Monday, December 07, 2009

Well, Still, It's Been a Good Year...

What do you even say? If I was the type of person to even attempt a serious holiday letter, 2009 would have been a pathetic list of GM job fear, two miscarriages, a freak flood that destroyed parts of my hometown (including most of my mom's house), an even freakier sudden heart attack and brain anoxia that has changed my sister-in-law's husband, and then- a third pregnancy. That started out tenuously- for 14 solid weeks, my body acted as though I would be losing this baby again.

This baby is still here. An ultrasound a couple of weeks ago showed a whole, healthy, perfect baby. Active, squirrelly, and as of right now, still wiggling and bumping around occasionally. That's not to say that I've been able to relax. Who knows when I will relax, but I'm hoping I can take a deep breath sometime before early April, when this little one will, by God's grace, enter the world and take a deep breath of his or her own.

My brother has returned from Iraq, whole and safe and sound. My mom's house is slowly being reconstructed. My brother-in-law (in-law?) is going through therapy, and is working his way back to a new normal. And I cannot wait for 2010. Whatever it brings.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Heavy Heart

Mary Anaya's story has completed. Here is a link to an article written in the Omaha World-Herald.

About two years ago, when I first heard of her story and did some digging, I blogged about the atrocity of the removal of her youngest son Joel, from her home. With my own tiny one at home, the thought that someone could remove, at gunpoint, a newborn from his mother's arms, and it all was ordered by a judge, sickened me. Mary's crime was that she did not allow a state official to lance little Joel's heel and take five circles of blood from him, to test him for the state's mandated metabolic screen test. For that, many armed police officers burst through her door one morning, and in front of her frightened small children, grabbed baby Joel from her. The battle for her tiny baby went on for quite some time, while sympathetic social workers and the foster mother allowed her to (unlawfully) sneak visits five times a day to drop off pumped milk, and to nurse him. Joel eventually was returned, and this year, a higher court ruled that while Mary did indeed break Nebraska's (useless, stupid, liberty-killing) law, the lower court overreached their bounds by ordering his removal. I like to think my (and thousands of others) letter writing campaign played at least a small part! Surprisingly, that series of blog posts that I did was published in a Human Right's Advocacy project on the part of a group of lawyers that were collecting such violations.

Mary's tenacity and strength of character was truly something to behold. I never had the pleasure of meeting this wonderful woman, but countless people in many counties of Nebraska and Iowa benefitted from this woman's very giving nature.

Mary leaves behind a husband, Josue, and ten children, and a legacy that will be hard to fill. She joins her extremely tiny, far too premature little one, who died only hours before she did. God rest her peaceful, admirable soul.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Now I'm Dying to Know...

Seen today on a small, hand-lettered sign near the gas station:

"Free Foot Exam. Call 248-XXX-XXXX."

Um, hmm...

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Re-visiting an old cause

Remember, many blogs ago, the online battle I helped wage against Nebraska's horrible invasion of privacy of a family who chose to homebirth, and to decline mandatory genetic testing of their little boy?

I have been, up until now, respecting the Anaya family's request for privacy involving something new that has cropped up. However, things have taken a drastic turn.

Mary Anaya, mama to 10, is right now fighting for her life. She was diagnosed only a couple of months ago with a rapidly growing lung cancer. Around the same time, she discovered that she is pregnant with her 11th child.

Recently, an ultrasound showed a beautiful little babe, kicking and growing, and as healthy as can be. Mary is currently being kept alive for the seven weeks or so that it will take for her baby to reach 25 weeks, and thus be able to live outside of her womb. Mary and her husband have desired this ever since they learned of the potential outcome of her diagnosis.

I'm going to re-post some info grabbed from a blog connected to her church.

The following is from Michael Ross, the Anayas' ministry partner from Christ for the City International in Omaha, Nebraska:

"The immediate prayer need is for the Lord to guide the doctors and nurses in the next steps they should take and that the antibiotics would combat the pneumonia. …Would you encourage your pastor to lead your church in prayer this Sunday morning? Would you add Mary Anaya to your church prayer list?"

Some of us have signed up for Mary's 24-hour prayer vigil here.

Some of us have given financially. Donations for medical costs can be sent to:

CFCI, PO Box 390395, Omaha, NE 68139.
(Checks payable to Mary Anaya)

Any questions about Mary's needs? Contact Michael at 402-592-8332 or .


This tiny, tiny baby will be taken very dangerously early. To give a good account of how early- Mary and I are actually due around the same time. My child is due to arrive around mid-April (and so far, a heartbeat has been seen AND heard!) My child will be born sometime around Easter, and hers was also supposed to be born around this time. Now, if this baby can make it until almost Christmas, it will be a miracle.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Strange Child's Mom

Gianna, being a social creature, has been cheerfully engaging other children in conversation in the grocery store and any other place where children happen to be. I decided that it might be a good idea to bring Gianna to places where there are other children, as she usually spends time with other adults. This isn't necessarily a "bad" thing, but having other kids to play with would be fun for her.

So, off we go. Swimming in the community pool, playing in the community playground, and just as soon as they start toddler programs up again, listening to stories at the community library. Gianna is a very happy girl when she sees kids. Her first reaction is to yell, "HI, kids! Hi litt-uh girl! Hi litt-uh boy!"

If the kids are young enough, they are equally happy to see her. If they are a bit older, say 8 or 9, they seem kind of sullen. In fact, one little girl at the Northville Trader Joes snapped, "I'm not talking to YOU," and flounced away. She, alas, matched the rest of the shoppers in that store. Northville, trust me, you are not *that* posh that you can justifiably be that snobby!

So, they're usually happy to see her as well. A pattern I'm noticing is that we will enter a community interaction site, Gianna and Strange Child/ Children spot each other, and instantly, Strange Child's mother goes into super fussy disciplinarian mode. Especially if they were there first- it almost seems like Strange Child's mother is trying to verbalize "her" unwritten rules of the playground by talking her child to death.

Enter playground. Gianna and Strange Child spot each other, and each squeal, "A litt-uh GIRL!!!" Strange Child's Mom (SCM) and I give each other the "Hi, I am way too busy with my child to converse, but hello just the same" smile and nod. Gianna instantly runs to the stairs to the playground, with Strange Child in hot pursuit. Strange Child overtakes Gianna, and stands on the stairs, instantly uncertain. Gianna starts to climb the stairs, and stands on the same step. Both children regard one another. Instantly, the moms start coaching from the sidelines.

SCM: "Strange, move out of the way! The little girl wants to slide!"

Me: "It's okay- Gianna, let the little girl go up the stairs!"

Both kids stare at each other, fascinated. One or the other of us moms goes and helps their child move more quickly up the stairs (or down the stairs) and the process repeats until one of the kids spots the plastic climbing dinosaur. We all troop over to the dinosaur, SCM fretting the whole way, "Don't run! Be careful! Mulch is slippery! Watch out!" Gianna usually trips and falls flat onto the mulch, as she gets her sporting ability from me. The mulch does its job, though, and she bounces right back up with no trouble at all. "She's okay," I assure the SCM, who is restraining herself from hovering over Gianna and picking her up.

We reach the dinosaur. Gianna picks up some mulch and offers it to the dinosaur. "Eat mutch!" she bellows, and Strange Child laughs. Strange Child does the same. SCM frets in the background, "Don't throw the mulch! Be careful! Put it down, it's icky..." At the suggestion of actually throwing the mulch, both girls instantly begin to toss mulch on the dinosaur. "Dinosaur take a bath!" Gianna yells. As it doesn't seem to be hurting anyone except the dinosaur (I see a tiny, plastic tear fall from his eye, which has been scratched out by years of use) I say nothing.

SCM, however, is irate. Didn't she just say NOT to throw mulch? And now here they are, throwing mulch. And I'm not doing ANYTHING about it! She glances between me and the kids, and finally starts chanting, "Strange, stop throwing. STOP throwing. Don't you pick that up... don't you throw- didn't you hear me? Stop! Don't throw it again. I said, 'Don't throw it again!' Put that DOWN..." while standing perfectly still.

I walk over to Gianna, which mobilizes SCM. She springs to her child, grabs their little mulch-y fists and wrings out every last bit of mulch. Gianna gives one last toss and I recommend the swings. She agrees, and we head over to the swings. SCM finishes lecturing Strange, who has already joined us in our trek to the swings. Gianna climbs on, and I start pushing her. Strange decides to lay belly first on the swing, and kick instead of being pushed. SCM wants to match- "Strange, want me to push you? Push you like the little girl? Let's swing on our bottoms. Get off and I will help you-"

Strange wants nothing to do with what we are doing. She screeches, and SCM backs off with, "Okay, let me know if you want help. I'm right here. Want help? Do you want me to push you?" The next five minutes, she reminds Strange about 45 times that she's standing right there, and can push her if she wants. Shortly, Strange gets a bit tired of this, and heads away. SCM decides it's time to leave, and grabs a now kicking and screaming Strange and heads for the gate. We watch them go.

Then, head back to the dinosaur to give it another mulch bath.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

"If You Want Convenience, Get a Doll..."

Wow- someone read my mind! Then, traveled back through time, and wrote it down. That's my stance, and I'm sticking to it.

I stumbled across this article, originally written in 1994 and updated later, by Katherine Dettwyler. It describes exactly why scheduling the habits of a baby is detrimental to the baby (and perhaps mom as well).

She describes the phenomenon of scheduled feeding, which a lot of "mainstream" parenting "experts" like to champion. These "experts" (many of whom, oddly enough, are men and thus will never actually give birth, deal with the swirling, twirling and whirling hormones involved, and will probably never lactate. Unless they're dedicated enough to induce lactation. We won't go there.)

Dettwyler only focuses on breastfeeding (and touches briefly on co-sleeping, as it relates to nursing on a natural schedule) but one thing I have found with the "Baby Trainers" is that every function of a baby's body is somehow related to discipline. And by "discipline," they don't necessarily mean a practice or a form of guiding, but they mean a way to shape and mold a baby onto an adult's personal time table.

Let's define "Baby Trainer," first. Not everyone who writes a parenting book is a "Baby Trainer." Only those who guarantee that a baby will be compliant, complacent, and will fit neatly into the current 9 to 5 work week schedule, by ANY means, is a Baby Trainer. Someone who recommends particular foods or recipes, then, is not a Baby Trainer. Someone who states that if a parent does X, Y, and Z and that they WILL get the results of an infant sleeping all the way through the night, is a Baby Trainer.

The first three months of a baby's life are currently referred to as the "Fourth Trimester." Human babies, it seems, are born prematurely. Even if they come at 41 or 42 or (gasp- "How did your doctor ALLOW this???") 43 weeks, they are still about three months behind other primates at birth- they are very fetal in nature, prefer to be curled like a little bug, and still require the closeness, warmth, heartbeat, and constant nutrition of the womb. Only, mom gets to do this from the outside, now.

Gianna, at age 2 years and 1 week, is now doing the following:
- Sleeping through many nights, often in her own bed.
- Eating meals with us, and snacking sporadically throughout the day, depending on her hunger level. She is NOT a picky eater- she eats everything from marinated eggplant and pickles, to kale (white bean, carrot and kale soup is her favorite meal ever) to raw zucchini.
- Working on the potty. Two steps forward, one step back.
- Exploring the backyard while I hang out in the distance and let her do her thing, playing independently with many different types of toys, speaking to other adults and children, and showing empathy when other kids are sad, or get hurt, or are happy.

None of this was trained into her. God knows, we had some nights where I just wanted to poke my eyes out and run screaming for the hills- parenting is NOT easy. Nothing worthwhile is easy- every single thing in life that is worth having requires work. A successful career, a happy marriage, one's own health and well-being, etc. It doesn't just "happen," and it also can't be forced into place. All the time that I was nursing on demand (and at three weeks and then at three months, "on demand" meant, "May as well not even wear a shirt today," thanks to appropriate developmental leaps)... all the nights where she woke up every 45 minutes... every time she kicked me square in the eyeball in the middle of the night... she did not turn into a selfish monster, demanding constantly that I succumb to each and every whim. There are many parts of the day I don't have to entertain her- she does really well on her own. All of the "What if's?" and questions that the "Baby Trainers" bring up just did not come to pass.

Snake-oil salesmen. Professors of lies. Heretics, some of them, if they are writing that God intends for all children to follow a clock. Really, they're cheats. They grab the attention of parents desperate to do the right thing by their child, by using all the right words, and promising the moon. Parents who buy into this are by no means stupid or even necessarily abusive (to begin with), but want the very best for their child. These crooks are selling just the right magic beans.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Canine Rivalry

I'm going to hold off talking about another piece of attachment parenting- avoiding "baby trainers-" until I can muster a few more constructive things to say. Something about all of the swirling, crashing and looping hormones following a miscarriage leaves little but vitriol when discussing people who try to convince parents to do harmful and bizarre things to their infants all for the sake of "scheduling" or "convenience." Who has children for convenience? People who want accessories and are allergic to dogs?

So, yes. We shall save the shysters and con-men (Gary Ezzo, Michael and Debi Pearl, the loony tunes who wrote the "What to Expect... series, et cetera) for another day.

Today, speaking of dogs, we will carefully examine the relationship between a two year old and her loyal pooch. To do so, we need to first analyze the two year old. Contrary to popular belief, "Two's" (as we will call two-year-olds) are not "terrible." Tumultuous, yes. Tantrum-y, of course. As tempestuous as the sea, and as tormented as the most sensitive artist, Two's are also very energetic, loving, and are adorably learning compassion and empathy. Or, at least mine is.

For example, she just tripped and fell over Lola. At 75 lbs, and black with white markings, Lola is very hard to miss. However, my two year old has taken to trying to walk without looking. I think she's developing her sixth sense. At any rate, she fell right on top of the dog, who barked and jumped up. After tears and cuddles and reminders that our eyes need to watch where we are walking, she flopped back onto the floor with Lola, who went back to the same spot on the floor and resumed her lounge. "I'm sowwy, Lola, sowwy bumped. Bumped Lola," Gianna explained to Lola, from a distance of approximately three millimeters.

(Note: Dear Baby Trainers- I have never asked my child to apologize, nor have I expositorily taught her to apologize. Having modeled apologies myself to and around her since birth, though, she somehow is miraculously managing to pick it up! No switches or spankings involved! Imagine that! What a strange phenomenon- I actually treated my child the way I like to be treated, totally neglected to cram "apologies" down her throat, and hot diggity damn, she's doing it herself! In the appropriate context, even! Love and mush, Clara. P.S.- Let's all hope we never meet in a dark ally. Mr. Clarateaches would love to spend my potential bail money on something different. Insert hearts here, Clara.)

Things are not always so fuzzy and warm. Lola vacillates between fear and loathing, and curiosity and nosiness. I do not leave Gianna and Lola alone together, especially since we leave markers and chalk here and there. Over time, these art materials have managed to procreate, and rogue bands of markers turn up everywhere. Using the powers of "slight of hand," Gianna can fashion an impromptu tattoo right on Lola's fluffy white chest within moments of my eyes aiming in another direction.

Recently, Gianna has decided that Lola needs another collar. My tape measure is just the right thing to make that new collar, and she follows Lola throughout the day, trying to attach it. Lola skitters through the house, ears back, eyes horrified at the thought of strangulation by standard measurement. However, when I re-direct Gianna's attention to something else she finds entertaining (some differential equations, perhaps, or some Greek translations. It depends on the day), in approximately thirty seconds, Lola is peeking around the corner, looking for her strange little girl. An ice cube tray crammed full of play dough was vigorously offered to the Dogasus yesterday. Lola declined. Repeatedly. Then she walked away, while staring back at Gianna. As soon as she flopped down into her new observation spot, Gianna followed with more delicious play dough cubes. I redirected Gianna to the center of the floor, enticing her with more plastic utensils with which to mangle the dough. As soon as Gianna was occupied, Lola lifted her head and stared at me. And at Gianna. And back at me. Before long, she was walking back to Gianna, sniffing and poking her head into Gianna's business. And the dance continued.

On Gianna's end, she lives with concern that the dog will get her things or food. On the way to the kitchen for a "Grow-Lola-bar," (granola bar) Lola will typically follow us and at some point pass us and run for the kitchen door. She knows that following Gianna means following the action. Gianna, seeing this, yells frantically, "Lola's grow-lola-bar, NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! NO LOLA'S GROW-LOLA-BAR!!!!!!!!"

"Does Lola eat granola bars?" I ask her. "Nooo..." Gianna says uncertainly, and by the time we get to the granola bars, Lola is circling like a shark and Gianna is screeching to Lola. I put Lola outside, and retrieve a bar for the girl. Lola peers through the window while Gianna starts to eat the bar, and then Gianna squishes her bar into the window, screeching, "EAT! EAT GROW-LOLA-BAR!!!" This scene repeats multiple times a day, with various edible and inedible items.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Crying Babies- Not Just a Pain in Your Ass

"Belief in Baby's Cries," as Dr Sears himself calls this aspect of attachment parenting, is the understanding that babies have a reason for all that they do. This really is the crux of it- babies are born hardwired to survive. They give off an alarmingly loud and heart-tugging wail when something needs to be attended to. Usually, it has anything and everything to do with food, sleep, comfort, and nurturing. Breastfeeding, by nature, covers all of the above- it's food, it is sleep-inducing (for Mama and Baby), it brings a sense of comfort to the baby.

Take away the food on demand, or the sleeping in close proximity, or being held, and the baby will cry. This seems fairly simple to solve- obviously add the missing component, and the baby will stop.

Some people, who have decided that they are the God-send (literally) to all long-suffering parents, advise that the cries are an instrument of manipulation. That babies are in training to be major brats if their parents just cave in and nurse on demand, or enable them to sleep close by, or hold them too much. I'm not that politically correct enough to stop myself from saying- these people are complete buffoons. Wonderful examples of ignoramuses. Applying adult, learned behaviors such as manipulation and negative intent to small, primal creatures is appallingly self-centered and probably a good indication of how these adults live their lives- through manipulation and coercion.

Attachment parenting does not mean "Let the kids do whatever, whenever." It doesn't mean that just because Junior cries for a dirt bike at the tender age of 4, that he gets one. It also doesn't mean your children will never cry. It DOES mean that if the needs of babies are attended to at a very small age, and they understand (through constant repetition and immediate cause and effect) that their basic needs will be taken care of, that later on in the difficult toddler and preschooler "big feelings" stages (in other words, when the meltdowns cause Mom to wish for an invisibility cloak and cause onlookers to wish for a tranquilizer dart) that children ultimately understand that even though they are full of outrage and frustration, that it is not the end of the world. Their little "cups" are still nice and full.


Aside from the AP tutorial, and in personal news, our latest addition has already flown. In outline format, here are the order of events:

- Pregnancy detected.

- In May, right around 6-7 weeks, a heartbeat was seen on ultrasound. The baby was positioned perfectly, had a healthy heartbeat, yolk sac, and was developing a healthy placenta.

- Abruptly around week 9-10, all pregnancy symptoms (morning sickness, exhaustion, food aversions, etc.) stopped.

- Last Friday, the midwife listened for a heartbeat. Nothing. We tried to listen and doppler for more than a half an hour.

- Yesterday, an ultrasound confirmed that, at an even later gestation than last time, our baby has joined his or her siblings in the arms of God.

Very sad, and in an increasing amount of physical pain, we wait for everything to complete. We also are now on the path to some answers. Miscarriage and birth loss is a lonely place to be, even though it happens frequently. It's not spoken about until it happens, and then women whisper to one another, "I've been there too." It's still somehow seen as something to either hide, or forget, or put away. It's difficult to grieve for a person you never knew- while I know that this latest little sprout had chubby cheeks already, and looks on the ultrasound like a perfectly formed tiny babe, I have no idea what he or she would have been like.

Nothing happens without reason. I may never know that reason, but it doesn't matter- my babies did not live or die without a specific purpose. Gianna may have to wait a little longer for a sibling, but ultimately, we will understand someday when we do look into the brand new face of an arrival, and see what we were waiting for this whole time.

Friday, May 22, 2009


Strange circumstances happened to put me in the position of being able to carefully look at the roots of a beautiful little sprout.


Life is wonderful. Time to count down to a January harvest.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Great Day in the Morning

Has it really been a whole month? So much for my theory that I will blog more if I have assigned topics for myself!

So where was I? Co-sleeping. Ah yes. The little devil of Attachment Parenting, which NY is currently spending mystery money (the mystery being- where does it come from? I thought the state was flat broke!) trying to campaign against. Radio and television ads are all over, trying to scare people into making their babies sleep flat on their backs in a crib, in a room away from parents.

The research that they use to conclude that co-sleeping (or "the family bed") is scary and causes SIDS includes data from accidental co-sleeping situations. Where geniuses decide to hit the bottle of wine and take a few drags from a crack pipe before using their child as a pillow for their drunken stupor. Oddly, the research doesn't include cases where babies are in their cribs and they pass away from SIDS.

True co-sleeping situations involve (as all parenting situations do) some foresight. Small babies need to be kept away from pillows, blankets, stuffed toys, people who are medicated or drunk, sharp objects, electrical devices, and for God's sake, spoiled pampered pets. Mattresses need to be pushed completely to the wall so that there are no gaps, and the bed needs to be secured so that bambinos aren't falling four feet to the ground. For some people, that means a securely attached bed rail; for others, that means putting the mattress directly onto the floor.

For us, it meant a couple of things- when Gianna was tiny, we had her in our Arms Reach Co-Sleeper, firmly attached to the bed. If she happened to fall asleep next to me, the farthest she could fall if she rolled away was two inches. Now that she's bigger and older, she makes herself at home for part of the night in the center 80% of the bed. Previously, Mr. Clarateaches' strange coma style of sleep made it dangerous to have her between us. Now, Gianna kicks and dances through the night, so the danger of overlay is really small. The danger of the three of us making a capital letter H is fairly high.

At this point, Gianna is sleeping for at least half the night in her own bed, and then moves in on our territory. She loves her own bed, and her room, and has slowly but surely gotten more inclined to be in her own space- the fear of co-sleeping children "never" leaving the family bed is just hilariously silly.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Baby-Wearing: AP Aerobics

Baby-Wearing is one of my favorite AP philosophies. By using the pouch sling, wrap, or ring sling, I was able to stay connected with Gianna while getting things accomplished.

People who criticize attachment parenting philosophies often say that there is no time for anything else if you are constantly nursing or parenting to sleep or holding or interacting with a baby.

This is why slinging was used so many years ago. Let's hearken back to Cave Clara. There she is, pictured wearing her baby while she invents agriculture!

Ancient peoples from every part of the world wore their babies, when the oldsters of the tribe weren't babysitting. This was beneficial for many reasons- Cave Gianna (or Ancient Middle Eastern Gianna, or Mayan Gianna) wasn't on the ground, playing with snakes and scorpions. Also, wearing babies allowed for mothers to continue to contribute to their families and tribes while allowing babies to have access to their food (Mama milk, of course) and curbed the crying that could alert predators to a vulnerable situation.

Babies who are worn statistically cry less, have less reflux, and help tune parents in to who your child really is. The poor baby on the right, for example, is equally fascinated by the camera flash, and disgusted by her mommy's lack of proper mirror cleaning techniques. Wearing Gianna allowed her, from birth until recently, to be up where the action is. She was able to see things from a vantage point that allowed her to see beyond the ordinary low stroller view of legs and rear-ends. Not that I'm knocking strollers! But wearing ones baby even occasionally allows for a much broader educational experience, which relates to a higher comfort level with their surroundings.

Can you be an attached parent and NOT baby-wear? Gasp. Good heavens. Can you? Yes. Absolutely. Like everything else (and you'll see this pattern repeat when I discuss Co-Sleeping), as long as you are responding to your child in a caring manner, and adjusting the circumstances as necessary, you are still an attached parent if you don't baby-wear. When I had Gianna, the Cesarean incision made it difficult to wear her for several weeks. Currently, until I acquire a Mei Tei or other Asian-style carrier (better for carrying toddlers on ones back), Gianna doesn't fit too well in any of our current carriers. This didn't stop me last week when I plunked her in a ring sling and took her to "tea" in Lansing! (Wait a sec; this isn't a political blog...)

The basics: If you are in pain, you are either wearing that particular sling or wrap incorrectly, or it is the wrong baby carrier for you, or you have some health issues that mean that you will have to find another way to transport your baby. The first two issues are easily solved by finding a local chapter of NINO- Nine In, Nine Out, an organization dedicated to helping families find the best way to wear their baby. Another place to look would be local midwives or birth centers. Now, thanks to Etsy and Hyena Cart and lots of little self-organized sites by crafty moms, there is no limit to the types and styles of slings and wraps one can buy. Please, please, PLEASE do yourself a favor and test different styles out beforehand, if you can. My favorites for the tiny baby stage are the Hotsling pouch and Moby wrap. As Gianna got older, I liked the Hotsling as a hip pouch (the brown and blue striped sling in the photos) and the ring sling, where she cruised through life on my hip. I even got some use out of a Guatamalan rebozo (a loosely, but strongly, woven length of cotton) in a hip carry.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Mah-Milk! Breastfeeding and Attachment Parenting

Breastfeeding is the second principle of Attachment Parenting. This is something that I believe instinctively nourishes a true, attached relationship, if done instinctively, and guided by both baby and maternal instincts.

Can one formula-feed and be an attached parent? Yes. Can one breastfeed and be a detached parent? Yes. Let me explain.

My first example of intuitive, attachment parenting was my mother, and the way she parented me and my siblings, but particularly my youngest brother. However, my first non-family example of attachment parenting was a very good friend I made while living in Chicagoland. At the time, she was a mother to two little boys. I was amazed at how calmly and naturally and instinctively she parented- she remained constant, consistent, very "in-tune" and receptive, no matter where we were or what we were doing. She may not have had any idea of the fact that her parenting style had a name, as it never came up when we talked. Her style was so intriguing, she helped to bolster my conviction that mothers truly do know what their baby needs, and that if we can quiet the baby-trainer noise and well-intended (yet, detached) advice surrounding us, that we can create and nurture a wonderful* relationship with our children. Yet, she did not breastfeed.

She was one of many mothers who have had poor advice and shoddy lactation advice tossed their way upon giving birth. While many are very caring and try to be supportive of the mothers in their care, maternity nurses learn only the very rudimentary basics of lactation during nursing school. They are also stretched very thin, time-wise, when it comes to what they do while at work. If three nurses are on a shift in a ward where nearly a dozen mothers and their babies are resting after various forms of labor, there is very little time to focus on a time-consuming task like supporting a proper latch (of a baby who likely has been as drugged as his mother was at birth). Plus, let's be realistic- the pen that the charge nurse uses to jot her reports (as well as the Post-It notes used to leave little reminders around their desks, as well as the clock ticking away on the wall) all have the name of various formula companies across their front.

I have said it before, and will say it again- going to a medical establishment, where extremely rich formula and pharmaceutical companies peddle their wares and leave their swag, and expecting anything other than a very commercially-laden, medical experience is like going into a Chinese restaurant and ordering a burger. You are not going to like what arrives on your plate.

My friend tried her darnedest, without the knowledge or support of someone skilled in trouble-shooting latch or supply issues. She tried hard with her second son, too. With both, she did end up formula feeding, as much as she did not want to. Persistence, and a good copy of So That's What They're For: Breastfeeding Basics by Janet Tamaro, paid off for my friend. Her third son was breastfed by a very happy and proud mama!

Let me make no bones about it- and this is not a judgement call, but a reiteration of what formula companies say themselves, if you care to read the fine print: Formula is a very poor substitute for breastmilk. It was originally intended as a way to help war orphans survive until they could eat solid food, and was never meant to be peddled as a "caring choice" for mothers. In the United States today, formula is offered as a wonderful idea for mothers who just simply decided that they were not going to breastfeed. Just because an option is offered, does not make it equal. There are actually a lot of fantastic articles and blogs on this very subject, and I could probably create a whole blog just about this subject and write in it every day. My point is- as poor of a food choice formula may be for babies, if a baby is fed while being held and spoken to, and responded to when cues for hunger are given, this is still attached.

So how can a breastfeeding mother be a detached parent? By following the ultra-anal, super operant conditioning ways of many of the self-professed "parenting experts" who write books aimed at selling "definites" to over-tired parents who already have sky-high expectations of themselves. Breastmilk is designed to zoom through babies rather quickly, so to expect a small infant to wait exactly two (or three or four) hours for another feed is both harmful to infants and harmful to mothers. The parents who fall for these peddlers of cookie-cutter robot kids who eat and sleep and poop to the tick of an arbitrary clock are not poor parents, either. Nor are they stupid. They are, however, very sucked into the idea that to be independent, and to function as a self-reliant adult someday, that babies need to be trained right now to do these things. The baby trainers in question (namely Gary Ezzo, but there are many others) offer some smooth-talking and glib pseudo-science (and even in Ezzo's case, very faulty and non-scriptural based theology) to try to back up what they are saying.

I always knew I would breastfeed. I didn't always know how difficult it would be at the beginning. The first two weeks were very miserable- while in the hospital, I had an IV in my left arm right where my elbow joint bends, thanks to the nervous teenage EMT who loaded me with toys on the transfer. Holding Gianna on top of a needle and tube in my arm was very painful. The after pains, coupled with recovering from abdominal surgery was excruciating, and nursing only made it more so, as the hormones involved in breastfeeding cause the uterus to contract down and return to normal. Most of my time nursing Gianna once my milk supply came in was spent with clenched teeth, and my feet constantly uncontrollably kicking.

I was DETERMINED to do this, though. I knew that there was an "after," which some women aren't really told. I knew that if I could just get over the initial hill, the rest would be better, and it truly was. At about two weeks, I battled a slight case of mastitis, but kept nursing Gianna right through it. At three weeks, when she hit her first true neonatal growth spurt and wanted to eat every 2.5 seconds, I settled right in and nursed her whenever she wanted to eat. I didn't crack or lose my mind, and she didn't turn into a spoiled, demanding brat- she simply grew, and then settled into a different pattern of feeding. Which changed a few weeks later, and then again another few weeks later, and so on. By nursing her "on demand," I was able to relate to her that I could cover her needs, and she didn't have to wonder about her livelihood- this in turn meant that she didn't need to panic when she became hungry. Win-win. Not to mention, I learned a very important parenting lesson- challenges do not last, and a baby's needs and demands change so often, that a very good mantra to have for both wonderful and not-so-wonderful times is: "This too shall pass."

* When I refer to "wonderful," let it be known that even in a "wonderful" parenting relationship, things like tantrums, crazy mommy days, screaming, crying, and sibling rivalry still happen. Why? Well, because we are all human, and these are the things that help us to learn and grow. Will our wonderfully attached children still sometimes do goofball things like flush watches down a toilet, attempt to mail a younger sibling to Abu Dhabi, loudly bray family secrets to all who care to listen in a post office, and perhaps wildly drive the family automobile smack into a fire hydrant? You bet. The goal is to make the "after" of these events something that all parties are proud of, in terms of how everyone handles themselves and one another.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

I Want You To Want Me- Birth Bonding

What did I say in the last post about NOT running to a trusty, well-thumbed-through tome of parenting wisdom? To write these blogs, I actually DO need to go grab my copy of The Attachment Parenting Book by William Sears, MD and Martha Sears, RN. Trust me that it is not necessarily that we "follow" this book, or even agree with all of Dr. Sears' advice (we do not), but in order to wander through the principles of "AP" (Attachment Parenting), I need to see what they are! The last time I read this book was during one of those late third trimester sleepless nights- where I was so tired I couldn't sleep, and my bladder was so compressed that I practically lived in the bathroom. Needless to say, I have none of these principles memorized, but do have an understanding that I nodded through the book saying, "Yup, yup, uh-huh...okay...sure..." Then, Gianna was born, and this book was shoved into a corner where spiders built their webs, and dust bunnies multiplied profusely.

Let's start at the very beginning.


Dr. Sears heavily encourages the first few hours after a birth to be undisturbed, as these hours are sacred to the bonding experience of the new family. Some people, driven to hysterical bouts of the "Always-and-Nevers," think that this means that if, for any reason, the baby and mother are separated in the first hour, then all hope is lost and the bonding ship has sailed. Let's all stop and remind ourselves that we human beings outlasted the wild beasts and moved on to bigger and better things. McMansions and Youtube, especially. We can still allow our hormones and our babies' natural instincts to glue us together.

Babies know their mamas, who know their babies. Ideally, everyone would have an undisturbed birth- that is, no unnecessary pokings and proddings, no injections of narcotics or 'caine derivatives, and no artificial hormones. Lights would be low, and voices calm (with the exception of the birthing mother, who can make any sound she pleases, thanks very much) and immediately after birthing their baby or babies, the new little family can immediately enjoy each others company without immediate scrubbing of vernix, and all of the pediatric (dare I type it) bullshit that ends up poking a minutes-old infant with holes and gooping up its eyes.

Wishes, as a local lawyer likes to say on his local commercials, do not do dishes. Even when the above birth was the original plan, plans sometimes change. Even when those plans change, and a birthing mother suddenly needs medical attention, the bonding can still take place. It does take a little thought beforehand, and some finessing of the "system."

Here's what we did: Our story begins about 35 hours into labor. My water had broken about 17.5 hours prior, I had pushed for about four hours, Gianna had been crowned and visible for about two of those hours, and we (the midwives, Mr. Clarateaches and my own hallucinating self) had just decided to call an ambulance to take us to the hospital. Instantly, my mind raced- I had no idea what the outcome was going to be, but doula experience told me that surgeons ten miles away were already lovingly caressing their scalpels in anticipation of my arrival. I understood Michigan birth laws- the only single solitary thing legally required was the metabolic "5 Screen" blood test- all else (Vitamin K, erythromyacin, vaccinations, circumcision, tire rotation, oil, lube and filter) was at the parent's consent.

As I've written in the past, I arrived at the hospital to an outstanding team of all female surgeons, nurses, and techs. All I remember of them were their expressions as I hoarsely screamed my list of "Do NOT Consents-" I did NOT consent to ANY of the above optional accoutrements. The only thing they did not acquiesce to, to my heartache, was putting the baby onto my chest after being surgically removed. For twenty-five long, agonizing minutes, while I was having all of my guts randomly assigned new placement in my body ("Bladder, you take Left Lung's place. Lungs, you get in the back. Lower Intestines, this is a snug fit, so I want all of you to squeeze in..."), Gianna was being examined and wrapped up about six feet from my head. Fortunately for our little triad of crazy, Mr. Clarateaches could (and did) stand by while the only male of the night, the pediatrician, gave a cursory exam of the "full-term neonate, female" and declared her A-OK before scurrying back to his natural lair. And then, she was back with me, where she would stay for our remaining time in that prison of a hospital. We bonded immediately- we were completely and totally immersed in each other, and the twenty-five minutes apart didn't come close to mattering. Was it ideal? Was it "undisturbed?" Nope. But we made it work because I had to have it work. I needed to bond to my baby to be able to function. I gave myself no other option.

In the beginning, there we were.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

What ARE We Doing?

I feel rather blessed. I rarely have people question our parenting style in a malicious fashion. I have fielded questions about why I baby-wear, why I breastfeed for so long, and why we don't make Gianna sleep in her own bed. Those are usually curiosity, and as I don't make general proclamations about many of our tricks, there are probably a lot of things that are unknown, and therefore not inquired upon.

Every family has to find its own rhythm and flow. It's said so many times, but bears repeating- what works for one family is unique to that family, and dependent on its current conditions. Add a child, or remove a job, or sprinkle in any other life-changing event, and methods and manners of operation need to be reassessed.

We don't technically follow a leader. We're not people who instantly run to some well-thumbed through book at the onset of a new developmental twitch to try to figure out what to do. I like to think that we parent instinctively- that is, that we view what Gianna is doing in the light of her environment and her developmental stage. How we generally operate does seem to look somewhat like Dr. Sears' Attachment Parenting. So far, it seems to be creating a joyful and intelligent little girl, with parents who are sometimes frustrated, sometimes overwhelmed, but always laughing. And, always amazed.

In an effort to prod myself to post a little more, I'm going to try to take some of the principles of Attachment Parenting, and explain how we've used them, or possibly how we've had to tweak them. I know like I know like I KNOW that if we would have done things differently, say, followed a "baby trainer," or sleep-trained, we would not have the child we do today.

I want to make a preemptive distinction before I begin: there is a huge difference between saying that "X method" or "Baby Trainer Y" is faulty for whatever reason, and saying that someone is a poor parent for using these methods. Parenting is a hard row to hoe, and many baby trainers are very convincing (I would be too, if I wanted to sell my books!) With the next few blogs, I do not intend to tear down another mother. If you get something from what I write, beautiful. If you get nothing, well, no skin off my back. There is truly something to be said for separating the wheat from the chaff in terms of what will work for you. I do urge you to be honest with yourself about what is "working:" if you have an eerily quiet baby who is not very active, and doesn't really explore, but follows a precise schedule made by a best-selling parenting book and gives you a fairly easy life, who is benefiting? Is this truly "working?"

When I was pregnant with Gianna, I met a woman with a daughter who was 6 months old. I never saw this baby out of its car seat, even for a feed- the mom simply stuck a bottle into the baby's mouth with one hand, and functioned without looking at the baby with the rest of her body. She gave me the advice of- "Make sure you get time for you as much as possible- I just stick M----- in front of Baby Einstein- it's very educational, you know- and I get so much done. I barely have to do anything!" I never saw the baby cry, or move at all, really. Its placid gaze gave me heartburn and I vowed to never do whatever it was that made this woman's child such a mannequin. I didn't. Stay tuned for what did work, and continues to work today.


Today, Gianna and I went to JC Penney to try to use a gift card. I say "try," only because the last time I was in there, it looked like they were trying to "flash up" the place.

Fashion this season is virtually unwearable, unless you are preparing to march in Brazil during Carnaval. Bright colors and large prints abound, and most of the shirts I looked at had extra ruffles and even just extra triangles and rectangles of fabric sewn in fluttery disarray. For a brief moment, I glanced through the Junior section, where I last visited during the crazy clubbing days of college.

Then, I felt really old and had to race to the shoe section and beat myself senseless with a pair of Clark's that came really close to the "perfect pair," that Lola ate while I was pregnant. That little brown pair of slides was too beautiful for earth- an angst-ridden dog became convinced that I would never EVER return from the grocery store, and demolished them.

I examined the pair a little closer- Clark's used to be made in England. Now? Where else- China. I reluctantly put it back.

I did manage to find some basic tops and jeans that fit, thanks to St. John's Bay. I feel like I may as well just have "Little Old Lady" custom embroidered onto them, but they were the closest thing I could find to real clothing.

Gianna, in the meantime, did NOT want to be held. This was a first. She wanted, instead, to hold my hand and lead me around to the store. "Train, train," she chanted. Then- the jewelry department. "Neck-a-lace! Neck-a-lace!" she screeched. Rather than pry this season's wacky blobs of enamel out of her very strong and determined hands, I grabbed her and made a dash to the cashier.

Ahead of us in line was a woman and a small, elfin-looking girl. "Oh what a cute baby- say, 'Oh what a cute baby!'" the woman yelled to the little girl in an Eastern European accent. The little girl ducked her head and repeated the affirmation.

I thanked her, and then the woman prodded the girl, "Ask her, 'What is her name?'" The girl dutifully complied, and I told her, "Gianna. What's yours?" The little girl said her name, which I wish I remember- it was truly wonderful. Un-prompted, the girl then said, "I'm four!" Gianna stared at her with her fingers in her mouth. Then, she started picking her upper lip- a move that seems to happen when she's nervous. Or plotting revenge.

"Oh, look at her pick her lip! You're older than her, you better tell her to stop," boomed the woman. The four year old squirmed, and seemed instantly to realize that this was a social faux-pas, even though her mother (?) did not. To help the little girl save face, I looked at Gianna, who was picking a good sized flap of skin from her lip, and said, "Ouch! That's going to hurt pretty soon."

Gianna solemnly considered this, and then pulled the bit of skin from her lip and shoved it into my lips. The crowd went wild. "Ahhhh! Oh my goodness, did you see that? Did you see that?" the woman shrieked at the four year old. I removed the little skin bit from my mouth and mentally thought of all of the other disgusting things I've managed to get into my mouth since becoming a mother.

Fortune smiled upon us and a voice called out, "Next in line, please!"

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Inhale Up, Exhale Down

Pre-Gianna, I used to be a Pilates freak. Starting in high school, my sister and I read Joseph Pilates original books, and practiced hard to breath and stand properly. It helped later when I, for one whole summer, boxed with a former Golden Gloves contender. It was an entire year before the movie Girlfight came out, and the moment I saw the previews for that movie, I knew I could never box again. I still tried to maintain a strict conditioning routine, to keep up my fighting form. Because I knew that... it'd be tragic...if those evil robots win...

Where'd I go? At any rate, fast forward to giving birth via evisceration, and my core is just not the same. I tried doing "Mommy Infant Yoga" when Gianna was a baby, but it was a good way to either 1) irritate a baby who just wanted to nurse, or 2) find myself covered in regurgitated milk. So, we tabled Pilates for a bit.

Now that summer is coming, and I'm contemplating a future pregnancy, I decided that it's time to rip up the abs once more. A toddler can handle ten minute spurts of Pilates at a time, right?

I popped the instructional DVD in, pulled on the yoga pants, and got right down to it. Gianna observed this casually, eating a fistful of cheddar bunnies. As soon as I laid back and pulled in my core, she was on me. "Mama!" she crowed, drizzling partially-chewed cheddar bunnies on my cheek and neck. I paused the DVD, cleaned myself off, and resumed the tape. Lola grunted and stared.

In the middle of the "Hundred," I was body-slammed again- this time, she landed belly-first on my face. I rolled her off, and she screeched. I explained to her that I was exercising, and she could play nearby. She, as 20 month olds do, decided to clothesline me back to the ground. Lola walked over and sniffed, trying to decide if I was in peril.

Three weeks later, I can actually get through one, 10-minute workout with minimal interference. In fact, Gianna gleefully yells, "Plah-tees!" and earnestly touches her toes and flips her legs around. She does this exactly three millimeters away from me, though, and likes to sit directly underneath me to point out all of my 2,000 body parts while I'm trying to ronde de jambe.

Lola, in the meantime, aspires to be a girl boxer. Poser.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Out Came the Sun...

A few days ago, I stood in front of the bathroom sink, preparing to leave the house. Gianna came marching in, carrying her stuffed rabbit. She plunked the rabbit onto the Baby Bjorn Little Potty, and commanded, "Sit. SIT! Stayyyy... stayyyy... Good. Cookie." (She then held her hand under the rabbit's face for a second). Suddenly she grabbed the bunny and whirled it around and crammed its face into the potty, yelling, "EAT! EAT!" and laughed uproariously at herself.

My sunshine girl. Right now is not easy at all, but she makes it far better.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

I Feel Numb

...Don't grab
Don't clutch
Don't hope for too much
Don't breathe
Don't achieve
Or grieve without leave...

A quick warning: Do not read if you are squeamish. There aren't necessarily graphic details, but it's a bit on the honest side.

After about a week or more of various signs and symptoms, and the exhilarating high of hearing the midwife announce that she did hear heart tones, reality shot me out of the sky this morning with the definite announcement of "No heartbeat." The very brisk and efficient ultrasound technician was clearly a member of the old "Impale them with all of your might" methodology. Note to ultrasound technicians everywhere- "Has previously given birth" does not equal "Capacity of 'Debbie Does Dallas.'"

Her spic-n'-span blunt ways were the complete opposite of the squishy-gooey love-fest the doctor was doling out. I mentally resigned myself to the upcoming platitudes as soon as I saw his gigantic button that declared: "Listen to Women." Sigh. I should have known that before I left that room, he would envelope me in a giant hug.

Long story short- the baby's life ended (or really, became eternal) about two weeks ago. I am not positive what heart tones the midwife heard days ago, but it might have actually been our combined hope of hearing a heartbeat that manifested itself. At any rate, it is over. I am not quite sure what I will be doing in August, but I will not be holding my newborn.

I had originally planned on describing the idiocy that captures people when they are near pregnant women for my next blog entry, and I will probably do that at some point. Today, however, I will list actual statements that were told to me today that should never be said to a mother whose body is slowly, but surely (and painfully) losing her baby at that precise moment:

- "Well, don't you have a living child? How old? 18 months?!? Well, okay then- you've got a baby at home..."

As though a subsequent baby would be a replacement, perhaps? Or I was creating one as a spare? I don't know what to do with that comment.

- "This was planned? Hmm..."

Again, no idea what that is supposed to imply. I think the nurse's filter was broken today, too.

- "Good thing this happened now, and you're not finding out about something being wrong at 6 months, and having to make a bad decision then..."

Yes, it's a GOOD thing. I'm going right out and celebrating when I leave here.

- "Now, you should wait until this baby and everything has completely left before trying to have another baby."

Because God knows, the first thing that someone who is contracting and bleeding wants to do is hop into the sack. Yeah baby.

Sigh. A few things that I did hear today that was helpful:

- "Drink some wine, eat some chocolate, do some yoga- whatever you want. Just do whatever you want for a while."

Got it!

And the most touching, from an online forum friend who has experienced loss:

- "...
This child will never know the pain and heartache of a sin filled world. This child was born directly into the arms of Jesus..."

That is the image that will have to keep me from becoming unglued, especially this summer when I realize one day that it is August 22, and I am not preparing for a little warm, wrinkly, sleepy baby.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Stark Gravid Crazy

My neighbors must suspect by now that I'm pregnant. It seems like every time they witness me doing something that seems (to the naked eye) to be a little insane, that I'm either in the "too large for maternity clothes" stage of the third trimester, or "large-eyed and starving with crazy hair" stage of the first trimester.

Our front area is covered in a thick sheet of ice. This is the first winter this has happened, and I absolutely hate it. No amount of salt or shoveling seems to do anything to it. I had the idea one day to throw a pot of boiling water on it- no change. If anything, it only became worse. So while Gianna napped a few days ago, I grabbed a claw hammer and got right to work trying to hammer it into chunks. Ice chips were flying, and little dents formed in the ice, and by the very edge of the step, small amounts of the ice actually chipped off. While turning my head to avoid flying ice shards, I caught the horrified expression on my neighbors' faces as they pulled out of their driveway and paused briefly to take in the scene. Freezing, and only slightly successful, I gave up.

When I was enormously gigantic with Gianna (and I am not kidding- she stuck way out like some sort of bow of a cruise ship) I decided to calmly and harmlessly retrieve my mail. At that same moment, the man who graded our road at the time was directly in front of our house, on his tractor, paving his heart out. God bless his eccentric soul, this man is in his early 90's, and is missing about 1/3 of his total body parts, including an arm, many teeth, both knees, his hearing and goodness knows what else. For whatever reason, the sight of my girth and width looming in his direction caused a glimmer of chivalry to spark in his ordinarily curmudgeonly demeanor. (Note- Our latest Home Owner's Association minutes includes a reference to the five complaints received regarding "Mr. Road Grader shaking his fist" at people. I wonder- was it his driving fist, or his hook?)

He grinned toothlessly at me, and yelled over the tractor's engine, "Need them rocks moved?" I looked down to the base of the mailbox, where he gestured. There were two large (about the size of a basketball, and a bowling ball, respectively) decorative rocks placed on the ground as someones idea of the "finishing touches" to what they thought would be a profitable house-flip.

"No, thank you!" I hollered, trying to clearly mouth the words in case he was interested in actually reading my lips. He was not, and he ratcheted himself over to my side to pick up the smaller of the two rocks. "No, NO! Leave it there!" I said, waving both hands. He grinned and answered, "The hook's my good 'un, the other wrist is just bad," and proceeded to use his hand to flip the rock onto his hook, and then try to stand from squatting. He bellowed like an elephant, and I screamed. I was fairly certain that I was going to witness the dismemberment of his other limb.

Neighbors started to poke their heads outside while he limped over to the bucket of the tractor, and I hurried to try to grab the other rock and hide it before he could get there. His titanium alloy knees were too quick for me, and he made his way back over while yelling, "I got it, I got it!"

I desperately glanced in the backyard, where Mr. Clarateaches was blissfully mowing the lawn, completely unaware of the lunatics pageant going on in the front. I knelt down to get in front of the rock while waving my hands again. "NOOO! It's OKAY! Leave it THERE!!!" I yelled in my most authoritative "teacher" voice possible. The teenagers across the street stared, mouths wide open. "Aw, it's okay, I know how hard it is to do things when you're gettin' ready to have a baby. I don't mind!" he responded, grunting to kneel back down and hooking the rock into a cradle hold again.

By then, I gave up and silently watched him yell in agony at standing up again, and then inch back to the tractor, slide the rock into the bucket of the tractor, and cackling, drive away.

Lola was just about one year old when I was nearing the end of Gianna's pregnancy. She had just learned that the yard, complete with a brick-wall-bordered garden was perfect for a puppy steeplechase. One day, while trying to get some Vitamin D, I learned that she loved the game where I hid behind the side of the house and jumped out at her while she ran by, which caused her to run even faster, skirt around me and leap madly over the brick walls, turn and run all the way around the yard, and get back just in time for me to do it again.

Think of the confusion, therefore, when the teenage son of the neighbors to the back of our property, arrived home from school. To his vantage point, as Lola was quickly shooting behind the wall as soon as I jumped out at her, he saw:

- A pregnant lady jumping out from behind a wall, towards the direction of his house, hands in claws and yelling, "Rawr!" and then ducking back. He could not see Lola, I quickly realized.

As soon as I saw his horrified and perplexed, frozen-to-the-ground-in-fear expression, I slunk back into the house.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Hold On Tightly

I was one of those kids- the kind that had to pull up growing plants by the roots to see how things were growing on the other end. It wasn't that easy to just trust that if there were little round leaves on top, that there were roots on the other end.

The choices that we make for growing healthy babies do not include routine (read: mindlessly done in the name of, "well, it's always been done this way") interventions. No ultrasound until week 20- necessary now only because there is now a question of where the placenta is located relative to the Cesarean scar. No unnecessary exams of the... um... exit strategy. No poking, prodding, injections, nothing.

The first trimester is chock-full of fear, however. Especially when a loss has happened once before. From the moment that second line turns pink, the questions invade the mind- "Is something really there? Really? Is it growing? How can I know for sure?" I still don't trust those little round leaves.

And now, a crossroads. Evidence today that things might not be going so swell, after all. Do I wait for the midwife appointment in a week, and see if we can hear a little heartbeat in the Doppler, or do I go ahead and look for a quick medical peek at this little plants roots- do I find a sonogram technician that can relieve my mind once and for all? Will I be relieved enough to trust that the roots are growing, if I can just see that little flashing heartbeat on a monitor?

The very core of faith. Oddly enough, the only other current question on the docket managed to resolve itself while I was settling Gianna for her nap. We have potential boys names, many, in fact. Girls names, on the other hand, are just not quite coming to us. We've had a few strong potentials, but nothing that reached out and grabbed us and said, "That's it!" Until today. Gianna received a pink, glittery deer as a Christmas gift topper, that was quite the amusement to her up to and especially when she picked out the deer's eyes.

Staring into the hollows where the little pink deer used to have eyes, it was settled. If this baby is to be, and if it is a girl, she is already named. If you happen to know a little bit about the saints, you might be able to guess what her first name will be.

Hold on, little growing babe.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


"Baby fall!"
"Momma's chair."
"Daddy's shoes."
"Help, please!"

My little Pokemon has hatched the power of phrases, and it's a brand new day in communication. She can command and demand on a whole new level, now. We ventured out into the freezing cold weather to buy eggs and a chicken from our CSA farm one day, and after knocking on the door a couple of times to no answer, we headed back into the warm car to call them. Upon hearing that we would be attended to immediately, we returned to the door. Gianna craned her head around to look directly at me, and said, "This, Mommy- Knock!" and demonstrated the correct way to knock on the door. Naturally, the door opened this time, cementing Gianna's belief that she needs to carefully supervise any and all of my actions.

Lola still hasn't figured out what to do when accosted by a dandelion-puff-haired tot screeching, "NO! Sit! Siiiiiiiiiiiit!" She does love it when Gianna offers her food. Unfortunately for Lola, Gianna has discovered that it is hilarious to feed the dog non-food items, so odds are pretty good that if we hear a high-pitched shriek of, "Eat! EEEEEEEEEEEAT!" followed by raucous laughter, we had better go save Lola from a snack of any variety of small toys.

A new journey begins, as I passed a particular human chorionic gonadotropin test with flying colors early in December. Caring for Ramona Quimby the Toddler while trying to scrape oneself off the bathroom floor is not as difficult as I originally thought, as she readily passes time by peeling labels from nail polish bottles. Re-visiting meals of days past in the form of cloth diapers during this time is probably as bad as I originally expected, but I'm soldiering through. Many memories of Gianna's gestational past are resurfacing, and I can't believe the form of amnesia that wiped them out- there has got to be a primal, advantageous reason for this, as people continue to create more people.

What the heck was I saying? At any rate, the newbie will be here sometime in mid-August, shortly after Gianna turns terrific two. Stay tuned, as I spiral more deeply into the crazy throes of motherhood.