Wednesday, August 24, 2011

To Snip or Not to Snip?

24 hours after being home from Alex's circumcision surgery, I thought I'd expound a little more on our experience and thoughts. I share this not to be overly morbid, but I know from experience that a circumcision is a big decision for many adoptive families.

To snip or not to snip... that is the question.

When I first started back with my first adoption for Tatiana, if you remember SHE was going to be a HE. Once I made the decision to adopt, I wanted my child home yesterday. The wait for girls is typically longer than for boys, so sure -- I'd sign up for a son. During what seemed like my endless wait through paperwork and then for a referral (looking back, it was no where NEAR endless, but it's always worse in the thick of things), I remember reading that little boys are not circumcised in Russia and that families must choose when they get home if they want to proceed down this road or not. I remember reading the posts of my friends who were adopting little boys, their decisions and then surgery days.

Obviously the path to my first adoption changed quickly, and I could put this decision out of my head. For the time. Then along came Alex. When I started proceeding with adoption #2, the thought jumped back into my head, briefly. It wasn't until our first night together at the hotel that it became REAL. Whoa!! Nelly!! Decision time.

I talked with friends on both sides of this debate. I also spoke with some friends who are nurses. In the end, while everyone had great opinions and - honestly, it was my medical friends who helped the decision for me. They weren't telling me what to do by ANY means. Decision made.

First, we had to get a referral for a Pediatric Urologist from Alex's doctor. UGH. I hate the red tape of the medical world. Imagine my surprise that the closest one was over an hour away. Double UGH. We met with Dr R back in June. More surprises were in store when I heard that the wait for surgery was 6 to 8 weeks! Triple UGH. But, scheduled we did - and the date was set for yesterday, August 23rd. And to make it even more interesting, we had 2 hospital choices -- and yes, also over an hour away. If you're keeping count... that's a fourth UGH. Sometimes, it's a pain living in the sticks.

Lots of my parental friends, adoptive or not, have faced surgeries for their kids. And I always hear it's harder on mom and dad than it is the child. This is quite possibly true!

The challenge started with our surgery time. I had requested MULTIPLE times not to be first in the morning since we were facing a drive. Well, they heard me loud and clear because they didn't schedule Alex until after 1pm! They told us to arrive at 1pm -- so that means surgery was scheduled for AFTER that. Great, right? Well... in theory. However, try explaining to a 23 month old child that he can't eat ALL morning or lunch. After midnight the night before, no food. Because of the late hour of surgery, I woke him up @ 11:15 and gave him some Greek yogurt, strawberries and a bottle of Pediasure. His tummy was FULL! He was also allowed to have clear liquids until 9am, so when he woke up he had a small glass of apple juice. Tatiana was whisked off to daycare so she could eat without torturing her brother, and I put him in his crib in the guise of a "nap" so I could sneak off and have some toast and yogurt of my own.

We found the hospital with no issues - in fact we were early. They brought us in pretty quickly and all of a sudden Alex was in his gown and admitted. The Anesthesiologist came in and asked a bunch of questions and it seemed like he'd be taken any minute. And then the waiting started... after she left, we saw no one for a hour and a half! (another huge UGH) The little guy's procedure before Alex with the Urologist went MUCH longer than expected. Got it. But please, people, for the sake of a mama's sanity, COMMUNICATE! It was hard to keep a very hungry 23 month old entertained in a pre-op room for 1 hour and 30 minutes. Honestly, Alex was a total trooper and the hardest thing I had to deal with was keeping him relatively quiet from his giggling!

Finally, it was go time. Because of all the hurry up and wait, I really had no time to get nervous. Suddenly my little boy was being wheeled away. He started to pout and cry, but a very sweet nurse got him babbling about something (literally, since he has so few words!) and he was distracted enough.

Between finding a place for mama to get something to eat, updating some family and friends, and catching up on the news of an east coast earth quake (what? really?), the hour passed by pretty quickly and soon Dr R was out to provide an update. By the time I finally got let in to see Alex, I was the lone waiting room occupant.

He was wheeled back in and basically looked like he was still waking up from a nap. One of the nurses called Alex a "her". Really? HE looks nothing like a girl, and aside from being surprised, I have issues with caretakers in a hospital who don't know their patients gender (especially when the patient just had surgery on his obviously male genitals!!). Alex was a little groggy and just wanted to snuggle. He fussed now and then, but was mostly just tired and hungry. Around 4:15 the poor boy finally got some snacks and milk. The pharmacy brought up his prescription and started calling out for "Thomas Repp" (Alex's middle name) and I swear in all my tiredness etc. I literally looked around for my dad (Alex's middle name is after my dad).
We were on the road near 6pm and headed for home. Gramma Darlin brought sister home and I had to send Alex packing for bed soon after that because the little stinker wouldn't settle down! He was SO excited to see sister and Gramma that he got VERY wound up! I guess he felt just fine!

Dr R had explained that he had (sorry for the men reading this...) an injection in his penis before they woke up him up to help fend off the pain. It would last about 8 hours - and sure enough, around 1am Alex woke up with some tears. He had a dosage of some medicine and brought to mama's bed. When he woke up this AM, no more tears -- he's been all smiles, all day. The tape bandage was supposed to fall off in the first tub soaking, but when I took off his diaper to get ready for the bath tonight -- it had already fallen off in his diaper. Huge relief for mama! I didn't want to have to pull that off!!

So all in all, a relatively painless couple days. A bunch of stress for not much of a deal. For those of you who have this choice to make in the future -- I hope this helped out.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Snip Snip Here, Snip Snip There...

That's how we laugh the day away in the merry old land of Oz...

Sorry, couldn't resist. And after you hear what we've been up to - you'll think that was crass and completely inappropriate. However... it describes what we did this week! Well at least some of it... probably the biggest part.

But first, on the fun side, Gramma Darlin and I took the chance to escape Michigan before summer officially came to an end and Tatiana has to go back to school. In Michigan it's a state law that public schools cannot start until AFTER Labor Day - so technically we have a couple more weeks, but the clock was ticking. Gramma Darlin had to go to Sandusky, Ohio for a project she's working on, so we took the opportunity to take the kids to Kalahari - the largest indoor water park. Surprise -- Tatiana LOVED it. Surprise again, Alex - not so much. He finally loosened up a little on day #2, outside when he found the water sprays. With a safari theme, they also have some animals there -- so we took the time (and spent the $$) to feed the giraffes, zebras, lemurs and birds. Tatiana and I have firmly agreed that we need a giraffe for our backyard.

Alex gets into the fun at Kalahari...
Water baby as ever -- Tatiana @ Kalahari
Alex feeds the parakeets
I think there is a giraffe stalking me...
Alex had a BLAST feeding the animals!

Now on to the not so fun side... today was Alex's big boy surgery. Yup... we did it. The circumcision. I know this can be a debate for some parents, but at the end of the day, the pros FOR circumcision outweighed the odds. Alex was a trooper during the whole procedure and in true Alex fashion... he charmed the nurses and staff with his flirting. He was totally back to his normal self by the time we got home - so much so that I had to send him to bed promptly at 8pm so he didn't get too wild and crazy while playing with his sister. His pain injection lasts until 11 or 12 tonight, so hopefully he'll sleep through the night with no issues and I can continue the pain meds in the morning.

Waiting for them to come take me...
Playing peek a boo with mama... anything to kill time!
After surgery - pouty boy!

Hopefully your week is uneventful and painless!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Fate and an Anniversary...

It's Saturday night. Alex, Tatiana and I are in a hotel, celebrating a weekend of adoption with the annual Lighthouse Adoptions picnic. I LOVE this gathering. Wouldn't miss it for the world. And this weekend, it's even more of a celebration for Tatiana and I. Tomorrow marks the EQUAL point of days spent IN the baby home/hospital and days with mama. This is always milestone in adoption as it's nice to think that time can heal some of the wounds that were opened in those early days, alone without a mama.

I can't believe how time has flown by. It seems like just yesterday I was just making contact with Lighthouse. Just yesterday I was thinking about the little one I'd bring home. And tonight? I am getting ready to celebrate my daughter's equal time out of the baby home mark. Hard to fathom!

The road to this moment wasn't always smooth, and it wasn't always picture perfect. However, I truly believe that fate took a hand in putting Tati and I together. Three years ago this summer, I was waiting for a little boy referral from Moscow. In my heart I always wanted a little girl, but I also have the patience of a gnat. When first speaking with Lighthouse, the wait for a little girl was long. Russia was just slowly getting back up to speed with adoptions after the "Great Re-accrediation" of 2008, and there were LOTS of families in line for little girls. For little boys? Not so much. So knowing that I couldn't control gender if I was giving birth, I figured, sure, why not! A little boy would be dandy.

Suddenly that summer Moscow City closed to singles -- and another door opened. Vladivostok. FAR, far away from Moscow. Heck -- I couldn't even pronounce it correctly for about the first 3 weeks. While out to dinner one night, my mom brought me a magazine she received in the mail. The magazine had NOTHING to do with adoption or travel, but had a map inside with 1 major city highlighted - VLADIVOSTOK. Surely, it was a sign.

So off to Vlad it was. My referral for a little guy came in and I traveled in October of 2008. All the gorey details are in the blog from during that time -- and I don't hide anything that happened, but suffice it to say, the sweet face that came in my referral was not meant to be. The IA doc who analyzed his file pointed out a "yellow flag" that could turn into a "red flag" but unfortunately more information was needed to judge that. The kind of information that you'd likely need to find out in person. And I did. Heartsick, I was told there was another child at the same baby home that I could see if I was willing to consider a girl. Willing? Ummm sure! Before I knew who she was, I saw her on the playground and fell in love instantly. When I was told that was her, I think my friend Rhonda cried harder than I did, but I knew instantly that we were a match. Without that sweet "yellow flag" referral, I never would have gotten to Vladivostok to meet my little T. Some say circumstance. I say fate.

While we've our bumps and bruises along the way, I wouldn't change a thing. Thank you fate!

The "house" (or family) that Lighthouse built!!
Tatiana - playing at the Lighthouse picnic
Party in the hotel! New jammies from Gramma and Grampa!!