Our NICU babies have blossomed into big and thriving children. September is National NICU Awareness Month. I’m celebrating our own story today.
You will heal. I will help.
I don’t know why, but whenever my kids are playing or sitting together, two words come to my mind: Squad Goals.
At dinner with my friends on Friday night, they asked if Samarah, Isaiah, and Amiya have other biological siblings.
I replied, “Oh yeah. For sure they do.”
Between the three of them, they have six other biological siblings. The hardest part of knowing that? Of the six, there is only one that we will ever have the possibility of contacting and developing a relationship with. For me, even that one is sort of a stretch due to circumstances.
We took the kids to Minneapolis yesterday to watch their cousin play basketball. Samarah and Isaiah did okay for awhile, but then all three of them really just wanted snacks.
As long as there are snacks, their worlds keep on spinning. Totally cool with me – snackers like their mama.
I let Ryan finish watching the game, and I did popcorn with them.
They all wanted to sit at the table side-by-side on the bench, and it was the first time I have seen them all lined up eating together in this way (Maya is finally coming over the not-so-baby-like anymore curve).
I couldn’t resist. I started taking picture after picture and shot some videos that I put on Instagram.
Those two words kept popping up: Squad Goals.
As I scrolled through the popcorn photos and videos, I couldn’t help but think about their other biological siblings.
Will they want to seek them out someday or will they be perfectly okay with the squad they formed and sibling status gained through their own life circumstances and the love of Ryan and me?
Right now, they don’t know any different. They love each other one minute and fight like cats and dogs the next.
Someday they might be curious about those other six, and quite honestly, I wouldn’t blame them. I would, too.
My hope, though, is that they never wish for a better squad because I think they are going to make the best little team ever.
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This week is sort of dedicated to them….all three of them. Today I’m writing a post I’ve been excited about for quite some time. This is Throw Back Thursday Adoption First Photos.
For me, one of the best parts about preparing for Gotcha Day is looking back on the journey. I save every single picture and video of the kids on a separate hard drive, categorized by month then by year. Additionally, I have a folder titled, “Early Days + Firsts with Us” for all of our first moments together (hellllloooooo Type A).
This week has been lovely, going back over the past year, month-by-month, and re-living all that was since the day we got Amiya. She really did steal our hearts from the very beginning, and I think that will be apparent when you “meet” her for the first time tomorrow.
Looking back on those first images with Amiya reminded me of all the firsts with Samarah and Isaiah as well.
Anyone who does foster-to-adoption knows the ropes. We don’t show our children’s faces online before the adoption has finalized. I know some people who do their faces as the adoption date gets closer, but I have always chosen not to out of fear that it would jinx us in some sort of weird way.
Selfishly, I also like to keep my babies super close to the vest until we are in the clear and we are legally made their forever home.
But I just have to tell you that all the months prior to are filled with a thousand images that I could only wish to share. Not giving birth to a child doesn’t mean any fewer pictures, “firsts,” or gushing love bursting at the seams.
Today I want to share a few of these moments…..they are, of course, just of Samarah and Isaiah. But just for this one last day!
We grabbed a Kiki the Elephant and went to go get him for our first “date.”
We played for a few hours that day.
He would eventually return to his foster home.
And would come back again a few days later to play once again. Samarah was already a little Mother hen to him.
Shortly after, he would be ours forever.
And immediately, I started him on bone broth from the bottle.
I snapped this picture the first time I laid eyes on her in that Nicu bed.
She had been there for 2 months without anyone coming to “oooohhhhh and ahhhhh” over her very existence. By the time we were able to, I couldn’t get enough. This is her doing the carseat test before she could leave.
We had zero clue what we were doing with her, especially when it came to the feeding schedule (at 2 months, she was still just 5 pounds). This was our first night feeding with her.
And this is how we had to hold her upright most of the time. She was insanely tiny. That is Ryan’s hand, and how the Nicu nurses told us we needed to hold her head and face.
A few short days later, we gave her first bath. Incredible how much work it took for someone so small.
But mostly, the days were filled like this because she never wanted to sleep, was constantly uncomfortable, and – let’s be really honest – I had waited for this moment for so many years.
Tomorrow is Amiya’s big day! I have all the things planned, starting with a morning blog post on changes. We are leaving early afternoon for court. The kids have the cutest outfits, and if you follow me on Instagram (my personal one), you’ll see a little preview via my Instagram Stories. Elisabeth is coming, and we have a photographer coming as well. Sometime tomorrow night, I’ll finally publish our sweet Amiya the bee’s face. The video is done and ready, and I can’t wait to share it!
Samarah turned two almost a month ago, but yesterday we celebrated with a little Bubbles Balloons Bright Things Birthday Party at our house.
We started our day like almost every single Saturday, May through November, with the farmers’ market. I dressed her in a classic mama outfit, and her cuteness kills me.
She took a nap, and then the children arrived.
It wasn’t a huge party, and almost everything we did was very DIY.
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Samarah, like every toddler I know, loves bubbles. We got this Gazillion Bubble Hurricane Machine off Amazon, along with a couple Gazillion refills. We set the bubble activities on one table outside. (Another table was a lemonade stand – made my first ever batch of homemade blueberry lemonade! + the final table was homemade play doh + coloring.)
We blew up a ton of colorful balloons, and just had them floating around inside. (Ugh, I don’t have any pictures, but I’m sure my friend Jen has several – she helped me so much!)
Everything else was just sort of miscellaneous, bright and colorful. I bought colorful favor bags and filled them with funky straws and other little items.
I dressed up a few friendship quotes from Winnie the Poo that I got this summer from Whimsicals Paperie on Etsy.
I placed colorful paper straws and utensils in mason jars.
I bought little colorful paper bags and placed chips in them (we did a Mexican-cuisine theme).
For food, we had chicken, beef, mini tortillas and all the fixin’s, along with chips ‘n salsa, rice, and refried black beans. These are some of Samarah’s favorite foods.
We also did cake….YES, I did cake, and no it was not organic. But look at how beautiful this is! My friend Elizabeth, Elizabeth’s Cake Time, is uber talented, and if you live in the Tracy, California area, you must hire her.
We had a great day seeing friends and watching Samarah play with all the children. We are so grateful for everyone who came!
Mostly, we loved spending yet another day with the child who has made our lives complete. Gah….that tutu!
This past weekend I embraced silence and finally got the love signal I have been craving.
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