Friday, May 14, 2010


Labels, labels, labels.

Story of my life.

Like most people I grew up with labels applied to me and all those around me.

I was The Only Child (well, the only in our household) and The "Nice" Girl, a term I preferred over That Fat Girl. I was also Smart and apparently Rich (I just think I acted kind of snotty). I was Quiet and Sensitive. All of these labels were applied to me, used in reference to me, and they created in the minds of others pictures of me, what I looked like, how I acted, who I was. Other labels such as Brunette or Tall or Artistic just added on extras. But they were labels, no doubt, whether positive or negative. People could group me easily with others using the various labels surrounding me and they, and sure enough sometimes they did.

I say this in order to put for the fact that labels are everywhere, even for Caucasian upper middle class folks with traditional nuclear families. The labels might have been less offensive (by a lot) but they were still there.

That being said....

Oh, labels.

Adopted. Adopted is a label. Adopted also makes my degree in English cry. My children were adopted not are adopted. Adopted is a past tense verb, not an adjective. The word you seek is adoptive. But saying "you're adoptive!" doesn't quite pack the same punch now does it? My children don't yet know what this means. Sure I speak with my older son frequently about such matters. And yet he's still small, still little enough that the term "adopted" is nothing more than a bare label with no substance behind it.

But it does mean something to other people.

To some people out there "Adopted" has a very negative connotation. Adopted. Not really part of your family. Never belonging. Unloved and unwanted. Cast aside. Charity case. "Lucky" child. Should be grateful child. Eternal child. Less rights. Less substance. Less background. Not to be taken as seriously. Not to be loved as much. Object. Bought and paid for. Adopted.

Of course, many people (most?), myself included, have different thoughts pop into our minds at the mention of the label "Adopted." Loved. Loved beyond reason. Accepted. Fate? Happiness. Joy. Strong. Painful history but a bright future. Fighter. Survivor. Apple of my eye. Willing to go to the ends of the Earth. Equal member in a family. Loved, loved, loved.

If only everyone saw it that second way....

There are more labels.

How about Black? My sons are black. Right now to a lot of people they're the cute little dark skinned boys who flirt and smile and laugh. But what happens when they're youths or teens or big, tall, strong black men? How many people out there have a positive connotation for the label of "adorable black boy" and yet have a very different connotation for "large black man?" How many people who see our older son running down the street in a mostly white neighborhood now, who smile and wave, will have a very different vision of him in 10 years when he's walking down the same street? And when is the cut off, when do I have to start worrying about people suspecting my son of "casing" their homes when he's simply walking back from the bus stop or walking to meet a friend? I wish I could believe this attitude didn't exist, especially not in my own highly diverse neighborhood, but the neighborhood listserve tells a very different story, one of police being called on black men for apparently no reason and neighbors tracking their path and trying to tie it to a string of robberies streets going on. It's disturbing to say the least. And when it comes to the young men reported on in the listserve very little information is given... except for the label of "black" and "man."

What about other labels? What about SPD? Paxton recently acquired this one. And oh, the frustration! I love knowing what's going on with him, I love being about to help him and our whole family, I love seeing him improve, getting into his mind, realizing we are far, far from alone in this. I love that we know the beast and we're defeating it.

But I hate the fact that we can be so easily written off now...

Because of that first label, Adopted, we've been written off before. We don't have a birth story or a record of his first steps, but more people won't hold that against us. What they will do, though, is stop listening to advice when it comes from someone where the child's label is vastly against their own child's label. My son was adopted, in their mind is adopted, so when I say that X helped in Y situation it's often like talking to a brick wall. When I ask for help with a behavior online and mention P's adoption I could hear crickets, yet when others ask roughly the same question and their child was born to them, bam, a dozen "me too!"s chorus in and the advice goes flying. It happens often, too often to be a coincidence. I know it's the label, and while yes there's a history behind the label it's the label itself that keeps people from seeing the real child, the real need.

And now with the SPD.... I almost want to scream. It's a label. A label for a series of events happening in my child's physio-neurological system. It's a diagnosis. His SPD did not start with the label but with the behaviors. And if you're child acts exactly the same as my child in just about every possible situation, but your child does not hold a diagnosis, please do not assume that my advice is somehow totally irrelevant. It's frustrating to say the least, especially when you know your own child could have continued to be undiagnosed and then they would have taken you seriously. Likewise their own child could very well be diagnosed with the same thing should they bring them to an evaluation, but I wouldn't normally say that unless I felt comfortable with someone. Like all the people who felt comfortable enough with me to urge me to take P to an evaluation.

I'm... getting off topic. I'm tired and a little frazzled and my mind is drifting elsewhere.

I will say this, though:

I'm still battling with labels. Not just the labels people apply to me or my children or my family, not just my understanding of said labels, but also the labels that I and others apply to other people. I myself am trying to stop the gut reaction to stop listening when someone with a child on the spectrum gives me advice, trying to open my mind and my ears and realize that behind the label, and behind the history leading to the label, there's a real human being with real functions, a real mind, a real heart, and I could learn from this child and their family. I'm trying to stop labeling people myself, stop grouping people so much, and see people, adults and children alike, as whole individuals who may hold several dozen labels, even labels that contradict, and who behind all the labels are real, complex people.


Not much to report in real life land. Ambrose has been sitting up for a couple weeks now and is more interested in rolling over than crawling. My BIL Alex walked at graduation from UNC this past weekend and the whole family went. P loved the square hats and was present for the hat throwing. Went to a pot luck at P's school Weds and agree to be their new Parent/Teacher Coordinator for the next school year. Also on Thurs went in early for a Mother's Day Brunch. P was excited I came and showed off his gifts for me: a flower in a painted pot, a huge card and a painted handprint. Ambrose has been sitting in highchairs finally which will make going out a lot easier, only he expects to eat constantly when there. Last night we gave him his first taste of Kik Alicha and Misser Wat. He loved both :) This weekend is super busy but I'm looking forward to it, and our new bed arrived in 3 boxes. We're halfway done building the drawers and then this weekend it'll be the frame. I'm excited to finally have room in the bedroom!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

So much, so much!!

Just soooo much to talk about and so little time (or brain energy anyway) to post!

Today our sweet baby boy turns 7 months old. And man he is a peanut! He's just under 25th percentile for height and weight, but 95th for head circumference! He's all head! Personally I want him to gain some weight so I've started to up solids. Last time, when he went from 75th to 40th or so, I increased the domperidone. This gave him green poop. So I think he's getting enough milk... but I would feel more comfortable if he were a tad bit chubbier! I could probably write a whole long post just about that, about how things like this harken back to my need to be a "perfect" mother in order to feel like I'm fulfilling my promise to my children's first families, and then there's the whole entitlement issues that plagued me for that first year or so that creep in from time to time... but let's not go there. Let's just say that I'm increasing his solids and he looooooves it! He was taking an ounce or so a day but at 7 months some people are giving their kids ounces in the double digits! I'm aiming for 4-6oz/day myself, in 2 oz meals (so far 2 two oz meals a day plus snacks). He's taken up to 4 oz of solids at a time, though, after nursing then nursing again like an hour later. His solids intake does not seem to affect his nursing schedule in the least, which is good from a supply issue but bad from an "OMG just let me sleep more than 2 hours straight pleeeeease!!!" standpoint.

And yeah, that's how sleep is going. He was doing better and then the past few nights, perhaps even the past week, he's been really really active. Like he's waking up every 1-1.5 hours and he's actually AWAKE awake, not just groggy awake. Like bright eyed and bushy tailed and kicking his legs and smacking me and goo-ing and gah-ing and lot's of gheee-ing and some rolling around. Probably related to developmental milestones (just in the past couple days he's started to sit up unassisted for about half a minute). Or teething. Or whatever. The bad thing is that, well, we're tired. And because Nik stays up with him at night to let me get some sleep AND takes both boys in the morning so I can get some extra sleep, I really don't like waking him during his like 6 hour sleep timeframe unless I absolutely cannot move my limbs. So from midnight to 6:30am he's mine, sometimes even sooner if Nik himself is too exhausted to keep him later. So I'm up every hour with him and we're stuck in this awful rut. He wakes up and stays up and it slowly rouses me from sleep to wakefulness. I finally fully wake up and get out of bed with him, walk him around as he coos and cuddles, rock him in the chair, whatever. Then he passes out and I'm fully awake. Me, miss insomniac, who takes an hour to fall asleep. Can you guess what happens here? Yeah, I lay there totally awake while he snoozes, then finally just as I'm back to sleep he wakes up and it starts again. It's been like that for several days and last night (this morning?) I could hardly move my legs I was so tired. Getting him to the rocking chair was quick perilous...

But like all things, we'll survive this.

Oh, and we're surviving SPD too.

In fact, quite well I think.

A book I've been reading, Sensational Kids, talks about reframing: looking at the child in a different light. It was hard work at first but I'm really coming to accept that the behavioral stuff we see and don't like almost always has a physical basis in Paxton. We're seeing proof of this now that we know what to look for. Afternoon tantrums are put at bay by simply making him go to the bathroom. Sudden rushes of hyper activity are quelled by a 20 minute sports training style race. Morning melt downs are just about nil if we give him a cup of yogurt and a straw, and the pre dinner whinings are staved off by a snack of baby carrots and hummus. He's falling asleep for nap and bedtime with a higher success rate and waking up more refreshed, all thanks to the weighted blanket. And knowing what's going on with him lets us talk to him about it too. He only understands a little bit but he's very good about using his words to express himself so he can tell us if he's suddenly feeling "jitter-jittery."

We don't have a set sensory diet yet for him but we're getting there. The OT used a brush last time that really seemed to help him, as did the therapeutic listening program. We're also thinking aromatherapy might be in order given how frequently he talks about smells (though they don't seem to dissuade him from eating food or anything, which is the big worry there).

And personally I find myself generally calmer with him. It's just easier to be around him and deal with his particularities knowing that he's not choosing when he acts out or wakes his baby brother in a burst of noise and energy. And it's also helpful to realize, through reading, that he's pretty much neurotypical in social situations and on the playground. So that makes me happy :)


We had our homestudy renewal visit a few days ago, Saturday afternoon. We were really low key about it. Guess that's how it is with your third! We're not planning to accept a referral any earlier than October, and the program moves quickly, so we're taking our sweet time putting everything together. It'll probably take us the next 5 months to put all the paperwork together though, at least with the two kids running around :)

Oh, and we're starting to baby proof and spend $$ on the house. We're likely going to take out a loan for Z's adoption and then pay the loan off after we get Brozy's tax credit next spring (which might be when Z is coming home anyway). Hopefully there won't be too many months in there where we'll be paying loan fees and interest... But in the meantime, we bought a new bed and we'll be selling our antique giant bed and dresser to make some room in our bedroom. Our new bed is a storage bed, with 6 drawers under it. We'll likely be buying a Kanoe hammock for Brozy to sleep in since he's not so happy with the bassinet or crib. We're getting rid of all the blinds with cords and putting up roller blinds (two of which already broke!), and we're doing general baby proofing. Baby gate for top of the stairs was ordered yesterday (sigh... not looking forward to that!). If Brozy is suddenly sitting up then next step is crawling... he's just growing so fast!

And a year from now he'll be toddling around while I (hopefully) nurse a new little bean in my arms, and P will be finishing up preschool for good and preparing for kindergarten! Time didn't move this quickly until we had kids...