Monday, December 24, 2012

Very Merry Christmas

I have had trouble writing this post because I feel I should say something more profound for our first Christmas with Seven other than how ridiculously happy we are. But we are. This Christmas has been one happy moment after another. We did have to cancel our Christmas celebration with E's parents due to the three of us being sick. We won't be able to reschedule it until after the New Year. So that was sad. But Seven is healthy now and E and I are mostly better. And it will be a very merry Christmas for us.

There have been some sad moments. My aunt and uncle are getting a divorce, so we are missing my aunt and cousin from the festivities. And I feel bad for some friends of ours who are sadly joining the ranks of IFers. But then I see Seven getting love from relatives we don't see often or watch him participate in a holiday tradition for the first time and my heart just fills with joy.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Doing it all?

As I write this, it is 9:07 on Thursday morning. I was catching up on my blogs while feverishly trying to finish my son's Christmas stocking. I read the PAIL monthly theme and decided I had to respond because doing it all with a growing baby is what I struggle with all the time.

So let's take stock of what is on my plate right now. I am still at home this morning because Seven has trouble sleeping at daycare. He woke up a bit early this morning (and twice during the night-I think he teething because he is not sleeping well and is a drooling machine) and so was ready for his morning nap very early. This has happened the past two days as well-he desperately wanted a nap even though I needed to leave for work. Unfortunately, the past two days I had meetings where others were expecting me and so, with a heavy heart, I ignored his requests for sleep and packed him off for daycare anyway. I have no meetings today and, with the fortunate situation where no one checks when I come in, I decided to let him sleep.

I am crocheting him a stocking because, well, my husband insisted. Despite my love of crafts, I was planning on buying him a stocking. But E said I had to make one. And of course I had to make him a Rudolph hat. And bake cookies with him (or rather, with him crawling around my feet). And buy presents and decorate the house and mail cards and all the other Christmas related activities. So here I am, December 13th, and still only about a third of the way done with his stocking. We are celebrating with one set of grandparents this weekend, so I anticipate a late night coming up to finish it before then. And let's not mention the giant stuffed Santa I started in June that is not going to get completed and the cute Christmas jumper I bought at a consignment sale but need to move the buttons down so it will fit.

If I didn't have to take off tomorrow for Seven's 9 month doctor's appointment, I might consider staying home all day. But two days out of the office (actually three since my meetings yesterday were all off campus) is a bit much for one week. Although I could really complete the work I need to do anywhere. You see, I am a college instructor and, this being finals season, my main deadline is grading 29 papers that showed up in my in-box this morning. So, yeah, another late night for me there. At least my trip across the country for next week was cancelled. Well, not cancelled, but postponed to January when I will have two other work trips. Ugh.

Doing it all. Is that what I'm doing? Sometimes it feels like I am half-doing it all. Not doing half of everything, but doing everything but only half way. I try to give Seven my undivided attention when I am at home and he is awake, but there are often issues that are occupying the back of my mind while reading Brown Bear, Brown Bear.

Of course, I really shouldn't be complaining. I realize how extremely fortunate I am to have a bunch of supports which allow me this sense of doing it all. I have a professional job with a lot of flexibility. Every time we fail to make it out the door at my target time, I wonder how people in other types of jobs manage this. I hit the jackpot and have Seven in an employer subsidized daycare facility that is a two minute walk from my office. I can visit him every day during lunch. We can afford to hire someone to clean our house, taking a few chores off our backs.

But still, it's an on-going task to manage it all. I'm only 9 months in and don't have it figured out. There are things that don't get done or don't get done to my standards. Here is the little secret I've figured out about achieving the right balance - it's impossible. There is no ideal balance that we can maintain and no surefire trick that is going to help us find it. Instead, balance is an ongoing task. We do a little bit in one area on one day and then compensate in another area the next day. There is no end-state of perfect balance, but a constant process of self-correction when we are leaning too much in any direction. There are a few "tricks" I've picked up, such as outsourcing my least favorite activity of cleaning the bathrooms, planning the meals and major events for the week each weekend, and making sure my husband does his share of the work (which he does-another way I am fortunate) but these are, at best, marginal improvements. Sure, I've learned to love the crockpot, but when I see all my friends on Pinterest highlighting time-saving and family organizational tips, I know that if there was a silver bullet, surely we would all know it by now.

Unfortunately, that response always leaves one feeling a little deflated. But I think we have to be honest about what is held up as the ideal and what is realistic. That, to me, is the secret to managing the stress that comes with a young child. Being realistic about whether what we are striving for is realistic outside of movies or extreme cases. There are some true cases where someone seems to do it all, but we have to be realistic about whether that is an outlier. For example, Einstein is a real person who was a great scientist. But that doesn't mean that every physicist who doesn't invent something akin to the theory of relativity is a failure. It just means that Einstein was a unique case.


I have constant worries about whether I am doing what is right for Seven. I know I would not be a good SAHM, but am I still managing to give him everything he needs? And I focus mostly on his emotional and developmental needs, because certainly he has all his physical needs taken care of. But is he appropriately attached to me? (to be honest-I partly care about that for selfish reasons yet I am also aware that attachment is critical to emotional and social development). Would he be a better eater if I wasn't trying to juggle all these things and could make sure we were home during meal time? Am I reading to him enough? Do I provide enough stimulation for his learning?

These questions have no real answer and I think we have to stop asking ourselves "enough" questions. There is always more that could be done and so "enough" is never really achieved. I don't know how to stop asking myself these questions, though. What is needed is a shift in mindset, not a specific strategy of stress or time management.

Still, if it's a strategy that you want, I have two I can provide. With the caveat of course that these are not silver bullets. First, my main stress-reducing (or rather, guilt-reducing) strategy is to tell the daycare not to tell me when Seven hits a big milestone. I want to know what he does during the day and that he is attempting to wave bye-bye, but please don't tell me when he actually does. This eliminates a lot of my guilt and stress of missing his "firsts" because I get to experience all his major milestones. Now maybe he stood by himself at daycare last week, but the other day when he did it for me at home, it was so much fun to celebrate with him.

My second stress-reducing strategy is to be clear with yourself and with your spouse about the trade-offs you are making. I had a lot of guilt when I first returned to work, even though I knew I would not be a good SAHM. I still made sure I looked hard at our finances to see what the right decision would be. Both my husband and I make more than enough to each cover the cost of daycare. But if you are both working, do the math and see how much more your after-tax income is compared to the cost of daycare. There is no single threshold for determining whether it makes to stay at home or not as it varies by many factors, your own preferences being one of them. But actually calculating that number helped me prioritize and own the choices we are making. For example, once we knew what the difference was, we had a conversation about what we were doing with that money. Was it just to have a bigger house or fancier clothes? Those things are nice, but not that important. One thing we decided to do was invest in Seven's college fund. He may only be 9 months old and college is a ways away, but part of the trade-off we are making is that he will spend time away from us now so he can have a great start in his adult life and not have to worry about how to pay for college. You might make different decisions, but the key to be conscious of the decisions you are making and own them. Because when you own your choices, they cause much less stress.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Teeth

So I had planned to update my blog more often, but then my Internet decided to go down for three days. It is still not fixed, but this gives me the perfect chance to try out blogging from my phone, right? ( and of course as I was typing that, I hit some microphone option by mistake, I hope there is not some random recording on this!)

Back to what I wanted to discuss today. Teeth. Boy does this boy have them. He is only 9 months old and the fifth tooth is already breaking through. This is one kid who does not need to ask for his two front teeth for Christmas.

The funny thing is that despite all these teeth, he won't eat a thing. I've read that babies may refuse food temporarily when teething. But he is moving from one tooth to another that he is pretty much always teething. I'm dreading the one year molars, which I'm convinced will be here early like all the others!


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Rooting for the evil witch

One thing about being a parent through adoption is that I am overly sensitive to the portrayal of adoption in the media-both news media and various forms of fiction. I think that's one reason why Ann Patchett is one of my favorite authors. Starting with her debut novel about a home where pregnant young women were sent away to give birth in the 1950s, much of her work has incorporated themes surrounding adoption. (Of course, I first became interested in her work before our IF journey started, so maybe that doesn't explain my interest in her work.) Her work is too complex to label it as either "pro" or "anti" adoption, but she often returns to themes about how strangers come together to form families due to unique circumstances.

But many of the adoption-related themes in the media reinforce the idea that biology trumps all in forming "real" families. And this is one theme that has held me back from completely embracing the otherwise great show of Once Upon a Time. In case you haven't been watching this show, all the standard fairy tale characters have a second identity in the real world. In the first season, the real-life version of the characters had no recollection of their fairy tale characters even as some traits persisted. There are a few key new characters and twists in the new lives of classic characters. First, Snow White and Prince Charming have a daughter, who is now grown and apparently destined to lift the curse that created their second identity. This daughter, Emma, had a son (Henry) that she placed for adoption when he was a baby. And guess who adopted him? The wicked witch/queen (as in the one who gave Snow White the cursed apple).

While I didn't relish the idea of the adoptive mother as the evil witch, I thought the adoption theme was well done in the first season. There was tension as Emma started to develop a relationship with Henry, but you also got the sense that maybe things would have been much smoother if they weren't also battling for the lives of all the fairy tale characters in the town. And while Emma was attached to Henry, she was also visibly uncomfortable when he kept calling her his mother. But the second season has gone much further down the road of implying that Henry doesn't belong in his adoptive family at all. To the extent that I started rooting for the evil queen! Has Henry's life been so horrible that he has no soft spot for the woman who raised him?

The last episode was supposed to have a happy ending. Snow White and Prince Charming and Emma and Henry were finally reunited to be one big happy family. But I found myself reeling along with the evil queen and wishing the story had a different ending. She finally did the right thing and was rewarded by being pushed aside and reminded that she can't possibly be Henry's mother. The worst moment was when someone actually commented on how she reunited mother and son even as she saw her son run into another woman's arms. Please-let the evil queen have a happy ending too!

Monday, November 19, 2012

My Favorite Traditions

I love traditions. Traditions unite us with the past, serving as reminders that we are part of something bigger than ourselves. So this is my favorite time of year, when daily life is filled with so many traditions. This year, I am especially looking forward to sharing our family traditions with Seven and starting new ones that we can cherish together.

In my family, Christmas actually starts a day or two before Christmas Eve. That is when my grandmother hosts her annual cookie day for all the grandchildren. She started this with my sister and I when I was just a baby. We start with rolling out the dough and cutting the shapes at the counter while my grandmother oversees the oven. After a pizza lunch, we move to the table and break out the frosting and sprinkles to decorate the cookies. With the work done, we used to start snooping under the tree to identify our presents. Now that we are older, the suspense of wrapped presents is easier to endure but we still love re-enacting the snooping. The day ends with my grandmother giving each of us an ornament.

Cookie Day has grown over the years from just me, my sister, and grandmother to include my younger cousins and, eventually, our children. Since E and I got married, we rotate where we spend Christmas and thus I only go to every other Cookie Day. Two years ago, fresh off a failed cycle, I couldn't make it through the day without breaking down. I was at one of my lowest points in this infertility journey. I only saw the darkness and loneliness of infertility. I could not see an end to the journey.

This year, I will get to introduce my son to my favorite tradition. But now I realize that being a mother is not an end, but a whole new beginning. I want to start our own traditions with my husband and son that are special just for us. I want to find ways to incorporate my son's culture to our holiday traditions. I am very excited for the next month or so and know that even if things don't go perfectly, there is always a way to adapt traditions to the unexpected.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Well, that was different

Sorry I've been silent for so long. I don't really have a good excuse so I won't make one up! I have still been reading but am waiting for some inspiration to strike to post.

Seven is so adorable right now. He is crawling around everywhere and pulling himself up. It is amazing how mobile he has gotten in just the last week. He's been doing the army crawl for a while and could move short distances, but now he is following us down hallways. His increased mobility also means he is discovering all sorts of interesting things around our house. The most recent example is that he got into the little rocks that are in the fireplace.

Something did happen in the last few days that shook us pretty well. We've been continuing to exchange emails with M and sharing pictures of Seven. Her responses are usually brief and don't say much about her. Mostly just how much she loves Seven and how cute he is. And then one day she sent a long update about how she is doing in school, how her kids are doing, etc.

At the end, she dropped something big that we don't know how to deal with. It is not bad news per se, but it just changes so much of what we thought we knew. And it was one of those things that made us want to envelope Seven with hugs at the thought of having to explain this to him one day. We are still processing it and figuring out how to respond.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Finalized

Well, that was anti-climatic. I've been bugging our lawyer regularly to figure out why the court is basically not doing anything. You may remember that the court never gave the order to terminate the birthfather's rights even though the 30 day waiting period expired, oh, in June. I've been getting really anxious, first that the court might do something funny. And then that we might not finalize in 2012 and lose the tax credit.

So today I made my regular call to the lawyer for an update. These calls have gotten tense as he never has an update and thinks that contacting the court once a week is too pushy. So when he called me back this morning and said he had good news, I was expecting him to say that the birthfather's rights were finally terminated. But he went one better. Our final decree is on its way!

It was surprising but also exciting. After calling E with the good news, I went to go give Seven some love (his daycare is a one minute walk from my office). He was taking a nap, so I came back later and he was in such a cuddling mood. He is so happy and loving. We went out for a family dinner and, more importantly, a celebratory ice cream. Today was a good day!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Sweet potatoes

We get tons of sweet potatoes from our CSA. Here's what I do with them.

1. Wash them well.


2. Poke them with a fork and roll in foil.


3. Bake at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes or until soft.


4. Let it partially cool, scrape out inside.


5. Mash in food processor. Add enough water to get desired consistency.


6. Freeze.


7. Enjoy!


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Doctors and Daycare

OK, sorry for falling off the earth. I have no real excuse. Except, you know, the whole 7 month old thing. He is doing very well, not quite crawling yet. He is currently on an eating strike, but in general he is doing well with new foods.

My long-time readers may recall my bad relationship with my doctor. If not, you can familiarize yourself here. Maybe bad relationship is too strong, but we didn't get off to a great start and it's always a pain to get an appointment.

But apparently I have a new avenue to actually see her. I can just go to Seven's daycare. You see, we had a party at his daycare this evening where all the parents came. I know all the other kids pretty well. And I know some parents who happen to have similar schedules as me and we see each other during the drop off or pick up. But for one little boy, his father is the primary dropper-offer and so I had never met his mother. But guess who showed up at the party tonight! And then I had to introduce her to E, who gets all my rants about doctor visits.

It was a fun party, though. And I spent a good portion of time talking about adoption without feeling odd. First, one mother commented on Seven's hair (OK, they all did) and asked if the old wives tale about babies with lots of hair and reflux was true. I had never heard that before and responded that he didn't have bad reflux. And then she said that the old wives tale is about me having reflux while pregnant. So I had to explain, but it seemed natural. Another baby in the class is adopted and so we shared stories. And my doctor wanted to know how the induced lactation went and other parents wanted to hear about that.

I am at this odd place now where it is starting to feel natural to talk about Seven being adopted at relevant times (as when someone assumes I was pregnant like this party) but then afterwards spend a large amount of time going over the conversation in my head. Don't get me wrong, I don't bring up the adoption all the time, but there are times when it seems appropriate and odd to let someone assume I was pregnant. But it seems weird that it seems so natural at the moment, but then I spend so much time thinking about it. I don't know, I guess this is all just new to get used to.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Adventures in Hair

I think it is about that time for the typical transracial adoption post on hair. Let me tell you, this boy has got a lot of hair. He was born with a full head of hair and it's been growing ever since! Here he is at just a few days old. I don't think my nephews had this much hair until they were 2 years old!

Now, his hair did thin out a bit in the first two months. And certainly in the back he lost hair where it always rubbed against something while he slept on his back. But his continued to lengthen and the curls would get tangled up. People started asking when we were going to cut his hair. Eventually, we got this situation:

At first, I was all into cutting his hair. We talked about it frequently, but just never managed to get it done. One weekend we had absolutely decided to get it trimmed. And then that happened to be the weekend he was sick so the haircut had to wait. But something changed for me that weekeend. I took the delay as a sign that maybe we needed to figure out another solution. Instead of just cutting his hair as the answer, I wanted to figure out how to define the curls and take proper care of his hair.

And so began our experimentation. Now, my BIL is Black and my nieces and nephews are mixed race. So you would expect my sister to be of some help in taking care of his hair. But her advice didn't seem to work at all. And she kept saying we should just cut it or braid it. I am open to braiding it eventually, but now when he is so young, I want to keep it loose. And part of me is afraid the braids will make people think he is a girl. So we tried different products. I thought our answers might be solved when I found the Tightly Curly website. Following this guidance, one night we tried a new combination of shampoo and conditioner. The trick? We didn't wash out the conditioner but used it as a leave-in conditioner and then combed his hair with it in. And then I tried to make "doodles" with his curls. I'll be honest. I really had no clue what they meant by these doodles. It is supposed to help define each curl, but, umm, hello. He has like 10,000 curls. No way will he let me spend that much time messing with his hair. Even if he loves splashing the bath water. So I tried something out and put him to bed, waiting to see what might be the result in the morning.

And we loved it! His hair was detangled yet compact. No out of control frizzy hair! We were convinced this was the solution!

And then we took him to daycare.

Now let me back up and explain the daycare situation in regards to his hair. There are two teachers in his daycare. One teacher (who is Asian) was always telling me how the other babies loved to touch his hair. She was impressed that it was so soft and was impressed that we kept it so soft. She loved his hair. The second teacher (who is Black) had a very different impression of his hair. Now she never said anything directly, but was one of the people who was always suggesting we get it cut or commenting on his afro in less than glowing terms. I got the impression that she was gently suggesting we figure out what to do with it.

So when we took him to daycare that first day after I thought we had solved his hair problem, I was hoping this teacher might notice. And she did. But then made a more obvious statement that we need to keep working in this area. And she recommended specific products this time.

We pressed on. I think that now we have actually settled on the best solution for his age and hair now. We might need to change it in the future if his hair changes or as he gets more patience for us working on his hair. But it works for us and, as you can see, it keeps his hair looking more controlled. And we can effectively detangle it.

Here's what we do: We use just a regular baby shampoo and rinse it out. One trick I learned is that the goal is to wash his scalp and not the hair itself. The hair gets clean by the runoff from the scalp. This gets everything clean while avoiding a completely tangled mess. Then we use a coconut milk based conditioner that is designed for adults and don't rinse it out. We get a nice big glob of it and run it through his hair. First we finger comb the major tangles out and then we use the side of a wire brush to comb it out completely. By the time it is all detangled, the conditioner is well worked into his hair. And that's it. There is no "doodle" as I could never figure out really what that meant without creating more tangles. We gently pat the towel on his head and let his hair air dry. The next morning, he has nice, relatively defined curls.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Public Adoption Moment

I feel like we hit another milestone. Nothing to do with Seven per se, but we had our first public adoption encounter.  One of the things about adopting transracially is that we are obvious as an adoptive family when we are out and about. Yesterday we had quite a full day, with our church rummage sale and picnic and then an Italian festival. E is Italian and I love Italian food and wine, so we were all hanging out and enjoying the festival and nice weather. I even went grape stomping! It was fun, although I think I came in just about last place. Oh well.

Anyway, we were sitting down and enjoying some wine and music and I was feeding Seven. E left the table briefly and this woman came and sat down in his spot. She said hello to Seven and then showed me a picture of her kids on her phone. It turns out that both of her kids are adopted, one from China and the other domestic. We chatted a bit and she said they are thinking of trying for a third and going domestic again this time. We shared what our journey was like.

So that was our first time being approached due to our status as an adoptive family. It felt odd but also kinda nice. Like we were part of some secret club. Actually, it was kind of like passing the family yesterday who had their baby in a sling as I was debuting the homemade sling I made for me and Seven. Our own little club of people with something in common. We have had lots of people ask us about adoption, but it was always people who we knew, even if not very well, like an acquaintance from church or something. I have thought that we (OK-let's be honest, Seven) got a lot of smiles from African American strangers that we would see, but didn't know if I was just paying more attention to them or not. Certainly Seven gets lots of smiles and comments about how cute he is from strangers of all races.

In other news, speaking our church rummage sale. I am just a sucker now for any consignment or rummage sale. Seven will be all set next spring and summer with his new outdoor climbing structure and slide. But here is my rant. No boys clothes at all?! I've gotten used to girl clothes vastly outnumbering the boy clothes, but they had nothing at all.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Thanks for eating advice

Thank you to everyone for your great comments about Seven's eating. It really enforces that everything is a learning experience for us too. We did try avocado as one of his first solid foods, but he pretty much thought we were trying to poison him. We will try again with all the foods he has rejected and just go slowly with this transition. It is good to know that the puree stage doesn't have to last that long. I did give him a wedge of apple yesterday and while it took him a long time to trust that it is supposed to go in his mouth, he seemed to like it once it was there. It is just funny that any non-food item he is given goes straight to his mouth, but when we give him food, he is very suspicious of it.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Adventures in Eating

One of the crunchy-mama things I was going to do (you could even say it was due to the natural parenting trend that Badminter criticizes) was Baby-Led Weaning. For those of you not familiar with BLW, basically it is about not pushing purees on babies and feeding them real food (as in, food that you would eat). The goal is to develop healthy eating habits right from the start, not teach them the idea that their are "kid" foods and "adult" foods. Also, it is supposed to make mealtime more enjoyable and not a battle. I was all on board.

One of the keys to BLW is that you actually start later. There is not really a nutritional need for food other than breastmilk/formula prior to 6-7 months. There is a historical/cultural reason that purees are usually started at 4 months, but there is not a nutritional need. (FYI, for those of you following my experiment in induced lactation, that ended shortly after going back to work full-time and we are full-time bottles now). So, when people (i.e., my mother and MIL) kept pushing us to give him rice cereal as soon as he turned 4 months, I held my ground. Truth be told, I felt a little superior to all those less-informed mamas who were stuck feeding their kid rice cereal and store-bought purees. I mean, what kind of mother does that? When Seven hit 5 months, I started offering him finger-sized foods. He was not interested in them in the least. They sat, on his tray, untouched. Of course, he was also in the stage where just about anything would go straight into his mouth. But if it was actual food, he wanted it nowhere near his mouth.

What is this foreign substance you are trying to give me?
But I wasn't disheartened and continued offering him different types of vegetables. I faithfully consulted the BLW book and it said to follow his lead, offer it to him and wait for him to show interest. And besides, you are really supposed to start until 6 months anyway, so I was just being a bit early anyhow. Nothing that should make me question our approach.

Then one day I offered him broccoli. And he liked it. He really liked it! It did take him a while for him to pick it up, clearly thinking this was just another of my foolish attempts to get him to eat. But once he allowed it near his mouth, he sucked just about every nutrient off that stalk. We rejoiced! I resolved to cook nothing but stir-fry all week so he could eat all the broccoli he wanted! (poor E wanted a little bit of diversity in our meals...)

This seems like food to me.


But during this time, Seven caught some illness. He only had a fever for one day, but the, umm, digestive problems continued. And then they still continued. So I had to call the doctor for advice. What did she say? You guessed it, give him rice cereal. So there I was, mixing up the rice cereal that I was never going to give him. And when he refused to open his mouth, I didn't blame him. I considered it more like medicine anyway. I tried to show him how I ate it and liked it, but honestly, I thought it was pretty disgusting. No wonder he didn't want it! But we pressed on, following the doctor's orders.

We tried every trick in the book to get him to open his mouth for the cereal. But there was no plane, train, nor automobile that would work. Actually, it made me kinda proud to realize how smart he was. When he did something so funny he had to laugh, he quickly put his hands in front of his face as a defensive mechanism against the spoon. He learned to  turn his head and smile to get out of the line of the food.

As his digestive problem seemed to have resolved itself, I thought it was time to go back to our BLW approach. So I brought out the broccoli and now added some whole carrots to the mix. Except some tiny thing happened during this interlude with cereal. He got a tooth. (This deserves a whole celebratory post on its own, but he has a tooth!) And now when I gave him the carrot (which he loved), he started breaking off pieces of it. Pieces that put this mama into major freak-out mode. I swear my heart is still in South America as it dropped to see him coughing up this chunk of carrot. And he bit off some pretty big pieces of broccoli now, too, not just sucking the stalk.

So I had to admit that I was not ready for full BLW. I knew I couldn't go back to that until I had some assurance that he has figured out the whole swallowing thing. I sighed and put away the whole foods. But still, all was not lost. I didn't have to resort to that tacky store-bought stuff. No jarred food for my pure baby. He liked the taste of carrot, so I'll just puree my own. No big deal. Yeah, actually it is quite a big deal. No matter now much I pureed those carrots, they never got to a consistency that would stay down in his stomach.

At this point, I was feeling pretty low in my mama-abilities. I couldn't figure out how to feed my son! BLW approach led to him choking. Even my own purees were not working. And he refused even rice cereal, which was a doctor's orders. So feeling pretty low, I purchased a few jars of baby food. I pretty much felt like I was giving up everything I believed in, but was desperate to feel like I could start the transition to real food. And you know what? He loved it. OK, maybe love is a bit extreme. But when I opened up that jar of store-bought pureed carrots, he opened his mouth and then swallowed. And it stayed down! I didn't have to trick him into opening his mouth. He didn't spit it back out as soon as I did manage to get a spoonful in. He ate it and then smiled.
Yummy

So lesson learned. Don't judge decisions that other mamas are making. If it works for 90% of babies, it will probably be just fine for mine. And do what works for your family.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Holiday season?

I know the Christmas season begins earlier every year, but I was still surprised to see wrapping paper and nametags in the store today. I thought it was too early to buy a Halloween costume even. Yet we got sucked in. I promise we went in only for diapers and formula. That costume just jumped into our shopping cart. And I may or may not have purchased a three foot tall stuffed Rudolph with a nose that lights up.

Somebody's going to be spoiled this holiday season.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Very Important Election

Please forgive me this election-related post. But I just can't keep quiet any more. There are very important matters at stake in this upcoming election and you need to make an informed decision about the person who will have such a profound impact on our future. The stakes have never been higher than they are now and most people are ill-informed about the candidates.

That's right. I'm talking about the County Clerk election.

I am not sure how it works in other countries, but here in the USA, the person who oversees much of the daily workings of the county court system is an elected position. Most of us probably don't even know who our county clerk is. The only thing I could tell you about my county clerk is that he replaced someone who was run out of office for calling in sick about 3 out of every 4 days. But that gives you a sense of how little attention we pay to the county clerk. The only time we take notice is when you fail so miserably at even showing up for the job.

But I am learning this year there is one very important thing that county clerks have authority over:  Adoptions.

And this is how I've learned first-hand how important it is to elect the right people to this job. And by right people, I basically mean people who understand and are willing to follow the law. Because there is nothing really unusual about our adoption situation. Our lawyer is completely perplexed because there is nothing he sees about our case that would cause anyone to flag it or give it any closer look than any other adoption case. Everything that has happened has clearly followed the law, not even dropping into any gray areas. But yet not one, but two county clerks (in different counties) seem unable to understand what is going on with our situation.

You may remember the drama over the first county clerk that held us up in Seven's birth state, unable to leave the state even though we had passed ICPC. That clerk just refused to deal with us at all. Well, we eventually got a county to accept our petition, but now the clerk is worried about how the birthfather was served. The lawyer is trying to convince that it was completely acceptable (which it was-no gray area). But the worst case scenario is that the county clerk require us to serve him AGAIN. Which would mean another 30 days of being on pins and needles wondering what will happen.

County clerks are elected officials. The only way they are held accountable is at the ballot box. There are guidelines they are supposed to follow and this little thing called the law that should be the foundation of everything they do. But as long as they keep getting elected, they can do whatever they want.

So the next time an election for county clerk comes along, be sure you do your homework and vote for the most qualified candidate. Don't skip over it to focus on the more high profile posts like president, Congress, or mayor (I'll admit to being guilty of that in the past). Who you elect as county clerk can have real implications for families.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Screen Time

My relationship with screens has evolved over time. At one point in my life, I watched TV all.the.time. I knew every episode of every show. But more recently, I hardly watch TV at all. Or at least I don't pay attention to it. I rarely watch specific shows and can hardly remember the days/times of the shows I mean to watch.  But yet we still had the TV on almost all the time. For example, right now, E and I are both paying close attention to our laptops while sitting on the couch, vaguely listening to the TV in the background. That's pretty much been our screen time recently, with the occasional swap of iPad for laptop.

Things evolved yet again when Seven came into our lives. I pretty much spent my entire maternity leave catching up on years of TV (thank you Hulu!). Seven insisted on being held all the time, often being fed, and so using the laptop (which required my hands) was not a great option. But TV was on all the time.

Until one day, when Seven suddenly appeared to take notice of it. It happened right at the end of my leave, so we turned off the TV for good. The plan was to not let him watch TV. Of course, we were on our various electronics all the time, but somehow TV seemed different.  We did not set any absolute rules or make a decision about how long the TV would be off, but we most definitely did not want to have it on as background to daily life. And since TV was not really a big deal for us, we didn't think anything was being lost.

The hard part was getting the rest of the family to recognize how the interact with TV. My ILs in particular. They have the TV on all the time. All the time. Sometimes they mute it, but even during dinner, the picture is on. My philosophy is "someone else's home, someone else's rules," so I never said anything about it before. But bringing Seven other to their house was a challenge. They did make an effort to use the TV less, but they are so used to having it on, that they don't always notice it.

We do have one funny story about the TV and Seven. The first exception we made about having the TV on when he was still awake was the day of the mass shooting in the Colorado movie theater. We wanted to watch the news to learn what was happening and so turned on the TV. After several minutes of reporting on what happened, they had a segment about the tragedy's impact on kids. A psychologist was interviewed to talk about how to help children through this. The first piece of advice? Don't let them watch the news about it! The sensational nature of news will do more harm than goods to young children. Seven had been playing on his playmat when we turned the TV on. We look over at him and he was absolutely enthralled with the news. Couldn't take his eyes away! Yeah, we pretty much felt like the worst parents ever.

As for other screens, I am less sure what to do. I do think there are ways kids can interact and learn from apps on the computer or iPad/iPhone. But too much of anything can be a bad thing. When I see iPhone covers designed for kids (shaped like monsters, with easy kid handles), I get worried that the benefits of these learning activities are overwhelmed by the use of them as babyminders. This may very well be something I totally do once Seven gets older. But as with the idea of the TV as a bad babysitter, the problem with screen time is not the screens themselves or the programs on them. It is the absence of a parent/adult paying attention to the child.

This post is part of the PAIL monthly theme.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Milestone...ugh

Well, we've made it past yet another milestone, although this one was not so cheery. Poor little Seven had his first real illness. There was at least one other infant in his class that was sick, so this is due to his daycare. In the grand scheme of things, it was not so bad. His fever was never above 100 and there was no vomiting (although some of the most disgusting diapers ever!). But it was just so heartbreaking to see him so lethargic and disinterested in anything. When he finally started feeling better, his smile was the best thing in the world.

Yet another milestone has to do with my mother. After years of being the child she gets to see as a bonus when visiting my sister and her grandkids, the script has changed and she is planning a trip where the primary purpose is to see me (OK, Seven). My mom is really great, and doesn't play favoriates, but it is nice to finally be the main attraction.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Women and Mothers: No Conflict

I am participating in the PAIL book club. This month we read "The Conflict: How Modern Motherhood Undermines the Status of Women" by Elisabeth Badminter. I was really looking forward to reading this book because there is something about the expectation on mothers these days that ratchets up the stress and anxiety and I wanted to explore. But I think the author completely misses the bigger picture. The cynical part of me thinks she was so eager to blame feminism for "ruining motherhood" that she overlooked larger social forces that I think are driving these changes.

Here's how I see the situation. There is a large general trend of raising the stakes and increasing the expectations on parents, and mothers in particular. Since Seven was born, I've had many conversations with my mom and grandmother about decisions we are making. Their response was always along the line, "yeah, we did that, but it was no big deal" or "I remember that, we just didn't have a term for it." Just think of all the time new mothers or mothers to be spend researching parenting styles (attachment, free range, baby wearing, babywise, etc). How much time have you spent trying to make the absolute perfect decision about some aspect of raising your baby? When in the large scale, these decisions really don't matter. But they seem such high stakes and so important to get right! This is the rise of helicopter parenting, where even those who disavow helicopter parenting, do so on purpose by adopting a contrasting parenting style. But yet it is all part of the same tendency to believe we can engineer perfect children.

Another symptom of this societal trend about motherhood is the rise of mommy bloggers (of which I guess I am now a part). I think women (at least some of them) have always stayed at home taking care of the home and children. Maybe doing some crafts or other activities. But it seems now the pressure is not just to do these things (even if you also work outside the home) but to do them online to showcase your achievements. I say this not to criticize mothers (I do all these things, too!) but to point out that even though we haven't achieved the elusive family-work balance, mothers are expected to get home from work, decorate some cake pops, feed their family an organic meal, "help" their child write that college essay to get into Stanford, all while driving the other kids to Olympic development sports activities, cloth diapering, and blogging about it (and in heels!).

I view the cause of this change not on feminism or naturalism, but in larger social forces that emphasize individual achievement, competition, and mass consumer goods. As a culture, we prize competitive individual achievement so that you are only valued for your latest achievement. Or the latest achievement of your kids. We are over busy and over scheduled, striving to distinguish ourselves. It is hard to just be happy with simple pleasures. Do you enjoy running? That's great, when are you doing a marathon? Do you enjoy writing? Terrific, there's a national book writing month so you can get that book published. You mean you cook and you don't blog your favorite recipes? These are small ways that our culture is sending a message that we can't just enjoy things. We have to excel at them and rack up accomplishments. And with consumer goods no longer being enough to distinguish ourselves (who doesn't have a gucci purse, or at least a good knock-off these days), I think of children as the new status symbol.  We pump so much effort into our children because they become extensions of ourselves. Their achievements become our achievements. Badminter even acknowledges this on page 13 when she says "'I want everything' becomes 'I must do everything for my child.'"

Naturalism, which the author devotes a lot of time to in the book, is to me a subtheme of this larger trend. The pressure to be natural is one that puts a lot of pressure on people in general, not just mothers. And even not just parents. Just look at all the organic food stores in  urban hipster neighborhoods that tend to have more single people than families.

Another broad social force that she overlooks is the well known psychological burden of choice. This has been shown to affect men and women, about even mundane things like what type of toothpaste to buy. Even though we think we want choices, often we have too many choices these days, and it creates a psychological paralysis. Going from one to three options for something may make us happier because we can buy something that better suits us. But now we've moved from three to 12 choices and it is overwhelming to know how to choose.

Also, I found the argument pretty thin and hard to follow. And the evidence was rather spotty. France was held up as an example. But of what, I was never clear. She made a big point about how the birth rates in France ran counter to trends in other countries, but the table she presents puts them very much in line with several other countries. It just seemed she was trying to pin a lot on a thin evidence base.

OK, now the PAIL questions:

  • Would you call yourself a feminist (either publicly or as you think about yourself), and do you think that choice influences how you read this book?
    • Yes. I am most definitely a feminist. What that means to me is that I believe in equality between women and men. I believe that women should have the same options as men. It also means that I see women and men making different choices, I question whether there is an underlying tension that is shaping these choices. I am also sensitive to statements made about women without also thinking about whether they apply to men.
    • I also think this influenced how I read this book because I had a gut reaction to the assumption that motherhood and woman-hood are fundamentally at odds. I don't believe that any desires I have as an individual woman (such as to succeed in my career) are at odds with being a good mother. There is not something inherent in wanting to do something outside of raising kids that makes you a bad mother, any more than doing something outside of raising kids makes my husband a bad father. In fact, I think having interests outside of motherhood make me a better mother.
  • What was your motivation for having a child? Badinter seems to think that most women do not really articulate their reasons, and those who do think it through often decide it is too onerous to have a child, at least in many societies. Did your experience of infertility force you to evaluate your motivations and expectations for motherhood? Do you think this influenced your experience of motherhood?
    • I admit I can't give a detailed reason for having a child other than a desire to nurture a child. But I don't think that is a problem. Why do we need a reason? Are some reasons better than others?
    • It is onerous to have a child. Maybe onerous is not the right word. But it takes significant financial and emotional resources to raise a child. Not to mention the resources it takes to have/adopt a child in the face of infertility. That doesn't mean I wouldn't do it again in a heartbeat. 
    • But I also don't question women who look at the pros and cons and decide they (and any potential children) are better off if they become mothers. 
    • The reason I think most women don't have "good" reasons to have a child is that it is not a conscious choice for many women. Yes, there are plenty of people who decide one day to try to get a baby; some are successful right away and others are not. But there are still many women who find themselves pregnant without intending to and so start the journey to motherhood. The NY Times recently had a story that highlighted that most births to women under 30 are to single women (not married couples). Many of these women go on to be wonderful mothers, but that doesn't change that they probably didn't spend any time thinking up reasons for or against having a child before becoming pregnant.
  • Badinter condemns the movement towards breastfeeding as forcing women to make themselves available to their babies constantly. How have you experienced breastfeeding (or not breastfeeding)? Are you someone who is happy to be at her child’s beck and call, or have you found ways to be an individual and a mother? How have societal expectations influenced your decisions?
    • Not being able to breastfeed was one of my biggest concerns about adopting. I know many women relish being pregnant. But pregnancy was never that big a deal to me. Breastfeeding was. I did go through a lot of effort to do adoptive breastfeeding. For a while, there was nothing that made me feel more like Seven's mother than breastfeeding him. That is, until he got a little older and started attaching to ME and not just my breast. I do think my experience with adoptive breastfeeding made me less militant about breastfeeding than I would otherwise be. I did let breastfeeding stop me from getting out and about with my newborn. In fact, I think being a mother through adoption more generally has influenced me from feeling too "tied down" with the baby. I have friends who isolated themselves with their babies, too overwhelmed to do anything. But we were living in a hotel, lacked a basic support system those first two weeks, and had to figure things out for ourselves. Staying inside all day wasn't really an option.
  • There are several points in the book in which Badinter categorizes women (or cites other authors’ categories). Do you feel you can be typed? Have your ideas of what you find fulfilling changed since you had your first child?
    • I am a crunchy, creative intellectual. There are certainly types I fall into. Using typologies doesn't bother me. I do think she made many assumptions about women in these typologies on very little data. Her categories were so broad that the variation within them is huge.
  • Do you consider yourself a “naturalist” when it comes to motherhood and child-rearing, and if so did you feel hurt/offended by this book? Did it make you question your decision to be a naturalist parent or stir up feelings of regret? Do you feel the author made some good points, topics for discussion, or did you just want to hurl her book against a hard brick wall?
    • Yes, I am a naturalist. I eat organic as much as possible and want to be as natural as possible. I was not offended by the book as a naturalist. I do think she misses the mark in many ways about it. My husband is very much a naturalist as well, yet there is no acknowledgement that men/fathers may also value being natural.As I note above, I think naturalism is just a part of a larger societal trend.
  • Do you feel the author is right to assume that there is always a struggle or negotiation for women between their role and desires as women and their role and desires as mothers?
    • Not at all. This was one of my biggest complaints with the book. I don't see my desires as an individual as in conflict with my role as a mother. At least not inherently. I see larger societal forces that ratchet up the expectations on women and on mothers that creates the illusion of conflict only because demands are for perfection.
  • If you left the workforce to be home with your kids, temporarily or permanently, did you find the need to continually rationalize your decision to yourself and others? Do you/did you feel pressure to return to the workplace or vise versa and have you ever felt threatened or made vulnerable by a dependence on your spouse for income?
    • I returned to work after only a short parental leave. This was not an issue for me, other than the sense that I am supposed to feel guilty about it.
  • Did you find yourself agreeing with Badinter’s assessment that if you fail to be a natural parent who eschews drugs during birth, breastfeeds, cloth diapers etc. society deems you an unfit mother?
    • Yes, but I think society's judgment also comes down on people as bad parents for things other than not being natural. Think your kid should write his own book report? Don't want to spend every day transporting kids to sports practice? I also think these are mostly problems by more affluent parents.
  • Badinter makes a poignant point regarding women who experience infertility and are childless, stating that “those who can’t have children are expected to put up with it nobly.” As someone who has experienced loss and infertility, how did that statement make you feel? 
    • I disagree. I think that women who don't have kids are considered odd and their status as women are questioned. They should "just adopt".
  • Badinter talks a lot about family-friendly policies around the world, sometimes intended to shrink the equality gap between mothers and fathers–she uses Sweden as one of the most progressive examples. Do you think it’s possible for any government policy to bring equality to the sexes? Or does the role that mothers play trump any attempt to level the field?
    • I think government policy can help to bring equality between the sexes. I disagree with the assumption behind the second question. This is my feminist side coming out. I don't think that there is anything inherent about being a mother that precludes equality between the sexes. If men can find a way to be both breadwinners and fathers, women can do the same. If a couple decides they want one parent to stay home (and I can see the benefit to that even if we didn't go that route), I wish it was not always the woman that ended up doing so. I wish the US adopted many of the family friendly policies that are seen in other countries. That, to me, exemplifies family values, much more so than what is usually put under than label.
  • Does it matter you, as a mother, that your choice to breastfeed, stay home etc. might undermine your status as a woman? Do you feel it’s your duty to help further the status of women by not giving into the pressures of modern motherhood?
    • Again, I disagree with the premise of this question. I don't think being a mother and being a woman are at odds. When I do feel these pressures, I ask myself whether the decision I am making is really my true desire, or something that society is telling me I should want.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Being a working mom

Through all the years we tried so hard to become parents, I always assumed I would go back to work after my initial maternity leave. It wasn't even something we ever really gave much thought to. The discussion always revolved around how long of a leave I would take, not whether I would return at all. And now that we are finally parents and I am a mama, I find it odd to call myself a working mama. It's not that I wish I could stay home. But applying the term "working mother" to myself puts me smack dab in the middle of endless debates between working mothers and stay at home mothers. I am usually game for a good debate, yet don't want to be part of this powder keg.

Here's my dirty secret. I don't think I would be a very good stay at home mom. I am quite happy with how we have things arranged now. While I do wish I could spend more time with him, I also relish my daytime life and the stimulation it brings. You see, I'm a nerd. I like thinking about hard and complex problems and learning new things. The biggest thoughts Seven has right now are around how to get his foot into his mouth. As adorable as he is, I can only blow raspberries with him for so long. That's why I feel like we hit the jackpot with our daycare situation so I can see Seven during lunch for some fun and cuddle time and then head back to work for intellectual stimulation.

I've just come to this realization with the blow up over new Yahoo CEO. You may have heard that this company with huge problems just hired a CEO who is pregnant with her first child. But what was really hitting the airwaves was her statement that her maternity leave would only be a few weeks and she would work throughout it. The reaction of nearly everyone was that she is so naive and will surely change her plans or suffer the consequences. Everyone assumed she was completely off her hinges for planning such a short leave. Doesn't she know how hard it will be? Doesn't she know that she will just want to cocoon with her baby in a mother-baby bliss for months on end? My reaction to reading all of these reactions was defensive. Part of it was realizing, hello, she is incredibly privileged and will have every assistance a new parent might want. A nanny, a chef, a housekeeper. It's not like this CEO will be doing any of her new baby's laundry whether or not she has a long maternity leave.

But even more than that, I resisted the idea that all new mothers will want to spends alone with their new baby. I love Seven fiercely. Yet spending time away is healthy for me, and thus for him. I realized the reason I've been feeling guilty since I returned to work. Guilt for a working mother is par for the course, right? Except I wasn't feeling guilty about putting him in daycare. It is a wonderful place and after a transition period, he is very happy there. They take good care of him and I visit every day. I felt guilty for not feeling guilty. Am I so unlike all other mothers for not feeling guilty? I felt like every time I read something about how women really want to spend 6 months or a year with their new baby or sob every time they drop him off at daycare, it was society calling me a bad mother. Even though I didn't feel like one.

In the end, I'm glad the Yahoo CEO is making the choice that she is because it lets other women admit that some of us are excited to get back to work.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Family building

OK, so I realize I am one of the cliches now. A new parent who now has to start every blog with an apology for not blogging more regularly. Sorry.

I have been thinking about what I want to do with this blog. I want to continue to participate in the blogging world, not only the many friends I made in the infertility/RPL community, but also the adoption community I've found more recently. But, I also want to respect Seven's privacy and not post all these details about him. I've settled on wanting to blog about being a mother through adoption and a mother after (and still) experiencing infertility. So, Seven will make cameo appearances in my posts, but they won't be about him so much as my experience as his mother.

With this new identity, I want to address the PAIL monthly theme: planning for the second child. We have always planned on having two kids. Or, more specifically, E thinks 1 or 2 kids is ideal and I think 2 or 3 kids is ideal, so we settled on 2 as something we both agree on.

I think about starting the wait for a second child all the time. Of course, with Seven only being 4 months old and his adoption not yet finalized, we are in no position right now to actually go down that path. But it is a topic that occupies a large chunk of my thoughts. I love Seven dearly and want to enjoy this special time with him, especially now as he is so cuddly and fun at this age. Yet when I think about money, I think about how we can save up money for #2. When I think about changing jobs, I think about how that might interact with plans for #2. When I think about how Seven is outgrowing some clothes and will soon outgrow some toys, I think about saving them for a future child. And so on. I think about it all the time.

Being the nerd that I am, I then think about why I think about it so much. I've come down to this. I want the family building stage to be over. I don't particularly want kids that are super close in age, but I want to be done with family building and reach that feeling that my family is complete. And I feel that infertility and the adoption process is the reason. It is a stressful process and I just want it behind us. As long as we are still wanting more kids, infertility is the elephant in the room that hangs over my head, taunting me with what my body won't do. I still want the control that eluded me for so long from infertility and the adoption process and hope (naively?) that I can regain control once our family is complete and that uncertainty is behind us. (Yeah, I've already learned that parenthood itself makes a mockery of control, but still...).

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Rolling, rolling rolling...

Ahem. Yes,  I am still here. It seems I've fallen into the usual condition of bloggers who recently became parents. Because while I do manage to read blogs, I seem to not be able to find the time to comment much or give an update here. I will admit that part of my lack of updating is that it was hard to figure out what to blog about. I mean Seven has been changing all the time, so there was everything to update. But yet in some ways it seemed like nothing to update. I mean, how do you choose what to highlight when it seems like everything is different.

But today was a milestone. It started about 3 weeks ago when I went to check on Seven sleeping and noticed he had rolled from his back to his side. First it was a rare occurrence. And then in the past week he started rolling to his side regularly. We were happy with his progress and E predicted he would roll over all the way in another 2 weeks.

And then today I heard from my sister that my niece who is 5 weeks older than Seven first rolled over a month ago. My competitive juices started flowing. I decided he needed a little coaching. This evening I rolled him over to show him how it was done. Then we let him go at it. E was using the mirror to motivate him to go to his side. He was looking so good rolling over to side again and again that I got out the camera to film him. Even just rolling to his side was cute. I switched to video and then 30 seconds later he rolled all the way over! We were speechless and then cheered. I think Seven got a little overwhelmed about why we were so excited. It was so funny. But we are so proud of our roller!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

3 months

Our dear Seven is 3 months old today! It seems like it has been much longer but also such a whirlwind. Yesterday I visited my campus coffeehouse for the first time since coming back to work. I used to visit nearly every day before Seven's birth.  They remembered my order! At first I thought, "wow, it's been over 4 months since I've been here and they still remember-what great service!" And then I remembered, it's only been 3 months. Yeah, I know how old my baby is...

Seven is changing all the time. It is funny because we get so many comments that he is so small. And it is true that he is small for his age and still pretty young. So as babies go, the truth is he is small. But every time I hear someone say that, I think it is strange because he seems so big to me now. His body seems to have grown much more than the mere 3 inches the official length as increased. His legs are almost always extended now and he has a neck now. He is alert for most of the day. Much different from the scrunched up sleeping ball of baby we brought home from the hospital.

Seven definitely knows his mama. And yes, I love it. His smile lights up his whole face and he loves getting kisses. He often has this look on his face like he is trying to say something but it just won't come out. He is quite a smart little baby. He met some older kids who were blowing bubbles and when they put the wand up to his mouth, you could tell he knew what to do but couldn't figure out how to get his mouth to do the right thing.

He likes being outside and seeing the world go by. We try to enjoy the nice weather we are having by eating outside when we can and going for short hikes. He really likes his rattle, although prefers to put it in his mouth rather than shake it. He is slowing starting to like taking a bath. What he loves most of all are funny noises and singing. Nothing calms him down like me singing his name in this certain melody I created. And trust me, my vocals don't exactly wow most crowds. But he loves it.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Daycare update

Sorry for the lengthy time with no update. Now that Seven is alert for most of the day and ready to play, I just don't have the time to blog! He's now had several days at daycare and it is wonderful to have him just a few buildings away, even though I would love to be with him all day long. I was worried about how he has handled the transition. The place is really nice, but he always seemed so subdued when I visited and picked him up at the end of the day. And he wouldn't smile at me when I picked him up. He was having trouble sleeping there so I could rationalize that he was just so tired by the end of the day. But the irrational part of me was worried, like what happened to my happy baby-he is punishing me for using daycare?!

So today I was elated to hear that he took a two hour nap in the afternoon and then he was all smiles when I picked him up. I brought in a swaddle blanket for him and that seemed to do the trick. We only use the swaddle at night when he is at home, but the added security must help him during the day.

The other good news is that he did his first art project today. It is just a bunch of smears of red paint, but it is his smears!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Celebration

Today is a day for celebration!


E from Many, Many Moons finally has her sweet baby daughter. Please go over and wish her new family well. I can't believe that it was only 2 months ago when we were heading home ourselves with our new baby. E is in for an amazing ride!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Growing Boy

Seven had his 2 month check up today and was a champ. He was all smiles for the nurse and was getting a bit bored with the whole thing by the time the doctor came in but still found a smile for her. He is now 10 pounds, 12 ounces and 22 inches long. He is still on the small side, but staying on his growth curve. And then came his first round of shots. We waited quite a long time for the nurse to come back in and he was fussy already when she arrived. He was hungry and sucked down the oral vaccine they had. I held his hands and talked to him through the shots but he cried hard. It was so hard to see him so upset. But then I nursed him and he quieted down pretty quickly. Eventually he fell asleep and has been sleeping for the past hour. Hopefully the rest of the day goes well!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Beautiful weekend

The weather was just about perfect this weekend and we took full advantage of it. After breakfast out on our new patio, we went for a hike. Well, "hike" might be a glorified term for what we did, but it was a nice walk through wooded area. I carried Seven in our front carrier. We faced him forward for the first time and he really enjoyed looking at all the new trees and birds we saw.

Today we had not one, but two, picnics. The first was hosted by our agency with all their current and prospective adoptive families. It was a lot of fun and everyone loved meeting Seven. There was one other couple from our group training there who has a child already and it was great to hear about their story. We hope to set up some playdates soon.

Then we went to our parish picnic. That was another fun time, especially because just this morning in church, Seven was fussy and I had gone to the back to calm him down and he fell asleep. Since this was during communion, I was the last person to go and had a sleeping baby in my arms. Everyone at the picnic kept saying how adorable he was sleeping.

What a perfect weekend!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Sleeping update

Seven's sleeping has continued to go relatively well, although not always consistent. At least he does well enough, and E and I have a system, so that we don't feel too sleep deprived. Basically, we trade off who is responsible for getting up with Seven during the night. One night, I will get up the first time he wakes up and E will get up the second time. So if Seven sleeps all night or only gets up once, one of us could get a full night's sleep.

The problem with that plan is that I am a horrible mother. OK, not really, but I am a heavy sleeper. And it makes me feel horrible that even when I am responsible for getting up with Seven, E has to wake me up when he cries. Yes, I am probably the only mother in the world that sleeps right through her baby crying.

So now I'm trying to put a positive spin on my lack of maternal instincts. Last night, for example, it allowed us to realize that Seven has started putting himself back to sleep. It was my turn to get up with Seven's first waking. E pokes me at about 1:30 saying he his crying. I try to listen to the monitor and don't hear anything. E insists he was crying. I heard a couple of murmurs and waited to see if would lead something more. And it didn't. I went to check on him and he was sleeping. He didn't need attention until after 4am (which was 7 hours of sleep)!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Mobile

Every day, Seven is seeming less like a newborn and more like an infant. He sits up really well when we prop him. He's noticed his hands and control them pretty well. He hardly ever has that reflexive shake he used to have. Now, Seven is starting to get mobile! The first thing I noticed was that he turns himself like a clock while sleeping. I have no idea how that happens, but I might put him down all swaddled up with his head pointing north and find his head pointing south when I check on him later. Next I noticed him scooting himself down while on his back. If I put him on his back in the center of his playmat, he will slowly scoot down so his legs are off the mat. This is big news as it means he can scoot himself off something and fall if we don't watch him.

E insists he is rolling over to his side. I'm not so convinced as all of these instances have been when he is on a cushion where one of us was basically providing a downward slope due to where we were sitting. It's much easier to roll when you are heading downhill.

And now this morning, I went to check on him and he had moved from the center of his crib to right up against the side. Uh oh, now I need to start worrying about him getting stuck in the side of his crib.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Child Care Update

While I was anxiously waiting for my ILs to return with a very upset Seven the other day, I got a call that there is a place for him at the child care center at my place of work. This was great news in a bad day. This center is highly desirable, subsidized slightly by my employer, and located right next to where I work. Seriously, it takes me longer to get to my car than to where he will be.

The tricky part is that we had already secured a place for him at a Montessori school that we really liked. I checked out the employer child care today and it was quite good. I can see why most people on campus see getting a spot there as hitting the lottery. Usually the wait is almost two years. Comparing the two programs in terms of personnel and program, there are various things we liked better at each place. The Montessori school will work with cloth diapers while the other place won't. But the location and price difference really give the place near my office a major advantage.

In other news, my ILs watched Seven again today, this time staying at our house rather than going to their home. It went much better today. He ate and slept well, and was happy most of the day. Needless to say, all of us were much happier.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Transition

I did want to share what we did on Mother's Day because it was quite eventful. It started off with a bang as E sprained his ankle on the way into church. It was raining and he was trying to hurry in with Seven. He insists he did not drop him, so I'll just say he put him down very quickly. Seven was in the car seat carrier and was only one or two feet off the ground, so he was OK.

After church, we went home so he could ice his ankle for a bit and then went to Starb.ucks. We enjoyed hanging out and making him laugh. Here is a picture of mommy and Seven playing:



We then met E's parents for brunch. We had been to this place for the past few years, but it was not up to par this year. We spent a little bit of time at their house before heading home. I then took Seven to my knit and crochet group. It was a fun time because this group has heard my updates every month and it was nice to have them meet Seven.

This week has been one of transition as I started back at work. Yeah, we are rethinking how we are doing this transition. E stayed home with him on Monday and it was OK, although Seven was fussier than normal. Tuesday, Nana and Grandpa picked up Seven to watch him at their house. And it did not go so well. Seven seemed happy at first, but I think the new surroundings were making it hard for him to sleep and that made him cranky. So they brought him home at lunch time. It was hard because they were worried he was sick since he was crying so much and so I just wanted to see him and hold him and see what is going on with him. But he was fine once he got home and was able to nurse. So we are rethinking how we are going to transition him and finding ways for me to be home more than we had planned at first.


Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Big Day

Mother's Day. So it's here. It seems I should be excited. At least that's what my friends and family keep saying. Your first Mother's Day is supposed to be a big one. Real meaningful. But in truth, the most I can say is that I am not dreading it. This will be the first Mother's Day in a long time where I didn't spend it in a constant protective stance.


I am not more worthy of honor today than I was 3 months ago. I don't deserve platitudes or flowers. After so many years of being cut out of this day, I've realized that it is just a day. It is nice to recognize what our mothers do/have done for us. But we don't need to pump up the day with all the pageantry and idolatry that is currently there. Last year I promised that if we should ever get the child we prayed so much for, I would spend the day teaching him about the person I want him to become. He is too young right now to participate in any service, so instead I will make a contribution to our local library to honor Seven (not me) and the imaginative and intellectually curious person I hope he will be.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Sleeping

I was a little worried that Seven's feat of sleeping through the night was just due to an overly busy weekend. But he's made great progress over this week. In the last week, he's had 3 nights with no wakings before 5am (which is sleeping through the night from my perspective, even if I would like to sleep a little longer!) and the other nights he had 6-7 hours of straight sleep. On our first night with him in his room and us in our room (which are on different floors), we kept waking up to check on him just in case the monitor was not working. It was working just fine, he just wanted to sleep. I have no idea how to tell people what we did to get here, but apparently he likes his crib in his own room way more than the pack and play in our room.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Showing off cloth diapers

OK, I have this irrational competition with my little sister. Not with my older sister, but with my younger one. I can't explain why it is. I am much closer in age to my older sister, so you would think I would be more competitive with her. I think part of it is that my younger sister and I are more similar in some ways. Anyway, I was super excited that she came out last weekend for Seven's baptism. And because I knew she did not use cloth diapers on either of her kids, I had to show off his cuteness in the diapers. So I saved my cutest diapers for the first day she was here. It was a hot day so at one point he was wearing just a onesie and a diaper. My SIL was holding him and asked why we were covering up his shorts. She thought it was cute and said we should put it outside the onesie. That's when I pointed out that that was his diaper. They were so impressed. I got out a clean one and showed it off to them. I'm not sure they were convinced to start using them, but it was fun showing them off!

The other good CDing news is that we found a daycare for Seven (I can't believe I have to go back to work next week!) and they will work with cloth diapers. His grandparents will be watching him for several days over the next few weeks, and I am not sure they are sold on the cloth diapers, but at least we won't be making a big switch to disposables for daycare.

I do have to admit that cloth diapers are addicting. I find myself always wanting to buy some cute diaper or wetbag online. I have to keep holding myself back! He is solidly in cloth diapers now, except for overnight. He did stay all night in a cloth diaper in his first time sleeping through the night because we did not expect him to go to sleep for the whole night. Two weeks ago, we were buying a bunch of stuff at BRU and E wanted to get more diapers. I was hesitant because the only package they had in his current size was a pack of 60. I knew he would not be in that size much longer, so I didn't want to buy such a big pack. So he bought a smaller pack at the grocery store the next day. But we are still only halfway through that pack. It is getting tight to use those diapers, but I don't want to waste the disposables we did buy. Now that he is ready to move up in size in disposables, I might try to keep him in cloth overnight.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Busy weekend

We've had quite a busy few days. And a lot of visitors. My sister graduated from college on Saturday. This is quite an achievement as she had to drop out many years ago to raise her kids. It was hard for her to find time (and money) to go back, and I am so proud that she did so. Most of the family came to see her graduation.

Since all this family was coming into town, E and I decided to plan Seven's baptism for this weekend. We asked my cousins to be his godparents, so my aunt and cousins also came for the weekend. So after a full day on Saturday, we all woke up early on Sunday for his baptism. It was beautiful and he did so well during mass. The baptismal outfit I made for him (with some last minute help from my grandmother) was terrific.



With the celebrations attached to these events, it was quite a full weekend. Seven got to meet so many new relatives. The cutest was finally getting Seven together with his two young cousins. As I've mentioned, both my sister and SIL had baby girls two days apart. They are about 5 weeks older than Seven. In my completely objective opinion, Seven is the cutest of the bunch (but they are all cuties!).


Here they are in matching hats I made them. It is hard to believe that the two girls on each side on Seven are only 2 days apart.

The other momentous news: Seven slept through the night! With all the family in town, we put him to sleep in the crib in his nursery for the first time as E and I slept on the floor there since we had to give up our bed to company. Technically he woke up when we transferred him from his carseat to the crib, but he went right back to sleep. If we don't include that, he slept for 9 straight hours! We were so happy. I guess all we need to do is tire him out with tons of new people. 

Monday, April 30, 2012

He Loves His Mommy

Yesterday, Seven started showing a preference for me. Seven was fussy in church and E took him to the back to calm him down. When they were gone for a while, I went back to check on them. Seven was still crying and as soon as I held him, he quieted right down.  E was embarrassed and said all the mothers back there probably thought he was a horrible dad since he couldn't calm Seven down but I did right away. I told him it was impressive that he even went back there.

Last night Seven was fussing again for E and I walked by and talked to him and he calmed down. But he started fussing again when I left and poor E said "Daddy loves you, too, Seven."

I felt bad for E because he was upset. But really, I loved it.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Seven on Seven

Seven is seven weeks old today. To celebrate, here are seven thoughts:

1. Yesterday, his cord stump FINALLY fell off. I stopped doing anything to it at all and it shriveled up quickly. I was so happy to see it gone. There was one tiny piece that was still there, but it is starting to get covered up by his belly button as it shrinks. Tomorrow he will get his first real bath!

2. I only have 2.5 more weeks until my leave is up. I am really enjoying our time together (and let's be honest, my time off work) and am sad to see it ending soon. I've also started the daycare search. My employer offers high quality child care on campus at a great rate, but the waiting list is long. We put our name on the list near the start of our adoption wait and are currently close to the top of the list. They sounded optimistic that we could get a spot over the summer, but we need to find something until then. I toured one place today that seemed good, but need something to compare it to.

3. Seven gets his first shots in 5 weeks, so we are using a combination of Daddy and grandparents to care for him until then. We have not been keeping him away from crowds until he has his first shots as I heard some parents do, but daycare is another story and we don't want to risk that.

4. We are planning Seven's baptism in 10 days. We planned it for the day after my sister graduates from college, so lots of family will be in town to celebrate. Some friends from church recently visited the middle east on a holy land tour and brought us holy water from the Jordan River to use in his baptism. I am making his outfit from material from my wedding dress (my grandmother made my dress, so there is leftover material). So it will be a special day all around.

5. I weighed Seven on our super-accurate scale (our Wii Fit). He was about 9.5 pounds. No wonder we are putting away his newborn clothes! He is growing so quickly.

6. A few years ago, E and I attended a weekend group session on dealing with infertility. I kept in touch with one woman from that group. They adopted a baby boy and were a terrific resource for us. After several miscarriages, they also just gave birth to a little girl. Seven and I went to visit them this week and had a great time. Or at least I did, Seven ate and slept through the whole visit.

7. My friend lives near E's office and so Seven paid his first visit to Daddy's office. E loved showing him off to all his coworkers!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Cloth diaper change

Here is Seven in his very first cloth diaper:


Today we participated in the great cloth diaper change. For those of you who haven't heard about, this is a network that is trying to set a world record of changing cloth diapers all around the world. We did have fun going, but E thought it could have been a scene out of a cheesy romantic comedy.* From the massive construction that blocked not one but two routes into that part of town to the musician playing her guitar and singing with a four year old, you can almost hear the screen writers in their planning room. He was waiting for Hugh Grant to walk in. The way we had to raise our hand with the diaper and then just our hand and then raise the baby with the cloth diaper on, it would have been great fodder for comedy. And then we finished the scene in our head when Seven got hungry at the end and I whipped out his formula packet to make a bottle. That seemed exactly the wrong thing to do with this crowd (although no one appeared to care).

This was our first outing with the cloth diapers. And since we didn't go home right away, we had to change another one while away from home. And it was a success. I think I've become used to the diapers, but now am stepping into the world of cloth wipes. I have been using regular wipes even with the cloth diapers. So that will be my experiment this week to try out the cloth wipes.

We then went to the big baby store and closed out our registry. Now Seven has everything he could possibly need. At least until he starts eating food, which come to think of it, won't be so long now.

*We will freely admit to being there, so we were making fun of ourselves as well in this joking.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Crunchy Mama Update

A few updates:

Breastfeeding has had its ups and downs. We were doing well for a while. By that I mean, I was enjoying it and with the supplementer, he was getting plenty of food. I can never really tell how much breast milk he is getting. But I cherish that time together (at least that time during the day, I'm half asleep in the middle of the night feeding).

I tend not to nurse him when we are out. I do sometimes, but mostly when I have someone else with me. I am too modest to get him set up in public without any cover. But since my b00b is exposed for longer while I'm dealing with the tubing and it takes a few tries to get the tubing and latch right, it is really hard to do under a cover. When I'm at someone's house, I can go into an empty room to get him started and then rejoin everyone. But out in a public place, it is too hard. I once had my mom hold up the blanket to shield us from the other patrons in a coffeehouse, but obviously I need another person for that. But we usually only have one feeding a day outside of the house, if that. So he is nursing most feedings.

We did hit a rough patch the past week. He had a stuffy nose and since it was hard for him to breathe, he didn't latch on right and my nipples were getting sore again. Luckily things are getting better now.

My other crunchy-mama activity now is cloth diapering. We are still using disposables at night and when we are out. But he was in cloth for most of Monday and today. I did my first load of laundry with the diapers and everything came out clean! This weekend I am going to one of those diaper changing events, so that will be our first attempt at leaving the house with cloth diapers.

I have not been able to get our diaper sprayer hooked up. I know it is a "no tools required" job, but really we are so un-handy, that we managed to screw up our toilet trying to do it. But since the first load came out clean with just the dunking method, I am feeling better about it. Of course, E is not such a fan of dunking the diapers, so we'll see if we can get it fixed.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Army

Some of you* may have seen the recent footage from some attacks in Afghanistan. It involved both NATO and Afghan forces. Well, it turns out my younger brother was part of that response. He is on his second tour to Afghanistan now. He doesn't talk about the details of what he does (and I would rather not know), but it has been clear that this time he is much more in the thick of things. Obviously it is never safe in a war zone, but showing up on the news for a big attack is not good. He is OK, but please keep him in your prayers, as well as all the soldiers over there.

*Actually, if you only listen to US news, you may not have heard of it. The BBC is covering this much more than any news programs here. But that is a topic for another post.
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