Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Bed Time

Last October, every parent rushed out to purchase a sweet little book by Adam Mansbach because he had captured the thought process one goes through when putting a child to bed.  For the past year, friends have posted "Go the F--- to Sleep" as their Facebook status, and other parent friends have "like" it.  The bedtime battle is one that we as parents can connect on.  Rarely will you find a parent saying that their child doesn't get up every goddamn second of every goddamn night asking for some goddamn something or other.  Those parents who do quickly lose friends.  Plus, they're lying.

Our sweet, wonderful E learned the trick to delaying bedtime.  She would get out of bed about ten times a night and/or call one of us in for one reason or another.  I have to pee.  I need a book.  I don't want this book.  My blanket fell off.  I want my music on.  I want my music off.  I'm cold.  I'm hot.  I'm thirsty.  You name it, she said it.  Paul and I would look at each other, mouth "Go the F--- to Sleep", pull our slow, sorry asses off the couch and deal with whatever she needed.  We never ever had time to talk, relax, blog (who am I kidding, I don't have time to blog now, but I'm working on that)...

One morning, after a particularly difficult night which included all the lights in the house being turned off and E screaming like she was being murdered, I decided it was time to try something new.  I decided to implement a ticket system.

The basic premise of the ticket system is this: Once you get tucked in and it's "lights out," you have x amount of times that you can call mom or dad into the room, or leave the room for any reason.  In order to keep track, you get tickets.  Once the tickets are gone, you get nothing.

Because I wanted this to be a system that was readily accepted, used and respected by E, I had to make it successful from the start.  So, I started by talking with her about the problem at dinner time.  I brought up the fact that when it's "lights out," I expect that she stay in bed, not get out of bed or call me or dad to her to do stuff for her because that's what "lights out" means to me.  We then went on to talk about the fact that there are times when someone would need to get out of bed after lights out.  Sometimes you need to go to the bathroom even if you went right before bed.  Sometimes you realize that you forgot your stuffed animal.  I suggested that I help her keep track of how many times she needs to call us or get out of bed, and we can do that with tickets.  She got very excited about that.  I asked her if she would like to make some special for bedtime, or if we should buy some.  She jumped on the chance at making her own special tickets.

So, after dinner, I pulled out the crayons and card stock and E set about to decorate her very own bedtime tickets.  My goal was to have her going to bed with just three tickets.  Three was a number that I thought was both developmentally appropriate, and a number I could live with.  However, since she was getting up/calling me in to her room so often, we started with ten.

I wanted it to be successful, so I gave her as many tickets as I thought she would need so that she wouldn't run out.  Ten seemed to be a good number.  I was a little worried that she would run out even with that many and my plan would be foiled, so I held my breath.  E called me in for a variety of things.  One more hug.  One more kiss.  Fix my blanket.  Get me a book.  Each time she called me, I reminded her that I would need a ticket.  When I got the "OK" response, I'd walk in, and see her smiling face, holding her ticket like she had just found it in a Wonka chocolate bar. 

And by the time she fell asleep, I had eight tickets and she had two.  Success!

I kept the ticket level at ten for two more nights.  I didn't want her to learn the consequence of running out of tickets before she had learned the power of tickets, or even how the system worked.  So, on night three, I mentioned at dinner that she hadn't been using those last two tickets, so it was probably OK to go to bed with just 8.  I asked her what she thought.  She asked me what would happen if she ran out of tickets.  I said "Well, that's simple.  I won't come in, and you won't be able to get out of bed.  That's what the tickets are for."  She reluctantly agreed that we could cut it down to eight, and that night she was just a little bit more conservative with her needs.

After three consecutive nights of using less than eight tickets, I brought up cutting back the number to seven.  And then to six, then five, and finally, after a month of teaching the system, we were down to four tickets.  While I still wanted one less, I was proud that we had made it to four.

And with four, came the first night of running out of tickets.

She had been successful with four tickets for two nights.  She had run out of four tickets on both those nights, and night three was no different.  Except for the fact that she wanted me again.

"Do you have a ticket?"
"Then can I come in?"
"No, but..."
"I can't talk to you anymore.  There are no more tickets."

And then there was crying, hysteria, running out of bed, picking up and putting back into bed without talking, more crying, hysteria, and pretty much everything that happened prior to introducing the ticket system.  This is the night that makes every parent wonder why the hell they even tried this system in the first place.  This night is why every parent who tries this system needs to make certain that their child has a month (or more) of success before this night.  This night will come.  This system does not prevent this night from happening.  Even if you stay with ten tickets, this night will come.  Trust me on this one.

So how do you survive this night so that it doesn't happen again for a long, long, long, long time?  Well, when your child is still in bed, crack open a beer (or wine, or hard drink of choice).  Every time you have to carry your child back to bed without speaking or making eye contact, come back to your drink and take a sip.  This part of the lesson is not easy.  It's not easy on your sweet baby, and it's certainly not easy on you.  The drink will help you through the most painful time.

The best part about this horrible night is the very next night.  The day after, I didn't mention what had happened the night before.  I pretended like it never happened.  I asked E how she slept and we went on with our day.  That night, after I tucked her in, I presented her with her four tickets.  She nearly pissed her pants.  She was so excited that she got to have another chance.  Why?  Because she knew she could be successful.  She had been successful so many times before.  AND, she knew that I knew that she could be successful because I gave her the tickets again without ever mentioning the night before.

Now, because I hadn't mentioned the night before and I had just produced the tickets, she had to bring up the night before.  I agreed with her that it was a hard night, and that I felt pretty confident that she would know what to do if she ran out of tickets again tonight.  She agreed.  She said "I won't call you to come into my room anymore."

That night, she used three tickets.

It took a much longer time to get her whittled down to three tickets, and once that happened, I found that I needed to remind her when she had one ticket left.  In the past year, there have been a few times when she's run out of tickets and she's tested the system and my resolve.  While I'm sure that it's more than what I can count on my fingers, it doesn't seem like that much since it's been a year.  365 days of using tickets.  Even the "unsuccessful" days have been a success. On those days, she has learned that I stand behind our agreement.  The key here is that she has more successful days than unsuccessful.  A lot more.  As in 28 out of 30 days.  As in "I can't remember the last time she was screaming like a banshee, running down the halls." 

So, if you plan on doing this with your own child, you need to think about your child when setting up the system.  How many tickets will you need to start with?  How many times on average does your child get out of bed or ask you to come into the room?  How many times is reasonable to you?  How old is your child?  Will your child be able to prioritize wants and needs to have only that number of requests each night? 

Sometimes, you may start out with one number in mind (like, three), and realize that your child needs more in order to be successful most nights.  How will you know this?  Easy - just count how many beers (or stiff drinks) you had during bedtime that week (see how I turned that into a data system?  That's why I'm a "specialist.").

E has been using only one and sometimes two tickets during bedtime for the past three months, maybe longer.  I haven't felt the need to take one away.  Three was my number, and I still think it's reasonable for her age.  Some day, I hope to fade the tickets completely.  For now, we use them.  They give her power.  They teach her about wants and needs.  They keep me sane.

 Most of all, they keep her in bed, and that was my main goal.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Solid Food

I know I meant to post a photo a day in May (it even rhymed), and maybe even talk about my crazy life, but it became crazy, so things got away from me.  I'm sure I have more photos from May, but I think ending on a snack is good.

My part-time temporary job quickly became a full-time permanent job.  I'm really excited about it.  I'll be teaching the Social Communication classes at my school.  The best part about it is that these classes are still in their infancy so I will get to shape and define the curriculum.  Since I'm having trouble defining my own shape, I figure this is the next best thing.

While we were on our second break (for Early Childhood Special Ed, we have a summer session in July, and then crazy awesome breaks throughout the year, like a week off in the middle of February when airline and hotel prices are low), I was a guest speaker at the Baby and Me group at the hospital.  It was a bit chaotic since both the toddler group and the older infant group were together.  I was a bit overwhelmed.  I learned a lot about talking to a large group that can't stay focused on what you're saying because they're focused 75% on their child, and I hope that some of the moms were able to take something away from it.  We touched on some good subjects, and while we were discussing things, I kept thinking "I need to blog about this!"  So, tonight is my debut.  One of the women just posted a question on the facebook page about first finger foods, so now I will delve into my vast stores of knowledge and present my opinion.

Since E was my first, I made a shit-ton of purees, froze them in ice cube trays and did all sorts of up-front work so that we would have enough food stored until she went to college.  When I was pregnant with L, I cleaned out our freezer and found some broccoli and squash cubes - perfect for an iced tea.  (Really!  Try it!  I double-dog dare you.)  We moved from purees, gradually.  I found that tofu was a perfect finger food, which she loved, and the peaches and pears that my mother-in-law canned for us came in quite handy since they have a laxative effect, and E needed such things.  When L came around and I was looking at our food processor with disdain because I had half as much time and energy to put into it, I remembered a book that a friend talked about when E was a baby.  It was called Baby Led Weaning.  I promptly hopped on to my laptap (who am I kidding? I was already on it) and requested it from the library.

Being an Early Childhood Education Specialist, I found the philosophy behind BLW to make perfect sense from a developmental standpoint.  It also made perfect sense from a historical standpoint as well.  Before food processors and Gerber, what did babies eat?  Think about this one for a bit.  Now, think about this: before stoves and ovens and microwaves and all that other stuff (I'm thinking post-cave man, yet pre-Industrial Revolution), what did babies eat?  Holy. Shit.  Yep, babies ate solid food, and most likely, exactly what their parents ate.

"But my baby doesn't have any teeth," you say.  And those babies probably didn't, either.  This leads me to a tenant that I tell all moms when they start asking about adding solids and dropping nursing or bottle sessions: Babies don't need nearly as many calories from solid food as you think.  They are merely eating for sport until they are about a year old, and still need that milk and/or formula for their daily nutritional needs.  Now, they will definitely request to nurse and/or drink from a bottle less as they get closer to one, and you'll know when they're ready to drop a feeding.  And if you don't know, don't worry, your baby will let you know.

OK, so back to this whole baby led weaning stuff and what kids ate and how in the hell can my kid eat that stuff?  Won't he choke?  Well, this is where the developmental stuff that I get all geeked out over comes in.  We'll start with simple motor development.  Babies don't start walking ten minutes after their slide down the birth canal.  They need to develop their core muscles first.  They need to practice rolling over, then sitting up, then pulling up to stand, then balancing, then taking a first step.  And then you blink your eyes and they are shooting past you down the hall with the roll of toilet paper trailing behind them with a wicked grin and maniacal laughter.  It's best to keep your eyes open at all times the minute your baby takes that first step.

In the same manner, a baby needs to develop motor coordination for eating in a series of steps.  Babies have a tongue thrust reflex that automatically pushes big things away from the back of the throat to the front of the mouth.  In addition, babies also have a chewing reflex when things are placed in the front of the mouth, and a swallowing reflex when things are placed in the very back of the mouth on the tongue.  So, when the lactation consultant is helping you get your nipple as far back in her mouth on top of her tongue because they are raw from being chewed, that is why.  Additionally, when you put a spoonful of pureed beets in the back of baby's mouth, you bypass the chewing reflex and get pureed beets all over yourself thanks to that tongue thrust reflex (since your nipple isn't holding down that tongue), and it takes a while to shut down that reflex and "teach" the baby simply to swallow.

Motor and hand-eye coordination are also in play here, too.  At 5-6 months of age, a baby is grasping objects using a sweeping motion and palming it in his fist.  It then moves directly to the area of the mouth.  Over time, the grasping develops into a thumb/forefinger pincer grasp, and the object (hopefully food) goes right into the mouth without much trouble.

So, after reading the BLW book, I informed my husband that the food processor would stay in storage and we would feed L the same food we ate.  Being a Land Surveyor who geeks out over old maps and bearing trees, it took a little while for him to buy into the plan.  His big thing was the choking factor, and that really should be any parent's big fear when they are told "Hey, let's feed our kid a long, skinny piece of soft carrot today!"  Lucky for us all, he has survived.

The thing I love most about BLW is the fact that I absolutely, positively, 100% REFUSE to ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever (E has recently taught me that repeating the same word over and over again lets people know you really mean it) be a short order cook.  Since I wasn't making a special puree for L, and instead just making sure that what was served had a component or two that was baby friendly, I wasn't getting into the habit in the first place.  In addition, having an older child (having more than one changes the playing field in the most interesting and unimaginable ways) meant that 1. I had to be fair and not cater to either child, therefore had to serve them both the same thing; and 2. I did not have nearly as much time or energy to sit at the dinner table and feed my child when I needed to eat.  BLW saved me on both counts.  L had something to do, E wasn't looking over on his plate saying "What's he eating?  I want that instead!" and I got to sit and eat my meal.  I will not say "enjoy," because currently there are too many things being dropped, splattered, thrown and spilled at the dinner table.  One of these days, though.  One. of. these. days.

So, for the mom who posted the question, and for other moms who may see this post and be asking "What do I feed my baby?"  I will let you know what we did.  [I know.  I've been writing for over an hour and haven't gotten to the meat of it, but I promise, it's almost here.  Bear with me.]

First of all, because L was at the full-fisted palming of items and bringing it to the general area of the mouth, I cut all food that was being served to him into long, skinny pieces (about the size and shape of french fries).  This gave him enough space to hold the food and get some to his mouth.  As he got older and his grasp improved, I made the pieces smaller.  He now picks up peas with a pincer grasp and if he's hungry and not bored, he will pop them in his mouth.  If he's bored and not hungry, he will squeeze them into mush and wipe them all over the table and high chair, then drop the empty husk on the floor with a gleeful giggle.

Secondly, these are the foods I served (at first. All foods were softened to the point of near-mush).

sweet potato

As he got older, I added in olives, pasta (penne was an awesome shape in the beginning), squash, really tender meats, bread, strawberries, eggs.  I also introduced applesauce and yogurt, but gave him the spoon. 

And as his pincer grasp developed, I added smaller and smaller foods.  He's been eating everything we eat since he was about 10 months old.  Except nuts.  I only just introduced them when his top molars cut through about a month ago.  But yeah, peas, green beans, chicken, pickles, tomatoes, lettuce (he's still unsure about that one), beans, pizza, pb&j, tacos, bacon, etc.

I can't say enough good things about BLW.  I think L is a more open-minded eater than E was at this age.  In fact, I'm pretty sure that at this age, E decided she didn't like eggs anymore, so we had to feed her eggs for three meals in a row to get her to eat and like them again.  We haven't had that issue with L, and I think it's because he's always had control, so he's more likely to try that new thing than she is.

Of course, it could just be that he's a boy who hurls himself through time and space without regard for anything (like safety) while she's a girl who thinks about everything a little too much before taking that first step.

For more information on Baby Led Weaning, you can check out their website.

Eating Waffles

Monday, April 30, 2012

Photo a Day Challenge

My sister-in-law posted this on her facebook page.  Since I have lots of ideas for posts for my blog, but no time to write, I figured I'd do this instead.  Hopefully scattered within the photos, you'll find some fun musings about life with a one year old, retiring the breast pump, and dealing with the cry room at church.

Saturday, April 14, 2012


E's fall on Monday brought a major parenting fail to our attention: lack of proper medical authorization for our nanny.  I know that I had filled out a protocol for the nanny with our contract, and I was pretty sure I had filled out an authorization, but that was two years ago.  Since Paul's insurance changes each year, we should have been on top of that.

Not only did our nanny not have medical authorization, she did not have my phone number at work.  That was a major parenting fail.  Had she had my number, she could have had the school secretary come get me out of class.

As it was, nothing fatal happened, Paul dealt with the issue, and I had a stress-free first day of work.  We did learn a lot, and have created a medical authorization and protocol file for our nanny.  We made a copy to keep at home, just in case someone else watches the children.

Here is what we have in it:
  • Medical Authorization Form - There are quite a few on the internet, and a simple Google search will bring them all up.  We chose this one.  We wrote down our cell phones, desk phones and main office phones so that we can be contacted wherever we are in the building.  We liked the fact that there is a space to put an action in the event the physician cannot be reached, and wrote down the names of the immediate care facility and emergency room we prefer.  We also wrote down the addresses and phone numbers of those facilities on the back of the form.
  • Insurance Card - We photocopied the front and back of our insurance card so whomever has the kids can get that information to the medical team.  There is also a space on the authorization form for that information, but every time you go to a new medical facility, they want to make a copy of your insurance card.
  • Google Maps - One for the location of our physician; One for the location of the Immediate Care; One for the location of the hospital.  We made sure the phone number for the facility is on the map
  • When to Take Your Child to the ER - In doing our research on medical authorizations, I found this little nugget on the hospital's website.  I printed this out because it's just really good information to have.  
It's very important to review the information on a yearly basis at the very minimum.  If your company is anything like my husband's, medical insurance changes every year because the company finds a better deal with rates.  It should also be reviewed when you change jobs, have another child, or something happens with an emergency contact (like they move or change their number).

If you have someone new watch your child, definitely go over the information with them.  Chances are high that nothing will happen (we've had our nanny for over two years and this is the first time we've needed any protocol), but you don't want to learn the hard way, like we did.  Even if your child goes to center-based care, or a relative watches him or her, you should have one at your house and at your relative's house.

I'm relieved that what happened with E was minor in the grand scheme of things.  I am hopeful that nothing more serious ever happens, and I hope that the things we learned from this experience will help you be better prepared should something like this, or (God forbid) something worse happen to you.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A Week of Firsts

I really don't know where to start.  This week has been filled with firsts!!  To begin with, the kids grew over the two weeks we were in Alaska.  E grew out of her 3T clothing, while we were there.  I watched pants that fit turn into high waters right before my eyes.  L took his first step, and made a HUGE cognitive leap.  He's figuring out the functions of objects.  Instead of picking up shoes and immediately putting them into his mouth, he's trying to put them on.  He also took his first step.  He took a couple of them, but they were just one at a time, and then he'd sit down and clap for himself.  He was very proud.

When we got home on Saturday, both kids were extremely excited to see their dad.  L kept crawling over to Paul to snuggle with him on his lap.  Paul was beside himself with joy because his relationship with L has been more difficult in this first year than it was with E.  I think it was partly because we had more than one kiddo to deal with, so he also took the bigger one; the fact that we have been on one income for much longer than the last one; and possibly the co-op preschool that gave me special time with each one.  I don't know, but I'm glad we're past that and L is totally digging his dad.

So on Sunday (which was Easter, for which I didn't do much planning or shopping, and ended up digging out toys I had purchased last year for E in anticipation of the new baby for her basket, and putting a couple bananas and plastic eggs filled with Veggie Booty in L's), L took more than one step in succession.  It was AWESOME!!  E started walking two weeks before her first birthday.  This year, Easter Sunday is two weeks before L's first birthday.

Monday marked my first real day of work.  I say "real" because my official start day was the Thursday before Spring Break, which turned out to be a snow day with a late start, so I worked about two hours and there were no kids or classrooms to observe.  It's not an entirely new job.  I'm teaching Early Childhood Special Education classes at the same district I worked in (and same school) before I got pregnant with Lizzie. So I started work on Monday.  It's been kind of hard this week since I had to hit the ground running with new classrooms and kids, no plans or idea of who my assistants or support staff are.  In addition, in the past three years, there have been some changes in the systems we use at the district, and there are a lot more new to me staff than old staff, so it's been a little strange, and difficult to maintain balance.

Someone else is at my desk.

Someone else has my SLP (Speech and Language Pathologist).  My SLP was awesome and fun.  He was (and is) the only dude in the building.  He also likes to joke around and play pranks on people.  It's just not the same.

But I'm enjoying it.  I like going to work.  I like playing with the kids, and making messy art projects that the assistants hate cleaning up.  I like the paycheck I'm going to get at the end of this month.  And I like the ECSE schedule.  I can work 189 days.  (I love unions!)

So, I go to work on Monday, totally jazzed about my new job and meeting all the kids and figuring out what the hell we're going to do with our day.  I put my purse in my desk in the office area and head to class.  I have two classes on Mondays and Wednesdays.  The first is 8:30-10:30.  The second is 10:45-12:45.  I go home at 1:00.  Tuesdays & Thursdays, I have planning time.  Next week, I'll pick up a third class from 10:45-12:45.  I get most Fridays off.

After my second class, I talked with my boss for a little while, then went back to my desk and started packing up.  I opened my purse to get my cell phone.  I noticed there was a voicemail and some missed calls on my cell phone.  The voicemail was from my husband saying, "I just want to start out by saying everything in OK..."  My initial thought was Oh no, he's been in a car accident.  Oh well, he's calling me, so we just have to deal with the car, no biggie.

The message continued "I have E with me now..."

The blood left my body as I listened to the rest of the message.  I can't remember it verbatim, but the gist was that E had been leaning back in her chair at lunch (exactly what her dad does when he sits in a chair), and fell.  She pulled the table (it's a kid-sized table and kid-sized chair) on top of her.  On the table was her bowl, which just happened to be ceramic.  It broke, and a piece found its way to her arm.  He met the nanny at the urgent care, and they're waiting to see a doctor.

[cue Mama guilt for going back to work]

I called Paul.  He had everything covered.

I wanted to meet them at urgent care.  I wanted to turn back time and call in sick that day.  I wanted to turn back time and not interview, or even apply for the job.  I felt awful.

If I hadn't gone back to work, E wouldn't have fallen and she would be fine.  If  I hadn't gone back to work, I could have stopped this from happening.  If I hadn't gone back to work...

I picked L up from the nanny's, went home and waited for Paul's instructions.  His phone died.  I paced.  I ate whatever crappy food I could find in the house.  I paced some more.  I beat myself up some more.  I considered just packing L into the car and driving over to the urgent care.

Paul called from the urgent care's phone.  Our choices were as follows: 1. Do butterfly bandages at urgent care; or 2. Go to the ER and get stitches under anesthesia.

I freaked out about the anesthesia.

The nurse sent me a text with a photo of the wound.  It needed to be stitched up.  I couldn't deal with the whole anesthesia part.  What if she didn't wake up? I will never do something stupid like go to work again.

Paul finally decided to take her to the ER.  As it turns out, there is a thing called a papoose board, where children can be restrained for things like this.  It looks like a torture device, and when they were giving her the local, it sure seemed that way.  Paul says it's the one time in the whole ordeal he came very close to crying.

photo credits

But she didn't need to be put under, and that made me happy.

She got seven stitches.  She won't let me take a picture of them.  She doesn't like looking at them.  She screams and cries and tells me she would rather go to bed than to have the bandage replaced and let us clean it every night.  Poor girl.

I've gotten over my mommy guilt.  I can't protect her from everything.  I fell and needed to get stitches when I was little.  My mom was working at the time.  I came out of it just fine.  I know she will, too.  I went back to work on Tuesday, and again today.  I intend to return tomorrow.

I take my cell phone into the classroom with me now.

Thursday, March 29, 2012


My sister had twin girls three weeks ago.  I packed up my two kids and flew up here to Alaska to visit and help out as much as I could.  I feel a little useless since I have to deal with my own brood and can't wait on them hand and foot, but at the same time, I think it's good that they are getting only part-time help so they can transition to zero help once we're gone.

One thing that I have realized while being here is that when you have a baby, you go through the stages of grief.  What?  you say...  But you just had a precious baby!  How could you possibly be grieving?  Well, while you gain such a wonderful joy (or in my sister's case, TWO wonderful joys), you lose your former child-free life.  You can't get up and go to bed whenever you darn well please.  You can't go to the bathroom when you need to.  You can't randomly drive to the coast for a romantic weekend with just the clothes on your back.  You have to be home for nap time.  You can't leave sharp knives on the counter or fragile vases on the coffee table.  You need to keep sharpies locked up.  You really can't have anything nice in your house.

My sister and brother-in-law are in their 40's.  They have spent many years collecting very nice things in their home.  They have gotten used to doing what they want when they want to.  They have a dog who they love more than anything in the world.  They are grieving.

They have the first stage down -- Denial and Isolation.  Many times a day I hear "I just need more sleep," and "How can she be hungry already?"  They bought an iPad and have a program that tracks everything - feeding, sleeping, diaper changes, amount of milk pumped, etc.  J made a comment yesterday that they used to go four hours between feedings.  I replied that when they're brand new, they sleep a lot, so they nurse less.  When they start becoming more aware and staying awake for longer periods, they get hungry faster.  [Deer in headlights look from J].  "But don't worry," I reassured him, "As they get bigger, they will drink more at each feeding and spread out the time.  This is just the time they start needing more.  That's all."  [Deer in headlights look does not get any better.]  I think he changed the subject.

This morning, J came down to the kitchen while I was making pancakes.  He barely acknowledged me, and gave me short answers to my questions.  Having babies makes you feel quite isolated.  You don't think that anybody could possibly understand what you are going through.  Even those who have children, because they don't have YOUR children.  And when you have two at once, well, then you can easily talk yourself out of any help or advice from the parents of singlets.

Of course, with the stages of grief, you don't sit in one stage, then advance to the next and the next until you finally hit acceptance.  You wallow in one, jump up to another, fall back to the first, etc.  My sister hit the anger stage the other day.  J had left the house (I thought he had gone upstairs to the bedroom) to plow the drive and I was downstairs messing around on Facebook.  D came downstairs after a little while with a screaming baby.  I asked her if she needed anything.  She said "No.  I just need to grow two more arms."  She went upstairs and then I looked out the window and saw J.  Oh shit.  I failed.  I went upstairs to help her out.  She was in the middle of changing a diaper.  I talked her into using gDiapers because they are a cloth and disposable hybrid, so there is no plastic when you use the disposables, and since she has twins, the amount of diapers she's gonna go through is too high to even contemplate.  The thing is, when you change a newborn in g's, you need to set up the new diaper before you take the old one off.  My sister did not do this, and since I was remiss in my duties as the helper, she did not have any prestuffed with the disposable liner.  So one of the babies pissed and shat all over the changing table.  My sister lost it.

"I'm fucking done with these gDiapers!" She yelled, "I'm going out and buying Pampers tomorrow!"

And who can blame her?  She has two babies crying, she hasn't had a full night's sleep in months (because the last trimester of a twin pregnancy sucks sweaty balls), and she is still teaching an online class for the college.  What the what?!?!  Of course she's going to be angry about systems that are not working when she is still working this other job and has just been given the world's most difficult and stressful job.

While I adore gDiapers and will never use anything but, I knew this was not a time to lecture my sister about landfills and the environment.  I simply nodded and sighed with her, changed the girls' diapers, and helped get them back on the boobs.

Another thing my sister hates: the twin "My Breast Friend" pillow.  Why?  because when she has both babies on, she's completely restricted inside the pillow.  It wraps around her, giving her support everywhere, but if she forgets to move her water before she latches on, she's screwed.  Oh, and where's the remote?

Currently, I'm listening to my sister type on her computer upstairs as one of the girls cries.  J is trying to keep her calm while my sister finishes what she needs to do.  She's already said she just needs to quit her job because she can't get anything done.  I'm sure she'll hate her job this week (if she doesn't already) because of it.

I think it takes a couple years to hit acceptance.  I remember when E was 6 months old, I planned on going out for drinks with a friend of mine.  I wanted to get her to sleep before I left.  Babies seem to know when you have something important planned, so they don't cooperate.  I remember sitting on the floor crying, since I couldn't go out with my friend because the baby wouldn't sleep.  Damn kid!

Heck, even a year ago, when E was 2 1/2, I got bent out of shape because she came down with a fever the night of her school's Parent's Night Out auction and fundraiser.  I remember telling my husband "If we didn't have kids, we'd be able to go!"  I was so mad, because I couldn't remember the last time we were able to go out.  He responded "Honey, if we didn't have kids, there would be no Parent's Night Out."  Oh yeah.

I hope in the next week and a half I can help my sister and brother-in-law through some of this.  I know they feel isolated and want to do as much on their own as possible.  That's what new parents do.  After all, isn't asking for help a sign of weakness?  And, if they ask for help now, how will they be able to handle things once I leave?  I want to call bullshit on that, but it's hard to bust in and say "Hey, fuck you!  I'm helping you out because I love you, and this is what you need."  I'm not Type A enough.  Maybe I need to be.  I'll try that tomorrow and see where it gets me.  Until then, I'll let them grieve for their former selves tonight, and hope they feel a little better in the morning.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Dr. Google

The internet is a wonderful thing.  You no longer need to keep a set of Encyclopedia Britannica in your house and continuously update it as the years pass.  You simply log onto the computer, pull up Google, type in your search and voila!  It's great to find out what the internal temperature of a chicken should be before you serve it, how late the Fred Meyer down the street is open, or what's playing at the movies this week.  Today, however, Ive been grappling with the idea of using Google to diagnose my children's illnesses.

I am extremely guilty of this, and I am not proud.  However, with things being the way they are in the medical field, it's difficult not to.  For example, when we were unsure whether or not my daughter had chicken pox (there was an outbreak at school and one Sunday we noticed some spots on her torso), we took her to one of those strip mall urgent care centers.  The "doctor" (I put it in parenthesis because she was a Physicians Assistant) on duty flipped through a book to find a picture of chicken pox, and used that to confirm that she did not have chicken pox.  We paid a $25 co-pay.  The bill to insurance?  $300.  I went home thinking I could have found better photos on Google Images for free.

So yesterday, after allowing my son to learn what happens when you crawl off a surface that is elevated three inches above the floor, I found myself consulting Dr. Google to find out if he had broken his nose.  There was some bleeding, but it stopped rather quickly, and he didn't seem any more upset when I messed with his nose than he is normally.  But I was worried, and rather than calling the advice nurse or going in to the doctor (because he's my second child, and who worries about such things with the second child?), I spent over an hour perusing baby and parent Q&A boards trying to glean a good answer to my question.  I didn't get a definitive answer to my question.  I wouldn't get that unless I actually took him to the doctor for an exam.

I did learn a few things about myself and Dr. Google, though.  Many of the answers on the boards strongly urged the parents to take their children in for an exam if they suspect the nose to be broken.  I realized that I didn't suspect my child's nose to be broken.  I realized that I simply wanted reassurance that I'm not a shitty mom who lets her kid hurl himself through space and time, getting a few bumps, bruises and nosebleeds along the way.  When I truly am concerned for my child's health, I take him in.  I took him to urgent care a few months ago because he had a fever that had lasted nearly four days.  I took my daughter in when I thought she might have chicken pox.  I took my daughter in when she ate applesauce and it came out the other end looking exactly like applesauce.

I'm not a shitty mom.  I just feel that way sometimes.  Thank you, Dr. Google, for reassuring me that I'm OK.

Monday, March 19, 2012

From the Mouths of Babes

Last night at bedtime, E and I were talking about babies, since my sister just had twins and babies are on her mind a lot right now.

"When I'm a grown-up, I can have babies," she said.
"Yes!  When you're a grown-up, you can have babies of your own.  Would you like that?"
"Yes, but only when I'm a grown-up," she replied.  My heart jumped with joy at her sense of responsibility at such a young age.
"And when you have babies of your own, you will love them so much, and they will be the best thing in your life!" I suggested.
"Mommy...Where's your brain?"

Perfect delivery, and just another reason why I love her.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Hello Blogosphere!

My mom keeps telling me I should blog about my life, my kids, and the awesome products I use for such things (life and kids).  I have finally decided to follow her advice, which I rarely do since she's my mother.  But, I like to write, and I like my life and kids, so why not put those two together?

So, let's start with a little back story to catch you up on my life up 'till now...  Until 2003, I never spent more than 3 years in any one place (besides the town where I grew up and my college).  I thru-hiked two, yes TWO, long-distance trails: the Appalacian and the Pacific Crest.  I also held down a variety of jobs: waitress, tax reclaim administrator, database administrator, early childhood teacher.  Let's just say I never let the grass grow under my feet.

Then I met my husband (while hiking the PCT), moved to Portland, Oregon, got married, got a house (crappy condo), got my Master's, got a job, got a car, got knocked up, got a second car, got knocked up again.  Other things happened in between, but that's the gist of it.  We can talk about those other things as we get to know each other.  Anyway, it's been nine, yes NINE years since I hiked the Pacific Crest Trail and started a new route toward "settling down."  I wouldn't change it for the world.

Children screw up your life in so many wonderful ways.  When I was pregnant with my first, I just assumed I would continue with my life, only that it would be my life with baby.  Now that I have two, there is no me anymore.  At least not the me that was.  I like the new me, and I love my little family.  I love all the people I have met and become friends with because of the little Belchigators.  I hope you all feel the same as you meet them through my stories.