Family – A Guest Post By The Truthful Mom :: The Adoption Awareness Blog Project

For the month of November, several talented, witty, smart, funny and real bloggers will be joining me here on Thrasher Home to support the Adoption Awareness Blog Project. Every Wednesday, I’ll be welcoming a guest blogger who will share their thoughts about ‘Family’.

 

By Sarah of The Truthful Mom:

At my best friend’s wedding the minister spoke about how the bride and groom were coming together to join as a family. He reminded them that even if they did not go on to have children; God had created this family of two for them. I love that. I believe that.

Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. ~Genesis 2:24

It was very soon after we were married that my husband and I were bombarded with questions about when we would “start a family.” While the sentiment was sweet (and likely fueled by my mother’s friends wanting her to have grandchildren), it always bothered me that somehow marriage wasn’t deemed enough to be a family. You see, when I took my vows and committed to marry my husband I very much believed that I had “started” my family. It may only have been a family of two – but it was two people dedicated to each other in love.

So, stemming from my thoughts about “starting” a family, I guess my definition of family would expand even further. In my life I have been blessed to be surrounded by good friends who I love dearly and who encourage me to be my better self. I definitely consider these people to be part of my family because in my heart I have dedicated myself to them in support and love. These wonderful people have come in all shapes, sizes, colors, ages and backgrounds – but these are the people with whom I share the joys and sorrows of my life and love.

Family is the people God put in your life to love you, commit to you, challenge you and support you along your path. Some of these people you may know from birth but some of these people you accumulate along the way.

When I think of adoption and family I smile. I see bringing a child into your family – pledging to commit to each other and sharing love together – as a beautiful part of God’s plan. How we find each other isn’t the important part of being a family. How we appreciate each other in our family is what should be important to us as we live our lives.

Leaving My Baby Overnight

After months of putting baby first and marriage second, it was time to spark a bit of Thrasher romance away from home. The hubs and I were planning to take a much needed, long overdue break and (insert gasp) stay at a nice hotel in the city for the night. Without baby. Oh my.

The thought of leaving our DD behind and no parents nearby to jump to her rescue should she need comforting, a warm boob or Papa’s strong shoulders sent shivers down my spine.

Photo: Bend the Light Photography

Yet the circumstances seemed perfect:

  • Grandma is visiting for the week and has proven herself to be worthy, capable and proud to take care of our most precious family member all by herself.
  • A friend of ours works at a nice hotel downtown and helped us get a good deal for the night.
  • Mr Thrasher had a business meeting the next morning at the same hotel. How random is that? (Well, I know it’s not chance but God encouraging us to actually go through with this plan.)

Of course, Emma had to start teething pretty badly a few days ago. Not that she did it on purpose. Poor thing. Despite having been sleeping from 6pm to 5.30am the next morning she’s recently been waking up frequently at night again and hasn’t fallen back asleep without any help. The other night (basically our test drive for grandma) nothing worked: nursing, Ibuprofen, Orajel, chilled pacifier, rocking, lullabies. I ended up padding her back and soothing her (Emma, not grandma) for over an hour while she was lying in her crib fighting sleep. I eventually left the room and left her whimpering for a little while until she finally drifted off.

Sorry, I’m getting distracted. Ha, see how that goes? From starting to write about my marriage and Mr Thrasher, I switch back into mommy mode and write about Baby Thrasher. So how did I prepare for my first overnight stay without baby? Glad you asked.

  • I left a manual or detailed instructions for the babysitter. This is not about being controlling. This is about peace of mind for you AND the person taking care of your baby. Giving them advice on how to manage certain situations or when and what to feed her will make it easier for them to take care of baby.
  • Ready. Set. Pump. I left enough breast milk for the evening, nightly emergency feedings and the next morning.
  • I chose a babysitter who watched baby before. It makes you feel more comfortable and won’t frighten confuse baby when she wakes up and neither Mama nor Papa are around.
  • Communicate. Share your worries, fears and anything that’s on your heart with the babysitter. It will help you get it out of your system.
  • Talk to your husband. Ask him to be patient and understanding.
  • Define what an ‘emergency situation’ entails and when the babysitter should call you.
  • Don’t stress over turning this overnight date with your lover into the sequel to your wedding night. Your only goal should be to have fun and enjoy some quality time. This is not about finding the most romantic restaurant for dinner, looking drop dead gorgeous in a fancy neglige or performing the best sex of your married life. This is simply about being together without any distractions.
I’m gonna spare you the juicy details of our nightly getaway. The only thing I’m gonna say is: It was absofrickinglutely worth it and my husband is HOT!

What Not To Wear

My husband and I did something totally random the other day: We purged each other’s closet.

The rules: We could pick whatever clothes and shoes we didn’t like and toss it on the Goodwill pile. We both had six vetos that we could use to keep an item (not sure I explained that correctly: we were allowed to keep six items).

It was tough to see some of my favorite pieces fly out of the closet and straight on top of that ‘needs-to-go’ pile. DH was like ‘yeah, that thing needs to go.’ and I’m like ‘ouch, no, it hurts, please make it stop’.

The result: Empty closets with less clothes that we haven’t worn in a while. Plus we actually like the outfits the other half will be wearing from now on. Not that it’s majorly important but let’s be honest, we do care at least a little bit about our husbands looking snazzy and handsome. Vice versa, I don’t mind that my man wants me to emphasize my, let’s say, best features.

Win, win.

 

Sleepless In The Suburbs :: Part 3

That’s it! Our spirits have been broken. It has now been 191 nights since we left the hospital with our baby girl. 191 nights without more than 4 hours of sleep. And that was only when she was a newborn. We had to change our pace in order to regain sanity and save our marriage.

I know I have blogged about this topic many times already but since we’re still in the midst of probably one of the most difficult stages of parenthood to date, I’m gonna keep sharing.

For the past three months or 91 days Emma had been waking up every 2-3 hours at night. We even had weeks of hourly wakings. Do you know that feeling of crankiness towards the end of the day when you’re really beat and just want to crawl under your covers? How would you feel when you finally fell asleep after tossing and turning restlessly at night only to suddenly awaken again shortly thereafter? Oh, and don’t think you could load up on coffee, Monster drinks or Red Bull to help you function during the day. Na, you’re still breastfeeding so none of that, lady.

We recently went to SoCal for an inexpensive vacation. While staying with Paul’s mom, Paul offered to take care of Emma at night so that I could get some good night sleep. What an awesome husband, hey. He and Emma along with her travel crib, one bottle of breast milk and a bottle of water moved into one bedroom as I went to bed in a separate bedroom. Dear Lord, that was amazing! I had forgotten how wonderful it is to sleep through the night without any disturbance. I was reborn. I was a new person. I was actually friendly and nice again. Seriously.

So peaceful...

Paul and I celebrated our victory over Emma’s nightly terrorism sleep issues. We were convinced that we had magically cracked taught her to fall asleep and stay asleep.

Ha! Not too fast. Back home she fell back into her old sleep pattern. Really? Why? What worked in L.A.? Was it the climate? The different day activities? We sorta kept her bedtime and routine the same so that couldn’t be it. Maybe it was that driving around for about an hour every time we had to get somewhere which always gave her an opportunity to rest/sleep.

Either way, we had to set an end to this. Paul was back at work and couldn’t afford to spend many more nights comforting Emma and even with a few nights of deep sleep I wasn’t able to make up for the past six months.

It seemed like there was only one more option and I hated to even think about it. Yes, that’s right. We had to let her cry it out. Even writing this feels like a fist clenched around my heart. (In Germany we say: Lieber ein Ende mit Schrecken als ein Schrecken ohne Ende.)

So we put Pantley’s book No-Cry Sleep Solutions back on the shelf and investigated the Ferber Method. The Ferber Method is a sleep training strategy designed by Richard Ferber, M.D., the director of the Center for Pediatric Sleep Disorders at Children’s Hospital in Boston where he has been treating children with sleep problems since 1978.

The Ferber Method is not simply a “cry it out” approach to getting your baby to sleep. Instead, like some “no cry” methods, Dr. Ferber’s methods is supposed to help you teach your baby go to sleep and sleep all night without crying or with a minimum of crying.

But make sure to read up on Dr. Richard Ferber’s method before you judge. The folks at Babycenter.com have a great article about it. As much as I opposed any sort of crying it out sleep training (see Part 1 and Part 2), I never judged the parents who decided to try it.

However, I still feel very uncomfortable about this in my heart but my head told me that our whole family would benefit longterm from the ‘cold turkey’ method. And if you add up all of the crying your child now does when she wakes up in the middle of the night, especially if she keeps doing it for many more weeks or months, it will likely far exceed what she might do using the Ferber Method.

Well, here we are. Paul and I reading, talking, arguing and eventually deciding a game plan to teach Emma how to fall asleep by herself and let go of her sleeping aids: Nursing, bottle, rocking, shushing, lullabies, pacifier (not that she ever really used one) and mostly Mama and Papa picking her up.

Here’s our plan of attack:

  • Stick to our well-established bedtime routine and bedtime. Cuddle and hug her even more than usual before bedtime so she knows that we love her so much.
  • Then put her down awake, so that she is left to fall asleep on her own. (She has fallen asleep on her own several times before at night and during the day.)
  • Eventually, Emma will inevitably start crying. Allow her to cry for about 5 minutes, then re-enter the room to console her while only staying in the room for a short time – even if she is still crying – and not picking her up.
  • This second time we leave the room, we would wait 10 minutes before returning and doing the same thing.
  • The third time we wait 12 minutes, and set this as a maximum wait time for the rest of the night.
  • While listening in our bedroom to Emma sobbing next door in her nursery, we would pray together and encourage one another that we’re doing the right thing.
  • The following nights we will stretch out the intervals until we’ve reached the limit we allow our child to cry (12 minutes).

Stay tuned for more updates on our sleep training, how we tackle the daytime naps or hear me whine on Twitter in the middle of the night.

Happy Father’s Day!

Today we celebrated Paul’s first official Father’s Day (Vatertag). ‘Official’ because I already celebrated last year’s Father’s Day with Paul since he was sorta already a father – even though Emma wasn’t born yet.

My Father's Day menu for my delicious husband.

I wanted to honor the awesome father Paul has been since the day Emma was born. From Day 1 he stepped up and into his new role. Whether he lovingly took care of her while I was still knocked out from the birth or plays with her when it’s actually time to go to bed, he turned out to be a natural born daddy.

Of course, we have our moments where I think he could do more or better or faster. Of course, we argue over bedtime and why a baby has to go to bed at a certain time every night. I think that’s absolutely normal. Nonetheless and overall, I couldn’t ask for a better partner to raise our daughter.

One of my favorite daily moments is when Emma sees her Papa when he comes home from work. You should see that smile on her face! It couldn’t be any bigger. And then she stretches out her tiny arms, reaches for him and tries to eat his nose. She adores her Papa! It truly warms my heart to see those two together.

In Germany, we have a saying – “Liebe geht durch den Magen” which literally says ‘love goes through the stomach’. It means, that you can win a guys heart by cooking for him or something like that. So here’s the tasty three-course menu I put together to show Papa what he means to us. Recipes can be found below.

Most of the prep happened with Emma in the Ergo. (That poor thing is teething and has therefore been a bit fussy lately.) I cooked the tri-tip while Paul put Emma to bed and surprisingly managed to get everything on the table while it was still hot.

Sunday morning, we woke Papa with a drool bomb (Emma), a card and more manly gifts (Mama). Papa loved all the attention and had an awesome day. You could tell how proud he is to be a dad. Hm. Can you tell how proud I am of him?

Here are the recipes:

Tri-tip Roast with Parsley Cherry-Tomato Sauce

Green Bean and Bacon Saute

Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes

Apfel-Streuselkuchen (Shhh, I used this cake mix from CostPlus. Don’t tell anyone!)

Affogato

The corn-shrimp tostada is a recipe my friend Val gave me. If you want it, I’d be happy to email it to you. Just say the word.

 

Babysitter Virgins

We did it! We left Emma with a trusted babysitter.

Actually, two babysitters. Well, three if you count their son Jonah. They love Emma and since their son turned out okay, we thought we could take a plunge and leave our sweetheart with them for a few hours so Paul and I could have a dinner date. Just the two of us.

It was blissful!

I can’t begin to describe how excited we were to not have to haul a car seat around or grab a stroller from the trunk or schlepp any of those other baby gear necessities around with us.

We planned for an early dinner to avoid any conflict with Emma’s bedtime. Our restaurant was only 10 minutes away from our friends’ house where we dropped Emma, two bottles of freshly pumped milk (so I could have more than just one glass of wine) and a few minor instructions off. Our friends promised to call us in case of an emergency but would otherwise not contact us. I was not allowed to call or text them either. Yikes.

Paul and I had one more rule for our first date night AC (After Child): no baby talk.

In all honesty, I managed to sneak a quick look at my phone to see if I got a text but otherwise didn’t touch it.

We had such a great time! And now that we’re no longer babysitter virgins, we’re ready to do it again. Let me tell you, once you tasted a piece of heaven… (no offense, Emma!)

Thanks to Uncle Ryan and Auntie Reg for taking good care of our little one and blessing us with some long overdue marriage time. You guys rock!

Date Night

Screw it! Forget bedtime, bedtime routine and lullabies – we’re going out!

After only little success with our sleep training efforts so far, I thought we might as well just be out and about with our little terrorist angel. Maybe 7.30pm was just too early for bedtime? She had been taking three naps during the day and is in general a happy baby. Could it be that she was getting enough rest during the day and didn’t need to be put down that early?

Let me tell you, I LOVED getting dressed up a bit, putting on a face and my fancy earrings, and taking my baby daddy out for dinner. I got Emma ready for ‘bedtime’ – washed her, put on her jammies and bundled her up in the car seat – hoping she’d fall asleep in the restaurant.

Well, she fell asleep in the car on the drive over there, but then decided to entertain the guests around us while we devoured our sushi. I took 4 ounces of bottled organic German breast milk with me so that I wouldn’t have to mess with the nursing cover and all that jazz. When Emma showed the first signs of hunger, Papa gave her the bottle while he sipped his Big Daddy IPA. She gulped down the content of the bottle and went right back to making bubbles and talking to the couple at the table next to us.

On the ride home, she finally fell asleep and stayed asleep for 1 1/2 hours after we carried her inside the house. At 11.30pm when I thought it’s time to put her down for her night sleep and change her diaper one last time, she woke up only to go right back to sleep during the last night feeding.

Now guess what? She only woke up once at 4.30am, I nursed her on one side and she slept through until Papa’s alarm went off at 7.30am.

Guess what we’re doing tonight? You got it – we’ll be going out for another date night.

Master Of Ceremony :: Our Wedding

I do!

Forget Cinco de Mayo, it’s the Thrasher Wedding Anniversary. Four years of married bliss. I snatched a hardworking, humble, hot ‘n’ handsome husband, we adopted a lovely mutt, multiplied and gave birth to a stinkin’ cute baby. To this day – and beyond – we are dreaming big of a fantastic future as we grow and nurture our little family.

But this post is not about us. This post is dedicated to a good friend and the best master of ceremony a bride can ask for. (I’m not mentioning the groom because he didn’t even know what a master of ceremony does, yet alone why we would need one.)

Li, this is for you:

Today, Paul and I are celebrating the 4th return of our wedding day.
This occasion prompts me to shout a Thank You your way.
As I remember the day, Paul and I began our life.
As husband and wife.

You were the master of ceremony.
The guardian angel of our vows of matrimony.
The man.
With the master plan.

Getting ready, Paul suddenly discovered his pants were too long.
With a stapler you did a better job than tailors in Hong Kong.
Helping him fix his tie.
Without a sigh.

Without you Paul would probably still be standing in the sand.
Waiting for me and my mother to give him my hand.
Guests would still be looking for their seat.
With nothing to eat.

Sensing the danger of having no songs to move our feet.
You quickly assigned Neil to be in charge of the beat.
What a moving speech.
You gave on the beach.

Thank you again for diverting every disaster.
While being the best ceremony’s master.
As we remember our ‘I Do’.
We cheer to you.

Love,

The Thrashers

 

Napa Valley Wine Train Wedding

A Napa Valley wedding I designed while I was four months pregnant. The bride and groom picked a winery theme and a color palette of Chocolate, Aubergine and Pear.

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Green votives with purple decor sand.

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The bridal couple designed their monogram themselves. And I incorporated it for all the buffet signs.

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Sweet treats.

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The “guest book”: Guests wrote postcards with vintage winery motives and dropped them into a mailbox.

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The bridal bouquet. Always honored when a bride trusts me with the “centerpiece” of her bridal outfit.

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A welcoming refreshment for thirsty guests. July in Napa = hot!

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The aisle chairs were decorated with wine bottles filled with a calla lily and purple branches.

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Sophisticated chair decor.

Credits:

Photography by Paco and Betty

Our Testimony :: Fears During Pregnancy

“I sought the Lord and He answered me. And He delivered me from all my fears.” Psalm 34:3

Baby Thrasher at 4 months.

During my pregnancy I was told that it is common to test your baby for Down syndrome or other chromosomal abnormality. Screening tests (a combination of blood draws and ultrasounds) apparently help you assess your baby’s chances of having this kind of problem. The tests wouldn’t exactly tell us if baby had Down syndrome but results would tell us a ratio that informs us about baby’s chances of having a problem, based on our test results and how old I was.

What’s a chromosomal abnormality?

Chromosomes are threadlike structures in our cells that carry our genes. Most people have 46 chromosomes in each cell, with one set of 23 coming from the mother’s egg and the other set from the father’s sperm.

Biological errors can happen during the early stages of cell division, causing abnormalities in the chromosomes. For example, some babies develop with 47 chromosomes: Instead of 23 matched pairs, they have 22 pairs plus one set of three, a chromosomal abnormality called trisomy.

Often, a woman who conceives a baby with an abnormal number of chromosomes will miscarry, usually early in pregnancy. But with certain chromosomal abnormalities, the baby may survive and be born with developmental problems and birth defects that can range from mild to severe.

Down syndrome, also known as trisomy 21, occurs when a baby has an extra copy of chromosome 21 in some or all of his cells. Down syndrome is the most common chromosomal abnormality babies can be born with.

Other chromosomal problems that babies can be born with include trisomy 18 and trisomy 13. These abnormalities are almost always associated with profound mental retardation and other congenital malformations. If they survive to birth, these babies rarely live more than a few months.

Anyone can have a baby with a chromosomal abnormality, but the risk rises with the mother’s age. For example, your likelihood of carrying a baby with Down syndrome ranges from about 1 in 1295 at age 20 to about 1 in 82 at age 40.

Source: babycenter.com

The advantage of screening is that it gives you information about your baby’s risk of having certain problems without subjecting you to the slight risk of miscarriage associated with CVS and amniocentesis.

Definitely no amniocentesis for us. Image source: health-pictures.com

BUT, and here’s where my very personal opinion comes in, the disadvantage is that the results can screw with you and get you worrying for the rest of your pregnancy as you keep thinking about the possibility that your baby will be born with a genetic disorder. Or those results get you contemplating further tests like CVS and amniocentesis. And what happens then? What if you actually find out that the percentage of giving birth to a ‘sick’ child are so high that the thought of, well, you know what, pops into your mind?

For Paul and me it was never a question whether we would terminate the pregnancy. God gave us a baby and we believe abortion is murder and therefore a deadly sin. So there was no room to go any further with that thought or discussion. Period.

Back to the tests. Frankly, I didn’t think much about the disadvantages of the screening tests. Looking back, I think I would have preferred not to be tested. And here’s why.

I was identified as being at medium risk for Down syndrom and my ratio was very close to the cutoff. I was horrified.

On a side note: I have to admit that I am a bit of a worrywart. I’m not gonna lie. I tend to blow up issues and keep contemplating the negative side of things. But I’m learning to rely on God and my Faith. God is a good god and He provides and protects. I have many testimonies to prove his goodness.

After Paul and I got the results we met with a genetic counselor to discuss what we could do next. It was clear to us that we didn’t want to do any of the invasive tests that showed a high risk for miscarriage – despite the counselor’s recommendation. So what was left?

We turned to God.

Instead of reading about the disease, I searched for relevant scriptures and Paul and I started praying and meditating on them.
We agreed to not even talk about the “threat” anymore as we didn’t want to speak the possibility of birthing a sick child over our baby. We only shared our fear with our parents and two close friends. We also didn’t ask our team of prayer warriors at C3 San Francisco for support. This was between God and us, our little family.

“…and great will be your children’s peace (shalom).” Isaiah 54:13

The devil comes to kill and destroy. Of course, he wanted to rob us of our joy about expecting a baby. I knew that it was plain evil to make me think my baby wasn’t alright while all the way she was absolutely perfect. And that is what I was teaching myself to think: My baby was God’s masterpiece and therefore healthy and whole.

Our plan of attack worked. A couple of weeks after we received the results, we had successfully pushed all of our doubts and worries away and were back to enjoying our pregnancy (well, putting my aches and pains aside). We trusted God with our baby and for the remaining months of my pregnancy, we actually didn’t think much about the test results.

On December 30, 2010 we welcomed a beautiful baby girl into this world. Emma Louise was perfectly healthy. Praise God for creating another masterpiece.