Thursday, December 31, 2009

Meazi Suspended-Ugly Cry #9

There have been many things that have set me off during the holidays, things like my sister Kate meeting my children for the first time, things like my brother-in-law Mark meeting my children for the first time. There have been many moving things.

Ugly Cry #9 happened on a morning that started off like many other mornings. Steven was home. We got up. I started to get Melese's breakfast ready. Meazi went into her closet to get dressed. (We continue to let Meazi wear whatever she wants. I think that these are battles that we don't need to fight, as long as she is warm enough).

She came out in her princessa dress-up clothes. She likes to wear them to breakfast sometimes. I had been looking through our huge binder of cds for some Christmas music to play on Christmas Eve and on Christmas Day. We started having a dance party. Steven would pick a cd, then Meazi would pick a cd. I danced with Melese, Steven danced with Meazi. I went to the other room to change Melese and heard Meazi exclaim,"Daddy! I like it! I like that Johhny Clegg!" Steven put on what is definitely the world's gayest music, Erasure. They danced like crazy.

Meazi likes a lot of the music that we have. She is a fan of Van the Man (hence her interest in the saxophone) and Michael Franti. She loves the song Shaking the Tree by Peter Gabriel and Youssou N'Dour. She could do without the Jackson Browne. She loves Beyonce and Gigi. Our dance party continued for some time.

Meazi paged through the binder. She found two cds, one with a big #1 on it, and the other with a big #2 on it. It was this album. The first song Angelika Suspended began. Meazi said, "Huppy," to Steven, which means she'd like to be picked up. He picked her up and they danced. She was still wearing that pink dress-up dress. I was holding Melese and we danced too. Within minutes Meazi was fast asleep on Steven's chest. Steven continued to dance while singing to her softly. Song after song played. This is a beautiful album. They stayed like that for over an hour. Finally Steven moved to the rocker, we played the second cd, and she continued to sleep on him.

I am not sure which part of this made me cry. I was happy just to be able to hold my son and feel his breathing. Maybe it was the violin? Steven and I had actually seen this band in NYC one hundred years ago when we were just dating. I was thinking about that too. I think that what struck me the most was that the last time I had seen Meazi fall asleep on Steven like that was the night we took the kids back to the guest house with us in Ethiopia. Meazi cried and cried that night. Her sobs were the most distressing and heart-wrenching sounds that I had ever heard. Steven just held her for hours. He was stuck in a kind of awkward sitting position on the bed. He just held her tightly as all of that grief, and fear, and loss, came pouring out of her. After hours of crying, she finally fell asleep. He continued to hold her.

This dancing, in our living room, was the first time since then that I have seen him holding her while she slept. It was the dancing, and the breakfast, and the laughter, that made her sleepy this time. Her face was so peaceful, her arms stayed clasped around his shoulders.

I wept happy tears that I was a mother, and that I had children to dance with, these children, and that Meazi loves her daddy, and that Meazi loves Van Morrison, and that Steven and I were still a couple. I wept happy tears that she was fed, and clothed, and healthy. But I was also crying because I know that her story will not change. What has happened to her will not change. She will always be that girl on that uncomfortable bed, in a room not her own, in that guest house, sobbing.

She has changed, but she is the same.

She will always be a girl who has lost everything, and I will always be her mother.

And so I wept.

This is the only version I could find of the song. It is someone's homemade video. I suggest closing your eyes, and just listening to it. The whole album is gorgeous.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Contest Prizes

The winner of the ugly cry contest will receive the following prizes...

The Keats Collection and a small jar of Habesha honey.

A donation made in their name to Ethiopian Orphan Relief- The amount to be the number of ugly cries X two (i.e 2o cries equals 40 bucks). (Thanks for the suggestion Paige).

The first five people who leave a comment promising to match the donation will receive one of these:

A Keep on Truckin' bumper sticker from Meazi.

Contest will end on the 1st of the year at midnight.

Current Count: 18

We still have Steven's birthday on New Year's Eve and Melese's first birthday on the first to get through.

Be still my happy heart.

Saturday, December 26, 2009


She left him cookies and a Coke. For the reindeer she left dog treats and a bowl of water.
He came through for her.

And apparently we are that family...
I hope your Christmas was wonderful.

Oh, and if you guessed less than a dozen ugly cries...

you are out of the running.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Mommy Look! Africa!

I love that Meazi sees things like this. It happens all the time.

She kills me.

I love her.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

First Ever Eyes Of My Eyes Ugly Cry Giveaway...

Wanna guess how many Ugly Cries of Happiness I have this Holiday Season?

This one happened while decorating the tree. My mom was with us, and I unwrapped a tin ornament that she had given us on our wedding day. I was there with my children, my husband, and my mom-the ugly cry was inevitable.

So we'll have to come up with a good prize. The person who predicts the number of cries will win.


Steven will keep track, although some of them happen when he is at work.

It has to be really ugly, no sniffles or single teardrops allowed.

Remember too, to include all ugly cries since Thanksgiving in your total.

Good Luck.

I am open to prize suggestions too.

Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Dear Santa...

Yep, that's what she wants. It is the only thing that she wants.

Dear Santa, please bring mommy some earplugs.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Monday, November 30, 2009

NaBloPoMo -The End.

Hey Meazi, Did you hear? Your mom finished that silly NaBloPoMo challenge.

You have to admit dad, some posts were better than others.

I'm just saying. I mean it was really hit or miss, don't you think dad?

I'm just glad it's over.

Me too.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Care and Feeding of a Habesha Tortuga

A woman that I have never met before is breastfeeding my son.

How's that for an opening sentence?

She isn't literally breastfeeding him, but he is drinking her milk, a lot of her milk. Every day. Every night.

There is a woman I know, her name is Elena. I met her several years ago. We were in a Yahoo group for women who were trying to get pregnant. I was the only one in the group who didn't end up getting pregnant. Elena got pregnant with triplets. On March 9th, 2005, Elena gave birth to her sons Carlos, Rafael, and Loran. All three of them died in her arms. She eventually went on to adopt two children...

And Ivy...
Xavi and Ivy had breast milk too.

I had been really interested in the idea of breastfeeding your adopted child. I did some research a couple of years ago, and thought that I might be able to give it a shot. Unfortunately it became clear to me that I wasn't brave enough to try it. It seemed that most protocols for induction involved some form of estrogen or progesterone, and since I had had cancer, my docs advised against it. That combined with the eye rolls I received from almost everyone I mentioned the idea to, made me quite discouraged. Many people find it bizarre, or unnatural. Steven was not really supportive either. He didn't think I could do it, and he was right.

I had heard about places where you could get donated breast milk for your adopted kiddos, but I was in such poor shape when we got home from Ethiopia (physically, emotionally) that the last thing I could figure out was how to get healthy, disease free, breast milk for Melese. I had always wanted to do it, but I just didn't have the energy to pursue it.

When we got home Melese transitioned from the sugary Bebelac formula to one our pediatrician recommended. (Disclaimer: I am not knocking anyone for using formula. We use formula too. There is no judgement in this post. I just want to tell you this story).

Elena made getting Melese some breast milk her mission. As she told me, "Julie, this is my passion". She told me to set up a FedEx account for the shipping of the frozen milk, and she got busy finding us a donor. She followed leads, sent e-mails, posted pleas, and interviewed potential donors.

On August 28th, Elena sent me an e-mail,

"Struck gold. A friend of mine found some milk (a lot) for you."

Enter Kasi. Kasi is the middleman as it were. Kasi, a woman I had also never met, delivered fifty bags of frozen milk to my house. (I don't know why a total stranger would do something this nice for someone else, but she did tell me she was from Wisconsin and I am thinking that has something to do with it). The breast milk was from her neighbor, a woman named Nina. I don't know the exact details of why Nina has so much milk, I didn't want to pry too much. I know that she has a new baby daughter, and I think I heard that her daughter couldn't nurse for a medical reason. We continue to get milk from Nina, and Kasi continues to bring it (Did I mention that Kasi is eight months pregnant, and has a young son at home?)

The first time Melese had Nina's milk he looked like one of those pull puppet ornaments, his arms and legs started moving up and down wildly. He guzzled it. He loves it. He absolutely loves it.

(And yes you may notice Mother Fail #204, I have not yet transitioned from the disposable liner, plastic bottles I bought "Just to travel with," to glass ones like I had planned. Isn't likely to happen at this point. Oh, and I didn't make homemade baby food either.)

Melese is healthy, and if you will excuse my saying it, beautiful. He is strong. He has blossomed from a listless baby with a bald patch on the back of his head (from lying in a crib for months), to a very active, very chatty, chub-alicious, chunk of love. He will walk soon. He has four and a half teeth. His eyes are shiny, and his skin is perfect.

I struggled for weeks trying to write a thank you note to Nina. What do you say? I have never even spoken to her on the phone. I don't know anything about her.

How do I thank Elena? I hadn't seen Elena in several years. We scheduled a playdate for September 10th. She just brought Xavi over. I was pretty much a mess. Xavi and Meazi had a great time together. Elena brought me another carrier to use for Melese. Meazi pilfered it for her baby "Sito Mito"...

Elena looked great, but was using a cane because she had a weird pain in her hip. She thought it might be sciatica, or something similar. She had been seeing doctors in the weeks prior in an attempt to get some relief from the pain.

The day after coming to my house, Elena went to pick up Xavi at school and had a seizure. I found this information out from our mutual friend, Deb. I e-mailed Elena. It turns out Elena doesn't have sciatica. This is part of a note she posted on Facebook...

"I'm not going to beat around the bush. I have extremely advanced lung cancer with brain, liver, and bone metastasis. There is a bone tumor in my hip which is of course what has been causing all of this sciatic pain."

Elena has cancer. She is undergoing treatment. Heavy duty treatment. She has cancer. The C word. She has two children, Ivy and Xavi. She has a husband Mark. She has a full life, which now has become about Chemo, and Cat scans.

These three woman have changed my life. It's not about the breast milk. Melese would have been fine without it, I am sure. It is about the intention, the caring, the selfless giving. It is about these women who have much better, and more pressing things to do then think about me, and my baby, and his diet.

In a little while, I will shake Melese's bottle in front of him, the sound of the shaking will set off a smiling frenzy, as he knows the shaking signals that the milk is just seconds away. Mid-bottle he will take a break to smile at me, and nuzzle his big turtle head into my shoulder. We will take a breath together. Then he will continue to eat, and then slowly drift off to sleep in my arms. When this happens, as it does every middle of the night, I will take a moment to hold these three mothers in my thoughts and in my heart; One mother that I don't know at all, one mother who is about to give birth to her daughter, and one mother who is fighting the biggest battle of her life.

These three incredible women...



and Elena...

Thank you.