Sunday, May 24, 2015

Shakir's Adoption Story

This post is going to be very haphazardly put together, but it ain't gonna get done if it's gotta be perfect. :) 

12/07/2014 - Right when I was making a plan to secure us a biological baby in 2015, we were matched for another adoption situation! It was on my to-do list to call the Reproductive Care Center and ask them about their money-back IVF program. Instead, I responded to a post about a family needed for a situation in Kansas. And she liked us! She liked our profile and wanted a conference call with us. We had the conference call and she still liked us! Caseworker called back and said we were officially matched! Holy crap! I sent over the necessary paperwork and the matching fee to transfer over from LDSFS to this new agency. As of today, we are matched with S, who is 29 weeks and 2 days along. She's in her mid-twenties and already parenting two children alone. Doesn't have a relationship with the birth father at all. Abusive situation. Full African American baby girl due Feb 20th. We've got 10 weeks and 5 days to wait and see... is this "the one"??! Can I actually hope again after being so sorely disappointed so often?

I sang in the Christmas program today with the ward choir. Zay said I looked angry, haha. I had to sit up there in the front through the Sacrament & a couple other musical numbers first, so I guess I was in my own little world & Zay caught my "thinking face." :) I was thinking about this young girl who played an awesome piano piece & how cool it would be to get Kal into piano lessons. That's on the to-do list. And then I was thinking about S & about a letter I wrote to her. I'm gonna put it in the mail tonight. I hope things work out with her. She seems so sweet and really genuinely trying to make a good decision for this new baby. I got worried because the facilitator between us called me & made it seem like S was "demanding" more money. We didn't really appreciate the involvement of the facilitator (neither us nor S cared for this middle man). But that was beside the point and we agreed to help her with more expenses if she needed it. It's not just about us or the baby - it's about her and her two children as well. I wanted to make sure she'd have a good opportunity to start again after all this is over and be on good footing. I told S in the letter that we're fine with providing her with more assistance if she really does need it. If all this falls through, the expenses we're helping her with in the meantime I will totally be able to write off in my mind as "charity" and move on. We want to help her no matter what.

A week has passed & I don't know anything more about what the facilitator said or if S has made it back from visiting with her family for Christmas. I'm just waiting, not sure whether I should bother her or not. I really just want to wait until I know she got back & I know she's read my letter. And then set up a time to call her & work out any details. Details like, Is she okay with the contract & has she signed it & returned it? Does she want to hear the names we've picked out? Does she wanna plan something for the summer so that we can get together with her family and meet everybody post-placement?

I'm so sick of adoption paperwork. It'll be so worth it when this is all over & our little Shakir is home with us! But until then, I'm so annoyed with it all! I just want my baby home. And S wants the pregnancy over with. And I'd be so happy if this could be sped up & gotten over with faster. I'm trying to get through this dang paperwork & hang in there till Feb 20th. Breathe, Alice Anne! Breathe! Only 48 days to go. Hopefully less than that. I'm thinking we should drive to Kansas, so I'll have to convince Zay of that (he hates the idea of driving long distances anymore). And we should leave the week before on Fri the 13th, right after work. That Mon the 16th is a holiday off work for me. It just makes sense to leave right after work that Friday before. Weird that it's Fri the 13th... just realized that. The next day will be Valentine's so we'll have to find something fun to do. Explore Kansas, maybe? We may just stop in Denver & get a hotel & enjoy a night before continuing on to Wichita? We'll see. All this will change if she has the baby any earlier than a week before her due date. I sure wish baby arrivals & adoptions were more predictable. The planner in me really freaks out about not knowing "when." At this point the name I'm leaning towards is Shakir Jabar. I still like Shamar Jivan too. We shall see. :)

The countdown to Baby #2 is ticking away! 33 days till travel. 40 days till due date. *squeeeeal!* I can't wait. :) Kal's gonna be a big brother! For reals this time! Right?! I don't see this one falling apart, but we could be blindsided, I guess. Crazy things do tend to happen. We shall see.

Family of three. Someone's definitely missing!

Posted on my FB: Adoption plans are moving along. Things are looking great. I saw a 3D ultrasound pic and FELL IN LOVE with that little face!! Feb can't get here fast enough! :) ... P.S. - I need to make a babysitter list, because this adoption will take place right smack dab in the middle of hubby's semester and I will not be taking much time off work. So, if you're interested in and able/willing to snuggle a newborn for free or free-ish and don't live crazy out of the way, please let me know and I can give you times we'll for sure need it (I made a calendar... trying to be prepared!)

Adoption plans feel solid. S feels like such a sweetheart & we will be so blessed to have her in our family. Only 4 weeks till we travel out there. Zay wasn't sure about the name "Jabar" or about leaving school for 2 weeks. Don't know how either of those will work out. I thought maybe we could take both cars out there so that Zay could leave early if he felt the need. I'll see what he thinks about that. I sure want this to go smoothly. I'm hoping for the best. I feel like life is already crazy as it is. Adding the stress of another adoption is crazy talk, but it appears to be happening, so I better figure it out! Also, thinking about having Shak at a babysitter while Zay is in class makes me sad. I am missing the stay-at-home days something fierce right now. It's so conflicting. There's so much to do & so much to take care of all at once. I can't "do it all" like I wish I could.

*26 days till travel* *33 days till due date* 3 weeks from this Friday, we'll be headed out! :) I am so excited! I'm gonna make a new to-do list & then break it down into what-to-do-each-week. Baby steps. Lots to do, lots to do!

*19 days till travel* *26 days till due date* Man, the time is just passing! I've gotta get some things done! I'm trying not to stress about everything, but I am. I just want things to go smoothly.

Plus, Mama's in the hospital & I'm stressed about that. She's not worried or scared, but she has had several minor strokes & they discovered a hole in her heart & she might have to have heart surgery to correct it & I'm just freaking out about all of that. Ugh. I don't understand how she's not worried. I have to call her room to check on her, because she can't call out long distance & she's used all her minutes on her rinky dink cell phone she has. I called yesterday & she didn't have any more news. The doctors should be deciding how to proceed soon, but for now she just needs to stay at the hospital until that plan is made. She seemed tired, but in good spirits & just bored a little. I am worried about her & hope she doesn't die suddenly. I've missed my mom so much lately & I've been trying to get her to come visit me for awhile now. Then when I knew Baby #2 was gonna be here soon, I wanted her to come visit & help with the baby. That's a big No now, because she needs to stay near her doctors & she'll be recovering from strokes for awhile & possibly this heart surgery they're discussing. I'm afraid she won't just not be able to visit anytime soon, but I'm afraid she's going to die & I'll never see her again & she won't get to meet & love on Shakir like she's been able to do with Kal-El. I don't know how to wrap my head around that right now. So, I'm worried & stressed, but I'm trying not to be.

As for Baby #2, that is still happening. My to-do list is a mile long, but I'm trying my best to get things done. I get annoyed with things like getting our references updated. People take forever to get things done when I need things to be done NOW! Am I right?? :) Only 19 days to go before we leave, so we need that paperwork in order. It's driving me nuts.

We're talking about Elisabeth & Zacharias in Sunday School. A barren woman. Infertility in the Scriptures. Nice. :P

19 days till travel - I can't get over that! That's so soon! Just 2 weeks from this Friday. Holy crap! I can't wait to have that time off of work. Work has been so busy & stressful. It will be such a nice break. Plus, BABY!!! :D :D :D :D ... S has a doctor's appointment on Tuesday. I'm excited to see if she's progressing smoothly. This is her final month, so she'll see the doctor every week from here on out. Let's see... this Tues the 27th, Feb the 3rd, Feb 10th, & Feb 17th. Hopefully that baby will be coming near the 17th! :) I'm so excited! Zay is wondering if we're leaving too early if we take off after work on Friday Feb 13th. But I think that's the perfect time. Hopefully that doesn't cause any contention between us. Hopefully we will be there for the birth & everything will go smoothly & Baby Boy will come quickly & easily. Hopefully we're not being dummy dumb dumbs by driving 15 hours to Kansas in 2 1/2 weeks. We've driven to New Orleans for nothing. We've almost dropped everything & flown to Mississippi before. I don't want a repeat of that. I just want to meet my baby & the woman who is bringing him into the world. And I want it to be a happy time. Not stressful or contentious. Just a vacation & a beautiful moment in our lives. I can't wait, because I believe it really will be like that.

In less than a month, I'm gonna have a BABY! Eeek! I'm so excited! S had her doctor's appointment today & everything looked good. She's dilated to a 2. I have a feeling she's going to go early. I hope things settle down at work a bit before we take off, because I'm gonna be leaving everybody with a lot of stuff to do. At the same time, I'll be happy to have a vacation from real life for a second. I hope Zay will be able to relax a little & still be able to do well in school those 2 weeks.

My mama had heart surgery this morning to plug a hole. She was having mini strokes because blood clots were being sent to her brain. Surgery went well and should solve the mini strokes problem. I was a nervous wreck being 2,000 miles away, but it seems everything went as smoothly as it could have. And I'm breathing a big sigh of relief.

17 days till we're headed to Kansas to meet our new little Superman (Superman was adopted in Kansas, so I'm taking that as a sign that this was the one that was supposed to work out. Yes, I'm a nerd.) ...!!! 

Hi, baby brother.


02/04/2015 - Match is still on. We leave a week from this Friday - in 9 days! 16 days till due date. Baby girl is actually a baby boy. I think she found that out around her 30 week appointment. S has been so nice. I had an emotional meltdown about losing the opportunity to make a biological baby and all the fears about adoption came back. I was weepy all Super bowl Sunday. But I feel better. Just counting down the days. The wait is always mind torture. Excruciating. Can't wait till I know for sure this baby is mine and we can figure out our new normal as a family of four. :) I am terrified and overjoyed at the same time.

Getting the room together... and fighting with a car seat to get it back ready for an infant. Whew. I'm tired. How do pregnant women do this? I'm tired, hormonal, and pudgy in the middle anyways, so I might as well be. Lol.

I think at this point I'm just holding my breath until Shakir is born. I think I've done all the communicating I could these last few months & I'm social-anxiety'd out! I don't know what else to say to S. I'm sure meeting her will be fun & new & be fine. But waiting till then is like, "Uhhh..." I don't know what else to say. Just hurry up & get here, Friday! She's planning on asking her doctor on Tuesday if she can get induced a little earlier. I'm hoping so, but at the same time I hope not too early, because I want to be there and I want her and the baby to be okay. I want to have time to get there. And I really don't want to leave work any earlier than this Friday. I thought a week early was plenty of time. We'll see what happens. Gotta make it to Tuesday first, then see what the doctor says. And we'll go from there. I got a hotel for the weekend we get there so we can really relax & get some good sleep in a hotel first. Then we're headed to a friend's house for the remainder of our stay (a girl I grew up with just happens to live right there in the Wichita area so we'll stay with her). She's been so nice to offer a room for us. What are the odds that somebody I grew up with would be right there? So weird. Meant to be!

Posted to my FB: Our expectant mom in Kansas is at the doctor's today. She's 38 1/2 weeks along. She's gonna see if the Dr will set an induction date for earlier than the due date of the 20th. I'm down with that, because I'm so ready to meet this little guy! I just told her not to get induced today cuz I might have a heart attack!! We're planning on heading out there on Friday. FRIDAY! Like, 3 days from now. I'm not nervous about this one anymore. Just excited and peaceful. Kal keeps asking when do we get to go to Kansas and meet baby Shakir? Ahhhh! Melts my heart!

Posted to my FB: I'm counting down the hours at work today! *squeal!* ... Side note, is it bad luck to travel on Friday the 13th?? :)

Counting down at work... come on, let's go!

My aunt (who I'm named after) wrote me a nice message on Facebook that made me smile: "Dear Alice Anne, I am praying so hard for you and hoping that everything goes well with you always, but especially right now! We are waiting for a blizzard again, not nearly as exciting as we are on about the 5th blizzard in the last three weeks! I am sending all my love to you and will watch for any news. Love from your aunt who shares our name.."

Posted to my FB: Made it to Kansas safely! Met our expectant mom today. I tried not to be socially awkward, but it slipped out quite a bit. Hahaha. She still loves us and can't wait to have this baby and place him with us. Her kids and Kal had a blast together. So everything is looking good! I'm so glad we found her. She is helping to heal a lot of trust issues and adoption-related trauma in our lives. This week will just be a fun, relaxing time for us to all hang out and share in the love we have for this child and our hopes for the future... and get that labor started! She's tried all the labor-inducing tricks in the book, but he's still sitting pretty in there and isn't budging. Haha. It won't be that much longer, though. So we'll be patient. :)

Posted to my FB: If anyone ever wondered what Kansas looks like.... it's basically like this... my eye started twitching a little staring at all the nothing.

That smudge is a bug on the windshield. That's all we saw was bugs and nothing.

Journal: I'm finally getting a chance to write in my journal! This last week at work was just like counting down the minutes! Things slowed down again, so it got boring - but at the same time I was happy because I didn't want to leave a lot of work for my co-workers. That was a relief. 

Tuesday S had her 39 week appointment (even though really she was only 38 1/2 weeks along at that point). I anxiously tapped my toes & swung my legs under my desk at work, waiting to hear from her. I texted her as she was getting ready. I asked her if her she had anybody to watch the kids when she goes to the doctor, but no - the kids come w/her to appointments - she said, "... talk about a handful the doctor is checking my cervix and the baby is beside me screaming :(" Lol. Poor girl! She said, "That's why I'm like induce my labor!! please!!" She gets why the Dr wants the baby to stay in as long as possible but she said, "they don't feel the struggle"... :D She's so funny! I sat there worrying the Dr might say okay let's have this baby today! But he didn't. He won't induce her till 41 weeks if she goes that far, so she was disappointed. She was at 3 centimeters dilated & she had her membranes stripped to help things along. I read up on that & freaked myself out that she was going to go into labor SO SOON, but the days went by & we finally made it to Friday the 13th - TRAVEL DAY! 

I was pretty proud of myself for handling my nerves & being so calm & collected (because I get out all my crazy in my journal, I think). I think I got all my crying out of the way a couple weeks ago! We did some last minute tossing of things in the van, we took some pics to let S know we were on the way, & we took off! 

Kal selfies

Last few days as a family of THREE!

Zay had been in a pretty negative mood the last few days before we took off. I guess his nerves started to get to him about repeating this traveling business all over again. He said he was worried I was going to be crushed again if this falls through & that he was going to have to deal with the aftermath (what a punk!) & that he was afraid I was putting all my eggs in one basket. I knew he was trying to dump it on me when really HE was nervous. My first reaction was to try to comfort him the best I could. It wasn't working. But before I left for work Friday morning I said, "PLEASE don't make this a bad trip with all that negativity. PLEASE." I also told him to buck up, lol. So I was worried I was provoking an argument, but by the time I got off work & we were on our way to Kansas, Negative Zay was nowhere to be seen. Easy-going Zay was in his place & I just breathed a huge sigh of relief. Cuz ain't nobody got time for that. I was calm & holding it together just fine I thought, but possibly only by a thread! I think I needed him to be calm & supportive & positive or I was gonna lose it. And he was!

That first day of driving, we made it 289 miles to Parachute Inn in Colorado. Instead of pushing it any further when it was so dark & we were so sleepy, we stopped there & stayed in this rinky dink motel. It was like a creepy Bates Motel, haha. But the front desk guy was super chipper & offered us soup. It just tasted like he dumped a bunch of cans of soup in a warmer. Def wasn't home made, but it was nice. Lol. He was watching some America's Funniest Home Videos - type of show. 

We had a cooler full of food, so we had choices. :)

There was a sign that said, "If you smoke, take your butt outside!" That made me happy, lol. We're in health country rather than the dirty South (except for all the weed heads, I'm sure... ha ha). It just made me think back to our New Orleans trip & choking on the smoke everywhere we went. This is a completely different trip, even if Zay says it brings back his feelings of anxiety from that time. I think it's because we're both suffering from PTSD, honestly. I feel silly to admit that it caused us so much trauma to have that Louisiana adoption fall through, but it did. Now we're here making that same kind of adoption trip, but it's NOT the same, we are reminding ourselves. This one's different.

I hopped in the shower at the Parachute Inn & the heat & power of the water almost knocked me out of the tub! I fought with the water & got it everywhere & it sort of reminded me of a scene from Groundhog Day, so I started humming the Pennsylvania Polka song & got it stuck in my head that night. I really thought we'd drive all into the night, but I was glad we stopped. We got some rest. Kal got his own bed & fell asleep as soon as we turned the lights off. Zay & I had some good ole alone time and then passed out. I love hotel beds. 

Groundhog Day video:

We got up early the next morning, grabbed all our stuff & some breakfast, & headed out for the next 722 miles & 10 hours of driving. It was supposed to only be a total of a 15 hour drive, but with all the breaks & stops, we made it in 24 hours on the dot. Except we lost an hour moving to Central Time. 

Memories from the drive:
* Kal squealing about how we're "going to Kandass!?" ha ha... instead of Kansas. "To get baby Shakir?!" He is definitely excited! This whole trip to get his baby brother is just blowing his mind.

* Losing GPS signal in southern Utah & getting lost. Whoops. I was driving, so.... my bad.

* Stopping to eat lunch at a rest stop in Colorado & doing some stretches on the bench near the lobby.

* Zay & I talking a ton & really catching up. No arguing. No negative feelings. No anxiety about the trip. Just talking & laughing. It was so fun.

* Playing the new Michael Jackson CD over and over, singing it at the top of our lungs (Kal too - he knows more of the words than we do!)... Seeing a "No Name" sign and laughing so hard cuz we were just singing the lyrics, "Take me to a place without no name!"

No Name!

"A Place With No Name" music video:

* Zay laughing at me trying to whistle because I'm the worst. I really am. It's kinda embarrassing.

* Trying to hold a note as long as we could. I did it until I let out a weird squeak at the end - my last pocket of breath. Zay did it & sounded like that one character on a Bugs Bunny episode when Bugs had him singing an opera note for a crazy long time. Then Kal chirped in & he held it for like 3 seconds (tops) & we CRACKED UP!! He's so hilarious sometimes. I told him, "Good job Kal!"

Bugs Bunny video:

* We had just left a gas station where Kal had peed, but all of a sudden he HAD TO GO POTTY! The next Rest Area was who knows how far away. I had brought his little toddler potty for emergencies, but didn't really expect to have to use it. I got him unbuckled & sitting on the potty & proceeded to go #2. Zay freaked out & rolled down the window because it stunk so bad, even though it was freezing & windy out there. He eventually pulled over & told me to dump it out off the side of the road. I was struggling trying to squeeze in the back, wipe his butt, then drag that potty outside to dump & rinse out with a water bottle. Gross! When we were back on the road, I was giggling & looking at Zay & he was closing his eyes & shaking his head like, "Did he really just crap in the car?" HA HA HA. Being parents is pretty awesome.

* Seeing an "Adoption Not Abortion" sign & lots of "Jesus, I trust in you!" signs. Awesome.

* Driving through the mountains in Colorado was gorgeous.

* Helping Zay with his Philosophy homework.

The book that started a million discussions this semester.

* Kal did great. He was annoying at first, asking when we were gonna get there. But he slept & watched The Little Mermaid & some Superman cartoons and eventually stopped asking so many dang questions and accepted the fact that he was getting tons of screen time!

* I brought Kal some Jumbo Crayons & a Captain American coloring book, so that kept him entertained for like 10 minutes tops.

* Finally pulling into Kansas & realizing we still had several hours to go!!! Ugh. With no trees or mountains or anything to look at in the meantime.

There's SO MUCH Kansas left!!!

* Driving through Kansas was BORING. The last handful of hours was like, "Oh - COME ON!"

* Finally pulling into our hotel. It was nice! Two TV's & a kitchen & living room! There's even a dishwasher. I loved it. :) Plus the fact that we were done driving for the meantime felt absolutely amazing. 

Journal: So, we made it here, to Cresthill Suites. We made plans to go out to eat with S. I wanted to go ahead & get it out of the way so I wouldn't procrastinate & agonize over it. I was on autopilot. Just get changed, throw on make-up, get Kal bathed & changed, get in the car & go. Seriously, just autopilot & no emotion. That's how I get through crazy situations like this. Just do it, & don't for a second think about it or feel something about it. Just go. 

We let S pick the place & it was a rinky dink hole in the wall Chinese place. I was imagining a nicer restaurant so we'll have to go out again later in the week to a nicer place, cuz cheap Chinese is not what I would've picked. Ha ha. Just saying. We waiting 10-15 minutes or so & I just tapped my foot under the table until I saw her coming in.

Taking selfies while we wait.

I recognized her immediately even though I'd never seen a picture of her. Beautiful dark skin, micro braids, big ole pregnant belly, carrying her 1-year-old with her 5-year-old following behind. I hopped up, broke into a grin, ran & gave her the biggest hug & just held on tight. 

I saw her little man on her hip & just broke down at the cuteness. Lots of awwwws. I asked could I hold him while we all got seated. I perched him on my lap & he kept me warm while we were sitting so close to the dang cold air outside in that small restaurant. I played with his hair. She had braided it up into four cute little plaits. Her little daughter was just crazy adorable too. S's pregnant belly really jutted out & looked like it got in the way a lot. I could tell she was doing her best but was so ready to have her belly back. I'm pretty sure she said those exact words.

Kal made his presence known by walking right up to her, pointing, and saying, "My baby brother is in your stomach." So matter-of-factly. I didn't know whether to be embarrassed or not! This kid has no filter. She just laughed and said, "Yep!"

She told us about all the labor-inducing things she had been trying & how ready she was to get this labor going. She talked about the birth father and told some crazy stories about how dysfunctional they'd been. I was actually floored by some of the things she said. I totally forgot about the drama that goes on in people's lives. I've been really sheltered for the last decade. She had me laughing at all the crazy. I felt socially awkward at some points (like I tend to do), but we all really got along great. 

We talked a little about openness afterwards. Zay asked some good questions. We stayed for almost 2 hours & I felt bad for the poor people working at the place, because the 3 kids were running around like maniacs. Kal was hyper & feeding off the energy of her two kids. The little one was dancing around & copying everybody. He would do this little squat & slap both hands on the ground beside his feet. Lol. I couldn't believe how adorable he was. Zay picked him up & had us all laughing because he would mimic Zay making a basketball "swish" sound and making a "shoot the J" arm movement. Little copycat! So cute.

S told us about their father and why she didn't mind my pale self being Shakir's mom. :) She's got "mixed" kids of her own, so she was totally comfortable with our mixed race family raising her full-black baby. We talked about serious stuff but we also joked around a ton. She's pretty hilarious. I thought that same thing through all the texting we've done over the past few months, but she's even funnier in person. It was really easy to talk to her & she has no qualms about the adoption & it was just really comforting to meet her & get to know her in person like that. I wish we had taken her to a nicer restaurant, but she didn't seem to mind. She seemed comfortable there. And wasn't too embarrassed with the kids running around like lunatics, ha ha. So that made me feel better.

We wished her a Happy Valentine's Day & gave her some perfume & a necklace that said "I Can Do Hard Things." I wanted her to have a little reminder to reach her goals she's set for herself after all this is over. We said our see-you-later's & made a plan to do something fun on Monday, like go bowling. She said she's never actually been bowling & I was like, "Whaaaaat." Ha ha. That was kind of sad to me! Who hasn't been bowling?? So hopefully we'll go bowling & eat at a nice restaurant this week. I'm so glad we made it here before she gave birth so that we could have that time to meet her and then get settled in. So far so good on the perfect timing.

Today (Sunday) we actually had a day to do absolutely nothing, so we spent it just enjoying our hotel. It's super nice! We had cereal & waffles & biscuits + gravy for breakfast. 

Kal slept all curled up in a pack-n-play last night with his "baby" pajamas on that he likes so much. 

It hit me that he wasn't going to be my baby anymore... very, very soon. (P.S. - Last night Kal started crying in the middle of the night and it scared me and I didn't know where he or I were. I hopped up so fast, got disoriented, and ran into the wall!! I've got a huge bruise to prove it... Zay on the other hand, slept soundly and didn't notice...). 

We worked out in the fitness room a little bit & I stared longingly out the window at the outdoor pool, covered for the winter & a fresh dusting of snow covering everything. We thought we might get away from the cold when we got out of Utah, but it has been freezing here!!! And warmer back home. Dang!

We explored the hotel, ate up food we had packed in the cooler, sat in the front lobby watching the movie Groundhog Day (funny that was actually playing!), ordered Knolla's pizza, & relaxed.

It's nice to have a real vacation day. No baby yet. We've got plans to do something fun tomorrow. So today, we rest. We didn't go to Church, but plan to go next week. We needed the day. Zay watched the NBA All-Star game. We got Kal to bed & we stayed up late to catch the newest episode of The Walking Dead. I felt like I gave an honest effort to keep the Sabbath Day holy by waiting to watch The Walking Dead at midnight when it's technically Monday. :) Ha ha ha.

We decided today to take S and all the kids to Chuck-E-Cheese rather than bowling. We want to shake that baby out, but I don't know if bowling at 9 months pregnant is actually a good idea. :) But first, we needed to check out and take all our stuff to my friend's house where we'd be staying.

Breakfast at the hotel before we checked out.

Chasing the geese around the icy cold yard at my friend's apartment.

Kal's sleeping spot - couch cushion thrown in a corner - yeah, we're ghetto. He didn't mind. Told him it was like camping. :)

My friend totally had the guest bedroom set up like a hotel. Little chocolates on the pillows and "things to do/see in Wichita" that she typed up for us. How awesome is that?!

Something I doodled at the kitchen table at my friend's place. I'm not an artist, but I like to grab crayons & colored pencils and pretend with Kal every once in awhile. :)

At Chuck-E-Cheese's!

We stayed for a few hours and wore the kids (and ourselves) OUT, so we scratched plans to do anything else that day and decided that we would meet up with S the next day (Tuesday) and I would go to her doctor's appointment with her. She was apologizing that she got tired and I assured her we were all tired, no need to apologize! She's too sweet.

02/17/2015 - Dr appt

Waiting room.

Waiting room shenanigans.

In the room with baby mama. :) Come on, baby! We're waitin' on ya!

Posted to FB: At the Dr's office with our baby mama. She's 39 weeks and 4 days. Gonna check things out and see if there's any progression. — at Associates in Women's Health-Kansas.

She totally introduced ME to her doctor as her baby's mama and that just made my heart soar, haha. For the first time I felt like I was the one "expecting." It felt nice. I was just grinning away.

Posted to FB: We are going to labor and delivery today!!!

(sent to L&D for signs of preeclampsia)

She's getting induced. She has high blood pressure and a little protein in her urine. She mentioned her legs had been swelling for awhile now, she just didn't think to mention it at the last appointment. That was reason enough to get labor going. The doctor said, "Wanna go to labor and delivery?" and I don't think she was expecting to hear that, so she almost leapt up off the table and let out a yelp/cheer of "yes!"

We all separated for a little bit to eat and get prepped and ready for the hospital. S had a family member watching her kids. The lady who works at the agency drove S back to the hospital where we all met back up. Bless this lady's heart, but she is so scatterbrained. One thought just ran into the next. She hopped out of her car and came to ours and started rambling at the window. This was our first time ever talking to her. I'm sure she's a really nice lady - but I couldn't really follow what she was saying. Ha ha. I gathered she was excited about the whole process and about meeting us. She finally headed back to her car where S was waiting and we followed her to where we needed to park. Zay gave me a look like, "What in the world?" I don't think we saw her again after that point.

We were completely involved in everything at the hospital. Whenever things "got serious," Zay was out in the hallway. When Kal was awake, he was out there with him. But I was there. I was involved. I held S's feet steady on my knees as they put her epidural in place. I got to see how everything goes down during an induction and labor. This was something I thought I'd never be a part of. Bless S for sharing this moment with me, holy crap. It was beautiful and overwhelming.

Posted to FB: Looks like we are camped out here tonight. Water broken, epidural in place. Just waiting. Maybe we've got time to sleep a little bit... — at Wesley Medical Center.

At one point in time I was so overcome by what was happening, I must have had a pretty strange look on my face. S asked me if I was doing all right over there on the cot in the corner. Lol. Ummm yes, woman who is in labor and sacrificing to give me this wonderful gift - I am doing just fine!!! But I do distinctly remember thinking at the time (and saying to Zay) that giving birth is something I never, ever want to do. Ever. Not my cup of tea.

Walked over to Spangles to grab us some food.

Camped out.

I'm exhausted and I'm not even in labor. I slept for awhile and woke up right as they were asking her to push.

He was asleep on a cot in the corner when his brother was born.

I'm legit, cuz I have a wrist band.

02/18/2015 - born 4:02am 8lb 19 in - It's a boy! Wrote blog post "Born." Name we decided on: Shakir Malik. I cut the umbilical cord and remember thinking it was super rubbery and weird!!! I called Zay into the room after he got here. He said he didn't want to be in the room for that "horror movie." He also used the term "murder scene." Yeah, there was a lot of fluids going on and it was super gross. Awesome, yes. But birth is not pretty.

They eventually gave us our own room separate from S's and we passed the baby back and forth depending on who was awake and who needed time with him.
02/19/2015 - first bath, newborn photos, placement day/TPR

My aunt posted to my FB: The smile on your face tells it all--exhaustion, triumph, all the waiting and hoping, and the LOVE for your children-- blessings and love to you from the other Alice Anne.

Kal "helping" me by scribbling all over the checklist the nurses give you to fill out how often you're feeding the baby and changing his diapers.

Kal taking pictures. I kinda liked this one. :)

I got lots of congratulations and was treated like I had just given birth, so that was interesting.

S was able to sign termination papers 12 hours after baby was born, but that would have been about 4pm in the afternoon that day (Wednesday) and the social worker couldn't be there until that next morning, so we technically waited more like 30 hours and TPR was done on that Thursday morning. The lawyer from the agency came to the hospital, talked to us for a second, we filled out some paperwork, he left to go to S's room, and we waited silently for him to come back. I imagined all the different things he could say when he came back in the room, "She's changed her mind... I'm sorry, but she won't sign... There's been a change of heart... She'd like more time..." I think what he actually said when he came in was, "That was quick and easy." Something to that effect. I let out a breath, wrote him a check that included that extra amount we had agreed to, talked about what came next, and he left. I breathed easily for only a minute and then hopped up to go see S. I came in her room and sat on her hospital bed and put my arm around her and asked her how she was and if signing was hard (dumb question). She reassured me that she had thought about this for a loooong time. She admitted to Zay later that it really was hard, but that she knew it was the right choice for her and him.

A lady came and took newborn photos right before we left the hospital Thursday afternoon. I posted some HERE.
Ha ha. This one made me laugh!

Eating at the cafeteria.

S came in our room as we were packing up to leave the hospital. She loved his little sweater vest. Zay dresses in sweater vests all the time, so I knew baby Shak had to wear this one when I saw it! We planned to do something on Saturday and we said our see-you-later's. She'd be staying at the hospital a little longer.

Shak in his "take-home" outfit.

We brushed his hair with a soft bristle brush and it stuck straight for a little bit.

All bundled up and ready to greet the freezing Kansas air.

We left the hospital before S was able to. They had to monitor her blood pressure and make sure she was completely healthy from the preeclampia scare first. We came home deliriously happy and oh-so-tired back to my friend's house. We were greeted by her husband and I think I yelled something like, "Look at the baby we stole from the hospital!" because I'm loud and ghetto sometimes and say weird things. Come to find out my friend had just learned that day that she had a good chance of losing her twin pregnancy. We felt pretty dang awful for bringing a baby in their house.

02/20/2015 - actual due date, birthmom healthy and discharged

Posted to my FB: This adoption went soooo smoothly. I feel like we've made a life-long friend with Shakir's birthmom. Kal is helping with the new baby (after a bout of clinginess) and we get to vacation with friends until sometime next week when we get clearance to leave the state. All the stress of when & how we were going to get Kal a sibling has just melted away... I love our little family of four!!! Life is surprisingly awesome sometimes. :) PS - I love these chunky cheeks and dimples! He's also gotten like 10 shades darker in 2 days. #darkchocolate #cocoapuff 

We met the lawyer at a court to meet the judge who would be handling our case and finalization. It was interesting to meet him well before finalization. He liked that we were LDS and encouraged raising our baby boy up with strong values. He signed some papers and he and the lawyer decided on a finalization day: April 10th. We wouldn't have to come back to Kansas for that. Everybody shook hands and the lawyer told us he'd give us a call as soon as ICPC cleared and we could leave the state.

Zay, trying to catch up on some basketball while snuggling the boys!!


Our friend's water broke and she was losing the twins (at 17 weeks along), so we spent Sat morning figuring out where we should stay while they were going through that and had family coming in to help them. Bringing a newborn into the house & us being there while she was gonna be doing some hardcore grieving was just not a good idea. Once that was figured out, I texted S to see if she still wanted to do something with us today and say "goodbye for now." She had already left the state. :(

At a family's house in the local ward

Journal: Well, one of the biggest weeks of my life & I didn't journal all the way through it! I tend to do that. So much is happening - so much that I should be writing down - that I don't write at all. I'm gonna try to catch up, but for now I'll write about today & I'll work my way backwards. Because I want to remember all this while it's still new. I want to record it while it's still fresh in my memory, even though delving into it all feels like a monumental task considering this past week has felt like a MONTH. I'm sitting in Sacrament meeting right now in the Andover ward.

Kal is being kinda outta control. I understand he's going through a hard transition right now & he's acting out, so we've been giving him extra attention & help to get through this & understand his new normal, but he can't walk all over us. Nope, not gonna happen.

Zay & Shakir are back at the house, & by "the house" I mean at a really nice couple's house from the ward here. A nice couple & their 3 little boys offered us a place to stay when it just wasn't a good idea to continue staying at my friend's place. It was a good move, because the family has a huge basement with toys galore for Kal. It's a very kid-friendly place to stay. We stayed there last night for the first time. It was such a dang cute house with so much space & so kid-friendly that it got me thinking about buying a house again. I laid in the bed last night looking up houses for sale in Orem UT & in Acworth GA. I'm still conflicted about where we should live & where our life should take us next. Having Shakir there, sleeping in between Zay & me on the guest bed just overwhelmingly made me want to buy a house & settle down. I just can't decide where or how or when. But I see that in our future. I really wish we had bought a house in Utah 10 years ago, but I had no idea we'd still be there at this point in time. I'm also worried about Mama & wonder if she would be happier out in Utah with us. And part of my decision-making is influenced by what would make her happy. I don't know if I should focus so much of my decision-making on her happiness or not. Part of me thinks I can find a perfect solution that makes EVERYbody happy & part of me thinks I'm so stuck trying to make everybody happy that we won't be able to make the best choice for us.

I'm in Sunday School. I managed to get Kal to Primary without wanting to knock his block off!! Man, I love that little boy to death but he sure has been pressing my buttons.

It's interesting to me that I can go practically anywhere & have an LDS ward there to greet me. The Church is true & the Gospel is the same wherever you go! It's kind of awesome that when we needed a place to stay, all we had to do was call the local Bishop & there are always Mormons totally available to serve & ready to open their homes to strangers. It's amazing, really. I love that comfort & support system.

Before we left my friend's place, Zay, Kal, Shakir, & I went to a nearby park. Kal played, Shakir slept in his car seat (that Zay carried all the way to the park because we didn't bring a stroller), & Zay & I talked about the pregnancy loss & how sad it was & Zay wondered what God tries to teach us with those type of things. He said he found some comfort in knowing we aren't alone with fertility problems. Not necessarily finding comfort in someone else's struggles, but I knew what he meant. Infertility can be really isolating. Ugh. The unfairness of it all just pains me.

I'm in Relief Society. Somehow I chose a weird day to attend Church here because it's ward conference & they have stake leaders teaching the lessons. Some nice sister missionaries introduced themselves to me - probably wondering if I was an investigator, the way I was wandering around the halls. They were sweet, but I just want to sit in the back & write in my journal & blend into the background, haha. I'm only here for one day, people! Leave me be. :P

Zay is back at the house with baby Shakir. He is so ready to get back to Utah. So ready to get the word that we can leave. We're thinking it'll take till Wed, but we might get lucky & get word earlier. Our lawyer apparently does this over & over, all the time. And he said it was very probable we could leave by Wed. So, we're just waiting it out. The earliest could be tomorrow. Part of me is ready to get home too, especially for Kal's sake - he needs to get back in his routine. But part of me does NOT want to go back to real life & work & Cub Scouts & braiding hair. That sounds horrible. Lol. I want to stay on vacation with my family forever! It's been so long since I've had days when I could say, "Hmmmm... what should we do today?" I'm starting to get used to the freedom & flexibility! :D I have seriously needed this time away. I haven't taken a day off work the entire 5 months I've been working at my new job. I have a new baby! And I just wanna stare at him all day long. :

Yesterday we were supposed to meet with S before she headed back to Arkansas. She's got plans to go to college there. We had talked a lot about her future plans and I reminded her that she could do hard things & I'm really hoping she follows through & goes to college & gets a job & continues to raise her kids to the best of her ability. And I hope she keeps in touch, because we got a weird feeling yesterday that maybe she wouldn't. She took off before we got the chance to meet up to say goodbye. And, that was that. She said she didn't want a hard goodbye & I completely get that. Zay even asked before then, "You think S's gonna take off without saying goodbye?" And he was right.

02/23/2015 - first pediatrician visit (in Kansas)

Journal: We just got done eating some sammiches upstairs. This house is so comfortable! I WANT ONE! Also, this family has been so super nice to us & have prayed over us & fed us & treated us like we wern't just total strangers they opened their home to. Lol. We participated in their Scripture study last night & got to enjoy family dinner time. That's what we want for our home and all the little kiddos we bring into it - to have a HOME where everyone is included & can feel safe. We have a lot of positive examples to emulate and it saddens me that not everyone has that.

Kal is playing with their 4-year-old son right now. Having the time of his life, because they have their own bouncy house! Lol. They are literally bouncing off the walls right now & giggling up a storm. I want a bouncy house! Zay says that's a white people thing. Lol. To give kids things like big ole bouncy houses! Ha ha ha. I'm glad Kal's happy right now, because I was in tears two nights ago when he had a screaming & fist-throwing meltdown. All of these changes have been so much to take in for his little brain. I felt horrible. I've never seen him behave like he has on this trip. And I cried about it. Because it's a hard transition for him to make to be a big brother all of a sudden & to top it off he's bouncing around from house to house & hotel to hospital to hotel on this trip. Maybe it's all been a little overwhelming & the outburst was totally normal. But every step I take as a mother I worry about how it's affecting him. My little Kal-El. Firstborn in the wilderness. Lol. Breaking my heart to see him melt down in anger & tears. But at the same time, I know we're doing the right thing by adopting another baby & being here right now. They are going to be best buds. I just wish this could've happened 2 years ago. He's been so lonely. Hearing him playing & laughing & being so happy here with his new friend is bittersweet. Because I wish he had a two year old brother by now, you know? That failed adoption still lingers on my heart & adopting again will ease that pain over time I'm sure - but right now it's a trigger for me.

Even though he's thrown some tantrums with us, he's been super loving & protective with his baby brother.

All Shakir does is SLEEP!! Sleep & then eat a little & then sleep & poop a little & then sleep. Lol. Now I see why Zay said Kal was so boring when he stayed with him at home when he was a new baby. Right now he's sleeping on the bed next to Zay while he's watching something on his laptop. I'm stealing Kal's twin bed so I can have room to spread out & write while he's running around & having a good ole time. Shakir has been sharing a bed with us the past few nights. I've never been an advocate of co-sleeping, but we just did it because it was soooo much easier. I love my sleep & hopping up to walk over to take care of the baby was too many steps. Lol. I'm not sure what we'll do when we get back home, but for now co-sleeping is working.

We've got a few different nicknames for him. S called him Cocoa Puff & I thought that was adorable! We call him Shak (makes me think of Shaq the bball player), Baby Shak, Nugget. That one just came out when I was looking at him. Kal was Buddy & Booger for the most part. Guess Shakir will be my lil Nugget. "Shak" doesn't really flow off my tongue just yet, but maybe it'll grow on me. Cuz I like the idea of all my favorite boys having a short, one-syllable nickname - Zay, Kal, Shak. It's cool. :)

Shakir has gotten like 10 shades darker since he was born. It's awesome to watch. His skin is gonna be so beautiful! Such a handsome little fella. I feel bad admitting it, but I think it's gonna take longer for me to bond with Shak than I did with Kal. It was instantaneous the first time around. But this time I feel like my heart's so beat up that it's gonna take some time to really accept that he's here with us & my heart can relax & let him in. I'm not worried. I know I just need more time. But I do feel guilty that it didn't just wash over me at first. I was actually in quite a bit of shock at the time. But he's here now & S has entrusted him with us & has already left. So it's interesting to have all this time before we go back home to just soak this in & take it easy as we adjust to having a new baby. I didn't expect to have so much space in these first few days. I thought I'd be sharing these days with S. Now that she's gone, I'm left wondering how this all happened so fast?! And here we are. I wanted this. I fought for this. And he's here. Wow.

FB post: Writing in my journal and snuggling with this little nugget. Passing the time leisurely until we have to go back to the real world. :) I'm hoping we'll be able to leave Wednesday, but we are at the mercy of adoption laws concerning babies passing state lines, so we will just be sitting here and waiting until we get that clearance phone call!

I took Shakir to his first pediatrician visit this morning. His circumcision ring fell off yesterday & that looked really well. He wasn't too jaundiced. He looked healthy & happy & perfect! The pediatrician I took him to was the one who actually did the circumcision at the hospital. I was hoping they wouldn't say anything about having to see a pediatrician on this trip, but they did so I took him. It went really quickly. Faster than I had time to fill out the new patient info! Lol. And it was absolutely freezing outside, so the hassle of being out in the cold (17 degrees & windchill feeling like 1 degree) & driving 20 mins to go to this appt pretty much felt pointless. Lol. But it was my first outing with baby by myself! So that was cool. Side note: I already loved my minivan, but I love it even more now cuz I've got two kids to put in it!! Also, Shakir was 8 lbs & 19 in when they weighed & measured him at the hospital, but today he was 7 lbs 14 oz (almost back up to his birth weight) & 20 1/4 inches. I think they just didn't stretch him out far enough at the hospital cuz I don't think he grew an inch & a quarter in 5 days. :) Tall boy! I wondered if he'd be tall when he got older because S's other little boy was so short when we saw him. S says she has tall brothers, but birth father himself wasn't very tall. So, who knows.

We're waiting for ICPC to clear so we can leave the state. We've done everything we planned on doing - the pediatricain visit was the last thing to do. So now it's just a sit around & wait situation. I'm fine with it, but Zay is bored & doesn't know what to do with himself without a routine. I think he's nuts to want to get back to cutting hair & going to school, but that's just me! Lol! I'm definitely not looking forward to going back to work!! :)

Enjoying his vacation too!



02/25/2015 - ICPC cleared!

We rode straight back only stopping a couple times for potty breaks and grabbing food. I remember wondering if I was harming Shak by feeding him like this and not being able to burp him (new mom worries... he was fine!)

We ended up having to go up to Wyoming to get back home because we hit a huge snowstorm in Colorado.

Journal: Baby Shakir is one week old! And we are on the road back to Utah! Whoo-hoo! Yesterday we packed up & got ready to leave. Showered. We were PREPARED just in case we could leave a day earlier than we were planning on, but nope. The call came exactly as predicted (Wednesday morning). So, we spent yesterday lazing around, watching shows, snacking on random stuff, & just being bums, hoping that call was gonna come! The family we were staying with were awesome at making us feel comfortable & welcome. That was an awesome experience in and of itself. This morning I was planning on taking Kal with the mom and her kids to a Church play group. As soon as we were putting on our shoes & gonna head out for that, we were told we could leave the state! I did my little sing songy voice & said, "Kal-Elllllll! Change of plans, buddy!" He was a little disappointed at first, but he's been great so far on the road. He always is. He kicked back & slept for a few hours. Now he's drawing with a pen & a notepad I had in my purse. And singing to himself. And talking about the storm clouds he sees out his window. I feel like he's done a lot of growing up on this trip. He always does when something big happens. Zay said a really nice prayer of thankfulness right before we took off this morning. Now we're just shy of the Colorado border. I'm watching our tiny arrow on the GPS inch closer & closer to that state line. See ya later, Kansas! I mean, BYE! We have no intentions of coming back!!! Peace out!

We made it to Colorful Colorado!!! Zay said he's never been so ready to be in Utah before, ha ha ha. So each state we get to is a celebration. He's ready for the comfort of home. I'm not ready for it, but we are going back to the real world, ready or not. This is looking like it's going to turn out to be the best year ever. Seriously! I can't believe how sad & confused we were & now all of a sudden things seem to be clicking right into place. I'm basking in these blessings right now, I really am. Zay & I are working well together as a team. Kal is no longer an only child. My heart is so full! Zay & I were talking about how good things do happen, but God wants us to learn patience. He's been thinking a lot about my friend losing her twins. That really got to him. Life is full of lessons - sometimes they happen to us & sometimes they happen to other people & we get to witness it. No matter what though, those lessons are going to keep coming.

02/26/2015 - made it home at 3am

Posted on my FB: Coming home! Almost there! Can't wait to crash in my own bed! Zay said he's never been so excited to be back in Utah. It felt like a reeeeally long trip.

Baby Shak. First night home with us in Utah.

(Posted later in the day:)
A baby shower, a fundraiser, & a birthday party! ... A friend is doing a baby shower for me & this new addition! If you'd like an invite (she's thinking a Facebook Event invite would be easiest), like this post! I gave her a guest list of all the folks I could think of off the top of my head, but like away if you think you'd wanna come so she'll know who to include! If you want to participate/contribute in any way (help set up, help with food, or whatever), comment here or contact her and she will give you an assignment, I'm sure. :) It'll be Saturday March 14th in Orem. If you know you can't be there but would like to contribute to our adoption fund she's setting up for us, like this post so you can get an invite and learn more about how you can help in that way (no one feel obligated, seriously!!). Also, this may be weird, but we're having Kal's birthday party the same day with the same theme (dinosaur theme!), so if you want to come to one or the other or both, feel free! And like this post for an invite! Just mark March 14th as party day! :) More details to come soon!

02/27/2015 - Zay's birthday 33 years old! Zay spent the day with the boys and I headed back to work (yeah, I know - the day after we got back... We went out to Chili's at night with some friends who were in town this week. Happy, happy bday this year!

Shak slept happily at the table.

03/01/2015 - umbilical cord fell off

03/02/2015 - first time with babysitter while Zay goes to class, first at-home bath, invited everybody to the baby shower/ birthday party for Kal coming up on March 14th

These awesomely long toes make me smile. :)

03/05/2015 - two week pediatrician appt in Utah, looks great and healthy


03/08/2015 - noticed he spits up a lot, trying to figure that one out

Back at Church! Everybody loooooves the baby. :) Paying lots of attention to Kal too so he doesn't feel left out.

"2 week photos":


Crazy hair.

Kal wasn't a pacifier baby, but Shak sure as heck is.


Big brother is a very good helper!


Kal pretending to nap too

Being back home has been great, although heading back to work and school so quickly has been challenging. Those first few weeks we were really exhausted. People brought us food and watched either of the boys as needed, so we've felt supported. We've been in touch with S. Can't thank her enough for what she's done for us. It's like he was always supposed to be here and we finally, finally found him. Holy crap, what a relief. Welcome home, Baby Shak!

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