Friday, December 6, 2013

Miracle Baby

Not sure that anyone reads this-- I certainly don't think many do at this point. (Or ever did...) But regardless, if I can help get the word out about this, it's worth posting here.


X is a miracle. Which is not to say that every child isn't a miracle-- because every child certainly is. But really, everything about him is miraculous. It's a miracle that we conceived him so easily. It's a miracle that he does not have the genetic disease I'm a carrier for. It's a miracle that he isn't even a carrier like me. It's a miracle that he was a champ through the genetic testing we did when he was just 11.5 weeks old (in utero). It's a miracle that he stayed put despite my constant contractions and pre-term labor starting at 29 weeks. And, it's a miracle he made it through his complicated birth.

But the miracle I'm most thankful for is his set of good, healthy 46 chromosomes. There was a 25-30% chance that he would have a disorder called Patau Syndrome, and a 50% chance that he would be a carrier like me. And because of the effect aging has on these things, once I turn 30, the chance of passing on my bad chromosome will increase exponentially. So, one of my biggest fears around having a second child is the fact that, for now, our chances of having a healthy child are good-- but not as good as they were with X.

This past summer, an old co-worker lived out what I consider to be one of my biggest fears. This former co-worker of mine isn't someone I would ever consider to be more than an acquaintance, but the journey she has been on has impacted me tremendously. In June, after an uneventful pregnancy, she gave birth to a perfect baby boy they named Noah. Within 24 hours though, it was clear that something was wrong. He wasn't breathing well, and he was placed in the NICU.  He just never really thrived, his body wasn't quite working properly, and after 12.5 days she and her husband received confirmation that their son had a terminal genetic condition. They took him off the machines, held him for the first time in days, and on the 13th day of his life, they held their boy as he went to heaven.

While most people respond to situations like this saying "I can't imagine..." My response was "I already did imagine, and now they're living my most awful imaginings." But she and her husband have traveled this journey with more grace and courage than I can fathom. And their boy has already had a amazing impact on this world. For myself, my fear around passing on Patau Syndrome has decreased. I still fear the whole idea of it... but I see how it's possible to live through experiencing that fear.

As a way to honor Noah's life, and to promote his legacy, Noah's parents have started #13daysofrainbows. (A little bit more information is on Noah's mom's blog, which you can get to by clicking here.) Starting on what would've been Noah's 6 month birthday, and in the 13 days leading to Christmas, Noah's parents are encouraging people to do an act of kindness, or if you're feeling ambitious, 13 acts of kindness. Either way, they're encouraging these acts of kindness to be done in Noah's name. Then, the idea is to take a picture of that act and post it on Facebook and Instagram with the hashtag #13daysofrainbows.

I'll be doing something this Advent, for Noah. Because God knows that it was only by a miracle that my healthy, perfect toddler sleeps soundly in his bedroom.

Please join me in spreading a little bit of Christmas cheer, and in honoring Noah with #13daysofrainbows.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Potty training at 16 months

*This post is not for non-parents or those that don't care to read of my son's bowel movements.*

This guy just pooped on the big potty.

He stood up during his bath and he had that look on his face. So I asked him "Are you pooping?" He said "yeah." So I asked if he wanted to sit on the potty, to which he said "yeah" and made the baby sign for potty. Then I put him on and he did! And he was happy about it! And when he was done, he made the baby sign for all done and pointed to toilet paper. He was proud of himself too. And yesterday in the car, I heard him straining in the back seat so I asked if he wanted to poop on a potty. He said "yeah", so I pulled the car over, into the Taco Time lot. We didn't make it to the restroom before he went in his diaper, but still, for a kid under 18 months, I'm pretty proud.

It'll still be a while before he's actually potty trained I'm sure. It's slow going. But we're making progress, and I'm always thrilled with having one less diaper to wash.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Twenty- twelve

I wrote this a few weeks ago...

I feel so blessed that this year has been a good one for my family. Ken, Xavier, and I are all healthy and doing well. We bought a house. I started law school. Ken got two promotions and started working at headquarters (which means normal hours, and weekends off!).  Xavier continues to amaze us as he learns and grows, giving us glimpses of who he is going to be. Our life is very busy, but it’s a good one.

This year, the only tragedy that touched my family was the death of my stepmother’s father. And even then, I don’t believe that tragedy is the right word. He had been fighting a recurring form of leukemia off and on for almost 10 years, and had finally decided it was time to stop fighting and let nature take its course. We were prepared and knew that his death would occur in the fall. More importantly, he was prepared, and died in his home, alone with his wife. How he wanted it. Death isn't easy, but this is how death is supposed to be—in old age, at peace with God, leaving behind children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, after a long career you enjoyed, in a home filled with reminders of a productive, well-lived life. 

Since becoming a mother, when I hear of random shootings, like the one in Sandy Hook Elementary, my heart goes out to the victims and their families. I pray for the lives prematurely ended. But more and more, I also think of the mother of the murderer. The grief she must feel in losing a child—to madness, and usually, to both madness and suicide. No matter how black your child’s heart, you’re still a mother, and you must still grieve with that loss. I think of the shame she probably feels. And the guilt. And the questions she must be asking— “If only I had seen the signs, could I have stopped this?” And then, how do you move on with your life when your son is responsible for something like this? So, my heart breaks for the families of the shooters, just as much as it does for the victims and their families.

At Christmas, especially this Christmas, I think often of Mary. This year, I’m thinking about how very pregnancy is a venture into the unknown— to give life to another is to accept that you cannot control the path that life will take. Only God knows the path He sets for each of us. Mary knew that the little life she carried in her womb would not be an ordinary one, but could she have seen how His story would unfold? Could she have anticipated that, years later, her precious Son would be executed—and that He did not choose to avoid it, but accepted it as part of God’s plan? And that she would be able to do nothing to stop it or change it? That her Son would be the ultimate sacrifice for humanity? I can't help but think she must have asked God "Why my son? Can't it happen another way?"


And, this year, I’m thinking more about the next part to the story. The resurrection. Jesus died. Mary experienced the loss of a child. But then, her son conquered death and rose again. Through His death, new life was given to us.

I hope that’s something we can all take with us in the coming year.

I spent a lot of time meditating on this specific part of the Christmas story this Christmas time...

Luke 1:26-38, 46-55

Announcement of the Birth of Jesus.*
In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary.

And coming to her, he said, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.”

But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.

Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,* and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?”*

And the angel said to her in reply, “The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.

And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived* a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.”

Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her….

The Canticle of Mary.
And Mary said:*
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;

my spirit rejoices in God my savior.

For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness;
behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.

The Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.

His mercy is from age to age
to those who fear him.

He has shown might with his arm,
dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart.

He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones
but lifted up the lowly.

The hungry he has filled with good things;
the rich he has sent away empty.

He has helped Israel his servant,
remembering his mercy,

according to his promise to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Judges and their puns

Today's homework featured a case where a yarn supplier had a contract dispute with a distributor. The judge made the most of it. Here are some puns in their opinion:

  • Textile Unlimited, Inc. (‘‘Textile’’) claims that ATTBMH and Company, Inc. (‘‘ATTBMH’’) is, in the parlance of the industry, spinning a yarn... 
  • ATTBMH counters that Textile is warping the facts...
  • Over the course of ten months of this tangled affair...
  • Each followed a similar pattern...
  • With arbitration looming...
  • The underpinnings of arbitration theory...
  • One of the threads running through [the theory]...

Friday, November 16, 2012

Xavier at 12 months

It's been a long year, but a wonderful one. Xavier is such a sweet kid, and a wonderful addition to our lives.

Stats: He's still a wee boy, at only 18lbs. He's in the 26% percentile for height at 29 inches.  He has 15 teeth at last count, and he seems to be getting ready to work on #16. He has been walking exclusively for several weeks now, though today he crawled a bit and I'm not sure what to make of that. He has been sleeping through the night most of the time for a while now. Lately, he has also been sleeping in until 8 or so (with a wake up for a diaper change around 6, but usually he wants to go back to sleep after). Along with the later wake up, he's been dropping to one nap... we still have some 2 nap days, but we're on the one nap train and I like it.

Other things... He's persistent, and already quite opinionated and independent. He wants to do things on his own, and I do my best to encourage it, hard as that sometimes is because usually it's messy or time consuming. He wants to eat with a fork and spoon, but can't do it on his own yet. He tries to put on his shoes, socks, and pants, but can't yet. He can put at least an arm into or out of his shirts and coats. He imitates us and wants to help with whatever we're doing-- whether it's a diaper change or sweeping the floors. He helps open and close doors, turn off lights, hold the dogs leash... he just wants to be part of whatever it is we're doing.

He's starting to really communicate with us, which has been so exciting. He claps his hands once (that's his way of doing the "more" sign), and points at things he wants. And he'll push it away if we grab the wrong thing. He has signed mama and dad once each, and he says "RAWR!" (when he sees pictures of dinosaurs/alligators/dragons [he doesn't know the difference]). He also says "dog" and "dad". I show him pictures of us, and he can point to "mama" and "dad" in the pictures. He bends his elbows and holds up his hands palms up when you ask a question, especially "Where is it?" He waves bye-bye. He claps his hands when you say "Good job!" or "Yay!" He bends his knees and "dances" when he wants to hear music. He sings/babbles along when people sing (like at church). He reaches up and grabs my legs when he wants held. He understands "no," but is only just starting to listen when told. And by that, I mean he did it, once. He understands "switch"-- when he has something in one hand that he needs to move to the other in order to put the other arm into his jacket.

He's cautious with strangers. He'll smile at them, but does not want to be held, thankyouverymuch.  But maybe, sometimes, if he's in a good mood, he'll be ok with being held by someone new. Sometimes.  Definitely not if Mama is an option instead though. But, with people he knows, he'll give them hugs and reach to be held by them. He's a sweet boy.

He likes things with wheels, and musical instruments. He LOVES animals. He laughs and gets so giddy around animals, or even when seeing pictures of them in his books. He likes books and turning the pages. I've caught him alone in his room a few times, turning pages in his books. He sits there laughing at the horse in The Very Busy Spider, or at pictures of pigs or dogs. Who knew pigs, dogs and horses were so silly?

He's not perfect, and I do try to maintain perspective-- I'm quite aware that my son is not the second coming of the Messiah, and he has his difficult moments just like every kid. Case in point: After  throwing a temper tantrum in the pediatrician's office, and while also demonstrating that he's smart and independent (and thus, developmentally ready), the pediatrician said "usually I don't talk to parents about starting to discipline their kids and using time-outs until 15-18 months, but with your kid, I think you need to and I think he's ready."

But, overall, he is pretty wondeful. Love him.

1 year of parenthood! 1 year as a family of 3 (or 4 with Juniper)-- Yay!


12 months-- and the end of our monthly photo shoots. 
I think after the 9 month pictures, these are my favorite-- they're my giggly, active, silly, happy boy. 


When X was born, Kenneth and I wanted X to be breastfed. I'll be honest, most of my motivation came from 2 sources: the fact that breast milk is free and the convenience of breastfeeding vs bottles. Yes, breast is best and there's lots of scientific evidence for why, but I also know too many people who were formula fed and/or choose to formula feed their babies to feel like breastfeeding is the only acceptable way to raise a healthy, happy child.

One happy baby-- breastfed for 12 months!
It was A LOT of work early on-- breastfeeding is HARD, even though it seems like it should be so easy and natural. I don't think it stopped being a chore (and sometimes even stressful) until X was 2.5 months old. And I'll be honest, I definitely had some resentment to work through. ("Ugh, this sucks. I have a baby attached to my chest around the clock, night and day, but Kenneth gets to do stuff like EAT and SLEEP and GO TO THE BATHROOM WHEN HE NEEDS TO.")  

But I'm really glad we stuck with it. The lazy side of me has looooooooved that I've never had to pack a bottle and formula in the diaper bag, that I could nurse him quicker than I could make a bottle, that I've never had to run to the store to buy formula. I love that X has enjoyed nursing, that it comforted him in ways that nothing else-- not even the pacifier-- could. And I loved being that source of comfort. And, while my health was far from being my sole motivation, the fact that I lost the baby weight pretty quickly and easily, and that my lifetime cancer risks are lower, all because we breastfed for as long as we did-- well, that's icing on the cake.

But a week ago, 1 week after his birthday, I decided it was time to let X choose whether to wean or not. The goal was to make it to a year, and I was bound and determined to make that happen if I could.  But, X had been showing less and less interest in nursing over the last 3 months or so, and I knew he would move on if I let him. So, once we got to the one year mark, and a supply of new sippy cups arrived from Amazon, I switched to a "don't offer, don't refuse" policy. And after that, he quickly weaned himself. He has even learned and started using the baby sign for "milk" in less than a week. We've gone 3 days now without nursing at all, and I have no more milk to offer, even if X wanted to nurse. (Although I do have a respectable freezer stash that we're now mixing in with his cow milk, and it will probably last us another month or 2.)
The last day X clearly and excitedly asked to nurse: the day we celebrated his birthday.
Somehow, that seems perfect.

It's bittersweet. I'm glad  my body is entirely mine once again (after almost 2 years, between pregnancy and breastfeeding), and I'm glad we met the one year goal. I'm proud that I stuck with it and gave that gift to myself and my child... But I'm sad too-- X is the one who made the decision, who let us know that he didn't need or want me to nourish him anymore. It's the first of many times over the course of our lives where X is going to show me that he doesn't need his mama-- he's growing up.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

1 year ago today..

One year ago today, my normal, everyday-since-29-weeks-contractions started coming closer together. They went from 6 minutes apart to 4 minutes apart between 6am and 8am. Kenneth called his boss and took the day off work (even though I said I was probably just having my normal contractions and that he should go to work still). And then an hour later, when the contractions were still coming at 4 or even 3 minutes apart, Kenneth convinced me that maybe I should call the doctor after all, that maybe I actually was in labor. They hurt, but not that bad. I was feeling good about this labor thing-- oh yeah, I can handle this.

And 21 hours later, I was finally admitted to the hospital-- which at the time, seemed like the biggest barrier between us and our baby. Being admitted meant I'd finally made some progress, and my body was finally starting to do its thing. Whoo hoo! 

And, it meant an epidural. God bless epidurals and all the fine anesthesiologists of our great land who give them to laboring women. 

It was still 12 hours after that before we saw these little toes...

and this little face...

... and became a family of 3 (4 if you count Juniper). 


Since having Xavier, I've decided birthdays aren't just about celebrating the person in question-- but also about the mom who did all the work to get that person here. 




And yes, happy day-labor-started-with-you day to my boy. You did your part in that birthing-thing too. It must have been tough getting squeezed every 4 minutes for 37 hours, getting your head rammed against my pelvis bones for 3 hours, and then having to be pulled out of your happy little home inside me. Sorry about that, but you can't remember it anyway, so really, I don't feel too bad. :) 

 Can't wait to celebrate and call you a 1 year old big boy tomorrow. Dad and Mama love you to pieces.