He will be (legally) mine

To Whom It May Concern:

I have examined the patient, C, and have found her to be in good health. I have no reason to believe that the patient’s health status will in any way compromise her ability to be an adoptive parent.

1972448_10103694651286023_1656771591_nThose are the contents of the letter I obtained today from a local urgent care clinic so that I can submit the step parent adoption process to finally call E my legal son. I am stopping by the courthouse first thing in the morning to drop off the mighty load of paperwork required for the process.

I’ve heard a number of same-sex couples who were legally married last Saturday have already begun filing the paperwork for step parent adoption and are being assigned caseworkers. Step parent adoption, as opposed to second parent adoption, is for legally married couples. Second parent adoption would then be reserved for committed, but not married, couples, but is not currently available because of the stay issued by the Sixth Circuit Court. Truth be told, I don’t love the emphasis on biological vs. non-biological connection to a child conveyed by the title “step parent,” but it seems like a streamlined process that will provide me with the same legal rights to my child, which matters more to me.

After I submit the paperwork and a case worker is assigned, I will have an initial interview with the case worker, pay for fingerprinting, and then schedule and pay for a second assessment, which I think is actually a home study. At that point, it will go to the judge for consideration and, hopefully, finalization.

I was initially quoted $1,500 to go through the process with a knowledgeable family law attorney, and that was what we had planned to do. We spoke with a friend of ours who is also a family law attorney, who encouraged us to submit the paperwork quickly and without the hiring an attorney. The paperwork is really straightforward and is available with instructions on the County’s website.

In about 12 hours, the ball will officially be rolling, folks! We can use your positive energy, prayers, and good thoughts for an ideal and expedited outcome for the sake of our family.

We Did!

Many of you by now have likely heard about Judge Bernard Friedman declaring Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional on Friday evening in the case of DeBoer v. Snyder and Schuette. Because of this decision and our awesome ally of a County Clerk deciding to open for special hours on Saturday to issue marriage licenses, K and I were one of 142 couples to legally wed in our county that day.

It all happened so fast, but we knew that, even though K was miserably sick and I was doing everything in my power to not succumb to the same illness, we needed to make this happen for our family. We knew that a stay was likely inevitable and that we’d have this very tiny window before another potentially long wait for the rights we all deserve. To that end, we got up early on Saturday morning, hustled to get out the door, and made it to the courthouse about 45 minutes before they opened.

I’m not quite sure what I expected but I was surprised that there weren’t more people already there. There were maybe 30-40 couples in line in front of us and there was enough room for us to squeeze inside the building instead of having to wait in the cold. There was very few members of the media present, despite the historic day. At around 9 a.m., security began letting people through and the line then snaked down a long hallway toward the Clerk’s desks.

10147514_10154010548020287_171026002_oA former coworker and her partner were in line behind us and it made the experience even more enjoyable. It was fun to see so many people we knew being able to share an anniversary with us. The Clerk’s staff were all so chipper on their day off, working so hard to make sure as many people as possible could get their licenses before the office closed for the day. We completed our paperwork, paid the fee for the license and to have the clerk preside over our ceremony, and then walked down the long hallway to the County Commissioners’ Auditorium, stopping to change E’s diaper on our way.

When we reached the auditorium, couples had their paperwork confirmed by the Deputy Clerk, and then we were legally wed in a mass ceremony of about 40 couples. It was really meaningful to us that our officiant was The Honorable Lisa Brown, our County Clerk, who had actually been called by the defense in marriage equality case. When she was called to testify, she essentially said that she hated being in the position of having to bar people from accessing the institution of marriage, but had to because that’s what was required of her by law, and that she could not wait to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The words she uttered during our mass ceremony were uplifting, heartwarming, and affirming of the struggle we’ve endured and will continue to endure. K and I kissed each other and then kissed E.

We then waited in a long line to have our paperwork signed by the Clerk and two witnesses. Once that was complete, we walked back down to the other end of the building again to the Clerk’s desks, walking past other couples waiting in line for their chance to legally wed, and were immediately issued our official marriage certificates. Each time a couple emerged with their certificates, the crowd cheered, and though I didn’t know all of them and the circumstances were hardly ideal, it felt like a large, loving family supporting our union.

One of our dear friends, who was there waiting for her own marriage license and certificate, took a photo of us with our official documents and, while she did, a local news station filmed it. They asked for an interview, which I gave, but they thankfully never aired my rambling. They did, however, air at least six seconds of us standing there, having our photograph taken with our marriage certificate, and several of my friends have mentioned seeing it on the news at different times.

Despite the stay being granted only a few hours later, the attorney who represented the Rowse-DeBoers in the marriage equality case is urging families to seek second parent adoptions, as she does not believe the stay will impede their ability to do so. I will be contacting local attorneys in the morning to try to move the process forward for the sake and stability of our family.

I have mixed emotions right now. I am elated that I am now K’s legal wife, though also baffled because, after living through the adoption of a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, I never thought I’d see this day. I am heartbroken for the families who continue to wait for the day when they will see equality. I am furious that Attorney General Bill Schuette continues to waste limited state resources on a losing cause, simply so he can kowtow to his party. I am grateful to those like Judge Bernard Friedman and Oakland County Clerk Lisa Brown, who believe that equality is just. I feel forever indebted to April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, who have bravely fought for the rights of their family and so many others. I feel awash in the glow of love and support from my community, friends, and family members.

I have mentioned several times that this union was one of the least romantic set of circumstances one can imagine – snot pouring out of K’s nose, me wearing dirty, day-old jeans and unwashed hair, scrambling to make it in time. Upon further reflection, I’ve decided that sometimes love looks a lot more like loyalty, stability, and protection, and a lot less like passionate romance. We need room for all of this, and more, in our relationships, and I’m so thankful to have it with K.

Soon to be one!

While E is still merely on the verge of walking, I think it’s safe for us to classify him as a toddler. He’s certainly showing a lot of toddleresque behaviors. For example, where he used to roll with most of what came his way, he’s extraordinarily expressive of his feelings these days. He has a complete lay-on-the-floor meltdown with pouty lips and huge tears when I ruin his fun by taking away an unsafe obstacle or put on his coat to leave.

He’s also showing a lot of limit-testing behaviors. While K was out on Saturday morning, E and I spent a few hours in each other’s company. During that time, he played mostly independently while I put some laundry away. At one point, he crawled over to an electrical outlet (it’s covered, but I’d still like for him to stay away from it), reached his hand out and looked at me. I know he’s aware that it is a no-touch zone, so I made my “uh oh” sound, said, “Mommy doesn’t want you to touch that. It’s dangerous,” and redirected his behavior toward something he could touch. It happened a few more times and the last time, he had a total meltdown when I limited him.

Beware the silence of toddlers.

Beware the silence of toddlers.

It’s a challenge for me to discipline and this is a whole new set of behaviors around which to increase our parenting confidence. While my brain knows that setting boundaries is healthy and necessary, fear tends to creep in and I worry that it will impact his love for me. That same Saturday morning, it helped immensely to see that the exact opposite played out: just 20 minutes after he had recovered from the limit-setting meltdown, he hurt himself on a toy, cried, and reached out for me. We snuggled for several minutes – also a newer phenomenon – and it melted my heart to see evidence of him needing me and only me for comfort.

E is also looking less and less like a baby these days. I look over and see the child in him, and it makes me both sad and happy at the same time. His milestones are equally exciting and heartbreaking, 1912420_10103643907776423_1068056591_nas I witness behaviors become part of my dear child’s history instead of present. The only thing that truly helps me to feel better is to remind myself to stay present and appreciate what happens as it happens. It’s a tricky proposition for me, though.

He’s been working hard the past couple of weeks to stand for greater lengths on his own, and is cruising a lot. He gets excited when we hold his hands for support while he practices walking and I know that he’ll soon be walking on his own. He’s such a determined little character who spends all day working toward these goals.

Of COURSE we practiced with a cupcake.

Of COURSE we practiced with a cupcake.

We’ve gotten almost all of the details in order for his first birthday party. We ordered and received all decor, food/beverage accessories, and the favors. The musician is booked and we have about 30 people who will be in attendance. We ordered the cake – shaped like an acoustic guitar from my favorite gluten free bakery – and planned the snacks. E has even received his first birthday gift in the mail – a framed share of Facebook stock from K’s Aunt K who hosted our family baby shower. I’m excited about celebrating this milestone with our loved ones!

I can’t believe I’m about to be the mom of a one-year-old kid. I guess I can’t really call myself a new mom anymore, can I?

10 Months Young

E 9 month photo

Technically his 9-month photo

Whoa. I can’t believe how long it has been since our last post. So sorry about that, y’all.

On Saturday, K and I officially became parents of a thriving, happy, TEN MONTH OLD. I can’t even believe how quickly the time has flown, and how rapidly we seem to be closing in on that looming one year mark.

Here are a few stats on our growing guy:

Weight: ~21 lbs

Length: ~28 inches

Clothing size: Mostly 12-18 months for tops because of his long torso and mostly 12 month bottoms, as long as they’re stretchy to accommodate the fluffy cloth diaper butt.

breakfast with daddy

Breakfast with Daddy

Favorite food(s): Pretty much anything Daddy is eating! E has turned into quite the little foodie and will literally try anything we put in front of him. Even things he previously rejected like scrambled eggs and any variation of potatoes are now fair game. He gets really excited when we give him super flavorful food like the quinoa risotto I make that has garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, lemon juice and zest, and goat cheese in it. Like Daddy, he’s a big fan of fruit. He seems to be eating us out of house and home, though, and is now waking in the middle of the night because he’s hungry for an extra bottle!

Favorite activities: Standing and cruising against furniture. E has also recently started doing this hilarious thing where he scoot-hops forward while on his butt and without using his hands. Bath time is also a popular activity, as E tends to melt down when we take him out of the bath before he feels like he’s done with the fun.

Favorite toys: Cups of any variety and any sort of musical instrument.

Health: Doing so much better with his ears. He’s had his first ear infection since getting tubes, and it’s kind of gross to see the drainage come out, even though I know it means his ears don’t have that painful pressure. Treating ear infections is so much easier with tubes, too, and only involves ear drops twice a day. He’s fully stopped his reflux meds without incident. He’s had a random cold once since getting tubes, but it’s been minor.

keepin' it classy at Costco

Keepin’ it classy at Costco

Number of teeth: He has the two middle teeth on the bottom, has three of the top middle teeth and one more top middle tooth is currently peeking through. That would make for SIX!

Sleep: When he’s not sick and/or teething, E seems to do pretty well with sleep. Up until his recent increase in hunger and food consumption, he was reliably sleeping through the night. He doesn’t nap very well at daycare, mostly because he has what our dear friend calls FOMA, which stands for “Fear of Missing Anything.” He also doesn’t nap very well for us at home, unless we all take a family nap in our bed, and then he’ll sleep for 2-3 hours without hesitation.

Mommy and Daddy’s humble brags: We hit the baby lottery. E is almost always so happy and curious. This child is a total joy and we absolutely love seeing him explore the world.

Mommy and Daddy’s current gripes: POOP! With the recent increase in food consumption comes a VERY large increase in poop production. Let’s also just say that cloth diapers + solid foods = things that can never been unseen.

Future plans: I really want to enroll E in a swimming class. In a state where bodies of water are so prevalent, it’s important both for safety and enjoyment that E has a good grasp of what to do in the water. It’s also my dream to enroll him in a baby music class, but all of the local ones seem to take place during weekday hours to accommodate stay at home parents.

Looking forward

One of the bonuses of being really, really sick to the point of depleting my vacation time (because of course my sick time is hovering at the zero hour mark), if I have to find one, is that I actually had some time to focus on planning E’s first birthday party.

For months, I have refused to even think about the notion of this event, mostly because of my reluctance to admit that our child is careening toward this milestone, but also because we have a teeny, tiny house that couldn’t contain our immediate family, let alone close friends. The latter concern, now that I’ve solved it, is laughable, given that I am a skilled, professional event planner, but the challenge truly threw me for a loop.

While digesting episode upon episode of the Law & Order franchise, I researched budget-friendly local venues, potential entertainers, and themes. I discovered that a local community center rents rooms of all sizes for very reasonable rates and called their scheduler to inquire about availability. I determined that the musician that E loved when she performed at his daycare Halloween party regularly plays for children’s parties, so I asked about her rates and availability, as well. Within a matter of mere days, I had hired the musician, who will play a half an hour set and bring a craft and an instrument for each child, reserved the room at the community center, paid deposits on both, decided upon a generic music theme, researched decor and sent out preliminary e-vites to close friends and family members.

I guess that settles it. We have a little kid who is turning one year old and we’re celebrating it with a party. Commence freak out.

Update on sleep

It’s a shockingly slow day here today at work. A lot of my coworkers are out of the office and it appears that no one made adequate arrangements to pick up donation checks for me to process, which is the bulk of my work during the holiday season. I decided to use this rare downtime to write a blog post.

It’s been one week since we started sleep training E and it has gone swimmingly, if I do say so. The first few nights were pretty difficult for all of us, but E now cries less intensely and for less time, if he cries at all. The keys, for us, have involved making sure we’re really aware of his sleep cues, getting him to bed before he’s overtired, and following a consistent pattern so he doesn’t feel confused by what takes place. While we have used a modified Ferber approach, we aren’t the type of parents to adhere staunchly to any particular theory or principle to the detriment of our child or selves.

I’ve been hurt by the level of judgment we’ve received from people who know us about our decision to use any form of sleep training. It shocked me that people who bear witness to my love and care for E would think that I would ever do something that I felt would intentionally cause harm to him. Like vaccines, circumcision, and feeding, sleep appears to be yet another battle in the dreaded “mommy wars.” I know I’ve said it before, but it continues to be a common theme – parents are all just doing the best that we can with the information we have available and what feels right in our hearts.

8 Months!

I can’t believe that it’s already been 8 months since E was born. Everyone tells you that time flies when you become a parent, and I can attest to the truth behind that statement.

Here are a few current highlights about E:

  • E decided to pull himself up to standing today and both K and I witnessed it. He had such a ginormous grin on his face and you could tell that he was very proud of himself. We were proud of him, too.
  • yum!He’s becoming quite the adventurous eater. The trick behind getting him to try something new is something a dear friend showed us – it truly has to be his idea whether or not to put something in his mouth. If we want him to try something, we have to nonchalantly place it in front of him. Inevitably, it goes into his mouth. At dinner with K’s family last night, E reached for the pickle on my plate. I handed it to him, and he shockingly ate it! No one in the family likes pickles, so it came as quite a surprise.
  • E really enjoys footwear. I’m not sure if it’s because he’s destined to become a fashion maven or if it’s the item of clothing that just happens to be closest to him, but he really appreciates a wide variety of footwear. From my lowly flip-flops, to my well-worn sneakers with the bright pink laces, to Daddy’s new shiny black work shoes, E is a fan!
  • For as laid back and happy of a child as he is, E is extraordinarily driven. When he wants to do something, he tries and tries until he does. It warms our heart to see how independent and confident he seems to be, too.
  • E loves being out and about. Whenever he seems somewhat fussy at home, we find that even running a simple errand brightens his spirits. We’ve recently started grocery shopping with him in the cart and he finds a lot of enjoyment from that. He often tries to grab the shopping list, though, because he thinks putting paper into his mouth is pretty much the best thing ever.

E, these past 8 months have been a joy. I’m such a lucky mama!

Changes and updates

This post is certain to sound like stream of consciousness, because it pretty much is.

We’ve had such a long great streak with E’s sleep that I feel somewhat sheepish complaining at this point about E’s recent sleep difficulties. We’re not sure if it’s his recurring ear infections, another round of teething, some sort of sleep regression due to a recent burst in developmental progression, or something else entirely, but keeping E asleep for more than half an hour at a time has been darn near impossible. K will rock E to sleep, then gingerly place him in his crib, just like we used to. If we’re lucky, E will stay asleep or rouse minimally and then fall asleep, but without fail, he will start crying about half an hour later. We have to start the whole process over again. And again. And again. Eventually K gives up and brings E in bed with us, where he more or less sleeps peacefully with us until morning. We haven’t done anything else differently and we’re hopeful that he will eventually go back to sleeping well. God, I hope so.

E seems like an entirely different kid with each passing day. He’s scooting around in an army crawl so quickly now! He’s starting to pull himself up on whatever furniture he can and we’re sure he’ll soon be cruising along the couch, ottoman, chair, etc. E is a lot more expressive whenever something happens that he dislikes and cries when he loses a toy. He’s a lot more independent, especially in his desire to move. He immediately flips over and tries to crawl away whenever we try to change his diaper. He resists solid foods unless/until he’s spoon-feeding himself and desperately wants whatever it is we have on our plates.

We’re still rotating through illness in our family and I’m the most recent casualty. A coworker convinced me on Tuesday to go to the doctor because my cough kept getting worse as the day wore on.  After several tests at the urgent care clinic, I was diagnosed with bronchitis and it got progressively worse over the past week. I am on a round of antibiotics and steroids, as well as an inhaler and cough syrup with codeine. My cough, at times, has been uncontrollable and wipes me of every ounce of energy. I spent the majority of Thanksgiving Day sucking on menthol cough drops.

After my weeks of waffling about the future of my hair, I decided to have it cut in the stacked bob I donned for years. I love it and think I no longer look like I’ve given up on myself, but I’m still surprised whenever I pass a mirror. I’m actually shocked that so few people seemed to notice the change after I had 6 inches cut off!

An open letter to my 7-month-old

Dear Son,

You are growing and changing so rapidly. Last night, I cried as I was falling asleep because I’m sad about how quickly time is passing. I’m afraid that I’ve made decisions I regret, many of which have kept me from focusing on what truly matters – you – instead of an endless list of meaningless tasks and logistics.

This morning, you gave me the greatest gift of your musical laughter. After consuming an impressively large bottle, instead of immediately squirming out of my arms to play like you do so often these days, you initiated a game of peekaboo with me. You lifted up your burp cloth to hide your face, and when you dropped it, you squealed with joy. You did this over and over again, and we took turns hiding behind the burp cloth, you laughing with each and every reveal. Having such a fun and loving time with you this morning made it very difficult for me to leave and go to work.

20131111-090034.jpgYour newfound mobility scares Mama a bit because she knows that this is just the beginning of your increasing independence and decreasing need for constant assistance. When I see you make your way over to your toy bin, pull it out and peek inside, your “jackpot!” reaction warms my heart and reminds me that we are both doing our jobs to help you become the person you’re meant to be.

Words can’t fully express my love for you, son. I hope that my actions each day convey the depth of these feelings.

Xoxo
Mama

The long-awaited return

As promised, I’m trying to get back into the swing of this blogging thing. It seems like I have less and less time these days, but it’s important to me that I attempt to document our experiences as parents and the rapidly changing person that is our dear E.

E these days:

  • After so many months of massive drooling, chewing on everything and general fussiness, E is finally getting his first tooth. In fact, because he’s an overachiever like his parents, he’s getting two teeth at once. He hasn’t been too large of a wreck, but there are times in which he’s clearly in pain. Tylenol has helped a bit during those horrible times, but even with it, he occasionally cries out from pain in his sleep. It’s heartbreaking.
  • E is still exploring solids, though life is so hectic and busy that it’s not unusual for us to skip solids entirely some days. His daycare is giving him solids during the day, but he really seems particular about eating them. Sometimes he turns his nose up at foods for which he’s previously shown an obsession. It’s totally normal for youngin’s to gag on solids at first, but because he has a sensitive gag reflex, this sometimes results in a pukefest. Oh what fun.
  • 6moLifetouch2He’s a general ball of silliness and joy. E literally grins and laughs the vast majority of the day. Everyone comments on what a happy baby he is and that makes me feel so good. His smile is infectious and his laughs are musical. I think his smile was captured really well in his recent photos at daycare.6moLifetouch
  • A lot of people comment on how big E is, but as of his 6 month pediatrician visit, he only weighs 18 lbs, 6 oz and is 26″ long. He’s literally 50th percentile for both height and weight on the growth charts. Mr. Average. I think he looks big to people because he has such a long torso.
  • E is on the verge of crawling. He scoots all around our hardwood floor, mostly backwards, but occasionally manages to move forward. He pivots around and around and rolls. He’s been getting up on his knees, doing some pelvic rocks and even planks. It’s only a matter of time, we think. K and I have definitely added babyproofing to our agenda in the near future.
  • HalloweenI made a simple clown costume for E’s first Halloween. I think he looked adorable and I’m shocked by how patient he was with the elasticized clown hat. I was, unfortunately, not feeling well and couldn’t attend the much-anticipated Halloween party at his daycare. K attended and my guys had a great time.

Us these days:

  • K is super busy with work. He’s on a somewhat new project that has some pretty unrealistic deadlines. It’s been making K and all of his coworkers really stressed. One of his bosses has even had an outbreak of stress-related shingles!
  • Things are really ramping up for me at work these days, too. The holidays are a very busy time of year in the fundraising world. I’m responsible for writing our fundraising letters as well as processing and acknowledging gifts. 80% of the funds raised through our direct mail program come in during the end of the year, so that should give you a sense of what will be on my plate.
  • The entire family has been sick lately. K had a 103 degree fever for over a week and had to take a lot of time off of work. E had a double ear infection. Then I got viral laryngitis, a sinus infection and am on the verge of an ear infection. Now that I’m finally feeling better (though my voice doesn’t sound like it), K is getting another cold. WHY?!?!?!?!?!
  • I feel like we’ve hit our stride as parents. I no longer feel like a new parent and I no longer feel thrown by every twist and turn that occurs. We have a decent routine down while remaining fairly flexible for all of the inevitable changes that are bound to happen. I also feel like we’re setting reasonable boundaries and expectations, and that feels good.
  • We’re still dealing with some annoyances with K’s parents. When K was sick, they tried to trample K’s boundaries to meet their own selfish needs. When K set limits, they freaked out, calling him selfish and stirring up all sorts of drama. We spoke to K’s sister about it and she said that their parents are still upset that we won’t “accept” their offer to watch E once a week. Needless to say, I am beyond thankful that they’re now in Florida until Thanksgiving.