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Monthly Archives: February 2011

Ollie spent his first months at home being, well, I suppose some might say “coddled.”

One of these recent weekends, I finally popped out of the house to go out and about with one of my little friends. We met for lunch at Noodles (yay!) and while we caught up and I nommed on my Pesto Cavatappi, a mom with her two kids set up shop in the booth next to us. She set up her boy, smaller than Ollie, on a booster seat in the booth, and had her daughter on the other side and she went to get the drinks.

In her absence, something happened and the little boy fell, roly poly pell mell tumble bumble off his booster seat, off the booth’s seat and bam! onto the floor.

My lunchmate, like lightening, swooped in to pick the boy up, make sure he wasn’t hurt, and give him some emergency “it’s okays,” while I jumped up to find the boy’s mommy.

On my way home, thinking about my evolution as a grownup was unavoidable. I’ve known this friend since we were 15-ish, which puts us at nearly 20 years of buddyhood. 15 years ago, we may have snickered at the boy who took a tumble. 10 years ago, we might have looked down our noses at the mom, in an OMG, what a dullard that woman is to leave her kid there! sort of way. 5 years ago, I might have said something snarky like, “see! this is why I don’t have kids! You can’t even get a drink without them getting into a pickle!”

None of those scenarios involved getting involved, actually stepping in to the situation. But not now. Both moms ourselves now, we went into emergency mode. Doing what we can for this little boy who took a spill.

Alas. This realization of evolution got me thinking even further into my own evolution through parenthood.

Before Ollie was born, we had a vision of how it would be. As we planned it, I would have maintained my status as a full-time career girl, happily dropping my smiling child off at Daycare with his bottles of formula and picking him up to play for a couple hours at the end of the day. What happened? Completely the opposite and I’m continally amazed at our development as The Parents. How I’ve come from expecting full time daycare, exclusive formula feeding and being The Modern Do-It-All Mom to Stay-At-Home-Attached-Mom, breastfeeding, babywearing and co-sleeping.

So much of that was influenced by Ollie’s early birth.

To our surprise, we tend to lean more towards Attachment Parenting. It isn’t something we read about and decided “this is how we’re going to go about this,” it was more of a “follow our instincts” thing and then realized it has a name. Attachment Parenting doesn’t enforce Cry It Out methods and I “wear” my children in slings or wraps to allow them the closeness they crave while actually doing things. We never really expected our children to mold to our lifestyle as newborns and infants; we knew our lives would change around them and the idea of putting them on a schedule (some schedules are very strict in their “eat, play, sleep” cycles) never really occurred to us. So, as infants, I feed on demand, I don’t force them to play when they’re awake, nor do I keep them awake because it’s not time for a nap. And in a town where co-sleeping has a bad reputation and at the risk of sounding too granola, we co-sleep when they’re just brand new to the world and adjusting to life.

Before Ollie was born, I really, really didn’t think we’d ever do something as outlandish as co-sleep. I remember telling Matty about “those people” and saying without a doubt, my kid won’t be sleeping in my bed, I may have even used the phrase, “that’s just weird.” Unless he’s sick, there would be no such thing happening; I mean, babies are supposed to be in a crib. That’s what they’re there for, right? But then we did have a baby who came home “sick” and we did a little bit of research and found that co-sleeping, either by bed-sharing with the child, or with them in your room in his own bassinet, actually has research behind it that shows that it’s okay to do, and actually has benefits. Neither one of us have felt comfortable actually bed-sharing with a tiny baby, with no protection from roll-overs or blanket suffocation, but we do feel secure with them in their own bed between us. And within two months of coming home, when the nighttime need for food is down to once a night, both boys have easily transitioned to his bassinet.

This may have begun out of sheer convenience for us, this Attachment Parenting. Plainly the optimal choice for lazy parents is to feed your child at 2am in your own bed with a tv on instead of getting up completely and sitting in an uncomfortable rocking chair in an entirely separate room. It’s easier on the heart to not have a kid spending time crying it out. It’s more convenient to wear a baby and provide “hands free snuggling” while getting things done around the house. I’ve worn Tucker in a sling while bouncing on a yoga ball feeding Ollie breakfast; that’s the sort of happy medium that only a “wearer” could accomplish, since both boys needed something completely different from me at the same time.

But it also has a lot to do with Ollie’s rough start. With his first months spent in an isolette, miles away from his parents, hooked up to things, we wanted to erase his early birth and long hospital stay as much as possible. Replacing trauma with closeness and snuggles seemed a good way to reinforce to him that the world doesn’t have to be an isolating scary experience. So Ollie spent his first months at home being, well, I suppose some might say “coddled.” He was held, a lot. He ate when he wanted, slept when he was tired. For a long time, Ollie kept that newborn schedule, sleeping most of the day away, waking up to eat and look around for a bit. There was no way I had the heart to look at the clock and say to a recently-home-from-the-fight-of-his-life Ollie, “Okay, Kid, you’ve been up for two hours, I’m going to make you go to sleep and if you scream because you don’t want to, then that’s too bad. Self-soothe, baby.” Or if he was showing signs of hunger, I wasn’t about to be all, “Dude, you just ate an hour ago, I’m not feeding you until 2 hours pass. Deal with it, infant.” He fought hard to stay alive, it was the least I could do to provide whatever needs he needed met, whenever he needed them.

And that worked just fine for us with Ollie. He’s well adjusted and thriving. A friend recently asked “is he always this happy?” and, yes, he is a remarkably happy kid. He’s never been bothered by his delays. He’s not spoiled, he’s adapting beautifully in his role as Big Brother, he doesn’t have huge separation issues, he happily plays by himself and with us in child-directed play, and most importantly, he’s not still in our room. He moved into his own room and crib when he was 8 months old and had reliably dropped his nighttime feeding. He slept on his own like a champ at that point and at 26 months actual, and 23 months at home with us, he has yet to spend any time Crying it Out on my watch. (Although there are certainly days where I wish I believed that Crying it Out was the best solution). That NICU teaching of “crying burns too many calories” still sticks with us and we snuggle him to drowsy at naps and nighttime. We’re working on getting him asleep on his own, and we’ve come a long way. He’s able to fall asleep in his bed with the door open, radio on and cats coming in and out, as long as Someone is sitting with him. And to be clear, it’s not a frustration for me that he doesn’t go to sleep on his own, and to be completely honest, I probably wouldn’t have started any sleep “training” if Tucker hadn’t been expected. And, now that he’s walking, snuggle time with Ollie is getting more and more precious, generally needed only when takes a header or pinches a finger.

So Attached Parents we became and we continue it with Tucker. Maybe even moreso with Tuck, he is worn more often while I play with Ollie. With his Ollie’s oxygen and apnea monitor, wearing just wasn’t easily accomplished. If I did put him in a sling, I also wore a backpack with his equipment, including oxygen tank. Sure I sorta felt cool like The Rocketeer, but with a 10 pound baby on the front and 20 pounds of equipment, it was just too much of workout.

So while it’s impossible to fairly compare these boys to each other, I’m finding it interesting how our parenting style is evolving to keep these boys happy, to make sure they feel secure and loved. I’m sure this is something that new parents of more than one do on a daily basis, just because we got one child through to toddlerhood doesn’t mean those same methods will work for the next.

What we assume will work for Tucker because it worked for Ollie just isn’t so and I wonder how far we’ll get into this before we fully understand these are two completely separate children and won’t automatically assume that Tucker will respond the same was as Ollie had. For the small things, Tucker loves any vibrating feature on his “furniture.” He loves the vibrating bouncer we have and his bassinet will soothe him automatically if you just flip that little switch that turns on that motor.

Ollie hated to vibrate. He’d cry immediately.

Whereas Tucker loves to vibrate, he doesn’t like to swing so much. Ollie loved to swing; spent many hours napping while that thing was on high; full-tilt and high speed. We had to stealthily turn it back on. If it stopped, Ollie would wake up immediately, even if it had only been 15 minutes, crying and in a tizzy.

I honestly didn’t realize that Tucker didn’t like to swing until about a week ago. I thought that because it was the key to Ollie naps that of course it would be also the key to Tucker naps. I didn’t notice that he’d wake up after 5 minutes of swinging in just as much of a tizzy as Ollie did when it stopped. Call me silly, but this “what worked for one doesn’t mean it’ll work for two” concept is a bit of a confounding idea.

In the larger realm, Ollie’s experience is incomparable. And as Tucker gets stronger, stays up longer, morphs into a person, it’s hard not to see how challenged Ollie has been since Day One. How tough Ollie had it with just growing through his baby-hood. This “typical” infant development is another one of those ideas that’s hard to wrap my head around.

Ollie mastering tummy time at 9 months old

Ollie wasn’t able to hold his head up until he was nine months old. His muscles just didn’t cooperate with each other to let him do things easily. Things that are supposed to come naturally to babies didn’t come naturally for Ollie. Just getting the hang of holding his head up at nine months (six adjusted) was a big sign that his Gross Motor Skills were lagging, a fairly common issue with micro-preemies.

With Tucker, I hesitated to start working on Tummy Time because Ollie taught me that infants hate it. Hate it with the heat of a thousand burning suns. Hate it so passionately that one is afraid a neighbor would call Child Protective Services because he’s screaming so hard during it. His body just wasn’t making it easy on him. But, Tucker, well, that’s just not the case. He sort of likes being on his belly checking out the landscape from a lower vantage point. It was a bit of a pleasant surprise.

(Oh, and can you tell these babies are brothers? They look exactly the same, right?)

Tucker mastering tummy time at 1 month old

When Tucker was first born, like before we left the hospital first born, we marveled at how easy it is to feed him. No special positions, no flow controlling on our part, just pop the bottle in and let him go to town. No choking. No sputtering. No scary heart rate drops; no need for a heart monitor.

When he first came home, we commented on how big he seemed; at 6 pounds 7 ounces at birth, he was a pound and a half bigger than Ollie was when we brought him home.

As he gets bigger, I think “he can’t possibly have outgrown this outfit already” as I try to shove his chubby legs into a too-small sleeper. At two months, Tucker is wearing 6 month size clothes, while Ollie took his time growing out of things.

At his most recent weigh in, Tucker weighed over 13 pounds. My little almost-exclusively-breast-fed-baby is a fatty. Ollie didn’t weigh in at 13 pounds until much later, and I don’t think he’ll ever be classified as a “fatty.”

To be clear, any comparisons I make aren’t comparisons between these boys. It’s more of a comparison between the Preemie Experience vs the Almost-Term Experience. This growth, the simplicity of trusting of Tucker’s body to do things the “proper” way…it’s all so different from the experience we had with Ollie.

If this is the way we go about parenting two children, I have to say I’m glad the Preemie Experience was the one that kicked us off. I’m glad we have Ollie to teach us how to be parents. His inherently sweet disposition has only reinforced the ideas of Attached Parenting that newborns can’t be spoiled by picking them up if they cry or that an infant can’t “manipulate” his parents to get what he wants. If what he wants in merely comfort, love and snuggles, he trusts that we will provide them and it hasn’t created a monster. But seeing the huge differences between a Preemie and a Termie are enough to reassure that parenting doesn’t have to be a worrisome scary experience just to make sure he thrived. I’m thankful that we didn’t have a Termie first and are going through the comparisons backward. Had I known the standard timeline of a baby ‘s development, Ollie’s experience would have broken my heart even more.

So, there you have it. A long post about things I’ve been thinking about. Ollie’s fight for normalcy and Tucker’s delightfully average experience. Two entirely different children with two entirely different introductions to the world. Our evolution of the parents of these two children, kicked off by one rocky introduction, evolving along with the aspects our Tucker will teach us.

*By the way, this post changed direction about 4 times in the week it’s taken me to write it.

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Posted by on February 14, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

A Post Just About Ollie!

I talked a little bit about the big changes that Ollie would be taking in after Tucker was born and how much I was worried he wouldn’t dig it.

In a nice surprising twist, the kind that Ollie excels at, Tucker’s arrival seems to be just the motivator Ollie needed!

Since Tucker was born and we started life as our upgraded family, Ollie has been taking on new challenges and conquering them in pure Ollie fashion: fast and furious. Perhaps this is his way of growing into his Big Brotherhood and leaving behind his extended babyhood. Or maybe he was just ready and I don’t need to find a reason behind it.

Just three weeks after Tucker was born – and just one week before his second birthday – our little buttscooter scooted his last scoot, he slid his last slide. He is now officially a WALKER!

Can I say it again?

OLLIE WALKS!

again?

HE WALKS!!!

Okay, that’s enough.

To be able to write that is pure joy on my part. I’ve been putting off writing a post about it because I can’t quite put into words how absolutely awesome this is.  Seriously. When you see your almost two-year-old still unable to walk and perfectly content not walking, you kinda start wondering what’s up.

In the weeks leading up to Tucker’s birth, Ollie was juuuust starting to get up his gumption and take a step not hanging onto anything. Just the small space between the ottoman and the couch, he’d step, apprehensively, and we’d applaud, happy he was at last finding his get-up-and-go.

And then Tuck was born and my parents suspected he might start walking while we were still in the hospital. Still step-by-stepping one bit at a time, he practiced his balance and he started using his hands and feet to get up to a standing position on the floor. Standing independently, balancing himself, he seemed pretty proud of himself. And I thought that might be enough for him for awhile.

BUT I WAS WRONG!

He waited until everyone was home from the hospital and one night he just took off. We started him off by having him “go by Dada!” and he’d cruise along the ottoman to get to Matty, then Matty would say “go by Mama!” and he’d do the same thing to get to me. Eventually this game got him going enough that he found the bravado to let go of the ottoman to get to his destination before we were done saying it.

Then at some point, he was just going. He walked to the tv, holding onto nothing, then headed over by me, and then the big window, then his play table and back by Matty. Then he’d do the route again and again; he seemed pretty surprised with himself for getting going, and for staying upright when he thought he might fall but caught himself. And oh, my goodness, how I’ve been waiting for that drunken zombie walk that toddlers do!

And he hasn’t stopped. It’s so unbelievably awesome, I can’t even say.

I love love love getting him up in the morning and putting him down to walk out to the living room!

I love love love following him around the house!

I love love love letting him walk out to the car by himself!

I just love that he’s catching up to his peers in such a great big fat enormous way! And is able to show his personality a little bit more!

He remembers things that he forgot on his way to places. As a buttscooter, his hands were full or it was too much trouble for him to go back to get something, so this is new. He’ll get halfway to the kitchen to eat lunch before he remembers he wanted to bring a toy, so he’ll turn around, search the room and go get the truck, car, telephone, whatever he wants to bring along. One afternoon after nap, he forgot his snuggle blanket that he likes to bring out with him. He reached the living room, looked around, realized he forgot his blanket and went alllllll the way back to his bedroom to get it, grinning all the way back. He’s doing that hilarious toddler “dance” now, waving his arms and shaking his little patootie in a way that only a toddler can “dance” without being shy. Any song will get him going if you just ask, he’ll show you his fantastic moves.

Adorable!

…and awesome.

…and just in time apparently.

We surprised one of his physical therapists (we had two for awhile, PT twice a week, gah!) who, after seeing him finally walking, commented that she was about to recommend one of those pediatric walkers that go behind the kid and has wheels. Just to get him upright and mobile. There was never anything wrong with him, just that his muscles didn’t want to cooperate with each other, but the idea of being thisclose to having a pediatric walker made me realize how significantly delayed he was. Nope, it wasn’t the PT twice a week, the OT once a week, or the lack of interest in walking that made me realize how delayed he was, it was the suggestion that he might have needed a walker in a couple weeks.

Dang, Ollie, you really dodged a bullet there, dude.

But all of this worry is in the past! Was-was-was-was delayed in walking. Not anymore!

In fact those same physical therapists have mentioned more than once that his walking skills are much more advanced than someone who’s only been walking a month or two. Can he walk backwards? YES! Yes he can! Within a few days of taking off, he’s walked backwards the entire length of the living room. Can he walk side-step, walking sideways while keeping his head forward? YES! Yes he can! Allll those months of cruising along the couches reinforced that ability and he’s a pro at that already. Does he spin? YES! Yes he does! Does he kick a ball? YES! Yes he can! He steps over thresholds, he squats down to pick things up, he uses his stool to boost himself. YES! Yes! YES! Does he snatch your remote control and walk as quickly as possible in the other direction? YES! Yes he does!

He may only be walking for a month or so, but he’s already so good at it that we’ve cut back to PT only once a week again. I don’t know what else she can do for him, our main goal for her was to get him sitting and walking and we’ve got those two tasks crossed off his To-Do List.

What’s next? Running? Hopping? Going up stairs? Going down stairs? I don’t know how typical baby development goes, but it might just be vacuuming.

He’s pretty fantastic, this kid.

 

 
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Posted by on February 4, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

I wished I spent his last days as an Only Child preparing him more…

So I know I haven’t written anything in months, but it’s not that I haven’t been thinking about it. Oh, I have. In the time since my last posting, there’s been a lot going on….a lot.

First, there was Thanksgiving, which really seems like years ago, instead of months. This year, Matty went to his parents Thanksgiving, leaving Ollie & me behind for a couple reasons: 1) I didn’t want to be 2 hours away from home (and hospital!) three weeks before Tucker was due to be born. Just didn’t want to tempt the situation that something could still go wrong. The second reason was Ollie. He wasn’t approved by insurance this year to get that protective shot against RSV, so his health is more vulnerable this year than it was last year, so we’re still The Isolation Nazis for just this one last winter.

Thanksgiving with my family traditionally happens on the Saturday after Official Thanksgiving, and this year my brother and sister-in-law hosted at their house, that has open stairs and no baby gates. Much of that day was spent following Ollie as he scooted up and down steps, over here and over there and back. He was very, very busy that day, which leads me to Sunday…

The day Tucker was born.

Interesting how after a day of more-than-normal exertion leads to the birth of Little Brother, hey?

Who knows whether or not it was the chasing or the food or if would have happened anyway, but apparently I can’t be pregnant around any major holidays (Ollie was born two days after Christmas!), things just happen, and now we have two of the biggest holidays of the year to kick off my boys’ birthdays.

The next few days were spent in the hospital, recovering.

C-sections kinda suck. Here you have this new baby that you just “birthed,” but you’re so not yourself that it’s not possible to really “care” for him very long. We had him spend his nights in the nursery all three nights we were there, simply because I was too wiped out to care for him and Matty was still going to work and needed to get more than 2 hours of sleep. Tuesday and Wednesday it was me and Tucker against the world with a few visits from friends and family.

Oh, and family. All I wanted was Ollie. I missed that little guy so much and he was understandably unsure of the situation with Mom in a hospital bed with things attached. No one was really themselves, and Ollie’s hesitance to hug me broke my li’l heart. Mommy Guilt struck hard when I thought of how much Ollie’s life was about to change, how different everything would be when we went home. I wished Ollie was older to understand the changes that were going to happen in his life and I wished I spent his last days as an Only Child preparing him more for his new role as Big Brother and the arrival of Little Brother.

But I thought I had three more weeks!

Of course everyone survived. After some adjustment. The first few days, with me and those infamous post-pregnancy hormone drops, were not the smoothest. I cried if someone looked at me wrong, I bawled if Ollie seemed more excited to see Grandma than he was me, or if the noodles were overcooked. (And I want to publicly apologize to anyone I yelled, snarled or growled at in those first weeks. That wasn’t me talking!) There were (and are) times when Tucker needed me more than Ollie did at that moment, and Ollie doesn’t quite get that yet. But he will. Ollie impresses me on a daily basis as he grows into his role as Big Brother. He tries to help with Tiny T in ways that he can, by giving him his blanket or throwing diapers away for me. He “pets” Tucker like he does the cat, gently and with affection. It’s really very sweet.

Ollie & Tuck. Sounds like an epic brotherhood. Hopefully they’ll grow to be more like Owen and Luke Wilson or The BeeGees and less like the rocky relationship Liam and Noel Gallagher from Oasis have. They have to start small, though. I can’t expect them to be best buds right away, but I think they’re going in the right direction…

Tucker smiles at Ollie. Tucker really seems to like his big brother; he seeks him out and grins. Ollie is too busy with his toddler-tasks to really notice, but we do. And I’m happy to see it. While I have to “work” for a smile, Ollie gets them with no effort whatsoever.

I don’t know if Ollie remembers life with just him anymore. I hope he doesn’t. I hope he understands that Tuck is here for the duration, just like he is, and that no one is the favorite. I want him to understand that he and Tucker are a duo, a peas and carrots combination of complementary abilities and personalities.

That could be a lot to ask of a two-year-old. I don’t think it is, though.

 

 
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Posted by on February 4, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

So what’s new around here?

TUCKER’S NEW AROUND HERE!

It’s been quite the busy winter here in our little house.

Tucker was born only three weeks earlier than his scheduled birthday, so that’s a big improvement over Ollie’s three months earlier!

So what happened? My water broke. Plain and simple. No big scary day filled with “he’s not moving like he should be” worries or tears of “this shouldn’t be happening yet,” the only thing that was complicated about the day was getting ahold of my parents to meet us at the hospital to watch Ollie. The only worry was whether or not it was my water breaking or I was peeing myself all day.

So we met our Tucker just a few weeks earlier than expected at 36 weeks. Just barely a preemie. Not even a NICU stay. I heard him cry almost as soon as he was out, it was the sound of a healthy baby crying.

His trip out of the OR was in my arms, not in an isolette.

His first feeding was in the recovery room, not through a tube.

Take your new baby home with you? WHA??? You’re sure he’s not having troubles breathing? You’re positive his oxygen levels are maintaining themselves? You’re absolutely positive he can keep his own body temperature up?

So this is how it’s supposed to be?

Whoa. You just blew my mind there a little bit.

It’s a little bit of awesome right there!

So, yeah, Tucker came home on December 1 and threw our little household for a loop. The clothes that I put away as Ollie outgrew them were in no way logically sorted, we had to open Christmas presents early just to have an outfit to come home in. My parents rearranged their lives to help us out while Matty rearranged his work schedule to accommodate a few weeks of paternity leave to kick off his Winter Break. And then there’s the matter of healing from major abdominal surgery to make things difficult. But we’re figuring it out.

And we’re busy. But we’re all getting acquainted as time goes on.

 

 
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Posted by on February 2, 2011 in Uncategorized