Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Last Month

Update: I'm still a bit shaken up from our experience on Thursday. I am trying to focus on the positives - Nate is no worse for the wear and is not acting out of the ordinary. Thank God. But the thought that my carelessness could have led to something grave is overwhelming. So much so that I've been tempted to take my anti-anxiety medication to take the edge off. The only thing that has stopped me is that it's not exactly safe for breastfeeding and I refuse to end our nursing relationship due to these circumstances.

I've been slightly traumatized by the whole ordeal. I feel fragile. I am not perfect, nor will I ever be. But somehow I feel like I ought to be. For Nate's sake. I am my harshest critic and the hardest person for me to forgive is often myself. I just need time to get over the guilt and I'm confident that with each passing day, happiness will prevail.
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Yesterday, Nate turned 11 months old. T minus 29 days until his big birthday. The supplies have been ordered and are en route to our address. Once those are received, I will send out the invitations, visit the bakery to order the cake(s) and finalize the menu. I have a few more decorations to purchase in the coming weeks and then it's just a matter of bringing the vision to life. My excitement is mounting as we grow closer to the big day. It goes without saying that I'm amazed by how much he has blossomed in such a short amount of time.

At 11 months, my little guy:

Walks all over the place - all by his lonesome! At this point, he prefers walking over crawling unless he is tired or lazy (like if he falls mid-walk and decides crawling is an easier method of transportation to his destination). I'd estimate we're at 75/25 ratio to walking and crawling. He can also crouch down to pick up a toy and stand back up to walk. All that jumping in his jumperoo has given him some seriously strong legs.

Is starting to wave bye-bye. Backwards, as if waving to himself. He's not consistent but I've seen him do it a few times when he thought he'd go under the radar. I guess he'd rather not go public just yet with this new skill.

Can say mama and dada to the correct parent. Dada still comes out more like "baba" which makes me second guess whether or not he associates the word with DH. But since he tends to say it when DH is around or to mimic what we say, I believe he really does. For some reason, he is having trouble enunciating "d" sounds. I'm not concerned yet but will talk to the pediatrician about it at his next visit. You know, just in case speech therapy is an order.

Can throw a temper tantrum fit for a 2-year old. Gone are the days of casually removing an object from his grasp. Something as simple as a piece of paper causes a gargantuan meltdown, complete with arching of the back, stomping and waterworks so marvelous I should charge people to view them. Seriously. This kind of acting is sure to garner an Academy Award.

Understands "no" and "come". Of course, comprehension does not equal obedience. Though he may stop and look at me when he hears the dreaded "n-word", my insubordinate son typically continues on with his destructive, dangerous or bothersome behavior until I physically remove him from the situation. Aforementioned temper tantrum sure to follow.

Can boogie. To the radio. To television theme songs. His moves resemble squatting exercises but it's ever so cute to watch. He can get his groove on to any beat but seems to dance mostly to hip-hop and pop. Oh, and his newly discovered favorite, Yo Gabba Gabba. (Am I the only one who feels like I'm tripping on acid when I watch that show?)

Is a picky eater. We are going through a bizarre food phase right now. He is refusing almost all purees, eating maybe 2-3 oz. at a sitting before putting his dukes up. But finger foods are hit or miss. Most end up thrown over the side of his highchair for the thrill of the plop or splatter. It's so hard to get anything in that belly of his besides Cheerios and breastmilk. I assume he will eat when he is hungry so I am just riding this out until it gets old. To him. It's already getting pretty old to me.

Is back to two naps per day. Hallelujah! After a rough week of limited naptime, and ergo cranky baby, I am ecstatic to report that we are back on track. I'm chalking it up to a growth spurt or perhaps teething. 1030am and 3pm are necessary downtimes in this house. Any deviation from this makes for an unhappy baby and Mommy.

Is still not sleeping through the night. Some nights we get 5+ hour stretches and other nights, only 2-3 hours. I am unsure of how to handle it but I think CIO may be involved, as much as I wish to avoid it. He is now trained to eat several times during the night - which I admit is my fault since I never reestablished sleep training when his reflux waned - but I'd like to try and cut back on the night feeds so he will eat more calories during the day. I'm okay with one, possibly two, night feeds but I know he is capable of sleeping through. We just have to figure out what method is best for all of us to get there.

I think that about sums it up. This is the last month I will have a "baby". In 29 days, I will have a "toddler". So I'm soaking up as much as I can.

ETA: Another "skill" I forgot to mention - opening and closing doors and cabinets. He's strategically figured out how to get into the pots and pans in the kitchen so he can bang them together and create a ruckus. He's also learned how to open the front door (when it's unlocked of course) so he can peep outside at the dogwalkers. With opening, he's also learned its opposite - closing. A few times on his poor appendages. I once was talking on the phone and heard whining coming from the bathroom. Sure enough, he had closed the door and shut himself inside. Quite amusing.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

I Am Not Worthy

Have you ever had a day so horrific, you wished it was all just a nightmare? Like you could pretend you were an ostrich, pulling your head out of the ground to find a new reality?

Today was one of those days for me.

It started out well enough. The weather was hot and sunny. 90 degrees. Nate and I played for a bit outdoors, taking in the sunshine before retiring indoors to chill - literally - in the marvel that is central air. After his second nap, I decided to take advantage of Nate's good mood and run some errands. At the top of the list was hitting the grocery store to pick up some items for dinner.

I unlocked the Jeep and tossed my keys and purse onto the front seat. I buckled Nate in his carseat in the back and closed the door. But when I pulled on the door handle to hop into the driver's seat, I couldn't get in.

I was locked out.

When I flung my keys, it must have activated the automatic lock. My keys. My purse. My cell phone. My baby. All locked inside. Thank the Lord, I had cracked one of the back windows earlier so there was a tiny bit of fresh air making its way in amidst the humid, scorching heat.

I frantically pulled at all four doors and the trunk, using all my might and hoping by some grace of God, one would come loose. Of course, I knew it was a long shot but I was desperate and perhaps in shock at the situation. I peeked inside at Nate and he smiled, assuming we were playing yet another game of peek-a-boo. I ran to our backyard to see if I could find anything that could jostle the door lock. With no luck, I peeked inside again to a check on Nate (who was still in good spirits) and raced off around the corner to my parent's house to use their phone and call the fire department to rescue my baby. As I erratically explained our predicament, extreme guilt washed over me. I was ashamed that I had allowed this to happen.

With help on the way, I ran back to the scene of the crime. Beads of sweat had formed on Nate's face. His hair was matted. He looked uncomfortable. He was no longer smiling but he wasn't in distress. I grew slightly alarmed. My mom followed behind me and kept me company as we waited for the tell-tale red truck. She spouted off statistics on infant death due to similar circumstances that she had seen on the news. I assured her that those numbers were not comforting me and, in so many words, told her to knock the shit off. My fear rose as I imagined my son passing out from heat stroke. Panic set in.

Every minute that passed felt like an hour. I debated whether or not I should just screw it all, find a heavy rock and break a window. I was desperate to hold my son. I'm so sorry, baby. If you hang in there...stay with me...I promise, I'll never disappoint you again. I will find any way I can to make it up to you.

As my thoughts rambled, I heard the sirens blaring around the bend. I looked up and saw the rescue team heading toward me. One worker asked me a few questions while another hurriedly jimmied the lock until it clicked. Success! I rushed to the door and fumbled with the straps on Nate's carseat, freeing him from the restraint. His t-shirt was drenched in sweat. Droplets fell from his brow. I could have wrung him out to dry.

I tore off his clothes in an attempt to cool him down. I clutched him tightly to my chest, kissing his wet forehead. He was a little lethargic but his temperature was a perfect 98.6. I declined a hospital visit and signed a liability form. They told me if I were to change my mind, I could give them a call at anytime. I thanked them profusely. Then it was all over.

Or so I thought. As I walked in the house, I noticed my underwear was damp. Apparently, in all of the hustle and bustle, I had peed myself. Lovely. So I can add my overactive bladder to the list of things out of my control.

I had held it together this whole time, my determination outweighing the emotions bubbling beneath the surface. But now that all was said and done, I broke down, trembling with terror over what could've been. I was ever so thankful the situation did not escalate into something much more serious. But I am still overwrought with terror. My baby could have been that top local news story. A headline on tomorrow's newspaper.

I took Nate upstairs for a cool bath and kneeled beside the tub, tears falling from my swollen eyes, creating ripples in the bathwater. He splashed about independently, aloof, as if it were any other uneventful day. Sure, we can all agree this was an accident. And yes, it could have happened to anyone - and has happened to some. But it's my duty to protect him. And I failed miserably this time. While he'll never remember this incident, it will forever haunt me. Just how close we were to catastrophe.

I can't help but feel undeserving of this beautiful baby who has been bestowed upon me. I'm simply not worthy of such a blessing when I am obviously incapable of requisite multi-tasking.

We are taking appropriate measures to ensure this incident is never repeated. Car and house keys are being replicated tomorrow.

But it feels like too little too late. What's done is done. Irrevocable damage has been done to my self-esteem. Just when I thought I was getting good at this mothering thing.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Three

Three years ago at this time, we had said our vows and were dancing at our reception. As the sun set below the horizon in favor of a starry night sky, I remember we made a wish. For a real live baby to fill our arms and our hearts.

Today, three years later, our soon to be 11-month old son is waddling about, babbling "dada" while experimenting with volume control.

In three short years, we became a family of three. So much has changed yet our love remains the same.

Our lives have become quite hectic lately - with me staying at home and you working two jobs - and we don't have as much time alone as we would like. Things aren't perfect. But we are ultimately happy. Our ups and downs over the years have made us stronger. I have no doubt we can make it through just about anything. As long as we are together.

Happy Anniversary, my love. And Happy First Father's Day.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Lost & Found

My beloved mommy necklace has gone missing. I first noticed its displacement on Mother's Day. I checked all the usual suspects - jewelry box, dresser, bedside table drawers - and it was nowhere to be found. I thought about the last time I wore it. Moving day. I recalled seeing it as we were in the throes of last minute packing and I stuck it in my pocket for safe keeping. But I can't for the life of me remember taking it out of my pocket. Or ever seeing it again for that matter.

I was immediately overwashed with guilt. How could I allow such a sentimental piece such as this to slip away from me like this? How could I show such little attention to something that was supposed to mean so much to me? I admit the discovery - or lack thereof - made me feel despondent on a day I should have been completely and utterly joyful. But I was hopeful it would turn up. Surely, we would find it in our array of unopened boxes. Somehow, someway.

Both DH and I have searched high and low, leaving no stone unturned, but to no avail. I'm trying to convince myself that it's gone. Reasoning that it fell out of my pocket in transit. Or that it is in some secret, hidden place where I am unlikely to find it for years. But that is unacceptable to me. I need something tangible. Something to wear proudly, close to my heart. A token to signify my triumph. A gentle reminder of the journey that brought me full circle.

I feel absolutely empty without it.
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As I was frantically rummaging through my closet trying to find the necklace, I uncovered a plastic tub of old clothes and accessories that I hadn't seen in years. I pulled out the articles one by one, holding them up to admire them in their entirety. They conjured up so many memories of high school and college. Those were chaotic times and in many ways, my life is simpler now. Even if there are aspects I miss sometimes - being a size 2/4 or my sole responsibility being to myself - I certainly don't want to trade places with my 19-year old self permanently. I traded the superficiality and angst for a much more enriching life. I feel much more wholesome and proud of myself now. I've lived a little bit. And while I still have a long way to go, I have more of an appreciation for life in general, and the little twists and turns you encounter along the way.

I came across a pair of low-rise pale blue corduroys courtesy of Abercrombie & Fitch. Size 0. They were cut a little big. More like a size 2. But I remember they made my ass look marvelous. Ah, the days of bare midriffs. I looked down at my tummy flab and love handles - my postpartum badges of honor. My body has written its own autobiography.

I recalled how healthy and alive I felt back then. When these pants adorned my hips. I had the energy to work out six days a week. I had the best figure I had ever had in my life. I had no problem working a full-time job during the day and attending school full-time in the evenings. Now I struggle to wake up in the morning. If I don't have a dose of caffeine, I can barely function. I have so much more to enjoy in my life right now but I have less vigor. So unfair.

I came to the bottom of the tub. The trip back in time was pleasant while it lasted.

I decided then and there to consign them. I can declutter our eaves and get some extra cash to afford a refreshing, new, mature yet stylish wardrobe. After all, I'll never be able to wear these again. That ship has long ago sailed. So what's the point in keeping them around? They're just taking up valuable space.

Although I admit it crossed my mind to keep the blue cords. For memory's sake.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Force To Be Reckoned With

The apple must not fall far from the tree. I think DH's passion for engineering may have been instilled on Nate. I predict a major in the field of physics, with a minor in mathematical theory.

It appears he has grasped the concept of gravity. Thank you so much, Sir Isaac Newton. I can attest your contributions are laudable. (Grab your umbrella. It's dripping sarcasm in here.)

Feeding time has become quite the frenzy, as every last bit of food pretty much lands on the floor. Even once favorite treats like biter biscuits and cheese puffs are lobbed like grenades over the side of his highchair tray. Spoons, bowls, sippy cups - they all go over the wayside just for the thrill of the plop. All I can say is thank goodness for splat mats. But I have a hard enough time getting food into him as it is without this new "discovery".

It's not solely at mealtime. We've had to eliminate stoller toys after several teethers have mysteriously gone missing. Anything that can be clutched is now subject to a science experiment in gravitational pull.

This is an important lesson, I presume, albeit a frustrating one. 52 Pickup is going to get really old. Really fast.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Walkers Are For Sissies

My not-so-little baby is taking more and more steps each day. All by himself.

As you may recall, he took his first steps about a month ago, but needed to gain the confidence to persevere. In the past week, he has gone from taking 6-8 unassisted steps at a time to walking across the room (20 or more steps) without falling. He's dared to walk longer distances and on varied terrain (carpet, hardwood, gravel, grass, etc.). He has proven yet another facet to his independence and hence, is now a part-time walker. Crawling is still necessary to travel at lightening speed but walking provides another perspective, fostering his curious nature. I suppose the fable of the Tortoise and the Hare would be a useful tale to introduce at our next storytime.

He's still a little bow-legged but it is endearing to watch him wobble from one end of the room to another. So eager. So proud. But all the while careful to concentrate and steady himself. And when he completes his mission, he falls on his bottom and delivers the most magnificent, boastful smile. I pick him up in my arms and twirl him around in praise. Its moments like those where I feel as if nothing in the world could bring me down from my high. I feel so incredibly lucky to be in a position so as not to miss any of the milestones. I get to be right in the thick of it - every moment of every day. There is nowhere else I'd rather be, honestly.

The walking phase is exciting, yet terrifying. We've already endured some painful bumps and bruises as a result of this quantum leap. I feel as if I hold my breath with fear each time he gains the courage to stand up and go for it. Waiting with bated breath for him to fall so I can race to his rescue. But to witness him succeed is indescribable. I'm watching his rebirth into a toddler with his every traipse.

Now, for your viewing pleasure:

video

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Crime and Punishment

As you can tell from this week's lovely Wordless Wednesday pictorial, we have an ankle biter on our hands. Well, not the ankle exclusively. Shoulders, chest, arms, thighs - even my big toe has fallen victim to Nate's overzealous chompers. The origin of this loathsome new habit of biting - insanely hard - is quite the enigma. My best guess is that he is the latest devotee of the Twilight/True Blood "fanpire" series'. Damn television. Already warping my kid.

In all seriousness, I'm unsure of the exact time this mannerism started. I remember his rooting reflex as a newborn, as he bobbed his head, pecking for a nipple like a hen for grain. This instinct disappeared just in time for the drool and discomfort of teething. I recall a smidge of toothless "gumming" originating around the 6-month mark, just prior to when teeth first made their grand entrance. Mostly on his own fingers. But now that said teeth have fully emerged, he seems to have discovered a novel way to put them to use. At 10.5 months, the biting is getting worse by the day. And with eight teeth, it certainly doesn't tickle. As a matter of fact, he has bitten me hard enough to leave welts and bruises on my skin.

It has to end. STOP. NOW. I absolutely, positively do NOT want to be the mom who gets a phone call that her child bit a classmate in preschool. The mom who avoids playdates because her son can't control his animalistic tendencies. The mere thought is mortifying. Not to mention it FREAKIN' HURTS. I do not like wearing long sleeves in summer to hide the evidence of abuse.

Let me say, I don't *think* this is in any way related to teething. I've been scrutinizing his behavior and searching for triggers so I can preempt the munching. Instead, it seems to occur as the result of (a) overstimulation or excitement and (b) frustration.

As far back as I can remember, Nate has been easily overstimulated. I personally believe that his colic, in large part, was due to his inability to process his environmental cues. He can better manage his senses these days but he can still become excitable. For example, if we've been playfully crawling around together and I collapse on the floor, he will crawl over to me and nuzzle affectionately. Charming, right? WRONG. That sweet, innocent hug quickly turns into a piercing "love bite".

Furthermore, if I'm on the computer or phone and he wants my undivided attention, he will accost me, crawl or walk over to me and bite me on the closest appendage. Since he is incapable of verbalizing his irritation, he bites as a way of communicating his disgruntlement. Sometimes, I think the bugger does it because he knows he'll get a reaction out of me.

Both situations - while understandable for a baby his age - are simply unacceptable. He HAS to learn. But how?

They say the punishment should fit the crime. But at this age, he doesn't have the capacity to understand right from wrong. He's not 2 or 3 years old. He has no idea that what he is doing hurts others. Nor can he tell me exactly what is bothering him.

I will NOT go medieval as some have suggested and bite him back. While it may, in fact, relieve the biting, what exactly does this teach? It's okay for Mommy to bite but not you? I don't want to reinforce that violence is an appropriate method of handling his emotions. Besides, I can't in good conscience bite my baby, even if it is to teach a lesson. There has to be a less aggressive means to get my point across.

I tried substituting a teething toy after the incident but it did nothing to hinder the situation. He'd just toss it aside listlessly. I even tried to put on an act, pretending to wail. But all he did was look at me and laugh in my face. Real sympathetic.

The only action that has shown any relative success is a stern "NO BITING" along with a time-out. Saying "NO" seems like common sense but when your first instinct is to scream, "F^%&*#$@! OUCH!", maintaining your composure can be problematic. After a firm rejection, I remove him from my body and ignore him for 60 seconds. Most times, this results in tears and a tantrum. But I walk away or put him down and leave him to his devices for one whole minute. When I return and pick him up, I sometimes get a second bite and other times, I am in the clear. My odds are about 50/50 right now.

I want him to learn that biting isn't going to get my attention - it's going to lose it. I'm hoping that with consistency in the punishment, my stubborn offspring will get the hint and quit cold turkey.

Do you think I'm on the right track? How would you handle this?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Biter

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Indoor Gal's Guide to Camping

It would probably come as no surprise to you that I am an indoor girl. Meaning I'd choose a luxury spa over the harsh jungle any day of the week. DH, on the other hand, is the handsome rugged type. Not afraid to get his hands dirty or sweat puddles. Opposites attract, I suppose.

However, considering our lean vacation budget this year, I temporarily lost my sanity and accepted an invitation for a spontaneous family camping trip with the in-laws. Primitive camping. None of this prissy cabin business with electricity that I had enjoyed once upon a time. We're talking dome tent with languid air mattress to mark your territory. Showering that requires shoes - and clemency for hard water. Resisting urination as you walk a mile uphill to the closest restroom facility. A persistent film of sunscreen, bug spray, smoke and dirt sealed on your skin.

While I knew up front it wasn't really my cup of tea, I reasoned that we so rarely get to act on impulse these days. We should take advantage of an opportunity to escape the normalcy. Variety is the spice of life, they say. And being the minority in my household with the lone vagina, I had better pull up my big girl panties and get accustomed to grime and filth. No better time than the present. So, we packed up the Jeep and drove for two hours to get here, preparing for our new adventure.

Things were off to a rough start as we hit stop-and-go traffic for the entire span of I-95. As we inched along, I had a moment of clairty and began to stress about the logistics of outdoor living with a 10-month old. I was tempted to turn the car around and call it off but I pushed on, motivated by DH's eagerness and excitement. The weather was turbulent and the rain cascaded over the hoods of our ponchos as we checked into the site and set up our gear. Well, I should say DH set up. I was on baby duty since Nate declined to sit in the comfort of his new warm, dry convertible carseat. It was cold and muddy. But I fought the will to complain. Instead, I quipped about what a hardcore camper I was. How my dedication should earn me some sort of merit badge. This led to a humorous discussion and chuckling over pieces of "flair".

That's pretty much how the trip went. We made lemonade from the lemons that were dealt.

I got zero sleep between a panic-stricken Nate waking repeatedly during the night and the sound of snoring coming from FIL's tent. But I still woke up with a smile on my face. Although I admit I was first in line for the instant coffee. Reeking of sweat and desperation.

When we discovered a tiny tick on Nate's neck and had to borrow tweezers from a neighbor to swiftly remove it, I laughed that despite dressing him in long sleeves and pants, the sucker - literally - was able to find the one bare spot on its defenseless victim. After the shock wore off, of course.

When DH spent the entire Saturday fishing and seemlingly deserted us, my frustration mounted but I remained composed. A little dripping sarcasm - and the ever useful silent treatment - earned me a deserved apology.

When a hike to Fossil Beach left us empty-handed of the remains for which we sought, we joked that at least we got our exercise for the day. And when I arrived at the beach to find I had forgotten my nursing cover - and had no blanket on hand - I nursed in public. Modestly and in a shaded area. But to hell with the consequences. It felt incredibly powerful to shed my timidity.

When Nate attempted to eat a fistful of dirt and rocks from the campground playground, I chided him and told him that he need not resort to sordid grub as a protein source.

It was a popular weekend at the campsite and there was never a dull moment. Peace and quiet were elusive. But there was one moment the first night - with the baby asleep in his playpen - where I laid awake in bed and stared at the apex of the tent, listening to the raindrops pelt us and slide down the nylon. At that moment, I felt detente. My stress melted off of me and I was ready to face the next day. Until Nate woke up, that is.

I ate so many hot dogs that I will likely have an aversion to them for months. I indulged in enough Little Hugs to warrant a cavity. But somehow I fell asleep and missed out on the classic campfire smores. If I have one regret, that would be it.

After roughing it for three days and two nights, it felt strange to come back home to plush carpeting and warm water. I - epitome of the indoor girl- almost missed the natural habitat. Unbelievable, right?!

I have to say this experience has given me a sense of pride. I have proven to myself that I can survive without television or a hairdryer. I extended my boundaries and surpassed my expectations. As did Nate, who I greatly underestimated. An unexpected side effect was to be able to truly distinguish necessities from luxuries. Toilet paper: necessity. Pillow: luxury.

This trip compelled me to put down the laptop and resist the usual distractions in order to focus on what's really important: making memories with family. So often, I'm caught up in documenting the happenings in my life that I fail to fully relish in it. It's in my nature to be introspective and that is unlikely to change. But when I can let go of the camera and the keyboard, I find that I am able to savor so much more. It's like being partially blind and resuming full vision. I can open my eyes and see the big picture instead of noticing things peripherally.

That explains why this is the one and only photo I took of our weekend getaway:



This has encouraged me. It's been a wakeup call. Maybe I need to put the blinders on more often.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: From Baby to Toddler



I took this picture of Nate the night before his 10-month birthday but just recently uploaded it to my computer. As I opened the file and looked at this picture, I could no longer recognize a baby. It's as if he metamorphosed into a toddler overnight.

His growth - his maturation - manifested in a photograph. And I love it.