Thursday, July 29, 2010

recent visit with Elizabeth

Have you ever been so tired you can't sleep? I know that doesn't make sense. But here I am at 2 a.m., completely drained and exhausted, but yet I cannot sleep. In the morning I have a dentist appointment. It's just for a routine cleaning, but I am a dental phobic so I'm stressing a little bit. But I don't think that's why I am awake, considering this sleep pattern is becoming almost normal for me. I can't remember the last time I've had a good, solid night of sleep.

Anyway, on Tuesday I picked up Elizabeth for her ultrasound. I've posted the latest photo here. The perinatologist is saying we should definitely go by the Dec. 10 due date, not Dec. 17, which means Elizabeth is more than halfway through the pregnancy! She will be 21 weeks along this Friday. Only 19 weeks until her due date, and Elizabeth said that in her previous pregnancy she was two weeks early.

The attorney spoke to the landlord on Monday, and things seem to have calmed down in her apartment building. The doctor's office was very busy so Elizabeth and I wound up spending a lot of time together on Tuesday. I really do believe she is a good person who has just had a rough life. I'm so glad that I feel this way, because if Baby S ever asks about her biological mother, I will honestly be able to tell her that I met her mother and I really liked her, and that she wanted a better life for her child than she could provide. I'm thinking of asking Elizabeth if I can take a picture of her when I see her next month, in case Baby S would ever like to see her.

The doctor appointment yesterday went well. Baby S was extremely active as usual, and the technician measured her heart, her brain, her arms and legs. Everything is forming as it should be, and everything is proportionate. The only concern the doctor had is that Baby S is small. The doctor said she is in the 10th percentile in weight/size. But we were told that some babies are small at this stage and gain weight toward the end. She was also advised once again to quit smoking, as that could be contributing to the small size of Baby S. Elizabeth said she is down to 6 cigarettes a day and promises by next week to be down to 4 a day. She seems to really be trying to quit. After the appointment, Elizabeth was hungry and I offered to buy her lunch. She asked me if we could go to McDonald's, saying that is a treat for her. She thanked me several times, unnecessarily. She called me today to thank me for yesterday. In all, I think we spent almost four hours together, and it was a good day. She is warm person, and is very grateful, and seems to truly want a good life for Baby S.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


I'm exhausted. Today and this weekend were filled with drama.

The part that relates to this blog was when I spoke to Elizabeth Monday morning. I called her to find out what time she'd like me to pick her up on Tuesday as I am taking her for her ultrasound. While we were speaking she told me about her neighbors who have been harassing her. They are not able to have children. They live in the same building as her, so they are obviously not in the best financial situation so traditional adoption is not an option for them. They have been pressuring Elizabeth about her baby, saying things like "They aren't your friends. We are," and telling her they want her to give them her baby instead of us. She gave them our attorney's telephone number and suggested they call the attorney if they want to adopt, which I think was a smart move on Elizabeth's part. She said it has gotten to the point where she has to sneak out of the building because if they see her they come running out to beg her for her baby. She is also having some problems with the landlord, as she she has called to complain about the neighbors and she says he seems very annoyed with her phone calls. On Sunday Elizabeth accidentally locked herself out of her apartment, and kept calling her landlord, and he never returned her phone call. It was very hot outside, and she wound up breaking the small window next to the front door so that she could get inside. He called the attorney on Monday and said he wants $95 to fix the window, which of course would come from us. Our attorney went there late Monday afternoon to speak to the landlord in person and to try to get a feel for what is going on in that apartment building. I will be talking to her in the morning before I pick Elizabeth up for the doctor appointment to find out the update on the situation.
I'm thinking there is a good chance Elizabeth will have to move to a new apartment. Stay tuned...

Monday, July 26, 2010

Seeing Baby S again tomorrow :)

As you can see, I've posted a few ultrasound photos of Baby S. Tomorrow I am going with Elizabeth for the follow-up appointment at the high-risk doctor. We already got the amnio results back so we know everything is fine, but they wanted to take some more measurements when she was about 20 weeks along. They will also be doing another ultrasound, so I'll get to see Baby S again on the monitor. :)

As of last Friday, Baby S weighs about 8 1/2 ounces and is about the size of a large heirloom tomato. Her brain is now designating specialized areas for smell, taste, hearing, vision and touch. Her arms and legs are in the right proportions to each other and the rest of her body now. Her kidneys continue to make urine and the hair on her scalp is sprouting. A waxy protective coating called the vernix caseosa is forming on her skin to prevent it from pickling in the amniotic fluid.

Elizabeth is about halfway through the pregnancy now. Baby S will be here before we know it! :)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

baby naming & conversion

I spoke to the rabbi this week. He is the one that actually referred us to the adoption attorney with whom we are working. I had originally thought we would do the baby naming in the synagogue for Baby S toward the end of December. The rabbi explained that he can't do the baby naming until after she is converted to Judaism. Because the conversion involves being immersed completely in water briefly, he leaves it up to the pediatrician as far as when that is safe for the baby. He said it is usually a few months, although he did see one pediatrician approve it as early as when the baby was two weeks old, but said that is very rare and that most likely it will be when she is 3-4 months old.

So it looks like we will do the conversion and baby naming sometime in April. Passover begins April 18, so it will either have to be before or after that. I also learned that our niece who is away in college wants to be there, and the semester ends on April 28, so there is a chance we may wait until early May, also depending on when the rabbi is available. I also still need to check with any family from out of town that may want to be here for it, and find out what dates are most convenient for them. Also because the adoption takes between 90-120 days to be finalized in the courts, the timing seems almost perfect. As of right now, our plan is to do the conversion and baby naming around the same time as when the adoption is finalized. Whomever would like to be there for the baby naming ceremony itself is more than welcome, and then that same weekend we are planning to have a celebration party that is threefold: celebrating the finalization, the naming and the conversion. I'm expecting that to be an emotional weekend.

Friday, July 23, 2010

my father

I miss my dad tonight. Of course, I miss him every day. But he has been especially on my mind lately.

Maybe it's because of the "S" name. I am so happy to be naming the baby after my father. To this day, I have never met another person as dedicated to his family as he was to our family. He worked so hard his whole life, wanting to give all of us whatever we needed. I remember when the rabbi was asking us questions about him before the funeral, and when he asked what our father's favorite hobby was, the answer was easy. His favorite hobby was us: his family. We are what made him happy and proud.

So although I am so happy to be honoring my father by naming our child after him, I hate that there is a reason to name a child after him. It makes me so sad that he will never meet Baby S. She will hear all about him, and she will learn all about the great man she was named after, but of course that won't be the same as actually knowing him.

Yesterday my mother said that my three siblings and I definitely inherited being hardworking people from my father. She even went on to say that her four children are "workaholics." I suppose in a way she is right. Our parents raised us to learn how to be self-sufficient. They always said that we either needed to go to college, or to learn a trade. My oldest sister became an accountant at 21 years old, and later became a CPA. She was extremely hardworking right from the beginning, and became a partner in her firm at a very young age. She has two beautiful daughters, and she plays an extremely active role in their lives, such as being a troop leader for her younger daughter's Girl Scout troop. My next oldest sister became a teacher. We all know how hard teachers work. We also all know that teachers (like writers) do the job because they love it, not for the money. My sister has earned several different certifications so that she can teach children with many different needs. She has always been supportive of her daughter's dreams and goals. Career-wise, my brother followed in my father's footsteps, even though it wasn't necessarily what my father wanted for him, because he wanted him to have an easier life than he had. My brother works very hard, six to seven long days each week, while supporting his four children, one of whom is autistic. As for me, I will do whatever I need to do in order to meet my deadlines. It is far from unheard of for me to stay up all night a few times a week if that's what needs to be done. This year for the first time, I stopped working for a newspaper full-time and branched out on my own to work for myself. I have three clients (a lifestyle magazine, a newspaper and a trade publication) and I work hard coordinating the three jobs, but I thrive under the pressure.

My mother says we all definitely get this from our father. That makes me smile. I hope he knows what a mark he left on all of us. I also hope wherever he is, that he is watching us and is proud of us all. And I desperately hope that he will get to see Baby S, and that he will be proud of me for making a family, even if it isn't in the most traditional way. I often ask my mother what my father would have thought of us adopting a baby, and she always tells me he would loved her in the same way he loved his biological grandchildren. Considering how much that was, that is more than good enough for me.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Java, an update and registering

Every time we think Java is getting better, he seems to still to be sick. He has a big appetite again, which I think is a good sign considering a few days ago he wouldn't even go near food or water. But he is having trouble keeping some of the food down, so I am trying to only let him eat a little bit at a time. I feel so bad for our poor baby. But he is at least acting like himself and wanting to play again. A few days ago all he wanted to do was sleep, so I think he is at least getting better.

I also realized today that I never added last Friday's 18-week update about Baby S to my blog, and it's already almost time for the 19-week update. So going back to last week, Baby S was about the length of a bell pepper-- 5 1/2 inches long and weighing about 7 ounces. As of last week, she is busy flexing her arms and legs. Her blood vessels are visible through her thin skin, and her ears are now in their final position, although they're still standing out from her head a bit. A protective covering of myelin is beginning to form around her nerves, a process that will continue for a year after she's born. What I found amazing is that her uterus and fallopian tubes are formed and in place.

Tonight we went to Buy Buy Baby and registered. It was a little overwhelming, but lots of fun. We were there for three hours. I may have to go back through our list online and delete some things, because I let Steven have control of the scanning gun, and I think he got a little "scanning happy." :)

Monday, July 19, 2010

the all-nighter with Java

It's almost 6 a.m. and I'm still awake. We wound up taking our little Italian greyhound, Java, to the animal hospital at 1 a.m. and didn't get home until 3:30 a.m. We still aren't sure if he got into something and eaten something he shouldn't have or if he has a virus, or something else. They did blood work and it was OK so we know it's not an infection, but he has a temperature of 104.8 (100-102 is normal for dogs) and he had been throwing up nonstop. I was going to wait to take him to the vet until the morning, until it started having blood in it, and we got nervous. In addition to having a temperature, he is dehydrated, so they gave him an injection of fluids and an injection of some medication since he was not able to keep anything down. Now he is not allowed to have water until noon, and then a bland diet of boiled chicken and rice in the evening. He has 3 prescriptions I need to start giving him with the food tomorrow night, if he keeps everything down. If not, he may need to go back to the vet for more tests. Meanwhile, every 10 minutes he thinks he needs to go out even though he completely empty, (sorry if this is too much information) so I am up taking him outside every 10 minutes. The magazine is done, so I do not need to go into the office today. I was planning on getting to work on some freelance stuff from home. So when we got home from the vet I told Steven to go to sleep since he has to get up early, and I am monitoring Java like the vet recommended. Maybe Java thought we needed to be prepared for taking care of any long nights that may be in our future with Baby S. I just hope he's OK. Ugh - I'm tired. Maybe this time he'll actually sleep, and let me sleep.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Awesome news!!

The amnio results came back on Thursday. Baby S is healthy and everything looks great!!
We couldn't be happier. We are planning to go to Buy Buy Baby this weekend, and start looking, and maybe start a registry. I am very superstitious so I wanted to wait to do anything like that until we knew everything was OK.

We are also trying to decide which one of the bedrooms will belong to Baby S. One room is yellow, and the other is blue, so if we choose the blue room, we'll have to paint it either pink or yellow. The blue room is larger than the yellow room, so it's just a decision if the home office should be larger or if the baby's room should be larger.

These are all decisions I am happy we have to make. Too bad all decisions in life can't be based on such a happy event. I've gone though enough sad times in my life, and I'm glad to say this is "our time."

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

small update

Elizabeth called me again this morning. She said she had a long talk with her neighbor and his wife last night, and worked everything out, and that she has decided not to move. She said they apologized to her, and invited her over for a barbecue this weekend.

She said that Baby S is extremely active, and is moving around like crazy. She said we should be prepared that this baby is going to keep us very busy, and we should get our rest now.

I also today spoke to the bookkeeper directly for the first time at the attorney's office, instead of talking to her through the attorney. She was extremely nice, and said that if I ever have any questions regarding the financial part of the process that I can feel free to contact her directly.

I'm extremely tired tonight, and I am heading to bed now. Hopefully I will sleep better tonight than I did last night, which won't take much considering how little I slept last night. Things are busy at the magazine this week as we are getting ready to send the August issue to the printer by Monday morning.

Sorry folks, this is a long one....

For the most part, things are going very well. We are getting really excited for Baby S to be part of our family, and are making so many plans. We are pretty sure on a name, but are waiting to share it with the world until she is here. Sorry - but you all have to stay in suspense. :)

Elizabeth called me today, and we had a good conversation. She keeps telling me how happy she has been since we met, and how at peace she feels about everything. She has invited me to be in the room when the baby is born, and said she wants the baby handed directly to me, and wants me to take her out of the room as soon as possible. She does not want to hold her or see her. I feel for her, and can't imagine what that moment will be like for her. I will see Elizabeth again in two weeks, for her next doctor's appointment. At this time Elizabeth will be about 20 weeks along, and halfway through the pregnancy. We should have the amnio results early next week, but for some reason I am not worried about them. The doctor took measurements of every part of Baby S, from her brain to her heart, to her arms and legs. He said everything looked great, and at this point the measurement of the brain is most important, and that he didn't think we had anything to worry about.

Elizabeth is moving into a new apartment in a couple of weeks. She doesn't feel safe where she is living. She said that her next-door neighbor is harassing her, and she heard gunshots on Sunday night. She called her landlord and he told her about another apartment he owns in a safer neighborhood, and it will be available soon. Unfortunately, it is $100 more a month than her current apartment, but at least he is transferring her security deposit. It is a one-bedroom apartment; right now she is living in an efficiency. She told me today that she is planning on getting a job after the baby is born, and wants to stay in the apartment afterward. For her sake, I hope she does.

Our lawyer wants us to keep paying the same amount each month, even though her rent is a little less than we originally estimated. They keep a careful ledger and send it to us monthly so we can see where the money is spent, and how much is left each month. The way it works is they have set up a trust account for each adoption, with each account holding the money from the adoptive parents. Payments for each adoption are made from each individual trust account. There is a separate account that is kept for the lawyer's fees for each adoptive couple. Our lawyer explained that anything extra that is left in our birth mother trust account at the end will be applied toward the final legal fees, which will make it less we have to pay in the end. I suppose this is OK. What is the difference, really? One way or another we will be paying it, anyway. And with the new apartment Elizabeth is moving into, it is really only about $125 less a month than we originally estimated anyway. When you are talking about $50,000 when all is said and done for the adoption (yes you read that correctly) what's the difference at that point?

My friend, Stacey, (I know you are reading this so if you mind me mentioning your name, let me know) said that she knows it is different for her to say this considering she isn't the one spending the money, but if in the end Elizabeth signs the paper and we get to take home Baby S, it will be all worth it. Of course she is right, and I love her for reminding me of this amazing fact. When I think of Baby S in our home, upstairs in the room we are planning for her, I feel warm inside. I know she will complete our family that is already happy. We'll just be even happier. :)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

17 week update (and some other stuff)

Yesterday Elizabeth was 17 weeks along in her pregnancy, although the high-risk doctor is still sticking to the Dec. 10 due date, which would have made her 18 weeks along. The attorney spoke to regular OB, who said that when in doubt to go by the first ultrasound, which put her due date at Dec. 17, so that is what I am going by. The high-risk doctor told me not to make any plans for December though, because of the due date mix-up, and because Elizabeth delivered one week early the last time she gave birth. She also had a very quick delivery. (The baby was apparently half-out in the car, and she never even had time for any time of pain medication.) Elizabeth has said that I can be in the room with her when she delivers, joking though that I may not make it on time because of how fast she delivers. I have gotten a pre-paid cell phone for Elizabeth to call me, and she has promised to call me as soon as she goes into labor so we can go to the hospital. We have had one phone conversation since we met, and it was very comfortable and reassuring. She even called the attorney after we met, telling her that she really loved meeting me and thinks I am going to be an amazing mother, and that she couldn't be happier. :)

Anyway, back to where I started. Baby S' skeleton is now changing from soft cartilage to bone, and the umbilical cord — her lifeline to the placenta — is growing stronger and thicker. She weighs 5 ounces now (about as much as a turnip), and she's around 5 inches long from head to bottom. She can move her joints, and her sweat glands are starting to develop.

On Monday I have to call the attorney to straighten out some financial stuff. We just got the monthly ledger in the mail about the costs for Elizabeth's care this month, and the amount due on our upcoming monthly payment. The amount is the same as originally discussed, even though Elizabeth was approved for food stamps since then, and even though her rent is $225 than we originally estimated. Hopefully they will not give me a hard time. The truth is that the legal fees are much more than supporting Elizabeth throughout the entire pregnancy. It's unbelievable how much the attorney will earn from this. "But it is what it is." I try not to get too wrapped up in the money part since in the end I know it will be worth it.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

just a "little" piece of news to share :)

I am finally settling down to write now, at about 1:30 a.m. Today was a long and emotional day, but in a good way. I met Elizabeth and she was not at all what I expected, again in a good way. She was easy to talk to, comfortable to be around, funny, warm, smart and someone I might have even been friends with in a different life.

The ultrasound was amazing. The perinatologist had all of the latest high-tech equipment, so in addition to the regular ultrasound, Elizabeth had a 3D ultrasound. Baby S was extremely active today, and was dancing and playing all over the place. :) The doctor said that of course we have to wait for the actual amnio results for confirmation, but that everything looked really great, and that we should feel really confident and reassured from everything he saw today! :)

I honestly have tons I want to share about today, but I am emotionally exhausted from today, and will update more tomorrow with lots of details about meeting Elizabeth.

But before I go, I just want to share one small detail about Baby S... Are you ready?? Here it goes.....

She's a GIRL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, July 5, 2010

The perfect day, despite the bad weather

Today was a good day. It poured all day and we didn't do too much. But it was very relaxing. And it was just the two of us.
After slowly getting our acts together and getting out of the house, we ran a couple of errands to get Steven a new flash drive that was on sale (since the one he's been using for the past couple of years is now being held together by scotch tape), and a couple of things we needed for the house. There was a Star Wars marathon on TV Saturday night and all day today, and we stayed in watching most of the movies. The rain finally stopped so we went out to watch fireworks, stopped for ice cream, and came home to find our greyhound, Penny, hiding in the bathroom. Between the storms we had all day and the fireworks all night, she was terrified, and for some reason decided the best place to hide was in the upstairs bathroom between the litter box and the bathtub. We finally got her out just before there was another boom outside, which landed her right back into the bathroom. It took tons of coaxing to get her out again, and even more to get her outside for a walk. We then watched some more Star Wars. It was a quiet, relaxing day, and it was really nice.
Last year at this time, I think it saddened us a little bit when we saw families with young children watching fireworks together. But this year, there were a few times when saw a couple with a very young child in awe of the fireworks, and each time Steven and I just looked at each other and smiled, knowing that will be us next year. And it wasn't sad at all. It was happy and comforting.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

This time next year

Lately, if I am doing something special, I find myself looking forward to the next time I do it more so than being happy for the present time. For example, I really like the Fourth of July. I like watching fireworks, and being with a crowd of people who are happy celebrating our country's independence. It's rare to see people break out into a fight during a fireworks show. Usually if you look around you will see people staring up the sky and smiling, and you see children's faces filled with awe. So although I am definitely excited that today is the Fourth of July, I find myself looking more forward to next Fourth of July, because I think to myself (and sometimes aloud to Steven) "Next Fourth of July, we'll have Baby S with us."

Saturday, July 3, 2010

16 weeks and an avocado

If the Dec. 17th due date is accurate (I've heard it may change again at the amnio), Elizabeth was 16 weeks along on Friday. This means Baby is about the size of an avocado––four-and-a-half inches long, and weighs three-and-a-half ounces. Baby S has also started growing toenails this week, and his or her heart pumps about 25 quarts of blood each day. In the next few weeks, Baby S will have a huge growth spurt, and will double his or her weight and add inches to his or her length. His or her legs are also more developed this week.

Elizabeth has decided to meet me at the doctor's office on Tuesday, about 30 minutes before the amnio is scheduled so we can sit and chat beforehand. Afterward, I'll drive her home. I'm hoping to get to know her a little bit, in addition to meeting the doctor, and of course seeing Baby S on the screen and hearing his or her heartbeat. :)

Friday, July 2, 2010

Heading to sleep at last

It's about 12:30 a.m. and I have no idea how I am still awake and functioning. I wound up pulling an actual all-nighter last night, like the kind you pull when you are in college studying for finals. I went to sleep at 7:30 a.m. Thursday morning after working ALL night. I then slept until about 10:30 a.m. and got up and went to work at the magazine, stopped at Publix on my way home from work, made dinner, and did a little more work for my other freelance job at the newspaper. I'm finally about to go to sleep, and though it will probably be close to 1 a.m. before I fall asleep, I think this may be my earliest night this week.

Our attorney is out of town this week and next week. Tomorrow I am expecting to speak with the paralegal in her office to work out the details for me being with Elizabeth for the amnio on Tuesday. We have left it up to Elizabeth if she wants to meet me at the doctor's office, or if she would like me to pick her up, and maybe have lunch and chat for a little while before the appointment. Either way, I will be offering to drive her home after the appointment. She does not have a car and needs to take three buses to get to the perinatologist who will be performing the procedure. After the amnio, she is supposed to rest as much as possible for about two days, as there is a 1 in 400 chance of miscarriage from amnios. That's a scary thought, but the amnio is important, and is 100 percent accurate in diagnosing abnormalities, such as Down syndrome. We are praying that Baby S is a healthy baby. That is what is most important to us.