Saturday, October 28, 2006

Movin' Out

Hey! I moved! It's a work in progress, but I've made the switch to Typepad. Come visit me at my new site (http://tshapedgirl.typepad.com/are_we_there_yet/). See you over there. T-shaped Girl

Friday, October 27, 2006

How About Some Good News?

Sometimes I feel a little nervous acknowledging the good times at the T household. I feel as if I'm tempting fate. I think I'm going to go ahead an tempt fate anyway, and share a little of our good news*. Apparently good things do come in threes: 1. MT received a well-deserved promotion at work. He is now in a new role and very, very busy. I think his new title is "muckity-muck." MT is very modest and would never admit it, but this is a nice big step up for him. And his job responsibilities changed, which is a welcome refresher for him. I'm really proud of him (despite feeling a little odd as "the woman behind the man. Oh well, he can bring home the bacon and I'll fry it up for him...) He seems to be excited about work again, and his energy is contagious. 2. MT was accepted into a top business school program. Again- yay MT! He's excited about going back to school, and I think this program is really going to energize him. And selfishly, they have a program in China...so perhaps a trip to China will be in order? With LT and I as stowaways? He's 95% sure that he's going to go ahead and enroll in the program, but we'll decide in the next couple of weeks. And last, but most definitely NOT least... 3. We received our I-171H in the mail yesterday. I was expecting my fingerprints to be rejected again, so it was a BIG surprise to receive the I-171H and not a rejection notice. I'm *really* trying not to get too excited about adoption #2, because I feel like it's so uncertain, and so far off, but I need to take a moment here to jump up and down with glee! I do want to adopt again, and I really want LT to be a big sister. Deep down, I want this to work out soooo much. Eh, well, looks like I'll have about two years to haunt the rumor boards and email groups in the meantime. Our dossier is now officially complete and we will be DTC in December. We can't send the paperwork off any sooner because of the one-year waiting period (CCAA rule). So there you have it - some good news. It feels nice to be happy. I think I'd like to savor this feeling a little longer. We're going out to dinner tonight to celebrate - we'll be the smiling family at the corner table of your local Mexican restaurant. Cheers! *Just in case though, can you knock on wood after you read this, please?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Life of a Playgroup Mom

In my well-intentioned efforts to socialize my daughter we have joined a playgroup or two. LT and I belong to Playgroup #1 that includes some very dear friends- and this group is a wonderful source of support for me. We were recently asked to attend Playgroup #2 which includes moms and babes who I don't know very well (yes- I was "picked up on the mom-circuit! Woo-hoo me!). Most of the moms in this group met via some mommy and me type classes. This group is so very close to home and the experience with Playgroup #1 is so positive that I figured we'd give it a try. At the first couple of playgroups I felt like LT and I were a novelty to the other moms. They asked a lot of questions about her adoption, but most of the questions were pretty benign, so it was okay. I talked about how long she has been home, how amazing our trip to China was, what a great, sparkling, beautiful, smart child she is, blah, blah, blah, change the subject. At the third playgroup one of the moms started to ask specific questions about LT. In particular she asked what we knew about her life before we "got her." She wanted to know the sensational details of her past - about her birthparents, abandonment, how old she was when she entered the orphanage. She was stumbling around the words as she asked her questions though. I knew what she was trying to ask me, but of course wasn't going to help her ask questions about the private details of LT's life. Because, well, it's none of her damn business. When the mom finally stopped bumbling around and asked her questions, I didn't immediately answer. I smiled. And then I replied, "unfortunately there is no birthparent information available for children adopted from China. But, yes, we do know some things about her life before we met her. And what we do know we'd like to first share with LT - since it is her life and her story." And then I smiled again. And there was an awkward pause. It was a fabulous awkward pause though, because I felt like I had put the awkwardness back on her. After all, she was the one asking the (inappropriate) questions. I was polite, but I clearly got my message across. And most importantly, I was able to protect LT. Since I am apparently a glutton for punishment, I attended yet another session of Playgroup #2 yesterday. This same mom hosted the group at her house, and she was telling another mom about some of the toys she had just purchased from a new web site. The toys were popular with the kiddos, so I asked her the name of the web site again. She gave me the name and then lowered her tone and said to me and another mom, "but you know, the web site is for kids with, you know, special issues or problems. Like for kids who need that early intervention thingy." Uh-huh. And I suppose that makes the toys less interesting?? Or not filled with as much toy goodness? ? The ironic part of her comment was that per our state's EI guidelines for speech therapy, her son would more than lifely qualify for "that early intervention." He's no talker. So this mom and I are a bit, um, different in our parenting styles. But I'm trying to give the playgroup thing a fair try. I am interested in getting to know some of the other moms and babes. But I have to be honest...I find the whole playgroup thing to be stressful. I'm a nervous small-talker and secretly shy- even though I force myself out there into social situations. I worry that people are judging me until I get to know them well. But since life is no longer about me, we go each week so LT can be around other kids. And speaking of LT, she doesn't love playgroup either. She clings to me throughout most of the playtime. I try to get her engaged in toys or interested in a book, but she clings even tighter. If she is approached by another kid it can be disaster. She cries as if the world is ending if she gets touched by another child. I think her behavior stresses me out. I just want her to have fun and be exposed to all kinds of learning opportunities. Apparently she'd rather be at home playing with her own toys. I'm trying to find the right mix of activities in and out of our home for LT. And let's be honest- for me too. I need to get out of the house! LT loves swimming class and storytime at the library, so we're going full speed ahead with those. She's not fond of Mandarin class, but that one is not negotiable. I just keep trying things again with her to see if it interests her, and trying to respect her limits and understand what makes her uncomfortable. She is definitely a sensitive kid. So I'm curious about others' experiences with playgroups. Do you love it/hate it? Does your child love it/hate it? Do the moms at your playgroup set out elaborate appetizers and flower arrangements? (yes- the mom at the last group had quite a spread!)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Catch-up

Um, hi! Remember me? I've been very uninspired lately. But I'm starting to get the blog itch again, so here I am. I'm back. ...................................................................... So, separation. The last time I posted I was very uptight about this issue. And for good reason, as the following week I had scheduled a *much-needed* date night out with MT. We had dinner reservations and show tickets! Oh the excitement! And dread. Ugh, I was dreading the thought of leaving LT with a sitter. But I have to admit that the desire to have a night out was stronger than the dread. So the sitter showed up, and as expected, LT wailed in terror as we left. She can really put on the waterworks. Oh, the drama. But we left. And as I settled in to the fabulous new restaurant with well-known chef, I worried about LT. But then the waiter opened the wine, and I had a glass. And then the appetizers showed up. I'm still dreaming about these appetizers- tuna tartare and quail (no- not together!). I think it was at this point that I told MT, "I don't care if LT is waking the dead with her cries right now, this is SO worth it." And it was worth it! Good lord, the food was good. Weeks later we're still talking about the food in hushed tones and with great reverence. We dined, we took in a show, we enjoyed walking in our city again. It was a wonderful night. It felt nice to be alone with MT. I consider the night a success. LT did not eat or drink for the sitter. But, she didn't cry the *entire* time we were gone. That's progress in my book. I left LT again the following week. MT traveled the entire week, so a friend offered to watch LT one night so I could have dinner with old friends. The friend/sitter is someone LT knows very well. LT did ok. The friend/sitter actually took pictures to prove that she didn't cry the entire time I was gone. Heh. Good thing we all have a sense of humor about this. During both times away from LT she did stop crying, but curiously she won't walk around. At all. It's as if she loses the ability to walk and her legs are made of jelly. If she is left standing she remains rooted to the spot, almost unable to move. She clings to the sitter and begs to be held. And of course our friend/sitter is happy to oblige and hold her. I suppose she just wants to be comforted, and needs the close contact. Ok, gotta go get some sleep tonight to be well-rested for Madge's tv interview tomorrow morning. Heh.

Monday, October 09, 2006

The One in Which I Struggle

LT is doing great these days. She is kicking her feet like a champ. Oh how she loves to kick her feet. Almost as much as she loves to spin in circles. She is picking up new signs daily - we are at 25 signs last count. And she is making new sounds, so we feel like there is definitely progress on the speech front. The crunchy leaves outside have sent her into a bit of a tailspin though. Just when she got used to the grass - now there are crunchy, crackly leaves of all colors all over the grass and sidewalk. She gets upset and cries for me to pick her up when we are walking along the sidewalk and encounter big piles. She'll get used to them eventually though, just in time for the first big snow I'm sure. But despite all of the feet kicking, spinning, babbling and leaf-stomping, I am struggling with one big issue: separation. It is the issue that keeps me up at night and has me questioning my parenting skills and decisions. LT is definitely a shy, reserved kid who prefers to do things as part of a routine, and on her own turf. She prefers her mama and dada over anyone, but will tolerate some friends and family. In particular the friends who respect her boundaries and don't expect too much from her. These folks are rewarded with big full-face smiles that melt our hearts. She is not a fan of other kids her size, but has been known to follow an older child around in utter adoration. When LT came home we focused on establishing a strong bond/attachment. We didn't let anyone else feed/change/bathe/hold her for the first few months. Since that time she has spent time with a babysitter on occasion, but it never goes well. She refuses to eat, cries much of the time we are gone (except when watching a DVD), and requires that the sitter hold her the entire time we were away from her. LT also sometimes becomes more clingy outside of our home when only one parent is with her. I think most of this sounds pretty normal so far. She's a shy, sensitive babe who prefers to stay close to her mama. I don't push her, and I try to follow her cues, especially when we're not at home (i.e. at a class, storytime, etc.). I'm okay with this on most days, and then I run into people with different expectations of LT and I start to question everything. This all started to boil up as a worry for me when we were visiting family a few weeks ago. We were staying at my mother-in-law's house and throwing a baby shower for my sister-in-law. LT was ok when it was just us and her grandma, but she was super-clingy at the shower itself. I didn't think much of it at first as it was loud, the room was filled with strangers (to LT), and we were not at home. Of course she would want her mama. LT would not let anyone else hold her, and screamed in terror if I left her sight. She did her best to keep one hand on me at all times, if she wasn't in my arms already. Shower guests began to make comments in passing that made me feel...like crap. I don't want to re-hash the comments, but essentially many of these ladies were making disparaging remarks about the fact that LT is so clingy to her mama. At one point I had to leave her for a moment with her grandma to get something out of the oven, and she screamed and cried. I overheard someone say, "Oh, she doesn't go to daycare does she?" and then, "they never leave her with anyone." Geesh- I can't win here. I went home feeling like crap about my parenting style. I then had another "moment" at Mandarin class a few weeks ago. We started a Mandarin immersion mommy and me class, with the opportunity for me to take a parent-only class myself afterwards. The first parent class was a disaster. I left LT with the sitter, and she screamed and howled the entire hour. I did not know what to do. She got more upset if I went back to calm her, so they encouraged me to just stay in class. I could hear her screaming through the walls and could not comprehend a word of the Mandarin that the teacher was speaking to me. It was awful. We also participate in classes and playgroups - and typically LT sits on my lap or keeps one arm looped around mine for the duration of the class. I don't push her, but I do try to engage her in interesting activities and toys. I want her to at least be exposed, and I feel like it's up to her to decide on participation as she is still so little. But her behavior at Mandarin class etc. has resulted in several moms in the past few weeks asking me if her clinginess is adoption-related. I even had a mom say to me that her "little life has been pretty uncertain so far, so no wonder she clings to you." Aye. Perhaps her clinginess is adoption related, but let me be the judge of that. What this issue boils down to for me is a no-win situation. I feel like if I leave her, it is somehow damaging to her, or her relationship/attachment to me. I feel like she will be more insecure if I leave her. But, if I don't leave her, I feel like I am not exposing her appropriately to the emotions and skills she will develop by being left without me for short periods of time. She does need to learn to deal with negative emotions herself. So I get myself all wrapped up in this circular thinking and have no idea what to do because I cannot win either way. Leave her and risk her feeling abandoned. Don't leave her and she'll never stop clinging to my leg and miss out on fun opportunities. The more I think about it, the more I beat myself up over it. I'm trying to go with my instincts and do what I think is right, and best for LT. But this is hard.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Five Things

Five things LT did last week: 1. Signed "thank you" to me - *unprompted*- after I gave her a drink. My heart burst with pride! I didn't realize what she had done at first, but MT was in the kitchen with me, saw her do the sign, and then yelled out with glee. Yes, glee. 2. Made several new sounds - doh, ba, and pa. It's good to hear her babble more. She also tried very hard to repeat us when we made new sounds this week. She focuses on our mouths and gets very serious. She often forms her lips into the shape required to make the sound, but then she says "mamamama." Oh she is trying so hard to talk! 3. Sniffs her own feet. This one really makes me laugh. She puts her feet to her nose and breathes in and out loudly. And then she points to me and signs "more" until I smell her feet and tickle her. It sounds kind of silly in writing, but it's our funny little game. 4. Kick her feet and march. She just picks up her right foot when she kicks her feet, but she smiles like it's the most fun she's ever had. Well, except for the marching. She follows me around when we march and signs "moremoremoremore" when I stop. 5. Ate an apple. LT eats very little fruit, except pureed fruit or applesauce. She still loves the pureed stuff (i.e. baby food) and asks for it. I think it's a texture issue for her. But today we went apple picking, and MT and I were eating freshly picked apples. I kept offering LT apple pieces, and on the fiftieth attempt she finally tried it! And then ate most of an apple. I'm one lucky mama.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

The Therapist

Back in July, I talked about our experience with Early Intervention. We continued on with the OT during August, but I began to dread the appointments each week. LT is a shy, reserved child by nature, but something about this therapist (Kimberly) just really made her cling to me. So each week Kimberly would come and she and I would talk about LT. And LT would cling to me desperately the entire hour, refuse to touch any toys, and sometimes even sign "all done" each and every time the therapist would so much as look at her. Eventually, at a session, Kimberly left me with a book chock full of activities to help the "out of sync child." Activities to do when Kimberly was not around. When the hour was over, the therapist would leave and LT would leap from my lap, grab textured toys and rub them all over her body. Just kidding. But she would relax and revert back to being "herself." Incidentally, we also continued on with speech therapy during this time. LT had been signing for months, but in August she really took off with the signs. I *highly* recommend signing with your child (any child!), as it has saved us from much frustration. LT also really warmed up to the speech therapist, and gets really engaged in the toys and activities. In early September we visited our pediatrician for LT's 18-month check-up. We talked at length about LT's progress in both speech and with sensory issues. I explained to the ped how the OT visits went, and my concerns and frustrations. I felt like we weren't accomplishing anything at the sessions, and that I could manage many OT-type activities on our own time (i.e. we can play with playdough, food, textured balls, etc.). I also felt that LT had made a great deal of progress since her initial EI evaluation. The pediatrician agreed, and stated that "we could always come back to therapy if needed." What I heard the ped say was "you can stop the silly therapy sessions now! And you are not harming your daughter if you stop!!" So the very next session I very politely relayed our doctor's recommendations to Kimberly, and we agreed to "take a break." (Why did I feel like I was breaking up with her?) It was such a relief. This morning MT, LT and I were out in our little town running errands. We stopped in a local store and LT was in fine form. A clerk was playing with her as she sat in her stroller, and she was giggling and smiling - really putting on a show. The giggles continued as we left the store and walked into the bakery next door. And then abruptly, the giggles stopped. We ran in to Kimberly at the bakery! We said our hellos, she smiled at LT and waved. LT gave her a stony look. Moments before she was flirting with a store clerk she didn't know, and now she wouldn't smile or look in the direction of Kimberly. Hmmm. I think we made the right decision about taking a break from the OT.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Cat Got Your Tongue?

LT and I were out running errands this week. Outside of our local over-priced organic grocery store, I noticed cages with cats, and a few dogs on leashes. Apparently the local animal shelter was hosting an event to promote "adoption" of these animals. As we left the store, we paused at the cages to look at the cats. LT loves to chase after the neighbor's cat, so I thought it would be fun to stop and look. And besides the kitties on display were really cute. I ooohed and ahhhed over the kitties, and LT and I meowed a few times. I turned to go, and passed by a volunteer holding a small dog. I stopped and said, "oh LT, look at the doggie..." And the volunteer looked at me, then at LT, and then back at me. She then said, "well, you're obviously in to adoption. How about a dog?" Um. Uh. Um. What? I quickly said, "um, no thank you," and walked away. I was muttering to myself all the way to my car. A million thoughts were racing through my head. I wanted to go back and say something to that stupid lady. I mean, what a dumb thing to say. I turned around when I got to my car and started to march back towards the store. I wanted to tell that lady that my daughter may not understand what she is saying, but other children might. And hey, I'm a dog lover too, but she might want to consider how that comment could make a child, my child, feel. As I got closer I noticed a crowd beginning to gather around the lady. And I chickened out. The last thing I wanted to do was to create a scene. I turned around and slunk back to my car. Before I set LT in her carseat, I hugged her. I wish I could just put her in a bubble and protect her from stupid crap like this.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Ten Things

Ten things LT did this week: 1. Learned the sign for "clean-up." We clean up her toys every night before bedtime. I sing a little clean-up song and we put her assorted plastic goodies away. LT used to just follow me around and squeal with delight. Now she follows me around the first floor of our house as I pick up the toys, squeals and signs "clean-up" over and over. We'll have to work on participation! 2. Dropped all of her wooden fruit into the bathtub as I took my shower. Two mornings in a row. 3. Stared with awe at her music teacher and stood next to me with her arm linked through mine during music class. She did let go for a moment when the teacher blew bubbles, but was quickly back at my side. When we got home though she happily knocked her "rhythm sticks" together and danced to the CD I put on. No dancing or drumming in public for my girl! 4. Managed to get a few bites of food into her mouth using a fork. All by herself! I clapped for her, and then of course she clapped for herself. 5. Signed "please" almost every time she asked me for "more" or to "open" something. Oh, she is cute when she signs please. 6. Walked around after dinner last night with her sippy cup hanging from her mouth (gripping the spout in her teeth). She laughed every time we'd try to take it away. Or even just look her way. 7. Sat in the bottom step of our back porch stairs next to me. She'd back up, sit down and then look up and smile at me. And then I'd say,"are you sitting on the step just like mama?" And she'd laugh with delight. We did this over and over all week. 8. Drop her stuffed bears out of her crib. And then squeal with delight each time I picked them up and put them back into her crib. The squeals were even louder if I managed to catch a bear before it hit the ground. 9. Tried to learn some new signs (i.e. "again" and "on"). If she couldn't quite do the sign she would then sign all of the other signs she knows in rapid succession. So I'd ask her if she wanted to do something again (and do the sign), and she'd quickly sign "more," "open," and "out." I suppose she figures that one of those signs has to eventually get her what she wants. 10. Dropped things on my head from our shopping cart in T*arget. I was below her, trying shoes on her feet. She had a couple of items in her area of the cart, and of course she thought it was genius to drop them on my head. She was laughing so hard that she was snorting, so I had to give the items back and continue the game. Unfortunately we had to cut the game short when she laughed so hard that she puked. Funny game turned to stinky mess rather quickly. All in all, a good week.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Another Perspective

In this post, I talked about some Christmas figurines that my mother-in-law showcases on her mantle every holiday. One of my favorite readers, B. (who is fabulous and should have her own blog!), sent me an email with a different perspective on this issue. B. wrote to me*: I hope you don't mind my emailing you about this. I read your post with interest, and have been thinking about it ever since. And everything I want to say about it comes strictly from my own experience, so feel free to take it with a grain of salt....I grew up Asian in a very white community. Obviously my upbringing was different from what LT's will be, as my parents were also Asian. Still, I went to an all-white school. And I keep thinking, that suppose a teacher had put up a bulletin board with construction paper faces to represent the kids in class, and she had made a darker brown one to represent me -- I would have been horrified. I didn't want to seem different from my friends -- I wanted to blend. That's not necessarily a good thing, but it's how I felt as a kid. When I read your post, and I read that most people thought replacing the white figurine with a Chinese one would be a good idea -- I dunno. My first instinct was, oh no, the kid does not need to be beaten over the head with the fact that she's Chinese. Don't get me wrong. Her culture is beautiful, and it's important for her to have it in her life. She needs to be proud of who she is. I know you guys will do everything in your power to see that happen. But. Your MIL's figurines aren't really meant to represent your heritage, are they? You said yours was a red-haired waif with pigtails, which doesn't really have anything to do with you beyond hair color. So why should it be a big deal if LT's doesn't represent her at all, beyond hair color? And what would your reaction be, suppose, if LT happened to be of mixed heritage? Part Asian and part White, say. You know my child is exactly that, so what would I do in your shoes? Look for a mixed figurine? An Asian one? Would that insult the part of her that's White? It gets silly after while, in my humble opinion. I would think a figurine with dark hair would be perfectly fine.... I could go on and on -- I have lots to say about the race issue, particularly growing up Asian in a white country, -- but I'll stop now. Please don't feel like I'm bashing you, or telling you what you're feeling is wrong -- you feel what you feel, and I know it's due to your desire to protect your little one. Of course, I have no idea what LT will think as she grows up. But I wanted to gingerly suggest that it's probably not necessary to make a point every time of the fact that she's Chinese -- in this case, I think it's a bigger deal that she's represented as your adorable little dark-haired daughter. Respectfully, B. My first reaction to seeing B.'s thoughts was probably a little defensive. (Aw come on, I'm not perfect.) I felt like I needed to clarify MIL's behavior and attitudes towards LT to be more than the snapshot here. So I replied to B. and described a little more about MIL's attitude towards LT. She is definitely uncomfortable whispering about, er I mean, discussing race. Just tonight on the phone we were talking about LT's recent check-up and her weight. She struggled to find the words to say that LT could be petite because she is Chinese. But my point here is that for me, these figurines are representative of MIL's attitudes about LT's race. At best she ignores it, and at worst it is a novelty (ala "China doll"). And sometimes I worry that she loves LT *despite* her race. My next thought was worry that I will become the overzealous adoptive parent who will cram our Americanized version of Chinese culture down her child's throat in hopes that it will make it all okay. To the point that LT will be sick of it. And feel tired of being different from everyone in her family. I can't give her what is her birthright (i.e. language), but I want to be able to give her something. Something that will help understand and be proud of her racial identity and heritage. I think there is a fine line between raising LT with exposure to her culture versus just being a family and living our daily lives. Not every event in life will be an issue related to her adoption, or being raised by white parents. It's my job to try to walk the line and prepare LT for the world. I don't know how she will feel about any of this, so perhaps the lesson I need to take away is that I need to listen, I mean really listen to how she feels. And just do the best I can to help her grow up feeling proud of who she is. My last thought was sadness. Sadness that my friend B. wanted to "just blend." A few months ago I went to a class at my adoption agency that included a panel of adult Korean adoptees. One of the young women spoke about her childhood and her longing for blonde hair and blue eyes. When I hear stories like these I can't help but think, "but, but, but I don't want LT to feel that way!" I want her to be okay with her looks. But then reality sets in and I realize that I can't control/help/change how she'll feel. But hopefully I can give LT the tools and experiences that will help her manage and understand those feelings. Or just be ok. Eh. This is hard. MT and I have good intentions and a lot of love. Some days that feels like not nearly enough. *I re-printed this with B.'s permission. Thanks again for the dialogue B.! You rock!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Circles! Circles!

Today LT learned to turn in circles. Her beloved dada spun in circles with her after breakfast this morning, and it is all she has wanted to do since. She spins round and round in her unbalanced, wobbly, toddler way, giggles and then falls over from the dizziness. Or runs into a wall. Luckily she has managed to remain generally unharmed so far today. After impact, she then stands up, points to me, and waits for me to say "turn in circles! Make circles! Yay!" And then we do it again. I never imagined that turning in circles could be such endless fun! Stay tuned for tomorrow: we learn to kick our feet! PS- thanks for the comments on the Christmas figurine. Now, um, would anyone have any ideas on where to find an acceptable replacement?

Friday, September 01, 2006

The Matching Shirts

We spent the weekend with MT's entire family last weekend. Prior to the weekend, I received an email from my mother-in-law requesting that I bring a pair of denim shorts for LT to wear. Since we were all going to be together, she had purchased matching shirts for LT and her cousin (CT) to wear, and she wanted to take a picture of the girls in their matching outfits. CT is about 6 months older than LT. I've written in the past about my relationship with my mother-in-law. We don't see eye-to-eye on many issues, but I am grateful that LT has an adoring grandmother. Anyway, this email just aggravated me. I kept thinking about it, dwelling on it...I couldn't get past it. Today I was talking to a friend, and I uncovered what has been bothering me about this seemingly benign request. Step back to Christmas 2005...we visit mil's house for the very first time with LT, who has been home for a month. Every Christmas mil decorates her mantel with porcelain Christmas figurines (I know, I know- yuck. But they are on HER mantel - I don't have to look at them). She sets out a figurine for every member of the family. She started the collection with a mother (Mrs. Claus), father (Santa) and three boys (a brunette, blonde and redhead). As her sons married off, she added the representative girl figurines. So yes, I am immortalized as a red-haired waif with pigtails and bloomers on her mantel every Christmas. When the first grandchild was born into the family in 2004, a blonde girl was added to the mantel. Anyway, this past Christmas there was of course a new figurine to represent LT. Mil proudly showed off this new figurine - a brown-haired girl. Yes, a white brown-haired girl. Because said figurine company does not make Asian figurines. I was a new parent, barely over the jet lag and sick with a cold, so I didn't say anything. Ahh, I'm making excuses, honestly, I was at a loss for words. I remember feeling very sad for LT. We're already sending her a message that her race doesn't matter and that we see her as white. Never mind that she's Chinese, at least the the brown hair on the figurine matches. So since Christmas, this issue has festered in my sub-conscious. I have no idea how, if, when I should handle it. So last week when mil asked to dress LT like her cousin and take her picture, the request felt oddly related to this issue. It felt like she was trying to dress LT her like her white, blonde-haired, blue-eyed cousin, and was not seeing her for who she is - NOT a white girl. I feel as if she is sending her message that LT's race is about as important as her hair color. As it turned out, the matching t-shirt picture was never taken. But the figurine will be brought out next Christmas. LT won't notice this Christmas, but she might the following year. I wonder if she'll notice, and if so, how it will make her feel.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

7 x 7

Chicagomama tagged me for a meme, and well, thank goodness. Because we've had two days of rainy, blah weather and my mood is beginning to match the weather. I was feeling so uninspired. 7 Things I Want to Do without Dying of Embarassment 1. Find a new career/ go back to school 2. Take ballet lessons 3. Navigate a social gathering and make smalltalk effortlessly (and not feel like a big dork) 4. Take adult swimming lessons (I have a fear of the water) 5. Wear a bikini 6. Run a marathon (what if I don't finish?) 7. Say what I am really thinking when people ask me stupid questions in the grocery store! 7 Things I Cannot Do in the Summer 1. Wear a tank top 2. Sleep without the air conditioning on 3. Jump into the deep end of the pool (again, the phobia) 4. Sit out in the sun without SPF30 sunscreen (dude, I am pale) 5. Exercise outside on a humid day 6. Go to bed sweaty - I have to shower first and be squeaky clean 7. Eat soup 7 Things I Can Do which are Meaningless Unless you are still in Junior High 1. Send lightning fast IMs 2. Wear layered tees and jeans that show my buttcrack 3. Use "dude" sixteen times in one conversation (dude, sometimes it just gets the point across) 4. Snark about the other girls on my block 5. Convey a look of extreme angst 6. Write my name (Mrs. MT) in the margins of my notebook 7. Sleep until noon (oh I can do it, just wish LT would let me) 7 Things Which Attracted Me to My House 1. The 102 year-old charm! (yes, charming is what we call it when it seems to be falling down around us) 2. The community - a diverse village with a walkable downtown 3. Distance to the city - we can still take public transportation in 4. The kitchen - with cream cabinets and black concrete countertops 5. The lovely vintage woodwork throughout 6. The fabulous prairie-style, Frank Lloyd Wright inspired style of our house and neighborhhod 7. The yard - we have a large lot for being in a relatively urban area 7 Things I Say Most Often When I am Crying 1. Gasp, sniffle, snort, gasp, sniffle, snort, gasp, sniffle, snort 2. Why is this happening to me? 3. I'm just so tired 4. Isn't this house charming (see above) 5. But I want to have another child (see this post) 6. It hurrrtttttssssss 7. I'm so pissed off I could cry (oh wait, I am!) 7 Children's Books I am Adding to My Own Collection 1. Little Women - oh how I love this entire series 2. Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type and Duck for President - I love the humor. Seriously, these animals crack me up 3. The Secret Garden 4. Olivia - she's such a sassy pig 5. Where the Sidewalk Ends - I loved this when I was a kid 6. The Harry Potter series - I cannot wait for the last book and I think Harry is going to die (sob) 7. Kite Flying - the illustrations are so lovely 7 Children's Movies I Can Watch for the Bazillionth Time Without Wanting to Rip My Eyes from Their Sockets 1. The Little Mermaid - there is something about a red-headed heroine that I love 2. The Sound of Music - you gotta love whiskers on kittens and the hills alive with the sound of music 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Um, we don't watch many movies yet (LT is only 17-months old!) so I haven't been subjected to the genre...yet. I'd like to tag Johnny, Sparky, Hao Bao Bao and Baggage, and anyone else who is depressed because summer is almost over.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Family

When MT and I decided to start a family, we dreamed of three children. We were young (I was only 28!), our careers were on the rise, and we just knew we'd have the resources required for three children. We had the finances, the family support, and the emotional stamina to throw at parenthood. Now almost six years later, we finally have a daughter. A beautiful, perfect daughter- at last we are a family! We're battle-scarred but over-the-moon happy to be parents. Because of the path we've taken to build our family, the vision of our family has now changed. After adopting LT our attention immediately turned to adoption #2. We knew right away that a sibling for LT was the right thing for our family. Suddenly two children seemed to feel right, and really, we'd be damn lucky to have two kids. We're feeling pretty lucky to be LT's parents after all. Now here is where this all falls apart. The wait to adopt from China is twice as long as it was when we entered the program, and appears to be getting even longer. It all seems very uncertain - it could be a long wait, the program could close, requirements could change, who knows. On one hand this is great news, as it appears that there are less children available for adoption, and many more families who are interested in adopting. "Great," says the rational side of my brain. This is great for the children. I am hearing rumblings that there are less children being abandoned, and that domestic adoption is on the rise. This is all very good. But, but, but...well, I want to have another child and I am unsure if a second adoption will happen. There, I said it. I'm selfish. I want another baby. Adoption definitely has a selfish aspect to it, and I'm really struggling with how to process these emotions. I want to have the privilege of parenting another child, and I really want to give LT a sibling who shares her ethnic and cultural origins. It just gets so messy and complicated. I'm certainly not entitled to another baby, but I can't help my feelings. When we decided to adopt, I threw myself into it wholeheartedly. I felt like we had some control over our family-building, and that the difficult decisions were over. We finally came to terms with a path to build our family: we'd adopt two children from China, and that would be it. I'd throw every resource possible at raising my daughters and being a transracial family. Now I feel so silly and naive for thinking this way, as there are certainly no guarantees. We're continuing to move forward with the paperwork for adoption #2. I don't know what will happen, and some days I wish I had a crystal ball. I am certainly willing to wait, and definitely willing to take the risk. I can't help but wish that there was some guarantee though. I just can't help but feel that way now that I want this not only for me, but for LT as well. My feelings are ugly and messy, and I feel selfish. And even a little guilty. But damn it, I want to bring another child into our family. We have entertained thoughts of different ways to add a child to our family. Another country, domestic adoption, and even thawing some of our frozen embryos (aaack- I can barely type those words...yes, we have frozen embryos...I can't carry them...I don't know if they are even viable...). But MT and I feel committed to adopting another child from China at this point because it's no longer just about us. I feel like LT deserves a sibling with the same racial and cultural identity as her own. I'm feeling sad and uncertain tonight, and unsure about where and how to express my feelings. Part of me feels like I need to just keep this to myself, and just feel happy/lucky/fortunate that I have one child. But I just can't push back the feelings of desire for another child. I just can't help but wish that building a family was easier.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Just Another Summer Day

The summer fun continues here at the T household. Today was one of those days where I looked at my girl and thought to myself, "wow, she seems older today." It's as if she plods along status quo and takes in everything around her, and then suddenly one day she grows up a little and is ready to show off some new skills. It seems to happen that fast. We started the day with our usual cuddle time in bed. LT was reading some books, so I thought I'd sneak in a peek at the newspaper. LT has to be rightnexttome and involved in everything I do these days - and especially when MT is out of town on business. I started reading an article, and LT was sitting next to me. A few moments later she grabbed another section of the newspaper and started reading as well. She has just started to imitate me, and it is just so sweet. When I wipe up spills from the floor (often), she walks over and rubs the floor next to me. Next we ran a few quick errands and then met a friend at the pool. LT had a ball of course and did laps. That is, laps around the pool. LT's new favorite activity at the pool is to walk around the outside of the 1-foot kiddie pool. This cannot be done independently though, she must hold mama's hand at just the right angle, so I have to crouch down awkwardly. But that's ok, she'll pay my chiropractor bills when I'm old, yes? After a picnic lunch at the pool and then a long nap, we set off for the post office. LT loves to go to the post office. It's in a big old building with the stroller entrance at one end, and the service counter at the opposite end of a long hallway. So I unleash LT from stroller captivity and she gets to walk all the way down the hallway. She laughs, smiles and squeals the entire walk. It is enough to make even the grumpiest bystander smile. We then did a little retail therapy at the local T#rg*t. This of course lifted my mood. And then I decided to take LT out to dinner. We eat out at least once a week with LT, so she is used to the drill. But she is a toddler, so dinner can be unpredictable. We had so much fun at dinner tonight! She ate with gusto, she smiled, she squealed, she tried everything I ordered. She signed all of her new signs - open, eat and flower. She is very interested in using a fork these days and was occupied during much of the meal poking at her food. And then it happened, she put the fork to her mouth and actually got a bite of food in to her mouth (with the help of her other hand- but hey, she has to start somewhere). Oh what a proud mama I am! Our day ended with LT helping me carry in the shopping bags. No, really. She carried in a bag from the garage, all the way across the yard to the house. We set off to put on pajamas and I was treated to several wet kisses. And even a hug. It was actually a pretty mundane day. Errands, eating, cleaning up, and a little splashy pool fun - nothing extraordinary. I didn't get the laundry done, the house picked up, or complete much else on my to-do list. But it was the kind of day that reminded me just how lucky I am to be LT's mama. *Edited to add: That's not my hairy arm in the picture!!

Monday, August 14, 2006

Introductions

Last week we hosted a playgroup at our house. The group includes children of varying ages, and in the summertime often includes older siblings. Moms and tots were arriving and things were a bit chaotic. I was setting up kiddie pools and handing out juice boxes with LT on my hip. I set her down for a moment and overheard the following introduction: Playgroup Mom: (speaking to her oldest child) That's LT and this is her house. 5 year-old child: Uhhhh. Playgroup Mom: That's her mommy, T-shaped Girl (points to me). 5 year-old child: Uhhhh. Playgroup Mom: LT was born in China. Her mommy adopted her and brought her here. 5 year-old child: (speaking to me) Do you have snacks here? And so then I grabbed LT and had the following conversation with her:* T-shaped Girl: That's a little girl who came to play with you. LT: Ohhhhh. T-shaped Girl: That's her mommy (point to Playgroup Mom). LT: Ahhhhhh. T-shaped Girl: 5-year old child's aunt donated her eggs so her mama could do ivf and get pregnant with her. LT: Ohhhhh. My introduction was just as relevant, yes? 5 year-old girl didn't notice or care where the hell LT was from. She just wanted some crackers. Had 5 year-old girl asked her mother, or me, a question about why LT looks different than me, or about adoption, I would have been more than happy to talk about it. Kids are curious, and I feel strongly that they deserve to have their questions answered. And I am happy to talk openly and proudly about LT's adoption (within reason). But I do not understand why that mother needed to label LT in an introduction. In truth, I ignored the comment and moved on. I can't educate everyone, and I have to let most things just roll off my back. Would you have replied or commented to Playgroup Mom? *In my head.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

The Prints, They Are No Good

In my enthusiasm to be active and social this week, I think I may have over-scheduled us a bit. But summer is slipping away so fast- I don't want LT to miss a minute of summery fun. We've spent a lot of time digging in the sand, and according to LT there is much more digging to be done. Even with the playdate madness this week, we managed to take an afternoon to get fingerprinted for adoption #2. Yippee- a milestone! The last set of prints happened in November 2004, before I started to blog. Fingerprinting didn't go so well for me- my prints were rejected. Apparently my fingerprints are "worn down" and "hard to print." I see this as proof that I missed out on my oppotunity for a life of crime. Anyway, this translated into a 2-month delay for us in dossier prep as we had to wait for an appointment to get re-printed. I managed to whittle that down to a one-month delay though my going to said government office one-month early and crying*. Even hardened government employees can by sympathetic to the plight of a pre-adoptive parent, and they re-printed me without an appointment! So this time, I chatted with the employees as they fingerprinted me since the place was deserted (I have never been to a government office that had NO line! No! Waiting!). I commented that it seems silly that I have to get fingerprinted again, since they already have a good set of my prints, from last time. The supervisor replied that it actually does make sense since they have to check for changes in my criminal history since the last time I was printed. Ok, I get this. I support this. I could have committed a felony in the past year. But why get fingerprinted AGAIN? My FINGERPRINTS don't change. It is my RECORD that might change. Isn't it a waste of everyone's time to fingerprint me again? Can't we just pull up the old prints and then run the search on my background?? I was further frustrated when the supervisor looked at my freshly printed prints and said, "yep, these will probably be rejected again. We can't do anything about that." Huh??? Are we so driven by the process that we can't see that the process is not working? I'm going to set my frustration aside for now though and wait to see what happens. Perhaps the figerprint fairies will intervene and my prints will be accepted. Look for an update in 4-8 weeks. *The crying was not pre-planned. I just got emotional and told the employees about my daughter waiting in China for me. Then the tears just came.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Someone, Tell Me What to Do!

We're having a fun summer here at the T household. We've had beach time, and lots and lots of pool time. We've even splashed a couple of times at the pool with these cute girls (and their fabulous mama). We're eating a lot of ice cream, and staying out past our bedtime. We're trying to pack in as much fun as possible before the inevitable happens...Fall. Today I had the joyful experience of being puked on for the very first time. Yes, LT has been with us for almost nine months now, and she has never puked on me. We've had a little spit up, lots of drool, and boatloads of snot, but never full-on puke. We had a play date, and we were outside eating lunch. LT started choking. She tends to overstuff her mouth when she is hungry, so I waited for her to then start coughing. Because that is what is supposed to happen next. Well, she didn't start coughing. She was making the awful gagging, choking motions. Oh.My.God. "My daughter is choking," I thought to myself as I continued to sit and look stupidly at her. And then suddenly I was able to move. And like lightning, I grabbed the tray off of LT's chair, I pulled LT out of the chair, and then I yelled, "somebody tell me what to do!!!!" I'm such a cool and competent mother. Luckily at that moment she made a little coughing sound. My friend yelled, "she's coughing, she's coughing! Pat her on the back!!" I held LT close to me and patted her. She continued to make choking noises and then coughing. And then it happened: the puke came out. LT puked like a champ. First she puked up what she had been eating for lunch, and then she puked out everything else she had eaten or drank (drunk?) this morning. She puked on my shirt, on my shorts, down my back and then into my shirt. It is a unique feeling to have vomit sliding down your (supposed) cleavage. I was covered in puke, but LT remarkably had very little vomit on herself. My kid is talented. And just like that, the crisis was averted. No thanks to her mama, LT was fine and reaching for her (puke-covered) sippy cup. Happy summer!

Friday, July 28, 2006

Next Time We Stay Home

While away on our long vacation, I had plenty of time to think. I thought a lot about my life, changes since deciding to be a stay at home mom, and how different my life is now. Truth be told, I have had a difficult adjustment to staying at home with LT. I wouldn't want it any other way, but the isolation has been a little hard. And I feel like I've had a hard time meeting the "right" group of moms. You know, other moms who have a similar parenting style, lifestyle and kids who are appropriate playmates for LT. And it's hard to make new friends - I worry about coming on to strong (stalker!) or being too stand-offish (snob!). In addition to thinking about me, I had plenty of time on my hands to worry about LT (because apparently it's not all about me anymore). I worried about her development, attachment, if she was eating enough, the drinking issues, etc. I suppose that is part of the Motherhood Job Description. Anyway, I concluded that once I was back from vacation I was going to focus on reducing my feelings of isolation, and make sure that LT was getting enough time around other kids (as she is currently terrified of most other children. Freezes when they get within three feet of her). So began Operation Anti-Isolation and Pro-Socialization. So with a fresh outlook and attitude of determination, I agreed to attend a playgroup today. We have played with this playgroup on three other occasions, back in late winter/early spring. It seems like a nice group of women and kids, but I have definitely been on the fringe.* The group meets at member households, as well as parks, playgrounds etc. The location rotates every other week. The kids are varying ages, which I thought would be great for LT as she is less frightened by older children. I'm hesitating as I write this, as I don't want to sound judgemental...but I have to get this off my chest. Today's playgroup was at C.'s house. C has a 5-year old son and a pool. It is currently 98 degrees here with 98% humidity, so I thought that a pool would be a perfect activity. I was the first to arrive at C.'s house (great, I'm giving the stalker vibe!), but I grabbed the beach bag, pool float and LT and marched up to the front door. This was going to be a great experience for us. I confidently rang the doorbell. And waited, and waited. I began to get nervous and checked the address again. Finally the door opened and C.'s son answered. He just kind of look at us. I finally asked if we could come inside. Oh, I should have stayed on the front porch. When I stepped inside the home, I was greeted with an, um, odor. Okay, I thought, perhaps they have pets. Lots of 'em. I marched onward. Um, no pets. But as I walked further and further into the house, I became more and more horrified. The house was filthy. Just filthy. I was dumbfounded. I held LT in may arms and had a sinking feeling in my stomache. Shit. Now what? Feign illness? Because there was no way that I could let LT play in this place. At that point my only hope was the backyard. I headed straight outside with LT. I greeted C, who was vacumning the pool. And much to my surprise (and relief) it was very nice. It was very clean, shaded and seemed to be well-maintained. Oh thank goodness. Thankfully the three other moms and kids showed up shortly after we arrived. We swam for a while, and then it was suggested we go inside for a snack. Ohhhhh, no. I didn't know what to do. It was close to the end of the playgroup time, so I figured I'd change LT and get the heck out of there. So we went inside and I put a beach towel on the ground and changed her standing up. I left her water shoes on her so she wouldn't touch anything. She was oblivious, she was interested in touching all of the interesting, um, things (food? dust? tumbleweed??) that were on the carpet. Oh the horror. After changing LT, I had to change myself out of my wet swimsuit. I didn't want LT to touch anything, but she seemed to be enthralled with a desk chair that swivelled. Another mom offered to keep an eye on her, and I ran off the bathroom. I ripped off my swimsuit with my left hand, and held my clothes in my right hand. I couldn't set anything down. It makes me itch to think about it. Somehow I changed myself in under a minute. I ran back to LT, scooped her up and we hit the road. Here's what I don't get about this situation... 1. The other moms/kids in the group all live in really lovely homes. The three homes I had been to were all very upscale and clean. Very,very clean. White glove clean. And very, very expensive - we all live close-by in an affluent suburb. The moms are all well-educated, and had careers before the kids came. What did these moms think of C. and her house?? They had been there before. Were they as mortified as me? And why didn't anyone warn me??? 2. This woman is in the process of adopting. How exactly did her home visit go? I know they don't really do a "white glove" inspection, but is that environment really suitable for a baby?? Isn't the state of her household a symbol of deeper issues? 3. How do people live like that? Clutter is one thing, and there was plenty of that, but dirty is another. You don't need to be wealthy to be clean. I did not grow up with a lot of money, but our house was sparkling clean. My mother worked outside the home and still cleaned each week like the queen was coming to visit. How do you raise a child in a dirty environment? How is that safe? I feel funny about posting this, so I may delete this after a while. LT has been bathed and is napping, and I'm off to shower. *Found the group through an organization, and an acquaintance. Can't say much more as I want to protect privacy of those involved. Past venues have been very lovely and CLEAN homes.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Oh Crap.

As you know from this post, we spent the weekend with MT's family. At one point I was talking to my sister-in-law, and she asked a question about a gift that she had given LT for her birthday. I answered, but had this nagging feeling about her question. I had this feeling the rest of the weekend like I had forgotten something. When I got home on Sunday night I was digging through the in-box on my desk and realized with horror the reason for the question. I never sent a thank-you note for the gift. I did not mail thank you notes to anyone who gave LT a birthday present. In APRIL. APRIL. I feel like a complete ass. And I don't know how to handle the situation. Do I just mail the notes now and pretend like there is nothing odd about a thank you note coming three months later? Or do I acknowledge my assisness and call said family members to let them know a note is coming? Or do I drop the note into another note apologizing for the tardiness of my note?? And throw in a cute pic of LT to distract them from my assiness? Miss Manners would have my head. This is keeping me up at night. Seriously, I haven't been able to let this one go since Sunday night. What would you do?

Monday, July 24, 2006

Party On

While the rest of the KLBs were partying in Chicago, we spent the weekend out of town at my mother-in-laws. Uh-huh. Lucky me! We celebrated MT's grandfather's birthday. As I was helping MIL set the dinner table, I laughed out loud when I glimpsed the napkins. It's not every day that you get to use napkins that say "Happy 90th!" In fact, MIL had to special order them. It was a lovely party, really. All of MT's siblings were in town to celebrate. Being 90 means that you get to eat all of the corn on the cob (off the cob actually, because you have no teeth) and cake that you want. And actually, being 16 months old means the same thing. Great-Grandpa T and LT ate a lot of corn and cake. After candles were blown out and the cake was reduced to crumbs, we sat around and chatted. My sister-in-law is expecting a baby in November, so eventually talk turned to all things baby. We talked strollers, diaper bags, and assorted baby gear, and I was all over that conversation. And then the conversation turned to breast feeding. There are few topics these days that bring me back to the old infertility pain, but apparently breastfeeding is one of them. The opportunity to nurse my child was something that I really grieved when I was coping with the many losses of infertility. I really, really wanted to do it.* Now I know that it can be a very difficult thing to do, and is even painful for some women, but I had romantic notions about childbirth and breastfeeding. Boy did I feel out of place in that room. It was a roomful of women who all got pregnant easily, by having sex in the comfort of their own homes. Crazy, I know, but apparently it works for some people. They talked about pumps and freezing the milk, and even donating leftover milk. Blah, blah, blah. The little voice inside my head was busy yelling at me and calling me a freak of nature and a failure as a mother while the conversation was going on. All kinds of ugly feelings came bubbling up to the surface, and I felt like no one else in the room understood me or my version of motherhood. The version without labor pains, stretch marks and breast feeding. I just sat there feeling awkward and thinking of things I could say to join the conversation. Ididn't say a word. Afterwards I was telling MT about it, and trying to describe how I felt. The feelings weren't nearly as intense or as sad as they were a few short years ago. And certainly the sadness didn't last very long, as I had LT to distract me. But it is still there, a sad little place in my soul that I have tucked away for now. But sometimes the sadness comes out, and there is little I can do to control it. But what I felt afterwards was that even though the moment was sad and awkward, really I was ok. The conversation moved on, LT did something cute, we opened presents and had a toast to 90 years of life. And everything was ok again. *I know I could have tried breastfeeding with adoption, but I explored it and decided against it.

Friday, July 21, 2006

What's That Sound?

It's the KLB's swarming my town. Yes, I had the honor to meet some of the blogosphere's finest at the KLB Convention this afternoon. I spent a short time with Figlet, Hope Springs*, Grrl Travels, Love Made Real, Hao Bao Bao, Mrs. Figby, and their respective families. Lucky me! The weather was lousy, but the company was fabulous. We met up at the zoo, and it started to rain on us almost immediately. Mr. Figby was smart enough to realize that the carousel was covered, so all was not lost. LT was very shy this afternoon and wasn't too interested in the other kids, but a ride on the merry-go-round brought out some smiles. We all gazed at some big cats, and some small monkeys, and I was able to chat at least a little with everyone. The time was definitely too short. Unfortunately we can't make the rest of the KLB festivities this weekend (I blame my MIL), so I will miss out on meeting the rest of the families in town. Enjoy the rest of your time in my town- you are an amazing bunch! *Password protected.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The Intervention, It is Early - Part II

When we left off with Part I, the EI therapists had referred LT for speech and occupational therapy. The speech therapy I expected, and quite frankly, was grateful for the recommendation. I wanted to get help for LT and this seemed like a good thing for her. I was chomping at the bit to talk about her receptive and active language skills and couldn't wait to learn more about muscle tone. Bring on the ST. But the recommendation for occupational therapy took me by surprise. As the Occupational Therapist described LT's problems to me (are they problems? issues? developmental speed bumps???), my stomache turned. It is hard to sit and listen to someone tell you that your child is anything less than perfect. And I kept thinking things like, "but you don't really know her like I do" and "but she's just a sensitive kid who likes to observe things." Her diagnosis was in relation to sensory integration. After I had some time to absorb the information, do a little research, and talk to our pediatrician, I ended up with very mixed feelings regarding her diagnosis. In some ways it explained a lot about her behavior. In other ways I felt like her actions were just part of her personality and her own individual preferences. And perhaps this will sound crass, but it also felt like a trendy diagnosis. Like if P8ople Magazine gave out diagnoses, this would be the diagnosis on the front cover. The only thing I knew for certain is that no one could really tell me if she really, really had a problem, or if this could impact her learning long-term. So I approached OT with an attitude of "why not?" It certainly can't hurt, and hopefully it can help her in the long run. She's too young to risk being labeled, and perhaps I'd get some nice ideas about how to help her development. So we jumped in and scheduled the OT. OT is kind of like having a friend over to play with me and LT. At her age the therapy is all play-based. The goal of the therapy is to expose LT to shapes, textures and activities to get her more comfortable with touch. So in theory LT should be playing with the cool new toys that the very nice therapist (Kimberly) brings each week in her big bag of fun. In reality, LT cries when Kimberly shows up, she clings to my arm and hides behind me, watches every move Kimberly makes, and points to all of the toys. LT is *so* interested in the toys she brings, but is apparently terrified of Kimberly and is reluctant to actually touch any of the toys and play. LT is terrified of most other adults besides me and MT, but is definitely fearful of Kimberly. I, on the other hand, have a lovely time each session as I get to chat about LT for an hour to a captive audience. Heh. Kimberly starts each session by asking how LT is doing and what is new. I can't think of a more interesting topic! And then we get to talk about interesting activities I can try with LT. And it's always lovely to have a visitor. LT is making great progress though. Today during the "Kimberly Show," (what I call OT since Kimberly plays with all of the toys and LT watches) LT actually stepped off my lap and touched some of the toys. And she signed "more" several times when she wanted Kinberly to do something again. Woo-hoo! So the jury is out on the LT's diagnosis and the value of OT. We're going to give it the ole college try and see what happens. Anyone else out there have a different experience with OT? I'll talk about ST next time.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Whew

So we're home from vacation, and we avoided a medical crisis with MT and a traveling meltdown with LT. Whew. It's good to be home, but I will miss the maid service. We're all a bit out of sorts and tired, LT being the most tired of all. She is not sure what time zone she is in, but it's definitely not our time zone. MT is feeling much better. He saw our family doctor today and has to finish the antibiotics, but then should be fine. Thank goodness. Vacation was fun, but also tiring. As much as I *hate* to admit it, traveling with a toddler is just damn hard. Vacation is not like it used to be. MT and I were talking on the car ride back to LAX about traveling with young kids. Before we had LT, we were determined to travel with her. Nothing would stop our travels! She would learn to travel well and grow up with many wonderful experiences as we explored the world as a family. We'd expose to her different cultures and especially fabulous foods from an early age. Now that we have LT, well, now I understand why people eat at large chain restaurants and vacation at D*isney. Places like that just make it easy for families. They have children's menus, accommodate noisy kids, plenty of high chairs, safe places to run and of course large furry characters. The best restaurant meals we had on vacation were at unremarkable restaurants where the food was "chain style." No ambience, definitely not the finest ingredients, and everything came with a plate full of french fries. Now back to real life...

Saturday, July 15, 2006

I Heart Vacation

So we're away on our fabulous very first (real) vacation as a family, enjoying MT's sabbatical. No pressure or expectations here, but this is supposed to be the greatest vacation ever. We get to go away for almost three weeks and enjoy being a family! (cue music and idyllic images of happy family frolicking on the beach) This past Wednesday MT starts to feel a little "funny," but we just chalked it up to mixing out of shape with lots of boogey-boarding. Dude rode the waves hard. On Thursday some mysterious spots show up on his leg. The same leg that was operated on a few years ago for a serious disease, and then two subsequent bouts of a certain bacterial infection. Both times it was the same nasty bacterial infection that required week-long hospital stays and gallons of IV antibiotics pumped in. One would think that was enough bad luck for one leg. Certainly there is no way that our luck could be bad enough that the infection would show up a third time?? No, it can't be, not on my vacation. But just in case, we checked out local hospitals, flights home and even local hotels. Just in case. Friday morning it becomes clear that this is the nasty infection. Again. So we head off to the local ER with LT in tow. It's great fun taking a toddler to the ER. So on top of worrying about MT, I get to chase her around and pull out all the stops to keep her entertained so she won't touch anything. Because hositals freak me out - people are really sick there you know. Turns out it is probably the same nasty infection, a year after the last bout. But this is a milder case. Lucky MT. They pumped in some IV antibiotics, wrote out a prescription and sent him on his way. So here we are with three days of vacation left, we're moving on to our final destination, and MT feels like crap. And I'm freaked out every time he complains of a new symptom (neck pain?? Quick, check the Internet, what does that mean? Do I need to call 911?). I think I'd like to just go home, but the earliest flight we can definitely get on is Monday morning, unless we pay the airline an exhorbitant sum of money. And poor MT is putting on such a brave face. Happy freakin' vacation.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The Intervention, It is Early - Part 1

Several of you asked about my experiences with EI, so I thought I'd back up and start from the beginning... When we brought LT home, she would not drink from a bottle. In the ten days we were with her in China, she never took a bottle from us. We tried all kinds of bottles, cups, nipples. formula types, temperature of formula, sugar in the formula, P*edial*yte, etc. She was not interested. She'd throw her head back, arch her back and cry when we put the nipple in her mouth. She didn't seem to know what to do with the nipple. We fed her yogurt, cereal and tons of fruit to keep her hydrated, and she ate and ate and ate. Oh, the child could eat! Overall LT was in pretty good health. Very small, but seemingly healthy other than an ear infection and cold*. So it was a mystery to us on how she had managed to thrive for 8.5 months in an orphanage. Surely she had been drinking something. We did manage to get a question to the Director of her orphanage, as after four days of no drinking, everyone was a bit concerned about her. The answer we got back from the Director was that she had been fed "with a cup and a spoon." Ok. So, for the next two months I spoon fed LT formula. I spoon fed her yogurt, pureed baby food, and cereal. All mixed into a runny concoction of food and formula. Meals took forever, but I was able to spoon feed between 6-12 ounces a day of formula in addition to plenty of food and yogurt. LT continued to eat a lot and gain weight, but would not drink. Meanwhile, I continued to offer a sippy cup with formula throughout the day. Again, all kinds of cups, types of formula, juice, temperature etc. I eventually found a cup that sans stopper would slowly run the liquid into her mouth. In this way LT would tolerate a few ounces of formula a day. It was a small victory. So, it was with this state of affairs that our pediatician recommended we contact EI. I pinned my hopes on the magical EI therapists at the time. Someone had to help me figure out why this child would not drink, and how to teach her to drink. Her ped certainly was stumped...and not altogether helpful. We had no idea if she couldn't or wouldn't drink. We scheduled her first evaluation at 10 months. I was thrilled and threw down the red carpet for the therapists. At last someone was going to help us! LT was evaluated by speech, physical and developmental therapists. I wanted to hug them as they marched into my living room. Help! was here! All of the therapists seemed very competent and thorough. I was thrilled and answered each and every question with great care. At one point in the evaluation, they asked to see LT eat. I quickly placed her in her highchair, dropped some Cheerios on the tray and grabbed a yogurt. And last second I grabbed a sippy cup and filled it with juice. LT grunted with delight and fumbled a few Cheerios into her mouth. She opened up wide for some yogurt. And she sucked down the juice. With gusto. You could have knocked me over with a feather. Huh? We had offered her juice before in desperate attempts to get her to drink. Why drink today? Why never drink for us, but drink in front of the therapists?? At the end of the evaluation, you can imagine my disappointment when they concluded that LT did not currently qualify for services. Well, except for a nutrition evaluation. And how was a nutritionist going to help me? By suggesting additional foods and liquids to spoon feed to LT?** All of the therapists agreed that they wanted to come back and see her again in two months since she seemed to be making such great strides in the two months she had been home. She was "on the cusp" of being delayed enough to qualify, and her delays seemed to be typical of institutionalized children. So we soldiered on. I continued to offer LT the sippy cup, and eventually something clicked and she would drink three ounces in a sitting. And then four ounces. And sometimes even six ounces. By twelve months she was drinking almost 18 ounces a day from a cup with no stopper, which was our target. Persistence paid off I suppose. And then one day shortly after her first birthday, we were at the park. I pulled out her afternoon sippy and forgot to take the stopper out of the lid. And LT drank it anyway. I checked it about four times myself (blech-formula tastes awful) and sure enough she was slowly *sucking* the liquid out of the cup. She had figured it out. By this point LT was doing well, but it was obvious that she had some delays. She was re-evaluated at thirteen months, and did end up qualifying for speech and occupational therapy. I think that the postive aspect of EI is that they come to your house and evaluate your child on her own "turf." I think this does help the therapists get a better picture of your child's abilities. The downside though is that they see behaviors for one afternoon. Kids do funny things some days (i.e. suck down a cup of juice like nobody's business) that are accounted for in the evaluation and are perhaps not a true picture of the situation. The other thing to keep in mind is that the EI standards to measure for delays are pretty tough. For example, our ped expects LT to say three to five words at eighteen months, but according to EI, LT should have upwards of fifty words. I know a lot of kids who would have qualified for EI services at that age who are now talking a blue streak. My last observation about the process is that the therapists are there to diagnose delays. So what do they do at an evaluation? Diagnose a delay! I'm taking our eval results with a grain of salt. I think LT is going to be fine, but of course I am pursuing the therapy she has been referred. I figure at this age there is no stigma - and it can't hurt. I think that covers the EI process to date. Any questions? In Part II, I'll talk about her diagnosis and therapy. *She couldn't sit by herself, lift her head up if she was on her stomache, etc., but we felt that these delays were typical post-institutionalization. **Although she was a very nice lady, she essentially provided me with ideas of additional foods to feed LT. I coulda read a baby cookbook for the same info.

Monday, July 03, 2006

My Eyes, My Eyes

I tried not to have too many expectations about this vacation, as LT is only 16 months old. I understand that not everyone thinks she is as cute as I do when we're in a restaurant and she is shrieking and pointing to my plate. I realize that business travelers on our flight perhaps don't want to hear yet another round of the Grand Old Duke of York. And I know that the childless condo neighbors aren't interested in hearing LT wailing at 6am. So, really, I scaled back my expectations. I remember telling MT that "we'll relax, go to the beach, eat in and watch the ocean. It'll be great!" And it is great, but it's hard. It's harder than I thought it would be to travel and vacation with a toddler. This morning we hopped out of bed when LT woke up, ate, and threw on swimsuits and sunscreen. We then piled the car full with the beach gear required to take a toddler to the beach. Chairs, umbrellas, towels, diapers, wipes, snack food, lunch food, drinks, sand toys, books, camera, video camera, sunscreen, hats, emergency change of clothes, kitchen sink. Two hours later we were on the road. We trekked down to a nearby beach that also has a playground. At the beach. A beach AND a playground. Sand, slides, swings, ocean - we thought LT would be in heaven. MT and I were pretty excited to have found this particular beach. One hour later we were back in the car, having evacuated the beach due to a medical emergency. As it turns out, the super-sensitive sunscreen that I used on LT stung her eyes to the point that she would not open them, and was crying and feeling around as if she was a blind baby. Oh, it was awful. I'd wipe her eyes off with a clean, cold washcloth (that MT had driven back to the condo to retrieve) and she'd immediately wipe her sandy, sunscreened hand over her eyes and cause further irritation. She wouldn't play- she just lay her head on my shoulder and moaned. At one point, desperate to help my poor baby, I poured water over her eyes from my water bottle. My ice cold bottle of water. I was successful in getting her to open her eyes, but only long enough to look at me in shock and horror. As if to say, "what the hell did you just do to me?" She then promptly closed her eyes again and rubbed a little sand in them for good measure. It was after this last error in judgement that we decided to pack up the gear and head back to the condo. LT's eyes were extremely red and puffy at this point and she was clinging desperately to her stuffed bear. We quickly bathed and changed her, and after a yogurt smoothie she was a new baby. Crisis averted. The rest of the day actually turned out to be a lot of fun. We just stayed here and went to the beach downstairs. No playground, but LT had a ball anyway.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Beach Bloggin'

We've been busy here at the T household: playing in the sandbox, swinging, swimming, learning how to walk, getting excited over June referrals, and most importantly, getting ready for vacation!! I'm happy to report that the T family made it safely to the West coast. We've been here for a few days, but just really got settled in to our beach condo today. We toured Santa Monica, Hollywood and Beverly Hills and then we drove south and we're set to relax on the beach for two weeks. Ahhhh, it is going to be heavenly, just heavenly. MT is at the store right now buying supplies, LT is drifting off to sleep (ok, so she's fussing off to sleep), and here I sit blogging away. And as soon as MT gets home, I will be blogging with a cold beer in hand. I feel so lucky to be here. It's our very first family vacation. If I may quote LT, "[shake with excitement, smile and ball fists up]." She doesn't say much, but she definitely communicates her feelings! And I am so excited to be able to take such a fabulous family vacation. One year ago this weekend we were on vacation as well - in Paris. MT and I were having one last fun trip before becoming parents, and LT was just a picture in my mind. How things have changed. Now that we're at the beach and we'll have our evenings free (unfortunately vacation doesn't make LT able to stay awake much past 8pm), I hope to be blogging a little bit more. If I'm not too busy reading, lounging, watching the sunset or playing S*crabble. A few things I'd like to cover: 1. Adoption #2. Oh, did I forget to mention that? Yes, we are planning on adopting again and have already completed the home study. 2. Traveling with children. Yes, it's hard. 3. My new role as full time mother. 4. My feelings towards LT's birth family and how they are changing. 5. Being a conspicuous family. 6. EI and related therapy. If you are particularly interested in one of the topics, do let me know. Otherwise, I'm in charge here and I'll just blog away as I see fit. Now, off to get that cold beer.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Don't Step on My Role

Generally I can't complain about my mother-in-law. She raised three lovely sons, and is a good person. Who lives three states away. Whew. The thing is, well, she *is* my mother-in-law. When I first started dating MT I was intimidated by her. And then when we got engaged, I adored her. After raising three sons she was delighted to finally have girls in her life. She devoted a lot of time and attention to me, and then also to MT's brothers' wives. She bought thoughtful gifts, sent cards, made special foods that we liked. All nice things, really. And then came infertility. MIL is a bit of a talker. One could call her a bit gossipy. She has no filter when it comes to sharing information. Information that is personal...like for instance, my son and daughter-in-law are trying to conceive/pregnant/infertile/doing the 19th round of ivf. This passing along of personal information as cocktail party small talk caused a rift between us. And in the end oftentimes put MT between his MIL and me. She would push for information, MT would cave, and then she'd share it with whomever she pleased. Not good. Fortunately MT's brother had a baby towards the end of our infertility journey, and it took much (ok, all) of the focus off of us and our never-ending struggle to become parents. As soon as my niece was born it became clear to me though that all of this energy that she had focused on her daughter-in-laws was now focused on grandchildren. And somehow this energy focus had doubled. Perhaps tripled. Her life has become these grandchildren. When we get together with MIL now it is apparent that unless you're part of the "under two" set- you are not interesting to her. She no longer speaks to us, she speaks through the grandchildren (see this post). She built a new house with a nursery and a playroom that would better accommodate the grandchildren. She subscribes to Parents Magazine. When we call her she talks about my niece (who she babysits four days a week). She is constantly buying clothes and toys for the girls. She sent out Christmas cards with a picture of my niece and LT on the front*. Perhaps you are now thinking, "ok T-shaped Girl, what is wrong with that? At least LT has a loving grandmother." The thing that gets to me about this situation is that she tends to overstep the boundaries of her role as grandmother. For example, I just received a package in the mail addressed to LT. Enclosed were some sweet gifts for LT from MIL's latest trip out West and also a gift and a card addressed to "Daddy" for Father's Day. From LT. This pisses me off. Perhaps I am being petty, but that's MY job! I've waited a long damn time for Father's Day and LT and I are going to pick out MT's card and gift. And we're going to plan the day. And enjoy the day. It's not her place to be buying the card and gift. Damnit. MIL needs a hobby. *I was pissed about the Christmas card because I hadn't yet mailed out our announcements. I had them printed and addressed, and she beat me to the punch and mailed her card first.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

One-Upmanship

We've been busy over here at the T household. Summer is upon us, and the days are slipping by so quickly. LT will be 15 months old tomorrow. Where does the time go? On a happy note, the tests and endless doctor visits have finally come to an end. We were finally referred to a specialist at the best Children's Hospital around- and LT received a clean bill of health. As long as she continues to grow on a curve, she is finished with the doctors. After hearing the news we immediately celebrated with ice cream. Lots of ice cream. Today we were out and about in the neighborhood (after a playdate with these fabulous girls), and I was pushing LT along in her pink plastic car. Because every girl needs a pink car. We stopped to talk to a few friendly neighbors. One of the neighbors is a mom who is also adopting from China (LID January 2006). As we are chatting, another neighbor sauntered by with her son as they are walking home from school. This neighbor is the kind of woman who always has to one-up you. If I say we are grilling burgers for dinner, she talks about how they are having steaks prepared by a personal chef. If we ran through the sprinkler today, she comments on how she worked it out with God to make it rain a lovely warm summer shower for her boys to frolic in. You get the picture. So One-Up Mama comments on how big LT is getting, and how great she looks. She also comments on how good I look. I thankherverymuch because, yes, in fact I have lost weight. I joke about how motherhood doesn't give me time to eat, and how I also lost weight while we were in China because I was eating so many delicious vegetables, and I was so active, blah, blah, small talk, small talk. One-Up Mama proceeds to remind us all (again) about how she studied in China for six months, and that she lost about 25 pounds while she was there. Because the food was hooorrrrribbbllllle. Oh, so awful. Apparently, One-Up Mama was so thin when she got home that her mother wanted her examined to see if she had a tapeworm. Because (gasp) who knows what you can catch over there! In *that* country! Annnndddd, her roommate's mother wanted their suitcases and belongings fumigated. Because you know, who knows what they brought home from *that* country. As this conversation is going on I can feel my face redden. The only thought rattling through my head was "hey jackass One-Up Mama, my baby is from China. You shut up now." Fortunately I was able to gather my wits about me and I breezily said, "oh, it's really not such a bad place. We really enjoyed it. We had such delicious food and saw so many great sights." I tried to be breezy, yet firm. It was a small, yet pointed comment. One-Up Mama did a little back-tracking, and the poor pre-adoptive neighbor made some sweet comment in an effort to smooth things over. Something to the effect of "ha ha, I think my mother burned my luggage when I came home from college in Iowa..." Oh. My.

Monday, May 15, 2006

The Little Things

Today was one of those really, really good days. The kind of day that sneaks up on you when you least expect it, but need it most. We didn't do anything special, in fact, our only appointment for the day was cancelled and we accomplished very little. MT left at 5am this morning, and what began as a grumpy, cloudy day turned out to be a sunny day full of giggles and smiles. Since deciding to stay home full time with LT, I have felt like I have been evolving - becoming a mother, then a stay-at-home mother, and then finding my groove as a mother. I'm a happier, calmer person now, and I finally feel confident as LT's mother. Even with the inevitable sacrifices that have come into play by going from two paychecks to one paycheck - it is worth it. LT has helped me to slow down. Stop and smell the roses, if you will (forgive me for the cliche). I mean this in many ways. I literally move slower when I'm holding her hand and walking to the kitchen. And everything takes so looooong to do with a toddler. I have also slowed down enough to sometimes see the world through LT's eyes. Today we discovered the joy of strawberry cream cheese. I had forgotten how delicious something as simple as strawberry cream cheese can be! LT was in heaven at breakfast. And I will be smearing strawberry cream cheese on green beans moving forward. Before the sun popped out of the clouds this morning, we read approximately five books. 100 times each. But tickles and nibbles and cuddles make reading board books even more fun than sitting down with a scintillating new novel. After the sun came out, we walked (*I* walked) around the block in LT's new pushcar. She smiled. She laughed. She waved to the neighbors. She held her arms straight out in pure glee as if to say "look Ma, no hands!" We did laps around the block, and everytime I stopped LT would sign "more, more, more." We looked at flowers and trees. Bathtime tonight was extra splashy. For some reason it was really funny when I poured water down her back. 50 times. And even funnier when I sang a silly song about pajamas, and then zipped up her sleeper with a funny sound. Again, and again and again. LT kept signing "more, more, more" funny zipper sound! Bedtime books were extra cuddly. We read "Mommy Hugs" four times, and "Pajama Time" only three times. Each rendition was funnier than the last. And then with a sweet kiss and a small cry of protest, LT was off to sleep. See what I mean? We didn't do much of anything today. But what a sweet day. Happy six months home LT!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

It's Our Day

Happy Mother's Day! Happy day to all of the moms and moms-to-be. It's a special, special day. As I lounged in bed this morning (note that I lounged. I haven't lounged in bed for MONTHS! I *lounged* until almost 10am!! 10am!!!), I reflected on this day and what it has meant to me in the past. I couldn't help it. I was listening to MT give LT a bath and the sound of her laughter and of the silly songs he was singing just made me feel very reflective. For the past five years, this day has been a source of hope, pain and then cautious hope again. When we first started to try to conceive, I felt hopeful on Mother's Day. Next year we'll be celebrating! Of course next year will be *my* year! My second Mother's Day, after the quest to have children began, was not so hopeful. I was panicked. Perhaps a little bit in denial. We had started infertility treatment and were about to embark on ivf that summer. I entered into what I now like to call "the dark days." My third Mother's Day post-ttc is a blur. I believe I spent the day in bed. Or close to bed. Perhaps on the couch. Or drunk. Who knows. It was a day that I wanted to avoid like the plague. I think MT fed me booze to keep me sane...or maybe to keep himself sane. On my fourth Mother's Day post-ttc, we had suffered at least two of our pregnancy losses. I was just starting to get fed up with my infertility and grasping at anything that could help me begin the long road to healing. I decided to celebrate what I did have at that time. No kids - but a loving mother and mother-in-law. MT and I invited both of them to stay with us for the weekend and enjoy an urban weekend of shopping and dining out. At least I felt a little in control. Sad, but a little in control. Last year I decided to embrace this idea again, and we invited my mom and mother-in-law to stay with us. This time we were fresh off of my mother's battle with breast cancer. She had stubbly hair that was growing back in, and I was grateful to still have a mother. MT and I ran in a breast cancer 5k in her honor, and she walked a full mile. I remember feeling full of hope, cautious hope, that the next Mother's Day would be different. And here we are. Six holidays later. I am a mom. And although I feel like a queen today, I'm not just thinking about myself. This is a day I share with another woman: LT's birthmother. She has been on my mind all day today. This morning I was honored with cards, presents, kisses and a fabulous brunch. I feel so loved, and I am so full of love. And so damn lucky. This evening we are going to honor the other mother in our family. We're going to head out to Chinatown and eat some dumplings for dinner. This will be about honoring LT's birthmother. I wish I could tell her how grateful I am.

Friday, May 12, 2006

To the Beach!

Remember a when I posted about MT's sabbatical? Well, we have finally decided on a destination. Southern California- here we come! We get to spend 2.5 weeks on the beach. Relaxing, eating, playing. Being a family. How lucky am I??

Thursday, May 04, 2006

I'm Tired

It's been a rough week. I miss MT. He has been gone since 5am Monday morning, and won't be home until tomorrow night. I'm counting the minutes. I mean, it's been great to spend so much time with LT. But, um, I'm tired. And she has been sick with a cold this week, and quite the grump I might add. On top of this we have out of town guests coming this weekend (after traveling last weekend and having guests here the weekend before). I just cleaned two bathrooms and I'm folding a mountain of laundry. My life, it is not glamorous. I've been a little off all day - I think the single parenting is wearing on me. I dropped LT off at a friend's place this morning, and then hopped in a cab to go to a doctor's appointment. LT has never stayed with this friend before and I was a little nervous about it. I was hoping that she'd be okay and not freak out the friend (who SO kindly offered to babysit!!)*. I was also running late. When the cab pulled up to the doctor's office, I pulled out my wallet and quickly handed one crisp bill to the cabbie. I eyeballed the meter, and did the math to calculate a tip. I opened the car door and waited for the cabbie to thumb through his roll of bills to give me change. Somewhere along the way my brain short circuited, and I went into autopilot. I was late and I needed to get out of the cab and into the doctor's office. I told the cabbie to keep the change, and ran out of the cab towards the office. I remember thinking to myself, "eh, he was an efficient cab driver, he deserves a nice tip." As I was waiting for the elevator I suddenly realized that I hadn't handed the driver a $10 bill. I gave him a $20 bill. To pay for a $6 cab ride. So yes, I gave him a big tip. A much bigger tip than I meant to. Oh well, I hope that it made his day. *Unfortunately LT did freak out on kind and generous friend and cried for 30 minutes after I left. Oh the guilt.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Dude. I Know Her Nose Is Running

Sorry for the long hiatus (again). If anyone is still out there reading...well, I'm sorry. I've been busy and generally uninspired lately. Our entire family descended upon us for LT's christening a few weekends ago, and then we traveled away for another family event the following weekend. Put this on top of MT traveling Monday through Friday for the past month (did you get that? I'm *alone* with LT for days on end)...and I'm tired. Anyway, I know people mean well when they see LT with snot running down her nose. They must think I don't see it, or perhaps that I'm a lousy mother, and they hand me a tissue. This happened three times today. A lady in the bagel shop, a friendly nurse at the hospital, and the checkout guy at the grocery store. Each time they were handing me a tissue approximately 1.2 seconds after I have already wiped her nose. Dude. I know her nose is running!!! She has a cold. Her nose is dripping like a faucet. I wipe it every 5 minutes it seems. And each time she turns her head, yells, screams and cries in protest. In LT's world I have become Public Enemy #1, the Lady with the Damn Kleenex. Can't we just let her nose run for a little bit? She clearly doesn't mind a little snot on her face. Wouldn't we all be a little happier? Wouldn't the world be a better place if we just let the snot flow freely??

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Huh. Time Does Heal Wounds...

I received a phone call last week from a friend. She was in tears after learning that she may never carry another pregnancy. This friend has a delightful 22-month old daughter who happened to BEAT a battle with cancer in the first few weeks of her short life. Yeah, this friend hasn't had it easy. We decided to go for a burger and a beer (yay! I was in a bar! Alone! Drinking a beer! Wearing a clean shirt with no snot!) and talk about what was going on. She had a lot of questions for me. As I sat there and listened, I suddenly found it hard to relate. It was a bizarre feeling. This friend had called me because to her, I represent infertility. And not just infertility, infertility gone bad. I'm the person on the wrong side of the odds. But the feelings she was expressing, well, they seemed, um, almost silly. Ok, ok, stop throwing things at me. She has every right to grieve and mourn the loss of her fertility and the opportunity to have a biological sibling for her son. I am not minimizing her feelings or struggle at all. But when she was saying things like, "did you feel like you were not whole? Or not a real woman?" or "I told my husband to just leave me and find someone with a functioning uterus," it sounded kinda silly to me. But here's the thing...I remember expressing similar sentiments* in the midst of my own battle with infertility. Oh my, did I sit myself down on my couch and eat cookies, drink wine and cry about being "defective" and a "freak of nature." I told MT to leave me. I gained twenty pounds muttering these phrases. Looking back on this now, it seems like a LIFETIME ago. I really had to work hard through the course of the conversation to remind myself of how I felt in those dark pre-adoption days. I want to help my friend, but it was hard to take myself back to that sad place. I feel like a different person now, and it makes me sad to think about the person I was, and all of that time we wasted in pursuit of a biological child. My greatest desire was to be pregnant. I wanted to be pregnant more than anything. Now I can't quite recall why it mattered so much to me. Even feeling this way though, I still don't think we could have taken a different journey to get to our decision to adopt. We had to take that path, do a certain number of treatment cycles, survive three pregnancy losses and endless doctor visits. People told me that I'd be okay, I'd survive, and that I'd even be happy again one day. I couldn't/wouldn't believe them, until I was ready to listen. When I sat down to write this, I thought I'd end up concluding something about my "only regret" being that we could have gotten here faster, wasted less time, moved on earlier, etc. And I am sad about the time that was wasted. But I don't think I have any regrets. I wish I hadn't been subjected to the emotional trauma and grief of infertility, but if I hadn't...LT would not be my daughter. It's still a tough concept for me to reconcile. *To my credit I never said anything about not being a "whole woman" though because that really does sound silly. I don't get that comment.