Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The rocking chair

We rocked this morning, the girl and I.

Restless because her belly was making terrible noises, she couldn't figure out how to get herself into a good sleep. So we rocked.

I bundled her up in her fuzzy, pink, swaddle blanket and pulled her close against my chest. One little fist tightly clenched her small teddy bear and the other hand rested calmly just above my heart. She was so warm and so close that it almost felt like she was a part of me again, and to my surprise I found myself missing those days - the days where I could feel her squirm and roll and hiccup. The days where I didn't need a video monitor to see that she was safe at night; I could feel that she was.

She finally let her eyes drift closed, but she periodically opened them to search frantically in the darkness for my face. Once she settled on it, she let her eyelids droop again, content for another minute that I was still there holding her and protecting her. Eventually, with one long sigh, she settled down and began to get some true rest and I knew at that point that I could have, should have, put her down in her crib and tiptoed out to do the dishes or the laundry or one of the other eighty-seven things that are on my to-do list for today.

Instead, I stayed and we rocked.

Now I know why people do this all over again.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Five months MILLION to go.

So my little seven pound munchkin is now five months old and over SIXTEEN pounds. It is amazing how the days can feel so unimaginably long, but yet the weeks and months scream by.

Brooke’s fifth month had her growing by leaps and bounds, which is wonderful to watch and frustrating for her (and us) at the same time.

She wants so badly to crawl, and can get her legs under her, but she can’t coordinate with her push-ups, so she just does a face plant. She rolls immediately from her back to her tummy if you put her on a playmat, but she doesn’t like rolling the other way so much. She’s done it a couple dozen times so we know she’s able to, but we think the fact that she’s been diagnosed with reflux, and also that she can’t get around from her back, keep her right side up.

And speaking of the reflux, the poor little princess has had quite the month of medical interventions, much to our dismay. One of her brand new hearing aids had a malfunction, and then when it was repaired it completely died again so she was without amplification in one ear for a good part of the month. Then we got a bum ear mold so you can hear her ears screeching from a few rooms away (luckily, she can’t hear it). My broken bladder caused an uprising and I had to go on antibiotics for a time which caused havoc with her digestive system, and although we both took some probiotics I’m still unsure as to whether that made it better or worse. Oh, and the reflux. The reflux itself is much better, but they somehow manufacture infant Zantac to come in liquid form and taste like a mixture of melted candy canes and rotten sardines. If any of you want to come and help me cram a syringe of that stuff down her throat twice a day, you are more than welcome.

Every day Brooke is learning something new – she now sits up on her own, a trait that she appeared to learn overnight. She sometimes still sits with her hand(s) on the ground to hold herself up, and she still often topples over like a broken Weeble, but for the most part she’s got the balance down.

She had rice cereal for the first time right around five months, which I was holding out for her sixth month to do, but with the reflux, her crappy sleeping issues, and her Daddy’s pouty eyes whenever she grabbed for my spoon at the table I caved. She usually likes it fine, but doesn’t always seem to understand that it’s food, so it hasn’t affected her nursing at all. I will admit that it is hilarious to watch her mouth the mushy substance and decide whether she wants to swallow it or spit it fountain style right back at her Daddy. I’d say the ratio is pretty much 1:1 right now.

She also made her first consonant sounds the other day (ma-ma, I’m proud to say), so we were thrilled with that because her language skills are behind due to her three first months without hearing aids. Obviously I know that she didn’t say it in reference to me, but it’s a good sign that she’s starting to explore sounds, and we continue to work with her all day on hearing and speaking exercises.

Last, but not least, her sleeping habits are nothing short of a night shift flight controller: sporatic and generally when you need her to be awake for something. She sometimes sleeps 2-3 hours straight at night, but that’s with a whole lot of grunting, twisting, crying out and squirming, and mostly she prefers to wake every hour or so and have a little snack. While I appreciate that she’s doing the health-conscious thing and avoiding big meals, the sleep deprivation has taken a toll on both of us. Corey can sleep in a train station, so when I woke up with her first whimper I would nurse her while staring at my slumbering spouse with such resentment that I still can’t believe he didn’t wake up from the sheer telepathic power. Then, to avoid what seemed imminent: divorce or murder-suicide, he started getting up with us. But, he does need minimal brain function to teach his students, and therefore that wasn’t working either. So, we decided to sleep train.

Thirteen books, five message boards, nine mothers with word-of-mouth advice and two television shows later I still have no idea what sleep training is. I know that we should do it; I know that it’s great, and I know that it will work. I just wish someone would tell me how to do it.

You can be sure that the one method of sleep training that is thoroughly described is Ferberizing, or crying it out. This is for the parents with much bigger cajones than I have, because I spent too many weeks listening to her scream her little face off to willingly subject myself, my husband and my dog to it again.

So here we remain, in sleep training purgatory until either our lovely daughter decides she’s human or we drink the Kool-Aid and let Family Services deliver her to her newly appointed guardians (which we have chosen, we aren’t animals).

I have every confidence that they too will be sucked in by her baby blues and her ability to sit up, and will spend a very long time giving her kisses and hugs and blowing raspberries on her chubby belly. Or at least around five months.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

San Diego, how I love thee...

In my mind I am spontaneous. I imagine that my dream date is me coming home from [enter monotonous household errand here] to find Corey with a bag packed for me, telling me that we’re going somewhere and it’s a secret. Obviously I know that this isn’t realistic now, what with the beagador and his teething sister being bad secret keepers and all, but it’s my imagination so I’ll conjure up what I want.

In reality, any trip that takes place with less than three lists made about it causes me to break out in a rash, and if the above scenario were to happen I would have to unpack every bag, survey its contents, repack in a different order, and add another suitcase for first aid items, emergency food, and ‘just in case’ things.

Corey on the other hand, literally owned no more items than he could fit in his truck when I met him, so the Air Force has cultivated the gypsy part of him. He could absolutely go anywhere on a whim, without regard to packing, method of transportation, or responsibility at home.

I am lucky in that Corey has allowed me to handle all of our vacations my way until now, and he has even been thankful for my bags of cold medicine, granola bars, and bug repellant on different occasions.

So, when I asked him on Thursday night if he wanted to go out of town on Friday for the long weekend I had already anticipated his answer in the negative. Not only does he allow me to plan our trips, but we also now have the five-month-old Kardashian-type baby who appears to have emerged from the womb with her own set of Louis Vuitton luggage. Between Pack N Plays, Rock N Plays, play mats, play gyms, swings, slings and diaper accessories, the kid needs her own travelling bellhop. There was no way he was going to say yes.

Except, he did.

Now, I may have a reader out there who is asking me, “Well, why did you ask him then?”

It’s called passive-aggressive, and it usually works out in my favor.

So, I asked if he wanted to go to Pinetop to enjoy the cooler weather. When that wasn’t possible because my parents already had houseguests I thought the idea was tabled.

And then, because I’m so confident in my ways, I did it again the next afternoon.

“We could go to San Diego.”


“Yeah. Let’s do that,” he says.

At this point my head started spinning in circles and I simultaneously tried to compile fourteen lists in my head all while flogging myself for my careless offerings.

Somehow, some way (I believe I blacked out a large portion of this time) we were packed and out the door in forty-five minutes.

We found a hotel that allowed Sprocket (a Marriot, thank goodness, not some scary airport motel), made reservations on the way, and got on the road at 4pm on Friday afternoon.

And, we all survived.

Brooke slept most of the way to San Diego, with several stops to eat and change diapers, while her furry brother refused to relieve himself on any surface that didn’t smell like the grass in our backyard. Nervous that he wouldn’t be able to hold it any longer, we skipped the last stop, crossing our fingers that the princess would sleep through her scheduled feeding time, and made it to the hotel by ten (she did sleep, and he did hold it until he couldn’t possibly any longer and made do with the hotel grass).

Saturday morning we got up and met my best friend and her almost-husband at Fiesta Island which is a lovely off-leash dog park where we got the shock of our lives: Sprocket is a dog. Okay, well, we always knew he was a dog, but for the first time he ACTED like a dog. He went into the ocean and swam! Sprocket normally acts like a Siamese cat around water and does everything he can to avoid it, whether it’s rain during our ten day monsoon season or an errant sprinkler while on a walk. But, he waded right in and appeared to have a great time.

Brooke dipped her toes in the water and seemed to be less impressed, and we missed capturing any of it by photograph because we are horrible parents and were busy wrangling the sheer amount of stuff that we needed to bring to the beach to haul the camera case out of the trunk.

Unfortunately, Sprocket got a mad case of dead tail from the water, which is temporary nerve damage/inflammation in the base of the tail so it hangs lifelessly (and painfully) which kept him from sleeping more than twenty minutes at a time on Saturday night. Add to that the woes of our sleepless daughter and we were lucky to emerge from the hotel room on Sunday morning with full function of our minds and limbs.

With San Diego being much more animal friendly than Phoenix, Sprocket also got to enjoy both a dinner and a lunch out with us, and the dinner restaurant even had a “Hounddog Special” that we ordered for him (grilled chicken) and brought out a water bowl (he prefers Voss…from a glass…not kidding).

We did enjoy the fact that there were other people around to dote on Brooke (she also enjoyed it, attention whore that she is) and also that we are capable of going out in public with our child without people moving to the other side of the street and crossing themselves.

We also got to spend a few minutes at Coronado Dog Park on Sunday, but it was cold, Sprocket’s tail was dead, and Brooke’s hearing aid fell out, got temporarily lost in the sand, and was located after a mad search and rescue operation (I have shaken most of the sand out) by my friend’s fiance, so we were ready to go almost as soon as we got there.

It was mostly an enjoyable trip, if for nothing else than the fact that we were able to take a last minute vacation and survive it with our two high maintenance kids. And it reminded Corey and me that the days of having fun together aren’t quite over even though slobber rags and speech therapy appointments have taken precedent over dinner and a movie.

And, with my friend’s wedding taking place in the same spot six weeks from now, it gave us the confidence to know that we can, and will, live through the trip as long as we have optimism, a dozen pacifiers and a trunk full of puppy treats.

I better go and add those to the list.