Please note on your readers that I have a new blog: http://nowaystosayit.com.

If you have any questions, you can email me at katieschaber (at) gmail.com.

Thank you for all of your support over the years! xo

Saturday, July 28, 2012

lessons in infertility

I'm grateful for my infertility.

I've expressed that before, but now - especially now - I feel the need to express that again. This disease has brought upon a change in me. And in this moment, I am incredibly thankful that it brought me the will to advocate for myself. Because now I have to use this skill to advocate for my daughter.

We didn't have a choice in this hospital. This is where T gave birth, so this is where K's NICU stay must happen. We can't transfer her, as insurance won't cover it because it isn't medically necessary. It's 90 minutes from home - inconvenient but not impossible - and supposedly has one of the best NICU units in the area.

Maybe it does. We've seen some great things from the doctors and nurses here. But we've also seen the bad and the ugly. There is no consistency in the way these babies are treated by the doctors or nurses. And there is no consistency in the evaluation methods used on K to determine whether she is ready to go home.

With many of them, there is also no support. We are often not treated with the same respect as biological parents with children in the unit. Because I stay almost full time, we are also taken for granted. The good nurses help in any way they can, but the bad nurses leave me to struggle both with sleep and trying to comfort our little girl. There have been times when we look out to see babies crying and nurses busy chit chatting or surfing the Internet.

And let me not get started on security. The lack of wrist bands. The constant questions about where the child's mother is - even though they see me every day and know that I am the mother.

I've fought everyone under the sun about these issues, and even though it's exhausting, infertility has taught me to never give up on an important fight. If I had been in this position several years ago, I never would have questioned the doctors and the nurses on their protocols. I never would have fought back. And even if the fighting back has to go on after we leave this hospital, to call attention to the issues with our level of care, I'm not afraid to do it.

So thank you, infertility. Every day you teach me new lessons about life, but today I am grateful for the most important lesson you've taught me thus far. I'm grateful for the ability to stand up for the medical care I believe is right. I'm grateful for the gift of advocacy - and I promise to continue with it. I promise to pass it along to my daughter.

I promise to never give up on what's right.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

NICU day #25

I'm going home this afternoon for a couple of days to catch up on sleep. When Joey and I return on Saturday, we will be bringing the car seat with us so that K can have her car seat test next week. What does this mean? It means that discharge is imminent. If there are no complications, we expect her to be released next weekend - right around her due date of August 3.

She's doing well, overall. Me? I've had my moments. This is tough, but not impossible. And it's almost over.

Please continue to send positive thoughts and prayers about K's health. I truly believe that those thoughts and prayers have gotten her to this point. And I'm almost certain they are what will bring her home.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

NICU day #17

A couple of years ago when I was still very bitter and angry about my infertility, I used to roll my eyes when people said that having a kid in the NICU is hard. I know. I'm a horrible person. But all I could think was, "Maybe, but it's better than not having a kid at all."

Which is true. I can vouch for that now that I've experienced it. But it's still difficult. Frustrating. Exhausting. There are great days, and then there are terrible days. Days when I feel completely inadequate as a parent because I can't comfort my child. Days when I feel frustrated because I have to ASK for my child's status updates instead of being told.

Baby K is only allowed to wake up eight times a day for her feedings, medication, and diaper change. Which means that we can basically only hold her eight times a day. If she wakes up, it counts against her in her evaluation to go home. If she gets too fussy, it counts against her. Things that people are able to do with their newborns, I'm not. We get no playtime. No time to be awake with each other.

I know that everything the doctors and nurses do is for her own good. It's so that she can get better and come home soon. But it doesn't mean I don't wish things were easier.

Hopefully those easier days are right around the corner. The doctor said today that if she continues to improve at the rate she's going now, she will likely be discharged in 10 to 14 days - a huge upgrade from the original six-week time frame presented to us. Of course, it's all based on how well she does each day. It's hard to look too far into the future.

As hard as it's been here in the NICU, I can't complain for a second about the level of support we're getting from family, friends, and the hospital. Whether it's gift cards to restaurants, care packages sent to our room, donations for K's medical expenses, or just visits, the love we've received is overwhelming.

And at the rate she's improving, I think K's feeling that love, too.

Friday, July 13, 2012

believing in the unbelievable

It's hard for me to believe that, less than a month ago, I wasn't sure if we would ever become parents. And I had accepted that. I had accepted the fact that we might have to make the difficult choice of not renewing our home study in the fall. I had accepted child-free living. We'd even discussed what we would do with all of the baby things that sat untouched in the nursery.

And now? Now I'm sitting here, starting to fill out parts of Baby K's baby memory book. I'm writing about the first time she opened her eyes - on the day that T signed her consent. I'm writing about how I freaked out when her belly button cord fell off a few days ago. I called for the nurse, panicking: "I'm not sure this is SUPPOSED to happen this early!" I'm busy doing laundry, trying to wash all of the things that, less than a month ago, I was hesitant to take out of the packaging.

I'm proud when she has good moments. Heartbroken when she has bad ones. Frustrated when the hospital staff doesn't listen to what I'm saying.

Somehow, from the time that Baby K was born to right now, I became a mom. I'm not sure when exactly it happened, but it did. Sometime in the last 11 days, I went from loving this baby and thinking she was cute to knowing she was mine. And she learned that I was hers. She looks at me when I talk to her. She smiles (and I don't care what anyone says - she DOES smile). Even when she doesn't have the energy to open her eyes, you can tell she's listening.

I haven't broken down and cried much since she was born, and when I have, it's been more over her health than it has over anything else. I have a feeling that I won't experience a sudden rush of emotion until she is actually home. We've had babies in this house before. But to have OUR baby in this house is a moment I thought might never occur.

That moment is now just weeks away. And I'm grateful that I never gave up on it. Because this is the feeling I've been searching for for over four years. The feeling that miracles really do happen.

I believe that now more than ever before. Because she - this - is a miracle.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

NICU day #9

It's hard to believe that Baby K was a week old yesterday. Time is flying! Which is a good thing, because I want her to come home as soon as possible.

She made great progress over the weekend, so much so that the neonatologist lowered her morphine dosage for the first time yesterday. Since then, she's been doing even better - eating more from the bottle and generally being more alert. We anticipate that she'll lower her medication a little more tomorrow. The process is slow but crucial for Baby K's recovery. A few of you have asked if the morphine meant that T was on illegal drugs during her pregnancy. The answer to this is no, but please understand that we are not disclosing the details of T or Baby K's health for privacy purposes. You know that phrase, "It isn't my story to tell"? Well, it isn't my story to tell.

As for us? Well, I'd be doing better if everything else surrounding this wasn't so stressful: being 90 minutes away from home, having issues with my insurance and adding the baby, having issues getting my FMLA approved, and (today's latest) learning that Joey's company will not give us our adoption reimbursement because we are missing ONE piece of paperwork that we won't receive until after finalization, which is sometime in November - even though their form says reimbursement occurs at placement. It never does get easier, that's for sure.

Right now, I'm doing my best to focus on Baby K and trying not to let that stress interfere with the fact that we need to get her better. I have my moments where I break down, and then I try to remind myself: one thing at a time. That's all my brain can handle at this point.

Please continue to keep our little girl in your thoughts.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

NICU day #6

Hello from the NICU!

K is still not eating as well as they would like her to, hence the feeding tube in her nose (which she HATES and pulled out last night), but this is more of a premie thing than anything else. She takes about 10-15 ml a feed, and then she passes out.

But beyond the eating, she's showing huge signs of improvement. If she continues the way she's going over the next 24-48 hours, they will most likely begin decreasing her morphine levels. This will take several weeks as it's a gradual process, but it means that she's on track to be released within the 6 week time frame they gave us.

I moved into her room yesterday afternoon. I will stay full time and Joey will come out on the weekends. The NICU nurses are incredible, which is making up for the times that the hospital staff has been less than understanding about the adoption situation and everything that comes with it.

Thank you all for your congratulations, and please continue to send thoughts and prayers for K - that she continues to get better and that we can take her home soon.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

baby k's arrival story

The past three days have been a whirlwind. Please excuse any typos as I haven't had much sleep!

We arrived at the hospital on Monday morning and went straight to T's room to see how she was doing. The delivery happened so fast that they didn't have time for any pain meds, so as you can imagine, she wasn't feeling great. We spent most of the day with her, and we all were able to go down and see K (the baby; I haven't had time to come up with a good nickname yet!) twice. Because she was in the NICU, we were not able to hold her the first day. And because we didn't have rights, we were totally in the dark about everything. Talk about frustrating. To make matters worse, our attorney was in court all morning, and didn't even get our messages until noon. Not only that, but his paralegal is out of the office for the 4th of July holiday. It was insane trying to communicate back and forth about everything. Needless to say, it was an exhausting day for everyone. We didn't get back home until almost 11 pm, and I don't think I slept more than 3 hours that night because I was so anxious.

Yesterday, we all (T, Joey, and I) went over to the NICU as quickly as we could once we arrived back at the hospital. T was able to hold her, feed her, and change her, and I was able to hold her. Then we returned to T's room. This is when things started to get a little crazy. I can't go into details to protect T, but let's just say that I would love to write a blog post called "how the State of Florida almost ruined our adoption."

Once all the drama settled down, T's doctor signed her official release for 6 pm, which meant that she could sign her consent at that time. Brian, our attorney, and his wife arrived, as well as T's biological dad, to serve as a witness for T. T went to see Baby K one last time with her oldest daughter, and they were able to hold her and feed her. Then, around 7 pm, she signed the papers. The hour from 6 pm to 7 pm sitting in the hospital cafeteria had to be the longest hour of my life. But I started bawling as soon as Brian's wife came walking around the corner, smiling. It was the first time I'd cried since our match. I never truly doubted that T would change her mind, but it was a WONDERFUL feeling to know that Baby K was now officially our baby girl.

Saying good-bye to T was difficult. All three of us cried some more. How do you say good-bye to someone who gave you the greatest gift one could ever give? It seemed nearly impossible. She's had such a hard life, and I know that even if she doesn't maintain contact, I will think about her every day. I will wonder if she's okay. I will wonder about Baby K's half-siblings. It will be impossible not to wonder about the person who made you a parent.

After the good-byes came the amazing part: going to the NICU for the first time as Baby K's parents. We spent most of the night with her and then we went back for most of today. Beginning Friday, at least one of us will be there full time (they allow us to stay in the room with her 24/7).

How is she doing? It varies, but she's a fighter. She's a healthy weight for being early (6 lbs. 4 oz.), but she still has quite an uphill battle. We were told yesterday that the average stay for a baby in her condition is about 6 weeks. It's going to be difficult. It already is difficult. I've broken down several times since we've seen her, and I'm sure there are more breakdowns to come.

But let's not end this on a sad note, okay? Let's end this on an amazing note. It took 1,500 days. 1,500 days, 4 failed IUIs, 2 surgeries, 7 doctors, 2 adoption agencies, 1 attorney, nearly $50,000, and countless tears. But we did it. We made it through. We are parents. I never thought this day would get here, and I still can't believe it happened. I haven't had time to process it, and I'm not sure that I ever will. It seems so fitting that our first full day of parenthood is Independence Day. We are finally "free" from the burden of the last 1,500 days. And nothing has ever felt so good.

Monday, July 2, 2012

surprise!

We spent the weekend getting the house ready for our little girl's arrival. When everything was finally done on Sunday, I joked that we were finally ready for her. I shouldn't have done that. Because around 9:30 yesterday morning, I received a phone call from T that she was in labor - almost 5 weeks early. About an hour later, our daughter arrived in this world.

I promise I will write a full update as soon as possible. Please keep us in your thoughts as we wait for the paperwork to be signed (most likely today) and as we wait for further information from doctors about our baby's health. As of now, it looks as if she will need at least one week in the NICU. I'm already a wreck.

A couple of things before I go. First, for our daughter's privacy, we will not be posting her full name on this blog. Please, if you know her real name, do not post it in the comment section.

Second, I understand there was some issue about my personal Twitter account yesterday. In my own words, I'd like to state that this account is not used for any updates regarding our journey with adoption and infertility. It was set up long before my blog account became active and is maintained as a way of keeping in touch with family and close friends. It was not intended to post information about this process (I have not even posted our daughter's name, stats, and photos on this account). This said, I find it pathetic that people would attack me behind my back on the day I'm welcoming my daughter into this world. I'm dealing with a child who is fighting her way through several health battles in the NICU and busy worrying about whether or not T is going to sign the papers. And yet I have to take time out of my day to address childish bullies. It feels like I'm in middle school.

For those of you who spoke ill of me, I know who you are. Please think again before you speak. You should be ashamed of yourselves. For those of you who supported me? Thank you for being such amazing friends.