baby development

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

And I Smell Like a Mom Too

I was just sitting here working when I realized that I smelled Then I did the pit-check and discovered that in my rush to make it to work on time this morning that I had neglected to apply deodorant. Thank goodness I only have 3 hours to go, and that I don't have any meetings. I microwaved a Lean Cuisine pizza for my late lunch. Maybe folks will assume the pizza was funky.

This mom job is hard. At least I showered. Perhaps soon I will find time to shave my legs.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Meeting 1 With Sugar Cookie's Worker

Realization #973: I looked at the clock and realized that I'd been thinking about blogging all day - thus reinforcing how hard it is to write our story.

Sugar Cookie's worker, R. came to our house at 4:30 on Friday. It was a very good meeting. I liked her very much - she was organized, empathic to some extent, and seemed to actually like her job and know it well. She presented us with a list of things she will need to see each visit, and thing we woudl talk about:

Medical Records & Medical Passport
Mental Health Records - First Steps Referral
Dates of past & upcoming visit
Dates of past & upcoming court dates

We talked about Cookie's pediatric appointments, and R. is going to request a First Steps assessment to see (at some point) if she has any problems as a result of Biomom's drug use. She thinks that cannot happen before Cookie is 6 months old.

We talked about the Lifebook, and we told her about taking digital pictures and taking Cookie to Wal-Mart. We really need to start scrapbooking, and I dread that because I have some weird belief that once I make the book, she will leave. I think this whole thing has made me superstitious.

Biomom will have 2 visits in February - the 14th and 28th for one hour each. Michael will be taking her to those.

Biomom hasn't done anything. She has been told to get drug tests, but she has given excuses for not going - ranging from "no transportation" to "I don't have any ID". Umm hmm. Okay. R. says she is very passive about everything. R. told us that Biomom was a child of the streets from the time she was 12, and that's about when she met Biodad - who at that time was 35. Yes, you read correctly - 35. She is now 23, and he is 46. Nice.

Court dates: (deep breaths, everyone...)
February 13th is a BIG DAY. This is the disspositionary hearing at which (are you ready?), R. is going to petition the courts for termination of parental rights. I had no idea this move would be made so soon. But, she is at the mercy of the courts on this. The judge could agree, or say "no" and give Biomom more time. R. think that the "worst case" will be that the judge gives Biomom 60 more days to get her act together. The "best case" would be agreement from the judge and that would begin the 30-day wait for Biomom to appeal. From there, all would be focused on getting Sugar Cookie adopted.

On adoption: (more deep breaths...)
The family that adopted Sugar Cookie's 2 siblings has been notified about her birth, but they have not responded as to whether they want her too. They want a definite "yay" or "nay" from them. R. believes that they would get the first chance to adopt her. This is different from our worker's position, who says that they would not because the siblings did not know each other. Ugh! I hate conflicting positions. Anyway, come to find out, Sugar Cookie's brother (age 4 or 6 - don't know which one is the boy) has some kind of cancer and Adoptivefamily has been in and out of hospitals with him. R. believes they will not want to now take on a newborn baby as well. We will see. R. hopes to know before the court date so that she can mark us down as the pre-adoptive family on "official" court papers.

There is also a relative that wants Sugar Cookie - a 16 year old girl who was emancipated because she got married. Yikes. R. says she cannot see them being approved for relative-care, but then again, stranger things happen. Still, can you imagine a 16-year old giving this baby what she needs - as well as looking out for any special needs that could develop?

So, let's spell out the "best case scenario": Past-Adoptive family says no, 16-yr. old relative doesn't check out, judge says "yes" to the PRT (parental rights termination), and WE are made the pre-adoptive family of record. That's a lot to ask for, but I've asked God for much more than that, and he's answered.

Of course, there are many ways this could all work out. Until then, we are doing well, and Sugar Cookie continues to grow like a weed, and make us smile like crazy. We try hard not to dwell on the things that could go "wrong", and just enjoy every day we have with her.

She'll be 6 weeks old tomorrow. She's produces more poop than I could ever have imagined such a small thing producing. In fact, last night I thought she was done pooping, and then as soon as I took the dirty diaper away and wiped her bum, she peed and pooped all over the changing table. She was then so thrilled with herself that she kicked her chubby legs all over the poop and me - all at 4:30 this morning. If she weren't so doggone cute, I'd have been more upset about it.

She's still working on learning how to smile, and she really enjoys the attention she gets at church.

You know, February will hold a lot of answers and changes for our family. We will know a whole lot about Sugar Cookie's future - maybe even for good. Until then, Michael and I so appreciate your prayers and good thoughts.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Another Survey

1. What time did you get up this morning? 6:00, then 7:00
2. Diamonds or pearls? Can't I have both?...okay, diamonds
3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema? Guess Who
4. What is your favorite TV show? Criminal Minds
5. What did you have for breakfast? coffee
6. What is your middle name? Sue
7. What is your favorite cuisine? Greek
8. What foods do you dislike? caviar, liver pate
9. Your favorite Potato chip? Ruffles with french onion dip
10. What is your favorite CD at the moment? Jamie Cullem
11. What kind of car do you drive? Ford Taurus
12. Favorite sandwich? Subway's BMT
13. What characteristics do you despise? decietfulness, apathy
14. Favorite item of clothing? lingerie
15. If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation, where would you go? Mexico
16. What color is your bathroom? Blue
17. Favorite brand of clothing? Liz Claiborne
18. Where would you want to retire to? Colordao
19. Favorite time of day? Mid-morning
20. Where were you born? Vero Beach, FL
21. Favorite sport to watch? if I had to watch one, it would be UK basketball
22. Who do you least expect to send this back? Pam
23. Person you expect to send it back first? Megan
24. What laundry detergent do you use? Whatever is on sale
25. Coke or Pepsi? Pepsi, if it's regular - Coke if it's diet
26. Are you a morning person or night owl? Neither - 10-8 are my hours of sanity
27. Do you have any pets? two cats
28. Any new and exciting news you'd like to share with everyone? My husband and I have a 5-week-old foster daughter.
29. What did you want to be when you were little? a ballerina, a singer, then a psychiatrist, then a professor
30. Favorite candy bar? Snickers
31. What is your best childhood memory? singing in church
32. What are the different jobs you have had in your life? Secretary, opticians assistant, medical records clerk, graduate teaching assistant, professor
33. What color underwear are you wearing? lemme
34. Piercings? just the lobes
35. Eye color? Brown
36. Ever been to Africa? nope
37. Ever been toilet papering? no
38. Ever been in love so much it made you cry? Many, many times
39. Been in a car accident? yes
40. Croutons or bacon bits? croutons
41. Favorite day of the week? Friday
42. Favorite restaurant? Jerusalem House (Denver, CO)
43. What store would you choose to max out your credit card? Ethan Allen
44. What do you do most often when you are bored? eat junk food, watch TV, blog
45. Bedtime? 10 or whenever the foster baby allows it
46. Who are you most curious about their responses to this questionnaire? Everybody
47. What are you listening to right now? absolutely nothing
48. What is your favorite color? green
49. Lake, ocean, or river? Lake
50. How many tattoos do you have? 0
51. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Chicken
52. How many people are you sending this email to? i'll figure that out in a bit
53. Time finished? 10:05 am

Anyone else want to give this as shot?

Knowing State Laws

Click on the above title to see the work I have been doing.

I'm not one to sit on my behind and do nothing. At the very least, I can educate myself regarding the laws in my state.

Some things I wanted to know:

When does a dispositional hearing have to occur and can I attend? What happens at that hearing?

What is this "case plan" and what goes into it?

When can parental rights be terminated and how is that decided?

What is concurrent planning and what constitutes "reasonable efforts" to reunite the family?

I found the answers to all of these questions (well, the legal answers anyway). Biomom has a lot to overcome. If you read through this webpage, you'll see that since she has a drug addiction and has had her parental rights involuntarily terminated for two other children in the past this will be extremely difficult for her.

You'll also see that in Kentucky a child cannot be in foster care for more than 15 out of 22 months before a permanency hearing has to take place. So, the worst case scenario is that we have Sugar Cookie for 15 months straight and then the courts get to ask whether Biomom has made enough progress. Courts can terminate parental rights even if some progress has been made, but that progress is not fast enough or sufficient enough. Recently, in NC, there have been several appeals cases in which the decision to terminate parental rights was upheld even though the birth mother had made some progress. The courts ruled that even though the birth mother had done some things, that she failed to sufficiently make progress. This means that simply showing up for visitations and being nice just doesn't cut it.

We have been told by workers that if Sugar Cookie is with us for a year, that heavy duty planning will begin even if Biomom has made some progress.

My hope for Biomom is that a miracle happens in her life. I desperately hope she gets clean. I pray she does not conceive any more children until she is clean and sober and able to care for a child. I pray that these things happen and that she is able to use these horrible things she is going through now as a testament so that she can someday help others. I know that I cannot be the one to rescue her. But I know God can send someone - or multiple someones - into her life to help her make the right decisions. I don't rule out a miracle in her case - people get off drugs and clean up their lives every day.

For some reason, my feelings about Biomom are changing. She has made terrible choices, but so have I at times. She's only 23 years old. Its not too late for her to turn her life around. My prayer is that she makes the right decisions somehow - to get clean and, if its God's will, to somehow come to the decision to give this child up for adoption. I doubt any of the workers will suggest it, but I can't help but hope that someone she loves and trusts talks to her about that option.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Sugar Cookie Sees Biomom

Today at noon Michael took Sugar Cookie to the Cabinet office. Biomom was supposed to be in the back meeting with R., the case worker. So much for that plan. Michael reported the following:

When he walked in, there was one lone young girl sitting in the waiting room. He said he immediately knew it was Biomom. She is 23. At lunch, I asked Michael if she looked like an addict (as I anyone really knows what an addict is supposed to look like). And he had these simple, yet profound observations:

"Nah, she just looked like a kid."

"Like one of your students?", I asked.

"Nah. She looked like she'd been through a lot."

"Oh." I munched on a fry.

I can't really say why I wanted her to be a monster, or some faceless addict. I didn't want to feel a sense of humanity there. I wanted to feel cold and distant - then there would be no risk, no hurt, no worry. I wouldn't have to care.

"Sugar Cookie's eyes aren't gonna change color, that's for sure."

"Ah - Cookie looks like Biomom?" I pictured a young woman with light brown hair and deep blue eyes with an up-turned nose and pale skin.

"Yeah, kinda."

"Is she cute like Sugar Cookie?"

He shakes his head "no" and inserts some fries into his mouth, possibly to keep from asnwering more of my questions (he is a man of few words).

"Was she a small person?", I asked, knowing that Sugar Cookie seems like a small baby.

"Nah. I mean, she was average height I guess. And she wasn't too skinny. Just average."

"Was she glad to see the baby?"

"Yeah. But Baby was pretty annoyed when she first picked her up." Michael doesn't call her Sugar Cookie - he calls her Baby - as in Nobody puts Baby in a corner. It seemed normal for Michael to notice Sugar Cookie's behavior more than Biomom's as that is who he is truly concerned about.

Once Biomom went into the back with Sugar Cookie, R. came out and apologized to Michael for the screw-up of having Biomom there to see him. We had wanted to stay anonymous for reasons of past case history, and for our personal safety and the baby's.

Michael's feathers seemed unruffled by the whole encounter. He was calm as usual, and just seemed to want to get the morning over with so he could get back home and get back to work. There's a part of me that's envious of his ability to let things roll off his back like that (yet another foul metaphor). That's one of his best points and one of his worst - to see the downside, just try to get him excited or enthusiastic about something and you'll be waiting a very long time.

What happens next seems to be a mystery of sorts. Apparently there will be the dispositionary hearing, but I have no idea what that is or when it will be. R. seems to be a very tight-lipped worker, so we will see what she has to say when she comes to our home this Friday. Perhaps I shall have some tea and cookies ready to warm her up.

All we know is that Biomom will get 2 1-hour visits each month - not even close to what would be required to bond with an infant. She will see Sugar Cookie on February 14th and 28th. I guess that means that she is ours for another month at least. I also guess this means we are in for a very long ride with Sugar Cookie. She's beautiful - our Christmas miracle - but today I have to admit that a part of me felt...(she searches for the right word)...

vulnerable - maybe
crushed - uh, too junior-high
baren - nah, too close to sounding like i'm referring to my infertility
defeated - nah, i don't want to feel like i'm in a war
cautious - sure
sad - yes

I felt sad - among the other above-listed emotions. Sugar Cookie feels like ours. Her smell is familiar. We see every tiny growth and new development. We know her developing personality, her fussy times, and how she likes her bottles. We know how she likes to be held, and we are learning what songs she likes to have sung to her. We are thinking of names we would re-name her should the day come that legally we would be allowed to do so (though her given name is just fine).

We know how her eyes get big and wide and she gets quiet and stretches out her legs when she is about to poop. We know when her fussiness is just gas. We know the outfits she is most comfortable in. We know Huggies diapers fit her better than Pampers. We know she is on the verge of knowing how to smile a real smile. We know she adores lying on the down comforter when she stretches her arms up above her head and falls asleep while we watch TV in bed.

I can't imagine living through a year or two of uncertainty about Sugar Cookie's future. I also don't know what this is doing in terms of preventing us from getting a placement of a child who could become ours forever, or from pursuing a private adoption simply because we don't know what will happen.

So, on the fertility front:
My blood tests came back and my testosterone level is down even more - HURRAY! For those of you who don't know, "normal" testosterone for a woman is between 17-74...mine was at 89 when I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. I am now at a 43!! By taking Metformin for alomst a year now, I have cut my testosterone in half. The doctor is thrilled at my progress. I also have a cycle every month unaided - though it is about every 35 days - a little too long to be very fertile cycles according to my OB/GYN.

Michael is on a 6-month cycle of taking Clomiphene. Yup, you read right - Clomiphene. Some studies have shown positive results for men taking Clomiphene to raise sperm count and semen quality. Pre-Clomiphene semen analysis revealed an acceptable number of swimmers, but they were dead, slow, or mutants. (aaaaaaahhhhhhh - mutant sperm!!!!) I did not know that mutant sperm had 2 heads, no tails, etc. Learning about sperm has been a hoot.

This summer we are going to have Michael do another test, and if we have better quality of swimmers, we MAY go ahead and try artificial insemination. It would cost about $500 each attempt. The reproductive endo believes that if in 3 rounds we do not conceive, then our only chance would be the $20K Invitro. We both agree we will not go that route. I want to have children, but gee wiz that's a lot of money for no guarantee of success. I'd rather spend the 20K on an international adoption where I'd be guaranteed to be a mother at the end of the arduous process.

It's all so overwhelming, and I know that it will never stop being that way until something happens - an adoption, birth, or both.

I can't wait to get home and hold Sugar Cookie. I bet she missed me today.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Enter Biomom

In a New York minute - oooooh oooooh ooooh - everything can change.

Sugar Cookie now has a permanent worker - R.

R. called me this morning and told me that the initial hearing on Sugar Cookie's case is this morning, and dispositions will be scheduled later on. She has been in contact with Biomom via phone, and Biomom says she will be in court this morning. Biomom also wants visits, and she has a right to them. So, tomorrow, Michael will take Sugar Cookie to the cabinet office at noon for her very first meeting with Biomom since birth. Tomorrow Sugar Cookie will be 5 weeks old.

For now, R. says Biomom will have visits twice a month for an hour until she shows some progress. At most, she will have weekly visits for an hour.

I don't know what Biomom will have to do to get Sugar Cookie back. I asked about Biodad, and R. doesn't even know if he is in the county, or if he is still in jail back in another county. I guess he has a hearing later on, too. R. didn't know much. I asked a ton of questions, and all the answers were basically "we'll have to see what happens". While I know all that is true, I guess I see this as so strange. It seems you always hear about people trying to do "what's in the best interest of the child", yet I have rarely seen that done in the system. Instead, I see children shuffled around and in and out of foster care, relatives homes, bioparent homes, and back to foster care in the name of "reuniting families". That's not reuniting families - it's torture.

I feel like crying, but I can't. I'm at work - and even if I could cry, I wouldn't know what to cry about. I don't feel helpless - but I hurt.

R. asked that we send a disposable camera to the visit so workers can take pictures of Sugar Cookie and Biomom so that she can see what her Biomom looked like if she does not get to return "home". In a way, that feels so weird. I can't imagine what it will feel to get those pictures developed and see what Biomom looks like. At the worst, I've thought of her as a monster who could have killed her baby. At best, I've thought of her as a desperately ill addict who couldn't help herself and didn't want to hurt her baby, but had no control over her actions.

Biodad is a monster. I will not write about what he did to be in jail - but I will say it is not your garden variety of abuse. It is the worst of all forms of abuse. It is unspeakable. In my mind, there is no punishment that is severe enough for what he did to a child or children.

The worst nightmares I have are about what could happen to Sugar Cookie if she is returned to those people and that life. Even if they "follow their case plan", I know the likelihood that Sugar Cookie will have a poor quality of life. Would she have good nutrition, safe housing, good schools, warm clothes - even the basics? And above that - who would teach her about Jesus and pray with her? Would she have the opportunity to go the best college she could get in to? Would she have stability and security?

Tomorrow Michael will take our 5 week old Sugar Cookie to the cabinet office. He will likely learn a little about how the court date went this morning. Then on Friday at 4, R. will come to our home for a visit to see where Sugar Cookie lives. I hope R. does not stay as tight-lipped as she did on the phone with me this morning. I need information. I need to know if I am to guard my heart against certain pain, or if I am to be hopeful about the future of our relationship with this baby.

I didn't know I could fall in love with a baby that is not mine biologically. I worried about that when we considered adoption. But now I feel like a mother lioness protecting her cub. What would I do for this baby? Anything. I would do anything. How long did it take for me to come to that conclusion? Days, maybe.

I know logically that God has a plan in all this. I know it. My human nature is to try to control it - work it so it fits my plan and timeline. But this is the perfect situation because I can't do a darn thing, and God knows that. I think He is smiling at me knowing that I know that He knows - like a parent laughs at his child knowing his child's faults and loving them just the same.

We will need a lot of prayer to get through this week as we find out more about the plan for Sugar Cookie's future. Please remember us tomorrow around noon time and Friday around 4. We will need all the strength we can muster. I would just like to get through the week without crying about it all.

Please, God, no matter what your will is, please don't let this situation drag on and on for us. Please let us know quickly - as quickly as possible - what will become of Sugar Cookie and our family. You know what we can handle, and we are willing to go the distance with you and with this child. But we beg you - please don't let us suffer too long.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Our Growing Cookie

Oh, how I love being in love. I've never been in love with a baby before, and it all seems so strange-beautiful. I've been thinking about her again while at work. Daddy Michael has been home/at work/running errands with her all day today and I'm more than a little envious.

It seems like every day when I come home I notice that our Sugar Cookie is changing. She's putting on weight - her face is more rounded and her cheeks are more chubby and her nose more up-turned. Her arms and legs are chubbier, her hair thicker and darker, and her mouth and rosebud lips getting wider. When she looks at you, there's more focus to her gaze. She's more attentive and interactive, and she loves our "talks". Sometimes I do no more than tell her about my day and how annoying my boss was or how much work I did - and she is a better listener than anyone! She opens her eyes wide and stares at me in wonder and waves her pudgy arms all about. She still can't smile yet, but she will open her mouth wide and make a kind of panting/rapid breathing noise that tells you she's excited about something.

Last night I noticed that her face was changing even more. When she was born, she had a deep crease right above her nose - maybe a result of her face being smushed during delivery. The crease is almost gone now. It is all but a faint memory of how she looked when she came home to us from the hospital. Her eyelashes have grown in now, and are getting longer and fuller.

Sugar Cookie is a beautiful, delightful baby. I can't imagine what my life would be like if she weren't in it. I look forward to holding her when I get home from work. Sometimes I even like feeding her during the wee hours of the morning when she is half-asleep, warm, and cuddly. I often whisper to her that I love her, and most of the time I have to hold back the tears. How can you love someone so much who isn't even your child (legally)? I am terrified of what I would experience emotionally if she were to leave. We have still heard nothing from anyone - no calls or emails - nothing regarding Sugar Cookie or the biologicals.

I love to watch Michael with her. She fits so nicely snuggled into the curve of his arm while stretched out across his tummy. She never looks so at peace as when she is lying in that position. In fact, Michael usually looks very much at peace then, too. The two of them have this little "kissing" routine they do. He lifts her up to his face and kisses her nose, and then he holds her up a bit higher so she can "kiss" his nose too - only she ends up kind of sucking/gnawing on it with much delight. It always makes me giggle because it's funny and beautiful at the same time.

Sugar Cookie hasn't gone into daycare yet. Instead, she's been going to the office with Daddy Michael and then to class with him when he teaches. I imagine she's been learning more about theories of human communication than any other one-month old ever. She might even be learning more than his students have been. But sometime near the end of February she'll start going to daycare at a very nice place we feel good about. In fact, we are waiting longer so that we can enroll her there instead of other places that are closer or have immediate openings. In the meantime, we seem to have a pretty decent schedule worked out with Michael being her primary caregiver during the daylight hours and me taking over in the evenings and during most of the night. Lately, when she gets fussy right at 4 am, I call Michael back into action so I can eek out the last 2 precious hours of sleep before getting ready for work. He has yet to complain about it.

So far, Sugar Cookie only sleeps about 2 to 3 hours at a time at night. She is usually pretty calm until around 10 - then fussy until midnight. At that point, she will drain a bottle, poop and pee, and pass out until about 3. At that point, she will eat and sleep a bit more until 4 or 5 - and if we are really, really lucky she will sleep until the alarm goes off at 6. But when the alarm goes off - she is A-wake (with a capital A). I had better get her food NOW or she will let me know that she does NOT appreciate the delay in the coming of the bottle. Holy cow, the girl has good lungs. She can holler! But thankfully most of the time, she's easy to appease. When I left for work this morning at 7:30, Michael was fast asleep on the sofa downstairs and Sugar Cookie was fast asleep in her carrier next to the sofa. He had taken her downstairs at 4:30 this morning so I could get more sleep. I have no idea how long he was up with her so I let them sleep.

My primary complaint of the day is that I have somehow hurt my back - really, really hurt my back. This is not your run-of-the-mill backache. This is war. A few years ago I hurt my back by riding a stationary bike too vigorously in an attempt to loose weight. I ended up falling in the shower not because I slipped, but because my back gave out when my sciatic nerve was smashed between vertebrae. I had to roll myself down the hallway to teach in my rolly office chair and students would then roll me back down the hallway afterwards. My then-husband would pick me up from work and carry me into the car and back out again once we were home. This went on for weeks, and thanks to Celebrex and rest, I healed. Unfortuantely, I'm feeling it again. I don't know if it's the same thing, but it feels that way. If it doesn't get better over the weekend, I'm going to have to go to the doctor. Of course, if I lost some of this extra weight I'm carrying around, my back would probably feel better too - but then I'd be hungry! :)

Dear Lord, thank you for making Fridays, and for creating weekends so we could sleep.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


Tonight at 7pm I'm going to audition for The Vagina Monologues. I've read the book many times, I've taught from it when I teach Gender and Sexuality, and I've seen the Eve Ensler HBO special. Still, it will be very cool just to have the opportunity to read from the monologues.

Despite my experience in the theatre, I doubt I will be considered.

Still, I will get to say "vagina" a whole lot, and there is something wonderful about getting to say "vagina" from on stage.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Happy 1 Month Birthday, Sugar Cookie!

Our Sugar Cookie is 4 weeks old today. To celebrate, we took her to Wal-Mart last night to have her picture taken at the schloky "portrait studio" there where you can get gobs of pictures for $8 as long as you sit through them telling you about all the packages you can buy in addition to your "ad package". We did not cave in.

Proping a tiny baby up for getting her picure taken is a chaotic riot. First, Michael had to sit off to the side with his hand up under the rug-thingy and hold her upright. Then, she started crying. I gave her part of a bottle, then re-propped her up. She again started to cry, and then pooped. I took her to the bathroom to change her, and it was nasty (the bathroom, not her). Thank God I had packed some of those disposable changing pads in the diaper bag, because my baby was not going to touch an inch of that nasty fold-down changing table they had in the women's bathroom.

We managed to get a couple of cute poses out of the whole ordeal, and all in all I'm glad we went. Even though she isn't ours, we want to capture these milestones in case one day it becomes official.

The pictures will be back in 3 weeks - just in time for me to make the appointment for her 2-month picture-taking appointment.

I know it's cliche, but she gets cuter every day. She hasn't lost any hair - it's even getting thicker and darker brown. Her face and cheeks are filling out, and her little arms and legs are looking chubbier. She makes happy faces all the time - even though I know it's just a "feel good" reflex at this point, it still feels great. She makes delightful happy sounds when she is feasting on a bottle. She snores happy little snores when she is deep asleep. She loves to sleep on top of us as we lay in bed watching TV.

So far Sugar Cookie has had 4 baths. Her first bath was a sponge bath in her tub, and she was okay with the whole thing, but looked worried. Her second and third baths were a bit traumatic and she cried and cried. Her fourth bath was ultimately a big success. I think she was particularly happy because she had just expelled both a tremendously stinky poop which she then followed up with a hosing of spit-up which covered my shirt and soaked through my bra. I stripped down to my skivies and then stripped her down and gave her an impromptu bath on the spot because the baby-stink was pretty foul by that point and she was covered with poop and spit residue. I filled her tub with warm water and laid her in the little hammock insert. She then put one chubby leg on either side of the tub hammock and relaxed out spread-eagle in the bath. I soaped her up with lavender baby wash and she stuck her tiny fist in the bubbles and then into her mouth. Despite making a face, she kept on sucking her soapy fist. She was wide-eyed the entire time, and kicked her feet in the water. Even as I washed her hair, she relaxed and enjoyed the bath. It was only after I extracted her from the tub that she hollered. As soon as she was warm again and wrapped in a fluffy towel she calmed down. On the changing table, I gave her a "spa treatment" with warm baby oil on her legs, arms, and tummy. I powdered her bum and then diapered and dressed her in a fuzzy footed sleeper. I then took her downstairs to daddy Michael who enjoyed holding and kissing his sweet smelling Sugar Cookie. That one moment was worth at least a couple sleepless nights.

Speaking of sleep - OH MA GAWD am I exhausted. Cookie sleeps a couple of hours at a time, and likes to change up when she will have her fussy times. Sometimes, Michael takes her downstairs and sits with her on the sofa while he watches TV so that I can get some sleep. Other times, it's me who is up with her at midnight and 3 am when she decides she's ravenous and then poops and is wide awake and wants to interact with you. Now, I love our interaction time, but at 3 am I am not the vision of perkiness like Cookie often is. I swear, she wakes up ready to go. I think she secretly knows how funny this all is, and relishes that fact. I'd feel worse about our poor lost sex life if it weren't for the fact that if given the choice, I'd choose sleep most of the time now. Sleep is highly under-rated.

Sugar Cookie had her first pediatric appointment a week ago. I was going to just let Michael take her while I stayed at work, but a feeling came over me that said this: "If one day you end up adopting her, you're gonna kick yourself in the ass if you don't go to her first pediatric visit." I did not want to choose this sucky job over Sugar Cookie, so I took TDL from work and went. I have no regrets. I had to strip her down so they could weigh and measure her, and she didn't even cry. She had been discharged from the hospital at 7 lbs. 1 oz. She now weighed 8 lbs. 4 oz. I was so proud of us. I think there is nothing that prayer, love, and yummy bottles can't cure.

We have heard absolutely nothing about Sugar Cookie's future. We figure that if the biological parents had any contact, we would be notified immediately because there would have to be a meeting and visitation set up. To date there have been no phone calls. Our social worker visited our new house on Jan. 9th and said that if there was no contact in 90 days that abandonment charges would be filed. While that all sounds fast, I'm told by others not to expect things to roll along that quickly no matter how "simple" it all seems.

I've come to the conclusion that in this case I just have to treat her like my daughter. If that ever changes, I'll have to rely on God to pull me through it. I don't know how we would ever give her up. She feels very much ours. Both of our lives have changed so much, and our schedules revolve around her needs. She's an incredible blessing and an incredible amount of work. But I think I can speak for my husband as well when I say we are in love with her and hope she will one day become ours forever. Until then, we will keep trying to enjoy every day and live it deliberately.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Reader Participation Request

Hi everyone! I'm teaching a class this semester called "Studies in Persuasion". I was wondering if you would help me out by posting responses - or by writing your own blog posts in respose to a few questions. Id like to have some fresh examples to use in my teaching (sometimes my old examples bore me even though my students may have never heard them before). Okay - here 'tis:

When was the last time you were persuased?

What were you persuaded about?

How would you say you were persuaded?

What would you say is the biggest/most important thing you have ever been persuaded about?

What types of persuasion are most likely to be effective on you? (guilt trips, nagging, direct request, begging, pre-giving, etc.)

What method of interpersonal persuasion do you use most often in your everyday life?

Is lying and/or deception ever okay? How so?

What individuals in your life have the most persuasive power to influence you? Why?

If you were a researcher and wanted to study something about persuasion, what would you study?

Okay - I suppose that's enough questions for now. Any and all thoughts about persuasion would be great. This is a new class prep for me, so I'm trying to get as creative as possible. I consider myself to be a pretty decent professor, but I'm always trying to find ways of improving my teaching.

I have 14 students in my class, and I think that's about perfect.

Monday, January 09, 2006

A New House for Us and Cookie

Yes, Sugar Cookie is still here! And, yes, we are now in our new house.

Wow, what a whirlwind.

First, my apologies for not posting sooner. I've tried to catch my breath wherever and whenever I can, and I've wanted to write for some time now. It just seems like whenever I do get a free moment, all my body wants to do is catch a few minutes of precious sleep. Even when I am awake, it seems like I'm too loopy to make sense of much of anything.

Cookie's doing really well now. Our first few days with her were a struggle for her and for us. She experienced some withdrawl from the cocaine in her tiny body, but we held her and massaged her and sang to her. On Christmas morning we took her to church and folks could tell we hadn't slept much. We were worried about Sugar Cookie as she hadn't eaten or slept hardly at all in 24 hours. We were about to call the doctor the next morning. But folks at church asked if after the service they could pray for the baby. Our friend John gathered folks around and he got down on his knees and knelt over the baby in her carrier and placed his hand on her tiny head and prayed for healing. Big fat tears streamed down my face as people took turns praying over her. I would have offered my own out loud, but I couldn't speak. I had been so afraid for her, and giving her over to God completely seemed to be the best solution. On the way home in the car, she slept. After we got home, she slept some more. Hours passsed, and then she woke up starving. No shaking, no screaming - just fussiness that a bottle and a cuddle quickly solved. Then, she was back to sleep. Since then, she's been a completely changed baby. She wants fed, changed, and cuddled - but other than that, she's good to go. She sleeps well, and eats well - no more shaking, no more screaming endlessly, no more periods of not eating. Sugar Cookie is a true miracle. As far as we can tell, she is absolutely perfect. And she gets cuter every day!

She was discharged from the hospital on December 22nd, and weighed 7 lbs. 1 ounce. When I took her to the WIC office last Thursday to get her formula, she weighed 8 lbs, 3 ounces. Hurray for weight gain!

We've watched as her color changed from a splotchy pink to a peachy beige. Her eyelashes have grown in, and her face has filled out. Her umbilical cord stump has fallen off, and she's gotten her first few baths - the first one freaked her out a bit, and the second one made her cry - here's hoping that gets better as she gets used to it. She still has peach-fuzz all over her back and arms. Her hair is thick and dark brown, and shiny and silky. Her eyes are dark blue and she is now focusing more during her awake hours. She loves to gaze into your eyes when you hold her, and she makes happy faces and reflex smiles that make you melt. We can't stop kissing her cheeks and the top of her head, or her tiny hands and feet. I rub her tummy when she gets changed and dressed, and while I'm changing her, I sing the "Naked Song" that I made up - about the joy of being naked (note to self: do not sign the "Naked Song" in public).

Last Tuesday the first "Family Team Meeting" was scheduled at the cabinet office. Michael took Sugar Cookie, and all the workers showed up. Everyone showed up except the biological parents. Apparently the biological parents have made no attempts to contact the state - even though the state has left messages and gone to the house. The biological parents would not answer the door. The case will be brought before a judge next month to determine the next course of action. If the bioliogical parents make no contact, the petition will be put in to move Sugar Cookie to a pre-adoptive track. Now, before you jump up and down with joy - let me tell you about a potential roadblock. Sugar Cookie has two siblings - a boy and a girl ages 4 and 6. They were adopted by their foster parents about a year ago. No one knows if this family would want Sugar Cookie. Apparently, the bias is with them to adopt her since there is a bias toward keeping siblings together. But in this case, no one thinks the family even knows that another child was born to these people. So, an attempt will be made to contact that family to let them know about Sugar Cookie. Our worker seems to think that the family cannot take another child. I'm hoping that we will be able to convince people that if we were to adopt Sugar Cookie, that we would make sure she got to know her siblings. We would work with the adoptive family to maintain contact and hopefully build a good relationship. I think that would be the right thing to do. But my idea of right isn't always how things work out.

Chances the biological family will get her back: slim to none. The bioliogical mother is addicted to cocaine, the biological father has been conviced of sodomy of a minor family member and is a registered sex offender in his previous county (I looked him up). Interestingly enough, he is not registered in our county as an offender. I would never have guessed (*insert sarcastic eye-roll here*). Their two older children were already adopted out because they did not follow their case plan in their previous county. The workers believe it will be the same thing here - that people are creatures of habit. But who knows, really. It is a horrible, horrible case. I googled the news reports to see the details of previous arrests. It made me physically ill.

Now we wait. Every time the phone rings and I see that it is the cabinet office, my heart stops. I fear it's a call telling us that Sugar Cookie is going elsewhere. I don't think that will ever change until she were to legally be ours for good. We are so in love with her. My feelings for her are so different than those I've had for any other child before. She was my Christmas miracle. She now has her own room in our new house. We haven't held back at all. We are treating her like she is ours. If the day comes that she is not, we will deal with that then. Now, we are a family - Michael and I and Sugar Cookie, and the two cats - Callie and Macy Gray. And we have a beautiful new home to live in.

The movers came on Friday and got the furniture over to the new house. Now, the crib is in our bedroom - that seems to make a lot more sense than going down the hallway every time she wakes up and needs to be fed. The place is littered with boxes galore, and I was doing well to find an outfit to wear to work today. The important things are in place - our bed, the crib, baby clothes, diapers, cat food and water, litter box, and stocked fridge. Most of our clothes have been put away and the living room is starting to take shape. If you can navigate the boxes, it's actually pretty livable. Our commute to campus in the mornings has only increased by about 10 minutes, and for Lexington that's not too bad.

We really have been blessed.

Our worker is coming to visit today to see the new house and write up her observations in our home study (I hope she likes the liquor-store-box decor we have going on now). Sugar Cookie's new permanent case worker might be coming too. If so, that would save us another home visit this month.

We made a scheduling error, and the folks are coming to set up our digital cable and internet (and DVR!!) at the exact same time our worker is supposed to be there. Perhaps we could invite some more folks over to observe the chaos that is now our house.

Sugar Cookie has her first visit to the pediatrician tomorrow. Her birth mom had Hepatitis B and C, so Sugar Cookie will have needs in that area as well. I'm sure the doctors will be pleased with her progress.

For now, it is back to work for me. Michael will be taking Sugar Cookie to the office with him for several hours a few times a week for the next three weeks. After that, we will be able to enroll her in day care. Ugh, my heart stops when I think about leaving her with strangers. A young woman from our church works at the day care we have selected, so there is some comfort in knowing that C. will look out for her and give her lots of love and cuddling.

I don't want to be at work today, but whatever baby becomes ours will need to go to grad school someday (*grin*), so I need every dollar I can make now!

Now, if I could just focus...