Friday, November 26, 2010

Lotion and hairspray and formula, oh my!

Here are the things that are different with my adopted baby from my collection of biologicals:

Her amazingly beautiful brown skin needs lotion every day or it gets dry and loses pigment when her jammies get crunchy around her face from formula dribbles or when her sheet is not soft from having been spit up on.

Her lovely black curls look better if they are sprayed regularly, and her head gets dry and flakey if we don't do that also.

She would probably have breastfed nicely if I were able to make enough milk for her, she latched on well, but being pregnant, I couldn't pull it off. Thus begins the formula adventure. We have tried a few different varieties, Parent's Choice (Walmart generic) Enfamil, Similac, Enfamil Gentlease, Sam's Club, and have landed on Parent's choice version of Gentlease. All of that to manage constipation. But we also have an aspirating problem (undiagnosed . . . I talk to my doctor about medical questions, I talk to other moms about mom questions - so when I noticed her coughing and spurting and gagging and needing a ridiculous amount of burp breaks when feeding, especially at night, I asked other moms who I knew had dealt with that and followed their advice. Had she been wheezing, or if it didn't work, I would have brought the pediatrician in on the deal) so she gets 1 teaspoon of rice cereal per ounce of formula mixed in the bottles, and instead of the slow flow nipples we were using (that helped some but eventually not enough) are feeding it to her in Avent with the size 4 nipples. We still have to shake it up a little, but her poops are good and soft and her feeding is soooo much better (night vs day).

I also feel a greater desire to make sure she knows I love her, make sure she feels loved. I am more conscious of milestones. I am waaaay more aware of things like smiles and recognizing faces, etc, especially since I'm still filling out monthly forms on how we're bonding and attaching, and still having home visits.

I am normally pretty committed to my rebellion against the whole "back to sleep" movement. Here's why: most babies that die of SIDS (which isn't something you die of, it is a statement of not knowing why a baby died - they died suddenly as an infant, but SIDS isn't a disease or even a collection of symptoms - it is a mystery) die between 2 and 4 months of age, last I read. Now, back in the day when my older kids were younger, it was a normal developmental milestone to roll over during that time period. However, since the advent of the "back to sleep" model, the milestones have changed. Babies are deliberately being trained NOT to develop normally, out of fear. The idea of tummy time is supposed to compensate, but we don't really want them to develop the normal amount of upper body strength, because then they will roll over in their sleep and not be on their "backs to sleep". I also don't like the flat-head syndrome that happens when they are on their backs all the time. Sorry, I am flabbergasted that we have to make our babies weaker, on purpose, because we are afraid they might lay on their bellies and die of an unknown cause. SIDS is not caused by tummy sleeping. It is unknown. That's what makes it SIDS!

(tangent - sorry)

Anyway, because I have an adopted baby who is not yet officially mine and who I am more afraid of screwing up, she has slept mostly on her back and sides. Babies spit, I prefer to have them at least on their sides. The whole point of this discussion is to say that because she is being adopted, I am a little less confident, a little more chicken, a little more likely to play by the rules. Instead of just answering to my husband and God Almighty, I am also answerable to the home study agency, the adoption agency, and the states of Missouri and Florida, at least until finalization.

I am a little more worried about the long run. Will she like us? Will she feel uncomfortable as one brown face among so many cream colored faces? Will she struggle with her birth mother and/or birth father not being in her life, and their reasons for that? Will she struggle to find a like-minded spouse more than my other children? And my only answer to questions like that is Jesus. She, just like my other children, will need Jesus.

Anyway, those are some of the differences I am experiencing, along with things I've talked about in other blogs.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Great Rabbit Poop Mystery - status: unresolved

It began with a simple statement: there is poop on the bathroom floor.

In context, it should have been a simple mystery to solve, The Dave Show, age 3, has been potty training, is a master of pee, is a failure in the poop department. His pattern has become a regular bowel movement in his pants every couple days.

It had been, on the morning of the mystery, about 3 days since he last pooped his pants, so Mom sat him on the pot with a little prune juice cocktail (the magic feather), but alas - after reading all about Bob the fireman, no farts, poops or even a smudge to let you know something's coming. So we put the pants back on and forgot about it.

Now, four hours later, there is poop on the bathroom floor. In the time that has elapsed, the following facts add to the mystery:
1. David was originally wearing jeans and white Thomas undies with red trim
2. After playing in the snow, David changed out of his wet jeans into clean undies and shorts (I know, there's snow on the ground and he put on shorts - sorry)
3. Further examination of said wet jeans reveal that the Dave apparently was playing in the snow commando! Brrrr.
4. The white Thomas the Tank Engine undies found in his undies cubbie, upon his testimony, had neither smudge nor smell (producing doubt that those were, in fact, the same Thomas undies).
5. His cute bottom, also, upon examination, revealed neither smudge nor smell.
6. The aforementioned poop was of the compact nature reputed to be like that produced by rabbits.
7. We have no rabbits in our house.
8. Poop like that is also to be expected of a boy who had not pooped in a couple days.
9. There are no other people in the house who we suspect.
10. Mom smells (or imagines she smells) poop everywhere now.

Anyone with evidence to aid in the solving of this mystery will be rewarded with 25 chocolate chips.

giving thanks

i am thankful today.

i am thankful for my husband, who loves Jesus, who is a worshipper of God, who hears His voice and obeys, who says 'yes'.

i am thankful for my children, who love God, who love each other, and who bless me every single day.

i am thankful for a wealth of friends, who pray for us, who desire our greatest good, who encourage us in Jesus Name.

i am thankful for a home that suits us, for vehicles that get us where we're going, for a job that God uses to provide for our needs (and a husband who works it diligently, skillfully, faithfully), for a magnificent church full of the saints of God, in whom are all my delight.

i am especially thankful for the double blessing of a beautiful adopted baby girl in my arms and a growing mystery baby in my belly.

i'm thankful for my extended family and my husband's family who are such great blessings in our lives, felt if not seen.

more than anything, i am thankful for my Savior, my Redeemer, my Friend, the Lover of my soul. i am thankful for the promise that He hears and answers prayer, and for the promise that my forever Home is with Him.

and right now, i am thankful for the snow that makes today feel special, my children running frantically about the house, squealing and yelling for shoes and equipment to go outside, it's snowing, it's snowing!!! perhaps today is a holiday after all.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

It has happened!

It's a little thing, not logical, may not mean anything to anyone else, but something I was worried (worried is a huge over statement - I just wondered and hoped and didn't know) about. A thing has happened with my adopted daughter that is true of my biologicals. I shall attempt to describe.

When I look at my eldest and my seventh, I can get lost in their freckles. I simply love the varying sizes and shapes of golden brown flecks on their noses, faces, and on my daughter's lovely lips. I love my little one's curls on the back of her neck, love to play with them and touch them. I derive great pleasure from kissing my oldest son's cheek and having his moon-worthy dimple cave in under my lips. My 3rd daughter doesn't have one dimple, she has six or seven! I love my children's smiles, the way they dance, the sound of their laughter, the different colors of their eyes, grayish blueish green (like the sea after a storm, said Buttercup), or chocolatey brown, or hazel like mine, or blue in a way that makes me want to go swimming. I love to look at them and explore their features, awake or asleep, at work or play. I love my children.

Today, sitting in my room, near the cradle made for my husband by his grandfather before he was born, I sat and watched my newest daughter, the one born from someone else's womb. And this is what I was thinking. My baby girl has THE MOST BEAUTIFUL SKIN - I could just sit and enjoy the color of it for hours and days. Beautiful beyond words that I know. I'm trying to quantify the tone, what does it remind me of? There is no food that comes close. Probably there is a specific rich wood that might somehow begin to portray, I don't know. The beauty of it is a wonder and a joy to me. I LOVE to look at her.

I didn't know if the kooky way I feel about all the biologicals comes from finding myself or my husband in them, if it is some narcissistic instinct, or if it is just the familiarity, they are mine. It isn't. It is just the joy of a mother, marveling at the beauty of God's creation. Certainly I marvel also that He made That in Me. But I am also in awe that He made this lovely, lovely darling baby with the most beautiful skin, deep unfathomable eyes, ringlets of soft black hair, tiny long fingers and an exceptionally cute brown bottom, He made her and somehow out of the riches of His grace and mercy, saw fit to place her in my care, in my arms, at my breast, in my heart.

And that is delightful too.

Oh please, God, bless her birthmom today. Give her strength, heal her heart and body, open doors, give her favor and wisdom, give her big dreams, a hope and a future. Mostly, Lord, I pray that she would know You, Your comfort, Your strength, Your friendship, Your presence, Your forgiveness and salvation. Amen.

Are you my mother?

It was one of my favorite books to have read to me as a child, and is a favorite to read to my children. And it is how I wonder if my recently adopted daughter feels when she looks at me. I know it isn't. She isn't thinking, "who are you?" She is still limited to thinking, "this feels good," or "this feels bad". She doesn't even know the name of what feels good or bad. If she could speak, she isn't self aware enough to say whether it is a messy diaper, empty belly, gas bubble or exhaustion that is causing the "bad" feeling.
I guess it is possible that she connects my voice, smell, feel to "feels good" or to "the end of feels bad". I think she is comforted by me the way newborns are comforted by their mamas.
She doesn't know she's in the wrong (right) family. She has no idea that she is the lone black child being raised by a pack of wild caucasians. She doesn't know she's beautiful, doesn't know that she has an umbilical hernia, doesn't know she's constipated, doesn't know she has a dry scalp. She doesn't know that I don't know what I'm doing, even though she's the 11th child we've brought home.
But I know. And I feel a little inadequate.
Some adoption situations seem easier for the mind to fully embrace that this child belongs to the new parents. A child from an orphanage, for example, or a child who was likely to be aborted. But my little one was loved, and desired, if not to raise, at least to live. And there were people in her world who wanted her. Perhaps her birth-father, if encouraged, would have wanted to keep her with him. My situation is not as easy as a baby who has no one.
What I have is that her birth mom believed that our home was the very best place for her to be, superceding culture, race, geography, faith, socioeconomic status, and, ok - I'll say it, common sense. She believed that no matter how it felt or affected her, that putting this baby girl with us was the very best thing for baby girl.
She had a miserable nasty crappy time. Magnesium sulfate for 5 or so days, no food, transfusions, no epidural, emergency D & C afterward, ICU, headaches, nausea, vomiting, blurred vision, not to mention frustration, anger and lack of understanding from her "support" network as they processed her decision with difficulty. And after all the horrible week she spent in the hospital, her reward was to go home with empty arms and a necklace she said was too special to wear.
And now I'm here with her incredibly beautiful darling baby girl, feeling inadequate, trying to figure out which formula to give her, and how to deal with the rash she has on her face and if it is normal baby stuff or if I'm showing my 'caucasian' ignorance of the needs of the skin of persons with African ancestry.

I love this baby. I love her mother. I love that Jesus gave her to me. After all she went through, our birth mom still chose us, chose adoption. But I'm horribly aware that all of who I am and can be as a mom, all of who we are and can be as a family, even all of who my wonderful husband is and can be, it's not enough. We can't bridge the gap between what is and what ought to have been. Her birth father and birth mother, loving her, loving each other, caring for her, bringing her up in her own family and world. We cannot heal, cannot forgive on her behalf, cannot fill the hole left.
We can overwhelm her with love and kisses and with the glory of us, but that cannot be enough. We cannot fill in the cultural blanks (that is a whole. nother. blog.), cannot heal the racial tension in our land that she will face someday.

What we can do, is show her at every opportunity, good and bad, that she has the option of giving it all, pain, confusion, whatever, to a perfect Savior-Redeemer-Healer. We can lead her to the cross. Over and over and over.

And I suppose that is where my adequacy, legitimacy, peace lies. I want to somehow reach across the nation and heal her mom, her dad, her mom's friends and family. I want to make it all better for them, but how can I, when I have the sweet spot, and they have a hole where she should have been?

This yoke is not mine. Even my daughter's happiness is not my responsibility. It is between her and the Lord. What is my job? Do justly, love mercy, walk humbly with my God. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks.

Friday, November 19, 2010

It's not that I'm not writing . . .

I'm just not publishing anything. Partly because I am not certain enough of my decision-making skills to know if anything I'm writing would make sense to anyone living outside my brain ('cause, you know it doesn't always, right?) and partly because some things on the heart need to simmer before being laid out there for the world.

But there are other things to think about, write about, so I will write.

Did you ever have someone, maybe you knew them up close, maybe from a distance, that was the embodiment of faith or whatever, and later they fell long and hard, and you couldn't believe that they could really go from A to B? Like that day that started off at 70 degrees and somehow wound up in the 30's. It is hard to remember when it is warm what cold feels like, and vice versa. It is hard when it is cold out to pack for a warm destination.

It was hard, when I was eating healthy, living healthy, exercising, and maintaining healthy habits, to imagine ever being and living in such a fat, unhealthy way as I have done in the past and am doing again now. And today, it is a stretch to remember that I have been a healthier person.

I suppose I am a woman of extremes. The idea that I could get up tomorrow and adjust one thing and be a somewhat healthier me is just that, an idea. It never makes it more than half way down stairs. But to change completely would require considerably more resolve than I can muster at the best hour of my best day.

I started going down hill when trying to nurse pregnant, having read that I needed a large number of calories. I think it was mostly an excuse. And then going to Ronald McDonald nicu sleep deprivation land was even more of an excuse. Heck, I even allowed myself to eat more fried chicken because I am now the mother of a black child, and her birth family said it was important to make sure she got plenty of good fried chicken. (I do not mention that to say that all black people like fried chicken, just that I used a conversation I had with birthmom's friend as an excuse to further kill myself).

Now I've sunk horribly low, I hate to say, adding butter to my pbj's, just really self destructive.

I had one day, not long ago, when I felt the Lord saying, "Are you ready to admit that you can't do this without Me?" And my thought was yes, and my acknowledged dependence and renewed connection lasted a day and a half.

I had an idea for a song recently. I haven't written it yet, but the gist of it has to do with Lembas bread, from the Lord of the Rings, the waybread of the elves that Frodo and Sam eat on their journey. It had the strange effect, when eaten exclusively, to increase in it's ability to nourish and sustain, so that the longer you had eaten only Lembas, the more content and satisfied and strengthened you where when you ate it.

The whole thing in the book of Hosea where it talks about taking the reckless destructive wayward wife out into the wilderness and stripping her, not of her dignity (she already did that) but of her creature comforts and her other gods, and teaching her, reminding her of the love of her husband ties in to the image in the Song of Solomon of the bride coming up out of the wilderness, leaning on her Beloved, like an army with banners, victorious but weary, weak, limping, and utterly dependent (and thoroughly convinced of her dependence) on her majestic, heroic, steady, faithful and true, Bridegroom-Redeemer.

I am in a distant place from that dependence, that place of leaning, of taking in what sustains my body and drinking my fill of what sustains my soul.

I know that He gently leads the nursing ewes. I know He is still especially fond of me and not angry with me. I know that He is for me and not against me.

But I have ADD of the spirit right now, my courage, my stamina, my pluck, all pretty well shot.

Probably would have been better if I hadn't written, eh?

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Mary pondered these things

Been doing a lot of pondering lately, a lot of thinking, a lot of nodding off.

I am enjoying my lovely girl, well, all my lovely girls and all my boys. My oldest son's voice is changing. We watched Toy Story 3 last night and I cried at the thought of him growing up. On the other end of things, #5 son, whom we call The Show, put some poop in the potty today, finally. I gave him prune juice, which today was a magic feather, and tomorrow will probably mean a mess to clean up. But maybe not. He went for it today.

My youngest sister had a baby this week. Looking forward to introducing his brown skinned cousin to him.

I am finally feeling the baby in my tummy move. My placenta is typically out front, so I don't feel the child until he/she is bigger than that placenta. But I'm there finally. I'm tired. Reflux has struck - I won't be going to bed without my zantac again, let me tell you.

With our little bottle fed girl, Daddy is playing a much bigger role, which works with my pregnancy, if you know what I mean. He has become the expert. If she is fussing or sputtering, he says, "here, give her to me". It is sweet.

And all the while, I am thinking about the new one and who he or she is going to be. The end of February is a very long way away.