Sunday, September 27, 2015

Adoption Thoughts From The Other Side (obviously not from me)

Deathstar, over at A Woman My Age, wrote a series of four posts titled:

Things I Wished I'd Known

The posts come from the experience she had adopting her son, and now that she has a beautiful family of three, looking back on what she thought might have been useful to know as a waiting adoptive mom, or someone contemplating adoption.

When I was considering adoption, mulling it over, making the decision that can only come with thought and soul searching and researching just how complex the realities of adoption are, I wanted to read other people's thoughts on adoption. Not necessarily other clueless people on this side of things like me (although those are super helpful too, for commiserating on the process), but people who've been there. Multiple people, multiple perspectives. And I really wanted people who'd pursued infant adoption. I wanted people who would tell it as it is.

Deathstar did an awesome job putting these posts together, and I want to share them because I think that they are gold. They are helpful to me, as I navigate the waiting period and look forward to/feel understandable fear about what's to come. And I hope they will be helpful to you.

She links to another great blog that discusses many aspects of domestic infant adoption : Deathstar herself adopted internationally, but from the US as a Canadian resident. Many aspects are similar to my journey but with that added complexity of immigration and legal brou-ha-ha between two countries. I did not even know until fairly recently that there was international adoption between Canada and the US, so that has been an education in itself!

Please read these wonderful posts--I hope that they are are useful and mind-easing to read for you as they were for me.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Best Open House Ever

Last year, Open House was kind of a mess. I was sweaty, and made no sense, and could kind of see myself from outside of myself, rushing through the words and losing track of the point and getting "who is this crazy person teaching my child" vibes from the sea of parent faces.

To be fair, I'd just failed another cycle pretty spectacularly, in the first days of school, and I'd run into a previous coworker who asked me all about what was VERY OBVIOUSLY NOT WORKING about 10 minutes before I had to present. I was exhausted. I was probably depressed. I was not in the right frame of mind to be confident in front of a bunch of people who were parents, the very thing I was completely incompetent at doing myself.

THIS YEAR, though, was completely different.

I was still sweaty and nervous, but said my spiel with confidence, showing off my brand-spanking-new teacher website that I am oh-so-proud-of even though I am pretty much the LAST person to create one. And then, I got to do the thing I was both nervous and RIDICULOUSLY excited about...

I got to tell everyone that my husband and I were adopting a baby, and in the wait, and that most likely I would be going out on maternity leave at some point this year. I left out the "SEE YA, SUCKAS! I'm gonna be a MOM!" part I hear in my head when I think about it, because these are all very nice people with really lovely children who are filling my classes with a wonderful climate. That  probably would have been highly unprofessional.

It was so much fun. It was great to hear people be excited for me, to explain the concept of a Mystery Baby, to have something to add about impending parenthood that's been missing for so long.

I felt like saying "Soon I'll be ONE OF YOU!"

I felt like it was my last time feeling left in the cold, outside the window, my hand on the frosted pane rubbing it clear to see what family and parenting and children are all about, from that perspective. Actually, that last time was last year.

Last year I had NO HOPE.

This year, I have nothing BUT hope. And it feels so, so, so good.

Monday, September 21, 2015

#Microblog Monday: I'm Not Really Sad About Not Staying Home

Every year that infertility dug a little deeper, the amount of time I could stay home once a baby arrived got leaner and leaner. We first started out with the hope that I could stay home for the whole two years that still guarantees me a job in the district (assuming a position exists and hasn't been cut), and then shifted to the one year, that supposedly guarantees you YOUR job back (although again, if there's cuts, there are no true guarantees).

And then I became the insurance carrier, and every month after the 12 week FMLA period would mean shelling out a significant amount of money in COBRA, without my salary to offset it.

At this point, we are hoping for six months, especially if summer falls within the timeframe. Four minimum, but six is the dream. (Very, VERY little of this is paid, a topic for another day.)

But I'll be honest...

It took me such a long time to find my dream career -- teaching, special education, focusing on ELA. I'm not sure that even if I had the chance to not do it, that I'd take it now. I love my job. I look forward to every day (even when I'm tired from staying up to watch the Emmys and feel totally bleary-eyed and brain-fogged). I love my students and want to help them become their best versions of themselves. I love the busyness of my days, and how it is never boring. I love that each year has its own climate, and that I could do the same literary works year to year and get different thoughts.

If I became a stay at home mom, I'd lose that. It seems maybe a little silly, since I've worked so hard to bring a baby home... but teaching is part of who I am. I don't actually have the option to not work outside the home, but regardless I think I will be a better mom because I keep this vital piece of myself. While on leave, you don't accrue seniority, so your ability to survive cuts is hampered. And if you resign after two years, there's no guarantee that you could return to the same position, same school, same district. It's just so competitive.

I do wish that I could have a little more time, and that full year would be fantastic... but you just can't have everything. And I am grateful to have the chance to have my baby while working in a building that is the epitome of family-friendly, with leadership that is flexible to working mothers and all the complexity that entails. It won't be easy, but nothing truly is.

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

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Apparently My House Was Built By Hobbits

So, after last weekend where we made tremendous headway in getting our downstairs in order so that we can reorder our upstairs, I was feeling incredibly accomplished. I was more than a little smug when I thought, We have this IN THE BAG.

And then we decided that this weekend we would order our crib, our dresser, our crib mattress, and our glider. Doable, right?

Or... not. The glider is proving to be challenging, to say the least.

We had a glider that we loved from the giant baby superstore. Except then we found out that it was a) a 12 week lead time, and b) over $600. Both not feasible. However, we also discovered (when I did my fancy-schmancy little graph paper art project) that the glider was 36 x 36 x 38 in dimension... and so IT WOULD NOT FIT THROUGH THE NURSERY DOOR.

Enter one of my school secretaries, who is incredibly resourceful. I mentioned that we have the nook upstairs, and she was like, "PUT THE GLIDER IN THE NOOK." When I said it was going to be a play/reading nook, she very politely but firmly put me in my oblivious place, saying, "DON'T BE RIDICULOUS. You will not have your baby playing in the nook by the hallway by the stairs. Your baby will play on the first floor, near YOU. Your baby goes where YOU go. Your nook is the perfect place for your glider and a bottle station, so you don't lose your mind in the middle of the night. Put the damn glider in the nook." Brilliant. True. Didn't think that one through, just thought of magazine stuff that doesn't necessarily echo reality. So... glider in nook.

Which is great, because the nook is 66" wide by 62" deep, so it should fit that glider, right? We just had to find a less expensive one.

So we did, by the same manufacturer, Litt.le Cast.le, which we love for two reasons: it's made in the U.S.A., and it's made with baby details in mind. Namely, the arms are 2" taller so that you can more easily hold your baby when feeding without arm fatigue. Plus the fabrics are gorgeous. The one we found on was a pattern we liked, shippable to our home, and at a much more reasonable price.

And then we rejoiced because my mother-in-law offered to purchase the glider for us... which is huge. A big help, for sure. It's more expensive than the crib.


Today, we did some measurements.

I realize that our home was built in 1934, and that life was different then.

But were people MINIATURE? Did they buy TINY TINY DOLLHOUSE STYLE furniture? Because the measurements just DID NOT MAKE SENSE. Like, at all.

Our staircase is 31" wide. Except when you get to the landing at the top, and then it magically shrinks to 30" on the diagonal. Then the hallway, before you get to the magical expansive nook, is 31" wide. It's a good thing we don't want to put the glider in the nursery... because the doorway is 29" wide from jamb to jamb.

Did I mention the newer, less price glider is smaller? But still 35" wide by 35" deep? And 75 pounds? AND DEFINITELY WON'T FIT UP THE STAIRS? Oh, and that our front door width is 34.5"?

Did a hobbit build our house? Did people previously just assemble furniture in the room and then never ever move it? Or was everything just built tinier?

I was moved to either tears or fury this morning, when we discovered this reality. Probably a healthy mix of both, actually. I think at one point I screamed,

"It's this HOUSE! This HOUSE doesn't want us to have BABIES!"

I felt defeated. Here I am, envisioning this beautiful nursery space, and slapped with the reality that our nursery is 91 sq feet and so my vision needs some shrinking pills a la Alice in Wonderland, and that our staircase is not conducive to pretty much anything. It was sobering. It filled me with sadness. It made me want to hit and kick things.

We did manage to make it to the lovely local baby furniture store, though, and talk things out with the extraordinarily helpful staff. This is where we discovered that the dresser that went with the convertible crib we originally wanted comes assembled. And won't fit up our stairs.

However, it is also where we discovered that some gliders come in two pieces, and WILL fit up the stairs. Except most of those gliders were at least $150 more than what the Ta.rget one was, minus the ottoman, and in the case of one floor model, plus a giant scary spider. Seriously... there was a GINORMOUS awful spider on this nice grey glider and when the salesman tried to smoosh it, it scurried down the glider and UP INSIDE IT. Oh hell no. All I could think when sitting in various gliders was that they were all secretly housing spider nests. It was BIG (I know because even Bryce was skeeved out)... and now it lives inside a plush reclining glider.

So, we were productive today, but only somewhat so. No glider, yet. Still figuring that out. No dresser, yet. Deciding that maybe we get one from the big red bullseye that we can assemble in the room. The tiny, tiny room. So it won't match exactly. I think at this point that's okay, although it made my eyes tear up in the store thinking about sacrificing one more thing to reality. It seems that we are constantly shaving things off of our dream, while simultaneously GETTING TO LIVE THE DREAM, in terms of prepping for a baby that is coming, at some point, but definitely coming to us. The whittling is incredibly frustrating, though.

Positive movement:

We bought a crib! We decided against the convertible crib, because our tiny little room won't support a headboard and footboard anyway. We found this completely adorable smaller crib, that does convert to a toddler bed:

So cute, right? Minus the baby-suffocating bumpers we're not to have, of course. And almost HALF the price of the other crib we considered.
We bought our wonderful chemical-free, waterproof (welded seams) mattress that flips to be softer for toddlers after the infant period is over. AND, we found a mini play yard, all mesh sides, that we can use in our bedroom for the first few months for quick response time and excellent bonding. It's by Nuna, and is the "Mini Sena" model... I think it will actually fit next to my side of the bed with space for me to get out and walk around it, which would NOT be the case with a Pack'nPlay (which is home study approved). And, because it's a play yard, it's ALSO totally approved. Because it's all mesh on the sides, so it's totally breathable... which is the key to having it be okay by the post-placement social worker. Or so we hope.

We did NOT buy our glider. We did NOT buy our dresser. My vision of the nursery is slowly coming together though...regardless.

Just because today was immensely frustrating (and then very gratifying, as we bought our crib! So exciting!), I will share with you the general color scheme and theme of our nursery... Currently it's painted Atlantic Grey, which is actually more of a robin's egg blue. I think we're going to paint it the same creamy color we painted the one wall of the dining room, so it's a little more neutral (and a lot more airy). Which will go great with the little rug we bought in SouthWest Harbor in Maine, meant to go in front of the crib:

Is this not the most adorable thing you've ever seen?

AND, this adorable hand-hooked rug happens to coincidentally match the crib bedding I bought! (I bought it because unfortunately the one I liked just happened to get discontinued by the manufacturer just about NOW, so I bought it on clearance and then bought another sheet online):

Love my Treetop Friends with the silly eyebrowed-owl... :)
See all the cuteness? I love that it has a design on the side of the sheet, so it makes you feel less sad for not having cute bumpers, since bumpers are totally pediatrician/OB nurse/adoption agency verboten. Because while they're pretty, they're  apparently baby killers. And I'd like my baby to stay alive, please. 

Things are coming together. Still some things to overcome, like getting furniture up the dollhouse steps so that our nursery area can have a glider and a dresser, but I think we are getting closer to figuring this nonsense out. The vision isn't all messed up yet, even though this morning it seemed that the nursery dream was doomed. We have our bedding, we have a crib that we can pick up as early as tomorrow, and we are figuring out the rest of the stuff. It seems like owls are the theme, but we are actually adding stuff from all sorts of woodland creatures. Owls are more prominent, but I also love me some hedgehogs, foxes, raccoons, etc.

Baby steps. I have to remember, I'm so fortunate to even be stressing about how to get this nursery together. A year ago this would seem like the farthest of pipe's all about perspective. Although I contend that I can still be frustrated that our house seems to be ever-shrinking, and that in 1934 people must have been around 4 feet tall with furniture sized for Am.erican Girl dolls.

Monday, September 14, 2015

#Microblog Mondays: Readjusting My Family Vision

I pretty much always wanted two kids. An eldest and a youngest, even if that was marked by only minutes. I was one of two, and it seemed like a nice even number, a child for each parent. Bryce, on the other hand, was an only child and didn't feel as such like he missed out on anything. He was (is) perfectly happy to dream of a family of three, with a fourth member as something possible, maybe, a nice round number, but not necessary.

I've been thinking lately about how often I use the pronoun "they" for our future child(ren), when it really kind of seems like I should pick the singular.

Once upon a time it was a lot easier to think about having two... when the having of these children was only mildly complicated. But now? I am happy to think about having one child, and so am slowly readjusting my dream to a family of three.

Would it be so lonely, having one child? Bryce didn't think so. He was really great at entertaining himself, and had friends to keep him company when he wanted and quiet time to himself when he didn't.

I know a fair number of families of three, and they seem to be doing okay great. I know adults who were only children (somehow the phrase "only children" seems like one coined by someone who was trying to make a point about how sad and lonely that must be... there must be a better term out there), and they seem very well-adjusted, not lacking in social skills, with the added benefit of being the sole beneficiary of parental attention and budgetary funds.

I find myself asking these questions, wondering how much of a choice I really have here, at this point, as we wait for our first child through adoption at 39 and 41, having spent six years of time and money trying to make our FutureBaby materialize, and aren't as of yet successful.

A family of three sounds pretty damn good right now.

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

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Making Room, Piece by Puzzle Piece

I love our home. It's a 1934(ish) cape cod, with tons of charm. It's a cozy 1600 square feet, and those square feet are distributed in fascinating ways. It's not a front-staircase cape, but a side-staircase one--which  means that upstairs is...interesting. I love my home for the character, but envy newer construction's open layouts, frequent outlets, and larger rooms.

We have been working hard over the past two weekends to make headway on the Great Rearranging Project. It's like a Rubik's Cube, or one of those little plastic puzzles where the squares have to slide around to make the picture, and sometimes you have to slide pieces way out of order to finally get to the beautiful final image. That's pretty much what this process feels like.

We discovered that we have a list of around 10 things that has to get done before we can start decorating our nursery. FutureBaby's room, or Mystery Baby as I've taken to calling him/her at school since that makes more sense to 8th graders and adults alike.

They are:

1) Move Bryce's Morris chair and nesting tables to his office.
Which resulted in...
2) Move Bryce's desk setup to the opposite side of his office to make space
3) Move the barrister bookcase to the TV room and the other assorted stuff to the back room, a tiny little closet-like room that is uninsulated (for now) and is quickly becoming a catchall room for putting stuff that we have nowhere else to store.
4) Take out all the books from the barrister bookcase to decide how we're going to rearrange them... some are Bryce's from childhood and can go in the nursery, some are older programming books, and some are interesting math-y, science-y books. Those are still sitting on the office floor.
5) Paint the dining room, finally, so that the deep red that no longer looks nice since we took out the wall to the kitchen and that's now a serene Flint Smoke blue-grey is GONE. Put the furniture in the dining room in the new empty space left behind by the removal of the Morris chair.
6) Put furniture back in the dining room, making space again where the chair once was...
7) Raise the giant nautical/topographical map of the Maine from Boothbay Harbor to Bath,
so that there's space for...
8) Moving my desk from the nook upstairs down to the living room in that newly empty space,
Which means...
9) Finding homes for books that won't fit downstairs anymore, and in general rearranging all the books in our home so that we can...
10) Retrofit Bryce's floor-to-ceiling built-ins in the nursery to accommodate both books AND a makeshift closet
Made possible by...
11) Moving the furniture out of the nursery and into the nook vacated by my desk,
which also makes possible...
12) Redoing the flooring and the walls of the nursery, since it's all crappy wallboard and floor is a hemasote tile,

AND THEN, THEN we can get the crib and the dresser in there and the glider (whenever we find one that will fit up our ridiculously narrow stairway) into the nook, and fill the bookcase that I've emptied with children's books and space for bottle supplies and a low-light lamp for nighttime feedings and sleep routine miscellany.

Oh, and before Bryce can do any of the woodworking, he has to finish building the speakers he's been building for a friend since about May, which are almost done but taking up most of his workshop space and time.

I feel exhausted just typing that, let alone being smacked in the face with the reality of all these tasks until they are all done. Oh, and did I mention that I am blessed and lucky enough to have not one but TWO showers coming up? I am so super excited and feel honored to be celebrated so thoroughly, but a side effect of that is that we have to find space to put all of the wonderful things that will be coming home after those events. A beautiful problem to have, but it certainly lights a fire under us.

So I keep repeating, I love my house, I love my house, the character is wonderful, we will figure this out.

This weekend we made HUGE headway. We made it through #8, with the exception of the piles of math, science, and software engineering books in the office and some continued finagling of other books. Last weekend I also took all the DVDs in the bookcase already in our TV room and put them in small tubs, alphabetical order by genre (so far): Classics, Funny, Romantic Comedy, Action/Scary, Children's/Holiday, and then put those tubs in the closet in the TV room. This is a closet that currently holds most of my skirts, pants, and dresses, since our closet in the bedroom was set up by someone who was more physics-challenged than I am and made the second clothes rod high enough to maybe hang a onesie. So all my blouses and cardigans fit, and all of Bryce's clothes fit, but all those other things have to live downstairs. Because again, COZY, CHARACTER. My goal is to get the closet to hold less of my clothes and more things for storage. Also, now I have a miraculously EMPTY bookcase, which originally I thought I'd use for some of my children's books and bins for toys, but only has one shelf that is high enough to accommodate most picture books or useful canvas bins. SO, it is holding my Harry Potter hardcovers, my His Dark Materials, my Series of Unfortunate Events hardcovers, and I'm deciding what else might live in there. I have stacks of books without homes right now, shouldn't be too hard to fill it.

Maybe part of the problem is that I want our house to be organized like a library, with books arranged by genre, carefully curated. It's doable. Bryce wanted to take all our books out of the shelves and sort them... which would be some kind of feat. I think we could fill a room's entire cubic footage with our book collection. AND I've been culling a bit, taking a hard look at which books I want to hold on to and would reread or want in my collection versus summer reads I will never revisit. But the stack(s) without a home just seem(s) to keep growing.

This will all come together, I know it will. It feels like a hot mess right now, but this weekend's progress makes me really, really happy.

What's funny is we'll probably have to move a whole lot of stuff when it's time to babyproof, but that seems so very far in the future that I just can't worry about it. Ha.

Some pictures for you to help visualize all this shifting and changing and morphing:

Bryce's Morris chair and tables in his fancypants office, you can see evidence of book piles in the bottom left. This room is like Ode to Stickley, and the room that when I saw it for the first time cemented that this Bryce person was special. It's like an Arts & Crafts museum room, and super cozy. Some day I will figure out how to make my phone pictures depict the outside windows NOT as though a nuclear blast is going off.

New space for Bryce's desk, which was where the chair is now. It's a little, um, sunnier than it used to be.

The barrister bookcase (glass lids up) had to move because it was where the filing cabinet went next to Bryce's desk. It fit PERFECTLY here, in the TV room, and just needs to be filled back up with books, books, books.
Emptied red bookcase in progress... all of Mr. Potter and His Dark Materials, most of Series of Unfortunate Events (missing 1-5 in HC, a used bookstore treasure hunt that's been in the making for years), TV show DVDs sadly neglected on the side of the biggest shelf because their place on the media shelf you can't see got taken up by a vertical turntable thingie my stepfather gave Bryce yesterday. Some DVDs up top that need to find a new home, sadly neglected yoga gear & some shoes I need to get rid of in front of the mirrored closet. That mirror is a magical tool for making that room seem bigger. You can also see one of the first sets of speakers Bryce made in the reflection... :)
The old red dining room (and some wine and cheese)
The new beautiful dining room! The blue grey is the same as the kitchen, and that creamy color? The exact match to the cabinets! So light and airy and warm and inviting... I'm really happy with it. 
See? See how it all ties together now, looking in from the living room? The kitchen and the dining room are all one space, and it looks SO much bigger than it actually is. And it sorta kinda FAKES that open layout I so envy... That's Abner over by the slider, hunting chipmunks through the screen. He approves of this new setup. 
Looking out to the living room from the dining room and a smidge of kitchen, where you can see my brand-spankin'-new office space... right in the middle of everything, which I actually love. I am no longer the crazy wife in the attic nook! You can see the topographical map of Maine...moving it up totally made space for my desk and a lamp. Stay tuned to see if I can keep it this neat for the long haul... 
Lest this all look too neat and tidy and fancy-dancy, the fallout upstairs in my nook from all this moving. I have to file all this stuff, we have to find a place for the printer, and the filing cabinet will come downstairs. I think that bookcase is moving, and I'll get one of those cube things to hold the books when the glider goes in. Abner effectively turned that comforter into a bed and destroyed it. :( This nook is going to haunt me until it's done...
Books, books, more books at the top of the stairs... some displaced, some needing to be rearranged. Bryce built this beautiful bookcase top to the staircase railing bannister doohickey. We tried desperately not to bang it up when finagling my desk down the stairs, since apparently people in the 1930s had miniature furniture. Bookcase railing saved, creamy wall to the left just SLIGHTLY gouged. Priorities. 

There you have it, the slow transformation of our spaces so that we can get working on making the nursery a believable baby's room. I feel like half our puzzle has been slid in the right direction... just a little more to go!

Monday, September 7, 2015

#Microblog Mondays: The Announcement

Every September, on the first day of school, there is a Summer Slideshow. I have generally dreaded choosing a photo for this show, dreaded figuring out what I did over the summer that didn't involve sharps containers or anesthesia or giant bloodthinner bruises, that didn't involve vacations put on hold, smiles thinly veiling years of sadness and disappointment. The slideshow was inevitably where people shared news of weddings, new babies, new pregnancies, fantabulous vacations... and for the last few years, I have struggled to come up with something that I felt showed the essence of my summers.

Until this time. I chose to make my picture the intro to my announcement, The Announcement I have been waiting for five Septembers to make and was altered from its original vision but no less exciting:

Big, fat, happy smiles

My assistant principal put the caption "Getting ready for l'il ____" (last name omitted), and some people I'm sure were a little confused as while I emerged from infertility a little fluffier, I don't look pregnant. But then I got to stand up after the slideshow and introduce my phone and how we will be pretty much surgically attached because my family is waiting for the most important phone call of our lives, and so that phone will be on and ringer up high everywhere, EVERYWHERE I go, even though that phone call could take its sweet time coming. I explained that I am basically in my third trimester for an indefinite period of time (I think I overuse that analogy, but it really is perfect and people smile and nod and go Ohhhhh! instead of looking at me cross-eyed), and that it's very exciting.

I sweated my way through the whole thing and somehow managed to make sense while simultaneously listening my subconscious demanding DON'T CRY! DON'T CRY! DON'T CRY!, which was quite the feat.

As soon as it was out there was a lot of clapping and joyful smiles and excitement, and it's spilled over into every day I run into someone new who either a) knew my sad sap story but had no idea we were pursuing adoption or b) is just pickled that we are adopting without knowing the context and had no idea,  someone who practically engulfs me in a giant hug and tells me how excited they are and sometimes informs me that either they were adopted or their husband was adopted or someone they know adopted their children.

It is a little surreal, on two counts.

The first is that this time last year we were in the two week wait from the last cycle where embryos actually made it (briefly) into my body, I was a wreck, and a short week or so into school I had people who knew asking how things went and I had the first of two first at-school breakdowns, when it did not work out and the reality of our situation sunk in deep. This time last year, people weren't so excited for us. This time last year, we weren't so full of hope. This time last year, I wanted to believe that we were on our way to parenthood, but we were just playing out our last gasp in the most dragged-out and painful way possible.

The second is that even though I am super hopeful, even though we are putting things in motion (including the registering that happened for the first time in that picture I chose for the slideshow), even though I do actually believe that a baby is slowly but surely making its way toward us... I had this horrible niggling feeling that I had jinxed us. That by saying it out loud, by having all these people be so excited for us, that with every, "Let us know when things happen!" I felt a tiny lump of dread grow in my chest. Because I felt like a faker, just a little bit. I'm not ACTUALLY expecting, the baby is a huge mystery. I believe that I am an expectant parent, but when people ask, "so are you matched with a pregnant woman?" I feel a little like I jumped the gun, but I know that I absolutely will NOT be sharing that information until we are PLACED, not matched, because matching feels a bit like peeing on a stick. There's no guarantee you will hear a heartbeat or hold a wailing baby in your arms for the first time. But placement, that sounds more definite.

I know I'm not a faker. I know I am actually expecting, and that it's just a different experience than the baking of a baby inside my body. A more mysterious, nebulous experience. And yet one that causes so much joy in all my colleagues.

I guess I can't be too surprised that the announcement left me feeling a little conflicted. This kind of expecting comes without any physical awareness, any regular markers in the form of appointments and ultrasounds where you know the definite progress of your impending parenthood. We are in this space of waiting, and other than getting our home ready for our mystery baby, the FutureBaby that has eluded us for so long, we don't really have milestones anymore. The submitted profile books and approved home study were the last ones, until the matching begins.

One thing that I am so grateful for was the unequivocal excitement that I felt at school, palpably, from my fellow teachers and school staff. No one told me a horror story. No one was in any way disapproving. No one even said something like, "about time" or anything alluding to our twisty road to this path to parenthood. It was just joy, and love, and a shared anticipation. It was a great way to enter the school year, for sure.

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

Friday, September 4, 2015

Zona Pellucida

In school, we talk about vocabulary in tiers.

Tier One: These are your everyday, ho-hum words, words you don't have to think about, words you probably learned by third grade. Ex: cat, dog, today, sad, rainy, house.

Tier Two: These are your spicy, upgraded words, words you might have used a thesaurus to pick or you got from an excellent novel and needed to look up. These are the words we want students to use in their writing instead of boring words. Ex: destitute, melancholy, domicile, poltergeist, torrential.

Tier Three: These are words that are specific to a certain discipline, that are only used in conjunction with that subject. They tend to be the words you find in the back of textbooks in the glossary, or bolded in blue in the text. Ex: preamble, iambic pentameter, isosceles, pythagorean, participle, covalence, hydrogen, velocity, igneous.




Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome.

Zona Pellucida.

I was peeling myself a hard-boiled egg the other day, while fighting a stomach bug (not sure why I think eggs are appropriate tummy-sick food, but I do), slipping the large spoon under the crack in the shell. Watching the shell fragment mostly slip off in large sheaths, a trick Bryce taught me years ago. As the shell slid and lightly clattered to the bottom of the sink, and I rinsed off the remaining sac membrane from my soon-to-be salt-and-peppered snack, my brain whispered, zona pellucida.

I don't have any need for this word anymore. This word means the "shell" around a human egg, the shell that needs to be penetrated for fertilization to occur, the shell that is pre-treated in assisted hatching to help with implantation. Once upon a time I did not know that this word even existed. I did not know that human eggs have shells, too, and that the older you get the harder those shells are to "crack," so to speak.

And now this word is stuck in my brain, my mind that acts like a sponge and carries strange bits of trivia forever. A friend calls me "Human Google." My students a few years ago called it my "creepy memory." I will never forget what zona pellucida means, even though my eggs are forever out of the equation. There are no more egg retrievals for me.

Zona pellucida, a word that is vital to the conception of every baby out there, even though most people don't know what it is or that it even exists. And now it's with me, forever.

It will get pushed to the back a bit though, as I replace it with new Tier Three words, maybe not as beautiful to roll off the tongue but so much more beautiful to me for the meaning they hold:

Home study.
Profile book.
Birth mother.
Open adoption.

And my favorite Tier One word ever: