Monday, August 31, 2015

#Microblog Mondays: I Don't Want To Get Pregnant

Seems kind of backwards, right? But that was what I found myself saying, while half-naked in stirrups and pretty close to blubbering in my appointment with my OB/GYN on Friday, when he asked:

"So what is your goal with regulating your period?"

Interesting question, because I somehow thought that miracles would happen and after a lifetime of wonky cycles when not on the Pill and what seemed like a lifetime of trying to wrangle my body into doing something it just DID NOT want to do, it turns out that my cycles will not regulate themselves. And now, I do nothing but worry that despite all the evidence otherwise, I might be pregnant and pickling my baby with wine, or pregnant with an ectopic in my remaining tube and all set to pass out from internal bleeding where no one will find me and I will die alone. I need to be on birth control of some kind. (And possibly address what seems to be burgeoning anxiety.)

"I want regular periods and/or at least know that I am not pregnant. I don't want to even think it's possible that I'm pregnant anymore."

I was not pregnant (go figure), but was in the doctor's office because I've pretty much been spotting since July 25th and haven't had a proper Day One since June 25th, which seems... not right (and definitely hampers quality of life). My new doctor doesn't want me on the regular estradiol-based Pills because of my sneaky peeky heterozygous prothrombin mutation, which puts me at 2-5X risk of deep vein thrombosis, plus the whole migraine with aura thing... too much of a stroke/blood clot risk.

Soooo, my options were: the norplant thing in your arm (no), IUD (not if I can help it, I think my uterus has had enough invasions thankyouverymuch), progesterone-only pills, or Depo Provera. Which I didn't even know still existed. But it does, and sounds lovely. A shot every three months? Effective birth control despite my completely ineffective reproductive system? Dwindling period that eventually pretty much disappears? Yes, please.

I barely made it through the waiting room filled with happy pregos without spilling over, and then cried my eyes out in the car. I never thought that I would be begging to know that I am NOT pregnant at any time in the past six years. I realize that I am effectively ruling out that "miracle" pregnancy that some people are so sure will happen now that we're in the adoption process, despite all the incredible evidence that no miracle will be happening in this uterus, ever. I am okay with that, although feeling guilty and sad and traumatized by all my experiences.

But it's completely, utterly, inescapably true... I don't want to get pregnant. Not anymore. I want to enjoy my paper pregnancy without the fear of something going awry. Because in my mind and to my experience, no double line came with happiness that lasted. But hopefully my pretty pink binder filled with signed and submitted paperwork will. And I can relax into being an expectant mom this way a whole lot easier if I know it is completely impossible to become one, albeit briefly most likely, the other way.

Want to read more #Microblog Mondays, ones probably shorter than this one? Go here and enjoy!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Letting Go of the Books

This stack of books has lived in the little room, aka the baby's room, for YEARS.

The bottom four were gifts from a friend who had been on the infertility rollercoaster, and then chose to adopt from South Korea and now is the mother of two amazing school-aged children.

The bottom one, The Complete Organic Pregnancy, caused me so much anxiety. I read it cover to cover the summer I was briefly pregnant, although now I can't remember if I read it the summer of the Ectopic or the summer of the Miscarriage, but nonetheless I thought maybe we'd crossed over into an infertility success story. It scared the bejeezus out of me. I finished reading it and was left feeling convinced that everything in my house, down to the WALLS, was toxic and a threat to the tiny thing that might (but didn't) become our baby. I feel like I did a pretty good job checking stuff for off-gassing and replacing plastic with glass and as much organic as we can afford BEFORE reading that book, but afterwards I felt like I may as well be living in a superfund site. Possibly created by myself.

The top one I bought myself, in a Barnes & Noble in Burlington, Massachusetts, during the ectopic debacle. I liked it because it started at 5 weeks, whereas many books start at 6, 7, or even 8. I was accompanying Bryce on a business trip the summer before starting my job split between the 8th grade and the 9th grade, and so while I had fun reading with me, I also had earth science study guides and algebra study guides and was boning up on 9th grade curriculum. (I also liked this book because Great Expectations was required reading for 9th grade, so it seemed appropriate.) I hung out in the hotel while Bryce worked, trying to move around housekeeping's schedule, taking advantage of the sunny courtyard with umbrella tables outside, and occasionally venturing out for a movie or the bookstore (and hoping I didn't get lost on the way back). We had received a call on the way that our bloodwork was continuing to take a wonky path upward, that we were at 172 after our last beta that was 75, and while I took that to be a good sign they were not very optimistic. It had been three days, not two, and that was triple but still way low for 5 1/2 weeks, where I was at the time. I spent one day having a conversation with our doctor at the time, listening to the various outcomes that we were to be prepared for: blighted ovum, unhealthy embryo just waiting to miscarry, ectopic pregnancy. At the time I was terrified of ectopic, but knew it was super rare, and I had conceived through IVF, where they put the embryo IN YOUR UTERUS. It was by far the long shot, but a possibility they wanted me to monitor myself for -- bleeding, one-sided pain, shoulder pain (sign of internal bleeding), etc. I was stubborn. "But it could also just be an odd beginning to a fine pregnancy, right?" I was told that was the longest of long shots, more so than the ectopic. Hmm.

So, I hung on to my hope and bought the pregnancy book and a Fit Pregnancy magazine, I sucked on my ginger candies, I peed on sticks for the joy of seeing "PREGNANT" fill the screen. And all that time my embryo was tucked deep in my fallopian tube, having been sucked up by backwards-facing villi. But I would believe it when I saw it. I would read about where I was developmentally, be happy when I hit 6 weeks at the end of the trip and the little nugget was the size of a sesame seed, and look forward to all the exciting developments to come, all the fruit-based analogies that I knew would be mine.

But they weren't. We went for bloodwork again and we were at 492, high enough to warrant an ultrasound in a few days but still low enough to be told this was a no-go. And then the ultrasound showed my uterus to be empty. And then my bloodwork came back over a thousand, and off to the perinatal ultrasound place we went... and the rest is history.

I didn't regret buying the book. I used it when we got pregnant the following year, when I barely made it to sesame seed again and decided that my uterus could only handle foods that cause diverticulitis, and that I would never ever look at the books again until I was at least 8 weeks pregnant and we'd seen some kind of heartbeat.

You know how that worked out.

So these books sat in a drawer, and I slowly tossed the pregnancy magazines, but left the books just in case.

And then justincase became, I'll hold on to them until someone becomes pregnant who I feel is worthy of these books that I've held for so long, worthy of the momentous step that is letting go of pregnancy, of the possibility of pregnancy, accepting that those are books that won't be for me. Ever. (Ever is pretty final, but so is our prognosis for achieving a pregnancy that is healthy for everyone involved at this point, so I feel pretty good about saying EVER.)

I packed them up (minus the anxiety-producing organic pregnancy one) yesterday and gave them to friends of ours.

These friends have been slogging on the infertility path, much more privately than we have ever managed our journey. They have endured so much, and suffered through losses of their own. The last time the had a post-cycle (post-miscarriage) meeting with their fertility doctor, they were told that egg donor or adoption were their best bets for building their family at this point.

They got pregnant on a break. So far, so good, although cautious optimism is the name of the game. They were graduated from the fertility clinic. They wait and cross fingers and hope that everything turns out.

They got the books.

It was surprisingly difficult at first to part with them, to say that that hope is gone. We are thrilled, beyond thrilled to be pursuing adoption and building our family in this way. But not ever being pregnant is a big fat loss to me, even though I understand that it is not for me and that parenthood is the ultimate goal. There was an emptiness felt when those books left my possession. There was a deep sadness, one that didn't last but was profound, in transferring that hope over to another couple, a couple that was told "probably never" as we never were, but so far are successful. In knowing that happy endings can happen, incredible long-shot success stories are out there, but not for us. Not in this way, anyway.

This is not jealousy. This is in the category of "Happy for You, Sad for Me," but with a twist... because I'm more sad at the loss of that dream and the physical representation of it. However, I removed those books from a room that is actively being turned into a nursery for a baby that quite frankly could arrive before theirs is born. That room is full of hope in a way it never was before, and removing those books, those reminders of a dead-end pathway is a GOOD thing. They don't belong in that room anymore. But it's not really surprising that it brought to the forefront, no matter how briefly, those feelings of loss and a dream that died. It's so complicated when these feelings are mixed in with joy for friends who made it when we didn't, so far, and fear for shoes dropping out of the sky. I hope they don't. I hope they've made it.

I feel better today, and I still need to find a home for the Organic Pregnancy guide. I am excited to move on, and definitely excited and hopeful for our friends. I sincerely hope that everything continues to go well. There is a strong heartbeat, but many hurdles to cross still. And I can understand feeling robbed of the innocent joy and anticipation that fertile people get to hold, where all we feel is a sense of waiting for another shoe to drop. A feeling that we have niggling in the back of our minds for adoption, as well, but since we have no experience with adoption setbacks, we can be a little like the fertiles on that one, although wary that for us, when bad things are possible, bad things have tended to happen.

Goodbye, pregnancy books. Time to leave our baby's room, make space for more things for a real live baby that is on its way to us, time to continue nesting during this bizarre waiting period where we don't have physical reminders that a baby is on its way, or a defined timeline for when that may happen. But it's happening, nonetheless...and I have to expect that these moments of loss for what could have been but wasn't will crop up. It doesn't mean I am less happy. It means I am more human.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Care and Keeping of Infants

There were two classes that we needed to take post-home-study -- Infant CPR and Infant Care. Well, I should clarify -- we needed proof of Infant CPR via the certificates in our file, but I found that Infant Care was on the "honor system." Which is slightly terrifying to me... shouldn't that be also required? I know I felt like I would feel better being "schooled" in infant care.

The CPR class was relatively easy -- about four hours on a Saturday, learning how to keep blood pumping to adults, children, and infants in crisis. Our agency had offered an infants-only class in the spring for adoptive parents only, but sadly we missed that one due to a business trip Bryce went on, so we had to do the whole deal with the Red Cross. I guess it's not a bad thing to have children and adults too, so we can save each other in the event of an emergency as well as our tiny person.

I dreaded having to do an infant care class, not just for adoptive parents (I didn't see anything on the schedule for the agency), at a hospital with a bunch of pregos. I did not want to do it, but knew I would if that was our only option. Because it has been a long, long time since I have taken care of a baby, and I have very little experience with fresh newborns.

Luckily, we have a friend who is an OB nurse at a local hospital, the one where I wanted to deliver once upon a time, and she is a) a nurse educator, b) postpartum care, and c) newborn care. BOOM! She had access to all the materials and could speak to what the hospital does with those bundles of joy. So, two Saturdays ago we drove out to her house, had a 1:1 infant care class, and a delicious BBQ dinner with her family (her husband is Bryce's best friend, and they have two lovely school-aged children).

It was amazing to have all that time and all the hospital-education-approved materials explained by someone who was a) incredibly smart and engaging, b) knew we were coming to this experience through adoption and with some fear based on loss that we will screw it up somehow, c) completely not judgmental, and d) got our sense of humor. Not having an audience was fabulous as well.

We started with the basics of what a brand-spanking-new baby would look and act like, if we manage to be lucky enough to be there for that stage, and then moved right through all sorts of things to watch out for in the weeks to come.

Some interesting facts and terrific pieces of advice from our personal expert:

- The first two hours is the most wide-eyed and alert
- At six hours, the baby becomes SUPER sleepy
- There's this thing called Transition where the baby is learning how to do circulation on its own, since you know, no more mama ship attached
- Babies can be hairy at birth from the lanugo, a type of fine, furlike hair that grows in utero to help protect it from the fluid-filled environment. Their first poo, that icky sticky meconium, can have that fur in it from swallowing shed lanugo in the amniotic fluid. SO GROSS but also kind of cool, and good to know so that if my baby poops a sticky hairball I shouldn't fear he/she's a werewolf.
- All babies, regardless of race, are pink upon birth because of the high level of red blood cells. Babies with darker skin gradually get darker, and apparently on boys you can get a preview of whatever lovely shade they will stabilize to by looking at the scrotum. I have no idea if there's a similar preview for girls. Interesting stuff.
- Jaundice is actually caused by those red blood cells that make babies pink, when they can't break down properly. LOTS of babies get jaundice to some degree, but severe jaundice is some scary stuff. We were told you can see the yellowed jaundice look in the eyes, nose, and forehead first, but if it dips to the diaper line you need to call a pediatrician STAT. The bilirubin lights help, and are sort of like a tanning booth but healthier. Sunlight apparently helps break down the red blood cells, too.
- If your baby was exposed to cigarette smoking in utero, they will likely be smaller, skinnier, have less vernix (that waxy white stuff on newborns that is like a waterproof coating to protect baby skin from the fluidy environment), and so drier skin. Interestingly, late babies also have drier skin because the vernix starts breaking down at full term and so the skin loses its protective layer.
- Car seats apparently have expiration dates, look on the back and always check before buying/accepting. They need to be replaced if they are in an accident greater than a little fender bender at a stoplight.
- Fontanels are creepy, creepy little things, but can tell you if your baby is sick. There's the big one up front shaped like a diamond (anterior) and then the back one/ones (I think it's more than one). Don't poke it! The fontanel should be flat, not bulging (indicating swelling in the brain) or sunken (indicating dehydration). They should close between 9-12 months. These creep me out.
- NO LOTION for the first two weeks of baby's life! Their sebaceous glands are learning how to work.
- SUPER TIP: Keep your meds (yours too, not just baby's) in a kitchen cabinet-- the bathroom is too moist (argh, was so trying to avoid using that word) and has too much temperature fluctuation. At each baby doctor appointment, ask what updated dosages are applicable for things like Tylenol, as they are weight dependent. Write them on a piece of masking tape inside the cabinet door with the meds they go with. You will never be up in the middle of the night with a fevery baby flipping through your notes from the appointment again! :)
- Correct terms for babies (I found this interesting):
  BABY: generic term
  NEWBORN: 0-30 days old
  INFANT: 1-12 months old
  TODDLER: 1-3 yrs old
  PRESCHOOL: 3-5 yrs old
  SCHOOL-AGE: 5-9 yrs old
  PRETEEN: 10-12 yrs old
  ADOLESCENT: 13-18 yrs old
- While length is subjective (depends on head shape, straightened knees, who's measuring), length and head circumference should be proportional.

- NYS Law says that a newborn WILL have:
  - vitamin K injection
  - eye prophylaxis (for gonorrhea, usually arithromiacin)
  - Hepatitis B (but up to birth mother, can get at week one if declined)
  - Newborn screening after 24 hours of good feeding but by 5 days/before discharge, screening via heel stick for 50+ metabolic disorders including PKU, results go to your pediatrician.
  - hearing loss test
  - congenital heart disease screening.
- I don't know what other states require, but these are all recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, NYS makes it law to have the heel-stick screenings done.

- Bulb syringe -- awesome for clearing out stuff from nose and mouth for choking, the cheaper the better because it's more flexible, you need to replace it because that thing can't be totally cleaned out and gets NASTY. "Little Noses" saline drops are helpful to clear blocked noses.
- Sneezing is normal for a newborn, babies going through withdrawal sneeze more
- under armpit is the best for taking baby's temperature, rectal is no longer recommended as people were perforating baby's bowel (AAAAACK). 100.5 is considered a fever for infants, but NO fever is acceptable for under 8 weeks, something is wrong and off to the doctor/ER you go. (Interesting fact... under armpit isn't best for adults because of hair and deodorant which can interfere with accuracy. Those fancy temporal ones are expensive and not accurate on babies, so waste of money. Get the regular $6 digital drug store one, it's fine for oral and armpit.)
- This sounds so funny to me, but makes sense: Keep a chart of when you change diapers for your baby for the first weeks, because the doctor will ask you about it and it helps to know how many pee diapers, how many poo.
- When you swaddle your baby, put them Foot to Foot -- baby's feet to the foot of the crib. This way, if they kick off their swaddle and have scary loose blanket, when they scooch (because they do apparently scooch all the time), they tend to scooch UP. This way they scooch their little faces and breathing apparatus AWAY from the scary loose blanket.
- Co Sleeping is different from bedsharing. Co Sleeping is now recommended, that you have the baby in your room with you (but in a separate bassinet or cosleeper contraption that you can't crush them in) for the first few months. This is because there are better response times to distress (whether because of changing, hunger, or respiratory distress) and EVERYONE sleeps better, which makes everyone happier and more sane.
- Bottle feeding: switch side to side to mimic breast feeding; don't lay the baby flat to bottle feed, feed them at an incline as you would with the boob, you can do skin to skin while bottle feeding to get that same effect, and keep the bottle upright so the baby works to intake liquid and doesn't get too much. Breastfeeding they have to work for it, it's good for gastrointestinal stuff and if you are breastfeeding AND bottle feeding it won't be easier for the baby to get flow with the bottle. (This all made me feel better about being 90% decided that I won't induce lactation, which is heartbreaking to me but necessary for my sanity.)
- Once baby can turn over, you don't have to worry about belly sleeping anymore.
- This one was AWESOME: Wear your baby in public places like the grocery store. Strangers feel somehow free to touch your baby in a stroller or the carrier in your cart, but rarely will they touch a baby kangaroo'd to your body. Genius.
- The reason why they say breastfed babies are at a lower risk for SIDS is because breastfed babies wake up more, sleep less deeply than formula fed babies. More checks on a breastfed baby. (Pretty sure I'll be checking my baby a zillion times).
- Unless prescribed/recommended explicitly by the doctor/hospital, DO NOT use those wedges for sleeping in an inclined position. Inclined sleep can cause breathing problems. Breathing problems scare the shit out of me. Also, breathing mat monitors like An.gel Car.e are not at all necessary unless your child has apnea and it was recommended explicitly. You can do it, but it's not necessary. It will likely go off all the time and prevent everyone from sleeping, but not necessarily prevent SIDS. Apnea is different from SIDS. Everything baby-not-breathing makes me not breathe and freak out, so I'm going to stop talking about this one RIGHT NOW.

I did actually freak out about the not breathing and all the things that can totally kill your baby. The anxiety was a little high. At one point, our friend's husband said, "You're not going to kill your baby, don't worry," and although we didn't say it then out loud, it turned out BOTH Bryce and I were like, "yeah, well, we don't have a great track record of that so far." Not real live fully formed babies, but potential babies, HAVE NOT DONE WELL IN OUR CARE. This is different though...but this is an area where our past trauma and tragic experiences inform our anxiety level in this new adventure.

Lastly, some hilarious pictures of diapering and swaddling. We got some great advice here, such as if you have a boy and you are changing him and the penis becomes erect, GET THAT DIAPER BACK OVER THAT THING BECAUSE IT'S GOING TO PEE AT YOU! So, I guess you have to be very aware and like a ninja when you change boys. Apparently girls can pee at you too, but there's no warning. Excellent.

Picture Storytime!

Baby doll baby's butt in the air, after we've used the diaper to wipe off giant (imaginary) chunks of poo and folded that nasty shit over so it doesn't make us gag, in theory
Wiping baby doll's butt, front to back, then putting that wipe in the folded dirty diaper so everything contaminated is contained, supposedly all neat and tidy
Pointing out that poop can hide way up the crack, and if it's a blowout you need to wipe down baby's back. So have a boatload of wipes at the ready, apparently. Also not pictured: Have a new diaper new and ready to grab.

Bryce giving it a solid go

Me wiping down fake baby butt crack


We got step-by-step directions AND got to take baby home with us along with some diapers and swaddle blankets, for practice.

Step one, put baby on two blankets with the top corner folded down on each, short side to your left, long side to your right.
Fold the top blanket, right corner little fold around baby's neckline.
Fold the next corner and first big swath of blanket up to the opposite shoulder, tuck it in under baby good and tight.
First tuck the top left little corner around the neckline on the other side, then pull up the big corner that's left at the bottom
And tuck that corner around tightly to the other side so that baby is a tightly wound burrito...
Then do it all over with the blanket underneath for a snug, secure double wrap!
I concentrate real hard on my tight wrapping  skills, and discover to my displeasure that cellulite is sprouting on my upper arms... 
My beautiful handiwork! Trying to focus on  baby burrito and not the awful state of my upper arms. A struggle many moms  have, so I understand...
Proud mama of a fake baby burrito
Bryce captures my "bitch face" perfectly. Forgot what was said to elicit my facial wrath, but it must have been bad... :) I'm sure this face won't arise at 3 in the morning ever. 

There you have it--our infant care class! We actually do feel super prepared and have done our homework, with the swaddling at least. On a nonsquirming infant without flailing limbs. Although Bryce did try to swaddle one of our cats. Many many thanks to our wonderful RN friend, who made this a fun and hands-on experience where we felt cared for. We definitely wouldn't have gotten this individualized attention (or cheeseburgers) from the hospital class.

Next steps... swaddling and diapering a real, live, squirmy, shrieking baby at 3 am, sometime not too far in the future!

PS: Any errors in factual stuff are mine from frantically jotting down notes, not our friend's. 

Monday, August 24, 2015

#Microblog Mondays: Carrying My "Baby"

A moment of joy in the insanity that is the giant baby store where you buy buy...

Meet my "baby" -- a plush football with a plush beachball head (probably the size head I would have produced had I been able), stuffed into the incredibly comfortable Ergobaby carrier I tried on and registered for. Probably a bit lighter than an actual infant (ha!) but in that moment I felt nothing but joy, thinking of the days to come walking around with my baby attached to me, carrying him or her in the only way I am able.

Want to read more #Microblog Mondays? Go here and enjoy!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Weighing in on "God and Jetfire"

A few weeks ago, I was reading my guilty-pleasure PE.OPLE magazine, where I actually get a surprising number of book recommendations that turn out to be good (and a few that are mediocre, even a couple downright stinkers). I saw a relatively large amount of space being given to God and Jetfire: Confessions of a Birth Mother by Amy Seek. The cover was blue water, and there was a partially-visible woman in a bikini underwater. It looked intriguing.

It piqued my interest for a few reasons. One, I love reading memoirs. It's like a voyeuristic peek into someone else's life, and can give you perspective on your own. A well-written memoir is like gold to me. (Some favorites: I Never Promised You a Goodie Bag: A Memoir of Life Through Events, The Ones You Plan and The Ones You Don't by Jennifer Gilbert, who survived a horrific stabbing in college and then became an event has some really great thoughts on grief and other people's discomfort with grief and pain; Cruising Attitude by Heather Poole, a really interesting look at the training and life of a flight attendant; Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson, also known as The Bloggess and the funniest memoir  I've ever read, like EVER, even though she grapples with crippling anxiety and depression and in one tough chapter, RPL... and a second memoir called Furiously Happy is out in September!, and Hyperbole and A Half by Allie Brosh which is a graphic novel collection of essays of sorts and is also funny in a different way and deals beautifully with what depression is really like.) Two, I have been doing a lot of reading about adoption, and while some books include birth parent perspective (The Open Hearted Way to Open Adoption by Lori Holden aka Lori Lavender Luz, Secrets to Your Successful Domestic Adoption by Jennifer Joyce Pedley, a birth mother and social worker who helps birth mothers and adoptive families through open adoption and the process as a whole), and I have read some articles from a birth mother's point of view and seen some videos of birth mothers and adoptive mothers speaking in tandem about their experience... I haven't really found a full book, entirely chronicling the experience of a birth mother. Super important... A birth mother, not BIRTH MOTHERS, as not all experiences are the same. I did find one for An adoptive mother that I liked for its at times brutal honesty, Secret Thoughts of an Adoptive Mother by Jana Wolf. And so God and Jetfire seemed like it would be like the flip side of that story, and it is. Of A birth mother.

I am also in the waiting period now, marching towards the time when we will meet a potential birth mother, an expectant mother who could feasibly become our child's birth mother, and I thought it would be a great idea to explore what an expectant mother might be thinking through all parts of the process. Knowing of course that I could read things that might be potentially upsetting to me, but are important to know and understand as while both myself as a potential adoptive mother and this mystery person who is a potential birth mother are in similar positions -- our bodies have betrayed us, we are in a situation we did not ask to be in, we need a solution...and a baby needs parents -- our perspectives are likely very different. Or maybe not.

To clarify, this is going to be my take on God and Jetfire. What I thought about the book, the impressions it made on me, how I felt while reading it and later while absorbing and processing it, as it kind of stuck with me. I am not offering an analysis or a critique. I am not looking at the widespread reaction in other media to her book and what it may or may not say about open adoption as a whole. If you are interested in reading more about that, Lori Lavender Luz has written two very thoughtful posts about reactions in the media to the book and its impact on perceptions of open adoption, for better or worse. I highly recommend you read these. Her thoughts on the book and the various reactions to it made me think again about my own personal reactions to it, and rather than keep writing superlong comments on her blog, I decided to explore my own thoughts and feelings. Just to warn you, I will reveal who Amy chose to parent her baby, and if you want these things to remain a mystery until you read the book yourself, know there are "spoilers" below of a sort.

I'm not going to lie...some of what Amy Seek says is hard to swallow, as an adoptive mother (waiting adoptive mother). But you don't read books about real life to get a fairy tale, or something neat and tidy that doesn't exist outside of fiction. Her reactions to her pregnancy and the adoption process as she experienced it are her reactions to have, born of her experiences and point of view and very personal situation. It's going to be riddled with grief. And doubt. And not-so-complimentary thoughts of adoptive parents.

Something that really bothered me was the use of the term "vultures" to describe adoptive parents. Granted, this was used by her sister, but the reaction wasn't "Oh god, no! These people aren't vultures at all!" It kind of felt like a tacit agreement. It came about as she was reviewing Dear Birth Mother Letters, the old-fashioned kind, handmade and scrapbooky in nature, with ribbons and stickers and glued-on pictures. It made me grateful for Mi.xbook. However, as she was reviewing them and asking for input from her sister, there was so, so much judgment of the people who had put their hearts and desires to be parents out on those pages, who put their lives out there. It does not escape me that people could look at our profile book and have the same reaction, although I really hope not. I appreciated Amy's honesty, as it wasn't in my mind totally complimentary, and I did feel sort of supersensitive since our book is out there, hopefully getting ready to be shown to people who won't rip us apart as "vultures" looking to take advantage of someone else's unfortunate situation. It was interesting to see how she evaluated profiles/letters -- pictures that didn't actually open up the couple's life too much, pictures without visible faces, overly sympathetic and treacly statements about understanding where she was coming from, overly personal tales of years of infertility treatments and dollar amounts spent. That really surprised me -- we did mention briefly that we had dealt with infertility (because personally I feel it is disingenuous to say that adoption was always our first choice when it wasn't, but it is our best choice, to paraphase several adoption books I've read), but mostly focused on how we came to adoption because we realized we were chasing pregnancy at the cost of parenthood, and being parents is what is most important. We would never, ever catalogue how much we spent, or what types of treatments we endured, or that we had miscarriages, or any of that. Too much. Also interesting was her perception of people who seemed to have a baby-shaped hole that they wanted to fill, rather than an overflowing love that they wanted to share.

I actually felt that the section on how she sifted through the profiles was really interesting and invaluable, if at times difficult to read, because you could see firsthand how someone might view various ways to present yourself. I actually didn't feel panicked after reading it, I felt like we had done a really good job avoiding the things she hated and showing the things openly and honestly that show our interest in parenting someone's unborn baby.

I felt badly for Amy throughout the book, as she made her decision to "do adoption" as she called it. It seemed, to me, that she felt it was the best of the three options, but truly she did not want to go through with the process. She referred to placing as "abandoning" her baby, which seemed harsh to me but I am not someone who has to make the daunting and emotionally wrecking decision to place my baby. Maybe the term "place" is separated from emotion to make people feel comfortable, but really "abandon" is more accurate to how a birth mother feels. Amy was older when she got pregnant, a senior in college, 23, completing her architecture studies. She had just broken up with boyfriend, pretty much simultaneously with telling him about the pregnancy. She thought about abortion but didn't go through with it. I returned the book to the library already so I don't have the exact quote, but she and her ex-boyfriend sat in the waiting room and she decided, to paraphrase, that she didn't think she could smile again if she did it. She thought about keeping the baby, but was no longer with her boyfriend, didn't want to marry him, was still in college, was pursuing a degree and career in architecture, and didn't have the financial resources. Or her family also drove it home that single motherhood would be very, very hard. There is a difficult part where she finds out a professor was going to offer an attic apartment and childcare was sort of available, but this isn't discovered until after her son is placed and living out of state with his adoptive family. It's heartwrenching and she decides not to think on it because that didn't happen, but it seems that if she could have figured out a way to make it work she would have. I think this colors her perspective on open adoption a lot -- the fact that although she knows that Jonathan, her son, is part of this other family, and mothered day to day by this other mother of her own choosing, and he is healthy and strong and well cared for... she sees him as her son that she abandoned and left and feels intensely the pain of that rift every single time she visits. And, she isn't all that happy with architecture, which makes her feel guilty that she gave up this chance to mother for a degree she isn't even all that happy about. In fact, to me she really seemed like a lost soul a lot of the time. I sort of wanted to give her a hug. She probably wouldn't have let me. She seemed lost but also kind of prickly.

The relationship that Amy had with her son's adoptive family was so intriguing to me. It was open, open, OPEN adoption -- when she came to visit, she stayed overnight in the house with everyone for days and days. She was extended family pretty much immediately. Paula, Jonathan's adoptive mother, was very secure in her role as Jonathan's everyday mother, his mom, but also in believing that Amy was every bit also Jonathan's mother. I liked Paula, a lot, and I feel almost like she adopted Amy, too in a way, even though that sounds now in writing it kind of condescending and like Amy was super immature, which she wasn't. It makes it sound like I am designating Paula as somehow more than Amy, which isn't the case. Paula basically welcomed Amy into their family with open arms, as more than an arms-length, awkward setup. Paula had another daughter who she had adopted and then adopted another son throughout the course of the book -- and the birth parent situations were different in all of them. It was interesting to see how Amy navigated loving all of Paula's children in addition to the one she had birthed, and how the children navigated jealousies over Jonathan having such an involved birth mom. I was also amazed by how much Paula and her family integrated themselves with Amy's parents and grandparents, that it really was like one big extended family. I wasn't really sure, honestly, if this was more comforting, inspiring, or completely overwhelming to me as someone who is completely unsure of what my open adoption experience will look like. It was interesting to see Paula through Amy's eyes, and to see that Paula was one who urged Amy to write the book in the first place, even though there are so many moments that can seem judgmental and uncomfortable.

That's the thing... I don't think for me that I have the choice to be comfortable and ignore other perspectives and have a true open adoption experience. I could, I could stick my head in the sand and pretend that someone didn't feel like they were abandoning the baby that is being raised in my family, that people aren't looking at my book and thinking maybe we are full of ourselves or shouldn't have done infertility treatments, or that a family member or friend of a potential birth mother might not suggest that we are going against nature and becoming parents even though God decided we weren't fit (an ACTUAL statement made by someone, not Amy, in the book, that made me see red momentarily). I could pretend that my child won't have hard questions and hard feelings and question what it means to be "mom." Because we are pursuing open adoption, because we believe it's best for the child, we accept the complexity and the pain and the grief. We accept that we may feel insecure. That our child's birth mother may feel insecure. That we need to consider how much we need to become ambassadors for open adoption so that friends and family don't inadvertently say hurtful things about birth parents as a whole, and that this arrangement is HARD but it is NECESSARY for our child to be whole. (Necessary to us. I realize there are other opinions out there, but honestly open adoption in some form or another is becoming more and more the norm due to best practice and operating with the child first and foremost at the center.) Our arrangement (is it okay for me to call it an arrangement?) may not look like Amy's. Our situation may be totally different. It was just so interesting to peek into her mind, and see this one example of what a particular birth mother thinks and feels and does within all evolutions of that process. Of life. I think a lot of the hoopla surrounding the book is that people tend to see this book and go, "THIS IS WHAT ALL BIRTH MOTHERS THINK!" when the range of experiences is so vast. It's important to think about the impact of grief and making this decision, but also important to remember that Amy Seek is one of a very, very large number of people in similar shoes, more or less, all with their own stories. And maybe all this talking about Amy's story will open up more people to give their own perspectives. I think about infertility and how many different takes there are on that, and that I could read a zillion different blogs and books by women who have experienced infertility and not agree with all of the things said or decisions made.

I would get really angry sometimes reading the book, and share some of the things that bothered my with my husband. It stuck with me, and one point he said, "Is it such a good idea to read this book now?" Yes. I questioned it myself, and even in explaining the book to another woman going through the adoption process but in the earlier stages, I sounded waffly on whether or not I liked it or would recommend it. I think it is an important book to read and get your own take on. I think Amy's voice is interesting, and while I didn't always LIKE her, I respected her. I think it's a grain-of-salt kind of situation. I am glad I read it, even if it was really close to home and emotional and made me feel sensitive, it was like any other memoir in that it made me think about someone else's experiences, someone else's decisions, and gave me a little window into a life that's not mine. It granted me new perspectives. It opened my mind just a little bit more. Which is what any good book should do -- teach you a little something, leave you with more thoughts to think on.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

#Microblog Mondays: Tick Tick Tick

I saw a meme once that said, "August is just one long Sunday night," and it is SO TRUE. It's a feeling of anticipation, of "I'd-better-get-ready," of tiny niggling doubts (What if over the summer I forgot how to be a teacher? What if my reworked units and lessons don't work this year? What if this is the year I suck?), of equal parts excitement and dread. It's amazing to me that the first day of school is two weeks away. 

Yesterday, I had to go in early to be on the interview committee for a new part-time position, and also a maternity leave (FOR SEPTEMBER) for a coworker at the 9th grade building. Part of the reason why I was there was to sniff out possibilities for my own nebulous maternity leave, likely this school year. 

It was strange. It is strange to plan for a year so precisely because I may not be the one executing my beautiful binders of units (some definitely more beautiful than others), because at some indeterminate time someone else will be sliding into my place in my classroom(s), while I learn through experience how to be a new momma. It is strange to talk about this like it is actually going to happen.

Every little thing makes me realize how close (and yet also how far) this new reality is for us. 

Is it bad that I am kind of hoping that we don't get that call until at least November? Maybe I will feel ready in November. 

Want to read more #Microblog Mondays? Go here and enjoy!

Friday, August 14, 2015

How We Attack Registering for a Mystery Baby

Last weekend we started the registering process. Well, actually, before we left for Maine I had stopped into Buy Buy Baby and done the paperwork for registering, so that when I came back with Bryce we could just get going with the fantastic scanner thing. 

Registering to register was a bit of a feat in itself. First, I had steeled myself for the courage to walk into Buy Buy Baby, by myself, with nary a baby bump to be found, and ask about the logistics of registering... Did you have to make an appointment? What happens when you don't have a due date? How do you do this for adoptive parents? I walked into the store and BOOM, promptly ran into a very pregnant teacher I know who is due in August. Kinda wish that hadn't happened. First, because it created an instant contrast to my experience and how different it is, and second because I had to hear comments about "pregnancy brain" and see belly rubbing and all the things that I think just become second nature to very pregnant women, but that I won't experience. I have made peace with the fact that I am not bringing a baby into this world through my body, but it doesn't mean that it doesn't still sting when direct comparisons arise. When I am looking so much at all the wonderful things we gain from adoption and am looking forward to attacking this registering for gear thing with joy, it sucks to immediately be reminded of the loss that brought us to this new adventure. But I digress. 

Buy Buy Baby has a spot on their paperwork for the question, "Is this an adoption?" But even so, I had to pick an arbitrary due date, and was supposed to give a date for the supposed shower. Which, at that time, didn't exist yet but I knew something was going to happen. We are having TWO showers, actually, a topic for a separate post, one for school and one for family/friends, but I didn't have dates or anything. Which made filling out the paperwork problematic. Apparently my "due date" is February 15th. I toy with making it earlier, because of completion discounts and the possibility that we could have our baby come home sooner (or later), but for now I feel like the same faker I was when I signed up for Amer.ican Baby magazine four years ago. I found out that when you sign up to register, you get this giant goody bag. It's filled with coupons, and samples, and a completely overwhelming "guide" to all the things you will need as a new parent. There was a lot of breast-feeding paraphernalia (are there other uses for breast pads?), but they did also include a small can of powdered infant formula and a coupon for bottles, so I guess it was not entirely skewed to breastfeeding. It's a nice thing, that bag of new-parent goodies, and I felt like walking all over town swinging that polka-dotted new-baby-store bag, daring people to ask me about it. (But I didn't.)

Anyway, when we arrived for our actual first foray into registering, we had come with a plan. We made our own pared-down list, based on my baby binder articles, Pinterest advice, and the advice of friends. The advice from friends is always tricky because one person will tell you a Boppy is not useful at all and takes up valuable space, and another will tell you that the Boppy is the BEST.THING.EVER!, so I guess we have to make up our minds on some of these things. (Feel free to weigh in on your favorite baby gear in the comments section.)

We also came with the plan that we were only going to attack the major items, the ones that make you feel like you are buying a new car (or maybe a new house), the ones that would most likely reduce me to hyperventilating and rapid heartbeat and a major fight-or-flight response. We gave ourselves two hours on a Saturday evening. 

When we got there, the lady at the desk said, "Do you need help printing a registry?" 

I said, "No, we actually are here to register for ourselves. We're waiting adoptive parents." 

And she squealed, with genuine excitement. She realized that we had already come in to set up, and already gotten our goody bag, so all that was left was to set up the scanner. She handed it to Bryce, and said, "This is for Daddy." 

Bryce teared up. He laughed his nervous laugh and said, "You are actually the FIRST person to call me that." 

I said, "Except for me, of course!" And then, like an idiot, I added, "But not in a creepy way, har har!" It's a miracle they didn't revoke our home study right there. When I'm nervous I put double entendre on everything, and the last place where sexual innuendo is appropriate is a BABY STORE. But my calling Bryce "Daddy" didn't really count, since usually it's in reference to the cats. 

It was a nice moment that I nearly ruined with my blurty mouth, but was salvaged. 

We started looking at cribs, even though we are totally going with another, smaller, local business store for the crib, and then moved on to gliders. 

Just so you know, gliders are huge. We discovered this after picking out a beautiful upholstered recliner thing that could live again in our living room, that had both rocking and hidden recliner lever features, and had high arm rests to help support a feeding baby. It wasn't until later, as I made a fancy graph-paper diagram of our nursery to illustrate how small it is (91 square feet, people), that I realized that a 36" by 36" glider wasn't going to FIT IN THE DOOR (35"), much less not be completely overwhelming in the nursery. 
See that massive purple thing?

But remember that nook upstairs that is my office? I think the glider will fit in there, if we get a smaller one. It's right across from the baby room and right outside our room, and has a nice big window, so that should work. Our first registry item wasn't a total bust, even though we have to take it off and it gave us both a minor heart attack realizing how tiny our nursery space is and how much rearranging/finagling we have to do to fit all this baby gear in our home... 

Next was Pack N Play, and we registered for a slightly fancier one that had a vibrating "snuggle seat" instead of the infant cradle thingamajig that flips to be the changing table on the other models. The snuggle thing is actually a bouncy seat that comes out of the Pack N Play, so it's two pieces of gear in one. It has electronic noises and stuff, but they are actually not so annoying. The soothing nature sounds made us have to pee, so that may be a feature we regret. 

Then, we met this gem of a lady. She helped us with the Pack N Play features, and then high chair stuff, and then stroller/car seats craziness. For a high chair, we went with a space saver booster seat thingamabob from Fisher Price. The one they had in stock that didn't have electronics (WHY IS EVERYTHING ELECTRONIC?) or extra doodads was the "exclusive" design to Buy Buy Baby. It's a sleepy elephant on the back with gray and aqua. Well, not that this matters at all, but gray and aqua match our new kitchen, and they are fairly gender neutral, and I like elephants. This elephant looks downright depressed, but most of the time it will be covered up with precious food-splattered baby, so I can forgive that unfortunate design. AND we don't have to have a separate high chair taking up space in our 1600 square foot house. We are fortunate to have this square footage, I know we are, but man it feels tight when looking at all this stuff. 

The car seat/stroller was the last thing, thank goodness, because it was completely overwhelming. I let Bryce take over almost completely, as he is all engineery and that is a major strength when comparing safety features. I did all my tests for the stroller that a wise friend suggested -- one handed maneuverability being the most important. We chose the City Mini GT by BabyJogger, because it was light, folded with one flick of the wrist (that was some David Blaine magic!), had bigger tires but not ginormous tires, could go over multiple surfaces, and the tires were filled with foam, not air, and covered in all-terrain rubber. So we liked it A LOT. It meant we had to get the carseat separately and get an adapter, but the stroller will last a long time and it's rugged yet not huge, so it will save us having a second stroller until we want a cheapie umbrella stroller for travel. Although this thing was pretty slick, how quickly it collapsed into a flat object. The carseats were a blur, because of all the safety features and whatnot, but I think we went with Chicco for both the infant car seat and the convertible car seat we need for later. Originally we registered for all three types of convertible car seat so that we could later make a decision after researching, and we had hit maximum fatigue (and hunger for the Indian food we were planning on afterwards). 

So, that done and with a LOT of further registering to do, we had our celebratory Indian food meal and I posted this picture up on Facebook, essentially announcing that we are waiting parents and the preparation time has begun: 
Could those smiles be any bigger?
What I didn't think about... that people might start looking at our registry immediately. Which is unfortunate, because right now our registry looks COMPLETELY OBNOXIOUS. Only large-ticket items for the most part. We go tomorrow to get a bunch of other stuff done... all the feeding/carrying/clothing/first aid/bathing/bedding/toy type stuff. We went Tuesday to the crib store to pick out that important item... we just have to order it. We also chose the dresser that coordinates, and the Moonlight Slumber waterproof dual-sided mattress. Which was, I think, cheaper than the one in the megastore. We opted for chemical-free versus organic. All the choices regarding all of this are dizzying, and you can't help but wonder if you're making the right calls or messing up your baby already. I'm sure that's normal. 

I am frantically trying to figure out how we're going to make the nursery work in such a small space. I have SO MUCH OWL STUFF, so we decided on woodland critters for the nursery, because then I can incorporate the owls. And it's gender neutral. More on that as it keeps developing! These are exciting times, overwhelming times, but in a way comforting, because although our situation is due-date-less, I can imagine how we're feeling about the state of our house and the nursery and WHERE THE HELL ARE WE GOING TO PUT ALL THIS STUFF panicking is pretty typical of any new parent. We're on our way, for sure. 

Monday, August 10, 2015

#Microblog Mondays: "Oh, I Want to Adopt, Too!"

We took our first trip to Buy Buy Baby as expectant parents trying to suss out what to make of the overwhelming mass of baby gear floor to ceiling... fodder for a litany of other posts, but one thing kind of stood out to me. 

The young woman (barely out of her teens young) who walked around and helped us with our choices when it came to strollers, car seats, and pack n plays was....interesting. 

Because I don't have a belly that looks pregnant (when wearing clothes that fit, har har), I felt the need to say "we're adopting" to pretty much anyone who tried to help us in any way shape or form, so that we weren't confused with people shopping for someone else. I wanted it to be clear that the expectant parents in this shopping spree WERE US.

When I said it to our helper, she said, 

"Oh! I want to adopt too!" 

Which is fine on its own, but then became...

"But I want to have my own kids first, you know? [Of course you do.] And then adopt, like, a THIRD child. Is it expensive? I hear it's expensive." 

I should have let Bryce end it with "Yeah, it's REALLY expensive," but I was still being nice at this point. So I was all That's nice and There's sliding scales and There's many ways to adopt, some of which can be quite affordable, but Yes it is a costly process, for us. 

Then she really laid her egg. 

"Oh, I want to adopt internationally. From Africa? [Managed not to inform her that Africa is a continent, not a country.] Because, you know, I see those really sad TV commercials? And I don't want to just send in money, you know?" 

Couldn't help it... "So you want to raise a child for 18 years instead?" [Not said: after you've conveniently had your biological children, probably with little regard for this child's culture of origin or unique emotional and physical needs... the list goes on and on...]

"Yeah! EXACTLY." 

OH MY GOD IN HEAVEN. Please let this NOT be the person helping us when we go back to finish registering. 

Want to read more #Microblog Mondays? Go here and enjoy!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Kind of Man I Married

Bryce is a hero to small things. One of my first memories of him was on an early date, at his house, as he made a pasta dish for us for dinner. Abner, his cat, had caught a mouse. Not a small feat, since Abner is partially declawed (NOT under my watch, FYI). It was stunned, and possibly a little maimed, and Bryce found an empty parmesan cheese container and scooped it up, trying to save it and rehabilitate it a bit before releasing it outside (holes were poked). Sadly, the mouse died. And Bryce was visibly upset by this little death.

When there are bugs in the house, he tries to move them outside, even the monstrous wolf spiders that sometimes make themselves visible in our basement. It's like having lurking Shelobs or Aragogs down there, and when they pop up it's terrifying (look them up, they're in the freaking tarantula family and can be big as saucers). But Bryce captures them somehow and gently puts them outside, once the shock of seeing the gargantuan creepy crawler wears off.

The same goes for the chipmunk that found itself hunted by our fully clawed cat, Lucky, in the dead of winter while we were watching The Grey. Have you seen that movie, with Liam Neeson as a sniper hired to protect oil workers in Alaska from territorial wolves? The one where the plane crashes and the wolves hunt the survivors? IT'S INTENSE. Add into that a plane crash scene where a cat comes careening into room, smashing into the TV cabinet for apparently no reason until you realize there's a squeaking CHIPMUNK in your house, and it was too much. Bryce somehow managed to separate our delighted (and then disappointed) kitty from the sizeable rodent, and get it back outside unharmed.

I managed to follow in his footsteps last summer, when Lucky stunned a mouse in the office downstairs and left it for me, only to have it do a Lazarus thing and pop back up as I was getting ready to pick it up with a plastic bag, assuming it was as dead as it looked. Instead I had to get it into an empty blueberry clamshell and set it free outside. Something I probably wouldn't have had the strength to do, pre-Bryce.

On our Vermont vacation, he had another chance to be a hero to the tiny little lives that grace our planet. We were walking around the swimming hole in Grafton, a site that usually is a stone-rimmed hole filled with snow, but this time of year is full of cool water and ringed with daylilies and Adirondack chairs.

We were walking on the shuffleboard pavement, which had little puddles on it because it had stormed just an hour ago.

Suddenly, Bryce said, "Oh no!" and pointed to a tiger swallowtail butterfly, lying in the puddle, completely sodden.

Well, not completely.

I pointed and said, "Look, it's trying to drag itself out of the puddle!"

Sure enough, it was still alive, just sopping wet, and its little butterfly feet were tenaciously trying to drag its heavy wings out of the puddle. It was completely exposed, and seemingly doomed.

But not with Bryce around, no siree.

He found a stick, and gingerly coaxed the butterfly onto it, watching it grasp tightly with its little butterfly legs.

Then he balanced the stick just so on a fencepost, in the sun but protected a bit from hungry birds.

He made sure it was secure, and that the butterfly could fan out without falling off.

The final butterfly-drying solution, with a happy butterfly sunning itself to safety.

He engineered this butterfly to a better outcome, using what I think may be physics, to get that perfect balancing angle.

The next day, coming out of the Tavern from breakfast, we saw a bright yellow tiger swallowtail flitting around the gardens in front of the cottages. I am pretty sure it was the same one Bryce saved (at least I like to think it was, doing a flyby to say "thank you" in butterflyese).

That's the man I married, one who will take the time to engineer a solution meant to save a butterfly from certain death. I think it's a pretty good indicator that phenomenal fatherhood is in his future.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The Best Wedding Ceremony Ever

While we were up in Bar Harbor, we went to Bryce's cousin's wedding. It was GORGEOUS. I actually don't have my own pictures of it, because I was just so awe-struck by the whole thing I think I forgot how to work the camera on my cell phone. Also it felt sort of gauche, wanting to take out my phone during the ceremony to take a picture, given that there were four photographers and a videographer capturing the whole thing. So all I have is a selfie of me and Bryce squinting into the ocean-bright sun and a picture his mom took of us in our fancy finery. But, the pictures up on facebook were amazing, and I have filched one for you.

Squinty selfie... you'd never know it was cloudy
all morning from the late afternoon sun

In our fancies...

What struck us most, though, was the ceremony itself.

They had a sea captain officiate. A truly salty looking fellow with a white beard and a gravelly voice. He was amazing.

The bride and groom laughed throughout the ceremony,
there was so much joy just bursting from them.
Isn't the sea captain just perfect?
The ceremony was decidedly secular, with no mention of a higher power at all, and readings not from Corinthians but from Shakespeare, Khalil Gibran, and "Gift from the Sea" by Anne Morrow Lindbergh.

The words that the sea captain spoke about marriage were so wise, and so touching, that Bryce and I couldn't help but hold our hands together, tears escaping our squinted eyes.

It was about how friendship is the basis of marriage, that friendship has to be the foundation of everything you do together. About the incredible importance of supporting each other in your dreams and aspirations.

And there was a decided emphasis on working through difficulty. That difficulty WILL happen, and that how you deal with difficulty, TOGETHER, is a testament to the strength of your marriage. That every marriage is tested, some more than others, and that you have to rise to those tests and come out the other side stronger. And, at the end of the day, when you are old and looking back on your life and your marriage, you should be able to be proud of what you've done. He's been married for 55 years, so he had some heft behind his words.

When we were married, we had no idea how difficult things would become. We didn't know that we would be tested, over and over and over again, that we would have to rise to survive challenges that could easily break a weaker bond. We didn't know that our beautiful goal of having a child or two to love as much as we love each other would result in nothing but tears and hopes dashed, sometimes in the cruelest of ways. But we have survived. Because we are best friends, we have have each others' backs, we know that only one of us can be truly crazy at a time. We can both be sad at the same time, but that irrational rage or sorrow can only be had when the other is there to hold the crazy together. And we've managed to do that.

Another thing that struck us was that, at least to me, it seemed that he said "the children you raise" and not necessarily implying solely biological children. That the raising is more important than the having. The phrase "your children" was used, but I didn't feel that there was an emphasis on biological parenthood.

We had a Blessing of the Hands at our wedding, and at one point there's a line, "These are the hands that will hold your children," and it was hard to say it without crying. Because we already knew that children would be challenging to come by, just not how very challenging and nearly impossible it would be until we accepted that pregnancy was not for us. But holding your children in your hands is very different from holding them in your belly.

I wish that I could remember more of the sea captain's words. I wish that I had somehow written them down on my program, because I wanted to remember all of it.

We actually hunted the captain down after the ceremony was over, found him behind the musicians, packing up his notes. We wanted to thank him for the best wedding ceremony we'd ever heard, the most real, the least fairy-tale-esque, the most touching. He seemed surprised but grateful, like not many people have thanked him for his efforts, and I guess that's normal given that you're supposed to immediately swarm the bride and groom and their families, swathing them in congratulations and lifting them up on their special day. There was time for that later, but in that moment, we were both just so overwhelmed with the emotion and truth behind his words of friendship and overcoming adversity as a team, that we just had to catch him before he disappeared into the fog (he really did seem like a mythical creature of sorts...that salty throaty voice was otherworldly).

The best wedding ceremonies are the ones that touch every married person in the place (and inspire those not married in their own relationships), that make you reflect back on your own marriage, make you feel proud of the job you've done so far. And the work you have yet to do, joyfully, hand-in-hand with your partner.

Monday, August 3, 2015

#Microblog Mondays: The Last Vacation

I've been "off the grid" for a while, because we went on a beautiful, beautiful vacation to Maine and Vermont. This is our Last Vacation (sort of our Babymoon?), because we went live and now that call could come anytime (we know not necessarily imminently, but by the time we would go anywhere else it could definitely come), and we just don't want to be away when that happens. Especially anywhere with spotty cell coverage, which is almost every place we went this time.

We went to Bar Harbor for a family wedding (which was gorgeous), stayed a few extra days for some R&R in one of our favorite places, and then went to Augusta to stay at Bryce's mom's house while they were on their own vacation so that we could take day trips to Boothbay Harbor, Camden, Damariscotta... a variety of coastal treats (plus one day where we just stayed put and relaxed right at their house, in their sunroom, surrounded by my mother-in-law's luscious gardens). Finally, on our way home, we stopped in our favorite spot in Grafton, VT -- strange to see it in the summertime, since we usually go at Christmas or February, but still beautiful, still like coming home to a special place.

All of these places made me sad once upon a time. They were all places we went and imagined going with our little FutureBaby, and repeated visits found us still just the two of us, feeling a little more lonely and bitter and hopeless each time, until we stopped going to Bar Harbor four years ago, and we skipped Grafton this past year.

Well, those times are over... we felt excitement, happiness at being in these familiar haunts, knowing that it is the Last Time we will see them just the two of us. Next time...there will be three.

Feeling happy (and squinty) on the Sheepscot River

A late-blooming lupine in a field near
Ships Harbor on Mt Desert Island.

That pretty much sums up the beauty of Maine to me...
the inlet at Ships Harbor

A Great Spangled Fritillary on goldenrod
that we spied on Sears Island.

The living roof on the hut in the Children's Garden
at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay.

The reading room in the Children's Garden... this would have made me
so sad in years past, but now I just imagined FutureBaby on my lap,
in one of those rocking chairs, reading about butterflies.

Gorgeous Vermont view that's normally coated in snow for us...
(Pardon the soupcon of finger...)

Although the exposure is too bright, as if an A-bomb has detonated
behind us, I think this picture is just so happy, so content...
it says, "FutureBaby, we are SO READY for you!"
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