Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Terrible Two's ,,,,,

As I may or may not have mentioned before, our daughter has a slight developmental delay. This delay is centered around the fact that she was premature by 8 weeks and also had a Grade IV brain bleed (serious stroke) three days after birth. Incredibly, she has overcome any initial prognoses her doctor's gave her and to most people she looks and acts like a typical two year old except for one difference---she has what we believe to be SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder). I hate labeling kids, so I would rather positively state that she is a "Sensitive Child" which means she is sensitive to many things in the world around her. Her brain goes into overdrive when she hears certain sounds, has clothing on that she find uncomfortable for some reason or even when she is told "No" for any reason. She does receive Occupational Therapy to help her integrate sensory input into her world. In turn, this helps us to understand what her needs are when this happens and how we can teach her coping mechanisms to deal with them. But don't think I am saying that this is all easy because it just isn't.

The sensitivities are one thing but God obviously thinks that we can handle more to deal with as she has just started what most deem as the "terrible two's". This is the stage when your sweet, obedient child turns into something that resembles "The Incredible Hulk"... destroying things, angering easily, tantruming for an apparent reason at times and no apparent reason at others, etc. I used to love watching "The Incredible Hulk" when I was a kid. My favorite part of the whole show was usually just before David Banner turned into the Hulk as his line always was: "Don't make me angry, you won't like me when I'm angry!". I never realized that I would one day be dealing with a miniature version of this creature as a parent. We love her but sometimes, just sometimes, it is hard to like how she behaves.

So what is a first-time parent to do? Drink lots of wine? Give yourself a "time out"? This is where the real challenge lies. So far, we have continued to give her the structure she craves, ignore the tantrums, praise her efforts and remain consistent with disciplinary issues. Our daughter is enjoying the sights and sounds of the holiday season right now but two weeks from now, she may dislike the same commotion. The hardest part about this is that you can't help but think that you and your "egocentric" child will ever make it through this phase and become the independent, responsible adult that you hope to raise but I guess it does happen.

We are finding over time that our daughter is becoming more aware of the world around her and more frequently asks for what she needs to cope. This is truly a blessing because for the longest time, she was unable to verbalize what she needed which led to frustration on both our parts. Sometimes to cope, all she needs is a simple hug, other times she might enjoy being wrapped up in a blanket like a burrito, sometimes it's wearing certain clothing items that help to apply deep pressure to her joints, and finally being asked if she can go on her slide or be swung inside a blanket seems to also have a calming effect on her.

This whole area of "Sensitive Children" is not something I am very educated in despite being a Teacher. I have had students with SPD before but they were a bit older and the fact that they weren't my child made it much easier for me to deal with on a daily basis. I have been told that things will only get better as she grows older. That's reassuring to hear but I won't believe it until I actually see it happen before my eyes. Right now, we are working on accepting the fact that the sensitivities she has now may or may not follow her into the future. I guess acceptance is the first step to conquering whatever comes our way.

Until we meet again,

Cheryl and Jason

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

From crib to toddler bed....

I have always had a hard time time with change. If you were to ask anyone that has know me most of my life, they would tell you that this is something that I have struggled with since childhood. The biggest change in my life was when our daughter finally came home from the NICU @ two months old. For as excited as I was about becoming a Mom, there was a part of me that feared it. After being just my husband, dog and I for so long, we had gotten comfortable with our lifestyle and had no clue how much having a child would impact life as we knew it. Despite many a sleepless night and what seemed like permanent insomnia (on my part), we made it through the transition from NICU to living together as a family.

Our daughter's life revolves around transitions right now and this is just the beginning of most of them. Right now, we are attempting to transition her from a crib to toddler bed. This is a frightening but necessary step for all of us because said toddler is VERY TALL for her age. This of course means that she is a bit like a superhero--meaning that she is able to leap over crib rails in a single bound ! We have only witnessed one episode of this leaping at home. I remember the day well. I was downstairs having my morning cup of ambition when I heard a loud thump from our daughter's room. This loud thump was followed by some crying and screaming. I raced upstairs to see what was going on and right there in front of me sitting on the floor was my precious baby girl who was obviously scared. It didn't take long to figure out what had happened. She had climbed out of her crib and in the process fell. Thank God she didn't get hurt ! She has not (as far as we know)climbed out of said crib at home again since that fateful day a few months ago.

Take note that I said we haven't seen this at HOME again which of course means that she is very comfortable attempting this feat elsewhere. Last weekend, we were at my parents' house for the weekend. When we arrived on Friday evening, our toddler was asleep. We carefully carried her to the crib and put her in. She slept for awhile without issue. Suddenly, we heard loud crying which sounded as though she had woken up and was deciding to go to sleep again. At least that's what we thought at first. My husband went to investigate. It didn't take him too long to figure out that our little spiderwoman had escaped the confines of her crib. He found her sitting at the top of the stairs sobbing and for a few minutes, she was inconsolable. It had been decided, there was no way that this child was going to sleep in that crib, that night. We knew that if we put her back in the crib, she would perform her trick for us again. We decided that the only way she was going to sleep was to sleep with us (not a regular practice in our household at all). I am happy to report after she settled in to bed, she finally fell asleep. Being the brave soul that I am, I moved her back to the crib once she was asleep so we could actually sleep without fear of rolling over on her.

The next day, my Mom and I decided to investigate the crib escape further and found out that my precious baby girl had used the aid of a pillow and a slightly tilted mattress to make her plan a reality. I have to say that I am very proud of my child for using her problem solving skills in such a creative way. That's the teacher in me. Maybe we have a child on our hands that will be a great Engineer or Scientist one day? Who knows... The point of this whole story is that at this particular moment in time, it hit us like a ton of bricks that our daughter would indeed need to make the HUGE transition to a toddler bed much sooner than we anticipated.

After reading our parenting books, talking to other parents and doing some on-line detective work, we decided that the best place to start would be to shop for a bed with toddler in tow. So, the next day we went bed shopping and bought her a white toddler bed to match the other furniture in her room. Taking my cues from many parenting experts, I decided that our daughter should pick out her new comforter set. She picked out what she wanted and we proceeded to set the bed up right next to the crib. She loves her bed ON HER TERMS which means that she will only stay in the bed if we are present in her room and IF she has her 4 baby dolls, Elmo, 3 teddy bears, several books, a blanket and last but not least, a full sized pillow. She is a very strong willed child

We have started to try to put her in her toddler bed just for naps. She's great about staying in it for about 5 minutes then we will hear things drop on the floor,some screaming and SUDDENLY without warning, SILENCE. When we have checked the baby monitor to see if she has actually made it to bed, she usually hasn't. We usually try to quietly creep up the stairs (in case she actually is asleep) and open her bedroom door. Much to our relief, she is usually asleep on the carpet by the door. We decided long ago that we should just leave her where she is because we KNOW that she will wake up as soon as we even try to move her the slightest bit.

There is a part of me that is very sad about this transition because it means that our baby isn't such a baby anymore. We are all growing together and it is the best feeling in the world. We are so blessed to have such an incredible child in our lives and couldn't imagine our life any other way than it is right now-- transitions and all.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Toddler 101

It's been awhile since I have taken any college level classes but I am definitely enrolled in a course entitled "Toddler 101" right now. The patience that this course requires is sometimes very challenging. No one tells you that you must also have boundless energy and a very imaginative mind. Just as you were getting comfortable with being a parent and the routine that works for everyone, toddler hood emerges. You begin to question who this little being in front of you really is and why they behave the way that they do.

As I was looking at some parenting blogs, I realized that there are definitely other students in this class that share my views of what it is like to be the parent of a toddler. My favorite post comes from a blog entitled "Suburban Snapshots", Since I like this post so much, I would like to share it with all of you. Here it is:

Why Having A Toddler Is Like Going To A Frat Party

*That one frat party I've ever been to, having gone to a Very Serious Arts College.

10. There are half-full, brightly-colored plastic cups on the floor in every room. Three are in the bathtub.

9. There's always that one girl, bawling her eyes out in a corner.

8. It's best not to assume that the person closest to you has any control over their digestive function.

7. You sneak off to the bathroom knowing that as soon as you sit down, someone's going to start banging on the door.

6. Probably 80% of the stains on the furniture contain DNA.

5. You've got someone in your face at 3 a.m. looking for a drink.

4. There's definitely going to be a fight.

3. You're not sure whether anything you're doing is right, you just hope it won't get you arrested.

2. There are crumpled-up underpants everywhere.

1. You wake up wondering exactly how and when the person in bed with you got there.

I am not exactly sure what I would add to the list but will definitely give it some serious thought. This is one course that I refuse to fail !

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Adoption Profiles Make Their Way to Social Networking??

I am an avid Facebook user--- I freely admit it. I guess being at home gives me less time to socialize, so FB helps me connect with people that I otherwise wouldn't get a chance to.

I wasn't always a Facebook fan. It all started when my cousin convinced me that this was the way for our family to communicate on a more frequent basis. At first, I was not sure that I wanted to delve into the world of status updates, applications and photo albums. But as time passed, I realized that many of my family members, friends, co-workers and former classmates had taken the plunge. So, I dove right in.

At the time that I entered the Facebook world. we were nearing the end of our adoption journey (unbeknownst to me). If we hadn't been, I may have considered creating a FB page for our profile. It would have been a great way to get the word out that we were indeed ready to be parents. If you are at the beginning of your journey or right in what you consider the middle, you know that getting your profile into the hands of as many birth mothers as possible increases your chances to parent. When we were going through our journey , we relied heavily on our agency and their website to send out our profile to birth mothers as often as interest was expressed. We also relied on our family and friends to help us get the word out. These weren't the only ways we got the word out but you get the idea.

It would be interesting to see if those that post profiles on Facebook get more birthmother response to their profiles than the traditional ways that others post (i.e. website, blog, e-mail, posting in public places, knowing a friend that knows someone that is considering adoption, etc.). For some reason, I tend to think that these methods would be somewhat comparable at this point but I definitely won't rule out the possibility of Facebook taking the place of many of these methods at some point.

So, at this point, I would like to share with you one of the Adoption Profiles that I have come across on Facebook. It definitely grabs your attention and tugs at your heart strings. Michelle (the prospective adoptive parent) says that the reason she made a page recently was because "It worked for another couple". I hope that it works for Michelle and Matt too. I do not know Michelle and Matt but sincen I have been through the journey and know how agonizing the wait can be, I am passing along Michelle and Matt's information. The FB Page's title is: Help Michelle and Matt Adopt A Child and their website is:


Enjoy !

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Adoption Confusion...

As most of you know, my husband and I are involved in an open adoption with our daughter's birth mother which for us means that we send cards and letters with pictures three times a year and also have visits with the birth family 3X a year as well.

This past Saturday was supposed to be our first visit of 2010. We had communicated with the birth mother about the time and place and everything seemed like it would go as smoothly as it has for the past two years. The one caveat to this visit, however, was that it was going to be just the birth mother, our daughter's half brother, myself, my husband and our daughter. This probably doesn't seem unusual to most of you reading this. However, for us it was as all of our visits thus far have included the birth Grandmother and at times the birth Aunt even though our agreement does not involve having them there.

Needless to say, we showed up on Saturday at the appropriate time and place with a hungry toddler in tow. We waited for a half an hour for the birth mother to show up and she didn't. This has never happened before...we were in complete disbelief that this woman did not show up after not seeing our daughter for almost 7 months. I can't even begin to describe how disappointed we were that this happened. The disappointment wasn't for us but for her birth mother and our daughter as they have never really had the chance to get to know each other. We also thought about the long term effects of this missed visit and what would happen if it occurred the next time we scheduled a meeting.

As we talking to our respective families about the situation, an interesting topic was presented to us. That topic was "Adoption Confusion". Adoption Confusion can be defined as : contact with first families that could possibly make adopted children question who the ‘real’ parental authority is. It was suggested to us that maybe it was for the best that the birth mother didn't show to the visit because it might be confusing for our child to have that contact,I know that many of our relatives are confused about our relationship with the birth family and selfishly would like us to have these visits be as limited as possible. These feelings are completely understandable and valid as our daughter has become such a huge part of both of our families.

To be completely honest, I have never really given adoption confusion much thought. I guess we have always assumed that our daughter wouldn't have this issue because we would always be open and honest with her about her family of origin. We also figured that since she will spend the majority of her time with us, there would be no question as to who had the 'real' parental authority.

However, I can completely understand how a child could be confused by all of the extra branches on their family tree. Family trees are confusing enough when you just have one family let alone two or three. From everything that I have read, there are very mixed feelings about this myth in the adoption community. Some people say that it is definitely true , others not so much. I think the most important thing to remember about "adoption confusion" is how much more accepting kids are compared to adults. If you don’t give kids any information they will have nothing to go on. Lack of information breeds confusion in most people. We know that our child will eventually have questions but we are working hard to ensure that there isn't any confusion. Our hope is that she will show signs of acceptance, understanding, curiosity and, of course, love to her birth family throughout her lifetime.

I'd love to hear others thoughts about this topic. Until we meet again, shalom to you !

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Finally..... A Celeb Adoption happens like it does for the rest of us...

Yesterday as I was waiting for my dentist appointment, I happened to notice the cover of "People" magazine. On the cover was a beaming Sandra Bullock and her adorable son, Louie. Intrigued by Sandra's adoption journey and how she managed to keep the adoption a secret for so long, I settled into a comfortable chair and began to read.

The first item that struck a chord with me was the time of Sandra's wait. Unlike some of Sandra's celebrity counterparts, she did not use her celebrity to lessen the time the process takes. Sandra said that she wanted to go through the process just like anyone else would. Bravo! Finally, a celeb who knows that the right child will find you at the right time and doesn't rush this important process.

I was also intrigued by how Sandra and her now estranged husband kept the adoption a secret. I don't know if any of you have ever had to keep a secret of that magnitude before but I can assure you that it is not easy. Thank God for all of their family and friends who respected their wishes and kept their joyful secret. I'm sure having some privacy to bond and adjust to this new family member was much appreciated :) .

I can relate to having privacy and time to bond with your new child very well. When we adopted our daughter and brought her home, we were told by our agency and social worker to give ourselves plenty of time to bond with our baby before introducing her to any friends or family members. As hard as we tried to follow this rule (and we did for a little while), we could not keep the grandparents away once they found out about our new addition, nor could we keep good friends who had been with us throughout our journey away either.

Another interesting part of this interview was the parallel between Sandra's Oscar winning role as an adoptive parent in The Blind Sideand her real life role as an Adoptive Mom. Apparently, Sandra received the call about "Louie" while she was filming 'The Blind Side' and never dreamed that her son would come into her life at the time that he did. I think that's the way it is with most of us who have adopted. When we receive the call, we are excited and in disbelief that the wait is finally coming to an end. It is my belief that none of this supposed "ironic" timing is ironic at all....it just means that divine intervention has selected a child that is an unique fit for the adoptive family.

I admire Sandra's resolve to finalize this adoption as a single parent. I can't imagine what it would be like to parent on your own ! Louie is one loved and lucky child to be able to call Sandra "Mom". Congratulations to Sandra and Louie and to anyone out there in the blogging world that may be adopting. May your parenthood journey be a wonderful adventure filled with love and happiness !

Sunday, April 11, 2010

From Russia Wirh Love ?

Why would anyone would adopt a child and then send the child back on a plane ALONE to the country they originated from? I fail to understand how why this happens. Unfortunately, this is exactly what has happened with a 5 year old Russian child who was adopted by a family in the United States this past week.

This isn't the first time that I have heard this type of story. I remember seeing a similar case about a year ago on "Dateline" where a woman and her husband sent their daughter back to the agency that they adopted her from because she had severe behavior and psychological issues that impacted not only her but the entire family. The child was violent and threatened to hurt the couple (if I remember correctly...sometimes Mommy brain sets in and I can't remember things like this).

I won't pretend to understand the decision that these couples have made because I clearly don't. We waited for our daughter for almost 4 years. Were there times that we wanted to give up and not pursue adoption anymore? Sure there were but the difference between that feeling before adopting and after adoption are two totally different discussions. Obviously, you know what our choice was and we wouldn't change it for the world.

Frankly, I can't understand how you could ever send a child back when you've devoted so much of your energy,emotions, time and money to adopt in the first place. Don't most people adopt because they want to raise a child? Did these people think that being an adoptive parent would somehow be "easier" than being any other type of parent? What does this say about the world we live in? Is this sending the message that when adoptive parenting becomes "too difficult", you can always send a child back to their country of origin without any consequences? Let's hope not !

Here's the link to the news article about the Russian adoption gone wrong:


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

An interesting article about PADS

To learn more about Post Adoption Depression Syndrome, click on the link below:


We've adopted ...now what?

Our friends have recently found out that they will finally meet their little girl in China this Spring. We are beyond thrilled for them. Even though this is a joyous time for them (and their friends and family), it also brings me to ask: "Now that we've adopted.... what do we do next?

I really feel that this should be a question that adoption agency's should be prepared to answer for their "alumni" families but in my experience they are not. How do you handle the first visit with a birth family? What should you say or not say? When will everything be finalized? How do you file your income taxes and claim your child without a social security number?, etc. The list could go on and on...it doesn't matter if you were given an orientation and a packet of articles to read before you adopted. If you didn't read it then, you certainly aren't going to have time to read it once your baby is home !

After being told for almost 4 years to be "cautiously" optimistic about the entire process, I certainly did not feel that way during the wait nor did I feel that way when we finally brought our daughter home. I was everything but "optimistic".. there were too many unanswered questions and unknowns for me. I definitely felt "joy" but also felt a nagging sense of anxiety and depression which resulted in a loss of appetite, crying jags and major sleep deprivation. I don't know what I expected but my vision was definitely different from the reality of having a premature infant who had been in the NICU for 2 months living with us.

The truth is that no one can prepare you for the change that your life will undergo when you become a parent. We were told to get a good night's sleep the night before we brought our daughter home because it would be the last night we would probably sleep for the next 18 years ! What is so unique about the adoption experience is that one day you're not a parent and the next day you are an "insta-parent". This 'insta-parent" needs to know many of the same things that a biological parent does except there are more mounds of paperwork to deal with, there are birth family visits to coordinate, and there is also the constant wondering if you will ever bond with that little baby that you hold in your arms.If you also add on top of this list , the question of whether or not your child will have a permanent disability,your stress level has now gone from 0 to 100 in a short matter of time.

So this brings me to a topic that is not discussed very often (if at all) with prospective adoptive parents. That topic is Post Adoption Depression. Just as those that can produce a biological child, adoptive Moms and some Dads also can suffer from a form of Post Partum Depression named Post-Adoption Depression Syndrome of PADS. Although a lot it unknown about what the exact cause of this syndrome is, many believe that it is linked to a drop in estrogen after a child who is being placed for adoption comes home. This drop in estrogen can cause some of the symptoms that I mentioned above. If this affects you, it is not something that should be taken lightly. PADS can make you feel like there is no way that you could possibly be a "good" parent to your child. Fortunately, help is available in the form of a doctor, social worker or therapist. It is also always therapeutic (in my opinion) to talk to those that have experienced PADS first hand as well. As I have discovered throughout this journey, those that have experienced what you have make you feel less alone.

Hopefully, we will all become more educated on the post-adoption process as it warrants as much if not more attention than the adoption process itself.

Go out and have a great day !

Sunday, February 21, 2010

All the t' s are FINALLY crossed and the i's are dotted !

This weekend has been one of joyous celebration in our house as our daughter's adoption was finalized on Friday. It was very exciting to appear before the judge and see that all of the documents signed and that our daughter FINALLY legally has the name that we have given her. Not that we needed a piece of paper to tell us that our daughter is our child....we knew that the moment our eyes met hers. It's just nice to have all of the t's crossed and the i's dotted !

To say that this process has been long would be an understatement as our daughter came to live with us 16 months ago. Due to some circumstances that have been beyond our control and were in control of our beloved State of New York, the proceedings were delayed much past the originally promised date of February 2009. It's very difficult to not be in control of such an important event in your child's life but as always, Jason and I continued to have faith that one day we would see the end of this ordeal. God has once again provided us with all that we have needed in this situation to see it through and we are very grateful that it is done !

We still feel like this is a dream in some ways as we have waited so long for it to happen but one look into our precious baby girl's eyes tells us that this is very REAL and we wouldn't change a minute of the past 18 months if we tried.

Hope that all of you are doing well. Until we meet again...Keep The Faith !

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Balance Between Work and Motherhood...

As promised, I want to talk about balancing work with having a very active toddler after being home for over a year. My re-entry into the "working world" happened completely by surprise in November. The job that I am doing as an in-school tutor was only supposed to last until January 10th but as luck would have it, it has extended to the end of February. I have to admit that I DO love having a place to go each day where I can use my talents and skills as a Teacher in a school setting.

However, I have found that leaving our daughter in a daycare setting has been my most challenging job of all. Even though I know that this is an important step in her social/emotional development, I have "Mommy" guilt for leaving her anywhere but at home or in my arms.

I can't tell you that this has been an easy process because it hasn't. I've come to realize that I now have two very important jobs that I am trying to balance. Not that I didn't realize this before but when reality strikes, it really hits home.

What I have learned so far is that for ME working makes me a better Mom. I wish I was the type of woman who could be completely fulfilled all day with staying home but I am not. My brain needs to be stimulated in other ways and there is nothing wrong with that. It's just how I am and it's okay.

I ran across this awesome resume that I want to share with all of you. It really puts the job of "Mom" into perspective. Wouldn't that be awesome to have two resumes to submit every time that you applied for a new job? I hope that you enjoy this !

Motherhood: My Other Resume
January 20, 2010
by Amber Johnson of "The Life and Times of Stella"

I’ve jumped back into the freelance writing life in an effort to make a bit of money while I stay home with Stella Bella. This, of course, necessitated the updating of my resume.

It got me thinking. Some of my most impressive achievements and abilities will never grace the pages of this supposedly all-important document. And it seems like a shame. I am referring, of course, to motherhood–all that it requires. And with that, I present my other resume…


Mother, 8/17/08–present (lifetime commitment)

* Collaborate with Stella, Eleanor’s father (my husband), to ensure that she grows and thrives; oversee everything from basic maintenance, such as diaper changes and feeding, to high-level development including babbling, drooling, sitting up, laughing, and rolling/tummy time, with plans to teach her how to be kind, walk, use the toilet and drive
* Provide attention, protection, guidance and full range of entertainment services including peek-a-boo, tickling, general zaniness and impromptu songs, stories and farting noises
* Willingly put my daughter’s needs before my own while still taking care of self and providing excellent example of how to live life to the fullest
* Manage public relations; handle photography and mailing of seasonal cards and wellness updates; manage upkeep of Flickr account with near-daily shots of Stella to prevent extended family from suffering cuteness withdrawal
* Love that girl with all my heart, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year–even when her yelling reaches peak annoy-ability levels

Giver of Life, 8/15/08–8/17/08

* Gave birth to baby girl weighing 7 pounds and 7 ounces; filled with pure joy upon her arrival
* Kicked ass throughout 32-hour un-medicated labor during which baby’s head was transverse (sideways)
* Nearly broke husband’s hands with vice-like grip; will try harder next time

Grower of Human Being, 11/08–8/09

* Provided egg for successful fertilization; worried endlessly about fetus from moment of conception
* Attended prenatal yoga, birthing and parenting classes despite overwhelming exhaustion and overwhelmed bladder
* Ate enough cheese to feed all of Wisconsin for three years; consumed record amounts of grapefruit juice
* Tolerated the shooting of sharp pains up my rear-end for several months; withstood debilitating hip pain and baby’s roundhouse kicks
* Enjoyed pregnancy despite all of the above

Warrior, 10/08–02/09

* Assembled and coordinated a top-tier team of Seattle doctors, as well as two lactation consultants, an occupational therapist, nutritionist, dietitian and cranial osteopath
* Managed to maintain sanity when baby refused to eat; chugged olive oil and ate bacon in a valiant attempt to fatten starving, anxiety-ridden self and improve quality and caloric value of breast milk
* Mastered use of Supplemental Nursing System while successfully limiting use of the “f-word” to 400 times per day; managed insertion and maintenance of god-forsaken nasogastric feeding tube and associated god-damned pump and evil face tape and crap-tastic peripherals; sacrificed small but previously perky boobs to hospital grade breast pump
* Navigated labyrinth of hospital and health care challenges; slashed red tape and improved child’s outcome by 1000%; successfully argued case for the removal of nasogastric tube and executed successful tube weaning; produced a happier child and family as a result of round-the-clock efforts
* Analyzed growth charts, lab results and intake levels; conducted in-depth, terrifying online research on daughter’s condition and treatment


The Parental Institution of Barbara and Gregory Hescock

* Coursework in everything, with an emphasis on love, the value hard work, and a good sense of humor
School of Hard Knocks
* Classes included Terrible Mistakes, Bad Relationships 101, and The Awkwardness of Middle School

Sink or Swim Academy

* Curriculum revolved around parenting without anything resembling adequate preparation


General: Expert-level nurturing, crisis and conflict management, hazardous waste handling and sanitation, budgeting, soothing, teaching life skills and morals, child safety, nursery decorating, baby-wearing, silly face and nonsensical sounds mastery

Technical: Milk production, human creation, swaddling, rocking, one-handed diapering (experience with both formula and breast milk poop platforms), bottle maintenance, reflux abatement


* Contributed a new member to the human race
* Responsible raising of a kind, compassionate, contributing citizen
* Adept removal of screeching baby from public places, ensuring a peaceful community
* Addition to the world of a love that grows by leaps and bounds each and every day

Amber Johnson is a freelance writer, new mom, chronic worrier, and mac-and-cheese addict. Not necessarily in that order. She is working on a book about her experiences during her first year of motherhood, focused on her trials with breastfeeding, bottle feeding and even nasogastric tube feeding—and why, despite all the hoopla about how we should or should not feed our babies, we all should stop worrying so much. Really. Now all she needs is a publisher, and a glass of wine. Is that so much to ask?