For the Love of Sleep

I am interrupting the regularly scheduled programming lest you think it’s all rainbows and puppy dogs up in here.

I am tired.  Seriously.  Tired.  For real.  I am not complaining.  I am stating facts.  To the readers who are longing to have this problem and rolling your eyes:  I get it.  But, that doesn’t make me any less tired.

Why, you ask?  How could I possibly be dragging ass when I have that sweet little hoot owl’s eyes to lovingly gaze into?  Let me tell you why.  This boy loves to hang out with Mama in the middle of the night.  He’s pretty easy to go down.  He’s ready to go down between 6:30-7:00.  He’s happy with and on-demand episode of Yo Gabba-Gabba (not to worry, I do read to my child every day as well, he just seems to LOVE this show, I can’t even begin to explain it, just watch a clip of it on YouTube, you’ll be as confused as I am), a bottle, some rocking and singing and he’s off to La-La Land.

When approximately 9:30 rolls around, he wants a bottle. Around 3:30-4:oo am, he wolfs down another six ounces.  Then he’s raring to go for the day at 6:30 am, when I have to get him ready for baby school.  That was a description of a good night.

Then there are nights like the past two nights that I lovingly refer to as “newborn nights.”  I lost track after the fifth time in the room.  At one point he drank two ounces only to cry me back into the room 45 minutes later to finish off the bottle.  Two nights ago, he did all the above with the added bonus of waking up for the day at 4:45 am.  Seriously.  I haven’t had interrupted sleep like this and then put in a full work week since I spent the summer in Ft. Jackson, SC for Army basic training.

I know, I know, this too shall pass.  This is just a season.  He’s only a baby once.  He might be teething.  What about that cold he’s been nursing, blah, blah, blah.  The pediatrician is telling me that I am making a choice.  He is old enough at almost ten months to be able to sleep through the night without eating.  I am choosing to continue to feed him throughout the night.  She said that he is certainly fine with that choice, but asked, “How’s that working for you?”  I think we all know what I am getting at.  It’s not working that well for me.  I find myself feeling like a steaming pile of poop every morning saying, “Somethings got to give.  He’s old enough now.  Seriously.  He’s got to cry it out.”
I have colleagues (who have had success with letting their kids cry it out without any obvious permanent damage) telling me that I’ve got to do this.  Then, there are those, including my mother who are against crying it out, “I never did with you kids!”  There is my Dr. Sears quoting sister-in-law saying things like, “You parent all day, why wouldn’t you parent at night?”  There is my cousin who has a baby who is five days older than Rocky and she is getting up and working full-time too.  She is a  zombie like me and I heard her say, “I read that they eventually give up hope that you will come and save them and that’s why they stop crying.  That’s so sad.  I decided that I could never do that to my baby!”  I love these ladies and respect their opinions which is why I’ve discussed this with them.  But, again, somethings got to give.  None of this is helping me feel any better going into my long day and evening.  Sleep deprivation is REAL.  It can be used as a form of torture.  I am less focused, and more forgetful by the day.

This morning I was talking to Miss Rose, Rocky’s teacher.  She’s a grandmother who happens to be a certified early childhood teacher.  She works at the baby school in the infant room because she can’t imagine doing anything else.  She is an expert on young babies and knows what she is talking about.  She is gentle, nurturing and professional.   She does what is best for the babies in her care.  She said to me, “He is old enough to sleep through the night.  He’s playing you a little bit.  You need to help him learn how to sleep through the night.  He’s a smart cookie.  He’ll catch on.  It’s what’s best for all of you.

So, I am thinking about doing a modified version of crying it out.  I’ll pick a night to start when we don’t have to work the next day and plan on getting little sleep.  I’ll go in at intervals to touch his back and reassure him that he hasn’t been abandoned (as he is sitting straight up in his crib, wailing and looking panicked).  From everything I’ve read, consistency is the most important part of this process.

I don’t know if I can do this whole sleep training thing.  Do I just wait it out and trust that he will come to a good night’s sleep on his own or do I help him along?

Help.

PS.  If you were mentioned in this post, I still love you and respect your opinion.  Just trying to figure this out and keep my sanity in tact!

 

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Sunday Snapshot: Gratitude

“The things you think about, focus on, and surround yourself with ultimately shape who you become.  Choose to live with gratitude for the love that fills your heart, the peace that rests deep within your spirit, and the voice of hope that whispers, “All things are possible.”  

The above quote is from the blog Marc and Angel Hack Life, and it does a fantastic of job summing up what I believe is one of the keys to happiness.  For the past decade, there have been some pretty dark times in my life.  There have been struggles related to my journey to become a mom and there have been other struggles that I choose not to blog about.  Every time I’ve had to dry my eyes, blow my nose and force myself to stop repeating, “This is NOT FAIR,” I’ve been able to do so because I am truly and deeply grateful for what I do have.  I choose to focus on the good stuff, what makes life worth living, instead on what I don’t have.

 I start each day with a spirit of gratitude.  When I was still waiting to become a mom, I was always grateful for a supportive family, friends who truly love me, a career that makes a difference, a husband who is also my best friend, a warm and safe place to live, the food on the table, the clothes on my back, all of the love in my life.  I have found that my morning commute works well for this. It is a block of time I have to myself, uninterrupted, before what the day will bring distracts me.  I’ve done this for at least a decade and it helps me to be happy.  There will always be things that are beyond the grasp of our control that will be unfair.  There are times when circumstances sweep the rug out from under our feet and we are left feeling alone and unable to trust that life is good.  But, if we can start over again with just a grain of gratitude, that grain has the potential to grow, blossom and flourish into a life well-lived.

This year, as we head into the week of Thanksgiving, I am tending to a full-blown garden of gratitude (that grain has not only flourished but multiplied many times over).  November is National Adoption Awareness month and this seems to be the perfect time to share with you my gratitude for some of the things that adoption has given me.

It’s hard to put my heartfelt gratitude into words, so I’ll share with you some images from my cell phone that I am grateful to have, more “Golden Ticket Moments,” if you will.

I am grateful for these gorgeous eyes.  One of the ways that Rocky, his birth mom and I look similar is in the eyes.  His happen to be particularly amazing.

I am grateful that my laundry has multiplied and that I have a little man who makes the funniest facial expressions who is responsible for this.

 

I am grateful to for my step-daughter and how she has become smitten (and the amazing natural light in my living room!).

I am grateful for these shoes.  I’ve always have a thing for shoes.  I’ve been longing for this pair for so, so long.

As always, I could go on, but I’ll continue at another time.

I’d like to hear from you.  What are you especially grateful for this year?  If you are having a difficult time heading into this holiday season, what grain of gratitude or hope can you tuck into your pocket that might help you through the time ahead?

 

 

Ni Hao Yall

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Yes, I actually enjoy teaching middle school.

When I tell people I teach middle school, the general reaction I get is, “Oh.  Well, I guess somebody has to do it!  Better you than me!”  I understand where that comes from.  Believe me.  I cringe when I think of the loud, obnoxious, f-bomb dropping middle schoolers on the bus I rode to school.  Even when I was one of them, I was embarrassed by their behavior.  I still wonder how the gentle and very conservative brethren farmer who drove the bus part-time tolerated their mouths.  They were downright disgusting at times.

As a teacher, however, I’ve had a different experience.  I firmly believe if you give kids a platform to shine, they will.  My students are funny, smart, and genuinely excited to be in class.  I would imagine that this is mostly because I am bringing the same attitude to the table that I expect from them.  That’s generally the way things work with the kids in my classroom.

I was going through some of the little index card profiles that I had them fill out at the beginning of the year and shaking my head and smiling.  I wanted to share some them with you.  I don’t ask them for contact information, as I can get that online.  I ask them to tell me one interesting fact about themselves, one talent they have and one thing about their families.  The following responses cracked me up, made me feel warm and fuzzy or scared me.

“My talent is shooting a gun, always in a kill zone and people say I have an eye for photography.”

-Wow, Monique.  Remind me not to piss you off.  I’d like to think that this “kill zone” reference is because your family hunts.  Crossing my fingers, here.  Would you take some holiday pics for my family?  Merci!

“I can move the tendons on my knuckles.  I can put my thumb behind my hand.”

-Thanks for sharing, Claudine.  Congratulations? Moving tendons?  Ew.

“I can do almost every flip on a trampoline.  My  mom and dad are very nice.”

-Aw, Bruno!  I need to e-mail this to your mom!  The trampoline flips kind of scare me, though.  Not gonna lie.  

“When I was little I fell and my two front teeth went through my lip.”

-Ouch.  (I get lots of horrible injuries as interesting facts.)

“I can vibrate my eyes.”

-Kid, you’re going places.  

“Two people in my family are adopted.”

-I love when kids share adoption stories with me.

“I almost lost my eye when I was little.”

-I am so glad both of your eyes are still with you, Sébastien. 

“I love hot sauce.  I can make a popping sound with my cheeks.”

-I love hot sauce, too!  Cheek popping?  I’d ask to hear this but then I’d be plagued with it for the duration of the school year.

“One mom, one dad, one sister, one dog.”

-I love how this kid gets to the point.

“Sometimes I slobber when I sleep.”

-Heh.  Join the club.

And, my personal favorite…

“I rebuke cake or pie.   I hate it.  I want more sammiches.”

-What can I add to that?  This kid used “rebuke” and sammiches” as part of the same thought.  Brave, Didier.  Bravo.

The moral of the story?  Middle school kids can be great if you take a minute to get to know them.  Some are jerks, too.  But mostly, they’re pretty cool.

 

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“I’ve got the golden ticket!”

 

Remember when Charlie first discovered the Golden Ticket?  He had that unbridled excitement that only comes from winning against all odds.  He didn’t have the money for candy bar after candy bar like many of his competitors.  In fact, his family could only manage one Wonka bar for him, which was his single birthday present.  Even then, he shared that precious bar with his family as they huddled in the most dilapidated shack in the city.

What I am getting at is that I am Charlie without the bed full of ailing grandparents in my living room.  I get to feel that joy and excitement every single day.  Charlie thoroughly enjoyed every little detail of his experience at the chocolate factory because, frankly, he could hardly believe that he was even there.  There was a time when I thought that it was damned near impossible that I was ever going to become a mom.  And then suddenly, like a shimmer of gold gleaming behind what was most likely another disappointment, there it was.  The Golden Ticket.  There are moments every single day when I could jump up and down and sing, “I’ve got the Goooooolden tiiiiiiiiket, I’ve got the Goooooooolden ticket….”  Instead, I smile as my heart skips a beat.  I say a little prayer for those who are still desperately waiting and prayer of gratitude for the profound blessings that I have experienced in the past year.

No, I am not heavily medicated.  I work full-time and I have a nine-month-old.  Sometimes the days are HARD.  They are hard when I just can’t get to that load of laundry put away that has sat outside of the nursery door for days.  I could scream when I have to make one more flippin’ trip to the store because WHENTHEHELL am I going to fit that in AND wrangle my wiggle worm at the same time?  There are not enough hours in the day and sometimes, I feel really old and completely exhausted.    So no, I’m not delusional, but I am pretty damned lucky.

Off the top of my head, here are some Golden Ticket moments.

  • Walking down the hall towards my classroom in the morning and getting a whiff of my hands that smell like heaven (aka. Johnson and Johnson’s baby bedtime bath lotion, the purple stuff).  I’ve got the Goooolden Tiiiiicket!
  • Getting undressed at the gym after a tough workout and having a binkey fall out of my sports bra onto the changing bench.  I’ve got the golden ticket.
  • Having the pediatrician say to me, “I know this is going to sound really weird, but he looks just like you.”  My reply, “Thanks.  That’s not weird at all.  We get that all the time.  It’s the eyes, cheeks and nose.  It’s pretty amazing.”  Haven’t you heard?  I’ve got the Golden Ticket!
  • Bopping around the local lawn and garden center trying to get the perfect pumpkin shot of my very busy love bugs, Button (my almost 2-year-old niece) and Rocky.  I couldn’t wipe the sappy smile off of my face.  I’ve got the Gooooolden Tiiiiiiiicket!
  • Taking back first, a “little monster” costume, then, a “little dinosaur” costume to finally settle on a “baby raccoon.”  I had to go with the Carter’s costume, it was the only one, in my opinion that was comfortable enough for him to actually wear.
  • Open mouth slobbery baby kisses when he’s most likely just trying to eat my face.  I’ve Got the Golden Tiiiiiiiiiiiicket!
  • Trying on a shirt in the fitting room and sitting him in front of the mirror only to have him captivated by the baby in the mirror.  The Golden Ticket!
  • It occurred to me on one Friday afternoon, after working all day and picking up Boo Bear from Baby school, that this is my new happy hour:

And I was so absolutely, so thankful for that.  

I could go on, but you get the idea.
Yes, indeed.   I’ve got the Golden Ticket!


 

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Let’s Do This

I want to jump back into blogging.  Finishing the final draft of the research paper that completed masters degree (woot, woot!), wrangling a bouncing baby boy, balancing a career AND life in general, put the smack down on my blogging time.  These are all very good things that I am grateful for, but HOLY CRAP!  I had no idea how busy a baby makes a mom.  There was no way I could have known.  (I can see all of you moms smiling and nodding your heads.) Seriously, talk about life in the fast lane.

I’ve done some housekeeping around here as well and I am going to blog while doing my best to keep my son’s privacy as my first priority.  I will be password protecting any posts that contain pictures (for the most part, this, as everything else, is subject to change).  I have also password protected any posts that give specific details about his (not mine, his) story.  I will continue to blog publicly about infertility, adoption, loss, life with baby and about whatever else makes my skirt fly up (I got that expression from The Pioneer Woman, LOVE HER).  But for Rocky’s nitty-gritty, you’ll need a password.

Thank you so very much for sticking around while I get back into the swing of things.  It means a lot to me that you are all here, interested in my story and still wanting to show me love.  To those of you who’ve sent me messages just checking in, thank you.  You are so sweet.  Thanks also goes to each of you who have asked in person when I am going to start blogging again.

So, if you want to continue reading my public posts, welcome!  If you want to read more about Rocky’s story, see his sweet face, or connect with our story and get updates, comment below and I’ll e-mail you the password.

I’ve missed you!

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The Road to Rocky Part IV: Move Forward

As I drove through the town that May, her brother and sister, and my Aunt May called home, I had the familiar feeling of being at the crest of a roller coaster, looking down at the ground right before the drop.  My heart was pounding with anticipation and fear.  I thought about how Maya must feel knowing that I would be stopping by.  I gathered that she must have felt more nervous than I was given that she was the same age of the students I teach.

When I got to the edge of town, I pulled up alongside the curb of a residential street.  This was it.  I got out of the car, shut the door and clicked the remote lock.  I heard the familiar beep signaling that the alarm was set.  It’s seems instinctual how routine things tend to become a source of comfort when facing the unknown.  I went up to the door and knocked.  Seconds later, my aunt answered the door with a big smile, just as I remembered her.  ”Hey Lace!  How have you been?” she beamed as she gave me a big hug.  I was then able to exhale.   I joked about how I was lucky I made it there before midnight with my sense of direction and that even though it was a small town, it was a little tricky for me to navigate.  Her laugh was a contagious chuckle, just as it always had been.

I glanced across the room and saw a young teenage girl stand up from behind a laptop.  She was wearing athletic shorts and a baggy t-shirt.  She was doing a good job of hiding the tiniest hint of a swelling belly.  I said, “Hello, you must be Maya.  I’m your cousin, Lacie.”  She walked right over to me with tears in her eyes but wearing a smile and gave me a warm hug.  I pulled away from her slightly and said.  ”You must be really scared.  Are you scared?”  She nodded.  I let her know, “Well I just wanted to stop by and I promise I won’t stay long.  I wanted you to see me face to face before we have our meeting on Sunday night.  I wanted you to see that I am not an intimidating person and neither is my husband, Michael.  We are both open and friendly.  I didn’t want you to have to be nervous about meeting me all weekend.  I also wanted to give you this card.  It has a letter that I wrote to you inside of it.  You can share it with your mom if you want to or it can be between the two of us.  I also included a picture of Michael and I so that you can picture us whenever you’d like.  Sorry, but I am a lot skinnier in the picture than I am right now.  I’m always a work in progress!”  She took the card, shook her head and laughed, and thanked me.  I looked over to my aunt and she said, “Thank you.” with tears in her eyes.

We talked and laughed for a few more minutes  and then left them with big hugs, promising that I’d see them on Sunday evening.  I walked out of the house and I felt good, like things would be okay. One step at a time.  On the twenty-minute drive home I thought non stop about Maya.  She had dark almond-shaped eyes, just like mine.  We also share similar button noses and round cheeks.  Her hair was black (like Michael’s)  and she had beautiful caramel colored skin.  She seemed to have a sweet, friendly, yet shy disposition.  I wondered what the baby she was carrying would look like.  I knew that he or she would be beautiful.  I wondered what was going through her head. I wondered if she tore into my card right away, or if she would need time to process everything and maybe tuck it away for later.  I wondered what the next few months would be like.  Was this going to be a time of excitement and hope or continued disappointment for us?  For Maya, regardless of the path she ended up choosing, this was going to be perhaps the most difficult journey she’d navigate in her life.  Wow.  It was an amazing yet complicated situation.

When I got home I did the other thing I could think of to reach out to her.  I friend requested her on Facebook.  I sent her a message inviting her to check out my profile so that she could get to know me  a little better.  (On a side note, I have always had a “strictly PG” policy for my Facebook content and the language I choose to use including what photos that I allow my friends to post.  Not that am up to anything completely immoral or illegal, it’s just that I am a teacher and it can be difficult to live my life as a role model for youth.  I had never been as grateful for this choice as I was at that moment.  You just never know).  While obsessively checking my phone, I saw that she accepted my friend request within minutes.  Her status was a quote from the card that I had given her.

Move forward in the direction of your dreams…

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The Road to Rocky Part III: One Step at a Time

I sat staring at the notepad where I jotted down my aunt’s number.  I took a minute to process what I had just learned.  I needed to fill Michael in before calling my aunt.

I nervously and excited ran the situation by Michael who listened skeptically.  This was not the first time that we had been presented with a possible adoption situation and nothing ever panned out.  Not to mentioned that we had been through FIVE embryo transfers within a year and half,  only one of which was successful.  The successful transfer resulted in the miscarriage of our twins.  At that very moment we were grieving yet another disappointment and there I was pitching him the possibly of adopting a baby from my cousin who I’ve never even met.  Yeah right.  After I summed up what my mom presented to me, I asked him what he thought.  He looked right at me and said, “If you’re asking me if I would be open to adopting this baby, then my answer is, ‘absolutely.’  If you’re asking me whether or not I think it is actually going to happen, then my answer is, ‘no freaking way.’  Please proceed with caution and try not to get all wrapped up in this just yet.  We’ve been through a lot.”  I promised that I would be guarded and that I would just call my aunt to hear what she had to say.  Then, if it seemed like it was a strong possibility that this was actually going to happen,  we would take it one step at a time.  There would be no hearts butting in and letting emotions take the reigns.  No, there would not be any of that.

How does one go about making that call?  I did the only thing I could think of.  I called my aunt and and said, “Hi Aunt May*, it’s Lacie.”  She seemed genuinely glad to hear from me.  I remembered her being a sweet, warm and funny and her personality hadn’t changed a bit.  She jumped right in and explained exactly what my mom had just told me and asked me if Michael and I would be open to being this baby’s parents.  I told her that we would absolutely be willing to be this baby’s mom and dad if that was what everyone wanted.  She said that they were all serious and that she and Maya as well as Maya’s boyfriend, Marco*, and his mother would like to meet with us as soon as possible.  This was a Wednesday evening and we all agreed to meet at her house on Sunday evening.  She also told me that Maya’s first doctor’s appointment was scheduled for the following week and that they all wanted me to be there.  She said, “That way you’ll get to hear the due date and your baby’s heartbeat.”  I couldn’t believe it.   My baby’s heartbeat.  Was this really going to be my baby?  Looking back, I think that they all knew it already.  Michael and I just needed some time to process it and to establish some trust.

I’ve always told those who are struggling to become moms to take it one step at a time.  When someone is reeling from continued disappointment and feels like there is nothing that they can do to that will bring their baby into their arms, I have always suggested, “Just take one step.  Do one thing, no matter how small,  that you can do today that will bring you closer to your baby.”  That one small thing might be as simple as acknowledging that there are many choices and options in this journey.  It might be just reframing the disappointment and knowing that tomorrow is a new day.  It might be as simple as researching cloth diapers (ahem).  It might be as huge as actually choosing a different path.  I had between Wednesday and Sunday evening to anticipate meeting with Maya, my Aunt, Marco, and his mom.  The one thing I could do was to put myself into Maya’s shoes. I thought about her age and how terrifying this pregnancy must be for her let alone to have this meeting hanging over her head all weekend.  I needed to somehow put her at ease so that she would know that no matter what the outcome, that she did not to be afraid of us.  Michael and I are not “scary” people, but she didn’t know that and the weight of this meeting looming would surely put her under a great deal of stress in the coming days.

I did the only thing I could do.  I sat down and wrote her a letter.  I told her everything that I could think of about us that she might want to know.  I found a suitable picture of us to include in the letter and, giving myself some time edit it, decided to drop it off to her that Friday after work.   This way,  she could see me face to face before the meeting, so that she wouldn’t have to anticipate seeing me in person for the first time all weekend.  After mulling over every single word over and over again all day Thursday and Friday, I decided that I just needed to print it out.  I made a trip to the drugstore on my way to her house to find the perfect card in which to enclose the letter.  I called my aunt to get directions.  I felt like I could hardly breath.

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