Puffs & Apples

My son is making big boy moves. After days of appearing to be on the fence about puffs, he very slowly, yet deliberately picked one up, put it in his mouth and “chewed” it. HOORAY! I was beyond happy with this development. My kid won’t sit up and won’t hold his bottle, but he will pick up bite sizes pieces of food and eat them.

THEN! Things got even better. For lunch, he tackled a slice of apple. While I would like to rejoice in this moment, I can’t. It’s because it was MY apple slice. He took his attention away from puffs, stared at my apple and did a grunt-shout. My FaceTiming mother demanded that I share. No one told me that mothering would mean sharing so early in the little guy’s life (I pray that at this point, you realize I am being facetious). That adorable, cherub looking baby didn’t stop at one apple slice, he wanted the next one on which I’d slathered peanut butter. My FaceTiming mother again forced me to hand it over. She has so much power.

We laughed and squealed so hard. Who knew something so simple as watching a kid begin the process of eating chewable foods would cause extreme joy. This boy is already teaching me so much. I have to learn to let go. Had it not been for my mother’s encouragement, I never would have given him a piece of the apple. I was too afraid of him choking. Well, I’m still afraid of him choking. However, I am learning that I cannot let my fears hold this child back. I should proceed with caution, but I should not block him from his next steps. He is on track to becoming a well-fed good citizen of the world.

Lord knows I am definitely not trying to block him from holding his bottle and sitting up. As luck would have it, he is showing absolutely no interest in either one.

Adoption

“I think his diaper is wet. You have to change him.”

With those two sentences, my husband and I became parents. We met our son’s other mother a little over a month before his birth. It all began with a phone call – a call I thought was a prank.

Our home study was almost done. Emphasis on ALMOST. I emailed the agency I wanted to work with to let the owner know that we were ALMOST DONE. My message was oozing with excitement, but her reply was short and terse in my opinion. It said, “Contact us when your home study is complete.” I was crestfallen. When a number with her area code popped up on my screen, I debated whether to answer, but something told me to hit accept.

She – let’s call her Mrs. S.- enthusiastically greeted me. I thought I was being tricked. I reminded her that she already replied to me via email. That’s when she told me that a case had arisen for which she thought my husband I would be perfect.

Say what?

An expectant mother wanted a family with at least one person of color to raise her son!!! Why the exclamation points you ask? Because that’s how excited I was.

It all seemed too good to be true. We sent our adoption book and got a call back days later, as my husband recovered from emergency surgery. The mother,who we will call EM, wanted to meet us in person. She was in the south. We were in the northeast.

As luck would have it, we were headed to the region for a wedding. We added an additional stop to our trip. We flew more than two hours and drove about two hours to meet EM.

When I saw her, my heart stopped. She looked like she could be my child. When she spoke, I could hear her already-growing unconditional love for her baby. I was off-kilter.

I feel like my husband answered most of the questions and I spent the time staring at EM, telling her how beautiful she was and that she did not have to do this. No one could make her do this.

Ten years after my husband and I married,

five years after we started actively fighting infertility,

five months after we began our home study

and five weeks after we met EM, she texted us to tell us she was in labor.

EM announced the baby’s birth and my husband booked our flight. As I showered, the phone rang. I could hear the tone and I knew…

Mrs. S said EM was changing her mind and we should stay home. My husband…I don’t have the words to describe my husband, but he was not ready to hear what Mrs. S was saying.

As I tried to get through to him, EM was trying to get through to us. She told us to come, but she wanted her two days with her son – our son- because we were all family now.

We met him on a Thursday. Just moments before my husband and I smiled for our first family picture with our son, we nervously changed our first diaper at EM’s request.

I was not prepared for the moment EM was released from the hospital. I wasn’t prepared for the way her tears and anguish shook my core. I wasn’t prepared for the insensitivity: the nurse ready to wheel her out before she could kiss her sweet child, whom she arrived with, but would leave without.

Here lies the conundrum of adoption: as my heart broke for her, it swelled for us.

We left the hospital as Mother, Father and Son. We hilariously struggled to get our son snapped into his car seat, clinched our teeth as we drove with him for the first time and marveled at his presence when we made it to our hotel room.

EM had five days to change her mind. She visited our hotel twice during that time, always saying she was sure and she was ok. I wasn’t ok. I worried about her. We worried about her. I’ll worry about her for the rest of my life.

Our adoption is open. We will see her once a year. I post pictures on social media for her daily – at first willingly, then reluctantly, then happily because being a new mom and digesting adoption is hard. Our goal – her’s, mine and my husband’s – is to raise a good citizen.

In The Wild

Baby E and I have ventured into the wild over the past two days. We hit up story time one day and a lunch date the next.

If you think people watching from a restaurant is fun, try story time. Little E and I watched as the toddlers stormed in, chose their spots, took off their coats and dove into their snacks (they come with copious goodies. I was jealous). Some sang their ABCs, while others negotiated with their parents. I was sure none of them would pay attention when the “story-time-man” made his appearance. Too my surprise, I was wrong.

This guy whipped out two books and tons of terrible accents to capture the attention of these kids, and they couldn’t take their eyes off of him. They chewed, smacked and took in every word.

The best part? My baby stayed calm and was quite observant. He gave a repeat performance the following day on our lunch date. He flashed his best smile at my friend and reluctantly digested puffs and yogurt melts, while I stuffed myself with pizza and good ol’ gossip.

This is huge for me. I’m feeling more confident and I pray that when my baby melts down, I’ll take it in stride. I’m attempting to make sure that we get out at least three times a week. I’d prefer for him to see some other kids during most of those outings. If we master exploration, I may never want to return to work again. We had so much fun.

Here’s what seems to work for us thus far:

  1. Traveling after the afternoon bottle
  2. SNACKS: I’m transitioning from all bottles all the time, so this takes some getting used to for me. I don’t have to pump him with formula. I can give him a few puffs and he’s cool. Things should get more fun when he eats more things, but we’re just learning to chew at the moment.
  3. My thumb: Sure, I pack teething toys for the boy, but he prefers my thumb. So…yeah…as long as those little teeth don’t poke me, I let him have at it.

Sleepy Time Routine Fail

I thought I mastered this “baby sleep” routine thing. When other parents made Facebook posts about sleep training, I rolled my eyes and let out a sarcastic cackle.

See? My baby was sleeping at night without any extra work. WAS is the key word. We fed him, read to him and put him in the crib. He might have let out a whimper here or there, but honey, he went to sleep.

I was secretly and silently patting myself on the back, until THE TEETH. My easy nighttime sleeper started waking up in the middle of the night. He could barely breath through the flowing tears, snotty nose and red face. I couldn’t seem to comfort him with my normal tactics. You know? A pacifier and a few pats on the back. I had to pick him up and rock him. When I tried to gingerly place him in the crib, he would wake up and start wailing again.

I had to settle him down. I couldn’t have him disrupting my husband’s sleep (he is the breadwinner). So I made the brilliant decision to “sleep” with my son in the guest room. “Sleep” is in quotes because I did not really snooze. I feared rolling over and killing the kid, but he rested like a KING.

Here we are almost approaching my baby’s 8th month of life, and my original sleep routine is out the window. I now have to rock him to sleep EVERY NIGHT, which can take 30-40 minutes. If I try to put him in the crib too early, he bursts into tears.

What the…

How did this happen?

Let me be clear: I love the cuddles from rocking him to sleep. My concern is over the crying when I place him in the crib. The kid has total control over me. It extends beyond nighttime. He could be chilling out in his stroller at a restaurant, but if he sees me? Tears!! He wants me to pick him up. There are tears if I leave the room and tears if I break any of his rules.

Where did mommy go wrong? Oh and he doesn’t nap longer than a half hour, unless I hold him. People, I am spoiling my son. Let’s just hope I get it together by the time he becomes a toddler. The point of this story? Think twice before loudly or silently laughing at the struggles of other parents. Your time is likely coming.

So if you know of any books that might be helpful to this insecure mom, please share. I’d like to teach my boy to communicate without crying.

Thanks, Beyonce

The moment I saw Beyonce in concert for my tenth wedding anniversary, I was ready to quit my job and follow her around the world. FOLLOW HER AROUND THE WORLD.

Her show took me on such an emotional journey. It walked me through my maturation into a woman, reminded me of my joys and the most painful time in my life.

I didn’t realize that Beyonce had been the soundtrack of my burgeoning womanhood. From, “Boy, I know you want me I can see it in your eyes” to “I’mma keep on running cuz a winner don’t quit on themselves,” she has been motivating me with beautiful imagery, thumping music and magical vocals (that I match in the car, honey). I absolutely love her and no I am not a member of the BeyHive.

But the reason I was near tears as confetti flew and she thanked the crowd in Foxborough, Massachusetts, was simply because I recognized the power of music. I could sing just about every song she bellowed in that stadium, except the ones from her album, “4.” Want to know why? Infertility.

When she debuted her baby bump at the MTV awards in 2011, I wrote this blog: http://mrsdjrass.blogspot.com/2011/08/beyonces-belly.html. I was still hopeful that I could have a child – that I was not infertile. 1 in 8 couples battles infertility in some way and I didn’t want to be one of them.

Well, I WAS infertile. With each IVF and IUI failure, I became more bitter. I stopped listening to Beyonce. I reached a point where I wasn’t listening to music at all. It contained too much hope and love in the melodies, and I all I felt was anger.

I seemed fine on the outside, but I was dying inside. I felt God had abandoned me and my body had forsaken me. At my lowest moment, I tried to take my own life. That was my rock bottom.

It took five years, counseling, reading and a renewal of my understanding of God to claw my way out of that valley.

As I listened to Beyonce belt out songs from that period in my life, I cried. I spent years avoiding beauty and appreciating the full miracles of life. It seems silly, but that moment was the best gift my husband could give me to celebrate our ten years of marriage.

It was a reminder that we only live once. I can’t allow the desire for something I don’t have to rob me of a chance to enjoy and cherish something that I do have.

So congratulations, Beyonce. You got the talent and the three kids, but you reminded me that I have blessings too. Right now it’s my life, my husband, my son and our family. It’s music, it’s flowers and it’s my time on this beautiful Earth. I hope to never forget that again. So thank you, Beyonce.