Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Two Month Check up and Papa's Birthday.

Andrew had his two month check up at the pediatrician's last week. He's up to 13 pounds and 10 ounces. He's outgrown most of his newborn clothes. Some clothes that he received from his shower were never worn which is a shame. Andrew had this pesky dermatitis which I thought was just your typical baby acne but it never really went away, and he seems to be scratching his face by rubbing his face on my chest when I try to hold him. So the doctor prescribed him some hydrocortisone cream which cleared up his face overnight.  Now his cheeks are milky chubbiness! 
Sometimes when I stare at him when I'm bottle feeding him, it seems like he's changing , growing right in front of my eyes. His facial features are more pronounced, his eyebrows are darkening. He's beginning to make "baby talk" noises.  He does this when he's lying down in his bassinet. He's talking to himself. Adorable.

It was my birthday yesterday.Papa's birthday. I'm pretty low key in nature. The weather was cold , wet, and raw. So I was content on staying home. But my birthday was an excuse to bake a cake to satisfy my sweet tooth. There's this popular bakery near us in the South End called Flour Bakery. The owner / pastry chef , Joanne Chang, is an inspiration. She went to Harvard Univ, majored in Math but followed her true passion and opened up a bakery, which I believe has turned into three bakeries now. Anyways, she just released her cook book of  recipes and her recipe for birthday cake caught my eye. I knew I had to make it. I think there are a total of 5 sticks of butter in this cake but its so worth it!!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Myth ??!

Lets face it ..I'm in the cusp of middle agedom as much as I hate to admit it. When "J" and I told our respective parents about our pending adoption, the common response was  " Don't you think you guys are too old to raise a child?" I guess we probably could have started this sooner but honestly we were selfish. I wanted desperately to finish graduate school to get my nurse practitioner degree, I wanted to take up playing tennis again, we wanted to buy a house on Cape Cod..essentially we did all the expensive things instead of raising a child.
Since I was going to be the primary caretaker, I wondered if raising a child was going to fulfill me or would I regret career / financial opportunities. Since I'm only one month into this child rearing venture..I can't say for now. When friends who have kids gush about the joys of parenthood, I always thought ."are they crazy?" "they have to deal with a crying , expensive child..while I'm about to play tennis, then go shopping, then have cocktails with friends...fun!"
I did run across this article in the Huffington post..which just read my mind.

But then..a few days ago..Andrew just started smiling at us, he's more responsive..cooing, making adorable facial expressions. Did I mention he loves, loves bathtime? Its a piece of heaven.

The Myth of Joyful Parenthood: The Ultimate Cognitive Dissonance?

Raising children is hard, and any parent who says differently is lying. Parenting is emotionally and intellectually draining, and it often requires professional sacrifice and serious financial hardship. Kids are needy and demanding from the moment of their birth to... well, forever.
Don't get me wrong. I love my children dearly, and can't imagine my life without them. But let's face the facts: Study after study has shown that parents, compared to adults without kids, experience lower emotional well-being -- fewer positive feelings and more negative ones -- and have unhappier marriages and suffer more from depression. Yet many of these same parents continue to insist that their children are an essential source of happiness -- indeed that a life without children is a life unfulfilled.
How do we square this jarring contradiction? Two psychological scientists at the University of Waterloo think they have the answer. They suspect that the belief in parental happiness is a psychological defense -- a fiction we imagine to make all the hard stuff acceptable. In other words, we parents have collectively created the myth of parental joy because otherwise we would have a hard time justifying the huge investment that kids require.
In the jargon of the field, this is called "cognitive dissonance" -- the psychological mechanism we all use to justify our choices and beliefs and preserve our self-esteem. Richard Eibach and Steven Mock decided to explore the role that such self-justification plays in parental beliefs about their irreversible choice to have and raise children. They focused on economic hardship, and here's how they studied the costs of parenthood in the lab:
They recruited 80 fathers and mothers, each parent with at least one child under age 18. The parents were about 37 years old on average, and the kids were about eight. Half the parents were primed to focus on the financial costs of parenting. They read a government document estimating that the costs of raising a child to age 18 exceed $190,000. The other parents got this information as well, but they also read about the financial benefits of parenting -- that is, the fact that adult children often provide financial and practical support to aging parents. The idea was that some of the parents would be mentally calculating the out-of-pocket costs of having kids, while others would be left thinking of children as a mixed blessing, at least financially.
Then the scientists gave the parents a psychological test designed to measure how much they idealized parenting: Did they agree strongly (or not) that there is nothing more rewarding than raising a child? Do adults without kids experience emptiness in their lives? And so forth.
Finally, they measured the parents' feelings of mental and emotional dissonance: Do you feel uncomfortable, uneasy, bothered?
Eibach and Mock were testing a couple ideas. First, they suspected that parents who were focused on the costs of parenthood would be more likely to experience feelings of conflict and discomfort -- because they would be torn between the reality they have chosen and the costs of that choice. But second, they also expected that these negative feelings would motivate them to idealize parenthood in order to trump the negative feelings.
And that's what they found, with a slight twist. If they measured the parents' feelings of emotional discomfort immediately after priming their thoughts about cost, they felt much worse than did the parents with a more mixed view of parenting. They were conflicted. But if the scientists first gave them the opportunity to idealize parenting and family life, and then measured their conflicted feelings, those negative feelings were gone. In short, thinking about the high costs of children created significant emotional discomfort, which motivated the parents to focus on the joys of parenting, which in turn dissipated the uneasiness over choosing such a difficult path.
As a parent, I find this remarkable and discomfiting. How else might I be fooling myself in order to justify the high costs of my decision to be a parent? The scientists were curious about this, too, and designed a different version of the experiment to find out. In this study, parents were again primed to think about their pricey life choice or both costs and benefits of parenting. But this time, the researchers asked the parents about their intrinsic enjoyment of various life activities: One was spending time with their children, and others were spending time with a romantic partner, or engaging in their favorite personal activity. They also asked them how much leisure time they hoped to spend doing something with their child on their next day off from work.
The results were clear.As reported on-line in the journal Psychological Science, the parents who had the high costs of children in mind were much more likely to say that they enjoyed spending time with their children, and they also anticipated spending more leisure time with their kids. In other words, being aware of parenthood's price tag made them idealize the time they spent with their kids, and this idealized image of family life led them to foresee more shared time in the future.
All this makes sense from a historical perspective, the scientists point out: In an earlier time, kids actually had economic value; they worked on farms or brought home paychecks, and they didn't cost that much. Not coincidentally, emotional relationships between parents and children were less affectionate back then -- and childhood was much less sentimentalized. Paradoxically, as the value of children has diminished, and the costs have escalated, the belief that parenthood is emotionally rewarding has gained currency. In that sense, the myth of parental joy is a modern psychological phenomenon.
This doesn't strike me as a bad thing entirely. We may be uneasy thinking of our families as all dollars and cents, but bank accounts don't lie. If knowing the bottom line makes us want to spend more time on kids instead of, say, TV or golf or work, that sounds like a healthy bargain for all involved.

Baby Shower

So this past weekend, we had a welcome party / baby shower for Andrew. I was leery about throwing a party for Andrew. Not that we don't love parties, but the concept of throwing a party just to get more stuff for our baby leaves me a bit uncomfortable. I mean, we have all of the essentials to raise Andrew. Sure we're missing some equipment which we'll need in the near future such as a crib. But that can wait for a month or so. We don't even have a "nursery" set up yet, and I'm in no hurry. I'm thinking , does Andrew care if his room is not painted a cute "baby boy" color or decorated with baby stuff?! Of course not!  The room adjacent to our bedroom will be Andrew's room at the moment. Its the guest room which I call the "red" room because the walls are painted a deep deep red, a historic color but not a color you would think for a nursery.  
Anyways, I originally wanted to have just a small shower mostly inviting co-workers  past and present. Eventually the party swelled in attendance, J started telling people in the neighborhood about our adoption and he ended up inviting several people. The party attendance was more than I expected but I was prepared. When we have parties or dinners at our house, I tend to cook more than I should. The thought of running out of food terrifies me! Plus I love the concept of leftovers. I usually prepare a particular dish forget about it , then never even end up serving it at the party. In the case of the baby shower, my 
Hors d'Ĺ“uvre meatballs never made it to the party table. Oh well.

Anyways, the gifts from friends, co-workers and neighbors were overwhelming. Very thoughtful , imaginative. Its already been a couple days since the party and I've yet to open up half of the gifts

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Coming out all over again

I've  noticed since getting Andrew I feel like I'm getting more attention than before. This may be my self consciousness talking ,but when J and I are together , it seems like people are looking at us and saying.."hey look it's two Dads!" The responses have all been supportive and positive but its something that I'm getting used to.
I think it was more evident in Georgia, I could tell people were twisting their necks to get a good luck at the gay Dads coming down the street. I'm sure it doesn't affect J. That's what I love about him, he doesn't give a flying heck on what people think. I, on the other hand, have the opposite affect. I'm not sure if it was my upbringing or what, but it's something I struggle with till this day.  Gay fathers aren't an anomaly anymore. There are so many examples in the media, celebrity culture, which makes it more palatable to the general public I guess. When I mentioned to my mother that I was adopting, I could sense the apprehension in her voice. She's in her 80s, and I'm sure she did not expect that her gay son would have children. Her first reservation was that J and I were too old! She does have a point, but I reminded her that Elton John who just adopted is in his 60's. In a bizarre way , it kind of made her feel better.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

For Those Thinking About Having Children

 I read this on one of the blogs I'm following ....funny!
For Those Thinking About Having Children

Lesson 1

1. Go to the grocery store.
2. Arrange to have your salary paid directly to their head office.
3. Go home.
4. Pick up the paper.
5. Read it for the last time.

Lesson 2

Before you finally go ahead and have children, find a couple who already are parents and berate them about their...
1. Methods of discipline.
2. Lack of patience.
3. Appallingly low tolerance levels.
4. Allowing their children to run wild.
5. Suggest ways in which they might improve their child's breastfeeding, sleep habits, toilet training, table manners, and overall behavior.
Enjoy it because it will be the last time in your life you will have all the answers.

Lesson 3

A really good way to discover how the nights might feel...
1. Get home from work and immediately begin walking around the living room from 5PM to 10PM carrying a wet bag weighing approximately 8-12 pounds, with a radio turned to static (or some other obnoxious sound) playing loudly. (Eat cold food with one hand for dinner)
2. At 10PM, put the bag gently down, set the alarm for midnight, and go to sleep.
3. Get up at 12 and walk around the living room again, with the bag, until 1AM.
4. Set the alarm for 3AM.
5. As you can't get back to sleep, get up at 2AM and make a drink and watch an infomercial.
6. Go to bed at 2:45AM.
7. Get up at 3AM when the alarm goes off.
8. Sing songs quietly in the dark until 4AM.
9. Get up. Make breakfast. Get ready for work and go to work (work hard and be productive)

Repeat steps 1-9 each night. Keep this up for 3-5 years. Look cheerful and together.

Lesson 4

Can you stand the mess children make? T o find out...
1. Smear peanut butter onto the sofa and jam onto the curtains.
2. Hide a piece of raw chicken behind the stereo and leave it there all summer.
3. Stick your fingers in the flower bed.
4. Then rub them on the clean walls.
5. Take your favorite book, photo album, etc. Wreck it.
6. Spill milk on your new pillows. Cover the stains with crayons. How does that look?

Lesson 5

Dressing small children is not as easy as it seems.
1. Buy an octopus and a small bag made out of loose mesh.
2. Attempt to put the octopus into the bag so that none of the arms hang out.

Time allowed for this - all morning.

Lesson 6

Forget the BMW and buy a mini-van. And don't think that you can leave it out in the driveway spotless and shining. Family cars don't look like that.
1. Buy a chocolate ice cream cone and put it in the glove compartment.
Leave it there.
2. Get a dime. Stick it in the CD player.
3. Take a family size package of chocolate cookies. Mash them into the back seat. Sprinkle cheerios all over the floor, then smash them with your foot.
4. Run a garden rake along both sides of the car.

Lesson 7

Go to the local grocery store. Take with you the closest thing you can find to a pre-school child. (A full-grown goat is an excellent choice). If you intend to have more than one child, then definitely take more than one goat. Buy your week's groceries without letting the goats out of your sight. Pay for everything the goat eats or destroys. Until you can easily accomplish this, do not even contemplate having children.

Lesson 8

1. Hollow out a melon.
2. Make a small hole in the side.
3. Suspend it from the ceiling and swing it from side to side.
4. Now get a bowl of soggy Cheerios and attempt to spoon them into the swaying melon by pretending to be an airplane.
5. Continue until half the Cheerios are gone.
6. Tip half into your lap. The other half, just throw up in the air.

You are now ready to feed a nine- month-old baby.

Lesson 9

Learn the names of every character from Sesame Street , Barney, Disney, the Teletubbies, and Pokemon. Watch nothing else on TV but PBS, the Disney channel or Noggin for at least five years. (I know, you're thinking What's 'Noggin'?) Exactly the point.

Lesson 10

Make a recording of Fran Drescher saying 'mommy' repeatedly. (Important: no more than a four second delay between each 'mommy'; occasional crescendo to the level of a supersonic jet is required). Play this tape in your car everywhere you go for the next four years. You are now ready to take a long trip with a toddler.

Lesson 11

Start talking to an adult of your choice. Have someone else continually tug on your skirt hem, shirt- sleeve, or elbow while playing the 'mommy' tape made from Lesson 10 above. You are now ready to have a conversation with an adult while there is a child in the room.

This is all very tongue in cheek; anyone who is parent will say 'it's all worth it!' Share it with your friends, both those who do and don't have kids. I guarantee they'll get a chuckle out of it. Remember, a sense of humor is one of the most important things you'll need when you become a parent!