Thursday, March 20, 2014

Cue Daniel Powter*

Well, folks. . . it's been busy. and crazy. and confusing.  

A lot has gone down for our little family in the last two weeks so here is a recap (in ascending order of importance) 

The TOE.  It seems ridiculous, I know.  But seriously what the heck happened to me?  I am finally, after two weeks, able to put some weight on it* and wear some shoes but I am in shock at how long this is taking to heal.  I finally googled it and it turns out that this sucker could take two months until it's back to normal.  It's still pretty swollen but if I keep it elevated it doesn't hurt, so that's a win.  I am amazed at how fragile I feel given such a relatively minor injury.  I hobble everywhere, brace myself on the stairs and am scared to carry the kids. For the record, it's still a life threatening disaster. Pity party of one, thank you.

The HOUSE.  This is a three-parter.  Part one- our house in Minneapolis. . . . we have historically had some water leakage--ice dams and freakish storms that for some reason had a crazy vendetta against our house. You get the picture.

Last summer we made the leap to replace the roof with a fancy schmancy solid surface roof.  Also (proactively) I had a fancy schmancy ice dam dude come to the house a couple weeks ago to remove any accrued problem that might affect the beauty of my fancy schmancy new roof.   And guess what-- we had a leak.***

Part two-- Matt's old condo tenant informed us that he wanted to leave his lease early.  We found this out on our drive out to Seattle, so you know, just in time for us to not deal with it in person.   In a good news/bad news type of situation, we actually ended up getting an unsolicited offer on the condo while we were looking for tenants.  It's probably a very good thing to sell it but it's been a mountain of paperwork to tackle. 

Part three-- we moved last week with only nine toes!****  Housing in Ketchikan is tricky.  There are very few houses available for rent on a long term basis with most everything else a month to month lease with the houses still on the market.   It's a level of uncertainty that you you just need to deal with if you are looking to live in a house here.  Housing prices are very expensive here so properties do sit on the market for years -- Unfortunately, our last house was on the market and sold a couple weeks after we arrived.  A little shocking consider that it's been on the market for three years with only four showings and no offers!  The owners were really nice about it- even refunding our rent and helping us move to a new place-- however it certainly stings a little to be up in the air again.  We did have a few months to find a place but with the baby coming and entering the big season here we decided to go ahead and look right away so that we would be stable this summer.  There are some complicating factors at this point-- such as four-ish kids and staying close to James' school. So in true Dana fashion we went looking, picked a house and moved a week later.  Ka-Bam. The new house is probably a better fit for us overall--the layout a little better, ten minutes closer to town, the view nice, and it has a dishwasher! 

Although we lost a good week to getting all this house junk done, we are settled in a good place and have a six month lease to get us until after the busy season is over.  We will likely have to move again but at least we are home for the time being.    I am once again drowning in phone calls- changing utilities, updating insurances etc.  We will get through it though and my zen yoga practice will pick up at another time.

So here, is where it gets a little real for me.  The third worry on my mind is VIRUS(es).  I don't normally talk about a lot of real worries here but I can't seem to escape this one so I am putting it out to the universe for prayers.  Despite the fact that the odds are still in our favor, I am still feeling haunted by some old ghosts.

As background, many of you know, James was exposed to CMV in utero.  This is a horrible, horrible virus that is very hard to avoid but can cause serious birth defects.  James in the grand scheme has been extraordinarily lucky considering all the risk factors.  The days, weeks and months that followed his diagnosis were the some of the hardest in my life.  I remember holding his little body thinking that  I would trade anything to give him a better shot.   Not to be dramatic but there were a lot of unknowns with him and you realize how much has to go right in order for a child to be born- vulnerable, holy creations they are.  I didn't blog at the time of his birth but I remember being in such  fog during those first weeks-- thankful for the reprieve of going back to work so that I would have a distraction to occupy my busy mind.  I was heavy and sad and worried all the time.

Fast forward to last week- in talking to our OB we realize that there has been an outbreak of Parvovirus in Ketchikan.  We decide to test me for my immunity against it-- ie. have I had it before and am therefore immune.  In the mean time the kids friends at school likely get the virus and the kids in our house all get sick and get the classic slapped cheeks marker of the virus.  I start "aggressive hand-washing"***** which is the current action plan but yet find myself under the weather with a cold this weekend.

I got tested last week and found out today that I have never had Parvovirus and am still at risk to get it.  I didn't show an infection yet and will be going in for another test next week to see if a recent infection shows up in my lab work.  IF I get the virus, we will start monitoring the baby more closely.  Again, this isn't the end of the world-- but I am once again thinking of statistics-- the same sort of haunting thoughts that plagued me during James' first year.  We were at the grocery store when we noticed that Daisy's cheeks had turned red.  Matt seemed to take it in stride and I shopped produce fighting back tears and feeling a dead weight in my stomach.   With everything going on, I just don't feel like I have the strength to take this on as well.  It's likely not the actual risk of the virus that is so hard- it's re-visiting that place of uncertainty and fear.  I know this dark place and I wasn't interested in returning.******

Parvovirus doesn't always pass to the baby (from what I have read about 30% with a 10% likelihood of intervention) and there are treatment plans for when it does including active monitoring, cord blood transfusion or early delivery.   Also at 25 weeks pregnant, I am entering the viability phase where if we needed to deliver early we could do so and the baby could get treatment outside the body.  Net/net. I know I shouldn't be freaking out but I am still feeling a little unsteady.  Maybe it's because I only have nine viable toes.

*Bad Day.  Or several in a row.

**Pirate peg leg heel walking.

***Sad trombone.

****Who are we kidding-- Matt moved, I ate bon bons and felt guilty.  (kid patrol)
*****I also start to think of all my children as tiny, boogery, infectious zombies.  Armpit lifting is about as close as I would get to them since the break out at school.   Great parenting, once again.
******I write this and am feeling very sad for myself personally-- yet I know so many friends that have gone through medical emergencies that were much, much worse.  That perspective doesn't escape me, but those stories aren't mine to tell.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


Keep  them away from bright light, never get wet and never ever feed them after midnight.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Hunting Season Opener

We aren't big hunters* with the exception of one season-- Leprechaun hunting!   We have spent the last couple days celebrating the Kelly/Fitzpatrick heritage by making leprechaun treats,  setting traps and waiting to see if we caught a new pet!**

We haven't been successful yet, but maybe next year. . . .

Happy hunting everyone-- may you enjoy your green pancakes as much as we did!  

*We may have let our NRA membership lapse.
**We built this up a little high this year-- or maybe that it's that we have a four year old this year and there aren't any topics that aren't fully exhausted at completion.  For everyone's information WHEN we catch said Leprechaun we will name him Kevin, he will be a nice guy, we will not eat him and he will need a little chair for breakfast.   Expectations might be a little high. 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

First Referral-A-Versary

It was one year ago that we were notified of a referral of a 7-month Ethiopian boy.  That boy has become our son in the last year and has brought us incredible joy.  

Thinking back to where we were as a family a year ago seems almost like another life. Despite being on the list for so long (and on the top of the list for so long) we had no idea that we were that close to getting the ‘call.’  It was a crazy time for us—we were super busy with work, life and fun and for the first time in our three year process, my guard was down and I wasn’t expecting any news. 

I have written here about our experience of getting the call but a year later I want to write a bit more about how my perspective has changed. 

Much is written about what it is like to get the ‘call’ but I think some adoptive blogs do a disservice when they romanticize this experience.  I use the term romanticize as an approximation because I don’t know how else to state it.  In general, I think personal blogs tend to focus on the idealized version of a life because it’s hard or complicated to put yourself out there in a public forum. 

I am as guilty of this practice and can’t almost chart a direct correlation between my own blogging frequency and my attitude towards what is going on personally. When I am heavy or uncertain regarding a private situation, the deeper thoughts tend to quiet my silly and playful side.  My mind is consumed with things that I may not want to be public and hence I don’t have a lot of blog chatter.   

That said, I do want to be a little more transparent about our experience with the referral because I think it may help other families.  I find a lot of support and insight from reading other adoption blogs and want to share our experience in case some other family finds comfort in it.

The Story:

Matt and I both got the information in different locations but waited until we were together to look at the photos of the sweet boy that would become ours.   The first twenty-four hours were dizzying and incredibly joyful.  We decided to make the news public and even shared two bottles of champagne- one with our friends who were there when we got the pictures and one with Matt’s parents much later that night.   I didn’t sleep much that night, even waking up several times to pull the picture of our little guy up on my phone. 

For those of you who haven’t been through the Ethiopian adoption process, generally you receive a referral which is a little like a profile.  It has some pictures, health information, relevant background information etc.   After receipt of the profile you have the ability to ask a list of clarifying questions, which can range from developmental milestones, more details about their background or any personality characteristics you think might be helpful.  Ultimately through this dialogue and exchange of information you make a decision to say yes or no.  For me, it was true that I felt an instant pull to the above picture and some divine belief that this was the child for me.  However, I did have a lot of questions as my head started to counter whatever was going on in my heart.

I was caught off guard with three things at this point. 

1.     I wasn’t expecting any stress related to this process. It’s incredibly emotional on a variety of fronts.  The exhilaration that comes from possibly having a baby, the fear of suddenly seeing him as a real person, the realization of the gravity of the situation, the commitment you are making to raising him and the hope that you will honor his life by raising him to the best of your abilities.  Yes, you do feel an instant bond with the picture you have now printed and probably already framed.  I don’t want to discount the joy of the experience but it is also a very serious time as well.

2.     How much faith it would take to either say yes or no.  You don’t get all your questions answered.  In my mind, it’s appropriately a tough decision.  I liken it to making a marriage based on the profile.  You are making a life-long commitment to a vulnerable little person.  In our case, we were also thinking about Deirdre and James in how we were altering our family dynamic. 

Our agency was phenomenal in this area—our caseworker in particular was very metered and fair about how she has seen families go through this process and I felt much more at ease because of her guidance and support. 

She was very clear about what sorts of things are appropriate to the culture. For example, we asked to have them take a picture of Simon smiling.  She countered and said, yes we can ask however it isn’t in Ethiopian culture to have children smile in photos and we probably wouldn’t receive that picture.  However, it didn’t mean that he didn’t ever smile. . . they just weren’t going to send that photo.  Also we asked for a description of his personality and we were told that he was ‘a typical baby.’  Given my nature, I would have liked more of these details but I understood the limitations of the communication and cultural differences and felt supported by our agency in making a big decision.  There was no pressure one-way or the other and we were guided many times to trust our instincts.

3.     People will react but maybe not in the way you expect.    For the most part people were awesome.  We did receive a number of people who made comments about how great it was that we were saving a baby or how generous we were which can make you feel a little awkward.  Yes, we did feel called to adoption but it doesn’t qualify you for sainthood!  You receive many, many rewards from the joy of raising a child!   

One standout comment came while we were still in the referral process.  I mentioned how the process was advancing and about how we were asking some clarifying questions and someone responded by asking: "well, there’s no way you wouldn’t love that child is there?" A couple things come to mind—one declarative, sweeping statements like that make my skin crawl.  Two, this is a very grave decision and one that needs to involve both the head and the heart.  It is easy to get swept up in the emotion (romance) of adoption but I would advise families or singles that enter into the crazy world of adoption to be cautious with wearing their heart on their sleeve.  I found my confidence really shaken by letting someone question my capacity to love despite the fact that I know being honest about what Matt and I felt comfortable with over a lifetime was the right decision.   I love my children greatly and I think to the point that it clouds my analytical mind.  Matt was more balanced during this phase . . . so a follow up bit of advice: marry Matt.  It really works.

I have a hard time not applauding most of the people in our lives though—most folks were amazing, asking us the details, not shying away from the beauty and the hardship.   (We are even thankful for the folks who said silly things as they did so with the best intentions.) We are continually thankful for the grace of our people during what ended up being an emotional rollercoaster!

I write all this and yet really this is about Simon and his incredible story.  We started with a picture of beautiful baby and one year later we have a son who bounces around our house, plays tunnel through our legs, says hi and bye and points to his hair, nose, ears and is the primary instigator in the Fitzpatrick screaming contest.   

It really is an incredible experience and one that we are thrilled with the outcome.   Adoption is about making a leap and I am so glad that our leap landed us all in a soft place.  I am writing a lot about the fear, faith excitement and this overwhelming bag of emotions that we were swirling in a year ago so that others can share the experience.  Adoption in our case has been purely wonderful—in fact something we would consider again—but for many it can be very trying.  I think it’s important take into account the full spectrum and feel comfortable asking questions when undergoing a big commitment like this and to support others wherever they are on the journey.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Pot o' Gold

I have never been this close to a rainbow.  This backyard beauty was about 300 feet off the coast this afternoon.  Pretty amazing.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

And You Can Tell Everybody, This is Your Song

While driving yesterday, we heard one of James' songs come on the radio. *  James claims all the songs in his birthday videos. Such as these:  1, 2, 3, 4.   Over the years, James has become more involved in his music selection and now recently he has started making requests for future birthday videos.  

"Is this song James is happy because he's four and a half?"
  Dynamite Taio Cruz

"Is this song James is happy because he's five?"
Feel This Moment Pit Bull, Christina

Often I don't refute these claims of ownership because it's just not worth it.  These are complex thoughts for a four year old and you can end up in a vortex of confusion and repetition if you ever try to create clarity. 

Yesterday while driving James claimed the first few songs that came on-- songs that were upbeat, dancy and joyful. Sure.

When Taylor Swift's song I Knew You Were Trouble came on the radio-- we listened to the first verse with rare cessation of car banter before the lyrics Trouble Trouble Trouble came on. 

To which James exclaimed-

"I think this is Deirdre's song."

Deirdre agreed and spent the next ten minutes in the car singing along.**

Twouble Twouble  Twouble 

Twouble Twouble  Twouble

Twouble Twouble  Twouble 

"Daisy is this your song?"

"Yep!  Twouble Twouble Twouble"

*We only reliably get public radio (across five frequencies) so this is pandora we are speaking about here.
**This later turned into the evening activity as she continued to request her song. . .  which I didn't own-- but do now.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

My Life as a Nasty Episode of Orange is the New Black

We need to talk about Deirdre. 
Something missing?


Girl has a problem-- she doesn't want to wear diapers anymore and is doing her best to protest all things wet.  This independent girl is perfectly happy to change her own diaper, thank you very much.

We have tried and tried different options-- she wears her jammies backwards at night but despite this has taken them off and schmeared poop on walls, her bedding etc.  Is this a prison riot?  You only need to have a toddler come at you with a handful of poop once to be seriously turned off to this raising children thing.  Pun intended:  we need to cut this shit out.

I know it doesn't sound like a big problem-- but it is.  Sweet girl takes off the diaper several times a day-- that's about every 15 minutes if you need a frame of reference.   We are trying to potty train-- but she hasn't made the all important connection between the awesome Sesame Street toilet seat and the business that needs to happen there.  We read books, set timers, give rewards, but nothing has clicked yet.

Yesterday, I hit a new low-- she came at me with an empty  (but wet)  diaper and said "I poopy."  the diaper indicated that she was not "poopy"-- however she continued to insist.  I went down to the playroom and there was something foul going on-- but it remained a mystery.  I walked around the room for a few minutes playing sensory hot and cold and finally isolated it to one corner.  . but still no culprit.

Until Daisy crawled into our play tent to show me.  People, she took off her diaper then squatted to poop in a tent.  Playing hide and go seek with a mound of poo is not on my bucket list.

The good news- she is now the proud owner of some awesome undies* so hopefully in the near future our diaper bill will go down.

*She likes to wear six pair at a time so the laundry will go up considerably.

Sunday, March 2, 2014


We had a rather nice little weekend on this front.  I went to the dock and bought a tanner crab which later lived on our deck while the kids oggled.  James, our cautious four year old, kept guard to make sure the babies didn't get too close.  He frequently yelled at them to be careful.  "He's VERY real guys."

Boat to Table
The crab was great and was quite the experience prepping for these mid-westerners.  This probably won't be the last time I nominate Matt to execute an animal for the sake of our dining.  Matt did an awesome job with the dirty week and I did an awesome job giggling about our progress and quickly googling to see what was going wrong. . . .

Good times abound and I am once again reassured in my choice in marrying the right man.

We had a social event on Saturday which was awesome-- it was the first time that we all went out!  We had some new friends invite us over for dinner and it was great! They are very interesting people and we are thankful for their new friendships.  The bummer of the night-- I slipped down their stairs and broke my toe.  I have broken several toes in the past and there is something unmistakable about the throb of a crooked toe.   Mother Fucker. However,  I didn't want the evening to end early so I tried to use my water glass to ice my foot subtly under the table while hoping no one noticed.   Keep it classy, Kelly.

Today, I can't put any weight on my foot so I am hanging out in bed with the bad toe elevated hoping that RICE pulls a miracle by tomorrow so that I can parent when Matt goes back to work.   Matt keeps pretending that this is a life-threatening injury for my benefit-- which I appreciate since this thing hurts like a beast.  Dr. Fitzpatrick is scoring mega-points for his bedside manner. *

Tonight is my Oscar party-- it's just Matt and I. . . one of which will be captivated by fashion and the faux-drama of awards season while wearing all the jewelry I own at once. . . one of us will be secretly reading about Notre Dame football on his iPhone.  Fuck it, I don't care though. . . I'm making artichoke dip even if it's just me.  Pregnancy has its perks and I don't know where my scale is. 

*Which includes cookie delivery, water fetching and antacid retrieval.  Hell of a hubby.