Archives for category: adoption

Last winter I expected Zoé to get sick. I imagined that going from African dry, hot days and cold, dry nights to a typical European winter of dry/wet/windy days and freezing nights would be a real shock for a 6 months’ old system.

So we built up our outings from a short 5 min walk on 01.01.12 to a longer 10 min walk on 02.01.12 etc. Once, she seemed to take it well, we started to go to play groups so she could gradually come in contact with Europa’s typical winter viruses and diseases. She hardly got a cold during the whole of last winter.

Now, comes winter 2012-2013 and she has gotten one thing after the other. It first started with a mild fever for a day or two that was really easy to control and her behaving rather normal. So I did not think much of it but there was this strange urine smell every time I would change her nappy. Because, we were to have her 18 months pead visit, I got an appointment only to find out she had a urinary tract infection, that already found its way up the kidneys (pyro-nephritis)…. bad, dangerous stuff. What I thought would be a short routine visit turned out to be a full and intense afternoon of urine samples, blood samples, emergency ultrasounds and 2 weeks of strong antibiotics. The strong meds cured the infection but also made her more “unwell” than the disease itself. Less energy, no appetite, clingy etc.

Then, a week after, we left to visit my family in law for Hanukkah for a week. DH felt sick as he woke up the first morning. 4 days flu. Zoé didn’t seem to get it (she behaved like sick because of the antibiotics anyways but did not develop fever etc like DH). I felt flu-ish-bad for 1 day.

She stops the antibiotics, eats a bit better. … We come back to Switzerland and 2 nights later she feels burning hot. I measure her fever: 35.9°C. “The thermometer must be broken” I thought. The next day she behaves like her usual self so I forget everything about fixing or buying a new thermometer until the following night, when she feels burning hot again (I of course feel very irresponsible). Comes Saturday morning with the resolution to go to the chemist and have a) this fairly new and very expensive ear-thermometer fixed and b) a real measure of her temperature. Chemist lady did not want to change the thermometer (still under guarantee) and comes up with a bullsh*t story that because Zoé’s left ear measures 38.2°C and the right ear only 37.0°C, said (broken) thermometer is in perfect working condition but that the poor child probably has an ear infection and that we should quickly leave her store, (with broken device) and speed up to the emergency room instead of wasting time doubting the quality of her (bad) merchandise. Guess what ? Not only did we do exactly that, we also bought a new, even more expensive, digital frontal thermometer !!! (Not only feeling irresponsible but now also over-emotional)

We arrive at the pead that stood in that Saturday and of course, we tell him, that our daughter probably has an ear infection. He measures her fever: 39.2°C. There goes the Chemist’s theory on the thermometer not being broken. He checks, scrapes and confirms that she not only has 1 ear infection, but a double ear infection. There goes the Chemist’s theory on hot ear = infected ear. A new course of antibiotics, firm resolution to never, EVER go to that chemist again but happy that her bullsh*t urged us to the Doc, we come home, try to make our now burning hot and miserable toddler feel a bit better. We give her the first (huge) dose of antibiotics that, judging by the look on her face, seems to taste very bitter. We push, push and push the substance inside her miserable (full of little cracks due to a candida infection that flares up under (previous) antibiotic treatment and weak immunity) little mouth, promising that it is good for her and that she will feel better (I, now feeling, not only irresponsible, very-over-emotional but mostly and plainly : “a lyer”…..).

She gets better. We relax. For. 24. hours.

After that, she vomits her antibiotics. She is unable to calm down (read wired) till 23:30 at night and fever slowly but surely surging up to 41°C at Christmas Night. She was anxious. Chanting a mantra. Boiling. Contracting her little fists in cramp-like movements. I was terrified especially when the fever did not go down despite the panadols, ibuprofens etc that we would give her, every 4 hours. While my DH called the hospital’s emergency, I opened her PJ’s, the window, cooled her hands and feet with cool cloth, prayed that the fever would go down …. especially when all we could hear on the telephone’s other end sounded like : “all our lines are actually occupied…” !! Occupied, on Christmas Night ?!

After 30 or 45 min, the fever started to subside to a “stable” 39.5°C…..

We got to the Clinic where, lucky us, our usual Pead was on duty on Christmas Day. He changed her meds, gave her penicillin and was worried she had a beginning pneumonia cause the strangle whistle like sounds she made when breathing. He asked us, to update him in 24 hours.

1 hour after giving her the penicillin, things were looking much better. She was not her usual self, but more playful and her fever was down. We update the Pead 24 hours after and he told us to continue the treatment for another week.

Things looked like sorted. We relax. For. 24. hours.

Fever rising again. Climbing to 39.5°C. We go back to the Pead. Make X-ray of her longs. Take a blood sample and a sample of the mucus in her noose.
X-ray shows that her longs are ok. Mucus shows that she now (also?) has the flu. We stop penicillin. Go home. Be sick. Keep her fever in control. I now also got flu. We slept. And sweated. And drunk water. And slept. And got better. Together.

This experience left me wondering:

1) is this how young children make their anti-bodies ? would it then not be better to give them less strong doses of antibiotics to stimulate their own bodies to “do the job” and create strong immunity ?

2) it all happened exactly 1 year after we met/came home. could her body now finally relax and let her guard down ? is it a way her body expresses trauma that could be associated with abandonment/adoption/radical change ?

Would love to read your opinions, experiences and views …. Please share.

dear readers,

it has been soooo long ago since i blogged. not that i don’t want to. not that i do not have enough to blog about but time is what i am short of.

never could i have imagined that being a SAHM would be so busy, sometimes even stressful ! so here is an attempt to update you but the longer the time gap, the more difficult to re-start so let’s start with pictures which, i believe, illustrate how time has flown by this last year.

referral picture :referral picture

today’s lively toddler:

today's lively toddler

as you can see Zoé is blooming. she is doing really, really, really well. she is 18 months and is picking up a lot of new words. sometimes even making short sentences like “mama douche” or “aba est là” (daddy is here) in both english and french. she is very at ease moving and lately also wants to see the world from everywhere she can climb on. she is very sociable and expressive. she has lots of energy and determination. she is intelligent and quick to learn. she is a happy child !

she is now ready to go half days to a kindergarten but there is no place so we are on a waiting list. to compensate the lack of stimuli coming from other children, i take her to playgroups and activities every day. like steiner school’s playgroup on monday, movement/dance on wednesday and babygym on thursday. when we have nothing planned i take her to playgrounds where she meets other kids and lately, because of the bad weather, she “invites” her friends over or we are invited to go and play at her friends’ homes. so full of life and joy.

our days are all different and at the same time follow more or less the same “schedule”: waking up, change / potty or diaper free for a while, washing up night’s feeding bottles and preparing breakfast, dressing up, going out to buy groceries and stop to play on the way back while i drink a coffee and chat with the other parents who happen to be there too, back home, snack and getting ready for nap, sitting in the sling/ergocarrier and chanting lullabies while i hang laundry, napping for 1:30-2 hours while i: meditate, prepare lunch, do,do again and re-do piles of never ending paperwork, make phone calls. then lunch together, go out to play, have fun, be silly and get back home by the time it gets dark, then Zoé watches TV with DH or skypes to our family overseas while I prepare dinner, bath, food, sleep.

written like this, it all seems so perfectly organized and running smoothly but don’t be fooled. i wonder if it has to do with the way i parent but very often i feel:

– my home has turned in a sweet mess, more mess and chaos (toys all over, cellphone in the oven, shoes in the bathtub, house keys in the cat food ….

– (almost) complete loss of control over my life; not able to plan anything ahead, not a single moment to doze off or dream away a bit, no private space but little hands grabbing all my things (even putting things up does not help any longer since she climbs on chairs)

– (almost) complete loss of control over my daughter’s life; how can you keep her mouth open and shovel food inside if she does not want to eat, how can you make her sleep when she is not into it ….

– being overwhelmed by strong emotions of love, or, less nice, frustration or, even less nice, anger followed by loosing temper and shouting … (read adult version of temper tantrum 😉

I wonder if it has to do with the way i parent, but very often i feel like a bit of a failure as a parent … also i noticed that i never get feedback on my parenting or give feedback on someone elses. maybe it is just that everybody struggles and that raising a little person is just no exact science but one of trial and error, good intentions and silly “mistakes”. So, in the loneliness of doubt and in the glimpses of Zoé’s many smiles, I dare hoping that her good progress and happiness are the real measure, the only that really counts ?

we have a good life and although it is intense without breaks (not even family where i could “drop” her off for an hour to go to dentist, Dr, massage, a coffee….), i feel so complete and deeply happy with it all. a labour of love. it does make so much sense to bring up kids. it really is a blessing to have a child teach us so many life lessons. (i am sorry for my infertile friends who just had to read those last lines, as, deep down in their broken hearts, they know it all but …. so please keep struggling to finally realize your dream. it is more than worth it!!).

i hope to get to blog more in 2013, i hope to go back to ethiopia to adopt a second baby (and third i wish, but DH is not (yet?) agreeing) by 2014 and in the meantime, may we grow our dreams and children with Love and Divine Inspiration.

It is freezing cold here in Europe. No wheather to go out with a baby, until really necessary.

So there they are lying on the sofa, my husband, daughter and cat, breathing at their very own rhythm, like motherhood I guess. I can not think of that moment I read about from other moms, where they suddenly felt their baby’s mother, for me it was more like a process. In fact, I felt like a became a mother while still trying to conceive. I remember my husband telling me ” you have really won your title of motherhood” after one of our many miscarriages. So, I do not know if other woman and man also feel that motherhood is something you have to “win” but when we arrived in Ethiopia, that same feeling came back again.

As soon as I got Zoé’s referral, something felt strangely familiar and yes, even before meeting her in real, I had no doubt that she had to be my daughter. It was as if all the struggles, doubts, and failed cycles endured for years suddenly became one big, obvious and plain fact. as if everything had to be the way it was. it was a powerfully positive feeling.

So we, arrived, in the orphanage, I took Zoé in my arms and everything felt very right but in front of the skilled nannies, think genuine “african mamas”, I understood I still had my stuff to learn. I mean, those endless, practical aspects of motherhood; the feeding, diapering, burping, dressing, undressing, bathing, carrying, worrying,  ….

It was an ambiguous feeling, something felt very right and familiar and something felt very foreign and awkward at the same time. Normally, I am rather withdrawn and in a new situation I tend to observe first and once I feel I know how to do, I’ll start doing. This time it was different, I felt I had to do before really knowing, perfectly, how to do. Something  told me, I had to take over, taking care of Zoé, even if my grasp was not firm and my gestures awkward, I had to “claim”. I guess, what I felt, was a bond between Zoé and her 2 personal nannies. Even though it is a very good thing that she benefited from personal care and attention, I felt this bond had to be broken first in order to start our mother-daughter relationship.

It was very trying. Dh and me both got sick. Imagine spending the whole day with 20 babies, all having diarrhea, coughing and running noses. Imaging, being in a foreign environment, speaking different languages, trying to take care of one baby as an unexperienced new mum and at the same time, having 2 or 3 babies, hanging on your legs, moaning and crying to be picked up, with eyes full of sadness, waiting, for their turn to have parents; to be carried around, be taken care of by unexperienced yet loving hands.

After a couple of days already, Zoé changed behavior, the withdrawn small baby we had first met a couple of days before now  started to make big conversation while we would spend time changing her. As if she was telling me with her happy “gagaa, dadadadaaaa” that she appreciated our presence and care. I guess from there our relationship started to grow. And as we started to bound, I could feel her nannies, letting go, knowing that there now was someone to take over their “role”. I must say that besides being very good at their profession they were also soulfully dedicated to their job. beautiful people.

 

After we passed our second court appointment and had zoé full-time with us, we would sometimes go back to the orphanage to buy more milk or to meet with other parents. Zoé would be on my arms, tucking her little face in my arms like a shy girl when her earlier care givers would try to make her smile. This would of course make me happy and confirm the emerging feelings, strong feelings, overwhelmingly strong feelings of mother love.

Motherhood has something very rewarding; it makes you run all day and walk around a big part of the night, but just that one smile and all feels so very right. Oddly enough that same thing called motherhood can at other times make you feel the most stupid and inadequate person on earth, but then just that one smile or that one worried look in her eye when i go out of her sight is reassuring each others hearts.

So far, i really love being zoé’s mum, every evening i think back about the day we spent together and it makes me smile. a happy smile, and with a light heart i realize i love her even more than the day before, and marvel at how much more this love can grow ?

sorry for the long absence. motherhood is overwhelming but that is the subject of a separate blog entry or a few and probably a few more  ….

i started this blog when we were already well on our way to adopt a baby from Ethiopia and even if this blog contains many flashbacks and reflections about infertility, i feel it is somehow more logical to develop a bit about how our adoption went. I mean not the paperwork part but in the real sense of the verb: to adopt = to make something your own.

you may remember that we had to pass 2 court dates. well by the 1st december, we really got nervous because we did not hear anything from our intermediary despite our repeated e-mails, so we decided to call her. She told us, that our case was actually passing in Court the next day, 2nd of December, exactly the day my husband and me met 17 years ago ! So when you realize that I had been wanting to start a family with that man, 17 years ago, you can have an idea of how much was a stake and consequently how nervous I was till we got confirmation that we passed Court. We then decided that we would leave for Ethiopia and meet our girl ASAP, it would be important at a later stage to be able to tell her that we went to see her as soon as we were legally entitled to and that we did not leave her in the orphanage for a minute longer than necessary.

Thanks to a very nice management and work ethics at my working place, I was able to leave on a very short notice.

During that weekend, we packed our bags 4 times so as not to exceed the allowed limit. Our hearts, they felt so light.
A dear friend with her 2 children drove us to the airport on Sunday December 4. We were supposed to fly by night and reach Addis Ababa Monday morning. We were longing to just get there.

Unfortunately our flight to addis was delayed and we had to stay the night over in Frankfurt. By Monday 5 December around 11 at night we reached Addis and met the Director of the orphanage who came to welcome us at the airport. To our delight she offered we drive straight to the orphanage and meet our baby. We entered the room with 20 babies, 20 sleeping beauties all waiting for their parents to come, kiss them to start their new life. We were shown to a little bed in the corner of the room. Zoé was sleeping peacefully. I touched her gently. Her hands felt really soft her palms like a rare and delicate silk, interweaving dreams and reality.

we got to hold her for about an hour and we then left. It felt so unreal and at the same time even more weird to put her back into her little orphan crib and leave her. we spent the whole of the next day and every day till we passed our second court appointment, with her at the orphanage. getting to know her, her habits, we changed her, fed her, bathed her, put her to sleep, … and she put us to sleep as well….

We have really been blessed during our journey in Ethiopia. A friend just let us stay in her house even though she herself was away for a couple of months. In the evenings we would go back to our friend’s house and organize our room to accommodate our baby. since we had to leave a lot of stuff behind not to pay overweight on luggage, we bought a lot of things in addis and the orphanage also let us use a lot of their baby stuff. we also got to use zoé’s crib which we hoped would help her make the transition easier at night. By 15 December we confirmed in front of the judge that we accepted zoé to be our daughter and that we understood that this decision is forever and irrevocable. We took her “home” away from our “real home” and put her to sleep in her little crib, as close as possible to our bed. At night, you just never know, our dream may have been be snatched away. … By 30 December we obtained Zoé’s passport, her exit visa out of Ethiopia and entry visa into Switzerland where we landed on the 31. Right in time to start 2012 as a family of 3. Carrying less luggage, a tired baby-girl and a strong desire to be able to soon repeat this wonderful experience for a sibling.

It is a bit late to write New Year resolutions but this first post of the year has to be about a girl who took a strong resolution. A resolve to live. To live a good life.

She was abandoned at the age of 12 hours. Found on the side of the road wrapped in an old rag. Somebody picked her up and brought her to the closest and only police station of a small settlement in Western Ethiopia.

The police officer gave her a name followed by the place where she was found. He took a picture of the 12 hours old, skinny baby and brought her to the hospital. He drafted an advertisement that would be hung public in the hope that a relative would come and claim the baby. Nobody.

A team of nurses took care of her in the hospital until she was strong enough to be transferred to a local orphanage.

A team of nannies took care of her until she was strong enough to be transferred to the capital city where she would have more chances to be adopted.

She travelled with another little girl for 1.5 days in a 4×4 on dusty, potholled roads.

She arrived in an orphanage with her little companion in the capital city and stayed there until a SW took her in the transition home.

Her file was proposed to a couple living in Switzerland.

She became a daughter. The couple became parents.

A team of nannies and nurses took care of her until her parents would come and fetch her in the transition home. Her crib was next to her little companion’s.

She met her parents and moved again. This time in a Boeing for more than 12 hours. She was carried out of the Boeing and got little drops of water on her face and realized with a grimace that she never felt rain before and everything was new. Again.

****

Many adoptive parents do not want to share their children’s story out of respect and privacy. Although I fully understand this, I do not feel like that. I feel so proud of my girl; she is such a brave little, spirited fighter. I hope her story inspires many to hang on, to believe, to overcome, to hope, to be strong and brave.

Many times, the world seems soo damaged that it gets discouraging to contribute, to make it a better place. You probably know that feeling: “what good would it do, if I do good, my small actions won’t even make the tiniest difference.” So, I strongly feel that her story inspires to do good. Starting from the birthmother who not only gave her life but also made the hard decision to give her a better life, followed by the person who picked her up and brought her to the police, the police officer, the countless nurses, every kiss, cuddle and bottle offered by a nanny, a document stamped by an officer, and everybody else offering their own small contribution, eventually created a chain, a chain so strong and reliable and so far-reaching that it would completely change the course of somebody’s life.

Whenever you get a chance, Go for it & do what feels right.

Thank you for this great life lesson, my girl !

Dear readers,

It is 22:55 and I should be going to bed and get some rest…. but I have been thinking about you and your journeys and wondering how you are doing. I have been writing mentally, many posts to you, about the incredible joy Zoé is. About my first steps into motherhood and my couple’s steps into parenthood. About our experience of the adoption procedure in Ethiopia and the wonderful work that is being done in order to give orphans a chance in life. About questions and doubts. About growing love, a baby becoming more and more demanding. About the peace of a sleeping baby, the helpless feeling of seeing your baby crying in distress, about her smile that makes the world feel like a better place, and seeing God in the sparkle of her eyes …

It will come, slowly but surely.

In the meantime, some of the pictures that I found a moment to download and very best Wishes for 2012 !!

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Thanks for your tips on “essentials to take care of a six months old”. I got the stuff & activities you advised.

Lately, my husband and I have been a bit stressed. Stressed for next week Monday, hoping our Court date will be confirmed, stressed to get everything ready, stressed for the unknown factors of our baby’s health, stressed for all the unknowns of parenthood, stressed at work trying to get everything finished before our leave, stressed to do everything as good as possible in a short time … All adding up, so that we actually had difficulties to not work on each other nerves and/or hurt each other by short temper and irritated behaviour …

So this weekend we had a good talk and decided to shift our focus. Instead of running around endlessly trying to achieve things and reach an un/existing perfection, we’ll try to remember we have started a dynamic journey, one that will oscillate constantly between change and routine, bliss and frustration, and, motivated by the fact that we have waited for our dear little family for soo long, we want to focus on enjoyment instead of perfection.

Following is some more blah, blah blah ranting about perfection vs enjoyment. To be read if it is interesting for you otherwise just skip and go straight to the pictures. 

Granted, it is in my nature to be a bit of a perfectionist, but I also wonder if and how it could be connected to infertility. Maybe (over)striving for (over)perfection could have had a negative influence on fertility and/or repeated pregnancy loss (RPL) (which does not matter to me any longer),  but surely, IF and RPL have influenced the way I want to do things perfectly now (and this is what matters). While doing ART procedures, and even more so, when confronted with unexplained “failure” times after times, the feeling that: I did not “succeed” because I was not good enough,  seems to unavoidably pop up. So now, that our miracle baby has been “granted” to us, I put extra pressure on myself, something like : “If I do not do everything “perfectly” I do not show I am “deserving” this baby girl and that this “ungrateful” attitude will eventually result in something bad. like carrying the sticky guilt label of a “bad mum” or even worse a cancelled adoption !
Rationally, I know that it is ok that I did not buy the overly expensive BIO milk-powder and that actually, for my baby who was undernourished, it matters little. She just needs food, right ? Well no, emotionally, not buying bio milk-powder is a no-no and I need to go back to the shop ASAP to change and if they do not want to change. Sorry, I will have to spend on the BIO milk powder ànd throw the non Bio one ! Coo-Coo or welcome to motherhood ?
Got it ? Under the need for a seemingly reassuring perfection, hides a deep black fear. Fear of not being good enough and consequently,  the fear of not being loved vs the need for unconditional love.  
Now is the time to shift.

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