February 29, 2008

On the Eve of a Visit

We have our first post-placement visit with Ms B tomorrow afternoon. I am looking forward to showing her the agreeable baby Firefly is growing into. There is a strangeness is now being the Firefly expert when just a few weeks ago only Ms B knew her intimately. It is a reversal of roles: Ms B used to share stories of Firefly's in-womb activities, now we are the ones passing on information about her temperament and habits. (Like the amusing hiccups she gets every afternoon.)

My messages I'm sending into the internet ether for Ms B tonight:
  1. I hope you feel welcomed. Because you are very welcome here.
  2. I'm afraid of being so close to your sadness right now. Maybe not so much of the sadness itself, but that I'll say or do the wrong thing and make it worse. I so very much don't want to make it worse.
  3. I worry you won't like our house. I know that's not at all the focus of your time, but surely you're curious. Will you be bothered that we still haven't finished hanging pictures on all our walls? Or by the piles of mail by the phone? Will you like Firefly's room? I wish we had cleaned up more.
  4. I hope you'll see how dearly we love her.
  5. I hope it won't make you feel that we're replacing you.
  6. I hope you leave knowing how much she needs your presence in her life.

February 28, 2008

More Firefly


T, Puppy and I--along with Puppy's first mom--are guinea pigs in a study that is vaguely about the effects of nature and nurture in adopted children (I think we'll find out what it's really about when they publish the findings). We had a visit from the researchers on Saturday, and at one point T and I sat in front of a video camera for 20 minutes conversing off of generic prompts they provided. The first prompt asked, "Think back on the past week? Was it a regular week? How was it for you?" I think we laughed for five straight minutes. It was just such an absurd question under the circumstances. No, we always head out town, bring back a new family member, and have some of the best and worst moments of our lives all at once. Totally typical week for us!

Firefly is two weeks old tomorrow. It has been a good two weeks and certainly an intense two weeks. The overarching feeling for me is that she has somehow always been with us. I remember the same feeling when Puppy came home. I was prepared for life to feel topsy-turvy as we adjusted to parenthood, but instead it seemed as if we had been feeding and bathing and shushing a little one all along. The illusion didn't last, but it certainly created a nice bit of emotional respite during the initial weeks.

Puppy harbors no illusions that Firefly has always been here. It's true that he has been wonderfully sweet toward her. It is touching how gentle he tries to be with her, how he wants to show her off to visitors and make sure she's attended to when she cries. But it is an enormous transition for him to not be the only child and his feelings about that are seeping out in other ways. He's testing his boundaries with us pretty constantly, particularly with this screech that peels the paint off the walls. Underneath it all is a fairly clear plea for reassurance, so we've been trying to give him the extra love and attention he needs right now without jettisoning our basic behavioral expectations of him. Honestly, helping him through this has been more tiring than anything Firefly has required of us.

We've mostly been hermits since Firefly came home. I was ready to be more adventurous this week, but by Monday I was sicker than I've been in years and I'm sort of still recovering. (Knock on wood, Firefly seems to have escaped the stomach bug that the rest of us got. They tell you to keep newborns away from sickies, but what to do when the sickies are inside the house?) But, no more hermiting! Today Firefly makes her debut into society at playgroup. I need to see some friends and Puppy needs to stick as close to his regular routine as possible. And the world needs to see Firefly's cute face.

February 26, 2008

Firefly's Blanket

We have a polka-dotted receiving blanket that Ms B slept with during the final days of her pregnancy so that it would smell like her. Sometimes when Firefly is crying (and sometimes when she is not) we wrap her up in it and hold her close. It's one of those things we figure can't hurt and just might help.

It's likely lost B's smell by now and probably should be thrown in the wash, but I can't quite bring myself to do it.

February 25, 2008


yucky stomach bug
is sweeping through the household
most recent victim: me

February 21, 2008

Introducing Firefly

Take a Peek

Pictures are up at the not-so-secret blog.

You know the drill: email me at heather[dot]pnr[at]gmail[dot]com if you need an invite. Don't be shy; I haven't turned down a request yet. (I really wish Blogger would come up with a password-protected post feature.)

February 19, 2008

We're Home

And she is with us. Sleeping on my chest while I type. We arrived home yesterday evening. Leaving with the baby wasn't any easier this second time.

Yesterday morning Ms B looked at me over her baby's wee head and said through tears, "I never knew you could love someone so much." If only those who dismiss all first parents' emotions could have been flies on the wall. She has some good people standing with her during this difficult transition, but I know she would appreciate your prayers.

I have been so grateful for your comments and simply for the knowledge that you are marking this event with us. There is comfort in sharing this time with people who I know understand that adoption is about ands: this emotion and that one and this other one. The happiness and sadness do not diminish one another, but exist alongside.

Last night at the dinner table I looked at the wee girl in my lap and at the two-year old boy who has brought such joy to our lives, and I marveled that we have the chance to do this all over again. Her first name is derived from the Latin for "light" and she brightens up any room she is in. She is our little Firefly.

More substantive thoughts and pictures (which I know are what you're really after) coming soon.

February 16, 2008

It's a Girl

Baby B was born late Friday night by C-section after a long, frustrating and ultimately unproductive labor. She has a head full of dark curls and a champion sucking reflex. She looks like a baby version of Ms B; she's lovely.

T would like you to know she scored a 9 on her Apgars, because he's competitive like that.

Mama B is recovering slowly. Thank you so much for the good wishes left on her behalf. It's been a rough couple of days. She is looking forward to some quality snuggling and feeding time once she emerges from her post-delivery fog.

T and I are sleepy and happy. We're enjoying the hospitality of another adoptive family at our agency who opens their home to folks who come through town for this sort of thing. The hospital staff have been incredibly respectful both of Ms B's place as mama and our presence as potential adoptive parents. I can tell that we are guarding our hearts, as they say, to a certain degree but are ready to fall in love.

February 14, 2008

Actual News

Ms B phoned to say she is being induced this evening. We laughed that it will be one of her more unique Valentine's Days. She asked us to come join her tomorrow morning, and so we are.

This is really, finally happening. Oh, my.


I have never been big on Valentine's Day--not the principle of it, but the practice. Puppy and I made Valentines that were mailed far and wide, and we'll share a family holiday meal together tonight. But overall I tire of the emphasis on material expressions of affection and the insane focus on romantic love to the exclusion of all other forms. My husband is a high school teacher and it is perhaps the most highly anticipated day among his students, aside from the last day of school. That saddens me on many levels. It's a day when the insiders and outsiders in the teenage dating game are made clear. Students (girls and boys) lucky enough to be dating someone flaunt their balloons and bears and flowers all day. There used to be a rule about leaving gifts in the school office, but they would run out of room before lunch.

As he does each year, today T will get on his soapbox for minute in his classes. He will remind his students that love isn't just about having a boyfriend or a girlfriend, but about all the people we choose to include in our life. He will say he wants them to know they are special and loved and not forgotten on this day. Then he'll pass out some candy and those class Valentines you buy $3 for 30 at Target. If it is like every year prior, the teenagers will get as excited over those cheap cards as they did in elementary school. And at least one student will come up to tell him how much it meant to be noticed on a day when they felt so invisible.

This is why I fell in love with my husband. Not just because of his romantic gestures or the way he makes me believe I'm the most amazing person he's ever met (although I appreciate those things). But because he understands that love opens its arms wide to gather in as many as it can, as often as it can.

Happy Valentine's Day to every one of you. May your day be filled with true love.

February 13, 2008

Mi Casa

Life continues as normal here. Except for the fact that I'm no longer phoning anyone because I'm tired of hearing, "Is there news? Is she born? Are you calling because the baby is here?" before I'm even finished saying, "Hi, it's Heather."

In the absence of anything substantive to say, I'm turning to the house meme, which I've found oddly entertaining on other blogs.

When you walk in your front door, which room do you enter?
Our front door opens into a small entry hall with red walls. To the right is the living room, to the left a set of stairs. Straight ahead you see the sliding glass doors which open from the kitchen onto the deck. I've heard tell it's bad feng shui to have the back door lined up with the front like that. But I enjoy seeing the green outside even as I'm stepping indoors.

Do you have a dishwasher?
Yes. I love it so.

Is your living room carpeted or does it have hardwood floors?
Carpeted. As is the dining room. The genius who did that one clearly never shared a meal with a two-year old.

Do you keep your kitchen knives on the counter or in a drawer?
On the counter in a wood block. Deep down I worry someone will break into our house in the middle of the night, grab a knife out of the block and kill us. I don't know why I don't think they would find them if they were in a drawer. Or bring their own knife.

House, apartment, duplex or trailer?

How many bedrooms is it?
Four, although one we use as an office and one is occupant-less (hopefully only for a few more days).

Gas stove or electric?

Do you have a yard?
Yes, a sort of wide but not deep one with a large deck. We're clueless when it comes to taking care of it. Renting for umpteen years will do that to you.

What size TV is in the living room?
I have no idea. Not huge, but big enough. It was a hand-me-down from my parents. And it's not in the living room, but in the family room downstairs.

Are your plates in the same cupboard as your cups?
The wine glasses share a cabinet with the plates. Drinking glasses and coffee mugs are in a cabinet kitty-corner. We have an absurd number of drinking vessels.

Is there a coffee maker sitting on your kitchen counter?
Yes. T didn't make coffee this morning, so it's cold and lonely. I'm drinking tea instead, as I'm too lazy to make coffee for myself.

What room is your computer in?
Usually the bedroom (it's a laptop).

Are there pictures hanging in your living room?
Yes, several. Each one is connected to a place we've visited or lived. They make me happy.

Are there any themes found in your home?
Not really. The eclecticism of two people who don't have much of an interior design sense?

What kind of laundry detergent do you use?
The high-efficiency fragrance-free liquid stuff from Costco. (And we don't even have a membership there.) Planet powdered detergent for the diapers.

Do you use dryer sheets?
Yes. I thought everyone did?

Curtains in your home?
There are blinds that came with the house on all but one or two of the windows. We're working on curtains.

What color is your fridge?

Is your house clean?
Not unless someone is coming over. I wish it were. It's not dirty. We just can't seem to keep it uncluttered for more than a day or two. Some areas fare better than others.

What room is the most neglected?
Probably the office. And then our bedroom. They're embarrassing.

Are the dishes in your sink/dishwasher clean or dirty?
Dirty. Why would they still be in the dishwasher if they were clean?

How long have you lived in your home?
Just over one year.

Where did you live before?
Under a shady Jacaranda tree in a tiny back house in Los Angeles.

Technically, right before moving here we lived with my parents for four months in my childhood home. But let's not talk about that. (We were all very lovey and civil to one another during, then after we moved out we all admitted we'd never, ever do that again. Except Puppy. He considers it his second home.)

Do you have one of those fluffy toilet lid covers on your toilet?

Hell, no. (No offense to your fluffy cover, of course. I'm sure it's just right for your bathroom.)

Do you have a scale anywhere in your house?

In the master bathroom.

How many mirrors are in your house?
Hm, let's see. One in the main bathroom, two in the master bath. An antique brass one in the entryway. A full-length mirror on the back of our bedroom door from the previous owners. So: five. There is also one in the garage I've been meaning to hang in our bedroom for months. Which will mean four out of six household mirrors are in our bedroom. I may need to reflect (ha, get it?) some on my apparent vanity issues.

Look up. What do you see?
Nasty, nasty popcorn ceiling crap. It's not as bad as some I've seen, but I hate it. Also a ceiling fan.

Do you have a garage?
Yes. We're working hard to sell a refrigerator so we can finally park one of the cars in the garage.

February 08, 2008

Deserving That Baby

ETA: If you're landing on this post from a Google search for "Juno storyline," there is a fairly detailed plot summary here.

I love love love Jennifer Garner from her ass-kicking Alias days. I would watch an entire movie about nothing but Jennifer Garner and Victor Garber planting tulip bulbs together. So I was happy to see an Oscar plug for her in the current issue of Entert@inment Weekly (page 45, for those of you reading along at home):

But that last sentence wilted my enthusiasm a bit. "She definitely deserved that baby..." It captures in a few words much of what makes me uneasy about Juno: its affirmation of domestic adoption as a transfer from the undeserving to the deserving. The storyline is designed to appeal to our sense of what is right and fair. Vanessa (Garner's character) desperately wanted to mother; Juno did not. Vanessa paid steep emotional and financial costs in her attempts to become a parent; Juno conceived without even meaning to. Vanessa "practically glowed with maternal warmth and longing;" Juno was detached and decidedly non-maternal. In the logic of the story, then, Vanessa deserves the baby and Juno does not. Therefore, Juno did the "right thing" by following through on her adoption plan. (What the baby deserves is kind of left out of the equation.)

I understand why we say to one another that certain people deserve to be parents. Infertility is absurdly unfair. Most of us know--or have ourselves been--wonderful people who were prevented from bearing a child for no reason that makes any sort of cosmic sense. Sometimes the people most capable, most desirous of parenthood just can't achieve it on their own. It's shitty even without infertility treatments, and years of disappointing procedures just make it that much worse. Without picking apart the definition of "deserve," it seems to me that when we say that those people deserve a baby, we're acknowledging the arbitrary nature of it all. We're saying that no one should have to go through all of that heartache to experience something as universal as parenthood.

But when we venture into the world of adoption, I'd argue that it's best to leave talk of "deserving" anything behind. Because you're no longer talking about successfully creating a child, but being entrusted with an existent child. It's too easy after a match to shift from the idea of deserving to be parents into deserving a certain baby. But if I start to talk about deserving someone else's child, especially a specific someone else's child, I am in a dangerous place. One in which I might make choices I regret.

I'm not claiming to be some saint who has never felt these things. I've broken down in bitter sobs over a sister-in-law's accidental pregnancy, simmered in indignant frustration when one of T's students cavalierly fathered three children in one year. There were even moments I struggled with K's pregnancy. But I think envy--like grief and anger--is one of those feelings you've got to work your way through before it blows up in your face. We're going to feel what we feel, but we shouldn't always act on it. And too often adoptive parents' sense of deserving a baby leads us to reduce expectant parents who are making adoption plans into certain roles. In our tidy categories, they don't deserve their babies that we've waited for and wanted for so long. Then those who end up setting adoption plans aside in favor of parenting get demonized.

I think all sides of the triad deserve to be treated compassionately and respectfully. Baby B deserves a family who will love her well, but it doesn't have to be us. Ms B doesn't owe us anything except honesty. Maybe Puppy deserves to be a big brother someday, maybe T and I deserve a second child--but we don't deserve that baby, we don't deserve her baby.

February 05, 2008

Checking In

I've gotten some sweet notes from people who've noticed my absence the past several days. Half of you think Baby B is secretly here and the other half are worried I'm falling apart. The truth is much less exciting, I'm afraid. Puppy is recovering from a bad bout of croup. I'm engulfed in a wave of sentimentalism over these final days of being a family of three. Both have kept me away from the computer and attached to my baby boy.

Ms B called yesterday. She is understandably ready to be done with this whole pregnancy thing and finally meet her daughter. Her doctor predicted she'll go into labor between February 1 and 15. He's a gambler, that one.

T thinks she will be born Thursday. I think it will be Valentine's Day. Care to make a prediction?
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