Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Not something I can really post on facebook

He probably would have gone right back to sleep if I'd waited.  But his cough sounded so bad, and the cry he gave afterward tugged me right out of bed and down to his room.  "Mama!" he said, and stood up on shaky legs to meet my arms.  Walter is so strong.  He's always been strong, but now he's this little monkey who climbs into our arms, settles into just the right spot and holds on just as tightly as he can.  Yesterday when I picked him up from daycare his teacher said, admiringly, "He is SUCH a good snuggler."  It's true.


Arms wrapped around my neck, legs wrapped around my body, head tucked perfectly just under mine. "Do you want to sit with Mama for a minute." A little nod. We sit in the glider and he stays tightly snuggled against me.  I sing "African Skies" and listen to him breathe.  A little raspy.  Maybe a new cold.  When I finish the song we rock a little while before he pulls away and looks at me, saying and signing "More, more." "More singing?" He nods and settles back into his snuggle spot.  I sing him his lullaby.  Near the end, he starts to kind of sing along. "Ma-ma.  Maaaaa-ma." "Yes, Walter. Mama loves you. I love you, Walter."  He doesn't say "I love you," yet, although sometimes I think he's trying to sound out the words.  He has his own sign for "I love you." He looks at you thoughtfully and pats his hand gently on your chest.  He leaned back and did that to me, then reached up, pointer finger extended. "Nose," he said.  "Yes. Nose."

"Are you ready to go back to bed?" I'd asked him earlier and he'd given a quiet but definitive "No."  It's a word he's quite taken with these days.  This time when I ask he's already kind of leaning toward his crib, looking that direction.  I get him all settled in with his pillow, his bunny and his blanket.  No crying, no protests.  He's such a big boy, now.  He knows sleep is a good thing.

A good thing, indeed. Today was a hard day for Mama, for many reasons.  But this moment makes it entirely different. I'm ready, now, to call it a night, letting the sweetness of this time with my son rock me to sleep.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

I've got everything that I need

Today ended as it began: with a meltdown.  Tired, teething baby.  Wants to be held and hugged. Wants Mama.  Wants to be understood.  Wants liiliiluluuuu. LIIILIILUULUUUUUUU.  WHY DON'T YOU UNDERSTAND? MORE LIIIILIIILULUUUUUUU!

After a short time he calms down.  And then he's extra delighted by simple joys: book. cracker. water. book! Relief fills his little body with a deep sigh and a little shimmy.

Walter's favorite song is Life's a Happy Song, the big dance number from The Muppets. He wants to listen to it or watch that part of the movie pretty much all the time.  Sometimes he takes the DVD cover and gazes at it (tonight, he kissed it,) making up little songs about his favorite characters.  Getting to hear his song makes him, so, so happy.  

The song is written by Bret McKenzie from Flight of the Conchords. I heard an interview with him (I think it was on Fresh Air) where he said he was going for over-the-top, unrealistic optimism, veiling underlying darkness.  Like, "we're all singing about how happy we are, but we're really not."  Terry Gross pointed out that, even at the beginning of the movie, there's not that much conflict, really.  Life pretty much is a happy song.  It's not sarcastic or ironic. It's earnest, which is a characteristic common to Muppets and Edison-Albrights.


Every time we sing that song it feels very true to me.  Walter's favorite part goes "I've/Got/Everything that I neeeeeeeeeeed/Right in front of me./No-thing's/Stopping me/Nothing that I can't be/With you right here next to me."  And I sing it to Walter and look at him and think: yup.

Even when he's just had a giant meltdown.  Even when I've utterly failed to determine what "liiliiluuuuluuuuuuu" might be. Ultimately, life's a happy song when there's someone by your side to sing along.


Sunday, January 13, 2013

Weaning is not the end of the world

Walt's first day home, stoned on milk
Walter is weaned! Since January 4, actually.  That morning we nursed for the last time.  Knowing it was the last time was not as sad as I imagined it would be.  Good latch, good kangaroo time, good hearty burp when he was done (accompanied by equally hearty giggles.)

After Walt's first birthday, I stopped pumping.  As soon as the frozen reserves were gone, he stopped getting bottles at day care.  We'd still nurse as soon as he got home from day care, right before bed, immediately after waking up and right before daycare (more when we traveled and on the weekends.) One day after daycare he asked for a cracker instead of asking to nurse, and that's when we knew it was time.

Even though Walter was technically weaned the last day he nursed, I feel like the weaning process just ended for me yesterday.  Yesterday is when all the lingering pain subsided, and also when the depression lifted.  We weaned so gradually, I thought I would be spared some of the worst physical and psychological effects.  And maybe it could have been worse.  But I was very much reminded of how hard it was when we first started nursing.  In fact, the last days felt very similar to the first days.  And I was amazed, once again, at how something so natural and wonderful could also be so painful and difficult.

And, ultimately, so worthwhile. All of it. Even the weaning. I used to worry about losing our snuggle time, but Walter is more snuggly and affectionate now than ever, and with Sean and me both.  I worried that he would be sad, especially at night. But he loves his new bedtime routine and I can tell he looks forward to each step: brushing his teeth, reading books in the glider, getting a drink of water, turning out the light, being held during the lullaby, lying down in his crib with his pillow, blanket and lamb.  He goes to bed more happily and sleeps better, now.  And every night there are moments almost too sweet to write down.

Almost.  But I have to try to capture it, because I know I'll want to remember, just like I want to remember what it was like when Walter would fall asleep in my arms after nursing, so totally relaxed.  Tonight, while I sang him his lullaby, Walter put his arm around my neck and held me close, just as close as I hold him.  When I put him down in his crib he stood up for another hug, and then another, along with a kiss.  "Mwah!" He was clearly stalling. But then he laid down on his own and snuggled up under his blanket.  "Goodnight, Walter!  I love you! Goodnight!"  A little cry after I left his room, but not very heartfelt.  Within minutes, fast asleep.

He'll probably wake up around 5:30 in the morning, driving us absolutely crazy and demanding crackers. =)

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

How we rung in the New Year

Walt and I were home together on New Year's Eve.  We had cereal with milk for breakfast (Quaker oatmeal squares, his favorite,) did some playing, took a little mid-morning nap, met Daddy at Perkins for lunch, went grocery shopping, took a mid-afternoon nap. video chatted with Baba about a million times right in a row.  At one point he asked (repeatedly) for his "doo doo" which I finally figured out meant "kazoo."  He's kind of a kazoo prodigy.  It was a pretty good day, but he was very goopy and sick.  Bad cold.  He seems to have had it since November 25 or so, coinciding with a whole series of new (painful) teeth.

After another shopping trip (with Daddy this time, so Mommy could get some work done) we all settled in for a delicious dinner featuring several flavors of homemade boneless chicken "wings" (or, as Sean likes to call them, "wyngz.")  Walter chose a banana appetizer, his third banana of the day. (He still doesn't care for fruit in general, but he loves bananas.  I think it's because I sing a song about them and he gets to do his banana dance. "All the babies love banana ... All the babies love banana ... banana!  Walter loves them (banana) Mommy loves them (banana) (etc.) Ba-nan-a, Banaaaaaaaanaaaaa!")

Anyway ... when Walter asks for a "nana" we always comply if we can.  He got through about half of it before he lost interest.  He'd had a few goldfish crackers, too, and some orange juice.  He'd been taking a break from eating and I was just about to start him on the chicken when he threw up.  We all took it in stride right away: I cleaned up the chair while Sean grabbed Walt, got him out of his clothes and started the shower.  Sean was testing the water temperature when Walt, sans diaper, pooped a mighty poop upon the floor.  That was a little unsettling for the baby, but we took that right in stride, too, with Mama on floor clean up and Daddy getting the babe into the shower.  Once in the shower, Walter perked right up.  We got him dried and diapered and lotioned and dressed and figured he'd play for an hour or so and maybe even eat a little something before bed. 

But he didn't want to eat, or play. "Beh," he said. He had to repeat himself a few times, with gestures, before we got it.  "Do you want to go to bed?" asked Sean.  Very emphatic nod, big smile, pointing to the bedroom: Yes! Put me to bed, please. 

This was a pretty unusual request from Walter. I think it shows great emerging self awareness and maturity.

So Walter went to bed and Sean and I improvised a candlelit chicken wyngz dinner with sparkling grape juice.  We went to bed and woke up briefly at midnight when Hank and some other neighborhood dogs barked goodbye to 2012 and hello to 2013. 

The first day of the New Year found the four of us together, stuck in the house all day except for very brief outings for Hank and Sean, braving the very very cold weather. It was another day of sneezing, snuggling, napping, and playing with toy cars.  Wonderful, exhausting, funny and goopy.  Not a bad way to start the year.