13 months

As if right on cue, Potamus stood up by himself (no hanging on hand-holds) two days before he turned 13 months. Typical. He then proceeded to walk all the way across the house with assistance! Jiminy Christmas, it’s happening all so quickly!

Sleeping in his Montessori floor-bed is going GREAT, with me spending much less time in there nightly. We’re weaned during the day and then nurse at night a few times. My goal was 12 months, so to make it for 13 feels excellent, and I don’t have any hard and fast plans to night wean anytime soon. Daycare has been amazing for helping Potamus go down for naps, and we’ve been getting a lot more done around the house!

His food pallet is expanding every day, and he is now loving banana “pancakes.” It is seriously the EASIEST recipe ever: 1 mashed banana and 2 eggs whipped into the banana. You cook it on a griddle like pancake! I spread a thin shmear of peanut butter on it, and he loves it…which is so great because he was eating just a ton of crackers and pasta, so to incorporate some more fruit and other proteins is great! Check it out, it tastes yummy!

My parents were visiting this weekend, so we ventured on up to KidsQuest with them and met up with my brother and Miss A! The kiddos seemed to enjoy themselves!

Grammy & Grampy

Cousins!

fishtank fun

auntie photobombs the babies

the lovely Miss A

Mama Monk-Monk and baby Potamus 069704071_nBoof, Monk-Monk, Potamus

First Birthday

Birth & One Year Later

Happy Birthday Potamus! Today you turn  1, and I couldn’t be happier that you are my sweet little boy.The moment you were laid on my chest I said, “I love you, and have waited so long to meet you!” It was an early morning, 6:29 am, but I felt so much love and energy that I couldn’t stop smiling and snuggling you. After about an hour, your daddy had to ask if me if he could have a turn! This year has been filled with so many adventures, from family reunions all over the state, to a wedding in Oregon, to local fun events like KidsQuest Museum and a concert for your favorite musician, Caspar Babypants. You are my little adventurer, happy unless hungry (or tired or poopy or sick), and social. You love spending time with your grandparents and aunties (both biological, and non) and especially love 4 legged creatures like our pup Scrummy. You are also always on the move! You started crawling at 8 months and haven’t looked back, since. You currently enjoy throwing the ball down grammy’s stairs and going to chase after it! And you love to eat, tortellini with marinara sauce is your current favorite, which makes me happy because I love it, too!

I wish so many more wonderful things for year 2! I am excited for you to begin walking unassisted, and for you to sleep longer stretches at night in your big-boy bed! I am excited to take trips to the zoo and the aquarium and for all the friends you’re going to make at “school” when you start in January. I miss some of your babyness, but am loving the little boy you are turning out to be! I hope your birthday was a happy and special day! Know that your mama and daddy love you very much. We are so happy that your are in our life!

Potamus One year later

Montessori Floor Bed Update

Potamus has been sleeping in his floor bed for approximately two weeks. This means that mama monk-monk has been sleeping in Potamus’ floor bed for approximately 1.5 weeks. There are better nights than others, like two nights ago where he slept for 5 hours in a row there (but this was AFTER a 2 hour struggle of crying and moping around carrying his tambourine and banging it on the floor). Last night was rough, to say the least, with an almost 3 hour crying/whining jag from 3-5:45am. Sigh. Sometimes I end up sleeping next to him for blocks of time, and other times I’m able to creep away unnoticed and curl up in our luxurious king-size memory foam heaven. Because, lemme tell ya, a twin mattress from your parents’ old bunk bed, placed on hardwood floor, is…less than comfy.

But these moments, where he’s in dreamland by himself, or curled up next to me, seem SO worth it (the next day, because in the moment where he’s thrashing around crying, I do tend to want to pull my hair out).

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Birthday Reflections as I turn 30

Tomorrow I am turning the big 3-0, which means that I have been kickin’ it on planet Earth for three decades! Whew!

I normally get crabby around my birthday. It’s happened ever since I could remember, and I didn’t really understand the correlation until I was an adult and in support with other adoptees. I wrote angsty journal entries as a teenager that would often ask my diary the question, “is this because I am adopted?” and now, as an adult, I can unequivocally say, “yes, it is.” For most people, birthdays are celebrations of birth, but for me, a celebration of my birth is also a bittersweet reminder that my birth resulted in a separation from my mother, father, and all my extended family. For the longest time I didn’t really feel born, more like I had simply somehow poofed into existence here, like an alien arriving from a different planet. And, until I was 25, I did not have any pictures of me, as a newborn. There was a few taken a few days later, but none of that moment, the one where I took my first few breaths and was held by my parents. But, when I met Father J, one of the first things he did was pull the two pictures of me that he had, out, and gave them to me. Two pictures. That’s all I have. One of me in my mother’s arms, she is not visible, except for her iv marks, which is strangely appropriate and sad, as a foreshadow of things to come and come and come. And one of him holding me. It’s been doubly exposed, though, as it was either taken over previous film or vice versa. Which is also appropriate…a life captured and then gone to be replaced by something different.

Baby Monk-Monk with Mama Ebaby monk monk with father j

So, this week, I’ve managed to oscillate between feeling excited about my upcoming joint birthday party with Potamus, and pissed off. I’ve mostly felt pissed off. I’ve sulked and tromped around and thrown mini-internal tantrums. Because,  I didn’t really understand the importance of a birth day or a birth story until I gave birth to Potamus. I wonder if I should simply start celebrating his birth as my own, since the day he was born, was the day I became a mother. Maybe in the future I will simply start celebrating my birth on the 2oth, as it was both the day I became a wife (anniversary) and a mother (birth of Potamus). Hey, I kinda like that idea.

Potamus 1 hour old Snuggling

But here I am, an individual, who was earthly born out of my mother’s body on December 13th. In Scandinavian tradition, the 13th is St. Lucia’s Day, typically thought to be the darkest day of the year, which is celebrated with children wearing crowns of candles and bringing their parents hot coffee and cinnamon buns. I think it appropriate that I was born on this day, and have loved the tradition and symbolism since I was a child. In fact, I created elements of this tradition in my wedding, with a red sash and crown and wedding favors of Norway Spruce.

6a00e5521f4a68883401053655aeaa970c-800wi Monk-Monk Wedding Dress & Sash

But in so many ways, 3 decades have gone by quickly. I’ve gotten to meet lovely people, and have had many many adventures. From spending a year barefoot, to river rafting in the Ganges, to riding in the Fremont Solstice Naked Bike Ride. I have a lovely group of friends, a comfortable home to come home to, and a sweet little family that I have created with Boof. I have so much to be thankful for, and am looking forward to the next 30 years. But growing old and looking back is still hard.

Taj Mahal Manastash RidgeSeattle Sounders Fremont Solstice Parade

Baseball

Separation Anxiety…whoa!

Oh my goodness, I am two days into Winter Break and Potamus has developed full-fledged separation anxiety symptoms. Seriously. From out of nowhere. Or maybe my being home for 5 days in a row has triggered his primal neediness for his mama, but whatever it is, it’s causing a ruckus in our household.

On one hand, I am quite flattered that my baby has not forgotten who his mama is. I love spending time with him, going on outings to places like Little Diggers, and visiting friends. But Boof is an equal co-parent and has been a stay-at-home daddio for the past 8 months, and is equally capable of doing tasks around the house. And before the past few days, Potamus has fluidly been passed between the two of us for such tasks as bathing, being dressed, diapered, fed yogurt, for storytime and to be bounced to sleep if being nursed to sleep doesn’t work. But the minute Boof tries to do any of these things, in the past three days, Potamus has screamed his head off. If I am not in the line-of-sight at all times, he is freaking out. If I go to the bathroom he is crawling after me. If he wakes up in the night in his new big-boy-bed and he’s nursed within the past 2 hours, I’d like him to be bounced back to sleep, but to no avail. Wailing and beating his tiny little fists against Boof’s large chest. The sound is both pitiful and heartbreaking and does NOT ease my mind about this whole daycare situation. And, while he’s trying to be manly about it, Boof’s feelings are hurt.

Boof claims that once I leave, like today I went to coffee with a friend, Potamus calms down right away and plays happily. But when he was over with grandma, and Boof came home, Potamus crawled over to her and was clingy with her. Yeah. Note to baby Potamus: this makes daddy sad.

I would like to say that I handle this clingyness calmly and rationally. But really I vacillate between feeling empathy for such a little sweetness who is having sad or scared moments and needs his mama, and moments where I want to put my fist through a wall. I’ve been reading some personality stuff online, and this pretty much sums up some of my frustration nicely:

Motherhood can be especially challenging for your restless sign, since it requires consistency, structure and often, sitting still. As a spontaneous Sag, you’re used to following your instincts and whims, and going with the flow. That doesn’t quite mesh with kids’ need for regular meals, bedtimes, school and homework schedules. You may forever be juggling way too many projects, leaving you short on time and attention for your children. Motherhood demands that you cut back on the multi-tasking, even if you still type emails while breastfeeding, or allow occasional time with “electronic babysitters” like TV or iPads. The pre-verbal stage can be especially hard for the antsy, interactive Sagittarius mom. Your idea of purgatory? Sitting still to play endless counting games, stack the same three blocks, or do any of the other mind-numbingly repetitive activities that others call “early childhood development.” You’ll need that proverbial village to keep your children properly raised and entertained.

Needless to say, the clingyness falls under this category of often-annoying to me. But I am trying really really hard to just get down on his level, be in the present moment, even if it’s in the middle of the night and he’s nursing to sleep, and have some quality time. And in trying to wrap my head around this sudden spurt of clingy separation anxiety, I came across this quote:

the clingy, attention-seeking nature of our children is actually hard-wired into their brains. It makes biological sense that children evolved to make sure they were under an adults’ radar at all times, to protect them from wolves and other dangers in the wild. There may not be any wolves in our houses these days, but children’s brains are still the same.

Whew, that is SO good to remember. While I knew it bodily, my more advanced intellectual brain wants baby Potamus to operate with a fully functioning frontal lobe, or can understand basic English and have patience to ‘wait a sec while mommy wipes her butt.’

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Little Diggers!

Potamus in the Sand!

Today was the day we took Potamus to the Little Diggers time at Sandbox Sports! I want to say he “loved” it, but he actually spent quite a bit of time chilling between my legs, with an air of worry about him. I imagine he was saying to himself “what is this stuff? And why is mom making me play in it?” But by the end he was happily scooping with his hands and I was trying to fend off the eating of sand. I would like to think he wasn’t really trying to eat it, but he brushed his mouth and then there was sand in his mouth and he tried to get it out (with sandy fingers) and it all went down hill from there.

We were met by a friend from our neighborhood, so it was fun to catch up, and have mommy talk, while our kiddos played. Definitely recommend this place for rainy Seattle days!

From Co-Sleeping to Montessori Floor Bed

Co-sleeping

It’s like all in one day my baby has become a big boy. While we’ve been slowly weaning for awhile now (due to my working and Potamus REFUSING breastmilk from a bottle/sippy/regular cup. He’s been living off Greek yogurt and cereal and a little bit of water and nursing at night. But this week, despite his fever and and snotty nose, he has managed to begin drinking whole milk from a sippy cup (without the slow-flow prevention). While it’s still really assisted, he’s managed to drink several ounces and today even began to suck from the spout rather than chewing on it. While we’re not planning on fully weaning anytime soon, this sippy cup milk drinkin’ is gonna come in handy during daycare.

And, in other big boy news, Potamus is rejecting co-sleeping in our bed. We’ve been transitioning him to his big boy floor bed, ala the Montessori philosophy, but he hadn’t yet embraced SLEEPING in his bed. We’ve read stories and he’s played quietly in the bedroom while I’ve been resting on the bed, but two nights ago we slept for part of the night in bed with me next to him, and then last night he fell asleep in his bed and didn’t just sleep for the 2-3 hours he normally does, he slept for FOUR hours, AND THEN he woke for quick snack and slept for ALMOST FIVE HOURS STRAIGHT. Holy moly (though I wish that I could say that I got that much sleep in a row, since I was anxious without his breathing right next to me.)

My baby is growing up.

Sigh.

He then he also slept in his big boy bed for his nap today.

I honestly love co-sleeping. With Potamus at almost a year old, it got me thinking how he has been that close to me for the whole pregnancy and then almost an entire year post-pregnancy. No wonder it was hard for me to not hear his little breathing next to me! I’m trying to not second guess sleeping with him in our bed this long, since he clearly was ready right then to transition, and while I know we’ll have plenty more snuggle sessions and he’ll probably crawl into bed to co-sleep some nights or mornings, it just felt like a such a sign of his increasing independence.

Endings

Well, I have successfully completed my first quarter as a real-life college professor. Okay-fine, an adjunct professor. Okay-fine, a part-time instructor. Seriously, language is a HUGE thing (apparently) and I’ve been reading a gazillion emails today from irate professors/instructurs/adjunctfaculty/yourmom about WHAT TO BE CALLED IN EMAILS, because, apparently, people get their panties in a twist about the nuances of instructor/professor/adjunctfaculty. Whatevs. A student came up to me after his final presentation and the conversation went something like this:

Student: You’re new here, right? This is your first quarter teaching.
Me: Yes, I am new here. Though I’ve taught in a lot of different capacities over the years.
Student: Yeah, well you were good. You have a good teaching style. And I think people need to know when they did a good job. So, I’m telling you, you did a good job.
Me: Wow. Thank you. I appreciate that.

So there you go, I guess I didn’t do too poorly in teaching my first college course. And I am heading out the door for ONE MONTH of freedom. Whoo boy, I’ve got plans people! Plans!

Now if only Potamus would cooperate with said plans. Instead of whining. Yeah yeah, you have a fever of 102.5 kid, but I HAVE PLANS! And those plans include a) sleeping for 100 hours and b) doing FUN THINGS WITH YOU, so get ahold of your feverish self and let’s get crackin! No, it doesn’t work that way? Well poop.

I have noticed that co-sleeping with a feverish 11 month old is much like wearing a mink or fox neck wrap. But one that’s set on fire by 1,000 suns. And dipped in sweat. Pure awesomeness, until PETA is called, because that’s gotta violate all sorts of ethical issues.

At any rate, I am SUPER STOKED to have a month of freedom from work. I have a massage lined up, a coffee date with a friend, a joint birthday partay for me and little man, but most importantly: tons of quality time with Potamus. One thing I am excited to try is a place called Little Diggers Playtime, which is an indoor beach volleyball court that they open for kiddos to play in the sand since we live in freaking Seattle and it’s ALWAYS crummy weather during the winter.

Can’t believe this little boy is almost ONE. Geez. Where has the time gone?

Frog Head & his Mama

On the Move!

Makin' PEE soup. HA!

Soccer @ Church

Balloon Ball Fun

11 Months, Thanksgiving Prep, and Birthday Invitations

Yesterday Potamus turned 11 months. No other time in his life is he going to be celebrated every month, so I like to go all-out. And by that, I mean, I sat on the couch and snapped a few pictures of him doing his thing…which, predictably, included the new skill of walking with his walker toy.

Yeah, proud mama right here! My baby’s walking! So what if he needs a walker, there are plenty of grown-ass adults that need walkers!

Another new skill is: being completely obsessed with my writing while on the laptop. Proof:

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Today my adoptive parents trek across Snoqualmie Pass to begin Thanksgiving prep. I’m mostly excited about spending time with them, making the pecan pie and the raspberry jello, and showing off Potamus’s new walking pasttime. I am excited for family time and rolls and drinking 6 bottles of sparkling cider.

I am nervous about having to navigate the whole jealousy issue. And I’m nervous about trying to placate my crazy ex-sister-in-law as she drops off her daughter for my adoptive brother’s custody holiday. She’s nuts, and I dislike having to deal with her.

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Yesterday I approved Boof’s invitation wording for our combined 30 & 1 birthday party in December. It was so sweet, how he put a picture of me and Potamus with the wording:

“Come Celebrate 30 & 1 with Mother and Son”

Narrowing the guest list down to friends was the easy part. But the whole family thing gets trickier. And as an adoptee, I tend to go between the opposite extremes of trying to please everybody or saying “screw it” and doing my own thing. But with a certain limit to how many people will fit into the rented room.
My challenge isn’t my biological dad, he and his family are a given.

My adoptive parents are going to be out of town and so we are doing a belated birthday bash right before Christmas.

It’s my biological mom’s side of the family that I’m worried about. Mostly because her brain is fried by all the years of drugs and alchol (not even to mention, she still might be using). And her parents are sweet, but overbearing and, how can I say it nicely…weird. But my half-siblings on that side are pretty cool, I mostly jive with my brother, but if I were to just invite him, or just invite the two of them, then are feelings going to be hurt. But most importantly, I have an excellent connection on-line with my great-uncle. He and I seem to just be totally simpatico, and he lives in Canada and might be down in time for the birthday, but would the world go all cattywampus if I invited him, but not his brother (my grandpa)?

I want to be true to myself and just invite my biological half-siblings and my paternal great-uncle. But I’m afraid of the ramifications.

And this is why I wasn’t ready to be in reunion at 18. People used to ask me about when I wanted to meet my biological family, but I always put it off saying “well, I’m in college, and it’s already complicated enough.” Gee whiz, at 30 I still don’t have it figured out.

Cry it Out

When I was going through my worst bout of post-partum depression, I met with my midwife. She was kind enough to disclose that she, herself, had suffered from post-partum depression that had been made worse by her son’s terrible sleeping habits. She had pushed off the idea of sleep-training until he was 11 months old and then she had gotten into such a state of sleep deprivation, that she did 2 nights of ‘cry it out’ with her son, a total of 20 minutes each night and BOOM he was, overall, a good sleeper after that.

I thought it would never happen to me. Potamus is always held or rocked or comforted back to sleep by patting or bouncing on the exercise ball or nursing. But there has been quite a few nights lately, where he is “awake” in the middle of the night for 3-4 hours, refusing to be bounced, not interested in nursing for very long, but CLEARLY tired. While he motors around the house he rubs his eyes, whines, cries, and rubs his eyes some more.

Last night I had enough.

I have had one five hour stretch of sleep in the last 9 months, and that happened 3 days ago. The rest of the time has been spending my nights with 2-2.5 stretches at a time, because Potamus was reverse cycling. The last few days, he has been up every hour all night long. He is tired. I am tired. But I don’t want to stop bed-sharing just yet, and crying it out doesn’t seem all that conducive when the crying person is in bed with you (let alone, crying it out has triggered ideas  of abandoning babies in nurseries while they wait to be put up for adoption and are only left to be cared for by nurses).

But, at 3am this morning, I had had enough. He was clearly tired. Boof was tired, and has been pulling long hours sitting in the living room in the middle of the night so that I can try and sleep. And so, I let him lay there between us. And I patted his back. And he cried. And wailed. And cried. And I thought I was going to die, or punch the wall, or tear my hair out. Most others talk about crying-it-out in similar ways, but their babies are in cribs in other rooms and they can go to the farthest reach of the house and get away from it.

It was the longest 15 minutes. And then he was quiet, with eyes half-open, and then he rolled onto his side and snuggled up to me.

And four hours later he woke up, hungry.

I don’t know if I will keep doing it, but it seemed to work. We all got more sleep. I didn’t abandon my baby or my instincts of bed-sharing, and being right there to comfort him. And I am thankful for the midwife’s story, which somehow gave me permission last night, to be the best mom I could…and let my baby sleep.

 

But I admit, after he fell asleep, a few tears of my own were shed. I guess I had my own cry it out night…