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.