New Baby FAQ #3

Genevieve

Inevitably, having a new baby comes with answering the same questions over and over again.

I put together a new baby FAQ after Tommy was born and then a new baby FAQ #2 after Olivia was born, revisiting some of the same questions and answering some new questions. I’m revisiting some of these questions yet again as well as answering some questions that are specific to this adoption and having a third child. This is the longest FAQ yet, as I’m finally sharing some details about the travels involved with Olivia’s and Genevieve’s adoptions.

It should be noted that I’m not discussing Genevieve’s NICU stay. I’ve gotten a lot of questions about it. She was born six weeks early and spent two and a half weeks in the NICU. We aren’t sharing any more details about it with most people. Thanks for understanding.

How did it work matching with the same birth mom? Were you in touch this whole time?

Genevieve is Olivia’s biological half-sister. People are almost always surprised that the girls’ birth mom and I have been in touch monthly, if not weekly, since we matched for Olivia a year and a half ago. It makes me really sad that this information is shocking to so many people, especially since we have a very open relationship with Tommy’s birth family.

While it’s never a given, it’s not uncommon for a birth mom to choose the same family for multiple children. Many birth moms place a priority on keeping siblings together whenever possible. Social workers will advocate for keeping siblings together as well, again, especially when there’s a positive relationship between the birth and adoptive families.

Why didn’t you talk about Genevieve in your Christmas letter?

Genevieve’s due date was in early January. If we’d had a slightly earlier due date, most likely I would have delayed sending our cards. But when we were leaving for Florida much earlier than planned, I already had everything ready to go. I wouldn’t have felt comfortable including a photo and information about her while she was in the NICU. And I didn’t want to put it all off until we were home with a newborn and end up printing 100+ new letters and ordering photos and whatnot. So, I sent the cards as is from Florida, figuring we’ll explain it all in our 2022 Christmas letter.

I know that it’s still hard for a lot of people to comprehend because there’s the whole “but don’t you want to tell everyone RIGHT AWAY?” element. Maybe I’d feel differently if she were my biological baby. But it feels disrespectful for an adoption.

Was this the craziest adoption?

No, it wasn’t. Every adoption comes with stress, drama, and unknown circumstances. If everything were going well, most likely the mom wouldn’t be making an adoption plan. That’s just how it goes. There were factors in both other adoptions that match the leaving for an 18-hour drive on 24 hours’ notice to meet a preemie newborn baby element of this adoption.

Additionally, I have talked before about how adopting kids has not been the most overwhelming thing in my life. Three and a half years later, that remains true.

Are you getting any sleep?

Four and a half years since becoming a mom, I still want to punch everyone who asks this question. First, you shouldn’t be sleeping through the night with a newborn, especially a preemie. Second, if you’re going to ask, the only correct response is, “oh, I’m so sorry, that sounds really tough.” Instead, I can’t tell you how many people laugh in response. Yes, laugh.

The short answer is no, I’m not. I haven’t gotten good sleep in two years. We started 2020 expanding our adoption search for baby #2 and receiving profiles every week, sometimes even every day. Then we all know what happened a few months after that. I haven’t shared any of the details of matching and waiting for Olivia. But it was a long wait that came with a lot of stress. Then Olivia was a terrible newborn sleeper. She still doesn’t sleep through the night. It’s been even worse with Genevieve.

Then people have the nerve to get kind of upset when I explain that. YOU ASKED. I don’t ever complain unprompted about my kids not sleeping. Yes, it’s really rough, but it comes with the territory.

How is feeding going with Genevieve?

Thankfully, feeding is going well with Genevieve all things considered. I still hate formula feeding. But Genevieve has been a great eater thus far. She’s hungry every few hours and usually eats pretty quickly.

How are Tommy and Olivia adjusting to Genevieve?

Tommy has done so well with Genevieve. He loves babies and has always been so sweet with Olivia. Tommy had a hard time waiting while Genevieve was in the NICU and was so excited to meet her. He gives her hugs and kisses, talks to her, and brings her toys all day long. Tommy loves getting to hold her and help feed her. He’s been a huge help bringing me things for her or getting her pacifier back to her while I’m busy with Olivia or things around the house.

The past couple of months have been tough for Tommy because it’s been a completely different routine. Since we’ve been home, he’s had a break from school and classes. We have seen some friends and family but not much given the cold weather, high numbers in our area, and wanting to protect Genevieve with her fragile immune system. He and I both thrive better when we have activities planned every week. I’m looking forward to getting him back to school and classes and getting out to places like the zoo this spring and summer.

Olivia still doesn’t quite know what to make of everything. She is definitely aware of Genevieve and often gets a smile on her face when she sees her. For the most part, Olivia hasn’t been jealous, even when Jake is or I’m holding or feeding her. I think it helps a lot that she’s the second child. She’s already so used to waiting while I help Tommy and tagging along for things like his swim lessons that aren’t all about her.

How are the cats adjusting to Genevieve?

The cats were completely unphased by Olivia and just glad we were home. It’s been exactly the same with Genevieve. They all have specific times of the day that they tend to seek out attention. And they spend all night every night on our bed.

What have been the biggest surprises this time around?

We were not expecting a preemie or extended NICU time. I learned and am still learning so much about preemies.

I was expecting this transition to be rougher than the last, given that Olivia just turned one year old. But nothing really could have prepared me for what the lack of sleep would feel like. It’s definitely kicking my butt.

I’m sure that this is going to sound funny. But I’m still shocked that I have not one but two girls. I was not at all surprised that Tommy was a boy. Once I had a boy, I figured I’d be a boy mom. There are a lot of elements of girl parenting that give me major stress. I pray about it often.

What has been the hardest transition with adding kids to your family?

0-1 was definitely the hardest, as it was our first and it happened so quickly. 2-3 has been harder than 1-2 with Genevieve’s lack of sleep at night and the very close again difference between the girls.

Why was your son born in Wisconsin and your two girls born in Florida?

I have purposely not shared a lot of details about the route we took to adopt Olivia. Long story short, after waiting a year and a half for baby #2 and having our adoption profile shown just once during that entire time, we decided to pursue a national routine. We ended up matching with a birth mom in Florida. She was still living in Florida when she got pregnant again and actually had Genevieve at the same hospital.

I’m happy to answer questions about the national route process via email or another private channel.

Did your kids travel with you to Florida?

Our kids did travel with us to Florida. Tommy came with us for Olivia’s adoption. We knew that we wanted both kids to come for Genevieve’s adoption. Generally, out-of-state adoptions involve being gone for a minimum of two to three weeks. It’s a very long time for such little kids to be away from their parents. Additionally, adoption is a huge part of all of our lives. Being so involved in the whole process of adopting his sisters has helped Tommy understand so much about it and talk about his own adoption story.

Did you drive or fly to Florida?

We drove to and from Florida both times. The drive is about 18 hours. It was really crazy. But I still stand by it as the right decision for our family. We enjoyed having our own vehicle and not having to deal with the hassle that’s involved with flying, such as checking multiple car seats, a stroller, etc. While we never would have planned this sort of road trip on our own, it was amazing to see so much of the country. We didn’t have a lot of time to sightsee, especially during the drive. But we saw so much just during the drive, stayed at some very cool Airbnbs, ate a lot of great food, and added several destinations to our list of places to travel back to someday.

Are you planning to call her Genevieve or will she go by a nickname?

We’ve talked about the nickname Gen. Sometimes Tommy calls her Gen or Genny. Otherwise, we’ve always called her Genevieve thus far.

Are you planning to adopt again?

I hate putting any sort of finality on our plans for growing our family, especially because it’s happened so differently than we’d ever imagined. But we’re planning to let our home study expire at the end of 2022. And we don’t have other plans for growing our family, such as returning to fertility treatments or getting licensed for foster care.

Does the whole timeline for having kids make sense now?

Honestly, no. People have told me so many times that everything is happening for a reason and that it will all make sense someday. Sure, I can’t imagine my life without these three specific kids and their birth families. But I don’t understand why we spent years and years waiting, feeling isolated as so many friends had kids before we did.

Your blog has had a lot of personal and kid-related posts lately. Will that continue for the foreseeable future?

Yes and no. I’ll be writing monthly update posts for both girls all of 2022. I’m hoping to get back to writing monthly family updates this year. And I’ve had some special personal posts lately, like this one and the one I wrote for Olivia’s birthday. But I have lots of non-kid content already scheduled all through 2022 as well. I never intended this blog to be solely personal or a mommy blog. I love having a general lifestyle blog and don’t plan to change that.

Are you taking time off from the blog?

Yes, but not right now. As we’re hunkering down at home this winter, I am doing some work, mostly creating new printables and writing a handful of posts. I’m sure that this sounds crazy, but the few months before Genevieve arrived, I was working way ahead, scheduling a ton of social media content and thinking about post ideas through the end of 2022. This process will allow me to take big chunks of time off when the weather is nicer and we’re seeing more people.

Finally, someone who will remain nameless asked me in complete seriousness about three days before Christmas what else I’d been up to lately. Then this person was a little judgmental about the fact that we didn’t do more holiday events, like light shows, this year.

I’m sure that this sounds like a complete overreaction. But this sort of question and the response I got are exactly why so many women feel like they’re constantly failing at trying to do it all. I brought a preemie newborn home via an out-of-state adoption eight days before Christmas. I put up a tree and decorations and wrapped presents, all while catching up on three weeks away from home and watching three kids under five. And apparently, that’s not seen as “enough” for some people.

Please be careful what you say to women, especially moms with new babies. No matter how many kids you have and how well things are going, new babies are incredibly time-consuming and leave you completely sleep-deprived. Simply surviving should always be good enough.

Head to the family section of the blog for more details about how things are going with life as a family of five and what we’ve been up to lately.

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