My Hopes for Fiona


Fiona Bear:

Today is your first birthday.

I can’t believe it’s been a year since you were born.  It feels like just yesterday I saw you come into this world!  People talk about time going fast but I never thought it would be this fast, and I can only imagine this is only the beginning.

In any case, in the little free time I’ve had this year, I’ve been thinking a lot about all the things I hope for you, and the kind of person I would like for you to be…

It’s kind of hard to have so many hopes without having any expectations as to who you should be…

Who you are will always be enough for us.  Still, I want to tell you some of the things I hope for you:

I hope Hugh and I can be good enough parents to teach you how to be a good person. Everything in life begins and ends with kindness, and if perhaps we are feisty people (and at times even assy), we also strive to be good. As should you.

I hope you will be of service and always willing to help those who need you. One who hasn’t served cannot lead, and you come from a long line of women who have excelled at both. Continue this tradition. This will help you leave the world a little better than you found it.

I hope you will know that just because you are a woman you don’t need to settle for 73% of anything. You will always have support to lean in, or even push your way if you have to, so don’t ever think you have to settle…

But work hard because success is not free.

I hope you will know that money is a measure of success but not the only measure. Ultimately it should be a mean and not the end. Be savvy but not obsessive when it comes to it, and don’t let your quest for it keep you from doing the things you really love.

I hope you will appreciate the sisterhood. Regardless of what happens in the world, you need to support and be supported by other women. They will give you a north and help you thrive. This year you’ve been loved and nurtured by the women in my life. I hope that circle grows exponentially as you form your own circle.

I hope you will be proud of your heritage and culture. Remember that even though you were born here and have a fancy waspy name, you are part of the discussion on immigration currently going on in our country. Don’t ever forget that.

I hope you will take advantage of every opportunity. We can provide you with the tools for a bright future, but you have to be hungry for it. Always strive to learn, if not because you like it, because you can. Not every girl in the world is afforded the right to an education.

I hope you will love yourself and your body. Our body is the only thing we will have forever so we need to take care of it. A strong, healthy body (regardless of what it looks like) is one to be proud of and by extension, one that deserves a little credit. And if your body fails you, remember that it is only a shell and not the entirety of you. Be kind to yourself when you look in the mirror.

I hope you will know that your body is yours and that you will know how/when to say no (if you have to) and that your words have weight. You must also use those words to help you in your fight for your right to make your own healthcare and reproductive choices. Don’t let ANYONE (not us, not your partner, not your government) tell you what’s best for you.

I hope you will be true to yourself and live an authentic life regardless of what that means. We will love you no matter what.

I hope you will want to see the world and enjoy the friendship of people of different skin colors, nationalities, religions, and educational level. We live in a world where divisiveness is being promoted and I hope this will give you perspective and a sense of justice. Also, while you are at it, I hope you will learn different languages. The more words you have to express yourself with, the more you can offer of yourself with those around you.

I hope you will speak your mind but that your words will be honest. And that you’ll speak when you have something to say, and not just when you are spoken to.

Last but not least, I hope that when you go out into the world and do all of these things, that you’ll want to come back home and see us. Not because you have to, but because you want to.

We have loved you for 365 days and will continue to love you for the rest of our lives…

Happy birthday baby bear!


Mom and Dad


The Meaning of Life

Being a first time mom, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the kind of childhood I had and the kind of childhood I’d like Fiona to have.  To be honest, I don’t remember very much about what life was like when I was a kid, but it isn’t lost on me that the memories I do have are the ones that are part of the traditions that we created as a family. The ones that gave me a role and a part in our little group.

It is those traditions that I go back to when I find myself lost in my current life, and look forward to every time I find myself packing a bag and heading “home.”  It is in them that I find comfort because they connect me to the people I love.  

I want Fiona to always want to come home and have a reason to.  I don’t want her to come just to see her aging parents after she has gone out into the world to live her life, but I want her to come fill her role in the traditions and rituals Hugh and I started creating before she came along and maybe share them and evolve them once she has her own family.

The small ones like breakfast together every morning, and the big ones like elaborate holidays.

Now that Fiona is becoming more active and aware, I want to share our values with her her through tradition as she takes her place in our family. I also look forward to expanding the rituals that encompass our traditions so that she will be a vital part of them and will grow to love them.

Because it will be life’s greatest reward to be old and know that we have a daughter who will always want to come home.   

14,000 Ounces.

Fiona was adopted from birth.

When I found out we were getting her, I decided (very naively) that I wanted her to get breast milk until she was a year old. Every book, every class, every mom I had ever learned from said that “breast is best” and so feeding her breast milk made sense.

I researched milk banks, and that didn’t work.  Not only was I not the mother of a preemie baby, quite frankly, I couldn’t afford their rates and our insurance wouldn’t pay for it. Personally, I thought that was messed up considering how milk banks get their milk, but such is life so I kept looking.

Through our required parenting class at The Gathering Place, I learned about milk sharing.  They referred me to La Leche League for information, but they also told me about milk sharing sites such as Human Milk 4 Human Babies and Milk on Feets.

I made it my business to learn.

A year ago today I received my first donation from Dallas, a woman I met through Human Milk 4 Human Babies. It was 40 ounces. I was stoked. I thought that would last forever!

Fiona was born December 18th and came home with us December 20th. Very quickly it became apparent that 40 ounces weren’t going to take us very far and that getting donor milk was going to be a challenge…

I started scrambling and hustling and made getting her donor milk my number one priority in life after her well being. I joined mommy groups, posted on milk sharing sites, and put myself out there for the world to know what I was trying to do.

It was hard.

But the more I looked for reasons to quit and just give Fiona formula, the more I learned how important it was that I kept trying to get her donor milk. I did the research, I saw the studies, and I know that many people will argue with me about my conviction regarding breast milk, but I learned that breast really is best.

And we got lucky and the milk started coming…

Different women all over Florida (and some who were visiting) heard my pleas and stepped up to donate. Some donations were small, and some were huge.

I drove to places I’d never been. It was like a forced tour of Florida I never wanted. But each time I came home with milk for my baby, and each day I considered myself lucky that I had milk for my daughter.

With Fiona turning 1 in 2 weeks, today I received the last donation I will probably accept.

All in all, in the past year we have received from 42 different women a total of 14,000 ounces of breast milk donations.

Our daughter will make it to a year exclusively on breast milk.

My heart is about to explode from so much gratitude and love for these 42 amazing women who didn’t know us but stepped up to help us asking for nothing in return. And every single one, from Dallas, our first donor, to Waruska, the last one, even if I don’t see them again, will be my friend forever.

It really does take a village. ♡♡♡

It Really Takes a Village…

August is National Breastfeeding Awareness Month.

Before Fiona was born I decided that unless there was a really good reason why Fiona couldn’t, that I would do everything in my power to make sure she was fed exclusively breast milk until she is at least 1 year old.  I had a back up plan (I still have a stash of Holle milk to prove it), but the reality was that having read the research, recommendations, and a lot of the information available to new mothers, I really hoped that I could do this for my daughter.

Maybe this doesn’t seem like an ambitious project to most people; however, Fiona is adopted.

As much as I would have liked to have a nursing relationship with my daughter, and had I been able to, I most certainly would have breastfed her exclusively until she weaned herself. Unfortunately, that wasn’t in the cards for us so I had to think outside of the box.

Years back I saw a picture of Salma Hayek breastfeeding an African child.  I remember looking at that picture and thinking to myself what an amazing woman she was for sharing her baby’s food with one who wasn’t as fortunate.   That image has always stayed with me.

I had heard about the existence of milk banks but upon further research, I found them to be cost prohibitive in the long term. Not to mention that in most cases we didn’t qualify due to the fact that Fiona was neither in the NICU nor had any kind of special need.  Hell, she wasn’t even born when I was making these inquiries!  But like they say, when God closes a door he always opens a window because it was during this time that I first heard of community breast milk sharing.

“It takes a village to raise a child.”- African Proverb

11061228_10155997276185061_6396593316691245215_nEvery passing day that saying becomes more and more true for our family. Thanks to some amazingly generous mothers I’ve connected with through Human Milk 4 Human Babies and Eats on Feets, Fiona has been fed exclusively breast milk all 8 months and 1 week of her life and is well on her way to make it to the goal of 1 year I had originally set for us.


Now, I’m not judging those who don’t place as much importance on breastfeeding as I have.  Still, i think the option of milk sharing should be included in the conversation for moms who do feel breastfeeding is important and who, like me, can’t breastfeed their children, and those who produce far more milk than their children can consume.  This can make a world of difference in the life of a child.

National Puppy Day!

Before Fiona came along, our dog Sophie was our baby.  We adopted her two years ago and just as we saved her life, she changed ours.  It was easy to fall in love with her cute face and her sweet disposition.  I lovingly called her my assistant because wherever I went, there she was.

When Fiona came home, things changed.

I think Sophie made her position clear when she peed on the carpet in front of Fiona’s crib.

She knew that she was no longer the “only child” and she didn’t like it.  10375921_10155415448435061_6469181002101160876_n

But three months later, here we are…a big happy family.

Not only do I now have two assistants, Sophie and FIona are slowly but surely becoming partners in crime, and I am confident that Fiona will grow up to be a better kid because of Sophie.

To those who have hesitations about adopting a shelter dog because they worry about how they might interact with their small children, I urge you to give them a chance.  Sure, exercise common sense, but know that there are some amazing dogs of all ages and breeds in desperate need of a forever home.

You might even save a life.