Saturday, July 31, 2010

Shooting on Manual

Alternately titled- Who says children in large families don't get enough attention?

After reading this post on Mckmama's blog, I've been experimenting with using the manual setting on my camera. I don't have DSLR but I do have a camera that has some options. The first pictures I took using the manual setting were Tali's five month photos and I love how they turned out. It's been hit or miss using it at other times. Like this shot below. It's a perfect example of using the manual setting. Christiana's face is totally in focus and very crisp while the other two girls aren't. However, it probably wasn't the best setting for this picture since I would have liked to have all the girls in focus.
Are you dying to know how I got all three to look at me? I had a tinker toy stick in my mouth that I had spit out a couple of times before the other photos. They were waiting for me to do it again.
I've been trying to get a picture of these three around the walker for some time now. As soon as I put Tali in the walker, both girls flock to her, fill up her tray with toys and play with her. They flock to her when I lay her on the floor, too, but this is safer for her. Sometimes she gets a little too much attention.
The girls are in their party dresses because we went to a first birthday party for a bloggy friend who lives near us. It went really well. Everybody was well-haved and there were plenty of extra hands for baby holding. It almost feels like we are beginning to have a social life again. Fun!

Friday, July 30, 2010


Amanda decided it was time for Christiana to upgrade to a sippy cup. She was often giving Christiana sips of her water so I decided to give them each a cup and use the cute name bands that Amanda's foster grandma made for the girls.
Amanda knows which one is hers and likes to have me read the letters with her. However, it doesn't stop the cup sharing because Amanda thinks it's fun to drink out of Christiana's cup, too.
I don't plan to offcially transition Christiana to a cup and get rid of the bottles anytime soon. I want to continue that time when Christiana slows down to cuddle while drinking her milk. So, the cup will just be filled with water for extra little drinks during the day. Mostly, it's just entertainment right now and a floor-washing precursor.

After a couple of challenging outings this week- the mall, Wal-Mart and the chiropractor- I realized it was time to upgrade to The Bus. That's our double stroller that feels like I'm driving a bus. We use it all the time while we are walking in the neighborhood but the only time it's been in the van was when I bought and took it home. I didn't even lift it then so I had know idea how it was going to work for us. It is pretty heavy and it definitely takes more time to set up than that the stroller frame, but it was manageable.

Talitha enjoyed the new ride but for Christiana it meant she wasn't on my back. She wasn't too happy about that.

Amanda upgraded to the big swings! She held on so well. Two people have helped her go on the big swings lately while I believed she was still to young. Apparently, she's not. Once the baby swings were free, she did ask to ride on them, too.

Christiana was much happier on the swings than in the stroller.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

It's a dangerous thing...

...going out your door.

Recently I posted about what it takes to get us all into the van, but there's even more to the dance of getting us out of the house. Preparing for a morning outing such as church, starts a about 6:30 am. That's when I need to nurse Tali in order for her to be on schedule to nurse again at 9:30 am shortly before we leave. She plays on the floor while I pump milk for Christiana. Next I need to wake up Christiana so that she can be fed and put back to bed in order to have a good nap before we leave. Of course, since Christiana is in Amanda's closet that means she gets up at this time, too.

I have prepared Christiana's breakfast and bottle before waking her up. Usually breakfast is warmed cubes of pureed kale, rice, and garbanzo beans often mixed with oatmeal and apple sauce. I also have my breakfast ready because I can eat while I'm feeding Christiana. I prefer to feed Christiana while she's sitting on my lap. That way I can hold her arms down to keep them out of the way and then feed her the bottle after she's done. Amanda often eats dry oats with sugar and raisins for breakfast. (This morning she wanted apples and oranges. She ate a whole apple and most of an orange.)

Amanda and Christiana play around a bit while I'm cleaning up and packing the diaper bag. I always pack a container of dry cereal, milk and food for Christiana. Then I dress Christiana in her church clothes and put her down for her morning nap. I have Amanda grab some books and come read in the bathroom while I take a shower unless Mike is up then she goes downstairs and watches cartoons with him. After my shower, I get Amanda dressed and do her hair.

1/2 hour before we need to leave, I wake Tali up to nurse her. If we are going to church and so I'm not driving, I will pump in the van. If we are going somewhere else, I will pump after nursing Tali while she plays on the floor or in her walker. Sometimes I get her dressed and buckle her right in her car seat at this point. The last thing I do before leaving is wake Christiana, change her diaper and then we head out the door. Often some one will feed her the bottle in the car.

Once we're at our destination, I use a combination of baby wearing and a stroller to manage the little ones. I bought one of those stroller frames that goes with our car seat. It was smaller and lighter weight than a regular stroller that can hold a car seat. It fits neatly behind the driver's seat below Tali's and Christiana's car seats. I snap Tali's car seat into the stroller frame and then climb up to reach back and unbuckle Amanda's car seat. Amanda can now get out and push the button to open the passenger side sliding door. I need to remember this and lock the door if we are some place where it's not safe for her to open the door.

Next I push Tali in the stroller around to the passenger side to get the diaper bag and Christiana. I usually put Christiana in a secure wrap on my back at this point. If we are at the park, Tali can stay in her car seat/stroller. If we are at the beach, I put Tali in a pouch in front and I can go out in the water with Amanda. Tali and Christiana both have sun hats and are almost completely covered or shaded in their wraps and pouch. In fact, one mom asked if they were twins because they were so completely covered. Tali often falls asleep in the pouch. At the beach, when Amanda starts getting chilly or when Christiana starts getting fussy or antsy, that's when we'll go dry off and I will feed Christiana her meal. The beach has two big pine trees for shade right next to the playground so Amanda will go play while I feed Christiana. I put Tali back in her car seat/stroller.

I can feed Christiana pretty quickly so I will do that first and then I can nurse Tali if that's what's needed. Christiana will just crawl around and play in the sand. I don't worry too much if she chews on pine cones, big rocks or sticks. If Tali's in the wrap then I can put Christiana in her car seat/stroller. I don't buckle the straps over her shoulders just over her thighs and between her legs. My wrap is definitely better than my pouch because it's more secure and I can do things with both hands.

We usually go to the beach around 4 pm after nap so when it's close to 6 pm we're ready to go and put Christiana to bed. Since I've fed her at the beach, I can just put her right in bed when we get home.

I'm typing all this out because a reader asked me for advice on managing little ones so close in age on outings. Sometimes I don't even know how I do it. I just go with the flow, learn from my mistakes and alter my expectations. For example, if Amanda is whiny and doesn't want to play by herself at the park, I just let her sit by me while I feed the babies. I don't considered it a failed outing. She probably would have been crabby at home but at least I got a good workout (getting everybody loaded and unloaded) and we've kept busy for a couple of hours.

I don't expect to be out any longer than three hours and two is usually better. I don't expect everyone to be happy and quiet during the entire outing. At some point in time, some one will be crying while I'm busy taking care of somebody else. I don't expect to have meaningful adult interactions while we're out. The kids just need too much attention. I do expect to be exhausted and ready for bed before my day is done. That's when I remember my friends who run and have described how they feel during the last miles of a long run. I know I have the strength to make it to the finish line- the time of day when Amanda and Christiana are tucked in their beds for the night and it's just me and Tali nursing and reading blogs. Ah, sweet victory!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

This Face

This face was sure making us laugh last night when Amanda was playing her newest game with Daddy.

She would hold the tape measure, walk backwards to extend it, count down to three, and Mike would let it go.

Again and again and again. and every time she made this face. It still makes me laugh to see it now.

More Midnight Musing

There are certain types of summer thunderstorms that take me back. I was sixteen and staying with my dad in Illinios for a month. Several of his brothers and sisters also lived in the same area so a group of us went to go see Jurassic Park. It was my first time in a surround sound theater.

That movie terrified me! My cousin Charlotte and I clung to each other and screamed out loud. I still have nightmares from that movie and every once and a while when I hear distance thunder in the middle of the night, I feel that fear and panic and hopelessness that I did while watching that movie. It was so scary to me because it seemed like there was nothing the people could do to stop the dinosaurs. Their only hope was to escape the island. The people were so small and unequipped to deal with such power.

Years later, I learned of the passages starting in Job 40:15 where God directs Job's attention to very large, very powerful, very scary creatures that sound very much like dinosaurs. God used these creatures to remind Job that He was God and Job was very insignificant. I find the illustration very fitting especially when I remember the fear I felt during that movie. No matter how big and scary and out of control our lives feel, God is bigger.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Middle of the Night

Little Miss Tali-bear does not sleep through the night yet. Amanda was sleeping through the night by 2 months and Christiana was sleeping a good 12 hours at night by 3 months. I'm not sure why haven't been able to get this one to sleep through the night. Perhaps, it's because I haven't let her cry it out because I'm afraid she'll wake the other little ones. Or I can't run the humidifier to have the white noise. Or perhaps it's because I can get up and nurse her without completely waking up and realizing that I've gotten out of bed. With both the older girls, there came a night when the thought of getting out of bed and making up a bottle or filling the nurser was just too much and I ended up falling back asleep before getting up to do it. Apparently they really didn't need to get up either because they fell back asleep on their own.

But the truth is, I really don't mind too much. I really savor those quiet mid-night moments. I can just stare at her nursing, sleeping, stretching or cooing without anybody else demanding my attention. Her babyhood is passing so quickly and I want to hold onto for as long as possible.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Five Months

At five months, Talitha is rolling and wiggling all over the place. She is very interested in toys and any objects within her reach. Even while nursing she is grabbing and pulling at my shirt or the blankets. She is very interactive with her sisters and her face lights up when she sees them.

Talitha nurses every three to four hours and usually goes to bed for the night around 11 pm. She starts the day some where between 7 and 8 am. She takes about three naps, too. She goes to sleep better if she is swaddled which is challenging in this warm weather. She prefers to sleep on her side or back even though she could roll over if she wants to. She makes a lot of noise chattering, cooing and screeching. She has the sweetest little laugh when I nuzzle in her neck. She will interrupt nursing to look for her Daddy when she hears his voice.

She still spits up quite a bit but is growing and gaining weight just fine so it's mostly just a laundry issue. She is wearing mostly 6-9 month size clothing but her belly is beginning to hang out of some of the shirts.

The days and months are going by so quickly but I often find myself looking and my three little girls in awe. We waited so long to have little people at our feet again. They are such a miracle.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Glimpse...

... of the boy he used to be.

Tyler and Tony are at that tough age when they begin to doubt who they've been but they aren't sure who they are. When they get together with friends they tend to only want to watch movies or listen to music because that's safe. They can hang out with friends without revealing very much about themselves. I feel bad for them. It's so awkward and uncomfortable.

However, it's always fun to catch those little moments when their true self is revealed. Like the other night, when I spotted this tree frog on the front door. Tyler ran up, grabbed the frog and brought it downstairs to watch the movie with us. It kept jumping off his lap onto his friend. When I took pictures of it, it actually jumped right onto the camera and then on to my hand. Pretty soon he went to his room t0 find something to make a house for it.

Of course, it escaped by the end of the movie and wasn't found until Tony went to bed, but it was funny and brought back memories of the hours the boys have spent finding, feeding and caring for toads, frogs and other various creatures.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Keeping Busy

This place is scary and beautiful. It's part of a channel that was dug between two lakes. However, one of the lakes was infected with an exotic species and so they blocked it off so boats no longer use it.

This makes me queasy when I think about that if they fell into the water below it would extremely bad. It's only two or three feet deep and filled with rocks. I'm sure the danger is part of it's appeal to them.

There's a nice little area to access the water in a safer spot.

The boys love to fish here even though I don't think I've ever seen them catch anything. There is a giant bass that always seems to be lurking around right near this spot. I think they caught it once but since nobody wants to clean fish, they always put them back.

Of course, Amanda wanted to crawl onto the ledge with the boys. Sorry, babe, not happening.
When ever I bring my camera out on our adventures, I can't resist taking a picture of Tali's smiling face. But when I'm taking pictures, I usually have Christiana on my back and Tali in her carseat/stroller. So, for every outing we have a picture of Tali beaming from her carseat.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

One Year Ago...Part Five

There are just a few more little stories I want to add before I wrap up Christiana's adoption story.

Tuesday: We were expected to take Christiana to a doctor's appointment when she was one week old to get clearance before flying home. On Monday, I called our insurance to find providers in our network. Then I Googled to find the closest clinics and started calling to find some who could fit us in. Apparently, I started too early because at one clinic, the doctor actually answered the phone and explained that her staff wasn't there yet. She told to call my insurance and have them call her office to verify our eligibility. I thought that sounded ridiculous and decided to call another clinic. Later that morning, still hadn't found an appointment so I tried that clinic again. This time I reached her receptionist and she just scheduled an appointment for me on Tuesday afternoon.

Then we sat down to figure out how to get to the appointment. We considered renting a car for the day, asking the neighbor with the pro-life sticker on her car or calling a cab. We decided to call a cab. Dave was a little concerned because his experience with cabs coming in a timely manner was not satisfactory. So, I planned to start calling at 2 pm to have them come by 2:30 pm and her appointment was at 3 pm. After calling several companies, one of them gave me a number of a guy who was in the area and asked him to come an get me around 2:30 pm. Then I got ready to go and watched by the door. When an unmarked luxury sedan drove pulled up to the the house, it was surely not the kind of cab I had expected. This was the first time I had ever been in a cab and had only seen them on T.V.

Terry was a very nice man dressed in a suit. He was very friendly and talkative and found the clinic easily. When I told him that I would need a ride back home, he handed my his card with his number. "Executive Car Service" is what it read. I panicked a little, "So, how much is this trip going to cost me?" I was happy to learn the price was similar to the other cab companies. Since I needed a ride back home, he said that he would stay in town and wait for me.

I entered a very hot and completely empty waiting room. There wasn't anyone in sight, not even a receptionist. It was very strange to me. A man, woman and three kids came in. They were African American. The woman kept commenting about how Christiana had a nice tan. I just said, "Yes, she does." When I told her she was six days old she said, "Oh, so you just had her!" That's when I disclosed that she was adopted. She asked a few more questions and when she heard that the birth mom never held the baby she said, "She just wasn't strong enough yet." I thought that was good insight. I hope one day she is strong enough and wants to see her.

The receptionist finally came and gave me some paperwork to fill out. I let the woman hold Christiana. I asked her about her daughter's hair. Christiana's was so fine and smooth. She said that would change as she got older. One of the kids got sick because he was having a migraine. Incidentally, not the kid who was supposed to see that doctor. Shortly after that the receptionist came and got me. She brought me to another, much cooler, waiting room. She said that they didn't want a six day old baby waiting in the main waiting. Hmmm. A little late for that. I had already been there about 45 min. There was a T.V. in that room and a movie playing. I couldn't hear it but thought to myself, "I really hope I'm not here long enough get into watching this movie."

The doctor was really nice. She was also African American and answered the questions I had about Christiana's skin. It was peeling off all over and I wondered about how to recognize diaper rash since it would be hard to tell if it was red. She said it would have raised bumps if it was irritated, the peeling was normal and that as a teenager, Christiana may want to have the birth mark on the back of her leg removed. Christiana was back up to her birth weight plus six ounces and the doctor did not seem surprised to learn that she was on donated breast milk. She didn't ask any more questions about it. (I actually thought that was weird. Most people have more questions or concerns with the idea.) She said that Christiana was healthy and cleared for travel and she wrote a note for us to present to the airline if needed.

I called Terry and he came to pick me up. In hind sight, I realized that I was the only white person in the clinic. The doctor was African American, the nurse was Hispanic, the receptionist was Indian, one patient family was Indian and the other was African American. I remember feeling sad for Christiana that she would not grow up in an area with so much diversity and thinking that it would be a great excuse to visit Florida more often.

One last notable thing about my visit was that I had to pay our deductible up front and in cash. That just really surprised me and left me with barely enough cash for the cab ride. He didn't charge me until after the ride home. Dave said that he later realized that the clinic was in a not-very-nice area of town and perhaps that's why they didn't take credit cards. I was struck by how odd it probably seemed for me to get dropped off and picked up in my swanky executive car. I hated to think I was reinforcing any stereo-types about rich white people but the reality is that we are very rich compared to most of the population of the world. I am thankful but yet I am uncomfortable about that since it is said that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

It's not what you think...

I had expected that on occasion people who see my children and me together might not automatically think, "Adoption" but rather that I've had multiple partners. I did not expect that I would make the mistake in the opposite direction.

At the beach today, there was a white man with a boy who looked Asian and a girl who looked Africa American. The kids looked like they were middle school age so I waited until they were out in the water before asking the man about them. We had been told that it is often hard on adopted kids to always be getting attention because they look so different from their parents.

So when they were out in the water I asked, "Are those your kids?"

"Yes," he answered some-what sheepishly.

"So, what's your story?" I asked trying to be polite and not bluntly ask if they were adopted and what adoptive father doesn't love sharing the story of how his kids came into his life?

"My story is that I've had lots of girlfriends and I've been obsessed with black women since I was thirteen," was his reply.

"So, they're not adopted?" I asked puzzled.

"Nope," and he walked off to be with his kids.

I had not idea how to respond. I was not prepared for that little bit of reality.

He came back over a little while later because he thought his daughter would like to see Christiana who was on my back. The kids were very nice and open. The girl asked about our girls' adoptions and how long we have had them. The boy shared how he had older siblings with kids and that he was an uncle four times over. Just a reminder to me that families are built all kinds of ways and sometimes it just better to follow the old rule, "Don't talk to strangers." :)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid.

She's got a squirt gun and she knows how to use it.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

One Year Ago...Part Four

On Saturday, I made a trip to the grocery store and then Mike and Dave went to the airport to return the rental car. They were not very flexible about letting us keep the car additional days like the company we used in TX. We could use Dave's car if we needed to run to the store without the girls, but it was only a two-seater so we needed another plan for when it was time to leave. I also needed to get to a doctor's appointment before we could travel with Christiana. We would figure that out later.

The big excitement on Saturday was the huge Fight Night party that Dave had planned. It was planned long before he knew we would be there and we certainly didn't expect him to cancel on account of us. Now Dave's house is very unique in it's design. Two of the four bedrooms have large openings that allow light and noise into those bedrooms from the lower level. We moved Amanda's bed into the only upstairs room that was completely enclosed. It was Dave's computer room and I think the hum of the machines helped keep her asleep. The party was due to start at 9 pm so after having dinner with Dave's girlfriend and another friend, I headed off the try to sleep in Dave's room which was on the main level.

Shortly after people started to arrive they cranked up the Rock Band video game. It's like karaoke with instruments. It was so loud! I had ear plugs and a pillow over my head and it was still unbearable. It was disturbing Christiana and she was fussing on and off too. After an hour or two, it was time to feed Christiana again so I came out to nurse her. It's funny how it seemed less loud when I was out visiting with people instead of trying to sleep. Almost everybody was in one living room so I sat down in the other one. Pretty soon people ventured over to visit and see the baby. It was so funny to see the looks on their faces when they heard that she was three days old. I'm sure they were thinking, "You just had a baby three days ago and you brought her to a Fight Night party?!" Of course, I explained the story and got to share about adoption and adoptive nursing.

The good news was that the party only lasted until about midnight. Once the fight ended everyone went home and it was quiet again. I was so thankful to have survived the event. It's hard for me to remember now, but I was feeling so awful and coping hour by hour with the overwhelming nausea. I was so thankful for my fast acting Zofran, and my Unisom and Vitamin B6. I alternated taking them along with frequent protein-packed snacking.

Things get pretty boring at this point in the story. We were just hanging out waiting. Mike took care of Amanda's needs for the most part. I would try to take her out for a walk about once a day. It was so miserably hot but we had a pretty nice shady walk through the neighborhood. We saw so many lizards. They would scurry across the side walk, rustle in the bushes and shimmy up trees. I remember taking dried fruit to snack eat while I walked to manage the nausea. Sometimes Christiana would be tucked in the pouch and sometimes she would stay home with Mike. Mike had no desire to get out into the Florida heat and humidity. He preferred to stay inside the nice air-conditioned house in front of the jumbo-sized T.V. and kept in touch with his work on his lap top.

On the Tuesday that we were there, we had a bit of an adventure but I'll have to write about that another day.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Big B, Little b...What begins with B?

Babies, books, beads, bikes...
Baseball and a bear!

Well, okay, Big Louie is a dog but he sure looks like a bear.

One Year Ago...Part Three

As was my custom during my pregnancy, I woke about midnight to have a snack and take another dose of nausea medication. I was happy to discover that the mini fridge didn't have an interior light so I could get my food without waking Mike or Amanda. I sat on towels in the bathroom eating my snack and thought about the dream I had been having before waking. I was living in a house with both the hospital social worker and our adoption worker. I was having a terrible time making toast and was worried what these ladies would think about my domestic skills. Obviously, I was worried that everyone thought I was a bad mom for not being at the hospital with my baby even though she wasn't technically our baby yet. I pushed those thoughts out of my head and went back to sleep.

I got up again at 6 am and went and had breakfast in the breakfast room. I brought some food back for Mike and Amanda and laid down for a while until they woke up. I want to get to the hospital as soon as possible and thought Mike could just drop me off and come back and hang out until check out time. He thought it was better to just pack everything up and leave together. We got to the hospital in the middle of Christiana's 9 am feeding. The nurse let me take over and I spent a couple of hours holding and caring for her. I was there when her doctor came and did his discharge exam. Before he was introduced to me, he asked the nurses if "BUFA Baby" was going home and if the adoptive parents had been to the hospital. He seemed genuinely happy to see that I was there and that she was going home. Then he told me that he had been adopted from that very hospital. I also took that time to write and note to her birth mom.

Around 11 am, I met up with Mike. He was having "fun" keeping Amanda entertained in the hospital. I had some lunch and we called the milk mama I had found through Milk Share. She lives about 45 min. north of Tampa so we got directions and drove up to meet her. At this point we came to realize what a blessing it was to have made it to the hospital on the first try. Getting out of Tampa, going the right direction on the right freeway would prove difficult the next two times we tried. Amanda took a nap and we got enough milk to supply us for the time we were in Florida. We ended up with only a small cooler of extra milk that we needed to bring home with us.

We got back to the hospital around 1:30 pm. Our adoption worker planned to meet us there around 2 pm to sign all the paperwork. I took lots of pictures, got Christiana dressed in her going home outfit and packed up all her things. We signed all of the papers in the family waiting room. Mike had spent some time there with Amanda but it was the first time I had been in the room. Our agency worker gave us a neat book about adoption, (a story about a chipmunk adopted by a family of squirrels) and a little Onsie that said, "Worth the wait." We gave her the card and gift for the birth mom. She told us that when we left the hospital the previous day she was just finally getting the birth mom loaded up to go home. She wanted to try to connect us just one last time but we didn't notice her and the birth mom still thought she didn't want to me us. After the paperwork was completed, Mike and Amanda went to pull the car up to the front and Annnsley and I went to check Christiana out of the nursery. A nurse wheeled Christiana down to the entrance in her bassinet. Of course, everyone along the way would peek in and coo over the cute little baby. Annsley took pictures of us all together in the car before we left. Amanda was still asking to hold the baby. She would have to wait a few more hours.

Like I mentioned before, getting back on the right freeway to get back to Orlando proved tricky. After a little back tracking, we were on our way. It had only taken us 2 hours to get to Tampa from the airport but that was during the middle of the day on Thursday. We did not account for the Friday night rush hour outside of Disney World. We were going to be staying with Mike's friend Dave and he tried to get us off the downtown freeway and onto the bypass freeway that would take us to his suburb. We got pretty lost but just kept heading in the general direction hoping we'd eventually find a road that we recognized on the map. Since it had been taking so long, Christiana woke up hungry. Thankfully, her milk mama had sent a small bottle of fresh milk so I could feed her that. We did finally end up pulling over and some one helped us find the best route to the correct highway.

We've visited Dave a couple of times in Florida so it was such a relief when we started to recognize our surroundings. We got to Dave's and unpacked the car. He needed to leave to go to a work function, so after he showed Mike how to use the remotes he left us to make ourselves at home. Dave had borrowed some toddler items from a friend including a pack-n-play for Amanda to sleep in. I set that up while Mike fed her dinner and then we put her to bed. Before going to bed, she had a chance to finally hold her new baby sister. She was so happy about that. I went to bed shortly after her. Mike was in entertainment heaven. Dave's a bachelor who works in the video game industry so Mike was not bored when we all went to sleep.

At the next feeding, I decided to try nursing Christiana with the Lact-Aid. I wasn't sure if I would nurse her because of the pregnancy but I felt good enough to try it. She latched on and nursed right away. That is such an amazing experience. Nursing my adopted daughters for the first time made it feel like they were really mine. Even if they were just nursing for comfort, it is such an intimate and bonding moment. When Mike saw me nursing, he said, "I thought your weren't going to try to nurse her." I didn't know what to say. "Well, I am, I guess." I know he was just worried about me get overwhelmed because he loves me like that.

Then I settled into the pattern of eating while the baby ate and sleeping when she slept. It was nice to be done traveling for a while. It had been a long couple of days.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Is Love Colorblind?

With our first adoption we were open to a child of any race. With our second adoption we deliberately signed up in an agency assisted program for the adoption African American or bi-racial children after learning about the great need for families willing to adopt these children. Our agency had more birth mothers than families willing to adopt these children.

Before our first adoption, we went through a cross-cultural training. It was very disheartening. I began to feel like it was almost abusive for us to adopt a child of color considering where we live. We began to understand how difficult it was going to be for our child/ren. At this point we don't feel called to move to a more diverse area because we feel there is so much to offer to children to growing up in a woodsy small town, but we are learning to be sensitive to their needs. Now that we are getting out a bit more I am noticing the long stares that Christiana receives. Amanda doesn't attract quite as much attention because there are other brown-skinned people (Asian, Hispanic and Native American) in our area but very few black people (African American, Jamaican, African or Haitian).

My point is that we need to be educated, sensitive and open with our girls and not just brush our differences under the rug by saying that love is color-blind. We need to see color and embrace it.

One Year Ago...Part Two

We left our house around 3 am. Amanda fell back asleep shortly after we got in the van and I did my best to sleep on the drive, too. Around 5:30 am, we checked in with our airport taxi. It was a couple who live near the airport and had offered to drive us to the airport and park our van in their yard until we came back. They were also expecting a baby and she was a few days overdue. We were just going to take a taxi if the baby had decided to come on that day. But he didn't. So, he was able to drive us to the airport. We got through security not without a thorough inspection of the snack bag of, course and head to our gate. Amanda was on my back and they didn't ask me to unwrap her. We gave away Mike Coke that he didn't drink to one of the airport workers because we knew security would just throw it away.

We thought we had plenty of time so we leisurely rode the moving walkway. They tell you to always check your gate because it could change. It did and we didn't. We got all the way to the gate listed on our ticket only to find out it was the wrong one. We found out what was the right one and headed that way. I guess I wasn't going to have time for a smoothie. I was walking pretty fast and Mike says, "Don't worry we have plenty of time." Just then we heard the final boarding call for our flight and we started to RUN! They were so nice at the gate and thanked us for running. We climbed onto a plane full of very crabby looking people. In a short while we realized their sour disposition had nothing to do with us but the temperature of the plane. It was so HOT! Amanda was pretty good through most of the flight. She snacked, colored, watched videos on our camera, and snacked some more. In fact, by the time we were descending, she was so stuffed she wouldn't eat or drink anything else to help with the ear pressure. I had taken Tyler on a flight when he was her age and he had thrown up on the descent. So I'm glad that didn't happen.

It was close to 12 pm by the time we left the airport in Orlando and headed for Tampa. Amanda immediately fell asleep and we called Annsley and left a message on her phone. In Florida a mother can sign the relinquishment papers after 24 hours and they are immediately irrevocable. So, when Annsley called us back she told us the papers were signed and the baby was free for adoption. That was such a relief! Even though the birth mom didn't want to meet us, I couldn't help but think if she did, she might take one look at us and decide we weren't the right family for her baby. I'm glad that didn't happen either.

Finding our way around new places is always a challenge for us but Google maps didn't not let us down. We found our way easily on the first try. However, just blocks from the hospital, a black SUV ran a stop sign and was heading right for us. All I could do was gasp which was not so helpful to Mike. Thankfully he saw the car and swerved and braked. The other driver also slammed in his/her brakes and we avoided an accident by inches. We were a little concerned that we might have missed a stop sign or something but we went through that intersection several more times over the course of the next day and we didn't make the mistake. All I could think about was how we didn't get the extra insurance but at least we would have been near the hospital. Again, I'm glad that didn't happen.

We called Annsley from the parking garage to find out where we should go. It was a massive complex. She began to tell us that we would have to come back later because she was just about to leave the hospital to bring the birth mom home. My spirits began to fall. I was disappointed at the thought of having to wait but then she learned we were already in Tampa and at the hospital. She told us to meet her at the main entrance. Just then a nurse came walking by who was willing to lead us to the main entrance because that's where she was going. Yeah! She even gave us helpful information like, "Be very careful crossing the street on this corner because people will try to run you down." Good to know! As we neared the entrance it dawned I me that I had no idea what Annsley looked like so how would I know who to meet. Not a moment later she approached us. Of course, she had seen our profile and she recognized Amanda right away. She told us the birth mom still didn't think she wanted to meet us. She was afraid we would look down on her. Of course, we hold her in very high regard for the decision she had made on that day and gave no thought to the one she had made nine months previous.

Annsley got us cleared through security and we learned the term, "BUFA." When we came to the hospital we needed to give the name of the baby we were there to visit. When Annsley suggested "BUFA", I laughed. Why would we call her such a ridiculous name? Because that's what they normally do. It stands for "Baby Up For Adoption." Not the most politically correct or positive adoption language, but also not ours to argue. We also met the hospital social worker, Robin, who was our contact at the hospital if we needed anything. Most babies at the hospital room-in with their mothers. Only babies with "issues" where in the nursery. There were eight babies in the nursery on Thursday afternoon. She told us that the nurses were about to do reports but we would be able to go in and see the baby. It was about 3 pm and even though they told us we would need to leave by 3:30 pm, she encouraged us to stay until they asked us to leave. I'm glad she did that, because I'm a rule follower and when that clock hit 3:30 pm I would have left. Instead I got to stay a few extra minutes.

Amanda was not allowed inside the nursery but thankfully she stayed with Annsely so Mike and I could go in and meet Christiana together. Robin took pictures for us. There is nothing sweeter than those first moments meeting our new little baby. Then Mike went back out to be with Amanda. She kept looking through the window signing and saying, "Please, hold baby?" It was so sad. I remember feeling the same way only a few minutes before when we first peeked though the glass at her lying in a bassinet. Mike took Amanda for a walk and I was allowed to go sit in a tiny little nursing room with Christiana. She had just been fed so she was just sleeping peacefully. I took the opportunity to just relax and snuggle with her. It was so restful after our crazy day of travel that has started 12 hours before.

After they told me that I needed to leave. We decided that we would go find our hotel. Her next feeding was schedule for 5 pm so I planned to come back then since more than likely she would just be sleeping until then. We really had no idea how the hospital stay would go. We've heard of families being given a separate room and being able to stay with the baby at the hospital. But that was not the case. She had to stay in the nursery. I felt like such a bad mom for just leaving her and not taking every moment I could to be with her, but we needed to find a room and get some food.

Now, I am a planner. I would liked to have booked our room before we had left for Florida but I left that up to Mike. He did a search and had a general area of where he thought there were some good hotels. However, that map didn't make it into the stack we had, so we took off in the general direction of where he thought the hotel would be. It was a real test of trust for me as we began to get off the main thoroughfare and onto small residential streets. But alas, we found the strip and the first hotel he pulled into had rooms reasonably priced, right on the first floor and not very far from the entrance. Every step counts with a pregnant mama and slow walking toddler. The room was great and had a fridge and a microwave and the hotel was pretty close to some grocery stores. After we dropped off our stuff in the room, the reception printed off some maps with the location of the grocery store, so we head out to get some food and a Styrofoam cooler. It was a great grocery store with a fabulous produce section. It was also in a strip mall with a Smoothie King. I finally got that smoothie.

When got back to the hotel it was getting close to Christiana's feeding time. There was no way for me to get back to the hospital that didn't involve me driving in a strange city by myself late at night. We needed to get Amanda to bed and I really needed to rest, too. Both Mike and my cousin Elisa encouraged me to just stay at the hotel and get some rest. Elisa said, "Take one more night when you're not responsible for a newborn since you will be for the next 18 months." Good point. We called for Amanda's pack-n-play. She was so happy when she saw her bed arrive at the door. She couldn't wait until we set it up. She climbed right in and laid down. We took our cue from her and decided to all go to bed. It was 5 pm Minnesota time. That didn't matter. We went to bed.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Birthday Girl!

Turning one year old is certainly a good excuse to wear a beautiful dress. We should all have lovely dresses for our birthdays!

One Year

Happy Birthday Christiana!

One Year Ago...Part One

We were anxiously waiting for a call from our adoption agency telling us that the woman in Florida who wanted to place her baby in our home had gone into labor. Tyler was already staying up north with my mom. Tony was going to be staying with our good friends and traveling with them to their cabin in Canada. Amanda was coming with us. I had a bag packed for the baby, Amanda and I. Everyday, I would check to see what flights were available throughout the day. At this point, we still considered this a maybe-baby and we believed there was a chance we may not go to Florida or we may come back from Florida without a baby.

Around 8 am, we received a call from our birth parent specialist, Annsley. The expectant mom had been feeling labor pains since around 6 am and Annsley was in her car outside the mother's home waiting to take her to the hospital. She said that I should wait to book flights until they were sure she would be admitted.

I was getting ready to go to an accupuncture appointment to help with the morning sickness. After calling Mike and checking flights. I dropped Amanda off at the neighbor's house and went to the appointment. Everyone at the office was so excited for us. Around 10 am, I was back at the neighbors picking up Amanda and explaining how to use some cloth diapers that I had brought over for my neighbor to try. Annsley called to say tell me to book our flights because the expectant mom had been admitted. She told me how how amazing this woman was. She had labored quietly all the way to the hospital but at one point Annsley looked over at her and a tear was rolling down her cheek. She also told me about how she gave to receptionist the death stare when she condescendingly asked, "Are you sure you're in labor?" The mom was already was already dialated to 5 cm.

I finished explaining to diapers, gathered up Amanda and headed back home. I knew the next available flight was a 2 pm, but there was no way we could get packed up and make that flight. It takes about 3 1/2 hours just to get to the airport. On most of the other days, there had been a late evening flight, too, but not on this day which meant we'd be leaving early Thursday morning. Mike was coaching Tony's baseball team so Mike was thankful that he would be able to make it to the Wednesday night game. I booked the 7:20 am flight, had lunch and laid down to take a nap.

After naps, our adoption worker called to tell us that a 6 lb 7 oz baby girl had been born at 1:19 pm EST(We're CST). It was about two hours after the mom checked into the hospital. Everything had gone fine. It was a completely natural delivery, no drugs. The mom refused any medication even Tylenol at the hospital. She was so anxious to sign the papers and move on that she didn't want them to tell her was unfit to sign the papers because she had been on narcotics. I think that is so amazing. What a trooper!

I finished packing things for the trip and prepared for an early bedtime. Actually, throughout my pregnancy, I went to bed as soon as I put Amanda to bed. Sometimes I laid down as soon as Mike got home from work. I had to get up several times during the night to take medicine and have a snack, though. But on this night, I would have to wake up at 2 am in order to leave for the airport by 3 am. I was not as anxious and nervous about the travel and adoption as I had been with Amanda. Part of that was because we had Amanda and had more confidence in the adoption process and part of that was because I was pretty focused on managing the nausea and didn't have much time to worry about the other stuff. Plus the medicine I was taking made me very sleepy which was good thing.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Red, White and Blue Eyes

Happy Fourth of July!

A lady at church noticed that I had the girls dressed in red, white and blue. Except Tali. The only blue she had was her eyes.

After church, Mike took the boys in town to go the parade. We've lived here six years and this is the first time they've been to the Fourth of July parade. Traffic is usually so crazy that we just avoid town but the boys wanted to go to see some of their friends. Many times Mike and the boys have gone up north to celebrate with his family, too.

The girls and I took naps and then headed outside for a bit. Christiana is really getting stronger standing up. None of my kids have walked before they were a year, but do so by 13 months. I'm beginning to think it's because I don't think about working with them until the 12 month mark is looming and I start to feel the pressure to have them walking. Just in the past week, I have begun to have Christiana stand up and help her walk every chance I get and she's shown great improvement.

Amanda was anxious to raid the raspberry patches again. She and Mike went out yesterday and picked a bowl full of berries for me. Mike said that Amanda ate just as many as he picked. They picked from our patch as well as several other spots in the neighborhood. Our raspberry bushes are doing great despite the fact that the deer are the only ones who have ever pruned them