Adopting Baby 2: Why Adoption?

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Photo by Sarah James

O turned two in March.  And, for me, the question of Baby 2 suddenly became an urgent one. I was an only child until my dad and stepmom welcomed my brother—when I was 15. Needless to say, we have a hybrid sister-aunt relationship. While I appreciate many of my only child traits, and love my not-so-little-anymore brother to death, I have always known that I wanted at least two children, relatively close in age.

Which brings us to the great Baby 2 debate. My husband doesn’t feel the same way. He loves his siblings and his large, blended family. But he thinks being an only child would have been A-ok too, and that O will be fine as long as we have close friends with kids. Oh yeah, and he is also a committed environmentalist, and feels that having another biological child would selfishly add to our family’s burden on the earth.

And let’s add to this discussion the difficulties of having O. I won’t take you through the details, but let’s just say it was a long process to even get pregnant, and his birth would qualify as a horror story.

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Photo by Sarah James

For us, the best compromise seems to be adoption. We’ll get to have a second child, O will get a sibling, we won’t have to ride the conception and birth roller coaster anymore, and my husband can feel better about our carbon footprint.

Except, adoption is a whole other roller coaster.

My mom and uncles were all adopted in the early ‘60s in closed adoptions that were typical at that time. All have had serious issues throughout their life related to that closedness—feelings of otherness, longing for biological brothers and sisters, health questions, etc. There is no way we would ever consider this type of adoption.

We are also liberal atheists and want to know that the birth mother was not forced to carry her/our child by religious or organizational biases. We knew we needed to choose an agency that provided equal counseling for all options.

There are only two agencies in the whole country that fit these criteria. One is in Vermont. Luckily for us, the other one is in the Pacific Northwest, with offices in Portland, Oregon and our hometown, Seattle, Washington.

We’re in the very early stages of this process. Over the next few months we’ll be making a budget to be able to afford this, putting together a family book for potential birth families to look at when choosing who will raise their child, completing a homestudy to give the birth family an idea of our home life, and going through counseling to prepare for all the vicissitudes of adoption. This is all just to enter the pool of waiting families.

I plan to continue updates on this story over the next few months and years as we enter the pool, wait to be chosen, navigate adoption planning with the birth family and finally, hopefully, finalize the placement of Baby 2. I hope you will follow our journey and chime in in the comments with your own experiences.

5 Items for Your Geeky Baby Registry

Photo by Sarah James


Hi there new geek parents! As a proud geeky momma to a newly two-year-old little guy, I’d like to share some of my family’s very favorite geek gear.

My single biggest recommendation for any new parents, nerdy or not, is a WubbaNub. These awesome little things are part lovey, part pacifier, and totally cute. Best of all, our son figured out how to grab the attached stuffed animal and get his own paci to his mouth at about 3 months. I cannot even tell you how awesome that was. Two words: more sleep. As a bonus, you can toss these guys in the washer and dryer and they come out looking brand new. In fact, we’re still using ours two years in. Sadly, the awesome dragon one my son used has been discontinued, but luckily, they make other nerdy choices. Pirate octopus? Several kinds of dinosaur? Cute, helpful, and nerdy. at At only $12.95 each, get one for every baby you know.

Another entry in the lovey category is this adorable robot one from Angel Dear. The company makes several nerdy options, but we’re a robot house, and this one is our favorite. In fact, we used this as part of our gender reveal. We got an envelope containing the goods on his goods from our ultrasound tech, gave it to the cashier along with one blue and one pink robot lovey, and asked her to wrap the appropriate one. Then, we went out to dinner and opened our little blue bot! Part stuffed animal, part tiny blankie, and made from incredibly soft, plush fabric, these would make a great gift for any parent, not just us geeks. Most versions cost $13, and if a child really gets attached, I’d recommend buying an extra to have on hand as they are not the most durable toy ever (most blankies aren’t, sadly).

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Photo by Sarah James
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Photo by Sarah James

Speaking of robots, we have also loved our modern-twist Robot Love silicone bib. Unfortunately, the robot model has been discontinued, but they still make some adorable animal choices with the same great functionality. We started using this with solid food at about 6 months, and are still going strong two years later. The bib still looks brand new, wipes clean after eating, and is softer and more adjustable than other silicone ones on the market. I’d recommend buying two—one for the diaper bag and one for home. At $20, I know they’re pricey, but they’re also the only bib you will ever need.

Another item we got a huge kick out of at my house was this Star Trek onesie. We loved to sit him up in his Bumbo and pretend it was a captain’s chair. What photo ops would you create with one of these? I’d love to see a captain and redshirt one! At $15, this is fairly spendy for a simple onesie, but the geek value was high. And bonus: Our little guy grew out of it before he wore it out, so now we’re saving it for #2.

Photo by Sarah James

Finally, what I consider a new frontier of geekdom: Baby Carriers. There are so many to choose from, and many companies are making them in geek-friendly prints. On top of that, you can accessorize them with matching hoods, drool pads, toys, etc. We have owned several, and they really are like a pair of jeans—they don’t fit anyone the same way!

I’d highly recommend trying what your friends have, and possibly even joining up with a local baby-wearing group to try something out before buying. If you’re buying as a gift and you need a solid recommendation, read on.

I’d suggest the Baby K’tan for a newborn. At $50, it’s less expensive, easier to use, and lighter and cooler than many alternatives, plus it comes in some fun colors and patterns. My newborn lived in his, and they’re a lifesaver for needy babies. We used it almost daily, and I’ve loaned it to several friends and it’s still in mint condition. Just be sure to check out the size chart, and order the correct size. For babies and toddlers, I’d suggest the Ergo 360.

The company places a huge emphasis on ergonomics for parents and baby, it’s got a huge variety of carrying options, and is very adjustable for different body types. At $160, it’s definitely an investment, but I have friends still going strong with these with their toddlers.

These were our favorite geek products from birth to age one. Let me know if I missed anything awesome in the comments!

13 Things That Change When You Go From Geek Girl to Geek Mom

Photo: kalexanderson, licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

It’s obvious that everything changes when a newborn baby is welcomed into your world. But for geek-girls-turned-geek-moms, there are some unique changes and challenges in store. (But don’t worry—that’s what GeekMom is here for!)

  • You learn to shriek quietly at The Walking Dead, because you become the walking dead if you wake the baby.
  • Your idea of a movie marathon is when you get to finish a two hour movie.
  • Midnight screening? More like midnight screaming.
  • You keep “marathoning” the same episode of Battlestar Galactica over and over because you forgot you’ve already seen it.
  • You think one season of Firefly is binge watching? Just wait until you get through 45 seasons of Sesame Street.
  • You stop quoting along with Labyrinth JUST IN CASE the Goblin King might really show up.
  • You used to wear your Mass Effect N7 hoodie to show off your Spectre street cred. Now you wear it to hide your unwashed hair because you haven’t showered in three days.
  • You become a master at typing while holding a baby in one arm.
  • You’ve spent years lovingly collecting and organizing the books on your bookshelves. After your toddler gets her hands on them, your books go from “alphabetical” or “genre” to “floor.”
  • Your Benedict Cumberbatch pinning sessions turn into birthday-party-planning pinning sessions. (But with some Benedict pins thrown in, let’s be real.)
  • The Star Wars toys you’ve been holding on to for 20 years are actually played with. And you don’t mind one bit.
  • You start geeking out about first smiles, first laughs, and first steps.
  • You become part of a special fandom that’s unlike any other: You are your child’s biggest fan.


What else changed for you when you went from geek girl to geek mom? Let geek moms-to-be know what’s in store in the comments below!

Babies Learn Food Preferences Before Birth

Do unborn babies taste junkfood? (Image: morguefile)

The flavors of food a woman eats while pregnant are present in amniotic fluid and swallowed by the fetus. Later, if she breastfeeds, her baby will taste the foods she prefers via her milk. This may be how cultural food norms are passed along well before a child ever eats solid food.

This was demonstrated in research published in Pediatrics over a decade ago. Filmmakers working on the documentary Carb-Loaded ask, what about today’s diets? Are babies learning to prefer soda, fries, and burgers?

Can unborn babies taste junkfood? 

Baby Week: My Little Preemies

My Daughter in the NICU
My Daughter in the NICU

I didn’t expect anything other than a healthy full term baby. I thought I’d have huge babies, just as my mother did, and I’d have to argue with the hospital staff about not trying to push pain medication on me as I labored for the twentieth straight hour. Ha!

As it turns out, my membranes ruptured early with both my children.  I just don’t make quality amniotic sacs, and nobody really knows why. What I do know is that hospital bed rest sucks. I had a week or more of it with both my kids, back in the bad old days when Wi-Fi and cell phones were eyed with suspicion and banned completely from hospitals. At our second go-round in the NICU, they had relaxed considerably, but the hospital still didn’t have Wi-Fi access. Or more than five channels on the TV.

Hospital bed rest is a mind-numbing purgatory. My days were spent trying to kill time in a room I couldn’t leave, and my nights were spent trying to sleep in an uncomfortable bed. Or sometimes trying to avoid sleep until daylight out of fear of nightmares. Meals, visitors, and showers were welcome breaks to the routine, but in the end, I was just waiting and incubating. Once my babies were born, it was a lot of excitement for a little bit and then a new kind of waiting routine, this time split between driving home, driving to the hospital, pumping, and waiting for feeding time when I could hold my baby.

Thank goodness most hospitals have eased up on the cell phones and Internet. These days, I’d have Netflix, eBooks, and my social networks to entertain me and keep me connected to friends during the long, long periods of waiting for my baby to get bigger, either on the inside or outside.

Pump Love-Hate

A funny thing about preemies. They don’t develop a suck-swallow reflex until somewhere around 34-36 weeks gestational age. My son was an unusually talented 33 weeker and knew how to do it at birth, but my daughter was barely nursing at 36 weeks gestational age, and I was sent home to cope with trying to make a “nipple sandwich” at 3:00 am on two hours sleep with my teeny tiny baby that still hadn’t reached her due date.  We did manage to establish a nursing relationship. It wasn’t easy, and were lucky.

Pump in Style Breast Pump
Image Courtesy Medela

One of the best investments I made after my daughter’s birth was a Medela Pump In Style. The lactation consultants at the hospital told me not to skimp on the breast pump, and that was really good advice. I opted for the backpack version, since I knew I might need to travel for work, and I didn’t want something that screamed, “Hey everybody! I’m going to go make some milk now!”

I developed a big love-hate relationship with that thing. My pump helped me establish a nursing relationship and continue it once I’d returned to work. It meant I was connected to my baby, even though I wasn’t the one staying home with her. The backpack worked great for me when I had day trips away from my office, even if a few of them meant pumping in the bathroom – ugh.

At the same time, pumping just sucks (ha ha!). You’re tied to a machine, not a baby, and it’s especially harsh when you’re at home when your baby’s in the hospital. Thank goodness I have an office with a door and understanding co-workers. Thank goodness there was a Buffy marathon on TV when I was on maternity leave. Thank goodness I made enough milk to feed triplets. I ended up donating my extra to a milk bank.

As a new parent, you end up buying things you never end up using before the baby is born and needing things you didn’t anticipate after the birth. I’ve never regretted my investment in that breast pump. I can’t say the same about that Baby Einstein video.


Tips for New Moms From the GeekMoms

Image: Kelly Knox

Welcome to Baby Week here on GeekMom! This week we’ll be sharing our best advice, tales from the trenches, must-have baby items, product reviews, and more for you GeekMom-To-Be’s out there.

Before I became a mom myself, I had no idea what it would be like to have a newborn. Luckily, my friends at my baby shower had me covered: They filled out the best tips and advice they had from their own experiences, and put them in a jar for me to peruse when I was in need of some help.

The GeekMoms would like to take this opportunity to share our own advice with you, whether you are going to be a new mom, or might need some handy reminders about the newest member of your family on the way.

Before the Baby is Born

  • Update your wardrobe. Buy comfortable clothes that are nice enough to wear outside the house without having to change. Get rid of the items that show too much butt or cleavage when you bend over, because you will be spending the next 5 years hunched over while chasing a rugrat. Buy shirts with easy boob access for breastfeeding; stretchy bras and v-neck t-shirts worked well for GeekMom Ariane — things with buttons and snap are a pain to close back up one-handed while holding a baby.
  • Arrange care for your pets. While they may be near and dear to your heart now, your pets will soon become just one more annoying task standing between you and sleep. Dogs and cats may be too attached to their owners to make good candidates for temporary homes, but pawn off lizards and other small critters to family members and friends who are willing to care for them for a few weeks or months. Ariane wishes she would have done that for the family’s bearded dragon, and he probably does too — he got fed a lot less once baby arrived.
  • Most baby gear is optional, and some downright unnecessary. Think about the space that you have and fill it accordingly. Don’t stock up too much. For example, Ariane bought tons and tons of disposable breast pads and diaper rash cream before her daughter was born assuming those were necessary items, but turns out her breasts never leaked and her daughter rarely ever had a diaper rash.
  • However, there are some baby items that are the exception to that rule: you can never have too many onesies for babies. If you’re having a boy, stock up on Vaseline and gauze if you are having him circumcised (who the heck knew!).
  • Stock up on healthy things to eat that are easy to grab and eat one handed.
  • Print birth announcement address labels beforehand; when you get the urge to send them, you won’t have to think about it too much.
  • Don’t take jeans for your journey home from the hospital, even if they are maternity jeans.
  • Ignore the scorn from other “righteous moms,” be strong in yourself. Even when you’re pregnant and everyone is telling you what to eat, drink, do, buy, and think. Even how to pee.

Your Newborn Arrives!

  • Let people hold the baby for you. You’ve got plenty of time, and you’ll appreciate the twenty minute nap more than you’ll remember not holding them for twenty minutes!
  • Sleep, eat, shower, everything else, in that order, whenever the baby doesn’t need you.
  • Let go of the guilt if you reach for formula, a pacifier, or a disposable diaper.
  • Going on an outing? Whenever you think you’ve packed enough nappies, wipes, changes of clothes, etc. to last the length of your trip, add around a third more.
  • Sometimes driving a baby around to get them to sleep works. Learn the drive-thru restaurants in your area so you can get the baby to sleep, go through the drive-thru window and eat in relative peace in the car while the baby sleeps.
  • Carry a change of clothes for yourself as well as for the baby. They often don’t confine their messes to themselves.
  • If you have a big baby, get an oversized baby blanket to swaddle the baby. The small ones just won’t do the trick.
  • Trust your doctor, but not blindly. YOU know your baby best.
  • Say no to visitors if you don’t feel up to it. They’ll get over it.
  • These three words can equal an extra hour sleep or more: velcro swaddle blankets.
  • Trust your own instincts, starting in the hospital when nurses and doctors can give you conflicting information, and continuing on when people yell at you on the street that you’re doing it wrong.
  • Don’t be too exacting with your spouse about baby-care; the two of you won’t do things precisely the same but the baby survives both methods and needs to bond with both of you and have two competent, confident, hands-on parents.
  • Nap when the baby naps, or take some time just for yourself. For goodness’ sake, don’t clean or do laundry! It can wait.
  • Although it is vital to sleep when you get the chance, you may find it is equally important to have some “me” time occasionally. It’s okay to wish for a few minutes alone. Staying UP when you could be sleeping once in a while (not routinely) can help some of us feel like we are still in control of something.
  • Reading grown-up books, magazines and newspapers, playing video games, watching TV or movies with your baby helps to keep your sanity, which has a trickle-down effect on baby’s health.
Newborn Survival Kit / Image: Kelly Knox

Going Back to Work

  • If you’re going to be pumping for work, don’t buy a cheap pump.
  • If possible, see if you can get a webcam and make a video call to whoever is caring for your baby. You’ll be constantly thinking of your baby, and you’ll need the reassurance. If you time it just before you take a pump break, you’ll probably make more milk.
  • Look up safe handling instructions for milk and formula, so you know them before you have to use them.
  • Get your car seat checked out and installed before your baby is born, so you’re not fumbling with how to use it.
  • Bring a change of shirt and extra bra to work, just in case.
  • Sleep when you get home if you’re tired. It’s really okay to take naps at 6pm. Just because you’ve returned to the workaday schedule doesn’t mean you don’t still have a baby waking you up.

Music Week: Baby’s First Jazz

My kids love jazz. We can listen to John Coltrane albums on endless repeat thanks to a single animator, Michal Levy, who explores “the visualization of sound.” When my daughter was a few months old, my husband discovered Levy’s animation for Coltrane’s Giant Steps. She was riveted.

We showed the animation to our 1-year-old and he had the same response. Every time he sees a computer screen he points at it with a “That! That!” until we play him a video, though he’s come to prefer a different Michal Levy animation, One.

I’m a visual person, so I thought that it was primarily the animations that grabbed baby’s attention. But when we listen to albums (Giant Steps in particular), the jazz has a soothing quality that captures their attention in a similar way, even still for my daughter who is now six.

If you like jazz, these animations are a great gateway for your kids.

GeekMom Holiday Gift Guide #3: Small Kids

HolidayLogoIIRegardless of what holidays you celebrate, the end-of-year festivities are right around the corner. If you choose to purchase gifts online, you need to order then in advance to allow for shipping time, backorders, and comparison shopping. We at GeekMom are here to help you with ideas for anyone on your gift list, from babies to grownups. We’ll be running a series of half a dozen or so posts, sorted by category or age group, with suggested gifts this holiday season. Many of our writers have contributed to our series of gift guides, so the ideas run the gamut from popular bestsellers to more obscure, interesting gifts with which you may not be familiar. Chances are there will be something that appeals to you. Feel free to add your own recommendations in the comments below.

This week’s guide will appeal to those with very small ones at home, infants and preschoolers. Some of the products may appeal to older kids, too, but next week’s guide is more aimed at them. Also check out the gift guides that have already run, Week #1: Books and Week #2: Games.

Little Pim
Want to teach your baby or preschooler Spanish, French, Mandarin Chinese, or one of several other languages? The Little Pim language videos are fun, and they teach basic language vocabulary. The speaking on the videos are only in the chosen language, so your children are immersed in the sounds of that language for the entire video. Put out by Julia Pimsleur Levine, daughter of Dr. Paul Pimsleur, these videos will engage your children and teach them language basics.

Kidz Gear Headphones For Kids
This product is for any parent who lets their kids use the computer to browse kid-friendly websites. Most of the time, those websites make music, show videos, or have sound effects. This can get old after a while, or distracting if you’re trying to have a conversation in the same room. Regular, adult-sized headphones don’t ever stay on the kids’ heads. Enter Kidz Gear Headphones For Kids. They are kid-sized, and have a volume control where the maximum sound level is lower than normal. These headphones also come in a wireless model.

Scholastic Storybook Treasures
My kids grew up on Weston Woods’ animated versions of classic picture books. (In fact, these word-for-word adaptations have been around so long I remember watching them as “film strips” in kindergarten.) As a child, Weston Woods introduced me to great stories like “Make Way for Ducklings” long before I was able to read. As a parent I loved being able to share my old favorites with my kids, and discovering new ones too. Today Weston Woods films are available as Scholastic Storybook Treasures, and they’re better than ever. Their DVD sets give you the option of Read-Along captioning, and many include behind-the-scenes interviews with favorite authors. I’m looking forward to checking out “The True Story of the Three Little Pigs…And More Animal Adventures!” featuring Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith’s wild take on the traditional tale. And collections like “The Treasury of 100 Storybook Classics” contain enough stories to keep your family occupied for a year. If you’re like me, you’ll enjoy sitting down and watching them along with your kids!

The Bilibo: Funny Name, Awesome Invention
The Bilibo came up as a suggestion for my baby registry in 2009. After watching the video, I can understand why it has won so many awards. This is an awesome imagination toy. The Bilibo can be sat on, sat in, pulled, pushed, spun, loaded with treasures, worn as a turtle shell, and so much more. This cool toy will be one of the things Santa puts under the tree this year.

Natural Maple Bell Rattle
This heirloom-quality toy is made of sustainably harvested American maple and designed to last. It’s treated with a safe, plant-based finish because the makers know babies put everything in their mouths. A metal bell floats in the center of this classic toy. Recommended for ages newborn to 2 years. $9.95

Wonderfully Mismatched Socks
Give up on the silly idea that socks come in pairs. These rambunctiously colorful and cozy socks are perfect for the whole family. They’re made of 80% recycled cotton and come in a full range of sizes. A group of five coordinating socks for babies are called Socktinis $18.95. For older kids they come in sets of three—two to wear and one spare $18.95. And they’re available for adults too $17.95.

E-Racer by Hape Toys
This is one of those Made in China toys you won’t have to worry about.  E-racers are eco-friendly toys constructed of bamboo shoots.  You can actually see where it used to be bamboo, a touch of eco-friendly paints was added and POOF! You have a really nifty car that didn’t hurt the environment to produce. Also available are the E-Plane and the E-Offroader; they are ultra-chic and kids actually like them.

Deglingos Baby Blankie
These adorable animals are great for babies, starting from when they’re first able to grab. They’re super soft, and each one is loaded with different textures and bits to grab on to. What’s even better is that it’s not the usual nursery animal line-up. Deglingos include Molos the Lobster, Pikos the Hedgehog, Ratos the Rat, and BigBos the Wolf.

Food Face plate
Yes! Play with your food on this hilarious Food Face ceramic plate. How about pasta hair and some tomato lips? Or a syrup beard with mini-waffle curls? Asparagus mustache? The possibilities are only limited by your imagination and the food on your plate.

Stay tuned next week for our fourth gift guide!

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