Monday, April 23, 2012

Blank slate

One of the interesting things about having a child that isn't genetically related to either of us is that we don't have the expectations that other people seem to have about their biological children. I'm not talking that he will be an astronaut/musician/teacher but that he will be sensitive to things on his skin (like Mr Spouse, and like a lot of children I know whose parents can afford expensive organic creams), will sleep well, will be a fussy eater, will use a pacifier - the kind of things that your mother says "ooh when you were a baby you..."

However our generally well hard and not bothered baby has unfortunately decided to be allergic to a couple of different washing powders (the branded one is worse than the own brand, which I am slightly proud of him for). But I bet if we had a birth child my mother would be saying "oh, you should only use Brand X" which either doesn't exist any more or has a completely different formulation. So that would not be massively helpful either.

I took ages to edit and post this because so much has happened in between. We had to work out the proper baby garb for a funeral (mother-in-law's, last week - answer was Not Rainbow Stripes which is my favourite baby garb currently). We had our first visit to the out-of-hours doctor (today, baby's temperature magically lower upon entering room). I've had a fairly reassuring meeting with my line manager about part time hours on return to work, we'll see if an upcoming change of manager makes a difference but I'm pushing for this in writing ASAP).

Also, the agency implode came to a conclusion, said conclusion including further expenditure on a lawyer for us, and missing photos for Nella. She also changed her phone number yet again, which I should be used to by now but which panicked me. Anyway, I heard from her today that she got the last two batches - a relief on many counts including the fact that she's still in an uncertain living situation so we aren't always sure mail gets to her.

I told her about Mr Spouse's mum and she was very sweet, and said how nice it was she got to meet Baby Spouse, which is exactly what we and everyone else have been saying. I knew that there was little chance he'd get to know her and remember her, but I was hoping for more time with them together so we could have more stories to tell him. I have made sure to keep a few things for him, some from Mr Spouse's childhood that she had but also some odd things like dressing-up clothes that we can say "that was from your grandma".

We've asked our UK agency if they will do what is called "letterbox" here and what US adopters probably know as "contact" - they'll hold on to copies of all our photos and letters till Baby Spouse turns 18, in case anything happens to any of the parties - they seem OK with this, though they've never done it for any overseas adopters.

I think they are impressed with us for persisting with contact, both in general and also now we can't do this through Formerly Nice Little Agency. It only occurred to me today that we could, if we felt like it, use this opportunity to decide not to continue with contact. I actually shocked myself for even thinking of it.

Thursday, April 12, 2012


I have already posted about people saying Baby Spouse is lucky, and how to make people realise it is not lucky if you cannot grow up with your original family. We have tended also to emphasise what an easy baby he is and how rewarding. But I was caught out the other day when I was surprised when someone offered me a seat on public transport when I had him in the sling. Surely I already have an advantage and I should be giving up my seat?

There have been a few amusing posts on STFU Parents about things not to say to your childless friends, and about "mommyjacking". One common theme is telling people they cannot possibly know the meaning of the word "tired" until they have children. As I say, we are very lucky in how easy Baby Spouse is and the fact that he actually sleeps, but I can think of at least four things in the past that have left me at least as tired:

- Shift work (as a volunteer, but coming just before starting medical school, it was very good for me in that it played a part in my, very sensible, decision to follow a different career).

- Insomnia, which at times has been chronic.

- Being in charge of a group of school aged children on a multi-day holiday (it's when they take it in turns to have nightmares/arguments/homesickness).

- Being in charge of a single, very ill school aged child who can't be left alone, even for one night (thanks to that parent who still sent her daughter on sleepover).

The last two I know are likely to happen again (the first because I'm a masochist and the second because I know there will be illness at some point). But if you are awake feeding a newborn (at least, our newborn), you don't need to be nearly as alert as if you have a sleepwalker or cough-till-you-vomiter. These thoughts leave me to conclude that my recent ennui was not entirely tiredness-based.

In other news, Baby Spouse's cousins adore him, naturally, and vice versa (five year olds are very amusing to a baby). The clans aka all my friends will descend on our London flat tomorrow and the next day (approx 8 adults and more children). And everyone at my work is taking it in turns to be a pain in the proverbial about matters adoption-leave-related.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Brain dump

We saw my mother-in-law yesterday. Mr Spouse was pleased that she was actually awake briefly, though she is very seriously ill and they have stopped treatment, he had not seen her awake on any of his previous visits, even when she was not as unwell and was fairly responsive a lot of the time. I was also pleased we were able to take Baby Spouse as she's in a private room now.  We are sad, and I hate that I am also resentful of the time this takes away from us as a family. Mr Spouse has already been spending ridiculous amounts of time on his work for his Masters, and this (and I know how this sounds) is just the last straw. Uncertainty.

We are due to go down to London on Monday (visitors will be received) and thence to European Capital where my mother has booked an apartment for us and my brother's family.  Being my mother, when she got an email saying "it is possible your booking for this apartment was hacked" and we said "ring the person you are getting the keys from" she refuses to do so. Being my family, my brother was supposed to be transferring the money in Euros but we are not sure if he's actually sent the balance. So we may be in London all next week, we may make a mercy dash back up north, or we may get to go on Eurostar and annoy the business travellers (OK, we aren't in business class). More uncertainty.

There is a major, and I mean major, issue with Nice Little Agency. I don't think any of my readers will have received details of this, but we will lose some money (not too much thankfully) and we may need extra legal work done for finalisation, and/or extra social worker time for post-placement reports, and we aren't sure what will happen about that, we aren't even sure if some of our paperwork may disappear. We think the worst that could happen is that we have to redo one report and shell out again for some others to be filed, but we really aren't sure. In some ways we have been lucky in this as if it had happened while we were in country, or before Baby Spouse was born, we'd be in much bigger trouble. But more uncertainty. 

Although the MIL issue is ongoing, the other two issues came up over the same couple of days and I've been feeling very out of sorts anyway.

I want something. I do not know what it is I want. OK, I'd like more sleep, but that's up and down, and some days are pretty good, and though Baby Spouse is probably having "a bit of a grow" as Mr Spouse says, and therefore not sleeping as well, it's not too desperate.  We had friends staying, and they basically brought the contents of their loft for us. Except it's not all there is - but our house is now the one that is overflowing. Our social worker thinks we have lots of clutter but we actually have just the right amount of clutter, and more makes me anxious.  

Not exercising also makes me anxious.  I have had a couple of days when I have felt awake enough, and had someone else to mind the baby, and I could have been for a run. These days don't come often. But I don't want to run (rare for me). I'm not sure if I'm too tired underneath, or bored of my route (some of my older varied routes are now too long for me, and I feel oddly anxious about going one direction because you have to run past people, so I've been going only along one out-and-back route).  And running is the best way I've found to keep my weight down, I'm hopelessly bad at dieting (to the point where I don't believe in it), plus it's the only realistic 30-40 minute door-to-door exercise option. 

But I want something else. It may be I want to do some other form of exercise. It may be I want a regular mummy meet up (except those are anxiety-provoking too - I bit my tongue through a round of birth stories the other day). It may be that just having Mr Spouse to ourselves with no mercy dashes and no coursework will be what I need. I feel sad and out of sorts, and it IS partly intermittent tiredness, and it is partly the MIL sadness, but that's not all.   

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Still here

Still trying to find strategies for sleep and night feeds, still not the most popular member of the family (two visits to view Baby Spouse yesterday, one today, though the second was from the lovely family members who we nominated as guardians so highly welcome. But I think I'll just go out and leave them to it in future!).  Still annoyed that I don't have a husband in the evenings/weekends. Mother-in-law still (more so) very ill.

Also, Nella still has a cell phone so we managed a brief (nosy, and therefore somewhat unsatisfactory, but at least it happened) contact call yesterday evening. She told us that her parents had sent Baby Spouse's personal email address to the parents of Baby Spouse's slightly older brother (who I think I will call Karman) but we did not get anything from them. I think we will email Nella's parents to say thank you for this, and to ask two things about the birth father which, in my shock at actually getting through, I forgot to ask Nella (namely, can we have a photo and has she been able to contact him to fill in a medical information form that the agency sent).

Nella does have contact, possibly quarterly? with Karman and his parents, and the evidence is she gets herself there and shows up in a good state. So actually, that isn't a bad omen for the future. She also sounded understanding that Karman is quite wary of her and of her parents because she does realise that he sees them rarely.