Monday, January 31, 2011

18 vs 24

I spoke with my new case worker, Andrea, and the Ethiopian team leader, Lisa, this morning about whether I should up my age range or not.

Lisa started by asking if I had talked about this with my family and friends, and what their thoughts were. "Everyone, with the exception of one person, says go for it -- raise it to 24 months."

The one person, Lesley, my best friend from Baltimore, said "don't compromise on what you want."

And Lisa focused on that. "This is a person who knows you better than most, right? If you raise your age, we want you to be in a place where you're not compromising, you need to be comfortable with the decision."

She told Andrea that before my adoption wait, the process to have a baby goes back three years, with 13 failed attempts. And that's when I was completely caught off guard with my emotions and started to cry. It was foreign to me because I haven't had a "baby cry" in so long, and yet it wasn't entirely unfamiliar. "You've been through a lot, and you're still going to mourn what you gave up. And figure out how you were able to stretch emotionally from giving up having a biological child to adopting."

It felt good to have someone acknowledge that of course it still hurts. I don't think people get that. Or they do and they just don't know what to say, so its easier to ignore. And I told her that the fact that I was giving up a biological child wasn't it. It was the chance to experience pregnancy, to carry the child, to hear the first cry, to be the first one to hold it -- and that was what started the real tears -- because I hadn't expressed that in so long.

So we talked about how I did make the jump from infant to one-year-old. And I guess it's because I accepted that I would miss some milestones, but that there would be so many more that I would be able to experience with a baby, even if it's not an infant. Possibly first steps, first words. Possibly, not guaranteed I know, but still possible.

And then I told her that I have a three-year-old in my life -- my nephew Andrew -- so I know what three looks like. And I know how absolutely yummy he is. But then I admitted that maybe he was even yummier a year ago.

And she said, "you've been in his life for the past three-and-a-half year, you know what it took to form him to where he is now. Can you accept not having that? Not having impact on those years? Now certainly, you'll have lots of way to impact and form and influence and be the mom...."

And I knew then, what I kind of knew going into the conversation, but needed to talk out. I've stretched myself already. I have whole-heartedly embraced adoption and can't wait to get my hands on my baby, but that's what I want -- a baby.

And so, I thanked them for the therapy session, ended my call, checked the mirror above my desk and took a deep breath. Zero to 18 months, it stays.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Cookie Monster

I bought an Africa-shaped cookie cutter a few weeks ago, and since then have made two different batches.

Fortunately for me, I like giving them away. No need to tempt myself with them in the house.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Wait Times Adjusted Again

I'm now looking at 18 to 24 months of waiting. So rather than being in the nine- to 14-month wait range, I've taken two steps back. I'm back to 10 to 16 months.

I'm due to send my immigration paperwork back in March to be renewed. That would be the time to make a change. I now have to reconsider my stance on waiting for a 0- to 18-month-old, and figure out if I'm wanting to up that request to 0-24 months, or even 0-36.

It's certainly nice to have the time to save money and get ready, but this is ridiculous.

I guess this is the reason I don't rush to read the weekly updates on the day they're released, although I could have done without this on a Sunday night.

On to watch football. I'll think about this decision another day.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

My New Project

It's too early to really start working on the nursery, but I really do need a project. So that project is me.

I have lost about 25 of the 43 pounds I gained while trying to get pregnant. Forty-three pounds -- mostly because of the hormones, but also the apathy, the emotional roller coaster, the needing to take it easy during each and every "two week wait," and then the lack of motivation after each and every negative test. It all added up to 43 pounds. Ugh!

I think I've lost enough now that my knees can handle running. And because I need a project, a goal, something to look forward to, I've got the 5K Brain Cancer Walk/Run in DC on May 1. And I'm hoping to be able to run most, if not all, of it.

Last year, we walked it in memory of my sister-in-law's sister.

And I said then, "I want to run it next year." I didn't really give that another thought until recently.

Monday I start training for the run. I actually ran a little this morning in my workout. The first minute....suuuuucked. And then I walked a few minutes.

By the second minute, it felt a little better. A few more minutes of recovery, and by my third minute, it felt really good. I'm excited to get into the gym on Monday after work.

I'll get to lose all the "baby" weight -- plus a little more -- by the time I get my baby home. One more upside to the adoption process.

And the bonus of this 5K? Last year, Tiffany and I got to meet American Idol David Cook. Not bad for getting up early on a Sunday morning.

Friday, January 21, 2011

It Takes a Village....

I received an email from a colleague the other day, and it put everything about the raffle, the fund-raising, into perspective for me.

I do believe in the proverb that it takes a village to raise a child...maybe because I had such a loving community when I was growing up. I admire your strength in reaching out to your community for support in your journey; I wish we could all be a little more open to each other. Thank you for being a role model.

And thank you, Erica, for such kind and supportive words.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Switching Saints

For the past three years, I wore a St. Gerard (left) medal on my necklace. Gerard, born in 1726 and canonized in 1904, is the patron saint of children (and unborn children in particular), childbirth, motherhood, and mothers (expectant mothers in particular).

Many in my world -- in the world of the Fertility Guru -- also pray to St. Gerard for fertility help, because all they want in the world is to be an expectant mother.

Even though the way I will become an expectant mother has changed -- and I guess in a way, I already am an expectant mother -- I have continued to wear Gerard.

And then, after a friend asked, I learned that St. Thomas More is the patron saint of adoption. As I posted in August, this kind of brought my journey full circle as I had prayed to St. Thomas More on the Christmas Eve I was newly pregnant. It was as if there was a little heavenly foreshadowing.

I mentioned this story -- of St. Thomas More being my church when I lived in Rochester, of Thomas More being beheaded and canonized with St. John Fisher, which was the college I attended, and of choosing to pray to Thomas More for these reasons for these reasons -- to friends in Baltimore last summer.

They remembered it and so for Christmas this year, I received a St. Thomas More medal for my necklace. After a little back and forth with the size of the actual medallion, I finally received the it today, and replaced Gerard with Thomas.

And so what to do with St. Gerard? I could keep him, in my jewelry box with other unworn items. Or I could pass him on.

Ultimately, I've decided to pass him on to the Fertility Guru. Many a nurse commented on necklace when I was receiving fertility treatment that St. Gerard was the patron saint of the FG. And I believed it too.

And for all the kindness he showed, for how genuinely he wanted me to get pregnant, and for all the good he does for other women that ultimately come out on the other side -- I just learned of another today -- St. Gerard needs to go to the FG.

And for all the reasons I mentioned above about my past connections with St. Thomas More (right), and most especially for my new connection -- of him being the patron saint of adoption -- I will wear him on my necklace each and every day.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The first update from Ethiopia

I am amazingly lucky that the internet exists and can bring me together with future and current adoptive moms. My friend Jennifer, who at some point this year I'll meet in person, is off on the first trip of two trips to bring her boys home.

I was so excited that she was able to post today (tomorrow?) about her first meeting with her boys. And this sentence says it all: "I am thrilled he is so happy to get a mama."

And it made me so happy. Certainly everything will not be sunshine and rainbows, especially when she brings him home, but what could be nicer than meeting your child for the first time, especially an older child (he's 4) and having him open his arms to you, since your heart has been waiting for him for so long.

I can't wait for the next Ethiopian update from her. And I really can't wait until she's home so I can hear all about it.

Monday, January 17, 2011


months of waiting. And my second favorite Sesame Street commercial.

I'm at the halfway mark on the short side of the estimate...8 to 14 months left to go.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Facebook Friends Challenge

I'm trying to figure out how to revive the raffle and fund-raising. It has hit a lull. It was a tough time of year. The holidays hit, I got sick, life got in the way. But it's a new year, so here we go.

I had dinner with Jill a few weeks ago and we brainstormed a few things.

The easy....

The chickens have started up with their egg production again. Even the teenagers, who last summer were just babies, have been laying beautiful blue-green eggs.

And even though we've sent emails at work about the raffle, there are still people who aren't aware. So I'll use this as an excuse of something that's not urgent and finally make the move from PageMaker to InDesign. It'll be a good practice project to make a flier for the building and for friends to hang around campus in their offices.

The not so easy....

Jill and I talked about creating a general appeal letter, a heart-felt appeal. And so I wrote a short recap of the three years of failed fertility and an update of the adoption process. I also included tickets with each letter. I asked them to buy a ticket, sell a ticket, spread the word, share my web address.

It was hard -- as Jill told me it would be -- to be that vulnerable, to ask for help. I started slow, close friends from college, former co-workers and friends who live in different states, my former boss.

Why is it hard to ask for help? Lots of reasons. It's hard to think you need help. I would much rather do things for others. It's hard to think you are as deserving as people fighting real diseases.

I have two close work friends that were diagnosed with breast cancer at a young age. Between the two of them I have attended a wine and cheese party where we were encouraged to shower one friend with gifts, made a meal for another friend's family (the week before one of my IVF retrievals), contributed to a fund to pay for one friend to have her house cleaned regularly, made phone calls, sent emails, and participated in other supportive activities. I know I shouldn't compare infertility to someone with cancer. First of all, we aren't likely to die from infertility (although it feels like it most days). And our treatments are arguably less arduous (we don't lose our hair, just our minds). But I can't help but think that it is unfair that most of us can't even get our Facebook "friends" to acknowledge our "infertility outings" on Facebook during Infertility Awareness Week.

-- From Bottoms Off and On the Table

And so this is my walk, my Facebook campaign.

One ticket. Five dollars. From each friend on Facebook. Some will buy the five-pack for $20, some with ignore it outright.

For all the Girl Scout cookies I've bought (even when I knew I shouldn't because I'd eat them all in one sitting), the wrapping paper, cookie dough, frozen pizzas, chocolate, 50/50 raffles....for all the walks I've sponsored, for MS, cancer of every ribbon color, ALS, hunger, hospice, AIDS -- I'm asking for my turn to be supported.

In my circle of friends, I know of nearly 20 people affected by infertility. I'm the only who didn't come out on the other side. This is my way of coming out on the other side.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Merry Christmas in Ethiopia

Christmas is a major holiday in Ethiopia where more than half of the population is Orthodox Christian. The celebrations occur today, on January 7, the Feast of the Epiphany, instead of December 25.

Ways to celebrate Ethiopian Christmas:

1. Make sure to set up a manger scene that includes the Three Magi. Legend has it that the king bearing frankincense was King Balthazar of Ethiopia.

When I was little, the mother of one of my friends would have the three Wise Men travel all over the living room until this day, when they finally reached the manger. I might have to do when the baby is home. Of course that means, I won't get to completely de-Christmas my house when I usually do.

2. Infuse the celebrations with the essential oil frankincense, which was traditionally a gift suitable for a high priest. Today you can mix frankincense with spices or seeds to create different aromas, or you can burn frankincense incense.

Perhaps my crafty self can create some sort of sachet.

3. Attend a local Christian Orthodox service if there are any nearby. Keep in mind that the services sometimes require that men and women sit in separate areas and that services can last up to three hours.

If I can sit through Easter vigil, I think I can handle this.

4. Sing carols and carry candles either during the service or afterward.

5. Prepare an Ethiopian feast for the Christmas meal that includes a main course, such as doro wat (a spicy chicken stew), injera bread (flat round bread) and homemade wine or beer. Keep in mind that injera bread is used to scoop and eat food, hence replacing utensils. The Christmas meal, which is served January 7, is preceded by major preparations that include the purchase and slaughter of an animal (typically a goat or cow).

There will be no slaughtering of the animal. Meat comes magically from Wegmans.

And of course, these celebrations will include Doreen and her boys (one from Ethiopia) and Chris and little Julianna. Any maybe we can Skype in with Jennifer and Big A and Little A.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Precious Moments, International Style

At some point when I lived in Rochester (during my 20s), my craft of choice was counted cross stitch. I bought a Precious Moments ABC pattern book, thinking that of course I would be married and have kids at some point in the next decade. I put it away to make while I was pregnant.

Towards the end of my 20s, I put Rochester in my rear view mirror and headed to Baltimore. Five years later, I headed back to central New York. The ABC pattern book, long forgotten, but packed with every move.

A year or so ago, I was cleaning out my craft box. No longer into counted cross stitch, I gave the book to my mother.

Last summer, she asked me if I wanted her to make it for the baby. I said, "yes, know all the children can't be Caucasian."

She looked at me for a second, and then realized, "oh of course."

And so I went to Michael's and looked at some pattern books with people of color, gave her the thread numbers. I got a weekly update of which letter she was up to. And then, Christmas morning, I opened up the blanket (she had given it to my brother when he was up at Thanksgiving).

The finished product....the United Nations of Precious Moments:

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year -- January Raffle

How could you not love this guy? The January drawing is for a signed Peyton Manning photograph, courtesy of the Peyback Foundation.