Wednesday, May 20, 2009

How My Arms Have Hungered for This

There is nothing quite as sweet as holding a newborn baby in your arms, especially when that baby is yours. Before I met Charlie, I knew I would love my children...I just had no idea how very much I would love them. In only three short weeks, being a mother has transformed me.

To say that I no longer care about my own life would be inaccurate; however, I now care about my own life from a whole different perspective. Suddenly I feel I have so much more time in the grand scheme of things, because I've now achieved two of the most important life goals I ever will - marriage and motherhood.

I feel that if I can help Charlie grow up to be happy, healthy, and well adjusted, then I will have done well. I still have my own goals, hopes, dreams, and desires, but mostly they stem from a place of me wanting to be the best I can be for him.

To those of you still waiting--if you are reading these words, thank you. I know firsthand how very difficult it is to watch from the sidelines as other people fulfill the dream you hold so dear to your heart. Trust me (and bear with me) when I say it will all make sense when your time comes. I know that's the pat answer everyone gives, and I also know it doesn't soothe the wound while you wait, but it is completely true.

I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was meant to parent this child. Not any one of the dozens of others who crossed our path, but this precious boy. All my anger and bitterness has melted resentment is gone but never forgotten. I was becoming someone I didn't like towards the end of our wait--someone I didn't recognize, and now that wound is healing.

There is nothing I can say to quantify the feelings I have for our son. There simply are no words that can capture the beauty and awe that comes with being a mother for the first time. This child, this tiny little boy, has already enhanced our lives immeasurably, just by being who he is. I keep thinking about our future and all the wonderful firsts we will get to experience with him. I can't really fathom what that will be like, but I feel tremendously fortunate to have been given this gift.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Planting Charlie's Roots

More than ten years ago, I read a Barbra Kingsolver novel in which the family practiced the tradition of burying the umbilical cord stumps of their newborn babies under a newly planted tree. For some reason, that resonated deeply within me, and I have remembered it ever since. For years, I have had this idea tucked away in the back of my mind as something I would like to do with my children.

I don't know, (and can't find) what the real tradition is, or from which culture it originates, but to me, this is symbolic of us planting Charlie's roots. Especially given the details of the way our son came to us, I feel this is one way we can honor his beginnings. To me it simply didn't feel right to throw away his umbilical cord stump - his final connection to the woman who gave him life. Instead, we planted his "roots" under the new rose bush he gave me this year for my first Mother's Day.

I know that Charlie's life will take him all sorts of places, and indeed I hope our son will grow far from here throughout his lifetime. Our wish is not to hold him here, but rather to help him become the kind of man that knows he has roots deep in the love of home, so that he never forgets where he came from, and so he knows there is always a place to which he can return.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

How Long?

Just our of what age do you have to stop telling a little boy he's beautiful?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

My Husband as Daddy

I always knew Michael would be a great daddy, but he has far surpassed my expectations with Charlie! Watching him with our little boy makes me grin like a fool...usually I'm thankful he's looking at the baby, not at me. :)

He even changed the first diaper...his first diaper ever the day we picked Charlie up from the hospital. I've heard that some new dads have trouble bonding with their tiny babies because newborns seriously pretty much eat, poop, sleep, and repeat, which is not that exciting for dads. This has not been the case with Michael. He loves to hold the boy up close and talk to him. Charlie already turns his head to look when Michael talks.

Last night when he got home from work, Michael took Charlie from me. As he was holding his little boy, he said, "Oh you are one handsome little lad, yes you are." That made me smile, and made my heart melt a little.

Of the two of us, Michael was quite a bit more reluctant to turn the corner towards adoption, back when we made that momentous decision. I had to do my fair share of pushing to get him to come towards me. In fact, if it had been up to me alone, we would have started the process much sooner than we did. I think he had a lot of (typical) fears about whether or not he would be able to truly fall in love with a baby that wasn't biologically linked to us. The very first day we were with Charlie, I could see that was not going to be the case. I already knew that in theory, but you always have the little niggling voice in the back of your mind that wonders how it's really going to be once your time comes. I can honestly say that with Charlie, it was love at first sight for both of us.

I am amazed at how gentle Michael is with Charlie. I never thought my husband would worry that much about whether or not our baby pooped, or how much he was eating, but I get those questions every day.

One of the very first presents "Charlie" bought me was this really cool baby gadget called the Itzbeen. It's an electronic doodad that helps keep track of baby activities. We've used it a lot, especially in the middle of the night when neither of us knows which end is up.

Speaking of the middle of the night, that's the other thing...Michael is almost always awake before me when Charlie cries. He's always been a lighter sleeper than me, but still...I imagined that I would be the primary one to hear/worry about the baby in the wee hours, which hasn't been the case.

It's really been great. Michael and Charlie were both very thoughtful on Mother's Day. Michael says Charlie picked out all my gifts, which consisted of some new stepping stones for my garden, a lovely pink rose bush, a "herb garden in a pot" plant, and some cheesecake...which is my all-time favorite dessert. I'm pretty sure I could get used to this!

I've also learned new things about my hubby these past couple of weeks. Who knew that in Britain, snaps are called "pops," clothes pins are called clothes "pegs," diapers are called nappys, and pacifiers are called dummys? (which, BTW, is short for dummy tit, ha!)

Life is good and we are so happy and so blessed!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Charlie's Story

Our baby boy is two weeks old today. Already I'm feeling the time slipping through my fingers like sand. I am cherishing every single moment with him, but even so...some days I feel like I will never get enough. I've been contemplating what parts of Charlie's story I want to share on the blog, and exactly how to do that. It's important for me, as Charlie's mother, to realize that this is no longer just my story. This is now and always will be Charlie's story as well.

Our situation is somewhat unique in today's adoption world. Michael and I always assumed we would have an open relationship with Charlie's birth family; however, because our little boy came to us through the "safe haven" laws of Michigan, that is not to be the case. I feel a little bit sad about this, but I also know that Charlie's birth mother loved him very much. I feel extremely compassionate and grateful towards her. I wish her peace and comfort through what must be a very difficult time in her life.

Before being matched, I heard all the time that our baby would come to us "when the time was right," or when it was "meant to be." As you all know, those things are not easy to hear when you're waiting...but looking at the situation from this side of the fence, I can say they were absolutely true. Charlie's timing in our lives could not have been more perfect!

For one thing, you all know about my April "due date" on our baby registry. As it turns out, I was just a couple weeks premature with my prediction! I've also always had very strong "boy" vibes throughout this whole process. Maybe it was mother's intuition? Here are a few more reasons why I can now see that Charlie was 100% meant to be our precious little boy:

  • We got "the call" when most of my family was right there with us.
  • We waited exactly nine months and one week for our baby to find us.
  • Even though we weren't physically ready for baby, I sort of always imagined it would happen the way it did. Even though it was a whirlwind like nothing I've ever experienced before, I like the fact that we didn't have to wait long between THE CALL and placement.
  • Our baby was born 12 days before Mother's Day
  • Charlie is the fourth grandchild for my parents, now there are two boys and two girls.
  • My sisters two youngest children are close to Charlie's age. Ava is two and Lydia is five months old. My sisters and I have always wanted to raise children together, and now that dream is coming true!
  • I just had a (difficult) conversation with my younger sister about how it would be really hard for me if she got pregnant before we were matched. She even said if that happened, her pregnancy would be one part thrilling and one part heartbreaking. Now neither of us have to worry about that! {Holly if you're reading this, bring on the babies!!}
  • I just finished one of the craziest semesters in my entire college career! I will now have four months to spend with our baby before any alternative care arrangements will need to be made.
  • Since the beginning of our relationship, 13 has been our lucky number. Charlie boy is the 13th member of our immediate family.
  • About three months ago, we saved up the last big chunk of our adoption fund - just in time!
  • I have lots of friends who have little ones within a year of Charlie, or who will be having little ones very soon (Rebekah!) so our baby boy will have play mates!
So far, with a little less than two weeks under my belt, I can say that motherhood fits me like a glove. I always knew I would love being a mom, but this is better than I ever imagined. Every time I look at my little boy, I fall in love with him all over again...he really is my dream come true!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Ten Years...

I have waited for this day, my very first mother's day for ten years! Granted, those first few years weren't a big deal because we were young with our whole lives ahead of us. We would have loved children then, but we didn't have to have them, if that makes any sense. Then came the infertility years - not a time I will ever forget, or that I would wish on anyone. Finally we turned the corner to adoption, and all of you know our story from there.

Our son had amazing timing in our lives, not the least of which was his arrival only 12 short days before mother's day. I feel so incredibly blessed today. Just the privilege of holding him close and smelling his tiny baby smell. Looking into his eyes, and knowing that he is beginning to memorize my face. He is beginning to know that I am his mommy. There is no greater feeling on this Earth. Of course, with this great joy also comes feelings of sadness for Charlie's birthmom. Even though I don't have a face or a name for her, she feels close to my heart today. I know that no matter what the situation, today must be hard for her, and that makes me sad.

I have also been grappling today with what to say to those of you who I know are still waiting, or who are currently living through some of your own personal low points. I remember only a couple of weeks ago, talking to my sister about how I was dreading yet another mother's day where I had to feel torn between celebrating my own mom, and feeling bereft of my own children. What a difference a few days can make, but I know how hard mother's day can be.

I know what it's like. I know how it feels to think your time is never going to come, and to really believe that on some level. I know what it's like to read mommy blogs and feel happiness for a new mom, tinged with sadness for yourself. The thing is, I don't have the words. There is nothing I can say to any of you, and I know that. I guess I just want you to know, that's all. To know that I haven't forgotten...and I won't forget that part of my journey. You are all in my thoughts and prayers today, and I'm wishing you peace.

Saturday, May 9, 2009


I thought this was funny the first time I saw it, but now that I have my own little Charlie, it's reached a whole new level...enjoy!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Mamma Bear

So today is one week since I first laid eyes on my precious little boy. He is perfect. He is everything I've ever imagined and then some. He is my dream come true.

This has been a very busy week with lots of visitors for Charlie, and outings almost every day as well. On Wednesday, I think the outings were a bit too much, and I felt my inner Mamma Bear coming out. Micheal had to go to work for the first time since Charlie's homecoming, so I took him over to have lunch with Daddy. I was honored and overjoyed, but also a tad surprised by the overwhelming response from everyone. Apparently, my son already has a reputation around town, and news of his presence in the office spread very quickly.

Overall I really enjoyed letting him meet people that have worked with his daddy all these years, it was just that I felt a little...what's the word...overprotective of him. Everyone was very respectful of our space, and of Charlie, so that wasn't an issue...I think it was just the magnitude of the whole experience that left me feeling teary. I left there feeling awed that all these people were actually fawning over OUR son. I have wanted that for so long, and now it's happening. My sister's are planning a baby shower for me, it will be on June 13. I have waited for MY baby shower for so many years now...

There have also been other experiences with Charlie - with strangers, or people I don't know as well where I have felt very defensive. I'm talking, I would lay down and die for you kind of protective. Comments have been made that make my claws come out. One woman in WalMart asked, "Can I have him?" and I was very firm in my response to THAT question. I knew I would feel this way to an extent, but I didn't expect quite this magnitude of emotions to be so immediate.

I have so many posts in my mind. So many things I want and need to tell you all about. For a few days I was running on adrenaline and doing it all, but these last few have caused me to slow down quite a bit. I'm finally learning to sleep when he sleeps, although that's still not easy for me.

More to come...

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Parenting Books - A Blessing and a Curse

I've been alternately reading both Your Baby's First Year Week by Week, and What to Expect the First Year and it's so interesting (and frustrating) to me how there is so much contradictory information out there!

I study child development - it's what I do. I still have some to learn, but I have taken A LOT of classes about babies, toddlers, children, and their care. So far I have found at least three things that, based on my knowledge, I believe to be blatantly wrong, or things that were directly in opposition to what Charlie's pediatrician told us. I'm actually writing my own thoughts in the books as I go along - correcting what I think is wrong and keeping track.

I don't even have that much more to say about this, it's just another observation from a new mommy.

Monday, May 4, 2009

A Member of the Club

It's finally happened...people are giving me unsolicited advice, lecturing me, and best of me their BABY STUFF!! I am a MOM, and I actually feel like a MOM...this is the time of my life, and I am thrilled, despite being completely overwhelmed and exhausted!

I have an amazing new friend, Karen. I actually only met her this semester at school, but I feel as though I've known her MUCH longer than that. Tonight I went to class to take my last exam of the semester. Karen brought me her (luxurious) baby swing, a bag of baby clothes, and a thermometer. *Wow!*

My baby went to his very first doctor's appointment this afternoon, and after the exam, the doc said, "He looks perfect." Music to my ears! We have a busy week this week - our first post placement visit with the agency will be Thursday, and then another doctor's appointment on Friday. Oh, and I think my sister and I are going to go to Target so I can properly register on Wednesday. Whew...but I am loving all of it, and Charlie is (so far, let's hope it continues!) one laid back little man. He does get mad when he's naked, or when he's ready to eat, but other than that he is chill. I am so in love...more pictures will be coming soon!

Much love to all of amazingly fabulous blogging buddies!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

A Mother's Love...

...requires no words.

When Love Rushes in

All of you who have preceded me to motherhood told me it would happen, but I only sort of believed it in theory. I truly did not expect to fall so instantaneously in love with one little person. I didn't expect (though I "knew") that all of the pain and longing I have felt all these years would simply melt away the moment his eyes met mine.

We just recently got Charlie to quiet down again after our first real experience with him crying-crying. It really upset me to see him so out of sorts. I know pretty much all the baby soothing tricks in the book, but I completely forgot every single one of them as I was trying to calm him. Thankfully, his crying spell didn't last long, and we were able to problem solve and help him relax, but man...that was intense! He is sleeping soundly in Daddy's arms once again as I type this.

So much has happened in so short a time, ideas and thoughts, and memories are swimming around in my mind. I have so much to do, and there are so many tiny stories I want to tell all of you. I am overwhelmed beyond measure. The outpouring of love and support I have received in response to our news about Charlie has humbled me.

As I was holding my baby boy just now, right after he had fallen back asleep, I wrote him a poem--or maybe these are a few different poems, I'm not really sure. I feel a little self conscious about posting these here - I really don't think of myself as poetic in the slightest. Still, I need to remember all of this, and I do want to share my thoughts.

When Love Rushes in

As my tears whetted
your tiny baby cheeks
I sang you a lullaby

In a moment so divine
your eyes found mine

it was then that I knew...
moments like these are special and few

Your brown skin next to my cream
I'm afraid I'm going to wake from this dream

There is nothing I can say to make you know
But little boy, I do love you so!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Call me crazy...

...and I'm sure this will wear off, but right at the moment, I absolutely love being woken up by the sound of a baby my baby boy crying!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Our Son...

We are proud to introduce our baby boy, Charlies Michael Emerson, AKA "Charlie." He was born Tuesday, April 28 at 1:15 p.m. He weighs six pounds, 12 ounces, and is 20 inches long. So far he is a very laid back, content little guy with a full head of dark hair. He makes a lot of funny little faces that we love to watch. We are loving him and holding him, and just getting to know our baby. We have never felt happier, or more overwhelmed! I am exhausted beyond belief, thrilled beyond belief, and 100% head over heels in love!

This is the first moment we laid eyes on him.

He is presently soundly asleep in his bassinet in our bedroom. His daddy is with him, protectively watching over him while Mommy uploads photos.

Following are several more of my favorite photos from today, our first day with our precious little one. We took over 200 photos, so I'm trying to be selective in the ones I choose to share. There is so much more to talk about, and so much more to post here, but I really just want to go hold my baby boy. I could look at him non-stop for the next 100 hours and still never have enough. My family is absolutely, unbelievably amazing. While we were at the hospital today, they decorated (and I do mean decorated) our nursery. It looks like something for which I would have paid A LOT of money!! Needless to say, there will be photos coming of this and more, but for tonight, I leave you with pictures of our precious baby boy!!