10.29.2010

THE TRUTH

I don't like it when I start feeling like my blog isn't honest.  The censorship opportunities inherent in blogging probably transform most of us into better, wittier, nicer people with nicer cleaner houses and less psychosis.

In the midst of tumultuous times, instead of fessing up, I often choose to post pretty pictures of my pretty kids. And when it comes down to it, it's because I don't want to overshare to the point of embarrassing people married to and/or birthed/adopted by me. The pictures are somewhat gratifying for everyone but I don't intend it to replace actual documentation of thoughts and experiences I have. If anything, I feel like I cheapen the little history writing and community building project I have going on here when I resort to photographs.

So today, some honesty.

{sigh.}

How does one go about expressing honest feelings without coming across as a whiney whiner face? I don't know because according to some people who know me, I toe the line poorly. But despite my fears about how this will be received, I will press on. In regards to the parenting going on over here: I have never ever, ever, thought it possible to be this depleted. I bitterly laugh at the Me a year ago who thought about having two babies giddily while tossing around "Sure it will be tricky, but we will figure it out." Arrogant. Oh. So. Arrogant. And ignorant. And arrogant.

I am tired. And not in a glowy, contended tired way. It's a Wake Up in the Morning and I am Pretty Sure I am Going to Die kind of way.  Often that feeling fades after forty five minutes or so, but it's there every morning like a ton of bricks after another highly interrupted and very short night of sleep.

A word to folks who have kids at home and are thinking about adopting multiples, I know you want to believe you will be different, and that everything will be fine. I just want to tell you as someone who didn't listen, it won't be "fine" for a long time. We are no where near "fine."

I know, by the way, that my youngest wasn't adopted. But for those of you who started reading this blog late in the game, until the unexpected pregnancy of our littlest one changed plans, we were waiting for a referral for two bebes from Ethiopia. So while we never expected to have another homegrown kiddo, the make up of our family isn't that different than what we'd bargained for: Two babies joining our family summer '10, different ages with a need for attachment intensive parenting and maybe some health problems. That is the situation for which we attempted to prepare.

What I didn't bargain for is how two kids was blissfully easy in hindsight. What I didn't bargain for is how two more little people completely would change everything that I loved about being a mother, albeit temporarily. (I hope.)

I used to be a cool-creative-field-trip once or twice a week mom.
I used to be a constantly have a fun project going kind of mom.
I used to be a play date once or twice a week mom.
I used to have bedtime down to a militant but happy science and have hours after my children retired to recoup, clean and organize, plan, dream etc.
I used to be a cooking new things every week mom.
I used to be a working on my hobbies and talents while cultivating my childrens' talents kind of mom.
I used to write in journals for each child waxing on about my observations and connections with them.
I used to be an in shape mom.
I used to be more fun.
I used to be more spontaneous.
I used to not have dark circles.
I used to be a better friend.
I used to be a consistent teacher.
I used to be more thoughtful in the way I handled situations with my kids.
I used to keep in touch.
I used to read scriptures and parenting books when feeling like I needed guidance with my kids.
This isn't to say I was supermom. I had my share of Mommy Blunders. But I felt like the good outweighed the incompetent.

That is no longer the case.
Now, we bathe and brush teeth every other night.
Now the only trips are to the grocery store and doctor's office (Brady has four visits this week, for example.)
We haven't done a project or done play dates or field trips in weeks and weeks. And not that people haven't offered to play, but I have been terrified by my son's endless team of medical support staff that germs for him are the devil, and now it's cold and flu season.
Now I actually have frozen waffles in my freezer, and I am ashamed but use them.
Now we sometimes go to bed without stories -an unpardonable sin in my, ahem, book.
Now I sit on the couch and while I nurse a baby with one arm, holding a syringe putting more milk into his body with the other hand while balancing a breast pump with my shoulder and lap and come completely, embarassingly unglued on the two older kids for leaving toys out. That's right. I'm reduced to yelling from a sitting position and waiting for my saint of a mother to help me run my house.
Now at any given moment, day and all-freaking-night, there is a little one crying.

I feel trapped.

The younger two are very time intensive babies. The littlest is a full time job by himself. My mom estimated I held Johnny Boy about nine hours a day on average this week. This means delegating. Delegating things that shouldn't be. Like rocking other kids to sleep. Like running to comfort a bloody lip or a bonked head. Like bath time, diaper changing, reading, bottle giving. Horrible things to delegate.

I hate delegating. Hate. Hate. I want to take care of my kids and my house by myself. I want to do it my way. Because my way is great. But I can't. I have to rely on many many other people to keep the house going. And this year of needing so much help, combined with a crappy pregnancy and insane post-pregnancy goings on making it impossible to even whisper the sweet word exercise, have vaporized my self esteem. Because two things that make me feel good about myself are 1) trying hard to be a fun, intentional, have my crap totally together overachieving Mommy 2) And much more shameful: the number on the tag of my jeans and definition in my arms.

Adding two higher-needs little ones to our family in such a dramatic fashion has made me lose the control I once had over everything in my house and in my life. It's not an entirely bad thing. Perfect drawers and flawless field trips and pants size aren't that important in the grand scheme of things. But still.

Being stripped of my ability to do the things that made me feel good about myself has tested my faith as it has never been tested. It has tested my patience. It has tested my relationship with everyone I know (including the lovely father of these lovely children.)

I was arrogant to think it would be anything other than woefully challenging. I am humbled. And cranky.

I don't write all this as a complaint. Because despite it all I wouldn't change anything. I love the children around here fiercely and am unspeakably grateful for my blessings. I love my crazy life. I know we are in a rough patch and that things will get better. And there are incredibly sweet moments all involving how much the little people love each other. You've seen Tsega's kisses to Brady. Droplets of heavenly sweetness are all around.

But I write this as a message to those adoption readers who will follow. I never thought I'd be one of those "post adoption" moms who wistfully remembers life before the new additions and thinks "What the crap have I done to my wonderful life??" I always harbored a pity/judgey feeling for those women. But that thought has occured to me. It's usually joined by the strong desire to get on a plane and fly to the Bahamas. Alone.

I never thought I'd tell others that it's normal if the thought occurs to you that you need marriage counseling. Co-parenting in an intense situation is well, intense. And not fun all the time. I can't believe more people don't admit how rough adding two kids to the family is on a marriage. I am staunchly believing that I am not alone in this. Despite little evidence because no one talks about it.

We are in the trenches. And on most days, there's no place I'd rather be. It's an odd conflict. I never thought I'd turn hypocrite and tell others considering bringing home two babies when you have other kids at home that it is not wise. But with tail between my legs and simultaneous heart full of gratitude I am telling you now- It is not wise.

If we only had one of the babies it would be hard. But the one-two punch is staggering. Crippling. It's not to say it isn't doable. We are doing it. But the doing comes with a price: feeling like you can't give the babies enough because there isn't enough of you to go around. This applies to all the kids, for that matter. And it's not just a feeling. It's reality.

I know God and the universe brought us to this place for a reason. I know it is good stuff. I don't want an easy, lukewarm life.  I am trying to embrace and appreciate and live in the moment with the kids. And I know that what doesn't kill us makes us stronger. Heck, in the midst of this trying time hubs and I had a heartfelt reflection on a future in foster parenting when these kids are all older. (Way way older).

So I know we aren't licked. Not yet. Not ever.

It's just hard. And that is the truth.

10.27.2010

LARZ ANDERSON PARK

My favorite park. Some of my favorite people. New England Weather Gods having pity on me and sending me a 74 degree day.

Aaaahhhhhh.

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10.25.2010

POTPOURRI

This doesn't happen that often (the sleeping that is)
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self explanatory
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Our kiddos' great-grandparents were in town. More on this glorious meeting later.
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You know Halloween is on our doorstep when Grandma Jane is in full Staci's Idea Execution Mode. I will have you know, depicted below is my very own newly bought sewing machine. Sure, I haven't learned how to use it yet, but it's here. I will get to it in 2012.
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I need more hands. I have turned to the four-year-old for the extra appendages. She is digging on the extra responsibility and I hear less screaming while cooking dinner. Win win.
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I feel fall completely passing us by. It's an ugly feeling. I am not ready for winter. I am already running the heater. Every year around this time I wonder how I will ever make it until Spring. Sigh.

10.22.2010

THERE AND BACK AGAIN, AGAIN

I am sure you are wishing I would post something witty or deep for once. I know I know, enough already with the hospitals and such.

Fine. We are done (ish).

Brady Cakes, a shiny new copy of Gone With the Wind and I were admitted back into Mass General Monday after having been home for only two days, and last night we came home victorious with a well-loved Gone With the Wind and a shiny new g-tube.

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MGH Ellison 17, the most amazing pediatrics floor we've ever been on. That's right, you heard me Children's Hospital.

My award-winning mother held down the fort with the three biggies and I camped out with B at the hospital for three hard but glorious days. Glorious because for the first time in his life, we had constant companionship. Sleeping next to him, answering every whimper, giving every feed, letting him sleep on me, we've never yet had that. I was always too fearful of leaving Tsega. It is so hard to be pulled in different directions, and to feel guilt and decide which child will get the shaft on a given day. Well, it was Brady's turn. He needed his Mama. I was so happy to be there with him every moment.

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This week at the hospital he passed his four month birthday. Four months in the hospital. Four months of fighting to catch up. Four months of not enough time with his Mama. It was a sobering birthday, especially since all he got was an IV and temporary ng tube.

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I was too busy with the sniffles to get a shot of the anesthesiologist carrying my sweet man into the OR. All I got was the door closing on them.

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Daddy came to give loves during recovery.
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We had a few days full of constant whimpers and sadness and crashing hard.
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But then these lovely medical professionals came and escorted us home.
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We are home. To stay.

Whew.

10.18.2010

BROTHAS

I don't have a lot of bloggable words these days. We are staying afloat. Brady went back to the hospital (MGH this time, since we don't want to leave a major Boston hospital off his tour) and is back home, with mixed feelings and still no g-tube. It's killing me slowly stressful that he still is not eating well, and there doesn't seem to be much we can do about it but cry --he and I both. More check ups and appointments this week. We will figure it out. We have to.

In the meantime, Tsega has fallen in love with his siblings. I mean, some visceral connection happened in the past week wherein he decided to be a full-fledged member of the Scooping it Up Kids. He loves them all. And they love him.

Here he is, learning to be gentle to his baby.

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like I said, he's learning to be gentle.

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10.16.2010

OUTSIDE



look at the mama in his eye, in a contorted pose, camera in one hand, toy to catch attention in the other. the things we do to get a picture...







a boy needs a stick








here's to trying not to miss all of fall...

10.12.2010

GOING ON A SANITY HUNT

Tonight two exhausted parents lay crumpled on the love seat. Leaning, eyes closed, a brief respite in between feedings, pumpings, holdings, changings, dishes. The dishwasher hums (thanks to Grandma) and the TV flickers. A baby snores in a moses basket.

To my handsome hubs I likened our ongoing situation here as the part in the "Bear Hunt" chanting song where one gets to the forest. The tall dark forest.

You can't go over it
You can't go under it
You've got to go through it.

Hubs reminded me, with a sigh and then a laugh that in the bear hunt book we have here at home, in the forest part the words repeat over and over

Stumble, trip
Stumble, trip
Stumble, trip.

With my flagrant everyday stumbling and tripping, I have decided to market my own t-shirt. At any given moment I have only two things to say to the people in my life. Sometimes, I need to say them at the same time.





This t-shirt is recommended for families whos' ridiculous crises last more than five weeks. If it lasts all year (like mine) you can have one for free. My gift to you. Your friends, children, and helpful family members will appreciate your clear communication. Since everything out of your mouth will be tainted with sleep deprived stupidity and stress-induced brattiness, you can count on this shirt to help you say what really matters. And how you really feel.

I will let you know when they become available.

Oh, and to everyone who I know: Thank you. And I'm sorry.

10.10.2010

WHEN YOU-KNOW-WHO COMES MARCHING...

I have a confession.
The littlest one in our family, after 109 long days in various NICUs 'round the Boston area, is home.

He has been for a few days.

But I haven't said a word to my loyal friends and supporters and even some family because a) I have learned that raising two babies different ages is a terrible idea, way more exhausting and time consuming than I could have ever imagined, despite a social worker from our adoption agency repeatedly trying inform me of this, and b) a more painful reason is that we don't know if he's here for good. I have mourned that his homecoming wasn't the relief I wanted it to be. At first, I just didn't want to say anything because I didn't want to hear Congratulations! what with being still in the woods an all.

See, he's not ready. He still doesn't eat well. For you medically inclined peeps, a baby is supposed to eat about 120-130 mls of milk per kilo in 24 hours to properly grow. Brady -at most- sucks down 85-100. It's not bad, but it's not great. He has hovered in that range for some time, hence receiving supplemental milk through the tube in his nose. By the way, having a kid in hospitals teaches one all about the metric system. Go figure.

Two very good surgeons refused to give him a g-tube yet because he "just needs more time," (the mantra of a preemie, even one over 44 gestational weeks) but his docs and his mother believed this little boy is not going to improve spending day after day without his family. He hasn't improved his ability to suck in weeks, perhaps partly due to an acute case of hospitilitis. So, the Powers That Be proposed sending him home to see if by merely being in the loving care of his family things click for him. I believe this is a good idea. We are in sink or swim mode.

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his exit exam

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kisses from two of his loving Aunties

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as I head for the exit he questions the wisdom in this plan

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being mauled with love the moment he arrives home
And oh. my. gosh. It is not fun to watch one's kid not eat enough and not be able to do anything about it. I have a scale borrowed from our pediatricians office to monitor him for the next few days. I write down every detail of every feeding, every ml, how long it took, whether or not I squeezed it down his throat, if he had a wet diaper, how lethargic or awake he is. His flow chart is a thing of beauty. My sanity, well, it's being kept in check by the fact that my mother is here.


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Tsega doesn't know what to make of all this

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Grandpa Kerry is a big fan

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this is my favorite picture in the world (for now)
But despite my stress over watching my baby for signs of deterioration, it is surprisingly wonderful to have him here. He is peaceful. He is gentle. Every one loves him. Hand washing is at an all time high. His cry is like a tiny mewing kitten, and we honestly can't tell sometimes if the cat is stuck outside or if Brady needs to be rescued.

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I hope he doesn't have to go back to the hospital. I hope he turns this around in the next 48 hours. Because we sure like him.

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