Saturday, November 24, 2007

The All Screaming Sleep Solution

Last Saturday marked our third visit to the doctor for Nuala in less than a week.

Monday: ear infection. Kept me up enough of the night that I wanted to harm someone and hoped it would be me.

Tuesday: 6 month well baby check up. Baby is well. (Ears still red.) 13 lbs 10 oz.

Saturday: nothing wrong except my parenting. Ears no longer red. N weighs 13 lbs 14.5 oz. She kept me up enough of the night that I suspect I was going to harm someone and the most likely victim was the porcelain I was grinding off my teeth.

She’s biting me. BITING me. Hard. With no teeth. She is probably teething, but there’s nothing more traumatic at 2 am than trying to soothe an unhappy baby by nursing her and getting bit hard on the nipple.

So no more nursing for comfort for a while (ever?).

The kindly nurse also told me that at 6 months there were developmental milestones she was hitting and she was probably waking to practice, and waking to check on the location of her minions, and making sure they did her bidding at any moment. Well, okay, that’s my interpretation. Still. I am so unhappy with the quantity and quality of sleep I’ve gotten lately that I am about three inches from the end of my frayed rope.

When Q was just slightly older than this, we adapted a Ferber strategy and within a week he was not only sleeping through the night, falling asleep on his own, but cranked his bedtime back from 8:30 to 7:30. We barely knew what to do with the evening to ourselves. (We figured it out.) So it’s time to do this with kid 2. And if you think I’m cruel, I’ll call you up at 2:30 am next time she wakes and screams for an hour and you can talk me through my suicidal thoughts and call social services on the other line to protect this child.

So we're on Night 6 of the All Screaming Sleep Solution, and it's going alarmingly well. The first night was absolutely awful, but, in truth, it was not much worse than the nights when she'd simply start screaming at me for whatever reason that I could not determine at 3 am. At least I knew why she was upset. She screamed for approximately 5 hours (in shifts). Brutal.

Nights 2-4 saw approximately 30 minutes of screaming. Night 5 had less than 10 minutes. Tonight had about 30. She's been waking about 5:30 in the morning, but since she's already been asleep about 11 hours, how can I really blame her? I'm trying to coax her to sleep another 30 to 60 minutes... and maybe I'll get my way. Or maybe not.

(Photo is of N in an outfit selected by Q. J suggested Q get to pick out N's clothes for all future dates.)

Friday, November 23, 2007

Theater Widow

We haven't seen much of J lately. We've missed him. But now that the first play (there are three he's featured in) has been performed, we're figuring out what we need to do so that we won't miss him so much during the next one.

The play was terrific- a recently written trilogy (the first: "Last Train to Nibroc") about a couple during World War II. An audience member behind me described it beautifully as, "like watching a classic film." It's funny- which is good, since J is funny. And romantic- which is bad because he's too convincing at being romantic and it makes me want to hit him. The second play in the trilogy by Arlene Hutton is slated to be performed in February ("See Rock City"), followed by the third in May ("Gulf View Drive"). See: The New Main Street Theater

A week later we're still hashing and rehashing how the performances went. I saw two of the three performances, and, if I accept J's judgment, missed the best one. But I've been running lines with J since September (that's helping him learn his lines by reading the other lines) and listening to him discuss the issues faced by the characters to the point where it's a little hard to remember that they weren't real people. J keeps shaking his head in disappointment that he won't get to perform "The Last Train to Nibroc" again.

When I met J, he was a theater major. His concentration was in directing. But after the first year we dated (his last year of college), his involvement with theater was miniscule. This role is huge. Perhaps in a small theater, in a small town, but this is an area with a lot of support for theater, and with high expectations and standards.

Reading the lines with J, I watched him develop the meaning behind the words until they made sense. The first time I heard JR running lines for her character, I had to hide my smile because she'd breathed life into them that I hadn't felt in simply reading the script. I wanted to cheer, "Yes! That's what May would sound like!"

What I had never realized about acting, especially in a play like this, with only two characters, is the amount of intense trust required between actors. They're on a trapeze, and if they fly off their swing, they have to trust that their partner is there to catch them. If they miss a line or cue, they rely on the other actor to think fast- extending their hands to catch the unexpected release. They are lost, or saved, together on the stage.

It was unnerving to watch the first night of performance. I saw it happen: a missed line that led them to the wrong set of cues. And then, I saw them catch each other and swing back into place.

The weeks leading up to the performance were tough on us. J has been working, trading off on child care with me, and rehearsing every chance he got. I was getting up early with the kids, working, taking back the kids, and staying up late to see J before falling asleep. (J's line: Milking the cow on both ends.) And the day I found out that they'd decided the play called for a kiss was a very, very bad day for me.

Also hard was the simple fact that J was charging off to rehearse, full of energy, passion and happiness. Other women were sharing all of his enthusiasm and attention. Not to mention that he was awake. Actually, hard doesn't really begin to scratch it. I was home alone with the kids feeling boring, cranky, jealous and lonely.

Within a marriage, we are also trapeze artists, trusting that when we let go, our partner is there to catch us. Trusting that our relationship is more important than one skirmish or point. One fact always remained clear to me. This is the first time, in our entire marriage, that I have ever seen J genuinely happy.

And in that moment of the first performance, as she grabbed his hand and drug him to safety, my heart eased and I could have kissed her myself.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

November Creeps In

I call this photo "Angry Noodle." Note how company on the floor does not make her any happier about tummy time.

In an attempt to make a long Saturday less tedious with a child who sounds like he's about to go round two with winter colds, I offered him paints, something I prefer to offer outside. This bought me at least an hour of happy time after lunch. My real stroke of brilliance, however, came when I gave him his father's tool catalog. Full out bliss. I should be alarmed that he knows the name of so many tools. Including what a circular saw blade is.

This evening I was feeding N downstairs as Q went potty, yet again, after being put to bed. Since this was the third time in about 5 minutes, I was starting to get impatient with his delay tactics (which are crafty since he really does use the potty on some of the trips). I was ignoring him when I realized he was singing a song to the tune of Raffi's "Shake my Sillies Out." It went, "Help, Help, Help, My Help, Help."

Little N is starting to really bloom. She hasn't resembled a troll in months, and her impish grin is winning her admirers wherever we go. Friday we went to the library during Story Time and after children's madhouse hour, I packed her and Q up to go home. As I put Q into his jacket, two small girls admired her in her car seat as their mother watched on. Then N let out a scream of rage. Apparently the two year old had given into that small child urge and simply bopped N on the head. Her poor mother. N was fine, of course, and I earned some serious parenting karma by not flipping out. Or even getting upset. There but for chance, go I...

In case you've not heard, J is starring in a play which is being performed this week, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. He's been working hard and I'm really looking forward to seeing it all come together. Website for details:

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Where's N?

On the Q front: he wrote his name for the first time today, with next to no coaching, and no prior demonstration (to me at least) of letter writing other than the letter “Q”. I grinned all morning.

Sometimes I forget that N, in addition to being nearly twice her birth weight and able to eat mushy food, is also making subtle developmental gains. Lately she’s taken to grabbing things. I keep looking at her puzzled. “Why would you do that? You’re suppose to hang out aimlessly while I make my lunch, not stick your hands in the chummus.”

This evening though, we had a delightful little step. I’d read recently that babies at this age start comprehending hide and seek. I tried it once with no real response. But tonight, she was lying in the bassinet, and I tossed a blanket over her head. “Where’s N?” I pulled it off. “There she is!” The next time I wasn’t fast enough and she pulled it off herself, giggling as I responded. Giggling and full body happy wriggling as we repeated the game again and again, with Q joining in, sometimes hiding himself, sometimes hiding N.

A smiley evening ending with reading two chapters of Winnie the Pooh, and a delivery of groceries (too exciting to fall asleep during, I acknowledged). Not all nights are hard.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Big Boy Little Boy

Sometimes you have 48 hours in which you realize that you can no longer take for granted your child’s lack of skills to keep him safe.

Arriving at Grandma’s yesterday, Q leaned forward and chatted at me. Glancing back I realized he had released his own seat belt. I have no idea when. I sternly told him that he was not to do that when the car was moving, etc. etc.

Running errands a few hours later, he popped it open when I stopped. I left the kids in the car for a few minutes and came back. I later discovered that Q then, or at some point in the car ride, had also released the seat belt that holds N’s car seat. Oh Joy.

Q continued to channel Houdini. This morning he finally figured out, through sheer persistence, perhaps, how to open the gate at the top of the stairs. Wonderful. He can’t tie his own shoes, but he can open a gate that I have to wrestle and swear at.

These events have been bracketed by moments which pointedly depict how very little Q still is.

This evening, after many meltdowns, J and I simply had to cut the bedtime routine short and put the boy to bed. He screamed and screamed and then decided to sleep in the other bed and calmed down and fell asleep hard. About an hour later, I heard a loud thud followed by screaming. Panicked that he’d fallen out of the big bed, I raced upstairs. From what I can tell, he simply whacked something (his head?) against the wall. But he was screaming without any real rhyme or reason that I could determine.

I tried shifting him, holding him, rocking him, but the brief calm moments in which he’d settle down were always followed by more wailing. Finally he managed to explain that he had to go potty. I helped him in there, where he sat, eyes glazed and even shutting. Poor little boy.

Saturday night little Q managed to get up to use the potty before he fell asleep. We’d lost electricity, so he had the novel pleasure of his own flashlight, which I’d let him take to bed. He happily called down to me, “I’m going potty, Mommy!” as he scampered into the bathroom, an activity which I suspect is half need, half bedtime delay, but since it’s self initiated potty use, I’m loathe to discourage him.

A few minutes later I heard him crying in distress and rushed up the dark stairs. When you lose electricity this time of year, it’s really dark. “What’s wrong honey?” I asked.

“I dropped my flashlight!” He wailed.

Assuming the round flashlight had rolled under a bed or the sink, I reassured him, “That’s okay. We’ll find it. Where did you drop it?”

Snuffling, “In the potty.”

I looked in the potty, and, sure enough, lighting up the interior of the pot is his little plastic light wand. I sat on the floor of the bathroom and laughed uncontrollably.