Monday, December 31, 2012

Bring it On

I spent part of this afternoon re-reading the blog from this past year. It seems like some of the stuff I've been through was much longer ago than 11months, but here I am about to welcome 2013.

I'm a different person than I was on January 1, 2012. And even more than that, a different person than  I was on February 1, 2012.

Who would have thought I wouldn't be at Ithaca College anymore? Or even living in New York? I'm healthier - mentally and physically (although at this very moment my sinuses are inflamed and I can't breathe). I'm five pounds within pre-baby weight. And I've resolved the baby issue and more importantly, am at peace with it.

And so my goals and resolutions for 2013, borrowed from a friend's Facebook post:

* I will run a 5K. I've done many and in some cases, ran most of it. But I've never run the full 3.1. This year, I will.

* I will my hit goal weight (15 pounds past pre-baby weight) by June 1.

* I will learn to maintain by the end of the year (because losing it is only half the battle).

* I will do my damnedest to run/walk 1,000 miles. That's going to be tough. I was about five miles short of merely 500 miles for 2012. But that's taking into account that I had stopped running, that I was dealing with a new job, a move, wrapping up the old job, plus all the misadventures that January brought. So we'll shoot for 1,000 and see how close I get.

* and what I wouldn't be able to do if I was still in a house.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Just Call Me LeBron

I don't know if I'm supposed to make some grand announcement. I certainly won't be going on ESPN for an hour-long special. But I have made my decision. (For those of you who don't follow sports or have any clue as to what I'm referencing, here's the background.)

Nearly six years ago, I called my brothers and sisters and told them, "I'm starting the process to get pregnant!" I told my closest friends, far and near. And I started shopping.

Three years later, I "came out" as a prospective adoptive parent.

After the Takesha nightmare, I took a break. I said I needed a year. But even then, even when I said I needed a year, I think I knew. I think I was letting it sink in for everyone else.

I've done all I can. I've done more than most would have. People tell me that, and in the moment I waved them off, but now....I realize it. I have done more the most.

When a blogger friend -- also single -- was going through the last stages of getting her daughter, she was telling me about the "courtship" with the birth mother. The back and forth, the worrying about saying the wrong thing that might offend, that might make this person change her mind.

I may have been 90% sure leading up to that moment, but in reading that email, in feeling that feeling in the pit of my stomach, I knew. It's not that I can't do this, it's that I no longer want to go through all those fucking hoops.

I don't want to have the second phone line. And the business cards. And the website. And do the advertising. And have the conversations with the attorney. And have the conversations with the birth mother, and worry about every. single. word. I say. Will she like me? Will she think I'm worthy?

And beyond that, I don't see myself as single mother to an infant at 43. When I started this process, way back when, the goal was to be a mom by 38. Certainly before 40, not three years into my 40s.

Over the summer, before my move, I gave almost all of my baby stuff to my friends Molly and Jill, who were both due in June.

They ended up having their babies on the day I left Ithaca (Laila, in my right arm) and four days later, on my second day at my new job (Emily, in my left arm).

And when all of that stuff was out of my house, I was left with one Rubbermaid bin. And that night I slept great.

There was some closure.

Last month, when I pulled my Christmas stuff out of the storage closet, I saw the baby bin. I asked Molly when I saw her a few days later, what should I do with the quilt that I made? And the blanket that my mother made?

I've come to decide that they will go to my next niece's to have their first babies. I'll just hold onto them. But everything else in the bin? What to do with it all?

When I left Ithaca College, I gave "gifts" to people I worked with. It was sort of a tradition there. The knick-knacks that accumulate in your office go to other people. And I was thoughtful in who I gave things to. Peter got my candy dish because he always came into my office, would take a piece of hard candy, put four pieces in his pocket and then take another before leaving. Tina got my Staples "easy" button because as an amazing administrative assistant and friend, she made things easier. And on and on...

And so I pulled the bin in and took everything out. Some may find what I'm doing heart-breaking, but as I wrote to one friend, I'm finding joy in the process of thinking about who gets what. And so one friend who lives in Baltimore and just adopted a little girl from Ethiopia is getting the "my first O's cap" baseball hat and my Princess Tiana Hallmark ornament. Another single mom with one child is getting my Hallmark ornaments that are of a momma and baby snowman (not daddy, just a momma).

There are still a lot -- A LOT -- of Yankees onesies in all sizes, but I think a dent has been made.

And not quite as sad as the Ernest Hemingway story. He once won a bet by crafting a six-word short story that can make people cry.

And so I'm done. No more baby momma drama. No more advertising. No more buying things, which I admit is a hard habit to break.

I find myself in Target or Kohls and see things on the clearance rack and for a brief moment, think I should get it. And then walk away.

And I can still be a mom someday.

Wanted: professional, handsome, kind and funny man, sports fan a must, preferably a widower with two small children.

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Power of the iPad

My niece Tiffany got married two weekends ago. The entire family was descending on the greater Richmond area -- from as far away as Alaska. It would be the first time my brothers and sisters, eight of us in all, would be together since my parents' 50th anniversary in 2005.

Some were flying or driving in on Thursday, the rest of us were to arrive on Friday. That was the plan at least.

On Wednesday, I got a text from my oldest niece: "Andrew has been throwing up since 1am. I'm so afraid we won't be able to go."

It was touch and go. I checked on my great-nephew throughout the day. It seemed to be a 12-hour bug. Rather than leave on Thursday from north of Syracuse and split the trip up, they decided to give him one more night's sleep in his bed and drive straight through on Friday.

I started my trek on Friday morning, with a brief stop in Baltimore to visit former co-workers. Halfway to Baltimore, I called Jenny's cell to see where they were. "Still in Central Square. Ryan's been throwing up all night."

And then the tears -- from both of us. And the inevitable realization that they would have to miss Tiffany's wedding.

I stopped in Baltimore, pulled out my iPad and checked flights from Syracuse to Richmond. On my way to Richmond, I talked to Jenny again. "Fly down tonight. I'll pay for your ticket."

I knew it was a long shot. She didn't want to leave her sick kids. I talked to her a couple times throughout the day. And as each new sibling arrived at the hotel, more tears, a few "doesn't it suck." And then sometime Friday night, I realized that Jenny could be at the wedding.

I texted her. "Is your Skype hooked up?"

At 1:30, Saturday afternoon, a half hour before the wedding, I was wandering in the empty church with my iPad, hoping my 3G would work within the walls of the brick building. It worked. I "walked" Jenny and the boys around the church so she could see all of her aunts and uncles, cousins and grandparents.

"I'll call you in 30 minutes."

Thirty minutes later, my beautiful niece, all grown up, walked down the aisle and waved hello to my niece and great-nephews 500 miles away.

I watched Jenny and the boys watching the wedding. We cried at the same time, and I smiled as I watched -- but couldn't hear -- Jenny explain things to the boys as they were happening throughout the ceremony.

And then when the priest said, "let us pray," Ryan and Andrew went in praying mantis mode. Sometime during the prayer, Ryan's arms must have gotten tired and he put his right hand to his heart, like he was saying the Pledge of Allegiance.

Another wave from the bride, going back down the aisle

The first dance (and crying one more time as we were missing Jenny and the boys)

It wasn't the ideal situation, but in a pinch, it worked.

Thank you Apple, thank you Skype -- for bringing my family together, in all one place, for this very important, once-in-a-lifetime event.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Many Phases of My Moon Face

One of the worst side effects of the past five years of my life -- besides the obvious -- is what it did to my body.

The fertility treatment, along with the roller coaster of emotions, caused me to gain 43 pounds. And then, even once I was off the drugs, I was still on that roller coaster. I had no motivation, I was so focused on this other little being I wanted in my life, that was all I could concentrate on.

Sure I still went to the gym, and half-heartedly counted points, but I knew I wasn't in it for the long haul. I lost the first 20 pounds as the drugs left  my system. And then, I lost and gained and lost and gained the same 10 pounds. The last 23 of "baby" weight was hanging on for all its worth.

And with each loss and gain, my face became as round and full as the moon.

Case in point, me on my 40th birthday. Fertility treatment done for about two months, paperwork for Ethiopia was almost complete and a whole new sort of waiting and wondering and torture was about to begin.

Sometimes I would get motivated. I ran a couple 5Ks in the past few years, but I was never where I wanted to be, never felt as healthy as I had before I started shooting all those drugs into my system

And then I was offered my new job. Any diet and exercise plan went out the window, because I had to find a place to live, I had to pack, I had to finalize things at my old job, started preparing for my new job, and there were endless lunches and dinners and happy hours as I embarked on what was truly the "farewell to Ithaca" tour.

And so by the time I was ready to leave NY for PA, a whole new phase of the moon was appearing on my face.

I tried when I got here to get things in check. I've done this before. I know what to do. But my entire life was upside down, and so I joined a gym where I had to make appointments with a trainer. There was accountability. There was no not feeling like going. I had pre-paid for the next year. Three times a week, I go and lift weights for a half hour. And then do cardio for a half hour. And they push me. And I love it. My body is remembering this feeling of working out, of being tired when I go to bed, not because my brain is mush from work (which is usually is) but because I actually worked my body as hard as my mind.

I gained 10 pounds between finding out about my new job (in early May) and the day I joined the gym (early August). In two months, I've *almost* stopped drinking diet Pepsi. I treat myself to one or two a week, and whereas before when I was drinking one a day, I wasn't really tasting it. Now, I enjoy every single sip. I eat high protein and good carb.

About two weeks ago, I hit 10 pounds. All my "new job" weight was gone. And this morning, I hit 14 pounds -- making a definite dent in the "baby" weight. My moon face is gone and I'm actually starting to get a dimple in my cheeks. good.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Case for Skipping Church

I went to church last week for the first time in months, probably the first time since New Jersey. And it will be a place I will not be going back to for a while.

While I sat there, my mind wandered to the last time I was in church. To every week that I was in church over the last five years. I thought about how I prayed. And how praying became wishing, and wishing became hoping, and hoping became begging, and begging became pleading, and pleading became making ridiculous deals to sell my soul.

And the bitter barren woman inside of me came out. And I was miserable and couldn't wait for the 45 minutes to be over. And my mood carried over several days, and only ended with a trip to McDonald's for a Happy Meal, under a blanket, in cold, rainy, dreary weather.

The next day the sun was out. I had had some greasy food and was good for a while.

As Lesley says, like any good relationship, sometimes you need a break.

And I need a break. And so when fall kicks in, as is my usual time to become a good, Catholic girl and regular church goer, this year I will not be heading back to church.

I think the big guy will understand.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Summer's Over

I love my job, but I'm feeling completely over-whelmed right now. I want the day to go by without anyone calling me, emailing me, or needing me. I had one day like that and I got sooo much accomplished. Unfortunately, it was a Saturday, and I ended up being in the office for five hours.

I love my friends. And their kids, but I'm done with Facebook for the week. Done with the pictures of everyone's child going back to school, holding up signs as to what grade their in, waiting for the bus. Over reading my friends lament about how quickly their children are growing up and how it is possible that little Hoosey is in the 5th grade.

And so summer's over, and with the beginning of fall, I got a case of the crankies.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Going Back Home, Babies, and the Last Box

I headed home to Ithaca this weekend, to meet Laila and Emily -- babies born four days apart to two of my dearest friends. These lucky girls were the recipients of all the baby stuff in my house before I packed and moved.

It was a whirl-wind weekend of holding babies and having them sleep in my arms, going out for drinks with former work friends, getting frozen yogurt in a Porsche, and celebrating Hope's birthday in exactly the way we would have if I still lived there -- Hope, Heather and me at Viva.

Saturday afternoon with Emily...

 the yumminess that is the "pancake" shot -- Jameson's and Butterscotch Schnapps, followed by a shot of orange juice. De-lish!

...and Monday morning with Laila.

At Emily's "welcome to the world" party on Sunday, her grandmother hugged me tight and said, "you'll have this too someday." And right then, I knew. "No I won't." And I won't. I said I wouldn't make a final decision for a year -- and I won't -- but I think I know in my heart, that I don't want to be a 43-year-old single mother to an infant.

It hurt to say good-bye to Emily, and hurt to stay there and continue to stare at her beautiful face. And when Jill's cousin hugged me and said, "this must have been such a hard day for you," it was nice to have someone acknowledge that it was. I hadn't thought about it being hard, but it was.

And so I got out of there, and took a shower back at the hotel, and washed the day away, and waited for a friend to come visit me. We went for a ride in his Porsche and got frozen Greek yogurt with Reese's Pieces and rainbow sprinkles on top.

And when I went to see Laila the next day, there was much less hoopla, much less "all about the baby" talk, and it was very enjoyable, even as I put her in the sleeper rocker that I had bought for New Jersey.

In a lot of ways the weekend was too short -- I didn't get to see everyone. And it was too long -- I'll just leave it at that.

Today, on my bonus day off in PA, I finished unpacking. Finally. I didn't think I would need my over-the-toilet shelf I had in Ithaca, but with a two-bedroom apartment, one does not get the storage space of a two-bedroom townhouse, and so my former neighbor got it out of my place in Ithaca and I picked it up this weekend. My bathroom is "my bathroom" again. 

And I was stretched to the limit with my organizational skills, but once again, came out ahead. The closet doors in the second bedroom close, there is a space big enough to buy a full-sized futon for guests (though I had hoped for an actual queen-sized bed), and all the boxes are unpacked. The very last box, which I will use to send a proper baby gift to my friend Kim in Georgia.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy birthday, America.

I spent the day doing very American things -- I worked out this morning (more on that later), laid in the sun and took a dip in the pool (my new favorite thing to do on days off), shopped at Target, made peanut butter and jelly for lunch, watched the Yankees on the MLB Network, and took a nap.

I've really been enjoying the pool at my new complex. I'm using SPF 30-50 and limited myself to 90-120 minutes a day. Slow and steady, I might actually get a tan this summer. Either that or my freckles will just join together to give the appearance of a tan.

I started Jillian Michaels Body Revolution on Sunday. It is kicking my ass. It's kind of like P90X, but I'm guessing not quite as intense. Although, I will say that after the first two workouts, my inner thighs were sore. We'll see where things are in 90 days.

The apartment is slowly shaping up. And I bought a bird feeder for Casey today. I'm hoping that a little more nature activity on the patio will lift her spirits. It's tough moving when you're 16, and I'm not quite sure she's loving the new homestead.

I'm looking forward to weekend visitors this month and next -- some girlfriends coming to visit and we can really do up Doylestown.

Work is going great. I'm busy, and energized, and already feel like I'm making a difference. This week, I published my first blog post about the work my office is doing.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Well, Hello There

Hi....remember me? I know I've been a bad blogger of late. I will try to summarize that last month of craziness.

May 6 -- ran a 5K in DC, drover to Doylestown that night, sweaty and smelly. This is an important date because it was pretty much the last time I had a "Laurie-style" workout
May 7 -- clean and showered, met with the president one more time. As I was driving home, got the call with the job offer.
May 8 -- gave my notice at IC, did not go over well
May 9 -- formally accepted the position after some slight negotiations
May 10 -- told the staff I was leaving

From that point, it was starting to pack, starting to purge, finding a place to live long-distance. The baby's room was the toughest. Jill came over and went through a bunch of stuff. Some things I held onto, others I left her choose if she wanted it or we put it in the Molly pile. And some stuff, I specifically wanted her baby to have from me. Two nights later, Molly came over and got the rest of the stuff and about 40-50 packs of diapers and wipes. And I will tell you that that night was the best night's sleep I had gotten in a long time.

It didn't last, because just as quickly as there was baby closure (for now), there were spinning thoughts about wrapping up projects, being included on emails at the new job and trying to figure it all out. My farewell to Ithaca tour started about two weeks after I gave my notice, two weeks before my last day.

There were lunches. There were dinners. There were drinks. Memorial Day weekend, I pretty much packed all I could pack and still live in my house for another two weeks.

It was sad to say good-bye to people, and in most cases, I didn't. I'm going back in a couple weeks to meet the babies that were born after I left. And so I didn't say good-bye, just farewell.

A few highlights of my farewell party on campus, and the farewell tour:

Me in my party dress for my party day

I couldn't have asked for better teams -- the MCMs (top) and Sports Information. 
They, along with a few others, made it very very hard to leave.

My awesome co-directors being photo-bombed. 

Hope and Heather 
(and Tina in the background, annoyed that someone snapped a photo of her)

How awesome is this cake! Baseball on top, my new athletic logo on the second layer and the newly implemented logo at IC, with a mini-me made of Rice Krispies and fondant.

With Jen, the proprietress of Ithacake, the amazingly awesome cake lady who made the above cake. Not only with love, not only with sentiment, but yummy too.

With Claudia, who doesn't believe in willy-nilly hugging, only when appropriate. Moving away falls into that "life changing event" where hugging is appropriate.

Next up: Life in PA, and fitting a two-bedroom townhouse into a two-bedroom apartment

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Not giving up.....just moving forward

As I'm getting close to five years on this journey to be somebody's mom, I've been trying to grasp the difference between giving up, moving on and accepting.

Five years ago, I thought that trying to have a baby on my own meant giving up on finding my "person." What I've come to realize over these years is that I already have a "person" -- and my person comes in the form of many people. Lesley. Jill. Kris. Jenny.

Not exactly what I had in mind when I thought about that one person -- but I am so lucky and grateful that I don't get just one person.

Through my baby track -- whether IF or adoption -- they have been supportive, caring cheerleaders. And then things shifted. Door after door closed. And then finally a window opened.

I peaked through half-heartedly, and then finally all in. In February, when I was still getting through my Takisha turmoil, a friend and former colleague told me about a job opening at his college. I applied at the time because that was the only way I could change my mind. If I didn't want it, I could say no thanks. But if I didn't apply and I did want it, it would be too late.

And with each step along the way -- phone interview, on-campus interview, follow-up phone calls and emails, follow-up on-campus interview -- I got more and more excited. 

While it's scary, it's also exciting. After eight years, I'm leaving Ithaca for Doylestown, PA. After three years of IF and 13 fertility treatments, after 24 months on the ETH wait list, after 12 months with my domestic adoption attorney, I'm moving on.

Not giving up.

I'm going to focus on my new job. My new life. I'm going to take tennis lessons. I'm going to paint pottery. I'm going to rebrand an amazing little college in a beautiful part of Pennsylvania. I'm going to force myself to eat out by myself and talk to people. And being only 40 minutes from Phillly, I'm going to baseball games.

We'll see where I am in six months. Nine months. Twelve months.

I get a do-over. I get a fresh start. Right now that excitement is over-riding any sadness for leaving my home of the last eight years, my campus family, my circle of friends.

The nervousness I feel over my new job -- that awesome combination of oh-so-excited and terror that makes you know your heart is still beating -- is over-riding any trepidation I have about packing up or giving away the baby stuff.

Anything I bought in the last year has gone to my expectant friend, to a garage sale, to Craigslist.

The things I've been buying and holding onto all these years, including the Derek Jeter t-shirt I bought in 1998, will stay with me. Packed away and hopefully to be pulled out someday.

I've done all I can to make my dream come true. And in that time, I've lived in limbo. No long-range plans because I might be pregnant, I might have to go to Africa, I might have a baby.

Now I get to make a new dream, a new life. I get to not worry about pinching pennies because I need to save for the adoption. I can plan a vacation/trip -- and not just driving to Richmond to visit my brother and his family. I can buy a house.

I'm going to work my ass off the next six to 12 months getting acclimated to my new job and all I have to accomplish, but I'll be in charge. I won't be at the mercy of my uterus, the Ethiopian government or some crazy bitch in New Jersey.

Here's to my new life, one step at a time.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Baby Steps

All I have to do is take one baby step at a time, and I can do anything.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Happy Opening Day!

I had a whirlwind trip to Baltimore, there for less than 48 hours. I did a little shopping, saw some of my favorite people, and oh yea, went to a baseball game!

With my BFF Lesley and my former "work husband" Johnnie Z. Do me a favor and watch this trailer for the sports documentary made by Barry Levinson -- it's all about John. Or the trailer for "Being Elmo," (right at the :30 mark) -- yup John Ziemann again. Johnnie Z is amazing, and I am so luck to have him in my life.

Yes, I'm smoking a cigar. It's an Opening Day tradition and one I was happy to pick up again, my first Opening Day since 2004.
Look at how perfectly green the grass is, how perfectly blue the sky is. It was such a great day for baseball!

I was hoping for a Matt Wieters t-shirt, but I was pretty happy with my retro, distressed cartoon bird.

When I first moved to Baltimore and saw a t-shirt with this fellow on it, I thought he was the "Mr. Pringle Guy." I was quickly corrected that he is Natty Boh, as in National Bohemian beer. I never made that mistake again.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Another Update

Guess who is not moving forward with an adoption plan? Guess who says now that she has had him home for over a month, she cannot give him up?

Exactly. I had been second-guessing myself in walking away a couple weeks ago, but after speaking with Debbie today and learning that Takisha is not moving forward, I know I did the right thing. I can't imagine that after the four or five weeks the court stuff would have taken, she would have been able to relinquish him to me. And so it goes.

I told Debbie that I'm not ready to be proactive yet, but if she has a situation come up that is appropriate for me, I would be willing to hear it.

And I guess at some point, I will have to unpack from New Jersey. Right now, there are bags, diapers, stroller, car seat and bassinet in the middle of the floor in the second bedroom. Right where I dumped it all at the end of the January.

I try to keep the door closed, but Casey has other ideas. Every morning, I hear her push open the door (it doesn't latch tight) and go lay on the rug. Or I'll get home at night and the door will be open, alerting me to the fact that she has been in there while I was at work.

Monday, March 12, 2012

No news is good news

I've had a couple friends check in and see that I haven't been on the blog lately. And yes, they were right, no news is good news. No drama, no trauma, nothing to report.

I've been keeping busy, trying to get my eating back on track. I treated myself to a facial, an 80-minute massage, and a mani-pedi yesterday. It was delightful. Today, we had the day off for spring break, and after Casey's six-month check-up at the vet (she's a very healthy, fat cat), I went down to the lake and started running again for distance.

It was tough, but I worked on my breathing, not really worrying about how fast I was going, just that I was running. I'm not back to my Forrest Gump endurance that I had last fall, but I felt good about running three minutes at a time. I worked mostly on my breathing pattern and getting that back. With nice weather expected all week, I'm hoping to get outside at least two more this week before traveling for work.

I received a lovely surprise package in the mail today (aren't those the best kind?!) from my friend Kim. So thoughtful -- and made my day!

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Takisha Roller Coaster Returns

It's been a hell of a week. Tuesday afternoon, I received an email from Rebecca, saying that Debbie had spoken with Takisha and I needed to call Rebecca. I wasn't surprised that this was happening, just that it took this long.

Takisha has decided that she cannot parent the baby anymore, and she would like to put him up for adoption. She wanted to me to have him, if I still wanted him. Sounds like a no-brainer, right?

Well...unfortunately, nothing is ever that simple.

In order to do this adoption, she didn't want to work with an agency, so the termination of her parental rights would be through the court and could take up to four or five weeks. In that time, she would continue to parent him, and then after her rights were terminated, I would take custody of him. At that point, the termination of her rights would be irrevocable.

So let's say, I can ride the emotional roller coaster with her for these five weeks, there is the added special part to the story of the birth father. While she initially told all of us that it was a one-night stand whose last name she didn't know, she is now telling us he is actually Brooklyn's (her toddler) father. And that in the hospital, the night I was visiting, right after I left, he threatened to kill her if she gave his son to a white woman. And that's why, she says, she changed her mind.

He has been of no help or support since they've gotten out of the hospital, but she is afraid of him and would like to do this adoption behind his back. However, because he is the father and he knows that, once Takisha's rights were terminated, he would have 60 to 90 days to contest the adoption. Immediately my red flag was raised -- what's to say that Takisha is telling the truth about any of this? What if she does go through with her part in court, what's to stop her from changing her mind and she wants her baby back, she can go to baby daddy and get him all riled up and have him contest the adoption?

And what's the likelihood that he would actually get the baby back, considering he doesn't support Brooklyn and didn't support Takisha during her pregnancy? Unlikely, but. That was the answer I got from Rebecca. More specifically, "NJ law is a bit of a grey area when it comes to birth father law. generally he should be entitled to be heard as to what is in the child's best interest. Each court is a bit different about how much weight they give to biology. In our case, Takisha would sign a detailed affidavit regarding him and his lack of support for this child or Brooklyn etc."

And then there is the safety aspect of it all, that both Jill (my Ithaca best friend) and Rebecca were concerned about. If Takisha is really and truly that afraid of him, that means he's dangerous. Anyone with a half a brain and a computer could find me. And I think between the two of them, they have at least half a brain. I don't need an angry man beating down my door at 3am, looking for his son. I don't want to look over my shoulder and fear for my son's and my safety the rest of my life.

Rebecca told me to think about it, talk about it. In the end, after much consideration, at least as much as I could think about it in a 48-hour period, I decided there were too many risks, too many variables. If it was one or two things, I would move forward full steam ahead and take the chance.

The thing I was most afraid of was not Takisha jerking me around for the next four or five weeks and then changing her mind at the 11th hour, it was not the birth father trying to find me several years from now or whenever he realized that she had given the baby up for adoption, it wasn't him contesting the adoption within those 90 days and the court giving the baby to him, it wasn't even Lesley's concern about Takisha coming out of the woodwork in a couple years and spinning some sob story about how she needs money and Brooklyn is his sister and won't I help them out -- though all of those were valid concerns.

The thing that bothered me the most was that she was deliberately going behind the birth father's back, not telling him she was doing this, not getting him to sign off on anything, and placing the baby in a home that he was opposed to. What I was most afraid of was a judge, seeing all this deceit behind the birth father's back and giving some credence to his DNA, and taking the baby away from me and placing him with an African-American family.

Nothing in my gut felt right about this situation. And when I told Rebecca my decision yesterday, it felt right. Walking away from this situation is not walking away from being a mother, and Jill made me say that out loud, just to make sure I believed it, that I wasn't thinking it (because I kind of was -- and she knows me so well).

Before I made my final decision, Rebecca forwarded an email from Debbie:

T wanted Laurie to know she is sorry she caused Laurie so much sadness. She said she would not have had Laurie visit on Thursday evening if T was not seriously in the adoption plan. It was after Lauire left that the the birth father escalated so by the time I met with T she couldnt express herself. T believes she has hit bottom by him abandoning them since three days after hospital release. She knows she was wrong, she has taken this time out to make sure before reconnecting with me and believes that her original reasons for needing the adoption have been confirmed by this time with baby and her daughter. She understands now that she cannot trust him. Her mom gives her emotional support via telephone calls but is unable to help T. Her mom is older.

What I said to Rebecca, after I told her of my decision, I asked her to write down verbatim. I don't know if Debbie would actually say this to Takisha, but I hope so:

Six weeks ago, you wanted me to be your son's mother, and I was thrilled, excited and ready to take that on. Every decision you've made in the last month have made it impossible for me to be his mother. And that is on you. Not me.

And I don't think you need a psych degree to analyze the dream I had last night. I had a friend's pre-teen son in the car with me. We were in a bad part of town and a man with a gun saw me. I started to speed away, but he chased us in his car, shooting at us. My friend's son called 911 and told them what was happening. I ran red lights. Drove on the sidewalk. Busted through a train crossing. I couldn't let anything happen to this boy entrusted to me.

I'd been waiting for this phone call, but I thought it would have a different ending. I had no way of knowing all the baggage attached to the birth father issue. I was waiting for her to realize she made a mistake. And even though this didn't end the way it did in my fantasies, I know now for sure that this chapter is closed.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

The Good

I've been hitting the gym full force in the past few weeks, increasing my running speed and in the process my endurance. I will be ready to stop sprinting this week and start going for distance and time.

I'm going to Baltimore for Opening Day! It makes baseball feel that much closer knowing that I already have tickets to a game this season.

Lent started this week, and my friends and I all decided that I'm too fragile to give up my "vices," the usual things I give up at Lent, namely chocolate and/or soda. So I've decided to do one random act of kindness every day. Giving someone the right of way at the stop sign or holding the door open and letting the person go in front of me -- just simple things, but sometimes it's the simple things that are the big things.

I've been keeping busy -- dinner with friends, sewing class, comedy festival, happy hour, and projects.

Speaking of projects, I started working on what I'm calling a "cookie exchange quilt." My friend Kim (from Ladies in Waiting Book Club) and I decided that we would each make 20 quilt blocks (10 different designs, two of each). I'll keep one set of 10 and send her the others; she'll do the same. We collaborated on the color palette and decided on a "sampler quilt."

I've been cutting out the material during our Friday craft hours at work and yesterday, sewed together four sets of blocks. the colors may be crazy but I'm excited to put together this quilt. It will have so much meaning behind it.

The Bad and the Ugly

I'll just lump this all together and be brief. Emotional eating has decided that it needs to be my friend this week. I'm hoping the gym will counter effect it.

And I'm no closer to making a decision about moving forward, so everything is still on hold. I'm not ready to give up, but I'm not ready to move forward.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

It's Just Money

I have received my final bills and once these are paid, I'm hoping that I can let go of the bitterness and move forward. Debbie's bill was nearly $4000 ($3736.06 to be exact). She drastically reduced her fees, with the final breakdown being:

  • $3208.30 legal fees, reduced to $1000
  • Office fees -- $183.80
  • Takisha's telephone -- $167.26
  • Childcare for Takisha's toddler -- $735
  • Groceries & basic necessities for three weeks -- $600
  • Counseling services -- $1000
It is a bitter pill to swallow. I don't spend $600 for three weeks on groceries and necessities for me. The counseling services were for the social worker, who at the hospital told me this was a "done deal."

And as I said before, it seems like quite the scam that Takisha was able to pull off. But I knew this could happen. I signed a contract, with sentences like "You understand there is no guarantee this adoption will succeed although my client has sincere and serious intentions to proceed with the adoption placement with you."

And it seems that Rebecca could not get the agency to lower their fees. I received an invoice for $650, which wouldn't have been awful had it not been accompanied by a letter that started with how sorry they were and ended with, "we would be happy to assist you in any way in the future."

That little statement at the end of the letter will cost them at least one pay period before I write this check. I will pay it. Again, because I knew going in that this could happen and that it would cost me.

When I first started this process, my mother asked me about this very situation happening. "But you'll lose money." Yes, but it's either that or not move forward.

Without risk, there is no reward.

And so, it's just money. And once I pay this last invoice, I can close this chapter and move forward.

Whatever that means and however that looks.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A Life without Sense

I want life to make sense again. I don't know how that looks and what it means, I just want to know that I will get through the day without crying, or without feeling like I will hate people for no reason. I want to know how I will react to my friends' happy lives.

I have friends adopting, friends in the early stages of love and friends expecting. I'm listening happily, oohing and aahing, making baby blankets and planning showers. Some might say that I should be distancing myself from some of this, but honestly as much as it hurts to be involved, it would hurt twice as much to not be involved.

I want know that my friend gets butterflies whenever she say her new guy's name. After feeling I lived through every moment of the frustrations related first to Ethiopia and then switching to China, I absolutely want to hear every detail from the moment she laid eyes on her cherubic face to this past second. I want to know about the amnio and the ultrasound. I want to know about morning sickness and weight gain.

These are the things that make sense. Unfortunately, they aren't my life. My life doesn't make sense. I'm not in love, I'm not pregnant, I'm not even close to having a baby. I still haven't unpacked from my misadventure in New Jersey, can barely open the door to the baby's room.

But I'm hoping that the feeling of things making sense in other people's lives with start to rub off on me. And someday, things in my life will start to feel like they make sense.

My Favorite Line from TV This Week

Grey's Anatomy

Meredith: You want to take out her ovaries? She's 32 years old.
Bailey: And nice. And un-deserving. These sort of things don't happen to nasty people.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Words of Wisdom

I am lucky. I know that. But it's nice to be reminded of how much love and support I have around me, and never has been more evident than the past week.

My niece has texted me everyday just to check on me. I've gotten cards in the mail, comments on my blog, emails in my inbox, phone calls from places far and near, and hugs at work.

My parents met me at my house with donuts when I got back from New Jersey. And later that evening, a friend from work came over with her pannini maker and a cooler full of cheese and meats for yummy sandwiches, the fixings for a salad, a bag of frozen sweet potato fries, and a pan of brownies.

Some of the best advice I got was from another prospective adoptive parent whom I've never met. She read my blog after a friend forwarded to her. She had just been through a similar situation. "Take time to comfort yourself even if it's not the healthiest way...but also find ways to comfort yourself in healthy ways, like walking, running or hitting a punching bag."

Nice to know I'm on the right track. I had macaroni & cheese from Panera on Monday, lunch with two girlfriends; and then Cold Stone Creamery for dinner that night with another friend. I did manage to get to the gym in between. Tuesday, I went to the movies with another friend and had popcorn for lunch. And then although Wednesday I went back to work and my normal gym routine, I've eaten a lot of m&m's. I'm giving myself through the Super Bowl to enjoy comfort food, and then much beyond that will piss me off when I step on the scale.

Lesley, who dried many tears on Friday night, texted me on Sunday: "Remember life is kinda like the World's the best of seven. So you're down but there are plenty of games left!"

From my 7-year-old great-nephew, when he heard my niece and her husband talking about it, "she can't give up. She has to keep going."

And then from another Baltimore friend, about my reluctance, ambivalence, confusion over whether to move forward with Debbie: "Just a thought or two. You are right about questioning the lawyer situation. Once the rawness of the situation has settled, it should be something to address. I just ask you to consider a couple of things: how long have you been with Debbie? You are right about how difficult it can be to start with a new lawyer. Has she let you down in other situations before? I am assuming this situation was a first, but in other smaller incidents, any uneasy feelings with Debbie? And what I gathered from your blog, Debbie wasn’t the only person fooled by this mother. Didn’t the social worker also feel that the adoption was happening?"

It was nice to hear that somewhat neutral perspective from someone, because right now everyone's so raw, so angry, so completely wanting to blame someone, that I haven't heard something neutral, nor have I been able to think along those lines.

And so I'm taking a break right now, focusing on me, getting back into my routine, doing good things for me, and at some point, I will figure out what to do, figure out how and when to move forward.

And as I was reminded, that if doubt ever hits me once I continue this path, I should re-read the quote that I have as my email signature.

Never let the fear of striking out get in your way.
        --Babe Ruth

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Making it Through Each Day

I don't know what I'm supposed to feel or do. There is no manual on how to feel, but I'm getting through each day with lots of support from family and friends, comfort food, and fewer and fewer tears.

I will say that this is worse than the miscarriage in lots of ways, especially knowing when to move forward. At least with the miscarriage, I was "out of the game" until my hormone levels returned to normal. There's nothing to measure here, and honestly I don't know if my heart will ever return to normal.

The bills are also starting to roll in which will inevitably turn my sadness and numbness to anger and bitterness (ugly, ugly emotions that I really hate giving in to).

My attorney's fee were $1332, but she rounded down to an even $1000. I think that is incredibly fair and reasonable, and I appreciate her not adding "insult to injury" as she put it in her email to me.

The agency in NJ, which was to give Takisha her counseling and finalize the adoption, required an $1800 deposit, but given the events of the last week, lowered their rate to $650. On Friday, I stopped payment on the $1800 check. And today, I am finding that $650 figure a joke, and told Rebecca that. My local home study agency found it appalling that the NJ agency was not giving me any sort of support last week while I was in Jersey. That they weren't with me at the hospital. That they weren't in constant contact with me to give me updates. Basically they met with Takisha once, on Thursday, and emailed some documents to me and my local social worker to fill out. Rebecca is going back to them to see if they will lower their price anymore.

And then, of course, there will be Debbie's fees. I will have to pay for Takisha's legal fees. And while I knew this risk going in, I never realized how unfair it would all feel on this side of things. I really need to applaud Takisha on her master manipulation. This was quite the scam. She got to go home with her baby and I got to pay for child care for her toddler while she was in the hospital giving birth. She gets to be a mother to another child she can't afford, and I bought her lunch. Bravo, bitch, bravo!

Yes, I think the bitterness is starting to roll in. Later this week, I will post some of the amazing words of encouragement I have been receiving, just so I can focus on the positive.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Past Week...

Spoiler: No matter what you may read at the beginning of this story or what pictures I happen to post, this story does NOT have a happy ending.

Wednesday, January 18...I received a phone call from a woman named Takisha. She said she was living in New Jersey, 37 and pregnant with her 4th child. She was scheduled for a C-section on February 6, which happens to be Babe Ruth's birthday -- a good sign, I thought.

She knew she couldn't take care of this child, she has been intent on an adoption plan through the majority of her pregnancy. She told me that she considered abortion but couldn't afford it. We talked for about a half hour, and then I asked her if she would be willing to talk with my attorney. She said yes. We made plans to meet for lunch on Saturday, as long as my attorney OK'd it.

I immediately called Debbie, who stopped me before I couldn't start to tell her. "You talked to Takisha." It was a statement, not a question. She then went on to explain that she had been working with Takisha for the past two months, that she was her client. And because Debbie was Takisha's attorney, she couldn't be my attorney. She had another attorney lined up for me, here was her phone number and email address.

Debbie was very confident in working with Takisha that this was a done deal. And because I had trust in Debbie, because she knew the vision I had for my family, I felt like this was a good situation. I immediately emailed Rebecca (soon to be my new attorney) and we set up a time the next day to speak.

Thursday, January 19....Rebecca was having a family emergency so we could only speak for a few minutes, but she told me what she knew from Debbie about Takisha and her circumstances. I felt a little adrift with a new lawyer suddenly, and especially one who didn't have much time for me in the middle of something that was happening really quickly, but I trusted Debbie, so I went with it.

I spoke with Takisha  few times, and because of iffy weather on Saturday, we decided that I would go down on Friday for lunch.

Friday, January 20...It was an easy three hour drive to her house. I picked her and her 20-month-old up. I wasn't expecting the baby to come with us, but I guess I should have, because who else would have looked after her? We stopped at Rite Aid so she could get a prescription filled (she doesn't own a car or know how to drive) and then drove, at her request, about 30 miles to go to Cheesecake Factory.

Sometimes the conversations were easy, sometimes they felt like an interrogation, and she would become very direct -- almost hostile -- at uncomfortable silences. I had seen the adoption plan and the money attached to it that morning, and it was weighing on my mind. And so after giving her a small gift and paying for lunch (two entrees and two desserts for her!) and not getting as much as a thank you, I was starting to feel a little annoyed. When she suggested we go over to the mall and walk around, I got downright resentful when we had to go into the Apple store so she could look at the iPad and iPhone 4S that she was "getting after I have this baby" and then into the Coach store so she could start to look for a new purse.

She was rude to the waitress and the woman at the customer service desk at the mall. I was completely embarrassed to be with her. She kept saying that I got quiet all of a sudden. I told her I was emotionally drained, that I hadn't slept much the night before, etc. I got through the afternoon and dropped her off and hit the road.

I talked to a few people who knew where I was that day, and they reminded me that I didn't have to like her. I only had to get through the next two weeks with her, think of the end result.

We talked a little more over the weekend, and she was better on the phone than in person. Softer, less harsh. She asked if I would go down to see her again, that she was deciding between me and one other single woman. We agreed that I would go back on Tuesday.

Tuesday, January 24...When I picked her up, she said she felt like she was leaking. She called her doctor and we immediately headed for the hospital. Again more interrogation, more "why you so quiet?" when there was an uncomfortable silence. The next six hours were the longest of my life. She was hooked up to monitors trying to figure out if she was in labor, and I was a by-stander trying to figure the right thing to do and to say. Her daughter was a holy terror and the nurses kept looking to me to keep her out of the way. And when I pulled her away from pulling plugs out of the wall, she kicked me. I said, "no, we don't kick." She kicked me again. "Don't kick me." I didn't raise my hand or my voice.

And then Takisha said, "you are crossing a boundary. Don't discipline my child."

At that moment, I wanted to walk away. I wanted to tell her she was rude and disrespectful to people, that she was selfish and immature. But I didn't. I sucked it up and kissed her ass.

We went down for an ultrasound and I got to see the baby. I started to cry. She told the tech that I was adopting the baby. That statement helped me take a deep breath and keep forging ahead with her. From that moment on, chaos broke out. They were taking her in for a C-section. I was on the phone with Rebecca, she was on the phone with Debbie, and her social worker (who arrived during the U/S) was on the phone with the adoption agency who would be finalizing the whole thing.

Before they took her in, Takisha asked/told me to take her daughter for something toeat, that she hadn't eaten all day. She also hadn't been changed, but there was no diaper bag. I took Brooklyn to McDonald's and she fell asleep in the car. I called my sister-in-law, crying. I had been through hell, but was about to have a baby.

He was born at 3:51pm, and the plan was that I would head home that night, pack up my stuff and go back to the NJ the next day. Takisha wanted me to feed him before I left. I was exhausted but thrilled. I can't even describe the feeling when I held him for the first time. I didn't want to give him up, but knew the sooner I left, the sooner I would be back to him.

I left NJ about 5:45 and made it home about 8:30. In the car, I called my mother, who knew nothing of the events of the past four days, and she was so thrilled. My friend Kris met me at my house to help me pack. She left about 10:30 and I tried to sleep. I had a million things going on in my head.

Wednesday, January 25....Jill came over in the morning, with half of the Target baby department that she purchased the night before while I was driving home. We packed the car, and then I headed up to the office to wrap some things up, write some really big checks to be FedExed out, and hit the road, back to NJ, about 12:30. I checked into the hotel and called Takisha. We had agreed the night before that she would have that day with him and I would go over the next day. It was just as well, I was exhausted and felt like I was getting sick.

I ran to Target to get some Airborn and dinner, and as I was pulling back into the hotel, Rebecca called. She said not to worry, that all was still moving forward, but that because the C-section didn't go the way Takisha had thought it would, she was feeling a little out of sorts and didn't want me at the hospital the next day.

The first icky feeling in the pit of my stomach hit, but I pushed it away. I kept holding onto the fact that she had wanted me to feed him the night before.

Thursday, January 26....That morning, Takisha texted me to say good morning. She also said that she would call me later about coming up to the hospital later that day. A good sign! I ran errands, worked about five hours, and waited and waited and waited. Finally I heard from her and she said to come up about 6:00.

Our conversation while I was at the hospital was good, easy almost. I held the baby and stared at his face. I stayed for about 90 minutes and then left so she could get comfortable for bed. There was a little confusion on her part about how the weekend was going to go. She thought she was taking the baby home for the weekend and then giving him over when she signed the surrender papers on Tuesday. I immediately called Rebecca who told me, no I was getting physical custody of him at discharge, not to worry. Debbie was going up the next day and would make sure she understood.

The icky feeling got bigger. But I held onto a) she wanted me to feed him b) she had me up to the hospital tonight and c) Debbie was good at screening birth mothers, she had told me that all along.

Friday, January 27...It was a long day. And the longer I went without hearing from someone, anyone, the more worried I got. I was an emotional wreck. I cried every time I talked to someone in my family. I knew from Rebecca that Debbie was going up about 11:30 and planning to stay a few hours. Lesley was coming from West Virginia and should be arriving about 4:30.

About 4:00, Rebecca called with the news, that Takisha had changed her mind. She wanted to parent him. Debbie immediately called the social worker -- who I met on Tuesday and who also told me that this adoption was a done deal. Thankfully, Lesley arrived not long after and let me cry and cry and cry.

We opened Christmas presents -- I made her a quilt. It made me happy to give it to her. We went to the mall and got manicures. We shopped a little. And we went to dinner and drank beer and flirted with the bartender who was all of 22.

This morning, we met Debbie at her office to pick up the car seat (I was going to get custody of the baby at her office after they were both discharged from the hospital). We cried, we hugged, she told me how sorry she was. We stayed at Debbie's for about an hour and then it was time to move on.

We headed to the Tick Tock diner, featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, and the most amazing French toast stuffed with Nutella and fresh bananas.

And then onto the Yogi Berra Museum, because when in Montclair, I can't think of a better way to spend the day trying to forget the worst week of my life.

 The day was a good distraction, but I know that I need to think about this. I need to process it all and I can't move forward until I do that.

What do I do now? I've had a good relationship with Debbie but I went into this, put up with all of that crazy bitch's rudeness because I knew that Debbie was good at vetting birth mothers, wouldn't have put me in this position if she wasn't 100% sure that Takisha was going to place. She had been working with her since November. How can I move forward with her, how can I trust her opinion? But at the same time, do I want to start a new relationship with another attorney?

Rebecca and I certainly had the immediate, intense start and I feel like we've built something, but on the other hand, when I was worried about the contract prices, she told me she always advises her clients to budget $45K. My absolute ceiling for this is half of that.

I also gave myself a deadline of June. June will be five years. I've lived in limbo too long. I've put my heart through more than it can take. And maybe this is the universe telling me I'm not supposed to be a mother. At this point, it has bitch-slapped me and yet I'm still not quite ready to hear it.

I need time to mourn, to heal, to think. Can I really put myself in this position again?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Friday, January 13, 2012

My favorite lines from TV this week

From Parenthood:

Sarah: "I thought 40 was the new 30."
Doctor: "Not for your ovaries."

From Modern Family:

Cameron: "Meeting a birth mother is like a first date"
Mitchell: "It's actually the exact opposite. You don't want sex, but you want the baby."

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Saturday, January 7, 2012

My New Normal

I spent the day at a three-year-old's birthday party. I got lots of hugs from the birthday girl's baby sister and another friend. I was specifically drawn to the friend. While she ended up being late, her mother was due for her on 9/12/10 -- which was my due date.

Hailey gave me lots of hugs and I heard lots of "up" from her. I looked at her and wondered if I had a boy or a girl in me for those six weeks; either way, this is about the size it would be right now.

Where once I would have been bitter and angry and sad, today I was only a little sad, maybe a little wistful.

People have told me to boycott these events. I can't. And the two baby showers we will need to plan at work this spring. I'm the party planner at work. I will do it.

And maybe now that I know this is my new normal, it will be easier because I'll know that I won't be bitter and angry, just a little sad. And that I can handle.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year

It's a new day, a new year.

There are 104 days until my birthday, which is actually/usually when I feel all "new year" reflective. But until then, here's moving towards my goals.

I got up this morning and went to the gym. I've been eating healthy all week, and feel motivated to do it again this week.

And because, for whatever reason, weight loss commercials this time of year only outnumber online dating services, I'm dipping the toe back in.

You'll remember I started up in early fall, and then as things with Adam progressed and halted, and then as a couple birth mother matches progressed and halted, I sort of moved away, took a break, didn't take it seriously.

And so I can't just have the gym as the thing that keeps me occupied. And because I have two friends who are also jumping in the online dating arena, I'll give it another go. I've been challenged to send an email a day to prospective dates. It is a numbers game, after all.

So think of my, not just when you see a pregnant teenager, but also when you hear that your co-worker's brother is looking for a cool chick. He must like sports. I've been down that avenue where they don't like sports. I can't do it. There is more to me -- and to life -- than sports, but sports are important for me.  He should be family-oriented, kind, smart, honest, generous, confident, funny and attractive.

Signing off to go watch football. And send out my email for the day.

Happy new year. And to repeat what I wrote on Facebook yesterday: Here's hoping that 2012 brings health, wealth and happiness to family and friends. And to my waiting friends (me included), a dream fulfilled.