Adoptation

February 6, 2010

Rookie Season

Filed under: Adoption, Newborn, NICU, Parentood — adoptation @ 3:22 pm

On the whole, my wife and I seem to be handling the mechanics of caring for a newborn fairly well. The coaching we got in the NICU in regards to diaper changing, bottle feeding, temperature taking, spitup clearing, infant swaddling, etc., appear to have done the trick, and our son doesn’t seem to be any worse off for having a pair of rank amateurs in charge of his well-being.

That said, we’ve made our first official rookie mistake. Because our baby is a preemie, keeping his temperature up is even more important than usual. He’s to be in at least one (often two) layers of clothes, and swaddled in one (sometime two) blankets, plus a hat and 70-something room temps. Not hard to remember, even easier to do.

But yesterday we noticed that he was sweating. A bunch. His clothes were sweaty, and the first layer of swaddling blanket. But his temperature was steady, and he wasn’t behaving any differently. We put on a different set of clothes; no change. We gave him new blankets; no change. We gave him a sponge bath; no change. We looked at him and pleaded with him to tell us what was up; no dice.

Then my wife started looking at the labels of his clothes and blankets. His rookie parents, it seems, had him wearing a polyester onesie and were using a polyester blanket as the second swaddling layer. Which means he was wrapped in three layers, with the outer- and innermost ones made of a less-than-breathable material…it’s a wonder he wasn’t swimming in sweat!

Feeling kind of stupid and very sorry, we put him into all cottons, wrapped him accordingly…and the sweating magically (ahem) disappeared.

It was our first mistake—no doubt the first of many, many errors—and I’m just glad it was such a low-impact and easily reversible one. Whoops!

January 31, 2010

Parenthood-ish

Filed under: Adoption, Newborn, NICU, Paperwork, Preparation — adoptation @ 8:25 pm

Today our son was moved from Intensive Care to Intermediate Care…which was a total surprise and thoroughly awesome to hear. We’ve even started doing some parenthood-ish stuff, getting to change and/or feed him (under supervision, of course) once or twice a day.

It’s kind of a nice transition: my wife and I get to sleep 10 hours a night, go out to dinner, watch movies uninterrupted, etc., all while also getting to stare at the baby, comment about how superior he is to every other baby ever, and not have to worry about his initial care. He’s in excellent hands, which are only occasionally ours.

But all of that will be coming to an end. The NICU staff told us he is improving rapidly enough that he may have less than a week left before being given a clean bill of health. We have to see how the final rounds of adoption paperwork are going (specifically, the part that allows us to take the baby across state lines), but it seems that in relatively short order he’ll either be bunking with us in our hotel room or heading to the airport to fly to his new home. And then the parenthood-ishness will be over and the real parenthood will be in full flight.

January 30, 2010

Signed, Sealed, (almost) Delivered

Filed under: Adoption, Birth Father, Birth mother, NICU, Paperwork — adoptation @ 2:48 pm

Just before dinner yesterday, we got a call from the adoption agency: the birth mother had signed her papers, and the baby was now formally and irrevocably ours.

(Well, technically he’s now a ward of the agency…they don’t formally transfer him to our custody until he’s released from the hospital. Since he’s still in the NICU, that’s still down the road, but that’s more of a technicality than anything.)

Needless to say, my wife and I were pretty thrilled—we finally, really have a newborn baby who is ours and part of our family. But we also had to acknowledge how that same moment must have been for the birth mom. She is obviously one seriously tough cookie; we’re glad our son came via this awesome woman.

Now our only real job is monitoring the kid’s progress in the NICU. We’ve been going twice a day for 4 days now…and the amazing this is how different each visit is. Yesterday he was in an incubator and under jaundice lights for one visit, and the other included the birth father among the visitors; today he was out of the incubator, in a bassinet, wearing a hat & onesie, and experimenting with bottle feeding (plus we had the birth mom’s mother with us, who wanted to visit the baby one more time). Who knows what surprises tonight’s & tomorrow’s visits will bring?

January 29, 2010

Meet and Greet

Filed under: Adoption, Birth Father, Birth mother, Newborn, NICU, Paperwork — adoptation @ 6:40 pm

Today was set to be a double meet and greet day, including lunch with the baby’s birth mom and a late-afternoon meetup with the biological father. We were looking forward to the 1st meet for sure (we continue to really dig the birth mom), and were a little disappointed when it got postponed; she’s not feeling 100%, which is totally understandable given the events of the last few days.

But the 2nd event was also pretty intriguing—we’d never communicated with the bio-dad in any way, shape or form. In fact, we knew the baby much better, and were curious to see if the other half of the equation was tall or short, what color hair he had, what sort of personality, etc. The picture had filled in a lot in the last month, but this was a whole ‘nother set of dots to connect.

My wife and I were both a bit nervous about meeting him…but it turned out we needn’t have worried. He was clearly much more nervous to meet us, to the point of being nearly overwhelmed, and he was also a total mensch about everything. Tall and good-looking (and without a doubt the source of the baby’s thick head of reddish/blondish hair), the bio-dad was soft-spoken, polite, sweet as can be, and holding on tight through the whirlwind experience of meeting us and visiting the baby in the NICU.

I basically just kept talking to him, asking a few quick questions, giving information about what was going on, and doing my best to paint a picture of this all as a pretty big deal—hoping to help confirm for him that he’d made the right decision (he’d already signed his papers waiving parental rights before this, so it was to comfort, not persuade). He was very emotional when seeing the baby in the NICU, and kept expressing how thankful he was that we were taking this baby and giving him a good life; he seemed almost surprised to learn that we were thankful in his direction, too. As I said to him in the NICU, “We couldn’t be doing this without you.”

Our plan was to ask to take his picture so we’d have it to show our son later on, but it was clear that whipping out the camera would have been an extra pressure that might have pushed him over the edge. So instead we just assured him that as the baby grew up and learned about the adoption dynamic, we’d tell him that we’d met his bio-dad, that he was a good guy, and that he’d done a good thing to ensure the baby had a good life. Then we shook his hand, watched him walk out of the NICU, and went back to spending some more time with our son—a cool little guy who comes from good stock.

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