Tuesday, November 30, 2010


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.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


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.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

3 Months Old!!

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.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Rest in Peace, Sweet King

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.

Our first house with our first "child"

King and his favorite blanket

He could be such a ham!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

26 weeks

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:

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Our Adoption Day Story

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.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Stay Tuned...Big News!!

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:)....

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Happy (belated) Halloween!!

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...

Mommy's Sweet Pea:)

Daddy's Sweet Pea, too:)

All this fun is exhausting!