The Year of the Squish: Our Adoption Story Part 3

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So I left off the story in Part 2 (click here to read!) with Brian holding our daughter for the first time. I can freeze that memory in my mind and remember every detail.

I really don’t know how to proceed with the story at this point, because as much as I would love to tell you that we spent the afternoon playing and laughing and crying…it was actually probably one of the weirdest, hardest days I have ever lived through.

I want to first of all say, that I want to be honest about the facts of how difficult the next 2 weeks was. I was in no way prepared for how complicated and emotionally intense it would be to transition EJ from her foster home to our home. It’s not something you can prepare for, there is no manual or book that can lead you through this process. You have to remember as you read that adoption is a team effort, that you can’t isolate the child or children from the influence, jurisdiction, and attachment of foster parents, foster siblings, case workers, and anyone else on their team. (In our case, this includes a pretty large group of doctors and specialists too!) Everyone’s experience is going to be different, and I hope that what we learned and what we experienced during this process can help others maybe go through it a bit more gracefully then we did.

And so Brian held his daughter for the first time and we both just looked at her like we have never seen a baby before, and we all sat down in the living room for a chat. Me, Brian, Christina, Fran, and foster mom. Without missing a beat, foster mom launched into a lengthy explanation of Emmi’s medical history, her past ER visits, her daily perils, and all the worst-case-scenario information. I grabbed my ipad and started taking notes, because…WHAT IN THE WORLD IS HAPPENING AND WHAT AM I DOING HERE. I’M 12 YEARS OLD AND I’M TRYING TO CONVINCE YOU ALL THAT I CAN DO THIS. 

It was a weird way to meet my daughter (whom I had not gotten to hold yet at this point). It was a very Anne of Green Gables moment where I had made castles in the sky about this experience and it turned out very differently

So, I did finally get to hold my Squish. She was kind of confused about what was going on, but was content to just be held and look at everyone with those huge eyes. Then I was told that I was holding her wrong. Ok cool, I just messed up this very magical moment by holding my medically fragile daughter wrong. Ok. Great. I don’t even know what else I can say about that. Squish, if you are reading this now as a teenager. You know we are good. I was super happy to hold you and look at you and I just kind of tuned out everything for a while and looked at you. Also, I will still call you Squish, just maybe not in front of your friends. 

Meanwhile, the stream of information never stopped. So much information. So much to process. I think it lasted about 2 hours. Meanwhile our case worker Fran had to leave, but promised to be in touch and help us along. Fran is the greatest, and we love having her in our life! She was our fierce advocate during this process, and she’s definitely someone you want on your side.

Finally, we had a chance to kind of relax more and ask questions about her daily routine and how she liked to sleep and how to feed her and all that. This was a welcome relief from the flood of medical information, not gonna lie. EJ kind of perked up and we got to see her laugh and giggle and just be a squishy 6 month old baby. This is the first photo I ever took of her, and I got to send it to all my family that day. IMG_2747That smile made this day a ton better. We were in love.

We spent the afternoon getting familiar with her life with her foster family, and we were able to really connect with the foster parents by telling them about our own journey up to this point. I told them that EJ was already covered in the prayers of our family, friends, and church…and that we had a beautiful community just waiting to welcome her home and help us care for her. I could see foster mom visibly relax, and with tears in her eyes she told me how much she loved EJ. Squish, if you are reading this as a teenager, know that you were loved deeply by this family. They brought you home from the hospital, saw you through many dangers, and saved your life. They will always be a part of you. 

The next 2 weeks were a blur. Christina (EJs case worker) wanted us to be absolutely sure we could handle her medical needs, so we drove an hour away almost every day for two weeks to do bonding visits and go to doctor’s appointments. It was so exhausting, and we often didn’t know what we were supposed to do or where to go until the last minute. Brian still needed to work, and I was frantically trying to get our home ready for a baby. My best friend drove here from Georgia and helped me clean the house and get ready to bring EJ home. My sister ran around and organized gifts and got me a pool pass for the summer. People started dropping off diapers and clothes. It was insane.

During that time we brought EJ to our house for two overnight visits. The first one, we kind of sneaked her in and didn’t tell anyone but a few people. During these visits she met her Auntie Apa, Uncle Twent, and Auntie Wissa for the first time! Oh, and also Lucy. (Apryl is my sis, Trent was our housemate and our dear friend, and Elissa is my bff)

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And so we slept little, drove alot, and fell in love with our little Squish.

About halfway through the transition process, Brian and I decided to get away for a night and go downtown to spend the  night in a hotel. It was our “babymoon”-our last chance to get away by ourselves for a while. It looked like it was going to be a few weeks before we could bring baby girl home, so we grabbed this one chance. It was a gift from God, because things got suuuper intense after that.

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Our downtown getaway. Also the same day as the Ironman competition so getting to our hotel was basically impossible without the help of some of Raleigh’s finest.

We got word the next day that EJ was sick and that we were to meet up with her and her foster mom at the pediatrician’s office. So our little babymoon was cut short, but we were grateful for it. There were and still are concerns about EJ’s kidneys, so they wanted to make sure she didn’t have an infection. During the visit, I spiked a fever and started feeling really unwell. We had just decided that EJ would come home with us that  night for a visit so we could experience what is was like to watch over her and get her through a sickness or infection. Brian then had to take ME to the urgent care and make sure I wasn’t sick with something I would give to EJ. The doctor took one look at me and said he didn’t think I was sick, I was just really really really stressed. When we told him our story, he lit up and said “I was adopted!” He got it, he was kind, and he was actually from our same town and was working the clinic that day randomly. (Looking back, I’m pretty sure that me and Ej were both sick with a little virus…and that we probably picked it up at the doctor’s office, and that the stress wasn’t helping us fight it off.)

So, after some drama with lots of people trying to make decisions and lots of emotions involved, we took a sick Bonnie and a sick EJ home to our house for another overnight visit. I’m indebted to the foster mom for teaching me how to pack a hospital bag. She was stuck at the hospital with EJ one time during a snow storm and had nothing with her and no one could bring her anything. She always had a “go bag” in her car from that point on. So that night, I packed a hospital bag just in case and we all went to sleep. Early the next morning, we realized that something might be wrong, and we were instructed to take her straight to the ER. Here is where I nearly had a panic attack. Up to that point, I had never been in the ER before that I could remember. I hate hospitals (though now I’m super comfortable at our Children’s Hospital and Clinics). I was being thrown waaaaay outside my comfort zone on so many levels, and at this point I thought it would break me.

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Emmi and DaDa at the ER

That was the longest morning of my life. I was sick, Emmi was sick, and we were stuck at the ER because it was taking forever to get an ultrasound done. Thankfully, she was ok and we actually got some good news about her kidneys. I’m so glad we had that experience, but at the time it really shook my confidence. Emmi and I went home and were sleepy and miserable together, while poor Brian actually had to go to work for the rest of the day.

I could probably ramble on and on about those days. They were days of intense spiritual battles- you could feel the war being waged around our family. We were simultaneosly so happy and so fearful and doubting. I was often just paralyzed by the fear of the unknowns in Ejs life. We had to have a serious conversation with Fran about the possibility that we would not get to see Emmi grow up. We had to decide that she was worth the risk. She was. She is. That was always true in our hearts. Always. Fear tried to make us stumble and made us second guess ourselves, but God was already writing our story and knitting our family together. No papers or people or doctors’s guesses or bloodwork or ultrasounds could say or do anything against his plan for us. God was unshakeable in this, and always has and always will be.

So let’s skip to the good part. The part where Brian came home from work on a Friday afternoon and we decided to go see a movie. We were so weary. We had been going back and forth with our team about our actual “coming home” date and nothing had been decided. Everything was ready to bring our baby girl home, we were just waiting. We figured a little distraction would be good, and it looked like it would be the next week before we got any answers.

Then there was a text from Christina. Brian froze and looked at me for confirmation about what it said. “Does she mean she wants us to move EJ tonight? This was not the time to miscommunicate over text message, so Brian asked her to clarify.

“Congratulations, it’s a girl” she said.

AND THEN WE DIED OF HAPPINESS.

We grabbed Lucy, got in the car, and posted this photo for all our family and friends to see.

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And so tomorrow we celebrate our 1 year Family-Versary. God’s timing is perfect, his gifts are so good.

There is more! Part 4 is coming soon!

(I have been walking down memory lane a bit on my Instagram account. You can see the Instagram feed right over there ——–> on the right side of the blog, and you can follow me @iambonnieb to see a bit more of the story. If you don’t use instagram on your phone or tablet, you can see my photos with this link https://instagram.com/iambonnieb/

You can also see these posts on my Facebook page here: Bonnie B. Photography on Facebook

Stuff I Like or “High Fives”

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I’m terrible at titles, so whatevs. This is STUFF THAT I LIKE and HIGH FIVES TO ALL!

Before we begin, I solemnly swear that this will not turn into a mommy blog. I am a mom, it’s awesome, no denying that. Being a mom is not my one and only. I like stuff that is not baby-related, and apparently even though I was supposed to check my interests at the door when the Squish rolled into my life…I’m a rebel and I refuse. There are some awesome baby-related items that make our lives easier, more colorful, or have helped the Squish so I will feel free to mention and adore them along with my latest food obsession.

 

1.) Audible.com

I love reading, but the days of sitting for hours and devouring a long book are kind of over. It’s all good, because I can now listen to those really long Lord of the Rings-type epic 900 pagers and get to tune out the 12 and a half chapters where they slowly and painfully describe ancient swordmaking. I’m sure there are lots of people out there (cough: Husband) who are spellbound by those descriptions, yet I feel no shame for not listening to the boring parts and swooping back in when the best buddies go out adventuring together and save the world. I’m currently listening to the 3rd book in the Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson. Each book is roughly 25 hours long. Yup. That’s twenty-five. Hours. This series is really fun to listen to, and Brian and I actually talk about these books in depth like REAL ADULTS.  (even though he already finished the series on his commute, yet still attempts to talk to me about these books as if he doesn’t know how it ends.)

2.) Skiphop Water Bottle

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BABY ALERT! If you don’t care…just scroll right by. The Squish was taught by our awesome feeding specialist how to drink from a straw at like 7 months old. I then became obsessed with finding her the perfect water bottle with a straw. She loves the hedgehog, they are $6.99 a piece, and you can get them at amazon.com, Target, or Baby’s R Us. It’s possible that we named it “Hedgie” and she does a little dance when we give it to her.

3.) Ipad Mini

The mom in me is like “MAKE ALL THE THINGS ABOUT BABIES” and I’m trying you guys, I’m trying. I need to work sometimes, so maybe sometimes I cue up Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood on the Ipad mini, set it somewhere in front of the Squish, and see how much work I can get done in 26 minutes. It’s also awesome for traveling, since I can download The Proposal and watch it in the car and not bother the husband while he drives. This is how we like it. I don’t bother him, he doesn’t mention my slight infatuation with Ryan Reynolds. It also fits in my purse…and NO I haven’t forsaken my purse and thrown all my belongings into the diaper bag. The very idea.

4.) Trader Joe’s Popcorn with Herbs and Spices

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It’s $1.99 for a bag and you can eat it in the car on the way home from TJ’s with zero guilt. Can I make herb popcorn at home? Yes. Does it taste as good as TJ”s? No.

Get some. You won’t regret this decision. Actually, do what I do and just buy 2 or 3 bags.

Apparently they sell it on Amazon now.

Edit, as I was doing my final edit of this post, the Husband brought me a bowl of this delicious snack. Keeper? Yes.

5.) The Honest Co. Diapers

BABY ALERT! If you don’t care…just scroll on by.

We were in a fight with Target diapers. They turned on us. It was not pretty. We had to go out of town unexpectedly, all the cloth diapers were dirty, and the disposables we had were basically toxic to her. I spent the money on a box of the Honest Co.  expensive diapers, hoping they would help the Squish with her ish. They did. The lovely people at Honest sent me a super awesome coupon and I got a bundle of diapers and wipes for suuuuuper cheap. A bundle includes 6 packages of diapers and 4 packages of wipes, and you save over $20 when you subscribe to the bundle. This is a fantastic fit for us, since we cloth diaper at home and use disposables at night and when we go out. These are the gentlest diapers and wipes, and the designs are super freakin’ adorable. This company is for real, and for us it is worth the investment to have products that we know are safe and gentle. If you want to save $10 on your first order, click here! 

6.) Thai Coconut Chicken Soup

I crave this soup. It has a chicken broth and coconut milk base and it tastes way different than you imagine. It almost has a cheesy taste to it, and it’s imperative that you get fresh basil to put on the top. Make a ton, freeze it, and hoard the leftovers. It’s one of those recipes that tastes a million times better the next day, especially when you mix in the leftover rice and just let it sit. I’d imagine that it would pair really well with millet too. We added sausage to the leftovers last week and it was ah-mazing.

 

What are you high-fiving lately?

 

Bonnie B.

I’m Back!

Excuse me while I dust off the Bonnie B. blog and remember how to write posts! Wow, I mean wow. So much has happened in that silent period since my last post. We have one happy, squishy, hilarious, loud, special, smart 11 month old ruling our world right now. I wish this post was full of photos of her. (Trust me, I have gigs and gigs of photos on my hard drive and I’m constantly backing up my iphone to make more room!) Brian and I are discussing how we will handle online exposure, and since the adoption will be finalized any day now, we will probably wait a bit until she is officially a Horton. Crazy times, God is so surprising in how He works out the glorious details.

Many of you have asked if I’m still doing photography, and the answer is Yes! I took the summer off (though I still did the sessions already on the books) and I’m back behind the camera! Juggling mom life and wife life and small business life and church life is quite the interesting thing, but we are slowly making it all work out.

I recently did a session with the sweetest senior girl, have I mentioned how much I LOVE senior portrait sessions? So much freedom to really take some risks and make the session unique to the client. Mary and her mom contacted me through the brilliant Angey Price, and we scheduled a face-to-face consultation to chat about who Mary is and what kinds of things bring her the most joy. We ended up in a super fun (secret) location and Mary brought along her vintage typewriter. I was basically in heaven. Here are a few of my favorites, and stay tuned for a full post of Mary’s session!

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Bonnie B. Senior Special! //Wake Forest Senior Portrait Photographer

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Calling all Class of 2014 Seniors!

It’s not too late to book an inspired senior portrait session with me! Are you a senior guy who hates the idea of getting senior portraits done? Have no fear! I pride myself in crafting senior portrait sessions that are inspired by YOU and what YOU love. Book a session with me, and I solemnly swear that there will be no goofy props and no leaning against trees. You may even find yourself having fun.

Book a session with Bonnie B. Photography, bring your best buddy to make you laugh, and you may just be surprised at the results.

Check the “How Much” tab for pricing and packages OR check out my Senior Special Package!

**Senior Special**

$400.00

-One to two hour portrait session

-Personalization of session

(props, details, location)

-Online gallery for viewing, sharing, ordering

-Custom flash drive with high-res digital files of all edited photos

-2 sheets of wallet prints (16 total)

-1 8×10 professional print

-2 5×7 professional prints

-One 5.5×5.5 “Brag Book” custom photobook

(perfect size for showing off your photos!)

Email me at hey@iambonnieb.com for more info and to book your inspired senior session!

Bonnie B.

Savannah’s Sweet Sixteen//Wake Forest Photographer

These Sweet Sixteen sessions are quickly becoming some of my favorite sessions ever! They have all the fun and freedom of a senior session without the pressure of yearbooks and senior projects and college applications. Savannah’s parents gave her this portrait session as a surprise for her birthday, so they set it all up without her knowing anything about it. I made her a cute little gift certificate to open on her birthday and she was sooo excited!

Savannah is in my small group at church, so I already knew how fancy and stylish and adorable she is. We skipped around downtown Raleigh with her mom and our friend/assistant Lily and basically caused a big ol’ ruckus everywhere we went. In case you were wondering, I did insist that she pack some flat shoes and avoid tripping all over the streets of Raleigh in those amazing heels. Safety first!

So here is Savannah: Sweet Sixteen and so full of life and joy. Love you Vannah!Savannah16-9420.jpg
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Half Awake

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Today was a rare afternoon with nothing on the calendar and no task that was too important. There was leftover snow and golden sunshine, and the cold was the invigorating kind. I walked Lucy like I always do after I get home from teaching preschool, and I struggled to silence a voice that was calling me outdoors and to create photos ONLY because I felt inspired. I really just wanted to curl up under a blanket and veg out to something on tv. The sun was throwing sparks off the snow though, and I had a fun new camera accessory to try… so instead I silenced the “veg out” voice and spent the afternoon playing outside.

(I’m sure my neighbors had a fun time watching me unsuccessfully take self-portraits in my front yard. It’s way harder than I thought! I’m kind of embarrassed that I didn’t get one portrait of myself that is actually in focus, but I liked this one, so we will call that one a small victory.)

I’ve been reading the personal letters of C.S. Lewis on and off for the past few months. This afternoon made me think of a passage I underlined and read and re-read. In a letter to his close friend, Arthur, he describes how much deeper his enjoyment of the outdoors has become:

The pond a smooth almost black sheet, sprinkled, or rather paved with bright leaves: the little birch wood flaming on the far side, and the hill and fir wood beyond fading into mist. Yes-the weather is alright now and I am getting all those fine feelings of revival-beginning to take longer walks again, remembering how much mere branch and sky and hedge ought to mean to one, and noticing suddenly for how long one has been only half awake. 

Sleepwalking is easy, but living fully awake is so much more satisfying. Thank you Lord for an empty calendar, a quiet yard, and the stirrings of revival.

Fall Mini Sessions!

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I’ve set aside a weekend just for mini sessions on Friday, November 8 and Saturday, November 9!

So maybe you simply need a cute/awesome/fun/creative Christmas card photo! Or maybe you haven’t had a family photo since your 16 year old was in preschool. I get it, sometimes  that family budget is stretched thin and your dream to have the full Bonnie B. Photography epic photo session experience takes a backseat to things like food and clothing for the children. Here is your chance to catch a glimpse of the magic of team Bonnie B.!

I’d love to see you for this event, so book your appointment today! Check out the flyer below for more details, and email me at hey@iambonnieb.com to find out which appointments are still open!

(The location is TBA, but it will be in the Wake Forest area. )

Also, congratulations to Leona J.! Leona was one of many kind people who came to Art After Hours this past Friday and entered to win a free mini session. She is our winner!

I’ve got some photos of Art After Hours to share, just wanted to say a big THANK YOU to everyone who came out to support me. My display is at the North Carolina General Stores in downtown Wake Forest for the rest of October, go check it out!

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Love, coffee, and all good things!

Bonnie B.