Adoptation

February 9, 2010

Scene Change

Filed under: Adoption, Newborn, Parentood, Preparation — adoptation @ 11:35 pm

On Monday morning, we were woken up around 9:30am not by a crying baby, but by a ringing phone.

“You’re cleared to go home. Congratulations!”

I was a little slow to comprehend, partly from lack of sleep but also because I’d assumed we were going to be staying put for quite awhile longer. Between my experience with other bureaucratic agencies and the snowstorm heading for the northeast, I’d mentally prepped for another week as guests in the southwest.

But no, we could go. I shook my wife awake, explained that there were no more steps—this was it—and we began planning our exit. Fifteen minutes later, we had a Monday evening flight booked. A little more than an hour after that, we were driving through some pretty tough rain, headed for the airport. And a few hours later…

…we were home. Really home. All three of us. As a family.

The flight had been mercifully empty, and arrived mercifully early. Our son hadn’t cried even a bit on takeoff or descent. The security people helped us through, and the airline folks even printed up a (free!) boarding pass just for our baby. Just a little more than half a day after the call that we were free to go, and we were in our house, with our baby.

I’d assumed that falling asleep that night would have been no more than my head meeting the pillow. But instead, I found myself overwhelmed with emotion. We’d been with our son for two weeks, but the scenes in which that took place—visiting the NICU in our sterile gowns, eating all of our meals in local restaurants and having the hotel staff clean up after us, placing the baby to sleep in an empty suitcase as we filled the hotel room with diapers and wipes and such—were too far off our accustomed center to feel real. But this night, in our bedroom, with our son sleeping in the crib just a couple of feet away, was very real. It was the real start of our real life as a real family of three, and I found myself so in love with my son and my wife and the new scene that had just opened up, that I was loathe to fall asleep and miss any of it.

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February 3, 2010

Hotel Hopping

Filed under: Adoption, Newborn, Paperwork, Preparation — adoptation @ 10:10 pm

Today, my wife and I visited our week-old son and continued our now-standard three visits. Tomorrow, we will visit once, to check him out of the hospital, sign the adoption papers, and take him with us.

It seems so simple…but it’s an enormously, terrifically big thing. While we have been acting as parents to the baby for the last week, he technically hasn’t been an official part of our family; and our total daily involvement with him could be measured in hours. Now, he’ll be our son on paper as well as in spirit, and we’ll be with him (and responsible for him!) 24/7.

[Gulp!]

I’m simultaneously excited and terrified. We’re not cleared to leave the state with the baby yet, so we’ll all be living in a hotel room for about a week. Which will be kind of nice (all of the cleaning & such will be taken care of for us, and we’ll have some uninterrupted time as a trio), but really I’m ready to bring the baby home. He’s got a room that’s his, family that wants to meet him, and a routine that we can all fall into. (Everyone here has been very nice and helpful…but there really is no place like home.)

First, though, we hop into the hotel, and dive headfirst into keeping him healthy, happy and safe. I’ll have to apologize to the hotel staff in advance for the condition of the towels once we start our short stint in residence!

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 27, 2010

Transition Time

Filed under: Adoption, Birth mother, Newborn, Preparation — adoptation @ 8:35 pm

Here’s a sentence I was beginning to think I’d never type: Today I held my newborn son in my arms.

After a whirlwind month that included an adoption-agency match with a way-cool birth mother, a quick ramp-up to a scheduled induction, an even quicker sprint to a premature delivery, and then a mad dash to the airport to get boots on the ground within 24 hours of the birth…my wife and I walked into the hospital and met our baby boy.

But that’s pretty much all we did. He’s a month or so premature, so they have him in the NICU all wired up and tended to. He’s very healthy, breathing on his own, crying full volume, and moving vigorously; but he also is staying with the NICU instead of with us, and we’re not feeding him, clothing him, or any other kind of parenting stuff other than visiting for short bursts of hang-out-and-stare time. Aside from that, he’s already got 24/7 babysitting services.

I guess this is our “pregnancy transition,” then. The nine months of gestation give new parents an opportunity to wrap their heads around this strange new business and prepare for the move from duo to trio. Now we get to have a physical reminder of our own that there will be a full-time baby in our lives soon…but not just yet.

January 26, 2010

Game On!

Filed under: Adoption, Preparation — adoptation @ 7:31 pm

Apparently, the baby doesn’t want to miss President Obama’s first State of the Union address…because despite his mid-March due date and a medical intervention to keep him in place, he is coming. Right now.

We got the call from the adoption agency late this afternoon—too late to make travel arrangements for tonight, but early enough to wrap up things at work and calmly (more or less) start to sort everything out. Now we’ve got a flight first thing in the morning and a distant NICU with our name on it. The hard-to-suppress terror feels a little bit akin to the challenges of the last several years, but this is also the 1st time we’ve known there’s a real, actual baby on the other side of the jittery fear.

So far, all we really know about this kid is that he’s got a mind of his own and won’t be told little things like when he should be born. Sounds like my kind of guy. We should be hearing sometime very, very soon that he’s officially been born…it’s “game on” time, and now the adventure really gets going.

January 25, 2010

Best Laid Plans

Filed under: Adoption, Birth mother, Infertility, Preparation — adoptation @ 9:49 pm

Something awesome happened on Friday: we had a conference call with the adoption-agency folks, and they laid out for us a well laid-out plan. The baby’s birth mom had elected for a scheduled induction, allowing us to plan the trip to her state, schedule a meet-up with her the day before, etc. It was about a month and a half out, and the endgame was sliding into place brilliantly. This was, in fact, pretty much the 1st thing in several years of our baby quest that was going smoothly and happily.

And like any of the best laid plans, it wasn’t in place for long.

On Saturday night, we got a call that the birth mom’s water had broken. Six weeks early.

She got to the hospital quickly, and the doctors gave her drugs to stop contractions. The baby is healthy and the right size & weight and all that…he’s just also early. The doctor wants him to cook for at least another week or two…but they’re also not going to medically stop him again. So for now he’s in place, resting comfortably in the womb. But the next time he decides he’s had enough of this womb thing, that he’s ready to meet everyone, he’s going to come out.

Really? Wow. So just in case the journey wasn’t complex enough, now we’re throwing a premature birth into the mix. The general thought is that he won’t be too premature; 5 or 6 weeks early is early, but not dangerously so. But it does complicate the hospital stay (some length of time in the NICU), the plan for the birth mom to have some time with him in her room, and then his ability to hop a plane to come back with us. Looks like we’re gonna be staying in the hotel longer than we thought.

It feels a little unfair—like being happy and relaxed for almost a month had been more than we were entitled to—but also exciting, because this thing is happening. Soon. We won’t be there for the birth anymore, and we’ll have more difficulties to deal with…but on the other hand, who better than an infertility-battle-hardened couple like us to deal with them? We’re tough, and we know how to deal with the best laid plans getting unplanned in an instant. The baby will be born, he’ll be healthy, and he’s clearly just as eager to join our family as we are eager to have him come aboard.

January 21, 2010

In the Mail

Filed under: Adoption, Infertility, Paperwork, Preparation — adoptation @ 7:54 pm

On the day my wife and I officially “went active” with the adoption agency, I joked with the guy on the phone, “So I guess now we just wait for our baby to show up in the mail?” There was an uncomfortable silence, followed by a short, nervous bit of laughter. I guess they don’t joke much about adoption over there.

But that’s not to say that nothing is coming in the mail. In addition to the constant flow of paperwork in and out of our mailbox, today a small carton of complimentary Similac formula showed up in the mail. We didn’t order it or sign up with anyone for it; it just arrived, no doubt courtesy of some mailing list we’re now on thanks to our Target baby registry or something like that.

I smiled when it arrived, but not because it was a free box of something we’re really going to need in a few weeks. Actually, this is the second free box of formula we’ve received. The first came more than three years ago. We had just started trying to conceive, assuming that the lack of success was just the normal couple of misses that come on the road to a direct hit. My wife and I both got a little chuckle out of the unsolicited breast-milk substitute, and she brought it into work for a colleague who had just had a baby.

We never heard from the free-formula people again, but I never entirely forgot about it. It was the first in a long, long line of many, many little (and big) reminders that society does not make allowances for infertility. You are expected to be able to reproduce; if you can’t, no one really wants to hear about it. There’s no such thing as a TV show’s infertility plotline that doesn’t resolve with a pregnancy—if the show reflected how long many people really have to wait, it would exceed people’s patience. Some of our friends, and many of our family members, expressed concern and support initially…but pretty quickly didn’t want to hear about it anymore. Their lives had too many positive plotlines and too much fun on offer to want to be dragged down with a story that has no foreseeable end point.

That makes our currently foreseeable end point all the more relieving. Our copy of Heading Home With Your Newborn showed up in the mail today, too, and I’m looking forward to more happy arrivals. The baby isn’t showing up in the mail, but all evidence still points to the baby showing up soon, and I’m ready for the happy plotlines that come along with that.

January 12, 2010

Opening the Closed Door

Filed under: Adoption, Birth mother, Infertility, Preparation — adoptation @ 8:38 pm

When my wife and I were stranded in some of the lowest depths of our infertility struggle, I used RESOLVE to find a local therapist who specialized in fertility issues. During one of our sessions, she used the term “The Closed-Door Room.” We both sat up bolt-straight when we heard it.

The therapist didn’t need to tell us what The Closed-Door Room was. We knew, because we had one.

It’s a room every infertile couple has, the one you’d started out calling The Nursery. But soon you stopped calling it that, then you stopped going into it, then tried not to look in when you walked by, and finally you closed the door and kept it closed.

We’d even had fights about it. TCDR had been one of the places that, during the move-in to our house (the one we’d bought for the baby we were sure was coming so, so soon…) we plopped a lot of boxes and stray furniture. Stuff that didn’t have a place and/or for which there was no hurry to put anywhere. Eventually, my wife wanted to clear out this moving day detritus from TCDR…but as much as it pained me to know that this was no longer The Nursery, I couldn’t quite cope with the idea of the room being completely and absolutely empty. Every few months she’d want to clean it up; every time, I’d get angry and despondent at the thought.

So the door stayed mainly closed for a couple of years. It’s near the top of the stairs, and there’s no getting around the fact that we both needed to walk by it several times a day. But we didn’t go in very often, and at least we didn’t have to look into this space that had not yet stopped—and after awhile felt like it may never stop—being TCDR.

Then we got The Call. And then we had contact with the baby’s birth mom. And then, fairly quickly, it started to seem real.

And then we opened the door.

My wife has almost finished painting the walls and touching up the trim. We’ve ordered some furniture, measured the spaces and laid out where the crib would go, where the changing table would be, how we would keep the diaper bin from being too terribly close to where the baby would sleep. We saw how it could be, and believed it. We even started calling it The Nursery again.

And even if, for some reason, this adoption is disrupted, this experience has made us both believe that it will happen for us, and sooner rather than later. I think we’ll be able to keep the door open, walk by it every day, look in, and feel good about our chances of closing it again with a baby asleep on the other side.

January 11, 2010

Baby Stuff

Filed under: Adoption, Birth mother, Infertility, Paperwork, Preparation — adoptation @ 9:01 pm

With only about 2 months to go until the baby’s birth mother is due, my wife and I are having to get serious about our preparations for the adoption. We’re now officially beyond paperwork (well, not entirely…there’s still plenty of paperwork to do!) and have to do stuff like pick out a car seat, get some baby clothes, and generally figure out how to start taking care of this baby the minute he’s put into our arms.

One thing I’m staunchly against doing is buying a lot of stuff. Not because I don’t think we’ll need or want stuff—I just know that family & friends are going to want to buy gifts and help out and such and, well, they’re certainly welcome to do so! So I’m getting a Target registry together for the baby.

But since, again, we really don’t know all that much about babies and their baby stuff, my wife thought it would be good to go to our local Target and explore the wide world of baby bedding, figure out what exactly “receiving blankets” looked like, and get a general feel for the baby-stuff scene.

And wow, did we ever have fun!

We had fun looking at stuff that we wanted our baby to have (cute, but not too cute, onesies). We had fun mocking the stuff we wanted no part of (Diaper Genie? No thanks). We had fun being horrified by some of the stuff (a gadget that lets you listen to, record, and e-mail pre-natal sounds). We had fun picking up some stuff we’d really need (car seats are not all alike). We had fun imagining this stuff in our house and the baby in our life.

But the biggest shock was realizing that we were having fun. Doing baby stuff.

That hadn’t really happened before; certainly not in a long, long time. Any baby stuff (ie, infertility stuff) we did tended to involve negative emotions that ranged from nervousness and tension to disappointment and crippling heartbreak. The rest of what we did, including for the adoption, was generally paperwork stuff. And imagining life with a baby was way, way too outside of what felt safe to think about or discuss; being in the baby aisle of Target would have just meant hours of my wife crying while I tried to comfort us both.

But there we were, showing each other funny bibs and talking about why some onesies had mittens. We were just enjoying ourselves amongst the baby stuff, and starting for the first time to get a genuine, real feeling of what it might be like to arrive at the place we’ve been trying to get to for so long.

January 7, 2010

Manual Override

Filed under: Adoption, Birth mother, Infertility, Preparation, Ultrasound — adoptation @ 8:17 pm

Things continue to be going smoothly with the baby’s birthmom, and my wife and I are finding we can actually turn our thoughts to something we’d never gotten to during the infertility years: being parents.

By which I mean that we’d gotten so stuck in the loop of trying (and failing, and failing…) to create a baby that we never got to talk too much about having a baby in our house and in our lives. At first I guess it seemed like tempting fate to speak aloud of such matters, and eventually it didn’t even make sense to be thinking those kinds of thoughts. We were totally about the baby making, not the baby raising.

Well, it may still be a fate-tempting risk, but this adoption feels real. We’ve even seen an ultrasound that clearly shows the baby—which again caught me by surprise, because I’d forgotten that ultrasounds could show something other than a dot-sized embryo or an empty void.

As I started really, actually thinking about having to care for a real, actual infant, it hit me: we don’t know all that much about it. Pregnant couples invariably get tips from friends, relatives and birthing classes; our friends and relatives knew to steer clear of “the topic” around us, and we certainly never got anywhere near a birthing class. Heck, we even stopped watching TV shows with baby-based storylines. So on a lot of the basics, we’re way behind.

Do babies come with an operator’s manual? Something tells me they don’t…so I just ordered one.

I picked Heading Home With Your Newborn: From Birth to Reality. The description sounds like it’s just what we need (basically, an overview of what you need to know for the first few months, with diagrams), plus the title really appealed to me; Heading Home seems like a good fit for the adoption process, since the first real thing we’ll be doing as parents is just that. Buying a book like this feels like a huge, immeasurable step…and confirms for me that this time, for the first time, I really believe that this is going to have a good ending.

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