Conditions…

Another Christmas has come and gone, and I couldn’t be happier that all the holiday madness is over (for the most part!). The kids had a blast!  They opened up all their presents (AT 6:30 AM!), had our new favorite holiday tradition of Christmas Pancakes (just some green and red sprinkles in the batter)IMG_6440.PNG, went to my sisters, and spent time with family.  They haven’t stopped playing with their toys since Christmas morning.  You have no idea how fun it is to pry a toddler off of a balance bike while he grips the handle bars and wraps his legs around it, to the point that you just carry him AND the bike to the changing table and figure out how to NOT get poop on everything.  That LITERALLY happened!  Levi!  And my house is impeccable now that Noah got a mini vacuum that REALLY works. “Come on Nene, follow mama, and you clean, ok!?”  We haven’t had a scrap on the floor, what with the toy “real” vacuum, and our real human vacuum (Austin)!  Mary has been dying to ride her bike, but NY has had less than perfect Holiday weather filled with unseasonably warm weather with loads of rain, and the one day that was beautiful, we were just so busy, but she has flown her remote control hummingbird all over the house, and into ever single wall, sooooo…

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And since we are speaking of Mary, part of her adoption “contract”, if you will, is that her mom would sign over her rights under very specific conditions that have been agreed upon.  The two main conditions (which also have conditions!) are a monthly email with 2-3 pictures of Mary and a brief snippet of what her month has has been like, i.e. “she is doing well in school.  She scored two goals at soccer 2 weeks ago.  We’ll be on vacation next week and she’s looking forward to it”.  Simple as that.  Not über crazy and not too involved.  I get it.  She just wants to know OF her biological daughter, and I can’t say I wouldn’t be the same considering the circumstances.  She also gets a quarterly visit.  One visit every 3 months, 4 times a year.

Initially we thought everyone on our end would be ok with this, but we didn’t consider Mary’s behavior/emotional well being with the continuation of visits, and ALSO knowing that her birth mom has her baby sister and not her has been a real source of the constant PAIN IN MY ASS that I’m dealing with as far as Mary’s conflicting emotions are concerned.  We’ve noticed that this is a continuous cycle with Mary every time she does/doesn’t have visits, or whenever she does/doesn’t see her mom.  The behaviors, the anger, the sadness is the same regardless of whether these visits happen or not.  In August, mom missed her first visit, which led it be a little over 6 months since Mary had any contact with her birth mom.  She was great all summer, up until the week before she knew her visit was coming.  Then mom missed the visit, and all hell broke loose for about 6 weeks, behavior-wise. 3 more months pass.  Mom shows up in November, with a trove of gifts, which of course sends a whole slew of different messages.  And then the ” I really love my mom.  She’s a good mom because she buys me cool and pretty things” conversation happened, which was really hard to reign in because…ego…

I guess the whole reason I’m bringing this up is because her birth mom emailed me back this time, the day after Christmas (even though I send the monthly email on the first of each month, and she never writes back!) to ask for us to please consider inviting her to Mary’s birthday party.  That it would make her year, and that she would want nothing more than to share Mary’s special day.  Uh, EXCUSE ME!?!  Now?!  After 3 birthday invites?  So of course, despite trying my hardest, my alter Petty LaBelle showed up, and the response was so protective and almost guttural, verbatim, “Hi there.  Unfortunately, Mary is have a huge “Adoption Day Party” (her choice) and we’ve decided to forgo a 9th birthday party and will instead be spending a weekend at an indoor water park with her best friend and her favorite cousin.  Hope you have a Happy New Year.  Stay blessed! ~Petty Labelle” .

And now I feel HORRIBLE about it!  I mean, there was other stuff in the email that she wanted addressed (Mary’s current size, her favorite show/activity, what she’s into now [Descendants!], how her holiday was, what she got, etc.) which I had absolutely no issue with, but I was so caught up in the BS of kind of proving she’s OUR daughter now, that I forgot to be kind to her.  I can’t imagine the struggle.  I can ABSOLUTELY imagine what it’s like to not have my children, and it is the WORST feeling I have ever felt just THINKING about it!  And I should have been kinder, but also, the freaking audacity!  The times that we have invited her, she hasn’t shown up.  In fact, she promised Mary a cake, and fell of the face of the earth, so my “guarded” feelings about Mary’s day were totally warranted, but maybe my delivery was a little too much.

I’ll be kinder next time, placing myself in her shoes, but also, by being honest and beginning to address some of the issues we have with her, will communicate what OUR needs are to keep Mary’s heart safe and happy.  My gut tells me that Mary’s mom will be around, and despite everything, so long as the relationship improves and the honesty and trust us there, I’m pretty ok with that. In what capacity she’ll be around is still unclear, but I know their hearts are very connected, and I can’t see myself not honoring what my daughters heart is telling her, but I also know that sometimes we don’t make the best choices when we ONLY let our hearts lead the way.  Life experience is huge, and Mary has had tons but her loyalty is blinding…also, 8 years old!  Mary will learn things in her own time, as she should.  She will develop a relationship with her birth mom at some point, but for right now, we are in charge of those interactions, and reiterating who we are to Mary and to her birth mom, the gentle reminders of “you lost your opportunity to be in charge here” for birth mom, and also trying our damnedest to give love and hope and opportunity to the woman who gave us one of our most precious gifts…

We’ll always be somewhat indebted to her, and we should start reminding ourselves of that a little…img_6441

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A One Year Old Miracle

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(I know I won’t have time tomorrow)  What a difference a year makes!!!  I think I am probably in more shock than anyone that our little Austin Ryan is ONE!  A whole year!  Our little miracle is doing so many things, and has done so well considering how early he was born. 29 weeks, 6 days, with 10 weeks to go, and he was ready to come meet the world.  I Still scroll through pictures of his first few days of life, and honestly don’t even recognize that baby.

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WELCOME TO THE WORLD AUSTIN RYAN

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6 HOURS OLD

Seeing those pictures always splits me in two.  Part of me still can’t believe that he came so early, and that we were thrown such a curveball and had to do so many things to adjust our lives to meet all of his needs, as well as the needs of two VERY HORMONAL moms and 3 other children.  But we nailed it, and it made our little family unit stronger.  And the other part of me is so excited that Austin came and changed EVERYTHING just when it needed to change.  It changed my relationship with Callie.  It changed my relationship with my children.  It changed my relationship with MYSELF, and all of these things came because Austin did…not too late, not too early, just as he should have.  So I thank the Universe every day for all of my miracles, but I say an extra thank you for bringing us Austin.

Stats: you can read the last post, since it’s all there!

He is quite the character!  He tries to keep up with his brothers, and does a pretty good job of it.  I can always assume that if one of the boys is crying, Austin is tackling him, crawling over him, bullying them for their toys, crawling away at lightning speed with one of their sippy cups, but they sure do love their brother!  I often hear them walking through the house saying, “Papo? Are-shu?? Ah are-shu!?!?!” and when they find him, ” HA! ::giggle giggle:: Dere’s YOU (there’s you!!!)!!! and it melts my heart every damn time!

Our little miracle boy is a whole year old tomorrow.  And my heart, every day, reminds me how lucky we are that he is with us, because his life, OUR lives could have been very different.  I think of all of the things I will treasure the most about Austin’s first year of life is the breastfeeding relationship that we had.  Guys, like many other mamas who have struggled with breastfeeding and supply, I BUSTED it trying to make milk for my tiny little Austin.  I never pumped more than 5 ounces in once sitting EVER (and that only happened 3 times because I hadn’t pumped or nursed in 6 hours!).  I was taking domperidone, all types of herbs, drinking all types of teas, and nursing, pumping AND hand expressing (because pumping never fully emptied me) and I was STILL supplementing a little less than half of his bottles, but it was so beautiful, and I really loved having that time with him.  We only nursed for 7 months, but it was awesome!  And when Callie has baby #5 (yup, that’s happening in maybe another year or so!!!!!!!!! YASSSS!!!!) I will do everything I can, to re-lactate and nurse the newest Mendez as well, even if it IS just a little snack (what I used to say to Austin when I nursed him).

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THE MAGICAL 5OZ DAY

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THIS BOY LOVES TO NURSE

So, yeah….our Miracle is ONE…img_35261


I was scrolling through my phone looking for pictures and had completely forgotten that for Austin’s first week of life, I didn’t have my journal, so I kept small little notes in my phone.  I’ve added them here below just in case they ever get lost…

Austin Ryan
12/17/15 – Thursday
Born December 17th, 2015 @ 4:53pm.  He was 3lbs 9oz, and 15″ long, coming 10 weeks and 1 day early.  He was breathing well on his own from the get. They had him on 30 oxygen and within the first 24hrs was taken down to 22! This little guy is a fighter and he is so tough and feisty! He’s a beautiful boy with Levi’s face and Noah’s nose.  He has the cutest little cry

12/18/15 – Friday
Today is our second day in the hospital.  I’ve been feeling pretty good.  Everyone seems surprised that im doing so well.  The nurses can’t believe that I delivered my baby is 3 pushes! I didn’t take any meds today and everyone is pretty surprised.  I also started pumping and getting a few drops of colostrum.  I put it on q-tip swabs so they can give Austin Ryan some oral care with my breast milk.  He seems to like it.  He’s still breathing well on his own and they have turned off the oxygen but still have the CPAP in to keep his lungs expanded.  He’s had a couple of apnea episodes and a couple of Brady’s, but is still doing really well! My baby boy is gonna be just fine.  My heart knows it! (Jesy, Tia Jenny, Tio Roberto, Kika, and Katie came to visit)

12/19/15 – Saturday
Lobster dinner was delicious last night! It was nice to sit there with Callie and share a little moment and celebrate our beautiful boy!  Today’s nurse is really nice.  Her name is Sue and she kinda reminds me of Arizona from Greys Anatomy.  She let me feed Austin today.  It was just putting 3cc’s of breastmilk in the tube and holding it up so that he could get it into his belly, but it was beautiful.  His bilirubin levels went up so they have him under the UV lights to help bring down his levels.  He also swats at the nurse when she tries to fix the CPAP that he keeps pulling out! This little guy is gonna be trouble! He does things in his own time and his own way, and that seems like it’s gonna be a theme with him! I’m gettin ready!

12/20/15 – Sunday
I was discharged yesterday and leaving the hospital without our baby is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.  I basically cried the whole day.  It was really really hard for me.  Those bonding hormones are no joke! AR is still doing great! Still off the oxygen, still on the lights, and tolerating the breastmilk really well.  I am so happy that I am able to produce milk for him because the doctor says it’s easier for him to digest it and to process it than formula.  Not much more progress than yesterday with the exception of taking out one of the lines from his umbilical cord and taking off the bilirubin lights.  Seems like his levels went down which is great!  They are supposed to be doing A PICC line tomorrow, and a head ultrasound either Monday or Tuesday to make sure he’s not hemorrhaging or that there isnt anything wrong with his little brain. Hopefully all goes well.

12/21/15 – Monday
Spent most of the afternoon in the hospital.  We got to hold Austin Ryan for the first time since the 5 minutes after he was born.  What an incredible feeling. I cried of course, and got to hold him and sing him my boys lullabies, “Beautiful Boy”, “Our House” and “Power of Two”.  Since I sing them to Levi and Noah all the time, i’m sure he heard them when in my belly.  I have to say, I really miss being pregnant. I feel like I got gyped out of enjoying my pregnancy.  It makes me sad, but if I dwell on it i start crying like an idiot! Today, he was back on the lights because his levels went back up again.

Almost One!

I can’t even believe that our 3.9 lb baby born at 29 weeks 6 days will be ONE next week!  A whole year!  Holy Crap!  I honestly don’t even know how that happened!  I guess having 3 under two, constantly on the run, and almost never having a break, the days just sorta wiz by.  Needless to say, ONE…in a week…and even crazier, as of the end of January I will also have a wife who is closer to 40 than 30 (and I mean that as a compliment because older woman are just WOW! Especially Callie!), an officially adopted 9 year old (paperwork is all in, minus updated physicals but they can file with expired ones so long as the updated ones are in before the finalization:another post for sure), and twin boys that will be 2!  December and January are madness!!!  img_60021

Austin’s 1 year well visit went well.  He is 24lbs 13oz, which outweighs his brothers by 1.6lbs and 1.9lbs respectfully.  He’s a little chunk, and anyone who knows me knows that chunky babies give me LIFE!  He is crawling, standing and finally cruising furniture, and just this past Sunday, he took 2 steps towards Callie as we decorated the Christmas tree.  He’s been getting physical therapy every Friday for about 2 months now, because he still has some gross motor issues, and even if he didn’t, the extra help and the one on one time still has major benefits for him.  He still isn’t stringing any sounds together, and hasn’t said Mama yet, but he loves to smile and laugh and has the best giggly squeal in the house.  Oh, and clapping!  He absolutely LOVES to clap, which he learned last week.   img_62041

He eats any and everything you put in front of him.  We’ve started to mix his bottles and started transitioning him to whole milk, which surprisingly, unlike his brothers, he LOVES.  But honestly, we expected that because he’s been mooching off of their sippy cups anytime he finds them on the coffee table when he’s crawling around.  One time I walked into the living room after having gone to the kitchen to fix him a bottle for about 1 minute, and I return only to find Levi adjusting a pillow so that Austin can lay on it, while he drinks…………a Mickey Mouse sippy full of whole milk.  Also, the other 3 kids, love the heck out of Austin.  I love when I see little glimpses of how my siblings and I were growing up, like when Mary tells Noah to sit nicely so she can tie his shoes.  Or how Levi will randomly stop playing to walk over, and give Austin a kiss and hug.  Or how, when I offer Noah something, the automatic response is “An EE-BYE TOO?!? (and Levi too?!?)” .  4 kids is so so hard, on a GOOD day, but seeing that, the connection, the way they play and fight and love each other…it does something to me.  It just makes me so happy, and sometimes, on the worst days, that’s all I have to think about to change things: 4 happy, healthy, loving, crazy, silly, tough, obnoxious, amazing kids!  I’m hella lucky y’all!IMG_6107[1].JPG

His birthday party is planned for Saturday, and saying we are completely unprepared is an understatement.  I haven’t even been to the fabric store to get material to make his High Chair Banner. I JUST ordered the cake this morning, which ended up having to be a shit ton of cupcakes because I was waaaaayyy too late to order, but it ended up being a blessing in disguise because $325+tip vs. $84 is LEGIT!  Callie is ordering the food today (hopefully) and my Oriental Trading order of over $300 that has all of our decorations, materials for center pieces and paper goods (all farm themed mind you!) won’t even be in until tomorrow and I HAVEN’T EVEN GOTTEN A SHIPPING CONFIRMATION yet, and the party is Saturday….yeah, this coming one!  So, things are a little hectic, and it might entail me spending more money than I need/want to spend during THE HOLIDAY SEASON, with EVERYONE’S BIRTHDAY IN MY HOUSE IN DECEMBER AND JANUARY, and if this order isn’t in by tomorrow night, Friday night after work, I’ll be heading to every party store in town to find the things I need. It’s ok though…soon, it’ll all be over, and we can recoup!IMG_6069[1].JPG

Aside from that, life has been good!  Very good.  There have been a couple of things here and there that have come up that we’ve managed to handle, some better than others, some easier than others, but otherwise, life is pretty darn good friends…pretty darn good!img_62022


 

So, there is something else that I kinda wanted to write about but I wasn’t really sure how I wanted to go about talking about it without being judged, but then I realized, that’s part of the work I’m doing, part of this healing that I have been going through.  So, here goes….

Since Election night, something inside me shifted.  The only way to describe it is, that night, after the results, I felt an ache in my chest like I had never felt before.  Interestingly though, I knew how upset I was, but something about this sadness that I was experiencing, was disconnected, almost like it wasn’t mine.  I hardly slept that night, as images of people crying, and dark shadows looming in corners kept creeping into my dreams.  I woke up, still kinda feeling strange and….emotional, i think like most of the country, but it was different.  I got on the train that morning to get to work, and the heaviness of that ride was so intense, that it took everything in me to not get off the train and head home.  It was overwhelming….so i prayed, and then, everything change.

I’ve been on a very enlightening spiritual journey this past month, and I have connected with myself, with others that have been experiencing the same thing, mainly old friends and acquaintances who are experiencing similar physical and emotional “symptoms” so to speak.  I’ll absolutely still be blogging here, as I’ve made some really wonderful and beautiful friendships and connections here and love to hear about your lives and your families, and honestly, it makes me a better person, but I think it’s also important to start chronicling some of this “other” stuff I’m going through and experiencing (besides being a kick ass Mama!).  Some of it will sound strange, the skeptics won’t believe it, but i think you all know enough about me to know that I’m pretty damn sane, and that even though I’m crazy, I’m not, ya know….CRAZY!

If you feel like, maybe that’s something you’re interested in reading, or hearing about, or even if your just being nosy, and want to make fun of me under your breathe, that’s cool too! Not a reflection of me, ya know, but head over…. My Wonderfully Unexpected Awakening  .  There isn’t anything posted yet, but there will be, probably more consistently than here, as this journey is a huge part of my life right now, and has bled over into EVERYTHING!  It’s really such a beautiful thing, and I’m ready to share it with the world….see ya there 😉

~Sammie