Sunday, December 16, 2012


Belle is officially a toddler.  She turned one year old on Friday, December seventh.  We commemorated her birthday with her 12 month check up:  17 lbs, 3.5 oz and 26.6 inches.  The doctor burst through the door with a growth chart in hand, saying, "She's on the growth chart!"  One week later, during her last visit with the health visitor, Belle weighed in at 17 lbs, 7.5 oz.

I serve Belle buttered whole grain or whole wheat bread at every meal.  I may even spread a puree on top (We shared Gerber green beans yesterday.).  Belle ate a piece of fried fish at our church's holiday dinner last night.  She has a hearty appetite.  She even climbs out of her antique high chair and onto the dining room table during meals.

Friday, November 23, 2012


Belle celebrated her first Thanksgiving in the cat suit she wore for Halloween.  I made our dinner:  one twelve pound turkey, gravy, cornbread dressing, cranberry sauce, mashed yams, roasted carrots with apples and onions and pumpkin bread pudding.  I made everything from scratch except for the dressing.  That came from a mix.  Even the pumpkin had once been oven roasted, processed and frozen by me ahead of time.  We sampled most foods as we made them, just not the turkey.  I literally snatched the roasted skin off its breast and took off.  Our own dinner would need to wait.  We had places at two dinner tables on Thanksgiving

Monday, November 5, 2012


Thursday, November eighth marks thirty-one years since my mother's murder and my father's suicide.  This is the first anniversary in my adult life where I have something healthy and positive in my life to offset the tragedy.  I am a mother now, five years older than my mother was when she died.  In a few years I will outlive my father too.

My parents died less than ten days after Halloween, wiping out any memories of Halloween 1981.  I grew up with a religious fanatic for a grandmother, afraid of Halloween, only celebrating Halloween at school and never at home.  This year I dressed myself as a peacock and Belle as a feisty black cat.  We collected candy in the rain and without an umbrella until I could walk no further.  I had so much fun.

I have had six consecutively stellar days leading into this anniversary week.  I aim for my vibration to stay this high in order for me to attract the very best for us.  I had been stuck for many years before Belle.  I didn't attract the best things for myself because I didn't always feel deserving.  I didn't feel deserving because I'd lost my parents and my grandparents.  Without a sense of familial identity, I didn't have anyone to hold me accountable or to make proud.  Now I do.  She calls me "Maum."

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Growing up

Belle weighed in at 15 lbs, 9 oz on October tenth.  She is rapidly outgrowing the 6 month clothing size, as I discovered very early Thursday morning when I couldn't get two blouses over her head.  I am currently washing her 9 months clothes, noting clothes marked Newborn, Small or 6 months that can accommodate up to 20 pounds.  I am very curious what the scales will read in the coming week.

I am still breastfeeding Belle on demand, co-sleeping and dream feeding.  Belle self-feeds peeled bananas, bread and anything she can hold onto and nibble without dripping onto herself.  She enjoys draining purees made from organic fruits and vegetables from convenient foil pouches.  We share mashed potatoes, mashed garnet yams, homemade applesauce and most other appropriately soft foods.  Sometimes I feed her from the jars of baby food I keep on hand in between bites of bread.  It takes all of me to keep her hands out of the purees.

Belle especially loves baby yogurt, made from whole milk and organic fruit.  She comes to life eating that.  She has the same reaction to oven roasted and mashed yams.  I recently prepared a four ounce bowl of yams to feed Belle from.  She loved it so much that she asked for more and more, not stopping until she'd eaten twelve ounces of yams for dinner.  The next night, in stark contrast, Belle appeared content with just one slice of whole grain bread.  I let her motion yes or no and self-regulate.

Monday, October 8, 2012


Not a doormat

G paid me (not Belle!) an unexpected visit in the wee hours of Saturday morning. I realised this when I discovered his crumpled hat on my doormat, next to unopened bags of crackers and containers of yogurt for two, at 9:30 Saturday morning. There was nothing for Belle, of course. I tied the hat into a bag to give to her later. She deserves something of his.

I spied G late Saturday afternoon at a street faire.  He approached me. I made sure he held Belle while I took pictures. Later on he brought a female friend along to meet Belle. He made some mention of bringing something by in two weeks' time, not for Belle, but for me.

I made a friend today who says she has profitted handsomely from child support. She is fifty-five now (Her daughter is now thirty-four) and is still getting back child support. I have not pressed G for anything, despite his claims that he has a wealth in assets. I am hanging loose for now.

I consciously agreed to a sexual relationship with G once upon a time. I wasn't victimised or duped. I was drinking a lot, eating to excess and not living up to my full potential. Motherhood represents me at my full potential, with all those unhealthy appetites curbed. I had already made the shift by attracting G as a lover.  Now that I have Belle, I am on the right track.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Mother Train

Belle and I recently attended a birthday party for our neighbours' three year old son. The boy is currently interested in trains, which served as theme for the party. I remembered my mother's train set in the garage as I watched the child marvel at his train shaped cake. This, coupled with tonight's full moon (Feminine. Mother.) in my fourth house of home, got me thinking about my mother.

I witnessed my mother's murder and my father's suicide as a five year old. I spent many years avoiding committed relationships as an unfortunate result. I also developed a complex love/hate relationship with a woman I never knew. This might explain why I spent thirty-four weeks pregnant and oblivious. How does one become a mother without being fully mothered?

Tonight I realised these are my mother's issues, not mine. My mother made choices which ultimately prevented her from being my mother and Belle's grandmother. While everyone remembers her as "so sweet," her personal life was a mess. There is no guarantee that she would even be of any help to me if she were alive. Had she successfully left my father, she surely would have drifted off with someone more abusive and dependent. I probably would not be me with her here.

I placed the train swag bag:  cotton engineer's hat, train whistle and stickers underneath a portrait of my mother as a child of seven or so.  This is a fitting tribute to the innocent and loving child she was, the part of her that wanted so much to be here in this world.

Monday, September 17, 2012


We like a savory breakfast:  meat, fish or poultry and/or cheese, scrambled eggs, vegetables and rice.  We are not satisfied with cold cereal.  In fact, dry Cheerios make an excellent snack a couple hours later when paired with a banana, of which we eat in abundance.  This makes a great start to the day!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

9 mos

Belle turns nine months old this week.  She weighed in at 13 lbs, 10 oz at her nine month check up last Friday. Her doctor reminded me that Belle could weigh 17 lbs already had she gained steadily early on.  I feel Belle may plump up now that she is so excited about table foods.  Table foods are serious business.  Belle wants everything she sees in her mouth.  I anticipate weight gain.

Monday, August 27, 2012


Yesterday's church picnic gave me an opportunity to showcase my cooking with a variation on loaves and fish.  I baked biscuits, slit them open, spread them with butter and spooned on freshly made tuna salad.  Then I topped the tuna salad with sharp cheddar and half a cherry tomato and melted the cheese in the oven.  I heard rave reviews. 

Two five ounce cans of tuna and one pan of biscuits attracted a generous hunk of a chocolate sheet cake, several hamburger buns, three sliced tomatoes and several slices of watermelon.  That is why I love making the loaves and fish.  Twice I have manifested leftovers when I have served it.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

8 mos

Belle turned eight months old tonight.  We celebrated with a puree blend of organic banana and garnet yam, with oils added for Omega-3.  Then we walked down to 7-11 for National Night Out, a yearly community building and crime prevention event.  Belle watched curiously as I drank a Slurpee and ate a ham sandwich.  Then she gripped my unopened bag of Sun Chips like it was just another noise making toy.

Belle now weighs 12 lbs, 12 oz and measures 24.5 inches.  She gained eight ounces from last Friday's visit.  Her doctor said it's OK for Belle to be small as long as she stays on a curve.  Belle only gained four ounces in July.  Her doctor recommended a nutritional supplement that added an extra sixty calories a day.  I realised I can accomplish doublee this with continued feeding on demand plus butter, cereal and complimentary foods at least twice a day.  It worked.

Friday, July 27, 2012


I spent one week in silence, with minimal Internet and phone.  In this time, I cleaned house.  I revered my ancestors.  I cooked food to share with others.  I attended community events.  I also wrote long hand in a notebook.  Now I am in beast mode, and in a good way.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Birthday dream

I celebrated my thirty-six birthday on Friday, July thirteenth. I spent my birthday planning my dish for a potluck the next day. I made salmon stuffed eggs and salmon stuffed eggs au gratin, with white sauce, cheese and bread crumbs. I also made corn bread in cast iron. I went to bed and dreamed this:

A man knocked on my door asking for work. He looked like a hoodlum with his narrow eyes and du rag. Three older men already in my living room all agreed that I should not help this man. I shut and locked my door and walked toward my kitchen. Within seconds, the man unlocked the door, entered my home and threw an explosive that killed my three male friends. I grabbed my mobile off the counter, darted out the back door and hopped the fence.

It was nightfall when I reached the sidewalk. I carried corn bread baked in a square pan into a women's boutique. I set down the pan and looked into a full length mirror. I wore a clingy white top and long skirt split up the middle, a modern contrast to the vintage inspired fashion in the boutique. I selected a corn muffin in a star shape from the food table and ventured outside into the dark.  That's it.

Friday, July 6, 2012

7 mos

Belle is seven months old tomorrow. Today she measured in at 11 lbs, 15.2 oz, 25 inches and 42 cm head circumference. Her height and head are on a growth curve while her weight is not. Despite it all, I believe those baby food pancakes are working. She gained seven ounces in one week. I am pleased.

Monday, July 2, 2012


Belle ate her first pancakes yesterday.  I added to one box of Jiffy cornbread mix 3 tablespoons of soybean oil, 2 egg yolks and 6 ounces of Gerber apple, banana and strawberry puree.  Belle took one bite and fell in love.  I want to try it with a vegetable puree next time.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


Belle and I shared an avocado, a banana and a can of sardines last night.  Thankfully we were in a dry bath tub because Belle was covered in olive oil from head to foot.  I gave her a full baby massage and ran a bath.  Then she fell asleep.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Blame the Cosmos

My drinking increased significantly after I moved up North.  I knew I wouldn't meet any singles at my nearest church.  I only met older, retired people and young families.  I took a risk and started mingling inside the bars (and family restaurants with bar seating) within walking distance of my home.  I felt confident enough to take care of myself in public and around alcohol and men.  As my confidence increased, so did the critical response from some of the men I would meet.  I met the shadow side of myself and others during this process.  Their insecurities became my insecurities, and never vice versa.  I found my faith tested as my beliefs and values were challenged.  I knew I needed something else.  When I started seeing Belle's father, as I have since learned, he felt inspired to rescue me from what he considered were poor choices.  He took misguided measures to save me from myself.  I never said I needed saving.  I needed a growthful experience.  I grew in ways I never would have had I stayed in Los Angeles.  I won't regret anything.  Things went the awry the way they were meant.

Saturday, June 9, 2012


We celebrated Belle's half birthday with an Asian variety sweet potato, oven roasted and pureed with butter and powdered ginger.  I turned out the lights and spoke gratitude and wishes over a single candle stuck in half a slice of red velvet cake.  At six months, Belle showed zero interest in the cake.  I loved every delicious bite.  I also savored the last of a Venus named red wine I'd opened in honor of the Venus transit last Tuesday.  We had a marvelous time.  I am very happy with Belle in my life.  Now let's manifest the rest of the pie.

Monday, June 4, 2012


I am learning how to cook as simply as possible, using just butter or olive oil, in many cases.  Last night I sauteed zucchini in butter, oven roasted a sweet potato and pureed that sweet potato with both Danish Creamery butter and Imperial margarine.  Belle realised whatever I was doing (cooking) pertained to [eating] and threw a fit.  I had to pick her up and let her supervise the frying pan so she would stop crying.  Then she saw the sweet potato and lost it.  I had to feed her tiny bits of it just to calm her down enough to puree it properly.  Belle loved our meal so much that I didn't have time to give her a bib or a spoon.  We happily ate with our hands while standing at the counter.

Sunday, June 3, 2012


Belle weighed in at 10lbs, 11oz and 23.5in on Friday, June first.  I am very pleased.  She nurses on demand and eats two servings of rice or oats day with butter or olive oil and fruit or a vegetable.  Belle may not weigh much for her age, but she is getting there.

Friday, May 25, 2012


I conquered last week's low libido with an unexpected romp with an old flame.  It wasn't the marathon coupling of times past; it was better.  It was better because I am over myself.  The lights were on, my legs were hairy and I didn't care.  I had accepted myself and had presented myself without pretense.  I had an amazing experience with a wonderful person.  I am very pleased.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Over the hump

Belle weighs 10lbs, 0.5z. This is three and a half ounces away from doubling her birth weight. Belle weighed 8lbs, 14.5oz on April 17. This is a significant weight gain. I am delighted. I am also done with formula. Semi-solids and rice cereal with olive oil make excellent supplemental nutrition to exclusive breastfeeding at this stage.

Sunday, May 13, 2012


Belle has gained an entire pound in three weeks.  She weighed in at 9lbs, 13oz on Friday.  This is almost double her 5lbs, 2oz birth weight.  I wish exclusive breast feeding had gotten her there.  Maybe it would have under different circumstances.  In any event, I am continuing breast feeding on demand, plus five and a half ounces of higher calorie formula daily.  I am also pumping.

Belle ate her first banana last week.  I broke off tiny chunks and mashed them with my fingers to feed to her.  She seemed to enjoy that.  Now we share one banana daily.  Last night I oven roasted sweet potatoes and cooked green split peas.  I mashed a portion of each, added in olive oil and filled ice cube trays.  Each cube will make the perfect serving size once warmed.  I also bought two avocados, which is our next food.

I am very committed to Junior's care and feeding.  I am also very tense.  A nurse commented on my tension during a recent weight check.  It is harder to relax and enjoy this because I had a cryptic pregnancy.  Doctors, nurses, etc were borderline abusive in response.  I feel I must be on guard and selfless.  Meanwhile, I am not having any "me" time.  This became apparent very early Saturday morning when confronted with temptation.

A old flame dropped in for a late night/early morning visit.  We hadn't seen each other in four years and hadn't slept together in five.  Of course Belle needed to be changed and fed and present to chaperon.  We discussed the children we have both had since our last coupling and rose to say goodnight.  That turned into an awkward kiss and the sad truth I am too tightly wound even for a fling.  This is someone I am still quite fond of.  I would like my body to cooperate.  I am not feeling very sexual at the moment.  How do I get that back?

Friday, May 4, 2012


Belle weighed in at 9lbs, 10oz yesterday.  Those extra five and a half ounces a day are working.  She has nearly gained one pound in two weeks.  Belle will be on the charts soon, albeit in the lowest percentile for her age.  Her head size is already there, just not her body.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

On the 6

I zipped myself into a size 6 skirt yesterday.  One of the vendors at our Tuesday farmer's market asked me what my secret is.  I have no secrets.  I have a baby.  I eat plenty of whole grain cereal (Cheerios, Life, oats sometimes), rice (primarily white), vegetables, fruits, protein (eggs, canned fish, cheese, split peas), dairy and oils.  I drink caffeinated tea and eat chocolate when I can get it.  I allow myself chocolate dipped ice cream cones at Foster's Freeze.  I also drink water and walk for long periods of time.

Yesterday I bought beets with greens still attached for one dollar.  The beets were the equivalent of three servings.  I tossed them in olive oil, balsalmic vinegar and course sea salt and roasted them in the oven.  I pan fried a New York steak in butter, sea salt, black pepper and Cajun spice blend, removed the steak from the pan and then sauteed the beet greens in the fat from the meat.  I made a pot of white rice, poured purple grape juice into a stemless wine glass and had an excellent dinner.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


Belle surprised me on Saturday morning when she instinctively backed herself into my arms so we could spoon.  I thought I would die from cute.  We had a brief moment of closeness before she awoke to feed again.  That started a very nice weekend. 

I try to make our farmer's market on Saturdays, even if I only spend five dollars.  This time I spent six dollars on three bunches of kale and a bunch of radishes and was directed to bags of food being handed out by the food bank set up behind the mosque.  Now I am enjoying a marionberry pie!

I found a very lovely cut of salmon at Lucky yesterday.  I love oven roasted salmon with lemon, sea salt and pepper.  I could practically taste that when the lovely Belle lulled me into a late evening nap.  Dinner became a bowl of Life cereal with a few Cheerios added for shiggles.

Life cereal left soaking in milk for several minutes until completely soggy is one of my few vices now that I am knee deep in baby care.  I also love my daily tea.  I brought home a pack of loose leaf yerba mate on Friday that I am keen to tear into soon.  Belle and I will drink tea together someday.

Sunday, April 29, 2012


Belle is hitting her developmental milestones despite her weight. She learned how to roll her tongue and blow bubbles of spit last night. She managed to shoot spit upwards onto the top of her own head by the end of it. I guess that's where my coffee kicked in. I'd siphoned three cups of coffee into the coffee thermos I'd brought from home at Thin Man's Saturday Serenade earlier in the day. Belle started making snow angels in the bedsheets and blowing bubbles of spit a few hours later. She looked like David Lee Roth asking for "a bottle of anything and a glazed donut, to go."

Belle is always wide eyed. She has bright, clear eyes that stay wide open, like the little Afghan girl. She is keenly aware and very sensitive. Belle can roll onto her back from her tummy. She can also use her legs to push herself up to face me. I learned this a few nights ago when I took too long to feed her. Belle scooted up to meet my face with hers and cried in protest. She is very bright, if not a little small. I think she is a slow but steady gainer who could make up for it with a very big spurt, unlike many babies who gain rapidly and taper off. Belle could reflect a new normal in breastfed infants (She isn't the only baby to lose almost an entire pound after birth and regain it by week six.).

Friday, April 27, 2012

Small fry

Belle and I trekked into Oakland on the same buses as Belle's father this morning.  We were headed to the clinic for a weight check.  He was headed to work.  Belle stared at her father from across the aisle for several minutes.  She stared at him the same as she does most people and things.  Her father commented on her pink headband and that was that. 

I am beginning to wonder if Belle's slower weight gain plays a larger role, especially in regards father-daughter bonding (or lack thereof).  Her struggles landed us in hospital first and then a children's clinic near her father's job for follow up visits.  That clinic is probably the only way the pair would see each other, despite the fact that we all live on the same island.

Belle now weighs 9lbs, 4oz, up only three ounces from last Friday.  The doctor has suggested I use a "24 calorie per ounce" formula recipe.  I can prepare this with a certain ratio of powdered infant formula added to water or expressed breast milk.  Belle is meeting developmental milestones, just not weight.

The doctor suggested I could have my breast milk tested for nutritional content (She was serious!).  Belle always seems so satisfied during and after feedings.  Her eyes narrow into little slits as she gulps it down.  Then she passes out...and gains little weight.  The doctor also sugggested additional blood tests for Belle as a last resort if she doesn't gain more weight soon.  I am under the gun, once again.

Monday, April 23, 2012


Belle has officially outgrown the cradle position now that I have successfully mastered threading our ring sling.  Many moms of older children in our church commented, "She's too big for [the ring sling]," not realising a cloth sling can accommodate a baby or toddler from five to thirty-five pounds.  It all depends on the care giver's comfort level.  I am very comfortable carrying Belle and have done so since she weighed four pounds something.  That said, I finally took Belle's lead and tucked her inside her sling with her arms and legs dangling free.  We both enjoyed that!


Belle and I enjoyed this weekend's heat wave at the beach.  Belle slept soundly for most of it.  She attracted her usual share of attention because of her size.  A four month old who only weighs nine pounds is a curiosity compared to today's nine pound newborn.  Belle is perfectly healthy despite her [unusual?] size.  She has doubled her lowest recorded weight and then some.

I indulged another mother's request to meet Belle during Saturday's beach trip.  Her 15 month old weighs nineteen pounds.  We talked briefly before moving along.  We were being observed by a pair of older black women, unbeknownst to me.  One of the women called me over to caution me in her motherly way.  She warned me against the hazards of white people, wind and the spread of colic.  Yes, colic. 

This woman thinks colic is a contagious disease a [black] baby can catch from exposure to [white] people and the elements.  It's this sort of thinking that ultimately led a young resident to advise me against joining any support groups for moms.  Cultural and group identity can bear profound influence over one's actions.  A new mom with a different mindset might embrace the notion that she must protect her baby from disease bearing members of other cultures and miss opportunities to make great friends with other moms outside of her community. 

I am more of an iconoclast and an individual.  Nothing about me is traditional.  I am actually least likely to follow the herd, especially when others offer me such crazy advice.  A friend suggested I start Belle on rice cereal a couple weeks ago.  I smiled and nodded and I did nothing of the sort.  I didn't give Belle rice cereal until last Friday, at the suggestion of her doctor.  Even then, I made my own cereal using brown rice, a stove and a blender.  I am actually much smarter than I am being given credit for.  I don't take risks with Belle.  I let people see her but I don't let people handle her.  I act appropriately and I expect others to do the same.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Just a blip

I reacted to my pregnancy by not registering it. I ended my relationship with Belle's father as soon as I conceived. I ate as organically as possible, with ingredients found at Alameda farmer's and other local markets. I expanded my palette to include more beer, fiery peppers (and hot sauce!), garlic, ginger, mustard, onions and vinegar. I kept physically and socially active. I traded in all the gold, platinum and silver jewelry my grandmother hoarded for cash. I re-organised my grandfather's collection of jazz records and listened to them in alphabetical order. I got two tattoos. I had a brief but passionate affair with someone who ultimately inspired me to return to Catholic church. Now I am a proud mother with a healthier lifestyle and an active role in our local community. Pregnacy horomones impact different women in different ways.

Friday, April 20, 2012


I am very proud of Belle. She weighed in at 9lbs, 1oz and twenty-two inches long. The doctor suggested she try rice cereal for extra calories. I remembered the recipe for brown rice cereal someone sent to my inbox just this week. I am now very delighted to write that Belle ate cereal for the first time tonight. She just went along with it. Unfortunately, the feeding happened before I could put a bib on her or reattach the feeding tray to her Bumbo. Belle and I were both left covered in cereal by the end of it. Fortunately, we were both naked to the waist on account of an unexpected heat wave. We didn't sacrifice any clothing for this experiement. I put Belle in her baby tub without any water in it while I ran us a bath in the big tub. I went down to make myself some tea, fetch wash cloths, etc. I found Belle sound asleep in her dry tub several minutes later. I guess she liked her cereal.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Burgers and ice cream.

I ate Nations for dinner last night. I hadn't eaten Nations since before Belle's birth. Nations is a local fast food chain that makes actual burgers without heat lamps and other junk. Bacon cheeseburgers and chilli cheese fries are delicious at Nations, especially after the bars close. I spent many a night at Nations, hence, why I got so fat.

Last night I ate a cheeseburger with grilled onions, sliced pickles and a side of fries. I brought my food home and ate it standing up in the kitchen. I left Belle sleeping in her Hot Slings with her tummy pressed against mine during my dinner. I had thrown kale to the wind just for a night. I slept so well under the influence of all that protein and fat.

Today I had a dipped cone at Fosters Freeze. I hadn't been to Fosters Freeze in almost two years. I ordered the largest vanilla ice cream cone and had it dipped in a hard chocolate coating. I devoured that cone for the length of our walk home. It tasted like heaven. I cannot wait until Belle is old enough for such occasional indulgences.

I am actually a very disciplined eater, disciplined to the point of measuring and weighing foods, counting carbs, fiber and protein (I studied the Pritikin Weight Loss Manual once upon a time.).That's how I lost even more weight after taking charge of my grandmother's diabetic diet, only to slowly regain it after being stuck by a car as a pedestrian and other trials.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Can I call you?

A "musician" in his fifties asked if he could call me sometime. He must live in my neighbourhood. We are always passing each other in the street these days. He called after me from the window of a car being driven by a much younger man with longish hair and a dog. I quickly sized up the driver of the car while declining the musician's offer. I must be careful with men now that I am a mother of an infant daughter.

I auditioned men in my own unique and careful way before I had Belle. At worst, I dated men who couldn't be vulnerable. Many suffered with emotional and mental health issues, including Belle's father. I am sure some were similar to my own father, a man so troubled at the end of his life that he decided to take my mother's life before his own. I am lucky I never became a victim.

I am open to romantic love and all the biological changes that come with it now more than ever. I can realistically birth another child or two. I met someone with Belle in utero who helped me get clear on exactly the sort of man I am interested in. This man is a healthier construct than anyone I have attracted over the years. I am looking forward to his arrival, whomever he is.

Saturday, April 14, 2012


I read tarot cards. I have read tarot cards since Summer of 2003. I consider myself rather proficient in tarot card reading. That being said, I decided to tackle a serious and personal question last Friday. Using my New Palladini deck, I asked why my life has gone the way it has, from me witnessing my parents' murder/suicide as a five year old, to being a single mom without these parents to turn to for moral support?

Significator: The Devil
Present environment: 6 of Cups
Crossing: Knight of Swords
Base of the matter: 5 of Pentacles
Recent past: Ace of Cups
Crown: 4 of Cups
Immediate future: The Emperor
Future environment/My self: 4 of Wands
Outer influences: Queen of Cups
Hopes/Fears: Page of Swords
Outcome: The Chariot, The Tower (The High Priestess)

Thursday, April 12, 2012


Today I traded in some of Belle's "Preemie" and "Newborn" clothing for a waterproof bib, a bowl and a plate for when she starts solid foods. I impulsively selected two more headbands and a bath tub toy that resembles a fish to round out the extra store credit. The bib, bowl and plate carry a ladybug print and are made by Skip Hop!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Feeling better.

I am also starting to feel better about everything that happened during Belle's surprise birth. I walked into the hospital "off the street," to quote the social workers and other agents, and delivered a baby after nearly thirty-five weeks without any prenatal care. They didn't know how to handle my special situation of not knowing I was pregnant. In my defense, I had put on a considerable amount of weight upon settling into Alameda. My weight had neared 200 pounds in the six months prior to Belle's conception. I started power walking and sweating first, before drastically eliminating bacon cheeseburgers, beer and enchiladas from my diet. I adopted a very low fat, higher protein diet overnight. My period had already diminished to two days or so in length. When it slowed to a trickle, I didn't think much of it. In fact, I thought my drastic dietary changes were the cause, not a baby. Needless to say, those in authority overreacted. Now that Belle is here, I am doing everything in my power to make this a happy and healthy life for her, including making this the last time my weight creeps up that high. My hips were already wide. No wonder I didn't adopt a stereotypical pregnancy shape!


Belle and I braved the rain and made an early morning meeting with an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant). Belle demonstrated a strong suck without any anatomical issues (ie, tongue tie). A pre and post feeding weight check revealed she had taken in two ounces during an observed feeding. The lactation consultant recommended I continue feeding Belle on demand with the addition of breast compressions. She also showed me another way to latch Belle on that would incorporate more of the milk ducts into her mouth.

Belle gained two ounces since last Thursday's weight check. This shows a weight gain of a half an ounce per day. I will bring this information with me to our next meeting with the health visitor and our next pediatrician appointment. I will resist the pressure or the temptation to supplement Belle's feedings with powdered formula. Nothing wrong with formula! I thrived on soy formula during my infancy. If I am able to make milk, I will offer my milk to my baby. I would rather wash my breasts (My milk often flows faster after a hot shower!) than scrub bottles.

I would also rather feed myself than give the same money, if not more, to a formula company. Breastfeeding is a good opportunity to pay closer attention to one's diet. I am drinking and eating plenty of dairy, fruits, grains and vegetables. I am finding mood boosting B vitamins in nutritional yeast and Milo, a cocoa flavored powder, similar to Ovaltine. I wonder if more women would breastfeed their babies if automatically given extra emotional, and even nutritional support, ie, WIC (Women Infants and Children). Nutritional support alone might be a great incentive to breastfeed.

Sunday, April 8, 2012


I had no idea that even the traditionally known formula companies now feature certified organic lines in addition to their standard offerings. A woman I met at the Saturday farmer's market alerted me to this. She was in charge of a petition to get disclosures on what exactly is in our food. When I mentioned once needing to supplement Belle's diet with formula while under the gun, this woman asked me if I had used organic.

I certainly would have looked into this had I needed it. All of the formula I used to supplement Belle's diet came in care packages from friends and samples from the hospital. I didn't see a need to do anything fancy or different at all, especially nothing that required spending extra money. Formula made from certified organic ingredients sound great for those who need it. That being said, why not breast feed?


I met a woman called Chika at the Knights of Columbus Easter cook out today. She delivered her third baby, a delightfully chubby eight month old girl, at the same hospital where I delivered Belle. She says she had a great experience there. I am sure I would have too had my circumstances been different. I nearly had Belle taken away from me because I hadn't sought medical care when I didn't know I was pregnant. Black American babies are still harder to place. I shudder to think where Belle would have gone had the efforts been successful at taking her away.

While I ate a healthy diet and did plenty of basic exercise, including a four mile walk just days before Belle's birth, I admitted to drinking (mostly beer) socially, without blacking out. I chose to be honest about this because it would have shown up in Belle had there been a problem (It wasn't!). Chika thinks the harsh treatment I received was just the medical profession's way of covering their own ass. Whatever the reason, I still have a lingering sense of panic that someone might take Belle from me if she farts.

Belle turned four months old yesterday. A friend pointed out, "She has doubled her weight!" Truth be told, Belle is twice her lowest weight (4lbs, 5oz to 8lbs, 9oz). This is right on track, especially based on her corrected age. The health visitor took a closer look at Belle's chart and discovered slow but steady, consistent growth. Other mothers, including Chika, have had babies who, like Belle, have lost nearly one pound after birth. The infamous "they" have given me such grief over Belle's birth, Belle's slow weight gain despite my best efforts, etc, that I can't often see the forest for the trees.


I am losing all the weight I gained dining and drinking out in Alameda these past few years. I have lost twenty pounds since New Year's. This represents a healthy weight loss of about seven pounds a month. Belle weighed five pounds. A quick internet search revealed placenta weighs about two pounds. If I add this together, plus another seven pounds, I have probably lost thirty-five pounds in four months, or, eight pounds a month (It is recommended to lose one to two pounds a week times four is eight pounds lost per month.).

I currently weigh 155 pounds, which is what I weighed on high school graduation eighteen years ago. I am only five foot five inches tall with a medium build. My current weight sits on the high end for my frame. That said, I have no business being two hundred pounds ever again in my life. I wore it well though. I never had any breathing problems or anything. I just got a little heavy for a season.

I became very conscious of my weight in Autumn of 2010, six months before Belle's conception. The scale read 190 pounds (My highest weight had previously been 175, circa 1996.). I had started power walking again, wearing a hoodie with leggings very early in the mornings or very late in the evenings. I had even added a metaphysical bent to my power walking by holding crystal points in both hands instead of weights. These were like conductors, a la, the wand The Magician holds in your standard deck of tarot cards. I had decided to lose all my excess weight by May of 2011.

I lost interest in power walking somewhere along the way. I continued my familiar routine of dining out with friends, drinking at the pub and then having burgers after last call. I eliminated most of this by March 2011, when I started seeing Belle's father. His bedroom literally overlooked the Saturday farmer's market. I immediately started shopping it again the morning after our first night together. I had the most fun shopping and cooking for myself last Spring and Summer, and even into Autumn.

I didn't know I was pregnant for most of this culinary journey. I must have fallen pregnant within a month into my relationship with both Belle's father and the farmer's market. I found myself eating sardines packed in oil (which I still love!) and lots of pungent and spicy foods (chili peppers, garlic, ginger, hot sauce, mayonaise, mustard, onions, vinegar). I stayed active and always on the go, which is surely another reason why I stayed pregnant and unawares, without the usual baby weight and such.

Belle's birth has since triggered my body to lose the excess weight I had packed on since relocating to Alameda in 2007. Many of the friends I have made along the way are people I met in 2008, when I had already started gaining weight. They see me now and ask me if everything is alright. I am breastfeeding Belle and eating a largely fiber rich diet of cereals, rice, milk, cheese, eggs, yams, greens, etc. I am no longer losing count of my cocktails (like I did through Spring 2011!) and ending my nights with a bacon cheeseburger or chili cheese fries at Nations before bed.

I hit my lowest recorded weight of my adult life twelve years ago when I weighed 125 pounds. While I like myself now, at 155, I also like myself at 130. I am almost there. I would like to embrace that weight loss and maintain it. I am sure I can do this with Belle. Why? I successfully handled my grandmother's [diabetic] diet when I took charge of her care during the last eight months of her life. We both lost weight because we both ate the same foods. I plan to make Belle's diet as healthy as possible. This will surely encourage growth in her and weight maintainance for me.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Current favorite foods

Sauteed greens are absolutely delicious, as are mashed yams, baked bananas and dal(green split peas cooked with onions, ginger, turmeric, etc).

Martin Purefoods sardines in olive oil!!!

Eggs fried in butter...

Danish Creamery Butter makes me want to cartwheel.

My kingdom for a Bounty dark chocolate bar (Mmm, coconut!).

Avocado and banana smoothies are religion.

Life cereal with reduced fat milk and one tablespoon of all natural peanut butter is soul satisfying.

What else?

Thursday, April 5, 2012


Today my former hair stylist assumed the ring sling I held Belle in wasn't safe for the baby or good for my back. She insisted that the baby was cold and I needed both arms around the baby to keep her from falling. The woman wouldn't walk away until I had both arms around Belle. In fact, she positioned my arms around my own baby for me and seemed satisfied with her work.

People assume a cloth sling isn't appropriate because it doesn't have wheels. They also assume the mother wearing the baby in the sling is either foreign born or new to motherhood, both of which were assumed of me by strangers. They assume the baby in the sling is, at worst, physically cold or otherwise impaired or, at best, spoiled.

We misuse the world spoiled when it comes to infants and children. That pot of vegetable soup I finally removed from my refrigerator after however many weeks is spoiled and unfit to eat. Belle, however, is well cared for and well loved. I wear her and feed her on demand, which is a foreign concept to many people.

Sunday, April 1, 2012


I took Belle on a three hour walk earlier, during which I had to feed her. I found a quiet spot to adjust things and kept walking. I walked all through the beach and the park, nursing Belle as needed. It wasn't until we found our way back to our main street that I met opposition. A teenage boy of fifteen or so said "Eww" once he realised I had a nurslling. May his palms grow hairs, very long hairs.

I met a mother walking with her two small daughters immediately after the boy made the comment. I hadn't reacted to the comment in the moment, nor did I mention this comment to the mother and her daughters. The mother smiled when she said "That's how I carried them!" We talked very briefly about baby wearing and baby weight gain. That made me feel very good about myself again.

I pray that teenage boy learns tolerance before he becomes a father. He would only put pressure on his future baby's mother to bottle feed if he remains as immature about nursing as he is as a teenager. Breastfeeding is a beautiful and natural way to feed a baby. We wouldn't have thrived as a species without it.

Saturday, March 31, 2012


I deliberately created Belle, as I stated in a previous post. I asked The Universe for an anchor, a baby, a family and I manifested all of the above on December 7, 2011. I did not set conditions or limits on my gift, although ideally I wanted a baby in the confines of a marriage or other committed relationship. I knew from my years of conscious creating that The Universe doesn't always provide things exactly as requested, if at all. That being said, I did not go into my relationship with Belle's father hoping to have a baby.

Our relationship disintegrated around the time of Belle's conception (I compared the dates against an online pregnancy calculator.). I left Belle's father when he became outwardly aggressive and hostile. This scared the crap out of me. I dumped him and I went to Maui during my entire pregnancy, likely as self-preservation. Belle's father had seemed eager to settle down [with me] at the start of our relationship. I know he would have wanted to move in with me immediately had we known about Belle. This would have been the worst mistake of my life. Belle, however, is no mistake.

I am coming to terms with the reality that Belle's father won't likely be around to witness her many milestones. Personally, I would rather he stay back and not make false promises or otherwise upset me and my child. I got into enough trouble with health and social services for not being present during my pregnancy and for not receiving prenatal care to bring any additional stress onto me or Belle. The Universe does not make mistakes. I attracted the right baby at the right time. Now I can attract the right romantic relationship with someone who will match me vibrationally and will serve as a positive influence in Belle's life.

Ring sling

I am having major success carrying (and nursing!) Belle in her Chic Tots Chic & Cozy ring sling. We took nearly a two hour walk with her in it this afternoon. I love it especially now that I have mastered the fine art of threading the sling in three easy steps (The manufacturer provided something like fourteen pieces of instructions). Now that I am so confident wearing Belle in it (I wasn't at first, thanks to the lengthy instructions provided!), I face the stares, comments and concerns of others.

Some people think Belle is a puppy when I wear her in either the Chic Tots ring sling or the Hot Slings. Once they realise Belle is, indeed, a baby, they ask how many weeks she is, thinking she is a newborn. When I tell them Belle is nearly four months old, they say, "She's petite!" Some ask if she is cold inside the sling, if I made the sling (Umm, no!) or how comfortable I am wearing the sling. When I reveal how cloth slings can safely accommodate an infant of five pounds to a child of at least thirty-five pounds, they say, "That will break your back." I have been wearing Belle since her underweight days at four pounds something. She is now eight and a half pounds and growing, thanks to the comfort and warmth this close contact provides.

I must be the only [black] woman on Alameda's West end who carries her baby in such a fashion. I must introduce [race] because someone once assumed I was an African based on my manner of wearing Belle, that, and my curly/kinky hair. I have witnessed two [white] women and one [white] man carrying their babies in an Ergo (I have a similar Infantino.) on this side of town. I have only ever witnessed one [black] woman carrying her baby in a Moby wrap (I also have one of those, but I have yet to use it publicly) across the island. Most everyone else pushes their young in car seats that attach to stroller frames before graduating to the more traditional strollers where baby sits upright. Belle won't fit upright in her stroller for another several months.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Le petite

Belle officially weighs 8lbs, 7.5oz, up five ounces from last Friday. Aside from being born just shy of thirty-five weeks (A full term pregnancy lasts about forty weeks), Belle is proving herself a slow gainer. She lost almost an entire pound in the weeks after birth and didn't return to her birth weight until her sixth week of life (Many babies are back to birth weight by week two). This concerned her original doctor, who insisted I supplement breastfeeding with formula. He didn't say how to do this, however. When the couple of bottles I gave infrequently didn't plump the baby up, the doctor ordered Belle into the hospital, where a battery of tests were given. Those tests all came back negative for abnormalities or malignancies.

Belle took up to twenty-four ounces of formula per day for a good month after that. She went from 5lbs, 3 oz (January 20, 2012) to 7lbs, 10oz (February 24, 2012). Belle slowly weened herself from formula after this by nursing until she either fell asleep or drifted into quiet, contented alertness. She maintained her weight on breast milk alone for most of March, only picking up eight ounces before last Friday's appointment. Her new doctor suggested I give Belle at least a bottle of formula per day just to ensure she is getting enough calories. Breastfeeding on demand, plus five extra ounces [of formula] a day for three days, helped Belle gain five ounces between last Friday and today, Thursday.

I wasted half a bottle of "ready to feed" formula in this process. I am reluctant to open even an 8 oz canister of powdered formula because that defeats the goal of exclusive breastfeeding. Also, the canister puts pressure on me to clean bottles, measure and mix formula for an entire month's commitment. I would rather express milk for Belle with a breast pump than use additional formula, especially after last night. Belle took her last bottle of formula after breast feeding and then politely pooped runny stools. The poop stained her tunic and my bedding, down to the mattress pad. I fell asleep doing the laundry.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Human touch

I am re-learning the value of human touch through Belle. I lived alone for over twelve years before her birth. I needed those twelve years to myself after the smothering relationship I'd had with my maternal grandmother. My grandmother, a hoarder, had sought refuge in my room after filling her own room with mementos to the ceiling of the apartment we shared in Los Angeles. We shared a bed for many years, which made adolescent development very difficult. My grandmother monitored everything I said and did. I had absolutely no personal freedom, but I had every useless material good advertised on TV.

Those things were packed into boxes and spread throughout the duplex I'd inherited from my paternal grandmother once we relocated. I was so thrilled to be turning twenty-one and finally in my own room again. I spent six happy months in that room before my grandmother said she'd seen or heard something (A spirit, perhaps?) that scared her to be alone in her room. I moved back into her room for moral support just for a season until an argument drove me back into my room.

My grandmother and I stopped the affectionate touching that transpires in most families along the way. My grandmother's health severely declined about a year after I graduated university. Instead of giving her the healing human touch I am sure she needed, I retreated into (1) the fear that she would die soon and (2) the resentment that my own twentysomething life would be forever sidelined by her failing health. My grandmother's own fears about her pending demise eventually manifested as harsh verbal abuse and other criticisms that hurt us both. We didn't know how to be affectionate at the end.

I lived in what one of my astrology books calls "splendid isolation" after my grandmother died. I attracted the right short term players for long term lessons. I never found lasting romantic love or stability. It took me many years to re-establish relationships with my extended network of aunts, uncles and cousins. It eventually took relocating to Alameda, meeting a variety of people and having Belle to finally get that human touch I'd been missing. Belle and I are now growing together, each providing what the other needs to thrive.

On why I almost left.

I almost left Belle back in January. Doctors, nurses and social workers were on my case about Belle not gaining enough weight despite my best breastfeeding efforts. To make matters worse, I had participated in social drinking (without blacking out or engaging in risky sex, I must add) and sushi eating when not conscious of my pregnancy. Certain agencies wondered if I was truly fit to raise a child ("Just because you're old enough to have a child, doesn't mean you should!"). When allowed to leave Belle momentarily to fetch myself some clothes from home, I wondered if I would be allowed back in. In the midst of this uncertainty, I considered walking away to save myself and Belle. Belle wasn't thriving on my breast milk anyway. I strongly detested, and even feared, her father. That relationship had long ended. I had no grandparents, aunts or uncles to surround her with. I wasn't prepared for her, nor did I feel deserving of her, at all.

I didn't walk away from Belle. I weathered the storm, literally and figuratively (It stormed the entire weekend of Belle's hospitalisation.). I faced what seemed like endless questioning from people in authority on why I hadn't sought prenatal care, why I didn't know I was pregnant and why Belle wasn't gaining enough weight on breast milk alone. Add to this my parents' murder/suicide, my maternal grandmother's harsh nurturing in light of her daughter's murder and my failed romantic relationships, and I felt like a complete failure at life. I let the walls close in on me during Belle's hospitalisation for four long nights. Because this was a children's unit, food for me, a breastfeeding mom, was not guaranteed. I had no one at home to bring me any food or to otherwise do anything for me. I settled for whatever scraps the nurses could arrange for me on a tray. I also settled for harsh words and unkind treatment because I didn't have parents, grandparents or a man around to advocate or support me in any way. If there was any karmic debt owed, I sure paid it that weekend.

I am very lucky to have Belle in my life today. She is an active and healthy 16 week old, if not petite. I see myself and her father in her. I also see shades of my parents and grandparents. I wish we were surrounded by these special people. I wish, like my new girlfriends with babies, that I had chosen a good man to serve as both husband to me and father to Belle. I attribute witnessing my parents' murder/suicide as a five year old to my questionable romantic choices as a thirty-five year old. The domestic violence I witnessed from zero to five left its imprint on me, especially my mother's murder. I remember breaking down in tears as a seven year old on the afternoon of the wedding of a family friend. I had come to associate marriage with violent death. I decided this young woman was too beautiful to be murdered by her new husband. I refused to bear witness to what I knew would be her undoing. I decided that day that I wanted no part of marriage. It didn't help matters that both sets of my grandparents had divorced. My maternal grandmother, who raised me, daily preached the horrors of marriage, child rearing and other intimate relationships once my puberty started. I was given Barbie dolls and other material delights even through my teens to curb typical teen development and dating.

Marriage, children, and the creation of a solid and stable home were not encouraged or supported in the households I grew up in. I truly had nothing to look forward to when I found myself turning twenty-three years old, having outlived my parents and grandparents. I had absolutely no idea how I could possibly rebuild my family, or even if I should. You bet I made mistakes in the twelve and a half years before I had Belle! I surrounded myself with people who did not respect, support or understand me at all. None of my romantic relationships were ever geared toward longevity, especially not my relationship with Belle's father. It may have looked promising in the beginning, but it had no staying power whatsoever. This all came to a head the moment of Belle's birth.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Peanut Butter and Jelly Smoothie!

Today I made a peanut butter and jelly smoothie from reduced fat milk, "no sugar added" grape juice and "all natural" creamy peanut butter. I blended two tablespoons of peanut butter, 3/4 cup milk and 1/4 cup grape juice, plus a few shakes of nutritional yeast (optional). The smoothie started out lilac (white milk plus deep purple grape juice) and went dish water after that. It was subtly flavored and highly nutritious (B vitamins, calcium, calories, fat, etc).

Sunday, March 25, 2012


I have finally organised Belle's 0-3 mos clothing (8-12lbs). One drawer holds colorful one piece body suits and socks; one drawer holds white onesies and bodysuits, bibs, hats and elastic headbands; one drawer holds baby gowns, pajamas, play suits and sleep sacks. I haven't yet sorted through the "going out" fits or given them their own drawer. I must also figure out where to put the knitted pieces. I am tempted to re-organise the bottom drawer because I feel I could do a better job. I am very excited for this next round of wardrobe. Can't you tell?

Belle and I skipped church this morning after a long night and lazy morning. I gave her a bath in the early afternoon and dressed her in blue and pink polka dots. We trekked out to our favorite Mexican restaurant about six this evening, with the sun still shining bright, for dinner. Belle slept very well while cradled in her Chic Tots Chic & Cozy sling. She slept through my entire meal (a bowl of pazole) and a short after dinner walk. Belle read me the riot act as soon I poured myself a cup of tea at home, demanding to be breastfed as if she'd never done it before.

I tell Belle all the time how excited I am to one day share tea with her when she is ready. I speak of the virtues of the herbal tea, particularly rose petal tea, that she will drink at whatever age small children start sipping warm beverages. Until then, I am currently enjoying Lipton tea in moderation because it is caffeinated and I am breastfeeding. At fifteen weeks, Belle is too young to get why mommy needs her tea. I am usually caught breastfeeding Belle with one hand while sipping tea with the other. I miss drinking hot tea in a hot bath.

I also miss social drinking. I spent a good chunk of my time in the pubs and restaurants around my home these past five years. It proved a good way to meet people, including Belle's father. I would have never done this in Los Angeles, my birthplace. I never felt safe enough to be out there the way I do here. I made so many connections in these places that some of my friends in the food service industry gave me things for Belle. Belle will hear all of these stories as she grows.


I infrequently dream of auditoriums, stages and my struggle to walk on those stages without falling off. This morning I dreamed I walked into an auditorium very much like the one belonging to my high school alma mater. A myriad of wooden staircases surrounded the stage. I couldn't decide which staircase to ascend. I picked one and started climbing, careful not to teeter off my platform shoes. I looked over my shoulder just in time to see very unflattering photographs of myself on a monitor. Every monitor in the auditorium featured a slide show of unflattering, indecent photographs of me. I quickly descended the staircase to stop this. The person in charge of the slide show, who is a real life friend I won't name, stopped the slide show by biting off one of the nipples of my detachable breasts located near the light and sound boards. Belle and I were co-sleeping at the time of the dream. I am sure we were nursing then. Belle doesn't have teeth yet, so I don't know about the biting. I do miss the stage though. I must find a way back there.

Friday, March 23, 2012

4 mos check up

Belle had her "4 month" check up and shots rather early today, before she'd had her fill of me. I had to feed her on the bus en route to the appointment, on the way back home from the appointment and at some points in between. Her natural inclination to stretch her body underneath my breasts made nursing inside her Hot Slings extra challenging and indiscrete. I had to employ the assistance of a green blanket with a delightful monkey print lest all of Oakland's Temescal get a thrill.

Belle gained about half of what she could or should have gained this month. She gained at the rate a slightly older baby would, if using BreastFedBabies as a guide. Her doctor suggested I offer Belle two to four ounces [of expressed milk or formula] a day in addition to the breast. Belle's diet was being supplemented with formula after every feeding for a good month after being hospitalised for failure to thrive. This gradually tapered off as she nursed herself to a contented sleep after every feeding. When her weight gain slowed, the health visitor suggested I re-introduce formula "just to see what she'll take." Belle took two ounces of formula after her feeding and spit it back up. I never worked it back into her diet.

I am now wearing Belle in a Chic & Comfy sling by Chic Tots. I just nursed her comfortably and successfully in this sling until she dozed off. This is a first in this particular sling for me. I have had a love/hate relationship with this sling because the "ring belt" aspect proved more of a learning curve. The sixteen piece directions are very difficult to follow. I threw those out when I discovered a way to secure the sling on the body in three simple steps. "Hands free" nursing is very handy, especially when feeding "on demand." I can keep her at the breast and stay active myself. Neither of us misses anything when I wear Belle during feedings. Here's hoping her weight catches up significantly between now and Thursday's weight check! This is a baby with a history of stalling in her gaining, only to suddenly pack on nine ounces in two days. I am counting you, Belle.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

3 mos

Belle is slowly outgrowing her "Newborn" clothing. She started growing longer (22 inches as of two weeks ago!) before growing fatter (7lbs, 15.5oz last week!). Her length falls in the middle of the "0-3 mos" size on the Carter brand size chart. Her weight, however, hasn't caught up. "Newborn" clothing still fits her, despite her length. Last night's "0-3 mos" pajamas fit Belle perfectly. Today's "Newborn/0-3 mos" onesie practically swallowed her whole. I had to switch her to a generously cut "Newborn" sized onesie.

I am excited to dress Belle in her new size, with new colors and patterns. There are baby gowns included among those items in her "0-3 mos" wardrobe. I am equally excited to pack away the "Preemie" and "Newborn" sizes, keeping only those milestone items (Baby's 1st Christmas bib, onesie and PJs, for instance). I am keen to take those items to a shop across the island that accepts gently used baby and toddler items for more clothes, equipment or toys. Baby clothes are like currency in that respect.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


I miss my mother now more than ever. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night calling or crying for her out loud. I expect her to appear in the dark doorway of my room. If she were alive, we could compare notes. She could offer me the moral support that I feel I need from her. It saddens me that neither Belle or I will ever know her.


I spent nearly thirty-five weeks pregnant with Belle and blissfully unaware. It happens! It happens more often than you might think. There is an entire television show devoted to this phenomenon. I used to watch and wonder just how a woman could survive an entire pregnancy and not know it. Then it happened to me.

I had the shock of a lifetime when my water broke. Having never observed a pregnant woman up close (I have no sisters. All of my friends with babies gave birth far away from me.), it took me a couple of hours to put it all together and get myself to a hospital. Belle came quickly and relatively pain-free. My entire labor and delivery, from water breaking to birth, lasted less than five hours.

Sadly, my birthing experience was akin to a police interrogation. I know I was racially profiled. Doctors and nurses offered neither sensitivity nor compassion. It was assumed that I had been with a married man and had been ashamed to face the facts. It was assumed that I had been the victim of domestic abuse, and that me and my new baby were not safe. It was assumed that I would surrender my baby for adoption. Certain agencies were notified. There came a moment when I thought I would be separated from my baby.

I gave birth alone, to make matters worse. I had no family or friends flooding the waiting room. I had no one to call and no one to advocate for me. My own parents and grandparents were long deceased. I had no siblings. I had ended my relationship with Belle's father many months before her birth and had erased his phone number. It was just me and my new baby against the world.

Belle lost more weight after we returned home and regained it more slowly. The pediatrician we were assigned to offered no breastfeeding support. Instead of immediately directing me to the resources I needed to facilitate a successful breastfeeding relationship, where the baby thrives solely on mother's milk, the doctor scolded and accused until he ordered Belle into the hospital.

I had more questions to answer once we arrived at hospital. I wasn't feeding my baby, for all they knew. Lactation and nutritional consultants blasted my efforts and ordered my baby be put on formula. I even had someone assume that I, a university educated woman, a degree holder, was not capable of following the simple directions on a can of infant formula. I was heartbroken when I was informed I had lost my chance to exclusively breastfeed my baby.

It took six weeks before tensions simmered down. It took an understanding social worker to finally realise I am not that sort of young, irresponsible [black] woman who has a baby in the streets by a man she doesn't know and goes back out there. You know, the type of woman who leaves her baby with whomever, or, worse yet, leaves her baby home alone, while she goes out partying?

Today I am a proud baby-wearing, breastfeeding mom. I finally receieved the breastfeeding support I needed from Belle's new [woman] doctor. The milk is in! I am very hands-on and very interested in my infant daughter. I fall in love with her each time I look at her. I may have gone to Maui during my pregnancy, but that doesn't mean I am not fit for motherhood. Belle is well cared for and well loved by me. I will never let anyone tell me any different.

Deliberate creation.

I deliberately manifested Belle. I began listening to Blog Talk Radio, an internet based forum where virtually anyone can broadcast their views by renting airspace, in November 2010. I discovered, on Blog Talk Radio, Carl Munson, The Barefoot Broadcaster. He had author Maggy Whitehouse on as a guest in the days immediately following American Thanksgiving (Carl Munson and Maggy Whitehouse are UK based.). I called in just to listen and found myself an active "on air" participant, commenting on my weekly work with the law of attraction.

As the year slowly came to a close, Maggy Whitehouse suggested we ditch the typical New Year's resolutions and try what she called a "Round Robin" letter, addressed to any person, living or deceased. Maggy Whitehouse said to dream big in this letter and to date it one year ahead. She said to write it, put it in a safe place and re-read it one year later to see what in the letter has been accomplished. I wrote my Round Robin letter to my [deceased] mother, dated January 6, 2012, The Feast of the Epiphany (The Catholic feast day in honor of the baby Jesus' meeting with The Three Kings.). I placed this letter on a table near a picture of my mother and forgot about it.

I wrote my mother with news of personal and professional success I had achieved in 2011. In 2011, I had moved into a rich working life as an in demand intuitive tarot reader and regular contributor to The Barefoot Broadcast and other internet radio shows (which I did manifest through early Spring of 2011). I had become a sought after public speaker, writer and workshop leader. I organised events and distributed press releases in promotion of the various causes, people, places and things that touched my heart. Everything had fallen into place in my life, especially after marrying my sweetheart and delivering our baby.

I attended a baby shower for one of the employees at my beloved neighborhood Mexican restaurant about two weeks after I wrote my mother this letter. While I enjoyed myself at this baby shower, I secretly longed for it to be for me. I brought home the various plastic trinkets from this shower and playfully created a honey jar around them. A honey jar is a magical tool said to sweeten something or someone to its maker using a container of honey or some other sweetener, handwritten prayers and other articles pertaining to the desired intention. I crafted my honey jar around home and family, particularly a new baby. I even added in the plastic baby I'd found inside a King cake back in 2010. I set this honey jar on my dressing table and forgot about it.

I spent the rest of January and February 2011 clearing out clutter, recycling old papers and erecting ancestor tables with family photographs visable throughout my home. I took very indulgent prosperity baths with crystals, gem stones, gold glitter and various oils, all of which allegedly work to create abundance in one's life. I committed Psalm 23 to memory. I learned a powerful affirmation, which I recited daily, even hourly: I give intent to receive abundance in all its forms, love, joy, peace, prosperity and health. I started seeing Belle's father by the middle of March. I wasn't trying to get pregnant. He disclosed from day one the vasectomy he said he'd had rather early in life. I was okay with that at first. I wasn't trying to get pregnant. Still, I asked myself if I could lead a life without children if need be.

I confronted G about his vasectomy one month into our relationship. He'd made some comments about a married friend of his who had yet another baby on the way. That's when reality hit: I was in the wrong relationship if I really wanted marriage and children. Our relationship ended just weeks later. I remained tense for months afterward. I could feel the familiar pre-menstrual cramps, but without the normal flow. I thought perhaps I just needed to relax about the things in my life I could not control, thereby giving my flow the chance to return. When I started to feel intermittent pains with little trace of a period (and very little physical changes that would otherwise indicate pregnancy), I feared my family history of gynecological problems had caught up to me. I hesitated making an appointment because I didn't want bad news.

Abundance in all its forms manifested in my life when I delivered my baby on the evening of December 7, 2011: love, joy, peace, prosperity and health. I remembered the Round Robin letter, the honey jar and all the prosperity work I had done all year. I didn't marry the sweetheart I'd written my mother about. That ship had sailed long before I started dating G. In G, I had attracted the right man to myself to facilitate my own re-birth as a mother. I am now interested in everything pertaining to mothers, babies, children and families. Those things I wrote my mother about are becoming true in a different way than what I ever dreamed possible.

I deliberately created my new life and I am not finished creating. In my own words, I detailed how my life had changed only after giving birth and sharing my home with my baby and her father, my husband. While her father and I are done (I moved on from him long ago!), there will be someone in my life who will serve as a father figure for her and a partner for me. Meanwhile, I am immersing myself completely in Belle's care. I am restructuring my life to reflect this. I am getting what I have put my energy and my efforts toward and it feels good.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Storytelling for Beginners

Last night I read my fifteen week old daughter a story using tarot cards as a starting point. I put my creative writing degree, my tarot reading skills and my years of experience in comedic and dramatic improvisation to work with the hopes that I would succeed in entertaining an infant. I used my copy of the Hanson Roberts deck, a collection of rather benign images on shorter card stock, perfect for baby's ever growing hands. I concentrated and shuffled as best I could while Belle impatiently demanded her bedtime snack (I had planned to read Belle her story while we nursed). I pulled The Hanged Man, The Hermit, Page of Pentacles, King of Pentacles and Strength before I panicked.

I had an actual question in mind when I shuffled the cards. I had to eschew that to make the story make sense. I didn't know where to start. I usually throw cards in one top row of Past, Present and Future, with the bottom row as the Advice. The cards don't always fit into that particular mold. Sometimes they want to be read right to left, from the center outward or with the very last card as the answer. With this in mind, I started with the Strength card, casting myself as the fair maiden with a subdued lion as my familiar. I heard myself ramble in many parts of the story. Belle, the chubby cheeked chow hound, stopped nursing and listened intently. I eventually got to the point of the story: Poopy the eighty year old Hermit received the funding he needed from Princess Belle to release the star from the lamp, call The Hanged Man off the tree and introduce him to Princess Belle. They all lived happily ever after. Here's to my next storytelling effort!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Oh, Boppy

"But what is that?" I asked when the n-shaped mystery object floated past me on its way into my house. "It's a Boppy," my friends said. I assumed it was a firm pillow to soothe the new mommy. Concerned and very confused, I decided to Google it. I found images of Boppy pillows in various prints online, along with a variety of washable slip covers to protect the already richly hued pillows. A random click on one of the images revealed a Boppy is an infant feeding pillow. I judged the almost mammoth size of my Boppy against my preemie baby and looked even more puzzled. How in the world was this ever an infant feeding pillow?

I stuck my new [to me, at least] Boppy in a corner and forgot about it until my preemie hit fourteen weeks old. Internet searches had offered very little help, often showing the pillow pictured alone and with a brief description of its use. I needed a visual aid on just how to use this thing. During a surprise phone call with an old friend, I learned just how to use a Boppy: Mama hooks Boppy around her waist with the "legs" of the pillow facing behind her. Duh!

My little preemie is currently very comfortably positioned onto the Boppy while I nurse her "hands free" as I blog this. The Boppy is, therefore, heaven sent. Too bad it doesn't do windows, or, as luck would have it, change diapers. Oh, Belle!

Lip Smackers

I re-discovered Bonne Bell Lip Smackers about a week after I gave birth to my daughter. I had severely chapped lips immediately after delivery and no lip moisturizer in sight. I snagged myself a tube of Bonne Bell Lip Smacker 100% Natural Pink Guava and liberally applied. Were my lips ever supple!

My lips loved every last bit of moisture in that tiny tube. I can't say for sure if that scent is, in fact, guava, having limited experience with said fruit. It smelled wonderful whatever it was. I expected to replace that tube with an exact replica. Three whole months and a different druggist later:

I brought home the Disney Princess Lip Smacker Biggy in Vanilla Sparkle. The tube is chunky and the scent is vanilla. The lavender colored wax disappears on the lips, leaving on a soft sheen. The moisture is weightless and the taste amazing. I think I like this one better than the natural one.

Baby Lotion is a Hair Product!

I bought my baby a bottle of "all natural" baby lotion: dye, fragrance and paraben free. What about the bottles of paraben enriched pink stuff, the tried and true grandmother of baby lotions? I remembered my grandmother's sage advice and added the pink stuff to my hair care routine.

That's right!

The pink stuff is excellent on my kinky/curly Afro hair. I have used it as a leave-in conditioner to detangle and set damp hair. I have used it prior to heat styling my hair straight with a flat iron. I have rubbed my hands together and scrunched random sections to nourish and shape a natural hair style.

I look fabulous!

I called my grandmother crazy when she used the pink stuff to set my fringe on those wacky, bendy rods made popular in the late 1980s. It worked then and it works now. I simply warm some of the lotion in my palms and style away. The fatty alcohol, silicones and mineral oil add moisture my hair so greatly needs, especially now that I am a mom. It's just like any other good hair cream, really.

What products do double duty for you in a pinch?