Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Zoe's Birth Story

I got home from work on September 15th and checked the messages on the phone. There was one from Z's caseworker - she said that Z was in the hospital. I didn't get the call until almost 5pm, and by that time the caseworker had left for the day. She had said on the message that she would get back to us when she had more information. I called Steve at work to let him know. I remember my mind was going a mile a minute. Somehow I managed to call our parents, siblings, and some friends. I called my substitute and my boss, too. Once Steve was home, we were in a whirlwind! Both of us just felt like we needed to keep busy until we got the next call. We managed to finish packing, clean up the rest of the house, return some messages, and make a dinner to freeze. Finally around midnight or 1 a.m., we decided to try to sleep. We hadn't heard anymore at that point.

On Wednesday, September 16th, we both got up at our normal times. Steve went into work just to tie up some loose ends. I tried calling the agency again, but it was too early. A little before 9 a.m., Z's caseworker called and said congratulations. Z had had a baby girl! I can't remember everything I said; I know I was crying. I asked how Z was doing. I asked what we should do next. We were told that we needed to be at the hospital at 1 p.m. so that we could visit with the baby and with Z.

Steve got home from work. We left the house at 11 a.m. We stopped and picked up a bouquet of flowers for Z. We started our two our drive to the hospital. We found it pretty easily and made our way (very nervously) to the nursery. We checked in at the nurse's station and they gave us a wristband. We were told that Z wanted us to spend some time with the baby and then we would hopefully see her that afternoon.

Seeing Zoe for the first time was amazing. The hospital staff allowed us to visit with her in a room that was inside the nursery. One of the nurses wheeled her over in her little bassinett. She was swaddled in a couple blankets and had a purple knitted cap on her head. It was probably twice the size of her head but looked too cute. She was so tiny - 6 lbs., 8 ounces. She was 21 inches long. The nurse pulled out her little hands to show them to us. She has such long, thin fingers. She pulled our her little feet - which are actually kind of big for such a tiny baby! But still so so cute. We wrapped her back up and just looked at her. The nurse said we could hold her. So I sat in a rocking chair was able to hold her for the very first time.

The whole experience was surreal. Surreal in this crazy, unbelievably good way. Steve held her for the first time and my heart just melted. He's so wonderful with her. He got to feed her her first bottle. She was so tiny I don't think she even drank 1/2 an ounce.

We spent about 2 hours with her, just holding her, looking at her, being with her. Her birthmother, Z, asked to see her, so the nurse came and wheeled her down to her room. We stayed there because Z's caseworker was on her way to meet with us. We also met with the hospital's social worker and a pediatrician on staff. Z asked her caseworker to send us down to her room for about 15 minutes.

We gathered up our things and the gifts we had for Z. We walked down the hallway to her room. When we got there she was holding Zoe in her arms and feeding her. We went in and sat down with her. We only had a few minutes. I tried to say thank you through all of my tears. Thank you for the time she gave us over the summer. Thank for letting us get to know her and her family. Thank you for letting us have time with the baby at the hospital. It was very hard to say everything we wanted to say. I explained about our gifts that we had brought for her. Z gave us a gift from her mom, Zoe's birth grandmother. It's a beautiful sleeper and blanket. So pretty and soft. Just perfect. As we left, we hugged Z and said we would keep in touch just like we've all agreed. We walked out of her room, around the corner, and bumped into Z's mom. We hugged her tight and talked some more with her. I can't say enough how lucky we are to know Z and her family.

We left the hospital and got some dinner. We made arrangements to stay at a local hotel.

In the morning, we headed back over to the hospital to be there for 9:30 a.m. We were allowed to wait in the nursery, though, and they brought Zoe to us. We were able to get her dressed in her coming home outfit. She is so tiny - she really could have worn a preemie outfit home! Z's caseworker met with us and had us sign some paperwork that would allow Zoe to come home with us. After that we bundled her up and got her in her little carseat. She looks so tiny in it! We walked down to the parking lot with one of the nurses and the caseworker. We put her in the back of my car, and drove over the agency's other office. We had them sign some health insurance forms for us and then we were on our way.

We were driving home with our baby!

She slept the whole way. We got to our house and had a few minutes to settle in before my parents arrived. What a wonderful feeling...to be home with our daughter.


Zoe is sleeping next to me, so I thought I would try to write a quick post. The days seem to pass so much faster right now. We're so busy with Zoe - she eats about every 2 hours. She's up to 2 and a 1/2 ounces each feeding. She really likes to eat - she doesn't even want you to stop to burp her or to catch her breath. She sleeps anywhere from 2 hours to 4 hours (usually between 2 and 3, though.) She seems to be more awake at night; we have saying she's nocturnal!

She likes to lay on her quilts, both on her back and on her stomach for 'tummy time.' She moves around a lot - she kicks her legs quite a bit and is always stretching.

She's a really sweet baby - very laid back and really only gets fussy when she's hungry (or wet.) That's it. I keep trying to get a picture of her smiling, but so far I haven't had much luck. She's too fast for me!

Steve's mom came to visit us this past weekend, so that kept us busy. My parents and sisters have been over, too. We've had visits from our cousins and some friends. It's been really nice. Another cousin of mine is visiting tonight, too.

I've been emailing with Z, Zoe's birthmom, and it's been good to hear from her. Her caseworker called us on Friday and said that the court has the paperwork; we are just waiting for an actual court date.

So, that's pretty much everything. We're trying to get into a bit of a routine. I'm also working on a journal for Zoe; I'm writing about what it was like to be at the hospital and see her after she was born. I'm writing about bringing her home and what that's been like. I'll use it to write down the things she does as she grows, too.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Super Zoe

I'm sorry for not updating over the weekend. We've been pretty busy. We're all doing well. Adjusting to being parents. We're used to staying up late; we're just not used to getting up all night long! We've also had some company, so that's kept us busy. It's so nice that so many people want to visit...everyone has been so excited to meet her.

Zoe is sleeping right now. She's doing great! She's going back to the pediatrician tomorrow for a weight check. She needs to be back up to her delivery weight. She lost 4 ounces when she left the hospital. She's been drinking 2 ounces at each feeding, so I'm pretty sure she'll be back up to her weight.

She's such a tiny little thing, though! Her little head fits right into the palm of my hand - I love to hold the back of her head and look into her eyes! She just started to really focus more -- she was doing it before but now it seems like she's noticing more.

She decided that she likes to sleep on her side, but the doctor didn't want her doing that. Too much of a risk of her flipping on her stomach and getting stuck. We bought a positioner and that's working well in the bassinet. She also loves to be swaddled. At the same time, she loves to wriggle one arm free. (We call her little Enchilada when she's all wrapped up in her little swaddler...I know, we're a little strange! But it's cute, too!)

We've been calling her Super Zoe! She has 'tummy time' each day; the nurses suggested we do this at least 3-4 times each day. Basically she just lays on her tummy on a blanket. It helps to encourage her to use her leg, arm, and neck muscles. Well, Super Zoe is able to push herself up just a bit and move her head from left to right and right to left. How is she able to do that already? I just think it's amazing. She looks so proud after she does it! (Or maybe that's us!)

Anyway, things are good. Yes, we're tired, but what a small thing to deal with. We're just so beyond happy right now. She's wonderful. We speak to Z through email each day. Z's caseworker thought that would be best right now (as opposed to calling.) Z even sent us pictures from the day of Zoe's birth. We now have pics of Z and her family with Zoe right after she was born. What a special thing for Zoe to have and for us to see, too. We also sent her pictures (after she sent the other pics to us.) We will send pics at our regular times, too, but it's nice to send extras in between, too (as long as it's okay with Z.)

Well, going to go sort some baby clothes and then off to bed...

***Not sure if I wrote this already, but we're holding off just a bit on posting pictures. I would love to share them, but we decided to wait until the TPR is signed out of respect for Zoe's birthmom. Then I'll post some; I have been taking a ton of pics. :)

Friday, September 18, 2009

We're home!

We are home!

Wow - thank you all for the wonderful comments. We logged on last night and read them all!

We are going to name her Zoe Marie. She is doing great - she's eating and sleeping. I keep calling her Houdini because she likes to wiggle out of her socks and mittens!

She's just beautiful and we just feel so happy. I will post more later...just wanted to say thanks to everyone. :)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

So very happy!!!

This will be just a short post because we are both exhausted. What a wonderful day! We got to the hospital around 1 pm and went to the nursery. We were given a wristband that would give us access to that area. We were allowed to spend time with the baby. We got to hold her and be with her for at least 2 hours, maybe a bit more.

She's just so beautiful and she's doing great. The doctor said she's very healthy. It was pretty cool to see Steve holding her and feeding her a bottle!

We got to spend some time with the birthmom and her mom, too. I'm going to refer to the baby's birthmom as "Z." I want to respect her privacy and not post her name.

We were so glad that we got the chance to speak to Z and see her and her mom.

We're hoping that the baby will be discharged in the morning. That's the plan as of right now. So we may actually be on our way home with a new addition to our family in about 12 hours!

It's a...

It's a girl!!!!!!!!

We heard from the caseworker just a little while ago...she was born around 4:30 a.m. That's why we hadn't heard anything! I don't know height, weight, or anything like that yet...

We're leaving right now to go to the hospital to see everyone. We'll update when we can!!!!

Still waiting...

It's 7:44am...

Hope we hear something soon...

Somehow we managed to sleep a little last night. Maybe 5 hours or so!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

This afternoon's phone call...

Today I told more of my students about us adopting. They were really excited for us. I had some of my older students (3rd-5th) and they seemed to have more questions. They wanted to know about how adoption works, about open adoption, and if we would be able to name the baby. One of my students told me that he was so glad to hear our news because "it makes me all happy inside." How nice is that? And one of my other students told his other teacher that he was really happy for us, but also sad for the birthmother because she wasn't able to raise the baby right now.

I am really lucky to work with such kind, caring students.

In other news...

She (the birthmom) is at the hospital right now and we're waiting for an update! We're hoping that maybe someone - her caseworker, her mom- will call us later tonight and let us know how she's doing.

Monday, September 14, 2009

6 days...

I met with six of my classes today. I taught a 5th grade class, a special education class (with grades K-2), a preschool class, 2 1st grades, and one 2nd grade class. I explained to them how Steve and I are adopting a baby. I told them I wanted them to feel prepared so that they wouldn't be surprised when somebody new was teaching their class.

The 5th graders were pretty excited. A couple of them looked a bit sad. I know it's hard - I've taught them since they were in 1st grade, so I have had them for quite a while. One student even wrote me a note last week: "Another year in Art with you unfortunately the last (because she's going to middle school next year). I will always remember you from 6th grade to as long as I live. Thanks for your teaching and advice." She was unhappy today because of the news, but I told her how much I will really miss her and the other students. I also told her how much her note meant to me. She seemed better after that. One of the 5th graders asked if I would bring the baby in for a visit.

The preschool class and the special education class weren't too sure of my news...I'm not sure if they really understood that a substitute would be coming in.

The 2nd grade class was pretty excited. The first graders were the funniest. The substitute who will be in for me had asked if she could spend the afternoon in my room. She wanted to observe and see what types of procedures I was going over with my students. I thought it was great because I was able to introduce her to some of the younger students. Well, two of the kids wanted to know why I couldn't just let the substitute raise the baby and I could just stay and teach them! And one of the other students said he knew why I wanted to "babysit" - because I must really want to change a lot of diapers and be up all night.

Yes, they were pretty funny! I'm sure they shared the news with some of the other students in our school today, so tomorrow should be interesting...

Steve and I have both been nervous and anxious. He said he only got about 3 hours of sleep last night. I slept, but I dreamt that we kept getting the call that the baby had been born. I didn't know if the call was real or if I had been dreaming.

I wanted to say thank you to everyone who posted such nice comments after my last couple of posts. Thanks so much - it means so much to me that you are all so supportive.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

One more day down...

Tomorrow I'm going to talk to my "Monday" students at school and explain that I'm taking time off this year. My principal had wanted me to wait until this week because it was a little closer to the due date. I was with the students this past week, but we spent time going over rules/procedures in different parts of our school. We did not have regular "specials" classes. Last week one of the students asked me if I was expecting a baby and another student asked me if it was true that I was adopting. I told them we would talk about it when they came to art class this week. I guess they overheard it from another staff person or maybe one of the parents. Some of the parents at my school know that we're adopting. It's pretty amazing - there are a lot of families in my school that have somehow been touched by adoption. I also work with quite a few people who have adopted. They have been a great support system along the way.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

8 days...

We're down to 8 days until the baby's due date. Wow - in some ways the past couple weeks have felt so slow, but in other ways it feels like it's zooming by. Does that make any sense?

I have been back at work. The students started this week, so it's been busy. It's also been very hard to focus on work-related things! I'm really glad that I took a lot of time in early and mid-August to prepare for my substitutes. It made it a lot easier during this past week. Everything is ready, though, so whenever the baby comes, the sub will have what she needs to start.

There certainly is a lot of waiting with adoption, isn't there? The closer it gets to the due date, the harder it seems to wait. I have been busy with work and things at home, but it's not enough to take my mind off things, that's for sure. I've been thinking a lot about how the birthmom may be feeling right now and how this must be so hard. We still email each other often - I'm so happy when we get an email from her.

So that's where things are right now. We don't have anything specific planned this weekend, so I think I'm just going to try to organize some things around the house a bit more. I might try to work in our garden, too. And I'll be trying not to be so jumpy every time the phone rings! :)

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Lots on our plate

Well, I was going to try to update my post with everything we accomplished yesterday, but I didn't happen! When we finally got home at 1am, I was so exhausted and pretty much just went to bed.

First we had to get up early and have our fingerprints redone. The "early" part was my choice - I figured it was better to get it taken care of...the clearances need to be updated because we had them done around this time last year. So that was first. That went fine.

Next we went to a used bookstore. We had four filled-to-the-brim bags of books to sell. Usually the guy buys all/most of Steve's and maybe one or two of mine. (Maybe he doesn't sell as many of ones I like to read? Not sure...) Well, this time he bought MOST of our books (including mine - yay!) We got $50. Not bad. I'm putting it aside...I have a feeling we're going to need to order a new washing machine soon. I'll be prepared for when we need it! (Not that $50 will cover it, but I'm adding my birthday money from Steve's mom and another gift to it. I'll save up a bit more, too.)

Then we stopped at the police station. They will check your car seat for you and make sure you installed it properly. Turns out that the officer who does that wasn't there yesterday. We got the phone number for her phone on her desk - we'll call her today.

After that we dropped off donations at Salvation Army. I had at least 3 bags of clothes, the extra books, and some other stuff that we wanted to donate. I'm clearing things out as much as I can, knowing we're going to accumulate more things, fairly soon.

We had 11 am doctor appointments. We also had to renew our physicals. Our doctor was out of town all this week, so they fit us in with another doctor. She was really wonderful. We also got our flu shots, so we won't have to worry about getting those later.

We had fasted for that appointment just in case they wanted us to get bloodwork done (they did) so we went to get lunch at Panera. (I heart Panera - can't wait until it gets colder - I love getting the tomato soup...)

We returned cans - lots of cans - at the grocery store and popped into Hallmark so I could get a couple cards. I had Hallmark bonus points/money that was burning a hole in my pocket!

We stopped at Staples and made copies of all of our paperwork. We also returned the ink I bought the day before and picked up the right ink. Oops. Could my mind be elsewhere??

We stopped at Walgreens and picked up my photos. Steve dropped off a prescription. Then we came home.

I created a list of names/phone numbers to take with us to the hospital.

I put our gift in a pretty bag. The night before I wrote out a letter to the baby's birthmom and put that in the bag, too.

I sterilized a couple bottles to take with us, just in case we needed them.

I paid some bills (not too exciting but they needed to be sent out.) I also sent out some thank you notes from my b-day.

Steve tested out the video camera, and we recharged batteries.

We mapquested how to get to the hospital and to a nearby hotel.

I touched up the paint on the armoire in the baby's room. I added blocks of wood to the inside. The blocks needed to be painted. My dad had suggested we try it. The armoire is an antique. It had a very old bar that you could hang clothes on. When I refinished the piece, I took the bar out (it was more rust than anything.) I added a tension rod. It fit perfectly, but when you put more than one clothing item on it, it fell. The weight was too much. So we added the blocks just under the bar. We also added two under that, so we could have two rows of clothes. I don't have a picture of the inside but this is the outside:
After all that we decided to go to the movies and just relax. I slept SO hard last night - probably one of the best night's sleep I've had in a long time!

So, what's on the agenda for today?

I'm working on a mobile for the nursery. Well, I will be working on it when I start it! I had an idea for something and I want to try it out.

We need to clean up the backyard (twigs/branches) a bit and maybe weed a bit out front, too.

I want Steve to show me how to use the video camera, too.

I might try to make a couple dinners (lasagna maybe?) to freeze. Any suggestions on that idea?

Plus we have general cleaning to do, too. The house looks fairly good, but I want to go over everything. It's going to be a busy week this upcoming week, especially with the students starting at my school. Staff started last week. I won't have too much extra time for cleaning at that point.

Haha - after typing out that list, I feel even more tired!!! I have to say, though, that it feels so good to accomplish so much, especially in one day. I don't think Steve would agree, though! He teases me and calls me a machine :)

Friday, September 4, 2009

Show and Tell

As promised, here is the picture of my birthday icecream-cupcake cake - it really was as big as my head!

This is a picture of my parents from July. They had come over to celebrate Steve's birthday. They brought Steve some birthday gifts, and we ended up giving them a gift, too.

When my parents found out they were expecting me, they bought that little jar for my grandma. It had hand lotion in it. They gave it to her for her birthday and signed the card from me (Baby U - due Sept. 16th.) It took her a few minutes but then she realized what it meant - that another grandchild was on the way.

When I was little my grandma gave me the jar. I kept it all these years. I knew that when I had a baby someday I wanted to give it to my parents to make our announcement, too. Well, when we did our IUIs, I had that little jar wrapped up. When we did our IVF #1, #2, and then #3, I had it wrapped up and ready to be given. Because we had never been able to conceive, it ended up sitting on a shelf in our closet.

The day this picture was taken, I had pulled the little jar out and decided I wanted to give it to my parents. Yes, they already knew our announcement that we had been picked, but it still seemed like the thing I needed to do. My grandma would be so excited that her little great-grandchild is on the way. I know she looks over us and I really wanted to tell my own mom and dad in the same way. It really meant a lot for me to finally be at the day when I could give it to them. Mom has it sitting right in her living room so it's one of the first things you see when you walk in!

This is the first gift one of my friends gave me after we found out! My friend, Dawn, who is the most fabulous baker, made these cookies! She gave them to us to celebrate our adoption news. (They were so good!)

We're busy working on other last-minute things this weekend. Hoping to get a lot done. I'll try to update again if I have a chance...