Sunday, October 16, 2011

Profound Motherhood Moments

I don't have much to say these days. I know this is not news, as it's pretty much what I've said at the beginning of every not-really-a-post post I've made since we brought Z home. That said, I do occasionally post an update to Facebook, and I have successfully managed to do a string of these on the topic of motherhood. Since all I've got of the publishable variety these days are profound thoughts in 140 characters or less, I strung a bunch of 'em together to make this list. Enjoy!

Profound Motherhood* Moments

* I call them Motherhood moments because I am a mother. If you are a Father, you probably have experienced some of these, too. Though a few of them are quite specific to Motherhood, feel free to think of them as Parenthood moments if that makes it more fun for you...

  1. (On Dec 29, just 14 days into motherhood...) I just spent 20 minutes (over coffee) trying to remember if I've showered since Christmas. (I have.)
  2. I had someone else's barf on me three times between 6 and 10 this morning, and I was more worried about her than me or my pajamas
  3. babies will sneeze without regard for what else they are doing. Like nursing, say.
  4. the cuteness of baby sneezes is potent enough to de-horrible horrifying things, like snot in your cleavage.
  5. You can't be your kids' friend because sometimes you have to pick their noses. And as we all know, you can pick your friends...
  6. all but 1 of my PMM's has been about wearing snot, and that one was about wearing barf. #gamechange
  7. Installed see-the-baby mirror in car. Driving is now COO-fest instead of waa-fest. Zoe is definitely a social critter now.
  8. I'm proud of my daughter for figuring out how to suck her thumb. She has been working daily on taming her spastic arm motions and refining her "gig 'em" for three months to arrive at this milestone! You can remind me of this in three years when I'm trying to get her to STOP sucking her thumb.
  9. Zoe slept 7 hours straight last night (and counting!). And just like all my friends said I would, I woke up in a panic to make sure she was still breathing...
  10. She pulled my hair this morning. Take me down to the Ponytail City...
  11. she fell asleep on her tummy and woke up on her back. She doesn't get to lie on the couch again until she can climb onto it her own self.
  12. I know I'm a grown up because I just did my laundry BEFORE going to see my folks..
  13. Zoe is sleeping in her own crib. How did she get so big?!?!
  14. I just let Zoe grab me by the hair, pull me close, and chew on my nose. Insanity IS hereditary, you get it from your children...
  15. Greenies: Puppies:: Smashed Bananas: Babies. Truefax.
  16. Frozen cookie dough is a totally legitimate short term coping skill.
  17. I can stop tears of frustration, pain, loneliness, boredom, and general grumpiness by picking her up and hugging her. I will cherish this superpower every day while I have it.
  18. No matter how much chicken gravy or sweet potato you amend it with, pureed chicken feels like pureed chicken on your tongue. Especially when it's hiding under a tempting blob of apple sauce on a baby spoon.
  19. the kids' song about how the little one said roll over - I'm crowded/I'm lonely was totally written by some one whose baby had a cold.
  20. You know a nursing session with a newborn is done by counting how long between the baby's swallows; you know a nine month old is done when she zrbtts you.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

I'm still a woeful slacker when it comes to writing. I just don't have much to say that doesn't revolve around what's going into or coming out of a baby, and that's not fun for anyone to read, even me. Also, I'm not sure I can string together a coherent paragraph if it has to be longer than a Facebook status update today. I'm okay, but Z is teething and, well, if you're a parent I don't have to explain that. If you're not, I couldn't make it make sense if I tried. Here's a little video I made, kinda stringing the timeline together of how we got here. Much love to The Polyphonic Spree, the background music is their song "Section 26: We Crawl" from their album The Fragile Army.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011


I haven't been doing a lot of writing lately. (Duh.) What I have been doing is snapping photos and making little movies, mostly for the grandparents, to keep them updated on what Zoe is up to. Since content beats no content, I'm sharing. Also, if any of you have a recommendation for a good waterbaby instructor in the Dallas/Richardson area, I'd love to hear it. I'm at a stall for teaching Z how to back float. She won't relax and only wants to flip over onto her tummy. Until she gets strong enough to get her face out of the water, that is NOT a survival strategy. I think I need help.
I'm getting reasonably good at using the basic capabilities of iMovie, too. I like the finished product so much better than bare naked video snips!

Thursday, August 04, 2011


Z is getting so ... interesting lately! She is discovering new tricks and capabilities almost every day. The latest thing I kinda blame on her messy eating habits. We have to feed her in nothing but a diaper because she stuffs her thumb in her mouth after every bite. This leads to a large mess on her hand which she gleefully wipes on her feet, her other hand, her belly, her neck, her hair, her ears, and anything else in range. Thus, after every meal, we sit her in the sink and wash her off. Then we carry her over to her changing table to get toweled dry and into a clean diaper. While toweling her off, we play peekaboo to distract her from her usual complaints about being wiped clean. (Girl loves a mess, I tell ya!) So it was with glee we discovered this week that she has been paying attention, and she is now capable of doing the peek-a-boo herself! All we have to do is provide sound effects...

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Letter to Z's First Mother...

Here we are at six months! This time has been special, and rewarding, and sometimes hard, but so full of love. We named our strong girl Zoe Savannah, Zoe for a college mentor of Rose's and Savannah for my great-great-grandmother. Because she was so tiny when she came home with us, we nicknamed her “Little Chicken” at first. It was half-descriptive and half a joke about how Rose had been nicknamed Little Turkey (for being so large) when she was brought home by her parents. After a couple of months, we realized how embarrassing that might be as she got older, so we have switched to more conventional nicknames like Sweet Pea, but I made up a song about a little chicken that goes to the tune of “I'm a Little Teapot” and we still sing that one with her in the car.

She's growing at a wonderful rate, right on average for height and weight and progressing beautifully, according to the doctor. She's been getting all her shots and hasn't been sick at all. She eats well, and just started on solids in the past month. She loves, loves, loves bananas. I think they're her favorite. She scrunches her face up and giggles when she gets them! She also seems to be pretty fond of oatmeal, but nothing makes her as happy as a smashed banana.

She has been rolling over for a couple of months now, and really enjoys rolling around on a blanket on the floor and playing with her toys. She always likes to come back to one of us and touch base, but then she rolls away again to explore a monkey or a bear. Her favorite new thing is her feet, of course, since she found them she spends about half her day in touch with her toes. Besides that, she really loves looking at and touching faces. I had to stop wearing hoop earrings because she was snagging them with her fingers, and I've had to start wearing my hair back to keep her from tangling her sticky fingers in it all the time. It's been such fun, watching her figure out how to grab and chew on Rose's chin!

She just got two teeth in at the same time, right around 5 ½ months, so we are both gingerly switching her onto teething toys that are NOT our faces or hands. She handled teething very easily and only had a couple days of mild fussiness as the teeth were breaking through. She can already chew on some soft veggies, like steamed carrots and broccoli, and she adores the occasional pizza crust, or any bread with a tough crust that she can gnaw on with her new teeth.

We just took a family trip down to Austin over Memorial Day. We stayed with my sisters and my nieces and my parents, swimming and eating and sucking on popsicles and swimming some more all weekend long! Zoe's cousins just love her. The youngest cousin is almost 4, and she really loves to help with feeding and changing and getting Zoe dressed. The other two are twins, one loves to sing her lullabies at bedtime and the other likes to hold her. My parents are completely in love with her and enjoy all the funny little sounds she makes and her gorgeous smile. My dad calls her Miss Vannie because that is what he called his great-grandmother who she is named for and he likes to carry her draped over his forearm at night when he helps us put her to bed.

Rose's parents are just wonderful with her, too. They have us over for dinner every week, and they have picked up some baby toys and a high chair so that she can be comfortable at their house. They have a little crib for her to nap in and some clothes for her in case she makes a mess of what she's wearing. Rose's dad loves to carry Zoe around and sing to her in Yiddish. Rose's mom likes to hold her and give her a drink from her sippy cup. Zoe is not a great drinker yet, but she's very enthusiastic about trying and they both get a kick out of it.

Ever since Memorial Day, she and I go swimming almost every day in our neighborhood pool. Rose comes with us on weekends and stays amazed at how easily she took to the water. She loves to hold onto people and play with floating toys, or to float herself, and she especially likes to kick. She knows how to hold her breath and put her face in, and she seems to be trying to work out how to blow bubbles. I have a silly little song about a motorboat that makes her smile every time.

We sing a lot, just playing around the house. I sing her lullabies to put her to bed at night and sing kid songs during the day when we're going on walks or when she's in her jumper while I'm working in the kitchen. She never did like a bouncy seat very much, but she's quite fond of her swing. She lets us know when she's ready to be out of it by kicking and twisting and generally trying to wriggle out from under her seat belt. She definitely figured out early on how to let us know what she likes and what she doesn't. She's not much for lying down and doesn't like to be on her back at all if she can help it. She is totally a side-sleeper, but she really loves to fall asleep on her tummy, laid up on Rose's chest. Her first few months, she slept in a bassinet in our room. Once she started sleeping through the night (about the same time she figured out how to suck her thumb!) and did that consistently for a month or two, we graduated her to the crib in her own room. She is a great sleeper and takes at least one good nap every day, but often two good naps and a long sleep through the night. We're very lucky in that regard!

I don't know how to say it deeply enough, or strongly enough, or meaningfully enough, but thank you. Our daughter is precious, and we love her completely and are thankful every day for her.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Science in our Hearts

I recently read an article that really helped make sense for me out of a phenomenon I've seen all around me recently. I think of it as the hallmark of internet-based discussion: people with opposing positions on a topic can read the same fact-packed article on that topic and come to opposing conclusions about the validity of the facts it contains. It happened with me and some of my friends about the Planned Parenthood "sting" videos that came out in late January this year. When i heard about the videos, I immediately connected them in my mind to the ACORN videos that were used to shutter the voter-registration organization. After a detailed investigation of the video, it was shown to have been edited to smear ACORN, which was later exonerated. So I assumed that this Planned Parenthood video was more of the same. People with an anti-Planned Parenthood bias assumed it was representative of business as usual at Planned Parenthood. At the end of the day, I was pleased that the one clinic manager was fired, as it appears she acted heinously and inappropriately, and that Planned Parenthood reported what it thought might be a sex-trafficking ring to federal authorities for investigation. At the end of the same day, my friends thought it wasn't enough to fire the one clinic manager, because they took her not as an outlier, but as a representative example of the group. They also thought that the report to the FBI came AFTER the sting video was released, as a defensive move, and not as one motivated by actual concern for the health of potential victims of sex trafficking. We were all reading the same articles, we all saw the same events unfolding. It reinforced my belief that I can trust Planned Parenthood (most of the time) to do the right thing. It reinforced their beliefs that they cannot trust Planned Parenthood (most of the time) to do the right thing.

It turns out that that's the way the human mind is programmed to work. According to the article, "It would seem that expecting people to be convinced by the facts flies in the face of, you know, the facts." And that, my friends, is the heart and soul of internet-based discussions, comment wars, flame wars, and bulletin boards. Once you've established that you disagree with someone, they can say anything they want, and you're unlikely to listen to any of it, except to rationalize why it's wrong, to refute their facts, and to question the validity of their sources. It turns out that the well-educated are even more susceptible to this. Those who don't know much about a topic, but have strong feelings about it anyway, tend to be slightly more amenable to changing their minds when presented with facts about the topic. Those who know a lot already tend to use their education to pick apart the science, even when the science is good.

The article is full of fascinating examples of how and why exactly this stuff happens, from the Iraq/Al Qaeda link to the Vaccines/Autism link, and especially regarding climate change. It turns out that if you want someone to change their mind on a topic, you not only have to approach them with facts, but you have to present the facts wrapped in values that person already holds.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

At War

Scene: The kitchen. I am washing dishes while Rose, Zoe, and our yellow lab keep me company.

Rose: Thanks for making scones this morning.

Me: You're welcome. Blah, blah, blah...

*Sound of a spitball flying across the room behind me*

Yellow lab moves surreptitiously to the corner of the kitchen and eats something off the floor.

Me: Did you just spit the end of your scone across the room for the dog to eat?!?!

Rose: holding up Zoe to demonstrate My hands were full!

Me: You are a five-year-old boy!

Rose: spits again

Yellow lab, ready for it this time, catches the hunk of scone out of the air and noms it down.

Rose: Look, she caught it!

I am paralyzed.

Rose is laughing.

Me: The two sides of me are at war over whether to be appalled or impressed. I think they just tied.

Monday, April 04, 2011


Have you ever noticed that "Going apeshit" is just a rude way of saying "Going bananas"? I wonder which phrase came up first, and which way it was altered? Did someone alter it to make it more polite? Or alter it to make it more rude?

Stuff like this is bouncing around in my head these days, probably because since figuring out thumbsucking, Zoe has also figured out Sleeping Through The Night. It's freed up parts of my brain that haven't been seen in almost 4 months! This is the most phenomenal development since our adoption. It's a bigger deal for Rose than it is for me, which is kinda backwards since I'm the one who woke up to nurse every couple of hours in the night. I don't know if it's because of my time at the Air Force Academy, which firmly instilled the lesson that Any Sleep Is Good Sleep, or if it's a raising thing, or just an inborn personality trait. I think of a good night's sleep as any night in which I get relatively close to 8 cumulative hours of sleep. Rose thinks of a good night's sleep any night in which her approximately 8 hours of sleep is not interrupted by climate changes, blanket theft, puppymares, crying babies, beeping alarms... You get the idea. So even on nights when we would get 10 or 12 hours in the sack and a good 8 or 9 of them asleep, Rose would wake up complaining that her night had been awful, and I would wake up thinking it had been pretty great. So, two conclusions: getting Zoe to sleep through the night was going to be crucial to restoring sanity to our homelife, and Opposites Attract (thank you, Paula Abdul).

We're going on a week of Sleeping Through The Night now, so I'm almost confident saying "Yes" when people ask if she's doing so. The next question, of course, will be "Is she teething?" When we have to start saying yes to that one, I'm sure it'll be back to bananas at our house, but for now we're enjoying our rest.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


It would have been impossible for me to imagine this four months ago. Today, I just about burst with pride when my daughter managed to suck her thumb. Why did I get so giddy over this? Because I've been watching her struggle with it for the past three months. Even though I've seen sonograms that show babies in utero sucking their thumbs, I've come to appreciate that that's a happy accident. Having giving up on tucking that spat-out pacifier back into her face One More Time about a month ago, I assure you this could not be a more glorious development. At any rate, she's been working on mastering those spastic limb movements of hers, gamely shoving her fist (or fists) in the general direction of her gaping slobbertrap several times a day for the past three months. It used to be a reliable sign of hunger, but some time ago she discovered recreational fist-eating. Somewhere around three weeks ago, I noticed that sometimes she actually managed to extend her thumb at the same time and could suck on it for a second or two. About a week ago, she started reliably hitting her mouth every time, but still only 1 in 4 attempts worked out. Today, it was more like 3 in 4, and she was able to suck her thumb for 5-10 seconds before she'd lose it.

I'm sure this sounds like mommyblogger drivel, but this opens the door to a brave new frontier. One that, frankly, can't get here soon enough - going to sleep. Zoe does NOT like to go to sleep. Especially alone, double that for going without something to suck on. This, in effect, turns me into a giant pacifier. Either I have to nurse her off to sleep every time she needs to go to sleep, or I have to stay awake and see to it that her pacifier stays in place until she falls asleep. I can also walk with her until she falls asleep, but this presents the dreaded problem of How And When To Put Her Down in a way that prevents immediate return to wakefulness. And, sleep lover that I am, I'm not excited about this. Some of the best advice they give new moms is to "sleep when she sleeps." If you're paying attention, you've just noticed the conundrum. If I have to stay awake to put her to sleep, there is NO POSSIBLE WAY for me to sleep while she sleeps. Until she does fall asleep, and then I'm allowed to start falling to sleep, which means I'm guaranteed to be just drifting into the blessed REM zone when she startles herself awake and needs to be soothed back to sleep again. *sigh* Perhaps with a little sleep I can start writing something other than drivel, however amusing and momentous I find the drivel to be.

So, let's hear it for thumbsucking and other self-soothing behaviors! Even if she's not ahead of the curve at all, I'm glad we're getting there. I can see the distant shoreline of the Ocean of Sleepless Nights ahead. I'm sure we'll make occasional forays back into this Ocean as we progress, but a couple of nights on shore will make future sailing trips easier.

Monday, January 24, 2011


Mothering has really wrecked my triathlon mojo. This, in itself, is not terribly interesting or surprising. Nobody can push their body to shed fat, build endurance, and work faster when they can't tell you if they're going to get 2 or 4 or 6 hours of sleep at night. But what surprises me is how I feel about it. I'm conflicted. Part of me wants to sag into a heap and wear my pajamas all day and snuggle my baby when she sleeps and play with her when she's awake and eat doughnuts and pizza until I'm back in all the pants I just donated to Goodwill. Part of me wants to bootstrap myself up and get back to my bike riding and jogging and swimming and not use this little interlude as an excuse to wreck my season.

Zoe is brand new, she's barely six weeks old right now, and is in NOTHING approximating a routine when it comes to sleep. Some nights, she nods off with me at midnight and sleeps 4 hours at a stretch until morning. Other nights, she just looks at me and cries every time she approaches a horizontal orientation until she finally surrenders around 4 AM.

As of now, the only exercise I can solidly count on having the energy for is a walk, and not a very long walk at that. So that's what I'm doing. And God bless my coach for sticking with me through it and continuing to encourage me to do what I can, when I can, and keeping me accountable when I miss the mark. Every little bit counts, right?

Every time I think my end of the deal is the short one, though, I remember how rough it is for my nieces to even be able to take that walk. They have Mitochondrial Disease and it makes having energy for even basic things like digestion difficult. So, in their honor, I'm going to be taking part (along with the whole family) in a walkathon in February called the "Energy for Life" walk in Houston. If you have a spare nickel, this cause is a good one and the funds will go to researching the causes and potential treatments and cures for a disease that often takes children's lives before they make their teen years. If you can, please do go make a donation. Every little bit counts.

Monday, January 10, 2011

How to Breastfeed an Adopted Baby

I'm not surprised at this, really, but by far the most frequent question I get about the adoption is "How do you do THAT?!?!" when people find out that I'm nursing my sweet girl. I've been researching this for so long that I've almost forgotten what it feels like to not know this is possible. And as I was recently reminded when talking with some friends of mine, the methods I used are relevant to many other situations, breastfeeding after mastectomy, breastfeeding with low (or just insufficient) milk supply, and breastfeeding after hysterectomy, etc.

This post, unlike so many of mine, has a short version: hormones and plastic baggies.

I'm sure the hormones part makes sense, even if you couldn't immediately name the hormones involved and their biological roles, anyone who's got passing familiarity with the reproductive system knows that its functions are hormonally regulated. There are basically four hormones involved in making a woman lactate, and three of them are available (directly or indirectly) through medicines. For the deathly curious, the three I mentioned are estrogen, progesterone, and prolactin. The only complicated thing about the prolactin is that the drug recommended to increase it in your system (Domperidone) is only available from what's called a compounding pharmacy and the use of it for inducing lactation is considered off-label. That said, it's also considered safe. The other two hormones, obviously, are available via standard birth control pills, though high-progesterone pills are recommended for this purpose. There is so much more detailed information available on this, if you're interested, at Ask Lenore. There is a whole protocol there, which is what I followed, on when and how to take the meds, what to do if you have lots of notice, if you have little to no notice of your adoption, if you can't take the birth control pill, and all the other variations on my situation you can imagine.

As for plastic baggies, that's all part of what is called a Supplemental Nursing System. There are two big providers out there, Medela SNS and Lact-Aid. I use the Lact-Aid system because of reviews I read like this one. Basically, it's easier to use in more situations and holds up better to long-term use, which adoptive nursing certainly calls for. What it does is let baby take formula from a plastic bag via a tube at the breast, so s/he is getting all the breastmilk available, but is also getting his/her nutritional needs met, and because suckling stimulates supply, the formula supplementation actually serves to sustain mom's supply.

That's the basic gist of it, and I hope the information is useful to someone else out there. I wouldn't have known about this if it weren't for a similar post in an online journal, so I'm here to spread the word.