Tuesday, January 28, 2014

First week at home for Rose

We have been home for a little over a week now and things are starting to settle down into a nice flow.  I thought I would share some pictures of what things have been like with Rose in our family.  Clara is such a good big sister.  She is so concerned for Rose and loves to get up close to her and say "hi baby Rose!" and try to get her to smile.  She gives Rose the most tender kisses each night before bedtime and Clara always wants to know where Rose is if she is taking a nap.

Rose really enjoys this play mat, especially when I turn on the music and the spinning mobile.  She will lay here happily just watching and taking it all in.  She likes it better than the swing, although in the mornings Rose will sway contentedly in the swing while Clara and I eat breakfast together.  Usually she takes a little snooze in there after her own breakfast.

Clara has been pulling her dog (now named Cracker) around on a jump rope leash that I rigged up from her.  She ran over to stand by Rose and told me "Mommy, take our picture!". 

Clara is obsessed with wearing pretty dresses so when we got home from church on Sunday (Paul and Rose stayed home) Clara felt like Rose was missing out and told me that Rose needed a pretty church dress too.  So we dressed Rose up in a pretty blue dress with polka dots and a pink flower with a matching velveteen headband and Clara held Rose on her lap.



These girls are going to be best friends.

I adore how Rose looks at me with big, inquisitive eyes.  She is such a beauty and during the time when she is awake (because she honestly sleeps a ton right now) she is so alert and interested in what is going on.  She loves to be talked to and likes to hang on to fingers or have her hair stroked.

So far Rose does well with tummy time too.  She is not even two weeks old yet but her head control and neck strength are surprising.

Since we have been hanging out around the house a lot, not wanting to expose Rose to too many people, we've been doing a lot of crafting.  Clara LOVES cutting and asks me to practice it almost daily.  Basically she just snips and snips and snips until she has created piles of confetti.

On Sunday, Paul even painted Clara's nails for her, which she thought was pretty fun since this is normally mommy's job.  Her aunt Jessica gave her nail polish for Christmas and Clara was adamant that her nails be painted purple.  She wanted Rose's nails to be painted too but that didn't happen.  It was fun watching the interaction between Paul and Clara and hearing Paul exclaim how painting her tiny nails was a lot harder than it looked.

Rose did her first arts and crafts project.  She didn't love having me paint her hands and feet but the finished project turned out so darling and is my new favorite Valentine's Day décor.

Rose is such a little snuggle-bug.  I love how she likes to curl right up under my chin and tuck her bum into my hand, then fall fast asleep.  Oh, and yes, I totally dressed us both in stripes on purpose.  Nobody is surprised, right?

Last Thursday I put Clara in the stroller and Rose in the Ergo carrier and we walked to the park for some fresh air.  Rose fell asleep immediately and didn't wake up until we got back home.

Clara had me push her on the swings for probably half an hour or more before I convinced her my arm was falling off and it was time to go on the slides.

I picked up a sun catcher craft kit for a dollar.  It was super cheap entertainment for Clara and she actually did a really good job with it even though it said it was for 8+ on it.  I helped her with the dark pink color and talked about staying inside the lines but after that she did the light pink and white (and most of the dark pink) entirely on her own.

We have been reading lots of books.  Clara doesn't seem to mind sharing my lap with Rose so far.

I have been trying to do yoga with Clara but so far she isn't catching on.  Mostly she thinks it is an opportunity to treat mommy as her own personal jungle gym.  She does love this pose, though.  I saw it somewhere online calling it the "queen's chair" pose.  I even tell her she has to put her palms together beneath her chin and say "Namaste" (she won't say it).  I found some YouTube videos for toddler yoga though and am planning to keep trying those with her.

Rose is getting her days and nights straightened out pretty well and has been sleeping for 3-4 hours stretches at night, which is totally doable, although she gets pretty fussy from about 6-9 and has a hard time settling in.  Mostly though she is a really mellow little gal and we can't believe how lucky we are to have her in our family. 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Clara's Big Adventure

As promised, here is the email with pictures that my friend, Carrie, sent me of Clara's adventure while Paul and I were at the hospital for Rose's birth:
Hey, so I kept trying to text you photos of Clara while she was with us but for some reason they would never go through!  So I thought I'd just compile the whole collection for you here.

Dinner time.  The kids all had macaroni & cheese and veggies.  Charlie was not here and I had four little kids to feed so I went with something easy.  Clara loved the macaroni and asked for seconds and thirds.  You probably feed her nicer dinners at home so maybe dinner from a box was a novelty?  Ha!

Clara & Luke played with the Cars.  We have a whole box full of Cars from the movie (we have another whole box of regular matchbox cars).  We have pretty much every character so I thought it was really funny how Clara gathered this little collection for herself.  She obviously has some favorites.
Before bed Luke & Clara prepared us all a little bedtime snack.

My boys brush their teeth in the dark because they got flashing light saber toothbrushes in their Christmas stockings.  We also turn on the Chomper Chums app every time.  When the music started playing Clara's face lit up and she brushed for the whole two minutes.  (Check out the app, it is free and my boys have been LOVING it for months.)

*Amy here - Carrie is right, this app is pretty great and Clara has been loving it.  It shows a character (Clara's is a crocodile) with its mouth wide open and tells the kids to brush the germs away on one section for 30 seconds before switching to the next section and has a little horn and announcer telling them when to switch.  Clara thinks it is the coolest.

This morning I discovered that I have no idea how to do little girls' hair.  Honestly I can barely do my own hair.  We took Isaac to school, then came back and ate breakfast round two (Isaac will only eat cold cereal for breakfast and both littles said they wanted it too, but neither of them ate it so I made them pancakes).  Then I had to drop Luke off for an OT appointment and I took Clara with me to Trader Joe's.  She was so cute with the little cart and so obedient!  My boys are wild maniacs when they get carts.  She found a Cliff iced oatmeal granola bar and acted like she knew what it was and wanted one so we got one for her & one for Luke.  Do you buy those?  I thought it was funny how excited she was about it.

* Amy again - our Trader Joe's doesn't have these little carts which bums me out.  And Clara has never seen a Cliff iced oatmeal granola bar before, the little rum beggar.  Thanks, Carrie, for humoring her whims. 

After we picked up Luke we went to get a car wash.  They watched a few cars go through and then they started running in circles around my legs playing chase.  I had someone ask me if they were twins.  Also during the course of the morning I had three different people tell me how cute Clara was and two others tell me that they loved her dress.  You're going to be in trouble when the boys start noticing her!

We went back to the house for a bit and watched Cat in the Hat until it was time to pick up Isaac at school.  Clara was so funny with Cracker.  When she first got here she was definitely a bit nervous and wanted me to hold her.  During dinner she kept looking under the table to see where he was.  Eventually she warmed up to him and pet him a lot.  She liked watching him eat always wanted to know where he was.

* Clara isn't a huge fan of dogs.  Well, actually, she loves them until they get close.  Same with cats.  But ever since we got home she has been pretending to have a dog and calling him Cracker.  We tied a jump rope around one of her stuffed dogs and she "walks" it and tells us it is Cracker.  I love that Carrie's family is obsessed with their Daschund.  He even dresses up to match the boys for Halloween and is in all their family photos.

We always play at the park for awhile after school.

Here they all are crammed into the car together.  We listed to "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas" approximately 1,000 times on repeat.  I turned on the kids Christmas CD last night when we were driving home because my boys were getting restless and fighting in the back.  The Hippopotamus song is their favorite.  When we were at Trader Joe's Clara was singing parts of it and told me that she liked that song and then she asked for it over and over again while we were driving around.  We also got to hear her rendition of "Let it GOOOOO!"  So funny!

And that's what you missed while Clara was away.  We sure enjoyed having her!  She is darling.


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Introducing Rose

I posted this on Facebook and Instagram and texted and called lots of friends and family so most people already know this, but obviously I have a lot of blogging to catch up on and stories to tell.  Julia Rose Nash (she will go by Rose - we know it is unconventional but that is just how we roll around here) was born on January 17th, 2014 at 2:06 a.m. at the Pomona Valley Hospital in Southern California.  She weighed 8 lbs. 6 oz. (80th percentile) and was 20 3/4 inches long (90th percentile).  Both Paul and I were able to be there for her birth.  And she is beautiful.  Her lips pucker in the most beautiful bow and she has soft little cheeks that beg to be kissed.  And gorgeous dark hair, just like Clara had when she was born, although Rose doesn't have quite as much of it and it is a little shorter except for in the back where it is just as long as Clara's was when she was born.
Back in October we drove down to Disneyland with Paul's parents when our annual Yosemite trip was cancelled thanks to the government shutdown.  On our first day, Friday the 11th, as we were walking down Katella on our way to line up at the gates for admittance to the park I pulled out my phone to check my email, etc. since I knew I wasn't likely to check it for the rest of the day.  To our surprise, there was an email from an expectant mom letting us know that she had seen our profile and would like to get to know us better.  For her privacy, we are just going to refer to her as "T" for now.  T told us up front that she was emailing other couples but that she was due January 11th (3 months to the day from her first email) with a baby girl who was 1/4 Hispanic, 1/4 Caucasian, and 1/2 Iranian. 
We started emailing.  Right around this time, we started getting a number of emails from other expectant parents who had seen our profile and wanted to open up a line of communication with us.  It was totally weird and nothing we had ever experienced before.  We actually took a few hours out of one of our days at Disneyland to meet with a couple from southern California who were trying to find a family for their baby girl due in December.  We were approached by an expectant mom carrying identical twin boys due next March.  We even had an intense two week period of daily emails with a young woman from Provo who "chose" us to adopt her baby due in October (around the time of the Disneyland trip) but who changed her mind just a couple days later. 
But as we were prayerfully approaching what to do about any of these possibilities (and feeling overwhelmed with gratitude that we were being considered at all by any of them) we felt like our relationship with T was growing and things were coming up with the other situations that just didn't feel right for our family.  We told the woman carrying the twins that we wouldn't be able to adopt her babies because of other commitments.  We wrote to the couple we had met during our trip to Disneyland and told them that while we appreciated them considering us that they should focus on one of the other couples they were still corresponding with.  It felt so weird and so scary to be telling anybody we were sorry that we wouldn't be able to adopt their baby after such a long time of wanting to expand our family and having disappointment after disappointment as four adoptions in a row didn't pan out after having been "chosen", but we felt really strongly that we were making the best decisions we could for our family.  It wasn't about finding "any" baby; it was about finding our baby.
T was praying too and being very thorough in her search for the right family for her baby.  She emailed us and other couples daily even though she had to go to a Wifi spot to do it, and her questions were very focused.  It was clear that she was doing everything in her power to do what she felt was best for her baby and we loved her for that, regardless of what she decided.  At the end of October though, she surprised us by telling us that she had chosen us to be the parents for her baby and that she wanted us both to be present for the birth. 
After that, November was spent strengthening our relationship as we started texting and Skyping and the agency went to work trying to serve the birth father with legal paperwork that would start the process of terminating his parental rights.  Nobody knew for sure how he would react and it took a number of tries for the agency to finally make contact with him, but ultimately he signed and said he was supportive of the adoption plan.  It was a huge relief for all of us. 
We continued our communication through December and started making plans for a January baby.  We were even a little worried going to Utah over Christmas break that the baby would come early while we were there.  But Rose ended up being born 6 days overdue.  T started having contractions on Wednesday afternoon that were strong enough that Paul left work early so we could get things ready in case we had to leave that night.  I felt like I would never fall asleep, but somehow I did.  The next morning I was at the grocery store at 9:30 a.m. with Clara, and Paul was working from home (since we knew T had a scheduled exam with her doctor that might give us insight into whether we should head down), when T called me to let me know that she was on her way to the hospital to be induced. 
I excitedly called Paul to let him know and we packed the car and were on the road to southern California less than an hour after T called us.  T texted us updates while I drove and Paul worked on his computer because he had projects that needed to be finished.  I called my childhood best friend and college roommate, Carrie, who lives in Orange County and made arrangements for her to watch Clara (I had asked her in advance and she was so nice to say yes, even though she has two boys of her own and is super busy and had just put her house on the market).  Carrie met us at the hospital in Pomona around 4:45 and Clara happily transferred cars and seemed like she was going to be just fine.
It was exciting and nerve-wracking going into the hospital to meet T in person for the first time, knowing that in just hours our little girl would be born.  We were really lucky to meet Kayli before Clara was born and spend time getting to know her in the days before Clara's birth because I went out in advance to make sure I was there.  We weren't sure what it would be like meeting T at the hospital.  But everything went great and our Skype sessions beforehand really made it feel very natural and like we already knew each other. 
T was doing an awesome job getting through the pain and eventually got an epidural, which helped things be much more comfortable for her.  When it came time to push I assisted another nurse by being right at T's side as she pushed through three counts of ten trying to get Rose to come down.  After over an hour of pushing, the doctor finally said that he was going to have to try using a vacuum-suction thingy to guide Rose out or they would have to do a C-section.  A team of probably 10 nurses and doctors swarmed the room and Paul and I shrank back into a corner just trying not to be in the way.  Thankfully, the vacuum worked and Rose was born at 2:06 a.m. 

Her head was a little cone-shaped and she had an abrasion on the back of her scalp from the vacuum.  And her blood pressure was high for a little while.  But otherwise she was healthy and kicking and doing good.

The next few days were spent in the hospital with T and Rose.  T was in quite a bit of pain because of some tearing when Rose was born, and obviously the time in the hospital was bittersweet since T knew that she would be placing Rose with us at the end of her stay.  We tried to make sure T knew that we loved her and wanted her to have all the time with us and Rose that she wanted. 

Here is our first picture as a family of four.  Paul has been joking about how he is outnumbered by us girls. 

I stayed at the hospital each night while Paul went to the house of my former bishop from the ward that I grew up in.  The Clark family is amazing and I love them so much.  They ended up watching Clara for us on Sunday morning when placement was happening.  Bishop Clark (I can't believe he was bishop there something like 20 years ago or so - he is still Bishop to me) served his mission with my dad in Austria and has a daughter my age who always invited me to slumber parties even though she was a grade ahead of me in school.  And Sister Clark was the person who taught me how to sew in 6th grade or something - I remember sitting at their kitchen table getting sewing lessons and making scrunchies and a skirt.  I recall going to their house on Christmas Eve (at least, that is how I remember it) as a kid for Christmas party open houses that were one of my favorite parts of the holiday season. 

Anyway, I know I am getting all nostalgic, but sitting in their kitchen eating pancakes for breakfast on Saturday morning just did my heart so much good because I was flooded with so many memories, which is unusual for me since I moved around so much as a child that I am not often back in a place that affects me in that way.  It was just SO nice being in Chino Hills where I did 4th - 9th grades, because that area will always feel like home to me since it is the longest stretch that I ever lived in any one place of my childhood. 

And Carrie was so great with Clara and kept her overnight since Rose was born so late/early.  The next day when I was missing Clara badly I opened my email on my phone and saw that Carrie had typed up a detailed email about everything they had been doing, complete with pictures.  I'm planning on posting Clara's adventure here soon because it just made me smile to see that she was so happy and doing so well when we had worried about the separation, even for such a short time.

Anyway, back to the hospital...


The nursing staff was pretty great.  The Young Women's president in T's ward was a nurse in Labor & Delivery and made sure T was really well taken care of.  T had friends who came to visit and some of them even brought beautiful gifts for Rose.  It was all just so beautiful. 

On Saturday Paul picked me up in the morning so that T could have some time with Rose on her own.  We went back to the Clarks' and Sister Clark gave me some great resources for if I want to do homeschool preschool for Clara (Sister Clark runs a preschool out of her home), and then Paul spent the afternoon with T while I took Clara back for a nap.  That evening we traded off again and T and I just talked and cooed over Rose.  Eventually I discovered Haagen-Dazs bars in the cafeteria for T and I, which was pretty much a perfect dessert. Paul and Clara enjoyed having daddy-daughter dates both evenings while I spent time at the hospital with T.  They went to Target to pick up diapers and formula and found a pet store where Clara obsessed over the fish and even pet a rat.

We put this headband on Rose because it was covered in rosebuds.  Kayli had made this for Clara before she was born and it was such a perfect hand-me-down for Rose.  I got busy taking photos to document our little stay, both for us and for T.  I can't wait to send T all of the pictures because I know that she loves scrapbooking and is already wanting to start working on her scrapbook.

On Sunday morning Clara went to Stake Conference with the Clarks while Paul and I went through placement at the hospital.  We met with T's caseworker and signed the documents acknowledging that Rose would be in our care and that we intended to adopt her.  In California, there is an initial Foster Care situation until birthparent rights are terminated (each state has different laws) and after that period the adoption can be finalized.  Usually it takes around 6 months.  T had some additional time alone with Rose and we know that this time was both precious and incredibly hard.  When it comes to talking about adoption and placement, we aren't even qualified to describe what that must be like for T and we know that describing it as "hard" is an understatement and doesn't begin to explain everything.  But we can say that T is an incredibly beautiful person who is full of faith and love and who is stronger than she knows. 

T had given Rose a beautiful blanket with her name and a rose embroidered on it.  It is so soft and creamy colored and it will be a special keepsake for her that I know she will treasure.  We had brought a basket for T with some little gifts in it.  It is agony trying to find just the right gifts to give in this situation.  Our hearts were breaking for T as she placed Rose in my arms.  I can't even describe the feeling.  It is gratitude and heartache and jubilation and sorrow and joy and pain and humility and pride all wrapped up in one and that doesn't even touch a fraction of what it truly feels like.  It feels like entire worlds colliding and re-orbiting; it is like continents shifting with the tremors of tears on the faces of everybody present; it is cataclysmic.  I know I wax poetic and I'm trying to avoid sounding cheesy or cliché but I just want to at least try to explain what it is like.

I hope T doesn't mind me posting this picture of all of us.  I sent it to her the day we got home and she replied that she loves how happy we all look in it and I completely agree.  Another birthmom I know put it well when she explained that adoption is the happiest kind of sad. 

We drove home Sunday afternoon and both girls did great.  Clara listened to "Let It Go" from "Frozen" on repeat fifty hundred times and Rose literally slept the entire time except for when we stopped to fill up with gas and get dinner, which was perfect because she was able to have a diaper change and take a bottle to get her through the rest of the journey.  It was sort of amazing.

We are settling in and feeling super grateful.  Poor Rose has had her nights and days totally mixed up so we aren't getting tons of sleep, but we pretty much expected that.  Clara is totally enamored and wants to know what Rose is doing constantly.  It is the first thing she asks each morning when she gets out of bed and our first night back Clara offered the prayer at dinner and asked for a blessing for Rose without any prompting.  The sweetness is unbelievable. 

Many more posts to come... :)