More from the photo shoot

The photographer at Orrissa Photography just keeps giving us sneak peeks of baby Gisella during the photo shoot. Here are a few more as she works on putting them all together.




This one just melts my heart. I couldn’t stop looking at it yesterday.


Beautiful baby girl

Just had to share this

Gisella is having her first photo shoot today, obviously unimpressed with the entire thing but oh, so pretty in pink!

Baby care, food, socialization, and “doing breastfeeding”

After a few days away from Miss Ella, I had a voice mail from the son-in-law yesterday asking me to stop by after work. How could I not jump at the chance to see the granddaughter again.

Life with the newborn is having its ups and downs and at the moment it is a down phase. The new parents had an appointment with a lactation consultant yesterday. This was actually the first appointment time they could get as this lady is incredibly busy counseling new parents on the intricacies of breastfeeding.

What you ask? Isn’t breastfeeding natural? Don’t you just put the boob out in front of the baby’s mouth and mother nature takes over in a glorious and functional dance between mom and babe?

For some this scenario may be true. I tend to believe from all the discussion that has been happening in this household and among friends lately that the norm is far from this perfect scenario. I can attest to the fact that I didn’t feel like I actually got the hang of the entire process until it was time to breastfeed my third child. I struggled through the first one, who by the way is the new mom, continued to feel as if I was somewhat lost with the second child and finally with the birth of our last daughter could say that I was 90% comfortable with the knowledge I had gained in my earlier breastfeeding journeys.

What we seem to forget is that nature may design mom’s body to make milk for her child but both mom’s body and babies skills do not come naturally to the task of nursing. Of course some aspects are basic: the change over from colostrum to breast milk; some level of engorgement as this process kicks in; a typically natural rooting/suckling reflex within baby. What isn’t quite so clear or basic is how all this stuff works together, and sometimes it just doesn’t. No matter how hard mom and baby try. This process may be one of the very first encounters baby and new mom have with socialization and expectations around food in our society and we as a society, no matter how much we want to claim advanced technology and great interpersonal interaction do not provide adequate information to the new mom about this learned process.

It is a learned behavior for both mom and baby. Both of these key components in the process need to be schooled in just how to do breastfeeding, especially if it is going to be successful.

I will give credit to those new mom’s and exceptional babies who seem to get it right from the first latch on and never look back. I think those are few and far between though.

After this appointment yesterday the parents came away with a wealth of new information in which to tackle doing breastfeeding. They found that the long drawn out 48+ hour labor that was so hard on mom was also pretty darn difficult on Gisella, even though we assumed she had breezed right through it with fetal heart tones during labor that were steady and really outstanding; APGAR scores that were almost perfect; and a seemingly normal transition to life outside the womb. This little girl was tired, too darn tired even one week after birth, to nurse effectively. The ups and downs over the past week were Gisella’s huge efforts to learn this new job while trying to recover from a long, long labor, and as her parents can attest to and her weight drop clearly points out: doing breastfeeding was going to take on some clearly massive efforts to bring this little girl up to speed in the whole process.

I have to add and give credit to mom who has been so devoted to this child and to providing everything Gisella needs while still in recovery mode herself. She is now armed with information and tools to provide the best experience for her baby. Dad has been right there also and is even more a part of the process now as they both work with Gisella to master this new skill.

Without the help of the Lactation Specialist, Gisella and the new parents would have floundered in their attempts to figure out just what was needed. Even with my breastfeeding background and my role as an educator in pregnancy and birth, I was amazed at much of the information that was put in front of this couple. The specialist shared that she had spent longer and undergone more educational requirements to become a LS than she had when pursuing nursing.

These professionals spend hours learning the intricacies of doing breastfeeding, all the while knowing that each and every mom and baby is different and that their job is to dig and delve until they find a path that works for each individual and duo. They counsel, they teach, they nurture, they console, and they help mom’s and babies learn that breastfeeding is possible. It just often takes a whole lot of work.

They even sometimes bring into the picture that dreaded word that groups like La Leche League shudder at: formula.

I am all for LLL and their beliefs. I found information from their organization useful. They are mom’s who have successfully breastfed their children and learned what works. I also respect the message of the LS who understands that in some cases, while not promoting formula, it can be a tool for a short time. Ultimately, the suggestion of the LS are as individualized as her clients and her job is to bring about success in doing breastfeeding that is measured by a healthy baby and an educated, confident mom.

Gisella will figure out how to do breastfeeding, as will the new couple. The biggest downside is that it took over one week for this struggle to become apparent and move down a path to change. An early, initial encounter with a LS in the hospital left mom and baby with nothing more than a brief glance, a comment about not having any problems and a decisive dismissal that all would be fine. Thankfully the LS yesterday spent time with the couple and baby, asking and probing into the background and events of the past week. As the conversation was described to me last night, I could actually see the lightbulbs going off in the LS head as she heard about the struggles and efforts since birth.

I am thankful that this professional came into the lives of mom, dad and baby. They now have the knowledge needed to help grow baby Gisella into a strong, healthy girl.

A letter to an incredible woman

Dearest C,

Just over one week ago I was so privileged to witness the culmination of a turning point in your life. You became a mother for the first time.

The precious gift that you and C were pregnant presented to our family as a Christmas present just a few months ago was a moment that brought back so many memories of my first pregnancy with you. You had already accomplished so much in life and I was thrilled that your next accomplishment would be that of bringing your own daughter or son into the world.

You dedicated yourself to learning what was best for both you and your growing baby, making decisions and planning for the day when this little person would arrive. You reminded me so much of myself that at times it was like looking into a mirror.

Time passed and this little girl remained a stubborn force to be reckoned with while you held your ground and your beliefs. I watched you in the end undergo hours of determined struggle. At times it was easy to remove myself from the immediate realization that you were my daughter, not just my client. At other times it was all that I could do to stay as strong as you because you are my daughter.

I witnessed the birth not only of my grandchild, but of a powerful, strong and determined woman who when faced with unplanned decisions took control as is her style and new what was clearly the right thing to do. I watched you labor with a resolve to provide the best possible outcome for your daughter and you succeeded. I saw strength and courage flow from your body and was amazed when looking into your face that the tiny little baby I had held in my own arms was now such a fierce and powerful woman.

After our precious Gisella was born I know that I told you how proud I was of you but those words weren’t enough to describe what was really in my heart at that moment and what has continued to fill me with wonder and pride every time I have sat with you and your daughter in the last few days. You shared words, and thoughts and feelings with me and if I truly helped in the ways you mention to create the amazing woman you are today then I have done what I set out to do as your mom.

It is your turn now. It is up to you to teach your new daughter how to be strong, how to inspire, how to be capable and I know you will succeed. I see those same qualities in every movement you make, during every touch you give to Gisella, in every decision you have made since her birth. She will have no choice but to grow into an amazing woman herself with you as her guide. I will always be alongside you as I am with your brother and sister. There if you need me, but so ready to simply watch as you journey down your own path.

To my baby, my daughter, and to an awe-inspiring wife and mother-I love you.


Can someone explain this WordPress thing to me

I am sitting here trying to kill some time while I wait for my dinner to cook. Tonight it’s a lentil, sweet potato, tomato casserole. This is one of my favorites but I haven’t made it in quite a while. In fact, I haven’t really cooked in what seems like ages as a few other things have been occupying my time. Hint: one of those other things is named Gisella.

I love to look at the Freshly Pressed section just to see the diverse blogs that are chosen to be “pressed” as it were. I have found some there that I follow, some with interesting content and others that just don’t hold any interest for me.

I wandered into my stats page and found pleasantly that even during the time I was away from this blog, again preoccupied by the little waiting game of pre-delivery of the aforementioned Gisella, that people were still visiting here. Actually the visits were pretty consistent and I am surprised as I was ignoring this blog entirely.  Thus the title of this post.

Just what is it that draws someone into reading a blog post?

Personally, catchy titles draw me in as exemplified by my scanning of Freshly Pressed blogs that have proved either really interesting or not at all capable of living up to the flashy post titles that hook me in the first place.

Is it just the luck of catchy, crafty tags?

Do regular bloggers troll the site, looking for specific tags of interest?

Does anyone actually pay attention to the categories? I suspect so because when I post photos, or music related items in those specific categories I get hits from other bloggers who definitely partake in the same interests.

Why is one of my most regularly read posts the one I wrote about Dana Carvey and his spoof of The Church Lady on old version Saturday Night Live? Why of all posts does this one stand out?

I think I have asked this question before and obviously it still puzzles the heck out of me. I have to say thank you though, to all of you, whoever you are out there that continue to stop by this blog, even when I don’t write anything horribly profound, entertaining, important or correct. Even if you aren’t actively reading the blog, you are stopping by and I appreciate that.

I just wonder though, what is drawing you here in the first place? Where do you find me as you meander through the world of WordPress? What is it that catches your eye, that makes you specifically say to yourself “I think I will see what all this is about” when you scan results in a search engine and one of my tags pops up? Do you return and simply choose to remain anonymous?

My curiosity is piqued and I would love to encourage anyone who actually is drawn here to leave a short note telling me why. Just who am I reaching with this whole WordPress thing…


We watch them come and we watch them go

Barely home a few weeks and the wandering archaeologist has moved on again.

I can say one thing for this youngest child; she is determined to make her way on her own.

Discussions just after the end of high school regarding college living arrangements brought her to the final option of living with her sister and brother-in-law 5 minutes from her college campus. She passed those 2 semesters living reasonably comfortable and happy in their extra bedroom. For many reasons, both financial and personal, she was adamantly opposed to living on campus. It of course was highly encouraged by the college. One for reasons of much more money entering the coffers of the college bank account and two, because of that socialization process higher ed deems necessary for the well-rounded, successful adult they bring into the world.

Her rather non-traditional status of entering as a Junior rather than a Freshman pulled a little weight and her simple refusal to live the dorm life cemented her final place off campus.

Fast forward to a summer spent among new friends and colleagues in the desert lands of Oregon and suddenly isolation needs have tempered a bit. Finding herself living closely among males and females alike with only thin tent walls separating individual environments and taking communal showers behind a homemade walled structure that probably had little resemblance to any sort of modern bathroom facility has opened this students eyes to the joys of living among one’s peers or as I like to call it: The quintessential college living experience.

This particular child of mine has a unique habit of researching, planning and then simply announcing out of the clear blue that she has accomplished a life changing activity all perfectly well and good on her own and will not be letting the door smack her on the rear end as she exits her childhood home with little to no fanfare.

In other words from the moment she checked back into her upstairs bedroom after returning from Oregon her secret mission was to find a place, other than home, to live during this her final year of college. The reality is that this really isn’t surprising as it was clear she truly enjoyed the freedom of living on her own and did a pretty darn good job of it. What was different the first time around was that she wasn’t paying rent, wasn’t faced with doing all her own food shopping and cooking (sister and hubby shared food and meals often) and she wasn’t working at three jobs just to have the privilege of living independently.

Of course, this life changing event was taking place right around the time this new grandma was preoccupied with the birth of her new granddaughter so with a few ground rules laid down, the biggest being that her grades cannot drop and her studies take precedence over everything else, plus she has to make it on her own with only a small stipend from mom and dad for groceries each month, our youngest has moved into her dream college student home away from home.

The husband, who is the only one of the two of us who has actually dared to step foot into this new living space per my strong need to make sure she really wasn’t secretly planning to pitch her Oregon tent in some random open field, described the abode as “looking like a haunted house.”

Okay, I can live with that. At least he didn’t come home and say it looked like a crack house or a brothel. Or note a strong chemical smell emanating from the property as he arrived while roommates were cooking in hidden corners of the structure.

This child is really pretty level-headed, but also still relatively naive in many ways. I think it’s possible to be both isn’t it? She is smart, as in intelligent, but still not world wise, still not completely mature. She also possesses the personality to live on a whim. To literally throw a tent in her car, stop on the road somewhere and be completely happy. She can live without, reveling in the fact that she simply exists. Those are traits I envy but at the same time our world isn’t all goodness and light and honesty and truth. Some aspect of sanity has to reign supreme and because she is still under my proverbial thumb as it were being just 19 years old I have some say in what she does especially since her education is being funded in part by my paycheck.

When all was said and done she rounded up a few friends and packed up her Jeep with the basics meaning her mattress, linens, clothing, desk, stereo, incense and every single vinyl album she owns and moved out into the world on Wednesday. She will now be sharing a home with a number of fellow college students in an area that she loves, commuting to classes and work, paying rent, paying lots for gas to fill her guzzler of a Jeep and I am sure just generally feeling ecstatic beyond belief that she is on her own.

She knows the door is always open, her room hasn’t and won’t be turned into something resembling a craft room or grandchild’s playroom in the near future and if things go awry, she isn’t locked into a long-term lease.

And, like every other one of my children I know she will more than likely return come the end of May 2013 when college graduation has come and gone, a good portion of her income has ended and the reality of an adult job search is looming over her head. Until then I can’t think of anything more exciting and of greater educational benefit than having a glimpse into the real world of life as an independent adult.