This is a blog about a family drawn together through embryo adoption. It is for celebrating and sharing life, most especially with those who made that life most possible. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
If you've been following this blog for any length of time, you know that the little princess has had very little hair to go with her diminutive status. This past week, we crossed a milestone; I was able to do something with her hair other than two tiny pigtails! I present, the princess hair:
Ok, ok, so it's a variation on the pigtails. But still a step in the direction of all sorts of prettiness!
Mother's Day is a day of very different emotions for me. This is my second mother's day, and I'm finding myself viewing it in a mixture of thankful awe and remembered grief. I feel a heightened sense of awareness of those around me at church, women who have had failed infertility treatments, miscarriages, husbands who won't agree to children yet, couples who are going through the homestudy process as they hope to adopt. Infertility is supposed to affect 15-20% of couples, and yet in our small church, there is only 1 couple who hasn't been touched by unfulfilled dreams of expanding their family.
I love being a mom, but I am finding myself wishing this day didn't have to be thrust upon us as a population, and that I had something more to say than just "thank you" when everyone wishes my a happy Mother's Day. If we could just stay home and "celebrate" it in private, I would be so much more comfortable. I don't like being singled out for some sort of honor seemingly above other women because I now have a child. As you go through this day, don't forget about those on the grief side of the fence, who have maybe lost their mothers, or long for motherhood that seems so far out of reach. And please, don't needle anybody about when their first Mother's Day will be, because each woman is significant for her own sake, and suggesting that motherhood is a task to be accomplished diminishes her intrinsic worth.
That being said, I did have a nice day! In Hannah's Easter Basket, I had put some soap crayons, thinking that they were a brilliant idea. Of course, she loves them. Then I realized that I was teaching her to love coloring on the walls.... maybe that wasn't so brilliant. However, when I got up this morning, I had the following message waiting for me; it seems she is brilliant after all:
And I got breakfast in bed, although I might have to talk to Mr. Myth about letting her play with the stove.
And here's the sweetie herself! Of course, this is before she threw a fit while Sha-Sha was on speaker phone. Who can resist making Mommy look bad in front of Grandma?
If you've spent any time with online "motherhood" communities, you may have noticed that we love our adjectives. Forums, especially, are a great place to advertise how many adjectives we have. You may see a short response to someone else's topic (i.e. "me too!"), followed by what's known as a "signature." This signature includes things you want everyone to know about you. We love our signatures to be longer than our "me too" replies, so we make them something like this. Bonus points if there is a graphic "blinky" associated with each adjective:
This is just a sampling of the adjectives that seem to be popular around where I've read, and no, this is not my "signature." After all of the adjectives, it's hard not to compare ourselves as moms against the adjectives preceding it. Does this person think I'm inadequate for choosing differently from her in these areas? Am I still accepted if some of these adjectives apply to me, but not all? Or we take pride in these labels, saying to ourselves, that we are good moms because of them.
So, among the adjectives I could use to build my signature, it is time to admit that one of them will no longer apply. You can take "stay-at-home" off the list. I got a job, and am starting Monday. This has been a big decision, though not as difficult as I would have thought. I am lucky, because I am a nurse, and can work 3 nights a week and call it full time. We have a private sitter whom we know and trust to watch Hannah on the mornings after I work so that I can get some sleep. She is mostly weaned, and is sleeping all night long in her own room now, so she may not even miss me much while I'm at work.
Now, I think I've done an exemplary job of being a stay-at-home mom. I have kept my baby clothed and fed just fine, like here for example:
I do such a good job that she never has to beg for more:
Joking aside, we have taken a hard look at our goals for the future and decided that it will be best if I work and save my salary for a while, at the end of which time, hopefully, we will be ready to welcome home another one of Hannah's siblings (no! This is NOT an announcement!). I am looking forward to the professional development personally, and have started to get out my equipment and uniforms. Hannah has joined in the fun, playing doctor for the first time:
In all of this, I have had to take stock of my adjective comparisons. I used to be very adamant that I would *never* work outside the home with children in the house. Now, I can look at our situation with peace, because "stay at home" or not, I am a mom. I love that title most.
When I think back, my life of childless infertility seems measured in moments, defined by specifics that seared themselves into my brain.
It was baking in deafening silence, while my heart could hear a small voice asking to lick the spoon, feeling a little hand in mind as we made thumprints in the cookies.
It was dying inside while a family member (clearly thinking as a potential "Grand") went on and on about how natural I looked with a baby after I had made the mistake of holding a newborn in front of them at church.
It was escaping the church ladies on the way out the door on Father's day, as they kept asking when Sam's first Father's day would be. Little did they know that this *was* his first, but the baby had died, so there was no celebration for us, and I couldn't bring myself to voice that fact, so we just ran.
It was realizing how everything in my house was for adults as I cleaned.
It was realizing that I still had a baby blanket in my closet as I avoided cleaning that closet.
It was hearing my ministry leader tell us that we weren't open to God's plan for our family if I was still sad about being infertile, weeks after we had told them about our plans to adopt.
Then everything changed, and suddenly my life as a mom is measured in moments, each seared onto my brain in stark contrast to the moments of loss.
It is knowing the smell of my daughter, recognizing it on her blankets within hours of her birth.
It is feeling her arms around my neck, and experiencing her relax against me when I respond to her cry in the middle of the night.
It is seeing a laundry line full of diapers or baby clothes, papering the sky with its joyful presence.
It is hearing "mama" and watching her face light up when I walk into the room.
It is watching her cry her eyes out when her daddy leaves, then get to the door as fast as she can when she hears him coming back, dragging him to the bed for a round of tickles.
It is watching her grandparents eyes as they cherish her and knowing that it is finally my turn to bring them this delight.
Does motherhood erase the years of infertility? No. They're not gone, and the new memories make the memories of those years more acutely painful, if possible. But, the memories of those years also make the new memories more acutely joyful, and the frustrations seem very small in comparison. I am so thankful for every moment of the life that gave me my daughter. If I had to do it over again, I would chose every painful moment for the baby we have right now.
Hannah has really, truly crossed the threshold from bald-ish baby to having hair, amongst other significant changes in appearance and behavior in the last month. The most fun thing she has started doing is getting interested in clothes, so she'll bring me things to put on her that she finds lying around (isn't child development a great reason not to pick up laundry 100% of the time?).
This includes shoes:
And coats 15x too big for her:
She has also become quite vain. *Note length of pigtails!*
Fortunately, she can't see herself in the bathtub, right after the pigtails have been removed:
Also, as one of the students we work with so aptly pointed out tonight, she's getting so fat (aka, no more skinny baby)! *Note the double chin... she will kill me for this one in later years, but it's so cute.*
I wonder if this might not be due to her new-found status as a Peanut Butter junkie:
She's on an exercise program though, otherwise known as "learning to walk." Nothing extensive, but one should never start too quickly, right?
I couldn't get pictures of these, but she's started following directions to find her baby doll, then she'll have me rock it, then she'll give it hugs. She's learning and using 2 signs on a regular basis: "more" and "all done." "All done" was taught by Daddy, "more" she seemed to pick up on her own somehow- maybe from the other toddler on campus. No verbal words yet, but signs count, right? She'll be going to the doctor for her next checkup in a couple of weeks, and I'm curious to see where her growth percentages are now- they must be above 5th percentile with that awesome chin!
There has been a dearth of pictures here lately, mainly due to the fact that I cannot for the life of me get a good shot of Hannah. She sees/ hears/ senses the point-and-shoot, and she's crawling towards it with her hand out to grab it before I can get the shutter to click. Most of my pics for the last month or so have had her as a blur. Case in point:
Ooooh, almost in focus! Better luck next time, mom!
So when a friend of mine was selling an 5 year old Nikon for a fraction of the cost of a new one, we decided we could use some of our Christmas money to invest in it. I think we made the right choice, as it doesn't look like a cell phone, doesn't beep, and has a nice quick shutter speed, even with the flash. Plus, it takes nicer pictures!
Today, Hannah got presents in the mail from her Sha Sha. We took pictures.