Friday, March 30, 2007

Sing Hallelujah

Comments on the comments. Again. I know, how obnoxious am I?

**Joy was sung by Staxx of Joy.

**Liz, the hotel reservations I was making in Seattle are for our summer vacation plans, although Blaine will be up there next week by himself.

**To all those who have been kind enough to ask about Blaine, I’ve not been avoiding the subject, I just haven’t known what to say so I haven’t said anything. Ok …. Soooooo, technically, that’s called avoiding. Whatever. We know nothing. Well, that’s not true. We know his next oral surgery is taking place the end of April. We know the mass in his shoulder is bigger and the pain is starting to radiate. We know it took a very long time to get all his appointments in Seattle (that he missed when his insurance authorization expired) rescheduled, but they have been. For April 9th. And the plan is for them to do a CT of the lungs, in addition to the CT and MRI’s they are doing of his head. So hopefully we will know more then. Although don’t count on it, because you know how it always goes for us. I have no doubt the CT machine will be broken that day, or the tech will be out with delirious malaria, or there will be a power outage on the entire western seaboard, or their will be a hijacking and his plane will get grounded in Dallas, or a herd of wild rats will invade his hotel and occupy his room, eating his shoes, rendering him unable to leave the hotel due to the hospital’s “No shoes, No shirt, No service” policy, and he’ll simply fly home sadly, barefoot, without knowing any more than we know now. Which is bupkis. (I threw that word in there for you, Jadine.)

**Sally, yes, the birthday letters are letters I write to my children every year on (or near, and I fudge the date on the actual letter) where I tell them how proud I am of them, what they’ve accomplished, what some of their favorite things are, etc. Sort of a year-in-review. They don’t know I write them, and I keep them in a scrapbook to give to them someday when they are old enough to appreciate the blood, sweat and tears that go into them, as opposed to using them to make paper airplanes or paper footballs, which is what I’m pretty sure Kellen would do to them now.

**Natalie, get out! You’re called Bobo, also? Bobo is the name my dear friend Renee’s boys call her mom, and in fact, what all of us call her. Their family has a whole weird nick-name fetish, though. Her sister Wendy is called Dee-Dee; her sister-in-law Kristy is called Tee-Tee; friends of the family call her Nee-Nee, and her youngest son calls his brother Zo-Zo. She scrapbooks, in fact, and I should definitely recommend she do a layout about this habit they have of re-naming everyone. (Renee, are you reading this? You need to document all of this!) Bobo is pretty much a saint, though, and we all adore her. In fact, she is the credit behind the quote I have in my e-mail signature: “If money can fix it, it’s not a real problem”. A quote that became much clearer to me after Kendrie was diagnosed with cancer. So, Bobo’s of the world, you rock!

**I had no idea so many people loved the Mitford Series. I don’t even remember who told me about them, I just found the note to buy them on my list. (See? See why you should never doubt the Importance of The List? If you write it, they will come. Or something like that.)

**Angela, no, my children write their own thank you letters, although you just reminded me that they are behind, as well. So thank you!

**Elena, ha! About putting a note on your list about checking into a notebook support group!!!

So, why am I singing Hallelujah???

The entire time I was pregnant with Kellen, the entire time we lived in Los Angeles, the entire time I walked the Del Amo Mall with Brayden in her stroller, stuffing my big fat face with garlic and Parmesan pretzels, I tried to remember how blessed I was, and to be thankful for the gifts I’d been given. A beautiful baby girl to take care of and love, and a beautiful baby boy on the way. And although I probably looked happy from the outside, and inside I *was* truly happy, I often felt as though I was playing a part on a stage. I did all the “new mom” things I was supposed to do, and certainly took care of Brayden’s physical and emotional needs, but looking back, there was definitely a tinge of desperation to my care-giving. I wasn’t the relaxed, happy mom that Brayden deserved. I tried to be -- I pretended to be -- but I wasn’t. I often wonder if the newborn Brayden, and the toddler Brayden, could sense my concern and fear about the court case back in Oklahoma, and the worry about how things might be going. I alternated between anxiety, flat-out terror, and bliss over being a mom to her. They say babies are pretty perceptive, but I’m going to hope she never picked up on my wide range of emotions, otherwise she’ll be in therapy for years to come.

What we thought would be a ten-day wait before we could adopt her, and then thought would be a few months, and then a few more months, had dragged on for over a year. Finally, two days after Kellen was born, we received word. The decision of the trial court was upheld, the appeal was over, and the case was closed. We were free and clear to finalize Brayden’s adoption. If that’s not a reason to Sing Hallelujah, I can’t imagine what is.

I wish I could properly convey to you the relief I felt at that point. Weak in the knees, adrenaline-rush, shaking all over kind of relief. Basically, I’d been holding my breath for thirteen months, and could finally let it out. If the happiness I felt yesterday over finding my lost notebook was a droplet of water, then the joy I felt knowing Brayden could officially, really, finally, truly, legally, formally, publicly be made my daughter, instead of my foster daughter, was the Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean and Atlantic Ocean, all rolled into one. I would have gladly strapped both babies to my back in a jumbo-Bjorn and walked the twelve hundred miles home, straight to the courthouse, if that had been a reasonable option. But it wasn’t. I had a two-day old baby, and was recovering from major surgery. As much as it KILLED ME not to rush back to Oklahoma and make everything legal YESTERDAY, we knew the logical thing to do was wait just a little while, until traveling was more feasible. We had waited thirteen months, what was a few more weeks?

So, my doctor said six weeks of recovery …. And week seven, we flew our happy butts right back home.

The day of the finalization, our attorney told us it would be a quiet, private affair, taking place in the judge’s chambers. But we had so many family members attend with us, to celebrate, they had to move the finalization into a regular courtroom, just so they could fit everyone in. The attorney who had handled the initial court case, and the appeal for us, who had patiently and gently led us through the process, and gone to bat for us so Brayden and I could leave the state, stood with us before the judge to begin the proceedings. There was a witness on the other side of him, Blaine was holding Brayden, and I was next to Blaine.

Our attorney started the actions by saying, “We are here today to make a matter of legal record what is already a matter of heart” and I burst into tears and blubbered my way through the entire thing. In fact, I tear up to this day when I remember, and think about how special that moment was, and how long we had waited for it.

Brayden? Not so impressed.

She squirmed out of Blaine’s arms and ran straight to the back of the courtroom, where her Grandma and Grandpa were waiting.

Then she got sidetracked by the swinging doors and played with those, entertaining herself the entire time.

I didn’t scrapbook back then, so the pictures I got that day were less than stellar. What the anal, amateur photographer inside me today wouldn't give for a do-over.

Especially, what you can’t see in the photos, is the two hundred pound weight that had been lifted off our shoulders. You wouldn’t think worry and fear would be so heavy, but they are. So is the guilt you feel, when you are forced to acknowledge that your worry is affecting your day to day life in a negative way. And possibly even affecting the one little person you love most in the world. So it was beyond good when the worry and fear was finally gone. And the great big hole they left behind was filled up with even more thankfulness for M, and the amazing gift she had given our family.

At long last, fifteen months later, we were able to appreciate it the way it should be appreciated, with clear eyes, a clear heart, and clear spirit.

And we’ve never stopped.

Sing hallelujah, indeed.

Why yes, I bought her that “My Mom Rocks” t-shirt. You have a problem with that?

I realize an impromptu game of flag football isn’t that extra-ordinary for most families, but this was the first time in close to a year that Blaine had felt good enough to play outside with the kids, even for a few minutes. Their laughter and happiness at having him back, even if only for a short while, was infectious and I ran inside to get my camera. And kept telling them to pose, which apparently ruined the impromptu-ness and flow of the game, or so they kept telling me. Whatever. I have it on record -- they’re happy -- look at their faces. My job is done.

Thursday, March 29, 2007


Ya’ll, I FOUND IT!!! Hidden underneath a huge pile of clothes I needed to take to Goodwill! (Which was stacked on top of my treadmill that I haven’t used in six months … I have no idea why I have a weight problem) I was putting the clothes in bags to take to Goodwill later today and when I picked up the last shirt, THERE was my black and white floral notebook underneath!!

I feel like a crack addict must feel when they take that first hit on the bong (or pipe, or spoon, or whatever it is crack addicts use) and that sweet, sweet relief flows through their veins. Aaaaaahhhh. Reunited with my notebook; it’s a great feeling indeed. I haven’t been this happy since I found out the new Harry Potter movie is finally being released this summer.

So, depending on your perspective, donating to charity either is completely worthwhile (because I wouldn’t have found the notebook if I hadn’t packed up the clothes) or completely over-rated (because the notebook wouldn’t have gotten lost if I hadn’t put the clothes there to begin with) --- take your pick.

And since I TOTALLY agree with Mary in the comment section, about how it’s not the end of the world, and a good reminder that I’m really only a legend in my own mind, I leave you with a copy of the things, THE VERY IMPORTANT THINGS, that were in my notebook on my to-do list. So you can get a glimpse into my everyday life, and see why I am such a loser who wastes all kind of brain cells (of which I no longer have that many) on silly, silly things. But you know what? Even though they are silly things, having them in a silly list, in a silly notebook; having that notebook in my grubby little hands once more, makes me very, very happy.

*Library - Check out Island of the Blue Dolphin. (Kendrie’s gifted teacher is reading it to her class and a child dies in the book. Because of her personal situation, and having lost friends to cancer, I want to read the book myself and make sure I can handle any questions that might arise in an appropriate manner. And I think it goes without saying that all these words in the parentheses??? *THOSE* words are not on my list. Just my explanation to you.)

*Write Brayden and Kellen’s annual birthday letters.

*Pull credit reports.

*Start investigating laptops.

*Find Pioneer Days dress for Brayden.

“Where do you Go” by No Mercy
“Beat of My Heart” by Hilary Duff
“Uninvited” by Alanis Morrisette of City of Angels soundtrack
Goo Goo Dolls “Better Days”
Dance Version of “Crazy”
Adam Sandler “The Wedding Singer”
“The Rose” Bette Midler
“The Flame” Garth
Aerosmith “Dude Looks Like a Lady” (come on, how can you NOT love that song???)
The Smiths

*Check into The Mitford Series by Jan Karon

*Write Amy

*Contact Tech Support Computer Services at 478-xxx-0049 for help with laptop information.

*Call and check on summer tours. Make sure credit cards are updated.

*Book Seattle hotel.

*Take clothes to Goodwill (oh, the irony!)

*Recycle center

*Toys ‘R Us -birthdays Jacob and Ryan

*Proctor at school Apr 23-24

*Buy Mom's airline ticket for Blaine's next surgery

*Return Surprise Island to library

*Bank - Get quarters (to blatantly bribe the kids to not whine when we are driving on vacation next week)

Although I’m a little self-conscious to admit this, what with me not being Catholic and all, someone sent me an e-mail this morning and suggested I pray to the Saint of Lost Things about the notebook. I didn’t actually say a prayer, but when I read the e-mail, I substituted notebook in my mind ---- and it showed up! Maybe I need to check into this Catholicism thing more seriously --- they can find lost stuff, AND they have the green light to drink wine whenever they want. Nothing like those stuffy Baptists around here.

I’m so full of joy. I pink puffy heart my notebook. I think my blood pressure just went down ten points.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

I Have Nothing .... To DO

I know I have mentioned to all of you in the past about my quirk for to-do lists. I actually carry a small notebook with me at all times, and keep a running list of things I need to get done, and cross out items after I accomplish them. I’m one of those people who will even write things down on the list after I do them, if they’re not already written, just for the pleasure of crossing them out.

The notebook contains not only things I need to do, but appointments I have, phone numbers I need, web sites I want to check out, items I need to buy, prescriptions to fill, grocery items we’re out of at the house, songs I want to download, blog ideas, scrapbook layout ideas, etc. This notebook, needless to say, is vital to my existence. Like Diet Dr. Pepper. Like air. Pretty much EVERYTHING is in it. It’s basically a poor man’s version of a Palm Pilot or Blackberry; phone book, address list, appointment schedule, to-do list, all rolled in to one. Usually it is in my purse, so I can grab it whenever inspiration strikes, or to make a reminder note, or to jot down a web address or billboard phone number, or whatever. Occasionally it is loose in my car, and fairly often I bring it inside to my computer. Regardless, it is always within arms’ reach, because it is like OXYGEN for me. Without it, I am but a lost soul, wandering the earth, with no idea what time I should be at the dentist, or what I need to purchase from Target, or what classroom donations the teachers want, or which phone calls need to be made the most urgently.

Without It? Lost. Soul.

Speaking of "lost", I lost my notebook this weekend.

Let me repeat that, in case the gravity of the situation isn’t quite clear:


I am 99% certain I lost it at Kroger, because I had it when I went grocery shopping on Friday morning. I don’t use it as much on the weekends, so I didn’t notice it was missing until Monday afternoon. I remembered having it on the dog food aisle, and setting it down so I could pick up a case of Alpo with both hands. *squinching up my face, thinking really hard* That is my last memory of it.

I went back to Kroger first thing yesterday morning, and asked at customer service if anyone had turned it in. Naturally, that would have been too easy. No simple lost and found for me! So I went back to the dog food aisle and got down on my hands and knees and moved every single case of Alpo off the shelf and searched for it. I’m not even kidding. That’s my level of desperation -- germ phobe that I am, crawling around on the floor of a public supermarket. (Why couldn’t I have lost it in the Purell aisle???) I think I might have left it in my cart without realizing it. I would have gladly hand-searched every cart in that store, but I was afraid I would be arrested by management for harassment of the other shoppers.

We have turned the house upside down. I offered five bucks to whichever kid found it first. None of them found it, but Brayden found an old diary of hers, Kendrie found two matchbox cars under the sofa, Kellen found nothing because the lazy little shit said he didn’t need any money and he wasn’t looking, and Blaine found a disgusting, congealed, rancid sippy cup of milk behind Kendrie’s dresser. Blech. But no notebook.

Ya’ll, I’m not kidding. What am I supposed to do? I have no idea what I should be doing when, or where. Blaine, Mr. Always Practical, suggested I just get a new notebook from my stash (yes, I have a stash because I go through them every month or two), close my eyes, and try to mentally and visually recall what was on the old list. So I squinted my eyes shut, and tried to remember what was printed. *squinting, squinting*

Something about a book that I wanted to buy. And oranges. I think I needed to buy oranges.

That’s all I could come up with.

I’m pathetic.

Instead of hyperventilating every time I think about it, which is what I did much of the day yesterday, I’m trying to see this as a positive thing. It’s quite freeing, actually. All the restraints and pesky, obligatory to-do items are now gone. Vanished. I should feel liberated, right? Like those kids who burned things in the 1970's, only instead of draft cards and bras, I'm suddenly without order and function.

So what if one of my kids misses an orthodontist appointment, and I can’t rsvp to that birthday party because I’ve lost the number, and I’ve misplaced the list of every single song title I got from my girlfriends last weekend to download off iTunes. None of that really matters, right? Who needs the promotion code for my photo order? Who needs to remember that I'm a month behind on thank-you notes? Or that I promised to proctor tests at the school next month ... on what days .... ???

Blaine asked me if I wanted to go to lunch on Friday and I said, no, I had too much to do before we leave on our Spring Break Vacation on Saturday morning.** He asked, “Yeah? What all do you have to get done?” and it suddenly occurred to me. Nothing. I have nothing to DO. I’ll probably miss getting my hair cut and forget to go to the bank and not remember who I should paypal money to and never remember to make hotel reservations, but I am FREE and CLEAR for lunch on Friday! Whoo! I’m free!!

Egads, no I’m not. I’m all butt-clenched just thinking about it.

PS. If any of you find a black and white floral notebook, I swear I will pay you five dollars.

Comments on the comments:

Jadine, no it is not too late, and yes you should watch it. I used to be a fan of reality tv, until the mean-spirited, cold-hearted, backstabbing manipulating psychos of Survivor ruined it for me. What I love about DWTS is that there is no ruthless maneuvering to get oneself ahead of one’s opponent. The dancing is lovely to watch, and I SO enjoy the behind-the scenes footage of the stars trying to learn the dances. The recap show is WAY too long, but those television stations are doing their best to suck all the almighty advertising dollar into their wallets, I suppose. It is a family-friendly show, and you truly should watch it.

Although, was I the only person who lost their flipping cable signal RIGHT AT THE VERY MOMENT THEY WERE ANNOUNCING WHO WAS VOTED OFF????? I was all, “Oh, hell no, this isn’t happening!” but it WAS, and we wound up having to mute the television so we could read the verdict on the closed captioning, with no picture!! So I didn’t get to see the reactions and was totally bummed. (I take this way too seriously, don’t I?)

Kati, can I just say how much I adore you? Because you are a fabulous role model, and Kendrie loves you, and mostly because you don’t beat me about the head with your crutches when I continuously spell your name wrong.

Anonymous at the Gym -- ha! Listen to what happened to me this weekend (well, besides the fact I lost my bleeping NOTEBOOK but I think that topic has been covered) I took Kellen to a birthday party (one I was able to rsvp for back when I still had my notebook … oh, sorry, I just can’t let it go) and it was a group of ten or so rowdy boys, playing outside, being rambunctious, doing what boys do. They were tossing a football, sort of near my chair, and the grandmother hollered, loudly, in front of all the adults at the party, “You boys be careful and don’t bump into Kellen’s mother --- there’s two of them sitting there, and you need to watch out!” and at first I was like, “Two of them? Two what?” and then I realized she meant two people, as in she thought I was pregnant. (sigh) But at least it got the boys out of my way.

**Yes, we’re leaving on another vacation, but I have good news this time! Blaine is coming with me, which means I will have his laptop, so should have internet access the entire time. Not that you’ll want to hear every detail of our trip, but at least now it’s a possibility. Although, really, I can give you the summary now, and just save us both the trouble:

Vacation begins.
Kids fighting.
Mom pulling her hair out.
More fighting.
Even more fighting. Over every stupid thing under the sun you would think my children left their brains back at home.
Vacation ends.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

My Predictions Week One

OK, I promise I'm not going to turn this blog into a Dancing With The Stars (heretofore known officially as DWTS, because I'm cool like that) blog. That would be ridiculous, especially considering I know bupkis about ballroom dancing. So I promise to only discuss it once a week. OK, twice, if you count the elimination show as well.

Katie, thank you for clearing up my prosthesis worries. I actually feel very relieved now that you've explained things and alleviated my concerns!! I'd be curious to know your opinion about her and what she's doing. Personally, she's lovely, but if they were looking for a role model with spunk and personality, YOU, my friend, should be dancing on that show!! (Actually, you would be perfect as one of the hosts!)

Natalie, duh! Of course they're sleeping together! If they're not, they should be. (Not that I'm endorsing pre-marital sex, ahem.) (PS. I am only kidding and in no way mean to disparage the character of either of them. But they're both so stinking cute, I wish they WERE a couple!)

So, my predictions for this week:

Who I think *will* get voted off: Leeza Gibbons (not that she did a bad job, but I just don't think she has the popular vote.)

Who *I* would vote off: Paulina P. (again, she did ok, and her personality is cute, but overall, I think she's the weakest female dancer.)

Who I think *should* be voted off: Billy Ray Cyrus. (He did great the second night and I was sitting on the sofa with a goofy grin on my face the entire time ... but the first night? He sucked.)

Let's see if I get it right. I've got an order of Pizza Hut breadsticks and giant Diet Dr. Pepper in the other room, and fifteen minutes until the show starts. Now THIS is what I call the good life!

Monday, March 26, 2007

I Can't Take the Stress

Seriously. I am terrified Heather Mills' leg is going to fly off, or she's going to fall down. I find myself holding my breath and clenching my stomach muscles the entire time she is dancing. Of course, considering that is the only work-out my stomach muscles have seen since 1985, perhaps it will be in my own personal best interest if she stays in the competition for quite some time.

I adore her. I adore all of them. Well, there are a few I don't adore, but for the most part? All of them? Adorable.

Who do you think is going to go?

And what does it say that I bribed my children into brushing their teeth and putting their pajamas on early, by telling them they could stay up and watch with me? For them, of course, it's all about Hannah Montana's dad. And tonight? He was adorable.

Although Brayden did know all the words to "Ring of Fire", which I found frightening, and for which I place the blame squarely on the shoulders of her Uncle Cliff.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Happy Birthday, Kellen!

I won’t bore you to tears by recounting every single detail of my delivery of Kellen. (But you know I have to at least hit the highlights, right?) :)

Everything went fine, no drama. Despite the all-night application of the cervical gel, and the all-day administration of Pitocin (the contraction-causing hormone used to induce labor) my body still wasn’t ready to deliver him. But (explanation for Angela -- the placenta can only hold out so long, then it starts to break down, which is what was happening to me. Hence the reason my doctor wanted to move forward with the delivery.) That day, March 25, 1998 (nine years ago today) I dilated to a “9” and stayed there for almost eight hours without making any further progress. I hadn’t slept well at home on Monday night, hadn’t slept at ALL at the hospital on Tuesday night, and by 7pm Wednesday night, it was obvious the baby still had no intention of being born anytime soon. He gets all sulky and pouty and drags his feet like that now, too. I remember my doctor coming in that evening and giving me two choices …. Either turn off the pitocin, try and get some sleep, and start again in the morning, or just give up and have a c-section. I responded with “I don’t care if you pull this kid out of my NOSE, I’m pooped and I want it over with so I can get some rest.” His reply? “Good, because I have tickets to the Lakers game tonight and to be honest, you’re messing up my evening.” (Actually, that made me smile.)

So, forty-five minutes later, Kellen was born via a calm, orderly c-section. Weighing in at 8 lb, 13 oz, it’s probably just as good that I never got around to pushing. I’m sure my vagina thanks me.

What I remember about that day:

*Worrying about Brayden and if she was ok with the girlfriend who was babysitting her, especially since we hadn’t planned on her being there anywhere near that long.

*Thinking that the man who invented epidurals should be sainted.

*That the air conditioner in my room wasn’t working and despite maintenance coming in to work on it, while I was in labor, it still felt like a sauna. I was relieved to get to the cool atmosphere of the operating room, even if it meant that oh holy crap, I was fixing to be cut open and a live baby was going to be pulled out of me, like a rabbit out of a hat!

*Vomiting on Blaine when they increased the meds for the section. (I’m fairly confident that is NOT one of his favorite memories.)

*Blaine looking at me during the delivery, with a mixture of disgust and horrified fascination on his face, and saying to me, “Oh my GOD, your guts are laying all over your stomach.” Ooh, that’s nice.

* That after the c-section, and then all the other junk they do before sewing you back up (I’m assuming they put all my guts back where they belong? Just a guess.) and then they take you to recovery, and take the baby away to clean him up and get his apgar scores and prick his heel and put drops in his eyes and play canasta or whatever it is they actually DO with newborn babies, it was after midnight before I got back in my sauna room. I hadn’t slept for approximately 60 hours, had gone through all the stages of labor, right up to the pushing part, and had just had my middle section sliced open. I. WAS. EXHAUSTED. Blaine had left, finally, and I was alone in my room, unable to pull myself into a sitting position, stuck like a turtle on her back in the bed, and this chipper, too-happy, perky little baby nurse brought Kellen to me and asked, in an annoying cheerful voice, “Are you ready to breastfeed your baby?” I almost cried. In fact, I think I might have cried. Yes, I definitely cried.

*Choking on my dry eggs at breakfast the next morning and having to cough, and thinking I was going to rip open that incision and the staples from my c-section would probably shoot out and poke someone in the eye and blind them and that my guts would be all over the place again from the forcefulness of the coughing. Gosh, that hurt. You have NO IDEA the number of times each day you use your stomach muscles (even someone with stomach muscles as flabby as mine) until they’ve been cut open. Coughing, laughing, sitting up, laying down, getting out of bed, getting into bed, talking, breathing, watching tv …. It all hurts. Every single bit of it.

But of course, like all women everywhere who’ve suffered through the physical pains of delivery, no matter the method, it was worth every single twinge and second of discomfort. Take one look at this smooshed up little face and tell me it wasn’t worth it:

Although, this picture makes me laugh every time I see it because I was still in my “What do you mean I can’t lift anything over ten pounds with a c-section? The baby by **himself** is almost ten pounds!” phase and I asked Blaine to dress Kellen in the outfit I brought for the Obligatory Ugly Hospital Photo (OUHP). Not only did Blaine put his hat on backwards, as evidenced by the seam going right up the front of his head, he also had his ear all flopped down and didn’t notice. So really, it’s funny. Even if my baby does look like an orphan already.

Almost as funny as the fact Brayden was flipping all of us off in her OUHP.

Can I just say that the first pictures I got of them together make me smile even more?

Brayden, meeting Kellen for the first time:

And I knew, instantly, that despite the fact none of this had gone as planned, and the pregnancy certainly caught us by surprise, that it wasn’t going to ruin Brayden’s life. I smile now when I remember how on the day before I was induced with Kellen, I sat in the middle of the living room floor, holding her on my lap, tearing up and apologizing to her for what was about to happen. Oh, sure, there are days now when he’s annoying the crap out of her and they’re fighting like cats and dogs that I’m sure she wishes he’d been swapped for a life-size Barbie in the hospital, but overall, they’ve loved each other since day one.

And if the very long labor wasn’t enough to convince you he is my child, let me tell you what he said after soccer practice yesterday. After the games, the parents normally trot out on the field and make two lines facing each other. We hold our hands up and make a tunnel for the kids to run through, as we yell congratulations to both teams. It’s just a fun, silly little ritual they do in our soccer league and probably in every league across the country. This is Kellen’s first season in the older kids league, though, and the first game the parents didn’t do the tunnel. I was a little sad, thinking how they must not do it for the older kids. And thinking about how basically Kellen and the other kids must be too old to enjoy it, and soon he would be shaving and driving and dating and then some little bimbo in a tight skirt would break his heart and I’d have to squash her like a bug …..

Anyway, back to the tunnel.

After Saturday’s game, I heard some of the kids on the team yelling, “Hey, where’s the tunnel?” and then I heard the coach holler, “You parents didn’t do the tunnel the first game … do one this time!” and I felt so happy, and even got a little misty-eyed, thinking about the tradition of the tunnel and how my baby, my sweet, precious little baby is still TOO young enough to enjoy the tunnel. Then, from across the field, as loud and clear as anything, came Kellen’s voice, for all to hear: “Who cares about the tunnel? Where are the SNACKS???”

Ah, yes. He definitely sprung from THESE loins. We do have our priorities.

In the meantime, happy birthday Kellen, my nine-year old boy. I love you more than life itself, and will never let you live down the fact it practically took a stick of dynamite and a load-lifter to get you to come out on the day you were born. And I’ve adored you every moment since.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

A Day Late and a Dollar Short

Actually, this journal entry is more like two weeks late. I didn’t intend to go so long before updating, but since returning from my trip last weekend, I keep getting sidetracked by pesky chores like sleeping. And bathing. And feeding my children. So thanks to those of you who have waited patiently, checked in for updates, and didn’t abandon me entirely for the numerous other bloggers out there who are funnier, smarter, and update in a much more timely manner. I can only assume those other bloggers don’t get sidetracked as easily as I do --- as indicated by the fact I’ve sat down three times today to write this update, and wound up a) shopping at the mall for an Easter dress, b) wrapping presents, and c) watching an episode of The Naked Brothers Band with the kids.

I had to go back and read my own updates for the past two weeks, to remember just where I left off in the fertility/adoption chronicles. It was August of 1997, Brayden was six months old, I had just found out I was pregnant, and the adoption was still held up in the courts, but the judge in our case had agreed that I could take my “foster baby” across state lines and join Blaine. We were hoping the case would be settled and we could return to OK to finalize the adoption in just a few months. In the meantime, I was eager to get her to California and start our “real” life, as opposed to the first six months, when we were living out of a suitcase at my parents’ house.

So, that’s what I did. I loaded up my car with all the baby things and drove half-way cross country. Since making a 24-hour drive with a 6-month old in the car wasn’t my idea of fun ….. plus the car was so overloaded with all the crap we had accumulated I would have had to put her and her carseat on top of the car, a la the grandmother in Chevy Chase’s Vacation, AND considering I was only about six weeks pregnant, and had to stop every few hours to use the bathroom …. and nap ... we thought a smarter option might be for my sister to fly with Brayden to Los Angeles. Good thing, since it wound up taking me three days to make the drive. By the time I got there, my sister was already gone again. But at long last, Blaine, Brayden and I were living together as a family.

It was ………… mostly good. I mean, of course it was good-great-fabulous because we had waited so long for this day. But it was tainted a little, I have to admit, by the cloud of the court case hanging over our heads. There was a lot of adjusting to be done; Blaine and I had lived apart for over six months. Despite having bitched and moaned endlessly about being stuck with my parents that entire time, and never having any space or privacy, I missed them and felt homesick. It was perplexing … when I was in OKC, I was homesick for Blaine and California. Once I finally got to California, I was homesick for OKC. Seriously, I was a nut-job and had no idea what would make me happy.

Slowly but surely I was coming to terms with my VERY unplanned pregnancy. But I still hated all the ignorant comments I got from people who either knew about the adoption (“See? It always happens that way!”) or who had no idea about the adoption (“Heh-heh, haven’t you two figured out what causes that yet?”) It was incredibly ironic, to go from long-time fertility patient, to having a baby and one on the way, all in the space of six months. I felt very unsettled; as if I had finally found my identity, only for it to shift on me again and again. Simply put, Blaine and I had been knocked for a loop, and I was having trouble getting my legs back under me again. I would whine and complain about how “this wasn’t how I planned it” --- and then I would have an overwhelming desire to smack myself in the face with a blunt object because HOW DARE I complain? We finally, at long last, had the beautiful, perfect baby we always wanted, and I had the nerve to gripe because everything wasn’t perfect???? (I don’t know if Prozac was on the market yet, but perhaps I should have investigated that possibility.)

Within a month of me and Brayden moving back into our rental property, where Blaine had been living alone (or as alone as you can be with two dogs) we packed up and moved to historic base housing. Historic being code for “old and scabby”. This was in a skanky part of southern California. We lived next door to a drug rehab facility, were just a few miles from the harbor, and frequently heard gunshots at night. It was an ugly, scary neighborhood and I never felt comfortable there. I never felt comfortable in any part of Los Angeles, period. I was lonely. I didn’t know any of my neighbors. Just like in Oklahoma, I found myself filling up the days by taking Brayden to the mall and pushing her around in her stroller. And since I was pregnant, stopping almost daily at Auntie Anne’s pretzels and eating two jumbo garlic and parmesan cheese pretzels with a large Coke to wash them down with. No, I have no idea why I gained so much weight, do you?

Brayden and I moved to California in August. August turned into September, which turned into October. And we received word we had won the court case. Then received word there was an appeal. So we were still waiting, and still weren’t allowed to adopt the daughter that had been with us since birth.

Thank the Lord above that by then, I had made two friends in this town. One was a fellow military wife, and the other was a “local” I met at MOPS. Not that we did a lot together, but I’m pretty sure if I hadn’t had the two of them to at least fill up *some* of my days, I might have gone insane. I was really unhappy. I kept telling myself that I simply hated L.A. To be honest, it’s not my kind of town. Too big, too many people, too dirty. I am a suburbs kind of girl … preferably surrounded by farmland. I hated how crowded everything was; how much traffic; how everyone but me spoke another language. Blaine was unhappy, too. He’s not a city kind of guy, either. Hunting is his favorite hobby, and there, well, freeway road-rage shootings don’t count. He said he felt suffocated by all the people. How can you feel claustrophobic when on one side of you, as far as the eye can see, is the Pacific Ocean? Yet we did.

We told ourselves that our problem was L.A. itself. Our neighborhood was scary. Our yard had a eight-foot chain link fence with rolled barbed wire at the top, and we often found random items --shoes, batteries -- people from the drug rehab behind us had chucked into our backyard. I worried for the dogs and didn’t feel safe going outside with Brayden. So I hibernated in the house. A lot. And got pasty, in addition to fat. A few months after we moved out of our rental property, into the "historic" base housing, which we thought was scary, there was a home-invasion robbery and murder in our old neighborhood. I just never felt safe or comfortable. And did I mention I was lonely? Seriously, if it hadn’t been for my two friends Cathy and Annie, I might have never gone anywhere but the mall and the pretzel shop. It was hot. I was pregnant. There was no air conditioning in either of our houses.

Looking back, I was probably clinically depressed. The only saving grace, and I mean only, besides those two friends, was Brayden. She was the most wonderful, amazing baby. Ever. She was perfectly content to spend all day at home with me, going from bouncer-sizer to blanket on the floor to bouncy seat to swing to bathtub to a walk in her stroller. She slept well, she napped well, she ate well. And because I had nothing else going on in my life, I doted on her. I loved her more and more with every passing day. And with every passing day, I was more and more terrified of losing her.

And that was the crux of our problem. It wasn’t Los Angeles. It wasn’t the crime, or the car-jackings, or the gangs, or the graffiti, or the Santa Anna winds, or the pollution, or the disgusting fish taco stands on every corner. It was that our own heads weren’t clear, and instead of facing our fear, we blamed our surroundings. Los Angeles will go down in history as the suckiest place we ever lived, where I was a miserable human being, but I do at least acknowledge it was *partly* because of my attitude. (And partly because of all that other shit.)

Halloween came and went.

Thanksgiving came and went.

Christmas came and went.

I spent more time at the mall; ate more pretzels, and got bigger and bigger with my pregnancy.

Brayden’s first birthday came and went.

We were still waiting to hear final word on the court case.

And finally, my due date with Kellen came.

And went.

And went a little bit more.

That kid would STILL be in there, given the chance.

Nine years ago today, on March 24, 1998, my doctor gave up hope that my body would EVER go into spontaneous labor, and ordered me to the hospital for an all-night application of cervical softening agent, hoping that would do the trick and I would go into labor.

I was so nervous I didn’t sleep all night in the hospital. I hadn’t slept much, or well, the night before, either. The doctor said it came down to this: I was ten days past my due date. I hadn’t had a single contraction. I wasn’t dilated, or effaced. I was not in any kind of crises mode, but my placenta was the consistency of an old sponge, and it was time for the baby to come out. So if the cervical ripening gel didn’t work, we would induce labor the next morning.

It didn’t. And so we did.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

I'm Not Only Important, But I'm Very Very Busy As Well.

I have a good friend named Lisa who I have known for almost twenty years. She and her husband are a military couple, like us, and they have three kids, also like us. Their kids are a few years older than ours, and I remember when her youngest started school full-time … the same year my *oldest* started school full time. I remember asking Lisa if she was excited to have her days to herself, if she planned to go back to work, and what she hoped to do with all that free time on her hands.

Now, five years later, I would like to make my formal, public apology to Lisa for being such an asshat. Free time? WHAT free time? I’m amazed she didn’t reach through the phone line and smack me. I don’t know where I got the idea that being a stay at home mom meant I would actually stay at home, but that’s just crazy talk. In between the errands and running around I try to accomplish during the day so my evenings are free to spend with my family, the volunteering at the school, the chauffeuring the kids to and from all their activities, and the projects and hobbies I like to do, things are busier than when I worked. Of course, back when I worked full-time I didn’t have kids, so obviously that’s a slanted statement. And don’t get me wrong -- I’m not complaining. I LOVE my life and I choose, every single day, to fill up each 24 hour period with things that are important to me. Sure, some of them I enjoy more than others (like meeting a friend for lunch, or hanging out with the other moms at soccer practice) and some are not as enjoyable, but this is my way of life and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I take full responsibility for the choices I’ve made and for the way Blaine and I have worked out our priorities, and overall, am extremely happy with the way I spend my time.

Now, all that is to say, the only thing more obnoxious than people who don’t update their blogs, are people who whine about not having time to update their blogs. While I’m certainly not above whining, there’s no doubt I do it far too much. So, no whining today. Just the facts: since arriving home Monday night from my scrapbooking weekend, things have been hectic. “Dog at the vets van in the shop unpacking volunteering at school bunco with friends help with homework lunch with friends dry cleaners library do ebay lunch with the kids doctors appointment with Blaine soccer practice soccer pictures orthodontist appointment getting the passport photos done fundraiser night at the pizza parlor” kind of busy. It’s all fun; it’s all happy; it’s all good.

Except for the fact, my point is, that these fun activities have kept me from the computer the past three days and I’m going through blog withdrawals. Who am I to complain about not having a laptop when I can’t even sit my fat ass down at my regular computer this week unless its to tweak the 426 photos I took of my girlfriend, or download and copy all the photos I took at the Valentines Dance and give to the librarian for the end of year slide show, or obsessively search the web for a center console for our van that can be delivered in time for our vacation next month so Kendrie can quit whining about not having any place to set her drink, or for the perfect black ear muffs for our vacation this summer who cares if it’s still three months away I need ear muffs damnit and I *WILL* find them!

And that doesn’t even encompass the 82 loads of laundry awaiting my return, which I find especially appalling considering I left three loads of clean laundry that Blaine and the kids folded and put away for me while I was gone. What’s the deal with the stinking laundry??? There are only five of us --- how do we generate so much laundry? How the heck do moms with six for seven kids keep up? Or Ma Walton, who not only had eight or nine kids (I’m not sure exactly how many kids because I didn’t really watch that show a lot, I was more of a Little House on the Prairie kind of gal) but she also had to beat the clothes against a rock in a stream or something. I mean good grief, I have a big shiny machine that swishes the clothes around in soapy warm water, and then wrings them out, and another big shiny machine that tosses and tumbles them amidst hot air and good-smelling fabric softener sheets until they are dried. It’s not like laundry is THAT labor-intensive, yet it still seems to suck all the free time out of my day ---- CAN ANYONE EXPLAIN THIS MYSTERY TO ME????

OK, now I’m exhausted just thinking about all that laundry.

Now, my point is (I know, I said that several paragraphs ago but got off on that laundry tangent) I have every intention of continuing with the infertility/adoption/surrogacy tale, just not tonight. Tomorrow night, for sure. Well, shit, tomorrow night Kendrie has a soccer game and I’m totally dying to see the premier episode of Dancing with the Stars that Blaine taped for me while I was gone …. *hopefully* tomorrow night, for sure. Or maybe Saturday. But probably tomorrow night. Definitely. Maybe.

In the meantime, I leave you with a funny story involving me and the laundry that never dies. One of my pet peeves is when my kids (no specific names mentioned :cough: Brayden :cough: Kendrie :cough: ) pull their socks off and put them in the laundry basket twisted inside out. Now that Brayden is doing her own laundry it’s not such a big deal because her inside out socks are her problem. But Kendrie still does it to almost every pair and it makes me crazy. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out she does it on purpose, just to annoy me. Depending on my mood, I either charge her a quarter out of her allowance for each pair I have to fix, or make her turn them herself, or give a long-suffering sigh and just do it myself. Today, she was at school and not nearby to appreciate my sighing, so I just fixed them. I was sitting in my office chair, and I bent over and picked the socks up off the floor, turned them right side out, put them back in the laundry basket, picked up the laundry basket, and tried to stand up. Unfortunately, I have gained so much weight, and my ass is so officially huge, that the arms of my office chair stuck to my butt and I lifted the chair off the ground. At first I started laughing, then I realized, “How is this funny???? My ass is so ginormous I can carry a CHAIR around on it." That’s not funny; that’s depressing.

So. to show my ass who's boss, after soccer pictures tonight I took the kids to Sonic and bought myself a large Sonic Blast with Resee’s Peanut Butter Cups and extra chocolate syrup. And like I wasn’t ashamed enough of myself and my total lack of willpower, you know what happened next? A lady walked up to my van, and said, “Hey, you’re Kristie, aren’t you? I read your blog … I bet you’re here to buy a Diet Dr. Pepper!” And the only thing more embarrassing than having to admit the ice cream dessert the size of Montana was MINE, was the fact she walked up just in time to hear me yelling at my kids about how bratty they were being. Because nothing advertises your fabulous parenting skills like a good, loud “I don’t care if you slam your entire HEAD in it, I said leave your sister alone and SHUT THE DAMN DOOR NOW!!!”

So Dell, it was nice meeting you again. But the next time you see me at Sonic, please snatch the Blast from my fat little hand and force me to order a diet drink. Or better yet, a water. (gasp!) My giant ass will thank you.

PS. Do you realize that as long as this journal entry is, about NOTHING, except for how I’m too darn busy to type, I could have just typed what I intended to type all along??? God, I’m a moron.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

I'm So Important

Flying is always an interesting activity for me. Although I don’t relish hurtling through the air in a metal tube at several hundred miles an hour, and usually spend much of the flight mentally preparing myself for a fiery/watery/quick/prolonged death, and suffering the guilt of leaving my children mother-less so I can enjoy a weekend with my girlfriends, I still take some pleasure in the business of flying. Mainly, because there is a Cinnabon in the airport, but also, I enjoy seeing the other passengers, and wondering what they’re up to. Are they flying on business? Pleasure? Vacation? Students? Military? Blaine often accuses me of staring in public. I prefer the term “People-Watching”. It sounds much less nosy, don’t you think?

What my People-Watching led me to believe this weekend, however, is the realization that I am not very important. In fact, at first glance, it appeared everyone on the planet was more important than me. A few examples:

When I fly out of Atlanta, I park in the long-term parking and take a shuttle to the terminal. The shuttle browses around the parking lot picking people up, then makes the three-minute drive to the passenger drop-off area. For the entire drive on Thursday, we had to listen to a middle-aged man harangue his mother about how the ten dollars she would save by parking in long-term parking wasn’t worth the time he was wasting driving around in a shuttle. Which led me to believe, he must be very, very important, if he doesn’t have three minutes to waste. Maybe a Congressman, or a Senator, or even the guy who makes sure the Milk Duds are evenly covered with chocolate. Although judging from his Hawaiian shirt, ponytail, and sandals, I don’t think he was a high-powered businessman on his way to a Wall Street power meeting, so maybe the Milk Dud scenario was more likely, but still; He must have been very, very important, based on his comments.

Then I got to my gate, and started People-Watching the others around me. And realized all of them were more important than me, also. That girl over there was wearing her pajamas and slippers. She must be very, very important that she didn’t even have time to put on pants or real shoes that morning. And that couple over there, in the matching argyle (and did I mention fugly?) sweaters, they must be very important as well, or they wouldn’t be dressed like the Bobbsey twins with bad facelifts, refusing to move their expensive leather carry-ons so I could step around them.

And that guy over there must be extremely important, as well, judging by the excessive techno-paraphernalia he had going on. A cell phone, a pager, and what appeared to be a Blackberry on his belt, an ipod around his neck, one of those hands-free cell phone things in his ear, and his laptop open. He was talking and typing and texting at the same time. Just how accessible is necessary? Did he think Donald Trump might call for real estate advice, and he absolutely must be available? If his co-workers need that many ways of getting ahold of him, think how important he must be! Although, I’m not so sure he was on business trip, either, considering he was wearing a t-shirt, cargo shorts, and hadn’t seen the wet end of a comb or a razor in quite some time. There I sat --- lame, boring …. With a book. A BOOK, of all things! How unimportant can I be??

Obviously the grandma who cut in front of me in our boarding line must be very important. Perhaps she thought if she sat down before me, her section of the airplane might take off and land more quickly. And the lady sitting next to me, complaining about how she couldn’t find an outlet to plug in her laptop, so she was having to use up all her battery, she must be very important, too, to be unable to turn off her laptop for the few minutes we were waiting on the flight.

About then is when it really started to get to me. The people, and there were several, who felt it necessary to make cell phone calls while boarding the plane. To let whoever was on the other end know EXACTLY.TO.THE.VERY.MINUTE. what was happening with them.

“Yep, just fixing to board.”

“Yep, just standing here in the jetway.”

“Uh-huh, just got in my seat.”

“No, I’m still in Atlanta, but we’ll be leaving in a few minutes”

“OK, they’re making the announcement I’ve got to turn my phone off now.”

“OK, I’ll call you as soon as I get there.”

And it was just as bad on the other end of the flight, when we landed:

“Yeah, we’re here in Philly now.”

“Right, we just landed.”

“OK, we’re taxiing to the gate right now.”

“I am four rows back from the exit so I should be able to get off fairly quickly.”

“They’re getting ready to open the doors and I’ll be in baggage claim in five minutes”

And that’s when it hit me. These people aren’t important --- they’re simply full of themselves. Unless you are transporting a HEART, in an ICE COOLER, and there are ambulance people waiting to drive you to the hospital so that donor heart can be transplanted into a dying person ---- then NO ONE GIVES A SHIT THAT YOU’RE TAXIING TO THE GATE!!! None of the rest of the passengers on the plane want to hear your play-by-play of how the flight went! Wait ten minutes, for Pete’s sake, until you get into the terminal and then make your oh-so-important phone call out of range of my hearing, ok? Could you do that for me???

And while you’re at it, lose ninety percent of your electronic toys, and learn to stimulate your mind with a book. It’s called READING. Before hand held games and cell phones and laptops, it’s how people used to entertain themselves. Sounds boring, I know, but give it a try, you might just like it. Or maybe I should adopt a “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” philosophy and take Kellen’s Game Boy the next time I travel, so people will think I’m important, too.

Actually, I AM important. Know how I know? Because I have friends I adore, who like me right back.

We can go months without seeing one another, although we try not to, and pick up right where we left off.

They don’t mind when I invite myself to their home to visit them, and are willing to drive to all over the East Coast with me so we can spend the weekend scrapbooking together.

They even humor my excitement when I see snow for the first time in six years.

Best of all? Best, best, bestest of all? They understand the need to stock up for a three hour drive as if we’ll never see junk food again. After all, the weathermen were predicting snow, and a lot of it. Heaven forbid we slide into a ditch or a snow bank and have to spend the weekend there. I would hate to resort to eating paper or trying to melt snow with an emergency flare, when Twizzlers, Flipz, and Whoppers are such better choices.

And by the way? We DID actually solve the rain forest issue. We also figured out a way to end world hunger (that didn’t involve Twizzlers), make alternative fuel affordable, and came up with a plan to save the endangered leatherback sea turtle. Sorry to say, the brain cells containing all this valuable information had a mysterious and unfortunate collision with :cough: amaretto :cough: and all data was lost. Suffice it to say, the sheer genius of our ideas will have to wait until the next time I get together with my girlfriends. Because you know if we can solve problems like that, we are just as important as those other people.

I think next time I fly, though, I’ll stay in my pajamas, to make it easier for the other passengers to understand how important I am, too.

PS. 95 percent of this journal entry is written in jest. Three percent of me really was annoyed with those obnoxious people on their cell phones in the airplane, and the remaining two percent was being eaten alive with a white-hot jealousy at all those other passengers and their laptops. I wouldn’t be forced to make fun of them if I had one myself, right? I have an anniversary coming up, and it shouldn't be too difficult to figure out what’s on top of my wish list.

Flattered. And a little Frightened.

Um, seriously??? I thought, like, seven people read my blog.

My mom.
My mom's two friends from high school (you know, the grown ups whose very presence keeps me from dropping the f-bomb as much as I normally would.)

A few random friends and strangers.

I just figured they hit the refresh button a lot to boost my site counter and make me feel good. (Kidding. You know you shouldn't do that, right? It incorrectly inflates the site counter AND my ego.) :)

But all those comments bowled me over. I loved hearing from you and I read every single one of them. Twice. I'm humbled and flattered, and yes, a little frightened. Because now there is all this pressure to post interesting and entertaining stories about my life, which to be honest, is not always that interesting or entertaining, unless you count the story about how when I got home last night at 9:30, Kellen had thrown his new squishy toy, a disgusting black mouse, against the ceiling in our living room and it was stuck there, and Blaine had to get a broom and his extension ladder to get it down, and this squishy black mouse left a big squishy black stain on the ceiling and Blaine pinched Kendrie's fingers in the ladder while he was throwing a hissy-fit and slamming the ladder closed because he was angry with Kellen for throwing it up there after he told him ten times not to, and he did it anyway, so Kellen was pouting and Kendrie was crying and Blaine was cranky, and I walked in the door after four days away and none of them even noticed I was back ..... ahhhhhhhhh, it's good to be missed.

But anyway, my POINT is, I just got back last night and I swear I'll post tonight, after my day of taking the dog to the vet and volunteering at the school and soccer practice tonight. Because I'm sure somewhere, somehow, there is an interesting and entertaining story about my weekend away. If you consider taking naps and gossiping with my friends to be interesting and entertaining.

For now, I need to go buy some white paint. I have a squishy black stain to cover.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

A Few More Apologies

Apology #1: Today was Spring Picture Day for the first graders at Kendrie’s school. And since I never buy the spring pictures, I didn’t much care when Kendrie said she wanted to wear her Georgia Bulldogs t-shirt to school. I mean, sure, it’s a little frayed around the edges because she wears it at least once a week, or more if I’ve got the laundry caught up, and there’s that small stain on the sleeve, but again, who cares? I don’t buy the spring pictures.

I also don’t fight with my kids over clothes. At this stage in the game, I still pay for their clothes, which gives me the inalienable right to *choose* their clothing. So I can pretty much guarantee that everything in their closet is appropriate, and can allow them to pick each morning. Even if they do choose the same shirt, day after day after day. True, it might make me a little crazy, but in the long run, it just doesn’t matter.

So I didn’t care, once again, when she pulled on a pair of cargo pants with a hole in the knee. A small hole, but a hole nonetheless. Because really, even if I *were* going to buy the pictures, which I’m not, you couldn’t see the pants anyway. Pictures are always from the waist up. Same reason I didn’t say anything when she put on her new Lightning McQueen flip-flops. So she looked like a hobo, who loves the movie "Cars" …. Who cares?

It wasn’t until we got to school this morning and I saw the photographer’s set up in the commons area that I remembered: Spring Picture Day is also Class Picture Day. And my vertically-challenged youngest daughter is ALWAYS in the front row.

So to the parents of Kendrie’s classmates: I’m sorry. I’m sorry that it looks like a hobo-orphan was in school with your child this year. No, that’s not a homeless urchin who wandered in off the street and got in the picture. That is *my* grubby child in hole-y pants and pool shoes. I swear, I got her hair cut this afternoon, and threw the hole-y pants in the play-clothes drawer. I know, I know, too little too late. But I promise to try harder next year.

Apology #2: If you’ve been kind enough to write me this past week or so, I want you to know how much I appreciate each and every e-mail. And normally I try very hard to answer every one (I mean, not like there are HUNDREDS or anything, but you know what I mean) but this past week has been crazy-busy and I just haven’t been online like normal. Today, I spent four hours taking 426 photos (No, my fingers did not slip on the keypad and insert an extra digit. That’s four HUNDRED and twenty six photos) of a girlfriend of mine to give her husband as a birthday present in a few weeks. We were going for a 1940’s Pin-Up look, and if I do say so myself, I think they’re going to turn out great. Very Betty Grable-ish. She looked fabulous, and I’m sure he’ll love them when he sees them. Which made me think about the fact for Blaine’s birthday last month, I bought him a book and had cruise control put in his truck. Hmmmm, let’s balance one against the other, shall we? …. Sexy pin-up photos, or the ability to travel long distances at a steady speed? Obviously, we’ve been married a lot longer than they have, and we are also BORING AS HELL. But, apology #2 for being so busy leads to …..

Apology #3: There will be no new updates on this site until next week. I am leaving first thing tomorrow morning for Virginia to spend five days with some of my dearest girlfriends on the planet, and will be way too busy getting drunk eating chocolate gossiping scrapbooking sleeping laughing coming up with ways to save the rain forest to blog. We rented a condo that is advertised as “fully furnished” but since I am too much of a cheapskate frugal to purchase a laptop, unless “fully furnished” includes a wireless laptop with high speed internet connection, I won’t be online until next Tuesday. Just so you people won’t be hitting refresh and driving up my hit counter for no reason, although I’m extremely flattered anyone EVER uses the refresh button on my site.

But as I was thinking about the journal update I would do upon my return, it occurred to me that I’m getting pretty darn near the end of “The Saga of How Those Escoe Freaks Finally Got Their Shit Together and Became Parents” and that while some of you have requested that I go on into the story of my decision to become a surrogate, there is a good chance that more of you have gone into a COMA from the boringness and never-ending-ness of it all. So here’s my request: You tell me; I’ll leave it up to you. Hop online in the next day or two while I’m gone and let me know if I should continue, or if you’d prefer that I drop the topic and go back to our normal lives where I blog about my children’s obnoxious behavior and my obsession with Diet Dr Pepper and my ongoing quest to find a pair of jeans that successfully camouflage my muffin top. Or, if you’d prefer that in addition to dropping the baby topic, I also drop dead. Although really, if that’s the case, why are you here reading, you negative Nelly? Regular readers and lurkers alike, I’d love to hear from you and get your opinion ….. popular vote wins!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

I'm Totally Pulling a Justin Timberlake

You remember when Justin Timberlake took the liberty of flashing Janet Jackson’s boob at all of us during the Super Bowl Half Time Show a few years ago? And then, when the television network required him to publicly apologize for his actions, his exact words were, “I’m sorry if that offended you” --- Do you remember that? I made a big stink to Blaine, and anyone else who would listen, about how THAT was not an apology, THAT was a cop out. A *conditional* apology. A **real** apology is when you take responsibility for your actions, admit they were wrong, and say you are sorry. Hugh Grant, going on Jay Leno, after getting caught with that prostitute while he was still dating Elizabeth Hurley, and saying “Yeah, I screwed up” --- THAT is taking responsibility for your mistakes. Not making some lame-ass statement like Justin Timberlake that is the verbal equivalent to “I’m sorry YOU are so uptight that seeing her scary nipple ring made you uncomfortable.” (Although, it *was* scary … did you SEE it???) He didn’t say he was sorry he did it, he didn’t take responsibility for his actions, or even pretend it happened by accident. He basically said, “I’m sorry if YOU didn’t like it.” And he said it with a smirk on his face. What a weenie.

Now, guess what. Regarding my previous journal entry, I have something to say: “I’m sorry if that offended you.”

What, exactly? Well, my comment, that for every healthy white baby placed for adoption, there were {statistically} one hundred couples approved and waiting to adopt. I did actually pause while typing, and hesitated putting it out there, due to those two words … Healthy. And White. And sure enough, I got called on it. Privately, and with tact and kindness, but called on it nonetheless. So I feel compelled to explain myself just a little, in case there are other people I offended with that comment as well.

When Blaine and I applied with the adoption agency, we were asked what kinds of babies and/or children we would consider adopting. White, black, Hispanic, mixed, older, special-needs, medically-challenged, sibling groups, foster kids, etc. And he and I talked about it for a long time, and honestly examined our feelings and expectations, and came to the decision that we wanted to adopt the same kind of child we would have given birth to, if we’d been able to become pregnant. I am white; he is white. Therefore, we wanted to try and adopt a white baby.

The bottom line is that there aren’t as many white newborns placed for adoption as there are people waiting to adopt. That’s why I made the comment about one hundred couples --- just to point out that we were so blessed to be chosen by M, when she could have gone to other agencies and had her pick of dozens and dozens of other couples, all of them equally deserving, and equally hopeful, just like us.

Had we been willing to consider a child of a different race, or an older child, or a special needs child, I’m sure we could have adopted much more quickly. And we considered it. Very seriously considered it. Even then, I felt sure I could love any baby, whether it was black or purple or plaid. Now, of course, with the wisdom and experience of being a parent, I know that to be true.

But adopting a baby, or an older child, or a child of a different race, is something you should do because you WANT to do, and you feel LED to do; because you are one of those amazing people who have a special calling to do such a thing. It should NOT be seen as a shortcut, just so you can adopt more quickly. At least we didn’t think so.

Some people didn’t understand why we made that decision. They didn’t agree, and thought we were being too picky. I had one person say to me, “Beggars can’t be choosers.” And for a brief moment, I wondered if they were right; were my expectations unreasonable, or too high? Was I some kind of closet-racist, and didn’t even realize it, that I wanted a white baby? But I kept coming back to the same argument -- I wanted to adopt the same kind of baby I would have had myself. And that baby would be white, unless my fantasy involving Denzel Washington ever came true, but that discussion is probably not appropriate for right now.

So we waited, and waited, and finally gave up. And as you know, after that, eventually, M picked us.

One thing I find truly ironic: Just a month or two after being approved, the agency contacted us not once, but twice, about a baby that was being placed for adoption that was born with severe birth defects. Years and years of medical challenges and complications lay ahead for this baby, and it was imperative they get it placed in a good home that could handle this sort of medical situation. We talked about it, and considered it, and said no. We felt it wouldn’t be fair, to us or the baby, to take on that sort of responsibility as a military family that bounced around so much. How could we provide continuous medical care, at the level this child would need, when we move every few years? We came to the decision that if any child of ours ever became unhealthy, we would deal with it then. But to knowingly take on that challenge wouldn’t be the responsible thing to do. And as you know, a few years later, our youngest daughter Kendrie was diagnosed with leukemia. And we discovered that the decision we made not to adopt that baby all those years ago was without merit after all, because our family could indeed handle a medical challenge.

Of course, had we adopted that baby, we wouldn’t have Brayden. And God knew she belonged in our family, which is why we were led not to adopt the first baby, or any other baby. Which is why (I know this in hindsight now) I never got pregnant, no matter how long or how hard we tried. Had I been able to get pregnant, we wouldn’t have tried to adopt. We had to get Brayden into our life first. Then God “cleared" me to become pregnant. I believe that with all of my heart.

But back to my comment. I’m sorry if I offended anyone with the words “white” or “healthy”. I’m sorry if it seemed insensitive to anyone’s family or anyone’s children. I’m sorry if I made it sound like any other kind of child wasn’t just as special and wonderful and deserving. All children are beautiful and deserve to be be raised in loving, good homes. Every single child. And if my earlier comment made it sound like I feel any other way, then I’m sorry. And if that comment was insulting or insensitive to you personally, then I’m sorry I offended you.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Things *WOULD* Be Getting Better, If I Could Pull My Head Out Of My Ass

You would think, after trying six years to have a baby, that I would be thrilled to find out I was pregnant, no matter the circumstance. But can you believe that I wasn’t? It wasn’t that I didn’t recognize this for the amazing thing that it was, or that I wasn’t happy; I was just so stunned, and taken aback, and in a way (a very small, petty way but hey, that’s just me) even sort of annoyed about it. Because yet again, it felt like life was happening TO us, and nobody was asking our opinion, and none of the plans we made, or the things we wanted to have happen, mattered.

First, I was in knots about telling M and the people involved with the adoption. I had this awful feeling in my stomach they would think we had somehow duped them into letting us adopt Brayden, and that we had made up the entire story of our infertility just to trick them --- that we were great big, Liar, Liar Pants on Fire Big Fat Fatty Pants Liars.

I felt guilty for what this would mean to Brayden --- we wanted to raise her in an environment where we were dedicated solely to her, at least for the first few years until we could adopt again. I just wanted to go back to California and concentrate and focus on HER. Nothing had been normal for her yet (I know, I know, it’s not like a six-month old knows the difference, as long as you show up with the bottles and strained peas and Desitin on a regular basis they’re pretty much happy as clams) but now, she was going to wind up with a little brother or sister barely a year younger than she was, and it’s not like she had any say in the matter.

And, because I am a shallow, one-dimensional, stubborn, thick-headed, raging bitch of a person, who cannot BEAR to be proven wrong, plain and simple, I just didn’t want to hear all the “See?!? See, I TOLD you it would happen that way!!!” and “Everyone who adopts gets pregnant afterward!!!” comments which I knew we would get. Which, we did, just like I suspected. Which, I hated and resented, just like I suspected I would.

I tried to tell people that we were the exception, not the rule. This was a fluke. Our first miracle brought about a second miracle, blah blah. People just rolled their eyes and smiled condescendingly at me, and repeated, “It always happens like that” and I. Hated. It. Because it was a repeat of how I felt when I had heard “Adopt, then you’ll get pregnant” when we were going through infertility treatments …. I felt like these comments were insulting and patronizing, and diminished Brayden and her treasured place in our family. Like people expected us to say, “Oh, thank heavens, it worked! That was the only reason we adopted, so *this* would happen!”

Maybe it was me, being overly-sensitive. But I don’t think so. A few of the specific comments made to me during the pregnancy:

“Oh, I bet you’re excited to have a baby of your own.” --- Um, excuse me? Because Brayden is not my own? She belongs to the family of rabid squirrels in the backyard?

“Oh, now you’ll be a real mom.” --- As opposed to the fake mom I am now?

“You’ll never love your adopted baby as much; the feelings just won’t be the same” --- Um, ….. WTH????

“See? You did a kind thing by adopting that baby and good karma comes around.” --- Ok, that one made me the angriest. First of all, adopting a baby is not like going to the pound and picking out a puppy that no one else wants. Believe me, we did not do anyone a *favor* by adopting Brayden. Again, if I could toss out a statistic from that time frame, studies showed for every healthy white newborn put up for adoption, there were 100 couples ready and waiting to adopt. ONE HUNDRED. (I have no idea what the numbers are nowadays.) We were incredibly lucky and blessed and thankful for the chance to adopt her, and never forgot it for one minute.

I guess I was worried that if other people thought those things, they might think *WE* thought those things as well, which we didn’t. Or that someday Brayden would wonder if we ever thought those things. Bottom line, I felt like I was cheating Brayden, the person I had come to care about most, and the most innocent in all this. Even if she did have a mom who, in addition to being unexpectedly pregnant, would sadly, often, without intention or malice, have a tendency to, in her story-telling ways, dreadfully overuse and abuse the comma.

It took me a long time to come to terms with the pregnancy. I stayed annoyed for quite a while. At that point in my life, being annoyed was sort of a permanent condition for me. Luckily, I came to terms with it before he was born. And the minute he was born, I felt like an ass for ever worrying about stupid things like that. And to this day, I look at him and watch him with such pride and joy and wonder, and feel shame that I wasn’t overjoyed about his pregnancy from day one.

But, I have to be honest and say that I wasn’t. I just wasn’t in the right mental place. But for the first time, in a long time, it appeared we were going to catch a break and something was going to go OUR way for a change.

Six months after Brayden was born and shortly after I discovered I was pregnant, something happened (again, with the legal details I’m not at liberty to share) and we realized it was going to be months, and perhaps more months, before the court case would be over. I don’t know who felt more despair; Blaine, alone in California, me, or my poor, displaced parents who couldn’t walk two steps in their own house without tripping over baby paraphernalia, and who didn’t have room in their kitchen cabinets for their own dishes and glasses because I had taken over all the space with bottles and nipples and formula and baby bathtubs and bottle warmers and baby food and all the eight bazillion other things you need on a daily basis with a six-month old, and whose laundry room had been overrun with dirty sleepers and jumpers and cute baby outfits and burp rags and blankets and crib sheets and all that other good stuff.

Our attorney took pity on us and on our situation; I guess is what finally happened, once we saw it wouldn’t be over anytime soon. He went to the judge presiding in the case and asked permission for me to take Brayden and leave the state. It’s not like we were a flight risk … Blaine worked for the government, for Pete’s sake, they could always find us. We weren’t going to take the baby and flee to Canada, and our attorney vouched for us that if need be, if we lost our case, we would bring Brayden back to Oklahoma. Although, God forbid, just saying those words aloud made my heart fall into my kneecaps and my stomach churn and my throat close up and my neurons and synapses completely quit working until I could barely walk or talk or think.

And the judge gave permission.

And I got to go to California with Brayden, and join Blaine, and at long last, begin our life as a family of three.

And a half.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Things Can Only Get Better

And we took Brayden home from the hospital, and she was the greatest baby ever, and we lived happily ever after. Forever and ever. Amen.

Um, yeah. You didn’t think it would be *that* easy, did you?

A few things first ……from your comments:

To all the adoptive parents, birth parents, prospective parents, and adoptees who wrote in, or e-mailed me privately, and shared a bit of your life with me, thank you so much. I am truly touched to hear from so many people who feel a connection, through their own experiences, with this exciting time in our life, and honored that you would share your own stories.

Jeff B, the new song is for you. I had trouble finding a song titled “Yippee, after all those years of infertility I’m finally a Mom!” so I chose this one, “Things Can Only Get Better” because that’s how we felt at this point. Thanks for reminding me, via Mel, that although “It’s All About Me” (and you KNOW that it is) that I’d been hammering it home a little too long. :)

Kim, yes, scalloped scissors. {hangs head shamefully}

D. Johnson, if you’d like, please e-mail me privately. There was no contact in your comment section so I can’t e-mail you, but I’d be happy to talk to you, if you feel comfortable.

So, ok, back to the story. You guys might have THOUGHT it was over, but no, we were just getting started. Remember we brought Brayden home to my parents’ house, in our role as fosters parents, for ten days, until M was able to relinquish her parental rights. Those were ten fun, happy, sleep-deprived, joyful, busy days. Friends threw us a baby shower, and prior co-workers threw us another. We were able to take Brayden to Blaine’s uncle’s church a few hours away and have her dedicated with all our family there to watch. It was a little stressful, sure, because we were staying at my mom and dad’s house and didn’t have all the “things” you normally need for a newborn. We had a fully stocked, fully furnished nursery back in California, but since we were only going to be in OK for ten days, we didn’t worry too much about what we would need there. We had a car seat, of course, for our rental car, and borrowed a bassinette and baby tub from my sister. Diapers, wipes, a diaper bag, a few outfits, a few bottles, some formula, and the gifts we got at the showers. That was pretty much all we had. And it was a little hectic, newborns always are, but mainly it was enjoyable to spend that time with family, and let them get to know Brayden, especially since we knew it would be a while before we would see them again.

After the ten days went by, M signed the papers. And the birthfather contested the adoption.

*** Here is that disclaimer again about how despite the song I normally play on this site, this story is not JUST about me, it’s about M, too. And at this point, it’s Brayden’s story as well, so even more, I feel I am not at liberty to give details. Especially legal details. Partly because quite frankly, they’re private, and partly because Brayden doesn’t even know the whole story yet. So I won’t get into things here, on the internet, like I might normally, and I won’t discuss the legal hoops through which we all had to jump, and the specific timeline during which these things happened. I’ll go over it from my point of view, because that's really all I have .... as thoroughly as I can without breaching any confidence, but suffice it to say, despite all the details I am leaving out, you'll just have to believe it was nerve-racking. ***

The gist of our situation is that a contested adoption is not something that can be handled in a week. Or two. Or a month. We had a great attorney, and trusted him very much. And understood why it was necessary that this situation be handled properly, and thoroughly, and correctly, so there could be no problems or ramifications down the road. But we had no idea what was going to happen.

After a few weeks, Blaine had to return to work. He only had so much time he could take off, even with FLMA, even with an understanding boss. So, he flew back to California and I stayed behind with Brayden. Because, here’s the kicker: I was *technically* the foster mother. And Brayden was *technically* in foster care. Which meant I was not allowed to cross the state line with her. So for as long as this situation was being handled legally, that meant I had to stay with Brayden in Oklahoma. Or put her in a real foster home and go to California to be with Blaine. Um, yep. You can pretty much guess that THAT wasn’t happening!

And thus began our odyssey of “Being a Parent Like THIS was Not Quite What I Had Planned” (See? See how I did that? Just tied right into the title of the blog? Because I’m clever like that and all…..)

And one month turned into two, and two turned into three. And I realized that with what I had already paid for the rental car, I could have just BOUGHT a used car. I had come to Oklahoma in mid-January with two weeks worth of winter clothes in a suitcase, and it was now almost May. And the novelty of the situation had worn off, and I was starting to get a little stressed out.

I love my parents dearly. I was so blessed that I could stay with them during this time, and not have to stay in a motel, or rent a furnished apartment. And it was nice to get to spend more time with M, and my sister and my nephew, and to show Brayden off to all our friends back home.

But I was definitely veering towards frazzled. Blaine would fly in once a month to visit us for three or four days; a long weekend. He was very unhappy, because Brayden was getting bigger and older and he was missing it. And although my parents were good about helping me, I was basically doing the single-parent thing, which was exhausting. So when Blaine would come home, I would hand him the baby and just mentally check out for two or three days. He did all the bottles and diaper changes and baths while he was there. It was good for all of us, but it still wasn’t what we wanted; it wasn’t being in our own home, with our own baby, as our own family.

I was starting to resent the living situation, as well. I had flown back to California by now, and driven my car back to Oklahoma (my parents watched Brayden for the four days it took me to do this---see what I mean by how lucky I was?) so at least I had some of our things. But still, learning to be a parent, and getting to know my baby, out of a suitcase in the spare bedroom at my folks house, was NOT what I had in mind. I had been daydreaming and fantasizing about being a mom for six years, and this was not what I had pictured, to say the least.

My dad was retired and disabled, so pretty much sat in the living room all day. Although he did nothing to make me feel this way, I still felt like I had an audience all the time. I just wanted to be alone with my baby, and there was no real way to make that happen. So I would put her in the car and drive around for hours, letting her nap in her carseat. I took her to the mall, two or three times a week, and pushed her around in her stroller. My mom and dad were great, but I knew having us there was an imposition on them, and they missed their quiet life, as well. Brayden and I had a standing Thursday night outing with a friend for dinner out, then back over to his house to watch the Must-See TV shows. I had another friend who had a baby six weeks after Brayden was born, and I hung out at her house a lot. Mainly, I just tried to find ways to fill up our days, and get Brayden and me out of the house.

What I wanted, was to be ALONE, with MY BABY, in MY HOUSE, with MY THINGS. That probably makes me sound like a spoiled brat, but I was very much accustomed to privacy, and having my own space, and doing my own thing. My parents were kind and loving and hospitable, but I was a guest in their home, and I felt like I was stuck on “pause” in a movie about my life. And as grateful as I was for my parents help, the bottom line was, THIS WASN’T HOW IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE, and I started to get frustrated and resentful. My very favorite time of the day, or night, as it was, were Brayden’s middle-of-the-night feedings. That was the only time I was ever alone with her; just the two of us, peaceful and quiet. I would give her the bottle, and sing “You Are My Sunshine” to her over and over. And I would actually feel sad when she would go back to sleep, because our alone-time was over. And daylight would roll around and once again I would get upset because there was no privacy, no where I could go that was my own, no way to be with Brayden, just the two of us, that didn't involve hanging out at a park or driving in my car.

I’m sure anyone with half a semester of freshman psychology can guess that my anger and resentment was nothing more than fear. Fear that the adoption would fall through. Fear that despite what our attorney said about our iron-clad case, he would be wrong and I’d have to give her back. Fear that this baby, this wonderful baby, who I had waited so long to hold in my arms and love and cherish …… who I knew, beyond anything I had ever known before, was MY OWN DAUGHTER, would be taken from me.

I kept saying to Blaine, every month when he would fly from California to visit, “This is just crazy. We have a great relationship with M. Everything is perfect; everything went textbook. Good grief, as far as the three of us go, we could be the POSTER CHILDREN for open adoption!” Yet we were still mired down in the court system.

Three months turned into four.

Four months turned into five.

By the six month point, I was crazy. Our case hadn't even made it through court yet. I was sick and damn tired of living with my parents. I was frustrated and anxious all the time, and rude to my parents, who had done nothing but try and help. I was terrified the adoption wouldn’t work out. I was bitchy to everyone, and paranoid and defensive and felt like life was out to get me. I had waited six years to be a parent, and I couldn't even enjoy it. And I hated myself for being such a hag, when I had been given this beautiful, amazing gift. I was perturbed and discouraged, and all the other adjectives you can think of to describe someone who is pretty much on the edge. The very far edge. The edge where your tippy-toes can feel the open air underneath them and you start to think you should back up a little in case heaven forbid you lose your balance and something really bad happens.

And then? I'LL BE DAMNED if I didn’t find out I was pregnant.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Welcome to the World, Brayden

M had stated that she was willing to have us at the hospital the day Brayden was born, and we were more and more excited as that day drew closer. As a side note, M managed to keep the sex of the baby secret, like we asked, throughout the entire pregnancy, but just a few days before delivery, her aunt slipped with a comment that let us know, or at least suspect, that it was a girl, indeed. We had been guessing boy, so had to reverse our way of thinking, but we were still so excited, boy or girl, that we bordered on obnoxious, I'm sure. But M didn’t want us in the room while she was delivering. I can hardly blame her. Not only is there an awful lot of nekkid-ness that goes on, it was bound to be an emotional time for her as well. I can’t speak for her, and what she was thinking or feeling, but we certainly respected her need for privacy.

We drove to the hospital that morning, and being the dorks that we are, realized we didn’t really know where to go. I hung back, and was more hesitant, than Blaine. M’s family was in the labor & delivery waiting areas, but this was bound to be an emotional time for them as well. And it’s hard to explain …. As excited as Blaine and I were, and as thrilled as we were that this day was finally here, part of me felt like a vulture, swooping in to take what I wanted. It felt selfish and insensitive to sit in the same waiting area, brimming with happiness and joy and anticipation, when their experience, although waiting on the same delivery, was bound to be completely different.

So we waited in the downstairs lobby for a while, until I began to get paranoid that we might miss something, or they would think we didn’t care, or that worse, they would think we weren’t coming at all. And just like the night before, you would think every single detail of this day would be etched in my mind, but it’s really not.

I remember around 2pm, we got the exciting news that Brayden had been born. I remember going into M’s room with Blaine, and seeing her sitting on the bed holding the baby. I remember not knowing where to go or what to do. It seemed insensitive to rush over and start oohing and aahing over the baby straightaway; I was concerned with M and how she was doing, and yet the other half of me, insensitive or not, wanted to rush right over to Brayden and do exactly that.

I remember it was a day filled with emotion, and most of it was happy. I’m sure for M’s family it was bittersweet. We took tons of photos, and my favorite photo, and one that Brayden still has framed in her room, is a picture of M sitting in bed, holding her, and Blaine and me flanking either side of the bed, all of us looking at the camera and smiling. Brayden will never have to wonder about the circumstances of that day, and that picture is proof that everyone involved loves her so very, very much.

We did have one glitch at the hospital, and I only share it with you as further proof of M’s giving nature, in case it wasn’t already evident. The hospital where she delivered has its own adoption program, and the only way I can describe what happened to us, is that quite frankly, they were cranky we hadn’t gone through *their* program. My personal opinion is that they were annoyed we were using an independent agency, so they decided they didn’t need to do anything to facilitate our time there.

They informed Blaine and me that since we were not legally the parents, (remember, for the first ten days we would be Brayden’s foster parents, due to tribal law) that we were not allowed to check the baby out of the nursery, nor were we allowed to BE with the baby unless we had a chaperone. Sort of like “supervised visits only” in a divorce situation. And since we hadn’t used *their* adoption program, none of *their* social workers could/would serve as our chaperones. We would need our own social worker to be there if we wanted to see Brayden, or spend time with her.

“But that’s impossible,” I protested, “She works full-time in another hospital an hour away … she can’t possibly be here until 6 or 7 at night! What are we supposed to do all day? Just sit and look at her through the nursery window? That’s ridiculous!”

And the response we got in return was the grown up version of “Too bad, so sad.”

They even took Polaroid photos of Blaine and me to put in the nursery, as a visual reminder to the other nurses that we were NOT ALLOWED to have the baby. Seriously. Polaroid pictures of us, like mug shots. I’ve always wondered if they drew a big circle with a line through our faces. Bastards.

And this is when, if I had any doubt at all that M and I were cut from the same cloth, that doubt ended. She heard what was happening, and that Blaine and I wouldn’t be allowed to see Brayden all day, and her comment (exact comment, I believe) was “That’s bullshit.” So each day, until our social worker could get there in the evening, M would check the baby out of the nursery herself, then let Blaine and me hang out in her room with her so we could do the things like feed her (unskilled though we were) and change her diapers (even more unskilled … did we not listen to ANYTHING in our parenting classes?) and count her fingers and toes and rock her and talk to her and all those other things you do the first two days in the hospital.

Can you imagine how difficult that must have been, and how selfless her actions were? We tried very hard to be sensitive, and leave our flashing, neon “New Mommy!” and “New Daddy!” signs at home ….. and I am forever indebted to her for giving us that time with Brayden. But still, I couldn’t wait for those 48 hours to pass so we could go home and begin our time as a family, and so M could go home and begin her healing, as well.

We asked M to give her a middle name, and even though, for legal purposes, another name went on her birth certificate, at long last, six YEARS after we started trying to have a baby, we went home as parents, with Brayden Christine Grace. Well, not home-home. To my parents’ house. But still, finally, we were parents. Ok, technically, foster parents on paper, but parents in our minds and in our hearts. And we were thrilled. And she was beautiful and brilliant and bound to change the world. And it was even better than we hoped it would be. (Well, until that first bath, when she pooped all over my favorite sweatshirt. But I guess I can overlook that part.)

Aunt Kelly and Uncle Cliff meeting Brayden for the first time, the day we loaded up and left the hospital. And drove our little rental car like terrified 16 year olds who had just gotten their licenses and were transporting plutonium and a dead body in a stolen car. I'm surprised we didn't get a ticket for delaying traffic but we HAD to round the corners so slowly because otherwise her little bobble head might just fall off, FALL OFF I tell you and we suddenly realized that whoa, this whole parenting gig is a lot scarier than it looks on TV, and we are RESPONSIBLE for this little person and even though we only had a few miles to go I rode in the back seat the entire time to make sure she was still breathing and that her car seat didn't spontaneously come undone and continued to yell at Blaine to slow down because he was going to cause her permanent spinal cord injury or brain damage if he exceeded ten miles per hour and jostled her about in such a careless manner!!!!