Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Jumping Audrey

This little jumping bean is my favorite daycare child. She's two months shy of turning three. It was her bouncing Pippi braids that made me pull out the camera, but they are a little hard to see.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Shaping Up with a New Helper

It's called the Urban Rebounder and it's GREAT! I found mine on Craig's List for $50, which is a great price. You can view a video of some of the workout moves on the U.R. webite.

I was always disappointed with the jogging trampolines because they didn't offer enough bounce and were hard to store. I didn't know about the Urban Rebounder when I started shopping. What I thought I'd do is get what I thought would be like a jogging tramp and remove some of the springs. When I saw the rebounder posted on Craig's List and looked at the Urban Rebounder website, I noticed that even the lightweight ladies were getting a very good, but soft bounce. I went and looked at it and tried it and snapped it right up. Last night I did my first workout on it and I'm in LOVE! They even have kids bounce workouts.

This morning, I put my Urban Rebounder and my nursery trampoline in front of my computer and let my daycare kids go to town on them. I couldn't believe how much they loved bouncing with the DVD workout. They bounced vigorously off and on, mostly on, for an hour! My little extra-coordinated child (2.5 yrs) was even able to follow several of the moves, while my less coordinated child (also 2.5 yrs), who is overweight, passed her own personal limit for endurance.

The reason I decided I needed something like this is that I'm having a hard time getting into shape for Summer Nationals, the big-deal fencing tournament of the year. I'm carrying 10 pounds more on me than this time last year, which, honestly, leaves me at a very normal 125 lbs. for my height, but it's a little more than I am comfortable with as an athlete. My ideal weight is 118 lbs. In the past, I couldn't keep any weight on because I was always fencing and struggled to stay over 116 lbs. Below that I had no reserve and felt weak, but nice and light on my feet. Fencing is a sport that combines footwork, bladework, timing, mental ability to make 4-5 tactical decisions per second and to read the opponent and effect them. My strengths are footwork and bladework, which have to compensate for my weakness in the other areas, so being light and fast on my feet is crucial to my game.

On top of all this, my fencing uniform is too tight so I can't take deep breaths to oxygenate my muscles properly. I wear a leotard (most just wear a t-shirt), then the required items: knickers that come at least 10cm above the waist and have suspenders, underarm protector (like a half a 3/4 length shirt), chest protector, jacket, and lame (metallic vest used for scoring), oh, and knee socks, mask and a glove. It's a lot to wear and not altogether the most comfortable. It gets very hot. Fencer's sweat like crazy and fencing itself is one of the top ten calorie burning Olympic sports.

All my gear on.

To prepare for Nationals, I will begin "peak training" in the middle of May. This is very, very intense and goes something like this: 6 out of 7 weekdays are divided into strength/conditioning/endurance, aerobic training, skills practice, lessons, sparring. The 7th day is for resting. I will do each vigorously until I find my threshold, the limit which I can't recover from by the next day, then tone down until I can recover, then maintain that level or slowly build up from there.

Right now, I'm not even near ready to begin peak training. I took off so much time due to my grandmother's situation and my grieving (I just didn't feel like working out), being sick with daycare-crud viruses, and catching up on work that I'm just out of shape.

But that's all about to change now that I have my Urban Rebounder!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Deeper Into Attachment & Bonding

I don't know what has made me go back through the books in my personal library, but I'm so glad I did. When reading them as part of my doula training, years ago, I was very focused on birth and the maternal-infant bond from that perspective. Now that I'm in the adoption process, I've discovered that many of my books have sections addressing adoption. One even has a VERY detailed section called "Caring for Parents of an Infant Who Dies" which I devoured as I have been reading blogs of babies with Trisomy 18 and other fatal conditions.

What I appreciate most about my collection of books is that, while easy to find, they are not in the mainstream. These are books that stay outside the systems of our society, i.e. the medical system, the public school system, the political system. What I mean by "stay outside" is that the focus is on human biological and psychological health and well-being by researchers, doctors, scientists and others not affiliated with money-based organizations such as pharmaceutical, baby formula, or disposable diaper companies. They are informing us of our choices, even if these choices go against mainstream systems, such as natural birth vs. medical birth (in which doctors, hospitals, and pharmaceutical companies make a lot of money as hospitalizations for childbirth make up 50% of all hospitalizations).

One of the things I've discovered is that the information in my books, which in some cases are a bit old, one published back in 1976, was considered ground-breaking and, perhaps, controversial, but now, with the huge understanding of the relatively new science of adoption psychology, is in sync with today's information, but with a deeper look into prenatal and perinatal psychology than most adoption books offer.

Here is a link to a site that has several articles on birth psychology as it pertains specifically to adoption. Below is a sort of introduction to this site:

About the Adoption Column
by Marci Axness

Adoption is not a single event, but a complex lifelong process. Adoption is not a simplistic happy, "everybody wins" situation, as it tends to be portrayed in our culture. Tremendous blessings can be experienced by all the participants in adoption, but we must never forget that those blessings are born of loss--the loss for the birthparents of a child they will not parent; the loss of their dreamed-of biological children that infertile adoptive parents will never have; and the loss for the adopted child of his or her biological, geneological, and possibly cultural connections.

The APPPAH Adoption Column will specifically explore the pre- and perinatal aspects of adoption, including the experience of loss and trauma, the potential for intimacy and healing within the adoptive family, avenues for adult healing, and the exciting frontiers of what greater pre- and perinatal consciousness can mean for future adopted children and their parents."

One article from this site, What Is The Primal Wound? Understanding The Trauma of Infant-Maternal Separation by Marcy Axness, reenforces what an adult adoptee emphasized over and over again in her class called, Things Adopted Children Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew, and that is that EMPATHY with the adopted child's experience and their feelings is of utmost importance.

In another article to adoptive parents, A Therapist Counsels Adoptive Parents: Interview with Wendy McCord, M.F.C.C., Ph.D.by Marcy Axness, a key state is, "The most important information that adoptive parents can have is that their baby is conscious of what happened to it, that there is, encoded in it's biological and emotional and spiritual system, the knowledge, already, of this primal wound. Babies sense it physically, emotionally and spiritually--on all levels."

There are many informative and interesting articles on the Birth Psychology website. Another one that particularly resonates with me is this:

""The first time I saw him I felt I'd burst! And the first time I held him I knew I was in love and bonded with him forever. You forget that you weren't pregnant (although I admit I regret I never had that experience) and instead are so grateful that someone else was and had the generosity of heart to bestow this incredible gift on you." Adoptive parent"

The reason this statement resonates with me a lot is because I do miss the fact that I'm not pregnant, but one mom who brought her daughter home a year ago said to me, "When they placed her in my arms it was the most natural thing in the world," and I'm looking forward to the moment when my daughter is placed in my arms and to feel what I'm going to feel at that moment.

One statement I disagree with is this, "Adoption is a second choice for all the triad members. People do not expect to grow up, get married, and adopt a child. Likewise, a person does not expect to grow up, get pregnant, and give her child to strangers to raise. It is also expected that families will retain their kinship ties and grow up knowing their biological relatives." The reason I disagree is because I know of many people who made that exact choice from the start, others adopted in conjuction with biological children, or as a start to their family before trying to concieve biologically. However, for many people, this statement is the utter truth.

There is a myriad of information available to give us insite as adoptive parents and I'll continue pass along resources as I come across them in my studies.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Babies Remember Birth

Those of us adopting our children from China will probably never know our child's birth story. As an experienced doula, I know there is one thing to be very grateful for and it is that our children were probably born naturally, meaning the birth mothers weren't given narcotics or other drugs during labor, and they were probably born gently, most likely, at home. Contrary to the teachings and beliefs of western medicine, homebirth is much safer than hospital birth for healthy women, especially in this day and age of super-bugs, bacteria that is resistant to antibiotics, which is most commonly found in hospitals, but not in our homes.

I have seen many, many births here in the United States of women of different cultures and have studied videos of births in other countries, including China, and have attended several seminars from various natural birth experts, from Elizabeth Noble to Ina May Gaskin, and I'm grateful for the fact that my daughter will have probably had a good birth experience.

Conversely, though, the stress that Chinese birth moms experience during the pregnancy and birth surrounding the issue of the baby's gender, may negatively effect our children in profound ways.

I was fortunate that in my doula studies, there was heavy emphasis on pre- and perinatal psychology. One of the books on the required reading list, currently out-of-print, but available used at Amazon is: Babies Remember Birth and Other Extraordinary Scientific Discoveries About the Mind and Personality of Your Newborn by Richard Chamberlain, Ph.D. Another book that refers frequently to Babies Remember Birth is Elizabeth Noble's book Primal Connections.

I have seen a woman who was given Demerol after the birth of her first baby, act like a baby herself. She had regressed to early infancy, curled up on her hospital bed in the fetal position and making sucking motions with her mouth. The Demerol, combined with the birth experience had taken her back to her past.

In her book, Primal Connections, Elizabeth Noble states, "For a woman, giving birth is a potentially powerful regression experience, just as reliving being born can be mixed with a woman's own experiences of labor and delivery."

She goes on to say, "Unintentional regression can occur during viral illnesses such a flu, infections and hepatitis. Fevers, hyperthyroidism, goiter, premenstrual syndrome, prolonged sleep or food deprivation, motion sickness, and sea sickness all diminsh the forces of repression. Drugs that abolish consciousness, anesthetics, barbituates, and alcohol also weaken repression, either when they take effect or when their effect is wearing off."

The stress and trauma of "gotcha day" is definitely enough to trigger early memories in our children, perhaps of their abandonment. They may have memories of being safe within their birth mother's womb and then left alone after birth, or nurtured for several hours, days, weeks or months by their birth mothers and/or other family members and then suddenly they are alone and then with dozens of other babies and strangers. The majority of birth memory stories I've studied are startling in the fact that the babies recall being separated from their mothers and wanting them desparately.

Another incident involved the daughter of one of my closest friends. At this child's birth, the nurse giving the baby her first bath was very brusque, to the point of being too rough, and the baby was screaming. When that little girl was about 6, her mom was showing her her baby pictures and comparing them to the newest sibling that had just been born. I had attended my friend's recent birth and bathed the baby myself. The baby was calm and relaxed, stretched out slowly and began to explore the new sensations. Suddenly, the little girl said to her mom, "I was crying because there was soap in my mouth. I hate soap in my mouth!" Sure enough, I remember the nurse using tons of soap, Nutrogena, which is very caustic.

I highly recommend both of these books and others that can be found on the subject of birth memory. I've attended terrific classes at my adoption agency on bonding and the stages of attachment development and the types of disorders that can occur when there is a problem with attaching. I'd like to take it a step further, or, rather, a step backward, and bring up the fact that the most primal separation occurred shortly after birth for most of our children. The Amazing Newborn is another book I highly recommend, by Marshall and Phyllis Klaus and Maternal-Infant Bonding by Marchall Klaus and John Kennell. These books explain how highly developed our babies are at birth.

Elizabeth Noble says in her book Primal Connections that, "Although ordinary memory may be flawed, Chamberlain reminded us that at a deeper level there is a vastly extended memory, reachable in nonordinary states of consciousness. During a traumatic event, a person is often in shock, and later in normal consciousness is unable to remember very much at all. Yet under hypnosis, crime victims for example, can recall such details as the numbers on a car license plate.... Regressive association is the process by which we put two and two together, not by reasoning but by spontanious feeling."

Knowing how babies are psychologically and physically "hard-wired" to bond, as well as the stages of growth in these areas, will help us help our children when we meet them. It will give us a deeper understanding of what they are experiencing, which will help us through the bonding and growing into a family and give us a better understanding of some of the issues our children will have surrounding their birth and bonding and the significance of the separations they've experienced and will continue to experience in the normal course of life.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Apple's First Baby Book

I forgot to mention that one of my daycare kids "graduated" up to preschool. I watched him for two years. His mom and dad are great people. They've been supportive and excited about my adoption from the start, giving me large holiday bonuses (they were the first to do so in 10 years of doing daycare), and selling me their Ergo baby carrier for a great price. On their son's last day they gave me some little gifts and one of them was an adoption memory book for Apple called My Family, My Journey. It was wrapped in celophane so I couldn't read it, and knew they couldn't either, but once I opened it, I was very pleased because it's perfectly appropriate for a single mom and I'm betting it was put together by someone who adopted from China.

The cover is very simple and unisex, as you can see, but it was very well thought out. The only reference it makes to two parents is by saying "we" and "our" in places, like, "Our hopes and dreams for you," but it never says "mom" or "dad" so it's okay for single parent families. Instead of having baby's first year, starting from newborn, it has one through twelve months of pages for "Your First Year With Us" and "Your First Birthday With Us." It even has two pages for "Your Adoption Buddies."

Besides this book, I've kept a detailed journal and I'm putting together a Life Book. The Life Book is red suede with 12" x 12" pages. When I come across intersting news articles about China I print and save them, especially if it's about the one child policy. I kept some lucky money in a red envelope from my first FCC BTNYs party and a decoration from my first FCC Autumn Moon Festival dinner. Once I receive my referral, I'll find out all I can about Apple's life before we met and put it into her Life Book.

1Year LID Fashion Show

For your viewing pleasure today, we present a Zu*tano knock-off I made using a pattern I drafted. The fabric is a 100% buttery soft cotton in an all over print of cheerful jungle animals. This dress will go with the pair of green or white Carter's pants I bought back in January. The pants can be viewed here.

Unlike Zu*tano, I gave the neck of this dress a more professional finish using a self-fabric binding finished with my new cover stitch machine, a Janome CoverPro 900. This effect can be simulated by using a twin needle on a regular sewing machine, which is what I've always done until now. I straddled the binding seam with the needles which gave it a lighter, more delicate, look than if I'd sewn with both needles on the binding. I prefer this type of finish on the neck because it's easy, holds the curve of the neck well and is professional.

If you haven't realized it by now, all the Easter dresses are on sale! I picked this one up at The Children's Place for 50% off. It's pink pique with embroidered daisies, fully lined, and comes with a matching diaper cover. This pretty dress features two large inverted pleats in the front with bows. The hat was a separate coordinate. I teamed this dress set with a white cotton shrug from the same company. The dress is size 12m (the largest it came in) and the shrug is size 24m because the sleeves are rauched and can be pulled up over 12m sized arms. This way the shrug can be used for several months with a variety of Apple's sleeveless dresses.

Here is the dress without the shrug which better shows the bows and pleats.

1 Year Down Mascot

It's a Mother & Daughter, of course!

It's the first purchase I've made for Apple at Bellini, a very upscale baby store, and it was priced reasonably. I love going into this store because the woman who manages it is young and friendly and always remembers me and asks how the adoption is going.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

...More LID 1 Year Anniversary Fun

This is what was waiting for me on my doorstep yesterday...

With this fun card...

I've said it before, but I have to say it again, I have the BEST friends! Tonight we're going out to eat Mongolian BBQ. I'll try and take some pictures.

*Update: I didn't take any pictures at dinner. Here is a card one of my friends brought for me...

Celebrating ONE YEAR Logged In at CCAA!

More of the party coming throughout the day! Join me in a toast to a future filled like this basket, with a baby to fill our hearts.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Moment of Despair

We imagine a nursery, buy a few things, add a crib, the bedding, a dresser, find a nice bookshelf, perhaps refinish a few used pieces and voila, a beautiful room. My reality is that I run two businesses out of my 700 square foot apartment. When I began my paperchase, I actually moved most of one business into a commercial office, all the sewing stuff.

The daycare playroom, spruced up for my dossier picture.
Notice Velvet on the tunnel.

I had the livingroom set up as the daycare playroom, my bedroom had two daycare cribs in it and the second bedroom was my livingroom and where the cats went to escape the kids. It was GREAT having the playroom in the livingroom. The windows are low so there was plenty of natural light and the kids could watch for their parents coming to pick them up. I could be in the kitchen and know exactly what was going on. The major downside was that when I had guests, they came in the front door and had no place to sit. I could drag them through to the livingroom, but if I was in the kitchen, we couldn't talk. The livingroom in the bedroom also became the "catch all" room. It was a chilly room so I didn't like to be in there except in the summer.

The dilemma I had was this: Do I...
Share a bedroom with Apple?
Each of us have a bedroom of our own?
Do what with the daycare?

I kept praying about it and in early December, I suddenly knew how to arrange everything to accommodate my grandmother, me, the daycare and have a nice livingroom where it was supposed to go. After moving everything, I breathed a huge sigh of relief because it looked so nice and was functional.

After my grandmother died, I rearranged my bedroom again and it never felt right. I bought a used IKEA crib to make into a toddler loft bed so another daycare kid could sleep underneath it, but last Monday when I got it built and moved everything around, it was awful and I realized that the way I wanted the room to be for Apple and I wasn't going to work out. I sat in the middle of my room, in the middle of the night (because that's when I finally finished) and felt like crying. Exhausted, I said, "I can't think of this tonight," and I went to bed. Moving my furniture, by myself, isn't as easy as it should be because I have my bed on risers and under the bed is where I store tons of business stuff so I have to drag that stuff all around, too.

Tuesday, I prayed about things and left it all in Heavenly Father's hands. He's the one who is giving me Apple and He wouldn't do it if I didn't have a nice place for her. Tuesday night, I had another go at moving things around. I put my bed back in my favorite position, the same place I'd moved it to for my grandmother, and then things started falling into place. I can now see how Apple and I will fit into one room (booting out the daycare bunkbed) and it will look nice and be roomy enough.

Huge sigh of relief!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Outfit of the Day

I made these bloomers from my Boxers & Bloomers pattern for a pattern show I did a few years ago. They are size three. The top, a bodysuit, I found on sale at Babies R Us for $6.20. The minute I saw the top I knew I wanted it for the bloomers.

There are buttons in the middle of the flowers and the flowers are layered so there is a little dimension to the embroidery that looks very high-end in real life.

The fabric that the bloomers are made of is some that I bought from the Chicken Noodle Soup factory years and years ago in anticipation of being a mother some day. Amazingly, the day is upon me and I'm having a blast! All the clothes I brought back with me from Japan and bought from super high-end stores closing in San Francisco is going to get used. My advanced planning definitely paid off.

I should explain that I'm not a name brand snob. I'm an adult who as a kid was made to wear itchy, icky polyester clothing with rough chunky seams or stiff jeans that made me very uncomfortable. My mom always said, "I can't stand shopping with you; you are too picky." I've found that I'm not too picky. I simply had and still have sensitive skin. This made me vow that my children will only have soft, well-made clothing to wear, even if I had to make them myself, which I've done. But from a VERY early age, I kept my eyes open for sales and ways and means to aquire the kinds of things I know I couldn't otherwise afford and now Apple and I are benefitting. She gets to be comfortable and I don't have to spend a fortune.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Truth About Flat Heads

We've all read blogs about Chinese babies with the backs of their heads very flattened "from lying in their cribs all day long." Well, guess what? Japanese people have VERY flat heads, too, and after living there for several years, can say that babies are not left lying in their cribs all day long. You want to know something else? Ever since the "Back to Sleep" campaign started in the West, Western, yes, U.S. babies have very flat heads, too. Some are so flat that they have to wear a special helmet 22 out of 24 hours a day to round their heads back out. Not only are the backs flat, but there is something happening that I call the Flounder Effect because part of the Back to Sleep instructions include turning the baby's head to the side in case they spit up. So now the growing flat spot is not the back, but the area between the back and the ear that is flat. When this part flattens, the skull starts "spinning" and the opposite eye and ear start rotating around to the back and the other eye and ear to the front making an extremely asymmetrical head. I have seen extreme cases of this in two of my daycare babies. That's why there is so much emphasis now on Tummy Time.

Another thing that's adding to it is the amount of time babies spend in the infant carseats. From the car to the stroller to in the house, they are in these things for HOURS! In California daycares, infant seats, bouncy seats and jump-ups cannot be used so providers are using carseats instead. Some babies LIVE in their carseats. IMO, it's a crime. I always recommend that parents get the infant to toddler carseats because they stay in the car and parents are forced to take their baby out of them except when they are actually in the car.

So why do Japanese people in Japan have such flat heads? They sleep on hard tatami mats and not mattresses. Chinese beds are notoriously hard, too. We know that babies in SWIs that are in the hotter regions have wood planks and no mattresses.

Why do premature babies have long narrow heads? Again, the force of gravity and pressure on such soft skull bones. Preemies are not left in one position for very long, they are constantly turned and moved to promote even development, but it still happens.

The bottom line is that the babies have very soft skulls in order to be born and the final shape depends on the surface and position they rest in during their first weeks and months of life. A Chinese baby with a flat head has not necessarily been left too long alone in a crib. Some babies have been in foster care, others at the better SWI, like the ones sponsored by Half the Sky, and their heads may be as flat as a baby from the south, lying all day on a wood board in their crib.

After typing all of this, I found a great article about and it and some very good information and photos:

Plagiocephaly (flat head syndrome)
Cranial Technologies, Inc.
Flat heads among infants on the rise

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Please Come Celebrate

April 15th will be my 1 year LID anniversary and I would like to celebrate it by having dinner at the Mongolian Barbeque restaurant on Park St. in Alameda with some friends. Here's the address:

Genghis Khan Kitchen
1540 Park St
Alameda, CA 94501
(510) 522-8398

If you'd like to celebrate with me, please drop me an email. If Tuesday the 15th is not good and you think a weekend gathering would be better, please let me know.

For those of you not familiar with this restaruant, it's an all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet with a Mongolian BBQ make-it-and-they-cook-it grill. There is a ton of seafood, dessert bar, and a lot more, even great french fries.

Best of all, it's under $12 not including drinks and big kids are less, little kids are free.

When you email me, please suggest a time. I'm more inclined to meet at 6pm or 6:30pm on Tuesday and at a lunch time if it's a weekend, but if that doesn't work, let me know.