What it Feels like to be a New Mom.

It's been 31 days since we brought Thomas home from the hospital.
31 days since we walked through the front door and our entire world felt different.
Louder. Stinkier. Harder.
We've been more tired than we've ever been for longer than we've ever been.
He's taken over our whole lives and every second of every day revolves 
around this tiny human being we first met 31 short days ago. 
Parenthood, in so many ways, has completely kicked our butts.
I'd love to know if anyone has ever become a parent for the first time and thought, "Oh man, this parenting gig is so much easier than I thought it would be!"

And babies are not new to me. 
I'm the second oldest of eight kids so I've already changed more diapers than I can count.
And most of my adult life has been spent nanny-ing little ones to put myself through school. 
I think all this baby experience had me naively believing I was impervious 
to the stress and toll of new motherhood.
I am now realizing how thoroughly I have underestimated new moms in the past.

It's not like nobody tells you it's going to be hard. 
Everybody tells you it's going to be hard. 
Everyone tells you it will change your whole life. 
Pretty much everyone who knew we were adopting would happily 
warn us that our lives would never be the same again. 
"Sleep now", they told us. "Enjoy your freedom", they said. "Prepare yourselves because everything is about to get really different" they repeatedly warned.
But nobody tells you what all that different feels like. 
I think it's a hard kind of change to describe. 

But quite honestly, being a new mom feels like culture shock. 
Moving to a foreign country is the only thing I've experienced that's feels even remotely similar.
Of course you're thrilled and excited to be there, and riding on pure
adrenaline through a lot of the initial experience.
But it's always an adjustment, and that adjustment can be really tough. 
Everything is new and unfamiliar and foreign. 
And that's coupled with the exhaustion of jet lag.
(Which feels almost exactly like new-mom exhaustion.) 
And with being isolated far away from family and friends. 
(A newborn baby can isolate you in an very similar way.)
And with having to resolve unrealistic expectations about it all. 
(Because trust me, no matter how prepared or sensible you thought you were being about the whole thing, parenthood or relocation, there are always unrealistic expectations to contend with.) 
The decision has already been made.
It's final and there’s no going back now.
Not that you would, but the finality and permanence of the commitment plays a pretty big part in 
why, at times, it feels so entirely overwhelming.
Now all you can do is buckle down and ride it out, knowing it's not always going to feel this way.
Knowing, eventually, everything that initially seems so strange and unusual 
will one day feel really very normal and comfortable.

Just recognizing that has often helped propel me through the early 
and most difficult part of adjusting to a new culture.  
And for me, the beginning of this acclimation process in a foreign country always has me vacillating irresolutely between the euphoria of the honeymoon phase 
and the overwhelming anxiety of the disorientation phase.
Motherhood, I have found, is the exact same way. 
At least it is for me. 

So, here I am, 31 days in. 
And like every mother I've ever known, it's harder than I thought it would be.
But in a lot of ways, it's much better too.
Like no matter how sleep deprived I am, there are still times when he is 
peacefully napping and I have to forcibly restrain myself from waking him up. 
 Just because I desperately want to hold him, and squeeze him, 
and gently kiss his soft little neck over and over again, and simply because I miss him. 
At the end of the day there isn't much I wouldn't do, no matter how hard, to have our little guy here with us, sleeping in our bed, waking us up at all hours, and basically completing our little family. 
I mean just look at this adorably funny little nub! 

I'd love to hear, what did becoming a mom feel like for you? 
And how would you describe it to a soon-to-be first-time mother?


New Years 2014

This year is speeding along at an unprecedented pace!
After ringing in the new year with games, and laughter, and hors d'oeuvre's and bubbly with our good buds, Ryan and I finalized some goals for the year.
And then we secured them in a little wooden box purchased as Michaels to be used as our new and only new years tradition, a time capsule.
We threw a couple pictures of the festivities in there, our fortunes from the cookies that accompanied the Chinese food, and a sheet with all our goals written out so we can congratulate ourselves on how well we did next year. 
It's a lovely tradition - if I do say so myself - and I'm sorry I didn't think of starting it years ago.
This year we have a couple different areas of focus, but my main one is to wear my seat belt.
It's true. I've just always been really terrible at it.
Spending 18 months in Romania where seat belts are practically nonexistent didn't help things at all.
So this is the year I turn things around.
It seems like a good idea seeing as how this is also the year we become parents.
Gotta' set a good example and all that.
Yup, it's going to be a pretty fantastic year for the Reigles, I can feel it in my bones! 


Christmas 2013

Christmas was amazing! 
Every time we get our whole family together there is a period of time among all the chaos when I just feel incredibly overwhelmed with love and gratitude for our boisterous clan.
They're a pretty good little group if I do say so myself!


We were spoiled with more fun, laughter, conversation, gifts, games, food, treats, and happy memories than any one person could possibly deserve!


The Best Question Anyone's Ever Asked Me

Falling snow muffled the sounds of the city and painted our cheeks and noses red with cold.
We were rocking in the swing on the front porch.
The same swing where we shared many late nights together before this one.
The same swing our paper boy would frequently find us in, as the light of morning crept up on us, after we spent the entire night talking about our dreams for the future.
The same swing where he started handing us a free copy of that newspaper just because he got so used to seeing the two of us there. 
And so it also became the same swing where we would sit reading the morning news. 
It was the same swing where we had our first fight.
And the same swing where we later said our first I love you's
It was there, on that swing, sitting side by side, that he asked if we could carve out a life together. 
And in front of that same swing, after I said of course!, and yes!, he knelt and put the ring on my finger.


After the Rain

Isn't this breathtaking?
It makes me cry I love it so much.  
How they move in unison but distinctly, differently.
How she leans into him, and on him.
How he quietly holds her up. 
How he supports her in every lift and turn.
How he helps pull her up off the ground time and again.
And how the music and the dance changes, over time.
Becomes softer, and then sadder, and then stronger.
If seven years of infertility looks like anything, it looks like this. 


Deeply Certain and Slightly Doubtful

"You can be deeply certain, and slightly doubtful. You can be scared, and really, really ready."
I believe that. 
Because I am feeling all those things right now.
And every time I think about adopting and the fact that I could literally become a mom any day now, a whole new batch of excitement bubbles up inside of me so much that I can barely contain it.
But there is also a small lump of panic that sinks beneath the effervescence of my excitement, and lies cold and heavy somewhere near the pit of my stomach.
Because I've never been a mom before. 
And I'm terrified because after all this time, and all this work, and all this waiting, 
what if I'm just not any good at it?
More than anything else in my whole entire life I desperately want to be good at this.
Then this beautifully written article reaches out across the internet and unloads armfuls of reassurance into my lap with words like:

There will be good days and bad days, good minutes and bad minutes, 
good choices and not so good ones. 
Be gentle with yourself, because you are wildly loved and incredibly needed. 
Gather wisdom around you. Learn from your mistakes.  
Stay humble. Stay open. When you know better, do better. 
Be a better parent tomorrow than you were today, 
always, everyday, as often as you can. 
Try things out and leave them behind shamelessly if they don’t work out. 
And love that incredible baby!
It will be better than okay.  It will be amazing.


Macaroni & Cheese

Photo shamelessly grabbed here

photo shamelessly grabbed here

This, my friends, is the yummiest (and healthiest) macaroni and cheese I have ever eaten! 
It's insanely good and I have two pans of it sitting in my freezer right now.
I take no credit for the recipes, only for the brilliant idea of combining two of them to form perfection. 
(they are both delicious on their own, but somehow even better and more delicious together)

I use two parts Rachael Rays Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese (Note: I used fresh butternut squash and roast it. Also, the thyme in here is so so good) to one part Lindsey's Healthy (cauliflower) Alfredo, (to which I add parmesan cheese. I also sprinkle some over the pasta before serving.) 

This triple combination makes a lot of pasta, which I love. 
Because it's nowhere near as easy as throwing a kraft packet on the stove.
So I'm happy to put in extra work and have tons leftover to freeze and eat throughout the month, especially as it gets colder outside.
But you could just as easily 1/2 the cauliflower recipe and use one full recipe of the squash.
It will still make a lot, trust me.

You definitely have to tell me if you try this.
And just try and convince me it doesn't change your life!


Random Update

Every time I sit down to write something it always ends up revolving around adoption, our potential new parenthood, babies, and the happy changes that means for our little growing family.
It makes sense I guess, since that's our current stage in life - lucky us. 
And I'm loving this part of things! 
But I'm still wracking my brain to come up with some part of our lives that isn't completely adoption related in the attempts to be a little more diverse and interesting. 
So far I have been unsuccessful.

Except that we are so excited for Christmas and our Christmas cards are almost all written and addressed and the shopping nearly done.
Also, Ryan shaved his beard. I sort of miss that look of rugged manliness. What I don't miss? The mustache up my nose when we kiss.
 I'm undertaking some serious spring cleaning without any regard for the current season. 
 I'm also loading up our freezers with all sorts of quick go-to meals (and treats) should the adoption thing happen quite suddenly so we will feel completely armed and ready.
And right now I am feeling this desperate and urgent need to baby-proof and get in perfect working order every single room in our house, I think they call this thing nesting and it is a beast! 
Any volunteers to upholster our coffee table?

You see what I mean? 
Pretty nearly every single aspect of our lives is already baby-centric.
It may all be a bit premature but at this point I just don't know how to turn it off.
Sorry we are a broken record these days. 

It's sort of crazy and incredible to think that we really will be parents someday. 


Adoption Profile

You may not know that we had our adoption application papers filled out and completely ready to go for about two years before we actually submitted them. 
But for some reason the timing just felt off, like our baby just wasn't quite ready for us yet.
So we waited. And we prayed. And we waited some more. 
And then suddenly the timing felt incredibly right. 
We submitted our application and then sort of assumed (and hoped, we really-really hoped) that this would all go super quickly for us.

And then when our profile was finally published and we were immediately contacted by two birth mothers within that first week it looked like we were right. 
But then those fell through, and after that everything went silent, and that silence has lasted for five months.
We keep checking our email to make sure our account hasn't been cancelled or something due to inactivity, you know, just in case that's been the problem.
And then we hear horror stories about couples who wait five whole years before being selected by birth parents (thanks mom:)) and feel both silly for thinking this is taking forever and panicky at the thought of 4 1/2 more years of waiting.
So now we are thinking we need to be a little (read: a lot) less passive in our approach.

So even though it feels mildly (read: largely) uncomfortable to put ourselves out there in such a big and public way, a link to our adoption profile is now available on the blog.
If you want to help spread the word we wouldn't mind if you linked to it on your blog too.
We wouldn't even complain if you published a little shout out on facebook or something.
We figure it could only do us good.
And help increase our chances of being found by the birth mother we hope is looking for us and the baby meant to join our family.

This is so far out of my comfort zone I just have to hit publish before I talk myself out of it!
Here goes...

** link to full adoption profile above & right here **



Every other night or so I completely lose myself to dreams of Romania and the people I love and miss.
Sometimes in my dream I am showing my family around the country for the first time, sometimes just my sisters, sometimes it's just Ryan and I, and sometimes it's just me, back there, like the old days. 
They're the kind of dreams that are hard to wake up from and stay with you for most of the day.
The kind that you wish you could just roll over and fall back into. 
The really happy good kind.
So being back there last year was bizarrely awesome!
I left blood, sweat, and tears on these old familiar streets of Romania.
But besides all that nostalgia, how could you not fall deeply in love with a country that looks like this?