Thursday, September 30, 2010

not having a good day

I'm feeling down in the dumps today. I'm in a lot of pain. It seems worse again the past couple of days. My physical therapist said that it's probably due to all of the rain we have been having.

In addition to all of the other drama with Elizabeth, she spent last night in the hospital. She has had a bad cold and last night she felt like she couldn't breathe, and called 911 and took an ambulance to the hospital. It turns out she has a bad case of bronchitis, and was dehydrated. They kept her overnight on IV fluids, and IV antibiotics, and discharged her today with a couple of prescriptions. While she was in the hospital they did an ultrasound and tons of blood work and said that everything is great with the baby. The night before this Elizabeth called me to say hello. I was super sweet to her, and she was just as nice to me. But inside I was screaming because I know I can't trust her. She didn't mention anything about shopping around to get more money for the baby. I didn't expect her to.

One of my freelance jobs has not been going well. There is a ton of office drama there and it's been extremely stressful, and I am not sure it is even worth what they are paying me. I am putting feelers out there to see if I can pick up extra work somewhere else, so I'll see what happens there.

Steven and I often feel that we are alone in this adoption process, and that people really do not understand what we are going through. I guess it's difficult to truly understand any situation unless you are in it, though. It's just that we are investing so much emotion, time and thousands and thousands of dollars into this, and all we want in the end out of it all is to be parents. We are so scared that will never happen for us.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

no longer trust Elizabeth

Our attorney got an email from another adoption attorney, telling her that Elizabeth had contacted him. He said he knows that she was already working with Elizabeth, but that Elizabeth had said she wanted to consult with him, too. Our attorney, I'll call her "M," called Elizabeth, who told M that she needed more more money, and that the other attorney told her that if she switched to him, he could give her $50 more a week than she is getting from us. Elizabeth told M that she really likes me, and felt bad about contacting the other attorney, but she had to think about herself.

Because her rent and bills are about $400 month less than we originally anticipated, giving Elizabeth the additional $50 a month is manageable. And because Elizabeth only has about 10 more weeks of her pregnancy, in addition to the 6 weeks of care after the birth she is promised, that extra $50 a week comes to about $800, which isn't that much money considering all of the thousands of dollars we've already invested.

Elizabeth, though, is starting to now question how much she is getting after the baby is born, even though all along she knew she gets 6 weeks of support, and that's it.

After learning that by staying with us, she can be matched with the amount bidded by the other attorney, Elizabeth canceled her meeting with the other attorney, and our attorney contacted the other attorney and confirmed this, but now we know Elizabeth is not trustworthy, and was trying to "shop around" to see if she could get more money somewhere else. This is very scary, but an adoption contract is extremely high-risk for the adoptive parents, and the birth mother has all of the rights.

Meanwhile, I spoke to Elizabeth twice over the weekend, and she didn't mention any of this to me and acted as sweet as normal. Our attorney has said that I should not bring this up with Elizabeth, and if she tries to bring it up with me that all conversations about money have to go through the attorney.

The truth is that Elizabeth could keep taking money from us and having her bills paid, in addition to the things she needs such as when we had to fix her teeth, buy her furniture, move her a few times, etc. etc. etc., and then in the end she could give birth and call other attorneys and decide to just give the baby to someone else if they will give her money than she will get from us in the end. Or she could decide to keep the baby, which seems less likely. But regardless, anything can happen, and we could wind up losing a ton of money and not having a baby in the end.

All I can do is be super sweet when I speak to Elizabeth, and tell her how excited we are about the baby, and tell her about all our plans and dreams, and tell her about how happy our family members are to have a new addition, and hope that she has a conscience and does the right thing in the end.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

a butternut squash!

We had a busy day, and it was the most I've been out of the house in a long time. Baby Love has declared Chapter 11, and everything in the store is 35 percent off... well everything except the strollers and car seats. So today we bought a crib mattress, (we already have the crib and changing table, thanks to Steven's parents!), a diaper bag, and a crib mattress pad. We are going back for a diaper genie, after checking prices in other stores and realizing the deal at Baby Love for it was still cheaper than anywhere else will be. Then we came home so I could rest my back for a while and Steven had some work to do. We then went back out tonight to Wal-Mart to look at the Winnie-the-Poo bedding and mobile I saw at The items looked really nice, but the prices were cheaper online so I'm going to order it and just have it set up that we can pick it up at the store, since that way there is no charge for shipping. We then went out for dinner for the first time in almost 6 weeks, and although I was in a lot of pain it felt great to feel like we actually had a "date night."

I also spoke to Elizabeth today. She sounded very tired. She said that Baby S is extremely active, and said she can actually see when she kicks her on her stomach if she watches!! I find that so amazing. I can't believe the due date is now only 10 weeks and 5 days away. We paid the whopping check for Cobra insurance today, so once our insurance is re-set up, we will be getting physical exams, which is one of the last things we have left to do for the adoption process. I can't believe this is all happening so soon. It doesn't seem so long ago when we first matched with Elizabeth in May, although at that time December sounded so far away. We are so excited!

According to, Baby S is now about 2 1/2 pounds (like a butternut squash) and is a tad over 15 inches long from head to heel. Her muscles and lungs are continuing to mature, and her head is growing bigger to make room for her developing brain. Steven and I already talk about our hopes and dreams for Baby S. Of course, he wants her to be an athlete. I want her to have diversified interests and be "girly." But of course most importantly, we want her to be healthy and happy. I can't believe that in 2 and a half months we are going to be parents!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Time is ticking away

It's 1:30 a.m. and pain is keeping me awake as it does pretty much every night. Today marked four weeks since this began. My physical therapist has explained to me that the large separated disc fragment is wrapped around my S1 nerve, which is the nerve that runs from the lower back, down the back of the thigh, around to the outside of the leg down to the toes. The worst pain I have is in my foot. Part of my foot is numb, part feels like it has pins and needles, and I get shooting pains in my toes. It's lots of fun. (note the sarcasm.) He says that if the disc is to dissolve on its own, it would take a very long time, and we are working on aggressive exercises that are designed to pop the disc off of my nerve. That way even though I will still have the sequestered disc, it wouldn't be on my nerve causing these symptoms.

Today I drove myself to physical therapy. It is the first time I have driven in a month. It was uncomfortable, but it was nice to finally have some independence. My physical therapist is very knowledgeable and we are both hoping I won't end up needing a spinal fusion, but only time will tell. He did explain to me that if I wind up healing without surgery, I need to be aware that I will wind up with arthritis in my lower spine, and will lose a little height, since I will have very little disc separating the two vertebra where the disc broke apart. He also tells me during every visit, as both neurosurgeons I have seen have told me, that I should never get pregnant. It's hard to hear even though it didn't happen for us anyway, to know that it isn't safe for me to ever have children. But the truth is that right now, my biggest goal is to get better before Baby S arrives. She is mainly what I think about when I think about getting better and about the future. My therapist says that if I do get better without surgery, I will need to do certain exercises every day for the rest of my life, and will need to know that my lower back will always be unstable. This is still the better option than having surgery, because that could lead to pressure on my other discs above the fusion, which would cause more problems in other areas of my spine.

Tonight we were outside for a few minutes and the neighbor across the street came over to say hello. She said that the whole neighborhood has been gossiping, saying that we are getting a baby soon, but she wasn't going to believe it until she heard it directly from us, so we told her all about Baby S and how excited we are. We live in a very gossipy neighborhood that reminds me of Wisteria Lane from "Desperate Housewives." The women all stand on the street corners in the evening gossiping. We are friendly to them, but try to stay away from the cliques. Anyway, this neighbor across the street happens to be my favorite of the neighbors because she seems to be genuine, while most of the others seem to be phony. She was very excited for us when we told her about Baby S tonight, and she asked a lot of questions.

My friend, Mattie, found this amazing swing for a great deal last weekend. So now it is put together in our living room. It's pink and rocks back and forth while playing music and projecting butterflies in lights, in addition to have a mobile of butterflies. Every time I see it I smile, and it makes Baby S even more real to us. Elizabeth is due 11 weeks from Friday.

This week she had her gestational diabetes test, and she passed with flying colors. Elizabeth and Baby S are both doing very well. My mother is looking at patterns as she is getting ready to start knitting a sweater and hat for Baby S. Steven's grandmother is knitting a blanket for Baby S. She will be literally wrapped up in warmth and love.

Monday, September 13, 2010

another update

It's Monday morning. I finally fell asleep a little after 3 a.m. because the pain was not allowing me to sleep. Then after just three short hours of sleep, the pain woke me again at 6 a.m. I tried the heating pad in bed for a little while, before coming downstairs to use ice instead. I alternate and sometimes one works better than the other, and heat wasn't helping at all. So now I am laying on an ice pack and using my TENS unit, hoping the pain goes away soon.

Three weeks ago today we were in Disney World, and two days later I hurt my back again, so I am almost at the three-week mark. The only good thing about that is I am hoping that as time goes on this will get better. I was told I'd feel a bit better around 2 weeks, and then again at 6 weeks. I definitely felt a little better around the two-week mark, so I'm hoping to continue to get better over the next several weeks. It's honestly the worst at night. I do not know why pain is always worse at night.

I went into the office once for a couple of hours since this all began, and aside from that have been working from home. The magazine goes to press this Wednesday afternoon, so it's hoped I will be there this week. I am going to try to go in today for at least a couple of hours again. I need to call my mother and let her know my schedule, as she is driving me and picking me up. I hate feeling so dependent, but because it's my right leg that hurts so much, and because I have some numbness in my foot still, I do not feel comfortable driving yet. If it were my left leg, I think I would be driving by now.

But at least I am finally starting to get out of the house a little bit, which I'm thinking means I'm getting better. On Thursday I went to work for a couple of hours, and then to the doctor for my results. Over the weekend, Steven and I were able to run a few errands, including going grocery shopping.

On Saturday, my mother and I went to Baby Love, a very large local store for baby stuff. The store is family owned, and everyone there is extremely knowledgeable. I spoke to a man there about my back, and how I needed the lightest-weight stroller due to my back issues. (Once this gets better, I want to make sure this never happens again.) He was great, and told us that most strollers weigh about 30 pounds, but introduced me to a lightweight stroller that weighs about 15 pounds, and opens and closes extremely easy, made by Peg Perego. It has a matching car seat, and he suggested that I try to not take Baby S out of the car seat using the carrier, but instead just take her out alone, as the carriers themselves weigh about 10 pounds. This was a suggestion I also got from my sister, Glenda. We will still buy the matching car seat, in which the carrier fits directly into the stroller for times when Steven and I are together, or when I need to keep her in the carrier for some reason when I'm alone and have no choice, but I am expecting to not use the carrier myself too often.

We also found some great Winnie the Pooh stuff in Walmart that we will purchasing soon. We have decided that the theme to her room will be the Winnie the Poo gang (Winnie, Tigger, Eeyore and Piglet) and we saw a really cute bedding set and mobile and extra sheets in Walmart that were price significantly better than similar items we saw at the baby stores.

Elizabeth is due in 12 weeks and 4 days!! We are so excited to soon be meeting Baby S!

Friday, September 10, 2010

MRI update

I believe this is the first year in my life that I have not gone to synagogue for Rosh Hashana.
My MRI results showed one VERY large ruptured disc, and one sequestered disc. Sequestered means that the disc went one step farther than rupturing and actually broke apart, meaning I have a piece of the disc material in my spine. (Sorry if this too much information for some of you reading.) The hope is that my body will absorb the disc material, which is sitting on the nerve root that runs down my right leg, foot and toes, which is where I have the most pain. This could take another month, or longer, or it could wind up never happening on it's own and could lead to surgery. Time will tell.
I will be starting physical therapy next week, and may also be having some spinal injections for the pain and swelling. Sounds fun, huh?
The only good part is that the surgeon wants me to try everything else first, and avoid surgery for now. I am also planning on trying some acupuncture, which will not help with the disc herniations, but may help with the muscle pain, swelling, and may help break up some of the scar tissue I have in my spine from my previous back surgery in 2003.
My doctor has said to me again that he thinks it is a blessing I never got pregnant, as it most likely would be very bad for my back to carry the weight of pregnancy. Maybe all things do happen for a reason.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

feeling a bit down

To say I am feeling down in the dumps lately is an understatement. I am scared. For the past two weeks I have been in terrible pain. The pain is getting better but is being replaced by numbness and tingling, which scares me more than the pain does. I do not want to have back surgery. The recovery is terrible, and we have a baby on the way. I want to care for her and be the best mother I can be. The past two weeks I have not even been able to barely care for myself.

I have had two good conversations with Jackie, the physician's assistant at the neurosurgeon's office. Jackie said that what I am describing is an irritated nerve and it will get better, but will just take some time. When I speak to her it calms me down, but before long I am a wreck again. My mother keeps telling me that if surgery was my only option to recover, then I wouldn't be getting even a little better on my own. This helps me feel better, too, but not enough. I have been working from home for two weeks, and have barely left the house aside from going for my MRI on Thursday, going with Steven to the grocery store for a few things on Saturday, and going to the tmobile store yesterday when I was having cell phone problems, since I need the phone for work. One week ago I wouldn't have even been able to do those things, so I try to keep reminding myself of that and telling myself "see you are getting a little better!" even if I don't really believe it.

Wednesday afternoon I have an appointment with the neurosurgeon to go over my MRI results. This is the same doctor I saw in November who told me that he was reluctant to do a fusion on me since they are not always successful, and he thought if I went through physical therapy, followed by a yoga and pilates program I would feel a lot better. So I went to physical therapy, and did get a lot better, and continued to do all of the exercises and stretches on a daily basis that I was taught in therapy. I lost about 15 pounds since then, too. I hadn't yet gotten into a yoga or pilates program, but I was doing great. Then we went on vacation. I actually started to have a little pain before the trip, which I blamed on all the laundry and packing I was doing, I had a lot of pain during our trip, which I blamed on the long car rides, and by the time we came back I was just in agony. I am grateful it began the day we came home instead of while we are away.

The pain is worse at night, so I am not sleeping, and I think that sleep-deprivation might be what is making me a little crazy, scared and obsessed about my symptoms.

We did manage to complete our autobiographies, financial statements, and make copies of most of what is needed for the rest of our home study process, and got all of the items in the mail to the social worker today. So at least that is something productive! All we have left to do is send a copy of my birth certificate, and do our physical exams. I am waiting to do my physical until we are set on Cobra insurance, and until I can walk in without a back issue as I don't want that listed on my physical exam. I am hoping that after talking to the doctor tomorrow he will just tell me I will need to go back to physical therapy and that I will be OK again. That will make me feel better a lot emotionally, which in turn will probably make me feel better physically, too.

Baby S' bedroom is coming along. Right now it is still being used as an office, and Steven has been hard at work moving his comic book boxes into the coat closet downstairs, which we do not use considering we live in South Florida. We also purchased shelves for the garage and are putting some of the things in there, to clear up the room ... Well Steven is doing the work. I am just supervising. :) After that is done, we may move on to putting the crib and changing table together, which are in boxes in our garage. And once I am feeling better I am going to the baby store to discuss with them ideas for the lightest stroller, baby carrier, etc., so that I decrease the risk of hurting my back again. I am trying to look forward to these positive things!

I don't have any new updates on Elizabeth, but I think I will give her a call in a little while to see how she is doing. I last spoke to her on Thursday of last week. She seems happy in her new place, and promises to stay there for at least the remainder of her pregnancy. She says she wants to be stable, and has been very unhappy having to move so often. Since we matched with her in May, Elizabeth has lived in five places.

That's all for now. Until next time...

Saturday, September 4, 2010

long update

It's been a while since I've written here. It hasn't been an easy week. As you all know, we lost our cat, Loki, one week ago. It was a shock to us, as he was only 5 and a half years old. We miss him terribly. In addition, I threw out my back and haven't been able to leave the house in a week, aside from getting a new MRI on Thursday. I am guessing my herniated discs herniated more, but I won't find out until Wednesday when I go to the doctor with my MRI films. The pain is mainly in my leg, but it goes all the way to my toes and consists of pain, numbness and tingling. It's finally getting a little bit better, after a few days of crying myself to sleep from pain.

Before we lost Loki and I hurt my back, we had a great few days. We went to Orlando to celebrate our anniversary. We went to Animal Kingdom, Magic Kingdom, Sea World, Blue Man Group and Cirque De Solei. We stayed in a beautiful 1,200 square foot villa on a golf course, with a private balcony, and a jacuzzi and fireplace in our villa. The whole trip (hotel, theme parks, show tickets, etc.) was all free for us, in trade for me writing press reviews of the hotel and all the events. It will be a lot of work, but worth it as we need to spend as little money as possible right now, with the ongoing adoption. Again, something else that we know will be more than worth the expense.

Steven got let go from his job last week, but he had a feeling it was coming and had been already looking for another job, and actually already had an offer waiting at the time his employer let him go. He starts on Tuesday. The only issue is that we have to go on Cobra for insurance for 90 days, as his new job waits 90 days before giving us health insurance. It takes about two weeks for us to be on Cobra, and then it's retroactive from the time they let him go, so any medical expenses that come up between now and then we will have to pay upfront and then be reimbursed. Luckily I had the MRI the day before all of this happened, or I would have to postpone it. It does mean we have to put off our physicals (which we need for the adoption process) for another couple of weeks.

As for Elizabeth, we lost some money recently. She finally moved to a new place, to rent a room from a friend of hers whose mother passed away. Her friend told Elizabeth he was left the house in the will, and rented her a room for a great price. Elizabeth was very happy because she felt comfortable with her friend Ross, a gay RN she has known for years. He gave her a price of $600 per month including all utilities and no security deposit. Her previous apartment was $675 per month, and we were just happy she was finally moving away from her crazy neighbors. Well three days after she moved into the new place, our attorney received a call from Ross' sister, explaining that the house was actually left to her and not Ross, and he had no right to rent her the room, and he knew it. She kicked Elizabeth out, and Ross already spent the money. Our attorney filed a police report against Ross, but he is now long-gone, so we lost $600 in a matter of three days. She has since moved again to a new apartment for just $575 a month, but it had a $400 security deposit. In addition, the new apartment was unfurnished, so we had to get her a bed, and a table and chair, in addition to a TV. The lawyer took her to a thrift store and got some great deals, but it was still a big unexpected expense for us. In addition, she lost her cell phone, so she got a new phone with a new phone number: again, another expense, but at least now her previous neighbors have no way of reaching her.

So that's what's been going on the past few weeks. This Labor Day weekend will most likely consist of us relaxing at home, and working from home, which I've been doing since I came back from the trip with my back in agony and can barely stand or walk right now. I'm still working hard, just doing it laying down with lots of ice. Thank goodness for my laptop. Steven has been working hard this week, too, doing some contract work from his previous employer, until his new job starts on Tuesday.

This week also brings Rosh Hashana and I am hoping I will be able to sit through services. Sitting up is painful, but each day is getting a little better now, so I'm hoping for the best. It's a hard time of year for my family, as my father's birthday is next Saturday, and the Jewish holidays were always so important to him. We all miss him every day, but holidays are always more difficult.

In good news, Elizabeth is doing well, and so is Baby S. At her last ultrasound before we went on vacation, the doctor only had good news to share with Elizabeth and me. The baby has grown a lot, and is now in the 40th percentile for her size, which was a relief after being told how small she was the previous month. I speak to Elizabeth a couple of times a week, and she always tells me that Baby S is extremely active, always moving around and always kicking. Elizabeth tells me to get all of my sleep now because she thinks we have an active baby coming. We just want Baby S to be happy and healthy.