September 17, 2009

What to do, what to do…

Posted in Adventures o' K, TTC woes at 1:46 pm by Erin

If I didn’t know for sure that I wasn’t pregnant (hello, day 4, you suck), I’d be sure I was pregnant:

 

1. Emotional swings, mostly trending to the weepiness.  The weather, which has now been gray and rainy for two days and is supposed to continue in the same vein until the beginning of next week, is not helping.  More about this (the weepiness, not the weather) later.

 

2. Fatigue.  Of course, this could be because of the combined 15 hours of sleep I’ve had in the last 3 days.

 

3. Lack of appetite.  Just don’t feel like eating.  Been doing it anyway, but really don’t feel like it.  Probably related to #1.

 

OK, it’s not much of a list.

 

The weepiness sucks and while my hormones and the weather are certainly playing a role, that’s not all that’s involved.  When I told J that my period was starting and that I was depressed because yet again, I wasn’t pregnant, he started making noises about getting back into treatments and doing the Clomid/IUI cycle that Dr. Wonderful wants me to do before moving onto IVF.  I honestly didn’t realize that even he’s getting antsy to have another child.  I knew he wanted more but he always seems so relaxed about it.  I mentioned that I’d rather wait until we were ready to do an IVF cycle so that if (when) the Clomid/IUI doesn’t work (again), we can start right in on the IVF when that one ends.  That was Dr. Wonderful’s suggestion and it sounded like a good one to me.

 

We talked about it a little that day but I could never get a clear answer out of him about whether we should call or not.  I didn’t even bring it up again because then it hit me: I can’t fathom spending the money on a cycle to have another child when I feel this intense urge to do a search for K’s firstfamily.

 

I have been struck lately by the number of reports that have come out about unethical adoptions in Ethiopia.  I don’t *think* ours is one.  We met K’s mom and have video of her nursing him shortly before she relinquished him.  I am sure that she is his mom, that he wasn’t stolen.  I don’t believe that our agency has child-finders, as the videos lately have shown.  I don’t think that they have people who go into these areas and say “Give us your children, they’ll have a better life, they’ll be doctors and send you lots of money.”  I don’t believe our agency lies to these parents who relinquish their children and tells them that they will hear from their children.

 

That doesn’t mean I think it was all done properly.  Our agency draws (or did until recently) most of its referrals from one area of Ethiopia.  They are not the only agency working in that area, and it seems like there are an awful lot of children being relinquished there given the number of referrals that they give.

 

Again, I do NOT believe they are asking for children or promising better things for the kids to get their parents to relinquish them.  But perhaps other agencies working in that area are doing that.  Or perhaps a rumor, completely unsubstantiated by anyone, has gone around that the adoptive families will send money if they relinquish a child.  I don’t know, but there are cases where things like that happen.

 

I want to make sure that K’s mom knew what she was getting into.  I don’t believe that our lifebook video is complete, and I know it was edited improperly at least once.  I’m not sure I trust the translation on the video, or the translator at our meeting with K’s mom.  Regardless of any of those things, I’d like more information about K’s family (especially his first-father’s side, since we know nothing of that side but the name of K’s paternal grandmother).  I’d like to be absolutely certain that K’s mom is getting information about K if she wants it, since I’m not sure if she does or even can travel to see the post-placement reports.  I’d like to know if she would be willing to have us visit when we go back to Ethiopia next time.  She’s still his mother, every bit as much as I am.  From our brief meeting, I’d have a hard time believing that she isn’t open to continued contact.  I hate the idea that she hasn’t heard a word about him since we met her.  It’s very likely she can’t get to the office to see the post-placement reports and the pictures we’ve sent.

 

I want to be able to give K her memories of him as a baby.  The story of his birth.  Her dreams and hopes for him.

 

This is something I want to do anyway, but it is my responsibility as K’s mom to make sure that he has as much information as I can give him.  G-d forbid something happen to his firstmom and we waited too long to make that contact.

 

How can I spend money pursuing my dream of another child when I owe the one I have so much more than I’ve given him?  I can’t stop weeping about the idea that a mother might have gone 18 months without a single word about her son.

 

Tonight I’m going to tell J.  We need to do that search.  We have the money and we have the name of a searcher who seems to be quite respected and honest.  We need to contact him and get this process started: for K, for his firstmom, and for us.

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March 4, 2009

Some good thoughts, please *UPDATED*

Posted in Adventures o' K at 6:24 am by Erin

K is sick.  He's been sick for a couple of days–fever that goes away with Ad.vil, breathing treatments pretty much every 4 hours except at night.  He's barely been eating, which is worrisome with my 32-lb 2-year old.  He's barely even wants to drink juice, which he would normally kill to get.  He's not sleeping much at all.  Last night, he spiked a fever of around 103, developed a rattling/raspy sound to his breathing that didn't go away after a treatment, and started pulling on his ears.  He was up 4 times last night between 7:30 p.m. and 1 a.m., then thankfully fell asleep around 2 a.m. (after more Ad.vil, yet another breathing treatment, and lots of cuddling with Daddy followed by Mama) and slept until 6.  The wakings are accompanied by lots of intense crying and it's hard to calm him, which is also worrisome since we're trying to keep him calm to help his breathing. 

This is not him.  This is not my sweet-natured, strong-willed boy.  This is a child who is feeling utterly miserable and we just don't know why.

J is taking him to the doctor this morning–hopefully they're there now.  If you could spare some good thoughts for him, I would really appreciate it.

*************************

K has pneumonia.  Poor baby, no wonder he feels so bad!  He's going to be on antibiotics and have nebulizers around the clock every 4-6 hours for the next week, and we're to take him back to the pediatricians or to the ER if he starts needing them more frequently than that.

I feel so bad for him.  Sweet boy.

February 6, 2009

Sweetness and light

Posted in Adventures o' K at 7:32 pm by Erin

Ever since K said "I love you" to me three weeks ago, he has been the most affectionate and cuddly kid in the world.  Saying those words was the release of a huge barrier for him and it's amazing how he's changed yet again.  He giggles more often and more easily.  He hugs all the time and gives kisses without being asked.  If he's sitting somewhere, he pats the seat next to him so that I will sit there–and once I'm there, he crawls onto my lap and cuddles up close.  We've moved him into a toddler bed and when he's falling asleep, he will reach out to me as I sit next to his bed, hold onto my neck, and pull me close as if I'm his favorite Elmo doll.

I can hardly absorb it all.  It's just the sweetest, most affectionate and loving trust I've ever been given.  And it's all the more precious because I know how hard it was for him to give it.

A month from tomorrow, we will celebrate our first Family Day–a celebration of the day that we returned to Atlanta as a family of four.  A year.

January 21, 2009

Did I tell you about the one…?

Posted in Adventures o' K at 8:34 am by Erin

The one where it took K 10 1/2 months before he said "I love you" to me?

When we first brought K home, I would often tell him that I love him and it would bring on hysterical screaming and crying.  It took me a while to figure out that if I said it to him in the middle of a tantrum, especially those brought on by grieving, it would bring on fresh fighting and tears more than anything else I would say to him.  Still, I kept saying it and he eventually he was OK with hearing it.

He started saying "I love you" himself several months ago, usually by being prompted to say it.  He wouldn't always do it though, so it took me a while to realize that he never said it to me when prompted.  He would say it to his daddy, his big brother, his grandparents, his teachers, anyone…except me.  Eventually he started saying it freely–but still not to me.  For a good three months, he would say it to anyone else but not to me.  One time he did say it to me, but he looked so shocked that I think it was an accident and he was wishing he could take it back.

I pointed it out to J a couple of weeks ago, and he hadn't noticed until then.  I can't blame him for not noticing–K's not that consistent with it and I get to spend more time with him, plus who notices something like that when it's not you?  But once I did point it out, he realized it right away.  If K was asked to say "I love you" to me, he would either say something else, pretend he hadn't heard, or go off and do something else.  Sometimes he would even shake his head.

I tried not to force the issue.  I'd ask him to say it sometimes, but just once and if when he didn't, I would leave it alone.  I tried not to be impatient.  I genuinely believe that he realized that it was more important to say it to me than it was to anyone else, and that he wanted to wait until he really MEANT it.  After all, he was relinquished by his mom and then the nannies at the care center let this strange lady take him away from them–letting himself truly love me would be letting down a huge barrier.  I'm sure he didn't rationalize it consciously (he is only 2, after all), but he knew that was a choice he wasn't ready to make.

Oh, I knew he loved me.  You only had to see him with me to know how much we love each other.  I didn't doubt that, which made it easier to wait.  Still, though, it was really hard to hear him say it to his grandparents on the phone and yet watch him turn his head when he was asked to say it to me.

A week ago today, on my 31st birthday, K said "I love you" to me and followed it with a huge hug.  I couldn't have asked for a better present.  Every time he says it now (even unprompted sometimes!), it makes my heart melt a little more and a little more.  It was so worth the wait, because it means so much that he really understands that those three little words are important and have meaning.

I had no idea how I could fall even more in love with this little boy simply by hearing him say three little words.

November 19, 2008

My baby is TWO YEARS OLD!

Posted in Adventures o' K at 10:28 am by Erin

I can't even believe it.  We had K's birthday party the other day (and we even all survived) and it felt incredibly surreal the whole time.  Last night when I was making cupcakes for his class, it felt surreal.  It's hard to wrap my brain around it.  It just seems so fast.  I know that it has been a little over 8 months since he came home, but it has gone so quickly.  The three months until we got to go get him took forever.  These 8 months have sped by.

I have so much to write about him.  He is the most special little boy.  In some ways he is a very typical two-year-old, complete with tantrums and attitude.  Most everything is "MINE!" even though he doesn't say 'mine' yet.  I could swear that I heard a toddler-ese "I do it!" this morning, which frightens me even though I knew it was coming.  There's plenty "I-want-it-give-me-that-it's-the-best-thing-in-the-world-nowNowNOW-I-don't-want-that-are-you-kidding-me-quit-torturing-me-by-giving-that-to-me!"  (This morning we went through it with a banana.)

But there is so much more to him than that.  He's so affectionate and cuddly–J and I often wonder how we ended up with the cuddliest kids in the world.  He blows kisses every time he says "Bye bye" and charms simply everyone with his beautiful smile and long, curly eyelashes.

He loves to play, though he's still in the parallel-play stage and it's hard to play with him because he hasn't quite figured it out yet.  He loves puzzles and has gotten quite good at them.  Trucks and cars and trains are still his very favorite toys, and he LOVES the ball pit that my parents got him for his birthday.

K is walking and dancing but not yet running or jumping.  He's also starting to talk but is still quite delayed.  We've had 6 months of speech and physical therapy and are continuing them on the recommendations of both of his therapists.  Regardless, he's such an energetic kid!  He loves to be on the go and has come to regard both his carseat and booster chair at the table as torture devices akin to the iron maiden.  The booster is a little better because at least there's food associated with that one–but he usually takes the food in one hand and tries to get out of his chair! 

He's really funny.  This morning, he was dancing around with tiny steps and chanting "Nana!  Nana!  Nana!" while I peeled a banana for him.  (This was, of course, prior to the "bananas are the enemy" part of the show.)  Last night he would come into the kitchen, look at me until I looked back, and then raced away with giggles spilling over as I chased him around the house.  When he was tired of that, he stopped until I caught up, gave him hugs and kisses, and went back to what I was doing.  Then he would come back in and start it over again.

There is so much more to write that I hardly know where to start.  He loves to hear stories and to "read" on his own, and his attention span has increased quite a bit.  It's funny that the thing that makes him most content and allows him to fall asleep most easily is when he brings his Elmo book into bed and looks at it for a few minutes.  (Sometimes Goodnight Moon.)  He wants to hear stories and heaven forbid that I forget to sing him a song, but he still wants a book in his crib.

In adoption, there's often talk about preserving the birth order of the adoptive family but there's almost never talk about preserving the birth order of the adopted child.  Both P and K are oldest children in their biological families, and P continues to be the oldest child in our family.  K, although a younger child in our family, displays a LOT of characteristics that are often attributed to oldest children.  According to this site, first-born children are energetic, logical, ambitious, enterprising, and scholarly–and (except for enterprising, which I suppose we'll have to find out in the future), that's both P and K.  Middle children, which is what K will ultimately be, are supposed to be flexible, diplomatic, rebellious, attention seeking, competitive, and peacemakers.  I would certainly not characterize K as flexible or diplomatic or a peacemaker.  He is attention-seeking and competitive, as younger children must be.  It's really interesting to see how both of my children display the same traits.

I could go on about him for hours.  Seriously.  He is so precious.  And now he's two.

Happy birthday, my baby.

(Picture popped!)

November 14, 2008

K is turning 2!

Posted in Adventures o' K at 6:53 am by Erin

His birthday isn't until next week, so I'll blog more about him then.  What I can't figure out is how in the world I'm hosting a birthday party for a 2 year old that has 32 people coming to it, 16 of them kids.  And that's with 7 families who can't make it.  Can you tell that I was a little excited to celebrate his birthday when I invited people?

2 years old.  16 kids.  None over age 5. Half of them K's age or less.

Maybe I should have gone on Prozac instead of Metformin.

July 29, 2008

First

Posted in Adventures o' K at 12:56 pm by Erin

J and I recently made the conscious decision to stop calling K’s firstmom his “birthmom”.  J didn’t like the term in general, due to the negative connotation that it tends to have here in the U.S.; I also felt like it doesn’t accurately reflect her role in his life.  I’ll call K’s firstmom T.  T did not just give her child life, an amazing gift in and of itself, but birthmom felt like a term that would relegate her role to that level.  She is a woman who raised her son for almost a year, most of that as a single parent after K’s firstdad passed away.  She is a woman who was very obviously grieving very hard when we met her–grief transcends language.  She is a woman who made an incredibly hard decision for her little boy, one she will have to live with for the rest of her life, in a culture that absolutely loves children.  “Birthmom” didn’t seem like it could even come close to demonstrating her role in his life.



Recently, I was reading a blog (not one of my usual ones) written by an adoptive mom about her child.  She was going on about how much she felt she had missed, how sad she was that her child was not with her for several months before bringing the child home.  It was obviously written with love and desire to have spent more time with her child.  And it made me wonder if most adoptive parents feel that way.



I don’t feel that way.  I don’t wish that I’d had K since he was born.  I’m sad that he spent 4 months in the care center, though it was inevitable, but I don’t remotely feel sad that I missed his first year.  And the major reason I don’t feel particularly sad about it is that he spent that time with T, part of it also with his firstdad, and the rest of it with T’s large family. 



I wonder about that year–what was it like when he was born, when did he first smile, what did he do all day while T was making bread from enset (false banana).  I wish he hadn’t spent much of that time hungry.  I wish that he hadn’t spent some of that time with untreated ear infections that left scars on his eardrums and affected his hearing.  But I cannot wish that he hadn’t had that time with his first family, and they with him.  I can’t do that. 



It would probably be different it he’d been abandoned, because he wouldn’t have had that one-on-one love of his family.  I would probably regret not having been able to bring him home sooner in that case.  But that’s not the case for K.  The whole time we waited for a referral, I prayed that my son was with his first family for as long as possible.  We got K’s referral only 2 weeks after he was brought to the orphanage in Hosanna.



While we were at my sister’s wedding, I referred to T as K’s firstmom.  Some people asked for clarification, “Do you mean his biological mother?”, to which I would say that T is K’s mother.  She remains his mother, no matter what the governments in question say about relinquishment meaning that there can be “no ongoing interest in the child.”  You can’t tell me that T doesn’t think about K every day, that a piece of her heart isn’t walking around with the son that we share, 8000 miles away.



Being K’s second mother or adoptive mother doesn’t make me any less his mother.  It just makes me different from his firstmom.  But we both love him and always will.

July 21, 2008

Sometimes the world knows just what you need

Posted in Adventures o' K at 6:48 am by Erin

After an admittedly melancholy night last night upon seeing M’s information posted, and talking to J about what could have been (but really still can’t–our reasons for not being prepared to parent a child with CP hold true even more now that K is home), I needed a little joy.



I got it this morning directly from K.  P is still sleeping and, for the last 30+ minutes, K has been sitting on my lap cuddling me.  He’s not sleeping, just cuddling and letting me hold him.  Every once in a while, he takes his head off my shoulder and gives me a grin, then goes back to cuddling up close, letting me hold him and feel his soft hair against my cheek.



My precious boy, who never likes to sit still, knew that I needed him this morning.  The quiet, happiness of cuddling the amazing child who has come into my heart and family.  I read somewhere that the heart has to break a little to make more room, and so it does.  My heart is full of love for this wonderful child, who grows more special to us every single day. 



I needed this today.

April 8, 2008

Another first for K

Posted in Adventures o' K at 10:26 am by Erin

One that we would have been perfectly happy to skip.

Hospitalization.*

On Sunday morning, K woke up around 2:30 a.m. needing a change. J changed him and was sitting with him to help him fall asleep again. I went in because J hadn’t gotten much sleep yet and I figured that I would let him go back to bed. I realized that K was wheezing a bit and sounded congested, and thought that I’d take him downstairs to sit upright for a while.

The wheezing and congestion got worse pretty quickly and by 2:50 a.m., I’d put in a call to our pediatrician’s office, which places calls through the local hospital’s nurses line. They called back at about 3:10–if they’d taken another 5 minutes, I would have already been getting into the car. The nurse asked a bunch of questions, listened to K breathing over the phone, and asked us to bring him in to the ER. I got dressed and brought him to the children’s hospital ER (J stayed home with P).

We were taken back within 20 minutes and they gave him a breathing treatment soon thereafter. His breathing got quite a bit better but not entirely, so then there were some oral steroids. And then another breathing treatment. And then a chest X-ray.

He was still wheezing a bit and wasn’t maintaining his oxygen levels above 90% by this point, so they decided to get him on oxygen and admit him. Let me tell you, trying to get a nasal cannula onto a 16 month old and keep it on him is challenging at the best, impossible at the worst! But it brought his oxygen levels right up, thankfully.

We were into a room at around 8 a.m. He stayed on the oxygen and got breathing treatments when he started wheezing, about every 2-3 hours at first, then every 3-4 hours. He was off oxygen and getting treatments every 4 hours by evening; they would have let us go home that night but for our insurance company. They decided that they wouldn’t pay for a home nebulizer until Monday. If we left the hospital Sunday, we would have to go home without it and the doctors there weren’t comfortable with us doing that.

The insurance company’s decision to pay for an extra night in the hospital rather than paying for the nebulizer that day (even though they paid for it yesterday) makes no sense to me. None. But as it turns out, he got a bit worse again that night and we were doing treatments every 2-3 hours and back on oxygen again for the first half of the night.

By late morning, he was off oxygen and maintaining his levels, only getting treatments every 4 hours again, and they said he sounded great and we could go. It was 6 p.m. before I left the hospital, with both K and P in tow–along with a nebulizer, spacer, our bags, and several prescriptions (don’t ask how I made it out to the car). What took so long, I have no idea, but we were very glad to finally get home. I have no idea what P was doing in the backseat as we drove but it had K just giggling away–such a sweet sound after a couple of scary days!

We’re doing nebulizer treatments every 4 hours right now, and he’s still on oral steroids. They’re not calling it asthma just yet, as it was only the one episode. For now it’s just reactive airway disorder with associated hypoxia. If it keeps happening, it’ll be re-classified asthma.

He has absolutely no history of any breathing difficulties, and the doctors at the hospital did annoy me a bit about that. I said that we have a pretty complete medical history on him (as much as could possibly be expected) and there’s nothing in there about any breathing trouble, nor has he had any trouble in the month that we’ve had him home. I kept getting the impression that they thought that we’d been lied to about his history. I’m sure we weren’t–I have asthma and it’s certainly not something that would have kept us from adopting a child–but the way they kept phrasing things gave me the impression that they didn’t believe it.

Anyway, he’s home now and doing OK.  It was quite scary and exhausting for all of us.  J brought P to the hospital on Sunday morning and, as they were walking in, P said "I miss my K."  It was a little frightening for him to see his little brother with a tube in his nose, wires on his chest, and another wire on his toe.  But we’re prepared in case it happens again and, if we’re lucky, it won’t.**

**********************************************************************

*This is exactly a cut-and-paste from my family blog, so if you’ve already read it there, there’s nothing really new except the last paragraph here.

**I apologize for not writing recently.  I’ve been maintaining a "people before things" attitude.  I used to get quite a lot of work done while P was in school when I didn’t have classes, but now I’m with K during that time.  That means that the work (lectures, grading, etc) has to get done after the kids go to bed and blogging***, which used to be done during that time, doesn’t get done nearly as often. 

***Case in point, my Bloglines says something like 335 new messages.  I’m scared of it.