mommyhood


One of my very first blog posts, as a parent, was about my “Newborn Vampire” and how he had his days and nights mixed up. That was on my old blog and I’ve never figured out how to move the posts here.  This one started a few months later, and focused a lot on Little Man’s helmet journey and my mixed up emotions. Heck, it still focuses on my mixed up emotions!

Anyway, I’m talking about sleep because it’s a precious thing. I’ve driven around for an hour to keep Little Man napping–if he fell asleep in the car. Though I never drove anywhere to get him to fall asleep like some of my mom friends have. Thankfully I never felt that desperate.  At the beginning, Little Man was a terrible sleeper–particularly during the day. The only place he’d sleep was ON ME or in his infant carrier. The latter contributed to his brachycephaly.

Somewhere around 3 months of age, he slept through the night (STTN).  It was short-lived. And from 3-6 months, his sleep was erratic. Some nights he’d sleep from 10 pm (his initial bedtime) to around 5 am, then take a bottle and go back to sleep for 2 hours. Other nights he’d sleep from 10-2 and then from 3-6 and nap several times during the day. There was a dark period–from 6 to 9 months, where he was just a rotten sleeper. I blame that on teeth (got the first 2 just before/at 6 months and the second 2 around 9 months).  Thankfully, at 9 months, he began sleeping on his tummy. Once he did that, STTN was common and no longer infrequent. His bedtime was (and still is) at 8-8:30 and he usually sleeps until 6:30 am. So his average is 10 hours of sleep per night–I wish I could have 8!

Naps, however, took longer to get on track.  As I said, initially he’d only sleep in his infant carrier or ON me–until about 5/6 months when he got too heavy, I was fine with him sleeping in my Baby K’tan Carrier. He’d also sleep pretty well in his travel swing (once he had the DOC Band, I didn’t worry about that). But he never slept in a Pack-n-Play and that caused some issues, as it was his “nap place” at my office until he was 9 months old.

At that time, my in-laws moved and I got the crib they had for the grandkids. Little Man would sleep there–but only after I had rocked him to sleep and transferred him to the crib. And the naps were short. Both weren’t more than 45 minutes most days. And he’d almost always fall asleep in the car, on the way home, for about 20 minutes.

Finally at 11 months of age, I decided that enough was enough! I needed him to nap! So I let him cry it out (CIO) for naps. No Ferber checks. Just crying. The first day he wailed for about 30 minutes but eventually slept (sniffling in his sleep) for close to 2 hours). The second day was worse. But by day 3, he was napping within 10 minutes of being put in his crib. And until last February, when he turned 18 months, he took his first nap at home (at around 9 am, and I’d be at work by 11) and his second nap at the office, at around 1:30 pm.  Both naps were about 1-1.5 hours long.

Since he was 18 months old, he’s been on a “schedule” of sorts. One nap per day. The nap usually begins at 12:30 after his lunch.  He’ll sleep anywhere from 1.5 to 3 hours, with 2 being the average until recently. Lately it’s been 2.5 to 3 hours. But if he sleeps too long he’s crabby.  But I think he is happier at night after his 3 hour nap. I know I can get much more done while he’s sleeping. And, when I’m home, I’ll nap too.  My husband doesn’t understand–he’s not a good napper. But I love naps and will nap whenever I can, especially while Little Man still does.

I’ll miss the days of napping when he eventually drops them.  I hope it’s not for a while. While it does limit my afternoon activities, I like naps.

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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.

Last Thursday I was supposed to drop Little Man off at his school in the morning and then come back home to have my IFSP meeting with Early Intervention.  But when he woke up, he felt quite hot to the touch and I took his fever with an ear thermometer and it was 100.7 and he seemed somewhat clingy, so I kept him home.   I still had the meeting (in the kitchen, while Little Man watched classic Disney cartoons on the DVD player in the family room) and the plan is set for him to have speech therapy once a week and work with a developmental interventionist (generally a special ed teacher) twice a week–that’s 3 hours total per week.  We set simple goals (6 month) of speaking in 2 word purposeful sentences, saying his own name, responding to his name and following adult-led play for 10 minutes. I also want him to be less “dependent” on his Donald Duck toy. I guess more on this once the therapies start, by the end of August.

When the EI team left, I planned to give Little Man lunch and put him down for his nap. He just seemed not hungry, though he ate a little, and felt MUCH warmer. So I took his temperature and it was 101.7! This might not seem like a lot to those moms whose little ones have had fevers.  But this, honestly, was his first one over 101.  I managed to get some children’s Tylenol in him (Dude had picked some up, since we wanted to have it handy) and he napped, badly, for short periods of time. Maybe two 20 minute stretches. When he woke he was VERY clingy and we just watched Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on the DVR.  I managed to take him out with me, for a short trip, to Rite Aid to get him Children’s Ibuprofen. Since his fever was still 101.5, I gave him Tylenol at 4 pm and then Motrin before bedtime.

The next day, Friday July 29th, he woke up feeling cool to the touch. But I took his temp again, in the ear, and he fought me like crazy. (Should have been a hint.) He was normal, but he was acting strangely. He kept crying and screaming and saying “Boo boo! Boo boo!” By 9:30 am he was spent, and I put him down for an early nap. I planned to sleep, too, as I’d had little sleep the night before, listening to Little Man crying in HIS sleep. But I called the pediatrician before I conked out and scheduled an appointment for 12:15, as his behavior was quite odd and I knew something was off.  We both napped and when he woke I gave him an early lunch (not that he ate much, but I managed to get some yogurt and blueberries into him) and we headed to the doctor.

Of course at the doctor’s office, he was running around like crazy and giggling. It was like nothing was wrong. So I thought I’d taken him there for nothing. And after a HUGE fit when the nurse tried to get his oxygen levels (first on his finger, then on his foot) and a broken baby scale (we used the “big” one and he was 31.8 lb), we were finally seen by our favorite pediatrician in the group. He checked Little Man out, listened to his chest, looked in his throat (no 2 year molars yet), left ear… right ear… YEP.  He had an ear infection!  That happened to be MY first illness (at age 3). So he’s copying his mama and earlier. Makes sense that he gets sick once he starts daycare/preschool, right?

We head home to get the prescribed Amoxicillin (pedi called it in) with a brief stop at my office (was there too long, but I had no choice) and I managed to “force-feed” him the bubblegum pink medication close to 4 pm. I thought he’d take a late nap, but nope. I think the flavors in the antibiotics are all sugar because he was so hyper after that first dose and I felt like a limp noodle. The second dose was easier but not by much. And Dude’s train was VERY late so he was in a pissy mood and got home late. He didn’t even want to see Little Man, which made me upset, since he wanted his daddy. But I put him to bed (around 8:15 or so) by myself and he slept mostly OK.

Now to add insult to injury, *I* came down with Bronchitis this week! So both of us are on antibiotics. Me, a Z-pack, since we’re 90% sure I’m allergic to Penicillin.  And with a switch in our health insurance, I had to pay out of pocket and am canceling other appointments this week. But that’s for another vent.

In less than 10 days now, Little Man will turn 2.  Time goes so fast. I’m grateful it took 23 months for him to get sick the first time.  And he’s doing pretty well now (day 8 of antibiotics) and did much better in school this week. I, however, am EXHAUSTED.

Yesterday was July 4th and we have a friend who is a volunteer firefighter.  So Dude and I took Little Man to take a ride in a fire truck.  They sat in the front seat (I was in the cab) and they had a fantastic time. Dude mostly.  Men are just big boys, right? But I’m glad they had fun and it was a nice way to celebrate the 4th.  Here is Little Man wearing his new fireman’s hat!

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So after we left, around 11 am, Little Man fell asleep in the car!  We didn’t expect that, and Dude needed new sneakers so we were headed to the Reebok outlet nearby. So I stayed in the car with our son as my husband shopped for shoes. After about 35 minutes (including the time to the store), Little Man woke up. So we decided to have lunch at Panera before heading home. We had yogurt for the kiddo and we got stuff there.

After our meal, Dude was in the men’s room and Little Man turned bright red and started grunting. I knew EXACTLY what was happening. Oy vey!  He then started screaming in pain. So I got him out of the high chair and he finished pooping–or so I thought–on my lap.  Dude came back from the bathroom and I let him know that I had to change the boy.  So off I went, hoping for little or no struggle.

WARNING: GRAPHIC DESCRIPTION OF A MESSY DIAPER CHANGE AHEAD.

AGAIN, I WARNED YOU.

OK, HERE WE GO.

In the bathroom, the changing table was in the handicapped stall.  I got Little Man situated, putting a disposable pad under him, and I pulled off his shorts (left his shoes on) and opened the diaper to one of the biggest poops I’ve seen! He hadn’t pooped since Saturday, so I guess it was 2 days worth. It filled the diaper and was still coming out of his tush. As I pulled the diaper back, more poop came out.   I managed to wipe a lot away but still saw some poop just hanging there.  Like half in/half out of his tush.

I had to pull away the dirty diaper, because he began kicking and put his shoe IN some poop. Ack!  Got more wipes and put the dirty diaper and used wipes in a plastic bag (for used diapers, Munchkin brand). They he PEES all over himself and his clothing.  Starts SCREAMING!

So I’m trying to wipe him off and he then shits all over the table.

There is crap everywhere.  I had to wipe it off the table and him–and ME, since it was on my hands!  Then a wipe, with poop on it, fell on the floor!!!  Ack!

I’m not sure how I managed to get a clean diaper on him and bag his dirty clothes in another scented sack and also get most of the poop and his diaper in another. But I did.  And I tossed the refuse in a trash bin and tried to wash my hands, while my screaming toddler was attached to my hip.  Then I walked out, with my son only wearing a diaper and shoes, to tell the staff at Panera that they have a problem in their handicapped stall (ie. poop all over the changing station and the floor.) The woman doesn’t seem to understand, but I couldn’t linger and walked through the restaurant to where Dude was waiting.

“Take him!” is all I manage to say at first.

Then I shared with him, what I’ve just shared with you.  Dude helps me dress him in his “emergency outfit” and Little Man settles down and actually eats a bit more. I guess he had room, finally.

I use hand sanitizer to make up for whatever I missed during my futile attempt at washing my hands.  And then I have to pee. I am mortified and don’t want to go back to the bathroom. But I do.  And when I’m done–and have noticed the poop is still all over that stall–I let the manager know what happened.   Soooo embarrassed as I say it. But they’re nice and say they’ll take care of it.

We leave quickly.

So I’m not sure we’ll ever be welcome in the Panera on Route 202 in Flemington, NJ. Hopefully the other locations don’t know of my reputation.  Mom of the killer pooper.

Oh well, shit happens.

All over the place.

Yuck.

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.

My blog post yesterday about the woman who drove her car into the Hudson River was written prior to more information about this tragedy. Here’s an updated article about it (as of April 14th at 10:30 am).

I made assumptions about this woman without knowing the full story. Though my initial reaction of horror remains. Because I cannot imagine murdering my children, no matter how distraught I may be. But I am lucky in having the support of a loving family. I know that, if I ever needed them, they’d be there for me. My aunts and uncles, too, even though my relationship with them has been damaged due to my brother’s interactions with them. They love me, but because I live with my brother, I don’t see or speak to them as often as I would had had I not moved in with my family.

People make assumptions all the time. About how well off one may be. About others’ lives. And there is that saying about making assumptions: Never assume, for it makes an ASS out of U and ME.

I’m going to try to teach Little Man to make decisions based on fact. Or, at the very least, to be willing to let his mind be changed. But I want him to be true to himself as well. Teaching him to be able to find a balance will be my true job as a parent.

So those are my thoughts today. And I also still tend to track monthly milestones as today Little Man is 20 months old. In just 4 more months, he’ll turn 2. And over the next 30 days I plan to keep an eye (or ear) on his speech. His pediatrician said if he wasn’t speaking in 2 word sentences by 21 months to make an appointment to discuss his speech. I don’t want to ASSUME he’ll need Early Intervention, but I also don’t want to dismiss it. Hopefully he’s on track and will catch up. I guess we’ll see.

After years of longing to be a mother–thinking I’d never get married or have that child I’d always dreamed of–I cannot even fathom harming a hair on his head. Of course there are moments when Little Man’s extreme tantrums drive me to yell at him and feel quite frustrated. But when I have those moments of human frailty, I will safely deposit Little Man in his crib and walk away for a moment to catch my breath. And if I yell at him, I apologize for losing my temper. But to even consider harming him… it makes me sick.

Today I read about a New York State woman who drowned 3 of her 4 children, only sparing her 10-year-old son. The story link is here: New York Mother Drives Minivan Into Hudson River, Killing 3 Kids and Self I cannot understand being so depressed (which is my assumption, PPD) that the only solution a woman finds is to drown herself and her children. I understand suicidal thoughts but not murderous ones–especially when at one’s own children. But my bout of the baby blues was relatively mild, once I’d decided to formula feed. And I was worried about Postpartum Depression, because I’ve battled depression in the past.

But I think there must be something more to this. Why drowning? Is it biblical in a manner that I cannot understand, as my faith is different? Several women have done this. Susan Smith. Andrea Yates. Even last year, there was a woman who did this (I’d have to Google to find out who/where). Now this NY woman. I cannot even imagine how her surviving son feels right now. My heart breaks for him.

So today I will spend my time with Little Man reminding myself how lucky I am to have him. I always knew that if I only had one child, I would have a son. And I do have this AMAZING son and I am so grateful for him and would do whatever I could to protect him–even from myself. Thankfully I never had to worry about that. Sadly there are children who do.

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