The Adopting

imposter-ism

[Bit of a makeover. Not sure about the checked pattern, mind you. It puts me in mind of a strange garment we were supposed to wear in school, the tabard, a square polyester check tunic designed to protect you from poster paints and ketchup.]

[I'm listening as I type to the alto part of Faure's Cantique de Jean Racine. I ought to be singing the part but am trying the optimistic view that it'll just sort of magically get absorbed into my brain cells if I listen to it enough. I took up choir last week but it's tricky to shoehorn practice time into the day, he's sleeping now, and Heaven knows I need to practise.] 

[Oh yes! There are two teeth coming, rather thrillingly, craggy white peaks surging out of a - um - pink clouds? So that's why he's been so moany, poor kid. And yesterday feeling much better, he spent 10 minutes chortling at my brother's family dog, a (hilarious) black labradoodledoodle (more poodle than not) with a (side-splittingly amusing) curly coat. He made us all laugh too; it was a delight.]

It happens every so often, in the baby aisle in the supermarket or when I set foot in the Bermuda triangle of the Maternity Hospital of Doom that I have a clear comparison between this the present Twangy with the previous pre-Jay Twangy. I prod my scars, very gingerly, I try not to forget what it was like. I'd feel a strange loyalty to my previous self. I try to be mindful but it is not easy when your life is so transformed, when it feels so much more urgent and meaningful because of the presence of a baby. It feels like that, at least. I used to say there were many ways of makng a life meaningful, I used to hate it when people would say things like: you have to be a parent to understand. I'd be most offended. Maybe you did, I'd think, but you don't know what I am like. I don't need to be a parent to worry about a child trapped in a burning building. And yet, and yet there are things that I didn't understand and I couldn't imagine. They are not quite the things I thought, though. I didn't realise how relentless it is to be a parent. how much of a shock it is to realise you are going to be doing this again tomorrow and tomorrow and again and again, and there's no way out of the crushing sense of responsibility. You can't run away. Those things are what surprised me. 

So maybe I have leapt some sort of divide. I feel stronger. I feel I would cheerfully throw myself in front of a train, for Jay. Sleepless nights aren't fun, or anything, but my friends are way too horrified by my sleep deprivation. I feel a lot tougher than I would have thought. I seem to remember Seinfeld saying he went to the advanced planet when he became a parent and though this rubs me the wrong way I can see what he means. It's not fair, is it? That for some this way is open, and for some it is not, and it's always alarming to contemplate your own luck, because as soon as you do, it all starts feeling very random,  undeserved and fragile. 

Still, maybe one day I'll be able to park in the parent spot, and feel like I belong. 

Agh! Must go. It's days later and I've run out of time again. 


Good Sunday to all
T

 

 


knowing what you are doing

I've been composing this post over many post 4am feed hours and I hope it somehow magically transfers efficiently from my brain on to the page, as I have 20 mins to turn this baby around. So many things to be recorded, if I could only recall them.

It's my favourite time of day. I'm sitting up in the bed, Jay is sleeping peacefully in his cot; all is orderly and calm. I can listen to my podcasts and poke around on the internet. It's cosy. I have the pleasant clarity that I know what I am doing, at night, (the mission is clear, if not always simple: to settle Jay and keep him safe, fed and comfortable) and while I don't always quite have this confidence during the day, I am less at sea than I used to be. He's getting easier; I'm getting more competent, (just like you said!). There are more things he enjoys now and can do. He likes his toys, he likes going to the supermarket (Tesco is Disneyland, as fas as he's concerned). He still doesn't do this fabled Sleeping Through The Night Thing I hear about but he's mostly more settled. (Although, we had a bad week a while ago - waking every blessed two hours for nights on end, which coincided with/caused a Bettyhead. This instilled tremendous gratitude for a mere four hourly wake-up. Four hours is fiiine, relatively.)

It also helps that I now get that a smooth graphed line at 45 degrees indicating progress is not the way it is with babies. It's more like one step forward, two back, three sideways, do the hokey cokey and turn around, two steps forward, etc etc. But gradually, gradually, in the background, the general trend is up and over time you realise, hey, it's much easier now he enjoys his bath, or look, he always nods off at this point, and ug, you remember when he used to take 20mins to drink 50ml? The days pass slowly and the weeks quickly. It's very momenty, and detailed, so much that you can lose sight of the big picture. 

A pediatric physio came over the other day to assess his progress. For whatever reason, that was the day Jay decided that stranger = danger, unfortunate timing, because instead of turning his head and grasping toys offered to him he whimpered and stared suspiciously at the (perfectly nice as far as I could see) physio. Oh dear. Even so! He scored in the 30 percentile, which is not bad for a boy with a less than ideal start in life, who was not feeling cooperative. I did try to tell Physio that Jay was not normally like this, but you know how it is, you start to sound hollow pretty quickly. No, really, honestly, he normally does hold things and does turn his head to the right and does open his hands! He's usually quite jolly!  I might have to video Jay for the next one. We have to work on his tummy-time more, as apparently he will definitely be stealing cars by 15 otherwise. 

The JB and I have been married for ten years. I know you're supposed to say I can't believe it, time flies. But no. It does feel like ten years to me, ten good ones, a solid decade, and we're still happily together, and it's certainly never boring, anyway. I tell you what though, parenthood does change things, doesn't it? The fact that now we need each other as opposed to choosing to be together, is quite sobering. The fact that there's no going back is, too - we are changed by being parents. It's irrevocable! (What a scary word! IRREVOCABLE. The sound alone petrifies me.) We're running a lifelong marathon. But even before and apart from that, the essential question of what marriage is meant to be escapes me. I don't really get it, I never have. I could point to my parents; I certainly would not want to replicate their relationship. In any case, it's all a mystery to me. What's supposed to happen? Am I responsible for his happiness? No? Yes? Don't get it. Must work on this. Must read books or something. No, first I must lie down and listen to The Archers. Maybe they know what marriage is. 

Well, time's up - in fact a day has gone by and I now must depart for a gin and cake housewarming party at the place of a woman from my choir. (Surely the most middle-aged sentence I ever wrote. )
Hope you're all well. Post, anyone?
T

  IMAG2067

(My mother gave us this tin of biscuits for our anniversary. 10 years is tin, I believe. The biscuits didn't last long.)


Home

AT LAST
Totally banjaxed and a bit at sea of course, (because there was no baby in this house before and now there is a baby, and where does the baby go now?) but oh, everyone! I am so happy!

Thanks for seeing me home, folks. More soon, of course. There's always more.

:D
T


hurray!

We have our date. That is, we have a barring things going wrong type date which is as good as it'll get, I reckon. Our court order is to come on Friday or Monday and our passport appointment on Tuesday, which means we can travel next Wednesday 25th.

!!!

So, so thrilled. 

Thank you again, lovely people, for sticking with me during this painful/wonderful time of transition. Of course, this story is only beginning, so don't go away! Unless you absolutely have to, for a brief comfort break, or for sustenance. I'm not clingy, or anything. I can let go of your trouser leg anytime! Anytime at all!

----

Brief parenting type question: Jay has not been much of a napper until this week, but now he drops off into a deep sleep in the morning, like now, from which you can hardly rouse him. He's jolly when he's awake, mostly, apart from the odd gas-related/constipation meltdown. Last night, after his mega 3 hour nap of yesterday, (remaining quite sleepy through walks and cuddles and everything), he woke up at 6 and was all bright-eyed and lively, and wanted to play! play! play! at his designated sleep-time of 8. So I let him lie on his front (because that is tiring for him), and swat at his toys in the semi-dark, and then, finally, at about 9, after me doing the time-honoured "And Jay, all the bus-drivers are going to sleep, and all the squirrels are going to sleep, and all the shop-keepers are going to sleep, and all the babies are going to sleep, because it's time to go to sleep" for quite a bit, he did drift off and sleep well all night. So what to do? I reckon we'll keep him moving, even if he's sleepy, during the day, to avoid the deep deep sleep? If thoughts occur, they are welcome. Not to worry if not. Not a real problem, just curious if others have noticed changes in sleep patterns like this. 

Yours, in great excitement
T

 


watched pot

The Bionic Family came to visit us! This was wonderful. They were Ambassadors of Cheer and Normality in this strange time, visitors from a reasonable, well-adjusted, calm place. Harbingers of hope.

Also: look at the pile of clothes they brought for Jay. I am very enamoured of ears on clothes - I'd like to see them at Paris Fashion Week. Also this elephant pattern, so attractive:

IMAG1848That was a sweet interlude. I have been feeling much better, until this morning where I find myself on insufficient sleep (Jay wanted to get up at 5 to play, which is sweet but, sigh. He's playing more and more every day. Eat for a half hour, cuddle for half hour, play for half hour, meltdown for a half hour, walk for a hour, repeat) and full of yearning for home. I keep checking my email for news of our court order, which feasibly could come today, since a week has passed and it should be a week to ten days . Oh please come court order.. But as perhaps you'll have noticed, a watched pot never boils. Never, never

I have to occupy myself, in the manner of someone lighting a cigarette so the bus will come. So, I dunno, we'll go to town and look at some books or something. 

I hope all is well with you lovely people. Update your blogs - I'd love to know. 
xx
T


free advice

So. Wearing a baby (he likes it! I got the ergo in the end, because it was what they had it in the shop I was in, and I had no further energy for looking around. Still traumatised from previous journey to Babies "R" Us) attracts all kinds of commentary, as you'll have noticed.

I was in the Hotel Office, where you can surf awkwardly on Internet Explorer for ten minute intervals.

Blond Curly Woman in her fifties (?) enters, singing some line from one of the middle-of-the-road Dad rock songs piped around the hotel. 

Jay wakes and starts whining a little. I reassure him, then I agree with him it's time to move.

BCW: Oh! It's okay, if he makes a little noise. 
Me: Ah. It's fine, he likes to keep moving.
BCW: You know what it is? They don't like to be strapped in. You know what they like? Just put them on a sheet naked, rub a little oil between their toes and they'll be like.. [She makes a gesture intended to indicate bliss, presumably.]
Me, making to escape: Errr. I think he's just hungry.. 
BCW: Oh, go ahead! Booby time! I hope you're breastfeeding? 
Me, flatly: He's adopted.
BCW: Oh. They have breast milk at the hospital, you know?
Me, mildly (relieved, I thought she was going to recommend some course of hormone treatment to induce lactation or something): He's doing really well.
I leave.
Then, I met her again at the entrance and she had to fit in a loud parting shot: Aw! Enjoy him! They grow up so quick! Smell that hair!

God save me from people. 

The Non-Trembler is being quite nice, if you can disregard his being an expert on everything, including the likelihood of Jay's ears hurting on the plane [very likely] and his accumulated wisdom on custody hearings based on what happened to his colleague at work (which has nothing to do with our thing) and the slowness of the court system [very slow]. Does he have to take pleasure from being so negative? Apparently, yes. His wife is very sweet, I must say. I do like her and she liked Jay a lot, I think. The Non-Trembler was like: It's fine, I can see him from here. 

Ah well. First trip to town with carrier today: unqualified success, so mustn't complain. My dear friend R called me today as well, and she helped me rethink our enforced stay. We have between 2.5 and 3 weeks probably (some fecking eejit of a medical consultant in Ireland went on his holidays so there was a bit of a backlog) to wait still. She advised us to think in terms of three weeks, to plan and fill them with as many restorative and enjoyable outings and treats, (rather than mournfully making scratches on the wall to mark off the days of our sentence, yearning, wailing and carrying on). This is helpful. If the date slips further, by the time our planned three weeks is over, we'll have a date at least and be very close to it. If it turns out to be less than the three weeks, great. I've already looked into yoga for tomorrow and a massage early next week, between vaccine appointments and social worker visits. Also, who knows maybe we could hire a car and see a bit of the country. (Though I feel nelly-ish about driving on the other side of the road still.)

Heaven help us, it's the witching hour. Poor Jay. Poor JB. He (Jay) doesn't sleep much during the day - just a half hour or so here and there. It's hard to get him to calm down enough to sleep deeply while it's light. Should I worry about this? He does sleep (FINGERS CROSSED IN THE EXTREMELY CROSSED POSITION) at night and sometimes more than 3 hours pass between feeds (small mercies, people). Thought welcome, if any occur.

Thanks for your company, everyone. 
Have a good weekend, wherever you may be. Mind yourselves.
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.)


Yet Another piece of news

Yet Another has chosen another family. I wasn't much surprised because Agency Manager warned us that eight profiles had been given to Yet Another, and those odds were not good, were they. Surprised, no, bummered, yes. I went to see Room later that day, which may not have been the best choice given the circumstances, but I enjoyed it in a weep-freely-in-the-dark way. I am now restored. Or back to Square One, and sort of hopeful in a perverse, Darkest Before Dawn way.

Since then, there has been Family Over from England and the need to feed and arrange them and sit through Live Mic nights waiting for my cousin's kid to sing. It's fun having arty cousins, I admit, they make me feel more normal. More live mic tonight, with mandatory poems from that motley crew known as Spoken Word Poets. Themes range from masturbation to spiders, to love, and back again. WISH ME LUCK.

Talk soon, folks. Thanks for sticking with me through the longest wait in the history of humankind. 
I need to write an anthem to patience. Or a poem perhaps? That would be lovely, wouldn't it.
T


Yet Another

Folks

For ten days, I have been laid low with The Dreaded Lurgy, only emerging shakily from the house today. Just as well, because the adoption merry-go-round has creaked into action once more. Yet Another Lady is perusing our profile - and since this time she has already given birth (on the 9th) everything is proceeding at a much accelerated pace. It's so strange. Well, it's always that, of course. [Insert all-knowing sigh of ancient wisdom.] Talking about a baby in the abstract is quite different to knowing it's a girl, (a girl! I'm sure I don't have to tell you I don't care AT ALL about gender - it's the specificity itself that is so meaningful. The details make the unique baby leap into the imagination) and what weight she is (healthy) and where she is (in a hospital, in a small US town).

Well, to sum up, I'd really like if this worked out. If it does, it'll be GO GO GO. If it's not, there'll be gnashing of teeth, but nothing fatal. Fingers crossed.

More soon -
T xx