Monday, October 30, 2006

More on Poop


Like the oh-so spooky, shadowy picture of Nolie?  Happy Halloween, folks.

Addie's fine.  Just an ear infection in both ears (just!).  Nobody seemed to concerned when we told them that our kid couldn't hear (couldn't hear!).  The doctors just gave us more of that pink amoxycillin, the kind they've been prescribing to kids forever.  I can still remember what it tastes like, for chrissakes.  So, anyway.  We're hopefully on the road to recovery.  Except the doctor said we can plan on her being sick throughout the winter because she's in preschool.  Yay.  Like working moms don't have enough to feel guilty about. 

So now I can go back to worrying about the non-essential things, such as the fact that Addie has peed or pooped on almost everything we own, and that she peed on everything in the doctor's office today.  And that she has finger-painted objects in her room with her poop.  Now, I love my child, and poop is just a fact of life, but really.  Really, folks.  No, really.  This is too much. 

This from an otherwise angelic child, my good sleeper, my girl who loves to read and make art and sing.  This is her one area of rebellion.  And boy, is she rebelling.

We started the whole potty training thing this summer because, honestly, I thought it would be nice to have Addie potty trained before Nolie came.  And, at first, it seemed like it was going to be nice.  Addie sat on her little portable potty and went pee.  Several times.  No problem, no fuss, no nothing.  I'm pretty sure I could be quoted as saying something like, "What's the big deal with potty training?  I don't get it.  It's so easy!"


There has been no single thing more frustrating than potty training.  Not getting kids to sleep through the night, not colic, not fussy eating, nothing.  This has almost killed me, my friends. 

So, the doctor gave us permission today to stop.  That's it--we can just stop.  We're just not ready.  Addie's not ready.  And she is much, much stronger than us.  "In a war of wills," the doc said, "you will not win."  Boy, was he right.  I was so grateful I almost hugged him.  When we got home, I gleefully put away the potty seats, the underwear, the stepstools, the potty charts, and happily put Addie's pull-ups back on, figuring she'll tell us when she's ready to start up again. 



Saturday, October 28, 2006

The Razor's Edge


Flashback to Thursday Night:  Addie and I are driving home from the Fall Festival at her wonderful preschool.  We're both tired, and it's cold and dark outside.  I get Addie out of her carseat and she immediately goes over to the snow--the first big snow of her toddlerhood--and this conversation ensues:

A:  Mommy, can I eat some ice?

M:  Sure, go ahead.

A:  Mommy, can I eat some ice?

M:  Yes, Addie.

A:  Mommy, can I eat some ice?


Flashback to Friday Morning:  I'm getting Addie ready for school, and this conversation happens:

A (playing with something on the floor, not looking at me):  Mommy, can I have some juice please?

M:  Sure, what kind?

A (still not looking at me):  Mommy, can I have some juice please?

M:  Yes, Addie.  What kind?

A (still not looking at me):  Mommy, can I have some juice please?


Addie looks up at me now for this last answer, and sees I'm angry, and her face crumbles.  She flies into my arms.  A lightbulb goes off for me as I realize she didn't hear me the first two times.  But still I wait a whole day, wondering if I've imagined this.  Wondering if instead this is just toddler willfulness.  Finally, last night, Eric got home and confirmed what I had been suspecting:  that Addie hasn't been hearing us.

Does that freak you out?  It's been freaking me out.  Luckily, our reference book of choice--The Baby Book by Dr. Sears--says that this can be a result of inner ear fluid, left over from an old ear infection, and might not be serious if caught early enough.  Addie had an ear infection at the beginning of October, and it may never have resolved itself, even with antibiotics.  The doctor on call at Addie's pediatric practice last night seemed to think this is what is going on, and we're trying to get Addie into the doctor this morning to confirm this diagnosis, the most probable explanation for her not hearing us.

For me, this is what is so hard about parenting:  you have to constantly trust your instincts and be aware and watchful of your kids, and advocate for them.  And at the same time, you have to try to maintain a level head, not rush to the doctor with every little sniffle, try not to panic with every little bump on the head.  And then something like this sneaks up on you, and even though your kid will totally be fine, you get a taste of what it feels like to have something really bad happen in your house.  We're yelling so Addie can hear us, and she is watching our lips to decipher what we're saying, happy as ever, not even knowing that anything is different.  And we have a taste of what it might be like to have a child with hearing loss.  Just the littlest taste, and knowing that she is going to probably be fine.  But still.  This is the razor's edge, the breathtaking, heartbreaking tenuousness of parenting.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Houston, We Have Poop


This is a picture of my friend Ashley and her daughter Scout with us at People's Fair this year.  Ashley has that awesome vibe of the first-time mom, totally blissed out and relaxed.  I love hanging out with her because her Buddhattitude is contagious and because she's not afraid to breastfeed in public.  It's nice to have someone you can hang out with and who understands the need to plop down in the middle of the mall and whip your boob out to calm down your kid.  If we were lightbulbs, Ashley would be that soft, kind light you like to have on when you're reading late at night. 

I, on the other hand, am currently the harsh fluorescent kind, vibrating at this annoying frequency, running around trying to corral two children.  Oh, every once in a while I get a glimpse of the softlight me, like when Addie and Nolie are cuddling up to me, and I'm managing to read a book to them both without anyone screaming.  Or when nobody's nose is running.  (Okay, that's never really happened.  But if it did, I'd be softlight).  But when I've got both girls, I mostly feel fluorescent, in a Vegas Strip sort of way.  I wonder if other people see me vibrating, or if it's just an internal frenetic energy.

Today's exciting news:  first, I did not light myself on fire at all today.  Not even once.  Second, Nolie let forth two giant fecal emissions (sound the alarm, Beyonce), thus relieving the gastastrophe that had been brewing.  It probably sounds weird to be so excited about poop, but I am.  Mama's gonna sleep tonight!

On a more somber note (I know, what could be more somber than poop?), we have yet again let Addie get so sick that by Friday evening she needs to go to the doctor.  Her ears are hurting again, and she can't hear very well, and the runny nose has reached epic proportions.  To test this, I asked her three times if she wanted chocolate cake, and she didn't respond.  Normally she'll scratch your eyes out to get chocolate cake, so I consider this a very scientific experiment.  The results indicate some seriously f*&^ed up sinuses. 

So, I ask you this:  how the heck are you supposed to know if your kid has a virus or a bacterial infection?  I mean, doctors are always lecturing you about not bringing your kids in if they have "just a virus."  But these viruses always seem to brew into infections in Addie.  There's no green boogers, no wildly high temperature, no oozing pustules.  But invariably, Addie gets an ear infection.  On Friday night.  When the doctor's office is closed for two more days. 

Maybe Mama's not going to sleep tonight after all.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Fire It Up


So, this funny thing happened today.  Funny in an I-almost-died sort of way. 

It snowed about a foot here this morning, and the kids have had bad colds.  When Addie woke up, I decided I'd make blueberry pancakes, because her usual blueberry yogurt--which she eats every day of her life--is phlegm-producing, and always leaves her shivery and cold.  And pancakes sounded cozy and warm.

I'm standing in front of the stove, flipping pancakes and commenting to Eric how I've always been sort of nervous about gas burners, because I'm scared that I'll lean over too far and light myself on fire.  To illustrate how such an ignition could occur, I twirled the tie of my terry cloth bathrobe around a few times.  I told him I had been particularly afraid of lighting myself on fire when I was pregnant, because I couldn't see my belly very well.

Not sixty seconds later--no kidding about that--I was on fire.  I didn't know it at first, but noticed Addie looking at me strangely (still shoveling pancakes into her pie-hole, though).  A split second later I smelled smoke and then Eric was batting at me and I was skedaddling out of the robe as fast as I could and hopping around like a maniac.  I thought at first my hair was on fire, but it wasn't.  Actually, everything was fine.  As soon as the robe hit the floor, the fire put itself out, and I didn't get burned at all.  I'm not even sure which part of the robe was on fire.  I haven't wanted to look at it. 

Our reaction to this bit of excitement was to laugh that nervous, giggly laugh you get when something crazy has just happened and you've narrowly averted major disaster.  "Wasn't I just saying that I didn't want to catch myself on fire?  And then I was on fire?  Phew!  Close one!  Have a good day at work, honey!  Drive safe!"

Addie just kept asking what happened, still cramming pancake into her mouth, but mostly was unfazed.  I, however, am still a little shook up.  We'll have yogurt tomorrow. 

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Magnificent Horker

I look back on yesterday's ebullient post with nostalgia.  I miss yesterday's Jen.  Because today's Jen, my friends, was not pretty.

For some reason, my kids go on poop strikes.  Addie did it, and now Nolie does it.  The last time Nolie pooped was over a week ago, and now she is paying the price, writhing and contorting, emitting giant bursts of gas like a pissed-off whale with an overactive blowhole.  Then, just when you think the kid is going to explode, she poops.  But you can't just call it a poop--that's too ordinary.  It doesn't capture the scope and scale of the event.  It's a poonami.

I tell people this, and they are horrified.  "That's not right," they say.  "Have you taken her to a doctor?"

Have I taken her to a doctor. 

I live at the doctor's, my friends.  I should pay rent there.

The doctors shrug and insist this is normal.  Breastmilk is so efficient that there's just very little waste.  They can't explain why the babies of my friends who breastfeed poop everyday and mine don't, though.  I'm just lucky that way.

So, we're on day 8 of a Nolie poop strike.  That, mixed in with her vicious runny nose, means that she wants to constantly nurse, and yet can't stay on the boob because she's writhing in pain.  So she latches, then pulls off, screeching, taking my poor nipple with her. 

Here's what last night looked like:

11pm:  Finally get Nolie to sleep in sling.  Got to see the conclusion of Flavor of Love, possibly the worst show on television.  Slip baby as quietly as possible into vibrating chair, since she has to sleep sitting up.  Wakes up immediately if put on her back.  Climb into bed with husband and pass out instantly.

12am:  Nolie wakes up, nurses, doesn't nurse, nurses, doesn't nurse.

1am:  Nolie finally asleep again, sneak her back into vibrating chair.  Collapse into guest bedroom bed.  Pass out instantly.

1:30am:  Nolie wakes up, nurses, doesn't nurse, nurses, doesn't nurse.  Nipples are angry now.  Fall asleep sitting up.

2am:  Addie falls out of bed, screams.  Eric rescues her, but I'm wide awake too, and wake up Nolie, who must nurse, can't nurse, nurses, can't nurse.

4am:  Addie kicks the wall and screams.  She doesn't wake up, but I do.  Back aching now from sleeping sitting up.  Can't nurse lying down because Nolie horks everywhere when I do.  Nolie still on boob, working away at dislocating nipples.

6am:  Nolie needs to nurse, not nurse again.

7am:  Addie up for day.  I'm up for day.

Needless to say, I am not in good shape.  I feel like my head and my body are not actually attached, and every little thing makes me want to cry, which I can't do because my eyes are so dry from not sleeping.

Addie takes two hours to fall asleep for her nap, pooping twice before finally passing out on her little bed.  I lay down with Nolie, trying to force a pacifier into her mouth in order to give my boobs a break.  She gags on the pacifier and projectile vomits two gallons of milk all over the bed, necessitating that I wash the comforter, duvet, pillows, sheets, everything.  This also means that I must start all over with feeding her.  I give up on resting and count every last minute until Eric gets home to rescue me.  Which he does. 

Pray for poop.  Not that I believe in the parenting gods anymore.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Beauty of the Breakthrough

Every once in a while the parenting gods throw you a bone.  You're on the verge of total meltdown, you're investigating the possibility of running away to rural Virginia where no one will think to look for you, you're about to drink an entire Magnum of Yellowtail and eat a whole pan of brownies, when...when a small gift appears.  A gift others might see as inconsequential, ordinary, obvious. 

Maybe your kid sleeps through the night for the first time and you wake up wondering, what is this feeling?  What is this utter lack of exhaustion I'm experiencing?

Or maybe you figure out how to lay the newborn across the boppy just right and prop your laptop up just so that you can simultaneously nurse and type on the keyboard at the same time (even though you'd gotten pretty good at typing with one hand).  So what if your spine may be permanently curved into a soft C?  You can answer email now, by God!

Anyway, here is my little breakthrough:  Last night, I was on a pronounced crying jag, triggered by some hee-haw at the mall asking me when I was due.  I don't even remember how I answered, I was so floored.  Later, I thought up many sharp-witted responses I could have used, mostly consisting of some form of the retort, "I'm not pregnant, bitch!"  So I was feeling my ten pounds of leftover baby weight profoundly, and then didn't eat enough dinner and so felt deprived and hungry and low blood sugary, and then started fretting about everything I wasn't accomplishing in life.  How I have so much work to do and Nolie is sick again and so I'll be home with a sick baby all day and only able to watch reality tv and never be able to accomplish anything ever again. 

Eric just listened, and told me I wasn't fat, and that he wasn't going to leave me because I was ten pounds overweight--wouldn't if I was 100 pounds bigger, he said--and gently told me that, in the hee-haw's defense, my wearing a maternity shirt may have led her to assume I was pregnant.  And that we would figure out some time for me to get work done.

I got up this morning knowing I couldn't take Nolie to Debbie's because of the snot fountain, so I decided, screw it.  The baby and I would stay in bed, and that I would bring the laptop to bed, and that I would just nurse her all day, which is what she wants when she's sick, and I would try to get work done when she dozed off.

Lo and behold!  I am PRODUCTIVE!  I clean out my email inbox, get an article reviewed, get a meeting planned, review a book, on and on.  I even eat my lunch in bed.  I may do yoga in it this afternoon.  I may never leave it.  Sure, it will begin to stink eventually, and when Nolie is, say, six or seven, she may protest my keeping her here, but I'm in LOVE with my bed and my baby.  I'm in love with my laptop.  I'm in love with me. 

Experience tells me that this probably won't work tomorrow, but who cares!  My therapist would remind me that my self-worth isn't tied to my weight or my so-called productivity levels, but who cares!  I have today!  I answered emails with two hands!  Thank you, parenting gods!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Snot Pockets



Um, did I say toddlerspit?  Correction.  That should be toddlersnot.  And baby snot.  And husband snot.  And my own damned snot. 

 WARNING:  Much complaining ahead.

I can't remember the last time everyone in our house was healthy.  Back in September Ought-Six, Addie started with the runny nose.  Then Eric got the cold, then I did.  For a split second, it looked as if everyone was getting better, then Addie's cold turned into an ear infection and pink eye, Nolie got sick and had to go to the e.r., and I got what would become a month-long sinus infection.  Then Eric gets a papilloma on his throat and has to go into surgery and is currently hacking up quarter-size blood boogers (he also has a deviated septum, which will need to be fixed, too).  Addie's nose is still running like a fountain and this morning Nolie woke up sneezing out giant streams of snot.  I am trying to remember to take my Amoxycillin three times a day so that my ear doesn't gurgle at night while my sinuses drain into it.  We are a veritable water park of respiratory afflictions. 

I hate all this.  I personally am a total wuss when I'm sick, and Eric is unpleasant (and won't admit he is, which is the worst part).  Addie is a bitter little pill when she's not feeling good, and Nolie just attaches herself to the boob 24-7.  Friends without kids offer unhelpful advice, like that we should drink more green tea.  Friends with kids tell us the truth:  that until these children are safely ensconced in dorm rooms, we will all be sick.  Forever.

This is especially unfortunate given that I am supposed to be back at work, sort of, and yet can only currently find six hours a week to get anything done, which is just enough time to answer emails, go pee, and logout.  The rest of the time I am cleaning up snot, or ferrying people back and forth to the doctor's office, or trying not to be resentful of the whole situation. 

I am grateful that new seasons of crappy reality tv are beginning on VH1.  What did we ever do without cable?  Read?  Talk to each other?  Totally overrated.  When you feel like crap and the skin beneath your nose has completely flaked off and you are knee-deep in used kleenex, what you really need is a good hour of Breaking Bonaduce to put things in perspective.


Saturday, October 21, 2006

Why toddlerspit?

This is a picture of Addie when she was 15 months old; see how cute she is?  Waving and smiling in her little summer dress and sandals?  See that huge wet spot on her front?  That's drool.  That wet spot is a constant in our lives.

Addie is two and a half now, which she indicates by holding her pinky and ring finger up.  You can be having a conversation about whatever and she'll suddenly interrupt you, urgent and intense, and yell "That's two!", holding those fingers in your face.  Yes, it is two, indeed. 

That drool spot hasn't gone away.  Addie's Dad and I are often asking Addie to "wipe her chin" or "close her mouth."  We have to put neosporin on her face a lot of the time because it gets so incredibly dry and red from being wet all the time.  She can't eat any food that is overly acidic, like oranges or tomatoes, because it aggravates her chin so much that she breaks out in hives.

We have no idea what causes the drooling.  For a long time we thought it was teething, of course.  But all the teeth are in, and the drool continues.  It triples in intensity when Addie has a runny nose, maybe because she has to breathe through her mouth.  Being a preschooler and an inveterate mouther of everything in her path, she constantly has a runny nose, so the drool is constantly tripled.  But we don't know if there's something else going on.  At this point, our best guess is that it's behavioral.

For example:  Addie's old enough now to have irrational fears.  Last night, our normally excellent sleeper screamed and screamed in her bed because her "door was making noises."  Both her Dad and I sat in there and listened; we were stymied until we figured out it was the clicking of the portable oil-run heater we have in her room.  As the oil in the coils heats up, it sometimes bubbles and pops--a pretty mellow sound, but probably spooky sounding to a toddler.  Once we figured it out, I vowed to turn her heater off, and she made me promise no less than five times that I would not turn it back on (which promise, by the way, I had to break later; if you leave our central heating on all night, we get a $400 utility bill, so space heaters are our saving grace in the wintertime.  But I waited until she was well asleep).

All this by way of saying that I had to rock her in the rocking chair for a good long time to get her to calm down enough to go back to bed.  Which is another way of saying that I was covered in toddlerspit and a quart of snot by the time I got up.  To my credit, I think, I didn't wipe it off--at least not immediately.  I was too busy marveling at this big kid who has fears now.  Who, when I asked her to stop crying so that I could understand what she was saying, lowered her voice and spoke very slowly, trying very hard not to cry, about her door making sounds, even though tears were still pouring out of her eyes.  My big, big girl.  With a big, big droolspot.

So, this blog is about my two girls--Addie (2 1/2) and Nolie (11 weeks) and their Dad and me.  And our dog Burley and cats Sadie (Say-Say) and Prudence (Pru-Pru).  But mostly about how I'm trying to deal with this life of mine as a borderline obsessive-compulsive, constantly covered in toddler goo.  Enjoy.