5 Months Old

…and a total spitfire!!

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Personality: we aren’t lacking.

Zoe is 5 months old.  This is a total cliche mom blog post, but I thought I’d do a little update on her growth and developmental milestones.

Height and weight: She is probably 15 pounds now and even though she is allegedly in the 75th percentile for height, she’s tiny compared to other similarly-aged babies in our playgroup and friend circle.  Everyone always says “she’s so little!” when David carries her or when she’s lying on the floor.  (When I carry her, everyone says “what a big baby!” or “who’s carrying who?”  Perspective, I guess!) She IS over 2 feet long!

She wears size 2 diapers and is still wearing 3 month clothes.  Most 3-6 month clothes still seem too big right now.

Rolling over: She did it once, then started screaming in terror.  She hasn’t done it again.

Laughing: I get a laugh about once a day.  Her comedy standards are pretty low—if I cough, sneeze, run into something, drop something, jump dramatically, or giggle like a “Valley girl,” chances are she will laugh.  I told David the other day that my Master’s program was a total waste—I should have gone to clown school instead.

Singing/talking: This child LOVES to hear her own voice, and she has no volume control.  We’re in for it.

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“and another thing…”

Dancing: I suspected Zoe was starting to dance a few days ago, and today she confirmed it by shaking her hips to Elvis a few times throughout the day when I held her in a standing position and played “Hound Dog!!” I’d like to think I laid the foundation for this one—since she was a newborn, I’ve been putting Zumba YouTube videos on and dancing with her 🙂

Teeth: She has two coming in.  In the meantime, her main life objective is to put everything in her mouth.  Nothing is too weird or germy, and everything WILL get in her mouth—even if she has to make her servant hold it there for her.

IMG_0892Food: Zoe eats 5-6 oz of formula or donor breast milk every 3-4 hours.  We’ll start solids next month, which should be messy fun!

Schedule: She usually only wakes up once per night (between 2 and 5:00) and then sleeps until sometime between 5-7 am, when she starts a 2.5-3.5 hour eat/play/nap cycle.  She takes 2-3 naps per day.  Most of her naps are really short—25 minutes—but occasionally I will get a nice 1.5-2 hour nap out of her.  She usually crashes for the night between 6 and 6:45 pm.

Zoe loves:
-Music—especially Jim Gill, The GiggleBellies, VeggieTales, and the “ABC” song.  Yes, teenage boys at the stoplight yesterday, I WAS rocking out to “Hands Are For Clapping.”  While you were smirking at the music drifting out the window, we were learning valuable lessons like “hands are for clapping, fingers are for snapping, toes are for tapping.” Who’s too cool for school NOW?!

-Her Uncle Kenny

-Hurting mommy and daddy by pulling on their hair, face, mom’s earrings, or pinching them

IMG_0943“heh heh”

-FaceTime with her Gigi, Papa, Aunt Kelsey, and Grandma and Grandpa

-Her dog (also, she just noticed that we have fish last week and is really into them!)

-Her play group and the developmental class I take her to.  She loves the scarf, bubbles, and parachute activities and screams in excitement.

-Kicking and bridging.  Her legs are constantly in motion.

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Zoe tolerates:
-letting mommy go to the gym a few times a week while she goes to the child care area (YAY!)

-the car, but only while we’re moving.  In Zoe’s book, traffic laws were meant to broken.

-the pool (she keeps her face perfectly calm, like “if I don’t betray any emotion, maybe this will stop.” We’re starting mommy-and-me swimming lessons soon and I’m hoping that it makes her feel a little more comfortable.)

Zoe hates:
-when she is not constantly stimulated—none of this “lounging around and cuddling” business for her.  If I don’t present her with something new roughly every 5 minutes, she will scream…so we keep a full schedule and do multiple activities every day.  She keeps me on my toes!

-sermons at church. Tough luck, kid.  This is your life.

Anyway, I am having the BEST time with my little girl!!! I do miss working, but I’m so thankful that I get to stay home with her and enjoy her.  Yesterday we had morning play time, went to the gym, went to her developmental class, came home for a bit so she could nap, went to the park to meet some friends, came home and went on a family walk, and then had some family play time at home before we put her to bed and had adult time.  I just thought WOW…this is the best day I could have possibly imagined, and it’s my everyday life.  I am so blessed!

Photo on 5-12-13 at 8.45 AM #3

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Messy Things

Zoe got a new outfit a few weeks ago.  We’re going to keep it forever.

It’s not the outfit per se that is special; it’s the person who gave her the outfit.  Her birthmother.

Life is messy.  But let me back up.

When I first told God that yes, I would adopt, I was 15 years old.

I visualized an orphanage in a third world country.  I visualized a child with no living biological family and no relational confusion and messiness.  I’d be the only mom she would know and my husband would be the only dad she would know.  We’d celebrate and explore her country of origin but not her family background, because we wouldn’t know much about it.  She wouldn’t meet her birthparents because they would be dead or unknown, and this would cause angst and sadness and maybe even contribute towards some depression but it would be clean cut.  No one else could confuse or challenge my position as her mother. The last thing I wanted was a long, drawn-out relationship with a birthparent that could open my child (or me!) up to potential hurt or confusion.

God is funny.

When David and I felt led to domestic adoption, our agency told us: all the birthmoms want open adoptions these days.  If you say “closed adoption,” chances are you are not going to get a child.  

I almost ran.

I didn’t want this ongoing relationship with a birthparent—I just wanted a child.  Frankly, open adoption scared me.  I had spent the last few years working with children whose hurt ran deep—very often, due to abandonment by their birthparent(s).  I was scared to see my child suffer the same hurt.  I was scared that a birthparent might change their mind and try to get custody of my child after our adoption was finalized, contact my child against my wishes, or even kidnap my child.  I was scared that a birthparent might bring drama into our lives, complicate our family celebrations, or make my role as my child’s mother smaller.  I was scared of having a relationship I couldn’t control.

But as I prayed, God gently pointed out that this was what He wanted for our family—that any “control” I feel in relationships is an illusion because He is ultimately the one in control—and that He wanted us to trust Him to handle the details of our relationship with our child’s birthmother.

And He has…but not in the way I predicted.

When we were matched with Zoe, we chose to pursue a semi-open adoption and signed a legal contract with her birthmom specifying what “semi-open” meant (pictures/letters at specified intervals.)  So when we took Zoe home, I thought we would reach out every three months (then six months) and that would be the end of it.  Sure, it wasn’t as clean-cut as my orphan with no traceable biological family ties, but it wasn’t messy.

But I’ve found that things are still messy.  And that I really couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t decide to just go ahead and dwell in that messiness, because people and relationship can’t be cleanly cut to fit our expectations and if we try to force them to be a certain way because it suits our needs better, we aren’t really seeing them like Jesus does.

And that’s why we met Zoe’s birthmom for lunch a few weeks ago.

Because she’s grieving.  Because she’s fearful.  Because she wanted to see with her own eyes that she had done the right thing.

We didn’t have to meet her.  We have no legal reason to.  But we like her, and she’s been nothing but wonderful and respectful.  And so to us, it felt unethical to take the gift she so graciously gave us and then close our hearts and leave her alone in her pain because we were scared.  (Note—this statement is not prescriptive.  Every birthmom situation is different, and in some situations it would be really inappropriate to meet.  In our situation, we felt like it was inappropriate NOT to.)  

We hit traffic and were 15 minutes late to the restaurant.  I walked in full of apologies, but stopped talking immediately when I saw the joy that filled her birthmom’s face.  She didn’t care that we were late.  She didn’t care that Zoe had spit up all over the the “look, our daughter is really well cared for” dress I had carefully selected for her.  She just wanted to see a thriving baby who connected with us.

And that’s what she saw.

She wanted to know (but didn’t know how to ask) if Zoe felt like our “real daughter.”  She wanted to know (but didn’t know how to ask) if Zoe felt sad or abandoned when we took her home that first night.  She wanted to know (but didn’t know how to ask) a lot of things.  But the Spirit was present, our conversation was prayed for, and I think we answered her questions, the spoken and unspoken ones.  And I think she felt peace.  At least, I saw it on her face.

She had bought a cute outfit for Zoe, which I put on Zoe right away, because when else will she get to see her in it?  She called us Zoe’s “mom and dad.”  She waited to hold her until we invited her to.  She passed Zoe back to us when Zoe got fussy in her arms and we easily calmed her down because we know her.  And she was her birthmom and we were her parents and it didn’t feel very messy after all.

When our lunch ended, her birthmom asked if I could take a picture of them together.  I took one and could tell she wanted keep holding her, so I just kept taking pictures.

57 pictures later, our social worker said, “well…”

and we said “well…”

and her birthmom said “well…” and then hastily asked, “I was just wondering if you would think about whether we could meet again—maybe when she’s a year old?”

And we said our carefully practiced answer, which boils down to “we’ll think about it.”  And she said “that’s all I want–for you to think about it.  Take your time.  I understand if you say no.”

And then we said our goodbyes, got in our different cars, and drove different directions.

David and I hadn’t even backed out of the parking lot when we both looked at each other and said “hmm.  I think we’re going to meet her again.  I guess we’re doing a more open adoption than we realized.  Because that was cool.”

But if things change and it’s not good to meet her again after all, I am still glad that someday when Zoe says, “my birthmom didn’t want me,” I can pull out a tiny red outfit and say,

“See this? Your birthmom gave you this when you were 4 months old.  We weren’t supposed to meet, but she really missed you and wanted to make sure you were doing okay, and we thought that was cool, so we met her again.  She bought you this little outfit, and she asked lots of questions about how you were doing, and she held you and smiled.  And then she gave us back to you because she saw how happy you were with us.  And it made her very sad to give you back, but she loved you enough to do it.  And she is a strong woman, and you are very strong like her.  And it’s okay if you feel a lot of confusing feelings about it, because God will help you sort it all out.  Because He helps us deal with messy things.”

Never Dull

Some days, being a stay-at-home mom is joy after joy after joy.  What I feel welling up in me is hallelujah, this is such a blessing.

Other days…being a stay-at-home mom is my selfishness revealed to me all. day. long. What I feel welling up in me is crap, I have a lot of work to do in myself.

I’m thankful that I don’t have to do that work alone.

That I don’t have to be ashamed of the fact that I HAVE work to do.

That He loves me anyway.

graceMy goal and my prayer is to be able to love myself that same way—to fully accept His grace at the same time that I accept my need for growth.

Journeying with God: never a dull moment…

Happiest Couple

A few weeks ago, David’s best friend gave us a few free hours of babysitting on a Saturday afternoon.  David and I went to a great farm-to-table restaurant for brunch (I had a PERFECT quiche with a mixed greens salad, and he had a greasy bacon/egg/cheese sandwich.  We were both happy.)

After that, we had been planning on doing something active–kayaking, going for a walk, etc.–but it was gray and windy outside.

And so we found ourselves at a bowling alley at 1 pm on a Saturday, surrounded by children’s birthday parties and frat boys sipping beer and watching sports.

We played two games (rounds? I don’t know bowling terminology…) of bowling, each winning one.  David tried to improve my bowling form.  I giggled at his victory dance.  We congratulated one another for good turns.  It felt great to be together, enjoying one another’s company, knowing our daughter was being cared for by someone who loves her.  It felt nice to have a break from constant parenthood and be able to spend time with my first love and be fully present with him.

We went to turn our shoes in and the owner said, “I have to ask.  You two are the happiest couple! You smile more than anyone I’ve ever seen.  What’s your relationship? Are you married? Girlfriend/boyfriend?”

We told him we were married and he said “no kidding.”  He asked our ages (he thought I was 18, haha) and then asked what we did for a living.  David told him he worked at a church and he said “that makes sense.”  Then he asked me what I did and I said “I stay home with our daughter.”

That floored him.  “I can’t BELIEVE you are a stay at home mom! You guys have a daughter? And you are out having this much fun together, such big smiles? I can’t believe it.  You guys are blessed.”

It made me smile.  A lot.

I tend to be really hard on myself (which shouldn’t be news to anyone reading this.)  In this new stage of life, I’ve felt like I sometimes have less attention and energy to give to David than in the past. Although he’s very understanding and says there’s no problem, I feel the difference as more and more of our time is spent as “working time” as we care for Zoe instead of as “couple time.”

I love the “working time,” because it’s really “family time,” but I worry sometimes that we won’t know how to enjoy one another anymore in the “couple time.”  And while I feel like the happiest wife in the world…I worry sometimes that David is secretly like, “where did she GO?!”

I guess it felt good to hear how obvious it is that we still enjoy one another…that it’s obvious how much David loves being around me and spending time with me…that we’re obviously happy together.

It also felt good to win at bowling.  So there’s that!

Anyway, my point is…moms, take it easy on yourself! You’re probably doing better at this whole “balance” thing than you realize!