Saturday, July 27, 2013

What am I missing?

Trying to come up with a good to-do list to get us focused and moving on Project: Welcome Home Sally.  What am I missing?

Pack hospital suitcase

  • going home clothes for Mama
  • nightie for Mama
  • going home clothes for Sally (newborn and 0-3 mos)
  • make up bag 
  • toilettry bag: tooth brushes, tooth paste, moisturizer, face soap, lip goop, shampoo, mouthwash, hair brush
  • Present from Sally to Walter, wrapped
  • Present from Walter to Sally, wrapped (Baba bring this when he brings Walter to the hospital, let Walter carry it and give it to Sally)
  • Snacks for Dada and Umma/Baba/Walter
  • Some kind of snack to share with nurses and other staff (festive M & M's?)
  • Sean's "It's Time!" hat
  • Werther's hard candy 
  • Camera with lots of room on cards and charged batteries
  • cell phone chargers
  • two jammies
  • two outfits
  • diapers, travel wipes
  • soft toy to sleep with
  • sippy cup
  • toy to play with
  • new toothbrush
  • book or two

Get car seat and bases ready to install.  Install now?  Can Hank ride in back back of little car if we clean it out and keep it clean for him, with blankie?

Put together the double stroller

Get bassinet ready

Bouncer and swing ready to go

Gather and sanitize all binkies and eye droppers

Get pack n' play ready (find homes for Walter toys in pack n' play.  Sort Walter toys?

Sort and wash and put away Sally clothes, newborn to 6 months

Get bed linens, receiving blankets, burp clothes ready and in cubbies downstairs 

Buy diapers: newborns through size 2


Nursing supplies clean and ready to go: pump and all accessories, manual pump, nursing pads, boppy pillow and covers, new nursing cover washed and ready (need more than one?)

Giant pads for Mama recovery, pads for floor and bed (still have some)

Thoroughly clean Walter's high chair

Clean out fridge and freezer

Restock freezer with spag pie and other easy-to-heat casseroles

Make banana bread, freeze

Make hearty cookies (banana chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin,) freeze

Get pew, kitchen counters, entry way, living room, bookshelves and other surfaces as clean and organized as possible

Learn how to use a baby carrier or two. Try Ergo Baby?

Embroidery project for Sally's room. 

Thank you cards and stamps purchased, written, addressed, ready to go when we get the first pictures printed

Update announcement email list

Emergency #'s ready: R's for Hank, K's and A's for Walter pick up (logistics: day care pick up authorized? car seat?)

Walter overnight bag packed and ready to go

Friday, July 26, 2013


Two separate posts, loosely connected by the number 21 and the celebration birthdays:

August 21, 2013
This date is very likely to be Sally's birthday.  It's strange to know that, and also to know that we don't really know it for sure, because she could certainly be born before then.  If I'd had some say in it (I did not) I might have chosen the 22nd, for symmetry's sake, or the 24th, because the number 8/24 is kind of mathematically neat and easy to remember. 21 is a number I was relieved to avoid when Walter was born, because having 21 for a golden birthday seems to be asking for trouble. However, remembering how Sean and I spent our 21st birthdays, I have hope.  In both cases, we celebrated together, and both occurred during the excruciating pre-courtship phase of our courtship when we were very much in love and very much trying not to be.  Neither birthday involved drinking to excess and both involved a lot of frustrated longing.  Sally (and Walter, for that matter) all I wish for your 21st birthday is that you be similarly sober and chaste.  It's really not too much to ask.

Mama and Dada at 21 years old. Gaze upon our wholesomeness*, children, and take notes. *I would invite any friends from college or thereafter who have a different recollection of the wholesomeness of Sean and myself to refrain from comment at this time.  
Having a date on the calendar that could very well be Sally's birthdate makes me giddy and anxious.  Some of the anxiety is not particularly peculiar to the planned c-section situation ... I know I was worried at this point with Walter about being so close to my due date and not being ready for his arrival.  I do wonder how the surgery part is going to go, this time ... will they have trouble getting the IV in, like last time (5 tries and then a terrible placement in my forearm.)  Will the catheter cause trouble and lead to another infection?  With Walter, the epidural went so well ... will the spinal block go as smoothly?  Will I throw up again on the operating table, will my mom be allowed to come in and hold my hand when Sean goes to be with Sally, will my blood pressure drop and my kidney start to fail, will Sally and I do well with our first attempt at nursing ... lots of questions.  And that's not even getting into the dark-night-of-the-soul questions, and all the worries that keep me up and keep me holding my breath between every discernible baby movement.

The possibility of Sally arriving early is more worrisome this time because my last day at work is scheduled to be August 18.  Taking off three weeks before Walter's due date (and then waiting around for another week after that because he was late) was good in some ways: I really wasn't healthy enough to work and needed to rest with my feet up.  Also, I signed up for a free month's subscription to Amazon Prime and watched the entire run of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.  Time well spent.  But I couldn't help but feel that precious maternity leave time could have been better spent actually with my newborn baby.  By working right up until her arrival, I get a full nine weeks at home with Sally; with Walter, it was only five weeks. And I am healthier this time, and able to work, and working takes my mind off my heartburn and my various other aches and pains.

I am starting to feel, though, very much like a turtle stuck on her back in the middle of a busy highway: my stubby, useless legs flailing with effort and totally helpless.  This afternoon Sean very gently reminded me that, if I want/need help, it's best to ask for it directly.  That's usually my policy, and I'm usually quite good at it.  But I need help with everything these days.  And I think everyone in a position of overwhelming need reaches a point where it's like, OK, maybe I'll just lie here on my back for a little while.  It's not so bad.

I was lying around feeling like a martyred turtle today when Alan and Mindi from Sunflower Studio posted some pictures on facebook from our recent baby-bump-centric family photo shoot.  Like we did for Walter, we plan on taking Sally in to have professional photos taken at regular intervals throughout her first year, and collect the best of these in a beautiful book for her. Each photoshoot will include silhouettes, like the one I've posted here, except in the rest of them Sally will be on the outside of my belly.

I needed to see this picture today.  I think I look incredibly proud and strong. My funny Jeffersonian facial profile even looks rather beautiful, and the profile of my body, and the way I'm carrying Sally, looks very beautiful to me indeed.

I'm at odds with my body these days, there's no denying it.  My body is tired and achey and does not want to move, lie down, stand up or sit still.  My body is a big, contrary mess.  And it is beautiful.

Being a woman and having a body is interesting, whether you're pregnant or not.  I hope my delight in my body, and my delight in being a woman, helps both my children as they figure out what it means to be embodied.

The 21st of August seems like tomorrow and like it's ages and ages away.  I can't wait to meet my Sally (but as I wait, I'll do my best to wait in good spirits, with the persistence and fortitude of a mama turtle on a mission, on her feet.)
21 Months Old
Walter turned 21 months old this week. I remember learning Sally's due date and doing the math and thinking, "Wow, Walter will be 22 months old when his sister is born. Almost two!" and I couldn't imagine it. At 21 months old, Walter is demanding and delightful.  Last night we told him it was 5 minutes to jammie time, and he said, "No! 10 minutes, jammie time." Being so smart is key to successful negotiations with one's parents. Last time we went to a restaurant, the waitress came and he ordered pancakes for himself. It's just ridiculous how grown up he is, how much he understands about the world, and how well he's able to communicate with us.

Occasionally he launches into a wordless whine, and sometimes he does use his words but we have no idea what he's saying, but most of the time he's quite verbal and adept.  He's quite gentle and very affectionate.  He's not great about eating fruits and vegetables but is a pretty good eater on the whole.  His favorite foods are hot dogs and pizza, which is an easy preference to relate to. At day care they're putting him on the potty when they change his diapers to start introducing him to the idea, but we haven't done any training yet at home.  Walter loves brightly colored socks and his bright orange hat.  He's pretty good at brushing his teeth. He is healthy and, other than two ear infections before the tube surgery, has been healthy all summer.  Walter is risk averse: he loves playing outside at the park, and wants to go down the slides, but usually decides not to once he's up there. He loves playing in water and in sand.  He loves playing dress up.  He loves trains, trucks and farm animals.  He loves watching Sesame Street and Muppet videos on YouTube and gets really, really upset when we eventually put an end to the video watching.  We try to give him lots of warning anytime there's going to be a transition from one activity to another, and try to keep to a routine, and that seems to help with a lot of the toddler-ness.

Sleep is still hit or miss with Walter.  Last night he had a bad case of baby insomnia starting around 2:30 am.  I wasn't sleeping well, either, so I crawled into bed with him.  He rested quietly next to me for a long time, occasionally lifting his head and opening his eyes and saying "Hi, Mama!"  When he got more and more awake and chatty, I knew I had to leave him and let him make his way back to sleep on his own.  But I love and treasure that kind of time with Walter ... listening to his little voice and following the sleepy train of his thoughts from "Where's Dada?" to "Can I have my Burt and Ernie finger puppets?" to "I like taking communion. 'Dip it in!' *giggle giggle*"

Here's to 21 months, Walter Paul!  Daddy and I are so proud of you.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

*pat pat pat*

Yesterday was rough.  I was not feeling good, not feeling good at all.  I've considered many possible explanations but I think the most likely one is that I'm pregnant.

I got home from work, put on jammies and climbed into bed. I got up when Walter and Sean came home and Walter asked for "uppaday."  I picked him up and he gave me the biggest, nicest hug, complete with his signature sweet pats on the back.  Then he pulled away, reached down with his hand, and gave my belly a couple pats, too.

Sally, I think your big brother loves you very much already.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Sweet Blessings

Walter, always at his most distracted at bedtime, introduced the following bit of improvisation into the Lord's Prayer tonight, perhaps inspired by Martin Luther's discourse from the Small Catechism on all that "our daily bread" encompasses: "For thine is the syrup, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaamen."

Sunday, July 21, 2013

MICE communion!

Walter is super possessive, I think moreso than his peers.  He's really into saying "My turn!" these days, which tends to mean "This and every other toy is mine and my turn is infinitely long."

He also says "mine" but he's been mis-pronouncing it.  And so he ends up saying very sternly, seriously and certainly: "MICE!"

Walter is often very little and very grown up in the same moment. So far, Sean and I have been very successful at not laughing during these moments.

In other news, Walter now says "peanut butter" instead of "bilily" and "chicken" instead of "bawk bawk."  I'm impressed and wistful at the same time.

This is my very-buried-lead way of saying that Walter took communion for the first time today, and I was impressed and wistful at the same time, and he was so little and so grown up in the same moment, and most of all I just couldn't contain all the joy of sharing this beautiful gift from God with my son. As I cried through everything after communion and practically sprinted to the back of the church to get my big post-worship hug from Walter, one of our dear friends and congregation members said, "Your cup is overflowing." Amen. Alleluia! (Or, as Walter says, "A-min! Allelula!")

Sean carried Walter up for communion. Umma went first to show him how to do it. I handed Walter a wafer and expected him to eat it right away.  Instead he asked, "Dip it in?" We'd been debating in the van on the way to church whether or not Walter would be able to handle intinction.  In fact, Baba had said, "Is he going to D-I-P the the wafer in?" and from the back of the van Walter said, "DIP!" We maybe need to start coming up with strategies other than spelling.

So, Walter, who had been paying attention in the van and who has probably been paying attention to communion for a very long time (in Walter time) before this day, looked up at me and said, "Dip it in?" And I said, "Yes, you can dip it in. Daddy will show you how."  He watched Daddy dip his wafer in the grape juice and then dipped his own wafer in, of course putting his fingers all the way down into the chalice (*shudder* we'll work on that.) When he brought the wafer out he wasn't sure what to do.  Daddy gently gave his elbow a nudge and made a little Cookie Monster "om nom nom" noise.  Walter ate the wafer, chewing very thoughtfully.

He's brought it up throughout the day today.  "Communion! Dip!" and also, "Communion again? Dip again?" and, memorably, "MICE communion! Please!" He's excited to have it again next week.

I always underestimate what Walter knows and understands, in part because I don't want to overestimate and forget that he's still so little, and still lacking in so much basic life experience. The possessiveness thing for example ... parents of older kids remind me not to be too hard on Walter, because, from a child development perspective, he can't grasp the concept of sharing right now the way he'll be able to a year from now.  The area of what Walter knows and understands and what he doesn't know and understand is still mysterious to me, though, and something I only figure out in bits and glimpses.

The great thing about sacraments (one of the great things about sacraments) is that what Walter does or doesn't understand is irrelevant.  Baptism and communion are gifts from God: tangible, splash-able, taste-able signs of God's love and God's promises. God does the work: God turns water into forgiveness and eternal life, God turns bread and wine into the true presence of Jesus Christ, who IS forgiveness and eternal life. Walter doesn't need to know the finer points of Lutheran theology to receive these gifts (although I hope he has an interest in learning it someday, because I would enjoy sharing that with him, too.)

For the record, I think Walter knows communion is something very special, and that it's a wonderful thing that he gets to share with his family at church.  Today at church he also got to see a long-longed-for baby get baptized, and later he got to be there to celebrate a renewal of marriage vows. He also got tons of attention from the pre-teens and teens who are so sweet with him, living out the promises they made when he was baptized by helping us raise Walter in the faith (mostly by playing peek-a-boo with him. And teaching him how to say "hamburger" and "pickle.")

It was a cup-overflowing kind of day. Amen. Alleluia!

**Edited to Add** I realized shortly after posting this last night that Walter isn't mis-pronouncing "Mine," he's saying "My's." He's figured out that the usual rule in English for making things possessive is adding "-'s" (Mama's, Dada's, Walter's, etc.)  Sean says such over-regularizing of language is common among kids his age. I think it's freaking brilliant.

Friday, July 19, 2013


Those giant "catching up" blog posts are fine and everything, but fail to capture the essence of our everyday life with Walter and Sally.  It's the short, random posts that do the best job of actually documenting our life, I think.

For example ...

  • Walter is currently obsessed with one particular pair of neon purple socks. Every morning he asks for them.  "Purple socks?" We then have to negotiate with him, offering other options, because his purple socks haven't quite made it through the laundry cycle yet. It says a lot about me that my solution to this problem is not to make an extra effort regarding laundry, but to think about ways I might procure more purple socks.
  • I was reading old blog posts, and seeing several references to Paul Simon's "African Skies" reminded me that the "Ta Oomba Oomba" part still works.  It's pretty magical.  Most recently I busted it out in post-op, while the nurse was trying to get through our post-op instructions and Walter was screaming over her, trying to get down and run away. I hugged him to me and sang it quietly in his ear: "ta oomba oomba oomba whoa-oh-oh." He immediately stopped screaming.  He put out his lower lip to let me know he was still sad, but he stopped struggling and leaned into my hug. He remembers it from when he was a newborn, I am certain of it. It's in his veins, just like the song says. 
  • Yesterday was really, really hot.  When Walter got home from day care, he asked us a couple of times to arrange for some rain to fall.  The best was: "Dada! Rain, please." I'm guessing one of his teachers gave him the idea (Walter has been saying "Too hot" these past few days, and I'm thinking his teachers told him that yes, it was too hot, but it would get better soon after it rains.) It rained this morning, and Walter seemed please, but also kind of like, "Well, of course it rained.  I asked for it."  There's a sermon in there about prayer, I'm sure.
  • This probably deserves it's own long blog post, but I'm too emotionally confused about it right now to write at length: Sally's c-section is scheduled for Wednesday, August 21, at 7:00 am (check in at 5:30 am ... now that's a good surgery time.) Like I said, I need to sort out some of my thoughts and feelings about this one. My main thought at the moment is that we should probably not just assume that the 21st will be her arrival date: the hospital bag still needs to be packed and ready to go. My other thought at this very moment is that Sally's movements are the nicest thing in the world on this quiet Sabbath morning ... very gentle, but persistent (and, as I typed this, maybe slightly less gentle around the area of my ribs.)
  • Today, in addition to Sally/Mama time, I'm also expecting the delivery of a hospital bed.  We were able to borrow one last time but that bed is in use by its owner, so Dr. M. ordered one for me to help with the current acid reflux and the post-surgical recovery to come.  I'm hoping it helps with my sleep, which has been pretty bad lately.  
Having said that, I'm going to try for a little sleep right now.  I know most of my posts lately have ended that way, but I'm too tired to think of something more creative.  And as far as documenting our real lives go, Mama's constant quest for sleep is a pretty real thing to depict. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Tubes Part II: The Re-Tubening

In late April or so, the tube in Walter's left ear made a break for it. This is completely normal and expected--ear tubes often fall out after about 9 months in the ear. What stunk about this particular de-tubing was that, as soon as it came out, Walter immediately got a bad ear infection.  Also, the tube in his right ear stayed put and was draining perfectly.  That made the decision of what to do next a little trickier, because ideally you have one surgery to replace both tubes, rather than two surgeries to replace the tubes one at a time (or no replacement at all, if the Eustachian tube has straightened out enough to drain on its own.)

We weren't very pleased with the Ear, Nose and Throat experience at our local clinic (the doctor who forgot to show up for Walter's first tube surgery retired, and the doctor who prescribed the never-used-on-kids antibiotic after that surgery that Walter had an allergic reaction to wasn't really an option we were excited about.) So we decided to try the only pediatric ENT in our area, even though it was an hour drive and it's harder to get an appointment with her.  She's totally worth it.  Dr. S. immediately shot up into the pantheon of doctors beloved by Walter, formerly only populated by Walter's pediatrician Dr. L. and Dr. Coconut, Walter's macaw puppet.  When his ears hurt, Walter immediately asks to see Dr. S., and is very relieved and pleased when we tell him he's got an appointment.  He trusts her to make things better.  We do, too.

Dr. S's first recommendation was to wait on replacing the tube in the left ear.  Warmer weather usually means fewer colds, and fewer colds fewer opportunities for ear infections.  The longer we held out, the more likely it was that we could do both tubes at once if needed (or decide we didn't need them anymore, at all.) When he saw her, Walt's ear infection had gotten better, so we were hopeful.  And Walt was healthy ...

... for less than a week.  Then another ear infection hit--again, just the left, non-draining ear.  Dr. L.the pediatrician was not amused.  "You've got to go back to Dr. S. and get the tube back in," he said.  Dr. L. usually leaves more room for discussion than that, so I knew he really meant it.  He put Walter on what ended up being a 20 day course of Augmentin (we'd just finished a 10 day course less than a week before that, too.) Augmentin is the least tasty, most awful-smelling, most effective oral antibiotic we've used with Walter. We eventually developed a really good medicine giving and taking routine: Dada gives Walter a hug (holds his arms down) while Mama gives Walter the medicine in a syringe.  Then, Walter gets a glass of milk and a small cookie. With medicine twice a day every day for 30 days, we went through a lot of milk and cookies, and Walter got very, very good at taking his medicine.

And, with the help and blessing of Dr.'s L. and S., we set a date for surgery to replace the tube in the left ear.  When he finished his Augmentin, Walter was so healthy we wondered again if we were doing the right thing.  Then we realized he'd only been healthy for two weeks, and that our perspective on what constitutes a "healthy stretch" has gotten a little skewed. Dr. L. and Dr. S. agreed: it was time.

On Monday I got the call that Walt's surgery had been scheduled.  As we expected, it was today (Wednesday the 17th of June.) Unexpected, though, was the time ... check in at 10 am, surgery at 11. No food after midnight on Tuesday.  One cup of clear liquid allowed before 8 am on Wednesday, but nothing by mouth at all (not even water) after that.

*Kaboom* went my head as it exploded in a pure mama bear rage.

I didn't express any of this rage to the nice surgery scheduling person on the phone, thankfully.  I kept it together. I did say, pleasantly, "Wow, that's really late.  I thought young children were supposed to be scheduled first thing in the morning?" She reminded me that Dr. S. is a pediatric ENT, and Walt was scheduled as early as he possibly could be ... there were just even younger kids getting surgery ahead of him that morning. I asked about switching the surgery to another, less-busy day, but Dr. S.'s receptionist assured me that 10 am was a good time for a 20 month old in their practice, and that changing the date could result in an even later check in time.  I took a deep breath and took the appointment time as it was, and started making plans for how to get through the morning with a hungry, thirsty Walter.

Walter, as usual, had his own plans.  After a big dinner of his favorite foods (pepperoni pizza from Polito's and ice cream from Dairy Queen) Walt went to bed at about the normal time, woke up crying at 11:45 and drank some water, and then slept until we absolutely had to wake him up to get him in the car and drive to Marshfield. He was actually awake when we went into his bedroom; just chilling out calmly and quietly in his big boy bed.  He's been doing that every morning this week.  It's fantastic.  It was especially fantastic because Sean and I couldn't think of anything we could do to keep him occupied without eating if he'd woken up at his former usual wake up time: 6 am. Take a bath? No, he'd drink the bath water.  Go to the park? No, it's a ridiculously hot day, and he'd get dehydrated and need water. Go grocery shopping? No, he'd get hungry and want cheese from the deli. Play quietly inside at home?  That would work for maybe an hour.  We also thought a stroller ride around the block with Hank might be OK.  Watching TV was our emergency back up plan. But we didn't have to enact any of those plans, because at 8:45 Walt was up and dressed and cheerful and we were out the door and on our way to Marshfield.

On the long drive there, Walter played with one of his "hellos" (in this case, a leap frog music player that was a gift from Aunt Andrea, Uncle Jimmy and Cousin Casey.)  He sang along with the toy and on his own; lots of ABC's, some good counting, some Old MacDonald.  We looked for and spotted many cows, horses, trains and trucks.   I noted that the cows were brown, white and black, and Walter said, "Blue cow?" and then laughed to let us know it was a joke.  We joked about all kinds of unlikely cow colors for awhile. At one point, he asked for water, please. I took a deep breath and explained that none of us could have any water until after we saw Dr. Stone and she fixed his ears. No water or food for Mama, Dada or Walter until after the surgery.  He accepted it immediately and didn't ask about food or water again (until after the surgery.) Walter is amazing.

Walter's Mama, though, can be a little crazy when she's worried about her boy. In the waiting room I got upset because people were eating and drinking in front of Walter (he didn't notice, or noticed and didn't care.)  I nearly bit the hand off a 5 year old boy who tried to steal Walter's Elmo doll out of our diaper bag.  We were in the waiting room for 30 minutes before we could go back for pre-op, and I was sure that meant everything was going to be late and delayed all morning long.  It wasn't.  It just meant Walter got to play and run around for 30 minutes instead of going crazy in a pre-op bay for 30 minutes. The surgery was right on time.

When I heard we were still expecting surgery at 11, I started to calm down a bit, but was still wound pretty tight.  I asked the intake nurse if we could "slip him some C-R-A-C-K" during phase 2 of recovery.  Sean pointed out that we probably shouldn't ever give Walter any C-R-A-C-K. Exasperated, I said, "C-R-A-C-K-E-R-S! I stopped spelling because she knew where I was going with it!"  Then I looked a the nurse and realized she probably hadn't known, and probably was genuinely wondering if I was on C-R-A-C-K and planning to slip some to my toddler in the recovery room.

Right after that, the intake nurse remarked on how good Walter was being.  "He's doing great," I agreed.  "He's doing much better than I am."  Saying it out loud made it real, and immediately I relaxed and regained perspective.

Pre-op is pretty much a parade of people asking the same questions and explaining the same things over and over, which sounds annoying but is really comforting and reassuring before a surgery. We talked to the anesthesiologist and the nurse anesthetist. Dr. S. came in and Walter was thrilled.  A really nice nurse, Nurse K., came in and bonded beautifully with Walter. He talked to her right away, which is pretty unusual for him.  She brought him a bunch of stickers, which he put on himself, on me, on Sean and on Nurse K.  Nurse K.'s patter with Walter during the sticker-giving was based largely on gender stereotypes and almost set my teeth right back on edge. I started writing a protest song in my head titled "Even Though the Baby in my Womb is a Girl, Her Brother Can Give Her A Car Sticker Rather Than a Barbie Sticker (The Shoop Shoop: Stop Your Gender Norming Song.)"  Then I realized that Nurse K. was awesome and in a short time had built actual trust with my son, who was going to need to leave us in the pre-op bay and go by himself to surgery soon.

The plan had been for yet another nurse, Nurse H., to take Walter to the OR, but when the time came to go Walter asked Nurse K. for uppaday and wouldn't let go, so she got a mask on and took him in.  They often give a sedative to kids Walter's age about 15 minutes before surgery so they don't struggle when leaving their parents or while being put on the operating table, but Walter didn't need it.  Dr. S. said he was scared for two breaths and then the general anesthetic kicked in.

Less sedation meant a shorter recovery time, and before I could update my Facebook status the surgery was over and Walter was ready to see us.  Dr. S. reported that the right ear still looked great and healthy, so other than taking out some wax she left it and the tube alone.  The left ear drum was thick (a bad thing,) but with no infection and just a little mucus trapped behind it.  The thick eardrum scared me a bit, but Dr. S. said she found it reassuring: "If the ear had been perfectly healthy, I would have wondered why we were doing the surgery.  It's clear he still needs the tubes."

In recovery Walter was thirsty, hungry, "owie" and a little crabby.  Mostly he wanted us to put him down and let him walk out of the clinic. The post-op nurses discouraged us from letting him do this. But they didn't keep us too long, and on the way out Walter got to ride in a big red wagon and pick out a beanie baby to take home (he chose a very nice little yellow duck, which he told us later belongs to his Ernie doll.) We went straight to Perkins, where Walter drank some chocolate milk and didn't eat very much muffin or pancake, but did enjoy some bacon (way to jump back onto the solids train, Walter!)  By sheer force of will he stayed awake the whole ride home, and once in his bed settled in for a very nice three hour nap. He woke up bright-eyed and a little silly. We went grocery shopping and then home again for chicken taco dinner.  He had good phone and video calls with family, played wonderfully with his Sesame Street puppets and Dr. Coconut, and went to bed with some (short-lived) reluctance and a dose of Advil that we hope will see him through the night.

The first time he got tubes, Walter had a raging double ear infection that continued for months after the surgery.  We were just starting to see the benefits of the tubes when the left one came out.  I'm hopeful that, because his ear was relatively healthy already for this surgery, Walter won't have any ear infections this time. When I go back and read old posts and realize how much of his first year he spent sick, I get pretty sad.  He had a great first year in spite of it, but life is so much better when he's healthy.  So, here's praying and hoping for 9 months (at least) of a healthy-eared Walter Paul!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Way too much for one blog post

Ohmygoodness.  Life is so full of life these days.  And it has been way too hot to spend any time in front of a laptop.  And I am really, really tired.  I know I've said that at other points in this pregnancy, but now I really mean it.  I am so tired it feels like my brain is melting. (I have no idea where Walter gets his flair for drama.  And whining.)

Writing with a melting brain is not easy.  But I'm going to try! (Note: this post was written over the course of two weeks or so.  Short spurts of writing seem to be do-able in spite of the melting brain.)

Our first radio silence fell when we went on vacation.  We spent June 18-25 in Sea Isle City, New Jersey, with the Albrights. It was glorious. Some highlights:
  • We were worried about flying post-weaning and trying to convince Walt that he's still a lap baby (ha!) The flight out went quite well and Walt slept through most of it.  The flight home was a bit of a nightmare, including about a one hour delay on the runway with no air conditioning in blistering heat.  But even that flight had some pretty bright moments, including Walter's excited exclamations of "Airplane! Airplane!" and Walt playing with the 14 month old in the row behind us (peek-a-boo, and many many kisses.)
  • From the moment we arrived, we relaxed.  All of us.  One giant "ahhhhhhhhh."
  • Walter had his first ride on Pop Pop's boat, and it was a great success.
    Go Go Go!
    After some initial nervousness, Walter got into the spirit by loudly encouraging Pop Pop to "Go Go Go!" When the wake rules allowed, Pop Pop would then make the boat go fast. Walter continues to try to get us to repeat this experience on land, usually in the car when we can't go any faster than we're already going.  
  • After some excellent gogogo-ing, we settled in on the boat to enjoy some delicious pulled pork sandwiches ala Grandma.  Walter was the picture of contentment.  Then, he took a bite of sandwhich and fell asleep mid-chew.  Completely awake one moment, completely asleep the next.  We got the bite of sandwich out of his mouth and Walt slept soundly all the way back to the dock. You know your toddler is having a good time when he spontaneously falls asleep. 
  • We went out for dinner at a nice restaurant and I ordered a calamari appetizer.  Walter is usually initially intrigued by new foods,, then when they're close enough to his mouth to smell he has second thoughts.  This new food aversion applies to all new foods, including things like apple pie (you should have seen us trying to get him to eat that pie.  Proud moments in parenting.) On this particular night, Walt must have been really hungry from all the salty air and sun, or the stars were aligned with the tides or something, because he didn't hesitate at all and took a nice big bite of the calamari ring I offered him.
    What toddler doesn't enjoy a nice fried squid?
     He ended up eating most of the calamari himself, including the tentacle-y pieces.  I cried a little bit with pride. 
  • Speaking of crying, I found myself doing just that behind my sunglasses, sitting on the beach, and it had nothing to do with the sunblock in my eyes.  I was watching Walter play frisbee with his dad, his Uncle Matthew and his Aunt Kate. Walter tried a couple of times to throw the frisbee--no success.  So, Aunt Kate would very gently throw it to Walter (not sure how she did it, but the frisbee landed softly right at his feet every time); Walter would pick up the frisbee and run it over to Uncle Matt (have you ever seen a toddler run? It is the greatest thing in the world); Matt would throw it Sean who'd throw it to Kate and then repeat. He had so much fun. Between this game on the beach and a game he and his cousin Ada invented together (she'd make a funny scary face at him, he'd make a funny "I'm scared" face and then laugh) I was awash with good memories of times with my extended family on both sides.  There is nothing quite so wonderful as being given time and attention by cousins and aunts and uncles.
    It is such a gift.  Seeing Walter with all his older cousins (9 of them!) made me especially miss my cousin Jason.  I love watching the videos my dad took of Lisa and Jason playing with me and including me so lovingly when I was about Walter's age. If you're familiar with Edison-Swift family videos, you know I'm talking about The Saga of the Three Bass.
  • Having said all that, you'd think I would be a good parent and take a picture or video or somehow document this beautiful game of frisbee.  
    Cousin Rowan was especially good with Walter.
    I did not.  But Walter-Reading-This-Someday, you should know: you are so loved.  You have all these amazing people who truly care for you and who found ways to make you feel included and special when you were little and couldn't throw a frisbee to save your life.
  • In addition to frisbee, Walter enjoyed digging in the sand with his cousins, sitting in the sand at the edge of the ocean and letting the water rush over his legs with each wave, looking for shells and tasting a few of them, and, most of all, going into the water with Daddy.  He was always a little shy of the water in the beginning, especially the first time.  He planted his feet and wouldn't move for a long time, until we suggested taking a few steps forward and couting the steps out loud.  Walter loves to count these days.  Usually the steps came in groups of 3, 6, or 11 which are his favorite numbers to count to.  Walter also enjoyed it when Sean picked him up and carried him out into the waves, playing a game called "Walter jump!" Sean would hold Walt up and then dip his feet into the wave as it passed.  This game was not particularly easy on Daddy's back, which meant we were pretty good about taking breaks to come back to the beach to visit Mama, get some water, maybe eat some pizza or peanut butter sandwich.  The weather was perfect and Walter didn't want to leave, but he was a trooper and walked home with us each afternoon for a quick shower and a long, lovely nap. 
    Joy on the beach
  • A funny thing happened on the beach.  We were playing in the sand, having a good time, when Walter suddenly got up and, with great purpose, toddler-strode over to a 10 year old boy who was digging a hole and shouted "NO!"  The boy looked at him quizzically, then at us.  We were a little puzzled, too.  We talked to Walter about the beach belonging to everyone, and that kind of talk usually slows him down and makes him think a little bit, but he insisted: No.  This boy could not dig in the sand.  He even found ways to return a few more times to let the boy know he still meant what he'd said earlier. Sharing isn't easy for toddlers (in fact, most of the experts I've read recently say it's impossible for them,) so we weren't surprised by that, just by this particular display of anti-digging fervor. It was one of those moments when you realize that your kid is a person, a person with definite opinions and the means to express them. 
  • One of Walter's strongly held opinions turns out to be that theme park rides should never, ever end. We discovered this at Wonderland Pier, where Walter rode some rides with us (flying elephants, train, carousel) and, for the first time, road some rides all by himself (little boats and fire trucks that go around in a circle.)  We couldn't believe he was ready to ride by himself and were very proud of him and excited to watch him discover this new joy.  He gave some of his characteristic Walter exclamations of happiness, but for most of the rides he appeared introspective ... not scared, not excited, just very content and pleased.  When the ride ended, he was distraught and even did a little kicking mini-tantrum when removed from the vehicle.  When we visited the Cape May Zoo later in the week, Walter was pretty meh about the animals (except the llamas, because of Llama Llama Nighty Night) and really set on riding a rather expensive train around the park grounds.  We rode the train twice, which wasn't nearly enough, but was better than no train. Again, he was very quiet during the rides, maybe trying to soak in the whole train experience as much as possible, maybe steeling himself for the inevitable disappointment of the ride ending ... hard to say.  
  • We ate very well on vacation.  Very well indeed.  I won't go into the details of our gluttony, but will say that the highlight were the two flounder that Pop Pop caught and the 16 crabs that Sean caught and turned into crab cakes.  That, and watching my nieces and nephews (with a little help from Walter) devour a full four pounds of bacon on Sunday morning. Those kids really really like bacon. 
  • Sean and I had a wonderful date night, just the two of us, with dinner at a very nice restaurant followed by ice cream at our favorite ice cream place and mini golf at our favorite mini golf chain (Pirate Island, of course.)
    Before Walt was born, all of our pictures looked exactly like this.
     Sean and I have always particularly enjoyed mini golf at the shore, so getting to do that again was pretty special and romantic in a very Edison-Albrighty kind of way. Also, I won, which was nice.  And there was a big, full orange super moon over the ocean. And maybe some kissing by the light of said moon.  =).
  • One of the benefits of vacationing with extended family, or at least with our wonderful extended families, is that there are lots of great times together as well as opportunities to be alone.  Walter was very well watched and cared for and so I got to spend some time with just me and Sally, paying attention to her and her movements in ways I don't always get to when I'm working or hanging out with Walter on weekends. Getting some good Sally time in every day was wonderful, I and wondered at her increasing strength, size and gymnastic ability.
    Mama and Sally on the beach (more family in background.)
     After seeming much smaller and much less active than Walter for a long time, Sally has caught up in a big way and does all sorts of great rolls, shimmies and bumps. She especially likes to press down on my left hip, in a way that's both disconcerting and delightful to me. 
It was a glorious week. I wish I'd done a better job of documenting it, but I'm hoping all the un-photographed, un-blogged moments will stay with us, at least as general impressions of happiness and fragments of memories that will come back next time we visit. One thought that stuck with me during and after the trip is that spending so much more time with Walter than we do during a normal work week is a very good and very important thing to do.  I think our regular work week routine is good, too.  Walter and Sally will grow up with two well-educated, hard-working parents who care about what they do.  My job, in particular, is very meaningful and fulfilling and I think that's a good model for them to grow up with.  But I'm also very grateful for vacation time, because we get to know each other in a different way when the routine is gone and we get to be with each other for long stretches of non eating, non sleeping hours. 

For example, I realized that I've always made a big deal of Walter's bigness on this blog. Not just his physical size, but his larger-than-life personality, the bigness of his presence. But I don't write much about his quietness, his understated and introspective nature, his sweetness, his patience, his sustained, focused interest in working on a puzzle or gazing thoughtfully out the window. All of that is pretty remarkable, too. And I got to see more of it, and appreciate more of it, during our time together on vacation. 

When we got home from vacation Sean started two weeks of paternity leave (don't ask. Long story. Or do ask, and we'll tell you offline.)  We moved Walter from his crib into his big boy single bed.  The first night went really well.  Too well.  Eerily well. Since then we've had wildly varying levels of sleeping success, including some especially rough nights where Mama or Dada had to climb into bed with Walter in order for any of us to get any sleep at all.  

Adding to the sleep complications has been Walter's reluctance to miss a single second of time spent with the wonderful guests we've hosted the past two weekends.  Precious, beautiful time spent with Ben (Uncle Cuppa,) Arden and Greta and Josh (Uncle Gosh,) Vanessa and Beckett is more than worth a little sleep disruption, and I can't say I blame Walter for wanting to stay awake and make the time together last longer. I did that, too.  We have had so much fun, and again I can't help but overflow a bit with gratitude for the remarkable people in Walter's life. We are so, so blessed. 

With all this excitement, though, one of the greatest blessings came yesterday when Walter took a 3 hour afternoon nap, went to bed nicely at 7:30 pm and had to be woken up to go to day care at 7:45 am.  He went down easy tonight, too, and shows every sign of sleeping long and well.  When I say "tonight," of course, I mean the night I wrote these sentences.  Adding photos and editing and publishing this post will happen on another night.  My melting brain needs sleep! 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Walter has

Today, after I gave Walter a blessing and Sean communion, on their way back to their seats, Walter asked Sean: "Dada has?" ("What does Dada have?")
"Walter eat it?"
"Yeah, do you want to eat it? Let's talk to Mama about it."
So, after church we went to the kitchen where I gave Walter an unconsecrated wafer to try.  We've been wanting to share communion with him since he started eating solids, but I wanted to make sure he wouldn't spit it out. "Do you want to try communion?" "Yes!"  I gave him the wafer and he was delighted. He took it from me and ate it with glee.
As we were about to leave the kitchen, Walter ran back in to the cupboard where I'd gotten the wafer and tried to open it.  "More communion!"he said.
"You'll get more next week, you'll take communion with Dada. Good?"
Very good indeed. =)