Monday, April 27, 2015

about a year ago

It was about a year ago when my coworker came into my office and closed the door.

Hey, I don't know if this is uncomfortable for you or something you want to talk about, but I was wondering if you and Matt were still considering adoption?

I didn't quite know what to say. Our loss was still so raw in our hearts, but five months had passed. We mostly tried to ignore the pain and avoid the topic, but since our desire to be parents hadn't left...we'd briefly discussed our family-building options. I'm pretty sure my incredibly optimistic perspective on the idea of pursuing adoption again was something like "well, sure, but I'll never go through that [a post-placement failure] again." Which is convenient, since adoptive parents typically have tons of control in that department. At any rate, our perspective on adoption at the time was basically sure, if the absolutely right situation just slaps us in the face

So I said something along those lines to my friend. Sure, we were cautiously open to the idea. But God was going to have to FLING OPEN some doors and forcibly throw us onto the path, because I was not just itching to set myself up for a lot of heartbreak again anytime soon.

My coworker got excited then. Oh good!, she said. I was hoping you were still interested. And she proceeded to tell me about some friends of hers who had a niece who was looking to make an adoption plan for her unborn baby. The family members were all working together to network to find prospective adoptive parents, and my friend felt like we would be the perfect family. Would we like her to mention us to her friend?

Well...sure. What harm could it do? But there was no way we were getting our hopes up. 

And I didn't. Unlike the previous 40 times we'd been at this point in the process, being presented to an expectant mother, this time I had no hope. I didn't daydream about what might happen, I didn't calculate the due date, I didn't imagine what if scenarios. I basically didn't think about it, except to occasionally feel sick to my stomach and wonder why on earth I would even consider opening myself up to such pain again.

And then a few days later, my friend came by again. Hey, I talked to my friend about yall. They want to meet you! Can I give them your contact information?

Oh! Oh. Oh. us. Okay, sure.

Because when they meet us, they will know- I am too broken, too fragile, too much of a mess. I want to be a mommy too badly and I'm scared to death and I'm alternately angry with and desperate for God...I'm a mess. But sure, if they want to meet, let's meet.

Although her extended family lived nearby, the expectant mother, J, lived in a different part of the state. She would be coming to Athens that weekend, though- could we meet her?

Well, that weekend happened to be Easter. We had plans to travel out of town, and I didn't want to miss Easter with my family. I don't know if I was naive or stupid, but I just figured that if it was meant to be, then our being out of town that weekend just wasn't going to be a deal breaker. And if it was, then great. It wasn't meant to be. Save me a whole lotta heartbreak.

That's no problem, the family said. Enjoy your Easter. But we really want to meet you- what about next weekend?

Oh, wow. Cool. Not a deal breaker! Butttt...the next weekend I had plans to travel, too. It was my friend's wedding, and I was a bridesmaid. We had hotel reservations, a dress, I was doing makeup for the wedding party...definitely couldn't skip out. So at the risk of sounding like the lamest, least interested potential adoptive parent ever, I again declined. Hey- if it's meant to be, it's meant to be, right? If God's great big plan for my life is that THIS is the situation that will lead to our forever family...then God also probably knew about my friend's wedding, and how it'd be the same weekend, and there must be some sort of contingency plan to work around it.

And there was. Because it just so happened that there was an event taking place in Athens the following weekend that J would be attending. Maybe we would like to meet up on Saturday?

Well, as it turned out, our calendar was just wide open that third weekend. Not a thing to do. And so we said yes. Yes, we would love to meet with you. Thank you for being so understanding- we aren't normally so busy on weekends! But yes, just tell us when and where, and we would love to meet you.

And I still had almost no hope. Although what I knew of the situation sounded promising, although our every interaction with J and her family thus far had been unbelievably encouraging...I just couldn't believe that anything good could come. Because I was a mess still. I didn't have it all together, and my heart still hurt from November, and I didn't think God really planned to do much good in my life. I couldn't imagine redemption from my heartache. Maybe we looked good on paper. Maybe people liked us and would say nice things about us and say oh, they'll be the BEST parents! when talking to their friends...but I just couldn't imagine that anything good could actually happen when we met on Saturday. I guess I just thought there was something fundamentally flawed about me. Why else would I be closing in on six years of fruitlessly pursuing parenthood?

But in the midst of my severe lack of hope and faith, we said yes. Because at that point, after three weeks of being pursued, it kinda felt like the doors-flinging-open-God-kicking-you-onto-a-path that I'd sarcastically imagined, so how could I not take the step? 

And at some point before Saturday, we learned that the baby was a girl. And for some reason, a burst of hope shot into my heart, because I really, really wanted a daughter. I wanted a son, too, but for reasons I don't heart came alive again when I learned that this would be a girl. A girl

It was about a year ago that I felt hope start creeping back into my heart. As we waited for Saturday, we didn't tell anyone. We barely even discussed it ourselves. Too scary. Too hard. What will be will be...and maybe it'll be over quickly, like ripping a band-aid off, and there won't be much pain. Or maybe not. Maybe this is it, maybe this is our time. Maybe this will be the family we will be in relationship with for the rest of our lives. Maybe we will be meeting our daughter's mother, and maybe she will like us and see our mess and fear and excitement and doubt and love and think that maybe it's just messy enough for her. 

As Saturday approached, I tried my hardest to keep hope at bay, to squelch it and stuff it down into the depths of my heart. I tried to remember the pain, the not get hasty, to stay detached. But it just didn't work this time. From some dormant place, an expectant peace bubbled up, and my what will be will be mantra started feeling a lot less resigned and a lot more excited. Because for whatever reason, J wanted to meet us. On Saturday. And maybe- just maybe- this would be the beginning of our redemption story.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

so many options...

Millie is still a baby right now...obviously the cutest, sweetest, funniest baby ever, but still a baby. With each week that passes, though, I catch more glimpses of what she might be like as she grows out of her baby-ness. Her personality, her tendencies, her's just so much fun watching those things develop. I love imagining what she might be like next month and next year and in five years. I can't wait to see how she unfolds.

One thing that I have trouble imagining, though, is what she'll look like. Not that it matters. It's just I can only imagine her looking one way: exactly how she does now. Which is perfect, of course. But for whatever reason, I just can't imagine what she'll look like as a toddler. And I think that the crux of the issue is that she doesn't have (much) hair. I can't draw a picture of Older Millie in my head because I don't know what she will look like with hair.

But who needs hair when you're this cute?
Lucky for me, there is the internet. And free time. And possibly mis-using a makeover webpage. But who cares, because the end result was lots of laughs in my house...and perhaps a slightly better idea of what lies ahead for Millie...or something.

Like, you know...maybe she'll be blonde!

Such luscious locks...this would be convenient because then we could easily discern whose long hair was responsible for clogging the drain/covering the floor/sticking to the shower wall. No confusion about blame!

But maybe she'd rather grow up to look just like her mom?

Haha, I know, I know. My hair never actually looks that good. If Millie got hers to look like that, I'd really have to step up my game. So maybe I'll encourage her to go another direction...

Aack...well, maybe not this direction, exactly. That looks painful and very non-cuddly. I want Future Millie to cuddle with me still, so I might discourage this look. Also, all those various colors would probably cost a fortune to maintain. Future Millie's gonna have to get a job if she expects a high-maintenance look like this.

Maybe Millie will truly follow in my footsteps and just phone it in with a bun most days. Thatta girl.

In conclusion...this is possibly the most ridiculous thing I've ever done, but I'm laughing so hard I can barely breathe, so it really seems worth it. 

And P.S.- Millie, just stay a bald baby as long as you can.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

nearly wordless wednesday

If there is anything cuter than a bloomer-clad baby booty, I don't know what it is. 

Except for maybe a baby in yellow overalls. 

And that's pretty much all there is to say about that. 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

breathing and unbroken

Oh hey look, another week flew by. 

Well, parts of it flew. Some parts were a bit draggy. Millie started wheezing again, right about the time when her sinus infection should have been clearing up. Time tends to drag when your baby is struggling to breathe. For the fiftieth (or so) time this winter/spring.

Luckily (??) this time was the straw that broke the camel's back and we left the doctor's office with an asthma diagnosis (not really serious- "mild intermittent asthma," triggered by respiratory illness) and a prescription for a nebulizer! I am so relieved, to be honest. I hate feeling helpless every time her otherwise-inconsequential colds/allergies/viruses morph into constant wheezing and struggling to breathe, leading to too many after-hours chats with the doctor and prescriptions for steroids. Now we can do breathing treatments at the first sign of respiratory junk and hopefully keep her from getting to that point again.

So we spent all our spare time learning how to do breathing treatments!! True to character, Millie was pretty chill about the whole thing.

Don't bother me, Mom. I'm reading books and looking like Darth Vader!

A nebulizer selfie? Isn't this kind of pathetic, Mom?
 The doctor and pharmacists all said that most babies fight the treatments, but she really isn't too fazed by the whole thing. Sometimes she naps, sometimes she imitates the noise that the machine makes, and sometimes she just keeps on doing her thing- jumping, as the case may be.

Don't be jealous of my awesome Saturday morning fashion.
And as hoped, her breathing and coughing immediately improved once we started treatments. Now she's just a normal snotty baby- yay! And she can focus on the truly important things in life: learning to pull up on stuff.

And pretending she's about to crawl. Even though she's not.

She's also working on penning her first novel. Probably the Next Great American Novel, actually.

...and yet all they give me to write on is this little pad of sticky notes. How they underestimate me.

As for me, I've spent every spare moment of the week trying to read Unbroken for book club tonight. I finished at 4:00 this afternoon, so give me a gold star or something. (Actually, if you're going to give me a gold star, it should be for the goat cheese-stuffed, bacon-wrapped dates that I made to take tonight. If I make it there and there are actually any left...that will be star-worthy.) I'll admit that this isn't the type of book I would ever have chosen to read on my own (it's a biography, for one. NOT FICTION. As in...not really my thing), but I'm glad that I did read it. It was long and really hard to read at times (for different reasons- sometimes because they were going on and on about the minutiae of the various planes used by the Air Force during the 1940s (surprisingly, another thing I'm not really passionate about!), sometimes because the subject matter (being a POW in Japanese work camps) was incredibly disturbing and horrifying)...but I feel like I learned a lot and it was an amazing story in the end. It also made me feel like the stupidest person ever for anything I have ever complained about. Like even my deepest pain and most awful situations seem laughable, basically. Poor little spoiled American brat...waaah, waaah. Anyway, I think that our discussion tonight will be a good one. I'm also hoping that I'll find that I'm not the only one who knew so incredibly little about the role of Japan in World War II. That was my other takeaway from the book. I'm a spoiled brat, and incredibly ignorant about WWII. Well, at least one of those things I can remedy with some more reading and my old friend Wikipedia...

The dates Book club is calling my name- time to go! Have a great rest of the weekend!

Monday, April 13, 2015

done! (because it's a race and all)

It was a really busy weekend.

That is, if by "busy" you mean "busy reading 4,000 pages of yesteryear's hottest teenager vampire romance novels." Then yes, I was busy. But I finished!! All four books (and 3/5 movies) in 10 days. That's pretty impressive when you consider that I also work full time and occasionally like to stop to eat and breathe.

And help this one put animals into and out of Noah's ark.

This is actually the only picture I took the ENTIRE WEEKEND. I have failed at life.
I must say, though. I really enjoyed the Twilight saga. Especially the ending. Go ahead and judge me, but I really appreciate and crave a happy (or at least satisfying) ending when I've committed this much time to caring about a bunch of characters. Most YA trilogies/sagas utterly fail me there. I'm basically used to getting to the end and then wishing I'd stopped about three chapters earlier and just made up my own satisfying ending. But Twilight was good to the last drop, so to speak, so kudos to Stephenie Meyer. I have the last two movies ready to watch, and I also grabbed the Eclipse novella while I was at the library so that I can spend another 200 pages hanging out in Forks...why not, right? Oh, and I'm going to read Midnight Sun. And THEN I'll be really done. Just in time to read my book for book club this weekend. We're discussing Unbroken, which shouldn't be at all different from my other reading lately, ha. But don't worry- I'm going to try hard to drag the discussion around to Twilight!!

I had a mini-book club in the break room at work today during lunch. Luckily, several of my coworkers are fellow avid YA saga readers, so we had an excellent discussion about some of our favorites. I'm trying to pick what saga to tackle next, and as boring as it may seem, I'm pretty sure I'm just going to reread Harry Potter. I know I mentioned this a few months ago, but I still think it's my best bet. I need to read more slowly this time and actually absorb more. But I might wait til I go to the beach this summer to do it. Patience, grasshopper.

In non-book news...ummm...well, there's not much. We haven't slept in a few nights, so that's something new. Millie hasn't put us through that since she was about 6 weeks old, so I'm sorely out of practice...but she's been running a fever, and apparently fevers and sleep don't mix. We got her to the doc today and discovered that she has a sinus infection, which is something that I definitely did not think babies could get. It sounds so old! Anyway, that's the explanation for the fever and general fussiness, so hopefully her delicious pink amoxicillin will get everything cleared up and she'll feel better soon. Oh, and she'll sleep. 

Don't worry, though- when she isn't burning alive or refusing to be put down, she's up to her regularly scheduled adorable antics. My current favorite, of course, is babbling mamamamama. I'm pretty sure that nothing will ever beat that. Oh, except for when she says mamamama while reaching her arms up to me. Be still my little heart.

And that about wraps up some of the least exciting (to you!) days ever. Oh! I did take a few hours out of my busy reading/snuggling schedule to go to Amanda's baby shower yesterday!! Naturally, I didn't take any pictures (because I was busy talking to friends about Twilight, of course), but I can promise you that it made my heart SO very happy to be celebrating Amanda and sweet (and adorable!! and blonde-eyelashed!) Garrison. Sometimes it blows my mind that we've both brought home our miracle babies within seven months of each other. It's just crazy. The best kind of crazy. 

And now I'm off to watch Breaking Dawn Part 1, because a girl's gotta have priorities, you see. Have a great week!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

snippets of life

I'm pretty sure I'm winning the Worst Blogger award over here. Hands down. I'll spare you my laundry list of excuses reasons and focus instead on my current second-favorite reason I'm not blogging (first-favorite being the cute baby, obviously): because I'm catching up with 2008, yo!

I like to be really behind when it comes to popular book/movie franchises. See also: I just read/watched Harry Potter last summer. Anyway. Last week Matt and I noticed that Twilight was on Netflix and we discussed how neither of us had either seen it. Also, Matt was begging me to please NOT watch another episode of my current super-embarrassing show of I decided to appease him by opting for Twilight instead. So we watched it and I loved it!!

So on Friday (I had the day off) I went to the library and got the first book and the second and third movies, and long story all of my spare time is being spent catching up on everyone's favorite vampire love story from a decade ago. Woo! Is everyone already sick of talking about it? Because now that I know what's up, I'm ready to debate. My deepest apologies to my office-mate/friend who gets to hear my running commentary of thoughts as I wade through the franchise.

So anyway...I'm reading YA novels into the wee hours of the morning, thus I do not make time to do things like write about my weekend and my cute baby. Shameful. 

At any rate...

Between Palm Sunday and Easter weekends, we got to see ALL of our siblings and nieces and nephews! That means Millie got to have some exciting Cousin Time!

My niece Carley was all about helping "Mill-Mill" with her paci. It was rather precious.

Millie and Laney are old enough to notice each other now! They had fun "playing" (ya know, chewing toys) together and cuddling on the couch.

 Millie and Eliana also had fun playing together...although Millie seemed pretty jealous of Eliana's ability to crawl. Also, her hair. Or maybe that's just me.

We took advantage of our day off last Friday and went to the UGA Vet School's open house. They had a lot of cool animals there, which was right up Millie's little animal-loving alley.

In less thrilling news, Millie had her first school picture day. Apparently it was boring and slightly repulsive?

These pictures really crack me up. But I'm going to need to get a second job so that I can afford to buy all of the amazing photo-emblazoned mouse pads...and locker magnets...and dog tags. Truly. So many magical things to purchase.

Easter came and went and it was wonderful. Millie wore a ridiculously bright dress and she couldn't have been any cuter. I love her face in this she was just so over our photo session or something?

Life is just peachy. We don't do many things that would conventionally be considered exciting, but in between working and errands and sleeping and Twilight-reading, we manage to have a lot of fun.

We come home and play on the bed and apparently it's pretty great.

When the weather is nice, I don't even bother to change out of my work clothes before we head out for a walk. Millie is my favorite accessory to wear!

Maybe one day soon I'll finish vampire love dramas and have more time to sit down and write...or maybe I'll just find some other decade-old book saga to plow through, who knows.

Now...let's all pretend it's 2008 and Twilight is something new that we all want to talk about! Tell me: are you Team Edward or Team Jacob? Oh yeah, and I'm not even done reading Book 2 (but have watched Movie 2), so feel free to not spoil things when you weigh in, ha! I'm trying this new thing where I don't go immediately read the Wiki for the final book to see how it all's tough, but I'm trying to stay strong.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

eight months!

Millie is EIGHT months old today!!

It also happens to be Easter and Matt's birthday today, hence the lateness of this post. Lucky for her, she's entirely too cute for me to skip doing a picture-heavy monthly update!

In short, her eighth month was totally awesome. This is definitely the best age ever and I would like her to pause here permanently. I know I say that every month, but this time I really mean it. Like reallyreallyreally. I just want to gather her up and run to find the Fountain of Youth, wherever it may be, and fill up her bottle with whatever's in it. Really. And then she'll drink it all, because that's what she does when she meets a bottle.

Hey! Who you talkin' about?
Aliases: No changes here. Millie, Mills, Millsie, Nuggie, Nugs, Snugs.

Have you ever seen anyone more snuggier than me?
Stats: She had a quick visit to the doctor on Friday to get a shot, but that meant we got to be weighed- she's 20 pounds and 5 ounces. Which is actually a teeny bit less than she weighed for last month's update (20 pounds 7 ounces)...I'm guessing all of her nonstop jumping and general snugginess can account for burning a lot of calories? At any rate, she's not in danger of being called skinny anytime soon.

Still in mostly nine-month clothes and size three disposables. I have recently confirmed, however, that her feet are truly itty-bitty and not remotely proportional to the rest of her. I suspected her feet were pretty small since she's been wearing the same pair of shoes since she was about 4 months old...but I confirmed it when I bought her a pair of summer sandals the other day. They're size 6-9 months, and they are like flippers on her.

Don't laugh! I have tiny nuggie feet!
You can't tell, but there's also about a spare inch of shoe width-wise as well. Sooo...back to the store, got some newborn sized shoes, and we're back in business. Maybe we'll wear these next summer, ha.

  • Eating: Well, she's a fan. She gets five 7-ounce bottles of formula (with a splash of prune or apple juice to keep things moving) each day plus table food at dinner and usually some yogurt at breakfast. On weekends, she eats table food with us for each meal!

I reallllllly like yogurt, Mommy! Is it time for breakfast again yet?
She's doing awesome with baby-led weaning still- she TOTALLY has the hang of picking up food, putting it in her mouth, and chewing. Swallowing is still hit-or-miss, but she's definitely swallowing some now...and gagging a lot less, so all signs are pointing in the right direction! She has super awesome hand-eye coordination now as well as really good fine motor skills (compared to other babies her age that I've watched), so I attribute that to the BLW. Really, my favorite thing about it is that it's just so much fun for all of us. Meals aren't frustrating or full of power struggles (like I remember having when I would be babysitting and feel like the baby just HAD to finish a jar of food or something)...she eats and plays alongside us and so far seems to have a really positive relationship with food. She also makes HUGE messes, but a little cleaning is well worth it to me. Her favorites are strawberries, cucumbers, apples, pears, yogurt, broccoli, bananas, carrots, and oddly enough- dill pickles. She's tried tons more foods and hasn't seemed to dislike anything...although sometimes it seems that she prefers whatever is easiest to manipulate with her hands...which tends to be things that are less slippery and squishy. Avocado is still really hard for her!         

  • Sleeping: No real changes here. Awesome nighttime sleeper (8:30 p.m.-7:15 a.m. on weekdays, 8:30 p.m.-8:00 a.m.ish on weekends), hit-or-miss daytime napper. If she gets a combined total of 2 hours of daytime sleep during the week, I call it a win. On weekends, we can usually get her to nap a bit better. And even though she's a big girl now, she will still totally take a nap in mama's arms.

  • Bathing: Still her favorite. I am getting so excited that swimming season is so close!! She is going to LOVE it!
Likes: Oh, everything. Especially her mama and daddy! She's become pretty clingy this month and will take awhile to want anyone else to hold her (or even look at her- she's been known to burst out crying when people just get too close and look at her too hard!), but that definitely doesn't bother me too much! She LOVES being outside- sometimes she'll be cranky for no apparent reason, but even walking towards the front door will get her happy- and then once we're out, she's all good. But then if we have to go back in, it's bad. So I guess it's a double-edged sword. I hope this isn't indicative that she's going to prefer a lifetime of camping trips to serve as vacations...

She LOVES animals. All of them. Any of them. She wants to touch them all.

Otis!!! You are a beautiful animal, come lick my face and be my friend forever!

Mommy, I don't want to look at the camera again. I want to look at this camel. And take him home forever.
She also loves books, knocking over towers of blocks, going on walks (oh yeah, that's outside...), shaking toys that make sounds, and banging things together. Maybe she'll be a percussionist! A drum-playing, tent-camping, bibliophile veterinarian. That sounds about right.

Dislikes: Tummy time. Still no progress there, which also means no progress with learning to roll over or crawl. Oh well. Her lack of mobility is rather convenient for me and my not-remotely-childproofed house. She also does not seem to care for shoes that aren't her gold moccasins. Apparently wearing the same shoes for most of her life means that new shoes aren't really welcome.

I don't know what you see in these infant-sized leopard-print loafers, Mommy, but I'm not feeling it. I will take them off immediately and eat them instead.
 Other than that, she pretty much likes everything. Easy peasy, this one.

Undecided about: Other people holding her.

Special Skills: Babbling!! She is such a great talker now- she babbles dadadada most often, as well as tuh-tuh-tuh (but this only in a whisper voice, oddly, never loudly), blah blah blah, and as of TODAY- ummmmmamamama!! This means there is great potential that she will say mama someday! Woooo! 

Other skills (besides aforementioned things like eating) include having the most infectious laugh ever, being an amazing jumper and stander-upper (with help or something to balance on), and being a very happy independent player. She's always content to sit on the floor or bed with a few toys and books and entertain herself for quite some time- long enough to cook something or do some's great! She loves being played with, too, but she doesn't expect to be entertained or held by an adult all day long. I feel like that's a pretty good skill, ha.

Looking Forward: Ummm...well, all signs point towards her just getting cuter and cuter and smarter and funnier, so I'm looking forward to that. She's been drooling a lot more the past few days, so I'm wondering if she might be working on some new teeth. I don't really look forward to the teething part, but I do think that having some top teeth would help with her chewing and swallowing food! I'm mostly just looking forward to the lovely spring/early summer weather that lets us play outside in the evenings and will soon let us swim! Also, she has about 20 little shorts romper sets that I'm dying for her to wear, let's be honest. I need the summer weather so that we can make it through her wardrobe.

 Did you ever have a teacher write So-and-so is a joy to have in class on your progress report or report card as a kid? I always thought that was the lamest comment. A joy to have in class. Okay, thanks. But then a lot of years went by and I became a teacher and I understood what my teachers meant back then. Some kids really are just a joy to have in class. It's not cheesy or empty's just true. And so often, this is just how I sum up Millie. She is a joy. A joy to have in my house. In our family. Her teachers- yup, they say she's a joy to have in class. She's a joy to take to a restaurant, to tote around Target, to push in a swing. She brings so much joy to everyone who sees her (and the few that get to hold her, ha)...I just can't even describe it. I don't know what goes on in babies' brains or how they process things or feel when they're this tiny, but I hope and pray that she actually feels as joyful and happy as she acts...and as joyful and happy as she causes other people to feel in return. My sweet Camilla...what a treasure.