Monday, July 30, 2007
Sunday, July 29, 2007
Microtia (meaning 'Small ear') is a congenital deformity of the outer ear. It can be unilateral (one side only) or bilateral (affecting both sides). It occurs in 1 out of about 8,000-10,000 births. In unilateral microtia, the right ear is most often affected and it occurs in boys more often than girls.
There are four grades of microtia:
Ian has unilateral Grade III and it can be corrected by surgery. Typically, testing is first done to determine if the inner ear is intact and hearing is normal. Since this kind of testing was not done in China, we do not know the specifics of his inner ear anatomy or the extent of his hearing deficit. We do know that he can hear and turns his head to both sides to locate sound, but we’ll have to wait and see on a lot of the details.
Ian also has a condition called Atresia, which often goes hand in hand with Microtia. Atresia is the absence of the external opening to the inner ear. From the few glimpses we have had of his ear, it appears that he might have a small opening, which gives us hope that he has a functioning inner ear, but again, we won’t know until we have him with us back in the U.S of A.
Often, Microtia/Atresia patients can hear from the affected ear, but the sound is muffled… much like how things sound if you plug your ears and talk. I’ll spare the details of the reconstruction, but essentially, it can happen between the ages of about 6 and 8 and entails the use of rib cartilage to construct an ear. It’s absolutely amazing to me how natural the before and after pictures are. In almost every instance, the ear looks completely natural and symmetrical. It will grow with him, sustain trauma, heal itself, etc. There are other synthetic reconstructions, but I’ve yet to see anything as impressive as this.
There are several doctors around the country with rock star status in this field, and although we have several years before we need to face surgery, we’ll need to consider waiting lists for appointments, establishing a game plan, etc…that far out.
In the meantime, we may or may not need to worry about different therapies. For the most part, we will focus on learning more about Ian’s ear anatomy and hearing capacities, and then will concentrate mostly on bonding and acclimating to everything that’s new, different, and scary.
at 8:53 AM
Saturday, July 28, 2007
Saturday, July 21, 2007
at 3:31 PM
Friday, July 13, 2007
at 6:44 PM
Monday, July 9, 2007
Today is my birthday. Yes, happy birthday to me. Shawn is out of town this week, so I am celebrating amongst animals this year. Polli, Gonzo, the fish and I will enjoy some cake and ice cream...OK, so the fish are dieting and will stick to their pellets, but I'll share with the Fids (furry/feathered kids).
at 9:57 AM
Thursday, July 5, 2007
Have other generations of mothers felt this much pressure to choose the right car seat? I've said all along that I won't skimp on a car seat. Maybe on the stroller or Target/Outlet mall play clothes, but never the car seat. For months, and based on many online mom comments, I had my mind set on a Britax. If I've taken anything away from my adoption and parenting research it's that if I didn't buy a Britax, I would be putting my child's life at risk every time we got in the car. Truly, I could hear the cyber gasps as I browsed to the Evenflo or Graco websites...and I had 2 total strangers tisk/tisk me(in 2 different stores)as I looked at non-Britax car seats, pushing their carts as fast as they could away from me- the soon to be child abuser.
This led to many late night computer cookies spent browsing every Googlable site for info about what car seat to buy. Every page came back to Britax. Ugghhh! I said I won't be a trendy "keep up with the Jones's" mom and I'm bound and determined to stick to that. My child will be able to have sugar from time to time... will be allowed to get dirty...and will be able to watch TV (I watched a lot of it growing up and managed to develop an appreciation for the outdoors, reading, and learning, despite the evils of Nickelodeon, Saturday morning cartoons, and PG movies). Note: in a 1980-something lapse of judgement, my mom did let me watch Cheech and Chong and Fast Times @ Ridgemont High when I was pretty young and I understood none of it. I also never remember being in a car seat. Ever. It doesn't mean I wasn't in one at some point, but at some point shortly after infancy, we all just jumped in the car, gave no thought to the seat belts buried deep under the seats of our station wagon, and...dad with beer in hand (it's OK, it was before the DUI was invented)...took off at mach speed toward our destination... I don't even think there was such a thing as a booster back then (I'm 33.9, so that means we're talking 1970's). I digress...
So, I came pretty close to buying a Britax because I never wanted to say I didn't put my child in the best car seat and thus regret it terribly after a car crash. I would also be lying if I didn't say that I also thought admiringly about the nods of approval from the other moms at my choice...wishing they too could have a Britax...However, someone on a message board made a great point: If it didn't meet US safety standards, it wouldn't be on the market. Ah! It was starting to become clear that the reason there was an overwhelming number of good reviews of this car seat is because they have a good marketing plan, cute colors, and thus more VOLUME in sales to generate more VOLUME in reviews. Some extra padding and a pink flowered cover is what came down to their success...not to mention the fact that they figured out that with few exceptions, Mom A wants what Mom B has . Smart fellers over there at Britax. Now, if they could only hide that RECALL section on their webpage...apparently the vast majority of the population hasn't looked at their website, just saw the cow print seat in the Volvo of that PTA gal with the Coach purse and $200 jeans. (Who knew it all went on the Mastercard!)
I started digging a little more into this perplexing world of car seats and found that there are many excellent models out there that can also serve multiple purposes. Since Ian will be close to or over 18 months old (and a chunky 18 months), I needed to find something that would grow with him...not just good for a year and then need to be upgraded to a booster.
After much research, I came across a brand that is making huge strides in child restraint safety, comfort, and flexibility... Recaro.
Recaro is a German sportscar seat manufacturer, which designs and engineers side impact systems and restraints for race & sport cars in Europe. They also have a child seat segment with branches in Asia and North America as well. As I read, I became more and more impressed with the amount of work that they have put into not only the safety design, but also the dynamics of the car seat to prevent slumping, back/neck strain, and increase visibility while maintaining side impact protection.
To top it off, the Recaro seat that fit my personal requirements (the Young Sport model) looks just like a sports car seat and is made out of a much softer and easier to clean microfiber fabric than the Britax models. It was less expensive too. I found it on an online website called tinyride.com for a good price with no sales tax and free shipping.
Once Shawn sees it, I'm hoping he will want to order the black/cobalt version for his truck...and we can all zoom zoom zoom without my guilt guilt guilt!!!
at 12:33 PM
Tuesday, July 3, 2007
I didn't blog about the care package we sent last week because I spaced out and forgot to take pictures, but I tracked it today, and it looks like it is officially in China! It may be our only chance to send one, but I'm fine with that. My goal was to get a disposable camera and a photo album in their hands, and I confirmed that the nannies at his orphanage love to take pictures. I'm confident we'll get a camera full of great pictures back.
I also sent a translated list of questions that might be able to help us with transition once he's with us, and also asking for specifics on finding location, items left with him, friends/favorites/habits in the orphanage. All of these details will be important later on as I create his lifebook and begin telling him about his life in China.
In all, we sent the following items, all labeled with Ian's full Chinese name:
Translated questions for the director along with a translated thank you letter for their care of our son.
A Soft photo album with a picture of him and 5 pictures of Shawn and me - marked with Ian's Chinese name on his picture, and "Mama"/"Baba" on our pictures.
Two small hard plastic toys that will be easy for the nannies to keep clean. One panda with movable arms/legs, and one "pull back" car with "popcorn" balls that pop as the car moves. Polli tried them out and approves.
A lightweight blanket with a bit of my lotion rubbed into it.
An outfit that, after seeing his videos, I know won't fit him when he comes home, but will probably fit him now.
Tootsie pops for the kids. Sugar brings smiles to the faces of children the world over.
Almonds for the nannies
In all, the package weighed 6 pounds and fit in a 12Lx10Wx6H box. I won't comment on what it cost to ship. My husband reads this occasionally! I've already had some explaining to do after posting a picture of Ian's closet. Apparently, Shawn doesn't go in there much.
at 9:35 AM
Sunday, July 1, 2007
I received an undisclosed amount of money from an undisclosed source to help with the task of outfitting our kid free home with the infinite number of items required to avoid the "worst mom on the planet" list.
I won't bore the world with my entire shopping list, but I will highlight one item that I am especially proud of.
Background info: I have been struggling with whether second hand items say "I don't want the best for my child". I knew I would never use a second hand car seat, but finally came to terms with the fact that we have 18 months LESS time to use temporary items such as a stroller, which means that our $ per use will be much higher...I probably put way more thought into it than necessary, but I was faced with one of several decisions:
1. Buy a cheap light to mid sized stroller for "mall crawling" and gamble that it will be crap that has to be replaced at some point before we're "stroller free".
2. Bite the bullet and buy a high end stroller of great quality...and run the risk that it turns out to be too much stroller and a waste of money.
3. Look into a second hand stroller that won't cost a fortune, meaning it if doesn't work out once he's home, I won't have a nervous breakdown.
On a whim, I checked Craigslist on Friday night, and came across a Peg Perego stroller that looked pretty nice, for $50. Better yet, it was located in my neighborhood. I emailed the woman asking if I could come by and see it. It turns out she is right around the corner and the previous next door neighbor to a couple we know. Small Small World.
So, I drove over Saturday morning at 10am and she came to the door in her PJ's (her kids were both stark naked eating waffles off the coffee table. Is that what Saturday mornings will become for me?). Anyway, the stroller was filthy...some windex and a paper towel wouldn't have killed her... but otherwise it was really nice. It's 3 years old, but she hasn't used it since her 14 month old was born and she converted to a double stroller.
We talked about adoption for a while (she relayed a story about a friend trying to adopt twins from Nevada, whose birthparents have come and taken them back twice). I finally paid her the $50, got a quick lesson in how to fold a stroller, lock/unlock the wheels, etc. (who knew a stroller could be so complicated?), and I left with my new "not-so-gently used" stroller. With a little steamcleaning, some Purell, and Febreeze, I think it will do everything I need it to.
After cleaning it, I decided to test the weight limits. Yep, it can handle 30 pounds without a problem. Thanks, Polli for being my spokesmodel!
Now, I WILL invest in a good quality all-terrain 3-wheel number for walks around our neighborhood and the dog park. Something quality that call handle gravel, grass, curbs, etc. will go a long way in our neighborhood, and they have good resale value. As you can see, Craigslist works.
Next battle: Do I have to join the Britax cult to avoid a car seat guilt driven nervous breakdown?
at 9:27 AM