Friday, June 30, 2006


Anja perfected the art of sucking before birth. She was even born with the little sucker's blister that breastfed babies get; it's a little callous in the middle of her upper lip. My OB suggested that Anja was probably sucking on her hands when she lived inside of me. And why not? Big baby. Small space. Where else were her hands supposed to go?

Anja first experienced the pacifier on Mother's Day. At that point, the sperm donor and I had endured about a week of Anja being VERY fussy in the evenings. Not as bad as colic was described, though I feared it would turn into that. She would cry, would be almost inconsolable. The only thing that would soothe her was to walk around the house with her, so the sperm donor and I would take turns doing this. Eventually she would fall asleep for the night. On Mother's Day, we tried to go out for some gelato. The little gelato place was crowded with other families doing the same thing, and she fussed the whole time. So we got our gelato to go, and headed home...the long way...because we knew she would fall asleep.

A friend had suggested we try the pacifier, stating from her own experience that it might quiet Anja (the key word, I suppose, being "pacify"). So, when we came home from the gelato place, I pulled out all of the pacifiers I had received from various sources, found one that looked as though it might fit in her mouth, washed it, and stuck it in her mouth.

Silence is golden.

I later read that newborns often become fussy in the evenings because their little brains are trying to process all of the stimuli they have encountered during the day. The pacifier seemed to slow the world down...she would suddenly just relax. Now we use the pacifier mainly as a sleep aid. Anja resists sleep, especially naps, like the plague, so a little pacifier time lets her relax enough to close her little eyes and drift off to sleep. I try to avoid her actually sleeping with it, but she usually takes care of that: I go creeping into her room to pull the pacifier out of her mouth only to find that she has already spit it out and is happily, although somewhat noisily, sleeping.

But it seems the pacifier is going to be replaced.

At night, I sometimes hear Anja sucking on her hands over the baby monitor. She sometimes sounds as if she might be awake, so I go creeping into her room only to find her all squirmy with her hands in her face. And her eyes closed. Usually, she actually wakes up within thirty minutes or so. But this morning I walked in and found her sucking on one little part.

Her thumb. I've got a thumb sucker. She's very cute, sleeping away with her thumb in her mouth. I took a picture of it before I woke her from her nap this morning. And I'm okay with that. I visualize a little girl in her mommy's lap with her thumb in her mouth and that is a vision that is very precious to me.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

I'm A Little Bit Somber

Today, June 29, is the tenth anniversary of the day the sperm donor and I moved into the only home we have ever bought together. I remember the movers dumped all of our boxes into one room, even though I had, in my o-c way, labeled each and every one of them. I remember this house seemed so big then. I think we only had furniture for the living room and our bedroom. A couple of hand-me-down beds from my great aunt and suddenly we had guest rooms. I never envisioned at that time the little beauty who would live in one of those rooms today.

After we finished moving our few belongings into our home, we took a couple of helpful friends for dinner. When we returned home, my mother called, stating that my grandmother had just died. She had suffered a heart attack the week before. When we arrived at my grandmother's home, there were fire trucks and police cars all parked along the front of her house as though there was complete chaos inside. After the law enforcement left, my grandmother's minister came to the home, led us in prayer, and things calmed down. This was probably the worst day of my life. I remember returning to my new home, where I had neither toilet paper nor an assembled bed, and fell asleep on the couch with tissues in my hand, while the sperm donor slept on the floor next to me.

In the years since her death, I have come to realize how dear my grandmother was to me, something I wish I had truly realized while she was still alive. When I was a child, she would come to my house and we would have tickle fights. She was "Big Rascal" and I was "Little Rascal". I used to spend a week with her every summer and I remember she would always dress me up and take me to lunch at the Hemisfair Tower. One summer, I was ill for most of the week I spent with her, and I recall being so upset because we could not do anything fun. When we spent summers in Colorado, she would tell me about the mountains and the rocks (I recall from her memorial service the minister said "Amy loved rocks."), and I didn't care much then, but apparently I listened because I still remember it when I see those rocks. Now I am the one collecting the rocks on hikes and saying to the sperm donor "Here. Carry this." She kept every picture I drew her and every paper I wrote. She used to mail me Garfield cartoons from her newspaper every week. She signed all of her cards "GM". When I was in college, she would let me come over and do my laundry. When the sperm donor and I got married, we stored the top of our wedding cake in her deep freeze; later, she and her sister would say it sure tasted good.

Yesterday, I walked Anja around the house and showed her some pictures I have up of her great-grandmother, including the one of her sitting at the head of the dining room table which now sits in my home. I hope that wherever my grandmother is, that she can see little Anja - see her smile, she her laugh, see her as she studies herself in the mirror I bought for her crib, see her with her little thumb in her mouth. I know she would be proud.

I love you, GM. I miss you a lot too.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

HEY! Who's That Baby In My Gym???

My mother bought a play gym for Anja. The play gym has mainly been useful to put her in so she can kick her legs and swing her arms. I think she is still appreciating the amount of room she has since leaving the womb. Anyway, yesterday, she looked into the mirror and stared at her reflection. For a really long time. Of course, she doesn't know it is her; at best, maybe it's just another baby. But she kept staring at herself, then she smiled at herself, then she stuck her tongue out at herself.

And me without my camera. I'm hoping for a repeat performance later today.

The same baby also makes appearances in the car it seems, so we have determined that she really wants to be friends with Anja. I think that maybe she is one of those annoying people at the actual gym who is always there when you are there, no matter what time of day.

In regards to current headlines...put yourself in this scenario. You are an attorney in Iraq. Saddam Hussein calls you and says "Hey man. It seems I'm in pretty desperate need for an attorney right about now. You game?"

Run for your life!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Am I Dreaming??

Anja was put in her crib to sleep at 11:00 last night, just before overtime started in the Dallas-Miami game. Sperm donor gave her a bottle at about 12:30.

When did she wake up again to eat?

I know you are at the edge of your seat.


She slept through the night. For the very first time.

One would think that mom got this fabulous sleep, but I woke up at 4 thinking "She's going to want to eat soon." Then I woke up at 5-ish, thinking, "Doesn't she want to eat?" Then I woke up at 6:30, thinking "She's going to be starving."

And she was.

Now she's enjoying her mid-morning snooze. Soon, we'll eat again, get dressed, then go to Target to buy diapers and a Starbucks!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

And One More Thing About Breastfeeding, Then I'll Shut Up About It...For Now

It would sure be nice if the government, in its effort to promote breastfeeding, could also highly encourage retailers and other businesses to provide comfortable spaces for moms to nurse. As a friend of mine once said: I wouldn't eat my lunch in a public restroom, so why should my baby??

Friday, June 16, 2006

Breastfeeding 101

The United States Department of Health and Human Services recently issued a public service campaign to promote breastfeeding in first-time mothers. Current statistics indicate that 70 percent of first-time mothers initiate breastfeeding, but that only 33 percent are still doing it when their child is 6 months of age. NBC News reported that the primary reason for that drop is because mothers return to work, and while I agree with that....well, here's my two cents.

From the minute I learned I was pregnant, there was no doubt in my mind I would breastfeed Anja. The benefits were far too many to count. The sperm donor and I went to breastfeeding class at the hospital where Anja was born. I think the woman who taught it was high on crack. Seriously. She spent the entire 3-hour class talking with a smile on her face and her eyes closed. It was almost as though she was singing dreamily about breastfeeding. So we learned the basics: how to latch the baby, how to hold the baby, how long to nurse the baby, how to know the baby is finished, what the waste products of breastmilk look like, why to breastfeed at all, etc. There was nothing covered that I had not already heard or read. Crack woman made it sound like it was so easy; you just pick up the baby, hook her on the boob, and, abracadabra, she eats. No problem. Right?

I asked to see a lactation consultant from the minute Anja was born, which was at 8:45 on a Wednesday morning. In fact, I asked before they even wheeled me into the operating room. Said lactation consultant finally showed up the next afternoon, and was about as helpful as a little toe. Meanwhile, I can't latch poor Anja on because I had just had a C-section and was connected to an IV, a catheter, and a pulse ox. And she keeps falling asleep while eating. Here's a mental image: me, Anja, the sperm donor, and my mother, all hovering around my boob, trying to get newborn Anja to latch on and eat. Little toe lady said Anja is supposed to nurse for 30-40 minutes. First, her stomach is about as big as a quarter. Second, she keeps falling asleep. "Breastfeeding is so easy," the crack woman sang. Right.

Anja has never really had the normal yellow poops of a breastfed baby. Hers are green. Various shades, some quite pretty. I mentioned this to the pediatrician at our 2-week check-up, who said it was because of my diet. But Anja was growing at the 95th percentile, so whatever. Later Anja started choking and wheezing and sputtering every time I ate. What was this?? Crack woman mentioned nothing about the possibility of my daughter choking to death while eating off me. A call to a lactation consultant revealed that my milk came out too fast for Anja to keep up with. That's when I learned that if you ask three lactation consultants one question, you will get three different answers.

So the bottom line was that my milk came out too fast for Anja, so she would fill up really quickly. Unfortunately, she would fill up on the skim milk version of my milk rather than the half and half. If you know anything about the science of breastfeeding, this will make sense to you. I've spent the past several weeks trying different strategies for Anja to have more half and half.

Sometimes I sit in my nice glider nursing chair listening to my daughter sputter away and I think to myself "I could just pump everything out and stick a bottle in her mouth. Or better yet, get formula." But I don't because I made a commitment to her. It has been a commitment that has brought many tears wondering if she is getting enough to eat. I can be the persistent type. But I can easily see why other women would give up.

I am in debt to the La Leche League website. Their message boards have showed me that though my problems are relatively minor, there is a lot of empathy from other moms. Many of us posting are new at breastfeeding, and I for one am thankful for the experienced moms giving suggestions and support.

So I hope the US Department of Health and Human Services takes this into consideration. I have had to educate myself about breastfeeding; I have had to find my own answers. I also have a master's degree (indicating some modicum of intelligence) and internet access. But not all women are me, and they get scared and the process becomes intimidating, and they quit. I strive to still be doing this in four months. Again, I made a commitment to her.

Anyway, someone's hungry. Gotta go whip out the boob again. And at her two-month check-up yesterday? Still 95th percentile for height and weight; the doctor said she got an A+. Something's working.

Friday, June 02, 2006

The Day 9-11 Took On A Whole New Meaning

Do I still have any readers out there?? I suspect not. Give me a break - I'm a mom now. Blog?? What's a blog??

On April 12, a couple of really nice doctors cut a small hole in me and pulled out a very big baby girl. The whole experience was a bit surreal. The c-section was a possibility. A few days before her birth, a sonogram revealed a very large baby. My doctor wanted to induce labor that day and see how I progressed. I freaked. That day??? I mean I know I had been pregnant for nearly 9 months, but have a baby that day???? Was she kidding????? The little coral outfit I bought for her coming home didn't fit anymore and she wasn't even born yet! My glider nursing chair still hadn't come in at Babies R Us!! That day??? The sonogram showed that Anja was big, but was fine, so we waited out the weekend. I'm convinced she had no interest in coming out anyway. I remember bits and pieces of the surgery: I remember the nice anesthesiologist who kept leaning over my face to give me the play-by-play of what was happening. He always appeared in my vision upside down. After every thing was over I realized that I was really thankful that he said "Oh look, they already started" instead of "OK. They're going to start now." I remember that the nurse took my glasses away before the surgery started, so when my doctor brought Anja over for me to see, she was just a blurry blob. I kept throwing up after the surgery, so I'm not even sure how long it was before I saw her up close, got to hold her. Looking back, it feels as though it was a really long time.

When she was born, she weighed 9 pounds 11 ounces. And 21 inches long. She wasn't petite. At the pediatrician's office a few days later, I was told she was the size of a 2 month old.

She wasn't petite but she sure is beautiful. I have a little song I made up for her about how I went to the baby store to buy me a baby with big blue eyes, dark brown hair (she has lots of it!), fuzzy little ears, moonman toes, and an extra chin, but the guy working there said they didn't sell babies like that, so I ran home and told Daddy that I wanted a baby with big blue eyes, dark brown hair, fuzzy little ears, moonman toes, and an extra chin, so that's what I got. She is starting to smile with regular frequency too; she likes the funny noises we make and she likes when I tell her that I put a clean diaper on for her to poop on (a la Triumph). And she likes when I tell her about how the injured prize-winning horse limped back to his stall after surgery and munched on some hay. She coos too; we move her chin around when she lets out a big long vowel, and it sounds like she is trying to say words.

I'm tired most of the time, so blogging is dead last on the list of things to be done. I'm just finally getting her birth announcements out to unsuspecting friends who figured we would never be parents. I have blog entries planned in my mind, mostly formulated at 4 a.m. feedings - check back weekly, I'll get them out.

Oh, I know; someday I'll get around to changing the ticker.