An adoption story

It was a sunny Monday morning in August and there we were, standing in the delivery room at the hospital, waiting for a baby girl to be born.

That we were invited by our birth mother to be present for the birth was beyond anything we had hoped for when we first started exploring adoption. We shouldn't have been surprised, though; our birth mother had shown an amazing spirit of generosity toward us throughout her pregnancy and since we'd first met, including us in doctor visits, health updates, name discussions and more. We were continuously touched and honored that she brought us into those experiences even though it might have been easier not to. She was ever focused on what would be best for this child, determined to set her up for the best possible life that we could collectively give her. It was, and is, amazing.

When we had gotten the call a few months earlier that there was a pregnant birth mother interested in meeting us, we were very excited, and very scared. We knew that we had so much to offer a child as parents, but the stakes felt so high for that first in-person conversation, which was to take place over a casual meal at a restaurant. We were fortunate to be joined and guided by a counselor from the agency we were working with, and she was helping both us and the birth mother to create a safe space and set expectations. But as we sat down at the restaurant table to wait we were nervous and anxious all the same.

It was one of many blessings in our story that when the woman who would be our daughter’s birth mother arrived, we connected with her quickly and much of our nervousness melted away. We all talked about our lives and stories that had brought us to this point. We talked frankly of our hopes and fears in thinking about adoption. And we laughed together at the various ways that my and Kelly’s background and interests seemed to intersect so well with the birth mother’s passions. All of the sudden we could really picture this thing actually happening; there was a specific person who might choose us to be the parents of a specific baby!

Our agency had cautioned us against getting our hopes up. "Be excited, but also protect yourselves” was a theme throughout the process of preparing for adoption. We could learn as much about a potential plan as we wanted, but as a birth mother is able to change her mind at any point before signing the paperwork, we had to know that plans could change. We didn’t have a baby shower or decorate a nursery in the same way others might have because we didn’t know for sure if and when we would be becoming parents. We could tell our friends and employers what we thought might happen, but we didn’t know for sure.

Still, when we got the call a few days after the meeting at the restaurant that the birth mother had chosen us, we were ecstatic. We both had a really good feeling about it and we felt that we were at a new and special phase that was changing our lives forever. We set up a call with the birth mother to celebrate this milestone and to offer our gratitude. I can only imagine all of the things she was feeling and wrestling with at that time, but in that conversation it seemed like we all felt clear and grateful to be moving forward together.

Continue reading "An adoption story"

This Year's Garden

It's been over 10 years since I've had the time, space and inclination to have a real garden, so it's been a lot of fun to plant one this year.

The main focus was having an outdoor project my daughter could have some ownership of, and so I gave myself permission to go the easy route where I could: raised beds instead of tilling, a seed starter kit and grow light instead of crafting a setup out of individual parts, rain and the occasional hose instead of a rain barrel, and just a few different crops to manage: tomatoes, broccoli, cilantro, basil, and lettuce.

Here's what it looked like when we'd just moved the seedlings outside:

I also accepted early on that we'd be paying a small tax to the local bunnies, squirrels and birds as a part of encroaching on their yard space, forgoing any fences or chemicals to keep them away. We did have fun making some tin foil "scarecrows" that wave in the wind, and they seem to be working pretty well.

Fresh pesto is one of my favorite foods, so having basil to pick is a joy. Our daughter loves garden tomatoes and has previously mostly relied on the farmers market and the kindness of neighbors; it will be fun to see her harvest snacks and take pride knowing she was the one to plant them in the first place.

Parenting, year one

I haven't written much in this space about my experience of parenting so far. I suppose that's partly out of reluctance to claim any special insight in such a well established and oft-documented part of the human adventure. Partly it's because much of the time I've spent in the past on writing has instead gone to parenting itself, or recovering from the lack of sleep involved therein. And partly it's because I only have mostly gushing, positive things to say about it, bordering on the disturbingly hyperbolic.

But here I am at a year into the experience - we celebrated A.'s first birthday last week with family and cupcakes - so it seems important to acknowledge that milestone here too.

First I'll get some of the clichés out of the way:

  • Everything changes
  • It's a miracle
  • Sleep when they sleep
  • It takes a village
  • It gets easier
  • Just when you find a routine, things change
  • Hardest and most rewarding thing you've ever done

All of those have been true for us in some form or another. Details available upon request.

A point Kelly and I acknowledge often is how much harder parenting would be if it wasn't something you wanted or chose. We feel fortunate every day we get to parent A. because it is something we decided to do, knowing full well that it would be a challenge and a life-changing experience. My empathy for people who weren't ready to be parents, or for whom parenting is much different than they expected for whatever reasons in or out of their control, has grown significantly. For me and I think for Kelly, even on the hardest, most exhausting days of parenting, we still know and feel that there's no other way we'd want it to be.

See, gushing. I warned you. Ready for more?

Continue reading "Parenting, year one"

2015 Year in Review

I thought I'd take some time to reflect back on the last year and share some highlights:

Parenting

C & AUndoubtedly the biggest change for me in 2015 was becoming a parent.

Friends, there is a miniature human being living in my house now.

Whoa.

There are many things about that experience I could go on about --  the adoption process, being in the delivery room for her birth, the incredible support and help we received from our friends and family, figuring out how to care for a new person and getting some sleep along the way, watching my wife become a wonderful mom and navigating a huge change in our life together, implications for our home automation setup, and much more -- and I'll try to blog about all of that as I can. For now I can say that being a father has been magnificent.

Continue reading "2015 Year in Review"

How much sleep?

One of the most common questions I'm asked as a new parent is "how much sleep are you getting?"

People who ask are usually expecting a fairly imprecise response, but thanks to my Fitbit Charge HR, I have data!

sleep-history

Mid-June is around when my sleep started being affected by the anticipation of parenthood, down to an average 7.3 hours/night. That trend continued into July with an average 6.75 hours/night.

A. was born in August, and that's when I hit an average of 5.5 hours/night. Most nights were well below that in the 2-3 hour range, and it was only because friends, family or my amazing wife would facilitate an occasional longer chunk that the average was as high as it was.

September got me back over the 6 hour mark, and by November I was almost getting an average of 8 hours. Mind you it wasn't always 8 full hours of deep sleep; lots of it was time sitting still in bed, anticipating A.'s next request for room service or entertainment. There's still plenty of that but the waits are getting longer, the sleep in between deeper. Continue reading "How much sleep?"