Browsing the blog archives for August, 2010

Thoughts on Flying with a Baby

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Children, Travel

I have to admit that I was extremely nervous about flying with a baby on my lap.  The worst case scenario played through my mind repeatedly:  us sitting in a middle seat, the person in front of me reclining their seat so far back that Katherine would have no space to move, her crying at the top of her lungs for 4 hours, and people glaring at us.

I was pleasantly surprised at how well the trip went.  On one long leg of the trip, I was in the middle seat, and the person in front of me had their seat fully reclined.  However, even that scenario was not as bad as I had expected.  We still had space to move around a bit.  Granted, I was lucky that the stranger in the window seat was kind and gracious despite Katherine’s repeated attempts to grab his arm.

I had solicited advice before the trip, and it was quite helpful.  Here is a list of the best pieces of advice I received about flying with a baby.

If you are not buying a seat for the baby, still check with the airlines to see if they have open seats.

Many people told me, and one of the Southwest agents confirmed (at least for Southwest), that if there are any open seats on a flight, they may give you one of those seats for your baby.  Of course, you’d have to have your car seat with you, but that would likely be more comfortable than flying with an infant on your lap.

The day before our trip to California, I called Southwest to find out if there were empty seats on the two legs of our trip.  There were, but the agent recommended that we check again before arriving at the airport.  The next morning, hours before our flight, I called again and learned that the leg from St. Louis to LA was completely full, so we left the car seat in our car.  It was nice, however, to know that we had the option to get a free seat for Katherine if space had allowed.

Find out in advance whether you need to bring the baby’s birth certificate.

Some airlines require at least a copy of the birth certificate for the traveling child.  Southwest accepted a copy, and the agent also advised me that an immunization record would have sufficed.  This could be useful for a parent who is traveling with a very young child, in which case the birth certificate may not yet be available.

Bring more diapers and baby food than you think you will need.

In case of travel delays, it is better to be prepared.  Airport gift shops carry a number of items, but other moms advised that it is very difficult if not impossible to find diapers there.  Pack about twice as many diapers as you think you will need.

Have new toys with you on the plane to entertain the baby.

One of the best pieces of advice I received was from a friend who recently moved from Seattle and who has flown quite often with her baby.  She recommended having a few new toys for the baby.  The baby should be more enthralled and spend more time exploring and playing with the new item.  If getting a handful of new toys is not feasible, the alternative is to put some toys aside a few weeks before the trip.  That way, the toys are essentially “new” to the baby during the flight.

We did the latter, and it worked on the trip out.  In fact, I did not have to whip out the heavy artillery (the Baby Einstein iPhone app) during our trip to California.  On the trip back, I borrowed a couple of toys from my mom, including one large Duplo block (far too big to be a choking hazard), which was a big hit.

Have the baby nurse, drink from a bottle, or use a pacifier during the ascent and descent.

As most everyone knows, this helps the baby with any ear discomfort while flying.  Katherine fell asleep during the descents on both legs of our return flight, and I chose not to wake her up to try to make her drink.  This turned out fine, as she did not signal any discomfort with her ears after she woke up.  For those occasions where she refused to nurse, the pacifier seemed to be a good alternative.

If anyone has any additional pieces of advice, please share in the comments.

California Vacation

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Recently, Ryan, Katherine and I traveled to Huntington Beach, California, to visit family.  Here is a quick recap of the highs and lows of our trip.

The airplane flight was better than I expected.

I was nervous about flying for the first time with Katherine, who was 8 months old.  We flew on Southwest, which was a great experience overall.  The workers for the most part were all friendly, and I liked the open seating.  It certainly worked to our advantage on the long last leg of our flight from Phoenix to Columbus.  The flight was “completely full,” but apparently there was one open seat, and it was next to us.  Go figure – no one wanted to sit next to a baby.  But she was good and only cried a little bit when she was tired.  We kept her entertained with a couple of toys, her sippy cup, and the Baby Einstein iPhone app.

Katherine loved being around her cousins.

Katherine had met her cousins Luke (10) and Linnea (12) back in April when we went to my cousin Eric’s wedding, but this time she got to spend a couple of days with them.  It was funny to watch her chase after Luke in her walker.

Ryan and I kayaked almost every day.

I am so grateful to my mom, who watched Katherine quite a lot during our vacation and enabled us to paddle around Huntington Harbor on a regular basis.

Katherine was able to experience the Pacific Ocean.

We took Katherine to Sunset Beach (north of Huntington Beach) and put her feet in the ocean.  She seemed to enjoy the experience.

Katherine and Rebecca at Sunset Beach, August 2010

We also went to a little beach on Trinidad Island in Huntington Harbor, where we set Katherine up in her walker at the edge of the water just to let her put her feet in the sand.  A few young children came over to meet her and ended up entertaining her for quite a while.

The new friend entertained Katherine as I hovered nearby

Katherine said her first word.

“Mama.”   Need I say more?

The one low of our trip – the smash and grab.

After we returned to Columbus, we learned that someone had broken into the front passenger side window of our minivan.  It did not appear that anything was stolen, and the parking lot replaced the window before we returned and offered to pay for the interior cleaning.  Regardless, it was a hassle, and it’s quite disconcerting to get into your car and see smashed glass all over the place.

Overall, it was a great trip, and we look forward to getting back out there for our Christmas vacation.

Infertility Survivor Part 2: What Archie Griffin Said

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We started trying to conceive in January, 2004.  It started to get tough emotionally by the summer of 2004.  It was especially painful whenever I saw a stroller, a diaper bag, or a pregnant belly.  I dreaded trips to Babies R Us to buy gifts for expectant friends.

In 2005, we had two particular disappointments – very early pregnancy losses.  I later figured out that I had been pregnant during my first solo jury trial in January, 2005, which explained the insatiable craving for chocolate I experienced the weekend after the trial ended.  While my client lost the case, we defeated the opposing side’s motion for prejudgment interest … you have to take your victories wherever you can!

In late 2005, we started fertility treatments.  I was on Clomid for a few months, and we became familiar with administering trigger shots and identifying blobs on an ultrasound screen as ovaries. The first couple months of Clomid were not too bad, but by the last round, I fully understood the misery of hot flashes.  The treatments did not work, the doctor recommended against injectibles because he thought they would not increase our chances, and we decided not to pursue in vitro treatment.

Time does not necessarily heal all wounds.  By the end of 2006, it had been three years, and the pain was just as fresh.  In my mind, only having a baby would make me feel better.  But after listening to a televised interview of Archie Griffin, I learned that there was another way to heal.

He spoke about winning two Heisman trophies.  The interviewer asked him how much he wanted that second Heisman trophy.  He said that he did want it, but he adopted the mindset from Psalms 37:4 – “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”  I had previously interpreted this to mean that if you focus on God, He will answer all of your prayers with a hearty “yes” and grant you access to His cosmic vending machine.

Archie had a different take on it.  I believe that his words were along these lines:  he would focus on serving God, and God would either grant his desire for the second Heisman trophy or God would take his desire away.

It made sense.  If I did not have a desire for children, then being infertile would not hurt as much.  I started to pray that God would remove the desire for children if He was not going to fulfill it.  While I still hoped for children, the pain of not having them lessened.  It became easier to find joy in various activities Ryan and I could do together such as kayaking, biking and traveling.

Archie probably never realized that when he shared that experience about the Heisman, it would impact a woman dealing with infertility.  It goes to show that you never know what kind of an impact you could have when you share your experiences and feelings with others.

Even the Judge Asked, Did I Really Just Say That?

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One of the most memorable moments in my legal experience happened before I was officially a lawyer.  I attended law school at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, from 1994 – 1997. During the summer of 1995, between my first and second years of law school, I interned for one of the state court trial-level judges.  One of my law school colleagues also interned for this judge.  We had a number of interesting experiences with the court and its staff that summer (car chase, anyone?), but the most interesting legal experience happened during one of the many trials which my colleague and I observed.

The case arose from a dispute between two neighbors in a rural part of Davidson County, the county in which Nashville was located.  As I recall, one neighbor was a fit policeman who liked jogging and little dogs.   Let’s call him Sport.  The other neighbor was an older, probably retired man who lived a couple of doors down and liked neither jogging nor little dogs. Let’s call him Gramps.  Gramps was irritated by the fact that Sport would jog in the middle of the street.  Gramps complained about this. At one point, one of Sport’s little dogs – a toy poodle, if I recall correctly – barked or lunged at Gramps.

Gramps was the first to escalate the dispute to court.  He filed a vicious dog charge against Sport. Sport prevailed against this charge and filed a malicious prosecution charge against Gramps.  Sport won, and Gramps was ordered to stay a certain number of feet away from Sport at all times.

Sport continued jogging in the middle of the road, and Gramps continued to be irritated by this. Gramps decided to get evidence of this.  He stood out in his front yard and videotaped Sport jogging in the middle of the road.  Sport noticed this and went back to court, complaining that Gramps violated the restraining order by videotaping Sport.

Our judge had to listen to the evidence and decide whether or not Gramps violated the restraining order.  If he did, then our judge was going to have to put Gramps in jail for a certain amount of time.  This decision was the judge’s alone.  Because it was a bench trial, there was no jury to vote for either Sport or Gramps.

After the lawyers for Gramps and Sport finished putting on their cases, the judge excused himself from the bench and ordered my colleague and me to join him in chambers.  He asked us what we thought he should do.  My colleague gave an excellent and well-reasoned answer about how Gramps had a constitutional right to be in his yard, videotaping or not.  The judge then turned to me.  My words slipped out without much thought.  I said something along the lines of, Gramps needs to get a life.  He needs to get a t.v. show or something, like Matlock.

The judge took a few minutes to consider our input then reconvened the trial to issue his ruling from the bench.  After describing for the record the general issue and the possible penalty at stake, the judge indicated that he was not going to put Gramps in jail.  Instead, the judge told Gramps that he needed to get a life.  That he needed to get a t.v. show or something. On the record.

After the case was dismissed and we all gathered again in chambers, the judge looked at my colleague and me and asked if he had really just said that out loud.  In court.

Today’s Photo: Real or Fake Background?

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Katherine at Whetstone Park

One of the things I like about this photograph is that the hazy weather almost makes the background look fake, like one of those pull-down screens at the portrait studio with the sunflowers and rugged wooden fence.  It reminds me of my parents’ trip to Paris back around 2000.  My mom wore a beautiful bright red raincoat in most of their outdoor pictures.  Between the overcast weather and the color of the streets and buildings, it looked as though she had been green-screened into someone else’s Paris photographs.

Future Soccer Player?

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Will she follow in the footsteps of her talented cousins?

In addition to swimming, we hope that Katherine will enjoy playing other sports when she gets bigger.  Her cousins both play soccer competitively – perhaps she’ll do so as well.  Of course, she will first have to learn that the soccer ball is for kicking, not teething.

Arm Pain, You Have a Name. And I Can’t Pronounce It.

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Have you heard of DeQuervain’s tenosynovitis?

Last week, my right wrist and elbow started hurting.  I told Ryan that I thought was getting tennis elbow from carrying Katherine around.  I wondered whether others had experienced this.

Then I read an article from a daily newsletter from the WhatToExpect website which gave this pain a name and explained it:

“Many new moms note pain in the inner part of their wrist (thumb side), which gets worse when picking up a baby under her arms. It’s not carpal tunnel (which you may have experienced during pregnancy), but a condition called DeQuervain’s tenosynovitis (a fancy name for an inflamed thumb tendon). It’s caused by the excessive use of the wrist (such as when picking up the baby, because the wrist and thumb are shouldering most of her weight).”

The article suggests various methods to relieve or prevent the pain, including weightlifting to strengthen arms and shoulders, carrying the baby and baby paraphernalia with the other arm, and using a heating pad.

My arm did not hurt when she was this small.

Recipe: Roasted Vegetable Lasagna

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Lately, whenever I volunteer to make a meal for someone, I make this dish for them.  It is easy to assemble early in the day and then refrigerate until about one hour before dinner time.  Roasting the vegetables in advance gives extra flavor to the dish.

1 box of oven ready lasagna noodles

12 – 14 oz of pasta sauce (I like Classico)

8 oz container of ricotta cheese

2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

2 – 3 zucchini, diced

2 – 3 yellow squash, diced

1 onion, diced

2 – 4 cloves of garlic, minced

2 – 3 tsp thyme or oregano

Dash of salt to taste

2 -3 tbsp olive oil

Toss the zucchini, squash, onion, garlic, olive oil, and spices in a large bowl.  Transfer to roasting pan (I use 2 metal cake pans) and roast in the oven at 375 degrees for 12 – 14 minutes.  Place in large bowl again and stir in ricotta cheese.

In a 9 x 12 (or thereabouts) casserole baking dish, grease the bottom only and spread a couple of tablespoons of pasta sauce on the bottom.  Place one layer of oven ready lasagna noodles.  Spread half of the vegetable-ricotta mix on top of the noodles.  Spread about 1/3 of the pasta sauce on top of the vegetable-ricotta mix.  Repeat once more – noodles then ricotta then pasta sauce.

Place one last layer on top of the pasta sauce.  Spread the remaining 1/3 of your pasta sauce over the layer, then cover the sauce with the mozzarella cheese.  Cover with aluminum foil.

At this point, you can put the lasagna in the fridge or deliver it nicely wrapped to your lucky recipient.  When it is time to bake, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Bake for 45 – 50 minutes with the foil on, until the lasagna is bubbling.  Remove the foil and back for another 10 – 12 minutes, until the cheese gets nice and golden brown.

Infertility Survivor

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At the first moms’ group meeting I attended at the Elizabeth Blackwell Center in February, a t-shirt worn by one of the other moms caught my eye.  It said something along the lines of “I survived infertility” or “infertility survivor.”

As our friends and family know, it took Ryan and I 5 years to have Katherine.  Having her was a pleasant surprise.  We had just started a domestic adoption process when we found out that I was pregnant.  At this time, we are not pursuing the adoption.

I had always wanted to write about our infertility journey, but it was too painful while we were in the midst of it.  Infertility happens to far too many people, and it is more painful than anyone can possibly know unless they go through it themselves.  So now I want to share my experience.

Have you ever noticed how much our society values people who handle adversity with grace and good cheer?  We love hearing about the people who kept a positive mind-set.  In terms of infertility, picture the long-suffering woman who is genuinely happy for her friends who get pregnant and who goes to baby showers with the beautifully wrapped gift and a smile on the outside and inside.  How inspiring and uplifting would that woman’s infertility story be!

Guess what … there was a long period of time when I was not that woman.

Oh, I may have been smiling on the outside and saying all of the right things.  But I was miserable for a couple of years.  I was the person who continually said, “why me,” “it’s not fair,” “when is it going to be our turn?”  I could not stand going into a Babies R Us.  I braced myself whenever I spoke to one of my girlfriends who I knew was also trying to get pregnant, for fear that she was going to tell me her good news.  I admire people who handle infertility with grace.  I wish I could say that I had always done so as well.

I’ll never forget the time we went to visit a good friend in the hospital a day or two after she had her first child.  We walked into her hospital room and saw her sitting up in bed, glowing in her serene happiness.  The baby lay quietly and calmly in the arms of one of her other friends who had come to visit.  The baby was so tiny and perfect.  The father proudly introduced us, and they told us about their labor and delivery experience.  We expressed congratulations, fawned over the baby, and wished them well during her recovery.  The father accompanied us back to the elevator to say goodbye.  As soon as the elevator doors closed and he was no longer in view, I broke down and sobbed.

I am sharing this now for two reasons.  First, I suspect others out there can relate, and I want them to know that they’re not alone.  Second, I want to share how I started to feel more at peace with our situation, even before we began the adoption process.  Rather than trying to put all of my thoughts in one post, I will post more in the coming days about this topic.  In my next post on this subject, I’ll share how the most meaningful advice I received on how to deal with infertility came from Archie Griffin.

Growing up!

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Children, Photos

I have found it very easy to forget how little Katherine once was.  I look at her now and think that she came out this size, all 28+ inches and almost 20 pounds of her.  So I enjoy looking at pictures of her when she was first born to remember how little she actually was.

Daddy and Katherine - 2 days old

Daddy and Katherine - 6 months old