Saturday, September 21, 2013

"Tally teepin?" "Yes, Sally is still sleeping."

Today is Sally's one month birthday. She slept through it. Pretty much all of it. A good deal of that sleeping was outside in her stroller, so I'm counting that as a birthday adventure.  Mostly, though, she slept and woke up occasionally with a cheerful stretch, yawn, and smile as if to say, "Oh, hello! Nice to see you. Nursing? Yes, please. Nom nom nom. ZZzzzzzzzzz."

Tonight might be a little rough. This blog post is going to have to be short.

Anyway, we didn't put a candle into anything or sing or take pictures with something to show her size or a special shirt decal or any of the things you're supposed to do (but which I suspect are much more commonly done for first born children than for subsequent children) ... and I felt like a failure until I realized that the 21st isn't over ... I could still take a picture!

1-month-old Sally pictured, as Walt would say, "Teepin."
It's not a great picture.  It's pretty grainy from the low light.  But it is Sally, at one month old. And it got me thinking: this could be our new tradition, a tradition especially for Sally.  I will take a picture of her every month on her birthday ... asleep.  Then, when she's one year old, I can take the sleeping picture once a year on her birthday. As she gets older I imagine this will get more difficult. But it could be kind of awesome, like this Russian photographer who snuck (with permission) into the bedrooms of couples expecting a child, set up a ladder, and took pictures of them sleeping. An artistic commentary on the beauty and banality of everyday life.

Perhaps. But next weekend when Umma and Baba visit we are going to arrange for a cake, a candle, and some singing.  We believe in extended birthday celebrations, anyway.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The low point

We've reached what I'm going to call the low point. Claiming a low point is a hopeful, optimistic thing, because it means you think that things are about to get better. And I do.

This happened at exactly this point with Walter, too, right around the 4 week/one month mark. (Documented here.) It must be a thing.  The thing this time around, in brief: I have bronchitis; Sally and Walter seem to be catching it, too; Sean's had to work from home the past couple of days because I've been so sick, but that's not sustainable; so tomorrow it's probably a feverish, coughing Mama and her sweet, coughing, somewhat cranky baby in the house. Yo.

Also, moments after we got home from our visit to Umma and Baba's house, Walter (who, to be fair, was up way past his bedtime and exhausted from the long ride home) grabbed at Sally's face and inadvertabtly scratched her on her cheek. It was a teeny tiny scratch, but it bled a lot. Sean immediately put Walter in his room for a time out and I worked on getting Sally out of her carseat, getting a clean wet washcloth and applying some gentle pressure to stop the bleeding. I make it sound like we were a calm, collected, parenting machine, and we kind of were, but we were also kind of terrified by the whole thing.  I kept repeating to Sally, "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry" and Sean kept repeating to me "What am I going to say to him? What am I going to say?" While we panicked verbally we acted efficiently: Sean got the Neosporin and I got to nursing, which is all Sally was interested in, anyway. (Sally: "What are you two mumbling about? I haven't nursed in almost 4 hours! I'M HUNGRY! STOP MESSING WITH MY FACE!")

Sean went in to talk with Walter, and the conversation was good and heartening in some ways and frustrating in others, because even our brilliant, unusually empathetic, kindhearted boy has some developmental limits to what he can understand at this point. And there are limits to his self control, even though, for his age, his self control is very good. For every 100 or so perfectly gentle kisses and hugs there seems to be one incident of being too rough.

What can we do? (Seriously ... I'm asking ... What can we do?!?) I think we'll keep doing what we're doing: making sure to give Walter lots of positive attention for all the good things he does, making sure he gets time with each of us everyday without Sally right there, making sure he keeps his routines and some sense of normalcy and also gets to do fun, active things with us.  And we practically overwhelm him with love, too: unconditional and abundant and clearly communicated as can be.

For the vast majority of the time, that's working out really well. And it's apparent in Walter, whose mood is generally good, whose capacity for joy is greater than ever, and who is progressing in his verbal and comprehension skills in ways that are, frankly, mind-blowing.  And he dances! Oh, how he dances. And he loves his family, including "Baby Tally," and lets us know in countless sweet, wonderful ways.

Still, I can't help but reflect on the fact that "first injury caused by sibling" is a milestone I didn't have growing up, and that I wish Sally and Walter didn't have to have, either. I don't want them to be only children.  I just want them to never, never hurt each other. Or anyone else. Ever. Is that too much to ask?

It is. I was an only child; I don't get into many fistfights. But I hurt plenty of people, and got hurt plenty, too. And I was a brilliant, unusually empathetic, kind-hearted kid.

And that's not even taking into account the many bumps, bruises and mishaps that come our way via completely well-meaning hands.  The morning after the scratch incident I was giving Sally her Vitamin D and mis-aimed the dropper, sending it straight down the wrong tube and initiating a fairly terrifying coughing fit. As I called the pediatrician ("Don't worry about it; she's fine.") I reflected that while I'm worried about protecting my infant from my toddler I might also worry about protecting her from me. And those awful liquid vitamins. I'm still working up the courage to try them again.

I don't know if Walter meant well when he scratched Sally (he might have been trying to gently tickle her) or if he meant ill, or if he didn't mean anything by it at all (this last one seems the most likely.)  I do know that my hope is that, when my kids get hurt, they know that they're still safe.  And I hope that, when my kids hurt each other or other kids, they know that they can and should do better than that. And that they're still safe, too ... secure in our love and God's love most of all.

Anyway ... it's been a rough couple of days, and I'm calling it: Low. Point. We're starting the upswing tomorrow, I can feel it.  Here's some recent evidence I've collected:

Walter: Umma is?
Sean: At Umma and Baba's house.
Walter: Baba is?
Sean: At Umma and Baba's house.
Walter: Hankee is?
Sean: At Umma and Baba's house.
Walter: Walter is?
Sean: Where is Walter?
Walter (dramatic flourish): Right here!

Also:  God Bless prayers tonight included "bugs" and "Mama's car." Sean sang the Fozzie casino song from The Muppets and Walter did the back up vocals, including "not RV's" and "no marriage certificate is needed."

When Sean fell asleep in the middle of praying with Walter, Walter pointed it out, and Sean said: "I'm pretty sleepy." Walter said, "I'm pretty sleepy, too" and laid his head down next to his Dad's. 

At the moment that I am writing this, Sean is using an over-sized beach towel as a burp rag, which is not a great thing (it means Sally is spitting up a lot tonight) but it is a very, very funny thing to see.

I just took another dose of Mucinex. 

Things are looking up.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Fresh Air

Baba had been pestering and pestering me to take Sally outside; I was sure it was too hot, but, being a dutiful daughter, I finally relented and decided to try sitting out on the glider for a few minutes.  Sally was awake, alert, and chill. Baba was right: it wasn't too hot, and there was a nice breeze.  We sat in the shade on the glider, listening to the marsh insects hum and feeling the wind in our hair. After a nice long time of low key interaction with Mama, Sally started giving hopeful motions with her tongue, as if saying, "What a lovely opportunity to nurse al fresco!" So we did, discretely tucked behind the screen of Umma's herb garden and the welcome fact of no traffic on the street out front. Hank pestered Baba until he finally relented and brought Hank outside to sit with us.  Hank relaxed enough to lie down for awhile but mostly guarded us with noble courage.  We three sat quietly, enjoying the moment.

Thank you, God, for moments like this! (And thank you, Baba, for the pestering. =).)

Saturday, September 7, 2013


Today Walter asked me to attached Sally's welcome home balloon to a small toy lion.  I did this by clipping the balloon to the lion's mane and he was delighted. "Nice, Mama!" Walter said warmly, "Thank you, Mama! Yay, Mama!"

It's kind of fun to hear all the affirmation we give him come back to us. I like being affirmed, too.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Two week check up

I had my two week check up with Dr. M. today.  It was about 5 minutes long.  He was super pleased with my incision: "Wow! What a great incision! Who's your surgeon ... ah, yes ... me." Classic Dr. M. He sent me home with basic instructions: still no lifting, careful with driving, bleeding will continue but should be slowing down, enjoy that baby.

At two weeks old, Sally is quite enjoyable indeed. She no longer skootches into her little bug spot on my chest, preferring instead to throw herself to the side and edge out as far as she can without falling, stretching out to her full (still rather slight) height.  Tonight I talked her into the spot on my chest, though, because it's good for blogging.

She's still our little bug, but she's spending less time scrunched up and sleeping and more time alert and awake and taking in the world around her.  She continues to be quite good natured and easy going, very easy to soothe and seemingly very pleased with life.  I reminded Baba that I was that way for my first two weeks, too, so we're not out of the woods yet.  But we are definitely enjoying this time.

Sally spends her day being held and at night she sleeps, swaddled, in her bassinet between feedings.  She has a "long" stretch of sleep each night, about 4-5 hours, and other than that keeps to a pretty standard every 3 hour eating schedule.  She's a pretty efficient eater, so nursing doesn't take too long, but I tend to let her stay on longer than is strictly necessary, because it's a nice time for both of us.  The nursing is going well, mostly.  Haven't needed to pump, which is nice, and haven't needed to dropper feed her, either, this week.  It just takes a couple tries to get started, still.  There's nothing as funny and as frustrating as the way she eagerly cranes her little neck, mouth open beautifully wide, tongue out ... in entirely the wrong direction.  Walter did it, too, so I'm starting to think I am unknowingly throwing my scent, like a milky ventriloquist of pheromones.  I'd say we're not quite ready to take this show on the road, except we have done just that several times and she's nursed perfectly in all less-than-ideal situations (the doctor's office, during our newborn photo shoot, etc.)  So, who knows.  It'll probably get better as her neck control improves, or she'll just get stronger and better at resisting my gentle prods and nudges.

Some observations of Sally, 2 Weeks Old:

**She still looks a little jaundiced to me, but she's clearly getting better.
**No serious baby acne, yet, just a few little pimples here and there. No sign of cradle cap, either. (All in good time?)
**She makes fantastic squeaks, snorts, sighs and other extremely expressive, communicative noises.  I never have any doubt as to what she's feeling at any given moment.  It's amazing. My favorite is the series of stretching sounds she makes when I pick her up to burp her after nursing, combined with the funny, lip-puckered, eyebrows up face she makes at that time, too.  Her facial expressions continue to be very informative, as well, and she's even done some smiling while she's awake (in addition to the smiling she's been doing all along while asleep.)
**She's essentially self-burping.  Convenient! Unless she's asleep.
**Even though she's not super scrunched up and heat-seeking anymore, Sally is still very snuggly, and seems to actively cuddle us when we cuddle her.

Writing it out like this makes me realize that, at this age, there's not a whole lot to report ... and yet, I find I'm pretty fascinated by our Sally bug. A baby of substance and character, surely. And fun to be with.

Walter is also fun to be with, although this has been a tough week in a series of tough weeks for him.  He and Dada have been having especially good bedtime bonding time together. He seems glad when I'm up and about and interacting in a more active way with him, and worried and scared any time it becomes clear that I still "have an owie."  We are doing our best to put his mind at ease, and today he seemed less exhausted and more happy Walter-like again.

These days, Walter:

**Enjoys praying at the dinner table, but still isn't a huge fan of saying the Lord's Prayer at bedtime.  He does a good job listing people for the "God bless" prayer. He loves singing the "Amen" song.
**Is very sweet about everything related to Baby Sally, but draws the line at sharing his potty.  "No, no Baby Sally," he says very seriously to the sleeping newborn on my shoulder. "MY potty." We all agree that this is a reasonable thing for him not to share.
**Has an ongoing obsession with chocolate milk. Only two months until he's allowed to get it at day care! The wait must seem endless to a toddler. We allow an occasional chocolate milk on the weekends, and he's learned to associate weekends and chocolate milk, as well as Umma and Baba and chocolate milk, so he knows when to ask and who to ask, as well.

Remember what I wrote about Sally being easy to soothe?  Why do I write things like that down? Sean's been breaking out more and more of the "happiest baby" techniques as I write this.  I'd better see if I can help.

*Update* Sean changed her into a better swaddler and she immediately calmed down.  Eerie.  After a very short nursing to help with her parched-from-yelling throat, Sally is fast asleep. And I will be soon, too!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Singing family

Walter is doing OK these days ... still a little tired, a little fragile.  But he's singing all the time, which means he's his normal self, and able to have good and happy times in the midst of all this change.

Tonight I joined Walter and Sean for a story while Baba held Sally.  She was a little fussy ... she's just now started spending more time awake, and some of that awake time is fussy time. From Walter's room we heard loud crying and then ... silence.

Baba had gotten up from the rocker in the living room and taken Sally into the kitchen to listen to us reading and singing together.  When Sally heard us singing, she calmed down and went to sleep.

I think she's going to fit in just fine.