Friday, December 21, 2012

Snot fair

So, it's nearly our first Christmas as parents. I'm probably supposed to be getting massively excited and planning present opening and taking photos of Baby Spouse entranced by the Christmas tree.

Instead I am mainly wiping up snot and trying to put away clothes that are too small (but we have no more vacuum clothes bags and the next size are waiting for labels but it's Mr Spouse's turn to do that and HE has the baby's cold too), and also trying to bake cookies and cake (but I ran out of flour and eggs while Mr Spouse was driving home from the supermarket).

And much as I love my readership, I would rather watch trashy films than sit in front of the computer.

So I'm watching Bridesmaids, and this post is brought to you courtesy of my smartphone. Excuse typos.

Saturday, December 15, 2012


I keep waiting for opportunities to tell my mummy friends that we adopted Baby Spouse but to be honest they just don't present themselves. So far, four friends who I see a lot of know, as well as our neighbour whose little boy goes to swimming with us - so I told a new friend in the same class as it was just us three and our babies in the changing room. But none of the other swimming friends know, and none of the others from other baby groups (unless they have been told by other people), and the nursery staff know if they have read his information, but otherwise they don't. It's been a while now that I know these people so I feel a little odd they don't know.

In other news, we are doing OK. Mr Spouse - did I mention he got a distinction in his Masters course - has a new job but the HR department where he will be working is just as useless as my own employer's HR department (who sent my first two, incorrect, part time contracts to my office while I was on leave, and the third one was also incorrect, so I still don't have one). So we aren't holding our breath on a start date, but he is enjoying spending some time at home with Baby Spouse. We are also thinking we'll book our summer holidays quickly (usually here, even if you haven't got enough holiday time in your contract, they don't stop you from taking pre-booked holidays, you just might have to take the time unpaid).  

We are making low key plans for Christmas, my family as usual are inserting a lot of drama, but whatever.  Baby Spouse is a little behind most of my friends' children in some of the things he does, and I'm trying really hard not to let it worry me, as I know he's not grossly delayed in anything, and I'm only comparing him to about 5 babies. But it's hard not to when you know there are reasons he could be delayed. I only have two more working days before Christmas, and I'm quite happy about that!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Not helping

I've been doing quite well at not being over-anxious when Baby Spouse gets ill - and I've been reassured by friends that checking he's still breathing is perfectly normal. I know there are layers on top of this (both our miscarriages, and the death earlier this year of a friend's baby, the same age). I just got a book of poetry out of the library, thinking it would be a nice change, perhaps some lovely imagery, perhaps some twee 19th century poems.  All the 16th and 17th century poems are about children who have died. Two of Ben Johnson's children who died. Etc. etc. Consider yourselves warned.

Anyway, onwards and upwards.

ICLW comments left for (some of which are people I read regularly but don't comment on enough. Go. Read them.):

Nuts in May 
Twangy Pearl 
A Thousand Oceans 
It Is what it Is
Genuine Greavu 

And returning a comment to
Compromised Fertility

Friday, November 23, 2012

Sick again

Baby Spouse has the wheezing again. It's not as bad as before, so we put him to bed with some magic Calpol and a blast of his inhaler, and we feel OK about leaving him till the morning to see how he's doing. But I think our decision not to head straight to A&E was partly motivated by the fact that it was about 4.30pm when we noticed how poorly he was and if we had, it would have been way past his bedtime (and tired, cranky, sick babies are not happy) before we would have been seen.

I recently read this speech by Michael Gove who says some mad and pointless things, but this is worth reading, though a hard read.  Very hard.  But I felt sad today when I noticed that Baby Spouse did not scream as much when we gave him his inhaler today as previously. Either he feels very sick, or he has got used to basically feeling suffocated. Which is sad.

(but I do think that he may have tried to say "byebye" when we took it away... or possibly it was the eye of maternal faith).

Comments left for

Survive and Thrive 
A Passage to Baby 
Patience is not my Virtue 
Miss Ohkay (though I'm a regular reader)
The 2 week wait 

And returning a comment from 
Henry Street

(Incidentally, can anyone tell me why all my links from the Stirrup Queens ICLW page redirect to pages? They all get to the right place, but it's really bizarre).  

Thursday, November 22, 2012

I am thankful...

... for a gorgeous, healthy baby.
... for a husband who has a job offer (but we need to work out how much travelling it would involve)
... that I'm surviving my first week back at work, well, OK, my first two days back at work (I'm easing myself in).
... that I don't have to work tomorrow!

Met boss today (I've managed to mess up my timetable about 65 times so far, but most of the mess ups were at least partly not my problem, he thought it was next week, I thought it was Monday this week). Anyway he was very slightly helpful on a larger issue, but asked me how I was enjoying being a parent, and said he found it fun but tiring.  I hated to say "that's because you were only ever home when your kids were supposed to be asleep and so were you". 

But I felt like saying "it's not THAT tiring" (Baby Spouse is still a good sleeper, and I'm gradually learning to go to bed on time) "but there's a lot of hard work involved". Because I know he would have been a very good baby-on-knee-bouncing kind of dad, for about 5 minutes, but useless at making baby food, hour long cuddles, or washing nappies. All of which Mr Spouse is pretty good at.

Comments left for
Feeling Beachie (gorgeous picture on her blog header by the way, check it out)
Stirrup Queens (I think it counts if it's one you regularly read!)
Dancing my Way through Life 
Life with Roozle 

And returning a comment from 
Life of an Army Wife

(I'm really struggling for people to return comments for, I've only had 2 ICLW comments! Sob!)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Enjoying it

When you become a parent after infertility or loss, or actually I imagine when you become a parent through adoption even if you can have or do have biological children, there is an unspoken assumption that you are not allowed to complain. You wanted this.  You can't complain.

I am sorry to say I have definitely been complaining. I have been known to count the hours/minutes until we can put Baby Spouse to bed.  I have been happy at the thought of a morning when he is in nursery but I am not working, so I can get some time to myself. Ditto at the idea of heading to the shops while he is napping and Mr Spouse is at home.

But I do think I am enjoying being a mother at least as much, and in some cases more, than those I know to whom it came easily. For some it seems to be an endless round of delight (read: not telling us the whole truth). Some will counter every "oh he NEVER SLEEPS" with "oh be patient, they are tiny for such a short time".  But others seem to have a really hard time of it, and to never be cheerful or actually enjoy their babies.  There is one mother of a baby the same age that I know who never seems to smile - possibly her personality, but I do wonder if she ever smiles at the baby.

I'm enjoying things I didn't really think I would, or that I never thought of. I'm enjoying working out how to adapt our family meals for him (I do like cooking though). I'm enjoying making faces at him and vice versa. I'm enjoying the smug feeling of putting a load of nappies in the washing machine! I'm even enjoying singing nursery rhymes (though I have some lines I draw in the sand over that. I will not sing some songs at all, and I will only sing The Wheels on the Bus in order to administer an inhaler). And I'm enjoying listening to him chat to himself while he does NOT take a nap. Sigh.

Comments left at  If you Don't Stand for Something

Sweet Dreams are Made of This
Creating a Family

Bebe Suisse
IVF after 40

And returned to 
Our work of A.R.T.

(There are a couple of blogs on the ICLW blogroll that are private, but don't say so, or have incorrect URLs. Harumph).

Friday, November 16, 2012

I was glad

when they said unto me (sorry, years of choral training) when I realised the other day...

I just think the mum at our baby swimming lessons who appears to be pregnant again, with a baby a month older than Baby Spouse, is crazy.
And that I actually don't want to be pregnant. I don't want to. This is huge. 
I am not sure what I'd think if a) I found out I was 20 weeks pregnant (one of those fantasies recurrent miscarriers have) or b) someone magically produced a biological child of ours.
But I even feel moderately positive about our possible future adoption/fostering choices - only not just yet, thanks.
In other news, back to work on Monday, not remotely ready, all and sundry keep telling me I Absolutely Must do A (except they don't know what they're talking about and I don't need to because someone else is) but not bothering to tell me I need to do B (which actually I do because it's accepted I will, which, how am I supposed to know that?).
In other other news, people seem to want Mr Spouse to have interviews with them, which is good, no news back about actual jobs, and he's apprehensive about some of the job locations (too much travelling, he has unfortunately become a bit of a specialist).

Friday, November 09, 2012

Who's afraid of...

open adoption?

I'm posting this for National Adoption Week. Many adopters are telling their stories and publicising adoption. I'd like to share a little more about why we chose the type of adoption that we did and what it means to us - and why it's not that scary. Open adoption can be any kind of adoption where there is some contact between adoptive and birth families, but it's more usually taken to mean one where families meet directly.

We were probably a little rosy in our view of open adoption when we heard of it first. We knew that wherever we adopted from we wouldn't be sharing first steps, first day at school, or family parties with our child's birth family, but we had read how important it is for children to know something about both their genetic (and national/cultural) origins and the real circumstances of their birth families, both to feel connected to where they came from and so that they don't think (like Lily in Modern Family) that their birth mother was a princess.

I've posted about this before in bits and pieces, and I know other adopters have strong views, and I also know that people are entitled to make choices for their own children that they feel are right for them. For some children meeting their birth family is just plain unsafe. I know some prospective adopters wish for that kind of adoption! And others worry about children who were abused meeting their abusers again, while others have said "but if a baby has never lived with their birth parents, why do they need a relationship now?" And we know the choices we make now are the ones that are right for us, now, and that we have made for Baby Spouse's future. They are not necessarily the ones he'll make for himself in the future.

But we were lucky enough to be able to chat to Nella (what I call his birth mother here) before he was born, on the phone. She still has a number that she can call us on, that goes to our home phone when we have scheduled a call (and to voice mail when we haven't).  She saw pictures of us and of our home, without having our address or location. We think this reassured her that we were going to be the right parents for her baby boy.

She has not led a rosy life, and we came to understand more and more of that as we got to know her (we knew some of it when we said yes we'd be happy for her to consider us).   She has two other children but she hasn't been able to raise either of them. Her parents tried to help her in the past but have decided they were just making things worse, and they are bringing up her older daughter.  Her other child was removed and placed in foster care, and subsequently adopted. Because of this and other risks she took (that placed, and continue to place, Baby Spouse at risk) she knew she could not take our son home from the hospital.

She also can be quite unreliable - not turning up when she says she will, calling us daily and then not for weeks - and we know that if and when Baby Spouse starts to be aware of who she is and to wonder why she's unreliable, we would have to moderate things, and explain things. And that's hard. But we feel it's less hard than having him wonder.  Most children who have been adopted have some very difficult information in their past. If their birth families had a lovely life, they wouldn't have needed to be adopted.

But we have a photo of her holding him when he was tiny.  And a photo of us all together. And we have met her daughter and her parents, and we have plans to meet them all again.

Our social worker thinks that what we have set up - we have an informal agreement for photos and visits (which, in the UK, would be called "letterbox" and "contact" but however difficult Nella may be and her life may be, really, she's Baby Spouse's family and with family you send photos and you have visits) - is pretty amazing. We don't really feel that way - we just think it's doing what we can for our baby. What we continue to do may not be the same. We'll see. But we'll try.

Thursday, November 08, 2012


Just to drive myself mad I'm going to participate in this, the week I go back to work.

I say week, but I'm only doing 2 days a week - the challenge will be not fitting in enough time with Baby Spouse, but actually getting done the work people think I'll be able to do.

Monday, November 05, 2012


Apparently, when you tell the paediatrician about the risk factors A and B, and they are assessing your baby's breathing problems, they throw in a free developmental screening.

Anyway, we are home, with some nice strong drugs, and the emergency number for the ward. Tiny violins screeching in his chest apparently, but viral, not bacterial.

Get it over with

We're in hospital for what we hope is a very quick assessment and home again, as Baby Spouse has some breathing problems, it's probably just viral, but they may want to observe him overnight.

After numerous conversations with acquaintances where I don't feel like disclosing he's adopted, in this setting, as Mr Spouse just said, it's as well to say more or less immediately "we adopted him, we met him at 3 days, he had X and Y problems and yes, we know about A and B risk factors and his siblings don't live with us obviously, and we only have one side of his genetic history".

It kind of feels good in an odd way.

(Do bug me if I don't update to say how he is, but don't panic if I don't as it may be lack of battery on my phone)

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Name change?

I'm on a lot of blog rolls as What am I? But that was a good name while wondering what my diagnosis might be, but now I'm clearly a mother and I'm also clearly not going to get pregnant or have a birth child or even seek any more diagnosis or treatment any time soon.

My URL is separate anyway, so what do people think - change my blog title? And what to?

Who is this What Am I person?

So people might have a clue who I am and what this is about. Mysterious title. Not helped by non-matching blog name. I haven't tagged posts, so this seems a quicker way to get the whole story over. I've noticed a few new readers recently, probably because I hang out virtually with more adoptive parents these days.

In 2004 I married the (at the time) Bloke. He became Spouse (as I did not want a husband, I wanted a wife, but he wasn't willing to oblige on that one). He tried Mrs Spouse but as I pointed out I was Dr Spouse to you. So there you go.

In 2004 I also got pregnant for the first time. In early 2005 I miscarried for the first time at about 9 weeks, a missed miscarriage for which I had medical management. A friend recommended writing about things to get my head round it. I assumed I'd get pregnant again quickly, but a long wait and a trip to an odd psychologist (rich coming from me I know) led to me not being able to work out if I was infertile, secondarily infertile, or a miscarrier. Hence "What Am I" as a blog title, which is no longer very helpful.

A few investigations and ultimately a fairly average, for our ages, conception rate led to the conclusion that we were the last one. Recurrent miscarriers. (and my posts show I had another chemical pregnancy/early miscarriage, maybe two, in there somewhere that I can't find a specific post about).

In between this, just to confuse matters, we have also been investigating UK domestic (foster care) adoption, started on the route to fostering, then investigated US domestic adoption (first thinking perhaps while we were actually living in the US but then how it would work if we were living here - UK), and finally swerved back to UK adoption before settling on US infant adoption.

If you live in the UK and want to adopt from another country, you first have a home study in the UK as all adopters do, and it's pretty much identical, and then you go to an approval panel ditto.

Then you spend ages preparing your dossier (official sounding word that many countries use) or, in our case, just plain old paperwork to go overseas, then the government sits on it for quite some time, and eventually it gets there. If you (like about 0.00000000001 other couples) are choosing to adopt from the US, you also prepare a profile to show how lovely you are and that you'd make good parents for a baby whose birth parents have come to realise they cannot parent it.

And then you wait. Looking back, though waiting is hard, I think it was more frustrating when we were in between bits of paperwork. At that point, someone should be doing their job, and perhaps some of the not-adoption-professionals haven't replied to messages, but basically if your social worker had a lighter case load, your government clerk pulled their finger out, you could get approved/dossier completed more quickly. But unless you have a really inefficient agency or social worker, it is down to the number of children that need adopting and which ones you could parent.

So then eventually you get a potential match, and you have to try not to get too excited, and then finally - surprise! there's a baby! (OK it was not a surprise that he was born, but that he was early!). And huge relief, his birth mother has terminated her rights, and after some more paperwork shenanigans, you can take him home.

And that's where we are, with added growth, milestones, and worry about whether his poor early start will affect him later, I guess.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Some good, some not

First the not. Nursery have messed up and the times they have given us almost completely fail to intersect with the days I'll be working (in 2 weeks! Help!). We considered taking our ball, er, baby home and Not Playing but he really likes it, so that would be mean. Instead he'll do minimal nursery till Christmas and mainly be at home with Mr Spouse.

Who as yet has no job. But at least one interview. But it might be for a job 2 hours away (there are a few locations). But he definitely wouldn't start till January.

This is turning into a game of "Fortunately... Unfortunately..."

Anyway, as I think I said, we're going for a quiet Christmas, just us, Baby Spouse gets a wrapped up box, we have a chilled out time before going back to Birth State. Mr Spouse has asked if we can have nothing happen next year.

At all.

He has a point. In 2012 we went to the US to acquire a baby (by day 4 of the year, no less), he had 3 sets of exams, his mother died, and he finished his MSc (that's more or less in chronological order). Oh, and he got a Distinction. Clever boy.

I did point out that if we want to adopt again, or perhaps foster, we'd need to try and make our enquiries in 2013. But we are so used to having social workers in the house that doesn't count as something happening. And he didn't say "no way" which, for him, generally means "I'm thinking seriously about it".

It occurs to me also, as an aside, that it's kind of hard to find your way round this blog. When I started it, Blogger didn't do tags, and I never bothered adding any. Perhaps I should do some "NIBs" sound bites somewhere. When I have time. Ha.

Reading material

I've been reading back over my blog to write that The Short Version post that's just gone up. One thing that has struck me again and again is how many nice things Mr Spouse has done for me (not relating to having children, in particular) and also how much he's changed from "I'll be happy if you're happy" to "How could I have thought we'd survive without having a baby?".

Friday, October 19, 2012


We are currently on our Forrin Holiday, lots of nice croissants and ice cream, sunshine, beautiful small towns, and random mad parks with Wild West guinea pig pens:

We've booked our flights, a couple of nights in a hotel, and car for trip back to Birth State.  We emailed Nella's parents who didn't say "but we're on the other side of the country then!" so we will I think at least see them (they are not the kind of people who are the other side of the country, ever, but they are also the kind of people, I think, who don't have random last minute personal emergencies, unlike Nella, so it sounds like we are going to see them at least). It is a bit of a leap of faith - it feels like an odd thing to do - it is not really somewhere we'd choose as our first option for a family holiday, and frankly though it's something to build Baby Spouse's life story, he won't care where we are or remember it. Neither would we choose the dates we booked, but it is a lot easier to renew Baby Spouse's US passport in the US, before it is a year old, so it's more of a case of several factors combining to make it convenient.

We've also primed our good friends in Agency Town and in addition (I'm not sure I ever mentioned this) my cousin who lives in Far Distant Cold State which is far from both Birth State and SoCal (where we lived and where her parents live).  Cousin's baby girl was born 3 days before Baby Spouse, but indecently late and huge (almost twice his birth weight). She's the cousin in my US family that's closest to me in age, and closest in personal terms as well, but a bit flaky about communication, though her husband is better, and he arranged Mr Spouse's volunteering gig during the 2008 Obama campaign. 

They have no vacation time to join our visit to Nice Warm Birth State this year (and we are reluctant to visit Far Distant Cold State in January, call us wimps, but there it is!) but we have opened the door for a family visit in future years.  This cousin is significantly younger than me, but we have now closed the gap with Baby Cousin and Baby Spouse, and I would love it if they could get to know each other growing up. So we're hoping for 2014. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


This says some very apposite things, given yesterday's post. Yes, I have worked for years and years to save up to take an only very slightly extended adoption leave, and to work part time when I go back.  I could have taken 3 maternity leaves in the time. And yes, I may be able to buy myself a cappuccino, but that doesn't mean I get to enjoy them all in complete peace. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

End of an era

We are actually on holiday in France at the moment but over the week before we went away we had the end of Mr Spouse's studying and the first session at nursery for Baby Spouse.  He sailed in and was fine and loved the baby room (and so did Baby Spouse... joking). I was sad that he didn't miss me/us!  I am not sure if he just hasn't got to the stage of stranger anxiety or if he is anxious but does not cry always when anxious. He has several more mornings in nursery when I am not yet back at work so we can ease him in gradually. Mr Spouse is jobhunting so we have a little time together as a family.

But I am really beginning to see why people decide not to go back to work at all. It's not actually because I'll miss Baby Spouse while I'm at work, or because I want to spend all my time with him - I will miss him, but I don't want to spend all my time with him, or at least not just us at home - I'd still want him to go to a formal setting, with more of a variety of activities than I can provide.  And it's not that I don't like my work, because I do, it's interesting and (often) rewarding. It's the relentlessness of it.

I've already had complaints that I didn't host a visitor I had invited at about the six week stage, complaints that I didn't provide some paperwork someone wanted immediately (because I was doing "other work" - the arrangement here is that you can do a limited amount of work on maternity/adoption leave by agreement with your line manager, but it's supposed to be limited or you lose your adoption pay as, after all, why should the government pay you not to work when you are, in fact, working? so you pick the urgent work, and pile up work until you have a day's worth/everyone's told you all the stuff that needs doing on X project - also a more efficient use of child care).

I may have said that I sorted out with my old line manager (who's now moved away) part time working and I also sorted out (which is legally my choice, not theirs) a return to work date.  It's particularly important for us to make sure that childcare is a settled arrangement - for Baby Spouse's security especially. It's not something I will be discussing with my new line manager, or really with any other colleagues.

Now I've been told by my new line manager that I agreed to go back to work the previous week (wishful thinking on his part in fact) and two or three people have been moaning that it won't make much difference etc. etc., why not get Y person to babysit (who is qualified it is true, but who has met Baby Spouse once when awake, when he was 5 months old). I have not actually said but really felt like shouting IT IS OUR BUSINESS WHO CARES FOR HIM.  The only reason he wants me to go back to work the previous week is because he didn't get his act together to get someone else to do something happening that week, which is not really my problem, and which actually doesn't even fit my timetabled schedule anyway (old line manager helpfully agreed to set working days for my part time work, rather than a random "you're working 3 days a week but when we feel like making you work them" which is useless for childcare). Again, new line manager has tried to suggest I "find" extra childcare.

And I have an ongoing issue with some paperwork that really needs doing but I can either wait till next year (which is to my detriment), scramble to do it now (which means it might not be done properly, which is also to my detriment), or moan that actually they should allow me extra time owing to having been on adoption leave (if the due date was while I was still on leave, I'd be looking at a discrimination case, but it isn't, so it's a grey area). I've talked to my union about this in fact but although retired union guy was very sympathetic, new union guy was more of a chocolate teapot and, you guessed it, suggested that going back to work early would solve everyone's problems in this area.

So do I feel excited and enthusiastic about going back to work? Funnily enough, no.

Monday, October 01, 2012


We had Baby Spouse's christening yesterday. Here's a small corner of his cake:  

And here's his gown (which used to be my wedding dress):  

Full photos available for those on the Book of Face.
I have not yet strangled any of my friends or relatives, and the baby slept through a large portion of his party (though he didn't sleep through church, or cry - it helps that he loves lights, organ music, and being the centre of attention).
I now have a really nasty cold and would quite like to sleep all week. However, I have to work out which of his clothes for nursery really need name labels, and then pack for a sunny holiday in the South of France. It's a hard life.

Friday, September 21, 2012

I'm sure this isn't in the spirit of things

But I have just unsubscribed to a blog because the blog posts loads and loads and loads of posts - I swear it must be about 3 a day - but 90% of them are protected. I read blogs through Google Reader, and especially if I read them on the phone, it's a pain.
Mean, I'm sure.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


We had our first family trip to a festival as I said (baby's first festival wristband, a far more important keepsake than first tooth/haircut/shoes), and also a stay in London seeing some Paralympics events (fabulous, especially the wheelchair basketball final). We're off again in a month to France for our one and only (very likely) holiday during both school and university term time, as I can't normally go on holiday then (we'll do some in school term before Baby Spouse starts school, though). We're going somewhere we have been as a couple and, like our festival-going, we have said how nice it would be to go as a family.

We're also going to book, shortly, a trip back to Birth State, in fact likely around Baby Spouse's birthday. We are doing this to avoid fuss. My family would make a huge fuss (as it's so shortly after Christmas, we're hoping to avoid Christmas Fuss too) and we are hoping we can get one year without this. Nella's parents said that they often spend time at Waterside Resort in Birth State, which sounds lovely, so we think we will ask if they could come there for a weekend and bring Nella and Montana (big sis).  We think Nella is under the impression that we will be visiting Nice Little Agency Ville and will pay for her to visit us there but we'd rather not get into doing that. However, we're encouraged that she's still calling us, if we don't call first, about once a month, and she sounded more calm and (I hate to say it but) sober this month.  So we're hopeful that she will at least make it to see us, if not in Resort then in Birth City (which is not very exciting as a place to visit but we could make a two day trip or something).

I also know where I want to go on next summer's holiday... am I too obsessed with travel? Or is it withdrawal symptoms from work travel?

Thursday, September 06, 2012

My Flabber Was Ghasted

A couple of instances recently.

I went for a leg wax (I cannot do them myself and hate shaving) and it wasn't my usual beautician (I think the usual one knows we have adopted, but she is more restrained in her comments too). I mentioned that Mr Spouse was looking after the baby, and the beautician asked me a few other questions and then asked "so, how was the birth". I could not think what to say so I said "I don't really want to talk about it". I think she was also going to ask "so, how old are you?" but I deflected her with another question.

None of my mummy friends have asked me that outright (or even my age!). When the topic comes round to birth horrors, I just play with the baby or change the subject.

Yesterday I had lunch with a very good, very old friend who was one of our referees for Baby Spouse's home state (they require non-relative referees while all the other bodies require one to be a relative).  She was talking to another friend about people called Somethingson* which is her husband/kids' surname, and a family name in that friend's family. It's a fairly common name but the friend was keen to research families with that name. "Of course, D's father isn't a real Somethingson because he was adopted".

Speechless. As usual you think what you should have said later - it's not worth saying to her now but I wanted to say "but Baby Spouse is a real Spouse".

*names changed to protect those not present

Sunday, September 02, 2012

A conversation

I mentioned in my last post bumping into an old friend and finding out that she was adopted. I'll try to relay the essence of the conversation here - forgive me if it gets a bit garbled - but it was very interesting.

It turns out that she and her two younger brothers were adopted, and she was 5 when placed (I think when placed for adoption, rather than when first fostered, but I'm not sure). I think she said that they were separated in foster care and then adopted together, but because her brothers had more moves than she did, or possibly because she spent more time with her birth mother (that's her interpretation), she was able to form better relationships and to pull her life together when older. 

And she does indeed have her life more than together - she is a mum to two lovely children and has two separate qualifications - she was in a more technical occupation when younger and then switched to social work - and she used to work in adoption (I don't think she works in children's services any more). But by her account her brothers do not.

There were a few other things she said that stuck in my mind - we were discussing the US and UK adoption systems and what happens when a child would be removed at birth and the parents know this.  I was also explaining that we might consider concurrent placement (fostering with a view to adoption) and she said she'd prefer if all adoptive placements were actually long term fostering. I am not sure if she agrees with me (that children shouldn't be moved around) or if she thinks that permanency shouldn't necessarily mean adoption.

She also said, and actually I agree though it's a bit more complex than that, that it sounds like Nella very much had Baby Spouse's interests at heart when she decided to place him for adoption. Nella did not want him to be removed without any input on her part into who the parents would be, and she didn't want to risk him going through multiple foster placements. In fact, the risk of him being in multiple placements would have been greater had she been able to care for him temporarily at some point - so it now occurs to me that she put aside the possibility of her caring for him in order to achieve stability for her.

The complexity though comes when you see that she got a lot out of placing him, especially support from us, but also a more formal contact agreement (though still not enforceable) through Nice Little Agency, who I have no doubt explained to her their standard agreement.  We explained what contact we hope to have - and she was firm in saying (and good for her, as many adoption social workers don't seem to think like this) that we have to remember it is not about us or Nella, but about Baby Spouse.

But one thing that I think we agree on is that parenting Baby Spouse is not like parenting a birth child - as I said to her, I think my family in particular think that it is now all done and dusted, and we can carry on as if I gave birth to him.  We know we can't. Even if we never saw any members of his birth family again (which I have to say seems unlikely) it would not be the same.  

I must remember to keep her updated - I think she's one of the few of my contemporaries who really gets it - I do have a couple of friends who were adopted at birth, but in my generation those adoptees seem to divide into [COMPLETE STEREOTYPE ALERT] "don't really want to know much about birth family" even including "would be disloyal to adoptive family" or else "I was lied to all my life, my family life was a lie".  I really hope we don't end up either end of that spectrum.

Thursday, August 30, 2012


I forgot to say that our adoption was finalised about a week after I last wrote. I don't feel much different to be honest.

I have five minutes before the washing machine finishes and Baby Spouse is sitting in his high chair dropping toys. So this will be quick.

The washing is the 75th load after a very muddy festival experience. Baby Spouse has just learned to sit up on his own but can't yet crawl, so most of the mud was ours. We go to this festival every couple of years and saw lots of old friends and met some new. It was interesting to see how some people just say how gorgeous he is (no reference to adoption), others ask intelligent (or not) questions about the process, and others (new friends and those who were completely out of the loop) ask if we were at the festival the previous year (i.e. around 20 weeks gestation).

I had a very interesting, but very long, conversation with an old friend, which I will try to reproduce in full before I forget it.

I am hoping I will feel more "wow" about being a legal parent when we have our baptism and adoption celebration next month. However my mother is currently in another huff because we have the godparents and associated kids staying and we have said that she needs to find somewhere else to stay. She is too cheap to stay in a travelodge, and regards it as her right to stay at our house. We have told her it is not her business who sleeps at our house or where they sleep, as she seems to think we can squeeze her in a child bed in the baby's room.

And Mr Spouse has shown himself to be an expert in emotional blackmail by telling her we don't want to have to explain to Baby Spouse that his granny couldn't be bothered to come to his baptism so she isn't in the photos. He of course feels this particularly acutely because of losing his mother. Note that my father (long-pre-booked-travel) and brother (does not want to make another trip to the UK as he has just been here) aren't coming, in fact the only one of my 5 aunts and uncles and 11 cousins coming is the one who will be godparent (and their kids).

So although we have almost all of Mr Spouse's teeny family, and several friends, I don't have high hopes for feeling fabulously excited. But there will be cake. And a gown.

Thursday, August 09, 2012


The substitute for a court appearance to finalise Baby Spouse's adoption is a load of notarised paperwork (how surprising!). It's been to the relevant UK government department, back to us, and yesterday was FedExed to OHP, where it arrived today. Next stop is NLA-town, but as NLA can't deal with it, it will be going to Substitute Lawyer to take to court on an undetermined day. Will keep you posted.

Monday, August 06, 2012


We just (this minute) got an email from big brother's (and I may as well call him that for the minute as Baby Spouse is never going to have another big brother) adoptive mother (she calls herself that, though the social worker, Nella and birth grandparents have variously called her foster or adoptive mother). She sent two photos and says (and I agree) that they look very alike!

Now we have to chat about how much to tell her, what contact details to give her etc. We already told Nella and birth grandparents that we are fine with them showing her photos (most of our photos are prints, not emailed).

I nearly deleted the email actually as the subject was his first name, which is one of "those" names that are sometimes the subject of spam messages! 

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Wishing my life away

While waiting to be a mum, I found myself wondering what next year would hold, hoping we'd be parents by Christmas/Easter/summer/autumn. Like May, I found myself thinking "the next Olympics/conference/school year, we'll definitely be parents".  Not making plans for holidays or travel, in case we were pregnant/still pregnant/had a baby/a match.

Now I find myself making long term plans, including what we'll be doing on specific days next year, and these are also somewhat related to whether we will grow our family, but I am embracing it. Baby Spouse's nursery has quite rigid rules on taking holiday time, and we also want to schedule travel back to his birth state, hopefully seeing birth family, so we more or less know when our holiday will be taken next year (and I've decided where, but haven't persuaded Mr Spouse to book it yet).  

I'm also working on him to have my nieces to stay for a couple of weeks to practice for having more than one child (and also, whether we decide to adopt or foster, to persuade social workers that we can deal with sleeping problems [no 1] and extreme fussy eating [no 2] - as Baby Spouse so far is mainly completely laid back on both counts). And as I'm going to be working part time, and with things like Bank Holidays, my holiday time is almost all accounted for now.

And I'm very happy about that. Embracing it. In fact, I'm just going to check my preferred holiday venue for July 2013 is still free.

Our current uncertainty is, unfortunately, Mr Spouse's job situation. We are financially fine (we can't quite work out how, but a low interest rate = low mortgage payments, plus being generally stingy, we think), but he's nervous about what's going to happen, and we are still booking the nursery place for the days I'll work, for all our sakes.

In other news, I think I have said that Mr Spouse should be in the US finalising Baby Spouse's adoption this week, but our New Shiny Lawyer arranged for this not to happen (several thousand miles' travel for a 15 minute court appearance being rather wasteful).  We answered the same questions by deposition here this week, and they are on their way to Government Department from where we'll get them back next week and send them to Official Hague Person. I'll keep you posted.

P.S. Half an hour ago I left Baby Spouse with Mr Spouse to have a lie down, as I had a headache. He is now crying loudly (status: normal) in his high chair as his tea has not materialised as fast as he would like (i.e. 2 seconds before he got in the room). Although bottle feeds are more or less equally shared, I am slightly stressed, and Mr Spouse is trying to plead ignorance, about solids. The issue is not what to feed or whether Baby Spouse will take solids, it's just very very time consuming and messy, and ties us to the house more than previously. I am being a very bad mummy and leaving Mr Spouse to deal with this while I blog. He thinks I'm still lying down.

P.P.S. make that thought I was still lying down. He came upstairs for a nappy change just now. Busted.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Am I the only one here?

There are times in your life when you do something ordinary for a not very ordinary reason - sometimes not a very good reason.

You wonder if you are the only person doing this for that reason.

Am I the only person having an ultrasound to find out if my baby is dead?

Am I the only person having blood taken to find out if the ERPC worked?

Am I the only person who gets to talk about prenatal brain development to my students, while wondering how far my baby's development got?

Am I the only person asking my employer for annual leave not to sit on a beach, but to go to a frankly not massively exciting adoption preparation course?

Am I the only person sitting in this conference seminar on the latest research on prenatal drug exposure, wondering if I will need to know this for my child?

Are we the only parents with their baby in hospital who didn't give birth to the baby?

Am I the only person picking up prints of their nearly-7-month-old baby to send to his birth mother?

And are we the only family planning next year's holiday to visit their child's birth family.

But I'm happy about the last two. Though, as this will be our last set of monthly photos, I won't miss desperately trying to find the right number of suitable photos at the last minute. We take far too many arty (read: blurred, back view, naked) photos.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Someone has been reading the baby book

And it's not me.

Baby Spouse chose yesterday to roll all the way over for the first time. Today he's 6 months corrected. He's also decided that not all solids are truly disgusting - banana is particularly nice, as are rice cakes.

We were given What To Expect In The First Year, but it scared us so we gave it to the charity shop. It has about 1 million diseases in it. My friend whose baby was 8 weeks early said the other day they looked in it to find out what she should be doing, and immediately decided they shouldn't look in it any more.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

So, when you forget to blog...

Too much happens, and you can't blog, or you forget it all.

The News in Brief (not all good):

Baby Spouse is now six months and some transitions are happening (in his own room, holding and mouthing objects, banging), some kind of (rolling, which he did when tiny, but he got heavy, has partly come back, he is rocking on his tummy and arms), and some NOT - Mummy what is this horrible stuff you've put in my mouth Eewwww give me some MILK!

We had a monthly phone call with Nella and she did not sound as keen to talk as previously. We were due to cut down the frequency and I don't feel that she will object. This is a bit of a relief. Actually, it sounded like she was talking about someone else's child, which it hasn't before.

My mother has been in a major strop. She often sees things very negatively, but now is dragging up perceived slights from years ago. I think she has calmed down a bit, but both I and Mr Spouse are a bit bemused.

I still have bits and pieces of work to do, but unfortunately this is interpreted by some colleagues as meaning I can do anything they want as well. This is annoying me. I will book a babysitter (not always the free paternal one) for an important meeting, but not for an hour to create someone a reading list.

A former colleague - one of those people you click with after a short while, and keep up with on the Book of Face, had a baby boy about 2 weeks before Baby Spouse was born. On Wednesday he died, probably a cot death (SIDS). I am not sure I should even email her to offer support - I have a baby the same age as hers.

Sorry, I did say it wasn't all good.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


After a couple of recent posts and comments, and a few things on other people's blogs (and, to be fair, not on blogs but on scary message boards), I was interested to read these two posts:

Bumping into birth mum  

Gearing up for Father's Day

These present almost entirely opposing views of birth family contact - both families adopted their child from foster care, in both cases their child was removed against the birth parents' wishes, at around the same age, though neither have gone into detail about the issues that led to the removal (and I don't blame them, I won't be sharing that kind of detail here).  Thorn and her partner are both female, so their daughter has no dad in the house, but I am pretty sure if it had been their daughter's birth mother they had bumped into in similar circumstances the reaction would have been the same (i.e. it's not because he's the birth father and they don't have a father on the scene at all).

In both cases their child spent some time in foster care before the adoptive placement (so although it's much more common in the US, Thorn wasn't a foster carer immediately after birth family removal and therefore with ongoing contact with birth parents as part of that placement). Neither family has current direct contact with either birth parent, but it's really interesting (and you can read the followup on Thorn's blog) what the reaction in each case has been to an actual or potential chance encounter.

And yes, I do "know" (as in, speak to on the internet) US adopters from foster care who cut off all contact, or who are even more negative than Stix about contact (and please also see Emily's thoughtful comment on the previous post* on just this topic), but I just thought this was interesting, as the posts were about such similar things.

From our end, we've just printed out what may be our last monthly set of contact photos (I'm not too sure, we are not being monitored any more due to the issues with NLA and their SW, but we may be due another one) to send to Nella, but we still haven't any word whether the other SW has made any contact with Baby Spouse's BF.  The slight medical scare we had turned out to be nothing in particular, at least, nothing that needs treatment or that could be due to Nella's choices, just something to watch. 

We've just put up a photo tree in Baby Spouse's room (this kind of thing, just something we were given a while ago), and it has photos of us, him, his grandparents that he sees (i.e. my parents**), his grandmother that he met but doesn't see (Mr Spouse's mother) and Nella. Mr Spouse asked "what do we tell people when they ask who she is?" (thinking especially of the nosy cleaner) and I said "they are family members".  We will also probably put up nieces, godparents***, aunt, uncle, but haven't got them all printed out yet.

OK, that post is DEFINITELY long enough, and I'd love to hear from my original two bloggers and have them tell me what I've said wrong!

*Sorry about the use of the term "foster carer", by the way, it doesn't actually bother me, even at the moment Baby Spouse is technically in "private foster care" though we have a rather unusual status legally and we aren't sure if in the UK we are legally carers, guardians, or parents. But I don't think it would bother me even if we were doing foster care, I'm happy to say we are parentING a child even if we aren't their parents.

**Or not. Mother in strop, unable to accept any boundaries, and also in delusional state about everything I say, apparently, as she's just sent me a long email saying "you hate me because you won't let me do X, Y, Z" (no, we won't let her, some we can't, some we just don't want her to) but also "and you refuse to do A, B, C" which, erm, we haven't?

***Baptism/finalisation party booked for September!

Monday, June 11, 2012


...I don't understand the issues that UK adopters (i.e.those whose children were in foster care) have around contact with birth family, because Baby Spouse was not in his birth home after birth. And if you have frequent contact you are just a long term foster carer. I would love to be an advocate for open adoption but I think my views are just being dismissed.  Interestingly I think that a lot of US adopters from foster care have a lot more contact than we imagine we'll have.

We are Baby Spouse's parents. We cannot wish Nella and his birth father away, but we are not foster carers. We are permanent. We are here - she is not.  We want him to recognise her, to know who she is, to see where his features come from (though some of them will come from us, in the same way that couples who have been married for a long time come to look like each other). We don't want him to grow up with a fantasy that she is an heiress who would give him a fabulous life. We don't want him to suddenly decide to seek her out, without support, in his teens.

Nella is not a lovely college student who would have been perfectly capable of parenting, but decided not to. As you will have gathered, there were multiple issues and reasons she would not have been able to parent Baby Spouse. This is pretty common among the situations we were shown while we were waiting. We still think they should have contact and we resent the implication this makes us less his parents.

In other news, I had a GP visit with Baby Spouse today for a long-running but minor issue. I was a little puzzled by the nurse-practitioner's body language when starting to talk about what the issue might be. I understood a little more when she told me that the issue might be something originating before or at birth, and which I would have been vastly less likely to cause than someone in the situation that Nella was in.

You can see why I might not totally be on board with the idea that Baby Spouse has been unaffected by the circumstances surrounding his origins.

(It looks like I managed to press Publish after only writing a bit of this. Sorry)

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Kids say the darndest things...

I was at Brownies today and Mr Spouse brought Baby Spouse by to pick us up (as I have hurt my back and can't really walk or lift stuff).  One of the girls said "ooh yes, that's the baby you've adopted, isn't it". That's right. "Where did you find him" (very tempted to say - under the gooseberry bush). "Well, sweetie, sometimes babies' first mummies and daddies can't look after them, so then they have to find a new mummy and daddy". My other (very down to earth) Brownie asked "so, why do people have babies in the first place if they can't look after them?"
Why indeed.
Anyway I told her "sometimes people don't plan to have babies, and that is something you should perhaps ask your mummy and daddy".
I bet I'm going to be so popular.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

This is not a very exciting post

But I went shopping today in our nearest BIG city (just over an hour on the train) and I bought:

2 plates (to replace the top tier of a cake stand I sold on Ebay that broke - but our plan is not going to work. Boo)

1 tank top and 2 pairs running shorts for me (AA, I wear them as warm weather pyjamas, causing Mr Spouse great mirth)

2 bodysuits (onesies), one black and one bright green, as well as karate pants and a wrap top, for Baby Spouse (all AA, particularly pleased about the black onesie)

A salt grinder, a navy and green maxi dress, two size 6mo+ (HOW is this possible) grobags, a light green onesie and a romper with a lion on (TK Maxx)

6 more bodysuits and a London bus romper (Next)

4 bras and 2 swimsuits (Bravissimo)

But no shoes.

And I was home by 4.15. All made possible by the power of Dad in Charge. Plus he took baby out of the bedroom at 7.30 am and I went back to sleep.

We got a voicemail from Nella to say she needs to give us her new address (so, housing situation has as predicted not stayed stable but she still has a phone). Mr Spouse doesn't really like talking to her on the phone - it is true, she finds him a little hard to understand.

I told him that IF we adopt again and it's from the UK he should do this kind of call as his accent is easier for people from our region. He did not say No we are not adopting again.

Monday, May 21, 2012

And on a more positive note...

I had a witty title for this but it's gone...

Anyway, Baby Spouse continues to be delightful and one of the most wonderful things about this whole being a parent thing is just how besotted Mr Spouse is with Baby Spouse.  He said the other day he wasn't sure about having a tiny baby as they "just lie there all day and sleep". Even given how addicted to sleeping Baby Spouse is, he is a delight to be with and incredibly rewarding to interact with* and very very smiley.  Daddy is the funniest person in the world EVER, apart from Mummy.

Our social worker is also a big fan of Baby Spouse and loves coming for her visits to us because she gets to hold him (much older adopted children who are not sure who they are supposed to be parented by will try and sit on social workers' laps, and this is to be discouraged; slightly older adopted children who are firmly attached to Mummy and Daddy would be scared of her; but he's too young to mind yet).

He still naps quite a lot (he's napping now, and I should be making my lunch, but am blogging instead) but there are moments when you think "what can I do with him, he doesn't want to sit in his bouncy chair and I can only amuse him for about 2 minutes with a rattle and I'm not about to put the TV on for him" but thank goodness for parent and baby groups I say, as I've settled into a routine of going to a few of these and he loves looking at the other babies and parents, and he is at least calm when in the pushchair or sling going there. We have a weekly (but highly interruptible) routine, and I'm thinking of being brave and going for a day's shopping in The City on the train soon, which he should be OK about as he'll like going on the train and looking at the people.

I still have not told any of the parents that I've met through these groups that we are adopting him** and it has not yet happened that any of the parents I knew already have been to the same groups as me, but our church has just started organising one and several people at church know we are adopting him so it's only a matter of time.  

I have said to people that it's not the first thing I say about him but it's not a secret, but now I'm second guessing myself as perhaps I am deliberately keeping it quiet? There is one baby at the main group I go to who has a hearing impairment, and when people find that out, they always want to talk about it, not in a negative way, but it is natural and I am as nosy as the next person.

*Except when he wakes up at 4.45 am to whinge about how he's just woken up, but isn't hungry, but would like someone to do something please. And then goes back to sleep 20 minutes later but I don't.

**At the moment, we say "we are adopting him" because we have not yet adopted him finally. But I'm not sure what we'll say in the future. I incline towards "we adopted him when he was a baby" rather than "he is adopted". 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Worth repeating

I got an email today from a reader who is an adoptive parent. I won't share their name and I feel slightly bad sharing their comment but I really, really think this is information that needs to be out there in as many places as possible.

The reader says "I'm seeing lots of comments about him being quiet, not fussing, very little crying etc. I just wanted to share my thoughts with you. Attachment springs to mind. I'm not sure if you know much about attachment and if you do forgive me but if you don't it might be worth looking in to."

Short answer (and actually slightly rude): why is it bad for a baby to be quiet and not fuss? this sounds like something my mother would say! Baby Spouse is actually one of the happiest, sunniest babies that most people we know have ever met. And premature babies are often quiet and don't cry. That's what the NICU staff told us and I'll take their word over someone who hasn't had any newborns in the house (and that's not just rude because it's flippant but also because I know many UK adopters would love to adopt a newborn, but can't. So I am sorry).

Long answer: I am very very worried by what adopters are being told in their adoption preparation about attachment. I am not posting this to make people look ill-informed but in case I can help someone who has not had good information.

Background: this reader said she hadn't read back beyond January, so does not know that I teach people about children's development, and research children's development, for a living. So can be forgiven. But even while I'm off work, I can't help trying to make sure people are well-informed about children's development. The reader does know that Baby Spouse was a newborn when placed.

In our adoption preparation, the timescales of attachment were clearly gone through.  Infants first become properly "attached", in other words they know who their caregivers are and they miss them when they leave, at the earliest at about 6 months of age.  I won't copy and paste the Wikipedia article as that would be a bit pointless, but it is up to date on current research. We didn't go into attachment styles or attachment in adults at our prep course, as it isn't appropriate. The most important facts though, are those on early time scales, and those were strongly emphasised.

Irresponsible people point those in the adoption triad to the book The Primal Wound, which I won't link to.  The thesis of this book is that any separation, however early, disrupts adoption.  I've looked for articles in respected, peer reviewed* journals cite this book (as most of the citations of this book are by the author, a sure sign of a one-person theory) and did find this article in what is really the top journal in my field. From this article I quote:

"Mainstream adoption researchers and specialists
(Brinich, 1980; Brodzinsky et al., 1992; Nickman,
1985) do not believe that infant adoption constitutes
an immediate loss at placement that inevitably disrupts
early attachments."
Most other articles I could find were in minor journals I hadn't heard of, or in journals that don't deal with child development. 

I shouldn't be too surprised that some prep courses don't cover it properly, though, as at our adoption approval panel, one of the members asked us what we'd do if we had a child who had attachment difficulties. I was very well behaved and did not say "write a really famous paper overturning everything we know about attachment theory" but charitably assumed they had not read the bit saying we'd be adopting a baby a few days or weeks old.

Adoption involves loss, in the same way that death of a parent involves loss. But there's no evidence that adoption in the first few weeks or days involves disruption of attachment and there's no reason it should because attachment has not formed by then. I do see a lot of adopters writing on message boards that their child will be sad/will have a disrupted attachment because of moving to a foster home at birth. They may well be sad later in life when they know more about what happened to them. But they won't experience it at the time and neither will they experience a disruption to attachment since it hasn't happened yet.

Of course things that happen before birth affect children and of course genetics matter - both are important for Baby Spouse. And there is information in what we know about that that could lead to him being quiet, but which we aren't sharing.

But since attachment is formed in the first six months of life, this is when inconsistent caregiving can interfere with it. I hope we are consistent caregivers, but a fair few children who spend time in foster care in their first few months don't spend all their time in foster care, but shuttle back and forth to birth family, or between carers.  This is one major reason why the UK assumptions that children will go to foster care while their fate is decided, and then to an adoptive family, is bad for children. Children who spend long periods of time in hospital are also at risk of attachment problems, as although they have loving carers in hospital and at home, the carers are not consistent.

If you are interested in a readable and accurate account of the actual facts behind attachment (not the pseudo-facts behind the attachment parenting movement), I highly recommend Understanding Attachment by Jean Mercer.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Blank slate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, April 12, 2012


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

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

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

- Insomnia, which at times has been chronic.

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

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

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

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

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Brain dump

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Still here

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

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

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

Monday, March 26, 2012

12 weeks

Baby Spouse is 12 weeks old today - just under 9 weeks corrected.  This feels like a milestone, I think partly because of the whole 12 weeks of pregnancy before exhaling a little that I never got to, and partly because he has more jabs tomorrow (we have Calpol, we have also got a new medication pacifier as even administering Calpol in the middle of a feed didn't work too well last time).

Things I have done more of than I thought I would in the last 12 weeks:
Walking (not just because we don't drive much here, but because it's a good way to get out of the house without going mad - I'm a keen hiker and am looking out for buggy- and sling-friendly walks to do).
Drinking diet Coke and Pepsi Max - I think I must drink these a lot at work, or coffee from the convenient coffee bar 2 floors down from my office, and I only notice this now I'm at home a lot.
Reading work emails. 
Making stuff.
Cooking (partly because of Mr Spouse's complete lack of availability to pull his weight in all departments, which means we've prioritised him playing with and caring for Baby Spouse, and partly because there is very little in the way of takeaway available here, and we don't like ready meals).   

Things I have done less of than I thought:
Drinking coffee - I have managed to avoid making and drinking a second pot of coffee every day like I thought I would. Partly because of the soft drink habit, but also because I'm not completely shattered every single day.
Watching TV (I have done a lot, it has to be said, but most of that was done while I was still away).
Putting Baby Spouse in and out of the car seat (see above, but it's also been partly because I haven't run out of places to go that I don't need to drive to. I suspect I'm going to need to adjust the straps when I put him in next).

Things that have been about what I thought:
Running (except for the part where I had the worst sore throat in the history of throats, I have been out about once a week).
Going to the supermarket (I've managed to go either quickly in and out, or without Baby Spouse, or Mr Spouse has gone, or I've ordered on line. Hooray!)

I also seem to have developed some OCD habits which is very very unlike me.  Making up formula is something that's bound to involve little rituals, and there are some routines that, done wrong, mean you have to start again, but I seem to have extended this to things like making coffee, washing my hands, my morning bathroom routine, putting things away the minute I get in the house. It is a bit tidier than it normally is in our house. I'm not sure anyone else would really notice, though, or that it will remain that way.

You're probably much more interested in what Baby Spouse has done a lot of, or not much of. He is still a fairly good sleeper but we're hoping now might be the time to persuade him that his longest spell between night feeds could be longer than 4 hours.  He has had a couple of days when he's decided naps are for wimps, but he generally sleeps for at least half an hour between each of his daytime feeds.  His latest trick is waving his arms around randomly and then looking very excited when he sees his toys move. I am not completely convinced this is deliberate but I think deliberate batting is close and grasping can't be far away.  He's a good feeder but I think he's going down to around the 50th-60th centile for his corrected age. People still say "oh he's big for X weeks" meaning his chronological age, when he's actually around the 20th centile for that. He's generally a very polite baby and smacks his lips when he feels it is time for us to pay attention and provide food - including at night - but screaming is also in evidence, more than it used to be as well.

I had to ring the nursery where Baby Spouse will likely go in the autumn, to ask about registration, and I was a little sad. Almost as sad as when they said "he has to go to the NICU and if his breathing doesn't improve he'll have to stay a week". They asked if we'd been to look round and I had to confess I hadn't. I didn't say "because I'm in denial that he'll be ever going there".