Sunday, July 25, 2010

Another first

We finally took Ben to a restaurant. Before we had Ben I would not have believed that I would make it over three months without taking him to eat out. But he really was not ready to be in public, considering he would scream any time anyone looked at him.
We took him on a 20 minute car ride, just to see if it really is as smooth now as we thought, and went to Maggiano's. It was a dream! He smiled, charmed the waiters, played with his crayons, and loved the food. No fussiness, no screaming, no tossing things. I am so happy that this was a good experience for all of us. Afterwards we went for a stroll through the mall (in his stroller) and he was smiley and happy. No matter how many tantrums he may have later in the day, I call this day a success!

Fun at the Zoo

Last weekend we were anxious to finally get out after spending 3 months pretty much at home. We wanted to make use of our new found freedom of a relatively quiet baby in a front facing car seat. In an attempt to make an outing kid friendly and semi-interesting for Ben, we ventured to our local zoo, which really is a glorified petting zoo. Fine by me, there aren't many things cuter than tiny goats. Unfortunately Ben was unimpressed and sat in his stroller stoically, which I guess is better than screaming. I however had an awesome time feeding goats and sheep!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Life as a One Year Old

Ben's life has drastically changed once again after his first birthday.

First of all, we turned around that car seat and he seems to actually be doing better in the car! Which would be a huge relief, I owe my friends some visits and I am dying to go to DC.

Our first outing the first day after his birthday was to a city festival. It's hard to believe, but other than going to the store and one short disastrous trip to a park, this was the first time we were actually out as a family. It felt so good to just be strolling and looking at the booths and getting some snack food! Ben didn't even complain about sitting in the stroller!

Then, the big change was that he now goes to daycare. All by himself. I was able to work short days from home this week, so I stayed for almost an hour with him and then picked him up after his lunch. He is actually doing really well! He loves breakfast and lunch and I was told that he even likes to ride in their little buggy. The paranoid part of me is now thinking that he only does so well because he is not attaching to us. That's what I get for reading so many attachment books.

While it is hard for me to leave him, and I do wish I could stay home with him, I have to admit that I really enjoy "me" time, even if it is spent working. I emailed my friend earlier and told her that it was so great to just be able to go to the bathroom whenever I wanted without having to "store" a whiny baby somewhere. And I enjoy the time that I do have with Ben so much more. When I am with him all day, I am usually completely exhausted by lunch time.
Also in the news - last night he slept through the night from 8:30 until 7 even though we had an earthquake at 5 a.m. This is only the second or third time that he did not wake up at night!

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Dol

We have had really hot, sunny weather here lately, and I had hoped that we would have a cooler day for Ben's big party. And we did. Unfortunately the reason for the cooler temps was that it rained and poured all Saturday morning, which ruined my plans of setting up everything on the deck and I had to cram things into my house.

I ended up stressing way too much, and having waaaaaay too much food, but we had a great time and are so thankful that so many friends showed up. Ben did really well and even let a few people hold him! I tried not to post pictures of people, some may not care for having their face on a public blog.

So, here are some pics:

Casper, the centerpiece:

Prepping for the party:

The glasses for the raffle:

Picture display - due to the weather we had to utlize our bookshelf:

The doljabe board:

If I never cut out a circle again my entire life, I will be very happy:

My good friend Bettina made that diaper cake! Still can't believe that she set foot in Michael's to buy that ribbon:

The dol table (at some point we added balloons, but I don't have a picture of that):

The doljabe - what will he choose?

He picked - MOMMY!

And finally after another 10 minutes of crying, the thread:

Hmm, cake!

Hmmm, maybe this is the item he really wanted to pick? Hasn't put it down since!

Family Picture

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Almost One

My baby is almost one. I never quite got the big deal about a child's first birthday, but now I am really sentimental. I am looking forward to celebrating Ben's life with friends and some family.

Ben's first birthday will be different from other children's first birthdays. He will have cake and balloons and presents, but no one will be able to reflect on the day he was born, the time he first turned over or when he first laughed. All we have are pieces of paper that give a very brief account of his first months on this earth. The major events in Ben's short life don't involve grabbing objects or sitting up, they involve losing caretakers and his home country. And as much as I don't like little babies (and I REALLY do not care for them) it makes me sad that he is not connected to anyone who knows him from birth.

Of course I am also thinking about his birth mother. I wonder how she is, where she is. Will she have the courage to access his file and find the pictures and letters I sent? Is she thinking about her little boy, wondering how he is doing? Is she remembering what happened one year ago? I am grieving her loss despite the fact that this loss has brought me so much happiness. I simply cannot imagine what she must have felt (and maybe still feels).

I want Saturday to be a happy day, but cannot help feeling a twinge of sadness. Once again joy and grief are so close in adoption.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

I am finally there

When I look back at my posts from the pre-Ben-era, they are full of love for a child I didn't even know. Then, when this child was finally in my arms, my feelings were not quite what I had imagined them to be. There was love, but many times it was the "I-love-you-because-you-are- my-son-and-I-have-to-even- though-I-don't-like-you" kind. He was cute, but he was also very, very unhappy (understandably so) and it was hard for me to feel overwhelming love for someone who clearly did not want to be with me (again - perfectly understandable) and was screaming all.the.time. I resented him for all the changes we had made to our lives to accommodate his needs, or rather our idea of his needs. I was living in a house in the suburbs that we completely overpaid for because when our lease was up it was literally the only single family house in our price range on the market. Instead I could have been living in a cute condo near or in the city within walking distance to cafes and public transportation. Instead of spending my evenings and weekends in museums, restaurants in the city, and strolling charming old streets, I was stuck in suburbia shopping at Target and weeding the lawn. And all because of this screaming child that did not even want to look at us much of the time.

I am not sure when my feelings changed, but now when I look at him, I finally feel a lot like the way I always imagined I would, only these feelings run much deeper than I ever could have imagined (my feelings for the suburbs still haven't changed though).

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Second postplacement visit

Today we had our second postplacement visit and I - GASP - actually ended up missing a seemingly spectacular World Cup game. But Germany won so I will have another chance to see them.

The social worker was pretty impressed with the progress Ben has made and our little chunky monkey was hamming it up in front of her, which made me so happy. He was all smiles and giggles and ate an entire banana, which is a lot in one sitting.

DH and I almost got in an argument in front of her about the whole daycare (or rather me having to go back to work) issue and I think were ready to choke each other . I was hoping she'd be on my side, but she remained very neutral. Still praying for a miracle and am now advertising myself as a German tutor (the only skill I have to offer that I can think of) in the hopes that someone still considers this a useful language and is willing to throw a little money at me for teaching them. I don't have high hopes, but we'll see.

This weekend we're in high gear prepping for the big Dol next weekend and I am so regretting being a procrastinator once again. It's just really hard to get anything done with the little one around! Funnily enough, the husband's idea of prepping for the party was buying a chandelier. Huh?

Friday, July 2, 2010

The daycare dilemma

One more week with Ben and then I have to leave him in daycare. The closer we get to that day, the more nauseous the thought makes me. We have been visiting his daycare every day and he does okay (as okay as Ben can do with a bunch of strangers and kids). It's a great daycare and we are so lucky that we were able to get him in. The people are really nice, the kids in his class are cute and well-behaved. Still, the thought of him being with other people all day, every day makes me so sad. Today he kissed his daycare worker and I almost broke out in tears. I have gotten maybe one or two "kisses" from him and yes, I was jealous. How is he supposed to know that I am his mommy when he spends the majority of his time with her?
I don't think putting Ben in daycare is in his best interest. He still has some really bad days at home, how is he supposed to be okay to go to daycare? As exhausting and frustrating it can be to be around a child with temper tantrums all day, I do want to be the one to comfort him.
I've sent desperate emails to other AP's who have placed their children in daycare in the hope that their experiences will help calm me, and they did for about 2 seconds.

I knew from the beginning that I would have a hard time with this, but it is even harder than I thought. In Germany most moms stay home for three years before they return to work. That is because that is how long their job has to stay available to them. Here things are different, as we all know.

Right now I really need a miracle to happen.