Thursday, January 31, 2013

Two and a Half

Well, the two and a half marker has come and gone.  I took kid measurements on almost the right day and am posting in the right month.  Maybe I get some sort of honorable mention mommy award?

Both kids are just over 39 inches tall and 42 pounds.  They wear mostly 5T clothes.  The sleeves are a little long in some shirts and the pants often need to be cuffed, but nothing smaller will fit their shoulders/ribs/hips.  It truly amazes me how close in size these two continue to be.  Oh, and they're potty trained!  Well, at least potty trained enough that our diapering budget has been GREATLY reduced.  And I'm becoming familiar with the location of every public restroom in every building we frequent. 

Two and a half year olds are pretty hilarious, when they're not encouraging your hair to turn white (let's not look too closely at the hair at my temples) or making you foam at the mouth.

These kids love to sing, including theme songs to their favorite tv shows.  We often sing a parody of a Cat in the Hat song at lunchtime:  "Trees, trees, glorious trees" becomes "cheese, cheese, glorious cheese". Cora gave it her own twist today and came waltzing out of the master closet singing "shoes, shoes, glorious shoes" - two pairs of high heels completed her ensemble. 

Mac's memory is incredible.  He's started giving me directions to stores when we're out driving.  Including stores he's only been to once before.  Conversation with him can be somewhat a nightmare, due to his memory and random associations.  He spent a good five minutes the other day detailing a whole list of things he wanted to see.  I eventually realized he was describing the posters in the story room at the library - we haven't been there in over a month.

He and Cora were pretending to be doctors the other day when Mac announced, "I'm Doctor B____!"  I racked my brain, furiously going over the list of all tv doctors I could think trying to decide where this name came from.  And then I realized that's the name of his actual pediatrician.  Whom he's seen twice since we moved here in June. 

We love the Brother Francis videos at our house.  Santa put "Let's Pray" and "The Eucharist" in the kids' stockings.  Not only do we now hear the Our Father sung day in and day out while the kids play, but they're reenacting scenes from the movies, especially the saint portrayals.  "Blessed Imelda wasn't big enough to receive Jesus.  I'm not either."  Holding up a sandwich a lunch, "This is the Lamb of God, the Eucharist".   They'll often use Cora's tea set as a set of chalices, patens, and ciborium and set up the microwave in their kitchen as a tabernacle.  It's not unusual to see one or both of them kneeling in front of their kitchen, "I'm praying like Blessed Imelda!"

Books come to life regularly.  I love listening to them read books to themselves.  Where the Wild Things Are and Going on a Bear Hunt are current favorites.  Oh, and Tikki Tikki Tembo (ever read that book?  Can you still recite the older brother's name?  Passing on a legacy here - first my siblings and I could say his name, now my kids can rattle it off - Tikki tikki tembo-no sa rembo-chari bari ruchi-pip peri pembo!)

And then there are the bikes.


Cora and Mac each received a balance bike for Christmas.  And they LOVE them.  As long as the bikes stay clean, they can even ride them inside.  These aren't just any ordinary bikes, though, they double as motorcycles.  Routinely, the kids will put on their "Army clothes" and back their "motorcycles" down the driveway. They'll ride madly to some other driveway and then stop and "exercise".  Then they come back to "take a shower" and then they get back on their "motorcycles" and ride to their "offices".  And then it's time for a lunch break and off they zoom to a "restaurant".  Any guesses who they're imitating?

Two and a half is exhausting, exhilarating, and hilarious.  Sometimes I feel like I need a coffee iv put in.  Other times I feel I need to just sit back and watch the circus perform.  And every day I thank God for the joy these two bring to my life.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

And a step backwards. Or sideways, perhaps.

So remember how I just posted all glowingly about clinic two and how easy it was to make a choice between the two clinics we interviewed?

We have to go with clinic one now.

For some reason, clinic two more than doubles their frozen embryo transfer (FET) fees if you are using donor embryos.  Not that I have extensive knowledge on the topic, but  no other clinic that I have talked to doubles their fees for donor FETs.  The best price they could give me was around $4500.

In comparison, clinic one's estimated fees came back at under $2000 with our military discount.  After the kerfluffle with clinic two, I'm in the process of verifying that clinic one's fee estimate is indeed accurate for us.  But still.  A $2500 difference?!?

In other news, tomorrow I have a phone interview with the matching coordinator of the Snowflake Program.  I hopefully will also get to ask more about that possible match and about the scholarship (both mentioned last post).  Perhaps I'll find out if we'll even be eligible for the scholarship...

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Forward motion!

On Friday, we successfully navigated one of the many hurdles on this route to embryo adoption.  Grandma came up to watch the kids while hubby and I went down to Austin to interview two clinics.  And we chose one!

Even with military discounts for the initial consults, we still had to shell out big bucks just to talk with the doctors.  We talked to the first clinic for maybe a half hour - full price, we would have had to pay over $400.  Can you believe it?  And all we did was talk, no exams or bloodwork or anything.

I think both clinics would have been competent in their handling of the embryos and of our future embryo transfer(s).  They have some differences in their methodology, but both cite extensive studies/years of success to back their practices.

Clinic one was eventually eliminated for a number of reasons.  1. The clinic itself gave off a very pretentious vibe.  2. They publically advertise their services to those seeking "alternative parenting options".  3.  The doctor was impersonal and somewhat cocky.  4. The doctor insinuated that she would not have allowed us to transfer all our embryos last time (Cora and Mac were two of three blastocysts) as she doesn't transfer more than two blasts, thereby forcing us into the position of having to refreeze an embryo.  The latter is something we're going to great lengths to avoid.

Clinic two is a smaller family run operation.  I originally cancelled our appointment here because their embryo transfer program would have just been too expensive for us.  They called me back and said they would meet or beat their competitor's prices.  And, while I don't have a complete price list yet, they have followed through on their word thus far.  The doctor was very personable and genuine and made sure to answer all our questions, regardless how far past closing time we kept him. 

In the end, the decision was very easy.  We were dissatisfied with clinic one when we walked out the door and felt no hesitations whatsoever when we walked out of clinic two. 

Choosing a clinic was our last step before entering the matching stage with the Snowflake Program.  Next, I'll have a phone interview with one of their social workers to determine our specific matching criteria.  I imagine we'll be "matchable" by the end of January and have been matched by the end of February.  Our contracts can't be formally executed until we submit our next big payment (please, tax refund, cover these costs!!) but we've historically been matched very quickly, so February isn't an unreasonable estimate.

I've mentioned before that the Snowflake Program lists what they call their "Waiting Embryos" online.  These are embryos that are a bit harder to place, due to genetic disease, small number of embryos, etc.  Families adopting embryos from this list are eligible to apply for the Babushka fund, with awards ranging from $2000 to $5000. 

I've often "fallen in love" or at least "fallen in interest" with sets of embryos on this page, only to have Bryan shake his head wryly at me.  Yesterday, I discovered a new listing, a set of embryos that we both are interested in.  Providential timing??  Based on the limited information posted publically, "Timothy and Cathleen" provide a promising match.  And, of course, there's the added incentive of a scholarship (if we qualify). 

This past week I was really struggling with a sense of hopelessness, that we'd never find the funds, that we'd hate both clinics, that things just wouldn't work out.  Thankfully, God took mercy on me and took the time to pat me on the back and say, "Chin up, kid." 

I still don't have the foggiest idea what our family will end up looking like, or where we'll get all the funding, but I feel like things are looking up!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Money, blah blah yuck

Money is the worst part of adoption.  I read somewhere, that if it weren't for the money issue, there would be lines of people trying to adopt.  And yet, in most cases, there are far more children/embryos waiting than available adoptive families.

I get that the economy has tanked in the four years since we last went through this process.  Side note, can you believe that it's been four years?!  We had just entered into the matching process with the Snowflake Program around Christmas 2008...   I am finding that fertility clinic costs have gone way up.  Thank goodness the Snowflake Program is the same price (actually $500 cheaper for us, as repeat customers) and our home study was much cheaper this time with our current local agency.

There doesn't seem to be too much consistency from clinic to clinic.  Pricing, number of required clinic visits, medical protocol, the list of variables goes on.

I finally called and scheduled initial consults at the two clinics in the Austin area that will take embryos from another clinic.  I haven't even walked through the doors to the clinics and already I'm being hit over the head with numbers.  Am I delusional in thinking our initial consult in 2009 was free?

Isn't an initial consult a time for you to meet with the doctors, they sell you their schpiel, and, in general try to buy your business?  Why am I already having to shell out money?  $265 at one place and, after a 50% military discount, $167.5 at the next place all for initial consults. 

I can't get straight answers from the clinics over the phone.  I can't accurately compare prices, number of required visits (remember we're coming from approximately 1.5 hours away), and medical protocol.  All this means I have to schedule these initial consults to determine between these two clinics.




I hate you,

you stink.

I promise, I will really try to not use this blog just for ranting.  Look, I'll even end on a bright side - I finished our matching family profile.  Wrote the whole thing on one weekend!  Granted, I did cheat a little.  I found our old profile from four years ago and salvaged what I could.  I sure sounded young and idealistic in 2008.  Not that I'm insinuating that I'm old and bitter now, just that I've grown a lot in the last few years...  I'm not as concerned that every single written phrase on our adoptive paperwork be precisely perfect, because I'm not precisely perfect.  This time 'round, I'd rather our paperwork be an accurate reflection of me/us, not an uber polished version where the gleam conceals my humanity.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Christmas Greetings

Better late than never, right? Merry Christmas, from our house to yours! And, since I'm extremely tardy in my holiday greetings... Happy New Year! I think I have only successfully dated a single item since we started 2013. Good thing I've got another 350+ days to practice. Oh, and happy Feast of the Epiphany! In the words of the kids, the kings are here!

I'll leave you with my favorite picture. Raspberries!