The American Calgarian

Tales of a Midwesterner transplanted in Western Canada

Archive for the month “November, 2012”

So the Question Is…

Jaybird has lost a tooth.  One of the molars, you know, the biggies toward the back of her mouth.  We were expecting it, as the orthodontist that put on her braces told us that she still had some baby teeth to lose.  She had told me that it was loose, but I didn’t really pay much attention.

She came home from school (yesterday? two days ago?) with her tooth in a napkin.  She showed me the lost tooth, placed the paper towel-wrapped tooth on the breakfast bar.  The tooth fairy did not leave her any money that night, as the tooth was not under her pillow. A few days (1? 2?) passed and she still had the tissue with tooth tucked into the corner on the breakfast bar.

Then came the day that I cleaned the kitchen.  I threw out the folded paper towel that had been sitting on the breakfast bar for far too long.  I swept, scrubbed and mopped.  The kids returned from school and Jaybird starting looking around in the kitchen.  I asked her what she wanted, as this is unusual.  Usually the kids run to the pantry as soon as they arrive home.  Apparently there is some kind of food shortage a few kilometers away at their school which causes them to be ravenous wolves by 3:45pm each weekday.  But I digress.  She told me she was looking for the paper towel that had been sitting on the counter.  She was going to put it next to her bed at that precise moment so not to forget again and miss out on the money from the tooth fairy.

Moment of truth.  I have mentioned before that I sometimes will tell a little white lie to my kids.  What to do here?  Bloody hell.  She is twelve years old.  I turned to her with a very serious look and quiet voice.

“Jaybird, do you still believe in the tooth fairy?”  I asked.  She smiled and whispered, “no.”  I smiled back at her, gave her the money for her tooth, and told her to keep this whole thing a secret.  She is now a conspirator.  I followed up with a “Is there anything else you would like to ask me about?  Anything you may or may not believe in?”  I was on a roll and to be honest, about done with the upcoming Christmas charade that we parents play.  I was ready to deal with the “Santa Question” as well.  But nothing.  She had nothing further.

So the tooth fairy thing is almost done.  Santa Claus?  Another time, perhaps.

Fire, Family and KP

Summer

We were having cocktails and conversation with some friends on a clear summer evening.  The fire pit was crackling and the kids were chasing unsuspecting fireflies throughout the yard.  KP’s and my conversation flipped from work to husbands to in-laws to children to schools to politics and back to work.  I love conversations with KP.  Its like having ten conversations at once about entirely unrelated things but ultimately it comes full circle to Skinny Girl Margaritas (why she likes them and I do not) and our families.  KP and her husband Tony are parents to one son.  They would love to have more children, but had some fertility challenges with the first one and those challenges were multiplying as they attempted to have another child.  KP was frustrated with unsuccessful IVF attempts.  She and her husband did not think that international adoption was for them.  But they had so much love to give and wanted another child to complete their family.

“You may think this sounds crazy, but I know my daughter is out there.  I could pick her out of a crowd.  She has ringlet curls and beautiful ebony skin.  She doesn’t look like me, and I may not have given birth to her but she is my daughter.  I am going to find her, I can feel it in my bones .”

Perhaps it was the margaritas, or the fire, or a full summer moon, but I did not think it sounded crazy.  I remember Rosie O’Donnell once explaining adoption.  She said it is when a child is born to someone and God says, “what the heck? that’s not right,” so God goes about the process of finding the forever family for that child.  And it is made right.  (OKay, I know, total pie in the sky and it is way more complicated but that is how Rosie explained it to a kid.)  I do believe that when you decide that your family should be more than you and your partner that things usually happen the way they should.  I did not think that I would ever be the mother of three.  Yet, here I am.  We decided that we wanted to have children and were lucky enough that they all came.  Although it was not always smooth sailing, (see Jaybird’s Birthday), I would not change a thing.  Our family is complete with the five of us.  KP, her husband and son were not a complete family.  Not yet.

Fall

All set to be foster parents, their house ready, KP and family are ready to take in a child or children that need a home.  Well, KP and her husband were ready.  Their son, then six years old, was with them in spirit, but had no clue as to what he had agreed to.  His world was about to change forever.  A call came that there was a little girl, about 15 months old, that needed a loving home.  KP and company jumped at the opportunity.  This beautiful, vivacious little girl showed up at the their door.  Within one day she was calling KP “Momma” and was a dream.  Again, the 6 YO boy was not so sure; eventually this little girl won his heart.  She was healthy, strong in spirit and good-natured.  Within three days her “foster-brother” was reading her bedtime stories and singing to her.  KP and family made their intentions known over the next few months.  They would like to adopt this little girl with the flawless ebony skin and ringlet curls. 

The Next Fall 

I saw the countdown on Facebook.  It is official.  KP is expecting! It is 10 days, then 9, and so on until the adoption is official.  KP and her family have welcomed a new girl into their home forever.  The pictures of the day exemplify love, family, commitment.  So many family and friends came to celebrate this family going from three to four (officially) that I felt love just oozing out of my screen.  KP’s family is living proof that when it comes to family, there is no black or white, just love, respect and kindness.  Their family is an inspiration.

When we choose to commit our lives to another person we start a spiral of decisions.  Sometimes we decide that we would like to welcome children into the mix.  Sometimes we give birth to those children and sometimes not.  It does not matter.  What matters is that we love each other, respect each other and pray for each other.  This is family.

Congratulations, KP and family on your new addition!

Jaybird’s Birthday

Jaybird today, directing traffic with the School Patrol.

“Am I officially twelve yet?  What time was I born?  What was that day like?”  So many questions from Jaybird this morning.  Its her birthday.  She has never asked these types of questions before today.  We talked in generalities about the day, how it was the election of 2000, the infamous Bush v. Gore, that I had been in the hospital on bedrest for three weeks prior to her birth and that I was able to vote absentee with the help of my friend Sandy and the NAACP.  And, of course, that she was born at 5:53pm.

Three weeks in a hospital bed while lying only on your left side affords you the luxury to reflect on some serious stuff.  It also allowed for me to read a few books, (not on pregnancy, though, I was too nervous).  I also had time to call every organization I could think of for assistance in getting an absentee ballot for the presidential election approaching.  When neither the republican or democratic campaign offices could help, saying a deadline had passed and I was SOL, I called the League of Women Voters.  Again, no luck.  I called local representatives’ offices with no luck.  Then I called the NAACP, (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People).  That’s right.  This white girl from a small town in Wisconsin called the NAACP, explained my situation to a very patient person and got answers.  They told me how to get a ballot, how to get it to the correct place, everything.  I am thankful to the NAACP and to Sandy for their assistance in voting that year.

Three weeks and twelve years ago I was admitted into the hospital with severe preeclampsia, a condition that means my blood pressure was similar to that of a shaken soda can.  During those three weeks on bed rest in the hospital, I often asked myself, “why?  Why me”?  I had done everything in the “right order”, attended and graduated from college, fell in love, got married, and then we waited until we were financially stable to start a family.  Okay, “financially stable” may be a stretch, but you get my point.  So, why, then, was I lying here in this hospital bed?  I had many friends and family come to visit me while in the hospital, my brother and I would read the Wall Street Journal sometimes and solve the world’s problems.  My husband or my parents were a constant at my bedside.  As the days went on, though, Jaybird was becoming more stressed in utero.  I remember telling my OB/GYN on a Friday that I didn’t think I would make it much longer, that I had a feeling that I would need to deliver soon.  He was patient and kind, assuring me that I was in good hands and that everything would be fine.  I came to a realization while in the hospital.  If one in eight babies (from March of Dimes website) was to be born premature, perhaps the question is not “why me?” but “why NOT me?”  After all, I had good health insurance and a terrific support system of family and friends.  Just thinking of all those kids out there that have daily challenges of getting clean water or food or are orphaned or abused or whatever made me realize that if the act of being born was her greatest challenge, we were a lucky family indeed.

As the day of November 7 progressed, a few things happened. I was growing more confused as a result of the preeclampsia and my parents had come to my room for a visit.  Thank goodness they did.  My mom, a nurse, had instructed me upon being admitted to the hospital to write a list of everyone that I could think of that could get in touch with my husband if something unthinkable happened.  The afternoon of November 7 my physician had given the orders that I was no longer allowed television, as election coverage made my already-high blood pressure enter the stratosphere.  It was also the afternoon that during my daily ultrasound all pleasant small talk ceased.  A strange seriousness came over the resident doing the ultrasound and she told me that she would be right back.  The Chief Resident entered, who continued the ultrasound.  My mother left the room.  I looked at my dad.  He grabbed my hand, sensing that I was frightened.  The Chief Resident looked at me and asked, “Where is your husband?”

I replied, “I don’t know.”

“Is he here?”

“No.”

“Okay.  Get him here as soon as possible.  I am calling your OB and we need to deliver her today.”  The rest is a bit of a blur.  As stated above, my mother had instructed me to write a list of how to contact JB in the event of something unthinkable.  Something unthinkable had just happened.  I forgot where JB was and how to get in touch with him.

I was whisked away, prepped for surgery and told to relax.  Relax?  I was freaking out.  Only 29 weeks along (a pregnancy should go 40 weeks) and barely able to put a sentence together, I had no clue what was happening.  Listening to the OB/GYN and the Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialist discuss the best way to deliver my baby was surreal.  I kept thinking of a news story that I had read a few weeks earlier about a woman who gave birth alone, on a treetop in Mozambique during a flood (http://babyworld.co.uk/2000/03/a-woman-gave-birth-in-a-treetop/).  If she could do that, what was my problem?

JB arrived at the hospital and was brought into the delivery operating room.  I asked him how his day was and what he had for lunch.  He stared at me incredulously.  I begged him to talk about something mundane and normal, as I was about to jump out of my skin in fear.  He had a sandwich, some fruit, water, you know, the usual.  The leaves were falling, Al Gore was predicted to win Florida’s electoral votes (this still makes me giggle a bit), and it was a nice day outside.

Then we heard her.  She was so very tiny and translucent, as many preemies are, yet screaming something fierce.  “Is that her?” I asked. Yes, it was her, and she was screaming.  She was small, 11 weeks premature and a bit translucent, but she was screaming and that was a very good sign.  There were so many people in the room at this point that I have no idea who was doing what.  I just know that they placed this small, crying baby on my chest and I have not been the same since.  She looked into my eyes and I instantly loved her.  Then, they took her away.   She weighed in at 1 pound 10 ounces, and was 13 inches long.  She fit in the palm of JB’s hand. She was very small, on a ventilator, but was otherwise healthy.  The vent lasted three days before it was no longer needed.  She graduated to the little prongs but eventually pulled those out on her own.  Her determination inspired me.  I had many more complications from giving birth so early but Jaybird continued to grow and develop.  The neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) became home for a couple of months for us.  We were able to hold her, feed her, change her thumbelina diapers and love her.  JB will tell you that I cried quite a bit during this time.  It is a blur to me.  We brought her home two weeks before her due date, when she was able to hold her body temperature, could eat and breathe on her own.  She was four pounds.

Jaybird is about 3 lbs in this picture. The gold band around her arm is JB’s wedding band.

I am so thankful for the (very) little girl who was given to us on this day twelve years ago, and thankful for the person she is becoming.  Happy Birthday, Jaybird!

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