the crawling video i promised in the last post

return of baby dude & the robot from carissaabc on Vimeo.

what a week.

this past week, i’ve stayed home with baby dude (tuesday to sunday).  first, because he was sick and too contagious to be at daycare, then i got sick and he was still too contagious to take to daycare, so we were both sick together.  for the first days, i waffled between feeling giddy at being able to stay home all day and feeling trapped because, well, it’s a long story, but the short version is that my driveway was a disaster (there’s still some caution tape up) and getting to the car would have been a challenge.  i waffled between being amazed at my child’s awesomely mellow disposition and being frustrated when he was decidedly NOT mellow–especially during the two days when J was in Chicago for work and I couldn’t tag-team like we normally do.  But then I reminded myself that stay-at-home-moms and single moms do this kind of stuff all the time.  And some of them have more than one kid.  And some of them have kids with much more challenging personalities than mine does.  And I told myself to pull it together.  And I got an amazing offer of help from a friend who reads my blog (she came over for a few hours on Saturday to play with the baby and managed somehow to put him to sleep while reading to him.  She realized he was asleep when he started snoring.) And somehow, by tonight I’m secretly hoping that this dreadful weather we’re having (sleet?  icy roads?  yuck!) will make it impossible for anyone to go to work and they’ll have to shut down the city again so I can stay home one more day.  I’m really not sure when that transformation happened in my head, but it might have been when i realized what a gift staying home for a week with my almost-one-year-old boy has been.

i’ve been able to watch him eat his first mac-and-cheese (also his first chili, but no photos of that):

put a band-aid on his first band-aid-worthy ouchie (shots at the dr’s office don’t count):

observe him beginning to transition to one (mostly long) nap per day and see him pull himself to standing in the crib for the first time (SO proud of himself!):

and watch him graduate from the caterpillar scootch to full-fledged crawling!  (video to be posted as soon i finish editing it.)

note to new parents who are dreading mobility:  yes, once they can move they can get into a lot more things they shouldn’t BUT they also can entertain themselves for much longer stretches.  You just gotta watch out for the sudden silences with accompanying lip-smacking noises.

it was tough at times (apologies to my friend M who heard the apex of my sicky pitiful self on Friday morning), but I learned things about myself, my boy, my marriage and discovered that a week-long break from work is always good for reminding you of what’s really important.

awesome photo shoot

if only i’d seen this about a year ago….


a few months ago, i wrote a post about entitlement and with a lot of wondering about when i would feel like i was 100% baby dude’s mom and… i’m not sure when it happened, or how exactly, but i think i’m there.

recently, a friend of mine was telling me about an adoption song on keb mo’s “big wide grin” album called “i am your mother too” and she warned me that it would probably make me cry.  so i waited until i had some quiet time and i listened to the song.  and i didn’t get weepy, i got irritated.

here’s the chorus:

And though you came from the womb of another,
We will care for you.
Life is your sister and Love is your brother
And I am you mother too.
I am your father too.
We are your family too.

i am your mother TOO?  TOO?!  why qualify it?  i AM your mother!

hmmm…..maybe i’ve gone a little too far with this entitlement thing?  but at least apparently some of the ditherings from that last reflective post have been resolved.

baby dude & the robot

watch out world.  my boy is mobile!  here’s a fun video to demonstrate his technique:

baby dude & the robot from carissaabc on Vimeo.

the last of the christmas posts

okay, it’s a little late to still be posting about christmas stuff, but i just wanted to write a little post about our gifts to Baby Dude’s birthmother and birthsister. I haven’t posted much lately about our contact with them, but we continue to communicate fairly regularly (most often via text, but sometimes through phone calls) and although sometimes it’s hard for me to hear her talk about how she misses him and understand how incredibly difficult it must be for her to see him looking so big and grown-up already, i know that maintaining this relationship is very important to all of us.  I just have to learn that I don’t always have a way to make her feel happy because, well, sometimes things are just sad or frustrating and that’s just the way life is.  The best I can do is to keep the lines of communication open (i also still send her a monthly letter with a pile of pictures from the past month), let her see him grow up as thoroughly as I can (hooray for videos of milestones!), and let her see that he is happy and healthy and very, very loved.

But trying to convey all of that through a Christmas gift was a bit tricky.  I’d already given her a locket bracelet with a photo of him and a DVD with some movies of him and I had a vague idea that I wanted to do a photo book as a one-year gift (hmmm… speaking of which, perhaps i should get started on that….). Even if I just wanted to give her a non-sentimental gift, we don’t have a lot of casual interests in common (for instance, I really have no idea who her favorite musicians are. I think she’s mentioned a few in the past, but since I’ve never heard of them I have a terrible time remembering their names) and I’ve already given her candy and nail polish and other froo-froo, generic gifts like that for other occasions and nothing seemed quite right. I poked around on the internet for ideas and came across someone mentioning the idea of giving matching ornaments. As in, one for us and one for her. I thought that if I made it a photo ornament, it would be a good mix of sentimental and yet not TOO sappy. I also sent chocolates and fuzzy green socks (her favorite color is green) and another DVD of different little Baby Dude videos and I made a felt crown for her daughter and also sent three Eric Carle board books and gave the same titles to Baby Dude (matching ornaments for the grown-ups, matching books for the kids!). The DVD was, by far, her favorite gift, so I probably spent too much time thinking about and acquiring the rest of the stuff, but it made me feel somehow better to send a “care package” full of gifts. Unless I find out that she secretly hated the ornament, I think it would make a nice tradition and I’d like to continue to buy us matching ornaments each year.

For those of you who have relationships with birthfamilies (or, really, any other dear family who lives far away) what special gifts did you give this year? Would you do a similar gift again or recommend that gift idea to someone else?

the last of the christmas videos

all my favorite little tidbits that didn’t get into other movies were rolled into this montage of memories. enjoy!

Baby Dude’s first Christmas from carissaabc on Vimeo.

baby dude had fun with doggies during our christmas travels

Baby Dude’s Canine “Cousins” from carissaabc on Vimeo.

another little milestone that happened over Christmas vacation

baby dude’s first trim from carissaabc on Vimeo.

reflections on christmas past

throughout this year’s christmas celebrations, i couldn’t keep the ghosts of christmas past from floating up into memory.  what a world of difference it is to watch those memories play in my mind with this beautiful boy in my lap.  two christmases ago we had only recently learned that our second IVF attempt had failed (after the only, “hmmm… maybe that’s a positive blood test result?” I ever got).  My younger sister was pregnant with her second child and my younger sister-in-law was also pregnant with her second (actually, there had been a chance that we’d be pregnant together at christmas and we’d hopefully wished for that together on the phone a few times before we got our news.  ouch.).  I think even my best friend (who lives in the same town as my sister and who we usually stay with when we visit) was pregnant with her second at the time.  I don’t think I actually shouted about how unfair life was to anyone, but i do remember bursting into tears when i was trying to cook at my sister’s house and discovered that she had no sieve or strainer of any kind.  yeah.

Last year’s Christmas was full of hope and trepidation.  No one on my side of the family was pregnant and my sister even gave us a gift for our future baby (we were matched with Baby Dude’s birthmom and waiting for him to be born and for her to make her final, difficult decision) and on Jay’s side of the family (we celebrated at Thanksgiving) my other sister-in-law was waiting to find out if they were pregnant (in case you’re curious–yes.  twin boys.).  I was very afraid that she’d get good news and we wouldn’t.

And this year, here we are.  A family of three.  Lucky, blessed parents who have been given the awesome privilege of watching this little dude grow up.  I could finally share my own stories about sleep deprivation and feeding issues and diaper troubles with all of  my siblings and friends, instead of listening and nodding to their stories and secretly wishing i had their “problems.”  And nothing, not 30+ hours of driving, not my favorite Salvadoran restaurant being inexplicably closed, not even a hearty round of the stomach flu that caught at least 6 of my family members (including Baby Dude–from both ends), could make this Christmas anything but just lovely.  I also had a chance to visit two other college friends who had also had their own infertility struggles and meet their beautiful babies.  And my memories of years past only serve to make this year sweeter and also serve to remind me of other friends and blog-world acquaintances who are still searching for their path to parenthood.  I will never forget how rough the road of infertility can be–especially around the holidays–but being on the other side certainly helps to dull the edges of those sharp, painful memories and the forward momentum of a fast-growing child has pulled me out of the mire still left of the soles of my soul’s boots.