Stay-at-home dads are becoming more and more common. Hy-zah! I’m married to one myself. Just as stay-at-home moms have to fight tooth-and-nail for respect, so, too, do daddies. No one explains this better than Mike in his post POSITION AVAILABLE: STAY AT HOME PARENT! Great analogy!
I Might Just Like This Parenting Thing Wednesday, August 6, 2008
It’s not too often, it seems, that one hears all the good things about having a baby. I was seriously impressed with Heather‘s post today on The Spohrs Are Multiplying called I Might Just Like This Parenting Thing. Check it out!
Becoming a new mommy and bilingual babies! Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Hi Mommy 4-1-1,
I am 23 weeks pregnant with my first little one. I have to say it was a bit of a surprise to find out we were pregnant. My husband and I were in the stage of starting to talk about it when VOILA on a vacation to South Beach I realized it had already happened. We felt lucky to have been able to get pregnant so easily and I have had a wonderful pregnancy thus far. I love watching my belly grow, and the baby is getting big enough where now I can actually see my stomach bounce up when he/she (we aren’t finding out!) kicks!
As the months pass and the time approaches when this little baby will enter our world, my husband and I are trying to get everything prepared. By that I am not referring to what color I want to paint the baby’s room, it’s more about what kind of parents do we want to be? How will we make sure to raise a bright, curious, cultured, socially responsible child? Top on our list is to make sure the baby is bilingual.
I was born in the Dominican Republic and spent my childhood between Los Angeles and my hometown of Santiago. During the school year I was the Americanized version of myself, and then summer would come and my entire family would pack up and get ready for Dominican. Those summers are the greatest memories I have of my childhood and I remember almost feeling like I had two lives. I rejoined my Dominican friends and Spanish once again came naturally, so much so that by the end of the summer I was thinking and dreaming in Spanish. I loved having that special experience that none of my US friends had. I loved being able to meld completely into two entirely different worlds. I want my baby to have the same multi-cultural experience, especially in this increasingly global world in which we live. The benefits of being able to speak Spanish and English are still paying off. I have been able to travel and live in multiple countries. It has made me so curious and open to the rest of the world.
I am so passionate and so determined to raise my baby bilingually that my sister-in-law Nathalie and I started a company to help other parents do the same. Nathalie and my brother Carlos are already raising their two children bilingually. We launched Professor Pocket, www.professorpocket.com , in 2005 and it’s been a wonderful journey. We produce Spanish/English CDs that use a combination of very funny storytelling and catchy songs to get both parents and their children excited about learning a second language. The key is to introduce the language early on. Children are little sponges, it is amazing how quickly they absorb what they hear. As a Spanish speaker my goal is to speak to the baby only in Spanish while my husband will speak in English. It may be intimidating for parents who don’t speak another language to introduce a second language to their child, but it is possible and I wanted to share my top tips for raising bilingual children….
1. Don’t be afraid!
Even if you don’t speak the second language, look for products, like Professor Pocket, that make language learning a fun and interactive process for both parents and children. As a parent you can learn along with the child.
2. Be consistent!
Make sure your child hears the new language every day, it’s the only way they will learn. Books and audio CDs are a must as well as everyday conversation.
3. Make it fun!
If it isn’t fun for you and the child, you are less likely to be consistent in your introduction. Music and stories are a great way to keep the child engaged while they learn.
4. Have no fear, your child will still learn English!
There are so many incorrect fears that introducing multiple languages will only confuse the child and delay their development of their English language skills. This is not true! Beyond becoming bilingual your child will show superior problem solving and math skills, increased overall school performance, and better cross-cultural understanding.
If you are interested in this topic here are some other sites to check out…
Bilingual/Bicultural Family Network
Teaching and Learning Spanish
Coping with Loss Thursday, July 31, 2008
The time span between the births of my first and second child is almost 4 years. More like 3 years, 11 months and 28 days, or something like that. A long time in the grand scheme of having children. It was not planned that we would have kids so far apart in age. Two years sounded good to us, and considering that we basically said “let’s try to have a baby” and got pregnant with our first, we didn’t think that we’d have trouble conceiving our second. We were wrong.
It took 8 months to get pregnant again after Meg was born. It was a relief for us, and we were so excited that we started telling people. Even our 2 1/2 year old daughter. Then around 9 or so weeks, I started spotting. A quick trip to the doctor told the truth~no heartbeat. I was devastated. I forced my husband to tell my parents, and my office. I had the D&C, and tried to move on. It was not easy. The nurse at my OB’s office gave me the name of someone I could speak with, but I chose to ignore her advice. Luckily, Meg didn’t really understand what had happened, and still to this day doesn’t know.
So, we waited the appropriate amount of time, and started trying again. Six months after the first miscarriage, I was pregnant again. Because of the first miscarriage, I had an early ultrasound. Again, no heartbeat. Not only was I devastated, I was angry. Really, really angry. We hadn’t told anyone this time around, but my coworkers had figured it out and I had to explain to them. And then my family, because I had to have another D&C. I still didn’t speak to anyone about it, even though I had the slip of paper with the name and number on it. I had my doctor run tests, which all came back negative. It was one of those times where “things just happen.” I still had a hard time believing that I could get pregnant, but not stay pregnant, after having such an easy time with Meg. Angry, angry, angry.
When I did finally get pregnant with Drew a few months later, I was petrified. Again with the early ultrasounds. A baby, with a heartbeat. A good, strong heartbeat. Then, at about 12 weeks, I started spotting again. Angry, angry, angry. A trip to the doctor revealed a healthy baby, accompanied by a blood clot which was bleeding out. Nothing to worry about. Drew was born 3 days after Christmas, healthy and ready to rock and roll. I’ve never been so relieved.
Looking back, I realize that I didn’t cope well with the loss of those two pregnancies. I was angry at just about everyone, including my husband. I know that it wasn’t his fault, it wasn’t my fault, but I was still angry. I didn’t have the girlfriends that I do now, so I didn’t really talk to anyone. I had a pregnant co-worker who bitched ALL THE TIME about being pregnant and how she just wanted to drink wine, and I basically didn’t speak to her for months on end because she was having a baby that she didn’t seem to care about, and I was desperate to get and stay pregnant. Oh, what our minds do to us when we’re sad. So with some hindsight, this is what I can suggest as someone who has been through it, to anyone who may being going through it or knows someone who is going through it:
1. Find someone to talk to. Not your spouse, because really, they are as helpless as you are in the whole situation. If your doctor recommends someone, go to them. Or a girlfriend who will listen and not judge. Because you’re hurting and you need some love.
2. If you have a friend going through this, just hug them and listen. Do not say things like “it was meant to be” or “what do you think went wrong” or a whole host of other things in that vein. Hugs. That is what your friend needs. I have two wonderful girlfriends from college who live away from me, and they sent me a beautiful dried flower arrangement to hang on my wall and it reminded me that they love me no matter what.
3. Don’t blame yourself. I didn’t do anything out of the ordinary and I still had two miscarriages. And with the second one, I had an inkling it might happen again. My body didn’t feel “right”. Having all those tests run put me in control of my situation and forced me to stop thinking that I had done something wrong, or that I deserved what was happening to me.
4. Cry. Cry, cry, cry. If you can’t talk to someone, make sure you let it out. Because it will eat away at you. Women are not superheroes, nor should we pretend to be. We’re human and sometimes we need to cry.
5. Have a great OB. My OB and her staff were wonderful. She agreed to the tests, although she and I both knew that nothing would come of them. She called me personally to check on my after my D&Cs. She wasn’t judgmental or uncaring. If your OB makes you feel bad, find a new one. No one should minimize what you’re going through.
It’s been several years since my miscarriages, and I even managed a successful twin pregnancy after Drew’s birth. There are times when I wonder “what if?” I wish I had looked beyond myself a bit and gotten some help. I hope that these suggestions help. Know that it does eventually get better. It just takes time.
The Continuation of Heather’s Story Friday, July 25, 2008
If you’ve read Heather‘s posts on Mommy 4-1-1, Bed Rest and PPROM, and don’t read her blog, you may wonder what came next. Here is the continuation of Maddie’s story from her mommy’s perspective. If that doesn’t suck you in to the world of the Spohrs, then this post surely will.
26 and 3/4 Weeks Thursday, July 17, 2008
Twenty six and three quarter weeks” said my doctor to the nurses at the hospital the night that Sara was born. That is how pregnant I was.
It had been a very quick and exciting pregnancy. I had just had my IUD taken out after three years and was trying to decide on what form of contraception to use next. The pill made me depressed and the IUD made me bleed all the time and condoms broke. I get pregnant easily so it wasn’t a surprise when I was pregnant again. I had three children at the time; ages 10, 8 and 4. But I was surprised to be growing so quickly and feeling movement at 10 weeks.
Before I went to the doctor I hit the library to see if I could figure out why this was so different. Polyhydramnios? Uterine tumor?
The doctor sent me immediately to get an ultrasound. Back in 1979, things were not as sophisticated as they are now and techs were not as well trained. But it was only a day later the Doc rang me to say,
“You better play the lottery, you are having twins!”
We were thrilled! Our families were thrilled and we started planning how to make our tiny three bedroom house bigger. I looked at twin strollers and picked out names. In those days the sex of the baby wasn’t easily determined so I had to pick 2 girl names, 2 boy names and one each that I liked over the others. I had Colin and Christopher, Sian Marie and Cesara, with Colin and Cesara as the top boy-girl combo.
I wasn’t told to take any special care, as twins are pretty common-place. I didn’t bleed or even feel more tired just got bigger and bigger. One day my mother in law said to me,
“You look like you are having a litter. Are you sure it’s just twins?”
I bought more maternity clothes when I was five months and went to a Halloween party as a pumpkin- the GREAT Pumpkin!
The babies never stopped moving. I had constant bumping and poking. In the middle of the night I could feel tiny elbows? knees? One night I woke up in tremendous pain and I struggled to get out of bed. The right side of my tummy felt paralyzed. I rang the doctor and he told me that it was just my muscles and bones stretching. It never came back and I asked him about it next checkup. His wife, who was his nurse, treated me quite rudely when I asked her.
“You’re having twins! Do you know how many women have twins?”
The kids were pretty excited especially the girls, Jenny and Lissa. Alex, being four was more interested in his Transformers.
On December 9th, 1979, the pain came back. It was excruciating. I called the doctor. He thought it might be muscle strain. Then I went to bathroom where my water broke, it was very bloody. We were at my in-laws having a birthday dinner for me.
We left for the hospital and were immediately whisked to the labor room. By this time I was contracting every ten minutes. The nurse put two heart monitors on me. One nurse, Donna was trying to find the heartbeats and noted,
“There are heartbeats all over you!”
By now it was pretty obvious that I was going to have babies that night. They called the neonatal hospital; Cornell Medical Center at New York Hospital. I was scared, for me, for the babies and my children at home if anything happened to me. It was weird, like slow motion inside of me but all around me things were happening very quickly.
Nurse: “Dona, when did you last eat?”
Me: “About an hour ago. I had roast pork, potatoes and birthday cake.”
Nurse: “Oh, great. Tell me you have a cold.”
Me: “I do.”
My husband stayed by my side, clutching my hand as we listened to the noisy “boom ba boom” heartbeats of our babies.
It was decided that a c-section would be less stressful for the babies and I asked Donna to baptize them for me. She was Jewish but she understood. My husband was Roman Catholic and I am a Methodist so it was for his family I asked.
“Baby A and Baby B okay?” she asked. I was wheeled into the operating room where they told me they would put me under and wake me quickly.
When I woke I was still on the table and a nurse took my head and turned it.
“You had triplets,” she said, “See?”
I didn’t have my glasses on. I saw a blur of nurses and doctors hunched over a table.
Triplets? How did that happen? I was taken back to another hospital room where my pediatrician and obstetrician were waiting with my husband. I can’t remember any pain, I was alert. The doctor said the Team from NY hospital was there and they wouldn’t take the babies if there wasn’t any hope. I would be able to see them before they left. DR. P said that 2 of the babies were in good shape but one was not. Baby A, now Erinn, was lousy. It is a medical term. We named Baby B, Sian Marie and Baby C was Cesara. They put three baby wristbands on my arm. Each one matched the ones on the babies. They were identical girls having been in one amniotic sac.
They were born at 10:04 pm, 10:05 pm and 10:06 pm. It was now 10:45 pm. Dr P came and went and then stood close to my bed to tell us little Erinn (2lbs. 7 oz.) had died.
My thoughts went immediately to Sian Marie and Cesara and I closed my eyes. I saw two tiny girls in pink bonnets walking away from me. My daughters walking in front of me? Away from me?
I couldn’t dwell on it because the next thing that happened was I met my babies as they prepared to take them away. I heard the beeping noise on monitors. First, Sian Marie, tiny girl, black hair and the softest skin I have ever felt. I put my hand into her tiny one.
Her tiny mouth was open and gasping under all the tubes and wires. She was very warm and very pink. Cesara’s hands were waving all around so I touched her little cheek which was also warm and pink. They both weighed 990 grams (2lbs. 3 oz.). Then it was good bye.
The doctors from NY hospital gave us a booklet, phone numbers, they said to call us anytime to talk to the nurses and try to come down ASAP. We lived 60 miles away.
What a night. I was still very alert and I can’t remember if I slept. I talked to my kids the next day. Gramma C had told them they had triplet sisters but they now knew it was twins. I remember thinking, “Well, we have 2. Now what do we say? Are they twins? Are they triplets? How do we explain that?”
I don’t remember how I got through the next day. My husband came to visit and then went down to NY. He came back in the evening to report the girls were in very professional hands. The nurses treated him very kindly and told him to call night or day. I was jealous.
Each day my pediatrician would come in for a report and explain to me what was happening. Cesara and Sian were born on a Sunday and in addition to visiting me and being Mr. Mom, my husband was also ringing the hospital three times each day.
I seemed to recover very quickly. This was my second c-section and I realized the pain was so much less, maybe because my heart was in so much pain. We had 2 daughters to hope for and one to mourn. My three other children were home without me and as a mom; we always come last in caring for ourselves. But I was well cared for. The staff at St Luke’s was awesome.
Tuesday afternoon the NY hospital called my husband and urged him to come down. Sian was having some major issues with breathing and bleeding. He left immediately. Then an hour later they rang me to ask if he was on his way. He arrived there just after their call. This was before cell phones so I had to wait for a call or his return. My mom and best friend came to sit with me. When he got back, he had three pictures for me.
Polaroids of Sian Marie looking very red, blurry, covered with wires and white tape. Here was my daughter. He said he held her hand and talked with her, she looked at him, and he told her we loved her. She was alive when he left her. Then the Hospital called us and told us she had died just afterward. That was my two girls walking away from me.
But as I did with loss of Erinn I transferred all my hopes to Cesara, now Sara because she was too tiny for such an imposing name. She is named after my grandmother Sarah Jane Brooks and my husband’s grandmother Cesera who was called Sara.
Sara was progressing and her father had learned that her Apgar scores when she was born were 3 and then 8. She was a fighter!
We had a funeral to plan and thank goodness our family had some strong ties to the local funeral home. They went to NY to pick up Sian and we buried them in the same vault as their grandmother Cesera. The funeral home dressed them and my pastor and my husbands’ cousin, who was a deacon in the Catholic Church, along with my husband and our fathers buried them on the morning I was released. No charge.
I was so happy to get home and see my children. They helped heal me more than they will ever know. Isn’t it always that way? I knew telling this story would bring me to tears and it has. I will pause here to think about this some more and will continue in part 2 – “Sara Smile”.