Monday, February 22, 2010

Hey Bug

I just want you to know how much I love you.

I am sorry we argue about clothes and hair and sharing with your brother everyday. You are the perfect daughter and so nurturing with Zachary.

You are so smart! That's probably why we go at it all the time. But, Mommy and Daddy are so PROUD of you! You have a tender heart and a rambunctious spirit. You don't meet anyone who doesn't fall in LOVE with YOU! You have an infectious smile. There is hardly a day that goes by that we are not told that. We just nod. We have known that forever!

I PROMISE to be more patient with you, and to remember that you are 3 and not 13. Hold me accountable.

You are my dream come true, forever and ever.

I Love you Sweet Angel.
Remember this? I know you don't, but I do. It makes my heart dance.

Friday, February 19, 2010


We just spent the afternoon in a thawed out backyard! It was 50 something degrees today!

And here's the best part...Daddy is home! The kids were soooo excited to see him!


Honestly, I hadn't planned on doing this over on Kelly's Korner this week, but I was just reading some of the other blogs that have posted over there and became inspired. There are some pretty amazing stories over there.

Here is a very short version of mine.

On May 14, 2004 I married the love of my life. Seth and I were both 29 when we married and both ready to start a family. We tried for 2 years to have a baby. After year one we called upon the help of professionals and started fertility treatment. These years were the hardest, most confusing and loneliest times I have ever experienced. After 3 failed IUI's we were placed at a cross road. our spirits were low and well as our bank account - fertility treatment is EXPENSIVE! After a lot of prayer and soul searching, we decided to leave the fertility path, choosing not to go on to IVF, but to adopt. This is the road we felt God calling our hearts to walk. Once we decided to adopt, I felt such peace. The kind of peace that only comes from abandoning my own plan and following his.

In August of 2006 we signed up with an international adoption agency and were thrilled to be adopting from China. At the time, the wait to bring our daughter home, was 18 months. While waiting we made the easy decision to become foster parents. I am a Social Worker and knew I always wanted to foster. Seth was nervous, but also agreeable. We felt this was the best time to open our doors to children who needed us. We had no children of our own, therefore we could take children had potential anger problems, or had been sexually abused. We knew this wouldn't be an option once we had our own children, so this was the right time for us.

On September 8, 2006, we got the phone call we had been waiting for - Our FIRST foster referral. We accepted Lydia (a 5 month old baby), and her very young 14 year old mother, Christina. The placement was perfect. Lydia was the sweetest and best baby girl and her mother was too. We dedicated the next three weeks to caring for them and teaching Christina how to be a mom to her baby. Then one day Christina didn't get off the school bus after school. She had run away. Lydia was still with us.

The next two years were a complete roller coaster. Christina was "on the run" for most of the time, but would get caught and picked up and placed back in foster care every couple of months. There was not a suitable family member to take Lydia, so she remained with us. In the meantime, the wait to adopt from China was getting longer and longer. 18 months had come and gone and we were still facing several years to adopt our baby. We weren't getting any younger, and our patience for our own children and to start our family were growing thin. So, we decided in April, 2007 to adopt domestically.

We were chosen by a birth mother that very summer and we were thrilled. In August 2007, the baby was born. We traveled to Chicago and spent several days anxiously waiting to bring our baby girl, Carly home. But the morning she was scheduled to be discharged from the hospital, we got the phone call from a Social Worker that the birth mother had a change of heart and decided she wanted to parent. We were devastated.

11 months later we were chosen again. And once again we were placed on an emotional roller coaster. We got the call from the birth mother on a Thursday afternoon, and on Tuesday morning, OUR baby Zachary was born. His adoption story could be made into a movie. It was nothing short of a lot of drama, fraud, and scandal. It was not easy, and just like before, we were told by the hospital Social Worker that the birth mother had changed her mind. And we were sent home empty handed and devastated once again. Three days later the birth parents called us. She had changed her mind again and wanted us to adopt her baby. We were skeptical and jaded. There had been A LOT of bad things that had happened during the last week that included all of the above. But we made a plan to adopt. On March 16, 2008 we OFFICIALLY ADOPTED Zachary. It was the BEST day of our lives. Then exactly two months later, we got to do it all over again when we were FINALLY able to adopt Lydia on May 16, 2008! Now we could finally celebrate and we were a family.

I have always kept a private blog. I started the blog in 2006 as a way to document our adoption journey to China - which we have since withdrawn from. After the adoptions of Zachary and Lydia, I knew I needed to help others. Seth and I had a wealth of knowledge from our experiences through infertility, then International adoption, Foster Care, and finally Domestic Adoption. Throughout these journeys I would have given ANYTHING to talk to someone who had walked in my shoes. I would have given ANYTHING to ask questions, to have an ear, to have support from someone who understood what we were going through. This was a roller coaster we were on, and at last, I found it coming to a stop. I felt compelled to put our stories out there and help others. So, I started a new blog, a public hopes to help others.

I have made some wonderful connections through this blog in a short amount of time. I have given and received support. It has been a true blessing. So, that was our very abbreviated story of how we became a family. It was never my plan but it was his and it was perfect!!! I wouldn't trade my kids for 100 biological kids. They are my dream come true and my purpose in life. Every tear, sleepless night and hurt in my heart was worth the fight for them. Our story now continues as a family of four (for now, wink, wink) as we tread our way through this big giant world of life!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Still in Shock-And SCARED!

Zachary's surgery didn't go as planned. In fact, it didn't go at all. I think I am still in shock over yesterday's events. As I try recalling everything that happened, it just seems like a big blur. I have been sitting here at my computer for 20 minutes now and can only seem to get out a few sentences at a time. My heart is still racing, my palms are sweaty, imagining the "what ifs" brings tears to my eyes and the future scares me to the point of nausea. Life threw a curve ball at us yesterday and we were reminded to always expect the unexpected.

Just as I thought, I woke up bright and early to a few inches of snow yesterday morning. I am growing tired of the snow, but as I looked at the window I made a comment to a still half sleeping Seth about how pretty it was. It was a blanket of white shining in the moon's reflection. As I was brushing my teeth and getting dressed, I was dreading the days events. I talked to God and asked him to send lots of angels to watch over my baby boy. I asked for strength and also patience in the next few days, as Seth was gone. I am ashamed to say that the distractions of the morning kept me from having much more contact with him or thanking him for a beautiful new morning and a happy, healthy family. Believe me when I say, those came later!

The plan was for Seth to drop Zachary and I off at the surgery center on his way to the airport, and my parents graciously arrived at 6am to stay with Lydia. We talked briefly about having my mom come with me, but the roads were so icy that we needed my parent's 4 wheel drive to bring us home (rather than my beloved minivan) and it only has one car seat in it. So, it was what it was. I didn't really care. I knew that the surgery would be quick and I would soon be calling them to come pick us up.

We got there at 6:30. There was only one other couple there. My stomach was starting to get butterfly's as I was signing paperwork. The realization that he was just about to go into surgery was settling in. No one likes to see a loved one go under the knife, let alone their 23 month old baby. I am no exception. If you know me, you know that I have a distorted fear of 2 things, birds, and all things medical. I still really, really hate birds, but I have come along way in the medical arena since becoming a mom. Nevertheless, the mild nerves were showing up.

Soon we were called back to meet with the pre-op nurse and the anesthesiologist team. His ENT quickly peeked his head in and said hello. "We will talk afterward" he said and smiled. The anesthesiologist was super nice. He of course went over all of the details of the horrible, but highly unlikely things that could happen when anyone is put to sleep. The reminders of these makes everyone a little uneasy, but you put those in the back of your mind and tell yourself that would never happen to your child. At least, that's what I did. He assured me he would take very good care of Zachary and soon the sweet pre-op nurse was was taking my baby boy out of my arms. I was dreading this part. I thought they would have to tear him away from me and he would be screaming. He can be very clingy at times. He was great though and went right to her with a smile. By the time I gathered everything from the room and was walking back at to the waiting room they were gone. I vividly remember my thoughts while I was walking back. "I didn't get to give him one last kiss or tell him goodbye." She took him so quickly and he went so willingly. I didn't want to make a big deal of the exit in fear he would start to cry, and that was the last thing I wanted. I was just so thankful I didn't have to hear the mommy screams as I was sending him in for surgery.

When I got back to the waiting room, it was much busier with many more waiting patients and family members. He went into surgery about 7:45. I knew it would only take about 20 minutes tops, and I was watching the clock. By 8:00 the butterfly's were increasing as I was wishing every nurse coming out of recovery was calling my name. By 8:15 I started to get a weird nagging feeling. I kept listening for him to cry. Last time we could hear it all the way out in the waiting room, and they warned me I would probably hear him cry this time too. Something just seemed off to me, but I dismissed it as a paranoid mom and just kept watching the clock and the recovery room doors. By now, the minutes were starting to feel like hours and it seemed like nurse was calling every other family member BUT ME. I think it was a little after 8:30 that a nurse FINALLY came out and said my name.

I jumped up and started collecting the coats, the diaper bag, my purse, etc... when she said, "Dr. Mullins just wants to talk to you. You can leave that stuff here. You will be coming back here." I thought that was weird, b/c last time we went straight back to recovery to see him after we talked but ok...I was taken in the same room we were last time where we we told by the very same Doc that everything went great. I sat down and not a minute later Dr. Mullins approaches the door removing his mask from his face and resting it around his neck. He had a strange look and seemed to be shaking somewhat. The first thing out of his mouth..."He's Ok, He's Ok." I knew instantly that something was WRONG!

This is the part that becomes a big blur, but here is what I think he went on to say...

"He started out great and I was cleaning out the left ear when his oxygen level bottomed and scared us (He went from 98% O2 to somewhere in the 50's. Basically, he had stopped or almost stopped breathing and oxygen was not getting in his body). Anesthesia got him back up and told me I could do the ears, but NOT the adenoids. His O2 was still pretty rocky, but I really wanted to get those tubes in. His ears just suck!" - We LOVE our surgeon btw, and have this kind of relationship with him. I agreed nervously, and said, "Where is he? Where is he? Is he ok?" I just remember asking where he was over and over, as if it wasn't registering.

By now my heart is racing. My jaw is on the floor and I can tell by the way he is looking back at me, that I have a look of absolute FEAR in my eyes. What the hell happened in there?

He continued.
"So, I quickly started working on getting the left tube in place and then his O2 dropped again, very suddenly. Anesthesia got him stabilized and none of us felt comfortable moving forward. We just needed to get him off the table. We couldn't do the surgery."

Me: Picking my jaw up off the ground..."What does this mean? What does this mean? Is he ok?"

Doc: "Yes. He is in recovery. He is ok. It means that something happened under anesthesia that caused him to quit breathing. We assume it was a lot of mucus and congestion in his chest. Several things could have caused it. There is no way to be certain. We sucked a lot of mucus out of the lungs and chest afterward. There is a possibility that some mucus could have clogged the tube. This is rare with these routine surgeries but occasionally you see the kids that just go , and he was one of them. It was scary, but we got him back. It wasn't safe to proceed. Anesthesia wanted him off the table immediately."

Me: "But he's ok right? He's ok? He's breathing and he's in recovery? So now what? What do we do now?"

Doc: "Well, that's a good question..."

Our conversation went on to medications, and alternatives. He insisted on a chest x-ray and also wanted to consult with Zachy's pediatrician. It seems like I was in that room with him for hours, but it was probably just 20 minutes or so. The next thing I knew, I was back in the waiting room. I was scared to death! I just wanted to SEE HIM! I knew things weren't right. They weren't ok. I was sooo scared and sooo alone.

My mom had called earlier to see how things were going. He had just been taken back to the OR, so I didn't have much to report. Everything now had changed...I was shaking. I didn't understand why they weren't letting me see him. Everyone else was being taken straight back to recovery. Why wasn't I? I was scared, but I had no real idea why or how serious everything really was. Or maybe I did...

I called my Mom. "Mom, can you come here? Do you think you can drive on these roads? I need you. I need you Mom."

Mom: "What's wrong honey? Is he out of surgery? How did it go?"

Me: "They couldn't do surgery. Mom, I just need you. I think he almost died mom." I know my voice was quivering.

Mom: "I'm am on my way."

As soon as I was hanging up they were coming to get me. I remember the look on the nurses' face. It was a look of comfort, as if to say, "I know you are scared." I don't remember walking back there. The next thing I remember is seeing him sitting with a what I assumed was a nurse. There were people everywhere - several nurses, the surgeon, the ansesthia team...Lord, I don't even know... I just know there were people.

As soon as I got there, a nurse handed him to me. I cannot even describe what I saw. He was BLUE. His eyes were closed, but he heard my voice and he was trying to open them to look at me. I grabbed him as quick as I could. I sat down, twisted in wires. He was connected to what seemed like 100 different machines. Machines were making funny noises, and were beeping like crazy. People were talking. Nurses and were writing. I don't know if I am wrong or right, on all of this, as I am still trying to take it all in, but it was complete chaos - controlled chaos - but chaos. It was obvious that this was NOT normal, at least not in an outpatient surgery center. Everyone was a little shaken up, and I was A LOT freaked out...but I was alone, and I knew in those moments, I HAD to be strong for my boy. As soon as I saw him several of the sweet nurses saw my face and said, "Oh he looks so much better!" WTF? Are you serious? If he looks so much better, WTF happened in there?!!!

Pretty soon the anesthesia guy looks up at me. He had kind, but worried eyes. "He gave us quite a scare in there." I don't even know anything else he said. We talked for a few minutes but by this time Zachy was waking up and wrestling me. His color was coming back slightly and his O2 levels were going up. His IV was taped around his right hand so it was completely immobile. This made him crazy, mad and agitated! It was horrible. I was so scared. A nurse looked at me and asked, "Are you here alone?" I was. I told her my mom was on her way and then I asked her if I should call my husband. She nodded. I told her he was at the airport and about to get on an airplane and she handed me my phone which was sitting on Zac's stretcher. She told me to call him.

Poor Seth, I scared him to death. By this point Zac is coming too, and freaking out. He was failing in my arms and I had what I felt like a million docs trying to talk to me. If it sounds bad... It was.

I tell Seth..."DO NOT GET ON THAT PLANE!...I don't know what is going on, but you need to be here. I'm sorry honey, I have to go...WAIT he is OK, he is in my arms. But I don't understand any of this, and we NEED YOU, I have to go." And I threw my phone back on the stretcher.

Then MY MOM walked around the corner...OMG...OMG... I have NEVER been so glad to see HER in all my life - at least that's how I felt in that moment. She immediately took Zachy from me and he settled in between all the wires. He calmed down some and started snoozing again. There is just something about grandmas. My kids LOVE theirs, thats for sure! By this time his color is getting better and better. The beeping of the machines start silencing and I am actually able to start asking some questions.

What the HELL happened?

The bottom line was, they just weren't sure. He stopped breathing. His body wasn't getting any oxygen, but they didn't know why. I wanted answers and so did they. Dr. Mullins and the anesesthia team were conferencing with our pediatrician by now. We have had some recent concerns about possible medication allergies and this had all the docs perplexed about how to move forward. He was still full of junk and highly infected. While they conferenced we were sent next door (literally across the hall) to get chest x-rays.

This was an adventure all in itself. His post-op nurse came with us. He only had a diaper on. He was still attached to an IV. He still looked awful. He was so confused and agitated. I was sweating and shaking. I could barely hold on to him as he was trying to fight the IV. My mom and I took turns holding him. When we walked in all eyes were on us. Every head turned and they watched. I am sure we were a sight to see. I was visibly in a state of shock and he was, well...he looked like he had just come back from the dead. The nurse kept checking all his stats. She wasn't leaving his side. As you can imagine, they got us back pretty quick. The x-ray actually wasn't as awful as it could have been. We got them done on the first try. How that happened, I still don't know, but we did. Thank you God. As we were walking back into the waiting room there were a few people sticking heads out of offices to catch a glimpse of us. Finally one man (who I found out later was a pediatric radiologist) looked at me and said, "Is this the patient?" and pointed to Zac. Apparently, they all got word about what happened on the OR table. We're all human. It's like a train wreck you just can't turn your eyes away I guess. As we walked back toward the waiting room, there sat a VERY WORRIED Daddy and Husband. We were happy to see him, but I think, No, I KNOW, he was happier to see us.

By the time we got back to the recovery room, Zachary's excellent team of docs had decided on an antibiotic and they wanted it administered by IV. They finally approved for him to have something to eat and drink, but only brought a little bit of apple juice to us. Zachary wasn't interested. He was fully awake now and pissed. He didn't know what was happening (or had happened), but he knew he didn't like it! And I didn't either.

The rest of the recovery room experience consisted of trying to pacify Zac and his tolerance to the IV. Meds were being pumped into him every few minutes. Everyone was a little calmer. A lot of the activity around his bed with people doing and talking had calmed down. We were waiting on the results of the x-ray and were scheduled to take him directly to the pediatrician. His color was rapidly improving. He was starting to look pink again and his body was starting to warm up.

He received his last dose of IV antibiotics and we were finally released. I asked Dr. Mullins on the way out of he thought his pediatrician was going to hospitalize him. He didn't think so. I didn't know what to think.

By the time we got to the pediatrician Zachy was looking so much better. He was eating Cheese-Itz. The report from the x-ray stated that he had pneumonia. He definitely has a terrible cough and congestion. But all doctors, including myself are skeptical of the pneumonia. They think what happened was a mucas plug. I think that means mucas from the chest got into the tube when they intababted him. They didn't hospitalize him. I have taken him back to the doc for the last two days and he has been pumped full of antibiotic shots. It sucks.

Seth caught a plane out Monday night after he saw Zachy running around. My best friend Amy's husband is a CRNA. He assured me it was ok for him to leave. By 2pm you would have never known anything ever went wrong with him. He was shooting his basketball like he does every night day and playing and acting just fine. Babies CRASH fast and BOUNCE RIGHT BACK just as fast!

He is ok. He is alive.

There is more... there is surgery in the future.

In fact, Lydia is now scheduled to have tubes put in on Monday morning at the very same place. I think I am going to have PTSD walking in there.


Sunday, February 14, 2010

I Don't Want to Go to Bed Tonight!

It's only 3 O'clock here but I am already dreading going to bed tonight.


- Before I even wake up, Seth will be on a plane to CA. He travels a lot for work and he will be gone all week.

- I am waking up very early to take Zachary to the surgery center. His surgery has been moved up b/c we just just can't seem to clear up his ear infections. I know it is a simple surgery and it will all be fine, but a mommy never wants her babies to be sick and certainly not to be put under the knife. I am dreading it, but very much looking forward to Zachy feeling A LOT better!

- It's supposed to snow AGAIN! Ugh...

- I am so behind at work and can't get cannot get ahead with all of this snow and illnesses in and around my house. It's way stressing me out!

The bottom line is, It's going to be one crazy week! It hasn't even started and I wish it were over. Oh well. The good news is, I will have lots of help when I need it! My parents are so awesome!

Here are the kid's Valentines from Mommy and Daddy. They were so excited!

Zachary's Pile Lydia's Pile
Still half asleep...Not sure what's going on. haha.
So happy, she's dancin'...
Awwwww, it's the little things that make me LOVE being a mommy.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Water Park~Baby Ears~And Sugery

We went to the water park in the Smokies last weekend - Just the four of us and had a BLAST! We had such a blast together! Getting away and just having FUN is exactly what this family needed!

And then, there is REALITY...

Why Oh Why do babies, MY babies have such issues with their sweet little ears?
I know, I know...the tubes are small and so on and so on... I know all the medical reasons. But, My Poor Babies!

Lydia is almost 4! But since before Christmas, she has a nagging ear infection -in BOTH ears- that will not go away! She has been on FOUR rounds of different antibiotics and STILL...her ears hurt her. Poor Girl! She is such a trooper though - always smiling, always laughing...I LOVE that little Love Bug. Next week she will be seeing Zachary's ENT. REALLY? At 4? BIG SIGH....

Zachary - Oh poor baby Zac. His tubes fell out a month ago. I swear, the next day the child had green puss and yucky junk coming out of both ears. Well, he also has been on antibiotics for a month straight. He finishes them and the next day we have the gunk again. I don't get it. He should be growing OUT of this by now.

I just feel helpless and worry my kiddos are in pain. I KNOW Zachy is. :(

So. In just a few short weeks Zachary will have tubes put back in his ears. I am so glad b/c we had such great success last time. BUT, he is also having his adenoids removed. It's not a big deal, and certainly NOT a big surgery, but, he will have a sore throat for a couple days and feel puny and I just hate it!

And then I think of all those in Haiti as my bloggy friend reminded me of today and also all the caringbridge blogs I follow that just break my heart.

And then... All of the Sudden...

It's all put in perspective. Life is GOOD!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Under Construction

As you can see, I am trying to change my pictures. Well, my lack of blogging skills has kept me at this damn computer all afternoon and the kids pics are still jacked. Ugh...I will get back to it when I can.

For now I am going to get Zachy and take him to his ENT apt. His tubes fell out about a month ago and since then he has had chronic ear infections. I am certain he will be getting new ones put in soon.

Tonight we are going to the Vanderbilt/ TN basketball game.


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Contact W/ Birthparents...YIPPEEEE!

Right before Christmas, a friend of ours text Seth and asked him if he wanted to go to the Titans game with him. It was last minute and Seth thought about it but opted not to. He was working on a couple projects around the house, and Lydia and I had been gone to visit friends in Florida for a few days and had just returned home. He text him back and told him he couldn't. I was being silly with Seth and said that he was making it sound like "I wouldn't let him go." So...I sent a text to our friend Kurt too. Only instead of sending it to Kurt, I accidentally hit the name above his on my touch screen. I sent it to Zachary's birth father. I didn't even realize that I had done this until a few minutes later when he sent me a text back. I have always kept their numbers in my phone but never thought anything about it.

He asked me who I was and kindly to remind him of how we knew each other. My heart fell to my feet when I saw this and I responded immediately. "K, this is Katie. I am so sorry, I accidentally sent that to you. It was suppose to go to a friend of ours. How are you? I didn't know you had text." - Almost two tears ago, neither his bio mom or dad had text, so this surprised me.

I got excited. I WANT an open adoption for my children, as long as it is healthy. Well, he didn't text me back so I took this as a sign - That this was the wrong number. Even though I was sending regular letters and pictures to them, they have never responded. I figured that their numbers had changed since 2 years ago. I even assumed that perhaps they had moved and were not getting the letters or pictures we were sending. I don't really think about it again until the next night.

He text me back. He told me he knew who I was and that he was sorry. J (Zachy's birth mom), was there at the time and "it still hurts her." I told him I completely understood and I was so sorry for the accidental text. He then asked me about Zachary and asked if I any photos I could send via media. YES!!! TONS AND TONS - how many do you want? Haha. We text back and forth for an hour that night. J was there and was reading my texts too. He said she was excited about them. It was awesome. It was healthy for both of us and a step in what we hope to be a wonderful new journey.

Since then, we continue to be in contact. It's limited and careful, but it's good! He has sent me several pictures of Zachary's biological sisters, who look EXACTLY like him. And, when Zachary appeared one morning with a nasty skin rash last week I was able to text K and ask him if there were any family allergies. He text me back within minutes and we were able to pinpoint the rash immediately.

I can't tell you how HAPPY this makes me. I want my children to have that missing piece. I don't ever want them to hurt, or wonder, or question their biological parents love for them. With that said, I am not stupid. I know there will be some tough times in their lives as they maneuver their way through their birth and adoptive stories. BUT, the less questions and wonder we can avoid for them the better - at least in my eyes. Equally as important is genetic medical history. We got very little with his adoption papers so the opportunity to be able to ask them when something comes up is priceless.

These texts will not discontinue my letters and pictures. I sent them a long letter yesterday with about 30+ pictures enclosed. They recently moved and I would have never known without our recent contact. I simply text K on Sunday and told him I was sending the letter and asked if they still had the same address. he text me with the new one they had just moved too, and also confirmed that they have gotten every letter and all pictures I have ever sent. This makes my heart HAPPY. Did I mention that?

Now, the question is...To send Lydia's birth mom a letter or wait? I am so torn. It's a completely different situation.