Monthly Archives: March 2011
Brian was very anti-tutu. But, I am a genius and know the best way to get around his weird objections to articles of clothing (and not just buying it without his knowledge). While perusing the racks with the husband, all I have to do is show Lorelei said piece of clothing. She will grab the hanger and then spend the rest of the trip around the store swinging it to and fro and jibbering at her new outfit. See. Genius.She is such a girl. She really likes her frills.
When Lorelei came into this world, a squirming little red bundle of arms and legs and enormous head, it finally dawned on me: I’m responsible for another life. There is this tiny person who needs me for everything. She needs me to feed her and clothe her and bathe her and change her poopy diapers. She wants me to snuggle her and hold her when she cries and kiss her when she falls down. And I do it, even when I feel completely crappy.
We’ve been through a lot, our little family. It hasn’t always been easy, but we have survived. There is laughter and dancing and bad singing. There are books read over and over until they start to fall apart and there are tea parties with Daddy. There is a little girl with a smile so big it can light up even the darkest days and a laugh so loud and beautiful it can drown out the bad thoughts in my head.
This wasn’t the plan. I didn’t plan on growing up and becoming an Adult, with a capital A so soon. But I did.
I wish I had something profound – hell, I’d take mildly interesting – to say. I don’t. My thoughts have been a jumble and I haven’t been able to articulate half of them to myself, let alone to the great void of the Internet. Also, I’ve been laid up the last two days with (probably stress-induced) flu and the weather has been shitty.
Last Wednesday, it was beautiful and sunny. Lorelei and I spent a lovely morning out wandering around the botanical gardens. If you’re like me and could use a pick-me up from the winter that won’t go away, enjoy a few pictures from this last visit:
One of Lorelei’s new favorite pastimes is reading her books aloud. Usually, she will tote them into the bathroom and read them to the other baby in the floor to ceiling mirror in there. Sometimes, however, we are treated to one of her recitals. She’ll select one of her favorites and bring them to us in the living room. After settling in, squatting awkwardly on the floor, she begins her tale…
Sometimes, she “rereads” the same page or flips back to her favorite picture multiple times. It’s still completely incomprehensible to us but I’m sure, in her head, it makes perfect sense.
We were treated to a gorgeous day here in the ‘Lou. Lorelei and I spent part of the afternoon running around the playground due to her being on nap strike (again) (still) (OH GOD! MAKE IT STOP).
She walks from the apartment all by herself now – except for when we cross the parking lot/street – and will pause every five seconds to examine the detritus that is scattered in her path. Sometimes she holds my hand. Most of the time, she doesn’t. I walk a tight line along the edge of the sidewalk, keeping her from veering off into the lot or falling off.
She has no fear. Climb those stairs? No problem.
She is happy to be independent and will ignore me as I click away on my camera trying to capture another ephemeral moment of her rapidly vanishing babyhood.
Y’all, I joined a playgroup.
After sixteen months, I finally pulled the trigger. Every so often, I would cruise around Meetup.com and look at what “mommy groups” were in the St Louis area. And then I couldn’t get up the nerve – especially since most of them charge a membership fee – to say Yes, that is the group for me. Last week I did.
Today, I attended my third event: an hour at the “Creation Station” at the Museum of Transportation
Lorelei had a blast. It was this big room full of pretty much every transportation-related toy imaginable. Being a big fan of trucks and trains and stuff, she went nuts.
There was also a pirate ship.
She got worn out:
And unlike a large portion of the other kids, did not throw a tantrum when it was time to leave. Of course, now she is WIDE! AWAKE! despite my best efforts to wear her out and is most definitely not napping. I’m going to blame Daylight Savings because that is the thing to do.
What adventures have you taken today?
My seat was taken. By someone’s bag.
I dutifully arrived for my first physical therapy appointment half an hour early – ostensibly to finish filling out paperwork – and after some initial confusion as to where I was signing in, I had settled into a seat right across from the “New Patient” desk. I had just cracked open my book when the receptionist called me up to get my insurance card and collect the questionnaire I had completed at home. Yes, apparently they think this would take half an hour. As I was standing there, shifting my weight to take the pressure off my bad leg, she processed my (ridiculous) co-pay and my seat was taken. A woman swooped in and plopped herself in one of the two chairs and her enormous bag in the other chair. (I would like to note that I had only been occupying one and sat with my purse clutched in my lap.)
“Oh, there’s a problem with the printer,” the receptionist said, apologetically. “I can’t get it to print your receipt.”
I was more upset by the fact that I had to hobble farther away from the entrance to the actual “treatment rooms” and wedge myself in next to a man who reeked of cigarette smoke and stale alcohol. It was ten in the morning.
I went back to my book like I always do. Okay, I might have shot entitled woman an annoyed look from my second-class seat. I did not make the mistake of taking my things with me when the receptionist motioned me back up for a hand-written receipt. I risked my belongings for not having to sit in the parking lot while I waited.
“I’m going the one time and that’s it,” the smoke man said to his friend.
At that moment, I couldn’t help but agree.
I don’t look injured. I stick out in a sea of canes, walkers and wheelchairs. I walk with pain. But I walk.
I’m sure the woman with the big bag that needed a seat of it’s own, saw me and thought that it didn’t matter if I had to sit a little further away. There was probably nothing wrong with me.
The thing is: arthritis runs in my family. My mom has bad knees. The other thing: I fell down my front steps when I was almost seven months pregnant. I sprained my ankle – what originally appeared to be the extent of the damage – but I also landed badly on my rear end and lower back. At a time when one’s body is all out of whack, joints under increased pressure and ligaments stretched, I went and fell down the fucking stairs.
You can see it on the X-rays. Right now, my case is classified as “mild,” but that doesn’t mean that I don’t hurt. I do. Hurt. A lot. I can be sitting or standing or walking or laying in bed not moving and I feel pain starting in my back and reaching all the way to my knee. Maybe it’s not as bad as your* pain, but it is pain.
I don’t want to go. I don’t want to be there. I don’t want to be told that my poor posture isn’t helping things, or that my ankles roll inwards.
But I don’t want to be in pain.
So I go.
*The undefined you. That other person that I may or may not be talking to
Lorelei learned how to say NO! this week. At sixteen months, my daughter has finally learned to say one of the simplest words, one that is usually among the first for a baby to learn. On the one hand, YAY! it has taken her this long to learn how to say that one word that has driven legions of parents before me completely insane. On the other hand, what am I doing wrong? Why did it take her so long?
I got into my head – and I might be wrong since I’m certainly not an expert – that I should be careful about saying “NO” to her. I saved it for special occasions when she was doing something especially bad or potentially harmful to her health and safety. It was easy during her first year, since she wasn’t very mobile and, although curious, I was careful about keeping her somewhere without a lot of temptation. Once she learned to crawl and later walk – which quickly morphed into a waddling run – it became harder. I couldn’t just move something out of her reach if I didn’t want her playing with it. I wasn’t able to always be within two feet of her to prevent catastrophe. I stopped being able to say, “Let’s not do that,” and moving her to a new location.
This last few months have seen a dramatic increase in NO! She wants to stick her head in the kitty litter box – frequently when it is occupied – or play with the sand that has trailed onto the floor around it. (Honestly, she used to pay zero attention to that box and now it is suddenly the most interesting thing ever.) She wants to pull on the oven door, slamming it open and closed. (We have yet to find a way to baby proof it that actually works.) There has been a lot of NO! going on lately.
Until now, she was an avid head shaker. If she didn’t like whatever meal I had cooked for her, she would shake her little head vigorously and turn away. If I tried to put her coat on her and she wasn’t in the mood, brain rattling. And then suddenly, she figured out that head shaking and stringing those two letters together N-O were the same thing.
I don’t remember why she first said it – I was still in a sleepy haze and Brian was tending to her – but I do remember the second time. I was on the phone with my mother and she was playing on the floor in the bedroom. She was happily peaking out between the curtains and chattering at the outside world. Then suddenly, she was in the bathroom – I neglected to close the door that separates it from our room – and was jiggling the lever on the toilet. I tried my usual attempts of distraction but was instead treated with, “NononononoNO!” Oh. Dear. Lord. She is really adorable in her nay-saying right now but I imagine it’s cuteness will not be lasting long.
I spend a lot of weeks overwhelmed by mommy guilt. I torture myself questioning my abilities. Is she learning fast enough? Shouldn’t she be sleeping better? Am I feeding her the right things? Enough? Endless questions and no good answers. I’m not much for parenting manuals* – I stopped reading Your Baby’s First Year after month three or four – and rely only on the occasional direction from the doctor and my own instincts. Oh fine, I also use the almighty Google. Highest on the list of my concerns is her speech.
It all started at her one-year check-up. We were being quizzed by our substitute pediatrician – our regular one was one maternity leave – about what words she was saying. At that point, she had really only mastered Mama and Dada and even those she didn’t always use correctly. The doctor wanted to know if she was using any sort of signs to indicate her wants. Things like up and more. For the most part, our answer was no. That wasn’t to say that Lorelei wasn’t interested or engaged in the world around her. She looked at things and pointed and gibbered. She seemed to understand a few things, cat and duck were two examples. We could ask her to point to something and frequently she would get it right. But no, she wasn’t doing a whole lot talking. At least, not understandable talking.
I tried really hard not to get too concerned. The occasional new word would emerge – we now have color, tree, car added to her repertoire – but there hasn’t been a big jump in her vocabulary. She understands more, too. She knows what bath means and your bedroom. Still not a lot of talking.
I have now reached CODE RED FREAKING OUT!
It does not help that I just finished reading NurtureShock** (really fascinating, I would highly recommend it) and there is an entire chapter entitled “Why Hannah Talks and Alyssa Doesn’t.” Oh, fuck. It was filled with all sorts of research studies that made me question whether I had really been doing it right.
One of the biggest ways to help language development, especially when babies are under a year old, is to respond to there babbles, either by repeating the “word” back to them or saying something like “Is that so?” I wonder if I spent enough time doing that. Or was I too wrapped up in my depression to fully engage and give her the tools to learn. It all comes back to mommy guilt.
Of course, the book also says that kids can catch up and early language development doesn’t guarantee anything. I don’t want her to have to play catch up, though. I want to hear and understand what she is saying to me. She babbles all the time and I know (sap alert!) that she is going to have lots of really important things to say in her life. From now on, I am going to be there and be better and help her find her voice.
*I’m talking about the week-by-week fare.
**This doesn’t count.
When we’re having one of those days – one of the no-napping, want to rip my hair out of my scalp days – I have to remind myself that I got really lucky with Lorelei. She behaves so well in public (*knock on wood*) barring the occasional OH-EM-GEE-HOW-DARE-YOU-TAKE-AWAY-THAT-ICED-COFFEE-I-WAS-TRYING-TO-DRINK-induced tantrum. Case in point, this weekend. My dear friend Julie got married and with one thing and another we went from event to event starting Friday at lunch and ending with brunch on Sunday. Phew. First up: Lunch at the Whittemore House (super classy).
Lorelei was in a less than stellar mood – probably still mad at me about the vaccinations she got the day before – so she spent most of the luncheon (makes it even classier when I call it that) hanging out with her father and having a picnic lunch. She did, however, crash the dessert portion of the meal and eat most of my raspberry sorbet. Other than general crankitude when I didn’t give her a bite of my food fast enough (OH MY GOD WOMAN I SAID I WANTED THAT SORBET NOW!), she was an angel.Event #2: Rehearsal…
…quickly followed by event #3: Rehearsal Dinner!
During the rehearsal itself, she colored and ran between the pews. During dinner, she played with beads.
There. We made it through Friday.
Saturday did not go so well. The ceremony started at an awkward time nap wise and so, after only a short doze, we had to wake her and get her ready to go. To say that she was unhappy would be a HUGE understatement. She screamed while I put her dress on. She screamed while I put her coat on. She screamed while I was holding her. She screamed and screamed until finally I gave in and gave her a pacifier.
(We’ve been trying to only let her have it during naps and at bedtime. She’s not super attached to it, thank goodness, but I want to start the weaning process NOW! before she can talk back. What? Does that make me a bad mother?)
Anywho. Where was I? So, the pacifier calmed her down enough that we managed to get her and the three bags of stuff – her bag, camera bag and my purse – bundled into the car. We made it to the country club just before the bridal party was due to leave for the ceremony and we dropped her off with two lovely ladies who were looking after her and one other baby. I hitched a ride with the bride and bridesmaids and Brian stayed behind for a bit to calm her down.
I was blissfully unaware of the histrionics that were going down. Instead, I had this:
(Sorry, everyone! I didn’t get any pictures from the ceremony itself.)
So, when Brian left, she was still crying and carrying on like she thought we were NEVER! COMING! BACK! Which I suppose, to her, seemed very likely. One of the advantages (disadvantages?) to being at home with her all the time is that she is cautious around strangers. We’ve left her with babysitters before, but they have all been friends of ours and people that she has at least spent a little time with. And, at least recently, it’s been at home.
After the ceremony – which was lovely and yeah I misted up a little during the vows – we went directly back to the club and checked on her. She was okay-ish but happy to see us (me, especially and I bet you can guess why) and so she spent a little bit of the pre-reception time running around while pictures were taken. I mostly chased her and stood awkwardly in the corner.
After a couple hours of exploring the country club – Brian helped her climb upstairs! – and talking to her reflection and winning over the staff with her extreme adorableness, it was time to return her to her holding pen the babysitters so that mommy and daddy could enjoy themselves…
…at least until dinner time.
She crashed for another nap while she was downstairs, so she was ready to party.
(She will later be embarrassed by how spazzily I dance sometimes.)
(I swear I’m not naked, this picture just makes it look that way.)
It was a really great weekend. We were all exhausted afterwards but I don’t know that there was a single thing that could have made it better.
Congratulations, you crazy kids!