Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Baby Brother!

It's a boy! He is beautiful and healthy and we are so grateful to have another baby. Everything has happened so fast that I think I am still a bit in shock. We had 17 days from when we found out we had been chosen by a birth mother to when our son was born. Elijah Daniel Leland entered the world on July 19th and it seems our world has changed yet again.

Mark and I traveled down to Huntington, West Virginia on Sunday evening, the 18th, as we had been told that Eli's birth mother would be induced Monday morning. We left Gabriel in the capable hands of our friends, Cortney and Greg. It was really hard being away from him for four days, and we couldn't have done it without them and the many family members who have helped in caring for him or driving back and forth to see us. On Monday we sat in the waiting room for many hours without almost any information. Because of some of the details of our birth mother's situation, the hospital staff were VERY uneasy about sharing any information even when they had signed releases. We finally were told around 3pm by the hospital Social Worker, who was amazing, that it was still going to be a while before the baby was born. She advised that we take a break from sitting in the waiting room, go back to our hotel, and do something to relax. We went back to the hotel and took a nap, which was just what we both needed as we hadn't gotten much sleep the night before.

A little after 5pm our case worker, Spencer, came to our hotel to let us know what was going on. While we were napping he had arrived at the hospital and had talked to our birth mom. That morning she had asked the hospital Social Worker what her rights were for keeping the baby. This is a totally normal reaction for a birth mom. Who wouldn't hesitate to give their baby to someone else to raise? Spencer, who is fabulous at working with birth moms without pressuring them to place, came to the hospital to talk to her, see how she was feeling, and help her to understand her options. Once she had the chance to talk with him she was able to better understand her options and come back to the conclusion that she was making the right choice for this baby to give him to us. She still wasn't sure if she wanted to meet us, and whether or not she wanted to share her last name with us. This would determine whether or not we would be able to spend any time with the baby before the relinquishment papers were signed. So, Monday was a very stressful day for all involved. Still, we knew that Heavenly Father would help Eli's birth mom to know what she needed to do and if we were meant to be the parents of this baby, he would help that to happen.

Some how we were able to sleep on Monday night. We got up the next morning, got ready to go, and sat and waited for some word as to what was going on. Finally, at about 10:15am, Spencer texted Mark and said that we should come to the hospital and that we would be able to see the baby. We quickly grabbed our wallets, phones, camera, and a few other things and drove the 5 minutes to the hospital. I think that was the moment I realized how grateful I was that Mark had insisted we spend more money to stay closer to the hospital in a nicer hotel. After extensive identity checking, we were put in an empty patient room while a nurse went to get the baby. It was only about a half hour from the time we got the text to when we finally got to meet Elijah, but it felt like forever. He was worth the wait. He was so tiny, but long. He has a ton of soft black hair and beautiful dark brown, almost black, eyes. He is beautiful. Unlike his brother, who was born C-section, Eli was a little beat up from delivery. He has a stork bite on his face, which was very bright, and he was very puffy. Still, we thought he was amazing. We were able to be with him for many hours that day in the privacy of that patient room. It was perfect.

Spencer also told us that Elijah's birth mom had decided that she did want to meet us. I met with her by myself first, then later that day, Mark also met her. Over the next few days I spent several hours with her, getting to know her and talking about Eli. She felt that it was very important that we, as mothers, get to know each other and bond. One of the many ways we knew that this baby is meant to be a part of our family was how he was named. As many of you know, Gabriel has two middle names. One was given to him from his birth mom and one from us. Eli's birth mom asked if we would be willing to give him the middle name of Leland, but she didn't think it went well with Elijah, so she suggested that we could give him another middle name as well. It was perfect. This solution went perfectly with what we had already done with Gabriel. I think it is a wonderful tradition that our birth moms have been able to give our sons a middle name and it just shows how Heavenly Father helps us see how right certain situations are. The second and third day we spent with Elijah in the hospital they stuck us in the overflow nursery area. It was far from ideal or comfortable, but we were with Eli and it was a little amusing.

I will forever be grateful for the experience of spending time with Eli's birth mom. She told me toward the end of our time there that she was very grateful that she chose to meet us and that this is what finally helped her to know that she was doing the right thing. She told us that she came to understand that because she loves Eli, that giving him to us is the most selfless and loving thing she could do for him. We are so thankful for her. She is amazing, as is Gabriel's birth mom. We have great respect for them. While being able to take our babies home from the hospital is one of the most exciting and happy times of our lives, knowing that their birth moms are feeling so sad is very sad for us. It is truely a bitter sweet experience.

We were reunited with Gabriel that night, thanks to Mark's wonderful sister, Sarah, and it was so fun to see Gabriel meet his baby brother for the first time. He was excited and gentle and it was great! Sarah also brought my nephew, Collin, who stayed with me for several days after Mark and Sarah had to go back to Ohio. All together, I was in West Virginia for 18 days. By the end I was going a little crazy, but it was definately worth it. We now have our beautiful Elijah.

He is so completely different from Gabriel, except in his very fast growth. He was 6 pounds 13 ounces, and 20 inches (really 21, but he wouldn't cooperate) when he was born. At his 3 week check up he was already 9 pounds. He loves to cuddle especially with his mommy. He is definately a momma's boy. Gabriel was and is still very social. Even as a new born baby, he wanted to be able to see what was going on, so we had to hold him facing out. Gabriel was standing a lot of the time, by about 3 weeks old. He was a big daddy's boy. He loved his momma, but he still adores his daddy. They are best buds. Eli on the other hand is all about momma. He has attached to me so quickly and completely that it has surprised me a bit. I love being the person who can sooth him at all times. He is content to stare into someones eyes for a long time, and he is more interested in cuddling then in seeing what there is to see. We love both of our boys so much! They have each brought such unique and amazing things into our lives.

Elijah's statistics:
born July 19th at 7:43pm
6lbs, 13oz
20 inches

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day to our Birth Mother

Happy Mother's day! I love being a mom. There is no doubt about it, this is what I was waiting and hoping for since I was a little girl. I have always wanted to be a mother. Almost two years ago, Mark and I found out about Gabriel's birth mother, Andrea. She was searching for the right family for the baby she was carrying, and she chose us. We have been beyond grateful for that choice ever since. Gabriel is a beautiful, unique, and amazing light in our lives. While Mark and I were happy in our marriage before he came to our family, he has brought a completely new and wonderful part to our lives that we could not have had otherwise. He has made our marriage stronger. He has helped us learn and grow and love even more. He is beauty in our lives.

As I was saying a prayer with Gabriel this morning, I thought of Andrea. Without her, I could not have been his mom. Andrea, you will forever be in our lives. We think of you everyday. We pray for you every night before Gabriel goes to bed. We have started to tell him about you and your family, who loved (and I'm sure still do love) him so much. I know you loved him and I try every day to give him what you wanted for him.

So, today I wanted to say to you, Gabriel's first mother-Happy Mother's Day! I am proud to share this day with you.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I love you

Tuesday evening we went out for dinner, because Mark hadn't eaten all day, and he decided he really wanted a steak. While we were at the restaurant I realized that I hadn't brought my cell phone with me and I had to go strait from there to the church for youth activity night. Mark offered to let me take his phone with me and I did. When I came home he told me that he and Gabriel had made me a gift on my phone. Here it is:

The "Ah Lala lu" or "I love you" at the end is my favorite. Mostly he says it when prompted, but every once in a while he just says it out of the blue. It makes my heart melt every time.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

From the sicky sickos

I am so sick of being sick! I know I promised to post about Mark's time off awhile ago, but it seems I have been dealing with some type of infirmity or another for the past month. We had a wonderful time while he was off. We went to the Newport Aquarium with my mom and step-dad and had a wonderful time. We went at a leisurely pace the whole time and we all enjoyed the beautiful, scary, and strange that they had to offer. I think Gabriel's favorite area was the jelly fish, which he kept calling bubbles. We took some pictures, which I will publish as their own post.

For 24 hours of Mark's time off Gabriel went to him Mawmar's house (Sarah's mom) and Mommy and Daddy got to spend some much needed couple time. We firmly believe that it is important to keep our relationship strong now so when our children leave home (which eventually we hope they do) we will still love and like each other. While I love my son, the most important relationship in my life is my marriage. Mark continues to be my bestfriend. I love seeing him as a father. Seeing him in this role only strengthens my love for him. I couldn't ask for a better, more kind father for my children.

Mostly, we just spent time together, which was the point of Mark taking time off. It was exactly what I had hoped for.

Since then, I threw my back out and have had other sicknesses. Gabriel had an ear infection a couple of weeks ago, and then this week I took him back to the pediatrician due to an infection in his eyes. Getting a 20 month old to hold still while putting eye drops in their eyes is no easy task. He got this eye infection from a nasty cold, which he has now passed on to me. Within about 24 hours it went from a soar throat to a fever and loosing my voice. I have now passed it on to Mark in about 24 hours time. Thankfully, Mark doesn't seem to be as bad as I am and he has taken good care of us while we have been sick. I am grateful my husband is so willing to pick up the slack whenever I can't do my share, and without complaint too.

Our summer is already filling up with fun adventures. Mark's brother is getting married June 12th. We are going camping hopefully later in June, and I am planning on going to Palmyra, NY for youth conference in July. My best friend from college, Debbie, was planning on coming here from Utah in July with her family, but that trip has sadly been canceled. Still, it is going to be a fun summer with lots of family time. We are all excited and for now we are enjoying the beauty of spring. We hope you are all enjoying it where ever you may be as well.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Ohhh, I'm so excited!

Mark is taking time off! Back in January I suggested that Mark schedule some time off in March because there are not any holidays that he has off between New Year's Day and Memorial Day. So, starting this Friday we will have 6 days of relaxation and fun as a family. We are going to the Newport Aquarium and we might go to the Columbus Zoo. Mostly, we are just going to hang out at home and relax. We are all so excited! I think even Gabriel knows that something is coming. I'll post more about what we did with some pictures next week.

Other than that things are pretty much the same. Gabriel says a new word every day (which is not an exaggeration). He remains the most adorable, ornery little boy. When Mark is here they are pretty much inseparable, but no one;s kiss can heal like mommy's. I love being his mommy. So, until next week I hope you are all doing well and that you get to spend some quality time with those you love.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Best Friends

This is Gabriel's best friend E.

I babysit E and his older brother a few days a week. They live next door. Sometimes when I put Gabriel to bed and he is getting fussy, I say, "it's an E day tomorrow. You have to go to bed so he can come over in the morning" and he lays down and goes to sleep. When he saw them coming over the other day he got so excited. He was jumping up and down and squealing with delight. When I go get E up from a nap they see each other and they both start laughing and run over to each other. They love each other. E is almost exactly 6 months older then Gabe. They follow each other around playing together all day. When I come into the room where they are playing they look at me and run away, like they don't want me to interupt their conspiratorial behavior.

Yes, Gabriel is sitting on E's lap in that second picture.

Sometimes, when it is a non-babysitting day I think Gabriel thinks to himself, "I wish E was here". Don't get me wrong, Gabriel loves his mommy, but I think he gets a little bored when it is just the two of us and I am trying to get some house work done. Hopefully we will get to have some fun out of doors soon and he won't be quite so bored without his bestfriend.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Our little man

Last Friday Gabriel got his hair cut for the first time. I have been saying that he needed it cut for a while, but Mark kept saying no. He just wasn't ready to leave behind the baby look of Gabriel's hair. However, he was developing a bit of a mullet, so when I said we should go get his hair cut (for the hundredth time) and Mark said yes, we were on our way 35 minutes later. Mark had taken the day off, so it was a perfect time. We had talked about Mark cutting Gabriel's hair, but he said that for the first time he thought we should go somewhere and have it done. I quickly agreed. We went to a local place called Cookie Cutters that specializes in children's hair cuts. Here are a few pictures of what it looks like.

It was a really fun looking place. As you can see, each of the chairs was something fun like a dinosaur, a rocket ship, a race car, or (what Gabriel sat it) a tractor. They were arranged in a circle and in the middle was a television for each chair. Here are some of the before shots. They don't fully give a good picture of how long and scragly his hair was getting, but let's just say it's bad when daddy is tucking it into his collar on Sunday in order to hide how long it's become.

He did a fantastic job of sitting still. He thought the tractor was great fun and Daddy did a great job of keeping him entertained while I snapped away with the camera. The lady who cut his hair kept saying, "I can't believe how great he is doing."

Even when she brought out the little shears to do the edges he was very good. He didn't throw a fit when Daddy had to hold his head still or because Mommy kept telling him to smile.

He looks like such a little man. Although, we decided that without the wispy hair his cheeks look even chubbier than before. His beautiful eyes also stand out now more than ever. People already were constantly commenting on his beautiful eyes. How can you not fall in love with that face? It's impossible. And for a treat, here's a pic of his fishy face :). Love it!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Hoping for another little miracle

Actually, we don't think adopting another child would be a little miracle at all- adoption is always a huge miracle. Last Friday, we were officially opproved for a second adoption! We are so excited about this. We know, Gabriel will only be eighteen months old in a few weeks, but we're ready. When we adopted Gabriel it was 18 months from when we applied to when we took him home. This is pretty much average. We started our application for a second adoption the beginning of September, so if the average holds it will still be a while until we have another baby placed with us. However, it could also be tomorrow. We would love for it to be sooner rather than later.

Gabriel has been the most beautiful gift in our lives. Even as he becomes an obstinate toddler, I still look at him and think "You are so precious. I love you so much." We don't have any concern about loving another child as much as we love him. He has shown us how love simply grows rather than dividing. We are so excited to share the love we have in our little family with another child.

We are working with LDS Family Services, which is the agency we worked with when we adopted Gabriel. One of the great things that our agency does is provide counseling and support services for birth parents without pressure or judgement. If you or someone you know would like to know more about adoption, please go to itsaboutlove.org. This is a no pressure way to learn more and you can be directed as to how to speak with an adoption counselor in your area who can help you to decide if adoption is the right option for you. You can also see our profile at www.itsaboutlove.org/ial/profiles/23704159/ourMessage.jsf .

To our future child: We can't wait to meet you...we love you.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

He sure is thorough

It's 10:10pm on Saturday night. Mark and I have to speak in sacrament meeting tomorrow. I've been done writing my talk for about an hour now. Mark will not be done for hours yet. I'm a little nervous about how things will be when he is in school and he has to write papers. I am afraid we will see him even less then we see him now and that's not very much. At least he's thorough. So, while I am sitting here I thought I would take the chance to write another post.
Last Thursday evening I went out to dinner with six of my friends from high school. We get together occasionally and catch up on one another's lives. I personally think that it is pretty great that we all still get along and care about each other. We had a good time.
My friend Audra asked me if Gabriel has hit the terrible 18 months yet. She said whoever said it starts at two lied. I absolutely agree! While generally Gabriel is a pleasant child, he is definitely becoming more moody. A week ago Friday was especially difficult. He woke up and said to me "who is it, Daddy?" (he calls Mark "who is it" because I use to ask him this question every time Mark came home. He has recently tacked on Daddy to the end.) He continued to ask for Daddy all day and he grew increasingly irritated with me when I couldn't produce him. He would not eat lunch at all. For those of you who have seen my son's belly (which he loves to show off) you know that skipping a meal is not normal behavior for Gabriel. He was just plain contrary. After his nap I still had not eaten lunch so I made myself a grilled cheese. I decided to make an extra one and formulated a plan. I told Gabriel "this is Mommy's and you can't have any". Of course, he ate an entire sandwich himself because of this statement. By the time Mark got home, I was exhausted emotionally and physically. It is amazing how a 17-month-old can wear you out so much.
One day this last week I was trying to get Gabriel to do something and he just wouldn't listen. Finally I said to him "am I just talking for my own entertainment?". He turned around, looked at me, and shook his head yes. I'll admit, I couldn't help but laugh. I guess better that than screaming, right? He is better about doing things for Mark, but the truth is he throws a huge fit when I leave. To be honest, I love that just a little. I just hope he does okay when we start leaving him in nursery in a few weeks. Wish us luck.
Here's some pictures of the last few months. I'll try to limit how many I post.
Halloween was fun. Isn't our little lion adorable? He won cutest boy costume at the church kids fashion show. This costume has been through all six boys on Sarah's side of the family.
Bringing home the Christmas tree, opening presents, and Sarah's siblings. Aren't they a handsome group?
I know how to handle food.
Walking around in Mommy's shoes. So cute!
And now I'm going to bed. Good night!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Last year I didn't make any New Year's resolutions. This year I unofficially have three. One is to blog more often, two is to take my LISW exam, and three is to loose weight. I suppose writing about them makes them official. Anyway, it is now the...what day is it?...it's the 13th of January and I am just now writing a post. I've been wondering why I feel so much more overwhelmed with accomplishing anything lately. It seems any task takes me twice as long as it use to and unless something is really important, it is not likely to get done in a timely fashion if at all. I've especially been thinking about how much more I had on my plate last year with an internship and classes, but how I seemed to be able to get everything done. Well, today I randomly saw this article and it gave me some insight as to why I'm feeling this way. It also helped me realize that I'm not defective and I'm not the only one.

I thankfully don't have any friends who have expressed this kind of attitude. I also feel like I was considerate to my friends with children before I became a mom. However, I think I have inflicted some unrealistic expectations on myself (I know, big surprise). I feel like I can never get enough done. No matter how hard I try, I cannot keep my house clean. There is constantly laundry or dishes to be done, or toys to pick up. I rarely get to shower before noon. I just took down our Christmas decorations yesterday. It's all I can do to get dinner on the table some days. Little things like going to the grocery store, the doctors office, or the dry cleaners take a lot of planning.
I told myself that it was due to the fact that my husband is working 50-60 hours a week and I'm babysitting a few days a week. While I'm sure these things contribute to my lack of productivity, this article helped me realize that it's because I'm a mom of a 17 month old little boy. I am constantly having to keep an eye on him. It is no exaggeration to say that if I turn my back for more than a few minutes that he will be in to something he shouldn't be. While writing this I have already had to get up and intervene/instruct about something seven times. I especially liked the part about constant use of your voice and teaching virtually everything. It's a lot to be responsible for. I'm exhausted at the end of the day and when I try to explain to Mark why I'm so tired, I feel like I have so little to actually tell about.
Yet, she is right. It is a choice that I have made to stay home with my son. Thankfully, Mark is very supportive and constantly tells me how grateful he is that I am at home. I would not choose to be anywhere else. This coming Sunday Mark and I are giving talks in Sacrament meeting and in one of the conference talks we are speaking on Dallin H. Oaks said, "There is no area of parental action that is more needful of heavenly guidance or more likely to receive it than the decisions of parents in raising their children and governing their families. This is the work of Eternity." This made me realize that even though my days are filled with an endless amount of unfinished work, dirty diapers, dirty laundry, and dirty dishes, they are also filled by the irreplaceable influence that I have on my child and that he has on me.
So, I may not be the perfect housekeeper, the most available friend, or the most influential woman on earth, but I am the most influential person in my son's life. After all the years of struggle to become a mother I need to remember how important and valuable I know the job of being a mom is. I guess sometimes I just need a little reminder and I need to give myself a little slack. I'll keep trying to work on my goals, but maybe somethings are not as important as I make them seem. We'll see how it goes.