not trapped. Not lying in a bed, unable to do anything for himself anymore. Unable to make sense of the world around him. And wondering if he's been laying there for five years. It must feel like one million years.

I was exhausted yesterday. A busy day at work, a trying time at mealtime with one baby who just.doesn't.like.to.eat and was tired and doesn't feel good and was throwing food and crying and as we pushed their stroller for our regular evening pre-bath stroll, I just felt the tears rolling down my face, recalling the conversation I had had just an hour prior with my Dad, as he laid in the hospital ER, dehydrated to the point of a blood pressure of 70/40.

I could barely choke the words out to the Mr.

"Is this what the sandwich generation means?" I want to run home and help take care of my Dad but I can't leave my children. I want to be everything for everyone and fix everything.


Cry, baby, cry.
When you have to get it out.

My children are fine. The eating issues will pass. They will sleep better. I will sleep better. My Dad will not get better and that is a fact. We have been home with them four months. My Dad has laid paralyzed for two and half years. We are planning their first birthdays. That is something to celebrate.

I am definitely feeling sandwiched. It's my new sensation I guess.

Love, baby, love.
It's written all over your face.




*I will revisit my lucky post, and some of the comments, when I can. I have so much more to say.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Lucky

FIRST: I'm sorry I've been MIA. I've tried to read and honestly, I've tried to comment but blogger has been giving me fits. So I wouldn't blame you if you have stopped reading, but I've had this post in draft form for a while, and it rolls around in my brain a lot, so here it is...



Lucky.
It's a loaded word, for me anyway.

I used to rant and rave about using the term 'blessed' when describing someone having a baby. Because it must mean that me, barren as a log, was decidedly unblessed because I couldn't procreate. And who wants to be called unblessed? Hearing that term cut through my heart like a knife. I wanted the word 'blessed' replaced with 'lucky' because I could deal with being unlucky, but unblessed? No thanks.

And now I hear the term lucky being tossed our way quite often. Nearly everyone comments on how our babies are so lucky. I don't mean here, in the comments section, and even if the word did crop up there that wouldn't bother me because my readers tend to get it.

It's the general public. They learn our babies are adopted (I mean, it's pretty obvious) and if they learn they are Ethiopian they immediately say how lucky they are, usually with a big smile, and sometimes an actual pat on my back, and always one that is implied. Ick.

I don't correct them because if I did, it would go something like this, and I'd probably be carted off to the looney bin.

Lucky? No, they are not lucky. They suffered a loss that is unimaginable to most. They are separated from their birth family. In an ideal world, the first choice, barring a safety issue or a complete inability to provide loving care, is that children are raised by their birth parents. Second choice is always other family. Third choice is another family in their home country, in their culture--domestic adoption. Then it gets down to orphanage care versus international adoption and I think it's pretty obvious that international adoption into a loving family has many benefits over institutionalized care. But no, they are not lucky. They got the fourth choice. The fourth one down the list.

We were the fourth choice. And I don't think anyone ever feels lucky when they get their fourth choice.

But if I said all of that people would wonder why the hell I adopted (and why do I still get my feelings hurt over the fact that it feels like most of my infertile peeps will do anything but adopt?).

I know it's confusing. Because I do believe in international adoption as a way--the fourth choice way-- to provide a family to a child who would otherwise be raised in institutional care. But I will never, ever think of it as the ideal choice.

And yes, I understand that there might be benefits to living in the U.S. over Ethiopia--improved life expectancy (by decades), improved access to education and opportunity, etc. etc. But actually---even that gives me pause. Taking someone from a country where people are satisfied and happy with much, much less and introducing them to our vulgar consumerist nation (and yes, I know I could work really hard to raise little non-consumerists but right now I'm just happy to have two babies that might start sleeping through the night consistently and don't throw their food across the room) isn't ideal either. And yes, as far as families go I do think Mr. MTL and I will make decent parents.  So I understand why people immediately think our babies are lucky, on the surface.

But the more I am with them, the deeper my love grows for them, then the more deeply I am able to get a sense of the pain of their young lives. Of the immense loss and grief that will always, always color their world. And it's more heartbreaking than I could have ever imagined.

Some days I watch them, playing innocently, laughing and discovering and taking sheer delight in the pleasures of being an infant.  And my heart starts to hurt. I think I'm having a heart attack. Because I know, I know they will not be this innocent forever. Soon they will know. And it will hurt. And I can't do one thing to make it not hurt.

I am not foolish enough to ever think we can 'make up' for their loss of culture. Making up for their loss of birth parents isn't even on the radar because that's an impossible task. Impossible.

If you don't understand that and you have fertility issues then try to imagine what would 'make up' for the loss of your fertility.

Their job is NOT to make up for the loss of our fertility and our job is not to make up for the loss of their birth parents, their culture, their everything. Our job is just to parent them the very best way that we can. To love them with our whole hearts. To allow them their grief and sorrow, to hold their hands through it, to be aware.

They are not lucky.
But we are.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Scattered

I feel like this post is going to be scattered, and probably long, so go ahead and get a cup of coffee. Or a Diet Coke. I'll wait.

And yes, forgive me for bullet points. I have exactly 14.5 minutes until two sleeping Africans become two boisterously awake Africans and so bullet points will have to do.

  • Sleeping. Thank you for the advice. Honestly. I enjoyed reading everyone's opinions. I had a total DUH moment a couple of times. We are down to one feeding a night--hooray! Basically some of you were right, we had to offer more formula during the day. However, it's interesting to see how they can really push that bottle away if they simply don't want it, no matter how badly I want them to want it/drink it during daylight hours so they won't need it/want it during the nighttime hours. They basically take a few ounces before morning nap (here is where I wish they would take more), 7-8 oz before afternoon nap, 8 oz when we rock them before bedtime, and then they wake up for 7-8 oz anywhere from 2:30 to 4:30 in the AM. We will probably start gradually reducing the nighttime offering too. But waking up once, and sometimes after 5-6 solid hours of sleep for us (we go to bed at 9 pm now, ha) feels heavenly. And they really pack away the solids too, for the most part. But every day is different.
  • I went back to work this past week. Three full days (I leave at 6:45 am and return at 5 pm, DH gets home at 4:30 pm). The babies wake up at 6:10ish so I get to play with them before I leave. Which means I get up at about 5:15 to get myself ready.
    • Sub-bullet time (fancy schmancy!). I cried the first day. I did not cry the second two days.
    • I am really enjoying work time. Yes, I realize it was the first week back and in another month I'll probably loathe work. But for now....
    • I feel like I fail one million times a day as a mother, but at work, I know what I'm doing. I'm ordering lab, writing prescriptions, explaining test results, chatting with coworkers (oh! adult conversations, how I've missed thee so!) and while I may not be perfect at it, I'm better at it than I am as a mother, at least in terms of errors made.  
    • I love coming home to them.
    • I love my two full days with them on my own, and of course love the weekends when we're all together.
    • The nanny is great with the babies.
    • My heart broke a million times over when I saw how, on the third day, they were so excited to see the nanny. I guess the alternative is worse, but still....
    • The nanny is not so good with the housekeeping. Granted, it's not her primary job, but I don't really relish coming home to extra work created by her. Clean up your food prep mess for goodness sake!
    • I don't like being a boss....argh.
  • Patients. As in, mine. I had two photos of the babies in my office. It was all the patients wanted to talk about. I had to redirect conversations a million times over. And if I hear how lucky my babies are one more time I am going to lose it. That's a whole other post. And yes, I know it is said with nice intentions, but they aren't lucky. I promise to post that post (written weeks ago and tucked away in my drafts file, soon).
  • When do other people clean? My DH and I just nearly broke our backs trying to get the whole house cleaned while they napped. Our daughter hates loud noises so we have to wait until she's really asleep or out of the house with the other parent to vacuum and run the hard floor scrubber. Otherwise I feel like my standards for cleaning are going by the wayside, and anyone who knows me knows this stresses me out.
  • Cold fronts. It will only hit 90 degrees here this week and honestly, folks, it feels like a blizzard. This morning for our morning run it was 58 degrees and I had to put the babies in little jackets. And I kid you not, there is nothing more adorable than the little man in his Paul Frank zip up hoodie (thanks Kim!). Nothing. At least, I challenge you to find something more adorable. Did I get a photo? No.
  • Running. I only get to do it four days a week now. Simply can't go on a work morning. I miss it. I had never run for so many consecutive days ever before, without missing one. Oh well, all good things must come to an end.
  • Weight loss. After three days of just sitting at a desk and then resuming full time Mom duties on Thursday, I quickly realized why I lost weight. Oh.My.God. I never sit down. Except now, when I'm typing at 105 wpm trying to get all my thoughts out on a random blog post. But it's ok, because I probably should have been at this weight for years. But having to buy all new pants and skirts is somewhat annoying because who has time to shop anymore?
  • Hiking. We took the babies hiking yesterday. To the trails where we used to run, all.the.time. I had a heart clench moment when DH was talking to the babies and said "Mom and Dad used to run here all the time, and all we would talk about was you. And now you're here, with us." Oh man, what a moment.
  • Concerts. Mr. Lee.bot had a show the other day and I was able to take the babies with the help of their Aunt Stacey. He called us onto the stage and sang "Our Family." Our son reached for the guitar, smiling as his Dad sang a song written about him. I held it together guys, I actually did. But inside I was sobbing tears of gratitude and joy listening to him sing the words "Our family, looks different but we're still, our family."
  • Prunes. DH learned the hard way that a little prunes goes a long way in helping intestinal issues of certain babies. I won't go into any other details because, really? Disgusting.
  • Photos. I will now post some, in the 7.5 minutes I have until they wake (how do I know when they'll wake? They really, really are on a schedule!)


I can't decide how I feel about my hoodie.
Help! I'm being swallowed by this backpack!
All headphones, no pants.
Dad, I'm not a dumbell.
Two of a kind.
(why am I standing weird?)
Who is this NY people keep telling us about?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Advice needed!

This post is a Mom blog type post whereby I will be soliciting advice from those who have gone before me...I am sorry for those still in the IF trenches. I wish it weren't so.

Sleep. Night feedings. Please help.

Our babies are over ten months old. We brought them home over three months ago. Somewhere along the way some friends of ours who also adopted "psuedo twins" told us they did the bedtime routine and fed their babies a bottle, but then also woke them right before they (the parents) went to sleep and gave them another bottle, and then they slept through the night.

We tried that! Basically, it meant that at 6:45 pm or 7 pm ish we fed them their last bottle and then woke them at 10 pm and fed them again. Guess what? They always sucked down about 6-8 oz of formula at that 10 pm feeding. Guess what again? They didn't sleep through the night, still waking for another bottle at around 2 am. Hmph.

Our pedi told us the other day to STOP the waking up forced feeding at 10 pm. She said that it was teaching them to need that feeding.

We happily obliged. Quite honestly most nights we are falling asleep at 9:15 pm so we were happy to go to bed earlier. The first few nights--EUREKA!--they slept longer, sometimes going until 3:30 am before waking once to be fed. So we were still waking once but getting to go sleep earlier so getting a longer stretch of solid sleep and it seemed like a decent plan.

But lately, here's the thing: they are waking TWICE per night to eat. They eat solids three times a day and take two small bottles daily and are starting (though they are not good at it at all) to take liquids from a sippy cup. We feed them dinner at 5:30 (it takes them about 45 minutes to eat because of the self feeding) and they seem to eat quite a bit. Then at 6:30 they have a bath, at 6:50 it's books, bottle, rocking and then to bed. They usually goof off in their cribs (despite nearly falling asleep drinking their bottles, so this, too, perplexes me) for a while and then drift off to sleep anywhere from 7:15 to 7:30 pm. But now they are waking at 11 pm and 4 am consistently for bottles. They usually drink about 6 ounces, sometimes the full 8. Last night our son woke at 10 pm crying...we let him cry for about five minutes, he did fall back asleep but then woke SCREAMING at 11 pm and there was no going back.

I guess I always thought 10+ month olds would sleep longer, could go longer at night. I'm not complaining really--at least it's pretty easy to just get up and feed them, change them, and they go back to sleep, but really I'm just wondering if anyone has any advice. I feel like sometimes we're doing something wrong.

Well, this is rambling. Just hoping someone can tell me the magic cure :) Ha.

EDITED TO ADD:
I think they get enough to eat during the day...they get about 28 to 30 oz of formula total daily plus three meals of solid foods and they seem to really chow down at those meals! They eat vegetables, fruits, soy *meat*, grilled cheese sandwiches, bagels, waffles, etc. Our daughter is 90th percentile for weight and our son is 50th percentile for weight. I guess I just thought waking every four hours to eat at night seemed frequent, but maybe not....

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Too much.

I know I've been away. I'm sorry I'm not always commenting. I'm trying to read and keep up. But some days it's all I can do to keep up with the most basic of tasks. Hmph.

Warning, the following is a little tongue-in-cheek, and I don't want to be flamed in comments, BUT this past week our normally 'easy' 9.5 month old daughter has 1) started crawling (yay!) 2) started completely refusing to be fed ANY baby food on the spoon (argh) 3) finally sprouted one lonely tooth and 4) decided that naps are for babies, and so is going to bed at night at the normal hour too, since you asked. Our son was teething and also had an ear infection. They also got their last set of 'catch up' vaccines plus a flu shot...

So it's been stressful. Tiring. Agonizing. See--there are books on raising twins, there are books on parenting internationally adopted infants, but there are not a lot of expert opinions about parenting internationally adopted psuedo-twins. One expert says let her cry it out on the naps, but what about her brother, sleeping ten feet away? On the feeding--just let her self feed whatever she wants, but do NOTHING to make mealtime stressful (international adoption book) but the pedi says "make sure she gets her several servings of fruits and vegetables per day." How? She won't feed herself fruits OR vegetables. But yet she went from the 50th percentile to the 90th percentile for weight...so clearly she's not starving....

Anyway. My head. It explodes with the what ifs. What if I'm doing it all wrong? I feel like I am, about 75% of the time. Why don't I have more patience? When will the sleep deprivation get better (ha!)...although we are getting better at nighttime, we still don't get through the night without being woken up twice...once for a full feeding and the other time because one of them starts to make noise and we have to wake up to determine if it's for real or not. And did I mention that on top of everything, I go back to work parttime in one week? And the nanny is wonderful--truly wonderful (experience with multiples twice, mature, hardworking, very loving) but I'm all at once jealous of her and looking forward with such glee and delight to our two full mock days this week, where I will be out of the house but not at work. I will get to have lunch with a friend, I will get my hair cut, I will do some shopping. I will feel guilty.

OK, so the blog title post.

On a particularly trying evening, the Mr. looked at me and said, "Was it too much fun we were having before they got here?"

I answered back, "No, I think it was too much free time we had."

"No, he said, too much going out to eat!"

"No, too much hanging out with friends!"

And back and forth it went.

Too much money.
Too much sleep--glorious sleep!
Too much running on trails.
Too much watching TV.
Too much eating food while it's still hot.
Too much reading for pleasure.
Too much staying up late because we knew we could sleep in.
Too much going anywhere at a moment's notice.
Too much vacations.
Too much, too much, too much.

We had too much of all of these things, and so we gave them all up.

Ha.

From the Mr.'s birthday.
Too much cuteness, indeed!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I'm the last splash...

Today was my birthday.

It was the first one in a long time where I wasn't anxious. I wasn't thinking about the fact that I was another year older and still not a mother. I remember my 31st birthday, the year I knew I would be a mother. Hmph. That was six years ago.

But today, today I am. And it was different. It made a difference. I felt light, happy, some might say ebullient even. That heavy, heavy weight of the question--would I be a mother?--gone.

I took the babies swimming! It was glorious. I received gerbera daisies from a dear friend Gail. I did someshopping, completely alone--divine. And the night will end with a chocolate cupcake filled with a caramel mousse. Oh yes.

I leave you with these photos from my day.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

F'ing monkey

I have about six different draft posts right now but alas, I thought I'd share a little diddy about parenthood with the MTLs.

So...bedtime rituals have been established since the get-go and honestly, have overall worked out pretty well. Most nights, the Mister and I are sitting down to a quiet, grown-up meal by 7:15 pm. Now, it does bear pointing out that this is because the meals themselves didn't have to be cooked from scratch.they were meals from that delicious stockpile I froze prior to our trip, or from generous friends who made such things as artichoke spinach lasagna, so no real time was spent in preparation.

Ahhh, 7:15 pm how we loved you so. It was quiet. We could sit down. We could eat (and as anyone who knows us in real life can tell you, the MTLs do love to eat!). We could zone out while watching reruns of the Sopranos, or more recently dive into Project Runway (hello? I love me some Tim Gunn).

But lately, the past five nights or so, change has been in the air. No idea what prompted it but I'm fairly certain the babies are in cahoots with each other because they both decided, with no warning to us, to start holding rodeos in their cribs after they were laid down. During the normally peaceful rock in the rockers while drinking a delicious warm bottle of formula they decided to arch and kick and dance and sometimes squeal. They weren't crying, they just weren't relaxing. And thus laying down in the crib just invited more shenanigans.

So yeah, they didn't start off crying, but sort of ended up crying, and the thing is, with two babies, if one cries you freak out and don't want the other to hear and be disrupted so you probably do things a little differently, rush in a little quicker, try to appease the upset baby with, well, pretty much anything at some points.

After the fourth night the Mr. and I were at our wits end (I know, cry me a river). But we just couldn't figure out what went wrong, what was different (nothing!). It was mission critical time yet again, time to lay our daughter down, and she seemed to be ready. The Mr. held his breath and went to lay her in her crib, hoping for no rodeos and a peaceful drift off to a nice deep slumber like she had always done before.

I stood watching in the doorway, having already laid down our son who was mercifully being quiet...we were almost there! Almost there!

And then.

Where is the f'ing monkey? Mr. MTL didn't shout this (of course not!), but he mouthed-shouted and I could clearly make out what he was saying.

The pink Paul Frank sock monkey that our daughter clutches within an inch of its life when she falls asleep. The monkey! Where the eff was the monkey?

I dropped to my all fours and crawled across the room, desperately scanning under the cribs, under the dresser, under the changing table, everywhere, trying to stay under my son's radar (he has quite the ability to sense our presence in the room and then bam! pop up over the bumper pad, which is at once annoying as heck but incredibly cute), and met the Mr, who had laid our daughter down sans monkey and was desperately trying to figure out what to do next.

It felt like minutes, but I'm sure it was only seconds before I saw him belly crawl across the room to their toy storage and yank out another stuff animal, belly crawl back to the crib (remember: we can't let our son see us, hence all the belly crawling) and stuff it quickly into our daughter's arms, hoping beyond hope that she won't know the difference.

Of course I notice, but before it was too late, that the particular stuffed animal he grabbed was a dog. A barking dog, you know, one of those that if you squeeze in the middle you'll be rewarded with a ridiculous yappy bark.

Oi vey.

She clutched the dog within an inch of its life (maybe the monkey wasn't so special after all?) and we collectively exhaled. Of course we were inwardly gasping for breath, you know, from all the strenous belly crawling everywhere.

We slunk out of the room. I spent an hour worrying that that dog would start yapping and all would be lost, but alas, they slept.

We made it to our safe haven of a living room where we scarfed some food and I drank a--you guessed it!--Diet Coke. Ahhh, aspartame and artificial caramel coloring, how you soothe the tired soul.

So I leave you with two pictures:
I told you she loves that monkey, though in this photo she has clearly loosened her death grip.


This makes me happy.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Uni-tasking.

Multitasking. When did this term become vogue? It actually bothers me now, much like the phrase "think outside the box" or--mega cringe--"paradigm shift". Did I just date myself? Ahem.

But more than just being annoying, I think the idea of multitasking has actually ruined a lot of us. Or ruined a lot of things, like the ability to uni-task <--(made up word I think).

We're praised for multitasking. Go to an interview and get asked to name your strength and many would proudly say "I can multitask with the best of 'em!" The interviewer would smile and nod enthusiastically. Yes! Yes! We want you to do ten things at once, and do them all well.

I am guilty as charged of multitasking. I make lists about making lists and I fold laundry while talking on my hands-free while watching the news while checking my email. Sheesh. The other day I was rocking one baby and rubbing the dog's belly with one foot while using the other foot to keep the rocker in perpetual motion and I'm sure I was going over a to-do list in my head and if I could have been, I would have been folding laundry at the same time. I am always--ALWAYS--thinking of what is next. I say our schedule out loud. We'll be running together as a family of four on an early Saturday morning I'll say to Mr. MTL "OK so next we'll do this, and then after that it's this, and then it will be time for X and Y and of course don't forget Z." And while I'm hearing my out loud voice proclaiming the day's schedule my internal voice is going over the mega list--you know the one--the one that lurks in the background always....things like.... readoption...circumcision (ack). Buy more life insurance. Change financial planners. Make a will (double ack). Etc. etc. etc. But all the while I'm missing the run. The sound of our feet on the pavement, our rhythmic breathing, the feeling of my muscles doing work, my children's coos and babbles as they notice everything around them.

I am not in the present so much of the time which sounds ridiculous because all you can ever be is in the present. When I am in the shower, surprise! I can only be in the shower. I cannot be anywhere else so I might as well enjoy it instead of thinking about what is coming next. One time, I started squeegeeing the shower walls while the water was still running before I realized what I was doing. That's pretty embarrassing.

Regarding parenting--multitasking can ruin that in a heartbeat. You cannot be blogging, commenting, checking email, Facebook, talking on the phone, whatever--while playing with your kids. But yet I adore my Iphone for exactly that reason. Enter-->guilt. Sure, I can semi-play. But I can't really play. Down on their level moving with them playing. And I must admit that I cannot fully experience the wonder of watching 9 and almost-9 month olds really play unless I'm fully in the present with them.
Yeah yeah yeah, mindfulness and being present might as well be 'paradigm shift' of today huh? You read about it everywhere. But it bears repeating, especially to my multi-tasked out brain.

Because, really, if I'm not really playing, down on their level, how will I ever see this?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Phone numbers

My parents have had the same phone number since I was two years old, which means it's been the same number for a very long time.

I can say it so fast it just sounds like one big word, as it's been rolling off of my tongue for years and years.

Tomorrow will be the last day I can call that number and ask to speak to my father.

He is moving out of his house tomorrow.

My mom simply cannot take care of him at home anymore (even with nearly full time help).

The disease that has ravaged his mind is too much, for her, for everyone.

We are grateful that he was home for as long as he was.
Herculean efforts were made to help him recover as much as possible after his stroke (he went to the same rehab as Congresswoman Giffords) but alas, there was nothing that could be done, really. Dementia is cruel.

My mom is exhausted. Spent. Mentally, physically, financially (and no, it is not about finances).

She is also heartbroken, having to be separated from her husband of 40+ years. I can scarcely stand to think about her on their acreage, in their big country house, all alone.

After tomorrow I will have to call another phone number--one I will undoubtedly have to look up repeatedly--and ask to speak to my father, ask someone I don't know if he would be willing to talk on the phone.

But he won't want to talk.
It's a rare occasion that I can get more than two sentences out of him on the phone, and it's clear he really doesn't know what's going on. He only knows it's me because my mother always tells him to say hello to me. She can't stand for him not to know his own daughter.

I guess we're lucky that most days he doesn't know he's at his own home anyway, maybe that will make it less hard on him.

But it doesn't make it any less hard on me, on my mother. I know some of you have lost your fathers and I don't know which is worse--to lose them outright early or to watch them disintegrate into nothingness when they were the strongest person you ever knew.

My dad--he could chop down a huge tree while wearing a J-collar with a broken neck. He could work in the hot sun all day long and never complain. He could run marathons. He could ride his bike longer and faster than Mr. MTL and I ever could--he exhausted us on countless rides. He could do the hardest crossword puzzle of the week in the newspaper and never.give.up until every last blank was filled in. He could read the Christmas story to us every year and always choke up on the words "And she pondered all these things in her heart." He could give you a gentle squeeze with his calloused hands, he could laugh at your bad joke, he could sing off-key but from the heart...he could do all of those things and now, he cannot.

And tomorrow he has to move out of his house. And into the care of virtual strangers to live out his days with more indignities than anyone should ever, ever have to suffer.

Oh Dad.
I'm so sorry.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Finally, an update and new photos!

Wow, I guess my last post was just too heavy. How I wish it didn't need to be written, didn't need to be said, how those emotions weren't there.

So this post is dedicated to all things happy and good.
  • The mister went back to work this week. OK, so that sucked royally, for him, for ME, for the babies, but the good news is, we survived! Taking care of them is exhausting, my back aches, my wrist hurts, I am still losing weight just from the never-sit-still nature of it all but I'm getting it all done. And keeping the house clean. And everyone is fed. And we play play and play some more. And during their naps I do sit still and enjoy Diet Coke that has been in the freezer for 25 minutes and is just a little bit icy and frozen. Delish.
  • Watching Mr. MTL with these babies is magical. Who else would play music for them, every single night, while he does bath duty? I'm serious--he plays songs for them on the ukele--Buddy Holly, some Mr. Leebot, and some stuff he makes up off the cuff. They adore it. He also turns giant red toy tubs into drums and gives them great beats to bounce to while they go nuts in their jumpers. And of course they've had many private Mr. LB concerts where they shake their little shakers to the beat! These kids may not end up liking music, or being musical, but no one will be able to say they weren't exposed to it.
  • Running. We go every morning, at 6:45 am and I push that damn Bob Revolution Double Jog Stroller up and down the hills of our little community. They are early risers and it's fine by me--it's hitting 105 and 106 every day lately so the only chance we have for outdoor time is super early. It is quite the workout, I'm slow as ever, and I only make 4 or maybe 5 miles but I get it done.
  • They love to play! And read! And help me bake! And play some more! And get in the baby pool! And pretty much everything (OK well the little guy doesn't so much like the carseat for very long) we've done they seem to like. We still keep it simple and mostly at home but now that we're in a routine we know when we can safely venture out. Target, watch out!
  • No one is sick anymore! Well, scratch that...there are still issues with our son that we will work with PT on but that should be manageable. But at least we're not running to the pediatrician every other day anymore.
  • They are eaters. Big eaters. Our daughter is up to 19.6 pounds, whoa. Our son is 18.5 pounds. They are doing great--solids three times a day and I love to feed them! Once I was given permission to use one spoon for the both of them (by some twin moms out there) it got a lot easier. I mean, they lick each others faces so why was I worried about them sharing a spoon? Maybe it's because I, personally, share spoons with no one (not even the mister) so I was projecting that onto them. I don't know.
  • They are showing the earliest earliest signs of attaching to us. They look for us, they cry for us, they call out for us. It's wonderful. We're not dumb and know that attachment takes months and years, but we are grateful for the smallest of signs.
  • Baby laughter. Never did I imagine the ridiculous things I would do to make a baby laugh. But we do, and we are rewarded handsomely.
  • They are delicious. In every way possible. You will see, in the photos (our first professional photo shoot--> and only one!)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

I know.

I'm a horrible blogger lately. I'm a horrible commenter.

It's weird, being on this side. I read it time and time again--as people cross over they don't know their place anymore.  I don't think I was meant to be a "Mommy Blogger." I'm an infertility blogger who transitioned into an adoption blogger. I don't know what to be now. Just a regular blogger?

I promise an update type of post soon, there's certainly lots to say, but lately I've just had so many moments where my heart is in my throat and I nearly succumb to sadness that threatens to take me down.

East Africa.

What is going on there is horrible. It causes my heart to break.

We are connected to East Africa. Our babies came from there. Our babies have relatives there.

There but the grace of God go I.

I go to put up their baby food and there isn't enough room for all of it.

I go to dress them and find that they are outgrowing clothes left and right and putting on more rolls of fat and chub.

And mothers in East Africa are leaving their starving babies on the side of the road to die because they simply cannot make it any further. Refugee camps are swollen with the starving, the exhausted. They don't hope for a better life, they just hope to live, period.

And we spent $80K trying to have a biological baby. While babies starve to death. And yes, you could insert anything--bigger car, better house, vacations, clothes, going out ot eat--anything that we don't need but simply want. And yes, I know we all do it every.single.day while so much of the world suffers. And that there will always be horrific disparities between the haves and the have nots but I sometimes wonder how did it get like this? Why do we allow it? If I could go back, with hindsight...

I cannot even fit all of their food onto the shelf in the pantry.

Abundance. No hunger pangs here. Fat babies.

That I love with all my heart.

There were sisters on Oprah a few months ago that run a food pantry. They said their motto was the following:
There is only one race, the human race.*
There is only one father, the Heavenly Father.
And you should never take the last piece of bread because someone might come along who needs it more than you do.

Those words are always running through my mind.
But most days all I can do is just hug and love on my sweet chubby babies.

*And just to be clear: as an international adopter I do not believe the first line as a way to go about parenting across cultures, I just think it's a sweet sentiment.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Things.

"The cheapest place I have found to get wipes is Target," she says, giving me the 'new Mom' tip.

"Noted," I reply.

We are sitting at the kitchen table. We are hoping that certain sleeping people in the next rooms are really sleeping, soundly sleeping, no catnaps. We are both tired and we could both use a break. A good long nap would be nice--for everyone.

I tiptoe to the first bedroom door and peek in, holding my breath as if my babies can hear the rush of air into my lungs. I listen for the telltale deep breathing of sleep, I watch their chests rise and fall. Yes! They are asleep.

I tiptoe to the next bedroom door and peek in, still holding my breath.

Ahhh, again the sweet deep breathing of true sleep.

Naps, it seem, are going well.

The thing is, I am talking to my mother about wipes, the ones she uses for my father.
I am peeking in on my own babies but also my own father, who is 'down' for a nap.

It is surreal.
It is cruel.
The life cycle coming full circle, my father so much like a baby now.

I return to the table and tell my mother that yes, they are all sleeping. We can take a much needed rest.

I don't think she ever imagined she would be sharing shopping tips for things like wipes with her daughter. I know I never imagined it.

But it is what it is.

We took the babies home so that I could get my precious photo of them small, with my Dad.
He barely noticed them.
He certainly didn't want to have them lay next to him, he certainly didn't take note of their coos, of their tiny hands reaching for him.
He maintained his classic blank stare and then asked for an orange.

But I'm glad I took them home. I did it for me.

Life can be so strange, I often wonder what might be next.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Uh oh.

Well, it seems Mr. MTL brought something extra back from Ethiopia.

Malaria.

Yikes. We'll have it confirmed but he's already started on treatment, which isn't a big deal (simple treatment) but he feels pretty crummy.

See, it's 102 degrees here but this afternoon he was piling on the layers. I said "That's it! To the doctor!" He thought his fevers were just lingering from all the crud we've all had. My fevers stopped two days ago for the most part but his kept coming back.

Malaria is not endemic in Addis so it isn't common to get it there, nor is it required to take anti-malaria drugs prior to traveling there. But another couple who were there during our first court trip also came home with malaria so it isn't impossible.

Today, Mr. MTL had to leave us (!) for three whole long hours, which marked the first time I'd really been alone with them since getting home. And it was hard. Hard hard hard. It seems I don't have enough hands, which I forsee is going to be a big problem in three weeks when Mr. MTL is back at work for good.

But we all survived and somehow everyone was fed, we played outside in the baby pool, diapers were changed, and yes, there were some cranky babies here and there because if there's one thing a baby doesn't understand it's "Just a minute, I'll get to you right after I tend to your brother/sister." Yeah, they're not quite getting that phrase yet.

So send us good vibes from quick healing, and yes, that is mostly a very selfish request on my part so I don't lose my right hand for very long :) But I'd like him to feel better, too!

PS To the anonymous commenter who gave me advice about the rockers...those are Eames rockers! As in, classic nursery rockers since 1948, so hardly a 'trend.' They are uber comfortable and we love rocking the babies in them. So no, I won't be getting some clunky wooden rocker or, heaven forbid, a glider rocker. Our Eames rockers rock, plain and simple.

PPS No offense if you like clunky wooden rockers or glider rockers, but they're just not my style.

PPSS I am sorry I am not commenting. I am trying to read your blogs. I am with you in spirit. I am mostly reading blogs on my Iphone in between everything else and while I think Iphones are a brilliant invention, they are not comment friendly.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

This post brought to you by Diet Coke.

Ahhh, Diet Coke. Sweet elixir of life, especially right now. I'm not a coffee drinker but I do find I need a little Diet Coke. Or a lot of Diet Coke. Can someone please define what a lot of Diet Coke would be?

We have been to the pediatrician's three times in seven days. I'm very thankful that our clinic has a weekend sick clinic as we have visited it twice. Our son ruptured his eardrum. His fever was nearly 104. I was a wee bit panicked and luckily have a best friend who is a pediatric nurse and calmly told me exactly what to do. Whew. At any rate, sick babies are tough. Sick babies are tougher when you are sick. Seriously, I had a fever for two days. And I never, ever get sick! My sister said: correction, you used to never get sick. Ha.

The babies are lovely. We go out in the Bob Stroller every day--not to jog but to walk, but soon, soon we will be running. But with both adults sick we decided to give our babies some rest. And really? Who would think having babies would be the easiest diet I've ever been on...down about 7 pounds since we left for Ethiopia and none of our illnesses were GI related. I think it's the "I never sit down anymore" effect. I'm sure it will pile back on when I'm more in my groove instead of frantically running from room to room trying to get everything done. And while many have given us the advice of letting housework go by the wayside right now, I just cannot. I need to clean. So I keep cleaning as soon as they're asleep or playing with the mister, etc. etc. I must say that our house looks like a small preschool because of having two of everything--something we swore would never happen.

But I am not complaining.

I just need some more Diet Coke.

Enjoy the picture!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

At last.

Hello!
We are here. We are surviving. A couple of days ago I would have written the words: barely surviving, but each day is getting better. Warning: this post will contain some complaints about the rigors of taking care of two infants. And like most IFers who cross over (however they do) I feel some serious guilt ever letting out a complaint here. However, in a nutshell:

The sixteen hour international flight was nothing short of the most excruciating experience of my life. It was my labor and delivery for sure, unmedicated all the way. You see, we stupidly expected to board the flight with two bassinets reserved which would allow the babies to have a real place to sleep, which in turn would give us a chance to sleep.

No such luck. Despite getting to the airport over three hours prior to our departure as instructed, the bassinets were already all taken. At this point we proceeded to tell the ticket agent to reconsider and change his answer. Ha ha. Which meant we boarded that sixteen hour flight with two sick infants with nothing to do but hold them the whole time. And they screamed. And they thrashed. And they were miserable. And I cried within ten minutes of taking my seat. I think I have some post traumatic stress related to the flight.

Our stopover in DC was only moderately better because, despite being extremely tired, the babies wouldn't sleep in the hotel room. I cried some more. So did DH.

When our DC to Austin flight was delayed we all freaked out a little more, and yup, more crying. It was the last flight to Austin and there was no way we weren't going to be on it. DH had me calling our travel agent and he promised to "pay whatever it takes to get home tonight"...I think he would have chartered a private jet at that point. Luckily the flight made and although it was overbooked we made it on board and landed in our hometown.... only to discover that DH's parents (who had our car with our carseats) were stuck in a horrible traffic snarl outside the airport. I had actually seen the lights and sirens from the air as we landed. They hadn't moved an inch in over an hour. So we made a camp on the dirty airport floor and waited some more.

Oi vey.

We made it to our first night in our own home at 1:00 am and proceeded to sleep 3 hours. Which made our grand total of sleep about 3 hours 25 minutes in three days.

Yes I know sleep deprivation is part of the deal. But suffice it to say we were overwhelmed. There were tears. There were moments of sheer panic, dread, and fear.

And then.

My dear sweet Pablo dog took a turn for the worse. He has been in kidney failure for a while, he is quite old, and we knew the end was near. But yet he persisted.

He is the only living creature besides DH who knew the depth of my IF pain. He patiently sat with me while I sobbed so many times, he gave me little nudges and licks but mostly he was just there, abiding with me in my darkest moments.

I'd like to think he held on just in time to see the human babies make an appearance in our lives before he finally felt he could let go and have a sweet release from this life. I loved him like a human and he will always, always be my first son, my original boy. But having to say goodbye to him the first day after we arrived home was excruciating and my heart is still broken.

These last few days have been a whirlwind. Every day gets better. I feel like now that one infant would be a breeze. Oh yes. But we are making it, bit by bit, breath by breath, hour by hour and sometimes minute by minute. They are starting to recuperate, we are getting well, too (seriously--I haven't been sick in years, but every single baby in the orphanage was sick so it was inevitable), and we are starting to find a little groove.

I have so much I want to say about our experiences in Ethiopia. About the orphanages. About the donations. About the surreal day I clutched my baby girl to my chest as DH clutched our baby boy to his in the back of a very old Toyota (there are no car seats in Ethiopia) as we made our way on the muddied, nearly washed out roads towards the US Embassy, where we raised our right hands and talked through glass on a little phone to an anonymous worker on the other side, and in five minutes they were ours....I want to talk about it all but for now, I will just leave you with a few photos for your viewing pleasure:

First pedi visit, my Mom came to help for the day (in case you're wondering who is behind the stroller)
Bob Stroller. No, we haven't used it, besides strolling in the house (it's over 100 degrees here) but check out my daughter's evil glowing eyes!
View from the top, bath time togetherness!
My sweet boy Pablo, in his healthier days.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Quick update!

We made it! So far so good, even got to feed them a bottle! They are still officially under the care of the foster home but soon we will be IT for taking care of them! So here they are...still in their foster home duds and not too sure of us but....we are doing just fine. Now if someone could get me some hot water life would be perfection :)



Thursday, June 23, 2011

Wheels Up!

Ok this is new...blogging from my iPhone! I'll keep it brief but we are on the first leg of our journey. These past few days have felt surreal, jammed with prep and full of 'lasts'...last jog together just the two if us, last quiet meal in front of the TV watching an old 'Sopranos', etc. But as my wise friend Stacey said, soon our lives will be full of firsts!

I will try to post some from Ethiopia, but Internet can be fickle at best!

I'll leave you with a pic from the DC airport with all our bags...the duffels are stuffed with medical supplies, clothes and blankets. The orphanage fund ended up with about $5,000 and we are so thrilled to buy the big ticket items when we get there!

Ok blogger on iPhone won't let me upload a pic which is stinking because now how will I share baby pics? Ack...if anyone knows how let me know...

Thanks for all the wonderful well wishes...it has really taken a village to make this family:)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

I should be writing it all down...

The details.
The feelings.
The craziness.
But instead, I'm racing around like a nutcase trying to do everything one feels one needs to do before bringing home two babies that are not tiny sleeping infant newborns.

First of all, thank you so so much for all your words of support, love and congratulations! They mean the world to me.

Secondly, I know I am behind on all of your blogs. I am sorry. I am trying to keep up with reading, but commenting, not so much.

We are thrilled, naturally, beyond belief. We had a middle of the night phone call with the US Embassy that left us near frantic, only to have it all resolve within a day. I guess the rollercoaster never ends, and yes, we're fully aware we're trading one for another with parenting.

And while we are thrilled about bringing our babies home to live with us, there is so much sadness I have in my heart for them, for their little innocent hearts.

The loss is tremendous.  It is something I can only imagine in bits and pieces because, as I have pointed out before, I know what it is like to lose my future genetic connection, but I have no idea what it is like to lose my past. My babies will go through yet another traumatic loss as they lose their culture and their language. Naturally we are going to try to do whatever is possible to help them know their culture but we're not foolish enough to believe it is a substitute for being able to be raised in your country of origin, with your first family. So I do hurt for them. I do keep reminding myself that although I am in love with them from the top of my head to the bottom of my toes and that I have been falling in love with them more every day they do not know me. They do not remember me. They are now at the age where they might not readily go to me.

It's ok. We'll figure it all out. This isn't about me anymore, about my expectations, about my needs. It's about theirs.

But, all that being said can I just say how I am dying to hold them again? How I am dying to feed them, to rock them, to read to them, to sing to them, to dress them in the little clothes I have been washing and folding and organizing for the past few days?

We leave at the end of this week, fly for two days (did you know a volcano was erupting near Ethiopia and that for a few days our agency was nervous for us....and that it hadn't erupted in several hundred years so naturally picked the time the MTLs were coming to unleash some airline un-friendly ash into the skies? Although it seems to have calmed down we both felt maybe a teeny tiny bit picked on by the universe....!), land, love on the babies, see the US Embassy, purchase and deliver all the supplies for the orphanage (we raised $4,300!!), and then fly home to land on U.S. soil July 1st. It's going to be a whirlwind.

Speaking of whirlwind, on Friday I decided to cook as many meals as I could that could fit in my freezer to help us out. We won't have anyone staying with us to help out--my Mom can't do it with my Dad's health condition--and while we do have friends who have offered meals I still wanted to do what I could. Let me say I don't really want to see my kitchen for a while....I cooked: 15 vegetarian eggrolls, one veggie fake chicken enchilada cassserole, two vegetarian strombolis, eight black bean cakes, four feta vegetarian 'burgers,' and a lentil 'meat'loaf. Plus I stocked up on some easy stuff to cook and some of our favorites. I had to clean out the fridge and freezer, which always feels good. The deer in our neighborhood ate well, ha.

Otherwise, we've been packing, washing, filling out and gathering paperwork (we have to take NEW employment letters, just in case we lost our jobs this week, a copy of our taxes, a gazillion immigration forms, etc. etc. etc.) buying baby food and formula, sterilizing bottles, packing bottles, trying to anticipate the needs of two virtual stranger infants for a 16 hour flight and pack accordingly (ha, ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!), cleaning our house, hiring our pet sitter, getting them on our insurance, making their pediatrician appointments, installing car seats....you get the drift. We've been busy.

About that long flight....God help us. But, our lovely friend Bea made 50 (fifty!) airline treat bags to hand out to passengers (picture below). In them, there are snacks, gum, ear plugs, and a lovely little poem that says the following:
We're becoming a family of four,
With two children we greatly adore,
Our daughter and son
Bring joy and such fun.
We feel more complete than ever before.

Please forgive their fussing and crying.
You see, it's just their first time flying.
We're now homeward bound
And til we touch the ground
This mommy and daddy are trying.

Isn't that the greatest! Hopefully it will engender some goodwill from the folks nearby as I'm sure we will have some less than beautiful moments on that long flight....

So those are the details as they are. Scattered, unorganized, but I wanted to get these thoughts and these activities down. We're so close.

So close.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Babies, you're coming home!

Yes, it's true.

We got approval for both babies, they have been cleared by the US Embassy!

Babies, we'll be there.

More details later....my mind is a spinning mess of good stuff!

Friday, June 10, 2011

I was this.close

I was this close to posting fantastic news today.
Fantastic news that would help make June 10th not such a horrible day.

June 10th, 2008...the day my sweet friend Gail lost her beautiful twin girls, Caroline and Samantha at nearly 20 weeks. A loss so unspeakable, a type of pain I didn't even know existed, and I say that as someone who witnessed it from afar, not lived through it.

June 10th, 2009...the day my sweet father had his massive stroke. The day that half of his brain died and he became paralyzed and unable to care for himself. The day my mom's life changed forever. All our lives did.

And then last night, although not technically June 10th, I read about sweet Lis, who lost her twin baby boy and girl at 21 weeks. This was after losing her sweet twin baby girls at 20 weeks in 2009.

This morning we woke up to an email...the email we had been waiting for. The email that said our case had cleared the US Embassy, that we could travel and go pick up our babies.

Except wait...it said we could travel to pick up our baby. One. Singular.

They have not completed our daughter's case. We have no idea when it will be completed. We were never prepared for this possibility. And of course, this happens on a Friday, and the Embassy is long since closed in Ethiopia.

"Are you willing to travel twice?" our agency wants to know.

Um, no. We cannot. We do not have that kind of money. Adoption shouldn't be about money, but let's face it, it's expensive. Traveling internationally is expensive. Buying airline tickets with only a week's notice is expensive. So no, we cannot travel twice.

The agony--to know that our son is available to unite with us but not our daughter. Leave him there? Wait? The unknown smacks us upside the head, yet again.

But none of this compares to the loss of babies. None of it. I know that.

I just wanted this June 10th to be different. But instead, I find myself sitting here, staring out our giant picture window wondering why? Why does any of this happen? Why does it seem like nothing is easy for those of us with infertility? Why do some people have two, three, nineteen babies without a hiccup and some lose four? Why am I faced with another agonizing decision, complicated by finances, powerless yet again.

To Gail, my heart will always break for the loss of Caroline and Samantha.
To Lis, my heart is breaking today for the loss of Thomas and Bayli. For the loss of Ayla and Juliet.
To my Dad, I am so sorry this happened to you. You deserved more.

And to me and Mr. MTL...we'll get through it, we always do.

Friday, June 3, 2011

6

Warning: this post is very "same song one millionth verse." I'm sorry for that, because if I could sing a new song I would-- in a heartbeat.


Today my little girl turns six months old.

So make that six months of her life that I have missed, save five precious days back in March. Our little boy is six and a half months old.

I have so many posts roiling around in my head but most of them are so depressing, or so raw, and I want to put them out there but sometimes when I overspeak my mind I get into trouble so I need to tread carefully.

There is another reason the number six is significant to me but I'll leave it at that.

We started this process over two years ago. I remember telling my parents about it, in the neuroICU at the Texas Medical Center, where my Dad lay suffering from his massive stroke. I told them to bring something good into the space, into a room that was so heavy with despair. His stroke happened two years ago on June 10th. He's a sliver of his former self.

I am, too.

How many ways can you feel foolish?
Why did I wash their little crib sheets a month ago? Why did we race out and buy diapers a month ago, thinking that at any day we'd get the call to travel and wouldn't want to be purchasing last minute items? Do you know how many clothes I have that say 6 months? That they will not even get the chance to wear?

I guess there are a million ways to feel foolish in this process.

The Embassy is already closed in Ethiopia so we won't get any news today.
Which means we go into another weekend with nothing. No news. No frenzied travel plans to make. Nothing.

We get to lace up our shoes and go for a long trail run. For weeks we had been saying the words "We should do this now while we still can..." but the last time I started to say it Mr. MTL interrupted and said "Stop. Please don't say that anymore. It's just too hard."

He's right. I don't give a fuck about being able to go on a long trail run, about being to sleep late (even though I don't/can't), being able to lazily watch the day slip by. I don't care. June was not supposed to arrive without my family on the same continent.
Sometimes when I hurt so deeply I can only exercise so hard I think I'm going to die of a heart attack. Because when you can barely breathe, when each step brings searing pain in your lungs and chest, at least your brain can't think about the issues that really are breaking your heart.

But that only lasts so long.

And then you're right back to the empty nursery, the birth announcements, the daily tasks of existing, the volunteer duties, the pregnant coworkers and their birth stories, the sinking into exhausted sleep only to be awakened with dreams that they are here. And then to realize in a fog that no, they are not.

Infertility was hard.
Three surgeries was hard.
Five IVF cycles was excruciating.
Dealing with others' pregnancies and babies during infertility was hard.
Filling out paperwork for adoption was hard.
Being interviewed and prodded and investigated and fingerprinted....all hard.
But this wait...this wait is the hardest by far.

See? I told you it was the same verse again.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

There is no relief.

Too many tears today.
Bad news from our agency.
Nothing is happening.
We are powerless.
All we can do is wait.
And look at the two high chairs.
And close the door to the nursery.
And go to sleep, and wake up, and go to work.
And wait.
Day turns into night and night turns into day and nothing seems to change.
The powers that be do not care about my heartache, not at all.
We came home from work and climbed into bed.
We both crave sleep or a coma.
Escapism for sure.
We don't drink.
Maybe we should?
Exercise helps?
Nothing helps.
Work continues.
We're both so busy and under so much stress.
We're both about to crack.
My Dad barely recognizes me anymore.
My heart hurts.
My head hurts.
I cuddle my tiny dog closer and closer, nearly smothering her.
She is small.
My babies are no longer small.
They are not here.
They are not here.
They are not here.
I am here.
But they are not.
Another evening spent, wishing and hoping and praying.
We are lonely in the worst possible way.
Our hearts are broken right now.
I know it's part of the process, this interminable waiting.
But right now I hate certain government offices.
This is not the difference between a child who is three years old and one month vs. three years old and three months.
This is the difference between a five month old and a seven month old
Changes happen. I will not witness them.
I am seriously contemplating flying to Ethiopia and camping out at the foster home until the Embassy finishes.
What if they won't finish?
What if they can't finish?
It's happened before.
I'm being dramatic.
Am I?
Right now, it feels like there is no relief.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The names, and other updates

I am dying over here.

Dying.

I never imagined how hard this would be--could be. Every day without them is agony. It has now been two months since we first boarded that flight to Ethiopia, our stomachs fluttering with butterflies, our hearts about to be opened in a way we didn't even know was possible.

Two months.

Two months of going to sleep praying that someone is picking them up when they cry, that someone is feeding them when they are hungry, that someone is cuddling them close, and singing them songs, and nuzzling their sweet baby necks, and patting their soft baby backs.

Two months.

Our case has hit another snag at the Embassy earlier this week. We spent Monday night near tears as we ran through worst case scenarios, ones we cannot even really allow our hearts and minds to consider. Yet again we're at the mercy of other people, there are circumstances we can do nothing about.

I never thought that at two months post-first visit we'd still be sitting here, waiting, watching the calendar as the days tick by, not slowly, but at rapid-fire pace, another week gone, anther week passed in a flash without them here. Another week (in theory) that brings them closer to us but at the same time another precious week of their lives that we are missing, that can never, ever be recovered.

If you pray, please direct your prayers to the U.S. Embassy, that they work swifty and only in the best interest of our babies, and that we do not disintegrate into madness while we wait for news to travel.

In the meantime, you can add their real names to your pleas to the universe on our behalf, stitched so lovingly onto two beautiful Curious George quilts handmade by a wonderful fellow IF friend and IRL friend from my childhood. First names given by us, second names their beautiful Ethiopian names that will forever be a part of them.

I hope you can read them. I was playing with a camera app to blur out the edges (so I certainly wasn't trying to blur out the details of their quilts, just trying to put the focus on their names).

Two months.


PS Please don't type their names into the comments section--I don't want their names to be searchable, that's why they're presented in a photo format (idea stolen from Claudia!).


Sunday, May 15, 2011

At last...


I am finally posting. I wish I were so delinquent for a good reason, like, say, traveling 7,000 miles across the globe to bring my babies home but not so. We're still waiting.

Thank you to those who checked up on me. I'm sorry I've been absent. It's been a strange time to be blogging.

OK. Where have I been and what have I been doing?

The shower.

It was amazing. It was surreal. It was emotional. The love and support I felt in that room was intense and there is not much more I can say about it other than that. Thank you to those who were there, physically and in spirit. I never thought I'd have one, and now I have. I have to look at the pictures myself to see the proof.


(Sister, Mom, and then there's me--the shower was at my house. Check out all the desserts!)
The living room right before everyone got there. You can't see all of them but there were fresh flowers (tulips and gerberas, my favorites!) everywhere. I loved them and wish I was wealthy enough to have fresh flowers all the time!




My sister gave me lots of Curious George stuff, including this adorable onesie for the little man. But when she said she'd been holding on to some of it for six years, well, it brought on some ugly crying on my part (no pics will be shared of that, sorry to disappoint. Just imagine my face, all red and scrunched up and contorted and there you go.)

The nursery:

The nursery.is.finished. We here at the MTL house like a modern aesthetic, but we also wanted to incorporate Curious George. So there you go. It's tough to go in there but I do. I love it as a room, but it hurts right now. Every single day they are growing and changing and I'm not witnessing it. I get my weekly photo update if I'm lucky, and they (of course) continue to be beautiful and gorgeous and perfect and they are growing growing growing. But the truth is, they won't be little babies when we bring them home. I guess I just have to be content with the five days of holding little babies that I had nearly two months ago.


My favorites are the tree on the wall, the modern little rockers, the zig-zag shelf (bought four year ago, sheesh!) and the red polka dotted rugs, which didn't really show up in the pictures.

Mother's Day.

You know how there's that old saying you can't  be a 'little bit pregnant?' Well, it turns out you can be a "little bit of a Mother on Mother's Day." I mean, people kept whooping it up and giving me big Happy Mother's Day wishes which was super nice--don't get me wrong--but without them here it just felt empty. I realize I am closer than I have ever been and believe me when I say I am grateful beyond words to have the privilege of adopting my babies, but it wasn't like I got any sloppy sugars or cuddles with anyone other than my furbabies.  I wasn't in a dark state of despair like previous years, and that is something, but it wasn't exactly the most joyous of days.

I don't want to sound like a broken record but it's just tough right now. We're so close--so close--but yet still, literally so far away. They are legally ours but yet we have to go through a third party to get anything done--to get an updated height/weight takes an Act of Congress sometimes. To arrange for an extra doctor's visit took over three weeks. Three weeks! If they were here, if we were a family together here, I could have had it done lickety split. It's wearing on us both. We're trying to enjoy the last 'free weekends' and so we've been doing lots of running and enjoying the outdoors, and seeing friends and family, and zipping here and there but we're tired. We've been running this ultra-marathon for years and it's time to retire those shoes. I've got blisters on top of blisters on top of calluses. But my heart has gotten one million times stronger and bigger, it's just waiting to share itself with the babies.

Up next, their names. I promise I won't take so long this time.