My Boy is 10 Months!

Today my beloved boy is 10-months-old and I am terrified. He is still showing no desire to sit up. Every morning, I rush to his room hoping this is the day he will find his center and sit up. Every morning my hopes are dashed.

We’ve already had an evaluation with Early Intervention. He did not qualify for services based on the evaluation scores, but the therapists used their ‘clinical judgement’ to bypass that and sign us up. They, too, were shocked at not just his inability to sit up, but his resistance to it. He is a good boy. He loves to smile, hang out, army crawl, clap and he’s starting to figure out how to wave, yet this critical milestone remains elusive for him.

I just want him to be alright. I take him to story time and the other children can sit up and pull themselves at least to their knees. All my boy can do is roll and army crawl and he often gets frustrated. He tries to use his strength to pull the toy structures down to him, while the other kids are using it to balance. It’s very interesting to watch.

Still he is my joy. He is becoming more brave and adventurous. He’s going for electrical chords I thought he’d never see. He can army crawl into spaces I thought he’d never fit in. He loves food and wants to try EVERYTHING I eat. He has a gorgeous smile with 7 ragedy teeth at various stages of development. He thinks soft-scrambled eggs are moisturizers. How do I know? He rubs them all over his hands and then on his face. They must be the reason behind his youthful glow.

We spent nearly a week in Chicago to celebrate his grandmother’s birthday. We traveled sans the hubby and my baby did so well. He went to Lincoln Park Zoo, lunched with my college friend and strolled through downtown Chicago like a champ. He missed a few naps, but definitely not the experiences. He really made his grandmother’s birthday special.

Now we are gearing up for physical therapy and two more trips leading up to his first birthday. I hope and pray he is sitting up for his first birthday party. I’m just so nervous for him. I just want his life to be grand. I want to be good enough for him. He is such a blessing and I want to be worthy of him and the blessings he brings. I write this as he bangs his legs on the floor and makes himself go in a circle. LOL!

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Orphan Train: A Book Review

I lose control in bookstores and blow entire budgets. About a year ago, I picked up a stack of books that included one entitled Orphan Train. A former co-worker suggested it and I wanted to read something outside of my wheel house.

Needless to say it was the last book in the stack. I simply didn’t want to read it. I bought others while it sat collecting dust on a surface in my bedroom. Well, honey, I finally ran out of money and had to read what was already in the house.

I opened the cover and was thoroughly unimpressed. It’s the story of a Irish immigrant who becomes an orphan after most of her family is killed in a fire, and a parent-less teen she meets 80 years later who helps her revisit her past and connect with her future.

I felt it was cliché all day. The teen, Molly, lost her parents to a car crash and addiction. The Irish woman, Vivian, managed to become a wealthy woman living in a cavernous home in Maine. I’ve been reading really harrowing stories like that of Coretta Scott King, Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi and about once a month I read my son a children’s book based on the childhood of Congressman John Lewis. I am not here for clichés and fairy tales at this moment in my life.

Well I couldn’t afford another book, so I kept turning the pages. Guess what? I got over myself and absorbed the words. I “watched” as Molly and Vivian connected. I became enthralled by Vivian’s tale of being packed on a train with other children and taken to the Midwest, where they were given to people who pretty much wanted slaves. Then I began to realize that what she endured was still so similar to Molly’s modern tale of living in foster care – people taking you in for the cash and treating you like you are less than a person.

This book touched me deeply as a member of the adoption community. This history of children being rounded up, sent to the Midwest and turned into indentured servants is just one of the many reasons there are negative connotations attached to adoption.

Ultimately, I fell in love with this book. Vivian with her gentle, but steady fight to stay alive and chameleon-like abilities, will stay with me. I’m not sure how I feel about Molly, but I don’t hate her. Her story just didn’t pull at my heart. Maybe because she’s a modern teen?

This book does a good job of introducing you to another one of America’s shameful secrets from the past. I’d give it a 7 out of 10, if I were into scales and such:-)

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.

Fighting Faith

Infertility wrecked me spiritually. I began to hate religion. I became a troll, writing disrespectful things on Joel Osteen’s Facebook page (I know. I became an internet jerk hiding behind a screen and a keyboard). I couldn’t understand how I could pray, beg and be a kind person, yet fail to conceive a child.

Want to know what led me back to religion? Sammy Davis, Jr.’s autobiography. Sounds weird, right? It is! But his explanation of why he chose to convert to Judaism helped me realize that my understanding of God was the problem. Not God.

I tell you all of this because we made our first trip to church as a family during Memorial Day Weekend. We were nervous because we have a 7 month old, but our little guy behaved about as good as you can expect. He let out a few coos, but we did not have a breakdown. Hallelujah!

The sermon actually spoke to IVF-Erika. The title was, “When Heaven ain’t talking!” Instead of blaming God for your misfortune or the ills of the world, you continue to pray and don’t let others penetrate your soul with negativity.

When I felt like God had forsaken me during multiple IVF attempts, everything around me seemed to suffer. I lost my confidence in my ability to do my job, and that put me on a totally different path in life. I didn’t realize that God doesn’t grant wishes, He stands by you and gives you the strength to survive. I wasn’t accepting what He had given, instead I thought he stopped caring about me and I gave up on myself.

I couldn’t understand the women in my infertility circle who suffered IVF negatives, adoption failures, and a miscarriage yet they still held fast to their faith. Again, it was because I had the wrong understanding of God.

My goal is to never let that happen to me again. I’m trying to teach my son that God isn’t this vengeful dude waiting for you to sin so that he can punish you. My son is the master of his domain. He has to make his own choices and own them. God is there for support and has provided a game plan for living a good life, but God won’t do the work for him.

Cooking My Way Out of Fear

I come from a typical Black-American family filled with competitive and hilarious spirits. That means there is NOTHING in your life that they won’t joke about. My father liked to joke about my failures. He thought it would make me stronger, instead it made me retreat from anything I knew I could not best.

Cooking is one such thing. My mother made sure I had dinner on the table every single night. To me, she was an amazing cook. To her nine older siblings, she was the worst cook out of the bunch. They always joked about her culinary skills and my father made sure to join in on the “fun.” He often told me I would never find a husband because I couldn’t cook. I took this all to heart and simply withdrew from preparing food. I learned to do the basics so I would not die. That’s it. I couldn’t pour my heart and soul into something and have people laugh at it, and I certainly did not want a man who based his love on my abilities in the kitchen. In my mind, I had so much more to offer. Heck! I had a college degree and a career, honey!

Now keep in mind, I have always LOVED food. I enjoyed and excelled in Home Economics class. I marveled at my Aunt who could taste something fantastic at a restaurant, deconstruct it in her mind and cook her own version of it for us at home. But I chose to withdraw from it all because I feared the one bad result that would make me, once again, the butt of a joke.

My husband married me despite what I considered to be his mother’s considerable concerns about my lack of skills in the kitchen. The first ten years of our marriage consisted of his home-cooked food and my selection of delectable takeout meals.

One day, I decided I needed to toss my fears out of the window. I would never make the perfect southern soul-food cuisine. That’s not me, but I wanted to make something. I wanted my husband to know I cared about him, his health and what he consumed. Plus, I was out of work and I needed to earn my keep.

My former and favorite boss always told me that if I could read, I could cook. Humph! In my culture, cooking is an innate talent. You can’t read it. You have TO DO IT. It’s IN you. I just felt it wasn’t IN me. However, I had to start somewhere. So I started scouring the internet for simple recipes. One thing led to another and I was making dinner for my husband on a regular basis and LOVING IT.

About 11 months later, my son came home and I finally understood a coworker, who I thought was a bit strange, told me about the joy that filled her heart when she fed her children food she made with her hands. All of sudden, I wanted to really work on my cooking. I found joy in feeding my family.

I started working hard to put aside fears. Instead of saying, “Ive never eaten that before” or “That seems difficult,” I started trying. Heck, I’m making my son’s baby food.

I’ve had some bombs, like the time I threw in parmesan when I should have been tossing in flour. There’s also the time my baked meatballs were raw, and the moment I couldn’t chew the beef in my beef stew because it was overcooked. BUT! No one laughed at me and if they had, it would not have killed me.

Without realizing it, I started conquering a fear. I still won’t cook for my parents, but I’m making strides. I hope tackling this fear will lead me to take on many more. I’m tried of fearing fear. I want to blaze a trail that my son can see so he’ll know it’s possible to blaze his own.