Sunday, August 31, 2008

Time



I may have a little too much time on my hands at work today. i should be spending it reading about cerebral physiology....but...i'm not. Instead I am blogging up a storm.

I have spent today thinking about "A", 5 year old boy in the Belovodsk preschool house in Kyrgyzstan. I have one picture, which makes him real to me - no real information about him. When I talked to Karen she didn't have his medical yet or know too much about him. I don't know if she has that info yet. It is going to take so long to get through this stupid Alabama system for homestudy approval - it is ridiculous. So there really is no rush to get that info to us...we can't officially accept a referral until we are at least close to paper ready.

When I decided to adopt in Arizona I was done with my homestudy and dossier in 10 weeks and then it was on it's way to Kyrgyzstan. Now in this stupid state I have to wait 10 weeks for my fingerprints to come back before we can even start our homestudy. I have to proceed slowly because it might look bad to the state board that reviews homestudies that Keith and I have been married only a year and have a new son and want to adopt another.

I am sure most of you readers can relate to the wanting to get through paperwork quickly....well wanting to get through the whole process quickly and get your kids home. The whole waiting 3 months before I can even start my homestudy gig was a little easier to handle when there wasn't a real face at the end of this tunnel. Where I was thinking about in terms of what it means to me to have to wait 3 extra months...now I am thinking about what it means to A to have to wait 3 extra months to start the homestudy; what it means to have to wait the extra 2 months for the homestudy to get approved by DHR - all in all, because I live in Alabama I have to wait almost 6 extra months that I wouldn't be waiting in Arizona. In Arizona I would be paper ready by the end of October. That will mean an extra year behind in school, an extra set of holidays spent without a family....it is definitely frustrating.

I think I am more frustrated at this waiting than I was when I had to wait an extra couple of months to pick up Zeb. For some reason it is easier for me to accept and excuse extra waiting related to another country's government than to excuse beurocratic red tape and ridiculous hoops from my own state. Seriously, I pay taxes so the state government can make my life that much more difficult. I got people that will make my life difficult for free!

Knowing I am so far away from our first trip means that I really have to remind myself that I can't get any kind of attached to the face in the picture. There are no guarantees with referrals, especially when you can't travel for like 6 months...ug. It is also very anxiety -provoking to know that in 6 months who knows what changes there may be in the country process! It is hard not to let plans seep in every once in a while though. Every once in a while it is fun to look at bunk beds for the boys' room, to look at 5 yo boys clothing, to think about the bigger rough and tumble swing set we are going to need!

We are making some preparations that aren't A specific - like working on our Russian...ok it is way limited right now! I am meeting with a native Russian speaking woman I met on Craig's list on Tuesday to start planning our family Russian lessons and we are starting next Sunday. I am taking more homecall to try to bulk up that saving's account...that somehow we keep dipping into (oh yeah because I am a spending machine that's why), and Keith keeps doing the most impressive home improvements I have ever witnessed.

I am usually ok with the waiting and pushing the whole thing to the back of my mind so it isn't torturing me...sometimes I am reminded of the ridiculousness of the amount of waiting we have to do for the state of Alabama and I get frustrated all over again. I am going to push it out of my mind until October 20th...that is the day I have marked to start getting the info for the dossier and homestudy done.

Ready to retire!

I only took 3 weeks off of work after Ben was born. He came home from the hospital on a friday and the very next monday was my first day back at work. I worked a week and then took a week vacation. Luckily, however, I didn't have any call for that month. Starting on Wednesday last week I was on the call schedule. I was on call Wednesday night. It was my first call as the OB senior...woohoo.
All last year I was the junior resident so I answered pages for all of the floor problems and was reponsible for putting in the epidurals. It is hard to explain the depth of my dislike for OB call as a junior. There is the fact that you get very little sleep, but the actual act of pushing around a 75 pound cart of epidural supplies all night was just annoying. Doing the actual epidural is kind of fun but 4am, exhausted, pushing that cart around was something I dreaded. I seriously tried to get out of OB call last year as much as possible - I would switch for general OR call - which has more work and less chance for time to sleep...but there was no epidural cart to push around.
I am digressing, because now I am a senior resident over here - so I don't usually have to push the epidural cart or answer all of the annoying minutia pages that keep you up all night. So, in general call for the OB senior involves time to study and sleep.
Wednesday night, however, was like one of the circles of hell over on the OB floor. We were in the OR all night doing C sections and they were all difficult to manage - for anyone reading who is familiar with obstetrical anesthesia - we had 5 csections - 4 were general's, one was a spinal that went to a general for a c-hyst, and 2 of the general's had such bad airways we used the fiberoptic and one aspirated - we had to transport 2 to the unit....for anyone else who doesn't understand how crappy my night was....it was crappy.

Friday night, I was on again and it was much quieter - I got to enjoy the extra comfy senior call room bed for about 5 hours of page free sleep. I am on again today and so far it has been really nice...obviously I have time to blog! I am hoping that it stays relatively quiet - although funny thing about babies..they kind of just show up when they want!

Thursday I took Ben to the dr and he has gained 22 ounces in 3 weeks..he is now 6# 4 oz....hurrah - he is officially at term and has a respectable term weight. He also smiled in what I think was a social way yesterday...so cute.

Zeb also went to the dr on Friday....the pediatric urologist in anticipation for his impending circumsicion (which I think I am spelling wrong!). I have thought about whether or not to do this for quite some time...one of my flaws is that I am remarkably judicious and can argue with myself endlessly.

On one hand, an uncircumsized penis is hard to care for in terms of diaper changes and in terms of infection risk througout his life - please forgive me if I don't quote studies here! However, the infection rate isn't that much higher. I must say I believe that Z has had at least one UTI that we treated with aggressive hydration secondary to a couple of days of very foul-smelling urine! There are social reasons - eliminating another difference between him and his dad, between him and the majority of boys in the locker room with him in high school. Women with sexual partners that have uncircumsized penis(es) have higher rates of infections, including hpv, and abnormal pap smears - yeah I am thinking ahead....way ahead...way...way...way....way ahead!

On the other hand - the infection rate isn't that much higher and good hygiene practices can really minimize that. Am a severing another tie to kyrgyzstan and his relationship to that culture? I have to worry that he may resent that when he is older. However, children resent their parents for something no matter what we do..it is human nature.

I was really in a deadlock and decided that I wouldn't get him circumsized unless he needed anesthesia for another procedure. He now needs tubes in his ears and his adenoids out so we are going to do them all together. I know this used to be a controversial subject - I don't know if it still is, but I can see both sides of this one.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Three years ago today



I know that hurricane Katrina changed a lot people's lives. I evacuated from New Orleans the saturday before the hurricane hit...so about a day and a half before it hit with my daughter, her dad, his mother and our dog. It was not really a big deal at the time - I thought we would just have a long weekend in College Station, Texas (the closest Hotel we could find!). I was surprised when the levees broke and instead of heading back on Tuesday - we drove on to Tucson to stay with my parents until the whole mess sorted out.

Although my first marriage kind of had the writing on the wall by about the second month of my first year of medical school....hurricane Katrina was the death knell.

L's dad went back to New Orleans three weeks later and we went back at the beginning of October. L's dad quickly left for North Louisiana and it was me, a 2 year old, a dog and a big box of MRE's. That is no way to live if you don't have to live that way...although i can't complain about the MRE's talk about easy preparation and a full balanced meal...mmm.

I may have talked about the night I decided I was taking L back to Tucson. I picked her up at her day care and she really wanted chicken nuggets...I spent 2 hours driving around a dark city trying to find a grocery store or restaurant open at 430pm with a crying 2 year old.

So why do I mention this - I was overwhelmed, lonely, and spent my time in the post-hurricane New Orleans really being introspective-trying to figure out what was important to me. I think if it hadn't been for Hurricane Katrina coupled with that time I spent alone with Lilianna in post-Katrina New Orleans - I wouldn't have the wonderful life I have today. My first marriage would have staggered on in a totally dysfunctional but doable way for who knows how long and I purposefully was not interested in bringing another child into that dysfunctional situation....

So..what I am trying to say is that without Hurricane Katrina's influence on my life I wouldn't be nearly this happy, there would be no Zeb, Ben, O or Keith. Like many people from the gulf coast, Katrina changed my life.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

one year ago today

So today is my anniversary. It is also Keith's anniversary too....although you wouldn't be able to tell by looking at the gifts each of us got. I got Keith a cool little frame with pictures of the kids in it for him to take to work. I was thinking ...be cheap...we have homestudies and other assorted adoption expenses to pay for.....I also was thinking...I have no idea what to get him! He got me way too much. I am officially an eight cow wife. He got me an espresso machine and a super beautiful pearl necklace....and I got him a picture frame.

Our fabulous new nanny stayed late and we went out to Dinner at KOBE. I love watching someone set my food on fire.

It is so weird to think that we have only been married one year. Seriously, I feel like we are an old married couple in a good way. I can't imagine life without him around. I can't believe how hard my life used to be and I didn't even know it. 2 years ago I thought I was happy...I was the happiest I had ever been and now, looking back, it was hard work and I wasn't nearly as happy as I am now.

I feel like finding Keith was some sort of reward for something good I may have done in my life - not that I feel like I deserve any kind of reward for anything. In fact, I frequently feel like I don't deserve my life right now. I am just so lucky.

You would think that I might feel overwhelmed - 4 kids (2 under 2yo), and a job that requires 60-80 hours a week - but I just feel lucky...ok and somewhat tired! 90% of the reason I am not overwhelmed and I feel lucky is because of Keith.

Thank you and I love you.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Extra prayers?

If you have some extra time, check out my friend, Shannon's blog http://bringinghomeourangel.blogspot.com/
and if you feel moved, please add her daughter to your prayers! That is a little girl that needs to come home from Kyrgyzstan.

True confessions - out of the closet

So, I have always known that Keith and I are going to adopt again. We were led to Africa last fall and we were set to start the process to adopt from Ghana when Villa Hope told us that the state of Alabama would not approve a homestudy for us since we hadn't been married a year. Well we decided to put it off and thought we would just start in early summer to get everything ready and then trudge forward when our anniversary rolled around in August...then we got pregnant. AAI is one of those agencies that believes you need to wait one year between adding children to your family...I am not criticizing this policy - it certainly makes sense...you want to make sure you haven't reached your tipping point, you need to make sure that everyone fits in the family ok...you have to get your routine down.

Because we are crazy...and because we have to do a brand new homestudy to readopt Zeb (I adopted him as a single mom in Arizona), we decided to go ahead and start another adoption and move slllooooooowwwwww. In Alabama you kind of have to move slow - at least with Villa Hope. We have to have our background check fingerprints done and back before they will even schedule a home visit. We also have to have all of the paperwork (like medical exams) turned into them before they even assign a social worker. So, we thought we would just take it easy without all of the crazy rush from last time. We thought that we would try to have our home visits near Christmas and try to get our dossier ready to go by like January or February.

The biggest discussion was where we were going to adopt from. I still love Ghana, I have a monthly recurring donation to an orphanage there and would love to do more...but our hearts are calling us back to Kyrgyzstan. So we put in our application with Adoption Alliance to adopt a girl 9yo or younger with minor special needs. We filled out the preliminary application in July and had been kind of dragging our feet with the formal application. We have so much time before we can finish our homestudy there was really no big rush.

There really is still nothing we can do about our timeline....but last week our coordinator called me. I saw on my caller ID it was a call from adoption alliance, but I was at work and I thought it was someone from the agency calling to see where our formal application was...so I didn't answer it. Then I listened to the message later and it was Karen, asking if we would consider another boy instead of a girl because they have 5 year old Russian boy who is ready for adoption and she thought of me. When we sent in our postplacement pictures for Zeb's post placement reports - one of them was Z with Lilianna....and she thought the little boy looked so much like Lilianna that everyone would think they were twins. I think they also may have thought of me because of the lost referral I had last time was a 2 year old Russian boy. Maybe they didn't really think of me for any reason other than we indicated we were open to any age child under 9 yo...I don't really know.

So we discussed it....a lot.
1. This is going to be it for us until someone moves out for college...do I really want another girl and will I miss not having another daughter/sister for Lilianna?
100% Honesty here....my boys have been sooo much easier than L....and they continue to be easier than L. Girls are high maintenance..I know I am one (barely!). L does talk about wanting a sister and wanting there to be an even amount of boys and girls in our house. However, she has also talked about wanting to be the only princess in the house and keeping her own room.

2. Can we really afford this right now? Ben's bill from the NICU was $143K...they totally charge about $20K for the stupid circumsicion...luckily so far we haven't been charged more than our cap of $2K and his apnea monitor has like $50 monthly copay. Luckily, all of my time off was paid and we had a killer tax refund...overall, the amount we are responsible for with Ben is a lot less than we thought it was going to be....a lot less. My house is rented so we don't have that burden and we had to switch nannies which was stressfull but financially better because we had just given our last nanny a raise. Also, we are way better off financially than when I started Z's adoption. I do have really great moonlighting opportunities at work which I can really double my salary if I work an extra 30 - 40 hours a month. There are so many opportunities in our lifestyle for cutting back expenses it is really and truly ridiculous. I started last week with no coffee and no eating out for lunch at work....it was killing me...but I just stopped cold turkey. Now Keith bought me some coffee while we were waiting to get into the jail to get our fingerprints done on Friday...but it wasn't at work! That starbucks at the hospital is just bad!

We talked about it..slept on it...talked about it some more. For anyone who knows me...I really do make a lot of decisions with my gut. It has to feel right and I trust that your gut is led by a higher source...the universe ...God... whatever higher power you believe in. I also believe that I am not omniscient enough to know what is best for me and my family...seriously. Who am I to say that to complete our family we need a girl. Karen's phone call reminded me that family planning does not mean choosing every single variable like you are decorating your living room or something. I think that when you open your life up to international adoption you do so with a certain degree of faith...that you have a child somewhere out there who is going to make your life and your family better and I don't know who that child is...but they are out there.

So we are interested and are waiting for his medical...there is obviously no rush because we can't be paper ready for several months and the Kyrgyzstan adoption committee is not setting a world record with adoption decrees. Of course, because we are not paper ready and can not travel on our first trip before 2009, there is always the possibility that another family from another agency will adopt him before we can get to that point. There is always a certain degree of uncertainty in international adoption, but I have faith in the process and I have faith in the universe that if this little boy is meant to be with us he will be.

It is funny, when I was adopting Zeb...I posted just about everything I felt or thought without reservation...but this time around I am a little paranoid. I am not 100% sure why...I will have to delve further into that another day.

However, I am out of the closet...we are officially starting.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

cupcakes = happiness



Gotcha Day



Well, Keith and I went back and forth for a couple of days trying to figure out what to do about Z's gotcha day. Lilianna and I baked cupcakes and decorated them with his name. I got a little bit closer to finishing his lifebook (I know I am terrible!). L and Keith and I talked about picking him up and looked at pictures. Z was mostly interested in eating everything in site. I think we will do something special every year on that day - something that Z will get to choose for himself and we will talk about his story and look at his book (because it will totally be done by next year!).

Gotcha pics



mmmm cupcakes....an unexpectedly messy! Yes, I expected a mess....but I can't even believe that all of the crumbs came out of one cupcake!

More birthday



This is my pathetic attempt at decorating the wall-e cake....I am seriously in over my head with the whole cake decorating thing! L is acting surprised and happy ....we missed the actual shot. This is the birthday party at home on her actual birthday that her dad was able to make it to.

Lilianna's birthday



Finally my camera quit giving my computer the cold shoulder....maybe i can catch up with Mala's August picture challenge!

Karyn Purvis Insights and Gifts - sharing power