Archive for the ‘parenting’ Category

When a Dream/Plan Dies and It’s OK   Leave a comment

In 2014 I learned one big lesson (among plenty of small and medium-sized ones): adoption is expensive. In fact, out of our budget. So for all those who have heard me say we planned on “having one and adopting one”, there’s been a change in plans and I’ll have to suck it up for a second pregnancy (hopefully).

Back story: Way back when I was around age 10, I was reading my mom’s Ligourian magazines, which included lots of stories about couples trying to start families and the ensuing emotional struggles. I decided then that if I had trouble conceiving I would not feel like less of a woman, and that I wouldn’t get so obsessed with conceiving as to completely drain my finances and ruin my marriage. I also decided that I wanted to experience pregnancy and labor, God willing, but I also wanted to adopt a child. That idea has stuck around for 25 years, amazingly enough, and Mike and I had planned to go through one pregnancy and one adopted kid.

Fast forward to this past year, Conan’s second year of life. Our plan was to start looking into adoption and start the process sometime during the year. But we immediately hit a major roadblock: adoption is EXPENSIVE! A domestic adoption costs well over $10,000, what with all the fees, classes, and whatnot. I had not know that the adopting parents have to pay for the biological mother’s medical expenses, without insurance, and her maternity leave. (And if she changes her mind and takes the baby back, the adopting parents are back to square one with much lighter bank accounts.) In all my years of having this “plan” to adopt I had never even looked at the most basic information about adoption and didn’t know this in advance. So we could have adopted our first kid, and used almost all of our savings, but now we have no way to swing it.

There is fos-adopt (aka foster adoption), which is actually affordable. That is what is really pushed nowadays apparently. But, and I feel horrible saying this, I just don’t think that we could do it. And it’s not something I’m willing to gamble on.

So after 25 years of having an idea/plan/dream, it’s gone. As someone who is a planner, it has sometimes been difficult to adjust when situations change. But not in this case. I was feeling a little weird about following through on an idea first developed as a kid. The adoption process with it’s classes and waiting and counseling requirements is quite daunting. Most of all, though, is just the gut sense that it wasn’t meant to be, and satisfaction that I didn’t give up the dream on a whim but based on a confrontation with reality.

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Posted January 25, 2015 by mayakey in parenting, pre-pregnancy

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Why A New Perspective on Mother’s and Father’s Day   Leave a comment

Since becoming a mother 18 months ago, I’ve been through two Mother’s Days, and the experience has really made me think about what Mother’s and Father’s Days really mean to me. I am surrounded by people who consider them to be fake “Hallmark” holidays not worth celebrating, and who emphasize that you should love your mother/father all the time and not just one day a year (a sentiment which which I certainly do not disagree). Being told to my face this year that Mother’s Day is a fake holiday got me really defensive but I didn’t have the right the words to defend it. For my entire life until now what other people think about Mother’s/Father’s Day never mattered one bit, probably because the day wasn’t about me; but now everything has changed. It can’t be just about my mom any more, and it’s certainly not just about me. This year I realized that it’s also about celebrating the role of mothers and fathers in society and their importance to the human race.

It has always been very important to me to honor my parents on Mother’s/Father’s Day, most especially my mom (yup, I was one of those kids who responded “my mom” when asked who my hero was). I have to confess that it was an obligatory celebration on at least one year for my dad as I was emotionally struggling with that relationship, but I still felt the need to do something. Growing up this was the day to make sure my parents knew how grateful I was for everything they had done for my brother and I, and how much I valued them. I’m sure I could have said “thanks” and “I love you” much more often throughout the year. Mother’s/Father’s Day was an opportunity to try to express my love and thanks and that I always felt it even if I didn’t express it every day.

For all that it was always important for me to honor my parents (and to a degree, my grandparents), it may be interesting that I didn’t look forward to my first Mother’s Day. How much that was my own neurosis vs. influence of the attitudes around me, I’m still not sure. But the fact remains that when I was pregnant I was inordinately glad that we hadn’t told anyone (except our mothers, of course) that we were pregnant yet so that I didn’t have to endure people wishing me a happy Mother’s Day when I didn’t consider myself a mother yet. Then the following year, with a 5-month old baby at home, I was dreading church that Sunday and the fact that I would have to stand up for the blessing of the mothers and have people with me a happy Mother’s Day. And yet the Mother’s Day card that my mom sent me brought me to tears and is tucked away for me to save forever. Some introspection lead to me realize that I didn’t feel like I’d yet “earned” the honor of Mother’s Day, as my accomplishments at that point included “birthing him” and “keeping him alive for 5 months” (as significant as those might be) but no teaching, modeling, or guiding, and he’s not yet old enough to be consciously grateful for comfort, security, and love. Basically, my attitude up to that point required Conan to be old enough to tell me “Happy Mother’s Day” before it would feel right to me. And that is just not right.

This year the universe helped me out with more stories about men who won’t wish a happy Mother’s Day on their wives because “you’re not my mother”, which also just feels not right to me. But that made me realize that Mother’s Day can’t be just about honoring your own mother, as important as that may be. Following that train of thought led me to the importance of honoring the institution of motherhood. Everyone has a mother and a father, and in an ideal world everyone would grow up with a mother figure and a father figure. They are crucial to our development. It is important to recognize how important both mothers and fathers are on both an individual and societal basis. Yes, it’d be great to walk the walk as well (plenty of issues to cover from maternity/paternity leave to respect/support for both stay-at-home mothers and fathers and working parents), but you’ve got to start by talking the talk. We have special days set aside to honor vets, workers, and distinguished/accomplished individuals, so isn’t it appropriate to honor all mothers and fathers as well? I’m just sad that it took me becoming a mother to consciously realize this.

Although I still think my personal relationship with Mother’s Day will be tenuous until Conan is old enough to tell me “Happy Mother’s Day”, but that’s just my personality. And I really hope that he actually wants to celebrate both Mother’s and Father’s Day the way I did/do.

Posted June 1, 2014 by mayakey in musings, parenting

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Good Timing Working Out a Blueprint for Nursing Through the Second Year   Leave a comment

For the last few months I’ve been trying to work out a “plan” for the second year of breastfeeding. It’s amazing how difficult it is to answer the question “What does it mean to breastfeed for the first two years?” Now, four months into that second year I’ve finally got something worked out.

From the get-go I fully intended to breastfeed for at least two years, and at the beginning it’s easy to understand how it works. Actually making it work, now that’s another story. While pregnant I read/heard the descriptions of how to nurse a baby, but it was completely over my head and I didn’t get it. Sitting on my bed with Conan shortly after he was born I was completely blank and thankful for the Rachels’ help latching Conan on the first time. And we had our struggles: Conan’s neck and back tension meant he couldn’t open enough for a good latch when he was born, I was so emotionally not yet ready for visitors and Christmas that I got blocked ducts and mastitis two weeks in, I got a yeast infection and had to resort to gentian violet (we have a picture of Conan’s mouth stained purple to prove it), I got blocked ducts 3 times in the first 3 months with a handful of close calls since then, and between pumping and sometimes Conan as either a hoover or lazy latch I’ve had several rounds of bruised areolas (that’s how it feels anyway) with the most recent just a couple months ago.

With a newborn I found it easy to get into the groove of the feeding schedule and evolve over time, especially with the addition of “solids” in the latter half of the first year. In our society, though, where the vast majority of babies are no longer breastfeeding after 12 months, understanding how that evolution continues after 12 months is more challenging. Plus, there’s so much variety in situations and desires that everyone has to answer this question for herself. Even the World Health Organization, which recommends breastfeeding for the first two years, doesn’t give an explanation of what that means.

Back before Conan’s first birthday I started trying to figure this out, starting with the question of how long I should continue to pump. That’s when I first started getting frustrated because I saw so many times the phrase “you don’t need to worry about frequency of feeding because toddlers will self-regulate”. Ok, that’s fine if you’re home with your toddler but that it completely not helpful when I am trying to figure out how long to continue pumping at work. It is also unhelpful when your toddler shows no desire to communicate and never asks for milk (but expects it at certain ritual times and gets very excited when it is offered). I found a few discussion boards where it seemed the longest that anyone continued to pump at work was to 18 months. So I’ve been just continuing the status quo with that 18 month target in mind.

But I wasn’t really happy with a random 18 month target. It was like dealing with sleep and things like “at 5 months babies can sleep through the night” and then getting to 5 months and feeling like I wasn’t going to suddenly stop going to him at night and not feeling like there was anything unnatural or wrong about his behavior. So we just ignored all of that kind of advice and let him evolve at his own pace. Realizing that made me wonder if it is possible to do the same with breast feeding even if he doesn’t get to regulate me 5 days a week.

So I decided that I’m going to continue pumping until he no longer wants a bottle at day care. If that means I’m pumping for around 2 years, I’m fine with that. Along with that I also decided that I think he should continue drinking his day care milk in a bottle. It makes sense to me that he get my milk through a nipple, be it mine or a silicone one. When he starts supplementing with cow’s milk it should be in a plain cup. The sippy bottle should only ever contain water, just like mommy and daddy’s water bottles. I have no idea which nursing will go first/next, but until it no longer seems right I’ll just continue with the status quo.

These decisions were timely as a week an a half ago I got mastitis again, and it took me four days to get the ducts unblocked. It is looking like that may have affected production and Conan may need to start supplementing with cow’s milk at day care. Having just worked out a blueprint for breastfeeding in the second year, though I’m at peace with whatever happens however it happens (I think).

Posted April 20, 2014 by mayakey in conscious living, food, parenting

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Amusing Lessons of My First Year+ as a Parent   Leave a comment

In my first year+ as a parent I’ve found a few lessons to be particularly surprising and/or amusing. I’m listing a few of them here.

  1. It is possible to be incompetent at snapping. I had previously classed snaps as being basically the same level of easiness as velcro. I mean it’s just position and push, and then presto you’re done. No finger twists, no real paying attention to what you’re doing needed, right? Then I had a baby, whose clothing and diapers have lots of snaps on them, and now I think I’d give myself a “D” on my snapping proficiency. Even while he was a newborn I was amazed at how often I failed at my first attempt to secure a snap! And once he started wiggling? Oh goodness, that was a struggle. The thing that really amazed me was not that I had trouble positioning the two halves of the snap together, but that after correct positioning I would be unable to get the snaps pressed together. My zipper and button proficiencies are at least a solid “B”, but I dread to find out what my “tying someone else’s shoe” proficiency is.
  2. Everybody’s wrong with the whole “eating for two while pregnant” thing. I already knew before getting pregnant that the old saw was not true for pregnancy. I wasn’t eating for two, just me and a parasite. Although dealing with hunger was certainly an important part of pregnancy. But then he was born and I started breastfeeding him. I thought I was hungry before?! Nobody ever talks about “eating for two while nursing a newborn” but that’s absolutely true. He needed to do all that initial growing fueled by me, which meant that I discovered new depths of hunger. And I am still eating what seems to me still to be crazy portion sizes. Mike and I joke around about it because there have been meals when we made what used to be enough for two dinner and two lunch portions, and then I went and ate three portions for dinner.
  3. For as long as I can remember I have not been able to get to bed before midnight. Whether I started getting ready for bed at 10pm or 11:30pm, I could not be in bed with the lights out before midnight. And then I got pregnant and my bedtime moved up a few hours. I don’t actually remember what time I was usually getting to bed, but I think 9pm was pretty normal while I was pregnant. And 16 months after giving birth I’m still able to get to bed earlier. For the first several months of Conan’s life I was in bed with the lights out by 9:30 (granted there were 2-4 arousals to nurse during the night). As his night sleep periods lengthened that gradually moved to 10 and then 10:30. I started napping with him for his morning nap every day and my bedtime moved to between 10:30 and 11. Now that he’s not napping in the morning anymore, 10:30 is much more attractive and it’s still doable. I hope this lasts, I like getting to bed earlier.
  4. Baby’s offer a great posture reminder when they start sitting. When we stand up straight in our society, we tend to lift our chins and tilt our heads back (so that our line of sight is straight forward?). But if you ever have read about posture, we’re supposed to be lifting the crown of our heads, not our chins. If you look at a sitting baby in profile they look like they’re looking down but it’s really just that they naturally hold their heads so that their crown is the highest point. Whenever I really looked at Conan sitting, it always made me adjust my posture. Of course now he’s standing and walking and looking up at us a lot, so I don’t get that reminder as much.
  5. Another great reminder I get from Conan while I’m nursing him sometimes is to unclench my jaw. I’m guessing I’m not the only person who has a bad habit of clenching my jaw when concentrating on something, either mental or physical. But I noticed that when Conan started wiggling while nursing, he’d be waving his butt in the air, kicking his legs, moving his arms all over, etc, but there was no change to his jaw pressure or suction. If it had been me there’s no way I could have wiggled my butt like that and not tightened my jaw a bit. I’m very thankful that he is able to keep the jaw relaxed, or as relaxed as it can be considered while nursing.
  6. Babies don’t just get garlic breath, they exude garlic from their entire being. I have to confess that I’ve rarely if ever noticed garlic breath or any whiff of garlic around adults who have just consumed it. (Maybe because I’ve usually also had garlic?) But when we started putting a clove of roasted garlic in Conan’s food I noticed that the garlic smell was on his breath, in his pee, and just coming from his skin, too. And it took at least a couple days to clear!  It’s not just garlic, it’s roasted onion as well, so this must be all albums. I considered it to be an amusing smell of healthy eating.

Posted April 6, 2014 by mayakey in musings, parenting, pregnancy

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