August 31, 2007

Apparently, I get a failing grade on oral

Posted in The musings of Erin at 12:11 pm by Erin

Health, that is.

Brea, your husband is lovely and a wonderful dentist.  His office staff was fabulous with both P and I.  He was very kind when basically telling me that I’d messed up my teeth by not having seen a dentist since I was pregnant with P, approximately 4 years ago.  On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being really good teeth, mine are somewhere around a 437.

Maybe it’s not quite that bad, but I do have a cavity that needs to be filled next week and several more spots that need attention after I sign up for dental insurance during benefits open enrollment period (it will kick in in January and I’ve been told it’s OK to wait until then).  This was very hard to hear when I’ve only ever had one cavity before in my life.  And my teeth needed more cleaning than could be easily done in one visit.  My mouth felt like it had been assaulted last night. 

I have been chastised for not flossing more regularly, and given hope that I am a good candidate for getting invisible braces when we can eventually afford it.  It is far easier for an-almost-30-year-old woman to promise to wear a retainer forever than it was for a 14-year-old girl whose orthodontist moved a month after she got her braces off.

P, however, was a doll.  I was expecting meltdowns similar to those we see when we go to the doctor’s office, which is why he had not had his very first dental appointment until yesterday.  Despite all our prep work for doctors (he has a doctor kit, which he enjoys playing with very much, and we read books about going to the doctor), he always starts crying and screaming.  I don’t know why.  He hasn’t had a shot since he was 18 months old and only gets sick once a year (or less).  The only other time he goes is for physicals.  He has a great memory but I still find it hard to believe that the trauma of vaccinations over half his lifetime ago could be causing this.  But regardless, he screams and cries and twists away from his pediatrician.

So we prepped for his dental appointment the same way.  We got out books from the library about going to the dentist, we played dentist with his dinosaurs, and I resolved myself that I would bribe him in any way possible to get his teeth checked for the first time.  Instead, he played quietly and happily with wooden puzzles while my teeth were cleaned.  Then he climbed into the chair, grinned like a madman as it went back and up, chose cherry for his toothpaste flavor, and allowed the hygienist to count, brush, and floss his teeth.  All I had to do was hold up a mirror so he could watch what she was doing, and he was fine.  Better than fine.  He enjoyed it–Mr. Thirsty was a particularly big hit, and the tooth brushing tickled and made him giggle.  And when it was all done, he got stickers!  And a new whale toothbrush!  And toothpaste!  And then he got to pick a toy from the treasure chest!  It might have been the best day he’s had in a while.

I’m glad he did so well there.  I wish I had done as well as he did.

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August 29, 2007

Getting my brag on

Posted in Ramblings o' P at 2:02 pm by Erin

Gotta get rid of the feelings of that last post.  Onto happy things, of P!

I may have shared the first story before.  About a month ago, J and I went out for our anniversary dinner (only a month late but whatever).  We left P with our neighbor, whose son is about 8 months younger.  We left at about 6:30 and planned to be back by 9 or so.  Her son goes to bed around then, so I told her not to worry about P’s bedtime, usually around 8–he’d taken a nap and should be fine until we were back.  After a lovely dinner at The Melting P*t, we headed back there.  Our neighbor said that P was an angel, the boys played together wonderfully.  And that P looked out of the window half an hour before we got there, said "It’s getting dark–it’s time for me to go to bed," went into their guest room, and fell sound asleep.  Whose child does that???  He certainly wouldn’t have done it if we’d been home!

We went out to dinner the other night.  After a long wait, we finally got seated.  We’d ordered our food and P was coloring on the menu (we go to classy joints, I tell ya) when an older gentleman from the next table got up and came over to us.  He leaned down next to P and said that he thought he was a lovely young man, that he was very impressed with his behavior, and that we should be very proud of him.  I guess he’d overheard P’s ordering: "I would like lema-ade (lemonade) and steak, please!"  To be honest, we’ve always expected that kind of behavior from P at restaurants and so we don’t notice it very often.  It was so sweet that he gave us such a nice compliment! 

I admit that I’m strict when it comes to behavior in public.  We’ve never hesitated to give time-out or even leave a place when his behavior isn’t appropriate, and he knows it.  I worked at a Discovery Z*ne and a summer camp when I was a teen, and swore that I would never raise a child like many of the ones that I met.  Their parents wanted to be their best friends and not their parents.  There was no balance between having fun and discipline.  I didn’t want that, and it makes me really happy to know that I’m raising a child who knows how to behave in different situations.

August 28, 2007

MOM!!!!!!!!

Posted in TTC woes at 11:58 am by Erin

If my mom doesn’t stop, I’m going to stop talking to her.

Three things this week:

1. "How long will you have to be in Ethiopia?  About ten days?  That’s not too bad."  First of all, she knows how long we’ll be there.  We’ve told her several times.  Second, we’ve also explained that we WANT to go to Ethiopia.  We’re not looking at it as a "have to be there" situation, but as a "get to be there" situation.  Our child was born there, lives there, and has a strong and undeniable tie to Ethiopia.  We feel privileged to get to go and share the culture and country with him.  I wish we were able to go for longer, and hope that we’ll be able to go back in the future.

2. "P’s going to have such an unusual perspective of a family!"  Wow.  This after I mentioned my friend who just brought her second daughter home from Kazakhstan.  Um, no Mom, he’s going to have a perfectly usual perspective of a family.  OUR family.  I would say probably half the people we spend time with on a regular basis have a child who was adopted internationally.  Our synagogue is full of families through adoption, almost none of them Caucasian.  We’re getting together with other families who’ve adopted from Ethiopia.  We’re making it a usual thing in our lives.  Maybe adoption isn’t common in her world; in ours, it happens frequently.

3. "I was watching The Closer and she has premature menopause, and they mentioned polycystic ovarian syndrome as a cause.  And there are so many things they were going to try, like removing the cysts and…"  Urgh.  Double urgh.  No Mom, I don’t have premature menopause.  My FSH levels are fine.  I don’t actually have polycystic ovaries, and I’ve never heard of removing ovarian cysts as a treatment for PCOS anyway (and it wouldn’t affect someone with premature menopause).  And even if I did, and they could do that, WE’RE ADOPTING.  We CHOSE to stop fertility treatments.  GIVE IT A FREAKING REST! 

(Oh, and did I mention that she was clearly very disappointed when I mentioned being back on birth control?  She was obviously hoping that we would be a "They decided to adopt and got pregnant!" story.  I told her that if I got pregnant now, I would cry for weeks.  My son’s in Ethiopia.  I need him to come home.  And she completely doesn’t get it.)

August 27, 2007

Oh yeah, I’m such a good friend

Posted in The musings of Erin at 5:50 pm by Erin

Right after posting that I always feel like my friends can count on me, I promptly forgot to bring dinner over to my friend who’s just back from Kazakhstan.  I was supposed to bring it over tonight and just remembered 20 minutes ago.  I e-mailed her as soon as I remembered (didn’t want to call because I’m being considerate–her daughters have probably just gotten into bed, and I know she’ll check her e-mail tonight).  I feel awful.

I’m the worst friend ever.

August 26, 2007

I get by with a little help from my friends

Posted in The musings of Erin at 11:45 am by Erin

You all know just what to say, don’t you?  About the counseling–we’ve talked about doing it, but really, neither of us feels like it’s what we need.  Seriously.  We might in the future.  We’ve done counseling before and will do it again if we need to; this time, however, we genuinely just need more time together, and that’s it.  I think we’ve both realized that and we’re trying to make it a priority again.  More time for each other.  There have been too many nights when P has gone to bed and, instead of J and I spending time together talking or cuddling or anything, he’s been on his computer and I’ve been on mine in another room.  Or one of us goes to bed early without saying much to the other.  There’s really no excuse except that we didn’t pay enough attention to each other.

We’ve already done better this week, and that’s done a lot to ease my concerns.  If we keep it up, I’m sure we’ll be fine.  And if we’re aware of it, we’ll be more careful to keep it up.

I’ve spent a lot of time with friends this week, which is helping counter the several weeks of being completely out-of-touch that I had before that.  I have been depressed, no doubt about it.  I’ve been short-tempered, I haven’t e-mailed or called people who’ve called me.  I’ve been scared and worried, and I hate to burden other people with that.  Isn’t that what friends are for?  To talk to and help out when we have problems?  I always feel that way about my friends, that they can count on me and I’ll be there for them.  But no, not about myself…I just avoid everyone and try to pretend life is peachy and perfect.  Maybe I worry that my friendships are too superficial, that they won’t stand up under the strain of any actual problems.  I have a lot of trouble really opening up to people, and I never seem to know whether I should ask someone to help me.

Case in point: a couple of months ago, a neighbor and I were talking.  They have a son who’s 8 months younger than P, and the boys get along really well.  She suggested that we swap babysitting occasionally so that we can each get nights out with our husbands.  It’s an idea I’ve thought about a lot, but never really had the guts to ask.  I hate to impose on people.  I can’t count the number of times J and I wanted to go out but didn’t, because we couldn’t find a $10-an-hour babysitter and I didn’t want to call a friend and ask them.  But once she suggested it, my mind thought "OK, we’re good enough friends for that!"  I just don’t trust myself.  I wish I did.

This week has sort of forced me back into life.  First, the students came back and I’m back at work full-time.  I really like my colleagues and have talked with them a lot (and already been invited to a Yom Kippur break-fast at one’s house–we went to her house for the seder last year also).  A friend who just adopted her second daughter from Kazakhstan came back on Friday, and we went out to dinner with them and several other families from our synagogue.  Last night, I went to another friend’s house to play Mahjongg (I’ve turned into my mother), which I had never played before and was lots of fun.  And the wine helped 🙂

Also, there was a gathering on Monday night for women who have adopted (or are adopting) from Ethiopia.  We got together at a local Ethiopian restaurant and had fantastic food.  Surprisingly, it helped me to hear that several of them have children who are having a tough time adjusting.  Too often, we only hear about the kids who are happy and well-bonded as soon as they meet.  Far too few people and bloggers talk about the problems they’re having, or what scares them.  It’s not that it made me feel better that they were having trouble.  It’s that I felt better knowing that I could admit my fears about adopting a SN toddler to these women, and that they would be understanding and empathetic.  So I did, and they were.  Several of the kids (both biological and adopted) are around the same age as P, so we’re planning some playdates.  I really like them.  I also really like knowing that they’re there if we need them.

I wish I were more confident about friendships.  If people hadn’t come up with these events and invited me to them, I would probably have stayed hidden away as long as possible.  I had to almost force myself out of the house, and I’m so glad that I did.  It really is helping. 

August 23, 2007

Not sure what to write

Posted in The musings of Erin at 7:18 am by Erin

I don’t normally write about my marriage or J a whole lot because, while he knows about my blog and is welcome to read it at any point, he generally doesn’t.  He says he wants to respect my privacy and give me a place to write what I need and receive the support I need.  I honestly doubt that he even thinks about it much.  Because of that, I don’t feel like it’s right to write something about him unless I’ve specifically told him that I have done so. 

I won’t go into details here, but we’re really struggling as a couple right now.  I’m scared in a way that I haven’t ever been before, and we’ve faced some serious issues in the past (infertility being only one of them).  And I’m praying that it can be fixed and that we’ll have back the wonderful relationship that started 12 years ago this November.

It’s nothing that can’t be repaired.  No third-parties were involved or anything like that.  It’s simply us.  Our lives have changed quite a lot in the last year and we haven’t been as vigilant as we needed to be in making sure that we kept us a priority.  We need to work together, and that’s the part that’s scaring me.  There’s no problem that’s just one person–I haven’t been little Susie Homemaker who always has delicious meals on the table in my spotless house with a shiny-faced child when J comes home (not that he wants or expects that because, get real).  I’ve definitely contributed to the problem.  My big concern is I feel like I’m facing it and J’s not.  He says he is and I know he wants to, but it’s not actually happening.  And I’m getting sadder and sadder.

Believe it or not, it was talking with J about the adoption issues that finally made me face up to the issues that we have together.  We’re not stopping the adoption.  But we haven’t sent in our dossier either, when it could have been in a month ago or more.  I think, in our hearts, we knew we weren’t quite ready to tackle this as a family.  Yet, we still hadn’t talked about it.  And now we’re slowly starting to.  Honestly, I don’t think it will take a lot to get us back to where we need to be–just more time and consideration for one another.  But we still need to deal with it together.

August 20, 2007

A lighter note while I continue to bare my soul

Posted in Ramblings o' P at 12:00 pm by Erin

It’s surprisingly hard to write a post like the last one.  If I hadn’t been bottling it all up for so long, it would be much easier.  I’d also like to answer some of your questions in my next one, and am trying to figure out how to do that.  So while I do that, an entertaining story of P!

A couple of weeks ago, we went to Maine.  My family vacations up there and we wanted to see everyone.  The night before we left, J ran into a crisis of sorts at work and decided that going would be impossible.  So P and I went by ourselves.  We stayed with my parents in their cottage and had a fabulous time–but we did miss J.

At least I did.

One morning, P was sitting on my lap and said, "I’m going to marry you when I get bigger."

I replied, "You can’t do that, Sweet Pea.  I’m already married to Daddy."

He looked at my parents and said, "Are you married?"

They said, "Yes, we are."

P looked concerned and said, "Who will I marry?"

I gave him a hug and said, "When you grow up, you’ll find someone you love and marry them."

P looked at me and said, "I’m going to marry you."

I said, "What about Daddy?"

He looked at me, very seriously, and said, "Daddy’s not here."

I almost dropped him, I was laughing so hard.  We’re raising a true player.

August 17, 2007

The truth

Posted in All ahead to adoption at 7:16 pm by Erin

It’s time to be real about all of this adoption business.  I hope I’ve never said anything as callous as "Why don’t you just adopt?"  I don’t think I have, but I may have thought it a time or two before infertility hit.  Wondering why people would spend so many thousands of dollars to have a baby that was biologically theirs.  Thinking it was stupid, that there are so many kids who need homes, and that they should just open their homes to those children.  I’m sure I used to think that.  What did it matter whose children they were biologically, so long as they got a family? 

I never knew the realities of adoption.  And now that I do, I would never, ever think that again.

There are the obvious issues.  Will it be a child of the same race, or of a different one?  A child of the same race might not be perceived as adopted as readily, which means that adoption might not be an issue that’s frequently mentioned by perfect strangers.  If it’s a child of a different race, it’s not enough to just say, "Color’s not important, we don’t even think about it."  We started this process very naively, thinking only that we could love a child of any color and so it wasn’t an issue.  Color is important.  For us, we’ll be raising a black son who will grow to be a black man.  And being a black man in our society isn’t always an easy thing–despite the many things we’ve tried to do about race relations in this country (sadly, much of it is lip service), there are still many racial divisions between white and black people.  As white adults, J and I will never know firsthand the things our son may have to deal with.  But as his parents, we are absolutely required to learn as much as we can in order to prepare him for life.  It’s a very daunting prospect, one I worry about every day.  Can I raise a black man who is proud of his skin color, proud of the person he is, proud of his family and birth country and culture, and prepared to deal with life in the country we’ve brought him to? 

Toddler adoption is the right thing for our family at this stage.  I know that in my heart.  But realistically, I’m terrified.  Our agency recommended that we read "Toddler Adoption: The Weaver’s Craft" to help prepare us for bringing home a toddler.  It was really, really difficult to read it.  At the same time, it was really, really important that we read it.  Many books are geared towards the adoption of an infant, and most of them talk about the bonding process from that stage of life.  Toddlers are a particularly difficult challenge, because they’re testing their independence.  However, a toddler who’s testing his independence and isn’t bonded to his parents leads to a child without any true attachments to the family.  So, with a child who won’t speak English and will likely be scared out of his mind at these strange "peach people" who are taking him far away from everything he’s ever known, we have to determine whether he’s bonded to us or not with a child whose natural instincts are telling him that it’s time to try to assert himself.

I’m scared I won’t be able to recognize what he needs.  Although P has had his challenging moments, he’s been a remarkably easy toddler.  There’s never been any question as to whether he was bonded to us, so when he wants to do something on his own, it’s fine.  And he feels comfortable doing it because he knows that we’re there for him.  But with a newly adopted child, I worry that I won’t be able to tell whether he wants to do something and feels secure that we’ll be there if he needs help, or if he wants to do something because he doesn’t feel he can rely on us and wants to be self-sufficient to protect himself.  Seriously, how do you know? 

My job is term-to-term, meaning that they don’t have to offer me a job for the next semester unless they want to.  While I’m eligible for FMLA as of October, it’s small comfort knowing that they can’t fire me for 12 weeks…because they’re not required to give me a contract for the spring semester.  If I don’t have a job, we don’t have health insurance.  With a special-needs child coming home, we need health insurance.  Actually, we’re required to have insurance for the adoption.  IF we got a referral this semester, I might be able to get off enough time to travel to Ethiopia and still get a job for next semester.  Maybe.  But it’s probably not likely.  My heart breaks at the idea of not meeting my son and seeing his birth country, of not meeting the women who’ve cared for him.  Sure, we’ll go back in the future, but it will be years before we could afford it.  And how would my son feel someday when I wasn’t there?  Will he think I was putting my job before him?  Will he understand the reasons that it had to happen?   

If I don’t go, my IL’s probably will (they might come anyway).  I feel small and petty admitting this, but I feel as jealous as can be at the idea that they would meet my son before I do.  That he might have a chance to bond with them before he has a chance to bond with me.  That, G-d forbid, he might cling to my MIL and not want me to hold him when he gets home.  I hate those feelings–I know how lucky I am that my IL’s are not only supportive but are very excited about our son coming home.  But I can’t seem to help it.  I’m not a nice person sometimes.

I’m going to stop there for now.  I’ve got more brewing…Lord, I have so much more brewing, I should not have kept it bottled up for so long…but I need a break to go and cry.  The dichotomy of feeling like there’s a piece of my heart that will be missing until my son is home and also feeling completely overwhelmed at the idea of adopting a toddler is amazingly painful.

August 15, 2007

I have a personality!

Posted in The musings of Erin at 6:48 pm by Erin

I sort of wondered if it would come back and say "No real personality."

Click to view my Personality Profile page

I figured that I would do this because I had seen so many people do it, and because I was curious.  I think I used to be pretty strongly ISFJ, but I’ve definitely become more extraverted than I used to be. 

Here’s one of the descriptions of an ESFJ:

"ESFJs are people persons – they love people. They are warmly interested in others. They use their Sensing and Judging characteristics to gather specific, detailed information about others, and turn this information into supportive judgments. They want to like people, and have a special skill at bringing out the best in others. They are extremely good at reading others, and understanding their point of view. The ESFJ’s strong desire to be liked and for everything to be pleasant makes them highly supportive of others."

Portrait of an ESFJ (The Personality Page)
That sounds about right to me.  One of the other descriptions says that being a teacher is one of the career matches for an ESFJ, or a researcher.  Since that’s all I’ve done since college, I supposed I knew myself pretty well!
I am going to do the other things I promised in my last post, but Amanda wrote a really honest post that made me feel very small–because she’s experiencing a lot of the things that I worry about and she wrote about them.  Have I told you anything about them?  No.  I’ve been pretending all is well, la di dah.  Her post made me feel guilty that I’m not even being honest about myself on my blog.  So I’m going to dig deep about my true feelings and concerns about adopting another son.  It’s going to take me a while, but I have to write it.  It’s eating away at me.

August 13, 2007

I was a dirty, dirty girl this weekend

Posted in The musings of Erin at 7:16 pm by Erin

Actually, my whole family was as dirty collectively as I’ve ever seen us.  We rebuilt the stairs at the base of our driveway.  They were railroad ties that had rotted out and become dangerous.  We’ve been meaning to do this forever and hadn’t gotten around to it, so P and I were a little surprised to come home from synagogue on Saturday afternoon and find that J had torn out all of the stairs.  Which meant that we had to get the stairs built.  Even though it was 103 degrees.  And sunny.  And humid.

I went and purchased the railroad ties (and thank goodness for our Explorer) while J did some digging.  Unfortunately, the only railroad ties I could get were 7" x 9" instead of the 6" x 8" ones we’d had in before.  So we had to do a LOT of digging, which meant also doing a lot of leveling.  The ties had to be split with the chainsaw and then put in two at a time (the stairs are 14" wide), with each one being level and even with the one in front.  And then we’d have to prepare the next step.  We only got the first (of five) in on Saturday, then got up at 7:00 a.m. on Sunday to finish.  We took a lunch break and were finally done by around 4 p.m.  P played in the dirt–red clay Georgia soil–and helped carry it around with his bulldozers and dump trucks, so he was covered in dirt.  It took two showers on Sunday evening before I felt clean again.  I cut myself with the drill, not badly but it still hurts, I scraped and bruised my fingers and legs on countless pieces of wood and equipment, and I am really quite sore.  But I only threw the tape measure in disgust twice, which I count as being successful.  And the stairs are very, very solid and level.

Now we need to build the railing by Thursday night.

I’m glad we’re handy, but I’m absolutely exhausted and today was my first day back at work.  I dozed off in two meetings; fortunately, so did one of my colleagues who was next to me.  And she dozed off first, so I felt better about it.  They were particularly boring meetings.

And now, my chickadees, I’m off to bed.  I’ll post about our last vacation of the summer, the status of our adoption, and a meme that Blondie tagged me for soon.  Unfortunately, more boring meetings are to be attended tomorrow and I have to do those first.  I can’t wait until the students come back next week!

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