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Monday, November 13, 2017

18 Months Waiting

This post covers our 18th month in the adoption process (from September 30th through November 10th). You can read all of our adoption related posts here!

 Lemon Treehouse 


Things Learned and Accomplished This Month:

It was a wild and crazy month but I'm so, so thankful for it. Timing couldn't have been better! After meeting Mama E we have a LULL period. Just waiting. And it's been a HUGE blessing for my anxiety and worries and help in speeding along the wait by having such a fun-filled month!

We went to Disney for Britt's birthday...


and turned around 4 days later and Zach and I flew to Hawaii!


After meeting with Mama E we texted a bit but it was tricky because my "reason for texting" in the past had been to work out setting up when we'd meet and it was hard to come up with "reasons" to be communicating with her. I struggled with it because I wanted to reach out more but didn't feel like she was wanting that. 

I did get the records from her first prenatal appointment (prior to this visit she'd gone to a free walk-in where they confirmed pregnancy and did the ultrasound revealing the sex). I'm so thankful to Stacy, my midwife. She's been there with me through all of my babies and is helping navigate this pregnancy as well! As we receive the records from the hospital she will review them and go over them with me. 

One random afternoon my phone rang and it was Mama E! It's funny because the thought of her being in labor didn't even cross my mind, I was just so in shock to see that she was calling. It was the first time in this journey that she reached out to me and it meant so much. She had just left a visit with the counselor that the lawyer provides for her. She said she told the counselor that she feels THE BEST about her decision in placing her baby for adoption whenever she talks to me and especially the day we met and were together. She said her hardest moments with the process are at the doctors appointments. She said the counselor recommended for her to reach out to me more and to ask me to come to drs appointments with her to help her be more comfortable at those appointments. 

Y'all. It was such a powerful talk. I cried. She cried. I feel exactly the same way she does, when we talk or text or have any sort of communication I just feel good. I feel like it's all meant to be and this is all going to work out. It meant so much to me that she feels that way and that she wanted me at appointments!

Of course her next appointment ended up falling when we were in Hawaii. Which broke my heart but she understood we'd already had set plans and she contacted me about the appointment right after it was over. 

It was her BIG appointment, the BIG ultrasound etc.  I have been putting off writing this post because we STILL don't have the records from that visit.  So. Annoying. But the lawyer said it's just how it goes. The hospital takes a LONG time to get everything together and sent over to them. As frustrating as it is, it's just part of the process. 

What I do know is that they had her come Friday Oct 13th for an ultrasound then that following Monday to review it. Which is frustrating for her to have to go back like that! They did the ultrasound and told her that her due date is December 12th

Yes. December 12th. 

Her original due date (that we've been planning on!) was November 16th! That's almost an entire MONTH difference. 

I do not understand how that'd even be physically possible. Everything I've read says to trust the earlier ultrasounds, not any later ones. From what I've heard when patients don't have prenatal care the provider goes off the most recent ultrasound so that's what they are doing. They don't have the records from the walk-in clinic ultrasound to compare so they are just going off what they can see and that is his current measurements. We are still assuming the Nov 16th is correct and that he will just be little, but who knows! Maybe the new one is right and we'll have a December baby. I just keep telling people that sometime between Halloween and Christmas he'll arrive haha!

That news def made me thankful we had gone ahead and gone to Hawaii! We almost didn't go because we were scared we'd miss his birth but we might have plenty of time left!

When we got home I got the SWEETEST surprise in the mail! Mama E had given the ultrasound to the lawyer and they sent it to me. So eager to see this precious face in person :) 


Once we got home from Hawaii we've been focused on baby prep and family fun! It's funny because we've walked this similar baby-prep timeline before. Britt was due Dec 11th! I had ALL our Christmas gifts wrapped and under the tree before Thanksgiving to be ready for her ;) 

Since we don't know for sure when Tab's real due date is, my goal was to be 100% ready to go by MY birthday which was Nov 1st. That didn't quite happen, but my new goal is to be 100% ready by the 13th :) If he came now though, we're ready enough for sure and would love for him to be born RIGHT NOW. BRING IT ON!

It's so fun having family traditions knowing our family will be complete the next time we do these things next year. I can't wait for that sweet boy at the pumpkin patch with us...


and to dress him up for Halloween. Everything we do he's in our thoughts and our hearts and we are just eager to have him in our arms forever!


Y'all know how important it is to me to treat all my babies as equally as I can and to make sure they each always know how special they are to our family. Every pregnancy we go to Carter's and pick out a coming home outfit for the baby. Since we've never known the sex of my pregnancies we always pick one boy outfit and one girl outfit and then return whichever one we don't use. It was SO FUN knowing the sex this time! It worked out great that Kye had a football game down by the outlets so we were able to go as a family to Carter's and do some shopping. 

The kids all decided they wanted to get Tab a little gift for when he's born and picked out a super soft teddy bear. We all agreed on his coming home outfit right when we saw it! It's so snuggly and adorable! Zach is so fun with stuff like this. It's funny b/c I'm ALL about deals but when we do go shopping together (which isn't very often) the deal side of myself goes out the window because I just love how he picks out things for the kids. I remember one time we were shopping when Britt was an infant and he saw these baby Nikes and was like "we HAVE to get these." I think they were like $20 and y'all know I'd never spend that especially on baby shoes but it was just too sweet to say no to ;) Same goes for this outing. It was just precious to me that he picked out little hats and socks in case Tab is in the NICU and that he was so excited about the outfits we found for him. It was a memory I will always cherish (and thank you Carters for having a lego table in your store so the kids had fun while we shopped!). 

I appreciate ALL the nicu recommendations y'all have been giving me! We got hats and socks and snap sleepers! I feel prepared but am also leaving tags on in hopes we don't need any of it ;) 


We talked about a gameplay for when Tab is born and when the other kids can meet him. I decided to go ahead and order sibling shirts. Either they can wear them at the hospital when they meet, or at a hotel room, or even at home! I'm probably just going to carry them all around with me until that moment is able to happen ;) HUGE thanks to Magically Made Tees for the cute shirts! I struggled super hard to find sibling shirts for so many siblings. A lot of them said stuff like "best big sister" and I don't like that because he'll have TWO big sisters. And a lot of the older sibling stuff is for toddler sizes and not in the sizes that Kye and Britt wear. So thankful to have the option of custom shirts!


I also busted out my Babywise! Gotta have the refresher!!!


We got ALL the baby things down from the attic and Zach has been busy busy putting everything together. It's so fun seeing all these items throughout our house. Just sitting and waiting on the baby to use them. It's a constant reminder to pray for Tab and has been a great way to kinda prep Tess a bit. I'm nervous about how she'll do since it is so different than if a baby was in my belly. So seeing all these baby things has helped her a TON. She constantly talks about her baby brother coming and how he will be here soon. She's going to do great!


My big thing this month has been trying to figure out PACKING. I have been completing what we still need the best I can. I'm all about using the registry completion coupons wisely! I'm also trying to figure out what I really need to bring vs what I don't. 

There are just SO MANY UNKNOWNS. Will he be in NICU? How long? How long will ICPC stay be? I decided to break it down and make it as simple as I could. 

First I packed a diaper bag for him like I normally would when I'm pregnant. Anticipating just a couple nights in the hospital. I packed things like his baby book, a couple cute onesies and hats, swaddle blankets, burp rags, etc. 

Then I packed a smaller diaper bag with extra items for a nicu stay. From what I've read the only real things I'd need to bring are some snap sleepers, cute hats and socks, some pictures to tape on his crib, and a wrap for baby wearing. 

Finally I packed for ICPC. In a best case scenario Tab will be born, have just a couple days in the hospital then be discharged for ICPC. In that ideal situation I probably won't come home at ALL. If he's in NICU then we will probably trade off some (so Zach and I will both have bonding time with him) so I can come home and wash things, bring items back, etc. I figured it was smart to pack for the best case scenario and assume I won't come home so that way I'll be best prepared.

For ICPC I packed a good bit of stuff: diapers, formula, bassinet, video monitor, sound machine, clothes, baby wash, towel, sleepers, swaddles, bottles, etc. All of this will just stay in the car for the hospital stay portion of things but will be ready to get settled wherever we end up during ICPC (and duh I packed some Mickey Mouse onesies just in cassssse we end up near Disney). 


I appreciate ALL the advice and help SO SO MUCH. I especially appreciate the bottle input! Keeli was so sweet to let me borrow several types of bottles so I plan to try different ones out with him but a friend told me that the bottles they use at the hospital have nipples that fit the Medela bottles. I'm super hopeful that I can just use the TONS of Medela bottles I already have! 

I got down the nursing stuff to get the bottles out and it did make me sad. I'm so interested to see how I feel feeding a baby from a bottle rather than my breast. It's going to be SO different for me and I'm curious if it will have an emotional effect at all either. I'm SO thankful for the many friends who have reached out with potential breastmilk donations. Our goal is a bottle a day but man it'd be awesome to have enough to do even more than that! We are so thankful for the opportunity to give our baby that liquid gold :) 


We are really pretty much done with the nursery. There were some issues with the custom crib skirt I'd ordered so we're waiting on that to come in and waiting to finish up the puzzle and frame that then we are DONE!


On top of everything else going on...I felt super hormonal. And noticed my chest looked fuller. And had some spotting a week prior to my "aunt flow" due date. Y'all I about freaked. I got a test and did some math and realized if I was pregnant we'd have two babies less than 8 months apart. Insane. It's so funny when you have a pregnancy scare because you can't help but to feel extremely excited even if it's TOTALLY not in the plan. Don't get me wrong, I had all the Publix people at check out saying some prayers that it was negative and I was very relieved to see that negative result the next morning, but any negative test is always a little disappointing too. It kinda brought up the emotions of realizing I'll never want to see a positive test again. The phase of life of TTC is done and over and even though I know it's right for our family, it's still sad! 

It was also interesting to me to be having so many pregnancy-type symptoms and not be pregnant. I talked to a few friends about it and it's a legit thing when it comes to adopting. Preparing for a baby, anxiously waiting his arrival, my mind and body start to respond to that! I have even had some pretty legit cravings too! 



Once I got back from Hawaii I called Mama E to check in and catch up with her. I was struggling a good bit just feeling anxious and overwhelmed and scared. Anytime I talk with her I leave the conversation feeling better and I felt like I needed to do more than just talk to her, I needed to see her. I wanted to spend time with her and deepen our connection and knew it would help ME to feel better. 

When I called she answered and we had a good 30 min talk! It was VERY nice to catch up and to hear that she was hoping to see me again as well and really wanted me at her next dr appointment. The conversation brought me a lot of peace but also did add to my anxiety as she mentioned the birth dad. He had left town back early on in the pregnancy but showed back up while we were in Hawaii. 

From the legal standpoint our lawyer has done the due diligence in finding the father. They couldn't locate him so at this point he'd have to come forward and say he'd like to parent and then prove he's capable of it in order for it to be an issue. I'm not concerned at ALL about that happening. He isn't involved in his other children's lives so I doubt he'll want to take on a new baby. My concern was mostly in that he may get back into Mama E's life and then influence her on changing her plan. This is an area where we just have to have that faith and trust. 

Mama E said she kicked him out and that she wasn't going to be involved with him again. I pray for HER (as well as her girls and this baby and our family too) that she's able to stay firm in that. He's not healthy for her and she is so excited for the plans she has for herself and her babies and I don't want to see him derailing those plans. 

I drove down to Jacksonville on Monday Nov 6th to pick up Mama E. We had her dr appointment and planed a girls day together with lunch and pedicures. 

I've said this many times before, but it is worth saying again. Adoption is one of those rare opportunities in life to fully feel EVERY single emotion. While our day together was wonderful, it was also extremely emotionally exhausting for me. To be mindful of her feelings, be mindful of everything I said, every reaction I had, every detail of our family that I divulged. It was a lot. 

I have said from the beginning of this journey that I have felt called to adopt in a way I've never felt called to do anything before in my life. Having that day with Mama E really made me realize just how called I am. I was meant for this role. Yes it was hard, but I saw the ways in which God prepared me for it and how the personality I have meshes so well in this circumstance. This is my path. It's not something that I think everyone is called to do, but I am confident that it's exactly what I am meant to do. 

I picked her up where she's staying and took her to the appointment. Let me just say the entire day was so eye opening to HER experience in all of this. I'm so thankful for the opportunity to better understand her perspective on things. Her appointment was at the actual hospital and it was just SO different from my obgyn visits. The staff was rude and distant. It was a LOT of waiting and a very brief visit. Things weren't well explained to her. She said during one of her appointments the provider kept forgetting she planned on adoption and kept saying really insensitive things about care for the baby after birth and that it really upset her. She told me too that she often has to take the bus to the appointments and that it'll take her 2 hours to get there. I thanked her over and over for going to these appointments because I realized that she's truly doing this for US. She's not used to these types of visits as she hadn't had prenatal care with her prior pregnancies so this is a lot for her to do and to have to have child care for her other kids and especially without transportation. 

My being there was a lot of support for her and it allowed me to hear things firsthand from the doctor rather than waiting (NOW OVER A MONTH!) for the reports from the visit. I was very focused on Mama E during the visit. I was there to support HER. She's Tab's mama. Not me. Not yet. I tried to be extremely respectful of that and didn't ask questions or request anything. When the flu shot and tdap were discussed I did offer up my advice and I think my being there did help Mama E in her decision to receive the vaccines. But otherwise I just let her do her thing and tried to keep the mood light and happy. Several times the provider asked if Mama E wanted me to leave the room and she said no every time. It meant so much to me that she has that comfort level with me and that she wanted me there. 

We got some lunch together after and had a MEGA fancy pedicure! It was so nice and just a great opportunity to talk with her more and get to know her better and strengthen the bond we already share. In a way being with her is like a "sliding doors" experience. We may live totally different lives but we are very much alike. We are both open and comfortable talking about ourselves and sharing our stories. It makes it SO easy to talk with her because I know she's just as open as I am. 

It was hard seeing all the strangers talk to her about her pregnancy. She's for SURE pregnant looking so people don't hesitate to make comments. It made my heart break for her to know how hard that must be to constantly be asked. She told me that often times people are very rude regarding her plan to adopt. Which I understand because we've had our fair share of rudeness too. Which is CR-AZY to me. Nope, we're not "buying a baby" and NOPE we're not adopting just because we wanted to make sure we'd have a boy. UGH. From her side of things she has people saying she's choosing this path just for the money and that hurts her heart. We shared with each other the rude stuff people say and think and the judgements they make when they really just have no idea at the calling this path is for us both. 

We talked a good bit about the plans and she said she WANTS me in the delivery room and that she's good with Zach even being in there if he'd like to be. She would like us to have our own room at the hospital and for the baby to room with us. These are such HUGE blessings and things we are so grateful for. She seemed very confident in her adoption plan at this point. She talked openly about it all and we even talked about how confident she feels. Her plan longterm is no relationship. She'd like to keep that door open so Tab will be able to find her if he ever would like to and so all the siblings can reach each other if they'd like to, but she doesn't want anything more than that for now. She's so appreciative of our openness and I truly mean it when I say we're ALWAYS going to be here for her. She's part of our family now and I always want her to know that I'm rooting for her and am on her team. I can't fathom that moment in the delivery room, it'll be such a joyful moment for us but equally heartbreaking for her. I'm so honored that she wants me there beside her and I pray I'm able to be exactly what she needs during that sensitive time. 

My plan is to attend all remaining appointments with her (the next one is tomorrow which will be a non stress test and ultrasound!). While it's tough to have to ask for childcare knowing we'll need to ask for so much help once he arrives, it's important that I'm there. It's important for Mama E but it's equally important for Tab! While I'm doing my best at respecting the fact that she's his mama, I also want to make sure I'm his advocate too and am honored that Mama E looks up to me the way she does and am thankful I'm able to help guide her in decision making regarding his care. 

I got home from our day together to this text. I will keep it FOREVER! I also did get a photo of us together. I'm hopeful she'll be comfortable to take some at the hospital when he's born but if not I'm glad I have one of us to be able to show him someday :) 


This week I'm supposed to chat with the lawyers about a set hospital plan. They emailed me a rough layout of things and it all lined up with what Mama E had already told me in person. Mama E will be able to sign over her parental rights 48 hours after he is born. Her signature also takes care of the birth father since they weren't ever able to locate him. I know those 48 hours are going to be SO tough emotionally while we bond with him and wait. Another moment of just having to have that full faith for SURE. 

Zach and I discussed it in length and since Tab will room in with us and since we do feel that Mama E is confident in her plan, we will most likely have the kids come down soon after he is born so they can meet him. I plan to discuss it with Mama E tomorrow to make sure she's comfortable with that. But Lindsay helped me find an AWESOME photographer down in Jacksonville (Alex Michele Photography) and we are hoping she'll be there when the kids meet him for the first time. Ideally we'd love for their first meeting with him to be after the rights are signed over, but since it's a 48 hour wait and since we have a high possibility of NICU stay...we may just try to rush so they can meet him as we'd rather them get to meet him prior to NICU rather than having to wait until discharge. But that is plan b if needed! Alex Michele has been super sweet and understanding and if the kids aren't able to meet him prior to NICU then we'll make arrangements after he is discharged for them to meet and for us to capture that special moment with her ;) 

I'm not really sure about photos during delivery? I plan to feel Mama E out about that as well. Obviously we wouldn't ask to have a photographer in the room like I always did but I'd at least like to have our cell phones and get photos of our first time meeting him and of me cutting the cord. I mean how awesome will that experience be? If others have adopted, have you gotten photos of those moments?

At this point I'm finishing up getting fully ready! Since she will have weekly visits now for the dr until he's born I may switch over to doing weekly updates. We'll see. I'm really almost fully ready to go so I know the days are going to start draggggggging while we wait for his arrival!

Financial: Thank you to everyone who has purchased a puzzle piece! You can see Tab's name hints here! We still have a good way to go before the name will be revealed...just a reminder that this a fun way to fundraise for our adoption costs (specially travel related costs) and will be hung in his room. Each piece is $7 and will have your name on it as a way to show Tab just how many people helped bring him home to us! If more than one piece is purchased be sure to leave a note letting me know what you'd like your message to say on the puzzle. If you'd like to purchase a piece you can do so here! 

With the possible Dec 12th due date we may have more time to get his name revealed! 






Encouragement:

I'm so blessed with so many people who love and support us. This is not an easy journey and I know it's made me have many highs and lows and my friends are so patient with me and my emotional rollercoaster self ;) 

We had SUCH a fun time at my friends shower for Tab! Katie, Robyn and Casey did a great job making it so special and it was so neat having a shower KNOWING the sex of the baby! I've always had gender neutral showers. HUGE thanks too to Magically Made Tees for my adoption shirt ;) I love it! Post to come with all the shower details. Tab is so loved  by so many and having true friends who have walked this whole journey beside me means so much! 



Mema surprised us with this PRECIOUS quilt. It looks perfect in Tab's room over his chair and I can't wait to use it for his monthly photos! She made it for him and the love and care put into it mean so much to us. What a wonderful, thoughtful gift!



We got together with Zach's family for my birthday and it was one of those moments where I felt like God knew what I needed right when I needed it. Big Daddy is just such a precious person in my life and it's like he KNEW I was needing some extra special attention. Not only did he come to my little party but he sat right by me the whole time and just doted on me. He handed me each gift to open and then sat and talked with me for a long time. He asked tons of questions about the adoption process. Which I LOVED. So often people don't say ANYTHING which is really hurtful. Sure, I'm not pregnant. I don't have the big belly to show for it but we are having a baby and seeing his true joy and excitement meant THE WORLD to me. Especially with this being an adoptive boy who will carry on the family Parker name. I have no doubt that Big Daddy will be just as proud of this great grandson as he is of Kye (and his others too). I just adore Big Daddy and am so thankful for him. 


It's also been so neat to see how God provides in the most unexpected places. Y'all know I've never been super pumped for Kye to play football but he got put on a team with some great kids who have really awesome mamas. My football mom tribe has been such a great support during this month of high anxiety for me. I'm thankful for their prayers and their eagerness to know about everything going on with Tab. I'm blessed beyond measure with so many wonderful, supportive friendships!

I also want to add how appreciative I am of my sweet friend Elaine. Hopefully we'll have a photo together SOON but she's walked this path multiple times and has been THE best resource for me. Not only in help and guidance on this journey but also in just emotional support and understanding!


Goals for This Month:
  • HAVE A BABY haha!
  • Get the rest of my things completely packed and ready
  • Have a solid list of last minute things to grab
  • Write a letter to Mama E and Tab
  • Prep blog posts 
  • Wrap gifts
  • Spend as much quality time as a family during our wait!
How You Can Help:
  • We'd love any breastmilk donations! Thank you to those who have already reached out, we're eager to have a freezer full of milk for our sweet boy! 
  • If you have any hook ups with ICPC options for our family (we can stay anywhere in Florida) please let me know!
  • If you live near the Jax area and wouldn't mind some company also let me know :) 
  • If you'd like to guest post on my blog then please let me know too: journeyofphood@gmail.com
Prayer Requests:
  • Please, please pray that sweet Tab has a smooth transition into this world and that minimal, or no, NICU stay is needed for him. The reality of this is really starting to set in and honestly I'm just so scared. I believe in the power of prayer and appreciate so much those who are lifting him up!
  • Continue to pray that the birth father isn't an issue. 
  • Pray for me. This wait is HARD. It's harder than the wait at the end of pregnancy by a LONG shot. Whew. My emotions are everywhere. My anxiety is high. I trust in God. I trust His plan but that doesn't mean I'm not anxious at the same time. I'm just so READY and eager. At the same time pray that I'm able to be the support system Mama E needs for me to be. I want to be there for her, I know everything I'm feeling she's feeling 100x over. I want her to feel that love and support and I'm praying Zach and I are able to be a positive Christian influence in her life. 
  • Pray for Mama E. Pray for her emotional and physical state. Pray that she remains committed to this decision and this plan. 
I know this post was long overdue and I appreciate everyone reaching out and checking in. I've put it off for a long time in hopes of having those dr records and also just because these posts are hard to write. I want to be mindful of being politically correct in my adoption terminology and true to myself while also keeping Mama E's and Tab's stories private. It's tricky. I'm just truly so ready for him to be HERE and in OUR arms. I'm ready for all the unknowns (his health? nicu? her signing?) I'm ready for the next phase of life where he IS adopted. Where adoption no longer really is a topic because it's just the beginning of his journey. I'm ready to feel like he's OUR baby. I'm so eager for that moment and that phase of things. Waiting is hard. The faith is in the wait and, whew, don't I know it. Pray he's here SOON. Like now would be fabulous ;) 
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