I am 34 years old and have suffered through 2.5 years of infertility including 2 angel babies. My dream has always been to be a mom, and I never imagined that dream would be so difficult to attain. I am married to a wonderful man who is the best husband and daddy anyone could hope for. Our dreams came true when we adopted our son, Jackson, in August of 2010. Our lives became even more blessed and full when our daughter, Addison, was born in February 2011. Please join us on our journey - where surprises are just part of the fun!
This time of year inevitably reminds me of our angel, our second baby to find her way to Heaven. We were very surprised and excited to find out in November 2009 that we were pregnant again, finally! I can still remember the moment I told Jason about that positive test - what joy we experienced together. We had worked so hard for this baby. We had ultrasounds every week and it was so amazing to see that heartbeat, that little body growing with each week. Our RE released me to the OB after my 8.5 week ultrasound with the promise that our baby and my pregnancy looked "perfect." I saw the OB at 9 weeks and 4 days, and heard the words that made my heart stop each time I had to hear them - "There's your baby..." and she paused...and I knew. And I asked what was wrong, and she told me she couldn't find the heartbeat. That was December 18, 2009. On December 23rd, I went in for surgery, hoping to get the baby soon enough to test the tissue. We needed answers.
The short story is we did not get answers, they did not get enough tissue. They told us the tissue was from a "healthy female," but they thought it was just my tissue. So, with only that to go on, I think of this angel as my baby girl.
Needless to say, Christmas came and went without celebration in our home last year. All I can remember is lying on the couch, wishing life had been different for us. I cried and cried and cried. I broke down in the shower, in bed at night, in all those quiet moments that leave too much space for the grief - the sadness just overwhelmed me.
Now, a year later, our life has been blessed beyond words. I will never understand why we had to walk this painful path to get to our miracles. Some people just have to. I will never say I am thankful for our losses, as we will always miss those babies, and our hearts will forever have cracks and bruises in the wake of their losses. What I can say is that I see how all of the pain led us to where we are today, where we were meant to be. And we appreciate it more than I am guessing most people can, because we suffered, and we prevailed.
This Christmas I will remember my angels, as I always do. But I will spend more time enjoying our miracles, our son and our daughter, who is mere weeks from her big arrival. A year seems like forever when your heart is broken and dripping with grief. But a year is all it takes for miracles to happen and for life to make sense again.
Rest in peace, sweet angel. We won't ever forget your brief time in our lives - you brought us such immense joy in those few weeks, and that is what we will remember about your life. You were, and always will be, our angel baby.
I cannot believe it, but our baby boy is 4 months old!! Jackson's bright personality is shining through more and more! The most obvious trait I have noticed is how full of life and boisterous he is! Whether he is happy or sad, he expresses these emotions with everything he has in him! This of course has led to the most amazing sessions of talking, laughing, kicking and squealing. They are by far my favorite parts of the day:). He can be heard throughout the house just being as happy as can be. As you can see in the picture above, he literally smiles with his whole body! What this personality trait also means is that when he is sad or tired or hungry, he makes sure that no one misunderstands. He can scream like no other baby I have ever heard. He has a high pitched screech when he is upset that literally makes our ears hurt. During these times, he arches his back, kicks his legs and is pretty much inconsolable. We usually get one or two of those episodes a day, always in the evening. But, I have tried a couple of different things in the last two days and am finding I am more successful in calming him. Jackson is strong willed and very clear in his wants and needs. I have a feeling our hands will be full as he continues to learn and grow and become independent:).
I will never forget this past month because it was the month that acid reflux took over our baby. For a week, we were visited by a very different Jackson, one we weren't sure we liked very much to be honest. While he has improved greatly, and is mostly back to his happy self, we are still working on treating all the symptoms of his reflux. This has been so hard for me, wanting the easy and perfect fix for him, for our family. No matter how hard I try, I can't fix this quickly or easily. Jackson will see a GI specialist next week, and we hope to get some answers. No matter what, I am reminding myself of this: the bottom line is this reflux thing is a pain, and exhausting, but it is minor. He is a healthy, thriving (I estimate between 15 and 16lbs!) and certainly bouncing baby boy. We honestly could never ask for more.
As for milestones, Jackson has found his hands and loves to chew on them. He is getting good at getting his fingers in his mouth and sucking, which we are ambivalent about. On the one hand, we don't necessarily want him to get addicted to his fingers because know how hard that habit is to break. On the other hand, my heart just soars when I see how well he is able to self- soothe and enjoy his little fingers like a baby should! Jackson also made the big move to his crib this month! He has been successfully sleeping every night in his crib for over a week. Yay! Jackson loves his floor time, and is so close to rolling from his back to his stomach. I anticipate a post on this very exciting new milestone very soon! Jackson also found that he can get a reaction from us with his adorable new gurgling sound. We now have "conversations" in gurgle-speak. I love watching as he learns cause and effect, and how to have back and forth conversations. He is amazing.
Goals for the next month - get acid reflux under control, start solids, sleep through the night and enjoy every second of our time with our miracle, our son.
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas around our house. Jackson's GiGi (Jason's mom) is visiting, so we had our first round of Christmas with Jackson last night. It's amazing how his presence makes everything more magical, especially this holiday.
Jackson in front of his first Christmas tree - and lots of presents just for him:).
There is nothing like a gift addressed to Mommy from her child and his daddy to heal an "infertile" woman's heart. The moment was not lost on me.
Jackson sure is one loved boy - here he is enjoying his presents:). He says, "thank you!"
I want to add a note here to all the mommies-in-waiting this holiday season. You have been heavy in my heart and on my mind. It feels odd to me to be the one posting pictures of my child during the holiday season. This time last year, I was just about to find out that we had lost our second baby. Two days before Christmas, I underwent surgery to have that child removed from my body. I will write a post especially for her very soon, but I want to document it here so that these pictures serve a greater purpose - to remind everyone that miracles happen, happiness is ahead. Jackson is our gift, the healer of our hearts. One year ago, we were in the depths of grief. Now, I am posting pictures of my son with his Christmas presents. While it may not feel like it, your miracle is coming. Don't give up. I want to personally wish you a happy (or tolerable, if that's all you can do) holiday season. Please know you are, and always will be, in my most hopeful thoughts.
This post is shaping up to be a hodge podge of updates. First, Jackson is doing well with his reflux. He still has some minor symptoms, but nothing like that week from you-know-where. He has now also started taking Prevacid, with the goal of weaning off of Zantac in a couple of weeks, depending on what his GI specialist says next week. But, so far, we are still maintaining sanity in our house and that is a gift:).
Jackson had a very successful night in his crib last night! I, on the other hand, was a little less than enthusiastic. I actually felt a weight on my chest and tears in my eyes as I went to bed last night and realized he wasn't right next to me in the bassinet. Suddenly, the hallway in our very small house seemed exceptionally long. He seemed so far away. I stayed awake in bed, just waiting for him to wake up and cry. But he didn't and I went to sleep. And he woke up at about 4am and needed a bottle (I tried just putting the paci in, but that didn't work). After his bottle, he went right back to sleep and slept in there until 8:30 this morning! It was unbelievable. I was so proud of him, and so sad that yet another baby milestone is behind us. He gets bigger and more mature with each day. It is going by so fast. While I definitely count last night as a success, I am by no means convinced that this is a pattern. If I have learned one thing, it is that babies change it up on a daily basis! If he continues doing this well in there for a couple of weeks, then I will chalk this up to a successful and complete transition. Here is our little guy waking up happy after his first night sleeping in his crib:
We also *finally* got our Christmas tree up, and this is the fun thing Daddy and Jackson found they could do with it:
Apparently, the lights are fascinating from that angle:). And Rory of course had to be a part of it all!
Lastly, I hit 30 weeks in my pregnancy this week. It is still so unbelievable to me. Because I have never believed this was actually happening, I haven't done a darn thing to prepare. Luckily, most of what I need for her, I already have for Jackson. They will do a lot of sharing:). Here's to another milestone reached! Belly pics are forthcoming...
So, sleep is this elusive thing that I get sometimes, but never enough. And the hard part is I can never predict when I will get it. Three nights ago, Jax slept through the night. I was elated! The last 2 nights, he starts stirring around 3 or 4am, melts down and needs a bottle within an hour, seems to be very sleepy during and after bottle, then stirs the rest of the night/morning, never really going into a deep sleep. So, I am literally constantly putting his paci in his mouth to get him to stay quiet and not melt down completely. He is always half asleep, but never fully. Why is this happening? Anyone ever have their little ones do this? I don't know what to do differently. I mean he is swaddled, fed, and seemingly sleepy. I'm at a loss, but I can tell you this much - I am not a happy (or good) mommy at 5am when he refuses to just stay asleep.
On top of this, my "little" man is rapidly growing out of his bassinet. He is SO big, I can't believe how fast he has grown. He is definitely a chunker:). He grew into his cheeks! So, I know that I have to get him transitioned into his crib. But how? And if he does this restless thing every night, what am I supposed to do? Run across the house to his room every time he starts fussing? I obviously don't want him moving into full blown screaming every night.
As a short update, his reflux has improved dramatically on Zantac, but certainly not fully and we still have some rough days. So, we have to travel to see a GI specialist for him next week. I am hoping we can get a better and more long term plan for him. I am constantly on edge, waiting for the symptoms to take over my sweet boy and leave no sign of my formerly happy baby for days on end. Every time he fusses or has a meltdown or spits up (read: vomits) like crazy, I practically have a panic attack, waiting for it all to fall apart again. Not a good way to live, or parent, I know. As I write this, he has once again woken early from a nap, fussy. He will no doubt want a bottle, and he can't have it for 45 minutes. This is very clearly one of the symptoms and this is the second time it has happened today...how can I not take that as a sign?
So, any advice or guidance on all issues listed here would be appreciated:) - sleep, transitioning to crib and getting control over this reflux trauma I seem to be experiencing!
I have hesitated to write this post, worried I might jinx myself! But, after three good days or so, I think I can safely say we are through the woods. Jackson has had some good days and good nights. He even slept in late this morning which he NEVER does! He is back to only getting up once to eat at night and waking up happier. His "happy boy" times have returned after each bottle, and he has been calmly falling to sleep for his naps again (for the most part). We have gone three whole days with NO screaming fits and that is the best news of all!
For those wondering, this is what we have done for him to treat his reflux and possible MSPI: Zantac 0.8ml twice a day, gripe water in every bottle, hypoallergenic formula (Similac Alimentum), less formula with each feeding (4oz every 3 hours or so, although he has been extending that a little some feedings to 3.5 hours which is an improvement as well) and thickened bottles with rice cereal. So far, all of this seems to be working! Jackson continues to spit up with burpings and ongoing after the bottles, but the amount and frequency has decreased, so we are taking this as a small success in the spitting up domain. The doctor mentioned yesterday changing meds if the spitting up continues, but I am going to ask that he consider leaving Jax on this one, as it is working pretty well besides the spitting up, which has become tolerable at least. And he doesn't cry when he spits up anymore, and we see less of the clear acidic stuff. Again, we are taking these things as successes! Why change meds? I do know we'll have to monitor his weight and the dosage of the Zantac closely. Jax grows like a weed and is a big boy - he weighed over 14lbs at the doctor's visit last Monday!
That is the update for now. I am still cautious and just hoping this continues. In other news, because Jackson is doing well, we are moving forward with our trip to go visit his birthparents tomorrow. It is a 4 hour trip one way, so it is not an easy day for any of us. We have to go to them because T (bmom) is in prison. When she is out, they have agreed to come to us for visits, at least some of the time. Anyway, I haven't written a great deal about our open adoption, but I have been getting lots of questions and comments about it, so it is on my "to-do blogging list." The summary is that we consider our open adoption situation one of the many new blessings in our lives. Thanks to Jackson, we are learning so much about this process, and about ourselves.
Lastly, I want to thank all of you for your comments - the support, ideas, and suggestions were all so needed and appreciated. I read and re-read your comments many times during those dark days. I am so thankful for all of you!
I have debated with myself about writing this post. I know that for those out there still waiting and dreaming, this will be a hard post to connect with. And, yet, I feel that the true reality of my experience as a mom has to be shared, both for my sanity and because I need the support of all of you out there. I promise those of you waiting that your day will come, too, that you write a post about all the things you didn't expect (or want) to happen! Let me first start, though, by saying that I love my son, more than anything. I would do anything for him. I want to be very clear that what I am about to write does not for one second negate the fact that I am eternally grateful for the gift that is Jackson...
That said, my last week has been h**l. Literally. I cannot tell you how unhappy we have all been since last Wednesday. It started with Jackson fussing a lot more, then spitting up constantly. And I don't mean a little bit here and there, constant vomit, everywhere and all the time. The vomit now includes huge quantities of clear spit up, just flowing out of him, usually about an hour after feeding, accompanied by crying. Then, it escalated to Jackson not sleeping, he gets up multiple times at night and he won't sleep much during the day. What is he doing if he's not sleeping you ask? He is SCREAMING at the top of his lungs, sometimes for hours at a time. Nothing calms him. Holding him, rocking him, bouncing him, walking him, swaddling him, swinging him, you name it, nothing works. For THREE days, we got none of what we call his "happy times." I've described them in previous posts - those smiley, talkative times that we always got after his bottles. They were just gone. Thankfully, they have re-appeared, albeit less boisterous and less often for sure.
I finally called the on-call doctor on Friday because we were at a loss. He immediately said he thought Jackson had a Milk Soy Protein Intolerance (MSPI) as well as "severe acid reflux." Don't ask me why this showed up so brutally now. He's always been a spitter, but nothing like this. He changed Jackson to a VERY expensive hypoallergenic formula (which STINKS beyond belief) and told us to see our doctor on Monday to get medication for reflux. He also scolded me, saying we were overfeeding him. I guess reflux babies do something called "comfort feeding," getting some relief as they eat, so they act hungry and eat too much, which only aggravates the reflux. Little did I know. Jackson has been acting hungry non-stop, hence all the screaming I think. We are trying to feed him ONLY every 3 hours - to compare, he had been in a wonderful routine of every 4 hours. Now, he begins screaming at 2 - 2.5 hours, wanting to eat again. We don't want to overfeed and aggravate the reflux, so we don't feed him, and therefore endure hours of ear-piercing screaming every day. We go from meltdown to meltdown, and it is exhausting, both physically and (especially) emotionally.
We did see the pediatrician yesterday and he agreed Jackson has acid reflux and put him on Zantac. He is not sure about the MSPI but agreed to my idea to keep him on the hypoallergenic formula. If/when he finally evens out, we could begin re-introducing milk and see if the meds alone keep him stable. I am desperate. I would do anything to get my former happy baby back. It's like another baby has replaced him. A switch was flipped, and it's like the joy was sucked out of Jackson and out of our parenting experience. Our lives have been put on hold, we've gotten nothing done (no Christmas tree up, no trips out of the house for days, etc). Like I said, we just move from meltdown to meltdown and try to survive. I am only half-heartedly hopeful about the meds. I've read enough and researched enough to know Zantac needs to be increased often, and that it does wear off. The thought of this going on for months on end is, well, intolerable.
I think what makes me so sad is that I am not enjoying my son, my role as his mommy. I have waited so dang long for this. And now I am in this place where I just dread each day, wondering how hard it will be. Only 2 weeks ago or so, I posted that I enjoyed each day, looked forward to every moment we had with him - and I did. It's like the world just flipped on me in a week. We have no routine, no rest and no answers.
Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers. This is not how I imagined mommyhood to be, but it is reality. This is what you sign up for, it's just not what you dream of when you dream of holding your precious baby in your arms. I really hope this ends soon. Until then, I may or may not post a lot. I do not want to sound like I am complaining about my beautiful son. I love him dearly. I just have a lot of feelings about what is happening, and how I'm going to get through it. And I can't risk those being misinterpreted. Just know we are here, and we are trying to get through our days as best we can. As I have more news, I will post.
I find myself in this strange place as Jackson's mom. There are moments when I wish time would stop. I look back at his newborn pictures and realize he is a completely different baby. He has grown so much! And I have learned so much about him. Our relationship has flourished since those precious moments when I first held him in my arms. And then there are also moments in which I wish time would just speed up, because some moments with him can be really hard and I find myself looking forward to when he is older. I think this is mostly because I assume he will be better able to regulate himself then (i.e. have some patience and not scream bloody murder every time he gets hungry or overtired, be able to fall asleep on his own, sleep in his own crib, sleep through the night, etc.). While being a mommy is by far the absolute best experience I have had in my entire life, it is hard sometimes.
With Jackson being so young, and being my first, I worry about him and if I'm making the right decisions. So you can get a good look at my "crazy mommy" side, here is a list of a few of the things at the top of my "worry list" today:
Is he on the right formula? We've tried 4 now. He seems to finally be doing well on this one, but I watch him like a hawk, wanting so badly for this to be the one that helps him spit up less, have less gas, get rid of his constipation, and fill his tummy so he can take good naps and sleep well at night. That's a lot to ask out of a formula, I know, but if I spend what I am spending on it, I feel I can expect these things!!!
Should he be sleeping in his crib by now? He only naps in his swing and won't stay asleep anywhere else for naps. He still sleeps in his bassinet at night. Am I setting myself up for disaster by not having him sleep in his crib now?
Should he be fussing less at this age or is this normal? And what is the screaming about? He has these moments where he just screams, and I mean SCREAMS. I am sure the neighbors can hear him. And often we don't know why. We know when he's hungry or overtired, but sometimes it seems those aren't the reasons and we are at a loss.
Should he be more interested in toys? He loves to look at and play with us...should I be encouraging more toy play?
Ok, now I know logically that the answer to most of these questions is that Jackson will develop at his own pace and it will all be okay, no matter what. But, in the moments of screaming, feeding, waking when he should be napping...well, I have to wonder. I know him now so much better than I knew him 2 months ago, and that has helped. I wonder if I will be able to say the same thing in 2 more months? My guess is these things may be resolved by then, but new worries are awaiting us!
I don't know what the "perfect" mommy answers are. I don't know if I should be doing more, if he should be doing more. All I know is he is an amazing little boy who loves his mommy and daddy so much already and shows us all day long how much he takes joy in our presence. And I want to enjoy that. So, I do. I do ask questions, I do make changes and try new things with him, I do worry sometimes, but mostly I just love him. I love every day with him.
The best part is I know I have years of amazing moments with him, and with his baby sister. Sometimes my heart just soars with happiness when I think about all the moments of joy and happiness we will have together as our family grows and as times passes. I feel like I am suspended in this weird space and time that I haven't experienced before - I appreciate my past because of where it has brought us, I love our present and I can't wait for our future. It's been a long time since I have been able to say that. This mommy thing sure is worth all the pain it takes for some of us to get here, all the work it takes to just stay sane some days, and all the ups and downs that are inevitably a part of raising our sweet babies.
Jackson turned 3 months old on the 17th. Unfortunately, this was the same day we lost our precious King, so I did not get around to posting. Let me first just say thank you for all your kind words and comments. I still cannot believe the depth of my grief, and the ache in my heart. Every moment in this house, every piece of our routine, seems empty somehow. King's presence is so missed.
Now, on to Jackson's 3 month milestones. The biggest and best thing (I feel) that has happened with Jax in the past month is his laugh!! He had a squeal at 2 months, but now he has a full belly laugh and it is the cutest thing ever! We just sit and talk to him and laugh with him because how can you do anything else when he is being that adorable?! Unfortunately, what has come with the laughing is also more crying. I have known from my professional training that crying peaks around 3-4 months. I am hoping this is the peak and it will settle down in the next couple of months. Jackson has a very loud, very piercing cry and he has been using it more frequently lately. He cries when he's hungry, of course, but what he has been doing more is crying when he gets tired. Instead of just fussing and then going to sleep, he now cries...a lot. And it takes a great deal to calm him down. Poor Jackson has also had issues with gas and constipation this month, due to a formula change, and that has led to more crying as well. We are still working on finding the right formula for him, as he spits up a lot. At the current moment, we just switched from soy (which he was on for all of a week before we realized it wasn't helping with spit up and was giving him awful constipation) to Enfamil AR for Spit Up. We'll see how this one goes! Luckily, Jackson doesn't seem to care what formula he gets as long as he gets to eat!
Jackson is still not entirely interested in toys or objects and MUCH prefers us to be talking to him and playing with him. He loves to kick his legs and he really gets those things going when he is super excited. Jackson still loves to be read to, and usually can't help but fall asleep when we head to our glider and read books together. We've also been taking Jackson out more for walks, and he seems to enjoy those as well. Jackson LOVES to talk. I can't get over how much he talks. After his bottles, he will spend an hour or so talking and giggling, especially if we are there playing with him. He has whole conversations, taking turns with us chatting. It's amazing. I also have noticed that Jackson definitely knows who we are and prefers us. If I am playing with him and someone else comes to join, he immediately stops smiling and talking and instead quietly observes the other person. It's not that he's upset, but he saves the fun stuff for me and daddy:).
Well, those are the highlights. Jackson is our life, and is such a joy. These pictures are proof that he is absolutely the cutest baby ever:)....
He was laughing at daddy here!
He was given this teddy bear at the finalization hearing. So cute.
We lost our first "first born" today. Jason and I honestly can't remember our life without him, he's been with us through so much. We bought our first home, and he moved in with us that exciting first day. He made trips back and forth from our apartment, helping in his own way...keeping our spirits up. He was so darn cute. He was our baby, always has been. Always will be. He was with me when Jason was away at the academy, he traveled all the way down to Arizona with me and my sister and Rory in a small Saturn. He's moved into two houses with us here in Arizona. He was there when Jackson entered his home for the first time. And now he is gone. He died today, at six and a half years old.
King was an energetic, happy, loving and quite obnoxious dog:). He was VERY smart and unbelievably mischievous. He was such a trouble maker! King loved to cuddle and he laid with his favorite blanket every night. He will be cremated with his blanket - it was his baby blanket, he has had it since he was a puppy because he can get cold at night and loves to cuddle under it. It was one of Jason's baby blankets. King was protective, and I always felt safe with him in the house. King loved walks, hikes on the mountain, playing with other dogs, and eating anything we'd give him! Most of all, he loved his people. And boy did we love him.
Our precious boy got very sick this past week. Treatment to just get him out of the danger zone would have required multiple blood transfusions. After that, it is likely he would have had an ongoing health issue that would require extensive treatment. Without these transfusions, he would have died within days. We just couldn't do it. The hard part about having a pet that goes in this way is that you know you had to make that decision, you had to tell the doctor to let him die, to take his life. And the guilt is indescribable.
We made the difficult decision to put King down today. We were there with him, loving him, as he took his final breaths. It was so unexpected. He had diarrhea, we took him in to see the vet, and within a week, he is gone. We knew we would have to face this decision one day with him, we just can't believe it happened this soon. We are honestly in shock. And we are so very sad. Every place in this house is a reminder - he had a bed in every room for goodness sake! His presence was SO large and full of life that his absence feels just as large - and empty.
I could go on and on about our first "child." Let me just tell you that, although he sure could be difficult, we loved him so very much. And everyone who met him couldn't help but also love him. He will be immensely missed. Rest in peace, our sweet boy.
The third trimester is quickly approaching, and my body is definitely feeling it. I still feel baby girl move on and off throughout the day. This in itself continues to amaze me. I have had numerous aches and pains, particularly shoulder and lower back pain. I am beginning to be starving all the time again (that was a BIG symptom for me in the first trimester). The middle of the night becomes my most hungry time (when I am awake, which I am almost every night to feed Jax). It is so bad that I can't go back to sleep until I eat something. I have also had a few bouts of nausea, but very mild compared to the first trimester. And, lastly, I am so incredibly emotional. The hormones are definitely taking over my body. I know that sleep deprivation is adding to the "crazy," but a woman knows when hormones have taken over. It's like you can see yourself going on a rant or crying uncontrollably from outside your body, but you just can't seem to control it. Fun! So far, I feel so incredibly lucky. While I do have some pain, for the most part I am feeling good. I can't believe I am actually experiencing pregnancy. I honestly feel the need to pinch myself. While the symptoms can be hard, and I can complain at times, I am always balancing it with a smile. I know how blessed I am. Because of what we have been through, and the angels we have lost, I truly understand what a miracle and gift this baby girl is. Please pray that she keeps growing and stays healthy in there! Here is what we look like this week:
Well, we did it. It's done. Yesterday was our Adoption Day. And I'm not even quite sure why I feel like it was such a big deal. He was already ours in every definition of the word "family" you can find. But now we know that NO ONE can take him from us. The Court and the State of Arizona say so. And if I'm being honest, that is a big deal.
Our agency, along with many other agencies, hosts a picnic each year, and at that picnic, judges come to volunteer their time. They set up in ramadas and finalize adoptions for about 3 hours straight. It's their good deed for the year:). So, we went to the park, checked in, set up our blanket and enjoyed waiting with our amazing friends who showed up to celebrate with us. This is us waiting for our moment with the judge...
We were called a little early, of course right as Jackson was finishing his bottle. We rushed over, with our friends by our side. We stood in the back as another family was finishing up, heard the clapping as they celebrated, and then heard our name called. What happened next is honestly a blur. We were asked to state our names and to be sworn in:
In that picture you can see some of our friends standing behind us (others were taking pictures around us:)) and our social worker beside us. Jackson was a true angel, as you can see. I was struck by how big the moment was, and how he would not ever be able to recall that day the way we can. So many big decisions were being made on his behalf, and all he needed and wanted at that moment was to be held by his mommy and daddy. That is all he needs to be happy in this world, for now.
We then were asked a series of questions that I couldn't even repeat. Something like do we understand that we take on complete responsibility of him, forever? Uh-huh. Do you agree to take complete parental responsibility of this child? Um...do I have to say it?! I struggle to remember what was said, and I remember that I nodded a lot because I couldn't even say "yes" or "I do" because I was crying so hard:
As you can see, I was trying to hold it together here. I failed. Miserably. Luckily, so far, I haven't seen any pictures of me completely falling apart - people were kind as they snapped photos:). Our social worker was asked to speak, and she stated that they (the agency) believed it was absolutely (I remember her saying that word) in Jackson's best interest to be our son. And then, after about 5 minutes (if not less), Jackson was officially announced as Jackson Levi E and we were officially deemed his parents, forever (by law, that is - we know that we already were his forever parents in every way that matters). And the happy family takes pictures with the judge:
As Grandma Sheree pointed out, it took longer for us to get married. LOL! They sure are quick about these hearings.
We want to thank our chosen family for being present for our big day. So, to: Brian and Leann and their beautiful children, Emma, Kate, Mya and Max; Phil and Sheree; Jeff and Cheryl; and Jamie and Danny and their newest adorable addition, Eden...we want to say thank you to all of you for being there to celebrate with us and to welcome Jackson "officially" into our family. It is days like this one that remind us of how truly important it is to surround yourself with family, whether that is family of the "chosen" kind, or otherwise. We know that we are so very blessed to have all of you in our lives, and in Jackson's life.
To Jackson's birth parents: We love you, we are so thankful for you, and we missed you. We will never be able to explain the depth of our gratitude, so we will just have to continue showing you in any way we know how.
To Jackson, your mommy and daddy love you more than anything in this world. You have single-handedly healed our hearts and filled our home and we will never be able to explain to you how grateful we are to have you as our son. You are perfect in every way. Happy Adoption Day, our precious baby boy. We love you.
I just wanted to give a quick teaser, as I realized that I have not yet shared with all of you that we FINALIZE Jackson's adoption TOMORROW! Can you believe it?! As Jason says, "It's already final to me." Yes, it is, in our hearts. But, tomorrow, it will be on paper, too. And that means something. I am actually very nervous. Still waiting for the other shoe to drop. Infertility drove that mindset into me, but I refuse to let it take over. Instead, I decided to share the exciting news, so you all can wait in happy anticipation with me. We are so blessed. You can be assured that stories, and of course pictures, are to come:)....
We had our first official holiday with our son. I can't believe the healing that has taken place in our lives since Jackson arrived. The holiday season, always beginning with Halloween, historically marked a time for me that required a great deal of energy and work to stay positive. The holidays were days that ultimately left me feeling empty and raw. I am so grateful for this holiday season. I look forward to EVERY day with Jackson, but the blessing of him during the holidays is so overwhelming. That said, Jackson may not remember his first Halloween, but I sure will...
Wow, our precious boy is really growing up! Let me show you some of his amazing firsts in the last 2 weeks...
His new play mat. He LOVES this play mat, mostly for the singing, light-up star on the top and the mirror.
Poor baby was SO tired after his 2 month shots, this was taken after some hard core cuddling with mommy and daddy:).
I just had to show you that little band-aid - he had one on each leg. Broke his momma's heart.
He's figuring out his Bumbo. His head is still a little wobbly, but we spend time in it almost every day to help strengthen those muscles! He was more interested in mommy next to him than daddy with the camera in this picture:).
This is truly the GRAND FINALE!!! Today, for the first time, he took a nap in his crib! I can't believe what a big boy he is becoming. See that bear in the corner? That was the key. When that bear plays the ocean sounds, Jackson can't help but close those beautiful eyes and take a little rest:). I was so proud of him! But, I had to immediately tell daddy that mommy is nowhere near ready for Jackson to begin sleeping there at night...way too far away. We'll work on that when he's a little older:).
We saw the OB again yesterday and got another ultrasound. The doctor is still trying to see baby girl's face, and she keeps hiding it. So we get to have ultrasounds each time we go! She said we worked so hard for this baby, so we deserve lots of ultrasounds. One of the many reasons I travel over 1.5 hours to see her! She is really great.
Anyway, baby girl looked SO much bigger. Her head looked huge, and she was head down, face planted into my spine. (Could be the reason for my intense lower back pain at times?) So, once again, she hid her face from view. We were able to see pieces (eyes, forehead, etc) with the vaginal ultrasound. We also saw her adorable little perfect ears. Incredible. She is still looking like a girl "down there," although the doctor said her view last time was better than this time. She was all crunched up in a ball. She estimated that baby girl weighed 1lb 10oz. I can't believe it. I'm still in awe that this little baby, who by the way just reached the AGE OF VIABILITY (eek!), is in ME. She kicked and squirmed so much. I swear she knows when I put the doppler on my belly, or when the ultrasound probe is there. She starts moving like crazy. Jason was able to feel a lot of it, too, which was such a cool experience. One I honestly never thought I'd have. I remember writing about my feelings of complete failure - failing to give him those experiences. And here we were, Jackson sleeping away in his daddy's arms, experiencing together our baby girl growing and moving. Does every pregnant woman just stand in awe at this whole experience?
Honestly, every time she starts an ultrasound, I hold my breath. I literally can hear here say the words, "I'm sorry, there is no heartbeat" for a split second. And then she doesn't, and I breathe again. With each ultrasound, the anxiety fades more quickly. But, I can't forget. I can't act like I am normal and expect everything to be ok. I wonder if that will ever go away?
For now, everything IS ok. I am carrying so many feelings of bliss, fear, anxiety, happiness, you name it. And I know that this is also normal for any pregnant woman, so I am just experiencing it all with calm. So far, no big freak outs:). Talk to me when she's within a month of arrival. I bet "calm" won't be in my vocabulary anymore!
Ok, a recently created poopy diaper calls! I'll update you after our next appointment in a month...time sure is flying!
Jackson went to the pediatrician today for his 2 month appointment. That means shots. I'll get to that. He weighs 11lb 9oz and is 23 inches long. The slightly scary part is he only gained 1lb 6oz since his last appointment. To get an idea, he gained THREE pounds in his first month, so we expected more. He went from the 50th percentile to the 36th. That is our clue that he needs to eat more. The doctor agreed he needs to gain a little more. We are going to increase him to 5 ounces of formula at a time now, as he eats his bottles pretty quickly right now and seems to be able to eat more if we offer it. Now, the shots. He SCREAMED. Our boy can scream, by the way. We rarely let him and meet his needs on demand, but there is nothing we could do but watch him be hurt. I never get so sick to my stomach as when we are at the doctor and he is being hurt. I seriously have to restrain myself from hitting the doctor or nurse who is doing the hurting. It's like a serious deep anger that just erupts in me when someone is hurting my son. Luckily, I have self control. I just grab him the minute they are done and comfort him the best I can.
Since getting the shots, he has been very fussy. I should also say he has had a rough three days or so. He is fighting sleep non-stop - and by fighting I mean, dozing off, then kicking and wiggling and then getting angry that he isn't sleeping. It requires a great deal of hands-on attention from us, and it is exhausting. I know they go through phases and ups and downs. I really liked the phase before this one - eating every four hours on the dot, then having happy play time, then sleeping soundly for a couple of hours while I got stuff done. It was beautiful. The time has passed. So, after a few rough days, and now the shots, I am just taking it hour by hour. My to-do list has literally not been touched in three days. If you know me, you know that may be giving me an ulcer. But, I remind myself that he is more important, and it will all be ok. And it will. Despite his fussiness, he is so precious and I love him so very much. Daddy did take "before and after" shots when Jackson got his shots, but they are too sad to post. I'm not ready to remember in photo form yet:).
One milestone down - my baby's first very sad shots. Now, if we can get through the night without me crying, too...
I can't believe it, but our precious boy is 2 months old already! I swear, he is the sweetest little boy, and we just can't get over how much we love him. Our most favorite times with him are after his bottles, especially in the morning. He now spends up to an hour cooing and babbling and smiling big smiles. He looks right into my eyes and smiles and his whole face lights up. I almost always have tears, my love for him is that deep. Jackson and I enjoy our reading time together almost every day. I pick out a couple of books, and he just stares at my face as I read to him. Honestly, those moments are a dream come true for me. Jackson loves to eat, and has just increased his formula intake to 4 ounces at a time, as of two days ago. He goes about 4 hours between feedings, except after his first feeding of the night - he can last between 6-8 hours if he is sleeping well. He still gets up once during the night to eat, at about 4 or 5am. Of course, he stirs long before that, and it requires me to keep reaching into his bassinet to put his pacifier back in his mouth in order to keep him asleep. He has gotten very good at falling asleep on his own once I put him in his bassinet at night. During the day, he still requires a great deal of holding and cuddling in order to go to and stay asleep. I know one day he will no longer want to cuddle with his mommy, so I am trying to enjoy these moments (instead of worrying about all the things I am not getting done!). Jackson loves to watch ceiling fans and lights and has his favorites around our house. We call one lamp in our living room "Jackson's light" because he loves it so much and can stare at it for a very long time! The main thing I am learning is that just when I think I have the routine down and can do this mommy thing, he changes. He had one week about a week ago in which he was going 5-6 hours between feedings, sleeping 8-10 hours at night, and sleeping peacefully during the day for about 2-3 hours at a time while not being held. I thought, "Wow, I feel like a normal person again! I can do this!" That lasted a week. Lol! But, I know, I can still do this. I would do anything for Jackson. So, we keep on keepin' on and enjoy every second we are blessed with this little boy. Ok, now for pictures. I could not pick just one, as he was just so cute smiling and giggling through our little photo shoot, so forgive me for including so many:). I swear he is the cutest baby ever...
I don't have time to write anything substantial. Just time enough to say that life is hectic, Jackson is perfect (almost 2 months old, at which point you'll get all the updates:)), and baby girl seems to be doing well! Now, for the pictures:
And here is my 22 week belly pic...not too impressive, but definitely requiring maternity clothes now:)...
...GIRL! Or so it seems. After Jackson's surprise arrival as a boy, I have a feeling we will be slightly skeptical until baby girl shows herself to the world:). The doctor got two good looks, though, and said she is pretty sure (as sure as a doctor can be with girls) and rarely changes her mind. She also said she has only been wrong once in 10 years - not bad! She said our baby was perfect, and very cooperative. I can't believe it. Jackson is going to have a little sister and our family will be more complete than we ever could have imagined or hoped for.
We started our 2010 with hearts full of grief, clinging desperately to the hope in our adoption plan to keep us going. When I turned 30 in March, I wrote this post. I was trying, somewhat successfully, to believe that year 30 would be my year of blessings. When I turn 31, if all goes as planned, it will be a very different post, and I will be a very different person. I already am. I went on to write this post in April. I spoke of the mythical nature of a healthy pregnancy in my world...I believe unicorns were referenced as a comparison:). I still fight that view, I still fight the worry and anxiety every day. I still struggle every day to believe this baby, this daughter of ours, will arrive safely come February. But Jackson has changed me. He helps me to believe. I have him, and that is absolute proof that miracles happen, that I can be happy, and that my life is perfect - if not a product of my own planning. His presence has allowed me to embrace this pregnancy and to have faith. I am so thankful for him, for so many thousands of reasons.
As I sit here, Jackson is sleeping on my chest, all warm and cuddly. And on top of that joy, I am currently feeling baby girl moving around in there, announcing her presence as she does multiple times a day. Can you believe how things can change in less than a year? I am in awe.
It's hard to understand how I am raising this precious little boy, but still feel like I'm in a dream world.
Yesterday, I watched a gorgeous baby boy with chubby legs and big bright eyes wiggle around on the examination table while the doctor examined him. All I could think was, is he really mine? How did this happen? He is so perfect!
Then this morning, before I left for work, I watched as my husband and my son cuddled together in bed, both fast asleep. They were the cutest thing I have ever seen. The sight took the breath right out of me.
Again, this afternoon, I was amazed. I picked up Jackson and he looked kind of sleepy. He decided to wake up a little and look up at me. When he recognized who was holding him, he smiled a huge smile. The smile was so bright and so big, he dropped his paci. My eyes immediately filled with tears, as they do multiple times in a day.
Again, I ask myself, is this really my son, my life? I literally feel like I have been planted right in the middle of someone else's life - that someone being one of what I call "the lucky ones." I guess it is time that I allowed myself to believe that I am now one of those lucky ones. Maybe the luckiest one of all. Because look at this beautiful baby, who I get to call my son.....
Ok, they are not very impressive. If you knew me before, you can tell my belly isn't as flat, but if you didn't, you'd have no idea there's a baby growing in there! I can definitely see it more depending on what I am wearing, and I can still hide it pretty easily. What I can't hide very well is the major growing in the chest area:). As much as I've always dreamed of having a baby bump, I am actually hoping that I continue to grow slowly. The longer my belly stays under control, the easier it is to hold and maneuver Jackson, and he is my world right now. I do it all for him:). He only gets 6 months of being the only baby, and I want it to be amazing for him. Enjoy!
P.S. I HATE taking these pictures - they always highlight how bad my posture is!