baby development

Friday, April 28, 2006

Sugar Cookie's Status

Well, friends - some of you have asked how Cookie is doing and what the status is. And, honestly, we don't have much more to add.

May 15th is the deadline for the 161 paperwork to be filed with the court to start TPR and request a court date for that. We expect the date may be sometime in July depending on how bad the backup is in family court this month.

No word on Biomom's inpatient status for drug use - she apparently did test positive according to her probation officer. In order to avoid jail, she was ordered to inpatient. We have no idea if she ever went, or if she just went AWOL. This helps the argument for TPR. Biodad will be in jail for at least 9 yrs. No more family members have come forward.

R. (Cookie's worker) came to visit last night, and all seems to be going as planned. She did share a copy of the huge case plan, complete with every family member's entire name, age, and address, and exactly what Biomom was ordered to do, and how the goal was changed to adoption. Bioparents ages are worse than we originally thought - Biomom is 22 and Biodad is 46. That is not a typo. They have been together 10 years. That is not a typo either. You do the math. She has heard nothing from the probation officer, but will check in next week to get an update on Biomom.

We haven't had to do a visit since February when Biomom couldn't come to court because she "was sick", and the SW cancelled her visit, saying if she was too sick to come to court then she was too sick to risk infecting her child. After that, the probabation officer got suspicious and - viola - they were right to be.

Cookie is our joy - so beautiful we can't stop looking at her. She grins all the time, and is just starting to giggle. Her eyes are still bright, deep blue. There is a big patch of missing hair on the back of her head where her baby-hair has been rubbed off - and reddish-blonde hair is growing in where it used to be almost black. She rolls over now all the time, though she can't seem to get back onto her back once she's on her tummy. She is working on trying to figure out how to crawl, but can't seem to do anything except "scoot" a few inches before she gets frustrated. She "talks" a whole lot - ga, goooo, bwoooo - and enjoys making raspberries that are very "juicy" and loud. Raspberry-making is a very joyful thing. She has started trying a tiny bit of rice cereal, though she is not too keen on the spoon or the cereal - but in a warm bottle at night it seems to be pretty tasty to her.

Cookie loves watching basketball on TV, and is now glued to the NBA playoffs. If she is sitting on your lap and the game is on and you move so she can't see the TV, she fusses. Once you re-orient her toward the TV, she is mesmorized. Our little couch potato. Michael says she is going to be a power forward and play for Stanford. Recently, he took her to "Hoopla" here at UK and she got to meet coach Mickie DeMoss - the coach of the UK women's basketball team. Cookie also got to meet the players - they all had to hold her and pass her around - and one player even kissed her! Another player reprimanded her saying, "Man, you just can't go around kissin' people's babies! They don't know you!" Michael thought it was cute though, and Cookie loved being just as popular as the players themselves.

In 3 hours we are going to the pediatrician with her for her 4-month old series of shots. At her 2-month appointment, when she got her shots she cried so hard her little head looked like a tomato. The good news from that visit that I may not have posted is that she tested NEGATIVE for Hepatitis C (Biomom has both B & C - ugh). Cookie had about a 5% chance of contracting Hep C from Biomom, and thanks be to God - she did not! We were so relieved.

I will have to post an update letting you all know how much she weighs, how long she is, and how the dreaded shots went.

Our next visit with R. will be May 16th - the day after she submits the 161 paperwork. She will give us a copy as well, and we will talk about where we go from here.

Life's tremendously good.

Oh, as for names...yes, at adoption you are free and clear to re-name the child, and since Cookie is so young, we figure we will do just that. So - here's what we are thinking:

Mia Elizabeth
Jordan Elizabeth
Deborah Ruth

Of course - your votes and nominations are welcome as we play around with options!

A Buddy Finally Gets Matched!

Hey ya'll - go see Gawdessness at Building the Bigger Family and holla at her. They've been matched after waiting far too long!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

6 More Odd Things About Me

How did I get so fortunate as to get tagged AGAIN with the SAME THING??? Oh well, at least I'm odd enough to think of 6 more things. :)

1. Three of my ex-boyfriends ended up being gay. Thankfully, I had a lot of boyfriends. I am also grateful they ended up being EX-boyfriends eventually.

2. I have always had at least one cat.

3. I once got so drunk in college that I ended up making up an entire song that contained just one word over and over and over again. I then sang the song with my head hanging out the window of my friend's car while riding down University Avenue in Gainesville, FL. The one word: penis.

4. I shop at Goodwill, yard sales, and ebay even though I have enough money to buy new things.

5. I still "talk" to my grandmother who passed away 4 years ago.

6. I never call my foster-daughter by her given name. I only call her "Cookie", "Biscuit Head", or "Gabigaboo"... and occasionally "Stinky" when she poops. When people refer to her by her given name (i.e. at daycare or at church), I have to do a double-take like "who is that?". I also grin when people ask her name because I always want to say "We don't know yet." We are taking nominations in case...i mean WHEN the adoption goes through.

Friday, April 21, 2006

The Boppy Pillow

Oh Lord, why didn't I discover this gem earlier? I thought it seemed too pricey. I thought is was unnecessary. But then we'd pick up Cookie from daycare and there she would be - lying on a Boppy pillow just as happy as can be. She was a diva perched on her Boppy throne.
I gave in. I bought a Bare Naked Boppy (the name sounds.....ahem, a bit suggestive if you ask me - hehe - like an adult bedroom game) and a Luxe Boppy cover in blue on one side/green on the other. It was $20 for the Boppy and $15 for the cover at Target (dang, I dig that store).
Oh sweet mercy, it is a find. She loves practicing sitting up by herself and lounging in it, sometimes getting so relaxed she falls asleep on it.

Anyone else have any great "finds"?

Surveying All Bottle-Feeding Moms and Dads!

Ok ya'll - fess up! Inquiring minds want to know:

How long do you (or are you willing to) leave a bottle of formula sitting out?
Do you do like me and take a fresh bottle or two and set them on the nightstand for middle of the night feedings?
Or, are you a super-healthy parent and follow the instructions on the back of the formula can and faithfully not let it set out for more than one or two hours?


Do you heat or warm your baby's bottles?
Or do you do like me and give 'em to your baby at room temperature?
And do you sometimes do like me and give 'em to your baby straight from the fridge when you just can't stand one more minute of crying?

I think the only "rules" I follow are:
Not leaving warmed bottles sit out longer than an hour - and
Not preparing more than 48 hours worth of bottles at a time - and
Sterilizing bottles and nipples when they are bought and putting them through the dishwaher and using heated drying cycle every time I wash them

So - what do you do about bottle-feeding?

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Sleep, Dang It!

Sometimes our moments with our kids aren't the warm-fuzzy ones of fairy tales. Sometimes they are pedantic, tough-love, life lessons. I am learning about those.

Sugar Cookie is 4 calendar months old today (17 weeks, 2 days).

She is still not sleeping through the night, and while this is not completely atypical, it isn't something I care to have continue ad nauseum. I also fear we contribute to the problem by picking her up in the night when she cries.

Her crib is in our master bedroom on the wall facing my side of the bed. This worked very well for us when she was tiny and woke up to eat every couple of hours. It also helped on those nights when she couldn't sleep and laying on Michael's tummy was the only way we could get her quiet.

Last night I made a few mistakes:

Cookie was obviously drowsy on my lap sometime between 8 and 9, but instead of taking her upstairs and putting her in the crib, I let her rest with me while I watched the American Idol results show. By the time it was over and I was ready to take her upstairs, she was getting agitated because she was so tired. But by then the rocking chair didn't work, and a bottle didn't work. Michael tried to take her from me because she was crying, and I snapped at him telling him to stop treating me like I can't take care of her when she cries (he often takes her from me when she starts crying because he knows she will often stop with a "change of venue"). I took her upstairs, changed her while simultaneously fighting with her to get her to lie on her back and not roll over so I could get a diaper on her. This was the most challenging it had ever been. She just whimpered and whined, and arched her back and rolled onto her side and flailed her arms and legs. I was exhausted and completely out of patience. So, I got a dipaer on her, scooped her up and grabbed her pyjamas out of the drawer, and took her into the bedroom where I quickly and firmly dressed her without talking to her, took her over to the crib, laid her on her back, and closed myself in the bathroom. I took my nighttime pills, and some Tylenol PM as now my head was pounding, brushed my teeth, and got into my pyjamas. Cookie fussed the whole time, but by the time I emerged from the bathroom she had turned over onto her tummy as usual and had fallen fast asleep and was snoring. I didn't feel guilty. I felt exhausted. I fell asleep almost immediately. I don't remember Michael coming to bed.

At 2 am, Cookie woke up and I stayed in bed until she was actually crying loudly enough to know she was not going back to sleep anytime soon. I held her to make sure she didn't just want to be comforted, and she started to holler. I went over to the bed, grabbed a bottle from the nightstand (yes, it stays out all night - no, i don't want to hear about bacteria this and bacteria that) and she gupled it down in minutes and fell right back asleep after a big burp. I laid her back in the crib, shook Michael and told him to go downstairs and get another bottle for later, and fell back asleep. She didn't smell dirty, so I didn't change her.

At 4:30 she was up again, and this time I aked Michael to take her. I suppose he did, because I fell right back asleep and the alarm went off at 7 and there she was sleeping peacefully between the two of us in bed. But bottle #2 looked like she had only had about 2 oz., so clearly this second nightly wake-up isn't because of hunger.

But I am still so tired this morning.

I read that at 4 months she should be sleeping for 7 hours straight at night. That just isn't happening. The above scenario is what is typical.

I'm considering moving the crib out of our bedroom and into the nursery.

I'm considering letting her "cry it out". Ugh.

But she seems genuinely ravenous when she wakes up that first time. I feel like if she is just gulping the bottle, then it means I should keep feeding her then.

We are going to start on rice cereal this weekend, and try giving it to her in the evenings. We won't be putting it in a bottle, because that won't teach her to eat from a spoon, and can lead to over-feeding. We certainly don't want to contribute to childhood obesity. But we need to do something.

My mom says she has us conditioned. She says was need to quit getting up with her at night and letting her cry more.

I just know I'm hitting a wall here. She's a beautiful, wonderful baby. She's probably downright normal. She also knows that if she cries in the night she gets cuddled and gets a yummy bottle. If I knew that whenever I cried I got food and lovin', I'd be cryin' my fool head off all the flippin' time.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Sugar Cookie's Latest "Skill"

…is reaching out to grab something.

Last night Michael drove through Dairy Queen (because we are sooo skinny and needed it) and got 2 small Oreo Blizzards for us.

We sat in the livingroom to eat them and watch the evening news while dinner was in the oven (because eating ice cream and then Lasagna is pretty heavenly).

I had Cookie on my left leg with my arm around her while I ate right-handed and watched TV.

Well, after about 30 seconds of this, she reached out and tried to snatch my Blizzard! Chubby little fingers grabbed the rim of the cup. She wanted it BAD, and started rapid-breathing and getting all excited/frustrated. She kept on with this – fussing and trying to grab it. No toy would substitute - not her pacifier, red soft rattle, or stuffed dinosaur that she also likes to "eat".

I tried to tell her “Don’t do like mommy and daddy. Blizzards are BAD for you. Don’t ever start – it’s like smoking. Blizzards will kill you.”

But she did not care. She wanted a Blizzard.

She did not get to taste a Blizzard...yet. It's coming folks. The road to hell is paved with Blizzards.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Starting the Lifebook

Well, we have many, many pictures of Sugar Cookie, but no lifebook started. Frankly, that worries me. I'm a big fat procrastinator. I have all these Creative Memories supplies and all these pictures, but no plan. I have this blog, but no real stories written. So, I think I'm going to try to write at least one post a week that is for Sugar Cookie's lifebook. If it inspires someone else to do something with theirs, that's fabulous. If you'd prefer to just skip over those posts, that's fine too. Some things may be quite personal, and I'll try to keep names out of things as much as possible. But I really need to do this, and since I love to blog, and especially love feedback, I'll start posting lifebook writings here.

So, first entry coming soon...

Oh, and since Pyjama Mama inspired me - here's an old pic of Sugar Cookie with us when we got our eyes examined at Lenscrafters. I figured if mommy and daddy had to look weird after their dialations, she should too. So, it's the perfect "incognito" picture...

Cookie's First Easter

Well, I'm please to report that Easter Sunday was a day not unlike lots of Sundays around our house.

My parents had sent a cute sundress with pink polkadots for Cookie. It wasn't an "Easter dress" per se, and it did not have the lace and tule and all that. But it was very cute, and so that was her dress - and it matched the pink dress I wore as well (though mine, fortunately, did not have polkadots). Cookie doesn't like hats, and she kept kicking off her shoes, so the dress and socks were all she managed to keep on.

Before we left, we took pictures out in front of the house. As I was about to take pictures of Michael with Cookie, a nice neighbor jogged by and asked if we would like her to take a picture of all three of us. That was such a nice offer, and the pictures turned out really nice.

Cookie made it through service without much fuss, though she did get excited at various points during the sermon and uttered several happy syllables which I believe directly translate as "Amen!". She was ooohed and aaaahed at, and we talked with friends about the progress toward TPR, and everyone was happy to hear that everything is going smoothly in that direction.

We drove into an adjoining county for an Easter buffet at a small place called Ward's Landing. We feasted on shrimp cocktail, potatoe salad, green salad, ham, turkery, mashed potatoes, glazed carrots, broccoli casserole, yeast rolls - and cherry cheesecake. Cookie feasted on a bottle and looked at our plates with a look on her face that said, "Next year, THAT'S what I'm eating!"

We drove home and Cookie and I took a long nap in bed together while Michael worked on a grant proposal that is due today at noon. It was nice for us both to have the break we needed, and for me to get some well-deserved rest.

The only thing I ate for dinner was vanilla ice cream with chocolate syrup and lots of whipped cream. Now THAT'S what I call a holiday.

Friday, April 14, 2006

And I Thought It Took A Lot To Offend Me...

Check out this story that appeared in The Onion:

That isn't funny. It isn't even close to funny.

I am speechless. I am without speech.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

6 Odd Things - My Response to Being Tagged

Only because Pyjama Mama tagged me would I reveal this kind of "information" *girn*.

1. My boobs are a 42DDD. Yup - tripple D baby. When I was in middle school, this punk a** kid named Todd (I still remember you, punk) used to tease me and call me "Little Titty Tammy". Guess we know who won, huh ya punk?

2. I am in an interracial marriage. I know that's not that odd, but a white woman married to a black man still constitutes only about 1 out of every 100 marriages in the US today.

3. I left high school at the age of 15 - because I was finished, not because I dropped out. I got my BA degree at the age of 20 (in 1991).

4. I have performed on stage at the Springer Opera House (the state theatre of Georgia).

5. I pick at my cuticles so badly that it wears grooves in my fingernails (guess that's better than smoking since horrible fingernails won't give me cancer). Its my nervous habit.

6. I did not pierce my ears until I was 21. My parents forbid it, saying that "if God had meant for there to be holes in your ears, He would have put them there". The day I was officially free of their financial stronghold, I went to the mall and did the deed. Mom resents that to this day.

Who am I tagging?? Megan, Cindy, Julie, Meegan, Jeremy, Sunshine - aw heck, anyone reading this!

Congratulations Jane & Lew

Congratulations to these guys in the adoption finalization of Toots & Noodles! It is always a great celebration when a family is a family for eternity.

God Bless you all.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Could My Cookie Be Teething Already?

Oh dear. Wyldjoker, you may be right - Sugar Cookie may be teething. I looked into the signs. Ya'll please read and advise me. I've never had birth children, or a foster child who was teething, so I need your HELP. Here goes:

Our Cookie had an ear infection in one ear 2 weeks ago, and she took a round of antibiotics and got much better...until this weekend when she was Ms. Cranky Cookie. She went from periods of absolute delight to periods of severe crying spells for no aparent reason, which is very unlike her. She could be "dancing" on your lap one minute and suddenly shreek and scream and act like she was in pain. Here's some signs it may indeed be teething pain:

She started batting at her ears - both of them. She did this a little before when she had a virus, but not when she had the ear infection. With the ear infection, she was just plain lethargic and had a high fever and cold symptoms. Now, she just seems like she's very uncomfortable/in pain and batts at both of her ears, and pulls on them if she can wrap her little fingers around one. She even scratched her face near her ear a few days ago. Come to think of it, she may be rubbing her cheeks more than usual too.

She's been waking up in the night more than just her usual once-a-night bottle. Often, when she wakes she will not take a bottle and just wants to cry as if in pain.

She's been drooling more - not a fountain, but not insignificant either. I have found myself blotting her face more and more lately.

She has periods where she feels quite warm, but then they go away - only to come back a few hours later, even without medication.

She has had a mild diaper rash that seems impervious to the A&D ointment that always has worked in the past. Day care workers asked us to check into whether she has a yeast infection from the antibiotics. Lovely. If it ain't one thing, its another.

Along with the diaper rash has been pretty loose stools - well, looser than "normal", though baby poop is still astonishing in its color and texture varieties and continues to amaze me.

The crying isn't gas-related. Mylicon gas drops don't help. If it was gas, the drops would work like a charm and she'd then fart up a storm. We tried that - no luck.

She is chewing on everything she can get into her mouth. I thought this was just normal baby behavior, but it may be a sign of teething, I suppose. When she sits in her walker, she puts her head down and chews vigorously on the ridge of fabric in front of her that forms the seat she's in. I bought her a red rattle that is a soft material, and she drenches the handle with saliva from chewing on it while sitting in her walker. Teething rings are a bit large yet for her tiny hands and mouth, and she is still new to grasping objects and inserting them into her nouth. She can do it, but her proficiency level could use some improvement. She seems to be very happy when she is slobbering and chewing on something.

She's started chewing on her index and middle fingers, or her entire fist if she can manage it.

Iv'e tried rubbing her gums with my finger. I don't get it - I just feel wet baby gums, and she just gets mad from my finger inserted into her mouth uninvited. I don't see or feel anything like a tooth, and nothing looks more red or pink than usual.

I guess I could try the Baby Orajel, but most websites advise against it because it can numb the gag reflex, and there is little evidence as to its safety (though how could thousands of parents and children using this over time all be wrong?). They have new swabs that you can use to numb the gums without the dangers of baby ingesting too much gum-numbing agent. We'll see.

So, have any of you had kids who were teething? How early did they start? Cookie was born Dec. 20th, 2005, so today she is exactly 16 weeks old. Is this too early to attribute her symptoms to teething? I don't wanna be the "rush to UK Pediatrics for every little thing" mom, but hey, I love my Sugar Cookie.

Anyone have any brilliant symptom-relief ideas from experience or family/friends I can try? Her little screaming/crying (WITH tears - oh how that breaks my new-mommy heart) fits are tough to get through.

Can a baby teethe for a long time? Can it come and go? Ugh. So many questions, and websites seems to have such different answers. I think this one is the time to rely on experienced friends more than wack websites.

So, friends - any teething info? Bring it on!

Monday, April 10, 2006

Learning About Love

There have been moments in my life where I've stated before that "I never really knew what love was all about until..."

Actually, the Manhattan Transfer song "Until I Met You" explains a lot:

I used to be so fancy free, but really lonesome as can be
Then one lucky day you came my way
I never really knew what love was all about until I met you...

Well I dropped my heart now and bent it
Said a few sincere words
Never dreamin' that I meant it
To tell you the truth, I never,ever really meant to begin it
How can you explain true love?
How can I disdain true love?
Love is real exciting it's so exciting
That when it turned me around I didn't feel like fighting
It wouldn't a caught me
Except when I saw you I was surer than sure
This really couldn't be
But whaddaya know
It really was so!
I'm ready for settlin' right down
No more runnin' around
And that's the truth, really the truth,
Really ain't puttin' on no act, really a fact.
Really this ain't no time f'jivin'
'Cause what I'm tellin' y' really comes right from this heart of mine
An' lemme tell ya there's an awful lot a sacrifice to lay it on the line

What's this thing people call love
Something nobody has too much of
This game all misunderstand, but play it
One thing's sure; Love's what I'm in
Unloose cupid's bow, let it begin
That's it! Let that madness start!
There goes my heart!

It's got me stumblin', it's got me mumblin'
I'm like a ship without a rudder, a car without wheels
Unless ya feel it, I can't reveal it
Ya gotta have it happen to ya to know how it feels
One thing's sure; Love has got me
I'm as certain as certain can be
I'm yours 'til eternity
From the day that we met
When you showed on the set
I remember it yet
I was knocked out
I took one look at you
And what else could I do
Love walked in and I knew
There was no doubt
No, no doubt
I love you, yes, I sure do, yes, I love you
Yes, you know it
I know that you knew from the start

It is amazing how we've put our hearts on the line - but then again, it really isn't that astonishing. I've been growing up - realizing the many ways in which "this isn't all about ME", healing from the past, appreciating the present, and welcoming the future with open arms.

While Michael was away this weekend enjoying himself at his conference in Dallas, my girlfriend Megan drove up for a break for herself and to help me out around the house. Sugar Cookie had her good times this weekend, and her (ahem) "challenging" times of crying and fussing. One night, she cried for a solid half-hour (I realize how pitifully short a time period this is if you are a parent who deals with a colicky baby) until she collapsed asleep in my arms in bed.

What is astonishing about that scenario is that I have no patience. None. Patience is not one of my spiritual gifts. And I am selfish. And I get headaches. But I calmly went about brushing my teeth, putting laundry in the dryer and a new load into the wash, taking my pills, changing into pyjamas - all while Sugar Cookie "cried it out" in her crib after my numerous failed attempts to hold her and comfort her. When I picked her up and carried her to bed, her tiny face was soaked with tears, and I still held her to me as she flailed her tiny (albeit powerful) limbs into my chest and stomach. Still, I petted her head and whispered to her "I love you". As she calmed down, I drifted off to sleep and wondered how I was able to manage.

I managed because I know that I'm it. I'm all she had (well, and Auntie Megan). And I guess I understand crying. I've done it a lot in my short life. There are also many times that no amount of comforting or holding helps, and I've just needed to "cry it out". Now, I don't believe a 4-month old has much capacity for self-soothing, and I perfer the holding method over the "let her cry" method. But this was one time where I fully understood that I was not a bad mother for not being able to stop her crying. I am still not sure why she had such bad moments this weekend.

I do know, however, that when "Daddy" came home last night, all was well with Sugar Cookie's world again. She had not slept well all weekend, but last night she slept between us in bed and woke up at 3:00 to eat and 6:30 to poop. And by the time I left the house at 8:30, both Daddy and baby were fast asleep - the smaller on top of the larger's chest - and both were snoring.

I felt a lot of love for both of them in that moment. I wished I could have crawled back in bed and joined them, but they needed that time to re-connect. It must have been very comforting for her to have her "pillow" back. And it must have been comforting to him to be back into the routine.

I suppose I'm just now learning what love is. I think I'm one of the lucky ones who gets to learn more about it the not-so-easy way.


In completey unrelated news, I had my first lazer hair removal treatment today - chin, upper lip, sideburns, and unibrow. Cost - $300. Not having a mustache and goatee - priceless.

It hurt like being stung by a bee 50 times on your face. OMG. I came in to work looking like I had a rare skin disorder.

They first wiped off my face and used a numbing gel. Then they put goggles on me and zapped my face with the laser. Every zap felt like a sting, and the smell is nasty - burning hair and flesh. Umm, yeah.

I get to do it all again in 8 weeks. I will NOT be returning to work that day like I did today. I might be stubborn, but I am not a fool.

I am better now, but I cannot describe the drive to work and the smell of burnt hair while holding a cold pac to my chin. Nice.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Just Cruisin'

Here's a bit about what's going on and what's coming up for our little family:

We got a huge box of clothes for Sugar Cookie from my MIL yesterday. She and my SIL have been shopping for the baby and have picked out truly adorable outfits. My favorite outfit in this assortment was one that will make her look like a baby watermelon - complete with red hat with "seeds" on it. Also in the box was a baby Big Bird bath mit that Cookie couldn't stop staring at and cracking up laughing. I guess she really liked it.

My mom also sent a box of Easter presents for Sugar Cookie. In the box was a cute easter layette set with duckie socks and bib. She also sent a set of books in the shape of balls with soft pleather covers that look and feel like the type of ball - and the stories talk about teamwork or being a good sport. But the gift that Michael enjoyed most of all was a baby t-shirt from the University of South Florida bookstore that was a USF bulls green and yellow t-shirt (Michael got his MA and PhD there).

Cookie is doing much better health-wise, but the ear infection really threw off her sleep patterns, so we've been up a bit more at night than we had been. We are able to get her to sleep by about 8, but she will likely wake up at some point before we go to sleep, at which point I will feed and change her so she is freshly full and changed and will let us sleep as long as possible. Most of the time that works well. This morning she woke up around 6:15, and since I had showered last night and set out my clothes I was intent on sleeping until 7 and running out of the house just in time to make it to work even a few minutes late, I was not a happy camper. But, I picked her up and carried her to bed and gave her a bottle, and she fell asleep cuddled up next to me. Next thing I knew the alarm had gone off. I crawled out of bed and left her sleeping with Michael (who I did wake up to take the trash down to the street in time for garbage collection - God forbid the can-o-diapers had to stay full another week).

Starting tomorrow afternoon, I will be on my own with Sugar Cookie until Sunday night. Michael is going to a conference in Texas, and I elected not to take vacation days to join him. I wish I would have, but having been sick I really need to watch the amount of time I take off work now. My friend Megan will likely be here this weekend, barring some deluge of unexpected homework in her classes. I'm looking forward to her being here, and to her help in getting at least a couple of rooms in my house clean. We used to clean my apartment together - top to bottom - at least once a month. We'd have snacks, and music on and the windows open, and just enjoy each other's company and a good workout. I'd pass along some pocket-money in exchange for her help, and it was a benefit for both of us all around. I'm hoping that baby is content enough to let us do something like that this weekend. Of course, there is a lot more house than there was apartment, and with a baby who needs fed and held and amused, its a whole lot more work.

We have our quarterly visit with our social worker on April 11th. She'll make sure we haven't stock-piled weapons or let rodents take over the house, and we will review our goals and wether or not we are ready to get on the list to take mroe children. That's an easy answer - um, no. Sugar Cookie is wonderful, and with both of us working full time jobs, its tough to get to spend enough time with her and enjoy her development. Until she is our daughter forever, we've pretty much committed to not taking any more children. Our backs and tired minds and cluttered abode just can't take much more anyway.

On May 11th, we get to take our first big trip with the baby. My SIL is graduating with her second BA degree from the Univ. of Southern Miss, and we will be traveling to Michael's hometown of Laurel, MS to attend graduation and hang out with the family. We feel secure enough in the hope that Cookie will one day be our daughter that we are risking her meeting the family. This is a big deal for everyone - in many ways they are already in love with her, and after loving on her for a weekend, it will undoubtedly seal the deal. But - we figure now's as good a time as any, and she's getting so big that we don't want them to miss out on seeing her as a baby. Since my MIL doesn't/won't fly, this might be the only time she has to meet the baby for some time. We're still debating wether to fly or drive. Only NW Airlines flies into Laurel/Hattiesburg, so we are stuck with whatever price the airline is listing at, and right now it is $340 each with tax (yikes). But the drive would be a long 10 hours (610 miles) each way with a baby (double yikes). I don't know what we'll decide to do.

Mother's Day is May 14th. This will be the first year I will celebrate being a mom. I can't wait.

May 15th is the 60-day deadline for Cookie's social worker to file the 161 packet petitioning for a date for termination of parental rights. So far we haven't heard anything, which right now is good news. For now, we cruise.

My girlfriend is getting a major breast-reduction on May 17th. I am incredibly jealous. I want small, perky boobs that point OUT, not down! You go, girl.

May 19th is my 35th birthday - the day is special because that is the day that I promised myself years ago that if I didn't have a child and wasn't pregnant, that I would put everything I had into adopting a child. Well, there you go - see how God works? That day will be my little turning point. In related news, it had been 38 days since my last cycle today, so I just HAD to go buy a pee-stick to see if anything had transpired. Nah, this morning it was a BFN. But I did not cry. I sat on the commode and sighed, flushed, and got dressed. It was just another morning. I looked at my husband in bed curled up next to Cookie and life looked so much better than it has in a long, long time. The pee stick no longer defines my existance, my life, my happiness, or my sanity. It is a line on a pee stick that means I'm not pregnant, which is no different than it was yesterday or the day before. There may never be two lines on a pee stick, but one day very soon there will be someone I can call my daughter (and/or son) who calls me "Mommy". Yup, that's all I wanted anyway, and I didn't realize that until I was IN the process. I never thought that becoming the mother to an adopted child would feel like enough. I worried I would always regret not giving birth to a child that was half of Michael's DNA and half mine. I was wrong. I already know I won't regret it. I just want to be a mom NOW - hence the impatience and the pee stick. Two lines on a pee stick means I am a mom - no more waiting for it to happen. But I'm already a very special mom, and May will be a month of many revelations.

I had a breakdown last week in which I cried (um, no...wept is more like it). I cried because I was afraid (and still am in many ways), of loosing Cookie to someone else. I'm not afraid of her going back to birth parents as that just isn't going to happen. I'm worried about some relative somewhere coming out of the woodwork or getting a bigger place so they "have enough room", or something. See, too much time has passed. Too much bonding has taken place. She is our daughter - at 15 weeks old today she has seen her birth mother twice. I have convinced myself she even has taken on our personalities in some ways. When she just can't sleep, the one place she will sleep is Michael's chest. So yeah, I freaked out. I sobbed loudly with big fat tears falling to the bed while I watched Cookie sleeping. I have never been so afraid of loosing someone. Rationally, I doubt she will leave. If I were a gambling person, I'd bet on her becoming our daughter by the end of the year. But I was neither rational nor in the mood to examine my odds. Poor Michael didn't know what to do with me, so he just rubbed my back while I cried. I think it was the best thing he could have done. I didn't want anyone to explain the reality of the situation to me - I just needed to cry about it. It is hard. This part of it will not stop being hard until her last name is the same as ours, and the judge's pen leaves the paper.

Some days I make it through because I read the stories of others who have gone before me - who have had children in and out of their home, who have successfully adopted, or who are waiting on news of TPR, or adoption finalization dates. I try to help pull those of you along who are taking your MAPP classes, or awaiting a placement, or earlier in the process of hearing about your kid's goals for adoption.

These days I can't believe how many of us there are doing this - waiting, hoping, then celebrating. The common theme I keep finding though is encouraging - there is always a celebration. Joy always comes in the morning. It ALWAYS comes. I have never read a story where someone quit and never got to adopt if that's what they truly wanted - never. I have yet to find one. Those who do this, and stick with it, end up adopting (and some many times over). That hope and those stories keep me going.