Thursday, April 30, 2009

Court and Surprises!

Ok, well, surprise surprise, I am backed up on blogging! Looking back over everything, this blog is a great place to keep memories of our adventure in adopting, and I wanted to be sure to blog about Tuesday.

This week was always going to be crazy! It is my last week of work for my job, and I knew it was the point of no return in terms of going to get my last bits of paperwork done and finishing up at the office. Because my mom is here to help out this week, and she also wanted to spend some time with my sister, our driving schedules were starting to look like Grand Central Station. Should I take Leah and spend the night at Judy's on Sunday? And if so, would my mom then spend the night as well and come to my office to get Leah from me after work? Because I had to stay over at Judy's again Monday night so I could leave bright and early to pick up Tasha to go to court.

Finally, we decided to be bold and ask Tasha to spend the night with us on Monday. Now I know, I know many of you probably think that is the nuttiest thing you've ever heard. And if I had suspected I'd have this kind of relationship with my daughter's birthmother, I'd have thought I was totally out to lunch too! But we've just been extremely fortunate to have made this match and been able to have such a good relationship with Tasha. The three of us call it "The Match Made In Heaven". So I sent Tasha a text and asked if she would like to come spend the night with us and she said she would. So I spent Sunday night with Leah at Judy's, went to work with Leah who was the hit of the office, and then we drove to Glen Burnie to pick Tasha up and bring her back to Fredericksburg. Now even I admit this is probably a little bit past the 'normal' birth parent/adoptive parent relationship, but as the old saying goes, "What is normal anyway?!" It worked for us. My mom spent Monday cleaning the house and preparing for Tasha's arrival and we got back around 9:00. She loved the house, loved Leah's room, said TomTom was the biggest rabbit she ever saw in her life, and we all ate chocolate chip cookies and then tried to go to bed.

I say tried because Leah decided that Monday night was the best night ever to throw her first temper tantrum. And I am not kidding when I say this kid was SCREAMIN'! OMG. After about 45 minutes, I just couldn't do it any more. I had been up since 5:00am, it was now midnight, I'd been driving all over God's green Earth, I had NOT gotten my work done so I was facing another day in the office, it was NUTTY. So I told Michael to please go downstairs and get my mom. She came upstairs, blinking in the light, and I sobbed, "I think the Chinese tainted her formula with paint chips" and thrust Leah into my mom's arms. I was crying, Michael was crying, Leah was crying. My mother said, "There are no paint chips in her formula!" and I said, "Well then the aliens have come down and swapped babies because my baby has never acted like this before." After about an hour, Leah sort of settled down, but the minute I put her in her crib, bang, she was off crying again. So I was like, "Screw this, it's nearly 2am, and I'm exhausted" and I picked her up, put her in bed with us, and she went right to sleep.

I woke up four hours later so totally out of it that my first thought was, "Who put this baby in my bed?" When she is in a bad mood now, she has been affectionately dubbed "Paint Chip Baby".

So Tuesday morning we all get up, and by 10:00 we realize we need to start thinking about getting ready to leave for the court date. I am a planner, I admit, I like to have A PLAN in place, but my mom is an uber-planner and wanted to know everything we had planned for the day--who was going in which cars, what we would do afterwards, etc. I honestly couldn't get past arriving at the courthouse. I just couldn't. I really had no idea what to expect from the hearing, I didn't know who was meeting us there, we didn't know if Tasha's attorney would be coming, the whole 9 yards. So I couldn't be much help. My mom feels better in times of stress knowing exactly what's going to happen and having a firm grip on the situation. In times of stress, I just give up and let nature take its course. It was kind of entertaining.

I had determined that we needed to leave at 11:00 to go to the courthouse. My internal clock told me this would be the right time to leave, so by 11:00, after 3 wardrobe changes on my part (new dress required a slip which I didn't have, suit was way too big, third choice suit was too big but at least it stayed up), we headed out--my mom in her car, Tasha, Leah, Mike, and I in our car. We made it to the courthouse around 11:20 and got past the metal detectors by 11:30, but had no idea what to do after that. Tasha found a list on the wall of all the court cases for civil court, but we weren't listed. Finally, a sheriff took pity on us and told us that we needed to go to the juvenile court clerk to find out which courtroom we were going to go to, and it turned out we were going to the basement court room. We went to get on the elevator, only it's a trick elevator, when you try to go from the basement to the first floor, it automatically goes to the second floor. So we had to wait for it to come back down before we could get on to go to the basement (the stairwells are protected and you need a special badge to go up and down them).

We got the basement and there was an austere little waiting room down there--about 15 chairs arranged in a square. At least we knew that our case was for that day, because there was NOBODY down there--it was dead quiet and a completely uninspiring decor. I guess I pictured adoption court as being kind of warm and fuzzy. But as you can see from this picture, it was deadsville. Finally a couple of deputies came out and asked if we were there for the Baby Girl X case, and we said yes, and that put our minds at ease a bit, since they were expecting us. They admired Leah for a while and then disappeared and then Colleen, our attorney arrived. She introduced herself to Tasha and I introduced my mom and the next thing out of her mouth was, "We have a small glitch."

Well, I don't have to tell you, my heart sunk to my shoes, my mother about had a coronary, and for once in his life, Michael was struck speechless. It turns out that the guardian ad litem they had selected was not actually on the list of approved GALs for the county and would not be able to act on Leah's behalf that day. Colleen was halfway through explaining that we just had to get a new court order to do something when a voice behind her said, "You have a GAL and I'm it!" and our hero, Brenda, introduced herself as the pinch hitter. We all started breathing again. Colleen spent some time with Brenda explaining that Leah's father had never replied to the letters sent to his home and getting Mike, Tasha, and I to all sign a paper requesting that the courts grant the custody transfer. And then over the loudspeaker, we were called in to the court room, at which point Leah decided to start screaming. It was nearly impossible to hear what the hell was going on, and finally after a couple minutes of Colleen trying to talk over Leah's wailing, I told my mom, "Mom! Just feed her!" So Mom slapped a bottle in Leah's mouth, and she was happy as a little clam.

The next part was for Colleen to read over the legal agreements with Tasha. Tasha was sworn in and asked a bunch of questions, such as did she know she had alternatives to the adoption including keeping the child and raising her herself, did she want or had she been offered counseling, was she sure of who the birth father was, did she belong to any Native American tribes, was she being coerced into the adoption by anyone in any way, etc. Once she answered all their questions to her satisfaction, she was given the court documents and asked to read them and sign them. Then Colleen explained to her that she had two options for that day, she could choose to terminate her rights effective immediately or she could choose to retain a 7 day waiting period during which she could change her mind at any time. She elected to terminate her rights immediately.

Once she signed everything, Colleen gave all the forms to Judge Daltan and then Brenda had a few questions and Colleen discussed the birth father with the judge. We all had a good laugh over the fact that FedEx confirmed delivery and that the package was signed for by a 'receptionist' at the man's residence, which was presumed to be his wife. Everyone expected that Mister had a real bad day after that.

After Brenda agreed that everything looked to be in order, the judge agreed and signed off on everything. With his signature, both Tasha's and the birthfather's rights were immediately terminated and Leah was put into our custody legally for a period of one year. Colleen then explained to us that all this did was set the clock ticking for us to have our social worker visits and that in about 6 months, we would appear again before the circuit courts to have the custody arrangements made permanent. This gives the courts time to make sure we are not abusive or neglectful and that Leah will be fine under our care.

A new court date was set for April 27, 2010 (again, we will go to court long before this) and the judge wished us well and sent us out. We packed up Leah and headed out. When we got back to that stupid waiting area, the dams burst. Tasha stepped towards me, handed me Leah, and said, "Congratulations, Susan." I ignored the baby, wrapped my arms around Tasha and started to weep. Having now been a mom for 3 glorious weeks, I can appreciate the act of courage it took that wonderful young woman to do what she did. I honestly can't imagine doing it myself. I heard her say, "are you OK, Mike?" and I grabbed him and the three of us crowded around Leah, hugging and crying while Mom and Colleen looked on. What do you say when "Thank you" does not even begin to cover it? We told her how much we loved her, we thanked her a million times, and we just hugged her and all of us were crying. Finally we all got it together, and Colleen stepped forward and said it really was wonderful that we had such a fantastic relationship and how unusual it was.

And we thanked her of course for all of her hard work. Seriously, there is no way you can find a better attorney than her for an adoption. We had to go upstairs to get the official decrees from the clerk, and once they were there, we were ready to leave, custody order in hand! We knew Tasha wanted to get back to Maryland ASAP as her 2 year old was coming home and *drum roll* because she (Tasha) had gotten married last week and her new husband was missing her! So we all stopped at McDonald's for a quick lunch, and then Michael, Leah, Tasha, and I hauled butt up to Maryland. Once we got to Tasha's place we went in for a bit, fed and changed Leah (who still HATES being in the car) and then it was time to go. It was bittersweet, but I am sure we will see Tasha again, and I've already heard from her, so I didn't shed any tears at saying "See you later" (we didn't say good bye :-D).

Michael, Leah, and I rolled it on south and I decided to obey the letter if not the spirit of the law by taking my family of 3 onto the HOV lanes of 95. WOW WAS IT AWESOME! We rolled past all the traffic on 95 at 4pm and made it home before 5:00. I'm not traveling 95 without my hubby and my daughter ever again. YEAH BOYS!

So we were rolling up our street and I was thinking, "Those kids better have cut the lawn today!" and as we got close to the house, I started seeing the kids moving around the lawn and I was feeling good. But then I noticed something crazy was sitting in the yard, and I said, "What the hell?!" Michael was grinning ear to ear. I said, "Honey! Someone put a giant sign in our yard!" And then I nearly drove off the road and into our neighbor's yard. I was like, "AWWWW!" because the sign is just SO CUTE and Michael said, "yes, Amy Wells took care of that!" and I was like, "OH MY GOD! AMY!?" and I got all misty-eyed. And then I damned near drove past our driveway.

So once we were inside, my mom told me all about Amy's cousin coming up to the house and installing the sign, and apparently while she was here, our neighbor Jean came over to see the baby (surprise, we were in Maryland, poor thing has stopped by twice and no baby!) after seeing the sign go up. Mom handed me all the paperwork about the sign which I immediately read to see if I might be able to keep it, but there was a pick up date on the slip (Damn it!!!! I LOVE THE SIGN AND WANT TO STEAL IT :-D)

So once the kids were done with the front yard, I told my mom, "I want pictures with the sign!" I gathered up Leah and Michael and we went out front and took some pictures. I didn't even want to waste time putting my shoes on--out we went! I just stood admiring it for a long time.

Then we took our first family "portrait". I gave my mom a little artistic direction, she was getting all of us into the shots, so she'd take a picture and I'd say, "no, zoom it closer!" and she'd take another one, and I'd say, "No, zoom it closer!" until we got this:

Which I absolutely LOVE. :-)

That night to celebrate the fact that on Sunday, Leah's umbilical cord stump FINALLY fell off, we decided to give her her first bath. Wash off the dust of the past and start her with her new family squeaky clean. Um, yeah, she pretty much hates us now.

We got it all on videotape, which I loved. It was absolutely hilarious, the level of her outrage over that bath. When she's unhappy, the entire world knows she's unhappy. I can't wait to give her another one :-)

So that was our court day. Wednesday I went back to work alone to finish up what I could of my caseload and pack up my desk and head out. It felt so weird. But it also felt really, really good. I have been anxious for this day to come, and I know that I will see my co-workers again, so I can't get too gloomy about it. I arrived home to a beautiful flower arrangement from my wonderful in-laws. Don't you love the little duck planter?

Today my mom and I gathered supplies for our freezer cooking fun, she made spaghetti sauce, and we took Leah for a walk. I've noticed that Leah sleeps A LOT better when she gets a walk in the fresh air and she sleeps TERRIBLE when she doesn't, so I'm attempting to walk her every night unless the weather is not good. She more or less sleeps through the walks, which is fine, but her nighttimes are much more mom-friendly.

Speaking of which, I'm going to hit the hay while I can still get a couple of hours sleep! G'night all!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Meet Tasha

The beautiful young woman in the picture with us is our birthmom, Tasha. She is an incredible person, and I hope Leah inherits even half of her strength.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

It Is Done

We are officially Leah's parents. B waved her 7 day right to revoke and we were approved at 12:15 this afternoon. Dropped B back home, drove home ourselves and now we are ready for the rest of our lives to begin.

What this means is that B can no longer change her mind. Michael and I are on the hook for another 6 months--we will have 2 visits from a social worker, and then will return to court this fall to be made officially Leah's parents. We view this as a formality, we fully expect to 'pass'.

Happy day!

Today is A Big Day

Today is court day. Our hearing is at 12:00 for B to sign her rights way and for us to take legal custody of Leah. Hopefully by 1:00 it will all be over. Keep your fingers crossed for us that it all goes smoothly!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Book of Gratitude for B.

I have decided to go ahead and make the gratitude book for B. I found an awesome package of 200 multicolored cards at Target, and what we'll do is send a card to anyone who wants to participate but won't be able to make the open house (tentatively scheduled for either May 30th or June 6th [preferences anyone?]) and you can decorate it, write on it, whatever you want to do, and send it back no later than June 1. I will even include postage so you have no excuse :) If you are local and want me to drop it off to you, I can do that as well. If you don't feel creative, you can drop me an email with your sentiments, I'll print it out and decorate a card for you. Please keep it fairly brief, the cards are 3X5 and we'll only be using 1 side.

Otherwise, at the open house, we will have markers, stickers, fancy scissors, etc. for you to decorate your card and have some fun expressing your gratitude to our wonderful birth mother. By then, I will be publishing her name publicly--she's given me her permission, but I don't want to do it till after the court date is over--so you'll be able to include her actual name as well.

Let me know if you'd like a card and would like to participate! We'll be sending out an Evite for the open house ASAP.

Two And a Half Weeks!?

This week has been such a whirlwind, I don't know how it happened that Leah is now 16 days old and growing like crazy! According to our baby scale, she tops eight pounds now. Considering the doctor was concerned that she wasn't gaining any weight, and considering the diaper messes, I'd say we have a bit less to worry about now.

She's had a good week. She is much more alert this week, smiles a lot more, looks around a lot more, and is awake a lot more. We discovered that while she continues to hate riding in the car and in her little chair that rocks, we loves the baby swing and the stroller. We've walked the block every day and she always enjoys falling asleep in the fading sunlight and getting some fresh air.

She also had her first "play date" at Chick-Fil-A this week, where we joined Manda and Cindy and their little ones for lunch, along with a friend, Wendy. Free food is always good, and Chick Fil A has free entrees on Thursdays here. I hope to continue enjoying that! We got good suggestions about things we should try, like a baby sling versus a Moby Wrap--I'd been considering getting a Moby Wrap, but Manda assures me they are HOT. So now I'm reconsidering.

Last night, Leah had an awesome night. She got up every 2 hours like clockwork, but she ate and promptly went right back to sleep. She slept like that from midnight till about 9am, and slept in her own bed too. Consequently, Mom slept a lot better too. I hope the trend continues.

This afternoon, I felt like an axe murderer when I changed her and cleaned out her umbilical cord (yes, the freakin' thing is STILL attached--they way they cut it so close, it's all but impossible to clean and get the alcohol in there, I cannot wait till it falls off!), and she was screaming like I was murdering her. I wound up spilling half a bottle of alcohol all over the dresser and she peed all over everything to show how royally infuriated she was. Never mind that in addition to all that, Huggies diapers apparently SUCK and when she had a MAJOR diaper filling incident, that too leaked everywhere, including up into the umbilical cord area and all over her clothing. It was not a fun mess to clean up, and her screaming the whole time and Michael demanding that she calm down just put me over the edge. I handed her to him, he went downstairs, and the two of them spent 3 hours together while I cried and slept it off. (Sorry, Elizabeth, that I disappeared on our AOL chat this afternoon, but that's what happened!)

Still, all I have to do is look at her and I just melt. I really can't put into words how much I love this little gal and how much she filled a big hole in my heart. Once Tuesday comes and goes, and with it our court date, I am going to heave a big sigh of relief and be ready to throw the biggest celebration ever. I am hopeful that B. will sign away her rights with finality (she can hold onto a 7 day waiting period on Tuesday, or she can just agree to be done with the whole thing and waive her 7 days) on Tuesday and then except for the formality of 2 social worker visits and a final court date in the fall, we are done.

So that's what's new from here. I'm glad my mom arrives tomorrow. I know I've managed basically on my own for the last 2 weeks, but it'll be nice to have back up. Then we will have a week alone and then my mother-in-law and father-in-law will arrive, which will also be so helpful. And then another week and Uncle Mike and Auntie Lesley arrive. May is going to be an awesome month. Lots of company, lots of lovin', lots of help! I might even be able to tame my yard at some point. :-)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Doing Something For B.

A lot of people have asked me, "What can we do for B?" She has become a real heroine to so many people, most of all to us, that even though people don't know who she is, they want to express their gratitude to her.

Sometime in May, we are planning to host a little open house, and a thought I had was to have some notecards handy where people could write a note to B expressing their feelings for her. I can then compile them into a book and give it to her. She's a tough cookie, but I wish you guys could see her melt when someone says nice things to her--it's clear she loves receiving love and encouragement in a way few people genuinely need and soak it in.

What do you all think? Do you have other ideas? Shoot 'em at me! Also, if you can't make it to the open house but would like to participate, I can get a card to you and you can return it to me by mail so we can include it.

Finding Out

One of the most dreaded things to happen when we've been on this journey is when people ask us a question about how we will approach a certain issue, we explain our position, and they say, "Oh, you'll find out in a heartbeat that you're dead wrong!"

And then they chuckle at us like we're a couple of knuckleheads who know nothing about raising children.

Two of the "Oh, you'll find out!" issues to hit us have been the issues of co-sleeping and pacifiers. When we've said we're not co-sleeping and we're not using pacifiers, people have laughed at us. But Leah has been home for nearly 2 weeks, and while we've backtracked halfway on pacifiers, I'm proud to report that she sleeps in her room every night and she seems to love us anyway.

How did we backtrack halfway on pacifiers? Well, it seems the little suckers actually help her fall asleep. They gave her one in the hospital, and B. was a big proponent of the thing, and so she got used to having one in her mouth. So at night when we're putting her to bed, we let her suck on a pacifier till she falls asleep. The big issue I have with it is that when she starts to relax and it falls out of her mouth, she starts screaming and freaking out because she doesn't have it in her mouth. So we are trading in a few moments peace for more upset because she has frustration that she can't keep the thing in her mouth. However, a few other people have also pointed out it's easier to break them of a pacifier than it is of them sucking their thumbs, which she has shown a perfect willingness to do if not given her pacifier. So, at night, we give it to her. During the day, we are able to soothe her and quiet her, and she's fine.

As for co-sleeping, it was harder in Maryland and I was really hard on myself. While we were staying there, there was nowhere to really put her if she got upset. The crib was in our room, and there was literally her crib and our bed. Tom hasn't gotten much furniture yet, so there was no place to go sit with her if she got upset. Consequently, I would pick her up to feed her and we'd wind up sitting on the bed. And then, yes, I know, call the mommy police, we were so tired those first couple of days, I'd fall asleep holding her.

Coming home has been much easier. We have the rocking chair where I can hold her and rock her till she falls back to sleep. Sometimes she doesn't want to go back in her bed and I'll think she's asleep and she wakes right back up and wants to be held. What I have discovered thus far is that if I get a nap in the afternoon, it helps me to be able to better handle whatever situation arises at 3AM. Two days ago, I foolishly did not take a nap. Consequently, after 2 hours of rocking, crying, diaper change, feeding, and screaming, I couldn't do it any more. I caved and we went to bed. Last night, because I had taken a nap in the afternoon for a couple of hours while she napped, everything went much more smoothly.

It's still early days, and I'm sure I'll be learning more and more. She's on a schedule of her own making--she is generally awake from 2-5AM and then sleeps till around 11:00. I've got a system worked out with the bottles so I'm not running up and down the stairs a million times, which is also helpful, and we mainly spend our days upstairs, just because it's easier having all the gear necessary for changing her in one spot.

I am enjoying this experience a whole lot more than I thought possible, and just love this little lady with every fiber of my being. Physically I feel a lot better than I expected I would--there's only been one day I was so dog tired I couldn't function, and fortunately it was a day my dad was here and let me sleep. That morning, my breakfast consisted of a full test Mountain Dew. Now I'm back on track. Tonight we make our final pilgrimage to Maryland for her doctor's appointment in the morning, and then I think we're in business except for the court date and attendant trips to pick up B and bring her home afterwards.

I really was nervous that I wasn't going to be able to handle it, but having plans and being organized in advance has been a total lifesaver. Having help from family has been a huge help--can't wait till my mom gets here Saturday, and it was so great that my sister came to stay last night so Michael and I could have our anniversary dinner together and a little quiet time. And of course, where would I be without Michael himself? He reassures me that I'm making good decisions, makes good decisions of his own on Leah's behalf, and we are most definitely on the same page with all of this. Teamwork! Yes!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Story of Leah's Birth

A couple of folks have asked to hear how it all went down, so I thought I'd write a post so I could remember myself. The details are already a little murky, so I would like to try and get it fixed in my head before I lose it completely!

Tuesday morning, we woke up thinking that the whole thing had been a false alarm. We knew that B. had a clinic appointment in the afternoon, so we decided to go and see what they had to say and then we planned to go home afterwards. We figured it wasn't a total waste of a trip because at least we got the crib set up and got the baby's stuff moved, and we would be ready to roll when the call did come in and would just have to jump in the car and drive. Michael didn't want to take off time from work unnecessarily, so the plan was to take B. to the clinic, take her home, and we'd go home.

Fate had other plans. B. called us around 10:00 and her exact words were, "I think we've made some progress, I woke up this morning and the bed was all wet." So we asked her what the plan was, and she had said that she called the hospital and they told her not to come in until her appointment at 2:30 anyway. So we decided we would go up there around lunch time to get her and bring her to the hospital.

We called her back around 11:30 to see if she wanted lunch, and she was getting antsy and told us that she had stuff for lunch at her house and could we just come? So we hopped in the car and went over there. Fortunately, it's only a 20 minute ride from Tom's house. When we got there, she was packed. She said she wanted to go early and asked if we wanted some lunch, and we declined. It was at that point it kind of dawned on me that it was happening and so we put her in the car and hauled butt to Baltimore. Once we got there, Baltimore was a total cluster-you-know-what. They had cops out directing traffic around the lights, which in my view is about the worst thing ever, and B was in the backseat, extremely unhappy. I put my hazard lights on hoping that would spur people to action, but no one and nothing moved. It took us 20 minutes to get to Baltimore and another half hour once we were in the city to get to the hospital.

We went to the clinic and they sent us directly upstairs to labor and delivery triage to see if she would be admitted. Michael had to wait downstairs, as only one visitor is permitted at a time in triage, and we saw a boatload of nurses and doctors and midwives in that time. They determined that B's water did in fact break, and she was still at 2cm, but they said, "Congratulations, you're not going home!" They found out about our relationship and the adoption and were thrilled to be a part of it, and so once B was admitted upstairs, I went and got Michael and we went to the laboring room and sat with B. for a while. The hospital social worker, Anita, came down to see and explain the hospital procedures and we gave her what paperwork we had, and she was totally fine with getting with the attorneys, etc. to make sure that everything was in order. Eventually it was determined that Leah would be discharged to B. and then B. would hand her over to us outside the hospital walls, which we all agreed to.

After that, Michael and I decided to go down to the cafeteria for some lunch. Nothing much else was happening, and B was resting and refusing pain medications, so she told us to go while we still could. When we got back, there was really still no progress, she was closing in on 3cm, and it had been over 12 hours since her water broke at 2:00AM (by now it was probably 5pm). I had a funny feeling things were going to be totally slow, and possibly end in a c-section, but I was hoping things went well. 7:00 was the shift change, so we got a new round of nurses and doctors, and B started getting really uncomfortable. Her contractions were steady, but not doing a whole lot. She asked for pain medications through her IV, which they gave her and she fell asleep. They woke her up every couple of hours to check her progress, which she HATED, but by midnight she was still only at 4cm. They gave her 5cm to give her some encouragement, but she was getting kind of pissed and asked for an epidural, so the doctor came in and I am pleased to say I didn't faint while they administered it and I was the one to hold her hands and give her reassurance while it was placed.

Meanwhile, we were watching terrible television, and the "pull out bed/chair" was broken and kept sliding apart into 3 pieces so rest was not easy to come by. Michael opted to stay awake the entire night--he was too excited to sleep. I dozed in the broken chair and when B. had contractions, I would try to help her breathe and relax, as she was getting very, very tense, which wasn't helping at all.

Around 3:00 they came in to check again and she was at 8cm. However, the baby was starting to get distressed--her heartbeat was dropping and the pitocin was not easy for her to tolerate. They monitored it a little while longer and finally decided that they should do a c-section. B was freaking out, shaking and crying, so I just smoothed her hair and gave her a hug and told her we wouldn't let anything bad happen to her and it was going to be OK. (She must have been doubly scared because she didn't have any other supports besides us--we who are two total amateurs at the childbirth game!) She asked me to go with her, and so the medical staff gave me a set of paper scrubs and a mask and told me that I could come into the OR in a bit.

I took one look at the scrubs and was like, "uh-huh, then. No way." The shirt fit fine, if a bit snug, but the pants did not fit at all. To be fair, if I hadn't been wearing jeans, they would have been fine. But over jeans, no way. So the nurses scrambled and tried to find a larger size, but they couldn't, so finally one of the techs grabbed a pair of scissors, told me to put them on as far as I could (got 'em up to my hips!) and then cut the sides so I could get into them the rest of the way. I was waddling like a penguin shoehorned into those suckers, but I went into that OR with 'em on, by God!

They had already started working on B by the time I was allowed in, and frankly, I don't have the world's greatest stomach around blood and needles and scalpels and such. But for some reason, I found this entire experience totally riveting. I sat down next to B's head and she was shaking, so I took her hand and told her everything was OK and she was in good hands. She was holding my hand in a death grip, so I just patted her forehead--the only part of her that was not covered--and kept whispering reassurances to her. Her shaking stopped. The doctors were working fast and I don't know what all they were doing, but they had quite a mess on their hands--lots of blood and suctioning and towels and instruments, but in about 5 minutes after I got in there, the head surgeon said, "Get ready, ladies!" and he gave a tug, and out popped Leah! I don't know if this is totally normal, but that baby's feet were kicking like David Beckham. I said to B, "No wonder all you could feel was kicking all the time!" and she smiled, closed her eyes, and promptly started snoring. Well, what could I do? I burst into tears.

I just couldn't take my eyes off her. The nurses took her over to a bed to get cleaned up and check her vitals, and I just sat and held B's hand and watched them. One of them asked me if I was the mom, but I could not speak, so I just nodded mutely, and they said, "Well get on over here and look at your baby!" B was snoring her head off, so I let go of her hand and went over to the little bed and there was Leah, perfect little Leah. I managed to ask if I could take some pictures and they said I could take as many as I wanted, and this was the first picture of her I took. They were giving her a little oxygen. The oxygen level in her blood was in the low 90's and if it dipped below 90, they'd have had to take her to the NICU, but after a couple of minutes of oxygen, her levels stabilized and she was fine and dandy.

Then they asked if I'd like to hold her. I managed to snuffle out that I needed to sit down first, I was standing on rubbery legs at this point! One of the nurses took the camera, I sat down and they handed me Leah for the first time.

They took her footprints, slapped some ID bracelets on her, and then it was time to leave. I walked out first to catch my breath--the mask was caked with tears and from my nose running and I was a total basket case. They wheeled Leah out a minute later and the nurse asked if we needed to go back to the room before we went to the nursery? I said, "My husband is in there, can he see her?" and they said, "Of course!" so we went to see Michael. He was waiting with a big grin on his face, despite not having slept, it was easy to see how excited he was! We walked in and I said, "Here she is!" and he jumped up and started to look at her.

If I thought I was moved before, it was nothing compared to how I felt when Michael saw her and held her for the first time. He was so tender and gentle and his first question was, "What was the official time?!" The nurse took the camera again and snapped the picture of the three of us together (what's awesome about that picture is the clock on the wall saying 4:20, which is our wedding anniversary!) and then it was time to go to the nursery, so I left Michael again temporarily and went up to the nursery to observe how Leah measured up. After another 30 minutes or so, I came back down and B was back, snoring her head off still, and Michael stood up, and I just grabbed him and we both started bawling. It was just the start of three days of tears, everything either one of us thought of was the cause of more tears.

We left B a note that we loved her and were going home to sleep for real and we'd be back. As a plucky bonus, the garage operators were off duty, so we got to leave without paying! We got home around 6:30 and only slept for about 4 hours before we were up and moving again and on our way back to the hospital. B was so happy to see us, but slept most of the day. Her sister was there, but also left after we arrived. The social worker called mid-day and said that she had spoken to B. and that B had said the only way she made it through was Susan keeping her calm, which really moved me! I started crying all over again. The doctors and nurses kept coming in all day to "see the adoptive parents"--we were something of superstars on the ward because they hadn't seen an open adoption actually work like that in the past and were all moved that we were all on such good terms, which also made me feel really good.

So that's how it went down on April 8, 2009--the best day ever!

Happiness Is...

...being home.

Friday, April 17, 2009

ICPC Approval

We just got the call from our attorney: We are approved to go home! We will wait till tonight when the traffic clears, and then we are going to Fredericksburg and not leaving :-) At least till Wednesday...

Give us a couple days to get settled and then you can come visit. SO EXCITED!

Pictures from Leah's Photo Shoot

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

We have a court date!

April 28th, we'll be going to court for the initial change in custody. Spoke with B. and she is ready to roll! We are looking forward to April 28th dawning bright and clear. Fingers crossed it all goes well!

She Smiles!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Long Night, Good Day

Last night was a verrrrry long night. Leah woke up at 1:30, and no matter what we did, she would not quit fussing. By 5:00, I thought I was going to lose my mind. Around 4:00, I gave up and came downstairs so I wouldn't wake up Tom or Michael, and when I went back upstairs around 5:30 when it seemed she was settling down, Michael had gotten nervous about what was going on and got up to try and reason with me about going downstairs and him not knowing what was happening, the gist of which seemed to be "She's so small, I got worried." For some reason, this struck me as absolutely hilarious (fatigue?), and I was laughing until I cried, and then I started crying for real. I was just so tired. Leah finally settled down around 6:00 and I got two hours of sleep.

We had to leave the house by 9:00 to get to her doctor's appointment in town today. I swore this would be the last time I was going into Baltimore, but if we don't get a court date soon, it looks like we will be going up there again for her next doctor's appointment next week.

We drove all over the stupid parking garage and every last spot was taken until we hit level 6 and then every spot was 'reserved for physicians' with the added bonus of 'compact cars only'. It was 10:00, which was appointment time, and I was like, "Screw it!" and parked our boat in a compact car/physicians only spot, granting myself a temporary M.D.

The people at the clinic could not have been nicer. We didn't know about her insurance status, because we can't add her to our insurance yet, but they had it well in hand. One phone call to B. to get her SSN and it was all done. The ladies were madly in love with Leah, and in fact, one lady thanked us for reminding her why she did her job! Wow, I was moved, so moved! It made the previous evening's activities fade.

The doctor was so nice. He was a good Polish doctor, and so when he told us that she needs to eat more, I said, "Well, she's being adopted into a good Polish family, she'll soon learn how to eat!" he laughed and asked us not to give her kielbasa and pierogi for at least 6 more months. Ha!

Leah is very, very healthy, she is off to a great start. She is still at 7 lbs. 7.8 oz, which is down from her birth weight, which he said was a bit normal, but after the first week, she should be back to her starting fighting weight, so he asked us to feed her a lot more. He asked if the hospital had told us to stick to a schedule, which we confirmed, and he stated that was a load of hogwash and we should feed her whenever she wants food. He said we adults eat for the wrong reasons (no kidding!) but babies only eat for the right reasons and if she's hungry, we should feed her.

We drove home and my dad was waiting to take us out to lunch. After we got back to the house, he told me I should get some sleep, so he sent me up to bed, which was very much appreciated. I got about 3 1/2 hours sleep this afternoon, which is great . It was my first nap since bringing her home--yesterday was supposed to be my nap day, but by the time we got done running around trying to get all the medical records in order (done!) and stopped in to see B. so Leah could meet her big sister, it was 5pm, time for Leah to meet Tom for the first time and then time for dinner. We've had company pretty much non-stop with the holiday, so there hasn't been a lot of time to catch up on rest. So it felt good that even though today was my one day to spend with my dad, he knew I needed some sleep and told me to get it. I will spend time with him this summer.

I captured a picture of Leah's beautiful smile this afternoon and when I'm back on our computer, I will post it. (I'm trying out Tom's iMac)

We still do not have any word on a court date. The courts are pretty busy, so we can't say that we're going to have one soon, although perhaps in the next 2-3 weeks. However, our application for the interstate compact went in yesterday, and should be improved within a week, in which case, we'll be legally allowed to travel home without going to court first. Keep your fingers crossed! As much as we've enjoyed the closeness of friends, are we ever ready to go home and get Leah to surroundings that will give us all the luxuries of home--including changing table, real crib, television (for mom!), and a freezer full of food :-)

Also, B. has given us permission to post pictures or talk about her on our blog. We have made the decision to wait until after the court case is done and it's all over in terms of revocation, etc. but stay tuned for a glimpse of this exceptional young woman.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Leah Came Home!

We got to leave the hospital with Leah today. We are back in Laurel. We have to return to Baltimore Tuesday for her first doctor's appointment, and then hopefully we will be done with that town! Honestly, I told Michael, if we get out of here without 4 flat tires, it'll be a miracle. The roads in B'more SUCK!

We've had a pretty uneventful first day home. She's got jaundice so we kept her in the sunlight for a while. Now we are hanging out at the computer and Michael is feeding her--she won't eat for me! He says this indicates she's daddy's girl. I have no doubt about it.

We'll see what tomorrow brings. She gets to meet her PopPop tomorrow!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Baby Leah, 1 Day Old

She is so precious. We've dubbed her "Cupcake" because we just want to eat her up. :-)

I just had to share this picture. As you can see, Cousin Dottie is not too happy about the interloper.

We have lots more pictures at

Today her name was placed on her birth certificate, so she is official Leah Katherine, and she will be able to come home with us to our friend Tom's house either tomorrow or Saturday, just in time for a visit from PopPop, who is buying her a pink Easter dress. :-)

Hopefully next week we will go to court and then we can go home!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Now We Are Three

Leah Katherine was born this morning at 3:56AM. She weighs 7 pounds 11 ounces and is 20 inches long. This is our first family photo. It was love at first sight.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Tuesday Dawns

Hi Everyone!

Not sure who might be reading this for regular updates, but it's Tuesday and no baby yet. We are going to the hospital this afternoon and we plan to make some noise. B. is so swollen that she can't even get shoes on at this point, and there is no excuse for this. We are concerned for her health as well as the baby's health. I'm not sure why they refuse to intervene--when my sister was expecting back in November and was quite healthy and doing fine, they were falling all over themselves to induce her, and eventually did with no provocation whatsoever. So today we will find out why this is not the case for B. I have my suspicions, but we're going to take care of it today.

So keep your eyes peeled!

If you use Twitter, you can follow me (katekosior) or my friend Lauren (lvitsa) for updates.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Day 2

We spent this afternoon with B and her family at her apartment. Nothing doing, although a lot of mucous released itself while we were sitting there, which is freaking her out. Her first pregnancy didn't extend this late in the game so she's not used to all the bodily changes.

Tomorrow she has a doctor's appointment at the hospital to see what's going on. We will attend that with her and then if it looks like nothing doing, we will probably return home for a couple days to wait it out.

On the upside, I might get to see the cherry blossoms after all!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

On our way!

Yesterday I was at work on a client visit when my cell rang. This is highly unusual! And even more unusual, it was my husband :-) He had checked our messages at home and it was B. calling to say that the doctors expect her water to break in 24-48 hours--she is having regular contractions and has dilated about 2cm. She suggested we needed to come on up!

So last night we did laundry and got our ducks in a row. We called our friend Tom, with whom we are staying during this extravaganza, alerted the attorneys, and this morning we headed up to Laurel. We called B. and she reported her contractions have continued and are getting stronger, but her water hasn't broken yet. We got to Tom's around 11 and I took a nap for 2 hours--I was tired I guess! But everyone is telling us to take naps while we can.

So we are just hanging out here. Tom gave us a tour of Laurel so that we could find grocery stores, Walmarts, etc. Just waiting for the call that it's time to go to the hospital! This is exciting!

If you are a Twitter user, please follow me (username katekosior) or my friend Lauren (username lvitsa) for updates from the hospital if I'm not able to post them from the laptop. (Not sure what the wireless situation is over there!)

Will post more as we get more action! I'm still hoping baby comes tomorrow!

Thursday, April 2, 2009


We are looking after our niece this evening and I just snapped this picture. Doesn't it make your heart melt? Leah's going to be a total daddy's girl.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Final Carpentry Projects Complete! (& Birthday Guesses?)

Our neighbor Aaron brought his contractor over this evening and they put up the two shelves on the wall in Leah's room that we had left. Since "Uncle Doug" put a bar and shelves in the closet this weekend, we can now say that all carpentry is COMPLETE! I just have to finish putting down carpet tiles in the closet, which I will get to this weekend.

The alphabet poster is also done and hanging, but I almost immediately realized that some of it is off-kilter, so I need to re-do a couple of letters. It was a fun project and went VERY quickly, so I'm pleased to say it was worth spending the 30 minutes to do it versus paying for it through the nose.

B.'s next doctor's appointment is tomorrow at the hospital. I meant to call her tonight but was babysitting, so I didn't have the chance. I'll be clinging to the phone tomorrow! I still have a good feeling about Sunday. Anyone else want to take a guess on Baby's birthday? We can start a friendly pool--no money, but the closest guess gets all the glory!