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Our First

14 May

For five years, I spent Mother’s Day wondering how much longer I would have to wait before my sweet child entered my life, wondering what I did wrong to be cursed with infertility, wondering if this was Mother Nature’s way of declaring me an unfit mother. Needless to say, the last few years have been incredibly difficult.

Finally (FINALLY!!!), I can stop wondering. Every day for the last 262 days,  I have felt my heart swell with so much love. Love to see my son (it still feels surreal to call him that!) smile the sweetest smile, laugh with his mouth wide open, blow the wettest raspberries. Love to see my husband become DAD – to see the two of them interacting is literally my favorite thing. Love to finally be at the happy ending of the longest, hardest journey I hope to ever go through.

I feel incredibly fortunate to be a #boymom, to be THIS boy’s mom.

To my son –

You made me a momma. My heart healed the instant you entered it. Being your mom is an enormous privilege and my most favorite adventure.

Seeing the magic and joy in your eyes as you start to explore the world around you makes my heart so happy. I have so many hopes for you – I hope you grow to be kind and compassionate, honest and loving, funny and smart. I hope you learn how to be a team player, to be generous, to value hard work, to appreciate the little things in life. Most of all, I hope you always know how honored I am to have you to love.

I am so grateful to B (your other mom) for keeping you safe the first 9 months of your existence and for choosing me to be your mom. She is an incredibly strong, wonderful woman who loves you with all her heart. She loved you so much, that she gave a part of her heart to me. I will never be able to thank her enough for making my heart whole.

I love you, my sweet boy. You are my favorite piece to every day. 

– Your momma

 

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NIAW 2017

24 Apr

Yesterday was the start to National Infertility Awareness Week. You heard all about our struggles with infertility last year – both the long and short version to the story. Most of you know that despite trying just about everything western medicine has to offer AND dabbling in traditional Chinese medicine, we still failed to do what our bodies are made for – make and birth a baby.

It’s astonishing to me that 1 in 8 couples battle infertility. It is still a medical condition that doesn’t get the attention it deserves and it is still a topic that people shy away from talking about. I used to be one of those people that danced around the answer to the question “so, when are you going to have kids?” … BUT, as you all know, I’m pretty open about it now! Opening up about everything was pretty scary, but I am so glad I did. In fact, I wish I would have opened up sooner. In the midst of it all, infertility is really all consuming – mentally, physically, emotionally, financially. In fact, there is research to suggest that a diagnosis is as stressful as a diagnosis of cancer! Why wouldn’t we want the support of our friends and family?!

Many people might wonder how I feel now that Wes is here. Wes is amazing, he is the happiest, most wonderful part of my day, but he does not erase all that I went through to get to where I am. He wows me every day, he fills my heart with so much joy, he is perfect and I am incredibly lucky to be his mama. I, however, am still infertile. I still wonder about my baby that would be 2+ years old. What would my life be like? I know I wouldn’t have Wes if I had that baby, and that is really hard to think about. I can’t imagine my life without him in it. Unfortunately, adoption does not make everything disappear. Adoption is not a cure for infertility. But adoption DID make me a mama. One lucky mama at that. And, I would not be the mom I am today without everything that happened before he became a part of my life.

This year’s NIAW theme is Listen Up! 1 in 8 of us has a story to share, and they will all be a little different. There’s something to be learned in each of them. What I’d like you to hear is that adoption does not make it all go away. Adoption has filled an enormous hole in my heart, there is no denying that. But I’ve always envisioned more than 1 child in my family, so I’m still left wondering a bunch of what ifs, how’s, and when’s.

Y1:Q2

1 Mar

1 year ago (well technically it was February 29… so close enough!) we received the call that would change our lives. We were finally going to be parents! And now we have a 6 month old little boy! It is incredibly amazing to think that Wesley has been a part of our lives for 6 months now!

The last 3 months have been so fun! Wes has accomplished a lot… although I didn’t keep as detailed notes on his life like Q1!

– Survived pink eye (three times!)

– Celebrated his first Christmas!

– Celebrated his first NYE (asleep before 6:30 pm!)

– First ED visit: Croup

– First two teeth (21 weeks)

– First food: Oatmeal! (around 5 months) He’s now tried: peas, carrots, sweet potatoes (his favorite!!), apples, bananas, pears, yogurt, prunes, avocado

– Sitting by himself! (around 5 months)

– Survived “sleep training” and gave up his pacifier at night (YAY!!)

– First Badger basketball game (23 weeks)

– Started swimming lessons (23 weeks)

– Celebrated first Valentine’s Day

– Started ‘army crawling’ with a purpose! (24.5 weeks)

He LOVES the water, standing, and knocking down towers! He also really enjoys chatting with his ‘mirror friend’ (so much so that I’m a bit jealous of how excited he gets when he sees his ‘friend’ haha).

He does not like getting his face wiped clean at all. And we’ve had to do it A LOT between his runny nose and starting solids. He much prefers to use ME as his napkin/Kleenex!

His 6 month appointment isn’t until March, so no updated stats. I am guessing he’s somewhere between 18-19 pounds (he was 17 pounds at the beginning of January) and near 29 inches. He’s a big boy, that much I know. We will be switching him to his convertible car seat soon, but trying to get through as much of winter as possible!

Here’s Wesley’s weekly photos from Q2!

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Here’s the monthly Dino/chalkboard photos.

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2016: A Year in Review

1 Jan

2016 started out just like the previous 4 years – with me wondering if THIS was the year I’d finally get to meet my son or daughter. Wesley has absolutely been the highlight of this year. Because of him 2016 has gone both incredibly fast and slow at the same time. I want to take a moment back to reflect on all the cool things that happened in 2016 (yes, other stuff did happen too 🙂 )

January 2016: Rang in the New Year in sunny Florida celebrating my cousin’s wedding! The weather was gorgeous and it was so hard to come back to chilly Wisconsin!

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February 2016: We went out to Copper Mountain in Colorado to go snowboarding for a few days. The weather was awesome and the hills not too busy. In short, it was great!

February 29, 2016: For many, this was *just* Leap Day. For us, it was the day we found out about Wesley! The fact that it took nearly 6 months from this day for us to finally meet him was the reason the year felt like it was passing incredibly slow at times.

March 2016: Started our bathroom Reno!

May 2016: We initially planned a anniversary trip to New York, Cape Cod, and Connecticut (to visit some of Mike’s family), but once we found out about Wes we detoured instead to St. Louis and Arkansas to meet B!

June 2016: We headed to Minnesota to celebrate my cousin’s wedding #liveloveolaughlin

July 2016: “Finished” the bathroom!

August 5, 2016: We head to Arkansas anticipating Wesley’s arrival (due 8/8/2016)! Little did we know we’d have a lot of time to kill!

August 25, 2016: Wesley finally makes his appearance!! Only 2+ weeks after his due date! On the same day, my nephew Oliver is born (3 hours before Wesley!).

August 31, 2016: Wesley is officially a part of the family. Happy Adoption Day! We FINALLY get to head home 🙂

September 2016: Wesley attends his first Badger Football tailgate and game! Our friends throw Wesley the sweetest welcome home party, too!

October 2016: Wesley celebrates his first Halloween as a ghost. BOO!

November 2016: We celebrate how thankful we are for B and the amazing gift of we’ve been given. We celebrate how thankful we are to have Wesley in our life. Wesley experiences his first thanksgiving!

December 2016: Wesley’s first Christmas! He didn’t get to see what the whole “Happy New Year” celebration was all about since he was sound asleep by 6:25 PM last night. 🙂

I’d say 2016 turned out to be my favorite year yet! The best part is I know 2017 will be even better!

Wishing everyone happiness, good health, and lots of love for 2017!

Y1:Q1

5 Dec

Wesley’s first quarter of life is in the books. I am amazed at how fast these 3 months have gone! It’s sometimes hard to remember a time where he wasn’t a part of our life. It’s also sometimes hard to remember what we did with all of our spare time 🙂

Wesley has met a few milestones so far:

(1) First Badger tailgate (2 weeks)

(2) First Badger game (3 weeks)

(3) Rolling over from front to back (starting around 5 weeks!)

(4) Sleeping through the night (11.5 weeks – at least once anyway 🙂 )

(5) Smiling (??? Very smiley since 10 weeks)

(6) Rolling over from back to side, then side to tummy – it’s not a very ‘fluid’ process yet (11.5 weeks)… but a few days after I started writing this he could do it!

(7) Started daycare (10 weeks)

His little personality is starting to show through and it is so much fun to see! He no longer despises the hours of 6-8 pm, although part of that is due to the fact we keep the lights lower and the mood ‘calm.’ He LOVES standing, sitting, bath time, and laying on his changing pad (weird, eh?!). He dislikes being left to play by himself too long and napping. Luckily he’s a pretty easy going guy.

We have far too many photos (can you actually have ‘too many’?!?) so I’ll limit this post to sharing Wesley’s weekly/monthly photos. Every month I am sure to take a photo with Wes’ dinosaur. We also bought B (Wesley’s other mom) the same dinosaur so she can see how he grows over time. It’s been neat to see him catch up to that dino!

Weekly Photo Project:

Monthly Dinosaur & Chalkboard Photo Project:

Random Favorites:

From Razorback to Badger

11 Sep

You’ve all heard about the path that brought us to adoption (short version and long version) and how we chose the type of adoption to pursue, but very few people know about our specific journey to bringing home Wesley. Some of that goes back to the saying, “Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched” as approximately 25% of adoptions are disrupted. A disrupted adoption situation is basically when the adoption fails to reach finalization for any number of reasons. When we shared the good news, we wanted to be sure it was a done deal! However, in some cases it can be 6 months after the child’s birth before the adoption is legally finalized. Obviously it would be quite difficult to hide the fact that you are parenting an infant for 6 months, so we were fortunate in that the state Wesley was born allowed for the adoption to be completely and legally final 6 days after he was born. I’ll go into that in more detail some other time – for now, let’s go back to the beginning… The day we got THE call!!

February 29 – Leap Day – is not an ordinary day in the sense that it only occurs once every 4 years, but February 29, 2016 was a particularly extraordinary day for our family. It started out just like any other though and I remember pieces of that day VERY clearly. Mike and I were driving together to work and we were talking about what would happen if and when we finally got a call about a possible adoption situation. I told him no matter what he was doing, he had to be sure to answer any call from an unknown number (he was our primary contact person with the agency). He kind of chuckled and said, “of course” and that was that. Fast forward 8 or 9 hours later, we were wrapping up for the day and I get a phone call from an unknown number. I tried to answer it but there was no one on the other end. A few seconds later, I get another call but this time from Mike asking me to meet him in his office ASAP. It was at that point we were told about a woman in Arkansas who had chosen us as the couple she’d like to parent her unborn child and asked if we would be interested in adopting a baby due in early August. Um… ABSOLUTELY!! We couldn’t believe it! (Note: in the interest for her privacy, we will refer to Wesley’s other mom as B). A few weeks later, we received a package from her with ultrasound photos of our little boy! She also sent several adorable baby outfits for the little guy. It was so sweet!

Over the next several weeks, we exchanged e-mails with B so we could learn more about each other. The first e-mail we sent was so nerve-wracking! Thankfully they got a bit easier as time went on. Before you know it, we were planning a trip to meet. Now that was even more nerve-wracking than just writing an e-mail 🙂 During our visit, we were able to attend a prenatal appointment (we got to hear the heartbeat!).  B had decided to work with a midwife and was planning on an at-home water birth. So it was nice to have the opportunity to meet the midwife, learn about home births, and see the home that the birth would take place. We were asked to be present at the birth when the time came, so on our way home we “practiced” making the drive as speedily as possible. We also exchanged cell numbers and texted every few days the last few months of the pregnancy. One of the neatest things that came from the visit was the midwife’s idea that Mike and I should record our voices for B to play for the baby. That way he’d get to learn how we sounded! So we bought a few baby books and used Mike’s phone to record our voices reading them. We sent her belly buds and she played the clips for a little while each night! Isn’t that awesome?!

Following the visit, we shared the news with work so that we could figure out FMLA plans and discuss my plans to cut back to 0.6 FTE following my leave. Since the due date was August 8 (and she went 3 weeks early with her first pregnancy), we decided to start my leave August 5 so work could plan accordingly. However, if labor started earlier work was prepared for us both to leave at a moment’s notice.

When August 5 came, everyone was shocked we were still waiting for this baby! Because of the 10+ drive weighing down on us and the ever approaching due date, we made last minute plans to head down and “wait it out.” The midwife was kind enough to offer up her extra bedroom to use and we happily took her up on that. Her due date came and went, but we kept the faith knowing that MOST babies are born by 41 weeks. We also took comfort in the fact that Mike was given clearance to work remotely. Phew! As 42 weeks approached, we all started getting anxious. Particularly B who brought up going to the hospital to see about induction. After a lot of miscommunication with the local hospital and a not so quick visit to the L&D unit, we were told she would need to get established with an OB if she wanted to pursue an induction seriously. Fortunately, we were able to find a fabulous OB who was wiling to see a 42 weeks + 2 day pregnant woman the same day. She ordered an in depth ultrasound (again, amazingly completed that same day – at 7pm!!) to check on the baby and when everything looked good we were told by the ultrasound tech that the doctor would call us in the morning to discuss “a plan.”

We dropped B off at home and headed back “home” (after nearly 3 weeks it definitely felt like home at this point!). We headed to bed looking forward to hearing from B the next morning on what “the plan” was going to be. Little did we know we’d receive that call at 3AM. She woke up at 2:30 with steady and worsening contractions (FINALLY!!!!) and was heading to the hospital. She asked us to meet her there, but told us not to rush. Fortunately our “hospital” bag was mostly packed so we left fairly quickly and got to the hospital around 3:30. The 10 minutes it took for a L&D nurse to come and pick up B from the ED felt like an eternity. Since the contractions were close together (1-2 minutes apart!) they quickly did an exam and found out she was already dilated 7-8 cm, which meant it was too late for pain meds. The OB (we had met just 12 hours previously) was quickly called and she made it just in time for B to start pushing. Wesley was born at 4:18 am – less than 1 hour after we got to the hospital! Once he decided he was ready for life outside the womb, there was no slowing him down! Needless to say we were in love instantly! Mike was able to “trim” the umbilical cord (it was wrapped tightly around his neck – twice! So the doc did the initial cut to free him) and we were able to do some skin to skin time fairly quickly after that.

 

 

We were eventually moved to our own room so we could bond with Wesley and so B could get some rest. About 8 hours later B stopped by to say good-bye as she was being discharged home.We hung out for a little while admiring this sweet boy and took a picture of the 4 of us before she left. After that, I sent Mike to get us cupcakes so we could celebrate Wesley’s 12 hour birthday! As you can see in the photo above, he was not all that impressed! The rest of the hospital stay was uneventful and we were discharged home the next day. When we got to the midwife’s, we were greeted with an amazing lasagna dinner, flowers, and cake! It was so sweet and thoughtful.

The next day we packed up and headed to a hotel for the last 4 days of our wait until finalization. We were dreading the wait, but it went amazingly fast. Something about caring for a newborn that makes the days blur by, right? What started as a nerve-wracking thing but became really amazing was the daily visits we had with B following Wesley’s birth. It was really important to her that she provide breastmilk for Wesley while we were there. So during these daily meet-ups she’d bring what she had pumped since her last visit. What a lucky guy! Sometimes she’d stay as little as 20 minutes and sometimes an hour, but it also gave us an opportunity to learn a little bit more about her and her family and Wesley’s birth father. She felt that the daily visits were really therapeutic for her, too. In the end, I feel really grateful for the wait to finalization since it allowed us to have these moments together.

We were also really fortunate that both of our parents made the 10+ hour drive so they could join us in court. It was amazing having them there on the day Wesley officially and legally became a part of our family! After a celebratory breakfast, we packed up and started the journey home. Finally carrying our son up the porch steps and into our home was the most surreal and amazing feeling. What an incredibly long journey it was, but I wouldn’t change one step of it.

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What’s in a Name?

2 Aug

The more I learn about adoption, the more I’ve realized how important word selection is. Preferred terms can vary from one person to the next, but I thought it might be helpful to talk about the lingo in some detail.

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Image found at friendsadoption.org

I remember overhearing a conversation a few years ago that really stayed with me (back when we were in the midst of IVF and trying to figure out what our next steps would be if that didn’t work out). A woman was telling a story about something that was going on with her family and she kept mentioning one of her grandchildren – or should I say, her adopted grandchild. Every time this particular grandchild was mentioned, it also came with the qualifier ‘adopted.’ I did not know this woman or the family, but it really bothered me how she referred to that grandchild since it did not seem relevant to the story. Adoption is an event that occurs at one point in time, but it isn’t something that goes away after that. The fact that our child joined this family through adoption will not be ignored or forgotten. However, once it is finalized, it is simply son, daughter, grandchild, family. There is really no need to place “adopted” before describing a child. Just like there is really no need to place “biological” beforehand either. (Note: if a distinction does need to made for any reason, those are the appropriate terms – adopted and bilogical. Biological should never be replaced with “own,” “real,” or “natural.”) This does not mean our child will not know their story of adoption, it just means that will not be the only thing that defines who they are.

There has been a lot of controversy over the preferred terminology for biological parents. There are many terms that have been used: biomom/dad/parent, birth mom/dad/parent, first mom/dad/parent, natural mom/dad/parent, real mom/dad/parent.  What is generally perceived as the most PC term is birth mom/dad/parent. There are some flaws with this term – technically, only the mom can give birth so where does that leave dad? It also implies that their only role in the child’s life is with the pregnancy/birth process, but with open (0r even semi-open) adoption the hope is that the relationship does not end there. Often this term is used even before the child is born. This does not sit comfortably with me. It suggests that this woman/man is committed to keeping the adoption plan for the child, that they cannot or should not change their mind. My preferred terminology here is expectant mom, but that title can’t really carry forward once the child is born. While using the term first mom is not inappropriate, it makes me second mom. That itself is not really my concern, but it can lead one to wonder will there be a third mom, or a fourth mom just like there is a first day of school, second day of school, etc. This would most likely be a bigger issue with a small child but I hope to use terms that make sense from the get go. Natural and real mom are probably the most uncomfortable descriptors for me. If one person is natural or real, does that make the other unnatural or unreal or fake? I feel bio mom describes the relationship without putting a limit on what that relationship can be and without antagonizing the adoptive parents relationship with the child. However, I think any term minimizes the biological parents involvement, at least in an open adoption, to some extent. I’d really like to think of her/him/them, as my child’s other mom/dad/parent. Not in a way that we share the same responsibilities but that we share the same love, the love for this child and the love for each other. In essence, they will be an extended part of our family, too! In the end, my plan is to ask the biological mom/dad what they want to be called. Just like my mom made it pretty clear she’s going to be Oma, not Grandma, the other mom of our future baby may have the perfect name already picked out!

You can find many lists of “positive adoption language” by googling that phrase so I’ll stop here for now. Adoption terminology is a difficult arena to navigate. Now that we’ve been in this world for awhile, we’re able to use these terms pretty easily, but we don’t expect everyone to know the right words to use all of the time. If you’re really interested in learning more, we have a few copies of the book Adoption is a Family Affair: What Relatives and Friends Must Know by Patricia Irwin Johnston and we will absolutely share. We’re always happy to answer questions, too! 🙂