Friday, April 30, 2010

Pick Up Six

Dylan is half a year old!

We celebrated his demi-birthday, mostly by exclaiming how quickly time has passed. He truly is no longer a newborn baby, and every day he looks and acts more like a little boy.

Earlier this week we had the wonderful opportunity to meet the brand new daughter of M's best buddy. She weighs almost a pound-and-a-half more than Dylan did when he was just born, and yet she looks (and feels!) so tiny. We really couldn't remember our son ever being so small. It made me very nostalgic!

Of course, we took him in for his six month check up and the doctor once again declared him a healthy kid. The little guy was so cute for his exam; he had to wear this tiny little smock and kept chewing on the ties and squiggling all around the table. He was smiley and sweet and howled for only about 20 seconds after receiving his three inoculations before his mom could get his bottle in his mouth and calm him right down.

The stats? At that point, he weighed just over 14 pounds and measured 26.5 inches. He's still really small for his age, but as the doc says, its hard to know whether he will always be small-statured or whether he's still behind based on his early arrival. However, he is "tracking" - following the growth curves consistently - so there is no cause for concern. It is especially reassuring that he seems to be hitting his developmental milestones at a predictable and typical pace.

The pediatrician would like us to return for an exam when Dylan's nine months old, rather than waiting until he's 12 months, which is usual. He just wants to make sure he's continuing to grow apace. (He also said that Kaiser's protocol is to see a baby five times by his or her first birthday, and since he didn't see Dylan until he was two weeks old, we're covered for another visit.)

Dylan is getting ready to MOVE! He's definitely realized he can get from one place to another under his own power, but he's usually more frustrated than satisfied about what he can accomplish. As of this week, he's a scooter, mostly going backward. He's got the yoga pose "cobra" down, stretching his arms and arching his back while he's on his belly. More often than not, when we're holding him while seated, he'll beg to be propped up, and then he'll push off our chest so that he's standing, just holding on to our shoulders. One thing that impresses me is his persistence. He'll keep working to get where he wants to go, or pick up what he's interested in for quite awhile. And then the proud and delighted "look-at-what-I-did!" toothless grin that lights up his face is too cute!

He's making better use of his hands, now able to bring them together and coordinate their motion. And he's discovered how to use "tools," grabbing his bottle and able to move his pacifier ("Binky") in and out of his mouth, bang his wooden keys in the same spot...over, and over, and over, etc. Apparently, he is exploring how the world feels and loves squishing or crinkling things. He'll grab a piece of paper and play with it for quite awhile, or move a soft blanket and rub it against his face. And he's scratching, moving his talons across our skin! Truly, it feels like more than just a grab with nails that need a manicure. I think he's trying to draw blood...and he has!

Our son knows how to get our attention. He's apparently learned that we attend to him when he cries, and the louder he screeches, the more quickly we'll respond. I don't feel manipulated; I think he's learning to communicate. But I do think that his screams are often exaggerated in order to get what he wants - usually some snuggling - sooner rather than later.

He is not yet experiencing the "stranger anxiety" that is common of kids about his age, but he's become more clingy, and more than ever before, he's showing that he likes being held by mom or dad. He goes from laughing to whining and back in seconds.

Bath time is fun! Because all three of us enjoy this time together, we usually clean our boy as a family project. Dylan seems to like being in the water more and more, and doesn't complain at all when he accidentally - or not so accidentally - gets his face doused. At this point we're using a plastic tub over the kitchen sink (though soon we'll move to the bathroom, I think). Usually when Dylan first goes in, he'll sit there with his arms draped over the edge, looking like a cool dude hanging out in the Jacuzzi.

Then its off to bed. I'm delighted to report that he slept almost 12 hours straight for the last two nights! But it's too soon to call it a trend. For the last few weeks, we've been a bit frustrated that he's woken up fussing two or three times. Fortunately, he's just required a quick Binky re-insert rather than a feeding. Still, it gets us up and out of bed, so we're grateful that he may be - keep your fingers crossed! - growing out of that phase.

Perhaps our biggest news is that we're feeding him "food." The doc gave us the go-ahead and we've tried a few things with mixed success since then. Dylan seems to like to sit in his booster chair, and definitely likes grabbing the spoon, the bowl, the bottle, and whatever else might be in the vicinity.

But the new grub? Not so much. His typically pattern seems to be to cry heartily the first time he's offered something, to whimper the second, to accept it the third, and to relish it by the fourth or so time. So, he's digging his rice cereal and bananas now, and can tolerate carrots, but doesn't like sweet potatoes so much and absolutely detests avocados.

We're trying to following the medical recommendation to wait several days to introduce each new food to ensure no allergic reaction, but its a challenge. My sense is that Dylan still prefers his formula. He thinks its the quickest, easiest, best way to fill his hungry tummy. And at this point, I must confess I agree with him!

Dylan's hair appears to have surpassed his eyelashes as the topic of public comment. Our kid definitely gets noticed when we're out and about, and most often now, people talk about his soft dark hair. He was born with a lot, but much of it rubbed off after several months. Now he's got real locks growing in. He still has some funny fuzz on the sides of his head, but its less goofy because there is more around it. Plus, there is a lovely patch of waves right on top. As someone who's always bemoaned her straight hair, I marvel at those curls. They are adorable!

Perhaps it is all that hair that makes Dylan look so grown up to me. I've also learned that M and I have different philosophies about how to dress our son. Dylan's dad prefers to dress his boy in real pants and shirts, like a big boy, while I argue that there will only be a few months in his life when he can really wear baby clothes like cute little onesies with feet that look like frogs.

Dylan is our special boy, and he is a wonder. Sure, it can be exhausting, attempting to anticipate and tend to his every need. However, every day we tell him and each other how much we love him. Our lives have changed so much in the last half-year. It is overwhelming to think what our lives may be like in six months, when he's a full year old!
Most mornings, after we hear his first stirrings over the monitor, one of us will go scoop Dylan out of his crib and bring him into our bed. Then we'll spend some lovely, tender minutes snuggling and snoozing together before the alarm blares or our daytime duties call too loudly to be further ignored. He continues to be his most rosy in the morning, smiley and babbling sweetly, or sucking quietly on his Binky, often while holding a parent's hand or an edge of the duvet. Sometimes I stop and force myself to take mental images. I so want to remember these sites, and sounds, and smells. I know I will always treasure such simple, fleeting moments.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Dam Overflow

After more than six months of pressure building up like water behind a dam, on Saturday night I burst into a river of uncharacteristic tears. Out poured a tumult of joy, relief, and grief. I had been weakened by a not-very-good-in-my-opinion movie and triggered by the sweet fragrance of my snoozing son.

I explained to M., who woke up to my snuffling in bed, that bubbling up was an odd mix of emotion. Looking at Dylan asleep in his crib, his long lashes fluttering with each exhale, his pudgy hand wrapped around his binky, I felt such a sense of relief. Maybe...probably...almost definitely, I will have the privilege of being his mommy for the rest of my life. It feels foreign to accept that this long-held and hard-won dream really has come true. What a relief!

And I was overwhelmed with happiness. I felt (and feel) so, so fortunate. He is such a beautiful little person; happy, and healthy, and full of smiles. I feel lucky not just to at last be a mom, but that HE is my son.

Mixed with those emotions, however, was some self-pity. Now that I love Dylan so much, it makes me sad that I didn't know him from the very beginning. I am sad that his gestation was more a time of concern and worry than a time of joy. I wish I could have grown him and nurtured him for nine months myself. I know this is kind of weird. After all, if I'd been able to conceive and carry this child, he would not be the Dylan we adore so much now. But the other night, I just felt sad that it was someone else who got to experience those special, earliest connections.

What made me weep hardest, though, was thinking about V., his birth mother. How difficult it must have been to give up* this precious boy. Sure, she didn't know what a special kid he would be. But he was her kid, and I know now how special that alone must make him to her. And sure, she had good reasons for placing him. Never-the-less, as my connection with my son strengthens beyond anything I could have anticipated, I can better recognize what an incredibly difficult and selfless decision she made.

Now I know that in some way, V. took a bullet for me. I've said before that there was an empty spot in my heart that only a child could fill. This child has made my love flow over. V. knew, though, that while I would be healed when she placed Dylan with us, her heart now will always have a hole that can never fully scar over.

The dam has burst and the pressure has been released. I understand more fully, though, that my open adoption will always be a deep reservoir of mixed emotions.

* Stay tuned for a post someday about how my views on the term "given up for adoption" have changed...

Bloggers' Dilemma

Well, blogging isn't going exactly as I anticipated. Before I began this endeavor, I thought some about what being a "good" blogger would mean, and I based my judgements mostly on the blogs I enjoyed most. I remember telling M. how important it is to post frequently and regularly, and that I hoped to post about twice a week. Hah!

I know I am not the first writer to observe that there is - at least for me - an inverse relationship between how much there is to write about and the opportunity to do it. Life is busy these days! And I'd like to have time to pause and reflect a bit, let alone craving out a quiet space and actually articulating my thoughts and experiences so that they are publicly digestible.

This weekend I announced to my sweetie that a high priority among all the things to accomplish is posting something pronto. It's been way too long. So he's at home now with our (hopefully) napping boy while I'm catching a few minutes at the local coffee shop, struggling to spew it all out, lickity-split.

In addition to finding time and mental energy, part of my challenging with blogging is that I sense this one is veering toward becoming "just another mommy blog." Not that there's anything wrong with that. (There are a number of mommy blogs I love!) In fact, I think family like the pictures and the developmental notes all about Dylan most. But that's not what I intended. I wanted this to be a place where, in addition to providing updates to loved ones, I could focus on adoption - open adoption in particular. I also hoped it might serve as a catharsis, a place where I could journal about deeper things I don't often get to discuss in my "real" life.

I'll list the topics rattling around in my noggin to both catalog them for future reference and see if there are any reader preferences for where I might start. (Readers?? Are there still any out there??) Some of the things I hope to be able to blog about in the not-too-distant future are:

- Dylan's six month check-up and "monthly" update
- Our lil' traveler: D's first flight and meeting his cousins
- The Russian adoption scandal
- Our steady march toward finalization
- My own take on the work/parenting (im)balance
- Hearing from V. - Yippy!
- On to solid foods: vegetarian parenting in action
- Open Adoption Roundtable

See?! The topics are all over the place. Building a big audience isn't my goal. Never-the-less, a "good" blogger would be much more focused.

Anyway, I've got a post forming in my head now that's pushing to get out first. So I'll go attend to that and stop whining about why I don't post more, and all I could but haven't yet written about. I'll just do it.