Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

2010 has been unbelievably good to me.  We brought home our new daughter.  I was in school full-time with an internship when we took placement, and I still managed to make the Dean's List.  I graduated and earned my certificate in addictions counseling and got my trainee license.  To that end, I spent another year alcohol and drug free.  Celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary, and learned it does get better and better each year.  We finalized the adoption of Campbell, and celebrated the adoption of her two best friends by our two best friends.  All in all a fantastic year.  Definitely one of the best in recent memory.

May everyone have a happy, healthy, and peaceful new year!  Cam says Happy New Year...

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Girls Night.

One girl baby, tired, but awake and alert.  One Mama, tired and not very alert.  One girl Pug (Zelda), concerned, looking for a warm lap to snuggle, always tired.  One girl cat (Alabama), curious but tired. 

All four of us in one comfy, down-stuffed chair handed down from my Mom and Dad, after Dad passed away.  That chair is special, because my Dad always read his newspapers each night in the chair.  Now I get to cradle my baby in it before her naps and bed.  Having my first "baby", Zelda, join us is a rare treat.  She LOVES Rob, and will only deign to sit with me when his lap isn't available.  Cam may be getting sick, she was a little off after dinner and bath, her head was hot, but the thermometer betrayed me and gave a reading of 97.7.  Cam has never been sick, a little congestion, but has never had a fever.  :(  The kid feels hot to me (dosed her with Ibuprofen), and has basically been awake since we put her down to bed at her usual 1830.  I am almost sick with anticipation of what may happen.
I have a feeling the baby, Pug, kitty, and I are going to spend a lot of time together tonight.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

It's Cam's first Christmas!

 Happiest little Grinch

 All dressed up, and Mama's in jeans????

Had to delete the first 20 pictures I took of Cam on the floor at my Mom's.  She was super serious and quiet.  Then Grammie walked in the room, and Cam went nuts.  All smiles, laughs, and clapping.  We think Mom carries baby treats in her pockets the way she carries dog treats in them.

Christmas Eve dinner with my brother and his family and my sister and her son at Mom's.  A good portion of the evening was spent watching my 16 year old nephew stacking Cam's new Melissa & Doug nesting boxes.  For real.  That kid played with those boxes for over an hour.  I bet his mother is bitter about spending all that dough on X-Box games now.  Heh.

Since it's after midnight now, we are just a few short hours away from Cam getting all her gifts.  I am beyond excited, even though I know she will only give a shit about the empty boxes, tissue paper, and bows.  Really, this is ALL for me.  Later in the morning we head to my other sister's house to open presents and have breakfast with her little ones.  She insists her ten year old still believes.  I think she is humoring her mother.  :)

Think it may be time to get into bed.  Waiting for Santa is tiring business.  Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Friday, December 24, 2010

First World Problem of the Day:

The gate we bought to protect the tree from a curious Cam is almost too small, because of all the presents under it now.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I only got up to get a drink of water.

I suppose this would be a text-book case of ADHD in an adult.  I put Cam down for a nap, did a little cleaning and hopped on the computer to relax.  I got thirsty for more water, plus I had noticed the humidifier was empty.  Two birds, one stone.  Got distracted going 5 feet from the sofa to the humidifier, ended up scrubbing a diaper in the bathroom.  Went back, grabbed the humidifier, headed 20 feet to the kitchen, while inspecting the cap to the resevoir.  My OCD brain spots a speck of what looks like mold.  Get to the kitchen give the resevoir a sniff, and decide Clorox was called for.  I start scrubbing the cap, fill the resevoir with water and some Clorox to sit, and thought "maybe I should clean the humidifier unit too.  Go back into the living room, pick up toys on the way.  Start to unplug the humidifier and realize there is a LOT of dust behind the toy rack and TV stand.  Grab the vacuum and clean that area, and realize while i have the vacuum out, I might as well do the living room...BUT...I am now torn.  Finish de-funking the humidifier, or clean floors???

Humidifier wins out (ADHD meds must be working, because that could have really flummoxed me), so the unit and I head back to the kitchen.  As I am cleaning the base out, I decide to wipe the whole unit down.  That is when I spy the blackest, nastiest glob of goo staring back at me from the HOLE WHERE THE HUMIDITY COMES OUT.  Did I ever mention, I have a thing about germs?  Not the clinical OCD, but REALLY get freaked by them.  Grab the Clorox and start spraying so much that I start coughing.  Realize that there is a little trap door on the unit, and when I open it up...

Sweet Gay Jesus, the horror. I very nearly retched, but held it together enough to nearly empty the Clorox container on it.  It was a tangled mess of black, gooey matter.  Just typing that sent shivers down my spine.  Grab my trusty toothbrush I keep in the holder just for purposes like this (never know when you will need to get in tiny crevices) and scrub my heart out. Freak out that some of it is not coming off the trap door, so I put it in the dishwasher and hit "sanitize".  A little piece of me dies when I  think how awesome it would be to put whole thing in there, but can't because of the cord.  A missed opportunity for a thorough and complete sanitization.

I finally concede it's as clean as it will get, so I stop scrubbing, but can't just let it sit there while the trap door is getting super-clean, so I spray it all down with more Clorox and let it sit.  Mold, you will die.  Satisfied, I head back to the sofa, sit back down, reach for my water.  Yup, empty cup.  And this is me medicated.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Cloth diapers

Somewhere along the adoption time-line I decided cloth diapering would be a great idea.  I am not sure what I envisioned, but I am pretty sure it wasn't trying to figure out exactly what Cam had eaten to cause the particularly stubborn stain I just got done working on. 

I actually really enjoy cloth diapering.  I feel good about not putting another diaper on our already teetering landfills, and I don't really mind scrubbing shit stains out of diapers.  Saving $$$$ is kind of a bonus too, and really got Rob on-board with wrapping Cam's ass in fuzzy, soft fleece. Cleaning the diapers is kind of a zen experience for someone like me, a Type A personality with a touch of OCD about cleanliness.  I have spent many hours researching the best diapers, ointments that don't stain or repel, what detergents to use, what stain sticks don't work, and what diaper won't leak, leaving my baby a clean, contented, gurgling ball of cuteness.

Many people cloth diaper to save money, but I will let you in on a dirty little secret:  people that cloth diaper exclusively, become addicts.  Their "stashes" (seriously) are extensive, and they talk about them reverently.  I had heard that some cloth diapering moms kind of went a little nutty, buying up every brand they could get their mitts on and dishing about how they use one type for napping and another for nights.  It wasn't until last week, when I decided I wanted a specific diaper, one with two colors (pink & green) that I ventured onto a CD forum.  I posted my query, thinking these nut jobs will surely know where I can find a basic pink and green little number, then decided to browse around the forum while I waited for a reply.  Most forums I have ever visited show traffic coming and going, but this forum was like Grand Central Station, I knew a reply would come post-haste.

I feel as though I fell ass-backward into a den of addicts.  The chatter was specific, and the acronyms hurt my brain.  There are specific "stalkers", who just like the name implies, stalk the perfect high...I mean, diaper.  I honestly have no idea how some of these women tend to their children, what with the full-on job it takes to keep up with all the diaper chatting, finding, and even selling.  The latter, presumably to help them buy even more diapers. 

Then a reply to my query!  A kindly soul had given me a link to a lady who custom makes diapers from whatever fabric you like.  SAY WHA????  You mean I can specifically ask for a print, and thus a diaper will be made?  Perfection.  The diaper I seek is for Cam's 1st birthday.  A little surprise for family and friends, so I shall say no more on that subject.  If it comes out as planned, it will be beyond cute.  Now I am done talking about it.  It's in the vault.

Anyway, I ordered the diaper.  And maybe a few more.  It wasn't quite "first one is free, dude", but it might as well have been.  I blame Bum Genius and their wares.  They had to go make cloth diapering so functional and easy.  With cute colors.  It drove me into wanting more.  More in the way of prints, color combinations.  My "stash" now feels woefully incomplete and blah.  All I have are plain old colors, the same old diapers I look at every day, scrubbing and scrubbing.  Over the weekend I spent a fair amount of time (okay, all of my time when Cam was asleep) searching for diapers that would equal BG in quality, but rival them in style. 

I AM those nut jobs.  Pretty sure the money we save on buying disposables is now funneled into my new habit, or hobby, whatever Judgy McJudgerson.  Come February 9th, well, you'll just have to stay tuned to see.  Cuteness unrivaled.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Not the smartest move.

A few months back I posted about how I was diagnosed with ADHD this year, and that I had tried several medications.  Well, those tries seriously sucked.  Sucked to the point I was all "fuck this", and had written off my Psychiatrist.  It took me a few months and some cajoling form my therapist, but I went back, and agreed to a fourth medication.  This time, we hit pay dirt.

Having thought for several years that one of my (many) problems might be ADHD, I often wondered and fantasized...well, until something else flitted through my brain...what having focus might be like.  So, I pinned all my hopes and thoughts on what I thought it would be like if my ADHD were treated with medications.  Now, with some distance from the first three drugs, and with the fourth working very well, I can say what I thought I knew was wrong.  I thought straight, unmitigated focus would be my savior.  In reality, what my new medication has done for me is given me motivation.  It's as if all the ideas and thoughts in my head can now see the light of day, before they were stuck in an ever-lasting vortex of chaos and confusion.  Nothing ever got done, unless it REALLY interested me, and then it got done...until I lost interest.  Follow-through is something I am not good with.

Now it's as if the swirling vortex has slowed down a bit, just a bit.  But the bit allows me to get things done.  In a round-about way, I guess I have achieved a measure of focus, just not in the ways I expected.  I still get very distracted when doing things that hold no interest to me, the big difference is I will KEEP DOING IT because I am motivated to see it through.  One of the things I was confused about with the other drugs is that they all seemed to give me, what I liken to doing a few lines of cocaine, an energy that was hard to contain.  Since hyperactivity can be reversed with using stimulants, my brain reasoned that I would not feel so energized, just hyper-focused.  Boy, was I wrong.

This is where i get to the part of not being very smart.  The drug I am taking happens to have some unfortunate side-effects, and a possibility for being abused.  Now, I am an admitted recovering alcoholic.  I have addiction issues, issues with loving things that are usually not good for me.  I first noticed how having all this extra energy was effecting me.  Our house has never been so clean.  Projects I dithered with for YEARS got done in hours.  My to-do list is being whittled down, so I find myself energized with nothing to do.  Being on some ADHD forums, I had read that people frequently taken their meds during the week when they needed ot be at the top of their game, but didn't take them on weekends.  So when I first started taking the new stuff, I backed off on the weekends.  Then my addict brain rationalized to me "why not take it on weekends?  you could be more productive then too."  Hmmm.  Good point!  SO, I happily started taking them 7 days a week and all was great.

Until my dumb ass did not realize that 1) the prescription was running low; 2) I had no refills; 3) and my doc works odd hours.  By low, I mean I had three days left.  So I called my doc, left a message on Monday.  He wouldn't be in the office until Thursday.  Then the pharmacy would not have the meds until after 1500 on Thursday.  I had no meds on Thursday, and I was fit to be tied.  Poor Rob worked from home that day.  The agitation, anxiety, and just general shit-headedness I was experiencing was not fun...for anyone involved.   To top it off, it snowed that day, leaving me stuck in the house with a very bored, grumpy, whiny Cam.

Lesson learned.  I have marked it on my calendar.  I am reminding Rob to remind me.  I set a reminder on my phone.  I also learned that when I forget my ADHD meds, I want to rip Rob's arm off and beat him with it when he repeatedly sighs in disgust when I have snapped at him for asking stupid questions.  I bet it's a lesson he has learned to.

Monday, December 13, 2010

We send, they send.

After much wondering, I found out today that when we send things to Cam's first mom, our agency then forwards them onto her.  I had always assumed that N & J would have to come by and pick up whatever updates and pictures we sent in.  One of our social workers had emailed me back today about another blog I do, for N & J.  So I took the opportunity to ask her just how the stuff we send make sit's way to Cam's first family.  Seems the agency lets the first family decide how they want to do it:  contact agency, come in pick up; contact agency, have it sent to whatever address they want; or to just hold all correspondence until future notice.

I found out today that N & J have chosen to have everything we send to the agency, sent directly to them.  Not sure why, but this made me incredibly happy and serene.  Perhaps it's because it shows N really does want to know everything about Cam, and might one day want contact.  A few days ago I sent a picture of Campbell on Santa's lap and an ornament with her hand print and picture.  It didn't occur to me until just yesterday I should have sent a card too. 

So I mentioned that the SW had gotten back to me about my other blog.  I keep a blog of all things Campbell, so that her first family can keep up with her happenings and goings on.  The agency didn't think it was a good idea at this point to give them the blog address, that it may be overwhelming right now, and to wait until a more specific pattern of sharing has been set.  Makes sense.  So whenever I get word they are ready, the blog will have been in motion and they can catch up.

I've had people ask me why I bother making the effort to reach out to people who gave their child up for adoption.  It used to piss me off that anyone would even hint that it wasn't worth my time or effort.  Then it occurred to me, I am immersed in adoption.  I chose to educate myself on the ins and outs.  I am not, by any means, and authority on it, but I am more knowledgeable that the average Joe on the street.  I have found myself being an educator, and advocate.  Some days it's exhausting, others I feel blessed to be able to share  what I have learned and what we are living.

Why do I bother?  Because the 10 month old human being sleeping upstairs in my home deserves to know where she comes from.  Cam's past does not belong to me, it belongs to her.  How she came into this world is not a story I can tell.  I can tell her some facts, which were only relayed to me.  I cannot explain why she has such perfect lips, or why she favors perching on one foot and a knee over just sitting or standing.  As she grows older, I won't be able to answer even more questions.  Questions that I had/have about myself, but can ask my biological mother because she's right down the street.  It's also for N & J.  They brought this amazing little baby girl into this world, whatever the circumstances are that had them place her, they still deserve to know Campbell.  I do not know what it is like to have a child in this world, and not have contact with them.  For me, it would be unbelievably cruel to keep that information from N & J. 

A caveat:  as far as I know, N & J do not pose any threats to Campbell's safety.  If that were ever the case, steps would be taken on my end to protect Cam.  There are some hard truths about her adoption story, and again, it's her story.  I just hope I am up to the task of helping her through those difficult parts, and that N & J can help as well.  My only fear is that I will push too hard for something Cam doesn't want.

So a week or so before Christmas, I am feeling hopeful that our adoption will continue to open up and be strong and healthy.  That just may be my Christmas wish. 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Ten months today.

Cam is 10 months old today.  Seriously, time has flown by and I cannot believe my little Babycakes is two months away from being a one year old.  It defies all sound and reason just how fast time goes when you have a baby in the house.  Except those first four, god-awful, sleep-deprived months.  The kid wears 10 months pretty well:

And thank-you Gap for having your fleece 50% off yesterday, because really, there is nothing cuter than a baby in a one piece fleece outfit with ears on it.  Except maybe one with footies.

So Happy 10 months little Babycakes.  You bring immeasurable joy, wonder, and contentment to your Mama.  Even when you decide that when I am carrying you under your arms and you don't like it to go completely limp, I still think you are the Bee's Knees and the Cat's Pajamas.  And no, that day last week when you swirled your little hand in the dirty toilet water and I picked you up, and you proceeded to thrust your hand in my face, I am not budging on the fact that you delight me even at your worst moments.  But Dixon (boy Pug) would like it if you would stop yanking him by the collar to chew his tags, and if you would throw more food on the floor.  Zelda (girl Pug) would appreciate it if you would stop trying to eat her food and swim in her water bowl.  You must be doing something right with the cats, because last night we couldn't find Alabama, until I peeked into your room, and saw her curled up next to you sleeping in the crib.  Clarence loves you because you let him steal food from your highchair tray.  And I am pretty sure Daddy gets up every morning with a smile on his face, because he knows he gets to spend the best part of your day with you, before Mama can drag her insomniac-ass out of bed in the morning.  Please keep clapping, chattering, clucking your tongue, pivoting on your knee, bouncing your head to the music, loving your broccoli, and grunting and hip-thrusting when you don't like something.  Please stop standing in the tub and giving me small heart attack after small heart attack and hating on your car seat.  those things get old.  But most of all, please don't ever stop being my lovey, snuggly little Munch.  Mama loves you.

Cam meets Santa, is not impressed.

Cam met Santa yesterday.  We went to the mall to give Daddy some quiet, since he's working from home.  I was shocked to find there was no line for Santa.  I took it as a good omen when the three year-old in front of us rushed up to Santa and hopped into his lap as her grandmother stood there dumbfounded.  "She's usually scared of Santa, this is odd."  When I walked up with Cam, she reached for him, so I thought *maybe* we'd get a good shot.

Something to know about Cam:  she will not smile willingly for any camera.  If it weren't for digital photography, we'd be stuck with 1000's of pictures of our darling daughter looking slack-jawed and confused.  The sweet girl doing the photos chirped out to Cam, imploring her to smile.  She squeaked a frog, waved her hands, all to no avail.  She snapped about a dozen pics.  Every single one resembled the pic above.  The only variation is the placement of the hands.

Cam tugged Santa's beard (it's real!), perhaps imparted a few of her secrets, and stared at him and us, as if we had all lost our damn minds.  When I came home and showed Rob the pictures he laughed hard and long.  A shared "joke".  We have deleted 1000's of pictures of Campbell over the last 10 months.  When we get a pic of her smiling you can bet there were about 20 just like it, but without the smile.  "The Look" is quintessential Cam:  observant and thinking.  We can tell when something has caught her attention and she is intrigued, because The Look immediately comes across her face.  We see it probably 20 times a day.

This time, perhaps she was puzzling out that the her mother caved to societal pressure by starting The Big Lie.  You see, I am on the fence about Santa and his height challenged minions.  On the one hand, it's a time-honored tradition of lying to our children about a fat guy distributing toys with the help of fantastical flying deer.  On the other is truth and honesty that Mama & Daddy go further into debt to buy toys that seem so awesome all wrapped up and pretty on Christmas morn, but turn out to be cheap crap and easily broken.  My quandary is borne not of a heart of dark black coal, but of someone who does not believe in the super-natural to begin with.  That, and my brother, Andrew ruined Santa for me at the tender age of five.  By locking me where my parents stored all of "Santa's booty, in a crawl space under the stairs.  It was the same year I asked Santa for a drum, so while I was extremely pleased to see that drum I was horrified to realize that it had all been a lie.  The forced visits with the scary, huge, hairy beast of a man were awful.  I remember the Santa of my youth took up temporary residence in a trailer outside of our local Sears.  You entered at one end of the trailer, and had to walk the long length of the trailer before you got to Santa.  A gauntlet of hell for me.  So upon realizing Santa was straight bullshit?  A cynic was born.  A cynic who hates liars and lying.

And that drum?  Andrew broke it about an hour after I finally got to play with it on Christmas morning.  Something I lord over him to this day.  I love my big brother, but still think Santa is a crock of shit.  Merry Christmas everyone!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Of abrupt departures and returns.

So I bailed out of here in October.  No word, nothing.  And I am sorry for that.  Fear struck fast and hard.  I am a very open person, and if asked I will give you the truth, usually brutally.  But I hate conflict, and with several of my posts I knew there could potentially be BIG conflict.  So I ran away.  With about two months off to ponder and miss my blog, I came to a place where I could be at least somewhat comfortable if people in my real life happened upon my ramblings.  I thought I was fearful of my family and friends stumbling upon this blog, but I puzzled out that it's not that.

What really scared me was Cam's first family finding this blog.  And it still does.  Not because I am trying to hide anything from them, but because I want to write about my life, and not hurt them in the process.  It's taken me a while to figure out that I am not in control (shit!) of other people's thoughts and feelings.  I still have a bit of trouble with that.  Control FREAK.  There is probably a step about that, but I have yet to work them (bits of shame trailing...).

I've done a lot of "soul" searching the last couple of months about what kind of parent I want to be and how Cam's life will be impacted.  For me it has been very important that Cam know as much about her first family as possible.  When we were presented with a possible placement back in February, an open adoption didn't seem very likely and honestly, it was one of the last things on my mind.  There were about two weeks of ups and downs, not knowing if it would work out.  We found out less than 24 hours before we were to pick her up from the hospital.  Our SW told us that we would be able to meet Cam's first mom when we got there.  I was so nervous, but very excited.  About five minutes from the hospital, SW called back to let us know mom couldn't bear to watch us leave with her baby girl.  Both Rob and I understood, but I was disappointed.  I truly wanted to lay eyes on the first mom that Campbell knew...but I was also a little relieved, because I wasn't sure how I could watch her go through so much pain, leaving her child behind.

I wrote letters about every two months and sent them to the agency with pictures.  I'd occasionally call to check and see if fmom had called for updates.  They heard nothing, we heard nothing.  All contact goes through the agency, so when the agency stopped calling, and our follow-up visits ended, I just let it go.  Still wrote the letters and sent the pictures, but wasn't hounding the poor social workers.  Rob thought it would be years before we heard from Cam's first mom, I was more optimistic.  :)

Last month the agency called to tell us N (first mom) had written us a letter.  The SW talked to Rob, so I got the gist:  it had some painful things written in it, things that might upset us.  That we should brace ourselves, but they know how empathetic we are, so keep that in mind.  The letter was then forwarded a few days later.  That wait was almost as nerve-wracking as the two week wait to get word on whether we would get to be the parents of this spectacular baby girl.

The SW wasn't kidding.  The letter was extremely hard to read.  N had a very tough decision to make when she decided on adoption.  She's married, has four boys.  Her husband may not have been the father.  To make matters more wrenching, what took so long for us to take placement is that her husband was having a hard time with the adoption plan.  Both of Cam's first parents (even though N's husband may have not been the father, he had rights to the baby in our state), in our eyes, were conscientious, deliberate, and very loving.  We hoped that J, N's husband, was Cam's father, because he was by all accounts a terrific father and husband.  Qualities anyone would be proud to have in their child.

N's letter touched on her profound sorrow, the grief her husband is experiencing, made mention of Cam's four brothers.  She also had questions, hopes, and fears.  I read it once, aloud to my husband, sobbing.  He then read it.  After that he tucked it back in it's envelope, and I didn't pull it back out for at least a month.  All this time I had wanted, hoped that a letter would come.  I was in no way prepared for the punch it dealt.  I thought I knew what it would be like.  Each evening as I held my daughter in my arms, I marveled at how perfect she was.  Always knowing that if not for another woman's crisis, she would not be here.  That while I was learning every coo, cry, and stretch, someone else was missing them.  In a way I was grieving for Cam's lost family, her birthright.  Some nights I felt confident that I was fulfilling the promises we made in our "Dear Expectant Parent" letter.  Other nights I felt like a fraud.  Perhaps the letter crept into my mind, and nestled itself right up against my feelings of inadequacy, because how else could I explain not being able to look at it again for so long?  It took me about three weeks to even TRY to write N back.  So jumbled were my thoughts and intentions, I started and stopped the letter dozens of times.  At one point, I saved the letter, closed out Word, and left it for a week.  When I came back, I had no recollection of anything that I had written.  Sounded like what I would say, sounded like my voice, but I could not remember putting those particular words together.

I left the letter as I had written it, but added a post script.  Pretty sure the thing was at least four pages long.  If you hadn't noticed, I can get wordy, and with Cam, I can write all day.  I touched on N's questions, hopes, and fears, but mostly I talked about our daughter.  The milestones (almost walking...5 teeth!) and the mundane (hates diaper changes...beginning to show a distaste for certain foods).  N had sent a picture of each of her boys, all ridiculously handsome, and clearly Cam's kin.  N is 100% sure that J is Cam's father (yea!), and the proof was staring me back in those photos.  N's youngest just turned 2, and is the spitting image of our girl. 

Now I want more.  More letters.  More pictures.  Histories.  All of it, the good, the bad, the ugly.  Part of N's letter dealt with shame and guilt.  Every family has that, and N IS my family now.  Linked by a beautiful almost 10 month old baby girl sleeping upstairs in my home.  I get excited, nervous, terrified at what will be with this extension of our family.  Mostly, right now I am scared.  Scared that N will back off, retreat from the hard work that will come with an open adoption.  Scared that I might be the one to pull back.  Scared that one day Cam will be pissed as all hell that I bothered to mix our families together as one.

So, I have returned to my blog to capture these moments in time.  I want, need to preserve it so that everything will have a context later.  Right now, I am in a hopeful place.