Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Wishful Thinking?

I hope, in light of the tragic events that unfolded at Virginia Tech a couple of days ago, that states start to take a serious look at their mental health laws. In most states, an individual cannot be compelled to receive mental health treatment unless they have made a direct suicidal or homicidal threat or an actual attempt (and, keep in mind, that if that act of aggression is towards another individual, the legal system becomes involved - not the health care system). Which essentially means that I can't lock up some annoying relative in a state mental facility just because I'm tired of him. It also means that you can wander the streets of this country, acting as crazy as your mind compels you to act and nothing can be done if you don't want it to.

This poor young man was clearly ill. It was in his writings and his behavior. The signs were there. Kudos to the people who tried to get him help, who offered to take him to the counseling center on campus. To the professor who even took his writings to the authorities and was told, because it's true, that nothing could be done legally. He was detained once by police but was, as so many are, not sick enough.

People can be mentally ill, can be completely out of touch with reality, and not be dangerous. Statistics show that only a small minority of individuals with mental illness are dangerous; the incidents of violence within the mentally ill population are actually less than within the general population. This young man could have had some relief from those inner demons that tortured him. I have been working with individuals with mental illnesses for over a decade, trying to help them get well and to find the resources which would also help fight the fight. So this incident is a slap in the face. Because this young man could have been helped if the laws were different. A doctor, a judge, a lawyer would have been able to see how ill he was and ordered him to treatment. And he may never have been able to finish that English degree, but he would have felt less tortured. Imagine if he had been helped before he became dangerous.

Those thirty-two people would probably still be alive.


Every nursing bra. Every nursing shirt. Every tube of Lanolin (what?? Maybe 5 of them lying around the house?). Every soothie pad. Every nursing book. Every little tiny annoying piece of TWO pumps. Every milk storage bag. Every boppy pillow (I have 2-1/2 of them).

It's time for a bonfire because I don't need them anymore.

Hee hee!

Anja had only been nursing in the mornings for about the past two or three weeks. Then she woke up the morning after her spectacular birthday party and didn't want any milk. That was a first. That child had never refused a boob in her face. I changed her diaper so she was comfy. I made sure her nose wasn't stuffy. Still nothing. Made her a bottle and she was perfectly happy with that.

Next morning, same thing. And I asked my precious now 1-year-old daughter, "Don't you want your milk anymore?" And she shook her head "no." Honestly. She shook her little head.

And I decided that was my cue it was time to stop.

The funny thing is that I was all worried about how to bring those final nursing sessions to an end, fearing that she would freak out and beg for the boob. I read the message boards about weaning on La Leche League's website to get ideas. But, in the end, she was the one who made the call. Which I think is exactly how it should be.

I have mentioned before that this is bittersweet. I long to wear normal bras and have the occasional glass of wine. But I feel a little part of me is empty after spending the past year working so hard to provide sustenance for my daughter. I have been watching the Planet Earth series, so I had been referring to her as my little cub, as though she were baby bear to my mama bear. This is a transition, as much of parenting is - one she was ready for before I was.

Enough of that sad sappy crap. I'm going to go look at my calender to schedule the bonfire. I've got some bras to burn!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

A Year In The Life

Today we celebrated Anja's first birthday. Her birthday was actually two days ago, but we had the big party today. On her birthday, the sperm donor and I both took off from work and our little family went to the local zoo. Anja could not see some of the animals from her stroller because of the wall to prevent people from falling into the animal dens, but she did point at some very colorful birds, a large cat, and the elephants. Maybe she recognized the elephants from her baby animals book. But I think she enjoyed being pushed around someplace new on a pretty day with her silly parents gushing all over her and singing funny birthday songs.

I think she took a cute pill during the nap before her party today because she was all smiles when both grandmothers entered her room upon her wakening to change her diaper and get her dressed. She smiled and waved at everyone, played with her toys for everyone, and let her grandmothers help her walk. She didn't even freak out when everybody sang to her, then watched her cram large pieces of cake into her mouth. She even helped open her presents. The sperm donor and I were so thankful to have so many nice friends come by and were especially excited that all four grandparents got to come. I think Anja has decided that whatever this birthday thing is, it is definitely pretty cool.

I sat here in front of the computer on the night before Anja's birthday with plans to write her a letter, something she could read when she is older so she would know how she has changed my life. And I found myself speechless. I am in complete awe of my daughter. Being a mother for the past year has defied every expectation I had during pregnancy. I have never known so much joy and, at times, so much fear. I melt every time she smiles. It is impossible for me to have a bad day with the two people I love the most both saying "hi" to me first thing in the morning.

There is only one thing which can sum up the past year for me. When the sperm donor and I took our child birth classes, we were told that we could bring music to play in the delivery room. We had wanted to create a little playlist and even bought the equipment to project the sounds of the Ipod across the room. But as the date got closer and the possibility of the c-section became a reality, we just never got around to finding the right songs. But the radio was on in the operating room that day and even though my memories of that whole day are a little fuzzy I remember clearly the song that was playing when she was born. A little diddy by Foreigner that went something like this:

I want to know what love is
I want you to show me

And the two of you have shown me about love, about forgiveness, about patience, and about the power of family. Because, together, the three of us can do anything. And for that, I am eternally grateful and blessed.