Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Know It All

Lately I've lost a bit of patience with the unvarying litany of questions I get when I say I'm adopting. It goes like this: "Do you know who your baby is?" "When will you find out?" "How old will she be?" "Will you go get her?" "When will you go?" My responses have been polite but economical. It's not that I'm normally terse (far from it) but rather that I'm bored of having the same conversation over and over. It's just tiring being a source of wonderment and novelty to everybody I meet.

This past weekend I decided to mix it up a little for my own amusement, and that's where I got myself into trouble. I was at a baby shower and one of the guests was doing the interview when I decided to throw in some new answers. "Do you know who your baby is?" "No, we just have to trust in the Lord." "How old will she be?" "We're hoping for under 30." "How long have you been waiting." "Oh, forever...let's's been close to 25 years now!" She soldiered on, undeterred, and finally slipped in, "We adopted a baby boy from Kazakhstan last year, and I was curious how the process differed." D'oh! And just like that I became an ass.

Today I was opening my locker at the YMCA before teaching my Nia class when a woman next to me said hello and complimented my class last week. I honestly don't remember how we got on the topic of Judaism, but she said, "I know something about that; my husband is Jewish." "Well, we have something in common," I replied, "my husband is not." We started talking about local synagogues that welcome interfaith couples and I found myself suddenly sharing, "I also want to find a place where my daughter will feel comfortable--we're adopting her from China." She congratulated me in a neutral tone and we went back to talking about synagogues. But a few minutes later I ran into her again by the door. "I know what you're talking about," she said, "my two sons are adopted from Mexico." I was floored. I couldn't believe that I'd gotten personal with a stranger and she ended up having something huge in common with me!

After class, I walked into the locker room and this same gal was having a conversation with another gal. The first one (her name is Donna) said to me, "This is Karen. She adopted from China ten years ago." WOW! It felt like a reunion, in some totally bizaare, non-linear way! Suddenly I felt like I had known these women for years. And they work out at the Y, just like me! We are everywhere, apparently!

On my way home, I stopped at Whole Foods to get fixin's for David's birthday blueberry pancake breakfast tomorrow. I really needed to pee so I got in line. Next to me was the most adorable Chinese girl of 7 or 8 with shiny, swingy hair and pink sneakers. She smiled at me. She was holding the hand of a 40-something woman who was very obviously not Chinese. I smiled at them both, probably too enthusiastically. The whole day seemed symbolic of something, but I'm not sure what.

Sunday, September 25, 2005


Right now we have my sister's dog staying with us for a couple weeks. Her name is Zooey and she's a mutt who looks like a tall, golden fawn. She has deep wrinkles on her forehead that give her a range of expression from puzzled to deeply wounded. Apparently she was abused as a pup before she landed in the shelter and now she is very odd. She's sweet as pie, mind you, and gentle as a lamb, but she is the most skittish thing you've ever seen. Her own farts send her galloping from the room in terror.

So I feel like we are in training to have a baby right now, not just because we are caring for a living thing with constant needs but because of her unpredictable emotional state. Right now she is curled at my feet under the desk but within seconds she could be cowering in the garden, where she has already worn a groove into an innocent bed of impatiens against a corner wall. When we go to the dog park and have a perfectly lovely time romping and gamboling with the other dogs, she will gladly submit to her leash and walk smartly to the car, then often refuse to get out of the car when we arrive home. She looks at you as if it pains her more than she can express, but she makes her 70-odd pounds dead weight and can't even be dragged out of the back seat with her leash. This is very inconvenient when one is on a schedule. She won't eat her dinner unless someone sits right next to the bowl with her. She won't drink water at all unless you are pouring it out of a bottle into your hand. She has a thing for corners, even though she has a perfectly nice doggie bed in our living room.

Yesterday I woke up after a particularly sound sleep and realized I should take her out since it was quite late. She followed me out to the yard willingingly enough, and began the complex morning ritual of offering me her paw (which she always pulls away if you reach for it, as if to say "Psych!") and rolling onto her back to have her belly scratched. These steps must be completed before she can even think about relieving herself. It was going pretty well when I got the bright idea to sit down in one of the plastic garden chairs to encourage her to venture out on her own. But I hadn't counted on the two inches of cold water puddled in the seat. I reacted to the sudden grip of icy wetness on my bum as anyone might; I leaped to my feet and yelped "Ah!" That did it. Zooey, who was not even near me at the time, froze and stared at the person she had once considered a tolerable temporary stand-in for her mom as if I had suddenly become a grizzly bear. As I reached for her with a conciliatory, "Sorry, Zooey! It's not you, it's me!" she bolted into the house, zoomed into the baby's room, and hurled herself into a ball in the corner. When I tried to approach her, she shook like a leaf. She would have stayed there for hours but I still needed her to pee! I dashed into the bedroom, waking David as I peeled off the clinging wet pajamas and scrambled for her leash. As he opened his eyes, I said, "Is this what parenthood is like? Suffering an indignity and still having to think of your child's needs first?" It reminded me of a time that David and I brought Hannah to the playground and in a foolish attempt to mimic a ring-around-the-monkey-bars, I ran smack into one, blacked out for a second and fell to the ground. David rushed to my side, and as I lay there in the dirt seeing stars, I blurrily glimpsed Hannah making her get-away towards the slide. "Follow Hannah!" I commanded.

Zooey can't tell me what she needs, what would make her feel safer or more comfortable. I can't reassure her that her mama will return. All I can do is offer her another chicken snack and hope I'm doing right by her.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Glide, Baby, Glide

I went to the Baby Corridor today. That's how I think about Miramar Rd., which is basically five miles of warehouse-like structures filled with niche products, many of them seeming to relate to children. All this is on only one side of the street. The other side is fenced off for military use. For five miles. No joke.

So first I went to USA Baby, which was surprisingly serene on a Tuesday afternoon (I've seen it about to implode from baby screams on a Saturday.) I floated around touching anything soft or with a fruit pattern, and finally came to the stroller section. It didn't seem that useful, since most of the strollers were suspended above my head. Not exactly a user-friendly display. I tried to study a few but finally had to get the hell out of there.

Next stop, Children's Land (I am not making up these names!) They have a huge selection of gliders, the specialized rocking chair that people are apparently federally mandated to own before a baby can live in your home. Here's my dirty little secret: I'm not sure what the glider rocker is for. Is it because babies refuse to eat if they're not being rocked at the same time? Is it because they will go to sleep if you rock them? Is it because it's a social construction for a woman to sit in a rocking chair holding a precious child? I'm really not sure. All I know is two things: 1) They are expensive, perhaps the most expensive chairs on the planet and 2) They are ugly. Deeply, irretrievably ugly. And at the bottom you can find a matching chunk of ugliness: the ottoman. Also crazy-expensive.

There. That's what I know. Oh, and that everyone I've ever met with a baby, bio or adopted, has one. Is it a law? I'm kind of afraid to ask anyone for fear the social worker will be sent back to my house to review our case with this new insight in mind--my total ignorance of the non-negotiable necessity of the glider rocker. Oy.

So, today I actually found one that like. It's still very ugly, mind you, but this one is ugly in an endearing way; it invites you to embrace the purity of its ugliness. It has no baby-specific features at all. It comes in a delicious fuzzy material (that's the only way I know how to describe it) in several yummy colors. It is deeply padded and shaped like a conventional armchair, slightly smaller than a Laz-y-Boy. When you sit down in it, you kind of sink, and when you pull the wooden lever on the side, a *built-in* ottoman snaps into place (hello, moneysaver!) Then you can lean back slightly and the whole thing reclines flat, leaving you snugly cushioned on all sides by the pillowy surfaces. And right now, $100 off!

I was tempted to order it on the spot. But the hovering manager, who kept telling me "Your husband will thank you for this chair!" (which seems correct) finally said, "He will especially thank you right after you get home from the hospital!" That did it. I kept my eyes closed for a few more seconds and tried to pretend he hadn't said that, but alas, the spell was broken. I'll bring David back this weekend for another look.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

When It Showers, It Pours

This summer I have been to about ten showers. No, I am not being hyperbolic, as is my usual wont. I'm talking the last month I have gone to one every weekend. I actually feel quite blessed to have so many friends. And of course I learned a lot about the layout of BRU before needing it for myself. But it really is quite amazing. I have been offered a lot of cake in the past three months.

I forgot to mention the most amazing thing about yesterday's BRU experience. When I told the "Congratulations!" lady that I was adopting a one-year-old girl from China, she burst out "Have you seen the food chiller?" It's as if something about my situation directly triggered her response. Anyway, I said I had not seen it, and she droned on about it for a while in a way that was completely abstract to me and I instantly forgot. But when I was returning the gun, she repeated, "Did you get a chance to look at the food chiller?" I told her, quite frankly, that I had missed it completely, but this had the unexpected result of causing her to leap out of her chair and announce, "I'll go get it for you." Synthia and I waited patiently and she soon returned with a unit--pardon my vagueness as I honestly think I've blocked some of this--that looked a little bit like a rubber bracelet with a rubber hole on the top, covered by a loose balloon of nylon mesh. She said brightly, "You just pop a hunk of frozen meat in there, and the baby can suck on it all day, getting nutrients and a taste for solid food, while you gain the confidence of knowing that she has no choking risk!" I thanked her for this helpful tip and we left the store. As soon as the big glass doors had closed behind us, I murmured to Syn, "Is it weird that I kind of threw up in my mouth a little when she described how that food chiller worked?" Syn said she had felt the exact same way!

Anyway, it just goes to show there are products out there that exceed our wildest dreams. ;)

Here's a classic: today my pessimism about the glitches in both my registries was validated when I called both BRU and PBK to find out why I was unable to access my registries on line. The BRU problem was a simple missing e-mail address, but the PBK problem was that the very competent-seeming gal from yesterday had listed my shower date as "October 15, 2020." I think maybe she bored her beady eyes to the depths of my soul and decided, "Well, that's about when we can expect YOU to have a child." Even more frightening, when I reported my suspicions to the gal on the phone, she laughed, which caused me to try to bond with her by making a slightly lame comment about how we'd be traveling to my shower on space ships, to which she agreed, "Yeah, that's in, like, a hundred years!" Oof. Wanna bet she's never had a fertility problem? ;)

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Fun with a Gun

Today I went with Synthia to register for baby stuff. I have waited over 3 years to be able to wield that gun and I was planning to relish every moment of it. ;) But registering is hard work! I wish I could just wantonly spray that red light over every bar code without a thought to consequences, but alas, it is not me. There was a lot of agonizing. At the first stop, Babies R Us, "The Wall of Nipples" took 20 minutes alone! What size bottle? What shape bottle? What brand? Disposable or not? Fast flow or slow flow? Y-Cut or regular cut? EEK! We were so overwhelmed after making our way through "Infant Care" and "Safety" that I was feeling quite reckless by "Bedding" and shot sheets in whatever color was handy. And then there was absolutely nothing left in the carbohydrate bank for the tiny clothes. After listlessly waving the gun at non-skid socks and a fabulous faux-fur leopard-print parka that I simply could not ignore, it was time to high-tail it out of there and get some lunch. I realized afterwards that I never even looked at strollers. And it now occurs to me that for whatever reason the registry is not registering my car seat or baby monitor. Sigh.

We refueled at Daily's Fit&Fresh in La Jolla and were ready to tackle the mayhem that is Pottery Barn Kids on a Saturday afternoon. Luckily all the stuff there is purely for fun (and profit, though not for us.) Sheets that you want to rub all over yourself because they're as fuzzy as a bunny, blankies (actually called "blankies") with tiny farm animals stitched on them, towels with tiny ladybugs, and hooded towels shaped like a frog. We even found the world's cutest plastic plates and cups in every color of the rainbow. I was teetering dangerously toward a gingham arm chair sized for a 2-year-old for $100 when I had to cut myself off. ;)

Now I'm feeling a bit grumbly that neither of my registries is showing on line for reasons that are obscure, but also looking forward to tweaking them over the next few weeks as I continue to study my "Baby Bargains." I feel very blessed to have had Synthia's company today--she was as patient as a saint and also a font of real-life information. She was able to tell me when an item was pure hype and when it was not only useful but I would need FOUR. Ya have to learn that stuff on the job! :)

And when I got home David had built the bookcases (they're a little tall--I'm going to have to separate them until they can behave) and was making the complicated edges of the baby's window look very clean and white with some fresh paint. A very satisfying day.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Rubber Babies

Tonight we attended a Baby Care Basics class at Sharp in Chula Vista with our Fortune Cookies friends Joe and Alicia. I was really glad they were there because it was a sea of pregnant bellies. And not just bellies: lots of belly-related conversation, the kind I can usually avoid, like how to hold a baby for breast-feeding. They do a mighty hard sell on breast feeding in this class, I guess because a lot of the moms seem about 16 years old and need to hear things like "their poop won't smell as much" and "all that sucking will make their faces prettier" to be convinced. ;) But it's awfully hard to sit there and hear things like "breast-fed babies are smarter" and "breast-fed babies are healthier" when there's not a thing you can do about it!

But I did enjoy cradling our rubber baby and learning to put a diaper on her, swaddle her (a skill that we may not need) and how to pull snot out of her nose with the aspirator. I think it was good for David, too, to have a literal "hands on" experience with this baby business. And unlike the preggos, I didn't have to get up every five minutes to pee, so there! :) One guy kept talking about how big breast-feeding mamas hooters are and strongly suggested that our very entertaining instructor, Felicia, show us how it was done on hers, and I kept thinking that I'd rather be infertile than have a baby and live with that guy. ;)

We have been busy bees of late with our home improvements. In addition to the closet, we painted the nursery this past weekend, in lovely Laura Ashley shades of "Just Peachy" and "Lilac 2" (Lilac 1 wasn't quite enough of a statement :)). I painted the baseboards a crisp white and we began painting the complicated bits of the window so she doesn't inhale any lead. We went to IKEA and bought a couple of Bonde bookcases and some great wicker baskets that will make perfect baby-gear storage until she needs them BOTH for books, which, if she's any daughter of mine (and she will be! :)) is certain to happen soon!

A cute thing happened today. I was over at Grace's working on a new NIA routine when she told me that her daughter Julianna, who's 6, had insisted on buying me a gift. When she got home from school, she presented it to me with a flourish: a Mylar balloon on a stick with a pink gingham design and the message "It's a Girl!" How appropriate and lovely! It's a girl indeed. :)

Friday, September 09, 2005

Inaugural Post

Hi Everyone,

We finally created a baby blog!

Last New Year's Eve we toasted with our friends Paul and Mary to having our babies home from China by this New Year's Eve. I can't believe it's already September and we are still on track! After 3-4 months of frenetic paperwork early in the year we entered the the limbo zone...The Wait. Which is what we've been doing since April 12, our "LID," the date our paperwork was officially logged in at the China Center for Adoption Affairs in Beijing. With the wait running about 6-7 months from LID right now, we are looking at late October for our match. The Match. Match Day. Gulp. That is next month! That's when we find out who she is, this little person (a girl, we know that much, and probably under one year old) who is coming to live with us soon. Amazing.

So what are we doing to prepare? Welp, since we moved into a new house in April, we have lots of fun home repairs to take care of, and a nursery that doesn't even have paint on the walls yet. David installed a fabulous closet system last weekend (this kid is going to have the nicest closet in the house! ;)) and this weekend we might finally paint.

Today we signed up for a "Baby Care Basics" class through Sharp Healthcare, which we'll attend with some other members of our Fortune Cookies group (cute name, huh? It's an adoption support group, but not just China adoption--we get together with the other members every two weeks for dinner) and hopefully we'll be told some useful things like how to put on a diaper and what kind of bottles to use and what-not. All kinds of things that people in their late '30s with no children wouldn't have had occasion to learn yet. ;)

Our dear friend Beth is planning a shower for us in mid-October. We are feeling very loved because apparently a lot of people have been offering to pitch in to make this the event of the season. I never thought I'd see the day when I'd be having a baby shower. It still doesn't seem real, but I'm looking forward to it nonetheless! :)

I think that's all for now. I'll be filling in the gaps as we go along. Thanks for reading.