Friday, October 30, 2009

Cloth diapers, broken stroller wheel, Children's Hospital

Cloth diapers: We bought 12, plus 6 covers. They've already paid for themselves in the amount we save not buying disposables, I'm sure. Disposable diapers aren't cheap! Cloth diapers aren't either, but they're durable. I've already washed them 50 million times.

I only have 12, though. That's enough for a day and a half.

They're great in that they have high waists, and they prevent AwesomeCloud from scratching himself in his medically sensitive areas.

They're bulky, however, which is not so great. His 18-month clothes don't fit over them. He has 5 pairs of overalls that still fit. Other than that, I think I'll have to buy 4-year-old clothes and hem them. I've been saying that for a week and I haven't done it yet. But we're drowning in baby clothes, and I've been trying to organize them and look for pants I can add to the 'fit' pile.

My neighbor gave me a lead on a brand of cloth diapers that are less bulky and very well designed. But he couldn't remember the brand name. I will have to ask him again sometime.

Broken stroller wheel: You may remember that our carseat/flightseat/stroller lost a wheel in Nanjing. What a sweet little contraption it would have been if it hadn't broken! Zooming the kiddo easily through airports, retracting the wheels at the last second to create an instant carseat.... instead, we had to carry the kiddo by hand, and the stroller too.

We emailed the manufacturer and they sent us a brand new wheel and installment instructions. The carseat/stroller will live again! Except... well... we haven't had a chance to install it yet. But at least we have the new wheel.

The customer service rep wondered if we'd send them a picture of the kiddo in the carseat/stroller. I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, he's plenty cute enough to be a model. And I do like the product. On the other hand, it broke when we needed it most, inconveniencing us terribly. Allowing them to crow, "Our product helped this child's family when they went to China!" is a tiny bit dishonest. But... he's a super-cute model. And maybe they won't mention China.

Boston Children's Hospital: I have been there twice and I have some impressions and advice for those families who may visit it in the future.

It is bright and colorful, to the point where you can't help but be cheered up a little. Every corner and corridor declares, "We care about children!"

Even so, it's huge. The place is a maze, and the route to your department is not always obvious. Ask directions early and often. Flag down anyone with an ID tag and ask where you should go. Flag down 4 or 5 of them, in case some of them aren't sure. Helpful people are everywhere.

I found that bringing along a friend or non-immediate relative was extremely helpful. Someone who isn't as invested in your child's health can help you stay calm under stress. They can help you read the signs, flag down the aforementioned staff members for you, and take notes if your child is demanding all your attention. They can hold and/or entertain the child if you need the restroom, or if you just need to take a break for a few minutes. And since they won't be worrying as much as you, the two of you won't end up in a worry-feeding spiral. That can be a problem if it's you and your spouse.

Brace yourself to see children who are sicker and more severely disabled than yours. It can be both depressing and enlightening at the same time. I felt sad for their families that I had a bouncy, healthy son with me while they looked forward to a lifetime of struggle, pain, and in some cases imminent death. At the same time, I felt glad for myself.

Sometimes, when people who know my baby is SN say, "Aw, poor thing! It's amazing that you'd do such a wonderful thing like adopt that poor special needs baby!" I cringe. I find myself defensive, at a loss for words. I think, now, I'll be even more so. Sorry, what? Poor baby? Who? I'm the lucky one. He's the nearly-perfect one. We're not amazing; we're just a couple of ordinary schmucks who just got our lives enriched. We just go to doctors' appointments now and then and soak in the good news about complications he doesn't have. We're not one of those near-saintly families who bust their butts keeping their child alive one more day, one more day, one more day.

With adoption, you can say no to that kind of lifestyle. You can hand-pick your child to make sure the challenge isn't too great for you. A discomfiting thought, but it's true. You can't help looking at a child strapped tightly into a wheelchair with tubes everywhere, and thinking, I wouldn't have chosen a child like that. The harried, bleary-eyed daddy pushing her across the lobby wouldn't have chosen her, either... but... well... nobody gave him the choice.

We all rise to the occasion, if we can. Some situations are just easier than others. And harder than others. Our family is in the middle somewhere, but it really hits me how very, very lucky we are. How many difficulties we avoided having. When people pity us, they're only comparing us to the absolute best-case scenario.

But, you know what, I think we're close enough to the best-case scenario.

As my sister once wisely said, "Every baby is a sick baby sometimes."

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