Her own person

PiElla began her life as a part of me and a part of Jay joining and nestling into my womb. Her and her placenta grew like new organs within my body, completely encapsulated and interconnected. Then she was born, and while that began her launch as an autonomous human being, she was still completely dependent on me for every ounce of nutrition and a good deal of help regulating the rest of her bodily systems.

Today PiElla spent her first day in the care of a “stranger” (a lovely woman we found who is taking care of PiElla and her own son on her days off from teaching second grade). I haven’t had the full report yet, but judging by the pictures with smile I received today, I’d say PiElla did pretty well with this next big step in becoming her own independent person.

Good enough

This seems to be the theme of my life right now. There is a lot of talk about it at work. I’ve read enough “mom advice” to have active in my mind the concepts of mommy guilt and the good enough mother. I feel that I am probably doing better than I ever have in my life about being at peace about good enough. Which may be why something that has never bothered me before has been getting to me lately. I have never had a problem with saying I’m sorry, before now. I’ve started to feel like I am constantly saying I’m sorry. From where I sit at the center of my life, I feel like I’m doing a pretty good job of managing all the trade offs and choosing how to spend my time and attention. But pull it apart and look at each piece individually, and almost every one is disappointing in some way. So I apologize to the people I’m impacting. It’s a fine thing to do and probably the right thing to do. Unfortunately, it’s starting to drive me a little crazy feeling like I’m disappointing people at every turn. Even though I’m trying to be good enough, not perfect, it doesn’t seem to be … well, enough. Am I really being as disappointing to everyone as I feel I am, or am I projecting onto others my own disappointments in myself? I don’t really know where to go from here. I want to be respectful of others and acknowledge if the trade offs and decisions I make adversely impact them, and at the same time I don’t want to feel like one big disappointment.

Working Mom

Things that are making being a working mom of a baby tolerable (in no particular order):
– Teleworking and having PiElla on Wednesdays.
– The schedule flexibility of being professional staff and having understanding and supportive bosses.
– Having my own personal office and enough control over my calendar to not have too much trouble scheduling pumping times.
– The wonderful job Jay is doing of making sure that dinner is ready when I get home (or at least shortly thereafter).
– The amazing generosity of our friends (and making the most of two hospital visits) that have meant I have had to devote almost no time to shopping for pump supplies (or PiElla for that matter – thank you all!).
– Cosleeping and the very positive, sweet night nursing relationship that PiElla and I have.
– Having been through much worse (more than once) over the past six months.

New pictures of me!

Father I can hold my bottle on my own.


I picked out my own clothes and Father helped me put them on!


Father dressed me and nothing matched right.  I fixed it though.


Father says that all I need now is a pickelhaube.  I told him I like pickles.  I do not like fire alarms.  Father’s office was loud.  The fire alarm hurt my ears.  It woke me from my nap.  The firefighters were nice.  They gave me a badge!  I am a junior fire now.  Father says to ignore his mail in the background.


Grandfather spun me in circles.  I feel asleep.  I like playing with Grandfather.  He spent a whole week with me.  Great Grandmother was there too.  It was nice.  They played with me a lot.  They taught me how to say Momma and how to pop my lips.  I love tugging on Grandfather’s beard.  His beard is real soft.  Father’s beard is prickly.  I like it when Father shaves.  But Father has funny textures when he does not shave.  It is rough and I like to pinch it.  Mother does not like it when I pinch.  Father says I am on a tangent.  He makes me laugh with funny words.


Father took me to the office on Monday.  He put me in my mei tai.  He faced me out.  It was fun.  I usually sleep with my head on his chest.  Instead I was able to grab the world.  It was tasty!  I laughed a lot.  I met new people.  Someone asked Father if he was my Grandfather!  I told her she was silly.


My head is looking round.  Father showed it to me.  He says it is amazing.


I like to move a lot.  Father says that makes me blurry.  I tell him it lets me see everything.  My head is looking much better.  I am proud of it.


I like being carried by Mother.  She hugs me and holds me real nice.


Surprise!  I have a cow girl sticker.


Is it morning already?  I am not sure I want to get up.  Can we sleep some more Father?


Father took me shopping.  He put me in the cart.  It was cold.  He put my blanket under me.  That was soft.  I kept falling over.  Father put rice and beans next to me.  I liked to pinch them.  He would not let me eat them.  Father said plastic is bad for me to eat.  He is silly.


Father will not let me touch Jumbo.  He says it belongs to Robert.  Father took Jumbo apart.  Poor Jumbo.


Mother put me on her head.  I was real tall.  It made me giggle a lot.  The world is a splendid place.  I love Mother.


It had to happen eventually

Or the post that burst my happy place…

I had been working on a post about my return to work since my first day back on Friday, catching bits and pieces of time here and there to reflect on all that we were experiencing.

And I lost it, just one of those things that happens sometimes when there is a hiccup in the phone ap I’ve been using (let me tell you, I have a hard time imaging life as a nursing and working mom without an iPhone).

Now I want to cry. I’ve been keeping it together, appreciating the good side of things, accepting what I can’t control. Now I feel like all the stuffing got pulled out of me and all I have the energy for is a little whimper. Which is a shame, because we all probably would have enjoyed my other post more. But I’m not about to rewrite it in bits and pieces over the next few days and still have nothing to say about my return to work until it is very old news.

So there you have it. I returned to work. It has pluses and minuses. I’m too overwhelmed to say anything more.

Time with Grandparents and Great Grandparents

Celeste has returned to work.  After more than six months to kickstart PiElla on this journey called life, Celeste had to return to her day job.  She had requested a 4 x 10’s schedule – 4 days a week, 10 hours a day.  Unfortunately, that option was unavailable, but she was offered a regular 5 x 8’s with Wednesdays at home.

With Celeste returning to work, our adventures in child care are starting.  We have lined up a nanny-share for Thursdays and Fridays.  On Wednesdays, Celeste will stay at home.  On Tuesdays, Robert and Lianna – Grandparents – will be helping out.  And on Monday, I get PiElla for the day.

I look forward to the Mondays and hope that PiElla and I will find a way to enjoy them.

However, to get us off to a good start and to help PiElla with the transition, my father Lonny and Grandmother Laura came up for the first week.  PiElla is now hanging out with her Grandfather and Great Grandmother.  Last Friday was rough for all of them, yesterday was better, and today seems even better.  Hopefully this will get PiElla into the habit of eating with others during the day and then be ready for Mom in the evening.

It is difficult to leave PiElla with other people, but I have had that experience for six months now . . . as I had to go back to work the next Monday after she was born.  That is one of the sad products of having a private practice.  On the other hand, PiElla loves it when I come home, and starts to get fussy around the time she expects me to return.  Now, I anticipate her doing the same for Celeste’s return.

We greatly appreciate the help we are getting and the caring PiElla is receiving.  I can only hope that the path forward is smooth for all of us.




Pi Day!

March 14.  3/14.  3.14.  Apparently Pi Day was created by Larry Shaw, so sayeth the Wikipedia. I was first introduced to Pi Day in high school and have celebrated it on and off for years.  For the last four years, I have managed to celebrate it each year with friends and family.  Basically, it is a good excuse to make and eat a lot of PIE!  And we do like our pie around here.

This year, Pi Day marks six days after PiElla turning six months old.  It feels like a major milestone for us, but we have done little to celebrate it.  However, that has not stopped many of our friends from sending us comments about Pi Day, some wishing PiElla a happy birthday (oops, it was her time of birth 3:14 PM, not the day of birth), and many others just sending her well wishes or a happy six month  birthday.  I must admit, I found it all a bit surprising, as I hope she likes Pi when she gets older, but do not feel the day has any particular significance other than being near her half-year mark and the coincidence of her name.  Nonetheless, that has not stopped my desire of wanting to eat pie on Pi Day, because that just seems like a necessity for life.  Now I just have to make one!

Now to share the Pi Media we have received:

The Music of Pi to 220 Decimal Places – Thanks Jake!

A pie featuring Pi from Sally:

And last, but not least, PiElla celebrating Pi Day by eating something round:



Shopping with Father

Father took me shopping.  I sat in the cart.  He strapped me down.  I fell sideways.  He put a bag of rice beside me.  I tried to eat it.  He said it was not cooked.  I said it sounded fun.  I played with the plastic.  Father flipped it over.  He would not let me eat the plastic.  He said it was bad for me.  I said it was fun.  He said I could pinch it.  I pinched it a lot.  I flirted with everyone.  Some people ignored me.  Father said that is okay.  I like to meet new people.  Some are nice.  They tell me I am cute.  They play with me.  They smile at me.  I had a lot of fun.  Riding in the cart was nice.  I want to do it again.  I want Mother to do it with me too.


Parents’ night out

Last night PiElla got to spend a fun evening hanging out with her cousin Caitlyn, uncle Ian, and aunt Christina. Jay and I got our third parents-only excursion since she was born and our most complete “date night” yet.

We went to dinner at one of our favorite Columbia City restaurants, Wabi Sabi. We had been looking forward to the walk, but it was spitting snow, blowing ice, and we’d literally lost an hour in our day, so we went ahead and drove. We had a fabulous dinner but most of all we had a chance for some really good conversation about our next steps – as a family, as individuals, in our careers, and in our personal lives. It was the reconnecting and reflecting that we needed. I feel so blessed to have the husband I have.

We stopped by the neighborhood after dinner and I fed PiElla. I had been planning to put PiElla to bed before we went out again, but she was wide awake after eating, so I handed her back to Ian and off we went. It was harder leaving the second time. She was all smiles and I was ready to cry.

I wasn’t about to back out though, because our next destination was dancing! We went to the alternative milonga at the Century Ballroom, where they play non-traditional tango and non-tango music that you can dance tango to. I go back to work this Friday, so this was the last time I would be up for going to a dance that starts at 9pm on a Sunday. We had a fabulous time. I had been pretty nervous about how well I would do. It was gratifying how much my body remembered how to do. We weren’t the most beautiful or polished couple on the dance floor. The muscles of my belly and lower back often felt like they were going to give out, as I told them what to do for the posture and core strength that makes a good dance and they protested that they have been badly stretched as well as pulled apart to make way for a baby. But it felt so good and we had such fun – it was nourishing, healing, and energizing.

Six month check up

PiElla had her six month check up today. Of course we talked with the pediatrician about the surgery and the helmet, and she did take a culture from one of the white dots that had suddenly shown up on PiElla’s head yesterday, but it was really refreshing to have a doctor visit that was just a normal child check up. Everything was good. PiElla is petite, which we’ve been hearing increasing comments about, but not concerningly so. We have been worrying a bit about her motor skills – she hasn’t been a big fan of tummy time since she was in the pavlic harness, and between surgery, adjusting to the helmet, and everything else, there have been a few weeks where we haven’t pushed it either. But the doctor was happy with the development of her motor skills and her language skills. When the doctor addressed her by name and PiElla looked straight at her, she was very impressed with how well she knows her own name. It was a reassuring visit and a nice reminder that despite her few structural issues our daughter is fundamentally a healthy, thriving little girl.

What the surgeons removed, and PiElla’s many heads

First, some thanks.  Thanks to Mike at Materialise, and several others within the company, I was able to get a trial license to Mimics.  With that I was able to convert the CT scans of PiElla’s head in to a 3D model.  I then attempted to upload that model to Shapeways, but it was too large of a file and had far too many polygons for the normal printing procedures.

Thanks to Ralph, Duann, and many others at Shapeways, I was able to both afford and print the full scale model of PiElla’s head.  Duann led me through how to upload the model data, and Ralph and his team went out of their way to quickly print the model and ship it to me internationally.  As a result, we received it the day of my daughter’s surgery and were able to present it to the surgeons, who sketched out the surgeons did to PiElla’s skull and used the skull to explain to us what was going on – plus were able to get a tactile feel for their own work.  We now understand the full immensity of what the surgeons removed, are able to visually explain it to others, and will be able to better explain it to PiElla when she asks about what happened in the years to come.

Without these two teams, our understanding of what was going on with our daughter would not have been nearly as thorough and comfortable as it was.  Thanks to them, we not only have the visual ability to see what was going on, but can explore its tactile nature.  Thank you all very much or helping us.

Now, for PiElla’s many heads!

The following gallery shows all of PiElla’s heads – her 3D printed skull, her foam head model, her helmet, and her own head!  Each item in the gallery has a description explaining what is going on in the photograph.  Rather than repeat all of that information here, I refer you to the gallery.

Most importantly, the gallery shows the cuts made on PiElla’s skull in order to remove a large portion of it, so that the helmet therapy will reshape her skull.  Note, the slideshow view of the gallery does not show the descriptions, but both the PicLens view and clicking individual pictures show the descriptive text.  The models of the skull are toward the end.