Of all of the things that I wish that Henry's birthmom could see about the life that Henry is having I wish that she could know what an extraordinary father she chose for him. I simply can not imagine that a better father exists anywhere (although my own dad is a close second!) To say that Henry adores his Dada would be an understatement on the grandest scale. I always imagined that DH would be a good dad, but like most things about parenthood, I really had no idea the depth of the love Henry's daddy would shower on him every day of his life. There is not a day that goes by that I don't thank my lucky stars that my beautiful boy has such an awesome dad. Happy Father's Day Honey!
Oh my what a whirlwind of celebrations we have had the last few weeks. I guess it all started with Henry's first Easter. It was a beautiful day and he loved waking up to a basket full of presents. Then we went over to Grandma & Grandpa's house for a whole new trove of presents! This was followed almost directly by Henry's 1st Birthday!!!
To say that I can't believe our boy is ONE would be an understatement. It was certainly a bittersweet occasion as we said goodbye to our little babe in arms and hello to our amazing little toddler who learns to say and do new things every day. We celebrated the occasion with not one but TWO parties for our little May flower. The first party was the day after his birthday this included family, neighbors and some close friends. Then we got to celebrate again with our playgroup with two of his other friends who were also turning one in May. That was really special since we have all been getting together weekly since September. The babies were only 4 and 5 months old then and now they have all blossomed into these amazing little people with distinct personalities. It makes me tear up to remember our first meet ups where we could all sit in a restaurant and hold our tiny little sleeping babies. Now we when we get together it is baby chaos - but in a good way! Oh and did I mention that Mother's Day was celebrated in there too!!
The following weekend we celebrated Henry's best friend Sammy's 1st birthday- another little May flower! This was also very special since these two guys have know each other since before they were born - well at least their mommy's and daddy's exchanged notes about them! And have been getting together since they were teeny. They also shared their adoption finalization day so we were so happy that we could share in this special occasion also.
As if this wasn't enough celebration for one little baby to handle, last Saturday we got on a plane and flew to Florida so Henry could meet his great-grandpa who also happens to be named Henry! This was a very special meeting and Henry made it even more special by taking his first steps while he was at his great-grandpa's! He is not what I would call "walking" yet, but he is taking a few steps here and there, although crawling is still his preferred mode of transportation! After our visit with great-grandpa we headed to Disney World for a few days. A grand time was had by all and Henry was really a trooper considering our days were crazy busy and his naps were few and far between. He was not the greatest sleeper while we were away and woke up at least once every night which was not enjoyed by his mommy and daddy. I am relieved to report however that since returning home he has gone back to sleeping his usual 7 to 7 and ironically his mommy and daddy are much more rested now that they are not on vacation anymore!
For Henry the highlights were probably riding the rides - he loved them and would be annoyed when they were over, and playing in the splash pool at the hotel. For his mommy and daddy the highlight was probably getting to see all 4 generations of men together and of course just being a family on vacation. Something we dreamed of for years and now here we are and I must say it was everything we thought it would be and more!
I know it has been a long time since I have posted anything and I will definitely try to do better - but as you can see we have been a little busy....
A year ago today I woke up like any other morning to go to work. It was a beautiful spring day, that I remember clearly. But my mood and attitude did not reflect the gorgeous weather. Our car was in the shop for the millionth time so that was making me a little grumpy, but mostly the thing that made me feel down was that we had no idea when or if we would ever have a baby. It was kind of crummy day at work. I remember sitting on the picnic table outside at work and crying to one of my dear friends about a very minor disagreement I had with another colleague. I remember her asking "what are you really upset about?" I can't really remember what I said but of course now I know I was upset because I felt like nothing was working out the way it should. My beloved school was closing and I was losing my job as a teacher. I had always felt like I was born to be a mother and my body had failed me. It felt like too much.
Then everything changed in an instant. It was one of those perfectly warm spring evenings and DH and I were sitting out on our back deck when my cell phone rang and it was our social worker saying that an amazing young woman had chosen us to be the parents of her baby. Exactly two weeks later we would be holding our beautiful baby boy for the first time, and one year later we find ourselves planning for a first birthday party to celebrate the most wonderful year of our lives.
You could argue that my life is not completely perfect. There is still uncertainty in my life as far as my career goes. Should I go back to work? Should I stay home another year, or perhaps more to the point can I even get a job to go back too? A year ago this kind of an unsettled future would have made me nuts. I would have worried and obsessed about not have a clear plan going forward. I was talking about this with my friend yesterday and she commented (in a somewhat surprised tone) that I seemed at peace with either option. I suddenly realized that this was true. My fried who I was talking too is perhaps my oldest and dearest friend. (She's my Gayle - for all of you Oprah watchers!) She knows that I have never been one to be at peace with uncertainty. But our journey to Henry has given me an inner peace and acceptance of things that I never thought I would have. I am happy NOW and that is enough for me. Whatever will be will be. I will keep my options open and know that sometimes the most unimaginably wonderful future is right around the corner.
Yesterday we took Henry in to take some valentine photos. As a result this post will mostly be a ridiculous number of photos. Henry was 100% not interested in smiling, but I still think they are pretty cute if I do say so myself!
It also happens that yesterday was Henrys 9 month birthday. Time just feels like it's whizzing by and I can't believe how big my boy is getting! He is making developmental leaps and bounds these days. He is still not quite crawling, but can get up on all fours and is able to scoot and pivot to get where he wants to go. He can now pull himself up to sitting in his crib, and I swear I think I saw him do it on the floor today but couldn't get him to do it again! He is also waving and pointing and making a whole new set of sounds in the da da da & la la la family. He continues to improve his clapping skills and will start clapping when you say pattycake, sing "if you are happy and you know it" or even if you just say "clap clap!" He is really getting into the groove of eating and has even become more tolerant of veggies.
What to do on another snowy icy day at home? For now it seems that Henry's favorite activity is playing with his baskets of books. He very methodically examines each book as he takes it out of the basket before moving onto the next one. Much to his delight he has finally figured out how to open and turn the pages on a few of the books, adding a whole other dimension to his book looking! Henry also loves to have Mommy and Daddy read to him, although it does not occupy him nearly as long as his own book exploring!
So much has happened since my last post that I get overwhelmed just thinking about all I should share. I have tons to say and share about Christmas and New Years but first thing is first. By far the most important thing that has happened to us is the finalization of Henry's adoption, making us legally and in every other way a family forever. It was quite a journey getting there however and I want to make sure that I get all of the details down now so that I will always be able to share this time with Henry, so if you don't want to wade all the way through the minutia I totally understand- really this is way more info that anybody would want and it's just for my record!
Henry's Adoption Day Adventure
Once we had our six month post placement visit in November we have been waiting on pins and needles for news of a court date. We hit one little snafu when we realized that all of our background checks had expired in October, but we quickly had them redone and once again all we could do was wait for news of a court date. As the weeks passed we debated about what to do about our holiday plans. Typically we spend Christmas in Michigan and we felt like this might be one of the last years it makes sense to do that since Henry is still oblivious to Santa and all that good stuff. So we finally decided that we would make plans to fly to Michigan and if necessary we would change them for the court date. We planned to be in Michigan from the 21st to the 28th and as we boarded the plane on the 21st to get to Michigan we both commented that we were glad we had gone ahead with our plans since it didn't appear we would be getting a date after all. On Thursday morning though I happened to be checking facebook and saw that our good friends who adopted their little boy about week after us from the same agency posted that they had a last minute court date scheduled for the 28th! We were so excited for them and couldn't help but wonder if we had one too! Sure enough buried in my e-mail which had gone unchecked for a couple of days while we were traveling was an message from our lawyer saying that we had a court date scheduled for Tuesday the 28th at 11:30 am.
Immediately we needed to change our tickets, and after explaining the situation to Delta they very kindly changed both of our tickets, to return home on Monday the 27th, even waiving the fee for changing the tickets. We were ecstatic. It seemed like we were going to be legally Henry's parents in 2010 after all! My mom has long said she wanted to be at the finalization too, in fact I remember when I asked her not to come for his birth since everything was still so uncertain at that point I told her she could come to the finalization, that this would the time to truly breathe easy and celebrate our family. So after doing some research she found a reasonable flight from Grand Rapids where she would join us in Detroit and we would all be on the same flight from Detroit to Philadelphia.
We just couldn't believe how great everything was turning out. It was a little surprising since typically, things don't go that smoothly for David and I....
Well anyhow on Sunday there was a GIGANTIC snowstorm on the east coast. Philly got around 10-12 inches and the NYC area was hit really hard getting around 2 feet. Also high winds so all airports shut down and flights cancelled like crazy. Our flight was set to leave early afternoon on Monday so we were worried but figured that by that time flights should be getting in and out of Philly so at worst we would be delayed.
Well the day started out ominously. We were delayed two hours in Lansing- which would give us barely enough time to catch our connector. Our one hope was that surely our connecting flight would be delayed also. When we got off the plane in Detroit they refused to give us the car seat portion of our stroller/car seat combo which we had gate checked, saying it had not be labeled properly in Lansing. While this was extremely infuriating after arguing a short time we felt we needed to run to hopefully get our next flight. While not having the stroller was an inconvenience in the airport, we knew that once we got to Philly our other car seat was in our car. This was just an extra car seat we have for travel so we were extremely annoyed but not too worried at that point.
When we made it to the gate they said the flight was delayed, but that the plane was here, they were just cleaning it and we would then be on our way so we should stick around. In fact David and I were thinking we would surely have a long delay so we went to get some food. We ended up abandoning our order when we got a call from my mom who said they were boarding the plane!! So we ran back to the gate only to hear moments later that we should disregard, the boarding announcement and that the flight had been CANCELLED and we should all go to gate blah blah in order to rebook our ticket. Well gate whatever proved to be a line of about 10 million people all being helped by one lowly Delta employee. After standing in line forever (maybe an hour and a half to two hours) we were told that there were no available flights to Philly until Thursday and in fact they wouldn't even re-book us that far ahead we would have to come back later to be rebooked probably not on a flight until Friday.
This was very discouraging news, but then again we had been thwarted in our family building efforts before and although it was a different kind of thing for sure we had learned the lesson that when things get tough the tough persevere. We debated renting a car and driving to Philly, about a 12 hour drive with good weather and very little stopping and we weren't sure of the weather etc. So I got on the phone to a ticketing agent finally and explained our situation and begged them to get us as close as they possibly could to Philly tonight. After checking everything the man I spoke to finally found a five-thirty flight to Pittsburgh that he would put us on standby for. He felt that unlike the flights to Philly there weren't that many people ahead of us on the stand-by list and we might actually get on the flight. Granted Pittsburgh is a six hour drive to Philadelphia but somehow six hours seemed more manageable. We decided we would fly to Pittsburgh rent a car, drive for a few hours, until we got really tired, get a few hours of sleep, get up early and drive the rest of the way. One other glitch in our plan had arisen earlier in the day when I was on the phone with our lawyer. She told us that we would need the original copy of our marriage license, not something we typically travel with, so we would have to go home and grab it. One more thing to worry about since neither David or I were 100% certain of it's exact location.
Well when we got to the gate of the Pittsburgh flight, the very grumpy unhelpful Delta employee told us that it was a full flight and we shouldn't expect to get a standby seat, and go sit down until the plane is boarded. We thought that this was it. Surely this was the end of the road and we just wouldn't make it. But- all of a sudden she came over handed us three tickets and away we went!! We were so happy!!! When my mom sat down in her seat some people who we had met while waiting and had heard our story actually applauded for her.
After a short flight we arrived in Pittsburgh tired but still slightly euphoric about getting on the flight. That feeling very quickly faded however when we went from one car rental stand to the next to find that each of them had a sign saying there were no cars left. Once again we figured this was the end of the road. No way were we going to make it. As David and I tried to figure out if there were any way we could take a greyhound bus, my mom suddenly managed to get us a car!!! Apparently she had seen someone on the phone with the rental company and suddenly she had a car, so she tried calling the 1800 number and sure enough they gave her a car reservation and she got us a car and luckily a car seat, since ours was on plane somewhere!
We finally started driving and got outside of Pittsburgh when it really started snowing. By this time is was almost 10:00 we were exhausted and figured that we would just pull off get a hotel and get up really early to make it home. So we pulled into a Hampton Inn David hit the vending machine for the first meal of our day. An apple pie and some cheese crackers. Yummy. I washed out Henry's bottles the best I could and we collapsed into bed with the knowledge that we only had two diapers left! The next morning we hit the road at 5:00 am and it was snowing and blowing hard still. But David drove white knuckled until we finally made it out of the mountains and the snow stopped. In fact it wasn't until we were actually in Philly that we saw anymore snow. We pulled into Philly about 10:00 David dropped us off since parking on our street after a major snowstorm is kind of a disaster. I ran in to find the marriage license which luckily was right where I thought it would be. My mom changed Henry into his cute outfit and the rest of just made do in our traveling clothes and we made it to the courthouse with time to spare. With the exception of the moment when they tried to throw my mom out for snapping a photo - apparently a big no no in Philly family court unless you are IN THE COURT ROOM!!! It was one of the happiest moments of our life. In some ways our journey back to Philly is a good allegory for our journey to Henry. Certainly not easy, plenty of roadblocks, and at times it seemed like there was just no way we were ever going to get there. But we stuck with it, and then right at the last minute it all worked out perfectly, and our joy is just immeasurable. I always thought I would like being a mom, but really I had no idea. I was watching the news the other day and it showed a couple who had just won the mega- million jackpot and I thought to myself--I know just how they feel.