Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Week Two

Well… week two has come and gone. Time truly is flying by since baby K arrived. As I mentioned in my last post, our second week as a family of three was much less busy than week one. It’s been nice to start getting into the swing of things and really focus on taking care of Miss K (who happens to be snoozing away right now).

On Monday we had our first of six home visits with the agency. I know a lot of prospective adoptive couples get anxious about home visits – we used to be one of those couples – but they really aren’t stressful at all. We still meet with the same social worker who did our home study, and we’ve seen and talked with her at several agency events since then. It’s nice to have a familiar face for these visits, and that she recalls details that Nate and I can’t even remember sharing with her. I know she is at work when she comes for home visits, but I feel like she really cares about us as a family, too. We even showed her a bunch of new photos we’ve taken, and she seemed to enjoy getting to know who everyone was.

For those of you who may not know – in Ohio a birth mother (and/or father) must wait at least 72 hours after the birth of her child to sign the release of parental rights form. When she signs this form, she releases custody of her child to the agency, who then places the child with adoptive or foster parents. From that time there must be at least six monthly home visits with a social worker before an adoptive family can legally finalize their adoption in court. There are a few more steps involved in this process for us, which revolve around Ohio’s laws regarding a legal father and a “putative” (birth or biological) father, but right now we are in the “waiting period” between placement and finalization. Home visits are really just meetings to make sure the child is happy and healthy and to make sure that everyone is adjusting well to the new family structure. Just remember – this process varies from state to state and also depends on the type of adoption being pursued. The Adoption Guide is a good place to start if you’d like more info on this.

Speaking of legal issues – we went to the attorney’s office on Wednesday to start our official paperwork. For some reason I was nervous for this visit – probably because 1) It was K’s first public appearance (aside from her agency visit, which she slept through) and 2) I’ve never been involved with a lawyer or attorney before. Again, this visit was very low key and stress free. We really just signed an agreement for the attorney’s services and started the paperwork to file with the Ohio Putative Father Registry. K slept the whole time, yet again!

I know I haven’t shared a lot about K’s birth family’s situation, but here’s where the extra steps I mentioned above come in. Per the Ohio Department of Job and Family services Website, “a putative father is a male who may be a child's father, but who is not married to the child's mother on or before the date that the child is born; or has not established paternity of the child in a court or administrative agency proceeding in this or another state before the date the child is to be adopted; or has not completed an acknowledgement of paternity affidavit before the filing of an adoption petition for the child. If the mother of a child wants to place the child for adoption, the putative father must take steps to show that he is the legal father of that child in order to have the right to be notified of the adoption proceedings.”

Because there are more people involved, we are taking the steps to make sure the adoption goes through without a hitch. Her birth mother and legal father both signed their parental rights release 72 hours after K’s birth. Since we started the paperwork already, K’s birth father has 30 days from her birth to come forward, should he choose to do so. If we missed this step, the 30 days could be extended. I really don’t see this being an issue, considering that K’s birth father was at the hospital with us the entire time – but we want to make sure our bases are covered. Job and Family Services has in depth information regarding the Ohio Putative Father Registry.

After we left the attorney’s office, we made our first stop in the real world as a family of three. We decided to exchange some (unused, of course) bottles at Babies R Us, so that we could try something that would be better for K’s stomach. Even though she wasn’t really interested in eating while we were at the hospital, she was still an excellent burper and didn’t spit up at all. Since coming home, her appetite has definitely kicked in, but she tends to get pretty gassy and takes up to 40 minutes to burp. We did try gas drops, but I don’t like the idea of adding them to her formula at every feeding if there is another solution. We’ve had the new Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature Added Comfort bottles for a few days now, and they do seem to help. Since she’s having a few other tummy issues, I’m thinking she might not be tolerating her formula very well. I talked to the pediatrician today, and we’re going to try something new. So… stay tuned!

Thursday was a pretty relaxed day from what I remember. Nate and I cherish the days we’ve had where we can just be together and get our daughter into some sort of routine. We were really thankful too, when our sister-in-law brought us dinner! She made an excellent chicken pot pie and some really great cookies (for which I need to remember to get the recipe!), and she didn’t even complain about holding the baby while we stuffed our faces!

On Saturday we were so excited for a visit from our close friends from Michigan. It was a little more low key than our visits normally are, with lots of baby cuddling and relaxing while it snowed and snowed outside. Of course it wouldn’t be a complete visit without some sort of home improvement project, so we took them up on their offer to recaulk the tub for us – our caulking skills are well below average! I’m glad our friends were able to make it here and safely home again, in spite of the weather!

And yesterday was my first day home alone with Miss K, as Nate headed back to work. She had a rough night on Sunday (which is prompting the formula research), so aside from my being a little over tired, the day went just fine. She is still in her sleep-most-of-the-day stage, so I was able to make the bed, get caught up on the laundry and dishes, start her baby book and try to get a few things figured out with my leave from work. I’ve haven’t even had a problem getting a shower (and shaving my legs, a luxury!) the past two days… I’m sure this will all change when she starts being awake more often and wanting to play!

We even sent our first care package to J. This is mainly because she has been having issues signing on to the photo sharing site we created, and because I promised to make a shirt for her daughter to wear for her upcoming 3rd birthday party! I ordered copies of all the photos we have of K so far and sent them along with a card and the shirt. We have still been texting regularly, so she said she plans to look at the pictures on Thursday when she meets with her birth mother counselor.

We also started using the babybix app to track K’s eat, sleep and potty schedule. We started out using the sheet from the hospital, but tended to misplace the paper or forget to write things down. The sheet evolved to a binder, which helped us keep things in order but didn’t help us remember to write things down. I tried about three other baby tracker phone apps, but babybix seems to be the most simple and straight forward.  While it's interface might not be as attractive, it does get the job done for us.  With the app I can keep my iPhone (which I currently just use for apps) on the table next to where we feed K. Much more convenient!

There have been a few things we are starting to question, though. I think her umbilical cord came off Sunday evening while I was changing her diaper, but it looks like part of it is still there. That and a few other things got me doing my research, and here are a few links I found helpful:

Parents.com - Newborn Body Basics
Babycenter - Caring For Your Newborns Umbilical Cord

I think that about sums up our second week home with baby K. I’m hoping to do a few more weekly updates and then they may turn into monthly baby updates. I still want to write posts about the adoption community in general – not just ours… even though I could go on and on!


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Whirlwind Week!

I keep using the word “whirlwind” to describe various aspects of our adoption journey. I wish I could be a little more creative, but a whirlwind is exactly what it has been like. This is especially true of the last week! I absolutely cannot believe the events that have taken place in the last seven days, which have included some of the hardest, most emotional and absolute happiest moments of my life all at once. I want to make sure and get baby K’s birth story down before my memories of that day fade, and also get up to speed on her first week of life. How has it been a week already?!

Last Saturday, Nate and I spent the day working on house work and grocery shopping. I was also working with a designer via text on some improvements that are coming soon to the blog, as well as chatting with a friend who is also a new mom. My phone was going off all day with requests for me to approve a certain detail of the blog or the exchange of parenting tips.

At about 3:30 that afternoon, a text came in from J – “I think my water just broke.” “Who was that from?” Nate asked, and when I told him what it said his face went blank. He then proceeded to start jogging in place (this must be his thing when something exciting happens) and said “a text, really? CALL HER!” We started getting a few things around and J did call me a couple minutes later. She said that her water officially did break because there was a lot of water, and that her dad was taking her to the hospital.

At that point we packed up the rest of the car and headed down to the hospital. We made it in record time, but on the way there J’s birth mother counselor did call to check in. She told us that the birth father would be at the hospital when we arrived (we had yet to meet him), and that J’s sister would possibly be there too. As we sped along I tried to stay calm about the extra people we weren’t expecting, and also about the arrival of our daughter. Nate and I just kept asking one another, “Can you believe it’s time?”

On our way to he hospital!
We arrived at the hospital while J was still in triage. I was able to go back while Nate stayed in the waiting room. She was in really good spirits, considering that she was in labor, and I was so happy to see her! Shortly after we got there, J’s room was ready and we moved to labor and delivery. At that point Nate was able to come back and the birth father had just gotten back from getting something to eat. We did our introductions and made small talk while we waited for things to progress.

It seemed to take forever for J to get to the point where it was time to push. She hung out at six centimeters dilated for quite a few hours. I remember thinking it would finally be time when the nurse came in to check at 2:30 Sunday morning. Unfortunately J was still only at six centimeters, and Nate and I were on about hour 19 of no sleep. The nurse’s shift was up at 7:00 am, and we were hoping for things to happen before then. It wasn’t looking promising. We could see other patient’s contractions on the same monitor as J’s, and she didn’t look to be in the intense stage of labor like they were.

But then… the nurse came back in at about 3:30 am to check things out. Suddenly it was go time! All of the lights came on, about 5 nurses rushed in, they got J’s legs in the stirrups, and asked her if she’d like to try and push. Originally we thought that Nate would need to leave the room and that J and I would be the only ones there during the delivery. Luckily we all got to stay! J started pushing and the nurse said “Whoa! Hold on…” but K was already out! She came so quickly, the doctor didn’t even make it to the room beforehand.

We feel so blessed to have been able to witness the birth of our daughter! We were able to start talking to and soothing her within seconds of her birth, and she loved holding our hands. Nate even got to cut the umbilical cord!

From there it really was all action. The nurses cleaned her up, weighed her, gave her some medicine in her eyes, let her warm up on her little warming table, gave her her first diaper and finally let us all hold her. It truly was such a special time.

Unfortunately, little miss K was breathing quite rapidly so she had to go spend a few hours in the nursery after we were moved from labor and delivery to recovery. At this point Nate and I wanted to give J her space to rest and process. There really wasn’t a spot for us at the hospital, so we stood outside the nursery for three hours and watched the nurses with our baby. We must have looked so pathetic, but honestly I didn’t want to miss anything!

When K was finally able to leave the nursery, we got to spend some time feeding and bonding with her in a small lobby area right next to the nursery. During the rest of our stay, K spent time with all of us – J and birth dad had her for some of the time, we had her for some of the time and we all spent time together throughout the day. We ordered pizza for dinner Sunday and shared it with J and birth dad while watching football, and the hospital was awesome enough to let us use a room Sunday night. We were so thankful to get some rest and have some private time with K.
Our "area"

The next morning J came down to our room and spent some time with us. It was really nice to sense that the tension was fading, and just be able to chat with her like we have since our match. We had a photographer come and take a few newborn photos, which turned out really special. K had her hearing test done, the hospital social worker and pediatrician gave us a visit, and we were all ready for discharge! While we waited for some test results to be sent to the hospital from J’s OB, we also got a visit from J’s birth mother counselor who was there to give J a ride home – J was actually discharged about 3 hours before we were.

Saying our goodbyes to J and birth dad were emotional. They each gave baby K a kiss on the cheek, and I gave them both hugs. I made sure to hug J extra tight, and told her we would see her soon. She knows that whenever she is ready for her first visit to just let us know.

That afternoon around 3:30 we were finally cleared to go home! We put tiny miss K in her huge looking car seat and hit the road. We did have to stop to feed and change her, about an hour into the trip, but everything else went very smoothly. We changed her diaper when we got home and she went right to sleep in her new bassinet.
Ready to go home!
Nate’s brother and sister-in-law were sweet enough to drop off dinner at our house before we got home (the advantage of letting them keep a key to our house!) and we were able to eat dinner (we were starving) while the baby slept. We got the car unpacked and everything put away before we went to bed ourselves. We were exhausted, and I don’t think my bed has ever felt so good!

Miss K’s first week has been a pretty busy one! Of course we had lots of visitors on Tuesday! K got to meet most of her aunts and uncles on Nate’s side, as well as her grandma, great grandpa and cousins. We went to her first pediatrician visit on Wednesday and signed paperwork at the agency on Thursday.

Friday we had a newborn photo session with a friend of ours who is a very talented photographer. I feel so blessed to have had these photos taken! They turned out amazing, and they will be such a treasure to always have! After photos we stopped at Nate’s parent’s house so K could meet her grandpa, another aunt and cousin.

On Saturday my dad came down from Michigan for a visit, and my sister surprised us when she tagged along! Sunday we had friends over with their three month old twins and yesterday we had our first of six home visits from the agency. We thought that our life would calm down after welcoming K home, but we were mistaken yet again!

We are trying to learn K’s cues and adjust to her feeding schedule. She eats pretty consistently (about 2 or 2.5 ounces) every three hours, and usually sleeps (in her bouncer during the day and her bassinet by our bed at night) most of the time right now. A few times a day she wakes up for about an hour and a half, and she is so alert! We are amazed at how well she controls her head and neck already, and she really loves her play mat. We’ve done tummy time a few times, and she really doesn’t mind that at all either. She is a pretty mellow baby so far, and she smiles a lot! The only things she really doesn’t like are having a dirty diaper (which I totally understand!), having her diaper off, having her feet touched and being sponged down. I hope that when we are able to give her a real bath she will like it better!

This week we have slightly less going on. We’ll go to the attorney on Wednesday to start the legal paperwork for the adoption. And we’re expecting a visit from our close friends from Michigan!

I’m hoping to continue updating the blog regularly, but I’m already learning that it’s not as easy to write a post! We will see how things go as Nate and I adjust to life as a family of three!

Thank everyone so much for your congratulations, support and well wishes!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

She's Here!

We are thrilled to announce the arrival of our daughter, baby "K"!  Born on January 12 at 3:48 AM.  Weighing in at 6 lbs 10.3 oz and measuring 20 in long.  We are totally smitten as we learn to function as a family of three!!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

OAB - Best of 2013

Best of Open Adoption Blogs 2013

Each year openadoptionbloggers.com publishes a list of their "most powerful, intriguing, moving, thought-provoking, and just plain well-written pieces about open adoption from the year in one place." Until Forever... was a little too young when I discovered this list last year, but I was really hoping to be able to display this badge on the blog for 2013... and here it is!