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February 2016
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April 2016

March 2016

moments

  • More chaotic updates for posterity, my darlings.  
  • Jay continues to do well. He is however a young baby, as you know, and therefore a mystery. He doesn't bellow much, really, (so far) though there are plenty of moments where it's not possible to know what ails him. I'm getting used to trying stuff with him. His bouncy basket thing? His cot with or without mobile? YouTube lullabies and most brilliantly, rain sound effects, (to get him accustomed to Ireland)? Swaddles? Or not? Cuddles? Or not? Feedtime? It's always feedtime. He loves his meals and it's wonderful to see. He is making up for lost time. 

  • Americans have the most fascinating conversations on the street, on public transport, on the ward. This disinhibition about one's personal stuff would not occur in Ireland, not like that, anyway. Most of us would only mutter these things into our beer glass, as our overwhelmed companion says: Ah, now. (Not me, so much, I am more shy than reserved; I like to share and bond, if only I can get over my embarrassment. How about you? Of course bloggers are the quiet, introspective type, aren't we, mostly?)
    Example (he was projecting confidently so I don't think there could have been any expectation of privacy):
    My mother was a heroin addict, so I have a deep suspicion of compulsive liars.
    He was making a general point in a conversation about a politician, mind you.

  • Yes, I did sort of follow them a half block to hear that bit.

  • Is that bad? 

    People are utterly fascinating, is my only defence.

  • I was really happy today. All goofy. I was in a most excellent salad bar (there's more kale in this town that you could shake a stick at), not able to stop myself giddily dancing to the loud music. The lovely girl behind the counter was there: An Earth Bowl for the young lady! And I did a thumbs-up and shouted gaily over the music: Thanks for the "young"! A handsome tip for the server!

  • Yeah. Now that's making me a bit morto. Maybe I'll give them a miss tomorrow. 

  • Other moments are more scary and Jaysus, can we really do this? I am daunted, daunted is the word. 

  • In those I try to stay in this moment. Are we okay today? Yes. Am I okay at this moment? Yes. I have food in my belly (kale) and I feel well (kale). Thinking of what the future might bring is enough to make you crazy, I've always known this, but now it's rodeo time for reals. No more rehearsals. 

  • I also ate in the hospital canteen today; it was as good as an ER rerun. I love the way the high priests of our culture wear what is basically pyjamas and shower cap, as if they are hanging around at home on Sunday at midday, meaning to bathe, but, oh man, massive yawn, just can't quite be arsed to get undressed and step into the shower.

More of this nonsense later.
xx
T


"You won't fall, I promise"

Thank you all for being so happy for me; truly, my cup runneth over. I love you, my comrades, friends, fellow travellers, inside the computer. Many, many hugs. 

It's hard to unclench and believe this won't go wrong somehow but with every day that passes, and we get to know Actual, (let's just call him Jay. It's as good as it's going to get with my brain in this mushy state), hold his strong growing little body and gaze at his little ancient/new face, my adrenalin levels descend a little more. And I sort of feel my way into being a parent, gradually. 

Coherence is beyond me, so I'm just going to write some notes about this week before I forget absolutely everything about it. 

  • Day one of my stay, and we're waiting outside the babies' room (one of them. It's the usual wide bright corridor where you don't know if it's night or day, with rooms off it.) Machines are bleeping, mobiles are turning, The Skype Boat Song is being banged out in slow electronic notes. A nurse is searching in Jay's file - she can't find a reference to my name, even though the JB has been cleared. I lean against the wall. I appreciate the security, after all, and he's so close, I can wait another little bit. My name is found on a sticker - we're ushered in.
    There he is. 
    He's sleeping in his swing seat. He's not so little. Hello baby, I say. There's no rush at all, I just am with him. The nurses are telling us waking him would be a disservice, he needs to sleep. She doesn't have to tell me; I hate to wake people. Some rusty lever is being pushed in my brain, though, I feel a shift toward understanding the simple practical fact of caring for a young baby. Here is this baby. Here I am, a big strong adult, flawed as I am. I'll do my best by him.

    After a bit, it's feeding time. I hold him, I feed him. I relax a tiny bit. We talk to nurses and doctors. The hospital and nurses are excellent. Professional, kind.

  • Last night I met one, also called [Twangy's real name], (Which has become a name teenagers' mothers have, by the way, in case anyone's interested. Oh dear. Hardly the point.) who - I could cry thinking of how respectful, empathetic and kind she was with Jay. She took such care of him - we (she) bathed him, she encouraged me, she explained how little babies are afraid they'll fall when you carry them uncovered; it's a startle reflex. Little Jay was gripping my fingers. I know, the world is crazy but I promise we won't let you fall, she said to him. I promise. She has four children. I commiserated with her working the night shift. Oh, no, she said, it means I can go to school events and parties during the day, that way I don't have to give anything up.
    Well, except sleep, I say.
    Wonderful woman. She sorted us out and made him feel all cosy and content, a warm wrapped bundle in my arms. All in a night's work.

  • It's strangely intense in the baby room, energising but at the same time exhausting, so the JB and I are working a shift system now, taking turns to cover the day feeds, learn how to do baby care and Be There. Hold him so he knows how we smell. [Of hotel soap.] Talk to him, so he knows our voices. [The JB talking to Jay in his Kerry accent, recalls his father exactly: Now, Jay, eat your dinner, there's a good boy. Yum. Yum.
    [Love surge for the JB.]
    [..though I'd still prefer he didn't put wet towels on the bed.]

Ah. I've written myself out for the moment. Also I must go to town and find some very small teeshirts.
Thank you for reading, everyone. 


Love from 
T xx




NEWS

I’ve been incapable of the introspection required for blogging because of all the powerful emotions thundering through me like carthorses but now, I will in fact attempt a narrative, before I start forgetting details. It’s like trying to contain an ocean in a thimble but some sort of record is essential. It’s been quite a week. Last Wednesday 16th March, (auspiciously my nephew Spike’s eleventh birthday), I was leaving the house for choir when I got an email from Agency Boss Lady, which proceeded thusly:

How are you doing?? I believe I have wonderful news for you, you have a son!

(Which words were pre-emptive, really.) Details from the social worker and hospital followed below. A baby boy had been born on the 12th to a mother who wished to have him adopted. By us, specifically. (!!) He was still in the hospital. The birthmother had received no prenatal care*, he was a little small for dates (though on “normal” charts) and had some other significant challenges*. But he seemed remarkably well; his test results were all good, considering.

I nearly fainted dead away on the spot; but somehow did remain standing and contained myself enough to go to choir. I told Real Friend, also in the Alto section, a bit of the story. Real was most excited, tentatively so, like me. It felt like a dream. That evening another email arrived, this one from Irish Agency. “We’ve heard your news and want to support you at this exciting time” it said. “We must advise you strongly to get a second medical evaluation.” Their doctor had had a look at the medical reports and raised the concern that the circumference of the baby’s head was smaller than it “should” be, and since our declaration is for a child with no or minor health issues, this caused all sorts of infuriating cautionary conversations with Irish Agency. But yes, there was need for caution.

[I’m on the flight now. They keep interrupting this My Important Missive with commands to sit back, relax and enjoy the flight. I will be flying into my beloved NYC (hi Bionic!) and on to [nearish city].]

St Patrick’s Day happened. We had planned to go to Spike’s traditional family birthday lunch as prepared by his mother, the chef. (Always amazing. Always. [Now I’m hungry. Where’s my plastic inflight meal?]) but What With Everything, we spent the day trying to process the information and finding a paediatrician with appropriate expertise to give an assessment of the medical reports.
Some snapshots of the St Weirdrick’s Day of the traditional green velour hats, parades and adoption anxiety: the JB is searching on the internet for information about newborn head sizes, I’m compulsively cleaning behind the telly, something I’ve never had any interest in before, (my version of nesting, I presume; it got worse) but the mindless activity is comforting. All the cables must be detangled! I’m thinking about Baby’s birthmother. It’s so sad. I’m crying. Then, I’m not anymore, I’m staring at the shelves, having gone there for.. something, the line of a song from a musical going around my head, dementedly. The JB is going back and forth with information. We’re looking at flights. We’re hugging. I’m thinking about little babies in the NICU. The JB is reading emails from Agency Boss Lady. She is very positive! Too positive? We need another opinion and we set this up remotely with an expert in this area. (Email me if you ever need to know her name.) I’m talking to Irish social worker and she is nice, less annoying than the first. Also, she’s heard from the NICU doctor that he’s pleased with the baby’s progress. It’s all the smallest bit more real. We sleep heavily and then not at all, and then it’s the 18th, and we speak to World Expert on speaker phone. Her probable prognosis sounds perfectly manageable, in as much as any child’s future can be predicted. Our declaration covers those sorts of issues. I also got two other referrals for Irish doctors from my GPs (involves visits to those), but with the weekend it’s going to be hard to get hold of them. We’re looking at flights again. The JB is talking to his HR department, I’m wondering who to ask to mind the cat.

[Bleah, turbulence.]

All the while I am only half-believing this is happening. It’s hard to believe we won’t be cheated somehow. Won’t something go wrong? We tell the family at the weekend. They are delighted for us. My usually laconic brother gives advice about wobbly necks and car seats which seems Too Soon, and feels jinxy, but it’s his way of being excited for us. And yet maybe it will work out?

[Bleah, re-turbulence. I hope I’m not going to die in a fiery crash now? After All That? No. I refuse to.]

More good news from NICU. He’s gaining weight and his head has expanded - the JB read moulding happens after a vaginal birth. We confirm the match! We’re thrilled. Thrilled! And afraid. Afraid. We book the recommended hotel (sort of mini-apartment/hotel deal), the JB departs, on Tuesday. He’s to go to the hospital yesterday with the social worker. I wait uncomfortably for hours, telling myself it’s probably hard to send a message while holding a baby, and of course they are four hours behind (until the weekend when we spring forward). I look at baby books (I mean the basic info type, not the ones with the Reproving Ideas that bunny is not fond of. (I trust her.)) and decide that can wait till [city]. I clean the house madly, I make cat arrangements. I try to think of everything, which is tiring, but I am not tired, I am 78% adrenaline. JB sends me a text, blessed blessed man, with a photo of him and the Actual Baby, for whom I will think of a better pseudonym. They look lovely, perfect together. The JB has an expression of bamboozlement, fear and delight. Actual Baby is awfully, awfully sweet. The JB held him for three hours straight, until his arms hurt. That’s a kind man. And here I am, over Newfoundland, catching up with them, and now you are now caught up too.

More later, my dears. We are coming in to land, I hope, though the story is never over, is it.

xx T 

*(I am struggling with the decision how much to share of her and his story. Maybe I’ll put more details in a locked post.)