Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thankful... (There really is some thankfulness in this post. Just wait for it...) :)

I've always enjoyed the holiday season. I love turkey; I love gravy; I love dessert; I love trimming the tree; I love opening and giving presents; etc. etc. etc. But, there's always been a part of me that dreads certain holiday moments.

My family has a tradition of going around the dining table and telling everyone what we are thankful for. Not that I'm ungrateful, but this part of Thanksgiving has been a struggle for me since the day I learned of my infertility. Of course I was grateful for my family, my job, yadda yadda. But, all of that paled in comparison to the deeper feelings I carried inside me. Even hearing my parents say "I'm thankful for my three beautiful children" sent daggers into my heart. Silly, right? I mean, of course they're thankful for their children, and I wouldn't expect them to feel otherwise! But, just thinking that I might not ever get to say those words was enough to send me reeling internally.

And Christmas time... well, let's just say there are certain aspects of Christmas that made it difficult... namely Mary. Yeah, you heard me right - Mary, mother of Jesus. I mean, COME ON GOD! Mary can get pregnant and doesn't even have to bat an eyelash. No man needed. Just sit, get visited by an angel, BOOM - PREGNANT! If that's not enough to make an infertile woman cringe, I don't know what is.

I hid it well enough. I'd give my thanks and then settle right into normal dinnertime conversation; I'd go to church, or read the Christmas story, but under my skin I was crawling with resentfulness to God. Who does he think he is? Why did that girl in my dorm get pregnant and toss her newborn baby into the dumpster to die? What did I do to be cursed so bad?

There are plenty of women out there struggling this holiday season, in the same way that I struggled every holiday for the past ten years. It breaks me to think of that. I almost didn't post this blog, because so many of my "blog" friends are still living with the sting of infertility. And, I know how much it drove me CRAZY! to hear people try to cheer me up, or tell me their happy stories. Every so often, I would share my pain with people, and I would get told "you'll get your baby someday" or "It's all in God's hands" or "One day you will have quite a testimony." My mom was the worst offender. And everytime she made a comment like this it just made my skin crawl. I tried to explain to her why I didn't want to hear it. It's like going up to someone who's just taken a bullet to the gut and saying "Don't worry, one day you won't feel that pain anymore, and then you'll have quite a testimony." Yeah, great... ONE DAY... SOME DAY... those words do not heal the pain of TODAY... RIGHT NOW!!!! Every part of me was screaming in pain on the inside, but I had to smile and nod and go home in a foul mood.

I knew they were right. Obviously, the pain would go away once I was healed of my problem. Right? I wouldn't still ache the way I did to carry a child when I was holding one in my arms. Right?

Yes, and no. I've healed. I am able to look forward to holidays now, and I am happier than I've ever been. But, I'm forever changed by my experience with infertility. Every so often, those phantom pains strike me... not the "I want to be a mommy" pains. That wound is closed up, never to be opened again. But now, there is a strange pang of guilt where the pain used to be. I feel bad spreading my happiness around on the internet for people who are struggling like I was to see. I feel guilty that I ever harbored such resentment to God. I feel guilty that I felt so horrible on holidays that I was spending with people I love. I feel guilty that I was ever jealous of someone else's child/pregnancy. And, I feel guilty that those feelings creep in every so often still. Yes, I have a child who I love more than life itself. But, I am still infertile; I still can't get pregnant; I still have to jump through a million hoops to bring my daughter a brother or sister.

But, (and this is the part where you might want to stop reading if you don't want to hear a bunch of mooshy, gooshy thankfulness) my mom was right. And I knew she was, even then... I just couldn't deal with it then. I am grateful this year... for so many things.

  • Meerkat -- How can I possibly express to you the thankfulness I feel for you? I've tried, on numerous occassions to put my love for you into words, but none of them can quite express the way I feel. I LOVE you! Don't ever ever doubt that for one second. You are the reason I'm baking this holiday season. You're the reason I want to get a real tree instead of our dollar store version. You're the reason I almost stood up in the church the other day to "give my testimony" (and believe me, that's saying something). You, my little fuzzy girl, are the reason that I'm smiling so big this year. I am more thankful for you than I know how to say.

  • My husband -- Wow! I love you! You've been a rock for me to lean on so many times during our relationship. You've helped me get through some things that I know were even difficult for you to get through. I love the way you look at me. I love the way you speak to me. I love everything about you. You've given me so much joy these last several years. I can't imagine my life without you. There is no better husband on this planet, and I'm 100% sure of that. We don't fight. We have fun. We share so much love. You're the best father I've ever seen. You share in all the housework and duties. And, I know that this seems natural to you, but there are so many men who are not like you. I really found my hidden treasure when I found you.

  • Infertility -- While I hate you, infertility. While I want to kick you in your no-no spot, I'm thankful for you this year. Without you, infertility, I wouldn't have my baby girl. And, if it took going through all that pain to get to this baby, I'd do it again 10,000,000,000 times.
  • A -- You are so thoughtful. You've sent us pictures of Meerkat's half-brother and sister. You've kept in contact with us. You've given us the gift of parenthood. I am so very thankful for you this, and every, year. I hope that you are having a wonderful, peaceful Thanksgiving and Christmas this year. Our thoughts are constantly with you. <3

  • Family -- I have a pretty unique family. They keep things interesting. I'm so grateful that I have them in my life. My brother, my sister, my mom, my grandma, my mother and father in-law, my brothers and sisters in-law, my nieces, my nephews -- I'm so grateful for you all. I love you with all of my heart. You make life enjoyable, just by being so dog-gone funny and sweet.

  • Father -- this is a unique one, and he gets his own category. Dad, there are aspects of you and your life that I'm not thankful for, but you know that. It should come as no surprise to you that I'm angry for some of the things you've put our family through. But, I'm thankful this year. I am thankful that you are not drinking right now... and I hope that continues. I'm thankful that you have been being nice to mom... I'm thankful that you're getting to see your grandchildren. Please know somewhere in your heart that I'm thinking of you always. Yes, I'm mad at you. That won't change. But, I'm thankful you're my dad.

  • The standards -- Job, health (when I'm in good health), and home. I'm very happy that I have all of these things. They sure do make life a lot more liveable. :)

Now, let's get these holidays started. I'm ready to make up for lost time!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Four Month Stats!

Weight: 15 lbs. 2 oz.
Length: 25 1/4 inches
Head Circumfrence: 16.5 inches
(She also just tried rice cereal for the first time recently. You can tell by the picture how happy she was about it.)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

4 Months!

Dear Meerkat:

Well, you're four months old now! Actually, you turned four months old a few days ago, but as has been tradition since the day you were born, mommy was VERY sick on your four month birthday. I had a fever of 102, chills, nausea, aches, headache... the whole shebang. The doctor said it was related to the infection. It still hasn't cleared up. But - I'm feeling much better today. Anyway, let's stop talking about Mommy and start talking about you.

You're amazing! Every day, you just get smarter and smarter. I truly think we're in the "golden age" of babydom right now. You're so happy, all the time. Even after you have slept 10-12 straight hours without eating. That's right - 12 hours!!!! You are such a good little sleeper. You go to bed around 8-10 every evening, and you'll sleep until 8am or later. Then, when you wake up, you just lay there looking around until someone picks you up. That's when the smiles begin. You act like you've missed us so much all night, and you just smile and coo. Then, you have your bottle and play for a couple hours. Then you nap. And, the cycle continues.

Something we love is when you stretch so hard that your little legs stiffen out and your back arches. You usually do this most after being unswaddled in the mornings. We still swaddle you at night, because you like it, and it helps you sleep better, as you still don't quite have complete control over your arm's muscle movements.

But, we won't be swaddling you much longer. Why? Because, you can ROLL OVER! You rolled over for the first time at Grandma K's house. Mommy, Daddy, Grandma, and Uncle Joey got to see you do it! Then, you stopped for awhile. But the other day, you started doing it again, more frequently. You only roll one direction right now: Back to Front to the right side. And, since you hate tummy time, once you get rolled over, you get upset because you're on your tummy. I don't want you rolling over in your sleep while you're swaddled, so the swaddle weaning begins now.

(This is just you rolling from your side to your tummy, but I don't have any other "roll-over" pictures just yet. I hope to have a video to post soon!)

You are much more vocal now. You squeal in delight, and make this little "OOOoooOOOoooOOOooo" noise. The only consonant sound you can make right now is "g." And, you just started gurgling a bit when you coo. Your laughs are bigger and heartier. You LOVE to play, especially with Daddy. It's already very evident that you're a Daddy's girl. You are so happy when he comes around, and you're always looking over at him when Mommy is holding you.

You still don't grab for toys, but we've noticed you are taking more interest in them, and you will bat at them. You can hold a toy if we give it to you, but you won't take it on your own.

Oh my, baby girl. I still can't believe how quick time is flying by. I wish I could slow time down for this year and keep you my tightly swaddled little baby for a while longer. But you're not having any of it. Your growing all over! Your little feet are getting longer.

Your hair is growing in thicker and curlier. I can't wait to see you with little curls all over. s:) You don't fit in 0-3 month clothing anymore (though we can still squeeze you in a couple sleepers that were made "big" for their size). You can even wear a lot of 6-9 month clothing. I can't wait to see what you weigh at your doctor's appointment next week. Like I said earlier, you're getting smarter and smarter. It's obvious that you're learning things rapidly. And, while I do want things to go slowly, I'm also very excited to watch you reach your next milestones: rolling from tummy to back, crawling, grabbing, playing, teething, pulling up, walking... my my my! I'm getting ahead of myself. It just seems like things are going so quickly, I know those moments will be here soon.

You make every one of my days worth living, Meerkat. You have made our lives so much better. I can't wait to see what you do with your life, little girl. I can't wait to sit in the bleachers, chairs, sidelines, wings, audience and root you on! I'm so excited to watch you grow and develop your talents and likes month by month for the rest of your life. Thank you for being our daughter, Meerkat.

I love you more than anything.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

November 1, 2010

Okay, sorry this post is so late, but I'm in the thick of the semester, and grading, real estate, and teaching has me all tied up most of the time. Anyway... let's move on to the reason for this post:

We're Finalized!!!

Sunday morning, we left for our 8 hour car trip to SC. A lot of states will allow phone/video finalization if the family lives far away, but SC does apparently does not... even though we asked several times. I was happy about the idea of finalizing in the courtroom; I was not happy about the idea of driving 8 hours. I don't like being trapped in a car, and riding in the backseat next to the carseat for the four hours I wasn't driving, in our tiny car, was ridiculous! It truly is like being caught in a trap. I could barely move.

Anyway, after we arrived, late at night, we ordered pizza, showered, and went to bed. Our court hearing was scheduled for very early in the morning. I slept okay, except that I was sick again... but a different type of sick this time. (UTI, bladder, and kidney infections). For whatever reason, anytime something important is about to happen, my body loses control. I've always been one to get sick if someone just breathes in my direction. But to get three severe infections in such a quick amount of time, just before a big event... GIVE ME A BREAK!!!

Thankfully, I was on some pain medicine for the severe kidney pain, and I was on antibiotics for the rest. This kept me from running to the restroom every two minutes at the courthouse the next day.

Speaking of the courthouse... ;)

Once there, we met our guardian ad litem and attorney. They were both very nice. Then, they called us into the courtroom. Of course, just before going into the courthouse, Meerkat decided to spit up all over her dress. Thankfully we got it all cleaned up. But then, she decided it was time to be fussy. So, all through the hearing, she cried and cried and cried. I felt a little bit like I was under the microscope, because I wanted to be the "perfect mommy" who soothes her baby by just cooing at her... but that didn't happen. She wanted to be bounced, and rocked, and wiggled, and stood up. But, in a serious court hearing, it's difficult to do those things and pay attention. We managed. And the judge and stenographer were smiling at her as she played and fussed.

Nick answered his questions first, and I felt the tears behind my eyes as he talked about how Meerkat "is the best thing that's ever happened to us." So, I knew I was going to have trouble when it was my turn...

Oh did I! I was fine for the marriage questions. I was fine for the nursery questions. I was fine for the education and finances questions. But when she asked me "Why do you want to adopt this child?" I couldn't hold it back. I don't even remember exactly what I said, but it's a very emotional question to answer. It's hard to express to someone the love I feel for Meerkat. It's indescribable. That child has my heart wrapped up in her tiny fingers, and I'm so thankful.

At the end, the smiling judge explained his happiness for us, and told us that he couldn't wait to sign the papers. He was going "to make legal, what is already true," -- that we are Meerkat's parents.

So, dear judge: thank you from the bottom of our hearts for being so sweet and happy. You made our court experience easy and stress-free. Your joy for us was evident, and helped us to feel comfortable and happy.

Finally, it was over. Our adoption journey (the first one anyway) is over. Meerkat is our child, in every way but genetics. So, back to home we headed. We stopped off for a quick bite to eat, as a celebration. Meerkat enjoyed her fingers while we ate.

And then, we drove 8 hours home. By the end of the car trip, we were all getting cranky and tired. Meerkat hated the last hour of the trip.

She didn't want to be in that carseat anymore... And, I can't blame her. It was a 16 hour trip that felt continuous, since we pretty much woke up and got back in the car.

Despite the long, frustrating car ride, it was a wonderful trip. I would do it again today for Meerkat's sake. I would do anything for that baby. My daughter. :D