baby development

Thursday, September 28, 2006

September's Visit w/ SW

R. came by today to do her regular monthly check-in with Cookie. She's pleased with her development (amazed, really). Here's the skinny on how she believes the next couple of months will look:

October 2nd - the warning lawyer submits paperwork to the court re: Biomom AWOL and cannot be located

October 16th (approx.) - we get assigned a court date

November 6th - possible court date for TPR hearing

December 4th - worst-case scenario for court date for TPR hearing if something happens.

One month wait to see if Bioparents appeal (which Biomom obviously can't do if she's AWOL - though Biodad could do from jail, ironically)

R. told us that our judge only does the TPR hearings on the first Monday of each month, so if we get a date assigned to us in October, we are looking at a November 6th court date. If it doesn't work out for November, we'll be looking for a Dec. 4th date. This give me great hope that TPR will be granted by the end of the year.

Unfortunately, I spoke with a friend who is adopting her two kids from foster care and who has the same judge. While TPR was granted for them back in July, she still does not have the final order signed, and is pretty clueless as to what is going on. She a liscensed social worker, so I figure she'd know how to get it done if she could. But, who knows. It worried me a bit, but I figure we just need to pray for the judge - that God would motivate her and those who work with her to get that paperwork finalized. My friend already has the kids, but would really like to get things rolling again. Please pray that my friend get her TPR finalized paperwork soon so she can move on to the adoption process. Her kids are 4 and 6, and were in foster care for 3 years - they deserve to have things finished as soon as possible.

Now, here's my biggest prayer request: that we get that Novemebr 6th court date. Why? Because on November 9th, we will be taking Cookie to Florida to meet her grandparents! Wouldn't that just be a fabulous thing to have the judge's order in hand right before we leave? If you've been following my story, you know my parents have been too scared to meet her before now for fear she'd leave (and they are just downright stubborn). It would make the trip down there all that more meaningful for all of us.

Thank you for your kind thoughts and prayers yesterday. I am exhausted from being sick for so long, but beyond that I am finally feeling well. I would like some alone-time with my husband, but without family around, it's hard - and the only people she knows are her daycare workers. I'm afraid a baby sitter from church (and wonderful people have offered) would freak her out. She already exhibits a bit of separation anxiety when Michael drops her off at daycare, so my concern is not unfounded.

Michael's trying to do a father-daughter day out with a co-worker of his and his little girl, so that I can have some time on Saturday to just exist. I am certain he has absolutely no idea how wonderful that sounds - and I'm sure Cookie would enjoy it immensely.

That about sums it up. Now we begin the 2-3 week wait to get assigned a court date. Cindy - we're right behind you!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

I Wonder

If you're a stressed out foster parent of a baby - is the stress any worse or different because you know that this child is still NOT YOUR CHILD?

Huge moments still reveal the fact that Cookie is not our legal daughter. Back in May, we changed her name in every place and with everyone who knew us and her. Her nameplate above her crib at daycare changed. She became Mia Elizabeth Lastname.

But every time I call the pediatrician, I have to call her my foster daughter. I have to use her legal name. I am reminded of how little free will and choice I have.

I have had conversations with First Steps for intake evaluation since Cookie was born with drugs in her system. I had to tell them so much I didn't want to tell again. "Was she full term?" asked the nice woman on the phone. "I don't know. Her birth mom had no prenatal care we know of. She gave birth at the hospital, and then left. She was 7 lbs. when she left the hospital, so we assume she was full term." We assume a lot.

{BTW, Cookie did not qualify for services from First Steps. After the initial evaluation, at 9 months, she scored at the "advanced" level for a 12 month old. I do NOT say this as any indication of anything we did, or as a comparison in ANY way (I detest this competitive parent crap). It IS a PRAISE GOD moment for how He healed her and released her from any harm. On Christmas morning, she was healed. You can go back in my blog to around that time to read the full account.}

Last night, at 2 am, I lost it again. Cookie woke up and decided to cry and arch her back and thrash about in my arms and have a royal fit (she is developing a big personality - more on that later). I haven't written about this - but I've been extremely ill for 2 weeks now, and am on the second round of antibioticcs. I am exhausted and physically drained. On top of that, our house was burgalarized and my entire jewelry chest stolen and my digital camera. My only physical posessions of much value - gone. My grandmother's engagement ring from my grandfather - 75 years old - gone. My sweet 16 emerald ring - gone. While we were at work. But I digress.

It's been a hard two weeks.

Last night's fit-pitching sent me into anger mode. I was holding Cookie while she thrashed about and cried and Michael asked "Do you want me to take her downstairs?" My reply was, "I want her to SHUT UP!! I WANT one night of sleep. I WANT to not be freakin' sick. I want my things back. I want to not go through this every freakin' night!" And Michael (bless his heart) quietly got out of bed and took Cookie from me. I was angry. I sat at the top of the stairs, tears pouring down my face, as I watched Michael sit on the sofa in the darkness downstairs. I heard Cookie snoring. I sobbed, "I can't take any more." And I cried - loudly. One of those cries that shakes your entire body, where you cry so hard you feel you might vomit, or pass out - or both. Fortuantely, I did neither. I did "the drill". I went into my bathroom, sat on the commode, peed (TMI), and sobbed. I held my head in my hands and ran my fingers through my hair. I got it together and crawled back into bed and fell asleep. I woke up later with Michael and Cookie in their usual spots - Michael on his side of the bed, and Cookie in the middle (thank God for King-sized beds).

I was angry that I do so much for a child who isn't legally mine. Any one can come at any time and take her away. It's a reality of foster care. She's not ours until the judge signs that piece of paper - and we've got quite a few steps to get through before that happens. It feels like it's been a long time, and yet I know there are folks who foster for YEARS before finally being able to adopt their kids (Jane, I think of your story especially.) There is a resentment there. This case has been "over" a long time ago. Dad's in jail for 9 years, mom's a junkie, and there are no suitable family members who aren't also part of "the system". A brother and sister were already adopted out almost 2 years ago. We knew all that by the time she was a month old, and Biomom still hadn't made contact. Biomom didn't even see the baby until she was 2 months old. By then, it was already over.

Sometime in October the warning lawyer should file paperwork with the court indicating that Biomom can't be found. Then, we'll get a court date for TPR. Then I will breathe a little easier. It will still be hard. Being a parent of a confident toddler is hard.

She's smart and so beautiful, and so strong willed - and her little personality and sense of self is developing so rapidly. She's learning what she can and can't control in her universe, and that has to be frustrating. Heck, it's frustrating for me - and I'm 35.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Cookie's New "Skill"

In addition to learning how to unfurl the entire roll of toilet paper onto the floor...

In addition to learning how to pull all of the kleenex out of the box on by one, or pulling every garbage bag out of the box one by one, or pulling every paper towel off the roll one by one, this is her latest new "skill"...

I had picked up Cookie from daycare. On the way out, there is always a big basket by the door of daycare that is filled with individually packaged snacks, like animal crackers. I always let Cookie grab one and play with it while she rides in her car seat on the way home. She loves crinkling the package between her fingers. Yesterday was no different, except the snack was tiny bags of Fritos.

Per usual, Cookie liked the shiny package and the crinkly sound it made. As we drove off, I heard the crinkling noises for a few blocks. Then, the crinkling sound stopped, and I heard...


And I smelled...


Any of you fellow Frito-lovers know - the smell is strong - and delightful - the yummy fragrance of fried cornchips.

Once I got to the next redlight, I turned around to see her in the carseat behind me munching away with much delight and Fritos all over her.

She had figured out how to open up the bag WITH HER TEETH - and she only has 4 of them - 2 on bottom and 2 on top that are only about half-way out. But I suppose that's enough to get the job done.

All evening long, every time I hugged my Cookie, I got a whiff of Fritos, and I smiled.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Happy 9 Month Birthday, Sugar Cookie!

This is a few days later - but better late than never!...

There's now so much Cookie to love! You now weigh 20 pounds, and our backs can certainly tell how much you've grown.

You've got a thick head of the silkiest strawberry blonde hair I've ever felt. Your eyes are still just as blue as the day you came home from the hospital. Your skin still feels just as soft.

Your vocabulary has grown too. You can say "mama", "dada", and all kinds of assorted syllables and vowel sounds. You talk to the cats a lot, too. We may not know much about what you are saying, but you sure have a lot to say, and you say it with such conviction!

Your favorite food is still Banana Puffs, though you also love soft-serve vanilla ice cream and fruits and veggies. You're not a fan of meat yet. The other night you were scarfing down on my baked potato from Wendy's, though I think it might have been beause you loved the butter and sour cream.

You've now had your first major "bumps and bruises". We've gotten 2 calls from daycare telling us you bumped your head and had a red mark on your forehead. Fortunately, they both went away in a day or so. By the time we got there to pick you up, you were "all better" anyway. It seems you like to climb all over things, and still loose your balance from time to time. You do this every night at home too, though your balance is so much better than it was last month.

You're now taking your first tentative steps as you transition from holding on to one object then another. At home, you'll let go of the coffee table, turn around, and take the two steps to get over to the sofa. We cheer for you when you do this, and the look of pride on your face is just incredible. You can stand up on your own for about 15 seconds now - and you can even bounce on your toes! We know that very soon you are going to be off and running.

The other day I went upstairs to grab something, and by the time I got back to the top of the stairs, you were already on the 4th step! I about had a heart attack, but you just looked at me like, "What?"

Your new love is now to be in the kitchen with me while I'm cooking or doing dishes. If the dishwasher is open, you like to stand by the door and try to pull out the utensils. If it is empty and I am loading it, you like to inspect the insides of the dishwasher. I wonder what it is you find so fascinating.

You also love to follow me into the bathroom and yank the toilet paper so it unfurls into a big pile on the floor. You stand there and admir eyour handiwork with great pride.

You still love chasing after the cats, and craling after them with their feather stick in your hand.

You are getting all of your baths in the tub with us now - you're just too big for the plastic tub in the kitchen sink. Besides, the last time I tried that, you splashed so much it soaked me and flooded the kitchen floor. Now we take baths together at night, which is nice and relaxing for both of us.

You can drink out of a sippy cup, but you still prefer a bottle. I think it's because bottle-time is also cuddle-time and you like that as much as I do.

It's hard to remember what life was like before you came along, but I'm sure it wasn't half as nice.

I can't wait to see what the next month has in store for you!

Fall & Fried Chicken

A little while ago, I wrote that fall is like fried chicken - cripsy, crunchy, and delicious.

Fall is my favorite time of year. I get all warm and fuzzy inside just thinking about the first big "cold snap"of the year. I love the smell of the dry leaves and the crisp air. I love wearing sweaters and bluejeans. I love being able to cuddle up with my favorite someone without getting sticky and sweaty. I never did understand the appeal of "sticky and sweaty". Eeew.

Tonight in Lexington we may set a new low for today's date. If it gets down to 40, it will be a record - but we are still looking at mid-to-low 40's regardless. How delicious is that?

I'm sorry to report that Michael is not as fond of the cold weather. In fact, he downright despises it. He's been wearing warm clothes now for weeks - with highs in the 70's. Guess he's still a Mississippi guy.

Me, well, I'm looking forward to an evening at home with my hunnies. I may just have to get out the 'ol crock pot and throw on a pot of beef stew.

Come on Fall - sock it to me!

Monday, September 18, 2006

25 Accomplishments in 12 Months

I saw this on Pajama Mama's site, and figured I'd give it a go.
This is a potentially inspirational, potentially difficult thing to do, but here goes nothing:

1. Completed 3 continuing education courses to keep foster parenting license.

2. Learned how to process Nonmedical Expedited Continuation Review here at work.

3. Learned how to process Medical Full Continuation Review here at work.

4. Gave 4 speeches/workshops on campus on IRB review - including College of Education new faculty orientation and Rehabilitation Sciences new doctoral student orientation.

5. Cared for a total of 5 foster children that were our placements and 4 other foster children for respite care.

6. Cut my hair above my shoulders after having worn it long most of my life. I also got mad color and highlights.

7. Decided to do laser hair removal all over my face after years of suffering with man-hair from PCOS. Successfully completed 3 sessions, endured the pain, and am now smooth and free of facial hair forever.

8. Underwent plastic surgery to remove an ugly dermatofibroma that had been on my right arm for at least 20 years. It is now gone, and no one will ever ask me again - "what happened to your arm?"

9. Bought a new-to-us house - our first home purchase ever.

10. Moved into new house with a newborn baby in the middle of winter.

11. Took out my first big-time life insurance policy that would take good care of me and Cookie should Michael croak. I felt very grown-up.

12. Got even further out of consumer debt.

13. Got job interviews for other positions that I was "overqualified" for.

14. Learned how to care for a drug-exposed infant.

15. Learned how to get WIC to give you an appointment to get vouchers for formula even when they have no available appointments.

16. Became a better wife by complaining less, crying less, and appreciating more.

17. Made friends with more people at work.

18. Hung up all the pictures in my new house.

19. Improved my relationship with my parents while maintaining appropriate and necessary boundaries.

20. Watched the entire Season 1 and Season 2 of Lost on DVD within the last month.

21. Hosted a surprise 50th birthday party for a co-worker at my home that was actually a surprise AND was one that everyone completely enjoyed.

22. Hired someone to clean my house.

23. Completely and utterly forgave someone.

24. Saw Jamie Cullum in concert.

25. Ceased using a fertility monitor and made the decision never to pursue fertility treatments.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Observations From My Sick Bed...Ugh, Desk

Well, it's official. I have an upper respiratory infection, a nasty ear infection, and "pink eye". I have the hat trick of crud.

If that wasn't bad enough, right after I'd gotten home from the doctor's office and the pharmacy and popped the first mega-antibiotics and crawled into bed, I got a phone call from day care - seems that Cookie had the poops really, really bad and wouldn't stop crying. So, off I went to pick her up and be single-mom until Michael arrived home at 7.

Today I had to stay home sick with my sick child from the time Michael left at 11 until, well, a few minutes ago (8 pm) when he was done teaching for the day.

She poops every hour - and it is apparently horribly distressing for her (as it is for me). Her rash is terrible, even after I slather on the A&D ointment. Even bathtime tonight was just an angry, wet little girl. She's also running a mild fever, and snotty as all get out - and the whining and crying just make her nose run. Honestly, she looks neglected, and I've done nothing but care for her all day. I never even put on a bra. I managed to load up the dishwasher - but all the while she was holding onto my pantleg and hollering like a stuck piglet.

So, while I was supposed to be recovering I had to listen to a whining screaming, pooping child the entire day. I think the only time she was't whining or crying was the 1-hr. nap she took from 1-2.

I love that child.

I also have a lot more respect for SAHMs. I could never do what you do. God bless you - all of you. Whenever I go back to work, it will be better than today has been.


Friday, September 08, 2006

Same Old, Same Old

I'm still here, still loving my little family, still enjoying motherhood, and still wishing this was a faster process. But I have nothing to complain about - absolutely nothing. I am blessed beyond my wildest dreams.

Speaking of wild dreams, Michael and I have gotten addicted to watching Lost. Anyone seen it? Holy Cow. We finished the first season on DVD, and the first disk of season 2 that was released this week. We watched so much so quickly because it is TV crack. Then I started having dreams about it. It is an amazing show, and it keeps getting freakier. Dang, somebody e-mail me who has watched this show.

I'm exhausted. Anyone else out there exhausted? I've never been so thankful for the weekend since becoming a mom. I mean, it calls to me. Five hours to go. I may just get into bed as soon as I get home and forget dinner. Nah. I'll eat and then crawl into bed. Michael was all snuggly in bed with Cookie when I left this morning - all peaceful and warm. A daddy with his daughter is quite the lovely sight, I tell ya.

I had a major accomplishment over the holiday. I hung pictures in my house. This might not seem like much, but we have been living in our new house for 9 months with all of our pictures stacked against the wall in the downstairs half-bath just waiting - for me to get off my a** and figure out where they go. But I am a precision picture-hanger. I measure, mark, measure again - then hammer and hang. I use actual picture hangers. I measure the distance to the top of the wall. I hang everything at eye-level for proper viewing. I am anal about this. That also means it takes for-freakin-ever. But it is finished. Now, in my livingroom hangs two large prints of peacock mommies and daddies with tiny baby peacocks. It is a nice image of family, and I like the one of the daddy and babies - it makes a lovely statement.

I feel fall approaching. I smell it in the air, and it excites me. It does not motivate me to do anything, but it excites me nonetheless. Fall is the coziest time of year. It is crispy and crunchy and delicious - much like fried chicken. Fall is like fried chicken. What a splendid metaphor.

This post proves I need sleep...and food. Sleep and food. Aaaaaahhhh. Have a great weekend, friends. Go hug someone and tell them fall is coming.