Saturday, December 31, 2011

Bye Bye, 2011.

Good riddance! I'd say it was nice knowing ya, but really, it wasn't all that grand.

Okay, so my baby girl did turn one this year, we got to Skype with her, and I did cut off 99.8% of communication with her birthdad, so those are two things to celebrate.

The rest of it, though...the quitting of my job due to the stress, the gaining weight (also due to stress), my mom being sick and needing surgery, as well as a handful of other smaller things...can kiss my butt. I'll be happy to never look back on those things!

Friday, December 30, 2011

I want to make 2012 my year. I never make new years resolutions, because if you want to vow to do or change something about yourself, you can and should do that any day of the year. Maybe it's coincidental that all of my recent revelations have come about at the end of the year, I don't know. But I've realized a few things over the past few days, and it overwhelms me to even think about some of these things, but if I run from what's right in front of me, I'll never get anywhere. I've been sick with some gross bug since Tuesday night, so I've had all the time in the world to lie in my bed and sleep. Sleep off and on, that is. When sleep is "off," my mind is on, and that's when the wheels start turning. There was nothing to distract me from my thoughts for the past few days, however.

Realization #1: I am, and have been, in total control of any weight loss that I want to tackle. I found myself googling whether or not the HcG diet works (evidently, it doesn't), and calculating the cost of diet programs in the area. Then, I realized something - it's not as if I eat healthy, exercise, drink plenty of water and still can't lose weight. I've yet to even dedicate myself to trying those things. I don't need to join a dieting program or anything like that, what I need to do starts from home and is free. In fact, it will end up costing me less than I already spend on food and drinks now. My issue is this: soda. The calories in liquid pile on a million times faster than the calories in food because you don't even realize how much you are consuming. I don't even eat a lot throughout the day, and when I do, I have generally small meals. I do, however, drink at least a half of a 2-liter of mountain dew every day. HELLO!? If I could gain the self-control I needed to stop that, I probably wouldn't even need to change any eating habits, and I could simply incorporate 20 minutes to a half hour of walking into my day every day and I would see results. No personal trainer necessary. This is a no-brainer. But this leads me to another realization of mine: I am definitely an emotional eater. Yes, I've become one of the girls who sit at the 'girls who eat their feelings' table in Mean Girls - the table no girl ever wants to have to sit at. Actually, I've sat at a lot of hypothetical tables that I never thought I would be found sitting at in the past couple of years. Anyway, I used to be the exact opposite of what I am now, when it comes to my emotions and eating. For the first 22 years of my life, when I got upset, I refused to eat. Maybe even for days. My first memory of this happening was in the third grade, when I came home from school to find out that one of my rabbits had died. After I cried for an hour or two, my mom made spaghetti for dinner and put a plate in front of me. The smell of the food (which was my favorite dinner) made me feel nauseous and the thought of eating it, when my rabbit was dead and could never eat again overwhelmed me with guilt (oh, the logistics of a nine-year-old). I can also remember, over the years, when I'd have an argument with my mother, I wouldn't want to come out of my room and eat. This intensified a thousand-fold during my relationship with G. Whenever I had that gut feeling that he was lying to me about something or he was keeping something from me, the thought of food repulsed me. Whenever we would fight, I would come home, go right to bed, and even if I hadn't eaten at all that entire day, my stomach wouldn't even feel hungry. It was like I zoned in on feeling upset and could concentrate on nothing but that until that sick feeling I had in the pit of my stomach passed. I did this every. single. time. we had an argument. Which, for a year and a half, we had none. After that, we had a few. Maybe once every couple of months. Then once every couple of weeks. Then once a week, then a few times a week. It wasn't healthy (not only for my body but my mind), but what I do now isn't either. Ever since the adoption, I've put on more weight than I ever have in my life. I weigh more now than I did when I was pregnant, and mind you - I lost nearly 40lbs between having my daughter and then having my gallbladder surgery. So I've gained that back, and then some. I've created the most vicious of cycles - I feel sad (for obvious reasons), I feel lonely (for even more obvious reasons) and I'm bored, so I eat. It makes me feel better for the five minutes that I have a bowl of ice cream in front of me. Then, I look in the mirror or just plain feel uncomfortable in my own skin, and get upset with myself all over again for eating. So, to cure that feeling of sadness that I just created for myself all over again, I eat again. I'm not even hungry! I do this to myself. I know it, because when I'm at work, or out with friends, or just plain busy in any way, I don't even think about food. I honestly don't.
I don't know where I'll go from here, but at least I've recognized and admitted what I'm doing wrong and what I need to do to fix it. I know I would drop the weight like magic if I stopped drinking so much soda and iced tea. I have to somehow commit to drinking only water for a long time. I don't even dislike water; but why would I choose water when I could have something that makes me feel 'happy?' I put the word happy in quotes because I know it's purely psychological. I tell myself that food makes me happy so I can fill a void, but in reality, it doesn't do anything but make me feel worse and the void is still there afterwards. Food will not replace my child, no matter how hard I try to make it happen. My child will still be with her family, and the only change will be in the size of my jeans.

Realization #2: I was begging, begging, BEGGING for a dog for Christmas. Not even necessarily a puppy, even a one or two year old dog from a rescue shelter would be nice. Actually, that would have been even better. I've heard it said that those dogs appreciate you more and you can just tell that they adore you, even more than a puppy you've raised, because they sense that you have 'saved' them. I believe it. Anyway, for the longest time, I've wanted a blue-nose American Staffordshire Terrier. Maybe my fascination with them occurred after watching Pit Boss for months on end, I don't know, but nevertheless, I was dying for one. Working in a veterinary hospital, I know the work required to care for a dog. I know the time, dedication, and love it takes to care for a dog, and while I know it's not the same, I've realized that it's similar to the dedication, time, and commitment it takes to raise a child properly. Again, I know it's different. We're talking about the quality of life of a canine versus the quality of life, finances, education and family for a human being. But what it comes down to is this: I realized that I wanted something to take care of. I wanted something that would depend on me, and only me, to feed it, walk it, and spend time with it. I needed something to project all of these pent up motherly instincts I've held inside me for the past year and two months, since my little girl was born. I can't fill that void with a dog. In fact, it would only make it worse, I'm sure. I would probably treat my dog like royalty because of this strong need I seem to have to bond with something that will love me back and need me, but at the end of the day, a cute little four-legged creature who relies on me is not the same as my beautiful, two-legged daughter who does not rely on me, and thus will not make me feel any happier. I still want a dog, don't get me wrong. But I want to wait until it's the right time. I want to get a dog purely because I want the dog, not because there's some underlying need to nurture anything that needs nurturing just because I have an overload of it in my system right now.

Realization #3: This one is sort of the bow on the box that I've wrapped those last two realizations up in. This wasn't some shocking idea that came into my head or anything like that, rather it was something I've known all along. My daughter deserves the world, she deserves the best of the best, and I wouldn't stand for her having any less. The reason I am writing this one down is because, while I obviously knew that, or I wouldn't have placed, I seem to forget it during my moments of selfishness and jealousy and regret. I don't regret the adoption. Not even for one second. But saying that doesn't mean I've picked up the pieces of my life and moved on and I am happy as can be. One big thing that 'outsiders' (people who have never placed, or people who are not involved in the adoption world in any way) don't seem to realize is that being a birth mom is like riding on the world's biggest, fastest, scariest roller coaster ride that exists. Think of the scariest ride at Six Flags, and magnify it 99 times. That's the ride I'm on right now. It's contradictory in every way possible.
Yes, I go out with my friends and I laugh and I have a genuinely good time, but that doesn't mean I'm "over it." Inside, do I feel guilty that I am not at home, caring for my child, changing her diaper and feeding her? Yes. But that doesn't mean I "regret it." This is impossible to explain. I feel like all I do is confuse people. Sometimes I think that if I could see peoples thoughts across a board the way you see the airplane takeoff and landing times at an airport, I would see 'why is she so moody and upset today, she was fine and laughing all night last night,' or 'why has she been so's been a can't still be her baby making her feel sad, can it?,' or 'wow, she's happy for someone who doesn't raise her child.'
I've worn many masks over the past year, and that's not to say I'm proud of it. I don't know what else to do. I can't talk directly about the adoption without breaking down into tears. If someone asks, I can somehow turn my emotions off like a robot and answer with a few words, but that's it. As soon as I open my mouth to say anything else, it's as if the floodgates open and I have to use all the strength I've got to keep the tears behind my eyeballs rather than pouring out from under them. Then there are times where I'm beaming with pride over her and want to acknowledge her and talk about her and show my friends photos of her.
When I'm alone, I force myself to process these thoughts and feelings, but I can't. I can't even cry. Like I said, I don't regret the adoption. But lately I have felt so downright angry about it that I've become immune to it. I'm not angry at her parents, not angry at my parents, not angry at myself or even G - just angry at the idea of the entire situation. Angry that I don't get to decide what my daughter wears for the day, or where she goes or who she spends time with. Angry that I don't get to take pictures of her whenever I want and send them to my friends who don't live locally. That's why I need to remind myself of the fact that she is happy, loved, well-taken care of, and has everything I wanted her to have and then some. When I feel angry, the happiness can't help but crack through the surface when I think of how happy she is. How can I be constantly sad or constantly bitter and angry when there's a little life, a little part of me living and breathing out there and she is happy?

I know I confuse people with my emotions. But guess what! I confuse myself, too. I've been confused since I found out I was pregnant, and it's only gotten worse since then. So please, bear with me. This robot version of me, who finds happiness in next to nothing other than thinking about my child, is not really who I am. I will find happiness in the things I used to again, it will just take time. Right now, I can barely see a shadow cast from the light at the end of this tunnel, let alone the light itself, but I trust that it's there. Everyone grieves differently and at their own pace, and I am only just beginning my journey. Grief and I will develop a very familial relationship before I'm done with it, I think.

Monday, December 26, 2011

A Time and a Place

So, the holidays are almost over, and I've made it through the toughest part. The holiday spirit is still in the air and usually is until New Years Eve, which is nice. I had hoped to make 2011 my "fresh start," after ridding myself of G (for the most part) and trying to start over for myself and my daughter, but it didn't work out quite as I had expected. I've never been one to make corny new years resolutions (or any at all, for that matter), but what better time than now to try and start over? I want to lose weight (at least back to the weight I was at last Christmas, and even then some), further my education and find a steady job that will pay the bills. I realize that I have to put in 99% of the work myself to get these things to happen, and finally, I've had the wake-up call that I need to actually put these things into action.

Christmas was tense yesterday. There were tears in my eyes when I woke up and they were hiding right under the surface for the rest of the day. I tried to simply think of it as another day, not as one of the happiest days of the year. My parents told me this is what it means to 'be an adult. it starts to feel less and less like Christmas each year that you get older,' but I know it was so much more than that. Knowing that she is now old enough to open her own gifts, with help, and play with them and be excited on Christmas morning, while also knowing that I'm missing all of that, was really hard. Next year, she'll be 2 - even harder. I tried to comfort myself by telling myself that her parents must be so, so, so excited on Christmas, watching their two children playing with their gifts and smiling for pictures by the tree, but it really didn't help. Call me selfish, but it actually just made me jealous, which made me feel worse. I even let a pretty nasty thought cross my mind...I was checking, hoping, and checking some more for an email throughout the day, with even just one picture of my little girl or a note about how much she liked my gifts to her. Every time I checked...nothing. So I started to think about how they must be busy, they must be doing family Christmas things and watching their children open gifts. That's when I thought - my sacrifice is the reason they are so busy. My child is the one they are watching play with her gifts, can't they at least send me a quick text? Email? Anything? This holiday is all about family, and the most important part of my family is missing because she is now their family.

Then I snapped out of it and realized how childish and selfish I was being. It's one day out of the year! They deserve the happiness they shared with our daughter (mine & theirs) on Christmas because they are raising her and loving her and being the mom and dad that G and I couldn't be. They are there with her through the not-so-pleasant times (expenses, times she's up all night, or sick, etc.), so they deserve every second they get to spend with her, especially the ones when she is awake, laughing, and talking to them. It was that thought, though, that made me cry. It was my crying that led my mother tell me that "there is a time and a place, and this is not the time nor the place." REALLY? There is a time and a place to miss your child? There is a time and a place to cry over the fact your entire family is together, minus part of your own flesh and blood? Huh.

Don't get me wrong - I love my mom and she did her best to make this Christmas special for me. She made me laugh when I was about to cry, and put a lot of thought into my gifts and I will always appreciate that. But, really? A time and a place. I know how much she loves kids. I know she wishes more than anything that her granddaughter were here to celebrate with us and make a mess of all the wrapping paper. But she's not, and my mother played a bigger part in that decision than I've ever discussed on here (maybe I will someday). And no matter how you slice it, it's not the same. Parting with a grandchild is not the same as parting with a child. Not, not, not. So I get unreasonably angry when she tries to liken her loss to mine. I know she's sad, I know it hurts, I know it just flat-out sucks. But don't compare it, because it's not the same.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

My four-legged Christmas Cards :)

The outfits . . .

I did this today, just for fun (oh, the benefits of finals being over and not having a full-time job!). Hahaha. I'm pretty happy with the way they came out, especially since I just used my Sony point-and-shoot and only lightly edited a few of them. I have a Canon eos 5d - which I'm ashamed to admit, is collecting dust as we speak - that I may take out tomorrow or the next day and try to get some sharper images. I've learned one thing, though - I could never be a pet photographer. There were some choice words strewn about my room this afternoon when this or that little thing would mange to ruin 78% of my pictures. Hahaha.

I can't help but wish that I was able to take photos of my little girl in her Christmas outfit, or even take her to Sears or Toys 'R Us and have them take professional pictures of her for me. Everyone (and I mean everyone)'s Facebook pictures consist of professional pictures of their kids sitting beside the Christmas tree or sitting in a pile of fake glittery snow. I'm trying not to let these things turn me into a holiday Grinch, but it's a fight I seem to be losing.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

In a Rut

I know I have been MIA lately. I've been crazy between studying for finals and my job search, and I haven't really had much to write about. I wouldn't call it a 'writer's block,' though...more like 'writer's repetition.' I sound like a broken record in my head sometimes, I really do. I have a feeling I'll be in this rut til after the holidays. This month has been really hard so far, and I think it may get worse before it gets better. So, on a happier note, Arianna's and her adoptive brother's gifts are wrapped, packed, and ready to be brought to the post office first thing Monday morning along with my card for her and her parents!

(I know, the quality is awful, I took this with my phone)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Piece of Me

My gifts are all wrapped and ready to go for Miss Arianna. Why it makes me so sad to mail them off, I'll never know. There are obvious reasons, like the fact that I'd like to see her open them with my own eyes, smile at them with my own eyes, and play with them with my own eyes. But I think it has to be more than that; because I've come to accept that as well as I can. I guess it just makes me feel like I'm sending another teeny part of myself to her in the form of her gifts, what I chose for her. That's hard, because I've already sent the biggest part of me to her that I possibly could. Figuratively speaking, my heart was born when she was, and it left my body inside of her and will be with her forever. That's not to say I'll never love anyone else ever again, or love any of my future children (if any) any less, but... I guess I lost track of where I was going with that!

I just re-read that and it sounds so foolish. They're children's toys, how on earth does that represent any part of me? Ah well, I've just been so confused lately. It's why I haven't written much. I don't like to sound negative or whine constantly, so when that's what I think I'll wind up doing, I tend to not write at all (at least not publicly).

In other news, I "got the job," but she said she needed me to start Monday (as in tomorrow, as in four days from the day that she interviewed me). I said that I would love to - but I have my final week of classes this week and finals on top of that. I told her I could *try* to inform my teachers and take my exams during the evening rather than the morning, but I couldn't really make any promises. She told me to email her and let her know, and if it all worked out, Monday would be great. I was never told "you've got the job," but in asking me to rearrange my final exam schedule, I was pretty sure it was a shoe-in. I emailed her Friday afternoon and told her that, lo and behold, since two of my finals are research papers (which can be emailed), my other two teachers were okay with me rescheduling my exams, since I came to them prior to the test rather than after missing it. She never wrote back, so now I have no idea if I am supposed to show up Monday morning or wait for her to call. I think I'll get up super early tomorrow and leave her a voicemail so she gets it as soon as she comes in, and that way, if she wants me to come in, I'll be a little late. If not, then, back to the search!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Looking Up

I've been trying to focus all of my attention on the wonderful things about Christmas, and so far it's going pretty well. I'm putting a lot (maybe too much) thought into what I want to write in Arianna's Christmas card, her brother S's card, and her parents card, but it makes my heart smile to know that I even get the privilege of sending anything to her family at all. I went shopping with a friend last night and bought wrapping paper for their gifts, and tried to find a card, but none were all too fitting. If you had told me last year that this year I'd be shopping for gifts and wrapping paper for my daughter with a friend I would have thought you were out of your mind. This aspect (gift buying) of Christmas last year was awful. I'm 99% sure I was in tears in Target trying to pick out an outfit for her. I like to be alone when doing things like that - I guess I'm weird in that way. I don't even like my mom watching over my shoulder as I order her something online or something. I suppose it's because it's the one way I'm closest to my daughter, and I selfishly want to revel in it all by myself, or something. Anyways, it worked out well, because she helped me choose among the 53 different papers I had to choose from. :)

(If you couldn't tell, I love wrapping gifts. I'm that person at the Christmas party who coordinated the color of the wrapping paper with the gift, bow, and 'to and from' tag...)

Other aspects of my life have been looking up lately, also. I've been sleeping a thousand times better with the Ambien, and I hope to not have to take it for too much longer, but for now, it's doing the trick. I'm going to continue to take it at least through the end of the semester (which, by the way, I cannot wait for).

I got a call this morning to schedule an interview with a company I sent my resume to on Monday! It's not necessarily in line with my major and/or something I want to make a career of, necessarily, but it's a nice job with good pay in an office setting, which is more than I could ask for nowadays. If this falls through, I think I'm just going to apply for seasonal work in retail (the thought of which makes me cringe, because I've been there before and the holidays in retail are NOT pretty, but I can't be picky). I've also set up an interview for a few days before Christmas with an advisor at the Harvard Extension School (or, Harvard night school). It has much, much lower standards than Harvard University and a much lower price tag, but the programs that they have are perfect for what I want to do and the classes - while being double the cost of the ones where I go to school now - are still affordable with a small loan. I have two or three classes I have to wrap up at school in the Spring semester, so I won't be attending whatever school it is that I transfer to until the Fall of 2012. But I'm still on track to have my Bachelor's by the time miss Arianna turns four, which is a little promise I made to her and to myself.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

New Tradition

Our tree is officially up and decorated to it's full potential! I can't stress enough how much I love the holidays. Now that Arianna is one, I think this Christmas might be harder than last (although I do hope not), and I think I've already shared my thoughts on this before. It's just, last Christmas, she was a teeny tiny baby, sleeping all the time. Now she'll be walking, laughing, talking, opening her own gifts. The holidays are still beautiful to me, but just the thought of not being able to see her face light up as she looks into the colored lights on the tree and points to them and smiles makes my heart break in two.

Last year, one of my gifts was a glass baby rattle, that read 'Baby's First Christmas 2010.' I put it on the tree on Christmas day, and then when we took the tree down, I put it in her keepsake box with all of her things from the hospital. This year, I took it out and hung it on the tree again. I think I'll start a new tradition this year. I'll hang it up on my tree every year, in honor of her. I thought about maybe getting an ornament every year for her but hanging it on my own tree as a way to celebrate *with* her, but I think I like this idea better.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Go away, survey

I got an email from Babies 'R' Us, asking me to participate in a survey based on my recent experience of buying online and picking up in the store. I was fine with it, and I decided to do it because I did have a good experience and I am very happy with the tea set and VERY excited to send it to little miss A. Going in the store to pick up the toy was hard, because it wasn't a Toys 'R' Us, but a Babies 'R' Us, so I had to walk by the baby registry with the expectant couples filling out their lists, etc. I just turned my tunnel vision on, bee lined it to the customer service booth, got what I wanted and left. Anyways, I was going about my way, filling out the survey and all was going well. That is, until the end, when it said "What kind of toy did you purchase?" Fisher-Price. Next question: "What are the age groups of children living in your home with you?" And you had to choose from "0-2," "3-5," "6-10," "11-17," or "there are no children under 18 living in my home." I wanted to choose the last one, because in all fairness, that's true...but I didn't, I clicked "0-2" and moved on. It's such a silly thing to put a kink in my mood, but it did. I don't expect everything in life, for the rest of my life, to be so broad-spectrum as to include answers that would suit a birth mom or a parent who isn't with his or her child for whatever reason. I can't imagine being a mom on earth to a baby in heaven and buying a gift for a niece or nephew and having to read that.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

24 days 'til the most magical day of the year!

Time for a picture post! I feel a little odd posting pictures of my daughter's gifts before she even gets to see them (hahaha) but I want to have this to look back on and remember what I got her and when. And I'm so excited that I have to share it with someone now, and while the next three weeks will fly by, I don't have the patience to hold it all in.

I tried to keep her Christmas gifts on a smaller scale than her birthday gifts, and I planned to get her three things like I did for her first Christmas last year. Well, that didn't go quite as planned, because I took my mom to a doctor's appointment this afternoon and while waiting, I went across the road to the shoppes and went into Barnes & Noble. But let me save the best for last...

This is what I gave her last year: two outfits and an ornament from the Disney store. I love Tinkerbell, so this ornament was special to me and her adoptive mom emailed me the same day they got the package and the ornament was on the tree. My heart nearly burst.

And, this is what I'm sending this year!:
This picture totally does an injustice to this jacket. It's an adorable shade of pink.

The tea pot sings when you open it, and the different shaped cakes are to help her learn her shapes!

I LOVE this hat. I wish they made one in adult-size.

Today, I got this for her adoptive big brother S:

And lastly, my favorite gift of all. I planned on getting the pea coat and white fluffy hat on Black Friday as well as the toy tea set for her. This was totally spur of the moment, and it's true that that's the way the best gifts come to you.

I'm so excited to record this book. Even if it goes in her room and isn't read to her right away, at least I'll know she has it. I think it's such an amazing book. The story inside is even better, because it doesn't give the child the impression that I'm just gone away on a trip or that I've passed away or anything dramatic like that. It just sends the message that the person who gave it to you misses you when they're far away from you, but that they aren't too sad because every day that they miss you is a day closer to seeing you again.

Do you think I should ask her birth dad if he wants to record it with me? I'm sure he would, if I asked. His "immaturity" aside, it might be nice for her to get to hear both of our voices. But then again, I'm not sure if that's more trouble than it's worth.

So, those are her gifts in a nutshell. She'll be 13 months tomorrow. Unreal. I know she'll only be just shy of 14 months on Christmas, but I hope she adores these gifts. Hopefully this year, she can do some more unwrapping on her own, unassisted. Last year, she could barely hold her head up on her own at Christmas, so this year will be so wonderful for her and her family (and me when I get my update)!