Monthly Archives: September 2011

Pick me! Pick me!

Being a carnival sheep again, with this week’s theme “Talkin’ Bout Donor Sperm.”

We’ve talked about this topic many times in previous entries, so I’ll sum it up here. Choosing sperm was not hard for us. We both felt right off the bat that there was no one we knew, either closely or not, that we wanted as a known donor. It just didn’t feel like the right decision. In fact, we viewed sperm as just one missing ingredient in the creation of our child, and not much more than that. We knew the ingredient we needed would be the product of some college-aged guy jerking off into a cup for money. And that was perfectly fine with us. I’m all for people making money in ways that benefit others. However, since we had some choice in the matter, we did think about what would be important to us regarding half of the genetic make-up of our child. Mainly, since Nutella would already be contributing half of her genetic material, we wanted the other half to be as similar as possible to me, if I had a penis. We wanted a guy who was on the shorter side, with red hair and blue eyes, either musical or artistic talent, and decent intelligence. Beyond that, the other things we wanted for our child could only benefit him or her- good eyesight and teeth, and a clean bill of health both physically and mentally. This left us with a small group of donors at the bank we chose. We whittled the group down further because Nutella was CMV- so our donor had to be as well. We did have a wonderful guy picked out, but we didn’t go with him because schizophrenia was in his family background (as it is in Nutella’s as well). So we went with another guy we liked, whom we refer to as Eagle Scout.

We chose anonymous sperm *gasp* Again, we saw the whole process as us missing a key ingredient to get pregnant, no daddy figure needed and no daddy figure wanted, present or future. Yes we made this decision for our son, but parents frequently make decisions that limit or deny a child’s preferences. It was what we felt comfortable with, although we would always be honest with our son about his roots, our decision, and share with him the booklet we got about the donor, including answers to questions written in the donor’s own hand. For a long time, we thought to ourselves, “Well, if the donor hadn’t chosen to be anonymous, we wouldn’t have chosen him in the first place, and Curly wouldn’t be who Curly is.” That is wholeheartedly true. Unfortunately, and I’m not getting into it again here because we’ve already been through that song and dance on this blog, the donor changed his mind and is now willing to be contacted when Curly turns 18. So, in the same sense that we had taken that decision from Curly, now it’s taken from us. Boo-ya.

As the non-bio mom, I never felt slighted by the process of Nutella getting pregnant without my help (although it was definitely with my support), and with some random guy’s spooge. We didn’t feel the need to do inseminations at home, although we considered it. It was all very scientific, but exciting to us, and again, that was fine. I’m not going to be sad about not having been able to contribute my DNA to our child because that’s just how nature is set up. And with all that said, Curly couldn’t be more different than Nutella! She was having full-on conversations with strangers by 18 months but barely walking by then. She was independent to the point of being obnoxious. She was loud and proud and boisterous and Curly….not so much. In fact, Curly is much more like me, even though I had nothing to do with it. Of course, the thumb sucking sure seems genetic…

He does look like a good combination of the both of us though, and we were really going for that. Nutella did want a redheaded son to match her redheaded wife, but he has beautiful blonde curls. Very light skin, but very dark eyes. Beautiful lips and a great smile. People usually can’t tell who the bio mom is, and sometimes based on his hair alone, they incorrectly guess it’s me.

So any way you make your decision… you get what you get! Thanks, donor man.

Accepting a share of what’s there

We’re going to “unofficially” join in on the blog carnival theme that’s been going around, partially because it’s a great theme to read and write about, and partially because I have sheep tendencies, baaaaa. Admittedly, it’s a hard topic to write about when it appears that so many blogland relationships/marriages are experiencing a lot of trouble, sometimes to the point of being irreparable, while ours just…never felt in any sort of peril. But that’s all the more reason TO write about it, especially since there are other couples out there who are expecting and have been pretty scared by what they’re seeing/reading.

Our relationship is over 8 years old, and we were married in a ceremony over 5 years ago. I’m not sure when in that time we talked about splitting up responsibilities, household chores, finances etc, but we must have to get to this point, where it seems that we each have our own roles and things to take care of, and it’s come to a point where we’re so used to it, we almost take it for granted. Almost. There will never be a day when I don’t thank Nutella for making dinner, even though that’s her arena anyway. And she will always compliment my awesome grass-cutting or bathroom sink cleaning skills.

That just leads in to how we treat each other. We’re good to each other…supportive, loving, trusting. In the past 8 years, I have never not wanted to curl up next to her at the end of the night. It’s still usually the best part of my day (unless that day was REALLY good for whatever reason). We almost always check in with each other, and on the rare occasion we don’t, the non-sharer might get an earful about it. We are huge on communication and compromise. Peace-keepers, the two of us. This is not to say we never fight, but we both hate doing so and strive to get back to a place of calm and agreement. Just as we have no problems calling each other out on any bullshit, we’re also never too proud to offer a sincere apology.

I’m getting off-topic, sorry. If you haven’t been reading Vermillion for a while, you may not know that I did not necessarily see myself as the parent to a child (a chihuahua, yes, a child not so much). Nutella waited until I felt more ready and when we took the plunge and began the TTC journey, I made an oath to myself, and to Nutella, that I would be in it 100%. It was an easy thing to say, not knowing the half of it, but over 2 years later…well, over 3 if you count TTC and pregnancy, I do believe I’ve kept to my word. The equality and split of responsibilities we always had in our relationship continued as we navigated the waters of parenting our son together.

It hasn’t always been easy…first, taking care of a newborn then infant and now toddler, and secondly, learning how to do it together. In the early days, we dealt with pretty much no sleep for 3 full weeks, and then several nightly wake ups for weeks after. We would sob on each other’s shoulders in the wee hours of the morning because nothing would make him stop crying. He was a terrible breastfeeder and I committed the grave sin of suggesting we switch to formula more than once. I never felt “left out” though. Curly breastfeeding meant I had some lovely time to myself (usually filled with chores). When Nutella went back to work after her 12 weeks, I took the full 12 weeks FMLA so I could bond with our son even more. I found it really difficult because he was fairly high needs, but I was committed. The second Nutella walked in the door every day I would hand him to her, but she would gladly take him, having missed him all day. Things got easier the older he got, but there’s always something. It ain’t easy.

We have different ways of dealing with him. I have a shorter temper and am a firm disciplinarian (I sound like a drill sergeant!) but I tend to get way goofier and more much physical when playing with him, which he adores. Nutella is much more nurturing and creative. We make a very good team as long as we respect each other’s differences when dealing with him. Truthfully, not doing so has caused some bumps here and there, but nothing extreme. We have always fully trusted each other as caretakers to him, which allowed us to enjoy our time “off” as well. And that’s something else important that we give each other- the ability to continue to enjoy the things we did pre-child, such as happy hours, shopping trips, outings with friends or alone, etc. And of course, we employ babysitters at least twice a month so we can have couple time, with or without other friends. Those things didn’t really happen until he was over a year, but we realized we needed them to be happy.

I remember the first time we went out together, when he was a couple weeks old. We left him with a set of grandparents at our house while we went to a nearby restaurant, snacked on tortilla chips and sipped sangria. We said things like ‘Doesn’t this feel weird now?’ and ‘Oh my god, it’s so quiet and nice.’ We relished our time together and still do every single time we go out together. Nutella is my absolute favorite company hands-down.

I’ve written a lot and I don’t really know if I covered even half of it. I do know that we were lucky we got a good sleeper, as well as a happy and healthy child, and that makes a big difference. But what also makes a difference is that Nutella and I are a great fit. Not a perfect fit, I don’t think that exists, but a truly great one. We “get” each other and we know we’re both in this together, come what may. Becoming parents has changed us and our lives in many ways, but it hasn’t diminished our love for each other, not a bit.

The Test of Time

We thought we’d share some products that we’ve been using, or are certain we will continue to use for over 1 year (which, considering our son is only 2+ years, is a large portion of his life so far). Hopefully this will help others who are expecting or have littler ones…

ERGO baby carrier (used for 22+ months)

We didn’t start off with the Ergo because it was expensive, but we regret having spent money on cheaper carriers instead of going with this one from the start. I think we got it when he was around 6 months old and we still use it today, although considering our height/weight and his height/weight, those days are finally wearing thin. Bottom line is that this is the most comfortable carrier but with one drawback- no front-facing. However, the back-carry has been absolutely worth its weight in gold even if it’s a little difficult to put on.

Safety 1st Recline n Grow Booster Seat (used for 22+ months)

We received this item before he was born and have been using it ever since he started solids at 5.5 months. It is still going strong today! It straps on to any chair (fully adjustable) so it’s a space saver. It is easy to clean, the back is adjustable, the “feet” are adjustable, and it is so easy and convenient to travel with. We love this seat and couldn’t imagine ever needing another chair.

KidCo PeaPod Plus Travel Bed (plan to use for at least 2 years)

I’ll disclaim this first by saying that a) we used a pack n play for the first year and it had its benefits and b) we know some kids just don’t like this item, but ours loves it. We’ve been using it for a few months now and foresee using it until he’s past 3, maybe even 4 years old. It’s his “sleeping tent”, perfect for travel since it’s small and lightweight, helps keep light out and minimize distractions for nap and bedtime. It’s our must-have for vacations or sleep-overs now and had we known how awesome it would be, we would’ve registered for it from the start.

Green Sprouts Straw Cups (used for 20+ months)

This is our cup of choice and we have 5 of them in various colors. We started using straw cups at around 8 or 9 months old since he wouldn’t take a sippy. We’ve tried at least 5 different brands and this is by far our favorite. Very easy to clean, even dishwasher safe (cup and lid go up top and straw can go in with the utensils or you can easily clean with a pipe cleaner) They are the most leak-free, although as with all straw cups, very cold liquid in a warm house may come out of the straw due to pressure. Loosening the cap slightly usually solves this problem. He can open and close the straw cap by himself.

Organic fruit and veggie pouches (used for 18+ months)

Every now and then, our son will deign to eat a vegetable, but he’ll never turn down a suckable sweet puree like these, which contain a full serving of veggies with no artificial additives. Plus they are very convenient to travel with and frequently found on sale ($1 a pouch) at BRU. It’s been over a year now and he still loves them. You can also feed on a spoon to the younger ones, or mix into yogurt smoothies- mmm, healthy!

Chicco Umbrella Stroller (used for 24+ months)

This is pretty much the only stroller we have ever used/needed. We began when he was 4 months old and today, he will crawl into it himself and all but buckle himself in. It is not the most wonderful stroller in the world, but it’s been perfect for us- around 10lbs, collapsible, has a small storage compartment underneath, a shade (which we don’t use anymore since he likes to wear hats), and comes in nice bright colors. It’s hardy enough for a little off-roading and the tires are a little bigger than other comparable strollers we’ve seen.

GroVia Hybrid Diapers (used for 20+ months)

These are our diaper of choice. Using a hybrid was a compromise- we started off with gDiapers and they started leaking and becoming a pain at around 8 months. Then we got these and haven’t looked back. There are two parts- a cute cloth cover and a sticky insert with great coverage. Leaks are pretty much a thing of the past now. The velco has held up wonderfully for over a year and they’re still looking and feeling great. They’re total space-savers, too- we can pack just 4 covers and 2 handfuls of little folded inserts for a weekend trip.

Halo Early Walker Sleep Sack (used for 14+ months)

Let me first say that this thing looks weird/funny, but for us it’s been a lifesaver because it keeps him out of his diaper! So if you’ve got a kid like ours who thinks it’s his job to put a hand down there or pull the diaper off, you might want to get one of these. Another bonus is that can be worn for extra warmth in cold months, especially if your kid is prone to chucking their blanket out of the crib. Comes in a lightweight mesh or fleece.

Melissa & Doug Stacking Train

We don’t know what it is about this toy, but for the last 18+ months, he hasn’t gotten sick of it.

Anything our readers want to add in the comments? Products that you’ve been using for over a year?

It’s you!

Curly started in the 2’s room at school and aside from the fact that it’s been raining every day and thus no playground time, he’s enjoying himself.  It’s a class of 12 with 2 full time teachers and a floater.  That takes a special kind of person.  In “cute things my toddler does now” news, Curly has recently started pointing out certain things he sees TO those things if he has them in his possession. For instance, if he is playing with his baby doll and sees a picture of a doll, he’ll say ‘It’s you, baby!” or if he’s playing with his Thomas Engine and spots his Thomas book, “It’s you, choo choo!” He also does this with pictures of Mommy and Ima, Elmo, whatever. Kind of adorable. He’s also gotten much more imaginative with his playing and drawing- it’s nice to see those skills blossoming.

Below are two videos of Curly, demonstrating such cuteness.

And, in other happy news…. I got a new job!!  It’s with the same (very large) employer but a totally different division.  And it means no more 14 hours days or 14 hour Saturdays!  The transition is a bitch and I feel really sad to be leaving some of my old team, but overall I am very excited!