Saturday, March 7, 2015

Identity Crisis

I was listening to an interview today the lady was talking about how unproductive she feels being a stay-at-home mom of little kids.  She has 5 kids ages 1-7, so no wonder she feels that way!

She suggested that instead of making a list of things to do that day, make a list at the end of the day of what you accomplished.  I'm a list-maker, so that idea sounded brilliant. 

I make a list each day but 95% of the things I do each day are not things that could be crossed off a to-do list.  They are either things that I couldn't expect would pop up (cleaning up spilled smoothie -- oh wait, that is pretty predictable), they are a expected already every day (meal prep and clean up several times a day), they are not-negotiable (get the kids to where they need to be on time), they are scheduled on my calendar and don't get attended to the to-do list (attend a meeting), or then it's all the nurturing that a mother just does (reading a book to a child, or listening to my husband's day, or saying hi to a neighbor).  I know this is the case for every single person.  We all are busy and usually the task list is un-done each night. 

This interview was timely because I've been pondering how lame my life is lately and I've been trying to re-evaluate how I spend my time each day.  This all started because -- well my life IS rather dull and simple.  And most of the time I really love it like this.  I've worked hard to eliminate people and things from life that were a drain.  But my 20-year high school reunion is coming up and I've wondered if I've simplified too much.  Or if I've squandered my "potential."  I have accomplished several of the things I expected I would that night I got my HS diploma.  That night I wrapped up my childhood, delivered that commencement address to my fellow graduating class, and moved on to adulthood and bigger and better things.  I'm doing now what I thought I'd be doing 20 years later.

It just feels a lot different than I thought it would feel.  Motherhood is much, much, MUCH harder, for one thing.  It's much more boring and isolating -- which I don't mind actually most of the time.  It's much more exhausting.  It's much more confusing.  It's much more expensive.  It's much more competitive.  It's much louder.  And although we live in a progressive time, stay-at-home moms are considered boring, lazy, lame, uneducated, incapable, passive, rich, weak, unproductive, to name a few, by many.  Or maybe it's just me that wonders if that's what I am.

Interestingly enough, during this time of self-reflection, I also had a lengthy conversation with one of G's long-time friends.  He and I were also friends and students together in college.  We spent many long hours in the newsroom at BYU learning the ropes of broadcast and print journalism.  He worked in NYC (my dream) and currently has a master's degree and works at media company.  (His wife is finishing up her second bachelor's degree -- nursing this time -- w
hile working outside the home and while mothering three children.  She graduated back when we did with her first degree.)  I trust his judgment and counsel considering he knew me during my "moving up in the world days" and his wife is not a a stay-at-home mom.

"In this era women can do anything.  And since they can do anything, they feel like they need to do everything.  And when they don't do everything, they feel like they aren't doing anything."

That's what he said.  And I liked that.

So I've been taking some time to reflect on my identity and what I do all day.  (Currently I'm sitting on my front porch in my workout clothes soaking up some serious vitamin D and typing on my laptop.  Being a stay-at-home mom isn't ALL tedious.)

I want to be a champion of all women and their choices. And I want to teach my sons to appreciate women who know who they are.

I can't exactly do that if I'm uncertain of who I am.

I'm trying to remember that my identity has nothing to do with my status as a mother.  It has nothing to do with my religion.  It has nothing to do with my job (or lack thereof).  It has nothing to do with my degree.  It has nothing to do with my talents.  It has nothing to do with my looks or size.  It has nothing to do with my hobbies (or lack thereof).  It has nothing to do with my marital status.  It has nothing to do with my confidence.  It has nothing to do with my interests.  It has nothing to do with my friends (or lack thereof).  It has nothing to do with my kids and their talents, successes, or behavior.

Those are some empowering things to understand.  And yet they are also very easy to forget.

This blog post has helped me to sort through all this.  And my sister has suggested I read Eckhart Tolle for more truth and guidance.

What is your identity?

Next up:  I will make a list of the things I'm proud of accomplishing on a given day.  And what I'm proud of accomplishing in the past year or so.  You should too. 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Rudy's Birth Story--Part 5--Placement Day

We woke up a couple hours after going to sleep.  It was Sunday morning.  Our kids were going to church with my parents.  My mom was supposed to speak that day, which meant my dad would be in charge of wrangling the two boys.  I was a little worried about that.  But otherwise, everything seemed right and good.  We got ready and left for the hospital.  It was eery and surreal and slightly awkward to be walking in with an empty carseat and a armful of gifts and huge grins on our faces.  Luckily the hospital was pretty quiet so we didn't stand out too much.  We texted R when we got there and said we would wait until she was ready for us to come in to see her.  We didn't really know what to expect.  This was our first time doing a hospital placement and we hadn't ironed out any details with her, so we were just planning to go with the flow.

She asked us to come to her room right away.  When we walked in, the room was filled with peace and love.  Her friends from church were still there.  Everyone was calm and quiet.  We talked casually for a little while, then her caseworker arrived.  We talked for a long time more.  Maybe even a couple hours.  Mostly we watched R holding him, rubbing his tummy, nursing him, and doing all the things a new mother does with her brand new baby.

Eventually we left so she could take pictures.  We left our nice camera with her, which turned out to be really cool because we got all the pictures she took.  After she took pictures, she read through all her paperwork, then relinquished her parental rights.  Her caseworker later told us that she was very thorough and read through every word, making she she understood everything.  The language in those legal documents is harsh and final.  Meanwhile, we sat and waited about an hour in the lactation room there in the hospital.  We were so excited and so nervous.

  
After awhile, another caseworker came to get us.  We stood waiting outside the door for a little while while R said goodbye to her baby.  We made small talk because we hadn't met that particular caseworker before, then shared with her the miracles of us getting to this point.  She shared some of her trials in life.  Even though we had done placement two other times, nothing prepares you for that experience.  And actually, since we had done it twice before, I think we stood there with extra trepidation.  We knew exactly what was happening behind that closed door, just ten feet from where we stood.  And we knew what was about to take place as soon as they opened the door to say they were ready.  It is a humbling experience to watch a  mother muster that much courage.  It is excruciating to watch a mother suffer so much grief and fear.  We felt so much guilt, so much fear, so much excitement, so much awe, and so much peace all at once as we stood there. 

Just then we saw Santa and several firefighters from the local fire department come out of the hospital room next door.  It wasn't our place to suggest they skip R's room, but on the other hand, she was kissing her baby goodbye at that precise moment and certainly the last thing she wanted to do was get interrupted to take pictures with Jolly St. Nick.  And see us standing there waiting for her.  But as luck would have it, her caseworker opened the door right then and said she was ready.  The firefighters said they were coming around to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and to take baby's first picture with Santa.  Surprisingly, R welcomed them readily into her room.  She said she wanted us in the picture, so G and I gathered around her hospital bed.  I was shaking like crazy and was so overwhelmed.  The irony of the good cheer those firemen brought was overwhelming and I couldn't contain my tears any longer when Santa said, "What a wonderful gift you've received this Christmas!"  Immediately R sprung from her bed and came and gave me and G a tight hug.  I could physically feel her strength and confidence.  I knew she was broken-hearted, but she trusted us.  I knew that she was doing this for her baby, and she could handle it.

Santa Claus was obviously very confused at the sudden tears from everyone in the room and made his way out in a hurry.  Later her caseworker told me that she had gone out in the hall to explain to them that the baby's mother was moments away from placing her baby into our arms.  I wonder if those firemen went back to the station and talked about the service they performed that day.  I wonder if those firemen went home and told their families about the love they saw that day. I hope so and I hope they continue visiting new babies at the hospital.  That memory means a lot to our family.


The next part is almost a blur.  It's surreal.  It's so difficult to watch someone grieve like that.  All her friends and the caseworkers left and we gave her gifts.  She said her goodbyes and rocked him and wept.

After a little while she told the caseworkers and friends we were ready  She wrapped him in a blanket and handed him to me.

It was time for us to leave the room, leaving her alone.  I was shaking so badly I couldn't push him in the bassinet out of the room.  It seemed cruel to be the one to walk away from her with her baby.

We were taken back to the lactation room so we could sign our papers.  We were so nervous and overwhelmed we could hardly even look at him.  G held him.  I was still a little to shaken up.  The caseworkers read through all the paperwork, we signed everything.  We took a picture there in that tiny room, then out in the hall in front of the Christmas tree.  By then I had taken enough deep breaths that I had relaxed quite a bit.  Then the nurse watched us change his diaper and put him in his carseat.  A different nurse escorted us out to the car and watched us put him in.




Our first photo right after our papers were signed.  Still a little shaky and overwhelmed.

Our second photo in front of the Christmas tree on the maternity floor.


We drove home. When we got home we facetimed with G's parents and re-learned how to mix formula.  Our boys and parents and brother arrived an hour or so after we did.  We were so excited to have our older boys come home to meet him.  They had suffered so much too, waiting and hoping and nearly giving up hope they'd ever get their baby.  Shortly after they arrived with my parents, my brother and his family came, bringing chili, and then a friend visited that night.  It was all so unbelievable.  Just two short weeks before, I had fasted to know what to do because we didn't have it in us to hope for a miracle that might not happen.





We spent the next week in pure bliss, still very tender though. My favorite thing in the whole world is to snuggle a newborn baby on the couch for hours and days and weeks on end.  I loved every minute with him.  And he was perfect.  He was snugly and warm and peaceful. 

It took me a few days to kiss him.  I loved him and felt like he was mine immediately.  But I was terrified of falling in love with him.  He was too good to be true!  But as the days went by, and as his birthmom texted us reassuring us that she would be OK, my fears subsided finally and I felt more confident. 

We loved him so much.  Wow, it was love from my dreams, honestly.  I just can't articulate how much love I felt for him and how much my love for my other two boys grew, watching how much they adored him too.

Some of the details and emotion of this story probably seem exaggerated.  But it feels good to have it completely written out, even after two years have passed.  Especially because it is a reminder that God is good and loves all of his children.  Despite five long posts detailing how it all unfolded, there are still sacred details to this story that make it even more remarkable.  I hope I never forget.  I hope I never forget that fear and hopeless feeling.  I hope I never forget how nuzzling his cheeks (that still smell like sugar) fills me with joy equal to the despair we all once felt.  And I also hope I never forget that it doesn't take much to get ready for a baby.  We didn't have strong feelings on his name and it worked out.  We started washing bottles and clothes 12 hours before we brought him home and it all worked out.  His room is still not decorated -- 2 years later.  And it doesn't matter.  All that mattered was love.  That's so cliche, but it's true. 

We are so thankful God didn't rush, but brought him to us on the right day.  He was born one day after G's "deadline."  Had he been born any sooner and his birth father would likely have intervened and not allowed placement.  Had he been born any later and our family wouldn't have been available. 

Neal A. Maxwell said, "The cavity which suffering carves into our souls will one day also be the receptacle of joy."

Next I'll have to write about what a delight he has been these past two years.  Andrew=Best Baby Ever.  

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Pocket Notes

Sam is very enthusiastic about school and everything he learns.  He has been frustrated more than once when he's arrived home and tried to tell me some wonderful fact or procedure, but couldn't remember all the details.  So imagine my delight when one day he came home and pulled a piece of paper from his pocket.  The paper had notes from what they learned that day, things like what serrated means, that a starfish is now called a sea star, large numbers he learned how to write, how many days left until a big vacation, his table partner's last name so they can join the same baseball team -- you know, things that shall be remembered past the school day.

The past few weeks they have had a special instructor coming to their class to teach everyone how to make glass.  He has LOVED this and has meticulously written down the process and supplies needed in hopes that he can become a glass-maker at home.  (He said he hopes all the supplies can be purchased from Costco.  Ha!)  His birth-grandma informed me that glass-making happens to be one of the most expensive form of art, which just figures.

A note I found in Sam's pocket counting down to our Thanskgiving North Carolina beach vacation.

Sam's teacher is wonderful.  I adore her love of learning!  She has been studying the brain and showed the kids a video this week, teaching them the science behind the idea that if they believe in themselves, they can do more than if they don't.  Sam was thrilled because we talk about the brain quite a bit in our family, so he knew what they were learning would be of interest to our family.  When he came home he told us that he had the solution to all of our problems.  "I learned some things about the brain that will be able to help you.  I just know you will feel better if you do these things:  drink lots of water, exercise, and eat healthy food.  And I didn’t learn this part at school, but I think you should do meditation too because I know it can help your brain a lot too.  If you do that you will grow more neurons in your brain and will be able to make better choices.” 

Unfortunately I don't have any pictures of most of these notes but I should take some because they are pretty awesome.

Noah has never done this.  I'd imagine most kids haven't.

But I was cleaning out pockets for laundry a few weeks ago and ran across this gem from Noah's pocket.  It goes without saying, Noah has been trying to convince me to let him wear his new Vans hat to school since Christmas.


Sadly, when I asked Noah about it later, he thought it was a victory -- that his teacher was on his side.  But I let him know I hadn't been worried about him wearing it outside... 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Happy Birthday


 The view from my window on my birthday.  Lovely!

We just wrapped up birthday season at our house.  Five birthdays within a month. 

There were some huge highlights to my big day.

The weather was lovely for winter.  I love Oregon's temperate winter weather since I hate being cold.  It was sunny with black skies.  Those stereotypes about the grey skies, even when it's sunny are true.  And sorry-but I love that.

First thing when I woke up and came downstairs, Sam said he needed to tell me something.  I expected birthday greetings, or something like that.  Instead he whispered, "I have an idea for our last hiding spot for our elf.  Tonight I think you should hide him in the basket of ornaments on the black table."  Now this was particularly funny because the ONLY reason we have "elf on the shelf" is because of Sam.  Noah hasn't believed in Santa or any sort of elf for years.  And while Andrew loved looking for the elf every morning, he was barely two and certainly doesn't "get it."  As far as I knew, Sam was our only "believer."  Apparently we have no believers and I have no idea how/when that happened.  And furthermore, I am so curious about why he whispered.  Did he think Noah believes?

Another joy was asking the kids pick out some costumes for our nativity later that with cousins.  Noah came into my room to tell me something and was wearing an old Captain Jack Sparrow costume he loved when he was 4 (seven years ago) -- reincarnated as a shepherd.  He may be a tween in all it's glory, but he still is creative and a little boy, I love that about him. 

Every year for Mother's Day and my birthday I tell the kids I want "peace and quiet."  They aren't super good at giving that particular gift because... HAVE YOU MET MY KIDS?!  But then I ran across this quote on Brene Brown's facebook page and I thought it was beautiful.  I know I can control the level of peace in my life. And so I enjoyed peace from within that day.  And it was super nice.


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Brothers

My two older boys have gotten along really well for the most part.  I know it's unusual and I know quarreling children is a source of stress and exhaustion for other parents.  So rather than bragging about it, I willingly admit I'm very fortunate.  It's a blessing that I can take NO credit for.  They are four years a part, their personalities are vastly different, and they share quite a few common interests, so they enjoy playing together.  Plus Noah is (used to be) very patient and Sam is very mature.  So they are a brotherly match made in heaven.

However, Noah has started getting annoyed with Sam in the last few months.  It's really sad because they used to have so much fun together.  Yesterday I got tired of it.  They'll be spending a lot of time together over the Christmas break, which helps them get along better.  And I wanted to make sure they did have a chance to re-connect right away.  So I decided to start the Christmas break off by having Noah make a list of all the things he loves about Sam.  He ended up with a list of 63 things (he had to add a few extra for non-compliance at first).  He had to read this list to Sam while holding both of Sam's hands.  He was not thrilled at first, but he did it and they've had a great day together, as expected.

His list is so funny.  He describes Sam with perfect detail.  But this list tells just as much about Noah as it does Sam. 

63 Things I Love About Sam:
  1. He's funny
  2. He's fun (occasionally)
  3. He's adopted like me
  4. He's great at Legos
  5. He goes birding (when he's not annoying and when he actually likes the birds we see)
  6. He's nice
  7. He's cute (that's what you say)
  8. He's good at having good boundaries with me, other people, and our family
  9. He is easy to talk to 
  10. He is responsible
  11. He isn't mean
  12. He isn't a person who would make fun of you for your mistakes
  13. He really doesn't care about what you do to make a fool of yourself and he doesn't care when you accidentally make a mistake
  14. He is a good reader
  15. He is a good writer
  16. He is good at math
  17. He is a good learner
  18. He is funny
  19. He is kind
  20. He is patient
  21. He likes what I like
  22. His birth family likes me
  23. He does lots of service
  24. He's helpful
  25. He's a good eater
  26. He's good at Legos
  27. He doesn't make fun of me
  28. He likes you for what you are
  29. He doesn't care how you look
  30. He's awesome
  31. He's a artist
  32. He's kind and nice
  33. He likes animals
  34. He's good at using binoculars
  35. He's smart
  36. He's creative
  37. He's good at drawing
  38. He's good at painting
  39. He's a safe person
  40. He's a good brother
  41. He's friendly
  42. He's a person with integrity
  43. He's a good babysitter (that sucks for me)
  44. He's cool
  45. He's responsible
  46. He's good with tools
  47. He's easy to talk with
  48. He would make a good police
  49. He cares about me
  50. He wants me to accomplish my goals
  51. He's helpful
  52. He's swag
  53. He's loving
  54. He's good at sharing
  55. He's fun to hang out with
  56. He's more responsible than me
  57. He has a lot of friends
  58. He's easy to make friends with
  59. He's good at skateboarding
  60. He's good at biking
  61. He's good at coming up with lies
  62. He's a good listener
  63. He's good at everything

I'm BACK!

I haven't blogged in over a year, despite having more "material" and things to talk about than ever before.  I want to make more time to document the adventures of parenting.  My kids are so much fun and so hilarious and such crazy kids that I feel it a huge shame I don't write all this stuff down.  Plus I have ideas and thoughts that I'd like to write out somewhere.  And bottom line, I enjoy writing!  It clears out the clutter in my head and gives me a sense of accomplishment to have done something with my day and life. 

I don't care if anyone reads or comments.  In fact, the only reason I am going to make this public or write on a blog rather than just writing a journal, is to hold myself accountable to actually do it.  Plus I hope it encourages other people (family:  I'm looking at you!) to write too. 

And lastly, I'm not keeping my kids' pseudonyms.  The biggest reason I had them before is because we were actively looking for potential birthparents for years and there were/are lots of scammers and creepy people online preying on families hoping to adopt.  I felt like my kids and my parenting were vulnerable enough.  I wasn't afraid for our safety, just careful to keep some of our antics private.  Now that we have three birth families that we know and trust, I don't have the same need to hide as many details of our family online.

The good news is, I've composed the final installment of Andrew/Rudy's birth story.  Yay!  Just in time to celebrate him turning two last week.  I will publish it as soon as I add a few pictures. 

The picture above relates to nothing, but I'm using G's laptop to type and he only has pics from his GoPro on this computer.  And this was a cool one.   That's Sam and his eyelashes really are that long. 

Merry Christmas!  And Happy Birthday to Noah, Sam, G, Andrew, and Me. 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Rudy's Birth--Part 4

Breakfast with my family.  We sent this pic to R to tell her we were celebrating her.  

That night I couldn't sleep. This time because I was so excited and nervous.  The next morning I was up super early before anyone else (first time that's ever happened).  My brother suggested we go to breakfast as a family to celebrate.  While at breakfast, I talked to R's caseworker several times working out details of how the next 24 hours would go.  R wanted to do placement that night, only 24 hours after baby's birth.  We were uncomfortable with that plan because the caseworker was traveling home from a business trip that afternoon, so placement would be late and rushed.  Plus I thought R should take her time making her decision and holding her baby.  R wanted us to come to the hospital to see her baby that day, so we made plans to quickly get a Christmas tree, then drop our kids off at my parent's house so we could spend some time at the hospital.

We still hadn't done a single thing to get ready for the baby to come home, which for a planner like me, was weighing really, really heavy.  But because everything was still up in the air that week prior, we couldn't possibly put things like birthday parties and getting a Christmas tree on hold.  

Putting the tree ahead of the baby that day was a bad idea, however.  We got to to the tree lot and it was cold and pouring down rain.  The saw G brought wasn't strong enough to cut the tree down.  Eventually he borrowed a hack saw and after a lot of frustration, finally got it cut down and roped to the top of the car.  The clock was ticking.  We were supposed to be at the hospital in two hours and we still needed to do the following:  drive home and set up the tree, get dressed and be presentable, drop our kids off at my parents' house, drive one hour to the hospital.  On our way home R texted me that the hospital staff reserved us a room at the hospital so we could stay the night with the baby.  I was terribly uncomfortable taking her precious time with him.  Plus there wasn't enough minutes in the day to prepare for an overnight stay, which would include packing everything we would need for placement (gifts for birthmom, camera, etc) and everything we would need for baby (carseat, clothes, blankets, formula, bottles, diapers, etc), plus our overnight stuff, plus overnight clothes for our other two kids.  Earlier that day we had discovered our bottles -- an entire large tub full -- were missing.  The clothes were unwashed.  And our carseat was still in the box it arrived in.  We had no diapers.  We had nothing ready.

Within the next hour there was a lot of yelling and crying and absolute mayhem and panic.  We were going to arrive late to meet the baby we had prayed for for years!  The chaos seemed so inconsistent with how things should be.  And on top of everything else, the tree we just spent an hour cutting down was way too big for our tree stand.  We tried and tried to get it to work, each minute ticking by as we wrestled with it.  We considered putting it in the yard debris recycling bin and giving up on the tree that Christmas season.  Sometimes you have to know when to hold them and when to fold them.  The tree was not worth losing our baby or marriage over...  It all sounds so dramatic, and trust me, it was.  Finally we decided to put it in a bucket and lean it against the wall in our living room. We figured it could stay like that for a few days until we got everything else in our lives situated.  But in the meantime it fell over multiple times and lost most of it's needles all over our carpet.  We are still enjoying, a year later, looking at the sap stains on the wall from where it rested that weekend. 

The blasted tree.  The carnage actually was much, much worse than it looks.  

Eventually we were in the car and headed for grandma's house.  On route we decided we wouldn't stay the night.  It seemed like a selfish decision from every angle.  Plus logistics played a role in that decision.  

We don't have a lot of feelings or memories from that first visit.  We were nervous as we arrived.  And we thought he was so beautiful when we saw him.  He was fat (9 lbs, 1 oz) and looked like a 6-week old baby.  He had a full head of dark hair with a slight red tint.  His skin was perfect and his head was round like a much older baby.  He had enormous hands and feet and the most pronounced elf ears.  He was our first full-term baby, which made a big difference in his size and how developed he looked.

Each of our experiences meeting our baby's for the first time are all very different.  God gave me what I needed for each individual situation.  I just needed to cope in that moment.  I didn't have any amazing spiritual experiences.  I didn't feel bonded in that instant.  I felt "fine."  I felt like everything was as it should be and he was ours, but otherwise, I was keeping a safe emotional distance.
 G holding his boy for the first time. 

I felt regret that week that when he gets older and we tell him his story, we won't be telling a story of excitement and bliss leading up to his birth.  But as I've thought about it, we were clueless about R's pregnancy, and once we learned of him, we were busy and scared.  We were worried and terrified of not getting him more than anything.

I thought I wanted any baby, but as soon as I got to know him, I realized I wanted him.  So while this baby didn't get a nursery and his parents weren't full of joy and anticipation on the day of his birth, he will grow up knowing we wanted him so badly it physically hurt.  And he will grow up knowing he healed that pain.  It wasn't the anticipation of his arrival that was exciting.  But it was the reality of what he brought to our family that was exciting. 

Rudy's birthfather didn't go to the hospital as feared and his birthmom was still very resolved and unemotional about everything.  This was both a relief and a serious worry.  She was very generous and was willing to let us hold him as much as we wanted.  She was still open to us staying the night with him.  She said he was our baby.  All the details were coming together as we hoped, but it was unusual that she was so detached from the situation.  All birthmoms are different, but we hoped she was OK and was giving herself permission to feel the joys of having a baby, and the deepest lows a person can experience.  She was very stoic during that first visit.

She had amazing friends from church there in the hospital with her.  We were so impressed by their love and friendship.  They all had children at home and here it was a week before Christmas, but they were there with her around the clock.  The staff at the hospital was warm and supportive of her and us.  It was a little awkward feeling like we were intruding on such sacred space, but the staff seemed to go with the flow, which was so nice.

We loved watching R nurture her baby.  She was so soft with him.  Rudy was her second baby, so nursing and changing diapers came naturally to her.  She was very at ease caring for him.

We didn't spend a lot of time there that afternoon.  Nobody really had much to say. And we wanted to give her as much time as possible to be his mommy.

Does he look like a baby that is less than 24-hours old?  His hair was amazing and still is.  I could tell already he would be a sweetheart.  

We spent the drive back texting with our caseworker and hers, working out details for placement the next day.  We planned to arrive at the hospital around 10:00.  There was a lot to do in the meantime.  The caseworkers needed to prepare the mountains of paperwork to be signed by her and us.  And in order to do that, they needed his name.  They had been asking us for a few days, as had R.  We had been casually considering names and had a short list, but nothing felt right.  Mostly because I just couldn't bring myself to choose a name for a hypothetical baby.  Now that we had seen him and held him and now that we were 14 hours away from placement, it was time to make a commitment.

The weight of that decision seemed overwhelming.  The task was impossible.   We decided to discuss it over dinner.  As we walked into the restaurant, we saw two of my good friends from highschool, and conveniently, they were also fellow adoptive parents.  It was another huge comfort to have their support, understanding, and listening ear.

We talked and talked and talked about possible names.  R had chosen his middle name a few hours before he was born.  It was a unique Hawaiian name meaning "a cool breeze blowing over a mountain."  She loved it because she wanted him to be a strong person who gave people peace during their difficult times.  It was also a fitting name, considering he was born on a day of tragedy and was such a source of peace for her and for our family.

We considered Edward as a first name, a family name on both sides.  We both loved it and that was R's top choice for him.  (That name would have suited him perfectly, now that we know him.  Darn!)  But it just didn't feel right.  We had a few other options and they didn't seem right either.  G liked one name in particular, but although I liked it, it didn't have any significance to me.  It was just a random nice name.  I needed to feel a connection, enough to trump the family name we were considering. We agonized over this.  Our phones were blowing up with friends and family and caseworkers begging for more details... and a name.

I thought hard about why I cared about his name.  I had cared so deeply for Sambo's name that I traded naming rights for lasik eye surgery.  I got to pick his name, G got surgery to fix his eyes.  Seemed like a fair trade and I am still so happy with that negotiation six years later.  Anyway, as I soul-searched while eating chips and salsa, I realized I didn't care what Rudy's name was.  I just wanted HIM.  For years I hadn't cared which baby I got.  I was even willing to do foster care and share parenting someone else's baby, as long as I got to have a baby.  I sat there in the restaurant and realized I didn't need a powerful connection right away with him when I first saw him.  I knew I'd love him no matter who he was or what his name was.  It's an interesting thing.  When so much is at stake, a baby or not a baby, names just don't matter.  So I let G choose.

I did, however, want to make sure the name he chose was associated with good strong men.  Interestingly enough, the two people we could think of right then with that name were amazingly strong men that we admired from church.  One of the men had lost an infant daughter to a heart defect only three months prior.  We had watched him and his wife handle the experience and their grief with so much faith and grace.  It seemed like a honor to give a son a name that reminded us of somebody so strong and courageous.  The decision was made.  The name was formal for a baby, so G texted our friend and asked him what nicknames he had a kid.  He replied right away with some good ones, including Roo-Roo.  As soon as I heard the name Roo-Roo, my heart was full.  I knew that Roo-Roo was my baby.  Quickly, we thought of the nickname Rudy and then Rooster.  And all three names have stuck.  Now a year later, I don't even think Rudy knows what his real name is. 

We left the restaurant, returned to my parent's house to tuck our kids into bed there.  We then made an 11:00pm stop at Target to buy a bouncy seat (I sleep train from day one and needed one for that purpose), some diapers, formula, and a bottle since we weren't sure where our stash was.  We came home and while G spent an hour (literally) vacuuming up needles that had fallen all over the carpet, I started washing baby clothes.  We eventually found the bottles, thank goodness, hidden in a strange spot in a garage cupboard.  G put together the carseat and we straightened the house.  We organized our gifts for R, charged our camera, chose some outfits for him to come home in -- all hand-me-downs from his brothers.  But we had some darling Christmas outfit options at least!  Eventually we went to bed at dawn.  The stress of the week was over.  We were exhausted but energized yet also very serene.  We had chosen a name.  Our bottles were washed.  We had clothes and all the necessities.  We were beyond ready and it was happening.