Category Archives: Guest Post

Guest post: Moses the Mouse

I’m traveling for work (and meeting Quiet Dreams!). Holding my place this week is guest poster* Melissa Nilsen, mom, birthmom and stay-at-home writer.

Melissa blogs about open adoption and motherhood at BirthMomGuide. “I am a lucky birthmom. I live in the same state as my nine-year-old birthdaughter and her wonderful family. Her mother and I enjoy getting lost in conversation, remembering the past, the start of our relationship. And swapping notes about parenthood and marriage.”

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Our baby mouse died in the palm of my hand on Friday. My four year old daughter, Twila had been pining for a pet for weeks and could not understand why I kept telling her we have to wait until the baby is sleeping through the night and Minnesota is warm again before we can start thinking about getting a dog. Though a mouse was not the pet any of us had at the top of our list, sometimes pets choose their owners and not the other way around.

Seven days earlier when Twila came running into the baby’s room—as I was attempting to lay baby Jada down for a nap—whispering loudly and gesticulating wildly to try and extract me from the nursery and drag me outside, I couldn’t have known that the tiny infant mouse she had found laying helplessly on the engine of our lawn-mower, would turn our house upside down for the next week. Insane as it may seem to invest any effort into the life of a mouse, infant or otherwise, as soon as I saw his tiny, helpless body, I knew we had to try and help him.

After a quick bit of on-line research about wild baby mouse care (yes there are pages and pages written on rescuing wild, baby mice) we rushed off to the local pet store for kitten formula. After a bit of delicate coordination, Twila and I figured out how to dropper a few drips of milk into the tiny opening of a mouth under our little mouse’s nose without completely submerging him in a deluge from the too-large formula bottle. We read that baby mice needed to be cleaned with damp Q-tips; we read that they need to be fed often; we read that the odds were long.  Because baby mice need to be fed every two hours, starting that night I got up twice a night (between my own infant’s feedings) to warm up kitten formula and drip a couple of drops into his mouth.

After a few days of this, Moses, as we had dubbed him because he was an underdog, was up on his feet, crawling from Twila’s hand to mine and all around in circles blindly exploring our hands. He began taking an active interest in feeding time, waking up every two hours and pawing his way to the top of the mesh, circling and rooting around for his miniscule bottle of milk. He had grown so active in the seven days we had him that Twila and I were convinced we would soon see him opening his eyes and eating seeds and fruit and other grown-up mouse treats. His playful energy gave us hope. We went out and bought a small mouse cage and some woodchips.

He was beginning to sleep longer than two hours between feedings but it had been almost four hours, I noted as my husband was bathing our daughters last Friday night, and I decided it was time to wake him up. As soon as I peeled back the final layer of blanket I knew something was wrong. He didn’t get up, crawl onto my hand, or sniff around for food. He lay almost completely still, taking a breath every few seconds.

After a few moments of deliberation, I decided Twila had a right to know what was happening. I carried his tiny body into the bathroom and told her I thought Moses was dying. She looked at the water, at her sister playing next to her, and around at her toys, avoiding my eyes. “It’s okay to be sad,” I said softly as Ryan reached for her towel.

The hours of delicately feeding him by bottle and cleaning him with warm-water moistened Q-tips had bonded both Twila and me with the little guy and we both sobbed as we sat on the floor watching him breathe, knowing we didn’t have much more time with him, knowing our hopes of seeing his eyes open for the first time were finished.

As we sat watching Moses in the final moments of his life, I thought, not for the first time, that any bystander would think this effort insane. Maybe it is crazy to try and save a mouse. The odds of survival were less than fifty percent, besides it’s not like I’ve ever been above setting a mouse trap if there is evidence of an intruding rodent in the house. Why then would I invest so much time and emotional energy in this mouse? It’s hard to explain the kind of responsibility that is bred from discovering the most vulnerable of beings: a tiny, unseeing, infant mouse. As soon as he was in my daughter’s possession, he was ours; ours to protect or abandon.

Something in my daughter’s bright face and hopeful grin; something in her tone of affection for the tiny animal, made it impossible to turn away from him. Twila’s hope reminded me what it was like to be a little girl with boundless optimism and courage. She didn’t see a pest; she saw a creature in need. I saw myself on her face, that part of me that found magic in cottonwood snowing down from the trees in spring; the part of me who searched for orphan pets to bring home and nurse back to health; I saw that part of my youthful self who found hope in the underdog winning. I could no more have turned my back on Moses than told my daughter Santa Claus isn’t real.

As Moses took his last breath, Twila and I held each other and cried, looking at his still, tiny body. Before bed we wrapped him in one of his tiny blankets and buried him out in the garden. Twila decorated his shallow grave with rocks. That night she said, “I’m glad we found Moses, even though he died, because at least he knew we loved him.” I told her I agreed. Then she said, “You wanna know the good news mom?” I said I did and she said quite brightly, “Now we can still get a puppy!”

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* The views and opinions of a guest writer are solely those of the guest writer.

Guest post: Unexpected inspiration

I am lounging on a beach attending a meeting in Florida as I queue up some posts. So as to not disturb my Vitamin D collecting efforts distract me during said meeting with thoughts of my blog, I bring you a guest post* by an adoptive dad.

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Hal Kaufman is an adoptive father, frequent speaker on the topics of open adoption and adoption outreach, and the Founder of My Adoption Advisor. Through their training and support services, My Adoption Advisor will help hundreds of prospective adoptive families this year adopt more quickly.

Open adoption has brought many gifts to my life, not the least of which are my two wonderful children, but it is the gift of inspiration that I want to share with you today.

I remember first considering adoption and deciding that adopting internationally was the way to go. I was scared, frankly, of birth families and of the risks associated with domestic infant adoption. There are risks for all members of the triad, but my fear is what forced me to hold domestic adoption at arms length. At least that was the case until I heard for the first time some birth mothers speak on a panel at an adoption information series.

Awe. Respect. Love. I remember the moment like it was yesterday. These three words are the ones that came to my mind after listening to women speak about their unplanned pregnancies, the options they were considering, and the choices they finally made.

Now I am not so naïve as to think that all birth families — including the mothers, fathers, grandparents, and others — have experiences that are similar to the ones shared on that panel or even the ones shared by my children’s birth families. There are many stories out there, both more positive and certainly more negative. Nonetheless, birth families who freely make the choice with all of the information they can gather to permanently place in someone else’s care the child they love most in this world are incredibly inspirational to me.

My children’s birth families have inspired me in many ways – to be a better parent, less selfish, more sensitive to others, and to even change careers. In fact, the creation of my company, My Adoption Advisor, is the direct result of not only my experience with adoption in general, but also quite specifically my relationship with my children’s birth families.

I had spent five years in the consulting industry before accepting multiple roles in information technology and product development in a large medical technology company over the course of more than a decade. I was a big company guy leading performance improvements throughout a multi-billion dollar division. I had a comfortable, stable job that provided a nice salary. Things were good, but something was missing.

What I saw in the career choices made by my son’s birth father seemed like the opposite of my own choices. He lacked the job security and income that I enjoyed, but he had what I did not – a passion for his work. His eyes would light up whenever he talked about his work. It was as if “work” was not even the right word to use. His hobby and his career interests were one in the same. This harmony seemed to create feelings of happiness and satisfaction for him that I lacked.

So that is my unexpected inspiration. He inspired me to trade security for passion and I have never loved my “work” more. I built my family through adoption, but I also developed new relationships with people who would have otherwise not been in my life. I learned how to let my passion, instead of my resume, steer my career choices.

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* The views and opinions of a guest writer are solely those of the guest writer.

Now, where’s that cabana boy with my mojito report on Q4 performance?

Great Blog Cross Pollination: Mommy Mavericks

For the third year in a row, I am participating in the Great Blog Cross Pollination, organized by the fabulous Geohde of Mission Impossible.

This means that the post below was written by another pollinator, and that MY post for today is in this other pollinator’s space. And that I’ve met a very talented and witty blogger along the way to add to my blogroll (though I’m still scratching my head on how I’ve missed her).

You can see a list of other participants at Mission Impossible.

So, without further ado, I give you my pollinating twin, writing about…

Mommy Mavericks.

In the latest issue of More magazine, the following letter was written in response to an article in a previous issue titled Midlife Mommy Debate, which was about women in their 40s and 50’s becoming new moms.

 

“These women are incredibly selfish. I was raised by older parents whom I loved dearly. When I was born, my father was 52 and my mother was 45. I lost my father while I was in my twenties (he was 78) and my mother (then 84) in my thirties. After my mother suffered a stroke, I spent the first few years of my marriage taking care of her – and my toddler. My mother died four days after I gave birth to my second child, and I had a heart attack before the funeral. Do these ‘Mommy Mavericks’ realize how said it is that their children’s children will never know them”’ ~ Martha

I know that as a parent, I have a mountain of responsibilities to my two children, but not once did anyone ever tell me or imply that one of them is to make sure I live long enough for my grandchildren to get to know me.

When I was born, only two of my four grandparents were still living – both grandfathers. My paternal grandfather died when I was an infant. The other grandfather, my mom’s dad, I remember distinctly because he had only one hand and when he let me sit on his lap while driving the tractor, he would hold me with his good arm and steer with the hook he had on the other. He always brought us candy when he stopped by the house. Sadly, he died when I was very young as well.

I’ve written before how my husband and I are “Latecomers” as we had our first when I was 34 and our second after years of infertility treatment at 41. My husband turned 45 a couple months before her birth. Let’s say for the sake of argument that our kids will be in their 30’s before having children, and then add in the factor of when children retain a lot of their memories – say 10 – that will put us in our 80s. If we’re lucky.

While I hope that I convey to my children that they should have their children when they are absolutely ready, I know that I may also find there are times it will be tempting to warn them not to wait as long as we did. In fact, I hear my husband say in different conversations how if he was able to do it again, he would not have waiting to try to have children. That being said, I think it would be irresponsible to guilt my children into starting a family just to make sure my grandchildren know who I am.

Getting to know my grandparents had nothing to do with how much time I got to spend with them. It’s how their memories and their spirits are kept alive long after they’re gone. I pray that my children love and respect us enough to do the same.

Once I got over the flash of anger with Martha calling me and others like me selfish, I pity her. She obviously feels that the first precious years of becoming a mother were diminished her own mother’s illness. She states it’s sad that my grandchildren will never get to “know” me, but I think it’s a tragedy that her children will have the memory of their grandmother tarnished by their mother’s bitterness, which really? Has nothing to do with the fact that she was born to elderly parents.

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Any guesses who my cross-pollinator is? And where my post for today ended up? ONLY if you want the answer, click here.

See the master list.