Friday 28 November 2008

Am I A Genius?

Or is this the worst idea I've ever had?

Let me explain. We were babysitting for friends on Tuesday night (yes! The same friends from last episode!) and I was torturing myself by reading their baby knitting patterns book. I haven't really knitted since I was a teenager, but for some reason I can't walk past a knitting pattern book without picking it up. So anyway, I was looking at pictures of tiny hats and booties and feeling a bit depressed (quelle surprise) and wishing that I had a real baby rather than a Hypothetical Future Baby. (I'm not going to re-hash all the reasons for that because you've all already heard me say it once this week, and have been startlingly kind and sympathetic in your responses, for which I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Number one on my thanksgiving list, if I had one, would be the internet, as it has connected me to all of YOU, helped me lose nearly a stone by tracking weightwatchers points and enabled me to find my cat. Thank you internet, and thank you wonderful bloggers. But I digress).

So anyway, I was getting a bit teary over the baby clothes and thinking 'waaaah, there's no point me knitting anything for a newborn because I'm never going to have one' when I came across a section on baby blankets. Surely these are the ultimate one-size-fits-all baby accessory? Whether our baby is teeeny tiny or hulkingly huge, they will still need a blanket, right? Add to this the fact that a blanket could easily be transported to the foster centre when we travel out and left with there with HFB until we get through court? And then it could take on the role of familiar item when we get home, as recommended by attachment experts? This is the stage at which I thought 'I'm a genius! Finally, something constructive I can do while I wait, rather than complaining on my blog, that will produce a treasured item in future years!' Of course, I then realised:

1) It might not be a great idea to start knitting before we actually get through panel, but this is going to be the biggest block of time I would have to do it (and it's NOW that i'm really struggling with the the whole grief thing, which I'm hoping this might take my mind off);

2) Baby knitting books make me cry (see above);

3) I'm not actually very good at knitting.

I'm also a bit worried that Hypothetical Future Baby is going to be thinking 'I've lost my birth mother, and I've already been moved from orphanage to foster centre - and now some woman is trying to make it up to me by giving me a BLANKET? I don't think so, crazy lady. Excuse me while I vomit up some formula on it. Oh, you made it out of cashmere and it can't be washed? Moron'. If I do make this, it's going to have to be out of something that can literally be boiled in a big pot to sterilise it.

So give me your opinions. Is this going to be a constructive, useful way to use this frustrating time of waiting for approval, or is a book full of chubby tots really not going to help my peace of mind? Help me out here. Has anyone done anything similar?

Monday 24 November 2008


So, yesterday we had lunch with friends and found out that she is 16 weeks pregnant with baby #2. Each time this happens, I tell myself 'this time, this time it's not going to upset me. I'm going to congratulate them sensibly, and NOT go home and cry'. One day I hope to actually be able to follow this resolution through.

I can't dress it up as anything else - my problem here is envy, plain and simple. I'm not envious of their boring white baby, but I'm envious of the fact that they didn't have to ask anybody's permission to have it, and nobody came and sat at their house for ten visits and made them write a stupid essay about their personality. I'm envious about the fact that they get to keep their family planning private, but we can't because we needed them to be referees. I'm envious of the fact that this baby was conceived AFTER we applied, but will be almost six months along by the time we're even approved - oh yeah, IF we're approved - and will probably be in college by the time we actually bring a baby home. And while we're on THAT topic, I'm envious - hugely, ridiculously so - of their due date, which means they know, at least to within a few weeks, when they will be parents again. Oh, and I'm envious of the fact that they know what age the darn baby will be when they get it home. And envious of the fact that the baby won't need to learn to be attached to them, but will already know its mothers smell and voice. Most of all, I'm envious, so much that I can hardly see straight, that all they had to do to get that baby in there was have sex.

I am so sick of this. I'm sick of having no control over what should be the most adult decision of our lives. I'm sick of hating myself for the way I react to things, and I'm sick of crying about this while I'm at work. I'm sick of whining about it.I'm sick of being reminded that I need to learn to rejoice with those who rejoice, when all I want to do is slap them. I'm sick of dreading Christmas. I'm sick of doubting myself, and wondering if I can ever be a good parent to an adopted child when the adoption process makes me SO ANGRY. It hasn't been a very good day.

Saturday 22 November 2008

Things that Rock Thursday - blend it, baby

I know, I know - some people would say that it is not actually Thursday today. Who knows - those people may be right. But the last few weeks have been spent in a dizzying, nausea-inducing, day-of-the-week-forgetting whirlwind of work, and I figure I've spent enough time at the office in the last few days to claim that, whatever everyone else says, I'm up to next Thursday already. The only thing that gets me through the spreadsheety melee is a daily visit to the university's smoothie shop, where I can buy an enormous jugful of pureed fruit for a very reasonable price and consume a week's worth of vitamins in about five minutes. This time of year is always like this, so it's the only time I allow myself to break my 'one smoothie a week' rule and just go fruit crazy.

In fact, I'm so much in the smoothie zone that when I went into Aldi earlier to get milk I noticed they had pineapples for 69p, as well as ridiculously out-of-season raspberries and decided that even though I'm not at work, today would be a smoothie day as well.

Cold as it is, dont' you just want to drink this (#8: mango, apple and orange)?

This is not a photo of me, by the way (how weird would THAT be, if it turned out I was actually a man? Let me assure you I am not) but rather my cooperative friend from work, C, who also enjoys the occasional trip down smoothie lane.

Before I go to blend myself into a pineapple and raspberry frenzy, I'm going to switch gear and link you to two posts I read this week that really made me think (okay, they made me cry). Here is Misty (Journeying Sojourners) on the whole adoption / pregnancy thing, and Anna (Team Stager) on waiting. Highly recommended!

Wednesday 19 November 2008

Now that I've finally got over myself

Lately, I've been finding myself thinking, all the time, about my baby's birth mother. I'm suddenly very aware that there is a woman, somewhere in Ethiopia, who is probably pregnant with my future baby right now. What is her life like? What is she like? How much is she suffering? Is she angry that she's pregnant? Frightened? Thrilled? Is she already making a plan about what to do? Or is she looking forward to this baby, and doesn't know what's going to happen between now and then that mean she won't be able to care for it? Does she already have children? Is she still a child herself? Does she have enough to eat? Does she have HIV? Is she unmarried, and are her family angry? Would she absolutely despise me if she knew how much money I had just spent on a handbag? And who is the father? Is he involved in her life? Will he help her through this?
So many questions, and I suppose I'll never know any of the answers.
Except for the handbag one, that's probably a 'yes'.

Friday 14 November 2008

It's been a long time coming

So it turns out my firm-mother-voice is WAY less effective than I thought, as my gleaming stainless steel baby still hasn't arrived.

But strangely, I find myself not caring. Well, caring - but not *too* much. I haven't even really composed many options for sarcastic ebay feedback in my head. Instead, what's this unfamiliar emotion I'm feeling? My lips - they keep twitching upwards. And my brain - it doesn't feel all foggy. And my uncoordinated feet keep on tip-tip-tapping out an involuntary dance under my desk. Could it be? Gosh golly, I think it is - I feel certifiably happy.

To borrow a phrase from Courtney - I too have been in a bit of a funk recently. Lots of bitterness and self-doubt. Lots of fears about falling short, and somekind of inescapable inadequacy. While I'm being honest here, lots of anger about some bits of our situation and depression about others. In short, lots of bad stuff going on in my head (which might be why, as I draft this in gmail, google's smart ads are offering me the options of hypnosis or an MRI. I should have written this weeks ago). All the while, I keep realising how far short I fall of what I should be like - I should be seeking out contentment in any and every circumstance, rather than seeking changed circumstances to make me content.

But, in God's grace, our circumstances are changing- for which I am very thankful! The trial I thought would never pass is nearly over, and we have our final meeting with our social worker on Saturday (tomorrow!!) It feels exactly like coming to the end of a set of gruelling exams - euphoria, but tinged with worry about what the outcome might be. I need to pray for a lot of patience in the month and a half remaining before we have our final assessment panel. In addition to the end of the SW visits, not so long ago, I posted this:

and I finally have an answer: *today*. Today there is good news. We've just had confirmation that there is a foster home in Addis that will be willing to help us identify a suitable child when we are paper-ready. Especially with all the changes that have happened lately, this is a BIG RELIEF. I couldn't be more thankful.

Tuesday 11 November 2008

The brown stuff

I'm not going to wax lyrical in praise of coffee - I'm way too embarrassed, after reading that coffee is the number one thing white people like - but we do start the day with good coffee, every day, and along with my bowl of cereal it helps to make the world feel like a slightly more stable place. As my life spirals out of control, I really value at least having a predictable breakfast. But in amongst all the fun and rainbows of the last few weeks has come the sad and growing certainty that our espresso machine is dying. It's losing pressure, and the last month or so has seen increasingly watery and insipid coffee staring up at me from my favourite blue cup.

What to do?

Obviously, we need to get a new one. Even more obviously, I'm never going to find one that is anywhere near as much of a bargain as the incumbent. It was marked down, and down, and down and in the end it cost me so little that I'm embarrassed to even say. Okay, about £20. Which is insane, for a good espresso machine. Problem is, J now thinks this is how much they normally cost and was unwilling to authorise spending any more to buy a replacement. Pleading didn't work. Offering to spend my birthday money (how old am I, twelve??) partially worked, but in the end the magic words were:

"I will buy it from Ebay".

J and I love Ebay. For example: Our fridge is from ebay. Our washing machine is from ebay. Our garden shed is from ebay. Even the bricks for our garden path were from ebay. (We spent a Saturday evening driving to Oxford to load our car with bricks, and then drove back and unloaded them all. Who says romance is dead, hey?)

We don't buy stuff there very often, but when we do, we do it wholeheartedly. None of this buy-it-now nonsense. You want cheap home appliances? You have to bid. So anyway, I went, I saw, I bid, I purchased. Someone who clearly has richer relatives than me was willing to sell an unwanted (and more importantly unused) wedding present of a Gaggia Baby Class for a mere fraction of its RRP.
Ahhhhh. So lovely.

So I bought this on Friday and paid for it immediately (of course!) But now! Now I'm having all kinds of trouble with the transaction. I'm certain the guy isn't a fraudster, but he is completely incompetent and isn't able to claim my paypal payment. I've had to pay and cancel twice now, to different email addresses. And because he hasn't got the money, he hasn't sent the machine. I'm getting fed up, but got a really good price so not willing to cancel the transaction. All weekend was fantasising about having coffeemaker that actually works, so I'm disappointed that it's being held up. This is why people buy stuff from shops, I guess.
In the end I called him to discuss payment. He suggested a postal order, which would be great, if it was still 1972. Also if I was able to get to a post office during the day. Eventually he agreed to another hi-tech form of money transfer - the cheque. All was fine, until he said 'so I'll wait until I've received your cheque, deposited it, and then it's cleared, and then I'll send the item'.
I guess he expected me to be happy with that. But then, this is a man who a) owns a super-cool espresso machine and b) doesn't appreciate it enough to even keep it, so you can guess how much I value his opinion. In the end, I thought about all the discipline books I had been reading and pretended he was a toddler. Kind but firm. 'NO. I will send a cheque immediately, and you will post it immediately. I've already paid twice. You know the money is in my account. This is not my problem. The only problems are between you and paypal. SEND ME MY MACHINE NOW!!!!!' To which he agreed, surprisingly quickly. I'm going to be such a great mother.
Perhaps I overreacted a little. But all I'm asking him to do is put an expensive item in the post without any positive proof of payment. Is that really so much to ask?
No, I don't think so either. I can smell the coffee already.
On a completely different note, happy Armistice Day, everybody. 90 years today. I'm generally not patriotic about my home country at all - I don't even particularly like barbeques, or kangaroos (although barbequed kangaroo is delicious) but Australia's contribution to WWI makes me feel both very proud and very sad. (WWII, too, obviously, but that war actually had something to do with us so it was fractionally less criminally wasteful). Australia, apparently, lost a higher proportion of its population in WWI than any other country. I really miss celebrating ANZAC day each year - strangely. If you want to make an Australian cry, just say - Gallipoli! Anzac Cove! British incompetence! The beaches! The cliffs! Mel Gibson! So many young lives! Make sure you've got tissues, though, or you'll regret it.
Some of you know much better than I do how much conflict still rages around the world. I think today is a good day to pray for all those caught up in it, everywhere, and for peace.

Thursday 6 November 2008

Things that Rock Thursday - short and sweet

Well, according to our social worker's health and safety inspection on Tuesday, our house is both healthy and safe.

Amazing. That definitely rocks.

Fortunately she didn't check any closets.

Actually, she was really reasonable about it all. The form says that we are supposed to have stairgates, and so on, and a crib, and she just rolled her eyes and said that no, we didnt' need to actually have any of that stuff until we actually had a baby in the house. Which was a huge relief to me, because I really don't want to do that kind of shopping until we've got a reason to. Anyway, this reminded me how fortunate we are to have such a nice social worker. And while (let's be honest) I hugely resent her presence in my life, I actually like her, personally, very much. And I really didn't expect that. That really rocks too.

I know I've been a bit quiet lately, but I've been trying to put that 'if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all' stuff into practice and curb my tendency to just whine endlessly. I have been thinking, though (did I hear someone say overthinking? Okay, well, you might be right) and I'm sure some of those thoughts are going to spill over soon. Errr, very soon. And I've decided that I'm definitely going to do this - I think you all should too.