Tuesday, November 24, 2009

On spanking...

I've never really been for or against spanking. It's seemed to me that if used, it ought to be a last-ditch effort, not a first response. And we're striving to raise Acorn in a way that builds mutual respect...and spanking seems, to me, to have little space for respect. We wouldn't strike an adult under similar circumstances - that would be assault. As adults, we're expected to use our words and talk about why we're unhappy with the other person's actions; modeling this for children (within limits) is the best way for them to learn as well.

I ran across a very moving quote today, and I felt like I needed to share it with you - Astrid Lindgren, who wrote Pippi Longstocking, received a peace prize for her work, and said in her acceptance speech:

When I was about 20 years old, I met an old pastor's wife who told me that when she was young and had her first child, she didn't believe in striking children, although spanking kids with a switch pulled from a tree was standard punishment at the time. But one day when her son was four or five, he did something that she felt warranted a spanking - the first of his life. And she told him that he would have to go outside and find a switch for her to hit him with. The boy was gone a long time. Eventually he came back crying and said: "Mama, I couldn't find a switch, but here's a rock that you can throw at me."

All of a sudden the mother understood how the situation felt from the child's point of view: that if my mother wants to hurt me, then it makes no difference what she does it with; she might as well do it with a stone. And the mother took the boy onto her lap and they both cried. Then she laid the rock on a shelf in the kitchen to remind herself forever: never violence.

And that is something I think everyone should keep in mind. Because violence begins in the nursery - one can raise children into violence.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


Holidays with the in-laws have been stressful for a while, and Acorn just complicates that.

They never want to plan until the last minute, and then they want to tell us what to bring, rather than letting us make suggestions based on what's available. It's always expected that we will come to them. And no matter what they say they want us to bring, someone is unhappy. If one wants pumpkin pie (or pecan, or cherry, or apple, or peach or chocolate, or butterscotch), someone else doesn't eat it - and there's never any appreciation for homemade food.

I should point out that other than holidays, most of the time we get together with them, we eat out. Lately, we're not eating out much at all; eating in is better for us and less expensive, and the concept of cooking is a bit of a stretch for them most of the time.

I love to cook. I would happily cook the entire dinner for them, no strings attached, but that's not how they operate.

Last year took the cake, as far as insanity goes. They called the Monday before Turkey Day, and wanted us to bring rolls and dessert. 

Keep in mind, Acorn had been in the hospital for 5.5 months, and had just gotten his trach 2 weeks before. Big Oak still wasn't getting around on his broken leg all that well, and still wasn't allowed to drive. We were generally failing at keeping things together - we ate out because there were no groceries; there was only clean laundry because Big Oak's broken leg had prompted  me to give in and hire a housekeeper, but she'd only been working for us about 3 or 4 weeks. We were never home.

I suggested that we could bring stuffing instead - I knew we had everything on hand for that. But apparently that just wouldn't do, grandma wanted to make *her* stuffing....which it turns out is a box of turkey flavored store brand stuffing, mixed with a box of chicken flavored store brand stuffing.

And then....they wanted us to come out to their place, a little over an hour away, around noon, eat, hang out, and eat again.

Without Acorn.

Without even seeing him.

Because, you know, it's entirely normal to leave family members alone in hospitals on holidays, without even planning to visit them. Just because they're too small to remember doesn't really have a bearing on the situation.


At least this year, dessert isn't on the list of things we're supposed to bring. Last Easter, they were awed by my fresh, still warm from the machine, home made bread. Just that, salad, and the baby is all they want us to bring.

It usually means bringing my A-game as far as grounding and shielding are concerned too, but we won't mention that to them :)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Blog reconstruction

Please excuse the dust - new templates are apparently a pain to install :)

Monday, November 16, 2009

13 is Acorn's Lucky Number

Most poeple will tell you that a Friday the 13th is an unlucky day - ladders fall on your head, mirrors break and the shards jump out and try to slash your throat, black cats trip you in the dark, and then Jason and Michael Meyers come and kill you in your sleep.

Looking back though, 13 was Acorn's lucky number, and Friday the 13th was the day we both cheated death.

When I was 21 weeks pregnant, I started developing blood pressure issues in an otherwise normal, if a bit over-dosed-with-morning-sickness pregnancy. At 26 weeks, a trip to triage to adjust my meds became an inpatient admit "for the duration"....which I was told was likely to be 2 weeks or less. We were in Labor & Delivery room 13, in a hospital on 13 Mile Road.

Sure enough, at exactly 27 weeks I developed pre-eclampsia, and we induced labor. About 8 hours later, I started to develop HELLP syndrome, and we left labor and delivery room 13 for the OR. At 6:14 am (we belive the time was 6:13, since all the clocks in the building showed a different time), Acorn was born by emergency c-section. It took a couple minutes to get him breathing, but he left the OR with a decent APGAR score (7), and breathing on his own with a CPAP machine. He weighed less than a pound and a half, and was just over 12" long.

Acorn was intubated a couple of hours later, on ventilator 13.

I spent several more days in labor & delivery - not *quite* sick enough for the ICU (though we did have to argue about them not wanting to put me in a wheel chair and wheel me up to the NICU "in case something bad happens"), but definitely too sick for the mother-baby floor and discharge.  It was touch and go there for a bit though, because my blood pressure was really stubborn, and I was still developing more pre-eclampsia and HELLP symptoms in the days following Acorn's birth.

My total hospital stay was 13 days, and the day I went home was the day I got to hold him for the first time.

When Acorn was 39 days old (3 x 13), he got rid of his IV "for good"  - he eventually got one again for surgery, but that was the end of the phase where he was too small for his digestive system to work.

And now?

17 months old this past Friday the 13th, and he'd had his trach a whole year. Crawling, trying to walk, babbling, mostly fed by mouth, and all around too damn cute for words:

So yeah....we cheated death on that Friday the 13th. Both of us survived things that should have killed us - 10 years ago, he might not have survived at all, and if he had, we likely wouldn't have such a normal toddler as an outcome. Our perinatologist told me that 20 years ago, it's likely that neither of us would have survived, given the severity of the situation.

A lot of the things that helped Acorn in those early days, like surfactant for his lungs, and super high tech isolettes, are a product of research done by the March of Dimes. November is Prematurity Awareness Month, and this post is part of the Bloggers Unite "Fight for Preemies" event.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

children are people too - and so am I

There are a lot of directions this post could go. I'm still not sure this is the right one.

One of the primary values that I hold when it comes to Acorn is that he is a person, with all the rights that come with that status. He's not an inert lump of goo to be ignored, not a posession to be mistreated and thrown away, and not an animal to be forced into obeying the will of someone bigger than him just because they're bigger. For a more detailed take on this concept, go read RMB

One reason this is so near and dear to my heart: there have been (and continue to be) a long string of people in my life who present themselves in a way that says, "do these things to make me happy. Make me happy and I'll consider you worth respecting/loving/listening to."  The problem with people like this is that there really is no way to make them happy - their requests become demands, and their demands become ever more grandiose and crazy, and it's still not enough - it's never enough. It's never enough because I cannot make them happy - only they can do that, and they choose to blame their lack of happiness on the rest of us instead of getting on with their lives.

The way that "failure" is usually rewarded is with hostility towards the personhood of the person on the receiving end. Any attempt to stand firm and insist that you have rights - the right to have needs and wants, the right to have feelings, the right to hold an opinion on how something ought to be handled - is met with derision, because obviously you've already failed to prove that you're worthy of respect. But the thing is...I get to have those things because I am a person, and I exist. Not because someone else gives me those rights.

And yes, I want to protect Acorn from those sorts of people...nothing wrong with standing up for him, especially since he's not big enough to stand up for himself. But it's easier to just make sure he isn't in those sorts of situations to begin with.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

How many diapers?

This is part of the MckLinky Blog Hop on this subject, hosted by The Cloth Diaper Report, who asks:

What is your opinion of an ideal stash? What is your dream stash and what is your reality?

Officially, I thought we had our dream stash until last month, when plans for a trip to Florida meant deciding if we were buying 'sposies for the 4 days (and given Acorn's habit of diaper rash while in sposies in the hospital, we weren't sure that was a good plan), or carrying 4 days of dirty dipes, or washing by hand...so I added 3 dozen flats this past week.

Our reality: way more diapers than I ever expected to have, but also a way different situation than I expected.

Out of rotation:
a dozen or so small AIOs and pockets
2 dozen infant prefolds
2 dozen more infant prefolds, and 3 preemie prefolds, which are in use as burp cloths
2 or 3 small fitteds
a half dozen small and extra small covers.
we thought Acorn was going to daycare, so AIOs were the thing. He's not able to do that, and outgrew all of these before he came home from the NICU.
There's also a handful of medium covers out of rotation. Most of these were used, but a small fraction were bought new with baby shower money when we thought Acorn was coming home.
Current rotation:
6 5 covers (one bit the dust this week). Out of that, one is heading that way, and 2 more are going to be outgrown in the next few weeks. Almost all of these were new.
3 dozen flats, as noted above. All bought second hand, though 2 dozen were still new in package.
26 premium prefolds (some dyed, some bleached). All bought used.
18 Imse Vimse contours - 3 new, the rest bought well used. Many of the used have holes, and ought to be patched. These are a "one size" diaper, and they're still a bit big on Acorn.
10 8 WonderWorks pockets - bought used, not our favorites. 2 of them have serious leak issues and are out of rotation.
1 AI2 - It's cute, green, and embroidered, but I can't remember the name off hand.  I won this one.
1 Smartypants pocket - I love this diaper, and the snaps - I won this as well.
16 BG3 - a white one that I won, the rest were bought barely used, in yellow, orange, and 2 shades of green.
Addtionally, we've got several snappis (most bought used), a dozen pins (which we only started using now that we've got flats), 3 hanging wet pails (2 of which get used as pail liners, one of which I won), and numerous smaller wet bags (almost all of them purchased new - we use them to segregate things in Acorn's diaper bag)
All that for one ~25 lb toddler....and here I was shooting for 2 dozen diapers, total. LOL
To be fair...some of our nurses have never used cloth. The contours and pockets work well for them - especially overnight. The pockets are mostly used when we're out and about, since we're also managing 50 lbs of medical gear, and trying to manage multi-piece diapers on top of that is just not happy. Prefolds get the most use, and even Big Oak does them (and the flats, with pins!). The flats are not likely to get a lot of use other than this trip, and possibly when the weather is warmer here, but you never know.

MckLinky Blog Hop

Monday, November 9, 2009


I have a zillion thoughts zooming around my head this morning bouncing off the inside of my skull, even though (or maybe because) I'm exhausted and at work.

None of the thoughts flying around, however, are about the writing I'm supposed to do for work, of course.

So, saved for future writing so I can get them out of the way and get on with usefulness:

Our lack of respect for each other, from religion to skin color to age to disability to what clothes we wear and what we weigh, is the problem, not any of those surface characteristics. Changing how we look may affect initial impressions and reactions, but doesn't change how we treat people - and how we treat people is often based on those surface things. It's no wonder we have so many wars and so many people doing drastic things when they're stressed.

Drama with the EI instructor, and why Acorn failing next week's hearing test might be a good thing

Things I want in my new blog template....

Thoughts on introducing religion to Acorn, when most of his caregivers are a completely different religion