Friday, September 25, 2009

Game On

Will it be tonight? Or in two weeks? I don't know about you, but my stomach can't take much more of this guessing. What's needed here is some premonition...and I ain't got none. What about you?

Taking a page from the play book of my blogging buddy Bobby at Those Two Daddies, I'm now announcing a Baby Birth Betting Pool. Have a sense of when the little guy might show up? Got a good dose of experience with such things and willing to take an educated guess? Or just unable to resist the urge to gamble? Well, now's your chance to put it on the line!

Here's how this contest is gonna work:
  • Leave a comment on this post with the date and time the baby will be born. (And if you have a reason why you're putting your chips on that number, let me know.)
  • "Price is Right" rules: person who comes closest without going over wins!
  • You must post before we indicate we're on the road to greet him.
  • At some point, I'll announce the big winner and the amazing prize (hmmm...that's still TBD; but trust me, it won't be fabulous but it will be fun.)
To level the playing field, I'll share all of the relevant info now.
  • V.'s due date is Oct. 16th, but...
  • Her c-section is scheduled for Oct. 6th, and...
  • She and her doctor say it could be any time.
  • The baby's been in position and there have been other signs of eminent labor (do the words "mucus plug" mean anything to you?) for more than a week.
  • V.'s been telling us for about a week that she's experiencing contractions. But they aren't consistent.
  • Our counselor has told us she can't count the number of birth mothers who thought they were going into labor weeks before they actually did. I suspect that once they feel good about the adoption plan they've made, they are eager to get it over with.
  • V. told us tonight that she hasn't been feeling well. She has a cold.
  • She went into labor with her first son almost two weeks after his due date.
Let the game begin. Now, good luck and have fun!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Emergency Preparedness

Urgent maintenance and repairs have been made, the gas tank has been filled, and the Subaru is packed to bursting. In it, we've got a car seat (still too superstitious to take it out of the box). We've got a Moses Basket that could cradle a little one for several days if we need to be in a hotel with the little guy while V. is still in the hospital recovering from her c-section. Filling it are some tiny adorable outfits, a few of which V. gave US at our match meeting, and a few of which our friends Marc and Jennifer gave us when they came over on Saturday with lots of wonderful hand-me-downs from their two wonderful boys. (THANK YOU!)

The baby's room now has a dresser ready to become a changer (a $250 Heywood-Wakefield sideboard steal!) and the rocker M. gave me for my birthday. The cat box and all of the artwork we still haven't hung since moving in in January are out and Marc and Jennifer's co-sleeper is in, ready to move to our bedroom when the time is right.

My wonderful friend and colleague Lisa couldn't resist plying us with a few useful baby items. (THANK YOU!) They and the few other things we've collected have been washed in sensitive skin detergent, folded and placed in the drawers. I've made some extra room in "my" closet in the room.

Lisa's got a key to the house and instructions to contact the former student with whom we've arranged to house and cat sit when the time is right. We're giving the cat lots of attention in preparation for being gone for awhile.

All of our electronic helpers (hassles?) are charged and ready to go: the cell phones, the cameras, the lap top. We have lists of family, friends, and colleagues - updated by my helpful sister-in-law (THANK YOU!) - ready to notify whenever there is news.

M. keeping the garden well quenched. The house is clean, and we're even keeping on top of the dishes, laundry, and bill paying.

A small, sentimental gift for V. has been ordered; I give it a 50/50 chance of arriving before we have to head out.

We're working late and hard to get on top of our professional responsibilities as much as possible. I've contacted my HR department and filled out my request for a leave of absence. I know who to call when there is a "life changing event" and we need to add a "dependent" to our insurance.

We've got a map of V.'s home town and know where the hospital is, the pro's and con's of various hotels in the area, where the Target and Traders Joe's are, and have even printed a (short) list of recommended restaurants from

We've canceled any upcoming plans to be more than a half-hour apart or further from home in the next few days. We've got lists prepped to remind us to lock the doors, set the AC, and bring the cat in if we need reminding in a state of panic.

But are we ready??? H-e-double-hockey-sticks NO!!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

...and Closer

Friday was great. The drive was uneventful and went quickly, with me reading through all the relevant stuff provided by our agency, and Matt putting the petal to the metal.

When we pulled into the parking lot, I saw D's big old Bronco. We hadn't expected him to be there, but were delighted. He's been such a great support to V. Next to it was a nice Prius. I joked that it must be the social worker's. Sure 'nuf, when we left three and a half hours later, that's what she got into! Interesting symbols...

M. spotted a Carrow's worker making her way into the restaurant ahead of us and quipped, "Little does she know, she'll be serving us her entire shift." He wasn't too far off.

When we walked up, D. was at the door, on the lookout for us. V. and S., the social worker, had already been meeting for more than an hour. It was great to see V. She seemed happy to see us, and her big belly looked even rounder and lower. I told her truthfully that I'd been feeling really good and excited until just a few minutes before when nerves took over. She said that she'd had the same experience. S. had been walking her through a lot of paperwork, and talking about the process for terminating parental rights. I'm sure it must have been very emotional.

Anyway, we chitchatted with nervous energy for a bit, and then S. got us down to business. First she asked me and M. to talk about our "love story," which was fun to do. She asked us about our childhoods, etc. Then she asked V. about her childhood, which was very challenging. She's been through a lot, so its impressive to me that she's been able to stay focused enough to make an adoption plan. She really wants a better life for her child.

S. asked us all a bunch more questions. What was really nice is that we had already talked about most of it. M. and I had decided that at this meeting, we needed to reveal something we feared might be a real turn off to V., and when an opening came up, we waded tentatively into it by telling her there was something we didn't want her to be surprised to learn later, but that we worried a bit about how she'd react. She looked a little concerned. Matt confessed: we're vegetarian. There was a big look of relief! "That's no problem. I was a vegetarian for awhile too!"

Later in the conversation, when we were talking about the hospital experience, who she wanted to be there (D. in the operating room, us there with the baby immediately after) and who she didn't, V. said, "Well, there's something I've been kinda worried about telling you guys." Uh oh. "If my friends visit me, they'll probably be wearing leather." She and D. explained that D. is part of a bike club, and that many of the people who have been encouraging her in her adoption plan are their buddies who have tattoos and wear jackets with a skull on the back and the name of the club, which is a "bad" word. Both V. and D. really wanted us to know that these are good, caring people, and that we shouldn't be intimidated by their looks.

M. assured her that we didn't care; if they are friends of hers, they are friends of ours. I did thank her for letting us know, so that I could warn my mother!

Finally we wrapped things up. S. gave us more paperwork to bring to the hospital. It turns out, the IAC won't have a representative there (unless there is a problem) and we have to give V. the termination papers. A little weird...S. did say that she'd contact the hospital on Monday to give the social workers there a heads up about this being an adoption situation and about the various arrangements we'd discussed regarding caring for the baby while he and/or V. are in the hospital, etc.

Then M. and I followed D. and V. in the old Bronco to her doctor's appointment. My goodness, it was the chicest office I've ever been to! As M. said, it looks like HGTV has been here. I was delighted to see that the receptionist and others knew V. and treated her with friendly respect. We waited with D. in the waiting room for awhile, while V. was getting checked out and then they called the three of us back.

The assistant who took us back congratulated us and told us that she was adopted, AND that Dr. H. is adopted. Cool!

Poor V. was stretched out in an uncomfortable position, waiting for the doctor to come back and give her the ultrasound. Several minutes later, he showed up and introductions were made. My initial impressions? Very nice (but not overly friendly) and YOUNG!

He hooked up the machine and squirted V.'s big belly with the goo that she reported was painfully cold. Immediately, there were blobs on the screen.

Truthfully, I expected this to be a very emotional moment. It was definitely special, but for me it was more interesting intellectually than emotionally stirring. I think that's partly because the baby was not in a position in which his features could be easily identified. That's an ear? Okay, doc, we'll take your word for it.

He is reluctant to schedule the c-section date and will wait until her 38th week to do so (around Oct. 6th). But he said it could be anytime now. The baby looks healthy; I asked if he could tell how much the baby weighs now. He thinks about six pounds.

We talked about how if it is a scheduled c-section, it will be at one hospital, but if she goes into labor, it becomes an emergency c-section and she can go to any hospital, including the one where they both prefer to deliver.

The appointment wrapped up with the doctor telling us we were doing a really good thing, and me expressing what I'm truly feeling, that we are very fortunate. We shook his hand again, thanked him for his special care of V., and told him we'd see him soon. Weird!

We walked out into the afternoon heat and all breathed a deep sigh of relief. V. admitted being exhausted. We took awhile to say goodbye, letting her know we'd be ready to be back as soon as she needs us to be.

...which might be tonight. She called earlier and spoke briefly to M. She thinks she may be having contractions.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Getting Closer

We'd had plans for months to spend a long weekend in San Diego last weekend, a couple of days at a B&B in M.'s old neighborhood and a couple of days camping at the beach with my brother and his family, who were out from Arizona. So when we didn't hear from V. after her appointment on Thursday afternoon as anticipated, we started stressing. Might she be in trouble and unable to call? Or could the baby have arrived and somehow we'd missed connecting? Or, most probably, had she changed her mind about placing and neglected to tell us?

I scrambled to finish things up as much as possible at work, but then arrived home to a big decision: to go, or not to go to San Diego? And if we go, for how long? Our nights at the B&G were non-refundable.

M. was operating under the assumption that we would go, but just until Sunday because V. had told him she suspected the baby would be born on Tuesday (not sure why she was thinking that; something about her doctor's schedule...) Not having heard from her, I was especially eager to escape to the beach. So I convinced him to add our camping gear to our stuff so that we could stay longer if the circumstances enabled it. I declare that I didn't want to live our lives on the edge of our seats waiting for this baby - who may or may not become ours - to be born. (Fortunately, due to someone's superpower - organization - it was quick and easy to get the gear together.) Off we went.

We had a nice drive down and checked into our accommodations: kinda shabby and funky but charming, with a kinda shabby and funky but charming inn keeper. Then we began exploring the neighborhood and the adjacent canyon on foot. According to M., the area has really gentrified! There were all kinds of trendy restaurants and shops along the main stretch. We settled into a chic wine bar over two nice glasses and an abundant cheese plate. As we were wrapping up, my cell phone rang (a rare occurrence). It was V.

She apologized for not calling earlier, and we ensured her it was no problem! She told us that all had gone well at her appointment yesterday. She had been concerned because she was experiencing less movement, and the doctor encouraged her to drink apple juice. She has been, and the kid's perked up. They did end up sending her to the hospital for some more extensive monitoring and reported that she IS having contractions...but they are NOT labor related. Her due date has been revised to October 16th (again with the caveat that she may not make it that long). This was especially good news, as it puts her close to 36 weeks of gestation.

And she asked us to join her at her doctor's appointment tomorrow! Of course, we are honored and thrilled.

Since we're headed out to see her, we're going to use the occasion for an official "match meeting." We've been assigned a new adoption counselor, S., who will see us through the rest of the process. M. and I haven't met her yet, but our interaction with her on the phone so far has been positive. She seems responsive, empathetic, and evidenced by her willingness to drive out to the boonies to meet us with V. this week.

Before we rendezvous with V., S. will pick her up and they will do some counseling and probably sign some pre-termination papers, etc. Then we'll meet up with them at Carrows. (M. and I are kinda hoping this doesn't become "our" restaurant, in light of its limited veggie menu). We'll go through all kinds of things together, including things how V. wants the hospital experience to go, naming, circumcision, contact after birth, etc., etc. Fortunately, I think we've already talked about most of these things with V., so we're not expecting a lot surprises. I am a little nervous that we may share something - such as our atypical diet - that will turn her off. But we've resolved to continue to be open and honest.

After the looooong meeting, we'll accompany V. to the doctor's appointment that will likely include an ultrasound. Oh, my! Following that, we've offered to take her shopping to get some pants that fit (we've joked about how quickly she's growing out of jeans she thought were huge at one point) or something nice and comfy for the hospital. But, I'm guessing that it will be a very long day and she'll be too tired. And truth be told, I'm sure we'll be exhausted too after the intensity of it all.

With most of these details settled, we were able to REALLY relax and enjoy the rest of our weekend, staying through Monday evening. (M. had to get back to deal with an unexpected work crisis on Tuesday morning, but this gave us most of that day to get more on top of all the things I needed to, to feel a bit more prepared, such as seven - seven! - loads of laundry and getting the timing belt on the Subaru replaced.

The water was so warm and clear. We loafed about and caught up with family. Both of us got a bit more sun that we should've but it felt like an end-of-the-summer priveledge. We board and body surfed and built drip castles. The weather was just about perfect and we really enjoyed each others' company.

We returned home late on Monday night to several big packages, a few of them "essential" baby-related items including a car seat. M. and I have resolved that we'll pack an overnight bag - but not more - to take with us tomorrow, in case we end up needing to stay longer than expected. :)

Work this week (ummm, TWO days) has been crazy busy. But when I left (very late) this evening, I sent an email to my boss and assistant with a five page To Do list for all of my major programs and projects this fall. I told them that I anticipated being able to make further progress before needing to take my parental leave but that the info was incase they need to pick up where I've left off, and that I appreciated their support of our adoption. My boss also signed my leave application, with blank dates. So I'm feeling a bit more like the details are coming together.

I just hope it is not all for naught....

(Sorry I haven't found time or energy to provide more consistant updates; I'm afraid it doesn't bode well for my ability to keep up with blogging during early parenthood. Thanks, though, to all who have been in touch and/or sent your good thoughts and encouragement our way. I hope to have more good news - and to share it - soon!)

Sunday, September 6, 2009

It's a Match!

Note: This post indulges those who've begged for details (yes, that's you, Mom). For others just hoping for a quick update, skip to the bottom.

Aug. 31 p.m.

M. and I go for a jog around the neighborhood. We return and he (fortunately) checks his email. He says, “Hon, come check this out. We got an email from a birth mother and it sounds good.” I’m skeptical. Truth is, we’ve received many messages from “birth mothers” over the months, and there has always been something off about them, such as the one that attached photos of “herself” that were obviously stolen from a maternity magazine. There are a lot of scammers out there…

But Matt was right. This email included some important details, including a full name (V.), a hometown (someplace a little more than two hours from us), and reference to things she liked about our profile. She also said that she was nervous, but knew open adoption was the right thing to give her daughter – who is expected in a few weeks – the life she deserves.

We hopped on line and hammered out this response:

Hi V.,

Thanks so much for your message! It is great to hear from you. We totally understand that you might be nervous. We are too! But it's great that you are reaching out and working to make a plan for you and your daughter.

We loved hearing that one of the things that attracts you to us is our traveling, because it is something we really look forward to sharing with our child someday.

What more can we tell you about ourselves now? Of course, we're really curious about you. How has this pregnancy been for you? Are you feeling okay? It's probably felt like a long, hot summer!

Feel free to email or call. We plan to be home for the rest of the evening tonight (we just got back from a run and now we're making dinner together), and after about 8 p.m. tomorrow night. We hope to hear from you soon.

Take care and best wishes,
M. and Kristin

We start to make dinner and the phone rings! We spend about 50 minutes chatting with V. At first it is a little stilted and awkward, but we all acknowledg that it is an unusual situation and laugh at ourselves.

We like the questions V. asks and we mostly ask her about herself – what she likes to do (photography, writing – sound familiar?), and her son, who will be two in December. Though she sees him often, her dad is “parenting” him, and she knows that it won’t be any easier for her with another baby.

We learn a little about the baby that she is carrying. She is quite active and already responding to music. V. indicates that she’s receiving regular prenatal care and that the doctors report her daughter is healthy. The mystery is due date: V. has been given two – one is Sept. 15 and the other is Oct. 28. (???!!!)

Before we go to bed (for a restless sleep), we send off another message:

Hello again,

We really enjoyed connecting with you by phone.

Of course, it is music to our ears that you are considering adoption and that you might want to get to know us better. We really do understand that this is an incredibly difficult and important decision for you. Know that whatever you decide - to parent or place your daughter, with us or with another family, we think you are a strong, brave, and compassionate person.

We'd love to continue to get to know you more. Would you like to plan another time to talk?

All the best,
M. and Kristin

Sept. 1.

In the morning, I call the birthparent intake counselor at our agency, as instructed, and let her know we've received "a contact." She says she knows V. has been in touch with another family. Uh oh! But she indicates that the situation seems to be "good" (implying to me that she thought it was legit.)

n the afternoon, another friendly email from V. arrives. Attached are four photos! She thanks us for helping her feel comfortable and not nervous any more. (So sweet!)

I send her back a message that says:

Hi V.,

Wow, [your son] is ADORABLE (and his momma is pretty cute too :) )! Thanks so much for sharing those photos.

You may have already checked out all the photos of us in the "gallery" on our adoption web site. We’ve also created an adoption video; its kinda goofy, but it might give you a better sense of who we are: [YouTube Video link]

How did your doctor’s appointment go today? Hope all is well. Were you able to get a clearer sense of the due date?

We’re glad you felt comfortable talking with us. We were nervous at first too. Lets face it, its a pretty unusual and awkward situation. So it was great that we seemed to connect about so many things. If you want to talk again... We don't want you to feel pressured to get in touch soon; we know you have a lot going on. On the other hand, if you are eager to keep things rolling, we want you to know wed be excited to chat some more.

Take good care,

She writes back that afternoon, saying she'd love to talk again soon and sending along some more photos. She says her doctor's appointment has been moved to Friday, so still no clarification about the due date. She tell us that she's been stressing for months, but that now she is feeling calm and relaxed. She's talked with some other families, but none of them make her feel how we do. She thinks we'd be a great family for her baby.

Whoa!! Deep breaths. This is all going so well..and so quickly! We exchange more messages and plan to talk about in the evening.

But the call doesn't come...I spend another near-sleepless night.

Sept. 2

Then I get to work and log on! She's emailed apologizing for having phone trouble. She asks if we are excited about becoming parents. I respond:

Hi V.,

Thanks for your message. (I wish I'd thought to check my email last night!)....

M. and I are excited and ready to become parents. We've waited a long time, and have so many hopes and dreams for our little one. We've enjoyed our connection with you and are hoping that this might be a great match for everyone...especially your daughter.

Take care,

Kristin (and M.)

We suggest that she get in touch with a counselor at out agency who can "tell [her] more about the open adoption process and give [her] an idea about counseling and support available with no pressure involved." We encourage her to email or call us with more questions in the meantime, if she'd like.

In the afternoon the counselor tries to reach both of us but has to leave a message. She indicates that she's talked with V. (yeah! Follow through!) and done an "intake," which means she's asked her some of the sensitive questions it hasn't been appropriate for us to. We are delighted by the scant info we receive: no history of drugs or physical or mental health issues. We get just a little info about the birth father.

V. does email again, and asks some more good questions, such as why we want an open adoption. M. responds. Then later in the evening she calls and we both talk to her, this time for almost 70 minutes. It is an easy, interesting conversation. Except for...

She asks if we have any names in mind. I start to go into a spiel about having a long list, but wanting to narrow it down with our eventual birth family. At that point, I pass M. the phone and she tells him that she has a name she loves. Well, folks, it was, how shall I say...a name we would classify as "a made up Irish name." M. jots it down and it's so far from anything we've imagined, I can't help but laugh! He stammers, "Well, eh, what do you think of XXX?" Think of her contributing Madisonia and us suggesting Sarah. We all kinda giggle at how far apart we appear to be and move on to more compatible subjects.

V. promises to let us know how her doctor's appointment on Friday afternoon goes.

Sept. 3

I am able to reach the adoption counselor. She relates more details of what V's reported. What's cool as that we already know almost all of it, because we've already talked with her about it directly. This is feeling like what I hoped an open adoption would feel like: open and honest.

M. and I talk about wanting to meet with her soon, so that we can really determine if we'd like to match with her. We're getting excited. We call her that evening and SHE asks tentatively if we'd like to meet her. We respond enthusiastically! We agree to meet her at a restaurant in her hometown for lunch on Saturday - two days away!! I let her know that if she'd like to invite a friend along, we'd welcome that. (She's spoken fondly of her friend who encouraged her to stay with him when things weren't going well with her roommates. V. says that D. is the first person she talked with about adoption, and that he's been a wonderful support.)

Sept. 4

M. picks up a phone call from V. She says, "I hope you haven't bought anything pink!!" She's in shock. Having been told previously that she's having a girl, she been envisioning the little one she's carrying that way. But this afternoon her doctor found strong evidence to the contrary. She emails us an ultrasound photo, and sure enough, even we amateurs can make out some pretty strong clues of maleness!

She relates a little to M. about other news from the appointment, but she asks him for me to call. I'm delighted to do so when I get home from work. It's funny. M. and I only allowed ourselves to think we might be having a daughter for four days, and when we learned we weren't, I think we both felt some loss. But it was very easy to shift gears and get excited about the prospect of a son, especially for me, who's been fantasizing about a little guy in rocketship jammies for years.

V. and I have another nice, long conservation. She reports that the doctor again indicated that the baby is doing well. According to the measurements, he's due date is Oct. 28th. However, according to his positioning, he could come much earlier. I am somewhat relieved to learn that the doc scheduled the next ultrasound for September 18th, suggesting that he doesn't think the baby will show up before then. Regardless, I can't help Googling "delivery at 32 weeks" and learning some scary things. I hope that kid can stay put for several more weeks! (V. thinks it will be earlier and told us we're now on her friend's speed dial!)

We also know now that he'll be born at an Adventist medical center. M. and I immediately think, "Yummy veggie food in the cafeteria!" V. is happy about this too, since her other son was born there and she is already familiar with it.

I bake cookies for V. that evening, which is a nice way to keep somewhat distracted. Never-the-less, I fall into bed exhausted but have trouble sleeping. I am too excited.

Sept. 5

Is this the day? Will we actually meet the woman who will make it possible for us to become parents? Will we get to see our son, snuggled safely inside her belly?

What will it be like? What will SHE be like? What if she takes one look at us and decides we're too old/fat/ugly/whatever to parent her beloved child?M. and I both wake up earlier than we would on a typical Saturday morning. We laze about a bit and marvel at the strangeness of our situation. It is nice just being in bed with my sweetie.

But then I can't take it any longer. I get up and start doing "things." So does M. He prints out some nice pictures that V. hasn't seen before, to give to her. I print out my earlier post about my Open Adoption Wish List. From the conversations we've had, I think V. will appreciate it.With a little more last-minute rushing than I'd prefer (which I will attribute to M.'s butterflies), we're out the door and on the road by 10:15 a.m. It's a nice ride. We talk about other stuff. But we never stray for long. We ask each other several times how we're doing. We both always say something like, "Good. A little nervous, but mostly excited."V. has suggested we meet between noon and 12:30 p.m. at a place she loves.

We're starting to get stressed because it seems like we'll be a few minutes late. So I give her a call and let her know. Unfortunately, I have to leave a message, so I worry that she's sitting there, wondering if we've abandoned her.We pull up to the restaurant. She's not there. In fact, NO one is there. Uh oh! The place is closed for lunch on the weekends. We wait awhile. M. and I make jokes that she's seen us and made a U-turn. I feel just a little bit anxious.

Then they pull up. Hugs are exchanged. Laughter is nervous. V. is very cute, with a nice round belly and a little penguin waddle. D. is a big guy whose looks could be intimidating, but his welcome is warm, and I can tell that he is protective of V., which endears him to us. She is embarrassed about the restaurant being closed. We assure her that the Carrows down the road will do just fine. We precede over there.

...And we spend a couple of hours together. Conversation is easy. We discover similarities and many differences, but there don't feel to be judgments involved. V. seems delighted with the cookies and genuinely interested in all of the photos. She talks more about what it's like to be pregnant, and has us both put our hands on her belly to feel the little guy move about. (A Juno moment!) It gives me goosebumps and a lump in my throat. She talks about wanting to make good of her difficult situation, and that maybe this was all meant to be. (Remember, I am not a faithful person, but I definitely get chills then!)

We talk about her doctor, and the hospital, and that she wants D. to be in the operating room with her (her previous birth was a c-section, and this will be too), but she wants us to be there to give the baby his first bath. Oh, my!We tell her that we hoped timing would work out for her to come visit our home before the baby is born. She said she'd love to.

Finally, dessert course eaten and dishes long cleared, server shift over and other guests out, we wrap things up by lingering in the parking lot. M. has the presence of mind to ask to take a few photos, and he does. They are cute and I'm already picturing them in our son's life book.We drive away wondering if the next time we see each other, there would be a little baby to welcome.

Sept. 8

And today, V. calls the agency and so do I. Independently, we report that we are so happy and excited. It's official: WE HAVE A MATCH!

Friday, September 4, 2009


That is all...for the moment.