Family


When the whole Charlie Sheen meltdown was happening and when the Bronx Zoo Cobra had “escaped,” I decided to finally become a twit and join Twitter.  I chose the same screen name there as I have here: sweetnjmom. I’d like to think I’m sweet and I am a mom from NJ.  I’m not that creative.   The reason I mention this is because of my profile there. It says:

I’m a busy mom who is taking care of my toddler son, my hard-working husband, my neurotic dog and my disabled parents and trying to find the time to do it all.

It’s pretty true. I’m trying to find a way to do it all.

My dad is technically disabled. He needs his right hip and both knees replaced. I think once that’s done, he’ll be in pretty good shape for a (soon-to-be) 69-year-old man. But, for now, he uses a walker and a cane and is in excruciating pain from his damaged hip and bum knees.

My mom has Parkinson’s Disease and an Orthostatic Tremor. Two separate neurological conditions. She is also extremely depressed. Because this is a public blog, I won’t go any further. But she doesn’t really care for herself and she doesn’t let my father or me help care for her. It’s so hard when someone you love is hurting.

Add to the mix taking care of my toddler son and keeping up with his therapies through Early Intervention, I’m feeling very overwhelmed by it all.  Little Man is actually progressing quite well and his DI therapist is extremely optimistic about his progress. His speech therapist has only seen him twice, but has also noted his progress. So I’m feeling more positive about everything and I’m seeing a subtle change in his behavior already. He rebounds from tantrums more quickly. They’re less intense. Less frequent. And shorter, too.

So I feel like I’m always in the middle and never getting anywhere.  And there are other family relationships that are complex and that leave me feeling like I can do no right. Finding a balance between being a mom, daughter, sister, wife and friend is not easy. I really hope there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow or a light at the end of the tunnel. Because I’m feeling like I’m on a never-ending road, or going round and round in circles. I need a break.

In the last month, I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on things. My father had surgery to close an abdominal abscess from a hernia surgery back in 2003. This abscess was infected with MRSA (now resolved) and the surgery was complex. My father is currently recuperating at home. It’s pretty intense. The visiting nurse service is coming 3x per week as is a physical therapist. Though he has the go-ahead to get back to most normal activities, he cannot come back to work for another 3 weeks–though he may stop by to supervise (as it is his company). And my mother’s Parkinson’s Disease has also worsened. The day after my father’s surgery, I took her to her specialist in NYC. The visit was good and bad. Good in that I have a better understanding of what’s going on. Bad in that I’m not entirely sure my mother is completely lucid all the time.

So a lot of stress for me as most of this falls on my shoulders. My brother, who lives in the family home, is not able to help me. His business is not to share here, but I can say that I’m alone in this. And my husband has a long, stressful commute to his job in NYC and when he is home, things still fall on me. Add taking care of a chronically cranky toddler (maybe not chronically, but definitely often), I’m feeling overwhelmed.

Therefore I let a lot of my worries about Little Man’s speech go for now. He is now 21 months old and he still doesn’t say that much, but I have noticed an increase over the last week. I’m hoping that over the next 2.5 months I see a major language explosion so I can go to his 2 year well visit in August confident that he is progressing as he should. But if he is not, my focus WILL shift back to my son’s speech and I will get him any and all aid he needs.

I’m still hoping he’ll just suddenly say to me “Mama, yogurt please!” or “Dada, more berries.” We’ll see.

Little Man is my joy. He really is. Even when I complain about the tantrums (the ones for no apparent reason are the worst) and how hard it is to change his diaper sometimes, he makes my life complete. Not so long ago, really, I thought I’d never get married or have a child. I’m glad things turned out as they did. And even though once upon a time I thought I’d have two children–a boy and a girl–I am content with just my boy and hope that one day, he will marry a fantastic woman who will, in some way, become a daughter to me.

Little Man is WALKING!!!!

They day before he turned 15 months, last Saturday, he just up and walked at my in-laws’ apartment.  We were there for my 3-year-old niece’s birthday party and he started walking about an hour before they arrived. I was so excited.  My baby was walking! Of course Dude’s brother was a “Debbie Downer” and was like oh don’t get excited because it’s more work.  I didn’t know him when their oldest child started walking but I want to ask someone if he was excited. But he doesn’t seem the gushy type to me. Oh well, not everyone can be exuberant, right?

Here’s video from the Monday after Little Man started walking, taken at my office.

On Tuesday, Little Man had his 15 month well visit and it went quite… well. lol

Weight: 26 lb 9 oz (75th percentile, down from 90th)

Height: 32.5 inches (90th percentile)

Little Man is meeting all his milestones and is, thankfully, healthy.  He does still have a bit of that umbilical hernia, but our pediatrician told Dude and I that some children have this until age 4 and not to worry. We only asked because his belly button is an odd looking outie and we weren’t sure if it was just an outie or something else.  And I have to say that we were glad to say he was walking. Both of us were a bit concerned that he wasn’t just days before even though we knew that we were late walkers ourselves.

I don’t know why we get stuck on “milestones” but I think parents inevitably do. I like Babycenter’s chart the best. Little Man is ahead on some, on time with others and behind on a few. So that means he’s probably average overall with development and that’s fine with me.  Though his word count is far ahead of what they think a 15-month-old should say. He’s up to almost 40!

Here’s the updated list. I may have forgotten a few, so it could be more (also a favorite word of his).

  1. Mama
  2. Dada
  3. Nana (for both my MIL and my coworker, Ana)
  4. Da Daw (the dog)
  5. Moo (cow)
  6. Baa (sheep)
  7. Dibbit (ribbit for frog)
  8. Up
  9. Down
  10. Dis (This)
  11. Dat (That)
  12. Ah Dun (all done)
  13. Mahr (more)
  14. Duck Duck (ducks)
  15. Donnuh Duck (Donald Duck)
  16. Lala (Elmo)
  17. Hola
  18. Agua
  19. Baba (bottle)
  20. Na Nok  (he bangs on doors and says knock knock)
  21. No
  22. Hello
  23. Nap Nap (why twice, I don’t know, but that’s for nap)
  24. Bir (Bird)
  25. 25. Uh-oh
  26. Kuh (cup)
  27. Snack (sounds more like sna)
  28. Key (Mickey Mouse or Cookie Monster)
  29. Ma-la-lay (Marmalade, one of my brother’s dogs)
  30. Buh (Book)
  31. Puh (Puffs)
  32. Mill (Milk)
  33. Meema (the name for my MIL’s sister)
  34. Papa (for my FIL)
  35. Bubba (Other babies)
  36. Mew (for cats, meowing)
  37. Door
  38. Wubba Wubba (Does that count? It’s for Grover!)

Other stats:

  • Eye Color: Hazel. They turn greenish gray when he wears green and a brownish gray at other times.
  • Hair: He’s getting more, but it’s still quite fine. The color is a dark blonde.
  • Diaper Size: Still a 4, and generally Huggies
  • Clothing: Mostly the 18 month outfits, but some 24 month
  • Shoes: The few he has are in 12-18 month (Robeez) or 5.5 Wide (Stride Rite)
  • Sippy Cups: He prefers the Nuby Flip-n-Sip
  • Bottles: Unfortunately yes, for milk.  And he won’t hold them himself.
  • Utensils: He likes to try to feed himself with sporks and spoons.
  • Favorite Toy: Still his Fisher Price Laugh & Learn Learning Home
  • Best Friend: Our dog, who he tries to play with all the time!

I have to say, this is such a fun age.  The only thing I’m not liking is the temper tantrums. But I guess it comes with the territory, right?

I don’t know if all parents discover children’s music, but thanks to Nick Jr., I’ve been introduced to the (IMO) genius of Laurie Berkner.  Not only does Little Man absolutely adore her music (he “dances” to “I’m Gonna Catch You” and “Five Days Old”) but so do I.  And my favorite song is “My Family” even though I often feel pangs of regret when sisters and brothers are mentioned. But overall the song is wonderful, and the line I bolded resonates.

F-A-M-I-L-Y
F-A-M-I-L-Y
F-A-M-I-L-Y
Family!

When you’re in my heart, you’re in my family,
When I’m in your heart, I’m in your family.
When you’re in my heart, you’re in my family,
When I’m in your heart, I’m in your family!
Fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers,
Cousins, friends, sons and daughters,
Uncles, aunts, and grandparents
I’m so glad you’re my family!

Oh, I’m so glad you’re my family.
I’m so glad you’re my family
I’m so glad you’re my family
I’m so glad you’re my family.

Even if you’re far away
or if I see your every day
when you’re in my heart to stay
You’re my family!

When you’re in my heart, you’re in my family
When I’m in your heart, I’m in your family.
When you’re in my heart, you’re in my family
When I’m in your heart, I’m in your family.
Fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers,
Cousins, friends, sons and daughters,
Uncles, aunts, and grandparents
I’m so glad you’re my family!

Oh, I’m so glad you’re my family.
I’m so glad you’re my family
I’m so glad you’re my family
I’m so glad you’re my family.

F-A-M-I-L-Y
F-A-M-I-L-Y
F-A-M-I-L-Y
Family!
Oh, I’m so glad!

I have several friends who I consider to be my family, because we’re in each others’ hearts. And I am so grateful that by marrying Dude, I have a wonderfully supportive family. It’s like I have sisters, even though I don’t see one of them too often, and I never realized I wanted that.

My sister-in-law, S, lives only 6 miles away so I see her more often than my other SIL, C.  Because of that geographic closeness, I know her better and I think she knows me better too. She is such a lovely woman.  S has helped me out by running to the store for me (when Little Man was a newborn) or fielded panicked phone calls. When Little Man was diagnosed with Torticollis and Brachycephaly, I had a breakdown and was home alone—she came right over.

My sister-in-law, C, is an awesome person, too.  I wish we lived closer and were able to see each other more often. When I initially tried breastfeeding Little Man, C was almost 9 months along with her fourth (my niece who is 6 weeks younger than Little Man) and she went above and beyond the call of duty (by demonstrating) when she tried to help me figure it out.  I was actually afraid of disappointing her when I decided to formula feed.  And C has such an easy manner with her children. They are kids so they have their moments, but overall they’re wonderfully well-behaved and I hope to learn from her example.

I’m less close to my brothers-in-law.  I have more in common (interest-wise) with S’s husband, J.  A love of cartoons and Muppets and other juvenile entertainment. And a shared fondness for the Baby Blues comic strip. But I feel awkward around Dude’s older brother (C’s husband), M.  It’s probably more me. But I feel stupid around him. I’m much more comfortable with C. So lately I’ve found myself trying not to talk to him. That’s wrong… I need to get over that. But I’m not sure how.

And I’ve mentioned that I adore my in-laws. They’re great.  And Dude’s aunt is such a generous woman, who is great with all her grand-nephews and nieces. So I’m lucky. I hit the in-law jackpot. Most people complain about theirs… but not me. Thank goodness!

As for my family, I have mixed emotions. I’ve mentioned my parents, who are wonderful. And my brother, who is complex. But my extended family is harder to discuss. I love most of them. I no longer have emotional ties to my one male cousin. But I never felt close to my female cousins due to the age difference—I’m 6, 8, 11 and 14 years older than they are.  Occasionally I am in touch, through Facebook, with my cousin’s on my dad’s side. But I seldom, if ever, hear from my cousins on my mom’s side. I’m not sure if I want that to change or not. I hate getting hurt and it’s easier to be distant than open myself up again to be rejected. And then I think I should be over these fears by now. I’m 40 years old… shouldn’t I be past this? But I guess not.

So my family is Dude’s and my friends. I’m so grateful that I have mended the one friendship that I almost permanently damaged and I’m doing my best to reconnect with friends that I have neglected due to motherhood and exhaustion. I hope they will accept my mea culpas, especially since they did that to me when their children were younger, but if not I will move on. I need to stop beating myself up for past mistakes. I really do.

Hello Blog!  It’s been a looooong time since I’ve stopped by here. I’m sorry I’ve neglected you so, but there has been a LOT going on in my life. Some things I cannot share publicly and since this is a public blog (and I want to keep it as such) I’ll have to be cryptic and say there has been issues with my family of origin and it’s affected me to an extreme level.  I’ve been having panic attacks and haven’t been sleeping well. Unfortunately it has also affected MY family of Dude, Little Man and Casey, too. But I have to just hope we’ll get through this and that our future will be better than our present.

As my blog title is about my feelings and experiences about motherhood, I do want to mention that Little Man turned ONE on August 14th. I can’t believe he’s a “toddler” now—even if he’s not walking yet—and that the first year went by so quickly.  I’ll post some photos from his first birthday tomorrow, but for now I’ll just share a year of milestones.  Most info is from his well baby visits but some months it was me weighing him. (Weight • Length/Height • Head Circumference)

Birth: 9 lb • 20.5 inches  • 13.75 inches

2 Weeks: 9 lb 8 oz • 20.75 inches • 14.25 inches

1 Month: 11 lb 10 oz

2 Months: 13 lb 8 oz • 23 inches • 15.75 inches

3 Months: 16 lb 1 oz • 23.5 inches • 16 inches

4 Months: 17 lb 12 oz • 25.25 inches • 16.5 inches

6 Months: 20 lb 12 oz • 27.5 inches • 17.25 inches

7 Months: 22 lb (on UPS scale at my job)

8 Months: 22 lb 9 oz

9 Months: 23 lb 6 oz • 29.75 inches • 17.75 inches

10 Months: 24 lb 6 oz

11 Months: 25 lb 4 oz • 30.75 inches

12 Months: 25 lb 8 oz • 31.25 inches • 18.5 inches

For his entire first year, Little Man was in the 90th percentile for weight.  He went from 50th in height (at 3 months) to 90th by 9 months.  And thankfully for me, his weight gain slowed down after 6 months.  But he’s still quite heavy to carry. I have toned arms for the first time ever!

I can’t believe Little Man is now 1!  And I need to be better about keeping up with this blog.

Last week Little Man turned 11 months old.   In just 4 weeks, he’ll turn ONE.  I can hardly believe it.  Time flies by SO quickly.

Here’s my cutie pie with his Tigger on July 14th.

I haven’t been updating this blog again because of many factors but mostly because I’ve been tired and have spent most of my internet time goofing off on Facebook or The Bump. It’s mindless, most of the time, and keeps me somewhat sane. I feel that I can connect with other adults without having to go out.  And after writing that, I must sound anti-social, right? I’m not.  But I’m just so tired that mustering up the energy to GO somewhere is difficult.

The weekend of July 9-12, Dude, Little Man and I went away.  One day in Maryland so I could see some ‘net friends and attend Nora Robert’s book signing at Turn the Page Books in Boonsboro. The other two in Virginia to see Dude’s best friend.  We made these plans months ago and expected to spend the day with his friend but it was his girlfriend’s sister’s birthday and we only saw them for brunch.  I’m a bit sad about that, but at least Dude was able to see him for a little while.  Here’s a photo of Dude and I with Little Man in Reston, VA.

The Friday after we got back from our getaway, Little Man had surgery to repair the Hydrocele he was born with.  Dude and I were a bit worried about the anesthesia, but he did pretty well.  He managed without food for a LONG time and, overall, handled the post op without much fuss.  The worst part was when he woke up. He was STARVING and upset and the crying caused him to choke on his bottle.  But once I got him settled, he finished off an 8 oz bottle.  Don’t keep Little Man away from his food.

The next few weeks will be busy.  Dude and I are going to help my parents pack up the rooms affected by the remodel of their house.  My parents are both disabled: my dad due to obesity and bad knees and hips and my mom due to Parkinson’s.  My brother helps, but his chronic migraines and Fibromyalgia make it difficult for him to manage in this humid heat. Hopefully my best friend will help take care of Little Man, who gets into everything. I can’t work without some assistance. And I need to pack up things in my old bedroom so we can throw it in the dumpster—including old furniture and an old television that nobody will take.

I’ll try to return more frequently to this blog. Though it’s not like I’m a high traffic site.   Next up, I’ll update about Little Man’s torticollis. I need to gather my thoughts first.

Last Tuesday after Little Man’s follow-up visit at the burn unit (did fabulously and is healing nicely and does not need to go back) we headed up to Newport, Rhode Island for our first family vacation to celebrate my 40th birthday.  Dude’s car was jam-packed with suitcases, baby gear, etc. It is NOT easy to travel with a baby in a Volkswagen Jetta!

But the trip was fun.  Rhode Island was the only state on the East Coast that I had not been to, so that’s why we chose it. The weather was GORGEOUS. Sunny and in the 70’s for much of our trip. Very rare for the first week of April. Heck, it’s even snowed on my birthday in the past. But not this year. Yay for me.

Little Man did very well on the trip. He slept in the car for most of the drive and was fine when he was awake.  The main issue we had was sleeping at night—and it’s continued since our return.  The hotels provide a “port-a-crib” (a pack-n-play/playard) and Little Man does NOT sleep well in them.  But we managed to put him down each night but then he’d wake up SCREAMING and would not go back to sleep. Finally, out of exhaustion, I put him in bed between Dude and I.  That happened each night.

Of course when we got home on Saturday night, he would not sleep.

Dude, out of frustration, said to me: “That’s what you get for letting a baby sleep with you!”

I sobbed. I was so hurt and upset and tired.  I didn’t know what to do and letting Little Man sleep with us allowed ME to sleep for a bit. I cannot function without at least SOME sleep.

The last 3 nights have not been much better.  He keeps waking and it’s not easy to get him back down. I’m not sure if it’s the travel, teething or if he’s having nightmares from being burned. But what I do know is that I’m seriously tired and am getting worried about commuting to work now. I’m finding it hard to stay awake in the afternoon.

But, overall, we had a fun vacation and I’m so glad we went away.  Little Man was just so good and friendly at all the restaurants—he charmed everyone he met. And he loved the fish and the sea lions at the Mystic Aquarium—we stayed in Mystic on Friday night, yet another place I hadn’t been.  Plus he adored swimming in the hotel pool in Newport. I can’t wait to start swim lessons with him.

Here’s the one and only family photo from our trip (there are pics of Dude with Little Man and me with him, but just the one of the 3 of us) that was taken at night by the lighthouse on Goat Island, where we stayed. Self-timers are great things!

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