Gimme 5!

13 Aug

He’s 5.

The one that came first.  The one who ripped my heart out of my chest and held it in front of the world for all to see.  I’m still reeling from that experience, folks.  I am beginning to learn that it never leaves you, this “feeling” called parenthood.

And who might you think I can turn toward as my spiritual advisor?  Why, the culprit himself.  

Jonah has the ability to go from zero to anxious wreck in 5 seconds.  I’ve perfected the maneuver for my whole life, so thus can hit “anxious” nearly before I even try.  He is continually pushing me there, as kids do, and I will say that it is horribly uncomfortable.  We make quite a pair.

But here is where it gets good:  I KNOW that this kid has got all the right qualities to really really really… do it.  Life.  

I had to have the “do you know what brave is” conversation with him the other day.  We hiked to Timpanogos Cave and were inside the thin, winding cave (where they turn all the lights off on you!)  His anxiety was shooting through the roof, and I made Dust and Mae leave us alone so I could really “be there” with him.

I was so proud of us.  I reassured him, I helped him know that I felt anxious too, that we would both live, and that anxiety is just another of our many emotions.  I asked him where he felt it.  He didn’t answer, but he calmed.  He was so proud of himself for his accomplishment when we got out.

He told me he “wasn’t really brave, because he had gotten scared.”  “Perfect!” I said.  Then we talked about how he is the bravest of all.  He liked that and I think he really understood it.

Jonah is aware of everything.  He is constantly processing large themes and ideas.  When he reads books with his dad, he says “I think what they are trying to say is:…”  once he said “but that story isn’t very effective.”  

He is sensitive like his mother, and like his grandmother.  He is slowly becoming a vegetarian and has been really vocally processing what “zoos” are all about.  “I’m not sure if they are all bad, though” he remarked one time, out of the blue.  “That’s how many things are,” I say.  “There are no easy answers to a lot of these things.  Sometimes things can be many things at once.”

I just hope I am doing it right.  His gentle, sensitive nature is also strong and self-assured.  While he wrestles and vocalizes every. little. problem.  I see him maneuvering so gracefully with school friends, and I’ve seen his school friends glance to him in an uncomfortable situation, waiting to see how Jonah is going to weigh in on this situation.  Because he exudes trust.  He WILL ALWAYS take care of you, and me, and everyone in the world.  He will wake up on his 5th birthday and say “Happy Birthday, Mae”  Today is my birthday, but it is your birthday, too, and you can play with all my stuff!”

And his mother will fall into a pile of dirty laundry sobbing uncontrollably.  

Some People’s Children

9 Dec

At my parent’s place, there is a big dirt hole.

This sequence of pictures sums up my life:

Jonah:  WTH is that?  Why are we out here? 

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Violet:  OMG OMG OMG!!! A HOLE!!! I’m gonna get in it!! Then I am gonna throw this stuff around!!!  I know!  I’ll throw it at you!!  OMG THIS IS GREAT!

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Thomas:  So, my sister is in a hole, …..if I climb around the edge of the hole… I CAN MAKE THE WHOLE THING CRUMBLE AND SHE WILL BE BURIED ALIVE! I’M A DO IT!

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Mae: Do not put me down!

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Presumptuous much?

22 Oct

I don’t think there ever walked a person on this earth that was harder to please than me.

I hope that on occasion, my ramblings come off as a weird person’s writing on something they found interesting and not JUST complaining all the time.  Finding these things odd, contemplating them, it’s just an outcropping of me being an odd duck.

But HERE’S SOMETHING that is weird….

We moved to the Avenues.

I am really settling into our house and actually love it.  There are so many reasons why it’s great.  But I really never knew the Avenues was a complete separate universe.  Did you know there aren’t leash laws up there?  WHAT?  YOU DIDN’T???? Well, just for kicks and giggles I may engage some certain animal control agency in a discussion of this interesting phenomenon.

No leashes.  EVER.

It is required that every household own at least two dogs.  That is interesting enough.  But also required is everyone else’s putting up with your random wandering dog.  Now, I have to say, they DO happen to be the best behaved dogs on the planet.  I have ONLY had good interactions, and minus one random turd on our parking strip today, I have never seen any random poop around.  There is also no litter on the streets.  There are lots of pros.

But I am pretty sure these are the people who complain about the “people in the ghetto” who can’t take care of their dogs, and let their dogs roam.  These uppity type are the ones complaining when other people’s dogs are off leash in any park.  Yet, it’s OK if their dogs are off leash?

Let’s get the facts straight.  Dogs raised with money happen to be well behaved dogs.  I read a study on it once ( 😉 ) so I am sure it’s true.  But why does your responsibility to control your animal end when you have money?

I tell you, it’s weird.

Additionally, the other day Beulah was out front with us and soon I forgot about her.  I looked over to see her IN MY NEIGHBOR’S HOUSE!  Yup.  Neighbor didn’t seem to mind (thank goodness!!!)  I mean, really, we all love dogs, and I would let their dog if they had one in my yard because I am sure it would be a well behaved dog.

BUT ISN’T THAT WEIRD?

There are a lot of other things in the Avenues that can now be the subject of more random blog postings.

HOORAY!!!

Wherein I lose my mind and say lots of things I will later regret or that will be used against me any day any of you see me in the future.

30 Jul

There are days, my friends, when you see your three year old throwing a huge temper tantrum, and you look at him, and you go “he acts just like me.”  I have come to realize that these days are frequent when you have small children, and I think that’s being generous.

Sometimes you just are so OFF that you aren’t yourself.  Actually, you ARE very much yourself.  You are yourself in the worst situation.  It’s an interesting thing, knowing you are in a horrible place, not acting like the best version of yourself, but seeing no door to jump out of, allowing some of that bad behavior because shit man, you ARE in a bad spot.  No denying it.  You are in the spot that elicits the bad behavior.  Welcome.

So, Mae is now the worst sleeper on the planet.  It’s a new fun stage.  I KNOW this stage will pass.  I fully remember this stage with Jonah (although he was way better than she is).  I can read on my own blog (reason #1 for writing) all the posts about clown cars and cat torture.   I remember the beast it turned me into, and I vaguely remember feeling good enough, and in control enough at some later point that I decided another kid would be good idea.  I mean, don’t get me wrong, I cannot really remember how that feels, but it happened, I swear it.

I know I have advised several other parents about this time, told them to RELAX, to KNOW that it will get better. It all looks much different on the other side.

What a pretentious know-it-all you can be when you aren’t in that place.  I swear I will kick the first person who says something like that to me.

I’m not really big into the “I have created a monster by not sleep training my child” stuff.  I think it places guilt on the mother, and comforts us with it’s black and white ideal that if your child is sleeping good, you are good, and if not, then you must be a horrible parent, and have ass-backward instincts because you royally f-ed up your kid,  I mean, obviously.  Your kid is gonna suck when they grow up.

Can you tell how my inner dialogue goes?  It ain’t pretty in there, folks.  I’m no shimmering light of mental health.  I get it.

When it comes to sleep, or parenting, I think you have no freaking clue why your kid is doing what they are doing.  Your only explanation is that obviously it is because of everything YOU are doing (egocentric much?) and if only you could change who you are, then you could redeem yourself.  I think reality is much more chaotic and “grey” than that, and I think that often you are doing great service with your disservices.  I mean, I made Jonah a bowl of this organic fiber cereal last night and coated the whole thing with white chocolate.   So really, I fed him a shit-ton of white chocolate chips.  But underneath was 8 grams of fiber, and I am committed to getting that kid to poop regularly.  So the haters can be all “you give your kid too much sugar,” but I be all “you can’t shove something in his mouth and make him chew and swallow.”  And in reality, I’m probably teaching him lessons about creativity, and manipulation, and how to not look a problem in the eye.  See, there is a good to every bad.  At some point, the best I can hope for is that they will learn that.  And ideally I’d like them to be a little better at decision making than their mother.

As you can see folks, I’m delirious.  I’m to the overtired point where I do not sleep at night either.  Why would I?  I can just sit up and nerve out like the power transmission plant does.  I hum.  While I’m doing it, I get the irony.  I see my kid not sleeping, in the same state as her mother, likely, and I get it.  It sucks. And then when she falls to sleep, I think of all the thousand other things I’m not doing when I’m trying to get her to sleep so I  make grocery lists and worry about the babysitters’ schedules.

And then I go to work!  HA!  I don’t even know what my job is.  I have no idea why I get paid.  I can’t remember anything from one day to another.  I have so much conflict with this that talk about not looking problems in the eye.  Let’s not go there.

Do I know how to get myself out of that state when I’m in it?  Nope.  The older I get, and the more I sit in this unique “young children” phase, the more I cement my stance that IT IS OK THAT I HAVE THESE TROUBLES.  Getting rid of the troubles isn’t really the goal.  And thus, some sort of strategy makes itself apparent but I’m too skill-less to turn it into words or actual marching orders for myself.

The goal is not to have an awesome sleeping baby.  The goal is to be able to deal with it, and to try and have a slightly better sleeping baby, and not maim anyone in the process. Oh, and have a sortof OK sleeping preschooler too. Oh, and not kill any dogs or cats, even though that might solve something.

I think all of that was an introduction to something I was going to write.  I have no idea what. That’s how it is, folks.  If you are ever advising anyone about whether or not they should have kids, you should show them this post.  It turns you into a peeled lemon.  ???  I don’t even know what that metaphor means, but kinda I do, and I agree. (I have been watching snippets of Parks and Recreation between baby strangling, so I say some of this in a really eager government employee tone)

So if you see me, go ahead, comment on my bad attitude.  Tell me all the ways that YOU would solve MY problems, and how I need to pull it together and ENJOY all my time.  GO AHEAD, I DARE YOU.

Just to be clear, let me say you have another option.  You could just s know in your head “she’s in a rough patch, I should give her some space”.

I think THAT is where I was going with this post.  THAT is always the answer.  Hasn’t everyone learned this?  No.  The answer is no.  They(meaning me) think that if suddenly a fire starts in the living room, the answer is to put out that fire.  That’s not the answer, folks.  Not always.  Sometimes it’s best to just look at it and let it burn.  This might be an indication to you that THAT spot in THAT room under THOSE conditions will often spark fires. You will have learned something about your living room, and THAT is helpful at some later point.  But I have never seen anyone succeed with a fire by yelling at it and telling it to stop being such a hot fucking fire.

Fires cannot be shamed.  I know this.  All I have figured out, however, is what to NOT do.  So, meanwhile all the furniture may be lost.  Sorry about that.  I didn’t say this was an advice post.  Did you read the title?

M is for Mystery

29 Jun

Since February, eh?  I can now write every 5 months?  Seems about right.

Right now, this is what is going on:

Dearest Mae, I just do not get you.

I have found, in my very limited parenting experience, that it ebbs and flows.  Sometimes you just feel “off.”  The whole house is off, nothing is working.  Now is that time.  I know a few things about myself, and one is that I tend to sponge up the tone in the environment.  If everyone is pissed off, I am likely to feel unsettled, sad, depressed at the negativity.  This is how I feel right now.

One thing that is unsettling me lately is my recent inability to really “get”  my daughter.  It’s weird.  I do remember having moments like this with Jonah, but I can’t conjure up any specifics from my memory.  However, I have always felt with her, that my understanding is slightly lacking.

She is understated yet very vocal.  Quiet, yet commanding.  She is not friendly.  She is calm, yet not overly interested.  She does all the normal baby things, she is starting to yell a lot, and screech, which is silly and fun.  She is lately quite obsessed with real person food, as was Jonah.  She is relentless in her… needing things, yet I cannot quite figure out what it is she needs.  I feel like, especially lately, she’s just a person with something bugging her, a chip on her shoulder, something gnawing at her.  She’s almost 8 months old, the undeniable grief at the sadness of the  world could not possibly be settling upon her shoulders.  Or could it? It’s as if it has always been there.

I know that is an odd thing to say.  It’s the best way I can describe her.

Interestingly, I will occasionally relate to her father this way.  Like I can’t quite access something.  He is not guarded, he is not depressed, he is not vacant, he is not unopinionated.  But occasionally, as we sit there, doing whatever, it surprises me when he laughs.  It’s like I didn’t quite expect anything lighthearted to come out of him. I would be less surprised if he cried, broke apart at the seams.  I cannot describe this without sounding like a crazy person.  He just sits there, and I know him well enough to know that his brain doesn’t do the racing around like mine does.  It doesn’t gnaw at ideas incessantly.  He doesn’t sit there agitated like I do most of the time.  He is not trying to think about puzzling stuff.  But always, after silence, something comes out of his mouth that is either impressively smart, or well thought out.  I ask if he was thinking about it for a while, he says no.  He is telling the truth.

I am not sure how this post about Mae is turning into a post about Dust, but it is, so I’m gonna go with it.

I tie myself in knots easily, I get spooked.  I am like a wind-up toy.  You turn the wheel which sets me off in motion at full speed, the only speed I have, and I go in a straight line until I run into a wall (which happens very quickly) Then I sit there, knocked to my back, the sound of my own feet still running above me. This grinds my entire being to a halt.  I have been known to take that knotted web, spit it out directly onto him, and leave.

Days, hours, years, weeks later, usually out of nowhere, he tells me the answer.  He’s not always right, he doesn’t guide me.  But he unties the web almost intuitively, without impatience, without desire to even untie it.   I have talked about this before,  I believe.

Because I do not understand his process, because it is so different than my process (which involves a lot of agitated spewing, crying, kicking), I occasionally find him to be unknowable.  Maybe Mae’s her father’s child.

I told him this and he said “whatever, she’s just like you, always pissed off.”

Ha.  There you have it, friends.

So, she’s been sleeping poorly lately and I haven’t been able to figure out what “works” for her, or what she needs.  She has slept with me since very young, a choice even I was surprised that I made.  Mostly, it is because I am lazy.  Partly it is because it doesn’t make any sense to do the baby sleep circus in a tiny house where she is literally put down two feet away from us.  The dog walks into the room and wakes her up. Mostly, though, it just was always the only thing that worked.

Mae being attached to me is ALWAYS the only thing that works.  She doesn’t want to be with other people, she doesn’t want other people to look at her, or touch her.  She’s been this way since about 8 weeks old.  It’s not a separation anxiety phase, it’s just her.  So lying by me, protected, always worked for her, the weight of my arm necessary upon her torso.

But lately, it wasn’t working so well.  She’s sleeping like shit so I thought I’d try the whole sleep training, cry it out.  I did this exact thing with Jonah.  I didn’t stick with it with him either.  It just doesn’t work for me and my kids.  I don’t really know her personality.  I don’t really know what she needs to sleep better.  I do know she needs a whole lot of time.

 

 

A Progress Post?

20 Feb

It hardly seems like it’s time to update anyone on anything.  Shouldn’t I still just be sitting here staring at the newborn baby I just brought home from the hospital?  How could we have made any sort of “progress” on anything?  One of the many strange things about being a parent is the way time goes by.  It’s often endlessly slow and more often is fast enough to make your stomach drop.

I have returned to work now, something that is possibly more difficult the second time than it was the first.  I had most of my wits about me the first time, but over the years I have been worn away at slowly.  I realize this now.  I feel as if I’m hardly recognizable as the Kelsey before kids.

I’ve prepared less with Mae, cared less about a rigid nap schedule, sleep routine, eat routine, etc.  I cannot say I have done this through any real wisdom, but through necessity.  I don’t have the ability to schedule my days as much as I used to.  The older child tends to mess with schedules more than the younger one.  I wish I could say I’m more relaxed this time, but that hardly seems to be the case.  I like schedules, so my lack of one with her has bothered me, but I somewhat accept my own powerlessness to have one right now. It’s been a tough winter.

There is a fan directly over my stove in the kitchen and more times than I can count, I walk too near to the stove and hit my forehead right on the edge of the fan casing.  Each time I do it, I get madder and madder because IT HURTS bad, and like stubbing your toe, it makes me feel so stupid for doing it that I just RAGE inside.  That’s how every step of this winter has felt to me.  Each branch that falls on my head, each time I fall into a freezing mud puddle, each cold that we get, each round of antibiotics, it’s the same as hitting that damn corner with my head.  It just feels like it won’t stop.

Postpartum depression?  meh.. I mean, I’ll admit to crazy hormones, but it has, in fact, been a tough winter.  Sickness is lurking behind every door and on the hands and noses of everyone.  Since going into the hospital with Mae at 8 weeks I look at individuals as liabilities instead of friends.  Sure, I’ll accept a likely chemical imbalance, but I also think a PROPER chemical balance does this to mothers.  Something’s gotta keep us on our toes so we don’t forget to feed our young child.  This FEELING like a bear is going to jump out behind every bush – it is what it is, and it’s here for a purpose.  I do not like it.  I feel a bit of a change coming on, that’s what I’m getting at.

I have recently felt something lighten.  We are progressing.  Maybe I can sense that the days are 5 minutes longer now.  Maybe I can smell the dirt peeking out below the gooey half-melted ice/mud.  Maybe I have just turned a corner, stopped the quick downward slide, taken a breath.

Something.

And so, let’s talk about this dear little gal.  She’s not like her brother.  You forget that you once didn’t know your older child as intimately as you do know.  You forget that it was a path of discovery.  Seems like I know Jonah so well now that I always knew him this well.  But I know that he was once the mystery to me that Mae now is. I was once surprised that he was laughing at 8 weeks, talking to himself at 10.

She is subtle.  She does not overreact.  She is confident.  She seems to ALWAYS be in charge.  She may be the personality that our little trio was precisely needing.

Like Jonah she was plagued with reflux and had a hard time relaxing into sleep.  The only place she has ever really wanted to be was tucked gently into my chest.  I have done way more co-sleeping with her than I did with Jonah because I am more of the opinion now that it isn’t worth a fight.  She wants to be my her momma.  No big deal. Her mommy isnt’ really in the mood for walking back and forth to the other bedroom 100 times a night.  If by me, she has slept, only waking once or twice a night, since birth nearly.  She is difficult to get to sleep, but once there sleeps like a teenager, often not waking up in the morning until after Jonah’s been through a couple cartoons.

Interestingly, however, she isn’t much of a snuggler.  She’s more “rigid” than Jonah, and extremely physical.  She’s been trying to flex her stomach muscles and sit up since a few weeks old.  I joke that she acts like an adult who has recently become paraplegic.  She groans and thrashes, trying to inch her body forward without having the ability yet to crawl.  She started rolling to the side at 2.5 months.  She grabbed at objects at about 3 weeks.

She has never liked the swing, and moves from distraction to distraction quickly.  When she is complaining about all of the above, she does not cry.  I have been a little creeped out since she was born with her lack of crying.  She stares directly at you, grunts once, as if she’s calling a dog to her side, and waits for you to abide.  It took me a while to figure out that grunt.  My newest theory is that it is a self-assured “Hey, You!  Get over here” grunt.

Recently she has refused to drink from a bottle.  This has made returning to work a bit tricky and I still don’t have a schedule worked out.  I have been coming home at lunch to feed her, but it makes for a long ornery day for her caregivers.  She was taking the bottle fine, until I actually went back to work, I suppose.  She’s no dummy.

She is in size 6 month clothes; an experience I didn’t have with Jonah until well past his 8 or 9th month.  She’s no giant, but she’s pudgy.

We love our little Mae Mae very much and I, for one, can’t wait to get outside this spring and show her around.

 

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No fun at all – updated

6 Jan

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THAT is not really where any of us wanted to be this last weekend.  After a LOOOOOONG week of having two sick kids, by Friday Mae was sleeping all day.  She woke to eat, but because of the inversion, I thought I’d take the kids to Peoa to clear their lungs.  She was sleeping, which I thought was awesome.  I expected her to wake recharged.

Am I an idiot?

Momma anxiety is the worst.  Peoa did her well, and she was less weezy up there.  She slept the whole time, but she didn’t make as much noise doing so.  She slept good all night.  I had an existing dr. appointment for Saturday am for her, and when she awoke, I contemplated not going, because she looked good.  I took her anyway, and freaking good damn thing I did.

They put the little blood oxygen meter on her and she was at 84.  Doc said “If she doesn’t come up in this appt, she’s headed to the hospital.”  Just like that.  They did tests, etc, and her oxygen saturation got down to 63 after their breathing treatment.  (sorta makes sense in my head, cuz’ wasn’t she breathing albuterol mist instead of oxygen?  what do I know.)  They put an oxygen tank on her, and sent us to primary’s ER.

I was alone, and I was kinda  a wreck.  I must have a really pathetic crying face, cuz’ I always seem to really alarm people.  Lots of babies get carted to the ER by their worried parents, and get wonderful care.  It happens every day, but it doesn’t happen to ME every day.  So, I was obviously crying as they were getting her on an IV, suctioning her out, taking her blood, not letting her nurse, etc…  A few of the docs stopped to talk to me about ME, and if I was OK, etc…  but none of them ever said “we’ve had 6 of these come in since yesterday, it happens all the time and you’ll be fine.”

In fact, the medical student doc said to me, after I asked if I should have brought her in sooner “Don’t worry, these little ones can have a blood oxygen saturation of 60 or 70 for a couple days before they get a brain injury.”  Oh, good.  Cuz’ my baby had been sick for 6 days, thanks.  The supervising physician did the equivalent of kicking her under the table and said “she’ll be fine” to me.  I mean, I know what that doctor meant.  She meant they can REALLY be struggling for air for a LONG time continuously before damage occurs.  Obviously Mae hadn’t been doing that.  Yet, what she said did not ease my mom guilt.

Finally, after they decided she could go to the regular floor instead of ICU (WTF, ICU???) and after we had seen many doctors and nurses wandering into our room, doing the same thing, the nicest guy came across my path.  This little skinny dude who was at least 10 years younger than me (maybe 5), the resident doctor on the floor, came in relaxed as anything.  I told him that I really need reassurance that I haven’t harmed her by not bringing her in earlier.  He just sortof looked at me like I was an idiot, and smiled.  “Are you afraid you just made her be a B student instead of an A student?”  “YES!  I AM!” I laughed… and cried.  I told him that what if her oxygen had been that low, and I hadn’t known, and then some brain injury would show up later.

He just smiled, and said “that is absolutely not the case, I promise you.”

Doctors probably aren’t supposed to make promises.  But this dude, who I guarantee does not have children, totally got where my anxiety was coming from, and somehow was able to help me rid my body of SOME OF THAT guilt.  The rest I carry forever, I have learned.  It’s just sortof part of the gig.

Cute little dude.  I hope he does well after Med school.

So, things really went up after that little bit.  She was being monitored, and her airways repeatedly vacuumed out, and she was on oxygen, but she was like 100% better.

So, skipping to the end of the story, because all that occurred in the middle was blurry and chaotic and I have forgotten it all, she came home Monday afternoon on oxygen.

Today’s Wednesday, and the doctor said I could remove her oxygen tank if I wanted to.

If I wanted to.

Cool, cuz’ after the $1000 medical bill I’m gonna get from this, it doesn’t really seem like anyone gives a shit if she is on Oxygen or not.

This experience has also been AMAZING.  I am now real knowledgeable about RSV, if that will ever come in handy.  I also learned a lot about the whole “being in the hospital” process, which thankfully is not something I’ve had to learn.  I learned how truly amazing some of those people up there at Primary’s truly are, and how human some of them are (meaning no one on the floor could work the f-ing computer she was attached to, and they kept making really annoying errors, like saying “oh, she’s 59 days old, so that’s 3 months…..)   The main nurse we had on the weekend was a real interesting lady.  She was “all thumbs” and kept dropping things, couldn’t work the computer, was real air headed, etc, and was also maybe the best “caretaker” we had.  She got Mae that little mobile in the picture, and picked her up to comfort her, and was excited to see her the next day, cooing at her.  She was also really good at snot vacuuming.  Guess you don’t need computer skills if you’re able to actually comfort people, which they all certainly couldn’t do.

Meanwhile Jonah was at Grandma Vicki’s, despite having RSV himself.  Oh, and Dust’s car broke down EVERY. SINGLE. DAY from Friday to Monday. (a whole other story).

Gotta go…. duty calls!