Sunday, November 28, 2010

I hate Wednesday

You know how sometime you have tons to say, but you just can't. We've had visits with social workers, visits with R, baby E's baptism, family visiting, stuff with the kid, and more. But I just can't seem to figure out how to write about it. I could just blame it on being busy with all of the above, in addition to school stuff, but I don't know that that would really be the reason. Part of it is some frustrating situations that have occurred regarding baby E and the adoption process, but I can't really write about on here. I wish I could because I think it would help me process and deal, but it's just not an option right now. Which sucks.

Alot of my writer's block (if you will) is that I'm going back to work this week and I simply can't deal with it. Hubby keeps asking me why this is so difficult for me and I don't think there's just one reason. Here are a few... First, we waited for baby E for 2 years and it seems so wrong to me to go back to work when I'm just starting to get to know him, when he's starting to get to know me. Then there's the whole breastfeeding thing. I've spent so much time, energy, money, etc... (as I've previously discussed) preparing for it, I'm terrified that once I go back to work, it'll all fall apart. And he's still really inconsistent with his sleep. 2 nights ago I got 7 hours of sleep - woohoo!!!!!! Then last night he was up at least every 2 hours. We follow the same routine, he just doesn't. And I know that my dear friend who will be caring for him is going to love him and take splendid care of him. And I know that he's probably going to be fine and millions of kids survive just fine while their mommas work outside the home.

And, yes. It's possible that all these fears are completely unfounded and inconsequential and ridiculous. So here's the last reason - I just don't want to leave him. I'm not ready. There's nothing I want more right now than to sit at home, cuddling baby E, playing with the kid, spending time with hubby, simply focusing on my family. For some reason, I have been feeling like I have to justify that. But screw it. I don't have to. There's nothing wrong with that being the whole reason I want to stay home - because I just do. I want to focus on being a mommy and wife right now. What better reason could there be??!!

But I can't. We have bills to pay and health insurance to have covered and I can't responsibly leave my employer completely in the lurch right now. And that's why I'm cranky and really tearful today. Because Wednesday I go back to work. Fortunately, my boss has been very generous and is allowing me to take baby E with me for a half day of Wednesday, then only work a long-ish half day Thursday, before going back for a full day on Friday. And I leave my baby for the first time. Up til now the longest I've left him has been for 2.5 hours. And Friday I have to leave him for 8 hours. I'm going to miss 8 hours of cuddling and smiles and giggles. About 3-4 nursing sessions. About 4 diaper changes (which I enjoy because he's usually smiling and happy). 8 hours away from my baby. More than three times the amount of time I've left him up until now. And it just sucks. And please don't say that it had to happen eventually because I obviously realize that. All I'm saying is that I'm just not ready for it to happen yet.

Today's lesson - sigh... But on the bright side - baby E apparently likes dresses! When the kid was baptised, he screamed from the moment we put the baptismal gown on him, til we took it off. Baby E smiled and was very content. Also, he might look cute in a tutu that I made for my niece. And he makes a pretty girl ;)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Potty Problems

The kid. My kid. My precious little boy. I adore him. He was at the epicenter of our lives until recently. Now he has to share that with baby E. The first 6 weeks after baby E was born were great. The kid adores his baby brother. He helped us, was gentle, didn't seem to mind that his attention had been usurped. Sure, he was a little more active than usual (though heaven only knows how that is even possible!), but that was it. Other than that, he was just our little guy, slightly amped up.

Then, about 2 weeks ago, the kid had a couple potty "accidents". First he peed a couple of times in his underwear. Then he had a poop accident. He also started being a bit more defiant. This also coincided with the time change, so I was willing to believe that perhaps this behavior was due to him being overtired. We moved his bedtime back a bit and the defiance resolved. The bathroom "accidents", however, did not. In fact, they only escalated. This weekend he pooped in his underwear 6 times. 6 times, people!!!!!

Hubby and I are really struggling with how to respond. At first we tried talking to him about it and trying to get out of him why he was having accidents. No luck there; he wasn't able to articulate anything, in fact, he refused to discuss it at all. Then we tried removing privileges. And giving rewards for appropriate behavior (no accidents/going in the toilet). Also not successful. So, Sunday evening I told him if he had another accident he would be wearing diapers. A couple of hours later he did, so into a pullup he went. And then proceeded to poop in it. Then last night I told him if he had another incident, he would be wearing a diaper to school. He did, so to school today he went in a diaper.

We're trying to stay unemotional when responding to his "accidents" (and I am putting accidents in quotations because I don't think there's anything at all accidental about the incidents) but it's really challenging. I keep reminding myself that he won't go to college soiling himself. And I keep reminding hubby that there is no point making this into a battle, because it's one we can't win. When and where he "goes", well that is one of the few things in his life over which the kid has any control. If we try to engage him in a battle, he will win. Though really, we'll all lose.

I'm pretty sure he's trying to get the attention he's accustomed to and missing. And even if what we're giving him is negative, it's still attention. So, for now he gets to wear diapers until he uses the toilet appropriately. He will clean himself up after an "accident", in the bathroom, by himself. We will use quiet, unemotional voices when discussing the issue. He will not watch TV (not that he did much anyway) until he has 2 days in a row of good bathroom choices. And, we will look for opportunities to praise him extra for appropriate behaviors/good choices. Surely it will work. He won't be 18 still doing this.........RIGHT??!!!!!!

Today's lesson - babies are absolutely much easier than 4 year olds. They're not as funny though. And they don't hug as tightly. Or sing really cute songs to you. Or tell you that you're a rock star of a mom. All human behavior has meaning behind it. The trick is to find the meaning...

Saturday, November 20, 2010


We spend the first 1-2 years of our children's lives proving to them that they are indeed the center of the world...then the rest of their lives trying to convince them that they are not. This hit me strongly last night as the kid and I were on a "momma date" with a friend and her kiddo. We were at Monkey Joe's (kid place with bouncy house things all over the place. It's actually really great and I didn't feel overwhelmed at any point. Which, after a traumatic visit to Chuck-E-Cheese last year, is saying a lot.) and the kid was having a big ole time. He climbed up into one of the bouncy-thingies (that's actually the technical name for them, just so you know), and found a little perch, where he could see and be seen by those below. And then he started to do what he does - be cute and attempt to get everyone's attention. He was waving and saying "hello", not being obnoxious or anything, just overly friendly. And no one, save me, was paying him any attention because they were all paying attention to their own (slightly less) adorable children. He started looking perplexed, though persisted for several minutes. Finally, it seemed to dawn on him that no one was going to respond. I was afraid his feelings were going to be hurt, but mostly he just seemed confused. He recovered quickly, as children do, and ran off to play.

But I mean, think about it. If, for your whole life you've believed 1 thing (that you will always get everyone's attention because you're adorable and articulate), to be presented with a conflicting piece of evidence is rather disconcerting. And for the kid, to see that baby E is now so much the center of attention, where the kid used to be all by himself, how confusing it must be.

And I wonder, how as parents do we support our kids through this change. Infants are the center of the world, right? They have to be in some ways because they are so very dependent on us for everything. Also, they are incapable of seeing outside of themselves because, well, that's just how they're wired. So, how, after a year or more (try 4.5yrs for the kid) of being the center, do we as parents help our kiddos realize that they are only a tiny part of the world? And, though they are often still the center of our little families, should they be? Is that best for them, is it even best for a marriage, to have children at the center of everything? Shouldn't our goal be to teach our children that they are no more/no less important than any other member of our family, any other person in our world?

While that may not be the pop culture view of a parent's job (which seems to be more like bestowing the "my kid is the best/smartest/most advanced/etc... in the world" mentality), I think it's where I lie. So, yes, I do think my kid is the cutest in the world. However, I totally realize that I am slightly biased and it is likely not reality that he is the cutest kid in the entire world, even though he is in my eyes.

And, I think it's important for him to know that he isn't the most/best. And that inversely means that he is not the least/worst at anything either. And no, I don't think my kid is mediocre. And yes, I do think he is capable of big things. Actually, I expect big things of him. I expect him to change the world. I just don't expect him to not make mistakes while doing it. It seems to me that when we'll teach our children that they are the center of the world, we set them up for failure. If I think I'm the best, then I can do no wrong. This leads to self-centeredness - not a trait I want my kid to develop. Or, I get so immobilized by fear of messing up, that I just don't even try - also not what I want for my kid.

So, all I know to do to help the kid come to terms with not being the center of the universe, is give him opportunities in his life to succeed, and allow him to fail. And be there throughout it all, letting him know that I love him whichever side he falls on, also that I expect him to care for others, not just himself. Sigh...if only it was that clear cut.

Today's lesson - apparently the baby not sleeping at night thing is the easy part of this whole parenting gig. Go figure.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Oh, Sleep...

I love sleep. Love it. Before the kid was born, I would get 9-10 hours a night. We lived 2.4 miles from my work, and I would sleep til 7:15, or even 7:30 and still make it in by 8. On the weekends, I would sleep in til 11, 12, heck, I'd sleep til hubby came in and told me to get up. Sometimes on the weekends, I'd get 12 or 13 hours of sleep a night. It was wonderful.

Hubby, on the other hand, has always been an early bird, up as soon as the sun, sometimes even earlier. He'd have half a day in before I ever rolled out of bed. And then he'd be in bed an hour or more before I even thought about it. We used to joke all the time about how awful it was going to be for me when our baby finally arrived and I would no longer get my required 9 hours. But hubby, of course, would be fine, because he was already flourishing on 6-7 hours/night. Someone even suggested that I shouldn't nurse our children, because obviously that would even further cut down on my sleep, which I surely couldn't handle.

So, imagine our surprise when the kid arrived and hubby became a grouchy man, while I only yawned more and exercised less because of my tiredness; my mood was hardly affected. But then, as tends to happen, as the kid got older and we all got more sleep, amnesia about how the lack of sleep affected us set in (though my exercising never returned - go figure). Until, that is, baby E arrived, along with a yawning momma and a very cranky poppa. Something had to be done.

What we had been doing was hubby would get up when baby E woke up, change him, and get him ready for me to nurse. He would go back to sleep after that, while I was nursing, though I would wake him back up after a little while if baby E wouldn't go to sleep. However, what ended up happening was that the kid was getting the cranky end of the poppa stick. And then me getting cranky, because the poor kid was getting a raw deal. And then hubby getting crankier because I was being cranky with him. Yeah, like I said, something had to be done.

So, I started just getting baby E back to sleep on my own, which has resulted in me getting even less sleep though hubby getting more and thankfully being generally less crabby. Now, my getting less sleep is not that big of a deal right now, but I am scared about what will happen when I return to work in a couple of weeks - how am I, when I can no longer nap, going to function on what ends up being about 4-5 hours a sleep/night (and no, it's not 4-5 hours in a row - that would probably be okay)?? How am I going to be able to sit with people and hear horrible things that have happened to them without either falling apart myself, or just continually yawning... Oh, y'all, I'm afraid it's not going to go well. (Side Note - baby E just started making the most pitiful noises in his sleep. He doesn't want me to go back to work either!)

So, now that I totally understand why my mom was always in bed at 10pm (since that's now late for us!), I need to figure out some way to get enough sleep to be able to function. If you have any suggestions, I'm open to them...

Today's lesson - pacifiers are a little bit awesome. There. I said it.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Bottle Incident

It was inevitable. Well, if I was able to stay home full-time, it wouldn't have been, but since I do have to go to work (a post for another day) it had to happen. Baby E eventually had to get a bottle. I've been putting it off as long as I could. Hubby has been saying to everyone "I haven't even gotten to feed him yet!", though he seems to have known better than to ask me.

With the kid, he always had bottles along with nursing and I feel like that was part of what made me eventually give up when he was 5-6 months old (that and the biting he did - but by that time we were only nursing a couple times a day and sometimes not even that). I have been determined for almost 2 years now that this child would be breastfed, and with much more success and longevity than the kid was. I figure I've nursed baby E somewhere around 500 times (he's 51 days old, approximately 10 feedings/day). He did have bottles in the hospital when I wasn't there, but he hasn't had one since he came home; neither hubby nor I have ever given him one.

I think because I have put so much time, effort, and even money into making breastfeeding this kiddo successful, I've been even more hesitant to do anything that might mess it up. Even though I knew the likelihood of me ever having enough milk to provide even half of what he would need was low, I became rather emotionally attached to the idea that I would be able to give him at least quite a bit of what he needs. So, part of my hesitation (let's be honest, it was more like complete opposition) to baby E having a bottle was that I would have to pump, and come face-to-face with how much milk I was producing. I was afraid that it would be much of anything.

Another thing that was holding me back, was I was afraid that he wouldn't take it. I mean, he kinda hated the pacifier (though grudgingly will take it now, for a few minutes at least - well, he'll take it from someone other than me). Okay, brutal honesty? I was afraid he would take the damn bottle, love it, and never want to nurse again. There. That's it. That was my deepest fear. I was afraid of losing the one thing that only I can do for him. Yeah, yeah. I know. That's not really the case, but it's what my fear has been.

So, what did happen? I knew we needed to do this because I am going back to work in a couple of weeks, and he's gonna have to take the evil bottle from someone. I decided in my head that it would have to happen this weekend. I put it off til today, the end of the weekend, the last possible moment. I finally told hubby that it was time. He looked all gleeful and stuff. I, on the other hand, was near tears. I made the bottle, handed it to hubby, and watched as hubby and the kid gave baby E his first bottle. And baby E, that little traitor, did just what I had been most afraid he'd do - he took it like it was the best thing he'd ever met. And I went off to my bedroom to pump. And to cry.

So, it's not the end of world. Yes, I know. And baby E has nursed successfully several times since the bottle incident. But, I am still sad about it. Really, I wanted him to hate that stupid bottle. I wanted him to scream and throw a big ole fit until I came and nursed him, when he'd just settle right down and sigh with contentment. Life, parenthood, neither ever goes quite as planned. While my head knows that this was good - it's good that baby E will take a bottle, my feelings are a little hurt.

Today's lesson - it's really hard when your baby starts to grow up. And, yes. Baby E taking a bottle is totally him starting to grow up. (insert pouty face here)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The adoption triad

After my last post, someone commented that, like all relationships, the ones in an open adoption take work and effort and time. I was like, "well, yeah. I know this". It seems obvious, right? And I'm a social worker - I deal with relationships all the time; relationships are kind of the basis of the work I do. But then it hit me that there's a relationship I totally neglected to consider.

As an essentially selfish creature, I'm surprised to find that I never stopped to think about how an open adoption relationship would affect us - hubby and me, and how it would affect me personally. In so wanting an open adoption, I considered how it would be beneficial for our child, and for the birth family. I wanted our children to have access to their birth families, to get answers to those questions, answers we'd have no way of knowing. I wanted my children to know where they come from, to know who they look like. I wanted the birth family to have some peace about their decision. I wanted them to be able to see that their child is loved, healthy, happy. I thought about the relationship as being between those two factions of the adoption triad. I saw hubby and I as only facilitators of that exchange. I forgot to consider how it would affect us, how we would be directly involved ourselves, how we would feel.

So, that, I think, is the reason I am struggling with how things are between us and R - because I never even thought that there really would be an "us and R". Stupid, right? Not to have realized that before. Because it's so awkward, and we feel so territorial right now, I think we're trying to keep it about R and baby E, when what we really want - a long term relationship with all of us, has to come from hubby and me building a relationship with R, not just facilitating a relationship between her and baby E. By keeping conversations about just baby E, we're further focusing the relationship on the two of them, instead on all of us. What we really need to do is get to know R, and let her get to know us, in ways that have nothing (or at least less) to do with baby E. What can I say? Sometimes I really do miss rather obvious details. It's a character flaw, I suppose.

Today's lesson - sometimes we all miss the forest for the trees. Sometimes, though, we also miss the individual trees for the forest. It's about finding a balance between the two, which is, of course, easier said than done.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

TPR petition

What I haven't posted here, but have on FB, is that R signed the TPR petition last week, and, I assume, D (birthdad) did this week. And what I can't figure out is why I haven't been shouting it everywhere and to everyone. We had a visit with R on Friday and it was fine, it was good. At the end of the visit, I told her I had a stack of pictures for her, but just needed to write on them (who they were, where we were, etc...). But then she said she would bring a camera next week to leave for us to take additional pictures. I instantly bristled. I mean, I just told her I have a bunch for her. And, heck, I hardly use our camera throughout the day because I'm too busy holding baby E and thus don't have a free hand. I, well, I just don't get why she asked, but mostly I just don't get my reaction.

I was talking with my dear friend, M, a couple of weeks ago, processing my reactions to some of the things R says (like when she refers to baby E as "my little man". I told her that I knew once the TPR was done I wouldn't care what R said about baby E. M told me that it would still bother me, and I blew her off, thinking, "there's no way". M and her husband have a son, who was also adopted, and they have an open and ongoing relationship with the birthmom. Now, I must confess, I've often wondered at M's reactions to the things the birthmom says, thinking M was overreacting. I thought, "what difference does it make what she says, he's your son; he calls you mommy, not her. Let her say whatever she needs to to deal with it".

Oh, but do I get it now. My experience with the kid's birth family was so very different. I can see now that they completely detached, insofar as they stopped thinking of the kid as their child. I just assumed that was what happened to everyone. And maybe it will sometime in the future, but it's not where R is right now. She still very much considers E her baby. However, I do believe she also seems him as ours. This open adoption stuff is more complicated than I expected, more complicated than what we're used to.

So, to my dear friend M, I am so sorry for judging you. I am sorry for doubting you, for thinking I could do better. I now know how conflicting it is, how gut wrenching it is to feel that someone else is claiming your child as her own. I think it's another infertility cross we bear.

So, today's lesson is not one I can claim authorship to - never judge another until you walk a mile in her shoes.

Friday, November 5, 2010

A Moment

I was sitting staring into baby E's eyes. We were having a moment. I was thinking, "I wonder who he will be? Who will he be in and of himself? Who will he be in our family? Who will he be in our world?". And then I thought, "What will he do to ease the suffering of others? How will he be a light and example to others? And what does he need from me to be able to do all that he is capable of doing?".

And then the most amazing thing happened. He got this really serious look in his eyes, opened them big, eyebrows way up high, arms and legs started flailing. And then he screamed "FEED ME!!!!!!!!!!!". Now, obviously he didn't actually say those words, but the meaning was fully obvious. And then I smelled a most identifiable odor. That's right. There I was having a moment, and all he was doing was being a baby - needing to be fed, and pooping, doing just what he was supposed to do.

It was such a good reminder for me. Instead of wondering and worrying about the unknown future, what I really needed to be doing - what baby E really needed from me - was to be here, in the present, giving him the things that I can easily do. So then I had another moment. I thought, "Wow, this is all he needs from me right now. Sometimes it feels overwhelming (like 4am when we've been up all night every 2 hours nursing), but I can totally do it. And all those other things he's going to need from me in the future, to become who he's supposed to be, those I can do, too. In this moment, all of those things feel completely overwhelming, but in the moment he needs them, I will be given the grace to do what he needs".

So, today's lesson is simple. Live in the moment. Do what needs to be done now. All that stuff in the future, you will have what you need then to accomplish it. And now, I hear him cooing. So what he needs from me right now is to smile and coo back. That, I could do all day!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Sleep, well, more accurately a lack thereof

You know how sometimes you lay in bed at night and compose a whole conversation/email/blog post/etc... and it's brilliant, like life changing. But then when you wake up, you have no idea what it said, heck you might not even remember the topic. Yeah, that's me lately. I'm pretty sure it's because baby E isn't sleeping well at all, thus we aren't sleeping well. Well, to be fair, baby E sleeps great...when we're holding him. However, as soon as you put him down, whether he's been asleep for 5 minutes or 2 hours, he's awake within 10 minutes, and is pretty pissed off about it.

I'm kind of at a loss about what to do about this, well, loss of sleep. He went for about a week sleeping at least one 4-5 hour stretch (going 6hours between feedings). And that was fantastic. But then that was gone, and though he'll still go about 6hours (once) between feedings, he is back to waking every 2-3 hours, needing us to assist him in getting back sleep. It's actually worse now at 5weeks than it was when he was a newborn. And I am exhausted. And so is hubby, who is rather crabby, I might add. I'm sure I'm totally pleasant, though. The kid was definitely a better sleeper than baby E. He simply wasn't interested in sleeping with us. He would actually wake up after about 20 min, fussing, until we put him back in his bed. But baby E is by far cuddlier, which makes it hard to get too frustrated. And he will sleep while we're holding him (that goes with the cuddly factor).

So, I'm torn between "making" him sleep in his own bed and (gasp!) co-sleeping. Coming from someone who worked for public health for nearly 8 years, the idea of co-sleeping makes me akin to the devil, or at least someone who is outright trying to kill her child. My public health roots say that co-sleeping is never, ever, EVER, EVER safe and you should not do it under any circumstances. Now, I never really prescribed to it to that extreme, but it has been pretty well ground in to my (super tired) brain.

But, lately, I've been doing a bit of research and have been surprised to come up with some interesting stuff. Some of the research actually suggests that co-sleeping is very safe, under the right circumstances, frankly, it may be safer than sleeping alone in a crib. I saw one source that said that co-sleeping may be preferred in families where baby is breastfeeding, and that there is little risk to those babies. Public health does have a tendency to issue blanket statements, because it's just easier that way, but that doesn't meant they're always right (double gasp!!!!). And, no, I don't have the sources - remember, super tired momma here.

Now, I have no interest in having a 5 year old sleeping with us, but if baby E being in bed with us for the next couple of months, and not even all night but at least part of it, is what it takes for us all to get some sleep, then I think I'm in. I am no good to anyone in my current state. And I'm pretty sure hubby isn't either. We certainly are getting on each other's nerves more than usual.

Today's lesson - dude, I am tired. And isn't it interesting how good kids are at making you a liar. I mean, I said, "no, I'll never have a kid in bed with me". And yet here we are. Kids are here to remind us that we should never make blanket statements like, "I'll never..." or "We always...", unless we want to be proven wrong, of course. Kids are great at making us eat humble pie. Bring on my pie...