Archive for February, 2009

The night we divided the bed

While we were in Ethiopia, we got into a conversation one night about co-sleeping and adoption.  One of the things we learned in our adoption process was that many of the kids would be used to having shared a bed before coming home and that transitioning to sleeping alone might be difficult.   During an attachment teleconference, the adoptive families dialed in were encouraged to think about co-sleeping in some way.  Now, back to Ethiopia where we were out to dinner– all the families with our agency who were traveling that week- and we got on the subject of sharing beds and one of the parents talked about how much they loved having their own bed which got us into a funny conversation about sleep habits and idiosyncracies, etc which reminded me of the funniest sleep story I have in my pocket.  So here we go. 

When I was a single girl, I loved sleeping diagnolly in my bed.  So, needless to say, when I married BF, I had to learn how to sleep straight in the bed.  I did it, but when BF inched into my half of the bed, I’d protest.  One night, BF was allover my side of the bed, and I protested like I always had. 

“No, I am not!” He insisted. 

“Yes, you are!”  I replied, allowing the fight to go down the He Said, She Said territory of our infamous cupcake squabble

“I’m not,” he started to lightly snore again, and I wasn’t having it so I turned on my bedside table lamp to prove my point. 

Without any line of demarcation on our headboard that showed what the middle point was, there was no way to tell who the winner of this debate was. 

“You are being ridiculous,” BF told me and then tried to hug me which would be great with him because it meant that he got even more of the real estate on my side of the bed.   

“Oh no, you don’t.” 

“What,” BF asked, feigning innocence and getting even more cozy on my side of the bed. 

And then we were both up, running to the kitchen to get a tape measure, masking tape, and a pencil.  Back in the bedroom, both of us self-righteous, we measured the bed, marked the half-way point, and then got out the masking tape and put a line of tape from our headboard to our foot board to make our point to the other.   Satisfied that the line of demarcation was clearly established, we turned off our lights and settled into our bed, silent, until we both erupted in laughter. 

On that note, BF says he feels like he is my Marley (ala Marley and Me).  One of my girlfriends told me that if BF made us the type of money that Marley made John Grogan, BF would get over being my Marley really fast— especially if he got to pick Brad Pitt to play him in the movie.

February 26, 2009 at 8:44 pm 5 comments

We are family


Attachment and adapation are big words in the adoption world.  You want your new family member to smoothly adapt to the transition and attach to his/her new family members, and those things don’t happen by accident.  We have an adoption medicine specialist for our pediatrician (if you don’t have an adoption medicine specialist in your community, you can check into using ours for a consultation to review your referral) and he offered us great tips to help the transition home.  I also recently ran across really great language to try and explain this period of transition to others (I ran across this phrase on a blog but I can’t remember where I found it. If you know it, let me know as I’d love to link to it).  The children we adopt will have their chronological age.  They will have their developmental age.  But they will also have another age– their family age which means how long they have been in your family.  Responding to your child in a way that meets them where they are with their family age will infinitely help them with attachment and transition.  So what does that exactly mean?  When we came home with Abram, he had only been in our family one week.  Given that, it would have been inappropriate to let him “cry it out” when he was inconsolable as we’d never let our one week old newborn cry it out.  Instead, he needs us to soothe and comfort him and show him that we are dependable as parents.  The same would have been true if we brought a three year old home or a six year or you get the picture.  The advice with considering family age is that how long your child has been in your family is a better way to determine what your reaction should be over how old a child is.  When I can’t help people understand the nuances of attachment, adaption, and transition in our adoption with my original explanation, I have now found that explaining about family age and how it applies to us and what age Abram is in our family greatly helps (as we get lots of ‘let him cry it out or he’ll be spoiled’ advice about his lack of sleep when we know that his lack of sleep is a result of many, many transition issues that will just take a little bit of time to tackle).  Anyway, here are the instructions we received from our pediatrician– most of which are specific to our situation but can be generalized for your’s.  I hope you’ll share what you are doing, too, as we can all learn so much from each other!      

Instructions from our pediatrician:   

Buy the formula Abram was fed in Ethiopia and bring home 4-7 days worth of it and slowly transition to a formula found here. 

Feed him his formula on demand.  Wait until we’re home and through the well visit to start a food plan that we determine with our doctor.   

Do not schedule the well child comprehensive visit for immediately when we get home.  Instead, schedule it for 2-3 weeks after we’re home so that we have soothing techniques and trust with him established.  At that doctor’s appointment, expect a significant blood draw (it ended up being 8 vials of blood) for screening labs to test for multiple illnesses and general health indicators like thyroid function, lead, complete blood count, a comprehensive metabolic panel, etc, a skin test for TB, to leave with tubes for stool tests, consults for audiology and ophthmalogy screenings and catch-up vaccine discussion and planning.

The longer we can be at home with him, the better.  To this end, we did everything we could to have as much of our work for February done in January before we left (I turned in six articles due in February the week before we left town) so that we could not have to wind up back to work activities immediately when we got back.    

Be aware of overstimulation, and be proactive in preventing situations that will be overstimulating in some way. 

Set a clear expectation with others early on that allows them to understand that parenting a child who is adopted requires nuances of care that are different from what another’s experience may have been if he/she did not have adopted children. 

Do not have a welcoming party at the airport.   

Eliminate overnight traveling and get togethers for the first several months.  Large groups should be avoided for 3-4 months.   

As parents, embrace and be responsible for all of his care.  We are the only two who should feed, diaper, comfort, bathe, and put Abram to bed for at least 4 months. 

Put off babysitting.  In our case (given our work situation and the age of our child), he suggested 6 months of one of us being with him at all times.    

Have a period of time where only the three of us are together and then slowly allow visitors.  In our case, we had one week of just the three of us in the house and then had family members stop by in groups of 2 the next weekend.  We still haven’t done the big stimulating things like go to Target with the baby (when we have gone to Babies R Us for formula, one of us has run in while the other one of us waited in the car with baby).  Our daily adventures are limited to walks in the stroller. 

Establish and follow a routine that works for us as a family and fit other things around it.  A routine will help him in his transition.

Spend a significant amount of time on the floor playing with him (facing him).  Specifically, our doctor recommended that we each do at least 30 minutes of floor time with him a day for at least 3 months but possibly up to six months.   

Talk to him all of the time, explaining what we are doing (even if it is cutting vegetables for a salad), showing him words as we engage him. 

Each parent should hold him for at least an hour a day (again for at least three months but possibly up to six months).   

Don’t let him cry it out.  He needs to know that we are there for them and can soothe him. 

Make lots of eye contact, especially during feedings.  Always feed him, even if he wants to feed himself– make sure our hands are on the bottle, too.

February 25, 2009 at 7:39 pm 7 comments

What’s helpful and what’s not

Jillian, at Rooted In Love, and her husband traveled to Ethiopia at the same time we did to pick up her two darling boys.  She just did a post on what it is not helpful for you to do with an adoptive family in your life (and what is helpful).  I wanted to share it with you in case you are preparing for an adoption journey or will soon be welcoming home a family from an adoption journey.

February 25, 2009 at 7:35 pm Leave a comment

Interested in a play on mommies and nannies and live in Charlotte?

Don’t miss LIVING OUT! Shows Wed – Sun this week at Stella Center!

What the reviewer said:

“Nancy wants to help Ana but has to make more and more demands on her caregiver, who feels pulled apart by pressures herself.  They are mirror images in a way; so are the trios of nannies and mommies who meet on park benches to discuss salaries, racial stereotypes and the foolishness/ untrustworthiness of people they work for or hire….directed with sympathy and intelligence by Anne Lambert…” Charlotte Observer, 2.20.09


February 25, 2009 at 10:38 am Leave a comment

One step forward, two steps back

Oh, I spoke way too soon about our sleep progress here at the house.  If baby slept four total hours last night between 7 am and 7 pm, I would be shocked.  Let’s hope today is a step forward!

February 25, 2009 at 8:15 am 3 comments

Working Mom

So, if you are a long time reader of this blog, you know that my work is a hodge podge of things– I am a freelance writer for magazines, a book author, a speaker, a professor, and I chair a non-profit, Circle de Luz (if you are new to the blog and interested, feel free to click on the links to learn more).  When we started down the road to parenthood last August, one of the very first questions we needed to answer in our home study was what our plans were regarding childcare.  BF is self-employed, too, so we had a unique opportunity to come up with a solution that involved both of us.  Ultimately, what we decided was that we would split the day between work and being home with the baby.  I would be with SBA (sweet Baby A) from 8 am until 1 pm and BF would be home with him from 1-6.  The hardest part, it seemed, was deciding who got to work the morning hours since we both contend that we do our best work in the morning.  As our trip to pick up SBA approached, I worked to get all of my February deadlines met before we took off on January 23.  I was eager to have a month without deadlines and knew that if I could get it all in, all I would need to attend to in a time sensitive manner for the month of February was my teaching– grading, lesson plans, and then the actual teaching, etc.  Before we left, I turned in six articles and officially wiped my February slate mostly clear. 

We thought that one month– February– would be just the thing to get some semblance of a schedule in place so that we could officially resume working in March (and, to be fair, BF has needed to do some work this month, too, so neither of us had completely clean slates but we did have tidier slates than usual).  Neither of us (me and BF) are terribly routine driven so we weren’t hell bent on a fast and hard schedule.  A ball park of how things work would do plenty to suffice.  Except there is no ball park.  There is not even a sand lot of a schedule going on.  There is, perhaps, some semblance of a back yard pick up game type of schedule (ie: ‘meet in the yard afterschool and see what happens’), though, and that, you see, is our silver lining. 

It’s about that time to go back to work on a more regular basis than we have been, and that hint of a schedule will be so helpful in making that happen.  I spent this past weekend cleaning out my office to make room for a workspace for BF so that he has a place to do things here while the baby is napping.  I will “commute” to BF’s office– a little less than a mile from our house (it’s a good thing I embarked on my make an effort resolution since I’ll now have to leave the house to do work on a daily basis)– to do my work in the afternoons.  And, slowly, we’ll figure it out. I’ll learn how to be creative and productive in the afternoon (with less sleep than before), and we’ll both learn how to get as much done in half the time (because, honestly, we both know we piddled a few hours of every day away before SBA joined us), although I imagine our biggest challenge will be working while fighting the urge to be with our boy.  And, right now, I can’t even imagine writing an interesting sentence or giving a talk that isn’t laced with me desperately trying to find the word in  my sleep deprived mind but I have faith that it is like riding a bicycle after a hiatus.  It works itself out.  Someone reassure me that that is true. 

I have a pretty blank slate when I go back to work and the ability to make things happen the way I imagined– if I am patient and deliberate.  There are two books I desperately want to write that I can go ahead and get started on– but writing them alone doesn’t pay the bills so I’ll need to spend some time trying to land contracts for them.  There are a few articles that I really want to write and I’ll need to find homes for them.  I’ll go back to teaching adult continuing education classes in April and I just love those workshops so I am especially looking forward to them.  And there are exciting things on the horizon as Circle de Luz begins to grow.  All in all, I am hopeful that all the pieces can come together into a plan that helps most moments seem intentional and good.  Because, in the end, that’s what we all want.  To do work– both at home and away from home and however that work might be defined– that speaks to us, that brings out our best, and that adds to our life.       

And, on cue, SBA is up from a nap.  A new normal indeed.

February 24, 2009 at 7:49 pm 2 comments

Sleep Progress!


I hate to speak too soon but I just have to write down somewhere that we have had some sleep progess at our house.  As you might recall, our boy was waking up consistently at the 45 minute mark after falling asleep.  Seriously, we’d get up with him 14 times in a night before he decides somewhere between 5 and 6 am that he is up for the day.  Now, his awake time at night has dropped significantly.  It used to be up to an hour and a half.  Now the worst case scenario is probably 20 minutes.  But still, 14 times of 20 minute pops over night is more than 4 and a half hours which means that our boy was sleeping less than 6 hours a night.  Add that to his two forty-five minute naps in a day and our boy was maybe approaching 7.5 hours of sleep a day.  Now, I can go without sleep.  It wasn’t until this past weekend (so almost 4 weeks of being a mom) where I was having trouble finding words when I was explaining something.  But I was really worried about our boy.  Babies his age are supposed to sleep 14-16 hours and that significantly helps their growth and development.  If he’s down to just 7ish hours, how is that hurting him?  

We’ve tried everything.  I could write a darn funny post about our attempts at getting our boy to sleep for longer than 45 minute stretches but I’ll spare you.  What I will say is that this weekend, after I put a healthy dent into The Happiest Baby on the Block and after observing that his arms were a significant part of the problem in his waking (he pinwheels the heck out of them while he sleeps, knocks himself in the face, and then wakes up mad at whoever punched him), we busted out the kiddopatamus swaddle.  We had tried swaddling him in Ethiopia but he always busted out of the swaddle and seemed so mad about it.  Recently, we bought 2 new swaddles that were bigger for our now 18 pounds (yep, he gained 2 pounds in 17 days) of joy and we used them on Sunday and Monday night with some success.  Our little guy is now sleeping somewhere between 90 minutes and 120 minutes at a pop and so that has reduced his wake ups to 6 or 7 a night.  And, lo and behold, he is indeed the happiest baby on the block with all that sleep in his system (truth be told, he was pretty happy before the sleep, too, but he did have his overtired breakdowns.  We haven’t seen an overtired breakdown since Sunday which is like lightyears ago).  Today, he even napped for two hours in his swaddle. 

Our other sleep solutions are an ocean sound machine (love it!), a vaporizer, and a little feeding and belly rocking when he wakes up at night.  With all that in place, we’re coming closer to 5 to 10 minute wake-ups when he does wake up.  

PS:  you’ll be glad to know that he’s moved out of his Moses basket and sleeps in his crib now.  I’ll sneak crib shots of him soon! 

I’ll keep you posted on our progress!

February 24, 2009 at 12:47 pm 1 comment

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