March 2012

So this afternoon, Allie made a conscious decision to have a tantrum. And she willfully carried it out with a screaming crying fit for 45 minutes in protest to taking a nap. It wasn’t that she wasn’t tired; she just FELT like having the tantrum. She could be easily distracted from it and would stop crying immediately if something amusing or different caught her eye, and she’d be quick to smile at it, or babble, but then she’d remember, “Oh yeah, I’m having a fit,” and go right back to it, and add some good yells for dramatics. She had two solid naps beforehand, both about an hour and 45+ minutes, so it wasn’t a HUGE deal she protested her third and last nap of the day, but I was pissed at her, and she knew it. She had her fit whether I was carrying her, or she was in her crib left alone to settle. And continued when I went back up to make another attempt at soothing. Her dad came up to her room after the battle of wills raged on for 45 minutes and took her downstairs back to my parents and his social activities in the living room, and placed her in the swing. Of course the moment she got her way she stopped crying, altho she was clearly sleepy. I was annoyed enough to go take a nap in our bedroom, and eventually, after Allie stayed up to when she ought to be getting her next feeding, she consented to a nap in her crib that lasted for a measly half an hour.

And then suddenly I sat up with a jolt. Given the fight that lasted from 2:45 to 3:30p, I completely forgot that I had to take Dodo in to get his blood pressure rechecked at 3p. It was 5pm when I realized this, and ran downstairs to grab my cell and call the vet. They said if I can get him in within the next 15 minutes, they’d still take him. At this point, Allie woke up from that half-hour nap, of course. And since she was already late for her feeding, she needed to be fed immediately so that she’d be hungry enough to eat for her bedtime feeding. I again had to be at two places at the same time, tending to either my boy or my girl. Mr. W took Dodo to the vet; I changed and fed Allie. Mr. W returned quickly from the vet and said that Dodo’s blood pressure has gone from 220 a couple of weeks ago to 180, so the medication is working, but the blood pressure is still too high. The vet’s instructions are to give the same dosage twice a day instead of just the once. Good thing that liquid’s tuna flavored.

Allie knew I was annoyed at her. She kissed butt and smiled and tried to amuse everyone with her tongue tricks until we (my parents and the three of us) went to our local neighborhood Greek place for dinner. My parents were very happy and laughed and laughed at the slitherly snake tongue trick that Mr. W taught her the other day, at her tongue out and sputtery “pttthhhh” he’d taught her a few days ago, and at just the simple tongue out “nyah” my dad had taught her last week. The proud grandparents even took video. Then at the restaurant, as it got close to her natural bedtime, she got fussy and wouldn’t let us eat. Someone had to be holding her and walking her around for about a half hour until she got agreeable enough to sit in her carrier and hang out like a civilized baby.

My parents think she understands us, now. They said Allie was fine until someone said, “Let’s take her to bed now,” then she suddenly had a protesting fit again. I talk to her all day long, so I’m not surprised she understands a few words, and I feel like she’s suddenly very cognitive because you can see her doing things to make people laugh, watching our reactions and studying us carefully, and basically instead of adults teasing the baby, it’s often the baby teasing the adults. She enjoys the reactions she gets. And I’m suddenly able to “read” her intuitively. I guess it’s time to start spelling things we don’t want her to understand.

I need to stop being so paranoid. Either I’m still traumatized by Susanne, or, God forbid, I’m sensing something.

Each time I see I missed Nanny Laura’s call, I’d call voice mail to check her message, my heart pounding, praying she wouldn’t be telling me she’s not going to be able to nanny for us, after all. Of course, it’s never been that. And now she’s started using text messaging, which is great and convenient, but I have the same reaction. Like, yesterday…
*seeing a text message from Laura* *freaking out* *pushing the “read” button, terrified*
“How’s your little sweety? So exited to get to know her better.”
And then just now.
“Need you to know that –“
*freaking out already* *brain completing her sentence with stuff like “…I’m no longer able to be your nanny because…”
“– I have an appointment on Mon –“
*brain completing her sentence with stuff like “…for another job interview that I’m seriously considering…”
“– and won’t be available until about noon. Will you want me to come over then or wait until Tues?”
I wrote back, “Sure, noonish is fine. The more time allie spends with u while I’m there, the better, so she knows us ‘together.'”
“Absolutely. So looking forward to it.”
“Me too! Also looking forward to getting to know my new friend laura better.” A grownup to talk to on Monday! All afternoon! Yay! And someone can bottlefeed Allie for me while I pump! Double-yay! (The things I don’t take for granted anymore…)
“So sweet. :)”

I used to lull the baby to sleep in my arms, then set her in her crib once she’s been sleeping for a few minutes. She always wakes up at the transfer, but the key is to make sure she’s sleepy enough that she’d want to just go right back to sleep. Sometimes it takes a little assistance, such as positioning her left thumb right up to her mouth and she’ll suck herself to sleep in seconds. Mr. W was concerned that the baby is unable to get herself to sleep without my specific style of soothing, so I’ve been wanting to get her to the point of putting herself all the way to sleep on her own, which will take a little adjustment and training. I realized a week before she turned 4 months that she seemed to be much better at self-soothing, which allows me to let her cry a little at her arousals mid-nap, and watch her put herself back to sleep. This makes her naps longer if I don’t go in and have to pick her up after each arousal, cuz good luck getting her back to sleep then. So I figure now, a little over a week from my having to go back to work, is a good time to try to put her down when she’s “awake but drowsy,” to let her soothe herself the rest of the way to Mr. Sandman’s play yard.

I still do the same routine holding her, walking around in her room, swaying her gently, letting her get drowsy against me, sucking her left thumb. But after a limited time of soothing, whether she’s awake or lightly asleep, I put her into her crib. The last few times, she popped wide awake and looked around, pushing herself off the bed, but I left and watched her on the monitor. She would toss a bit, then soothe herself into her nap. This helps her when she’s awakened by noise, too, as she now gets more and more practice soothing herself back into sleep. Just now, she started to doze and at the transfer, woke up and had an actual protest cry. It lasted a few minutes, and I walked away, closing the door behind me, and washed the pump and bottle parts in our bedroom next door, listening to her crying. Before I was even done, it was quiet. Going downstairs and observing the monitor, I saw her peacefully asleep in her crib.

I hope this makes Nanny Laura’s job easier, because I don’t think other caretakers want to stand around swaying with the baby in their arms for up to half an hour or more sometimes in her room before putting her down in her crib for a nap a few times a day. Now they only have to sway until she gets drowsy enough, which shouldn’t be more than 10 minutes or so, often less. I’ve been scolded by Allie a couple of times when I’d taken too long to get her to her room for her nap, and as soon as we walk in, her complaining stops and she settles right into soothing position on me. I think she now expects to take her naps, which is wonderful.

My cousin Jennifer just had to let their nanny go last week. I was surprised, because this nanny took care of Jennifer’s sister’s baby, Elle, for years. I knew communication was difficult between my cousin and the nanny, since the nanny spoke very little English. Jennifer figured she’d just use Google Translate and write sentences in English and then show her the Spanish translation, and the nanny can do the same back from Spanish to English, but another blow when she found out the nanny’s illiterate in Spanish. So I asked Jennifer what happened. Turned out Jennifer noticed the nanny seemed to be gone, along with the baby, all day on Thursdays (thanks to nanny cams). Jennifer had told her it was okay to take the baby on a stroller walk in their big complex and common areas, but not to leave the gated community. You wouldn’t think that’s a problem since the nanny doesn’t drive anyway. But where do they go for hours? Jennifer asked the nanny early on, upon her return on such a Thursday, and the nanny just said they went to take a walk. But it kept happening, all day, on Thursdays. Jennifer finally took an afternoon off and went home around 3:30p last Thursday to see what was going on. The home was empty. She walked around the whole area looking for them. Nope. She waited at the community’s gate for HOURS. Finally, a white pick-up truck drove thru and she saw her nanny in there. Mind you, the nanny does not have a car seat for the baby. Jennifer confronted her and she said something about having lunch, going to a store, but the area they live have nothing like that within walking distance. But the bottom line is, the nanny lied about not leaving the community, lied about where she’s been every Thursday, and disregarded Jennifer’s original rule about not taking the baby out of the residential community. She claimed (through translation by an out-of-state daughter via phone) that she’d only taken the baby walking and that “Jose” saw them passing by and picked them up to give them a ride. Who was Jose? If the cops had stopped them for a baby not being in a carseat, then took the child into protective custody, how in the world would they begin to identify the baby? How would Jennifer know where to begin looking for her child when she came home if something happened? They thought about it and knew they couldn’t trust this nanny again; they just weren’t going to be comfortable with leaving the baby with her again.

I offered Jennifer my online nanny site access so she could look around. I knew there were nannies in her area; a lot of nannies who contacted me live in her city. She and her husband had gone around in a mad rush to find a daycare without a long wait list to put their baby in starting today, and I knew that was not something either of them actually want. “But I’m not sure if I can trust a nanny again,” Jennifer said. She told me about her boss, who was on their 3rd nanny for their kid. With the first nanny, the husband got a call from their cleaning people saying it was odd that a lot of their personal belongings are sitting inside their luxury car at home, and suggested he come home ASAP. By the time the husband got home, the nanny had stolen a bunch of their stuff AND the car and was across the country. I’m not sure what happened with the second nanny, but now they’re on their third.

I REALLY hope my nanny issues were just early on, and that we have a long loving relationship with Laura and her family ahead.

I didn’t want to write about this earlier for fear of jinxing things and/or having too many of the same posts about thinking I have a nanny, and then finding out I don’t…but now I think we have a nanny.

I’d signed up for a different nanny site that costs $35/month but was pretty much the same thing as the $99/month one. I even saw some of the same people looking for nanny jobs. For some reason this site attracted more older caretakers (40-60s) so altho yes, there are a lot of 18-20-somethings who emailed me with interest in the position, I also got more people who are moms with grown kids looking for another baby to care for. I browsed credentials and experience first, and found one I thought looked great. Cheryl was local, knew a lot about child development, charts the baby’s progress for the parents, etc. I emailed her (among a couple of others) but felt so strongly about her I sent my cell # as well. She called me within the hour. We had a great conversation, I loved her, and she agreed to meet us the next day (last Friday) for an interview at 5:30p. We agreed to touch base in the day to figure out where to meet. I left Cheryl a voice mail with a suggestion of a nearby spot the evening we talked, no response. Friday, I waited until past noon and called her at 1pm and left another voice mail. No response. I called her again closer to 4p. I couldn’t believe it; things seemed to be going so well and she seemed so responsive and responsible. She finally called back closer to 5 and said she was on her way home from another family she currently nannies for (?!), and apologized for not getting back to me, but all the family members were home and she didn’t want to make a personal call while they were all hanging out. She said she thought about what I said I’d agreed to pay Susanne, $600/week, she figured that she’d be making $8/hour working for us. It was longer hours and less pay than the family she’s working for part time now for $16/hour. I’m not sure how she got $8/hr, because that’s not what we calculated it comes out to. But anyway, we know we can’t afford to pay $16/hour. She offered her friend Jessi, who helps her as backup for when Cheryl’s nanny families needed someone and Cheryl wasn’t available. Jessi doesn’t do this regularly, but has enjoyed helping out every so often, and the families have all loved her. She is also an older housewife whose children are grown, as with Cheryl. Cheryl said Jessi can at least fill in while we continue the nanny search so that I could go back to work without worrying about childcare. That’d buy me another month or so. I thanked her gratefully, and Jessi did indeed call me later that evening to offer herself to help out on a temporary basis. It was incredibly kind of two strangers who appeared to love children and who felt for me given the situation and timing Susanne’s decision put me in.

That Friday evening, however, as I went back to browsing the new nanny site, Mr. W sat with the calculator next to me. It appeared anyone who was close wanted too much money, or they had no infant experience, or were 18 (17 on one) and just loved babysitting for their neighbors’ kids, or they were emailing me from 50 miles away, or they weren’t available on each of the days/hours we needed. Mr. W said maybe we just weren’t the type of family who could afford a nanny for our baby girl; we’d have to throw her in daycare. I started crying as I tried to reconcile with what that means for my little Allie. I know she’ll survive, but I so wanted her to be a little older before she was in a public environment like that, and I wanted her to be comfortable in her own home, in her own room and crib, as long as possible. In the middle of my tears, a nanny emailed me. It wasn’t an email full of information about herself (usually a form letter), but stated simply that she’d like to have a conversation, and asked me to read her profile to see if we may be a fit. She’s a 52-year-old mother of two daughters (one teen, one adult), used to run her own in-home daycare when her girls were toddlers, had experience in teaching in Children’s Ministry. She seemed really nice, and something felt good about her. I emailed back that her email had found me at a low point where I was literally in tears in prayer, and that I’d like to have a conversation as well. I added my cell # and said that I hoped to hear from her soon. I heard from her in about 15 minutes. We clicked on the phone, I was still in my crying thing so as I told her my situation and timing I’d need a nanny, I cried a little more. She was very sweet and sincere, and told me she was interested but had a job interview lined up for the following Monday. We talked for quite awhile, chatting about our families, parenting philosophies, situations. She said she felt like she wanted to say yes. She agreed to come over the next day to meet us. Another first: Mr. W and I had her come to the house instead of meeting at a public location.

Laura came over when Allie was still napping, and we chatted in the backyard over brewed iced oolong tea (Mr. W) and freshly made peanut butter cookies (also Mr. W). She checked out all the stuff at our house and was interested in many objects she saw, such as the traditional looseleaf teas and tea sets (all Mr. W). She handed us references, we talked a little about money and benefits. She’d like to have health insurance but knowing it was $400/month, said she’d take care of it herself if we gave her a dollar more an hour than we were offering (a difference of quite a bit a month). We also agreed to give her paid holidays and some paid vacation. After other negotiation details, Mr. W calculated and the total number annually came out to be…close to my entire net salary. I was crestfallen, but she immediately touched my arm and said, “Well, we want to make it worth your while to go back to work. Let’s go back to $11/hour and we’ll say you’ll give me a raise when you can.” We were grateful, and altho that’s a lot of money weekly to pay, know that a good nanny is well worth over $11/hour. I’d love to find out we’re handling the expense well and be able to give her an annual raise. Meanwhile, I offered what I could: have at all the tea you want to drink in the house; don’t worry about housework, just clean up behind Allie and yourself; if your girls want to visit you here, they’re welcome to. She seemed happy with all that.
When Allie woke up, Laura seemed to love her, and almost didn’t want to give her back when I needed to take her for a diaper change and feeding. I took that as a good sign. As we were hanging out, she was learning where things were in the house and asking questions about routines, expectations, etc. And then as she left, she said, “I saw all the chalk drawings on the street from the neighborhood kids. I can’t wait to do that kind of thing with her!” I’d never done chalk on a street in my life (cuz we’re Asian), and Laura was shocked. She’s talking about tea parties, and playing outside when the weather was nice and making play-dough. OMG. Can I come over and play, too? Forget work. “We’re going to have so much fun together!” she told Allie. I took all that as a good sign she’s onboard.
Given what I had recently gone thru in my nanny quest, tho, I was still nervous when Monday rolled around and I knew she was meeting up with nearby Saddleback Church for the interview she’d previously committed to for a directorship position overseeing their children’s programs. I saw on Monday morning I’d missed a call from her. Dialing into voice mail, I tried not to freak out. But she was only calling to ask if it was okay if she didn’t come over as planned on Monday after her Saddleback interview, since she discovered this morning that her daughters were both going to be home that day and she’d like to spend as much time with them as possible, knowing she’d be away from home more often soon and at our house (which she said was only 10 mins away without use of the freeway). I called her back and we had a nice chat, and she said she also wanted to put my mind at ease that altho she was going to this interview as promised, that her heart presently is with working with us, and not directing thousands of kids and doing administrative work for the church. She also offered her home to us, saying that she has great floorspace for Allie to play in (we don’t have that at our house; the downstairs travertine tile kills it, plus our rooms are tiny) and we can sometimes leave Allie with her for whatever reason. I suggested that the twice a month when we have the cleaning crew come in for a deep clean, we can take Allie back to her house for a couple of hours while she waits them out. She thought that was a great idea. She wants us to meet her girls and said her girls want to meet Allie as she’d been raving about Allie all weekend.
And then later, after the Saddleback interview, I saw I’d missed another call from Laura. I again dialed voice mail trying not to freak out. It was again a cheery-sounding message, asking if it’s all right if she brings the girls by to meet Allie and take her afternoon feeding off my hands so I can pump. I called her back saying she had a late nap, but if they’d like to come over after that, they can meet Mr. W when he comes back from work, too. She was excited. So yesterday at 5:15p, we met her two beautiful daughters, who were equally mesmerized by Allie as Laura proudly took a mom-role and toted Allie around. Allie smiled at her, at her girls, laughed when the 17-year-old bopped Allie’s forehead playfully with Sophie the giraffe. Stepdaughter even happened to pop home briefly and got to meet them. Turns out Stepdaughter and Laura’s older girl go to the same college. I really enjoyed meeting Laura’s two daughters, too. They’re funny, smart, polite, friendly. Apparently they’re very close with their mom and all of them, plus dog, go jogging together early mornings. Sundays are family time, and they all show up. They talk about whatever’s on their minds daily. I hope to have that kind of relationship with Allie.

I spent almost an hour yesterday emailing all the prospective nannies who’d emailed me on the site to say essentially, Thanks, but we’re trying out someone and I don’t want to leave you hanging, nor interview/try out others behind her back. Good luck with the search. Given the responses I’ve gotten back from a lot of these potential nannies, it seems that people don’t often give the courtesy of not leaving someone hanging when they inquire about a position.

I spoke to Laura again today, time-strained at the time of Allie’s nap, about setting her up on direct deposit and with an online payroll company who will calculate and withhold taxes, etc for us. She said she’d be fine if we did her trial period in cash so it’ll give us a little more time to set up all this stuff and to get an employer tax ID. That’s a relief for us, and she seemed so grateful that I’m trying to get all this stuff done so that she’s not put out. She seems to think I’m so considerate, whereas I’m just doing what I’d said I’d do so she doesn’t wonder or doubt me. It seems like a great start that we’re not taking each other for granted and keep being pleasantly surprised. I thanked her for her flexibility, she thanked me for my consideration. She said she thinks I’ve answered her prayers as much as I think she’d answered ours. Apparently, my email felt like a Godsent to her, too, at her own time of need, at her own point of discouragement.

We’re starting her trial period next week to give myself a full week to transition. We’ll go thru the daily routine, she’ll start taking over period by period, and I’ll have to start leaving the house longer and longer so it’s not just BAM, all day on Monday as I go back to work. Laura told me to expect some separation anxiety, but that she’ll be saying hi to us all day on the baby cameras. She has no problem with them. Maybe I can actually go to the gym sometime next week, and get a massage, and maybe hit the chiropractor…

It’s amazing the progress made every day. One day, she’s unimpressed by the toys, and the next day, she’ll grab them if you hold it up to her hands, and then the next day, she’s grabbing them herself and pulling them into her mouth (missing, of course). And then another day, and she’s aiming the toy and not her hands into her mouth and getting the part of the toy she wants in there. Today she’s grabbing at an overhead toy with both hands open, getting it, and bringing it to her. One day, she laughs and plays during bathtimes, and then the next bath, she’s screaming bloody murder the moment her toes touch water. Yup, that’s been the last two baths and last shower. The water’s not too hot; her skin’s not turning red or anything. She just suddenly decided she hates getting wet. One day, she hates tummy time, always have, and then suddenly, she’s propping herself up and fine with it.

Today, Mr. W observed that Allie’s been studying her hands. She became aware of them fairly recently when she started teething because she likes putting them in her mouth, but now she’s interested in how her fingers look and move. She’s also interested in her toes moving. When she’s sitting up, she’ll lean forward and watch her feet and toes fidget around. She’s a restless foot fidgeter, like her dad. She seems to only grab at her left foot with her left hand; she doesn’t seem as interested in her right foot. I wonder if she’s left-dominant.

I think when people say babies change and grow really fast, they’re talking about pretty much now. Each day there’s a difference. Things she didn’t notice before, she notices now and studies with interest. She didn’t want to go down for her nap and cried earlier because she was so busy with her activity center and toy gym, and wanted to continue playing, whereas Friday, she just napped and didn’t protest much. Well, it could also be conceivable I got the timing of this nap wrong. =P I’m gonna miss seeing all this fast-moving progress when I’m at work and away from her 11 hours a day.

Rebecca got a last-minute cancellation in her readings this weekend, and immediately contacted me at 12:15p to tell me if I want, her 1-2pm appointment slot is open. I had JUST put Allie down when Mr. W said I’d missed a call from Rebecca, and when I saw the texts, he said, “I’ll watch Allie, you go ahead.” It’s almost an hour drive and I knew I’d miss half the appointment time for such a long drive, but with his encouragement, I left immediately.
I got to Rebecca’s office at 1:30p for a half-hour reading. She had prepared a gift for Allie, a 3-pack of sleep-n-plays, cute shoes, and an adorable bohemian-looking summer top and matching ruffled bottom.
There was a very important message delivered at the reading which appears to be the entire reason the universe lined up to create this opening for me to see Rebecca. I’m grateful for that. I’m also grateful for something very much needed, aside from a hug from a great friend… at the end of the reading, I asked for Rebecca to give me a picture of the future with Allie, something I can hold on to when I’m feeling bad.
She told me Allie has a great sense of humor. She develops this very young, and at age 7 or 8, when certain jokes are supposed to go over a kid’s head, Allie will get them and find them funny. She says kids are unintentionally funny and don’t realize they’re doing something that would make an adult laugh until the adult laughs. Allie will be more like, “Psst, mom, watch this,” and say something to another adult; the other adult will bust out laughing and Allie would give me a secret knowing look. At age 8. She also said Allie will be stubborn (well, she IS my kid). “Not to her detriment, I hope,” I said. She said no, but that I may just have to treat her a little more like an adult and give her options to make her feel in control of her life. Instead of “No, cuz I say so,” I may have to say, “Well, if you do this, then you can do that later on. If you don’t do this now, then when that comes up, you’re not going to be able to do it. What would you like to do?” Then I’d set the boundaries for her decisions, but she understands the logic behind the decisions, the consequences, and can choose what’s best for her. She said Allie is a WONDERFUL person, kind of an old soul, and wants to help people. She is likely to grow up and be a doctor. (I guess I’ll be saving up for med school!) I asked if this is something Allie’s soul has decided before coming here, and she said yes. I wondered what my soul wanted to do in this incarnation. She said I wanted to “know.” I wanted to “understand.” I’d known of the concept of compassion, but wanted to truly “experience” it to understand it. Well, that certainly would explain a lot of what I do and what I’ve been through, why emotional things are so tough on me, but why I want to help and be empathetic to others when they’re in need or emotional pain. My friends can vouch that I do a lot of social counseling for them. The empathic thing helps in that. Rebecca said that growing up, Allie will bring me and Mr. W a lot of laughter and a lot of joy, although I may have to let her make decisions do things that she needs/wants to do at times.

I will cherish this and hang on to it when times are tough. Having an early picture of my labor through Rebecca gave me peace and strength through my entire pregnancy and labor, and both were uncomplicated and smooth. Now when I’m afraid when Allie’s in pain or sick, having crying fits, rejecting bottles or milk or breasts or whatever phase she’s going through, I can think of the larger specific picture of Allie at 8, knowing she’ll survive the early childhood things…Allie as a young doctor, knowing she’s doing what she wants and she’s happy and safe. Knowing 2012 won’t kill us all like my uncle thinks it will if we don’t immediately sell our California properties and move more inland. =/

Thank you, Universe and God, for giving me what I need, once again.

Allie and I just got back from the pediatrician. Her doctor was over an hour behind, but she was patient. Good thing I packed a bottle of milk that I’d pumped out at 5:30a this morning. She had that in the waiting room. Here are her stats:
* Weight: 15 lbs 2 oz, but we should be subtracting the 4.5 oz of milk I gave her 5 minutes before they called us in and weighed her. 83%-tile
* Height: 26.5 inches. 99%-tile
* Head circumference: 41 cm. 53%-tile.
The doctor was very impressed with her growth and her two new teeth. He also answered a ton of questions I had. She developed a blister on the tip of her left thumb from sucking. He said just let it pop on its own, nothing to be done. I asked about traveling with her. He said babies tend to have a harder time sleeping in strange environments, but that it also balances out somewhat by the fact that they’re more tired because during the day, they’re going to be overstimulated and off their routines anyway. And when we come home, she’ll take a few days to adjust back to her own routine, but traveling should be safe to do with her at this point. I asked about noise training. He said that her sensitivity to noise right now is a phase, and she’ll start to outgrow it as she gets older, and will adjust to the sounds she hears. He said not only is it recommended against to sort of force sound upon them to noise-train them, but that it likely won’t work. It’s just a young-baby thing. As far as going up to a week between poopies? Since she’s breastfed exclusively, he said, no problem. Totally normal. As she gets older, she’ll be going longer and longer between poopies. (Until solids, presumably.) Do I need to worry about the fact that she’s dropped a feeding on her own and has 5 a day? Nope, she’ll get the quantity out on her own distributed between the 5 feedings. She’s teething, any tips on breastfeeding? He said if she starts biting, unlatch her right away. She will soon get the association that when she bites, she’ll be unlatched. Wake up the baby for a nursing super-early before I go to work? He said it’s solely my preference. There’s no bonding threat at this point, she’s already bonded and won’t forget how to nurse. If I want to have the time with her and wake her up, after a few days of early awakenings, she’ll get used to it. If I want to let her sleep in and be fed her morning bottle by the nanny, no biggie. Just mom’s preference.

Hygiene things I didn’t know: I’m supposed to be bathing her 3 times a week, which is every other day. We’ve been following the old instructions of once a week still. He said no harm done, once a week, 3x/wk, daily, it’s all fine as long as we moisturize if she has dry skin. I’m also supposed to be cleaning her gums twice a day with a wet washcloth. Eh? He said it’s just to get the baby used to mouth cleanings so that when we introduce brushing to her later, she won’t be so resistent.

And then she had her second series of vaccinations after the doctor left. She was laying on the table holding my hands and playing with me, and then suddenly when the prick went in, her eyes grew wide as she looked at me in disbelief. “How could you let this happen to me?!” she seemed to say in her betrayed wail. Two more pricks later and she’s PISSED. I let her scream and cry as I dressed her and put her in her stroller/carrier, altho she was happy and well-behaved the moment we walked out of the room. She immediately yelled and wailed when she got into the car. “What a friendly baby! She’s so CUTE!” said the medical staff as Allie smiled hugely at them. Sure, sure, until you see what happens behind the scenes and know it’s just a public act. 🙂 I figured the wailing is a good thing; she was totally late for her nap so this will tire her out sufficiently. She was so knocked out that when I got her from the car after I got home, she stayed asleep. I spent a few moments looking at her sleeping in her carrier, undecided what to do. I finally took her out and she woke up startled, and kept trying to fall back asleep as I unbuckled her and carried her to her room. She welcomed the crib and instantly went into her second nap of the day. Whew.

I keep checking my email hopeful that something will turn up, as if I expect an email to say, “Hey, ___ sent me to contact you, I heard you’re looking for a nanny, and I’m available with everything you want, right away.” As if I expect the perfect nanny for us to just drop in on my lap. As if, after I wrote “the list” of what I want in a nanny last night, she would materialize this morning a la Mary Poppins. Or maybe that Susanne would respond to my email and say, “I couldn’t sleep all night, I feel I’ve made a very grave mistake. Can you forgive me and allow me to work for you?” Or, “I’m sorry about the last email; the family’s kid didn’t want me to go so he wrote that email himself, and I didn’t realize it until just now. It’s not from me, and I will be there as we’d agreed in April.”

I have my next therapy appointment at 12:30p today. My mom (and dad?) are coming to watch Allie so that I can do that. I went in to her this morning, and she looked up at me from her crib with a huge smile, one little tooth and one little ridge next to it on her lower center gums, welcoming me as I told her, “Good MORNING, sweetheart!” My heart broke for her. What was going to happen to her? Who will she be with in the day? I used to picture her with Susanne, and now, no picture. So much to tell my therapist since we’d last talked a month ago. Baby teething, baby progressing, nanny found, nanny lost, cat diagnosed, cat medicated. And embryos donated.

My mom emailed me an ad from Craigslist that looked promising, a nanny making herself seem very experienced, has raised 2 kids, seems to live locally. The ad was grammatically well-written. I called the number and her husband picked up, sounded American, said she was unavailable to come to the phone right now but would call me back in 5 minutes. He asked where I live, said they were pretty close and that she used to work around the corner from us (in the ad, she says she lost her last job because the family she worked for had another baby, so the mom became a stay-at-home mom and didn’t need her anymore). I thought, Great! I can communicate well with this one. When she called back, I could barely understand her. Her accent was thick, grammar was off, and I instantly knew she didn’t write the ad. Likely her husband did. She got some preliminary information about hours needed, baby’s age, time frame I’d need her in, and then asked if she could call me back this evening at 6:30p as she was going with her husband to Los Angeles right now. She said she’s interested, but didn’t disclose how much she was asking to be paid, my question to her. I guess she’s going to discuss this with her husband. I’m thinking I’m going back to the drawing board again. Maybe pay another $100 to rejoin the website.

The fertility doctor we’d worked with had his staff call me when Allie was a couple of months old to check on me, and to ask us to bring her over so he could meet her. Today at lunch was the meeting we’d arranged. Having received the blow from Nanny Susanne this morning, I could use some getting-out anyway. Mr. W had agreed to come out during lunchtime and meet us at the clinic. After I told him about Susanne, he took the rest of the afternoon off to stay with us. What a great guy I have.

Allie was smiling at everyone like she knew them, as if she in spirit form had been there and remembers them. “This is where you started,” Mr. W told Allie.

Dr. R was all smiles when he saw her. “She’s beautiful!” He asked how I’m doing, and I told him about my postpartum depression. He said not to worry, it’ll start to fix itself once my hormones regulate as the baby starts to breastfeed less. He assumed we’re all exhausted from being up every few hours and that contributes, too. I told him Allie typically sleeps through the night. He asked if I’m pumping, and I told him she typically goes to bed around 7:30p and wakes around 7a, and I get up around 5a to pump because I’m so uncomfortable. He said because I’m getting 8-10 hours of no milk expression overnight, that my body would recover its hormones faster, and expects I’d feel better within a matter of weeks instead of months. Reading my mind, he added this doesn’t “dry up” my milk supply; that doesn’t happen until I stop feeding her breastmilk. “But sleeping through the night helps you feel a lot better, right?” I told him about how Dodo was diagnosed with Stage 2 kidney disease and has been yowling every few hours through the night (yeah, he started doing the overnight thing again; less loudly, but every 2-3 hours. I received his meds a couple of days ago and have administered them twice a day since).
Dr. R said in passing that we still have 3 more embryos for future beautiful children.
Mr. W said we were also here to discuss that, and to stop storage for them. Dr. R said we don’t have to decide that now, that can come way later. Mr. W said we already know we’re done having kids, and I made a crack that he’s taking advantage of my postpartum depression state. Mr. W laughed, put his arm around me, and said yeah, he wants me to sign the papers to let them go before I change my mind. Dr. R laughed and suggested we wait awhile.

When he realized we were serious, however, he invited us into his office to talk in private. He suggested that most people wait until the baby is about a year old, when we know his/her personality better, and the groggy period of new parent-dom has passed to decide whether we want more kids. When we release the embryos, we can decide whether to have the clinic dispose of them, or we can donate the embryos to medical studies, or we can donate them to a couple for implantation. I said we always agreed that we would only have one, and Mr. W added that he’s too old to consider more kids. I asked about the ethics of donating the embryos, how they go to the recipients, etc. He explained that the clinic is not in the business of giving out embryos; in fact, if someone calls and asks if they have embryos for implant, the answer is no. However, on occasion, there is the couple who has multiple failed IVF attempts with the clinic, have run thru the gamut of options, and are now sitting before him thinking they could never have children. He would know this couple pretty well by then, and would know if they could care for a baby. And then he could tell them that there is another option they have never discussed. The clinic makes no money off the donation; they charge the same for implanting my own embryos as they would implanting the embryo into anyone else. A couple he’d recently done this for went through SIX failed IVF cycles, failed donor sperm inseminations, and were out of money and crestfallen. He finally offered a precious embryo donated by another past patient and they finally had their baby.

I wanted to do this, but I wanted a little more reassurance. I said, “A mixed-race embryo would be hard to find for a mixed-race couple, right?” He said he would LOVE to have my embryos, altho he thinks this shouldn’t be a decision to be made on a whim on our parts. But yes, the embryos would be better than gold; they would be the best gift imaginable for the recipient couple. However, he told me to consider that I may wonder with every kid I see who looks kind of like Allie. He has a pair of patients whose IVF kids are in college, and they’re still paying for embryo storage instead of donating as they’re on the fence. The father said he just knows that he’d be at the airport and see a curly-haired kid and wonder, “Is that my son? Is that my daughter?” and that it would drive him insane.
I can totally see that, and it would probably make me always wonder, too… but the thought of how MUCH a couple would want the kid, how precious a gift that would be, and especially for an infertile mixed-race couple to have an opportunity to birth and parent a baby who’s mixed just like they are…that far outweighs my curiosities and discomforts, right? That couple would love our little girl or boy so incredibly much, and they would be so ready for parenthood; much more ready than someone who got drunk at a party and met someone else who looked hot through beer goggles.
Mr. W reminded me of my beliefs that the soul which comes through is meant to be with the parents that raise him/her, regardless of the body or vehicle that the soul uses to come through. I’m only providing a means, not a soul.

We spent longer than we’d expected at the clinic, filling out background questionnaires and family histories, signing over the embryos and relinquishing our rights to the children they may grow into. We each gave 8 large vials of blood for them to run tests. When the test results come back, if everything is clear, the doctor will sign off on the forms and the future of these embryos will be in his hands.

All the embryo-related transfers and implantations will be anonymous. We know it’s likely to be a local couple, since the recipients will be patients of the doctor first. So what Dr. R does, if we want, is provide a date of birth for us. That confused me. We won’t even know a gender, what’s the DOB for? “Let’s say she comes home one day with a new boyfriend a few years younger, and you think, ‘Hmm, he looks familiar.’ You can then ask, ‘Hey, when’s your birthday?’ If it’s a match, then you call his mom and say, ‘Uh, have you had prior associations with [fertility clinic name]?’ She’ll likely freak out, but then you’ll know.” Ah.

So today, I’ve done things I never would’ve expected to a few years ago. I cried because the perfect nanny that felt like my one light at the end of the tunnel disappeared on me. I medicated my cat for high blood pressure caused by terminal kidney disease. And we visited the doctor that made it all possible, where Allie as a concept started, and I took a deep breath & signed over my 3 remaining embryos to them so that if a hopeful-eyed mixed couple finds themselves out of IVF options after many failed attempts, my doctor can offer them the best gift I am able to give total strangers.

I need a good cry later.

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