Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Defending "THE DECISION"

About a month after Addison's birth, Erik and I made an unpopular, unexpectedly controversial decision. Since then we've been called selfish, rash, stupid, and probably a few other things behind our backs. I'm honestly shocked that with our history and my blogs, that ANYONE we know and love would question our choice, but they have. I have been asked about it so many times, I'm going to give our answer and defend our decision publicly. Here it is: I am choosing not to birth any more children. Now, before you smile knowingly at the computer screen, let me add this. We took steps to make sure that we can't. You know, surgical steps.

I'm going to counter some of the things we've heard as to why we MUST give Addison a sibling. Yes, I realize that there are many stereotypes surrounding an only child: they are spoiled, they aren't social, they are egocentric, yada yada yada. Telling me all of that is not going to change my mind, because while I find the birth order effect endlessly fascinating, rarely does a child fit their birth order mold completely. We will try hard to make sure she is well-rounded and altruistic. Yes, I realize that an only child needs someone to play with. That's where friends and cousins come in. And we, as parents, will take extra steps to ensure that she has plenty of opportunities to spend time with other kids. Yes, I know that only children have a lot of responsibilities as their parents age and they have no one to share the burden with. But, as I've seen firsthand, there is no guarantee that more than one sibling will do the bulk of the work anyway. Plus, they get the inheritance all to themselves! :-) No, I don't think that we should have another baby "in case" something happens to her. As if a sibling could just take her place!? And yes, that has been given as a reason why we should have more than one baby. If I don't sound convincing enough, I'm in love with this article published in Time Magazine addressing this very subject.

That being said, I have not ruled out adoption. It was put on my heart long ago as I read Mary Beth Chapman's book, Choosing to See. It was like a bolt of lightning struck me as I was reading; I was SUPPOSED to adopt from China. In my mind, I have already named our second little girl. However, that same bolt has not struck my husband's heart, and unless/until it does, Addison will remain our only. And I'm just fine with that.

Now, on to the unsurprising reason behind our decision; it's very simple. There are no guarantees. This is true for every pregnancy, yes, but my odds are much different. "Habitual aborters" (my diagnosis still makes me cringe) are at a much higher risk for loss than someone who has had zero, one or even two miscarriages. I know myself. I know the roller coaster I was on before we had Addison, the craziness my husband was subjected to. Selfish to me is even considering exposing Addison to that mom who is drowning in loss, that mom who is so consumed with having another child she can think of nothing else. Am I choosing the lesser of two evils? Maybe so, but I don't see it that way.

We did not make this decision lightly nor did we do it without prayer. We feel that we are making the best choice for us, given our past. So now that the "When are you having a baby?" question is taken care of, hopefully this answers the unavoidable "When are you having another one?" that has started already. We aren't. God gave us Addison, entrusted His miracle to us, and unless He intervenes somehow, she will be an only child. We have the family that we've always wanted now, and someday, we will explain our decision to her. God willing, she will understand, even embrace, our choice. And that is all that matters.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


Have I mentioned I love making lists? Well, I'll say it again. I love making lists. They calm me down and bring order to my little piece of the world. Amidst the chaos of yesterday, I started writing a list in my head, as I tend to do under stress. I'm sure I would be much better off were my stress-relief some form of physical exercise, but alas, list-making it is...

I posted this question to friends shortly before Addison was born: "What was something that you REALLY used when you first had your baby?" I didn't want to register for things that we would either take back right away or kick ourselves for keeping later. 5 months into being a mommy, I have a pretty good idea about all that. I'm not going to include obvious things like diapers or car seats, but here are a few things I was extra thankful for or wished I'd had from the start...


1. A BASSINET. We didn't even register for one. After all, we had an adorable crib with custom-made bedding from my ridiculously talented friend Lori. Why would she sleep in anything else? Erik's intuitive mother got us one despite our ignorance. Well, after a month of sleeping on mommy or daddy's chest, a bassinet in the bedroom was the next best thing. We would push that soothing vibration button and she would be out like a light. And mommy slept a little easier too.

Our 5-in-1"Sleep System"

2. A SWING. I'm not talking about those cutesy little cradle swings that move gently from side to side...the ones that cost an arm and a leg. We started out with a Mamaroo, which is pretty much the coolest swing on the planet, and we gave ourselves mental pats on the back for finding a deal on Craigslist. Addison hated it from the beginning. No, instead she prefers the old fashioned know, the ones that swing you so high you ALMOST complete some sort of death-defying 360 degree loop? (Something I was terrified would happen to me while swinging on the playground). Yup, that's her. The faster and higher the better. This is something we still use and we wish we had had from Day One. Sometimes new technology ISN'T better.

Our magical Graco swing!

3. A BOTTLE WARMER. I know so many women out there use microwaves to quickly heat Baby's bottles. I'm not judging; I'm sure thousands of moms have done the same for theirs. But ever since I saw that supposed study on how microwaved water killed plants, I just can't bring myself to do it (even if the reporting websites completely lack credibility). It sounds just scary enough to be true. In a mere 4 minutes and 17 seconds, Addison's 6 oz. bottle is the perfect temperature. Dr. Brown's bottle warmer = $40. Peace of mind that my baby is most definitely not drinking toxic, plant-killing formula = priceless. Caveat: As one of my super-smart friends posted in the comments below, the plant killing experiment was not able to be replicated; I admitted as much above (see "supposed study" and "websites completely lack credibility"). Your microwaved bottles are most certainly safe. Probably...

We love our Dr. Brown's bottle warmer

4. SWADDLERS. For all you moms of sweet, dainty little girls and calm, happy little boys, soft swaddling blankets or even cute little gowns might be sufficient. For Addison, we required something resembling more of a baby straitjacket. It had industrial strength Velcro and a pocket for the legs. The first night we used one was the first night she slept through the night in her bassinet. We were ready to buy out Target's stock. Unfortunately, since our baby is part Hulk and part Houdini, even those failed to restrain her for long, but they were great while they lasted.

Our industrial strength swaddling blankets...

5. ONESIES WITH MITTEN CUFFS. From the moment Addison was born, her fingernails grew at an alarming rate. She used them to claw her face, poke her eyes, and stab us, her loving parents. She especially liked to wield her weapons while she was sleeping, ensuring that she would scream bloody murder and wake herself, and everyone else in the house, up. These little suckers put an end to all of that. We were actually starting to worry that we would delay some sort of sensory learning because she wore them so much. It was the only way we could keep her poor face scar free. For awhile I was actually thinking that we would have to have some specially made in toddler size!

Our saving grace onesies!

Honorable Mentions: A Comfy Glider/Rocker, Tuck's Pads, Mommy-sized Sweatpants, WubbaNub Pacifiers, and the NoseFrida Nasal Aspirator

I would love to hear below what YOU couldn't live without as a first time mom! Maybe together we can save someone money...or help them spend more!!  

Monday, April 15, 2013

I Hope...

I had fully intended to sit down tonight and write a relatively light-hearted blog this evening detailing Addison's second month. In light of today's news however, my mind is somewhere else tonight.

I still remember April 19, 1995. I was in 8th grade. I don't remember exactly how I found out about the Murrah Building bombing. All around me I saw taut faces, hidden tears, kids being picked up from school early. I knew something bad had happened. But I'm still not sure that at the age of 13, I fully grasped the gravity of it all. Even as I visited the fence covered with mementos and stared past it to what was left of the Murrah Building, my innocence somehow stayed in tact, my mind unable to connect the horror before me with a person's capacity for evil. It sounds crazy, but when I saw that fence and the love and support it represented, the first word that came to my mind was hope.

At the age of 20, when the World Trade Center tragedy (that seems too light a word) struck, I wasn't quite so naive. My mom woke me up with a phone call and told me to turn on the news. I sat there for hours staring at the television, the coverage both enraging me and numbing me all at once. Although I didn't understand the lasting ramifications for our country that day, I felt unsafe, terrified that someone could think they were doing the right thing, furthering a cause by taking the lives of so many. Whatever shred of innocence I may have had left disappeared that day.

More recently, as a new mom, the shootings in Aurora and Newtown have affected me in a different way. I am no longer scared for myself. I cradle my daughter in my arms and I am terrified beyond words at what her future will be like. I shudder to think that instead of a future inevitable act of terrorism being a major event in history and in her life, it will most likely be as commonplace as a car accident. I cannot bear the thought of my beautiful little girl and her entire generation growing up either too frightened to step outside of their houses or so angry they probably shouldn't.

Today, as I sat and gaped at the coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings, I was taken back to that day so many years ago - the day that my innocence shielded me from what people are really capable of, the reality that safety is most often just an illusion. My heart is broken for the children who just lost their innocence forever, for the families that went to cheer someone on, their hearts full of pride, only to end up crying in the streets, and for the pain of rebuilding lives that so many will have to endure. It also breaks for Addison. This is the world that she is going to grow up in. While I feel helpless to change it, I pray that somehow, some way, we can help her hold onto her childhood as long as possible. That we can make her understand but not be afraid. And if we do our jobs, maybe someday she will find the hope in the darkness just like I did so many years ago, but instead she will hold onto it, using it to make a difference. Maybe even change the world. Oh, how I hope...

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Mommy Musings - Month 1

It's a good thing I didn't publicize any resolutions or themes for this year, because blogging more often would have definitely been on the list. Whoops! As all moms know, free time is at a premium and mine is mainly spent cleaning or playing with Baby Girl. Even now Addison sits on my lap, cheering me on with her squeals and baby talk. I am going to try to make my "Mommy Musings" a "thing"... a monthly update on Addison, mommyhood, and our life in general. This one will center around Addison's first month of life...I have a lot of catching up to do!

Month 1: Our first month as a family of three wasn't quite the fairytale I had imagined. I spent virtually all of my time while I was pregnant worrying about the act of labor itself. I figured motherhood would come naturally and as crazy as it sounds, I barely gave it a second thought. After all, I had waited three years for this miracle; surely I would bond to her immediately. They did put Addison on my chest as soon as she was born, but she was having a little trouble breathing so they took her very quickly; I barely caught a glimpse of her. They whisked her away for a very long time, and honestly, I was so exhausted that I barely protested. I had been up for about 36 hours at that point and I was borderline delirious. Several hours later, when she started screaming inconsolably, I couldn't help but feel slightly relieved when the nurse took her away. The only thing on my mind was sleep, and there was little room for gult.

Once we got her home, the constant screaming continued. She had trouble nursing and was jaundiced, so we had to supplement with formula to ensure she was getting enough to eat. She rarely slept at night, preferring to nap exclusively during the day, and even then only giving in to sleep when she was wrapped up in the arms of her mommy or daddy. Erik and I took turns staying up all night so that we weren't complete zombies. We saved all of our energy for Addison and left nothing for each other or ourselves. I couldn't help but wonder what we had gotten ourselves into.

I can remember one night in particular in which I came into the bedroom where Erik was sleeping at about 3:30AM. I was crying hysterically and Addison was screaming in my arms. I had tried EVERYTHING, and at that point she had been screaming in my face for around 4 hours straight. I felt like a failure, a lunatic, and a sleep-deprived time bomb all in one. He jumped out of bed, let me crawl into it, and took over for the rest of the night. I felt a new respect for single moms at that moment; I don't know how I could have done it without Erik's help.

I had another breakdown about the time I finally worked up the courage to look at myself unclothed in the mirror. I remember telling Erik at that moment that my body was "ruined." Up until then I had been wearing baggy sweats like a security blanket. All throughout my pregnancy I saw different magazines touting celebrities going from due date to physically fit in mere weeks. I was honestly shocked that after almost a month, my body looked nothing like theirs... never mind their stylists, personal trainers, nutritionists, chefs, nannies, and plastic surgeons.

Of course there were beautiful moments interlaced throughout each day. Staring at the beauty of Addison's angelic, sleeping face. Breathing in her sweet scent as I held her in my arms. Gazing into her big blue eyes. Those times helped me remember to relish her first month, to recognize that she would be walking and talking in the blink of an eye.

I'm still not sure why I was so unprepared for the intensity of that first month as a first-time mom. Sure, we had heard that we would have a lack of sleep. I had been told that I would be in a lot of pain those first few days months after giving birth. Those things were true, but it was so much more. I know we weren't alone in our difficulty, because once we revealed our experiences to close friends, we could swap similar stories for hours. Honestly, I think the truly hard parts just aren't talked about, unless you google "hysterical, hormonal, sleep-deprived mom of newborn" (which I may or may not have done). Is the difficulty kept quiet due to the fear of sounding ungrateful for the blessing of a child? Is it the worry of being thought of as a bad mom? I feel a little of both, but I also feel the responsibility to tell other women it's normal! It doesn't necessarily mean you have post-partum depression or a colicky baby. Babies scream, parents get tired, and moms are hormonal. And even though it may not subside quickly, it will pass. I promise. And when it does, you'll be happier than you ever thought possible.

Addison at one month approving of the bookcase Daddy built her.