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Friday, April 30, 2010

Four Months

Dear Sweet Benjamin,

This week you turned four months old. I can hardly believe how fast these months have gone and how quickly you're growing from newborn baby to little boy. In some ways it feels like yesterday that we held you for the first time, and in other ways I can't seem to remember what life was like without you. Now that you're here, it feels like you've always been a part of us. 

You now weigh 14 pounds 12 ounces and you're measuring at 25 1/2 inches long. Your head circumference is 42 1/2 centimeters. According to your pediatrician, "you're perfect.

We love your infectious smile. You smile at complete strangers that pause to adore you, but we especially love the special smiles reserved for Mom and Dad. You manage to melt our hearts every time.

We love the way you giggle, especially while you sleep. We can't help but wonder what your dreams are made of.

We love how you've learned to squeal... though it's cuter when you do it out of excitement than when you've reached the point of complete exhaustion and are fighting sleep.

During your daytime feedings you've started to get distracted by anything going on around us. I've learned that humming to you usually helps to keep you focused. And, it's even better when you start humming along with me.

While your nighttime feedings sometimes make me a bit sleep deprived, I love those bonding moments we have in the darkness of the night. You have started to sleep for 5 hour stretches already (on some nights) and I'm not sure how I feel about that yet. 

And, in the morning when you wake up and refuse to be anywhere but cuddled in someone's arms, I feel so lucky to most often be the one that gets that cuddle time with you. I think it might just be my most favorite part of the day.

But, I also really love our play time together. When we pull you into a sitting position, you'll automatically jump to your feet. We get the feeling you're going to keep us on our toes!

Your tummy time is proving to add to your strength... the last few weeks you've been so close to rolling over and just this morning you rolled over completely for the first time. Yay! And, my favorite part of our play time is when I lean in to kiss your cheeks and you grab at my face and hair. I love our interactions of every kind!

For the last month or so you've been chewing on everything, especially your fingers. But, lately you've also been getting your big slobbery mouth attached to my cheeks. I love your kisses (even if you don't necessary consider them kisses yourself, I do!).

Right now you're taking a nap and I can't wait for the moment you wake up... I'll greet you like I do after every nap with a "hi my baby boy, how was your nap?" And, just like you do every time, you'll respond with your ear-to-ear grin and then wait patiently for me to scoop you up into my arms.

Oh my little boy, these are just a few of the things that make you completely irresistible and absolutely adorable. We are so lucky and blessed to have you in our family... and it's only going to get better from here.

We love you. So much.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Mixture of Tears

The other day I went searching for a song for a friend and came across this one by Josh Groban. It's one that I listened to over and over after losing the twins. As I listened to it again, after almost two years and finding myself in such a different place now than I would have ever imagined, I just sobbed.  

There were tears of love for my girls, and hope for the days we'll have together someday. There were tears of fears for all that could possibly go wrong with welcoming little boy #2. There is something about experiencing the fragility of mortality that makes you realize it really could happen to you... and just because it has happened already to you doesn't mean it couldn't happen again.

As I cried those tears of love and of fear, I couldn't help but also shed the sweetest tears of gratitude for the little boy that now fills my arms and my heart. Ben was sitting on my lap, giggly and cooing all through my little breakdown, and I swear that my heart has never felt love and gratitude to that degree. Ever. No matter what lies ahead, we have him. There is no way to express how much joy he has brought us. He is a gift that we cherish every moment of every day.

* His sweater was hand-knitted by a sweet Australian woman that my parents met on their mission. As you can imagine, he got all kinds of compliments today at church.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Our Adoption Story - Placement Day

I woke up very early that last Monday morning in December. I knew it was too early; I knew I needed my extra sleep for the long day ahead. I tried unsuccessfully to slip back into dreamland and instead laid there reflecting on how the morning of August 23, 2002 started out much the same way. That was the day Marc and I joined our lives together, which started off with a very early morning awakening. Excitement and nerves running through my veins. I loved the feeling of reliving those emotions, this time for Marc and I to join our lives with a very special little boy.

Our morning routine was a little on the hectic side - taking showers, getting the (makeshift) diaper bag ready, putting together a gift basket for Tracey, grabbing a bag of snacks for the hours we'd spend in the car, and getting some breakfast fuel to start things off right. As if the placement itself wasn't enough excitement for our day ahead, I also had a doctor's appointment for baby #2. It was my 20-week (and 1-day) appointment.

Interesting side note: way back in September when I found out I was unexpectedly expecting, I marked the weeks of pregnancy on a calendar. I automatically pegged December 28th as a date that would possibly bring with it some very bitter-sweet feelings. That would be the precise point in my pregnancy that we lost our twins the last time around. For that day to come with its possibilities of mourning the loss of our girls, and instead to be the actual day that we would bring a little boy home with us to fill some of the emptiness in our hearts... well, I just don't have words. Coincidence? Maybe. I like to call it mercy. Surely a gift from God, with perhaps some help from our two little angels.

My appointment went well. Baby boy's heart beat was strong and all other signs pointed to us charting new territory along this pregnancy journey, getting further along than ever before. I was amazed by how much movement I felt from him the entire day... almost as if he was fully aware of what was going on and just as excited for the arrival of his big brother.

We made the rest of the drive down to the agency. I clung to my phone the entire drive, anticipating a call at any moment from Tracey or the case worker facilitating the placement, letting us know the actual time they wanted us at the agency. We had been told that placement could happen any time between noon and 4pm. Rather than risk being even a minute late, we got down there as early as possible, and figured we would just wait for the call while wasting a little time close by.

We had lunch at Rubio's. My hands were shaking and I'm pretty sure my nerves made me eat much faster than I should have. At one point my phone rang mid-bite and my heart raced... until I realized it wasn't a call related to our adoption. I decided not to answer, partly because I still needed to catch my breath and partly because I was afraid of missing the call we were waiting for.

After lunch, we made our way to a nearby shopping center where there is both a Target and a Babys R Us. I don't remember now what additional items we were looking for, but we stocked up on a few more things that would come in handy. Walking the aisles of baby products this time felt so different. I felt safe to be excited. My guard was down and I imagined using the diapers and feeding with the bottles... the reality of having a baby felt so tangible... finally. I swear I could smell that new baby smell and could feel the smooth skin that only newborns have.

Just as we were getting in the car to leave the shopping center, we got the phone call. We were to be at the agency in the next 45 minutes. We were only maybe ten minutes from the agency, so we wasted a bit more time filling our gas tank, washing the windows, and throwing out the random receipt or other stray piece of trash from the little pockets in the car. Somehow the time passed rather quickly and soon we were on the road, leading to the agency.

We arrived. I was feeling such a wide range of emotions. Some were my own. Some were what I imagined Tracey to be feeling. I couldn't allow myself to get swept away in the joy of the moment, knowing there would be some aching on the other side. I felt more confused in my emotions than ever before.

We were led back to one of the larger rooms in the agency, where Tracey was waiting for us with her mom and her daughter, and her little son. We hugged. Almost immediately she placed Benjamin in my arms. I was overwhelmed with love... for him and for her. I couldn't believe how perfect he was. So small, so new, so fresh from heaven. He naturally cuddled into my chest and let me love him. It is a moment I won't ever forget.

We exchanged some gifts, received some instructions about his feedings and schedule, and took a few photos. And, before I knew what was happening, Tracey was hugging me and walking out the door. Without any warning, the emotions of the day that had been building suddenly released and I was sobbing. Uncontrollably. She looked back as she got to the door, but turned and kept on going. I wanted to run after her. I wanted to make sure she knew how grateful we were. I wanted to tell her how much her choice was changing our life. I was so afraid that I hadn't adequately expressed our love, our gratitude. I wanted to run to her, but I didn't want my tears to make it harder for her... or for her mom... or for her daughter. Walking away as she did must have already been hard enough.

It all just felt so unfair. Here we were leaving our burdens of pain and heartache at the entrance of the agency. Holding my little Benjamin made all the years of heartache and all the tears of sorrow melt away. Immediate joy filled the space that for so long knew only pain. And, on the other side, here was Tracey exiting out the same door, but with new burdens waiting to leap on her back. I felt guilty. I felt a bit responsible. How could I feel okay with feeling such joy, knowing there was pain and heartache being felt on the other side?

That was the struggle I felt in the immediate days that followed placement (and still do a bit today). My tears of joy were equally mixed with tears for Tracey, not knowing for sure what she was feeling and how she was handling all the postpartum emotions. The aching for her and the rejoicing for our little bundle of joy were totally intertwined with each other. Inseparable. The more joy I felt, the more I was reminded of the selfless sacrifice that brought Ben to us.

So, back at the agency I tried to take some deep breaths to calm my emotions. I held onto Benjamin so tightly, hardly able to believe that he really was going home with us. We finished up our part of the paperwork and within maybe five minutes we were out at the car getting Ben buckled into his car seat.

I jumped in the back seat with him, while Marc drove us the three hours back home. Ben fussed a bit at first, but almost immediately fell asleep. I offered him my finger and he held onto it the entire ride home. I had a hand-holding boy! Oh, the joy! At different points along the drive, I had Marc turn on the overhead light, just so that I could admire the beauty of our little baby. I was overwhelmed and so in love. We had found our little boy. Or, more accurately, Tracey had found us... and she made us a family. The wait was finally over.

When we were about half way home Marc made an observation that I agreed with wholeheartedly. He said, "You know, for some the arrival of a baby feels like a bit of a burden... but, having Benjamin with us actually feels like a huge burden has been lifted."

Perfect, simple declaration of how we both felt.

And, in the almost four months we've now spent with him in our family, we continue to feel that way. It has felt like he has always been a part of our family. He has slipped perfectly into his place in our hearts and in our family. There is no joy greater than what we have experienced as being his parents.

People sometimes tell us how lucky Benjamin is. The truth is WE are the lucky ones. To have been blessed with such a priceless gift of a son, through the compassion and selflessness of such an amazing birth mother. It is a blessing that will continue to bring an abundance of love and pure joy to our lives.

Friday, April 9, 2010

So much to do, so little time

First, I really want to thank those who left comments on my last post... I thoroughly enjoyed reading what some of your responses would be if you were placed in a similar situation. And, Brent (if you're reading this), I was especially entertained by your comebacks. I really love the small community of individuals who stop by here... you all are wonderful beyond words!

I feel terrible about my lack of blogging lately... I've missed it, too. Time is just flying and I don't know how to make it slow down. Our little Ben is going to be four months old in just a couple of weeks and his little brother should arrive a couple of short weeks after that. Both have kept me good and busy. I'm a little curious to see how my busy-ness will change once the other has joined us in this outside world. Will it be harder or easier? Time will tell, and I'll be sure to let you know.

The last month has been full of appointments, birthing classes, naps, feedings, diaper changes, church responsibilities, and making plans for the days ahead. Mixed in there, I got sick again a couple of weeks ago. That's four times in the span of this pregnancy... only this time, at such a late point in my pregnancy, it was much more taxing.

There is so much I need to update - at the top of the list is the final post about our adoption placement day. It's started, but not nearly close to being finished. But, it's definitely a priority.

For now, it's feeding time again and Ben makes sure I know that's at the top of my priorities.

And just because I love you and I love sharing photos of my little boy, I'll leave you with a few photos for your enjoyment.